Translated by E.Jones (1776); a few words and spellings have been changed. See key to translations for an explanation of the format.
 L Lucius Cassius too derived his influence, which was very considerable, not indeed from his eloquence, but from his manly way of speaking: for it is remarkable that he made himself popular, not, as others did, by his complaisance and liberality, but by the gloomy rigour and severity of his manners. His law for collecting the votes of the people by way of ballot, was strongly opposed by the tribune M. Antius Briso, who was supported by M. Lepidus one of the consuls [137 B.C.]: and it was afterwards objected to Africanus, that Briso dropped the opposition by his advice. At this time the two Scipios were very serviceable to a number of clients by their superior judgment, and eloquence; but still more so by their extensive interest and popularity. But the written speeches of Pompeius (though it must be owned they have rather an antiquated air) reveal an amazing sagacity, and are very far from being dry and spiritless.
 To these we must add P. Crassus, an orator of uncommon merit, who was qualified for the profession by the united efforts of art and nature, and enjoyed some other advantages which were almost peculiar to his family. For he had contracted an affinity with that accomplished speaker Servius Galba above-mentioned, by giving his daughter in marriage to Galba's son; and being likewise himself the son of Mucius, and the brother of P. Scaevola, he had a fine opportunity at home (which he made the best use of) to gain a thorough knowledge of the civil law. He was a man of unusual application, and was much beloved by his fellow-citizens; being constantly employed either in giving his advice, or pleading causes in the forum.  L Contemporary with the speakers I have mentioned were the two C. Fannii, the sons of Caius and Marcus - one of whom, (the son of Caius) who was joint consul with Domitius [122 B.C.], has left us an excellent speech against Gracchus, who proposed the admission of the Latin and Italian allies to the freedom of Rome."
"Do you really think, then," said Atticus, "that Fannius was the author of that oration? For when we were young, there were different opinions about it. Some asserted it was wrote by C. Persius, a man of letters, and the same who is so much extolled for his learning by Lucilius: and others believed it was the joint production of a number of noblemen, each of whom contributed his best to complete it."
 "This I remember," said I; "but I could never persuade myself to agree with either of them. Their suspicion, I believe, was entirely founded on the character of Fannius, who was only reckoned among the middling orators; whereas the speech in question is esteemed the best which the time afforded. But, on the other hand, it is too much of a piece to have been the mingled composition of many: for the flow of the periods, and the turn of the language, are perfectly similar, throughout the whole of it.- and as to Persius, if he had composed it for Fannius to pronounce, Gracchus would certainly have taken some notice of it in his reply; because Fannius rallies Gracchus pretty severely, in one part of it, for employing Menelaus of Marathus, and several others, to manufacture his speeches. We may add that Fannius himself was no contemptible orator: for he pleaded a number of causes, and his tribunate, which was chiefly conducted under the management and direction of P. Africanus, was very far from being an idle one. But the other C. Fannius, (the son of Marcus and son-in-law of C. Laelius), was of a rougher cast, both in his temper, and manner of speaking.  L By the advice of his father-in-law, (of whom, by the bye, he was not remarkably fond, because he had not voted for his admission into the college of augurs, but gave the preference to his younger son-in-law Q. Scaevola; though Laelius politely excused himself, by saying that the preference was not given to the youngest son, but to his wife the eldest daughter,) by his advice, I say, he attended the lectures of Panaetius. His abilities as a speaker may be easily conjectured from his History, which is neither destitute of elegance, nor a perfect model of composition.  As to his brother Mucius the augur, whenever he was called upon to defend himself, he always pleaded his own cause; as, for instance, in the action which was brought against him for bribery by T. Albucius. But he was never ranked among the orators; his chief merit being a critical knowledge of the civil law, and an uncommon accuracy of judgment. L. Caelius Antipater likewise (as you may see by his works) was an elegant and a handsome writer for the time he lived in; he was also an excellent lawyer, and taught the principles of jurisprudence to many others, particularly to L. Crassus.
 L As to Caius Carbo and T. Gracchus, I wish they had been as well inclined to maintain peace and good order in the State, as they were qualified to support it by their eloquence: their glory would then have been out-rivalled by no one. But the latter, for his turbulent tribunate, which he entered upon with a heart full of resentment against the great and good, on account of the odium he had brought upon himself by the treaty of Numantia, was slain by the hands of the republic: and the other, being impeached of a seditious affectation of popularity, rescued himself from the severity of the judges by a voluntary death.  That both of them were excellent speakers, is very plain from the general testimony of their contemporaries: for as to their speeches now extant, though I allow them to be very artful and judicious, they are certainly defective in eloquence. Gracchus had the advantage of being carefully instructed by his mother Cornelia from his very childhood, and his mind was enriched with all the stores of Greek literature: for he was constantly attended by the ablest masters from Greece, and particularly, in his youth, by Diophanes of Mytilene, who was the most eloquent Greek of his age: but though he was a man of uncommon genius, he had but a short time to improve and display it.  L As to Carbo, his whole life was spent in trials, and forensic debates. He is said by very sensible men who heard him, and, among others, by our friend L. Gellius who lived in his family in the time of his consulship [120 B.C.], to have been a sonorous, a fluent, and a spirited speaker, and likewise, upon occasion, very passionate, very engaging, and excessively humorous: Gellius used to add, that he applied himself very closely to his studies, and bestowed much of his time in writing and private declamation.  He was, therefore, esteemed the best pleader of his time; for no sooner had he began to distinguish himself in the Forum, but the depravity of the age gave birth to a number of law-suits; and it was first found necessary, in the time of his youth, to settle the form of public trials, which had never been done before. We accordingly find that L. Piso, then a tribune of the people, was the first who proposed a law against bribery; which he did when Censorinus and Manilius were consuls [149 B.C.]. This Piso too was a professed pleader, and the proposer and opposer of a great number of laws: he left some orations behind him, which are now lost, and a Book of Annals very indifferently written. But in the public trials, in which Carbo was concerned, the assistance of an able advocate had become more necessary than ever, in consequence of the law for voting by ballots, which was proposed and carried by L. Cassius, in the consulship of Lepidus and Mancinus [137 B.C.].
