Institutes of Oratory

On the Education of an Orator


Book I
Book II
Book III
Book IV
Book V
Book VI
Book VII
Book IX
Book X
Book XI
Book XII


[An eminent bookseller at Rome, mentioned by Martial, iv. 72; xiii. 3]


You have prevailed on me, by your daily importunity, to proceed at once to publish the books on the Education of an Orator, which I had addressed to my friend Marcellus; for, for my own part, I thought that they were not yet sufficiently advanced towards perfection. On the composition of them, as you know, I spent little more than two years, while distracted by so many other occupations; and this time was devoted, not so much to the labor of writing, as to that of research for the almost boundless work which I had undertaken, and to the perusal of authors, who are innumerable. Following, besides, the advice of Horace, who, in his Art of Poetry, recommends that publication should not be hurried, and that a work should be retained till the ninth year, I allowed time for re-considering them, in order that, when the ardor of invention had cooled, I might judge of them, on a more careful re-perusal, as a mere reader. Yet if they are so much demanded, as you say, let us give our sails to the winds, and pray for success as we loose our cable. But much also depends on your faithfulness and care, that they may come into the hands of the public in as correct a state as possible.


Addressed to
Marcellus Victorius

When certain persons, after I had secured rest from my labors, which for twenty years I had devoted to the instruction of youth, requested of me, in a friendly manner, to write something on the art of speaking, I certainly resisted their solicitations for a long time; because I was not ignorant that authors of the greatest celebrity in both languages had bequeathed to posterity many treatises having reference to this subject, written with the greatest care. 2. But by the very plea on which I thought that excuse for my refusal would be more readily admitted, my friends were rendered still more urgent; "since," they said, "amidst the various opinions of former writers, some of them contradicting each other, choice was difficult;" so that they appeared, not unjustifiably, to press upon me the task, if not of inventing new precepts, at least of pronouncing judgment concerning the old. 3. Although however it was not so much the confidence of accomplishing what was required of me, as the shame of refusing, that prevailed with me, yet, as the subject opened itself more widely, I voluntarily undertook a heavier duty than was laid upon me, not only that I might oblige my best friends by fuller compliance, but also that, while pursuing a common road, I might not tread merely in other men's footsteps.

4. Other authors, who have committed to writing the art of oratory, have in general commenced in such a manner, as if they were to put the last hand of eloquence to those who were accomplished in every other kind of learning; whether from despising the branches of knowledge which we previously learn, as insignificant, or from supposing that they did not fall under their province, the duties of the professions being distinct; or, what is more probable, from expecting no credit to their ability in treating of subjects, which, however necessary, are yet far removed from display; as the pinnacles of buildings are seen, while the foundations are hid. 5. For myself, as I consider that nothing is unnecessary to the art of oratory, without which it must be confessed that an orator cannot be formed, and that there is no possibility of arriving at the summit of any thing without previous initiatory efforts; I shall not shrink from stooping to those lesser matters, the neglect of which leaves no place for greater; and shall proceed to regulate the studies of the orator from his infancy, just as if he were entrusted to me to be brought up.

6. This work, Marcellus Victorius, I dedicate to you, whom, as being most friendly to me, and animated with an extra-ordinary love of letters, I deemed most worthy of such a pledge of our mutual affection; and not indeed on these considerations alone, though these are of great weight, but because my treatise seemed likely to be of use for the instruction of your son, whose early age shows his way clear to the full splendor of genius; a treatise which I have resolved to conduct, from the very cradle as it were of oratory, through all the studies which can at all assist the future speaker, to the summit of that art. 7. This I the rather designed, because two books on the Art of Rhetoric were already in circulation under my name, though neither published by me nor composed for that object; for, after holding two days' discourse with me, some youths, to whom that time was devoted, had caught up the first by heart; the other, which was learned indeed in a greater number of days (as far as they could learn by taking notes), some of my young pupils, of excellent disposition, but of too great fondness for me, had made known through the indiscreet honor of publication. 8. In these books, accordingly, there will be some things the same, many altered, very many added, but all better arranged, and rendered, as far as I shall be able, complete.

9. We are to form, then, the perfect orator, who cannot exist unless as a good man; and we require in him, therefore, not only consummate ability in speaking, but every excellence of mind. 10. For I cannot admit that the principles of moral and honorable conduct are, as some have thought, to be left to the philosophers; since the man who can duly sustain his character as a citizen, who is qualified for the management of public and private affairs, and who can govern communities by his counsels, settle them by means of laws, and improve them by judicial enactments, can certainly be nothing else but an orator. 11. Although I acknowledge, therefore, that I shall adopt some precepts which are contained in the writings of the philosophers, yet I shall maintain, with justice and truth, that they belong to my subject, and have a peculiar relation to the art of oratory

12. If we have constantly occasion to discourse of justice, fortitude, temperance, and other similar topics, so that a cause can scarce be found in which some such discussion does not occur, and if all such subjects are to be illustrated by invention and elocution, can it be doubted that, wherever power of intellect and copiousness of language are required, the art of the orator is to be there pre-eminently exerted? 13. These two accomplishments, as Cicero very plainly proves, were, as they are joined by nature, so also united in practice, so that the same persons were thought at once wise and eloquent. Subsequently, the study divided itself, and, through want of art, it came to pass that the arts were considered to be diverse; for, as soon as the tongue became an instrument of gain, and it was made a practice to abuse the gifts of eloquence, those who were esteemed as eloquent abandoned the care of morals, which, when thus neglected, became as it were the prize of the less robust intellects.

14. Some, disliking the toil of cultivating eloquence, afterwards returned to the discipline of the mind and the establishment of rules of life, retaining to themselves the better part, if it could be divided into two; but assuming, at the same time, the most presumptuous of titles, so as to be called the only cultivators of wisdom; a distinction which neither the most eminent commanders, nor men who were engaged with the utmost distinction in the direction of the greatest affairs, and in the management of whole commonwealths, ever ventured to claim for themselves; for they preferred rather to practice excellence of conduct than to profess it. 15. That many of the ancient professors of wisdom, indeed, both delivered virtuous precepts, and even lived as they directed others to live, I will readily admit; but, in our own times, the greatest vices have been hid under this name in many of the professors; for they did not strive, by virtue and study, to be esteemed philosophers; but adopted a peculiarity of look, austerity of demeanor, and a dress different from that of other men, as cloaks for the vilest immoralities.

16. But those topics, which are claimed as peculiar to philosophy, we all everywhere discuss; for what person (if he be not an utterly corrupt character) does not sometimes speak of justice, equity, and goodness? who, even among rustics, does not make some inquiries about the causes of the operations of nature? As to the proper use and distinction of words, it ought to be common to all, who make their language at all an object of care. 17. But it will be the orator that will understand and express those matters best, and if he should ever arrive at perfection, the precepts of virtue would not have to be sought from the schools of the philosophers. At present it is necessary to have recourse, at times, to those authors who have, as I said, adopted the deserted, but pre-eminently better, part of philosophy, and to reclaim as it were what is our own; not that we may appropriate their discoveries, but that we may show them that they have usurped what belonged to others.

18. Let the orator, therefore, be such a man as may be called truly wise, not blameless in morals only (for that, in my opinion, though some disagree with me, is not enough), but accomplished also in science, and in every qualification for speaking; a character such as, perhaps, no man ever was. 19. But we are not the less, for that reason, to aim at perfection, for which most of the ancients strove; who, though they thought that no wise man had yet been found, nevertheless laid down directions for gaining wisdom. 20. For the perfection of eloquence is assuredly something, nor does the nature of the human mind forbid us to reach it; but if to reach it be not granted us, yet those who shall strive to gain the summit will make higher advances than those who, prematurely conceiving a despair of attaining the point at which they aim, shall at once sink down at the foot of the ascent.

21. Indulgence will so much the more then be granted me, if I shall not even pass over those lesser matters, which yet are necessary to the work which I have undertaken. The first book will, therefore, contain those particulars which are antecedent to the duties of the teacher of rhetoric. In the second we shall consider the first elements of instruction under the hands of the professor of rhetoric, and the questions which are asked concerning the subject of rhetoric itself. 22. The five next will be devoted to invention (for under this head will also be included arrangement), and the four following to elocution, within the scope of which fall memory and pronunciation. One will be added, in which the orator himself will be completely formed by us, since we shall consider, as far as our weakness shall be able, what his morals ought to be, what should be his practice in undertaking, studying, and pleading causes; what should be his style of eloquence, what termination there should be to his pleading, and what may be his employments after its termination.

23. Among all these discussions shall be introduced, as occasion shall require, the ART OF SPEAKING, which will not only instruct students in the knowledge of those things to which alone some have given the name of art, and interpret (so to express myself) the law of rhetoric, but may serve to nourish the faculty of speech, and strengthen the power of eloquence; 24. for, in general, those bare treatises on art, through too much affectation of subtilty, break and cut down whatever is noble in eloquence, drink up as it were all the blood of thought, and lay bare the bones, which, while they ought to exist, and to be united by their ligaments, ought still to be covered with flesh. 25. We therefore have not, like most authors, included in our books that small part merely, but whatever we thought useful for the education of the orator, explaining every point with brevity; for if we should say, on every particular, as much as might be said, no end would be found to our work.

26. It is to be stated, however, in the first place, that precepts and treatises on art are of no avail without the assistance of nature; and these instructions, therefore, are not written for him to whom talent is wanting, any more than treatises on agriculture for barren ground.

27. There are also certain other natural aids, as power of voice, a constitution capable of labor, health, courage, gracefulness; qualities which, if they fall to our lot in a moderate degree, may be improved by practice, but which are often so far wanting that their deficiency renders abortive the benefits of understanding and study; and these very qualities, likewise, are of no profit in themselves without a skillful teacher, persevering study, and great and continued exercise in writing, reading, and speaking.

Book I

Chapter I.

1. Let a father, then, as soon as his son is born, conceive, first of all, the best possible hopes of him; for he will thus grow the more solicitous about his improvement from the very beginning; since it is a complaint without foundation that "to very few people is granted the faculty of comprehending what is imparted to them, and that most, through dullness of understanding, lose their labor and their time." For, on the contrary, you will find the greater number of men both ready in conceiving and quick in learning; since such quickness is natural to man; and as birds are born to fly, horses to run, and wild beasts to show fierceness, so to us peculiarly belong activity and sagacity of understanding; whence the origin of the mind is thought to be from heaven. 2. But dull and unteachable persons are no more produced in the course of nature than are persons marked by monstrosity and deformities; such are certainly but few. It will be a proof of this assertion, that, among boys, good promise is shown in the far greater number; and, if it passes off in the progress of time, it is manifest that it was not natural ability, but care, that was wanting.

3. But one surpasses another, you will say, in ability. I grant that this is true; but only so far as to accomplish more or less; whereas there is no one who has not gained something by study. Let him who is convinced of this truth, bestow, as soon as he becomes a parent, the most vigilant possible care on cherishing the hopes of a future orator.

4. Before all things, let the talk of the child's nurses not be ungrammatical. Chrysippus wished them, if possible, to be women of some knowledge; at any rate he would have the best, as far as circumstances would allow, chosen. To their morals, doubtless, attention is first to be paid; but let them also speak with propriety. 6. It is they that the child will hear first; it is their words that he will try to form by imitation. We are by nature most tenacious of what we have imbibed in our infant years; as the flavor, with which you scent vessels when new, remains in them; nor can the colors of wool, for which its plain whiteness has been exchanged, be effaced; and those very habits, which are of a more objectionable nature, adhere with the greater tenacity; for good ones are easily changed for the worse, but when will you change bad ones into good? Let the child not be accustomed, therefore, even while he is yet an infant, to phraseology which must be unlearned.

6. In parents I should wish that there should be as much learning as possible. Nor do I speak, indeed, merely of fathers; for we have heard that Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi (whose very learned writing in her letters has come down to posterity), contributed greatly to their eloquence; the daughter of Laelius is said to have exhibited her father's elegance in her conversation; and the oration of the daughter of Quintus Hortensius, delivered before the Triumviri, is read not merely as an honor to her sex. 7. Nor let those parents, who have not had the fortune to get learning themselves, bestow the less care on the instruction of their children, but let them, on this very account, be more solicitous as to other particulars.

Of the boys, among whom he who is destined to this prospect is to be educated, the same may be said as concerning nurses.

8. Of paedagogi this further may be said, that they should [there is no word in our language for the paedagogus, who was a slave of good character, and sometimes of some education, that had the charge of young persons] either be men of acknowledged learning, which I should wish to be the first object, or that they should be conscious of their want of learning; for none are more pernicious than those who, having gone some little beyond the first elements, clothe themselves in a mistaken persuasion of their own knowledge; since they disdain to yield to those who are skilled in teaching, and, growing imperious, and sometimes fierce, in a certain right, as it were, of exercising their authority (with which that sort of men are generally puffed up), they teach only their own folly. 9. Nor is their misconduct less prejudicial to the manners of their pupils; for Leonides, the tutor of Alexander, as is related by Diogenes of Babylon, tinctured him with certain bad habits, which adhered to him, from his childish education, even when he was grown up and become the greatest of kings.

10. If I seem to my reader to require a great deal, let him consider that it is an orator that is to be educated; an arduous task, even when nothing is deficient for the formation of his character; and that more and more difficult labors yet remain; for there is need of constant study, the most excellent teachers, and a variety of mental exercises. 11. The best of rules, therefore, are to be laid down; and if any one shall refuse to observe them, the fault will lie, not in the method, but in the man.

If however it should not be the good fortune of children to have such nurses as I should wish, let them at least have one attentive paedagogus, not unskilled in language, who, if anything Is spoken incorrectly by the nurse in the presence of his pupil, may at once correct it, and not let it settle in his mind. But let it be understood that what I prescribed at first is the right course, and this only a remedy.

12. I prefer that a boy should begin with the Greek language, because he will acquire Latin, which is in general use, even though we tried to prevent him, and because, at the same time, he ought first to be instructed in Greek learning, from which ours is derived. 13. Yet I should not wish this rule to be so superstitiously observed that he should for a long time speak or learn only Greek, as is the custom with most people; for hence arise many faults of pronunciation, which is viciously adapted to foreign sounds, and also of language, in which when Greek idioms have become inherent by constant usage, they keep their place most pertinaciously even when we speak a different tongue. 14. The study of Latin ought therefore to follow at no long interval, and soon after to keep pace with the Greek; and thus it will happen, that, when we have begun to attend to both tongues with equal care, neither will impede the other.

15. Some have thought that boys, as long as they are under seven years of age, should not be set to learn, because that is the earliest age that can understand what is taught, and endure the labor of learning. Of which opinion a great many writers say that Hesiod was, at least such writers as lived before Aristophanes the grammarian, for he was the first to deny that the Hypothecae, in which this opinion is found, was the work of that poet. 16. But other writers likewise, among whom is Erastothenes, have given the same advice. Those, however, advise better, who, like Chrysippus, think that no part of a child's life should be exempt from tuition; for Chrysippus, though he has allowed three years to the nurses, yet is of opinion that the minds of children may be imbued with excellent instruction even by them.

17. And why should not that age be under the influence of learning, which is now confessedly subject to moral influence? I am not indeed ignorant that, during the whole time of which I am speaking, scarcely as much can be done as one year may afterwards accomplish, yet those who are of the opinion which I have mentioned, appear with regard to this part of life to have spared not so much the learners as the teachers. 18. What else, after they are able to speak, will children do better, for they must do something? Or why should we despise the gain, how little soever it be, previous to the age of seven years? For certainly, small as may be the proficiency which an earlier age exhibits, the child will yet learn something greater during the very year in which he would have been learning something less. 19. This advancement extended through each year, is a profit on the whole; and whatever is gained in infancy is an acquisition to youth. The same rule should be prescribed as to the following years, so that what every boy has to learn, he may not be too late in beginning to learn. Let us not then lose even the earliest period of life, and so much the loss, as the elements of learning depend on the memory alone, which not only exists in children, but is at that time of life even most tenacious.

20. Yet I am not so unacquainted with differences of age, as to think that we should urge those of tender years severely, or exact a full complement of work from them; for it will be necessary, above all things, to take care lest the child should conceive a dislike to the application which he cannot yet love, and continue to dread the bitterness which he has once tasted, even beyond the years of infancy. Let his instruction be an amusement to him; let him be questioned, and praised; and let him never feel pleased that he does not know a thing; and sometimes, if he is unwilling to learn, let another be taught before him, of whom he may be envious. Let him strive for victory now and then, and generally suppose that he gains it; and let his powers be called forth by rewards, such as that age prizes.

21. We are giving small instructions, while professing to educate an orator; but even studies have their infancy; and as the rearing of the very strongest bodies commenced with milk and the cradle, so he, who was to be the most eloquent of men, once uttered cries, tried to speak at first with a stuttering voice, and hesitated at the shapes of the letters. Nor, if it is impossible to learn a thing completely, is it therefore unnecessary to learn it at all. 22. If no one blames a father, who thinks that these matters are not to be neglected in regard to his son, why should he be blamed who communicates to the public what he would practice to advantage in his own house? And this is so much the more the case, as younger minds more easily take in small things  and as bodies cannot be formed to certain flexures of the limbs unless while they are tender, so even strength itself makes our minds likewise more unyielding to most things.

22. Would Philip, king of Macedonia, have wished the first principles of learning to be communicated to his son Alexander by Aristotle, the greatest philosopher of that age, or would Aristotle have undertaken that office, if they had not both thought that the first rudiments of instruction are best treated by the most accomplished teacher, and have an influence on the whole course? 24. Let us suppose, then, that Alexander were committed to me, and laid in my lap, an infant worthy of so much solicitude (though every man thinks his own son worthy of similar solicitude), should I be ashamed, even in teaching him his very letters, to point out some compendious methods of instruction?

For that at least, which I see practiced in regard to most children, by no means pleases me, namely, that they learn the names and order of the letters before they learn their shapes. 25. This method hinders their recognition of them, as, while they follow their memory that takes the lead, they do not fix their attention on the forms of the letters. This is the reason why teachers, even when they appear to have fixed them sufficiently in the minds of children, in the straight order in which they are usually first written, make them go over them again the contrary way, and confuse them by variously changing the arrangement, until their pupils know them by their shape, not by their place. It will be best for children, therefore, to be taught the appearances and names of the letters at once, as they are taught those of men. 26. But that which is hurtful with regard to letters, will be no impediment with regard to syllables. I do not disapprove, however, the practice, which is well known, of giving children, for the sake of stimulating them to learn, ivory figures of letters to play with, or whatever else can be invented, in which that infantine age may take delight, and which may be pleasing to handle, look at, or name.

27. But as soon as the child shall have begun to trace the forms of the letters, it will not be improper that they should be cut for him, as exactly as possible, on a board, that his style [the iron pencil used for writing on waxed tablets] may be guided along them as along grooves, for he will then make no mistakes, as on wax (since he will be kept in by the edge on each side, and will be unable to stray beyond the boundary); and, by following these sure traces rapidly and frequently, he will form his hand, and not require the assistance of a person to guide his hand with his own hand placed over it. 28. The accomplishment of writing well and expeditiously, which is commonly disregarded by people of quality, is by no means an indifferent matter; for as writing itself is the principal thing in our studies, and that by which alone sure proficiency, resting on the deepest roots, is secured, a too slow way of writing retards thought, a rude and confused hand cannot be read; and hence follows another task, that of reading off what is to be copied from the writing. 29. At all times, therefore, and in all places, and especially in writing private and familiar letters, it will be a source of pleasure to us, not to have neglected even this acquirement.

30. For learning syllables there is no short way; they must all be learned throughout; nor are the most difficult of them, as is the general practice, to be postponed, that children may be at a loss, forsooth, in writing words. 31. Moreover, we must not even trust to the first learning by heart; it will be better to have syllables repeated, and to impress them long upon the memory; and in reading too, not to hurry on, in order to make it continuous or quick, until the clear and certain connection of the letters become familiar, without at least any necessity to stop for recollection. Let the pupil then begin to form words from syllables, and to join phrases together from words. 32. It is incredible how much retardation is caused to reading by haste; for hence arise hesitation, interruption, and repetition, as children attempt more than they can manage; and then, after making mistakes, they become distrustful even of what they know. 33. Let reading, therefore, be at first sure, then continuous, and for a long time slow, until, by exercise, a correct quickness is gained. 34. For to look to the right, as everybody teaches, and to look forward, depends not merely on rule, but on habit, since, while the child is looking to what follows, he has to prononce what goes before, and, what is very difficult, the direction of his thoughts must be divided, so that one duty may be discharged with his voice, and another with his eyes.

When the child shall have begun, as is the practice, to write words, it will cause no regret if we take care that he may not waste his efforts on common words, and such as perpetually occur. 35. For he may readily learn the explanations of obscure terms, which the Greeks call glosses, while some other occupation is before him, and acquire, amidst his first rudiments, a knowledge of that which would afterwards demand a special time for it. Since, too, we are still attending to small matters, I would express a wish that even the lines, which are set him for his imitation in writing, should not contain useless sentences, but such as convey some moral instruction. 36. The remembrance of such admonitions will attend him to old age, and will be of use even for the formation of his character. It is possible for him, also, to learn the sayings of eminent men, and select passages, chiefly from the poets (for the reading of poets is more pleasing to the young), in his play-time; since memory (as I shall show in its proper place) is most necessary to an orator, and is eminently strengthened and nourished by exercise; and, at the age of which we are now speaking, and which cannot, as yet, produce anything of itself, it is almost the only faculty that can be improved by the aid of teachers. 37. It will not be improper, however, to require of boys of this age (in order that their pronunciation may be fuller and their speech more distinct) to roll forth, as rapidly us possible, certain words and lines of studied difficulty, composed of several syllables, and those roughly clashing together, and, as it were, rugged-sounding; the Greeks call them χαλεποι. This may seem a trifling matter to mention, but when it is neglected, many faults of pronunciation, unless they are removed in the years of youth, are fixed by incorrigible ill habit for the rest of life.


1 . But let us suppose that the child now gradually increases in size, leaves the lap, and applies himself to learning in earnest. In this place, accordingly, must be considered the question, whether it be more advantageous to confine the learner at home, and within the walls of a private house, or to commit him to the large numbers of a school, and, as it were, to public teachers. 2. The latter mode, I observe, has had the sanction of those by whom the polity of the most eminent states was settled, as well as that of the moat illustrious authors.

Yet it is not to be concealed, that there are some who, from certain notions of their own, disapprove of this almost public mode of instruction. These persons appear to be swayed chiefly by two reasons: one, that they take better precautions for the morals of the young, by avoiding a concourse of human beings of that age which is most prone to vice; (from which cause I wish it were falsely asserted that provocations to immoral conduct arise;) the other, that whoever may be the teacher, he is likely to bestow his time more liberally on one pupil, than if he has to divide it among several. 3. The first reason indeed deserves great consideration; for if it were certain that schools, though advantageous to studies, are pernicious to morals, a virtuous course of life would seem to me preferable to one even of the most distinguished eloquence. But in my opinion, the two are combined and inseparable; for I am convinced that no one can be an orator who is not a good man; and, even if any one could, I should be unwilling that he should be. On this point, therefore, I shall speak first.

4. People think that morals are corrupted in schools; for indeed they are at times corrupted; but such may be the case even at home. Many proofs of this fact may be adduced; proofs of character having been vitiated, as well as preserved with the utmost purity, under both modes of education. It is the disposition of the individual pupil, and the care taken of him, that make the whole difference. Suppose that his mind be prone to vice, suppose that there be neglect in forming and guarding his morals in early youth, seclusion would afford no less opportunity for immorality than publicity; for the private tutor may be himself of bad character; nor is intercourse with vicious slaves at all safer than that with immodest free-born youths. 5. But if his disposition be good, and if there be not a blind and indolent negligence on the part of his parents, it will be possible for them to select a tutor of irreproachable character, (a matter to which the utmost attention is paid by sensible parents,) and to fix on a course of instruction of the very strictest kind; while they may at the same time place at the elbow of their son some influential friend or faithful freedman, whose constant attendance may improve even those of whom apprehensions may be entertained.

6. The remedy for this object of fear is easy. Would that we ourselves did not corrupt the morals of our children! We enervate their very infancy with luxuries. That delicacy of education, which we call fondness, weakens all the powers, both of body and mind. What luxury will he not covet in his manhood, who crawls about on purple! He cannot yet articulate his first words, when he already distinguishes scarlet, and wants his purple. 7. We form the palate of children before we form their pronunciation. They grow up in sedan chairs; if they touch the ground, they hang by the hands of attendants supporting them on each side. We are delighted if they utter any thing immodest. Expressions which would not be tolerated even from the effeminate youths of Alexandria, we hear from them with a smile and a kiss. Nor is this wonderful; we have taught them; they have heard such language from ourselves. 8. They see our mistresses, our male objects of affection; every dining-room rings with impure songs; things shameful to be told are objects of sight. From such practices springs habit, and afterwards nature. The unfortunate children learn these vices before they know that they are vices; and hence, rendered effeminate and luxurious, they do not imbibe immorality from schools, but carry it themselves into schools.

9. But, it is said, one tutor will have more time for one pupil. First of all, however, nothing prevents that one pupil, whoever he may be, from being the same with him who is taught in the school. But if the two objects cannot be united, I should still prefer the day-light of an honorable seminary to darkness and solitude; for every eminent teacher delights in a large concourse of pupils, and thinks himself worthy of a still more numerous auditory. 10. But inferior teachers, from a consciousness of their inability, do not disdain to fasten on single pupils, and to discharge the duty as it were of paedagogi.

11. But supposing that either interest, or friendship, or money, should secure to any parent a domestic tutor of the highest learning, and in every respect unrivalled, will he however spend the whole day on one pupil? Or can the application of any pupil be so constant as not to be sometimes wearied, like the sight of the eyes, by continued direction to one object, especially as study requires the far greater portion of time to be solitary. 12. For the tutor does not stand by the pupil while he is writing, or learning by heart, or thinking; and when he is engaged in any of those exercises, the company of any person whatsoever is a hindrance to him. Nor does every kind of reading require at all times a praeloctor or interpreter; for when, if such were the case, would the knowledge of so many authors be gained? The time, therefore, during which the work as it were for the whole day may be laid out, is but short.

13. Thus the instructions which are to be given to each, may reach to many. Most of them, indeed, are of such a nature that they may be communicated to all at once with the same exertion of the voice. I say nothing of the topics and declamations of the rhetoricians, at which, certainly, whatever be the number of the audience, each will still carry off the whole. 14. For the voice of the teacher is not like a meal, which will not suffice for more than a certain number, but like the sun, which diffuses the same portion of light and heat to all. If a grammarian, too, discourses on the art of speaking, solves questions, explains matters of history, or illustrates poems, as many as shall hear him will profit by his instructions. 15. But, it may be said, number is an obstacle to correction and explanation. Suppose that this be a disadvantage in a number, (for what in general satisfies us in every respect?) we will soon compare that disadvantage with other advantages.

Yet I would not wish a boy to be sent to a place where he will be neglected. Nor should a good master encumber himself with a greater number of scholars than he can manage; and it is to be a chief object with us, also, that the master may be in every way our kind friend, and may have regard in his teaching, not so much to duty, as to affection. Thus we shall never be confounded with the multitude. 10. Nor will any master, who is in the slightest degree tinctured with literature, fail particularly to cherish that pupil in whom he shall observe application and genius, even for his own honor. But even if great schools ought to be avoided (a position to which I cannot assent, if numbers flock to a master on account of his merit), the rule is not to be carried so far that schools should be avoided altogether. It is one thing to shun schools, another to choose from them.

17. If I have now refuted the objections which are made to schools, let me next state what opinions I myself entertain. 18. First of all, let him who is to be an orator, and who must live amidst the greatest publicity, and in the full day-light of public affairs, accustom himself, from his boyhood, not to be abashed at the sight of men, nor pine in a solitary and as it were recluse way of life. The mind requires to be constantly excited and roused, while in such retirement it either languishes, and contracts rust, as it were, in the shade, or, on the other hand, becomes swollen with empty conceit, since he who compares himself to no one else, will necessarily attribute too much to his own powers. 19. Besides, when his acquirements are to he displayed in public, he is blinded at the light of the sun, and stumbles at every new object, as having learned in solitude that which is to be done in public. 20. I say nothing of friendships formed at school, which remain in full force even to old age, as if cemented with a certain religious obligation; for to have been initiated in the same studies is a not less sacred bond than to have been initiated in the same sacred rites. That sense, too, which is called common sense, where shall a young man learn when he has separated himself from society, which is natural not to men only, but even to dumb animals?

21. Add to this, that, at home, he can learn only what is taught himself; at school, even what is taught others. 22. He will daily hear many things commended, many things corrected; the idleness of a fellow student, when reproved, will be a warning to him; the industry of any one, when commended, will be a stimulus; emulation will be excited by praise; and he will think it a disgrace to yield to his equals in age, and an honor to surpass his seniors. All these matters excite the mind; and though ambition itself be a vice, yet it is often the parent of virtues.

23. I remember a practice that was observed by my masters, not without advantage. Having divided the boys into classcs, they assigned thorn their order in speaking in conformity in the abilities of each; and thus each stood in the higher place to declaim according as he appeared to excel in proficiency. 24. Judgments were pronounced on the performances; and great was the strife among us for distinction; but to take the lead of the class was by far the greatest honor. Nor was sentence given on our merits only once; the thirtieth day brought the vanquished an opportunity of contending again. Thus he who was most successful, did not relax his efforts, while uneasiness incited the unsuccessful to retrieve his honor. 26. I should be inclined to maintain, as far as I can form a judgment from what I conceive in my own mind, that this method furnished stronger incitements to the study of eloquence, than the exhortations of preceptors, the watchfulness of paedagogi, or the wishes of parents.

