The contemporary understanding of Longinus and the sublime, which has been dominant for centuries (since Boileau), is crucially flawed. It is Longino-centric, it is riddled with assumptions about rhetoric, philosophy, and nature, and it forcibly enrolls the sublime in a well-worn tale about the aesthetic origins of modernity, which must itself transcend antiquity in order to be fully modern. On a fresh look at the problem, Longinus can be shown to be an incidental moment in the history and reception of the sublime. Far from being a principle of rhetorical criticism that emerged late in the day, the sublime proves to be an essential way of comprehending Greek and Roman thought and experience at their most exuberant and searching moments, from their earliest beginnings to their final appearances.

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