previous next

‘The structure (figure, fashion) of the language (i. e. prose composition) should be neither metrical (run into verse)1 nor entirely without measure or rhythm; for the one has no power of persuasion, because it is thought to be artificial (supra, c. 2. 4, πεπλασμένως), and at the same time also diverts (the hearers' attention, from the main subject or the proof of the fact): for it makes him attend to the recurrence of the similar cadence. And so (the audience anticipate the answering or recurring cadence) just as the children anticipate the answer to the herald's summons, “Whom does the freedman choose for his attorney? and the answer is, Cleon”’.

ἐπίτροπος one who is charged or entrusted with the management of his case, or of any business as deputy for another; procurator, ἐπιτρόποις Καίσαρος, Plut. Praec. Ger. Reip. c. 17, 813 E, ὡς αὐτὸς μὲν οὐκ ἐπεμελήθη τούτων, δ᾽ ἐπίτροπος Μιλύας, ‘his man of business, deputy, agent’.

On Cleon's self-assumed functions of public prosecutor and poor man's advocate, see Grote, Hist. Gr. ch. LIV, Vol. VI. p. 667 seq. An example in Arist. Ran. 569, (one of the tavern-keepers says,) ἴθι δὴ κάλεσον τὸν προστάτην Κλέωνά μοι, (and the other) σὺ δ᾽ ἔμοιγ̓, ἐάνπερ ἐπιτύχῃς, Ὑπέρβολον, ἵν̓ αὐτὸν ἐπιτρίψωμεν: from which Mr Grote draws his inferences as to the real nature of Cleon's misrepresented policy. The children, in the illustration, are so accustomed to the invariable reply to the herald's proclamation, for an attorney or deputy to plead some freedman's cause—who by law was not allowed to speak for himself in court— that they have learned to say ‘Cleon’ whenever the question is asked. It has not been noticed that this story is told in the present tense, as if the children were in the habit of doing this in Aristotle's own time. Can it be meant that the custom had been handed down from generation to generation for a century or so after Cleon's death? If so, it is a very remarkable fact.

With the opening words of the chapter, comp. Cic. Orat. LI 172, Is (Aristoteles) igitur versum in oratione vetat esse, numerum iubet. Ib. § 189, of verses unintentionally introduced by the orator in his speech, Inculcamus per imprudentiam...versus; vitiosum genus, et longa animi provisione fugiendum. With ἀπίθανον κ.τ.λ., comp. Ib. LXII 209, Si enim semper utare (these studied arts and tricks of rhetoric), quum satietatem adfert tum quale sit etiam ab imperitis agnoscitur. Detrahit praeterea actionis dolorem, aufert humanum sensum actoris, tollit funditus veritatem et fidem... LXV 220, Multum interest utrum numerosa sit, id est, similis numerorum an plane e numeris constet oratio. Alterum si fit, intolerabile vitium est; alterum nisi fit, dissipata et inculta et fluens est oratio.

1 A remarkable instance of this defect in composition is quoted by Twining on Poet., note 36, p. 209, from Dr Smith's System of Optics—where, as he truly says, one would least expect to find such a thing—the beginning of Bk. 1 c. 2 § 47, Where parallel rays Come contrary ways And fall upon opposite sides. This is decidedly more metrical than a parallel instance in one of Dr Whewell's treatises on Mechanics, Hence no force however great, Can stretch a cord however fine, Into an horizontal line, Which is accurately straight [Whewell's Mechanics 1 p. 44, ed. 1819, Facetiae Cantabrigienses p. 162]. Quintilian is particularly indignant at this introduction of a verse into prose writing: versum in oratione fieri multo foedissimum est, totum; sed etiam in parte deforme, IX 4. 72. [For iambic verses in the prose of Isocrates, see Paneg. § 170, ἐχρῆν γὰρ αὐτοὺς εἴπερ ἦσαν ἄξιοι and Spengel's Artium Scriptores, pp. 152—4.]

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: