Cicero, De Oratore

-   Book 3 , 171-230

Translated by J.S.Watson (1860), with some minor alterations. Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each section. Click on ** to go to the translator's footnotes.

Previous sections (82-170)  

[171] L   "The composition of words follows next, which principally requires attention to two things; first, arrangement, and, next, a certain modulation and form. To arrangement it belongs to compose and arrange the words in such a way that their union may not be rough or gaping, but compact, as it were, and smooth; in reference to which qualities of style, the poet Lucilius, who could do so most elegantly, has expressed himself wittily and sportively in the character of my father-in-law: **

          How elegantly are his words arranged!
          All like square stones inserted skilfully
          In pavements, with vermiculated emblems!

And after saying this in ridicule of Albucius, he does not refrain from touching on me:

          I've Crassus for a son-in-law, nor think
          Yourself more of an orator.    

What then? this Crassus, of whose name you, Lucilius, make such free use, what does he attempt? The very same thing indeed as Scaevola wished, and as I would wish, but with somewhat better effect than Albucius. But Lucilius spoke jestingly with regard to me, according to his custom. [172] However, such an arrangement of words is to be observed, as that of which I was speaking; such a one as may give a compactness and coherence to the language, and a smooth and equal flow; this you will attain if you join the extremities of the antecedent words to the commencements of those that follow in such a manner that there be no rough clashing in the consonants, nor wide hiatus in the vowels.    

{44.} [173] L   "After diligent attention to this feature, there follows modulation and harmonious structure of the words; a point, I fear, that may seem puerile to our friend Catulus here. The ancients, however, imagined in prose a harmony almost like that of poetry; that is, they thought that we ought to adopt a sort of rhythm; for they wished that there should be short phrases in speeches, to allow us to recover, and not loss our breath; and that they should be distinguished, not by the marks of transcribers, but according to the modulation of the words and sentences; ** and this practice Isocrates is said to have been the first to introduce, that he might (as his pupil Naucrates writes) 'confine the rude manner of speaking among those of antiquity within certain rhythms, to give pleasure and captivate the ear.' [174] For musicians, who were also the poets of former ages, contrived these two things as the ministers of pleasure, verse, and song; that they might banish satiety from the sense of hearing by gratification, arising from the rhythms of language and the modulation of notes. These two things, therefore, (I mean the musical management of the voice, and the harmonious structure of words,) should be transferred, they thought, as far as the strictness of prose will admit, from poetry to oratory. [175] On this head it is remarkable, that if a verse is formed by the composition of words in prose, it is a fault; and yet we wish such composition to have a harmonious cadence, roundness, and finish, like verse; nor is there any single quality, out of many, that more distinguishes a true orator from an unskilful and ignorant speaker, than that he who is unpractised pours forth all he can without discrimination, and measures out the periods of his speech, not with art, but by the power of his breath; but the orator clothes his thoughts in such a manner as to comprise them in a flow of rhythms, at once confined to measure, yet free from restraint; [176] for, after restricting it to proper modulation and structure, he gives it an ease and freedom by a variety in the flow, so that the words are neither bound by strict laws, as those of verse, nor yet have such a degree of liberty as to wander without control.    

{45.} "In what manner, then, shall we pursue so important an object, so as to entertain hopes of being able to acquire this talent of speaking in harmonious rhythms? It is not a matter of so much difficulty as it is of necessity; for there is nothing so pliant, nothing so flexible, nothing which will so easily follow wherever you incline to lead it, as language; [177] out of which verses are composed; out of which all the variety of poetical numbers; out of which also prose of various modulation and of many different kinds; for there is not one set of words for common discourse, and another for oratorical debate; nor are they taken from one class for daily conversation, and from another for the stage and for display; but, when we have made our selection from those that lie before us, we form and fashion them at our pleasure like the softest wax. According, therefore, as we ourselves are grave, or subtle, or hold a middle course between both, so the form of our language follows the nature of our thoughts, and is changed and varied to suit every method by which we delight the ear or move the passions of mankind. [178] But as in most things, so in language, Nature herself has wonderfully contrived, that what carries in it the greatest utility, should have at the same time either the most dignity, or, as it often happens, the most beauty. We perceive the very system of the universe and of nature to be constituted with a view to the safety and preservation of the whole; so that the firmament should be round, and the earth in the middle, and that it should be held in its place by its own nature and tendency; ** that the sun should go round, that it should approach to the winter sign, ** and thence gradually ascend to the opposite region; that the moon, by her advance and retreat, should receive the light of the sun; and that the five planets should perform the same circuits by different motions and courses. [179] This order of things has such force, that, if there were the least alteration in it, they could not possibly subsist together; and such beauty, that no fairer appearance of nature could even be imagined. Turn your thoughts now to the shape and figure of man, or even that of other animals; you will find no part of the body fashioned without some necessary use, and the whole frame perfected as it were by art, not by chance. 

{46.} "How is it with regard to trees, of which neither the trunk, nor the boughs, nor even the leaves, are formed otherwise than to maintain and preserve their own nature, yet in which there is no part that is not beautiful? [180] Or let us turn from natural objects, and cast our eyes on those of art; what is so necessary in a ship as the sides, the hold, ** the prow, the stern, the yards, the sails, the masts? which yet have so much beauty in their appearance, that they seem to have been invented not for safety only, but also for the delight afforded by the spectacle. Pillars support temples and porticoes, and yet they have not only utility but also dignity. It was not regard to beauty, but necessity, that contrived the pediment of the Capitol, and other buildings; for when a plan was contemplated by which the water might run off from each side of the roof, the dignity of the pediment was added to the utility of the temple; but in such a manner, that should the Capitol be built in heaven, where no rain can fall, it would appear to have no dignity without the pediment. [181] It happens likewise in all parts of language, that a certain agreeableness and grace are attendant on utility, and, I may say, on necessity; for the stoppage of the breath, and the confined play of the lungs, introduced periods and the pointing of words. This invention gives such gratification, that, if unlimited powers of breath were granted to a person, yet we could not wish him to speak without stopping; for the invention of stops is pleasing to the ears ot mankind, and not only tolerable, but easy, to the lungs.    

{47.} [182] L   "The largest compass of a period, then, is that which can be rounded forth in one breath. This is the bound set by nature; art has other limits; for as there is a great variety of rhythms, your favourite Aristotle, Catulus, inclines to banish from oratorical language the frequent use of the iambus and the trochee; which, however, fall of themselves naturally into our common discourse and conversation; but the beats of time ** in those rhythms are remarkable, and the feet short. He therefore principally invites us to the heroic metre, [of the dactyl, the anapaest, and the spondee;] ** in which we may proceed with impunity two feet only, or a little more, lest we plainly fall into verse, or the resemblance of verse;

           Altae | sunt gemi | nae quibus.

These three heroic feet fall in gracefully enough with the beginnings of continuations of words. [183] But the paeon is most of all approved by Aristotle; it is of two kinds; ** for it either begins with a long syllable which three short syllables follow, as in these words, desinite, incipite, comprimite; or with a succession of three short syllables, the last being produced and made long, as in these words, domuerant, sonipedes; and it conforms to the notions of that philosopher to commence with the former paeon, and to conclude with the latter; and this latter paeon is almost equal, not indeed in the number of the syllables, but by the measure of the ear, which is a more acute and certain method of judgment, to the cretic, which consists of a long, a short, and a long syllable; as in this verse,

           Quid petam praesidi, aut exsequar? Quove nunc? **

With which kind of foot Fannius ** began, Si, Quirites, minas illius. This Aristotle thinks better adapted to conclusions of periods, which he wishes to be terminated generally by a syllable that is long.    

{48.} [184] L   "But these rhythms in oratory do not require such sharp-sighted care and diligence as that which must be used by poets, whom necessity compels, as do the very rhythms and measures, to include the words in versification, so that that no part may be, even by the least breath, ** shorter or longer than the metre absolutely demands. Prose has a freer scope, and is plainly, as it is called, soluta, unconfined, yet not so that it may fly off or wander without control, but may regulate itself without being absolutely in fetters; for I agree in this particular with Theophrastus, who thinks that style, at least such as is to a certain degree polished and well constructed, ** ought to be rhythmic, yet not as in constraint, but at ease. [185] For, as he suspects, from those feet of which the common hexameter verse is formed, grew forth afterwards the anapaestic, a longer kind of measure; thence flowed the still more free and rich dithyramb, the members and feet of which, as the same writer observes, are diffused through all style, that is enriched with the distinguishing ornaments of eloquence. And if that is rhythmic in all sounds and words, which gives certain beats as it were, and which we can measure by equal intervals, this harmony of numbers, if it be free from sameness, will be justly considered a merit in the oratorical style. Since if perpetual and ever-flowing loquacity, without any pauses, is to be thought rude and unpolished, what other reason is there why it should be disliked, except that Nature herself modulates the voice for the human ear? and this could not be the case unless numbers were inherent in the human voice. [186] But in an uninterrupted continuation of sound there are no rhythms; division, and beats at equal or often varied intervals, constitute rhythms; which we may remark in the falling of drops of water, because they are distinguished by intervals, but which we cannot observe in the rolling stream of a river. But as this unrestrained composition of words ** is more neat and harmonious, if it be divided into parts and members, than if it be carried on without intermission, those members ought to be measured by a certain rule of proportion; for if those at the end are shorter, the compass as it were of the words is made irregular; the compass, ** I say, for so the Greeks name these rounded divisions of style; the subsequent clauses in a sentence, therefore, ought to be equal to the antecedent, the last to the first; or - what has a better and more pleasing effect - of a greater length.    

