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Addressing the question of characterization in the Discours, Corneille is faced with a philological quandary: What does Aristotle mean when he prescribes that a dramatic character be good? Corneille underscores this apparent contradiction with examples drawn from Horace: Medea, Ixion, and Achilles, each of whom by convention displays less than virtuous character traits.

Corneille argues that if we faithfully portray these characters according to the conventional traits which Horace recommends, this does not leave much room for the expression of virtue as it is conventionally understood, in other words, moral goodness. Corneille supports his interpretation with citations from Aristotle and Robertello an Italian commentator. Although this whole passage from the Discours is dealing with how best to create a fictional character, it also treats fictional characters as moral agents who express character traits through their acts. The passage shows Corneille making of elevation a conceptual link that is ethical and, ultimately, metaphysical in its import.

This is perfectly consistent with what Fumaroli has repeatedly emphasized in his historical research on eloquence: there existed a close relationship among ethics, rhetoric, and poetics in the first half of the seventeenth century. To focus on the metaphysical dimension is merely to highlight the microcosm of social and political bodies. This metaphysical dimension would theoretically become unconcealed in action and speaking, would be represented by certain marks or traits, and, ultimately, would be played out in the social and political arenas.

Hence there would exist a proportion of scale across the various dimensions or levels. The great actors on the historical stage would be great souls. Virtue is a kind of superlative degree. In other words, Cleopatra is the outstanding type of her class. This conception of virtue as superlative elevation is very close to an Aristotelian conception of virtue in the Nicomachean Ethics, where virtue is seen as human activity raised to the highest degree.

Marc Fumaroli tells us that Corneille was probably also a reader of the Nicomachean Ethics, or had at least second-hand knowledge of it from Latin versions used in the Jesuit schools Fumaroli — In the Nicomachean Ethics Corneille would have acquired the conceptual tools necessary to articulate the complex relationship of character, soul, and virtue.

For Corneille, this complex relationship is articulated in dramatic language. This formulation explicitly links the rhetorical sublime to the presence of a great soul. With his usual perspicacity, Fumaroli has linked the social and political to the metaphysical; the link is one of proportional elevation, height, greatness, across micro- and macrocosm. This correspondence between elevation of style and elevation of soul, I would assert, uncovers a metaphysical dimension to social and political bodies not only because such a correspondence presupposes a whole series of Aristotelian concepts capacity, activity, movement, form, matter, etc.

Corneille could have chosen a male character, even a wicked male character, to make his point, but instead he chose a female character. A femme forte, a woman with a great soul, has the power to challenge prevailing dramatic theory as well as social and political expectations for women in seventeenth-century France.

This is the line of argument we will pursue just as soon as we review the Aristotelian conception of magnanimity. In principle, we do not want to exclude either the Christian or the archaic version of the megalopsuchos, albeit in female incarnations, Pauline and Camille. Indeed, Aristotle himself, when he sets out to define magnanimity, merely describes the kind of person the megalopsuchos is. He singles out certain typical character traits. Aristotle relates the idea of worth to external goods, such as wealth, power, or good fortune.

This last trait is crucial. The magnanimous person aims at honor in the right way and for the right reasons. He aims neither too high, which would make him foolish and vain, nor too low, which would make him merely small. Magnanimity is the greatest of the Aristotelian virtues of character. On the one hand, magnanimity cannot arise without the other virtues. Aristotle argues that one could not be magnanimous, that is, worthy of great things, if one were cowardly, unjust, or base.

On the other hand, magnanimity adds luster to the other virtues. If one is truly worthy of great things, then one is the best person, and the honor due to the best shows the other virtues also to be great. When the activity of the human soul expresses reason, and when it does this finely and well, Aristotle calls it virtue. It is a kind of excellence. Other characteristics of the magnanimous person include a willingness to display greatness only to the great; an unwillingness to face danger and take action except in the most extreme circumstances; frank expression of friendship and enmity; a tendency to do more good than he has received, and hence to remember only the good he has done, not what he has received; and, finally, a moderate display of pleasure from public honors and recognition of his worth Aristotle, Ethics IV.

This emphasis on honor and dishonor must have made Aristotelian magnanimity an attractive virtue to the nobility of early seventeenth-century France. For instance, P. In Horace , it is Curiace and the younger Horace who must fight to the death to determine whether Alba or Rome will have supremacy.

In Polyeucte martyr , Polyeucte himself has the privilege of smashing the pagan idols and offering up his life to God. Generally speaking, each can be called magnanimous because he is truly worthy of great things.

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There exist different social expectations for women, and Hepp explores these by comparing masculine and feminine ideals as embodied in the hero and the heroine. According to Hepp, the characteristics of a perfect seventeenth-century French woman are defined not by her relation to action but by her relation to men. It is not just the case that she should be loyal to family and devoted to her husband; it is also that she is meant to mediate between men and heroic values, inspiring men to achieve great things.

