1. But these rules of style, while part of the student's theoretical knowledge, are not in themselves sufficient to give him oratorical power. In addition he will require that assured facility which the Greeks call ἕξις I know that many have raised the question as to whether this is best acquired by writing, reading or speaking, and it would indeed be a question calling for serious consideration, if we could rest content with any one of the three. [2] But they are so intimately and inseparably connected, that if one of them be neglected, we shall but waste the labour which we have devoted to the others. For eloquence will never attain to its full development or robust health, unless it acquires strength by frequent practice in writing, while such practice without the models supplied by reading will be like a ship drifting aimlessly without a steersman. Again, he who knows what he ought to say and how he should say it, will be like a miser brooding over his hoarded treasure, unless he has the weapons of his eloquence ready for battle and prepared to deal with every emergency. [3] But the degree in [p. 5] which a thing is essential does not necessarily make it of immediate and supreme importance for the formation of the ideal orator. For obviously the power of speech is the first essential, since therein lies the primary task of the orator, and it is obvious that it was with this that the art of oratory began, and that the power of imitation comes next, and third and last diligent practice in writing. [4] But as perfection cannot be attained without starting at the very beginning, the points which come first in time will, as our training proceeds, become of quite trivial importance. Now we have reached a stage in our enquiry where we are no longer considering the preliminary training of our orator; for I think the instructions already given should suffice for that; they are in any case as good as I could make them. Our present task is to consider how our athlete who has learnt all the technique of his art from his trainer, is to be prepared by actual practice for the contests in which he will have to engage. Consequently, we must assume that our student has learned how to conceive and dispose his subject matter and understands how to choose and arrange his words, and must proceed to instruct him how to make the best and readiest use of the knowledge which he has acquired.

[5] There can then be no doubt that he must accumulate a certain store of resources, to be employed whenever they may be required. The resources of which I speak consist in a copious supply of words and matter. [6] But while the matter is necessarily either peculiar to the individual case, or at best common to only a few, words must be acquired to suit all and every case. Now, if there were special [p. 7] words adapted to each individual thing, they would require less care, since they would automatically be suggested by the matter in hand. But since some words are more literal, more ornate, more significant or euphonious than others, our orator must not merely be acquainted with all of them, but must have them at his fingers' ends and before his very eyes, so that when they present themselves for his critical selection, he will find it easy to make the appropriate choice. [7] I know that some speakers make a practice of learning lists of synonyms by heart, in order that one word out of the several available may at once present itself to them, and that if, after using one word, they find that it is wanted again after a brief interval, they may be able to select another word with the same meaning and so avoid the necessity of repetition. But this practice is childish and involves thankless labour, while it is really of very little use, as it merely results in the assembly of a disorderly crowd of words, for the speaker to snatch the first that comes to hand.

[8] On the contrary, discrimination is necessary in the acquisition of our stock of words; for we are aiming at true oratory, not at the fluency of a cheapjack. And we shall attain our aim by reading and listening to the best writers and orators, since we shall thus learn not merely the words by which things are to be called, but when each particular word is most appropriate. [9] For there is a place in oratory for almost every word, with the exception only of a very few, which are not sufficiently seemly. Such words are indeed often praised when they occur in writers of iambics1 or of the old comedy, [p. 9] but we need do no more than consider our own special task. All words, with these exceptions, may be admirably employed in some place or other. For sometimes we shall even require low and common words, while those which would seem coarse if introduced in the more elegant portions of our speech may, under certain circumstances, be appropriate enough. [10] Now to acquire a knowledge of these words and to be acquainted not merely with their meaning, but with their forms and rhythmical values, so that they may seem appropriate wherever employed, we shall need to read and listen diligently, since all language is received first through the ear. It was owing to this fact that the children who, by order of a king, were brought up by a dumb nurse in a desert place, although they are said to have uttered certain words, lacked the power of speech.2 [11] There are, however, some words of such a nature that they express the same sense by different sounds, so that it makes no difference to the meaning which we use, as, for instance, gladius and ensis, which may be used indifferently when we have to speak of a sword. Others, again, although properly applied to specific objects, are used by means of a trope to express the same sense, as, for example, ferrum (steel) and muro (point), which are both used in the sense of sword. [12] Thus, by the figure known as abuse,3 we call all those who commit a murder with any weapon whatsoever sicarii (poniarders). In other cases we express our meaning periphrastically, as, for instance, when Virgil4 describes cheese as