{49.} [187] L   "These instructions are given by those philosophers to whom you, Catulus, have the greatest attachment; a remark which often make, so that by referring to my authors, I may avoid the charge of ineptitude."   "Of what sort of ineptitude?" said Catulus; "or what could be brought before us more elegant than this discussion of yours, or expressed more judiciously?" [188] "But still I am afraid," said Crassus, "lest these matters should either appear to these youths ** too difficult for study, or lest, as they are not given in the common rules of instruction, I should appear to suggest that they are of more importance and difficulty than they really are." Catulus replied, "You are mistaken, Crassus, if you imagine that either I or any of the company expected from you those ordinary or vulgar pronouncements; what you say is what we wished to be said; and not so much indeed to be said, as to be said in the very manner in which you have said it; nor do I answer for myself only, but for all the rest, without the least hesitation." [189] "And I," said Antonius, "have at length discovered such a one as, in the book which I wrote, I said that I had never found, a person of eloquence; but I never interrupted you, not even to pay you a compliment, for this reason, that no part of the short time allotted for your discourse might be diminished by a single word of mine."    

[190] L   "To this standard, then," proceeded Crassus, "is your style to be formed, as well by the practice of speaking, as by writing, which contributes a grace and refinement to other excellences, but to this in a more peculiar manner. Nor is this a matter of so much labour as it appears to be; nor are our phrases to be governed by the rigid laws of the composers of rhythms and music; and the only object for our endeavours is, that our sentences may not be loose or rambling, that they neither stop within too narrow a compass, nor run out too far; that they be divided into clauses, and have well-rounded periods. Nor are you to use perpetually this fullness and as it were roundness of language, but a sentence is often to be interrupted by smaller clauses, which very clauses are still to be modulated by rhythms. [191] Nor let the paeon or heroic foot give you any alarm; they will naturally come into your phrases; they will, I say, offer themselves, and will answer without being called; only let it be your care and practice, both in writing and speaking, that your sentences be concluded with verbs, and that the junction of those verbs with other words proceed with rhythms that are long and free, especially the heroic feet, the first [183] But the paeon, or the cretic; but let the cadence be varied and diversified; for it is in the conclusion that sameness is chiefly noticed. And if these measures are observed at the beginning and at the conclusion of sentences, the intermediate rhythms may be disregarded; only let the compass of your sentence not be shorter than the ear expects, nor longer than your strength and breath will allow.    

{50.}  [192] "But I think that the conclusions of periods ought to be studied more carefully than the former parts; because it is chiefly from these that perfection of style is judged; for in a verse, the commencement of it, the middle, and the extremity are equally regarded; and in whatever part it fails, it loses its force; but in a speech, few notice the beginnings, but almost all the closes, of the periods, which, as they are observable and best understood, should be varied, lest they be disapproved, either by the judgment of the understanding or by the satiety of the ear. [193] For the two or three feet towards the conclusion are to be marked and noted, if the preceding members of the sentence were not extremely short and concise; and these last feet ought either to be trochees, or heroic feet, or those feet used alternately, or to consist of the latter paeon, of which Aristotle approves, or, what is equal to it, the cretic. An interchange of such feet will have these good effects, that the audience will not be tired by an offensive sameness, and that we shall not appear to make similar endings on purpose. [194] But if the famous Antipater of Sidon, ** whom you, Catulus, very well remember, used to pour forth extempore hexameter and other verses, in various rhythms and measures, and if practice had so much power in a man of great ability and memory, that whenever he turned his thoughts and inclinations upon verse, the words followed of course, how much more easily shall we attain this facility in oratory, when application and exercise are used!    

[195] L   "Nor let any one wonder how the uneducated part of an audience observe these things when they listen to a speech; since, in all other things, as well as in this, the force of nature is great and extraordinary; for all men, by a kind of tacit sense, without any art or reasoning, can form a judgment of what is right and wrong in art and reasoning; and as they do this with regard to pictures, statues, and other works, in understanding which they have less assistance from nature, so they display this faculty much more in criticising words, rhythms, and sounds of language, because these powers are inherent in our common senses, and nature intended that no person should be utterly destitute of judgment in these matters. [196] All people are accordingly moved, not only by words artfully arranged, but also by rhythms and the sounds of the voice. How few are those that understand the science of rhythms and measures! yet if in these the smallest offence be given by an actor, so that any sound is made too short by contraction, or too long by extension, whole theatres burst into protest. Does not the same thing also happen with regard to musical notes, that not only whole groups and bands of musicians are thrown out by the crowd and the populace for varying one from another, but even single performers for playing out of tune?    

{51.} [197] L   "It is remarkable, when there is a wide separation between the learned and uneducated in acting, how little difference there is in judging; ** for art, being derived from nature, appears to have effected nothing at all if it does not move and delight nature. And there is nothing which so naturally affects our minds as numbers and the harmony of sounds, by which we are excited, and inflamed, and soothed, and thrown into a state of languor, and often moved to cheerfulness or sorrow; the most exquisite power of which is best suited to poetry and music, and was not, as it seems to me, undervalued by our most learned monarch Numa and our ancestors, (as the stringed and wind instruments at the sacred banquets and the verses of the Salii sufficiently indicate,) but was most cultivated in ancient Greece; [concerning which subjects, and similar ones, I could wish that you had chosen to discourse, rather than about these puerile verbal metaphors!] ** [198] But as the common people notice where there is anything faulty in a verse, so they are aware of any lameness in our language; but they grant the poet no pardon; to us they show some indulgence; but they all tacitly discern that what we have uttered has not its due propriety and finish. The speakers of old, therefore, as we see some do at the present day, when they were unable to complete a circuit and, as it were, roundness of period, (for that is what we have recently begun, indeed, either to effect or attempt,) spoke in clauses consisting of three, or two words, or sometimes uttered only a single word at a time; and yet in that infancy of our tongue they understood the natural gratification which the human ears required, and even studied that what they spoke should be expressed in balancing phrases, and that they should take breath at equal intervals.    

{52.} [199] L   "I have now shown, as far as I could, what I deemed most conducive to the embellishment of language; for I have spoken of the merits of single words; I have spoken of them in composition; I have spoken of the harmony of rhythms and structure. But if you wish me to speak also of the form and, as it were, complexion of eloquence, there is one sort which is full, but is free from roughness; one which is plain, but not without power and vigour; and one which, participating of both these kinds, is commended for a certain middle quality. In each of these three forms there ought to be a peculiar complexion of beauty, not produced by the daubing of paint, but diffused throughout the body by the blood. [200] Then, finally, ** this orator of ours should be so polished as to his style and thoughts, that, just as those who study fencing and wrestling, not only think it necessary to acquire a skill in parrying and striking, but also grace and elegance of motion, so he may use such words as are suited to elegant and graceful composition, and such thoughts as contribute to the impressiveness of language. Words and thoughts are formed in almost innumerable ways; as is, I am sure, well known to you; but between the formation of words and that of thoughts there is this difference, that the formation of the words is destroyed if you change them, but that of the thoughts remains, whatever words you think proper to use. [201] But I think that you ought to be reminded (although, indeed, you act in conformity with what I say) that you should not imagine there is anything more to be done by the orator, at least anything else to produce a striking and admirable effect, than to observe these three rules with regard to single words; to use frequently metaphorical ones, sometimes new ones, and rarely very old ones.    

"But with regard to continuous composition, when we have acquired that smoothness of union and harmony of rhythms which I have explained, our whole style of oratory is to be distinguished and frequently interspersed with brilliant lights, as it were, of thoughts and of words. {53.} [202] L   For dwelling on a single circumstance often has a considerable effect; and a clear illustration and exhibition of matters to the eye of the audience, almost as if they were transacted before them. This has wonderful influence in giving a representation of any affair, both to illustrate what is represented, and to emphasise it, so that the point which we emphasise may appear to the audience to be really as great as the powers of our language can represent it. Opposed to this is rapid transition over a thing, which may often be practised. There is also intimation that more is to be understood than you have expressed; distinct and concise brevity; and extenuation, and, what borders upon this, ridicule, not very different from that which was the object of Caesar's instructions; [203] and digression from the subject, and when gratification has thus been afforded, the return to the subject ought to be happy and elegant; synopsis of what you are about to say, transition from what has been said, and retrogression; there is repetition; apt conclusion of reasoning; exaggeration, or surpassing of the truth, for the sake of emphasis or diminution; interrogation, and, akin to this, as it were, consultation or seeming inquiry, followed by the delivery of your own opinion; and dissimulation, the humour of saying one thing and suggesting another, which steals into the minds of men in a peculiar manner, and which is extremely pleasing when it is well managed, not in a vehement strain of language, but if a conversational style; also hesitation; and distribution; and correction of yourself, either before or after you have said a thing, or when you repel its inference from yourself; [204] there is also preparation, with regard to what you are going to prove; there is the transference of blame to another person; there is communication, or consultation as it were, with the audience before whom you are speaking; imitation of manners and character, either with names of persons or without, which is a great ornament to a speech, and adapted to conciliate the feelings even in the utmost degree, and often also to rouse them; [205] the impersonation of people, the most heightened method of emphasis; there is description; causing misconceptions; excitement of the audience to laughter; anticipation; comparison and example, two figures which have a very great effect; division; interruption; contention; ** suppression; commendation; a certain freedom and even uncontrolledness of language, for the purpose of emphasis; anger; reproach; promise; deprecation; beseeching; slight deviation from your intended course - but not like digression, which I mentioned before; self-justification; conciliation; attack; prayer; cursing. Such are the figures with which thoughts give lustre to a speech.    

{54.} [206] L   "Words themselves, like weapons, can be used for threatening and attack, and also managed for grace. For the reiteration of words has sometimes a peculiar force, and sometimes elegance; as well as the variation or change of a word from its common meaning; and the frequent repetition of the same word at the beginning, and recurrence of it at the end, of a period; forceful emphasis on the same words; conjunction; ** connection; ** progression, ** a sort of distinction as to some word often used; the recall of a word; the use of words, also, which end similarly, or have similar cadences, or which balance one another, or which correspond to one another. [207] There is also a certain gradual change, a conversion, ** an elegant exaggeration of the sense of words; there is antithesis, asyndeton, declination ** reprehension, ** exclamation, abbreviation; the use of the same word in different cases; the referring of what is derived from many matters to each matter singly; reasoning to support your proposition, and reasoning suited to separate points; concession; and again another kind of hesitation; ** the introduction of something unexpected; enumeration; another correction; ** division; continuation; interruption; imagery; answering your own questions; immutation; ** distinction; order; relation; digression; ** and periphrasis. [208] These are the figures, and others like these, or there may even be more, which adorn language by elements of thought or structure of style."    

{55.} "I perceive, Crassus," said Cotta, "that you have poured forth these remarks to us without any definitions or examples, because you imagined us to be acquainted with them."   "I did not, indeed," said Crassus, "suppose that any of the things which I previously mentioned were new to you, but acted merely in obedience to the inclinations of the whole company. [209] But in these particulars the sun over there admonished me to use brevity, which, hastening to set, compelled me also to throw out these observations almost too hastily. But explanations, and even rules on this subject, are common, though the application of them is most important, and the most difficult of anything in the whole study of eloquence.    

[210] L   "Since, then, all the points which relate to all the ornamental parts of oratory are, if not illustrated, at least pointed out, let us now consider what is meant by appropriateness, that is, what is most becoming, in oratory. It is, however, clear that no single kind of style can be adapted to every case, or every audience, or every person, or every occasion. [211] For important cases require one style of speaking, private and lesser cases another; deliberations require one kind of oratory, panegyric another, judicial proceedings another, common conversation another, consolation another, reproof another, debate another, historical narrative another. It is of consequence also to consider the composition of the audience, whether it is the senate, or the people, or the judges; whether it is a large or a small assembly, or a single person, and what character they have; it ought to be taken into account, too, who the speakers themselves are, of what age, rank, and authority; and the time also, whether it be one of peace or war, of hurry or leisure. [212] On this head, therefore, no direction seems possible to be given but this, that we adopt a character of style, fuller, plainer, or middling, ** suited to the subject on which we are to speak; the same ornaments we may use almost constantly, but sometimes in a higher, sometimes in a lower strain; and it is the part of art and nature to be able to do what is appropriate on every occasion; to know what is appropriate, and when, is an affair of judgment.    

{56.} [213] L   "But all these parts of oratory succeed according to how they are delivered. Delivery, I say, has the sole and supreme power in oratory; without it, a speaker of the highest mental capacity can be held in no esteem; while one of moderate abilities, with this quality, may surpass even those of the highest talent. To this Demosthenes is said to have assigned the first place, when he was asked what was the chief requirement in eloquence; to this the second, and to this the third. For this reason, I am inclined yet more to admire what was said by Aeschines, who, when he had left Athens, on account of the disgrace of having lost his case, and had gone to Rhodes, is reported to have read, at the request of the Rhodians, that excellent speech which he had delivered against Ctesiphon, in opposition to Demosthenes; and when he had concluded it, he was asked on the next day to read that speech also which had been published by Demosthenes on the other side in favour of Ctesiphon; and when he had read this too in a most pleasing and powerful tone of voice, and all expressed their admiration, 'How much more would you have admired it, said he, if you had heard him deliver it himself!' By this remark, he sufficiently indicated how much depends on delivery, as he thought the same speech would appear different if the speaker were changed. [214] What was it in Gracchus, whom you, Catulus, remember better than me, that was so highly extolled when I was a boy? 'Whither shall I, unhappy wretch, betake myself? Whither shall I turn? To the Capitol? But that is drenched with the blood of my brother! Or to my home, that I may see my distressed and afflicted mother in all the agony of lamentation?' These words, it was agreed, were uttered by him with such delivery, as to countenance, voice, and gesture, that his very enemies could not restrain their tears. I dwell the longer on these particulars, because the orators, who are the deliverers of truth itself, have neglected this whole department, and the actors, who are only the imitators of truth, have taken possession of it.    

{57.} [215] L   "In everything, without doubt, reality has the advantage over imitation; and if reality were efficient enough in delivery of itself, we should certainly have no need for the aid of art. But as that emotion in the mind, which ought to be chiefly expressed or imitated in delivery, is often so confused as to be hidden and almost overwhelmed, the matters which throw that veil over it should be set aside, and the eminent and conspicuous aspects should be selected. [216] For every emotion of the mind has from nature its own peculiar look, tone, and gesture; and the whole frame of a man, and his whole countenance, and the variations of his voice, sound ** like strings in a musical instrument, just as they are moved by the affections of the mind. For the tones of the voice, like musical chords, are so wound up as to be responsive to every touch, sharp, flat, quick, slow, loud, gentle; and yet, among all these, each in its kind has its own middle tone. From these tones, too, are derived many other sorts, as the rough, the smooth, the contracted, the broad, the protracted, and interrupted; the broken and divided, the attenuated and inflated, with varieties of modulation; [217] for there is none of these, or those that resemble them, which may not be influenced by art and management; and they are presented to the orator, as colours to the painter, to produce variety.  

[58.] "Anger, for instance, assumes a particular tone of voice, acute, vehement, and with frequent breaks:

          My impious brother drives me on, ah wretched!
          To tear my children with my teeth!**

and in those lines which you, Antonius, cited a while ago:**

          Have you, then, dared to separate him from you?


          Does any one perceive this? Bind him

and almost the whole tragedy of Atreus.   But lamentation and bewailing assumes another tone, flexible, full, halting, in a voice of sorrow: as,

          Whither shall I now turn myself? what road
          Shall I attempt to tread? Home to my father,
          Or go to Pelias' daughters?**

and this,

           O father, my country, House of Priam!

and that which follows,

          All these did I behold blazing terribly,
          And life from Priam torn by violence.**

[218] L  "Fear has another tone, despondent, hesitating, abject:

          In many ways am I encompassed round!
          By sickness, exile, want. And terror drives
          All judgment from my breast, deprived of sense!
           My life is threatened with torture and destruction,
          And no man has so firm a soul, such boldness,
          But that his blood shrinks backward, and his look
          Grows pale with timid fear.**    

[219] L  Violence has another tone, intense, vehement, impetuous, with a kind of compelling excitement:

          Again Thyestes comes to drag on Atreus:
          Again attacks me, and disturbs my quiet:
          Some greater storm, some greater ill by me
          Must be excited, that I may confound
          And crush his cruel heart.**   

Pleasure has another, flowing, mild, tender, cheerful, languid:

          But when she brought for me the crown designed
          To celebrate the wedding, it was to you
          She offered it, pretending that she gave it
          To grace another; then on you she placed it
          Sportive, and graceful, and with delicacy.**   

Trouble has another tone; a sort of gravity without lamentation; oppressed, as it were, with one heavy uniform sound:

          It was at the time when Paris wedded Helen
          In lawless nuptials, and when I was pregnant,
          My months being nearly ended for delivery,
          Then, at that very time, did Hecuba
          Bring forth Polydorus, her last child.  

[59.] [220] L  "All those emotions ought to be accompanied by a proper gesture; not the gesture of the stage, expressive of mere words, but one showing the whole force and meaning of a passage, not by gesticulation, but by emphatic delivery, by a strong and manly exertion of the lungs, not imitated from the theatre and the players, but rather from the camp and the palaestra. The action of the hand should not be too affected,** but following the words rather than, as it were, expressing them by mimicry; the arm should be considerably extended, as one of the weapons of oratory; the stamping of the foot should be used only in the most vehement efforts, at their commencement or conclusion. [221] But all depends on the countenance; and even in that the eyes bear the chief sway; and therefore the oldest of our countrymen showed more judgment in not applauding even Roscius himself to any great degree when he performed in a mask; for all the powers of action proceed from the mind, and the countenance is the image of the mind, and the eyes are its interpreters. This, indeed, is the only part of the body that can effectually display as infinite a number of expressions and changes, as there is of emotions in the soul; nor can any speaker produce the same effect with his eyes shut,** as with them open. Theophrastus indeed has told us, that a certain Tauriscus used to say, that a player who pronounced his part gazing on any particular object was like one who turned his back on the audience.** [222] Great care in managing the eyes is therefore necessary; for the appearance of the features is not to be too much varied, lest we fall into some absurdity or distortion. It is the eyes, by whose intense or languid gaze, as well as by their quick glances and gaiety, we indicate the workings of our mind with a particular aptitude to the tenor of our discourse; for action is, as it were, the speech of the body, and ought therefore the more to accord with that of the soul. And Nature has given eyes to us, to declare our internal emotions, as she has bestowed a mane, tail, and ears on the horse and the lion. [223] For these reasons, in our oratorical action, the countenance is next in power to the voice, and is influenced by the motion of the eyes. But in everything relating to action there is a certain force bestowed by Nature herself; and it is by action accordingly that the uneducated, the vulgar, and even barbarians themselves, are principally moved. For words move none but those who participate in the same language; and clever thoughts often escape the understanding of ignorant men; but action, which by its own powers displays the movements of the soul, affects all mankind; for the minds of all men are excited by the same emotions, which they recognise in others, and indicate in themselves, by the same signs.    

