Translated by E.Jones (1776); a few words and spellings have been changed. See key to translations for an explanation of the format.
 L I am aware, however, that in the account I have been giving, I have included many who were neither real, nor reputed orators; and that I have omitted others, among those of a remoter date, who well deserved not only to have been mentioned, but to be recorded with honour. But this I was forced to do, for want of better information: for what could I say concerning men of a distant age, none of whose productions are now remaining, and of whom no mention is made in the writings of other people? But I have omitted none of those who have fallen within the compass of my own knowledge, or that I myself remember to have heard.  For I wish to make it appear, that in such a powerful and ancient republic as ours, in which the greatest rewards have been proposed to eloquence, though all have desired to be good speakers, not many have attempted the talk, and but very few have succeeded. But I shall give my opinion of every one in such explicit terms, that it may be easily understood whom I consider as a mere declaimer, and whom as an orator.
About the same time, or rather something later than the above-mentioned Julius, but almost contemporary with each other, were C. Cotta, P. Sulpicius, Q. Varius, Cn. Pomponius, C. Curio, L. Fufius, M. Drusus, and P. Antistius; for no age whatsoever has been distinguished by a more numerous progeny of orators.  L Of these, Cotta and Sulpicius, both in my opinion, and in that of the public at large, had an evident claim to the preference."
"But wherefore," interrupted Atticus, "do you say, in your own opinion, and in that of the public at large? In deciding the merits of an orator, does the opinion of the vulgar, think you, always coincide with that of the learned? Or rather does not one receive the approbation of the populace, while another of a quite opposite character is preferred by those who are better qualified to give their judgment?"
"You have started a very pertinent question," said I; "but, perhaps, the public at large will not approve my answer to it."
 "And what concern need that give you," replied Atticus, "if it meets the approbation of Brutus?"
"Very true," said I; "for I had rather my sentiments on the qualifications of an orator would please you and Brutus, than all the world besides: but as to my eloquence, I should wish this to please every one. For he who speaks in such a manner as to please the people, must inevitably receive the approbation of the learned. As to the truth and propriety of what I hear, I am indeed to judge of this for myself, as well as I am able: but the general merit of an orator must and will be decided by the effects which his eloquence produces.  L For (in my opinion at least) there are three things which an orator should be able to effect: to inform his hearers, to please them, and to move their passions. By what qualities in the speaker each of these, effects may be produced, or by what deficiencies they are either lost, or but imperfectly performed, is an enquiry which none but an artist can resolve: but whether an audience is really so affected by an orator as shall best answer his purpose, must be left to their own feelings, and the decision of the public. The learned, therefore, and the people at large, have never disagreed about who was a good orator, and who was otherwise.  For do you suppose, that while the speakers above-mentioned were in being, they had not the same degree of reputation among the learned as among the populace? If you had enquired of one of the latter, who was the most eloquent man in the city, he might have hesitated whether to say Antonius or Crassus; or this man, perhaps, would have mentioned the one, and that the other. But would any one have given the preference to Philippus, though otherwise a smooth, a sensible, and a facetious speaker?- that Philippus whom we, who form our judgment upon these matters by rules of art, have decided to have been the next in merit? Nobody would, I am certain. For it is the invariable property of an accomplished orator, to be reckoned such in the opinion of the people.
 L Though Antigenidas, therefore, the musician, might say to his pupil, who was but coldly received by the public, Play on, to please me and the Muses;- I shall say to my friend Brutus, when he mounts the rostra, as he frequently does,- Play to me and the people;- that those who hear him may be sensible of the effect of his eloquence, while I can likewise amuse myself with remarking the causes which produce it. When a citizen hears an able orator, he readily credits what is said;- he imagines every thing to be true, he believes and relishes the force of it; and, in short, the persuasive language of the speaker wins his absolute, his hearty assent. You, who are possessed of a critical knowledge of the art, what more will you require?  The listening multitude is charmed and captivated by the force of his eloquence, and feels a pleasure which is not to be resisted. What here can you find to censure? The whole audience is either flushed with joy, or overwhelmed with grief;- it smiles, or weeps,- it loves, or hates,- it scorns or envies,- and, in short, is alternately seized with the various emotions of pity, shame, remorse, resentment, wonder, hope, and fear, according as it is influenced by the language, the sentiments, and the action of the speaker. In this case, what necessity is there to await the sanction of a critic? For here, whatever is approved by the feelings of the people, must be equally so by men of taste and erudition: and, in this instance of public decision, there can be no disagreement between the opinion of the vulgar, and that of the learned.  L For though many good speakers have appeared in every species of oratory, which of them who was thought to excel the rest in the judgment of the populace, was not approved as such by every man of learning? or which of our ancestors, when the choice of a pleader was left to his own option, did not immediately fix it either upon Crassus or Antonius? There were certainly many others to be had: but though any person might have hesitated to which of the above two he should give the preference, there was nobody, I believe, who would have made choice of a third. And in the time of my youth, when Cotta and Hortensius were in such high reputation, who, that had liberty to choose for himself, would have employed any other?"
 "But what occasion is there," said Brutus, "to quote the example of other speakers to support your assertion? have we not seen what has always been the wish of the defendant, and what the judgment of Hortensius, concerning yourself? for whenever the latter shared a cause with you, (and I was often present on those occasions) the peroration, which requires the greatest exertion of the powers of eloquence, was constantly left to you."
"It was," said I; "and Hortensius (induced, I suppose, by the warmth of his friendship) always resigned the post of honour to me. But, as to myself, what rank I hold in the opinion of the people I am unable to determine: as to others, however, I may safely assert, that such of them as were reckoned most eloquent in the judgment of the vulgar, were equally high in the estimation of the learned.  L For even Demosthenes himself could not have said what is related of Antimachus, a poet of Clarus, who, when he was rehearsing to an audience assembled for the purpose, that voluminous piece of his [Lyde] which you are well acquainted with, and was deserted by all his hearers except Plato, in the midst of his performance, cried out, 'I shall proceed notwithstanding; for Plato alone is of more consequence to me than many thousands.' The remark was very just. For an abstruse poem, such as his, only requires the approbation of the judicious few; but a discourse intended for the people should be perfectly suited to their taste. If Demosthenes, therefore, after being deserted by the rest of his audience, had even Plato left to hear him, and no one else, I will answer for it, he could not have uttered another syllable.  Nay, or could you yourself, my Brutus, if the whole assembly was to leave you, as it once did Curio?"