 L I have likewise been often assured by the poet Accius, (an intimate friend of his) that your ancestor D. Brutus, the son of Marcus, was no inelegant speaker; and that for the time he lived in, he was well versed both in the Greek and Roman literature. He ascribed the same accomplishments to Q. Maximus, the grandson of L. Paulus: and added that, a little prior to Maximus, the Scipio, by whose instigation (though only in a private capacity) T. Gracchus was assassinated, was not only a man of great ardour in all other respects, but very warm and spirited in his manner of speaking.  P. Lentulus too, the Father of the Senate, had a sufficient share of eloquence for an honest and useful magistrate. About the same time L. Furius Philus was thought to speak our language as elegantly, and more correctly than any other man; P. Scaevola to be very artful and judicious, and rather more fluent than Philus; M'. Manilius to possess almost an equal share of judgment with the latter; and Appius Claudius to be equally fluent, but more warm and passionate. M. Fulvius Flaccus, and C. Cato the nephew of Africanus, were likewise tolerable orators: some of the writings of Flaccus are still in being, in which nothing, however, is to be seen but the mere scholar. P. Decius was a professed rival of Flaccus; he too was not destitute of eloquence; but his style, as well as his temper, was too violent.  L M. Drusus, the son of Caius, who, in his tribunate, thwarted his colleague Gracchus (then raised to the same office a second time) was a nervous speaker, and a man of great popularity: and next to him was his brother C. Drusus. Your kinsman also, my Brutus, (M. Pennus) successfully opposed the tribune Gracchus, who was something younger than himself. For Gracchus was quaestor, and Pennus (the son of that Marcus who was joint consul with Q. Aelius [167 B.C.]) was tribune, in the consulship of M. Lepidus and L. Orestes [126 B.C.]: but after enjoying the aedileship, and a prospect of succeeding to the highest honours, he was snatched off by an untimely death. As to T. Flamininus, whom I myself have seen, I can learn nothing but that he spoke our language with great accuracy.
 To these we may join C. Curio, M. Scaurus, P. Rutilius, and C. Gracchus. It will not be amiss to give a short account of Scaurus and Rutilius; neither of whom, indeed, had the reputation of being a first- rate orator, though each of them pleaded a number of causes. But some deserving men, who were not remarkable for their genius, may be justly commended for their industry; not that the persons I am speaking of were really destitute of genius, but only of that particular kind of it which distinguishes the orator. For it is of little consequence to discover what is proper to be said, unless you are able to express it in a free and agreeable manner: and even that will be insufficient, if not recommended by the voice, the look, and the gesture.  L It is needless to add that much depends upon Art: for though, even without this, it is possible, by the mere force of nature, to say many striking things; yet, as they will after all be nothing more than so many lucky hits, we shall not be able to repeat them at our pleasure. The style of Scaurus, who was a very sensible and honest man, was remarkably serious, and commanded the respect of the hearer: so that when he was speaking for his client, you would rather have thought he was giving evidence in his favour, than pleading his cause.  This manner of speaking, however, though but indifferently adapted to the bar, was very much so to a calm, debate in the Senate, of which Scaurus was then esteemed the Father: for it not only bespoke his prudence, but what was still a more important recommendation, his credibility. This advantage, which it is not easy to acquire by art, he derived entirely from nature: though you know that even here we have some precepts to assist us. We have several of his orations still extant, and three books inscribed to L. Fufidius containing the History of his own Life, which, though a very useful work, is scarcely read by any body. But the Cyropaedia, by Xenophon, is read by every one; which, though an excellent performance of the kind, is much less adapted to our manners and form of government, and not superior in merit to the honest simplicity of Scaurus.
 L Fufidius himself was likewise a tolerable pleader. But Rutilius was distinguished by his solemn and austere way of speaking; and both of them were naturally warm, and spirited. Accordingly, after they had rivalled each other for the consulship, he who had lost his election, immediately sued his competitor for bribery; and Scaurus, the defendant, being honourably acquitted of the charge, returned the compliment to Rutilius, by commencing a similar prosecution against him. Rutilius was a man of great industry and application; for which he was the more respected, because, besides his pleadings, he undertook the office (which was a very troublesome one) of giving advice to all who applied to him, in matters of law.  His orations are very dry, but his juridical remarks are excellent: for he was a learned man, and well versed in the Greek literature, and was likewise an attentive and constant hearer of Panaetius, and a thorough proficient in the doctrine of the Stoics; whose method of discoursing, though very close and artful, is too precise, and not at all adapted to engage the attention of common people. That self-confidence, therefore, which is so peculiar to the sect, was displayed by him with amazing firmness and resolution;  L for though he was perfectly innocent of the charge, a prosecution was commenced against him for bribery (a trial which raised a violent commotion in the city)- and yet though L. Crassus and M. Antonius, both of consular dignity, were, at that time, in very high repute for their eloquence, he refused the assistance of either; being determined to plead his cause himself, which he accordingly did. C. Cotta, indeed, who was his nephew, made a short speech in his vindication, which he spoke in the true style of an orator, though he was then but a youth. Q. Mucius too said much in his defence, with his usual accuracy and elegance; but not with that force, and extension, which the mode of trial, and the importance of the cause demanded.  Rutilius, therefore, was an orator of the Stoical, and Scaurus of the antique cast: but they are both entitled to our commendation; because, in them, even this formal and unpromising species of eloquence has appeared among us with some degree of merit. For as in the theatre, so in the forum, I would not have our applause confined to those alone who act the busy, and more important characters; but reserve a share of it for the quiet and unambitious performer who is distinguished by a simple truth of gesture, without any violence.
