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Full text of "Dionysius Longinus On the sublime :"





V'ucount Parker of Eicelme, and Baron Parker of Macclesfield. 

My Lord, 

The greatest degree of purity and splendour 
united, that Longinus has for some ages appeared 
in, was under the patronage of the late L,ord Mac- 
clesfield. A writer of so much spirit and judg- 
ment, had a just claim to the protection oj'so ele- 
vated a genius, and so judicious an encour^iger of 
polite learning. Longinus is now going to appear 
in an English chess, and begs the support of your 
Lordship's name. He has undeigone no farther 
alteration, than what teas absolutely necessary to 
make him English. His sense is fait hjully repre- 
sented ; but whether this translation has any of the 
original spirit, is a decision peculiar only to those 
irho can relish unaffected grandeur and natural 
Sublimity, ivith the same judicious taste as your 

It is needless to say any thing to your Lordship 
about the other parts of this performance, since they 
alone can plead effectually for themselves. I went 
through this ivork, animated with a view (f pleas- 



ing every body ; and puhlish it in some fear of 
pleasing' none. Yet I lay hold with pleasure on 
this opportunity of paying my respects to your 
Lordship, atid giving this public proof that 
J am, 

My Lord, 
Your Lordship s most obedient 

and most humble Servant, 



It will, without doubt, be expected, that the Reader should 
be made privy to the reasons upon which this Work w as under- 
taken, and is now made pubHc. The intrinsic beauty of the 
piece itself first allured me to the attempt ; and a regard for 
the public, especially for those who might be unable to read 
tlie original, was the main inducement to its publication. 

The Treatise on the Sublime had slept for several ages, 
covered up in the dust of libraries, till the middle of die six- 
teenth century. The lirst Latin version by Gabriel de Petra 
was printed at Geneva in I6l2. But the first good translation 
of it into any modern language, was the French one of the 
famous Boileau, which, though not always faithful to the text, 
yet has an elegance and a spirit which few will ever be able 
to equal, much less to surpass. 

The present translation was finished before I knew of any 
prior attempt to make Longinus speak English. The first 
translation of him I met with, was published by Mr. Welsted, 
in 1724. But I was very much surprised, upon a perusal, to 
find it only Boileau's translation misrepresented and mangled. 
For every beauty is impaired, if not totally effaced^ and every 
error (even down to those of the printer) most injudiciously 

I have since accidentally met with two other English ver- 
sions of this Treatise ; one by J. Hall, Esq. London, 1652 ; 
the other without a name, but printed at Oxford in 1(J08, ar.d 
said in the title-page to have been compared with the French 
of Boileau. I saw noUiiug in either of these uliich did not 
yield the greatest encouragement to a new attempt. 

Mo less than nine years have intervened since the finishini;- 


oi' this translation, in wliitli space it lias been frequently re- 
vised, submitted to the censure of friends, and amended again 
and again by a more attentive study of the original. The de- 
sign was, if possible, to make it read like an original : whether 
I have succeeded in this, the bulk of my readers may judge ; 
but whether the translation be good, or come any thing near 
to the life, the spirit, the energy of Longinus, is a decision pe- 
culiar to men of learning and taste, who alone know the diffi- 
culties which attend such an undertaking, and will be impar- 
tial enough to give the translator the necessary indulgence. 

Longinus himself was never accurately enough published, 
nor thoroughly understood, till Dr. Pearce * did him justice in 
his late editions at London. My thanks are due to that gen- 
tleman, not only for his correct editions, on account of which 
the whole learned world is indebted to him, but for those ani- 
madversions and corrections of this translation, with which he 
so kindly favoured me. Most of the remarks and observa- 
tions were drawn up before I had read his Latin notes. 

1 am not the least in pain about the pertinency of those in- 
stances which I have brought from the sacred writers, as well 
as from some of the finest of our own country, to illustrate the 
criticisms of Longinus. I am only fearful, lest, among the 
multiplicity of such as might be had, I may be thought to 
have omitted some of the best. I am sensible, that what I 
have done, might be done much better ; but if I have the 
gouil fortune to contribute a little towards the fixing a true ju- 
dicious taste, and enabling my readers to distinguish sense 
from sound, grandeur from pomp, and the Sublime from fus- 
tian and bombast, 1 shall think my time well spent ; and shall 
be ready to submit to the censures of a judge, but shall only 
smile at the snarling of what is commonly called a critic. 

* Now Lord IVisliop of Rodiester. 
Jas. 1770. 




Some account of the Life, AVritings, and Character 

of Longiuus ., 9 

Sect. 1. — That CeciUus's treatise on the Snbhnie 

is imperfect, and why 44 

2. — Whether the Sublime may be learned .... 48 

3. — Of Bombast 51 

Of Puerilities , 55 

Of the Parenthyrse, or ill-timed emotion 5() 

4.— Of the Frigid 57 

5. — Whence these imperfections take their 

rise () 1 

6. — That a knowledge of the true Sublime is 

attainable 6'Z 

7. — How the Sublime may be known ...... 63 

8. — That there are live sources of the Sub- 
lime 66 

9. — Of Elevation of Thought 70 

10. — That a choice and connexion of proper 
circumstances will produce the Sub- 
lime 92 

11. — Of Amplification 104 

1'2. — That the definition which the writers of 
rhetoric give of Ampliiication is im- 
proper 1()6 

13. — Of Plato's Sublimity 109 

Of Imitation , . . . , Ill 

14. — That the best authors ought to be our 

models in writing 114 

15. — Of Images 115 

16. — Of Figures 128 

17. — That Figures and Sublimity mutually as- 
sist one another , 133 

18. — Of Question and Interrogation . 135 

19. — Of Asyndetons 1 38 

20. — Of Heaps of Figures 140 

21. — That Copulatives weaken the style 142 



Sect. 22. — Of Ilyperbatons 144 

23. — Of Change of Number 150 

24. — That Singulars sometimes cause Sub- 
limity 154 

25. — Of Change of Tense 155 

'2(5. — Of Change of Person 156 

27. — Of another Change of Person 159 

28. — Of Periphrasis or Circumlocution 163 

29. — That Circumlocution carried too far grows 

insipid I6G 

30.— Of Choice of Terms 167 

3 1 .—Of Vulgar Terms I69 

32. — Of Multitude of Metaphors 172 

33. — That the Sublime, with some faults, is bet- 
ter than what is correct and faultless 

without being Sublime 180 

34. — By the preceding rule Demosthenes and 
Hyperides are compared, and the pre- 
ference given to the former 184 

So. — That Plato is in all respects superior to 
Lysias ; and in general, that whatever 
is great and uncommon soonest raises 

admiration IBQ 

36. — Sublime writers considered in a parallel 

view 192 

S7. — Of Similes and Comparisons ........ 194 

38.— Of Hyperboles 195 

39. — Of Composition or Structure of Words.. 201 
40. — Of apt Connexion of the constituent parts 

of discourse 206 

41. — That broken and precipitate measines de- 
base the Sublime 209 

That Words of short syllables are preju- 
dicial to the Sublime 210 

• - 42. — That Contraction of Style diminishes the 

Sublime 210 

43. — That low terms blemish the Sublime .... 21] 
44. — The scarcity of sublime writers accounted 

for 215 





THERE is no part of history more 
agreeable in itself, nor more improving to 
the mind, than the lives of those who have 
distinguished themselves from the herd of 
mankind, and set themselves up to public re- 
gard. A particular tribute of admiration is 
always due, and is generally paid, to the 
hero, the philosopher, and the scholar. It 
requires, indeed, a strength of understanding 
and a solidity of judgment, to distinguish 
those actions which are truly great, from 
such as have only the show and appearance 
of it. The noise of victoiies and the pomp of 
triumphs are apt to make deeper impressions 
on common minds, than the calm and even 
labours of men of a studious and philosophi- 
cal turn, though the latter are, for the most 



part, more commendable in themselves and 
more useful to the world. The imagination 
of the bulk of mankind is more alive than 
their judgment ; hence C?esar is more ad- 
mired for the part he acted in the plains of 
Pharsalia, than for the recollection of his 
mind the night after the victory, by which 
he armed himself against the insolence of 
success, and formed resolutions of forgiving 
his enemies, and triumphing more by cle- 
mency and mildness, than he had before by 
his courage and his arms. Deeds which we 
can only admire, are not so fit for sedate con- 
templation, as those which we may also imi- 
tate. We may not be able to plan or execute 
a victory with the Scipios and Caesars, but 
we may improve and fortify our understand- 
ingSy by inspecting their scenes of studj^ and 
reflection ; we may apply the contemplations 
of the wise to private use, so as to make our 
passions obedient to our reason, our reason 
productive of inward tranquillity, and some- 
times of real and substantial advantage to all 
our fellow-creatures. 

Such remarks as the preceding can be no 
improper introduction to whatever may be 
collected concerning the life of our Author, 
It will turn out at best but dark and imper- 


feet, yet open into two prineipal views, which 
may prove of double use to a thoughtful and 
considerate reader. As a Writer of a refined 
and polished taste, of a sound and penetrat- 
ing judgment, it will lead him to such me- 
thods of thinking, as are the innocent and 
embellishing amusements of life ; as a Philoso- 
pher of enlarged and generous sentiments, a 
friend to virtue, a steady champion, and an 
intrepid martyr for liberty, it will teach him, 
that nothing can be great and glorious, which 
is not just and good ; and that the dignity of 
what we utter, and what we act, depends 
entirely on the dignity of our thoughts, and 
the inward grandeur and elevation of the 
soul. ■ - 

Searching for the particular passages and 
incidents of the life of Longinus, is like tra- 
velling now-a-days through those countries in 
which it was spent. We meet with nothing 
but continual scenes of devastation and ruin. 
In one place, a beautiful spot smiling through 
the bounty of nature, yet overrun with weeds 
and thorns for want of culture, presents itself 
to view ; in another, a pile of stones lying in 
the same confusion in which they fell, with 
here and there a nodding wall ; and some- 
times a curious pillar still erect, excites the 
V B 2 


sorrowful remembrance of what noble edi- 
fices and how fine a city once crowned the 
place. Tyrants and barbarians are not less 
pernicious to learning and improvement, than 
to cities and nations. Bare names are pre- 
served and handed down to us, but little 
more. Who were the destroyers of all the 
rest, wc know with regret, but the value of 
what is destroyed, we can only guess and 

What countryman Longinus 
oiiiaas. ^^j^g^ cannot certainly be disco- 

J. JonsiKs. 1 o n 1 • o 

Dr.Pearce. ^'^^'^^^- ^^me fancy him a Sy- 
rian, and that he was born at 
Emisa, because an uncle of his, one Fronto, a 
rhetorician, is called by Suidas an Emisenian. 
But others, with greater probability, suppose 
him an Athenian. That he was a Grecian, is 
plain from two * passages in the following 
Treatise; in one of which he uses this ex- 
pression, " If we Grecians ;'' and in the other 
he expressly calls Demosthenes his country- 
man. Hisnamewas Dionysius Longinus, to 
which Suidas makes the addition of Cassius; 
but that of his father is entirely unknown; a 
point (it is true) of small importance, since 

* See Sect. xii. 


a son of excellence and worth, reflects a glory 
upon, instead of receiving any from, his father. 
By his mother Frontonis he was allied, after 
two or three removes, to the celebrated Plu- 
tarch. We are also at a loss for the employ- 
ment of his parents, their station in life, andthe 
beginning of his education ; but a * remnant 
of his own writings informs us, that his youth 
was spent intravelUng with them, which gave 
him an opportunity to increase his knowledge, 
and open his mind with that generous enlarge- 
ment, which men of sense and judgment will 
unavoidably receive, from variety of objects 
and diversity of conversation. The improve- 
ment of his mind was always uppermost in his 
thoughts, and his thirst after knowledge led 
him to those channels by which it is con- 
veyed. Wherever men of learning were to be 
found, he was present, and lost no opportunity 
of forming a familiarity and intimacy with 
them. Ammonius and Origen, philosophers 
of no small repi^'tation in that age, were two 
of those whom he visited and heard with the 
greatest attention. As he was not deficient 
in vivacity of parts, quickness of apprehen- 
sion, and strength of understanding, the pro- 

* Fragment, quintum. . . 


gress of his improvement must needs have 
been equal to his industry and diligence in 
seeking after it. He was capable of learning 
whatever he desired, and no doubt he desired 
to learn whatever was commendable and 

The travels of Longinus ended with his ar- 
rival at Athens, where he fixed his residence. 
This city was then, and had been for some 
ages, the University of the world. It was the 
constant resort of all who were able to teach, 
or willing to improve; the grand and lasting 
reservoir of philosophy and learning, from 
whence were drawn every rivulet and stream 
that watered and cultivated the rest of the 
world. Here our author pursued the studies 
of humanity and philosophy wdth the greatest 
application, and soon became the most re- 
markable person in a place so remarkable as 
Athens. Here he published his Treatise on 
the Sublime, which raised his reputation to 
such a height, as no critic, -either before or 
since, durst ever aspire to. He was a perfect 
master of the ancient writings of Greece, and 
intimately acquainted not only with the works 
but the very genius and spirit with which 
they were written. His cotemporaries there 
had such an implicit laith in his judgment, 

or LONGINUS. 15 

and were so well convinced of the perfection 
of his taste, that they appointed him judge 
of all the ancient authors, and learned to dis- 
tinguish between the genuine and spurious 
productions of antiquity, from his opinions 
and sentiments about them. He was looked 
upon by them as infallible and unerring, and 
therefore by his decrees were fine writing 
and fine sense establishe^l, and his sentence 
stamped its intrinsic valie upon every piece. 
The entrusting any one person with so deli- 
cate a commission, is an extraordinary in- 
stance of complaisance : it is without a pre- 
cedent in every age before, and unparalleled 
in any of the succeeding ; as it is fit it should, 
till another Lonoinus shall arise. But in re- 
gard to him, it docs honour to those who 
lodged it in his hands. For no classic writer 
ever suffered in character from an erroneous 
censure of Longinus. He was, as I observed 
before, a perfect master of the style and pe- 
culiar turn of thought of them all, and could 
discern every beauty or blemish in every 
composition. In vain might inferior critics 
exclaim against this monopoly of judgment. 
Whatever objections they raised against it 
were mere air and unregarded sounds. And 
whatever they blamed, or whatever they com- 


mended, was received or rejected by the 
public, only as it met with the 
Eunapius. approbation of Longinus, or Avas 
confirmed and ratified by his so- 
vereign decision. }\.:.. 

His stay at Athens seems to have been of 
long continuance, and that cit}^ perhaps had 
never enjoyed so able a Professor of fine 
learning, eloquence, and philosophy united. 
Whilst he taught here, he had, amongst others, 
the famous Porphyry for his pupil. The sys- 
tem of philosophy which he went upon, was 
the Academic ; for whose founder, Plato, he 
had so great a veneration, that he celebrated 
the anniversary of his birth with the highest 
solemnity. There is something agreeable even 
in the distant fancy ; how delightful then 
must those reflections have been, which could 
not but arise in the breast of Longinus, that 
he was explaining and recommending the 
doctrine of Plato, in those calm retreats 
where he himself had w ritten ; that he was 
teaching his scholars the eloquence of De- 
mosthenes, on the very spot, perhaps, where 
he had formerly thundered ; and was pro- 
fessing rhetoric in the place where Cicero had 
studied ! r.- 'ii! ; 

The mind of our Author was not so con- 


tracted, as to be fit only for a life of stillness 
and tranquillity. Fine genius, and a true phi- 
losophic turn, qualify not only for study and 
retirement, but will enable their owners to 
shine, I will not say in more honourable, but 
in more conspicuous views, and to appear 
on the public stage of life with dignity and 
honour. And it was the fortune of Long;inus 
to be drawn from the contemplative shades of 
Athens, to mix in more active scenes, to train 
up young princes to virtue and glory, to guide 
the busy and ambitious passions of the great 
to noble ends, to struggle for, and at last to 
die in the cause of liberty. '— '■'■■' ' ''^ 
During the residence of Longi- TrebeUius 
nus at Athens, the Emperor Va- Pollio. t 
lerian had undertaken an expedi- ; 

tion against the Persians, who had revolted 
from the Roman yoke. He was assisted in 
it by Odenathus, king of Palmj^a, who, after 
the death of Valerian, carried on the war with 
uncommon spirit and success. Gallienus, who 
succeeded his father Valer-ian at Rome, being 
a prince of a weak and effeminate soul, of the 
most dissolute and abandoned manners, with- 
out any shadow of worth in himself, was 
willing to get a support in the valour of Ode- 
nathus, and therefore he made him his part- 


ner in empire by the title of Augustus, and 
decreed his medals, strucken in honour of the 
Persian victories, to be current coin through- 
out the empire. Odenathus, says an historian, 
seemed born for the empire of the world, and 
would probably have risen to it, had he not 
been taken off, in a career of victory, by the 
treachery of his own relations. His abilities 
were so great, and his actions so illustrious, 
that they were above the competition of every 
person then alive, except his own wife Ze- 
nobia, alady of so extraordinary magnanimity 
and virtue, that she outshone even her hus- 
band, and engrossed the attention and admi- 
ration of the world. She was descended from 
the ancient race of Ptolemy and Cleopatra, 
and had all those qualifications which are the 
ornament of her own, and the glory of the 
other sex. A miracle of beauty, but chaste 
to a prodigy : in punishing the bad, inflexibly 
severe ; in rewarding the good, or relieving 
the distressed, benevolent and active. Splen- 
did, but not profuse ; and generous without 
prodigality. Superior to the toils and hard- 
ships of war, she was generally on horseback ; 
and would sometimes march on foot with 
her soldiers. She was skilled in several lan- 
guages, and is said to have drawn up herself 


an epitome of the Alexandrian and Oriental 

The great reputation of Longinus had been 
wafted to the ears of Zenobia, who prevailed 
upon him to quit Athens, and undertake the 
education of her sons. He quickl}^ gained 
an uncommon share in her esteem, as she 
found him not only qualified to form the 
tender minds of the young, but to improve 
the virtue, and enlighten the understanding 
of the aged. In his conversation she spent 
the vacant hours of her life, modelling her 
sentiments by his instructions, and steering 
herself by his counsels in the whole series of 
her conduct ; and in carrying on that plan of 
empire, which she herself had formed, which 
her husband Odenathus had begun to execute, 
but had left imperfect. The number of com- 
petitors, who, in the vicious and scandalous 
reign of Gallieilus, set up for the empire, but 
with abilities far inferior to those of Zenobia, 
gave her an opportunity to extend her con- 
quests, by an uncommon tide of success, over 
all the East. Claudius, who succeeded Gal- 
lienus at Rome, was employed during his 
whole reign, which was very short, against 
the Northern nations. Their reduction was 
afterwards completed by Aurelian, the great- 


est soldier that had for a long time worn the 

imperial purple. He then turned his arms 

against Zenobia, being surprised as well at the 

rapidity of" her conquests, as enraged that she 

had dared to assume the title of Queen of 

the East. • - 

Tr • He marched a2;ainst her with 

f opiscus. * 

Zosimus. the best of his forces, and met with 
no check in his expedition till he 
advanced as far as Antioch. Zenobia was there 
in readiness to oppose his further progress. 
But the armies coming to an engagement at 
Daphne, near Antioch, she was defeated by the 
good conduct of Aurelian, and leaving Antioch 
at his mercy, retired with her army to Emisa. 
The Emperor marched immediately after, and 
found her ready to give him battle in the 
plains before the city. The dispute was 
shai'p and bloody on both sides, till at last thie 
victory inclined a second time to Aurelian ; 
and the imfortunate Zenobia, not daring to 
confide in the Emisenians, was again com- 
pelled to retire towards her capital, Palmyra. 
As the town was strongly fortified, and the 
inhabitants full of zeal for her service, and 
affection for her person, she made no doubt 
of defending herself here, in spite of the 
warmest efforts of Aurelian, till she could 


raise new forces, and venture again into the 
open field. Aurelian was not long behind, 
his activity impelled him forwards, to crown 
his former success, by completing the con- 
quest of Zenobia. His march was terribly 
harassed by the frequent attacks of the Sy- 
rian banditti ; and when he came up, he 
found Palmyra so strongly fortified and so 
bravely defended, that though he invested it 
with his army, yet the siege was attended 
with a thousand difficulties. His army was 
daily weakened and dispirited by the gallant 
resistance of the Palmyrenians, and his own 
life sometimes in the utmost danger. Tired 
at last with the obstinacy of the besieged, 
and almost worn out by continued fatigues, 
he sent Zenobia a written summons to sur- 
render, as if his words could strike terror into 
her, whom by force of arms he was unable 
to subdue. 


" Why am I forced to command, what 
you ought voluntarily to have done already ? 
I charge you to surrender, and thereby 


avoid the certain penalty of death, which 
otherwise attends you. You, Zenobia, shall 
spend the remainder of your life, where I, by 
the advice of the most honourable senate, 
shall think proper to place you. Your jewels, 
your silver, your gold, your finest apparel, 
your horses, and your camels, you shall re- 
sign to the disposal of the Romans, in order 
to preserve the Palmyrenians from being di- 
vested of all their former privileges.'" 

Zenobia, not in the least affrighted by the 
menace, nor soothed by the cruel promise of 
a life in exile and obscurity ; resolved by her 
answer to convince Aurelian, that he should 
find the stoutest resistance from her, whom 
he thought to frighten into compliance. This 
answer was drawn up by Longinus in a spirit 
peculiar to himself, and worthy of his mis- 
tress. ' 


" Never was such an unreasonable demand 
proposed, or such rigorous terms offered, by 
any but yourself. Remember, Aurelian, that 
in war, whatever is done, should be done by 


valour. You imperiously command me to 
surrender ; but can you forget, that Cleo- 
patra chose rather to die with the title of 
Queen, than to live in any inferior digiiity ? 
We expect succours from Persia ; the Sa- 
racens are arming in our cause ; even the 
Syrian banditti have already defeated your 
army. Judge what you are to expect from 
a conjunction of these forces. You shall be 
compelled to abate that pride, with which, 
as if you were absolute lord of the universe, 
you command me to become your captive." 

Aurelian, says Vopiscus, had no sooner 
read this disdainful letter, than he blushed 
(not so much with shame, as) with indigna- 
tion. He redoubled his efforts, invested the 
town more closely than ever, and kept it in 
continual alarms. No art was left untried, 
which the conduct of a general could suggest, 
or the bravery of angry soldiers could put in 
execution. He intercepted the aid which 
was marchino- from Persia to its relief. He 
reduced the Saracen and Armenian forces, 
either by strength of arms, or the subtilty 
of intrigues ; till at length, the Palmyre- 
nians, deprived of all prospect of succour, 
and worn out by continual assaults from with- 


out, and by famine within, were obliged to 
open the gates and receive their conqueror. 
The Queen and Longinus could not tamely 
stay to put on their chains. Mounted on the 
swiftest camels, they endeavoured to fly into 
Persia, to make fresh head against Aurelian, 
who entering the city was vexed to find his vic- 
tory imperfect, and Zenobia yet unsubdued. 
A body of the swiftest horse was immediately 
dispatched in pursuit, who overtook and 
made them prisoners as they were 
Zosimus. crossing the Euphrates. Aure- 
lian, after he had settled Palmyra, 
returned to Emisa, whither the captives were 
carried after him. He sat on his tribunal to re- 
ceive Zenobia, or rather to insult her. The Ro- 
man soldiers throng around her, and demand 
her death with incessant shouts. Zenobia 
now was no longer herself: the former great- 
ness of her spirit quite sunk within her ; she 
owned a master, and pleaded for her life. 
" Her counsellors (she said) were to be 
blamed, and not herself. What could a weak 
short-sighted woman do, when beset by art- 
ful and ambitious men, who made her sub- 
servient to all their schemes ? She never had 
aimed at empire, had they not placed it be- 
fore her eyes in all its alkirements, The let- 


ter which affronted Aurelian was not her 
own ; Longinus wrote it, the insolence was 
his." This was no sooner heard, than Aure- 
lian, who was soldier enough to conquer, 
but not hero enough to forgive, poured all 
his vengeance on the head of Longinus. He 
was borne away to immediate execution, 
amidst the generous condolence of those who 
knew his merit, and admired the inward ge- 
nerosity of his soul. He pitied Zenobia, and 
comforted his friends. He looked upon death 
as a blessing, since it rescued his body from 
slavery, and gave his soul the most desirable 
freedom. " This world (said he with his ex- 
piring breath) is nothing but a prison ; 
happy therefore he who gets soonest out of 
it, and gains his liberty.'" • v r . ; ...,:: 

The writings of Longinus are numerous, 
some on philosophical, but the greatest part 
on critical subjects. Dr. Pearce has col- 
lected the titles of twenty-five Treatises, none 
of which, except this on the Sublime, have 
escaped from the depredations of time and 
barbarians. And even this is rescued as from 
a wreck, damaged too much and shattered 
by the' storm. Yet on this little and im- 
perfect piece has the fame of Longinus been 
founded and erected. The learned and judi- 



cious have bestowed extraordinary commen- 
dation upon it. The Golden Treatise is its 
general title. It is one of those valuable rem- 
nants of antiquity, of which enough remains 
to engage our admiration, and excite an 
earnest regret for every particle of it that 
has perished. It resembles those mutilated 
statues, which are sometimes digged out of 
ruins. Limbs are broken off, which it is not 
in the power of any living artist to replace, 
because the fine proportion and delicate 
finishing of the trunk excludes all hope of 
equalling such masterly performances. From 
a constant inspection and close study of 
such an antique fragment of Rome, Michael ^ 
Angelo learned to execute and to teach the 
art of Sculpture ; it was therefore called Mi- 
chael Angelo's School. The same use may 
be made of this imperfect piece on the Sub- 
lime, since it is a noble school for critics, 
poets, orators, and historians. 

" The Subhme,'' says Longinus, " is an 
image reflected from the inward greatness 
of the soul." The remark is refined and jusl , 
and who more deserving than he of its appli- 
cation ? Let his sentiments be considered 
as reflections from his own mind ; let this 
piece on the Sublime be regarded as the 


picture of its autlior. It is a pity we have not 
a larger portrait of him ; but as that cannot 
be had, we must take up at present with 
this incomplete, though beautiful miniature. 
The features are graceful, the air is noble, 
the colouring lively enough to shew how fine 
it was, and how many qualifications are ne- 
cessary to form the character of a critic with 
dignity and applause. 

Elevation of thought, the greatest qualifi- 
cation requisite to an orator or poet, is 
equally necessary to a critic, and is the most 
shining talent in Longinus. Nature had im- 
planted the seeds of it within him, which he 
himself improved and nursed up to perfec- 
tion, by an intimacy with the greatest and 
sublimest writers. AVhenever he has Homer 
in view, he catches his fire, and increases the 
light and ardour of it. The space between 
heaven and earth marks out the extent of the 
poet's genius; but the world itself seems too 
narrow a confinement for that of the critic* 
And though his thoughts are sometimes 
stretched to an immeasurable size, yet they 
are always great without swelling, bold with- 
out rashness, far beyond what any other could 

* See Sect. ix. ' ' ■ - ' ■:: O.'- 

c 2 


or durst have said, and always proper and 

As his sentiments are noble and lofty, so 
his style is masterly, enlivened by variety, 
and flexible with ease. There is no beauty 
pointed out by him in any other, which he 
does not imitate, and frequently excel, Avhilst 
he is making remarks upon it. How he ad- 
mires and improves upon Homer, has been 
hinted already. When Plato is his subject, 
the words glide along in a smooth, easy, and 
peaceable flow. When he speaks of Hype- 
rides, he copies at once his engaging manner, 
the simplicity, sweetness, and harmony of his 
style. With Demosthenes he is vehement, 
abrupt, and disorderly regular; he dazzles 
with his lightning, and terrifies with his thun- 
der. When he parallels the Greek with the 
Roman orator, he shews in two periods the 
distinguishing excellences of each; the first 
is a very hurricane, which bears down all be- 
fore it; the last, a conflagration, gentle in its 
beginning, gradually dispersed, increasing 
and getting to such a head, as to rage beyond 
resistance, and devour all things. His sense 
is every where the very thing he would ex- 
press, and the sound of his words is an echo 
to his sense. . . 

OF LONG IN US. i '< 29 

His judgment is exact and impartial, both 
in what he blames and what he commends. 
The sentence he pronounces is founded upon 
and supported by reasons which are satisfac- 
tory and just. His approbation is not at- 
tended with fits of stupid admiration, or 
gaping, like an idiot, at something surprising 
which he cannot comprehend ; nor are his 
censures fretful and waspish. He stings, like 
the bee, what actually annoys him; but car- 
ries honey along with him, which, if it heals 
not the wound, yet assuages the smart. 

His candour is extensive as his judgment. 
The penetration of the one obliged him to 
reprove what was amiss ; the secret workings 
of the other bias him to excuse or extenuate 
it in the best manner he is able. Whenever 
he lays open the faults of a writer, he forgets 
not to mention the quahties he had which 
were deserving of praise. Where Homer 
sinks into trifles, he cannot help reproving 
him ; but though Homer nods sometimes, he 
is Homer still ; excelling all the world when 
broad awake, and in his fits of drowsiness, 
dreaming like a god. 

The good-nature, also, of Longinus must 
not pass without notice. He bore an aversion 
to the sneers and cavils of those who, un- 


equal to the weighty province of criticism, 
abuse it, and become its nuisance. He fre- 
quently takes pains to shew how misplaced 
their animadversions are, and to defend the 
injured from aspersions. There is an in- 
stance of this in his vindication of Theopom- 
pus from the censure of Cecilius.* He can- 
not endure to see what is right in that author 
perverted into error; nor where he really 
errs, will he sufi^er him to pass unreproved.-i-* 
Yet here his good-nature exerts itself again, 
and he proposes divers methods of amending 
what is wrong. 

The judgment, and candour, and impar- 
tiality, with which Longinus declares his sen- 
timents of the writings of others, will, I am 
persuaded, rise in our esteem, when we reflect 
on that exemplary piece of justice he has 
done to Moses. The manner of his quoting 
that celebrated passagej from him, is as ho- 
nourable to the critic, as the quotation itself 
to the Jewish legislator. Whether he believed 
the Mosaic history of the creation, is a point 
in which we are not in the least concerned; 
but it was plainly his opinion, that though it 
be condescendingly suited to the finite con- 

^ * Sect. xxxi. t Sect, xliii. I Sect. ix. 


ception of man, yet it is related in a manner 
not inconsistent with the majesty of God. 
To contend, as some do, that he never read 
Moses, is trifling, or rather litigious. The 
Greek translation had been dispersed through- 
out the Roman empire, long before the time 
in which he lived : and no man of a serious, 
much less of a philosophical turn, could re- 
ject it as unworthy a perusal. Besides, Zeno- 
bia, according to the testimony of Photius,* 
was a Jewish convert. And I have some- 
where seen it mentioned from Bellarmine, 
that she was a Christian; but as I am a 
stranger to the reasons on which he founds 
the assertion, I shall lay no stress upon it. 

But there is strong probability, that Lon- 
ginus was not only acquainted with the writ- 
ings of the Old Testament, but with those 
also of the New, since to a manuscript of 
the latter in the Vatican library, there is pre- 
fixed a passage from some of this Author's 
writings, which is preserved there as an in- 
stance of his judgment. He is drawing up 
a list of the greatest orators, and at the close 
he says, " And further, Paul of Tarsus, the 
chief supporter of an opinion not yet esta- 

Piefixcd to Uudbon's Lon<iimis. 


blished/' Fabricius, I own, has been so offi- 
ciously kind as to attribute these words to 
Cliristian forgery;* but for what reasons I 
cannot conjecture. If for any of real weight 
and injportance. certainly he ought not to 
have concealed them from the world. 

If Longinus ever saw any of the writings 
of St. Paul, he could not but entertam a 
high opinion of him. Such a judge must 
needs applaud so masterly an orator. For 
where is the writer that can vie with him in 
sublime and pathetic eloquence? Demos- 
thenes could rouse up the Athenians against 
Philip, and Cicero strike shame and confusion 
into the breasts of Antony or Catiline ; and 
did not the eloquence of St. Paul, though 
bound in degrading fetters, make the oppres- 
sive, the abandoned Felix treuible, and al- 
most persuade Agrippa, in spite of all his 
prejudice, to be a Christian? Homer, after 
his death, was looked upon as more than hu- 
man, and temples were erected to his honom' ; 
and was not St. Paul admired as a god, even 
whilst he was on earth, when the inhabitants 
of Lystra would have sacrificed to him? Let 
his w^ritings be examined and judged by the 

* Bibliolhccu Gra^ca, 1. 4. c. 31. 


severest test of the severest critics, and they 
cannot be found deficient; nay, they will 
appear more abundantly stocked with sub- 
lime and pathetic thoughts, wnth strong and 
beautiful figures, with nervous and elegant 
expressions, than any other composition in 
the world. 

But, to leave this digression : it is a remark 
of Sir William Temple, that no pure Greek 
was written after the reign of the Antonini. 
But the diction of Longinus, though less 
pure than that of Aristotle, is elegant and 
nervous, the conciseness or diffuseness of his 
periods being always suited to the nature of 
his subject. The terms he uses are generally 
so strong and expressive, and sometimes so 
artfully compounded, that they cannot be 
rendered into another language without wide 
circumlocution. He has a high and mascu- 
line turn of thought, unknown to any other 
writer, which enforced him to give all possible 
strength and energy to his Avords, that his 
language might be properly adjusted to his 
sense, and the sublimity of the latter be uni- 
formly supported by the grandeur of the 
former. / , . / rJ : ;;jf ;r i . 

But further, there appears not in him the 
least show or afiectation oi Icainino-, thoui^h 


his stock was wonderfully large, yet without 
any prejudice to the brightness of his fancy. 
Some writers are even profuse of their com- 
mendations of him in this respect. For how 
extensive must his reading have been, to de- 
serve those appellations given him by Euna- 
pius, that he was a living library, and a walk- 
ing museiim? Large reading, without a due 
balance of judgment, is like a voracious ap- 
petite with a bad digestion ; it breaks out 
according to the natural complexion of difter- 
ent persons, either into learned dulness, or a 
brisk but insipid pedantry. In Longinus, it 
was so far from palling or extinguishing, that 
on the contrary it sharpened and enlivened 
his taste. He was not so surly as to reject the 
sentiments of others without examination, 
but he had the wisdom to stick by his own. 

Let us pause a little here, and consider what 
a disagreeable and shocking contrast there 
is between the genius, the taste, the candour, 
the good-nature, the generosity, and modesty 
of Longinus, and the heaviness, the dulness, 
the snarling and sneering temper of modern 
critics, who can feast on inadvertent slips, 
and triumph over what they think a blunder. 
His very rules are shining examples of what 
they inculcate ; ///s remarks the very excel- 

or LONGINUS. 35 

lences he is pointing out. Theirs are often 
inversions of what is right, and sinking other 
men by clogging them with a weight of their 
own lead. He keeps the same majestic 
pace, or soars aloft with his authors ; thei/ 
are either creeping after, or plunging below 
them, fitted more by nature for heroes of a 
Dunciad, than for judges of fine sense and 
fine writing. The business of a critic is not 
only to find fault, nor to be all bitterness and 
gall. Yet such behaviour, in those who have 
usurped the name, has brought the office into 
scandal and contempt. An Essay on Criti- 
cism appears but once in an age ; and what 
a tedious interval is there between Longinus 
and Mr. Addison! - -u 

Having traced our Author thus far as a cri- 
tic, we must view him now in another light, 
I mean as a Philosopher. In him these are 
not different, but mutually depending and co- 
existing parts of the same character. To 
judge in a worthy manner of the performances 
of men, we must know the dignity of human 
nature, the reach of the human understand- 
ing, the ends for which we were created, and 
the means of their attainment. In these spe- 
culations Longinus will make no contempt- 


ible figure, and I hope the view will not ap- 
pear superfluous or useless. 
•^ Man cannot arrive to a just and proper un- 
^ derstanding of himself, without worthy no- 
tions of the Supreme Being. The sad depra- 
vations of the pagan world are chiefly to be 
attributed to a deficiency in this respect. 
Homer has exalted his heroes at the expense 
of his deities, and sunken the divine nature 
far below the human ; and therefore deserves 
that censure of blasphemy which Longinus 
has passed upon him. Had the poet designed 
to have turned the imaginary gods of his ido- 
latrous countrymen into ridicule, he could 
hardly have taken a better method. Yet what 
he has said has never been understood in that 
light ; and though the whole may be allego- 
rical, as his commentators would fain per- 
suade us, yet this will be no excuse for the 
malignancy of its effects on a superstitious 
world. The discourses of Socrates, and the 
writings of Plato, had in a great measure cor- 
rected the notions of inquisitive and thought- 
ful men in this particular, and caused the 
distinction of religion into vulgar and philoso- 
phical. By what Longinus has said of Ho- 
mer, it is plain to me, that his religion was 


of the latter sort. Though we allow him not 
to be a Christian or a Jewish convert, yet he 
was no idolater, since without a knowledge 
and reverence of the Divine perfections, he 
never could have formed his noble ideas of 
human nature. . f 

This life he considers as a public theatre, 
on which men are to act their parts. A thirst 
after glory, and an emulation of whatever is 
great and excellent, is implanted in their 
minds, to quicken their pursuits after real : 
grandeur, and to enable them to approach, 
as near as their finite abilities will admit, to 
Divinity itself. Upon these principles, he 
accounts for the vast stretch and penetration 
of the human understanding ; to these he 
ascribes the labours of men of genius ; and by 
the predominancy of them in their minds, 
ascertains the success of their attempts. In 
the same manner he accounts for that turn in 
the mind, which biasses us to admire more 
what is great and uncommon, than what is 
ordinary and familiar, however useful. There 
are other masterly reflections of this kind in 
the 33d and 34th Sections, which are only to 
be excelled by Mr. Addison's Essay on the 
Imagination. Whoever reads this part of 
Longinus, and that piece of Mr. Addison's ' 


with attention, will form notions of them both 
very much to their honour. 

Yet telling us we were born to pursue what 
is great, without informing us what is so, 
would avail but little. Longinus declares for a 
close and attentive examination of all things. 
Outsides and surfaces may be splendid and 
alluring, yet nothing be within deserving our 
applause. He that suffers himself to be daz- 
zled with a gay and gaudy appearance, will 
\ be betrayed into admiration of what the wise 
contemn ; his pursuits will be levelled at 
wealth, and power, and high rank in life, to 
■ the prejudice of his inward tranquillity, and 
^ perhaps the wreck of his virtue. The pa- 
geantry and pomp of life will be regarded by 
such a person as true honour and glory ; and 
he will neglect the nobler acquisitions, which 
are more suited to the dignity of his nature, 
which alone can give merit to ambition, and 
centre in solid and substantial grandeur. 

The mind is the source and standard of 
whatever can be considered as great and illus- 
trious in any light. From this our actions 
and our words must flow, and by this must 
they be weighed. We nmst think well, be- 
fore we can act or speak as we ought. And 
it is the inward vigour of the soul, though 


variously exerted, which forms the patriot, 
the philosopher, the orator, or the poet : this 
was the rise of an Alexander, a Socrates, a 
Demosthenes, and a Homer. Yet this in- 
ward vigour is chiefly owing to the bounty of 
nature, is cherished and improved by educa- 
tion, but cannot reach maturity without other 
concurrent causes, such as public liberty, 
and the strictest practice of virtue. 

That the seeds of a great genius in any 
kind must be implanted within, and cherished 
and improved by education, are points in 
which the whole world agrees. But the im- 
portance of liberty in bringing it to perfec- 
tion, may perhaps be more liable to debate. 
Longinus is clear on the affirmative side. He 
speaks feelingly, but with caution about it, 
because tyranny and oppression were tri- 
umphant at the time he wrote. 

He avers, with a spirit of generous indig- -^ 
nation, that slavery is the confinement of the , 
soul, and a public dungeon. =>*= On this he ""^ 
charges the suppression of genius and decay ( \ 
of the sublime. The condition of man is de- 
plorable, when he dares not exert his abili- 
ties, and runs into imminent danger by say- 

* Sect. xliv. ^ ' - ■ •'" '" . 



ing or doing what he ought. Tyranny, erect- 
ed on the ruins of liberty, lays an immediate 
restraint on the minds of vassals, so that the 
inborn fire of genius is quickly damped, and 
suffers at last a total extinction. This must 
always be a necessary consequence, when 
what ouo^ht to be the reward of an honour- 
able ambition becomes the prey of knaves 
and flatterers. But the infection gradually 
spreads, and fear and avarice will bend those 
to it, whom nature formed for higher employ- 
ments, and sink lofty orators into pompous 
flatterers. The truth of this remark will 
easily appear, if we compare Cicero speak- 
ing to Catiline, to the same Cicero pleading 
before Caesar for Marcellus. That spirit of 
adulation, which prevailed so much in Eng- 
land about a century ago, lowered one of the 
greatest geniuses that ever lived, and turned 
even the Lord Bacon into a sycophant. And 
this will be the case wherever power en- 
croaches on the rights of mankind : a servile 
fear will clog and fetter every rising genius, 
will strike such an awe upon it in its tender 
and infant state, as will stick for ever after, 
and check its generous sallies. No one will 
write or speak well in such a situation, unless 
^on subjects of mere amusement, and which 


cannot, by any indirect tendency, affect his 
masters. For how shall the vassal dare to 
talk sublimely on any point wherein his lord 
acts meanly ? 

But further, as despotic and unbridled 
power is generally obtained, so it is as often 
supported by unjustifiable methods. The 
splendid and ostentatious pageantry of those 
at the helm, gives rise to luxury and profuse- 
ness among the subjects. These are the fatal 
sources of dissolute manners, of degenerate 
sentiments, of infamy and want. As plea- 
sure is supplied by money, no method, how- 
ever mean, is omitted to procure the latter, 
because it leads to the enjoyment of the for- 
mer. Men become corrupt and abject, their 
minds are enervated and insensible to shame. 
" The faculties of the soul (in the words of 
Longinus) * will then grow stupid, their spirit • 
will be lost, and good sense and genius must \ 
lay in ruins, when the care and study of man \| 
is engaged about the mortal, the worthless j 
part of himself, and he has ceased to cultivate 
virtue, and polish his nobler part, the soul.'' 

The scope of our Author's reflections in the 
latter part of the Section is this ; that genius 

* Sect. xliv. 


can never exert itself, or rise to sublimity, 
where virtue is neglected, and the morals are 
depraved. Cicero was of the same opinion 
before him, and Quinctilian has a whole 
chapter to prove that the great orator must 
be a good man. Men of the finest genius, 
who have hitherto appeared in the world, 
have been for the most part not very de- 
fective in their morals, and less in their prin- 
ciples. I am sensible there are exceptions 
to this observation, but little to the credit of 
the persons, since their works become the se- 
verest satires on themselves, and the manifest 
opposition between their thought and prac- 
tice detracts its weight from the one, and 
marks out the other for public abhorrence. 

An inward grandeur of soul is the common 
centre, from whence every ray of sublimity, 
either in thought, or action, or discourse, is 
darted out. For all minds are no more of the 
same complexion, than all bodies of the same 
texture. In the latter case, our eyes would 
meet only with the same uniformity of colour 
in every object : in the former, we should be 
all orators or poets, all philosophers, or all 
blockheads. This would break in upon that 
beautiful and useful variety, with which the 
Author of nature has adorned the rational as 


well as the material creation. There is in 
every mind a tendency, though perhaps dif- 
ferently inclined, to what is great and excel- 
lent. Happy they, who know their own pe- 
culiar bent, who have been blessed with op- 
portunities of giving it the proper culture 
and polish, and are not cramped or restrained 
in the liberty of shewing and declaring it to 
others ! There are many fortunate concur- 
rences, without which we cannot attain to any 
quickness of taste or rehsh for the Sublime. 
I hope what has been said will not be 
thought an improper introduction to the fol- 
lowing Treatise, in which (unless I am de- 
ceived) there is a just foundation for every re- 
mark that has been made. The Author ap- 
pears sublime in every view, not only in 
what he has written, but in the manner in 
which he acted, and the bravery with which 
he died ; by all acknowledged the Prince of 
Critics, and by no worse judge than Boileau 
esteemed a philosopher, worthy to be ranked 
with Socrates and Cato. 

;',' J:'.'i. 

I) 2! 




You remember, my dear ^Terentianus, 
that when we read over together ^ Cecihus's 
Treatise on the Sublime, we thought it too 
mean for a subject of that nature, that it is 
entirely defective in its principal branches, 
and that consequently its advantage (which 
ought to be the principal aim of ever}" writer) 

1 Who this Terentiauus, or Posthumius Terentianus, was, 
to whom the Author addresses this Treatise, is not possible to 
be discovered, nor is it of any great importance. But it ap- 
pears, from some passages in the sequel of this work, that he 
was a young Roman, a person of a bright genius, an elegant 
taste, and a particular friend to Longinus. What he says of 
him, I am confident, was spoken witli sincerity more than 
complaisance, since Longinus must have disdained to flatter, 
like a modern dedicator. 

^ Cecilius was a Sicilian rhetorician. He lived under 
Augustus, and was cotemporary with Dionysius of Halicar- 
nassus, with whom he contracted a very close friendship. He 
is thought to have been the first who wrote on the Sublime. 


would prove very small to the readers. Be- 
sides, though in every treatise upon any sci- 
ence two points are indispensably required ; 
the first, that the science, which is the subject 
of it, be fully explained ; the second (I mean 
in order of writing, since in excellence it is 
far the superior), that plain directions be 
given, how and by what method such science 
may be attained ; yet Cecilius, who brings a 
thousand instances to shew what the Sublime 
is, as if his readers were Avholly ignorant of 
the matter, has omitted, as altogether umie- 
cessary, the method which, judiciously ob- 
served, might enable us to raise our natural 
genius to any height of this Sublime. But, 
perhaps, this writer is not so much to be 
blamed for his omissions, as commended for 
his good designs and earnest endeavours. 
You indeed have laid your commands upon 
me, to give you my thoughts on this Sub- 
lime; let us then, in obedience to those com- 
mands, consider whether any thing can be 
drawn from my private studies, for the ser- 
vice of ^ those who write for the w^orld, or 
speak in pubUc. , . 

^ " Those who write for the world, or speak in public."] I 
take all this to be implied in the original word Tru\i-it:oiv. 


- !But I request you, tny dear friend, to give 
m<b jour opinion on whatever I advance, with 
that exactness, which is due to truth, and 
that sincerity which is natural to yourselfi 
For well did the * sage answer the question, 
" In what do we most resemble the gods?" 
when he replied, " In doing good and speak- 
ing truth/' But since I write, my dear 
friend, to you, who are versed in every 
branch of polite learning, there will be little 
occasion to use many previous words in prov- 

V ing, that the Sublime is a certain eminence 
or perfection of language, and that the great- 
est writers, both in verse and prose, have by 
this alone obtained the prize of glory, and 
filled all time with their renown. For the 
Sublime not only persuades, but even throws 

^ an audience into transport. The Marvellous 
always works with more surprising force than 
that which barely persuades or delights. In 

^ most cases, it is wholly in our own power 
either to resist or yield to persuasion. But 
the Sublime, endued with strength irresisti- 
' ble, strikes home, and triumphs over every 
hearer. Dexterity of invention, and good 
order and economy in composition, are not to 

* Pythagoras. 


be discerned from one or two passages, nor 
scarcely sometimes from the whole texture of 
a discourse ; but ^ the Sublime, when season- 
ably addressed, with the rapid force of light- 
ning has borne down all before it, and shewn 
at one stroke the compacted might of genius. 
But these, and truths like these, so well 
known and familiar to himself, I am confi- 
dent my dear Terentianus can undeniably 
prove by his own practice. 

* " The Sublime, when seasonably addressed," &c.] This 
sentence is inimitably fine in the original. Dr. Pearce has an 
ingenious observation upon it. " It is not easy (says he) to 
determine, whether the precepts of Longinus, or his example, 
be most to be observed and followed in the course of this 
work, since his style is possessed of all the sublimity of his 
subject. Accordingly, in this passage, to express the power 
of the Sublime, he has made use of his words, with all the art 
and propriety imaginable. Another writer would have said 
^lacpopfi and eyleiKi'vrai^hut this had been too dull and languid. 
Our Author uses the preterperfect tense, the better to express 
the power and rapidity with which sublimity of discourse 
strikes the minds of its hearers. It is like lightning (says our 
Author) because you can no more look upon this, when pre- 
sent, than you can upon the flash of that. Besides, the struc- 
ture of the words in the close of the sentence is admirable. 
They run along, and are hurried in the celerity of short 
vowels. They represent to the life the rapid motion either of 
lightning, or the Sublime." 



But we ought not to advance, before we 
clear the point, whether or no there be any 
art in the Subhme.^ For some are entirely 
of opinion, that they are guilty of a great 
mistake, who would reduce it to the rules of 
^ art. " The Sublime (say they) is born within 
us, and is not to be learned by precept. The 
only art to reach it, is, to have the power 
from nature. And (as they reason) those ef- 
fects, which should be purely natural, are 

^ In all the editions is added ?; fiaQovQ, or the profound : a 
perplexing expression, and which perhaps gave rise to a trea- 
tise on the Bathos. It was purposely omitted in the transla- 
tion, for this plain substantial reason, because I could not 
make sense of it. I have since been favoured ^vith a sight of 
the learned Dr. Tonstal's conjectural emendations on this 
Author, and liere for fiadovg he readeth li-aOovQ. The minute 
alteration of a single letter enlightens and clears the whole 
passage : the context, the whole tenor of the piece, justifies 
the emendation. 1 beg leave therefore to give the following 
new version of the passage : — " Butwe ou^ht not to advance, 
before we clear the point, whether or no there be any art in 
the Sublime or the Pathetic. Tor some are entirely of opinion, 
that they are guilty of a great mistake, who would reduce them 
to the rules of art. These high attainments (say they) are 
lioin within u.s, and are nut to be learned by precept: the only 
art to reach ihcni, is to have the })o\vcr from nature." 


dispirited and weakened by the dry impover- ^, 
ishing rules of art." 

But I maintain, that the contrary might 
easily appear, would they only reflect that — 
^ though nature for the most part challenges 
a sovereign and uncontrollable power in the 
Pathetic and Sublime, yet she is not altoge- 

^ Tliese observations of Lotiginus, and the following lines 
of Mr. Pope, are a very proper illustration for one another: 

First follow nature, and your judgment frame ' , 

By her just standard, which is still the same: 
Unerring nature, still divinely bright, 
One clear, unchang'd, and universal light, ' i ;a':-i.; 

Life, force, and beauty must to all imj^art, ; [ j r, j » j - 

At once the source, and end, and test of art. - - j 

Art from Uiat fund each just supply provides. 
Works without show, and without pomp presides : ' ' ^■ 
In some fair body thus the secret soul .'.j;;'> V^: 

With spirits feeds, with vigour lills the whole; '.•,,■ 

liach motion guides, and every nerve sustains, 
Itself unseen, but in th' effect remains. 
There are, whom Ileav'n has bless'd with store of wit. 
Yet want as much again to manage it ; ' 

For wit and judgment ever are at strife, : , . 

Thou2;h meant each other's aid, like man and wife. '•'■■' 
'Tis more to guide, than spur the muse's steed. 
Restrain his fury, than provoke his speed ; 
The winged courser, like a generous horse, ^^ ■'' '' 
Shews most true mettle when you check his course. j 
' : , •• ;, ; , ;? . / \ ^ r £ssin/ on Ci iiuism. 


/ ther lawless, but delights in a proper regula- 
tion. That again — though she is the founda- 
tion, and even the source of all degrees of the 
Sublime, yet that method is able to point out 
in the clearest manner the peculiar tendencies 
of each, and to mark the proper seasons in 
which they ought to be enforced and applied. 
And further — that flights of grandeur^are 
then in the utmost danger, when left at ran- 
dom to themselves, having no ballast proper- 
ly to poise, no hehu to guide their course, 
but cumbered with their own weight, and 
^ bold without discretion. Genius may some- 
^ times want the spur, but it stands as fre- 
quently in need of the curb. 

Demosthenes somewhere judiciously ob- 
serves, " That in common life success is the 
greatest good ; that the next, and no less im- 
portant, is conduct, without which the other 
must be unavoidably of short continuance.'^ 
Now the same may be asserted of Composi- 
tion, where nature will supply the place of 
success, and art the place of conduct. 

But further, there is one thing which de- 
serves particular attention. For though it 
must be owned, that there is a force in elo- 
(juence, which depends not upon, nor can be 
learned by, rule, yet even this could not be 


known without that hght which we receive 
from art. If, therefore, as I said before, he 
who condemns such Avorks as this in which I 
am now engaged, would attend to these re- 
flections, I have very good reason to beheve 
he would no longer think any undertaking of 
this nature superfluous or useless. > > - • 'i 


Let them the chimney's flashing flames repel. 
Could but these eyes one lurking wretch arrest, 
I'd whirl aloft one streaming curl of flame, 
And into embers turn his crackling dome. > ^ J; 
But now a generous song I have not sounded. 

Streaming curls of flame, spewing against 
heaven, and ^ making Boreas a piper, with 

^ Here is a great defect ; but it is evident that the Author is 
treating of those imperfections which are opposite to the true 
Sublime, and among those, of extravagant swelling or bom- 
bast, an example of which he produces fr6m some old tragic 
poet, none of whose lines, except these here quoted, and some 
expressions below, remain at present. 

* " Making Boreas a piper "'\ Shakespeare has fallen into 
the same kind of bombast : 

the southern wind 

Doth play the trumpet to hi? purposes. 

Firi^t Part of Henri/ IF. 


such-like expressions, are not tragical, but 
super-tragical. For those forced and unna- 
tural images corrupt and debase the style, 
and cannot possibly adorn or raise it ; and 
whenever carefully examined in the light, 
their show of being terrible gradually disap- 
pears, and they become contemptible and ri- 
diculous. Tragedy will indeed by its nature 
admit of some pompous and magnificent 
swellings, yet even in tragedy it is an unpar- 
donable offence to soar too high; much less 
allowable must it therefore be in prose-writ- 
ino-, or those Avorks which are founded in 
truth. Upon this account some expressions 
of ^ Gorgias the Leon tine are highly ridiculed, 

^ Gorgias the Leontine, or of Leontium, was a Sicilian 
rhetorician, and father of the Sophists. He was in snch uni- 
versal esteem throughout Greece, that a statue was erected to 
his lionour in the temple of Apollo at Delphos, of sohd gold, 
though liie custom had been only to gild them. His styling 
Xerxes the Persian Jupiter, it is thought, may be defended 
from the custom of the Persians to salute their monarch by 
that high title. Calling vultures living sepulchres, has been 
more severely censured by Hermogenes than Longinus. The 
authors of such quaint expressions (as he says) deserve them- 
selves to be buried in such tombs. It is certain that writers 
of great reputation have used allusions of the same nature. 
Dr. Pearce has produced instances from Ovid, and even from 
Ciccio ; and observed further, that Gregory Nazianzcn has 


who styles Xerxes the Persian Jupiter, and 
calls vultures Uving sepulchres. Some expres- 
sions of ^Callisthenes deserve the same treat- 
ment, for they shine not like stars, but glare 
like meteors. And ^ Chtarchus comes under 
this censure still more, who blusters indeed, 
and blows, as Sophocles expresses it, 

Loud sounding blasts not sweetened by the stop. • .'' 

^ Amphicrates, ^ Hegesias, and ^ Matris, 

styled those wild beasts that devour men, runnwg sepulcin cs. 
However, at best they are but conceits, with which little wits 
in all ages will be delighted, the great may accidentally slip 
into, and such as men of true judgment may overlook, but will 
hardly commend. • •. ; n % ■':■■ 

* Callisthenes succeeded Aristotle in the tuition of Alexan- 
der the Great, and wrote a history of the affairs of Greece. 

^ Clitarchus wrote an account of the exploits of Alexander 
the Great, having attended him in his expeditions. Deme- 
trius Phalereus, in his treatise on Elocution, has censured his 
swelling description of a wasp. " It feeds (says he) upon 
the mountains, and flies into hollow oaks." It seems as if he 
was speaking of a wild bull, or the boar of Erymanthus, and 
not of such a piriful creature as a wasp. And for this reason, 
says Demetrius, the description is cold and disagreeable. 

^ Amphicrates was an Athenian orator. Being banished 
to Seleucia, and requested to set up a school there, he replied, 
with arrogance and disdain, that " The dish was not luge 
enough for dolphins." Dr. Pearce. 

