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Classical and Romantic Criticism

Mulungushi University
School of Education
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Mulungushi University
School of Education
The Mulungushi University School of Education/Literature and Languages Department wishes to
thank those below for their contribution to this Module:

Mzizi S. Kantini
Gankhanani M. Moyo
About this Module 1
How this Module is structured .......................................................................................... 1

Course overview 3
Welcome to Literary Theory and Criticism: Classical and Romantic Criticism .............. 3
Literary Theory and Criticism: Classical and Romantic Criticismis this course for
you? ................................................................................................................................... 3
Course outcomes ............................................................................................................... 3
Timeframe ......................................................................................................................... 4
Study skills ........................................................................................................................ 4
Need help? ........................................................................................................................ 5
Assessments ...................................................................................................................... 6

Getting around this Module 7

Margin icons ..................................................................................................................... 7

Unit 1 9
CLASSICAL CRITICISM ............................................................................................... 9
Introduction ............................................................................................................. 9
Objectives .............................................................................................................. 10
What Classical Criticism Is ................................................................................... 10
Classical Critics ..................................................................................................... 11
Plato ..................................................................................................... 12
Aristotle ............................................................................................... 12
Longinus .............................................................................................. 12
Horace .................................................................................................. 13
Importance of Classical Criticism ......................................................................... 13
Unit summary ................................................................................................................. 14
Assignment ..................................................................................................................... 14
Assessment...................................................................................................................... 15

QUIZ 1 15
References ....................................................................................................................... 15

Unit 2 16
PLATOS THEORY OF MIMESIS ............................................................................... 16
Introduction ........................................................................................................... 16
Mimesis or Imitation ............................................................................................. 16
Platos View of Imitation ...................................................................................... 17
Aristotle's Reply to Plato's Objection .................................................................... 18
Aristotle's Objection to the Theory of Mimesis .................................................... 20
Unit Summary ................................................................................................................. 20
Assignment ..................................................................................................................... 21
Assessment...................................................................................................................... 21
References ....................................................................................................................... 22

Unit 3 25
ARISTOTLES TRAGEDY ........................................................................................... 25
Introduction ........................................................................................................... 25
Concept of Tragedy ............................................................................................... 26
Definition of Tragedy .................................................................................. 27
Formative Elements of Tragedy ............................................................................ 29
The Tragic Hero ........................................................................................... 31
Characteristics of Tragic Hero ........................................................ 31
Hamartia ............................................................................................. 33
The Three Unities .................................................................................................. 33
Unit summary ................................................................................................................. 34
Assessment...................................................................................................................... 35
References ....................................................................................................................... 36

Unit 4 38
LONGINUS ON THE SUBLIME ................................................................................. 38
Introduction ........................................................................................................... 38
The Sublime .......................................................................................................... 39
Unit summary ................................................................................................................. 40
Assignment ..................................................................................................................... 41
References ....................................................................................................................... 41

Unit 5 42
HORACE ON THE ART OF POETRY ...................................................................... 42
Introduction ........................................................................................................... 42
Characterisation ..................................................................................................... 42
Choice of Language............................................................................................... 43
Metre and Versification ......................................................................................... 43
Aesthetics and Didacticism ................................................................................... 43
Unit summary ................................................................................................................. 45
Assignment ..................................................................................................................... 45
References ....................................................................................................................... 45

Unit 6 46
ROMANTICISM CRITICISM ...................................................................................... 46
Introduction ........................................................................................................... 46
Meaning and Historical Overview ........................................................................ 47
Chief Features of Romanticism Criticism ............................................................. 49
Unit summary ................................................................................................................. 50
Assignment ..................................................................................................................... 50
References ....................................................................................................................... 50

Appendix 1 51
Platos The Republic (an extract) .............................................................................. 51

Appendix 2 66
Aristotles Poetics (an extract).................................................................................... 66

Appendix 3 73
Longinus On the Sublime (Books 1 9)................................................................... 73

Appendix 4 78
Horace On the Art of Poetry (an extract) .................................................................. 78

Appendix 5 80
Wordsworths Preface to Lyrical Ballads .................................................................. 80
About this MODULE 1
Literary Theory and Criticism: Classical and Romantic Criticism has
been produced by Mulungushi University. All Modules produced by
Mulungushi University are structured in the same way, as outlined below.

How this Module is structured

The course overview
The course overview gives you a general introduction to the course.
Information contained in the course overview will help you determine:
If the course is suitable for you.
What you will already need to know.
What you can expect from the course.
How much time you will need to invest to complete the course.
The overview also provides guidance on:
Study skills.
Where to get help.
Course assignments and assessments.
Activity icons.

We strongly recommend that you read the overview carefully before

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The course content

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An introduction to the unit content.
Unit outcomes.
New terminology.
Core content of the unit with a variety of learning activities.
A unit summary.
Assignments and/or assessments, as applicable.

For those interested in learning more on this subject, we provide you with
a list of additional resources at the end of each unit; these may be books,
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Your constructive feedback will help us to improve and enhance this
Course overview

Welcome to Literary Theory and

Criticism: Classical and Romantic
This is Module 1. It focuses on Classical and Romantic criticism. Module
2 will focus on Modern Literary Criticism.

Literary Theory and Criticism:

Classical and Romantic
Criticismis this course for you?
This course is intended for people who are teachers, researchers and
lovers of literature. The course simply focuses on the core tenets and
application of the theories and criticism and not so much the history of
the theory. It is important however that you read into the history of the
respective theories for your own benefit. Both module 1 and 2 do not
cover other literary theories including Pre-classical (African) Theory and
Criticism, Medieval Theory and Criticism, Enlightenment Theory and
Criticism, Renaissance Theory and Criticism and Victorian Theory and

There are no prerequisites required for this course.

Course outcomes
Upon completion of this course, you should be able to demonstrate:
An understanding of the classical and romantic approaches to
literary criticism, their aims, central critical concepts and terminology.
An understanding of the basic theoretical concepts underlying of
Outcomes the classical and romantic approaches to literature and of the major
differences and similarities between them;
Knowledge of the methods and materials of literary research;
ability to conduct literary research according to established
procedures and to use such research effectively in their teaching
and everyday life.
Ability to generate and articulate personal responses to literary
and critical texts, and to explain the premises and assumptions
underlying such personal responses.

This is a semester course.
You are expected to spend three hours of lectures and one hour tutorial
every week.
How long? In your own time, you need to spend at least three hours of personal study
per week.

Study skills
As an adult learner your approach to learning will be different to that
from your school days: you will choose what you want to study, you will
have professional and/or personal motivation for doing so and you will
most likely be fitting your study activities around other professional or
domestic responsibilities.
Essentially you will be taking control of your learning environment. As a
consequence, you will need to consider performance issues related to
time management, goal setting, stress management, etc. Perhaps you will
also need to reacquaint yourself in areas such as essay planning, coping
with exams and using the web as a learning resource.
Your most significant considerations will be time and space i.e. the time
you dedicate to your learning and the environment in which you engage
in that learning.
We recommend that you take time nowbefore starting your self-
studyto familiarize yourself with these issues. There are a number of
excellent resources on the web. A few suggested links are:
The How to study web site is dedicated to study skills resources.
You will find links to study preparation (a list of nine essentials for a
good study place), taking notes, strategies for reading text books,
using reference sources, test anxiety.
This is the web site of the Virginia Tech, Division of Student Affairs.
You will find links to time scheduling (including a where does time
go? link), a study skill checklist, basic concentration techniques,
control of the study environment, note taking, how to read essays for
analysis, memory skills (remembering).
Another How to study web site with useful links to time
management, efficient reading, questioning/listening/observing skills,
getting the most out of doing (hands-on learning), memory building,
tips for staying motivated, developing a learning plan.
The above links are our suggestions to start you on your way. At the time
of writing these web links were active. If you want to look for more go to and type self-study basics, self-study tips, self-
study skills or similar.

Need help?
Contact the School of Education Department Literature and Languages
for any help.

This course has continuous assessment tasks and a final examination. The
continuous assessment will include mid-semester
test, class and tutorial attendance, participation in
Assessments presentations.
Certain tasks in this course will be self-assessment and others teacher-
marked assessments or both.
There will be weekly assessments for every topic covered. Also, at the
end of each unit there will be an assignment. The assignments may be
oral, written, video format or photographic as may be advised.
Getting around this Module

Margin icons
While working through this MODULE 1 you will notice the frequent use
of margin icons. These icons serve to signpost a particular piece of text,
a new task or change in activity; they have been included to help you find
your way around this Module.
A complete icon set is shown below. We suggest that you familiarize
yourself with the icons and their meaning before starting your study.

Activity Assessment Assignment Case study

Discussion Group activity Help Note it!

Outcomes Reading Reflection Study skills

Summary Terminology Time Tip

Unit 1
Literature communicates two things: power and knowledge. In this
course we shall study that power and knowledge including their
evaluation. Literature is also known as creative writing particularly
when it communicates power and the evaluation of creative writing
is referred to as criticism.
The critical enquiry had begun almost in the 4th century B.C. in
Greece. Plato, the great disciple of Socrates, was the first critic who
examined poetry as a part of his moral philosophy. Plato was
basically a moral philosopher and not a literary critic. Platos
critical observations on poetry lie scattered in The Ion, The
Symposium, The Republic and The Laws. In The Ion, he advocated
poetry as a genuine piece of imaginative literature, but in The
Republic which is a treatise on his concepts of Ideal State, he
rejected poetry on moral and philosophical grounds.
Plato was a great moral philosopher and his primary concentration
was to induce moral values in the society and to seek the ultimate
Truth. So when he examines poetry his tool is rather moral and not
aesthetic. He confused aesthetics with morality and ultimately
concluded poetry as immoral and imitative in nature. On the other
hand, Aristotle the most distinguished disciple of Plato was a
critic, scholar, logician and practical philosopher. The master was
an inspired genius every way greater than the disciple except in
logic, analysis and common sense. He is known for his critical
treatises: (i) The Poetics and (ii) The Rhetoric, dealing with art of
poetry and art of speaking, respectively. Aristotle examines poetry
as a form of art and evaluates its constituent elements on the basis
of its aesthetic beauty. For the centuries, Aristotle had been
considered as a law-giver in the field of criticism in Europe.
Aristotle actually observed the then available forms of literature
and analysed them and codified the rules. In his work, he
has described the characteristics of Tragedy, Comedy and Epic in
an elaborative manner. But unfortunately, the library of Athens was
burnt down in which the most part of his treatise was lost whatever
is available at present is considered as The Poetics. Fortunately we
find a detailed note on Tragedy, which throws light also on the
fundamental elements of good literature.

Upon completion of this unit you will be able to:
Understand what literature is and what criticism is.
Understand the relevance of Classical Criticism
Apply to literary texts Platos theory of Mimesis and his
Outcomes objection to Poetry
Explain Aristotles Defence of Poetry and his Concept of
Understand Aristotles definition and explanation of Tragedy
Know six Formative Elements in Tragedy
Understand Aristotles explanation of Plot, Character and Tragic
Understand the function of Tragedy.

Think about what the following terms mean to you and write the
meaning in the spaces provided:

Literature: ..

Criticism: ..
Terminology Tragedy: ..

Plot: ..

Character: ..

Tragic Hero: ..

Classical: ..
What Classical Criticism Is

You have obviously heard about classicism. Even if you havent, think about what it could
mean. If you already know what is meant by classicism, now is the time you should go
further and think what classical means in relation to classicism.
What does it mean? Arent you thinking about words such as censure, disapproval,
reproach, disparagement, condemnation, denigration, blame, and denunciation among
others? Dont worry for you are not alone even though in the light of this discussion you
could be advised to think about the following words: analysis, appreciation, assessment,
evaluation, critique, comment, review, report. Does it seem to suggest something to you?
Criticism has more to do with evaluation, judgment, and
interpretation, (Winchester, 1899). In this particular case, we are
more interested in how these activities are realized in literature.
In this discussion, we are inclined to look at how readers and
thinkers of ancient civilisations, particularly Greece and Rome,
interpreted literary works. Classicism in the words of Fletcher
(2002; 6) refers to those qualities which are most characteristic of
the best literature of Greece and Rome. It is in fact partly identical
with Idealism. It aims to express the inner truth or central principles
of things, without anxiety for minor details, and it is by nature
largely intellectual in quality, though not by any means to the
exclusion of emotion. In outward form, therefore, it insists on
correct structure, restraint, careful finish and avoidance of all
excess. It could be for this reason that Mikics (2007; 59) says that
the word classical, in literary study, normally refers to ancient
Greek and Roman writing

As it shall be noted in this discussion, you shall realize that

classical criticism is bent on definition and interpretation of
literature. The critics attempt to explore the nature of literature, its
role and relevance to society and the crafting of the products such
as drama, poetry, and prose that are related to it. Classical criticism
therefore focuses on what makes literature be what it is and why it
should be appreciated where necessary.

Classical Critics
There are several classical literary critics though this module
will restrict the discussion to only four: Plato, Aristotle,
Longinus and Horace. Activity

Earlier in this discussion, I asked you if you have heard

anything about classical thinkers. Did any of the names mentioned
sound any familiar to you? If they did, what exactly did you
remember about them? Get a piece of paper and write down what you
know about them. You dont need to have read about them and dont
find it difficult to see what you remember or know about them. This is
your private exercise.

Plato and Aristotle were Greek classical critics while Longinus and
Horace were Roman classical critics. Thus, classical criticism is
seen as being both Greek and Roman.

A student of Socrates and the teacher of

Aristotle, Plato (427347 BCE) wrote
in the middle of the fourth century
B.C.E. in ancient Greece. He was
influenced by Socrates to such an
extent that Socrates is usually the main
character in many of his writings.
Interestingly, particularly in
the Republic, Plato shares his own
philosophy even though he uses
Socrates as the main character


With remarkable contributions made

to logic, metaphysics, mathematics,
physics, biology, botany, ethics,
politics, agriculture, medicine, dance
and theatre, Aristotle (384322
B.C.E.) was a student of Plato.
Aristotle was the founder of the
Lyceum, a school of learning based in
Athens, Greece. His theory on
tragedy remains the central grounding
interpretation on tragedy to date


Longinus, also called Dionysius

Longinus or Pseudo-Longinus is the
name assigned to the author of On the
Sublime. There have been problems
assigning authorship to the text hence
the name Longinus assigned after
several attempts. For this reason, it is
not possible to talk about the author

Born in Apulia, Italy, in 65 B.C.,

Horace was a lyric poet, satirist, and
critic. He read literature and
philosophy in Athens. Before writing
the our work of interest Ars Poetica,
Horace wrote several books that
include Satires (35 B.C.), Epodes (29
B.C.), Odes [Books 1, 2 and 3] (23
B.C.), Epistles [Book 1] (20 B.C.),
Epistles [Book 2] (14 B.C.) and Odes
[Book 4] (15 B.C.). He died in 8

For more information on the above critics and many others, follow
the provided links. The information on them will tell you more
about their works and also their view of the world.

Importance of Classical Criticism

The study of Classical Criticism gives insight into the critical way
of thinking. By studying Classical Criticism you get sense and
understanding about how the literary theories increase our
capacities to think critically without the bias or prejudice or
preconceived notions. It gives us a chance to study different points
of view in the context of different genres of literature. Furthermore,
it develops critical sight and insight not only to judge the literature
but also to evaluate any good piece of literature of the present time.

The Greek and Roman critics belong to the classical school of

criticism which is still relevant today. The basic concepts they have
given us to study literature with are still important and supply us
with the basic ideas whereby to examine the literary text. When we
study Platos theory of Mimesis we come to know that literature is
an imitation of nature. Further in Aristotle when we study his
definition of tragedy, we come to appraise that this imitation is
nothing but the imitation of an action.

Since Aristotle, in Europe, tragedy has never been a drama of

despair, causeless death or chance disaster. The drama that only
paints horrors and leaves souls shattered and mind un-reconciled
with the world may be described as a gruesome, ghastly play, but
not a healthy tragedy, for tragedy is a play in which disaster or
downfall has causes which could carefully be avoided and sorrow
in it does not upset the balance in favour of pessimism. That is
why, in spite of seriousness, even heart-rending scenes of sorrow,
tragedy embodies the vision of beauty. It stirs noble thoughts and
serves tragic delight but does not condemn us to despair. If the
healthy notion of tragedy has been maintained throughout the
literary history of Europe, the ultimate credit, perhaps, goes back to
Aristotle who had propounded it in his theory of Catharsis.

Catharsis established tragedy as a drama of balance. Sorrow alone

would be ugly and repulsive. Beauty, pure would be imaginative
and mystical. These together constitute what may be called tragic
beauty. Pity alone would be sentimentality. Fear alone would make
us cowards. But pity and fear, sympathy and terror together
constitute the tragic feeling which is most delightful though, it is
tearfully delightful. Such tragic beauty and tragic feeling which it
evokes, constitutes the aesthetics of balance as propounded for the
first time by Aristotle in his theory of Catharsis. Therefore, we feel,
the reverence which Aristotle has enjoyed through ages, has not
gone to him undeserved. His insight has rightly earned it.

Unit summary
This unit focused on Classical criticism. It has linked classical
criticism to ancient Greek and Roman philosophy and art,
particularly literature. The unit has further identified the Greek
critics Plato and Aristotle and the Roman Longinus and Horace as
some that have made a significant contribution to classical criticism
through their works.

The following is a quick exercise to test your ability to remember
what you have learnt so far on the critics.

Name Nationality Wrote Also known for

Learnt from Socrates
Wrote many books
Founder of the
Assigned authorship


1) The Greek critics belong to __________

Assessment a) Classical criticism
b) Romantic Criticism
c) Modern Criticism
2) Aristotle was a disciple of a _________
a) Plato
b) Socrates
c) Euripedis
3) Tragedy serves ________
a) Tragic Flaw
b) Tragic Delight
c) Tragic Temper
4) Tragedy is a drama of __________
a) Balance
b) Imbalance
c) Resemblance


Fletcher, R. H. (2002). A History of English Literature.

Blackmask Online.
Mikics, D. (2007). A New Handbook of Literary Terms.
London; Yale University Press
Winchester, O. T. (1899). Some Principles of Literary
Criticism. New York; The Macmillan Company
Unit 2


In Unit 1, you were introduced to what classical criticism is, its
relevance and the four classical critics. This unit focuses on Plato
particularly his theory of mimesis or imitation. Though usually not
applied to literary analysis and interpretation, his views are a
philosophy that you too need to examine before you decide on what
he argues. At this point, you should use Appendix 1: The Republic.
Upon completion of this unit you will be able to:
Demonstrate an understanding of Platos writing style.
Point out Platos major argument on literature as an imitative
Understand Aristotles objection to Platos theory of mimesis.

Think about what the following term mean to you and write the
meaning in the spaces provided:

Mimesis: .


Have you ever critically thought about the

mirror? Have you ever wondered how truthful it
can or cannot be? Is it possible for the mirror to
be false? Can you say the mirror present perfect
reality? Is the image in the mirror real?

Mimesis or Imitation
As you read Book Ten of The Republic (Appendix 1), you
encountered Socrates talking to Glaucon. I want you to think of
Platos writing in dialogue. When we turn to Aristotle, you will
realize that his writing is in prose. And interestingly, Plato uses his
teacher the highly respected Socrates as the main character in this
dialogue. Could he be trying to impose his views on us?
In the text, Socrates likens imitation to the mirror. In which way
does he do this? What does he say is the relationship between
imitation and the mirror? If you are unable to answer these
questions, please return to the extract and read through again.

In this book, Plato introduces the theory of forms. Russell, D. A.

and Winterbottom. (1972; 67) writing on Platos theory of forms

On this assumed basis of the 'theory

of forms' Plato develops the
argument that there are, for instance,
three beds: the 'idea' of bed, the
actual bed, the image of a bed. The
constructor of the first is God, of the
second the bed-builder, of the third
the painter, who is an imitator. So
imitators, tragic poets, for instance-
are 'third from the King and from

The tragic poet in Platos view is merely an imitator in that he

shows what someone else has made; he does not make. He is like a
mirror that can show everything and yet not everything shown is
really in the mirror.

Imitation, in this case should also be understood in relation to

performance. Ancient Greeks believed that the performer of a
poets work took on the persona of the poet in that the performer
performed the poetry of the poet. Imitation, hence, was referred to
as Mimesis (Kennedy, 2008)

Let me mention that the idea of imitation, in Platos view should

not be confused with the modeling of ones work on that of another
writer. Some writers have been influenced by other writers. Mikics
(2007: 153) says that imitation in literature refers to the art of
modeling ones writing on a distinguished source. In our discussion
imitation is the mirroring of society by an author. He imitates
society and one could say, recreates society.

Platos View of Imitation

If you remember well what you read in Book Ten of Platos The
Republic, you will recall that Plato in this text argues against
poetry, particularly, tragedy. Before we can discuss this in more
detail, I wish to bring to your attention that in the same The
Republic, Plato argues in Book Three that children should be
allowed to listen to only those stories that will help them become
better members of society. His argument is that poetry should be
used to better society.

In Book Ten, Plato out rightly rejects poetry claiming, as that is

that if poets are allowed to operate freely, they will produce a host
of inappropriate models: slaves, women, cowards, drunks whom
many may be tempted to imitate. And, once they acquire a taste for
imitation, they may stoop to impersonating workmen or even
madmen and animals. Banning all but the most high-minded poets
from the republic is the obvious way to prevent this situation from
arising (Day, 2008; 30)

From the above point, I think it is important for you to ask what
really Plato is referring to: is he talking about the imitation of
reality by the poet or the performance of the poets work by
performers? In Book Ten his focus is on the poet arguing that he
creates whatever he does without an ability to imitate everything
the way it is. You may remember that he says that the artist, poet, is
thrice removed from reality.

The argument by Plato therefore is that poets are a danger to

society and should be banned in society.

Aristotle's Reply to Plato's Objection

Aristotle replied to the charges made by his Guru Plato against
poetry in particular and art in general. He replied to them one by
one in his defence of poetry.

1. Plato says that art being the imitation of the actual is

removed from the Truth. It only gives the likeness of a thing
in concrete, and the likeness is always less than real. But
Plato fails to explain that art also gives something more
which is absent in the actual. The artist does not simply
reflect the real in the manner of a mirror. Art cannot be
slavish imitation of reality. Literature is not the exact
reproduction of life in all its totality. It is the representation
of selected events and characters necessary in a coherent
action for the realization of the artists purpose. He even
exalts, idealizes and imaginatively recreates a world which
has its own meaning and beauty. These elements, present in
art, are absent in the raw and rough real. While a poet
creates something less than reality he at the same times
creates something more as well. He puts an idea of the
reality which he perceives in an object. This more, this
intuition and perception, is the aim of the artist. Artistic
creation cannot be fairly criticized on the ground that it is
not the creation in concrete terms of things and beings.
Thus considered, it does not take us away from the Truth
but leads us to the essential reality of life.

2. Plato again says that art is bad because it does not inspire
virtue, does not teach morality. But it is teaching the
function of art? Is it the aim of the artist? The function of
art is to provide aesthetic delight, communicate experience,
express emotions and represent life. It should never be
confused with the function of ethics which is simply to
teach morality. If an artist succeeds in pleasing us in the
aesthetic sense, he is a good artist. If he fails in doing so, he
is a bad artist. There is no other criterion to judge his worth.
R.A.Scott -James observes: Morality teaches Art does
not attempt to teach. It merely asserts it is thus or thus that
life is perceived to be. That is my bit of reality, says the
artist. Take it or leave it draw any lessons you like from it
that is my account of things as they are if it has any
value to you as evidence of teaching, use it, but that is not
my business: I have given you my rendering, my account,
my vision, my dream, my illusion call it what you will. If
there is any lesson in it, it is yours to draw, not mine to
preach. Similarly, Platos charges on needless lamentations
and ecstasies at the imaginary events of sorrow and
happiness encourage the weaker part of the soul and numb
the faculty of reason. These charges are defended by
Aristotle in his Theory of Catharsis. David Daiches
summarizes Aristotles views in reply to Platos charges in
brief: Tragedy (Art) gives new knowledge, yields aesthetic
satisfaction and produces a better state of mind.