26. But as emulation is of use to those who have made some advancement in learning, so, to those who are but beginning, and are still of tender age, to imitate their school-fellows is more pleasant than to imitate their master, for the very reason that it is more easy; for they who are learning the first rudiments will scarcely dare to exalt themselves to the hope of attaining that eloquence which they regard as the highest; they will rather fix on what is nearest to them, as vines attached to trees gain the top by taking hold of the lower branches first. 27. This is an observation of such truth, that it is the care even of the master himself, when he has to instruct minds that are still unformed, not (if he prefer at least the useful to the showy) to overburden the weakness of his scholars, but to moderate his strength, and to let himself down to the capacity of the learner. 28. For as narrow-necked vessels reject a great quantity of the liquid that is poured upon them, but are filled by that which flows or is poured into them by degrees, so it is for us to ascertain how much the minds of boys can receive, since what is too much for their grasp of intellect will not enter their minds, as not being sufficiently expanded to admit it. 29. It is of advantage therefore for a boy to have school-fellows whom he may first imitate, and afterwards try to surpass. Thus will he gradually conceive hope of higher excellence.

To these observations I shall add, that masters themselves, when they have but one pupil at a time with them, cannot feel the same degree of energy and spirit in addressing him, as when they are excited by a large number of hearers. 30. Eloquence depends in a great degree on the state of the mind, which must conceive images of objects, and transform itself, so to speak, to the nature of the things of which we discourse. Besides, the more noble and lofty a mind is, by the more powerful springs, as it were, is it moved, and accordingly is both strengthened by praise, and enlarged by effort, and is filled with joy at achieving something great. 31. But a certain secret disdain is felt at lowering the power of eloquence, acquired by so much labor, to one auditor; and the teacher is ashamed to raise his style above the level of ordinary conversation. Let any one imagine, indeed, the air of a man haranguing, or the voice of one entreating, the gesture, the pronunciation, the agitation of mind and body, the exertion, and, to mention nothing else, the fatigue, while he has but one auditor; would not he seem to be affected with something like madness? There would be no eloquence in the world, if we were to speak only with one person at a time.


1. Let him that is skilled in teaching, ascertain first of all, when a boy is entrusted to him, his ability and disposition. The chief symptom of ability in children is memory, of which the excellence is twofold, to receive with ease and retain with fidelity. The next symptom is imitation; for that is an indication of a teachable disposition, but with this provision, that it express merely what it is taught, and not a person's manner or walk, for instance, or whatever may be remarkable for deformity. 2. The boy who shall make it his aim to raise a laugh by his love of mimicry, will afford me no hope of good capacity; for he who is possessed of great talent will be well disposed; else I should think it not at all worse to be of a dull, than of a bad, disposition; but he who is honorably inclined will be very different from the stupid or idle.

3. Such a pupil as I would have, will easily learn what is taught him, and will ask questions about some things, but will still rather follow than run on before. That precocious sort of talent scarcely ever comes to good fruit. 4. Such are those who do little things easily, and, impelled by impudence, show at once all that they can accomplish in such matters. But they succeed only in what is ready to their hand; they string words together, uttering them with an intrepid countenance, not in the least discouraged by bashfulness; and do little, but do it readily. 5. There is no real power behind, or any that rests on deeply fixed roots; but they are like seeds which have been scattered on the surface of the ground and shoot up prematurely, and like grass that resembles corn, and grows yellow, with empty ears, before the time of harvest. Their efforts give pleasure, as compared with their years; but their progress comes to a stand, and our wonder diminishes.

6.. When a tutor has observed these indications, let him next consider how the mind of his pupil is to be managed. Some boys are indolent, unless you stimulate them; some are indignant at being commanded; fear restrains some, and unnerves others; continued labor forms some; with others, hasty efforts succeed better. 7. Let the boy be given to me, whom praise stimulates, whom honor delights, who weeps when he is unsuccessful. His powers must be cultivated under the influence of ambition; reproach will sting him to the quick; honor will incite him; and in such a boy I shall never be apprehensive of indifference.

8. Yet some relaxation is to be allowed to all; not only because there is nothing that can bear perpetual labor, (and even those things that are without sense and life are unbent by alternate rest, as it were, in order that they may preserve their vigor,) but because application to learning depends on the will, which cannot be forced. 9. Boys, accordingly, when re-invigorated and refreshed, bring more sprightliness to their learning, and a more determined spirit, which for the most part spurns compulsion. 10. Nor will play in boys displease me; it is also a sign of vivacity; and I cannot expect that he who is always dull and spiritless will be of an eager disposition in his studies, when he is indifferent even to that excitement which is natural to his age.

11. There must however be bounds set to relaxation, lest the refusal of it beget an aversion to study, or too much indulgence in it a habit of idleness. There are some kinds of amusement, too, not unserviceable for sharpening the wits of boys, as when they contend with each other by proposing all sorts of questions in turn. 12. In their plays, also, their moral dispositions show themselves more plainly, supposing that there is no age so tender that it may not readily learn what is right and wrong; and the tender age may best be formed at a time when it is ignorant of dissimulation, and most willingly submits to instructors; for you may break, sooner than mend, that which has hardened into deformity. 13. A child is as early as possible, therefore, to be admonished that he must do nothing too eagerly, nothing dishonestly, nothing without self-control  and we must always keep in mind the maxim of Virgil, Adeo in teneris consuescere multum est, "of so much importance is the acquirement of habit in the young."

14. But that boys should suffer corporal punishment, though it be a received custom, and Chrysippus makes no objection to it, I by no means approve; first, because it is a disgrace, and a punishment for slaves, and in reality (as will be evident if you imagine the age changed) an affront; secondly, because, if a boy's disposition be so abject as not to be amended by reproof, he will be hardened, like the worst of slaves, even to stripes; and lastly, because, if one who regularly exacts his tasks be with him, there will not be the least need of any such chastisement. 15. At present, the negligence of paedagogi seems to be made amends for in such a way that boys are not obliged to do what is right, but are punished whenever they have not done it. Besides, after you have coerced a boy with stripes, how will you treat him when he becomes a young man, to whom such terror cannot be held out, and by whom more difficult studies must be pursued?

16. Add to these considerations, that many things unpleasant to be mentioned, and likely afterwards to cause shame, often happen to boys while being whipped, under the influence of pain or fear; and such shame enervates and depresses the mind, and makes them shun people's sight and feel a constant uneasiness. 17. If, moreover, there has been too little care in choosing governors and tutors of reputable character. I am ashamed to say how scandalously unworthy men may abuse their privilege of punishing, and what opportunity also the terror of the unhappy children may sometimes afford to others. I will not dwell upon this point; what is already understood is more than enough. It will be sufficient therefore to intimate, that no man should be allowed too much authority over an age so weak and so unable to resist ill treatment.

18. I will now proceed to show in what studies he who is to be so trained that he may become an orator, must be instructed, and which of them must be commenced at each particular period of youth.


1. In regard to the boy who has attained facility in reading and writing, the next object is instruction from the grammarians. Nor is it of importance whether I speak of the Greek or Latin grammarian, though I am inclined to think that the Greek should take the precedence. 2. Both have the same method. This profession, then, distinguished as it is, most compendiously, into two parts, the art of speaking correctly, and the illustration of the poets, carries more beneath the surface than it shows on its front. 3. For not only is the art of writing combined with that of speaking, but correct reading also precedes illustration, and with all these is joined the exercise of judgment, which the old grammarians, indeed, used with such severity, that they not only allowed themselves to distinguish certain verses with a particular mark of censure, and to remove, as spurious, certain books which had been inscribed with false titles, from their sets, but even brought some authors within their canon, and excluded others altogether from classification.

4. Nor is it sufficient to have read the poets only; every class of writers must be studied, not simply for matter, but for words, which often receive their authority from writers. Nor can grammar be complete without a knowledge of music, since the grammarian has to speak of metre and rhythm; nor if he is ignorant of astronomy, can he understand the poets, who, to say nothing of other matters, so often allude to the rising and setting of the stars in marking the seasons; nor must he be unacquainted with philosophy, both on account of numbers of passages, in almost all poems, drawn from the most abstruse subtleties of physical investigation, and also on account of Empedocles among the Greeks, and Varro and Lucretius among the Latins, who have committed the precepts of philosophy to verse. 5. The grammarian has also need of no small portion of eloquence, that he may speak aptly and fluently on each of those subjects which are here mentioned. Those therefore are by no means to be regarded who deride this science as trilling and empty, for unless it lays a sure foundation for the future orator, whatever superstructure you raise will fall; it is a science which is necessary to the young, pleasing to the old, and an agreeable companion in retirement, and which alone, of all departments of learning, has in it more service than show.

6. Let no man, therefore, look down on the elements of grammar as small matters; not because it requires great labor to distinguish consonants from vowels, and to divide them into the proper number of semivowels and mutes, but because, to those entering the recesses, as it were, of this temple, there will appear much subtlety on points, which may not only sharpen the wits of boys, but may exercise even the deepest erudition and knowledge. 7. Is it in the power of every ear to distinguish accurately the sounds of letters? No more, assuredly, than to distinguish the sounds of musical strings. But all grammarians will at least descend to the discussion of such curious points as these: whether any necessary letters be wanting to us, not indeed when we write Greek, for then we borrow two letters [Y and Z] from the Greeks, but, properly, in Latin: 8. as in these words, seruus et uulgus, the Aeolic digamma is required; [when the Romans pronounced the consonant v, they did not distinguish it from the vowel, but designated both by the character u. In writing such words as servua and vulgus, therefore, the want of a distinct character for each was greatly felt, the same letter being used twice, as seruus, vulgus, with two different sounds. See Cassiodorus de Orthographia. Putsch, p. 2282. The sound of the digamma was, however, that of the English w, when it commenced a syllable. Claudius Caesar attempted to bring the digamma into use, but old custom was too strong for him, as Priscian says, Putsch, p. 546. See Tacit. Ann. xi. 14; Dionys. Hal. Antiq. Rom. p. 16, ed Sylb.] and there is a certain sound of a letter between u and i, for we do not pronounce optimum like opimum; in here, too, neither e nor i is distinctly heard: whether, again, other letters are redundant (besides the mark of aspiration, which, if it be necessary, requires also a contrary mark) [the old Latins, like the Greeks, put the mark of aspiration over the vowels, as we ourselves see in old manuscripts, in which we read 'avium and 'odie, and as appears from this passage of Quintilian, for, says he, if a sign of aspiration be necessary, a sign of the absence of aspiration is also necessary.], as k, which is itself the mark of certain names, and q (similar to which in sound and shape, except that q is slightly warped by our writers, koppa now remains among the Greeks, though only in the list of numbers), as well as x, the last of our letters, which indeed we might have done without, if we had not sought it. 10. With regard to vowels, too, it is the business of the grammarian to see whether custom has taken any for consonants, since iam is written as tam, and uos as cos. But vowels which are joined, as vowels, make either one long vowel, as the ancients wrote, who used the doubling of them instead of the circumflex accent, or two; though perhaps some one may suppose that a syllable may be formed even of three vowels; but this cannot be the case, unless some of them do the duty of consonants. 11. The grammarian will also inquire how two vowels only have the power of uniting with each other, when none of the consonants can break any letter but another consonant. But the letter i unites with itself; for coniicit is from iacit, and so does u, as uulgus and seruus are now written. Let the grammarian also know that Cicero was inclined to write aiio and Maiia with a double i, and, if this be done, the one i will be joined to the other as a consonant. 12. Let the boy, therefore, learn what is peculiar in letters, what is common, and what relationship each has to each, and let him not wonder why scabellum is formed from scamnum, or why bipennis, an axe with an edge each way, is formed from pinna, which means something sharp; that he may not follow the error of those, who, because they think that this word is from two wings, would have the wings of birds called pinnae.

13. Nor let him know those changes only which declension and prepositions introduce, as secat secuit, cadit excidit, credit excidit, calcat exculcat; (so lotus from lavare, whence also illotus; and there are a thousand other similar derivations;) but also what alterations have taken place, even in nominative cases, through lapse of time; for, as Valesii and Fusii have passed into Valerii and Furii, so arbos, labos, vapos, as well as clamos and lases have had their day. 14. This very letter s, too, which has been excluded from these words, has itself, in some other words, succeeded to the place of another letter; for instead of mersare and pulsare, they once said mertare and pultare. They also said fordeum and foedus, using, instead of the aspiration, a letter similar to vau; for the Greeks, on the other hand, are accustomed to aspirate, whence Cicero, in his oration for Fundanius, laughs at a witness who could not sound the first letter of that name. [The Greeks used the aspirated f, or φ and the Greek witness could not get rid of the aspirate in attempting to pronounce Fundanius.] 15. But we have also, at times, admitted b into the place of other letters, whence Burrus and Bruges, and Belena. The same letter moreover has made bellum out of duellum, whence some have ventured to call the Duellii, Bellii.

16. Why need I speak of silocus and silites? Why need I mention that there is a certain relationship of the letter t to d? Hence it is far from surprising if, on the old buildings of our city, and well-known temples, is read Alexanter and Cassantra. Why should I specify that o and u are interchanged? so that Hecoba and notrix, Culchides and Pulyxena, were used, and, that this may not be noticed in Greek words only, dederont and probaveront. So 'Οδυσσευς, whom the Aeolians made Ουδυσσευς, was turned into Ulysses. 17. Was not e, too, put in the place of i, as Menerva, leber, magester, and Dilove and Veiove for Dilovi and Velovi? But it is enougli for me to point to the subject; for I do not teach, but admonish those who are to teach. The attention of the learner will then he transferred to syllables, on which I shall make a few remarks under the head of orthography.

He, whom this matter shall concern, will then understand how many parts of speech there are, and what they are; though as to their number writers are by no means agreed. 18. For the more ancient, among whom were Aristotle and Theodectes, said that there were only verbs, nouns, and convinctions, because, that is to say, they judged that the force of language was in verbs, and the matter of it in nouns (since the one is what we speak, and the other that of which we speak), and that the union of words lay in convinctions, which, I know, are by most writers called conjunctions, but the other term seems to be a more exact translation of συνδεσμος. 19. By the philosophers, and chiefly the Stoics, the number was gradually increased; to the convinctions were first added articles, then prepositions; to nouns was added the appellation, next the pronoun, and afterwards the participle, partaking of the nature of the verb; to verbs themselves were joined adverbs. Our language does not require articles, and they are therefore divided among other parts of speech. To the parts of speech already mentioned was added the interjection.

20. Other writers, however, certainly of competent judgment, have made eight parts of speech, as Aristarchus, and Palaemon in our own day, who have included the vocable, or appellation, under the name or noun, as if a species of it. But those who make the noun one, and the vocable another, reckon nine. But there were some, nevertheless, who even distinguished the vocable from the appellation, so that the vocable should signify any substance manifest to the sight and touch, as a house, a bed; the appellation, that to which one or both of these properties should be wanting, as the wind, heaven, God, virtue. They added also the asseveration, as heu, "alas!" and the attrectation, as fascentim, "in bundles;" distinctions which are not approved by me. 21. Whether προσηγορια should be translated by vocable or appellation, and whether it should be comprehended under the noun or not, are questions on which, as being of little importance, I leave it free to others to form an opinion.

22. Let boys in the first place learn to decline nouns and conjugate verbs; for otherwise they will never arrive at the understanding of what is to follow; an admonition which it would be superfluous to give, were it not that most teachers, through ostentatious haste, begin where they ought to end, and, while they wish to show off their pupils in matters of greater display, retard their progress by attempting to shorten the road. 23. But if a teacher has sufficient learning, and (what is often found not less wanting) be willing to teach what he has learned, he will not be content with stating that there are three genders in nouns, and specifying what nouns have two or all the three genders. 24. Nor shall I hastily deem that tutor diligent, who shall have shown that there are irregular nouns, called epicene, in which both genders are implied undee one, or nouns which, under a feminine termination, signify males, or, with a neuter termination, denote females; as Muraena and Glycerium. 25. A penetrating and acute teacher will search into a thousand origins of names; derivations which have produced the names Rufus, "red," and Longus, "long," from personal peculiarities; (among which will be some of rather obscure etymology, as Sulla, Burrhus, Galba, Plancus, Pansa, Scaurus, and others of the same kind;) some also from accidents of birth, as Agrippa, Opiter, Cordus, Posthumus; some from occurrences after birth, as Vopiscus; while others as Cotta, Scipio, Laenas, Seranus, spring from various causes 26. We may also find people, places, and many other things among the origins of names. That sort of names among slaves which was taken from their masters, whence Marcipores and Publipores [Marcipor for Marci puer; Publipor for Publii puer], has fallen into disuse. Let the tutor consider, also, whether there is not among the Greeks ground for a sixth case, and among us oven for a seventh; for when I say hasta percussi, "I have struck with a spear," I do not express the sense of an ablative case, nor, if I say the same thing in Greek, that of a dative.

27. As to verbs, who is so ignorant as not to know their kinds, qualities, persons, and numbers  Those things belong to the reading school, and to the lower departments of instruction. But such points as are not determined by inflexion, will puzzle some people; for it may be doubted, as to certain words, whether they are participles, or nouns formed from the verb, as lectus, sapiens. 28. Some verbs look like nouns, as frandalor, nutritor. Is not the verb in Itur in antiquam silvam of a peculiar nature, for what beginning of it can you find? Fletur is similar to it. We understand the passive sometimes in one way, as,

Panditur interea domus omnipotentis Olympi;

sometimes in another, as,

Usque adeo turbatur agris.

There is also a third way, as urbs habitatur, whence likewise campus curritur, mare navigatur. 29. Pransus also and potus have a different signification from that which their form indicates. I need hardly add, that many verbs do not go through the whole course of conjugation. Some, too, undergo a change, as fero in the preterperfect; some are expressed only in the form of the third person, as licet, piget; and some bear a resemblance to nouns passing into adverbs; for, as we say noctu and diu, so we say dictu and factu; since these words are indeed participial, though not like dicto and facto.


1. Since all language has three kinds of excellence, to he correct, perspicuous, and elegant, (for to speak with propriety, which is its highest quality, most writers include under elegance,) and the same number of faults, which are the opposites of the excellences just mentioned, let the grammarian consider well the rules for correctness which constitute the first part of grammar. 2. These rules are required to be observed, verbis aut singulis aut pluribus, in regard to one or more words. The word verbum I wish to be here understood in a general sense, for it has two significations: the one, which includes all words of which language is composed, as in the verse of Horace,

Verbaque provisam rem non invita sequentur,

"And words, not unwilling, will follow provided matter;" the other, under which is comprehended only one part of speech, as lego, scribo; to avoid which ambiguity some have preferred the terms voces, dictiones, locutiones. 3. Words, considered singly, are either our own, or foreign, simple or compound, proper or metaphorical, in common use or newly invented.

A word taken singly is oftener objectionable than faultless; for however we may express anything with propriety, elegance, and sublimity, none of these qualities arise from anything but the connection and order of the discourse; since we commend single words merely as being well suited to the matter. The only good quality, which can be remarked in them, is their vocalitas, so to speak, called ευφωνια, "euphony;" which depends upon selection, when of two words, which have the same signification, and are of equal force, we make choice of the one that has the better sound.

5. First of all, let the offensiveness of barbarisms and solecisms be put away. But as these faults are sometimes excused, either from custom, or authority, or, perhaps, from their nearness to beauties, (for it is often difficult to distinguish faults from figures of speech,) let the grammarian, that so uncertain a subject of observation may deceive no one, give his earnest attention to that nice discrimination, of which we shall speak more fully in the part where we shall have to treat of figures of speech. 6. Meanwhile, let an offense committed in regard to a single word, be called a barbarism.

But some one may stop me with the remark, what is there here worthy of the promise of so great a work? Or who does not know that barbarisms are committed, some in writing, others in speaking? (because what is written incorrectly must also be spoken incorrectly; though he who speaks incorrectly may not necessarily make mistakes in writing;) the first sort being caused by addition, curtailment, substitution, or transposition; the second by separation or confusion of syllables, aspiration, or other faults of sound? But though these may be small matters, boys are still to be taught, and we put grammarians in mind of their duty. If any one of them, however, shall not be sufficiently accomplished, but shall have just entered the vestibule of the art, he will have to confine himself within those rules which are published in the little manuals of professors; the more learned will add many other instructions, the very first of which will be this, that we understand barbarisms as being of several kinds.

8. One, with reference to country, such as is committed when a person inserts an African or Spanish term in Latin composition; as when the iron ring, with which wheels are bound, is culled canthus, though Persius uses this as a received word; as when Catullus got the word ploxenum, "a box," on the banks of the Po; and in the speech of Labienus, (if it be not rather the speech of Cornelius Gallus,) the word casnar, "a parasite," is brought from Gaul against Pollio; as to mastruca " a shaggy garment," which is n Sardinian word, Cicero has used it purposely in jest. 9. Another kind of barbarism is that which we regard as proceeding from the natural disposition, when he, by whom anything has been uttered insolently, or threateningly, or cruelly, is said to have spoken like a barbarian. 10. The third kind of barbarism is that of which examples are everywhere abundant, and which every one can form for himself, by adding n letter or syllable to any word he pleases, or taking one away, or substituting one for another, or putting one in a place where it is not right for it to be.

11. But some grammarians, to make a show of learning, are accustomed, for the most part, to take examples of these from the poets, and find fault with the authors whom they interpret. A boy ought to know, however, that such forms of speech, in writers of poetry, are considered as deserving of excuse, or even of praise; and learners must be taught less common instances. 12. Thus Tinca of Placentia (if we believe Hortensius, who finds fault with him) was guilty of two barbarisms in one word, saying precula instead of pergula; first, by the change of a letter, putting c for g, and secondly, by transposition, placing r before the preceding e. But Ennius, when committing a like double fault, by saying Metieo Fufetieo, is defended on the ground oi poetic licence. 13. In prose, too, there are certain received changes; for Cicero speaks of an army of Canopitae, though the people of the city call it Canobus; and many writers have authorized Tharsomenus for Thrasymenus, [the name of the well-known lake at which Hannibal defeated the Romans]  although there is a transposition in it. Other words suffer similar treatment; for if assentior, "I assent," be thought the proper way of spelling that word, Sisenna has said assentio, and many have followed him and analogy; or, if assentio be deied the right method, the other form, assentior, is supported by common practice.

14. Yet the prim and dull teacher will suppose that there is either curtailment in the one case, or addition in the other. I need hardly add that some forms, which, taken singly, are doubtless faulty, are used in composition without blame. 15. For dua, tre, and pondo, are barbarisms of discordant gender; yet the compounds duapondo, "two pounds," and trepondo, "three pounds," have been used by everybody down to our own times; and Messala maintains that they are used with propriety. 16. It may perhaps seem absurd to say that a barbarism, which is incorrectness in a single word, may be committed in number and gender, like a solecism; yet scala, "stairs," and scopa, "a broom," in the singular, and hordea, "barley," and mulsa, "mead," in the plural, as they are attended with no change, withdrawal, or addition of letters, are objectionable only because plurals are expressed in the singular, and singulars in the plural; and those who have used gladia, "swords," have committed a fault in gender. 17. But this point, too, I am satisfied with merely noticing, that I myself may not appear to have added another question to a branch of study already perplexed through the fault of certain obstinate grammarians.

Faults which are committed in speaking require more sagacity in criticizing them, because examples of them cannot be given from writing, except when they have occurred in verses, as the division of the diphthong in Europai, and the irregularity of the opposite kind, which the Greeks call synaeresis and synalaepha, and we conflexio," combination," as in the verse in Publius Varro,

Quam te flagranti dejectum fulmine Phaeton;

for, if it were prose, it would be possible to enunciate those letters by their proper syllables. Those peculiarities, also, which occur in quantity, whether when a short syllable is made long, as in Italiam fato profugus, or when a long one is made short, as in Unius ob noxam et furias, you would not remark except in verse; and even in verse they are not to be regarded as faults. 19. Those which are committed in sound, are judged only by the ear; though as to the aspirate, whether it be added or retrenched, in variation from common practice, it may be a question with us whether it be a fault in writing; if h indeed be a letter, and not merely a mark, as to which point opinion has often changed with time. 20. The ancients used it very sparingly even before vowels, as they said aedos and ircos; and it was long afterwards withheld from conjunction with consonants, as in Graccus and triumpus. But suddenly an excessive use of it became prevalent, so that choronae, chenituriones, praechones, are still to be seen in certain inscriptions; on which practice there is a well-known epigram of Catullus. [Epigr. Ixxviii. de Ario sive Hirrio.] Hence there remain, even to our times, vehementer, conprehendere, and mihi. Among the ancient writers, also, especially those of tragedy, we find in old copies mehe for me

22. Still more difficult is the marking of faults in respect to the tenores, "tones," (which I find called by the old writers tonores, as if, forsooth, the word were derived from the Greeks, who call them τονος,) or accents, which the Greeks call προσωδιαι when the acute is put for the grave, or the grave for the acute; as if, in the word Camillus, the first syllable should receive the acute accent; 23. or if the grave is put for the circumflex, as when the first syllable of Cethegus has the acute, for thus the quantity of the middle syllable is altered; or if the circumflex is put for the grave, as when the second syllable is circumflexed in * * *, by contracting which from two syllables into one, and then circumflexing it, people commit two errors. 24. But this happens far more frequently in Greek words, as Atreus, which, when I was young, the most learned old men used to pronounce with an acute on the first syllable, so that the second was necessarily grave, as was also that of Tereus and Nereus. Such have been the rules respecting accents.

25. But I am quite aware that certain learned men, and some grammarians also, teach and speak in such a manner as to terminate a word at times with an acute sound, for the sake of preserving certain distinctions in words, as in circum in these lines,

    Quae circum litora, circum
Piscosos scopulos,

lest, if they make the second syllable in circum grave, a circus might seem to be meant, not a circuit. 20. Quantum and quale, also, when asking a question, they conclude with a grave accent; when making a comparison, with an acute; a practice, however, which they observe almost only in adverbs and pronouns; in other words they follow the old custom.

27. To me it appears to make a difference, that in these phrases we join the words; for when I say circum litora, I enunciate the words as one, without making any distinction between them; and thus one syllable only, as in a single word, is acute. The same is the case in this homistich,

Trojae qui primus ab oris.

28. It sometimes happens, too, that the law of the metre alters the accent: as,

Pecudes, pictaeque volucres;

For I shall pronounce volucres with an acute on the middle syllable, because, though it be short by nature, it is long by position, that it may not form an iambus, which a heroic verse does not admit. 29. But these words, taken separately, will not vary from the rule; or, if custom shall triumph, the old law of the language will be abolished; the observation of which law is more difficult among the Greeks, (because they have several modes of speaking, which they call dialects, and because what is wrong in one is sometimes right in another;) but among us the principle of accentuation is very simple.

30. For in every word the acuted syllable is confined within the number of three syllables, whether those three be the only syllables in the word, or the three last; and of these, the acuted syllable is either the next, or next but one, to the last. Of the three syllables of which I am speaking, moreover, the middle one will be long, or acute, or circumflex; a short syllable in that position will, of course, have a grave sound, and will accordingly acute the one that stands before it, that is, the third from the end. 31. But in every word there is an acute syllable, though never more than one; nor is that one ever the last, and consequently in dissyllables it is the first. Besides there is never in the same word one syllable circumflexed and another acuted, for the same syllable that is circumflexed is also acuted; neither of the two, therefore, will terminate a Latin word. Those words, however, which consist but of one syllable, will be either acuted or circumflexed, that there may be no word without an acute.

32. In sounds also occur those faults of utterance and pronunciation, of which specimens cannot be given in writing; the Greeks, who are more happy in inventing names, call them solacisms, lambdacisms, ισχνοτητες, and πλατειασμοι: as also χοιλοστομια, when the voice is heard, as it were, in the depths of the throat. 33. There are also certain peculiar and inexpressible sounds, for which we sometimes find fault with whole nations. All the incorrectnesses, then, which we have mentioned above, being removed, there will result that which is called ορθοεπεια, that is, a correct and clear utterance of words with an agreeableness of sound; for so may a right pronunciation be termed.

34. All other faults arise out of more words than one; among which faults is the solecism; though about this also there has been controversy. For even those who admit that it lies in the composition of words, yet contend that, because it may be corrected by the amendment of a single word, it is the incorrectness of a word, and not a fault in composition; 35. since, whether amarae corticis or medio cortice constitutes a fault in gender, (to neither of which do I object, Virgil [Ecl. vi. 62, 63; Georg. ii. 74] being the author of both; but let us suppose that one of the two is incorrect.) the alteration of one word, in which the fault lay, produces correctness of phraseology; so that we have amari corticis or media cortice. This is a manifest misrepresentation; for neither of the words is wrong, taken separately, but the fault lies in them when put together; and it is a fault therefore of phrase.

36. It is, however, a question of greater sagacity, whether a solecism can be committed in a single word; as if a man, calling one person to him, should say venite, or, sending several away from him, should say abi, or discede; or, moreover, when an answer does not agree with the question, as if to a person saying quem vides? you should reply ego. Some also think that the same fault is committed in gesture, when one thing is signified by the voice, and another by a nod or by the hand. 37. With this opinion I do not altogether agree, nor do I altogether dissent from it; for I allow that a solecism may occur in one word, but not unless there be something having the force of another word, to which the incorrect word may be referred; so that a solecism arises from the union of things by which something is signified or some intention manifested; and, that I may avoid all cavilling, it sometimes occurs in one word, but never in a word by itself.

38. But under how many, and what forms, the solecism occurs, is not sufficiently agreed. Those who speak of it most fully make the nature of it fourfold, like that of the barbarism; so that it may be committed by addition, as, Veni de Susis in Alexandriam; by retrenchment, as Ambulo viam, Aegypto venio; ne hoc fecit; 39. by transposition, by which the order of words is confused, as, Quoque ego; Enim hoc voluit; Aulem non habuit; under which head, whether igitur, placed at the beginning of a phrase, ought to be included, may be a matter of dispute, because I see that eminent authors have been of opposite opinions as to the practice, it being common among some, while it is never found in others. 40. These three sorts of irregularity some distinguish from the solecism, and call a fault of addition "a pleonasm," of retrenchment "an ellipsis," of inversion "an anastrophe," and allege that if these fall under the head of solecism, the hyperbalon may be included under the same title.

