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flesh or the will? Then do you admit that you possess anything superior to this (the will) ? and are you not mad ? are you in fact so blind and deaf?
What then? Does any man despise the other faculties? I hope not. Does any man say that there is no use or excellence in the speaking faculty? I hope not. That would be foolish, impious, ungrateful toward God. But a man renders to each thing its due value. For there is some use even in an ass, but not so much as in an ox; there is also use in a dog, but not so much as in a slave; there is also some use in a slave, but not so much as in citizens; there is also some' use in citizens, but not so much as in magistrates. Not, indeed, because some things are superior, must we undervalue the use which other things have. There is a certain value in the power of speaking, but it is not so great as the power of the will. When, then, I speak thus, let no man think that I ask you to neglect the power of speaking, for neither do I ask you to neglect the eyes nor the ears nor the hands por the feet, nor clothing nor shoes. But if you ask me what, then, is the most excellent of all things, what must I say? I cannot say the power of speaking, but the power of the will, when it is right. For it is this which uses the other (the power of speaking), and all the other faculties both small and great. For when this faculty of the will is set right, a man who is not good becomes good; but when it fails, a man becomes bad. It is through this that we are unfortunate, that we are fortunate, that we blame one another, are pleased with one another. In a word, it is this which, if we neglect it, makes unhappiness, and if we carefully look after it makes happiness.
But to take away the faculty of speaking and to say that there is no such faculty in reality is the act not only of an ungrateful man toward those who gave it, but also of a cowardly man; for such a person seems to me to fear, if there is any faculty of this kind, that we shall not be able to despise it. Such also are those who say that there is no difference between beauty and ugliness. Then it would happen that a man would be affected in the same way if he saw Thersites and if he saw Achilles; in the same way, if he saw Helen and any other woman. But these are foolish and clownish notions, and the notions of men who know not the nature of each thing, but are afraid if a man shall see the difference, that he shall immediately be seized and carried off vanquished. But this is the great matter; to leave to each thing the power (faculty) which it has, and leaving to it this power to see what is the worth of the power, and to learn what is the most excellent of all things, and to pursue this always, to be diligent about this, considering all other things of secondary value compared with this, but yet, as far as we can, not neglecting all those other things. For we must take care of the eyes also, not as if they were the most excellent thing, but we must take care of them on account of the most excellent thing, because it will not be in its true natural condition if it does not rightly use the other faculties, and prefer some things to others.
What, then, is usually done ? Men generally act as a traveler would do on his way to his own country, when he enters a good inn, and, being pleased with it, should remain there. Man, you have forgotten your purpose: you were not traveling to this inn, but you were passing through it. But this is a pleasant inn. And how many other inns are pleasant ? and how many meadows are pleasant ? yet only for passing through. But your purpose is this, to return to your country, to relieve your kinsmen of anxiety, to discharge the duties of a citizen, to marry, to beget children, to fill the usual magistracies. For you are not come to select more pleasant places, but to live in these where you were born and of which you were made a citizen. Something of the kind takes place in the matter which we are considering. Since by the aid of speech and such communication as you receive here you must advance to perfection, and purge your will and correct the faculty which makes use of the , appearances of things; and since it is necessary also for the teaching (delivery) of theorems to be effected by a certain mode of expression and with a certain variety and sharpness, some persons captivated by these very things abide in them, one captivated by the expression, another by syllogisms, another again by sophisms, and still another by some other inn of the kind; and there they stay and waste away as if they were among sirens.
Man, your purpose (business) was to make yourself capable of using conformably to nature the appearances presented to you, in your desires not to be frustrated, in your aversion from things not to fall into that which you would avoid, never to have no luck (as one may say), nor ever to have bad luck, to be free, not hindered, not compelled, conforming yourself to the administration of God, obeying it, well satisfied with this, blaming no one, charging no one with fault, able from your whole soul to utter these words:
(Lead me, O Zeus, and thou too Destiny."
Then having this purpose before you, if some little form of expression pleases you, if some theorems please you, do you abide among them and choose to dwell there, forgetting the things at home, and do you say, These things are fine? Who says that they are not fine? but only as being a way home, as inns are. For what hinders you from being an unfortunate man, even if you speak like Demosthenes ? and what prevents you, if you can resolve syllogisms like Chrysippus, from being wretched, from sorrowing, from envying, in a word, from being disturbed, from being unhappy? Nothing. You see, then, that these were inns, worth nothing; and that the purpose before you was something else. When I speak thus to some persons, they think that I am rejecting care about speaking or care about theorems. But I am not rejecting this care, but I am rejecting the abiding about these things incessantly and putting our hopes in them. If a man by this teaching does harm to those who listen to him, reckon me too among those who do this harm; for I am not able, when I see one thing which is most excellent and supreme, to say that another is so in order to please you.
Long's translation of the «Discourses,
Book II., Chap. xxiii.
(c. 55–6. 117 A. D.)
H E “Dialogue on Oratory” left by Tacitus is one of the best of his
miscellaneous essays. As he was one of the most noted profesSe sional orators of his generation in Rome, what he says may be accepted as coming from an expert. Born about 55 A. D., and living under some of the worst emperors, he remained a steadfast friend of free insti. tutions. Both in his «History and his « Annals ” he has set all after times an example of high moral courage and devotion to truth. To these qualities even more than to his admirable style he owes the high estimation in which he has been held for nearly twenty centuries. The exact date of his death is not known, but it is fixed approximately at 117 A. D.
THE REWARDS OF ORATORY
In the most splendid fortune, in all the dignity and pride of power, is there any.
thing that can equal the heartfelt satisfaction of the able advocate when he
sees the most illustrious citizens, men respected for their years, and flourishing in the opinion of the public, yet paying their court to a rising genius, and, in the midst of wealth and grandeur, fairly owning that they still want something superior to all their possessions ?
What shall be said of the attendants that follow the young orator from the bar, and watch his motions to his own house? With what importance does he appear to the multitude! In the courts of judicature, with what veneration! When he rises to speak, the audience is hushed in mute attention; every eye is fixed on him alone; the crowd presses round him; he is master of their passions; they are swayed, impelled, directed, as he thinks proper. These are the fruits of eloquence, well known to all, and palpable to every common observer.
There are other pleasures more refined and secret, felt only by the initiated. When the orator, upon some great occasion, comes with a well-digested speech, conscious of his matter, and animated by his subject, his breast expands, and heaves with emotions unfelt before. In his joy there is a dignity suited to the weight and energy of the composition which he has prepared. Does he rise to hazard himself in a sudden debate ? He is alarmed for himself, but in that very alarm there is a mingling of pleasure which predominates till distress itself becomes delightful. The mind exults in the prompt exertion of its powers, and even glories in its rashness. The productions of genius, and those of the field have this resemblance: many things are sown, and brought to maturity with toil and care; yet that, which grows from the wild vigor of nature, has the most grateful flavor.
As to myself, if I may allude to my own feelings, the day on which I put on the manly gown, and even the days that followed, when, as a new man at Rome, born in a city that did not favor my pretensions, I rose in succession to the offices of questor, tribune, and pretor; those days, I say, did not awaken in my breast such exalted rapture as when, in the course of my profession, I was called forth, with such talents as have fallen to my share, to defend the accused; to argue a question of law before the centumviri, or, in the presence of the prince, to plead for his freedom and the procurators appointed by himself. Upon those occasions I towered above all places of profit, and all preferment; I looked down on the dig. nities of tribune, pretor, and consul; I felt within myself what neither the favor of the great nor the wills and codicils of the rich can give, a vigor of mind, an inward energy, that springs from no external cause, but is altogether your own.
Look through the circle of the fine arts, survey the whole compass of the sciences, and tell me in what branch can the professors acquire a name to vie with the celebrity of a great and powerful orator. His fame does not depend on the opinion of thinking men, who attend to business and watch the administration of affairs; he is applauded by the youth of Rome, at least by such of them as are of a wellturned disposition, and hope to rise by honorable means. The eminent orator is the model which every parent recommends to his children. Even the common people stand and gaze as he passes by; they pronounce his name with pleasure, and point at him as the object of their admiration. The provinces resound with his praise. The strangers, who arrive from all parts, have heard of his genius; they wish to behold the man, and their curiosity is never at rest till they have seen his person, and perused his countenance.