"To open my whole mind to you," replied he, "I must confess that even in such causes as fall under the cognizance of a few select judges, and not of the people at large, if I was to be deserted by the casual crowd who came to hear the trial, I should not be able to proceed."
"The case, then, is plainly this," said I: "as a flute, which will not return its proper sound when it is applied to the lips, would be laid aside by the musician as useless; so, the ears of the people are the instrument upon which an orator is to play: and if these refuse to admit the breath he bestows upon them, or if the hearer, like a restive horse, will not obey the spur, the speaker must cease to exert himself any farther.  L There is, however, the exception to be made; the people sometimes give their approbation to an orator who does not deserve it. But even here they approve what they have had no opportunity of comparing with something better: as, for instance, when they are pleased with an indifferent, or, perhaps, a bad speaker. His abilities satisfy their expectation: they have seen nothing preferable: and, therefore, the merit of the day, whatever it may happen to be, meets their full applause. For even a middling orator, if he is possessed of any degree of eloquence, will always captivate the ear; and the order and beauty of a good discourse has an astonishing effect upon the human mind.
 Accordingly, what common hearer who was present when Q. Scaevola pleaded for M. Coponius, in the cause above-mentioned, would have wished for, or indeed thought it possible to find any thing which was more correct, more elegant, or more complete?  L When he attempted to prove, that, as M'. Curius was left heir to the estate only in case of the death of his future ward before he came of age, he could not possibly be a legal heir, when the expected ward was never born;- what did he leave unsaid of the scrupulous regard which should be paid to the literal meaning of every testament? what of the accuracy and preciseness of the old and established forms of law? and how carefully did he specify the manner in which the will would have been expressed, if it had intended that Curius should be the heir in case of a total default of issue?  in what a masterly manner did he represent the ill consequences to the public, if the letter of a will should be disregarded, its intention decided by arbitrary conjectures, and the written bequests of plain illiterate men, left to the artful interpretation of a pleader?  L how often did he urge the authority of his father, who had always been an advocate for a strict adherence to the letter of a testament? and with what emphasis did he enlarge upon the necessity of supporting the common forms of law? All which particulars he discussed not only very artfully, and skilfully; but in such a neat,- such a close,- and, I may add, in so florid, and so elegant a style, that there was not a single person among the common part of the audience, who could expect any thing more complete, or even think it possible to exist. But when Crassus, who spoke on the opposite side, began with the story of a notable youth, who having found a rowlock as he was rambling along the shore, took it into his head immediately that he would build a ship for it;- and when he applied the tale to Scaevola, who, from one rowlock of an argument represented the decision of a private will to be a matter of such importance as to deserve he attention of the centumviri;- when Crassus, I say, in the beginning of his discourse, had thus taken off the edge of the strongest plea of his antagonist, he entertained his hearers with many other turns of a similar kind; and, in a short time, changed the serious apprehensions of all who were present into open mirth and good-humour; which is one of those three effects which I have just observed an orator should be able to produce. He then proceeded to remark that it was evidently the intention and the will of the testator, that in case, either by death, or default of issue, there should happen to be no son to fall to his charge, the inheritance should devolve to Curius:- that most people in a similar case would express themselves in the same manner, and that it would certainly stand good in law, and always had. By these, and many other observations of the same kind, he gained the assent of his hearers; which is another of the three duties of an orator.  Lastly, he supported, at all events, the true meaning and spirit of a will, against the literal construction: justly observing, that there would be an endless cavilling about words, not only in wills, but in all other legal deeds, if the real intention of the party was to be disregarded: and hinting very smartly, that his friend Scaevola had assumed a most unwarrantable degree of importance, if no person must afterwards presume to write down a legacy, but in the musty form which he himself might please to prescribe. As he enlarged on each of these arguments with great force and propriety, supported them by a number of precedents, exhibited them in a variety of views, and enlivened them with many occasional turns of wit and pleasantry, he gained so much applause, and gave such general satisfaction, that it was scarcely remembered that any thing had been said on the contrary side of the question. This was the third, and the most important duty we assigned to an orator.
"Here, if one of the people was to be judge, the same person who had heard the first speaker with a degree of admiration, would, on hearing the second, despise himself for his former want of judgment:- whereas a man of taste and erudition, on hearing Scaevola, would have observed that he was really master of a rich and ornamental style; but if, on comparing the manner in which each of them concluded his cause, it was to be enquired which of the two was the best orator, the decision of the man of learning would not have differed from that of the vulgar.  L What advantage, then, it will be said, has the skilful critic over the illiterate hearer? A great and very important advantage; if it is indeed a matter of any consequence, to be able to discover by what means that, which is the true and real end of speaking, is either obtained or lost. He has likewise this additional superiority, that when two or more orators, as has frequently happened, have shared the applauses of the public, he can judge, on a careful observation of the principal merits of each, what is the most perfect character of eloquence: since whatever does not meet the approbation of the people, must be equally condemned by a more intelligent hearer. For as it is easily understood by the sound of a harp, whether the strings are skilfully touched; so it may likewise be discovered from the manner in which the passions of an audience are affected, how far the speaker is able to command them.  A man, therefore, who is a real connoisseur in the art, can sometimes by a single glance as he passes by, and without stopping to listen attentively to what is said, form a tolerable judgment of the ability of the speaker. When he observes any of the jurors either yawning, or speaking to the person who is next to him, or looking carelessly about him, or sending to enquire the time of day, or pressing the quaestor to dismiss the court; he concludes very naturally that the cause upon trial is not pleaded by an orator who understands how to apply the powers of language to the passions of the judges, as a skilful musician applies his fingers to the harp. On the other hand, if, as he passes by, he beholds the judges looking attentively before them, as if they were either receiving some material information, or visibly approved what they had already heard- if he sees them listening to the voice of the pleader with a kind of ecstasy like a fond bird to some melodious tune;- and, above all, if he discovers in their looks any strong indications of pity, abhorrence, or any other emotion of the mind;- though he should not be near enough to hear a single word, he immediately discovers that the cause is managed by a real orator, who is either performing, or has already played his part to good purpose."
