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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


Chapters 4‑6

4 1 The first method of amplification or attenuation is to be found in the actual word employed to describe a thing. For example, we may say that a man who was beaten was murdered, or that a dishonest fellow is a robber, or, on the other hand, we may say that one who struck another merely touched him, and that one who wounded another merely hurt him. The following passage from the pro Caelio,​102 provides examples of both: "If a widow lives freely, if being by nature bold she throws restraint to the winds, makes wealth an excuse for luxury, and strong passions for playing the harlot, would this be a reason for my regarding a man who was somewhat free in his method of saluting her to be an adulterer?" 2 For here he calls an immodest woman a harlot, and says that one who had long been her lover saluted her with a certain freedom. This sort of amplification may be strengthened and made more striking by pointing the comparison between words of stronger meaning and those for which we propose to substitute them, as Cicero does in denouncing Verres:​103 "I have brought before you, judges, not a thief, but a plunderer; not an adulterer, but a ravisher; not a mere committer of sacrilege, but the enemy of all religious observance and all holy things; not an assassin,  p265 but a bloodthirsty butcher who has slain our fellow-citizens and our allies." 3 In this passage the first epithets are bad enough, but are rendered still worse by those which follow. I consider, however, that there are four principal methods of amplification: augmentation, comparison, reasoning and accumulation.

Of these, augmentation is most impressive when it lends grandeur even to comparative insignificance. This may be effected either by one step or by several, and may be carried not merely to the highest degree, but sometimes even beyond it. 4 A single example from Cicero​104 will suffice to illustrate all these points. "It is a sin to bind a Roman citizen, a crime to scourge him, little short of the most unnatural murder to put him to death; what then shall I call his crucifixion?" If he had merely been scourged, we should have had but one step, indicated by the description even of the lesser offence as a sin, 5 while if he had merely been killed, we should have had several more steps; but after saying that it was "little short of the most unnatural murder to put him to death," and mentioning the worst of crimes, he adds, "What then shall I call his crucifixion?" Consequently, since he had already exhausted his vocabulary of crime, words must necessarily fail him to describe something within worse. 6 There is a second method of passing beyond the highest degree, exemplified in Virgil's description of Lausus:105

"Than whom there was not one more fair

Saving Laurentian Turnus."

For here the words "than whom there was not  p267 one more fair" give us the superlative, on which the poet proceeds to superimpose a still higher degree. 7 There is also a third sort, which is not attained by gradation, a height which is not a degree beyond the superlative, but such that nothing greater can be conceived. You beat your mother. What more need I say? You beat your mother." For to make a thing so great as to be incapable of augmentation is in itself a kind of augmentation. 8 It is also possible to heighten our style less obviously, but perhaps yet more effectively, by introducing a continuous and unbroken series in which each word is stronger than the last, as Cicero​106 does when he describes how Antony vomited "before an assembly of the Roman people, while performing a public duty, while Master of the Horse." Each phrase is more forcible than that which went before. Vomiting is an ugly thing in itself, he said when there is no assembly to witness it; it is ugly when there is such an assembly, even though it be not an assembly of the people; ugly even though it be an assembly of the people and not the Roman people; ugly even though he were engaged on no business at the time, even if his business were not public business, even if he were not Master of the Horse. 9 Another might have broken up the series and lingered over each step in the ascending scale, but Cicero hastens to his climax and reaches the height not by laborious effort, but by the impetus his speed.

Just as this form of amplification rises to a climax, so, too, the form which depends on comparison seeks to rise from the less to the greater, since by raising what is below it must necessarily exalt that which  p269 is above, as, for example, in the following passage:​107 10 "If this had befallen you at the dinner-table in the midst of your amazing potations, who would not have thought it unseemly? But it occurred at an assembly of the Roman people." Or take this passage from the speech against Catiline:​108 "In truth, if my slaves feared me as all your fellow-citizens fear you, I should think it wise to leave my house." 11 At times, again, we may advance a parallel to make something which we desire to exaggerate seem greater than ever, as Cicero does in the pro Cluentio,​109 where, after telling a story of a woman of Miletus who took a bribe from the reversionary heirs to prevent the birt of her expected child, he cries, "How much greater is the punishment deserved by Oppianicus for the same offence! For that woman, by doing violence to her own body did but torture herself, whereas he procured the same result by applying violence and torture to the body of another." 12 I would not, however, have anyone think that this method is identical with that used in argument, where the greater is inferred from the less, although there is a certain resemblance between the two. For in the latter case we are aiming at proof, in the former at amplification; for example, in the passage just cited about Oppianicus, the object of the comparison is not to show that his action was a crime, but that it was even worse than another crime. There is, however, a certain affinity between the two methods, and I will therefore repeat​110 a passage which I quoted there, although my present purpose is different. 13 For what I have now to demonstrate is that when amplification is our purpose we compare  p271 not merely whole with whole, but part with part, as in the following passage:​111 "Did that illustrious citizen, the pontifex maximus, Publius Scipio, acting merely in his private capacity, kill Tiberius Gracchus when he introduced but slight changes for the worse that did not seriously impair the constitution of the state, and shall we as citizens suffer Catiline to live, whose aim was to lay waste the whole world with fire and sword?" 14 Here Catiline is compared to Gracchus, the constitution of the state to the whole world, a signal tchange for the worse to fire and sword and desolation, and a private citizen to the consuls, all comparisons affording ample opportunity for further individual expansion, if anyone should desire so to do.

15 With regard to the amplification produced by reasoning, we must consider whether reasoning quite expresses my meaning. I am not a stickler for exact terminology, provided the sense is clear to any serious student. My motive in using this term was, however, this, that this form of amplification produces its effect at a point other than that what it is actually introduced. One thing is magnified in order to effect a corresponding augmentation elsewhere, and it is by reasoning that our hearers are then led on from the first point to the second which we desire to emphasise. 16 Cicero, when he is about to reproach Antony with his drunkenness and vomiting, says,​112 "You with such a throat, such flanks, such burly strength in every limb of your prize-fighter's body," etc. What have his throat and flanks to do with his drunkenness? The reference is far from pointless: for by looking at them we are enabled to estimate the quantity of  p273 the wine which he drank at Hippias' wedding, and was unable to carry or digest in spite of the fact that his bodily strength was worthy of a prize-fighter. Accordingly if, in such a case, one thing is inferred from another, the term reasoning is neither improper nor extraordinary, since it has been applied on similar grounds to one of the bases.113 17 So, again, amplification results from subsequent events, since the violence with which the wine burst from him was such that the vomiting was not accidental nor voluntary, but a matter of necessity, at a moment when it was specially unseemly, while the food was not recently swallowed, as is sometimes the case, but the residue of the revel of the preceding day. 18 On the other hand, amplification may equally result from antecedent circumstances; for example, when Juno made her request to Aeolus, the latter114

