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As a famous representative of the Greek literary heritage, Sappho is both a source of tremendous literary meaning and recreation in the Imperial period, for e.g. Achilles Tatius and Longus, but at the same time an object of censure from Christian moralists, as in Tatian’s Oratio ad Graecos. Chapter 22 of The Cambridge Companion to Sappho discusses her transmission and reception as the ancient world began to change into a Christian one.
Chapter 20 of The Cambridge Companion to Sappho looks at Sappho’s significance for the rich poetic culture of the Hellenistic world, including Apollonius, Theocritus, and Posidippus, as a parallel development to the scholarly discourse surrounding the editing of her work during this period.
The seventh section of An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals is full of interesting puzzles. Why is courage treated here, among the virtues immediately agreeable to self, when it is useful to both its possessor and others? Why do so many of the virtues listed here seem like vices? And why does Hume linger on those virtues of which he seems the most suspicious? This chapter attempts to answer these questions. First, I outline the structure of the section and explain its oddities in more detail. These oddities reflect Hume’s ambivalence about some of the virtues immediately agreeable to self. Second, I argue for the importance of the aesthetic concept of the sublime for his treatment of these virtues. Appreciating this importance can illuminate some of the oddities. Finally, I argue that, although Hume believes that our attraction to these virtues needs correction, this correction cannot consist merely in judging these virtues against the standard of useful virtues. Instead, the correction requires another virtue immediately agreeable to self – delicacy of taste.
This introduction to the volume provides overviews of theories of the sublime and musicology’s engagement with the sublime, before outlining the fresh perspective brought by this collection. The focus is on historically specific experiences of the sublime: although the centre of gravity is the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, in the well-known centres of intellectual debate on the sublime in Europe, a widened purview considers performers and audiences, as well as composers and works, as agents of power. The authors distinguish between the different aesthetics of production, representation and effect, while understanding these as often mutually reinforcing approaches. A significant cross-temporal finding to emerge from the collection is music’s strength in playing out the sublime as transfer, transport and transmission of power; this is allied to the persistent theme of destruction, deaths and endings. The density of this thematic complex in music is a keynote of the dialogue between the chapters. The volume opens up two avenues for further research, suggested by the adjective ‘sonorous’: a wider spectrum of sounds heard as sublime, and (especially for those outside musicology) a more multifaceted idea of music as a cultural practice that has porous boundaries with other sounding phenomena.
How does God speak? In late seventeenth-century France, the sacred model of the fiat lux (‘Let there be light’, Gen. 1:3) proposed by Longinus and familiar from Boileau’s 1674 translation was an important point of reference. Theologians defined the divine voice in terms of its transcendent efficacy, and although they rarely addressed current musical practice, they employed images derived from biblical sources to give it concrete form. This chapter builds on our existing knowledge of how the growing vogue for the sublime intersected with religious discourses and explores the ways in which influential preachers portrayed the ability of sound to wrench listeners from themselves and exalt in their devotions. It contrasts the sonic characteristics of the voice of God in the Old Testament (astonishingly thunderous) with the choir of angels in the Book of Revelation and Jesus’s pleading voice in the Gospels. By concentrating on sound in this manner, theological reflections articulated different facets of the sublime – from a mystical invitation to harmony, to a pastoral theology of shock.
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