"^ Hegesias was a Magnesian. Cicero, in his Orator, c. 
226, says humorously of him, " He is faidty no less in his 


niaj all be taxed with the same imperfections. 
For often, when, in their own opinion, they 
are all Divine, what they imagine to be god- 
like spirit, proves empty simple froth .^ 

Bombast however is amongst those faults 
which are most difficult to be avoided. All 

thoughts than his expressions, so that no one who has any 
knowledge of him need ever be at a loss for a man to call im- 
pertinent." One of his frigid expressions is still remaining. 
Alexander was born the same night that the temple of Diana 
at Ephesus, the finest edifice in the world, was by a terrible 
fire reduced to ashes. Hegesias, in a panegyrical declamation 
on Alexander the Great, attempted thus to turn that accident 
to his honour: *' No wonder (said he) that Diana's temple 
was consumed by so terrible a conflagration : the goddess was 
so taken up in assisting at Olinthia's delivery of Alexander, 
that she had no leisure to extinguish the flames which were 
destroying her temple." " The coldness of this expression 
(says Plutarch in Alex.) is so excessively great, that it seems 
sufticient of itself to have extinguished the fire of the temple." 

I wonder Plutarch, who has given so little quarter to He- 
gesias, has himself escaped censure, till Dr. Pearce took cog- 
nizance of him. " Dulness (says he) is sometimes infectious ; 
for while Plutarch is censuring Hegesias, he falls into his very 

^ Who ^Nlatris was 1 cannot find, but commentators observe 
from Athenagus, that he wrote in prose an Encomium upon 

9 Vid. Cic. I. 4. Rhetoricorum, p. 97. ed. Delph. vol. 1. 
What is said there about the Suffiata constructio verborum, 
agrees very exactly with Longinus's sense of the bombast. 


men are naturally biassed to aim at grandeur. ^ 
Hence it is, that by shunning with the ut- 
most diligence the censure of impotence and 
phlegm, they are hurried into the contrary ' 
exjreme. They are mindful of the maxim, that 

In great attempts 'tis glorious ev'n to fall. 

i- ■■','/■■ 

But tumours in writing, as well as in the hu- 
man body, are certain disorders. Empty and 
veiled over with superficial bigness, they only 
delude, and work effects contrary to those 
for which they were designed. " Nothing," 
according to the old saying, " is drier than a 
person distempered with a dropsy."' . •' 

Now the only failure in this swoln and 
puffed-up style is, that it endeavours to go 
beyond the true Sublime, whereas Puerilities 
are directly o|)posite to it. They are low and 
grovelling, meanly and faintly expressed, and 
in a word are the most ungenerous and 
unpardonable errors that an author can be 
guilty of. 

But what do we mean by a Puerility ? 
Why, it is certainly no more than a school- 
boy's thought, which, by too eager a pursuit 
of elegance, becomes dry and insipid. And 
those persons commonly fail in this particular^ ' 


who, by an ill-managed zeal for a neat, cor- 
rect, and, above all, a sweet style, are burned 
into low turns of expression, into a heavy and 
^ nauseous affectation. 

To these may be added a third sort of im- 
perfection in the Pathetic, which ^^Theodo- 
Rus has named the Parenthyrse, or an ill- 
/ timed emotion. It is an unnecessary attempt -, 
/ to work upon the passions, where there is no 
\ need of a Pathos ; or some excess, where mo- 
deration is requisite. For several authors, of 
no sober understandings, are excessively fond 
^ of passionate expressions, which bear no rela- 
tion at all to their subject, but are whims of 
their own, or borrowed from the schools. The 
consequence is, they meet with nothing but 
contempt and derision from their unaffected 
audience. And it is what they deserve, since 
they force themselves into transport and emo- 
tion, whilst their audience is calm, sedate, 
and unmoved. But I must reserve the Pa- 
thetic for another place. 

^° Theodorus is ihouglit to have been born at Gaclara, and 
to have taught at Rhodes. Tiberius Ctesar, according to 
Quinclilian, is reported to have heard him with apphcation, 
during his retirement in that island. — Langbahie. 



^TiMiEus abounds very much in the Fri- 
gicl> the other vice of which I am speaking; 
a writer, it is true, sufficiently skilled in 
other points, and who sometimes reaches the 
genuine Sublime. He was indeed a person 
of a ready invention, polite learning, and a 
great fertility and strength of thought. But 
these qualifications are, in a great measure, 
clouded by the propensity he has to blazon 
the imperfections of others, and a wilful blind- 
ness in regard to his own ; though a fond de- 
sire of new thou2;hts and uncommon turns 
has often plunged him into shameful Puerili- 
ties. The truth of these assertions I shall 
confirm by one or two instances alone, since 
Cecilius has already given us a larger number. 

When he commends Alexander the Great, 
he tells us, ** that he conquered all Asia in 

* Timffius was a Sicilian historian. Cicero has sketched a 
short character of him in his Orator, /. 2. c. 14. whicli agrees 
very well with the favourable part of that which is drawn in 
this Section. But Longinus takes notice further of his severity 
to others, which even drew upon him the surname of Epi- 
timaeus, from the Greek eniTifii^ci', because he was continually 
chiding and finding fault. 


fewer years than Isocrates was composing his 
Panegyric/' A wonderful parallel indeed, be- 
tween the conqueror of the world and a profes- 
sor of rhetoric ! By your method of compu- 
tation, Timaeus, the Lacedemonians fall vast- 
ly short of Isocrates, in expedition; for they 
spent thirty years in the siege of Messene, he 
only ten in writing that Panegyric ! 

But how does he inveigh against those 
Athenians who were made prisoners after the 
defeat in Sicily! " Guilty (says he) of sacri- 
lege against Hermes, and having defaced his 
images, they were now severely punished ; 
and what is somewhat extraordinary, by Her- 
mocrates the son of Hermon, who was pater- 
nally descended from the injured deity/' Re- 
ally, my Terentianus, I am surprised that 
he has not passed the same censure on Diony- 
sius the tyrant ; " who, for his heinous impiety 
towards Jupiter (or Dia) and Hercules (He- 
raclea), was dethroned by Dion and Ilera- 

Why should I dwell any longer upon Ti- 
maeus, when even the very heroes of good 
writing, Xenophon and Plato, though edu- 
cated in the school of Socrates, sometimes 
forget themselves, and transgress through an 
affectation of such pretty flourishes ? The 


former, in his Polity of the Lacedemonians, 
speaks thus : " They observe an uninterrupt- 
ed silence, and keep their eyes as fixed and 
unmoved, as if they were so many statues of 
stone or brass. You mio;ht with reason think 
them more modest ^ than the ^ virgins in their 
eyes." Am phi crates might, perhaps, be al- 
lowed to use the term of modest tirgins for 
the impils of the eye; but what an indecency 
is it in the great Xenophon ? And what a 

2 " Than the virgins in their eyes."] Xenophon, in this 
passage, is shewing the care which that excellent la\\giver 
Lycurgu? took to accustom the Spartan youth to a grave and 
modest behaviour. He enjoined them, whenever they appeared 
in pubUc, " to cover their arms with their gown, to walk 
silently, to keep their eyes from wandering, by looking always 
directly before them." Hence it was, that they differed from 
statues only in their motion. But undoubtedly that turn upon 
the word Kopn, here blamed by Longinus, M'ould be a great 
blemish to this fnie piece, if it were justly chargeable on the 
author. But Longinus must needs have made use of a very 
incorrect copy, which, by an unpardonable blunder, had tv 
Toig o(/j0aX/iO(c instead of ev tolq ^aXafiotg^ as it stands now in 
the best editions, particularly that at Paris by H. Stephens. 
This quite removes the cold and insipid turn, and restores a 
sense which is worthy of Xenophon : " You would think 
them more modest in their whole behaviour, than virgins in 
the bridal bed." 

^ The word Kop>;, signifying both a virgin and the pupil of 
the eye, has given occasion for these cold insipid turns. 

E 2 


strange persuasion, that the pupils of the eye 
should be in general the seats of modesty^ 
when impudence is no where more visible 
than in the eyes of some? Homer, for in- 
stance, calls a person, 

Drunkard ! thou dog in eye ! * 

-ii. '_-: * 

Timaeus, as if he had found a treasure^ could 
not pass by this insipid turn of Xenophon 
without imitation. Accordingly he speaks 
thus of Agathocles : " He ravished his own 
cousin, though married to another person, and 
on "* the very day when she was first seen by 
her husband without a veil ; a crime, of which 
none but he who had prostitutes, not virgins, 
in his eyes, coukl be guilty/' Neither is the 
divine Plato to be acquitted of this failure, 
when he says, for instance ; " After they are 

* Iliad. 1. 1. V. 225. 

* " The very day when — a veil."] All this is implied in the 
word apaKa\virrt]piu)v . It was the custom throughout Greece, 
and the Grecian colonies, for the unmarried women never to 
appear in public, or to converse with men, without a veil. 
The second or third day after marriage, it was usual for the 
bridegroom to make presents to his bride, which were called 
at'UKuXvTrrripM, for then she immediately unveiled, and liberty 
was giveu him to converse freely with her ever after. 

.?; See Potto's Antiquities, v. ii. p. 294-5. 


written, they deposit in the temples these cy- 
press memorials/'* And in another passage ; 
" As to the walls, Megillus, I join in the opi- 
nion of Sparta, to let them sleep supine on the 
earth, and not to rouse them up/'-f Neither 
does an expression of Herodotus fall short of 
it,^ when he calls beautiful women, " the pains 
of the eye/'J Though this indeed may admit 
of some excuse, since in his history it is spoken 
by drunken barbarians. But neither in such 
a case, is it prudent to hazard the censure of 
posterity, rather than pass oyer a pretty con- 

SECTION V. ' "';'': 

All these and such-like indecencies in 
composition take their rise from the same ori- 

* Plato 5. Legum. + Plato 6. Legum. 

^ " When he calls — of the eye."] The critics are strangely 
divided about the justice of this remark. Authorities are urged, 
and parallel expressions quoted on both sides. Longinus 
blames it, but afterwards candidly alleges the only plea 
which can be urged in its favour, that it was said by drunken 
barbarians. And who, but such sots, would have giren the 
most delightful objects in nature so rude and uncivil an appel- 
lation ? 1 appeal to the ladies for the propriety of this ob- 
servation. ' ■ . ,' ' ■■ • ■ h •-- 

I Herod. Terpsichore, c. 18. •. , •,' 


ginal ; I mean that eager pursuit of uncom^ 
mon turns of thought, which almost infatu- '^ 
ates the writers of the present age. For our 
excellences and defects flow almost from the 
same common source. So that those correct 
and elegant, those pompous and beautiful ex- 
pressions, of which good writing chiefly con- 
sists, are frequently so distorted as to become 
the unlucky causes and foundations of oppo- 
site blemishes. This is manifest in hyperboles 
and plurals ; but the danger attending an in- 
judicious use of these figures, I shall discover 
in the sequel of this work. At present it is 
incumbent upon me to inquire, by what . 
means we may be enabled to avoid those 
vices, which border so near upon, and are so 
easilv blended with, the true Sublime. 


Tins indeed may be easily learned, if we 
can gain a thorough insight and penetration 
into the nature of the true Sublime, which, to 
speak truly, is by no means an easy, or a 
ready acquisition. To pass a right judgment 
upon composition is generally the effect of a 


long experience, and the last improvement of 
study and observation. But however, to speak 
in the way of encouragement, a more _expe- 
ditious method to form om' taste, may per- 
haps, by the assistance of Rules, be success- 
fully attempted. 


You cannot be ignorant, my dearest friend, 
that in common life there is nothing great, a 
contempt of which shews a greatness of soul. 
So riches, honours, titles, crowns, and what- 
ever is veiled over with a theatrical splendour, 
and a gaudy outside, can never be regarded 
as intrinsically good, in the opinion of a wise 
man, since by despising such things no little 
glory is acquired. For the persons who have.^ 
ability sufficient to acquire, but through anf 
inward generosity scorn such acquisitions, are|_ 
more admired than those who actually pos-J 
sess them. 

In the same manner we must judge of what-f 
ever looks great both in poetry and prose. \ 
We must carefully examine whether it be not 
only appearance. - We must divest it of all 


superficial pomp and garnish. If it cannot 
stand this trial, without doubt it is only swell- 
ed and puffed up, and it will be more for our 
honour to contemn than to admire it. ^ For 
the mind is naturally elevated by the true 
Sublime, and so sensibly affected with its live- 
ly strokes, that it swells in transport and an 
inward pride, as if what was only heard had 
been the product of its own invention. 

He therefore who has a competent share of 
natural and acquired taste, may easily dis- 
cover the value of any performance from a 
bare recital of it. If he finds that it trans- 
ports not his soul, nor exalts his thoughts ; 
that it calls not up into his mind ideas more 
enlarged than what the mere sounds of the 
words convey, but on attentive examination 
its dignity lessens and declines ; he may con- 
clude, that whatever pierces no deeper than 
the cars, can never be the true Sublime. ^That 

^ It IS remarked in the notes to Boileau's translation, that 
the great Prince of Contie, upon hearing this passage, cried 
out, Foila le Sublime ! voi/d son veritable caraclere! 

* " This is a very fine description of the Sublime, and 
finer still, because it is very sublime itself. But it is only a 
description ; and it does not appear that Longinus intended, 
any where in this Treatise, to give an exact definition of it. 
The reason is, because he wrote after Cecilius, who (as he 


on the contrary is grand and lofty, which the 
more we consider, the greater ideas we con- 
ceive of it; whose force we cannot possibly 
withstand ; which immediately sinks deep, 
and makes such impressions on the mind as 

tells us) had employed all his book, in defining and shewing 
M'hat the Sublime is. But since this book of Cecilius is lost, 
I believe it will not be amiss to venture here a detinition of it 
my own way, which may give at least an imperfect idea of it. 
This is the manner in which I think it may be defined. The 
Sublime is a certain force in discourse, proper to elevate and 
ti ansport the soul ; and which proceeds either from grandeur 
of thought and nobleness of sentiment, or from magnificence 
of words, or an harmonious, lively, and animated turn of ex- 
pression ; that is to say, from any one of these particulars re- 
garded separately, or, what makes the perfect Sublime, from 
these three particulars joined together." 

Thus far are Boileau's own words in his twelfth reflection on 
Longinus, w here, to illustrate the preceding definition, he sub- 
joins an example from Racine's Athalie, or Abner, of these 
three particular qualificationsof sublimity joined together. One 
of the principal ofiRcers of the court of Judah represents to 
Jehoiada, the high-priest, the excessive rage of Athaliah against 
him and all the Levites ; adding, that, in his opinion, the 
haughty Princess would in a short time come and attack God 
even in his sanctuary. To this the high-priest, not in the least 
moved, answers; 

Celui qui met un frein a la fureur des flots, 

Sait aussi des mechans arreter les complots, ' 

Soumis avec respect a sa volonte sainlc, 

«le crains Dieu, cher Abuer, etn'ai point d'autre crainte. 


cannot be easily worn out or effaced. In a 
, word, you may pronounce that sublime, beau- 
s^^tiful, and genuine, which always pleases, and 
takes equally with all sorts of men. For when 
persons of different humours, ages, profes- 
sions, and inclinations, agree in the same joint 
approbation of any performance; then this 
union of assent, this combination of so many 
different judgments, stamps a high and in- 
disputable value on that performance, which 
meets with such general applause. 


There are, if I may so express it, fiv^e very 
copious sources of the Sublime, if we presup- 
pose an abihty of speaking well, as a com- 
mon foundation for these .fite sorts, and in- 
deed without it, an}^ thing besides \vin avail 
but little. _ „ 

I. The Jirst and most excellent of these is 
a boldness and grandeur in the Thoughts, as 
I have shewn in my Essay on Xenophon. 
• 11. The second is called the Pathetic, or 
the power of raising the passions to a violent 
and even enthusiastic degree; and these two 
being genuine constituents of the Sublime, 


are the gifts of nature, whereas the other 
sorts depend in some measure upon art. 
-^ III. The third consists in a skilful applica- 
tion of Figures, which are twofold, of senti- 
ment and language. 

- IV. The fourth is a noble and graceful 
manner of Expression, which is not only to 
choose out significant and elegant words, but 
also to adorn and embellish the style, by the 
assistance of Tropes. 

-V. The Jifth source of the Sublime, which 
completes all the preceding, is the Structure 
or composition of all the periods, in all possi- 
ble dignity and grandeur. 

I proceed next to consider each of these 
sources apart ; but nuist first observe, that, 
of the Jive, Cecilius has wholly omitted the 
Pathetic. Now, if he looked upon the Grand 
and Pathetic as including one another, and 
in effect the same, he was under a mistake. 
For ^ some passions are vastly distant from 

^ " Some passions are vastly distant," 8cc,] The pathe- 
tic without grandeur is preferable to that which is great with- 
out passion. Whenever both unite, the passage will be ex- 
cellent ; and there is more of this in the book of Job, than in 
any other composition in the world. Longinus has here quoted 
a fine instance of the latter from Homer, but has produced 
none of the former, or the pathetic without grandeur. i 


grandeur, and are in themselves of a low de- 
gree ; as lamentation, sorrow, fear ; and on 

/ When a writer applies to the more tender passions of love 
and pity, when a speaker endeavours to engage our affections, 
or gain our esteem, he may succeed well, though there be 
nothing grand in what he says. Nay, grandeur would some- 
times be unseasonable iu such cases, as it strikes always at the 

There is a deal of this sort of Pathetic in the words of our 
Saviour to the poor Jews, who were imposed upon and de-" 
hided into fatal errors by the Scribes and Pharisees, mIio had 
long been guiUy of the heaviest oppression on the minds of 
the people : (Matt. xi. 28 — 30.) " Come unto me, all ye that 
labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take 
my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly 
in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my 
yoke is easy, and my burden is light." 

So r.gain in Matt, xxiii. 37. after taking notice of the cruel- 
ties, inhumanities, and murders, which the Jewish nation had 
been guilty of towards those who had exhorted them to repent- 
ance, or would have recalled them from their blindness and 
superstition to the practice of real religion and virtue, he on a 
sudden breaks off with, 

" O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, 
and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would 
1 have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth 
her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" 

The expression here is vulgar and common, the allusion 
to the hen taken from an object which is daily before our eyes, 
and yet there is as much tenderness and significance in it as 
can any where be foiuid in the same compass. 

1 beg leave to observe farther, that there is a coulinuei;! straia 


the contrary, ^ there are many things grand 
and lofty without any passion ; as, among a 
thousand instances, we may see, from what 
^the poet has said, w^ith so much boldness, of 
the Aloides :* 

* to raise 

Huge Ossa on Olympus' top they strove, ' 

And place on Ossa Pelion with its grove ; 

That heaven itself, thus climb'd, might be assail'd. -f. \ 

But the boldness of what he afterwards 
adds is yet greater : 

Nor would success their bold attempts have fail'd, 8tc. 

of this sort of Pathetic in St. Paul's farewell speech to the 
Ephesian elders in Acts xx. What an effect it had upon his 
audience is plain from ver. 36 — 38. It is scarcely possible to 
read it seriously without tears. 

^ The first book of Paradise Lost is a continued instance of 
Sublimity without Passion. The descriptions of Satan and 
the other fallen angels aro very grand, but terrible. They do 
not so much exalt as terrify the imagination. See Mr. Ad- 
dison's observations, Spectator, No. 339- 

^ " The poet."] Longinus, as well as many other writers, 
frequently styles Homer in an eminent manner, the poet, as 
if none but he had deserved that tide. 

* Odyss. X. V. 314. r 

■* Milton has equalled, if not excelled, these bold lines of 
Homer in his fight of angels. See Mr. Addison's fine ob- 
servations upon it, Spectator, No. 333. i 


Among the orators, all panegyrics, and ora- 
tions composed for pomp and show, may be 
grand throughout, but yet are for the most 
part void of passion. So that those orators, 
who excel in the Pathetic, scarcely ever suc- 
ceed as panegyrists; and those whose talents 
lie chiefly at Panegyric, are very seldom able 

> - to affect the passions. But, on the other 
hand, if Cecilius was of opinion, that the Pa- 
thetic did not contribute to the Sublime, and 
on that account judged it not worth his men- 
tion, he is guilty of an unpardonable error. 

y For I confidently aver, that nothing so much 
raises discourse, as a fine pathos seasonably 
applied. It animates a whole performance 
with uncommon life and spirit, and gives mere 
words the force (as it^ were) of inspiration. 



But though the first and most important 
of these divisions, I mean. Elevation of 
Thought, be rather a natural than an acquired 
qualification, yet wc ought to spare no pains 


to educate our souls to grandeur, and impreg- 
nate them with generous and enlarged ideas. 
" But how/' it will be asked, " can this be 
done?'' Why, I have hinted in another place, 
that the Sublime is an image i"eflected from 
the inward greatness of the soul. Hence it 
comes to pass, that a naked thought without 
words challenges admiration, and strikes by 
its grandeur. Such is ^ the silence of Ajax 

^ " The silence of Ajax," &c.] Dido in Virgil behaves 
with the same greatness and majesty as Homer's Ajax. He 
disdains the conversation of the man, who, to his tliinking, had 
injuriously defrauded him of the arms of Achilles ; and she 
scorns to hold conference with him, who, in her own opinion, 
had basely forsaken her ; and, by her silent retreat, shews her 
resentment, and reprimands iEneas more than she could have 
done in a thousand words. 

Ilia solo fixos oculos aversa tenebat, 

Nee magis incepto vultum sermone movetur, 

Quam si dura silex, aut stet Marpesia cautes. 

Tandem corripuit sese, atque inimica refugit 

In nemus umbriferum. jEn. vi. v. 469. 

Disdainfully she look'd ; then turning round, 

She fix'd her eyes unmov'd upon the ground. 

And what he looks and swears, regards no more ■ 

Than the deaf rocks, \\ hen the loud billows roar. • 

But whirl'd away to shun his hateful sight, 

Hid in the forest and the shades of night. Drj/dcn. 

The Pathetic, as well as the Grand, is expressed as strongly 
by silence, or a bare word, as in a number of periods. There 


in the Odyssey, which is undoubtedly noble, 
and far above expression. 

is an admirable instance of it in Shakespeare's Julius Cajsar, 
Act 4. Sc. 4. The preceding scene is wrought up in a mas- 
terly manner : we see there, in the truest light, the noble and 
generous resentment of Brutus, and the hasty choler and as 
hasty repentance of Cassius. After the reconciliation, in the 
beginning of the next scene, Brutus addresses himself to 

Bra. O Cassius ! I am sick of many griefs. 

Cas. Of your philosophy you make no use, 
If you give place to accidental evils. 

Sru. No man bears sorrow better Portia's dead. 

Cas. Ha! Portia! 

Jjru. She is dead. 

Cas. How 'scap'd I killing when I cross'd you so ? 

The stroke is heavier, as it conies unexpected. The grief 
is abrupt, because it is inexpressible. The heart is melted in 
an instant, and tears will start at once in any audience that has 
generosity enough to be moved, or is capable of sorrow and 

\^ hen words are too weak, or colours too faint, to represent 
a Pathos, as the poet will be silent, so the painter will hide 
what he cannot shew. Timanthes, in his Sacrifice of Iphige- 
nia, gave Calchas a sorrowful look ; he then painted Ulysses 
more sorrowful ; and afterwards her uncle Menelaus, with all 
the grief and concern in his countenance which his pencil was 
able to display. By this gradation he had exhausted the pas- 
sion, and had no art left for die distress of her father Agamem- 
non, which required the strongest heigliteni\)g of all. He 
therefore covered up his head in his garn)ciit, and left the 
spectator to imagine Uiat excess of anguish which colours 
wertt unable to express. 


To arrive at excellence like this, we must 
needs suppose that which is the cause of it; 
I^nigan, that an orator of the true genius must 
have_no mean and ungenerous way of think-, 
ing. For it is impossible for those who have \ 
grovelling and servile ideas, or are engaged in \ 
the sordid pursuits of life, to produce any \ 
thing worthy of admiration, and the perusal ' i 
of all posterity. Grand and sublime expres- f 
sions must flow from them and them alone, ^^ 
wiiose conceptions are stored and big with . 
greatness. And hence it is, that the greatest a- 
thoughts are always uttered by the greatest' 
souls. When Parmenio cried, ^"I would 

^ " I would accept these proposals," &c.] There is a 
great gap in the original after these words. The sense has 
been supplied by the editors, from the well-known records of 
history. The proposals here mentioned were made to Alex- 
ander by Darius ; and were no less than his own daughter, and 
half his kingdom, to purchase peace. They would have con- 
tented Parmenio, but were quite too small for the extensive 
views of his master. 

.Dr. Pearce, in his note to this passage, has instanced a brave 
reply of Jphicrates. When he appeared to answer an accu- 
sation preferred against him by Aristophon, he demanded of 
him, " Whether he would have betrayed his country for a sum 
X)f money ?" Aristophon replied in the negative. '' Have I 
then done," cried Iphicrates, " what even you would have 
scorned to do r" • 


accept these proposals, if I was Alexander ;" 
Alexander made this noble reply, " And so 
would I, if I was Parmenio/' His answer 
shewed the greatness of his mind. 

So ^ the space between heaven and earth 
marks out the vast reach and capacity of 
Homer's ideas, when he says,* ^ 

* While scarce the skies her horrid head can bound, 
* • She stalks on earth. Mr. Pope. * 

There is the same evidence of a generous heart, in the 
Prince of Orange's reply to the Duke of Buckingham, who, 
to incline him to an inglorious peace with the French, de- 
manded, what he could do in that desperate situation of him- 
self and his country ? " Not to live to see its ruin, biit die in 
the last dike." 

These short replies have more force, shew a greater soul, 
and make deeper impressions, than the most laboured dis- 
courses. The soul seems to rouse and collect itself, and then 
darts forth at once in the noblest and most conspicuous point 
of view. 

^ Longinus here sets out in all the pomp and spirit of 
Homer. How vast is the reach of man's imagination ! and 
what a vast idea, " The space between heaven and earth," is 
here placed before it ! Dr. Pearce has taken notice of such a 
thought in the Wisdom of Solomon : "Thy almighty Word 
leaped down — it touched the heaven, but it stood upon the 
earth." Chap, xviii. 15, l6. 

* Iliad, c. V. 443. 

* See the note to this description of Discord, in ^Ir. Pope's 
translation. Virgil has copied it verbatim, but applied it to 
Fame: — :>♦!;• -vj 


This description may with more justice be 
applied to Homer's genius than the extent of 

But what disparity, what a fall there 
is in ^ Hesiod's description of melanchol}^ 

Ingrediturque solo et caput inter nubila condit. \ , . ^ 

Soon grows the pigmy to gigantic size, .f.: 

Her feet on earth, her forehead in the skies. 

Shakespeare, wiUiout any imitation of these great masters, 
has, by the natural strength of his own genius, described the 
extent of Slander in the greatest pomp of expression, elevation 
of thought, and fertility of invention : 


Whose head is sharper than the sword, whose tongue 
Out-venoms all the worms of Nile, whose breath 
Rides on the posting winds, and doth belie 
All corners of the world. Kings, queens, and states, 
Maids, matrons, nay the secrets of the grave, 
This viperous slander enters. Cymbelme. 

And Milton's description of Satan, when he prepares 
for the combat, is (according to Mr. Addison, Spectator, No. 
321 .) equally sublime with either the description of Discord in 
Homer, or that of Fame in Virgil : ■..-.,..' 

Satan alarm'd, . , - 

Collecting all his might, dilated stood 
Like Tenerift' or Atlas unremov'd : 
His stature reach'd the sky, and on his crest 
Sat horror plum'd. 

'^ The image of Hesiod, here blamed by Longinus, is bor- 
rowed from low life, and has something in it exceedingly nasty. 
It offends the stomach, and of course cannot be approved by 

r 2 


if the poem of the Shield may be ascribed 
to him ! 

A filthy moisture from her nostrils flow'd.* 

the judgment. This brings to my remembrance the conduct 
of Milton, in his descrijjtion of Sin and Death, who are setoff 
in the most horrible deformity. In that of Sin, there is indeed 
something loathsome ; and what ought to be painted in that 
manner sooner than Sin ? Yet the circumstances are picked 
out with the nicest skill, and raise a national abhorrence of 
such hideous objects. — 

The one seem'd woman to the waist, and fair, ' 

But ended foul in many a scaly fold. 

Voluminous and vast ! a serpent arm'd 

With mortal sting : about her middle round 

A cry of hell-hounds never ceasing bark'd 

With wide Cerberean mouths full loud, and runo- 

A hideous peal : Yet when they list would creep. 

If aught disturb'd their noise, into her womb. 

And kennel there ; yet there still bark'd, and howl'd 

Within, unseen. 

Of Death he says, 


black it stood as night. 

Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell. 
And shook a dreadful dart, 

But Milton's judiciousness in selecting such circumstances 
as tend to raise a just and natural aversion, is no where more 
visible than in his description of a lazar-house. Book 11th. 
An inferior genius might have amused himself, with expatiating 
on the filthy and nauseous objects abounding in so horrible 
a scene, and written perhaps like a surgeon rather than a poet. 

. , ■ * Hesiod. in Scuto Here. v. 267 . 


He has not represented his image terrible, 
but loathsome and nauseous. 

But Milton aims only at the passions, by shewing the miseries 
entailed upon man, in the most affecting manner, and exciting 
at once our horror at the woes of the afflicted, and a generous 
sympathy in all their afflictions. 

Immediately a place 

Before his eyes appeared, sad, noisome, dark, &c. 

It is too long to quote, but the whole is exceedingly poetic ; 
the latter part of it sublime, solemn, and touching. We 
startle and groan at this scene of miseries, in which the whole 
race of mankind is perpetually involved, and of some of which 
we ourselves must one day be victims. 

Sight so deform, what heart of rock could long • '^'^^^ 
Dry-ey'd behold ! .- • - ■ - '■ jOfiV/-. 

To return to the remark. There is a serious turn, an 
inborn sedateness in the mind, which renders images of terror! 
grateful and engaging. Agreeable sensations are not onlyf. \ 
produced by bright and lively objects, but sometimes by suchi\ \ 
as are gloomy and solemn. It is not the blue sky, the cheer- 
ful sunshine, or the smiling landskip, that give us all our plea- 

• . . . . t 

sure, smce we are indebted for no little share of it to the silent / 
night, the distant howling wilderness, the melancholy grot, the / 
dark wood, and hanging precipice. What is terrible, cannot 
be described too well ; what is disagreeable should not be "-^ 
described at all, or at least should be strongly shaded. When |' '-} .*/ C^ 
Apelles drew the portrait of Antigonus, who had lost an eye, I.' 
he judiciously took his face in profile, that he might hide the i] 
blemish. It is the art of the painter to please, and not tov| 
offend the sight. It is the poet's to make us sometimes -^ 
thoughtful and sedate, but never to raise our distaste by foul 
ynd niiuseous represcnlalious. 


On the other hand, with what majesty and 
pomp does Homer exalt his deities ! 

Far as a shepherd from some point on high 
O'er the wide main extends his boundless eye, 
Through such a space of air, with thund'ring sound. 
At one long leap th' immortal coursers bound.* 

Mr. Pope. 

He measures the leap of the horses by the 
extent of the world. And who is there, that, 
considering the superlative magnificence of 
this thought, would not with good reason cry 
out, that " if the steeds of the Deity were to 
take a second leap, ^ the world itself would 
want room for it !" 

How grand also and pompous are those 
descriptions of the combat of the gods!^ 

* Iliad. £. V. 770. 

^ It is highly worthy of remark, how Longinus seems here 
inspired with the genius of Homer. He not only approves 
and admires this Divine thought of the poet, but imitates, I had 
almost said, improves and raises it. The space which Homer 
assigns to every leap of the horses, is equal to that which the 
eye will run over when a spectator is placed upon a lofty emi- 
nence, and looks towards the sea, where there is nothing to ob- 
struct the prospect. This is sufficiently great ; but Longinus 
has said what is greater than this, for he bounds not the leap 
by the reach of the sight, but boldly avers, that the whole ex- 
tent of the world would not afford room enough for two such 
leaps. — Dr. Pearce. 

' ^Milton's description of ihc ilght of angels i5 well able to 


Heav'n iu loud thunders bids the trumpet sound, 
And wide beneath them groans the rending ground.* 

Deep in the dismal regions of the dead 
Th' infernal monarch rear'd his horrid head ; 

stand a parallel with the combat of the gods in Homer, His 
Venus and Mars make a ludicrous sort of appearance, after 
their defeat by Diomed. The engagement between Juno and 
Latona has a little of the air of burlesque. His commentators 
indeed labour heartily in his defence, and discover fine allego- 
lies under these sallies of his fancy. This may satisfy them, 
but is by no means a su^'licient excuse for the poet. Homer's 
excellences are indeed so many and so great, that they easily 
incline us to grow fond of those few blemishes which aie dis- 
cernible in his poems, and to contend that he is broad awake, 
when he is actually nodding. But let us return to Milton, 
and take notice of the following lines : 

Now storming fury rose ' ' ' ' 

And clamour, such as heard in heav'n, till now, ' ; ' 

Was never ; arms on armour clashing bray'd 
Horrible discord, and the madding wheels "-■ 

Of brazen chariots rag'd : dire was the noise - j ^ 
Of conflict! overhead the dismal hiss . : ,, ;. ,; 

Of fiery darts in flaming voUies flew, ., ; ,. ! , . ., ^ 
And flying vaulted either host with fire. ;. , -,<- ui 
So under fiery cope together rush'd , . ,i 

Both battles main, with ruinous assault ^^ 

And inextinguishable rage : all heav'n , > 

Resounded; and had earth been then, all earth _J ^ _ ^ 
Had to her centre shook. » 

The thought of " fiery arches being drawn over the armies 
by the flight of flaming arrows," may give us some idea of Mil- 

* Iliad, (p. vcr. 3SS. 


Leap'd from his throne, lest Neptune's arm should lay 
His dark dominions open to the day, 
And pour in light on Pluto's drear abodes, 
Abhorr'd by men, and dreadful ev'n to gods.* 
-, Mr. Pope, 

What a prospect is here, my friend !^ The 
earth laid open to its centre; Tartarus itself 
disclosed to view; the whole world in com- 
motion, and tottering on its basis ! and what 
is more, heaven and hell, things mortal and 
immortal, all combating together, and sharing 
the danger of this important battle ! But yet, 
these bold representations, if not allegorically 

ton's lively imagination ; as the last thought, which is super- 
latively great, of the reach of his genius : 

. and had earth been then, all earth 

Had to her centre shook. .'.j'uoii 

He seems apprehensive, that the mind of his readers was 
not stocked enough widi ideas, to enable them to form a no- 
tion of this battle ; and to raise it the more, recals to their re- 
membrance the time, or that part of infinite duration in which 
it was fought, before time was, when this visible creation ex- 
isted only in the prescience of God. 

* Iliad, v. ver. O'l. '■ ■' . ■■ <- '■>':'■: 

^ That magnificent description of the combat of the gods, 
cannot possibly be expressed or displayed in more concise, 
more clear, or more sublime terms, than here in Longinus. 
This is the excellence of a true critic, to be able to discern 
the excellences of his author, and to display his own in ilkis- 
Irating them. — Dr. Pearcc. 


understood, are downright blasphemy, and 
extravagantly shocking. ^ For Homer, in my 
opinion, when he gives us a detail of the 
wounds, the seditions, the punishments, im- 
prisonments, tears of the deities, with those 
evils of every kind under which they lan- 
guish, has to the utmost of his power exalted 
his heroes, who fouglit at Troy, into gods, 
and degraded his gods into men. Nay, he 
makes their condition worse than human ; for 
when man is overwhelmed in misfortunes, 
death affords a comfortable port, and rescues 
him from misery. But he represents the 
infelicity of the gods as everlasting as their 

And how far does he excel those descrip- 
tions of the combats of the gods, when 
he sets a deity in his true light, and paints 
him in all his majest}^, grandeur, and per- 
fection; as in that description of Neptune, 

9 Plutarch, in his treatise on reading the pods, is of the 
same opinion with Longinus : " Wlien you read (says he) in 
Homer, of gods thrown out of heaven by one another, or of 
gods wounded by, quarrelling with, and snarling at, one ano- 
ther, you may with reason say, 

Here had thy fancy glow'd with usual heat, .. ;, j 
Thy gods had shonemore uniformly great." ' • >;. : . 


which has been already apphiudcd by several 
writers : 

»» Fierce as he pass'd the lofty mountains nod. 
The forests shake, earth trembled as he trod, 
And felt the footsteps of th' immortal god. J 


'" The Deity is described, in a thousand passages of 
Scripture, in greater majesty, pomp, and perfection, than that 
in which Homer arrays his gods. The books of Psalms and 
of Job abound in such Divine descriptions. That particu- 
larly in the 18th Psalm, ver. 7 — 10, is inimitably grand: 

" Then the earth shook and trembled, the foundations also 
of the hills moved, and were shaken, because he was wroth. 
There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his 
];^outh devoured : coals were kindled at it. He bowed the 
heavens also and came down, and darkness was under his feet. 
And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly, and came filing upon 
the wings of the wind." - r 

So again, Psalm Ixxvii. l6 — 19. 

" The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee, and 
were afraid : the depths also were troubled. The clouds 
poured out water, the air thundered, and thine arrows went 
abroad. The voice of thy thunder was heard round about; 
the lightnings shone upon the ground, the eartli was moved 
and slK)ok withal. Thy way is in the sea, and thy paths ia 
^ great waters, and thy footsteps are not known." 
^ And in general, wherever there is any description of the 
works of Onjnipotence, or the excellence of the Divine Be- 
ing, the same vein of sublimity is always to be discerned. I 
beg the reader to peruse in this view the following Psalms, 
xlvi. Ixviii. Ixxvi. xcvi. xcvii. civ. cxiv. cxxxix. cxlviii. as also 
chapter iii. of Habakkuk, and the description of the Son of 
God in the book of Revelation, chap. xix. 1 1 — 17. - 


His whirling wheels the glassy surface sweep; 

Th' enormous monsters rolling o'er the deep, j. 

Gambol around him on the wai'ry way, 

And heavy whales in awkward measures p^iy ; 

The sea subsiding spreads a level plain, 

Exults and owns the monarch of the main : 

The parting waves before his coursers fly ; - • ^ 

The wond'ring waters leave the axle dry.* 

Mr. Pope. ' 

^^ So likewise the Jewish legislator, no ordi- 

Copying such sublime images in the poetical [)arts of Scrip- 
ture, and heating his imagination with the combat of the gods 
in Homer, has made Milton succeed so well in his light of 
angels. If Homer deserves such vast encomiums from the 
critics, for describing Neptune with so much pomp and mag- 
nificence, how can ve sufficiently admire those Divine descrip- 
tions which Milton gives of the Messiah r 

He on the wings of cherub rode sublime > 

On the crystalline sky, in sapphire throu'd, • ', ' ' ' '-■ ' 

lllustiious far and wide. 

Before him pow'r Divine his way prepar'd ; " "■ 

At his command th' up-rooted hills retir'd ' ' - •> '' 
Each to his place, they heard his voice and wont ' 
Obsequious: Heav'n his wonted face renewed, ' - 
And with fresh flowretshill and valley smil'd. 

* Iliad, y. ver. 18—27. 

" This Divine passage has furnished a handle for many of 
those who are willing to be thought critics, to shew their pert- 
ness and stupidity at once. Though bright as the light of 
which it speaks^ they are blind to its lustre, and will not dis- 
cern its Sublimity. Some pretend that Lonyiiuis never saw 


nary person, having conceived a just idea of 
the power of God, has nobly expressed it 

tliis passage, though he has actually quoted it ; and that he 
never read Moses, though he has left so candid an acknow- 
ledgment of his merit. In such company, some, no doubt, 
will be surprised to find the names of Huet and Le Clerc. 
Tliey have examined, taken to pieces, and sifted it as long as 
they were able, yet still they cannot find it Sublime. It is 
simple, say they, and therefore not grand. They have tried 
it by a law of Horace misunderstood, and therefore condemn it. 

Boilcau undertook its defence, and has gallantly performed 
it. He shev»'s them, that Simplicity of expression is so far 
from being opposed to Sublimity, that it is frequently the 
cause and foundation of it ; (and indeed there is not a page in 
Scripture which abounds not vvitii instances to strengthen this 
reniark.) Horace's law, that a beginning should be unadorned, 
does not by any means forbid it to be grand, since gran- 
deur consists not in ornament and dress. He then shews at 
large, that whatever noble and majestic expression, elevation 
of thought, and importance of event, can contribute to Subli- 
mity, may be found united iu this passage. Whoever has the 
curiosity to see the particulars of this dispute, may find it in 
the edition of Boileau's works, in four volumes 12mo. 

It is however remarkable, that though Monsieur Huet will 
not alluu tiie Sublimity of this passage in Moses, yet he ex- 
tols the following in the 33d Psalm : *' For he spake, and it 
was done ; he commanded, and it stood fast." 

There is a particularity in the manner of quoting this pas- 
sage by Longinus, which 1 think has hitherto escaped obser-r 
vation. " God said— /IV/y;^?— Let there be light," &c. That 
iutcrrogation between the narrative part and the Mords of the 
Almighty himself, carries with it an air of reverence and vene-. 


in the beginning of his Law.* " And God 
said, — What? — Let there be hght, and there 
was hght. Let the earth be, and the earth 

I hope mj friend will not think me tedious, 
if I add another quotation from the poet, in 
regard to his mortals ; that you may see how 
he accustoms us to mount along with him to 
heroic grandeur. A thick and impenetrable 
cloud of darkness had on a sudden enveloped 
the Grecian army, and suspended the battle, 
Ajax, perplexed what course to take, prays 
thus if- 

Accept a warrior's pray'n, eternal Jove ; 

This cloud of darkness from the Greeks remove ; 

ration. It seems designed to awaken the reader, and raise his 
awful attention to the voice of the great Creator. 

Instances of this majestic simplicity and unaffected gran- 
deur, are to be met with in great plenty through the Sacred 
Writings. Such as St. Joliu xi. 43. " Lazarus, come fortli," 
St. Matt. viii. 3. " Lord, if thou wilt, ihou canst make me 
clean."— « I will; be thou clean." And St. Mark iv. 39. 
where Christ hushes the tumultuous sea into a cahii, with 
" Peace (or ratlier, be silent), be still." The waters (says a 
critic, Sacred Classics, p. 325.) heard that voice, which com- 
manded universal nature into being. They sunk at his com- 
mand, who has the sole privilege of saying to that unruly ele- 
ment, '' Hitherto shalt thou pass, and no farther : here shall 
thy proud waves be stopped." 

* Gen. i. 3. - • • f Iliad. ,0, ver. G4a. 


; Give us but light, and let us see our foes, 

We'll bravely fall, though Jove himself oppose. 

The sentiments of Ajax are here patheti- 
cally expressed : it is Ajax himself. He begy 
not for life; a request like that would be be- 
neath a hero. But because in that darkness 
he could display his valour in no illustrious 
exploit, and his great heart was unable to 
brook a sluggish inactivity in the field of ac- 
tion, he only prays for light, not doubting to 
crown his fall with some notable perform- 
ance, though Jove himself should oppose his 
efforts. Here Homer, like a brisk and fa- 
vourable gale, renews and swells the fury of 
the battle ; he is as warm and impetuous as 
liis heroes arc, or (as he says of Hector) 

With such a furious rage his steps advance. 
As when the god of battles shakes his lance, 
Or bah ful flames on some thick forest cast, 
Suift marching lay the wooded mountain waste : 
Around his mouth a foamy moisture stands.* 

Yet Homer himself shews in the Odyssey 
(what I am going to add is necessary on seve- 
ral accounts), that when a great genius is in 
decline, a fondness for the fabulous clings fast 
to aoc. Manv aroumcnts may be brouoht to 

. . , . * Iliad, o. vcr. f)05. 


prove that this poem was written after the 
Ihad ; but this especially, that in the Odyssey 
he has occasionally mentioned the sequel of 
those calamities, which began at Troy, as so 
many episodes of that fatal war; and that he 
introduces those terrible dangers and horrid 
disasters, as formerly undergone by his heroes. 
For, in reality, the Odyssey is no more than 
the epilogue of the Iliad : 

There warlike Ajax, there Achilles lies, ,' ; 

Patroclus there, a man divinely wise ; . i 

There too my dearest son.* 

It proceeds, I suppose, from the same rea- 
son, that having written the Iliad in the youth 
and vigour of his genius, he has furnished it 
with continued scenes of action and combat ; 
whereas the greatest part of the Odyssey is 
spent in narration, the delight of old age. 
^^ So that, in the Odysse}-, Homer may with 

* Odyss. y. ver. 109- 

*" Never did any criticism equal, much less exceed, this of 
Longinus in sublimity, lie gives his opinion, ihat Homer's 
Odyssey, being the work of his old age, and written in the de- 
cline of his life, and in every respect equal to the Ihad, except 
in violence and impetuosity, may be resembled to " the setting 
sun, whose grandeur continues tlie same, though its ravs re- 
tain not the same fejvent heat." Let us here take a view of 
Longinus, whilst he points out the beauties of the best wi iters, 


justice be resembled to the setting sun, whose 
grandeur still remains, without the meridian 

and at the same time his own. Equal himself to the most ce- 
lebrated authors, he gives them the eulogies due to their merit. 
He not only judges his predecessors by the true laws and stand- 
ard of good writing, but leaves posterity in himself a model 
and pattern of genius and judgment. — Dr. Pearce. 

This fine comparison of Homer to the sun, is certainly an 
honour to poet and critic. It is a fine resemblance, great, 
beautiful, and just. He describes Homer in the same eleva- 
tion of thought, as Homer himself would have set oft his he- 
roes. Fine genius will shew its spirit, and in every age and 
climate displays its natural inherent vigour. This remark will, 
1 hope, be a proper introduction to the following lines of Mil- 
ton, where grandeur, impaired and in decay, is described by 
an allusion to the sun in eclipse, by which our ideas are won- 
derfully raised to a conception of what il was in all its glory : 

He, above the rest. 

In shape and gesture proudly eminent. 
Stood like a tow'r : his form not yet had lost 
All her original brightness, nor appeared 
Less than archangel ruin'd, and th' excess 
Of glory obscur'd : as when the sun new-ris'n 
Looks through the horizontal misty air, 
Shorn of his beams ; or from behind the moon, 
Tn dim eclipse, disastrous twilight sheds 
On half the nations, ant! with fear of change 
Perplexes monarchs ; darken'd so, yet shone 
Above them all Ui' archangel. 

Tiiat horrible grandeur in which Milton arrays his devils 
througliout his poem, is an honourable proof of the stretch of 
his invention, and the solidity of his judgment. Tasso, in his 


beat of his beams. The style is not so grand 
and majestic as that of the Ihad; the subhmity 
not continued with so much spirit, nor so 
uniformly noble ; the tides of passion flow not 
along with so much profusion, nor do they 
hurry away the reader in so rapid a current. 
There is not the same volubility and quick 
variation of the phrase ; nor is the work em- 
bellished with so many strong and expressive 
images. Yet, like the ocean, whose very 
shores, when deserted by the tide, mark out 
how wide it sometimes flows, so Homer's ge- 
nius, when ebbing into all those fabulous and 
incredible ramblings of Ulysses, shews plainly 
how sublime it once had been. Not that I 
am forgetful of those storms, which are de- 

4th canto, has opened a council of devils ; but his description 
of them is frivolous and puerile, savouring too much of old 
■women's tales, and the fantastic dreams of ignorance. He 
makes some of them walk upon the feet of beasts, and dresses 
out their resemblance of a human head with twisting serpents 
instead of hair ; horns sprout upon their foreheads, and after 
them they drag an immense length of tail. It is true, when 
he makes his Pluto speak (for he has made use of the old poet- 
ical names), he supports his character with a deal of spirit, 
and puts such words and sentiments into his mouth as are pro- 
perly diabolical. His devil talks somewhat like Milton's, but 
looks not with half that horrible pomp, that height of obscured 
g'ory. ;, . ,, .. , . . ; 




scribed in so terrible a manner in several parts 
of the Odyssey ; of Ulysses' adventures Avith 
the Cyclop, and some other instances of the 
true sublime. No ; I am speaking, indeed, of 
old age, but it is the old age of Homer. How- 
ever, it is evident, from the whole series of 
the Odyssey, that there is far more narration 
in it than action. 

I have digressed thus far merely for the 
sake of shewing, that, in the decline of their 
vigour, the greatest geniuses are apt to turn 
aside unto trifles. Those stories of shutting 
up the winds in a bag; of the men in Circe's 
island metamorphosed into swine, whom 
^^Zoilus calls little squeaking pigs ; of Jupiter's 
being nursed b}^ the doves like one of their 
young ; of Ulysses in a wreck, when he took 
no sustenance for ten days ; and those incre- 
dible absurdities concerning the death of the 
suitors : all these are undeniable instances of 

^"' Zoilus."] The most infamous name of a certain author, 
of Thracian extraction, who wrote a treatise against the Iliad 
and Odyssey of Homer, and entitled it, Homer's Reprimand : 
which so exasperated the people of that age, that they put the 
author to death, and sacrificed liim as it were to the injured 
genius of Homer. His enterprise was certainly too daring, 
his punishment undoubtedly too severe. Dr. Pearce. 


this in the Odyssey. ^^ Dreams indeed they 
are, but such as even Jove might dream. 

Accept, my friend, in further excuse of 
this digression, my desire of convincing you, 
that a decrease of the Pathetic in great ora- J 
tors and poets often ends in the^^ moral kind 

^* After Longinus had thus summed up the imperfections 
of Homer, one might imagine, from the usual bitterness of 
critics, that a heavy censure would immediately follow. But 
the true critic knows how to pardon, to excuse, and to exte- 
nuate. Such conduct is uncommon, but just. We see by it 
at once the worth of the author, and the candour of the judge. 
With persons of so generous a bent, his Translator has fared 
as well as Homer. Mr. Pope's " faults (in that performance) 
are the faults of a man, but his beauties are the beauties of an 
angel." Essai/ on the Odi/ssei/. 

*^ The word moral does not fully give the idea of the ori^ 
ginal word rj^os, but our language will not furnish any other \ 
that comes so near it. The meaning of the passage is, that 
' great authors, in the youth and tire of their genius, abound '- 
qhiefly. in s,uc.h passions as are strong and vehement; but in ; 
their old age and decline, they betake themselves to such as J.^ 
are mild, peaceable^ and sedate^^ At first they end^aypur to I 
move, to warm, to transport ; but afterwards to amuse, de- 
light, and persuade. In youth, they strike at the imagination ; ^^ 
in age, they speak more to our reason. For though the pas- 
sions are the same in their nature, yet, at different ages, they 
differ in degree. ^Love, for instance, is a violent, hot, and im- 
petuous passion ; Esteem is a sedate, and cool, and peaceable 
affection of the mind. The youthful lits and transports of the / 
former, in progress of time, subside and settle in the latter. So / 

G 2 


of writing. Thus the Odyssey, furnishing us 
with rules of morality, drawn from that course 
of life which the suitors led in the palace of 
Ulysses, has in some degrees the air of a co- 
medy, where the various manners of men are 
ingeniously and faithfully described. 


Let us consider next, whether we cannot 
find out some other means to infuse sublimity 
into our wTitings. Now, as there are no sub- 
jects which are not attended by some adherent 
circumstances, an accurate and judicious 

a storm is dififerent from a gale, though both are wind. 
Hence it is, that bold scenes of action, dreadful alarms, af- 
fecting images of terror, and such violent turns of passion, as 
require a stretch of fancy to express or to conceive, employ the 
vigour and maturity of youth, in which consists the nature of 
the Pathetic ; but amusing narrations, calm descriptions, de- 
lightful landskips, and more even and peaceable affections, 
are agreeable in the ebb of life, and therefore more frequently 
attempted, and more successfully expressed by a declining ge- 
nius. This is the moral kind of writing here mentioned, and 
by these particulars is Homer's Odyssey distinguished from 
his Iliad. The tto-Joc and v^oq so frequently used, and so im- 
portant in the Greek critics, are fully explained by Quincti- 
iian, iu the sixth book of his Institut. Orat. 


choice of the most suitable of these circum- 
stances, and an ingenious and skilful con- 
nexion of them into one body, must necessa- 
rily produce the Sublime. For what by the 
judicious choice, and what by the skilful con- 
nexion, they cannot but very much affect the 

Sappho is an instance of this ; who, having 
observed the anxieties and tortures insepara- 
ble to jealous love, has collected and dis- 
played them all with the most lively exact- 
ness. But in what particular has she shewn 
her excellence? In selecting those circum- 
stances which suit best with her subject, and 
afterwards connecting them together with so 
much art. 

Blest as th' immortal gods is he, 
The youth who fondly sits by thee, <r. . . - ," 

And hears, and sees thee all the while - " : 

Softly speak, and sweetly smile. '... .[V 

'Twas this depriv'd my soul of rest, 
And rais'd such tumults in my breast; ^ 
For while 1 gaz'd, in transport tost, 
My breath was gone, my voice was lost. 

My bosom glow'd; the subtile flame ,. 

Ran quick through all my vital frame ; 

O'er my dim eyes a darkness hung; .. 

My ears with hollow murmurs rung. / - ; 


In dewy damps my limbs were chill'd ; 
My blood with gentle horrors thrill'd; 
My feeble pulse forgot to play, 
I fainted, sunk, and died away.^ 
: - " Philips. 

^ There is a line at the end of this Ode of Sappho in the 
original, which is taken no notice of in the translation, because 
the sense is complete without it, and if admitted, it would 
throw confusion on the whole. 

The title of this Ode in Ursinus, in the fragments of 
Sappho, is, To the beloved Fair; and it is the right. For Plu- 
tarch (to omit the testimonies of many others), in his Eroticon, 
has these words : " The beautiful Sappho says, that at sight 
of her beloved fair, her voice was suppressed," &c. Besides, 
Strabo and Athenteus tells us, that the name of this fair one 
was Dorica, and that she was loved by Charaxus, Sappho's 
brother. Let us then suppose that this Dorica, Sappho's in- 
famous paramour, receives the addresses of Charaxus, and 
admits him into her company as her lover. This very mo- 
ment Sappho unexpectedly enters, and stricken at what she 
sees, feels tormenting emotions. In this Ode, therefore, she 
endeavours to express that wrath, jealousy, and anguish, which 
distracted her with such variety of torture. This, in my opi- 
nion, is the subject of the Ode. And whoever joins in my 
sentiments, cannot but disapprove the following verses in Uie 
French translation by Boileau : 

— dans les doux transports oil s'cgare mon ame : 


,Te tombe dans des donees langueurs. 

The \\OT(\ doHX will in no wise express the rage and distraction 
of Sappho's mind. It is always used in u contrary sense. 


Are you not amazed, my friend, to find how 
in the same moment she is at a loss for her 

Catullus has translated this Ode almost verbally, and Lucre- 
tius has imitated it in his third book. — Dr. Pearce. 
.. The English translation I have borrowed from the Specta- 
tor, No. 229. It was done by Mr. Philips, and has been 
very much applauded, though the following line. 

For while I gaz'd, in transport tost, 
and this. 

My blood with gentle horrors thrill'd, 

will be liable to the same censure with Boileau's douces lan- 

A critique on this Ode may be seen in the same Spectator. 
It has been admired in all ages, and besides the imitation of 
it by Catullus and Lucretius, a great resemblance of it is 
easily perceivable in Horace's Ode to Lydia,lib. 1. od. 13. and 
in Virgil's ^neid, lib. 4. 

Longinus attributes its beauty to the judicious choice of 
those circumstances which are the constant, though surprising 
attendants upon love. It is certainly a passion that has more 
prevalent sensations of pleasure and pain, and affects the mind 
with a greater diversity of impressions, than any other. 

Love is a smoke, rais'd with the fume of sight ; 
Being purg'd, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes : 
Being vex'd, a sea nourish'd with lovers' tears : 
What is it else ? a madness most discreet, 
A choking gall, and a preserving sweet. 

Shakespeare, in Romeo and Juliet. 

The qualities of love are certainly very proper for the ma- 
nagement of a good poet. It is a subject on which many may. 


soul, her body, her ears, her tongue, her eyes, 
her colour, all of them as much absent from 

shine in different lights, yet keep clear of all that whining and 
rant with which the stage is continually pestered. The an- 
cients have scarcely meddled with it in any of their tragedies. 
Shakespeare has shewn it, in almost all its degrees, by different 
characters in one or other of his plays. Otway has wrought 
it up finely in the Orphan, to raise our pity. Dryden expresses 
its thoughtless violence very well, in his All for Love. Mr, 
Addison has painted it both successful and unfortunate, with 
the highest judgment, in his Cato. But Adam and Eve, in 
Milton, are the finest picture of conjugal lo.e that ever was 
drawn. In them it is true warmth of affection, without the 
violence or fury of passion ; a sw eet and reasonable tenderness, 
without any cloying or insipid fondness. In its serenity and 
sunshine, it is noble, amiable, endearing, and innocent. When 
it jars and goes out of tune, as on some occasions it will, there 
is anger and resentment. He is gloomy, she complains and 
weeps, yet love has still its force. Eve knows how to submit, 
and Adam to forgive. We are pleased that they have quar- 
relled, when we see the agreeable manner in which they are 
reconciled. They have enjoyed prosperity, and will share 
adversity together. And the last scene in which we behold 
this unfortunate coup'e, is when 

They hand in hand, with wand'ring steps and slow, 
Through Eden take their solitary way. 