"Turned his spear and smote

The mountain's caverned side, and forth the winds

Rushed in a throng,"

whereby the poet shows what a mighty tempest will ensue. 19 Again, when we have depicted some horrible circumstance in such colours as to raise the detestation of our audience to its height, we then proceed to make light of them in order that what is to follow may seem still more horrible: consider the following passage from Cicero:​115 "These are but trivial offences for so great a criminal. The captain of a warship from a famous city bought off his threatened scourging for a price: a humane concession! Another paid down a sum of money to save his head from the axe: a perfectly ordinary circumstance!" 20 Does  p275 not the orator employa process of reasoning to enable the audience to infer how great the implied crime must be when such actions were but humane and ordinary in comparison? So, again, one thing may be magnified by allusion to another: the valour of Scipio is magnified by extolling the fame of Hannibal as a general, and we are asked to marvel at the courage of the Germans and the Gauls in order to enhance the glory of Gaius Caesar. 21 There is a similar form of amplification which is effected by reference to something which appears to have been said with quite another purpose in view. The chiefs of Troy​116 think it no discredit that Trojan and Greek should endure so many woes for so many years all for the sake of Helen's beauty. How wondrous, then, must her beauty have been! For it is not Paris, her ravisher, that says this; it is not some youth or one of the common herd; no, it is the elders, the wisest of their folk, the counsellors of Priam. 22 Nay, even the king himself, worn out by a ten years' war, which had cost him the loss of so many of his sons, and threatened to lay his kingdom in the dust, the man who, above all, should have loathed and detested her beauty, the source of all those tears, hears these words, calls her his daughter, and places her by his side, excuses her guilt, and denies that she is the cause of his sorrows. 23 Again, when Plato in the Symposium​117 makes Alcibiades confess how he had wished Socrates to treat him, he does not, I think, record these facts with a view to blaming Alcibiades, but rather to show the unconquerable self-control of Socrates, which would not yield even to the charms which the greatest beauty of his day so frankly placed at his disposal.  p277 24 We are even given the means of realising the extraordinary stature of the heros of old by the description of their weapons, such as the shield of Ajax​118 and the spear-shaft of Achilles​119 hewn in the forests of Pelion. Virgil​120 also has made admirable use of this device in his description of the Cyclops. For what an image it gives us of the bulk of that body

"Whose hand was propped by a branchless trunk of pine."

25 So, too, what a giant must Demoleos​121 have been, whose

"corselet manifold

Scarce two men on their shoulders could uphold"

And yet the hero buckled it upon him and

"Drave the scattering Trojans at full speed."

And again, Cicero​122 could hardly even have conceived of such luxury in Antony himself as he describes when he says, "You might see beds in the chambers of his slaves strewn with the purple coverlets that had once been Pompey's own." Slaves are using purple coverlets in their chambers, aye, and coverlets that had once been Pompey's! No more, surely, can be said than this, and yet it leaves us to infer how infinitely greater was the luxury of their master. 26 This form of amplification is near akin to emphasis: but emphasis derives its effect from the actual words, while in this case the effect is produced by inference from the facts, and is consequently far more impressive, inasmuch as facts as more impressive than words.

 p279  Accumulation of words and sentences identical in meaning may also be regarded under the head of amplification. For although the climax is not in this case reached by a series of steps, it is none the less attained by the piling up of words. Take the following example:​123 27 "What was that sword of yours doing, Tubero, the sword you drew on the field of Pharsalus? Against whose body did you aim its point? What meant those arms you bore? Whither were your thoughts, your eyes, your hand, your fiery courage directed on that day? What passion, what desires were yours?" This passage recalls the figure styled συναθροισμός124 by the Greeks, but in that figure it is a number of different things that are accumulated, whereas in this passage all the accumulated details have but one reference. The heightening of effect may also be produced by making the words rise to a climax.​125 "There stood the porter of the prison, the praetor's executioner, the death and terror of the citizens and allies of Rome, the lictor Sextius."

28 Attenuation is effected by the same method, since there are as many degrees of descent as ascent. I shall therefore content myself with quoting but one example, namely, the words used by Cicero​126 to describe the speech of Rutilius: "A few, however, who stood nearest to him suspected that he had intended to say something about the agrarian law." This passage may be regarded as providing an example of attenuation or of augmentation, according as we consider its literal meaning or fix our attention on the obscurity attributed to Rullus.

29 I know that some may perhaps regard hyperbole as a species of amplification, since hyperbole can be  p281 employed to create an effect in either direction. But as the name is also applied to one of the tropes, I must postpone its consideration for the present. I would proceed to the immediate discussion of this subject but for the fact that others have given separate treatment to this form of artifice, which employs words not in their literal, but in a metaphorical sense.​127 I shall therefore at this point indulge a desire now almost universal, and discuss a form of ornament which many regard as the chief, nay, almost the sole adornment of oratory.

5 1 When the ancients used the word sententia, they meant a feeling, or opinion. The word is frequently used in this sense by orators, and traces of this meaning are still found even in the speech of every day. For when we are going to take an oath we use the phrase ex animi nostri sententia (in accordance with what we hold is the solemn truth), and when we offer congratulations, we say that we do so ex sententia (with all our heart). The ancients, indeed, often expressed the same meaning by saying that they uttered their sensa; for they regarded sensus as referring merely to the senses of the body. 2 But modern usage applies sensus to concepts of the mind, while sententia is applied to striking reflexions such as are more especially introduced at the close of our periods, a practice rare in earlier days, but carried even to excess in our own. Accordingly, I think that I ought to say something of the various forms which such reflexions may take and the manner in which they should be used.

3 Although all the different forms are included under the same name, the oldest type of sententia, and that in which the term is most correctly applied,  p283 is the aphorism, called γνώμη by the Greeks. Both the Greek and the Latin names are derived from the fact that such utterances resemble the decrees or resolutions of public bodies. The term, however, is of wide application (indeed, such reflexions may be deserving of praise even when they have no reference to any special context), and is used in various ways. Sometimes it refers merely to things, as in the sentence: "There is nothing that wins the affections of the people more than goodness of heart."​128 Occasionally, again, they may have a personal reference, as in the following utterance of Domitius Afer: "The prince who would know all, must needs ignore much." 4 Some have called this form of reflexion a part of the enthymeme, others the major premise or conclusion of the epicheireme,º as it sometimes, though not invariably, is. More correct is the statement that at times it is simple, as in the example just quoted, while at other times a reason for the statement may be added,​129 such as the following:​130 "For in every struggle, the stronger seems not to suffer wrong, even when this is actually the case, but to inflict it, simply in virtue of his superior power." Sometimes, again, it may be double, as in the statement that

"Complaisance wins us friends, truth enmity."​131

5 There are some even who classify them under ten heads, though the principle on which they make this division is such that it would justify a still larger number: they class them as based on interrogation, comparison, denial, similarity, admiration, and the like, for they can be treated under every  p285 kind of figure. A striking type is that which is produced by opposition:

Death is not bitter, but the approach to death."​132

6 Others are cast in the form of a direct statement, such as

"The miser lacks

That which he has no less than what he has not."​133

But they acquire greater force by a change in the figure employed, as in the following:

"Is it so bitter, then, to die?"​134

For this is more vigorous and the simple statement, "Death is not bitter." A similar effect may be produced by transference of the statement from the general to the particular. For example, although the direct statement would be, "To hurt is easy, but to do good is hard," Ovid​135 gives this reflexion increased force when he makes Medea say,

"I had the power to save, and ask you then

If I have power to ruin?"

7 Cicero​136 again gives the general statement a personal turn when he says: "Caesar, the splendour of your present fortune confers on you nothing greater than the power and nothing better than the will to save as many of your fellow-citizens as possible." For here he attributes to Caesar what was really attributable to the circumstances of his power. In this class of reflexion we must be careful, as always, not to employ them too frequently, nor at random, nor place them in the mouth of every kind of person,  p287 while we must make certain that they are not untrue, as is so often the case with those speaker who style them reflexions of universal application and recklessly employ whatever seems to support their case as though its truth were beyond question. 8 Such reflexions are best suited to those speakers whose authority is such that their character itself will lend weight to their words. For who would tolerate a boy, or a youth, or even a man of low birth who presumed to speak with all the authority of a judge and to thrust his precepts down our throats?