“Abundance of pressed milk.”
[p. 11] On the other hand, in a number of instances we employ figures5 and substitute one expression for another. Instead of “I know,” we say “I am not ignorant,” or “the fact does not escape me,” or “I have not forgotten,” or “who does not know?” or “it can be doubted by none.” [13] But we may also borrow from a word of cognate meaning. For “I understand,” or “I feel” or “I see” are often equivalent to “I know.” Reading will provide us with a rich store of expressions such as these, and will enable us not merely to use them when they occur to us, but also in the appropriate manner. For they are not always interchangeable: [14] for example, though I may be perfectly correct in saying, “I see” for “I understand,” it does not follow that I can say “I understand” for “my eyes have seen,” and though mucro may be employed to describe a sword, a sword does not necessarily mean the same as mucro (point). [15] But, although a store of words may be acquired by these means, we must not read or listen to orators merely for the sake of acquiring words. For in everything which we teach examples are more effective even than the rules which are taught in the schools, so long as the student has reached a stage when he can appreciate such examples without the assistance of a teacher, and can rely on his own powers to imitate them. And the reason is this, that the professor of rhetoric lays down rules, while the orator gives a practical demonstration.

[16] But the advantages conferred by reading and listening are not identical. The speaker stimulates us by the animation of his delivery, and kindles the imagination, not by presenting us with an elaborate [p. 13] picture, but by bringing us into actual touch with the things themselves. Then all is life and movement, and we receive the new-born offspring of his imagination with enthusiastic approval. We are moved not merely by the actual issue of the trial, but by all that the orator himself has at stake. [17] Moreover his voice, the grace of his gestures, the adaptation of his delivery (which is of supreme importance in oratory), and, in a word, all his excellences in combination, have their educative effect. In reading, on the other hand, the critical faculty is a surer guide, inasmuch as the listener's judgment is often swept away by his preference for a particular speaker, or by the applause of an enthusiastic audience. [18] For we are ashamed to disagree with them, and an unconscious modesty prevents us from ranking our own opinion above theirs, though all the time the taste of the majority is vicious, and the claque may praise even what does not really deserve approval. [19] On the other hand, it will sometimes also happen that an audience whose taste is bad will fail to award the praise which is due to the most admirable utterances. Reading, however, is free, and does not hurry past us with the speed of oral delivery; we can reread a passage again and again if we are in doubt about it or wish to fix it in the memory. We must return to what we have read and reconsider it with care, while, just as we do not swallow our food till we have chewed it and reduced it almost to a state of liquefaction to assist the process of digestion, so what we read must not be committed to the memory for subsequent imitation while it is still in a crude state, but must be softened and, if I may use the phrase, reduced to a pulp by frequent re-perusal.

[p. 15] [20] For a long time also we should read none save the best authors and such as are least likely to betray our trust in then, while our reading must be almost as thorough as if we were actually transcribing what we read. Nor must we study it merely in parts, but must read through the whole work from cover to cover and then read it afresh, a precept which applies more especially to speeches, whose merits are often deliberately disguised. [21] For the orator frequently prepares his audience for what is to come, dissembles and sets a trap for them and makes remarks at the opening of his speech which will not have their full force till the conclusion. Consequently what he says will often seem comparatively ineffective where it actually occurs, since we do not realise his motive and it will be necessary to re-read the speech after we have acquainted ourselves with all that it contains. [22] Above all, it is most desirable that we should familiarise ourselves with the facts of the case with which the speech deals, and it will be well also, wherever possible, to read the speeches delivered on both sides, such as those of Aeschines and Demosthenes in the case of Ctesiphon, of Servius Sulpicius and Messala for and against Aufidia,6 of Pollio7 and Cassius8 in the case of Asprenas,9 and many others. [23] And even if such speeches seem unequal in point of merit, we shall still do well to study them carefully with a view to understanding the problems raised by the cases with which they deal: for example, we should compare the speeches delivered by Tubero against Ligarius and by Hortensius in defence of Verres with those of Cicero for the opposite side, while it will also be useful to know how different orators pleaded the same case. For example, [p. 17] Calidius10 spoke on the subject of Cicero's house, Brutus wrote a declamation in defence of Milo, which Cornelius Celsus wrongly believes to have been actually delivered in court,11 and Pollio and Messalla defended the same clients,12 while in my boyhood remarkable speeches delivered by Domitius Afer,13 Crispus Passienus14 and Decimis Laelius15 in defence of Volusenus were in circulation.