3. Plato judges poetry now from the educational standpoint,

now from the philosophical one and then from the ethical
one. But he does not care to consider it from its own unique
standpoint. He does not define its aims. He forgets that
everything should be judged in terms of its own aims and
objectives, its own criteria of merit and demerit. We cannot
fairly maintain that music is bad because it does not paint,
or that painting is bad because it does not sing. Similarly,
we cannot say that poetry is bad because it does not teach
philosophy or ethics. If poetry, philosophy and ethics had
identical function, how could they be different subjects? To
denounce poetry because it is not philosophy or ideal is
clearly absurd.

Aristotle's Objection to the Theory of Mimesis

Aristotle agrees with Plato in calling the poet an imitator and
creative art, imitation. He imitates one of the three objects things
as they were/are, things as they are said/thought to be or things as
they ought to be. In other words, he imitates what is past or present,
what is commonly believed and what is ideal. Aristotle believes
that there is natural pleasure in imitation which is an in-born
instinct in men. It is this pleasure in imitation that enables the child
to learn his earliest lessons in speech and conduct from those
around him, because there is a pleasure in doing so. In a grown-up
child a poet, there is another instinct, helping him to make him a
poet the instinct for harmony and rhythm.

He does not agree with his teacher in poets imitation is twice

removed form reality and hence unreal/illusion of truth', to prove
his point he compares poetry with history. The poet and the
historian differ not by their medium, but the true difference is that
the historian relates what has happened, the poet, what
may/ought to have happened - the ideal. Poetry, therefore, is more
philosophical, and a higher thing than history because history
expresses the particular while poetry tends to express the universal.
Therefore, the picture of poetry pleases all and at all times.
Aristotle does not agree with Plato in the function of poetry making
people weaker and emotional/too sentimental. For him, catharsis is
ennobling and it humbles a human being.
So far as the moral nature of poetry is concerned, Aristotle believes
that the end of poetry is to please; however, teaching may be the
byproduct of it. Such pleasing is superior to the other pleasures
because it teaches civic morality. So all good literature gives
pleasure, which is not divorced from moral lessons.

Unit Summary
In this unit you learned about Platos theory of imitation. In his
theory of Mimesis, Plato says that all art is mimetic by nature; art is
an imitation of life. He believed that idea is the ultimate reality.
Art imitates idea and so it is imitation of reality. He gives an
example of a carpenter and a chair. The idea of chair first came in
the mind of carpenter. He gave physical shape to his idea out of
wood and created a chair. The painter imitated the chair of the
carpenter in his picture of chair. Thus, painters chair is twice
removed from reality. Hence, he believed that art is twice removed
from reality. He gives first importance to philosophy as philosophy
deals with the ideas whereas poetry deals with illusion things
which are twice removed from reality. So to Plato, philosophy is
superior to poetry. Plato rejected poetry as it is mimetic in nature
on the moral and philosophical grounds. To Plato, the artist, or
poet, is thrice removed from whatever he imitates. Given this, the
artist or poet is unable to imitate correctly, arising from the fact that
s/he is very far from the truth or reality thereby becoming
dangerous to society. Plato becomes even more confusing when he
says that the poet makes imitators of literature lose the human in
them when they imitate everything the poet who has been given
freedom to create or imitate imitates. The point is, Platos theory
speaks against poetry, and literature in general. On the contrary,
Aristotle advocated poetry as it is mimetic in nature. According to
him, poetry is an imitation of an action and his tool of enquiry is
neither philosophical nor moral. He examines poetry as a piece of
art and not as a book of preaching or teaching.

1. Why do you think Plato uses dialogue in his work The
2. What function does the character Socrates, his teacher, play
in cementing Platos arguments?
3. What are the two major types of imitation according to
Assignment Plato? Explain each in detail?
4. Of the two, which one is Plato against and why?

1) Plato wrote his treatise in the form of:
a) Dialogues
b) Paragraphs
c) Poetry
d) Story telling
2) On which three grounds did Plato object to poetry?
a) Educational, Philosophical and Moral
b) Sexual, Moral and Philosophical
c) Educational, Obscene and Sexual
3) According to Plato, poets are breeders of ___________ and
poetry is _________ of lies.
a) Falsehood and Mother
b) Truth and Mother
c) Falsehood and Sister
4) According to Plato, poetry is superior to philosophy.
a) True
b) False
c) Cannot say
5) Aristotle's well-known treatise are:
a) Dialogues
b) Poetics & Rheotoric
c) Poetry and Drama
d) Tragedy and Epic
6) Who thus summarizes Aristotle's views in reply to Plato's
charges in brief: "Tragedy (Art) gives new knowledge, yields
aesthetic satisfaction and produces a better state of mind."
a) Bywater
b) Scot James
c) David Daiches
d) S.H. Butcher
7) Plato confused the study of ________ with the study of
__________ .
a) Falsehood and Mother
b) Aesthetics and Psychology
c) Moral and Aesthetics
8) Aristotle did not agree with Plato in calling the poet an imitator
and creative art, imitation.
a) True
b) False
c) Cannot say

Day, G. (2008). Literary Criticism: A New History. Edinburgh;
Edinburgh University Press Ltd
Kennedy, G. A. (2008). The Cambridge History of Literary
Criticism, Volume 1: Classical Criticism. Cambridge
Histories Online Cambridge University Press
Mikics, D. (2007). A New Handbook of Literary Terms.
London; Yale University Press
Russell, D. A. and M. Winterbottom. (1972). Ancient Literary
Criticism: Principal Texts in New Translations. Oxford;
Oxford University Press
Unit 3

Almost all of us have used the word tragic to explain a bad and
unexpected happening. But what really does the word tragic mean?
As you think about what this word means, you should read the play
Oedipus the King by Sophocles. To enhance the enjoyment of the
play, get together with your colleagues and read this play as a team.
Read it as many times as you can. While reading, ask yourselves
the following questions:

1. Who is Oedipus?
2. Where does he come from?
3. What is the problem as the play begins?
4. What mistake has he committed?
5. How does he respond to the prophet, Tiresias?
6. What truth is revealed towards the end of the play?
7. What befalls Oedipus?
8. Throughout the play, what do you feel for Oedipus as
details of his predicament unfold?

In this unit, we are going to look at tragedy as discussed by

Aristotle whose reference point was a series of plays written earlier
by playwrights such as Sophocles, Euripides and others.

Upon completion of this unit you will be able to:

Define tragedy.
Identify the major elements of tragedy.
Analyse a tragic play.

Think about what the following terms mean to you and write the
meaning in the spaces provided:

Tragedy: .....

Tragic Hero: ..

Terminology Harmatia: ..
Tragic Irony: .

Catharsis: .

Denouement: .

Concept of Tragedy
It is noteworthy that Aristotle does not only see poetry as a basic
human instinct and allows it as an avenue toward truth and
knowledge (Habib, 2005;50), he distinguishes poetry from other
forms of art. Nonetheless, he argues that metre/verse alone is not
the distinguishing feature of poetry or imaginative literature in
general. Even scientific and medical treatises may be written in
verses. Verse will not make them poetry. The question then is, if
metre/verse does not distinguish poetry from other forms of art,
how can we classify the form of poetry along with other forms of
Aristotle classifies various forms of art with the help of object,
medium and manner of their imitation of life.

OBJECT: Which object of life is imitated determines the form of

literature. If the Life of great people is imitative it will make that
work a Tragedy and if the life of mean people is imitated it will
make the work a Comedy. David Daiches writes explaining the
classification of poetry which is imitative: We can classify poetry
according to the kinds of people it represents they are either
better than they are in real life, or worse, or the same. One could
present characters, that is, on the grand or heroic scale; or could
treat ironically or humorously the petty follies of men, or one could
aim at naturalism presenting men neither heightened nor trivialized
Tragedy deals with men on a heroic scale, men better than they
are in everyday life whereas comedy deals with the more trivial
aspects of human nature, with characters worse than they are in
real life.

MEDIUM: What sort of medium is used to imitate life again

determines the forms of different arts. The painter uses the colours,
and a musician will use the sound, but a poet uses the words to
represent the life. When words are used, how they are used and in
what manner or metre they are used further classifies a piece of
literature in different categories as a tragedy or a comedy or an
The types of literature, says Aristotle, can be distinguished
according to the medium of representation as well as the manner of
representation in a particular medium. The difference of medium
between a poet and a painter is clear; one uses words with their
denotative, connotative, rhythmic and musical aspects; the other
uses forms and colours. Likewise, the tragedy writer may make use
of one kind of metre, and the comedy writer of another.

MANNER: In what manner the imitation of life is presented

distinguishes the one form of literature from another. How is the
serious aspect of life imitated? For example, dramas are always
presented in action while epics are always in narration. In this way
the kinds of literature can be distinguished and determined
according to the techniques they employ. David Daiches says: The
poet can tell a story in narrative form and partly through the
speeches of the characters (as Homer does), or it can all be done in
third-person narrative, or the story can be presented dramatically,
with no use of third person narrative at all.

Definition of Tragedy
Aristotle has remained the authority of tragedy. Whoever talks
about tragedy has done so with reliance on Aristotles discussion.
In his own words, tragedy is:

an imitation of an action that is

serious, complete, and of a certain
magnitude; in language embellished
with each kind of artistic ornament,
the several kinds being found in
separate parts of the play; in the form
of action, not of narrative; through
pity and fear effecting the proper
purgation of these emotions.

Every word of the definition above is compact pregnant with

meaning to a point that each word can be elaborated into a
separate essay.
All art is representation (imitation) of life, but none can represent
life in its totality. Therefore, an artist has to be selective in
representation. He must aim at representing or imitating an aspect
of life or a fragment of life.
Action comprises all human activities including deeds, thoughts
and feelings. Therefore, we find soliloquies, choruses etc. in

The writer of tragedy seeks to imitate the serious side of life just
as a writer of comedy seeks to imitate only the shallow and
superficial side though communicating a serious or less serious
subject. The tragic section presented on the stage in a drama should
be complete or self-contained with a proper beginning, proper
middle and proper end. A beginning is that before which the
audience or the reader does not need to be told anything to
understand the story. If something more is required to understand
the story than the beginning gives, it is unsatisfactory. From it
follows the middle. In their turn the events from the middle lead to
the end. Thus the story becomes a compact and self-sufficient one.
It must not leave the impression that even after the end the action is
still to be continued, or that before the action starts certain things
remain to be known.

Tragedy must have close-knit unity with nothing that is superfluous

or unnecessary. Every episode, every character and a dialogue in
the play must carry step by step the action that is set into motion to
its logical dnouement. It must give the impression of wholeness at
the end.

The play must have, then, a definite magnitude, a proper size or a

reasonable length such as the mind may comprehend fully. That is
to say that it must have only necessary duration, it should neither
be too long to tire our patience nor be too short to make effective
representation impossible. Besides, a drama continuing for hours
indefinitely may fail to keep the various parts of it together into
unity and wholeness in the spectators mind. The reasonable
duration enables the spectator to view the drama as a whole, to
remember its various episodes and to maintain interest. The
language employed here should be duly embellished and beautified
with various artistic ornaments (rhythm, harmony, song) and
figures of speech. The language of our daily affairs is not useful
here because tragedy has to present a heightened picture of lifes
serious side, and that is possible only if elevated language of poetry
is used. According to need, the writer makes use of songs, poetry,
poetic dialogue; simple conversation and many others in various
parts of the play.
Its manner of imitation should be action, not narration as in epic,
for it is meant to be a dramatic representation on the stage and not a
mere story-telling.

Then, for the function/aim of tragedy is to shake up in the soul the

impulses of pity and fear, to achieve what he calls Catharsis. The
emotions of pity and fear find a full and free outlet in tragedy.
Their excess is purged and we are lifted out of ourselves and
emerges nobler than before. Abrams and Harpham (2009:371) note
that in Aristotles view, many tragic representations of suffering
and defeat leave an audience feeling not depressed, but relieved, or
even exalted. This feeling is therefore viewed as positive. It
should be noted from the onset that Aristotle used works by
playwrights such as Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles as
examples of tragedy. This makes our discussion of the play that
you have read a good example of a tragic play.

Formative Elements of Tragedy

After discussing the definition of tragedy, Aristotle explores
various important parts of tragedy. He asserts that any tragedy can
be divided into six constituent parts.

Read Aristotles Poetics. Pay attention to the elements of tragedy
according to Aristotle. What do you understand by each of the
elements Plot, Characters, Diction, Thought, Spectacle and
Melody expounded by Aristotle in the text you have just read.
What are the qualities of a tragic hero? What elements lead to our
acceptance that the events the hero has been involved in are really

The Plot is the most important part of a tragedy. The plot means
the arrangement of the incidents. Normally the plot is divided into
five acts, and each Act is further divided into several scenes. The
dramatists main skill lies in dividing the plot into Acts and Scenes
in such a way that they may produce the maximum scenic effect in
a natural development.

Characters are men and women who act. The hero and the heroine
are two important figures among the characters.
Thought means what the characters think or feel during their career
in the development of the plot. The thought is expressed through
their speeches and dialogues.

Diction is the medium of language or expression through which the

characters reveal their thoughts and feelings. The diction should be
embellished with each kind of artistic element.
The song is one of these embellishments. The decoration of the
stage is the major part of the spectacle.

The Spectacle is theatrical effect presented on the stage. But

spectacle also includes scenes of physical torture, loud
lamentations, dances, colourful garments of the main characters,
and the beggarly or jocular appearance of the subordinate
characters or of the fool on the stage. These are the six constituent
parts of tragedy.

Aristotle argues that, among the six formative elements, the plot is
the most important element. He writes in The Poetics. The plot is
the underlying principle of tragedy. By plot Aristotle means the
arrangement of incidents. Incidents mean action, and tragedy is an
imitation of actions, both internal and external. That is to say that it
also imitates the mental processes of the dramatic personae. In
answering a question once he said that a tragedy could be written
without a character but not without a plot. Through his
overstatement on plot, he accepts that without action there cannot
be a tragedy. The plot contains a beginning, a middle and an end,
where the beginning is what is not posterior to another thing,
while the middle needs to have something happened before, and
something to happen after it, but after the end there is nothing
The characters serve to advance the action of the story, not vice
versa. The ends we pursue in life, our happiness and our misery, all
take the form of action. Tragedy is written not merely to imitate
man but to imitate man in action. That is, according to Aristotle,
happiness consists in a certain kind of activity rather than in a
certain quality of character. As David Daiches says: the way in
which the action works itself out, the whole casual chain which
leads to the final outcome. Diction and Thought are also less
significant than plot: a series of well-written speeches has nothing
like the force of a well-structured tragedy. Lastly, Aristotle notes
that forming a solid plot is far more difficult than creating good
characters or diction. Having asserted that the plot is the most
important of the six parts of tragedy, he ranks the remainder as
follows, from most important to least: Character, Thought, Diction,
Melody, and Spectacle. Character reveals the individual
motivations of the characters in the play, what they want or don't
want, and how they react to certain situations, and this is more
important to Aristotle than thought, which deals on a more
universal level with reasoning and general truths. Diction, Melody/
Songs and Spectacle are all pleasurable accessories, but the melody
is more important in tragedy than spectacle.

The Tragic Hero

The ideal tragic hero, according to Aristotle, should be, in the first
place, a man of eminence. The actions of an eminent man would be
serious, complete and of a certain magnitude, as required by
Aristotle. Further, the hero should not only be eminent but also
basically a good man, though not absolutely virtuous. The
sufferings, fall and death of an absolutely virtuous man would
generate feelings of disgust rather than those of terror and
compassion which a tragic play must produce. The hero should
neither be a villain nor a wicked person for his fall, otherwise his
death would please and satisfy our moral sense without generation
the feelings of pity, compassion and fear. Therefore, the ideal tragic
hero should be basically a good man with a minor flaw or tragic
trait in his character. The entire tragedy should issue from this
minor flaw or error of judgment. The fall and sufferings and death
of such a hero would certainly generate feelings of pity and fear.
So, Aristotle says: For our pity is excited by misfortunes
undeservedly suffered, and our terror by some resemblance
between the sufferer and ourselves. Finally, Aristotle says: There
remains for our choice a person neither eminently virtuous nor just,
nor yet involved in misfortune by deliberate vice or villainy, but by
some error or human frailty; and this person should also be
someone of high-fame and flourishing prosperity. Such a man
would make an ideal tragic hero.

Characteristics of Tragic Hero

According to Aristotle, in a good tragedy, character supports plot.
The personal motivation/actions of the characters are intricately
involved with the action to such an extent that it leads to arouse
pity and fear in the audience. The protagonist / tragic hero of the
play should have all the characteristics of a good character. By
good character, Aristotle means that they should be:

1. True to the self

2. True to type
3. True to life
4. Probable and yet more beautiful than life.

The tragic hero having all the characteristics mentioned above, has,
in addition, a few more attributes. In this context Aristotle begins
by the following observation,

A good man coming to bad end. (Its shocking and disturbs

A bad man coming to good end. (neither moving, nor
A bad man coming to bad end. (moral, but not moving)
A rather good man coming to bad end. (an ideal situation)

Aristotle disqualifies two types of characters purely virtuous and

thoroughly bad. There remains but one kind of character, who can
best satisfy this requirement A man who is not eminently good
and just yet whose misfortune is not brought by vice or depravity
but by some error of frailty. Thus the ideal Tragic Hero must be
an intermediate kind of a person- neither too virtuous nor too
wicked. His misfortune excites pity because it is out of all
proportion to his error of judgement, and his over all goodness
excites fear for his doom. Thus, he is a man with the following
attributes: He should be a man of mixed character, neither
blameless nor absolutely depraved. His misfortune should follow
from some error or flaw of character; short of moral taint. He must
fall from height of prosperity and glory. The protagonist should be
renowned and prosperous, so that his change of fortune can be from
good to bad. The fall of such a man of eminence affects entire
state/nation. This change occurs not as the result of vice, but of
some great error or frailty in a character. Such a plot is most likely
to generate pity and fear in the audience. The ideal tragic hero
should be an intermediate kind of a person, a man not preeminently
virtuous and just yet whose misfortune is brought upon him not by
vice or depravity but by some error of judgement. Let us discuss
this error of judgement in following point.
Hamartia (fatal flaw or tragic flaw) may consist of a moral flaw,
or it may simply be a technical error/ error of judgement, or,
ignorance, or even, at times, an arrogance (called hubris in Greek).
It is owing to this flaw that the protagonist comes into conflict with
Fate and ultimately meets his/her doom through the workings of
Fate (called Dike in Greek) called Nemesis.

The Three Unities

1. The unity of action: a play should have one single plot or
action to sustain the interest of the spectators and it can also
lead him to proper purgation.
2. The unity of time: the action in a play should not exceed the
single revolution of the sun.
3. The unity of place: a play should cover a single physical
space and should not attempt to compress geography, nor
should the stage represent more than one place.
Unit summary
The definition of tragedy as advanced by Aristotle suggests that
every tragedy must have six parts: plot, characters, diction, thought,
spectacle, melody. The plot is the most important feature of
Summary tragedy.
The plot must be:
whole with beginning, middle and end,
complete, having unity of action. This means that
the plot must be structurally self-contained, with the
incidents bound together by internal necessity, each
action leading to the next without external forces
of a certain magnitude, both quantitatively
(length, complexity) and qualitatively (seriousness
and universal significance)
either simple or complex, although complex is
better. Simple plots have only a change of fortune
(catastrophe). Complex plots have both reversal of
intention (peripeteia) and recognition
(anagnorisis) connected with the catastrophe.

Characters take second position in importance. They must support

plot and be realistic. The tragic hero must be of noble birth, make
an error of judgment and due to hubris (excessive pride),
experience a great fall.

Language must poetic in nature. While a tragedy is dramatic, it

should use verse in the dialogue as opposed to prose.
Catharsis, referring to the purging of emotions refers to the feeling
of pity and fear by the audience of the tragedy. This leaves them
feeling relieved at the end of the play.
1) According to Aristotle, metre/verse alone is the
distinguishing feature of poetry or imaginative literature in
Assessment a) True
b) False
c) Cannot say
2) In the definition of Tragedy find out which of the following
lines substantiate the theory of Catharsis.
a) An action that is serious, complete and of a certain
b) Several kinds being found in separate parts of the play
c) Through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation-
catharsis of these and similar emotions
3) Aristotle says plot is ______.
a) The underlying principle of tragedy
b) Unimportant for tragedy
c) Most important for tragedy
4) ________ serve to advance the action of the story.
a) Plot
b) Character
c) Diction
5) The spectacle is the ________.
a) Useful for the eyes
b) Colourful effect
c) Theatrical effect
6) Thought is expressed through __________.
a) Speeches and Dialogues
b) Narration and Music
c) Music and Songs
7) Songs are having a ________ value.
a) Metrical
b) Ornamental
c) Philosophical
8) Tragedy is an imitation of ________.
a) an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain
b) several kinds being found in separate parts of the play
c) in the form of action, not of narrative
d) through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation-
catharsis of these and similar emotions
9) Which of the following lines of the definition of tragedy
deals with the function of tragedy?
a) an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain
magnitude an action that is serious, complete, and of a
certain magnitude
b) several kinds being found in separate parts of the play
c) in the form of action, not of narrative
d) through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation-
catharsis of these and similar emotions
10) Which of the following sequence in the arrangement of the
important parts of tragedy is correct?
a) an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain
magnitude an action that is serious, complete, and of a
certain magnitude
b) several kinds being found in separate parts of the play
c) Spectacle, Song, Diction, Thought, Character and Plot
11) Which of the following attributes best describes Aristotelian
Tragic Hero?
a) A good man coming to bad end
b) A bad man coming to good end
c) A bad man coming to bad end
d) A rather good man coming to bad end
12) The following sentences describe Tragic Hero. Choose the
right option.
a) A man who is not eminently good and just yet whose
misfortune is not brought by vice or depravity but by
some error or frailty
b) He should be a man of mixed character, neither
blameless nor absolutely depraved
c) The ideal tragic hero must be an intermediate kind of
person, a man not preeminently virtuous and just yet
whose misfortune is brought upon him not by vice or
depravity but by some error of judgement.
d) All of the above
13) Hamartia in the Aristotelian sense of the term is a mistake
or error of judgement and the deed done in consequence of
it is an erratum.
a) True
b) False
c) Cannot say

Abrams, M. H. and G.G. Harpham. (2009), A Glossary of
Literary Terms, Ninth Edition. Boston; Wadsworth
Cengage Learning
Habib, M. A. R. (2005). A History of Literary Criticism: From
Plato to the Present. Malden; Blackwell Publishing

This unit examines Longinuss idea of the sublime. It explores the meaning of the Sublime, its five
elements, and point out the pitfalls that should be avoided to achieve its maximum effect.
Upon completion of this unit you will be able to:
Define the sublime
Identify the five elements of the sublime
Point out and explain the pitfalls associated with the sublime.


Think about what the following terms mean to you and write the meaning in the spaces provided:

Sublime: .

Tumidity: .

inology Puerility: .

Parenthyrsus: .

Has it ever occurred to you that you are upset or even angry with
someone? Have you ever wished to make them feel what you have
felt? Sometimes, I think, you have felt like insulting them. What
was the whole reason for wanting to insult them? Was it to make
you feel good or make them feel bad so that they also experience
what you had experienced? I am sure you could even have thought
of the best selection of the worst words to make them get hurt the
deepest. Do you think the best chosen words will make it easy for
someone to achieve their objective?