9 The term enthymeme may be applied to any concept of the mind, but in its strict sense means a reflexion drawn from contraries. Consequently, it has a supremacy among reflexions which we may compare to that of Homer among poets and Rome among cities. 10 I have already said enough on this topic dealing with arguments.​137 But the use of the enthymeme is not confined to proof, it may sometimes be employed f the purpose of ornament, as in the following instance:​138 "Caesar, shall the language of those whom it is your glory to have spared goad you to imitate their own cruelty?" Cicero's motive in saying this is not that it introduces any fresh reason for clemency, but because he has already demonstrated by other arguments how unjust such conduct would be, 11 while he adds it at the period's close as an epiphonema, not by way of proof, but as a crowning insult to his opponents. For an epiphonema is an exclamation attached to the close of a statement or a proof by way of climax. Here are two examples:

"Such toil it was to found the Roman race!"​139

and "The virtuous youth preferred to risk his life  p289 by slaying him to suffering such dishonour."​140 12 There is also what our modern rhetoricians call the noema, a term which may be taken to mean every kind of conception, but is employed in the special sense of things which they wish to be understood, though they are not actually said, as in the declamation where the sister defends herself against the brother whom she had often bought out from the gladiatorial school, when he brought an action against her demanding the infliction of a similar mutilation because she had cut off his thumb while he slept: "You deserved," she cries, "to have all your fingers," meaning thereby, "You deserved to be a gladiator all your days." 13 There is also what is called a clausula. If this merely means a conclusion, it is a perfectly correct and sometimes a necessary device, as in the following case: "You must, therefore, first confess your own offence before you accuse Ligarius of anything."​141 But to‑day something more is meant, for our rhetoricians want every passage, every sentence to strike the ear by an impressive close. 14 In fact, they think it a disgrace, nay, almost a crime, to pause to breathe except at the end of a passage that is designed to call forth applause. The result is a number of tiny epigrams, affected, irrelevant and disjointed. For there are not enough striking reflexions in the world to provide a close to every period.

15 The following forms of reflexion are even more modern. There is the type which depends on surprise for its effect, as, for example, when Vibius Crispus, in denouncing the man who wore a breastplate when strolling in the forum and alleged that he did so because he feared for his life, cried, "Who  p291 gave you leave to be such a coward?" Another instance is the striking remark made by Africanus to Nero with reference to the death of Agrippina: "Caesar, your provinces of Gaul entreat you to bear your good fortune with courage." 16 Others are of an allusive type: for example, Domitius Afer, in his defence of Cloatilla, whom Clodius had pardoned when she was accused of having buried her husband, who had been one of the rebels, addressed her sons in his peroration with the word: "Nonetheless, it is your duty, boys, to give your mother burial."​142 17 Some, again, depend on the fact that they are transferred from one context to another. Crispus, in his defence of Spatale, whose lover had made her his heir and then proceeded to die at the age of eighteen, remarked: "What a marvellous fellow to gratify his passion thus!"​143 18 Another type of reflexion may be produced by the doubling of a phrase, as in the letter written by Seneca for Nero to be sent to the senate on the occasion of his mother's death, with a view to creating the impression that he had been in serious danger:— "As yet I cannot believe or rejoice that I am safe." Better, however, is the type which relies for its effect on contrast of opposites, as "I know from whom to fly, but whom to follow I know not;"​144 or, "What of the fact that the poor wretch, though he could not speak, could not keep silence?"​145 19 But to produce the most striking effect this type should be given point by the introduction of a comparison, such as is made by Trachalus in his speech against Spatale, where he says: "Is it your pleasure, then, ye laws, the faithful guardians of chastity, that wives should receive a tithe​146 and harlots a quarter?"

 p293  In these instances, however, the reflexion may equally well be good or bad. 20 On the other hand, there are some which will always be bad, such as those which turn on play upon words, as in the following case: "conscript fathers, for I must address you thus that you may remember the duty owed to fathers." Worse still, as being more unreal and far-fetched, is the remark made by the gladiator mentioned above in his prosecution of his sister: "I have fought to the last finger."​147 21 There is another similar type, which is perhaps the worst of all, where the play upon words is combined with a false comparison. When I was a young man I heard a distinguished pleader, after handing a mother some splinters of bone taken from the head of her son (which he did merely to provide an occasion for his epigram), cry: "Unhappiest of women, your son is not yet dead and yet you have gathered up his bones!" 22 Moreover, most of our orators delight in devices of the pettiest kind, which seriously considered are merely ludicrous, but at the moment of their production flatter their authors by a superficial semblance of wit. Take, for instance, the exclamation from the scholastic theme, where a man, after being ruined by the barrenness of his land, is shipwrecked and hangs himself: "Let him whom neither earth nor sea receives, hang in mid air." 23 A similar absurdity is to be found in the declamation, to which I have already referred, in which a father poisons his son who insists on tearing himself flesh with his teeth: "The man who eats such flesh, deserves such drink." Or again, take this passage from the theme of the luxurious man who is alleged to have pretended to starve himself to death: "Tie a noose  p295 for yourself: you have good reason to be angry with your throat. Take poison: it is fit that a luxurious man should die of drink!" 24 Others are merely fatuous, such as the remark of the declaimer who urges the courtiers of Alexander to provide him with a tomb by burning down Babylon. "I am burying Alexander. Shall any man watch such a burial from his housetop?" As if this were the climax of indignities! Others fail from sheer extravagance. For example, I once heard a rhetorician who was declaiming about the Germans, say: "I know not where they carry their heads,"​148 and again when belauding a hero, "He beats back whole wars with the boss of his shield." 25 However, I shall never come to an end if I try to describe every possible form of this kind of absurdity. I will therefore turn to discuss a point of more importance.