Tasso, in his Gierusalemme Liberata, has lost no opportunity 
of embellishing his poem w ith some incidents of Uiis passion. 
He even breaks in upon the rules of Epic, by introducing the 
episode of Olindo and Sophronia, in his Cd canto : for they 
never appear again in the poem, and have no share in the ac- 
tion of it. Two of his great personages are a husband and 


her, as if they had never belonged to her? 
And what contrary effects does she feel toge- 
ther ? She glows, she chills, she raves, she rea- 
sons ; now she is in tumults, and now she is 
dying away. In a word, she seems not to be 
attacked by one alone, but by a combination 
of the most violent passions. 

All the symptoms of this kind are true ef- 
fects of jealous love; but the excellence of 
this Ode, as I observed before, consists in the 
judicious choice and connexion of the most 
notable circumstances. And it proceeds from 
his due application of the most formidable 
incidents, that the poet excels so much in 
describing tempests. The ^author of the 

wife, who fight always side by side, and die together. The 
power, the allurements, the tyranny of beauty, is amply dis- 
played in the coquettish character of Armida, in the 4th canto. 
He indeed always shews the effects of the passion in true 
colours ; but then he does more, he retines and plays upon 
them with fine-spun conceits. He flourishes like Ovid on 
every little incident, and recals our attention from the poem, 
to take notice of the poet's wit. This might be writing in the 
Italian taste, but it is not nature. Homer was above it, in his 
fine characters of Hector and Andromache, Ulysses and Pe- 
nelope. The judicious Virgil has rejected it, in his natural 
picture of Dido. Milton has followed and improved upon 
his great masters, with dignity and judgment. 

? Aristaeus, the Procouuesian, is said to have wiote a pccni, 


poem on the Arimaspians doubts not but 
these Hnes are great and full of terror : 

Ye pow'rs, what madness ! How on ships so frail 
(Tremendous thought !) can thoughtless mortals sail ? 
For stormy seas they quit the pleasing plain, 
Plant Nvoods in waves, and dwell amidst the main. 
Far o'er the deep (a trackless path) they go, 
And wander oceans in pursuit of woe. 
No ease their hearts, no rest their eyes can find, 
On heav'n their looks, and on the waves their mind ; 
Sunk are their spirits, while their arms they rear, 
And gods are wearied with their fruitless pray'r. 

Mr. Pope. 

Every impartial reader will discern that 
these lines are florid more than terrible. But 
how does Homer raise a description, to men- 
tion only one example amongst a thousand ! 

^ He bursts upon them all : 

Bursts as a wave that from the cloud impends, 
And swell'd with tempests on the ship descends ; 
White are the decks with foam ; the winds aloud 
Howl o'er the masts, and sing through every shroud : 

called Apifia/T-rreia; or, of the aifairs of the Arimaspians, a Scy- 
thian people, situated far from any sea. The lines here quoted 
seem to be spoken by an Arimaspian, wondering how men 
dare trust themselves in ships, and endeavouring to describe 

the seamen in the extremities of a storm. Dr. Pearce. 

^ There is a description of a tempest in the 107th Psalm, 
which runs in a very high vein of sublimity, and has more 


Pale, trembling, tir'd, the sailors freeze with fears, 

And instant death on ev'ry wave appears,* 

Mr. Pope. 

spirit in it than the applauded descriptions in the authors of 
antiquity; because when the storm is in all its rage, and 
the danger become extreme, almighty power is introduced to 
calm at once the roaring main, and give preservation to the 
miserable distressed. It ends in that fervency of devotion, 
which such grand occurrences are fitted to raise in the minds 
of the thoughtful. 

" He commandeth and raiseth the stormy wind, which 
lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to heaven, they 
go down again to the depths ; their soul is melted away be- 
cause of trouble. They reel to and fro like a drunken man, 
and are at their wit's-end. Then they cry unto the Lord in their 
trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He 
maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. 
Then are they glad, because they be quiet; so he bringeth 
them unto their desired haven. Oh ! that men would praise 
the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the 
children of men !" 

Shakespeare has, with inimitable art, made use of a storm 
in his tragedy of King Lear, and continued it through seven 
scenes. In reading it, one sees the piteous condition of those 
who are exposed to it in open air ; one almost hears the wind 
and thunder, and beholds the flashes of lightning. The anger, 
fury, and passionate exclamations of Lear himself, seem to 
rival the storm, which is as outrageous in his breast, inflamed 
and ulcerated by the barbarities of his daughters, as in the ele- 
ments themselves. We view him 

Contending with the fretful elements. 
Bids the wind blow the earth into the sea, 

* Iliad, o. ver. 6*24. 


Aratus has attempted a refinement upon 
the last thought, and turned it thus, 

A slender plank preserves them from their fate. * 

Or swell the curled waters 'bove the main, 

That things might change or cease : tears his white hair. 

Which the impetnous blasts with eyeless rage 

Catch in their fury. - . , 

We afterwards see the distressed old man exposed to all the 
inclemencies of the weather ; nature itself in hurry and disor- 
der, but he as violent and boisterous as the storm : 

Rumble thy belly-full, spit fire, spout rain ; 
Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters ; 

I tax not you, ye elements I 

And immediately after, - ;' > ... 
Let the great gods, ' 

That keep this dreadful thund'ring o'er our heads, 

Find out tiieir enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch. 

That hast within thee undivulged crimes 

Unwhipt of justice. Hide thee, thou bloody hand, 

Thou perjur'd, and thou simular man of virtue. 

That art incestuous : caitiff, shake to pieces, ' " 

That under covert and convenient seeming 

Hast practis'd on man's life. Close pent-up guilts, 

Rive your concealing continents, and ask , * 

These dreadful summoners grace. 

The storm still continues, and the poor old man is forced 
along the open heath, to take shelter in a wretched hovel. 
There the poet has laid new incidents, to stamp fresh terror on 
the imagination, by lodging Edgar in it before them. The 

* Arati Pha;nomen. ver. Cyj). 


But instead of increasing the terror, he only 
lessens and refines it away ; and besides, he 
sets a bound to the impending danger, by 
saying, " a plank preserves them," thus ba- 
nishing their despair. But the poet is so far 
from confining the danger of his sailors, that 
he paints them in a most desperate situation, 
while they are only not swallowed up in every 

passions of the old king are so turbulent, that he will not be 
persuaded to take any refuge. When honest Kent entreats 
him to go in, he cries, 

Prithee go in thyself, seek thy own ease ; 

This tempest will not give me leave to ponder - , 

On things would hurt me more 

Nay, get thee in ; I'll pray, and then I'll sleep 

Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are, 
That 'bide the pelting of this pitiless storm ! 
How shall your houseless heads, and unfed sides. 
Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you 
From seasons such as these ? — Oh ! 1 have ta'en 
Too little care of this ! Take physic, pomp, 
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel, • • 

That thou mayst shake the superflux to them, 
And shew the heav'ns more just. 

The miseries and disorders of Lear and Edgar are then 
painted with such judicious horror, that every imagination must 
be strongly affected by such tempests in reason and nature. 
1 have quoted those passages which have the moral reflections 
in them, since they add solemnity to the terror, and alarm at 
once a variety of passions. 


wave, and have death before their eyes as fast 
as they escape it. * Nay more, the danger 
is discerned in the very hurry and confusion 
of the words ; the verses are tossed up and 
down with the ship, the harshness and jarring 
of the syllables give us a lively image of the 
storm, and the whole description is in itself a 
terrible and furious tempest. 

It is by the same method that Archilochus 
lias succeeded so well in describing a wreck ; 
and Demosthenes, where he relates * the con- 

* " Nay more, the danger," Sec. — ] I have given this sentence 
such a turn as I thought would be most suitable to our language, 
and have omitted the following words, \vhich occur in the ori- 
ginal : " Besides, he has forcibly united some prepositions 
that are naturally averse to union, and heaped them one 
upon another, vir n: •'^araroio. By this means the danger is 
discerned," See. 

The beauty Longinus here commends in Homer, of making 
the words correspond \\h\\ the sense, is one of the most ex- 
cellent that can be found in composition. The many and re- 
fined observations of this nature in Dionysius of Halicarnassus, 
are an evidence how exceedingly fond the ancients were of it. 
There should be a style of sound as well as of words, but 
such a st)le depends on a great command of language, and a 
musical ear. We see a great deal of it in Milton, but in Mr. 
Pope it appears to perfection. It would be folly to quote ex- 
amples, since they can possibly escape none who can read and 

* Oral, de Corona. . a\. 


fusions at Athens, upon arrival of ill news.-^ 
" It was (says he) in the evening/' &c. If 
I may speak by a figure, they reviewed the 
forces of their subjects, and culled out the 
flower of them, with this caution, not to place 
any mean, or indecent, or coarse expression 
in so choice a body. For such expressions 
are like mere patches, or unsightly bits of 
matter, which in this edifice of grandeur en- 
tirely confound the fine proportions, mar 

^ The whole passage in Demosthenes' oration runs thus : 
" It was evening when a courier brought the news to the ma- 
gistrates of the surprisal of Elatea. Immediately they arose, 
though in the midst of their repast. Some of them hurried 
away to the Forum, and driving the tradesmen out, set fne to 
their shops. Others Hed to advertise the commanders of the 
army of the news, and to summon the public herald. The 
whole city was full of tumult. On the morrow, by break of 
day, the magistrates convene the senate. You, gentlemen, 
obeyed the summons. Before the public council proceeded 
to debate, the people took their seats above. V. hen the senate 
were come in, the magistrates laid open the reasons of their 
meeting, and produced the courier. He confirmed their re- 
port. The herald demanded aloud. Who would harangue ? 
Nobody rose up. The iicrald repeated the question several 
times. In vain : nobody rose up : nobody harangued ; 
though all the conniianders of the army were there, though 
the orators were present, though the common voice of our 
country joined in the petition, and demanded an oration for the 
public safety." 


the symmetry, and deform the beauty of the 


There is another virtue bearing great affi- 
nity to the former, which they call Amplifi- 
cation ; whenever (the topics on which we 
write or debate, admitting of several begin- 
nings, and several pauses in the periods) the 
great incidents, heaped one upon another, 
ascend by a continued gradation to a summit 
of grandeur.^ Now this may be done to 

* Lucan has put a very grand amplification iu the mouth 
of Cato : " - 

Estne dei sedes, nisi terra, et pontus, et aer, 

Et ccelum, et virtus ? Superos quid quserimus ultra ? 

Jupiter est, quodcunque vides, quocunque movebis. 

There is a very beautiful one in Archbishop Tillotson's 12th 
sermon : — 

" 'Tis pleasant to be virtuous and good, because that is to 
excel many others : 'Tis pleasant to grow better, because that 
is to excel ourselves : Nay, 'tis pleasant even to mortify and 
subdue our lusts, because that is victory : 'Tis pleasant to com- 
mand our appetites and passions, and to keep them in due 
order, within the bounds of reason and religion, because this is 


ennoble what is familiar, to aggravate what is 
wrong, to increase the strength of arguments, 
to set actions in their true light, or skilfully 
to manage a passion, and a thousand ways 
besides. But the orator must never forget 
this maxim, that in things however amplified, 
there cannot be perfection, without a senti- 
ment which is truly Sublime/^unless when we 
are to move compassion, or to make things 
appear as vile and contemptible. But in all 
other methods of Amplification, if you take 
away the sublime meaning, you separate as it 
were the soul from the body. For no sooner 
are they deprived of this necessary support, 
but they grow dull and languid, lose all their 
vigour and nerves. 

What I have said now differs from what 
went immediatel3^ before. My design was 
then to shew how much a judicious choice 
and an artful connexion of proper incidents 
heighten a subject. But in what manner this 

But no author amplifies in so noble a manner as St. Paul. 
He rises gradually from earth to heaven, from mortal man to 
God himself. " For all things are yours, %vhether Paul, or 
Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things 
present, or things to come : all are yours ; and ye are Christ's ; 
and Christ is God's." — 1 Cor. iii. 21 — 23. See also Rom. 
viii. 29, 30. 38, 39. 



sort of Sublimity differs from Amplification, 
will soon appear by exactly defining the true 
notion of the latter. 


I CAN by no means approve of the defini- 
tion which writers of rhetoric give of Ampli- 
fication. " Amplification (say they) is a form 
of words aggrandizing the subject." Now this 
definition may equally serve for the Sublime, 
the Pathetic, and the application of Tropes ; 
for these also invest discourse with peculiar 
airs of grandeur. In my opinion, they differ 
in these respects : Sublimity consists in lofti- 
ness, but Amplification in number ; whence 
the former is often visible in one single 
thought; the other cannot be discerned, but 
in a series and chain of thoughts rising one 
upon another. 

" Amplification therefore (to give an exact 
idea of it), is such a full and complete con- 
nexion of all the particular circumstances 
inherent in the things themselves, as gives 
them additional strength, by dwelling some 
time upon, and progressive!}^ heightening a^^ 


particular point/' It differs from Proof in a 
material article, since the end of a Proof is to 
establish the matter in debate * * * * 
[The remainder of the Author's remarks on 
Amplification is lost. AVhat comes next is 
imperfect ; but it is evident from what fol- 
lows, that Longinus is drawing a parallel 
between Plato and Demosthenes.] * * * 
(Plato) may be compared to the ocean, 
whose waters, -when hurried on by the tide, 
overflow their ordinary bounds, and are dif- 
fused into a vast extent. And in my opinion, 
this is the cause thatthe orator (Demosthenes), 
striking with more powerful might at the pas- 
sions, is inflamed with fervent vehemence, 
and passionate ardour ; whilst Plato, always 
grave, sedate, and majestic, though he never 
was cold or flat, yet fell vastly short of the 
impetuous thundering of the other. 

And it is in the same points, my dear Te- 
RENTiANUs, that Cicero and Demosthenes 
(if we Grecians may be admitted to speak our 
opinions), differ in the Sublime. The one is at 
the same time grand and concise, the other 
grand and diffusive. Our Demosthenes, ut- 
tering every sentence with such force, pre- 
cipitation, strength, and vehemence, that it 
seems to be all fire, and bears down every 

H 2 


thing before it, may justly be resembled to 
a thunderbolt, or a hurricane. But Cicero, 
like a wide conflagration, devours and spreads 
on all sides ; his flames are numerous, and 
their heat is lastino-; thev break out at dif- 
ferent times in difterent quarters, and are 
nourished up to a raging violence by succes- 
sive additions of proper fuel. I must not 
however pretend to judge in this case so w^ell 
as you. But the true season of applying so 
forcible and intense a Sublime as that of 
Demosthenes, is,Mn the strong efforts of dis- 
course, in vehement attacks upon the pas- 
sions, and whenever the audience are to be 
stricken at once, and thrown into consterna- 
tion. And recourse must be had to such dif- 
fusive eloquence as that of Cicero, when they 
are to be soothed and brought over by gentle 
and soft insinuation. Besides, this diffuse 
kind of eloquence is most proper for all fa- 
mihar topics ; for perorations, digressions, for 
easy narrations or pompous amusements, for 
historj^, for short accounts of the operations 
of nature, and many other sorts. 



^ To leave this digression. Though Plato's 
style particularly excels in smoothness, and 
an easy and peaceable flow of the words, 3'et 
neither does it want an elevation and irran- 
deur*: and of this you cannot be ignorant, 

^ '^ To leave this digression."] These words refer to what 
Longinus had said of Plato in that part of the preceding Sec- 
tion, which is now almost wholly lost: and from hence it is 
abundantly evident, that the person whom he had there com- 
pared with the orator was Plato. — Dr. Pearce. 

^ That Archbishop Tillotson was possessed, in an eminent 
degree, of the same sweetness, fluency of style, and elevated 
sense, which are so much admired in Plato, can be denied by 
none who are versed in the writings of that author. The fol- 
lowing passage, on much the same subject as the instance here 
quoted by our Critic from Piato, may be of service in strength- 
ening this assertion : he is speaking of persons deeply plunged 
in sin : — 

*' If consideration," says he, " happen to take them at any 
advantage, and they are so hard pressed by it that they cannot 
escape the sight of their own condition ; yet they find them- 
selves so miserably entangled and hampered in an evil course, 
and bound so fast in chains of their own wickedness, that they 
know not how to get loose. Sin is the saddest slavery in the 
world ; it breaks and sinks men's spirits, and makes them so 
base and servile, that they have not the courage to rescue them- 
selves. No sort of slaves are so poor-spirited as they that are 
in bondage to their lusts. Their power is gone; or if they 


as you have read the following passage in his 
Republic* " Those wretches (says he) who 
never have experienced the sweets of wisdom 
and virtue, but spend all their time in revels 
and debauches, sink downwards day after 
day, and make their whole life one continued 
series of errors. They never have the cou- 
rage to lift the eye upwards towards truth, 
they never felt any the least inclination to it. 
They taste no real or substantial pleasure; 
but resembling so many brutes, with eyes al- 
ways fixed on the earth, and intent upon 
their loaden tables, they pamper themselves 
up in luxury and excess. So that hurried on 
by their voracious and insatiable appetites, 
they are continually running and kicking at 
one another with hoofs and horns of steel, 
and are embrued in perpetual slaughter."' 

have any left, they have not the heart to make use of it. And 
though they see and feel their misery, yet they choose rather to 
sit down in it, and tamely to submit to it, than to make any 
resolute attempts for their liberty." And afterwards — " Blind 
and miserable men ! that, in despite of all the merciful warn- 
ings of God's word and providence, will run themselves into 
this desperate state, and never think of returning to a better 
mind till their retreat is difficult, almost to an impossibiUty." — 
29th Sermon, Vol. I. folio. 

* Plato, lib. y, de Rep. p. 586. edit. Steph. 


This excellent writer, if we can but resolve 
to follow his guidance, opens here before us 
another path, besides those already men- 
tioned, which will carry to the true Sublime. 
— And what is this path ? — Why, an imitation 
arid eniulation of the greatest orators and ^ 
poets that ever flourished. And let this, my 
friend, be our ambition ; be this the fixed and 
lasting scope of all our labours. 

For hence it is, that numbers of imitators 
are ravished and transported by a spirit not 
their own, Mike the Pythian Priestess, when 
she approaches the sacred tripod. There is, 
if Fame speaks true, a chasm in the earth, 
fi'om zt'hence exhale Divine evaporations, which 

^ This parallel or comparison drawn between the Pythian 
Priestess of Apollo and imitators of the best authors, is happily 
invented, and quite complete. Nothing can be more beautiful, 
more analogous, more expressive. It was the custom for the 
Pythian to sit on the tripod, till she was rapt into Divine 
frenzy by the operation of effluvia issuing out of the clefts of 
the earth. In the same manner, says Longinus, they, who imi- , 
tate the best waiters, seem to be inspired by those whom they 
imitate, and to be actuated by their sublime spirit. In this 
comparison, those Divine writers are set on a level almost with 
the gods ; they have equal power attributed to them with the 
deity presiding over oracles, and the eiFect of their operations 
on their imitators is honoured with the title of a Divine spirit. 
— Dr. Pearce. 


impregnate her on a sudden with the inspira- 
tion of her god, and cause in her the utter- 
ance of oracles and predictions. So, from 
the siibHme spirit of the ancients, there arise 
some fine effluvia, like vapours from the sa- 
cred vents, which work themselves insensibly 
into the breasts of iuiitators, and fill those,, 
who naturally are not of a towering genius, 
with the lofty ideas and fire of others. Was 
Herodotus alone the constant imitator of Ho- 
mer ? No : ^ Stesichorus and Archilochus imi- 
tated him more than Herodotus ; but Plato 
more than all of them ; who, from the co- 
pious Homeric fountain, has drawn a thou- 
sand rivulets to cherish and improve his own 
productions. Perhaps there might be a ne- 
cessity of my producing some examples of 
this had not Ammonius done it to my hand. 
Nor is such proceeding to be looked up- 
on as plagiarism, but, in methods consistent 
with the nicest honour, an imitation of the 
finest pieces, or copying out those bright ori- 

* Stesichorus, a noble poet, inventor of the Lyric Chorus, 
Avas born, according to Suidas, in the thirty-seventh Olympiad. 
Quinctilian, Instit. Orat. 1. x. c. 1. says thus of him :—" If he 
had kept in due bounds, he seems to have been able to come the 
nearest to a rivalship witli Homer." — Dr. Pearce. ^ 


ginals. Neither do I think that Plato would 
have so much embellished his philosophical 
tenets with the florid expressions of poetr}^ 
^had he not been ambitious of enterinoj the 
lists, like a youthful champion, and ardently 
contending for the prize with Homer, who 
had a Ions: time ensfrossed the admiration of 
the world. The attack was perhaps too rash, 
the opposition perhaps had too much the air 

^ Plato, in his younger days, had an inclination to poetiy, 
and made some attempts in tragedy and epic ; but finding them 
unable to bear a parallel with the verses of Homer, he threw 
them into the fire, and abjured that sort of writing, in which he 
was convinced he must always remain an inferior : however, the 
style of his prose has a poetical sweetness, majesty, and eleva- 
tion. Though he despaired of equalling Homer in his own 
way, yet he has nobly succeeded in another, and is justly 
esteemed the Homer of philosophers. Cicero was so great an 
admirer of him that he said, " If Jupiter conversed widi men, 
he would talk in the language of Plato." It was a common 
report in the age he lived, that bees dropped honey on his lips 
as he lay in the cradle. And it is said, that, the night before 
he was placed under die tuition of Socrates, the philosopher 
dreamed he had embraced a young swan in his bosom ; who, 
after his feathers were full grown, stretched out his wings, and 
soared to an immense height in the air, singing all the time 
with inexpressible sweetness. This shews at least what a great 
opinion they then entertained of his eloquence, since diey 
thought its appearance worthy to be ushered into the world 
with omens and prognostics. 


of enmity, but yet it could not fail of some 
advantage; for, as Hesiod says,* 

Such brave contention works the good of men. 

A greater prize than the glory and renown 
of the ancients can never be contended for, 
where victory crowns with never-dying ap- 
plause; when even a defeat, in such a com- 
petition, is attended with honour. 


If ever therefore we are engaged in a work 
which rec[uires a grandeur of style and ex- 
alted sentiments, would it not then be of use 
to raise in ourselves such reflections as these? 
— How in this case would Homer, or Plato, 
or Demosthenes, have raised their thoughts? 
Or if it be historical — how would Thucy- 
dides ? For these celebrated persons, being 
proposed by us for our pattern and imitation, 
will in some degree lift up our souls to the 
standard of their own genius. It will be yet 
of greater use, if to the preceding reflections 
we add these^ — What would Homer or De- 
mosthenes have thought of this piece? or 
what judgment would they have passed upon 

* Hesiod. in operibus et die bus, vcr. 24. 


it? It is really a noble enterprise, to frame 
such a theatre and tribunal, to sit on our own 
compositions, and submit them to a scrutiny, 
in which such celebrated heroes must preside 
as our judges, and be at the same time our 
evidence. There is yet another motive which 
may yield most powerful incitements, if we 
ask ourselves — What character will posterity 
form of this work, and of me, the author ?i 
For if any one, in the moments of composing, 
apprehends that his performance may not be 
able to survive him, the productions of a soul, 
whose views are so short and confined, that 
it cannot promise itself the esteem and ap- 
plause of succeeding ages, must needs be im- 
perfect and abortive. 


"^ Visions, which by some are called 
Images, contribute very much, my dearest 
youth, to the weights magnificence, and force 
of compositions. The name of an Image is 
generally given to any idea, however repre- 
sented in the mind, which is communicable 
to others by discourse ; but a more particu- 
lar sense of it has now prevailed : " When 


the imagination is so warmed and affected, 
that you seem to behold yourself the very 
things you are describing, and to display 
them to the life before the eyes of an au- 

You cannot be ignorant, that rhetorical 
and poetical images have a different intent. 
The design of a poetical image is surprise, 
that of a rhetorical is perspicuity. However, 
* to move and strike the imagination is a de- 
sign common to both. 

^ Pity thy offspring, mother, nor provoke 
Those vengeful Furies to torment thy son. 

^ Virgil refers to this passage in his fourth ^neid, ver. 470. 
Aut Agamemnonius scenis agitatus Orestes, 
Armatani facibus matrem et serpentibus atris 
Cum fugit, ultricesque sedent in limine Diris. 

Or mad Orestes when his mother's ghost 

r nil in his face infernal torches toss'd, 

And shook her snaky locks : he shuns the sight, 

Flies o'er the stage, surpris'd with mortal fri 

The Furies guard the door, and intercept his 


" There is not (says jNIr. Addison, Spectator, No. 421.) a 
sight in nature so mortifying as that of a distracted person, 
when his imagination is troubled, and his whole soul disordered 
and confused: Babylon in ruins is not so melancholy a spec- 

The distraction of Orestes, after the murder of his mother, 
is a fine representation in Euripides, because it ia natural. The 

sight, ^ 
right, V 

his flight. J 


What horrid sights! how glare their bloody eyes! 
How twistins; snakes curl round their venom'd heads! 

consciousness of what he has done is uppermost in his 
thoughts, disorders his fancy, and confounds his reason. He 
is strongly apprehensive of Divine vengeance, and the violence 
of his fears places the avenging furies before his eyes. When- 
ever the mind is harassed by the stings of conscience, or the 
horrors of guilt, the senses are liable to infinite delusions, and 
startle at hideous imaginary monsters. The poet, who can 
touch such incidents with happy dexterity, and paint such 
images of consternation, will infallibly work on the minds of 
others. This is what Longinus commends in Euripides ; and 
here it must be added, that no poet in this branch of writing 
can enter into a parallel with Shakespeare. 

When Macbeth is preparing for the murder of Duncan, his 
imagination is big with the attempt, and is quite upon the rack. 
Within, his soul is dismayed with the horror of so black an 
enterprise ; and every thing without looks dismal and affright- 
ing. His eyes rebel against his reason, and make him start at 
images that have no reality. — 

Is this a dagger which I see before me, 

The handle tow'rd my hand r come let me clutch thee ! 

I have thee not — and yet 1 see thee still. 

He then endeavours to summon his reason to his aid, and 
convince himself that it is mere chimera ; but in vain, the ter- 
ror stamped on his imagination will not be shaken off : 

1 see thee yet, in form as palpable .. . 

As this which now 1 draw. 

Here he makes a new attempt to reason himself out of the 
delusion, but it is quite too strong : — 

I see thee still. 

And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, 
Which was not so before. — There's no such thing. — • 


In deadly wmth the hissing monsters rise, 

Forward they spring, dart out, and leap around me.* 

And agjain : 

Alas !— she'll kill me !— whither shall I fly ?+ ' 

The delusion is described in so skilful a manner, that the 
audience cannot but share the consternation, and start at the 
visionary dagger. 

The genius of the poet will appear more surprising, if we 
consider how the horror is continually worked up, by the me- 
thod in which the perpetration of the murder is represented. 
The contrast between Macbeth and his wife is justly charac- 
terized, by the hard-hearted villany of the one, and the qualms 
of remorse in the other. The least noise, die very sound of 
their own voices, is shocking and frightful to both : 

Hark ! peace ! 

It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bell-man, 
Which gives the stern'st good-night — he is about it. — 

And again, immediately after, 

• Alack ! I am afraid they have awak'd, 

And 'tis not done: th' attempt, and not the deed, 
Confounds us. — Hark! — I laid their daggers ready, 
He could not miss them. 

The best way to commend it, as it deserves, would be to 
quote the whole scene. The fact is represented in the same 
affecting horror as would rise in the mind at sight of the actual 
commission. Every single image seems reality, and alarms r' 
the soul. They seize the whole attention, stiffen and benumb 
the sense, tiic very blood curdles and runs cold, through the 
strongest abhorrence and detestation of the crime. 

* Euripid. Orest. ver. 255. 

+ Euripid. Iphigen. Taur. ver, 408. 



The poet here actually saw the furies with 
the eyes of his imagination, and has com- , 
pelled his audience to see what he beheld 
himself. Euripides therefore has laboured 
very much in his tragedies to describe the 
two passions of madness and love, and has 
succeeded much better in these than (if I 
am not mistaken) in any other. Sometimes, 
indeed, he boldly aims at Images of different 
kinds. For though his genius was not natu- 
rally great, yet in many instances he even 
forced it up to the true spirit of tragedy ; 
and that he may always rise where his sub- 
ject demands it (to borrow an allusion from 
the Poet)* 

Lash'd by his tail his heaving sides incite 
His courage, and provoke himself for fight. 

The foregoing assertion is evident from that 
passage, where Sol delivers the reins of his 
chariot to Phaeton : 

~ Drive on, but cautious shun the Lybian air ; 
That hot unmoisten'd region of the sky 
Will drop thy chariot. f 

* Iliad. V. ver. 170. 

~ This passage, in all probability, is taken from a tragedy of 
Euripides, named Phaeton, which is entirely lost. Ovid had 

■f Two fiagmejits of Euripides. 


And a little after, 

Thence let the Pleiads point thy wary course. 

Thus spoke the god. " Th' impatient youth with haste 

certainly an eye to it in his Met. 1. ii. when he puts these lines 
into the mouth of Phoebus, resigning the chariot of the Sun 
to Phaiiton : — 

Zonarumque trium contentus fine, polumque 

Effugit australem, junctamque aquilonibus arcton: ' 

Ilac sit iter: manifesta rotoi vestigia cernes. 

Utque ferant itquos et coelum et terra calores, 

Nee preme, nee summum molire per aethera currum. 

Altius egressus, coelestia tecta cremabis ; 

Jnferius terras : medio tutissimus ibis. 

Drive 'em not on directly through the skies, 

But where the Zodiac's winding circle lies, 

Along the midmost Zone ; but sally forth, 

Nor to the distant South, nor stormy North, 

The horses' hoofs a beaten track will shew : 

But neither mount too high, nor sink too low ; 

That no new fires or heav'u or earth infest ; 

Keep the mid-way, the middle way is best. Addisori' 

The sublimity which Ovid here borrowed from Euripides 
he has diminished, almost vitiated, by flourishes. A sublimer 
image can no where be found than in the song of Deborah, 
after Sisera's defeat (J lulges, v. C8 — ), v\'here the vain-glorious 
boasts of Sisera's mother, when expecting his return, and, as 
she was confident, his victorious return, are described : 

** The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and cried 
through the lattice, Why is his chariot so long in coming ? why 
tarrv the wheels of his chariots ? Her wise ladies answered 


Snatches the reins, and vaults into the seat. 

He starts ; the coursers, whom the lashing whip 

Excites, outstrip the winds, and whirl the car 

High through the airy void. Behind, the sire, 

Borne on his planetary steed, pursues 

With eye intent, and warns him with his voice, 

Drive there I — now here ! — here ! turn the chariot here ! 

Who would not saj, that the soul of the 
poet mounted the chariot along with the 
rider, that it shared as well in danger as in ra- 
pidity of flight with the horses? For, had he 
not been hurried on with equal ardour through 
all this ethereal course, he could never have 
conceived so grand an image of it. There are 
some parallel Images in his ^ Cassandra : 

Ye martial Trojans, &c. .--.,, 

^schylus has made bold attempts in noble 
and truly heroic Images ; as, in one of his 
tragedies, the seven commanders against 
Thebes, without betraying the least sign of 
pity or regret, bind themselves by oath not 
to survive Eteocles : — 

her ; yea, she returned answer to herself: Have they not sped ? 
have they not divided the prey ? to every man a damsel or two ; 
to Sisera a prey of divers colours, a prey of divers colours of 
needle- work, of divers colours of needle-work on both sides, 
meet for the necks of them that take the spoil ?" — Dr. Pearce. 
' The Cassandra of Euripides is now entirely lost. 



* The seven, a warlike leader each in chief, 
Stood roumi ; and o'er the brazen shield tliey slew 
A sullen bull ; then plunging deep their hands 
Into the foaming gore, with oaths invok'd 
Mars, and Enyo, and blood-thirsting terror. 

■* The following Image in Milton is great and dreadful. 
The fallen angels, fired by the speech of their leader, are too 
violent to yield to his proposal in words, but assent in a man- 
ner that at once displays the art of the poet, gives the reader a 
terrible idea of the fallen angels, and imprints a dread and 
liorror on the mind : 

He spake; and to confirm his words, out flew 
Millions of flaming swords, drawn from the thighs 
Of mighty cherubim : the sudden blaze .-5^^ . -. 

Far round iliumiii'd hell ; highly they rag'd 
Against the Highest, and fierce with grasped arms 
Clash'd on their sounding shields the din of war, 
Hurling defiance tow'rd the vault of heav'n. . 't ' 

How vehemently does the fury of Northumberland exert 
itself in Shakespeare, when he hears of the death of his son 
Hotspur. The rage and distraction of the surviving father 
shews how important the son was in his opinion. Nothing 
njust be, now he is not: nature itself must fall with Percy. 
His grief renders him frantic, his anger desperate : 

Let heav'n kiss earth ! now let not nature's hand 
Keep the wild flood confin'd : let order die. 
And let this world no longer be a stage 
To feed contention in a ling'ring act : 
But let one spirit of the first-born Cain 
Reign in all bosoms, that each heart being set 
On bloody courses, the rude scene may end, 
And dailiies^ be llii' burier of the deatl. 


Sometimes, indeed, the thoughts of this 
author are too gross, rough, and unpolished ; 
yet Euripides himself, spurred on too fast by 
emulation, ventures even to the brink of like 
imperfections. In ^schylus the palace of 
Lycurgus is surprisingly affected by the sud- 
den appearance of Bacchus : 

The frantic dome and roaring roofs couvuls'd, 
Reel to and fro, instinct with rage divine. 

Euripides has the same thought, but he has 
turned it with much more softness and pro- 
priety : 

The vocal mount in agitation shakes,^ 
And echoes back the Bacchanalian cries. 

^ Tollius is of opinion, that Longinus blames neither the 
thought of Euripides nor jEschylus, but only the word 
/3a)c^£V£i, which, he says, has not so much sweetness, nor raises 
so nice an idea, as the word avfi(iaicx£V£i. Dr. Pearce thinks 
^schylus is censured for making the palace instinct with Bac- 
chanalian fury, to which Euripides has given a softer and 
sweeter turn, by making the mountain only reflect the cries of 
the Bacchanals. 

There is a daring image, with an expression of a harsh sound, 
on account of its antiquity, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, which 
may parallel that of iEschylus : 

She foul blasphemous speeches forth did cast. 
And bitter curses horrible to tell ; 
That ev'n the temple wherein she was plac'd. 
Did quake to hear, and nigh asunder brast. 

I 2 


Sophocles has succeeded nobly in his 
Images, when he describes his CEdipus in all 
the agonies of approaching death, and bury- 
ing himself in the midst of a prodigious tem- 
pest ; when he gives us a sight of the ^ appari- 

Milton shews a greater boldness of fiction than either Euri- 
pides or JEschylus, and tempers it with the utmost propriety, 
when, at Adam's eating the forbidden fruit, 

Earth trembled from her entrails, as again 

In pangs, and nature gave a second groan ; 

Sky lower'd, and mutt'ring thunder, some sad dnops 

Wept, at completing of the mortal sin. . ■ , , 

" The tragedy of Sophocles, where this apparition is de- 
scribed, is entirely lost. Dr. Pearce observes, that there is an 
unhappy imitation of it in the beginning of Seneca's Troades ; 
and another in Ovid. Metam. lib. xiii. 441. neat without spirit, 
and elegant without grandeur. 

Ghosts are very frequent in English tragedies ; but ghosts, 
as ■well as fairies, seem to be the peculiar province of Shake- 
speare. In such circles none but he could move with dignity. 
That in Hamlet is introduced with the utmost solemnity, awful 
throughout, and majestic. At the appearance of Banquo in 
Macbeth (Act 3. Sc. 5.) the Images are set off in the strongest 
expression, and strike the imagination with high degrees of 
horror, which is supported with surprising art through the 
whole scene. 

There is a fine touch of this nature in Job iv. 13. "^ In 
thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth 
on men, fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all 
my bones to shake : then a spirit passed before my face ; the 
hair of my flesh stood up. It stood still, but I could not dis- 


tion of Achilles upon his tomb, at the depart- 
ure of the Greeks from Troy. But I know 
not whether anyone has described that ap- 
parition more divinely than '' Simonides. To 
quote all these instances at large would be 

To return : Images in poetry are pushed to 
a fabulous excess, quite surpassing the bounds * 
of probability ; whereas in oratory, their 
beauty consists in the most exact propriety 
and nicest truth : and sublime excursions are 
absurd and impertinent, when mingled with^ 
fiction and fable, where fancy sallies out into 
direct impossibilities. Yet to excesses like 
these, our able orators (kind Heaven make 
them really such!) are very much addicted. 
With the tragedians, they behold the torment- 
ing furies, and with all their sagacity never 
find out, that when Orestes exclaims,* — 

cern the form thereof: an image — before mine eyes — silence 
— and I heard a voice, — Shall mortal man be more just than 
God?" &.C. &c. ■ ■■- ' ; - • " 

7 Simonides the Ceian was a celebrated poet. Cicero, de 
Orat. 1, 2. declares him the inventor of artificial memory : and 
Quinctilian, 1. x. c. 1. gives him this commendation as a poet : 
" His excellency lay in moving compassion, so that some 

prefer him in this particular before all other writers."- — 

Dr. Pearce. 

* Euripid. Orcst. V. -264. 


Loose me, thou fury, let me go, torment' ress : 
Close you embrace, to plunge me headlong down 
Into th' abyss of Tartarus 

the Image had seized his fancy, because the 
mad fit was upon him, and he was actually 

What then is the true use of Images in 
* Oratory? They are capable, in abundance of 
cases, to add both nerves and passion to our 
speeches. For if the Images be skilfully 
blended with the Proofs and Descriptions, 
they not only persuade, but subdue an au^ 
dience. " If any one (says a great orator*) 
should hear a sudden outcry before the tri- 
bunal, whilst another brings the news that the 
prison is burst open and the captives es- 
caped, no man, either young or old, would be 
of so abject a spirit as to deny his utmost assist- . 
ance. But if amongst this hurry and confu- 
sion another should arrive, and cry out. This 
is the Author of these disorders — the mi- 
serable accused, unjudged and unsentenced, 
would perish on the spot/' 

So Hyperides, when he was accused of pass- 
ing an illegal decree, for giving liberty to 
jjlaves, after the defeat of Chaeronea ; " It was 

J)cniu?th. C>rat. conUa I'itnoci. nun piocul a fine. 


not an orator," said he, " that made this de- 
cree, but the battle of Chceronea/' At the 
same time that he exhibits proofs of his legal 
proceedings, he intermixes an Image of the 
battle, and by that stroke of art, quite passes 
the bounds of mere persuasion. It is natural 
to us to hearken always to that which is ex- 
traordinary and surprising ; whence it is, that 
we regard not the Proof so much as the gran- 
deur and lustre of the Image, which quite ' 
eclipses the Proof itself. This bias of the mind 
has an easy solution ; since, when two such 
things are blended together, the stronger will 
attract to itself all the virtue and efficacy of 
the weaker. 

These observations will, I fancy, be suffi- 
cient, concerning that Sublime w hich he - 
longsto the Sense, and takes its rise either / 
from an Elevation of Thought, a choice and I 
connexion of proper Incidents, Amplifica- 
tion, Imitation, or Images. . . .,, 


PART 11. 

' The Pathetic, which the Author, Sect. viii. 
laid down for the second source of the Sub^ 
hme, is omitted here, because it was reserved 
for a distinct treatise. — See Sect. xHv. with 
the note. • > ? . ^ .. 

PART 111. 


•' \ The topic that comes next in order, is 
that of Figures ; for these, when judiciously 
used, conduce not a little to greatness. But 
since it would be tedious, if not infinite la- 
bour, exactly to describe all the species of 
them, I shall instance only some few of those 
which contribute most to the elevation of 
the style, on purpose to shew that we lay 
not a greater stress upon them than is really 
their due. 


Demosthenes is producing proofs of his 
upright behaviour whilst in pubKc employ. 
Now, which is the most natural method of 
doing this ? (" You were not in the wrong, 
Athenians, when you courageously ventured 
your lives in fighting for the liberty and safety 
of Greece, of which you have domestic illus- 
trious examples. For neither were they in 
the wrong who fought at Marathon, who 
fought at Salamis, who fought at Plataeae/') 
Demosthenes takes another course, and filled 
as it were with sudden inspiration, and trans- 
ported by a godlike warmth, he thunders out 
an oath by the champions of Greece ; " You 
were not in the wrong, no, you were not, I 
swear, by those noble souls, who were so 
lavish of their lives in the field of Marathon,"* 
&c. He seems, by this figurative manner of 
swearing, which I call an Apostrophe, to 
have deified their noble ancestors ; at the 
same time instructing them, that they ought 
to swear by persons, w^ho fell so gloriously, 
as by so many gods. He stamps into the 
breasts of his judges the generous principles 
of those applauded patriots; and by trans- 
ferring what was naturally a proof, into a 

* Oiat, dc Corona; p. 124. cd. Oxon. 


soaring strain of the Sublime and the Pa- 
thetic, strengthened by^ such a solemn, such 
an unusual and reputable oath, he instils that 
balm into their minds, which heals every 
painful reflection, and assuages the smart of 
misfortune. He breathes new life into them 
by his artful encomiums, and teaches them 
to set as great a value on their unsuccessful 
engagement with Philip, as on the victories 
of Marathon and Salamis. In short, by the 
sole application of this Figure, he violently 
seizes the favour and attention of his audi- 
ence, and compels them to acquiesce in 
the event, as they cannot blame the under- 

Some would insinuate, that the hint of this 
oath was taken from these lines of ^Eupolis: 

No ! by my labours in that glorious * field. 
Their joy shall not produce my discontent! 

' The observations on this oath are judicious and solid. 
But there is one iuliuitely more solemn and awful in Jeremiah 
xxii. 5. 

<* But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, 
saith the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation." — 
See Genesis xxii. \G. and Hebrews vi. 13. 

" Eupolis was an Athenian writer of comedy, of whom 
nothing remahis at present, but the renown of his name, — 
Dr. Pearce. 

* Marathon. 


^ But the grandeur consists not in the bare 
appHcation of an oath, but in applying it in 
the proper place, in a pertinent manner, at 
the exactest time, and for the strongest rea- 
sons. Yet in Eupolis there is nothing but 
an oath, and that addressed to the Athenians, 
at a time they were flushed with conquest, 
and consequently did not require consolation. 
Besides, the poet did not swear by heroes, 
whom he had before deified himself, and 
thereby raise sentiments in the audience 
worthy of such virtue ; but deviated from 
those illustrious souls, who ventured their lives 
for their country, to swear by an inanimate 
object, the battle. In Demosthenes, the 
oath is addressed to the vanquished, to the 
end that the defeat of Chaeronea may be no 
longer regarded by the Athenians as a mis- 
fortune. It is at one time a clear demon- 
stration that they had done their duty ; it 

^ This judgment is admirable, and Longinus alone says 
more than all the writers on rhetoric that ever examined this 
passage of Demosthenes. Quinctilian, indeed, was very sensi- 
ble of the ridiculousness of using oaths, if they were not ap- 
plied as happily as the orator has applied them ; but he has 
not at the same time laid open the defects, which Longinus 
evidently discoveis, in a bare examination of this oath in Eu- 
polis. — Dacier, 


gives occasion for an illustrious example; it 
is an oath artfully addressed, a just encomium 
and a moving exhortation. And whereas 
this objection might be thrown in his way, 
" You speak of a defeat partly occasioned 
b}^ your own ill conduct, and then you swear 
by those celebrated victories ;" the orator 
took care to weigh all his words in the ba- $/ 
lances of art, and thereby brings them off 
with security and honour. >^rrom which pru- 
dent conduct we may infer, that sobriety and 
moderation must be observed, in the warmest 
fits of fire and transport. In speaking of 
their ancestors, he says, " Those who so 
bravely exposed themselves to danger in the 
plains of Marathon, those who were in the 
naval engagements near Salamis and Arte- 
misium, and those who fought at Plata3ae;" 
industriously suppressing the very mention 
of the events of those battles, because they 
were successful, and quite opposite to that 
of Chaeronea. Upon which account he anti- 
cipates all objections, by immediately sub- 
joining, " all whom, iEschines, the city ho- 
noured with a public funeral, not because 
they purchased victory with their lives, but 
because they lost those for their country," 



I MUST not in this place, my friend, omit 
an observation of my own, which I will men- 
tion in the shortest manner : Figures na- 
turally impart assistance to, and on the other 
side receive it again, in a wonderful man- 
ner, from sublime sentiments. And I will 
now shew where, and by what means, this is 

A too frequent and elaborate application 
of Figures, carries with it a great suspicion 
of artifice, deceit, and fraud, especially when, 
in pleading, we speak before a judge, from 
whose sentence lies no appeal; and nmch 
more, if before a tyrant, a monarch, or any 
one invested with arbitrary power, or un- 
bounded authority. For he grows immedi- 
ately angry, if he thinks himself childishly 
amused, and attacked by the quirks and sub- 
tleties of a wily rhetorician. He regards the 
attempt as an insult and affront to his undcr- 
standino[, and sometimes breaks out into bit- 
ter indignation ; and though perhaps he may 
suppress his wrath, and stitle his resentments 
for the present, yet he is averse, nay even 


deaf, to the most plausible and persuasive 
arguments that can be alleged. AVherefore, ^ 
a Figure is then most dexterously applied,^ 
when it cannot be discerned that it is a 

Now a due mixture of the Sublime and / 
Pathetic very much increases the force, and 
removes the suspicion, that commonly attends 
on the use of Figures. -^For veiled, as it were, 
and wrapt up in such beauty and grandeur, 
they seem to disappear, and securely defy 
discovery. I cannot produce a better exam- 
ple to strengthen this assertion, than the pre- 
ceding from Demosthenes : " I swear by those 
noble souls," &c. For in what has the orator 
here concealed the Figure? Plainly, in its own^ 
lustre. For as the stars are quite dimmed 
and obscured, when the sun breaks out in^ 
all his blazing rays, so the artifices of rheto- 
ric are entirely overshadowed by the superior 
splendour of sublime thoughts. A parallel 
illustration may be drawn from painting : for 
when several colours of light and shade are 
drawn upon the same surface, those of light 
seem not only to rise out of the piece, but 
even to lie much nearer to the sight. So 
the Sublime and Pathetic, either by means 
of a great affinity they bear to the springs 


and movements of our souls, or by their own 
superlative lustre, always outshine the ad- 
jacent Figures, whose art they shadow, and 
whose appearance they cover, in a veil of su- 
perior beauties. 


What shall I say here of Question and 
Interrogation? *Is not discourse enlivened, 

^ Deborah's words, in the person of Sisera's mother, in- 
stanced above on another occasion, are also a noble example 
of the use of Interrogations. Nor can I in this place pass 
by a passage in the historical part of Scripture ; 1 mean the 
words of Christ, in this Figure of self-interrogation and an- 
swer : " What went ye out into the wilderness to see ? a reed 
shaken with the wind ? But what went ye out for to see? a 
man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft 
clothing, are in kings' houses. But what went ye out for to 
see ? a prophet ? yea, I say unto you, and more than a pro- 
phet." Matt. xi. 7—9. — Dr. Pearce. 

That the sense receives strength, as well as beauty, from 
this Figure, is no where so visible as in the poetical and pro- 
phetical parts of Scripture. Numberless instances might be 
easily produced ; and we are puzzled how to pitch on any in 
particular, amidst so fine variety, lest the choice might give 
room to call our judgment in question, for taking no notice of 
others, that perliaps are more remarkable. 

Any reader will observe, that there is a poetical air in the 


strengthened, and thrown, more forcibly along 
by this sort of Figure ? ^" Would you/' says 

predictions of Balaam in the 23d chapter of Numbers, and 
that there is particularly an uncommon grandeur in ver. IQ. 

" God is not a man, that he should lie, neither the son of 
man, that he should repent. Hath he said, and shall he not 
do it ? or, hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good r" 

W hat is the cause of this grandeur will immediately be 
seen, if the sense be preserved, and the words thrown out of 
interrogation : 

" God is not a man, that he should lie, neither the son of 
man, that he should repent. What he has said, he will do ; 
and what he has spoke, he will make good." 

The difference is so visible, that it is needless to enlarge 
upon it. 

How artfully does St. Paul, in Acts xxvi. transfer his dis- 
course from Festus to Agrippa. In ver. 26. he speaks of 
him in the third person. " The King (says he) knovveth of 

these things, before whom 1 also speak freely " Then . 

in the following he turns short upon him : " King Agrippa, 
believest thou the prophets r" and immediately after answers 
his own question, " I know that thou believest." The 
smoothest eloquence, the most insinuating complaisance, 
could never have made such impression on Agrippa, as this 
unexpected and pathetic address. 

To these instances may be added the whole 38th chapter 
of Job; where we behold the Almighty Creator expostulat- 
ing- with his creature, in terms which express at once the ma- 
jesty and perfection of the one, the meanness and frailty of 
the other. There we see how vastly useful the Figure of In- 
terrogation is, in giving us a lofty idea of the Deity, whilst 
every Question awes us into silence, and inspires a sense of 
our insufficiencv. 


Demosthenes,* *' go about the city, and de- 
mand what news ? What greater news can ^ 
there be, than that a Macedonian enslaves 
the Athenians, and lords it over Greece? Is 
Philip dead? No: but he is very sick. And 
what advantage w^ould accrue to you from / 
his death, when, as soon as his head is laid,y 
you yourselves will raise up another Philip?'* 
And again,f " Let us set sail for Macedonia. 
But where shall we land? ^The very war will 
discover to us the rotten and un2;uarded sides 
of Philip." Had this been uttered simply 
and without Interrogation, it would have 
fallen vastly short of the majesty requisite to 
the subject in debate. But as it is, the energy 
and rapidity that appears in every question 
and answer, and the quick replies to his own 
demands, as if they were the objections of 
another person, not only renders his oration*^ 
more sublime and lofty, but more plausible 
and probable. For the Pathetic then works 
the most surprising effects upon us, when it 

* Demosth. Philip, lina. -f Ibid. 

- Here are two words in the original, which are omitted in 
the translation ; ijpero rtc, somebody may demand; but they 
manifestly debase the beauty of the figure. Dr. Pearce has 
an ingenious conjecture, that, having been sometime set as 
marginal explanations, they crept insensibly into the text. 



^ seems not fitted to the subject bj the skill of 
the speaker, but to flow opportunely from it. 
And this method of questioning and answer- 

\ing to one's self, imitates the quick emotions 
of a passion in its birth. ^ For in common 
conversation, when people are questioned, 

i they are warmed at once, and answer the de- 
mands put to them with earnestness and 
truth. ^And thus this Figure of Question and 
Answer is of wonderful efficacy in prevailing 
upon the hearer, and imposing on him a be- 
lief, that those things, which are studied and 
laboured, are uttered without premeditation, 
in the heat and fluency of discourse. — [What 
follows here is the beginning of a sentence 
now maimed and imperfect, but it is evident, 
from the few words yet remaining, that the 
Author was going to add another instance of 
the use of this Figure from Herodotus.] * * 

**4«:* * * * ^ * * * 

#:» * * * # •* * * ^ ^ 


* * # * * * |-rp|^g beginning of this 
Section is lost, but the sense is easily sup- 
plied from what immediately follows.] An- 


Other great help in attaining grandeur, is ba- 
nishing the Copulatives at a proper season. 
For sentences, artfully divested of Conjunc- 
tions, drop smoothly down, and the periodsi, 
are poured along in such a manner, that they 
seem to outstrip the very thought of the 
speaker. ^ " Then (says Xenophon*) closing 

*"The want of a scrupulous connexion draws tilings into a 
lesser compass, and adds the greater spirit and emotion. — For . 
the more rays are collected in a point, the more vigorous is the 
flame. Hence there is yet greater emphasis, when the rout of 
an army is shewn in the same contracted manner, as in the 
24th of the Odyssey, 1. 6lO, which has some resemblance to 
Sallust's description of the same thing, agreeable to his usual 
conciseness, in these four words only, sequi^ fugere, occidi, 
capi.'^ — Essat/ on the Odj/ssei/, p. 2d, 1 IS. 

Voltaire has endeavoured to shew the huny and confusion 
of a battle, in the same manner, in the Henriade. Chant. 6. 

Francois, Anglois, Lorrains, que la fureur assemble, 

Avancoient, combattoient, frappoient, mouroient ensemble. 

The hurry and distraction of Dido's spirits, at iEneas's de- 
parture, is visible from the abrupt and precipitate manner in 
which she commands her servants to endeavour to stop him : 


Ferte citi flammas, date vela, impellite remos. 

jEneid. II. • 

Haste, haul my galleys out ; pursue the foe ; 
Bring flaming brands, set sail, and quickly row. 


* Rerum Grsec. p. 219. ed. Oxon. et in Orat. de Agesil. 
K 2 


their shields together, they were pushed, they 
fought, they slew, they were slain." So Eu- 
rylochus in Homer :* 

We went, Ulysses ! (such was thy command) 
Through the lone thicket, and the desert land ; 
' ' 1 A palace m a woody vale we found. 

Brown with dark forests, and with shades around. 

Mr. Pope. 

For words of this sort dissevered from one 
another, and yet uttered at the same time 
with precipitation, carry with them the energy 
and marks of a consternation, which at once 
restrains and accelerates the words. So skil- 
fully has Homer rejected the Conjunctions. 


^ But nothing so effectually moves, as a 
heap of Figures combined together. ^ For 

* Odyss. K. ver. 251. 

^ Amongst the various and beautiful instances of an assem- 
blage of figures, which may be produced, and which so fre- 
quently occur in the best writings, one, I believe, has hitherto 
not been taken notice of; I mean the four last verses of the 
24th Psalm. 

** Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye ever- 
lasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in. Who is 


when two or three are linked together in firm 
confederacy, they communicate strength, , 
efficacy, and beauty to one another. So in 
Demosthenes' oration* against Midias, the 
Asyndetons are blended and mixed together 
with the repetitions and lively description. 
" There are several turns in the gesture, in the 
look, in the voice of the man, who does vio- 
lence to another, which it is impossible for 
the party that suffers such violence, to ex- 
press.'' And that the course of his oration 
might not languish or grow dull by a further 
progress in the same track (for calmness and 
sedateness attend always upon order, but the 
Pathetic always rejects order, because it 
throws the soul into transport and emotion), 
he passes immediately to new Asyndetons 

the King of glory ? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord 
mighty in battles. Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye 
lift up, ye-^everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come 
in. Who is the King of glory ? The Lord of hosts : he is 
the King of glory !" 

There are innumerable instances of this kind in the poetical 
partsof Scripture, particularly in the Songof Deborah (Judges, 
chap. V.) and the Lamentation of David over Saul and Jona- 
than, (2 Samuel, chap, i.) There is scarce one thought in 
them, which is not figured ; nor one Figure which is not beau- 

* Pag. 337. ed. Par. ; >. :" 'd' 


and fresh repetitions " in the gesture, in 

the look, in the voice — when hke a ruffian, 
when Hke an enemy, when with his fist, when 
on the face." — The effect of these words upon 
his judges, is that of the blows of him who 
made the assault ; the strokes fall thick upon 
one another, and their very souls are subdued 
by so violent an attack. Afterwards, he 
charges again with all the force and impetuo- 
sity of hurricanes : " AVhen with his fist, 
when on the face/' — " These things affect, 
these things exasperate men unused to such 
outrages. Nobody, in giving a recital of 
these things, can express the heinousness of 
them.'' By frequent variation, he every 
where preserves the natural force of his Repe- 
titions and Asyndetons, so that with him order 
seems always disordered, and disorder carries 
with it a surprising regularity. 


To illustrate the foregoing observation, let 

us imitate the style of Isocrates, and insert 

the Copulatives in this passage, wherever they 

may seem requisite. " Nor indeed is one 

obs ervation to be omitted, that he who com- 


mits violence on another, may do many 
things, SfC— first in his gesture, then in his 
countenance, and thirdlif in his voice, which," 
cj-c. And if you proceed to insert the Con- 
junctions, ^you will find, that, by smoothing 
the roughness, and filling up the breaks by 
such additions, what was before forcibly, sur- 
prisingly, irresistibly pathetical, will lose all 
its energy and spirit, will have all its fire im- 
mediately extinguished. To bind the limbs 
of racers, is to deprive them of active motion 
and the power of stretching. In like manner, 
the Pathetic, when embarrassed and entan- 
gled in the bonds of Copulatives, cannot sub- 
sist without difificulty. It is quite deprived 
of liberty in its race, and divested of that 
impetuosity, by which it strikes the very in- 
stant it is discharged. 