 L As I have mentioned the Stoics, I must take some notice of Q. Aelius Tubero, the grandson of L. Paullus, who made his appearance at the time we are speaking of. He was never esteemed an orator, but was a man of the most rigid virtue, and strictly conformable to the doctrine he professed: but, in truth, he was rather too crabbed. When he was triumvir, he declared, contrary to the opinion of P. Africanus his uncle, that the augurs had no right of exemption from sitting in the courts of justice: and as in his temper, so in his manner of speaking, he was harsh, unpolished, and austere; on which account, he could never raise himself to the honourable ports which were enjoyed by his ancestors. But he was a brave and steady citizen, and a warm opposer of Gracchus, as appears from an oration of Gracchus against him: we have likewise some of Tubero's speeches against Gracchus. He was not indeed a shining orator: but he was a learned, and a very skilful disputant."
 "I find," said Brutus, "that the case is much the same among us, as with the Greeks; and that the Stoics, in general, are very judicious at an argument, which they conduct by certain rules of art, and are likewise very neat and exact in their language; but if we take them from this, to speak in public, they make a poor appearance. Cato, however, must be excepted; in whom, though as rigid a Stoic as ever existed, I could not wish for a more consummate degree of eloquence: I can likewise discover a moderate share of it in Fannius,- not so much in Rutilius;- but none at all in Tubero."
 L "True," said I; "and we may easily account for it: Their whole attention was so closely confined to the study of logic, that they never troubled themselves to acquire the free, diffusive, and variegated style which is so necessary for a public speaker. But your uncle, you doubtless know, was wise enough to borrow only that from the Stoics, which they were able to furnish for his purpose (the art of reasoning:) but for the art of speaking, he had recourse to the masters of rhetoric, and exercised himself in the manner they directed. If, however, we must be indebted for everything to the philosophers, the Peripatetic discipline is, in my mind, by far the most appropriate to form our language.  For which reason, my Brutus, I the more approve your choice, in attaching yourself to a sect, (I mean the philosophers of the Old Academy,) in whose system, a just and accurate way of reasoning is enlivened by a perpetual sweetness and fluency of expression: but even the delicate and flowing style of the Peripatetics, and Academics, is not sufficient to complete an orator; nor yet can he be complete without it. For as the language of the Stoics is too close, and contracted, to suit the ears of common people; so that of the latter is too diffusive and luxuriant for a spirited contest in the Forum, or a pleading at the bar. Who had a richer style than Plato?  L The philosophers tell us, that if Jupiter himself was to converse in Greek, he would speak like him. Who also was more nervous than Aristotle? Who sweeter than Theophrastus? We are told that even Demosthenes attended the lectures of Plato, and was fond of reading what he published; which, indeed, is sufficiently evident from the turn, and the majesty of his language and he himself has expressly mentioned it in one of his letters. But the style of this excellent orator is, notwithstanding, much too fierce for the Academy; as that of the philosophers is too mild and placid for the law courts.  I shall now, with your leave, proceed to the age and merits of the rest of the Roman orators."
"Nothing," said Atticus, "(for I can safely answer for my friend Brutus) would please us better."
"Curio, then," said I, "was nearly of the age I have just mentioned,- a celebrated speaker, whose genius may be easily decided from his orations. For, among several others, we have a noble speech of his for Ser. Fulvius, in a prosecution for incest. When we were children, it was esteemed the best then extant; but now it is almost overlooked among the numerous performances of the same kind which have been lately published."
 L "I am very aware," replied Brutus, "to whom we are obliged for the numerous performances you speak of."
"And I am equally aware," said I, "who is the person you intend: for I have at least done a service to my young countrymen, by introducing a loftier, and more embellished way of speaking, than was used before: and, perhaps, I have also done some harm, because after mine appeared, the Speeches of our ancestors and predecessors began to be neglected by most people; though never by me, for I can assure you, I always prefer them to my own."
"But you must reckon me," said Brutus, "among the most people; though I now see, from your recommendation, that I have a great many books to read, of which before I had very little opinion."
 "But this celebrated oration," said I, "in the prosecution for incest, is in some places excessively puerile; and what is said in it of the passion of love, the inefficacy of questioning by tortures, and the danger of trusting to common hear-say, is indeed pretty enough, but would be insufferable to the tutored ears of the moderns, and to a people who are justly distinguished for the solidity of their knowledge. He likewise wrote several other pieces, spoke a number of good orations, and was certainly an eminent pleader; so that I much wonder, considering how long he lived, and the character he bore, that he was never preferred to the consulship. But I have a man here [C. Gracchus], who had an amazing genius, and the warmest application; and was a scholar from his very childhood:  L For you must not imagine, my Brutus, that we have ever yet had a speaker, whose language was richer and more copious than his."
"I really think so," answered Brutus; "and he is almost the only author we have, among the ancients, that I take the trouble to read."
"And he well deserves it," said I; "for the Roman name and literature were great losers by his untimely fate.  I wish he had transferred his affection for his brother to his country! How easily, if he had thus prolonged his life, would he have rivalled the glory of his father, and grandfather! In eloquence, I scarcely know whether we should yet have had his equal. His language was noble; his sentiments manly and judicious; and his whole manner great and striking. He wanted nothing but the finishing touch: for though his first attempts were as excellent as they were numerous, he did not live to complete them. In short, my Brutus, he, if any one, should be carefully studied by the Roman youth: for he is able, not only to edge, but to feed and ripen their talents.
