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Cicero's Brutus or History of Famous Orators; also His Orator, or Accomplished Speaker. by Marcus Tullius Cicero

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Now first translated into English by E. Jones


As the following Rhetorical Pieces have never appeared before in the
English language, I thought a Translation of them would be no unacceptable
offering to the Public. The character of the Author (Marcus Tullius
Cicero) is so universally celebrated, that it would be needless, and
indeed impertinent, to say any thing to recommend them.

The first of them was the fruit of his retirement, during the remains of
the _Civil War_ in Africa; and was composed in the form of a Dialogue. It
contains a few short, but very masterly sketches of all the Speakers
who had flourished either in Greece or Rome, with any reputation of
Eloquence, down to his own time; and as he generally touches the principal
incidents of their lives, it will be considered, by an attentive reader,
as a _concealed epitome of the Roman history_. The conference is supposed
to have been held with Atticus, and their common friend Brutus, in
Cicero's garden at Rome, under the statue of Plato, whom he always
admired, and usually imitated in his dialogues: and he seems in this to
have copied even his _double titles_, calling it _Brutus, or the History
of famous Orators_. It was intended as a _supplement_, or _fourth book_,
to three former ones, on the qualifications of an Orator.

The second, which is intitled _The Orator_, was composed a very short time
afterwards (both of them in the 61st year of his age) and at the request
of Brutus. It contains a plan, or critical delineation, of what he himself
esteemed the most finished Eloquence, or style of Speaking. He calls it
_The Fifth Part, or Book_, designed to complete his _Brutus_, and _the
former three_ on the same subject. It was received with great approbation;
and in a letter to Lepta, who had complimented him upon it, he declares,
that whatever judgment he had in Speaking, he had thrown it all into that
work, and was content to risk his reputation on the merit of it. But it is
particularly recommended to our curiosity, by a more exact account of the
rhetorical _composition_, or _prosaic harmony_ of the ancients, than is to
be met with in any other part of his works.

As to the present Translation, I must leave the merit of it to be decided
by the Public; and have only to observe, that though I have not, to my
knowledge, omitted a single sentence of the original, I was obliged, in
some places, to paraphrase my author, to render his meaning intelligible
to a modern reader. My chief aim was to be clear and perspicuous: if I
have succeeded in _that_, it is all I pretend to. I must leave it to abler
pens to copy the _Eloquence_ of Cicero. _Mine_ is unequal to the task.


When I had left Cilicia, and arrived at Rhodes, word was brought me of the
death of Hortensius. I was more affected with it than, I believe, was
generally expected. For, by the loss of my friend, I saw myself for ever
deprived of the pleasure of his acquaintance, and of our mutual
intercourse of good offices. I likewise reflected, with Concern, that the
dignity of our College must suffer greatly by the decease of such an
eminent augur. This reminded me, that _he_ was the person who first
introduced me to the College, where he attested my qualification upon
oath; and that it was _he_ also who installed me as a member; so that I
was bound by the constitution of the Order to respect and honour him as a
parent. My affliction was increased, that, in such a deplorable dearth of
wife and virtuous citizens, this excellent man, my faithful associate in
the service of the Public, expired at the very time when the Commonwealth
could least spare him, and when we had the greatest reason to regret the
want of his prudence and authority. I can add, very sincerely, that in
_him_ I lamented the loss, not (as most people imagined) of a dangerous
rival and competitor, but of a generous partner and companion in the
pursuit of same. For if we have instances in history, though in studies of
less public consequence, that some of the poets have been greatly
afflicted at the death of their contemporary bards; with what tender
concern should I honour the memory of a man, with whom it is more glorious
to have disputed the prize of eloquence, than never to have met with an
antagonist! especially, as he was always so far from obstructing _my_
endeavours, or I _his_, that, on the contrary, we mutually assisted each
other, with our credit and advice.