Rhetoricians are divided in opinion on this subject: some devote practically all their efforts to the elaboration of reflexions, while others condemn their employment altogether. I cannot agree entirely with either view. 26 If they are crowded too thick together, such reflexions merely stand in each other's way, just as in the case of crops and the fruits of trees lack of room to grow results in a stunted development. Again in pictures a definite outline is required to throw objects in relief, and consequently artists who include a number of objects in the same design separate them by intervals sufficient to prevent one casting a shadow on the other. 27 Further, this form of display breaks up our speeches into a number of detached sentences; every reflexion is isolated, and consequently a fresh start is necessary after each. This produces a discontinuous style, since  p297 our language is composed not of a system of limbs, but of a series of fragments: for your nicely rounded and polished phrases are incapable of cohesion. 28 Further, the colour, though bright enough, has no unity, but consists of a number of variegated splashes. A purple stripe appropriately applied lends brilliance to a dress, but a dress decorated with a quantity of patches can never be becoming to anybody. 29 Wherefore, although these ornaments may seem to stand out with a certain glitter of their own, they are rather to be compared to sparks flashing through the smoke than to the actual brilliance of flame: they are, in fact, invisible when the language is of uniform splendour, just as the stars are invisible in the light of day. And when eloquence seeks to secure elevation by frequent small efforts, it merely produces an uneven and broken surface which fails to win the admiration due to outstanding objects and lacks the charm that may be found in a smooth surface. 30 To this must be added the fact that those who devote themselves solely to the production of reflexions cannot avoid giving utterance to many that are trivial, late or foolish. For their mere number will so embarrass their author that selection will be impossible. Consequently it is will often find that such persons will produce a division or an argument as if it were an epigram, the only qualification necessary being that it should come toward the close of the period and be impressively delivered. 31 " killed your wife, though you were an adulterer yourself. I should loathe you even if you had only divorced her." Here we have a division. "Do you wish me to prove that a love-philtre is a poison? The man would still be living, if he had not drunk it." This is an argument.  p299 There are, moreover, a number of speakers who the merely deliver many such epigrams, but utter everything as if it were an epigram. 32 Against these persons, on the other hand, must be set those who shun and dread all ornament of this kind, approving nothing that is not plain, humble and effortless, with the result that by their reluctance to climb for fear of falling they succeed merely in maintaining a perpetual flatness. What sin is there in a good epigram? Does it not help our case, or move the judge, or commend the speaker to his audience? 33 It may be urged, perhaps, that it is a form of ornament eschewed by the ancients. What do you mean by antiquity? If you go back to the earliest periods you will find that Demosthenes frequently employed methods that were known to none before him. How can we give our approval to Cicero, if we think that no change should be made from the methods of Cato and the Gracchi? And yet before the Gracchi and Cato the style of oratory was simpler still. 34 For my own part I regard these particular ornaments of oratory to be, as it were, the eyes of eloquence. On the other hand, I should not like to see the whole body full of eyes, for fear that it might cripple the functions of the other members, and, if I had no alternative, I should prefer the rudeness of ancient eloquence to the license of the moderns. But a middle course is open to us here no less than in the refinements of dress and mode of life, where there is a certain tasteful elegance that offends no one. Therefore let us as far as possible seek to increase the number of our virtues, although our first care must always be to keep ourselves free from vices, lest in seeking to make ourselves better than  p301 the ancients we succeed merely in making ourselves unlike them.

35 I will now proceed to the next subject for discussion, which is, as I have said, that of tropes, or modes, as the most distinguished Roman rhetoricians call them. Rules for their use are given by the teachers of literature as well. But I postponed the discussion of the subject when I was dealing with literary education, because it seemed to me that the theme would have greater importance if handled in connexion with the ornaments of oratory, and that it ought to be reserved for treatment on a larger scale.

6 1 By a trope is meant the artistic alteration of a word or phrase from its proper meaning to another. This is a subject which has given rise to interminable disputes among the teachers of literature, who have quarrelled no less violently with the philosophers than among themselves over the number of the genera and species into which tropes may be divided, their number and their correct classification. 2 I propose to disregard such quibbles as in no wise concern the training of an orator, and to proceed to discuss those tropes which are most necessary and meet with most general acceptance, contenting myself merely with stating the fact that some tropes are employed to help out our meaning and others to adorn our style, that some arise from words used properly and others from words used metaphorically, and that the changes involved concern not merely individual words, but also our thoughts and the structure of our sentences. 3 In view of these facts I regard those writers as mistaken who have held that tropes necessarily involved the substitution of word for word. And I do not ignore the fact that  p303 as a rule the tropes employed to express our meaning involve ornament as well, though the converse is not the case, since there are some which are intended solely for the purpose of embellishment.

4 Let us begin, then, with the commonest and by far the most beautiful of tropes, namely, metaphor, the Greek term for our translatio. It is not merely so natural a turn of speech that it is often employed unconsciously or by uneducated persons, but it is in itself so attractive and elegant that however distinguished the language in which it is embedded it shines forth with a light that is all its own. 5 For if it be correctly and appropriately applied, it is quite impossible for its effect to be commonplace, mean or unpleasing. It adds to the copiousness of language by the interchange of words and by borrowing, and finally succeeds in accomplishing the supremely difficult task of providing a name for everything. A noun or a verb is transferred from the place to which it properly belongs to another where there is either no literal term or the transferred is better than the literal. 6 We do this either because it is necessary or to make our meaning clearer or, as I have already said, to produce a decorative effect. When it secures none of these results, our metaphor will be out of place. As an example of a necessary metaphor I may quote the following usages in vogue with peasants when they call a vinebud gemma, a gem (what other term is there which they could use?), or speak of the crops being thirsty or the fruit suffering. For the same reason we speak of a hard or rough man, there being no literal term for these temperaments. 7 On the other hand, when we say that a man is kindled to anger or on fire with greed or that he has fallen into  p305 error, we do so to enhance our meaning. For none of these things can be more literally described in its own words station in those which we import from elsewhere. But it is a purely ornamental metaphor when we speak of brilliance of style, splendour of birth, tempestuous public assemblies, thunderbolts of eloquence, to which I may add the phrase employed by Cicero​149 in his defence of Milo where he speaks Clodius as the fountain, and in another place as the fertile field and material of his client's glory. 8 It is even possible to express facts of a somewhat unseemly character by a judicious use of metaphor, as in the following passage:150

"This they do lest too much indulgence make

The field of generation slothful grow

And choke its idle furrows."

On the whole metaphor is a shorter form of simile, while there is this further difference, that in the latter we compare some object to the thing which we wish to describe, whereas in the former this object is actually substituted for the thing. 9 It is a comparison when I say that a man did something like a lion, it is a metaphor when I say of him, He is a lion. Metaphors fall into four classes. In the first we substitute one living thing for another, as in the passage where the poet, speaking of a charioteer,​151 says,

"The steersman then

With mighty effort wrenched his charger round."

or when Livy​152 says that Scipio was continually barked at by Cato. 10 Secondly, inanimate things may be substituted for inanimate, as in the Virgilian

"And gave his fleet the rein,"​153

 p307  or inanimate may be substituted for animate, as in

"Did the Argive bulwark fall by sword or fate?"​154

or animate for inanimate, as in the following lines:

"The shepherd sits unknowing on the height

Listening the roar from some far mountain brow."​155

11 But, above all, effects of extraordinary sublimity are produced when the theme is exalted by a bold and almost hazardous metaphor and inanimate objects are given life and action, as in the phraseanimate

"Araxes' flood that scorns a bridge,"​156

12 or in the passage of Cicero,​157 already quoted, where he cries, "What was that sword of yours doing, Tubero, the sword you drew on the field of Pharsalus? Against whose body did you aim its point? What meant those arms you bore?" Sometimes the effect is doubled, as in Virgil's

"And with venom arm the steel."​158

For both "to arm the steel" "to arm with venom" are metaphors. 13 These four kinds of metaphor are further subdivided into a number of species, such as transference from rational beings to rational and from irrational to irrational and the reverse, in which the method is the same, and finally from the whole to its parts and from the parts to the whole. But I am not now teaching boys: my readers old enough to discover the species for themselves when once they have been given the genus.