 L After him appeared C. Galba, the son of the eloquent Servius, and the son-in-law of P. Crassus, who was both an eminent speaker, and a skilful jurist. He was much commended by our fathers, who respected him for the sake of his: but he had the misfortune to be stopped in his career. For being tried by the Mamilian law, as a party concerned in the conspiracy to support Jugurtha, though he exerted all his abilities to defend himself, he was ruined. His peroration, or, as it is often called, his epilogue, is still extant; and was so much in repute, when we were school-boys, that we used to learn it by heart: he was the first member of the college of priests, since the building of Rome, who was publicly tried and condemned.  As to P. Scipio, who died in his consulship [111 B.C.], he neither spoke much, nor often: but he was inferior to no one in the purity of his language, and superior to all in wit and pleasantry. His colleague L. Bestia, who begun his tribunate very successfully, (for, by a law which he preferred for the purpose, he procured the recall of Popillius, who had been exiled by the influence of Caius Gracchus) was a man of spirit, and a tolerable speaker: but he did not finish his consulship so happily. For, in consequence of the invidious law of Mamilius above-mentioned, C. Galba one of the Priests, and the four consular gentlemen L. Bestia, C. Cato, Sp. Albinus, and that excellent citizen L. Opimius, who killed Gracchus; of which he was acquitted by the people, though he had constantly sided against them,- were all condemned by their judges, who were of the Gracchan party.  L Very unlike him in his tribunate, and indeed in every other part of his life, was that infamous citizen C. Licinius Nerva; but he was not destitute of eloquence. Nearly at the same time, (though, indeed, he was somewhat older) flourished C. Fimbria, who was rather rough and abusive, and much too warm and hasty: but his application, and his great integrity and firmness made him a serviceable speaker in the Senate. He was likewise a tolerable pleader, and jurist, and distinguished by the same rigid freedom in the turn of his language, as in that of his virtues. When we were boys, we used to think his orations worth reading; though they are now scarcely to be met with.
 But C. Sextius Calvinus was equally elegant both in his taste, and his language, though, unhappily, of a very infirm constitution:- when the pain in his feet intermitted, he did not decline the trouble of pleading, but he did not attempt it very often. His fellow-citizens, therefore, made use of his advice, whenever they had occasion for it; but of his patronage, only when his health permitted. Contemporary with these, my good friend, was your namesake M. Brutus, the disgrace of your noble family; who, though he bore that honourable name, and had the best of men, and an eminent jurist, for his father, confined his practice to accusations, as Lycurgus is said to have done at Athens. He never sued for any of our magistracies; but was a severe, and a troublesome prosecutor: so that we easily see that, in him, the natural goodness of the flock was corrupted by the vicious inclinations of the man.  L At the same time lived L. Caesulenus, a man of plebeian rank, and a professed accuser, like the former: I myself heard him in his old age, when he endeavoured, by the Aquilian law, to subject L. Sabellius to a fine, for a breach of justice. But I should not have taken any notice of such a low-born wretch, if I had not thought that no person I ever heard, could give a more suspicious turn to the cause of the defendant, or exaggerate it to a higher degree of criminality. T. Albucius, who lived in the same age, was well versed in the Greek literature, or, rather, was almost a Greek himself. I speak of him, as I think; but any person, who pleases, may judge what he was by his orations. In his youth, he studied at Athens, and returned from thence a thorough convert to the doctrine of Epicurus; which, of all others, is the least adapted to form an orator.
 His contemporary, Q. Catulus, was an accomplished speaker, not in the ancient taste, but (unless any thing more perfect can be exhibited) in the finished style of the moderns. He had a plentiful stock of learning; an easy, winning elegance, not only in his manners and disposition, but in his very language; and an unblemished purity and correctness of style. This may be easily seen by his orations; and particularly, by the History of his consulship, and of his subsequent transactions, which he composed in the soft and agreeable manner of Xenophon, and made a present of to the poet, A. Furius, an intimate acquaintance of his: but this performance is as little known, as the three books of Scaurus before-mentioned."
 L "Indeed, I must confess," said Brutus, "that both the one and the other, are perfectly unknown to me: but that is entirely my own fault. I shall now, therefore, request a sight of them from you; and am resolved, in future, to be more careful in collecting such valuable curiosities."
"This Catulus," said I, "as I have just observed, was distinguished by the purity of his language; which, though a material accomplishment, is too much neglected by most of the Roman orators; for as to the elegant tone of his voice, and the sweetness of his accent, as you knew his son, it will be needless to take any notice of them. His son, indeed, was not in the list of orators: but whenever he had occasion to deliver his sentiments in public, [Catulus] lacked neither judgment, nor a neat and liberal turn of expression.  Nay, even the father himself was not reckoned the foremost in the list of orators: but still he had that kind of merit, that notwithstanding, after you had heard two or three speakers, who were particularly eminent in their profession, you might judge him inferior; yet, whenever you heard him alone, and without an immediate opportunity of making a comparison, you would not only be satisfied with him, but scarcely wish for a better advocate.  L As to Q. Metellus Numidicus, and his colleague M. Silanus, they spoke, on matters of government, with as much eloquence as was really necessary for men of their illustrious character, and of consular dignity. But M. Aurelius Scaurus, though he spoke in public but seldom, always spoke very neatly, and he had a more elegant command of the Roman language than most men. A. Albinus was a speaker of the same kind; but Albinus, the flamen, was esteemed an orator. Q. Caepio too had a great deal of spirit, and was a brave citizen: but the unlucky chance of war was imputed to him as a crime, and the general odium of the people proved his ruin.  C. and L. Memmius were likewise indifferent orators, and distinguished by the bitterness and asperity of their accusations: for they prosecuted many, but seldom spoke for the defendant. Sp. Torius, on the other hand, was distinguished by his popular way of speaking; the very same man, who, by his corrupt and frivolous law, diminished the taxes which were levied on the public lands. M. Marcellus, the father of Aeserninus, though not reckoned a professed pleader, was a prompt, and, in some degree, a practised speaker; as was also his son P. Lentulus.
 L L. Cotta likewise, a man of praetorian rank, was esteemed a tolerable orator; but he never made any great progress; on the contrary, he purposely endeavoured, both in the choice of his words, and the rusticity of his pronunciation, to imitate the manner of the ancients. I am indeed sensible that in this instance of Cotta, and in many others, I have, and shall again insert in the list of orators, those who, in reality, had but little claim to the character. For it was, professedly, my design, to collect an account of all the Romans, without exception, who made it their business to excel in the profession of eloquence: and it may be easily seen from this account, by what slow gradations they advanced, and how excessively difficult it is, in every thing, to rise to the summit of perfection.  As a proof of this, how many orators have been already recounted, and how much time have we bestowed upon them, before we could force our way, after infinite fatigue and drudgery, as, among the Greeks, to Demosthenes and Hypereides, so now, among our own countrymen, to Antonius and Crassus! For, in my mind, these were consummate orators, and the first among the Romans whose diffusive eloquence rivalled the glory of the Greeks.