 L After I had concluded these digressive remarks, my two friends were kind enough to signify their approbation, and I resumed my subject.- "As this digression," said I, "took its rise from Cotta and Sulpicius, whom I mentioned as the two most approved orators of the age they lived in, I shall first return to them, and afterwards notice the rest in their proper order, according to the plan we began upon. I have already observed that there are two classes of good orators (for we have no concern with any others) of which the former are distinguished by the simple neatness and brevity of their language, and the latter by their copious dignity and elevation: but although the preference must always be given to that which is great and striking; yet, in speakers of real merit, whatever is most perfect of the kind, is justly entitled to our commendation.  It must, however, be observed, that the close and simple orator should be careful not to sink into a dryness and poverty of expression; while, on the other hand, the copious and more stately speaker should be equally on his guard against a swelling and empty parade of words.
To begin with Cotta, he had a ready, quick invention, and spoke correctly and freely; and as he very prudently avoided every forcible exertion of his voice on account of the weakness of his lungs, so his language was equally adapted to the delicacy of his constitution. There was nothing in his style but what was neat, compact, and healthy; and (what may justly be considered as his greatest excellence) though he was scarcely able, and therefore never attempted to force the passions of the judges by a strong and spirited elocution, yet he managed them so artfully, that the gentle emotions he raised in them, answered exactly the same purpose, and produced the same effect, as the violent ones which were excited by Sulpicius.  L For Sulpicius was really the most striking, and, if I may be allowed the expression, the most tragical orator I ever heard:- his voice was strong and sonorous, and yet sweet, and flowing:- his gesture, and the sway of his body, was graceful and ornamental, but in such a style as to appear to have been formed for the forum, and not for the stage:- and his language, though rapid and voluble, was neither loose nor exuberant. He was a professed imitator of Crassus, while Cotta chose Antonius for his model: but the latter wanted the force of Antonius, and the former the agreeable humour of Crassus."
 "How extremely difficult, then," said Brutus, "must be the art of speaking, when such consummate orators as these were each of them destitute of one of its principal beauties!"
"We may likewise observe," said I, "in the present instance, that two orators may have the highest degree of merit, who are totally unlike each other: for none could be more so than Cotta and Sulpicius, and yet both of them were far superior to any of their contemporaries. It is therefore the business of every intelligent masster to take notice what is the natural bent of his pupil's capacity; and, taking that for his guide, to imitate the conduct of Isocrates with his two scholars Theopompus and Ephorus, who, after remarking the lively genius of the former, and the mild and timid bashfulness of the latter, is reported to have said that he applied a spur to the one, and a curb to the other.  L The orations now extant, which bear the name of Sulpicius, are supposed to have been written after his decease by my contemporary P. Canutius, a man indeed of inferior rank, but who, in my mind, had a great command of language. But we have not a single speech of Sulpicius that was really his own: for I have often heard him say, that he neither had, nor ever could commit any thing of the kind to writing. And as to Cotta's speech in defence of himself, called a vindication of the Varian Law, it was composed, at his own request, by L. Aelius. This Aelius was a man of merit, and a very worthy Roman knight, who was thoroughly versed in the Greek and Roman literature. He had likewise a critical knowledge of the antiquities of his country, both as to the date and particulars of every new improvement, and every memorable transaction, and was perfectly well read in the ancient writers;- a branch of learning in which he was succeeded by our friend Varro, a man of genius, and of the most extensive erudition, who afterwards enlarged the plan by many valuable collections of his own, and gave a much fuller and more elegant system of it to the public.  For Aelius himself chose to assume the character of a Stoic, and neither aimed to be, nor ever was an orator: but he composed several orations for other people to pronounce; as for Q. Metellus (?) son of [...], Q. Caepio, and Q. Pompeius Rufus; though the latter composed those speeches himself which he spoke in his own defence, but not without the assistance of Aelius.  L For I myself was present at the writing of them, in the younger part of my life, when I used to attend Aelius for the benefit of his instructions. But I am surprised, that Cotta, who was really an excellent orator, and a man of good learning, should be willing that the trifling speeches of Aelius mould be published to the world as his.
To the two above-mentioned, no third person of the same age was esteemed an equal: Pomponius, however, was a speaker much to my taste; or, at least, I have very little fault to find with him. But there was no employment for any in capital causes, excepting for those I have already mentioned; because Antonius, who was always courted on these occasions, was very ready to give his service; and Crassus, though not so compliable, generally consented, on any pressing entreaty, to give his. Those who had not interest enough to engage either of these, commonly applied to Philippus, or Caesar; but when Cotta and Sulpicius were at liberty, they generally had the preference: so that all the causes in which any honour was to be acquired, were pleaded by these six orators. We may add, that trials were not so frequent then as they are at present; neither did people employ, as they do now, several pleaders on the same side of the question,- a practice which is attended with many disadvantages.  For hereby we are often obliged to speak in reply to those whom we had not an opportunity of hearing; in which case, what has been alleged on the opposite side, is often represented to us either falsely or imperfectly; and besides, it is a very material circumstance, that I myself should be present to see with what countenance my antagonist supports his allegations, and, still more so, to observe the effect of every part of his discourse upon the audience. And as every defence should be conducted upon one uniform plan, nothing can be more improperly contrived, than to re-commence it by assigning the peroration to a second advocate.  L For every cause can have but one natural introduction and conclusion; and all the other parts of it, like the members of an animal body, will best retain their proper strength and beauty, when they are regularly disposed and connected. We may add, that as it is very difficult in a single oration of any length, to avoid saying something which does not comport with the rest of it so well as it ought to do, how much more difficult must it be to contrive that nothing shall be said, which does not tally exactly with the speech of another person who has spoken before you? But as it certainly requires more labour to plead a whole cause, than only a part of it, and as many advantageous connections are formed by assisting in a suit in which several persons are interested, the custom, however preposterous in itself, has been readily adopted.
 There were some, however, who esteemed Curio the third best orator of the age; perhaps, because his language was brilliant and pompous, and because he had a habit (for which I suppose he was indebted to his domestic education) of expressing himself with tolerable correctness: for he was a man of very little learning. But it is a circumstance of great importance, what sort of people we are used to converse with at home, especially in the more early part of life; and what sort of language we have been accustomed to hear from our tutors and parents, not excepting the mother.  L We have all read the letters of Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi; and are satisfied, that her sons were not so much nurtured in their mother's lap, as in the elegance and purity of her language. I have often too enjoyed the agreeable conversation of Laelia, the daughter of Caius, and observed in her a strong tincture of her father's elegance. I have likewise conversed with his two daughters, the Muciae, and his granddaughters, the two Liciniae, with one of whom (the wife of Scipio) you, my Brutus, I believe, have sometimes been in company."