[24] The reader must not, however, jump to the conclusion that all that was uttered by the best authors is necessarily perfect. At times they lapse and stagger beneath the weight of their task, indulge their bent or relax their efforts. Sometimes, again, they give the impression of weariness: for example, Cicero16 thinks that Demosthenes sometimes nods, and Horace17 says the same of Homer himself. [25] For despite their greatness they are still but mortal men, and it will sometimes happen that their reader assumes that anything which he finds in them may be taken as a canon of style, with the result that he imitates their defects (and it is always easier to do this than to imitate their excellences) and thinks himself a perfect replica if he succeeds in copying the blemishes of great men. [26] But modesty and circumspection are required in pronouncing judgment on such great men, since there is always the risk of falling into the common fault of condemning what one does not understand. And, if it is necessary to err on one side or the other, I should prefer that the reader should approve of everything than that he should disapprove of much.

[27] Theophrastus18 says that the reading of poets is of great service to the orator, and has rightly been followed in this view by many. For the poets will [p. 19] give us inspiration as regards the matter, sublimity of language, the power to excite every kind of emotion, and the appropriate treatment of character, while minds that have become jaded owing to the daily wear and tear of the courts will find refreshment in such agreeable study. Consequently Cicero19 recommends the relaxation provided by the reading of poetry. [28] We should, however, remember that the orator must not follow the poets in everything, more especially in their freedom of language and their license in the use of figures. Poetry has been compared to the oratory of display, and further aims solely at giving pleasure, which it seeks to secure by inventing what is not merely untrue, but sometimes even incredible. [29] Further, we must bear in mind that it can be defended on the ground that it is tied by certain metrical necessities and consequently cannot always use straightforward and literal language, but is driven from the direct road to take refuge in certain by-ways of expression; and compelled not merely to change certain words, but to lengthen, contract, transpose or divide them, whereas the orator stands armed in the forefront of the battle, fights for a high stake and devotes all his effort to winning the victory. [30] And yet I would not have his weapons defaced by mould and rust, but would have them shine with a splendour that shall strike terror to the heart of the foe, like the flashing steel that dazzles heart and eye at once, not like the gleam of gold or silver, which has no warlike efficacy and is even a positive peril to its wearer.

[31] History, also, may provide the orator with a nutriment which we may compare to some rich and pleasant juice. But when we read it, we must [p. 21] remember that many of the excellences of the historian require to be shunned by the orator. For history has a certain affinity to poetry and may be regarded as a kind of prose poem, while it is written for the purpose of narrative, not of proof, and designed from beginning to end not for immediate effect or the instant necessities of forensic strife, but to record events for the benefit of posterity and to win glory for its author. Consequently, to avoid monotony of narrative, it employs unusual words and indulges in a freer use of figures. [32] Therefore, as I have already said,20 the famous brevity of Sallust, than which nothing can be more pleasing to the leisured ear of the scholar, is a style to be avoided by the orator in view of the fact that his words are addressed to a judge who has his mind occupied by a number of thoughts and is also frequently uneducated, while, on the other hand, the milky fullness of Livy is hardly of a kind to instruct a listener who looks not for beauty of exposition, but for truth and credibility. [33] We must also remember that Cicero21 thinks that not even 'Thucydidcs or Xenophon will be of much service to an orator, although he regards the style of the former as a veritable call to arms and considers that the latter was the mouthpiece of the Muses. It is, however, occasionally permissible to borrow the graces of history to embellish our digressions, provided always that we remember that in those portions of our speech which deal with the actual question at issue we require not the swelling thews of the athlete, but the wiry sinews of the soldier, and that the cloak of many colours which Demetrius of Phalerum22 was said to wear is but little suited to the dust and heat of the forum. [34] There is, it is true, [p. 23] another advantage which we may derive from the historians, which, however, despite its great importance, has no bearing on our present topic; I refer to the advantage derived from the knowledge of historical facts and precedents, with which it is most desirable that our orator should be acquainted; for such knowledge will save him from having to acquire all his evidence from his client and will enable him to draw much that is germane to his case from the careful study of antiquity. And such arguments will be all the more effective, since they alone will be above suspicion of prejudice or partiality.