Task 1
Turn to the appendix and read the first to the sixth chapters of
Longinuss On the Sublime. In your reading, identify Longinuss
definition of the sublime. Within the same section, Longinus shares
what should be avoided if one is to achieve the sublime. Get a piece
of paper and briefly define the sublime in your own words.
Mention three things that should be avoided if one is attempting to
achieve the sublime in their work.
In talking about rhetoric, Frye (1957) says that the human faculties have been divided into three: will,
feeling, and reason. Of these three, he argues, feeling which he marries with the world of art, and beauty
is central. He agrees with Poe who in his The Poetic Principal (1846) argues that beauty is paramount in
human satisfaction. Kennedy (2008) has identified the fact that Longinus in On the Sublime is
concerned with helping would be orators to think big. The interpretation is that the work helps open up
orators to whom we can relate writers, particularly poets. For this reason, we see Cuddon (1999; 875)
say that the sublime came to connote a surpassing excellence, an Everest of achievement, where great
thoughts, noble feeling, lofty figures (i.e. figurative language), diction and arrangement (the five sources
of sublimity established by Longinus) all coincided. It also came to be associated with powerful
emotions, with spiritual and religious awe, with vastness and immensity, with the natural order in its
grander manifestations and with the concept of genius this should take us back to our starting point
where we said that the maximum effect is the central idea in On the Sublime. In concluding, we shall
refer to Abrams and Harpham (2009; 354) who say that:
Whereas the effect of rhetoric on the hearer or reader of a discourse is
persuasion, the effect of the sublime is transport (ekstasis)it is that
quality of a passage which shatters the hearers composure, exercises
irresistible domination over him, and scatters the subjects like a bolt of
In this view, the sublime is intended to change the readers perception of what they are reading and
whatever is associated with it. Transportation here will be seen as shift in reception of the text and its

Task 2
Having read the first six chapters of On the Sublime, explain how
and why Longinus says the following three pitfalls should be
avoided if one is to achieve the sublime:
1. Tumidity;
2. Puerility; and
3. Parenthyrsus.
Task 3
Turn to the text On the Sublime again and read from the seventh to
the ninth chapters of the work. A very important section of the text
lists the five elements of the sublime.
These include:
1. grandeur of thought;
2. a vigorous and spirited treatment of the passions.
These two conditions of sublimity depend mainly
on natural endowments, whereas those which
follow derive assistance from Art;
3. a certain artifice in the employment of figures,
which are of two kinds, figures of thought and
figures of speech;
4. dignified expression, which is sub-divided into (a)
the proper choice of words, and (b) the use of
metaphors and other ornaments of diction; and
5. majesty and elevation of structure.
Later, Longinus discusses these five elements in detail. In this
discussion, what does Longinus say about each of these and how do
they relate one to the other to make a whole?

This unit defined the sublime as that which is not only associated
with genius but affects emotions and shatters the readers
composure as it develops dominion over him. To achieve this,
mmary Longinus has argued, the writer should avoid Tumidity, Puerility,
and Parenthyrsus while striving for the use of figurative language,
nobility of expression, loftiness of thought, and strong and inspired
1. Read the following poem and explain how Sapho manages
to achieve the sublime in the work.
That One Seems to Me the Equal of the Gods
gnment Peer of the gods, the happiest man I seem
Sitting before thee, rapt at thy sight, hearing
Thy soft laughter and they voice most gentle,
Speaking so sweetly.
Then in my bosom my heart wildly flutters,
And, when on thee I gaze never so little,
Bereft am I of all power of utterance,
My tongue is useless.
There rushes at once through my flesh tingling
My eyes are deprived of all power of vision,
My ears hear nothing by sounds of winds
And all is blackness.
Down courses in streams the sweat of
A dread trembling o'erwhelms me, paler than I
Than dried grass in autumn, and in my
Dead I seem almost.

2. List and explain the five elements of the sublime.

Abrams, M. H. and G.G. Harpham. (2009), A Glossary of Literary Terms, Ninth Edition. Boston;
Wadsworth Cengage Learning
Cuddon, J. A. (1999). The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. Middlesex;
Penguin Books

In this unit we deal with Horace focusing on his work The Art of Poetry, originally called Ars Poetica.
Russell (2006) suggests that in this work, Horace was merely experimenting considering the fact that
the work is structurally different from his other works. He believes that Horace was attempting to write
a poem on poetics.

While this work has been seen as an experiment, Habib (2005) says that The Art of Poetrys influence
has exceeded that of Plato and Aristotle. This, he suggests, is because Horaces principles in the work
are based on experience as opposed to theory.

While there is that belief that the works success is partly due to Horaces basing his principles on
experience rather than theory, Russell and Winterbottom (1972) bring in an interesting thought which
suggests that there is a longer piece of work which seems to be related to the work under focus. They
say that the raw material of the work is more technical and it is assumed that Horace got much of the
material from Neoptolemus of Parium and, indirectly, Aristotle's Poetics. Could this suggestion be
accusing Horace of plagiarism or that he does not deserve the influence attributed to him? That is your
talking point.

Upon completion of this unit, you should be able to

Link Horaces influence through The Art of Poetry to the nature

of his principles.
Identify Horaces principles on literature
Show the relationship between Horaces principles and his
influence in the literary arena.

Task 1

Read Horaces The Art of Poetry. For this activity, restrict yourself
to the section on characterisation entitled On Characterisation.

In relation to that read the following poem by William Shakespeare

All the World's a Stage from the play As You Like It (2001):

All the world's a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the canon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
(II.vii. 139-167)

1. What similarities do you see between Shakespeares work

and Horaces? Is it possible to argue that Horace could have
influenced Shakespeares work?
2. On the other hand, what is Horaces argument on
characterization? What does he say about the poets
knowledge of his society in shaping his characters in his

f Language
Task 2
Read Horaces The Art of Poetry in the appendix. For this activity, read the extract with the heading: On
Style. What does Horace advise on the choice of language in this extract?

d Versification
Task 3
Read Horaces The Art of Poetry in the appendix. For this activity, read the extract with the heading: On
Metre and Versification. What does Horace advise on meter in poetry? What relationship does he bring
out between what is seen and what is heard? What does he say about the Greeks as models?

cs and Didacticism
Task 4
Read Horaces The Art of Poetry in the appendix. For this activity, read the extract with the heading: On
Aesthetics versus Didacticism. What does Horace bring our on the relationship between meaning and
beauty in a poem? What does he say about the relationship between reality and fiction?
In this unit you learned about Horaces The Art of Poetry in brief
considering the expanse of the treatise. Four principles were
identified from his work, namely:
1. Characterisation where claims that the poet must
understand the behaviour of people of all ages and
belonging to various groups as they should be presented as
such in the poetry;
2. Style where the poet should use unfamiliar diction. The
language should not, in short, be average. This could, in a
way, be likened to the ideas of Longinus;
3. Meter and versification. Here, Horace proposes the
Use of iambic meter. He adds that the meter should be
as visible to the eye as it should be audible to the ear
meaning that it should be countable while it is
sounding so to the ear; and
4. Aesthetics versus didacticism where the poet is advised
to be as realistic as possible. Horace argues that
instruction and art should complement each other. He
goes further to say that artistic blemishes should not be
tolerated in poetry.

1. What are Horaces major arguments on each of the following:
a) Charactersation?
b) Style?
c) Meter and versification?
d) Aesthetics versus Didacticism?
3. With reference to Oedipus the King, to what extent would
you say Sophocles plays the model for poets of Horaces

Habib, M. A. R. (2005). A History of Literary Criticism: From Plato to the Present. Malden;
Blackwell Publishing
Russell, D. A. (2006). Ars Poetica. In Laird, A. (Ed.). Oxford Readings in Ancient Literary
Criticism. Oxford; Oxford University Press
Russell, D. A. and M. Winterbottom. (1972). Ancient Literary Criticism: Principal Texts in New
Translations. Oxford; Oxford University Press
Shakespeare, W. (2001). As You Like It in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.
Scotland; Geddes and Grosset.

opic Points to remember

lassical Classical criticism related to ancient Greek and Roman philosophy and art,
riticism particularly literature.
Greek critics - Plato and Aristotle, Roman critics - Longinus and Horace
latos Plato says the artist, or poet, is thrice removed from whatever he imitates.
heory of As he is unable to imitate correctly, arising from the fact that he is very far from the
mitation truth or reality, he becomes dangerous to society.
Platos theory speaks against poetry, and literature in general.
ristotle on Every tragedy must have six parts: plot, characters, diction, thought, spectacle,
ragedy melody. The plot is the most important feature of tragedy.
Plot must be whole, complete, of a certain magnitude, and with either simple or
complex, although complex is better.
Characters take second position in importance. They must support plot and be
realistic. The tragic hero must be of noble birth, make an error of judgment and due
to hubris (excessive pride), experience a great fall.
Language must poetic in nature.
Catharsis, purging of emotions, leaves the audience feeling relieved at the end of the
onginuss Sublime is not only associated with genius but affects emotions, and develops
n the dominion over reader.
ublime Writer should avoid Tumidity, Puerility, and Parenthyrsus while striving for the use
of figurative language, nobility of expression, loftiness of thought, and strong and
inspired passion.
orace on Four of Horaces principles are:
he Art of Characterisation poet must understand the behaviour of people.
oetry Style - poet should use unfamiliar diction.
Meter and versification poet to use of iambic meter that is visible to the eye
and audible to the ear meaning
Aesthetics versus didacticism poet should be realistic while appropriately
marrying instruction with art.


Romanticism arose in the mid of the 18th century. Its most radical change on the literary scene was the
awakening of sensibility, that is, the power of sensation on perception; quickness and acuteness of
apprehension or feeling; the capacity for refined emotion, sensitiveness generally in the face of external
nature, and the readiness to feel for the poor and the suffering. A period - Augustan era just before it
which focused on rationalism, discipline, and respect for tradition and authority was changed. The old
aged perceptions about humanity, God and society were broken down and the artist was drawn back
into his own reactions and responses to life experiences. The age of reason could not provide answers to
many questions about life and death. Emotion and imagination on the other hand enhanced lived
experiences and provided a kind of truth of what was happening that hunger of the imagination
which preys incessantly on life (Johnson). The classical and neo-classical rationalism was seen to be
dogmatic, narrow and hindering freer modes of self-expression.
Upon completion of this unit you should be able to:

Identify the key features of romanticism;

Define romanticism;
Distinguish romanticism from classicism;
Apply romanticism criticism to literary texts.

Think about what the following terms mean to you and write the meaning in the spaces provided:

Romanticism: .

Sublime: .

inology Similitude: ..

Dissimilitude: .

Impressionism: .

and Historical Overview

By mid 18th century, the term romantic in English and romantique in French were commonly used as
adjectives of praise for natural phenomena such as views and sunsets, in a sense close to modern
English usage but without the implied sexual element. The application of this term to literature first
became common in Germany, where the circle around the Schlegel brothers, critics August and
Friedrich, began to speak of romantische Poesie ("romantic poetry") in the 1790s, contrasting it with
"classic" but in terms of spirit rather than merely dating.

Friedrich Schlegel wrote in his Dialogue on Poetry (1800), "I seek and find the romantic among the
older moderns, in Shakespeare, in Cervantes, in Italian poetry, in that age of chivalry, love and fable,
from which the phenomenon and the word itself are derived." In both French and German the closeness
of the adjective to roman, meaning the fairly new literary form of the novel, had some effect on the
sense of the word in those languages. The use of the word did not become general very quickly, and
was probably spread more widely in France by its persistent use by Madame de Stal in her De
L'Allemagne (1813), recounting her travels in Germany. In England Wordsworth wrote in a preface to
his poems of 1815 of the "romantic harp" and "classic lyre", but in 1820 Byron could still write, perhaps
slightly disingenuously, "I perceive that in Germany, as well as in Italy, there is a great struggle about
what they call 'Classical' and 'Romantic', terms which were not subjects of classification in England, at
least when I left it four or five years ago". It is only from the 1820s that Romanticism certainly knew
itself by its name.

Romanticism (also the Romantic era or the Romantic period) is an artistic, literary, and intellectual
movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century. It was partly a reaction to the
Industrial Revolution and a revolt against the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of
Enlightenment and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature. It was embodied most
strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography, education
and the natural sciences. Its effect on politics was considerable and complex; while for much of the peak
Romantic period it was associated with liberalism and radicalism, its long-term effect on the growth of
nationalism was probably more significant.

The movement validated intense intuition and emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience,
placing new emphasis on such emotions as apprehension, horror and terror, and aweespecially that
which is experienced in confronting the sublimity of untamed nature and its picturesque qualities: both
new aesthetic categories different from the rationalism of the Enlightenment. It elevated spontaneity and
argued for a natural epistemology of human activities, as conditioned by nature in the form of language
and customary usage. Romanticism reached beyond the rational and Classicist ideal models to raise a
revived medievalism and elements of art and narrative perceived to be authentically medieval in an
attempt to escape the confines of population growth, urban sprawl, and industrialism. Romanticism
embraced the exotic and the unfamiliar and harnessed the power of the imagination to envision and to

Much before William Wordsworth started writing, the early Romantic poets like James Thomson (1700-
48),Oliver Goldsmith (1728-74),Thomas Chatterton (1752-70),Thomas Gray (1716-71),William
Collins-59),William Cowper (17311800),George Crabbe (1754-1832),Robert Burns (1759-95), and
William Blake (1757-1827) deviated from the neo-classic insistence on rules. Wordsworth is perhaps
the only romantic poet who made his poetic experiences the locus of his critical discourse. Unlike
Coleridge, he was not a theorist. Instead he unraveled before us the workings of the mind of the poet,
and therefore, Wordsworths literary criticism ceases to be criticism in its most literal sense. It comes
out as the matrix where the poets mind generates emotions and feelings with that much of intensity and
passion required for transmitting them into poetic experience which forms the basis of poetic
composition. From this perspective, Wordsworths Preface to the second edition of Lyrical Ballads in
1800 can be seen as a poetic "manifesto," or statement of revolutionary aims.

It is one of the curiosities of literary history that the strongholds of the Romantic Movement were
England and Germany, not the countries of the romance languages themselves. Thus it is from the
historians of English and German literature that we inherit the convenient set of terminal dates for the
Romantic period, beginning in 1798, the year of the first edition of Lyrical Ballads by Wordsworth and
Coleridge and of the composition of Hymns to the Night by Novalis, and ending in 1832, the year which
marked the deaths of both Sir Walter Scott and Goethe. However, as an international movement
affecting all the arts, Romanticism begins at least in the 1770's and continues into the second half of the
nineteenth century, later for American literature than for European, and later in some of the arts, like
music and painting, than in literature. This extended chronological spectrum (1770-1870) also permits
recognition as Romantic the poetry of Robert Burns and William Blake in England, the early writings of
Goethe and Schiller in Germany, and the great period of influence for Rousseau's writings throughout

The early Romantic period thus coincides with what is often called the "age of revolutions"--including,
of course, the American (1776) and the French (1789) revolutions--an age of upheavals in political,
economic, and social traditions, the age which witnessed the initial transformations of the Industrial
Revolution. A revolutionary energy was also at the core of Romanticism, which quite consciously set
out to transform not only the theory and practice of poetry (and all art), but the very way we perceive
the world. Some of its major precepts have survived into the twentieth century and still affect our
contemporary period.
atures of Romanticism Criticism
The chief features of the new school of romantic criticism may be summarized as follows:
1. Romantic criticism ignores rules whether of Aristotle or Horace or of the French, and emphasizes
that works of literature are to be judged on the basis of the impression they produce, and not with
reference to any rules. It is impressionistic; and individualistic, and freedom of inquiry is its keynote.
2. It is concerned with the fundamentals, such as the nature of poetry, and its functions, and not merely
with the problems of style, diction or literary genres. It is neither legislative nor judicial. It is concerned
mainly with the theory of poetry, and the process of poetic creation.
3. Emphasis is laid on imagination and emotion and not on reason and good sense. Poetic enthusiasm is
no longer looked down upon, as by the Neo-classics.
4. New definitions of poetry are attempted. Poetry is no longer considered as mere imitation or
invention but becomes the expression of emotion and imagination.Inspiration and intuition, rather than
adherence to rules, are regarded as the true basis of creation. No earlier English critic, except Sidney
(and he too only in passing), had examined such fundamental questions.
5. Pleasure rather than instruction becomes the end or function of poetry: "If poetry instructs, it does so
only through pleasure" (Coleridge). Poetry should transport and make people 'nobler' and 'better'
through such transport. Its appeal should be to the heart and not to the head.
6. Imagination is emphasized both as the basis of creation and judgment on what is created. It is
imagination which leads to the production of great work of art. Shakespeare is great because his works
are the product of imagination. Pope is not great as he is deficient in this respect. The critic also must
primarily be gifted with imagination; only then can he appreciate the beauty of a work of art. He must
enter imaginatively into the spirit of a work of art.
7. Views on poetic diction and versification undergo a radical change. Simplicity is emphasized both in
theme and treatment.
8. Romantic criticism is creative. It is as much the result of imagination as works of literature. Critics
express their views after entering imaginatively into the thoughts and feelings of the writers whose
works they may be examining.
9. The influence of Wordsworth and Coleridge was far reaching. Wordsworths Preface To The Lyrical
Ballads is an unofficial manifesto of the Romantic movement, for it throws out hints and makes
suggestions which capture the imagination, and which lead to the rise of the romantic criticism in the
early decades of the next century. Wordsworth was the first in many fields, he stimulate interest and
controversy, and so brought about fundamental change both in romantic, theory and practice. He is the
first theorist the Romantic Movement, and the credit of having given a particular shape and direction to
English romantic criticism must go to him. By his emphasis on simplicity both in theme and treatment
conquered new territories for poetry and so enlarged the domain both of theory and practice of
literature. By his emphasis on emotion and imagination he gave back to English poetry the stuff which
properly belongs to it, and in this way revolutionized literary concepts. He demolished much that was
false and injurious in English critical tradition, so that literary criticism in England could breathe a
larger and freer atmosphere. English criticismand poetrycould never be the same after
Wordsworth had written. To his influence was added that of Coleridge and other romantic critics, and
by the opening decades of the 19th century the revolution was complete. Neo-classicism had had its day
in England; now it was a thing of the past. The future lay with the new criticismthe romantic
criticismof Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley and many others.
This unit has presented the tenets of romanticism and shown how it
departs of classical criticism.

mmary Romantic Neo-Classical

Emphasis on Imagination Emphasis on Intellect
Free Play of Emotions and Restraint and Obsession with
Passions Reason
Proximity to the everyday life Remoteness or aloofness from
of common everyday life
Inspiration sought from Incidents from urban life
country life and prevailed
Primarily Subjective Primarily Objective
Turned to Medieval Age for Turned to Classical writers for
inspiration inspiration

The period of Romanticism is characterized not least by the
frequency and force of claims made in this period on behalf of
the poet and the faculty of imagination. Analyze these claims,
and the relationships between them, in works by two or more of
the following authors: Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, and
gnment Hazlitt. What sort of power is imagination, and what are its
effects? What are the grounds upon which the poet is claimed
to be a privileged figure in the modern world? And what are the
difficulties facing the poet (and the imaginative faculty more
generally) in that world?


ndix 1
The Republic (an extract)

excellences which I perceive in the order of our State, there is none which upon reflection pleases me better than the rule about poetry.
ou refer?
on of imitative poetry, which certainly ought not to be received; as I see far more clearly now that the parts of the soul have been distinguished.
onfidence, for I should not like to have my words repeated to the tragedians and the rest of the imitative tribebut I do not mind saying to you,
al imitations are ruinous to the understanding of the hearers, and that the knowledge of their true nature is the only antidote to them.
urport of your remark.
ell you, although I have always from my earliest youth had an awe and love of Homer, which even now makes the words falter on my lips, for
t captain and teacher of the whole of that charming tragic company; but a man is not to be reverenced more than the truth, and therefore I will

e said.
hen, or rather, answer me.
me what imitation is? for I really do not know.
, then, that I should know.
the duller eye may often see a thing sooner than the keener.
said; but in your presence, even if I had any faint notion, I could not muster courage to utter it. Will you enquire yourself?
hall we begin the enquiry in our usual manner: Whenever a number of individuals have a common name, we assume them to have also a
g idea or form:do you understand me?

ny common instance; there are beds and tables in the worldplenty of them, are there not?

only two ideas or forms of themone the idea of a bed, the other of a table.

er of either of them makes a bed or he makes a table for our use, in accordance with the ideathat is our way of speaking in this and similar
ut no artificer makes the ideas themselves: how could he?

another artist,I should like to know what you would say of him.

he maker of all the works of all other workmen.

aordinary man!
and there will be more reason for your saying so. For this is he who is able to make not only vessels of every kind, but plants and animals,
ll other thingsthe earth and heaven, and the things which are in heaven or under the earth; he makes the gods also.
wizard and no mistake.
ncredulous, are you? Do you mean that there is no such maker or creator, or that in one sense there might be a maker of all these things but in
Do you see that there is a way in which you could make them all yourself?

enough; or rather, there are many ways in which the feat might be quickly and easily accomplished, none quicker than that of turning a mirror
undyou would soon enough make the sun and the heavens, and the earth and yourself, and other animals and plants, and all the other things of
re just now speaking, in the mirror.
but they would be appearances only.
said, you are coming to the point now. And the painter too is, as
st such anothera creator of appearances, is he not?

ppose you will say that what he creates is untrue. And yet there is a sense in which the painter also creates a bed?
but not a real bed.
the maker of the bed? Were you not saying that he too makes, not the idea which, according to our view, is the essence of the bed, but only a

es not make that which exists he cannot make true existence, but only some semblance of existence; and if any one were to say that the work of
the bed, or of any other workman, has real existence, he could hardly be supposed to be speaking the truth.
e replied, philosophers would say that he was not speaking the truth.
hen, that his work too is an indistinct expression of truth.

that by the light of the examples just offered we enquire who this imitator is?

re are three beds: one existing in nature, which is made by God, as I think that we may sayfor no one else can be the maker?

her which is the work of the carpenter?

of the painter is a third?

e of three kinds, and there are three artists who superintend them: God, the maker of the bed, and the painter?
three of them.
from choice or from necessity, made one bed in nature and one only; two or more such ideal beds neither ever have been nor ever will be made

if He had made but two, a third would still appear behind them which both of them would have for their idea, and that would be the ideal bed
wo others.
is, and He desired to be the real maker of a real bed, not a particular maker of a particular bed, and therefore He created a bed which is
d by nature one only.
n, speak of Him as the natural author or maker of the bed?
d; inasmuch as by the natural process of creation He is the author of this and of all other things.
ll we say of the carpenteris not he also the maker of the bed?

u call the painter a creator and maker?

ot the maker, what is he in relation to the bed?

d, that we may fairly designate him as the imitator of that which the others make.
then you call him who is third in the descent from nature an imitator?
c poet is an imitator, and therefore, like all other imitators, he is thrice removed from the king and from the truth?
to be so.
he imitator we are agreed. And what about the painter?I would like to know whether he may be thought to imitate that which originally exists
only the creations of artists?

r as they appear? You have still to determine this.

ou may look at a bed from different points of view, obliquely or directly or from any other point of view, and the bed will appear different, but
ference in reality. And the same of all things.
the difference is only apparent.
sk you another question: Which is the art of painting designed to bean imitation of things as they are, or as they appearof appearance or of

ator, I said, is a long way off the truth, and can do all things because he lightly touches on a small part of them, and that part an image. For
painter will paint a cobbler, carpenter, or any other artist, though he knows nothing of their arts; and, if he is a good artist, he may deceive
mple persons, when he shows them his picture of a carpenter from a distance, and they will fancy that they are looking at a real carpenter.

er any one informs us that he has found a man who knows all the arts, and all things else that anybody knows, and every single thing with a
of accuracy than any other manwhoever tells us this, I think that we can only imagine him to be a simple creature who is likely to have been
ome wizard or actor whom he met, and whom he thought allknowing, because he himself was unable to analyse the nature of knowledge and
d imitation.

we hear persons saying that the tragedians, and Homer, who is at their head, know all the arts and all things human, virtue as well as vice, and
too, for that the good poet cannot compose well unless he knows his subject, and that he who has not this knowledge can never be a poet, we
ider whether here also there may not be a similar illusion. Perhaps they may have come across imitators and been deceived by them; they may
embered when they saw their works that these were but imitations thrice removed from the truth, and could easily be made without any
the truth, because they are appearances only and not realities? Or, after all, they may be in the right, and poets do really know the things about
em to the many to speak so well?
he said, should by all means be considered.
suppose that if a person were able to make the original as well as the image, he would seriously devote himself to the image-making branch?
ow imitation to be the ruling principle of his life, as if he had nothing higher in him?
t, who knew what he was imitating, would be interested in realities and not in imitations; and would desire to leave as memorials of himself
and fair; and, instead of being the author of encomiums, he would prefer to be the theme of them.
that would be to him a source of much greater honour and profit.
we must put a question to Homer; not about medicine, or any of the arts to which his poems only incidentally refer: we are not going to ask
ther poet, whether he has cured patients like Asclepius, or left behind him a school of medicine such as the Asclepiads were, or whether he only
edicine and other arts at second- hand; but we have a right to know respecting military tactics, politics, education, which are the chiefest and
cts of his poems, and we may fairly ask him about them. Friend Homer, then we say to him, if you are only in the second remove from truth
ay of virtue, and not in the thirdnot an image maker or imitatorand if you are able to discern what pursuits make men better or worse in
blic life, tell us what State was ever better governed by your help? The good order of Lacedaemon is due to Lycurgus, and many other cities
all have been similarly benefited by others; but who says that you have been a good legislator to them and have done them any good? Italy and
of Charondas, and there is Solon who is renowned among us; but what city has anything to say about you? Is there any city which he might

id Glaucon; not even the Homerids themselves pretend that he was a legislator.
here any war on record which was carried on successfully by him, or aided by his counsels, when he was alive?

y invention of his, applicable to the arts or to human life, such as Thales the Milesian or Anacharsis the Scythian, and other ingenious men have
hich is attributed to him?
lutely nothing of the kind.
r never did any public service, was he privately a guide or teacher of any? Had he in his lifetime friends who loved to associate with him, and
down to posterity an Homeric way of life, such as was established by Pythagoras who was so greatly beloved for his wisdom, and whose
to this day quite celebrated for the order which was named after him?
e kind is recorded of him. For surely, Socrates, Creophylus, the companion of Homer, that child of flesh, whose name always makes us laugh,
e justly ridiculed for his stupidity, if, as is said, Homer was greatly neglected by him and others in his own day when he was alive?
, that is the tradition. But can you imagine, Glaucon, that if Homer had really been able to educate and improve mankindif he had possessed
nd not been a mere imitatorcan you imagine, I say, that he would not have had many followers, and been honoured and loved by them?
Abdera, and Prodicus of Ceos, and a host of others, have only to whisper to their contemporaries: You will never be able to manage either
use or your own State until you appoint us to be your ministers of educationand this ingenious device of theirs has such an effect in making
m that their companions all but carry them about on their shoulders.
ceivable that the contemporaries of Homer, or again of Hesiod, would have allowed either of them to go about as rhapsodists, if they had really
make mankind virtuous? Would they not have been as unwilling to part with them as with gold, and have compelled them to stay at home with
he master would not stay, then the disciples would have followed him about everywhere, until they had got education enough?
, that, I think, is quite true.
e not infer that all these poetical individuals, beginning with Homer, are only imitators; they copy images of virtue and the like, but the truth
ach? The poet is like a painter who, as we have already observed, will make a likeness of a cobbler though he understands nothing of cobbling;
e is good enough for those who know no more than he does, and judge only by colours and figures.

er the poet with his words and phrases may be said to lay on the colours of the several arts, himself understanding their nature only enough to
and other people, who are as ignorant as he is, and judge only from his words, imagine that if he speaks of cobbling, or of military tactics, or of
, in metre and harmony and rhythm, he speaks very wellsuch is the sweet influence which melody and rhythm by nature have. And I think
have observed again and again what a poor appearance the tales of poets make when stripped of the colours which music puts upon them, and
ple prose.

faces which were never really beautiful, but only blooming; and now the bloom of youth has passed away from them?

er point: The imitator or maker of the image knows nothing of true existence; he knows appearances only. Am I not right?

ave a clear understanding, and not be satisfied with half an explanation.

we say that he will paint reins, and he will paint a bit?

er in leather and brass will make them?

painter know the right form of the bit and reins? Nay, hardly even the workers in brass and leather who make them; only the horseman who
o use themhe knows their right form.

not say the same of all things?

three arts which are concerned with all things: one which uses, another which makes, a third which imitates them?

llence or beauty or truth of every structure, animate or inanimate, and of every action of man, is relative to the use for which nature or the artist

of them must have the greatest experience of them, and he must indicate to the maker the good or bad qualities which develop themselves in
mple, the flute-player will tell the flute-maker which of his flutes is satisfactory to the performer; he will tell him how he ought to make them,
will attend to his instructions?

ws and therefore speaks with authority about the goodness and badness of flutes, while the other, confiding in him, will do what he is told by

nt is the same, but about the excellence or badness of it the maker will only attain to a correct belief; and this he will gain from him who knows,
him and being compelled to hear what he has to say, whereas the user will have knowledge?

imitator have either? Will he know from use whether or no his drawing is correct or beautiful? or will he have right opinion from being
associate with another who knows and gives him instructions about what he should draw?

no more have true opinion than he will have knowledge about the goodness or badness of his imitations?
artist will be in a brilliant state of intelligence about his own creations?
ch the reverse.
will go on imitating without knowing what makes a thing good or bad, and may be expected therefore to imitate only that which appears to be
norant multitude?

we are pretty well agreed that the imitator has no knowledge worth mentioning of what he imitates. Imitation is only a kind of play or sport,
poets, whether they write in Iambic or in Heroic verse, are imitators in the highest degree?

me, I conjure you, has not imitation been shown by us to be concerned with that which is thrice removed from the truth?

he faculty in man to which imitation is addressed?

: The body which is large when seen near, appears small when seen at a distance?

e object appears straight when looked at out of the water, and crooked when in the water; and the concave becomes convex, owing to the
colours to which the sight is liable. Thus every sort of confusion is revealed within us; and this is that weakness of the human mind on which
juring and of deceiving by light and shadow and other ingenious devices imposes, having an effect upon us like magic.

of measuring and numbering and weighing come to the rescue of the human understandingthere is the beauty of themand the apparent
s, or more or heavier, no longer have the mastery over us, but give way before calculation and measure and weight?

ely, must be the work of the calculating and rational principle in the soul?

his principle measures and certifies that some things are equal, or that some are greater or less than others, there occurs an apparent

not saying that such a contradiction is impossiblethe same faculty cannot have contrary opinions at the same time about the same thing?

t of the soul which has an opinion contrary to measure is not the same with that which has an opinion in accordance with measure?

r part of the soul is likely to be that which trusts to measure and calculation?

ch is opposed to them is one of the inferior principles of the soul?

conclusion at which I was seeking to arrive when I said that painting or drawing, and imitation in general, when doing their own proper work,
ed from truth, and the companions and friends and associates of a principle within us which is equally removed from reason, and that they have
lthy aim.

art is an inferior who marries an inferior, and has inferior offspring.

nfined to the sight only, or does it extend to the hearing also, relating in fact to what we term poetry?
same would be true of poetry.
I said, on a probability derived from the analogy of painting; but let us examine further and see whether the faculty with which poetical
oncerned is good or bad.

the question thus:Imitation imitates the actions of men, whether voluntary or involuntary, on which, as they imagine, a good or bad result
nd they rejoice or sorrow accordingly. Is there anything more?
othing else.
s variety of circumstances is the man at unity with himselfor rather, as in the instance of sight there was confusion and opposition in his
ut the same things, so here also is there not strife and inconsistency in his life? Though I need hardly raise the question again, for I remember
as been already admitted; and the soul has been acknowledged by us to be full of these and ten thousand similar oppositions occurring at the
right, he said.
us far we were right; but there was an omission which must now be supplied.
saying that a good man, who has the misfortune to lose his son or anything else which is most dear to him, will bear the loss with more
an another?

ave no sorrow, or shall we say that although he cannot help sorrowing, he will moderate his sorrow?
said, is the truer statement.
he be more likely to struggle and hold out against his sorrow when he is seen by his equals, or when he is alone?
great difference whether he is seen or not.
y himself he will not mind saying or doing many things which he would be ashamed of any one hearing or seeing him do?

nciple of law and reason in him which bids him resist, as well as a feeling of his misfortune which is forcing him to indulge his sorrow?

man is drawn in two opposite directions, to and from the same object, this, as we affirm, necessarily implies two distinct principles in him?

s ready to follow the guidance of the law?

d say that to be patient under suffering is best, and that we should not give way to impatience, as there is no knowing whether such things are
and nothing is gained by impatience; also, because no human thing is of serious importance, and grief stands in the way of that which at the
ost required.
required? he asked.
ld take counsel about what has happened, and when the dice have been thrown order our affairs in the way which reason deems best; not, like
have had a fall, keeping hold of the part struck and wasting time in setting up a howl, but always accustoming the soul forthwith to apply a
ng up that which is sickly and fallen, banishing the cry of sorrow by the healing art.
that is the true way of meeting the attacks of fortune.
nd the higher principle is ready to follow this suggestion of reason?

r principle, which inclines us to recollection of our troubles and to lamentation, and can never have enough of them, we may call irrational,
the latterI mean the rebellious principlefurnish a great variety of materials for imitation? Whereas the wise and calm temperament, being
y equable, is not easy to imitate or to appreciate when imitated, especially at a public festival when a promiscuous crowd is assembled in a
he feeling represented is one to which they are strangers.

ative poet who aims at being popular is not by nature made, nor is his art intended, to please or to affect the rational principle in the soul; but he
e passionate and fitful temper, which is easily imitated?
may fairly take him and place him by the side of the painter, for he is like him in two ways: first, inasmuch as his creations have an inferior
hin this, I say, he is like him; and he is also like him in being concerned with an inferior part of the soul; and therefore we shall be right in
mit him into a well-ordered State, because he awakens and nourishes and strengthens the feelings and impairs the reason. As in a city when the
mitted to have authority and the good are put out of the way, so in the soul of man, as we maintain, the imitative poet implants an evil
for he indulges the irrational nature which has no discernment of greater and less, but thinks the same thing at one time great and at another
a manufacturer of images and is very far removed from the truth.

not yet brought forward the heaviest count in our accusation: the power which poetry has of harming even the good (and there are very few
armed), is surely an awful thing?
, if the effect is what you say.
ge: The best of us, as I conceive, when we listen to a passage of Homer, or one of the tragedians, in which he represents some pitiful hero who
ut his sorrows in a long oration, or weeping, and smiting his breastthe best of us, you know, delight in giving way to sympathy, and are in
e excellence of the poet who stirs our feelings most.
e I know.
y sorrow of our own happens to us, then you may observe that we pride ourselves on the opposite qualitywe would fain be quiet and patient;
nly part, and the other which delighted us in the recitation is now deemed to be the part of a woman.
be right in praising and admiring another who is doing that which any one of us would abominate and be ashamed of in his own person?
hat is certainly not reasonable.
uite reasonable from one point of view.
er, I said, that when in misfortune we feel a natural hunger and desire to relieve our sorrow by weeping and lamentation, and that this feeling
under control in our own calamities is satisfied and delighted by the poets;the better nature in each of us, not having been sufficiently trained
habit, allows the sympathetic element to break loose because the sorrow is anothers; and the spectator fancies that there can be no disgrace to
aising and pitying anyone who comes telling him what a good man he is, and making a fuss about his troubles; he thinks that the pleasure is a
y should he be supercilious and lose this and the poem too? Few persons ever reflect, as I should imagine, that from the evil of other men
evil is communicated to themselves. And so the feeling of sorrow which has gathered strength at the sight of the misfortunes of others is with
ressed in our own.
the same hold also of the ridiculous? There are jests which you would be ashamed to make yourself, and yet on the comic stage, or indeed in
you hear them, you are greatly amused by them, and are not at all disgusted at their unseemliness;the case of pity is repeated;there is a
uman nature which is disposed to raise a laugh, and this which you once restrained by reason, because you were afraid of being thought a
ow let out again; and having stimulated the risible faculty at the theatre, you are betrayed unconsciously to yourself into playing the comic poet

e may be said of lust and anger and all the other affections, of desire and pain and pleasure, which are held to be inseparable from every
of them poetry feeds and waters the passions instead of drying them up; she lets them rule, although they ought to be controlled, if mankind
crease in happiness and virtue.
aucon, I said, whenever you meet with any of the eulogists of Homer declaring that he has been the educator of Hellas, and that he is profitable
and for the ordering of human things, and that you should take him up again and again and get to know him and regulate your whole life
him, we may love and honour those who say these thingsthey are excellent people, as far as their lights extend; and we are ready to
that Homer is the greatest of poets and first of tragedy writers; but we must remain firm in our conviction that hymns to the gods and praises of
are the only poetry which ought to be admitted into our State. For if you go beyond this and allow the honeyed muse to enter, either in epic or
ot law and the reason of mankind, which by common consent have ever been deemed best, but pleasure and pain will be the rulers in our State.
rue, he said.
ce we have reverted to the subject of poetry, let this our defence serve to show the reasonableness of our former judgment in sending away out
an art having the tendencies which we have described; for reason constrained us. But that she may not impute to us any harshness or want of
us tell her that there is an ancient quarrel between philosophy and poetry; of which there are many proofs, such as the saying of the yelping
g at her lord, or of one mighty in the vain talk of fools, and the mob of sages circumventing Zeus, and the subtle thinkers who are beggars
there are innumerable other signs of ancient enmity between them.
ing this, let us assure our sweet friend and the sister arts of imitation, that if she will only prove her title to exist in a well-ordered State we shall
o receive herwe are very conscious of her charms; but we may not on that account betray the truth. I dare say, Glaucon, that you are as much
er as I am, especially when she appears in Homer?
am greatly charmed.
se, then, that she be allowed to return from exile, but upon this condition onlythat she make a defence of herself in lyrical or some other

further grant to those of her defenders who are lovers of poetry and yet not poets the permission to speak in prose on her behalf: let them show
she is pleasant but also useful to States and to human life, and we will listen in a kindly spirit; for if this can be proved we shall surely be the
ean, if there is a use in poetry as well as a delight?
said, we shall be the gainers.
e fails, then, my dear friend, like other persons who are enamoured of something, but put a restraint upon themselves when they think their
pposed to their interests, so too must we after the manner of lovers give her up, though not without a struggle. We too are inspired by that love
ch the education of noble States has implanted in us, and therefore we would have her appear at her best and truest; but so long as she is unable
her defence, this argument of ours shall be a charm to us, which we will repeat to ourselves while we listen to her strains; that we may not fall
e childish love of her which captivates the many. At all events we are well aware that poetry being such as we have described is not to be
ously as attaining to the truth; and he who listens to her, fearing for the safety of the city which is within him, should be on his guard against her
d make our words his law.
I quite agree with you.
my dear Glaucon, for great is the issue at stake, greater than appears, whether a man is to be good or bad. And what will anyone be profited if
uence of honour or money or power, aye, or under the excitement of poetry, he neglect justice and virtue?
I have been convinced by the argument, as I believe that anyone else would have been.
ention has been made of the greatest prizes and rewards which await virtue.
re any greater still? If there are, they must be of an inconceivable greatness.
what was ever great in a short time? The whole period of three score years and ten is surely but a little thing in comparison with eternity?
othing, he replied.
n immortal being seriously think of this little space rather than of the whole?
certainly. But why do you ask?
ware, I said, that the soul of man is immortal and imperishable?
me in astonishment, and said: No, by heaven: And are you really prepared to maintain this?
ought to be, and you toothere is no difficulty in proving it.
ifficulty; but I should like to hear you state this argument of which you make so light.

ng which you call good and another which you call evil?
gree with me in thinking that the corrupting and destroying element is the evil, and the saving and improving element the good?

it that every thing has a good and also an evil; as ophthalmia is the evil of the eyes and disease of the whole body; as mildew is of corn, and rot
rust of copper and iron: in everything, or in almost everything, there is an inherent evil and disease?

which is infected by any of these evils is made evil, and at last wholly dissolves and dies?

evil which is inherent in each is the destruction of each; and if this does not destroy them there is nothing else that will; for good certainly will
em, nor again, that which is neither good nor evil.

ind any nature which having this inherent corruption cannot be dissolved or destroyed, we may be certain that of such a nature there is no

and is there no evil which corrupts the soul?
there are all the evils which we were just now passing in review: unrighteousness, intemperance, cowardice, ignorance.
of these dissolve or destroy her?and here do not let us fall into the error of supposing that the unjust and foolish man, when he is detected,
ugh his own injustice, which is an evil of the soul. Take the analogy of the body: The evil of the body is a disease which wastes and reduces and
e body; and all the things of which we were just now speaking come to annihilation through their own corruption attaching to them and
em and so destroying them. Is not this true?

soul in like manner. Does the injustice or other evil which exists in the soul waste and consume her? Do they by attaching to the soul and
r at last bring her to death, and so separate her from the body?

id, it is unreasonable to suppose that anything can perish from without through affection of external evil which could not be destroyed from
orruption of its own?
id, Glaucon, that even the badness of food, whether staleness, decomposition, or any other bad quality, when confined to the actual food, is not
estroy the body; although, if the badness of food communicates corruption to the body, then we should say that the body has been destroyed by
of itself, which is disease, brought on by this; but that the body, being one thing, can be destroyed by the badness of food, which is another, and
ot engender any natural infectionthis we shall absolutely deny?

ame principle, unless some bodily evil can produce an evil of the soul, we must not suppose that the soul, which is one thing, can be dissolved
y external evil which belongs to another?
there is reason in that.
et us refute this conclusion, or, while it remains unrefuted, let us never say that fever, or any other disease, or the knife put to the throat, or even
p of the whole body into the minutest pieces, can destroy the soul, until she herself is proved to become more unholy or unrighteous in
of these things being done to the body; but that the soul, or anything else if not destroyed by an internal evil, can be destroyed by an external
be affirmed by any man.
e replied, no one will ever prove that the souls of men become more unjust in consequence of death.
ne who would rather not admit the immortality of the soul boldly denies this, and says that the dying do really become more evil and
hen, if the speaker is right, I suppose that injustice, like disease, must be assumed to be fatal to the unjust, and that those who take this disorder
ural inherent power of destruction which evil has, and which kills them sooner or later, but in quite another way from that in which, at present,
ceive death at the hands of others as the penalty of their deeds?
in that case injustice, if fatal to the unjust, will not be so very terrible to him, for he will be delivered from evil. But I rather suspect the
e the truth, and that injustice which, if it have the power, will murder others, keeps the murderer aliveaye, and well awake too; so far removed
g-place from being a house of death.
f the inherent natural vice or evil of the soul is unable to kill or destroy her, hardly will that which is appointed to be the destruction of some
estroy a soul or anything else except that of which it was appointed to be the destruction.
hardly be.
which cannot be destroyed by an evil, whether inherent or external, must exist for ever, and if existing for ever, must be immortal?

nclusion, I said; and, if a true conclusion, then the souls must always be the same, for if none be destroyed they will not diminish in number.
hey increase, for the increase of the immortal natures must come from something mortal, and all things would thus end in immortality.

annot believereason will not allow usany more than we can believe the soul, in her truest nature, to be full of variety and difference and

mean? he said.
id, being, as is now proven, immortal, must be the fairest of compositions and cannot be compounded of many elements?

ity is demonstrated by the previous argument, and there are many other proofs; but to see her as she really is, not as we now behold her, marred
on with the body and other miseries, you must contemplate her with the eye of reason, in her original purity; and then her beauty will be
justice and injustice and all the things which we have described will be manifested more clearly. Thus far, we have spoken the truth concerning
pears at present, but we must remember also that we have seen her only in a condition which may be compared to that of the sea-god Glaucus,
al image can hardly be discerned because his natural members are broken off and crushed and damaged by the waves in all sorts of ways, and
have grown over them of seaweed and shells and stones, so that he is more like some monster than he is to his own natural form. And the soul
old is in a similar condition, disfigured by ten thousand ills. But not there, Glaucon, not there must we look.

f wisdom. Let us see whom she affects, and what society and converse she seeks in virtue of her near kindred with the immortal and eternal and
ow different she would become if wholly following this superior principle, and borne by a divine impulse out of the ocean in which she now is,
ed from the stones and shells and things of earth and rock which in wild variety spring up around her because she feeds upon earth, and is
y the good things of this life as they are termed: then you would see her as she is, and know whether she have one shape only or many, or what
Of her affections and of the forms which she takes in this present life I think that we have now said enough.
aid, we have fulfilled the conditions of the argument; we have not introduced the rewards and glories of justice, which, as you were saying, are
n Homer and Hesiod; but justice in her own nature has been shown to be best for the soul in her own nature. Let a man do what is just, whether
ng of Gyges or not, and even if in addition to the ring of Gyges he put on the helmet of Hades.

aucon, there will be no harm in further enumerating how many and how great are the rewards which justice and the other virtues procure to the
ds and men, both in life and after death.
he said.
y me, then, what you borrowed in the argument?
on that the just man should appear unjust and the unjust just: for you were of opinion that even if the true state of the case could not possibly
es of gods and men, still this admission ought to be made for the sake of the argument, in order that pure justice might be weighed against pure
you remember?
uch to blame if I had forgotten.
cause is decided, I demand on behalf of justice that the estimation in which she is held by gods and men and which we acknowledge to be her
ow be restored to her by us; since she has been shown to confer reality, and not to deceive those who truly possess her, let what has been taken
iven back, that so she may win that palm of appearance which is hers also, and which she gives to her own.
he said, is just.
ace, I saidand this is the first thing which you will have to give backthe nature both of the just and unjust is truly known to the gods.

e both known to them, one must be the friend and the other the enemy of the gods, as we admitted from the beginning?

d of the gods may be supposed to receive from them all things at their best, excepting only such evil as is the necessary consequence of former

st be our notion of the just man, that even when he is in poverty or sickness, or any other seeming misfortune, all things will in the end work
ood to him in life and death: for the gods have a care of any one whose desire is to become just and to be like God, as far as man can attain the
ss, by the pursuit of virtue?
if he is like God he will surely not be neglected by him.
just may not the opposite be supposed?

e the palms of victory which the gods give the just?

they receive of men? Look at things as they really are, and you will see that the clever unjust are in the case of runners, who run well from the
to the goal but not back again from the goal: they go off at a great pace, but in the end only look foolish, slinking away with their ears
their shoulders, and without a crown; but the true runner comes to the finish and receives the prize and is crowned. And this is the way with the
endures to the end of every action and occasion of his entire life has a good report and carries off the prize which men have to bestow.

must allow me to repeat of the just the blessings which you were attributing to the fortunate unjust. I shall say of them, what you were saying
that as they grow older, they become rulers in their own city if they care to be; they marry whom they like and give in marriage to whom they
you said of the others I now say of these. And, on the other hand, of the unjust I say that the greater number, even though they escape in their
und out at last and look foolish at the end of their course, and when they come to be old and miserable are flouted alike by stranger and citizen;
en and then come those things unfit for ears polite, as you truly term them; they will be racked and have their eyes burned out, as you were
you may suppose that I have repeated the remainder of your tale of horrors. But will you let me assume, without reciting them, that these things

said, what you say is true.