"I have," replied he, "and was much pleased with her conversation; and the more so, because she was the daughter of Crassus."
 "And what think you," said I, "of Crassus, the son of that Licinia, who was adopted by Crassus in his will?"
"He is said," replied he, "to have been a man of great genius: and the Scipio you have mentioned, who was my colleague, likewise appears to me to have been a good speaker, and an elegant companion."
"Your opinion, my Brutus," said I, "is very just. For this family, if I may be allowed the expression, seems to have been the offspring of Wisdom. As to their two grandfathers, Scipio and Crassus, we have taken notice of them already: as we also have of their great grandfathers, Q. Metellus, who had four sons,- P. Scipio, who, when a private citizen, freed the Republic from the arbitrary influence of T. Gracchus,- and Q. Scaevola, the augur, who was the ablest and most affable jurist of his time.  L And lastly, how illustrious are the names of their next immediate progenitors, P. Scipio, who was twice consul, and was called the Corculum [darling of the people],- and C. Laelius, who was esteemed the wisest of men?"
"A noble stock indeed!" cries Brutus, "onto which the wisdom of many has been successively grafted, like a number of scions on the same tree!"
"I have likewise a suspicion," replied I, "(if we may compare small things with great) that Curio's family, though he himself was left an orphan, was indebted to his father's instruction, and good example, for the habitual purity of their language: and so much the more, because, of all those who were held in any estimation for their eloquence, I never knew one who was so totally rude and unskilled in every branch of liberal science.  He had not read a single poet, or studied a single orator; and he knew little or nothing either of public, Civil, or Common law. We might say almost the same, indeed, of several others, and some of them very able orators, who (we know) were but little acquainted with these useful parts of knowledge; as, for instance, of Sulpicius and Antonius. But this deficiency was supplied in them by an elaborate knowledge of the art of Speaking; and there was not one of them who was totally unqualified in any of the five principal parts [invention, disposition, elocution, memory, and pronunciation] of which it is composed; for whenever this is the case, (and it matters not in which of those parts it happens) it entirely incapacitates a man to shine as an orator. Some, however, excelled in one part, and some in another.  L Thus Antonius could readily invent such arguments as were most in point, and afterwards digest and arrange them to the best advantage; and he could likewise retain the plan he had formed with great exactness: but his chief merit was the goodness of his delivery, in which he was justly allowed to excel. In some of these qualifications he was upon an equal footing with Crassus, and in others he was superior: but then the language of Crassus was indisputably preferable to his. In the same manner, it cannot be said that either Sulpicius or Cotta, or any other speaker of repute, was absolutely deficient in any one of the five parts of oratory.
 But we may justly infer from the example of Curio, that nothing will more recommend an orator, than a brilliant and ready flow of expression; for he was remarkably dull in the invention, and very loose and unconnected in the disposition of his arguments. The two remaining parts are Pronunciation and Memory; in each of which he was so poorly qualified, as to excite the laughter and the ridicule of his hearers. His gesture was really such as C. Julius represented it, in a severe sarcasm, that will never be forgotten; for as he was swaying and reeling his whole body from side to side, Julius enquired very merrily, who it was that was speaking from a boat. To the same purpose was the jest of Cn. Sicinius, a very vulgar sort of man, but exceedingly humorous, which was the only qualification he had to recommend him as an orator.  L When this man, as tribune of the people, had summoned Curio and Octavius, who were then Consuls [76 B.C.], into the Forum, and Curio had delivered a tedious harangue, while Octavius sat silently by him, wrapt up in flannels, and besmeared with ointments, to ease the pain of the gout;- 'Octavius,' said he, 'you are infinitely obliged to your colleague; for if he had not tossed and flung himself about today, in the manner he did, you would have certainly have been devoured by the flies.' As to his memory, it was so extremely treacherous, that after he had divided his subject into three general heads, he would sometimes, in the course of speaking, either add a fourth, or omit the third. In a capital trial, in which I had pleaded for Titinia, the daughter of Cotta, when he attempted to reply to me in defence of Ser. Naevius, he suddenly forgot every thing he had intended to say, and attributed it to the pretended witchcraft, and magic artifices of Titinia.  These were undoubted proofs of the weakness of his memory. But, what is still more inexcusable, he sometimes forgot, even in his written treatises, what he had mentioned but a little before. Thus, in a book of his, in which he introduces himself as entering into conversation with our friend Pansa, and his son Curio, when he was walking home from the senate-house; the senate is supposed to have been summoned by Caesar in his first consulship [59 B.C.]; and the whole conversation arises from the son's enquiry what the senate had resolved upon. Curio launches out into a long invective against the conduct of Caesar, and, as is generally the custom in dialogues, the parties are engaged in a close dispute on the subject: but very unhappily, though the conversation commences at the breaking up of the senate which Caesar held when he was first consul, the author censures those very actions of the same Caesar, which did not happen till the next, and several other succeeding years of his government in Gaul."
 L "Is it possible then," said Brutus, with an air of surprise, "that any man, (and especially in a written performance) could be so forgetful as not to discover, upon a subsequent perusal of his own work, what an egregious blunder he had committed?"
"Very true," said I; "for if he wrote with a design to discredit the measures which he represents in such an odious light, nothing could be more stupid than not to commence his dialogue at a period which was subsequent to those measures. But he so entirely forgets himself, as to tell us, that he did not choose to attend a Senate which was held in one of Caesar's future consulships, in the very same dialogue in which he introduces himself as returning home from a Senate which was held in his first consulship. It cannot, therefore, be wondered at, that he who was so remarkably defective in a faculty which is the steward of our other intellectual powers, as to forget, even in a written treatise, a material circumstance which he had mentioned but a little before, should find his memory fail him, as it generally did, in a sudden and unpremeditated harangue.  It accordingly happened, though he had many connections, and was fond of speaking in public, that few causes were entrusted to his management. But, among his contemporaries, he was esteemed next in merit to the first orators of the age; and that merely, as I said before, for his good choice of words, and his uncommon readiness, and great fluency of expression. His orations, therefore, may deserve a cursory perusal. It is true, indeed, they are much too languid and spiritless; but they may yet be of service to enlarge and improve an accomplishment, of which he certainly had a moderate share; and which has so much force and efficacy, that it gave Curio the appearance and reputation of an orator, without the assistance of any other good quality.
