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This webpage reproduces a section of
Institutio Oratoria


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

The text is in the public domain.

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(Vol. IV) Quintilian
Institutio Oratoria

Book XII

Chapter 10

 p449  10 1 The question of the "kind of style" to be adopted remains to be discussed. This was described in my original division​40 of my subject as forming its third portion: for I promised that I would speak of the art, the artist and the work. But since oratory is the work both of rhetoric and of the orator, and since it has many forms, as I shall show, the art and the artist are involved in the consideration of all these forms. But they differ greatly from one another, and not merely in species, as statue differs from statue, picture from picture and speech from speech, but in genus as well, as, for example, Etruscan statues differ from Greek and Asiatic orators from Attic. 2 But these different kinds of work, of which I speak, are not merely the product of different authors, but have each their own following of admirers, with the result that the perfect orator has not yet been found, a statement which perhaps may be extended to all arts, not merely because some qualities are more evident in some artists than in others, but because one single form  p451 will not satisfy all critics, a fact which is due in part to conditions of time or place, in part to the taste and ideals of individuals.

3 The first great painters, whose works deserve inspection for something more than their mere antiquity, are said to have been Polygnotus and Aglaophon,​41 whose simple colouring has still such enthusiastic admirers that they prefer these almost primitive works, which may be regarded as the first foundations of the art that was to be, over the works of the greatest of their successors, their motive being, in my opinion, an ostentatious desire to seem persons of superior taste. 4 Later Zeuxis and Parrhasius contributed much to the progress of painting. These artists were separated by no great distance of time, since both flourished about the period of the Peloponnesian war; for example, Xenophon​42 has preserved a conversation between Socrates and Parrhasius. The first-mentioned seems to have discovered the method of representing light and shade, while the latter is said to have devoted special attention to the treatment of line. 5 For Zeuxis emphasised the limbs of the human body,​43 thinking thereby to add dignity and grandeur to his style: it is generally supposed that in this he followed the example of Homer, who likes to represent even his female characters as being of heroic mould. Parrhasius, on the other hand, was so fine a draughtsman that he has been styled the law-giver of his art, on the ground that all other artists take his representations of gods and heroes as models, as though no other course were possible. 6 It was, however, from about the period of the reign of Philip down to that of the successors of Alexander  p453 that painting flourished more especially, although the different artists are distinguished for different excellences. Proto­genes, for example, was renowned for accuracy, Pamphilus and Melanthius for soundness of taste, Antiphilus for facility, Theon of Samos for his depiction of imaginary scenes, known as φαντασίαι, and Apelles for genius and grace, in the latter of which qualities he took especial pride. Euphranor, on the other hand, was admired on the ground that, while he ranked with the most eminent masters of other arts, he at the same time achieved a marvellous skill in the arts of sculpture and painting.

7 The same differences exist between sculptors. The art of Callon and Hegesias​44 is somewhat rude and recalls the Etruscans, but the work of Calamis has already begun to be less stiff, while Myron's statues show a greater form than had been achieved by the artists just mentioned. Polyclitus surpassed all others for care and grace, but although the majority of critics account him as the greatest of sculptors, to avoid making him faultless they express the opinion that his work is lacking in grandeur. 8 For while he gave the human form an ideal grace, he is thought to have been less successful in representing the dignity of the gods. He is further alleged to have shrunken from representing persons of maturer years, and to have ventured on nothing more difficult than a smooth and beardless face. But the qualities lacking in Polyclitus are allowed to have been possessed by Phidias and Alcamenes. 9 On the other hand, Phidias is regarded as more gifted in his representation of gods station of men, and indeed for chryselephantine statues he is without a peer, as he would in truth be, even if he  p455 had produced nothing in this material beyond his Minerva at Athens and his Jupiter at Olympia in Elis, whose beauty is such that it is said to have added something even to the awe with which the god was already regarded: so perfectly did the majesty of the work give the impression of godhead. Lysippus and Praxiteles are asserted to be supreme as regards faithfulness to nature. For Demetrius is blamed for carrying realism too far, and is less concerned about the beauty than the truth of his work.

