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Tacitus: Dialog on Oratory Book 1 [30]

30. I say nothing about the learners' first rudiments. Even with these little pains are taken, and on the reading of authors, on the study of antiquity and a knowledge of facts, of men and of periods, by no means enough labour is bestowed. It is rhetoricians, as they are called, who are in request. When this profession was first introduced into our city, and how little esteem it had among our ancestors, I am now about to explain; but I will first recall your attention to the training which we have been told was practised by those orators whose infinite industry, daily study and incessant application to every branch of learning are seen in the contents of their own books. You are doubtless familiar with Cicero's book, called Brutus. In the latter part of it (the first gives an account of the ancient orators) he relates his own beginnings, his progress, and the growth, so to say, of his eloquence. He tells us that he learnt the civil law under Quintus Mucius, and that he thoroughly imbibed every branch of philosophy under Philo of the Academy and under Diodotus the Stoic; that not content with the teachers under whom he had had the opportunity of studying at Rome, he travelled through Achaia and Asia Minor so as to embrace every variety of every learned pursuit. Hence we really find in Cicero's works that he was not deficient in the knowledge of geometry, music, grammar, or, in short, any liberal accomplishment. The subtleties of logic, the useful lessons of ethical science, the movements and causes of the universe, were alike known to him. The truth indeed is this, my excellent friends, that Cicero's wonderful eloquence wells up and overflows out of a store of erudition, a multitude of accomplishments, and a knowledge that was universal. The strength and power of oratory, unlike all other arts, is not confined within narrow and straitened limits, but the orator is he who can speak on every question with grace, elegance, and persuasiveness, suitably to the dignity of his subject, the requirements of the occasion, and the taste of his audience.

30. Transeo prima discentium elementa, in quibus et ipsis parum laboratur: nec in auctoribus cognoscendis nec in evolvenda antiquitate nec in notitiam vel rerum vel hominum vel temporum satis operae insumitur. Sed expetuntur quos rhetoras vocant; quorum professio quando primum in hanc urbem introducta sit quamque nullam apud maiores nostros auctoritatem habuerit, statim dicturus referam necesse est animum ad eam disciplinam, qua usos esse eos oratores accepimus, quorum infinitus labor et cotidiana meditatio et in omni genere studiorum assiduae exercitationes ipsorum etiam continentur libris. Notus est vobis utique Ciceronis liber, qui Brutus inscribitur, in cuius extrema parte (nam prior commemorationem veterum oratorum habet) sua initia, suos gradus, suae eloquentiae velut quandam educationem refert: se apud Q. Nucium ius civile didicisse, apud Philonem Academicum, apud Diodotum Stoicum omnis philosophiae partis penitus hausisse; neque iis doctoribus contentum, quorum ei copia in urbe contigerat, Achaiam quoque et Asiam peragrasse, ut omnem omnium artium varietatem complecteretur. Itaque hercule in libris Ciceronis deprehendere licet, non geometriae, non musicae, non grammaticae, non denique ullius ingenuae artis scientiam ei defuisse. Ille dialecticae subtilitatem, ille moralis partis utilitatem, ille rerum motus causasque cognoverat. Ita est enim, optimi viri, ita: ex multa eruditione et plurimis artibus et omnium rerum scientia exundat et exuberat illa admirabilis eloquentia; neque oratoris vis et facultas, sicut ceterarum rerum, angustis et brevibus terminis cluditur, sed is est orator, qui de omni quaestione pulchre et ornate et ad persuadendum apte dicere pro dignitate rerum, ad utilitatem temporum, cum voluptate audientium possit.