14 While a temperate and timely use of metaphor is  p309 a real adornment to style, on the other hand, its frequent use serves merely to obscure our language and weary our audience, while if we introduce them in one continuous series, our language will become allegorical and enigmatic. There are also certain metaphors which fail from meanness, such as that of which I spoke above:159

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

or they may even be worse. For it does not follow that because Cicero was perfectly justified in talking of "the sink of the state,"​160 when he desired to indicate the foulness of certain men, we can approve the following passage from an ancient orator: "You have lanced the boils of the state." 15 Indeed Cicero​161 himself has demonstrated in the most admirable manner how important it is to avoid grossness in metaphor, such as is revealed by the following examples, which he quotes:— "The state was gelded by the death of Africanus," or "Glaucia, the excrement of the senate-house." 16 He also points out that a metaphor must not be too great for its subject or, as is more frequently the case, too little, and that it must not be inappropriate. Anyone who realises that these are faults, will be able to detect instances of them only too frequently. But excess in the use of metaphor is also a fault, more especially if they are of the same species. 17 Metaphors may also be harsh, that is, far-fetched, as in phrases like "the snows of the head" or

"Jove with white snow the wintry Alps bespewed."​162

 p311  The worst errors of all, however, originate in the fact that some authors regard it as permissible to use even in prose any metaphors that are allowed to poets, in spite of the fact that the latter aim solely at pleasing their readers and are compelled in many cases to employ metaphor by sheer metrical necessity. 18 For my own part I should not regard a phrase like "the shepherd of the people" as admissible in pleading, although it has the authority of Homer, nor would I venture to say that winged creatures "swim through the air," dispute the fact that this metaphor has been most effectively employed by Virgil to describe the flight of bees and of Daedalus.​163 For metaphor should always either occupy a place already vacant, or if it fills the room of something else, should be more impressive than that which it displaces.

19 What I have said above applies perhaps with even greater force to synecdochè. For while metaphor is designed to move the feelings, give special distinction to things and place them vividly before the eye, synecdochè has the power to give variety to our language by making us realise many things from one, the whole from a part, the genus from a species, things which follow from things which have preceded; or, on the other hand, the whole procedure may be reversed. It may, however, be more freely employed by poets than by orators. 20 For while in prose it is perfectly correct to use mucro, the point, for the whole sword, and tectum, roof, for a whole house, we may not employ puppis, stern, to describe a ship, nor abies, fir, to db planks; and again, though ferrum, the steel, may be used to indicate a sword, quadrupes cannot be used in the  p313 sense of horse. It is where numbers are concerned that synecdochè can be most freely employed in prose. For example, Livy frequently says, "The Roman won the day," when he means that the Romans were victorious; on the other hand, Cicero in a letter to Brutus​164 says, "We have imposed on the people and are regarded as orators," when he is speaking of himself alone. 21 This form of trope is not only a rhetorical ornament, but is frequently employed in everyday speech. Some also apply the term synecdochè when something is assumed which hasn't actually been expressed, since one word is then discovered from other words, as in the sentence,

"The Arcadians to the gates began to rush;"​165

when such omission creates a blemish, it is called an ellipse. 22 For my own part, I prefer to regard this as a figure, and shall therefore discuss it under that head. Again, one thing may be suggested by another, as in the line,

"Behold, the steers

Bring back the plough suspended from the yoke,"​166

from which we infer the approach of night. I am not sure whether this is permissible to an orator except in arguments, when it serves as an indication of some fact. However, this has nothing to do with the question of style.

23 It is but a short step from synecdochè to metonymy, which consists in the substitution of one name for another, and, as Cicero​167 tells us, is called hypallage by the rhetoricians. These devices are employed to indicate an invention by substituting the name of  p315 the inventor, or a possession by substituting the name of the possessor. Virgil, for example, writes:168

"Ceres by water spoiled,"

and Horace:

"Neptune admitted to the land

Protects the fleets from blasts of Aquilo."​169

If, however, the process is reversed, the effect is harsh. 24 But it is important to enquire to what extent tropes of this kind should be employed by the orator. For though we often hear "Vulcan" used for fire and to say vario Marte pugnatumest for "they fought with varying success" is elegant and idiomatic, while Venus is a more decent expression than coitus, it would be too bold for the severe style demanded in the courts to speak of Liber and Ceres when we mean wine and bread. Again, while usage permits us to substitute that which contains for that which is contained, as in phrases such as "civilised cities," or "a cup was drunk to the lees," or "a happy age," 25 the converse procedure would rarely be ventured on by any save a poet: take, for example, the phrase:

"Ucalegon burns next."​170

It is, however, perhaps more permissible to describe what is possessed by reference to its possessor, as, for example, to say of a man whose estate is being squandered, "the man is being eaten up." Of this form there are innumerable species. 26 For example, we say "sixty thousand men were slain by Hannibal at Cannae," and speak of "Virgil" when we mean "Virgil's poems"; again, we say that supplies have  p317 "come," when they have been "brought," that a "sacrilege," and not a "sacrilegious man" has been detected, and that man possesses a knowledge of "arms," not of "the art of arms." 27 The type which indicates cause by effect is common both in poets and orators. As examples from poetry I may quote:

"Pale death with equal foot knocks at the poor man's door"​171


"There pale diseases dwell and sad old age;"​172

while the orator will speak of "headlong anger," "cheerful youth" or "slothful ease."

28 The following type of trope has also some kinship with synecdochè. For when I speak of a man's "looks" instead of his "look," I use the plural for the singular, but my aim is not to enable one thing to be inferred from many (for the sense is clear enough), but I merely vary the form of the word. Again, when I call a "gilded roof" a "golden roof," I diverge a little from the truth, because gilding forms only a part of the roof. But to follow out these points is a task involving too much minute detail even for a work whose aim is not the training of an orator.

29 Antonomasia, which substitutes something else for a proper name, is very common in poets: it may be done in two ways: by the substitution no an epithet as equivalent to the name which it replaces, such as "Tydides," "Pelides,"​173 or by indicating the most striking characteristics of an individual, as in the phrase

"Father of gods and king of men,"​174

 p319  or from acts clearly indicating the individual, as in the phrase,

"The arms which he, the traitor, left

Fixed on the chamber wall."​175

30 This form of trope is rare in oratory, but is occasionally employed. For although an orator does not say "Tydides" or "Pelides," he will speak of certain definite persons as "the impious parricides," while I should have no hesitation in speaking Scipio as "the destroyer of Carthage and Numantia," or of Cicero as "the prince of Roman orators." Cicero himself, at any rate, availed himself of this licence, as, for example, in the following case: "Your faults are not many, said the old praeceptor to the hero,"​176 where neither name is given, though both are clearly understood.

31 On the other hand, onomatopoea, that is to say, the creation of a word, although regarded with the highest approbation by the Greeks, is scarcely permissible to a Roman. It is true that many words were created in this way by the original founders of the language, who adapted them to suit the sensation which they expressed. For instance, mugitus, lowing, sibilus, a hiss, and murmur owe their origin to this practice. 32 But to‑day we consider that all has been done that can be done in this line, and do not venture on fresh creations, in spite of the fact that many of the words thus formed in antiquity are daily becoming obsolete. Indeed, we scarcely permit ourselves to use new derivatives, so they are called, which are formed in various ways from words in common use, such as Sullaturit,​177 "he wishes to be a second Sulla," or proscripturit, "he wishes to have  p321 a proscription," while laureati postes, "laurelled door-posts," for lauru coronati, "crowned with laurel," are similar formations. 33 ********178

34 These facts make catachresis (of which abuse is a correct translation) all the more necessary. By this term is meant the practice of adapting the nearest available term to describe something for which no actual term exists, as in the line

"A horse they build by Pallas' art divine,"​179

or as in the expression found in tragedy,

"To Aigaleus

His sire bears funeral offerings,"​180

35 The following examples are of a similar character. Flasks are called acetabula,​181 whatever they contain, and caskets pyxides,​182 of whatever material they are made, while parricide includes the murder of a mother or a brother. We must be careful to distinguish between abuse and metaphor, since the former is employed where there is no proper term available, and the latter when there is another term available. As for poets, they indulge in the abuse of words even in cases when proper terms do exist, and substitute words of somewhat similar meaning. But this is rare in prose. 36 Some, indeed, would give the name of catachresis even to cases such as where we call temerity valour or prodigality liberality. I, however, cannot agree with them; for in these  p323 instances word is not substituted for word, but thing for thing, since no one regards prodigality and liberality as meaning the same, but one man calls certain actions liberal and another prodigal, although neither for a moment doubts the difference between the two qualities.