10 Now, if we turn our attention to the various styles of oratory, we shall find almost as great variety of talents as there are of personal appearance. There were certain kinds of oratory which, owing to the circumstances of the age, suffered from lack of polish, although in other respects they displayed remarkable genius. In this class we may place orators such as Laelius, Africanus, Cato, and even the Gracchi, whom we may call the "Polygnoti" and "Callones" of oratory. 11 Among orators of the intermediate type we may rank Lucius Crassus and Quintus Hortensius, Then let us turn to a vast harvest of orators who flourished much about the same period. It is here that we find the vigour of Caesar, the natural talent of Caelius, the subtlety of Calidius, the accuracy of Pollio, the dignity of Messala, the austerity of Calvus, the gravity of Brutus, the acumen of Sulpicius and the bitterness of Cassius, while among those whom we have seen ourselves we admire the fluency of Seneca, the strength of Africanus, the mellowness of Afer, the charm of Crispus, the sonority of Trachalus and the elegance of Secundus. 12 But in Cicero we have one who is not,  p457 like Euphranor, merely distinguished in a number of different forms of art, but is supreme in all the different qualities which are praised in each individual orator.​45 And yet even his own contemporaries ventured to attack him on the ground that he was bombastic, Asiatic, redundant, given to excessive witticisms, sensuous, extravagant and (an outrageous accusation!) almost effeminate in his rhythm. 13 And later, after he had fallen a victim to the proscription of the second triumvirate, those who hated and envied him and regarded him as their rival, nay, even those who had flattered him in the days of his power, attacked him now that he could no longer reply. But that very man, who is now regarded by some as being too jejune and dry, was attacked by his personal enemies on no other ground than that his style was too florid and his talents too little under control. Both charges are false, but there is more colour for the lie in the latter case than in the former. 14 Those, however, who criticised him most severely were the speakers who desired to be regarded as the imitators of Attic oratory. This coterie, regarding themselves as the sole initiates in the mysteries of their art, assailed him as an alien, indifferent to their superstitions and refusing to be bound by their laws. Their descendants are among us to‑day, a withered, sapless and anaemic band. 15 For it is they that flaunt their weakness under the name of health, in defiance of the actual truth, and because they cannot endure the dazzling rays of the sun of eloquence, hide themselves beneath the shadow of a mighty name.​46 However, as Cicero himself answered them at length and in a number of  p459 passages, it will be safer for me to be brief in my treatment of this topic.

16 The distinction between the Attic and the Asiatic schools takes us back to antiquity. The former were regarded as concise and healthy, the latter as empty and inflated: the former were remarkable for the absence of all superfluity, while the latter were deficient alike in taste and restraint. The reason for this division, according to some authorities, among them Santra, is to be found in the fact that, as Greek gradually extended its range into the neighbouring cities of Asia, there arose a class of men who desired to distinguish themselves as orators before they had acquired sufficient command of the language, and who consequently began to express by periphrases what could have been expressed directly, until finally this practice became an ingrained habit. 17 My own view, however, is that the difference between the two styles is attributable to the character both of the orators and the audiences whom they addressed: the Athenians, with their polish and refinement, refused to tolerate emptiness and redundance, while the Asiatics, being naturally given to bombast and ostentation, were puffed up with a passion for a more vainglorious style of eloquence. 18 At a later period, the critics, to whom we owe this classification, added a third style, the Rhodian, which they asserted to lie midway between the two and to be a blend of both, since the orators of this school are neither so concise as the Attic nor redundant like the Asiatic school, but appear to derive their style in part from their national characteristics, in part from those of their founder. 19 For it was Aeschines who introduced the culture of  p461 Athens at Rhodes, which he had chosen as his place of exile: and just as certain plants degenerate as a result of change of soil and climate, so the fine Attic flavour was marred by the admixture of foreign ingredients. Consequently certain of the orators of this school are regarded as somewhat slow and lacking in energy, though not devoid of a certain weight, and as resembling placid pools rather than the limpid springs of Athens of the turbid torrents of Asia.