 L Antonius recognised every thing which could be of service to his cause, and that in the very order in which it would be most so: and as a skilful general posts the cavalry, the infantry, and the light troops, where each of them can act to most advantage; so Antonius drew up his arguments in those parts of his discourse, where they were likely to have the best effect. He had a quick and retentive memory, and a frankness of manner which precluded any suspicion of artifice. All his speeches were, in appearance, the unpremeditated effusions of an honest heart; and yet, in reality, they were prepared with so much skill, that the judges were, sometimes, not so well prepared, as they should have been, to withstand the force of them.  His language, indeed, was not so refined as to pass for the standard of elegance; for which reason he was thought to be rather a careless speaker; and yet, on the other hand, it was neither vulgar nor incorrect, but of that solid and judicious turn, which constitutes the real merit of an orator, as to the choice of his words. For, as to a purity of style, though this is certainly (as before observed) a very commendable quality, it is not so much so for its intrinsic consequence, as because it is too generally neglected. In short, it is not so meritorious to speak our native tongue correctly, as it is scandalous to speak it otherwise; nor is it so much the property of a good orator, as of a well-bred citizen. But in the choice of his words (in which he had more regard to their weight than their brilliance) and likewise in the structure of his language, and the compass of his periods, Antonius conformed himself to the dictates of reason, and, in a great measure, to the nicer rules of art: though his chief excellence was a judicious management of the figures and decorations of sentiment.  L This was likewise the distinguishing excellence of Demosthenes; in which he was so far superior to all others, as to be allowed, in the opinion of the best judges, to be the Prince of orators. For the figures (as they are called by the Greeks) are the principal ornaments of an able speaker, I mean those which contribute not so much to paint and embellish our language, as to give a lustre to our sentiments. But besides these, of which Antonius had a great command, he had a peculiar excellence in his manner of delivery, both as to his voice and gesture; for the latter was such as to correspond to the meaning of every sentence, without beating time to the words. His hands, his shoulders, the turn of his body, the stamp of his foot, his posture, his air, and, in short, his every motion, was adapted to his language and sentiments: and his voice was strong and firm, though naturally hoarse;- a defect which he alone was capable of improving to his advantage;  for in capital causes, it had a mournful dignity of accent, which was exceedingly proper, both to win the assent of the judges, and excite their compassion for a suffering client: so that in him the observation of Demosthenes was eminently verified, who being asked what was the first quality of a good orator, what the second, and what the third, constantly replied, A good enunciation.
 L But many thought that he was equalled, and others that he was even excelled by Lucius Crassus. All, however, were agreed in this, that whoever had either of them for his advocate, had no cause to wish for a better. For my own part, notwithstanding the uncommon merit I have ascribed to Antonius, I must also acknowledge, that there cannot be a more finished character than that of Crassus. He possessed a wonderful dignity of elocution, with an agreeable mixture of wit and pleasantry, which was perfectly refined, and without the smallest tincture of scurrility. His style was correct and elegant without stiffness or affectation: his method of reasoning was remarkably clear and distinct: and when his cause turned upon any point of law, or equity, he had an inexhaustible fund of arguments, and comparative illustrations.  For as Antonius had an admirable turn for suggesting apposite hints, and either suppressing or exciting the suspicions of the hearer; so no man could explain and define, or discuss a point of equity, with a more copious facility than Crassus; as sufficiently appeared upon many other occasions, but particularly in the cause of M'. Curius, which was tried before the centumviri.  L For he urged a great variety of arguments in the defence of right and equity, against the literal interpretation of the law; and supported them by such a numerous series of precedents, that he overpowered Q. Scaevola (a man of uncommon penetration, and the ablest jurist of his time) though the case before them was only a matter of legal right. But the cause was so ably managed by the two advocates, who were nearly of an age, and both of consular rank, that while each endeavoured to interpret the law in favour of his client, Crassus was universally allowed to be the best lawyer among the orators, and Scaevola to be the most eloquent jurist of the age: for the latter could not only discover with the nicest precision what was agreeable to law and equity; but had likewise a conciseness and propriety of expression, which was admirably adapted to his purpose.  In short, he had such a wonderful vein of oratory in commenting, explaining, and discussing, that I never beheld his equal; though in amplifying, embellishing, and refuting, he was rather to be dreaded as a formidable critic, than admired as an eloquent speaker."
 L "Indeed," said Brutus, "though I always thought I sufficiently understood the character of Scaevola, by the account I had heard of him from C. Rutilius, whose company I frequented for the sake of his acquaintance with him, I had not the least idea of his merit as an orator. I am now, therefore, not a little pleased to be informed, that our Republic has had the honour of producing so accomplished a man, and such an excellent genius."
 "Really, my Brutus," said I, "you may take it from me, that the Roman State had never been adorned with two finer characters than these. For, as I have before observed, that the one was the best lawyer among the orators, and the other the best speaker among the jurists of his time; so the difference between them, in all other respects, was of such a nature, that it would almost be impossible for you to determine which of the two you would rather choose to resemble. For, as Crassus was the closest of all our elegant speakers, so Scaevola was the most elegant among those who were distinguished by the frugal accuracy of their language: and as Crassus tempered his affability with a proper share of severity, so the rigid air of Scaevola was not destitute of the milder graces of an affable condescension.  L Though this was really their character, it is very possible that I may be thought to have embellished it beyond the bounds of truth, to give an agreeable air to my narrative: but as your favourite sect, my Brutus, the Old Academy, has defined all virtue to be a just mediocrity, it was the constant endeavour of these two eminent men to pursue this golden mean; and yet it so happened, that while each of them shared a part of the other's excellence, he preserved his own entire."
 "To speak what I think," replied Brutus, "I have not only acquired a proper acquaintance with their characters from your account of them, but I can likewise recognise, that the same comparison might be drawn between you and Serv. Sulpicius, which you have just been making between Crassus and Scaevola."
"In what manner?" said I.