* No writer ever made a less use of Copulatives than St. 
Paul. His thoughts poured in so fast upon him, that he had 
no leisure to knit them together, by the help of particles, but 
has by that means given them weight, spirit, energy, and strong 
significance. An instance of it may be seen in 2 Corinth, 
chap. vi. From ver. 4, to 10, is but one sentence, of near 
thirty different members, which are all detached from one an- 
other ; and if the Copulatives be inserted after the Isocratean 
manner, the strength will be quite impaired, and the sedate 
grandeur of the whole grow flat and heavy. 



Hy PER BATONS also are to be ranked 
among the serviceable Figures. An Hyper- ^ 
baton ^ is a transposing of words or thoughts 

^ Virgil is very happy in his application of this Figure. 

Moriamur, et in media arma ruainus. 

jEiieid. I. ii. ver. 348. 
And again, 

Me, me, adsum qui feci, in me convertiteferrum. 

Id. lib. ix. ver. 4'27. 

In both these instances, the words are removed out of their 
right order into an irregular disposition, which is a natural con- 
sequence of disorder in the mind. — Dr Pcarce. 

There is a fine Hyperbaton in the 5 th book of Paradise Lost; 
Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet. 
With charm of earliest birds : pleasant the sun. 
When first on this delightful land he spreads 
His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flow'r, 
Glist'ring with dew: fragrant the fertile earth 
After soft show'rs : and sweet the coming on 
Of grateful evening mild: then silent night, 
With this her solemn bird, and this fair moon, 
And these the gems of heav'n, her starry train. 
But neither breath of morn, when she ascends, 
With charms of earliest birds : nor herb, fruit, flowV, 
Glist'ring with dew : nor fragrance after show'rs : 
Nor grateful ev'ning mild : nor silent night. 
With this her solemn biid: nor walk by noon. 
Or glitt'riiig starlight, without thee is sweet. 


out of their natural and grammatical order, 
and it is a figure stamped as it were with the^ 
truest image of a most forcible passion.^ 
When men are actuated eitlier by wrath, or 
fear, or indignation, or jealousy, or any of 
those numberless passions incident to the 
mind, which cannot be reckoned up, thej 
fluctuate here, and there, and every where ; 
are still upon forming new resolutions, and 
breakin2[ throuoh measures before concerted, 
without any apparent reason : still unfixed 
and undetermined, their thoughts are in per- 
petual hurry; till, tossed as it w^ere by some 
unstable blast, they sometimes return to their 
first resolution: so thatjfby this flux, and re- ^^ 
flux of passion, thcj alter their thoughts,^ u 
their language, and their manner of expres- / 
sion, a thousand times. Hence it comes to \ 
pass, that^ an imitation of these transposi- j 

- Longinus here, in explaining the nature of theHyperbaton, 
and again in the close of the Section, has made use of an Fly- 
perbaton, or (to speak more truly) of a certain confused and 
more extensive compass of a sentence. Whether he did this 
by accident, or design, I cainiot determine; though Le Fevre 
thinks it a piece of art in the Author in order to adapt the dic- 
tion to the subject. — Dr. Pearce. 

^ This tine remark may be illustrated by a celebrated passage 
in Shakespeaie's Hamlet, where tlic poet's art has hit ofl ihe 


tions gives the most celebrated writers the 

\ greatest resemblance of the inward workings 

of nature. For art may then be termed per- 

strongest and most exact resemblance of nature. The beha- 
Tiour of his mother makes such impression on the young prince^ 
that his mii'.d is big with abhorrence of it, but expressions fail 
him. He begins abruptly ; but as refieclions crowd thick up- 
on his mind, he runs off into commendations of his father. 
Some time after his thoughts turn agahi on that action of his 
mother, which had raised his resentments, but he only touches 
it, and flies oft' again. In short, he takes up nineteen lines in 
telling us, that his mother married again in less than two months 
after her husband's death : — 

But two months dead ! nay not so much, not two 

So excellent a king, that was to this 

Hyperion to a satyr : so loving to my mother, 

That he permitted not the winds of heav'n 

Visit her face too roughly! Heav'n and earth? 

INIust 1 remember ? — why, she would hang on him, 

As if iucreiise of appetite had grown 

By what it fed on : yet within a month — 

Let me not think — ^Frailty, ihy name is woman! — 

A little mouth — or ere those shoes were old, 

^\ ilh which she follow 'd my poor father's body. 

Like Niobe, all tears — why she, ev'n she • 

Oh Heav'n I a beast that wants discourse of reason, 

WouUl have mourn'd longer — married with mine uncle. 

My father's brother ; but no more like my father. 

Than I to Hercules ! Within a nn)uth ! 

Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears 

Had left the flushing of her galled eyes, ' 

Shcmanied! Oh most wicked speed! • . 


feet and consummate, when it seems to be^ 
natm-e; and nature then succeeds best, when 
she conceals what assistance she receives 
from art. 

In Herodotus,* Dionysius the Phocean 
speaks thus in a Transposition : " For our 
aftairs are come to their crisis; now is the 
important moment, lonians, to secure your 
liberty, or to undergo that cruelt}^ and op- 
pression which is the portion of slaves, nay, 
fugitive slaves. Submit yourselves then to 
toil and labour for the present. This Un\ and 
labour will be of no long continuance : it will 
defeat your enemies, and guard your free- 
dom.'' The natural order was this : " O lo- 
nians, now is the time to submit to toil and 
labour, for your affairs are come to their 
crisis,'' <^^c. But as he transposed the saluta- 
tion, lonians, and after having thrown them 
into consternation, subjoins it; it seems as if 
fright had hindered him, at setting out, from 
paying due civility to his audience. In the 
next place, he inverts the order of the thoughts. 
Before he exhorts them to " submit to toil and 
labour," (for that is the end of his exhorta- 
tion) he mentions the reason why labour and 

* Herod. I. (i.e. 11. ' - - - >•* 


toil must be undergone. " Your affairs (says 
he) are come to their crisis,'' — so that his 
words seem not premeditated, but to be 
forced unavoidably from him. 

But Thucydides is still more of a perfect 
master in that surprising dexterity of trans- 
posing and inverting the order of those 
things, which seem naturally united and in- 
separable. Demostliencs, indeed, attempts not 
this so often as Tlmcydides, yet he is more 
disci eetly liberal of this kind of Figure than 
any other writer. .^He seems to invert the 

*The eloquence of St. Paul, in most of his speeches and 
argumentations, bears a very great resemblance to that of De- 
mosthenes, as described in this Section by Longinus. Some 
important point being always uppermost in his view, he often 
leaves his subject, and flies from it with brave irregularity, and 
as unexpectedly agam returns to his subject, when one would 
imagine that he had entirely lost sight of it. For instance, in his 
defence before Kshg Agrippa, Acts, chap. xxvi. when, in order 
tj wipe off the aspersions thrown upon him by the Jews, that 
"he was a tuibuleiit and seditious person," he sets out with 
clearuig his character, proving the integrity of his morals, and 
his inoti'eujrive unblameable behaviour, as one who hoped, by 
those means, to aliain that happiness of another life, for which 
the "twelve tribes served God continually in the temple ;" on 
a sudden lu; drops the continuation of his defence, and cries out, 
*' Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that 
God should raise the dead?" It nnglit be reasonably expected, 
that this would be the end of his argument; but by flying to 


very order of his discourse, and, what is more, 
to utter every thing extempore ; so that by 
means of his long Transpositions he drags his 
readers along^, and conducts them throusih all , 
the intricate mazes of his discourse : frequent- 
ly arresting his thoughts in the midst of their I 
career, he makes excursions into different sub- 
jects, and intermingles several seemingly un- ] 
necessary incidents : by this means he gives ^^ 
his audience a kind of anxiety, as if he had 
lost his subject, and forgotten what he was 
about ; and so strongly engages their concern,) 
that they tremble for, and bear their share in, 
the dangers of the speaker : at length, after 
a long ramble, he very pertinently, but un- 
expectedly, returns to his subject, and raises 
the surprise and admiration of all, by these 
daring, but happy Transpositions. The plenty 
of examples, which every where occur in his 
orations, will be my excuse for giving no par- 
ticular instance. 

it, in so quick and unexpected a transition, he catches his au- 
dience before they are aware, and strikes dumb his enemies, 
though they will not be convinced. And this point being once 
carried, he comes about again as unexpectedly, by, " I verily 
thought," &c. and goes on with his defence, till it brings him 
again to the same point of tlie resurrection, in ver. 23. 



Those Figures, which are called ^ Pol vp- 
totes, as also ^Collections, ^Changes, and 

* " Polyptotes."] Longinus gives no instance of this Figure: 
but one may be produced from Cicero's oration for Citlius^ 
where he says, " We will contend with arguments, we will 
refute accusations by evidences brighter than light itself : fact 
shall engage with fact, cause with cause, reason with reason." 
To which may be added that of Virgil, iEn. lib. x. ver. 36l. 
— H'jeretpede pes, densusque viro vir. — 

Dr. Pearce. 

^2 « Collections."] The orator makes use of this Figure, 
when, instead of the \\ hole of a thing, he numbers up all its 
particulars : of which we have an instance in Cicero's oration 
for Mavcellus : " The centurion has no share in this honour, 
the lieutenant none, the cohort none, the troop none." If Ci- 
cero had said, " The soldiers have no share in this honour," 
this would have declared his meaning, but not the force of the 
speaker. See also Quinctilian, Instit. Orat. 1. viii. c. 2. de 
congerie verborum ac senteutiarum idem significantium. — 
Dr. Pearce. 

' " Changes."] Quinctilian gives an instance of this Figure, 
Instit. Orat. 1. ix. c. 3, from Cicero's oration for Sex. Ros- 
cius : '' For though he is master of so much art, as to seem 
the only person alive who is lit to appear upon the stage; yet 
he is possessed of such noble qualities, that he seems to be the 
only man alive w ho may seem worthy never to appear there."- — 
Dr. Pearce. 


* Gradations, are (as you know, my friend) 
well adapted to emotion, and serviceable in 
adorning, and rendering what we say, in all 
respects, more grand and affecting. And to 
what an amazing degree do '^ Changes either 
of Time, Case, Person, Number, Gender, di- 
versify and enliven the style ! 

As to Change of Numbers, I assert, that in 
words singular in form may be discerned all»^ 
the vigour and efficacy of plurals, and that 
such singulars are highly ornamental. 

^ Along the shores an endless crowd appear, 
Whose noise, and din, and shouts, confound the ear. 

* " Gradations,"] There is an instance of this Figure in 
Rom. V. It is continued throughout tlie chapter, but llie 
branches of the latter part appear not plainly, because of the 
Transpositions. It begins ver. 1. " Therefore being justified 
by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus 
Christ, By whom also we have access by faith into this grace 
wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also, knowing 
that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; 
and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed; be- 
cause," &c. &c. 

* Changes of Case and Gender fall not under the district of 
the Enghsh tongue. On those of Time, Person, and Number, 
Longinus enlarges in the sequel, 

^Tlie beauty of this Figure will, I fear, be lost in the transla- 
tion. But it must be observed, that the word croze d, is of the 
singular, and appear, of the plural number. Allowance must 


Hut plurals are most worthy of remark, be- 
cause they impart a greater magnificence to 
the style, and by the copiousness of number 
give it more emphasis and grace. So the words 
of CEdipus in Sophocles ;'* 

Oh ! nuptials, nuptials ! 

You first produc'd, and since our fi'tal birth 
Have mix'd our blood, and ail our race confounded. 
Blended in horrid and incestuous bonds ! 
/ See! fathers, brothers, sons, a dire alliance! 
See! sisters, wives, and mothers! all the names 
That e'er from lust or incest could arise. 

All these terms denote on the one side 
CEdipus only, and on the other Jocasta. But 
the number thrown into the plural, seems to 
multiply the misfortunes of that unfortunate 
pair. So another poet has made use of the 
same method of increase, 

Then Hectors and Sarpedons issued forth. 

Of this Figure is that expression of Plato 
concerning the Athenians, quoted by me in 
my other writings. " For neither do the 
Pelops's, nor the Cadmus's, nor the iEgyp- 

be made in such cases; for when the genius of another lan- 
guage will not retain it, the original beauty must unavoida- 
bly fly off. 

* (Edip. Tyran. ver. 1417. 


tus's, nor the Danaus's, dwell here with us, 
nor indeed any others of barbarous descent ; 
but we ourselves, Grecians entirely, not hav- 
ing our blood debased by barbarian mix- 
tures, dwell here alone,^' &c. *When the, 
words are thus confusedly thrown into mul- 
titudes, one upon another, they excite in us 
greater and more elevated ideas of things. 
Tet recourse is not to be had to this Figure 
on all occasions, but then only when the sub- 
ject will admit of an Amplification, an En- 
largement, Hyperbole, or Passion, either one 
or more. — '' For to hang such trappings to 
every passage is highly pedantic./ 

* Plato in Menexeno, p. 245. ed. Par. 

'' " For to hang such trappings," 8cc.] I have given this 
passage such a turn as, I liope, will clear the meaning to an 
English reader. The literal translation is, " For hanging the 
bells every where savours too much of the sophist or pedant." 
The metaphor is borrowed from a custom among the ancients, 
who, at public games and concourses, were used to hang little 
bells (K(i)C(t)yag) on the bridles and trapping of their horses, that 
their continual chiming might add pomp to the solemnity. 

The robe or ephod of the high-priest, in the Mosaic dispen- 
sation, had this ornament of bells, though another reason, be- 
sides the pomp and dignity of the sound, is alleged for it in 
Exodus xxviii. 33. 



\ On the contrary also, plurals reduced and 
contradicted into singulars, have sometimes 
much grandeur and magnificence. ^ " Be- 
sides, all Peloponnesus was at that time rent 
into factions.''* And, " At the representa- 
tion of Phrynicus's tragedy, called. The Siege 
of Miletus, ^ the whole theatre was melted 

1 " Besides, all Peloponnesus.''] Instead of, " all the in- 
habitants of Peloponnesus were at that time rent into factions." 

St. Paul makes use of this figure, jointly with a change of 
person, on several occasions, and with different views. In 
Rom, vii. to avoid the direct charge of disobedience on the 
whole body of the Jews, he transfers the discourse into the 
first person, and so charges the insufficiency and frailty of all 
his countryrcen on himself, to guard against the invidiousness 
which an open accusation might have drawn upon him. See 
ver. 9—25. 

* Demosth. Orat. de Corona, p. 17. ed. Oxon. 

= " The whole theatre."] Instead of, " all the people in 
the theatre." Miletus was a city of Ionia, which the Per- 
sians besieged and took. Phrynicus, a tragic poet, brought 
a play on the stage about the demolition of this city. But the 
Athenians (as Herodotus informs us) fined him a thousand 
drachm®, for ripping open afresh their domestic sores ; and 
published an edict, that no one should ever after write on that 
subject.^ Dr. Pearce, 

Shakespeare makes a noble use of this Figure, in the fol- 


into tears/'* For uniting thus one complete, 
number out of several distinct, renders a dis- 
course more nervous and solid. But the 
beauty, in each of these figures, arises from 
the same cause, which is the unexpected 
change of a word into its opposite number! 
For when singulars occur unexpectedly to 
multiply them into plurals, and by a sudden 
and unforeseen change, to contract plurals 
into one singular sounding and emphatical, 
is the mark of a pathetic speaker. 


When you introduce things past as actu- ^ 
ally present, and in the moment of action, you 
no longer relate, but display, the very action 

lowing lines from his Antony and Cleopatra, though in the 
close, there is a very strong dash of the Hyperbole : 

The city cast 

Her people out upon her, and Antony 

Enthron'd i'lh' market-place, did sit alone 

Whistling to th' air; which but for vacancy, • m ''^ 

Had gone to gaze on Cleopatra too, ■'' ■"'' '>'^^- 

And made a gap in nature. • '*A • '-'^'t ->•' i ' 

* Herod. 1. 6. c. 21. .yj : - . .' .-n.-y -'' 



before the eyes of your readers. " * A soldier 
(says Xenophon*) falls down under Cyrus's 
horse, and being trampled under foot, wounds 
him in the belly with his sword. The horse, 
impatient of the wound, flings about, and 
throws off Cyrus. He falls to the ground/' 
Thucy dides very frequently makes use of this 
Figure. - v- , _. 


Change of persons has also a wonderful 
effect, in setting the very things before our 
eyes, and making the hearer think himself 
actually present and concerned in dangers. 

» So Virgil, ^n. 1. xi. ver. 637. 
Orsilochus Romuli, quando ipsum horrebat adire, 
Hastam intorsit equo, ferrumque sub aure reliquit. 
Quo sonipes ictu furit aiduus, altaque jactat 
Vulneris impatiens adrecto pectore crura. 
Volvitur ille excussus humi. 

By making use of the present tense, Virgil makes the reader 
see almost with his eyes, the wound of the horse, and the fall 
of the warrior. D7\ Pearce. 

* Xenophon de Cyri fnstitut. I. 7. .^ * 


when he is only attentive to a recital of 

No force could vanquish them, thou would'st have thought, 
No toil fatigue, so furiously they fought.* 

And so x^ratusj-j- 

O put not thou to sea in that sad month ! * 

And this passage of Herodotus :J " You shall 
sail upwards from the city Elephantina, and 
at length you Avill arrive upon a level coast. 
— After you have travelled over this tract of 
land, you shall go on board another ship, and 
sail two days, and then you will arrive at a 
great city, called Meroe." You see, my 

* IHad. 0. ver. 698. f Arati Phaenom. ver. 287. 

^ Virgil supplies another instance of the efficacy of this 

figure, in the ^n. 1. viii. ver. 689- 

...It -k 

Una omnes ruere, ac totum spumare reductis 
Convolsum remis rostrisque tridentibus zequor. 
Alta petunt: pelago credas innare revolsas ' - -"• ' 

Cycladas, aut montes concurrere montibus altos, • ' 

The allusions in the last two lines prodigiously heighten and 
exalt the subject. So Tasso describes the horror of a battle 
very pompously, in his Gierusalemme Liberata. Canto 9no. 

L'horror, la crudelta, la tema, il lutto 

Van d'intorno scorrendo : et in varia imago 

Vincitrice la morte errar per tutto 

Vedresti, et andeggiar di sangue un lago. ^ 

X Herod. 1. «2. c. 29. , v ,«.. 


friend, how he carries your imagination along 
with him in this excursion ! how he conducts 
it through the different scenes, making even 
hearing sight ! And all such passages, di- 
rectly addressed to the hearers, make them 
fancy themselves actually present in every 
occurrence. But when you address your dis- 
course, not in general to all, but to one in 
particular, as here,* 

" You could not see, so tierce Tydides rag'd, 

Whether for Greece or Ilion he engag'd 

' Mr. Pope. 

\ By this address, you not only strike more 
upon his passions, but fill him with a more 
earnest attention, and a more anxious impa- 
tience for the event. 

* Iliad. £. ver. 85. 

2 Solomon's words, in Prov. viii. 34, bear some resem- 
blance, in the Transition, to this instance from Homer: " She 
crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in of 
the doors — Unto you, O men, 1 call, and my voice is to the 
sons of men." — Dr. Pearce. 

There is also an example of it in St. Luke, v. 14. " And 

he commanded him to tell no man, but Go, shew thyself 

to the priest." 

And another more remarkable, in Psalm cxxviii. 2. " Bless- 
ed are all they that fear the Lord, and walk in his ways — For 
thou shalt eat the labour of thy hands. Oh ! well is thee, 
and happy shalt thou be !" 



Sometimes when a writer is saying any 
thing of a person, he brings him in, by a sud- 
den Transition, to speak for himself. This fi- 
gure produces a vehement and lively Pathetic. 

^ Now Hector, with loud voice, renew'd their toils, 
Bade them assault the ships and leave the spoils ; 
But whom I lind at distance from the fleet, 
He from this vengeful arm his death shall meet,* 

That part of the narration, which he could 

^ There is a celebrated and masterly transition of this kind, 
in the 4th book of Milton's Paradise Lost. 

Thus at their shady lodge arriv'd, both stood, ■-- ^ .^ 
Both turn'd, and under open sky ador'd 
The God that made both sky, air, earth, and heav'n, _' 
Which they beheld, the moon's resplendent globe 
And starry pole — Thou also mad'st the night, ^ ' 
Maker omnipotent, and thou the day, >, , ' ; ' 

Mr. Addison observes, ^^ That most of the modern heroic 
poets have imitated the ancients, in beginning a speech, with- 
out premising that the person said thus, or thus ; but as it is 
easy to imitate the ancients in the omission of two or three 
words, it requires judgment to do it in such a manner as they 
shall not be missed, and that the speech may begin naturally 
without them." Spectator, No. 321. 

* Iliad, o. ver. 346. ■ . 


go through with decently, the poet here as- 
sumes to himself, but, without any previous 
notice, claps this abrupt menace into the 
mouth of his angry hero. How flat must it 
have sounded, had he stopped to put in, 
Hector spoke thus, or thus? But now the 
quickness of the Transition outstrips the very 
thought of the poet. 

Upon which account this figure is then 
most seasonably applied, when the pressing- 
exigency of time will not admit of any stop 
or delay, but even enforces a transition from 
persons to persons, as in this passage of ^He- 
cataeus : " Ceyx, very much troubled at these 
proceedings, immediately commanded all the 
descendants of the Heraclidse to depart his 
territories — For I am unable to assist you. 
To prevent therefore your own destruction, 
and not to involve me in yovn* ruin, go seek a 
retreat amongst another people." 

^ Demosthenes has made use of this Figure 

' " Hecatzeus,"] He means Hecataeus the Milesian, tl^e 
first of the historians, according to Suidas, who wrote in 
prose. — Laugbaiiie. 

' " Demosthenes has made use," &c.] Reading here in the 
original ov instead of o, a very small alteration due to the sa- 
gacity of Dr. Tonstal, clearly preserves the sense. For un- 
doubtedly Demosthenes makes use of a Transition in the 


in a different manner, and with much more 
passion and volubihtj, in his oration against 
Aristogiton :* " And shall not one among you 
boil with wrath, when the iniquity of this in- 
solent and profligate wretch is laid before 
your eyes ? This insolent wretch, I say, who 

^Thou most abandoned creature ! when 

excluded the liberty of speaking, not by bars 
or gates, for these indeed some other might 
have burst/' — The thought is here left imper- 
fect and unfinished, and he almost tears his 
words asunder to address them at once to dif- 
ferent persons ; " Who — Thou most aban- 
doned creature !" Having diverted his dis- 
course from Aristogiton, and seemingly left 
him, he turns again upon him, ^and attacks 

same manner with Homer and Hecatieus. I would therefore 
translate it thus — " Demosthenes hath also made use of this 
figure, not truly in a different manner, but with much more 
passion and volubility." 

* Oral, prima in Aristog. p. 486. ed. Paris. 

* " And attacks him afresh," &c.] This figure is very art- 
fully used by St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans. His 
drift is to shew, that the Jews were not the people of God, 
exclusive of the gentiles, and had no more reason than they, 
to form such high pretensions, since they had been equally 
guilty of violating the moral law of God, which was antece- 
dent to the Mosaic, and of eternal obligation. Yet, not to 
exasperate the Jews at setting out, and so render them averse 


him afresh with more violent strokes of heat 
and passion. So Penelope in Homer,* 

^ The lordly suitors send ! But why must you 
Bring; baneful mandates from that odious crew ? 

to all the arguments he might afterwards produce, he begins 
with the gentiles, and gives a black catalogue of all their vices, 
which (in reality were, as well as) appeared excessively heinous 
in the eyes of the Jews, till, in the beginning of the second 
chapter, he unexpectedly turns upon them with, " Therefore 
thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art, that judg- 
est," ver. 1. and again, ver. 3. "And thinkest thou this, O 
man, that judgest them which do such things, and dost the 
same, that thou shall escape the judgment of God?'' &c.&c. 
If the whole be read with attention, the apostle's art will be 
found surprising, his eloquence will appear grand, his strokes 
cutting, the attacks he makes on the Jews successive, and 
rising in their strength. 

* Odyss. c. ver. 68 1 . 

^ In these verses Penelope, after she had spoken of the suit- 
ors in the third person, seems on a sudden exasperated at their 
proceedings, and addresses her discourse to them as if they 
were present. 

Why thus, ungen'rous men, devour my son? &c. 

To which passage in Homer, one in Virgil bears great re- 
semblance, iEn. iii. ver. 708. 

Hie pelagi tot tempestatibus actus, 

Heu ! genitorem, omnis cura? casusque levamen, 
Amitto Anchisen ; hie me, pater optima, fessum 
Deseris, heu ! tantis nequicquam erepte periclis. 
As does a passage also in the poetical book of Job, chap, 
xvi. ver. 7, where, after he had said of God, " But now he hath 


What ! must the faithful servants of my lord 

Forego their tasks for them to crown the board? 

1 scorn their love, and I detest their sight ; 

And may they share their last of feasts to-night ! • 

Why thus, uugen'rous men, devour my son ? 

Why riot thus, till he be quite undone ? - 

Heedless of him, yet timely hence retire, 

And fear the vengeance of his awful sire. 

Did not your fathers oft his might commend? 

And children you the wondrous tale attend ? 

That injur'd hero you return'd may see, 

Think what he was, and dread what he may be. 


That a Periphrasis (or Circumlocution) is^ 
a cause of Sublimity, nobody, I think, can 
deny. For as in music an important word 
is rendered more sweet, by the divisions 
which are run harmoniously upon it ; so a 
Periphrasis sweetens a discourse carried on in 
propriety of language, and contributes very 
much to the ornament of it, especially if 
there be no jarring or discord in it, but every 
part be judiciously and musically tempered. 

made me weary," by a sudden Transition, he addresses his 
speech to God in the words immediately following, " Thou 
hast made desolate all my company." — Dr. Pearcc 


This may be established beyond dispute from 
a passage of Plato, in the beginning of his Fu- 
neral Oration : " ^ We have now discharged 
the last duties we owe to these our departed 
friends, who, thus provided, make the fatal 
voyage. They have been conducted pub- 

* Archbishop Tillotson will afford us an instance of the use 
of this Figure, on the same thought almost as that quoted by 
Longinus from Plato. 

" When we consider that we have but a little while to be 
here, that we are upon our journey travelling towards our hea- 
venly country, where we shall meet with all the delights we can 
desire, it ought not to trouble us much to endure storms and 
foul ways, and to want many of those accommodations we 
might expect at home. This is the common fate of travellers, 
and we must take things as we find them, and not look to have 
every thing just to our mind. These difficulties and incon- 
veniences will shortly be over, and after a few days will be quite 
forgotten, and be to us as though they had never been. And 
when we are safely landed in our own country, with what plea- 
sure shall we look back on these rough and boisterous seas we 
have escaped ?" — 1st Vol. p. 98, folio. 

In each passage Death is the principal thought to which all 
the circumstances of the Circumlocutions chiefly refer ; but 
the Archbishop has wound it up to a greater height, and tem- 
pered it with more agreeable and more extensive sweetness. 
Plato inters his heroes, and then bids them adieu ; but the 
Christian orator conducts them to a better world, from whence 
he gives them a retrospect of that through which they have 
passed, to enlarge the comforts, and give them a higher enjoy- 
ment of the future. 



licly on their way by the whole body of the 
city, and in a private capacity by their pa- 
rents and relations/' Here he calls Death 
" the fatal voyage/' and discharging the fu- 
neral offices, a pubhc conducting of them by 
their country. And who can deny that the 
sentiment by this means is very much exalt- 
ed ? or that Plato, by infusing a melodious '^ 
Circumlocution, has tempered a naked and 
barren thought with harmony and sweetness ? 
So Xenophon :* " You look upon toil as the 
guide to a happy life. Your souls are pos- 
sessed of the best qualification that can adorn a 
martial breast. Nothing produces in you such 
sensible emotions of joy as commendation/' 
By expressing an inclination to endure toil 
in this Circumlocution, " You look upon la- 
bour as the guide to a happy life /' and by en- 
larging: some other words after the same man- 
ner, he has not only exalted the sense, but given 
new grace to his encomium. So that inimi- 
table passage of Herodotus \\ " The goddess 
afflicted those Scythians, who had sacrilegi- 
ously pillaged her temple with^ the female 

* Xenophon. Cyropsed. lib. 1. 

+ Herod. 1. I.e. 105. 

" The beauty of this Periphrasis, which Longiniis so highly 




^Circumlocution is indeed more dan- 
gerous than any other kind of figure, unlessv 
it be used with great circumspection ; it is 
" otherwise very apt to grow trifling and insi- 
pid, and savour strongly of pedantry and 
dulness. For this reason, Plato (though for 
the generality superior to all in his figures, 
yet being sometimes too lavish of them) is ri- 
diculed very much for the following expres- 

commends, appears not at present. Commentators indeed 
have laboured hard to discover what this disease was, and 
abundance of remarks, learned and curious to be sure, have 
been made upon it. The best way will be to imitate the de- 
corum of Herodotus, and leave it still a mystery. 

^ " Circumlocution is indeed," &c.] Shakespeare, in 
King Hichard the Second, has made sick John of Gaunt pour 
out such a multitude to express England, as never was, nor 
ever will be met with again. Some of them indeed sound very 
fmely, at least, in the ears of an Englishman : for instance, 

This royal throne of kings, this seat of Mars, 

This other Eden, demy paradise, ' .. . , ■ 

This fortress built by nature for herself 

Against infection in the hand of war ; • • •' • - ' 

This happy breed of men, this little world, . ". 

This precious stone set in the silver sea. • 


sion in his Treatise of Laws :* " It is not to 
be permitted, that wealth of either gold or 
silver should get footing or settle in a city/' 
Had he, say the critics, forbidden the pos- 
session of cattle, he might have called it the 
wealth of mutton and beef. 

And now, what has been said on this sub- 
ject, will, I presume, my dear Terenti anus, 
abundantly shew, of what service Figures 
may be in producing the Sublime. For it is 
manifest, that all I have mentioned render 
compositions more pathetic and affecting. 
For the Pathetic partakes as much of the 
Sublime,^as writing exactly in rule and cha- 
racter can do of the Agreeable. 



But since the sentiments and the lancruage 
of compositions are generally best explained 
by the light they throw upon one another. 

Plato da Legibus, 1. 5. p. 741. ed. Pa 


let US in the next place consider, what it is 
that remains to be said concerning the Dic-«^ 
tion. : And here, that a judicious choice of t^ 
proper and magnificent terms has wonderful 
effects in winning upon and entertaining an 
audience, cannot, I think, be denied) For 
it is from hence, that the greatest writers de- 
rive with indefatigable care the grandeur, the 
beauty, the solemnity, the weight, the strength, 
and the energy of their expressions. This 
clothes a composition in the most beautiful 
dress, makes it shine like a picture in all the 
gaiety of colour, and, in a word, it animates >^ 
our thoughts, and inspires them with a kind 
of vocal life. \ But it is needless to dwell upon 
these particulars, before persons of so much 
taste and experience. Fine words are indeed 
the peculiar light in which our thoughts must 
shine. l.But then it is by no means proper ^/ 
that they should every where swell and look 
big. -^For dressing up a trifling subject in 
grand exalted expressions, makes the same 
ridiculous appearance, as the enormous mask 
of a tragedian would do upon the diminutive 
face of an infant. "*' But in poetry ****** 
[The remainder of this Section is lost.] * * * 



* * * * * [The beginning of this Sec- 
tion is lost.] * * In this verse of Anacreon, 
the terms are vulgar, yet there is a simpli- 
city in it which pleases, because it is natural : 

Nor shall this Thracian vex me more I^ 

And for this reason, that celebrated expres- 
sion of Theopompus seems to me the most sig- 
nificant of any I ever met with, though Ceci- 
lius has found something to blame in it — 
"Philip (says he) was used to swallovr affronts, 
in compliance with the exigencies of his 

^ Vulgar terms are sometimes much more 

^ There never was a line of higher grandeur, or more ho- 
nourable to human nature, expressed at the same time in 
a greater plainness and simplicity of icrma, than the following, 
in the Essay on Man — 

An honest man's the noblest work of God. 
' Images, drawn from common life, or familiar objects, stand 
in need of a deal of judgment to support and keep them from 
sinking, but have a much better effect, and are far more ex- 
pressive, when managed by a skilful hand, than those ot a 
higher nature : the truth of this remark is visible from these 
lines in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet : — 



significant than the most ornamental could 
possibly be. They are easily understood, be- 

——I would have thee gone ; 
And yet no further than a wanton's bird. 
That lets it hop a httle from her hand, 
Like a poor prisoner in his twisted gyves, 
And with a silk thread pulls it back again^ 
So loving jealous of its liberty. 

Mr. Addison has made use of an Image of a lower nature 
in his Cato, where the lover cannot part with his mistress with- 
out the highest regret ; as the lady could not with her lover in 
the former instance from Shakespeare. lie has touched it 
with equal delicacy and grace : 

Thus o'er the dying lamp, th' unsteady flame 
Hangs quiv'ring to a point ; leaps ofif by fits, 
And falls again, as loath to quit its hold. 

I have ventured to give these instances of the beauty and 
strength of Images taken from low and common objects, be- 
cause what the Critic says of Terms, holds equally in regard to 
Images. An expression is not the worse for being obvious ^, 
and familiar, for a judicious application gives it new dignity 
and strono; significance. All Images and Words are dangerous 
to such as want genius and spirit. By their management, 
grand Words and Images, improperly thrown together, sink 
into burlesque and sounding nonsense, and the easy and fami- 
liar are tortured into insipid fustian. A true genius will steer 
securely in either course, and with such bold rashness on par- 
ticular occasions, .Inat he will almost touch upon rocks, yet 
never receive any damage. This remark, in that part of it 
which regards the Terras, may be illustrated by the following 
lines of Shakespeare, spoken by Apemantus to Timon, when 


cause borrowed from common life ; and what 
is most familiar to us, soonest engages our 
belief. Therefore, when a person, to promote 
his ambitious designs, bears ill treatment and 
reproaches, not only with patience, but a 
seeming pleasure, to say that he swallows af- 
fronts, is as happy and expressive a phrase as 
could possibly be invented. The following 
passage from Herodotus in my opinion comes 
very near it.* " Cleomenes (says he) being 

he had abjured all human society, and vowed to pass the re- 
mamder of his days in a desert: 

. What I think'st thou 

That the bleak air, thy boist'rous chamberlain, 

Will put thy shirt on warm ? will these moist trees, 

That have out-liv'd the eagle, page thy heels. 

And skip when thou point'st out ? will the cold brook, 

Candied with ice, cawdle thy morning taste 

To cure thy o'er-night's surfeit ? Call the creatures. 

Whose naked natures live in all the spite 

Of wreakful heav'n, whose bare unhoused trunks, 

To the conflicting elements expos'd. 

Answer mere nature ; bid them flatter thee ; 

Oh ! thou shalt find - ' 

The whole is carried on with so much spirit, and supported 
by such an air of solemnity, that it is noble and affecting. 
Yet the same expressions and allusions, in inferior hands, 
might have retained their original baseness, and been quite 
ridiculous. ' ' 

* Herod. I. 6. c. 75. ' 

M 2 


seized with madness, with a little knife that 
he had, cut his flesh into small pieces, till, 
having entirely mangled his body, he ex- 
pired/' And again,* " Pythes, remaining still 
in the ships fought courageously, till he was 
hacked in pieces/^ These expressions ap- 
proach near to vulgar, but are far from hav- 
ing vulgar significations. 


As to a proper number of Metaphors, Ce- 
cilius has gone into their opinion, who have 
settled it at two or three at most, in express- 
ing the same object. But in this also, let De- 
mosthenes be observed as our model and guide; 
and by him we shall find, that the proper time^ 
to apply them, is, when the passions are so 
much worked up, as to hurry on like a tor- 
rent, and unavoidably carry along with them 
a whole crowed of metaphors. " ^ Those 

* Herod. 1. 7. c. 181. • ■ ' 

^ Demosthenes, in this instance, bursts not out upon the 

traitorous creatures of Philip, witli such bitterness and severity ; 

strikes them not dumb, witli such a continuation of vehement 

and cutting Metaphors ; as St. Jude some profligate \Yretches 

in his Epistle, vcr. IC, 13 : — 


prostituted souls, those cringing traitors, those 
furies of the commonwealth, who have com- 
bined to wound and mangle their country, 
who have drunk up its liberty in healths, to 
Philip once, and since to Alexander, measur- 
ing their happiness by their belly and their 
lust. As for those generous principles of 
honour, and that maxim, never to endure a 
master, which to our brave forefathers were 
the high ambition of hfe, and the standard 
of felicity, these they have quite subverted.'' 
Here, by means of this multitude of Tropes, 
the orator bursts out upon the traitors in the 
warmest indignation. It is, however, the 

'' These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast 
with you, feeding themselves without fear : clouds they are 
without water, carried about of winds : trees, whose fruit 
withereth, without fruit, plucked up by the roots : raging 
waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame : wandering 
stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever." 

By how much the bold defence of Christianity, against the 
lewd practices, insatiable lusts, and impious blasphemies of 
wicked abandoned men, is more glorious than the defence of a 
petty state, against the intrigues of a foreign tyrant ; or, by 
how much more honourable a'ld praiseworthy it is, to contend 
for the glory of God and religion, than the reputation of one 
republic ; by so much does this passage of the apostle exceed 
that of Demosthenes, commended by Longinus, in force of 
expression, liveliness of allusion, and height of Sublimity. 


* precept of Aristotle and Theopbrastus, that 
bold Metaphors ought to be introduced with 
some small alleviations ; such as, if it may he 
so expressed ; and as it were, and if I may 
speak with so much boldness. For this excuse, 
say they, very much palliates the hardness of 
the figures. 

^ Such a rule hath a general use, and there- 
fore I admit it ; yet still I maintain, what I 
advanced before in regard to Figures, that 
bold '^ Metaphors, and those too in good 
plenty, are very seasonable in a noble com- 
position, where they are always mitigated 
and softened, by the vehement Pathetic and 
generous Sublime dispersed through the 

^ This remark shews the penetration of the judgment of 
Longinus, and proves the propriety of the strong jSIetaphors 
in Scripture; as when arrows are said to be "drunk with 
blood," and a '' sword to devour flesh." (Deut. xxxii. 42.) 
It illustrates the eloquence of St. Paul, who uses stronger, 
more expressive, and more accumulated JNIetaphors, than any 
other writer ; as when, for instance, he styles his converts, 
*' His joy, his crown, his hope, his glory, his crown of re- 
joicing." (Phil. iii. 9-) ^Vhen he exhorts them " to put on 
Christ." (Rom. xiii. 14.) When he speaks against the heathens, 
*' who had changed the truth of God into a lie." (Rom. i. 
23.) When against wicked men, " whose end is destruction, 
whose God is their belly, and whose glory is their shame." 
(Phil. iii. lij.) See a chain of sliong ones, Rom. iii. 13 — 18. 


whole. For as it is the nature of the Pathe- 
tic and Sublime, to run rapidly along, and 
carry all before them, so they require the 
figures, they are worked up in, to be strong 
and forcible, and do not so much as give lei- 
sure to a hearer, to cavil at their number, be- 
cause they immediately strike his imagina- 
tion, and inflame him ^\dth all the warmth 
and fire of the speaker. 

But further, in Illustrations and Descrip- 
tions, there is nothing so expressive and sig- 
nificant, as a chain of continued Tropes. By 
these has Xenophon * described, in so pom- 
pous and magnificent terms, the anatomy of 
the human body. By these has Plato -f de- 
scribed the same tiling, in so unparalleled, 
so Divine a manner. " ^ Tlie head of man he 

* A7r01.1rrif.10r, 1. 1. c. 45. ed. Oxon. 

•f- Phito in TimEeo passim. 

^ The Allegory or chain of ^letapliors that occurs in Psalm 
Isxx. 8, is no way inferior to this of Plato. The royal author 
s|)eaks thus of the people of Israel under the Metaphor of a 
vine : 

" Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt : tliou hast cast 
out the heathen and planted it. Thou madest room for it, and 
when it had taken root, it filled the land. The hills were 
covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were 
like the goodly cedar-trees. She stretched out her branches 
unto the sea, and her boughs unto the river." — Dr. Pearce. 


calls a citadel. The neck is an isthmus placed 
^'between the head and the breast. The ver- 
tebrae, or joints, on which it turns, are §o 
many hinges. Pleasure is the bait, which 
allures men to evil, and the tongue is the in- 
former of tastes. The heart, being the knot 

St. Paul has nobly described, in a continuation of Meta- 
phors, the Christian armour, in his Epistle to the Ephesians, 
chap. vi. 13, 8cc, 

The sublime description of the horse in Job, chap, xxxix. 
19 — 25, has been highly applauded by several writers. The 
reader may see some just observations on it, in the Guardian, 
No. 86. But the 29th chapter of the same book will aft'ord as 
fine instances of the beauty and energy of this figure as can any 
where bs met with : 

*' Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when ' 
God preserved me 1 — when the Almighty was yet with me, 
when my children were about me : when I washed my steps 
with butter, and the rock poured me out rivers of oil ! — When 
the ear heard me, then it blessed me ; and when the eye saw 

me, it gave witness to me. The blessing of him that was 

ready to perish came upon me, and 1 caused the widow's heart 
to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; 
judgment was as a robe and a diadem. I was eyes to the 
blind, and feet was I to the lame. 1 was a father to the poor." 

There is another beautiful use of this Figure in the latter 
part of the 65th Psalm. The description is lively, and what 
the French call riante, or laughing. It has indeed been fre- 
quently observed, that the Eastern writings abound very much 
in strong ISIetaphors ; but in Scripture they are always sup- . 
})orted by a ground-work of masculine and nervous strength, 
without which they arc apt to swell into ridiculous Bombast. 


of the veins, and the fountain from whence 
the blood arises, and briskly circulates 
through all the members, is a watch-tower 
completely fortified. The pores he calls nar- 
row streets. And because the heart is sub- 
ject to violent palpitations, either when dis- 
turbed with fear of some impending evil, or 
when inflamed with wrath, the gods, says he, 
have provided against any ill effect that might 
hence arise, by giving a place in the body to 
the lungs, a soft and bloodless substance, fur- 
nished with inward vacuities, like a sponge, 
that whenever choler inflames the heart, the 
lungs should easily yield, should gradually 
break its violent strokes, and preserve it from 
harm. The seat of the concupiscible pas- 
sions, he has named the apartment of the wo- 
men ; the seat of the irascible, the apartment 
of the men. The spleen is the sponge of the 
entrails, from whence, when filled with excre- 
ments, it is swelled and bloated. Afterwards 
(proceeds he) the gods covered all those parts 
with flesh, their rampart and defence against 
the extremities of heat and cold, soft throudi- 
out like a cushion, and gently giving way to 
outward impressions. The blood he calls the 
pasture of the flesh ; and adds, that for the 
sake of nourishing the remotest parts, they 


opened the body into a number of rivulets, 
like a garden well stocked with plenty of 
canals, that the veins might by this means re- 
ceive their supply of the vital moisture from 
the heart, as the common source, and convey 
it through all the sluices of the body. And 
at the approach of death, the soul, he says, is 
loosed, like a ship from her cables, and left 
at the liberty of driving at pleasure." Many 
other turns of the same nature in the sequel 
might be adjoined, but these already abun- 
dantly shew, that the Tropes are naturally^/ 
endued with an air of grandeur, that Meta- 
phors contribute very much to Sublimity, 
and are of very important service in descrip- 
tive and pathetic compositions. 

That the use of Tropes, as well as of all 
other things which are ornamental in dis- 
course, may be carried to excess, is obvious 
enough,, though I should not mention it. 
Ilcncc it comes to pass, that many severely _ 
censure Plato, because oftentimes, as if he 
was mad to utter his words, he suffers him- 
self to be hurried into raw undigested Meta- 
phors, and a vain pomp of Allegory. " For 
is it not (says he) * easy to conceive, that a 

* Pl;ito, I.G. de Legibus, p. 773. ed. Par. 


city ought to resemble a goblet replenished 
with a well-tempered mixture? where, when 
the foaming deity of wine is poured in, it 
sparkles and fumes ; but when ehastiscd by 
another more sober divinity, it joins in firm 
alliance, and composes a pleasant and pala- 
table liquor/' For (say they) to call water a 
sober divinihj, and the mixture chastisement, 
is a shrewd argument, that the author was 
not very sober himself. 

Cecilius had certainly these trifling flou- 
rishes in view, when he had the rashness, in his 
Essay on * Lysias, to declare him nmch pre- 
ferable to Plato; biassed to it by two pas- 
sions equally indiscreet. For though he 
loved Lysias as well as his own self, yet he 
bated Plato with more violence than he could 
possibly love Lysias. Besides, he was hur- 
ried on by so much heat and prejudice, as to 
presume on the concession of certain points 
which never will be granted. For Plato be- 
ing oftentimes faulty, he thence takes occa- 
sion to cry up Lysias for a faultless and con- 

^ Lysias was one of the ten celebrated orators of Athens. 
He was a neat, elegant, correct, and witty writer, but not 
sublime. Cicero calls him j^rope perfectum^ almost perfect. 
Quinctilian says he was more like a clear fountain than a great 


summate writer; which is so far from being 
truth, that it has not so much as the shadow 
of it. 


But let us for once admit the possibiHtj 
of a faultless and consummate writer ; and 
then, will it not be worth while to consider at 
large that important question, Whether, in 
poetry or prose, what is truly grand in the 
midst of some faults, be not preferable to 
that which has nothing extraordinary in its 
best parts, correct however throughout, and 
faultless? And further, whether the excel- 
lence of fine writing consists in the number 
of its beauties, or in the grandeur of its 
strokes ? For these points, being peculiar to 
the Sublime, demand an illustration. 

I readily allow, that writers of a lofty and ^^ 
towering genius are by no means pure and 
correct, since whatever is neat and accurate 
throughout, must be exceedingly liable to 
flatness. In the Sublime, as in great affluence 
of fortune, some minuter articles will una- 
voidably escape observation. But it is al-^/ 
most impossible for a low and grovelling 


genius to be guilt j of error, since he never 
endangers himself by soaring on high, or aim- 
ing at eminence, but still goes on in the same 
uniform secure track, whilst its very height 
and grandeur exposes the Sublime to sudden 
falls. Nor am I ignorant indeed of another 
thing, Avhich will no doubt be urged, that ^ in. 
passing our judgment upon the works of an 
author, we always muster his imperfections, 
so that the remembrance of his faults sticks 
indelibly fast in the mind, whereas that of his 
excellences is quickly worn out. For my 
part, I have taken notice of no inconsiderable 
number of faults in Homer, and some other 
of the greatest authors, and cannot by any 
means be blind or partial to them ; however, 
^ I judge them not to be voluntary faults, so 
much as accidental slips incurred through in- 
advertence; such as, w4ien the mind is intent 

* " In passing our judgment/' &e.] So Horace, Ep. 1. 
ii. Ep. i. 262. 

Discit enim citius meminitque libentius illud, 
Quod quis deridet, quam quod probat et veneiatur. 

* " 1 judge them,"&c.] So Horace, Ars Poet. 331. 

— Ubi plura nitent in carmine, non ego paucis 
Offendor macnlis, quas aut incuriafudit, 
Aut huniana parum cavit natura. 


upon things of a higher nature, will creep in- 
sensibly into compositions. And for this 
reason I give it as my real opinion, that the 
great and noble flights, -^ though they cannot 
every where boast an equality of perfection, 
yet ought to carry off the prize, by the sole 
merit of their own intrinsic grandeur. 

— o 

* Apollonius, author of the Argonautics, was 
a writer without a blemish : and no one ever 
succeeded better in Pastoral than Theocritus, 
excepting some pieces where he has quitted 
his own province. But yet, would you choose 

^ " Though they cannot every where boast," &c.] So Mi\ 
Pope, in the spirit of Longinus : 

Great wits sometimes inay gloriously offend, 
And rise to faults true critics dare not mend ; 
From vulgar bounds with brave disorder part, 
And snatch a grace beyond the rules of art ; 
Which, without passing through the judgment, gains 
Tlie heart, and all its end at once attains. 

Essay on Criticism, 

* Apollonius was born at Alexandria, but called a Rhodian, 
because he resided at Rhodes. He was the scholar of Calli- 
machus, and succeeded Eratosthenes as keeper of Ptolemy's 
library : he wrote the Argonautics, which are still extant. 
Of this poet Quinctilian has thus given his judgment, Instit. 
Orat. 1. X. c. 1. " He published a performance, which was 
not despicable, but had a certain even mediocrity through- 
out." — Dr. Pearce. 


to be Apollonius or Theocritus rather than 
Homer ? Is the poet ^ Eratosthenes, whose 
Erigone is a complete and delicate perform- 
ance, and not chargeable with one fault, to 
be esteemed a superior poet to Archilochus, 
who flies off into many and brave irregulari- 
ties; a godlike spirit bearing him forwards in 
the noblest career, such spirit as will not bend 
to rule, or easily brook control? In Lyrics, 
would you sooner be ^ Bacchylides than Pin- 
dar, or '' lo the Chian, than the great So- 
phocles? Bacchylides and lo have written 
smoothly, delicately, and correctly ; they have 

* Eratosthenes the Cyrenean, scholar of Callimachus tlie 
poet. Among other pieces of poetry, he wrote the Erigone. 
He was predecessor to ApoUonius, in Ptolemy's library at 
Alexandria. — Dr. Pearce. 

^ Bacchylides, a Greek poet, famous for lyric verse ; born 
at lulis, a town in the Isle of Ceos. He wrote the Apode- 
mics, or the travels of a deity. The Emperor Julian was so 
pleased with his verses, that he is said to have drawn froin 
thence rules for the conduct of life. And Hiero the Syra- 
cusan thought them preferable even to Pindar's, by a judg- 
ment quite contrary to what is given here by Longinus. 

Dr. Pearce. 

"^ lo the Chian, a dithyrambic poet, who, besides Ocks, is 
said to have composed forty fables. He is called by Aristo- 
phanes, The Eastern Star, because he died whilst he wa» 
writing an Ode that began with those words. — Dr. Pearce, 


left nothing without the nicest decoration ; 
but in Pindar and Sophocles, who carry fire 
alons; with them throuo;h the violence of their 
motion, that very fire is many times unsea- 
sonably quenched, and then they drop most 
unfortunately down. But yet no one, I am 
certain, who has the least discernment, will 
scruple to prefer the single ^ Qildipus of So- 
phocles, before all that lo ever composed. 


If the beauties of writers are to be esti- 
mated by their number, and not by their 
quality or grandeur, then Hyperides will 
prove far superior to Demosthenes. He has 
more harmony and a finer cadence, he has a 
greater number of beauties, and those in a 
degree almost next to excellent. He resem- 
bles a champion, who, professing himself 
master of the five exercises, in each of them 
severally must yield t,he superioriey toothers, 

^ The Oedipus Tyrannus, the most celebrated tragedy of 
Sophocles, which (as Dr. Pearce observes) poets of almost all 
nations have endeavoured to imitate, though in my opinion 
very little to their credit. 


but ill all together stands alone and unri- 
valled. For Hyperides has in every point, ex- 
cept the structure of his words, imitated all 
the virtues of Demosthenes, and has abun- 
dantly added ^ the graces and beauties of 
Lysias. When his subject demands simpli- 
city, his style is exquisitely smooth ; nor 
does he utter every thing with one empha- 
tical air of vehemence, like Demosthenes. 
His thoughts are always just and proper, 
tempered w^ith most delicious sweetness and 
the softest harmony of words. His turns of 
wit are inexpressibly fine. He raises a laugh 
with the greatest art, and is prodigiously 

' " The graces — of Lysias."] For the clearer imderstaMfling 
of this passage, we must observe, that there are two sorts of 
graces ; the one majestic and grave, and proper for the poets, 
the other simple, and like railleries in comedy. Those of the 
last sort enter into the composition of the polished style, called 
by the rhetoricians yXacjjvpoy Xnynv ; and of this kind were 
the graces of Lysias, who, in the judgment of Dionysius of 
Halicarnassus, excelled in the polished style; and for this reason 
Cicero calls him ve/iustissimum oratorem. We have one in- 
stance of the graces of this pretty orator : Speaking one day 
against iEschines, who was in love with an old woman, " He 
is enamoured (cried he) with a lady, whose teeth may be 
counted easier than her fingers." Upon this account Deme- 
trius has ranked the graces of Lysias in the same class with 
those of Sophron, a farce writer. Dacier. ... , ., , 



dexterous at irony or sneer. His strokes of 
raillery are far from ungenteel ; by no means 
far-fetched, like those of the depraved imi- 
tators of Attic neatness, but apposite and pro- 
per. How skilful at evading an argument ! 
With what humour does he ridicule, and 
with what dexterity does he sting in the midst 
of a smile! In a word, there are inimitable 
graces in all he says. Never did any one 
more artfully excite compassion ; never was 
any more diffuse in narration; never any 
more dexterous at quitting and resuming his 
subject with such easy address, and such 
pliant activity. This plainly appears in his 
little poetical fables of Latona ; and besides, 
he has composed a funeral oration with such 
pomp and ornament, as I believe never will, 
or can, be equalled. 

Demosthenes, on the other side, has been 
unsuccessful in representing the humours and 
characters of men ; he was a stranger to dif- 
fusive eloquence ; awkward in his address ; 
void of all pomp and show in his language ; 
and, in a word, for the most part, deficient 
in all the qualities ascribed to Hyperides. 
Where his subject compels him to be merry 
or facetious, he makes people laugh, but it is 
at himself. And the more he endeavours at 


raillery, the more distant is he from it. ^ Had 
he ever attempted an oration for a Phryne 

- Hyperides, of whom mention has been made already, and 
whom the Author in this Section compares with Demosthenes 
was one of the ten famous orators of Athens. He was Plato's 
scholar, and thought by some to have shared with Lycurgus in 
the public administration. His orations for Phryne and Athe- 
noo-enes were very much esteemed, though his defence of the 
former owed its success to a very remarkable incident, men- 
tioned by Plutarch. (L?/e of the ten orators, in Hi/perides.) 
Phryne was the most famous courtezan of that age ; her 
form so beautiful, that it was taken as a model for all the 
statues of Venus carved at that time throughout Greece : yet 
an intrigue between her and Hyperides grew so scandalous, 
that an accusation was preferred against her in the court of 
Athens. Hyperides defended her with all the art and rhetoric 
which experience and love could teach him, and his oration 
for her was as pretty and beautiful as his subject. But as 
what is spoken to the ears makes not so deep an impression 
as what is shewn to the eyes, Hyperides found his eloquence 
unavaihng, and effectually to soften the judges, uncovered the 
lady's bosom. Its snowy whiteness was an argument in her 
favour not to be resisted, and therefore she was immediately 

Longinus's remark is a compliment to Hyperides, but does 
a secret honour to Demosthenes. Hyperides was a graceful, 
genteel speaker, one that could say pretty things, divert his 
audience, and when a lady was the topic, quite outshine De- 
mosthenes ; whose eloquence was too grand to appear for any 
thing but honour and liberty. Then he could warm, trans- 
port, and triumph ; could revive in his degenerate countrymen 
a love of their country and a zeal for freedom ; could make 



or an Athenogenes, he would in such attempts 
have only served as a foil to Hjperides. 

Yet after all, in my opinion, the numer- 
ous beauties of Hyperides are far from hav- 
ing any inherent greatness. They shew the 
sedateness and sobriety of the author's ge- 
nius, but have not force enough to enliven 
or to warm an audience. No one that reads 
him, is ever sensible of extraordinary emo- 
tion. Whereas Demosthenes, addins; to a con- 
tinued vein of grandeur and to magnificence 
of diction (the greatest qualifications requi- 
site in an orator), such lively strokes of pas- 
sion, such copiousness of words, such ad- 
dress, and such rapidity of speech ; and, 
what is his masterpiece, such force and ve- 
hemence, as the greatest writers besides durst 
never aspire to ; being, I say, abundantly 
furnished with all these Divine (it would be 
sin to call them human) abilities, he excels 
all before him in the beauties which are 
really his own ; and to atone for deficiencies 
in those he has not, overthrows all opponents 
with the irresistible force and the ghttering 
blaze of his lightning. For it is much easier 

them cry out in rau;c and fury, " Let us arm, let us away, let 
Ub luai oil against Philip." ... < . ..^^. , 


to behold, with steadfast and undazzled eyes, 
the flashino; liohtnins^, than those ardent 
strokes of the Pathetic, which come so thick 
one upon another in his orations. 


The parallel between Plato and his oppo- 
nent must be drawn in a different light. For 
Lysias not only falls short of him in the excel- 
lence, but in the number also of his beauties. 
And what is more, he not only falls short of 
him in the number of his beauties, but ex- 
ceeds him vastly in the number of his faults. 