 L But to return to our subject,- C. Carbo, of the same age, was likewise reckoned an orator of the second class: he was the son, indeed, of the truly eloquent man before-mentioned, but was far from being an acute speaker himself: he was, however, esteemed an orator. His language was tolerably nervous, he spoke with ease,- and there was an air of authority in his address that was perfectly natural. But Q. Varius was a man of quicker invention, and, at the same time, had an equal freedom of expression: besides which, he had a bold and spirited delivery, and a vein of elocution which was neither poor, nor coarse and vulgar;- in short, you need not hesitate to pronounce him an orator. Cn. Pomponius was a vehement, a rousing, and a fierce and eager speaker, and more inclined to act the part of a prosecutor, than of an advocate.  But far inferior to these was L. Fufius; though his application was, in some measure, rewarded by the success of his prosecution against M'. Aquilius. For as to M. Drusus, your great uncle, who spoke like an orator only upon matters of government;- L. Lucullus, who was indeed an artful speaker, and your father, my Brutus, who was well acquainted with the public and civil law; - M. Lucullus, and M. Octavius, the son of Cnaeus, who was a man of so much authority and eloquence, as to procure the repeal of Sempronius's corn-act, by the vote of a full assembly of the people;- Cn. Octavius, the son of Marcus,- and M. Cato, the father, and Q. Catulus, the son;- we must excuse these (if I may so express myself) from the fatigues and dangers of the field,- that is, from the management of judicial causes, and place them in garrison over the general interests of the Republic, a duty to which they seem to have been sufficiently adequate.  L I should have assigned the same post to Q. Caepio, if he had not been so violently attached to the equestrian order, as to set himself at variance with the senate. I have also remarked, that Cn. Carbo, M. Marius, and several others of the same stamp, who would not have merited the attention of an audience that had any taste for elegance, were extremely well suited to address a tumultuous crowd. In the same class, (if I may be allowed to interrupt the series of my narrative) L. Quintius lately made his appearance: though Palicanus, it must be owned, was still better adapted to please the ears of the populace.
 But, as I have mentioned this kind [of inferior speaker], I must be so just to L. Apuleius Saturninus, as to observe that, of all the factious declaimers since the time of the Gracchi, he was generally esteemed the ablest: and yet he caught the attention of the public, more by his appearance, his gesture, and his dress, than by any real fluency of expression, or even a tolerable share of good sense. But C. Servilius Glaucia, though the most abandoned wretch that ever existed, was very keen and artful, and excessively humorous; and notwithstanding the meanness of his birth, and the depravity of his life, he would have been advanced to the dignity of a consul in his praetorship, if it had been judged lawful to admit his suit: for the populace were entirely at his devotion, and he had secured the interest of the knights, by an act he had procured in their favour. He was publicly put to death, while he was praetor, on the same day as the tribune Saturninus, in the consulship of Marius and Flaccus [100 B.C.]; and bore a near resemblance to Hyperbolus, the Athenian, whose profligacy was so severely stigmatized in the old Attic comedies.  L These were succeeded by Sext. Titius, who was indeed a voluble speaker, and possessed a ready comprehension, but he was so loose and effeminate in his gesture, as to furnish room for the invention of a dance, which was called the Titian jig: so careful should we be to avoid every oddity in our manner of speaking, which may afterwards be exposed to ridicule by a ludicrous imitation.
"But we have rambled back insensibly to a period which has been already examined: let us, therefore, return to that which we were reviewing a little before.  Contemporary with Sulpicius was P. Antistius,- a plausible declaimer, who, after being silent for several years, and exposed, (as he often was) not only to the contempt, but the derision of his hearers, first spoke with applause in his tribunate, in a real and very interesting protest against the illegal application of C. Julius for the consulship; and that so much the more, because though Sulpicius himself, who then happened to be his colleague, spoke on the same side of the debate, Antistius argued more copiously, and to better purpose. This raised his reputation so high, that many, and (soon afterwards) every cause of importance, was eagerly recommended to his patronage.  L To speak the truth, he had a quick conception, a methodical judgment, and a retentive memory; and though his language was not much embellished, it was very far from being low. In short, his style was easy, and flowing, and his appearance rather refined than otherwise: but his action was a little defective, partly through the disagreeable tone of his voice, and partly by a few ridiculous gestures, of which he could not entirely break himself. He flourished in the time between the flight and the return of Sulla, when the Republic was deprived of a regular administration of justice, and of its former dignity and splendour. But the very favourable reception he met with was, in some measure, owing to the great scarcity of good orators which then prevailed in the forum. For Sulpicius was dead; Cotta and Curio were abroad; and no pleaders of any eminence were left but Carbo and Pomponius, from each of whom he easily carried off the palm.  His nearest successor in the following age was L. Sisenna, who was a man of learning, had a taste for the liberal sciences, spoke the Roman language with accuracy, was well acquainted with the laws and constitution of his country, and had a tolerable share of wit; but he was not a speaker of any great application, or extensive practice; and as he happened to live in the intermediate time between the appearance of Sulpicius and Hortensius, he was unable to equal the former, and forced to yield to the superior talents of the latter. We may easily form a judgment of his abilities from the historical works he has left behind him; which, though evidently preferable to any thing of the kind which had appeared before, may serve as a proof that he was far below the standard of perfection, and that this species of composition had not then been improved to any great degree of excellence among the Romans.