20 No one therefore should have any hesitation in pronouncing the Attic oratory to be by far the best. But although all Attic writers have something in common, namely a keen and exact judgement, their talents manifest themselves in a number of different forms.​a 21 Consequently I regard those critics as committing a serious error who regard only those authors as Attic who, while they are simple, lucid and expressive, are none the less content with a certain frugality of eloquence, and keep their hands modestly within the folds of their cloaks. For what author is there who answers to this conception? I am prepared to grant that there is Lysias, since he is the favourite model of the admirers of this school, and such an admission will save us from being referred to Coccus​47 and Andocides. 22 But I should like to ask whether Isocrates spoke in the Attic style. For there is no author less like Lysias. They will answer in the negative. And yet it is to the school of Isocrates that we owe the greatest orators. Let us look for something closer. Is Hyperides Attic? Yes, they reply, but of an over-sensuous character. I pass by a number of orators, such as Lycurgus and Aristogeiton and their predecessors  p463 Isaeus and Antiphon; for though they have a certain generic resemblance, they may be said to differ in species. 23 But what of Aeschines, whom I mentioned just now? Is not his style ampler and bolder and more lofty than theirs? And what of Demosthenes himself? Did he not surpass all those simple and circumspect orators in force loftiness, energy, polish and rhythm? Does he not rise to great heights in his commonplaces? Does he not rejoice in the employment of figures? Does he not make brilliant use of metaphor? Does he not lend a voice, a fictitious utterance to speechless things? 24 Does not his famous oath by the warriors who fell fighting for their country at Salamis and Marathon show that Plato was his master? And shall we call Plato an Asiatic, Plato who as a rule deserves comparison with poets instinct with the divine fire of inspiration? What of Pericles? Can we believe that his style was like the slender stream of Lysias' eloquence, when the comedians, even when they revile him, compare his oratory to the bolts and thunder of the skies? 25 What is the reason, then, why these critics regard that style which flows in a slender trickle and babbles among the pebbles as having the true Attic flavour and the true scent of Attic thyme? I really think that, if they were to discover a soil of exceptional richness and a crop of unusual abundance within the boundaries of Attica, they would deny it to be Attic, on the ground that it has produced more seed than it received: for you will remember the mocking comments passed by Menander​48 on the exact fidelity with which the soil of Attica repays its deposits. 26 Well, then, if any man should, in addition to the actual virtues which the great orator Demosthenes  p465 possessed, showing himself to be the possessor of others, that either owing to his own temperament of the laws of Athens​49 Demosthenes is thought to have lacked, and should reveal in himself the power of strongly stirring the emotions, shall I hear one of these critics protesting that Demosthenes never did this? And if he produces something rhythmically superior (an impossible feat, perhaps, but let us assume it to be so), are we to be told that it is not Attic? These critics would show finer feeling and better judgement, if they took the view that Attic eloquence meant perfect eloquence.

27 Still I should find this attitude less intolerable if it were only the Greeks that insisted on it. For Latin eloquence, although in my opinion it closely resembles the Greek as far as invention, arrangement, judgement and the like are concerned, and may indeed be regarded as its disciple, cannot aspire to imitate it in point of elocution. For, in the first place, it is harsher in sound, since our alphabet does not contain the most euphonious of the Greek letters, one a vowel and the other a consonant,​50 than which there are none that fall more sweetly on the ear, and which we are forced to borrow whenever we use Greek words. 28 The result of such borrowing is, for some reason or other, the immediate accession to our language of a certain liveliness and charm. Take, for example, words such as zephyri and zophori:​51 if they were spelt according to the Latin alphabet, they would produce a heavy and barbarous sound. For we replace these letters by others of a harsh and unpleasant character,​52 from which Greece is happily immune. 29 For the sixth letter in our alphabet is represented by a sound which can scarcely be  p467 called human or even articulate, being produced by forcing the air through the interstices of the teeth. Such a sound, even when followed by a vowel, is harsh enough and, as often it clashes (frangit) with a consonant,​53 as it does in this very word frangit, becomes harsher still. Then there is the aeolic digamma whose sound occurs in words such as our servus and cervus; for even though we have rejected the actual form of the letter, we cannot get rid of that which it represents.​54 30 Similarly the letter Q, which is superfluous and useless save for the purpose of attaching to itself the vowels by which it is followed, results in the formation of harsh syllables, as, for example, when we write equos and aequum, more especially since these two vowels together produce a sound for which Greek has no equivalent and which cannot therefore be expressed in Greek letters.​55 31 Again, we have a number of words which end with M, a letter which suggests the mooing of a cow, and is never the final letter in any Greek word: for in its place they use the letters ny, the sound of which is naturally pleasant and produces a ringing tone when it occurs at the end of a word, whereas in Latin this termination is scarcely ever found. 32 Again, we have syllables which produce such a harsh effect by ending in B and D, that many, not, it is true, of our most ancient writers, but still writers of considerable antiquity, have attempted to mitigate the harshness not merely by saying aversa for abversa, but by adding an S to the preposition ab, although S is an ugly letter in itself. 33 Our accents also are less agreeable than those of the Greeks. This is due to a certain rigidity and monotony of pronunciation, since the final  p469 syllable is never marked by the rise of the acute accent nor by the rise and fall of the circumflex, but one or even two grave accents​56 are regularly to be found at the end. Consequently the Greek language is so much more agreeable in sound than the Latin, that our poets, whenever they wish their verse to be especially harmonious, adorn it with Greek words. 34 A still stronger indication of the inferiority of Latin is to be found in the fact that there are many things which have no Latin names, so that it is necessary to express them by metaphor or periphrasis, while even in the case of things which have names, the extreme poverty of the language leads us to resort to the same practice.​57 On the other hand, the Greeks have not merely abundance of words, but they have also a number of different dialects.