What then can we suppose that those god- 
like writers had in view, who laboured so 
much in raising their compositions to the 
highest pitch of the Sublime, and looked 
down with contempt upon accuracy and cor- 
rectness? — x\mongst others, let this reason 
be accepted. Nature never designed man to 
be a groveUing and ungenerous animal, but 
brought him into life, and placed him in the 
world, as in a crowded theatre, not to be an 
idle spectator, but spurred on by an eager 
thirst of excelhng, ardently to contend in 
the pursuit of glory. For this purpose, she 


implanted in his soul an invincible love of 
grandeur, and a constant emulation of what- 
ever seems to approach nearer to divinity 
than himself. Hence it is, that the whole 
universe is not sufficient for the extensive 
^ reach and piercing speculation of the human 
understanding. It passes the bounds of the 
material world, and launches forth at plea- 
sure into endless space. Let any one take 
an exact survey of a life, which, in its every 
scene, is conspicuous on account of excel- 
lence, grandeur, and beauty, and he will 
soon discern for what noble ends we were 
born. Thus the impulse of nature inclines 
us to admire, not a little clear transparent 
rivulet that ministers to our necessities, but 
the Nile, the Ister, the Rhine, or still much 
more, the Ocean. We are never surprised 
at the sight of a small fire that burns clear, 
and blazes out on our own private hearth, 
but view with amaze the celestial fires, though 
they are often obscured by vapours and 
eclipses. ^ Nor do we reckon any thing 

^ We have a noble description of the volcano of iEtna in 
Virgil. iEn. I. iii. v. 571. which will illustrate this passage in 
Longinus : 

Horrificis juxta tonat ^tna minis, 

Interdiimqiie atram prorunipit ad ajthcra nubcin. 


in nature more wonderful than the boiling 
furnaces of ^tna, which cast up stones, 
and sometimes whole rocks, from their labour- 
ing abyss, and pour out whole rivers of liquid 
and unmino^led flame. And from hence we 
may infer, that whatever is useful and neces- 
sary to man, lies level to his abilities, and is 
easily acquired ; but whatever exceeds the 
common size, is always great, and always 


Turbine funianteni piceo et candente favilla. I 

Attollitque globos flammarum, et sidera lambit : '- 

Interdiun scopulos, avolsaqiie viscera moutis 
Erigit eructans, liquefactaque saxa sub auras 
Cum gemitu glomerat, fundoque exaestuat imo. 

The coast where jEtna lies, 

Horrid and waste, its entrails fraught with fire ; 

That now casts out dark fumes and pitchy clouds. 

Vast show'rs of ashes hov'ring in the smoke ; 

Now belches molten stones, and ruddy flames 

Incens'd, or tears up mountains by the roots. 

Or slings a broken rock aloft in air. 

The bottom works with smother'd fire, involvM , 

In pestilential vapours, stench, and smoke. — Addison. , 

Longinus's short description has the same spirit and grandeur 
with Virgil's. The sidera lambit, in the fourth line, has the 
swell in it, which Longinus, Sect. iii. calls super-tragical. 
This is the remark of Dr. Pearce ; and it is observable, that 
Mr. Addison has taken no notice of those words in his trans- 



With regard, therefore, to those sublime 
writers, whose flight, however exalted, ^never 
fails of its use and advantage, we must add 
another consideration. — Those other inferior 
beauties shew their authors to be men; but 
the Sublime mji^ves near approaches to the 
lieight of God. VjVhat is correct and fault- 
less, comes off barely without censure; but 
the grand and the lofty command admiration j 
What can I add further? One exalted and 
sublime sentiment in those noble authors 
makes ample amends for all their defects. 
And, what is most remarkable, were the 
errors of Homer, Demosthenes, Plato, and 
the rest of the most celebrated authors, to 
be culled carefully out and thrown together, 

^ " NcvtM- fails of its use and advantage."] Longinus, in the 
preceding Section, had said, that men " view with amaze the 
celestial fires (such as the sun and moon), though they are fre- 
quently obscured ;" the case is the same with the burning 
mountain iEtna, though it casts up pernicious fire from its 
abyss ; but here, when he returns to the sublime authors, he 
inliniates, that the sublinH> is the more to be admired, be- 
cause, far from being useless or amusing merely, it is of great 
service to its authors, as well as to the public. — Dr. Pearce. 


they would not bear the least proportion to 
those infinite, those inimitable excellences, 
which are so conspicuous in these heroes of 
antiquity. And for this reason, has every 
age and every generation, unmoved by par- 
tiality, and unbiassed by env}^ awarded the 
laurels to these great masters, which flourish 
still green and unfadino; on their brows, and 
will flourish, 

As long as streams in silver mazes rove, ' • - ■ > 
Or Spring with annual green rene\AS the grove. 


A certain writer objects here, that an ill- 
wrought -Colossus cannot be set upon the 
level with a little faultless statue; for in- 
stance, ^thehttle soldier of Polycletus: but 
the answer to this is very obvious. In the 
works of art we have regard to exact propor- 
tion; in those of nature, to grandeur and 
magnificence. Now speech is a gift bestowed 

^ The Colossus was a most famous statue of Apollo, erected 
at Rhodes by Jalysus, of a size so vast, that the sea ran, and 

ships of the greatest burden sailed, between its legs. 

Dr. Pearce. 

^ The Doryphorus, a small statue by Polycletus, a cele- 
brated statuary. The proportions were so tinely observed in 
it, that Lysippus professed he had learned ail his ait from the 
studv and imitation of it. 


upon us by nature. As, therefore, resem- 
blance and proportion to the originals is re- 
quired in statues, so, in the noble faculty of 
discourse, there should be something extraor- 
dinary, something more than humanly great. 

But to close this long digression, which had 
been more regularly placed at the beginning 
of the Treatise ; since it must be owned, that 
it is the business of art to avoid defect and 
blemish, and almost an impossibility in the 
Sublime, always to preserve the same majes- 
tic air, the same exalted tone, art and nature y/' 
should join hands, and mutually assist one 
another. For, from such union and alliance, 
perfection must certainly result. 

These are the decisions I have thouo-ht 
proper to make concerning the questions in 
debate. I pretend not to say thc}^ are abso- 
lutely right; let those who are willing, make 
use of their own judgment. '■■-• 


To return. ^Similes and Comparisons 
bear so near an affinity to Metaphors, as to 

* The manner in which Similes or Comparisons differ from 
Metaphors, we c.annot know fron! Lonijinus, hecansc of the 


differ from them only in one particular * * 
* * * * [The remainder of this Section 



# # * * 


* * * * [The beginning of this Section 
on Hyperboles is lost.] ****** 

* * As this Hyperbole, for instance, is ex- 
ceeding bad: " If you carry not your brains 

gap which follows in the original ; but they differ only in the 
expression. To say that fine eyes are the eyes of a dove, or 
that cheeks are a bed of spices, are strong Metaphors ; which 
become Comparisons, if expressed thus — are as the eyes of a 
dove, or as a bed of spices. These two Comparisons are taken 
from the description of the Beloved in the Song of Solomon 
(ver. 10 — 16.), in which there are more, of great strength and 
propriety, and an uncommon sweetness : 

" My Beloved is sweet and ruddy, the chief among ten thou- 
sand. His head is as the most fine gold ; his locks are bushy, 
and black as a raven. His eyes are as the eyes of a dove by the 
rivers of water, washed with milk, and fitly set. His cheeks 
are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers ; his lips like lilies, 
dropping sweet-smelling myrrh. His hands are as gold-rings 
set with the beryl : his belly is as bright as ivory overlaid with 
sapphire. His legs are as pillars of marble set upon sockets of 
fine gold. His countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the 
cedars. His mouth is most sweet, yea, he is altogether 


in the soles of 3^our feet, and tread upon 
them/'* One consideration, therefore, must 
always be attended to, " How far the thought' 
can properly be carried." ^i'or overshooting 
the mark often spoils an Hyperbole; and 
whatevL T is overstretched loses its tone, and 
immediately relaxes; na\% sometimes pro- 
duces an effect contrary to that for which it 
was intended.) Thus Isocrates, childishly 
ambitious of saying nothing without enlarge- 
ment, has fallen into a shameful puerility. 
The end and desig-n of his Panegyric ^ is to 
prove that the Athenians had done greater 
service to the united body of Greece than 
the Lacedemonians ; and this is his begin- 
ning : " The virtue and efficacy of eloquence 
is so great, as to be able to render great things 
contemptible, to dress up trifling subjects in 
pomp and show, to clothe what is old and 

* Demosthenis seu potius Ilegesippi Oral, de HalonesQ, ad 

^ " Panegyric."] This is the most celebrated oration of 
Isocrates, which^ after ten, or, as some say, fifteen years' labour 
spent upon it, begins in so indiscreet a manner. Longinus, 
Sect. iii. has censured Timieus, for a frigid parallel between 
the expedition of Alexander and Isocrates; yet Gabriel de 
Petra.an editor of l^onginns, is guilty of the same fault, in 
making even an elephant more expeditious than Isocrates, be- 
cause they breed faster than he wrote. 


obsolete in a new dress, and put off new oc- 
currences in an air of antiquity/' And will 
it not be immediately demanded, — Is this 
what you are going to practise with regard 
to the affairs of the Athenians and Lacede- 
monians? — For this ill-timed encomium of 
eloquence is an inadvertent admonition to 
the audience, not to listen or give credit to 
what he says. 

^ Those Hyperboles in short are the best 

* The whole of this remark is curious and refined. It is the 
importance of a passion which qualifies the Hyperbole, and 
makes that commendable, when uttered in warmth and velm- 
mence, which in coolness and sedateness would be insupport- 
able. So Cassius speaks invidiously of Caesar, in order to 
raise the indignation of Brutus : .w , : .. . . ,. . ; -. , _ 

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world 
Like a Colossus, and we petty men 
Walk under his huge legs, and peep about 
To find ourselves dishonourable graves. 

So, again, in return to the swelling arrogance of a bully, 
To whom .? to thee t what art thou ? have not I 
An arm as big as thine ? a heart as big? 
Thy words I grant are bigger : for I wear not 

My dagger in my mouth. Shakespeare's Cymhelme. 

Hyperboles literally are impossibilities, and therefore can 
only then be seasonable or productive of Sublimity, \\hen the 
circumstances may be stretched beyond their proper size, that 
they may appear without fail important and great. 


(as I have before observed of Figures) which 
have neither the appearance nor air of Hy- 
perboles. And this never fails to be the 
state of those, which in the heat of a passion 
floAv out in the midst of some grand circum- 
stance. Thus Thucydides has dexterously 
applied one to his countrymen that perished 
in Sicily :* " The Syracusans (says he) came 
down upon them, and made a slaughter 
chiefly of those who were in the river. The 
Avater was immediately discoloured with 
blood. But the stream polluted with mud 
and gore, deterred them not from drinking 
it greedily, nor many of them from fighting 
desperately for a draught of it." A circum- 
stance so uncommon and affecting, gives 
those expressions of drinking mud and gore, 
and fighting desperately for it, an air of pro- 

Herodotus has used a like Hyperbole, con- 
cerning those warriors who fell at Thermo- 
pylae i-j^' " In this place they defended them- 
selves with the weapons that wxre left, and 
with their hands and teeth, till they were 
buried under the arrows of barbarians.'' Is 

* Thucydid. 1. 7- p. 446. ed. Oxon. 
t Herod. 1. 7. c. 225. -; . 


it possible, you will say, for men to defend 
themselves Avith their teeth, against the fury 
and violence of armed assailants ? Is it pos- 
sible that men could be buried under arrows? 
Notwithstanding all this, there is a seeming 
probability in it. For the circumstance does 
not appear to have been fitted to the Hyper- 
bole; but the Hyperbole seems to be the ne- 
cessary production of the circumstance. 
For applying these strong Figures, only where 
the heat of action, or impetuosity of passion 
demands them (a point I shall never cease to 
insist upon), very much softens and mitigates 
the boldness of too daring expressions. ^So 
in comedy, circumstances wholly absurd and 
incredible pass off very well, because they 
answer their end, and raise a laugh. As in 
this passage: " He was owner of a piece of 
ground not so large as * a Lacedemonian let- 

^ The Author has hitherto treated of Hyperboles as con- 
ducive to Sublimity, which has nothing to do with humour and 
mirth, the peculiar province of Comedy. Here the incidents 
must be so over-stretched as to promote diversion and laughter. 
Now what is most absurd and nicredible, sometimes becomes 
the keenest joke. But there is judgment even in writing ab- 
surdities and incredibilities ; otherwise, instead of raising the 
laugh, they sink below it, and give the spleen. Genius and 
discretion are requisite to play the fool widi applause. 

■* Demetrius Phalereus has commended one of these letters 


ter." For laughter is a passion arising from 
some inward pleasure. 

But Hyperboles equally serve to two pur- 
poses; they enlarge and they lessen. Stretch- 
ing any thing beyond its natural size is the 
property of both. And the Diasyrm (the 
other species of the Hyperbole) increases the 
lowness of any thing, or renders trifles more 

for its sententious and expressive conciseness, which has been 
often quoted to iUustrate this passage. It is very well wortU 
observation. The direction is longer than the letter : — 

' . '. The Lacedemonians to Philip. 

. ' *' Dionysitis is at Corinth." 

At the time when this was written, Dionysius, mIio for hi» 
tyranny had been driven out of Sicily, taught school at Corinth 
for bread. So that it was a lunt to Philip not to proceed, as 
he had bejrun, to imitate his conduct, lest he should be reduced 
to the same necessitous condition. 

^Shakespeare has made Richard III. speak a merry Diasyrn\ 
upon himself: — 

I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's majesty. 
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph ; 
I, that am curtail'd of this fair proportion, 
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature, 
Deform'd, unfmish'd, sent before my time. 
Into this breathing woild ; scarce half made up. 
And that, so lamely and unfashionably, 
That doijs hark at nic as I halt by them. 


PARr V. 


We have now, my friend, brought down 
our inquiries to^ the fifth and last source of 

^ The Author, in the fifth division, treats of Composition, or 
such a structure of the words and periods, as conduces most to 
harmony of sound. This subject has been handled with the 
utmost nicety and refinement by the ancient writers, particu- 
larly Dionysius of Hahcarnassus and Demetrius Phalereus. 
The former, in his Treatise on the Structure of Words, has re- 
counted the different sorts of style, has divided each into the 
periods of which it is composed, has again subdivided those 
periods into their different members, those members into liieir 
words, those words into syllables, and has even anatomized the 
very syllables into letters, and made observations on the dif- 
ferent natures and sounds of the vowels, half-vowels, and 
mutes. He shews, by instances drawn from Homer, Herodo- 
tus, Thucydides, Sec. with what artful management those great 
authors have sweetened and ennobled their Compositions, and 
made their sound to echo to the sense. But a style, he says, 
may be sweet without any grandeur, and may be grand without 
any sweetness. Thucydides is an example of the latter, and 
Xenophon of the former ; but Herodotus has succeeded in 
both, and written his history in the highest perfection of style. 



Sublimity, which, according to the divisions 
premised at first, is the Composition or Struc- 
ture of the words. And though I have drawn 
up, in two former treatises, whatever obser- 

An English reader would be surprised to see with what 
exactness they lay down rules for the feet, times, and measures 
of prose as well as of verse. This was not peculiar to the 
Greek writers, since Cicero himself, in his rhetorical works, 
abounds in rules of this nature for the Latin tongue. The 
works of that great orator could not have lived, and received 
such general applause, had they not been laboured with the 
utmost art ; and, what is really surprising, how careful soever 
his attention was, to the length of his syllables, the measure of 
his feet, and the modulation of his words, yet it has not damped 
the spirit, or stiffened the freedom of his thoughts. Any one 
of his performances, on a general survey, appears grand and 
noble ; on a closer inspection, every part shews peculiar sym- 
metry and grace. 

Longinus contents himself here with two or three general 
observations, having written two volumes already on this sub- 
ject. The loss of these, I fancy, will raise no great regret in 
the mind of an English reader, who has little notion of such 
accuracies in composition. The free language we speak will 
not endure such refined regulations, for fear of incumbrance 
and restraint. Harmony indeed it is capable of to a high de- 
gree, yet such as flows not from precept, but the genius and 
judgment of composers. A good ear is worth a thousand rules ; 
since with it the periods will be rounded and sweetened, and 
the style exalted, so that judges shall commend and teach others 
to admire ; and without it, all endeavours to gain attention 
shall be vain and ineffectual, unless where the grandeur of 
the sense will atone for rough and unharmonious expression. 


vations I had made on this head, yet the 
present occasion lays me under a necessity 
of making some additions here. 

Harmonious Composition has not only a 
natural tendency to please and to persuade, 
but inspires us, to a wonderful ^ degree, with 
generous ardour and passion. ^Fine notes 
in music have a surprising effect on the pas- 
sions of an audience. Do they not fill the 
breast with inspired warmth, and lift up the 
heart into heavenly transport? The very 
limbs receive motion from the notes, and the 
hearer, though he has no skill at all in music, 
is sensible, however, that all its turns make 
a strong impression on his body and mind. 
The sounds of any musical instrument are in 
themselves insignificant, yet, by the changes 
of the air, the agreement of the chords, and 
symphony of the parts, they give extraordi- 
nary pleasure, as we daily experience, to the 
minds of an audience. Yet these are only 
spurious images and faint imitations of the 

2 In this passage two musical instruments are mentioned, 
avKoQ and KiQapt] ; but as what is said of them in the Greek will 
not suit with the modern notions of a pipe and a harp, I hope 
I shall not be blamed for dropping those words, and keeping 
these remarks in a general application to music. 

o 2 


persuasive voice of man, and far from the ge- 
nuine effects and operations of human nature. 
What an opinion therefore may we justly 
form of fijieJCompositjon^, the effect of ^ that 
harmony, which nature has implanted in the 
'i voice of man ! It is made up of words, which 
by no means die upon the ear, but sink with- 
in, and reach the understanding. And then, 
does it not inspire us with fine ideas of senti- 
ments and things, of beauty and of order, 
qualities of the same date and existence with 
our souls ? Does it not, b}' an elegant struc- 
ture and marshalling of sounds, convey the 
passions of the speaker into the breasts of his 
audience? Then, does it not seize their at- 
tention, and, by framing an edifice of words 
to suit the sublimity of thoughts, delight, and 
transport, and raise those ideas of dignity and 
grandeur, which it shares itself, and was de- 
signed, by the ascendant it gains upon the 
mind, to excite in others? But it is folly to 
endeavour to prove what all the world will 

•" Tanta oblectatio est in ipsa facilitate dicendi, ut nihil ho- 
minuni aut auribus aut mentibus jucundius percipi possit. Quis 
enim caiitus nioderata orationis pronunciatione diilcior inveniri 
potest ? quod carmen artiriciosa verborum conclusione aptius ? 
— Cicero de Oratore, 1. ii. 


allow to be true. For experience is an indis- 
putable conviction. 

That sentiment seems very lofty, and justly 
deserves admiration, which Demosthenes im- 
mediately subjoins to the decree;* Tovro to 
v^vi(pi(ruoc rev tots tv TToXst "Zirspta-TocvTOi mvovvov "srap- 
tX^eiv sTTOiTja-eu, ucriTi^ vi<t>og. " This very decree 
scattered, like a vapour, the danger which at 
that time hung hovering over the city.'' Yet 
the sentiment itself is not more to be admired 
than the harmony of the period. It consists 
throughout of Dactylics, the finest measure, 
and most conducins; to Sublimitv. And 
hence are they admitted into heroic verse, 
univcrsallv allowed to be the most noble of 
all. But for further satisfaction, only trans- 
pose a word or two, just as you please ; Tovro 
TO T^JTiptcixa, oxT'TTSf) vB<pog, e7roi7](re rov rors Kivdwov 
'sroc^zx^ziv or take away a syllable, eTroiTia-s ts-oc^- 
ex9etv cog v£(pog, and you will quickly discern 
how much Harmony conspires with Sublimity. 
In uo-TTs^ vscpog, the first word moves along in a 
stately measure of four times, and when one 
syllable is taken away, as cog vB(pog, the sub- 
traction maims the Sublimity. So, on the 
other side, if you lengthen it, -zs-cc^sxQuv tiroivia-Bv^ 

* Oial. de Coiona. p. 1 M, ed. Oxon, 


ua-TTs^si ve(pog, the sense indeed is still preserved, 
but the cadence is entirel}^ lost. For the 
grandeur of the period languisheth and re- 
laxeth, when enfeebled by the stress that 
must be laid upon the additional syllable. 


But, amongst other methods, an apt Con- 
nexion of the parts conduces as much to the 
aggrandizing discourse,^ as symmetry in the 
members of the body to a majestic mien. If 
they are taken apart, each single member will 
have no beauty or grandeur, but when skil- 
fully knit together, they produce what is 
called ajinc person. So the constituent parts 
of noble periods, when rent asunder and di- 
vided, in the act of division fly off and lose 
their Sublimity ; but when united into one 
body, and associated together by the bond 
of harmony, they join to promote their own 

1 So Mr. Pope:— ' ! ; 

\ ■ In wit, as nature, what affects our hearts 

Is notth' exactness of peculiar parts; 
'Tis not a lip or cheek we beauty call, 
But the joint force and full result of all. 

Efisou on Criticism. 

y ■■ 


elevation, and by their union and multiplicity 
bestow a more emphatical turn upon every 
period. Thus several poets, and other writers, 
possessed of no natural Sublimity, or rather 
entire strangers to it, have very frequently 
made use of common and vulgar terms, 
that have not the least air of elegance to re- 
commend them ; yet, by musically disposing 
and artfully connecting such terms, they 
clothe their periods in a kind of pomp and 
exaltation, and dexterously conceal their in- 
trinsic lowness. . - 
Many writers have succeeded by this me- 
thod, but especially ^ Philistus, as also Ari- 
stophanes, in some passages, and Euripides 
in very many. Thus Hercules, after the 

murder of his children, cries,* 

. . r 

I'm full of mis'ries ; there's not room for more. 

The words are very vulgar, but their turn 
answering so exactly to the sense, gives the 

^ Commentators differ about this Philistus. Some affirm it 
should be Philiscus, who, according to Dacier, wrote comedy, 
but according to Tollius, tragedy. Quinctilian (whom Dr. 
Pearce follows) mentions Philistus a Syracusan, a great fa- 
vourite of Dionysius the tyrant, whose history he wrote, after 
the manner of Thucydides, but with the sincerity of a courtier. 

f Euripid. Hercules furens, ver. 1250, ed. }3arnes. 


period an exalted air. And if you transpose 
tliem into any other order, you Avill quickly 
be convinced, that Euripides excels more in 
fine composition than in fine sentiments. So 
in his description of ^ Dirce dragged along 
by the bull, — 

•" Zethus and Ampliion tied their mother-in-law, Dirce, by 
the hair of her head to a wild bull, which image Euripides has 
represented in this passage. Langbaine observes, that there is 
a tine sculpture on this subject, by Taurisius, in the palace of 
Farnese at Rome, of which Baptista de Cavalleriis has given 
us a print in 1. iii. p. 3. antiq. statuariun iirhis Homce. 

There is a much greater Imaire than this in the Paradise 
Lost, B. vi. 644, with which this remark of Longinus on the 
sedate grandeur and judicious pauses will exactly square: 

From their foundations loos'ning to and fro, 
They pluck'd the seated hills, with ail their load, 
Rocks, waters, woods ; and by the shaggy tops 
Uplifting bore them in their hands. ^ 

So again in Book ii. ver. .557. — When the fallen spirits are 
engaged in deep and abstruse researches concerning fate, free- 
will, foreknowledge, the very structure of the words expresses 
the intricacy of the discourse ; and the repetition of some of 
the words, with epithets of slo\v pronunciation, shews the difii- 
culty of making advancements in such unfathomable points : 

Odiers apart sat on a hill retir'd. 
In thoughts more elevate, and reason'd high 
Of providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate ; 
Fix'd fate, free-will, foreknowledge absolute ; 
And found no end, in wand'ring mazes lost. 


Whene'er the madd'ning creature rag'd about 
And whirl'd his bulk around in awkward circles, 
The dame, the oak, the rock, were dragg'd along. 

The thoudit itself is noble, but is more 
ennobled, because the terms used in it are 
harmonious, and neither run too hastily off 
the ear, nor are, as it were, mechanically 
accelerated. They are disposed into due 
pauses, mutually supporting one another; 
these pauses are all of a slow and stately 
measure, sedately mounting to sohd and sub- 
stantial grandeur. ., , 



Nothing so much debases Sublimity as * 
broken and precipitate measures, such as 
^ Pyrrhics, Trochees, and Dichorees, that are 
fit for nothing but dances. yr*eriods tuned 
in these numbers, are indeed neat and brisk, 
but devoid of passion ;/ and their cadence 
being eternally the same, becomes very dis- 
agreeable. But what is still worse, as in 
soncrs, the notes divert the mind from the 
sense, and make us attentive only to the 

^ A P) rihic is a foot of two short syllables ; a Trochee of 
one long and one short ; and a Dichorce is a double Trochee. 


music ; so these brisk and rhyming periods 
never raise in the audience any passion suit- 
able to the subject, but only an attention to 
the run of the words. Hence, foreseeing the 
places where they must necessarily rest, they 
have gestures answering to every turn, can 
even beat the time, and tell beforehand, as ex- 
actly as in a dance, where the pause will be. 
> In like manner. Periods forced into too nar- 
row compass, and pent up in words of short 
and few syllables, or that are, as it were, 
nailed together in an awkward and clumsy 
manner, are always destitute of grandeur. 


";:^ Contraction of Style is another great di- 
minution of Sublimity. ^ Grandeur requires 
room, and when under too much confinement, 
cannot move so freely as it ought. I do not 
mean here Periods, that demand a proper 
conciseness ; but, on the contrary, those that 
are curtailed and minced. Too much Con- 
traction lays a restraint upon the sense, but 

^ Conciseness strengthens and adjusts it. And 
on the other side, it is evident, that when pe- 
riods arc spun out Into a vast extent, their life 


and spirit evaporate, and all their strength is 
lost, by being quite overstretched. 


Low and sordid words are terrible bler> 
mishes to fine sentiments. Those of Herodo- 
tus, in his description of a tempest, are divine- 
ly noble, but the terms in which they are ex- 
pressed, very much tarnish and impair their 
lustre. Thus, when he says,* " The seas be- 
gan ^ to seeth," how does the uncouth sound 
of the word seeth, lessen the grandeur ? And 
further, " The wind (says he) was tired out, 
and those who were wrecked in the storm, 
ended their lives very disagreeably.'' To be 
tired out, is a mean and vulgar term ; and 
that disagreeably, a word highly dispropor- 
tioned to the tragical event it is used to ex- 
press. ' - ' 

* Herod.l. 7. c. 19I. 

1 " To seeth."] I have chosen this word rather than hoil, 
which is not a blemished term in our language : and besides, 
seeth resembles more the Greek word i^Ecratrtjc in the ill sound 
that it has upon the palate, which is the fault that Longinus 
finds with the word in Herodotus. Milton has something of 
the like sort which offends the ear, when we read in Book i. 
Azazel, " as his right," Sec. 1- 3 ^ r., ; ^ 


^Theopompus, in like manner, after setting 
out splendidly in describing the Persian expe- 
dition into Egypt, has spoiled all, by the in- 
termixture of some low and trivial words. 
" What city or what nation Avas there in all 
Asia, which did not compliment the king 
Avith an embassy? What rarity was there, 
either of the produce of the earth, or the 
work of art, with which he was not presented? 
How many rich and gorgeous carpets, with 
vestments purple, white, and particoloured ? 
How many tents of golden texture, suitably 
furnished with all necessaries? How many 
embroidered robes and sumptuous beds, be- 
sides an immense quantity of wrought silver 
and gold, cups and goblets, some of which 
you might see adorned with precious stones, 
and others embellished with most exquisite 
art and costly workmanship ? Add to these 
innumerable sorts of arms, Grecian and Bar- 
barian, beasts of burden beyond computa- 
tion, and cattle fit to form the most luxurious 
repasts. And further, how many bushels of 
pickles and preserved fruits ? How many 

- Tlieopompus was a Cliian and a scholar of Isocrates. 
His genius was too hot and impetuous, whicli was the occa- 
now of a remark of his master Isocrates, that " Kphorus always 
wanted a 5pur, bulThcopompus a curb." ,^ >, .•,,-. 


hampers, packs of paper, and books, and all 
things besides, that necessity or convenience 
could require? In a word, there was so great 
abundance of ail sorts of flesh ready salted, 
that when put together, they swelled to pro- 
digious heights, and were regarded by per- 
sons at a distance, as so many mountains or 
hillocks piled one upon another/' lie has 
here sunk from a proper elevation of his sense 
to a shameful lowness, at that very instant, 
when his subject required an enlargement. 
And bssides, by his confused mixture of 
baskets, of pickles, and of packs, in the nar- 
rative of so grand preparations, he has shifted 
the scene, and presented us with a kitchen. 
If, upon making preparation for any grand 
expedition, any one should bring and throw 
down a parcel of hampers and packs, in 
the midst of massy goblets adorned witli in- 
estimable stones, or of silver embossed, and 
tents of golden stuffs, what an unseemly spec- 
tacle would such a gallimaufry present to the 
eye ! It is the same with description, in 
which these low terms, unseasonably applied, 
become so many blemishes and flaws. 

Now he might have satisfied himself with 
giving only a sunmiary account of those 
mountains (as he says they were thought) of 


provisions, and when he came to other parti- 
culars of the preparations, might have varied 
his narration thus ; " There was a great mul- 
titude of camels and other beasts, laden with 
all sorts of meat requisite either for satiety 
or delicacy :" or have termed them, " heaps 
of all sorts of viands, that would serve as well 
to form an exquisite repast, as to gratify the 
nicest palate ;'' or rather, to comply with his 
humour of relating things exactly, " all that 
caterers and cooks could prepare, as nice 
and delicate/' 

In the Sublime, we ought never to take up 
with sordid and blemished terms, unless re- 
duced to it by the most urgent necessity. 
The dignity of our words ought always to be 
proportioned to the dignity of our sentiments. 

Here we should imitate the proceeding of 
nature in the h^man fabric, who has neither 
placed those parts, which it is indecent to 
mention, nor the vents of the excrements, in 
open view, but concealed them as much as 
is possible, and " removed their channels 
(to make use of Xenophon's words*) to the 
greatest distance from the eyes," thereby to 

* Xenoph. ATTOfxrtjfiov. 1. 2. p. 45. edit. Oxon. 


preserve the heauty of the animal entire and 

To pursue this topic further, bj a particu- 
lar recital of whatever diminishes and impairs 
the Sublime, would be a needless task. We 
have already shewn what methods elevate and 
ennoble, and it is obvious to every one that 
their opposites must lower and debase it. ~ 


Something yet remains to be said, upon 
which, because it suits well with your inqui- 
sitive disposition, I shall not be averse from 
enlarging. It is not long since a philosopher 
of my acquaintance discoursed me in the 
following manner. 

" It is (said he) to me, as well as to many 
others, a just matter of surprise, how it comes 
to pass, that in the age we live, there are 
many geniuses Avell practised in the arts of 
eloquence and persuasion, that can discourse 
with dexterity and strength, and embellish 

^ Quje partes autem corporis, ad naturoe necessitatem datae, 
adspectum essent deformem habitinas ac turpem, eas contexit 
atque abdidit. Cicero cle Offic. p.6l, 6'2. Edit.Cochman. 


their style in a very graceful manner, but 
none (or so few, that they are next to none) 
who may be said to be truly great and sub- 
lime. The scarcity of such writers is general 
througliOut the world. May we believe at 
last, that there is solidity in that trite obser- 
vation, That democracy is the nurse of true 
genius ; that fine writers will be found only 
in this sort of government, with which they 
flourish and triumph, or decline and die? 
Liberty, it is said, produces fine sentiments 
in men of genius; it invigorates their hopes, 
excites an honourable emulation, and inspires 
an ambition and thirst of excelling. And 
what is more, in free states there are prizes 
to be gained, which are worth disputing. So 
that by this means, the natural faculties of 
the orators are sharpened and polished by 
continual practice, and the liberty of their 
thoughts, as it is reasonable to expect, shines 
conspicuously out in the liberty of their de- 

" But for our parts (pursued he) Mve were 

1" We were born in subjection," See] The words in the 
original xat^OjitaQftc (^ouXaac ^tcatnc "-le differently interpreted 
hy persons of gieat learning and sagacity. Madame Dacier 
has taken occasion to mention tlieni in her notes upon Te- 
rence. Her words are these : " In the last chapter of Longi- 


born in subjection, in lawful subjection, it is 
true, to arl)itrarj government. Hence, the 

nus, TraicofiaOeiQ covXEiag cit:aiaQ, signifies not, we are from our 
infancy used to a lazeful government, but to an easi/ govern- 
ment, chargeable with neither tyranny nor violence." Dr. 
Pearce is of a quite contrary opinion. " The word cikcuu (says 
he) does not signify 7nild or easy, as some think, hut just and 
lazeful vassalage, when kings and rulers are possessed of a full 
power and authority over their subjects : and we find Isocrates 
uses flpx'/ ^i-Kaia (a despotical government) in this sense." The 
Doctor then gives his opinion, that " Longinus added this 
word, as well as some which follow, that his affection to the 
Roman emperor might not be suspected." 

I have chosen to translate these words in the latter sense, 
which (with submission to the judgment of so learned a lady), 
seems preferable to, and more natural than, that which Madame 
Dacier has given it. The Critic (in the person of the philoso- 
pher who speaks here) is accounting for the scarcity of sublime 
writers ; and avers democracy to be the nurse of genius, and 
the greatest encourager of sublimity. The fact is evident from 
the republics of Greece and Rome. In Greece, Athens was 
most democratical, and a state of the greatest liberty. And 
hence it was, that, according to the observation of Paterculus 
(1. i. near the end), " Eloquence flourished in greater force 
and plenty in that city alone, than in all Greece besides : inso- 
much that (says he) though the bodies of the people were dis- 
persed into other cities, yet you would think their genius to 
have been pent up within the bare precincts of Athens." Pin- 
dar the Theban, as he afterwards owns, is the only exception 
to this remark. So the city of Rome was not only the seat of 
liberty and empire, but of true wit and exalted genius. The 
Roman power indeed outHved the Roman liberty, but wit 
and genius could not long survive it. What a high value 



prevailing manners made too strong an im- 
pression on our infant minds, and the in- 
fection was sucked in with the milk of our 
nurses. We have never tasted hberty, that 
copious and fertile source of all that is beau- 
tiful and of all that is great, and hence are 
we nothing but pompous flatterers. It is 
from hence that we may see all other qualifi- 
cations displayed to perfection, in the minds 
of slaves : but never yet did a slave become 
an orator. His spirit being eftectually broken, 
the timorous vassal will still be uppermost ; 
the habit of subjection continually overawes 
and beats down his genius. For, according 
to Homer,* 

Jove fix'd it certain, that whatever day 

Makes man a slave, takes half his worth away. — Pope. 

ought we then to set upon liberty, sirce without it, nothing 
great or suitable to the dignity of human nature, can possibly 
be produced ! Slavery is the fetter of the tongue, the chain of 
the mind, as well as of the body. It embitters life, sours and 
corrupts the passions, damps the towering faculties implanted 
within us, and stifles in the birth the seeds of every thing that is 
amiable, generous, and noble. Reason and Freedom are our 
own, and given to continue so. We are to use, but cannot 
resign them, without rebelling against Him who gave them. 
The invaders of either ought to be resisted by the united force 
of all men, since they encroach on the privileges we receive 
from God, and traverse the designs of infinite goodness. 
* Odyss. ver. 3C2. 


" Thus I have heard (if what I have heard 
in this case mav deserve credit) that the cases 
in which dwarfs are kept, not only prevent 
the future growth of those who are inclosed 
in them, but diminish what bulk they already 
have, by too close constriction of their parts. 
So slavery, be it never so easy, yet is slavery 
still, and may deservedly be called the prison 
of the soul, and the pubhc dungeon." 

Here I interrupted. " Such complaints as 
yours, against the present times, are generally 
heard, and easily made. But are you sure 
that this corruption of genius is not owing to 
the profound peace which reigns throughout 
the world ? or rather, does it not flow from k; 
the war within us, and the sad effects of our j 
own turbulent passions? Those passions plunge 
us into the worst of slaveries, and tyranni- \ 
cally drag us wherever they please. Avarice 
(that disease of which the whole world is sick 
beyond a cure), aided by voluptuousness, 
holds us fast in chains of thraldom ; or rather, 
if I may so express it, overwhelms lii'e itself, 
as well as all that live, in the depths of misery. 
For love of money is the disease which ren- ^ 
ders us most abject ; and love of pleasure is 
that which renders us most corrupt. I have, 
indeed, thought much upon it, but after al 

r 2 '■ 


judge it impossible for the pursuers, or, to 
speak more truly, the adorers and worsliip- 
pers of immense riches, to preserve their souls 
from the infection of those vices wliich are 
fn-ndy allied to them. For profuseness will be 
wherever there is affluence. They are firmly 
linked together, and constant attendants upon 
one another. Wealth unbars the gates of 
cities, and opens the doors of houses : pro- 
fuseness gets in at the same time, and there 
they jointly fix their residence. After some 
continuance in their new establishment, they 
build their nests (in the language of philoso- 
phy), and propagate their species. There they 
hatch arrogance, pride, and luxury, no spu- 
rious brood, but their genuine offspring. If 
these children of wealth be fostered and suf- 
fered to reach maturity, they (juickly engen- 
der the most inexorable tyrants, and make 
the soul groan under the oppressions of inso- 
lence, injustice, and the most seared and 
hardened impudence. When men are thus 
fallen, what I have mentioned must needs re- 
sult from their depravity. They can no longer 
endure a sight of any thing above their gro- 
velling selves ; and as for reputation, they re- 
gard it not. AVhen once such corru[)tion in- 
fects an age, it gradually spreads and becomes 


universal. /The faculties of the soul will then 
grow stupid, their spirit will be lost, and good 
sense and genius must lie in ruins, when the 
care and study of man is engaged about the 
mortal, the worthless part of himself, and he 
has ceased to cultivate virtue, and polish his 
nobler part, the soul. _ ."• \ 

" A corrupt and dishonest judge is inca- 
pable of making unbiassed and solid deci- 
sions by the rules of equity and honour. His 
habit of corruption unavoidably prevents 
what is right and just, from appearing right 
and just to him. Since then tlie whole tenor 
of life is guided only by the rule of interest, 
to promote which, we even desire the death 
of others to enjoy their fortunes, after having 
by base and disingenuous practices crept 
into their wills; and since we frequently 
hazard our lives for a little pelf, the misera- 
ble slaves of our own avarice, can we expect, 
in such a general corruption, so contagious a 
depravity, to find one generous and impar- 
tial soul above the sordid views of avarice, 
and clear of every selfish passion, that may 
distinguish what is truly great, what works 
are fit to live for ever ? Is it not better for 
persons in our situation, to submit to the 
yoke_oJLgovernment, rather than continue 

222 L o n: g I n I s on t u i: s j b l i m f. . 

masters of themselves, since such headstrong 
passions, when set at liberty, would rage like 
madmen, who have burst their prisons, and 
inflame the whole world with endless dis- 
orders? /In a word, aiiiaseiisibility.to-what- 
ever is truly great has beeiitlie bane of every 
rising genius of the present age. Hence life 
in general (for the exceptions are exceeding 
few) is thrown away in indolence and sloth. 
In this deadly lethargy, or even any brighter 
intervals of the disease, our faint endeavours 
aim at nothing but pleasure and empty osten- 
tation, too weak and languid for those high 
accjuisitions, which take their rise from noble 
einuhition, and end in real advantage and 
substantial glory." 

Here perhaps it may be proper to drop 
this subject, and pursue our business. ^ We 

' " We come Jiow to the Passions," &c.] The learned 
Morkl ought certainly to be condoled with, on die great loss 
tlicy have sustained in Longinus's Treatise on the Passions. 
The excelleiKc of this on the Sublime, makes us regret the 
more the loss of the other, and inspires us with deep resent- 
ments of die irreparable depredations committed on learning 
and the valuable productions of antiquity, by CioUis, and 
monks, and time. There, in all probability, \\c should have 
beheld the secret springs and movements of the soul disclosed 
to view. There we should have been taught, if rule and obser- 
vation in this case can teach, to elevate an audience into joy, 


come now to the Passions, lui account of 
which I have promised before in a distinct , 
treatise, since they not only constitute the 
ornaments and beauties of discourse, but if = 
I am not mistaken) have a sjreat share in the 

or melt them into tears. Tliere we sliould have learned, if 
ever, to work upon every passion, to put every heart, every 
pulse in emotion. At present we must sit down contented 
under the loss, and be satisfied with this invaluable piece on the 
Sublime, which with much hazard has escaped a w reck, and 
gained a port, though not undamaged. Great indeed are the 
commendations which thejudicious bestow upon it, but not iu 
the least disproportioned to its merit. For in it are treasured 
up the laws and precepts of fine writing, and a fine taste. 
Here are the rules which polish the writer's invention, and 
refine the critic's judgment. Here is an object proposed at 
once for our admiration and imitation. 

Dr. Pearce's advice will be a seasonable conclusion — 
'^ Read over very frequently this golden Treatise (which de- 
serves not only to be read but imitated), that you may hence 
understand, not only how the best authors have written, but 
learn yourself to become an author of the first rank. Read it 
therefore and digest it, then take up your pen in the words of 
Virgil's Nisus — ' ' ' 

Aliquidjamdudiun invadere magnum 

Mens agitat mihi, nee placida contenta quiete est.' 




Aratiis • 

121, 123 

. 112 

. 53, 59 

. 169 

100, 157 

Archilochus • 102, 112, 183 
Arimaspians, Author of the 
Poem on the • • • 97 
Aristophanes • • • 207 
Aristotle • • • • 174 



Cecilius 4t, 45, 57, 67, 70, 
169, 179 
Callisthenes • • • • 53 
Cicero • • • • 107, 108 
Clitarchus • • • • 53 

Demosthenes, 50, 102, 107, 

186, 188, 192, 205 

Eratosthenes • • • 183 
Eiipolis • . • 130. 131 
Euripides 119, 123, 207, 208 

Gorgias ihc Leontine • 52 

Hccatn?us • • • • 160 

Hegcsias 53 

Herodotus, 61,112, 147, 157, 

165, 171,198, 211 

Hesiod .... 75, 114 

Homer, 60, 74, 75, 78, 81, 86, 

87, 89, 98, 112, 113, 114, 

140, 162, 181, 192, 218 

Hyperides, 126, 184, 185, 186, 


lo the Chian 
Isocrates • 

Lysias • 

Matris . 

. . 183 
58,42, 96 


• • 53 

. . 83 

Philistus .... 207 
Phrynicus • • • '154 
Pindar . . . 183, 184 
Plato, 58,60, 107,109, 113, 
179, 189, 193 

Sappho 93 

Simonides • • • • 125 
Sophocles,53, 124,152,183,184 
Stesichorus • . • .112 

Theocritus . . 182, 183 
Thcodoriis - » ' • 56 
Thcophrastiis • • • 74 
Theopoinpus • • 169,212 
Thucydides, 1 14, 148, 156, 198 
Timceus .... 57, 58 

Xenophon, 58, 59, 60, 66, 1 39, 
156, 165, 175,214 



Piinl(d by J. F. Do\r, St. John's Stjuare. 






Ctan0fatet» from t§e dDrecfe of jaiato. 

An toti morimur ? nullaque pars manel 
Nostri ; cum profugo spiritus habitu 
Immistus nebulis cessit in aera, 
Et nudum tetigit subdita fax latus? 

Seneca in Troad. Act II. v. 378, 







Persons introduced in the Dialogue. 






Officer of the Eleven Masistrates. 


TO ^^tp^^^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^^ T'CiO 


JHad I prefixed your name to this Address, 
I should feel that some apology were due 
from me, for taking the liberty to inscribe 
the annexed essay to your patronage, without 
having previously apprized you of the inten- 
tion; but as the form here adopted will, I 
trust, sufficiently preclude the necessity of 
such apology, I shall not trouble you with 
any further observations on the subject, 
but proceed shortly to state the motives 


which induce me to hazard the present 

The following pages were written several 
years since, both as an exercise with a view 
to the attainment of some proficiency in the 
original language, and from a desire to be 
acquainted with the arguments which reason, 
unassisted by revelation, could assign in 
support of a future existence. When I was 
induced to attempt a translation of the 
Ph.edo, I was not aware that any other 
person had ever been engaged in a similar 
undertaking; and if I now venture to solicit 
your attention to this specimen of my humble 
endeavours, I am chiefly encouraged by a 
conviction that you will receive it with every 
candid allowance for the difficulties I have 
had to encounter. And here I must entreat 


your particular indulgence for the numerous 
imperfections in the style. My principal aim 
* has been to produce as literal an interpreta- 
tion as the intricacy of the subject would 
allow; and every expression has been stu- 
diously rejected which might appear marked 
with the affectation of ornament: — but, to 
convey any thing like an adequate idea of 
the pure and eloquent language of the 
original, would be a task which the most 
accomplished scholars could scarcely aspire 
to execute. It would certainly be too much, 
to flatter myself that I have been able, in 
every instance, successfully to detail the 
statement, whether of refutation or confirma- 
tion, which is pursued in this celebrated 
treatise; but I trust it may be found that 
the general line of argument is not unfaith- 
fully presented ; or, at least, that there is no 



palpable violation of the author's principles, 
or want of connexion in the reasoning. 

In the Notes, which I have thought it 
necessary to subjoin, I have confined myself 
almost entirely to those passages which, 
from the remoteness of the allusion, seemed 
more particularly to require some explana- 
tion: in one or two instances, the extracts 
will, perhaps, appear extended to an unusual 
length ; but it was conceived that any mate- 
rial curtailment would have the effect of 
weakening the statement which their inser- 
tion was designed to illustrate. 

The partiality of friendship is so generally 
apt to bias the judgment, that I have hitherto 
resisted every application to submit this 
attempt to the Public. I now suffer my 


reluctance to be subdued, in the hope that 
if the annexed translation should have the 
fortune to attract the notice of criticism, it 
may be the means of procuring, from some 
more competent hand, a less imperfect sketch 
of an inimitable original. 

In addresses of this nature, Sir, I believe 
it is usual to offer some complimentary 
tribute to the public or private worth of the 
individual who may be their object. I have, 
however, no design to assume the privileges 
of a dedicatio7i ; and I shall equally forbear 
every allusion, either to the uprightness and 
independence of your conduct when in par- 
liament, or to the active discharge of the 
more retired duties connected with the situa- 
tion and character of a country gentleman. 
Indeed, I have no oblation to present besides 


an assurance of the unfeigned respect and 
gratitude with which I have the honour to 
subscribe myself, 


Your most obliged, faithful, 

And affectionate servant, 

T. R. J. 

London, July 30, 1813. 


A SHORT retrospect of the distinguishing traits in the 
character of Socrates, and of the events which preceded 
his arraignment, may, perhaps, not be unacceptable to 
the reader, as ilkistrative of the object and occasion of 
the subjoined treatise. 

This extraordinary man was born at Athens, between 
four and five hundred years before the Christian aera. 
His origin was ignoble, and his figure ungraceful ; but 
the rich endowments of his mind furnished ample com- 
pensation for the huniility of his extraction and the 
deficiencies of personal beauty. He pursued, for some 
time, the occupation of his father ;» but was induced to 
* A statuary. 


relinquish that employment for the study of philosophy, 
at the entreaties of Crito, who knew how to appreciate 
his genius, and who earnestly sought his friendship. 
But the tranquil labours of the closet did not disqualify 
him for the active duties of the patriot. Like the rest 
of his countrymen, he appeared in the field of battle, 
where he was soon distinguished by an exhibition of 
courage the most ardent and heroic ; to an exertion of 
which, his pupils, Xenophon and Alcibiades, owed the 
preservation of their lives. On another occasion, he 
signalized himself by opposing the violence of popular 
clamour, which was raised against the Athenian ad- 
mirals after the battle at Argineusae, when, instead of 
being rewarded for so brilliant a victory, the com- 
manders* were made a barbarous example of the 
power and ingratitude of their countrymen. The 
popular incendiaries were so loud and vehement in 
their demands for justice, that the magistrates were 

* Upon a relation of the fight before fte senate, it was urged, that 
they had stiftered their men to perish by shipwreck, from a neglect of 
employing the proper means of preserving them. The Peloponesians 
lost about seventy sail, the Athenians twenty-five. 


intimidated, and Socrates was the only person who 
appeared with sufficient resokition to refuse acting 
contrary to law. He was on all occasions the un- 
daunted champion of rational liberty, and lashed the 
bigotry of the age with the most severe and caustic 
raillery. One of his panegyrists describes him as the 
common Father of the Republic ; so zealous was he in 
promoting the welfare of his country. 

It has been well remarked, that the philosophy of 
Socrates forms an important epoch in the history of 
the human mind : it was this which first called the 
attention of mankind from the abstruse subtleties of 
metaphysical research, and, by inculcating the soberer 
lessons of morality, engaged his disciples in the 
pursuit of virtue and rational religion. The utility 
of every design must be estimated by the probability 
of attaining its ultimate object: and as it is an 
hopeless task to amend the aged, to attempt to root out 
vices and follies which through habit and prejudice 
have become inveterate, the Philosopher confined 


his labours principally to the instruction of youth, 
in whose unadulterated minds the lessons of wisdom 
were more likely to produce a lasting impression. He 
had no school or fixed place, like other philosophers, 
for delivering his lectures, but taught in all places, and 
on all occasions ; in walking, in conversation, at repasts, 
in the midst of the camp, in the solitude of retirement, 
or in crowded assemblies. ♦ 

A character such as this in a turbulent and tyran- 
nical state like Athens, presenting, by its virtues, a 
living satire against the enormities of the times, ne- 
cessarily created many powerful enemies. He was 
accordingly devoted to destruction. But as his irre- 
proachable manner of life, and the popularity of his 
doctrine, procured him many adherents, it was judged 
necessary to prepare the public mind previously to the 
exertion of any act of severity. For many years, 
therefore, before his death, he had been held as a mark 
for ridicule ; and the comic writers, Eupolis and 
Aristophanes, were taught to consider him as a fit 


subject for the stage. The latter author, in his cele- 
brated comedy of The Clouds, made him and his 
pursuits the direct object of attack; and the Philo- 
sopher himself was introduced suspended in a basket, 
and speaking in a tone correspondent to his mock 
sublimity. Socrates, who was present at the repre- 
sentation, did not betray the least emotion, but rose 
from his seat and openly exhibited his person to the 
spectators. " The divinest man," says lord Shaftesbury,* 
" that had appeared ever in the heathen world, was, in 
the height of witty times, and by the wittiest of all 
poets, most abominably ridiculed in a whole comedy 
writ and acted on purpose. But, so far was this from 
sinking his reputation, or suppressing his philosophy, 
that they both increased the more for it, and he appa- 
rently grew to be more the ejivy of other teachers. He 
was not only contented to be ridiculed, but, that he 
might help the poet as much as possible, he presented 
himself openly in the theatre, that his real figure (which 
was no advantageous one) might be compared with 
* A letter concerning enthusiasm. 


that which the witty poet had brought as his repre- 
sentative on the stage.* Such was his good humour. 
Nor could there be in the world a greater testimony of 
the invincible goodness of the man, or a greater demon- 
stration that there was no imposture, either in his 
character or opinions. For that imposture should dare 
sustain the encounter of a grave enemy is no wonder. 
A solemn attack, she knows, is not of such danger to 
her. There is nothing she abhors and dreads like 
pleasantness and good humour.'^ 

As soon as the charges alleged against him had 
assumed a decisive shape, his friends concerted the 
promptest measures for his defence. Lycias, the most 
distinguished orator of the day, prepared an elaborate 
discourse, in which the tenour of Socrates' life and 
conduct was pourtrayed with all the force of the most 
pathetic reasoning. Socrates is said to have expressed 

* When his friends inquired whether he did not feel (he severity 
of the satire,—" Not at all," said he : "I fancy myself at a feast, 
where all my friends enjoy me." 


much gratification at the performance. As a com- 
position, he warmly approved it, and tendered many 
expressions of gratitude to the author ; but conceiving 
it to be more conformable to the rules of rhetoric 
than to the sentiments of philosophy, he declined to 
accept it. 

On the day fixed for his trial, the proceedings com- 
menced with the usual formalities. Melitus appeared 
as his accuser. The purport of the charge brought 
against this great man was, that he did not profess 
a veneration for the gods acknowledged by the 
republic, but that he introduced new divinities; and 
that he was employed in corrupting the Athenian 

To these charges Socrates replied at length, in a 
speech chiefly remarkable for its temperate but intrepid 
tone, without passion, without emotion ; " full of the 
noble liberty of a philosopher, with no other ornament 


than that of truth, and brightened universally with the 
character and language of innocence."* 

The faction, however, was sufficiently strong to 
procure his conviction, and he was sentenced to drink 
hemlock, the usual mode of execution at that time in 

The Philosopher heard the sentence with the most 
unmoved tranquillity. One of his disciples expressing 
the bitterest lamentation that his master should die 
innocent, — " Would you, then," said Socrates, smiling, 
" have me die guilty ? Melitus and Anytus may kill, 
but they cannot injure me." 

After his condemnation, he preserved throughout the 
same intrepidity of carriage and serenity of countenance 

* Plato, who was present and heard him deliver his defence, 
afterwards committed it to writing: this is the subject of one of his 
most finished pieces, which he has called the Apology of Socrates. 


with which he had uniformly enforced virtue, and held 
tyrants in awe. His prison was constantly visited by 
his friends and disciples, whom he continued to exhort 
by his precepts, and to animate by his example. 

Owing to a particular circumstance, the execution 
of the sentence was retarded for thirty days ; but, just 
before the time had expired, Crito came to apprize him 
of his approaching fate, and at the same time assured 
him that he had taken measures with the jailer for 
effecting his escape; and that he had secured him a 
safe retreat in Thessaly. Socrates smiled at this pro- 
posal, and inquired if there were any place out of 
Attica where men could be secured from death. Crito 
urged his entreaties with increased anxiety, adding 
every motive that the most ardent attachment could 
inspire; but when he had in vain assailed him with 
every argument drawn from the ties of friendship, he 
enforced the justice of his cause, and demanded if it 
was not essential to his own goodness to spare his 
fellow-citizens the guilt of innocent blood : but if those 


motives were insufficient, and he were regardless of 
his personal interest, could he be insensible to the 
welfare of his children? Could the stern virtues of 
the Philosopher absorb all the finer feelings of the 
parent ? 

Socrates listened to him m ith affectionate attention ; 
but, before he could adopt his recommendation, he 
deemed it proper to examine whether it were con- 
formable to the idea of justice, to leave the prison 
without the consent of the magistrates. This examina- 
tion canvasses an inquiry, whether a man unjustly 
condemned to death, can, without a crime, escape from 
the ministers of the law. The rigid integrity of Socrates 
inclined him to pronounce such conduct to be unjust; 
and he therefore heroically refused to leave the prison. 
He reverenced the institutions of his country, and 
sealed his obedience by his death. On the fatal day, 
almost all his friends repaired to the prison early in 
the morning. The sentence was not enforced till after 
sun-set, and he employed the intervening time in 


discussing a subject of all others the most important to 
a reasoning being, the immortality of the soul. The 
discussion arose from a question casually introduced, 
Whether a philosopher ought not to be desirous of 
dying ? This, taken too literally, seemed to imply an 
opinion, that a philosopher might be the author of his 
own death. Socrates shews the falsity of such opinion, 
and explains at length the various arguments by which 
a future existence is upheld. These, together Avith a 
refutation of the objections alleged against them, con- 
stitute the subject of the following dialogue. 

The small Jigures in the text refer to their respective 
numbers in the Notes at the end. 


1. Echecrates. Were you, Phaedo,^ in 
the prison with Socrates, when he drank the 
poison ; or were you informed of his decease 
by some other person ? 

Phaedo. I was present myself, Echecrates." 
Echec. By what peculiar circumstances 
was his death distinguished, and what was 
the nature of his last conversation ? I would 
gladly listen to so interesting a narrative ; for 
the inhabitants of Phlius have scarcely any 
intercourse with Athens, nor has any stranger 
lately visited us, who was at all capable of 
giving any detailed account; we heard only 
that his death was occasioned by poison, and 

2 PH.EDO. 

have hitherto been unable to acquire any 
further information. 

Ph<sd. Did you hear nothing respecting 
the process observed at his trial ? 

Echec. With that indeed we were made 
acquainted, and felt much astonishment at 
the interval which elapsed between the sen- 
tence and his execution: to what is such 
delay to be attributed ? 

