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[10] Deliberative speaking is more difficult than forensic, and naturally so, because it has to do with the future; whereas forensic speaking has to do with the past, which is already known, even by diviners, as Epimenides the Cretan said; for he used to divine, not the future, but only things that were past but obscure.1 Further, the law is the subject in forensic speaking; and when one has a starting-point, it is easier to find a demonstrative proof. Deliberative speaking does not allow many opportunities for lingering—for instance, attacks on the adversary, remarks about oneself, or attempts to arouse emotion. In this branch of Rhetoric there is less room for these than in any other, unless the speaker wanders from the subject. Therefore, when at a loss for topics, one must do as the orators at Athens, amongst them Isocrates, for even when deliberating, he brings accusations against the Lacedaemonians, for instance, in the Panegyricus,2 and against Chares in the Symmachikos (On the Peace).3

1 The remark of Epimenides is by many editors interpreted as a sarcasm upon the fraternity of soothsayers, who pretended to be able to foretell the future. But how is this to be got out of the Greek? The point is perhaps something like: “it is easy enough to talk about the past, for even soothsayers know it.” What Aristotle says here is that Epimenides practised a different kind of divination, relating to the obscure phenomena of the past. The following is an instance. After the followers of Cylon, who tried to make himself tyrant of Athens (c. 632) had been put to death by the Alcmaeonid archon Megacles, in violation of the terms of surrender, a curse rested upon the city and it was devastated by a pestilence. On the advice of the oracle, Epimenides was summoned from Crete, and by certain rites and sacrifices purified the city and put a stop to the pestilence.

2 Isoc. 4.110-114.

3 Isoc. 8.27.

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