41. Substitution is, without dispute, when one thing is put for another; an irregularity which we find affecting all the parts of speech, but most frequently the verb, because it has most modifications; and accordingly, under the head of substitution, occur solecisms in gender, tense, persons, moods, (or states, or qualities, if any one wish that they should be so called,) being six, or, as some will have it, eight in number (since into however many forms you distinguish each of the parts of speech of which mention has just been made, there will be so many sorts of errors liable to be committed), as well as in numbers, of which we have the singular and plural, the Greeks also the dual. 43. There have, indeed, been some who assigned us also a dual, scripsere, legere; a termination which was merely a softening for the sake of avoiding roughness of sound, as, among the old writers, male merere for male mereris; and thus what they call the dual consists in that one sort of termination only, whereas among the Greeks it is found not only through almost the whole system of the verb, but also in nouns; though even so the use of it is very rare.

43. But in no one of our authors is this distinction of ending to be discovered; on the contrary, the phrases, Devenere locos, Conticuere omnes, Consedere duces, show us plainly that no one of them refers to two persons only; dixere, too, though Antonius Rufus gives it as an example of the contrary, the crier [at trials the crier of the court, after the pleaders on both sides had finished their speeches, used to say Dixere, "they have spoken;"] pronounces concerning more advocates than two. 44. Does not Livy, also, near the beginning of his first book, say, Tenuere arcem Sabini, and a little afterwards, In adversum Romani subiere? But whom shall I follow in preference to Cicero, who, in his Orator [C. 47], says, "I do not object to scripsere, though I consider scripserunt to be preferable?"

45. In appellative and other nouns, likewise, the solecism shows itself in regard to gender, and to number, but especially to case. Whichsoever of those three shall be put in the place of another, the error may be placed under this head; as also incorrectnesses in the use of comparatives and superlatives; as well as cases in which the patronymic is put for the possessive, or the contrary. 46. As to a fault committed in regard to quantity, such as magnum peculiolum, there will be some who will think it a solecism, because a diminution is used instead of the integral word; but for my own part, I doubt whether I should not rather call it a misapplication of a word, for it is a departure from the signification; and the impropriety of a solecism is not an error as to the sense of a word, but in the junction of words. 47. In respect to the participle errors are committed in gender and case, as in the noun; in tense, as in the verb; and in number, as in both. The pronoun, also, has gender, number, and case, all of which admit mistakes of this kind.

48. Solecisms are committed, too, and in great numbers, as to parts of speech, but it is not enough merely to remark this generally, lest the pupil should think a solecism committed only where one part of speech is put for another, as a verb where there ought to have been a noun, or an adverb where there ought to have been a pronoun, and the like. 49. For there are some nouns cognate, as they say, that is, of the same kind, in regard to which he who shall use another species than that which he ought to use, will be guilty of no less an error than if he were to use a word of another genus. 50. Thus an and aut are both conjunctions, yet you would be incorrect in asking, hic, aut ille, sit? Ne and non are both adverbs, yet he who should say non feceris for ne feceris, would fall into a similar error, since the one is an adverb of denying, the other of forbidding. I will add another example; intro and intus are both adverbs of place; yet eo intus, and intro sum, are solecisms. 51. The same faults may be committed in regard to the different sorts of pronouns, interjections, and prepositions. The discordant collocation of preceding and following words, also, in a sentence of one clause, is a solecism.

52. There are expressions, however, which have the appearance of solecisms, and yet cannot be called faulty, as tragoedia Thyestes, Ludi Floralia, and Megalesia; for though these modes of expression have fallen into disuse in later times, there was never any variation from them among the ancients. They shall therefore be called figures; figures more common indeed among the poets, but allowable also to writers and speakers in prose. 63. But a figure will generally have something right for its basis, as I shall show in that part of my work which I just before promised. Yet what is now called a figure will not be free from the fault of solecism, if it be used by any one unknowingly. 54. Of the same sort, though, as I have already said, they have nothing of figure, are names with a feminine termination which males have, and those with a masculine termination which females have. But of the solecism I shall say no more; for I have not undertaken to write a treatise on grammar, though, as grammar met me in my road, I was unwilling to pass it without paying my respects to it.

55. In continuation, that I may follow the course which I prescribed to myself, let me repeat that words are either Latin or foreign. Foreign words, like men, and like many of our institutions, have come to us, I might almost say, from all nations. 50. I say nothing of the Tuscans, Sabines, and Praenostines, for though Lucilius attacks Vectius for using their dialect, as Pollio discovers Patavinity in Livy, I would consider every part of Italy as Roman. 57. Many Gallic words have prevailed among us, as rheda, "a chariot," and peiorritum, "a four-wheeled cairiage," of which, however, Cicero uses one, and Horace the other. Mappa, "a napkin," too, a term much used in the circus, the Carthaginians claim as theirs; and gurdus, a word which the common people use for foolish, had, I have heard, its origin in Spain. 58. But this division of mine is intended to refer chiefly to the Greek language; for it is from thence that the Roman language is, in a very great degree, derived; and we use even pure Greek words, where our own fail, as they also sometimes borrow from us. Hence arises the question, whether it is proper that foreign words should be declined with cases in the same way as our own.

59. if you meet with a grammarian who is a lover of the ancients, he will say that there should be no departure from the Latin method; because, as there is in our language an ablative case, which the Greeks have not, it is by no means becoming for us to use one case of our own, and five Greek cases. 60. And he would also praise the merit of those who studied to increase the resources of the Latin language, and asserted that they need not introduce foreign practices; under the influence of which notion they said Castorem, with the middle syllable long, because such was the case with all our nouns whose nominative case ends in the same letters as Castor; and they retained the practice, moreover, of saying Palaemo, Telamo, and Plato (for so Cicero also called him), because they found no Latin word that terminated with the letters o and n.

61. Nor did they willingly allow masculine Greek nouns to end in as in the nominative case, and accordingly, we read in Caelius, Pelia Cincinnatus; in Messala, Bene fecit Euthia; in Cicero, Hermagora; so that we need not wonder that the forms Aenea and Anchisa were used by most of the old writers: for, said they, if those words were written as Maecenas, Suffenas, Asprenas, they would end in the genitive case, not with the letter e, but with the syllable tis. 62. Hence, to Olympus and tyrannus they gave an acuted middle syllable, because our language does not permit the first syllable of a word, if short, to have an acute accent when two long syllables follow. 63. Thus the genitive had the forms Achilli and Ulixi; and many others similar. The modern grammarians have now made it a practice rather to give Greek declensions to Greek nouns; a practice which cannot, however, always be observed. For myself, I prefer following the Latin method, as far as propriety allows; for I would not now say Calypsonem, like Junonem, though Caius Caesar, following the older writers, uses this mode of declining. 64. But custom has prevailed over authority. In other words, which may be declined without impropriety in either way, he who shall prefer to use the Greek form will speak, not indeed like a Roman, but without incurring blame.

65. Simple words are what they are in their first position [that is, in their nominative case, the form in
which they are first laid down]
, that is, in their own nature. Compound words are either formed by subjoining words to prepositions, as innocens, (care being taken that there be not two prepositions inconsistent with each other, as imperterritus, otherwise two may be at times joined together, as incompositus, reconditus, and, a word which Cicero uses, subabsurdum;) or they coalesce, as it were, from two bodies into one, as maleficus. 66. For to form words out of three constituent parts I should certainly not grant to our language; though Cicero says that capsis is compounded of cape si vis; and some are found to maintain that Lupercalia also consists of three parts of speech, luere per caprum. [It is generally supposed to be from Lupercus, a name of Pan, or a priest of Pan. Lupercus is thought to be lupos arcens.] 67. As to solitaurilia, it is now believed that it is for suove-taurilia, and such indeed is the sacrifice, as it is described also in Homer [Odyss. xi. 130; xxiii. 277]. ST But these words are constructed, not so much of three words, as of parts of three words. Pacuvius however appears to have formed compounds, most inelegantly of a preposition and two other words:

Repandirostrum, incurvicervicum pecus

"The broad-nosed, crook-necked flock of Nereus." Compounds, however, are formed either of two entire Latin words, as superfui, subterfugi, (though it is a question whether these are indeed formed of entire words,) of an entire and incomplete word, as malevolus; of an incomplete and entire word, as noctivagus; of two incomplete words, as pedissequus; of a Latin and a foreign word, as biclinium; of a foreign and a Latin word, as epilogium and Anticato; or of two foreign words, as epirhedium, for though the preposition επι is Greek, and rheda Gallic, and though neither the Greek nor the Gaul uses the compound, yet the Romans have formed their word of the two foreign words. 69. Frequently, too, the union causes a change in the prepositions, as abstulit, aufugit, amisit, though the preposition is merely ab, and coit, the preposition being con; and so ignovi, erepti, and similar compounds. 70. But the composition of words in general is better suited to the Greeks; with us it is less successful; though I do not think that this results from the nature of the language; but we look with more favor on foreign compounds; and, accordingly, while we admire κυρναυχενα, we hardly defend incurvicervicum from derision.

71. Words are proper when they signify that to which they were first applied; metaphorical, when they have one signification by nature, and another in the place in which they are used. Common words we use with greater safety; new ones we do not form without some danger; for if they are well received, they add but little merit to our style, and, if rejected, they turn to jokes against us. 72. Yet we must make attempts; for, as Cicero says, even words which have seemed harsh at first, become softened by use.

As to the onomatopoeia, it is by no means granted to our language; for, if we should venture to produce anything like those justly admired expressions λιγξεβιος, "the bow twanged," and σιζε οφθαλμος [Il. iv. 125; Odyss. ix. 394], "the eye hissed," who would endure it? We should not even dare to say balare, "to bleat," or hinnire, "to neigh," unless those words were supported by the sanction of antiquity.


1. By speakers, as well as writers, there are certain rules to be observed. Language is based on reason, antiquity, authority, custom. It is analogy, and sometimes etymology, that affords the chief support to reason. A certain majesty, and, if I may so express myself, religion, graces the antique. Authority is commonly sought in orators or historians; for, as to the poets, the obligation of the metre excuses their phraseology, unless, occasionally, when, though the measure of the feet offers no impediment to the choice of either of two expressions, they fancifully prefer one to the other; as in the following phrases: Imo de stirpe recisum, Aeriae quo congessere palumbes, Silice in nudd, [Virg. Aen. xii. 208; Ecl. iii. 69; i. 15] and the like; since the judgment of men eminent in eloquence is in place of reason, and even error is without dishonor in following illustrious guides. Custom, however, is the surest preceptor in speaking; and we must use phraseology, like money, which has the public stamp.

But all these particulars require great judgment, especially analogy; which, translating it closely from Greek into Latin, people have called proportion. 4. What it requires is, that a writer or speaker should compare whatever is at all doubtful, with something similar concerning which there is no doubt, so as to prove the uncertain by the certain. This is done in two ways: by a comparison of similar words, in respect chiefly to their last syllables (for which reason the words that have but one syllable are said not to be accountable to analogy), and by looking to diminutives. 5. Comparison, in nouns, shows either their gender or their declension; their gender, as, when it is inquired whether funis be masculine or feminine, panis may be an object of comparison with it; their declension, as, if it should be a subject of doubt whether we should say hac domu or hac domo, and domuum or domorum, domus, anus, manus may be compared with each other. 6. The formation of diminutives shows only the gender of words, as (that I may take the same word for an example) funiculus proves that funis is masculine.

7. There is also similar reason for comparison in verbs; as if anyone, following the old writers, should pronounce fervere with the middle syllable short, he would be convicted of speaking incorrectly, since all verbs which end with the letters e and o in the indicative mood, when they have assumed the letter e in the middle syllables in the infinitive, have it necessarily long, as prandeo, pendeo, spondeo, prandere, pendere, spondere. 8. But those which have o only in the indicative, when they end with the same letter e in the infinitive, shorten it, as lego, dico, curro, legere, dicere, currere; although there occurs in Lucilius,

Fervit aqua et.fervet; fervit nunc, fervit ad annum.
"The water boils and will boil; it boils now, and will boil for a year."

But with all respect to a man of such eminent learning, if he thinks fervit similar to currit and legit, fervo will be a word like curro and lego, a word which has never been heard by me. But this is not a just comparison; for servit is like fervit, and he that follows this analogy must say fervire as well as servire.

10. The present indicative also is sometimes discovered from the other moods and tenses; for I remember that some people who bad blamed me for using the word pepigi, were convinced by me of their error; they had allowed, indeed, that the best authors had used pepigi, but denied that analogy permitted its use, since the present indicative paciscor, as it had the form of a passive verb, made in the perfect tense pactus sum. But I, besides adducing the authority of orators and historians, maintained that pepigi was also supported by analogy; for, as we read in the Twelve Fables, ni ita pagunt, I found cadunt similar to pagunt, whence the present indicative, though it had fallen into disuse through time, was evidently pago, like cado; and it was therefore certain that we say pepigi like cecidi.

12. But we must remember that the course of analogy cannot be traced through all the parts of speech, as it is in many cases at variance with itself. Learned men, indeed, endeavor to justify some departures from it, as, when it is remarked how much lepus and lupus, though of similar terminations in the nominative, differ in their cases and numbers, they reply that they are not of the same sort, since lepus is epicene, and lupus masculine; although Varro, in the book in which he relates the origin of the city of Rome, uses lupus as feminine, following Ennius and Fabius Pictor. 13. But those same grammarians, when they are asked why aper makes apri, and pater patris, assert that the first is declined absolutely, and the second with reference to something; and, besides, as both are derived from the Greek, they recur to the rule that πατρος gives patris, and καπρου apri.

14. But how will they escape from the fact that nouns, which end with the letters u and s in the nominative singular, never, even though feminine, end with the syllable ris in the genitive, yet that Venus makes Veneris; and that, though nouns ending in es have various endings in the genitive, yet their genitive never ends in that same syllable ris, when, nevertheless, Ceres obliges us to say Cereris? 15. And what shall I say of those parts of speech, which, though all of similar commencement, proceed with different inflexions, as Alba makes Albani and Albenses, Volo, volui and volavi? For that verbs, which end with the letter o in the first person singular, are variously formed in the perfect, analogy itself admits, as cado makes cecidi, spondeo, spopondi, pingo pinxi, lego legi, pono posui, frango fregi, laudo laudavi; 16. since analogy was not sent down from heaven, when men were first made, to give them rules for speaking, but was discovered after men had begun to speak, and after it was observed how each word in speaking terminated. It is not therefore founded on reason, but on example; nor is it a law for speaking, but the mere result of observation; so that nothing but custom has been the origin of analogy.

17. Yet some people adhere to it with a most unpleasantly perverse attachment to exactness; so that they will say audaciter in preference to audacter, though all orators adopt the latter, and emicavit instead of emicuit, conire instead of coire. Such persons we may allow to say audivisse, and scivisse, tribunale, and faciliter; let them also have their frugalis, instead of frugi, for how else can frugalitas be formed? 18. Let them also prove that centum millia nummum and fidem Deum are two solecisms, since they err in both case and number; for we were ignorant of this, forsooth, and were not merely complying with custom and convenience, as in most cases, of which Cicero treats nobly, as of everything else, in his Orator. 19. Augustus, too, in his letters written to Caius Caesar, corrects him for preferring to say calidum rather than caldum, not because calidum is not Latin, but because it is unpleasing, and, as he has himself expressed it bv a Greek word, περιεργον.

20. All this indeed they consider as mere ορθοεπεια, "orthoepy," which I by no means set aside; for what is so necessary as correctness of speech? I think that we ought to adhere to it as far as possible, and to make persevering resistance against innovators; but to retain words that are obsolete and disused, is a species of impertinence, and of puerile ostentation in little things. 21. Let the extremely learned man, who has saluted you without an aspirate, and with the second syllable lengthened, (for the verb, he will say, is avere,) say also calefacere and conservavisse rather than what we say; and with these let him join face, dice, and the like. 22. His way is the right way; who will deny it? but a smoother and more beaten road is close by the side of it.

There is nothing however, with which I am more offended, than that these men, led away by oblique cases, permit themselves, I do not say not to find, but oven to alter nominative cases, as when ebur and robur, so spoken and written by the greatest authors, are made to change the vowel of the second syllable into o, because their genitives are ruboris and eboris, and because sulfur and jecur preserve the vowel u in the genitive. For which reason also jecur and femur have raised disputes. 23. This change of theirs is not less audacious than if they were to substitute the letter o for u in the genitive case of sulfur and guttur, because eboris and roboris are formed with o; after the example of Antonius Gnipho [an eminent grammarian and rhetorician, whose school is said to have been frequented by many great men, and even by Cicero himself after he was praetor. See Suetonius on Eminent Grammarians, v. vii; Macrob. Sat. iii. 12], who acknowledges that robur and ebur are proper words, and even marmur, but would have the plurals of them to be robura, ebura, marmura. 24. But if they had paid attention to the affinity of letters, they would have understood that roboris is as fairly formed from robur as militis, limitis, from miles, limes, or judicis, vindicis, from iudex, vindex, and would have observed some other forms to which I have adverted above.

25. Do not similar nominative cases, as I remarked, diverge into very dissimilar forms in the oblique cases, as Virgo, Juno; fusus, lusus; cuspis, puppis; and a thousand others? It happens, too, that some nouns are not used in the plural, others not in the singular; some are indeclinable; some depart altogether from the form of their nominatives, as Jupiter. 26. The same peculiarity happens in verbs, as fero, tuli, of which the preterperfect is found, and nothing more. Nor is it of much importance, whether those unused parts are actually not in existence, or whether they are too harsh to be used; for what, for example, will progenies make in the genitive singular, or what will spes make in the genitive plural? Or how will quire and ruere, form themselves in the perfect passive, or in the passive participles? 57. It is needless to advert to other words, when it is even uncertain whether senatus makes senatus senatui, or senati senato. It appears to me, therefore, to have been not unhappily remarked that it is one thing to speak Latin, and another to speak grammar. Of analogy I have now said enough, and more than enough.

Etymology, which inquires into the origin of words, is called by Cicero notation, because its designation in Aristotle is συμβολον, that is, nota; for to a literal rendering of ετυμολογια, which would be veriloquium, Cicero himself, who formed that word, is averse. There are some, who, looking rather to the meaning of the word, call it origination. 20. This part of grammar is sometimes of the utmost use; as often, indeed, as the matter, concerning which there is any dispute, stands in need of interpretation; as when Marcus Caelius would prove that he was a homo frugi, "a frugal man," not because he was temperate, (for on that point he could not speak falsely,) but because he was profitable to many, that is fructuosus, from whence, he said, was derived frugality. A place is accordingly assigned to etymology in definitions. 30. Sometimes, also, it endeavors to distinguish barbarous from polite words; as when a question arises whether Sicily should be called Triquetra or Triquedra, and whether we should say meridies or medidies; and similar questions concerning other words which yield to custom. 31. But it carries with it much learning, whether we employ it in treating of words sprung from the Greek, which are very numerous, especially those inflected according to the Aeolic dialect, to which our language has most similitude, or in inquiring, from our knowledge of ancient history, into the names of men, places, nations, cities; whence come the names of the Bruti, Publicolae, Pici; why we say Latium, Italia, Beneventum; what is our reason for using the terms Capitol, Quirinal hill, and Argiletum.

33. I would now allude, also, to those minuter points, on which the greatest lovers of etymology weary themselves; men who bring back to their true derivation, by various and manifold arts, words that have become a little distorted, shortening or lengthening, adding, taking away, or interchanging letters or syllables. In this pursuit, through weakness of judgment, they run into the most contemptible absurdities. Let consul be (I make no objection) from "consulting" or from "judging," for the ancients called consulere "judicare," whence still remains the phrase rogat boni consulas, that is, bonum judices. 33. Let it be old age that has given a name to the senate, for the senators are fathers; let rex, rector, and abundance of other words, be indisputably from rego; nor would I dispute the ordinary derivation of tegula, regula, and other words similar to them; let classis, also, be from calare, "to call together," and let lepus be for levipes, and vulpes for volipes.

34. But shall we also allow words to be derived from contraries, as lucus, "a grove," from luceo, " to shine," because, being thick with shade, parum lucet, it does not shine? As ludus, "a school," from ludo, "to play," because it is as far as possible from play? As Ditis, " Pluto," from dives, "rich," because he is by no means rich? Or shall we allow homo, "man," to be from humus, "the ground," because he was sprung from the ground, as if all animals had not the same origin, or as if the first men had given a name to the ground before they gave one to themselves? Shall we allow verba " words," to be from aer verberatus, "beaten air?"

35. Let us go on, and we shall get so far that stella, "a star," will be believed to be luminis stilla, "a drop of light," the author of which derivation, an eminent man in literature, it would be ungenerous for me to name in regard to a point on which he is censured by me. 36. But those who have recorded such etymologies in books have themselves set their names to them; and Caius Granius thought himself extremely clever for saying that coelibes, "bachelors," was the same as coelites, "inhabitants of heaven," because they are alike free from a most heavy burden, resting his derivation, too, on an argument from the Greek, for he affirmed that ηιθεους was used in the same sense. Nor does Modestus [Suetonius on Eminent Grammarians, c. xx] yield to him in imagination, for he says that because Saturn cut of the genitalia of Coelus, men who have no wives are, therefore, called coelibes. 37. Lucius Aelius declares that pituita, "phlegm," is so called quia petat vitam, because "it aims at life."

But who may not be pardoned after Varro, who wished to persuade Cicero (for it was to him that he wrote this), that ager, "a field," is so called because in eo agatur aliquid, "something is done in it," and that graculos, "jack-daws," are so named because they fly gregatim, "in flocks," though it is evident that the one is derived from the Greek, and the other from the cries of the birds themselves? But of such importance was it to Varro to derive, that merula "a blackbird,'' he declared, was so named because it flies alone, as if mera volans. Some have not hesitated to apply to etymology for the origin of every name or word; deducing Longus and Rufus, as I remarked, from personal peculiarities; strepere and murmurare from particular sounds; with which they join, also, certain derivatives, as velox, "swift," deduced from velocitas, "swiftness," and the greater number of compounds (as being similar to them), which, doubtless, have their origin from something, but demand no exercise of ingenuity, for which, indeed, except on doubtful points, there is no opportunity in these investigations.

39. Words derived from antiquity have not only illustrious patrons, but also confer on style a certain majesty, not unattended with pleasure; for they have the authority of age, and, as they have been disused for a time, bring with them a charm similar to that of novelty. 40. But there is need of moderation in the use of them, in order that they may not occur too frequently, nor show themselves too manifestly, since nothing is more detestable than affectation; nor should they be taken from a remote and already forgotten age, as are topper, "quickly," antigerio, "very much," exanclare, " to draw out," prosapia, "a race," and the verses of the Salii, which are scarcely understood by the priests themselves. 41. Those verses, however, religion forbids to be changed; and we must use what has been consecrated; but how faulty is speech, of which the greatest virtue is perspicuity, if it needs an interpreter! Consequently, as the oldest of new words will be the best, so the newest of old words will be the best.

42. The case is similar with regard to authority; for though he may seem to commit no fault who uses those words which the greatest writers have handed down to him, yet it is of much importance for him to consider, not only what words they used, but how far they gave a sanction to them; for no one would now tolerate from us tuburchinabundus, "devouring," or lurchinabundus, "voracious," though Cato was the father of them; nor would people endure lodices, "blankets," in the masculine gender, though that gender pleases Pollio; nor gladiola for "little swords," though Messala has used it; nor parricidatus, "parricide," which was thought scarcely endurable in Caelius; nor would Calvus [Caius Licinius Calvus, the orator, mentioned with commendation by Cicero, Brut. c. 82] induce me to use collos, " necks;" all which words, indeed, those authors themselves would not now use.

43. There remains, therefore, custom, for it would be almost ridiculous to prefer the language which men have spoken rather than that which they now speak; what else, indeed, is old language, but the old manner of speaking? But even for following custom judgment is necessary; and we must settle, in the first place, what that is which we call custom; 44. for if custom be merely termed that which the greater number do, it will furnish a most dangerous rule, not only for language, but, what is of greater importance, for life. For where is there so much virtue that what is right can please the majority? As, therefore, to pluck out hairs, to cut the hair of the head in a succession of rings, and to drink to excess in the bath, whatever country those practices may have invaded, will not become the custom, because no one of them is undeserving of censure, though we bathe and clip our hair, and take our meals together according to custom, so, in speaking, it is not whatever has become a vicious practice with many, that is to be received as a rule of language. 45. For, not to mention how the ignorant commonly speak, we know that whole theatrea, and all the crowd of the circus, have frequently uttered barbarous exclamations. Custom in speaking, therefore, I shall call the agreement of the educated; as I call custom in living the agreement of the good.


1. Since we have mentioned what rules are to be followed In speaking, we must now specify what are to be observed by writers. What the Greeks call ορθογραφια, we may call the art of writing correctly; an art which does not consist in knowing of what letters every syllable is composed (for this study is beneath the profession even of the grammarian), but exercises its whole subtilty, in my opinion, on dubious points. 2. As it is the greatest of folly to place a mark on all long syllables, since most of them are apparent from the very nature of the word that is written, yet it is at times necessary to mark them, as when the same letter gives sometimes one sense and sometimes another, according as it is short or long; thus malus is distinguished by a mark, to show whether it means "a tree" or " a bad man;" 3. palus, too, signifies one thing when its first syllable is long, and another when its second is so; and when the same letter is short in the nominative and long in the ablative, we have generally to be informed by this mark which quantity we are to adopt.

4. Grammarians have in like manner thought that the following distinction should be observed; namely, that we should write the preposition ex, if the word specto was compounded with it, with the addition of s in the second syllable, exspecto; if pecto, without the s. 6. It has been a distinction, also, observed by many, that ad, when it was a preposition, should take the letter d, but when a conjunction, the letter t; and that cum, if it signified time, should be written with a q and two u's following, but if it meant accompaniment, with a c. 6. Some other things were even more trifling than these, as that quicquid should have a c for the fourth letter, lest we should seem to ask a double question [quid? quid?], and that we should write quotidie, not cotidie, to show that it was for quot diebus. But these notions have already passed away among other puerilities.

7. It is however a question, in writing prepositions, whether it is proper to observe the sound which they make when joined to another word, or that which they make when separate, as, for instance, when I pronounce the word obtinuit; for our method of writing requires that the second letter should be b; while the ear catches rather the sound of p; 8. or when I say immunis, for the letter n, which the composition of the word requires, is influenced by the sound of the following syllable, and changed into another m. 9. It is also to be observed, in dividing compound words, whether you ought to attach the middle consonant to the first or to the second syllable; for aruspex, as its latter part is from spectare, will assign the letter s to the third syllable; abstemius, as it is formed of abstinentia temeti, "abstinence from wine," will leave the s to the first syllable. 10. As to k, I think it should not be used in any words, except those which it denotes of itself, so that it may be put alone. This remark I have not omitted to make, because there are some who think k necessary when a follows; though there is the letter c, which suits itself to ail vowels.

11. But orthography submits to custom, and has therefore frequently been altered. I say nothing of those ancient times when there were fewer letters, and when their shapes were different from these of ours, and their natures also different, as that of o among the Greeks, which was sometimes long and sometimes short, and, as among us, was sometimes put for the syllable which it expresses by its mere name. [That is, for the interjection.] 12. I say nothing also of d, among the ancient Latins, being added as the last letter to a great number of words, as is apparent from the rostral pillar erected to Caius Duellius in the forum; nor nor do I speak of g being used in the same manner, as, on the pulvinar of the Sun, which is worshipped near the temple of Romulus, is read vesperug, which we take for vesperugo. 13. Nor is it necessary to say anything here of the interchange of letters, of which I have spoken above; for perhaps as they wrote they also spoke.

14. It was for a long time a very common custom not to double the semivowels; while, on the other hand, even down to the time of Accius and later, they wrote, as I have remarked, long syllables with two vowels. 15. Still longer continued the practice of using e and i together, joining them in the same manner as the Greeks in the diphthong ει. This practice was adopted for a distinction in cases and numbers, as Lucilius admonishes us:

Jam pueri venere: E postremum facito, atqae I,
Ut puerei plures fiant;

and afterwards,

Mendaci furique addes E, quum dare furei

However this addition of e is both superfluous, since i has the nature as well of a long as of a short letter, and also sometimes inconvenient; for in those words which have e immediately before the last syllable, and end with i long, we should use, if we adopted that method, a double e, as aureei, argenteei, and the like; and this would be extremely embarrassing to those who are being taught to read; 17. as happens also among the Greeks by the addition of the letter i, which they not only write at the end of dative cases, but sometimes even in the middle of a word, as ΑΗΙΣΤΗΙ, because etymology, in making a division of the word into three syllables, requires that letter. 18. The diphthong ai, for the second letter of which we now substitute e, our ancestors expressed, with a varied pronunciation, by a and i, some using it in all cases like the Greeks others only in the singular, when they had to form a genitive or dative case, whence Virgil, a great lover of antiquity, has inserted in his verses pictai vestis, and aulai; but in the plural number of such nouns they use e, as Syllae, Galbae. 19. There is on this point also a precept of Lucilius, which, as it is expressed in a great number of verses, whoever is incredulous about it may seek in his ninth book.

20. I may mention, too, that in the time of Cicero, and somewhat later, the letter s, as often as it occurred between two long vowels, or followed a long vowel, was doubled, as caussae, cassus, divissiones; for that both he and Virgil wrote in this way, their own hands show. 21. But those of a somewhat earlier period wrote the word jussi, which we express with two s's, with only one. That optimus, maximus, should take i as their middle letter, which among the ancients was u, is said to have been brought about by an inscription to Caius Caesar [Caligula, who first adopted this title of optimus maximus; Sueton. c. 22]. 22. The word here we now end with the letter e; but I still find in the books of the old comic wrters Heri ad me venit [Terence, Phorm. i. 1, 2.]; which same mode of spelling is found in the letters of Augustus, which he wrote or corrected with his own hand [Sueton. Aug. c. 71; Cal. c. 8. See also Aul. Gell. x. 24].

23. Did not Cato the Censor, also, for dicam and faciam, write dicem and faciem? and did he not observe the same method in other verbs which terminate in a similar way? This is indeed manifest from his old writings, and is remarked by Messala in his book on the letter s. Sibe and quase occur in the writings of many authors; but whether the authors themselves intended them to be written thus, I do not know; that Livy spelled them in that way, I learn from Pedianus, who himself imitated Livy; we end those words with the letter i.

25. Why need I allude to vortices and vorsus and other similar words, in which Scipio Africanus is said to have first changed the second letter into e? 26. Our tutors wrote ceruum and seruum with the letters u and o, ceruom, seruom, in order that the same two vowels, following each other, might not coalesce and be confounded in the same sound; they are now written with two u's, on the principle which I have stated; though in neither way is the word which we conceive exactly expressed. Nor was it without advantage that Claudius introduced the Aelolic letter for such cases 27. It is an improvement of the present day that we spell cui with the three letters which I have just written; for in this word, when we were boys, they used, making a very offensive sound, qu and oi, only that it might be distinguished from qui.

28. What shall I say, too, of words that are written otherwise than they are pronounced? Gaius is spelled with the letter c, which, inverted, means a woman ; for that women were called Caiae, as well as men Caii, appears even from our nuptial ceremonies [in which the woman said, Ubi tu Caius, ibi ego Caia]. 29. Nor does Gneius assume that letter, in designating a praenomen, with which it is sounded. We read, too, columna and consules with the letter n omitted; and Subura, when it is designated by three letters, takes c as the third. There are many other peculiarities of this kind; but I fear that those which I have noticed have exceeded the limits of so unimportant a subject.

30. On all such points let the grammarian use his own judgment, for in this department it ought to be of the greatest authority. For myself, I think that all words, (unless custom has ordered otherwise,) should be written in conformity with their sound. 31. For this is the use of letters, to preserve words, and to restore them, like a deposit, to readers; and they ought, therefore, to express exactly what we are to say.

32. These are the most important points as to speaking and writing correctly. The other two departments, those of speaking with significancy [the word implies perspicuity, clarity, and speaking with propriety, using language suited to the subject, and putting "proper words in proper places"] and elegance, I do not indeed take away from the grammarians, but, as the duties of the rhetorician remain for me to explain, reserve them for a more important part of my work.

33. Yet the reflection recurs to me, that some will regard those matters of which I have just treated as extremely trifling, and even as impediments to the accomplishment of anything greater. Nor do I myself think that we ought to descend to extreme solicitude, and puerile disputations, about them; I even consider that the mind may be weakened and contracted by being fixed upon them. 34. But no part of grammar will be hurtful, except what is superfluous. Was Cicero the less of an orator because he was most attentive to the study of grammar, and because, as appears from his letters, he was a rigid exactor, on all occasions, of correct language from his son? Did the writings of Julius Caesar On Analogy diminish the vigor of his intellect? Or was Messala less elegant as a writer, because he devoted whole books, not merely to single words, but even to single letters? These studies are injurious, not to those who pass through them, but to those who dwell immoderately upon them.


1 . Reading remains to be considered; in which how a boy may know when to take breath, where to divide a verse, where the sense is concluded, where it begins, when the voice is to be raised or lowered, what is to be uttered with any particular inflexion of sound, or what is to be pronounced with greater slowness or rapidity, with greater animation or gentleness than other passages, can be taught only in practice. 2. There is but one direction, therefore, which I have to give in this part of my work, namely, that he may be able to do all this successfully, let him understand what he reads.

Let his mode of reading, however, be, above all, manly, uniting gravity with a certain degree of sweetness; and let not his reading of the poets be like that of prose; for it is verse, and the poets say that they sing; yet let it not degenerate into sing-song, or be rendered effeminate with unnatural softness, as is now the practice among most readers; on which sort of reading we hear that Caius Caesar, while he was still under age, observed happily to some one that was practicing it, "If you are singing, you sing badly; if you pretend to read, you nevertheless sing." 3. Nor would I have prosopopeiae pronounced, as some would wish them, after the manner of actors; though I think there should be a certain alteration of the voice by which they may be distinguished from those passages in which the poet speaks in his own person.

4. Other points demand much admonition to be given on them; and care is to be taken, above all things, that tender minds, which will imbibe deeply whatever has entered them while rude and ignorant of everything, may learn, not only what is eloquent, but, still more, what is morally good. 5. It has accordingly been an excellent custom, that reading should commence with Homer and Virgil, although, to understand their merits, there is need of maturer judgment; but for the acquisition of judgment there is abundance of time; for they will not be read once only. In the meantime, let the mind of the pupil be exalted with the sublimity of the heroic verse, conceive ardor from the magnitude of the subjects, and be imbued with the noblest sentiments.

6. The reading of tragedies is beneficial; the lyric poets nourish the mind, provided that you select from them, not merely authors, but portions of their works; for the Greeks are licentious in many of their writings, and I should be loath to interpret Horace in certain passages. As to elegy, at least that which treats of love, and hendecasyllables [Phalaecian veraes, such as Catullus wrote], and poems in which there are portions of Sotadic verses, (for concerning Sotadic verses themselves no precept need even be mentioned,) let them be altogether kept away, if it be possible; if not, let them at least be reserved for the greater strength of mature age. 7. Of comedy, which may contribute very much to eloquence, as it extends to all sorts of characters and passions, I will state a little further on, in the proper place, the good which I think it may do to boys; when their morals are out of danger, it will be among the subjects to be chiefly read. It is of Menander that I speak, though I would not set aside other comic writers; for the Latin authors, too, will confer some benefit. 8. But those writings should be the subjects of lectures for boys, which may best nourish the mind and enlarge the thinking powers; for reading other books, which relate merely to erudition, advanced life will afford sufficient time.

The old Latin authors, however, will be of great use, though most of them, indeed, were stronger in genius than in art. Above all they will supply a copia verborum; while in their tragedies may be found a weightiness of thought, and in their comedies elegance, and something as it were of Atticism. 9. There will be seen in them, too, a more careful regard to regularity of structure than in most of the moderns, who have considered that the merit of every kind of composition lies solely in the thoughts. Purity, certainly, and, that I may so express myself, manliness, is to be gained from them; since we ourselves have fallen into all the vices of refinement, even in our manner of speaking. 10. Let us, moreover, trust to the practice of the greatest orators, who have recourse to the poems of the ancients, as well for the support of their arguments, as for the adornment of their eloquence.

11. For in Cicero, most of all, and frequently, also, in Asinius, and others nearest to his times, we see verses of Ennius, Accius, Pacuvius, Lucilius, Terence, Caecilius, and other poets, introduced, with the best effect, not only for showing the learning of the speakers, but for giving pleasure to the hearers, whose ears find in the charms of poetry a relief from the want of elegance in forensic pleading. 12. To this is to be added no mean advantage, as the speakers confirm what they have stated by the sentiments of the poets, as by so many testimonies. But those first observations of mine have reference rather to boys, the latter to more advanced students, for the love of letters, and the benefit of reading, are bounded, not by the time spent at school, but by the extent of life.

13. In lecturing on the poets, the grammarian must attend also to minor points; so that, after taking a verse to pieces, he may require the parts of speech to be specified, and the peculiarities of the feet, which are necessary to be known, not merely for writing poetry, but even for prose composition; and that he may distinguish what words are barbarous, or misapplied, or used contrary to the rules of the language; 14. not that the poets may thus be disparaged, (to whom, as they are commonly forced to obey the metre, so much indulgence is granted, that even solecisms are designated by other names in poetry, for we call them, as I have remarked, metaplasms, schematisms, and schemata [metaplasmus is any change in the form of a word, effected by aphoeresis, paragoge, or any other figure], and give to necessity the praise of merit,) but that the tutor may instruct the pupil in figurative terms, and exercise his memory.

15. It is likewise useful, among the first rudiments of instruction, to show in how many senses each word may be understood. About glossemata, too, that is, words not in general use, no small attention is requisite in the grammatical profession. 16. With still greater care, however, let him teach all kinds of tropes, from which not only poetry, but even prose, receives the greatest ornament, as well as the two sorts of schemata or figures, called figures of speech and figures of thought. My observations on these figures, as well as those on tropes, I put off to that portion of my work in which I shall have to speak of the embellishments of composition. 17. But let the tutor, above all things, impress upon the minds of his pupils what merit there is in a just disposition of parts, and a becoming treatment of subjects; what is well suited to each character; what is to be commended in the thoughts, and what in the words; where diffuseness is appropriate, and where contraction.

18. To these duties will be added explanations of historical points, which must be sufficiently minute, but not carried into superfluous disquisitions; for it will suffice to lecture on facts which are generally admitted, or which are at least related by eminent authors. To examine, indeed, what all writers, even the most contemptible, have ever related, is a proof either of extravagant laboriousness, or of useless ostentation, and chains and overloads the mind, which might give its attention to other things with more advantage. 19. For he who makes researches into all sorts of writings, even such as are unworthy to be read, is capable of giving his time even to old women's tales.

Yet the writings of grammarians are full of noxious matters of this kind, scarcely known even to the very men who wrote them. 20. Since it is known to have happened to Didymus [he is said by Athenaeus, iv. p. 139, to have written three thousand five hundred books; by Senecs, Ep. 88, four thousand], than whom no man wrote more books, that, when he denied a certain story, as unworthy of belief, his own book containing it was laid before him. 21. This occurs chiefly in fabulous stories, descending even to what is ridiculous, and sometimes licentious; whence every unprincipled grammarian has the liberty of inventing many of his comments, so that he may lie with safety concerning whole books and authors, as it may occur to him, for writers that never existed cannot be produced against him. In the better known class of authors they are often exposed by the curious. Hence it shall be accounted by me among the merits of a grammarian to be ignorant of some things.


1. Two of the departments, which this profession undertakes, have now been concluded, namely, the art of speaking correctly, and the explanation of authors; of which they call the one methodice and the other historice. Let us add, however, to the business of the grammarian, some rudiments of the art of speaking, in which they may initiate their pupils while still too young for the teacher of rhetoric. 2. Let boys learn, then, to relate orally the fables of Aesop, which follow next after the nurse's stories, in plain language, not rising at all above mediocrity, and afterwards to express the same simplicity in writing. Let them learn, too, to take to pieces the verses of the poets, and then to express them in different words; and afterwards to represent them, somewhat boldly, in a paraphrase, in which it is allowable to abbreviate or embellish certain parts, provided that the sense of the poet be preserved. 3. He who shall successfully perform this exercise, which is difficult even for accomplished professors, will be able to learn anything. Let sentences, also, and chriae, and ethologies, ["A sentence is the enunciation of some general proposition, exhorting to something, or deterring from something, or showing what something is." Priscian, citing from Hermogenes, p. 1333, ed. Putsch. " What the Greeks call χρεια, is the relation of some saying or action, or of both together, showing its intention clearly, and having generally some moral instruction in view." Priscian, ib. p. 1332] be written by the learner, with the occasions of the sayings added according to the grammarians, because these depend upon reading. The nature of all these is similar, but their form different; because a sentence is a general proposition; ethology is confined to certain persons.

4. Of chriae several sorts are specified: one similar to a sentence, which is introduced with a simple statement, He said, or He was accustomed to say: another, which includes its subject in an answer: He, being asked, or, when this remark was made to him, replied; a third, not unlike the second, commences, When some one had, not said, but done, something. 5. Even in the acts of people some think that there is a chria, as, Crates, having met with an ignorant boy, beat his tutor: and there is another sort, almost like this, which, however, they do not venture to call by the same name, but term it a χρειωδες, as, Milo, having been accustomed to carry the same calf every day, ended by carrying a bull. In all these forms the declension is conducted through the same cases, and a reason may be given as well for acts as for sayings.

Stories told by the poets should, I think, be treated by boys, not with a view to eloquence, but for the purpose of increasing their knowledge. Other exercises, of greater toil and ardor, the Latin teachers of rhetoric, by abandoning them, have rendered the necessary work of teachers of grammar. The Greek rhetoricians have better understood the weight and measure of their duties.


1. These remarks I have made, as briefly as I could, upon grammar, not so as to examine and speak of every thing, which would be an infinite task, but merely of the most essential points. I shall now add some concise observations on the other departments of study, in which I think that boys should be initiated before they are committed to the teacher of rhetoric, in order that that circle of instruction, which the Greeks call εγκυκλιος παιδεια, may be completed.

2. For about the same age the study of other accomplishments must be commenced; concerning which, as they are themselves arts, and cannot be complete without the art of oratory, but are nevertheless insufficient of themselves to form an orator, it is made a question whether they are necessary to this art. 3. Of what service is it, say some people, for pleading a cause, or pronouncing a legal opinion, to know how equilateral triangles may be erected upon a given line? Or how will he, who has marked the sounds of the lyre by their names and intervals, defend an accused person, or direct consultations, the better on that account? 4. They may perhaps reckon, also, many speakers, effective in every way in the forum, who have never attended a geometrician, and who know nothing of musicians except by the common pleasure of listening to them.

To these observers I answer in the first place (what Cicero also frequently remarks in his book addressed to Brutus [see the Orator ad M. Brutum, c. 1 and 29]), that it is not such an orator as is or has been, that is to be formed by us, but that we have conceived in our mind an idea of the perfect orator, an orator deficient in no point whatever. 5. For when the philosophers would form their wise man, who is to be perfect in every respect, and, as they say, a kind of mortal god, they not only believe that he should be instructed, in a general knowledge of divine and human things, but conduct him through a course of questions which are certainly little, if you consider them merely in themselves, (as, sometimes, through studied subtleties of argument,) not because questions about horns [the syllo- gism: "You have what you have not lost; but you have not lost horns; therefore you have horns." See Sen. Ep. Lib. v., and Politian, Miscell. c. 54] or crocodiles [named from the following question: A crocodile, having seized a woman's son, said that he would restore him to her, if she would tell him truth; she replied, "you will not restore him;" ought the crocodile to have restored the child or not?] can form a wise man, but because a wise man ought never to be in error even in the least matters.

6. In like manner, it is not the geometrician, or the musician, or the other studies which I shall add to theirs, that will make the perfect orator (who ought to be a wise man), yet these accomplishments will contribute to his perfection. We see an antidote, for example, and other medicines to heal diseases and wounds, compounded of many and sometimes opposite ingredients, from the various qualities of which results that single compound, which resembles none of them, yet takes its peculiar virtues from them all; 7. mute insects, too, compose the exquisite flavor of honey, inimitable by human reason, of various sorts of flowers and juices; and shall we wonder that eloquence, than which the providence of the gods has given nothing more excellent to men, requires the aid of many arts, which, even though they may not appear, or put themselves forward, in the course of a speech, yet contribute to it a secret power, and are silently felt?

8. "People have been eloquent," some one may say, "without these arts;" but I want a perfect orator. "They contribute little assistance," another may observe; but that, to which even little shall be wanting, will not be a whole; and it will be agreed that perfection is a whole, of which though the hope may be on a distant height as it were, yet it is for us to suggest every means of attaining it, that something more, at least, may thus be done. But why should our courage fail us? Nature does not forbid the formation of a perfect orator; and it is disgraceful to despair of what is possible.

9. For myself, I could be quite satisfied with the judgment of the ancients; for who is ignorant that music (to speak of that science first) enjoyed, in the days of antiquity, so much, not only of cultivation, but of reverence, that those who were musicians were deemed also prophets and sages, as, not to mention others, Orpheus and Linus, both of whom are transmitted to the memory of posterity as having been descended from the gods, and the one, because he soothed the rude and barbarous minds of men by the wonderful effect of his strains, as having drawn after him not only wild beasts, but even rocks and woods. 10. Timagenes [a friend of Asinius Pollio, disliked by Augustus for his freedom of speech, but distinguished for his merits as a historian. See L. Seneca de Ira, c. 23; M. Seneca, Controv. xxxiv.; and Vossius, who has collected many particulars concerning him, de Hist. Graec. i. 24] declares that music was the most ancient of sciences connected with literature; an opinion to which the most celebrated poets give their support, according to whom the praises of gods and heroes used to be sung to the lyre at royal banquets.

Does not Virgil's lepas, too, sing errantem lunam solisque labores, "the wandering moon, and labors of the sun;" the illustrious poet thus plainly asserting that music is united with the knowledge of divine things? If this position be granted, music will be necessary also for the orator; for, as I observed, this part of learning, which, after being neglected by orators, has been taken up by the philosophers, was a portion of our business, and, without the knowledge of such subjects, there can be no perfect eloquence.

12. Nor can any one doubt that men eminently renowned for wisdom have been cultivators of music, when Pythagoras, and those who followed him, spread abroad the notion, which they doubtless received from antiquity, that the world itself was constructed in conformity with the laws of music, which the lyre afterwards imitated. 13. Nor were they content, moreover, with that concord of discordant elements, which they call 'αρμονια, "harmony," but attributed even sound to the celestial motions; for Plato, not only in certain other passages, but especially in his Timaeus, cannot even be understood except by those who have thoroughly imbibed the principles of this part of learning. What shall I say, too, of the philosophers in general, whose founder, Socrates himself, was not ashamed, even in his old age, to learn to play on the lyre?

14. It is related that the greatest generals used to play on the harp and flute, and that the troops of the Lacedaemonians were excited with musical notes. What other effect, indeed, do horns and trumpets produce in our legions, since the louder is the concert of their sounds, so much greater is the glory of the Romans than that of other nations in war? 15. It was not without reason, therefore, that Plato thought music necessary for a man who would be qualified for engaging in government, and whom the Greeks call πολιτικος. Even the chiefs of that sect which appears to some extremely austere, and to others extremely harsh, were inclined to think that some of the wise might bestow a portion of their attention on this study. Lycurgus, also, the maker of most severe laws for the Lacedaemonians, approved of the study of music.

16. Nature herself, indeed, seems to have given music to us as a benefit, to enable us to endure labors with greater facility; for musical sounds cheer even the rower; and it is not only in those works, in which the efforts of many, while some pleasing voice leads them, conspire together, that music is of avail, but the toil even of people at work by themselves finds itself soothed by song, however rude. 17. I appear, however, to be making a eulogy on this finest of arts, rather than connecting it with the orator. Let us pass lightly over the fact, then, that grammar and music were once united; since Archytas and Aristoxenus, indeed, thought grammar comprehended under music; and that they themselves were teachers of both arts, not only Sophron shows, (a writer, it is true, only of mimes, but one whom Plato so highly valued, that he is said to have had his books under his head when he was dying,) but also Eupolis, whose Prodamus teaches both music and grammar, and Maricas, that is to say, Hyperbolus, confesses that he knows nothing of music but letters.

18. Aristophanes, also, in more than one of his comedies, shows that boys were accustomed to be thus instructed in times of old; and, in the Hypobolimaeus of Menander, an old man, laying before a father, who is claiming a son from him, an account as it were of the expenses that he had bestowed upon his education, says that he has paid a great deal to musicians and geometers. 19. Hence too it was customary at banquets that the lyre should be handed round after the meal; and Themistocles, on confessing that he knew not how to play, "was accounted," to use the words of Cicero, "but imperfectly educated." Among the Romans, likewise, it was usual to introduce lyres and flutes at feasts. The verses of the Salii also have their tune; and these customs, as they were all established by Numa, prove that not even by those, who seem to have been rude and given to war, was the cultivation of music neglected, as far as that age admitted it. 21. It passed at length, indeed, into a proverb among the Gauls, that the uneducated had no commerce either with the Muses or the Graces.

22. But let us consider what peculiar advantage he who is to be an orator may expect from music. Music has two kinds of measures, the one in the sounds of the voice, the other in the motions of the body; for in both a certain due regulation is required. Aristoxenus the musician divides all that belongs to the voice into ρυθμος, "rhythm," and μελος εμμετρον, "melody in measure;" of which the one consists in modulation, the other in singing and tunes. Are not all these qualifications, then, necessary to the orator, the one of which relates to gesture, the second to the collocation of words, and the third to the inflexions of the voice, which in speaking are extremely numerous? 23. Such is undoubtedly the case, unless we suppose, perchance, that a regular structure and smooth combination of words is requisite only in poems and songs, and is superfluous in making a speech; or that composition and modulation are not to be varied in speaking, as in music, according to the nature of the subject.

24. Music, however, by means of the tone and modulation of the voice, expresses sublime thoughts with grandeur, pleasant ones with sweetness, and ordinary ones with calmness, and sympathizes in its whole art with the feelings attendant on what is expressed. 25. In oratory, accordingly, the raising, lowering, or other inflexion of the voice, tends to move the feelings of the hearers; and we try to excite the indignation of the judges in one modulation of phrase and voice, (that I may again use the same term,) and their pity in another; for we see that minds are affected in different ways even by musical instruments, though no words cannot be uttered by them.

28. A graceful and becoming motion of the body, also, which the Greeks call ευρυθμια, is necessary, and cannot be sought from any other art than music; a qualification on which no small part of oratory depends, and for treating on which a peculiar portion of our work is set apart. If an orator shall pay extreme attention to his voice, what is so properly the business of music? But neither is this department of my work to be anticipated; so that we must confine ourselves, in the mean time, to the single example of Caius Gracchus, the most eminent orator of his time, behind whom, when he spoke in public, a musician used to stand, and to give, with a pitch-pipe, which the Greeks call τοναριον, the tones in which his voice was to be exerted. 28. To this he attended even in his most turbulent harangues, both when he frightened the patricians, and after he began to fear them.

For the sake of the less learned, and those, as they say, "of a duller muse," I would wish to remove all doubt of the utility of music. 29. They will allow, assuredly, that the poets should be read by him who would be an orator; but are they, then, to be read without a knowledge of music? If any one is so blind of intellect, however, as to hesitate about the reading of other poets, he will doubtless admit that those should be read who have written poems for the lyre. 30. On these matters I should have to enlarge more fully, if I recommended this as a new study; but since it has been perpetuated from the most ancient times, even from those of Chiron and Achilles to our own, (among all, at least, who have not been averse to a regular course of mental discipline,) I must not proceed to make the point doubtful by anxiety to defend it.

31. Though I consider it sufficiently apparent, however, from the very examples which I have now given, what music pleases me, and to what extent, yet I think that I ought to declare more expressly, that that sort of music is not recommended by me, which, prevailing at present in the theatres, and being of an effeminate character, languishing with lascivious notes, has in a great degree destroyed whatever manliness was left among us; but those strains in which the praises of heroes were sung, and which heroes themselves sung; not the sounds of psalteries and languishing lutes, which ought to be shunned even by modest females, but the knowledge of the principles of the art, which is of the highest efficacy in exciting and allaying the passions. 32. For Pythagoras, as we have heard, calmed a party of young men, when urged by their passions to offer violence to a respectable family, by requesting the female musician, who was playing to them, to change her strain to a spondaic measure; and Chrysippus assigns a peculiar tune for the lullaby of nurses, which is used with children. 33. There is also a subject for declamation in the schools, not unartfully invented, in which it is supposed that a flute-player, who had played a Phrygian tune [how exciting the Phrygian measure was may be seen in Jamblichus's Life of Pythagoras, c. 26. It was first used in the enthusiastic sacred ceremonies of the Phrygian or Berecynthian mother] to a priest while he was sacrificing, is accused, after the priest has been driven to madness, and has thrown himself over a precipice, of having been the cause of his death; and if such causes have to be pleaded by an orator, and cannot be pleaded without a knowledge of music, how can even the most prejudiced forbear to admit that this art is necessary to our profession?

34. As to geometry, people admit that some attention to it is of advantage in tender years; for they allow that the thinking powers are excited, and the intellect sharpened by it, and that a quickness of perception is thence produced; but they fancy that it is not, like other sciences, profitable after it has been acquired, but only whilst it is being studied. 35. Such is the common opinion respecting it. But it is not without reason that the greatest men have bestowed extreme attention on this science; for as geometry is divided between numbers and figures, the knowledge of numbers, assuredly, is necessary not only to an orator, but to every one who has been initiated even in the rudiments of learning. In pleading causes, it is very often in request; when the speaker, if he hesitates, I do not say about the amount of a calculation, but if he even betray, by any uncertain or awkward movement of his fingers, a want of confidence in his calculations, is thought to be but imperfectly accomplished in his art. 36. The knowledge of linear figures, too, is frequently required in causes; for law-suits occur concerning boundaries and measures. But geometry has a still greater connection with the art of oratory.

37. Order, in the first place, is necessary in geometry; and is it not also necessary in eloquence? Geometry proves what follows from what precedes, what is unknown from what is known; and do we not draw similar conclusions in speaking? Does not the well known mode of deduction from a number of proposed questions consist almost wholly in syllogisms? Accordingly you may find more persons to say that geometry is allied to logic, than that it is allied to rhetoric. 38. But even an orator, though rarely, will yet at times prove logically, for he will use syllogisms if his subject shall require them, and will of necessity use the enthymem, which is a rhetorical syllogism. Besides, of all proofs, the strongest are what are called geometrical demonstrations; and what does oratory make its object more indisputably than proof?

Geometry often, moreover, by demonstration, proves what is apparently true to be false. This is also done with respect to numbers, by means of certain figures which they call ψευδεγραφιας, and at which we were accustomed to play when we were boys. But there are other questions of a higher nature. For who would not believe the asserter of the following proposition: "Of whatever places the boundary lines measure the same length, of those places the areas also, which are contained by those lines, must necessarily be equal?" 40. But this proposition is fallacious; for it makes a vast difference what figure the boundary lines may form; and historians, who have thought that the dimensions of islands are sufficiently indicated by the space traversed in sailing round them, have been justly censured by geometricians. 41. For the nearer to perfection any figure is, the greater is its capacity; and if the boundary line, accordingly, shall form a circle, which of all plane figures is the most perfect, it will embrace a larger area than if it shall form a square of equal circumference. Squares, again, contain more than triangles of equal circuit, and triangles themselves contain more when their sides are equal than when they are unequal.

42. Some other examples may perhaps be too obscure; let us take an instance most easy of comprehension even to the ignorant. There is scarcely any man who does not know that the dimensions of an acre extend two hundred and forty feet in length, and the half of that number in breadth; and what its circumference is, and how much ground it contains, it is easy to calculate. 43. A figure of a hundred and eighty feet on each side, however, has the same periphery, but a much larger area contained within its four sides. If any one thinks it too much trouble to make the calculation, he may learn the same truth by means of smaller numbers. Ten feet, on each side of a square, will give forty for the circumference, and a hundred for the area; but if there were fifteen feet on each side, and five at each end, they would, with the same circuit, deduct a fourth part from the area enclosed. 44. If, again, nineteen feet be extended in parallel lines, only one foot apart, they will contain no more squares than those along which the parallels shall be drawn; and yet the periphery will be of the same extent as that which encloses a hundred. Thus the further you depart from the form of a square, the greater will be the loss to the area. 45. It may therefore happen even that a smaller area may be enclosed by a greater periphery than a larger one. Such is the case in plane figures; for on hills, and in valleys, it is evident even to the untaught that there is more ground than sky.

46. Need I add that geometry raises itself still higher, so as even to ascertain the system of the world? When it demonstrates, by calculations, the regular and appointed movements of the celestial bodies, we learn that, in that system, there is nothing unordained or fortuitous; a branch of knowledge which may be sometimes of use to the orator. 47. When Pericles freed the Athenians from fear, at the time that they were alarmed by an eclipse of the sun, by explaining to them the causes of the phaenomenon; or when Sulpicius Gallus, in the army of Paulus Aemilius, made a speech on an eclipse of the moon, that the minds of the soldiers might not be terrified as by a supernatural prodigy, do they not, respectively, appear to have discharged the duty of an orator? 48. Had Nicias been possessed of such knowledge in Sicily, he would not have been confounded with similar terror, and have given over to destruction the finest of the Athenian armies; as Dion, we know, when he went to overthrow the tyranny of Dionysius, was not deterred by a similar phaenomenon.

49. Though the utility of geometry in war, however, be put out of the question, though we do not dwell upon the fact that Archimedes alone protracted the siege of Syracuse to a great extent, it is sufficient, assuredly, to establish what I assert, that numbers of questions, which it is difficult to solve by any other method, as those about the mode of dividing, about division to infinity, and about the rate of progressions, are accustomed to be solved by those geometrical demonstrations; so that if an orator has to speak (as the next book will show) on all subjects, no man, assuredly, can become a perfect orator without a knowledge of geometry.


1. Some time is also to be devoted to the actor, but only so far as the future orator requires the art of delivery; for I do not wish the boy, whom I educate for this pursuit, either to be broken to the shrillness of a woman's voice, or to repeat the tremulous tones of an old man's. 2. Neither let him imitate the vices of the drunkard, nor adapt himself to the baseness of the slave; nor let him learn to display the feelings of love, or avarice, or fear; acquirements which are not at all necessary to the orator, and which corrupt the mind, especially while it is yet tender and uninformed in early youth; for frequent imitation settles into habit. It is not even every gesture or motion that is to be adopted from the actor; for though the orator ought to regulate both to a certain degree, yet he will be far from appearing in a theatrical character, and will exhibit nothing extravagant either in his looks, or the movements of his hands, or his walk; for if there is any art used by speakers in these points, the first object of it should be that it may not appear to be art.

