Joseph Warton

English literary critic; (1722-1800)

Joseph Warton (22 April 172223 February 1800) was an English academic and literary critic.

Joseph Warton

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  • He that peruses Homer, is like the traveller that surveys mount Atlas; the vastness and roughness of its rocks, the solemn gloominess of its pines and cedars, the everlasting snows that cover its head, the torrents that rush down its sides, and the wild beasts that roar in its caverns, all contribute to strike the imagination with inexpressible astonishment and awe. While reading the Aeneid is like beholding the Capitoline hill at Rome, on which stood many edifices of exquisite architecture, and whose top was crowned with the famous temple of Jupiter, adorned with the spoils of conquered Greece.
    • The Works of Virgil (1753), Dedication, pp. viii–ix
  • It were to be wished that no youth of genius were suffered ever to look into Statius, Lucan, Claudian, or Seneca the tragedian; authors who, by their forced conceits, by their violent metaphors, by their swelling epithets, by their want of just decorum, have a strong tendency to dazzle and to mislead inexperienced minds, and tastes unformed, from the true relish of possibility, propriety, simplicity, and nature. [...] If I might venture to pronounce so rigorous a sentence, I would say, that the Romans can boast of but eight poets who are unexceptionably excellent,—namely, Terence, Lucretius, Catullus, Virgil, Horace, Tibullus, Propertius, Phaedrus. These only can be called legitimate models of just thinking and writing. Succeeding authors, as it happens in all countries, resolving to be original and new, and to avoid the imputation of copying, become distorted and unnatural. By endeavouring to open an unbeaten path, they deserted simplicity and truth; weary of common and obvious beauties, they must needs hunt for remote and artificial decorations...
    • An Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope, Vol. II (1782), pp. 21–24

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