31. Such was the conviction of the ancients, and to produce this result they were aware that it was necessary not only to declaim in the schools of rhetoricians, or to exercise the tongue and the voice in fictitious controversies quite remote from reality, but also to imbue the mind with those studies which treat of good and evil, of honour and dishonour, of right and wrong. All this, indeed, is the subject-matter of the orator's speeches. Equity in the law-court, honour in the council-chamber, are our usual topics of discussion. Still, these often pass into each other, and no one can speak on them with fulness, variety, and elegance but he who has studied human nature, the power of virtue, the depravity of vice, and the conception of those things which can be classed neither among virtues nor vices. These are the sources whence flows the greater ease with which he who knows what anger is, rouses or soothes the anger of a judge, the readier power with which he moves to pity who knows what pity is, and what emotions of the soul excite it. An orator practised in such arts and exercises, whether he has to address the angry, the biassed, the envious, the sorrowful, or the trembling, will understand different mental conditions, apply his skill, adapt his style, and have every instrument of his craft in readiness, or in reserve for every occasion. Some there are whose assent is more secured by an incisive and terse style, in which each inference is rapidly drawn. With such, it will be an advantage to have studied logic. Others are more attracted by a diffuse and smoothly flowing speech, appealing to the common sentiments of humanity. To impress such we must borrow from the Peripatetics commonplaces suited and ready prepared for every discussion. The Academy will give us combativeness, Plato, sublimity, Xenophon, sweetness. Nor will it be unseemly in an orator to adopt even certain exclamations of honest emotion, from Epicurus and Metrodorus, and to use them as occasion requires. It is not a philosopher after the Stoic school whom we are forming, but one who ought to imbibe thoroughly some studies, and to have a taste of all. Accordingly, knowledge of the civil law was included in the training of the ancient orators, and they also imbued their minds with grammar, music, and geometry. In truth, in very many, I may say in all cases, acquaintance with law is desirable, and in several this last-mentioned knowledge is a necessity.

31. Hoc sibi illi veteres persuaserant, ad hoc efficiendum intellegebant opus esse, non ut in rhetorum scholis declamarent, nec ut fictis nec ullo modo ad veritatem accedentibus controversiis linguam modo et vocem exercerent, sed ut iis artibus pectus implerent, in quibus de bonis et malis, de honesto et turpi, de iusto et iniusto disputatur; haec enim est oratori subiecta ad dicendum materia. Nam in iudiciis fere de aequitate, in deliberationibus [de utilitate, in laudationibus] de honestate disserimus, ita [tamen] ut plerumque haec ipsa in vicem misceantur: de quibus copiose et varie et ornate nemo dicere potest, nisi qui cognovit naturam humanam et vim virtutum pravitatemque vitiorum et intellectum eorum, quae nec in virtutibus nec in vitiis numerantur. Ex his fontibus etiam illa profluunt, ut facilius iram iudicis vel instiget vel leniat, qui scit quid ira, promptius ad miserationem impellat, qui scit quid sit misericordia et quibus animi motibus concitetur. In his artibus exercitationibusque versatus orator, sive apud infestos sive apud cupidos sive apud invidentis sive apud tristis sive apud timentis dicendum habuerit, tenebit venas animorum, et prout cuiusque natura postulabit, adhibebit manum et temperabit orationem, parato omni instrumento et ad omnem usum reposito. sunt apud quos adstrictum et collectum et singula statim argumenta concludens dicendi genus plus fidei meretur: apud hos dedisse operam dialecticae proficiet. Alios fusa et aequalis et ex communibus ducta sensibus oratio magis delectat: ad hos permovendos mutuabimur a Peripateticis aptos et in omnem disputationem paratos iam locos. dabunt Academici pugnacitatem, Plato altitudinem, Xenophon iucunditatem; ne Epicuri quidem et Metrodori honestas quasdam exclamationes adsumere iisque, prout res poscit, uti alienum erit oratori. Neque enim sapientem informamus neque Stoicorum comitem, sed eum qui quasdam artis haurire, omnes libare debet. Ideoque et iuris civilis scientiam veteres oratores comprehendebant, et grammatica musica geometria imbuebantur. Incidunt enim causae, plurimae quidem ac paene omnes, quibus iuris notitia desideratur, pleraeque autem, in quibus haec quoque scientia requiritur.

32. Let no one reply that it is enough for us to learn, as occasion requires, some single and detached subject. In the first place we use our own property in one way, a loan in another, and there is evidently a wide difference between possessing what one exhibits and borrowing it. Next, the very knowledge of many subjects sits gracefully on us, even when we are otherwise engaged, and makes itself visible and conspicuous where you would least expect it. Even the average citizen, and not only the learned and critical hearer, perceives it, and forthwith showers his praises in the acknowledgment that the man has been a genuine student, has gone through every branch of eloquence, and is, in short, an orator. And I maintain that the only orator is, and ever has been, one who, like a soldier equipped at all points going to the battle-field, enters the forum armed with every learned accomplishment.