4. What is then the duty of the teacher as to these particulars? Let him, in the first place, correct faults of pronunciation, if there be any, so that the words of the learner may be fully expressed, and that every letter may be uttered with its proper sound. For we find inconvenience from the two great weakness or too great fullness of the sound of some letters; some, as if too harsh for us, we utter but imperfectly, or change them for others, not altogether dissimilar, but, as it were, smoother. 5. Thus λ takes the place of ρ, in which even Demosthenes found difficulty, (the nature of both which letters is the same also with us,) and when c, and similarly g, are wanting in full force, they are softened down into t and d. 6. Those niceties about the letter s, such a master will not even tolerate; nor will he allow his pupil's words to sound in his throat, or to rumble as from emptiness of the mouth; nor will he (what is utterly at variance with purity of speaking) permit him to overlay the simple sound of a word with a fuller sort of pronunciation, which the Greeks call καταπεπλασμενον: a term by which the sound of flutes is also designated, when, after the holes are stopped through which they sound the shrill notes, they give forth a bass sound through the direct outlet only.

8. The teacher will be cautious, likewise, that concluding syllables be not lost; that his pupil's speech be all of a similar character; that whenever he has to raise his voice, the effort may be that of his lungs, and not of his head; that his gesture may be suited to his voice, and his looks to his gesture. 9. He will have to take care, also, that the face of his pupil, while speaking, look straight forward; that his lips be not distorted; that no opening of the mouth immoderately distend his jaws; that his face be not turned up, or his eyes cast down too much, or his head inclined to either side. 10. The face offends in various ways; I have seen many speakers, whose eye-brows were raised at every effort of the voice; those of others I have seen contracted; and those of some even disagreeing, as they turned up one towards the top of the head, while with the other the eye itself was almost concealed. To all these matters, as we shall hereafter show, a vast deal of importance is to be attached; for nothing can please which is unbecoming.

12. The actor will also be required to teach how a narrative should be delivered; with what authority persuasion should be enforced; with what force anger may show itself; and what tone of voice is adapted to excite pity. This instruction he will give with the best effect, if he select particular passages from plays, such as are most adapted for this object, that is, such as most resemble pleadings. 13. The repetition of these passages will not only be most beneficial to pronunciation, but also highly efficient in fostering eloquence. 14. Such may be the pupil's studies while immaturity of age will not admit of anything higher; but, as soon as it shall be proper for him to read orations, and when he shall be able to perceive their beauties, then, I would say, let some attentive and skillful tutor attend him, who may not only form his style by reading, but oblige him to learn select portions of speeches by heart, and to deliver them standing, with a loud voice, and exactly as he will have to plead; so that he may consequently exercise by pronunciation both his voice and memory.

15. Nor do I think that those orators are to be blamed who have devoted some time even to the masters in the palaestra. I do not speak of those by whom part of life is spent among oil, and the rest over wine, and who have oppressed the powers of the mind by excessive attention to the body; (such characters I should wish to be as far off as possible from the pupil that I am training;) 16. but the same name is given to those by whom gesture and motion are formed; so that the arms may be properly extended; that the action of the hands may not be ungraceful or unseemly; that the attitude may not be unbecoming; that there may be no awkwardness in advancing the feet; and that the head and eyes may not be at variance with the turn of the rest of the body. 17. For no one will deny that all such particulars form a part of delivery, or will separate delivery itself from oratory; and, assuredly, the orator must not disdain to learn what he must practice, especially when this chironomia, which is, as is expressed by the word itself, the law of gesture, had its origin even in the heroic ages, and was approved by the most eminent men of Greece, even by Socrates himself; it was also regarded by Plato as a part of the qualifications of a public man, and was not omitted by Chrysippus in the directions which he wrote concerning the education of children.

18. The Lacedaemonians, we have heard, had, among their exercises, a certain kind of dance, as contributing to qualify men for war. Nor was dancing thought a disgrace to the ancient Romans; as the dance which continues to the present day, under the sanction and in the religious rites of the priests, is a proof; as is also the remark of Crassus in the third book of Cicero de Oratore, where he recommends that an orator should adopt a bold and manly action of body, not learned from the theatre and the player, but from the camp, or even from the palaestra; the observation of which discipline has descended without censure even to our time. 19. By me, however, it will not be continued beyond the years of boyhood, nor in them long; for I do not wish the gesture of an orator to be formed to resemble that of a dancer, but I would have some influence from such juvenile exercises left, so that the gracefulness communicated to us while we wore learning may secretly attend us when we are not thinking of our movements.


1. It is a common question whether, supposing all these things are to be learned, they can all be taught and acquired at the same time; for some deny that this is possible, as the mind must be confused and wearied by so many studies of different tendency for which neither the understanding, not the body, nor time itself, can suffice; and even though mature age may endure such labor, yet that of childhood ought not to be thus burdened.

2. But these reasoners do not understand how great the power of the human mind is; that mind which is so busy and active, and which directs its attention, so to speak, to every quarter, so that it cannot even confine itself to do only one thing, but bestows its force upon several, not merely in the same day, but at the same moment. 3. Do not players on the harp, for example, exert their memory, and attend to the sound of their voice, and the various inflexions of it, while, at the same time, they strike part of the strings with their right hand, and pull, stop, or let loose others with their left, while not even their foot is idle, but beats time to their playing, all these acts being done simultaneously?

4. Do not we advocates, when surprised by a sudden necessity to plead, say one thing while we are thinking of what is to follow, and while, at the very same moment, the invention of arguments, the choice of words, the arrangement of matter, gesture, delivery, look, and attitude, are necessarily objects of our attention? If all these considerations, of so varied a nature, are forced, as by a single effort, before our mental vision, why may we not divide the hours of the day among different kinds of study, especially as variety itself refreshes and recruits the mind, while, on the contrary, nothing is more annoying than to continue at one uniform labor? Accordingly writing is relieved by reading, and the tedium of reading itself is relieved by changes of subject.

8. However many things we may have done, we are yet to a certain degree fresh for that which we are going to begin. Who, on the contrary, would not be stupefied, if he were to listen to the same teacher of any art, whatever it might be, through the whole day? But by change a person will be recruited; as is the case with respect to food, by varieties of which the stomach is re-invigorated, and is fed with several sorts less unsatisfactorily than with one. Or let those objectors tell me what other mode there is of learning. Ought we to attend to the teacher of grammar only, and then to the teacher of geometry only, and cease to think, during the second course, of what we learned in the first? Should we then transfer ourselves to the musician, our previous studies being still allowed to escape us? Or while we are studying Latin, ought we to pay no attention to Greek? Or, to make an end of my questions at once, ought we to do nothing but what comes last before us?

7. Why, then, do we not give similar counsel to husbandmen, that they should not cultivate at the same time their fields and their vineyards, their olives and other trees, and that they should not bestow attention at once on their meadows, their cattle, their gardens, and their bee-hives? Why do we ourselves devote some portion of our time to our public business, some to the wants of our friends, some to our domestic accounts, some to the care of our persons, and some to our pleasures, any one of which occupations would weary us, if we pursued it without intermission? So much more easy is it to do many things one after the other, than to do one thing for a long time.

8. That boys will be unable to bear the fatigue of many studies, is by no means to be apprehended; for no age suffers less from fatigue. This may perhaps appear strange; but we may prove it by experience. 9. For minds, before they are hardened, are more ready to learn; as is proved by the fact that children, within two years after they can fairly pronounce words, speak almost the whole language, though no one incites them to learn; but for how many years does the Latin tongue resist the efforts of our purchased slaves! You may well understand, if you attempt to teach a grown up person to read, that those who do everything in their own art with excellence, are not without reason called παιδομαθεις, that is, "instructed from boyhood."

10. The temper of boys is better able to bear labor than that of men; for, as neither the falls of children, with which they are so often thrown on the ground, nor their crawling on hands and knees, nor, soon after, constant play, and running all day hither and thither, inconvenience their bodies so much as those of adults, because they are of little weight, and no burden to themselves, so their minds likewise, I conceive, suffer less from fatigue, because they exert themselves with less effort, and do not apply to study by putting any force upon themselves, but merely yield themselves to others to be formed. 11. Moreover, in addition to the other pliancy of that age, they follow their teachers, as it were, with greater confidence, and do not set themselves to measure what they have already done. Consideration about labor is as yet unknown to them; and, as we ourselves have frequently experienced, toil has less effect upon the powers than thought.

13. Nor will they ever, indeed, have more disposable time; because all improvement at this age is from bearing. When the pupil shall retire by himself to write, when he shall produce and compose from his own mind, he will then either not have leisure, or will want inclination, to commence such exercises as I have specified. 13. Since the teacher of grammar, therefore, cannot occupy the whole day, and indeed ought not to do so, lest he should disgust the mind of his pupil, to what studies can we better devote his fragmentary intervals, so to term them, of time? 14. For I would not wish the pupil to be worn out in these exercises; nor do I desire that he should sing, or accompany songs with musical notes, or descend to the minutest investigations of geometry. Nor would I make him like an actor in delivery, or like a dancing-master in gesture; though, if I did require all such qualifications, there would still be abundance of time; for the immature part of life, which is devoted to learning, is long; and I am not speaking of slow intellects 15. Why did Plato, let me ask, excel in all these branches of knowledge which I think necessary to be acquired by him who would be an orator? He did so, because, not being satisfied with the instruction which Athens could afford, or with the science of the Pythagoreans, to whom he had sailed in Italy, he went also to the priests of Egypt, and learned their mysteries.

16. We shroud our own indolence under the pretext of difficulty; for we have no real love of our work; nor is eloquence ever sought by us, because it is the most honorable and noble of attainments, or for its own sake; but we apply ourselves to labor only with mean views and for sordid gain. 17. Plenty of orators may speak in the forum, with my permission, and acquire riches also, without such accomplishments as I recommend; only may every trader in contemptible merchandise be richer than they, and may the public crier make greater profit by his voice! I would not wish to have even for a reader of this work a man who would compute what returns his studies will bring him. 18. But he who shall have conceived, as with a divine power of imagination, the very idea itself of genuine oratory, and who shall keep before his eyes true eloquence, the queen, as an eminent poet calls her, of the world, and shall seek his gain, not from the pay that he receives for his pleadings, but from his own mind, and from contemplation and knowledge, a gain which is enduring and independent of fortune, will easily prevail upon himself to devote the time, which others spend at shows, in the Campus Martius, at dice, or in idle talk, to say nothing of sleep and the prolongation of banquets, to the studies of geometry and music; and how much more pleasure will he secure from such pursuits than from unintellectual gratifications!

19. For divine providence has granted this favor to mankind, that the more honorable occupations are also the more pleasing. But the very pleasure of these reflections has carried me too far. Let what I have said, therefore, suffice concerning the studies in which a boy is to be instructed before he enters on more important occupations; the next book will commence, as it were, a new subject, and enter on the duties of the teacher of rhetoric.



1. It has been a prevalent custom (which daily gains ground more and more) for pupils to be sent to the teachers of eloquence, to the Latin teachers always, and to the Greeks sometimes, at a more advanced age than reason requires. Of this practice there are two causes: that the rhetoricians, especially our own, have relinquished a part of their duties, and that the grammarians have appropriated what does not belong to them. 2. The rhetoricians think it their business merely to declaim, and to teach the art and practice of declaiming, confining themselves, too, to deliberative and judicial subjects, (for others they despise as beneath their profession,) while the grammarians, on their part, do not deem it sufficient to have taken what has been left them, (on which account also gratitude should be accorded them,) but encroach even upon prosopopeiae and suasory speeches [suasorias. Speeches of the kind which they call deliberative, differing from controversiae, which is a term properly applied only to judicial pleadings], in which even the very greatest efforts of eloquence are displayed. 3. Hence, accordingly, it has happened, that what was the first business of the one art has become the last of the other, and that boys of an age to be employed in higher departments of study remain sunk in the lower school, and practice rhetoric under the grammarian. Thus, what is eminently ridiculous, a youth seems unfit to be sent to a teacher of declamation until he already knows how to declaim.

4. Let us assign each of these professions its due limits. Let grammar, (which, turning it into a Latin word, they have called literatura, "literature,") know its own boundaries, especially as it is so far advanced beyond the humility indicated by its name, to which humility the early grammarians restricted themselves; for, though but weak at its source, yet, having gained strength from the poets and historians, it now flows on in a full channel; since, besides the art of speaking correctly, which would otherwise be far from a comprehensive art, it has engrossed the study of almost all the highest departments of learning; 5. and let not rhetoric, to which the power of eloquence has given its name, decline its own duties, or rejoice that the task belonging to itself is appropriated by another; for while it neglects its duties, it is almost expelled from its domain. 6. I would not deny, indeed, that some of those who profess grammar, may make such progress in knowledge as to be able to teach the principles of oratory; but, when they do so, they will be discharging the duties of a rhetorician, and not their own.

7. We make it also a subject of inquiry, when a boy may be considered ripe for learning what rhetoric teaches. In which inquiry it is not to be considered of what age a boy is, but what progress he has already made in his studies. That I may not make a long discussion, I think that the question when a boy ought to be sent to the teacher of rhetoric, is best decided by the answer, when he shall be qualified. 8. But this very point depends upon the preceding subject of consideration; for if the office of the grammarian is extended even to suasory speeches, the necessity for the rhetorician will come later. If the rhetorician, however, does not shrink from the earliest duties of his profession, his attention is required even from the time when the pupil begins narrations, and produces his little exercises in praising and blaming.

9. Do we not know that it was a kind of exercise among the ancients, suitable for improvement in eloquence, for pupils to speak on theses [theses, or quaestiones infinitae, are questions or topics not circumscribed by any particulars relating to persons, places, or times; theses being thus distinguished from hypotheses], common places ["communes loci," says Turnebus. "are general disquisitions on points of morality; or questions on points of law, on which the speaker might take either the affirmative or negative side"], and other questions, (without embracing particular circumstances or persons,) on which causes, as well real as imaginary, depend? Hence it is evident how dishonorably the profession of rhetoric has abandoned that department which it held originally, and for a long time solely. 10. But what is there among those exercises, of which I have just now spoken, that does not relate both to other matters peculiar to rhetoricians, and, indisputably, to the sort of causes pleaded in courts of justice? Have we not to make statements of facts in the forum? I know not whether that department of rhetoric is not most of all in request there.

11. Are not eulogy and invective often introduced in those disputations? Do not common places, as well those which are levelled against vice, (such as were composed, we read, by Cicero,) as those in which questions are discussed generally, (such as were published by Quintus Hortensius, as, Ought we to trust to light proofs? and for witnesses and against witnesses,) mix themselves with the inmost substance of causes? 12. Those weapons are in some degree to be prepared, that we may use them whenever circumstances require. He who shall suppose that these matters do not concern the orator, will think that a statue is not begun when its limbs are cast. [See Aristotle's Rhetoric, i. 16.] Nor let any one blame this haste of mine (as some will consider it) on the supposition that I think the pupil who is to be committed to the professor of rhetoric is to be altogether withdrawn from the teachers of grammar.

13. To these also their proper time shall be allowed, nor need there be any fear that the boy will be overburdened with the lessons of two masters. His labor will not be increased, but that which was confounded under one master will be divided; and each tutor will thus be more efficient in his own province. This method, to which the Greeks still adhere, has been disregarded by the Latin rhetoricians, and, indeed, with some appearance of excuse, as there have been others to take their duty.


1. As soon therefore as a boy shall have attained such proficiency in his studies, as to be able to comprehend what we have called the first precepts of the teachers of rhetoric, he must be put under the professors of that art.

2. Of these professors the morals must first be ascertained, a point of which I proceed to treat in this part of my work not because I do not think that the same examination is to be made, and with the utmost care, in regard also to other teachers (as indeed I have shown in the preceding book,) but because the very age of the pupils makes attention to the matter still more necessary. 3. For boys are consigned to these professors when almost grown up, and continue their studies under them even after they are become men; and greater care must in consequence be adopted with regard to them, in order that the purity of the master may secure their more tender years from corruption, and his authority deter their bolder age from licentiousness. 4. Nor is it enough that he give, in himself, an example of the strictest morality, unless he regulate, also, by severity of discipline, the conduct of those who come to receive his instructions.

Let him adopt, then, above all things, the feelings of a parent towards his pupils, and consider that he succeeds to the place of those by whom the children were entrusted to him. 5. Let him neither have vices in himself, nor tolerate them in others. Let his austerity not be stern, nor his affability too easy, lest dislike arise from the one, or contempt from the other. Let him discourse frequently on what is honorable and good, for the oftener he admonishes, the more seldom will he have to chastise. Let him not be of an angry temper, and yet not a conniver at what ought to be corrected. Let him be plain in his mode of teaching, and patient of labor, but rather diligent in exacting tasks than fond of giving them of excessive length. 6. Let him reply readily to those who put questions to him, and question of his own accord those who do not. In commending the exercises of his pupils, let him be neither niggardly nor lavish; for the one quality begets dislike of labor, and the other self-complacency.

7. In amending what requires correction, let him not be harsh, and, least of all, not reproachful; for that very circumstance, that some tutors blame as if they hated, deters many young men from their proposed course of study. Let him every day say something, and even much, which, when the pupils hear, they may carry away with them, for though he may point out to them, in their course of reading, plenty of examples for their imitation, yet the living voice, as it is called, feeds the mind more nutritiously, and especially the voice of the teacher, whom his pupils, if they are but rightly instructed, both love and reverence. How much more readily we imitate those whom we like, can scarcely be expressed.

9. The liberty of standing up and showing exultation, in giving applause, as is done under most teachers, is by no means to be allowed to boys; for the approbation even of young men, when they listen to others, ought to be but temperate. Hence it will result that the pupil will depend on the judgment of the master, and will think that he has expressed properly whatever shall have been approved by him. 10. But that most mischievous politeness, as it is now termed, which is shown by students in their praise of each other's compositions, whatever be their merits, is not only unbecoming and theatrical, and foreign to strictly regulated schools, but even a most destructive enemy to study, for care and toil may well appear superfluous, when praise is ready for whatever the pupils have produced.

11. Those therefore who listen, as well as he who speaks, ought to watch the countenance of the master, for they will thus discern what is to be approved and what to be condemned; and thus power will be gained from composition, and judgment from being heard. 12. But now, eager and ready, they not only start up at every period, but dart forward, and cry out with indecorous transports. The compliment is repaid in kind, and upon such applause depends the fortune of a declamation; and hence result vanity and self-conceit, insomuch that, being elated with the tumultuous approbation of their class-fellows, they are inclined, if they receive but little praise from the master, to form an ill opinion of him. 13. But let masters, also, desire to be heard themselves with attention and modesty; for the master ought not to speak to suit the taste of his pupils, but the pupils to suit that of the master. If possible, moreover, his attention should be directed to observe what each pupil commends in his speeches, and for what reason; and he may then rejoice that what he says will give pleasure, not more on his own account than on that of his pupils who judge with correctness.

14. That mere boys should sit mixed with young men, I do not approve; for though such a man as ought to preside over their studies and conduct, may keep even the eldest of his pupils under control, yet the more tender ought to be separate from the more mature, and they should all be kept free, not merely from the guilt of licentiousness, but even from the suspicion of it. 15. This point I thought proper briefly to notice; that the master and his school should be clear of gross vice, I do not suppose it necessary to intimate. And if there is any father who would not shrink from flagrant vice in choosing a tutor for his son, let him be assured that all other rules, which I am endeavoring to lay down for the benefit of youth, are, when this consideration is disregarded, useless to him.


1. Nor is the opinion of those to be passed in silence, who, even when they think boys fit for the professor of rhetoric, imagine that he is not at once to be consigned to the most eminent, but detain him for some time under inferior teachers, with the notion that moderate ability in a master is not only better adapted for beginning instruction in art, but easier for comprehension and imitation, as well as less disdainful of undertaking the trouble of the elements. 2. On this head I think no long labor necessary to show how much better it is to be imbued with the best instructions, and how much difficulty is attendant on eradicating faults which have once gained ground, as double duty falls on succeeding masters, and the task indeed of unteaching is heavier and more important than that of teaching at first. 3. Accordingly they say that Timotheus, a famous instructor in playing the flute, was accustomed to ask as much more pay from those whom another had taught as from those who presented themselves to him in a state of ignorance.

The mistakes committed in the matter, however, are two; one, that people think inferior teachers sufficient for a time, and, from having an easily satisfied appetite, are content with their instructions; (such supineness, though deserving of reprehension, would yet he in some degree endurable, if teachers of that class taught only worse, and not less;) the other, which is even more common, that people imagine that those who have attained eminent qualifications for speaking will not descend to inferior matters, and that this is sometimes the case because they disdain to bestow attention on minuter points, and sometimes because they cannot give instruction in them.

5. For my part, I do not consider him, who is unwilling to teach little things, in the number of preceptors; but I argue that the ablest teachers can teach little things best, if they will; first, because it is likely that he who excels others in eloquence, has gained the most accurate knowledge of the means by which men attain eloquence; 6. secondly, because method, which, with the best qualified instructors, is always plainest, is of great efficacy, in teaching; and lastly, because no man rises to such a height in greater things that lesser fade entirely from his view. Unless indeed we believe that though Phidias made a Jupiter well, another might have wrought, in better style than he, the accessories to the decoration of the work; or that an orator may not know how to speak; or that an eminent physician may be unable to cure trilling ailments.

7. Is there not then, it may be asked, a certain height of eloquence too elevated for the immaturity of boyhood to comprehend it? I readily confess that there is; but the eloquent professor must also be a man of sense, not ignorant of teaching, and lowering himself to the capacity of the learner; as any fast walker, if he should happen to walk with a child, would give him his hand, relax his pace, and not go on quicker than his companion could follow. 8. What shall be said, too, if it generally happens that instructions given by the most learned are far more easy to be understood, and more perspicuous than those of others? For perspicuity is the chief virtue of eloquence, and the less ability a man has, the more he tries to raise and swell himself out, as those of short stature exalt themselves on tip-toe, and the weak use most threats. 9. As to those whose style is inflated, displaying a vitiated taste, and who are fond of sounding words, or faulty from any other mode of vicious affectation, I am convinced that they labor under the fault, not of strength, but of weakness, as bodies are swollen, not with health, but with disease, and as men who have erred from the straight road generally make stoppages. Accordingly, the less able a teacher is, the more obscure will he be.

10. It has not escaped my memory, that I said in the preceding book, (when I observed that education in schools was preferable to that at home,) that pupils commencing their studies, or but little advanced in them, devote themselves more readily to imitate their school-fellows than their master, such imitation being more easy to them. This remark may be understood by some in such a sense, that the opinion which I now advocate may appear inconsistent with that which I advanced before. 11. But such inconsistency will be far from me; for what I then said is the very best of reasons why a boy should be consigned to the best possible instructor, because even the pupils under him, being better taught than those under inferior masters, will either speak in such a manner as it may not be objectionable to imitate, or, if they commit any faults, will be immediately corrected, whereas the less learned teacher will perhaps praise even what is wrong, and cause it, by his judgment, to recommend itself to those who listen to it. 12. Let a master therefore be excellent as well in eloquence as in morals; one who, like Homer's Phoenix [Iliad, ix. 432], may teach his pupil at once to speak and to act.


I SHALL now proceed to state what I conceive to be the first duties of rhetoricians in giving instruction to their pupils, putting off for a while the consideration of what is alone called, in common language, the art of rhetoric; for to me it appears most eligible to commence with that to which the pupil has learned something similar under the grammarians.

2. Since of narrations, (besides that which we use in pleadings,) we understand that there are three kinds; the fable [or mythological subject], which is the subject of tragedies and poems, and which is remote, not merely from truth, but from the appearance of truth; the argumentum, which comedies represent, and which, though false, has a resemblance to truth; and the history, in which is contained a relation of facts; and since we have consigned poetic narratives to the grammarians, let the historical form the commencement of study under the rhetorician; a kind of narrative which, as it has more of truth, has also more of substance. 3. What appears to me the best method of narrating, I will show when I treat of the judicial part of pleading. In the meantime it will suffice to intimate that it ought not to be dry and jejune, (for what necessity would there be to bestow so much pains upon study, if it were thought sufficient to state facts without dress or decoration?) nor ought it to be erratic, and wantonly adorned with far-fetched descriptions, in which many speakers indulge with an emulation of poetic license. 4. Both these kinds of narrative are faulty, yet that which springs from poverty is worse than that which comes from exuberance.

From boys perfection of style can neither be required nor expected; but the fertile genius, fond of noble efforts, and conceiving at times a more than reasonable degree of ardor, is greatly to be preferred. Nor, if there be something of exuberance in a pupil of that age, would it at all displease me. I would even have it an object with teachers themselves to nourish minds that are still tender with more indulgence, and to allow them to be satiated, as it were, with the milk of more liberal studies. The body, which mature age may afterwards nerve, may for a time be somewhat plumper than seems desirable. 6. Hence there is hope of strength; while a child that has the outline of all his limbs exact commonly portends weakness in subsequent years. Let that age be daring, invent much, and delight in what it invents, though it be often not sufficiently severe and correct. The remedy for exuberance is easy; barrenness is incurable by any labor.

7. That temper in boys will afford me little hope in which mental effort is prematurely restrained by judgment. I like what is produced to be extremely copious, profuse even beyond the limits of propriety. Years will greatly reduce superfluity; judgment will smooth away much of it; something will be worn off, as it were, by use, if there be but metal from which something may be hewn and polished off, and such metal there will be, if we do not make the plate too thin at first, so that deep cutting may break it. 8. That I hold such opinions concerning this age, he will be less likely to wonder who shall have read what Cicero [De Orat. ii. 21] says: "I wish fecundity in a young man to give itself full scope."

Above all, therefore, and especially for boys, a dry master is to be avoided, not less than a dry soil, void of all moisture, for plants that are still tender. Under the influence of such a tutor, they at once become dwarfish, looking as it were towards the ground, and daring to aspire to nothing above every day talk. To them, leanness is in place of health, and weakness instead of judgment; and, while they think it sufficient to be free from fault, they fall into the fault of being free from all merit. Let not even maturity itself, therefore, come too fast; let not the must, while yet in the vat, become mellow, for so it will bear years, and be improved by age.

10. Nor is it improper for me, moreover, to offer this admonition; that the powers of boys sometimes sink under too great severity in correction; for they despond, and grieve, and at last hate their work, and, what is most prejudicial, while they fear every thing, they cease to attempt any thing. 11. There is a similar conviction in the minds of the cultivators of trees in the country, who think that the knife must not be applied to tender shoots, as they appear to shrink from the steel, and to be unable as yet to bear an incision.

12. A teacher ought therefore to be as agreeable as possible, that remedies, which are rough in their own nature, may be rendered soothing by gentleness of hand; he ought to praise some parts of his pupils' performances, to tolerate some, and to alter others, giving his reasons why the alterations are made; and also to make some passages clearer by adding something of his own. It will also be of service too at limes, for the master to dictate whole subjects himself, which the pupil may imitate and admire for the present as his own. 13. But if a boy's composition were so faulty as not to admit of correction, I have found him benefited whenever I told him to write on the same subject again, after it had received fresh treatment from me, observing that " he could do still better," since study is cheered by nothing more than hope.

14. Different ages, however, are to be corrected in different ways, and work is to be required and amended according to the degree of the pupil's abilities. I used to say to boys when they attempted any thing extravagant or verbose, that "I was satisfied with it for the present, but that a time would come when I should not allow them to produce compositions of such a character." Thus they were satisfied with their abilities, and yet not led to form a wrong judgment.

15. But that I may return to the point from which I digressed, I should wish narrations to be composed with the utmost possible care; for as it is of service to boys at an early age, when their speech is but just commenced, to repeat what they have heard in order to improve their faculty of speaking; (let them accordingly be made, and with very good reason, to go over their story again, and to pursue it from the middle, either backwards or forwards; but let this be done only while they are still at the knees of their teacher, and, as they can do nothing else, are beginning to connect words and things, that they may thus strengthen their memory;) so, when they shall have attained the command of pure and correct language, extemporary garrulity, without waiting for thought, or scarcely taking time to rise, is the offspring of more ostentatious boastfulness.

16. Hence arises empty exultation in ignorant parents, and in their children contempt of application, want of all modesty, a habit of speaking in the worst style, the practice of all kinds of faults, and, what has often been fatal even to great proficiency, an arrogant conceit of their own abilities. 17. There will be a proper time for acquiring facility of speech, nor will that part of my subject be lightly passed over by me; but in the mean time it will be sufficient if a boy with all his care, and with the utmost application of which that age is capable, can write something tolerable. To this practice let him accustom himself, and make it natural to him. He only will succeed in attaining the eminence at which we aim, or the point next below it, who shall learn to speak correctly before he learns to speak rapidly.

18. To narrations is added, not without advantage, the task of refuting and confirming them, which is called ανασκευη and κατασκευη. This may be done, not only with regard to fabulous subjects, and such as are related in poetry, but with regard even to records in our own annals; as if it be inquired whether it is credible that a crow settled upon the head of Valerius when he was fighting, to annoy the face and eyes of his Gallic enemy with his beak and wings [Livy, book vii; Aul. Gell. ix. 2], there will be ample matter for discussion on both sides of the question; 19. as there will also be concerning the serpent, of which Scipio is said to have been born [Aul. Gell. vii. 1], as well as about the wolf of Romulus, and the Egeria of Numa. As to the histories of the Greeks, there is generally license in them similar to that of the poets. Questions are often wont to arise, too, concerning the time or place at which a thing is said to have been done; sometimes even about a person; as Livy, for instance, is frequently in doubt, and other historians differ one from another.

20. The pupil will then proceed by degrees to higher efforts, to praise illustrious characters and censure the immoral; an exercise of manifold advantage; for the mind is thus employed about a multiplicity and variety of matters; the understanding is formed by the contemplation of good and evil. Hence is acquired, too, an extensive knowledge of things in general; and the pupil is soon furnished with examples, which are of great weight in every kind of causes, and which he will use as occasion requires. 21. Next succeeds exercise in comparison, which of two characters is the better or the worse, which, though it is managed in a similar way, yet both doubles the topics, and treats not only of the nature, but of the degrees of virtues and of vices. But on the management of praise and the contrary, as it is the third part of rhetoric, I shall give directions in the proper place.

