On the Sublime/Appendix

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On the Sublime  (1890)  by Longinus, translated by Herbert Lord Havell



Ammonius.—Alexandrian grammarian, carried on the school of Aristarchus previously to the reign of Augustus. The allusion here is to a work on the passages in which Plato has imitated Homer. (Suidas, s.v.; Schol. on Hom. II. ix. 540, quoted by Jahn.)

Amphikrates.—Author of a book On Famous Men, referred to by Athenaeus, xiii. 576, G, and Diog. Laert. ii. 101. C. Muller, Hist. Gr. Fragm. iv. p. 300, considers him to be the Athenian rhetorician who, according to Plutarch (Lucullus, c. 22), retired to Seleucia, and closed his life at the Court of Kleopatra, daughter of Mithridates and wife of Tigranes (Pauly, Real-Encyclopädie der classischen Alterthumswissenschaft). Plutarch tells a story illustrative of his arrogance. Being asked by the Seleucians to open a school of rhetoric, he replied, "A dish is not large enough for a dolphin" (ὡς οὐδέ λεκάνη δελφῖνα χωροίη), v. Luculli, c. 22, quoted by Pearce.

Aristeas.—A name involved in a mist of fable. According to Suidas he was a contemporary of Kroesus, though Herodotus assigns to him a much remoter antiquity. The latter authority describes him as visiting the northern peoples of Europe and recording his travels in an epic poem, a fragment of which is given here by Longinus. The passage before us appears to be intended as the words of some Arimaspian, who, as belonging to a remote inland race, expresses his astonishment that any men could be found bold enough to commit themselves to the mercy of the sea, and tries to describe the terror of human beings placed in such a situation (Pearce ad. 1.; Abicht on Hdt. iv. 12; Suidas, s.v.)

Bakchylides, nephew and pupil of the great Simonides, nourished about 460 B.c. He followed his uncle to the Court of Hiero at Syracuse, and enjoyed the patronage of that despot. After Hiero's death he returned to his home in Keos; but finding himself discontented with the mode of life pursued in a free Greek community, for which his experiences at Hiero's Court may well have disqualified him, he retired to Peloponnesus, where he died. His works comprise specimens of almost every kind of lyric composition, as practised by the Greeks of his time. Horace is said to have imitated him in his Prophecy of Nereus, c. I. xv. (Pauly, as above). So far as we can judge from what remains of his works, he was distinguished rather by elegance than by force. A considerable fragment on the Blessings of Peace has been translated by Mr. J. A. Symonds in his work on the Greek poets. He is made the subject of a very bitter allusion by Pindar (01. ii. s. fin. c. Schol.) We may suppose that the stern and lofty spirit of Pindar had little sympathy with the "tearful" (Catullus, xxxviii.) strains of Simonides or his imitators.

Caecilius, a native of Kale Akte in Sicily, and hence known as Caecilius Kalaktinus, lived in Rome at the time of Augustus. He is mentioned with distinction as a learned Greek rhetorician and grammarian, and was the author of numerous works, frequently referred to by Plutarch and other later writers. He may be regarded as one of the most distinguished Greek rhetoricians of his time. His works, all of which have perished, comprised, among many others, commentaries on Antipho and Lysias; several treatises on Demosthenes, among which is a dissertation on the genuine and spurious speeches, and another comparing that orator with Cicero; "On the Distinction between Athenian and Asiatic Eloquence"; and the work on the Sublime, referred to by Longinus (Pauly). The criticism of Longinus on the above work may be thus summed up: Caecilius is censured (1) as failing to rise to the dignity of his subject; (2) as missing the cardinal points; and (3) as failing in practical utility. He wastes his energy in tedious attempts to define the Sublime, but does not tell us how it is to be attained (I. i.) He is further blamed for omitting to deal with the Pathetic (VIII. i. sqq.) He allows only two metaphors to be employed together in the same passage (XXXII. ii.) He extols Lysias as a far greater writer than Plato (ib. viii.), and is a bitter assailant of Plato's style (ib.) On the whole, he seems to have been a cold and uninspired critic, finding his chief pleasure in minute verbal details, and incapable of rising to an elevated and extensive view of his subject.

Eratosthenes, a native of Gyrene, born in 275 b.c.; appointed by Ptolemy III. Euergetes as the successor of Kalliniachus in the post of librarian in the great library of Alexandria. He was the teacher of Aristophanes of Byzantium, and his fame as a man of learning is testified by the various fanciful titles which were conferred on him, such as "The Pentathlete," "The second Plato," etc. His great work was a treatise on geography (Lübker).

