In groups during Although the real author of the text of On the Sublime is unknown, his theories regarding literature became highly influential shortly before and during the Enlightenment. According to Longinus, the authorial voice in the text, the goal of an author is to produce a work that conjures up the "sublime" in the reader. While Longinus never explicitly defines exactly what the "sublime" is per se, he does explain that "Sublimity is a kind of eminence or excellence of discourse...grandeur produces ecstasy rather than persuasion in the hearer; and the combination of wonder and excitement proves superior to the merely persuasive and the pleasant" (Longinus 347). While many others in antiquity favored the rhetorical power of persuasion in written works, Longinus emphasizes the sublime as a force that has more pull than any other rhetorical device in literature. He goes on to say that "persuasion is on the whole something we can control, whereas amazement and wonder exert invincible power and force and get the better of every hearer" (pg. 347). I have one problem/question regarding this statement, however: Throughout much of the text, Longinus assigns agency to the writer, who is the one responsible for producing sublimity within literature. In the above quotation however, he also states that persuasion is something "we can control." Is sublimity something that cannot be controlled then? From the text, it seems that Longinus is pretty explicit in asserting that the sublimity is produced (and thus under the control) of the author.
We need not look further to affirm this claim that look into Longinus discussion of the sources of sublimity. He states that these five sources dictate whether or not a text can achieve sublimity. All five have to do with the author and his technique in writing. In writing a text, the author must have the power to conceive great thoughts, inspired emotion, utilize certain kinds of figures, "noble diction" and careful word arrangement. He even goes as far to state that "Nothing is possible without it" (pg. 350). Contrary to his statements regarding persuasion (as something that "we can control"), it seems that sublimity is also something that is, and can be, controlled by the writer. That is not to say that there is not a role for the reader and the hearer according to Longinus, but he seems to solely focus on the writer as the deciding factor in producing and controlling sublimity in literature.