22. Common places, (I speak of those in which, without specifying persons, it is usual to declaim against vices themselves, as against those of the adulterer, the gamester, the licentious person,) are of the very nature of speeches on trials and, if you add the name of an accused party, are real accusations. These, however, are usually altered from their treatment as general subjects to something specific, as when the subject of a declamation is a blind adulterer, a poor gamester, a licentious old man. 23. Sometimes also they have their use in a defense; for we occasionally speak in favor of luxury or licentiousness; and a procurer or parasite is sometimes defended in such a way, that we advocate, not the person, but the vice.

24. Theses, which are drawn from the comparison of things, as whether a country or city life is more desirable, and whether the merit of a lawyer or a soldier is the greater, are eminently proper and copious subjects for exercise in speaking, and contribute greatly to improvement, both in the province of persuasion and in discussions on trials. The latter of the two subjects just mentioned is handled with great copiousness by Cicero in his pleading for Muraena. 26. Such theses as the following, whether a man ought to marry, and whether political offices should be sought, belong almost wholly to the deliberative species, for, if persons be but added, they will be suasory.

26. My teachers were accustomed to prepare us for conjectural causes by a kind of exercise far from useless, and very pleasant to us, in which they desired us to investigate and show why Venus among the Lacedaemonians was represented armed [the cause is said by Lactautius, Inst. Div. i. 26, to have been the bravery exhibited by the Spartan women on a certain occasion against the Messenians, when a temple was vowed to Venus armata]; why Cupid was thought to be a boy, and winged, and armed with arrows and a torch [See Propert. ii. 9], and questions of a similar nature, in which we endeavored to ascertain the intention, or object about which there is so often a question in controversies. This may be regarded as a sort of chria.

27. That such questions as those about witnesses, whether we ought always to believe them, and concerning arguments, whether we ought to put any trust in trifling ones, belong to forensic pleading, is so manifest that some speakers [As Hortensius; see ii. 1, 11], not undistinguished in civil offices, have kept them ready in writing, and have carefully committed them to memory, that, whenever opportunity should offer, their extemporary speeches might be decorated with them, as with ornaments fitted into them. 28. By which practice, (for I cannot delay to express my judgment on the point,) they appeared to me to confess great weakness in themselves. For what can such men produce appropriate to particular causes, of which the aspect is perpetually varied and new? How can they reply to questions propounded by the opposite party? How can they at once meet objections, or interrogate a witness, when, even on topics of the commonest kind, such as are handled in most causes, they are unable to pursue the most ordinary thoughts in any words but those which they have long before prepared?

29. When they say the same things in various pleadings, their cold meat, as it were, served up over and over again, must either create loathing in the speakers themselves, or their unhappy household furniture, which, as among the ambitious poor, is worn out by being used for several different purposes, must, when detected so often by the memory of their hearers, cause a feeling of shame in them; 30. especially as there is scarcely any common place so common, which can incorporate well with any pleading, unless it be bound by some link to the peculiar question under consideration, and which will not show that it is not so much inserted as attached; 31. either because it is unlike the rest, or because it is very frequently borrowed without reason, not because it is wanted, but because it is ready; as some speakers, for the sake of sentiment, introduce the most verbose common places, whereas it is from the subject itself that sentiments ought to arise. 32. Such remarks are ornamental and useful if they spring from the question, but every remark, however beautiful, unless it tends to gain the cause, is certainly superfluous, and sometimes even noxious. But this digression has been sufficiently prolonged.

33. The praise or censure of laws requites more mature powers, such as may almost suffice for the very highest efforts. Whether this exercise partakes more of the nature of deliberative or controversial oratory, is a point that varies according to the custom and right of particular nations. Among the Greeks the proposer of laws was called to plead before the judge; among the Romans it was customary to recommend or disparage a law before the public assembly. In either case, however, few arguments, and those almost certain, are advanced; for there are but three kinds of laws, relating to sacred, public, or private rights. 34. This division has regard chiefly to the commendation of a law, as when the speaker extols it by a kind of gradation, because it is a law, because it is public, because it is made to promote the worship of the gods.

35. Points about which questions usually arise, are common to all laws; for a doubt may be started, either concerning the right of him who proposes the law, (as concerning that of Publius Clodius who was accused of not having been properly created tribune, [Clodius, being a patrician by birth, could not be made a tribune of the people, without having been first made a plebeian by adoption. Cicero maintained that his adoption had been irregular, Pro Domo, c. 13-17]) or concerning the validity of the proposal Itself, a doubt which may refer to a variety of matters, as for instance, whether the proposal has been published on three market days, or whether the law may be said to have been proposed, or to be proposed, on an improper day, or contrary to protests, or to the auspices, or in any other way at variance with legitimate proceedings; or whether it be opposed to any law still in force.

36. But such considerations do not enter into these early exercises, which are without any allusion to persons, times, or particular causes. Other points, whether treated in real or fictitious discussions, are much the same; for the fault of any law must be either in words or in matter. 37. As to words, it is questioned whether they be sufficiently expressive; or whether there is any ambiguity in them; as to matter, whether the law is consistent with itself; whether it ought to have reference to past time, or to individuals. But the most common inquiry is, whether it be proper or expedient.

38. Nor am I ignorant that of this inquiry many divisions are made by most professors; but I, under the term proper, include consistency with justice, piety, religion, and other similar virtues. The consideration of justice, however, is usually discussed with reference to more than one point; for a question may either be raised about the subject of the law, as whether it be deserving of punishment or reward, or about the measure of reward or punishment, to which an objection may be taken as well for being too great as too little. 39. Expediency, also, is sometimes determined by the nature al the measure, sometimes by the circumstances of the time. As to some laws, it becomes a question, whether they can be enforced. Nor ought students to be ignorant that laws are sometimes censured wholly, sometimes partly, as examples of both are afforded us in highly celebrated orations. 40. Nor does it escape my recollection that there are laws which are not proposed for perpetuity, but with regard to temporary honors or commands, such as the Manilian law, about which there is an oration of Cicero. But concerning these no directions can be given in this place; for they depend upon the peculiar nature of the subjects on which the discussion is raised, and not on any general consideration.

41. On such subjects did the ancients, for the most part, exercise the faculty of eloquence, borrowing their mode of argument, however, from the logicians. To speak on fictitious cases, in imitation of pleadings in the forum or in public councils, is generally allowed to have become a practice among the Greeks, about the time of Demetrius Phalereus. 42. Whether that sort of exercise was invented by him, I (as I have acknowledged also in another book) have not succeeded in discovering; nor do those who affirm most positively that he did invent it, rest their opinion on any writer of good authority; but that the Latin teachers of eloquence commenced this practice towards the end of the life of Lucius Crassus, Cicero  [De Orat. iii. 24. Concerning Plotius, see Suet. de Clar. Rhet. cap. 2; Seneca Rhet. p. 134 Bip.; Varro in fragm. p. 289 Bip.; Quintilian, xi. 3. 143] tells us; of which teachers the most eminent was Plotius.


1. But of the proper mode of declaiming I shall speak a little further on; in the mean while, as we are treating of the first rudiments of rhetoric, I should not omit, I think, to observe how much the professor would contribute to the advancement of his pupils, if, as the explanation of the poets is required from teachers of grammar, so he, in like manner, would exercise the pupils under his care in the reading of history, and even still more in that of speeches; a practice which I myself have adopted in the case of a few pupils, whose age required it, and whose parents thought it would be serviceable to them. 2. But though I then deemed it an excellent method, two circumstances were obstructions to the practice of it; that long custom had established a different mode of teaching and that they were mostly full-grown youths, who did not require that exercise, that were forming themselves on my model.

3. But though I should make a new discovery ever so late, I should not be ashamed to recommend it for the future. I know, however, that this is now done among the Greeks, but chiefly by assistant-masters, since the time would seem hardly sufficient, if the professors were always to lecture to each pupil as he read. 4. Such lecturing, indeed, as is given, that boys may follow the writing of an author easily and distinctly with their eyes, and such even as explains the meaning of every word, at all uncommon, that occurs, is to be regarded as far below the profession of a teacher of rhetoric.

5. But to point out the beauties of authors, and, if occasion ever present itself, their faults, is eminently consistent with that profession and engagement, by which he offers himself to the public as a master of eloquence, especially as I do not require such toil from teachers, that they should call their pupils to their lap, and labor at the reading of whatever book each of them may fancy. 6. For to me it seems easier, as well as far more advantageous, that the master, after calling for silence, should appoint some one pupil to read, (and it will be best that this duty should be imposed on them by turns,) that they may thus accustom themselves to clear pronunciation; 7. and then, after explaining the cause for which the oration was composed, (for so that which is said will be better understood,) that he should leave nothing unnoticed which is important to be remarked, either in the thought or the language; that he should observe what method is adopted in the exordium for conciliating the judge; what clearness, brevity, and apparent sincerity, is displayed in the statement of facts; what design there is in certain passages, and what well concealed artifice; (for that is the only true art in pleading which cannot be perceived except by a skillful pleader;) 8. what judgment appears in the division of the matter; how subtle and urgent is the argumentation; with what force the speaker excites, with what amenity he soothes: what severity is shown in his invectives, what urbanity in his jests; how he commands the feelings, forces a way into the understanding, and makes the opinions of the judges coincide with what he asserts. 9. In regard to the style, too, he should notice any expression that is peculiarly appropriate, elegant, or sublime; when the amplification deserves praise; what quality is opposed to it, what phrases are happily metaphorical, what figures of speech are used, what part of the composition is smooth and polished, and yet manly and vigorous.

10. Nor is it without advantage, indeed, that inelegant and faulty speeches, yet such as many, from depravity of taste, would admire, should be read before boys, and that it should be shown how many expressions in them are inappropriate, obscure, tumid, low, mean, affected, or effeminate; expressions which, however, are not only extolled by many readers, but, what is worse, are extolled for the very reason that they are vicious, 11. for straight-forward language, naturally expressed, seems to some of us to have nothing of genius; but whatever departs, in any way, from the common course, we admire as something exquisite; as, with some persons, more regard is shown for figures that are distorted, and in any respect monstrous, than for such as have lost none of the advantages of ordinary conformation. 12. Some, too, who are attracted by appearance, think that there is more beauty in men who are depilated and smooth, who dress their locks, hot from the curling-irons, with pins, and who are radiant with a complexion not their own, than unsophisticated nature can give; as if beauty of person could be thought to spring from corruption of manners.

l3. Nor will the preceptor be under the obligation merely to teach these things, but frequently to ask questions upon them, and try the judgment of his pupils. Thus carelessness will not come upon them while they listen, nor will the instructions that shall be given fail to enter their ears; and they will at the same time be conducted to the end which is sought in this exercise, namely that they themselves may conceive and understand. For what object have we in teaching them, but that they may not always require to be taught?

14. I will venture to say that this sort of diligent exercise will contribute more to the improvement of students than all the treatises of all the rhetoricians that ever wrote; which doubtless, however, are of considerable use, but their scope is more general; and how indeed can they go into all kinds of questions that arise almost every day? 15. So, though certain general precepts are given in the military art, it will yet be of far more advantage to know what plan any leader has adopted wisely or imprudently, and in what place or at what time; for in almost every art precepts are of much less avail than practical experiments. 16. Shall a teacher declaim that he may be a model to his hearers, and will not Cicero and Demosthenes, if read, profit them more? Shall a pupil if he commits faults in declaiming, be corrected before the rest, and will it not be more serviceable to him to correct the speech of another? Indisputably; and even more agreeable; for every one prefers that others' faults should be blamed rather than his own. 17. Nor are there wanting more arguments for me to offer; but the advantage of this plan can escape the observation of no one; and I wish that there may not be so much unwillingness to adopt it as there will be pleasure in having adopted it.

18. If this method be followed there will remain a question not very difficult to answer, which is, what authors ought to be read by beginners? Some have recommended inferior writers, as they thought them easier of comprehension; others have advocated the more florid kind of writers, as being better adapted to nourish the minds of the young. 19. For my part, I would have the best authors commenced at once, and read always; but I would choose the clearest in style, and most intelligible; recommending Livy, for instance, to be read by boys rather than Sallust, who, however, is the greater historian, but to understand him there is need of some proficiency. 20. Cicero, as it seems to me, is agreeable even to beginners, and sufficiently intelligible, and may not only profit, but even be loved; and next to Cicero, (as Livy advises,) such authors as most resemble Cicero.

21. There are two points in style on which I think that the greatest caution should be used in respect to boys: one is that no master, from being too much an admirer of antiquity, should allow them to harden, as it were, in the reading of the Gracchi, Cato, and other like authors; for they would thus become uncouth and dry; since they cannot, as yet, understand their force of thought, and, content with adopting their style, which, at the time it was written, was doubtless excellent, but is quite unsuitable to our day, they will appear to themselves to resemble those eminent men. 22. The other point, which is the opposite of the former, is, lest, being captivated with the flowers of modern affectation, they should be so seduced by a corrupt kind of pleasure, as to love that luscious manner of writing which is the more agreeable to the minds of youth in proportion as it has more affinity with them.

23. When their taste is formed, however, and out of danger of being corrupted, I should recommend them to read not only the ancients, (from whom if a solid and manly force of thought be adopted, while the rust of a rude age is cleared off, our present style will receive additional grace,) but also the writers of the present day, in whom there is much merit. 24. For nature has not condemned us to stupidity, but we ourselves have changed our mode of speaking, and have indulged our fancies more than we ought; and thus the ancients did not excel us so much in genius as in severity of manner. It will be possible, therefore, to select from the moderns many qualities for imitation, but care must be taken that they be not contaminated with other qualities with which they are mixed. Yet that there have been recently, and are now, many writers whom we may imitate entirely, I would not only allow, (for why should I not?) but even affirm. 26. But who they are it is not for everybody to decide. We may even err with greater safety in regard to the ancients; and I would therefore defer the reading of the moderns, that imitation may not go before judgment.


1. There has been also a diversity of practice among teachers in the following respect. Some of them, not confining themselves to giving directions as to the division of any subject which they assigned their pupils for declamation, developed it more fully by speaking on it themselves, and amplified it not only with proofs but with appeals to the feelings. 2. Others, giving merely the first outlines, expatiated after the declamations were composed, on whatever points each pupil had omitted, and polished some passages with no less care than they would have used if they had themselves been rising to speak in public.

Both methods are beneficial; and, therefore, for my own part, I give no distinction to either of them above the other; but, if it should be necessary to follow only one of the two, it will be of greater service to point out the right way at first, than to recall those who have gone astray from their errors; 3. first, because to the subsequent emendation they merely listen, but the preliminary division they carry to their meditation and their composition; and, secondly, because they more willingly attend to one who gives directions than to one who finds faults. Whatever pupils, too, are of a high spirit, are apt, especially in the present state of manners, to be angry at admonition, and offer silent resistance to it. 4. Not that faults are therefore to be less openly corrected; for regard is to be had to the other pupils, who will think that whatever the master has not amended is right.

But both methods should be united, and used as occasion may require. To beginners should be given matter designed, as it were, beforehand, in proportion to the abilities of each. But when they shall appear to have formed themselves sufficiently on their model, a few brief directions may be given them, following which, they may advance by their own strength without any support. 6. It is proper that they should sometimes be left to themselves, lest, from the bad habit of being always led by the efforts of others, they should lose all capacity of attempting and producing anything for themselves. But when they seem to judge pretty accurately of what ought to be said, the labor of the teacher is almost at an end; though, should they still commit errors, they must be again put under a guide. 7. Something of this kind we see birds practice, which divide food, collected in their beaks, among their tender and helpless young ones; but, when they seem sufficiently grown, teach them, by degrees, to venture out of the nest, and flutter round their place of abode, themselves leading the way; and at last leave their strength, when properly tried, to the open sky and their own self-confidence. [Valerius Flaccus, vii. 375.]


1. One change, I think, should certainly be made in what is customary with regard to the age of which we are speaking. Pupils should not be obliged to learn by heart what they have composed, and to repeat it, as is usual, on a certain day, a task which it is fathers that principally exact, thinking that their children then only study when they repeat frequent declamations; whereas proficiency depends chiefly on the diligent cultivation of style. 2. For though I would wish boys to compose, and to spend much time in that employment, yet, as to learning by heart, I would rather recommend for that purpose select passages from orations or histories, or any other sort of writings deserving of such attention.

3. The memory will thus be more efficiently exercised in mastering what is another's than what is their own; and those who shall have been practiced in this more difficult kind of labor, will fix in their minds, without trouble, what they themselves have composed, as being more familiar to them; they will also accustom themselves to the best compositions, and they will always have in their memory something which they may imitate, and will, even without being aware, re-produce that fashion of style which they have deeply impressed upon their minds. 4. They will have at command, moreover, an abundance of the best words, phrases, and figures, not sought for the occasion, but offering themselves spontaneously, as it were, from a store treasured within them. To this is added the power of quoting the happy expressions of any author, which is agreeable in common conversation, and useful in pleading; for phrases which are not coined for the sake of the cause in hand have the greater weight, and often gain us more applause than if they were our own.

5. Yet pupils should sometimes be permitted to recite what they themselves have written, that they may reap the full reward of their labor from that kind of applause which is most desired. This permission will most properly be granted when they have produced something more polished than ordinary, that they may thus be presented with some return for their study, and rejoice that they have deserved to recite their composition.


1. It is generally, and not without reason, regarded as an excellent quality in a master to observe accurately the differences of ability in those whom he has undertaken to instruct, and to ascertain in what direction the nature of each particularly inclines him; for there is in talent an incredible variety; nor are the forms of the mind fewer than those of the body. 2. This may be understood even from orators themselves, who differ so much from each other in their style of speaking, that no one is like another, though most of them have set themselves to imitate those whom they admired. 3. It has also been thought advantageous by most teachers to instruct each pupil in such a manner as to cherish by learning the good qualities inherited from nature, so that the powers may be assisted in their progress towards the object to which they chiefly direct themselves.

As a master of palaestric exercises, when he enters a gymnasium full of boys, is able, after trying their strength and comprehension in every possible way, to decide for what kind of exercise each ought to be trained; 4. so a teacher of eloquence, they say, when he has clearly observed which boy's genius delights most in a concise and polished manner of speaking, and which in a spirited, or grave, or smooth, or rough, or brilliant, or elegant one, will so accommodate his instructions to each, that he will be advanced in that department in which he shows most ability; 5. because nature attains far greater power when seconded by culture; and he that is led contrary to nature, cannot make due progress in the studies for which he is unfit, and makes those talents, for the exercise of which he seemed born, weaker by neglecting to cultivate them.

6. This opinion seems to me (for to him that follows reason there is free exercise of judgment even in opposition to received persuasions) just only in part. To distinguish peculiarities of talent is absolutely necessary; and to make choice of particular studies to suit them, is what no man would discountenance. 7. For one youth will be fitter for the study of history than another; one will be qualified for writing poetry, another for the study of law, and some perhaps fit only to be sent into the fields. The teacher of rhetoric will decide in accordance with these peculiarities, just as the master of the palaestra will make one of his pupils a runner, another a boxer, another a wrestler, or fit him for any other of the exercises that are practised at the sacred games.

8. But he who is destined for public speaking must strive to excel, not merely in one accomplishment, but in all the accomplishments that are requisite for that art, even though some of them may seem too difficult for him when he is learning them; for instruction would be altogether superfluous if the natural state of the mind were sufficient. 9. If a pupil that is vitiated in taste, and turgid in his style, as many are, is put under our care, shall we allow him to go on in his own way? Him that is dry and jejune in his manner, shall we not nourish, and, as it were, clothe? For if it be necessary to prune something away from certain pupils, why should it not be allowable to add something to others?

10. Yet I would not fight against nature; for I do not think that any good quality, which is innate, should be detracted, but that whatever is inactive or deficient should be invigorated or supplied. Was that famous teacher Isocrates, whose writings are not stronger proofs that he spoke well, than his scholars that he taught well, inclined, when he formed such an opinion of Ephorus and Theopompus as to say that "the one wanted the rein and the other the spur," [see Cic. de Orat. iii. 9; Brut. c. 56; also Quintil. x. 1, 74] to think that the slowness in the dull, and the ardor in the more impetuous, were to be fostered by education? On the contrary, he thought that the qualities of each ought to be mixed with those of the other. 12. We must so far accommodate ourselves, however, to feeble intellects, that they may be trained only to that to which nature invites them; for thus they will do with more success the only thing which they can do.

But if richer material fall into our hands, from which we justly conceive hopes of a true orator, no rhetorical excellence must be left unstudied. 13. For though such a genius be more inclined, as indeed it must be, to the exercise of certain powers, yet it will not be averse to that of others, and will render them, by study, equal to those in which it naturally excelled; just as the skillful trainer in bodily exercise, (that I may adhere to my former illustration,) will not, if he undertakes to form a pancratiast, teach him to strike with his fist or his heel only, or instruct him merely in wrestling, or only in certain artifices of wrestling, but will practice him in everything pertaining to the pancratiastic art.

There may perhaps be some pupil unequal to some of these exercises. He must then apply chiefly to that in which he can succeed. 14. For two things are especially to be avoided; one, to attempt what cannot be accomplished; and the other, to divert a pupil from what he does well to something else for which he is less qualified. But if he be capable of instruction, the tutor, like Nicostratus whom we, when young, knew at an advanced age, will bring to bear upon him every art of instruction alike, and render him invincible, as Nicostratus was in wrestling and boxing [a pancratiast and wrestler. See Pausan. v. 21], for success in both of which contests he was crowned on the same day. 15. How much more must such training, indeed, be pursued by the teacher of the future orator! For it is not enough that he should speak concisely, or artfully, or vehemently, any more than for a singing master to excel in acute, or middle, or grave tones only, or even in particular subdivisions of them: since eloquence is, like a harp, not perfect, unless, with all its strings stretched, it be in unison from the highest to the lowest note.


1. Having spoken thus fully concerning the duties of teachers, I give pupils, for the present, only this one admonition, that they are to love their tutors not less than their studies, and to regard them as parents, not indeed of their bodies, but of their minds. 2. Such affection contributes greatly to improvement, for pupils, under its influence, will not only listen with pleasure, but will believe what is taught them, and will desire to resemble their instructors. They will come together, in assembling for school, with pleasure and cheerfulness; they will not be angry when corrected, and will be delighted when praised; and they will strive, by their devotion to study, to become as dear as possible to the master. 8. For as it is the duty of preceptors to teach, so it is that of pupils to show themselves teachable; neither of these duties, else, will be of avail without the other. And as the generation of man is effected by both parents, and as you will in vain scatter seed, unless the furrowed ground, previously softened, cherish it, so neither can eloquence come to its growth unless by mutual agreement between him who communicates and him who receives.


1. When the pupil has been well instructed, and sufficiently exercised, in these preliminary studies, which are not in themselves inconsiderable, but members and portions, as it were, of higher branches of learning, the time will have nearly arrived for entering on deliberative and judicial subjects. But before I proceed to speak of those matters, I must say a few words on the art of declamation, which, though the most recently invented of all exercises, is indeed by far the most useful. 2. For it comprehends within itself all those exercises of which I have been treating, and presents us with a very close resemblance to reality; and it has been so much adopted, accordingly, that it is thought by many sufficient of itself to form oratory, since no excellence in continued speaking can be specified, which is not found in this prelude to speaking.

3. The practice however has so degenerated through the fault of the teachers, that the license and ignorance of declaimers have been among the chief causes that have corrupted eloquence. But of that which is good by nature we may surely make a good use. 4. Let therefore the subjects themselves, which shall be imagined, be as like as possible to truth; and let declamations to the utmost extent that is practicable, imitate those pleadings for which they were introduced as a preparation. 5. For as to magicians, and the pestilence, and oracles, [the 326th declamation of those called Quintilian's: A people suffering from pestilence sent a deputy in consult an oracle about a remedy; the answer given him was that he must sacrifice his own son. On his return he communicated the oracle
to his son, but concealed it from the public authorities, telling them that they had to perform certain sacred rites. When the rites were finished, the pestilence did not abate; and the son then put himself to death. After the pestilence had subsided, the father was accused of treason to the state. See also Declamat. 384, and the 19th and 43rd of those ascribed to Calphurnius Flaccus]
and step-mothers more cruel than those of tragedy, and other subjects more imaginary than these, we shall in vain seek them among sponsions and interdicts [law terms; sponsio was when a litigant engaged to pay a certain sum of money if he lost the cause; an interdict was when the praetor ordered or forbade anything to be done, chiefly in regard to property]. What, then, it may be said, shall we never suffer students to handle such topics as are above belief, and (to say the truth) poetical, so that they may expatiate and exult in their subject, and swell forth as it were into full body?

6. It would indeed be best not to suffer them; but at least let not the subjects, if grand and turgid, appear also, to him who regards them with severe judgment, foolish and ridiculous; so that, if we must grant the use of such topics, let the declaimer swell himself occasionally to the full, provided he understands that, as four-footed animals, when they have been blown with green fodder, are cured by losing blood, and thus return to food suited to maintain their strength, so must his turgidity be diminished, and whatever corrupt humors he has contracted be discharged, if he wishes to be healthy and strong; for otherwise his empty swelling will be hampered at the first attempt at any real pleading.

7. Those, assuredly, who think that the whole exercise of declaiming is altogether different from forensic pleading, do not see even the reason for which that exercise was instituted. 8. For, if it is no preparation for the forum, it is merely like theatrical ostentation, or insane raving. To what purpose is it to instruct a judge, who has no existence? To state a case that all know to be fictitious? To bring proofs of a point on which no man will pronounce sentence? This indeed is nothing more than trifling; but how ridiculous is it to excite our feelings, and to work upon an audience with anger and sorrow, unless we are preparing ourselves by imitations of battle for serious contests and a regular field?

9. Will there then be no difference, it may be asked, between the mode of speaking at the bar, and mere exercise in declamation? I answer, that if we speak for the sake of improvement, there will be no difference. I wish, too, that it were made a part of the exercise to use names; that causes more complicated, and requiring longer pleadings, were invented; that we were less afraid of words in daily use; and that we were in the habit of mingling jests with our declamation; all which points, however we may have been practiced in the schools in other respects, find us novices at the bar.

10. But even if a declamation be composed merely for display, we ought surely to exert our voice in some degree to please the audience. For even in those oratorical compositions, which are doubtless based in some degree upon truth, but are adapted to please the multitude, (such as are the panegyrics which we read, and all that epideictic kind of eloquence,) it is allowable to use great elegance, and not only to acknowledge the efforts of art, (which ought generally to be concealed in forensic pleadings,) but to display it to those who are called together for the purpose of witnessing it. 12. Declamation, therefore, as it is an imitation of real pleadings and deliberations, ought closely to resemble reality, but, as it carries with it something of ostentation, to clothe itself in a certain elegance. 13. Such is the practice of actors, who do not pronounce exactly as we speak in common conversation, for such pronunciation would be devoid of art; nor do they depart far from nature, as by such a fault imitation would be destroyed; but they exalt the simplicity of familiar discourse with a certain scenic grace.

14. However some inconveniences will attend us from the nature of the subjects which we have imagined, especially as many particulars in them are left uncertain, which we settle as suits our purpose, as age, fortune, children, parents, strength, laws, and manners of cities; and other things of a similar kind. 15. Sometimes, too, we draw arguments from the very faults of the imaginary causes. But on each of these points we shall speak in its proper place. For though the whole object of the work intended by us has regard to the formation of an orator, yet, lest students may think anything wanting, we shall not omit, in passing, whatever may occur that fairly relates to the teaching of the schools.


1. From this point, then, I am to enter upon that portion of the art with which those who have omitted the preceding portions usually commence. I see, however, that some will oppose me at the very threshold; men who think that eloquence has no need of rules of this kind, and who, satisfied with their own natural ability, and the common methods of teaching and exercise in the schools, even ridicule my diligence; following the example of certain professors of great reputation. It was one of those characters, I believe, who, being asked what a figure and what a thought was, answered that "he did not know, but that, if it had any relation to his subject, it would be found in his declamation." 2. Another of them replied to a person who asked him "whether he was a follower of Theodorus or Apollodorus," [Theodorus and Apollodorus were well-known rhetoricians, often mentioned by Quintilian, and leaders of parties] "I am a prize fighter." Nor could he indeed have escaped an avowal of his ignorance with greater wit. But such men, as they have attained eminent repute through the goodness of their natural powers, and have uttered many things even worthy of remembrance, have had very many imitators that resemble them in negligence, but very few that approach them in ability.

3. They make it their boast that they speak from impulse, and merely exert their natural powers; and say that there is no need of proofs or arrangement in fictitious subjects, but only of grand thoughts, to hear which the auditory will be crowded, and of which the best are the offspring of venturesomeness. 4. In meditation, also, as they use no method, they either wait, often for some days, looking at the ceiling for some great thought that may spontaneously present itself, or, exciting themselves with inarticulate sounds, as with a trumpet, they adapt the wildest gestures of body, not to the utterance, but to the excogitation of words.

