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I have made these preliminary remarks to show that any credit reflected on the age by the fame and renown of these orators is common property, and is in fact more closely connected with us than with Servius Galba or Caius Carbo, and others whom we may rightly call "ancients." These indeed are rough, unpolished, awkward, and ungainly, and I wish that your favourite Calvus or Caelius or even Cicero had in no respect imitated them. I really mean now to deal with the subject more boldly and confidently, but I must first observe that the types and varieties of eloquence change with the age. Thus Caius Gracchus compared with the elder Cato is full and copious; Crassus compared with Gracchus is polished and ornate; Cicero compared with either is lucid, graceful, and lofty; Corvinus again is softer and sweeter and more finished in his phrases than Cicero. I do not ask
who is the best speaker. Meantime I am content to have proved that eloquence has more than one face, and even in those whom you call ancients several varieties are to be discovered. Nor does it at once follow that difference implies inferiority. It is the fault of envious human nature that the old is always the object of praise, the present of contempt. Can we doubt that there were found critics who admired Appius Caecus more than Cato? We know that even Cicero was not without his disparagers, who thought him inflated, turgid, not concise enough, but unduly diffuse and luxuriant, in short anything but Attic. You have read of course the letters of Calvus and Brutus to Cicero, and from these it is easy to perceive that in Cicero's opinion Calvus was bloodless and attenuated, Brutus slovenly and lax. Cicero again was slightingly spoken of by Calvus as loose and nerveless, and by Brutus, to use his own words, as "languid and effeminate." If you ask me, I think they all said what was true. But I shall come to them separately after a while; now I have to deal with them collectively.

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