The works collected in this volume have profoundly shaped the history of criticism in the Western world: they created much of the terminology still in use today and formulated enduring questions about the nature and function of literature. In Ion, Plato examines the god-like power of poets to evoke feelings such as pleasure or fear, yet he went on to attack this manipulation of emotions and banished poets from his ideal Republic. Aristotle defends the value of art in his Poetics, and his analysis of tragedy has influenced generations of critics from the Renaissance onwards. In the Art of Poetry, Horace promotes a style of poetic craftsmanship rooted in wisdom, ethical insight and decorum, while Longinus' On the Sublime explores the nature of inspiration in poetry and prose.
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