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This webpage reproduces a section of
Institutio Oratoria


published in Vol. III
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1920

The text is in the public domain.

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(Vol. III) Quintilian
Institutio Oratoria

 p3  Book VIII

Chapters 1‑3


The observations contained in the preceding five books approximately cover the method of invention and the arrangement of the material thus provided. It is absolutely necessary to acquire a thorough knowledge of this method in all its details, if we desire to become accomplished orators, but a simpler and briefer course of instruction is more suitable for beginners. 2 For they tend either to be deterred from study by the difficulties of so detailed and complicated a course, or lose heart at having to attempt tasks of such difficulty just at the very period when their minds need special nourishment and a more attractive form of diet, or think that when they have learned this much and no more, they are fully equipped for the tasks of eloquence, or finally, regarding themselves as fettered by certain fixed laws of oratory, shrink from making any effort on their own initiative. 3 Consequently, it has been held that those who have exercised the greatest care in writing text-books of rhetoric have been the furthest removed from genuine eloquence. Still, it is absolutely necessary to point out to beginners the road which they should follow, though this road must be smooth and easy not merely to enter, but to indicate. Consequently, our skilful instructor should select all  p179 that is best in the various writers on the subject and content himself for the moment with imparting those precepts of which he approves, without wasting time over the refutation of those which he does not approve. For thus your pupils will follow where you lead. 4 Later, as they acquire strength in speaking, their learning will grow in proportion. To begin with, they may be allowed to think that there is no other road than that on which we have set their feet, and it may be left to time to teach them what is actually the best. It is true that writers on rhetoric have, by the pertinacity with which they have defended their opinions, made the principles of the science which they profess somewhat complicated; but these principles are in reality neither obscure nor hard to understand. 5 Consequently, if we regard the treatment of the art as a whole, it is harder to decide what we should teach than to teach it, once the decision has been made. Above all, in the two departments which I have mentioned, the necessary rules are but few in number, and if the pupil gives them ready acceptance, he will find that the path to further accomplishment presents no difficulty.

6 I have, it is true, already expended much labour on this portion of my task; for I desired to make it clear that rhetoric is the science of speaking well, that it is useful, and further, that it is an art and a virtue. I wished also to show that its subject matter consists of everything on which an orator may be called to speak, and is, as a rule, to be found in three classes of oratory, demonstrative, deliberative, and forensic; that every speech is composed of matter and words, and that as regards matter we must  p181 study invention, as regards words, style, and as regards both, arrangement, all of which it is the task of memory to retain and delivery to render attractive. 7 I attempted to show that the duty of the orator is composed of instructing, moving and delighting his hearers, statement of facts and arguments falling under the head of instruction, while emotional appeals are concerned with moving the audience and, although they may be employed throughout the case, are most effective at the beginning and end. As to the element of charm, I pointed out that, though it may reside both in facts and words, its special sphere is that of style. 8 I observed that there are two kinds of questions, the one indefinite, the other definite, and involving the consideration of persons and circumstances of time and place; further, that whatever our subject matter, there are three questions which we must ask, is it? what is it? and of what kind is it? To this I added that demonstrative oratory consists of praise and denunciation, and that in this connexion we must consider not merely the acts actually performed by the person of whom we were speaking, but what happened after his death. This task I showed to be concerned solely with what is honourable or expedient. 9 I remarked that in deliberative oratory there is a third department as well which depends on conjecture, for we have to consider whether the subject of deliberation is possible or likely to happen. At this point I emphasised the importance of considering who it is that is speaking, before whom he is speaking, and what he says. As regards forensic cases, I demonstrated that some turn on one point of dispute, others on several, and  p183 that whereas in some cases it is the attack, in others it is the defence that determines the basis; that every defence rests on denial, which is of two kinds, since we may either deny that the act was committed or that its nature was that alleged, while it further consists of justification and technical pleas to show that the action cannot stand. 10 I proceeded to show that questions must turn either on something written or something done: in the latter case we have to consider the truth of the facts together with their special character and quality; in the former we consider the meaning or the intention of the words, with reference to which we usually examine the nature of all cases, criminal or civil, which fall under the heads of the letter and intention, the syllogism, ambiguity or contrary laws. 11 I went on to point out that in all forensic cases speech consists of five parts, the exordium designed to conciliate the audience, the statement of facts designed to instruct him, the proof which confirms our own propositions, the refutation which overthrows the arguments of our opponents, and the peroration which either refreshes the memory of our hearers or plays upon their emotions. 12 I then dealt with the sources of arguments and emotion, and indicated the means by which the judges should be excited, placated, or amused. Finally I demonstrated the method of division. But I would ask that the student who is really desirous of learning should believe that there are also a variety of subjects with regard to which nature itself should provide much of the requisite knowledge without any assistance from formal teaching, so that the precepts of which I have spoken may be regarded not so much as  p185 having been discovered by the professors of rhetoric as having been noted by them when they presented themselves.

13 The points which follow require greater care and industry. For I have now to discuss the theory of style, a subject which, as all orators agree, presents the greatest difficulty. For Marcus Antonius, whom I mentioned above, states that he has seen many good, but no really eloquent speakers, and holds that, while to be a good speaker it is sufficient to say what is necessary, only the really eloquent speaker can do this in ornate and appropriate language.1 14 And if this excellence was to be found in no orator up to his own day, and not even in himself or Lucius Crassus, we may regard it as certain that the reason why they and their predecessors lacked this gift was its extreme difficulty of acquisition. Again, Cicero2 holds that, while invention and arrangement are within the reach of any man of good sense, eloquence belongs to the orator alone, and consequently it was on the rules for the cultivation of eloquence that he expended the greatest care. 15 That he was justified in doing so is shown clearly by the actual name of the art of which I am speaking. For the verb eloqui means the production and communication to the audience of all that the speaker has conceived in his mind, and without this power all the preliminary accomplishments of oratory are as useless as a sword that is kept permanently concealed within its sheath. 16 Therefore it is on this that teachers of rhetoric concentrate their attention, since it cannot possibly be acquired without the assistance of the rules of art: it is this which is the chief object of our study, the goal of all  p187 our exercises and all our efforts at imitation, and it is to this that we devote the energies of a lifetime; it is this that makes one orator surpass his rivals, this that makes one style of speaking preferable to another. 17 The failure of the orators of the Asiatic and other decadent schools did not lie in their inability to grasp or arrange the facts on which they had to speak, nor, on the other hand, were those who professed what we call the dry style of oratory either fools or incapable of understanding the cases in which they were engaged. No, the fault of the former was that they lacked taste and restraint in speaking, while the latter lacked power, whence it is clear that it is here that the real faults and virtues of oratory are to be found.

18 This does not, however, mean that we should devote ourselves to the study of words alone. For I am compelled to offer the most prompt and determined resistance to those who would at the very portals of this enquiry lay hold of the admissions I have just made and, disregarding the subject matter which, after all, is the backbone of any speech, devote themselves to the futile and crippling study of words in a vain desire to acquire the gift of elegance, a gift which I myself regard as the fairest of all the glories of oratory, but only when it is natural and unaffected. 19 Healthy bodies, enjoying a good circulation and strengthened by exercise, acquire grace from the same source that gives them strength, for they have a healthy complexion, firm flesh and shapely thews. But, on the other hand, the man who attempts to enhance these physical graces by the effeminate use of depilatories and cosmetics, succeeds merely in defacing them by the  p189 very care which he bestows on them. 20 Again, a tasteful and magnificent dress, as the Greek poet tells us, lends added dignity to its wearer: but effeminate and luxurious apparel fails to adorn the body and merely reveals the foulness of the mind. Similarly, a translucent and iridescent style merely serves to emasculate the subject which it arrays with such pomp of words. Therefore I would have the orator, while careful in his choice of words, be even more concerned about his subject matter. 21 For, as a rule, the best words are essentially suggested by the subject matter and are discovered by their own intrinsic light. But to‑day we hunt for these words as though they were always hiding themselves and striving to elude our grasp. And thus we fail to realise that they are to be found in the subject of our speech, and seek them elsewhere, and, when we have found them, force them to suit their context. 22 It is with a more virile spirit that we should pursue eloquence, who, if only her whole body be sound, will never think it her duty to polish her nails and tire her hair.