But as _he_, who had a perpetual run of felicity, left the world at a
happy moment for himself, though a most unfortunate one for his fellow-
citizens; and died when it would have been much easier for him to lament
the miseries of his country, than to assist it, after living in it as long
as he _could_ have lived with honour and reputation;--we may, indeed,
deplore his death as a heavy loss to _us_ who survive him. If, however, we
consider it merely as a personal event, we ought rather to congratulate
his fate, than to pity it; that, as often as we revive the memory of this
illustrious and truly happy man, we may appear at least to have as much
affection for him as for ourselves. For if we only lament that we are no
longer permitted to enjoy him, it must, indeed, be acknowledged that this
is a heavy misfortune to _us_; which it, however, becomes us to support
with moderation, less our sorrow should be suspected to arise from motives
of interest, and not from friendship. But if we afflict ourselves, on the
supposition that _he_ was the sufferer;--we misconstrue an event, which to
_him_ was certainly a very happy one.

If Hortensius was now living, he would probably regret many other
advantages in common with his worthy fellow-citizens. But when he beheld
the Forum, the great theatre in which he used to exercise his genius, no
longer accessible to that accomplished eloquence, which could charm the
ears of a Roman, or a Grecian audience; he must have felt a pang of which
none, or at least but few, besides himself, could be susceptible. Even _I_
am unable to restrain my tears, when I behold my country no longer
defensible by the genius, the prudence, and the authority of a legal
magistrate,--the only weapons which I have learned to weild, and to which
I have long been accustomed, and which are most suitable to the character
of an illustrious citizen, and of a virtuous and well-regulated state.

But if there ever was a time, when the authority and eloquence of an
honest individual could have wrested their arms from the hands of his
distracted fellow-citizens; it was then when the proposal of a compromise
of our mutual differences was rejected, by the hasty imprudence of some,
and the timorous mistrust of others. Thus it happened, among other
misfortunes of a more deplorable nature, that when my declining age, after
a life spent in the service of the Public, should have reposed in the
peaceful harbour, not of an indolent, and a total inactivity, but of a
moderate and becoming retirement; and when my eloquence was properly
mellowed, and had acquired its full maturity;--thus it happened, I say,
that recourse was then had to those fatal arms, which the persons who had
learned the use of them in honourable conquest, could no longer employ to
any salutary purpose. Those, therefore, appear to me to have enjoyed a
fortunate and a happy life, (of whatever State they were members, but
especially in _our's_) who held their authority and reputation, either for
their military or political services, without interruption: and the sole
remembrance of them, in our present melancholy situation, was a pleasing
relief to me, when we lately happened to mention them in the course of

For, not long ago, when I was walking for my amusement, in a private
avenue at home, I was agreeably interrupted by my friend Brutus, and T.
Pomponius, who came, as indeed they frequently did, to visit me;--two
worthy citizens who were united to each other in the closest friendship,
and were so dear and so agreeable to me, that, on the first sight of them,
all my anxiety for the Commonwealth subsided. After the usual
salutations,--"Well, gentlemen," said I, "how go the times? What news have
you brought?" "None," replied Brutus, "that you would wish to hear, or
that I can venture to tell you for truth."--"No," said Atticus; "we are
come with an intention that all matters of state should be dropped; and
rather to hear something from you, than to say any thing which might serve
to distress you." "Indeed," said I, "your company is a present remedy for
my sorrow; and your letters, when absent, were so encouraging, that they
first revived my attention to my studies."--"I remember," replied
Atticus, "that Brutus sent you a letter from Asia, which I read with
infinite pleasure: for he advised you in it like a man of sense, and gave
you every consolation which the warmest friendship could suggest."--
"True," said I, "for it was the receipt of that letter which recovered me
from a growing indisposition, to behold once more the cheerful face of
day; and as the Roman State, after the dreadful defeat near Cannae, first
raised its drooping head by the victory of Marcellus at Nola, which was
succeeded by many other victories; so, after the dismal wreck of our
affairs, both public and private, nothing occurred to me before the letter
of my friend Brutus, which I thought to be worth my attention, or which
contributed, in any degree, to the anxiety of my heart."--"That was
certainly my intention," answered Brutus; "and if I had the happiness to
succeed, I was sufficiently rewarded for my trouble. But I could wish to
be informed, what you received from Atticus which gave you such uncommon
pleasure."--"That," said I, "which not only entertained me; but, I hope,
has restored me entirely to myself."--"Indeed!" replied he; "and what
miraculous composition could that be?"--"Nothing," answered I; "could have
been a more acceptable, or a more seasonable present, than that excellent
Treatise of his which roused me from a state of languor and despondency."
--"You mean," said he, "his short, and, I think, very accurate abridgment
of Universal History."--"The very same," said I; "for that little Treatise
has absolutely saved me."--"I am heartily glad of it," said Atticus; "but
what could you discover in it which was either new to you, or so
wonderfully beneficial as you pretend?"--"It certainly furnished many
hints," said I, "which were entirely new to me: and the exact order of
time which you observed through the whole, gave me the opportunity I had
long wished for, of beholding the history of all nations in one regular
and comprehensive view. The attentive perusal of it proved an excellent
remedy for my sorrows, and led me to think of attempting something on your
own plan, partly to amuse myself, and partly to return your favour, by a
grateful, though not an equal acknowledgment. We are commanded, it is
true, in that precept of Hesiod, so much admired by the learned, to return
with the same measure we have received; or, if possible, with a larger. As
to a friendly inclination, I shall certainly return you a full proportion
of it; but as to a recompence in kind, I confess it to be out of my power,
and therefore hope you will excuse me: for I have no first-fruits (like a
prosperous husbandman) to acknowledge the obligation I have received; my
whole harvest having sickened and died, for want of the usual manure: and
as little am I able to present you with any thing from those hidden stores
which are now consigned to perpetual darkness, and to which I am denied
all access; though, formerly, I was almost the only person who was able to
command them at pleasure. I must therefore, try my skill in a long-
neglected and uncultivated soil; which I will endeavour to improve with so
much care, that I may be able to repay your liberality with interest;
provided my genius should be so happy as to resemble a fertile field,
which, after being suffered to lie fallow a considerable time, produces a
heavier crop than usual."--"Very well," replied Atticus, "I shall expect
the fulfilment of your promise; but I shall not insist upon it till it
suits your convenience; though, after all, I shall certainly be better
pleased if you discharge the obligation."--"And I also," said Brutus,
"shall expect that you perform your promise to my friend Atticus: nay,
though I am only his voluntary solicitor, I shall, perhaps, be very
pressing for the discharge of a debt, which the creditor himself is
willing to submit to your own choice."--"But I shall refuse to pay you,"
said I, "unless the original creditor takes no farther part in the suit."
--"This is more than I can promise," replied he, "for I can easily
foresee, that this easy man, who disclaims all severity, will urge his
demand upon you, not indeed to distress you, but yet very closely and
seriously."--"To speak ingenuously," said Atticus, "my friend Brutus, I
believe, is not much mistaken: for as I now find you in good spirits, for
the first time, after a tedious interval of despondency, I shall soon make
bold to apply to you; and as this gentleman has promised his assistance,
to recover what you owe me, the least I can do is to solicit, in my turn,
for what is due to him."