 L But the genius of Q. Hortensius, even in his early youth, like one of Pheidias's statues, was no sooner beheld than it was universally admired! He spoke his first oration in the forum in the consulship of L. Crassus and Q. Scaevola [95 B.C.], to whom it was personally addressed; and though he was then only nineteen years old, he went away with the hearty approbation not only of the audience in general, but of the two Consuls themselves, who were the most intelligent judges in the whole city. He died in the consulship of L. Paullus and C. Marcellus [50 B.C.]; from which it appears that he was four-and-forty years a pleader. We shall review his character more at large in the sequel: but in this part of my history, I chose to include him in the number of orators who were rather of an earlier date. This indeed must necessarily happen to all whose lives are of any considerable length: for they are equally liable to a comparison with their elders and their juniors; as in the case of the poet Accius, who says that both he and Pacuvius applied themselves to the cultivation of the drama under the same aediles; though, at the time, the one was eighty, and the other only thirty years old.  Thus Hortensius may be paralleled not only with those who were properly his contemporaries, but with me, and you, my Brutus, and with others of a prior date. For he began to speak in public while Crassus was living but his fame increased when he appeared as a joint advocate with Antonius and Philippus (at that time in the decline of life) in defence of Cn. Pompeius,- a cause in which (though a mere youth) he distinguished himself above the rest. He may therefore be included in the list of those whom I have placed in the time of Sulpicius; but among his exact contemporaries, such as M. Piso, M. Crassus, Cn. Lentulus, and P. Lentulus Sura, he excelled beyond the reach of competition; and after these he happened upon me, in the early part of my life (for I was eight years younger than himself) and spent a number of years with me in pursuit of the same glory [of eminence as an orator]: and at last, (a little before his death) he once pleaded with you, in defence of Appius Claudius, as I have frequently done for others.  L Thus you see, my Brutus, I am come insensibly to yourself, though there was undoubtedly a great variety of orators between my first appearance as a speaker, and yours. But as I determined, when we began the conversation, to make no mention of those among them who are still living, to prevent your enquiring too minutely what is my opinion concerning each; I shall confine myself to such as are now no more."
"That is not the true reason," said Brutus, "why you choose to be silent about the living."
"What then do you suppose it to be," said I?
"You are only fearful," replied he, "that your remarks should afterwards be mentioned by us in other company, and that, by this means, you should expose yourself to the resentment of those, whom you may not think it worth your while to notice."
"Indeed," answered I, "I have not the least doubt of your discretion."
"Neither have you any reason," said he; "but after all, I suppose, you had rather be silent yourself, than rely upon our taciturnity."
 "To confess the truth," replied I, "when I first entered upon the subject, I never imagined that I should have extended it to the age now before us; but I have been drawn by the continued series of history up to our recent contemporaries."
"Introduce, then," said he, "those intermediate orators you may think worthy of our notice: and afterwards let us return to yourself, and Hortensius."
"To Hortensius," replied I, "with all my heart; but as to my own character, I shall leave it to other people to examine, if they choose to take the trouble."
"I can by no means agree to that," said he: "for though every part of the account you have favoured us with, has entertained me very agreeably, it now begins to seem tedious, because I am impatient to hear something of yourself: I do not mean the wonderful qualities, but the progressive steps, and advances of your eloquence; for the former are sufficiently known already both to me, and the whole world."
 L "As you do not require me," said I, "to sound the praises of my own genius, but only to describe my labour and application to improve it, your request shall be complied with. But to preserve the order of my narrative, I shall first introduce such other speakers as I think ought to be noticed beforehand: and I shall begin with M. Crassus, who was contemporary with Hortensius. With a tolerable share of learning, and a very moderate capacity, his application, assiduity, and interest, procured him a place among the ablest pleaders of the time for several years. His language was pure, his expression neither low nor unbecoming, and his ideas well digested: but he had nothing in him that was florid, and ornamental; and the real ardour of his mind was not supported by any vigorous exertion of his voice, so that he pronounced almost every thing in the same uniform tone. His equal, and professed antagonist C. Fimbria was not able to maintain his character so long; and though he always spoke with a strong and elevated voice, and poured forth a rapid torrent of well-chosen expressions, he was so immoderately vehement that you might justly be surprised that the people should have been so absent and inattentive as to admit a madman, like him, into the list of orators.  As to Cn. Lentulus, his action acquired him a reputation for his eloquence very far beyond his real abilities: for though he was not a man of any great penetration (notwithstanding he carried the appearance of it in his countenance) nor possessed any real fluency of expression (though he was equally specious in this respect as in the former)- yet by his sudden breaks, and exclamations, he affected such an ironical air of surprise, with a sweet and sonorous turn of voice, and his whole action was so warm and lively, that his defects were scarcely noticed. For as Curio acquired the reputation of an orator with no other quality than a tolerable freedom of speech;  L so Cn. Lentulus concealed the mediocrity of his other accomplishments by his action, which was really excellent. Much the same might be said of P. Lentulus, whose poverty of invention and expression was secured from notice by the mere dignity of his presence, his correct and graceful gesture, and the strength and sweetness of his voice: and his merit depended so entirely upon his action, that he was more deficient in every other quality than his namesake [Cn. Lentulus].
 But M. Piso derived all his talents from his erudition; for he was much better versed in the Greek literature than any of his predecessors. He had, however, a natural keenness of discernment, which he greatly improved by art, and exerted with great address and dexterity, though in very indifferent language: but he was frequently warm and choleric, sometimes cold and insipid, and now and then rather smart and humorous. He did not long support the fatigue, and emulous contention of the forum; partly, on account of the weakness of his constitution; and partly, because he could not submit to the follies and impertinencies of the common people (which we orators are forced to swallow) either, as it was generally supposed, from a peculiar moroseness of temper, or from a liberal and ingenuous pride of heart. After acquiring, therefore, in his youth, a tolerable degree of reputation, his character began to sink: but in the trial of the Vestals, he again recovered it with some additional lustre, and being thus recalled to the theatre of eloquence, he kept his rank, as long as he was able to support the fatigue of it; after which his credit declined, in proportion as he remitted his application.  L P. Murena had a moderate genius, but was passionately fond of the study of antiquity; he applied himself with equal diligence to literature, in which he was tolerably versed; in short, he was a man of great industry, and took the utmost pains to distinguish himself.- C. Censorinus had a good stock of Greek literature, explained whatever he advanced with great neatness and perspicuity, and had a graceful action, but was too cold and unanimated for the Forum.- L. Turius with a very indifferent genius, but the most indefatigable application, spoke in public very often, in the best manner he was able; and, accordingly, he only wanted the votes of a few centuries to promote him to the consulship.  C. Macer was never a man of much interest or authority, but was one of the most active pleaders of his time; and if his life, his manners, and his very looks, had not ruined the credit of his genius, he would have ranked higher in the lift of orators. He was neither copious, nor dry and barren; neither neat and embellished, nor wholly inelegant; and his voice, his gesture, and every part of his action, was without any grace: but in inventing and digesting his ideas, he had a wonderful accuracy, such as no man I ever saw either possessed or exerted in a more eminent degree; and yet, some how, he displayed it rather with the air of a quibbler, than of an orator. Though he had acquired some reputation in public causes, he appeared to most advantage and was most courted and employed in private ones.  L C. Piso, who comes next in order, had scarcely any exertion, but he was a speaker of a very convertible style; and though, in fact, he was far from being slow of invention, he had more penetration in his look and appearance than he really possessed.- His contemporary M'. Glabrio, though carefully instructed by his grandfather Scaevola, was prevented from distinguishing himself by his natural indolence and want of attention.- L. Torquatus, on the contrary, had an elegant turn of expression, and a clear comprehension, and was perfectly refined and well-bred in his whole manner.- But Cn. Pompeius, my contemporary, a man who was born to excel in every thing, would have acquired a more distinguished reputation for his eloquence, if he had not been diverted from the pursuit of it by the more dazzling charms of military fame. His language was naturally bold and elevated, and he was always master of his subject; and as to his powers of enunciation, his voice was sonorous and manly, and his gesture noble, and full of dignity.  D. Silanus, another of my contemporaries, and your father-in-law, was not a man of much application, but he had a very competent share of discernment, and eloquence.- Q. Pompeius, the son of Aulus, who had the title of Bithynicus, and was about two years older than myself, was, to my own knowledge, remarkably fond of the study of eloquence, had an uncommon stock of learning, and was a man of indefatigable industry and perseverance: for he was connected with me and M. Piso, not only as an intimate acquaintance, but as an associate in our studies, and private exercises. His elocution was but poorly recommended by his action: for though the former was sufficiently copious and diffusive, there was nothing graceful in the latter.  L His contemporary, P. Autronius, had a very clear, and strong voice; but he was distinguished by no other accomplishment.- L. Octavius Reatinus died in his youth, while he was in full practice: but he was accustomed to speak with more assurance, than ability.- C. Staienus, who changed his name into Aelius by a kind of self-adoption, was a warm, an abusive, and indeed a furious speaker; which was so agreeable to the taste of many, that he would have risen to some rank in the state, if it had not been for a crime of which he was clearly convicted, and for which he afterwards suffered.  At the same time were the two brothers C. and L. Caepasius, who, though men of an obscure family, and little previous consequence, were yet, by mere dint of application, suddenly promoted to the quaestorship, with no other recommendation than a provincial and unpolished kind of oratory.- That I may not seem to have put a wilful slight on anyone with a voice, I must also notice C. Cosconius Calidianus, who, without any discernment, amused the people with a rapidity of language (if such it might be called) which he attended with a perpetual hurry of action, and a most violent exertion of his voice.- Of much the same cast was Q. Arrius, who may be considered as a second-hand M. Crassus. He is a striking proof of what consequence it is in such a city as ours to devote one's-self to the occasions of the many, and to be as active as possible in promoting their safety, or their honour.  L For by these means, though of the lowest parentage, having raised himself to offices of rank, and to considerable wealth and influence, he likewise acquired the reputation of a tolerable patron, without either learning or abilities. But as inexperienced champions, who, from a passionate desire to distinguish themselves in the Olympic games, can bear the blows of their opponents without shrinking, are often overpowered by the heat of the sun, when it is increased by the reflection of the sand; so he, who had hitherto supported even the sharpest encounters with good success, could not stand the severity of that year of judicial contest, which blazed upon him like a summer's sun."
 "Upon my word," cried Atticus, "you are now treating us with the very dregs of oratory, and you have entertained us in this manner for some time: but I did not offer to interrupt you, because I never dreamed you would have descended so low as to mention the Staieni and Autronii!"
"As I have been speaking of the dead, you will not imagine, I suppose," said I, "that I have done it to court their favour: but in pursuing the order of history, I was necessarily led by degrees to a period of time which falls within the compass of our own knowledge. But I wish it to be noticed, that after recounting all who ever ventured to speak in public, we find but few, (very few indeed!) whose names are worth recording; and not many who had even the repute of being orators. Let us, however, return to our subject.  L T. Torquatus, then, the son of Titus, was a man of learning, (which he first acquired in the school of Molon in Rhodes,) and of a free and easy elocution which he received from Nature. If he had lived to a proper age, he would have been chosen consul, without any canvassing; but he had more ability for speaking than inclination; so that, in fact, he did not do justice to the art he professed; and yet he was never wanting to his duty, either in the private causes of his friends and dependents, or in his senatorial capacity.-  My townsman too, P. Pontidius, pleaded a number of private causes. He had a rapidity of expression, and a tolerable quickness of comprehension: but he was very warm, and indeed rather too choleric and irascible; so that he often wrangled not only with his antagonist, but (what appears very strange) with the judge himself, whom it was rather his business to sooth and gratify.- M. Messala, who was something younger than myself, was far from being a poor and an abject pleader, and yet he was not a very embellished one. He was judicious, penetrating, and wary, very exact in digesting and methodizing his subject, and a man of uncommon diligence and application, and of very extensive practice.  L As to the two Metelli (Celer and Nepos) these also had a moderate share of employment at the bar; but being destitute neither of learning nor abilities, they chiefly applied themselves (and with some success) to debates of a more popular kind.- But Cn. Lentulus Marcellinus, who was never reckoned a bad speaker, was esteemed a very eloquent one in his consulship [56 B.C.]. He wanted neither sentiment, nor expression; his voice was sweet and sonorous; and he had a sufficient stock of humour.- C. Memmius, the son of Lucius, was a perfect adept in the literature of the Greeks; but he had an insuperable contempt for the literature of the Romans. He was a neat and polished speaker, and had a sweet and harmonious turn of expression; but as he was equally averse to every laborious effort either of the mind or the tongue, his eloquence declined in proportion as he lessened his application."
 "But I heartily wish," said Brutus, "that you would give us your opinion of those orators who are still living; or, if you are determined to say nothing of the rest, there are two at least, (that is Caesar and Marcellus, whom I have often heard you speak of with the highest approbation) whose characters would give me as much entertainment as any of those you have already specified."
"But why," answered I, "would you expect that I would give you my opinion of men who are as well known to yourself as to me?"
"Marcellus, indeed," replied he, "I am very well acquainted with; but as to Caesar, I know little of him.  L For I have heard the former very often: but, by the time I was able to judge for myself, the latter had set out for his province."
"Mighty well," said I; "and what think you of him you have heard so often?"