5. Some, before they have conceived any thoughts, fix upon certain heads, under which something eloquent is to be introduced; but, after modulating their words to themselves, aloud and for a long time, they desert their proposed arrangement, from despairing of the possibility of forming any connection, and then turn to one train of ideas, and again to another, all equally common and hackneyed. 6. Those however who seem to have most method, do not bestow their efforts on fictitious causes, but on common topics, in which they do not direct their view to any certain object, but throw out detached thoughts as they occur to them. 7. Hence it happens that their speech, being unconnected and made up of different pieces, cannot hang together, but is like the note-books of boys, in which they enter promiscuously whatever has been commended in the declamations of others. Yet they sometimes strike out fine sentiments and good thoughts (for so indeed they are accustomed to boast); but barbarians and slaves do the same; and, if this be sufficient, there is no art at all in eloquence


1. I must not forbear to acknowledge, however, that people in general adopt the notion that the unlearned appear to speak with more force than the learned. But this opinion has its origin chiefly in the mistake of those who judge erroneously, and who think that what has no art has the more energy; just as if they should conceive it a greater proof of strength to break through a door than to open it, to rupture a knot than to untie it, to drag an animal than to lead it. 2. By such persons a gladiator, who rushes to battle without any knowledge of arms, and a wrestler, who struggles with the whole force of his body to effect that which he has once attempted, is called so much the braver; though the latter is often laid prostrate by his own strength, and the other, however violent his assault, is withstood by a gentle turn of his adversary's wrist.

3. But there are some things concerning this point that very naturally deceive the unskillful; for division, though it is of great consequence in pleadings, diminishes the appearance of strength; what is rough is imagined more bulky than what is polished; and objects when scattered are thought more numerous than when they are ranged in order.

4. There is also a certain affinity between particular excellences and faults, in consequence of which a railer passes for a free speaker, a rash for a bold one, a prolix for a copious one. But an ignorant pleader rails too openly and too frequently, to the peril of the party whose cause he has undertaken, and often to his own. 6. Yet this practice attracts the notice of people to him, because they readily listen to what they would not themselves utter.

Such a speaker, too, is far from avoiding that venturesomeness which lies in mere expression, and makes desperate efforts; whence it may happen that he who is always seeking something extravagant, may sometimes find something great; but it happens only seldom, and does not compensate for undoubted faults.

6. It is on this account that unlearned speakers seem sometimes to have greater copiousness of language, because they pour forth every thing; while the learned use selection and moderation. Besides, unlearned pleaders seldom adhere to the object of proving what they have asserted; by this means they avoid what appears to judges of bad taste the dryness of questions and arguments, and seek nothing else but matter in which they may please the ears of the court with senseless gratifications.

7. Their fine sentiments themselves, too, at which alone they aim, are more striking when all around them is poor and mean; as lights are most brilliant, not amidst shades as Cicero says [De Orat. iii. 26], but amidst utter darkness. Let such speakers therefore be called as ingenious as the world pleases, provided it be granted that a man of real eloquence would receive the praise given to them as an insult.

8. Still it must be allowed that learning does take away something, as the file takes something from rough metal, the whetstone from blunt instruments, and age from wine; but it takes away what is faulty; and that which learning has polished is less only because it is better.

9. But such pleaders try by their delivery to gain the reputation of speaking with energy; for they bawl on every occasion and bellow out every thing with uplifted hand, as they call it, raging like madmen with incessant action, panting and swaggering, and with every kind of gesture and movement of the head. 10. To clap the hands together, to stamp the foot on the ground, to strike the thigh, the breast, and the forehead with the hand, makes a wonderful impression on an audience of the lower order [mire ad pullatum circulum facit. The color or dirt of the toga, and still more of the tunica, which many of the poor wore without anything over it, characterizes a multitude of the lower and uneducated class of people. So Plin. Ep. vii. 17: lllos quoque sordidos et pullatos reveremur], while the polished speaker, as he knows how to temper, to vary, and to arrange the several parts of his speech, so in delivery he knows how to adapt his action to every variety of complexion in what he utters; and, if any rule appears to him deserving of constant attention, it would be that he should prefer always to be and to seem modest. But the other sort of speakers call that force which ought rather to be called violence.

11. But we may at times see not only pleaders, but, what is far more disgraceful, teachers, who, after having had some short practice in speaking, abandon all method and indulge in every kind of irregularity as inclination prompts them, and call those who have paid more regard to learning than themselves, foolish, lifeless, timid, weak, and whatever other epithet of reproach occurs to them. 12. Let me then congratulate them as having become eloquent without labor, without method, without study; but let me, as I have long withdrawn from the duties of teaching and of speaking in the forum, because I thought it most honorable to terminate my career while my services were still desired, console my leisure in meditating and composing precepts which I trust will be of use to young men of ability, and which, I am sure, are a pleasure to myself.


1. But let no man require from me such a system of precepts as is laid down by most authors of books of rules, a system in which I should have to make certain laws, fixed by immutable necessity, for all students of eloquence, commencing with the proemium, and what must be the character of it, saying that the statement of facts must come next, and what rule must be observed in stating them; that after this must come the proposition, or as some have preferred to call it, the excursion; and then that there must be a certain order of questions; adding also other precepts, which some speakers observe as if it were unlawful to do otherwise, and as if they were acting under orders; 2. for rhetoric would be a very easy and small matter, if it could be included in one short body of rules, but rules must generally be altered to suit the nature of each individual case, the time, the occasion, and necessity itself; consequently, one great quality in an orator is discretion, because he must turn his thoughts in various directions, according to the different bearings of his subject.

3. What if you should direct a general, that, whenever he draws up his troops for battle, he must range his front in line, extend his wings to the right and left, and station his cavalry to defend his flanks? Such a method will perhaps be the best, as often as it is practicable; but it will be subject to alteration from the nature of the ground, if a hill come in the way, if a river interpose, if obstruction be caused by declivities, woods, or any other obstacles: 4. the character of the enemy, too, may make a change necessary, or the nature of the contest in which he has to engage; and he will have to fight, sometimes with his troops in extended line, sometimes in the form of wedges, and to employ, sometimes his auxiliaries, and sometimes his own legions; and sometimes it will be of advantage to turn his back in pretended flight.

5. In like manner, whether an exordium be necessary or superfluous, whether it should be short or long, whether it should be wholly addressed to the judge, or, by the aid of some figure of speech, directed occasionally to others, whether the statement of facts should be concise or copious, continuous or broken, in the order of events or in any other, the nature of the causes themselves must show. 6. The case is the same with regard to the order of examination, since, in the same cause, one question may often be of advantage to one side, and another question to the other, to be asked first; for the precepts of oratory are not established by laws or public decrees, but whatever is contained in them was discovered by expediency. 7. Yet I shall not deny that it is in general of service to attend to rules, or I should not write any; but if expediency shall suggest any thing at variance with them, we shall have to follow it deserting the authority of teachers.

8. For my part I shall, above all things.

Direct, enjoin, and o'er and o'er repeat,
[A verse from Virgil, Aen. iii. 436]

that an orator, in all his pleadings, should keep two things in view, what is becoming, and what is expedient; but it is frequently expedient, and sometimes becoming, to make some deviations from the regular and settled order, as, in statues and pictures, we see the dress, look, and attitude, varied. 8. In a statue, exactly upright, there is but very little gracefulness, for the face will look straight forward, the arms hang down, the feet will be joined, and the whole figure, from top to toe, will be rigidity itself; but a gentle bend, or, to use the expression, motion of the body, gives a certain animation to figures. Accordingly, the hands are not always placed in the same position, and a thousand varieties are given to the countenance.

10. Some figures are in a running or rushing posture, some are seated or reclining, some are uncovered, and others veiled, some partake of both conditions. What is more distorted and elaborate than the Discobolus of Myron? [See Plin. H. N. xxxiv. 19. Lucian Philopseud. vol. vii. p. 268.
ed. Bip.]
Yet if any one should find fault with that figure for not being upright, would he not prove himself void of all understanding of the art, in which the very novelty and difficulty of the execution is what is most deserving of praise? 11. Such graces and charms rhetorical figures afford, both such as are in the thoughts and such as lie in words, for they depart in some degree from the right line, and exhibit the merit of deviation from common practice.

12. The whole face is generally represented in a painting, yet Apelles painted the figure of Antigonus with only one side of his face towards the spectator, that its disfigurement from the loss of an eye might be concealed. Are not some things, in like manner, to be concealed in speaking, whether, it may be, because they ought not to be told, or because they cannot be expressed as they deserve? 13. It was in this way that Timanthes, a painter, I believe, of Cythnus [see Plin. H. N. xxxv. 36; Cic. Orat. c. 22; Val. Max. viii. 11, ext. But it has been justly observed that the painter took the hint from Euripides, Iphig. Aul. 1550. What Euripides says is, that "Agamemnon, when he saw Iphigenia going to be sacrificed, uttered a groan, and, turning away his head, shed tears, veiling his face with his robe"], acted, in the picture by which he carried off the prize from Colotes, of Teium; for when, at the sacrifice of Iphigenia, he had represented Calchas looking sorrowful, Ulysses more sorrowful, and had given to Menelaus the utmost grief that his art could depict, not knowing, as his power of representing feeling was exhausted, how he could fitly paint the countenance of the father, he threw a veil over his head, and left his grief to be estimated by the spectator from his own heart.

14. To this device is not the remark of Sallust somewhat similar, For I think it better to say nothing concerning Carthage, than to say but little? For these reasons it has always been customary with me, to bind myself as little as possible to rules which the Greeks call καθολικα, and which we, translating the word as well as we can, term universalia or perpetualia, "general" or "constant;" for rules are rarely found of such a nature, that they may not be shaken in some part, or wholly overthrown.

But of rules I shall speak more fully, and of each in its own place. 15. In the mean time, I would not have young men think themselves sufficiently accomplished, if they have learned by art some one of those little books on rhetoric, which are commonly handed about, and fancy that they are thus safe under the decrees of theory. The art of speaking depends on great labor, constant study, varied exercise, repeated trials, the deepest sagacity, and the readiest judgment. 16. But it is assisted by rules, provided that they point out a fair road, and not one single wheel-rut, from which he who thinks it unlawful to decline, must be contented with the slow progress of those who walk on ropes.

Accordingly, we often quit the main road, (which has been formed perhaps by the labor of an army,) being attracted by a shorter path; or if bridges, broken down by torrents, have intersected the direct way, we are compelled to go round about; and if the gate be stopped up by flames, we shall have to force a way through the wall. 17. The work of eloquence is extensive and of infinite variety, presenting something new almost daily; nor will all that is possible ever have been said of it. But the precepts which have been transmitted to us I will endeavor to set forth, considering, at the same time, which of them are the most valuable, whether anything in them seems likely to be changed for the better, and whether any additions may be made to them, or anything taken from them.


1. Some who have translated ρητορικη from Greek into Latin, have called it ars oratoria and oratrix. I would not deprive those writers of their due praise, for endeavoring to add to the copiousness of the Latin language, but all Greek words do not obey our will, in attempting to render them from the Greek, as all our words, in like manner, do not obey that of the Greeks, when they try to express something of ours in their own tongue. 3. This translation is not less harsh than the essentia and entia of Flavius [it is probable that he is the same person whom writers in general call Papirius Fabianus, a contemporary of Seneca, a philosopher well acquainted with the nature of things, as he is called by Plin. H. N. xxxvi. 24. But from Sen. Ep. 58, it appears, according to the emendation of Muretus, now generally adopted, that Cicero had previously used the word], for the Greek ουσια: nor is it indeed exact, for oratoria will be taken in the same sense as elocutoria, oratrix as elocutrix, but the word rhetorice, of which we are speaking, is the same sort of word as eloquentia, and it is doubtless used in two senses by the Greeks.

3. In one acceptation it is an adjective, ars rhetorica, as navis piratica: in the other a substantive, like philosophia or amicitia. We wish it now to have the signification of a substantive, just as γραμματικη is rendered by the substantive literatura, not by literatrix, which would be similar to oratrix, nor by literatoria, which would be similar to oratoria; but for the word rhetorice, no equivalent Latin word has been found. 4. Let us not, however, dispute about the use of it, especially as we must adopt many other Greek words; for if I may use the terms physicus, musicus, geometres, I shall offer no unseemly violence to them by attempting to turn them into Latin; and since Cicero himself uses a Greek title for the books which he first wrote upon the art, we certainly need be under no apprehension of appearing to have rashly trusted the greatest of orators as to the name of his own art.

Rhetoric, then, (for we shall henceforth use this term without dread of sarcastic objections,) will be best divided, in my opinion, in such a manner, that we may speak first of the art, next of the artist, and then of the work. The art will be that which ought to be attained by study, and is the knowledge how to speak well. The artificer is he who has thoroughly acquired the art, that is, the orator, whose business is to speak well. The work is what is achieved by the artificer, that is, good speaking. All these are to be considered under special heads; but of the particulars that are to follow, I shall speak in their several places; at present I shall proceed to consider what is to be said on the first general head.


1. First of all, then, we have to consider what rhetoric is. It is, indeed, defined in various ways; but its definition gives rise chiefly to two considerations, for the dispute is, in general, either concerning the quality of the thing itself, or concerning the comprehension of the terms in which it is defined. The first and chief difference of opinion on the subject is, that some think it possible even for bad men to have the name of orators; while others (to whose opinion I attach myself) maintain that the name, and the art of which we are speaking, can be conceded only to good men. [This was the opinion also of Cato the Censor, given in his book De Oratore addressed to his son, as appears from Seneca the father , Praef. ad Controv. 1. i.]

2. Of those who separate the talent of speaking from the greater and more desirable praise of a good life, some have called rhetoric merely a power, some a science, but not a virtue, some a habit, some an art, but having nothing in common with science and virtue; some even an abuse of art, that is, a κακοτεχνια. 3. All these have generally supposed, that the business of oratory lies either in persuading, or in speaking in a manner adapted to persuade, for such art may be attained by one who is far from being a good man. The most common definition therefore is, that oratory is the power of persuading. What I call a power, some call a faculty, and others a talent, but that this discrepancy may be attended with no ambiguity, I mean by power, δυναμις.

4. This opinion had its origin from Isocrates if the treatise on the art, which is in circulation under his name, is really his. That rhetorician, though he had none of the feelings of those who defame the business of the orator, gives too rash a definition of the art when he says, "That rhetoric is the worker of persuasion, πειθους δημιουργος for I shall not allow myself to use the peculiar term that Ennius applies to Marcus Cethegus, SUADE medulla. 5. In Plato too, Gorgias, in the Dialogue inscribed with his name, says almost the same thing; but Plato wishes it to be received as the opinion of Gorgias, not as his own. Cicero, in several passages [De Orat. i. 31; Quaest. Acad. i. 8; De Invent. i. 5, init.] of his writings, has said, that the duty of an orator is to speak in a way adapted to persuade. 6. In his books on Rhetoric also, but with which, doubtless, he was not satisfied [he shows his dissatisfaction with his Rhetorica, or books de Inventione, "qui sibi exciderint," Orat. i. 2, init.], he makes the end of eloquence to be persuasion.

But money, likewise, has the power of persuasion, and interest, and the authority and dignity of a speaker, and even his very look, unaccompanied by language, when either the remembrance of the services of any individual, or a pitiable appearance, or beauty of person, draws forth an opinion. 7. Thus when Antonius, in his defense of Manius Aquilius, exhibited on his breast, by tearing his client's robe, the scars of the wounds which he had received for his country, he did not trust to the power of his eloquence, but applied force, as it were, to the eyes of the Roman people, who, it was thought, were chiefly induced by the sight to acquit the accused. 8. That Servius Galba [when be was praetor in Spain he had put to death a body of Lusitanians after pledging the public faith that their lives should be spared; an act for which he was accused before the people by the tribune Libo, who was supported by Cato. See Cic. de Oral. i. 53] escaped merely through the pity which he excited, when he not only produced his own little children before the assembly, but carried round in his hands the son of Sulpicius Gallus, is testified, not only by the records of others, but by the speech of Cato. 9. Phryne too, people think, was freed from peril, not by the pleading of Hyperides, though it was admirable, but by the exposure of her figure, which, otherwise most striking, he had uncovered by opening her robe. If, then, all such things persuade, the definition of which we have spoken is not satisfactory.

10. Those, accordingly, have appeared to themselves more exact, who, though they have the same general opinion as to rhetoric, have pronounced it to be the power of persuading by speaking. This definition Gorgias gives, in the Dialogue which we have just mentioned, being forced to do so, as it wore, by Socrates. Theodectes, if the treatise on rhetoric, which is inscribed with his name, is his, (or it may rather, perhaps, as has been supposed, be the work of Aristotle,) does not dissent from Gorgias, for it is asserted in that book, that the object of oratory is to lead men by speaking to that which the speaker wishes.

11. But not even this definition is sufficiently comprehensive; for not only the orator, but others, as harlots, flatterers, and seducers, persuade, or lead to that which they wish, by speaking. But the orator, on the contrary, does not always persuade; so that sometimes this is not his peculiar object; sometimes it is an object common to him with others, who are very different from orators. 13. Yet Apollodorus varies but little from this definition, as he says, that the first and supreme object of judicial pleading is to persuade the judge, and to lead him to whatever opinion the speaker may wish, for he thus subjects the orator to the power of fortune, so that, if he does not succeed in persuading, he cannot retain the name of an orator.

13. Some, on the other hand, detach themselves from all considerations as to the event, as Aristotle, who says, that oratory is the power of finding out whatever can persuade in speaking [Rhet. i. 2, 1]. But this definition has not only the fault of which we have just spoken, but the additional one of comprehending nothing but invention, which, without elocution, cannot constitute oratory. 14. To Hermagoras, who says, that the object of oratory is to speak persuasively, and to others, who express themselves to the same purpose, though not in the same words, but tell us that the object of oratory is to say all that ought to be said in order to persuade, a sufficient answer was given when we showed that to persuade is not the business of the orator only.

15. Various other opinions have been added to these, for some have thought that oratory may be employed about all subjects, others only about political affairs, but which of these notions is nearer to truth, I shall inquire in that part of my work which will be devoted to the question. 16. Aristotle seems to have put everything in the power of oratory when he says, that it is the power of saying on every subject whatever can be found to persuade: and such is the case with Patrocles, who, indeed, does not add on every subject, but, as he makes no exception, shows that his idea is the same, for he calls oratory the power of finding whatever is persuasive in speaking, both which definitions embrace invention alone. Theodorus, in order to avoid this defect, decides oratory to be the power of discovering and expressing, with elegance, whatever is credible on any subject whatever.

17. But, while one who is not an orator may find out what is credible as well as what is persuasive, he, by adding on any subject whatever grants more than the preceding makers of definitions, and allows the title of a most honorable art to those who may persuade even to crime. 18. Gorgias, in Plato, calls himself a master of persuasion in courts of justice and other assemblies, and says that he treats both of what is just and what is unjust; and Socrates allows him the art of persuading, but not of teaching.

19. Those who have not granted all subjects to the orator, have made distinctions in their definitions, as they were necessitated, with more anxiety and verbosity. One of these is Ariston, a disciple of Critolaus, the Peripatetic, whose definition of oratory is, that it is the science of discovering and expressing what ought to be said on political affairs, in language adapted to persuade the people. 20 He considers oratory a science, because he is a Peripatetic, not a virtue, like the Stoics [Cicero, de Orat. iii. 18, says that the Stoics alone, of all the philosophers, have called eloquence virtue and wisdom; see also Acad. Quaest. i. 2. The Stoics necessarily held this opinion, as they also gave dialectics and physics the name of virtues, Cic. de Fin. iii. 21], but, in adding adapted to persuade the people, he throws dishonor on the art of oratory, as if he thought it unsuited to persuade the learned.

But of all who think that the orator is to discourse only on political questions, it may be said, once for all, that many duties of the orator are set aside by them; for instance, all laudatory speaking, which is the third part of oratory [the epideictic, the other two parts being the deliberative and the judicial]. 21. Theodoras, of Gadara, (to proceed with those who have thought oratory an art, not a virtue,) defines more cautiously, for he says, (let me borrow the words of those who have translated his phraseology from the Greek,) that oratory is an art that discovers, and judges, and enunciates with suitable eloquence, according to the measure of that which may be found adapted to persuading, in any subject connected with political affairs.

22. Cornelius Celsus, in like manner, says that the object of oratory is to speak persuasively on doubtful and political matters. To these definitions there are some, not very dissimilar, given by others, such as this: oratory is the power of judging and discoursing an such civil questions as are submitted lo it, with a certain persuasiveness, a certain action of the body, and a certain mode of delivering what it expresses. 23. There are a thousand other definitions, but either similar, or composed of similar elements, which we shall notice when we come to treat upon the subjects of oratory.

Some have thought it neither a power, nor a science, nor an art; Critolaus calls it the practice of speaking; (for such is the meaning of the word τριζη:) Athenaeus, the art of deceiving. 24. But most writers, satisfied with reading a few passages from Plato's Gorgias [Plato Gorg. sect. 43, seqq. p. 462, ed. Steph.], unskillfully extracted by their predecessors, (for they neither consult the whole of that dialogue, nor any of the other writings of Plato,) have fallen into a very grave error, supposing that that philosopher entertained such an opinion as to think that oratory was not an art, but a certain skillfulness in flattering and pleasing; 25. or, as he says in another place, the simulation of one part of polity, and the fourth sort of flattery, for he assigns two parts of polity to the body, medicine, and, as they interpret it, exercise, and two to the mind, law and justice, and then calls the art of cooks the flattery or simulation of medicine, and the art of dealers in slaves the simulation of the effects of exercise, as they produce a false complexion by paint and the appearance of strength by unsolid fat; the simulation of legal science he calls sophistry, and that of justice rhetoric.

26. All this is, indeed, expressed in that Dialogue, and uttered by Socrates, under whose person Plato seems to intimate what he thinks; but some of his dialogues were composed merely to refute those who argued on the other side, and are called ελεγκτικοι: others were written to teach, and are called δογματικοι. 27. But Socrates, or Plato, thought that sort of oratory, which was then practiced, to be of a dogmatic character, for he speaks of it as being κατα τουτον τον τροπον ον υμεις πολιτευεσθε, [Sect. 120, p. 500 C] "according to the manner in which you manage public affairs," and understands oratory of a sincere and honorable nature. The dispute with Gorgias is accordingly thus terminated: "It is therefore necessary that the orator be a just man, and that the just man should wish to do just things." [Sect. 35, p. 460 C.]

28 When this has been said, Gorgias is silent, but Polus resumes the subject, who, from the ardor of youth, is somewhat inconsiderate, and in reply to whom the remarks on simulation and flattery are made. Callicles, who is even more vehement, speaks next, but is reduced to the conclusion, that "he who would be a true orator must be a just man, and must know what is just;" [Sect. 136, p. 508 C] and it is therefore evident, that oratory was not considered by Plato an evil, but that he thought true oratory could not be attained by any but a just and good man. 29. In the Phaedrus he sets forth still more clearly, that the art cannot be fully acquired without a knowledge of justice, an opinion to which I also assent. Would Plato, if he had held any other sentiments, have written the Defense of Socrates, and the Eulogy of those who fell in defense of their country, compositions which are certainly work for the orator? [Plato wrote a funeral oration on some Athenians who had fallen in battle [Menexenus?]; a composition, says Cicero, which was so well received, that it was recited publicly on a certain day in every year.]

30. But he has even inveighed against that class of men who used their abilities in speaking for bad ends. Socrates also thought the speech, which Lysias had written for him when accused, improper for him to use, though it was a general practice, at that time, to compose for parties appearing before the judges speeches which they themselves might deliver; and thus an elusion of the law, by which one man was not allowed to speak for another, was effected. 31. By Plato, also, those who separated oratory from justice, and preferred what is probable to what is true, were thought no proper teachers of the art, for so he signifies, too, in his Phaedrus. 32. Cornelius Celsus, moreover, may be thought to have been of the same opinion with those to whom I have just referred, for his words are, the orator aims only at the semblance of truth; and he adds, a little after, not purity of conscience, but the victory of his client, is the reward of the pleader. Were such assertions true, it would become only the worst of men to give such pernicious weapons to the most mischievous of characters, and to aid dishonesty with precepts; but let those who hold this opinion consider what ground they have for it.

33. Let me, for my part, as I have undertaken to form a perfect orator, whom I would have, above all, to be a good man, return to those who have better thoughts of the art. Some have pronounced oratory to be identical with civil polity; Cicero calls it a part of civil polity; and a knowledge of civil polity, he thinks, is nothing less than wisdom itself. Some have made it a part of philosophy, among whom is Isocrates. 34. With this character of it, the definition that oratory is the science of speaking well, agrees excellently, for it embraces all the virtues of oratory at once, and includes also the character of the true orator, as he cannot speak well unless he be a good man. 35. To the same purpose is the definition of Chrysippus, derived from Cleanthes ["Cleanthes wrote a treatise on the art of rhetoric, and so did Chrysippus, but their writings were of such a nature that if a man wished his mouth closed for ever he has nothing to do but read them." Cic. de Fin. iv. 3], the science of speaking properly. There are more definitions in the same philosopher, but they relate rather to other questions.

A definition framed in these terms, to persuade to what is necessary, would convey the same notion, except that it makes the art depend on the result. 36. Areus [he may possibly have been the Stoic philosopher of Alexandria, for whose sake Caesar Octavianus spared that city; see Plut. in Anton. p. 953 A] defines oratory well, saying that it is to speak according to the excellence of speech. Those also exclude bad men from oratory who consider it as the knowledge of civil duties, since they deem such knowledge virtue; but they confine it within too narrow bounds, and to political questions. Albutius [Caius Albucius Silus, of Novaria, a rhetorician of the age of Augustus. See Senec. Rhet. Contr. iii. praef. p. 197 Bip.; also Sueton. de Rhet. 6], no obscure professor or author, allows that it is the art of speaking well, but errs in giving it limitations, adding, on political questions, and with probability, of both which restrictions I have already disposed; those, too, are men of good intention, who consider it the business of oratory to think and speak rightly.

37. These are almost all the most celebrated definitions, and those about which there is the most controversy; for to discuss all would neither be much to the purpose, nor would be in my power; since a foolish desire, as I think, has prevailed among the writers of treatises on rhetoric, to define nothing in the same terms that another had already used; a vain-glorious practice which shall be far from me. 38. For I shall say, not what I shall invent, but what I shall approve; as, for instance, that oratory is the art of speaking well; since, when the best definition is found, he who seeks for another must seek for a worse.

This being admitted, it is evident at the same time what object, what highest and ultimate end, oratory has; that object or end which is called in Greek τελος, and to which every art tends; for if oratory be the art of speaking well, its object and ultimate end must be to speak well.


1. Next comes the question whether oratory is useful; for some are accustomed to declaim violently against it, and, what is most ungenerous, to make use of the power of oratory to lay accusations against oratory; 2. they say that eloquence is that which saves the wicked from punishment; by the dishonesty of which the innocent are at times condemned; by which deliberations are influenced to the worse; by which not only popular seditions and tumults, but even inexpiable wars, are excited; and of which the efficacy is the greatest when it exerts itself for falsehood against truth. 3. Even to Socrates, the comic writers make it a reproach that he taught how to make the worse reason appear the better; and Plato on his part says that Tisias and Gorgias ["Tisias and Gorgias, by the power of words, make small things great, and great things small." Plato Phaedr. p. 217, A.; see also p.
273, A, B, C]
professed the same art. 4. To these they add examples from Greek and Roman history, and give a list of persons who, by exerting such eloquence aa was mischievous, not only to individuals but to communities, have disturbed or overthrown the constitutions of whole states; asserting that eloquence on that account was banished from the state of Lacedaemon, and that even at Athens, where the orator was forbidden to move the passions, the powers of eloquence were in a manner curtailed.

5. Under such a mode of reasoning, neither will generals, nor magistrates, nor medicine, nor even wisdom itself, be of any utility; for Flaminius [the general who was defeated by Hannibal at the lake Thrasimenus] was a general, and the Gracchi, Saturnini, and Glauciae were magistrates; in the hands of physicians poisons have been found; and among those who abuse the name of philosophers have been occasionally detected the most horrible crimes. 6. We must reject food, for it has often given rise to ill health; we must never go under roofs, for they sometimes fall upon those who dwell beneath them; a sword must not be forged for a soldier, for a robber may use the same weapon. Who does not know that fire and water, without which life cannot exist, and, (that I may not confine myself to things of earth,) that the sun and moon, the chief of the celestial luminaries, sometimes produce hurtful effects?

7. Will it be denied, however, that the blind Appius, by the force of his eloquence, broke off a dishonorable treaty of peace about to be concluded with Pyrrhus? Was not the divine eloquence of Cicero, in opposition to the agrarian laws, even popular? [A speech against the agrarian laws could not have been well received by the people, without being in the highest degree forcible and eloquent. "While you spoke, (O Cicero!) the tribes relinquished the agrarian law, that is, their own meat and drink." Plin. H. N. vii. 31.] Did it not quell the daring of Catiline, and gain, in the toga, the honor of thanksgivings, the highest that is given to generals victorious in the field? 8. Does not oratory often free the alarmed minds of soldiers from fear and persuade them, when they are going to face so many perils in battle, that glory is better than life?

Nor indeed would the Lacedaemonians and Athenians influence me more than the people of Rome, among whom the highest respect has always been paid to orators. 9. Nor do I think that founders of cities would have induced their unsettled multitudes to form themselves into communities by any other means than by the influence of the art of speaking [see Cicero de Inv. i. 2; De Orat. i. 8]; nor would legislators, without the utmost power of oratory, have prevailed on men to bind themselves to submit to the dominion of law. 10. Even the very rules for the conduct of life, beautiful as they are by nature, have yet greater power in forming the mind when the radiance of eloquence illumines the beauty of the precepts. Though the weapons of eloquence, therefore, have effect in both directions, it is not just that that should be accounted an evil which we may use to a good purpose.

11. But these points may perhaps be left to the consideration of those who think that the substance of eloquence lies in the power to persuade. But if eloquence be the art of speaking well, (the definition which I adopt,) so that a true orator must be, above all, a good man, it must assuredly be acknowledged that it is a useful art. 12. In truth, the sovereign deity, the parent of all things, the architect of the world, has distinguished man from other beings, such at least as were to be mortal, by nothing more than by the faculty of speech. 13. Bodily frames superior in size, in strength, in firmness, in endurance, in activity, we see among dumb creatures, and observe, too, that they have less need than we have of external assistance. To walk, to feed themselves, to swim over water, they learn, in less time than we can, from nature herself, without the aid of any other teacher. 14. Most of them, also, are equipped against cold by the produce of their own bodies; weapons for their defense are born with them; and their food lies before their faces; to supply all which wants mankind have the greatest difficulty.