Gorgias of Leontini, according to some authorities a pupil of Empedokles, came, when already advanced in years, as ambassador from his native city to ask help against Syracuse (427 b.c.) Here he attracted notice by a novel style of eloquence. Some time after he settled permanently in Greece, wandering from city to city, and acquiring wealth and fame by practising and teaching rhetoric. We find him last in Larissa, where he died at the age of a hundred in 375 b.c. As a teacher of eloquence Gorgias belongs to what is known as the Sicilian school, in which he followed the steps of his predecessors, Korax and Tisias. At the time when this school arose the Greek ear was still accustomed to the rhythm and beat of poetry, and the whole rhetorical system of the Gorgian school (compare the phrases γοργίεια σχήματα, γοργιάζειν) is built on a poetical plan (Lübker, Reallexikon des classischen Alterthums). Hermogenes, as quoted by Jahn, appears to classify him among the "hollow pedants" (ὑπόξυλοι σοφισταί), "who," he says, "talk of vultures as 'living tombs,' to which they themselves would best be committed, and indulge in many other such frigid conceits." (With the metaphor censured by Longinus compare Achilles Tatius, III. v. 50, ed. Didot.) See also Plato, Phaedrus, 267, A.

Hegesias of Magnesia, rhetorician and historian, contemporary of Timaeus (300 b.c.) He belongs to the period of the decline of Greek learning, and Cicero treats him as the representative of the decline of taste. His style was harsh and broken in character, and a parody on the Old Attic. He wrote a life of Alexander the Great, of which Plutarch (Alexander, c. 3) gives the following specimen: "On the day of Alexander's birth the temple of Artemis in Ephesus was burnt down, a coincidence which occasions Hegesias to utter a conceit frigid enough to extinguish the conflagration. 'It was natural,' he says, 'that the temple should be burnt down, as Artemis was engaged with bringing Alexander into the world'" (Pauly, with the references).

Hekateus of Miletus, the logographer; born in 549 b.c., died soon after the battle of Plataea. He was the author of two works—(1) περίδος γῆς; and (2) γενεηλογίαι. The Periodos deals in two books, first with Europe, then with Asia and Libya. The quotation in the text is from his genealogies (Lübker).

Ion of Chios, poet, historian, and philosopher, highly distinguished among his contemporaries, and mentioned by Strabo among the celebrated men of the island. He won the tragic prize at Athens in 452 B.C., and Aristophanes (Peace, 421 B.C.) speaks of him as already dead. He was not less celebrated as an elegiac poet, and we still possess some specimens of his elegies, which are characterised by an Anacreontic spirit, a cheerful, joyous tone, and even by a certain degree of inspiration. He wrote also Skolia, Hymns, and Epigrams, and was a pretty voluminous writer in prose (Pauly). Compare the Scholiast on Ar. Peace, 801.

Kallisthenes of Olynthus, a near relative of Aristotle; born in 360, and educated by the philosopher as fellow-pupil with Alexander, afterwards the Great. He subsequently visited Athens, where he enjoyed the friendship of Theophrastus, and devoted himself to history and natural philosophy. He afterwards accompanied Alexander on his Asiatic expedition, but soon became obnoxious to the tyrant on account of his independent and manly bearing, which he carried even to the extreme of rudeness and arrogance. He at last excited the enmity of Alexander to such a degree that the latter took the opportunity afforded by the conspiracy of Hermolaus, in which Kallisthenes was accused of participating, to rid himself of his former school companion, whom he caused to be put to death. He was the author of various historical and scientific works. Of the latter two are mentioned (1) On the Nature of the Eye; (2) On the Nature of Plants. Among his historical works are mentioned (1) the Phocian War (read "Phocicum" for v. 1. "Troikum" in Cic. Epp. ad Div. v. 12); (2) a History of Greece in ten books; (3) τὰ Περοικά, apparently identical with the description of Alexander's march, of which we still possess fragments. As an historian he seems to have displayed an undue love of recording signs and wonders. Polybius, however (vi. 45), classes him among the best historical writers. His style is said by Cicero (de Or. ii. 14) to approximate to the rhetorical (Pauly).

Kleitarchus, a contemporary of Alexander, accompanied that monarch on his Asiatic expedition, and wrote a history of the same in twelve books, which must have included at least a short retrospect on the early history of Asia. His talents are spoken of in high terms, but his credit as an historian is held very light—"probatur ingenium, fides infamatur," Quint, x. 1, 74. Cicero also (de Leg. i. 2) ranks him very low. That his credit as an historian was sacrificed to a childish credulity and a foolish love of fable and adventure is sufficiently testified by the pretty numerous fragments which still remain (Pauly). Demetrius Phalereus, quoted by Pearce, quotes a grandiloquent description of the wasp taken from Kleitarchus, "feeding on the mountainside, her home the hollow oak."

Matris, a native of Thebes, author of a panegyric on Herakles, whether in verse or prose is uncertain. In one passage Athenaeus speaks of him as an Athenian, but this must be a mistake. Toup restores a verse from an allusion in Diodorus Siculus (i. 24), which, if genuine, would agree well with the description given of him by Longinus: Ηρακλέα καλέεσκεν, ὅτι κλέος ἔσχε διὰ Ἥραν (see Toup ad Long. III. ii.)

