To proceed, an
orator will assuredly pay special attention to his
voice, and what is so specially the concern of music
as this? Here too I must not anticipate a later
section of this work, and will content myself by
citing the example of Gaius Gracchus, the leading
orator of his age, who during his speeches had a
musician standing behind him with a pitchpipe, or
as the Greeks call it, whose duty it was to
give him the tones in which his voice was to be
Such was the attention which he paid to
this point even in the midst of his most turbulent
speeches, when he was terrifying the patrician party
and even when he had begun to fear their power.
I should like for the benefit of the uninstructed,
those “creatures of the heavier Muse,” as the saying
is, to remove all doubts as to the value of music.
They will at any rate admit that the poets should be
read by our future orator. But can they be read
without some knowledge of music? Or if any of
my critics be so blind as to have some doubts about
other forms of poetry, can the lyric poets at any
rate be read without such knowledge? If there
were anything novel in my insistence on the study
of music, I should have to treat the matter at
But in view of the fact that the
study of music has, from those remote times when
Chiron taught Achilles down to our own day, continued to be studied by all except those who
have a hatred for any regular course of study, it
would be a mistake to seem to cast any doubt upon
its value by showing an excessive zeal in its defence.
It will, however, I think be sufficiently clear from
the examples I have already quoted, what I regard
as the value and the sphere of music in the training
of an orator. Still I think I ought to be more
emphatic than I have been in stating that the music
which I desire to see taught is not our modern music,
which has been emasculated by the lascivious melodies of our effeminate stage and has to no small
extent destroyed such manly vigour as we still
possessed. No, I refer to the music of old which was
employed to sing the praises of brave men and was
sung by the brave themselves. I will have none
of your psalteries and viols, that are unfit even for
the use of a modest girl. Give me the knowledge
of the principles of music, which have power to
excite or assuage the emotions of mankind.
are told that Pythagoras on one occasion, when some
young men were led astray by their passions to
commit an outrage on a respectable family, calmed
them by ordering the piper to change her strain to a
spondaic measure, while Chrysippus selects a special
tune to be used by nurses to entice their little charges
Further I may point out that among the
fictitious themes employed in declamation is one,
doing no little credit to its author's learning, in
which it is supposed that a piper is accused of manslaughter because he had played a tune in the Phrygian mode as an accompaniment to a sacrifice, with
the result that the person officiating went mad and
flung himself over a precipice. If an orator is
expected to declaim on such a theme as this, which
cannot possibly be handled without some knowledge
of music, how can my critics for all their prejudice
fail to agree that music is a necessary element in
the education of an orator?
As regards geometry,2
it is granted that portions of
this science are of value for the instruction of children:
for admittedly it exercises their minds, sharpens
their wits and generates quickness of perception.
But it is considered that the value of geometry
resides in the process of learning, and not as with
other sciences in the knowledge thus acquired.
Such is the general opinion.
But it is not without
good reason that some of the greatest men have
devoted special attention to this science. Geometry
has two divisions; one is concerned with numbers,
the other with figures. Now knowledge of the former
is a necessity not merely to the orator, but to any
one who has had even an elementary education.
Such knowledge is frequently required in actual
cases, in which a speaker is regarded as deficient in education, I will not say if he hesitates
in making a calculation, but even if he contradicts
the calculation which he states in words by making
an uncertain or inappropriate gesture with his fingers.3
Again linear geometry is frequently required in
cases, as in lawsuits about boundaries and measurements.
But geometry and oratory are related in a
yet more important way than this.
In the first
place logical development is one of the necessities
of geometry. And is it not equally a necessity for
oratory? Geometry arrives at its conclusions from
definite premises, and by arguing from what is certain
proves what was previously uncertain. Is not this
just what we do in speaking? Again are not the
problems of geometry almost entirely solved by the
syllogistic method, a fact which makes the majority
assert that geometry bears a closer resemblance to
logic than to rhetoric? But even the orator will
sometimes, though rarely, prove his point by formal
For, if necessary, he will use the syllogism,
and he will certainly make use of the enthymeme
which is a rhetorical form of syllogism.4
the most absolute form of proof is that which is
generally known as linear demonstration. And what
is the aim of oratory if not proof?
sometimes detects falsehoods closely resembling the
truth by the use of geometrical methods. An
example of this may be found in connexion with
numbers in the so-called pseudographs, a favourite
amusement in our boyhood.5
But there are more
important points to be considered. Who is there
who would not accept the following proposition?
