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Last Reviewed on September 20, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 408

The Sense of Beauty by George Santayana deals with the nature of aesthetics in terms of its value, substance, form, and other attributes. Several prominent literary and historical figures are mentioned in the book.

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Achilles

Achilles was a Greek hero who played a crucial role in the Trojan War; he is mentioned by Santayana as an example of an idealized man whose actions stem from a strength of character and soul that is greater than the combination of salient attributes found in most people. Santayana states that any character endowed with the beauty and virtue of Achilles can easily be deified and mythologized and can come to be viewed as a manifestation of the divine.

John Keats

John Keats was an English Romantic poet. He died young, at the age of twenty-five, but his odes and sonnets have remained popular for the past two hundred years.

Santayana says that the senses of taste and smell cannot be as easily objectified and categorized as the sense of sound—for example, music can be appreciated through notations and the choice of instruments. Yet poets have always been drawn to presenting beauty as an attribute of taste and smell. He cites lines from Keats’s “The Eve of St. Agnes” as an example. Here, the poet invokes sensual pleasures by writing about candied apple, cinnamon-flavored syrups, and spiced delicacies arriving from Samarkand and Lebanon.

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare is regarded as the greatest playwright in the English language. The author mentions Shakespeare’s works to buttress his point that works of great beauty are characterized by an eye for...

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