[35] The fact that there is so much for which we must have recourse to the study of the philosophers is the fault of orators who have abandoned23 to them the fullest portion of their own task. The Stoics more especially discourse and argue with great keenness on what is just, honourable, expedient and the reverse, as well as on the problems of theology, while the Socratics give the future orator a first-rate preparation for forensic debates and the examination of witnesses. [36] But we must use the same critical caution in studying the philosophers that we require in reading history or poetry; that is to say, we must bear in mind that, even when we are dealing with the same subjects, there is a wide difference between forensic disputes and philosophical discussions, between the law-courts and the lecture-room, between the precepts of theory and the perils of the bar.

[37] Most of my readers will, I think, demand that, since I attach so much importance to reading, I should include in this work some instructions as to what authors should be read and what their special [p. 25] excellences may be. To do this in detail would be an endless task. [38] Remember that Cicero in his Brutus, after writing pages and pages on the subject of Roman orators alone, says nothing of his own contemporaries with the exception of Caesar and Marcellus. What limit, then, would there be to my labours if I were to attempt to deal with them and with their successors and all the orators of Greece as well? [39] No, it was a safer course that Livy adopted in his letter to his son, where he writes that he should read Cicero and Demosthenes and then such orators as most resembled them. Still, [40] I must not conceal my own personal convictions on this subject. I believe that there are few, indeed scarcely a single one of those authors who have stood the test of time who will not be of some use or other to judicious students, since even Cicero himself admits that he owes a great debt even to the earliest writers, who for all their talent were totally devoid of art. [41] And my opinion about the moderns is much the same. For how few of them are so utterly crazy as not to have the least shadow of hope that some portion or other of their work may have claims upon the memory of posterity? If there is such an one, he will be detected before we have perused many lines of his writings, and we shall escape from him before the experiment of reading him has cost us any serious loss of time. [42] On the other hand, not everything that has some bearing on some department of knowledge will necessarily be of service for the formation of style, with which we are for the moment concerned.

Before, however, I begin to speak of individual authors, I must make a few general remarks about the variety of judgments which have been passed [p. 27] upon them. [43] For there are some who think that only the ancients should be read and hold that they are the sole possessors of natural eloquence and manly vigour; while others revel in the voluptuous and affected style of to-day, in which everything is designed to charm the ears of the uneducated majority. [44] And even if we turn to those who desire to follow the correct methods of style, we shall find that some think that the only healthy and genuinely Attic style is to be found in language which is restrained and simple and as little removed as possible from the speech of every day, while others are attracted by a style which is more elevated and full of energy and animation. There are, too, not a few who are devoted to a gentle, elegant and harmonious style. Of these different ideals I shall speak in greater detail, when I come to discuss the question of the particular styles best suited to oratory.24 For the moment I shall restrict myself to touching briefly on what the student who desires to consolidate his powers of speaking should seek in his reading and to what kind of reading he should devote his attention. My design is merely to select a few of the most eminent authors for consideration. [45] It will be easy for the student to decide for himself what authors most nearly resemble these: consequently, no one will have any right to complain if I pass over some of his favourites. For I will readily admit that there are more authors worth reading than those whom I propose to mention. But I will now proceed to deal with the various classes of reading which I consider most suitable for those who are ambitious of becoming orators.

