Alexander Pope: Peri Bathous, or the Art of Sinking in Poetry

(2362 words)

Peri Bathous: or, The Art of Sinking in Poetry is a mock Ars Poetica, or Art of Poetry, a parodic treatise on how not to write poetry. It is a humorous inversion of Longinus's classical treatise, Peri Hupsous: or, The Art of the Sublime (1st century AD). Pope takes Longinus's description of the five sources of the sublime – grandeur of thought; inspired passion; the effective use of rhetorical figures; nobility of diction; and the dignity of the overall composition – and ironically advocates their opposites as guidance in the modern poet's quest to achieve true profundity. Pope uses Longinus's treatise as a framework for the parody, but he does not denigrate him in Peri Bathous, any more than …

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Gordon, Ian. "Peri Bathous, or the Art of Sinking in Poetry". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 11 March 2003
[, accessed 09 October 2015.]