35 Consequently he who demands from Latin the grace of Attic Greek, must first provide a like charm of tone and equal richness of vocabulary. If this advantage is denied us, we must adapt our thoughts to suit the words we have and, where our matter is unusually slight and delicate, must avoid expressing it in words which are, I will not say too gross, but at any rate too strong for it, for fear that the combination should result in the destruction both of delicacy and force. 36 For the less help we get from the language, the more must we rely on inventiveness of thought to bring us through the conflict. We must discover sentiments full of loftiness and variety, must stir all the emotions and illumine our style by brilliance of metaphor. Since we cannot be so delicate, let us be stronger. If they beat us for subtlety, let us prevail by weight, and if they have greater precision, let us outdo  p471 them in fullness of expression. 37 Even the lesser orators of Greece have their own havens where they may ride in safety,​58 while we as a rule carry more sail. Let stronger gales fill our canvas, and yet let us not always keep the high seas; for at times we must cling to shore. The Greeks can easily traverse any shallows; I must find a deeper, though not much deeper, channel, that my bark may not run aground. 38 For even though the Greeks surpass us where circumstances call for delicacy and restraint, though we acknowledge their superiority in this respect alone, and therefore do not claim to rival them in comedy, that is no justification for our abandonment of this department of oratory, but rather a reason why we should handle it as best we can. Now we can at any rate resemble the Greeks in the method and judgement with which we treat our matter, although that grace of language, which our words cannot provide, must be secured by the admixture of foreign condiments. 39 For example, is not Cicero shrewd, simple and not unduly exalted in tone, when he deals with private cases? Is not Calidius also distinguished for the same virtue? Were not Scipio, Laelius and Cato the Attic orators of Rome? Surely we ought to be satisfied with them, since nothing can be better.

40 There are still some critics who deny that any form of eloquence is purely natural, except that which closely resembles the ordinary speech of everyday life, which we use to our friends, our wives, our children and our slaves, a language, that is to say, which contents itself with expressing the purpose of the mind without seeking to discover anything in the way of elaborate and far-fetched phraseology.  p473 And they hold that whatever is added to this simplicity lays the speaker open to the charge of affectation and pretentious ostentation of speech, void of all sincerity and elaborated merely for the sake of the words, although the sole duty assigned to words by nature is to be the servants of thought. 41 Such language may be compared to the bodies of athletes, which although they develop their strength by exercise and diet, are of unnatural growth and abnormal in appearance. For what, say these critics, is the good of expressing a thing by periphrasis or metaphor (that is, either by a number of words or by words which have no connexion with the thing), when everything has been allotted a name of its own? 42 Finally, they urge that all the earliest orators spoke according to the dictates of nature, but that subsequently there arose a class of speakers resembling poets rather than orators, who regarded false and artificial methods of expression as positive merits; they were, it is true, more sparing than the poets in their use of such expressions, but none the less worked on similar lines. There is some truth in this contention, and we should therefore be careful not to depart from the more exact usage of ordinary speech to the extent that is done by certain orators. 43 On the other hand, that is no reason for thus calumniating the man who, as I said in dealing with the subject of artistic structure,​59 succeeds in improving upon the bare necessaries of style. For the common language of every day seems to me to be of a different character from the style of an eloquent speaker. If all that was required of the latter was merely to indicate the facts, he might rest content with literalness of language, without  p475 further elaboration. But since it is his duty to delight and move his audience and to play upon the various feelings, it becomes necessary for him to employ those additional aids which are granted to us by that same nature which gave us speech. 44 It is, in fact, as natural to do this as to harden the muscles, increase our strength and improve our complexion by means of exercise. It is for this reason that among all nations one man is regarded as more eloquent and more attractive in his style than another (since if this were not the case, all speakers would be equal); but the same men speak differently on different subjects and observe distinctions of character. Consequently the more effective a man's speaking, the more in accordance with the nature of eloquence will it be.

