Sources of Sublime by Longinus| Five sources of Sublimity by Cassius Longinus| Critical Theory


📄Contents :-

Five Sources of Sublimity/Sublime by Cassius Longinus
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💡What is Sublime?

On the Sublime, a work arguably by Cassius Longinus, is a great work in the field of literary criticism and comes second only to Aristotle's famous work poetics. This work is most famous for it's detailed description on the five principle sources of Sublimity.

Longinus  was a Graeco-Roman thinker and philosopher. He was greatly influenced by Plato. Scott-James has called him the first romantic critic as he laid emphasis on the creative faculty of man. In his work On the Sublime  Longinus talks about the concept of sublimity, its nature, sources and how one could achieve sublimity in a work.

According to Longinus SublimeSublimity is a certain 'loftiness' and 'excellence' of language by achieving which the great poets and prose writers become immortal. It is an elevation from the ordinary level. It is the trait of not to persuade the readers but to transport or morally elevate them.

According to Longinus, a great literature is not composed only for pleasure or giving shape to thoughts but to raise the reader from his levels or elevate him; and this elevation of him is called the Sublime. He differentiate  art in two types- the Natural and artificial or true and false Sublime. Artificial work is stuffed with irrelevant figure of speech, false and fake ornamentation. It can not achieve sublimity. It is characterized by timidity and bombastic language with cheap passion. It annoys the reader. On the other hand the Natural work or true sublime comes from the nature itself it gives the complete happiness and uplifts the soul.

📔Sources of Sublimity / Sublime :-

Longinus discusses five principal sources of Sublimity/ sublime which are as follows :-
  1. Grandeur of Thought,
  2. Powerful emotions,
  3. Appropriate use of figures of speech,
  4. Nobility of Diction,
  5. Dignified Composition.
Of these five sources the first two are inborn gifts of nature and rest can be acquired through art.

1) Grandeur of Thought :-

One of the primary sources of the Sublimity/sublime is grand thought. Longinus tells that no sublime work can be produced without greatness of thoughts. Great thoughts come only from great souls.  Works of men with mean and servile purpose can not achieve sublime. Sublimity requires  virtuous purpose and skilful organization of thoughts. It brings to light the poet's/author's great imagination and ability of his noble mind.

                Longinus also talks about the imitation as one of the ways to achieve Sublime as earlier great thinkers have also used imitation to make a great piece of art.

2) Strong Emotion/Passion :-

The second source for the sublime is strong and inspired passion.  Strong emotion and earnest passion is a gift of nature to poet for making a work sublime. According to Longinus nothing contributes to the greatness of a work than a genuine and true emotion at a perfect place. 

          Unfortunately the subject of emoticon was to be dealt with details in his second book but that has not come down to us.

Sr. Read More in Literary Criticism and Theories (Click Below 👇)
1 Aristotle's Theory of Tragedy.
2 Aristotle's Theory of Catharsis.
3 Aristotle's Theory of poetic imitation.
4 Sources of Sublimity by Cassius Longinus.
5 Rasa Theory in Bharat Muni's Natyashashtra.

3) Appropriate figures of speech :-

The third principal source of attaining sublime is relevant and proper use of figures of speech. Longinus considers it extremely important as  nearly one third of his work is devoted to it. Figures of speech must not be employed mechanically rather they should be used in a natural manner, emanating from  a genuine and true emotion. Use of figures must be well connected with thoughts and emotions, an artificial  application of them will make the work indecent. In the words of Longinus, " The grandeur of figurative language  depends on its being employed in the right place and right manner, on the right occasion and with the right motive."
              The rhetorical questions, hyperbaton, asyndeton, periphrasis are the chief figures that make for sublimity.

4) Nobility of Diction :-

Noble diction is another very important source of Sublimity/ sublime. It contains the proper choice and implementation of words and use of metaphors to embellish the language. Proper choice of right words is crucial for attaining sublime as their contribution is vital in leading the reader to ecstasy. A proper usage of them give certain charm, beauty and nobility to a work. According to Longinus words have a moving and seductive effect upon the readers.

                  However Longinus warns against imposing the language at all occasions. The use of grand and striking words in a work dealing with trivial subject will turn out to be unnatural and dishonest. Longinus considers metaphor and hyperbole among the ornaments of speech.

5) Dignity of Composition :-

Dignified composition is the fifth source of sublime/Sublimity it means the harmonious and proper arrangement of the words. It is a complete integration and proper blending of above four sources that produces a harmonious whole. A dignified composition has not only the power of persuasion and giving pleasure but also the power of exalting the soul  and swaying the hearts of men. A harmonious composition, sometimes, alone can offset the insufficiency of other elements. It gives the work an organic unity with all five sources seen in a single perspective.
                Thus, the work on the sublime is an excellent work and has placed Longinus among the masters of literary criticism. His principles on sublime is of paramount importance and are universal.

📖More in Critical Theory :-

  1. Concept of Rasa in Natyashastra.
  2. Aristotle's theory of Catharsis.
  3. Aristotle's theory of Poetic Imitation.
  4. Aristotle's theory of tragedy.
  5. Privious Year question paper of Critical Theory.

🏛️Frequently Asked Questions :-

1) What are the sources of sublimity in On the Subline?

Answer- In on the sublime Cassius Longinus has discussed give principle sources of sublimity. He asserted them of ultimate significance for achieving sublime in a work. According to him five sources of sublimity are as follows:

(1) Grand Thought,

(2) Powerful emotions,

(3) Relecant use of figures of speech,

(4) Noble Diction,

(5) Dignified Composition.

2) What according to Longinus is the most important source of sublime?

Answer- The most important source of sublime, according to longinus, is the loftiness of thought and mind.

3) How many principal sources of sublimity does Longinus trace?

Answer- Longinus traces five principal sources of sublimity.

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