This can be done through love, through motherhood, or through prayer. In every case, moreover, she should be modest, hiding her feelings, her opinions, and her intellectual gifts. This struggle cannot be explained merely by assigning supremacy to men in the public sphere of action and supremacy to women in the personal sphere of love.

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Time and again, we see in Corneille just how entangled political rivalries and alliances are with love interests, such that it is difficult to separate the public from the personal and politics from love. What we are in fact witnessing are male and female protagonists who are constantly called on to deliberate and who, eventually, do make a decision. This representation of decision-making occurs both on the level of plot and on the level of style, that is, in action and in speaking. To shore up the legitimacy of this focus on speaking, I want briefly to explain how, from an Aristotelian perspective, speaking involves voluntary decision just as action does.

Aristotelian magnanimity is a virtue but also a character or a kind of person. For Aristotle, the conceptual link between virtue and character is voluntary decision. Broadly defined, virtue is the state that qualifies an activity as good. The activity characteristic of a human being is the activity of the soul, especially its rational parts. Decision is therefore proper to virtue, though only to the extent that decision involves reason and thought, in other words, the rational parts of the soul.

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The kinds of decisions a person makes, for what reasons, in what way, etc. Earlier we reviewed the traits characteristic of the megalopsuchos; these traits, therefore, essentially amount to the decisions the megalopsuchos is in the habit of making. And because these decisions involve the rational parts of the soul, they can be seen as essential attributes of the soul. In oratory, a speaker will attribute the character traits of magnanimity either to himself or to another. In drama, the playwright will have the fictional characters make decisions characteristic of a magnanimous person.

Style is understood here to be invention, disposition, and elocution taken as a whole. If we consider the choice of topics, the choice of arrangement, and the choice of figures to constitute a series of voluntary decisions, then we can read style as a portrait of character and, ultimately, a portrait of the soul, provided that voluntary decision is indeed a defining characteristic of the soul. This is claiming more than the idea that queens and kings should speak in a dignified and elevated way.

This is saying that, on an Aristotelian view, stylistic traits are tantamount to character traits, and that such traits ultimately refer back to operations characteristic of the soul. This would hold for fictional as well as real speakers. We can now understand more fully the rationale behind the idea that a great soul is the source of great eloquence.

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That is, they ultimately derive from a great soul. The superlative heights associated with magnanimity would correspond to the superlative heights of sublimity. To sum up, then, voluntary decision is more indicative of character than action itself, and style or manner of speaking, being the result of such decision, may potentially portray the soul in language.

Furthermore, if such decision, whether action or speaking, shows women to be as magnanimous as men, they are so in virtue of the same principle as men: the rational parts of the soul. This is nowhere more evident than in Polyeucte. In overcoming these obstacles, Pauline displays an extraordinary self-mastery. This self-mastery is her glory. It shows her to be worthy of great things. The ultimate recognition of her magnanimity comes not from the public sphere of the State, however, nor the sphere of the family, but from God in the form of irresistible grace that leads to instantaneous conversion.

Pauline displays several character traits of magnanimity. Pauline is magnanimous in the first place because she frankly expresses her friendships and enmities. Pauline represents her struggle for self-mastery in striking political and military imagery:. Her inner turmoil is likened to a civil war; her senses have revolted. His merits are plain for the eyes to see. This is still the case. Her senses are in a seditious turmoil II.

The sovereignty of her reason can be restored only at the price of tyranny over her senses II. We need only complete the analogy. Reason, the father, the sovereign, has unjustly repressed the senses, the daughter, the nobility. As an unrecognized and unrewarded great soul, Pauline stands in a paradigmatic relation to all who are unjustly devalued in the body politic. Presumably, like the nobility, Pauline rises to greater and greater heights of self-mastery. For Pauline, on the other hand, death would be the ultimate sacrifice to the patriarchy.

This is why God must intervene at the end. His recognition of her worthiness recuperates her for the patriarchy. Camille, on the other hand, chooses death over subjugation to an unjust patriarchy. Congratulations on winning this lot. Automatic bids allow you to be one step ahead of other bidders. Keep on bidding to have a chance of winning!

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View all 12 bids. Condition: Covers and back in good condition - top crown of volume 2 a little cropped, the rest is in good condition. Hinges in good condition. Inside in good condition with some normal stains especially on flyleaves. Catawiki member since May 22, , received reviews in total 94 in last 12 months. Gandalf-den-grijzen April 2, View all reviews. Shipping costs are for mainland destinations only. More information. Any other costs or charges such as customs or import duties, customs clearance and handling may also apply during the shipment of your lot and will be charged to you by the involved party at a later stage if applicable.

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