[46] I shall, I think, be right in following the principle [p. 29] laid down by Aratus25 in the line, “With Jove let us begin,” and in beginning with Homer. He is like his own conception of Ocean,26 which he describes as the source of every stream and river; for he has given us a model and an inspiration for every department of eloquence. It will be generally admitted that no one has ever surpassed him in the sublimity with which he invests great themes or the propriety with which he handles small. He is at once luxuriant and concise, sprightly and serious, remarkable at once for his fullness and his brevity, and supreme not merely for poetic, but for oratorical power as well. [47] For, to say nothing of his eloquence, which he shows in praise, exhortation and consolation, do not the ninth book containing the embassy to Achilles, the first describing the quarrel between the chiefs, or the speeches delivered by the counsellors in the second, display all the rules of art to be followed in forensic or deliberative oratory? [48] As regards the emotions, there can be no one so illeducated as to deny that the poet was the master of all, tender and vehement alike. Again, in the few lines with which he introduces both of his epics, has he not, I will not say observed, but actually established the law which should govern the composition of the exordium? For, by his invocation of the goddesses believed to preside over poetry he wins the goodwill of his audience, by his statement of the greatness of his themes he excites their attention and renders them receptive by the briefness of his summary. [49] Who can narrate more briefly than the hero27 who brings the news of Patroclus' death, or more vividly than he28 who describes the battle between the Curetes and the Aetolians? Then consider his [p. 31] similes, his amplifications, his illustrations, digressions, indications of fact, inferences, and all the other methods of proof and refutation which he employs. They are so numerous that the majority of writers on the principles of rhetoric have gone to his works for examples of all these things. [50] And as for perorations, what can ever be equal to the prayers which Priam addresses to Achilles29 when he comes to beg for the body of his son? Again, does he not transcend the limits of human genius in his choice of words, his reflexions, figures, and the arrangement of his whole work, with the result that it requires a powerful mind, I will not say to imitate, for that is impossible, but even to appreciate his excellences? [51] But he has in truth outdistanced all that have come after him in every department of eloquence, above all, he has outstripped all other writers of epic, the contrast in their case being especially striking owing to the similarity of the material with which they deal. [52] Hesiod rarely rises to any height, while a great part of his works is filled almost entirely with names30: none the less, his maxims of moral wisdom provide a useful model, the smooth flow of his words and structure merit our approval, and he is assigned the first place among writers of the intermediate style. [53] On the other hand, Antimachus31 deserves praise for the vigour, dignity and elevation of his language. But although practically all teachers of literature rank him second among epic poets, he is deficient in emotional power, charm, and arrangement of matter, and totally devoid of real art. No better example can be found to show what a vast difference there is to being near another writer and being second to him. [54] Panyasis32 is [p. 33] regarded as combining the qualities of the last two poets, being their inferior in point of style, but surpassing Hesiod in the choice of his subject and Antimachus in its arrangement. Apollonius33 is not admitted to the lists drawn up by the professors of literature, because the critics, Aristarchus and Aristophanes,34 included no contemporary poets. None the less, his work is by no means to be despised, being distinguished by the consistency with which he maintains his level as a representative of the intermediate type. [55] The subject chosen by Aratus is lifeless and monotonous, affording no scope for pathos, description of character, or eloquent speeches. However, he is adequate for the task to which he felt himself equal. Theocritus is admirable in his own way, but the rustic and pastoral muse shrinks not merely from the forum, but from town-life of every kind. [56] I think I hear my readers on all sides suggesting the names of hosts of other poets. What? Did not Pisandros35 tell the story of Hercules in admirable style? Were there not good reasons for Virgil and Macer taking Nicander36 as a model? Are we to ignore Euphorion?37 Unless Virgil had admired him, he would never have mentioned