The usual result of over-attention to the niceties of style is the deterioration of our eloquence. 23 The main reason for this is that those words are best which are least far-fetched and give the impression of simplicity and reality. For those words which are obviously the result of careful search and even seem to parade their self-conscious art, fail to attain the grace at which they aim and lose all appearance of sincerity because they darken the sense and choke the good seed by their own luxuriant overgrowth. 24 For in our passion for words we paraphrase what might be said in plain language, repeat what we have already  p191 said at sufficient length, pillar up a number of words where one would suffice, and regard allusion as better than directness of speech. So, too, all directness of speech is at a discount, and we think no phrase eloquent that another could conceivably have used. 25 We borrow figures and metaphors from the most decadent poets, and regard it as a real sign of genius that it should require a genius to understand our meaning. And yet Cicero3 long since laid down his rule in the clearest of language, that the worst fault in speaking is to adopt a style inconsistent with the idiom of ordinary speech and contrary to the common feeling of mankind. 26 But nowadays our rhetoricians regard Cicero as lacking both polish and learning; we are far superior, for we look upon everything that is dictated by nature as beneath our notice, and seek not for the true ornaments of speech, but for meretricious finery, as though there were any real virtue in words save in their power to represent facts. And if we have to spend all our life in the laborious effort to discover words which will at once be brilliant, appropriate and lucid, and to arrange them with exact precision, we lose all the fruit of our studies. 27 And yet we see the majority of modern speakers wasting their time over the discovery of single words and over the elaborate weighing and measurement of such words when once discovered. Even if the special aim of such a practice were always to secure the best words, such an ill-starred form of industry would be much to be deprecated, since it checks the natural current of our speech and extinguishes the warmth of imagination by the delay and loss of self-confidence which it occasions. 28 For the orator who cannot  p193 endure to lose a single word is like a man plunged in griping poverty. On the other hand, if he will only first form a true conception of the principles of eloquence, accumulate a copious supply of words by wide and suitable reading, apply the art of arrangement to the words thus acquired, and finally, by continual exercise, develop strength to use his acquisition so that every word is ready at hand and lies under his very eyes, he will never lose a single word. 29 For the man who follows these instructions will find that facts and words appropriate to their expression will present themselves spontaneously. But it must be remembered that a long course of preliminary study is necessary and that the requisite ability must not merely be acquired, but carefully stored for use; for the anxiety devoted to the search for words, to the exercise of the critical faculty and the power of comparison is in its place while we are learning, but not when we are speaking. Otherwise, the orator who has not given sufficient attention to preliminary study will be like a man who, having no fortune, lives from hand to mouth. 30 If, on the other hand, the powers of speech have been carefully cultivated beforehand, words will yield us ready service, not merely turning up when we search for them, but dwelling in our thoughts and following them as the shadow follows the body. 31 There are, however, limits even to this form of study; for when our words are good Latin, full of meaning, elegant and aptly arranged, why should we labour further? And yet there are some who are never weary of morbid self-criticism, who throw themselves into an agony of mind almost over separate syllables, and even when they have  p195 discovered the best words for their purpose look for some word that is older, less familiar, and less obvious, since they cannot bring themselves to realise that when a speech is praised for its words, it implies that its sense is inadequate. 32 While, then, style calls for the utmost attention, we must always bear in mind that nothing should be done for the sake of words only, since words were invented merely to give expression to things: and those words are the most satisfactory which give the best expression to the thoughts of our mind and produce the effect which we desire upon the minds of the judges. 33 Such words will assuredly be productive of a style that will both give pleasure and awaken admiration; and the admiration will be of a kind far other than that which we bestow on portents, while the pleasure evoked by the charm will have nothing morbid about it, but will be praiseworthy and dignified.

1 1 What the Greeks call φράσις, we in Latin call elocutio or style. Style is revealed both in individual words and in groups of words. As regards the former, we must see that they are Latin, clear, elegant and well-adapted to produce the desired effect. As regards the latter, they must be correct, aptly placed and adorned with suitable figures. 2 I have already, in the portions of the first book dealing with the subject of grammar, said all that is necessary on the way to acquire idiomatic and correct speech. But there my remarks were restricted to the prevention of positive faults, and it is well that I should now point out that our words should have nothing provincial or foreign about them. For you will find  p197 that there are a number of writers by no means deficient in style whose language is precious rather than idiomatic. As an illustration of my meaning I would remind you of the story of the old woman at Athens, who, when Theophrastus, a man of no mean eloquence, used one solitary word in an affected way, immediately said that he was a foreigner, and on being asked how she detected it, replied that his language was too Attic for Athens. 3 Again Asinius Pollio held that Livy, for all his astounding eloquence, showed traces of the idiom of Padua. Therefore, if possible, our voice and all our words should be such as to reveal the native of this city, so that our speech may seem to be of genuine Roman origin, and not merely to have been presented with Roman citizenship.

2 1 Clearness results above all from propriety in the use of words. But propriety is capable of more than one interpretation. In its primary sense it means calling things by their right names, and is consequently sometimes to be avoided, for our language must not be obscene, unseemly or mean. 2 Language may be describe as mean when it is beneath the dignity of the subject or the rank of the speaker. Some orators fall into serious error in their eagerness to avoid this fault, and are afraid of all words that are in ordinary use, even though they may be absolutely necessary for their purpose. There was, for example, the man who in the course of a speech spoke of "Iberian grass," a meaningless phrase intelligible only to himself. Cassius Severus, by way of deriding his affectation, explained that he meant Spanish broom. 3 Nor do I see why a certain distinguished orator thought "fishes conserved  p199 in brine" a more elegant phrase than the word which he avoided.4 But while there is no special merit in the form of propriety which consists in calling things by their real names, it is a fault to fly to the opposite extreme. This fault we call impropriety, while the Greeks call it ἄκυρον. 4 As examples I may cite the Virgilian,5 "Never could I have hoped for such great woe," or the phrase, which I noted had been corrected by Cicero in a speech of Dolabella's, "To bring death," or again, phrases of a kind that win praise from some of our contemporaries, such as "His words fell from the cross."6 On the other hand, everything that lacks appropriateness will not necessarily suffer from the fault of positive impropriety, because there are, in the first place, many things which have no proper term either in Greek or Latin. 5 For example, the verb iaculari is specially used in the sense of "to throw a javelin," whereas there is no special verb appropriated to the throwing of a ball or a stake. So, too, while lapidare has the obvious meaning of "to stone," there is no special word to describe the throwing of clods or potsherds. 6 Hence abuse or catachresis of words becomes necessary, while metaphor, also, which is the supreme ornament of oratory, applies words to things with which they have strictly no connexion. Consequently propriety turns not on the actual term, but on the meaning of the term, and must be tested by the touchstone of the understanding, not of the ear. 7 The second sense in which the word propriety is used occurs when there are a number of things all called by the same name: in this case the original term from which the others are derived is styled the proper term.  p201 For example, the word vertex means a whirl of water, or of anything else that is whirled in a like manner: then, owing to the fashion of coiling the hair, it comes to mean the top of the head, while finally, from this sense it derives the meaning of the highest point of a mountain. All these things may correctly be called vertices, but the proper use of the term is the first. 8 So, too, solea and turdus are employed as names of fish, to mention no other cases.7 The third kind of propriety is found in the case where a thing which serves a number of purposes has a special name in some one particular context; for example, the proper term for a funeral song is naenia, and for the general's tent augurale. Again, a term which is common to a number of things may be applied in a proper or special sense to some one of them. Thus we use urbs in the special sense of Rome, venales in the special sense of newly-purchased slaves, and Corinthia in the special sense of bronzes, although there are other cities besides Rome, and many other things which may be styled venales besides, and gold and silver are found at Corinth as well as bronze. But the use of such terms implies no special excellence in an orator. 9 There is, however, a form of propriety of speech which deserves the highest praise, that is to say, the employment of words with the maximum of significance, as, for instance, when Cicero8 said that "Caesar was thoroughly sober when he undertook the task of overthrowing the constitution," or as Virgil9 spoke of a "thin-drawn strain," and Horace10 of the "shrill pipe," and "dread Hannibal." 10 Some also include under this head that form of propriety  p203 which is derived from characteristic epithets, such as in the Virgilian11 phrases, "sweet unfermented wine," or "with white teeth." But of this sort of propriety I shall have to speak elsewhere.12 11 Propriety is also made to include the appropriate use of words in metaphor, while at times the salient characteristic of an individual comes to be attached to him as a proper name: thus Fabius was called "Cunctator," the Delayer, on account of the most remarkable of his many military virtues. Some, perhaps, may think that words which mean more than they actually say deserve mention in connexion with clearness, since they assist the understanding. I, however, prefer to place emphasis13 among the ornaments of oratory, since it does not make a thing intelligible, but merely more intelligible.