“When the lines bounding two figures are equal in
length, the areas contained within those lines are
equal.” But this is false, for everything depends on
the shape of the figure formed by these lines,
historians have been taken to task by geometricians
for believing the time taken to circumnavigate an
island to be a sufficient indication of its size. For
the space enclosed is in proportion to the perfection
of the figure.
Consequently if the bounding line
to which we have referred form a circle, the most
perfect of all plane figures, it will contain a greater
space than if the same length of line took the form
of a square, while a square contains a greater space
than a triangle having the same total perimeter, and
an equilateral triangle than a scalene triangle.
there are other points which perhaps present greater
difficulty. I will take an example which is easy
even for those who have no knowledge of geometry.
There is scarcely anyone who does not know that
the Roman acre is 240 feet long and 120 feet
broad, and its total perimeter and the area enclosed
can easily be calculated.
But a square of 180 feet
gives the same perimeter, yet contains a much
larger area within its four sides. If the calculation
prove irksome to any of my readers, he can learn the
same truth by employing smaller numbers. Take a
ten foot square: its perimeter is forty feet and it
contains 100 square feet. But if the dimensions be
fifteen feet by five, while the perimeter is the same,
the area enclosed is less by a quarter.
On the other
hand if we draw a parallelogram measuring nineteen
feet by one, the number of square feet enclosed will
be no greater than the number of linear feet making
the actual length of the parallelogram, though the
perimeter will be exactly as that of the figure which
encloses an area of 100 square feet. Consequently the
area enclosed by four lines will decrease in proportion
as we depart from the form of a square.
follows that it is perfectly possible for the space
enclosed to be less, though the perimeter be greater.
This applies to plane figures only: for even one who
is no mathematician can see that, when we have to
consider hills or valleys, the extent of ground enclosed
is greater than the sky over it.
But geometry soars
still higher to the consideration of the system of
the universe: for by its calculations it demonstrates
the fixed and ordained courses of the stars, and
thereby we acquire the knowledge that all things
are ruled by order and destiny, a consideration
which may at times be of value to an orator.
Pericles dispelled the panic caused at Athens by the
eclipse of the sun by explaining the causes of the
phenomenon, or Sulpicius Gallus discoursed on the
eclipse of the moon to the army of Lucius Paulus to
prevent the soldiers being seized with terror at what
they regarded as a portent sent by heaven, did not
they discharge the function of an orator?
had known this when he commanded in Sicily, he
would not have shared the terror of his men nor lost
the finest army that Athens ever placed in the field.
Dion for instance when he came to Syracuse to overthrow the tyranny of Dionysius, was not frightened
away by the occurrence of a similar phenomenon.
However we are not concerned with the uses of
geometry in war and need not dwell upon the fact
that Archimedes singlehanded succeeded in appreciably prolonging the resistance of Syracuse when it
It will suffice for our purpose that
there are a number of problems which it is difficult
to solve in any other way, which are as a rule solved
by these linear demonstrations, such as the method
of division, section to infinity,6
and the ratio of increase in velocity. From this we may conclude that,
if as we shall show in the next book an orator has
to speak on every kind of subject, he can under
no circumstances dispense with a knowledge of
XI. The comic actor will also claim a certain
amount of our attention, but only in so far as our
future orator must be a master of the art of delivery.
For I do not of course wish the boy, whom we are
training to this end, to talk with the shrillness of a
woman or in the tremulous accents of old age.
for that matter must he ape the vices of the
drunkard, or copy the cringing manners of a slave,
or learn to express the emotions of love, avarice or
fear. Such accomplishments are not necessary to
an orator and corrupt the mind, especially while it
is still pliable and unformed. For repeated imitation passes into habit.
Nor yet again must we
adopt all the gestures and movements of the actor.
Within certain limits the orator must be a master of
both, but he must rigorously avoid staginess and all
extravagance of facial expression, gesture and gait.
For if an orator does command a certain art in such
matters, its highest expression will be in the concealment of its existence.
