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After all, if I must put on one side the highest and most perfect type of eloquence and select a style, I should certainly prefer the vehemence of Caius Gracchus or the sobriety of Lucius Crassus to the curls of Maecenas or the jingles of Gallio: so much better is it for an orator to wear a rough dress than to glitter in many-coloured and meretricious attire. Indeed, neither for an orator or even a man is that style becoming which is adopted by many of the speakers of our age, and which, with its idle redundancy of words, its meaningless periods and licence of expression, imitates the art of the actor. Shocking as it ought to be to our ears it is a fact that fame, glory, and genius are sacrificed by many to the boast that their compositions are given with the tones of the singer, the gestures of the dancer. Hence the exclamation, which, though often heard, is a shame and an absurdity, that our orators speak prettily and our actors dance eloquently. For myself I would not deny that Cassius Severus, the only speaker whom Aper ventured to name, may, if compared with his successors, be called an orator, although in many of his works he shows more violence than vigour. The first to despise arrangement, to cast off propriety and delicacy of expression, confused by the very weapons he employs, and often stumbling in his eagerness to strike, he wrangles rather than fights. Still, as I have said, compared with his successors, he is far superior to all in the variety of his learning, the charm of his wit, and the solidity of his very strength. Not one of them has Aper had the courage to mention, and, so to say, to bring into the field. When he had censured Asinius, Caelius, and Calvus, I expected that he would show us a host of others, and name more, or at least as many who might be pitted man by man against Cicero, Cæsar, and the rest. As it is, he has contented himself with singling out for disparagement some ancient orators, and has not dared to praise any of their successors, except generally and in terms common to all, fearing, I suppose, that he would offend many, if he selected a few. For there is scarce one of our rhetoricians who does not rejoice in his conviction that he is to be ranked before Cicero, but unquestionably second to Gabinianus.

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  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), CALAMISTRUM
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), PANTOMI´MUS
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