Sidney's Defense of Poesie

English 203

Dr. Fike


  1. Sidney's Defence responds to a person.


  1. What are Gosson's objections to poetry in School of Abuse?  See excerpt attached to this handout.


  1. Principles of Neo-Platonism:
    1. Beauty
    2. Flesh vs. spirit
    3. Love
    4. Ladder of love

    4.  Sidney's Sonnet 5 (in Astrophel and Stella):

             a.  Do you see Neo-Platonic ideas here?

             b.  How is this a sonnet about reason?

             c.  Summary:

                    i.  Beauty and virtue

                   ii.  Reason____beauty____virtue

                  iii.  Ladder of love

  1. Questions and Answers:  Some basic points:
    1. What is ironic about Plato's criticism of the poets?
    2. What is a poet?
    3. What is poetry? 

                                                               i.      First point:

                                                             ii.      Second point:

                                                            iii.      Third point:

    1. What is poetry's relationship to history and philosophy? 
    2. What is the function of poetry? 
    3. What are the four objections to poetry? 


                                                               i.      Objection #1 and reply.


                                                             ii.      Objection #2 and reply.


                                                            iii.      Objection #3 and reply.


                                                           iv.      Objection #4 and reply.


  1. Sidney and the Platonic Hierarchy.
    1. Plato's order:  Forms ____ nature ____ art.
    2. Discussion:  What is Sidney's order?  See "Nature never set forth…."
    3. Discussion:  What does Sidney saying about the artist?


                                                               i.      In what way is the poet God-like?


                                                             ii.      What is the point of mentioning Adam?


                                                            iii.      Does Sidney believe that poetry can perfect human beings?


  1. Sidney and the classical oration.
    1. Types of classical orations: 

                                                               i.      Panegyrical

                                                             ii.      Deliberative

                                                            iii.      Judicial

    1. Outline:  Parts of the oration:

                                                               i.      exordium (entrance or beginning)

                                                             ii.      narratio (narration—states the facts)

                                                            iii.      propositio (proposition/definition)

                                                           iv.      partitio (division—types of poetry)

                                                             v.      confirmatio (confirmation—poetry and her rivals:  history and philosophy)

                                                           vi.      reprehensio (confutation—objections to poetry)

                                                          vii.      digression (on native English poets)

                                                        viii.      peroratio (conclusion)