[60.] [224] L  "The voice undoubtedly contributes most to effectiveness and excellence in delivery; the voice, I say, which, in its full strength, must be the chief object of our wishes; and next, whatever strength of voice we have, to cherish it. On this point, how we are to assist the voice has nothing to do with precepts of this kind, though, for my part, I think that we should assist it to the utmost. But it seems fitting to the purport of my present remarks, to observe, as I observed a little while ago, that in most things what is most useful is, I know not how, the most becoming; for nothing is more useful for securing power of voice, than the frequent variation of it; nothing more pernicious than an immoderate straining of it without intermission. [225] And what is more adapted to delight the ear, and produce agreeableness of delivery, than change, variety, and alteration of tone? Gaius Gracchus, accordingly, (as you may hear, Catulus, from your client Licinius, a scholarly man, whom Gracchus formerly had for his amanuensis,) used to have a skilful person with an ivory pitch-pipe, to stand concealed behind him when he made a speech, and who was in an instant to sound such a note as might either excite him from too languid a tone, or recall him from one too elevated."   "I have heard this before," said Catulus, "and have often admired the diligence of that great man, as well as his learning and knowledge." [226] "And I, too," said Crassus; "and am grieved that men of such talents should fall into such errors with regard to the commonwealth; although the same web is still being woven;** and such a state of affairs is advancing in the country, and held out to posterity, that we now desire to have citizens such as our fathers would not tolerate."   "Crassus, I entreat you," interposed Caesar, "refrain from this sort of conversation, and go back to Gracchus's pitch-pipe, of which I do not yet clearly understand the purpose."    

[61.] [227] L  "There is in every voice," continued Crassus, "a certain middle key; but that key is individual to each particular voice. For the voice to ascend gradually from this key is advantageous and pleasing; since to bawl at the beginning of a speech is boorish, and gradual change is salutary in strengthening the voice. There is also a certain extreme in the highest pitch, (which, however, is lower than the shrillest cry,) to which the pipe will not allow you to ascend, but will recall you from too strained an effort of voice. There is also, on the other hand, an extreme in the lowest notes, to which, as being of a full sound, we by degrees descend. This variety and this gradual progression of the voice throughout all the notes, will preserve its powers, and add agreeableness to delivery. But you may leave the piper at home, and carry with you into the forum merely the intention of the custom.    

[228] L  "I have said what I could, though not as I wished, but as the shortness of the time obliged me; for it is wise to lay the blame upon the time, when you cannot add more even if you desired."   "But," said Catulus, "you have, as far as I can judge, brought together everything upon the subject, and that in so excellent a manner, that you seem not to have received instructions in the art from the Greeks, but to be able to instruct the Greeks themselves. I rejoice that I have been present in your conversation; and could wish that my son-in-law, your friend Hortensius,** had also been present; who, I trust, will excel in all those good qualities of which you have treated in this dissertation." [229] "Will excel!" exclaimed Crassus; "I consider that he already excels. I had that opinion of him when he pleaded, in my consulship, on behalf of Africa** in the senate; and I found myself still more confirmed in it lately, when he spoke for the king of Bithynia. You judge rightly, therefore, Catulus; for I am convinced that nothing is lacking in that young man, in respect to either of nature or learning. [230] You, therefore, Cotta, and you, Sulpicius, should exert greater vigilance and industry; for he is no ordinary orator, who is springing up to rival those of your age; but one of a penetrating genius, and an ardent attachment to study, of eminent learning, and of singular powers of memory; but, though he is a favourite of mine, I only wish him to excel amongst his own generation; for to desire that he, who is so much younger,** should outstrip you, is hardly fair. But let us now arise, and refresh ourselves, and at length give our minds a rest from attention to this strenuous discussion."  

Table of Contents



(1)   Mucius Scaevola. He accused Albucius of extortion. 

(2)   Ellendt aptly refers to Cic. Orat. c. 68; Aristotle, Rhet. iii. 8. 6. 

(3)   Nutu. Compare Cic. De Nat. Deor. ii. 39. Ellendt thinks that by nutus is meant something similar to our centripetal force. 

(4)   Brumae signum. The tropic of Capricorn. De Nat. Deor. iii. 14. 

(5)   Cavernae. Some editions have carinae, and Lambinus reads carina. If we retain cavernae, it is not easy to say exactly in what sense it should be taken. Servius, on Virgil, Aen. ii. 19, observes that the fustes curvos navium, quibus extrinsecus fabulae affiguntur, were called cavernae; but in this sense, as Ellendt observes, it is much the same with latera, which precedes. Ellendt himself, therefore, inclines to take it in the sense of cavitas alvei, 'hold 'or 'keel,' which, as it is divided into parts, may, he thinks, be expressed in the plural number. 

(6)   Percussiones. The ictus metrici; so called, because the musician, in beating time, struck the ground with his foot. In a senarius he struck the ground three times, once for every two feet; whence there were said to be in such a verse three ictus or percussiones. But on pronouncing those syllables, at which the musician struck the ground, the actor raised his voice; and hence percussio was in Greek arsis, and the raised or accented syllables were said to be en arsei, the others being said to be en thesei. See Bentley de Metr. Terentian., init. Ernesti. 