37 There is but one of the tropes involving change of meaning which remains to be discussed, namely, metalepsis or transumption, which provides a transition from one trope to another. It is (if we except comedy) but rarely used in Latin, and is by no means to be commended, though it is not infrequently employed by the Greeks, who, for example, call Χείρων the centaurἬσσων183 and substitute the epithet θοαί (swift) for ὄξειαι184 in referring to sharp-pointed islands. But who would endure a Roman if he called Verres sus185 or change the name of Aelius Catus to Aelius doctus? 38 It is the nature of metalepsis to form a kind of intermediate step between the term transferred and the thing to which it is transferred, having no meaning in itself, but merely providing a transition. It is a trope with which to claim acquaintance, rather than one which we are ever likely to require to use. The commonest example is the following: cano is a synonym for canto and canto186 for dico, therefore cano is a synonym for dico, the intermediate step being provided by canto. 39 We need not waste any more time over it. I can see no use in it except, as I have already said, in comedy.

40 The remaining tropes are employed solely to adorn and enhance our style without any reference to the meaning. For the epithet, of which the correct translation is appositum, though some call it sequens,  p325 is clearly an ornament. Poets employ it with special frequency and freedom, since for them it is sufficient that the epithet should suit the word to which it is applied: consequently we shall not blame them when they speak of "white teeth" or "liquid wine."​187 But in oratory an epithet is redundant unless it has some point. Now it will only have point when it adds something to the meaning, as for instance in the following: "O abominable crime, O hideous lust!" 41 But its decorative effect is greatest when it is metaphorical, as in the phrases "unbridled greed"​188 or "those mad piles of masonry."​189 The epithet is generally made into a trope by the addition of something to it, as when Virgil speaks of "disgraceful poverty" or "sad age."​190 But the nature of this form of embellishment is such that, while style is bare and inelegant without any epithets at all, it is overloaded when a large number are employed. 42 For then it becomes long-winded and cumbrous, in fact you might compare it to an army with as many camp-followers as soldiers, an army, that is to say, which has doubled its numbers without doubling its thought to have. None the less, not merely single epithets are employed, but we may find a number of them together, as in the following passage from Virgil:191

"Anchises, worthy deigned

Of Venus' glorious bed, beloved of heaven,

Twice rescued from the weck of Pergamum."

43 Be this as it may, two epithets directly attached to one noun are unbecoming even in verse. There are some writers who refuse to regard an epithet as a trope, on the ground that it involves no change. It  p327 is not always a trope, but if separated from the word to which it belongs, it has a significance of its own and forms an antonomasia. For if you say, "The man who destroyed Numantia and Carthage," it will be an antonomasia, whereas, if you add the word "Scipio," the phrase will be an epithet. An epithet therefore cannot stand by itself.

44 Allegory, which is translated in Latin by inversio, either presents one thing in words and another in meaning, or else something absolutely opposed to the meaning of the words. The first type is generally produced by a series of metaphors. Take as an example:

"O ship, new waves will bear thee back to sea.​192

What dost thou? Make the haven, come what may,"

and the rest of the ode, in which Horace represents the state under the semblance of a ship, the civil wars as tempests, and peace and good-will as the haven. 45 Such, again, is the claim of Lucretius:193

"Pierian fields I range untrod by man,"

mention such again the passage where Virgil says,

"But now

A mighty length of plain we have travelled o'er;

'Tis time to loose our horses' steaming necks."​194

46 On the other hand, in the Bucolics​195 he introduces an allegory without any metaphor:

"Truth, I had heard

Your loved Menalcas by his songs had saved

All those fair acres, where the hills begin

To sink and droop their ridge with easy slope

Down to the waterside and that old beech

With splintered crest."

 p329  47 For in this passage, with the exception of the proper name, the words bear no more than their literal meaning. But the name does not simply denote the shepherd Menalcas, but is a pseudonym for Virgil himself. Oratory makes frequent use of such allegory, but generally with this moderation, that there is an admixture of plain speaking. We get allegory pure and unadulterated in the following passage of Cicero:​196 "What I marvel at and complain of is this, that there should exist any man so set on destroying his enemy as to scuttle the ship on which he himself is sailing." 48 The following is an example of the commonest type, namely, the mixed allegory:​197 "I always thought that Milo would have other storms and tempests to weather, at least in the troubled waters of political meetings." Had he not added the words "at least in the troubled waters of political meetings," we should have had pure allegory: their addition, however, converted it into a mixed allegory. In this type of allegory the ornamental element is provided by the metaphorical words and the meaning is indicated by those which are used literally. 49 But far the most ornamental effect is produced by the artistic admixture of simile, metaphor and allegory, as in the following example:​198 "What strait, what tide-race, think you, is full of so many conflicting emotions or vexed by such a variety of eddies, waves and fluctuations, as confuse our popular elections with their wild ebb and flow? The passing of one day, or the rival of a single night, will often throw everything into confusion, and one little breath of rumour will sometimes turn the whole trend of opinion." 50 For it is all-important to follow the principle illustrated by this passage and never to  p331 mix your metaphors. But there are many who, after beginning with a tempest, will end with a fire or a falling house, with the result that they produce a hideously incongruous effect. 51 For the rest, allegory is often used by men of little ability and in the conversation of everyday life. For those hackneyed phrases of forensic pleading, "to fight hand to hand," "to attack the throat," or "to let blood" are all of them allegorical, although they do not strike the attention: for it is novelty and change that please in oratory, and what is unexpected always gives special delight. Consequently we have thrown all restraint to the wind in such matters, and have destroyed the charm of language by the extravagant efforts which we have made to attain it. 52 Illustrative examples also involve allegory if not preceded by an explanation; for there are numbers of sayings available for use like the "Dionysius is at Corinth,"​199 which is such a favourite with the Greeks. When, however, an allegory is too obscure, we call it a riddle: such riddles are, in my opinion, to be regarded as blemishes, in view of the fact that lucidity is a virtue; nevertheless they are used by poets, as, for example, by Virgil​200 in the following lines:

"Say in what land, and if thou tell me true,

I'll hold thee as Apollo's oracle,

Three ells will measure all the arch of heaven."

53 Even orators sometimes use them, as when Caelius​201 speaks of the "Clytemnestra who sold her favours for a farthing, who was a Coan in the dining-room and a Nolan in her bedroom." For although we know the answers, and although they were better known at the time when the words were uttered,  p333 they are riddles for all that; and other riddles are, after all, intelligible if you can get someone to explain them.