All this is so neglected by the speakers of our time that we detect in their pleadings the style of every-day conversation, and unseemly and shameful deficiencies. They are ignorant of the laws, they do not understand the senate's decrees, they actually scoff at the civil law, while they quite dread the study of philosophy, and the opinions of the learned; and eloquence, banished, so to say, from her proper realm, is dragged down by them into utter poverty of thought and constrained periods. Thus she who, once mistress of all the arts, held sway with a glorious retinue over our souls, now clipped and shorn, without state, without honour, I had almost said without her freedom, is studied as one of the meanest handicrafts. This then I believe to be the first and chief cause of so marked a falling off among us from the eloquence of the old orators. If witnesses are wanted, whom shall I name in preference to Demosthenes among the Greeks, who is said by tradition to have been a most attentive hearer of Plato? Cicero too tells us, I think, in these very words, that whatever he had achieved in eloquence he had gained, not from rhetoricians, but in the walks of the Academy. There are other causes, some of them great and important, which it is for you in fairness to explain, as I have now done my part, and, after my usual way, have offended pretty many persons who, if they happen to hear all this, will, I am sure, say that, in praising an acquaintance with law and philosophy as a necessity for an orator, I have been applauding my own follies.

32. Nec quisquam respondeat sufficere, ut ad tempus simplex quiddam et uniforme doceamur. primum enim aliter utimur propriis, aliter commodatis, longeque interesse manifestum est, possideat quis quae profert an mutuetur. deinde ipsa multarum artium scientia etiam aliud agentis nos ornat, atque ubi minime credas, eminet et excellit. Idque non doctus modo et prudens auditor, sed etiam populus intellegit ac statim ita laude prosequitur, ut legitime studuisse, ut per omnis eloquentiae numeros isse, ut denique oratorem esse fateatur; quem non posse aliter existere nec extitisse umquam confirmo, nisi eum qui, tamquam in aciem omnibus armis instructus, sic in forum omnibus artibus armatus exierit. Quod adeo neglegitur ab horum temporum disertis, ut in actionibus eorum huius quoque cotidiani sermonis foeda ac pudenda vitia deprehendantur; ut ignorent leges, non teneant senatus consulta, ius [huius] civitatis ultro derideant, sapientiae vero studium et praecepta prudentium penitus reformident. In paucissimos sensus et angustas sententias detrudunt eloquentiam velut expulsam regno suo, ut quae olim omnium artium domina pulcherrimo comitatu pectora implebat, nunc circumcisa et amputata, sine apparatu, sine honore, paene dixerim sine ingenuitate, quasi una ex sordidissimis artificiis discatur. Ergo hanc primam et praecipuam causam arbitror, cur in tantum ab eloquentia antiquorum oratorum recesserimus. Si testes desiderantur, quos potiores nominabo quam apud Graecos Demosthenem, quem studiosissimum Platonis auditorem fuisse memoriae proditum est? Et Cicero his, ut opinor, verbis refert, quidquid in eloquentia effecerit, id se non rhetorum [officinis], sed Academiae spatiis consecutum. Sunt aliae causae, magnae et graves, quas vobis aperiri aequum est, quoniam quidem ego iam meum munus explevi, et quod mihi in consuetudine est, satis multos offendi, quos, si forte haec audierint, certum habeo dicturos me, dum iuris et philosophiae scientiam tamquam oratori necessariam laudo, ineptiis meis plausisse."

33. For myself, replied Maternus, I do not think that you have completed the task which you undertook. Far from it. You have, I think, only made a beginning, and indicated, so to say, its traces and outlines. You have indeed described to us the usual equipment of the ancient orators, and pointed out the contrast presented by our idleness and ignorance to their very diligent and fruitful studies. I want to hear the rest. Having learnt from you what they knew, with which we are unacquainted, I wish also to be told the process of training by which, when mere lads, and when about to enter the forum, they used to strengthen and nourish their intellects. For you will not, I imagine, deny that eloquence depends much less on art and theory than on capacity and practice, and our friends here seem by their looks to think the same.

Aper and Secundus having assented, Messala, so to say, began afresh. As I have, it seems, explained to your satisfaction the first elements and the germs of ancient eloquence in showing you the studies in which the orator of antiquity was formed and educated, I will now discuss the process of his training. However, even the studies themselves involve a training, and no one can acquire such profound and varied knowledge without adding practice to theory, fluency to practice, and eloquence itself to fluency. Hence we infer that the method of acquiring what you mean to produce publicly, and of so producing what you have acquired, is one and the same. Still, if any one thinks this somewhat obscure, and distinguishes broadly between theory and practice, he will at least allow that a mind thoroughly furnished and imbued with such studies will enter with a far better preparation on the kinds of practice which seem specially appropriate to the orator.