are the prizes and rewards and gifts which are bestowed upon the just by gods and men in this present life, in addition to the other good things
of herself provides.
and they are fair and lasting.
id, all these are as nothing either in number or greatness in comparison with those other recompenses which await both just and unjust after
ou ought to hear them, and then both just and unjust will have received from us a full payment of the debt which the argument owes to them.
d; there are few things which I would more gladly hear.
I will tell you a tale; not one of the tales which Odysseus tells to the hero Alcinous, yet this too is a tale of a hero, Er the son of Armenius, a
by birth. He was slain in battle, and ten days afterwards, when the bodies of the dead were taken up already in a state of corruption, his body
affected by decay, and carried away home to be buried. And on the twelfth day, as he was lying on the funeral pile, he returned to life and told
had seen in the other world. He said that when his soul left the body he went on a journey with a great company, and that they came to a
ace at which there were two openings in the earth; they were near together, and over against them were two other openings in the heaven

ediate space there were judges seated, who commanded the just, after they had given judgment on them and had bound their sentences in front
cend by the heavenly way on the right hand; and in like manner the unjust were bidden by them to descend by the lower way on the left hand;
e the symbols of their deeds, but fastened on their backs. He drew near, and they told him that he was to be the messenger who would carry the
other world to men, and they bade him hear and see all that was to be heard and seen in that place. Then he beheld and saw on one side the
ng at either opening of heaven and earth when sentence had been given on them; and at the two other openings other souls, some ascending out
usty and worn with travel, some descending out of heaven clean and bright. And arriving ever and anon they seemed to have come from a long
they went forth with gladness into the meadow, where they encamped as at a festival; and those who knew one another embraced and
e souls which came from earth curiously enquiring about the things above, and the souls which came from heaven about the things beneath.
d one another of what had happened by the way, those from below weeping and sorrowing at the remembrance of the things which they had
seen in their journey beneath the earth (now the journey lasted a thousand years), while those from above were describing heavenly delights and
onceivable beauty.
aucon, would take too long to tell; but the sum was this:He said that for every wrong which they had done to any one they suffered tenfold;
hundred yearssuch being reckoned to be the length of mans life, and the penalty being thus paid ten times in a thousand years. If, for
e were any who had been the cause of many deaths, or had betrayed or enslaved cities or armies, or been guilty of any other evil behaviour, for
of their offences they received punishment ten times over, and the rewards of beneficence and justice and holiness were in the same proportion.
repeat what he said concerning young children dying almost as soon as they were born. Of piety and impiety to gods and parents, and of
ere were retributions other and greater far which he described. He mentioned that he was present when one of the spirits asked another, Where
e Great? (Now this Ardiaeus lived a thousand years before the time of Er: he had been the tyrant of some city of Pamphylia, and had murdered
er and his elder brother, and was said to have committed many other abominable crimes.) The answer of the other spirit was: He comes not
ll never come. And this, said he, was one of the dreadful sights which we ourselves witnessed. We were at the mouth of the cavern, and,
eted all our experiences, were about to reascend, when of a sudden Ardiaeus appeared and several others, most of whom were tyrants; and
so besides the tyrants private individuals who had been great criminals: they were just, as they fancied, about to return into the upper world, but
stead of admitting them, gave a roar, whenever any of these incurable sinners or some one who had not been sufficiently punished tried to
hen wild men of fiery aspect, who were standing by and heard the sound, seized and carried them off; and Ardiaeus and others they bound head
hand, and threw them down and flayed them with scourges, and dragged them along the road at the side, carding them on thorns like wool, and
he passersby what were their crimes, and that they were being taken away to be cast into hell. And of all the many terrors which they had
aid that there was none like the terror which each of them felt at that moment, lest they should hear the voice; and when there was silence, one
scended with exceeding joy. These, said Er, were the penalties and retributions, and there were blessings as great. Now when the spirits which
eadow had tarried seven days, on the eighth they were obliged to proceed on their journey, and, on the fourth day after, he said that they came
ere they could see from above a line of light, straight as a column, extending right through the whole heaven and through the earth, in colour
e rainbow, only brighter and purer; another days journey brought them to the place, and there, in the midst of the light, they saw the ends of
heaven let down from above: for this light is the belt of heaven, and holds together the circle of the universe, like the under-girders of a trireme.
nds is extended the spindle of Necessity, on which all the revolutions turn. The shaft and hook of this spindle are made of steel, and the whorl is
f steel and also partly of other materials. Now the whorl is in form like the whorl used on earth; and %the description of it implied that there is
low whorl which is quite scooped out, and into this is fitted another lesser one, and another, and another, and four others, making eight in all,
which fit into one another; the whorls show their edges on the upper side, and on their lower side all together form one continuous whorl. This is
e spindle, which is driven home through the centre of the eighth. The first and outermost whorl has the rim broadest, and the seven inner whorls
in the following proportionsthe sixth is next to the first in size, the fourth next to the sixth; then comes the eighth; the seventh is fifth, the
the third is seventh, last and eighth comes the second. The largest (or fixed stars) is spangled, and the seventh (or sun) is brightest; the eighth
loured by the reflected light of the seventh; the second and fifth (Saturn and Mercury) are in colour like one another, and yellower than the
e third (Venus) has the whitest light; the fourth (Mars) is reddish; the sixth (Jupiter) is in whiteness second. Now the whole spindle has the same
as the whole revolves in one direction, the seven inner circles move slowly in the other, and of these the swiftest is the eighth; next in swiftness
h, sixth, and fifth, which move together; third in swiftness appeared to move according to the law of this reversed motion the fourth; the third
rth and the second fifth. The spindle turns on the knees of Necessity; and on the upper surface of each circle is a siren, who goes round with
g a single tone or note. The eight together form one harmony; and round about, at equal intervals, there is another band, three in number, each
er throne: these are the Fates, daughters of Necessity, who are clothed in white robes and have chaplets upon their heads, Lachesis and Clotho
who accompany with their voices the harmony of the sirensLachesis singing of the past, Clotho of the present, Atropos of the future; Clotho
time assisting with a touch of her right hand the revolution of the outer circle of the whorl or spindle, and Atropos with her left hand touching
he inner ones, and Lachesis laying hold of either in turn, first with one hand and then with the other.
the spirits arrived, their duty was to go at once to Lachesis; but first of all there came a prophet who arranged them in order; then he took from
Lachesis lots and samples of lives, and having mounted a high pulpit, spoke as follows: Hear the word of Lachesis, the daughter of Necessity.
behold a new cycle of life and mortality. Your genius will not be allotted to you, but you will choose your genius; and let him who draws the
the first choice, and the life which he chooses shall be his destiny. Virtue is free, and as a man honours or dishonours her he will have more or
e responsibility is with the chooserGod is justified. When the Interpreter had thus spoken he scattered lots indifferently among them all, and
took up the lot which fell near him, all but Er himself (he was not allowed), and each as he took his lot perceived the number which he had
n the Interpreter placed on the ground before them the samples of lives; and there were many more lives than the souls present, and they were
here were lives of every animal and of man in every condition. And there were tyrannies among them, some lasting out the tyrants life, others
off in the middle and came to an end in poverty and exile and beggary; and there were lives of famous men, some who were famous for their
uty as well as for their strength and success in games, or, again, for their birth and the qualities of their ancestors; and some who were the
mous for the opposite qualities. And of women likewise; there was not, however, any definite character in them, because the soul, when
ew life, must of necessity become different. But there was every other quality, and the all mingled with one another, and also with elements of
overty, and disease and health; and there were mean states also. And here, my dear Glaucon, is the supreme peril of our human state; and
utmost care should be taken.
of us leave every other kind of knowledge and seek and follow one thing only, if peradventure he may be able to learn and may find some one
e him able to learn and discern between good and evil, and so to choose always and everywhere the better life as he has opportunity. He should
bearing of all these things which have been mentioned severally and collectively upon virtue; he should know what the effect of beauty is when
h poverty or wealth in a particular soul, and what are the good and evil consequences of noble and humble birth, of private and public station,
d weakness, of cleverness and dullness, and of all the natural and acquired gifts of the soul, and the operation of them when conjoined; he will
he nature of the soul, and from the consideration of all these qualities he will be able to determine which is the better and which is the worse;
l choose, giving the name of evil to the life which will make his soul more unjust, and good to the life which will make his soul more just; all
isregard. For we have seen and know that this is the best choice both in life and after death. A man must take with him into the world below an
aith in truth and right, that there too he may be undazzled by the desire of wealth or the other allurements of evil, lest, coming upon tyrannies
llainies, he do irremediable wrongs to others and suffer yet worse himself; but let him know how to choose the mean and avoid the extremes on
far as possible, not only in this life but in all that which is to come. For this is the way of happiness.
g to the report of the messenger from the other world this was what the prophet said at the time: Even for the last comer, if he chooses wisely
diligently, there is appointed a happy and not undesirable existence. Let not him who chooses first be careless, and let not the last despair.
had spoken, he who had the first choice came forward and in a moment chose the greatest tyranny; his mind having been darkened by folly and
had not thought out the whole matter before he chose, and did not at first sight perceive that he was fated, among other evils, to devour his
. But when he had time to reflect, and saw what was in the lot, he began to beat his breast and lament over his choice, forgetting the
of the prophet; for, instead of throwing the blame of his misfortune on himself, he accused chance and the gods, and everything rather than
he was one of those who came from heaven, and in a former life had dwelt in a wellordered State, but his virtue was a matter of habit only, and
ilosophy. And it was true of others who were similarly overtaken, that the greater number of them came from heaven and therefore they had
hooled by trial, whereas the pilgrims who came from earth having themselves suffered and seen others suffer, were not in a hurry to choose.
o this inexperience %of theirs, and also because the lot was a chance, many of the souls exchanged a good destiny for an evil or an evil for a
a man had always on his arrival in this world dedicated himself from the first to sound philosophy, and had been moderately fortunate in the
e lot, he might, as the messenger reported, be happy here, and also his journey to another life and return to this, instead of being rough and
would be smooth and heavenly. Most curious, he said, was the spectaclesad and laughable and strange; for the choice of the souls was in
sed on their experience of a previous life. There he saw the soul which had once been Orpheus choosing the life of a swan out of enmity to the
n, hating to be born of a woman because they had been his murderers; he beheld also the soul of Thamyras choosing the life of a nightingale;
other hand, like the swan and other musicians, wanting to be men. The soul which obtained the twentieth lot chose the life of a lion, and this
of Ajax the son of Telamon, who would not be a man, remembering the injustice which was done him in the judgment about the arms. The next
non, who took the life of an eagle, because, like Ajax, he hated human nature by reason of his sufferings. About the middle came the lot of
, seeing the great fame of an athlete, was unable to resist the temptation: and after her there followed the soul of Epeus the son of Panopeus
he nature of a woman cunning in the arts; and far away among the last who chose, the soul of the jester Thersites was putting on the form of a
re came also the soul of Odysseus having yet to make a choice, and his lot happened to be the last of them all. Now the recollection of former
nchanted him of ambition, and he went about for a considerable time in search of the life of a private man who had no cares; he had some
inding this, which was lying about and had been neglected by everybody else; and when he saw it, he said that he would have done the same
en first instead of last, and that he was delighted to have it. And not only did men pass into animals, but I must also mention that there were
and wild who changed into one another and into corresponding human naturesthe good into the gentle and the evil into the savage, in all
had now chosen their lives, and they went in the order of their choice to Lachesis, who sent with them the genius whom they had severally
the guardian of their lives and the fulfiller of the choice: this genius led the souls first to Clotho, and drew them within the revolution of the
led by her hand, thus ratifying the destiny of each; and then, when they were fastened to this, carried them to Atropos, who spun the threads
m irreversible, whence without turning round they passed beneath the throne of Necessity; and when they had all passed, they marched on in a
t to the plain of Forgetfulness, which was a barren waste destitute of trees and verdure; and then towards evening they encamped by the river of
ss, whose water no vessel can hold; of this they were all obliged to drink a certain quantity, and those who were not saved by wisdom drank
s necessary; and each one as he drank forgot all things. Now after they had gone to rest, about the middle of the night there was a thunderstorm
ke, and then in an instant they were driven upwards in all manner of ways to their birth, like stars shooting. He himself was hindered from
water. But in what manner or by what means he returned to the body he could not say; only, in the morning, awaking suddenly, he found
on the pyre.
aucon, the tale has been saved and has not perished, and will save us if we are obedient to the word spoken; and we shall pass safely over the
etfulness and our soul will not be defiled. Wherefore my counsel is, that we hold fast ever to the heavenly way and follow after justice and
, considering that the soul is immortal and able to endure every sort of good and every sort of evil. Thus shall we live dear to one another and to
h while remaining here and when, like conquerors in the games who go round to gather gifts, we receive our reward. And it shall be well with
s life and in the pilgrimage of a thousand years which we have been describing.

ndix 2
es Poetics (an extract)
Translated by S. H. Butcher

Definition of Tragedy.
The Plot must be a Whole.
The Plot must be a Unity.
(Plot continued.) Dramatic Unity.
(Plot continued.) Definitions of Simple and Complex Plots.
(Plot continued.) Reversal of the Situation, Recognition, and Tragic or disastrous Incident defined and explained.
The quantitative parts of Tragedy defined.
(Plot continued.) What constitutes Tragic Action.
(Plot continued.) The tragic emotions of pity and fear should spring out of the Plot itself.
The element of Character in Tragedy.
(Plot continued.) Recognition: its various kinds, with examples.
Practical rules for the Tragic Poet.
Further rules for the Tragic Poet.
Thought, or the Intellectual element, and Diction in Tragedy.
which imitates in hexameter verse, and of Comedy, we will speak hereafter. Let us now discuss Tragedy, resuming its formal definition, as
m what has been already said. Tragedy, then, is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language
with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; through
effecting the proper purgation of these emotions. By language embellished, I mean language into which rhythm, harmony, and song enter.
al kinds in separate parts, I mean, that some parts are rendered through the medium of verse alone, others again with the aid of song.
imitation implies persons acting, it necessarily follows, in the first place, that Spectacular equipment will be a part of Tragedy. Next, Song and
hese are the medium of imitation. By Diction I mean the mere metrical arrangement of the words: as for Song, it is a term whose sense
dy is the imitation of an action; and an action implies personal agents, who necessarily possess certain distinctive qualities both of character and
t is by these that we qualify actions themselves, and thesethought and characterare the two natural causes from which actions spring, and
ain all success or failure depends.
ot is the imitation of the action: for by plot I here mean the arrangement of the incidents. By Character I mean that in virtue of which we ascribe
es to the agents. Thought is required wherever a statement is proved, or, it may be, a general truth enunciated. Every Tragedy, therefore, must
s, which parts determine its quality namely, Plot, Character, Diction, Thought, Spectacle, Song. Two of the parts constitute the medium of
the manner, and three the objects of imitation. And these complete the list. These elements have been employed, we may say, by the poets to a
every play contains Spectacular elements as well as Character, Plot, Diction, Song, and Thought. But most important of all is the structure of
For Tragedy is an imitation, not of men, but of an action and of life, and life consists in action, and its end is a mode of action, not a quality.
r determines mens qualities, but it is by their actions that they are happy or the reverse.
on, therefore, is not with a view to the representation of character: character comes in as subsidiary to the actions. Hence the incidents and the
nd of a tragedy; and the end is the chief thing of all. Again, without action there cannot be a tragedy; there may be without character. The
most of our modern poets fail in the rendering of character; and of poets in general this is often true. It is the same in painting; and here lies the
ween Zeuxis and Polygnotus. Polygnotus delineates character well: the style of Zeuxis is devoid of ethical quality. Again, if you string together
hes expressive of character, and well finished in point of diction and thought, you will not produce thc essential tragic effect nearly so well as
which, however deficient in these respects, yet has a plot and artistically constructed incidents. Besides which, the most powerful elements of
terest in Tragedy Peripeteia or Reversal of the Situation, and Recognition scenesare parts of the plot. A further proof is, that novices in the art
h: of diction and precision of portraiture before they can construct the plot. It is the same with almost all the early poets.
n, is the first principle, and, as it were, the soul of a tragedy: Character holds the second place. A similar fact is seen in painting. The most
urs, laid on confusedly, will not give as much pleasure as the chalk outline of a portrait. Thus Tragedy is the imitation of an action, and of the
y with a view to the action.
r is Thought,that is, the faculty of saying what is possible and pertinent in given circumstances. In the case of oratory, this is the function of
art and of the art of rhetoric: and so indeed the older poets make their characters speak the language of civic life; the poets of our time, the
he rhetoricians. Character is that which reveals moral purpose, showing what kind of things a man chooses or avoids. Speeches, therefore,
make this manifest, or in which the speaker does not choose or avoid anything whatever, are not expressive of character.
the other hand, is found where something is proved to be. or not to be, or a general maxim is enunciated. Fourth among the elements
omes Diction; by which I mean, as has been already said, the expression of the meaning in words; and its essence is the same both in verse and

ning elements Song holds the chief place among the embellishments. The Spectacle has, indeed, an emotional attraction of its own, but, of all
the least artistic, and connected least with the art of poetry. For the power of Tragedy, we may be sure, is felt even apart from representation
esides, the production of spectacular effects depends more on the art of the stage machinist than on that of the poet.

ples being established, let us now discuss the proper structure of the Plot, since this is the first and most important thing in Tragedy. Now,
our definition, Tragedy is an imitation of an action that is complete, and whole, and of a certain magnitude; for there may be a whole that is
agnitude. A whole is that which has a beginning, a middle, and an end. A beginning is that which does not itself follow anything by causal
after which something naturally is or comes to be. An end, on the contrary, is that which itself naturally follows some other thing, either by
as a rule, but has nothing following it. A middle is that which follows something as some other thing follows it. A well constructed plot,
st neither begin nor end at haphazard, but conform to these principles.
tiful object, whether it be a living organism or any whole composed of parts, must not only have an orderly arrangement of parts, but must also
in magnitude; for beauty depends on magnitude and order. Hence a very small animal organism cannot be beautiful; for the view of it is
object being seen in an almost imperceptible moment of time. Nor, again, can one of vast size be beautiful; for as the eye cannot take it all in at
y and sense of the whole is lost for the spectator; as for instance if there were one a thousand miles long. As, therefore, in the case of animate
rganisms a certain magnitude is necessary, and a magnitude which may be easily embraced in one view; so in the plot, a certain length is
d a length which can be easily embraced by the memory. The limit of length in relation to dramatic competition and sensuous presentment, is
tistic theory. For had it been the rule for a hundred tragedies to compete together, the performance would have been regulated by the
as indeed we are told was formerly done. But the limit as fixed by the nature of the drama itself is this: the greater the length, the more
the piece be by reason of its size, provided that the whole be perspicuous. And to define the matter roughly, we may say that the proper
comprised within such limits, that the sequence of events, according to the law of probability or necessity, will admit of a change from bad
od, or from good fortune to bad.

does not, as some persons think, consist in the Unity of the hero. For infinitely various are the incidents in one mans life which cannot be
ity; and so, too, there are many actions of one man out of which we cannot make one action. Hence, the error, as it appears, of all poets who
ed a Heracleid, a Theseid, or other poems of the kind. They imagine that as Heracles was one man, the story of Heracles must also be a unity.
s in all else he is of surpassing merit, here toowhether from art or natural geniusseems to have happily discerned the truth. In composing
he did not include all the adventures of Odysseussuch as his wound on Parnassus, or his feigned madness at the mustering of the host
ween which there was no necessary or probable connection: but he made the Odyssey, and likewise the Iliad, to centre round an action that in
he word is one. As therefore, in the other imitative arts, the imitation is one when the object imitated is one, so the plot, being an imitation of an
mitate one action and that a whole, the structural union of the parts being such that, if any one of them is displaced or removed, the whole will
and disturbed. For a thing whose presence or absence makes no visible difference, is not an organic part of the whole.

er, evident from what has been said, that it is not the function of the poet to relate what has happened, but what may happen,what is possible
the law of probability or necessity. The poet and the historian differ not by writing in verse or in prose. The work of Herodotus might be put
d it would still be a species of history, with metre no less than without it. The true difference is that one relates what has happened, the other
ore, is a more philosophical and a higher thing than history: for poetry tends to express the universal, history the particular. By the universal, I
person of a certain type will on occasion speak or act, according to the law of probability or necessity; and it is this universality at which poetry
ames she attaches to the personages. The particular isfor examplewhat Alcibiades did or suffered. In Comedy this is already apparent: for
first constructs the plot on the lines of probability, and then inserts characteristic names;unlike the lampooners who write about particular
But tragedians still keep to real names, the reason being that what is possible is credible: what has not happened we do not at once feel sure to be
what has happened is manifestly possible: otherwise it would not have happened. Still there are even some tragedies in which there are only
well known names, the rest being fictitious. In others, none are well known, as in Agathons Antheus, where incidents and names alike are
yet they give none the less pleasure. We must not, therefore, at all costs keep to the received legends, which are the usual subjects of Tragedy.
uld be absurd to attempt it; for even subjects that are known are known only to a few, and yet give pleasure to all. It clearly follows that the poet
ould be the maker of plots rather than of verses; since he is a poet because he imitates, and what he imitates are actions. And even if he chances
torical subject, he is none the less a poet; for there is no reason why some events that have actually happened should not conform to the law of
and possible, and in virtue of that quality in them he is their poet or maker.
nd actions the epeisodic are the worst. I call a plot epeisodic in which the episodes or acts succeed one another without probable or necessary
d poets compose such pieces by their own fault, good poets, to please the players; for, as they write show pieces for competition, they stretch
nd its capacity, and are often forced to break the natural continuity.
agedy is an imitation not only of a complete action, but of events inspiring fear or pity. Such an effect is best produced when the events come
rise; and the effect is heightened when, at the same time, they follow as cause and effect. The tragic wonder will thee be greater than if they
hemselves or by accident; for even coincidences are most striking when they have an air of design.
nce the statue of Mitys at Argos, which fell upon his murderer while he was a spectator at a festival, and killed him. Such events seem not to be
hance. Plots, therefore, constructed on these principles are necessarily the best.

er Simple or Complex, for the actions in real life, of which the plots are an imitation, obviously show a similar distinction. An action which is
inuous in the sense above defined, I call Simple, when the change of fortune takes place without Reversal of the Situation and without

ction is one in which the change is accompanied by such Reversal, or by Recognition, or by both. These last should arise from the internal
he plot, so that what follows should be the necessary or probable result of the preceding action. It makes all the difference whether any given
e of propter hoc or post hoc.

he Situation is a change by which the action veers round to its opposite, subject always to our rule of probability or necessity. Thus in the
messenger comes to cheer Oedipus and free him from his alarms about his mother, but by revealing who he is, he produces the opposite effect.
Lynceus, Lynceus is being led away to his death, and Danaus goes with him, meaning, to slay him; but the outcome of the preceding incidents
s is killed and Lynceus saved. Recognition, as the name indicates, is a change from ignorance to knowledge, producing love or hate between the
ned by the poet for good or bad fortune. The best form of recognition is coincident with a Reversal of the Situation, as in the Oedipus. There are
forms. Even inanimate things of the most trivial kind may in a sense be objects of recognition. Again, we may recognise or discover whether a
one a thing or not. But the recognition which is most intimately connected with the plot and action is, as we have said, the recognition of
recognition, combined, with Reversal, will produce either pity or fear; and actions producing these effects are those which, by our definition,
esents. Moreover, it is upon such situations that the issues of good or bad fortune will depend. Recognition, then, being between persons, it may
one person only is recognised by the other-when the latter is already knownor it may be necessary that the recognition should be on both
phigenia is revealed to Orestes by the sending of the letter; but another act of recognition is required to make Orestes known to Iphigenia.
en, of the PlotReversal of the Situation and Recognitionturn upon surprises. A third part is the Scene of Suffering. The Scene of Suffering
e or painful action, such as death on the stage, bodily agony, wounds and the like.

