Dionysiou Longinou Peri Hupsous, Kai Talla Heuriskomena

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by Longinus

Dionysiou Longinou Peri Hupsous, Kai Talla Heuriskomena

Title page from Dionysiou Longinou Peri Hupsous, Kai Talla Heuriskomena, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author Longinus
Editor {{{editor}}}
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published Trajecto ad Rhenum: Ex Officinâ Francisci Halma
Date 1694
Edition {{{edition}}}
Language Text in Latin and Greek, followed by French translation from the Greek of De Sublimitate
Volumes {{{set}}} volume set
Pages [26], 408, [12]
Desc. 4to (24 cm.)
Location Shelf I-1
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]
This Greek literary treatise On the Sublime is steeped in mystery. Not only is a third of it lost, but no one knows who wrote it nor when.[1] The author is referred to as both “Dionysius Longinus” and “Dionysius or Longinus” in various manuscripts (referred to as Longinus hereafter). Until the 1800s, it was believed to be authored by Cassius Longinus, but chronological internal evidence indicates it was written around the first century AD.[2] It was written as an answer to the rhetor Caecilius of Caleacte, who Longinus believes failed to properly address the importance and weight of pathos (emotional weight) in his own treatise on sublimity.[3] Longinus addressed his work to a friend, Postumius Terentianus (likely Roman from the name) on the role of sublimity in literature.[4]

Sublime can be defined as “that quality of genius in great literary works which irresistibly delights, inspires, and overwhelms the reader."[5] It applies more to literature than natural phenomena, and to specific excerpts rather than entire works, resulting from “superhuman natural capacity…[to] lift us above our quotidian banalities and put us in touch with finer minds and, above all, with less obstructed emotions.”[6] On the Sublime is influential due to its analysis of poetry and prose and its reflections on writing and genius in general.[7] Longinus gives many examples and non-examples of sublimity in a wide variety of literary sources, from Homer to Demosthenes to Cicero, Sappho, and even the Book of Genesis.

Armorial bookplate of Ambrose Isted, Esqr.
Bookplate of John Bakeless, front pastedown.

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

There is no doubt that George Wythe owned Dionysiou Longinou Peri Hupsous, Kai Talla Heuriskomena. A copy of the 1694 edition at the Library of Congress includes Wythe's bookplate and an inscription by Thomas Jefferson on the flyleaf "The gift of a friend a few days before he died" followed by four lines of Greek. Jefferson also listed "Longinus. Gr. Lat. Tollii 4to." in his inventory of Wythe's Library, noting that he kept the volume himself. He later sold it to the Library of Congress. Both the Brown Bibliography[8] and George Wythe's Library[9] on LibraryThing list the 1694 edition of Dionysiou Longinou Peri Hupsous, Kai Talla Heuriskomena. The Wolf Law Library purchased a copy of the same edition.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Rebacked in full mottled calf. Spine features gilt lettered red leather spine label and five raised bands and gilt decorations. All edges of the binding are decorated in gilt. Includes the bookplate of John Bakeless on the front pastedown and that of Ambrose Isted with the Latin motto "Nosce te ipsum" (Know thyself). Also has the inscription, "Ambrose Isted, E Coll. Trin : Oxon, 1735" on the front free endpaper. Purchased from Elliot's Books.

Images of the library's copy of this book are available on Flickr. View the record for this book in William & Mary's online catalog.

Inscription, front free endpaper.

See also


  1. "Longī'nus on the Sublime" in The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature, ed. by M.C. Howatson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
  2. Ibid.
  3. "Longīnus" in Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World, ed. by John Roberts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
  4. "Longī'nus on the Sublime” in The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature.
  5. "sublime" in Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World, ed. by John Roberts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
  6. Ibid.
  7. "‘Longīnus’" in Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World.
  8. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at: https://digitalarchive.wm.edu/handle/10288/13433
  9. LibraryThing, s. v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on March 5. 2014.

External Links

Read this book in Google Books.