"Explain your meaning," said I.--"I mean," replied he, "that you must
write something to amuse us; for your pen has been totally silent this
long time; and since your Treatise on Politics, we have had nothing from
you of any kind; though it was the perusal of that which fired me with the
ambition to write an Abridgment of Universal History. But we shall,
however, leave you to answer this demand, when, and in what manner you
shall think most convenient. At present, if you are not otherwise engaged,
you must give us your sentiments on a subject on which we both desire to
be better informed."--"And what is that?" said I.--"What you gave me a
hasty sketch of," replied he, "when I saw you last at Tusculanum,--the
History of Famous Orators;--_when_ they made their appearance, and _who_
and _what_ they were; which, furnished such an agreeable train of
conversation, that when I related the substance of it to _your_, or I
ought rather to have said our _common_ friend, Brutus, he expressed a
violent desire to hear the whole of it from your own mouth. Knowing you,
therefore, to be at leisure, we have taken the present opportunity to wait
upon you; so that, if it is really convenient, you will oblige us both by
resuming the subject."--"Well, gentlemen," said I, "as you are so
pressing, I will endeavour to satisfy you in the best manner I am able."--
"You are _able_ enough," replied he; "only unbend yourself a little, or,
if you can set your mind at full liberty."--"If I remember right," said I,
"Atticus, what gave rise to the conversation, was my observing, that the
cause of Deiotarus, a most excellent Sovereign, and a faithful ally, was
pleaded by our friend Brutus, in my hearing, with the greatest elegance
and dignity."--"True," replied he, "and you took occasion from the ill
success of Brutus, to lament the loss of a fair administration of justice
in the Forum."--"I did so," answered I, "as indeed I frequently do: and
whenever I see you, my Brutus, I am concerned to think where your
wonderful genius, your finished erudition, and unparalleled industry will
find a theatre to display themselves. For after you had thoroughly
improved your abilities, by pleading a variety of important causes; and
when my declining vigour was just giving way, and lowering the ensigns of
dignity to your more active talents; the liberty of the State received a
fatal overthrow, and that Eloquence, of which we are now to give the
History, was condemned to perpetual silence."--"Our other misfortunes,"
replied Brutus, "I lament sincerely; and I think I ought to lament them:--
but as to Eloquence, I am not so fond of the influence and the glory it
bestows, as of the study and the practice of it, which nothing can deprive
me of, while you are so well disposed to assist me: for no man can be an
eloquent speaker, who has not a clear and ready conception. Whoever,
therefore, applies himself to the study of Eloquence, is at the same time
improving his judgment, which is a talent equally necessary in all
military operations."

"Your remark," said I, "is very just; and I have a higher opinion of the
merit of eloquence, because, though there is scarcely any person so
diffident as not to persuade himself, that he either has, or may acquire
every other accomplishment which, formerly, could have given him
consequence in the State; I can find no person who has been made an orator
by the success of his military prowess.--But that we may carry on the
conversation with greater ease, let us seat ourselves."--As my visitors
had no objection to this, we accordingly took our seats in a private lawn,
near a statue of Plato.

Then resuming the conversation,--"to recommend the study of eloquence,"
said I, "and describe its force, and the great dignity it confers upon
those who have acquired it, is neither our present design, nor has any
necessary connection with it. But I will not hesitate to affirm, that
whether it is acquired by art or practice, or the mere powers of nature,
it is the most difficult of all attainments; for each of the five branches
of which it is said to consist, is of itself a very important art; from
whence it may easily be conjectured, how great and arduous must be the
profession which unites and comprehends them all.

"Greece alone is a sufficient witness of this:--for though she was fired
with a wonderful love of Eloquence, and has long since excelled every
other nation in the practice of it, yet she had all the rest of the arts
much earlier; and had not only invented, but even compleated them, a
considerable time before she was mistress of the full powers of elocution.
But when I direct my eyes to Greece, your beloved Athens, my Atticus,
first strikes my sight, and is the brightest object in my view: for in
that illustrious city the _orator_ first made his appearance, and it is
there we shall find the earliest records of eloquence, and the first
specimens of a discourse conducted by rules of art. But even in Athens
there is not a single production now extant which discovers any taste for
ornament, or seems to have been the effort of a real orator, before the
time of Pericles (whose name is prefixed to some orations which still
remain) and his cotemporary Thucydides; who flourished,--not in the
infancy of the State, but when it was arrived at its full maturity of

"It is, however, supposed, that Pisistratus (who lived many years before)
together with Solon, who was something older, and Clisthenes, who survived
them both, were very able speakers for the age they lived in. But some
years after these, as may be collected from the Attic Annals, came the
above-mentioned Themistocles, who is said to have been as much
distinguished by his eloquence as by his political abilities;--and after
him the celebrated Pericles, who, though adorned with every kind of
excellence, was most admired for his talent of speaking. Cleon also (their
cotemporary) though a turbulent citizen, was allowed to be a tolerable

