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On the Sublime   By: (1st cent.)

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[Transcriber's Note: The printed text shows most sections (Roman numerals) as a continuous block, with chapter numbers in the margin. In this e text, chapters are given as separate paragraphs determined by sentence breaks, with continuing quotation marks supplied where necessary. Except for footnotes, any brackets are from the original text. Greek has been transliterated and shown between marks.]



Translated into English by

H. L. HAVELL, B.A. Formerly Scholar of University College, Oxford

with an Introduction by ANDREW LANG

London MACMILLAN AND CO. and New York 1890

All rights reserved


S. H. BUTCHER, Esq., LL.D.

Professor of Greek in the University of Edinburgh Formerly Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge and of University College, Oxford

This Attempt to Present the Great Thoughts of Longinus in an English Form

Is Dedicated

in Acknowledgment of the Kind Support but for Which It Might Never Have Seen the Light and of the Benefits of That Instruction to Which It Largely Owes Whatever of Scholarly Quality It May Possess


The text which has been followed in the present Translation is that of Jahn (Bonn, 1867), revised by Vahlen, and republished in 1884. In several instances it has been found necessary to diverge from Vahlen's readings, such divergencies being duly pointed out in the Notes.

One word as to the aim and scope of the present Translation. My object throughout has been to make Longinus speak in English, to preserve, as far as lay in my power, the noble fire and lofty tone of the original. How to effect this, without being betrayed into a loose paraphrase, was an exceedingly difficult problem. The style of Longinus is in a high degree original, occasionally running into strange eccentricities of language; and no one who has not made the attempt can realise the difficulty of giving anything like an adequate version of the more elaborate passages. These considerations I submit to those to whom I may seem at first sight to have handled my text too freely.

My best thanks are due to Dr. Butcher, Professor of Greek in the University of Edinburgh, who from first to last has shown a lively interest in the present undertaking which I can never sufficiently acknowledge. He has read the Translation throughout, and acting on his suggestions I have been able in numerous instances to bring my version into a closer conformity with the original.

I have also to acknowledge the kindness of the distinguished writer who has contributed the Introduction, and who, in spite of the heavy demands on his time, has lent his powerful support to help on the work of one who was personally unknown to him.

In conclusion, I may be allowed to express a hope that the present attempt may contribute something to reawaken an interest in an unjustly neglected classic.


The Treatise on the Sublime may be divided into six Parts, as follows:

I. cc. i, ii. The Work of Caecilius. Definition of the Sublime. Whether Sublimity falls within the rules of Art.

II. cc. iii v. [The beginning lost.] Vices of Style opposed to the Sublime: Affectation, Bombast, False Sentiment, Frigid Conceits. The cause of such defects.

III. cc. vi, vii. The true Sublime, what it is, and how distinguishable.

IV. cc. viii xl. Five Sources of the Sublime (how Sublimity is related to Passion, c. viii, ยงยง 2 4).

(i.) Grandeur of Thought, cc. ix xv.

a. As the natural outcome of nobility of soul. Examples (c. ix).

b. Choice of the most striking circumstances... Continue reading book >>

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