Pliced. Entirely to accident; for, on the 
day preceding that on which he was 
arraigned, the stern of the vessel, Avhich 
the Athenians send annually to Delos, was 
solemnly crowned for the voyage. 

Echec. On what occasion was this cere- 
mony instituted ? 

Pliced. According to an Athenian tradition, 
this is the same vessel in which Theseus^ 
formerly sailed to Crete, with the fourteen 
chosen boys and virgins, whose redemption 
he effected without incurring any personal 
injury. During this expedition, the citizens 

PHiEDO. 3 

of Athens made a vow to Apollo, if the youths 
escaped destruction, to send each year a 
solemn procession to Delos, which they have 
ever since religiously fulfilled by an annual 
offering to the deity. On the commencement 
of the ceremony, the law enjoins a purifica- 
tion of the city, and no criminal can be put 
to death till after the ship has arrived at 
Delos, and returned again from thence. This 
sometimes employs a considerable length of 
time, from the occasional violence of the winds. 
The festival begins when the priest of Apollo 
has crowned the stern of the vessel : this, as I 
before stated, took place on the day preceding 
Socrates' trial ; and it was that circumstance 
which caused his detention in prison so long 
after his condemnation. 

2. Echec. But the event of his death is the 
point on which I am most anxious for inform- 
ation. How did he conduct himself at that 
crisis, and on what subjects did he principally 
converse ? Were any of his disciples present, 

4 PHiEDO. 

or did the magistrates deny them admission ? 
And did he thus meet death unattended by 
any of his friends ? 

Phced. Far otherwise : several of his dis- 
ciples continued with him constantly. 

Echec. If then you are not too much 
engaged, pray acquaint me with every par- 

Phced. I am perfectly at leisure, and will 
endeavour to satisfy your wishes: for, to 
recall Socrates to my recollection, either by 
speaking myself, or by attending to the 
narrative of others, constitutes my highest 

Echec. Be assured, Phaedo, your audience 
will be similarly affected ; enter, therefore, at 
large into the detail, and relate each circum- 
stance as distinctly as possible. 

Phced. Indeed I was agitated in no ordi- 
nary manner ; for I felt not those keen emo- 
tions of pity which the spectacle of a dying 
friend might be supposed to inspire. Socrates 

PHiEDO. 5 

had every appearance of being truly happy ; 
and so tranquil were his spirits, so collected 
was his conversation, with such exalted senti- 
ments and such unshaken fortitude, he finally 
closed his existence, that I was strongly 
impressed with the idea of his descending 
to the shades under the guidance of some 
protecting deity, who would conduct him to 
those habitations which are reserved for the 
mansions of the blessed. Thus I was neither 
totally overcome by sorrow, like those who 
are witnesses to scenes of deep affliction, nor 
could I be conscious of that gratification, 
which his philosophical discourses were ac- 
customed to create. A mingled sensation of 
pain and pleasure arose in my mind, when 
I reflected how soon he would for ever leave 
us. All present participated in these emotions, 
yielding alternately to either passion: but 
ApoUodorus, with whom you are well ac- 
quainted, distinguished himself above the 

6 PHiEDO. 

Echec. I know his disposition. 

Phced. The transitions, from grief to joy, 
were in him more marked and violent, while 
those of myself and the others were confused 
and less evident. 

Echec. Who were present at this scene? 

Phced. Apollodorus,^ Critobulus, and his 
father Crito, Hermogenes, Epigenes, ^Eschines, 
Antisthenes, Ctesippus, Menexenus, and a few 
other Athenians. Plato was prevented by 
severe indisposition. 

Echec. Were there no strangers present? 

Phced. Yes: Simmias the Theban, and 
Oebes and Phaedondes, with Euclid and 
Terpsion, from Megara. 

Echec. Were not Aristippus*^ and Cleom- 
brotus there? 

Phced, No: they were supposed to have 
been otherwise engaged at iEgina.^ 

Echec. Are these all who attended him ? 

Phced. I believe I have nearly mentioned 
the whole party. 

PH^DO. 7 

3. Ecliec. Now then acquaint me with the 
purport of his discourse. 

Phced. I will endeavour to give you the 
most ample information. It was our regular 
practice to visit Socrates daily, for which 
purpose we assembled every morning in the 
judicial forum, where he was arraigned, and 
which was contiguous to the prison. Here 
we remained in conference with each other 
till the doors were thrown open for our 
admission, when we instantly proceeded to 
Socrates, and generally passed the remainder 
of the day in his society. On the morning of 
his execution, we were earlier than usual in 
our attendance, being assured, when we left 
the prison on the preceding evening, that the 
vessel was returned from Delos. We resolved 
therefore on meeting at the accustomed place 
soon after the dawn ; and on our arrival, the 
jailer, who used to admit us, desired we would 
wait, and not attempt an entrance till he him- 
self came to conduct us ; adding, that the 

8 PHiEDO. 

Eleven Magistrates ^ were then striking off the 
irons with which Socrates was confined, having 
decreed on that day that he should suffer 
death. A short time after he returned, and 
acquainted us, that we had permission to go 
in, when we discovered Socrates just freed 
from his fetters, and his wife Xantippe sitting 
near him with his child in her arms. On ob- 
serving us, she burst into those exclamations 
with which women usually vent their sorrows, 
crying out, " O Socrates, for the last time 
your friends address you ! never will you see 
them more !" Socrates, then, turning towards 
Crito, said, " Pray let somebody attend her 
home." She was soon afterwards led away by 
Crito's servants, weeping with the most pas- 
sionate expressions of tenderness. Socrates 
then rose up in his bed, and gently bending 
his leg, chafed it for some time with his hand. 
While he was engaged in this occupation, 
" How strangely complicated, my friends," 
said he, " is that quality, which mankind 

PHiEDO. 9 

denominate pleasure ! How admirably is it 
interwoven with pain; to which, from the 
incompatibility of their union in the same 
person, it is apparently so opposite : yet, who- 
ever is successful in his pursuit of the one, 
must unavoidably participate in the other; as 
if they were both derived from the same 
common origin. If JEsop had indulged in 
reflections of this nature, he would probably 
have composed a fable, representing the deity 
desirous to reconcile these conflicting sen- 
sations, but, failing in his design, at length 
uniting their sources ; on which account, who- 
ever is subjected to the impressions of one, 
shortly after feels the influence of its asso- 
ciate. This I myself experience at the pre- 
sent moment ; for the pain which arose from 
the pressure of the iron on my leg, has, on its 
removal, been succeeded by pleasure." 

4. Here Cebes, interrupting him, exclaimed, 
" You have happily reminded me of several 
inquiries, which have been put to me by 

10 PHMDO. 

many of my acquaintance, and by Evenus^ 
very lately, with respect to your version of 
jEsop's fables, and the hymn to Apollo. 
They are all at a loss to conceive how you, 
who had never shewn any previous attach- 
ment to poetry, could have been induced to 
cultivate it when in confinement. If, therefore, 
Evenus should repeat this inquiry, and I have 
every reason to think he will, instruct me what 
answer I may return him." " Tell him," said 
Socrates, " what is exactly the truth, that I 
did not engage in such an undertaking from 
any desire to rival his productions, (for I well 
knew the difficulty of such an attempt,) but 
with a view to expound the purport of cer- 
tain dreams, and to discharge a religious cere- 
mony, if haply the pursuit of poetry should 
prove to be that particular species of music* 
which they had frequently enjoined me to 
exercise. For the same dream has been often 

* The Athenians gave the term music, ^ous-txrj, to every 
art. — See note at the end. 

PH.EDO. 11 

presented to my imagination under different 
appearances, and always conveying the same 
admonition : ' Socrates, apply yourself to the 
cultivation ofmusic.^ This I formerly consi- 
dered as nothing more than an injunction to 
pursue the course of life I had adopted, as 
runners are exhorted not to relax their efforts 
in the race. I therefore imagined myself 
charged to persevere in an application to 
* music,' and to philosophy as the most ex- 
cellent species. But since my condemna- 
tion, (the festival of Apollo having retarded 
the completion of the sentence,) supposing 
the admonition to have intended the more 
common and popular province of ' music,' I 
judged it less hazardous to obey the voice of 
my monitor, than to die unabsolved of a 
sacred duty. On this account, I composed 
a hymn in honour of the deity, w^hose rites 
were then celebrating ; but afterwards, enter- 
taining an idea that whoever aspired to the 
reputation of a true poet, ought not to 

12 PHiEDO. 

confine himself merely to the production of 
moral precepts, but should occasionally vary 
and illustrate them by fables; and having 
myself no mythological talents, I turned to 
those of jEsop, and adapted to the measures 
of poetry such as first offered themselves to 
my recollection. 

5. " This, Cebes, is the answer you may 
give Evenus. Assure him, at the same time, 
of my best wishes ; and recommend him, if 
he would truly consult his interest, to follow 
me, who am this day destined to take my 
departure from life ; for such is the decree of 
the Athenians." 

" What," replied Simmias, " is the recom- 
mendation which you send Evenus? I have 
frequently been thrown into his company; 
and, as far as I am capable of judging, he 
will always receive your admonitions with 

" Is not Evenus a philosopher?" said 

PHiEDO. 13 

" I believe so," answered Simmias. " He 
will follow me then, without hesitation," con- 
tinued Socrates ; " as will every true votary 
of that exalted profession. He will not, in- 
deed, put a period to his own existence ; for 
such practice is condemned by the laws." 

Having made this remark, he withdrew his 
{eet from the bed, and placed them on the 
floor, in which attitude he remained during 
the rest of his conversation. Cebes then 
demanded of him how he could reconcile the 
illegality of suicide with his observation, that 
a philosopher should be desirous of accom- 
panying a person doomed to suffer death? 
He replied, by inquiring if they had never 
heard this point examined by Philolaus.^ 
They assured him they had never found it 
sufficiently explained. " I," said Socrates, 
" can speak only from what I have heard on 
the subject; but this I have no scruple in 
communicating. Perhaps too it is a duty 
peculiarly incumbent on the person con- 

1^ PH^DO. 

demned to make the progress which awaits 
me, to investigate, as far as possible, its ten- 
dency and nature : and how shall we more 
advantageously employ the interval between 
the present hour and sun-set ?" ^ 

6. " On what account," said Cebes, " is 
suicide considered unlawful? I have often 
known Philolaus and others make a declar- 
ation of its illegality, but have never heard 
any explicit reason assigned for the prohibir 

" Be attentive, then," said Socrates, " and 
you may be soon convinced ; though, perhaps, 
it will fill you with astonishment to learn, 
that this is, of all others, an eternal and 
immutable truth: fixed, and independent of 
varying circumstances, it is equally applicable 
to the situation of those to whom death would 
be a refuge from greater evils, and who, being 
denied the privilege of effecting their own 
release, are destined to receive their deliver- 
ance from another." 

PHiEDO. 13 

" Jupiter alone can decide this," said Cebes, 
smiling. " Such a regulation appears irre- 
concilable to human reason ; yet, perhaps, some 
argument may be offered in its support. The 
doctrine repeated in the celebration of the 
mysteries, that mankind are posted to a 
station, from whence they have no authority 
to dismiss themselves, is indeed not easily 
intelligible ; but I assent entirely to the 
declaration, which assures us, that we are 
the property of the gods, who watch over 
our interests with attentive benignity." 

" Are your sentiments the same on this 
point?" *' They are;" replied Cebes. " Ima- 
gine, then, one of your slaves to have laid 
violent hands on himself, without receiving 
any notification that you desired his death: 
would not such conduct excite your displea- 
sure? and if he were susceptible of punish- 
ment, would you not inflict it?" " Yes, 
doubtless ;" said Cebes. " It follows then, 
by parity of reasoning, that mankind should 

16 PHiEDO. 

be debarred the commission of suicide, and 
taught to expect an express order from God, 
and await, in patient expectation, a summons 
similar to that which I have just received." 

7. " This," said Cebes, " I allow to be a 
rational conclusion : but your former affirma- 
tion, that a philosopher should be desirous of 
dying, carries with it an air of absurdity, if 
we admit the idea of mankind being the pro- 
perty of the gods, who are supposed to take 
an interest in their welfare and preservation. 
For it is unreasonable to imagine, that the 
wisest amongst the sons of men should not 
deplore the loss of the best and most power- 
ful of patrons. Surely no person, even in 
possession of the most absolute freedom, 
could hope to find an abler guardian in him- 
self. The fool indeed may think in his heart 
that a ruler ought, under all circumstances, 
to be avoided ; not reflecting that the good 
should be cultivated, and their authority 
prolonged. Thus he would unhesitatingly 

PH^DO. 17 

relinquish the benefit of such superintendence : 
but the prudent man will ever be desirous of 
remaining with one whose superior excellence 
he has felt and approved. On this account, 
Socrates, I draw a conclusion directly con- 
trary to your declaration; and affirm, that 
the wise repine at death, while fools will wel- 
come its approaches." 

Socrates appeared pleased with this rea- 
soning; and, turning towards us, said, " Cebes 
always examines the strength of an argument, 
and does not easily assent to any untried 
proposition." " I too," said Simmias, " ac- 
knowledge the force of his observation : for 
what prevailing motive can induce men of 
understanding to renounce those patrons who 
are confessedly so much their superiors, and 
rashly withdraw from their influence and 
protection? I imagine Cebes must have di- 
rected his remarks more particularly to you, 
who can retire with so little reluctance from 
your friends, and abandon the tutelage of 


18 PH^DO. 

the gods, whom you describe as such excel- 
lent governors." 

" Justly remarked," answered Socrates : 
" I see you wish that I should enter on my 
defence with as much solemnity as in a court 
of justice." " Such," replied Simmias, " are 
our earnest entreaties." 

8. " Let me then flatter myself that this 
vindication of my conduct will find a more 
favourable construction with you than it for- 
merly received from the judges. I should 
indeed act inconsistently, in resigning my 
life with composure, were I not impressed 
with an idea of being translated to the pre- 
sence of other wise and beneficent deities, 
and of being allowed to mingle in the circle 
of superior intelligences, released from their 
existence upon earth. I die in the sure and 
certain hope of joining the society of men dis- 
tinguished by their excellence : but though 
on this point I cannot speak with entire con- 
fidence, yet I have no hesitation to express, 

PH^DO. 19 

in the strongest terms, a conviction of finding 
gods endowed ^vith every perfect attribute. 
On this account, I am enabled to meet death 
with tranquillity, trusting there is some good 
reserved for departed spirits, and that the vir- 
tuous will be advanced far beyond the reach 
and condition of the malevolent." " Would 
you," said Simmias, " leave us without com- 
municating these sentiments; or will you 
admit your friends into a participation of 
them? To me it appears that a public be- 
nefit would result from their disclosure; and 
it will be a sufficient establishment of your 
defence, should you produce conviction in 
your hearers." " Such," said Socrates, " shall 
be my endeavour. But let us first inquire 
what Crito has to acquaint us with, for he 
has long shewTi an anxiety to deliver some 
information." " I have nothing to state," re- 
plied Crito, " but that the executioner has 
desired I would admonish you, as much as 
possible, to avoid discussion: for ho has 

20 PHiEDO. 

remarked, that disputants become heated by 
controversy; and, as in such temperament 
their constitutions resist the efforts of the 
poison, a repetition of the dose is often 
rendered necessary." " Entreat him," said 
Socrates, " to be under no uneasiness ; only 
let him prepare a sufficient quantity, should 
he be required a second, or even a third time, 
to administer the potion." " I anticipated 
such an answer," said Crito ; " but he strongly 
urged me to speak w^ith you." " Think of 
him no further," replied Socrates ; " but let 
me explain to you, as to my judges, those 
reasons, which incline me to the idea, that a 
philosopher ought to rejoice in the hour of 
death, and on what grounds he may indulge 
the hope of meeting in futurity more trans- 
cendant blessings and fulness of enjoyment. 
To you, Simmias and Cebes, I particularly 
address these observations : 

9. " Mankind in general seem unaware, 
that true philosophy consists in learning how 

PHiEDO. 21 

to die.^ Surely, then, it would be grossly in- 
consistent in those who have directed their 
views to such an object, Avere they to repine 
at the possession of what it has been the chief 
business of their lives to attain." " You compel 
me," cried Simmias, " to smile, however con- 
trary to my inclination; but I cannot help 
fancying how many, rould tliey hear this 
declaration, would implicitly subscribe to 
your opinion. The Athenians, in particular, 
would acknowledge the propriety of a phi- 
losopher's engaging in such pursuit, being 
perfectly apprized of his superior claims to 
receive the reward annexed to it." " They 
would thus," exclaimed Socrates, " unde- 
signedly speak what is truth, from an igno- 
rance of the motives by which philosophers 
are influenced. Let us, however, avoid 
introducing them into our discussion, but 
proceed uninterruptedly with the inquiry. 
Do you consider death as being really any 
thing?" " Unquestionably," said Simmias. 


22 PHyEDO. 

" Does it produce a separation oj^the soul 
from the body; and, after such disunion, 
has the soul an independent existence, per- 
fectly free and uncontrolled by the body ? Is 
this a correct definition of death?' " Per- 
fectly;" replied Simmias. " Let us, then," 
continued Socrates, " examine whether our 
sentiments have any further agreement, for 
we shall thus more clearly understand the 
object of investigation. Are you of opinion, 
that a philosopher is devoted to what are 
called the pleasures of the table?" " Surely 
not," said Simmias. " Is he addicted to the 
passion of love?" " Far otherwise." " Do 
you imagine he attaches any value to such 
bodily embellishments as are derived from 
gorgeous dresses, or sandals^ of exquisite 
workmanship? or does he disregard all per- 
sonal ornament as beneath his consideration?" 
" A true philosopher, in my opinion," an- 
swered Simmias, "pays no attention to objects 
of this nature." *' Do not the principal 

FllJEDO, 23 

pursuits of such a person lead him, on the 
contrary, to neglect the importunities of the 
body, and to apply his energies to the culti- 
vation of the soul?" " Certainly." " Is it 
not then sufficiently manifest, that a philo- 
sopher, beyond all other descriptions of men, 
directs his efforts to detach the soul from its 
connexion with the body?" " Clearly so." 
*'Yet the generality of mankind, Simmias, 
conceive a person of such description to be 
insensible of the charms of existence, and 
deserving only death. 

10. " Let us further consider, whether the 
body acts as an obstruction in the pursuit of 
knowledge. Are the organs of sight or hearing 
exempted from the possibility of illusion ; or 
are the poets ^ justified in their assertion, that 
we can neither hear nor see any thing with 
accuracy? If these, the most excellent of 
the body's attributes, are defective, surely all 
its other endowments must be fallible and 
imperfect. Is not such your opinion?" 

24 PHiEDO. 

"Entirely." " By what process then is the 
soul enabled to arrive at truth? for, when as- 
sociated with the body, it is evident that real 
knowledge eludes its attainment. Is it not 
by reason alone that we are conducted to 
any true conclusion ?" " Assuredly." " But 
the soul most powerfully exerts this faculty 
when divested of all corporeal incumbrances ; 
when, insensible to the impressions of either 
joy or grief, and inattentive to the seductions 
of the eye or ear, it remains collected in 
itself, unshackled by communion with the 
body. Is it not principally from this con- 
sideration, that the soul of a philosopher dis- 
cards all connexion with the body, and aspires 
to a separate, independent existence?" " I 
should imagine so." *' How then shall we 
decide respecting those objects which come 
imder the soul's contemplation? Shall we 
call justice a reality?" '* Most certainly." 
" Are goodness and beauty to be considered 
as real essences?" *' Vndonbtedly." " Could 

PH^DO. 25 

you ever see these realities?" "Never." 
" Did you ever view, through the medium of 
any bodily sense, such qualities as magni- 
tude, strength, or soundness ? or, indeed, any 
other objects which have a real existence? 
And if these are invisible to the body's organs, 
will not he the soonest arrive at a knowledge 
of them, who employs no faculties but what 
are furnished by the mind ? Will he not the 
most effectually accomplish his object, who 
proceeds to the investigation by rejecting the 
agency of the senses, and who trusts to the 
unclouded energies of reason to penetrate 
into the essence of whatever really exists? 
Is not such a person, Simmias, the most 
likely to acquire a true perception of things ?" 
" You have spoken incomparably;" said 

11. "It necessarily follows, then, that all 
true philosophers should entertain these sen- 
timents, and adopt this language. Reason is 
the path to guide us in our inquiries ; but 

g6 PHiEDO. 

while the soul continues suffering from the 
contamination of the body, it never can em- 
brace the truth, which it so eagerly longs 
after. The body requires incessant attention, 
on account of its necessary sustenance : the 
diseases which are incidental to its nature, 
unavoidably clog the progress of the mind, in 
addition to such obstacles as arise from the 
influence of love, fear, vehement desire, and 
all the extravagancies of the imagination. 
While subject to such controul, we can 
never hope to attain true wisdom. Battles, 
tumult, and sedition, all owe their origin to 
the body's appetites: wars are undertaken 
for the acquisition of riches,^ and these are 
necessarily resorted to as the means of ad- 
ministering to the body's wants. On this 
account, we are compelled to dedicate so 
little of our time to the labours of philosophy. 
But, what surpasses all other evils, — if any of 
us, taking advantage of an interval of leisure, 
should apply himself to close and abstract 

PHyEDO. 27 

meditation, — in the midst of his inquiry, the 
body interferes ; deranges his views ; confuses 
his ideas; bears down all before it; and, 
finally, renders any clear investigation hope- 
less. But it has been fully shewn, that, if 
we would truly understand any thing, we 
must totally discard the body, and contem- 
plate it with the faculties of the soul. Hence 
it appears probable, that in an hereafter we 
shall be permitted to obtain what we now 
desire so fervently: but while on earth, our 
researches must ever be imperfect and em- 
bittered. For if the body is unqualified for 
the reception of wisdom, it follows that true 
knowledge can only be attainable by death ; 
the soul being then first liberated from all 
bodily impediments. Yet while we remain 
on earth, we shall approach more nearly to 
this knowledge, in proportion as we avoid all 
unnecessary intercourse with the body ; pre- 
serving ourselves unpolluted by its contagion, 
till the Deity judges proper to release us. 

28 PHiEDO. 

Then, pure and undefiled, we shall be as- 
sociated with kindred spirits, and endowed 
with a perception of every true essence. 
But corruption cannot hold communion with 

" Such, Simmias, according to my ideas, 
are the sentiments which all sincere votaries 
of learning should interchange with each 
other. Do you entertain the same opinion ?" 
" Entirely, Socrates." 

12. " Thus, then, my friends, we may indulge 
a rational, well-grounded hope of accomplish- 
ing, after death, those objects we so actively 
pursued while living; and the progress, there- 
fore, which now awaits me, may be cheer- 
fully undertaken by another, whose mind has 
undergone the necessary preparation. The 
soul, as I before expressed myself, becomes 
more highly purified in proportion as it 
recedes from the body, and accustoms itself 
to an independent existence. Now, do we 
not call that death, which produces a total 

PHMDO. 29 

separation of the soul from any correspond- 
ence with the body?" " Certainly;" said 
Simmias. " But is it not peculiarly the pro- 
vince of all true philosophers, to apply their 
utmost energies towards effecting such dis- 
union?" " I conceive so;" replied Simmias. 
" Would it not, then, be ridiculously incon- 
sistent in any man, who had so regulated his 
ideas as constantly to present death to his 
imagination, were he on its arrival, to betray 
any symptoms of impatience ?" " Assuredly." 
" Persuade yourself then, Simmias, that all 
true philosophers are desirous of dying ; and 
that to them death comes armed with fewer 
terrors than to the rest of mankind. Exposed 
to incessant assaults from the body, and con- 
stantly endeavouring to escape their influence, 
would it not be the height of folly, to repine 
at the success of such efforts ? Or, who but 
a senseless idiot would embark with reluct- 
ance to the haven of his wishes, where the 
mind will meet repose, and the body cease 

30 PH/EDO. 

from importuning! Are there not many in- 
stances of men, who put a voluntary period 
to their lives, from a confident expectation of 
being thus restored to those departed rela- 
tives, who constituted their dearest interests 
on earth? And shall the ardent votary of 
WISDOM, who fondly cherishes the hope of 
finding her through death, reluctantly submit 
to die? Will he not rather hail with joy 
the hour of his departure? Such, surely, 
would be the resolution of a true philoso- 
pher, since he must be strongly impressed 
with a belief, that the fountain of wisdom can 
he approached by no other channel. Would 
it not then be strangely inconsistent in such 
a man to contemplate death with sentiments 
of terror?" " Beyond all question;" replied 

13. " Hence, then, we may fairly infer, that 
whoever yields up his life with reluctance, 
is a lover of pleasure more than a lover of 
truth: that he is devoted to the passion of 

PHiEDO. 31 

wealth, and the calls of ambition; selecting 
one as his favourite object, or being equally a 
slave to both." " The inference," said Simmias, 
" is extremely just." 

" Is not the virtue we call fortitude, exer- 
cised by philosophers in its highest perfec- 
tion ? And is not temperance, which, in the 
common acceptation of the term, implies an 
abstinence from lawless pleasures, and en- 
joins a chasteness and sobriety of conduct, 
peculiarly enforced by the practice of those 
who are exclusively engaged in the pursuit of 
wisdom?" " Assuredly." " But an attentive 
examination of these virtues, as they are 
usually practised, will sufficiently discover 
how vahi and irrational is their foundation." 
" How does this appear?" inquired Simmias. 
*' You will allow," continued Socrates, " that 
death is universally considered as the se- 
verest of all calamities ?" "It is so ;" said 
Simmias. " When men of courage therefore 
undergo this calamity with firmness, they are 

32 PH^EDO. 

influenced by a dread of sufferings still more 
acute. Thus all mankind, except philoso- 
phers, become brave from an impression of 
fear ; and that courage must surely be irra- 
tional, to whose exertion terror acts as the 
incentive." " You have convinced me en- 
tirely ;" said Simmias. " Is it otherwise with 
those who have acquired the reputation of 
being abstinent? or are they temperate only 
from motives of intemperance ? This, though 
apparently impossible, results from an impru- 
dent and ill-judged exercise of the virtue. 
Dreading a deprivation of the pleasures they 
most eagerly covet, they refrain from the 
allurements of a few to revel uncontrolled in 
the remainder. Intemperance, they allow, 
consists in an unconstrained submission to 
the passions; yet, while they acquire an 
ascendancy over their less powerful appetites, 
they yield an unlimited indulgence to every 
darling gratification. Thus, as was before 
observed, they practise temperance from an 

PHtEDO. 33 

impulse of the opposite vice." " It appears so, 
indeed," said Simmias. " We conclude, there- 
fore, that the unerring path to wisdom is not 
discoverable by the substitution of one plea- 
sure for another, or by discarding one grief or 
anxiety for others of a different complection, as 
smaller pieces of money are given in exchange 
for one of greater value: wisdom, the only true 
and genuine coin, can alone be entitled to uni- 
versal currency. By this, all objects of intrinsic 
worth may be attained : this is alone sufficient 
to ensure to us the possession of temperance, 
fortitude, and justice. In short, true virtue is 
the constant companion of wisdom, uninflu- 
enced either by misfortune or success. When 
torn from her society, it instantly assumes a 
base and servile aspect — no vestige remaining 
of that pristine excellence, without which, no- 
thing is pure, nothing is holy. Truth is the 
sacred essence, redeemed from all pollution. 
Temperance, justice, fortitude and prudence, 
are the instruments and agents of its power. Far 
otherwise than objects of derision, but men well 


31 PH^DO. 

skilled ill human nature, were the authors of 
those mysterious rites, which signified to the 
aspirants, by emblematical devices, the future 
punishments they are decreed to suffer, who 
descend to the infernal world unprepared by 
the ceremony of initiation ; while those who 
submitted to the necessary purification were 
assured of an admission, after death, to the 
mansions of the gods. For, as the dispensers^ 
of the expiations declare, there are many to 
be found invested with the ensigns of the deity, 
but few to represent the image of the god- 
head/ This glorious distinction, I imagine, 
will be their lot, who have invariably pursued 
the dictates of philosophy ; in the number of 
whose votaries it has been the business of my 
life to be enrolled. Pass but a few short hours, 
and soon, with the permission of heaven, I shall 
learn how far my efforts have been successful ! 
" These, Simmias and Cebes, are the 
reasons I allege for quitting unreluctantly the 
ties of friendship and the tutelage of the 
gods: induced by the consideration, that I 

PHiEDO. 35 

shall hereafter still be permitted to associate 
with friends not less sincere, and patrons not 
less bounteous. Mankind in general receive 
such doctrines with distrust; but if this defence 
obtains from you a reception more indulgent 
than the judges would allow it, my object will 
sufficiently be answered." 

14. When Socrates had finished speaking, 
Cebes thus expressed himself. " To the 
most part of your arguments I implicitly 
assent; but those remarks, which apply 
more immediately to the soul, will always be 
heard with diffidence by the great mass of 
mankind, who are apprehensive that on its 
separation from the body it ceases to exist : 
being impressed with an idea, that it takes 
its flight in the instant of death, and vanishes 
like a meteor, for ever. If indeed it could 
remain collected in itself, secure from the 
injuries above described, there might be some 
grounds for believing that what you have just 
stated is essentially true : but it requires no 

36 PHiEDO. 

slender powers of reasoning to demonstrate 
that the soul does really survive the body, 
endowed with any attributes of strength and 

" The remark," said Socrates, " is not un- 
deserving attention. Shall we then examine 
the probability of the statement you contro- 
vert?" " I am most anxious," replied Cebes, 
" to hear your sentiments on so interesting a 
point." " I think," added Socrates, " I shall 
thus escape at least the imputation of frivolity : 
for, surely, no person, even though he were 
a writer of comedies,^ can think this subject 
unbecoming my present situation. If there- 
fore you approve the discussion, we will 
proceed to inquire whether the souls of the 
deceased have any existence in the invisible 

15. "It is an ancient tradition,^ that the 
spirits of the departed retire from this world, 
that they again return to earth, and that 
the dead are awakened to the enjoyments 

PH.EDO. 37 

of light and life. If we acknowledge this 
doctrine as truth, is it not a necessary con- 
sequence that the soul should in the interval 
be detained in some depository? for if the 
spark of vitality were utterly extinguished, 
it could be no more relumined. Assuming 
this principle as already recognized, that the 
living are created from the dead, the doctrine 
of immortality is at once established : if you 
reject such principle, we miist have recourse 
to other arguments." " By all means;" ex- 
claimed Cebes. 

" But, to make the subject more intelli- 
gible, let us not confine the inquiry to the 
human race, but rather let our consideration 
extend to the productions of animated nature. 
Do not those qualities to which any others 
are directly contrary, owe their origin to 
such contrariety ; as beauty is the opposite to 
deformity, and injustice the reverse of justice? 
Let us further consider, whether it is not 
absolutely necessary that all things which are 

38 PHtEDO. 

susceptible of contrariety, should have derived 
their existence from the contrary object. 
Thus, when any substance is increased in 
size, does not such an increase proceed from 
an enlargement of its first dimensions ? and is 
not every smaller object rendered so by a 
subtraction from its former bulk?" " Cer- 
tainly." " Does not debility result from 
something- stronger? and is not an increased 
velocity derived from what at first was slow? 
Again; when any subject becomes deterio- 
rated, is it not by falling off from its original 
perfection? and does not vice acquire both 
its nature and its name from a necessary 
contrast to the attributes of virtue?" " As- 
suredly." " It has sufficiently been shewn, 
then, that all things are generated by their 
immediate contraries." " Sufficiently;" said 
Cebes. " Is there not also some subsisting 
medium between two opposite qualities ? and 
are there not two generations ; the one flowing 
from this to that, the other again returning 

PHiEDO. 39 

from that to this? Addition and subtrac- 
tion constitute the medium between what is 
great and small ; the one suffering diminution, 
and the other acquiring an enlargement. 
Does not then the same rule apply to mixture 
and separation, to the process of heating and 
cooling, and all other similar operations, to 
which, though we do not always affix parti- 
cular names, is it not in fact essentially 
necessary that they should reciprocally be 
the instruments of their own production?" 
" Certainly ;" answered Cebes. 

16. " Has life also its peculiar opposite, 
as sleep is the contrary to watchfulness?" 
" It has." " In what does it consist?" " In 
death." " Do then these contraries alter- 
nately create each other ; and are there two 
generations which subsist between them?" 
" Undoubtedly." " The nature of the first," 
said Socrates, " I will detail to you ; the 
other you may yourself explain to me. Sleep 
and watchfulness I define to be directly 

40 PH.EDO. 

opposite; and assume, that watchfulness 
proceeds from sleep, and that sleep is the 
offspring of watchfulness : the former being 
produced by a languor of the senses, and the 
latter arising from their renovation. Do I 
make myself sufficiently understood ?" " Per- 
fectly so." " Now then, Cebes, unfold the 
nature of the connexion between life and 
death. You state death to be the opposite of 
life, and that they mutually originate from 
each other. What then is the produce of life ?" 
" Death." " And what the progeny of death?" 
" It must necessarily be acknowledged to be 
life." " We conclude, then, Cebes, that all 
livmg objects are produced from death." " It 
appears so," answered Cebes. " The souls, 
therefore, of the deceased are deposited in 
the infernal regions. 

" Of the two generations above recited, 
one is sufficiently manifest; the reality of 
death wants no confirmation. 

" What then must be our decision ? Shall 


we ascribe to death the power of producing 
its contrary, or are we to consider nature 
as defective in this respect?" "We must, 
unquestionably," said Cebes, " attribute to 
death a capacity to generate its opposite." 
" What is that opposite?" " The return to 
life." " But if a resurrection takes place, 
must it not consist in a renewal of life to the 
departed?" "Certainly." " We arrive then 
at this conclusion, that the living arise from 
the dead as necessarily as the dead proceed 
from the living ; and hence too we infer, that 
the souls of the deceased remain in some 
depository, from whence they are called to 
renewed animation." " This," said Cebes, 
" naturally results from the principles we 
agreed to establish." 

17. " Reflect then, Cebes, whether such 
principles do not appear to be supported by 
the evidence of reason : for if there was not a 
constant reproduction of matter carried for- 
ward, as it were, in a never-ending round of 

43 PHiEDO. 

generation and decay; but if, on the con- 
trary, it were ordained that every distinct 
species should be confined to the simple 
process of creation and a departure to its 
immediate opposite, without returning to the 
peculiar stamp and mould from whence it 
was originally fashioned; consider whether, 
under such a regulation, every material 
substance would not in time assume the 
same unvaried form, and ultimately cease to 
have existence." 

" How does that appear?" said Cebes. 

" There is surely," answered Socrates, " no 
difficulty in the declaration ; for were we to 
suppose all nature endowed with a capacity 
to sleep, but denied its opposite, the power 
of waking, the whole creation would lie down 
in an eternal night, and the story of Endymion^ 
become a senseless fiction: or should every 
thing be so blended in confusion as to defy 
the possibility of separation, Anaxagoras's" 
doctrine must necessarily be realized, and all 

FHMDO. 43 

things return to their original chaos. By 
parity of reasoning, therefore, if all created 
beings were to die and continue in death, 
without any subsequent revival ; could any 
thing short of universal annihilation be the 
inevitable consequence ? for if living objects, 
though proceeding from others, were them- 
selves perishable, what arrangement could 
prevent an eventual extinction of the whole ?" 
" I know of none," answered Cebes, *' but 
assent entirely to your assertions." " Such," 
continued Socrates, " appear to me as un- 
objectionable truths, and no illusion of the 
fancy. There surely is a future resurrection 
of the dead, and a prolonged existence of the 
souls of the departed: a happier destiny 


18. Cebes here interposing, said, " If, 
Socrates, according to your favourite theory, 
all knowledge really consists in reminiscence^ 
that knowledge, so remembered, must have 


been acquired at some antecedent period; 
but this would be quite impossible, unless 
the soul had an existence previously to its 
introduction to the present human body. 
From such consideration, therefore, its im- 
mortality appears to be established." 

" Produce," however, said Simmias, " the 
demonstrations which support this doctrine; 
for at present they escape my recollection." 
" It may be proved," said Cebes, " most 
satisfactorily. All mankind reply with accu- 
racy to such questions as are intelligibly 
proposed; but of this they would be in- 
capable, unless endowed with the possession 
of knowledge and right reason. Apply them 
to the solution of any geometrical figure,* 

* " Habet (i. e. animus) priimim nicmoiiam, et cam infinilam, 
rerum innumerabilinm. Qnam quidcm Plato recordationem 
esse vult superioris viUe. Nam in illo libio, qui inscribitur 
Mcnon, pnsioncm quemlam Socrates iutcrrogat geometrica de 
dimcnsioue qiiadrati. Ad ea sic respondct, ut puer: et tamcn 
ita faciles interrogationes sunt, ut gradatim respondens codem 
perveniat, quo si gcometrica didicisset. Ex quo effici vult 
Socrates ut discerc nihil aliud sit nisi recordari." 

Vid. Ti'sc. Disp. lib. i. cap. 24. 

PHiEDO. 45 

and the truth of this observation will suffici- 
ently appear." 

** Should such arguments," said Socrates, 
" fail in producing conviction, consider then 
the subject in this view. 

" You deny that knowledge consists in 
recollection?" " I do not absolutely deny it," 
answered Simmias ; " but I am desirous of 
hearing the term more specifically defined. 
What fell from Cebes has, in a great measure, 
inclined me to assent to the principle: never- 
theless, I am still anxious to receive a further 
explanation from you." " Reflect, then," said 
Socrates, " that we must necessarily have 
had a previous knowledge of whatever is the 
subject of our recollection : thus, when a par- 
ticular object is presented to the imagination, 
either by the eye, the ear, or by the inter- 
vention of any other of the senses, and this 
object is associated with some other totally 
different, have we not every rational motive 
for supposing, that such association proceeds 

46 PHiEDO. 

from an exertion of the powers of memory? 
How is this demonstrable ? 

" The idea of a man," continued Socrates, 
*' and the idea of a lyre, are distinct and 
foreign from each other; but have you 
observed no instance of a lover ^ calling to 
mind the image of his favourite, when he 
beheld the lyre, the habit, or any other 
instrument, which the object of his attach- 
ment was accustomed to use ? The idea of 
the lyi'e is accompanied by a knowledge of 
its owner ; and this is the effect of recollec- 
tion. Thus it happens, that, on seeing 
Sinnnias, we remember Cebes: and there are 
numberless examples of the same kind. Is 
it not then a more particular exertion of the 
memory, to renew those ideas, which through 
length of time, had in some degree become 
obscured?" *' Assuredly." " Cannot the 
picture of a horse, or lyre, present the owner 
to one's fancy? and may not a painting of 
Simmias occasion us to think of Cebes? 

PHtEDO. 47 

Surely, then, a portrait of Simmias will 
remind us of the original ?" " Undoubtedly." 
19. " From hence, then, it is manifest, 
that reminiscence arises partly from objects 
which resemble each other, and partly from 
such as are dissimilar. But as often as 
recollection exerts itself on such qualities as 
resemble a particular object, must it not 
necessarily discover whatever variance sub- 
sists between them ?" " Certainly." " Let 
us then pursue this consideration. Can we 
allow the existence of a perfect abstract 
equality? I do not mean such equality as 
one tree or stone may bear to another ; but, 
leaving things of that description out of our 
contemplation, is there any subject to which 
the term equality may vdth propriety be 
affixed?" " Unquestionably such a quality 
exists." *' Have we any distinct idea of this 
equality?" " Certainly." " How did we acquire 
our knowledge ? Have we not, in contemplating 
such objects as were just mentioned, formed 

48 PHiEDO. 

to our imaginations an idea of such equality, 
although not inherent in the objects them- 
selves ? Do not, for example, the same trees 
or stones frequently vary their appearance; 
sometimes presenting a complete uniformity, 
and at others exhibiting only an imperfect 
resemblance? Are then things really equal, 
apparently unequal, or do equality and in- 
equality assume the same form?" " By no 
means, Socrates." " There is no resemblance 
then between ideas and the material objects 
which they appear to represent in the mind?" 
" Assuredly not." " But from these equal 
objects, however unconnected with equality, 
you have acquired an idea of the abstract 
quality itself." " Certainly ;" said Simmias. 

" Does this observation apply with the 
same force, whether those objects which 
present the idea of equality have any re- 
semblance to it or not?" " Precisely." 
*' There can, indeed, be no difference," added 
Socrates; " for in proportion to the knowledge 

PHiEDO. 49 

we derive of any particular object, from the 
contemplation of another, either unlike or 
resembling it, so far recollection necessarily 
operates. What, then, is the inference we 
deduce from this consideration? Is the 
equality observable in trees and stones cor- 
respondent to our conceptions of the abstract 
term?" " By no means." " We conclude, 
therefore, that when any person, on observing 
a particular object, such, for instance, as that 
to which I now direct my eyes, discovers in 
it a strong tendency to an equality with other 
objects, but that it is incompetent to reach 
that full perfection of equality which the 
abstract idea had imprinted in his mind; — 
we acknowledge that such person must of 
necessity have had a preconception of the 
essence to which he could determine that 
the subject he contemplates bears only an 
inadequate resemblance." " Necessarily." 
*' And is not the same conclusion applicable 
to a comparison of equality with equal 


50 PHiEDO. 

things?" "Certainly." "Our knowledge, 
then, of such an essence must have preceded 
the time when, on observing equal objects, 
we first discovered that they approached 
towards it, though incapable of arriving at 
the same degree of exactitude. 

",We allow, still further, that all such 
knowledge was acquired by sensation. It 
is from the senses, then, that we derive the 
notion that those equal objects, which are 
subject to their cognizance, tend towards 
the true equality, but fall short of a perfect 
resemblance." " Certainly." 

" We must then have been possessed of 
this idea before we had exerted any sensual 
organ; or how could we regard it as a 
standard of comparison to detect the im- 
perfection of those other equal objects, which 
come under the senses' observation? But 
we began to exercise our senses the instant 
we were born?" "True." " The knowledge, 
therefore, of equality must have preceded 

PHiEDO. 51 

our birth." " It necessarily appears so;" said 

20. " If, therefore, we were in possession 
of this knowledge, previously to our first en- 
trance into human nature, we were created 
not merely with an accurate idea of equality, 
excess, and inferiority, but with a perfect 
understanding- of all things of the same rank 
and description: for I do not confine my 
remarks to equality alone, but extend them 
to the consideration of beauty, goodness, 
justice, sanctity, and indeed to all other 
qualities, which we distinguish by the name 
of real essences. Were we to retain the 
memory of these ideas unimpaired, the wis- 
dom imparted at our birth would adhere to 
us through life: for knowledge consists in 
an undiminished preservation of whatever is 
impressed upon the mind. Do we not define 
forgetfulness to be a loss of knowledge?" 
" Certainly." " If, then, on being born, we 
lose that knowledge, of which before our 

52 PH.EDO. 

birth we were in full possession, and are 
enabled to acquire it again by the assistance 
of the senses, is not what is usually called 
learning, the recovery of some mental attri- 
bute? and is not such properly denominated 
recollection?" " Undoubtedly." " It is surely 
evident, that a person may present to his 
imagination some particular object which 
had escaped his remembrance, by the per- 
ception of some other, to which its aflSnity 
is not affected, either by its resemblance or 
dissimilarity; hence, one of these two conclu- 
sions must inevitably follow : either we retain 
through life the ideas given us at our birth, 
or those we afterwards acquire are produced 
by an effort of the memory; and learning, 
therefore, must consist in reminiscence. 

21. " To which, Simmias, do you give the 
preference? Are we born with the possession 
of knowledge, or have we a subsequent recol- 
lection of what we formerly knew^ ?" " I am 
at a loss," answered Simmias, " how to make 

PUMDO. 55 

my choice." " Can you not, however, decide 
on this point? — Is a man of science compe- 
tent to give a rational account of those sub- 
jects in which his knowledge consists ?" " He 
is surely capable." " Do you imagine too 
that all mankind are qualified to afford a 
satisfactory explanation of those topics we 
have just been arguing." " I wish I could 
answer that they were," said Simmias, " but 
I greatly fear that on to-morrow* all hope of 
finding any one such person will be entirely 
fruitless." " You do not think, then, that 
the world in general possess this knowledge?" 
" Certainly not." " They retrieve, therefore, 
those ideas which they acquired at some 
former period?" " It should seem so." 
*' When did the soul first get possession of 
such ideas ? We have already seen it could 
not be after its entrance into human nature." 
" Clearly not." " They must have been 

* The gracefulness and delicacy of the compHraent conveyed 
by this expression, will scarcely escape the reader's observation. 

54 PH^DO. 

received then in some pre-existent staler" 
" Undoubtedly." " The soul, therefore, had 
a being prior to the body, endowed with all 
the powers of thought and understanding." 
" Unless," said Simmias, " it received its 
knowledge at the moment of our birth : that 
interval is still left for such purpose." " Be 
it so," said Socrates : ^' but at what other 
instant was its knowledge lost? We have 
already agreed that we were born without it. 
Did we then lose the gift the moment we 
received it ; or have you any other crisis still 
in reserve?" *' I was too little aware," said 
Simmias, " that what I stated carries its own 

22. " If, therefore, goodness, beauty, and those 
other qualities which are constantly the theme 
of conversation do in reality exist ; and if we 
refer the objects of our senses to that essence 
which we find exactly resembling our nature, 
but antecedent in creation : if these things 
have a prior existence, our souls must also 

PHiEDO. 55 

have had being previous to our birth : if on 
the other hand they are mere chimeras of the 
fancy, all our discussion must be vain and 
nugatory. But is it not a just and obvious 
consequence, that the pre-existence of the soul 
should be supported or denied by the same 
arguments which assert the reality of those 
other essences?" " The conclusion," answered 
Simmias, " is both just, and calculated to 
excite our admiration; and your discourse 
most ably proves that the soul had an exist- 
ence prior to our birth, equally with that in- 
telligible essence to which you before alluded. 
Nothing is more evident to my conception 
than the reality of those qualities, and I 
acquiesce entirely in the force of the demon- 
stration." "But what," said Socrates, " are the 
sentiments of Cebes ? — I w ould fain convince 
him also." "He is persuaded already," 
answered Simmias ; " for although few men 
so forcibly maintain their own opinions, I 
think he cannot resist your reasoning, but 

56 PHiEDO. 

will readily acknowledge that the soul had 
indeed a being before mankind were created." 

23. " It is not, however, sufficiently evident, 
even to me, that its existence is prolonged 
after our decease: I still participate in the 
common apprehension, that when the body 
is destroyed, the soul is annihilated also. 
For how is the circumstance of its having 
been endowed with life before its introduction 
into human nature, incompatible with a dis- 
solution on its removal from the body?" 
" Your observation is extremely just," said 
Cebes. " Socrates proves only half, when he 
demonstrates the pre-existence of the soul: 
if he would complete his argument, it remains 
for him to shew that it preserves a full pos- 
session of its faculties subsequently to the 
body's extinction." 

*' You will acknowledge it to have been 
shewn already," answered Socrates, " if you 
connect this last observation with the state- 
ment you before admitted, when it was 


established that the living are created from 
the dead. For if the soul had an existence 
before its entrance into human life, and was 
of necessity produced from death ; — why 
should not the same necessity enjoin a con- 
tinuation of its being, since it is ordained by 
the decrees of nature, that it must otherwise 
return to life? The proof, therefore, which 
you required has thus been given. 

24. " But I perceive you are desirous of 
examining this statement with particular at- 
tention, not altogether undivested of a puerile 
apprehension that the soul, on quitting the 
body, is carried away by the winds and 
totally dispersed ; especially if it takes its 
departure in a tempest." " Pray, then," said 
Cebes, " address your observations to our 
fears : or rather consider us as perfectly 
undisturbed by any visionary terrors, though, 
perhaps, there may be something childish in 
our nature, which encourages disquietude. 
Let us then exert our efforts to convince it 

58 PHiEDO. 

that death is not a hideous phantom, to excite 
its horror." " You must have recourse," said 
Socrates, smiling, "to spells and incanta- 
tions." " But where," said Cebes, " shall we 
find a skilful exorcist, when you have left 
us?" "There are many learned men in 
Greece," continued Socrates: " you may like- 
wise extend your inquiries to the nations of 
Barbarians, and spare neither cost nor labour 
in so interesting a search : for you can have 
no pursuit in which they may be employed 
more advantageously. Explore also your own 
circle; for, perhaps^ you will not easily discover 
elsewhere those who are more competent to 
such an undertaking." "We will ;" said Cebes : 
*' but let us now return from our digression." 
25. " We should first, then," proceeded 
Socrates, " inquire into the nature of such 
qualities as are subject to decay, and examine 
what those are whose dissolution ought to 
inspire us with a rational anxiety: from 
thence we may be led to a consideration of 

PHiEDO. 59 

the soul, and thus enabled to arrive at a 
conclusion, either favourable to our hopes, 
or justifying our apprehensions. Is not every 
compounded substance naturally liable to 
decomposition? and is not that which is 
created without parts, the only essence which 
can be exempt from such condition ?" " I 
should imagine so," said Cebes. " Are we 
not warranted in supposing that those things 
which are always uniform, are also uncom- 
pounded, and that those which undergo per- 
petual alteration, are created with component 
parts?" " So I should conceive," replied Cebes. 
*' Let us, then, revert to those qualities which 
were above recited, and whose real existence 
is allowed on all hands : are these uniform or 
mutable ? Are beauty and justice susceptible 
of variation, or does every real essence con- 
stantly retain the same unaltered form> 
unmoved by any power of time or circum- 
stance?" "They are, necessarily," answered 
Cebes, " exempt from any change." *' Do all 

60 PHMDO. 

such beautiful objects, also, as men, horses, 
habits, and other things of a similar descrip- 
tion, present the same unvaried appearance, 
or are they rather formed with properties 
necessarily subject to perpetual fluctuation?" 
" These," said Cebes, *' are ever variable and 
fleeting." " But these," continued Socrates, 
" are tangible substances ; visible to the eye, 
and perceptible by the other senses : but such 
as are eternally the same, can only be dis- 
cerned by meditation." 

" What you advance," said Cebes, " carries 
with it the conviction of truth," 

26. " Let us, then, present to our imagina- 
tions two distinct objects ; the one visible, 
and the other invisible: and let us assume 
that the latter maintains a constant uni- 
formity, while the former is subject to 
incessant variation. Now, — does our nature 
consist of any other properties than those of 
the body and the soul?" " Surely of no 
other," " To which, then, of the above- 


PHiEUO. 61 

mentioned objects does the body bear the 
most resemblance?" *' Doubtless to the 
visible." " And to which does the soul most 
forcibly assimilate? Is it a visible or an 
invisible essence ?" " Invisible, unquestion- 
ably, to human organs." " Do you imagine, 
then," said Socrates, " that I mention these 
subjects with reference to the faculties of any 
other than a human being? But, to repeat 
the question, how shall we determine relative 
to the soul? is it visible, or otherwise?" 
" Assuredly it is invisible." " The soul then 
is conformable to invisible objects, and the 
body to those which are visible?" "This," 
said Cebes, " is a necessary consequence." 

27. " Have we not already stated, that, 
whenever the soul has recourse to the agency 
of the senses, it is unavoidably attracted to 
those objects which are ever changing and 
inconstant; and that, when subject to such 
influence, it becomes perturbed and giddy, 
reeling to and fro like a drunken man ? But 

62 PHyEDO. 

as often as it proceeds to its inquiries, 
'(iivested of all bodily embarrassments, it 
advances to that pure, eternal essence, which 
is always equable; and while it can continue 
unpolluted, it dwells as with a kindred sub- 
stance. Then all its wanderings cease, co- 
mingling with those qualities which know no 
change ; and this condition of the soul has 
been denominated wisdom." " Admirably 
observed," cried Cebes. " To which species, 
then," continued Socrates, " is the soul most 
similar; and with which is it more imme- 
diately connected ? ' " Surely," replied Cebes, 
" even the most unthinking must see sufficient 
reason to acknowledge, that the soul bears a 
stronger resemblance to what is immutable 
and uniform, than to those objects which are 
perishable and changing." " To which, there- 
fore, does the body most approximate ?" " To 
those of a character directly opposite." 

28. " Let us reflect, also, that the soul 
and body are so constituted, that the one is 


endowed with authority, and that it is the 
province of tlie other to yield submission to 
its dictates. Which situation, therefore, par- 
takes most of the divine? Is it inconsistent 
with the nature of divinity to be invested 
with controul and government? and is not 
the condition of mortality most suited to 
obedience?" " Certainly." " Which, then, 
does the soul most forcibly resemble? It is 
evident that the soul participates in the 
divine essence, and that the body is clothed 
in mortality. Reflect then, Cebes, whether 
we are not entitled to draw this inference, 
and assert that the soul most perfectly resem- 
bles whatever is divine, immortal, uniform, 
intelligent, indissoluble and unchangeable; 
and that the body is allied to what is human, 
material, perishable and complex : liable to 
be directed by every accidental impulse, and 
swayed by every fluctuation of caprice or 
fancy. Have you any thing to allege in con- 
tradiction to this reasoning?" " Nothing." 

64 VHMDO. 

29. " Is it not, then, suitable to the body's 
organization, that it should be susceptible of 
speedy dissolution ; and that the soul should, 
on the contrary, remain for ever undissolved ?" 
" Certainly." " You observe, that, on a man's 
decease, the visible body, or what is called 
the corpse, and which is naturally subject to 
corruption and decay, does not immediately 
experience this effect, but remains for some 
time unimpaired by putrefaction : and this is 
particularly the case when any person is 
accidentally cut off while in the possession 
of health and vigour. Those bodies which 
are embalmed, after the process in use 
amongst the Egyptians, generally continue 
nncorrupted for a length of years ; or, if the 
other parts should moulder, the bones and 
nerves preserve a perfect state, and become, 
as it were, almost immortal. Shall, then, the 
soul, on its departure to some kindred habi- 
tation, which, like itself, is also pure, invisible, 
and glorious, and returning to the presence 

PHiEDO. 65 

of a God endowed with every attribute of 
goodness and of wisdom : — (and thither, with 
the permission of the Deity, soon will my soul 
repair;) shall this essence, so constituted, so 
prepared, when escaping from its ' prison- 
house,' be instantly dispersed, and vanish 
into nothing? Such, surely, cannot be its 
destiny. By far more rational is the con- 
jecture, that, if it takes its flight when veiled 
in its own fine vehicle, totally purified and 
disengaged from the gross matter which now 
encloses and encumbers it, and with which it 
never willingly held intercourse, but constantly 
retired within itself, absorbed in meditation 
and the thoughts of death, such being properly 
the province of philosophy ; — if the soul, thus 
qualified, shall escape the trammels of mor- 
tality, the deductions of reason instruct us 
that it then will instantly repair to some con- 
genial and immortal Being; — a Being all 
divine, eternal, and omniscient. There, re- 
leased from the pressure of ignorance, no 


66 PH^DO. 

longer a prey to the terrors and anxieties 
which disquieted it on eartli, its future habi- 
tation, as is said of the initiated, will be estab- 
lished for ever in the mansions of Heaven. 

30. " But, should the soul depart stained 
with pollution and uncleanness, as having 
always been united with the body; if too it had 
been so enchanted by its desires as to deem 
nothing true beyond what was corporeal, — 
beyond those substances wliich could be 
seen and felt; which could administer to the 
gratifications of the palate, or which were the 
objects of its sensual pleasures ; — if, also, it 
had constantly shewn an abhorrence of those 
intellectual essences which by philosophy 
alone are comprehensible,— is it possible that 
the soul, in such condition, should withdraw 
from its abode ' unmixed with baser matter?' 
Must it not rather have been deeply blemished 
by the infection of the body Avith which it 
was so intimately connected ? The pollution, 
therefore, thus received, should be regarded 

PHiEDO. 67 

as a heavy, gross, and earthly mass, which 
weighs upon the soul, and bears it down- 
wards to the visible sphere ; where, dreading 
the light of the infernal world, it w^anders 
round the tombs and sepulchres.* There too 
are seen the airy phantoms ^ of those spirits 
who were dismissed the body w hile yet un- 
cleansed from the impurities of matter. These, 
Cebes, are the spirits of the impious, doomed, 
as a punishment, to wander in those scenes 
of loathsomeness, till that corporeal appetite, 
which constantly attends them, shall be again 
enabled to effect their union with the body. 