From the Dialogue on Oratory.”
ON THE EDUCATION OF AN ORATOR
The unwearied diligence of the ancient orators, their habits of meditation, and
their daily exercise in the whole circle of arts and sciences, are amply dis
played in the books which they have transmitted to us. The treatise of Cicero, entitled “Brutus,” is in all our hands. In that work, after commemorating the orators of a former day, he closes the account with the particulars of his own progress in science, and the method he took in educating himself to the profession of oratory. He studied the civil law under Mucius Scævola; he was instructed in the various systems of philosophy, by Philo of the academic school, and by Diodorus the Stoic; and though Rome at that time abounded with the best professors, he made a voyage to Greece and thence to Asia, in order to enrich his mind with every branch of learning. Hence that store of knowledge which appears in all his writings. Geometry, music, grammar, and every useful art were familiar to him. He embraced the whole science of logic and ethics. He studied the operations of nature. His diligence of inquiry opened to him the long chain of causes and effects, and, in short, the whole system of physiology was his own. From a mind thus replenished, it is no wonder, my good friends, that we see in the compositions of that extraordinary man that affluence of ideas, and that prodigious flow of eloquence. In fact, it is not with oratory as with the other arts, which are confined to certain objects, and circumscribed within their own peculiar limits. He alone deserves the name of an orator, who can speak in a copious style, with ease or dignity, as the subject requires; who can find language to decorate his argument; who through the passions can command the understanding; and, while he serves mankind, knows how to delight the judgment and the imagination of his audience.
Such was, in ancient times, the idea of an orator. To form that illustrious character, it was not thought necessary to declaim in the schools of rhetoricians, or to make a vain parade in fictitious controversies, which were not only void of all reality, but even of a shadow of probability. Our ancestors pursued a different plan: they stored their minds with just ideas of moral good and evil; with the rules of right and wrong, and the fair and foul in human transactions. These, on every controverted point, are the orator's province. In courts of law, just and unjust undergo his discussion; in political debate, between what is expedient and honorable, it is his to draw the line; and those questions are so blended in their nature, that they enter into every cause. On such important topics, who can hope to bring variety of matter, and to dignify that matter with style and sentiment, if he has not beforehand enlarged his mind with the knowledge of human nature ? with the laws of moral obligation ? the deformity of vice, the beauty of virtue? and other points which do not immediately belong to the theory of ethics ?
The orator, who has enriched his mind with these materials, may be truly said to have acquired the powers of persuasion. He who knows the nature of indignation will be able to kindle or allay that passion in the breast of the judge; and the advocate, who has considered the effect of compassion, and from what secret springs it lows, will best know how to soften the mind, and melt it into tenderness. It is by these secrets of his art that the orator gains his influence. Whether he has to do with the prejudiced, the angry, the envious, the melancholy, or the timid, he can bridle their various passions, and hold the reins in his own hand. According to the disposition of his audience, he will know when to check the work. ings of the heart, and when to raise them to their full tumult of emotion.
Some critics are chiefly pleased with that close mode of oratory, which in a laconic manner states the facts, and forms an immediate conclusion; in that case it is obvious how necessary it is to be a complete master of the rules of logic. Others delight in a more open, free, and copious style, where the arguments are drawn from the topics of general knowledge; for this purpose, the peripatetic school will supply the orator with ample materials. The academic philosopher will inspire him with warmth and energy; Plato will give the sublime, and Xenophon that equal flow which charms us in that amiable writer. The rhetorical figure, which is called exclamation, so frequent with Epicurus and Metrodorus, will add to a discourse those sudden breaks of passion, which give motion, strength, and vehemence.
It is not for the Stoic school, nor for their imaginary wise man, that I am laying down rules. I am forming an orator, whose business it is, not to adhere to one sect, but to go the round of all the arts and sciences. Accordingly we find that the great masters of ancient eloquence laid their foundation in a thorough study of the civil law, and to that fund they added grammar, music, and geometry. The fact is, in most of the causes that occur, perhaps in every cause, a due knowledge of the whole system of jurisprudence is an indispensable requisite. There are likewise many subjects of litigation, in which an acquaintance with other sciences is of the highest use.
From the « Dialogue on Oratory.”