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12. Such in the main are the views about proof which I have either heard from others or learned by experience. I would not venture to assert that this is all there is to be said; indeed I would exhort students to make further researches on the subject, for I admit the possibilities of making further discoveries. Still anything that may be discovered will not differ greatly from what I have said here. [p. 299] I will now proceed to make a few remarks as to how proofs should be employed.

[2] It has generally been laid down that an argument to be effective must be based on certainty; for it is obviously impossible to prove what is doubtful by what is no less doubtful. Still some things which are adduced as proof require proof themselves. “You killed your husband, for you were an adulteress.”1 Adultery must first be proved: once that is certain it can be used as an argument to prove what is uncertain. “Your javelin was found in the body of the murdered man.” He denies that it was his. If this point is to serve as a proof, it must itself be proved. It is, [3] however, necessary in this connection to point out that there are no stronger proofs than those in which uncertainty has been converted into certainty. “You committed the murder, for your clothes were stained with blood.” 'This argument is not so strong if the accused admits that his clothes were bloodstained as if the fact is proved against his denial. For if he admits it, there are still a number of ways in which the blood could have got on to his clothes: if on the other hand he denies it, lie makes his whole case turn on this point, and if his contention is disproved, he will he unable to make a stand on any subsequent ground. For it will be thought that he would never have told a lie in denying the allegation, unless he had felt it a hopeless task to justify himself if he admitted it.

[4] In insisting on our strongest arguments we must take them singly, whereas our weaker arguments should be massed together: for it is undesirable that those arguments which are strong in themselves should have their force obscured by the [p. 301] surrounding matter, since it is important to show their true nature: on the other hand arguments which are naturally weak will receive mutual support if grouped together. [5] Consequently arguments which have no individual force on the ground of strength will acquire force in virtue of their number, since all tend to prove the same thing. For instance, if one man is accused of having murdered another for the sake of his property, it may be argued as follows: “You had expectations of succeeding to the inheritance, which was moreover very large: you were a poor man, and at the time in question were specially hard pressed by your creditors: you had also offended him whose heir you were, and knew that he intended to alter his will.” These arguments are trivial and commonplace in detail, but their cumulative force is damaging. They may not have the overwhelming force of a thunderbolt, but they will have all the destructive force of hail.

[6] There are certain arguments, which must not merely be stated, but supported as well. If we say, “The motive for the crime was greed,” we must show the force of greed as a motive: if we say that anger was the motive, we must show the sway that this passion has over the minds of men. Thus our arguments will not only be strengthened, but will be more ornamental as well, since we shall have produced something more than a mere fleshless skeleton. It also makes an enormous difference, [7] supposing that we allege hatred as the motive for a crime, whether such hatred was due to envy, injury or unlawful influence, whether it was recent or of long standing, whether it was directed against an [p. 303] inferior, an equal or a superior, against a stranger or a relative. There are special methods for the treatment of all these arguments, and tile treatment to be selected will depend on the interests of the case which we are defending. [8] On tile other hand we must not always burden the judge with all the arguments we have discovered, since by so doing we shall at once bore him and render him less inclined to believe us. For he will hardly suppose those proofs to be valid which we ourselves who produce them regard as insufficient. On the other hand, where the facts are fairly obvious, it would be as foolish to argue about them as to bring some artificial light into broad sunlight.

[9] To these proof's some authorities would add those which they call pathetic or emotional. Aristotle2 indeed holds that the strongest argument in support of a speaker is that he is a good man. This no doubt is the best support, but to seem good is also of value, though the semblance is but a bad second to the reality. [10] Of this nature is the noble defence of Scaurus. “Quintus Varius of Sucro asserts that Aemilius Scaurus has betrayed the interests of the Roman people: Aemilius Scaurus denies it.” A similar defence is said to have been employed by Iphicrates3 : he asked Aristophon who was accusing him on a similar charge of treason whether lie would consent to betray his country for a bribe: when Aristophon replied in the negative, he continued, “Have I then done what you would have refused to do?” [11] We must however take the character of the judge into consideration and seek out such arguments as will appeal to him. I have already spoken of this in the rules which I laid [p. 305] down for the exordium and for deliberative oratory.4 [12] Another form of proof is provided by asseveration as in “I did this,” “You told me this,” or “O outrageous crime!” and the like. Every pleading should contain some such asseverations; if it does not, the loss will be considerable. Still asseverations must not be regarded as supports of the first importance, since they can be produced by either party in the same case with the same emphasis. [13] A more forcible kind of proof is that drawn from character and supported by some plausible reason, as for instance, “It is not likely that a wounded man or one who has lost his son would accuse anyone who is not guilty, since if he accused an innocent man, he would free the real offender from all risk of punishment.” It is from such arguments that fathers seek support when pleading against their sons or one relative against another.