Tragedy which must be treated as elements of the whole have been already mentioned. We now come to the quantitative parts the separate
ch Tragedy is divided namely, Prologue, Episode, Exode, Choric song; this last being divided into Parode and Stasimon. These are common to
uliar to some are the songs of actors from the stage and the Commoi. The Prologue is that entire part of a tragedy which precedes the Parode of
The Episode is that entire part of a tragedy which is between complete choric songs. The Exode is that entire part of a tragedy which has no
fter it. Of the Choric part the Parode is the first undivided utterance of the Chorus: the Stasimon is a Choric ode without
trochaic tetrameters: the Commos is a joint lamentation of Chorus and actors. The parts of Tragedy which must be treated as elements of the
een already mentioned. The quantitative parts the separate parts into which it is dividedare here enumerated.]

to what has already been said, we must proceed to consider what the poet should aim at, and what he should avoid, in constructing his plots;
means the specific effect of Tragedy will be produced.
gedy should, as we have seen, be arranged not on the simple but on the complex plan. It should, moreover, imitate actions which excite pity and
g the distinctive mark of tragic imitation. It follows plainly, in the first place, that the change, of fortune presented must not be the spectacle of
an brought from prosperity to adversity: for this moves neither pity nor fear; it merely shocks us. Nor, again, that of a bad man passing from
prosperity: for nothing can be more alien to the spirit of Tragedy; it possesses no single tragic quality; it neither satisfies the moral sense nor
y or fear. Nor, gain, should the downfall of the utter villain be exhibited. A plot of this kind would, doubtless, satisfy the moral sense, but it
neither pity nor fear; for pity is aroused by unmerited misfortune, fear by the misfortune of a man like ourselves.
nt, therefore, will be neither pitiful nor terrible. There remains, then, the character between these two extremes,that of a man who is not
od and just,-yet whose misfortune is brought about not by vice or depravity, but by some error or frailty. He must be one who is highly
d prosperous,a personage like Oedipus, Thyestes, or other illustrious men of such families.
ucted plot should, therefore, be single in its issue, rather than double as some maintain. The change of fortune should be not from bad to good,
, from good to bad. It should come about as the result not of vice, but of some great error or frailty, in a character either such as we have
better rather than worse. The practice of the stage bears out our view. At first the poets recounted any legend that came in their way. Now, the
are founded on the story of a few houses, on the fortunes of Alcmaeon, Oedipus, Orestes, Meleager, Thyestes, Telephus, and those others who
suffered something terrible. A tragedy, then, to be perfect according to the rules of art should be of this construction. Hence they are in error
Euripides just because he follows this principle in his plays, many of which end unhappily. It is, as we have said, the right ending. The best
on the stage and in dramatic competition, such plays, if well worked out, are the most tragic in effect; and Euripides, faulty though he may be in
anagement of his subject, yet is felt to be the most tragic of the poets.
rank comes the kind of tragedy which some place first. Like the Odyssey, it has a double thread of plot, and also an opposite catastrophe for
for the bad. It is accounted the best because of the weakness of the spectators; for the poet is guided in what he writes by the wishes of his
e pleasure, however, thence derived is not the true tragic pleasure. It is proper rather to Comedy, where those who, in the piece, are the deadliest
e Orestes and Aegisthusquit the stage as friends at the close, and no one slays or is slain.

may be aroused by spectacular means; but they may also result from the inner structure of the piece, which is the better way, and indicates a
For the plot ought to be so constructed that, even without the aid of the eye, he who hears the tale told will thrill with horror and melt to pity at
ace. This is the impression we should receive from hearing the story of the Oedipus. But to produce this effect by the mere spectacle is a less
d, and dependent on extraneous aids. Those who employ spectacular means to create a sense not of the terrible but only of the monstrous, are
he purpose of Tragedy; for we must not demand of Tragedy any and every kind of pleasure, but only that which is proper to it. And since the
ch the poet should afford is that which comes from pity and fear through imitation, it is evident that this quality must be impressed upon the

etermine what are the circumstances which strike us as terrible or pitiful.

ble of this effect must happen between persons who are either friends or enemies or indifferent to one another. If an enemy kills an enemy, there
excite pity either in the act or the intention, except so far as the suffering in itself is pitiful. So again with indifferent persons.
tragic incident occurs between those who are near or dear to one anotherif, for example, a brother kills, or intends to kill, a brother, a son his
her her son, a son his mother, or any other deed of the kind is donethese are the situations to be looked for by the poet. He may not indeed
amework of the received legendsthe fact, for instance, that Clytemnestra was slain by Orestes and Eriphyle by Alcmaeon but he ought to
on of his own, and skilfully handle the traditional material. Let us explain more clearly what is meant by skilful handling.
ay be done consciously and with knowledge of the persons, in the manner of the older poets. It is thus too that Euripides makes Medea slay her
again, the deed of horror may be done, but done in ignorance, and the tie of kinship or friendship be discovered afterwards. The Oedipus of
an example. Here, indeed, the incident is outside the drama proper; but cases occur where it falls within the action of the play: one may cite the
Astydamas, or Telegonus in the Wounded Odysseus. Again, there is a third case,<to be about to act with knowledge of the persons and then
e fourth case is> when some one is about to do an irreparable deed through ignorance, and makes the discovery before it is done. These are the
ways. For the deed must either be done or not done,and that wittingly or unwittingly. But of all these ways, to be about to act knowing the
then not to act, is the worst. It is shocking without being tragic, for no disaster follows. It is, therefore, never, or very rarely, found in poetry.
however, is in the Antigone, where Haemon threatens to kill Creon. The next and better way is that the deed should be perpetrated. Still better,
be perpetrated in ignorance, and the discovery made afterwards.
nothing to shock us, while the discovery produces a startling effect. The last case is the best, as when in the Cresphontes Merope is about to
but, recognising who he is, spares his life. So in the Iphigenia, the sister recognises the brother just in time. Again in the Helle, the son
e mother when on the point of giving her up. This, then, is why a few families only, as has been already observed, furnish the subjects of
s not art, but happy chance, that led the poets in search of subjects to impress the tragic quality upon their plots. They are compelled, therefore,
rse to those houses whose history contains moving incidents like these. Enough has now been said concerning the structure of the incidents,
kind of plot.
Character there are four things to be aimed at. First, and most important, it must be good. Now any speech or action that manifests moral
y kind will be expressive of character: the character will be good if the purpose is good. This rule is relative to each class. Even a woman may
also a slave; though the woman may be said to be an inferior being, and the slave quite worthless.
hing to aim at is propriety. There is a type of manly valour; but valour in a woman, or unscrupulous cleverness, is inappropriate. Thirdly,
st be true to life: for this is a distinct thing from goodness and propriety, as here described. The fourth point is consistency: for though the
e imitation, who suggested the type, be inconsistent, still he must be consistently inconsistent. As an example of motiveless degradation of
have Menelaus in the Orestes: of character indecorous and inappropriate, the lament of Odysseus in the Scylla, and the speech of Melanippe:
ncy, the Iphigenia at Aulis,for Iphigenia the suppliant in no way resembles her later self.
cture of the plot, so too in the portraiture of character, the poet should always aim either at the necessary or the probable. Thus a person of a
er should speak or act in a given way, by the rule either of necessity or of probability; just as this event should follow that by necessary or
uence. It is therefore evident that the unraveling of the plot, no less than the complication, must arise out of the plot itself, it must not be brought
Deus ex Machinaas in the Medea, or in the Return of the Greeks in the Iliad. The Deus ex Machina should be employed only for events
e drama,for antecedent or subsequent events, which lie beyond the range of human knowledge, and which require to be reported or foretold;
s we ascribe the power of seeing all things. Within the action there must be nothing irrational. If the irrational cannot be excluded, it should be
ope of the tragedy.
rational element in the Oedipus of Sophocles. Again, since Tragedy is an imitation of persons who are above the common level, the example of
-painters should be followed. They, while reproducing the distinctive form of the original, make a likeness which is true to life and yet more
too the poet, in representing men who are irascible or indolent, or have other defects of character, should preserve the type and yet ennoble it.
Achilles is portrayed by Agathon and Homer. These then are rules the poet should observe. Nor should he neglect those appeals to the senses,
h not among the essentials, are the concomitants of poetry; for here too there is much room for error. But of this enough has been said in our

nition is has been already explained. We will now enumerate its kinds. First, the least artistic form, which, from poverty of wit, is most
mployed recognition by signs. Of these some are congenital,such as the spear which the earth-born race bear on their bodies, or the stars
Carcinus in his Thyestes. Others are acquired after birth; and of these some are bodily marks, as scars; some external tokens, as necklaces, or
n the Tyro by which the discovery is effected. Even these admit of more or less skilful treatment. Thus in the recognition of Odysseus by his
overy is made in one way by the nurse, in another by the swineherds. The use of tokens for the express purpose of proof and, indeed, any
with or without tokens is a less artistic mode of recognition. A better kind is that which comes about by a turn of incident, as in the Bath
e recognitions invented at will by the poet, and on that account wanting in art. For example, Orestes in the Iphigenia reveals the fact that he is
indeed, makes herself known by the letter; but he, by speaking himself, and saying what the poet, not what the plot requires. This, therefore, is
o the fault above mentioned:for Orestes might as well have brought tokens with him. Another similar instance is the voice of the shuttle in
Sophocles. The third kind depends on memory when the sight of some object awakens a feeling: as in the Cyprians of Dicaeogenes, where the
nto tears on seeing the picture; or again in the Lay of Alcinous, where Odysseus, hearing the minstrel play the lyre, recalls the past and weeps;
recognition. The fourth kind is by process of reasoning. Thus in the Choephori: Some one resembling me has come: no one resembles me but
fore Orestes has come. Such too is the discovery made by Iphigenia in the play of Polyidus the Sophist. It was a natural reflection for Orestes
I too must die at the altar like my sister. So, again, in the Tydeus of Theodectes, the father says, I came to find my son, and I lose my own
n the Phineidae: the women, on seeing the place, inferred their fate:Here we are doomed to die, for here we were cast forth. Again, there is
kind of recognition involving false inference on the part of one of the characters, as in the Odysseus Disguised as a Messenger. A said <that no
able to bend the bow; . . . hence B (the disguised Odysseus) imagined that A would> recognise the bow which, in fact, he had not seen; and to
recognition by this means that the expectation A would recognise the bow is false inference. But, of all recognitions, the best is that which
e incidents themselves, where the startling discovery is made by natural means. Such is that in the Oedipus of Sophocles, and in the Iphigenia;
ural that Iphigenia should wish to dispatch a letter. These recognitions alone dispense with the artificial aid of tokens or amulets. Next come the
by process of reasoning.
ng the plot and working it out with the proper diction, the poet should place the scene, as far as possible, before his eyes. In this way, seeing
ith the utmost vividness, as if he were a spectator of the action, he will discover what is in keeping with it, and be most unlikely to overlook
es. The need of such a rule is shown by the fault found in Carcinus. Amphiaraus was on his way from the temple. This fact escaped the
f one who did not see the situation. On the stage, however, the piece failed, the audience being offended at the oversight.
et should work out his play, to the best of his power, with appropriate gestures; for those who feel emotion are most convincing through natural
h the characters they represent; and one who is agitated storms, one who is angry rages, with the most life-like reality. Hence poetry implies
y gift of nature or a strain of madness.
se a man can take the mould of any character; in the other, he is lifted out of his proper self. As for the story, whether the poet takes it ready
tructs it for himself, he should first sketch its general outline, and then fill in the episodes and amplify in detail. The general plan may be
the Iphigenia. A young girl is sacrificed; she disappears mysteriously from the eyes of those who sacrificed her; She is transported to another
re the custom is to offer up all strangers to the goddess. To this ministry she is appointed. Some time later her own brother chances to arrive.
the oracle for some reason ordered him to go there, is outside the general plan of the play. The purpose, again, of his coming is outside the
. However, he comes, he is seized, and, when on the point of being sacrificed, reveals who he is. The mode of recognition may be either that of
of Polyidus, in whose play he exclaims very naturally:So it was not my sister only, but I too, who was doomed to be sacrificed; and by that
names being once given, it remains to fill in the episodes. We must see that they are relevant to the action. In the case of Orestes, for example,
madness which led to his capture, and his deliverance by means of the purificatory rite. In the drama, the episodes are short, but it is these that
n to Epic poetry. Thus the story of the Odyssey can be stated briefly. A certain man is absent from home for many years; he is jealously
Poseidon, and left desolate. Meanwhile his home is in a wretched plightsuitors are wasting his substance and plotting against his son. At
st-tost, he himself arrives; he makes certain persons acquainted with him; he attacks the suitors with his own hand, and is himself preserved
roys them. This is the essence of the plot; the rest is episode.

y falls into two parts,Complication and Unravelling or Denouement. Incidents extraneous to the action are frequently combined with a
e action proper, to form the Complication; the rest is the Unravelling. By the Complication I mean all that extends from the beginning of the
part which marks the turning-point to good or bad fortune. The Unravelling is that which extends from the beginning of the change to the end.
Lynceus of Theodectes, the Complication consists of the incidents presupposed in the drama, the seizure of the child, and then again The
xtends from the accusation of murder to the end.
ur kinds of Tragedy, the Complex, depending entirely on Reversal of the Situation and Recognition; the Pathetic (where the motive is
ch as the tragedies on Ajax and Ixion; the Ethical (where the motives are ethical),such as the Phthiotides and the Peleus. The fourth kind is
We here exclude the purely spectacular element, exemplified by the Phorcides, the Prometheus, and scenes laid in Hades. The poet should
possible, to combine all poetic elements; or failing that, the greatest number and those the most important; the more so, in face of the cavilling
he day. For whereas there have hitherto been good poets, each in his own branch, the critics now expect one man to surpass all others in their
of excellence.
f a tragedy as the same or different, the best test to take is the plot. Identity exists where the Complication and Unravelling are the same. Many
knot well, but unravel it ill. Both arts, however, should always be mastered. Again, the poet should remember what has been often said, and not
structure into a Tragedyby an Epic structure I mean one with a multiplicity of plotsas if, for instance, you were to make a tragedy out of
ry of the Iliad. In the Epic poem, owing to its length, each part assumes its proper magnitude. In the drama the result is far from answering to
pectation. The proof is that the poets who have dramatised the whole story of the Fall of Troy, instead of selecting portions, like Euripides; or
en the whole tale of Niobe, and not a part of her story, like Aeschylus, either fail utterly or meet with poor success on the stage. Even Agathon
wn to fail from this one defect. In his Reversals of the Situation, however, he shows a marvellous skill in the effort to hit the popular taste,to
gic effect that satisfies the moral sense. This effect is produced when the clever rogue, like Sisyphus, is outwitted, or the brave villain defeated.
t is probable in Agathons sense of the word: it is probable, he says, that many things should happen contrary to probability. The Chorus too
arded as one of the actors; it should be an integral part of the whole, and share in the action, in the manner not of Euripides but of Sophocles.
ter poets, their choral songs pertain as little to the subject of the piece as to that of any other tragedy. They are, therefore, sung as mere
practice first begun by Agathon. Yet what difference is there between introducing such choral interludes, and transferring a speech, or even a
m one play to another?
speak of Diction and Thought, the other parts of Tragedy having been already discussed. Concerning Thought, we may assume what is said in
to which inquiry the subject more strictly belongs. Under Thought is included every effect which has to be produced by speech, the
being, proof and refutation; the excitation of the feelings, such as pity, fear, anger, and the like; the suggestion of importance or its opposite.
dent that the dramatic incidents must be treated from the same points of view as the dramatic speeches, when the object is to evoke the sense of
portance, or probability. The only difference is, that the incidents should speak for themselves without verbal exposition; while the effects
peech should be produced by the speaker, and as a result of the speech. For what were the business of a speaker, if the Thought were revealed
om what he says?
rds Diction. One branch of the inquiry treats of the Modes of Utterance. But this province of knowledge belongs to the art of Delivery and to
f that science. It includes, for instance,what is a command, a prayer, a statement, a threat, a question, an answer, and so forth. To know or not
e things involves no serious censure upon the poets art. For who can admit the fault imputed to Homer by Protagoras,that in the words,
ss, of the wrath, he gives a command under the idea that he utters a prayer? For to tell someone to do a thing or not to do it is, he says, a
e may, therefore, pass this over as an inquiry that belongs to another art, not to poetry.

ndix 3
s On the Sublime (Books 1 9)

f Caecilius on the Sublime, when, as you remember, my dear Terentian, we examined it together, seemed to us to be beneath the dignity of the
t, to fail entirely in seizing the salient points, and to offer little profit (which should be the principal aim of every writer) for the trouble of its
e are two things essential to a technical treatise: the first is to define the subject; the second (I mean second in order, as it is by much the first in
o point out how and by what methods we may become masters of it ourselves. And yet Caecilius, while wasting his efforts in a thousand
f the nature of the Sublime, as though here we were quite in the dark, somehow passes by as immaterial the question how we might be able to
n genius to a certain degree of progress in sublimity. However, perhaps it would be fairer to commend this writers intelligence and zeal in
nstead of blaming him for his omissions. And since you have bidden me also to put together, if only for your entertainment, a few notes on the
e Sublime, let me see if there is anything in my speculations which promises advantage to men of affairs. In you, dear friendsuch is my
your abilities, and such the part which becomes youI look for a sympathising and discerning critic of the several parts of my treatise. For
t remark of his who pronounced that the points in which we resemble the divine nature are benevolence and love of truth.
essing a person so accomplished in literature, I need only state, without enlarging further on the matter, that the Sublime, wherever it occurs,
certain loftiness and excellence of language, and that it is by this, and this only, that the greatest poets and prose-writers have gained eminence,
mselves a lasting place in the Temple of Fame. A lofty passage does not convince the reason of the reader, but takes him out of himself. That
irable ever confounds our judgment, and eclipses that which is merely reasonable or agreeable. To believe or not is usually in our own power;
me, acting with an imperious and irresistible force, sways every reader whether he will or no. Skill in invention, lucid arrangement and
f facts, are appreciated not by one passage, or by two, but gradually manifest themselves in the general structure of a work; but a sublime
ppily timed, illumines an entire subject with the vividness of a lightning-flash, and exhibits the whole power of the orator in a moment of time.
perience, I am sure, my dearest Terentian, would enable you to illustrate these and similar points of doctrine.

tion which presents itself for solution is whether there is any art which can teach sublimity or loftiness in writing. For some hold generally that
delusion in attempting to reduce such subjects to technical rules. The Sublime, they tell us, is born in a man, and not to be acquired by
enius is the only master who can teach it. The vigorous products of nature (such is their view) are weakened and in every respect debased,
of their flesh and blood by frigid technicalities. But I maintain that the truth can be shown to stand otherwise in this matter. Let us look at the
way; Nature in her loftier and more passionate moods, while detesting all appearance of restraint, is not wont to show herself utterly wayward
and though in all cases the vital informing principle is derived from her, yet to determine the right degree and the right moment, and to
e precision of practice and experience, is the peculiar province of scientific method. The great passions, when left to their own blind and rash
hout the control of reason, are in the same danger as a ship let drive at random without ballast. Often they need the spur, but sometimes also the
mark of Demosthenes with regard to human life in general,that the greatest of all blessings is to be fortunate, but next to that and equal in
to be well advised,for good fortune is utterly ruined by the absence of good counsel,may be applied to literature, if we substitute genius
nd art for counsel. Then, again (and this is the most important point of all), a writer can only learn from art when he is to abandon himself to the
is genius.
considerations which I submit to the unfavourable critic of such useful studies. Perhaps they may induce him to alter his opinion as to the
eness of our present investigations.

And let them check the stoves long tongues of fire:

if I see one tenant of the hearth,
thrust within one curling torrent flame,
bring that roof in ashes to the ground:
yet is sung my noble lay.
cease to be tragic, and become burlesque,I mean phrases like curling torrent flames and vomiting to heaven, and representing Boreas as
o on. Such expressions, and such images, produce an effect of confusion and obscurity, not of energy; and if each separately be examined under
riticism, what seemed terrible gradually sinks into absurdity. Since then, even in tragedy, where the natural dignity of the subject makes a
on allowable, we cannot pardon a tasteless grandiloquence, how much more incongruous must it seem in sober prose! Hence we laugh at those
Gorgias of Leontini, such as Xerxes the Persian Zeus and vultures, those living tombs, and at certain conceits of Callisthenes which are
ther than sublime, and at some in Cleitarchus more ludicrous stilla writer whose frothy style tempts us to travesty Sophocles and say, He
pipe, 6and blows it ill. The same faults may be observed in Amphicrates and Hegesias and Matris, who in their frequent moments (as they
iration, instead of playing the genius are simply playing the fool.
erally, it would seem that bombast is one of the hardest things to avoid in writing. For all those writers who are ambitious of a lofty style,
d of being convicted of feebleness and poverty of language, slide by a natural gradation into the opposite extreme. Who fails in great
obly fails, is their creed. Now bulk, when hollow and affected, is always objectionable, whether in material bodies or in writings, and in danger
on us an impression of littleness: nothing, it is said, is drier than a man with the dropsy.
istic, then, of bombast is that it transcends the Sublime: but there is another fault diametrically opposed to grandeur: this is called puerility, and
g of feeble and narrow minds,indeed, the most ignoble of all vices in writing. By puerility we mean a pedantic habit of mind, which by over-
nds in frigidity. Slips of this sort are made by those who, aiming at brilliancy, polish, and especially attractiveness, are landed in paltriness and
on. Closely associated with this is a third sort of vice, in dealing 7with the passions, which Theodorus used to call false sentiment, meaning by
ed and empty display of emotion, where no emotion is called for, or of greater emotion than the situation warrants. Thus we often see an author
e tumult of his mind into tedious displays of mere personal feeling which has no connection with the subject. Yet how justly ridiculous must an
, whose most violent transports leave his readers quite cold! However, I will dismiss this subject, as I intend to devote a separate work to the
he pathetic in writing.

he faults which I mentioned is frequently observed in TimaeusI mean the fault of frigidity. In other respects he is an able writer, and
t unsuccessful in the loftier style; a man of wide knowledge, and full of ingenuity; a most bitter critic of the failings of othersbut unhappily
wn. In his eagerness to be always striking out new thoughts he frequently falls into the most childish absurdities. I will only instance one or two
most of them have been pointed out by Caecilius. Wishing to say something very fine about Alexander the Great he 8speaks of him as a man
d the whole of Asia in fewer years than Isocrates spent in writing his panegyric oration in which he urges the Greeks to make war on Persia.
is the comparison of the great Emathian conqueror with an Athenian rhetorician! By this mode of reasoning it is plain that the Spartans were
to Isocrates in courage, since it took them thirty years to conquer Messene, while he finished the composition of this harangue in ten. Observe,
age on the Athenians taken in Sicily. They paid the penalty for their impious outrage on Hermes in mutilating his statues; and the chief agent
uction was one who was descended on his fathers side from the injured deityHermocrates, son of Hermon. I wonder, my dearest Terentian,
ed to say of the tyrant Dionysius that for his impiety towards Zeus and Herakles he was deprived of his power by Dion and Herakleides. Yet
Timaeus, when even men like Xenophon and Platothe very demi-gods of literaturethough they had sat at the feet of Socrates, sometimes
lves in the pursuit of such paltry conceits. The former, in his account of the Spartan Polity, has these words: Their voice you would no more
hey were of marble, their gaze is as immovable as if they were cast in bronze; you would deem them 9more modest than the very maidens in
o speak of the pupils of the eye as modest maidens was a piece of absurdity becoming Amphicrates rather than Xenophon. And then what a
ion to suppose that modesty is always without exception expressed in the eye! whereas it is commonly said that there is nothing by which an
ow betrays his character so much as by the expression of his eyes. Thus Achilles addresses Agamemnon in the Iliad as drunkard, with eye of
s, however, with that want of judgment which characterises plagiarists, could not leave to Xenophon the possession of even this piece of
elating how Agathocles carried off his cousin, who was wedded to another man, from the festival of the unveiling, he asks, Who could have
deed, unless he had harlots instead of maidens in his eyes? And Plato himself, elsewhere so supreme a master of style, meaning to describe
ding tablets, says, They shall write, and deposit in the temples memorials of cypress wood; and again, Then concerning walls, Megillus, I
with Sparta that we should let them lie asleep within the ground, and not awaken them. And Herodotus falls pretty much under the same
hen he speaks of beautiful women as tortures to the eye, though here there is some excuse, as the speakers in this passage are drunken
ill, even from dramatic motives, such errors in taste should not be permitted to deface the pages of an immortal work.

e glaring improprieties of language may be traced to one common rootthe pursuit of novelty in thought. It is this that has turned the brain of
learned world of to-day. Human blessings and human ills commonly flow from the same source: and, to apply this principle to literature, those
style, those sublime and delightful images, which contribute to success, are the foundation and the origin, not only of excellence, but also of
hus with the figures called transitions, and hyperboles, and the use of plurals for singulars. I shall show presently the dangers which they seem
ur next task, therefore, must be to propose and to settle the question how we may avoid the faults of style related to sublimity.

e of doing this will be first of all to grasp some definite theory and criterion of the true Sublime. Nevertheless this is a hard matter; for a just
style is the final fruit of long experience; still, I believe that the way I shall indicate will enable us to distinguish between the true and false
ar as it can be done by rule.

o observe that in human life nothing is truly great which is despised by all elevated minds. For example, no man of sense can regard wealth,
, and power, or any of those things which are surrounded by a great external parade of pomp and circumstance, as the highest blessings, seeing
o despise such things is a blessing of no common order: certainly those who possess them are admired much less than those who, having the
o acquire them, through greatness of soul neglect it. Now let us apply this principle to the Sublime in poetry or in prose; let us ask in all cases, is
ecious sublimity? is this gorgeous exterior a mere false and clumsy pageant, which if laid open will be found to conceal nothing but emptiness?
ble mind will scorn instead of admiring it. It is natural to us to feel our souls lifted up by the true Sublime, and conceiving a sort of generous
be filled with joy and pride, as though we had ourselves originated the ideas which we read. If then any work, on being repeatedly submitted to
of an acute and cultivated critic, fails to dispose his mind to lofty ideas; if the thoughts which it suggests do not extend beyond what is actually
d if, the longer you read it, the less you think of it,there can be here no true sublimity, when the effect is not sustained beyond the mere act of
when a passage is pregnant in suggestion, when it is hard, nay impossible, to distract the attention from it, and when it takes a strong and lasting
memory, then we may be sure that we have lighted on the true Sublime. In general we may regard those words as truly noble and sublime which
and please all readers. For when the same book always produces the same impression on all who read it, whatever be the difference in their
r manner of life, their aspirations, their ages, or their language, such a harmony of opposites gives irresistible authority to their favourable

roceed to enumerate the five principal sources, as we may call them, from which almost all sublimity is derived, assuming, of course, the
ift on which all these five sources depend, namely, command of language. The first and the most important is (1) grandeur of thought, as I have
lsewhere in my work on Xenophon. The second is (2) a vigorous and spirited treatment of the passions. These two conditions of sublimity
y on natural endowments, whereas those which follow derive assistance from Art. The third is (3) a certain artifice in the employment of
h are of two kinds, figures of thought and figures of speech. The fourth is (4) dignified expression, which is sub-divided into (a) the proper
rds, and (b) the use of metaphors and other ornaments of diction. The fifth cause of sublimity, which embraces all those preceding, is (5)
levation of structure. Let us consider what is involved in each of these five forms separately.
owever, remark that some of these five divisions are omitted by Caecilius; for instance, he says nothing about the passions. Now if he made this
m a belief that the Sublime and the Pathetic are one and the same thing, holding them to be always coexistent and interdependent, he is in error.
ns are found which, so far from being lofty, are actually low, such as pity, grief, fear; and conversely, sublimity is often not in the least
we may see (among innumerable other instances) in those bold expressions of our great poet on the sons of Alous
pile huge Ossa on the Olympian peak,
Pelion with all his waving trees
est to raise, and climb the sky;
ore tremendous climax
d they accomplished it.
s, in all passages dealing with panegyric, and in all the more imposing and declamatory places, dignity and sublimity play an indispensable
hos is mostly absent. Hence the most pathetic orators have usually but little skill in panegyric, and conversely those who are powerful in
nerally fail in pathos. If, on the other hand, Caecilius supposed that pathos never contributes to sublimity, and this is why he thought it alien to
he is entirely deceived. For I would confidently pronounce that nothing is so conducive to sublimity as an appropriate display of genuine
h bursts out with a kind of fine madness and divine inspiration, and falls on our ears like the voice of a god.