54 On the other hand, that class of allegory in which the meaning is contrary to that suggested by the words, involve an element of irony, or, as our rhetoricians call it, illusio. This is made evident to the understanding either by the delivery, the character of the speaker or the nature of the subject. For if any one of these three is out of keeping with the words, it at once becomes clear that the intention of the speaker is other than what he actually says. 55 In the majority of tropes it is, however, important to bear in mind not merely what is said, but about whom it is said, since what is said may in another context be literally true. It is permissible to censure with a counterfeited praise and praise under a pretence of blame. The following with serve as an example of the first.​202 "Since Gaius Verres, the urban praetor, being a man of energy and blameless character, had no record in his register of this substitution of this man for another on the panel." As an example of the revers process we may take the following:​203 "We are regarded as orators and have imposed on the people." 56 Sometimes, again, we may speak in mockery when we say the opposite of what we desire to be understood, as in Cicero's denunciation of Clodius:​204 "Believe me, your well-known integrity has cleared you of all blame, your modesty has saved you, your past life has been your salvation." 57 Further, we may employ allegory, and disguise bitter taunts in gentle words by way of wit, or we may indicate our meaning by saying exactly the contrary or . . .​205 If the Greek names for these  p335 methods are unfamiliar to any of my readers, I would remind him that they are σαρκασμός, ἀστεϊσμός, ἀντίφρασις and παροιμία (sarcasm, urbane wit, contradiction and proverbs). 58 There are, however, some writers who deny that these are species of allegory, and assert that they are actually tropes in themselves: for they argue shrewdly that allegory involves an element of obscurity, whereas in all these cases our meaning is perfectly obvious. To this may be added the fact that when a genus is divided into species, it ceases to have any particular properties of its own: for example, we may divide tree into its species, pine, olive, cypress, etc., leaving it no properties of its own, whereas allegory always has some property peculiar to itself. The only explanation of this fact is that it is itself a species. But this, of course, is a matter of indifference to those that use it. 59 To these the Greeks add μυκτηρισμός, or mockery under the thinnest of disguises.

When we use a number of words to describe something for which one, or at any rate only a few words of description would suffice, it is called periphrasis, that is, a circuitous mode of speech. It is sometimes necessary, being of special service when it conceals something which would be indecent, if expressed in so many words: compare the phrase "To meet the demands of nature" from Sallust.​206 60 But at times it is employed solely for decorative effect, a practice most frequent among the poets:

"Now was the time

When the first sleep to weary mortals comes

Stealing its way, the sweetest boon of heaven."​207

61 Still it is far from uncommon even in oratory, though  p337 in such cases it is always used with greater restraint. For whatever may have been expressed with greater brevity, but is expanded for purposes of ornament, is a periphrasis, to which we give the name circumlocution, though it is a term scarcely suitable to describe one of the virtues of oratory. But it is only called periphrasis so long as it produces a decorative effect: when it passes into excess, it is known as perissology: for whatever is not a help, is a positive hindrance.

62 Again, hyperbaton, that is, the transposition of a word, is often demanded by the structure of the sentence and the claims of elegance, and is consequently counted among the ornaments of style. For our language would often be harsh, rough, limp or disjointed, if the words were always arranged in their natural order and attached each to each just as they occur, despite the fact that there is no real bond of union. Consequently some words require to be postponed, others to be anticipated, each being set in its appropriate place. 63 For we are like those who build a wall of unhewn stone: we cannot hew or polish our words in order to make them fit more compactly, and so we must take them as they are and choose suitable positions for them. 64 Further, it is impossible to make our prose rhythmical except by artistic alterations in the order of words, and the reason why those four words in which Plato​208 in the noblest of his works states that he had gone down to the Piraeus were found written in a number of different orders upon his wax tablets, was simply that he desired to make the rhythm as perfect as possible. 65 When, however, the transposition is confined to two words only, it is called anastrophe, that is, a reversal of order. This occurs in everyday  p339 speech in mecum and secum, while in orators and historians we meet with it in the phrase quibus de rebus. It is the transposition of a word to some distance from its original place, in order to secure an ornamental effect, that is strictly called hyperbaton: the following passage will provide an example: animadverti, iudices, omnem accusatoris orationem in duas divisam esse partes.209 ("I noted, gentlemen, that the speech of the accuser was divided into two parts.") In this case the strictly correct order would be in duas partes divisam esse, but this would have been harsh and ugly. 66 The poets even go so far as to secure this effect by the division of words, as in the line:

Hyperboreo septem subiecta trioni210

("Under the Hyperborean Wain"),

a licence wholly inadmissible in oratory. Still there is good reason for calling such a transposition a trope, since the meaning is not complete until the two words have been put together. 67 On the other hand, when the transposition makes no alteration in the sense, and merely produces a variation in the structure, it is rather to be called a verbal figure, as indeed many authorities have held. Of the faults resulting from long or confused hyperbata I have spoken in the appropriate place.211

I have kept hyperbole to the last, on the ground of its boldness. It means an elegant straining of the truth, and may be employed indifferently for exaggeration or attenuation. It can be used in various ways. 68 We may say more than the actual facts, as when Cicero says,​212 "He vomited and filled his lap and the whole tribunal with fragments of food," or when Virgil speaks of

"Twin rocks that threaten heaven."​213

 p341  Again, we may exalt our theme by the use of simile, as in the phrase:

"Thou wouldst have deemed

That Cyclad isles uprooted swam the deep."​214

69 Or we may produce the same result by introducing a comparison, as in the phrase:

"Swifter than the levin's wings;"​215

or by the use of indications, as in the lines:

"She would fly

Even o'er the tops of the unsickled corn,º

Nor as she ran would bruise the tender ears."​216

Or we may employ a metaphor, as the verb to fly is employed in the passage just quoted. 70 Sometimes, again, one hyperbole may be heightened by the addition of another, as when Cicero in denouncing Antony says:​217 "What Charybdis was ever so voracious? Charybdis, do I say? Nay, if Charybdis ever existed, she was but a single monster. By heaven, even Ocean's self, methinks, could scarce have engulfed so many things, so widely scattered in such distant places, in such a twinkling of the eye." 71 I think, too, that I am right in saying that I noted a brilliant example of the same kind in the Hymns​218 of Pindar, the prince of lyric poets. For when he describes the onslaught made by Hercules upon the Meropes, the legendary inhabitants of the island of Cos, he speaks of the hero as like not to fire, winds or sea, but to the thunderbolt, making the latter the only true equivalent of his speed and power, the former being treated as quite inadequate. 72 Cicero has imitated his method in the following  p343 passage from the Verrines:​219 "After long lapse of years the Sicilians saw dwelling in their midst, not a second Dionysius or Phalaris (for that island has produced many a cruel tyrant in years gone by), but a new monster with all the old ferocity once familiar to those regions. For, to my thinking, neither Scylla nor Charybdis were ever such foes as he to the ships that sailed those same narrow seas." 73 The methods of hyperbole by attenuation are the same in number. Compare the Virgilian220

"Scarce cling they to their bones,"

or the lines from a humorous work​221 of Cicero's,

"Fundum Vetto vocat quem possit mittere funda;

Ni tamen exciderit, qua cava funda pater."

"Vetto gives the name of farm to an estate which might easily be hurled from a sling, though it might well fall through the hole in the hollow sling, so small is it."

But even here a certain proportion must be observed. For although every hyperbole involves the incredible, it must not go too far in this direction, which provides the easiest road to extravagant affectation. 74 I shrink from recording the faults to which the lack of this sense of proportion has given rise, more especially as they are so well known and obvious. It is enough to say that hyperbole lies, though without any intention to deceive. We must therefore be all the more careful to consider how far we may go in exaggerating facts which our audience may refuse to believe. Again, hyperbole will often cause a laugh. If that was what the orator desired,  p345 we may give him credit for wit; otherwise we can only call him a fool. 75 Hyperbole is employed even by peasants and uneducated persons, for the good reason that everybody has an innate passion for exaggeration or attenuation of actual facts, and no one is ever contented with the simple truth. But such disregard of truth is pardonable, for it does not involve the definite assertion of the thing that is not. 76 Hyperbole is, moreover, a virtue, when the subject on which we have to speak is abnormal. For we allowed to amplify, when the magnitude of the facts passes all words, and in such circumstances our language will be more effective if it goes beyond the truth than if it falls short of it. However, I have said enough on this topic, since I have already dealt with it in my work on the causes of the decline of oratory.