33. Et Maternus "mihi quidem" inquit "susceptum a te munus adeo peregisse nondum videris, ut incohasse tantum et velut vestigia ac liniamenta quaedam ostendisse videaris. Nam quibus [artibus] instrui veteres oratores soliti sint, dixisti differentiamque nostrae desidiae et inscientiae adversus acerrima et fecundissima eorum studia demonstrasti: cetera exspecto, ut quem ad modum ex te didici, quid aut illi scierint aut nos nesciamus, ita hoc quoque cognoscam, quibus exercitationibus iuvenes iam et forum ingressuri confirmare et alere ingenia sua soliti sint. Neque enim solum arte et scientia, sed longe magis facultate et [usu] eloquentiam contineri, nec tu puto abnues et hi significare vultu videntur." Deinde cum Aper quoque et Secundus idem adnuissent, Messalla quasi rursus incipiens: "quoniam initia et semina veteris eloquentiae satis demonstrasse videor, docendo quibus artibus antiqui oratores institui erudirique soliti sint, persequar nunc exercitationes eorum. Quamquam ipsis artibus inest exercitatio, nec quisquam percipere tot tam reconditas tam varias res potest, nisi ut scientiae meditatio, meditationi facultas, facultati usus eloquentiae accedat. per quae colligitur eandem esse rationem et percipiendi quae proferas et proferendi quae perceperis. Sed si cui obscuriora haec videntur isque scientiam ab exercitatione separat, illud certe concedet, instructum et plenum his artibus animum longe paratiorem ad eas exercitationes venturum, quae propriae esse oratorum videntur.

34. It was accordingly usual with our ancestors, when a lad was being prepared for public speaking, as soon as he was fully trained by home discipline, and his mind was stored with culture, to have him taken by his father, or his relatives to the orator who held the highest rank in the state. The boy used to accompany and attend him, and be present at all his speeches, alike in the law-court and the assembly, and thus he picked up the art of repartee, and became habituated to the strife of words, and indeed, I may almost say, learnt how to fight in battle. Thereby young men acquired from the first great experience and confidence, and a very large stock of discrimination, for they were studying in broad daylight, in the very thick of the conflict, where no one can say anything foolish or self-contradictory without its being refuted by the judge, or ridiculed by the opponent, or, last of all, repudiated by the very counsel with him. Thus from the beginning they were imbued with true and genuine eloquence, and, although they attached themselves to one pleader, still they became acquainted with all advocates of their own standing in a multitude of cases before the courts. They had too abundant experience of the popular ear in all its greatest varieties, and with this they could easily ascertain what was liked or disapproved in each speaker. Thus they were not in want of a teacher of the very best and choicest kind, who could show them eloquence in her true features, not in a mere resemblance; nor did they lack opponents and rivals, who fought with actual steel, not with a wooden sword, and the audience too was always crowded, always changing, made up of unfriendly as well as of admiring critics, so that neither success nor failure could be disguised. You know, of course, that eloquence wins its great and enduring fame quite as much from the benches of our opponents as from those of our friends; nay, more, its rise from that quarter is steadier, and its growth surer. Undoubtedly it was under such teachers that the youth of whom I am speaking, the disciple of orators, the listener in the forum, the student in the law-courts, was trained and practised by the experiences of others. The laws he learnt by daily hearing; the faces of the judges were familiar to him; the ways of popular assemblies were continually before his eyes; he had frequent experience of the ear of the people, and whether he undertook a prosecution or a defence, he was at once singly and alone equal to any case. We still read with admiration the speeches in which Lucius Crassus in his nineteenth, Cæsar and Asinius Pollio in their twenty-first year, Calvus, when very little older, denounced, respectively, Carbo, Dolabella, Cato, and Vatinius.