12 Obscurity, on the other hand, results from the employment of obsolete words, as for instance, if an author should search the records of the priests, the earliest treaties and the works of long-forgotten writers with the deliberate design of collecting words that no man living understands. For there are persons who seek to gain a reputation for erudition by such means as this, in order that they may be regarded as the sole depositories of certain forms of knowledge. 13 Obscurity may also be produced by the use of words which are more familiar in certain districts than in others, or which are of a technical character, such as the wind called "Atabalus,"14 or a "sack-ship," or in malo cosanum. Such expressions should be avoided if we are pleading before a judge who is ignorant of their meaning, or, if used, should be explained, as may have to be done in the case of what are called homonyms. For  p205 example, the word taurus may be unintelligible unless we make it clear whether we are speaking of a bull, a mountain, or a constellation, or the name of a man, or the root of a tree.15

14 A greater source of obscurity is, however, to be found in the construction and combination of words, and the ways in which this may occur are still more numerous. Therefore, a sentence should never be so long that it is impossible to follow its drift, nor should its conclusion be unduly postponed by transposition or an excessive use of hyperbaton.16 Still worse is the result when the order of the words is confused as in the line17

"In the midmost sea
Rocks are there by Italians altars called."

15 Again, parenthesis, so often employed by orators and historians, and consisting in the insertion of one sentence in the midst of another, may seriously hinder the understanding of a passage, unless the insertion is short. For example, in the passage where Vergil18 describes a colt, the words

"Nor fears he empty noises,"

are followed by a number of remarks of a totally different form, and it is only four lines later that the poet returns to the point and says,

"Then, if the sound of arms be heard afar,

How to stand still he knows not."

16 Above all, ambiguity must be avoided, and by ambiguity I mean not merely the kind of which I have already spoken, where the sense is uncertain, as in the clause Chremetem audivi percussisse Demean,19  p207 but also that form of ambiguity which, although it does not actually result in obscuring the sense, falls into the same verbal error as if a man should say visum a se hominem librum scribentem (that he had seen a man writing a book). For although it is clear that the book was being written by the man,20 the sentence is badly put together, and its author has made it as ambiguous as he could.

17 Again, some writers introduce a whole host of useless words: for, in their eagerness to avoid ordinary methods of expression, and allured by false ideas of beauty they wrap up everything in a multitude of words simply and solely because they are unwilling to make a direct and simple statement of the facts: and then they link up and involve one of those long-winded clauses with others like it, and extend their periods to a length beyond the compass of mortal breath. 18 Some even expend an infinity of toil to acquire this vice, which, by the way, is not new: for I learn from the pages of Livy21 that there was one, a teacher, who instructed his pupils to make all they said obscure, using the Greek word σκότισον ("darken it.") It was this same habit that gave rise to the famous words of praise, "So much the better: even I could not understand you." 19 Others are consumed with a passion for brevity and omit words which are actually necessary to the sense, regarding it as a matter of complete indifference whether their meaning is intelligible to others, so long as they know what they mean themselves. For my own part, I regard as useless words which make such a demand upon the ingenuity of the hearer. Others, again, succeed in committing the same fault by a perverse  p209 misuse of figures. 20 Worst of all are the phrases which the Greeks call ἀδιανόητα, that is to say, expressions which, though their meaning is obvious enough on the surface, have a secret meaning, as for example in the phrase cum ductus est caecus secundum viam stare, or where the man, who is supposed in the scholastic theme to have torn his own limbs with his teeth, is said to have lain upon himself.22 21 Such expressions are regarded as ingenious, daring and eloquent, simply because of their ambiguity, and quite a number of persons have become infected by the belief that a passage which requires a commentator must for that very reason be a masterpiece of elegance. Nay, there is even a class of hearer who find a special pleasure in such passages; for the fact that they can provide an answer to the riddle fills them with an ecstasy of self-congratulation, as if they had not merely heard the phrase, but invented it.

22 For my own part, I regard clearness as the first essential of a good style: there must be propriety in our words, their order must be straightforward, the conclusion of the period must not be long postponed, there must be nothing lacking and nothing superfluous. Thus our language will be approved by the learned and clear to the uneducated. I am speaking solely of clearness in style, as I have already dealt with clearness in the presentation of facts in the rules I laid down for the statement of the case. 23 But the general method is the same in both. For if what we say is not less nor more than is required, and is clear and systematically arranged, the whole matter will be plain and obvious even to a not too attentive audience. For we must  p211 never forget that the attention of the judge is not always so keen that he will dispel obscurities without assistance, and bring the light of his intelligence to bear on the dark places of our speech. On the contrary, he will have many other thoughts to distract him unless what we say is so clear that our words will thrust themselves into his mind even when he is not giving us his attention, just as the sunlight forces itself upon the eyes. 24 Therefore our aim must be not to put him in a position to understand our argument, but to force him to understand it. Consequently we shall frequently repeat anything which we think the judge has failed to take in as he should. We shall say, for example, "I fear that this portion of our case has been somewhat obscurely stated: the fault is mine, and I will therefore re-state it in plainer and simpler language"; for the pretended admission of a fault on our part creates an excellent impression.

3 1 I now come to the subject of ornament, in which, more than in any other department, the orator undoubtedly allows himself the greatest indulgence. For a speaker wins but trifling praise if he does no more than speak with correctness and lucidity; in fact his speech seems rather to be free from blemish than to have any positive merit. 2 Even the untrained often possess the gift of invention, and no great learning need be assumed for the satisfactory arrangement of our matter, while if any more recondite art is required, it is generally concealed, since unconcealed it would cease to be an art, while all these qualities are employed solely to serve the interests of the actual case. On the other hand, by the employment of skilful ornament the orator  p213 commends himself at the same time, and whereas his other accomplishments appeal to the considered judgment of the learned, this gift appeals to the enthusiastic approval of the world at large, and the speaker who possesses it fights not merely with effective, but with flashing weapons. 3 If in his defence of Cornelius Cicero had confined himself merely to instructing the judge and speaking in clear and idiomatic Latin without a thought beyond the interests of his case, would he ever have compelled the Roman people to proclaim their admiration not merely by acclamation, but by thunders of applause? No, it was the sublimity and splendour, the brilliance and the weight of his eloquence that evoked such clamorous enthusiasm. 4 Nor, again, would his words have been greeted with such extraordinary approbation if his speech had been like the ordinary speeches of every day. In my opinion the audience did not know what they were doing, their applause sprang neither from their judgment nor their will; they were seized with a kind of frenzy and, unconscious of the place in which they stood, burst forth spontaneously into a perfect ecstasy of delight.

5 But rhetorical ornament contributes not a little to the furtherance of our case as well. For when our audience find it a pleasure to listen, their attention and their readiness to believe what they hear are both alike increased, while they are generally filled with delight, and sometimes even transported by admiration. The flash of the sword in itself strikes something of terror to the eye, and we should be less alarmed by the thunderbolt if we feared its violence alone, and not its flash as well. 6 Cicero was right when, in one of his letters23 to Brutus, he  p215 wrote, "Eloquence which evokes no admiration is, in my opinion, unworthy of the name." Aristotle24 likewise thinks that the excitement of admiration should be one of our first aims.

But such ornament must, as I have already said,25 be bold, manly and chaste, free from all artificial dyes, and must glow with health and vigour. 7 So true is this, that although, where ornament is concerned, vice and virtue are never far apart, those who employ a vicious style of embellishment disguise their vices with the name of virtue. Therefore let none of our decadents accuse me of being an enemy to those who speak with grace and finish. I do not deny the existence of such a virtue, I merely deny that any possess it. 8 Shall I regard a farm as a model of good cultivation because its owner shows me lilies and violets and anemones and fountains of living water in place of rich crops and vines bowed beneath their clusters? Shall I prefer the barren plane and myrtles trimly clipped, to the fruitful olive and the elm that weds the vine? No, let such luxuries delight the rich: but where would their wealth be if they had nought save these? 9 Again, is beauty an object of no consideration in the planting of fruit trees? Certainly not! For my trees must be planted in due order and at fixed intervals. What fairer sight is there than rows of trees planted in échelon26 which present straight lines to the eye from whatever angle they be viewed? But it has an additional advantage, since this form of plantation enables every tree to derive an equal share of moisture from the soil.a 10 When the tops of my olive trees rise too high, I lop them away, with the result that their growth expands laterally  p217 in a manner that is at once more pleasing to the eye and enables them to bear more fruit owing to the increase in the number of branches. A horse whose flanks are compact is not only better to look upon, but swifter in speed. The athlete whose muscles have been formed by exercise is a joy to the eye, but he is also better fitted for the contests in which he must engage. 11 In fact true beauty and usefulness always go hand in hand.

It does not, however, require any special ability to discern the truth of this. It is more important to note that such seemly ornament must be varied to suit the nature of the material to which it is applied. To begin with the primary classification of oratory, the same form of ornament will not suit demonstrative, deliberative and forensic speeches. For the oratory of display aims solely at delighting the audience, and therefore develops all the resources of eloquence and deploys all its ornament, since it seeks not to steal its way into the mind nor to wrest the victory from its opponent, but aims solely at honour and glory. 12 Consequently the orator, like the hawker who displays his wares, will set forth before his audience for their inspection, nay, almost for their handling, all his most attractive reflexions, all the brilliance that language and the charm that figures can supply, together with all the magnificence of metaphor and the elaborate art of composition that is at his disposal. For his success concerns himself, and not his cause. 13 But when it is a question of facts, and he is confronted by the hard realities of battle, his last thought will be for his personal glory. Nay, it is even unseemly to trouble overmuch about words when the greatest interests are at stake. I would  p219 not assert that such themes afford no scope for ornament, but such ornament as is employed must be of a more severe, restrained and less obvious character; above all, it must be adapted to the matter in hand. 14 For whereas in deliberative oratory the senate demand a certain loftiness and the people a certain impetuosity of eloquence, the public cases of the courts and those involving capital punishment demand a more exact style. On the other hand, in private deliberations and lawsuits about trifling sums of money (and there are not a few of these) it is more appropriate to employ simple and apparently unstudied language. For we should be ashamed to demand the repayment of a loan in rolling periods, or to display poignant emotion in a case concerned with water-droppings,b or to work ourselves into a perspiration over the return of a slave to the vendor. But I am wandering from the point.

15 Since rhetorical ornament, like clearness, may reside either in individual words or groups of words, we must consider the requirements of both cases. For although the canon, that clearness mainly requires propriety of language and ornament the skilful use of metaphor, is perfectly sound, it is desirable that we should realise that without propriety ornament is impossible. 16 But as several words may often have the same meaning (they are called synonyms), some will be more distinguished, sublime, brilliant, attractive or euphonious than others. For as those syllables are the most pleasing to the ear which are composed of the more euphonious letters, thus words composed of such syllables will sound better than others, and the more vowel-sounds they contain the more attractive they will be to hear.  p221 The same principle governs the linking of word with word; some arrangements will sound better than others. 17 But words require to be used in different ways. For example, horrible things are best described by words that are actually harsh to the ear. But as a general rule it may be laid down that the best words, considered individually, are those which are fullest or most agreeable in sound. Again, elegant words are always to be preferred to those which are coarse, and there is no room for low words in the speech of a cultivated man. 18 The choice of striking or sublime words will be determined by the matter in hand; for a word that in one context is magnificent may be turgid in another, and words which are all too mean to describe great things may be suitable enough when applied to subjects of less importance. And just as a mean word embedded in a brilliant passage attracts special attention, like a spot on a bright surface, so if our style be of a plain character, sublime and brilliant words will seem incongruous and tasteless excrescences on a flat surface. 19 In some cases instinct, and not reason, must supply the touchstone, as, for example, in the line:27

"A sow was slain to ratify their pacts."

Here the poet, by inventing the word porca, succeeded in producing an elegant impression, whereas if he had used the masculine porcus, the very reverse would have been the case. In some cases, however, the incongruity is obvious enough. It was only the other day that we laughed with good reason at the poet who wrote:

"The youngling mice had gnawed

Within its chest the purple-bordered gown."28

 p223  20 On the other hand, we admire Virgil29 when he says:

"Oft hath the tiny mouse," etc.

For here the epithet is appropriate and prevents our expecting too much, while the use of the singular instead of the plural, and the unusual monosyllabic conclusion of the line, both add to the pleasing effect. Horace30 accordingly imitated Virgil in both these points, when he wrote,

"The fruit shall be a paltry mouse."

21 Again, our style need not always dwell on the heights: at times it is desirable that it should sink. For there are occasions when the very meanness of the words employed adds force to what we say. When Cicero, in his denunciation of Piso,31 says, "When your whole family rolls up in a dray," do you think that his use of the word dray was accidental, and was not designedly used to increase his audience's contempt for the man he wished to bring to ruin? The same is true when he says elsewhere, "You put down your head and butt him." 22 This device may also serve to carry off a jest, as in the passage of Cicero where he talks of the "little sprat of a boy who slept with his elder sister,"32 or where he speaks of "Flavius, who put out the eyes of crows,"33 or, again, in the pro Milone,34 cries, "Hi, there! Rufio!" and talks of "Erucius Antoniaster."35 On the other hand, this practice becomes more obtrusive when employed in the schools, like the phrase that was so much praised in my boyhood, "Give your father bread," or in the same declamation, "You feed even your dog."36 23 But such tricks do not always come off, especially in  p225 the schools, and often turn the laugh against the speaker, particularly in the present day, when declamation has become so far removed from reality and labours under such an extravagant fastidiousness in the choice of words that it has excluded a good half of the language from its vocabulary.

24 Words are proper, newly-coined or metaphorical. In the case of proper words there is a special dignity conferred by antiquity, since old words, which not everyone would think of using, give our style a venerable and majestic air: this is a form of ornament of which Virgil, with his perfect taste, has made unique use. 25 For his employment of words such as olli,37 quianam,38 moerus,39 pone40 and pellacia41 gives his work that impressive air of antiquity which is so attractive in pictures, but which no art of man can counterfeit. But we must not overdo it, and such words must not be dragged out from the deepest darkness of the past. Quaeso is old enough: what need for us to say quaiso?42 Oppido was still used by my older contemporaries, but I fear that no one would tolerate it now. At any rate, antegerio,43 which means the same, would certainly never be used by anyone who was not possessed with a passion for notoriety. 26 What need have we of aerumnosum?44 It is surely enough to call a thing horridum. Reor may be tolerated, autumo45 smacks of tragedy, proles46 has become a rarity, while prosapia47 stamps the man who uses it as lacking taste. Need I say more? Almost the whole language has changed. 27 But there are still some old words that are endeared to us by  p227 their antique sheen, while there are others that we cannot avoid using occasionally, such, for example, as nuncupare and fari:48 there are yet others which it requires some daring to use, but which may still be employed so long as we avoid all appearance of that affectation which Virgil49 has derided so cleverly:

28 "Britain's Thucydides, whose mad Attic brain

Loved word-amalgams like Corinthian bronze,

First made a horrid blend of words from Gaul,

Tau, al, min, sil and God knows how much else,

Then mixed them in a potion for his brother!"

29 This was a certain Cimber who killed his brother, a fact which Cicero recorded in the words, "Cimber has killed his brother German."50

The epigram against Sallust is scarcely less well known:

"Crispus, you, too, Jugurtha's fall who told,

And filched such store of words from Cato old."

30 It is a tiresome kind of affectation; any one can practise it, and it is made all the worse by the fact that the man who catches the infection will not choose his words to suit his facts, but will drag in irrelevant facts to provide an opportunity for the use of such words.

The coining of new words is, as I stated in the first book,51 more permissible in Greek, for the Greeks did not hesitate to coin nouns to represent certain sounds and emotions, and in truth they were taking no greater liberty than was taken by the first men when they gave names to things. 31 Our own writers have ventured on a few attempts at composition and derivation, but have not met with  p229 much success. I remember in my young days there was a dispute between Pomponius and Seneca which even found its way into the prefaces of their works, as to whether gradus eliminat52 was a phrase which ought to have been allowed in tragedy. But the ancients had no hesitation about using even expectorat53 and after all, it presents exactly the same formation as exanimat. 32 Of the coining of words by expansion and inflexion we have examples, such as the Ciceronian54 beatitas and beatitudo, forms which he feels to be somewhat harsh, though he thinks they may be softened by use. Derivatives may even be fashioned from proper names, quite apart from ordinary words, witness Sullaturit55 in Cicero and Fimbriatus and Figulatus56 in Asinius. 33 Many new words have been coined in imitation of the Greeks,57 more especially by Verginius Flavus, some of which, such as queens and essentia, are regarded as unduly harsh. But I see no reason why we should treat them with such contempt, except, perhaps, that we are highly self-critical and suffer in consequence from the poverty of our language. Some new formulations do, however, succeed in establishing themselves. 34 For words which now are old, once were new, and there are some words in use which are of quite recent origin, such as reatus,58 invented by Messala, and munerarius,59 invented by Augustus. So, too, my own teachers still persisted in banning the use of words, such as piratica, musica and fabrica, while Cicero regards favor and urbanus as but newly introduced into the language. For in a letter to Brutus he says, eum amoremº et eum, ut hoc  p231 verbo utar, favorem in consilium advocabo,60 35 while to Appius Pulcher he writes, te hominem non solum sapientem, verum etiam, ut nunc loquimur, urbanum.61 He also thinks that Terence was the first to use the word obsequium, while Caecilius asserts that Sisenna was the first to use the phrase albente caelo.62 Hortensius seems to have been the first to use cervix in the singular, since the ancients confined themselves to the plural. We must not be cowards, for I cannot agree with Celsus when he forbids orators to coin new words. 36 For some words, as Cicero63 says, are native, that is to say, are used in their original meaning, while others are derivative, that is to say, formed from the native. Granted then that we are not justified in coining entirely new words having no resemblance to the words invented by primitive man, I must still ask at what date we were first forbidden to form derivatives and to modify and compound words, processes which were undoubtedly permitted to later generations of mankind. 37 If, however, one of our inventions seems a little risky, we must take certain measures in advance to save it from censure, prefacing it by phrases such as "so to speak," "if I may say so," "in a certain sense," or "if you will allow me to make use of such a word." The same practice may be followed in the case of bold metaphors, and it is not too much to say that almost anything can be said with safety provided we show by the very fact of our anxiety that the word or phrase in question is not due to an error of judgment. The Greeks have a neat saying on this subject, advising us to be the first to blame our own hyperbole.64

38 The metaphorical use of words cannot be recommended  p233 except in connected discourse. Enough has now been said on the subject of single words, which, as I have pointed out elsewhere,65 have no intrinsic value of their own. On the other hand, there is no word which is intrinsically ugly unless it be beneath the dignity of the subject on which we have to speak, excepting always such words as are nakedly obscene. 39 I would commend this remark to those who do not think it necessary to avoid obscenity on the ground that no word is indecent in itself and that, if a thing is revolting, its unpleasantness will be realised clearly enough by whatever name it is called. Accordingly, I shall content myself with following the good old rules of Roman modesty and, as I have already replied to such persons, shall vindicate the cause of decency by saying no more on this unpleasant subject.

40 Let us now pass to consider connected discourse. Its adornment may be effected, primarily, in two ways; that is to say, we must consider first our ideal of style, and secondly how we shall express this ideal in actual words. The first essential is to realise clearly what we wish to enhance or attenuate, to express with vigour or calm, in luxuriant or austere language, at length or with conciseness, with gentleness or asperity, magnificence or subtlety, gravity or wit. 41 The next essential is to decide by what kind of metaphor, figures, reflexions, methods and arrangement we may best produce the effect which we desire.

But, before I discuss ornament, I must first touch upon its opposite, since the first of all virtues is the avoidance of faults. 42 Therefore we must not expect any speech to be ornate that is not, in the first place,  p235 acceptable. An acceptable style is defined by Cicero66 as one which is not over-elegant: not that our style does not require elegance and polish, which are essential parts of ornament, but that excess is always a vice. 43 He desires, therefore, that our words should have a certain weight about them, and that our thoughts should be of a serious cast or, at any rate, adapted to the opinions and character of mankind. These points once secured, we may proceed to employ those expressions which he regards as conferring distinction on style, that is to say, specially selected words and phrases, metaphor, hyperbole, appropriate epithets, repetitions, synonyms and all such language as may suit our case and provide an adequate representation of the facts.

44 But since my first task is to point out the faults to be avoided, I will begin by calling attention to the fault known as κακέμφατον, a term applied to the employment of language to which perverted usage has given an obscene meaning: take, for example, phrases such as ductare exercitus and patrare bellum,67 which were employed by Sallust in their old and irreproachable sense, but, I regret to say, cause amusement in certain quarters to‑day. This, however, is not, in my opinion, the fault of the writer, but of his readers; 45 still it is one to be avoided, for we have perverted the purity of the language by our own corruption, and there is no course left to us but to give ground before the victorious advance of vice. The same term is also applied in the cases where an unfortunate collocation of words produces an obscene suggestion. For example, in the phrase cum hominibus notis loqui, unless hominibus is placed between cum and notis, we shall commit ourselves to a phrase  p237 which will require some apology, since the final letter of the first syllable, which cannot be pronounced without closing the lips, will force us either to pause in a most unbecoming manner, or by assimilation to the n which follows68 will produce a most objectionable suggestion. 46 I might quote other collocations of words which are liable to the same objection, but to discuss them in detail would be to fall into that very fault which I have just said should be avoided. A similar offence against modesty may be caused by the division of words, as, for example, by the use of the nominative of intercapedinis.69 47 And it is not merely in writing that this may occur, but you will find, unless you exercise the greatest care, that there are a number of persons who take pleasure in putting an indecent interpretation on words, thinking, as Ovid70 says:

"that whatsoe'er is hid is best of all."

Nay, an obscene meaning may be extracted even from words which are as far removed from indecency as possible. Celsus, for example, detects an instance of κακέμφατον in the Virgilian71 phrase:

incipiunt agitata tumescere;

but if this point of view be accepted, it will be risky to say anything at all.

48 Next to indecency of expression comes meanness, styled ταπείνωσις, when the grandeur or dignity of anything is diminished by the words used, as in the line:

"There is a rocky wart upon the mountain's brow."72

The opposite fault, which is no less serious, consists  p239 in calling small things by extravagant names, though such a practice is permissible when deliberately designed to raise a laugh. Consequently we must not call a parricide a scamp, nor a man who keeps a harlot a villain, since the first epithet is too weak and the second too strong. 49 This fault will result in making our language dull, or coarse, jejune, heavy, unpleasing or slovenly, all of which faults are best realised by reference to the virtues which are their opposites, that is, point, polish, richness, liveliness, charm, and finish.

50 We must also avoid μείωσις, a term applied to meagreness and inadequacy of expression, although it is a fault which characterises an obscure style rather than one which lacks ornament. But meiosis may be deliberately employed, and is then called a figure, as also is tautology, which means the repetition of a word or phrase. 51 The latter, though not avoided with special care even by the best authors, may sometimes be regarded as a fault: it is, in fact, a blemish into which Cicero not infrequently falls through indifference to such minor details: take, for example, the following passage,73 "Judges, this judgment was not merely unlike a judgment." It is sometimes give another name, ἐπανάληψις, under which appellation it is ranked among figures, of which I shall give examples when I come to the discussion of stylistic virtues.74

52 A worse fault is ὁμοείδεια, or sameness, a term applied to the style which has no variety to relieve its tedium, and which presents a uniform monotony of hue. This is one of the surest signs of lack of art, and produces a uniquely unpleasing effect, not merely on the mind, but on the ear, on account of its sameness  p241 of thought, the uniformity of its figures, and the monotony of its structure. 53 We must also avoid macrology, that is, the employment of more words than are necessary, as, for instance, in the sentence of Livy, "The ambassadors, having failed to obtain peace, went back home, whence they had come."75 On the other hand, periphrasis, which is akin to this blemish, is regarded as a virtue. Another fault is pleonasm, when we overload our style with a superfluity of words, as in the phrase, "I saw it with my eyes," where "I saw it" would have been sufficient. 54 Cicero passed a witty comment on a fault of this kind in a declamation of Hirtius when he said that a child had been carried for ten months in his mother's womb. "Oh," he said, "I suppose other women carry them in their bags."76 Sometimes, however, the form of pleonasm, of which I have just given an example, may have a pleasing effect when employed for the sake of emphasis, as in the Virgilian phrase:77

"With mine own ears his voice I heard."

55 But whenever the addition is not deliberate, but merely tame and redundant, it must be regarded as a fault. There is also a fault entitled περιεργία which I may perhaps translate by superfluous elaboration, which differs from its corresponding virtue much as fussiness differs from industry, and superstition from religion. Finally, every word which neither helps the sense nor the style may be regarded as faulty.

56 Cacozelia, or perverse affectation, is a fault in every kind of style: for it includes all that is turgid, trivial, luscious, redundant, far-fetched or extravagant, while the same name is also applied to virtues  p243 carried to excess, when the mind loses its critical sense and is misled by the false appearance of beauty, the worst of all offences against style, since other faults are due to carelessness, but this is deliberate. 57 This form of affectation, however, affects style alone. For the employment of arguments which might equally well be advanced by the other side, or are foolish, inconsistent or superfluous, are all faults of matter, whereas corruption of style is revealed in the employment of improper or redundant words, in obscurity of meaning, effeminacy of rhythm, or in the childish search for similar or ambiguous expressions. 58 Further, it always involves insincerity, even though all insincerity does not imply affectation. For it consists in saying something in an unnatural or unbecoming or superfluous manner. Style may, however, be corrupted in precisely the same number of ways that it may be adorned. But I have discussed this subject at greater length in another work,78 and have frequently called attention to it in this, while I shall have occasion to mention it continually in the remaining books. For in dealing with ornament, I shall occasionally speak of faults which have to be avoided, but which are hard to distinguish from virtues.

59 To these blemishes may be added faulty arrangement or ἀνοικονόμητον, the faulty use of figures or ἀσχημάτιστον, and the faulty collocation of words or κακοσύνθετον. But, as I have already discussed arrangement, I will confine myself to the consideration of figures and structure. There is also a fault known as Σαρδισμὸς, which consists in the indiscriminate use of several dialects, as, for instance, would result from mixing Doric, Ionic, and  p245 even Aeolic words with Attic. 60 A similar fault is found amongst ourselves, consisting in the indiscriminate mixture of grand words with mean, old with new, and poetic with colloquial, the result being a monstrous medley like that described by Horace in the opening portion of his Ars poetica,79

"If a painter choose
To place a man's head on a horse's neck,"

and, he proceeds to say, should add other limbs from different animals.

61 The ornate is something that goes beyond what is merely lucid and acceptable. It consists firstly in forming a clear conception of what we wish to say, secondly in giving this adequate expression, and thirdly in lending it additional brilliance, a process which may correctly be termed embellishment. Consequently we must place among ornaments that ἐνάργεια which I mentioned in the rules which I laid down for the statement of facts,80 because vivid illustration, or, as some prefer to call it, representation, is something more than mere clearness, since the latter merely lets itself be seen, whereas the former thrusts itself upon our notice. 62 It is a great gift to be able to set forth the facts on which we are speaking clearly and vividly. For oratory fails of its full effect, and does not assert itself as it should, if its appeal is merely to the hearing, and if the judge merely feels that the facts on which he has to give his decision are being narrated to him, and not displayed in their living truth to the eyes of the mind. 63 But since different views have been held with regard to this art of representation, I shall not attempt to divide it into  p247 all its different departments, whose number is ostentatiously multiplied by certain writers, but shall content myself with touching on those which appear to me to be absolutely necessary. There is, then, to begin with, one form of vividness which consists in giving an actual word-picture of a scene, as in the passage beginning,