"These were immediately succeeded by Alcibiades, Critias, and Theramenes,
whose manner of speaking may be easily inferred from the writings of
Thucydides, who lived at the same time: their discourses were nervous and
stately, full of sententious remarks, and so excessively concise as to be
sometimes obscure. But as soon as the force of a regular and a well-
adjusted speech was understood, a sudden crowd of rhetoricians appeared,--
such as Gorgias the Leontine, Thrasymachus the Chalcedonian, Protagoras
the Abderite, and Hippias the Elean, who were all held in great esteem,--
with many others of the same age, who professed (it must be owned, rather
too arrogantly) to teach their scholars,--_how the worse might be made, by
the force of eloquence, to appear the better cause_. But these were openly
opposed by the famous Socrates, who, by an adroit method of arguing which
was peculiar to himself, took every opportunity to refute the principles
of their art. His instructive conferences produced a number of intelligent
men, and _Philosophy_ is said to have derived her birth from him;--not the
doctrine of _Physics_, which was of an earlier date, but that Philosophy
which treats of men, and manners, and of the nature of good and evil. But
as this is foreign to our present subject, we must defer the Philosophers
to another opportunity, and return to the Orators, from whom I have
ventured to make a sort digression.

"When the professors therefore, abovementioned were in the decline of
life, Isocrates made his appearance, whos house stood open to all Greece
as the _School of Eloquence_. He was an accomplished orator, and an
excellent teacher; though he did not display his talents in the Forum, but
cherished and improved that glory within the walls of his academy, which,
in my opinion, no poet has ever yet acquired. He composed many valuable
specimens of his art, and taught the principles of it to others; and not
only excelled his predecessors in every part of it, but first discovered
that a certain _metre_ should be observed in prose, though totally
different from the measured rhyme of the poets. Before _him_, the
artificial structure and harmony of language was unknown;--or if there are
any traces of it to be discovered, they appear to have been made without
design; which, perhaps, will be thought a beauty:--but whatever it may be
deemed, it was, in the present case, the effect rather of native genius,
or of accident, than of art and observation. For mere nature itself will
measure and limit our sentences by a convenient compass of words; and when
they are thus confined to a moderate flow of expression, they will
frequently have a _numerous_ cadence:--for the ear alone can decide what
is full and complete, and what is deficient; and the course of our
language will necessarily be regulated by our breath, in which it is
excessively disagreeable, not only to fail, but even to labour.

"After Isocrates came Lysias, who, though not personally engaged in
forensic causes, was a very artful and an elegant composer, and such a one
as you might almost venture to pronounce a complete orator: for
Demosthenes is the man who approaches the character so nearly, that you
may apply it to him without hesitation. No keen, no artful turns could
have been contrived for the pleadings he has left behind him, which he did
not readily discover;--nothing could have been expressed with greater
nicety, or more clearly and poignantly, than it has been already expressed
by him;--and nothing greater, nothing more rapid and forcible, nothing
adorned with a nobler elevation either of language, or sentiment, can be
conceived than what is to be found in his orations. He was soon rivalled
by his cotemporaries Hyperides, Aeschines, Lycurgus, Dinarchus, and
Demades (none of whose writings are extant) with many others that might be
mentioned: for this age was adorned with a profusion of good orators; and
the genuine strength and vigour of Eloquence appears to me to have
subsisted to the end of this period, which was distinguished by a natural
beauty of composition without disguise or affectation.

"When these orators were in the decline of life, they were succeeded by
Phalereus; who was then in the prime of youth. He was indeed a man of
greater learning than any of them, but was fitter to appear on the parade,
than in the field; and, accordingly, he rather pleased and entertained the
Athenians, than inflamed their passions; and marched forth into the dust
and heat of the Forum, not from a weather-beaten tent, but from the shady
recesses of Theophrastus, a man of consummate erudition. He was the first
who relaxed the force of Eloquence, and gave her a soft and tender air:
and he rather chose to be agreeable, as indeed he was, than great and
striking; but agreeable in such a manner as rather charmed, than warmed
the mind of the hearer. His greatest ambition was to impress his audience
with a high opinion of his elegance, and not, as Eupolis relates of
Pericles, to _sting_ as well as to _please_.