34. Ergo apud maiores nostros iuvenis ille, qui foro et eloquentiae parabatur, imbutus iam domestica disciplina, refertus honestis studiis deducebatur a patre vel a propinquis ad eum oratorem, qui principem in civitate locum obtinebat. Hunc sectari, hunc prosequi, huius omnibus dictionibus interesse sive in iudiciis sive in contionibus adsuescebat, ita ut altercationes quoque exciperet et iurgiis interesset utque sic dixerim, pugnare in proelio disceret. Magnus ex hoc usus, multum constantiae, plurimum iudicii iuvenibus statim contingebat, in media luce studentibus atque inter ipsa discrimina, ubi nemo inpune stulte aliquid aut contrarie dicit, quo minus et iudex respuat et adversarius exprobret, ipsi denique advocati aspernentur. Igitur vera statim et incorrupta eloquentia imbuebantur; et quamquam unum sequerentur, tamen omnis eiusdem aetatis patronos in plurimis et causis et iudiciis cognoscebant; habebantque ipsius populi diversissimarum aurium copiam, ex qua facile deprehenderent, quid in quoque vel probaretur vel displiceret. Ita nec praeceptor deerat, optimus quidem et electissimus, qui faciem eloquentiae, non imaginem praestaret, nec adversarii et aemuli ferro, non rudibus dimicantes, nec auditorium semper plenum, semper novum, ex invidis et faventibus, ut nec bene [nec male] dicta dissimularentur. Scitis enim magnam illam et duraturam eloquentiae famam non minus in diversis subselliis parari quam suis; inde quin immo constantius surgere, ibi fidelius corroborari. Atque hercule sub eius modi praeceptoribus iuvenis ille, de quo loquimur, oratorum discipulus, fori auditor, sectator iudiciorum, eruditus et adsuefactus alienis experimentis, cui cotidie audienti notae leges, non novi iudicum vultus, frequens in oculis consuetudo contionum, saepe cognitae populi aures, sive accusationem susceperat sive defensionem, solus statim et unus cuicumque causae par erat. Nono decimo aetatis anno L. Crassus C. Carbonem, unoetvicesimo Caesar Dolabellam, altero et vicesimo Asinius Pollio C. Catonem, non multum aetate antecedens Calvus Vatinium iis orationibus insecuti sunt, quas hodieque cum admiratione legimus.

35. But in these days we have our youths taken to the professors' theatre, the rhetoricians, as we call them. The class made its appearance a little before Cicero's time, and was not liked by our ancestors, as is evident from the fact that, when Crassus and Domitius were censors, they were ordered, as Cicero says, to close "the school of impudence." However, as I was just saying, the boys are taken to schools in which it is hard to tell whether the place itself, or their fellow-scholars, or the character of their studies, do their minds most harm. As for the place, there is no such thing as reverence, for no one enters it who is not as ignorant as the rest. As for the scholars, there can be no improvement, when boys and striplings with equal assurance ad, dress, and are addressed by, other boys and striplings. As for the mental exercises themselves, they are the reverse of beneficial. Two kinds of subject-matter are dealt with before the rhetoricians, the persuasive and the controversial. The persuasive, as being comparatively easy and requiring less skill, is given to boys. The controversial is assigned to riper scholars, and, good heavens! what strange and astonishing productions are the result! It comes to pass that subjects remote from all reality are actually used for declamation. Thus the reward of a tyrannicide, or the choice of an outraged maiden, or a remedy for a pestilence, or a mother's incest, anything, in short, daily discussed in our schools, never, or but very rarely in the courts, is dwelt on in grand language.

[ The rest of Messala's speech is lost. Maternus is now again the speaker.]

35. At nunc adulescentuli nostri deducuntur in scholas istorum, qui rhetores vocantur, quos paulo ante Ciceronis tempora extitisse nec placuisse maioribus nostris ex eo manifestum est, quod a Crasso et Domitio censoribus claudere, ut ait Cicero, "ludum impudentiae" iussi sunt. Sed ut dicere institueram, deducuntur in scholas, [in] quibus non facile dixerim utrumne locus ipse an condiscipuli an genus studiorum plus mali ingeniis adferant. Nam in loco nihil reverentiae est, in quem nemo nisi aeque imperitus intret; in condiscipulis nihil profectus, cum pueri inter pueros et adulescentuli inter adulescentulos pari securitate et dicant et audiantur; ipsae vero exercitationes magna ex parte contrariae. Nempe enim duo genera materiarum apud rhetoras tractantur, suasoriae et controversiae. Ex his suasoriae quidem etsi tamquam plane leviores et minus prudentiae exigentes pueris delegantur, controversiae robustioribus adsignantur, -- quales, per fidem, et quam incredibiliter compositae! sequitur autem, ut materiae abhorrenti a veritate declamatio quoque adhibeatur. Sic fit ut tyrannicidarum praemia aut vitiatarum electiones aut pestilentiae remedia aut incesta matrum aut quidquid in schola cotidie agitur, in foro vel raro vel numquam, ingentibus verbis persequantur: cum ad veros iudices ventum . . .