"Forthwith each hero tiptoe stood erect."81

Other details follow which give us such a picture of the two boxers confronting each other for the fight, that it could not have been clearer had we been actual spectators. 64 Cicero is supreme in this department, as in others. Is there anybody so incapable of forming a mental picture of a scene that, when he reads the following passage from the Verrines,82 he does not seem not merely to see the actors in the scene, the place itself and their very dress, but even to imagine to himself other details that the orator does not describe? "There on the shore stood the praetor, the representative of the Roman people, with slippered feet, robed in a purple cloak, a tunic streaming to his heels, and leaning on the arm of this worthless woman." 65 For my own part, I seem to see before my eyes his face, his eyes, the unseemly blandishments of himself and his paramour, the silent loathing and frightened shame of those who viewed this scene. 66 At times, again, the picture which we endeavour to present is fuller in detail, as, for example, in the following description of a luxurious banquet, which is also from Cicero,83 since he by himself is capable of supplying admirable examples of every kind of oratorical ornament: "I seemed to see some entering, some leaving the room,  p249 some reeling under the influence of the wine, others yawning with yesterday's potations. The floor was foul with wine-smears, covered with wreaths half-withered and littered with fishbones." 67 What more would any man have seen who had actually entered the room? So, too, we may move our hearers to tears by the picture of a captured town. For the mere statement that the town was stormed, while no doubt it embraces all that such a calamity involves, has all the curtness of a dispatch, and fails to penetrate to the emotions of the hearer. 68 But if we expand all that the one word "stormed" includes, we shall see the flames pouring from house and temple, and hear the crash of falling roofs and one confused clamour blent of many cries: we shall behold some in doubt whither to fly, others clinging to their nearest and dearest in one last embrace, while the wailing of women and children and the laments of old men that the cruelty of fate should have spared them to see that day will strike upon our ears. 69 Then will come the pillage of treasure sacred and profane, the hurrying to and fro of the plunderers as they carry off their booty or return to seek for more, the prisoners driven each before his own inhuman captor, the mother struggling to keep her child, and the victors fighting over the richest of the spoil. For though, as I have already said, the sack of a city includes all these things, it is less effective to tell the whole news at once than to recount it detail by detail. 70 And we shall secure the vividness we seek, if only our descriptions give the impression of truth, nay, we may even add fictitious incidents of the type which commonly occur. The same vivid impression may be produced  p251 also by the mention of the accidents of each situation:

"Chill shudderings shake my limbs
And all my blood is curdled cold with fear;"84


"And trembling mothers clasped

Their children to their breast."85

71 Though the attainment of such effects is, in my opinion, the highest of all oratorical gifts, it is far from difficult of attainment. Fix your eyes on nature and follow her. All eloquence is concerned with the activities of life, while every man applies to himself what he hears from others, and the mind is always readiest to accept what it recognises to be true to nature.

72 The invention of similes has also provided an admirable means of illuminating our descriptions. Some of these are designed for insertion among our arguments to help our proof, while others are devised to make our pictures yet more vivid; it is with this latter class of simile that I am now specially concerned. The following are good examples:—

"Thence like fierce wolves beneath the cloud of night,"86


"Like the bird that flies87

Around the shore and the fish-haunted reef,

Skimming the deep."

73 In employing this form of ornament we must be especially careful that the subject chosen for our simile is neither obscure nor unfamiliar: for anything that is selected for the purpose of illuminating  p253 something else must itself be clearer than that which it is designed to illuminate. Therefore while we may permit poets to employ such similes as:—

"As when Apollo wintry Lycia leaves,

And Xanthus' streams, or visits Delos' isle,

His mother's home,"88

it would be quite unsuitable for an orator to illustrate something quite plain by such obscure allusions. 74 But even the type of simile which I discussed in connexion with arguments89 is an ornament to oratory, and serves to make it sublime, rich, attractive or striking, as the case may be. For the more remote the simile is from the subject to which it is applied, the greater will be the impression of novelty and the unexpected which it produces. 75 The following type may be regarded as commonplace and useful only as helping to create an impression of sincerity: "As the soil is improved and rendered more fertile by culture, so is the mind by education," or "As physicians amputate mortified limbs, so must we lop away foul and dangerous criminals, even though they be bound to us by ties of blood." Far finer is the following from Cicero's90 defence of Archias: "Rock and deserts reply to the voice of man, savage beasts are oft-times tamed by the power of music and stay their onslaught," and the rest. 76 This type of simile has, however, sadly degenerated in the hands of some of our declaimers owing to the license of the schools. For they adopt false comparisons, and even then do not apply them as they should to the subjects to which they wish them to provide a parallel. Both these faults are exemplified in two similes which were on the lips of everyone  p255 when I was a young man, "Even the sources of mighty rivers are navigable," and "The generous tree bears fruit while it is yet a sapling." 77 In every comparison the simile either precedes or follows the subject which it illustrates. But sometimes it is free and detached, and sometimes, a far better arrangement, is attached to the subject which it illustrates, the correspondence between the resemblances being exact, an effect produced by reciprocal representation, which the Greeks style ἀνταπόδοσις. 78 For example, the simile already cased,

"Thence like fierce wolves beneath the cloud of night,"91

precedes its subject. On the other hand, an example of the simile following its subject is to be found in the first Georgic, where, after the long lamentation over the wars civil and foreign that have afflicted Rome, there come the lines:

"As when, the barriers down, the chariots speed

Lap after lap; in vain the charioteer

Tightens the curb: his steeds ungovernable

Sweep him away nor heeds the car the rein."92

79 There is, however, no antapodosis in these similes. Such reciprocal representation places both subjects of comparison before our very eyes, displaying them side by side. Virgil provides many remarkable examples, but it will be better for me to quote from oratory. In the pro Murena Cicero93 says, "As among Greek musicians (for so they say), only those turn flute-players that cannot play the lyre, so here at Rome we see that those who cannot acquire the art of oratory betake themselves to the study of the  p257 law." 80 There is also another simile in the same speech,94 which is almost worthy of a poet, but in virtue of its reciprocal representation is better adapted for ornament: "For as tempests are generally preceded by some premonitory signs in the heaven, but often, on the other hand, break forth for some obscure reason without any warning whatsoever, so in the tempests which sway the people at our Roman elections we are not seldom in a position to discern their origin, and yet, on the other hand, it is frequently so obscure that the storm seems to have burst without any apparent cause." 81 We find also shorter similes, such as "Wandering like wild beasts through the woods," or the passage from Cicero's speech against Clodius:95 "He fled from the court like a man escaping naked from a fire." Similar examples from everyday speech will occur to everyone.

Such comparisons reveal the gift not merely of placing a thing vividly before the eye, but of doing so with rapidity and without waste of detail. 82 The praise awarded to perfect brevity is well-deserved; but, on the other hand, brachylogy, which I shall deal with when I come to speak of figures, that is to say, the brevity that says nothing more than what is absolutely necessary, is less effective, although it may be employed with admirable results when it expresses a great deal in a very few words, as in Sallust's description of Mithridates as "huge of stature, and armed to match." But unsuccessful attempts to imitate this form of terseness result merely in obscurity.

83 A virtue which closely resembles the last, but is on a grander scale, is emphasis, which succeeds  p259 in revealing a deeper meaning than is actually expressed by the words. There are two kinds of emphasis: the one means more than it says, the other often means something which it does not actually say. 84 An example of the form is found in Homer,96 where he makes Menelaus say that the Greeks descended into the Wooden Horse, indicating its size by a single verb. Or again, there is the following example by Virgil:97

"Descending by a rope let down,"

a phrase which in a similar manner indicates the height of the horse. The same poet,98 when he says that the Cyclops lay stretched "throughout the cave," by taking the room occupied as the standard of measure, gives an impression of the giant's immense bulk. 85 The second kind of emphasis consists either in the complete suppression of a word or in the deliberate omission to utter it. As an example of complete suppression I may quote the following passage from the pro Ligario,99 where Cicero says: "But if your exalted position were not matched by your goodness of heart, a quality which is all your own, your very own — I know well enough what I am saying —" Here he suppresses the fact, which is none the less clear enough to us, that he does not lack counsellors who would incite him to cruelty. The omission of a word is produced by aposiopesis, which, however, being a figure, shall be dealt with in its proper place.100 86 Emphasis is also found in the phrases of every day, such as "Be a man!" or "He is but mortal," or "We must live!" So like, as a rule, is nature to art.