"What else can I think," replied he, "but that you will soon have an orator, who will very nearly resemble yourself?"
"If that is the case," answered I, "pray think of him as favourably as you can."
"I do," said he; "for Marcellus pleases me very highly; and not without reason. He is absolutely master of his trade, and, neglecting every other profession, has applied himself solely to this; and, for that purpose, has persevered in the rigorous task of composing a daily essay in writing.  His words are well chosen; his language is full and copious; and every thing he says receives an additional ornament from the graceful tone of his voice, and the dignity of his action. In short, he is so complete an orator, that there is no quality I know of, in which I can think him deficient. But he is still more to be admired, for being able, in these unhappy times, (which are marked with a distress that, by some cruel fatality, has overwhelmed us all) to console himself, as opportunity offers, with the consciousness of his own integrity, and by the frequent renewal of his literary pursuits. I saw him lately at Mytilene; and then (as I have already hinted) I saw him a thorough man. For though I had before discovered in him a strong resemblance of yourself, the likeness was much improved, after he was enriched by the instructions of your learned, and very intimate friend Cratippus."
 L "Though I acknowledge," said I, "that I have listened with pleasure to your eulogies on a very worthy man, for whom I have the warmest esteem, they have led me insensibly to the recollection of our common miseries, which our present conversation was intended to suspend. But I would willingly hear what is Atticus's opinion of Caesar."
"Upon my word," replied Atticus, "you are wonderfully consistent with your plan, to say nothing yourself of the living: and indeed, if you were to deal with them, as you already have with the dead, and say something of every paltry fellow that occurs to your memory, you would plague us with Autronii and Staieni without end. But though you might possibly have it in view not to encumber yourself with such a numerous crowd of insignificant wretches; or perhaps, to avoid giving any one room to complain that he was either unnoticed, or not extolled according to his imaginary merit; yet, certainly, you might have said something of Caesar; especially, as your opinion of his abilities is well known to every body, and his concerning yours is very far from being a secret.  But, however," said he, (addressing himself to Brutus) "I really think of Caesar, and every body else says the same of this perceptive judge [of the art of speaking], that he has the purest and the most elegant command of the Roman language of all the orators that have yet appeared: and that not merely by domestic habit, as we have lately heard it observed of the families of the Laelii and the Mucii, (though even here, I believe, this might partly have been the case) but he chiefly acquired and brought it to its present perfection, by a studious application to the most intricate and refined branches of literature, and by a careful and constant attention to the purity of his style.  L But that he, who, involved as he was in a perpetual hurry of business, could dedicate to you, my Cicero, a detailed Treatise on the Art of Speaking Latin; that he, who, in the first book of it, laid it down as an axiom, that an accurate choice of words is the foundation of eloquence; and who has bestowed," said he, (addressing himself again to Brutus) "the highest encomiums on this friend of ours, who yet chooses to leave Caesar's character to me;- that he should be a perfect master of the language of polite conservation, is a circumstance which is almost too obvious to be mentioned."
"I said, the highest encomiums," pursued Atticus, "because he says in so many words, when he addresses himself to Cicero- if others have bestowed all their time and attention to acquire a habit of expressing themselves with ease and correctness, how much is the name and dignity of the Roman people indebted to you, who are the highest pattern, and indeed the first inventor of that rich fertility of language which distinguishes your performances?"
 "Indeed," said Brutus, "I think he has extolled your merit in a very friendly, and a very magnificent style: for you are not only the highest pattern, and even the first inventor of all our fertility of language, which alone is praise enough to content any reasonable man, but you have added fresh honours to the name and dignity of the Roman people; for the very excellence in which we had hitherto been conquered by the vanquished Greeks, has now been either wrested from their hands, or equally shared, at least, between us and them.  L So that I prefer this honourable testimony of Caesar, I will not say to the public thanksgiving, which was decreed for your own military services, but to the triumphs of many heroes."
"Very true," replied I, "provided this honourable testimony was really the voice of Caesar's judgment, and not of his friendship: for he certainly has added more to the dignity of the Roman people, whoever he may be (if indeed any such man has yet existed) who has not only exemplified and enlarged, but first produced this rich fertility of expression, than the doughty warrior who has stormed a few paltry castles of the Ligurians, which have furnished us, you know, with many repeated triumphs.  In reality, if we can submit to hear the truth, it may be asserted (to say nothing of those god-like plans, which, supported by the wisdom of our generals, has frequently saved the sinking state both abroad and at home) that an orator is justly entitled to the preference to any commander in a petty war. But the general, you will say, is the more serviceable man to the public. Nobody denies it: and yet (for I am not afraid of provoking your censure, in a conversation which leaves each of us at liberty to say what he thinks) I had rather be the author of the single oration of Crassus, in defence of Curius, than be honoured with two Ligurian triumphs. You will, perhaps, reply, that the storming a castle of the Ligurians was a thing of more consequence to the State, than that the claim of Curius should be ably supported.  L This I own to be true. But it was also of more consequence to the Athenians, that their houses should be securely roofed, than to have their city graced with a most beautiful statue of Minerva: and yet, notwithstanding this, I would much rather have been a Pheidias, than the most skilful joiner in Athens. In the present case, therefore, we are not to consider a man's usefulness, but the strength of his abilities; especially as the number of painters and statuaries, who have excelled in their profession, is very small; whereas, there can never be any want of joiners and mechanic labourers.  But proceed, my Atticus, with Caesar; and oblige us with the remainder of his character."
"We see then," said he, "from what has just been mentioned, that a pure and correct style is the groundwork, and the very basis and foundation, upon which an orator must build his other accomplishments: though, it is true, that those who had hitherto possessed it, derived it more from early habit, than from any principles of art. It is needless to refer you to the instances of Laelius and Scipio; for a purity of language, as well as of manners, was the characteristic of the age they lived in. It could not, indeed, be applied to every one; for their two contemporaries, Caecilius and Pacuvius, spoke very incorrectly: but yet people in general, who had not resided out of the city, nor been corrupted by any domestic barbarisms, spoke the Roman language with purity. Time, however, as well at Rome as in Greece, soon altered matters for the worse: for this city, (as had formerly been the case at Athens) was resorted to by a crowd of adventurers from different parts, who spoke very corruptly; which shows the necessity of reforming our language, and reducing it to a certain standard, which shall not be liable to vary like the capricious laws of custom."
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