36. Great eloquence, like fire, grows with its material; it becomes fiercer with movement, and brighter as it burns. On this same principle was developed in our state too the eloquence of antiquity. Although even the modern orator has attained all that the circumstances of a settled, quiet, and prosperous community allow, still in the disorder and licence of the past more seemed to be within the reach of the speaker, when, amid a universal confusion that needed one guiding hand, he exactly adapted his wisdom to the bewildered people's capacity of conviction. Hence, laws without end and consequent popularity; hence, speeches of magistrates who, I may say, passed nights on the Rostra; hence, prosecutions of influential citizens brought to trial, and feuds transmitted to whole families; hence, factions among the nobles, and incessant strife between the senate and the people. In each case the state was torn asunder, but the eloquence of the age was exercised and, as it seemed, was loaded with great rewards. For the more powerful a man was as a speaker, the more easily did he obtain office, the more decisively superior was he to his colleagues in office, the more influence did he acquire with the leaders of the state, the more weight in the senate, the more notoriety and fame with the people. Such men had a host of clients, even among foreign nations; the magistrates, when leaving Rome for the provinces, showed them respect, and courted their favour as soon as they returned. The prætorship and the consulship seemed to offer themselves to them, and even when they were out of office, they were not out of power, for they swayed both people and senate with their counsels and influence. Indeed, they had quite convinced themselves that without eloquence no one could win or retain a distinguished and eminent position in the state. And no wonder. Even against their own wish they had to show themselves before the people. It was little good for them to give a brief vote in the senate without sup-porting their opinion with ability and eloquence. If brought into popular odium, or under some charge, they had to reply in their own words. Again, they were under the necessity of giving evidence in the public courts, not in their absence by affidavit, but of being present and of speaking it openly. There was thus a strong stimulus to win the great prizes of eloquence, and as the reputation of a good speaker was considered an honour and a glory, so it was thought a disgrace to seem mute and speechless. Shame therefore quite as much as hope of reward prompted men not to take the place of a pitiful client rather than that of a patron, or to see hereditary connections transferred to others, or to seem spiritless and incapable of office from either failing to obtain it or from holding it weakly when obtained.

36. . . . rem cogitant; nihil humile, nihil abiectum eloqui poterat. Magna eloquentia, sicut flamma, materia alitur et motibus excitatur et urendo clarescit. Eadem ratio in nostra quoque civitate antiquorum eloquentiam provexit. Nam etsi horum quoque temporum oratores ea consecuti sunt, quae composita et quieta et beata re publica tribui fas erat, tamen illa perturbatione ac licentia plura sibi adsequi videbantur, cum mixtis omnibus et moderatore uno carentibus tantum quisque orator saperet, quantum erranti populo persuaderi poterat. Hinc leges assiduae et populare nomen, hinc contiones magistratuum paene pernoctantium in rostris, hinc accusationes potentium reorum et adsignatae etiam domibus inimicitiae, hinc procerum factiones et assidua senatus adversus plebem certamina. Quae singula etsi distrahebant rem publicam, exercebant tamen illorum temporum eloquentiam et magnis cumulare praemiis videbantur, quia quanto quisque plus dicendo poterat, tanto facilius honores adsequebatur, tanto magis in ipsis honoribus collegas suos anteibat, tanto plus apud principes gratiae, plus auctoritatis apud patres, plus notitiae ac nominis apud plebem parabat. Hi clientelis etiam exterarum nationum redundabant, hos ituri in provincias magistratus reverebantur, hos reversi colebant, hos et praeturae et consulatus vocare ultro videbantur, hi ne privati quidem sine potestate erant, cum et populum et senatum consilio et auctoritate regerent. Quin immo sibi ipsi persuaserant neminem sine eloquentia aut adsequi posse in civitate aut tueri conspicuum et eminentem locum. Nec mirum, cum etiam inviti ad populum producerentur, cum parum esset in senatu breviter censere, nisi qui ingenio et eloquentia sententiam suam tueretur, cum in aliquam invidiam aut crimen vocati sua voce respondendum haberent, cum testimonia quoque in publicis [iudiciis] non absentes nec per tabellam dare, sed coram et praesentes dicere cogerentur. Ita ad summa eloquentiae praemia magna etiam necessitas accedebat, et quo modo disertum haberi pulchrum et gloriosum, sic contra mutum et elinguem videri deforme habebatur.

