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 separated from the emotions, then they will also become divorced from sublimity.
Noble diction. Diction involves word choice, and word choice must be used with care and discrimination if it is to partake of the sublime. Such words have great rhetorical value in that they have a seductive effect upon the reader. This is because they lend a sort of glittering charm to writing in keeping with its lofty, elevated subject matter.
Dignified word arrangement. The fifth source of the sublime is the arrangement of words. This is largely a synthesis of the previous four sources of the sublime that we’ve already examined. It is a harmonious blend of thoughts, emotions, figures of speech, and the words themselves.
The proper arrangement of words makes it possible for the reader or the hearer to share in the emotions of the speaker or writer. It also possesses a natural power of persuasion and giving people pleasure.