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Dionysius Longinus On The Sublime: Translated from the Greek, With Notes and Observations, And Some Account of the Life, Writings, and Character of the Author. By William Smith, D.D. Now Dean of Chester. [Epigraph] The Fourth Edition, Corrected and Improved.


RA Collection: Book

Record number



Uniform Title

[Peri hypsus., English., Smith., 1770.]

Variant Title

On The Sublime


London:: Printed for E. Johnson, Successor to Mr. B. Dod, at No. 12 in Ave-Mary Lane, Ludgate-Street., M.DCC.LXX.

Physical Description

[12], xxxiv, 180, [6] p., frontis.; 205 mm. (Octavo.)


[[Publisher's advertisement, frontis., t.p., dedic.] - Preface; [publisher's advertisement] - Some Account of the Life, Writings, and Character Of Longinus - [Text] - Index Of the Sections in Longinus - Index of Authors Mention'd by Longinus; [Publisher's advertisement].

Responsibility Note

The frontispiece is signed as designed by J. Wall and engraved by G.Vdr. Gucht.

The translation is dedicated by William Smith to George, Earl of Macclesfield.


ESTC, T119943
C. Nau, Le temps du sublime: Longin et le paysage poussinien (2005).
J. Kirwan, Sublimity (2005).
Le paysage et la question du sublime [exhibition catalogue] (1997).
A. Ashfield and P. de Bolla, The sublime: a reader in eighteenth-century British aesthetic theory (1996).
G. Lombardo, Sublime antico e moderno: una bibliografia (1993).
A. Wilton, Turner and the sublime [exhibition catalogue] (1980).
T.E.B. Wood, The word 'sublime' and its context 1650 - 1760 (1972).
W.J. Hipple, The beautiful, the sublime and the picturesque in eighteenth-century British aesthetic theory (1957).
E. Burke, A philosophical enquiry into our ideas of the sublime and beautiful (1759).

Summary Note

The first edition of this translation was published in 1739.

Longinus's enquiry is concerned with the sublime in literature, where he thinks it to result from nobility of mind and strong emotion, supported by composition and phrasing. He notes how it is destroyed by tumidity and frigidity. He finds the chief examples of the sublime in Homer, Plato and Demosthenes, but quotes extensively from other writers, including Sappho and, interestingly for a pagan writer, from the opening words of Genesis. Longinus's own style is clear and enthusiastic.

The frontispiece shows an ancient orator.


A microfilm copy was published in 1986 (Woodbridge CT: Research Publications).


The front pastedown carries the bookplate of John Yenn; the front loose endpaper is inscribed in ink, 'John Yenn R.A.'

Binding Note

19th-century pigskin, undecorated and unlettered.


Sublime, the - Rhetoric - Aesthetics - Theory
Treatises - 1st century
Treatises - Translations from Greek - Translations into English - Great Britain - 18th century
Publishers' advertisements - Great Britain - London - 18th century