37. Perhaps you have had in your hands the old records, still to be found in the libraries of antiquaries, which Mucianus is just now collecting, and which have already been brought together and published in, I think, eleven books of Transactions, and three of Letters. From these we may gather that Cneius Pompeius and Marcus Crassus rose to power as much by force of intellect and by speaking as by their might in arms; that the Lentuli, Metelli, Luculli, and Curios, and the rest of our nobles, bestowed great labour and pains on these studies, and that, in fact, no one in those days acquired much influence without some eloquence, We must consider too the eminence of the men accused, and the vast issues involved. These of themselves do very much for eloquence. There is, indeed, a wide difference between having to speak on a theft, a technical point, a judicial decision, and on bribery at elections, the plundering of the allies, and the massacre of citizens. Though it is better that these evils should not befall us, and the best condition of the state is that in which we are spared such sufferings, still, when they did occur, they supplied a grand material for the orator. His mental powers rise with the dignity of his subject, and no one can produce a noble and brilliant speech unless he has got an adequate case. Demosthenes, I take it, does not owe his fame to his speeches against his guardians, and it is not his defence of Publius Quintius, or of Licinius Archias, which make Cicero a great orator; it is his Catiline, his Milo, his Verres, and Antonius, which have shed over him this lustre. Not indeed that it was worth the state's while to endure bad citizens that orators might have plenty of matter for their speeches, but, as I now and then remind you, we must remember the point, and understand that we are speaking of an art which arose more easily in stormy and unquiet times. Who knows not that it is better and more profitable to enjoy peace than to be harassed by war? Yet war produces more good soldiers than peace. Eloquence is on the same footing. The oftener she has stood, so to say, in the battle-field, the more wounds she has inflicted and received, the mightier her antagonist, the sharper the conflicts she has freely chosen, the higher and more splendid has been her rise, and ennobled by these contests she lives in the praises of mankind.

37. Ergo non minus rubore quam praemiis stimulabantur, ne clientulorum loco potius quam patronorum numerarentur, ne traditae a maioribus necessitudines ad alios transirent, ne tamquam inertes et non suffecturi honoribus aut non impetrarent aut impetratos male tuerentur. Nescio an venerint in manus vestras haec vetera, quae et in antiquariorum bibliothecis adhuc manent et cum maxime a Muciano contrahuntur, ac iam undecim, ut opinor, Actorum libris et tribus Epistularum composita et edita sunt. Ex his intellegi potest Cn. Pompeium et M. Crassum non viribus modo et armis, sed ingenio quoque et oratione valuisse; Lentulos et Metellos et Lucullos et Curiones et ceteram procerum manum multum in his studiis operae curaeque posuisse, nec quemquam illis temporibus magnam potentiam sine aliqua eloquentia consecutum. His accedebat splendor reorum et magnitudo causarum, quae et ipsa plurimum eloquentiae praestant. Nam multum interest, utrumne de furto aut formula et interdicto dicendum habeas, an de ambitu comitiorum, expilatis sociis et civibus trucidatis. Quae mala sicut non accidere melius est isque optimus civitatis status habendus est, in quo nihil tale patimur, ita cum acciderent, ingentem eloquentiae materiam subministrabant. Crescit enim cum amplitudine rerum vis ingenii, nec quisquam claram et inlustrem orationem efficere potest nisi qui causam parem invenit. Non, opinor, Demosthenem orationes inlustrant, quas adversus tutores suos composuit, nec Ciceronem magnum oratorem P. Quintius defensus aut Licinius Archias faciunt: Catilina et Milo et Verres et Antonius hanc illi famam circumdederunt, non quia tanti fuerit rei publicae malos ferre cives, ut uberem ad dicendum materiam oratores haberent, sed, ut subinde admoneo, quaestionis meminerimus sciamusque nos de ea re loqui, quae facilius turbidis et inquietis temporibus existit. Quis ignorat utilius ac melius esse frui pace quam bello vexari? Pluris tamen bonos proeliatores bella quam pax ferunt. Similis eloquentiae condicio. Nam quo saepius steterit tamquam in acie quoque pluris et intulerit ictus et exceperit quoque maiores adversarios acrioresque pugnas sibi ipsa desumpserit, tanto altior et excelsior et illis nobilitata discriminibus in ore hominum agit, quorum ea natura est, ut secura velint, [periculosa mirentur].

38. I pass now to the forms and character of procedure in the old courts. As they exist now, they are indeed more favourable to truth, but the forum in those days was a better training for eloquence. There no speaker was under the necessity of concluding within a very few hours; there was freedom of adjournment, and every one fixed for himself the limits of his speech, and there was no prescribed number of days or of counsel. It was Cneius Pompeius who, in his third consulship, first restricted all this, and put a bridle, so to say, on eloquence, intending, however, that all business should be transacted in the forum according to law, and before the prætors. Here is a stronger proof of the greater importance of the cases tried before these judges than in the fact that causes in the Court of the Hundred, causes which now hold the first place, were then so eclipsed by the fame of other trials that not a speech of Cicero, or Cæsar, or Brutus, or Caelius, or Calvus, or, in short, any great orator is now read, that was delivered in that Court, except only the orations of Asinius Pollio for the heirs of Urbinia, as they are entitled, and even Pollio delivered these in the middle of the reign of Augustus, a period of long rest, of unbroken repose for the people and tranquillity for the senate, when the emperor's perfect discipline had put its restraints on eloquence as well as on all else.