31. " This reunion^ is formed with a refer- 
ence to those pursuits in which their former 
lives had been exhausted. Such, for instance, 
as were addicted to gluttony, or any head- 
strong inclinations, assume the shape of 
asses, and animals of that description. Is not 
such a retribution probable? Those, too, 
who held deeds of rapine, tyranny, and 

* See Matt. chap. viii. 28, 

68 PH^DO. 

violence in honour, are changed to wolves, 
and hawks, and vultures : or to what other 
class shall we assign them? It is further 
probable, that the rest w\\\ be condemned to 
animate the bodies of such beasts as are 
endowed with dispositions analogous to their 
former courses. Are not those, then, the 
most fortunate in their destiny, and con- 
signed to the happiest places, who have ever 
practised the civil virtues of temperance and 
justice, though unaided by the lessons of 
philosophy ?" " From what sources will their 
happiness proceed ?" *' They will probably 
be appointed to assume the form of bees or 
ants, or some such provident creatures : or, 
possibly, they may return again to animate 
the human body, and thus become distin- 
guished by their prudence and sagacity. 

32. " But it is a privilege confined to the 
philosopher, whose soul departs in spotless 
purity, to approach the nature of the gods. 
Influenced by this consideration, the zealous 

PHiEDO. 69 

votaries of learning are enabled to repel the 
body's appetites, and subdue the incentives 
to voluptuousness. Unlike those who are 
wedded to their riches, they betray no 
emotion of despondency when oppressed by 
the weight of domestic loss ; nor, like the 
candidates for popular distinction, are they 
dismayed by the scoffs of contumely, or the 
tauntings of reproach." " Such conduct," 
exclaimed Cebes, " would ill become them." 
*' 111 indeed," said Socrates : " they only, who 
regard the welfare of the soul, unmindful of 
the body's importunities, pursue an unerring 
progress. Convinced that philosophy should 
be obeyed, and the purification she enjoins 
adopted, they resign themselves entirely to 
her guidance, and implicitly attend her 
whithersoever she would lead them. 

33. " Men devoted to the attainments of 
science are well aware that when philosophy 
addresses itself to the soul, thus tied and 
bound with the chains of the body, and 

70 PH.EDO. 

compelled to view, as from the recesses of 
a dungeon, those objects which it cannot 
look on with unclouded faculties ; — they 
know that, in such situation, philosophy, 
perceiving how the fetters of the mind are 
principally forged by the turbulence of its 
own ungoverned passions, proceeds by gentle 
exhortation, and gradually effectuates its 
release. She points out the fallacy of those 
perceptions which are acquired by any of 
the senses, and recommends a rejection of 
their agency, unless absolute necessity re- 
quires their interference. She encourages 
in the mind a confident reliance on itself, 
and shews that the reality of all things 
should be questioned which have not been 
examined by its OAvn immediate powers : she 
teaches that all other objects are visible and 
gross; but those which the soul contem- 
plates, are invisible and intellectual. The 
soul, therefore, of every true philosopher, 
being convinced that it should not oppose 

PHiEDO. 71 

its own deliverance, applies its utmost 
energies towards resisting the approach of 
grief and pleasure, of fear and sensuality; 
rightly judging, that while subject to any 
such impression, it is not only liable to 
those distresses which result from sickness, 
or a loss of fortune, but that it is doomed 
to bear the last and greatest of all calamities, 
though still unconscious of its influence." 
" To what evil do you particularly allude?" 
said Cebes. " It arises," answered Socrates, 
" from this circumstance, — that the soul of 
every person, when violently agitated with 
either joy or sorrow, conceives that the 
imaginary objects which excite his passions, 
do in reality exist. While in such a situation, 
is not the soul absolutely subdued by the 
body?" "In what respect?" "Every sen- 
sation of pleasure, every emotion of grief, 
connects the soul and body together as with 
a clasp, and thus so forcibly unites them, 
that the one regards as truth whatever is 

72 PHiEDO. 

esteemed so by the other. From this asso- 
ciation, compelled to engage in the same 
pursuits, and nourished by the same support, 
the soul can never descend with purity to 
the world below; but, filled with the cor- 
ruptions of matter, it quickly falls back to 
animate some other body, where it flourishes 
as in a kindred soil, lost to all intercourse 
with the divine and hallowed essence ! 

34. "It is from motives of this nature," 
continued Socrates, " that philosophers be- 
come courageous and temperate; not from 
the influence of such considerations as are 
vulgarly ascribed to them. Are not these, 
my friend, your sentiments?" "Entirely;" 
said Cebes. " The soul of a philosopher 
meditates within itself, and rightly judges 
that it has not been enabled to triumph over 
the assaults of mortality, only to surrender 
itself a second time to the controlling power 
of the passions; and, like the labours of 
Penelope, to engage in an undertaking which 

PHtEDO. 73 

would defeat its own exertions. On the 
contrary, it preserves a serenity unruffled; 
and, following the dictates of reason, inces- 
santly contemplates what is divine and true. 
Strengthened and supported by these reflec- 
tions, it pursues through life an unvaried 
rule of conduct, and encourages the hope, 
that after death it may depart to some con- 
genial habitation, removed from all those 
sorrows ' flesh is heir to.' While acting under 
the guidance of such principles, there surely 
can be little reason for alarm, — lest, on its 
separation from the body, it should be scat- 
tered by the breath of the winds, or melt 
into annihilation." 

35. When Socrates had thus expressed 
himself, a long pause ensued: he appeared 
to revolve in his mind the observations which 
grew out of the discussion, while we were 
intent on examining the arguments he had 

74 PHiEDO. 

advanced. Simmias and Cebes engaged in 
a separate conversation; and Socrates, per- 
ceiving them, inquired if what had been 
already stated was sufficient to remove their 
scruples. " There are still," said he, " many 
difficulties which will appear unexplained, 
should any one think proper to pursue the 
investigation. If, therefore, you are occupied 
by some other topic, I will not interrupt it : 
but, should you have any doubts connected 
with this subject, do not hesitate to declare 
your sentiments, if you imagine they will 
lead to a more perfect demonstration ; and 
if I can be of any assistance in the inquiry, 
pray admit me as an associate." 

" To confess the truth," said Simmias, 
" we have both entertained doubts, on certain 
points, for a considerable time; and each 
has attempted to induce the other to apply 
for a solution ; but, from an apprehension of 
being troublesome at the present melancholy 
juncture, neither could be prevailed on to 


PHiEDO. 75 

make the application." " Indeed, Simmias," 
answered Socrates, gently smiling, " I should 
not easily persuade the rest of mankind that 
I regard my present fortune as otherwise 
than calamitous, since I am incapable of 
convincing even you, who fear to find me 
more austere now than at any former period 
of my life. You really seem to regard my 
prophetic talents as inferior to what the 
swans enjoy,* who sing most sweetly at the 
point of death, being elated with the thoughts 
of resorting to the presence of that deity to 
whom they were devoted. Mankind, who 
are themselves alarmed at the approach of 
death, represent these notes as songs of 

* Cygni fabula Pytliagorica est, atque allegorica. Pytha- 
gorica quidem, iibi dicit, cygni animam siipervivere: allegorice 
vero intelligitur, cygnum in numcro solarium animalium con- 
tineri : et Socratem Solaicm esse ; turn quia Plioebi oracuio ap- 
probatus est, turn quia mentibus hominum medebatur. Adde 
vaticinium esse quadruplex, divinum, daemoniacuni, humanum, 
naturale: idque ultimum in bestiis fieri quodam instinctu 
naturae. Itellige etiam cygnos innocentes sine pbilosophia 
homines : qui, quum mortem saepe minime timeant, significant, 
philosophos absolutes timere earn nullo modo debere. — FiciNUS. 
See also Tusc. i. 30. 

76 PHiEDO. 

lamentation, without reflecting that no bird 
is ever heard to carol when either cold or 
hungry, or otherwise dejected. Not even the 
lapwing, the swallow, or the nightingale, 
whose melody is said to originate in grief, 
have been ever known to sing while suffering 
under the pressure of those evils. Such birds 
do not appear to pour forth their strains from 
the impulse of sorrow, any more than the 
swans ; and these being sacred to Apollo, are 
gifted with the powers of divination: and, 
foreseeing thus the joys which are reserved for 
them, sing with unusual ecstasy at the moment 
of their departure. I also regard myself as 
being consecrated to the service of the same 
deity, from whom I have received at least an 
equal portion of the gifts of prophecy, and 
consequently am enabled to resign my life 
with as few motives for despondency. Let no 
suggestion, therefore, of delicacy interfere to 
prevent your proposing as many questions as 
the time allowed by the Eleven will admit." 

PH^DO. 77 

" Thus authorized," said Sinimias, " I will 
proceed to state the doubts which have 
perplexed me, and Cebes can afterwards 
point out those arguments which are con- 
sidered questionable by him. I subscribe 
entirely to your remark, that it is extremely 
difficult, if not utterly impossible, to arrive 
at truth in this life ; but, that, to desist from 
the inquiry, or to refuse to prosecute it with 
all imaginable diligence, till every effort has 
been totally subdued, is the mark of a dis- 
position at once effeminate and indolent. 
In all investigations of this nature, we must 
either discover what is true ourselves, or 
receive it from some other person: should 
both these methods prove insufficient, we 
must single forth from amongst the sugges- 
tions of human reason, that which is the 
strongest and least fallible. Trusting to 
such conveyance, we may sail as on a raft^ 
through the storms and tempests of this life ; 
unless some holy oracle^ should happily 

78 PHiEDO. 

point out a path more sure, and strewed 
with fewer dangers. But, since I have your 
permission, I will no longer hesitate to 
propose my objections, that I may thus 
avoid any future self-reproach for neglecting 
to have stated every distrust and anxiety. 
My own suspicion of the inadequacy of the 
proofs has been strengthened by a conference 
with Cebes ; and we are both of opinion that 
the arguments hitherto adduced are not suffi- 
ciently convincing." 

36. " Probably," said Socrates, " your ob- 
jections are well founded ; but to what parts 
of the demonstration do you principally 
directthem?" "What has been advanced," 
replied Simmias, " relative to the soul, will 
apply with equal force to the strings and 
harmony^ of a lyre. For the harmony of a 
well-regulated instrument may be described 
as beautiful, divine, invisible, and immaterial ; 
and the lyre itself may be regarded as the 
body, whose constituent parts are material. 

PRMDO. 79 

compounded, and of earthly texture. If, 
therefore, this instrument were to be rent in 
pieces, or its strings become broken and 
otherwise damaged, might we not affirm, 
with equal reason, that the harmony con- 
tinues uninjured? For surely it is quite 
impossible that the lyre, formed as it is of 
perishable matter, should remain after its 
strings are demolished, and the harmony, 
which partakes of the divine nature, be 
reduced to nothing. On the contrary, the 
harmony must exist without the slightest 
injury, after the strings and body of the 
instrument are totally destroyed. I presume 
you are aware that the soul has been con- 
sidered as a harmony ; aud that, as the body 
is composed from a mixture of the elements of 
heat and cold, moisture and dryness, so the 
soul is formed from a due proportion of 
the same elements, properly harmonized and 
blended with each other. If, therefore, the 
soul is reallv a harmonv, it is evident that, 

80 PHiEDO. 

though of divine original, it must inevitably 
perish whenever the body is too much re- 
laxed, or too violently strained, from the 
influence of those diseases which are inci- 
dental to its nature. Such is the case with 
all other descriptions of harmony, whether 
arising from sounds or the effect of in- 
struments. Instruct us, therefore, how to 
answer this objection, should any one imagine 
that the soul, being produced by a mixture 
of those elements which form the body, first 
perishes in the event called death." 

37. Socrates here, smiling with his usual 
serenity, said, " Your observations, Shnmias, 
are just and forcible. Therefore, if any of 
the present company is more ready than I 
am with an answer, let him come forward; 
for the exceptions have been taken with 
considerable ingenuity. Before, however, I 
proceed to a reply, it will be proper to 
hear what Cebes has to allege, and then to 
deliberate on the mode of refutation. If 

PHiEDO. 81 

the objections appear to be supported by 
reason, we shall not withhold our assent : if, 
on the other hand, they are judged to be not 
sufficiently valid, we must defend our former 
declaration. Explain, therefore, Cebes, those 
points which you conceive to be the least 
admissible." " To me," said Cebesf " the 
arguments are yet in many respects unsatis- 
factory, and the former objections still retain 
much of their force. That the soul was 
endowed with life before its entrance into 
human nature, I consider as almost suffi- 
ciently demonstrated ; but I am by no means 
disposed to admit that its existence, subse- 
quently to our decease, has been supported 
by proofs equally cogent. I do not, how- 
ever, participate in the objection of Simmias, 
that it is of a nature more perishable than 
the body; for I conceive it to be created 
infinitely superior. Why, then, it may be 
asked, do I deny its immortality? Since 
you have ocular conviction, that when a 

82 PUMDO: 

man is dead, his weaker parts do not im* 
mediately decay, is it not rational to con- 
clude that those which are more durable 
should continue also? To answer this, I 
must, like Simmias, have recourse to a com- 
parison. It strikes me, then^ that what has 
been stated on this subject is much of the 
same nature as if any person were to dis- 
credit the deatli of an old weaver, who had 
actually deceased, and were to produce the 
garments which he had formerly worn as 
a proof of his continuance in health and 
vigour. Should any one appear dissatisfied 
with this reasoning, he would demand, which 
was of the most brittle quality, the man, or 
the clothes he wears? If it is answered, that 
mankind are the most durable, he conceives 
his argument is suflSciently established: for, 
since that which was most perishable is not 
destroyed, unquestionably the stronger sub- 
stance must remain unimpaired. The parallel, 
however, is not just, as must be sufficiently 

PHiEDO. 83 

obvious; for it is evident that the weaver, 
w^ho had worn out many dresses, necessarily 
expired before the last was quite decayed: 
but surely this circumstance by no means 
proves that human nature is more subject 
to corruption than a garment. The same 
analogy exists between the body and the 
soul, and the same comparison may con- 
sequently be applied to them : and thence it 
will appear that the soul is the more durable 
essence, and the body most exposed to the 
ravages of time. I would add, too, that the 
soul survives many bodies, particularly if its 
life is protracted many years. For if the 
body is in a fluent state during the man's ex- 
istence, and the soul constantly repairs what 
has thus been exhausted, it is clear that its 
own extinction must precede the body's latest 
habit. After this dissolution, the body in- 
stantly betrays its weakness, and sinks into 
corruption; so that we are very far from 
having any grounds for confidently trusting 

84 PH7EDO. 

that the soul's existence will extend beyond 
the grave. For should any one assent to 
even more than what you have advanced, 
and were to allow not only that the soul had 
being previously to our birth, but granted 
also that its existence was continued after 
death, subject to repeated reproductions — 
(its natural strength enabling it to withstand 
the injuries of many generations,) yet such 
concession could not be extended to an 
avowal that it sustained no waste or damage 
from the process, or that it would not at 
length be totally destroyed. It is impossible 
to state what corporeal dissolution will pro- 
duce the extinction of the soul, as such 
knowledge is beyond the reach of human 
discovery. If, then, this reasoning is correct, 
none but a person bereft of his understand- 
ing could rejoice at the approach of death; 
for unless he were able to prove incontestably 
that the soul is an imperishable essence, he 
must necessarily feel anxious lest, on its 

PH.EDO. 85 

disunion from the body, it should fade away 
like an unsubstantial phantom." 

38. Phcedo. These observations, as we 
afterwards acknowledged, occasioned us 
considerable embarrassment: for the proofs 
which before appeared irresistible, seemed 
now far less powerful ; and not only served 
to weaken our belief in the preceding 
evidences, but indisposed us to attach much 
credit to any subsequent reasoning; as we 
naturally became apprehensive either that 
the arguments themselves might be intrin- 
sically false, or that we should be incapable 
of estimating their validity. 

Echecrates. Indeed, Pha^do, I can easily 
make allowance for any conduct under 
such circumstances; for I have been induced, 
by your report of the conversation, to ask 
myself this question: on what doctrine can 
we implicitly rely, since the arguments of 

86 PHiEDO. 

Socrates, which lately appeared unanswer- 
able, have now lost all their weight. The 
idea, that the soul is a kind of harmony, has 
always pleased my imagination; and what 
was lately urged on this point, has recalled 
the sentiments I formerly entertained: I 
therefore require a new order of demonstra- 
tion to persuade me that the soul does not 
partake of the dissolution of the body. Tell 
me, then, I entreat you, in what way Socrates 
pursued his statement : whether he appeared 
in any degree displeased, or supported his 
opinions with his usual amenity of manner ; — 
in short, whether his succeeding remarks 
were ultimately futile or conclusive ? 

Phced. I assure you, Echecrates, that, 
however ardently I before admired him, my 
admiration was extremely heightened by his 
conduct on that occasion. Not that I was 
at all surprised by the acuteness with which 
he answered the objections; but what par- 
ticularly charmed me, was the mild and 

PH^DO. 87 

engaging affability with which he repHed 
to these young men; the promptness with 
which he discovered the full extent of the 
impression their suggestions had created, 
and the skilfulness with which he totally 
removed it. He rallied us like routed forces, 
and dexterously turned our thoughts to a 
new consideration of the subject. 

Echec. How did he resume the discussion? 

Phced. I will inform you. As I was 
sitting at his right hand, on a small stool 
near the bed, but considerably below him, 
he began toying in his usual manner with 
the hair which flowed in ringlets over my 
shoulders, and at length exclaimed, " To- 
morrow, Phaedo, these beautiful locks will 
be all shorn." Probably, I answered. " Not," 
said he, " if you will suffer me to direct 
you." Why so? cried I. " You and I," 
continued he, " should each of us part with 
our hair to-day, if our arguments are to be 
thus entirely demolished; and were I in 

88 PH/EDO. 

your situation, I would make a solemn vow, 
like the men at Argos,^ never to allow my 
hair to grow till I had completely foiled the 
allegations of Simmias and Cebes." But 
even Hercules, said I, must yield to odds. 
" Call, then," he replied, " on me, as 
Hercules called on lolaus."* I do apply to 
you, said I: not indeed as Hercules would 
summon lolaus, but as lolaus imploring aid 
from Hercules. 

39. " It should be our principal endeavour 
to guard against the approach of scepticism, 
lest we contract a dislike to all reasoning, 
as some men are said to acquire a general 
hatred of human nature. Nothing can 
be more prejudicial than a distaste of 
this kind, which is indeed derived from the 
same source as that from whence misan- 
thropy originates. This antipathy to the 
species is occasioned by our having incau- 
tiously reposed too great confidence in an 
individual, whom we supposed qualified with 


PH^DO. 89 

all the requisites of sincerity and truth, but 
whom we afterwards detect to be both 
treacherous and dishonest. When any person 
has repeatedly suffered from such kind of 
imposition, especially if the impostors are 
discovered to be those whom he had selected 
as his chosen companions and most familiar 
friends, he gradually conceives a disgust 
for the whole race, and imagines that 
all mankind are equally perfidious. Have 
you never remarked any instances of this 
kind?" Frequently. " Is it not perfectly 
evident, that whoever is a dupe to such 
conduct, must have engaged in habits of 
intimacy with men whose dispositions he had 
not sufficiently studied? for had he atten- 
tively examined human nature, he would 
soon have learned that examples, either of 
unblemished virtue or abandoned villany, 
are seldom to be found, and that it is the 
middle compound character which is chiefly 
prevalent." How does this appear? said 1. 

90 PH^DO. 

He replied by an allusion to the general 
stature of mankind. *' Do you not," said he, 
" observe how unusual it is to see any of 
the species with the proportions either of a 
giant or of a dwarf? The same is the case 
with the brute creation ; and the observation 
may be applied to beauty and deformity, 
to speed and slowness, to light and dark 
colours: Have you never noticed, that, in 
all these instances, the two extremes are 
scarcely ever seen, but that the intervening 
shades are almost always discernible?" Cer- 
tainly. " You think, then, that if a contest 
for impiety were instituted, there would be 
but few entitled to a place in the foremost 
rank?" Most probably; said I. *' It is 
highly probable," said he. " Here, however, 
the parallel fails: for I will now closely 
follow you ; but the resemblance consists in 
this, — that when any person incapable of 
due examination, adopts as truths those 
arguments, which on a subsequent revision 

PHiEDO. 91 

may appear futile, whether really so or other^ 
wise; — when such a person has repeatedly 
suffered from delusions of this nature, as is 
frequently the case with controversialists, he 
at length concludes all knowledge is con- 
centrated within himself, having arrived at 
a discovery that there is nothing true or 
constant, either in things or reasons ; but that, 
like Euripus,^ all are in perpetual agitation. 
Is it not, then, seriously to be regretted, that 
any man should feel inclined to reject those 
arguments which are easily intelligible, and 
which he had once received, from the in- 
fluence of that reasoning where truth and 
falsehood are not properly distinguished ? 

40. " We must therefore firmly resolve to 
discourage every idea which would represent 
all reasoning as fallacious: on the contrary, 
we should rather suspect the insufficiency of 
our knowledge, and apply every exertion to 
strengthen and enlarge the understanding. 
You will adopt such conduct from a regard 

92 PIIyEDO. 

to your future lives ; and I, who am at the 
point of death, can peculiarly feel its import- 
ance. Indeed, I am rather apprehensive of 
bearing a greater resemblance to a sect of 
eager disputants, than to a sincere philoso- 
pher. Such men are more anxious to induce 
their audience to assent to their deductions, 
than accurately to investigate the subjects 
which are so zealously debated ; and I have 
only this advantage over them, that I do not 
merely endeavour to produce conviction in 
my hearers, but am equally desirous of satis- 
fying my own mind. For I reason in this 
manner: if the preceding statement is true, 
our highest interests demand an acquiescence 
in it ; if there is really no hereafter, still the 
idea of a future state will render me less 
troublesome to my friends, by preventing 
me from employing what remains of life in 
useless lamentation. This uncertainty will 
indeed soon leave me, or I should regard it 
as a severe calamity. Encouraged, therefore, 

PHiEDO. 93 

by such reflections, I return to our inquiry; 
and should I succeed in the attempt to 
establish that which it has been my object 
to prove, I entreat you to consider yourselves 
not as assenting personally to me, but as 
yielding to the force of truth. If, on the 
other hand, the arguments appear to be 
weak and inconclusive, oppose them with 
your utmost strength ; lest I otherwise deceive 
both myself and friends, and leave my venom, 
like the bee,^ to rankle after death. 

41. *' Let us first, however, recapitulate the 
principal points of our disagreement, that 
they may not appear to have escaped my 
recollection. Simmias, I believe, expressed 
an alarm that the soul, though confessedly 
of a nature more divine and excellent than 
the body, might still be annihilated before it, 
as being only a kind of harmony ; and Cebes, 
if I mistake not, assented to the declaration, 
that the soul was the more durable essence, 
but alleged that it was beyond the reach of 

94 PHiEDO. 

human understanding to discover whether, 
after repeatedly exhausting many bodies, it 
does not itself perish on removing from the 
last : and that, as the body is constantly in a 
state of dissolution, this final extinction of 
the soul is the circumstance which occasions 
death. Are not these the chief topics for 
our consideration?" They both acknow- 
ledged that they were. " Are any of the 
preceding arguments to be regarded as ad* 
missible, or will you reject them altogether?" 
They consented to receive several. " How 
then," said he, " do you determine respecting 
the declaration which states all knowledge 
to consist in recollection, and infers, as a 
necessary consequence, that the soul must 
have existed somewhere previously to its 
union with the body?" " I have already," 
answered Cebes, " expressed an acquiescence 
in its truth ; and I see no inducement to alter 
my opinion." " And I," added Simmias, 
" presence my sentiments on this point 

PHiEDO. 95 

unchanged; and should mdeed feel much 
astonishment were they to suffer any altera- 
tion." " Your thoughts, however," answered 
Socrates, " must undergo a revolution, if you 
still persist in the idea that harmony is a 
composition, and that the soul is a harmony, 
formed from those elements which compose 
the body : for surely you will not attempt to 
maintain that harmony was created before 
those qualities which are essential to its 
existence." " Certainly not ;" said Simmias. 
*' Are you not aware, then, of the inconsistency 
of that doctrine, which states the soul to 
have been created anterior to its entrance 
into human nature, and to be compounded 
from those principles which had as yet no 
being? The harmony, which you say the 
soul resembles, is not produced till after the 
lyre and strings are fashioned, and the dis- 
cordant sounds have been correctly modu- 
lated : it results at length from a just union 
of t^t whole, and is necessarily the first 

96 PHiEDO. 

which perishes. How, then, will your present 
observations agree with your former state- 
ment?" " They are indeed," said Simmias, " ab- 
surd and contradictory." "And yet, "continued 
Socrates, " if any discourse should remain in 
unison with itself, surely that ought which 
has harmony for its subject." " True;" 
replied Simmias. '■ But yours," added 
Socrates, " is directly otherwise ; let us hear, 
then, to which idea you will give the pre- 
ference. Is knowledge only remembrance, or 
is the soul a kind of harmony?" " I make 
my election," answered Simmias, " with the 
first; for I adopted the other without suf- 
ficient demonstration, being influenced by 
those plausible comparisons which are cal- 
culated to please the multitude. That 
reasoning, which draws its proofs from 
analogies, is frequently specious and decep- 
tive; capable of misleading, without great 
precaution, equally in geometry as in other 
sciences. But the statement which represents 

PRMDO. 97 

knowledge to proceed from recollection, is 
supported by a rational hypothesis ; for it has 
been affirmed, that the soul had a certain 
state before it became connected with the 
body, as being that essence which has an 
undeniable existence. To such a declara- 
tion, I persuade myself, I was fully justified 
in assenting; and consequently every idea, 
which intimates the sovd to be a kind of 
harmony, whether arising from the sugges- 
tions of my own mind, or produced by the 
arguments of others, must be considered as 
completely inadmissible." 

42. " Do you imagine," said Socrates, 
" that either harmony, or any other compo- 
sition, can differ essentially from its consti- 
tuent parts?" " Certainly not." "Does its 
action or passion vary at all from the action 
or passion of those qualities from which it 
is compounded ?" Simmias allowed they 
were in each the same. " Harmony, there- 
fore, cannot precede, but must inevitably 



follow the production of all such qualities ?" 
" Unquestionably." " Hence it can have 
neither sound nor motion, but as its parts 
direct?" " Undoubtedly not." " Is it not the 
nature of every kind of harmony to be more 
or less perfect, in proportion as it is well or 
ill modulated?" "I do not sufficiently un- 
derstand you;" answered Simmias. " Does 
not a less or an increased degree of harmony 
depend upon the concord of its parts?" 
" Entirely." " May then the same ob- 
servation be extended to the soul? and can 
we represent it as departing (even in the 
minutest circumstance) from its original 
formation, and becoming, either in a greater 
or a less degree, a soul?" *' Surely not." 
" Again : are not those souls described as 
good, which are endowed with understand- 
ing and the attributes of virtue ? and are not 
those termed wicked, which are blemished 
by folly and impiety?" " Certainly." *' How 
then will the patrons of the harmonic system 


describe these opposite qualities ? Will they 
call the one all harmony, and the other 
discord ? Will they affirm, that the vir- 
tuous soul, being produced from harmony, 
contains another harmony within itself; and 
that the vicious soul is destitute of such 
addition?" " I am utterly at a loss," said 
Simmias, " how to answer you; but it is 
probable that some such explanation may 
be offered by them." " It has already been 
established," proceeded Socrates, " that one 
soul is not more or less a soul than another; 
which amounts to a confession that one har- 
mony is not more or less a harmony than 
another." " Granted." " But that harmony 
which is invariable, must be always equally 
attuned and modulated." " I allow it." " Is 
it then possible, that when the concord of 
the parts is equal, the degrees of harmony 
should be unequal?" " Certainly not." *' Since, 
therefore, one soul cannot be more or less a 
soul than another, it cannot have a greater 

100 PHiEDO. 

or a less degree of concord than another." 
" True." " And consequently is not sus- 
ceptible either of more harmony or discord." 
" Evidently not." " If, therefore, virtue is 
the same with harmony, and vice no other 
than discord, can one soul be more eminently 
gifted with the former, or in a stronger 
degree polluted by the latter, than another?" 
" From such reasoning, it would appear im- 
possible." " Would it not, then, be more 
rational to affirm, that, as the soul is a har- 
mony, it is therefore inaccessible to vice? 
for harmony, as long as it retains its nature, 
can never be associated with discord; neither 
can the soul, while it preserves its essence, 
have any intercourse with evil. For if we 
admit the preceding statement, how is such 
a union possible ? Hence, therefore, not only 
the soul of every human being, but those of 
the whole animal creation, are equally im- 
pressed with the principles of virtue." " It 
would appear so, indeed ;" said Simmias. 

PHiEDO. 101 

" Do you then think the hypothesis, which 
represents the soul as a harmony, is consonant 
to the maxims of reason?" " By no means." 
43. " Yet further still : Of all the proper- 
ties of our nature, can any be asserted to 
possess dominion or authority, except the 
soul? especially when informed with any 
sound principles of judgment or decision?" 
" I know of none ;" said Simmias. " Does it 
exert its power by controlling the passions 
of the body, or by yielding them indulgence ? 
Does it, for example, when the body is 
attacked by thirst, or raging heat, forcibly 
repel its inclination to drink ; or, when urged 
by the violence of hunger, does it prevent 
an indulgence of the palate? And in num- 
berless other instances, do we not observe 
its opposition to the body's appetites?" " Un- 
questionably." " But we have already agreed, 
that if considered as a harmony, it could 
never emit any sound but as its component 
parts direct ; by which it is either raised or 

102 PH^DO. 

lowered, and in whose affections it parti- 
cipates, being necessarily subject to their 
government." " We certainly assented to 
this statement;" answered Simmias. " Is not, 
then, the conduct of the soul in every respect 
the opposite to this? Does she not preside 
over all those qualities which have been mis- 
takenly described as the ingredients of her 
composition ? Is it not evident that she com- 
pletely rules them, in every possible direc- 
tion ; by exacting, as a punishment from some, 
the harsher discipline of medicine and the 
gymnastic exercises, and treating others with 
more lenient and persuasive measures? and, 
in short, by addressing herself with threats 
and conciliation to every passion, fear, or 
corporal affection? Thus Homer represents 
Ulysses admonishing his heart :^ 

^Trjdog ^e 7rX)jt,ag, Kpalb^v rjviTraTTE fxiQw^ 
TtrKaQi, Stj Kpa^aj kui Kvvrtpov clXKo iror trXtjg. 

Poor suffering heart ! he cried, support the pain 
Of wounded honour, and thy rage restrain. 


PH.EDO. 103 

" Do you imagine the poet wi'ote this under 
the idea of the soul being a harmony, and 
subordinate to the body ? or should you not 
rather imagine that he was impressed with 
the belief that it is something infinitely tran- 
scendant?" " Most assuredly." " We must 
no longer, then, my friend, adopt the notion 
that the soul is the same with harmony, or 
we shall both dissent from the divine poet, 
Homer, and contradict our own declaration." 
*' I yield entirely to your sentiments;" said 

44. " Thus, then," continued Socrates, " it 
appears we have sufficiently propitiated the 
Theban^ harmony; but how, Cebes, shall 
we disarm the power of Cadmus ? by what 
happy arguments is he to be appeased?" 
" You can have no difficulty," replied Cebes, 
" in supplying them : indeed, you have far 
exceeded my expectations by the discourse 
on harmony; for when Simmias first pro- 
posed his doubts, I imagined them to be 

104 PHMDO. 

unanswerable: hence I was much astonished 
to find them shrink before your first attack. 
It will, therefore, be by no means a subject 
of surprise, to find my own observations 
equally confuted." " Let me beseech you," 
said Socrates, " to express yourself less 
extravagantly:^ otherwise some invidious 
construction may pervert the subsequent 
reasoning. These things, however, are at 
the disposal of the Deity : — but let us, to 
adopt the language of Homer,^ engage in 
close combat, and try whether your argu- 
ments will bear the test of minute examina- 
tion. If I mistake not, the sum of what you 
require amounts to this : that the soul should 
be proved to be an imperishable essence, if 
we would vindicate from the charge of folly 
those philosophers, who exult in the hour of 
death, and who indulge the hope of finding 
in an hereafter, a degree of happiness infi- 
nitely superior to any which this life can 
furnish. For you allege, that the demonstra- 

PH.EDO. 105 

tion of its being a durable substance, of 
divine original, and endowed with life pre- 
viously to our creation, so far from estab- 
lishing the soul's immortality, serves only to 
shew that it had an antecedent existence, 
enhvened with the faculties of thought and 
action; for that, on its first entrance into 
human nature, it instantly imbibes the seeds 
of corruption ; that from such period, its life 
is a life of misery ; and that it finally perishes 
in the event called death. You farther state, 
that whether its connexion with the body is 
confined to a single union, or whether the 
association is many times repeated, the 
grounds for our alarm are not materially 
affected; it being rational for every man, who 
is not bereft of his reason, to feel an appre- 
hension on this subject, unless he is capable 
of fully ascertaining the souls eternity. 
These, Cebes, I believe, are the leading 
points in your observations ; and I have been 
the more anxious to detail them, both to 

106 PH^DO. 

prevent any remark of consequence from 
escaping my attention, and to furnish you 
with an opportunity of making what alter- 
ations or additions your wishes might 

" You have accurately stated," answered 
Cebes, " those topics which I principally 
urged, and I have no desire either to lengthen 
or abridge them." 

45. Socrates, then, after some time spent 
in meditation, addressed himself to Cebes in 
the following manner. " The explanation you 
require, is attended with considerable diffi- 
culty, as it involves an inquiry into the cause 
of generation and decay. If you please, 
therefore, I will lay the result of my investi- 
gation on this subject before you, and you 
are at perfect liberty to adopt whatever may 
appear conducive to support your own state- 
ment." " I shall not disregard such permis- 
sion;" answered Cebes. " Attend to me;" 
continued Socrates. " In early life, I was 

PHiEDO. 107 

extremely desirous of attaining that science 
which is usually termed natural history : for 
I considered it a high degree of knowledge 
to be acquainted with the causes by which 
all things are produced, and to ascertain the 
principle by which they exist, and the imme- 
diate process which leads to their extinction. 
I therefore used every exertion to facilitate 
my pursuit ; and commenced the inquiry by 
considering whether (as some have asserted) 
animals really derive their creation and sup- 
port from a certain corruption of heat and 
cold: whether our understanding proceeds 
from the blood, the fire, or the air; or 
whether the brain alone is the seat of intelli- 
gence, and the source from which the senses 
of sight, of hearing and smelling, are de- 
duced : if memory and opinion originate in 
these senses, and whether knowledge is the 
joint result of both. Afterwards, I became 
anxious to know the cause of their decay, 
and was proceeding to examine into the 

108 PHyEDO. 

properties of the earth, and the phenomena of 
the heavenly bodies, when I at length became 
convinced of the fruitlessness of any such 
attempt, and of my total incapacity for all 
such investigation. Of this I will give you a 
convincing proof: for all those subjects, which 
I before imagined myself sufficiently informed 
of, became absolutely unintelligible; and I was 
quite incapable of explaining even those prin- 
ciples by which the human figure is increased 
in size. I had formerly conceived it must be 
manifest to every body, that an enlargement 
of our stature was the necessary consequence 
of the food we received ; and that, as from 
such nutriture an addition of flesh was im- 
parted to the former mass, as bones were 
added to bones, and that as all the other 
parts received an increase from an operation 
of the same cause, it obviously followed, that 
what was originally small became a bulkier 
substance, and that man was thus enabled to 
acquire his full proportions. Such were then 

PH/EDO. 109 

my sentiments : do you think them rational ?" 
" Certainly." " Observe, then, what follows. 
When I saw a tall person standing near 
another of shorter stature, I thought it suffi- 
ciently evident that the height of the former 
exceeded that of the latter, by the head; and 
I conceived it to be still clearer that the 
addition of tivo constituted the superiority of 
the number ten over the number eight ; and 
that two cubits were greater than one, because 
they contained one half more.'' " What are 
your present sentiments on these points?" 
said Cebes. " So far," answered Socrates, 
*' am I from believing myself accurately in- 
formed respecting them, that I am unable to 
determine when one and one are added to 
each other, whether the unity which has 
received this addition becomes two, or 
whether the number two is produced by the 
combined powers of each. For it is an 
extraordinary circumstance, that when each 
in its solitary state, apart from the other. 

110 PHiEDO. 

could make only one, their approximation 
should be the means of producing" two. 
Neither can I understand, satisfactorily, why 
two should result from a division of unity. 
In the former instance, we see the direct 
contrary to have been the case : then one and 
one being joined with each other, gave this 
result ; — now the same effect arises from their 
separation. I am equally at a loss to com- 
prehend the origin of unity itself; nor, indeed, 
by such kind of reasoning, am I able to 
discover the rise, existence, or decay of any 
other quality : I have therefore recourse to 
some different system, resolving to abandon 
this altogether. 

46. " As I happened to hear some person 
read a treatise of Anaxagoras, which states 
the Divine intellect to be the first cause of 
all things, and the power which gave to each 
created particle its form and character, I 
was instantly struck with the grandeur of 
the idea; for I imagined that whatever was 

PHiEDO. Ill 

disposed and ordained by such a power, 
must be necessarily allotted to a situation of 
all others the best suited to its nature. I 
conceived, therefore, that if any one was 
desirous of discovering the principle by 
which a particular quality is generated, he 
must previously ascertain what is the most 
beneficial to such quality. Hence his in- 
quiry would be confined to the consideration 
of what is best ; and by acquiring this know- 
ledge, he would necessarily be informed of 
that also which is the most evil. Thus I 
congratulated myself with having found a 
master capable of instructing me to the 
extent of my desires; one, who would not 
merely acquaint me whether the surface of 
the earth was flat or globular, but who would 
also explain the cause Avhicli necessarily oc- 
casioned it to assume that figure, and who 
would affirm, and demonstrably prove, that 
it was the best adapted to its properties. In 
the same manner, if he were to assert that 

112 PHiEDO. 

the earth was placed in the centre of the 
universe, I expected him to sheW that such 
a situation was the best that could be pos- 
sibly assigned it. And if his demonstrations 
had been sufficiently convincing, I was re- 
solved to discard every other hypothesis. 
I intended also to propose a variety of ques- 
tions with regard to the nature of the sun, 
the moon, and the stars ; with a view to 
ascertain their revolutions and relative de- 
grees of velocity ; and, indeed, to be informed 
why the particular course which was pre- 
scribed them is necessarily superior to any 
other which could be ordained : for when he 
had asserted that they were disposed in their 
respective ranks by the power of the Divine 
intellect, I did not imagine that he would 
have alleged any other cause for their exist- 
ence, than that it was right that they should 
so exist. 1 flattered myself, therefore, that 
in adopting this j)rinciple, he would have 
demonstrated, satisfactorily, both what was 

PHiEDO. 113 

peculiarly beneficial to the individual essence, 
and what was productive of the general good 
of the whole. These hopes I could not have 
been induced to relinquish on any considera- . 
tion; but I purchased the books with the 
most eager curiosity, anxious to inform 
myself wherein the good and evil of all 
things consisted. 

47. "I soon, however, fell from these lofty 
promises, when in the progress of the treatise 
I observed the author discarding the agency 
of the intellect, and attributing the order and 
disposition of the system to the influence 
of the air, the aether, and the waters, and 
adopting other reasons equally extravagant. 
Indeed, he appeared to me to commit full 
as great an absurdity as any person would be 
liable to, who should assert, that Socrates, in 
all his actio7is, is directed by his understand- 
ing; and then, proceeding to explain the 
motives of my conduct, were to aver that I 
sit here because my body is composed of 


]14 PH/EDO. 

hones and nerves. The bones, he would 
state, are hard and solid, and separated at 
the joints ; and the nerves, being of a nature 
capable of distension and contraction, en- 
velope them with skin and flesh. The bones, 
therefore, being properly balanced on their 
joints, I have the power of folding them at 
pleasure ; and such is the reason why I now 
sit in the present attitude. Equally ridi- 
culous would be the conduct of any man, 
undertaking to assign the cause of our 
present conference, who should insist only 
on sounds, and the air, and the sense of 
hearing, and totally neglect the true reason, 
which is founded on this consideration : that 
since the Athenians have thought proper to 
condemn me, I have judged it right and 
honourable to sit here and await the punish- 
ment they have decreed. For I swear, 
these bones and nerves should long since 
have transferred me to Maegaris or Bceotia, 
if I had not considered it more equitable to 

PHiEDO. 115 

undergo the execution of the sentence passed 
on me by the city, than to have recourse to 
flight, as the means of avoiding it. Where- 
fore, it is the height of absurdity to state the 
above-mentioned circumstances as the effi- 
cient cause. If, indeed, it were alleged that 
without the assistance of bones and nerves, 
I should be incapable of performing many 
things which are now within the reach of 
my power, the assertion would be strictly 
correct; but to cite these as the primary 
motives of action, is to adopt a very thought- 
less and unfounded declaration. For it would 
have the effect of destroying all distinction 
between the cause and that which occasions 
the cause's existence;^ which, indeed, is 
often the case with the generality of man- 
kind, who resemble persons searching for 
objects in the dark, and who, being guided 
only by the touch, employ those terms which 
do not properly belong to them. Hence some 
have imagined the earth to be surrounded by 

116 PHiEDO. 

a vortex,^ arising from a violent agitation of 
the air; and have therefore conceived it to 
be stationary : others again suppose it to 
be a vast trough, borne up by the pressure 
of the air beneath it. But they totally over- 
look that Power which has arranged all 
things in the order best adapted to their 
nature, and regard Him as destitute of any 
divine authority. They fancy they have dis- 
covered some mightier and more immortal 
Atlas, and discard every idea of the inter- 
ference of utility and virtue. I would gladly 
have become the disciple of any person 
qualified to instruct me in the nature of such 
a cause. Shall I then explain the method I 
had recourse to, after I was disappointed in the 
expectations I had formed of Anaxagoras, and 
found myself unable to proceed by my own 
unassisted exertions ?" " I am most anxiously 
desirous," answered Cebes, " to hear it." 

48. " After I had long fatigued myself 
with these considerations, I thought it pru- 

PH^DO. 117 

dent to guard against an occurrence similar 
to what befalls persons contemplating an 
eclipse of the sun ; for these lose the power 
of seeing, unless they view the reflection in 
water, or through some other medium. I 
felt apprehensive, therefore, lest my under- 
standing should be darkened, if I attempted 
to penetrate into the arcana of nature by the 
mere agency of any of the senses. Hence I 
judged it necessary to apply to reason, as to 
the power capable of reflecting truth. Perhaps 
this comparison is not entirely applicable; 
for I am far from asserting that he who 
beholds objects in the mirror of reason, dis- 
cerns them more perfectly by similitudes, 
than he who regards them in their external 
operations. Such, however, was the course 
I pursued ; and adopting that reason which 
I believed the strongest, I regarded it as the 
standard of truth, both with respect to things 
and causes. Whatever was conformable to 
this I admitted, and what was inconsistent 

118 PH.EDO. 

with it I rejected as false.. But I will 
explain this more particularly, as I fear the 
present statement is not sufficiently inteUi- 
gible." " Not entirely so ;" said Cebes. 

49. " And yet," continued Socrates, " I 
advance nothing new ; but merely urge what 
has been already insisted on. I aim to de- 
monstrate the nature of the cause which was 
so much the object of my consideration, and 
return therefore to those qualities which have 
repeatedly been mentioned, assuming that 
beauty, magnitude, and goodness have an 
independent abstract existence. Should you 
assent to these principles, I entertain the 
hope of being thus enabled both to elucidate 
the cause, and satisfactorily to establish the 
soul's immortality." " I admit them, fully," 
answered Cebes ; '* proceed, therefore, to the 
conclusion." " Consider, then," said Socrates, 
" whether you acquiesce also in what follows. 
I am of opinion, that if there is any thing 
really beautiful besides beauty itself, it can 

PILEDO. 119 

only have acquired this property by par- 
taking of the original essence : and the same 
may be affirmed of all other qualities. Do 
you agree to this?" " Perfectly.'' " Those 
profound reasons which are frequently given 
us, I confess, very far surpass my compre- 
hension ; but if any person were to assign as 
the cause of beauty in a particular object, 
either the liveliness of its colours, or the 
exact symmetry of its form, I should dismiss 
every suggestion of that nature, as having 
only a tendency to produce confusion, and 
adhere to the opinion, (which I have perhaps 
unskilfully adopted,) that whatever is beau- 
tiful must have derived its beauty, by some 
process or other, from the abstract quality. 
I am ignorant, indeed, of the mode by which 
the communication is effected ; but simply 
state, that all things which are beautiful, are 
rendered so by beauty* alone. This appears 

* Because they partake, in a certain degree, of the im- 
mutable idea ofbeaiUy eternally existing in the Divine mind. 

120 PH^DO. 

to me an answer, of all others, the least liable 
to error, and the most satisfactory which I 
can either offer to myself or submit to the 
consideration of others. Are you of the same 
opinion, Cebes?" "Entirely." " In like man- 
ner, whatever is large owes its origin to mag- 
nitude, and whatever is little proceeds from 
littleness." " True." " You would not, then," 
continued Socrates, " regard that as an accu- 
rate expression, which states one man's height 
to exceed another's by the head^ and that 
the shorter person is surpassed by it : on the 
contrary, you would allege, that whatever 
is great acquires its greatness by magnitude ; 
and that whatever is small becomes so by 
smallness. For I imagine you would fear 
being involved in contradiction, were you to 
assert that the same person is both large 
and small by the head : first, because such a 
declaration would imply that magnitude and 
diminution proceeded from the same source ; 
and next, that the head, which is a small 

PHtEDO. 121 

object, constituted the greatness of the 
larger ; which is an evident absurdity. Should 
you not fear some objections of this kind?" 
Cebes, smihng, answered, " that he should 
necessarily feel some such apprehensions." 
" For the same reason, then," said Socrates, 
" would you not refuse to affirm, that ten 
surpasses eight by tivo, and not by quantity ? 
or that two cubits are greater than one, by 
the half, and not by magnitude? for similar 
grounds for dissent exist in both cases. 
Again; when one and one are added to 
each other, would you not avoid saying that 
addition has produced two ; or when unity 
is divided, that two have resulted from 
division? Would you not rather forcibly 
urge, that you have no conception how any 
quality can be created otherwise than by 
participating in that essence from which it 
is derived ; and that, consequently, the only 
rational cause for the existence of two is a 
participation of the dual in the same manner 

122 niMDO. 

as one proceeds from unity ? Therefore, these 
additions and divisions, and all similar opera- 
tions, you may leave to be adopted by those 
who are endowed with a superior degree of 
acuteness ; and from a scrupulous distrust of 
your capacity, rest all your replies on this 
least fallible basis. Should any one attack 
such principle, suffer him to remain un- 
answered till you have examined whether all 
the consequences are consistent with each 
other ; and when you are called on to assign 
a reason, you will assume some position 
similar to those above mentioned, selecting 
that which is the best adapted to the par- 
ticular subject in discussion. At the same 
time, if you are really desirous to arrive at 
truth, you must carefully guard against that 
confusion which is so frequent with con- 
troversialists in their disputations about 
principles. These men are, perhaps, not very 
anxious to discover truth; for they can 
remain in perfect unity with themselves, after 

PHiEDO. 123 

they have thrown all things else into dis- 
order. But I flatter myself that you, who 
are zealously devoted to philosophy, will 
pursue the line of conduct which I have 
prescribed." Here Simmias and Cebes both 
expressed their entire acquiescence in the 
propriety of his observations. 

Echecrates. By heaven, Phaedo, they were 
fully justified ; for Socrates' statement seems 
sufficiently clear for the comprehension even 
of the most uncultivated understanding. 

Phcedo. Such, Echecrates, were the opi- 
nions of his audience. 

Echec. But what are the remaining argu- 
ments which he employed upon this subject? 

50. Phced. After they had admitted that 
every distinct species had a real existence, 
and that whatever partook of its essence 
assumed also its name, he proceeded with 
his questions thus : " When you assert that 
Simmias is larger than Socrates, but less 
than Phaedo, do you not virtually affirm that 

124 PHTEDO. 

magnitude and smallness reside in the same 
object? But you allow," continued Socrates, 
*' that the declaration which states Siramias 
to be greater than Socrates, is not correct, 
according to the literal import of the words ? 
for it is not the circumstance of his being 
Simmias, that constitutes his superiority of size 
over Socrates, but his possession of magni- 
tude: neither is he greater than Socrates, 
because Socrates is Socrates, but because 
Socrates has littleness in comparison with his 
enlarged dimensions. Nor, again, is he ex- 
ceeded in stature by Phaedo, as being Phaedo, 
but because Phaedo has greatness when 
viewed in opposition to Simmias, who is little." 
" True ;" said Cebes. " Thus," proceeded 
Socrates, " Simmias having the proportions 
of the middle size, acquires the appellation 
both of great and small : being greater than 
Socrates, by partaking of magnitude, and 
less than Phaedo, by participating in little- 
ness." Then he added, smiling, *' I appear 

PHiEDO. 125 

to have dwelt on this topic like a diffuse 
writer; but I am desirous that you should 
entertain the same sentiments with me on 
these points. For I am of opinion, not only 
that greatness can never be at once botli 
great and little, but that the magnitude 
which is in us refuses all connexion with 
littleness; for it either recedes as the con- 
trary approaches, or on its arrival perishes 
entirely; being unwilling, by a participation 
of littleness, to change its essence. Thus, 
for example, I who have received littleness, 
while I continue such as I am, must neces- 
sarily be little ; for that which is large never 
attempts to become small ; nor, on the other 
hand, does littleness ever encroach on mag- 
nitude. In short, no contrary, while it pre- 
serves its nature, will ever be found blended 
with its opposite; but on the accession of 
one, the other either disappears or becomes 
totally absorbed." " I perfectly agree with 
you;" said Cebes. 

126 PHiEDO. 

51. But one of the party, I forget exactly 
which, hearing this last declaration, eagerly 
exclaimed, " Did you not, Socrates, in the 
early part of your discourse, lay down a 
principle directly the reverse of the present, 
and assert that magnitude proceeded from 
littleness, and that littleness flowed from mag- 
nitude by the reciprocal production of con- 
trary qualities ? Now, however, you appear 
to affirm that such process is impossible." 
When Socrates heard these remarks, he 
turned towards the speaker, and said, " You 
have very properly recalled the statement to 
our recollection, though without sufficiently 
distinguishing between the present and the 
former declaration. It was then asserted, 
that every contrary owes its existence to its 
opposite: we now contend, that a contrary 
is never contrary to itself, either in us or in 
any of the operations of nature. We there 
spoke of those qualities which were sus- 
ceptible of contrariety, and assigned to each 

PH^DO. 127 

its particular name: here we speak of the 
abstract contraries, which give a denomina- 
tion to their subjects; and I never affirmed 
that such underwent any alternate genera- 
tion." Then, turning toward Cebes, he in- 
quired if the foregoing observations had at 
all disturbed him? " Not in the least," 
answered Cebes ; " and indeed there are now 
few considerations capable of giving me much 
uneasiness." " We subscribe, then," said 
Socrates, " to this simple proposition, — that 
a contrary can never be contrary to itself." 
" Entirely ;" said Cebes. 

52. " Consider also whether you can extend 
your assent to that which follows: Are 
heat and cold qualities which really exist?" 
" I believe so." *' Are they the same as fire 
and snow ?" *' Assuredly not." " Is heat, 
therefore, something diflferent from fire, and 
cold something distinct from snow?" " Un- 
questionably." " I think, then, you will like- 
wise admit that snow, after its exposure to 

128 PHyEDO. 

the influence of heat, cannot possibly retain 
its original nature, and become snow and 
warmth at one and the same time ; but that, 
on the approach of the latter, it must either 
withdraw or entirely cease to be. In the 
same manner, fire either recedes or becomes 
totally extinguished, as the cold advances 
towards it; its existence, as fire, being in- 
capable of any association with cold." " Un- 
doubtedly." " There are also some con- 
traries which do not confine a particular 
denomination to the species, but extend it to 
other qualities, which invariably preserve the 
likeness of the species as long as they have 
any being. This will, perhaps, appear more 
intelligible by the following consideration: 
Must not an odd quantity always retain the 
same name which it bears at present?" 
" Surely." " Is, then, this denomination ex- 
clusively confined to the odd quantity, or is 
there any besides, which, in addition to its 
proper name, bears also that of oddness, from 


the circumstance of its having something in- 
separable from the odd quality? Are you 
not, for instance, of opinion that the number 
three should be called both by its own name 
and also by that of an odd rmmher; though 
the number three and oddness are in them- 
selves distinct and separate ? Yet such is the 
nature of the number three, five, and every 
other arithmetical inequality, that, although 
they are not the same with oddness itself, 
yet each of them must of necessity be always 
odd. In the same manner, two, four, and 
every regular progression of numbers, must 
be always even, though distinct from the 
abstract quality of evenness. Do you admit 
this statement?" " Completely;" answered 
Cebes. " Attend, then, to the object of my 
demonstration: I infer, that not only those 
contraries, which disallow a mutual reception 
of each other, but that all things else, which, 
though not opposite among themselves, have 
still their respective contraries, are incapable 


130 PHiEDO. 

of receiving whatever is contrary to their 
inherent qualities ; and that on its approach 
they retire, or become totally annihilated. 
Will not the number three necessarily lose its 
nature before it can possibly become even ?" 
" Assuredly." " Yet two are not contrary to 
three." " Granted." " Hence it appears 
that the rejection of contraries is not exclu- 
sively confined to the contrary species, but 
that certain other qualities equally withdraw 
from the approach of that which is essentially 
different from their own nature." " Most 
truly stated ;" said Cebes. 

53, " Shall we then attempt a definition of 
these qualities?" "By all means." "Are 
they not so constituted as to compel every 
subject in which they reside, not merely to 
preserve its own intrinsic character, but to 
reject every association with its contrary? 
You are aware that whatever presents the 
idea of the ternary number, must of necessity 
be not only three, but odd." " Certainly." 

*' We assert, therefore, that whatever is con- 
trary to its constituent essence can never 
approximate towards it." " Never." ' " But 
was not oddness its constituent essence?" 
*' It was." " And is not evenness the oppo- 
site of oddness?" " It is." " Evenness, then, 
cannot possibly be resident in three?" " Im- 
possible." " Three, then, is destitute of even- 
ness?" " Entirely." " The number three is 
therefore uneven ?" " Yes, certainly." " Thus, 
then, I have explained how some qualities, 
which are not immediately opposite to each 
other, are as incapable of association as the 
direct contraries. Such is the number three, 
which, though not directly opposite to even- 
ness, is nevertheless imable to receive that 
property; for it carries with it something 
which contradicts the idea of evenness, in 
the same manner as the number two has 
something repugnant to the notion of uneven- 
ness, and fire to the acceptation of cold. 
Reflect, therefore, whether you are satisfied 

132 PHJEDO. 

with this definition : that it is not merely one 
contrary which refuses admission to another, 
but also that whatever quality conveys any 
thing of a nature contrary to that of the subject 
toivards which it advances, can never receive 
a property or character opposite to that 
ivhich is thus conveyed. Consider this still 
further ; for it may not be uninteresting fre- 
quently to repeat it. The number five will 
never become even, any more than ten, which 
is its double, will ever become odd : neither 
can the half, or the third part of a whole, 
assume the properties of the whole." " I 
assent entirely," said Cebes, " to this state- 

54. " Answer, then, to those questions I 
shall propose, in the same manner which you 
see me adopt ; for, besides the certain method 
which has already been explained, there is 
another, equally infallible, resulting from the 
observations I have just enforced. Thus, if 
• ^you were to ask me what that element was 

PH^DO. 133 

which renders the body hot, I should not 
give you the cautious and insufficient reply, 
that it is heat: but, acquiring from the 
late disquisition a more accurate mode of 
answering, I would inform you it is fire. 
Neither, were you to inquire what it is which 
occasions the body's sickness, should I tell 
you it is the disease, but the fever: in the 
same manner I would affirm, that it is unity 
which renders a number uneven ; and so of 
the rest. Do I make myself sufficiently 
understood?" "Perfectly so;" said Cebes. 
" Tell me, then, what it is which gives life to 
the body?" " The Soul." " Is this univer- 
sally the same?" " Why should it be other- 
wise?" *' The soul, then, invariably carries 
life wherever it enters ?" "Assuredly." "Is 
there any thing directly contrary to life?" 
" There is." " In what does it consist?" 
" In death." " It follows, then, as a necessary 
consequence, from those principles to which 
we have assented, that the soul ivill never 

134 PH.^DO. 

receive what is thus opposite to the property 
which it universally conveysT " Most cer- 
tainly not;" said Cebes. 

