For my own part I shall not scruple to mention men
by name, that, with examples before us, we may the more easily perceive the
successive steps of the ruin and decay of eloquence.
interrupted him. Rather prepare yourself to fulfil your promise. We do not
want proof of the superior eloquence of the ancients; as far as I am
concerned, it is admitted. We are inquiring into the causes, and these you
told us but now you had been in the habit of discussing, when you were less
excited and were not raving against the eloquence of our age, just before
Aper offended you by attacking your ancestors.
I was not offended,
replied Messala, by our friend Aper's argument, nor again will you have a
right to be offended, if any remark of mine happens to grate on your ears,
know that it is
a rule in these discussions that we may speak out our convictions without
impairing mutual good-will.
Proceed, said Maternus. As you are speaking
of the ancients, avail yourself of ancient freedom, from which we have
fallen away even yet more than from eloquence.