What are the sources of sublimity in On the Sublime?

The sources of sublimity in On the Sublime are great thoughts, strong emotions, certain figures of thought and speech, noble diction, and dignified word arrangement. The final one of these is a synthesis of the previous four.

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Great thoughts. In order to produce a sublime work, one must have sublime thoughts. No one whose life consists of mean thoughts and servile ideas and habits can possibly do anything admirable or worthy of an immortal life.

In order to cultivate great thoughts, it is necessary to acquaint oneself with the undisputed masters such as Homer, Plato, and Demosthenes. This is not mere imitation, but, as Longinus puts it, catching fire from the spirit of others.

Strong emotions. The sublime also emerges out of powerful emotions. But these are not just any emotions; they must be true emotions in the right place. If this can be done, then the words of the writer will be inspired by divine frenzy.

Certain figures of thought and speech. Figures of speech must not be used mechanically; they must be rooted in the true emotion that we examined above. They must also be employed judiciously, used at the right time and in the right place to heighten the grandeur of the text. If figures of speech and thought are...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 949 words.)

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