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The word orator (also patronus), of one who pleads the case of a client (cliens), is not at all identical in meaning with iuris consultus (q. v.), or even advocatus (q. v.). He need not be skilled in legal lore, which the jurisconsults possessed, but depended largely for his success upon voice, gesture, and the eloquence of his language. The earliest orators at Rome got their knowledge practically by observing the pleadings of the older men and by advice, experience, and trial of themselves. Under the Empire the principal speakers were trained in the schools of the rhetoricians (see Rhetorica), and thus gradually lost the power and form of the earlier style of speaking (Petron. i). In the republican period oratory was the noblest of the professions, awarding the key to political power and influence; but when freedom was lost, the art declined, and became a mere plaything for the young. See Cicero, Brut. 91 foll.; the Dialogus of Tacitus; and Westermann, Geschichte d. röm. Beredsamkeit (Leipzig, 1835); also Berger and Cucheval, Histoire de l'Eloquence Latine jusqu' à Cicéron, 2 vols. (Paris, 1872).

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    • Petronius, Satyricon, 1
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