The Defence of Poesy

Discuss the relationship of teaching (docere), delighting (delectare) and moving (movere) in 'The Defence of Poesy'.

'Poesy, therefore, is an art of imitation, for so Aristotle termeth it in the word mimesis, that is to say, a representing, counterfeiting or figuring forth - to speak metaphorically, a speaking picture - with this end: to teach and delight'.

Discuss the relationship of teaching (docere), delighting (delectare) and moving (movere) in the Defence.

Stephan Gosson's Puritan attack on poetry, and the source from which he derived a number of his complaints, Plato's Republic (X), in which Socrates banishes poetry from his idealised state, were joint forces in prompting Sir Philip Sidney's Defence of the art. Responding primarily to Plato's suggestion of fiction's morally corrupt influence on its readers (specifically incorporated into Gosson's The School of Abuse), Sidney employs a style that fuses the rhetorical and polemical with an almost conversational friendliness in order to present his argument in a persuasive manner.

Sidney's various assertions centre on poetry's positive force for inspiring its readers not, as Plato contested, towards 'sinful things', but instead towards virtuous action, through following the traditional tripartite aim of rhetoric; to teach (docere), delight...

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