45 I have, therefore, no strong objection even to the views expressed by those who think that some concession should be made to the circumstances under which we speak and to the ears of the audience which require something more polished and emotional than ordinary speech. For this reason I considered that it would be absurd to restrict an orator to the style of the predecessors of Cato and the Gracchi, or even of those orators themselves. And I note that it was the practice of Cicero, while devoting himself in the main to the interests of his case, to take into account the delectation of his audience as well, since, as he pointed out, his own interests were concerned as well as those of his client, although of course the latter were of paramount importance. For his very charm was a valuable asset. 46 I do not know what can be added by way of improvement to the charms of his style, except perhaps the introduction of  p477 something more in the way of brilliant reflexions of suit the taste of our own times. For this can be done without injury to the treatment of our case or impairing the authority of our language, provided that such embellishments are not too frequent or continuous, and do not mutually destroy the effects which they were designed to produce. 47 I am ready to go so far along the path of concession, but let no man press me further. I concur in the fashion of the day to the extent of agreeing that the toga should not be long in the nap, but not to the extent of insisting that it should be of silk: I agree that the hair should be cut, but not that it should be dressed in tiers and ringlets, since we must always remember that ornaments, unless they be judged from the standpoint of the fop and the debauchee, are always effective in proportion to their seemliness. 48 But with regard to those passages to which we give the name of reflexions,​60 a form of ornament which was not employed by the ancients and, above all, not by the Greeks, although I do find it in Cicero, who can deny their usefulness, provided they are relevant to the case, are not too diffuse and contribute to our success? For they strike the mind and often produce a decisive effect by one single blow, while their very brevity makes them cling to the memory, and the pleasure which they produce has the force of persuasion.

49 There are, however, some who, while allowing the actual delivery of such specially brilliant forms of ornament, think that they should be excluded from the written speech. Consequently I must not dismiss even this topic without a word of discussion. For a number of learned authorities  p479 have held that the written and the spoken speech stand on different footings, and that consequently some of the most eloquent of speakers have left nothing for posterity to read in durable literary form, as, for example, is the case with Pericles and Demades. Again, they urge that there have been authors, like Isocrates, who, while admirable writers, were not well-fitted for actual speaking; 50 and, further, that actual pleading is characterised by a greater energy and by the employment, almost verging on licence, of every artifice designed to please, since the minds of an uneducated audience require to be moved and led. On the other hand, the written speech which is published as a model of style must be polished and filed and brought into conformity with the accepted rules and standards of artistic construction, since it will come into the hands of learned men and its art will be judged by artists. 51 These subtle teachers (for such they have persuaded themselves and others that they are) have laid it down that the παράδειγμα61 is best suited for actual speech and the ἐνθύμημα62 for writing. My own view is that there is absolutely no difference between writing well and speaking well, and that a written speech is merely a record of one that has actually been delivered. Consequently it must in my opinion possess every kind of merit, and note that I say merit, not fault. For I know that faults do sometimes meet with the approval of the uneducated. 52 What, then, will be the difference between what is written and what is spoken? If I were given a jury of wise men, I should cut down a large number of passages from the speeches not only of Cicero, but even of Demosthenes, who is much more concise.  p481 For with such a jury there would be no need to appeal to the emotions nor to charm and soothe the ears, since according to Aristotle​63 even exordia are superfluous, if addressed to such persons, as they will have no influence upon judges who truly wise: it will be sufficient to state the facts with precision and significance and to marshal our array of proofs. 53 Since, however, our judges are the people, or drawn from the people, and since those who are appointed to give sentence are frequently ill-educated and sometimes mere rustics, it becomes necessary to employ every method that we think likely to assist our case, and these artifices must not merely be produced in speech, but exhibited in the written version as well, at least if in writing it our design is to show how it should be spoken. 54 If Demosthenes or Cicero had spoken the words as they wrote them, would either have spoken ill? And is our acquaintance with either of those two great orators based on anything save their writings? Did they speak better, then, or word than they wrote? If they spoke worse, all that can be said is that they should have spoken as they wrote, while, if they spoke better, they should have written as they spoke. 55 Well, you ask, is an orator always to speak as he writes? If possible, always. If, however, the time allowed by the judge is too short for this to be possible, he will have to cut out much that he should have said, but the published speech will contain the omitted passages. On the other hand, such passages as were uttered merely to suit the character of the judges will not be published for the benefit of posterity, fear that they should seem to indicate  p483 the author's deliberate judgement instead of being a mere concession to the needs of the moment. 56 For it is most important that we should know how the judge is disposed to listen, and his face will often (as Cicero​64 reminds us) serve as a guide to the speaker. Consequently we must press the points that we see commend themselves to him, and draw back from those which are ill-received, while our actual language must be so modified that he will find our arguments as intelligible as possible. That this should be necessary is scarcely surprising, when we consider the alterations that are frequently necessary to suit the characters of the different witnesses. 57 He was a shrewd man who, when he asked a rustic witness whether he knew Amphion, and the witness replied that he did not, dropped the aspirate and shortened the second syllable,​65 whereupon the witness recognised him at once. Such situations, when it is impossible to speak as we write, will sometimes make it necessary to speak in alng other than that which we use in writing.