The Translator's Notes:

102 xvi.38.

103 Verr. I.III.9.

104 Verr. V.LXVI.170.

105 Aen. VII.649.

106 Phil. II.XXV.63.

107 Phil. II.XXV.63.

108 Cat.º I.VII.17.

109 xi.32.

110 cp. V.XIII.24.

111 Cat. I.I.3.

112 Phil. II.XXV.63.

113 See III.VI.43 sqq.; VII.V.2.

114 Aen. I.81.

115 Verr. 5, 44, 177.

116 Il. III.156.

117 218B-219D.

118 Il. VII.219.

119 Il. XVI.140.

120 Aen. III.659.

121 Aen. V.264.

122 Phil. ii.27.

123 Pro Lig. iii.9.

124 "accumulation."

125 Verr. V.XLV.118.

126 Leg. Agr. II.V.13.

127 See ch. vi.

128 Cic. pro Lig. xii.37.

129 The premises of the enthymeme are simple, while those of the epicheiremeº are supported by a reason. See V.XIV.

130 Sall. Jug. 10.

131 Ter. Andr. I.I.141.

132 Author unknown.

133 Publil. Syr. Sent. 486.

134 Aen. XII.646.

135 In his lost tragedy, the Medea.

136 Pro Lig. xii.38.

137 See V.X.2, and again, for greater detail, V.XIV.1 (note at end), where an example of this type of sententia is given from the pro Milone (ch. 29) "You are sitting to avenge the death of one whom you would be unwilling to restore to life even if you thought it was in your power to restore it!"

138 Pro Lig. iv.10.

139 Aen. I.33.

140 Cic. pro Mil. iv.9, cp. V.XI.13.

141 Pro Lig. i.2. It is a conclusion in the logical sense. But clausula more commonly means "close, conclusion, cadence" of a period. Cp. what follows.

142 The point is uncertain. Possibly, as Gesner suggests, the sons were accusing their mother.

143 sibi indulsit would seem to mean his appointing S. his heir and then being kind enough to die so soon! But the point is uncertain.

144 Cic. ad Att. VIII.VII.2.

145 Probably from the lost in Pisonem, since St. Jerome in a letter to Oceanus says postea vero Pisoniano vitio, cum loqui non posset, tacere non poterat. But here again the point is obscure.

146 By the lex Julia et Papia Poppaea childless wives were only entitled to a tenth of their husband's estate.

147 The exact meaning is uncertain. The allusion may be to the turning up of the thumb as a sign of defeat. See sect. 12.

148 Is this a suggestion that the Germans are monsters "whose headsd grow beneath their shoulders" or that they are so tall that their heads are lost in the clouds?

149 Pro Mil. xiii.34, 35.

150 Virg. Georg. III.1.

151 Probably from Ennius.


153 Aen. VI.1.

154 From an unknown tragedian.

155 Aen. II.307.

156 Aen. VIII.728.

157 Pro Lig. iii.9. See VIII.IV.27.

158 Aen. IX.773.

159 See VIII.III.48.

160 In Cat. I.V.12.

161 De Or. III.XLI.164.

162 From Furius, an old epic poet of the second century (not Furius Bibaculus), cp. Hor. S. II.V.41.º

163 Georg. IV.59. Aen. VI.16 and 19.

164 This letter is lost.

165 Aen. XI.142. A false explanation of the historic infinitive as involving the omission of some such word as coeperunt.

166 Ed. ii.66.

167 Orat. xxvii.93.

168 Aen. I.177.

169 A. P. 63.

170 Aen. II.311.

171 Hor. Od. I.IV.13.

172 Aen. VI.275.

173 The son of Tydeus = Diomede, the son of Peleus = Achilles.

174 Aen. I.65.

175 Aen. IV.495. This third example does not correspond with the twofold division given by utroque and may be spurious.

176 Pro Muren. xxix.60. The passage continues (a quotation from some old play) "But you have faults and I can correct them." Phoenix is addressing his pupil Achilles.

177 Cic. ad Att. IX.X.6.

178 This passage is too corrupt to admit of emendation or translation. There seem to be references to vio for eo and to arquitollens, for which cp. arquitenens. Septemtriones can hardly be selected for censure, as it is not uncommon.

179 Aen. II.XV. It is an abuse to say aedificant, which means literally "they make a house."

180 Perhaps from the Medus of Pacuvius. It is an abuse to use parentat of funeral offerings made by father to son.

181 Lit. vinegar flasks.

182 i.e. made of boxwood.

Thayer's Note: For further details, see the article Pyxis in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

183 χείρων and ἤσσων both mean inferior.

184 cp. Od. XV.298. Θοός is used elsewhere to express sharpness.

185 Verres = boar; Catus = wise.

186 In the sense of to repeat.

187 Georg. III.364.

188 Cic. in Cat. I.X.25.

189 Pro Mil. xx.53.

190 Aen. VI.276 and 275. Here the addition is metonymy, turpis and tristis both substituting effect in place of cause: cp. § 27.

191 Aen. III.475. I have translated 476 (cura deum, bis Pergameis erepte ruinis) as well to bring out Quintilian's meaning. Quintilian assumes the rest of theº quotation to be known.

192 Hor. Od. I.XIV.1.

193 Lucr. iv.1.

194 Georg. II.541.

195 Buc. ix.7.

196 From an unknown speech.

197 Pro Mil. ii.5.

198 Pro Mur. xvii.35.

199 The allusion must be to the fact that Dionysius II, tyrant of Syracuse, on his expulsion from the throne, migrated to Corinth and set up as a schoolmaster. Its application is uncertain, but it would obviously be a way of saying "How the mighty are fallen!"

200 Ecl. iii.104; the solution is lost.

201 The references are to the licentious character of Clodia. Coa was probably intended to suggest coitus, while nola is best derived from nolle, and is to be regarded as the opposite of coa.

Thayer's Note: In modern lingo, she was a come-on in the dining-room, and a no man in the bedroom.

202 Cic. Pro Cluent. xxxiii.91.

203 cp. § 20.

204 From the lost speech in Clodium et Curionem.

205 The passage is hopelessly corrupt. The concluding portion of the sentence must have referred to the use of proverbs, of which it may have contained an example. This is clear from the next sentence. Sarcasm, urbane wit and contradiction are covered by the first three clauses, but there has been no allusion to proverbs such as παροιμία demands.

206 Presumably from the Histories.

207 Aen. II.268.

208 At the beginning of the Republic. κατέβην χθὲς εἰς Πειραιᾶ.

209 Cic. pro Cluent. i.1.

210 Georg. III.381.

211 VIII.II.14.

212 Phil. II.XXV.63.

213 Aen. I.162.

214 Aen. VIII.691.

215 Aen. V.319.

216 Aen. VII.808.

217 Phil. II.XXVII.67.

218 A lost work.

219 V.LVI.145.

220 Ecl. iii.103. Describing a flock of starved sheep.

221 Unknown.

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