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Document Details :
Title: 'Soni fiunt suaviores'
Subtitle: Musical Implications in the Early Modern Reception of Longinus' On the Sublime
Author(s): REFINI, Eugenio
Volume: 43 Issue: 2 Date: 2016
The relevance of the rediscovery of Longinus to early modern music theory and practice remains largely unexplored. In order to contribute to the study of this aspect of the reception of Longinus, this essay aims to analyse the ways in which references to music in Longinus’ On the sublime were understood by early modern readers of the treatise. More precisely, my analysis shows that Longinus’ use of musical terms in his discussion of periphrasis and compositio verborum was interpreted by early modern scholars in the light of contemporary music theory and practice. Although far from seizing the original meaning of Longinus’ similes, these interpretations shed light on the interplay of rhetoric, poetics, and musical culture that informed the early modern reception of the sublime. By comparing this body of works to contemporary debates on vocal music, I propose that categories belonging to the Longinian sublime may be used to better understand the development of musical genres between the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth centuries.