55. *' How do we denominate that quality 
which refuses to admit the idea of evenness?" 
" The odd number." " And by what name 
do we distinguish those which reject any 
association with justice and with melody?" 
" The one is termed injustice, and the other 
dissonance." " By what term is that ex- 
pressed, which is inaccessible to death?" 
" Immortality." " But the soul is inacces- 
sible to death ?" " It is." " The soul, therefoi^ey 
is immortal r " Assuredly." " May we then 
consider the demonstration as sufficiently 
established?" " Sufficiently;" said Cebes. 
" If," continued Socrates, " the odd number 
were necessarily exempt from corruption, 
would not three be incorruptible also?" " Un- 
questionably." " And if, of necessity, that 
which is destitute of heat were also impe- 
rishable, would not snow, after its exposure 

PH.EDO. 135 

to the action of the fire, remain perfectly 
congealed ? for being thus of a nature not sub- 
ject to dissolution, it would not be affected 
by the heat's severest influence." " True ;" 
said Cebes. " In the same manner, 1 con- 
ceive, that if whatever is free from cold were 
also inextinguishable, fire would preserve its 
original force, undiminished by the cold's 
utmost intenseness." " Certainly." " The 
same conclusion is applicable to immortality: 
if, therefore, that which is immortal is also 
incorruptible, it is impossible that the 
soul should perish on the approach of 
death; for it is evident, from the foregoing 
arguments, that the soul will never die or 
suffer dissolution, any more than three, or 
any odd number, can ever become even, or 
fire be changed to coldness. But, perhaps, 
it may be urged, that there is something in 
the nature of oddness which will always 
prevent its becoming even by the accession 
of evenness ; but that on the extinction of 

136 PHiEDO. 

the odd number, the even may succeed to its 
place. To this objection we cannot oppose 
that the odd does not vanish, since it is not 
imperishable. Had we proved it to be of 
an incorruptible nature, we might safely con- 
tend, that as the even approached the odd 
disappeared. And the same might have been 
asserted with respect to fire, heat, and other 
subjects. Now, therefore, if we grant that 
whatever is immortal is also incorruptible, it 
must inevitably follow that the soul is both 
immortal and entirely exempted from decay: 
if we cannot agree to this conclusion, it will 
be necessary to have recourse to some addi- 
tional powers of reasoning. For these, how- 
ever, there is surely no occasion; since it 
would be folly to imagine that any thing 
should escape destruction, if an immortal 
and eternal being can be subject to its 

56. " The imperishable nature of the Deity, 
of life itself, and of every other immortal 

PHiEDO. 137 

essence, has been fully established by the 
universal concurrence of mankind : and 
surely the gods will confirm these senti- 
ments. Since, therefore, whatever is immortal 
is also incorruptible, can an immortal soul 
be destined to see corruption?" " Impos- 
sible." " Thus, when the hand of death is 
laid on man, his mortal part dissolves; but 
that which is immortal withdraws uninjured, 
victorious over the grave. Hence, then, 
Cebes, we may rationally conclude that the 
soul is a deathless and incorruptible being; 
and that our souls will have a future exist- 
ence in the invisible world." 

" I have nothing," said Cebes, " to offer in 
opposition to your reasoning ; but if Simmias, 
or any other person, can suggest any thing 
further, he will do well not to suppress his 
observations, for I know of no other oppor- 
tunity to which the discussion of so interesting , 
a topic can be advantageously deferred." " I 
am incapable," said Simmias, " of urging any 

1S8 PHiEDO. 

thing by which the preceding arguments may 
be weakened; or of refusing my assent to 
their deductions ; yet, from the great import- 
ance of the subject, and perhaps from the 
imperfection of human nature, some slight 
distrusts still cling to my mind." " You 
express yourself," answered Socrates, " with 
great propriety; for although we have 
admitted the preceding observations, they 
require to be attentively reviewed ; and when 
you have fully pondered on their separate 
force, I trust you will obey the impulse of 
reason as far as the limited powers assigned 
to man are qualified to comprehend it." 

57. " It becomes us, then, my friends, 
attentively to consider, that since the soul 
is immortal, it will demand our unceasing 
care ; not only in the time of this mortal life, 
but throughout all eternity: and dreadful 

PH^DO. 139 

will be the danger incurred by him who shall 
neglect its cultivation. If annihilation was 
the consequence of death, the impious would 
receive an unlooked-for benefit, in being thus 
released from the sufferings of the body, and 
the retribution due to their enormities:^ but 
since the immortality of the soul is evident, 
it can have no refuge from future misery but 
by becoming just and virtuous. The soul 
takes nothing with it to the lower regions 
but its discipline and culture, which, we are 
told, operates either to its prejudice or hap- 
piness, immediately on its departure from 
human life. It is also said,i that the daemon 
who attended the individual while living, 
conducts him, after death, to that destined 
place where all must assemble to receive 
their sentence ; from whence they are ushered 
to the world below, under the guidance of a 
leader whose peculiar office it is to conduct 
them. Here, meeting the reward they merit, 
and having waited the allotted season, they 

140 PHiEDO. 

are again brought back to life by a new 
conductor, after many revolutions of ages. 

The wise and temperate soul voluntarily 
follows its leader, and recognises the passing 
events; but that which is devoted to the 
pleasures of the body, after much struggling 
in this visible world, is at length, with vio- 
lence and difficulty, forced away by the 
daemon who is given in charge over it. On 
arriving at the appointed place, where the 
others also are assembled, if it shall appear 
stained with murder, or any of those foul 
actions which guilty and abandoned souls 
dare perpetrate, all loathe and utterly avoid 
it: thus, destitute of any guide or compa- 
panion, it wanders in a dreary solitude, till, 
on the completion of the destined time, it 
is carried by Necessity to its allotted habita- 
tion. But they whose conduct has been pure 
and temperate, will mingle in the company 

PH.EDO. 141 

of gods, and dwell for ever in the happy 
mansions to which their virtues may be 
respectively entitled."* 

63. *' Thus, Simmias, we have the most 
powerful incitements to make wisdom and 
virtue the great objects of our pursuit 
through life: for bright is the reward an- 
nexed to them, and brilliant is the hope 
which they inspire. That all I have stated 
which regards futurity, will in every respect 
be realized, no man in the possession of 
his reason will venture confidently to affirm ; 
but, since the immortality of the soul seems 
fully manifest, there can be no impropriety 
in asserting that its condition hereafter 
will in some measure resemble what has 
been above described. This idea should 

* The five intervening sections (from 58 to 62, both inclu- 
sive,) are omitted, as having no connexion witli the imme- 
diate subject of inquiry. They contain a fanciful description 
of what is termed a pure eaHh, and an account of the 
invisible regions, drawn possibly from some Egyptian 

U2 PH^DO. 

operate as a charm to sooth our spirits ; and 
I have therefore dwelt more particularly on 
the subject. Whoever has been inattentive to 
the blandishments of the body, deeming those 
pleasures far more exalted which proceed 
from a cultivated mind, — who has enriched 
his soul with its own intrinsic treasures, not 
by the aid of any foreign decorations, and 
has adorned it with the virtues of prudence, 
justice, fortitude, liberty, and truth ; — such 
person may confidently wait the moment of 
his departure, being at all times equally pre- 
pared to obey the mandate. You, Simmias 
and Cebes, and the rest, will all go hence at 
the appointed season. My hour is already 
come! and, as a tragedian would exclaim, 
' Fate summons me away !' 

" It is now high time to repair to the bath ; 
for it will be better that I should take the 
poison after ablution, than that by any useless 
procrastination, I should render it necessary 
to have my corpse washed by the women." 

PH^DO. 143 

64. When he had thus expressed himself, 
Crito exclaimed, " O Socrates, be it then so! 
but have you nothing to give us in charge 
respecting your children; and is there no 
dying injunction you can leave, to afford 
us the gratification of executing your last 
wishes?" " I have nothing," answered 
Socrates, " to state in addition to what I 
have already urged : ' To yourselves be true !' 
and though you make no professions as to 
your future lives, your actions will be both 
highly gratifying to me, and administer to 
your individual pleasures. But if, regardless 
of your own esteem, you neglect those precepts 
of morality which 1 have always been desirous 
to enforce, the strongest protestations will be 
insufficient to secure a rectitude of conduct." 
" Our sincerest efforts," said Crito, " shall be 
devoted to the objects of your recommenda- 
tion; but what directions will you give us 
respecting your funeral?" " Bury me how 
you please," replied Socrates, " provided you 

144 PH^DO. 

can find me, and I do not escape from your 
pursuit." Then, gently smiling, and turning 
towards us, " I cannot, my friends," said he, 
" persuade Crito that I am the individual 
Socrates who is now conversing with you, and 
arranging the order of his different arguments ; 
but he imagines I am the person whom he 
will presently see dead, and therefore ques- 
tions me relative to my interment. Thus all 
which for our joint consolation I have so long 
been endeavouring to prove, all that has a 
tendency to demonstrate that on drinking the 
poison I shall remain no longer here, but 
depart hence to participate in the pleasures 
of the blessed, has failed to produce any in- 
fluence on his opinions. Be you, then, my 
pledges to Crito, for the reverse of what he 
pledged himself to the judges : He engaged 
that I would continue here; but you must 
assure him that after death I shall certainly 
not remain, but take my eternal departure : so 
that when he beholds my body burning on 

PHiEDO. 145 

the pile, or laid beneath the earth, he may not 
weep over me as one exposed to an unhappy 
destiny, nor exclaim at the funeral ceremony, 
' Socrates is laid out! — Socrates is carried 
forth ! — Socrates is interred ! ' 

" Impropriety of expression is not only 
wrong in itself, but injurious to the soul. 
Assume, then, a brighter hope, and say my 
body is to be interred, which you may dispose 
of in any way you judge proper, and in the 
manner most conformable to the institutions 
of the law." 

65. Having made these observations, he 
withdrew into an apartment to bathe, where 
he was followed by Crito ; but we were desired 
to wait without. We continued, therefore, in 
our former situation, discoursing with each 
other on those subjects which had lately been 
debated, and reviewing the different argu- 
ments which had been successively brought 
forward: then we dwelt on the impend 
ing calamity, representing ourselves in the 


146 PHMDO. 

melancholy situation of children bereft of their 
parent. After he left the bath, his three sons 
(two of whom were infants, but the third 
advancing to manhood,) and the women of 
his household came to see him. With these 
he conversed some time in the presence of 
Crito ; and having given them his last com- 
mands, he desired them to withdraw, and 
then came back to us. And now the hour of 
sun-set began to draw near, for he spent a 
considerable time in the inner apartment. On 
his return he seated himself on the bed, 
and spoke but little. Soon after, the Officer 
of the Eleven entered, and advancing towards 
him, said, " I have never observed in you, 
Socrates, any of those symptoms of anger 
which I experience from others, when, in 
obedience to the order of the magistrates, I 
enjoin them to drink the poison : you I have 
always found to be the best, the noblest, and 
most benevolent of men, that ever came within 
these walls. I am persuaded, therefore, that 

PHiEDO. 147 

you are not displeased with me, and that you 
confine your indignation to the authors of 
your sentence. But now (for you fully know 
the motive for my coming) farewell! and 
endeavour to support with firmness the evil 
which cannot be avoided." Then, bursting 
into tears, he turned aside, and withdrew. 
" Farewell !" cried Socrates, looking towards 
him, " I will do as you recommend me !" and, 
turning round to us, *' How courteous," said 
he, " are the manners of this person ! He fre- 
quently visited me in confinement, and some- 
times entered into conversation, and now with 
what generosity he laments my fate ! Let us 
then, Crito, obey the summons ; and if the 
poison is sufficiently bruised, let it be brought 
hither ; otherwise he may prepare it." " But," 
said Crito, " the sun still shines upon the 
mountains, and is not yet set : I have known 
many persons delay taking the poison long 
after the mandate was delivered to them, and 
who have previously indulged in the most 

148 PIIiEDO. 

sensual gTatitications. Do not, therefore, 
unnecessarily hasten the sad event, since there 
is still ample time." " Truly, Crito," answered 
Socrates, " those men act in character who 
seek a pleasure in the practices you mention, 
since they imagine that they thus advance 
their interests: I shall reject them from a 
contrary persuasion. For I cannot regard it 
as any advantage, to postpone the draught 
for a few minutes, and thus render myself 
ridiculous in my own eyes, by an extravagant 
fondness for life, and an over anxiety to 
preserve its dregs. Go, therefore, my friend, 
and refuse not to comply with my desires." 

66. Crito then gave the signal to the slave 
that was in waiting, wlio instantly withdrew : 
after some time he returned, and brought 
with him the person whose office it was to 
administer the poison, and which he held 
ready prepared in a cup. As soon as Socrates 
observed him, " Instruct me, my good friend," 
said he, (" for you are well versed in trans- 


PH^DO. 149 

actions of this nature,) what is to be done." 
" You have only to drink the poison," an- 
swered the man, " and continue walking till 
you feel a weight in your legs; and then it 
will be necessary to lay down." At the same 
time he presented the cup, which Socrates 
received with a joyful countenance, and with- 
out betraying the slightest symptoms of alarm, 
or shewing the least alteration of feature ; but, 
preserving his usual intrepidity of carriage, 
he inquired if it was lawful to make a libation 
with the draught. " We never," said the 
executioner, " mix a greater quantity than is 
sufficient for the person destined to drink it." 
" I understand you," replied Socrates ; " it is, 
however, both allowable and proper to offer 
up a prayer to the gods, that my passage from 
hence to eternity may be auspicious, which I 
sincerely and most fervently implore !" Having 
said this, he drank it off with a cheerful and 
unshaken composure. Hitherto many of us 
liad been enabled to refrain from weeping; 

150 PHiEDO. 

but when we beheld him drain the fatal 
liquor, we could suppress our tears no longer. 
Mine, in spite of every effort to subdue them, 
fell copiously from me; I therefore covered 
my face with my robe, and indulged my 
grief in full transport : for it was not so much 
the fate of Socrates that I deplored, as the 
loss of so valuable a friend. Crito, who could 
not restrain the emotions of his grief, had 
already risen up before me; but Apollodorus, 
who had scarce ceased from weeping the 
whole of the day, was now so loud in his 
expressions of anguish, that all present, 
except Socrates, became affected by the 
keenness of his sensations. " Reflect," cried 
he, " my friends, on what you are now 
doing: it was principally with a view to 
guard against any weakness of this kind that 
I ordered the women to withdraw; for I 
have heard it remarked, that death should 
be accompanied by expressions of grati- 
tude and resignation. Awaken, then, your 

PHiEDO. 151 

constancy, and assume a becoming firmness." 
This reproof filled us with confusion, and 
forced us to suppress the violence of sorrow. 
When he perceived his legs had grown heavy 
with walking, he lay down on his back, 
agreeably to the directions of the person who 
administered the poison. Soon afterwards, 
the executioner examined his feet, and, bind- 
ing them up with considerable violence, 
inquired of Socrates if he could feel the 
pressure. He answered, " No." Presently, a 
similar bandage was applied to his legs, 
when the jailer, returning to us, shewed 
that he was already become cold and torpid. 
Socrates also felt his extremities, and told us, 
that as soon as the poison reached his heart, 
he should take his final departure. 

And now the lower part of the stomach 
began to grow cold; when, throwing aside 
the covering which had been laid over his 
body, he thus spoke, for the last time : " O, 
Crito, I owe a cock ^ to iEsculapius : neglect 

152 PH.EDO. 

not to acquit me of my vow." " Your desire 
shall be fulfilled ;" said Crito. " Is there any 
thing further you would charge me with?" 
To this inquiry Socrates made no reply; 
but shortly after he gave a faint struggle, 
and the executioner proceeded to uncover 
him, when his looks appearing quite fixed, 
Crito advanced towards him and closed his 
eyes and mouth. 

Such, Echecrates, are the circumstances 
which attended the dissolution of our friend ; 
of one whom we regarded as the best, the 
wisest, and most virtuous of mankind. 



Section 1 — Page 1. 

1. -T H^DO, from whom the present treatise receives its 
title, was descended from a noble family in Elis. It happened 
that, when very young, he was seized by pirates, and sold to 
a house of common, dishonest resort. In this situation, being 
compelled to sit at the door, he attracted the notice of 
Socrates, who was so struck with the ingenuous graces of his 
countenance, that he prevailed on some* of his disciples to pay 
the price of his redemption. From this time, Phasdo diligently 
addicted himself to the study of philosophy, and became the 
constant disciple of his friend and benefactor. After the death 
of Socrates, he returned to his native country, and instituted a 
sect of philosophers called the Elean. 

* Laertius says, he was purchased at the desire of Socrates, 
either by Alcibiades or Plato : but A. Gellius ascribes the ransom 
to Cebes. 

156 NOTES. 

2, There were several persons of the name of Echecrates, 
and there is some difficulty in identifying the individual here 
mentioned. Phlius, of which he was probably an inhabitant, 
was a town in the province of Sicyonia, not far distant from 
the isthmus of Corinth. 

3. Androgens, son of Minos II., king of Crete, having been 
assassinated by JE^eus, king of Athens, the former monarch 
declared war against the Athenians, and prosecuted hostilities 
with such success, that he compelled them to send yearly to 
Crete, seven young persons of each sex, to be devoured by the 
Minotaur. Theseus delivered his country from this sanguinary 
tribute by destroying the monster, and afterwards efifected his 
escape by the assistance of Ariadne, the king's daughter, who 
was enamoured of his person, and furnished him with a clue 
of thread, which enabled him to trace back his steps through 
all the intricacies of the labyrintli. 

Section 2 — Pa(/e 6. 

1. Xenophou also mentions the extravagant attachment 
shewn by Apollodorus to Socrates. Apol. 28. 

Crito was an Athenian, and a scholar of Socrates, to 
whom he devoted himself with the most ardent and disinte- 
rested friendship. He was the author of several dialogues, one 
of which bears tiiis remarkable inscription : The good ate not 
made such by learniny. — Laert. 

Her mogenes, Epigcnes, and Ctesippus are classed by Laertius 

NOTES. 157 

among the children of Crito. This statement, liovvever, appears 
very questionable. Xenophon (iu Apol. Soc.) mentions the son 
of a- certain Hipponicus by the name of Herraogenes; and 
Plato himself, in another dialogue, calls Epigenes the son of 
Antipho, in ^' 'Av7t(j)(vy 6 K.i](j)i(Tttvg irom^ 'ETrtytVse 
Trarj/p * Apol. 22. — Socrates, in the place refeired to, is repre- 
sented as replying to the charge of having corrupted the morals 
of the Athenian youth : this accusation he refutes by an appeal 
to the immediate friends and relations of those who were 
.supposed to be the victims of his seduction. Amongst others 
Mho were present, he enumerates Antipho, the father of 

Antisthenes founded the sect of Cynic philosophers, and was 
preceptor to Diogenes. 

The name of Menexenus is sufficiently familiar to the learned 
reader, from the celebrated funeral oration to which it is pre- 

Euclid was a native of Megara in Achaia. lie founded a 
sect called, from the place of his birth, the Megaric. 

2. Aristippus was founder of the sect of Cyrenian philoso- 
phers. The particulars of Iiis life and doctrine are detailed by 
all who have written on the subject of philosophy. 

Cleombrotus was a native of Ambracia, a city of Epirus, near 
the Acheron. He is the subject of the famous epigram of 
Callimachus, alluded to by Cicero: — Callimachi quidem epi- 
gramma in Ambraciotam Cleombrotum est: quern ait, cum 

158 NOTES. 

nihil ei accidisset adversi, e muio se in mare abjecisse, lecto 
Platonis libro. — Tusc. Quest, i. 34. 
The Epigram is as follows : 

EtTrac 'H\t£ x«<p£ KXeofifipoTog w ^fi(ipaKi(OTt]£f 
», "H\ar a(j»' v\pT]X5 Tei\^£og tig uictjv, 

"A^iov «^£v iSdjy davdm kukov, aWa IlXdnovos 
"Ev TO TTfpt 4'^X^^ yp«i"j"' dvaXe^dfisvog. 

3. The allusion to the absence of Arislippus and Cleombrotus 
is cited by a writer on elocution as an example of the most 
pointed and delicate censure. Plato naturally felt indignant 
at the thoughtless gaiety with which they were revelling in 
iEgina, while their friend and instructor was exposed to the 
rigours of a prison, and in the daily expectation of falling a 
sacrifice to a tyrannical sentence. 

What made their negligence still less excusable, was the 
shortness of the distance from Athens ; an interval of scarcely 
200 stadia. The philosopher, however, avoids the invidious- 
ness of a direct attack, but introduces an inquiry respecting 
the persons who assisted at the death of Socrates. Phaedo 
gives a list of each individual who was present ; and on being 
questioned if Cleombrotus and Aristippus were of the number, 
replies expressly in the negative. " They," says he, " were 
absent at ^gina :" thus emphatically proclaiming, by a single 
expression, their sensuality, sloth, and ingratitude. The bare 
fact is left to speak itself, without any comment from the 

NOTES. 159 

In the preceding catalogue, the most striking omission is 
that of the name of Xenophon. Athenaeus appears to ascribe 
it to a feeling of jealousy on the part of Plato : the true reason, 
probably, was, that at the time of Socrates' death, Xenophon 
had not returned from his Asiatic expedition. 

Section 3 — Page 8. 
1. Ot ivhKa, TJie Eleven, were magistrates, whose ofiBce 
very much resembled that of our shcriflFs. It was their peculiar 
province to assist at the execution of malefactors, and to take 
charge of such as were committed to the public prisons. They 
were called The Eleven, from their number, and were elected 
from the body of the people, each of the ten tribes having the 
privilege of appointing one: to these was added the Register, 

Section 4 — Page 10, 
1. Evenus was an elegiac poet, of Pares. 

* The term music was not, in its original acceptation, con- 
fined to the particular science which at present bears its name : 
it was anciently used to express every art which can adorn or 
embellish civilized society. 

Nam quis ignorat musicen (ut de hac primum loquar) tan> 
turn jam illis antiquis temporibus non studii modo, verum etiam 
Venerationis habuisse, ut iidcm musici, et vates, et sapientes 
judicarcntur? mittam alios: Orphens et Linus, quorum utrum-' 
que diis genitum, alterum vero, quod rudes quoque et agrestes 


animos admiratione mulceret, non feras modo, sed saxa etiam 
slyvasque duxisse, posteritatis memoriae traditum est. Et 
Tiraagenes aiictor est, omnium in liteiis studiorum antiquissi- 
mam musicen extitisse : et testimonio sunt clarissimi poetae, 
apud qiios inter regalia convivia laudes heroum ac deorum 
ad eitharam canebantur. lopas vero ille Virgilii, nonne canit, 

Eirantem lunani, solisque labores? 

(juibus certe palam confirraat auctor eminentissimus, musicen 
cum diviuarum etiam rerum cognitione esse conjunctam. — 
Qiiinctilian : Instit. Orat, i. 10. 

The following passage is from Aristophanes' comedy of The 

AA. (JW, m ^yai\ ovda fJL0V(nKy)v i7rt<^ajLiaiy 

irXijv ypa/niiarwr, Kai Tavru fxivroi kuku KaKWf. 

inn. 188. 

AVhich the Scholiast thus explains : 

ovce /novcnKt)y ini'^a/Liai. On liisfTtKijv Ttfv ^yKvXiov 
TTUi^dau (ptjai. Tpdfifiara ct rd Trpwra <rot)^£7a. Aa 
C£ T»Q liBp-^ofxivnQ cut •ypa/xjuaTOJv TrailevtaQai^ ij yap 
TTaiBtia Tue aTOTThg iKvptTra Xoyiafxig. 

Vide Terent. Phorm. Prol. 18. and Heautont. Pro!. 23.— See 
also Cicero, Orat. iii. 44. 

By ^t]fx(oor]g /nuariKt} is probably meant that particular descrip- 
tion of verse which, from the ease and simplicity of its con- 
struction, was calculated to attract the attention of the least 
informed of the populace. 

NOTES. 161 

Section 5 — Page 13. 

1. Philolaus was a native of Crotona, and a follower of the 
Pythagorean philosophy. Plato is said to have purchased his 
works for an unusually large sum, and to have transferred the 
tenets contained in them to many of his own compositions. 
The institutions of Pythagoras prohibited suicide. 

2. The Athenian laws prohibited executions during the day. 

Section 9 — Page 21. 

1. Tota enim philosophorum vita, ut ait idem, comnientatio 
mortis est: — Secernere autem a corpore animuni,ncc quidquam 
aliud est, quam emori discere. — Tusc. i. 30, 31. 

2. Sandals, or slippers, were classed by the Athenians amongst 
the elegancies of dress, and tlieir shape and adaptation to the 
foot studied with particular attention. Athenaeus mentions 
those worn by Alcibiades ; and another author has noticed the 
variations of size and figure to which the caprice of taste had 
successively modelled these costly ornaments of the person. 
Socrates, however, according to Xenophon, (Mem. lib. i. 6,) 
was always bare-footed, avvTTocrjrog ; a circumstance to which 
Aristophanes has alluded in the comedy of The Clauds. 

TOVQ akaCovag^ 

TOVQ W-)(piQvTag^ TOVQ UVVTTolriTOVQ XtyftC) 

wv 6 KaKocctifxwi' ^wKpcirtjQ Kui Xaipf^wj'.— v£<j&. 103. 

162 NOTES. 

Section 10— Page 23. 
1. The poets alluded to are Pannenides, Empedoclcs, and 
Epicharmus ; the last mentioned of whom has these expres- 
sions, N5c vpd Kai. vovg acwjt rti Se aWa ircivra KiiX^a 

KCtt TV(p\d. 

Section 13 — Page 34. 

1. EtVi yap c>], fami' oi irepi tccq TsKirag^ vapdt]KO(j)6pot 
/.tey TToWotj jSciKy^oi Si tb iravpoi. 

These expressions are allusive to the rites observed at the 
celebration of the festivals in honour of Bacchus, as described 
in the fragments attributed to Orpheus. Some of the commen- 
tators have disposed the words into metrical regularity, but the 
verse is not in the collection published by Gesner. 

IloWo/ -OL vapdrjKofopoi irui/poi ci re fidicyoi. 

The vapBi]KO(f)6pot were those in the procession who carried 
wands ; /3ck-)^ot, the priests or ministers of Bacchus. Clemens 
of Alexandria cites this passage as parallel to the expressions of 
our Saviour, ttoWoI tlm KXtjroi, oXlyoi dt ticXtKToi. (Matt. xx. 
16. xxii. 14.) The obvious meaning of Socrates is, that the 
pretenders only to science arc numerous: in other words, 
that there are many sophists, but few philosophers. For a par- 
ticular account of the Eleusinian ceremonies, the reader is 
refened to the 2nd book of The Divine Legation, and to 
Plutarch's treatise of Isis and Osiris, as edited by the late 
learned bishop Squire. The reader may also find much inte- 


resting information on this subject in a work published some 
years since, entitled, " The Enthusiasm of Methodists and 
Papists, compared. 

Section 14 — Par/e 36. , 

1. »^ el (CW^tW^OTTOtOe til]. 

These words are supposed to refer to a satirical passage in 
Eupolis, but the speaker probably intended them to apply 
equally to Aristophanes, whose attack he has expressly no- 
ticed in another place: rotavra yap iwpuTe Kcd civtoi h rfj 
\\pi-o(j)dv&g Kio/uu^i^, luiKpdrrjv rivd iicei TrtpK^ipofxevov^ 
fua-Korrd re itepofiaTslv^ Kui aXXtjv TroWyji' (fKvaplav 
fXvapovvra . — Apol. 3. 

The expression here particularized, is in the comedy of The 
Clouds* V. 225. 

depojoardj^ Kcii TrtpK^povoj tov ijfkiov. 
See also v. 1487, &c. 

* This celebrated drama has several times appeared in an English 
dress. The greater part may be found in Stanley's Lives of the 
Philosophers. It was said also to have been translated throughout by 
Mr. Young and the admirable author of The History of a Foundling : 
but their performance can now be obtained only with great difficulty : 
indeed, a writer in a distinguished periodical work, mentions the 
Plutus as the joint production of Mr. Fielding and his friend. The 
reader may, however, easily procure a very elegant and spirited 
version by the late Mr, Cumberland. 

164 NOTES. 

Section 15 — Page 36. 

1. WciKatoQ f.ih- ovv k. t. X. 

" But now to declare our sense freely concerning this 
pliilosophy of the ancients, which seems to be so prodigiously 
paradoxical, in respect to that prc-existence and transmigration 
of souls; we conceive, indeed, that this ratiocination of theirs, 
from that principle, that nothing naturally, or of itself, comes 
from nothing, nor goes to nothing, was not only firmly con- 
clusive against substantial forms and qualities of bodies, really 
distinct from their substance, but also for substantial incorpo- 
real souls, and their iugenerability out of matter; and particu- 
larly for the future immortality or post-existence of all human 
souls. For since it is plain that they are not a mere modifica- 
tion of body or of matter, but an entity and substance really 
distinct from it, we have no more reason to think that they can 
ever of themselves vanish into nothing, than that the substance 
of the corporeal world, or any part thereof, can do so. For 
that in the consumption of bodies by fire, or age, or the like, 
there is the destruction of any real substance into nothing, is 
now generally exploded as an idiotical conceit; and certainly 
it cannot be a jot less idiotical to suppose that the rational soul 
in death is utterly extinguished. Moreover, we add, also, that 
this ratiocination of the ancients would be altogether as firm 
and irretiagable likewise for post-existence and transmigration 
of souls, as it is for their pro-existence and future immortality, 
did we not (as indeed we do) suppose souls to be created by 
God immediately, and infused in generations. For they being 

NOTES. 165 

unquestionably a distinct substance from the body, and no sub- 
stance, according to the ordinary course of nature, coming out 
of nothing, tliey must of necessity either pre-exist in the 
universe before generations, and transmigrate into their re- 
spective bodies, or else come from God immediately, who is 
the foundation of all, and who at first created all that substance 
that now is in the world, besides himself. Now the latter of 
these was a thing which those ancient philosophers would by 
no means admit of; they judging it altogether incongruous to 
bring God upon the stage perpetually, and make Him imme- 
diately interpose every where in the generations of men and all 
other animals, by the miraculous production of souls out of 
nothing. Notwithstanding which, if we well consider it, we 
shall find that there may be very good reason on the other side 
for the successive Divine creation of souls; namely, that God 
did not do all at first that ever he could, or would do, and put 
forth all his creative vigour at once, in a moment ; ever after- 
wards remaining a spectator oidy of the consequent results, 
and permitting nature to do all alone, without the least interpo- 
sition of His at any time, just as if there were no God at all iu 
the world. For this may be, and indeed often hath been, the 
effect of such an hypothesis as this, to make men think that 
there is no other God in the world but blind and dark Nature. 
God might also, for other good and wise ends, unknown to us, 
reserve to himself the continual exercise of his creative power, 
in the successive production of new souls. And yet these souls, 
nevertheless, after they are once brought forth into being, will, 
notwithstanding their juniority, continue as firmly in the same, 

166 NOTES. 

without vanishing of themselves iuto nothing, as the substance 
of senseless matter, that was created many thousand years 
before, w ill do." — Cudworth's Intellectual System, b. i. sect. 34. 

Section 17 — Page 42. 

1. Endjmion is described in ancient mythology as having 
successfully petitioned Jupiter to grant him perpetual youth, 
with the power of prolonging his sleep to any extent he chose. 

2. Anaxagoras was a native of Glazomenae, son of Hegisibu- 
lus, and born in the first year of the 70th Olympiad. Eminent 
for his noble birth and wealthy fortunes, but more for his mag- 
nanimous contempt of them. — Cic. Tusc. Quest, v. 39. 

He held that the material principle of all things is one and 
many o/ioto/ifpo, parts inflnite, similar and contrary, continuous 
to the touch, sustaining themselves, not contained by any 

His opinions are thus expressed by Lucretius, (lib. i. 
V. 830, &c.:) 

Nunc et Anaxagoras scmtemur OMOIOMEPEIAN, 
Quam Graii memorant, nee nostra dicere lingua 
Concedit nobis patrii sermonis egestas, 
Sed tamen ipsam rem facile est exponere verbis, 
Prineipium rerum quam dicit OMOIOMEPEIAN. 
Ossa videlicet e pauxillis afque miiiutis 
Ossibus; sic et de pauxillis atquc niinutis 
Visceribus viscus gigni ; sanguenque creari 
Sansruiuis inter se multis ooeuntibus sruttis: 

NOTES. 167. 

Ex aurique putat niicis cousistere posse 
Aurum ; et de terris terram concrescere parvis : 
Ignibus ex ignein ; humorem ex humoribus esse. 
Castera consimili fingit ratione, putatque. 

Nee tamen esse ulla parte Idem in rebus inane 
Concedit, neque corporibus finem esse secandis. 

Section IS— Page 46. 
1. The expressions in the original refer to a custom extremely 
prevalent in the earlier periods of Grecian history. Let not 
the English reader startle at this note: the attachment here 
described was not blemished by any sentiment repugnant to 
the strictest laws of virtue. Its tirst introduction into Greece 
is veiled in uncertainty ; but the practice was sanctioned by 
liie public allowance and encouragement of the laws : for it was 
conceived that there could be no means more efi'ectual to 
excite their youth to noble enterprises, nor any greater security 
to the commonwealth, tlian the infhience of so generous a 
passion. This, according to Athenceus, was frequently expe- 
rienced by those who attempted to invade their libei ties ; and 
it at length became a received maxim in the politics of tyrants, 
to use their utmost efforts to extirpate it from their dominions ; 
while all those states which consulted tiie advancement of 
their honour and independence, seem to have been unanimous 
in establishing laws to support and reward it. Let us take a 
fiew of some few of them,* 

* The following statement is chiefly taken from the Archa-logia 

168 NOTES. 

" First, we shall find it to have been so frenerally practised, 
and so highly esteemed in Crete, that sucli of their well-born 
and I)cautiful youths as never had any lovers, incurred the 
public censure, as persons some way or other faulty in their 
morals. But those who had the fortune to attract admiration, 
were honoured wit!) the first seats at public exercises, and 
wore, for a distinguishing badge of honour, a robe richly 
adorned : this they still retained, after arriving at manhood, in 
testimony that they had once been kXutoi, eminent; which was 
the name given by the Cretans to such youths as had lovers. 
One remarkable circumstance connected with this usage was, 
that the lovers always took the objects of their regard by force : 
for having placed their affections on an individual, they gave 
notice of it to his relations, and informed them of the day they 
designed to take him. If the lover was unworthy, his claims 
were resisted; but if his virtues were unimpeachable, the 
friends of the boy made only a slight opposition, sufficient to 
satisfy the law, and pursued him to his lodgings, but then gave 
their consent. After this the lover carried the boy wherever 
he pleased, attended by those who assisted at the ceremony of 
his adoption. He entertained him for some time, but seldom 
longer than two months, witii hunting and other diversions of 
the same kind, and then returned him to his home. At his de- 
parture, it was enacted by the law, that the boy should receive a 
suit of armour, an ox, and a cup, to which the lover added, out 
of his own bounty, several other presents of value. The boy 
being returned home, sacrificed tlie ox to Jupiter, made an 
entertainment for tiiose who accompanied him in his /light, and 

NOTES. 169 

gave an account of the usage he received from his lover : for in 
the event of his having been rudely treated, the law allowed 
' him the most ample redress, 

" It is affirmed by Maxiraus the Tyrian, that during all the 
time of their association, nothing unseemly, nothing which in 
the slightest degree contravened the laws of honour and 
decorum, was observable in their conduct; and however some 
authors are inclined to censure the institution, yet the testi- 
monies of many others, and the high character given by the 
ancients of the laws and constitutions of Crete, by which the 
custom was upheld, are sufficient to vindicate it from all such 
false imputations. This is, indeed, put beyond dispute by 
Strabo, who has asserted that it was not so much the external 
beauty of the boy, as his virtuous disposition, his modesty and 
courage, whicli served to recommend him. 

" From the Cretans we pass to the Lacedemonians, several 
of whose constitutions were derived from Crete. Their love of 
boys was known through all Greece, and universally admired 
for the conduct and consequences resulting from it. There 
was here no interchange of presents between the parties, no 
arts used to insinuate themselves into each other's affections ; 
their love was generous, and worthy the Spartan education. 
It was first conceived from a mutual esteem of each other's 
virtue; and the same motive which inspired the flame was 
alone sufficient to nourish and preserve it. It was not tainted 
with so much as a suspicion of immodesty. Agesilaus is said 
to have refused even to kiss the boy he loved, for fear of cen- 
sure ; and if a person attempted any thing inconsistent with 

170 NOTES. 

the severest modesty, the laws (however encouraging a vir- 
tuous love) condemned him to disgrace; by which he was 
deprived of almost all tlie privileges of free denizens. The 
same practice was adopted by the fairer part of the creation 
towards their own sex ; and was so much esteemed by them, 
that the most virtuous matrons would publicly own their 
passion for a modest and beautiful virgin ; which is a further 
confirmation of the innocency of this custom. Maximus the 
Tyrian assures us, that tlie Spartans loved their boys no 
otherwise than a man may be enamoured of a beautiful statue ; 
which he proves from what Plutarch likewise reports, that 
though several men's fancies met in one person, yet did not 
that cause any strangeness or jealousy among them, but was 
rather the beginning of a very intimate friendship, whilst they 
all jointly conspired to render the beloved boy the most 
accomplislied in the world ; for the end of this love was, that the 
young men miyht be improved in all virtuous and commendable 
qualities, by conversing v-ith men of probity and experience : 
whence the lover and the beloved shared the honour and 
disgrace of ea(;h other ; the lover especially was blamed, if 
the boy offended, and suftercd what i)unishment was due 
to iiis fault. Plutarch has a slory of a Spartan fined by the 
magistrates, because the youUi whom he loved cried out 
effeminately A\liil.st he was fighting. The same attachment 
continued when the boy was come to man's estate ; he still 
preserved his former intimacy with liis lover, imparted to him 
all his designs, and was directed by his councils, as appears 
from another of Plutarch's relations concerning Cleomenes, who,. 

NOTES. 171 

before his advancement to the kingdom, was beloved by 
Xenares, with whom he ever after maintained a most intimate 
friendship, till he was engaged in a design to new model the 
commonwealth: Xenares not approving this project, departed 
from him, but still remained faithful to his friend, and con- 
cealed his intentions. 

" If we pass from Sparta to Athens, we shall find that Solon 
restricted slaves from the exercise of this affection ; thus, to 
use the expressions of Plutarch, inviting the worthy to practise 
what he commanded the unworthy to forbear. That celebrated 
le^slator is himself said to have loved Pisistratus ; and the 
most eminent men in the Athenian state were influenced by 
a similar feeling; the perfect purity of which is evident from 
the severe laws enacted against the indulgence of a passion 
of an opposite character." 

There are many other examples of this nature ; but it will 
be suiBcieut to mention only the Thebans, whose lawgiver, 
Plutarch tells us, encouraged this affection to temper the 
manners of their youth ; nor were they disappointed in their 
expectation ; a pregnant evidence of which (to omit others) 
may be observed in the conduct of the lepci ^>o\ay^, the sacred 
band: it was a party of 300 chosen men, composed of lovers 
and their beloved, and therefore called sacred; it gained many 
important victories, was the first that ever overcame the 
Spartans, whose courage till then seemed irresistible, upon 
equal terms, and was never vanquished till the battle at 
Chasronea; after which, king Philip, taking a view of the 
slain, and Qoming to the place where these 300, who had 

172 NOTES. 

fought bis whole phalanx, lay dead together, he was struck 
with wonder; and being informed that they were the band of 
LOVERS, he exclaimed, under the influence of strong emotion, 
accompanied by tears, " Let them perish, who suspect that these 
men either did or suffered any thing base /" 

Section 30 — Page 67. 
1. These shadowy forms are alluded to by Homer as con- 
fined to the realms of Tartarus: 

'n TTOTTOt, 7/ pd TIQ i?t KCll llv ai^UO ^OfiOlUl 

^v^^rj Kal EIAflAON, uTcip (ppiviQ ovK ivi irdfiTrav, 

II. xxiii. 103. 

And in the Odyssey, (lib. xi. v, 600,) the shade of Hercules 
is mentioned in contradistinction to the hero himself, who had 
a seat assigned him in the assembly of the gods : 

ToJ' ci fiBTy elaavotjaa fiitjy 'HpaKXtjiitjVy 

The same distinction may be recognised in the following 
passage from Lucretius, (lib. i. v. 121, &c.:) 

Esse Aeherusia templa 
Ennius aeternis exponit versibus cdens ; 
Quo neqne permanent animm, neque corpora nostra, 
Sed quaedam simulacra modis pallentia miris. 

And Virgil introduces Dido at the point of death, (^neid, iv. 
654,) using a similar expression : 

Et nunc magna mei sub terras ibit Imago. 

NOTES. 173 

Section ^\—Page 67. ' 

1. " It is evident, that the same principle which led the an- 
«ients to hold the soul's immortality, or its future permanency 
after death, must needs determine tliem likewise to maintain 
its 7rpoi/7rap|«g, or pre-existence, and consequently its furtv- 
(TU)fictT<o(Ttg, or transmigration. For that which did pre-exist 
before the generation of any animal, and was then somewhere 
else, must needs transmigrate into the body of that animal 
where now it is. But as for that other transmigration, of 
human souls into the bodies of brutes, though it cannot be 
denied but that many of these ancients admitted it also, yet 
Timaeus,* Locrus, and divers others of the Pythagoreans, 
rejected it any otherwise than as it might be taken for an 
allegorical description of that beastly transformation that is 
made of men's souls by vice." 

Cuchvorth's Intellectual System, book i. chap. i. sect. 34. 

Pythagoras, acknowledging the immortality of the soul, as- 
serted also its pre-existence. He maintained that there is an 
innumerable company of souls, and that those which transgress 
are sent down into bodies, so as, being purified by such dis- 
cipline, they may return to their original sphere. Those who 
in this state of expiation lead an impious or irregular life, are 
condemned to receive an additional and severer punishment, 
by being sent (5 own further into irrational creatures : the angry 
and malicious into serpents, the ravenous into wolves, &c. 

* De anim^ mundi et aatura. 

174 NOTES. 

It was probably on this ground that Pythagoras enjoined an 
abstinence from flesh: for, in conformity to the doctrine of 
transmigration, ail animal creatures were considered to be of 
the same nature with mankind, and in a manner allied to them. 
The philosopher supported his tenets by a v ariety of instances ; 
and by some drawn immediately from himself. He afErmed, 
that he had formerly been Jithalides, the son of Mercury : after- 
wards he came to be Euphorbus, and was slain by Menelaus 
in the Trojan war. Then he was Hermotinus, next Pyrrhus, a 
fisherman of Delos ; and, lastly, Pythagoras. For this reason, 
he always expressed a particular partiality to that passage in 
the Iliad which describes the death of Euphorbus ; he adapted 
the words to the Ijre, and was frequently heard to repeat them 
as his own ''^■mKrj^iov. 

The melody of the numbers will justify the recalling them 
to the reader's recollection. 

AHfiUTi ol dtvuy-o K6f.iatj \apirE<Tffiv o/nolai, 
JlXoy^luoc S^', 01 'ypva^ te Kcti dpyvpu) t(T(j)riK(iJVTO. 
Oioy de Tpt(j)H fpvoQ ch'tjp IpidrjXig iXairjg 
Xoipw ly otOTToXw, 00' uXic civa(ii(ipv-^iv vZiop 
KaXov, TtjXeddoy, to £i te TTvoial hoviovai 
TlavToiwv ch'ijxwv^ Kui te ftpvei avQu Xevku ' 
'ErA0tJi/ h" it,a7riyt]Q dvEfxoq^ <tvv XaiXani TroXXij 
Bo6f»8 T i^tVpf;l/f Kat it,ETa.vv(r(T iirl yaitf ' 
Totov Ylciydn v'loy iv/x/uEXhjy YjV(l>opl2oy 
'Arpeihr^Q Mtvt'Aaocj fVtt Kraye^ tev'^^s tavXa. 

II. xvii. 51, &c. 

NOTES. 175 

The shilling circles of his golden hair. 
Which ev'n tlie Graces might be pleas'd to wear, 
Instarr'd with gems and gold, bestrew the shore 
With dust dishonour'd, and deform'd with gore. 

As the young olive, in some sylvan scene, 
Crown'd by fresh fountains with eternal green, 
Lifts the gay head, in snowy flow'rets fair, 
And plays and dances to the gentle air ; 
When lo ! a whirlwind from high heav'n invades 
The tender plant, and withers all its shades ; 
It lies uprooted from its genial bed, 
A lovely ruin now defaced and dead : 
Tims young, thus beautiful, Euphorbus laj', 
While the fierce Spartan tore his arms away. 


" Porphyry and lamblichus acquaint us of the particular 
affection Pythagoras had for these verses, which he set to the 
harp, and used to repeat as his own Epicedion. Perhaps it was 
his fondness of them which put it into his head to say, that his soul 
transmiyrated to him from this hero. However it was, this 
conceit of Pythagoras is famous in antiquity, and has given 
occasion to a dialogue in Luciaii, entitled The Cock, which is, 
I think, the finest piece of that author." — Ibid. 

Section 35 — Page 77. 

1. wffTTtp tTTt ary^e^ia^. 

Cicero ujopts the same illustration. Itaque dubitans, cir- 

176 NOTES. 

cumspectans, haesitans, multa adversa revertens, tanquam ratis 
in raari immenso, nostra vehitur oratio. — Tusc. Disp. i. 30. 

2. The expressions which follow, in the original, are remark- 
able : ft ^'/ Tiq hiivaiTO a(T(j>a\i'^£pov Kcii ciKivEvrorFpoy, tiri 
(iifiaioripn o-ytJ/^ctTOQ rj AOFOY 0EIOT rn^og ^laTropevBrjvai. 
The words Xoys Bdov tivoq were possibly used as indicative 
of tlie reverence entertained by Socrates for the sacred myste- 
ries ; but they have sometimes been interpreted as propheti- 
cally allusive to the great truths subsequently proclaimed by 
the gospel. 

Section 36— Page 78. 
1. That the soul was a harmony produced by a just propor- 
tion of the elements, appears at one time to have been a very 
prevalent opinion. It is supposed to have originated in a 
mistaken interpretation of some of the doctrines of Pythagoras. 
Lucretius describes it as follows : 

Multa quidem sapientum turba putarunt 

Sensum aninii ccrta non esse in parte locatum ; 
Vcruni habitum quendam vilalem corporis esse, 
Harmoniam Graii quam dicunt; quod faciat nos 
Vivere cum sensu, nulla cum in parte siet Mens ; 
lit bona saepe valetudo cum dicitur esse 
Corporis, ct non est tamcn luec pars ulla valentis ; 
Sic aniuii sensum non certa parte reponunt. 

Lib. iii. v, 98, &c. 

NOTES. 177 

Section 38— Paye 88. 

1. When Croesus was besieged by Cjtus, at Sardis, he sent for 
assistance to the Lacedemonians, wlio were then at war with 
the Argians for the country of Thyrea, which the Spartans had 
unjustly seized. Tlie Argians advanced to recover their ter- 
ritory, but the contending powers came to an agreement that 
three hundred men, chosen from each side, shoxild dispute the 
possession, and the country be adjudged to the victorious 
party. The combat was so severe, tliat, of tlie 600, three men 
only were left alive. Two of these were Argians, who con- 
ceiving themselves conquerors, ran with the news to Argos. 
But the only survivor, on the part of the Lacedemonians, col- 
lecting the spoil and carrying it to the Spartan camp, con- 
tinued in the field. The next day, both armies met in the 
same place, and each claimed the victory : the Argians 
alleging that they had more survivors, and the Lacedemonians 
that they had maintained possession of the field. Hostilities 
were thus renewed ; and at length the Spartans obtained a 
decisive triumph. In consequence of this calamity, the Argians 
cut ofiF all the hair which they had formerly been obliged to 
wear at considerable length, and solemnly vowed they would 
never suffer it to grow, nor permit their women to array them- 
selves in ornaments of gold, till they should recover the lost 
Thyrea. — Herod, lib. i. — See also Job, cap. i. v. 20. 

2. lolaus was the son of Iphiclus, king of Thessaly: he 
assisted Hercules (who was produced by Alcmena at the same 
birth with his father) to destroy the Lernaean hydra. 


178 NOTES. 

Section 39 — Page 91. 
1. Euripus is a narrow strait separating the island Euboea 
from the shores of Boeotia. Its flux and reflux became a 
subject of attentive investigation among the ancients, and the 
death of Aristotle has been ascribed to his vexation at being 
unable to explain the cause of this phenomenon. 

Plm. 2. i. 95. 

Section AO—Pacje 93. 
1. TO Kivrpov iyKCiTuXiTTujy ol^^^rffrofxai. 

Spicula caeca relinquunt 
Affixae veuis, auimasque in vulnere ponunt. 

Georg. lib. iv. v. 237. 

Section 43— Page 102. 

1. '^-I'ldoQ C£ Tr\}']t.aQ K. T. \. 

The author of the English Odyssey has left an ilhistrioui 
testimony to the force and justice of the reasoning in this 
passage, and notices an expression, observed by Dacier, which 
bears the same import in the holy scriptures: The heaii of 
David smote him when he numbered the peaple. There is this 
difference: in Homer, by heart is understood the corporeal 
substance ; in the scriptures, the spiritual ; but both make a 
manifest distinction between the soul and body. 

Section 44— Page 103. 
1, 'Ap/noi'iuQ QtiftaiKijc. Dacier considers this to be an 

NOTES. 179 

allusion to tlie story of Ampliion, who is said to have raised 
the walls of Thebes by the liarmonious sound of liis lyre: 
in other words, to have wrought so powerfully on the affections 
of a barbarous people, as to induce them to submit to the insti- 
tutions of a civilized community. Thus Simmias ascribes the 
creation of mankind to the effect of harmony: others have 
imagined, from the resemblance of the name, that the expres- 
sion refers to Harmonia, the daughter of Veiuis, who was 
married to Cadmus, the Thcban monarch: and as Cadmus, by 
sowing the teeth of the dragon, caused a race of men to spring 
from the earth, whose appearance was only momentary, Cebes, 
by alleging the mortality of the soul, seemed to imply that the 
origin of mankind was earthly, and their life confined to the 
present transitory existence. Socrates thus meets the objec- 
tions both of Simmias and Cebes, by a reference to traditions 
drawn from their common country. 

2. 'fl 'yaflf, fit} ixiya Xiys. k". r. X. 

~il YloXvdepffici] (piXoKipro/bit /ld'jttote Trd/UTrau 
TJikojp d<j)pa^h]g fiiya tiTrCiv^ aXAa Qeoiai 
M.vdov iTTirpixl/ai ' tneir) iroXi/ (j)ipT£poi elcri. 

Odyss. lib. xxii. v. 287. 

3. *OiU7ipiKU)c^ tyyi/Q "iovtcq. 

Vid. II. c, 496, & i. Gil. 

Section 47 — Page 1 15. 
1. A reverence for the institutions of his country, and a 

180 NOTES. 

strong feelint^ of courage, enabled Socrates to resist the en- 
treaties of his best friends, and submit to the rigours of liis 
sentence. This was the true cause of his continuance in the 
prison ; and the consh-uction of the human body enabled him to 
converse in the attitude he describes. 

Section 57 — Page 139. 
1. " We may conclude the souls of men to be immortal, 
from the nature of God. For if He is (which sure nobody 
doubts) a perfect being, He, as such, can do nothing in- 
consistent with perfect or right reason. 

" To produce a being into a state of clear happiness, in any 
degree, can be no injury to it ; or into a state of mixt happiness, 
provided the happiness certainly overbalances the contrary, 
and the suifering part be not greater than what that being 
would choose in order to obtain the happiness. Nor, again, can 
any wrong be done by producing a being subject to more 
misery than happiness, if that being hath it in its own power to 
avoid the misery, or so much of it as may leave the remainder 
of misery not greater than what he would rather sustain than 
miss the proportion of happiness. The only case, then, by 
which wrong can be done, in the production of any being, is, 
when it is necessarily and irremediably to be iniserable, without 
any recompence or balance of tliat misery : and this indeed is 
a case so grievous, so utterly irreconcilable to all reason, that 
the heart of a reasoning and considering man can scarce bear 
the thought of it. 

" Now, then, he who says the soul of man is mortal, must 

NOTES. 181 

say one of these two things ; eitlier that God is an unreason- 
able, unjust, cruel being, or that no man, in respect of this 
life, has a greater share of misery, unavoidable, than of hap- 
piness. To say the former, is to contradict that which, I 
presume, has been proved beyond contradiction. Then, to say 
the latter, is to contradict the 7vhole story of mankind, and even 
one^s own senses. 

" Consider well the dreadful effects of all those barbarous 
desolations which we read of: what slavery is, and how 
many have been brought into that lamentable state : how 
many have brought incurable diseases into the world with them: 
how many more such bodily infirmities as have rendered their 
whole lives uneasy: how many are born to no other inheritance 
but invincible poverty and trouble? Instances are endless: 
but for a little taste of the condition of mankind, reflect upon 
that story related by Strabo, (from Polybius,) and Plutarch, 
where, even by order of the Roman senate, P. ^milius, one 
of the best of them too, at one prefixt hour sacked and de- 
stroyed seventy cities, unawares, and drove fifteen myriads of 
innocent persons into captivity. Peruse that account of the 
gold-works in the confines of Egypt, given by Diodorus, and 
think over the circumstances of the unfortunate labourers 
there, who were not only criminals, or men taken in war, 
but such as calumny or unjust power had doomed to that 
place of torment. What inhuman punishments were used 
among the Persians ! But, instead of enumerating here 
the burnings, crucifixions, breakings upon the wheel, 
impalings, &c., I choose to refer you to those authors who 

182 NOTES. 

have designedly treated of the torments and questions of the 
ancients. Examine the prisons of the inquisition, the groans 
of which those walls are conscious, and upon what slicjht 
occasions men are racked and tortured by the tormenters 
there. Indeed, tlie history of mankind is little else than the 
history of dreadful passages. 

" Now, among all those millions wljo have suffered eminently, 
can it be imagined that there have not been multitudes whose 
griefs and pangs \\^\cfar outweighed all their enjoyments; and 
yet who have not been able, either by their innocence or 
any power in them, to escape that bitter draught which they 
have drunk? And then, how can we acquit i\\G justice and 
reasonableness of that Being upon whom these poor creatures 
depend, and who leaves them such great losers by their 
existence, if there be no future state, where the proper amends 
may be made ? So that the argument is brought to this 
undeniable issue : if the soul of man is not immortal, either 
there is no God upon whom we depend, or He is an un- 
reasonable being; or there never has been a)iy man whose 
sufl'erings in this world have exceeded his enjoyments, without 
his being the cause of it himself. But surely no one of these 
things can be said. Ergo, 

" That which aggravates the hard case of the poor suflFerers 
mentioned above, if there be uo future state, is, that many 
times their persecutors and tormenters pass their lives in plenty 
and grandeur ; that is, the innocent have not only the portion 
that belongs to the criminal and unreasonable part of mankind, 
but the guilty have that which belongs to the innocent. Such 

NOTES. 183 

a transposition of rewards and punishments, ending in itself, 
without any respect to something which is to follow here- 
after, can never consist with the nature of a governor who is 
not very much helorv rational : a thought which God forbid 
any should dare to admit of Him." 

Woollastoti, Religion of Nature delineated, sect. ix. 

Section 60— Page 151. 
1. rw 'Aff)cX»/7r«w ofsiXofiev dXtKTpvoya, k. r. X. A variety 
of reasons Lave been assigned for this dying injunction of 
Socrates. The philosopher has been supposed, by some, to 
have made a vow to this effect, after his escape from the 
carnage in one of his military expeditions. Others imagine 
the words to have been uttered from an impulse of gratitude 
to Apollo, (the father of yEsculapius,) who had pronounced 
Socrates to be the most enlightened of the sons of men. The 
expression is probably figurative : a cock was the usual offer- 
ing to -^sculapius, from those who liad subdued the ravages 
of disease ; and Socrates, by an allusion to this ciLstom, might, 
perhaps, have designed to indicate that the soul, being released 
by the great physician, death, from all the disorders which 
afflict mortality, would thus be restored to its original health 
and beauty. 

The death of Socrates took place in the first year of the 95th 
Olympiad, and the 70th of his age. Some time after his exe- 
cution, when the jealous and angry passions had subsided, the 

184 NOTES. 

Athenians became sensible of the extreme injustice of the 
sentence which deprived their country of its brightest orna- 
ment; and, as is usual in such cases, sought to atone for their 
own folly and cruelty by exacting retribution on his principal 
accusers. Melitus was condemned to die, and the others driven 
into exile. According to Plutarch, all who had any shai'e in 
instigating the charges against him, became objects of the 
deepest execration : they were cut off from all intercourse with 
the rest of the citizens ; none would give them fire, answer any 
questions, or practise any interchange of the rites of hospitality. 
A statue of brass was afterwards decreed to the Philosopher, 
and executed by the celebrated Lysippus: it was erected in 
one of the most conspicuous places in the city. 

The historian Eunapius has remarked, that, from the death of 
Socrates, (as appears by a computation of events,) the Athenians 
did nothing considerable ; but that, from this period, their affairs 
gradually declined, and Greece sunk from its ascendancy in the 
scale of nations. 





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