"Because you," replied Brutus, "have taken the pains to acquire as extensive a knowledge of the law as is necessary for an orator; and Sulpicius, on the other hand, took care to furnish himself with sufficient eloquence to support the character of an able jurist. Besides, your age corresponded as nearly to his, as the age of Crassus did to that of Scaevola."
 L "As to my own abilities," said I, "the rules of decency forbid me to speak of them: but your character of Servius is a very just one, and I may freely tell you what I think of him. There are few, I believe, who have applied themselves more assiduously to the art of speaking than he did, or indeed to the study of every useful science. In our youth, we both of us followed the same liberal exercises; and he afterwards accompanied me to Rhodes, to pursue those studies which might equally improve him as a man and a scholar; but when he returned from thence, he appears to me to have been rather ambitious to be the foremost man in a secondary profession, than the second in that which claims the highest dignity. I will not pretend to say that he could not have ranked himself among the foremost in the latter profession; but he rather chose to be, what he actually made himself, the first lawyer of his time."
 "Indeed!" said Brutus: "and do you really prefer Servius to Q. Scaevola?"
"My opinion," said I, "Brutus, is, that Q. Scaevola, and many others, had a thorough practical knowledge of the law; but that Servius alone understood it as science: which he could never have done by the mere study of the law, and without a previous acquaintance with the art which teaches us to divide a whole into its subordinate parts, to, decide an indeterminate idea by an accurate definition: to explain what is obscure, by a clear interpretation; and first to recognise what things are of a doubtful nature, then to distinguish them by their different degrees of probability; and lastly, to be provided with a certain rule or measure by which we may judge what is true, and what false, and what inferences fairly may, or may not be deduced from any given premises.  L This important art he applied to those subjects which, for want of it, were necessarily managed by others without due order and precision."
"You mean, I suppose," said Brutus, "the art of logic."
"You suppose very right," answered I: "but he added to it an extensive acquaintance with polite literature, and an elegant manner of expressing himself; as is sufficiently evident from the incomparable writings he has left behind him.  And as he attached himself, for the improvement of his eloquence, to L. Lucilius Balbus, and C. Aquilius Gallus, two very able speakers; he effectually surpassed the prompt celerity of the latter (though a keen, experienced man) both in supporting and refuting a charge, by his accuracy and precision, and overpowered the deliberate formality of Balbus (a man of great learning and erudition) by his adroit and dextrous method of arguing: so that he equally possessed the good qualities of both, without their defects.  L As Crassus, therefore, in my mind, acted more prudently than Scaevola; (for the latter was very fond of pleading causes, in which he was certainly inferior to Crassus; whereas the former never engaged himself in an unequal competition with Scaevola, by assuming the character of a jurist;) so Servius pursued a plan which sufficiently discovered his wisdom; for as the profession of a pleader, and a lawyer, are both of them held in great esteem, and give those who are masters of them the most extensive influence among their fellow-citizens; he acquired an undisputed superiority in the one, and improved himself as much in the other as was necessary to support the authority of the civil law, and promote him to the dignity of a consul."
 "This is precisely the opinion I had formed of him," said Brutus. "For, a few years ago I heard him often and very attentively at Samos, when I wanted to be instructed by him in the pontifical law, as far as it is connected with the civil law; and I am now greatly confirmed in my opinion of him, by finding that it coincides so exactly with yours. I am likewise not a little pleased to observe, that the equality of your ages, your sharing the same honours and advancements, and the vicinity of your respective studies and professions, has been so far from precipitating either of you into that envious detraction of the other's merit, which most people are tormented with, that, instead of wounding your mutual friendship, it has only served to increase and strengthen it; for, to my own knowledge, he had the same affection for, and the same favourable sentiments of you, which I now discover in you towards him.  L I cannot, therefore, help regretting very sincerely, that the Roman State has so long been deprived of the benefit of his advice, and of your eloquence;- a circumstance which is indeed calamitous enough in itself; but must appear much more so to him who considers into what hands that once respectable authority has been of late, I will not say transferred, but forcibly wrested."
"You certainly forget," said Atticus, "that I proposed, when we began the conversation, to drop all matters of State; by all means, therefore, let us keep to our plan: for if we once begin to repeat our grievances, there will be no end, I need not say to our inquiries, but to our sighs and lamentations."
 "Let us proceed, then," said I, "without any farther digression, and pursue the plan we set out upon. Crassus (for he is the orator we were just speaking of) always arrived ready prepared for action. He was expected with impatience, and heard with pleasure. When he first began his oration (which he always did in a very accurate style) he seemed worthy of the great expectations he had raised. He was very moderate in the sway of his body, had no remarkable variation of voice, never advanced from the ground he stood upon, and seldom stamped his foot: his language was forcible, and sometimes warm and passionate; he had many strokes of humour, which were always tempered with a becoming dignity; and, what is a difficult character to hit, he was at once very florid, and very concise.  L In a close contest, he never met with his equal; and there was scarcely any kind of causes, in which he had not signalized his abilities; so that he enrolled himself very early among the first orators of the time. He accused C. Carbo, though a man of great eloquence, when he was but a youth;- and displayed his talents in such a manner, that they were not only applauded, but admired by every body.  He afterwards defended the [Vestal] virgin Licinia, when he was only twenty-seven years of age; on which occasion he discovered an uncommon share of eloquence, as is evident from those parts of his oration which he left behind him in writing. As he was then desirous to have the honour of settling the colony of Narbo (as he afterwards did) he thought it advisable to recommend himself, by undertaking the management of some popular cause. His oration, in support of the act which was proposed for that purpose, is still extant; and reveals a greater maturity of genius than might have been expected at that time of life. He afterwards pleaded many other causes: but his tribunate was such a remarkably silent one, that if he had not supped with Granius the beadle when he enjoyed that office (a circumstance which has been twice mentioned by Lucilius) we should scarcely have known that a tribune of that name had existed."
 L "I believe so," replied Brutus: "but I have heard as little of the tribunate of Scaevola, though I must naturally suppose that he was the colleague of Crassus."
