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Moving to the “Narration,” Sidney examines the nature of poetry and traces its ancient roots.
For example, motivated by envy, a person may develop courage and wish to emulate the accomplishments of another; and the avaricious person may attain the virtue of prudence.
One can easily understand why, from the beginning, many felt that Pope had depended on Leibnitz.
Relying heavily on examples from ancient history and literature, Sidney argues in this work that poetry surpasses the other literary genres in its ability to stir its audience to “virtuous action.”This guide is based on Oxford University Press’s 1966 edition, edited by Van Dorsten, J. Greek words are transliterated into the Roman alphabet.
The treatise opens with an “Exordium,” or introduction, in which Sidney relates a conversation with an equestrian named John Pietro Pugliano.
In the edition of Lettres philosophiques published in that year, he wrote: "The Essay on Man appears to me to be the most beautiful didactic poem, the most useful, the most sublime that has ever been composed in any language." Perhaps this is no more than another illustration of how Voltaire could vacillate in his attitude as he struggled with the problems posed by the optimistic philosophy in its relation to actual experience.
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For in the Lisbon poem and in Candide, he picked up Pope's recurring phrase "Whatever is, is right" and made mockery of it: "Tout est bien" in a world filled with misery!Pope denied that he was indebted to Leibnitz for the ideas that inform his poem, and his word may be accepted.Those ideas were first set forth in England by Anthony Ashley Cowper, Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1731).In a brief “Proposition,” Sidney sets out his definition of poetry: that it is an imitative art whose end is to teach and delight.He will later add that poetry has the unique power to move its audience to “virtuous action” (29).They pervade all his works but especially the Moralist.Indeed, several lines in the Essay on Man, particularly in the first Epistle, are simply statements from the Moralist done in verse.Following are the major ideas in Essay on Man: (1) a God of infinite wisdom exists; (2) He created a world that is the best of all possible ones; (3) the plenum, or all-embracing whole of the universe, is real and hierarchical; (4) authentic good is that of the whole, not of isolated parts; (5) self-love and social love both motivate humans' conduct; (6) virtue is attainable; (7) "One truth is clear, WHATEVER IS, IS RIGHT." Partial evil, according to Pope, contributes to the universal good."God sends not ill, if rightly understood." According to this principle, vices, themselves to be deplored, may lead to virtues.Super Summary, a modern alternative to Spark Notes and Cliffs Notes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature.This 34-page guide for “The Defence of Poesy” by Philip Sidney includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 3 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis.