I’ve synthesized below the parts of Defense of Poesy we identified in group work:

Exordium:

  • Story about horses and name-dropping a famous riding master (page 3)

Narratio

  • Poesy is under attack! (starting page 4)

Propositio

  • Poesy is important to society because it is universal, original, teaches and delights, and is in the Bible (starting page 30)
  • Poesy has good goals and should be respected (page 10, page 53)

Partitio

  • Six kinds of poesy (pg 26-29) pastoral, lamenting elegiac, satiric, comic, lyric, and heroical
  • Specific vices and virtues that poesy can address

Confirmatio

  • Even barbarians use poesy
  • Highly respected historical figures like Aristotle use poesy
  • Other people’s credibility (the Bible, famous kings and philosophers)
  • Poesy is universal  – even “inferior” (to Sidney) cultures use poesy, so there’s something fundamentally human and important about it
  • Comparison to philosophy and mathematics

Reprehensio

  • Not useful (counterargument: it’s useful because it teaches virtue)
  • Poesy teaches lying (counter: it’s fictional, doesn’t pretend to tell the truth and so it can’t lie)
  • Poesy inflames bad desires (counter: poesy just represents desires that are already there)
  • Poesy is unmanly (counter: even the toughest soldiers like poesy, so it can’t be unmanly)
  • Plato doesn’t like poesy (Counter: he’s a philosopher, so he’s biased. Also, Plato uses poesy himself – he is only worried about bad poesy which misleads us about the gods. We don’t need to worry about being misled anymore because we have Christianity, so Plato’s concerns no longer apply)

Perorario

  • You should appreciate poesy!