(7)   Madvig and Ellendt justly regard the words in brackets as spurious. I follow those critics also in reading Altae sunt geminae quibus, though, as Ellendt observes, Altae ought very likely to be Arae. Aliae, which is in most editions, made the passage utterly inexplicable, though Ernesti, Strebaeus, and others did what they could to put some meaning into it. 

(8)   The first and fourth only are meant. 

(9)   C. 26; where Pearce observes that they are the words of Andromache in Ennius, according to Bentley on Tusc. Disp. iii. 19. 

(10)   Gaius Fannius Strabo, who was consul 122 B.C.   He left one speech against Gaius Gracchus: Cic. Brut. c. 26. 

(11)   Ne spiritu quidem minimo.  

(12)   Facta. That is, carefully laboured. See Brut. c. 8. Ellendt. 

(13)   Continuatio verborum soluta. See above, near the beginning of this chapter, oratio vere soluta. 

(14)   Ambitus. The Greek word is periodos. See Orat. c. 61. 

(15)   Cotta and Sulpicius. 

(16)   Some of whose epigrams are to be seen in the Greek Anthology He flourished about 100 B.C. 

(17)   See Cic. Brut. c. 49. 

(18)   The words in brackets are condemned as spurious by all the recent editors. 

(19)   Tum denique. Ellendt encloses tum in brackets, and thinks that much of the language of the rest of the chapter is confused and incorrect. The words ut ii, qui in armorum tractatione versantur, which occur a little below, and which are generally condemned, are not translated. 

(20)   Contentio. This is doubtless some species of comparison; there is no allusion to it in the Orator. See ad Herenn. iv. 45. Ellendt. 

(21)   Concursio. The writer ad Herenn. iv. 14, calls this figure traductio; the Greeks sumplokē. Ellendt. 

(22)   Adiunctio. It appears to be that which Quintilian (ix. 3) calls sunezeugmenon, where several words are connected with the same verb. Ellendt. 

(23)   What progressio is, no critic has been able to inform us, nor is there any notice of it in any other writer on rhetoric. I see no mode of explaining the passage, unless we take adiunctio and progressio together, and suppose them to signify that the speech proceeds with several words in conjunction. Ellendt. 

(24)   An antithetic position of words, as esse ut vivas, non vivere ut edas. Ellendt. 

(25)   Declinatio. Called antimetabolē by Quintilian, ix. 3. 85. 

(26)   Reprehensio. Aphorismos or diorismos. Jul. Rufin. p. 207. Compare Quintil. ix. 2. 18; Ern. p. 332. Ellendt. 

(27)   How this kind of doubt differs from that which is mentioned in the preceding chapter, among the figures of thought, it is not easy to say. Ellendt. 

(28)   Correctio verbi. Different from that which is mentioned above, in tho middle of c. 53. Ellendt. 

(29)   Called alloiosis by Quintilian, ix. 3. 92. Ellendt. 

(30)   Digression has been twice mentioned before. Strebaeus supposes it to be similar to metabasis or apostrophē. I have no doubt that the word ought to be ejected. Circumscription Quintilian himself could not understand, and has excluded it from his catalogue of figures (ix. 3. 91). Ellendt. Most of the figures enumerated in this chapter are illustrated by the writer ad Herennium, b. iv., and by Quintilian, b. ix. 

(31)   Compare c. 52 init. 

(32)   Sonant. As this word does not properly apply to vultus, the countenance, Schutz would make some alteration in the text. But Mueller and others observe that such a zeugma is not uncommon. 

(33)   From the Atreus of Accius, whence also the next quotation but one is taken. See Tusc. Quaest. iv. 36. 

(34)   See ii. 46. 

(35)   From the Medea of Ennius. 

(36)   From the Andromache of Ennius. See Tusc. Quaest. i. 35; iii. 19. 

(37)   From the Alcmaeon of Ennius. 

(38)   From the Atreus of Accius. See Tusc. Quaest, iii. 36; De Nat Deor. iii. 20. 

(39)   Whence this and the next quotation are taken is unknown. 

(40)   Arguta. Argutiae digitorum. Orat. c. 18. Manus inter agendum argutae admodum et gestuosae. Aul. Gell. i. 5. 

(41)   I follow Ellendt in reading connivens, instead of contuens, the common reading, which Orellius retains. 

(42)   Aversum. 'Qui stet aversus a theatro et spectatoribus tergum obvertat.' Schutz. Of Tauriscus nothing is known. 

(43)   As to the state of the republic at that time, see i. 7 Ellendt. 

(44)   The orator afterwards so famous. 

(45)   He pleaded this case, observes Ellendt, at the age of nineteen; but the nature of it, as well as that of the king of Bithynia, is unknown. 

(46)   He was ten years younger than Cotta and Sulpicius. Brut. c. 88 Ellendt.

Table of Contents

Attalus' home page   |   16.07.19   |   Any comments?