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Longinus or Pseudo-Longinus is the name conventionally given to the author of an influential work of literary criticism, On the Sublime, the author's real name being unknown. He wrote in Greek and probably lived in the 1st century AD.


On the Sublime

Quotations are taken from the translation by W. H. Fyfe, revised by Donald Russell, included in vol. 199 of the Loeb Classical Library ISBN 0-674-99563-5.

  • Genius needs the curb as often as the spur.
    • Ch. 2, p. 165.
  • The images make for confusion rather than forcefulness. Examine each in the light of day and it gradually sinks from the terrible to the ridiculous.
    • Ch. 3, p. 167.
  • To miss a high aim is to fail without shame.
    • Ch. 3, p. 169.
  • There are, one may say, some five most productive sources of the sublime in literature, the common groundwork, as it were, of all five being competence in speaking, without which nothing can be done. The first and most powerful is the power of grand conceptions…and the second is the inspiration of vehement emotion.
    • Ch. 8, p. 181.
  • The other three come partly from art, namely the proper construction of figures – these being of course of two kinds, figures of thought and figures of speech – and, over and above these, nobility of language…The fifth cause of grandeur, which gives form to all those already mentioned, is dignified and elegant word-arrangement.
    • Ch. 8, p. 181.
  • Sublimity is the echo of a noble mind.
    • Ch. 9, p. 185.


  • Thee, bold Longinus! all the Nine inspire,
    And bless their Critick with a Poet's Fire.
    An ardent Judge, who Zealous in his Trust,
    With Warmth gives Sentence, yet is always Just;
    Whose own Example strengthens all his Laws,
    And Is himself that great Sublime he draws.

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