What then is the duty of the teacher whom
we have borrowed from the stage?
first place he must correct all faults of pronunciation, and see that the utterance is distinct,
and that each letter has its proper sound.
There is an unfortunate tendency in the case of
some letters to pronounce them either too thinly
or too fully, while some we find too harsh and fail to
pronounce sufficiently, substituting others whose
sound is similar but somewhat duller.
is substituted for rho,
a letter which was
always a stumbling-block to Demosthenes; our l
and r have of course the same value.7
when c and g are not given their full value, they
are softened into t and d.
Again our teacher must
not tolerate the affected pronunciation of s8
which we are painfully familiar, nor suffer words
to be uttered from the depths of the throat or
rolled out hollow-mouthed, or permit the natural
sound of the voice to be over-laid with a fuller
sound, a fault fatal to purity of speech; the
Greeks give this peculiarity the name καταπεπλασμένον
(plastered over), a term applied to the
tone produced by a pipe,
when the stops which
produce the treble notes are closed, and a bass note
is produced through the main aperture only.
will also see that final syllables are not clipped, that
the quality of speech is continuously maintained,
that when the voice is raised, the strain falls upon
the lungs and not the mouth, and that gesture and
voice are mutually appropriate.
He will also insist
that the speaker faces his audience, that the lips
are not distorted nor the jaws parted to a grin,
that the face is not thrown back, nor the eyes fixed
on the ground, nor the neck slanted to left or right.
For there are a variety of faults of facial expression.
I have seen many, who raised their brows whenever
the voice was called upon for an effort,
wore a perpetual frown, and yet others who could
not keep their eyebrows level, but raised one
towards the top of the head and depressed the
other till it almost closed the eye.
details, but as I shall shortly show, they are of
enormous importance, for nothing that is unbecoming
can have a pleasing effect.
Our actor will also be required to show how a
narrative should be delivered, and to indicate the
authoritative tone that should be given to advice,
the excitement which should mark the rise of anger,
and the change of tone that is characteristic of
pathos. The best method of so doing is to select
special passages from comedy appropriate for the
purpose, that is to say, resembling the speeches of
These are not only most useful in training the delivery, but are admirably adapted to
increase a speaker's eloquence.
These are the
methods to be employed while the pupil is too young
to take in more advanced instruction; but when
the time has come for him to read speeches, and as
soon as he begins to appreciate their merits, he
should have a careful and efficient teacher at his
side not merely to form his style of reading aloud,
but to make him learn select passages by heart and
declaim them standing in the manner which actual
pleading would require: thus he will simultaneously
train delivery, voice and memory.
I will not blame even those who give a certain
amount of time to the teacher of gymnastics. I am
not speaking of those, who spend part of their life
in rubbing themselves with oil and part in winebibbing, and kill the mind by over-attention to the
body: indeed, I would have such as these kept
as far as possible from the boy whom we are
But we give the same name to those who
form gesture and motion so that the arms may be
extended in the proper manner, the management of
the hands free from all trace of rusticity and
inelegance, the attitude becoming, the movements
of the feet appropriate and the motions of the head
and eyes in keeping with the poise of the body.
one will deny that such details form a part of the
art of delivery, nor divorce delivery from oratory;
and there can be no justification for disdaining to
learn what has got to be done, especially as
which, as the name shows, is the law of
originated in heroic times and met with the
approval of the greatest Greeks, not excepting
Socrates himself, while it was placed by Plato among
the virtues of a citizen and included by Chrysippus
in his instructions relative to the education of
We are told that the Spartans even
regarded a certain form of dance as a useful
element in military training. Nor again did the
ancient Romans consider such a practice as disgraceful: this is clear from the fact that priestly and
ritual dances have survived to the present day, while
Cicero in the third book of his de Oratore9
words of Crassus, in which he lays down the
principle that the orator “should learn to move his
body in a bold and manly fashion derived not from
actors or the stage, but from martial and even from
gymnastic exercises.” And such a method of training has persisted uncensured to our own time.
opinion, however, such training should not extend
beyond the years of boyhood, and even boys should
not devote too much time to it. For I do not wish
the gestures of oratory to be modelled on those
of the dance. But I do desire that such boyish
exercises should continue to exert a certain influence, and that something of the grace which we
acquired as learners should attend us in after life
without our being conscious of the fact.