The divinity has therefore given us reason, superior to all other qualities, and appointed us to be sharers of it with the immortal gods. 15. But reason could neither profit us so much, nor manifest itself so plainly within us, if we could not express by speech what we have conceived in our minds; a faculty which we see wanting in other animals, far more than, to a certain degree, understanding and reflection. 16. For to contrive habitations, to construct nests, to bring up their young, to hatch them, to lay up provision for the winter, to produce works inimitable by us, (as those of wax and honey,) is perhaps a proof of some portion of reason; but as, though they do such things, they are without the faculty of speech, they are called dumb and irrational. 17. Even to men, to whom speech has been denied, of how little avail is divine reason!

If, therefore, we have received from the gods nothing more valuable than speech, what can we consider more deserving of cultivation and exercise? or in what can we more strongly desire to be superior to other men, than in that by which man himself is superior to other animals, especially as in no kind of exertion does labor more plentifully bring its reward? 18. This will be so much the more evident, if we reflect from what origin, and to what extent, the art of eloquence has advanced, and how far it may still be improved. 19. For, not to mention how beneficial it is, and how becoming in a man of virtue, to defend his friends, to direct a senate or people by his counsels, or to lead an army to whatever enterprise he may desire, is it not extremely honorable to attain, by the common understanding and words which all men use, so high a degree of esteem and glory as to appear not to speak or plead, but, as was the case with Pericles, to hurl forth lightning and thunder?


1. There would be no end if I should allow myself to expatiate, and indulge my inclination, on this head. Let us proceed, therefore, to the question that follows, whether oratory be an art. 2. That it is an art, every one of those who have given rules about eloquence has been so far from doubting, that it is shown by the very titles of their books, that they are written on the oratorical art; and Cicero also says, that what is called oratory is artificial eloquence. This distinction, it is not only orators that have claimed for themselves, (since they may be thought, perhaps, to have given their profession something more than its due,) but the philosophers, the Stoics, and most of the Peripatetics, agree with them.

3. For myself, I confess, that I was in some doubt whether I should look upon this part of the inquiry as necessary to be considered; for who is so destitute, I will not say of learning, but of the common understanding of mankind, as to imagine that the work of building, or weaving, or molding vessels out of clay, is an art, but that oratory, the greatest and noblest of works, has attained such a height of excellence without being an art? Those, indeed, who have maintained the contrary opinion, I suppose not so much to have believed what they advanced, as to have been desirous of exercising their powers on a subject of difficulty, like Polycrates, when he eulogized Busiris and Clytaemnestra; though he is said also to have written the speech that was delivered against Socrates; nor would that indeed have been inconsistent with his other compositions.

5. Some will have oratory to be a natural talent, though they do not deny that it may be assisted by art. Thus Antonius, in Cicero de Oratore [i. 20; ii. 7, 8], says that oratory is an effect of observation, not an art; but this is not advanced that we may receive it as true, but that the character of Antonius, an orator who tried to conceal the art that he used, may be supported. 6. But Lysias seems to have really entertained this opinion; for which the argument is, that the ignorant, and barbarians, and slaves, when they speak for themselves, say something that resembles an exordium, they state facts, prove, refute, and (adopting the form of a peroration) deprecate. 7. The supporters of this notion also avail themselves of certain quibbles upon words, that nothing that proceeds from art was before art, but that mankind have always been able to speak for themselves and against others; that teachers of the art appeared only in later times, and first of all about the age of Tisias and Corax [Corax was a Sicilian, who, about B.C. 470, secured himself great influence at Syracuse by means of his oratorical powers. He is said to have been the earliest writer on rhetoric. Tisias was his pupil. See Cic. Brut. 12; de Orat. i. 20; Quint, iii. 1, 8]; that oratory was therefore before art, and is consequently not an art.

8. As to the period, indeed, in which the teaching of oratory commenced, I am not anxious to inquire; we find Phoenix, however, in Homer [Il. ix. 432], as an instructor, not only in acting but in speaking, as well as several other orators; we see all the varieties of eloquence in the three generals [the copious style in the oratory of Nestor; the simple in that of Menelaus; and the middle in that of Ulysses. See Aul. Gell. vii. 4; Clarke ad Il. iii. 213], and contests in eloquence proposed among the young men [Il. xv. 284], and among the figures on the shield of Achilles [Il. xviii. 497-508] are represented both law-suits and pleaders. 9. It would even be sufficient for me to observe, that everything which art has brought to perfection had its origin in nature, else, from the number of the arts must be excluded medicine, which resulted from the observation of what was beneficial or detrimental to health, and which, as some think, consists wholly in experiments, for somebody had, doubtless, bound up a wound before the dressing of wounds became an art, and had allayed fever by repose and abstinence, not because he saw the reason of such regimen, but because the malady itself drove him to it.

10. Else, too, architecture must not be considered an art, for the first generation of men built cottages without art; nor music, since singing and dancing, to some sort of tune, are practiced among all nations. 11. So, if any kind of speaking whatever is to be called oratory, I will admit that oratory existed before it was an art; but if every one that speaks is not an orator, and if men in early times did not speak as orators, our reasoners must confess that an orator is formed by art, and did not exist before art. This being admitted, another argument which they use is set aside, namely, that that has no concern with art which a man who has not learned it can do, but that men who have not learned oratory can make speeches. 12. To support this argument they observe, that Demades [Sext. Empir. p. 291. Fabric. Harl. ii. p. 868], a waterman, and Aeschines [Demosth. pro Cor. p. 307, 314, 329, ed. Reisk], an actor, were orators; but they are mistaken; for he who has not learned to be an orator cannot properly be called one, and it may be more justly said, that those men learned late in life, than that they never learned at all; though Aeschines, indeed; had some introduction to learning in his youth, as his father was a teacher; nor is It certain that Demades did not learn; and he might, by constant practice in speaking, which is the most efficient mode of learning, have made himself master of all the power of language that he ever possessed. 13. But we may safely say, that he would have been a better speaker if he had learned, for he never ventured to write out his speeches for publication [Cic. Brut. c. 9; Quint. xii. 10, 49], though we know that he produced considerable effect in delivering them.

14. Aristotle, for the sake of investigation, as is usual with him has conceived, with his peculiar subtlety, certain arguments at variance with my opinion in his Gryllus [the work is lost. Gryllus was the son of Xenophon, that was killed at Mantineia. Aristotle seems to have borrowed his name; and he related, according to Diog. Laert. ii. 58, that many eulogies were written on Gryllus, even for the sake of pleasing his father. The Gryllus of Aristotle is mentioned by Diog. Laert. v. 22]; but he has also written three books on the art of rhetoric, in the first of which he not only admits that it is an art, but allows it a connection with civil polity, as well as with logic [Rhet. i. 2, 1]. 15. Critolaus, and Athenodorus, of Rhodes, have advanced many arguments on the opposite side. Agnon, by the very title of his book, in which he avows that he brings an accusation against rhetoric, has deprived himself of all claim to be trusted. As to Epicurus [see xii. 2, 24; Cic. de Fin. i. 7], who shrunk from all learning, I am not at all surprised at him.

16. These reasoners say a great deal, but it is based upon few arguments; I shall therefore reply to the strongest of them in a very few words, that the discussion may not be protracted to an infinite length. 17. Their first argument is with regard to the subject or matter, "for all arts," they say, "have some subject," as is true, "but that oratory has no peculiar subject," an assertion which I shall subsequently prove to be false. 18. The next argument is a more false charge, for "no art," they say, "acquiesces in false conclusions, since art cannot be founded but on perception, which is always true; but that oratory adopts false conclusions, and is, consequently, not an art." 19. That oratory sometimes advances what is false instead of what is true, I will admit, but I shall not for that reason acknowledge that the speaker acquiesces in false conclusions, for it is one thing for a matter to appear in a certain light to a person himself, and another for the person to make it appear in that light to others.

A general often employs false representations, as did Hanniibal, when, being hemmed in by Fabius, he tied faggots to the horns of oxen, and set them on fire, and, driving the herd up the opposite hills in the night, presented to the enemy the appearance of a retiring army; but Hannibal merely deceived Fabius; he himself knew very well what the reality was. 20. Theopompus, the Lacedaemonian, when, on changing clothes with his wife, he escaped from prison in the disguise of a woman, came to no false conclusion concerning himself, though he conveyed a false notion to his guards. So the orator, whenever he puts what is false for what is true, knows that it is false, and that he is stating it instead of truth; he adopts, therefore, no false conclusion himself, but merely misleads another. 21. Cicero, when he threw a mist, as he boasts, over the eyes of the judges in the cause of Cluentius, was not himself deprived of sight; nor is a painter, when, by the power of his art, he makes us fancy that some objects stand out in a picture, and others recede, unaware that the objects are all on a flat surface.

22. But they allege also, that "all arts have a certain definite end to which they are directed; but that in oratory there is sometimes no end at all, and, at other times, the end which is professed is not attained." They speak falsely, however, in this respect likewise, for we have already shown, that oratory has an end, and have stated what that end is, an end which the true orator will always attain, for he will always speak well. 23. The objection might, perhaps, hold good against those who think that the end of oratory is to persuade, but my orator and his art, as defined by me, do not depend upon the result; he indeed who speaks directs his efforts towards victory, but when he has spoken well, though he may not be victorious, he has attained the full end of his art. 24. So a pilot is desirous to gain the port with his vessel in safety, but if he is carried away from it by a tempest, he will not be the less a pilot, and will repeat the well-known saying, "May I but keep the helm right!" [A proverbial expression, from the Greek ορθαν ταν ναυν; a portion of a prayer to Neptune: Grant, O Neptune, that I may guide the ship right.]

25. The physician makes the health of the patient his object, but if, through the violence of the disease, the intemperance of the sick person, or any other circumstance, he does not effect his purpose, yet, if he has done everything according to rule, he has not lost sight of the object of medicine. So it is the object of an orator to speak well, for his art, as we shall soon show still more clearly, consists in the act, and not in the result. 26. That other allegation, which is frequently made, must accordingly be false also, that an art knows when it has attained its end, but that oratory does not know, for every speaker is aware when he has spoken well.

They also charge oratory with having recourse to vicious means, which no true arts adopt, because it advances what is false, and endeavors to excite the passions. 27. But neither of those means is dishonorable, when it is used from a good motive, and, consequently, cannot be vicious. To tell a falsehood is sometimes allowed, even to a wise man [Cic. Off. ii. 14, 16, 17]; and the orator will be compelled to appeal to the feelings of the judges, if they cannot otherwise be induced to favor the right side. 28. Unenlightened men sit as judges [the reader will remember that the judices of the Romans were similar to our jurymen, but more numerous], who must, at times, be deceived, that they may not err in their decisions. If indeed judges were wise men; if assemblies of the people, and every sort of public council, consisted of wise men; if envy, favor, prejudice, and false witnesses, had no influence, there would be very little room for eloquence, which would be employed almost wholly to give pleasure. 29. But as the minds of the hearers waver, and truth is exposed to so many obstructions, the orator must use artifice in his efforts, and adopt such means as may promote his purpose, since he who has turned from the right way cannot be brought back to it but by another turning.

30. Some common sarcasms against oratory are drawn from the charge, that orators speak on both sides of a question; hence the remarks, that "no art contradicts itself, but that oratory contradicts itself;" that "no art destroys what it has itself done, but that this is the case with what oratory does;" that "it teaches either what we ought to say, or what we ought not to say, and that, in the one case, it cannot be an art, because it teaches what is not to be said, and, in the other, it cannot be an art, because, when it has taught what is to be said, it teaches also what is directly opposed to it." 31. All these charges, it is evident, are applicable only to that species of oratory which is repudiated by a good man and by virtue herself; since, where the cause is unjust, there true oratory has no place, so that it can hardly happen, even in the most extraordinary case, that a real orator, that is, a good man, will speak on both sides.

32. Yet, since it may happen, in the course of things, that just causes may, at times, lead two wise men to take different sides, (for the Stoics think that wise men may even contend with one another, if reason leads them to do so,) I will make some reply to the objections, and in such a way that they shall be proved to be advanced groundlessly, and directed only against such as allow the name of orator to speakers of bad character. 33, For oratory does not contradict itself; one cause is matched against another cause, but not oratory against itself. If two men, who have been taught the same accomplishment, contend with one another, the accomplishment which they have been taught will not, on that account, be proved not to be an art; for, if such were the case, there could be no art in arms, because gladiators, bred under the same master, are often matched together; nor would there be any art in piloting a ship, because, in naval engagements, pilot is often opposed to pilot; nor in generalship, because general contends with general.

34. Nor does oratory destroy what it has done, for the orator does not overthrow the argument advanced by himself, nor does oratory overthrow it, because, by those who think that the end of oratory is to persuade, as well as by the two wise men, whom, as I said before, some chance may have opposed to one another, it is probability that is sought; and if, of two things, one at length appears more probable than the other, the more probable is not opposed to that which previously appeared probable; for as that which is more white is not adverse to that which is less white, nor that which is more sweet contrary to that which is less sweet, so neither is that which is more probable contrary to that which is less probable. 35. Nor does oratory ever teach what we ought not to say, or that which is contrary to what we ought to say, but that which we ought to say in whatever cause we may take in hand. 36. And truth, though generally, is not always to be defended; the public good sometimes requires that a falsehood should be supported.

In Cicero's second book De Oratore [C. 7. The words are put into the mouth of Antonius], are also advanced the following objections: that art has place in things which are known, but that the pleading of an orator depends on opinion, not on knowledge, since he both addresses himself to those who do not know, and sometimes says what he himself does not know. 37. One of these points, whether the judges have a knowledge of what is addressed to them, has nothing to do with the art of the orator; to the other, that art has place in things which are known, I must give some answer. Oratory is the art of speaking well, and the orator knows how to speak well. 38. But it is said, he does not know whether what he says is true; neither do the philosophers, who say that fire, or water, or the four elements, or indivisible atoms, are the principles from which all things had their origin, know that what they say is true; nor do those who calculate the distances of the stars, and the magnitudes of the sun and the earth, yet every one of them calls his system an art; but if their reasoning has such effect that they seem not to imagine, but, from the force of their demonstrations, to know what they assert, similar reasoning may have a similar effect in the case of the orator.

39. But, it is further urged, he does not know whether the cause which he advocates has truth on its side; nor, I answer, does the physician know whether the patient, who says that he has the head-ache, really has it, yet he will treat him on the assumption that his assertion is true, and medicine will surely be allowed to be an art. Need I add, that oratory does not always purpose to say what is true, but does always purpose to say what is like truth? but the orator must know whether what he says is like truth or not. 40. Those who are unfavorable to oratory add, that pleaders often defend, in certain causes, that which they have assailed in others; but this is the fault, not of the art, but of the person.

These are the principal charges that are brought against oratory. There are others of less moment, but drawn from the same sources.

41. But that it is an art, may be proved in a very few words; for whether, as Cleanthes maintained, an art is a power working its effects by a course, that is by method, no man will doubt that there is a certain course and method in oratory; or whether that definition, approved by almost everybody, that an art consists of perceptions consenting and co-operating to some end useful to life, be adopted also by us, we have already shown that everything to which this definition applies is to be found in oratory. 42. Need I show that it depends on understanding and practice, like other arts? If logic be an art, as is generally admitted, oratory must certainly be an art, as it differs from logic rather in species than in genus. Nor must we omit to observe that in whatever pursuit one man may act according to a method, and another without regard to that method, that pursuit is an art; and that in whatever pursuit he who has learned succeeds better than he who has not learned, that pursuit is an art.

43. But, in the pursuit of oratory, not only will the learned excel the unlearned, but the more learned will excel the less learned; otherwise there would not be so many rules in it, or so many great men to teach it. This ought to be acknowledged by every one, and especially by me, who allow the attainment of oratory only to the man of virtue.


1. But as some arts consist merely in an insight into things, that is, knowledge of them, and judgment concerning them, such as astronomy, which requires no act, but is confined to a mere understanding of the matters that form the subject of it (a sort of art which is called θεωρητικη, "theoretic"); others in action, the object of which lies in the act, and is fulfilled in it, leaving nothing produced from it (a sort of art which is called πρακτικη, "practic"), as dancing; 2. others in production, which attain their end in the execution of the work which is submitted to the eye (a sort which we call ποιητικη, "productive"), as painting, we may pretty safely determine that oratory consists in act, for it accomplishes in the act all that it has to do. Such indeed has been the judgment pronounced upon it by every one.

3. To me, however, it appears to partake greatly of the other sort of arts; for the subject of it may sometimes be restricted to contemplation; since there will be oratory in an orator even though he be silent; and if, either designedly, or from being disabled by any accident, he has ceased to plead, he will not cease to be an orator, more than a physician who has left off practice ceases to a physician. 4. There is some enjoyment, and perhaps the greatest of all enjoyments, in retired meditation, and the pleasure derived from knowledge is pure when it is withdrawn from action, that is, from toil, and enjoys the calm contemplation of itself. 5. But oratory will also effect something similar to a productive art in written speeches and historical compositions, a kind of writings which we justly consider as allied to oratory. Yet if it must be classed as one of the three sorts of arts which I have mentioned, let it, as its performance consists chiefly in the mere act, and as it is most frequently exhibited in act, be called an active, or a practical art, for the one term is of the same signification as the other.


1. I am aware that it is also a question whether nature or learning contributes most to oratory. This inquiry, however, has no concern with the subject of my work; for a perfect orator can be formed only with the aid of both; but I think it of great importance how far we consider that there is a question on the point. 2. If you suppose either to be independent of the other, nature will be able to do much without learning, but learning will be of no avail without the assistance of nature. But if they be united in equal parts, I shall be inclined to think that, when both are but moderate, the influence of nature is nevertheless the greater; but finished orators, I consider, owe more to learning than to nature.

Thus the best husbandman cannot improve soil of no fertility, while from fertile ground something good will be produced even without the aid of the husbandman; yet if the husbandman bestows his labor on rich land, he will produce more effect than the goodness of the soil of itself. 3. Had Praxiteles attempted to hew a statue out of a millstone, I should have preferred to it an unhewn block of Parian marble; but if that statuary had fashioned the marble, more value would have accrued to it from his workmanship than was in the marble itself. In a word, nature is the material for learning; the one forms, and the other is formed. Art can do nothing without material; material has its value even independent of art; but perfection of art is of more consequence than perfection of material.


1. It is a question of a higher nature, whether oratory is to be regarded as one of those indifferent arts, which deserve neither praise nor blame in themselves, but become useful or otherwise according to the characters of those who practice them; or whether it is, as many of the philosophers are of opinion, a positive virtue.

2. The way, indeed, in which many have proceeded and still proceed in the practice of speaking, I consider either as no art, ατεχνεια, as it is called, (for I see numbers rushing to speak without rule or learning, just as impudence or hunger has prompted them,) or as it were a bad art, which we term κακοτεχνια; for I imagine that there have been many who have exerted, and that there are some who still exert, their talent in speaking to the injury of mankind. 3. There is also a kind of ματαιοτεχνια, a vain imitation of art, which indeed has in itself neither good nor evil, but a mere frivolous exercise of skill, such as that of the man who sent grains of vetches, shot from a distance in succession, and without missing, through a needle, and whom Alexander, after witnessing his dexterity, is said to have presented with a bushel of vetches; which was indeed a most suitable reward for his performance.

4. To him I compare those who spend their time, with great study and labor, in the composition of declamations, which they strive to make as unlike as possible to anything that happens in real life.

But that oratory which I endeavor to teach, of which I conceive the idea in my mind, which is attainable only by a good man, and which alone is true oratory, must be regarded as a virtue. 5. This is an opinion which the philosophers support by many subtle arguments, but which appears to me to be more clearly established by the simpler mode of proof which follows, and which is peculiarly my own. What is said by the philosophers is this: If it is a quality of virtue to be consistent with itself as to what ought to be done and what ought not to be done, (that quality, namely, which is called prudence,) the same quality will have its office as to what ought to be said or not to be said.

6. And if there are virtues, for the generation of which, even before we receive any instruction, certain principles and seeds are given us by nature, (as for that of justice, of which some notion is manifested even in the most ignorant and the most barbarous,) it is evident that we are so formed originally as to be able to speak for ourselves, though not indeed perfectly, yet in such a manner as to show that certain seeds of the faculty of eloquence are in us. 7. But in those arts which have no connection with virtue, there is not the same nature. As there are two kinds of speech, therefore, the continuous, which is called oratory, and the concise, which is termed logic, (which Zeno thought so nearly connected that he compared the one to a clenched fist, and the other to an open hand,) if the art of disputation be a virtue, there will be no doubt of the virtue of that which is of so much more noble and expansive a nature.

But I wish the reader to understand this more fully and plainly from what is done by oratory; for how will an orator succeed in eulogy, unless he has a clear knowledge of what is honorable and what is disgraceful? Or in persuasion, unless he understands what is advantageous? Or in judicial pleadings, unless he has a knowledge of justice? Does not oratory also demand fortitude, as the orator has often to speak in opposition to the turbulent threats of the populace, often with perilous defiance of powerful individuals, and sometimes, as on the trial of Milo, amidst surrounding weapons of soldiers? So that if oratory be not a virtue, it cannot be perfect.

9. If, moreover, there is a sort of virtue in every species of animals, in which it excels the rest, or the greater number, of other animals, as force in the lion, and swiftness in the horse, and it is certain that man excels other animals in reason and speech, why should we not consider that the distinctive virtue of man lies as much in eloquence as in reason? Crassus in Cicero [De Orat. iii. 14] justly makes an assertion to this effect: "For eloquence," says he, "is one of the most eminent virtues;" and Cicero himself, in his own character, both in his epistles to Brutus, and in many other passages of his writings [Partit. Orat. c. 23, init.; Acad. Q. i. 2], calls eloquence a virtue.

10. But, it may be alleged, a vicious man will sometimes produce an exordium, a statement of facts, and a series of arguments, in such a way that nothing shall be desired in them. So, we may answer, a robber will fight with great bravery, yet fortitude will still be a virtue; and a dishonest slave will bear torments without a groan, yet endurance of pain will still merit its praise. Many other things of the same nature occur, but from different principles of action. Let what I have said, therefore, as to eloquence being a virtue, be sufficient, for of its usefulness I have treated above.


1. As to the material of oratory, some have said that it is speech; an opinion which Gorgias in Plato [Plato Gorg. p. 449 E] is represented as holding. If this be understood in such a way that a discourse, composed on any subject, is to be termed a speech, it is not the material, but the work; as the statue is the work of a statuary; for speeches, like statues, are produced by art. But if by this term we understand mere words, words are of no effect without matter. 2. Some have said that the material of oratory is persuasive arguments; which indeed are part of its business, and are the produce of art, but require material for their composition. Others say that its material is questions of civil administration; an opinion which is wrong, not as to the quality of the matter, but in the restriction attached; for such questions are the subject of oratory, but not the only subject.

3. Some, as oratory is a virtue, say that the subject of it is the whole of human life. Others, as no part of human life is affected by every virtue, but most virtues are concerned only with particular portions of life, (as justice, fortitude, temperance, are regarded as confined to their proper duties and their own limits,) say that oratory is to be restricted to one special part, and assign to it the pragmatic department of ethics, or that which relates to the transactions of civil life.

4. For my part, I consider, and not without authorities to support me, that the material of oratory is everything that may come before an orator for discussion. For Socrates in Plato seems to say to Gorgias [Gorg. p. 449-454] that the matter of oratory is not in words but in things. In the Phaedrus [P. 261 A] he plainly shows that oratory has place, not only in judicial proceedings and political deliberations, but also in private and domestic matters. Hence it is manifest that this was the opinion of Plato himself. 6. Cicero, too, in one passage [De Orat. i. 15; Inv. i. 4], calls the material of oratory the topics which are submitted to it for discussion, but supposes that particular topics only are submitted to it.

But in another passage [De Orat. i. 6] he gives his opinion that an orator has to speak upon all subjects, expressing himself in the following words: "The art of the orator, however, and his very profession of speaking well, seems to undertake and promise that he will speak elegantly and copiously on whatever subject may be proposed to him." 6. In a third passage [De Orat. iii. 14], also, he says: " But by an orator, whatever occurs in human life (since it is on human life that an orator's attention is to be fixed, as the matter that comes under his consideration) ought to have been examined, heard of, read, discussed, handled, and managed."

7. But this material of oratory, as we define it, that is, the subjects that come before it, some have at one time stigmatized as indefinite, at another as not belonging to oratory, and have called it, as thus characterized, an ars circumcurrens, an infinitely discursive art, as discoursing on any kind of subject. 8. With such as make these observations I have no great quarrel; for they allow that oratory speaks on all matters, though they deny that it has any peculiar material, because its material is manifold. 9. But though the material be manifold, it is not infinite; and other arts, of less consideration, deal with manifold material, as architecture, for instance, for it has to do with everything that is of use for building; and the art of engraving, which works with gold, silver, brass, and iron. As to sculpture, it extends itself, besides the metals which I have just named, to wood, ivory, marble, glass, and jewels.

10. Nor will a topic cease to belong to the orator because the professor of another art may treat of it; for if I should ask what is the material of the statuary, the answer will be "brass;" or if I should ask what is the material of the founder of vases, that is the worker in the art which the Greeks call χαλκευτικη, the reply would also be " brass;" though vases differ very much from statues. 11. Nor ought medicine to lose the name of an art, because anointing and exercise are common to it with the palaestra, or because a knowledge of the quality of meats is common to it with cookery.

12. As to the objection which some make, that it is the business of philosophy to discourse of what is good, useful, and just, it makes nothing against me; for when they say a philosopher, they mean a good man; and why then should I be surprised that an orator, whom I consider to be also a good man, should discourse upon the same subjects? 13. especially when I have shown, in the preceding book, that philosophers have taken possession of this province because it was abandoned by the orators, a province which had always belonged to oratory, so that the philosophers are rather trespassing upon our ground. Since it is the business of logic, too, to discuss whatever comes before it, and logic is uncontinuous oratory, why may not the business of continuous oratory be thought the same?

14. It is a remark constantly made by some, that an orator must he skilled in all arts if he is to speak upon all subjects. I might reply to this in the words of Cicero [De Orat. i. 6], in whom I find this passage: "In my opinion no man can become a thoroughly accomplished orator, unless he shall have attained a knowledge of every subject of importance, and of all the liberal arts;" but for my argument it is sufficient that an orator be acquainted with the subject on which he has to speak. 15. He has not a knowledge of all causes, and yet he ought to be able to speak upon all. On what causes, then, will he speak? on such as he has learned. The same will be the case also with regard to the arts and sciences; those on which he shall have to speak he will study for the occasion, and on those which he has studied he will speak.

16. What then, it may be said, will not a builder speak of building, or a musician of music, better than an orator? Assuredly he will speak better, if the orator does not know what is the subject of inquiry in the case before him, with regard to matters connected with those sciences. An ignorant and illiterate person, appearing before a court, will plead his own cause better than an orator who does not know what the subject of dispute is; but an orator will express what he has learned from the builder, or the musician, or from his client, better than the person who has instructed him. 17. But the builder will speak well on building, or the musician on music, if any point in those arts shall require to be established by his opinion; he will not he an orator, but he will perform his part like an orator, as when an unprofessional person binds up a wound, he will not be a surgeon, yet he will act as a surgeon.

18. Do subjects of this kind never come to be mentioned in panegyrical, or deliberative, or judicial oratory? When it was under deliberation, whether a harbor should be constructed at Ostia [see Suet. Claud. c. 20, where it is stated that the work had often been contemplated by Julius Caesar, but deferred from time to time on account of its difficulty], were not orators called to deliver opinions on the subject? yet what was wanted was the professional knowledge of the architect. 10. Does not the orator enter on the question, whether discolorations and tumors of the body are symptoms of ill health or of poison? yet such inquiries belong to the profession of medicine? Will an orator never have to speak of dimensions and numbers? yet we may say that such matters belong to mathematics; for my part, I believe that any subject whatever may, by some chance, come under the cognizance of the orator. If a matter does not come under his cognizance, he will have no concern with it.

20. Thus I have justly said, that the material of oratory is everything that is brought under its notice for discussion, an assertion which even our daily conversation supports, for whenever we have any subject on which to speak, we often signify by some prefatory remark, that the matter is laid before us. 31. So much was Gorgias  [Plato Gorg. p. 447 C. In reference to this passage of Plato, see Cic. de Orat. iii. 32; i. 22, de Inv. i. 5, de Fin. ii. 1] of opinion that an orator must speak of everything, that he allowed himself to be questioned by the people in his lecture-room, upon any subject on which any one of them chose to interrogate him. Hermagoras also, by saying, that "the matter of oratory lies in the cause and the questions connected with it," comprehends under it every subject that can possibly come before it for discussion. 22. If indeed he supposed that the questions do not belong to oratory, he is of a different opinion from me; but if they do belong to oratory, I am supported by his authority, for there is no subject that may not form part of a cause or the questions connected with it. 23. Aristotle [Rhet. i. 3, 8; Cic. de Invent. i. 5], too, by making three kinds of oratory, the judicial, the deliberative, and the demonstrative, has put almost everything into the hands of the orator, for there is no subject that may not enter into one of the three kinds.

24. An inquiry has been also started, though by a very few writers, concerning the instrument of oratory. The instrument I call that without which material cannot be fashioned and adapted to the object which we wish to effect. But I consider that it is not the art that requires the instrument, but the artificer. Professional knowledge needs no tool, as it may be complete though it produces nothing, but the artist must have his tool, as the engraver his graving-instrument, and the painter his pencils. I shall therefore reserve the consideration of this point for that part of my work in which I intend to speak of the orator.

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