“verses written in Chalcidic strain”
in the Eclogues. Again, had Horace no justification for coupling the name of Tyrtacus38 with that of Homer? [57] To which I reply, that there is no one so ignorant of poetic literature that he could not, if he chose, copy a catalogue of such poets from some [p. 35] library for insertion in his own treatises. I can therefore assure my readers that I am well aware of the existence of the poets whom I pass over in silence, and am far from condemning them, since I have already said that some profit may be derived from every author.39 [58] But we must wait till our powers have been developed and established to the full before we turn to these poets, just as at banquets we take our fill of the best fare and then turn to other food which, in spite of its comparative inferiority, is still attractive owing to its variety. Not until our taste is formed shall we have leisure to study the elegiac poets as well. Of these, Callimachus is regarded as the best, the second place being, according to the verdict of most critics, occupied by Philetas.40 [59] But until we have acquired that assured facility of which I spoke,41 we must familiarise ourselves with the best writers only and must form our minds and develop an appropriate tone by reading that is deep rather than wide. Consequently, of the three writers of iambics42 approved by the judgment of Aristarchus, Archilochus will be far the most useful for the formation of the facility in question. [60] For he has a most forcible style, is full of vigorous, terse and pungent reflexions, and overflowing with life and energy: indeed, some critics think that it is due solely to the nature of his subjects, and not to his genius, that any poets are to be ranked above him. [61] Of the nine lyric poets43 Pindar is by far the greatest, in virtue of his inspired magnificence, the beauty of his thoughts and figures, the rich exuberance of his language and matter, and his rolling flood of eloquence, characteristics which, as Horace44 rightly held, make him [p. 37] inimitable. [62] The greatness of the genius of Stesichorus45 is shown by his choice of subject: for he sings of the greatest wars and the most glorious of chieftains, and the music of his lyre is equal to the weighty themes of epic poetry. For both in speech and action he invests his characters with the dignity which is their due, and if he had only been capable of exercising a little more restraint, he might, perhaps, have proved a serious rival to Homer. But he is redundant and diffuse, a fault which, while deserving of censure, is nevertheless a defect springing from the very fullness of his genius. [63] Alcaeus has deserved the compliment of being said to make music with quill of gold46

1 See §§ 59 and 96.

2 See Herodot. ii. 2. The children were alleged to have cried “bekos,” Phrygian for bread.

3 or catachresis. See viii. ii. 5 and vi. 34.

4 Ecl. i. 81.

5 See i. viii. 16; ix. i. 11.

6 See iv. ii. 106 and VI i. 20.

7 See § 113.

8 See § 116.

9 C. Nonius Asprenas, a friend of Augustus, accused by Cassius and defended by Pollio on a charge of poisoning.

10 Probably before some other tribunal. Cicero's de Domo Sua was delivered before the pontifices.

11 cp. III. vi. 93. Cornelius Celsus was an encyclopedic writer of the early empire, whose treatise on medicine has survived.

12 Liburnia. See IX. ii. 34.

13 See § 118.

14 Stepfather of Nero. See VI. i. 50.

15 Probably the Laelius Balbus of Tac. Ann,. VI. 47, 48.

16 In a lost letter: cp. Plut. Cic. 24.

17 A. P. 359.

18 In one of his lost rhetorical treatises.

19 Pro Arch. 12.

20 IV. ii. 45.

21 Or. 30 sq.

22 cp. § 80.

23 cp. I Pref. 11.

24 XI. x. 63 sqq.

25 Arat. Phaen. 1.

26 Il. xxi. 196.

27 Antilochus, Il. xviii. 18.

28 Phoenix, Il. ix. 529.

29 Il. xxiv. 486 sqq.

30 Especially the Theogony.

31 Antimachus of Colophon (flor. circ. 405 B.C.), author of a Thebaid.

32 Uncle of Herodotus, author of a Heracleia.

33 Apollonius of Rhodes, author of the Argonautica. The list to which reference is made consisted of the four poets just mentioned, with the addition of Pisandros, for whom see § 56.

34 Aristophanes of Byzantium.

35 A Rhodian poet of the seventh century B.C.

36 Nicander of Colophon (second century B.C.), author of didactic poems, Theriaca and Alexipharmaca and Metamorphoses (ἑτεροιούμενα). Virgil imitated him in the Georgics, Aenilius Macer, the friend of Ovid, in his Theriaca.

37 Euphorion of Chalcis (220 B.C. ) wrote elaborate short epics. See Ecl. x. 50. The words are, however, put into the mouth of Gallus with reference to his own imitations of Euphorion.

38 See Hor. A. P. 401. Tyrtaeus, writer of war songs (seventh century B.C.).

39 § 45.

40 Philetas of Cos (290 B.C.).

41 x. i. 1.

42 i.e. invective. The other two writers are Simonides of Amorgos and Hipponax of Ephesus. Archilochus (fl. 686 B.C.).

43 The five not mentioned here are Aleman, Sappho, Ibycus, Anacreon and Bacchylides.

44 Od. IV. ii. 1.

45 Stesichorus of Himera in Sicily (flor. circ. 600 B.C.), wrote in lyric verse on many legends, more especially on themes connected with the Trojan war.

46 Hor Od.

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