58 There is another threefold division, whereby, it is held, we may differentiate three styles of speaking, all of them correct. The first is termed the plain​66 (or ἰσχνόν), the second ground and forcible (or ἁδρόν), and the third either intermediate or florid, the latter being a translation of ἀνθηρον. 59 The nature of these three styles is, broadly speaking, as follows. The first would seem best adapted for instructing, the second for moving, and the third (by whatever name we call it) for charming or, as others would have it, conciliating the audience; for instruction the quality most  p485 needed is acumen, for conciliation gentleness, and for stirring the emotions force. Consequently it is mainly in the plain style that we shall state our facts and advance our proofs, though it should be borne in mind that this style will often be sufficient full in itself without any assistance whatever from the other two. 60 The intermediate style will have more frequent recourse to metaphor and will make a more attractive use of figures, while it will introduce alluring digressions, will be neat in rhythm and pleasing in its reflexions: its flow, however, will be gentle, like that of a river whose waters are clear, but overshadowed by the green banks on either side. 61 But he whose eloquence is like to some great torrent that rolls down rocks and "disdains a bridge"​67 and carves out its own banks for itself, will sweep the judge from his feet, struggle as he may, and force him to go whither he bears him. This is the orator that will call the dead to life (as, for example, Cicero calls upon Appius Caecus);​68 it is in his pages that his native land itself will cry aloud and at times address the orator himself, as it addresses Cicero in the speech delivered against Catiline in the senate. 62 Such an orator will also exalt his style by amplification and rise even to hyperbole, as when Cicero​69 cries, "What Charybdis was ever so voracious!" or "By the god of truth, even Ocean's self," etc. (I choose these fine passages as being familiar to the student). It is such an one that will bring down the Gods to form part of his audience or even to speak with him, as in the following, "For on you I call, ye hills and groves of Alba, on you, I say, ye fallen altars of the Albans, altars that were once the peers and equals  p487 of the holy places of Rome."​70 This is he that will inspire anger or pity, and while he speaks the judge will call upon the gods and weep, following him wherever he sweeps him from one emotion to another, and no longer merely asking for instruction. 63 Wherefore if one of these three styles has to be selected to the exclusion of the others, who will hesitate to prefer this style to all others, since it is by far the strongest and the best adapted to the most important cases? 64 For Homer himself assigns to Menelaus​71 an eloquence, terse and pleasing, exact (for that is what is meant by "making no errors in words") and devoid of all redundance, which qualities are virtues of the first type: and he says that from the lips of Nestor​72 flowed speech sweeter than honey, than which assuredly we can conceive no greater delight: but when he seeks to express the supreme gift of eloquence possessed by Ulysses​73 he gives a mighty voice and a vehemence of oratory equal to the snows of winter in the abundance and the vigour of its words. 65 "With him then," he says, "no mortal will contend, and men shall look upon him as a god."​74 It is this force and impetuosity that Eupolis admires in Pericles, this that Aristophanes​75 compares to the thunderbolt, this that is the power of true eloquence.

66 But eloquence cannot be confined even to these three forms of style. For just as the third style is intermediate between the ground and the plain style, so each of these three are separated by interspaces  p489 which are occupied by intermediate styles compounded of the two which lie on either side. 67 For there are styles fuller or plainer than the plain, and gentler or more vehement than the vehement, while the gentler style itself may either rise to greater force or sink to milder tones. Thus we may discover almost countless species of styles, each differing from the other by some fine shade of difference. We may draw a parallel from the winds. It is generally accepted that there are four blowing from the four quarters of the globe, but we find there are also a large number of winds which lie between these, called by a variety of names, and in certain cases confined to certain districts and river valleys. 68 The same thing may be noted in music. For after assigning five notes to the lyre, musicians fill up the intervals between the strings by a variety of notes, and between these again they interpose yet others, so that the original divisions admit of a number of gradations.

