1. After acquiring the power of writing and thinking, as described in the preceding book, and also of pleading extempore, if occasion demand, our next task will be to ensure that appropriateness of speech, which Cicero1 shows to be the fourth department of style, and which is, in my opinion, highly necessary. [2] For since the ornaments of style are varied and manifold and suited for different purposes, they will, unless adapted to the matter and the persons concerned, not merely fail to give our style distinction, but will even destroy its effect and produce a result quite the reverse of that which our matter should produce. For what profit is it that our words should be Latin, significant and graceful, and be further embellished with elaborate figures and rhythms, unless all these qualities are in harmony with the views to which we seek to lead the judge and mould his opinions? [3] What use is it if we employ a lofty tone in cases of trivial import, a slight and refined style in cases of great moment, a cheerful tone when our matter calls for sadness, a gentle tone when it demands vehemence, threatening language when supplication, and submissive when energy is required, or fierceness and violence when our theme is one that asks for charm? Such incongruities are as unbecoming as it is for men to wear necklaces and pearls and flowing raiment which are the natural adornments of women, or for women to robe [p. 157] themselves in the garb of triumph, than which there can be conceived no more majestic raiment. [4] This topic is discussed by Cicero in the third book of the de Oratore,2 and, although he touches on it but lightly, he really covers the whole subject when he says, One single style of oratory is not suited to every case, nor to every audience, nor every speaker, nor every occasion. And he says the same at scarcely greater length in the Orator.3 But in the first of these works Lucius Crassus, since he is speaking in the presence of men distinguished alike for their learning and their eloquence, thinks it sufficient merely to indicate this topic to his audience for their recognition; [5] while in the latter work Cicero asserts that, as these facts are familiar to Brutus, to whom that treatise is addressed, they will be given briefer treatment, despite the fact that the subject is a wide one and is discussed at greater length by the philosophers. 1, on the other hand, have undertaken the education of an orator, and, consequently, am speaking not merely to those that know, but also to learners; I shall, therefore, have some claim to forgiveness if I discuss the topic in greater detail.

[6] For this reason, it is of the first importance that we should know what style is most suitable for conciliating, instructing or moving the judge, and what effects we should aim at in different parts of our speech. Thus we shall eschew antique, metaphorical and newly-coined words in our exordium, statement of facts and arguments, as we shall avoid flowing periods woven with elaborate grace, when the case has to be divided and distinguished under its various heads, while, on the other hand, we shall not employ mean or colloquial language, devoid of all artistic [p. 159] structure, in the peroration, nor, when the theme calls for compassion, attempt to dry the tears of our audience with jests. [7] For all ornament derives its effect not from its own qualities so much as from the circumstances in which it is applied, and the occasion chosen for saying anything is at least as important a consideration as what is actually said. But the whole of this question of appropriate language turns on something more than our choice of style, for it has much in common with invention. For if words can produce such an impression, how much greater must that be which is created by the facts themselves. But I have already laid down rules for the treatment of the latter in various portions of this work.

[8] Too much insistence cannot be laid upon the point that no one can be said to speak appropriately who has not considered not merely what it is expedient, but also what it is becoming to say. I am well aware that these two considerations generally go hand in hand. For whatever is becoming is, as a rule, useful, and there is nothing that does more to conciliate the good-will of the judge than the observance or to alienate it than the disregard of these considerations. [9] Sometimes, however, the two are at variance. Now, whenever this occurs, expediency must yield to the demands of what is becoming. Who is there who does not realise that nothing would have contributed more to secure the acquittal of Socrates than if he had employed the ordinary forensic methods of defence and had conciliated the minds of his judges by adopting a submissive tone and had devoted his attention to refuting the actual charge against him? [10] But such a course would have been unworthy of his character, [p. 161] and, therefore, he pleaded as one who would account the penalty to which he might be sentenced as the highest of honours. The wisest of men preferred to sacrifice the remnant of his days rather than to cancel all his past life. And since he was but ill understood by the men of his own day, he reserved his case for the approval of posterity and at the cost of a few last declining years achieved through all the ages life everlasting. [11] And so although Lysias, who was accounted the first orator of that time, offered him a written defence, he refused to make use of it, since, though he recognised its excellence, he regarded it as unbecoming to himself. This instance alone shows that the end which the orator must keep in view is not persuasion, but speaking well, since there are occasions when to persuade would be a blot upon his honour. The line adopted by Socrates was useless to secure his acquittal, but was of real service to him as a man; and that is by far the greater consideration. [12] In drawing this distinction between what is expedient and what is becoming, I have followed rather the usage of common speech than the strict law of truth; unless, indeed, the elder Africanus4 is to be regarded as having failed to consult his true interests, when he retired into exile sooner than wrangle over his own innocence with a contemptible tribune of the people, or unless it be alleged that Publius Rutilius5 was ignorant of his true advantage both on the occasion when he adopted a defence which may almost be compared with that of Socrates, and when he preferred to remain in exile rather than return at Sulla's bidding. [13] No, these great men regarded all those trifles that the most abject natures regard as [p. 163] advantageous, as being contemptible if weighed in the balance with virtue, and for this reason they have their reward in the deathless praise of all generations. Let not us, then, be so poor spirited as to regard the acts, which we extol, as being inexpedient. [14] However, it is but rarely that this distinction, such as it is, is called into play. As I have said, the expedient and the becoming will, as a rule, be identical in every kind of case. Still, there are two things which will be becoming to all men at all times and in all places, namely, to act and speak as befits a man of honour, and it will never at any time beseem any man to speak or act dishonourably. On the other hand, things of minor importance and occupying something like a middle position between the two are generally of such a nature that they may be conceded to some, but not to others, while it will depend on the character of the speaker and the circumstances of time, place and motive whether we regard them as more or less excusable or reprehensible. [15] When, however, we are speaking of our own affairs or those of others, we must distinguish between the expedient and the becoming, while recognising that the majority of the points which we have to consider will fall under neither head.