y said that of all these five conditions of the Sublime the most important is the first, that is, a certain lofty cast of mind. Therefore, although this
ther natural than acquired, nevertheless it will be well for us in this instance also to train up our souls to sublimity, and make them as it were
noble thoughts. How, it may be asked, is this to be done? I have hinted elsewhere in my writings that sublimity is, so to say, the image of
oul. Hence a thought in its naked simplicity, even though unuttered, is sometimes admirable by the sheer force of its sublimity; for instance, the
x in the eleventh Odyssey is great, and grander than anything he could have said. It is absolutely essential, then, first of all to settle the question
randeur of conception arises; and the answer is that true eloquence can be found only in those whose spirit is generous and aspiring. For those
lives are wasted in paltry and illiberal thoughts and habits cannot possibly produce any work worthy of the lasting reverence of mankind. 16It
l that their words should be full of sublimity whose thoughts are full of majesty. Hence sublime thoughts belong properly to the loftiest minds.
reply of Alexander to his general Parmenio, when the latter had observed, Were I Alexander, I should have been satisfied; And I, were I

between heaven and eartha measure, one might say, not less appropriate to Homers genius than to the stature of his discord. How different is
Hesiods in his description of sorrowif the Shield is really one of his works: rheum from her nostrils flowedan image not terrible, but
ow consider how Homer gives dignity to his divine persons
far as lies his airy ken, who sits
some tall crag, and scans the wine-dark sea:
s the heavenly coursers stride.
their speed by the extent of the whole worlda grand comparison, which might reasonably lead us to remark that if the divine steeds were to
leaps in succession, they would find no room in the world for another. Sublime also are the images in the Battle of the Gods
through the air, and shook the Olympian height;
terror seized the monarch of the dead,
springing from his throne he cried aloud
fearful voice, lest the earth, rent asunder
Neptunes mighty arm, forthwith reveal
mortal and immortal eyes those halls
dank, which een the gods abhor.
m its foundations! Tartarus itself laid bare! The whole world torn asunder and turned upside down! Why, my dear friend, this is a perfect hurly-
ch the whole universe, heaven and hell, mortals and immortals, share the conflict and the peril. A terrible picture, certainly, but (unless perhaps
ken allegorically) downright impious, and overstepping the bounds of decency. It seems to me that the strange medley of wounds, quarrels,
s, bonds, and other woes which makes up the Homeric tradition of the gods was designed by its author to degrade his deities, as far as possible,
exalt his men into deitiesor rather, his gods are worse off than his human characters, since we, when we are unhappy, have a haven from ills
e the gods, according to him, not only live for ever, but live for ever in misery. Far to be preferred to this description of the Battle of the Gods
sages which exhibit the divine nature in its true light, as something spotless, great, and pure, as, for instance, a passage which has often been
y predecessors, the lines on Poseidon:
and wood and solitary peak,
ships Achaian, and the towers of Troy,
beneath the gods immortal feet.
the waves he rode, and round him played,
from the deeps, the oceans monstrous brood,
uncouth gambols welcoming their lord:
billows parted: on they flew.
o the lawgiver of the Jews, no ordinary man, having formed an adequate conception of the Supreme Being, gave it adequate expression in the
s of his Laws: God saidwhat?let there be light, and there was light: let there be land, and there was.
ll not think me tedious if I quote yet one more passage from our great poet (referring this time to human characters) in illustration of the manner
eads us with him to heroic heights. A sudden and baffling darkness as of night has overspread the ranks of his warring Greeks. Then Ajax in
y cries aloud
from darkness save Achaias sons;
more I ask, but give us back the day;
sight, and slay us, if thou wilt.
are just what we should look for in Ajax. He does not, you observe, ask for his lifesuch a request would have been unworthy of his heroic
ding himself paralysed by darkness, and prohibited from employing his valour in any noble action, he chafes because his arms are idle, and
eedy return of light. At least, he thinks, I shall find a warriors grave, even though Zeus himself should fight against me. In such passages
he poet is swept along in the whirlwind of the struggle, and, in his own words, he
ce war-god, raves, or wasting fire
the deep thickets on a mountain-side;
nother and a very interesting aspect of Homers mind. When we turn to the Odyssey we find occasion to observe that a great poetical genius in
power which comes with old age naturally leans towards the fabulous. For it is evident that this work was composed after the Iliad, in proof of
y mention, among many other indications, the introduction in the Odyssey of the sequel to the story of his heroes adventures at Troy, as so
nal episodes in the Trojan war, and especially the tribute of sorrow and mourning which is paid in that poem to departed heroes, as if in
some previous design. TheOdyssey is, in fact, a sort of epilogue to the Iliad
warrior Ajax lies, Achilles there,
there Patroclus, godlike counsellor;
own dear son.
ame reason, I imagine, whereas in the Iliad, which was written when his genius was in its prime, the whole structure of the poem is founded on
uggle, in the Odyssey he generally prefers the narrative style, which is proper to old age. Hence Homer in his Odyssey may be compared to the
e is still as great as ever, but he has lost his fervent heat. The strain is now pitched to a lower key than in the Tale of Troy divine: we begin to
h and equable sublimity which never flags or sinks, that continuous current of moving incidents, those rapid transitions, that force of eloquence,
of imagery which is ever true to Nature. Like the sea when it retires upon itself and leaves its shores waste and bare, henceforth the tide of
ins to ebb, and draws us away into the dim region of myth and legend. In saying this I am not forgetting the fine storm-pieces in the Odyssey,
he Cyclops, and other striking passages. It is Homer grown old I am discussing, but still it is Homer. Yet in every one of these passages the
ominates over the real.
n making this digression was, as I said, to point out into what trifles the second childhood of genius is too apt to be betrayed; such, I mean, as
hich the winds are confined, the tale of Odysseuss comrades being changed by Circe into swine (whimpering porkers Zolus called them),
s was fed like a nestling by the doves, and how Odysseus passed ten nights on the shipwreck without food, and the improbable incidents in the
e suitors. When Homer nods like this, we must be content to say that he dreams as Zeus might dream. Another reason for these remarks on
s that I wished to make you understand that great poets and prose-writers, after they have lost their power of depicting the passions, turn
he delineation of character. Such, for instance, is the lifelike and characteristic picture of the palace of Odysseus, which may be called a sort of

ndix 4
On the Art of Poetry (an extract)
these selections have been modified for your ease of reading)
what I, and with me the public as a whole, look for in a play. If you want an appreciative hearer who will wait for the curtain and remain in his
player calls out, 'Give us your applause', you must note the behaviour of people of different ages, and give the right kind of manners to
varying dispositions and years. The child who has just learnt to speak and to plant his feet firmly on the ground loves playing with his friends,
temper and with as little reason recover from it, and will change every hour. The beardless youth who has at last got rid of his tutor finds his
orses and dogs and the grassy sports-fields of the Campus Martius; pliant as wax, he is easily persuaded to vicious courses, is irritable with his
low to provide for his needs, lavish with his money, of high aspirations and passionate desires, and quick to abandon the objects of his fancy.
become a man in years and spirit, his inclinations change; he sets out to acquire wealth and influential connexions, aims at securing public
s careful to avoid doing anything which he might later wish had been done otherwise. The old man is beset by many troubles; either he tries to
but holds back miserably when it comes his way and is afraid to use it, or he is cautious and faint-hearted in all his dealings; he puts things off,
hopes, and remains inactive in an eager desire to prolong his life; he is obstinate, too, and querulous, and given to praising the days when he was
ticizing and rebuking his juniors. Advancing years bring with them many blessings, but many of these are taken away in the decline of life.
r not to give a young man the characteristics of old age, or the child those of a grown man, we shall always dwell upon the qualities that are
o a particular time of life.
ginally competed in tragic verse for the paltry prize of a goat; soon he introduced wild and naked satyrs on to the stage, and without loss of
his hand at a form of crude jesting; for an audience that was tipsy after observing the Bacchic rites and in a lawless mood could only be held by
of some enticing novelty. But if jesters and mocking satyrs are to win approval, and a transition made from the serious to the light-hearted, it
in such a way that no one who has been presented as a god or hero, and who a moment ago was resplendent in purple and gold, is transported
hovel and allowed to drop into the speech of the back streets, or alternatively to spout cloudy inanities in an attempt to rise above vulgarity.
ns to babble trivialities, and, like a married woman obliged to dance at a festival, will look rather shamefaced among the wanton satyrs. If ever I
dramas, my dear fellows, I shall not be content to use merely the plain, unadorned language of everyday speech; I shall try not to depart so far
of tragedy as to make no distinction between the speech of a Davus, or of a bold-faced Pythias who has managed to trick Simo out of a talent,
lenus, who after all was the guardian and attendant of the young god Bacchus. I shall aim at a style that employs no unfamiliar diction, one that
ght hope to achieve, but would sweat tears of blood in his efforts and still not manage it such is the power of words that are used in the right
the right relationships, and such the grace that they can add to the commonplace when so used. If you are going to bring woodland fauns on to
o not think you should ever allow them to speak as though they had been brought up in the heart of the city; do not let them be too youthfully
the lines you give them, or crack any filthy or obscene jokes. For such things give offence to those of knightly or freeborn rank and the
tial citizens; these men do not take kindly to what meets with the approval of the masses, the buyers of roast beans and chestnuts, nor do they

le following a short one is called an iambus, which is a fast-moving foot. From this the name 'trimeters' became attached to the iambic line,
uced six beats; and the metre was the same throughout the line. But not so very long ago, so that it might fall upon the ear with rather more
eliberation, the iambic line obligingly opened its ranks to the steady spondee, but did not extend its welcome to the point of giving way to it in
fourth foot. The true iambic measure is rarely found in the 'noble' trimeters of Accius; and on the verse, too, with which Ennius so ponderously
stage lies the reproach of over-hasty and careless composition, or of ignorance of his art. Not everyone is critical enough to be aware of
ults in verse, and an indulgence has been shown to our Roman poets that true poets should not need. Is that a reason for loose and lawless
y part? Or should I assume that everyone will notice my transgressions, and therefore proceed cautiously, keeping within the bounds in which I
ope for indulgence? If I do so, I shall have escaped censure, indeed, but shall not have deserved any praise. For yourselves, my friends, you
ur days and nights to the study of Greek models. But, you will say, your grandfathers were enthusiastic about the versification and wit of
y were altogether too tolerant, not to say foolish, in their admiration of both these things in him, if you and I have any idea of how to
between coarseness and graceful wit, and how to pick out the right rhythm both by counting and by ear.

s versus Didacticism
giving either profit or delight, or at combining the giving of pleasure with some useful precepts for life. When you are giving precepts of any
cinct, so that receptive minds may easily grasp what you are saying and retain it firmly; when the mind has plenty to cope with,
erfluous merely goes in one ear and out of the other. Works written to give pleasure should be as true to life as possible, and your play should
elief for just anything that catches your fancy; you should not let the ogress Lamia gobble up a child, and later bring it out of her belly alive.
of the elder citizens will disapprove of works lacking in edification, while the haughty Ramnes will have nothing to do with plays that are too
man who has managed to blend profit with delight wins everyone's approbation, for he gives his reader pleasure at the same time as he instructs
he book that not only makes money for the booksellers, but is carried to distant lands and ensures a lasting fame for its author.
re are faults that we should be ready to forgive; for the lute-string does not always give the note intended by the mind and hand, but often
note when a low one is required, and the bow will not always hit the mark aimed at. When there are plenty of fine passages in a poem, I shall
ption to occasional blemishes which the poet has carelessly let slip, or which his fallible human nature has not guarded against. What then is
n about this? Just as the literary scribe gets no indulgence if he keeps on making the same mistake however often he is warned, and the lutenist
if he always goes wrong on the same string, so the poet who is often remiss seems to me another Choerilus, whose two or three good lines I
amused surprise; at the same time I am put out when the worthy Homer nods, although it is natural that slumber should occasionally creep over
ndix 5
orths Preface to Lyrical Ballads
volume of these Poems has already been submitted to general perusal. It was published, as an experiment, which, I hoped, might be of some use
how far, by fitting to metrical arrangement a selection of the real language of men in a state of vivid sensation, that sort of pleasure and that
easure may be imparted, which a Poet may rationally endeavour to impart.
no very inaccurate estimate of the probable effect of those Poems: I flattered myself that they who should be pleased with them would read
ore than common pleasure: and, on the other hand, I was well aware, that by those who should dislike them, they would be read with more than
ke. The result has differed from my expectation in this only, that a greater number have been pleased than I ventured to hope I should please.
y Friends are anxious for the success of these Poems, from a belief, that, if the views with which they were composed were indeed realized, a
y would be produced, well adapted to interest mankind permanently, and not unimportant in the quality, and in the multiplicity of its moral
on this account they have advised me to prefix a systematic defence of the theory upon which the Poems were written. But I was unwilling to
task, knowing that on this occasion the Reader would look coldly upon my arguments, since I might be suspected of having been principally
the selfish and foolish hope of reasoning him into an approbation of these particular Poems: and I was still more unwilling to undertake the
adequately to display the opinions, and fully to enforce the arguments, would require a space wholly disproportionate to a preface. For, to treat
ith the clearness and coherence of which it is susceptible, it would be necessary to give a full account of the present state of the public taste in
and to determine how far this taste is healthy or depraved; which, again, could not be determined, without pointing out in what manner
the human mind act and re-act on each other, and without retracing the revolutions, not of literature alone, but likewise of society itself. I have
gether declined to enter regularly upon this defence; yet I am sensible, that there would be something like impropriety in abruptly obtruding
ic, without a few words of introduction, Poems so materially different from those upon which general approbation is at present bestowed.
d, that by the act of writing in verse an Author makes a formal engagement that he will gratify certain known habits of association; that he not
rises the Reader that certain classes of ideas and expressions will be found in his book, but that others will be carefully excluded. This exponent
ld forth by metrical language must in different eras of literature have excited very different expectations: for example, in the age of Catullus,
Lucretius, and that of Statius or Claudian; and in our own country, in the age of Shakespeare and Beaumont and Fletcher, and that of Donne
or Dryden, or Pope. I will not take upon me to determine the exact import of the promise which, by the act of writing in verse, an Author in the
makes to his reader: but it will undoubtedly appear to many persons that I have not fulfilled the terms of an engagement thus voluntarily
hey who have been accustomed to the gaudiness and inane phraseology of many modern writers, if they persist in reading this book to its
will, no doubt, frequently have to struggle with feelings of strangeness and awkwardness: they will look round for poetry, and will be induced to
hat species of courtesy these attempts can be permitted to assume that title. I hope therefore the reader will not censure me for attempting to
have proposed to myself to perform; and also (as far as the limits of a preface will permit) to explain some of the chief reasons which have
me in the choice of my purpose: that at least he may be spared any unpleasant feeling of disappointment, and that I myself may be protected
the most dishonourable accusations which can be brought against an Author, namely, that of an indolence which prevents him from
to ascertain what is his duty, or, when his duty is ascertained, prevents him from performing it.
object, then, proposed in these Poems was to choose incidents and situations from common life, and to relate or describe them, throughout, as
ssible in a selection of language really used by men, and, at the same time, to throw over them a certain colouring of imagination, whereby
gs should be presented to the mind in an unusual aspect; and, further, and above all, to make these incidents and situations interesting by tracing
y though not ostentatiously, the primary laws of our nature: chiefly, as far as regards the manner in which we associate ideas in a state of
Humble and rustic life was generally chosen, because, in that condition, the essential passions of the heart find a better soil in which they can
maturity, are less under restraint, and speak a plainer and more emphatic language; because in that condition of life our elementary feelings
tate of greater simplicity, and, consequently, may be more accurately contemplated, and more forcibly communicated; because the manners of
minate from those elementary feelings, and, from the necessary character of rural occupations, are more easily comprehended, and are more
lastly, because in that condition the passions of men are incorporated with the beautiful and permanent forms of nature. The language, too, of
s been adopted (purified indeed from what appear to be its real defects, from all lasting and rational causes of dislike or disgust) because such
ommunicate with the best objects from which the best part of language is originally derived; and because, from their rank in society and the
d narrow circle of their intercourse, being less under the influence of social vanity, they convey their feelings and notions in simple and
expressions. Accordingly, such a language, arising out of repeated experience and regular feelings, is a more permanent, and a far more
language, than that which is frequently substituted for it by Poets, who think that they are conferring honour upon themselves and their art, in
they separate themselves from the sympathies of men, and indulge in arbitrary and capricious habits of expression, in order to furnish food for
and fickle appetites, of their own creation.
wever, be insensible to the present outcry against the triviality and meanness, both of thought and language, which some of my contemporaries
nally introduced into their metrical compositions; and I acknowledge that this defect, where it exists, is more dishonourable to the Writers own
n false refinement or arbitrary innovation, though I should contend at the same time, that it is far less pernicious in the sum of its consequences.
rses the Poems in these volumes will be found distinguished at least by one mark of difference, that each of them has a worthy purpose. Not
began to write with a distinct purpose formerly conceived; but habits of meditation have, I trust, so prompted and regulated my feelings, that
ns of such objects as strongly excite those feelings, will be found to carry along with them a purpose. If this opinion be erroneous, I can have
he name of a Poet.
poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: and though this be true, Poems to which any value can be attached were never
any variety of subjects but by a man who, being possessed of more than usual organic sensibility, had also thought long and deeply. For our
luxes of feeling are modified and directed by our thoughts, which are indeed the representatives of all our past feelings; and, as by
g the relation of these general representatives to each other, we discover what is really important to men, so, by the repetition and continuance
r feelings will be connected with important subjects, till at length, if we be originally possessed of much sensibility, such habits of mind will be
t, by obeying blindly and mechanically the impulses of those habits, we shall describe objects, and utter sentiments, of such a nature, and in
on with each other, that the understanding of the Reader must necessarily be in some degree enlightened, and his affections strengthened and

aid that each of these poems has a purpose. Another circumstance must be mentioned which distinguishes these Poems from the popular Poetry
is this, that the feeling therein developed gives importance to the action and situation, and not the action and situation to the feeling.
lse modesty shall not prevent me from asserting, that the Readers attention is pointed to this mark of distinction, far less for the sake of these
ems than from the general importance of the subject. The subject is indeed important! For the human mind is capable of being excited without
n of gross and violent stimulants; and he must have a very faint perception of its beauty and dignity who does not know this, and who does not
that one being is elevated above another, in proportion as he possesses this capability. It has therefore appeared to me, that to endeavour to
nlarge this capability is one of the best services in which, at any period, a Writer can be engaged; but this service, excellent at all times, is
at the present day. For a multitude of causes, unknown to former times, are now acting with a combined force to blunt the discriminating
mind, and, unfitting it for all voluntary exertion, to reduce it to a state of almost savage torpor. The most effective of these causes are the great
ts which are daily taking place, and the increasing accumulation of men in cities, where the uniformity of their occupations produces a craving
nary incident, which the rapid communication of intelligence hourly gratifies. To this tendency of life and manners the literature and theatrical
f the country have conformed themselves. The invaluable works of our elder writers, I had almost said the works of Shakespeare and Milton,
o neglect by frantic novels, sickly and stupid German Tragedies, and deluges of idle and extravagant stories in verse.When I think upon this
rst after outrageous stimulation, I am almost ashamed to have spoken of the feeble endeavour made in these volumes to counteract it; and,
on the magnitude of the general evil, I should be oppressed with no dishonourable melancholy, had I not a deep impression of certain inherent
tible qualities of the human mind, and likewise of certain powers in the great and permanent objects that act upon it, which are equally inherent
tible; and were there not added to this impression a belief, that the time is approaching when the evil will be systematically opposed, by men of
s, and with far more distinguished success.
thus long on the subjects and aim of these Poems, I shall request the Readers permission to apprise him of a few circumstances relating to
n order, among other reasons, that he may not censure me for not having performed what I never attempted. The Reader will find that
ns of abstract ideas rarely occur in these volumes; and are utterly rejected, as an ordinary device to elevate the style, and raise it above prose.
was to imitate, and, as far as possible, to adopt the very language of men; and assuredly such personifications do not make any natural or regular
nguage. They are, indeed, a figure of speech occasionally prompted by passion, and I have made use of them as such; but have endeavoured
ct them as a mechanical device of style, or as a family language which Writers in metre seem to lay claim to by prescription. I have wished to
der in the company of flesh and blood, persuaded that by so doing I shall interest him.
ursue a different track will interest him likewise; I do not interfere with their claim, but wish to prefer a claim of my own. There will also be
e volumes little of what is usually called poetic diction; as much pains has been taken to avoid it as is ordinarily taken to produce it; this has
r the reason already alleged, to bring my language near to the language of men; and further, because the pleasure which I have proposed to
part, is of a kind very different from that which is supposed by many persons to be the proper object of poetry. Without being culpably
o not know how to give my Reader a more exact notion of the style in which it was my wish and intention to write, than by informing him that
imes endeavoured to look steadily at my subject; consequently, there is I hope in these Poems little falsehood of description, and my ideas are
language fitted to their respective importance. Something must have been gained by this practice, as it is friendly to one property of all good
y, good sense: but it has necessarily cut me off from a large portion of phrases and figures of speech which from father to son have long been
he common inheritance of Poets. I have also thought it expedient to restrict myself still further, having abstained from the use of many
n themselves proper and beautiful, but which have been foolishly repeated by bad Poets, till such feelings of disgust are connected with them as
possible by any art of association to overpower.
here should be found a series of lines, or even a single line, in which the language, though naturally arranged, and according to the strict laws
s not differ from that of prose, there is a numerous class of critics, who, when they stumble upon these prosaisms, as they call them, imagine
e made a notable discovery, and exult over the Poet as over a man ignorant of his own profession. Now these men would establish a canon of
ch the Reader will conclude he must utterly reject, if he wishes to be pleased with these volumes. And it would be a most easy task to prove to
only the language of a large portion of every good poem, even of the most elevated character, must necessarily, except with reference to the
respect differ from that of good prose, but likewise that some of the most interesting parts of the best poems will be found to be strictly the
prose when prose is well written. The truth of this assertion might be demonstrated by innumerable passages from almost all the poetical
n of Milton himself. to illustrate the subject in a general manner, I will here adduce a short composition of Gray, who was at the head of those
r reasonings, have attempted to widen the space of separation betwixt Prose and Metrical composition, and was more than any other man
borate in the structure of his own poetic diction.
the smiling mornings shine,
g Phbus lifts his golden fire:
vain their amorous descant join,
elds resume their green attire.
as! for other notes repine;
bject do these eyes require;
guish melts no heart but mine;
east the imperfect joys expire;
smiles the busy race to cheer,
n pleasure brings to happier men;
all their wonted tribute bear;
r little loves the birds complain.
urn to him that cannot hear,
more because I weep in vain.