"He was so," said I, "in all his other offices; but he was not tribune till the year after him; and when he sat on the rostra in that capacity, Crassus spoke in support of the Servilian law. I must observe, however, that Crassus had not Scaevola for his colleague as censor; for none of the Scaevolas ever sued for that office. But when the last-mentioned oration of Crassus was published (which I dare say you have frequently read) he was thirty-four years of age, which was exactly the difference between his age and mine. For he supported the law I have just been speaking of, in the very consulship under which I was born [106 B.C.]; whereas he himself was born in the consulship of Q. Caepio, and C. Laelius [140 B.C.], about three years later than Antonius. I have particularly noticed this circumstance, to specify the time when the Roman eloquence attained its first maturity; and was actually carried to such a degree of perfection, as to leave no room for any one to carry it higher, unless by the assistance of a more complete and extensive knowledge of philosophy, jurisprudence, and history."
 "But does there," said Brutus, "or will there ever exist a man, who is furnished with all the united accomplishments you require?"
"I really don't know," said I; "but we have a speech made by Crassus in his consulship [95 B.C.], in praise of Q. Caepio, intermingled with a defence of his conduct, which, though a short one if we consider it as an oration, is not so as a Panegyric;- and another, which was his last, and which he spoke in the 48th year of his age, at the time he was censor. In these we have the genuine complexion of eloquence, without any painting or disguise: but his periods (I mean Crassus's) were generally short and concise; and he was fond of expressing himself in those shorter sentences, or members, which the Greeks call colons."
 L "As you have spoken so largely," said Brutus, "in praise of the two last-mentioned orators, I heartily wish that Antonius had left us some other specimen of his abilities, than his trifling Essay on the Art of Speaking, and Crassus more than he has: by so doing, they would have transmitted their fame to posterity; and to us a valuable system of eloquence. For as to the elegant language of Scaevola, we have sufficient proofs of it in the orations he has left behind him."
 "For my part," said I, "the oration I was speaking of, on Caepio's case, has been my pattern, and my instructor, from my very childhood. It supports the dignity of the Senate, which was deeply interested in the debate; and excites the jealousy of the audience against the party of the judges and accusers, whose power it was necessary to expose in the most popular terms. Many parts of it are very strong and nervous, many others very cool and composed; and some are distinguished by the asperity of their language, and not a few by their wit and pleasantry: but much more was said than was committed to writing, as is sufficiently evident from several heads of the oration, which are merely proposed without any enlargement or explanation. But the oration in his censorship against his colleague Cn. Domitius, is not so much an oration, as an analysis of the subject, or a general sketch of what he had said, with here and there a few ornamental touches, by way of specimen: for no contest was ever conducted with greater spirit than this.  L Crassus, however, was eminently distinguished by the popular turn of his language: but that of Antonius was better adapted to judicial trials, than to a public debate.
As we have had occasion to mention him, Domitius himself must not be left unnoticed: for though he is not enrolled in the list of orators, he had a sufficient share both of utterance and genius, to support his character as a magistrate and his dignity as a consul. I might likewise observe of C. Caelius, that he was a man of great application, and many eminent qualities, and had eloquence enough to support the private interests of his friends, and his own dignity in the State.  At the same time lived M. Herennius, who was reckoned among the middling orators, whose principal merit was the purity and correctness of their language; and yet, in a suit for the consulship [93 B.C.], he got the better of L. Philippus, a man of the first rank and family, and of the most extensive connections, and who was likewise a member of the college [of priests], and a very eloquent speaker. Then also lived C. Claudius, who, besides his consequence as a nobleman of the first distinction, and a man of the most powerful influence, was likewise possessed of a moderate share of eloquence.  L Nearly of the same age was C. Titius, a Roman knight, who, in my judgment, arrived at as high a degree of perfection as a Roman orator was able to do, without the assistance of the Greek literature, and a good share of practice. His orations have so many delicate turns, such a number of well-chosen examples, and such an agreeable vein of politeness, that they almost seem to have been composed in the true Attic style. He likewise transferred his delicacies into his very tragedies, with ingenuity enough, I confess, but not in the tragic taste. But the poet L. Afranius, whom he studiously imitated, was a very smart writer, and, as you well know, a man of great expression in the dramatic way.  Q. Rubrius Varro, who with C. Marius, was declared an enemy by the Senate, was likewise a warm, and a very spirited prosecutor. My relation, M. Gratidius, was a plausible speaker of the same kind, well versed in the Greek literature, formed by nature for the profession of eloquence, and an intimate acquaintance of M. Antonius: he commanded under him in Cilicia, where he lost his life: and he once commenced a prosecution against C. Fimbria, the father of M. Marius Gratidianus.  L There have likewise been several among the Allies, and the Latins, who were esteemed good orators; as, for instance, Q. Vettius of Vettium, one of the Marsi, whom I myself was acquainted with, a man of sense, and a concise speaker; - the Q. and D. Valerii of Sora, my neighbours and acquaintances, who were not so remarkable for their talent of speaking, as for their skill both in the Greek and Roman literature; and C. Rusticellus of Bononia, an experienced orator, and a man of great natural volubility. But the most eloquent of all those who were not citizens of Rome, was T. Betucius Barrus of Asculum, some of whose orations, which were spoken in that city, are still extant: that which he made at Rome against Caepio, is really an excellent one: the speech which Caepio delivered in answer to it, was composed by Aelius, who composed a number of orations, but pronounced none himself.
 But among those of a remoter date, L. Papirius of Fregellae in Latium, who was almost contemporary with Ti. Gracchus, was universally esteemed the most eloquent: we have a speech of his in vindication of the Fregellani, and the Latin Colonies, which was delivered before the senate."
"And what then is the merit," said Brutus, "which you mean to ascribe to these provincial orators?"
"What else," replied I, "but the very same which I have ascribed to the city-orators; excepting that their language is not tinctured with the same fashionable delicacy?"
 L "What fashionable delicacy do you mean?" said he.