69 Eloquence has, therefore, a quantity of different aspects, but it is sheer folly to inquire which of these the orator should take as his model, since every species that is in itself correct has its use, and what is commonly called style of speaking does not depend on the orator. For he will use all styles, as circumstances may demand, and the choice will be determined not only by the case as a whole, but by the demands of the different portions of the case. 70 For just as he will not speak in the same way when he is defending a client on a capital charge and when he is speaking in a lawsuit concerned with an inheritance, or discussing interdicts and suits taking the form of a wager,​76 or claims in connexion with  p491 loans, so too he will preserve a due distinction between the speeches which he makes in the senate, before the people and in private consultations, while he will also introduce numerous modifications to suit the different persons and circumstances of time and place. Thus in one and the same speech he will use one style for stirring the emotions, and another to conciliate his hearers; it is from different sources that he will derive anger or pity, and the art which he employs in instructing the judge will be other than that which he employs to move him. 71 He will not maintain the same tone throughout his exordium, statement of fact, arguments, digression and peroration. He will speak gravely, severely, sharply, with vehemence, energy, fullness, bitterness, or geniality, quickly, simply, flatteringly, gently, sweetly, briefly or wittily; he will not always be like himself, but he will never be unworthy of himself. 72 Thus the purpose for which oratory was above all designed will be secured, that is to say, he will speak with profit and with power to effect his aim, while he will also win the praise not merely of the learned, but of the multitude as well.

73 They make the gravest mistake who consider that the style which is best adapted to win popularity and applause is a faulty and corrupt style of speaking which revels in license of diction or wantons in childish epigram or swells with stilted bombast or riots in empty commonplace or adorns itself with blossoms of eloquence which will fall to earth if but lightly shaken, or regards extravagance as sublime or raves wildly under the pretext of free speech. 74 I am ready to admit that such qualities please many, and I feel no surprise that this should  p493 be the case. For any kind of eloquence is pleasing and attractive to the ear, and every effort of the voice inspires a natural pleasure in the soul of man; indeed this is the sole cause of those familiar gatherings in the Forum or on the Old Wall,​77 so that there is small reason for wonder if any pleader is safe to draw a ring of listeners from the crowd. 75 And when any unusually precious phrase strikes the ears of an uneducated audience, whatever its true merits, there is wakens their admiration just for the very reason that they feel they could never have produced it themselves. And its deserves their admiration, since even such success is hard to attain. On the other hand, when such displays are compared with their betters, they sink into insignificance and fade out of sight, for they are like wool dyed red that pleases in the absence of purple, but, as Ovid​78 says, if compared with a cloak of Tyrian dye, pales in the presence of the fairer hue. 76 If, however, we test such corrupt eloquence by the touchstone of a critical taste, as, for example, we test inferior dyes with sulphur, it will lay aside the false brilliance that deceived the eye and fade to a pallor almost too repulsive to describe. Such passages shine only in the absence of the sunlight, just as certain tiny insects seem transformed in the darkness to little flames of fire. Finally, while many approve of things that are bad, no one disapproves of that which is good.

77 But the true orator will not merely be able to achieve all the feats of which I have spoken with supreme excellence, but with the utmost ease as well. For the seven power of eloquence and voice that awakens well-deserved applause will  p495 be free from the perpetual distress of harassing anxiety which wastes and fevers the orator who painfully corrects himself and pines away over the laborious weighing and pie­cing together of his words. 78 No, our orator, brilliant, sublime and opulent of speech, is lord and master of all the resources of eloquence, whose affluence surrounds him. For he that has reached the summit has no more weary hills to scale. At first the climber's toil is hard, but the higher he mounts the easier becomes the gradient and the richer the soil. 79 And if by perseverance of study he pass even beyond these gentler slopes, fruits for which none have toiled thrust themselves upon him, and all things spring forth unbidden; and yet if they be not gathered daily, they will wither away. But even such wealth must observe the mean, without which nothing is either praiseworthy or beneficial, while brilliance must be attended by manliness, and imagination by soundness of taste. 80 Thus the works of the orator will be great not extravagant, sublime not bombastic, bold not rash, severe but not gloomy, grave but not slow, rich but not luxuriant, pleasing but not effeminate, grand but not grandiose. It is the same with other qualities: the mean is safest, for the worst of all faults is to fly to extremes.