It is not, however, sufficient for eloquence to set  p261 forth its theme in brilliant and vivid language: there are many different ways of embellishing our style. 87 For even that absolute and unaffected simplicity which the Greeks call ἀφελεια has in it a certain chaste ornateness which as we admire also in women, while a minute accuracy in securing propriety and precision in our words likewise produces an impression of neatness and delicacy. Again copiousness may consist either in wealth of thought or luxuriance of language. 88 Force, too, may be shown in different ways; for there will always be force in anything that is in its own way effective. Its most important exhibitions are to be found in the following: δείνωσις, or a certain sublimity in the exaggerated denunciation of unworthy conduct, to mention no other topics; φαντασία, or imagination, which assists us to form mental pictures of things; ἐξεργασία, or finish, which produces completeness of effect; ἐπεξεργασία, an intensified form of the preceding, which reasserts our proofs and clinches the argument by repetition; 89 and ἐνέργεια, or vigour, a near relative of all these qualities, which derives its name from action and finds its peculiar function in securing that nothing that we say is tame. Bitterness, which is generally employed in abuse, may be of service as in the following again from Cassius: "What will you do when I invade your special province, that is, when I show that, as far as abuse is concerned, you are a mere ignoramus?"101 Pungency also may be employed, as in the following remark of Crassus: "Shall I regard you as a consul, when you refuse to regard me as a senator?" But the real power of oratory lies in enhancing or attenuating the force  p263 of words. Each of these departments has the same number of methods; I shall touch on the more important; those omitted will be of a like character, while all are concerned either with words or things. 90 I have, however, already dealt with the methods of invention and arrangement, and shall therefore now concern myself with the way in which style may elevate or depress the subject in hand.

The Translator's Notes:

1 De Or. I.XXI.94.

2 Cic. Or. xiv.44.

3 De Or. I.III.12.

4 Probably salsamenta.

5 Aen. IV.419.

6 Presumably in the sense, "He spoke like one in bodily pain."

7 Lit. i. e. in the proper sense the sole of the foot and a thrush.

8 Suet. Caes. 53.

9 Ecl. vi.5.

10 Odes I.XII.1, and III.VI.36.

11 Georg. I.295 and Aen. XI.681.

12 Sc. ch. vi.

13 See IX.II.64.

14 An Apulian term for the Scirocco. What is the peculiarity of a sack-ship is unknown. It is possible that with Haupt we should read stlataria, "a broad-beamed merchant-vessel."

15 Reference unknown.

16 See VIII.VI.62.

17 Aen. I.109. The awkwardness of the order cannot be brought out in English.

18 Georg. III.79‑83.

19 See VII.IX.10.

20 i.e. and not the man by the book!

21 Perhaps in his letter to his son, for which see II.V.20.

22 Like a wild beast devouring his prey.

23 Now lost.

24 Rhet. III.II.5.

25 In the introduction to this book, 19.

26 Quincunx. The formation may be thus represented:

*    *    *    *
  *    *    *  
*    *    *    *

27 Aen. VIII.641.

28 Camillus originally means a "young boy."

Thayer's Note: Actually, the word is much more specific, belonging to the language of religious ritual; applying it to mice is outlandish. For comprehensive details, see the article Camilli in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

29 Georg. I.181.

30 A. P. 139.

31 Fr. 10.

32 pro Cael. xv.36.

33 pro Mur. xi.25. Our equivalent is "catch a weasel asleep."

34 pro Mil. xxii.60. Rufio, a slave name = red head.

35 From the lost pro Vareno. "Erucius, Antonius' ape."

36 A declamation turning on the law that sons must support their parents.

37 Archaic for illi.

38 Because.

39 Archaic for murus (Aen. X.24).

40 Behind.

41 Deceitfulness (Aen. II.90).

42 quaeso = pray, oppido = quite, exactly.

43 Quite, very.

44 Wretched.

45 Assert.

46 Offspring.

47 Stock, family.

48 Name, speak.

49 Catal. ii.

50 Phil. XI.VI.14. A pun on the two meanings of germanus, brother and German.

51 I.V.70.

52 Sc. "moves his steps beyond the threshold."

53 "banishes from his heart."

54 De Nat. D. I.XXXIV.95.

55 ad Att. IX.X.6. "Desires to be a second Sulla."

56 Metamorphosed into Figulus. Presumably refers to Clusinius Figulus, see VII.II.26.

57 See II.XIV.2.

58 The condition of an accused person.

59 The giver of a gladiatorial show.

60 This letter is lost: "I will call that love and that favour, if I may use the word, to be my counsellors."

61 ad Fam. III.VIII.3. "You who are not merely wise, but, as we say nowadays, urbane."

62 "When the sky grew white (at dawn)."

63 Part. Or. V.16.

64 Ar. Rhet. III.VII.9.

65 I.V.3.

66 Part. Or., vi.19.

67 ductare might mean ad libidinem abducere. patrare bellum might mean paedicare formosum.

68 i.e. pronouncing cunnotis.

69 intercapedo, of which the last two syllables might give rise to unseemly laughter; pedo = "break wind."

70 Met. i.502.

71 Georg. I.357.

72 From an unknown tragedian.

73 Pro Cluent. xxxv.96. To bring out the effect criticised by Cicero, iudicium must be translated "judgment." But "trial" is required to give the correct sense. ἐπανάληψις = repetition.

74 IX.II.

75 Fr. 62, Hertz.

76 perula means "a small wallet." But it is noteworthy that in Apul. Met. V.XIV it is used = uterus, and the double-entendre was probably current in Cicero's time.

Thayer's Note: See the article Pera in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, which includes an engraving from a late Roman monument.

77 Aen. IV.359.

78 The lost De causis corruptae eloquentiae.

79 A. P. 1.

80 IV.II.63.

81 Aen. V.426.

82 V.XXXIII.86.

83 From the lost pro Gallio.

84 Aen. III.29.

85 Aen. VII.518.

86 Aen. II.355.

87 Aen. IV.254.

88 Aen. IV.143.

89 V.XI.22.

90 Pro Arch. viii.19.

91 Aen. II.355.

92 Georg. I.512.

93 Pro Mur. xiii.29.

94 Pro Mur. xvii.36.

95 Now lost.

96 Od. XI.523.

97 Aen. II.262.

98 Aen. III.631.

99 v.15: The passage goes on, "Then your victory would have brought bitter grief in its train. For how many of the victors would have wished you to be cruel!" Where then is the suppressio? Quintilian is probably quoting from memory and has forgotten the context.

100 IX.II.54; iii.60.

101 Cassius Severus was famous for his powers of abuse. His opponent was abusive. Cassius says that he will take a leaf out of his book and show him what real abuse is.

Thayer's Notes:

a every tree derives an equal share of moisture from the soil:

b water-droppings: stillicidia, or the water that drops off one person's property (say, a roof) onto another's. The thoroughness of Roman law covered it in some detail: see Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, s.v. Servitutes.

Page updated: 4 Oct 12