"I cannot," said I, "pretend to define it: I only know that there is such a quality existing. When you go to your province in Gaul, you will be convinced of it. You will there find many expressions which are not current in Rome; but these may be easily changed, and corrected. But, what is of greater importance, our orators have a particular accent in their manner of pronouncing, which is more elegant, and has a more agreeable effect than any other. This, however, is not peculiar to the orators, but is equally common to every well-bred citizen.  I myself remember that T. Tinca, of Placentia, who was a very facetious man, once engaged in a repartee skirmish with my old friend Q. Granius, the public crier."
"Do you mean that Granius," said Brutus, "of whom Lucilius has related such a number of stories?"
"The very same," said I: "but though Tinca said as many smart things as the other, Granius at last overpowered him by a certain vernacular spice, which gave an additional relish to his humour: so that I am no longer surprised at what is said to have happened to Theophrastus, when he enquired of an old woman who kept a stall, what was the price of something which he wanted to purchase. After telling him the value of it,- 'Honest stranger,' said she, 'I cannot afford it for less': an answer which nettled him not a little, to think that he who had resided almost all his life at Athens, and spoke the language very correctly, should be taken at last for a foreigner. In the same manner, there is, in my opinion, a certain accent as peculiar to the native citizens of Rome, as the other was to those of Athens. But it is time for us to return home; I mean to the orators of our own youth.
 L Next, therefore, to the two capital speakers above-mentioned, (that is Crassus and Antonius) came L. Philippus,- not indeed till a considerable time afterwards; but still he must be reckoned the next. I do not mean, however, though nobody appeared in the interim who could dispute the prize with him, that he was entitled to the second, or even the third post of honour. For, as in a chariot-race I cannot properly consider him as either the second, or third winner, who has scarcely got clear of the starting-post, before the first has reached the goal; so, among orators, I can scarcely honour him with the name of a competitor, who has been so far distanced by the foremost as hardly to appear on the same ground with him. But yet there were certainly some talents to be observed in Philippus, which any person who considers them, without subjecting them to a comparison with the superior merits of the two before-mentioned, must allow to have been respectable. He had an uncommon freedom of speech, a large fund of humour, great facility in the invention of his sentiments, and a ready and easy manner of expressing them. He was likewise, for the time he lived in, a great adept in the literature of the Greeks; and, in the heat of a debate, he could sting, and gash, as well as ridicule his opponents.
 Almost contemporary with these was L. Gellius, who was not so much to be valued for his positive, as for his negative merits: for he was neither destitute of learning, nor invention, nor unacquainted with the history and the laws of his country; besides which, he had a tolerable freedom of expression. But he happened to live at a time when many excellent orators made their appearance; and yet he served his friends upon many occasions to good purpose: in short, his life was so long, that he was successively contemporary with a variety of orators of different dates, and had an extensive series of practice in judicial causes.  L Nearly at the same time lived D. Brutus, who was fellow-consul with Mamercus [77 B.C.];- and was equally skilled both in the Greek and Roman literature. L. Scipio likewise was not an unskilful speaker; and Cnaeus Pompeius, the son of Sextus, had some reputation as an orator; for his brother Sextus applied the excellent genius he was possessed of, to acquire a thorough knowledge of the civil law, and a complete acquaintance with geometry and the doctrine of the Stoics. A little before these, M. Brutus, and very soon after him, C. Bilienus, who was a man of great natural capacity, made themselves, by nearly the same application, equally eminent in the profession of the law;- the latter would have been chosen consul, if he had not been thwarted by the repeated promotion of Marius, and some other collateral embarrassments which attended his suit.  But the eloquence of Cn. Octavius, which was wholly unknown before his elevation to the consulship [87 B.C.], was effectually displayed, after his preferment to that office, in a great variety of speeches. It is, however, time for us to drop those who were only classed in the number of good speakers, and turn our attention to such as were really orators."
"I think so too," replied Atticus; "for I understood that you meant to give us an account, not of those who took great pains to be eloquent, but of those who were so in reality."
 L "C. Julius then," said I, (the son of Lucius) was certainly superior, not only to his predecessors, but to all his contemporaries, in wit and humour: he was not, indeed, a nervous and striking orator, but, in the elegance, the pleasantry, and the agreeableness of his manner, he has not been excelled by any man. There are some orations of his still extant, in which, as well as in his tragedies, we may discover a pleasing tranquillity of expression with very little energy.  P. Cethegus, his contemporary, had always enough to say on matters of civil regulation; for he had studied and comprehended them with the minutest accuracy; by which means he acquired an equal authority in the senate with those who had served the office of consul, and though he made no figure in a public debate, he was sufficiently experienced in any suit of a private nature. Q. Lucretius Vispillo was an acute speaker, and a good jurist in the same kind of cases: but Ofella was better qualified for a public harangue, than to conduct a judicial process. T. Annius Velina was likewise a man of sense, and a tolerable pleader; and T. Juventius had a great deal of practice in the same way:- the latter indeed was rather too heavy and unanimated, but at the same time he was keen and artful, and knew how to seize every advantage which was offered by his antagonist; to which we may add, that he was far from being a man of no literature, and had an extensive knowledge of the civil law.  L His pupil, P. Orbius, who was almost contemporary with me, had no great practice as a pleader; but his skill in the civil law was nothing inferior to his master's. As to Titus Aufidius, who lived to a great age, he was a professed imitator of both; and was indeed a worthy inoffensive man, but seldom spoke at the bar. His brother, M. Vergilius, who when he was a tribune of the people commenced a prosecution against the general L. Sulla, had as little practice as Aufidius. Vergilius's colleague, P. Magius, was more copious and diffusive.  But of all the orators, or rather ranters, I ever knew, who were totally illiterate and unpolished, and (I might have added) absolutely coarse and rustic, the readiest and keenest, were Q. Sertorius, and C. Gorgonius, the one of consular, and the other of equestrian rank. T. Junius, the son of Lucius, who had served the office of tribune, and prosecuted and convicted P. Sextius of bribery, when he was praetor elect, was a prompt and an easy speaker: he lived in great splendour, and had a very promising genius; and, if he had not been of a weak, and indeed a sickly constitution, he would have advanced much farther than he did in the road to preferment.
Following sections (181-258) →
Attalus' home page | 03.04.14 | Any comments?