Philistus of Syracuse, a relative of the elder Dionysius, whom he assisted with his wealth in his attack on the liberty of that city, and remained with him until 386 b.c., when he was banished by the jealous suspicions of the tyrant. He retired to Epirus, where he remained until Dionysius's death. The younger Dionysius recalled him, wishing to employ him in the character of supporter against Dion. By his instrumentality it would seem that Dion and Plato were banished from Syracuse. He commanded the fleet in the struggle between Dion and Dionysius, and lost a battle, whereupon he was seized and put to death by the people. During his banishment he wrote his historical work, τὰ Σικελικά, divided into two parts and numbering eleven books. The first division embraced the history of Sicily from the earliest times down to the capture of Agrigentum (seven books), and the remaining four books dealt with the life of Dionysius the elder. He afterwards added a supplement in two books, giving an account of the younger Dionysius, which he did not, however, complete. He is described as an imitator, though at a great distance, of Thucydides, and hence was known as "the little Thucydides." As an historian he is deficient in conscientiousness and candour; he appears as a partisan of Dionysius, and seeks to throw a veil over his discreditable actions. Still he belongs to the most important of the Greek historians (Lübker).

Theodorus of Gadara, a rhetorician in the first century after Christ; tutor of Tiberius, first in Rome, afterwards in Rhodes, from which town he called himself a Rhodian, and where Tiberius during his exile diligently attended his instruction. He was the author of various grammatical and other works, but his fame chiefly rested on his abilities as a teacher, in which capacity he seems to have had great influence (Pauly). He was the author of that famous description of Tiberius which is given by Suetonius (Tib. 57), πηλὸς αἵματι πεφυραμένος, "A clod kneaded together with blood."[1]

Theopompus, a native of Chios; born 380 b.c. He came to Athens while still a boy, and studied eloquence under Isokrates, who is said, in comparing him with another pupil, Ephorus, to have made use of the image which we find in Longinus, c. ii. "Theopompus," he said, "needs the curb, Ephorus the spur" (Suidas, quoted by Jahii ad v.) He appeared with applause in various great cities as an advocate, but especially distinguished himself in the contest of eloquence instituted by Artemisia at the obsequies of her husband Mausolus, where he won the prize. He afterwards devoted himself to historical composition. His great work was a history of Greece, in which he takes up the thread of Thucydides's narrative, and carries it 011 uninterruptedly in twelve books down to the battle of Knidus, seventeen years, later. Here he broke off, and began a new work entitled The Philippics, in fifty-eight books. This work dealt with the history of Greece in the Macedonian period, but was padded out to a preposterous bulk by all kinds of digressions on mythological, historical, or social topics. Only a few fragments remain. He earned an ill name among ancient critics by the bitterness of his censures, his love of the marvellous, and the inordinate length of his digressions. His style is by some critics censured as feeble, and extolled by others as clear, nervous, and elevated (Lübker and Pauly).

Timaeus, a native of Tauromenium in Sicily; born about 352 b.c. Being driven out of Sicily by Agathokles, he lived a retired life for fifty years in Athens, where he composed his History. Subsequently he returned to Sicily, and died at the age of ninety-six in 256 B.C. His chief work was a History of Sicily from the earliest times down to the 129th Olympiad. It numbered sixty-eight books, and consisted of two principal divisions, whose limits cannot now be ascertained. In a separate work he handled the campaigns of Pyrrhus, and also wrote Olympionikae, probably dealing with chronological matters. Timaeus has been severely criticised and harshly condemned by the ancients, especially by Polybius, who denies him every faculty required by the historical writer (xii. 3-15, 23-28). And though Cicero differs from this judgment, yet it may be regarded as certain that Timaeus was better qualified for the task of learned compilation than for historical research, and held no distinguished place among the historians of Greece. His works have perished, only a few fragments remaining (Lübker).

Zoilus, a Greek rhetorician, native of Amphipolis in Macedonia, in the time probably of Ptolemy Philadelphia (285–247 b.c.), who is said by Vitruvius to have crucified him for his abuse of Homer. He won the name of Homeromastix, "the scourge of Homer," and was also known as κύων ῥητορικός, "the dog of rhetoric," on account of his biting sarcasm; and his name (as in the case of the English Dennis) came to be used to signify in general a carping and malicious critic. Suidas mentions two works of his, written with the object of injuring or destroying the fame of Homer—(1) Nine Books against Homer; and (2) Censures on Homer (Pauly).

[The facts contained in the above short notices are taken chiefly from Lübker's Reallexikon des classischen Alterthums, and the very copious and elaborate Real-Encyclopädie der classischen Alterthumswissenschaft, edited by Pauly. I have here to acknowledge the kindness of Dr. Wollseiffen, Gymnasialdirektor in Crefeld, in placing at my disposal the library of the Crefeld Gymnasium, but for which these biographical notes, which were put together at the suggestion of Mr. Lang, could not have been compiled. Crefeld, 31st July 1890.]


Printed by R. & R. Clark, Edinburgh

  1. A remarkable parallel, if not actually an imitation, occurs in Goethe's Faust, "Du Spottgeburt von Dreck und Feuer."