[14] The further question has been raised as to whether the strongest arguments should be placed first, to take possession of the judge's mind, or last, to leave an impression on it; or whether they should be divided between the commencement and close of the proof, adopting the Homeric disposition of placing the weakest in the centre of the column,5 so that they may derive strength from their neighbours. But in the disposition of our arguments we must be guided by the interests of the individual case: there is only one exception to this general rule in my opinion, namely, that we should avoid descending from the strongest proofs to the weakest.

[15] I have been content to give a brief outline of my views concerning these points, and have put them forward in such a way as to show as clearly as was in [p. 307] my power the various topics and kinds of arguments. Others have dealt with the subject at greater length, preferring to deal with the whole subject of commonplaces and to show how each topic may be treated. [16] This seems to me unnecessary, since it is as a rule obvious what should be said against the injurious conduct or avarice of our opponents, or against a hostile witness or powerful friends; to say everything on all these subjects is an endless task, as endless in fact as if I were to attempt to lay down rules for dealing with every dispute that can ever occur and all the questions, arguments and opinions thereby involved. [17] I do not venture to suppose that I have pointed out all the circumstances that may give rise to arguments, but I think that I have done so in the majority of cases.

This was a task which required all the more careful handling because the declamations, which we used to employ as foils wherewith to practise for the duels of the forum, have long since departed from the true form of pleading and, owing to the fact that they are composed solely with the design of giving pleasure, have become flaccid and nerveless: indeed, declaimers are guilty of exactly the same offence as slave-dealers who castrate boys in order to increase tile attractions of their beauty. [18] For just as the slave-dealer regards strength and muscle, and above all, the beard and other natural characteristics of manhood as blemishes, and softens down all that would be sturdy if allowed to grow, on the ground that it is harsh and hard, even so we conceal the manly form of eloquence and power of speaking closely and forcibly by giving it a delicate complexion of style and, so long as what we say is smooth and [p. 309] polished, are absolutely indifferent as to whether our words have any power or no. [19] But I take Nature for my guide and regard any man whatsoever as fairer to view than a eunuch, nor can I believe that Providence is ever so indifferent to what itself has created as to allow weakness to be an excellence, nor again can I think that the knife can render beautiful that which, if produced in the natural course of birth, would be regarded as a monster. A false resemblance to the female sex may in itself delight lust, if it will, but depravity of morals will never acquire such ascendancy as to succeed in giving real value to that to which it has succeeded in giving a high price. [20] Consequently, although this debauched eloquence (for I intend to speak with the utmost frankness) may please modern audiences by its effeminate and voluptuous charms, I absolutely refuse to regard it as eloquence at all: for it retains not the slightest trace of purity and virility in itself, not to say of these qualities in the speaker. [21] When the masters of sculpture and painting desired to carve or paint forms of ideal beauty, they never fell into the error of taking some Bagoas or Megabyzus6 as models, but rightly selected the well-known Doryphorus,7 equally adapted either for the fields of war or for the wrestling school, and other warlike and athletic youths as types of physical beauty. Shall we then, who are endeavouring to mould the ideal orator, equip eloquence not with weapons but with timbrels? [22] Consequently, let the youth whom we are training devote himself, as far as in him lies, to the imitation of truth and, in view of the fact that the battles of the forum that await him are not few, let him strive for victory in the schools and learn [p. 311] how to strike the vitals of his foe and protect his own; and let his instructor insist on his doing this above all else and reserve his special approval for the mastery of this art. For though young men may be lured to evil practices by praise, they still prefer to be praised for what is right. [23] At the present time the misfortune is that teachers more often than not pass over what is necessary in silence, and utility is not accounted one of the good qualities of eloquence. But I have dealt with these points in another work,8 and shall often have to recur to them in this. I will now return to my prescribed course.

1 cp. v. xi. 39.

2 Rhet. I. ii. 4.

3 At. Rhet. II. xxiii. 7.

4 IV. i. 17 sq., III. viii. 36 sq.

5 I. iv. 299.

6 Eunuchs.

7 The famous statue of Polycletus, regarded as the standard of manly beauty and proportion. Many copies have survived. Doryphorus= the Spearbearer.

8 Perhaps the lost de causis corruptae eloquentiae.

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