The Translator's Notes:

40 II.XIV.5.

41 Of the painters mentioned in this and the following sections Polygnotus of Thasos, son of Aglaophon, painted at Athens in the middle of the 5th century B.C. Zeuxis of Heraclea and Parrhasius of Ephesus flourished 420‑390, while the remainder are painters of the 4th century. Of these Pamphilus of Sicyon was the teacher of Melanthius and Apelles, the latter being the most famous painter of antiquity.

42 Memor. III.X.1.

43 I.e. by giving them roundness and solidity by his treatment of light and shade.

44 Callon of Aegina and Hegesias flourished in the latter years of the 6th century. Calamis of Athens and Myron of eleutherae, first half of 5th century. Phidias of Athens and Polyclitus of Argos, the two most famous sculptors of the second half of 5th century. Praxiteles, middle of 4th century. Lysippus and Demetrius, last half of 4th century.

45 Cp. X.I.105 sq.

46 I.e. Attic.

47 The only Coccus known to us is stated by Suidas to have been a pupil of Isocrates, whereas we should here have expected Quintilian to refer to some orator of the 5th century contemporary with Andocides (closing decades of 4th century).

48 Georg. 35 sqq. (Koerte);

ἀπέδωκεν ὀρθῶς καὶ δικαίως, οὐ πλεον,

ἀλλ’ αὐτὸº τὸ μέτρον.

49 See II.XVI.4. Quintilian alludes to an alleged law forbidding Athenian orators to appeal to the emotions in the law courts.

50 Φ and Υ.

51 Friezes.

52 F and U; zefuri and zofori.

53 cp. I.IV.11.

54 A sound approximating to our W.

55 The sound of Q in itself does not differ from C. It would therefore be useless, save as an indication that U and another vowel are to follow. The U in this combination following Q was, as Donatus later pointed out, "neither a vowel nor a consonant," i.e. it was something between U and V.

56 I.e. the last syllable and often the last two syllables have the grave accent. See I.V.22 sqq.

57 I.e. because the names are not wholly adequate and there are no satisfactory synonyms.

58 Owing to the subtlety and delicacy of the Greek language even second-rate talent will be able to win distinction in dealing with minor things. But the coarser and more full-blooded nature of Latin makes this difficult.

59 XI. ch. 4

60 For this ever-recurring technical term there is no adequate translation. It means a "reflexion couched in aphoristic or epigrammatic form."

61 See V.XI.1. Parallels and especially short ones.

62 See V.XIV.1 sqq. A form of syllogism.

63 Rhet. iii.13.

64 Not in any extant work.

65 The witness did not recognise the name correctly pronounced Amphion, but recognised it when pronounced Ampion.

66 subtilis (lit. = finely woven) applied to style has three meanings: (a) refined, (b) precise, (c) plain. See Sandys on Cic. Or. vi.20.

67 Verg. Aen. VIII.728.

68 See III.VIII.54. "Cicero in the pro Caelio makes both Appius Caecus and her brother Clodius address Clodia, the former rebuking her for her immorality, the latter exhorting her thereto."

69 Phil. II.XXVII.67. The passage continues: "could scarce, methinks, have swallowed with such speed so many things, scattered in so many places."

70 pro Mil. xxxi.85.

71 Il. III.214. The words which Quintilian translates by non deerrare verbis are οὐδ’ ἀφαμαρτοεπής, "no stumbler in speech," rather than "correct in speech."

72 Il. I.249.

73 Il. III.221.

74 A blend of Il. III.223 and Od. VIII.173.

75 Ach. 530. "Then in his wrath Pericles the Olympian lightened and thundered and threw all Greece into confusion."

76 cp. II.X.5 and IV.II.61. Sponsio (= wager) was a form of lawsuit in which the litigant promised to pay a certain sum of money if he lost his case. The interdict was an order issued by the praetor commanding or prohibiting certain action.

77 The agger of Servius Tullius, which served as a promenade. The nearest modern parallel may be found in the "Hyde Park orator."

78 Rem. Am. 707 sqq.

Thayer's Note:

a The lives and works of several of these Greek orators are very thoroughly treated in Dobson's Greek Orators.

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