In the first place, then, all kinds of boasting are a mistake, above all, it is an error for an orator to praise his own eloquence, and, further, not merely wearies, but in the majority of cases disgusts the audience. [16] For there is ever in the mind of man a certain element of lofty and unbending pride that will not brook superiority: and for this reason we take delight in raising the humble and submissive to their feet, since such an act gives us a consciousness of our [p. 165] superiority, and as soon as all sense of rivalry disappears, its place is taken by a feeling of humanity. But the man who exalts himself beyond reason is looked upon as depreciating and showing a contempt for others and as making them seem small rather than himself seem great. [17] As a result, those who are beneath him feel a grudge against him (for those who are unwilling to yield and yet have not the strength to hold their own are always liable to this failing), while his superiors laugh at him and the good disapprove. Indeed, as a rule, you will find that arrogance implies a false self-esteem, whereas those who possess true merit find satisfaction enough in the consciousness of possession.

Cicero has been severely censured in this connexion, although he was far more given to boasting of his political achievements than of his eloquence, at any rate, in his speeches. [18] And as a rule he had some sound reason for his self-praise. For he was either defending those who had assisted him to crush the conspiracy of Catiline, or was replying to attacks made upon him by those who envied his position; attacks which he was so far unable to withstand that he suffered exile as the penalty for having saved his country. Consequently, we may regard his frequent reference to the deeds accomplished in his consulship as being due quite as much to the necessities of defence as to the promptings of vainglory. [19] As regards his own eloquence, he never made immoderate claims for it in his pleading, while he always paid a handsome tribute to the eloquence of the advocate, who opposed him. For example, there are passages such as the following: “If there be aught of talent in me, and I am only too conscious [p. 167] how little it is,”6 and, “In default of talent, I turned to industry for aid.”7 [20] Again, in his speech against Caecilius on the selection of an accuser for Verres, despite the fact that the question as to which was the most capable pleader, was a factor of great importance, he rather depreciated his opponent's eloquence than exalted his own, and asserted that he had done all in his power to make himself an orator,8 though he knew he had not succeeded. [21] In his letters to intimate friends, it is true, and occasionally in his dialogues, he tells the truth of his own eloquence, though in the latter case he is careful always to place the remarks in question in the mouth of some other character. And yet I am not sure that open boasting is not more tolerable, owing to its sheer straightforwardness, than that perverted form of self-praise, which makes the millionaire say that he is not a poor man, the man of mark describe himself as obscure, the powerful pose as weak, and the eloquent as unskilled and even inarticulate. [22] But the most ostentatious kind of boasting takes the form of actual self-derision. Let us therefore leave it to others to praise us. For it beseems us, as Demosthenes says, to blush even when we are praised by others. I do not mean to deny that there are occasions when an orator may speak of his own achievements, as Demosthenes himself does in his defence of Ctesiphon.9 But on that occasion he qualified his statements in such a way as to show that he was compelled by necessity to do so, and to throw the odium attaching to such a proceeding on the man who had forced him to it. [23] Again, Cicero often speaks of his suppression of the Catilinarian conspiracy, but either attributes his success to the [p. 169] courage shown by the senate or to the providence of the immortal gods. If he puts forward stronger claims to merit, it is generally when speaking against his enemies and detractors; for he was bound to defend his actions when they were denounced as discreditable. [24] One could only wish that he had shown greater restraint in his poems, which those who love him not are never weary of criticising. I refer to passages such as:10

“Let arms before the peaceful toga yield,
Laurels to eloquence resign the field,
“O happy Rome, born in my consulship!”
together with that “Jupiter, by whom he is summoned to the assembly of the gods,” and the “Minerva that taught him her accomplishments”; extravagances which he permitted himself in imitation of certain precedents in Greek literature.

[25] But while it is unseemly to make a boast of one's eloquence, it is, however, at times permissible to express confidence in it. Who, for instance, can blame the following?11

1 De Or. III. x. 37.

2 III. lv. 210.

3 Ch. xxi. sqq.

4 Falsely accused of having taken a bribe from King Antiochus. See Livy, XXXVIII. li. 16.

5 See de Or. I. liii. 227 sqq.

6 Pro Arch. i. I.

7 Pro Quint. i. 4.

8 Div. in Caec. xii. 40.

9 De Cor. 128.

10 From the poem on his consulship.

11 Phil.

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