38. Transeo ad formam et consuetudinem veterum iudiciorum. Quae etsi nunc aptior est [ita erit], eloquentiam tamen illud forum magis exercebat, in quo nemo intra paucissimas horas perorare cogebatur et liberae comperendinationes erant et modum in dicendo sibi quisque sumebat et numerus neque dierum neque patronorum finiebatur. primus haec tertio consulatu Cn. Pompeius adstrinxit imposuitque veluti frenos eloquentiae, ita tamen ut omnia in foro, omnia legibus, omnia apud praetores gererentur: apud quos quanto maiora negotia olim exerceri solita sint, quod maius argumentum est quam quod causae centumvirales, quae nunc primum obtinent locum, adeo splendore aliorum iudiciorum obruebantur, ut neque Ciceronis neque Caesaris neque Bruti neque Caelii neque Calvi, non denique ullius magni oratoris liber apud centumviros dictus legatur, exceptis orationibus Asinii, quae pro heredibus Urbiniae inscribuntur, ab ipso tamen Pollione mediis divi Augusti temporibus habitae, postquam longa temporum quies et continuum populi otium et assidua senatus tranquillitas et maxime principis disciplina ipsam quoque eloquentiam sicut omnia alia pacaverat.

39. Perhaps what I am going to say will be thought trifling and ridiculous; but I will say it even to be laughed at. What contempt (so I think at least) has been brought on eloquence by those little overcoats into which we squeeze, and, so to say, box ourselves up, when we chat with the judges! How much force may we suppose has been taken from our speeches by the little rooms and offices in which nearly all cases have to be set forth. Just as a spacious course tests a fine horse, so the orator has his field, and unless he can move in it freely and at ease, his eloquence grows feeble and breaks down. Nay more; we find the pains and labour of careful composition out of place, for the judge keeps asking when you are going to open the case, and you must begin from his question. Frequently he imposes silence on the advocate to hear proofs and witnesses. Meanwhile only one or two persons stand by you as you are speaking and the whole business is transacted almost in solitude. But the orator wants shouts and applause, and something like a theatre, all which and the like were the every day lot of the orators of antiquity, when both numbers and nobility pressed into the forum, when gatherings of clients and the people in their tribes and deputations from the towns and indeed a great part of Italy stood by the accused in his peril, and Rome's citizens felt in a multitude of trials that they themselves had an interest in the decision. We know that there was a universal rush of the people to hear the accusation and the defence of Cornelius, Scaurus, Milo, Bestia, and Vatinius, so that even the coldest speaker might have been stirred and kindled by the mere enthusiasm of the citizens in their strife. And therefore indeed such pleadings are still extant, and thus the men too who pleaded, owe their fame to no other speeches more than these.

39. Parvum et ridiculum fortasse videbitur quod dicturus sum, dicam tamen, vel ideo ut rideatur. Quantum humilitatis putamus eloquentiae attulisse paenulas istas, quibus adstricti et velut inclusi cum iudicibus fabulamur? Quantum virium detraxisse orationi auditoria et tabularia credimus, in quibus iam fere plurimae causae explicantur? Nam quo modo nobilis equos cursus et spatia probant, sic est aliquis oratorum campus, per quem nisi liberi et soluti ferantur, debilitatur ac frangitur eloquentia. Ipsam quin immo curam et diligentis stili anxietatem contrariam experimur, quia saepe interrogat iudex, quando incipias, et ex interrogatione eius incipiendum est. frequenter probationibus et testibus silentium + patronus + indicit. unus inter haec dicenti aut alter adsistit, et res velut in solitudine agitur. Oratori autem clamore plausuque opus est et velut quodam theatro; qualia cotidie antiquis oratoribus contingebant, cum tot pariter ac tam nobiles forum coartarent, cum clientelae quoque ac tribus et municipiorum etiam legationes ac pars Italiae periclitantibus adsisteret, cum in plerisque iudiciis crederet populus Romanus sua interesse quid iudicaretur. Satis constat C. Cornelium et M. Scaurum et T. Nilonem et L. Bestiam et P. Vatinium concursu totius civitatis et accusatos et defensos, ut frigidissimos quoque oratores ipsa certantis populi studia excitare et incendere potuerint. Itaque hercule eius modi libri extant, ut ipsi quoque qui egerunt non aliis magis orationibus censeantur.

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