be perceived, that the only part of this Sonnet which is of any value is the lines printed in Italics; it is equally obvious, that, except in the rhyme,
of the single word fruitless for fruitlessly, which is so far a defect, the language of these lines does in no respect differ from that of prose.
oing quotation it has been shown that the language of Prose may yet be well adapted to Poetry; and it was previously asserted, that a large
language of every good poem can in no respect differ from that of good Prose. We will go further. It may be safely affirmed, that there neither
, any essential difference between the language of prose and metrical composition. We are fond of tracing the resemblance between Poetry and
, accordingly, we call them Sisters: but where shall we find bonds of connexion sufficiently strict to typify the affinity betwixt metrical and
ition? They both speak by and to the same organs; the bodies in which both of them are clothed may be said to be of the same substance, their
kindred, and almost identical, not necessarily differing even in degree; Poetry 2 sheds no tears such as Angels weep, but natural and human
boast of no celestial choir that distinguishes her vital juices from those of prose; the same human blood circulates through the veins of them

ed that rhyme and metrical arrangement of themselves constitute a distinction which overturns what has just been said on the strict affinity of
uage with that of prose, and paves the way for other artificial distinctions which the mind voluntarily admits, I answer that the language of such
ere recommended is, as far as is possible, a selection of the language really spoken by men; that this selection, wherever it is made with true
ng, will of itself form a distinction far greater than would at first be imagined, and will entirely separate the composition from the vulgarity and
ordinary life; and, if metre be superadded thereto, I believe that a dissimilitude will be produced altogether sufficient for the gratification of a
. What other distinction would we have? Whence is it to come? And where is it to exist? Not, surely, where the Poet speaks through the mouths
ers: it cannot be necessary here, either for elevation of style, or any of its supposed ornaments: for, if the Poets subject be judiciously chosen, it
, and upon fit occasion, lead him to passions the language of which, if selected truly and judiciously, must necessarily be dignified and
nd alive with metaphors and figures. I forbear to speak of an incongruity which would shock the intelligent Reader, should the Poet interweave
plendour of his own with that which the passion naturally suggests: it is sufficient to say that such addition is unnecessary. And, surely, it is
e that those passages, which with propriety abound with metaphors and figures, will have their due effect, if, upon other occasions where the
of a milder character, the style also be subdued and temperate.
easure which I hope to give by the Poems now presented to the Reader must depend entirely on just notions upon this subject, and, as it is in
importance to our taste and moral feelings, I cannot content myself with these detached remarks. and if, in what I am about to say, it shall
me that my labour is unnecessary, and that I am like a man fighting a battle without enemies, such persons may be reminded, that, whatever be
outwardly holden by men, a practical faith in the opinions which I am wishing to establish is almost unknown. If my conclusions are admitted,
s far as they must be carried if admitted at all, our judgements concerning the works of the greatest Poets both ancient and modern will be far
m what they are at present, both when we praise, and when we censure: and our moral feelings influencing and influenced by these judgements
, be corrected and purified.
e subject, then, upon general grounds, let me ask, what is meant by the word Poet? What is a Poet? to whom does he address himself? and what
o be expected from him?He is a man speaking to men: a man, it is true, endowed with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and
ho has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind; a man pleased
passions and volitions, and who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life that is in him; delighting to contemplate similar volitions and
anifested in the goings-on of the Universe, and habitually impelled to create them where he does not find them. to these qualities he has added
to be affected more than other men by absent things as if they were present; an ability of conjuring up in himself passions, which are indeed far
he same as those produced by real events, yet (especially in those parts of the general sympathy which are pleasing and delightful) do more
ble the passions produced by real events, than anything which, from the motions of their own minds merely, other men are accustomed to feel in
whence, and from practice, he has acquired a greater readiness and power in expressing what he thinks and feels, and especially those
feelings which, by his own choice, or from the structure of his own mind, arise in him without immediate external excitement.
portion of this faculty we may suppose even the greatest Poet to possess, there cannot be a doubt that the language which it will suggest to
en, in liveliness and truth, fall short of that which is uttered by men in real life, under the actual pressure of those passions, certain shadows of
et thus produces, or feels to be produced, in himself.
lted a notion we would wish to cherish of the character of a Poet, it is obvious, that while he describes and imitates passions, his employment is
ee mechanical, compared with the freedom and power of real and substantial action and suffering. So that it will be the wish of the Poet to bring
ear to those of the persons whose feelings he describes, nay, for short spaces of time, perhaps, to let himself slip into an entire delusion, and
d and identify his own feelings with theirs; modifying only the language which is thus suggested to him by a consideration that he describes for
urpose, that of giving pleasure. Here, then, he will apply the principle of selection which has been already insisted upon. He will depend upon
ving what would otherwise be painful or disgusting in the passion; he will feel that there is no necessity to trick out or to elevate nature: and, the
ously he applies this principle, the deeper will be his faith that no words, which his fancy or imagination can suggest, will be to be compared
hich are the emanations of reality and truth.
e said by those who do not object to the general spirit of these remarks, that, as it is impossible for the Poet to produce upon all occasions
xquisitely fitted for the passion as that which the real passion itself suggests, it is proper that he should consider himself as in the situation of a
o does not scruple to substitute excellencies of another kind for those which are unattainable by him; and endeavours occasionally to surpass
n order to make some amends for the general inferiority to which he feels that he must submit. But this would be to encourage idleness and
pair. Further, it is the language of men who speak of what they do not understand; who talk of Poetry as of a matter of amusement and idle
o will converse with us as gravely about a taste for Poetry, as they express it, as if it were a thing as indifferent as a taste for rope-dancing, or
ave been told, has said, that Poetry is the most philosophic of all writing: it is so: its object is truth, not individual and local, but general, and
t standing upon external testimony, but carried alive into the heart by passion; truth which is its own testimony, which gives competence and
the tribunal to which it appeals, and receives them from the same tribunal.
image of man and nature. The obstacles which stand in the way of the fidelity of the Biographer and Historian, and of their consequent utility,
bly greater than those which are to be encountered by the Poet who comprehends the dignity of his art. The Poet writes under one restriction
the necessity of giving immediate pleasure to a human Being possessed of that information which may be expected from him, not as a lawyer,
mariner, an astronomer, or a natural philosopher, but as a Man. Except this one restriction, there is no object standing between the Poet and the
gs; between this, and the Biographer and Historian, there are a thousand.
ecessity of producing immediate pleasure be considered as a degradation of the Poets art. It is far otherwise. It is an acknowledgement of the
universe, an acknowledgement the more sincere, because not formal, but indirect; it is a task light and easy to him who looks at the world in
ove: further, it is a homage paid to the native and naked dignity of man, to the grand elementary principle of pleasure, by which he knows, and
es, and moves. We have no sympathy but what is propagated by pleasure: I would not be misunderstood; but wherever we sympathize with
be found that the sympathy is produced and carried on by subtle combinations with pleasure. We have no knowledge, that is, no general
wn from the contemplation of particular facts, but what has been built up by pleasure, and exists in us by pleasure alone. The Man of science,
nd Mathematician, whatever difficulties and disgusts they may have had to struggle with, know and feel this.
nful may be the objects with which the Anatomists knowledge is connected, he feels that his knowledge is pleasure; and where he has no
as no knowledge. What then does the Poet? He considers man and the objects that surround him as acting and re-acting upon each other, so as
n infinite complexity of pain and pleasure; he considers man in his own nature and in his ordinary life as contemplating this with a certain
mmediate knowledge, with certain convictions, intuitions, and deductions, which from habit acquire the quality of intuitions; he considers him as
this complex scene of ideas and sensations, and finding everywhere objects that immediately excite in him sympathies which, from the
his nature, are accompanied by an overbalance of enjoyment.
ledge which all men carry about with them, and to these sympathies in which, without any other discipline than that of our daily life, we are
delight, the Poet principally directs his attention. He considers man and nature as essentially adapted to each other, and the mind of man as
mirror of the fairest and most interesting properties of nature. And thus the Poet, prompted by this feeling of pleasure, which accompanies him
whole course of his studies, converses with general nature, with affections akin to those, which, through labour and length of time, the Man of
aised up in himself, by conversing with those particular parts of nature which are the objects of his studies. The knowledge both of the Poet and
cience is pleasure; but the knowledge of the one cleaves to us as a necessary part of our existence, our natural and unalienable inheritance; the
sonal and individual acquisition, slow to come to us, and by no habitual and direct sympathy connecting us with our fellow-beings. The Man of
truth as a remote and unknown benefactor; he cherishes and loves it in his solitude: the Poet, singing a song in which all human beings join
oices in the presence of truth as our visible friend and hourly companion. Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge; it is the
expression which is in the countenance of all Science. Emphatically may it be said of the Poet, as Shakespeare hath said of man, that he looks
ter. He is the rock of defence for human nature; an upholder and preserver, carrying everywhere with him relationship and love. In spite of
soil and climate, of language and manners, of laws and customs: in spite of things silently gone out of mind, and things violently destroyed;
s together by passion and knowledge the vast empire of human society, as it is spread over the whole earth, and over all time. The objects of the
hts are everywhere; though the eyes and senses of man are, it is true, his favourite guides, yet he will follow wheresoever he can find an
f sensation in which to move his wings.
first and last of all knowledgeit is as immortal as the heart of man. If the labours of Men of science should ever create any material
rect or indirect, in our condition, and in the impressions which we habitually receive, the Poet will sleep then no more than at present; he will
ollow the steps of the Man of science, not only in those general indirect effects, but he will be at his side, carrying sensation into the midst of the
science itself.
discoveries of the Chemist, the Botanist, or Mineralogist, will be as proper objects of the Poets art as any upon which it can be employed, if
ld ever come when these things shall be familiar to us, and the relations under which they are contemplated by the followers of these respective
be manifestly and palpably material to us as enjoying and suffering beings. If the time should ever come when what is now called science, thus
o men, shall be ready to put on, as it were, a form of flesh and blood, the Poet will lend his divine spirit to aid the transfiguration, and will
Being thus produced, as a dear and genuine inmate of the household of man.It is not, then, to be supposed that any one, who holds that
n of Poetry which I have attempted to convey, will break in upon the sanctity and truth of his pictures by transitory and accidental ornaments,
r to excite admiration of himself by arts, the necessity of which must manifestly depend upon the assumed meanness of his subject.
en thus far said applies to Poetry in general; but especially to those parts of composition where the Poet speaks through the mouths of his
d upon this point it appears to authorize the conclusion that there are few persons of good sense, who would not allow that the dramatic parts of
are defective, in proportion as they deviate from the real language of nature, and are coloured by a diction of the Poets own, either peculiar to
ividual Poet or belonging simply to Poets in general; to a body of men who, from the circumstance of their compositions being in metre, it is
employ a particular language.
, in the dramatic parts of composition that we look for this distinction of language; but still it may be proper and necessary where the Poet
n his own person and character. To this I answer by referring the Reader to the description before given of a Poet. Among the qualities there
s principally conducing to form a Poet, is implied nothing differing in kind from other men, but only in degree. The sum of what was said is,
s chiefly distinguished from other men by a greater promptness to think and feel without immediate external excitement, and a greater power in
ch thoughts and feelings as are produced in him in that manner. But these passions and thoughts and feelings are the general passions and
feelings of men. And with what are they connected? Undoubtedly with our moral sentiments and animal sensations, and with the causes which
with the operations of the elements, and the appearances of the visible universe; with storm and sunshine, with the revolutions of the seasons,
d heat, with loss of friends and kindred, with injuries and resentments, gratitude and hope, with fear and sorrow. These, and the like, are the
d objects which the Poet describes, as they are the sensations of other men, and the objects which interest them. The Poet thinks and feels in the
an passions. How, then, can his language differ in any material degree from that of all other men who feel vividly and see clearly? It might be
t is impossible. But supposing that this were not the case, the Poet might then be allowed to use a peculiar language when expressing his
is own gratification, or that of men like himself. But Poets do not write for Poets alone, but for men. Unless therefore we are advocates for that
hich subsists upon ignorance, and that pleasure which arises from hearing what we do not understand, the Poet must descend from this
ght; and, in order to excite rational sympathy, he must express himself as other men express themselves. To this it may be added, that while he
ing from the real language of men, or, which amounts to the same thing, composing accurately in the spirit of such selection, he is treading
ound, and we know what we are to expect from him. Our feelings are the same with respect to metre; for, as it may be proper to remind the
istinction of metre is regular and uniform, and not, like that which is produced by what is usually called POETIC DICTION, arbitrary, and
nite caprices upon which no calculation whatever can be made. In the one case, the Reader is utterly at the mercy of the Poet, respecting what
iction he may choose to connect with the passion; whereas, in the other, the metre obeys certain laws, to which the Poet and Reader both
mit because they are certain, and because no interference is made by them with the passion, but such as the concurring testimony of ages has
ghten and improve the pleasure which co-exists with it.
e proper to answer an obvious question, namely, Why, professing these opinions, have I written in verse? to this, in addition to such answer as is
what has been already said, I reply, in the first place, because however I may have restricted myself, there is still left open to me what
onstitutes the most valuable object of all writing, whether in prose or verse; the great and universal passions of men, the most general and
their occupations, and the entire world of nature before meto supply endless combinations of forms and imagery. Now, supposing for a
whatever is interesting in these objects may be as vividly described in prose, why should I be condemned for attempting to super add to such
e charm which, by the consent of all nations, is acknowledged to exist in metrical language? to this, by such as are yet unconvinced, it may be
a very small part of the pleasure given by Poetry depends upon the metre, and that it is injudicious to write in metre, unless it be accompanied
r artificial distinctions of style with which metre is usually accompanied, and that, by such deviation, more will be lost from the shock which
be given to the Readers associations than will be counterbalanced by any pleasure which he can derive from the general power of numbers. In
se who still contend for the necessity of accompanying metre with certain appropriate colours of style in order to the accomplishment of its
nd, and who also, in my opinion, greatly underrate the power of metre in itself, it might, perhaps, as far as relates to these Volumes, have been
ent to observe, that poems are extant, written upon more humble subjects, and in a still more naked and simple style, which have continued to
from generation to generation. Now, if nakedness and simplicity be a defect, the fact here mentioned affords a strong presumption that poems
s naked and simple are capable of affording pleasure at the present day; and, what I wish chiefly to attempt, at present, was to justify myself for
n under the impression of this belief.
auses might be pointed out why, when the style is manly, and the subject of some importance, words metrically arranged will long continue to
pleasure to mankind as he who proves the extent of that pleasure will be desirous to impart. The end of Poetry is to produce excitement in
with an overbalance of pleasure; but, by the supposition, excitement is an unusual and irregular state of the mind; ideas and feelings do not, in
ceed each other in accustomed order. If the words, however, by which this excitement is produced be in themselves powerful, or the images
have an undue proportion of pain connected with them, there is some danger that the excitement may be carried beyond its proper bounds. Now
ce of something regular, something to which the mind has been accustomed in various moods and in a less excited state, cannot but have great
mpering and restraining the passion by an intertexture of ordinary feeling, and of feeling not strictly and necessarily connected with the passion.
stionably true; and hence, though the opinion will at first appear paradoxical, from the tendency of metre to divest language, in a certain degree,
and thus to throw a sort of half-consciousness of unsubstantial existence over the whole composition, there can be little doubt but that more
tions and sentiments, that is, those which have a greater proportion of pain connected with them, may be endured in metrical composition,
rhyme, than in prose. The metre of the old ballads is very artless; yet they contain many passages which would illustrate this opinion; and, I
ollowing Poems be attentively perused, similar instances will be found in them. This opinion may be further illustrated by appealing to the
n experience of the reluctance with which he comes to the reperusal of the distressful parts of Clarissa Harlowe, or The Gamester; while
s writings, in the most pathetic scenes, never act upon us, as pathetic, beyond the bounds of pleasurean effect which, in a much greater
might at first be imagined, is to be ascribed to small, but continual and regular impulses of pleasurable surprise from the metrical arrangement.
hand (what it must be allowed will much more frequently happen) if the Poets words should be incommensurate with the passion, and
raise the Reader to a height of desirable excitement, then (unless the Poets choice of his metre has been grossly injudicious), in the feelings of
ch the Reader has been accustomed to connect with metre in general, and in the feeling, whether cheerful or melancholy, which he has been
o connect with that particular movement of metre, there will be found something which will greatly contribute to impart passion to the words,
he complex end which the Poet proposes to himself.
ertaken a SYSTEMATIC defence of the theory here maintained, it would have been my duty to develop the various causes upon which the
ived from metrical language depends. Among the chief of these causes is to be reckoned a principle which must be well known to those who
ny of the Arts the object of accurate reflection; namely, the pleasure which the mind derives from the perception of similitude in dissimilitude.
e is the great spring of the activity of our minds, and their chief feeder. From this principle the direction of the sexual appetite, and all the
nected with it, take their origin: it is the life of our ordinary conversation; and upon the accuracy with which similitude in dissimilitude, and
in similitude are perceived, depend our taste and our moral feelings. It would not be a useless employment to apply this principle to the
of metre, and to show that metre is hence enabled to afford much pleasure, and to point out in what manner that pleasure is produced. But my
t permit me to enter upon this subject, and I must content myself with a general summary.
hat poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity: the emotion is
till, by a species of reaction, the tranquillity gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of
n, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind. In this mood successful composition generally begins, and in a mood similar
rried on; but the emotion, of whatever kind, and in whatever degree, from various causes, is qualified by various pleasures, so that in describing
whatsoever, which are voluntarily described, the mind will, upon the whole, be in a state of enjoyment. If Nature be thus cautious to preserve in
oyment a being so employed, the Poet ought to profit by the lesson held forth to him, and ought especially to take care, that, whatever passions
ates to his Reader, those passions, if his Readers mind be sound and vigorous, should always be accompanied with an overbalance of pleasure.
ic of harmonious metrical language, the sense of difficulty overcome, and the blind association of pleasure which has been previously received
f rhyme or metre of the same or similar construction, an indistinct perception perpetually renewed of language closely resembling that of real
in the circumstance of metre, differing from it so widelyall these imperceptibly make up a complex feeling of delight, which is of the most
in tempering the painful feeling always found intermingled with powerful descriptions of the deeper passions. This effect is always produced
nd impassioned poetry; while, in lighter compositions, the ease and gracefulness with which the Poet manages his numbers are themselves
principal source of the gratification of the Reader. All that it is necessary to say, however, upon this subject, may be effected by affirming,
sons will deny, that, of two descriptions, either of passions, manners, or characters, each of them equally well executed, the one in prose and the
, the verse will be read a hundred times where the prose is read once.
explained a few of my reasons for writing in verse, and why I have chosen subjects from common life, and endeavoured to bring my language
al language of men, if I have been too minute in pleading my own cause, I have at the same time been treating a subject of general interest; and
n a few words shall be added with reference solely to these particular poems, and to some defects which will probably be found in them. I am
my associations must have sometimes been particular instead of general, and that, consequently, giving to things a false importance, I may have
ritten upon unworthy subjects; but I am less apprehensive on this account, than that my language may frequently have suffered from those
nexions of feelings and ideas with particular words and phrases, from which no man can altogether protect himself. Hence I have no doubt, that,
nces, feelings, even of the ludicrous, may be given to my Readers by expressions which appeared to me tender and pathetic. Such faulty
were I convinced they were faulty at present, and that they must necessarily continue to be so, I would willingly take all reasonable pains to
it is dangerous to make these alterations on the simple authority of a few individuals, or even of certain classes of men; for where the
g of an Author is not convinced, or his feelings altered, this cannot be done without great injury to himself: for his own feelings are his stay and
if he set them aside in one instance, he may be induced to repeat this act till his mind shall lose all confidence in itself, and become utterly
o this it may be added, that the critic ought never to forget that he is himself exposed to the same errors as the Poet, and, perhaps, in a much
e: for there can be no presumption in saying of most readers, that it is not probable they will be so well acquainted with the various stages of
ugh which words have passed, or with the fickleness or stability of the relations of particular ideas to each other; and, above all, since they are
interested in the subject, they may decide lightly and carelessly.
Reader has been detained, I hope he will permit me to caution him against a mode of false criticism which has been applied to Poetry, in which
closely resembles that of life and nature. Such verses have been triumphed over in parodies, of which Dr. Johnsons stanza is a fair

upon my head
nto the Strand,
met another man
as in his hand.
under these lines let us place one of the most justly admired stanzas of the Babes in the Wood.

Babes with hand in hand

ing up and down;
re they saw the Man
from the town.
stanzas the words, and the order of the words, in no respect differ from the most unimpassioned conversation. There are words in both, for
Strand, and the town, connected with none but the most familiar ideas; yet the one stanza we admit as admirable, and the other as a fair
he superlatively contemptible. Whence arises this difference? Not from the metre, not from the language, not from the order of the words; but
pressed in Dr. Johnsons stanza is contemptible. The proper method of treating trivial and simple verses, to which Dr. Johnsons stanza would
llelism, is not to say, this is a bad kind of poetry, or, this is not poetry; but, this wants sense; it is neither interesting in itself nor can lead to
resting; the images neither originate in that sane state of feeling which arises out of thought, nor can excite thought or feeling in the Reader.
ly sensible manner of dealing with such verses. Why trouble yourself about the species till you have previously decided upon the genus? Why
prove that an ape is not a Newton, when it is self-evident that he is not a man?
must make of my reader, which is, that in judging these Poems he would decide by his own feelings genuinely, and not by reflection upon
bably be the judgement of others. How common is it to hear a person say, I myself do not object to this style of composition, or this or that
ut, to such and such classes of people it will appear mean or ludicrous! This mode of criticism, so destructive of all sound unadulterated
almost universal: let the Reader then abide, independently, by his own feelings, and, if he finds himself affected, let him not suffer such
o interfere with his pleasure.
by any single composition, has impressed us with respect for his talents, it is useful to consider this as affording a presumption, that on other
ere we have been displeased, he, nevertheless, may not have written ill or absurdly; and further, to give him so much credit for this one
as may induce us to review what has displeased us, with more care than we should otherwise have bestowed upon it. This is not only an act of
n our decisions upon poetry especially, may conduce, in a high degree, to the improvement of our own taste; for an accurate taste in poetry, and
r arts, as Sir Joshua Reynolds has observed, is an acquired talent, which can only be produced by thought and a long continued intercourse with
els of composition. This is mentioned, not with so ridiculous a purpose as to prevent the most inexperienced Reader from judging for himself (I
said that I wish him to judge for himself), but merely to temper the rashness of decision, and to suggest, that, if Poetry be a subject on which
s not been bestowed, the judgement may be erroneous; and that, in many cases, it necessarily will be so.
d, I know, have so effectually contributed to further the end which I have in view, as to have shown of what kind the pleasure is, and how that
oduced, which is confessedly produced by metrical composition essentially different from that which I have here endeavoured to recommend:
r will say that he has been pleased by such composition; and what more can be done for him? The power of any art is limited; and he will
if it be proposed to furnish him with new friends, that can be only upon condition of his abandoning his old friends. Besides, as I have said, the
mself conscious of the pleasure which he has received from such composition, composition to which he has peculiarly attached the endearing
ry; and all men feel an habitual gratitude, and something of an honourable bigotry, for the objects which have long continued to please them:
wish to be pleased, but to be pleased in that particular way in which we have been accustomed to be pleased. There is in these feelings enough to
of arguments; and I should be the less able to combat them successfully, as I am willing to allow, that, in order entirely to enjoy the Poetry
ecommending, it would be necessary to give up much of what is ordinarily enjoyed. But, would my limits have permitted me to point out how
is produced, many obstacles might have been removed, and the Reader assisted in perceiving that the powers of language are not so limited as
ose; and that it is possible for poetry to give other enjoyments, of a purer, more lasting, and more exquisite nature. This part of the subject has
gether neglected, but it has not been so much my present aim to prove, that the interest excited by some other kinds of poetry is less vivid, and
f the nobler powers of the mind, as to offer reasons for presuming, that if my purpose were fulfilled, a species of poetry would be produced,
uine poetry; in its nature well adapted to interest mankind permanently, and likewise important in the multiplicity and quality of its moral

as been said, and from a perusal of the Poems, the Reader will be able clearly to perceive the object which I had in view: he will determine how
n attained; and, what is a much more important question, whether it be worth attaining: and upon the decision of these two questions will rest
he approbation of the Public.
Concluding Remarks
This module covered the Classical and Romantic Criticism. Module II will cover modern lietrary
criticism. It should be noted that these are not the only literary criticism theories. There are others
including the Medieval, Enlightenment, Renaissance and Victorian Theories and Criticism.
Nonetheless, the most popularised are the classical, romantic and modern literary theories and
criticisms. It is beneficial however as a student of literature to read beyond what this and the next
module will provide and guide you on.