Cicero calls his style "copious and polished," Quintilian, "sweet, pure and flowing"; Longinus says he was "the most Homeric of historians"; Dionysius, his countryman, prefers him to Thucydides, and regards him as combining in an extraordinary degree the excellences of sublimity, beauty and the true historical method of composition.
The end is told in words of simple sublimity: "And it came to pass, as they still went on and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, which parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven" (2 Kings ii.
The magnificent piece in praise of winter, the solemn and beautiful cadences of "Departure," and the homely but elevated pathos of "The Toys," are in their various manners unsurpassed in English poetry for sublimity of thought and perfection of expression.
They are written in the Doric dialect, with epic licences; the metre is dactylico-trochaic. Brief as they are, they show us what Longinus meant by calling Stesichorus "most like Homer"; they are full of epic grandeur, and have a stately sublimity that reminds us of Pindar.
With the Persian religion of light and the Egyptian of enigmas we pass to those faiths where Godhead takes the form of a spiritual individuality, to the Hebrew religion (of sublimity), the Greek (of beauty) and the Roman (of adaptation).
From the sublimity of Thucydides, and Xenophon's straightforward story, history passed with Theopompus and Ephorus into the field of rhetoric. A revival of the scientific instinct of investigation is discernable in Timaeus the Sicilian, at the end of the 4th century, but his attack upon his predecessors was the text of a more crushing attack upon himself by Polybius, who declares him lacking in critical insight and biased by passion.
And as a poet Lull takes a prominent position in the history of Catalan literature; such pieces as El Desconort (1295) and Lo Cant de Ramon (1299) combine in a rare degree simple beauty of expression with sublimity of thought and impassioned sincerity.
Opening with a vision of Eve in Paradise which eclipses Milton's in beauty no less than in sublimity - a dream of the mother of mankind at the hour when she knew the first sense of dawning motherhood, it closes with a vision of the trumpet to be sounded on the day of judgment which transcends the imagination of Dante by right of a realized idea which was utterly impossible of conception to a believer in Dante's creed: the idea of real and final equity; the concept of absolute and abstract righteousness.
Next year the exile of Guernsey published his third great romance, Les Travailleurs de la mer, a work unsurpassed even among the works of its author for splendour of imagination and of style, for pathos and sublimity of truth.
Toute la lyre, his latest legacy to the world, would be enough, though no other evidence were left, to show that the author was one of the very greatest among poets and among men; unsurpassed in sublimity of spirit, in spontaneity of utterance, in variety of power, and in perfection of workmanship; infinite and profound beyond all reach of praise at once in thought and in sympathy, in perception and in passion; master of all the simplest as of all the subtlest melodies or symphonies of song that ever found expression in a Border ballad or a Pythian ode.
The writer of the treatise On Sublimity knows 35 1 no heights loftier than those to which Demosthenes 351 has risen.
In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagvat-Geeta, since whose composition years of the gods have elapsed, and in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial; and I doubt if that philosophy is not to be referred to a previous state of existence, so remote is its sublimity from our conceptions.