He teacheth virtue by certain abstract considerations, but I only bid you follow the footing of them that have gone before you. But let this be a sufficient, though short note, that we miss the right use of the material point of poesy. So you can thank Sir Philip Sydney for all of that. On the other side, the historian, wanting the precept, is so tied, not to what should be but to what is, to the particular truth of things, and not to the general reason of things, that his example draweth no necessary consequence, and therefore a less fruitful doctrine. Sidney's reverence for the poet as soldier is significant because he himself was a soldier at one time. After reading Gosson and now Sidney, I'm not sure whether I should take Elizabethan criticism seriously anymore.
But for the uttering sweetly and properly the conceits of the mind, which is the end of speech, that hath it equally with any other tongue in the world; and is particularly happy in compositions of two or three words together, near the Greek, far beyond the Latin,—which is one of the greatest beauties that can be in a language. And if it wrought no further good in him, it was that he, in despite of himself, withdrew himself from hearkening to that which might mollify his hardened heart. What is at stake in Sidney's argument is a defense of poetry's nobility. Immo vero etiam in senatum venit, 51 etc. I think scarcely Sphinx can tell; since no memory is so ancient that hath the precedence of poetry. Let it suffice that it is a fit soil for praise to dwell upon; and what dispraise may set upon it, is either easily overcome, or transformed into just commendation. An expanding money economy encouraged.
Both the other Scipio brothers, who had by their virtues no less surnames than of Asia and Afric, so loved him that they caused his body to be buried in their sepulcher. So doth the musician in times tell you which by nature agree, which not. But these neither artificial rules nor imitative patterns, we much cumber ourselves withal. For some that thought this felicity principally to be gotten by knowledge, and no knowledge to be so high or heavenly as acquaintance with the stars, gave themselves to astronomy; others, persuading themselves to be demi-gods if they knew the causes of things, became natural and supernatural philosophers. Maybe you can sympathize with this or at least identify with the idea that it's more fun to watch the movie Troy than it is to sit around in history class and listen to somebody lecture. He pioneered a trail for English that persists today and gives students all over the world massive headaches but also paves the way for people like Alex. For, that a feigned example hath as much force to teach as a true example—for as for to move, it is clear, since the feigned may be tuned to the highest key of passion—let us take one example wherein a poet and a historian do concur.
So do the geometrician and arithmetician in their divers sorts of quantities. Herein may much be said; let this suffice: the poets did not induce such opinions, but did imitate those opinions already induced. The grammarian speaketh only of the rules of speech; and the rhetorician and logician, considering what in nature will soonest persuade, thereon give artificial rules. After all, all the epics are written in poetic form. Poetry has a moral purpose, therefore, con sisting in leading men to truth by integrating, not dividing knowledge.
For example, we are ravished with delight to see a fair woman, and yet are far from being moved to laughter. He well found he received more bravery of mind by the pattern of Achilles, than by hearing the definition of fortitude. Thus doing, you shall be of kin to many a poetical preface. But the historian, being captived to the truth of a foolish world, is many times a terror from well-doing, and an encouragement to unbridled wickedness. Poets introduce and maintain morality.
But truly I imagine if falleth out with these poet-whippers as with some good women who often are sick, but in faith they cannot tell where. For as, in outward things, to a man that had never seen an elephant or a rhinoceros, who should tell him most exquisitely all their shapes, color, bigness, and particular marks; or of a gorgeous palace, an architector, with declaring the full beauties, might well make the hearer able to repeat, as it were by rote, all he had heard, yet should never satisfy his inward conceit with being witness to itself of a true lively knowledge; but the same man, as soon as he might see those beasts well painted, or that house well in model, should straightways grow, without need of any description, to a judicial comprehending of them; so no doubt the philosopher, with his learned definitions, be it of virtues or vices, matters of public policy or private government, replenisheth the memory with many infallible grounds of wisdom, which notwithstanding lie dark before the imaginative and judging power, if they be not illuminated or figured forth by the speaking picture of poesy. It is generally believed that he was at least partly motivated by Stephen Gosson, a former playwright who dedicated his attack on the English stage, The School of Abuse, to Sidney in 1579, but Sidney primarily addresses more general objections to poetry, such as those of Plato. We see we cannot play at chess but that we must give names to our chess-men; and yet, me thinks, he were a very partial champion of truth that would say we lied for giving a piece of wood the reverend title of a bishop. Only thus much now is to be said, that the comedy in an imitation of the common errors of our life, which he representeth in the most ridiculous and scornful sort that may be, so as it is impossible that any beholder can be content to be such a one.
In this kind, though in a full wrong divinity, were Orpheus, Amphion, Homer in his Hymns, and many other, both Greeks and Romans. The philosopher, saith he, teacheth a disputative virtue, but I do an active. The most notable be the heroic, lyric, tragic, comic, satiric, iambic, elegiac, pastoral, and certain others, some of these being termed according to the matter they deal with, some by the sort of verse they liked best to write in,—for indeed the greatest part of poets have apparelled their poetical inventions in that numberous kind of writing which is called verse. For even those hard-hearted evil men who think virtue a school-name, and know no other good but indulgere genio, and therefore despise the austere admonitions of the philosopher, and feel not the inward reason they stand upon, yet will be content to be delighted, which is all the good-fellow poet seemeth to promise; and so steal to see the form of goodnesswhich seen, they cannot but loveere themselves be aware, as if they took a medicine of cherries. But the historian, being captived to the truth of a foolish world, is many times a terror from well-doing, and an encouragement to unbridled wickedness.
One of my favorite Youtube series is 'Alex reads Twilight' - it's a bunch of 5-minute video in which the titular Alex reads Stephanie Meyer's Twilight and rips into it. Upon this necessarily follows, that base men with servile wits undertake it, who think it enough if they can be rewarded of the printer. There rests the heroical, whose very name, I think, should daunt all backbiters. Betwixt whom and these second is such a kind of difference as betwixt the meaner sort of painters, who counterfeit only such faces as are set before them, and the more excellent, who having no law but wit, bestow that in colors upon you which is fittest for the eye to see,as the constant though lamenting look of Lucretia, when she punished in herself anothers fault; wherein he painteth not Lucretia, whom he never saw, but painteth the outward beauty of such a virtue. Great philosophers have been poets including Plato B.