"You see, then, in the very city in which Eloquence was born and nurtured,
how late it was before she grew to maturity; for before the time of Solon
and Pisistratus, we meet with no one who is so much as mentioned for his
talent of speaking. These, indeed, if we compute by the Roman date, may be
reckoned very ancient; but if by that of the Athenians, we shall find them
to be moderns. For though they flourished in the reign of Servius Tullius,
Athens had then subsisted much longer than Rome has at present. I have
not, however, the least doubt that the power of Eloquence has been always
more or less conspicuous. For Homer, we may suppose, would not have
ascribed such superior talents of elocution to Ulysses, and Nestor (one of
whom he celebrates for his force, and the other for his sweetness) unless
the art of Speaking had then been held in some esteem; nor could the Poet
himself have been master of such an ornamental style, and so excellent a
vein of Oratory as we actually find in him.--The time indeed in which he
lived is undetermined: but we are certain that he flourished many years
before Romulus: for he was at least of as early a date as the elder
Lycurgus, the legislator of the Spartans.

"But a particular attention to the art, and a greater ability in the
practice of it, may be observed in Pisistratus. He was succeeded in the
following century by Themistocles, who, according to the Roman date, was a
person of the remotest antiquity; but, according to that of the Athenians,
he was almost a modern. For he lived when Greece was in the height of her
power, but when the city of Rome had but lately freed herself from the
shackles of regal tyranny;--for the dangerous war with the Volsci, who
were headed by Coriolanus (then a voluntary exile) happened nearly at the
same time as the Persian war; and we may add, that the fate of both
commanders was remarkably similar. Each of them, after distinguishing
himself as an excellent citizen, being driven from his country by the
wrongs of an ungrateful people, went over to the enemy: and each of them
repressed the efforts of his resentment by a voluntary death. For though
you, my Atticus, have represented the exit of Coriolanus in a different
manner, you must give me leave to dispatch him in the way I have
mentioned."--"You may use your pleasure," replied Atticus with a smile:
"for it is the privilege of rhetoricians to exceed the truth of history,
that they may have an opportunity of embellishing the fate of their
heroes: and accordingly, Clitarchus and Stratocles have entertained us
with the same pretty fiction about the death of Themistocles, which you
have invented for Coriolanus. Thucydides, indeed, who was himself an
Athenian of the highest rank and merit, and lived nearly at the same time,
has only informed us that he died, and was privately buried in Attica,
adding, that it was suspected by some that he had poisoned himself. But
these ingenious writers have assured us, that, having slain a bull at the
altar, he caught the blood in a large bowl, and, drinking it off, fell
suddenly dead upon the ground. For this species of death had a tragical
air, and might be described with all the pomp of rhetoric; whereas the
ordinary way of dying afforded no opportunity for ornament. As it will,
therefore, suit your purpose, that Coriolanus should resemble Themistocles
in every thing, I give you leave to introduce the fatal bowl; and you may
still farther heighten the catastrophe by a solemn sacrifice, that
Coriolanus may appear in all respects to have been a second Themistocles."

"I am much obliged to you," said I, "for your courtesy: but, for the
future, I shall be more cautious in meddling with History when you are
present; whom I may justly commend as a most exact and scrupulous relator
of the Roman History; but nearly at the time we are speaking of (though
somewhat later) lived the above-mentioned Pericles, the illustrious son of
Xantippus, who first improved his eloquence by the friendly aids of
literature;--not that kind of literature which treats professedly of the
art of Speaking, of which there was then no regular system; but after he
had studied under Anaxagoras the Naturalist, he easily transferred his
capacity from abstruse and intricate speculations to forensic and popular

"All Athens was charmed with the sweetness of his language; and not only
admired him for his fluency, but was awed by the superior force and the
_terrors_ of his eloquence. This age, therefore, which may be considered
as the infancy of the Art, furnished Athens with an Orator who almost
reached the summit of his profession: for an emulation to shine in the
Forum is not usually found among a people who are either employed in
settling the form of their government, or engaged in war, or struggling
with difficulties, or subjected to the arbitrary power of Kings. Eloquence
is the attendant of peace, the companion of ease and prosperity, and the
tender offspring of a free and a well established constitution. Aristotle,
therefore, informs us, that when the Tyrants were expelled from Sicily,
and private property (after a long interval of servitude) was determined
by public trials, the Sicilians Corax and Tisias (for this people, in
general, were very quick and acute, and had a natural turn for
controversy) first attempted to write precepts on the art of Speaking.
Before them, he says, there was no one who spoke by method, and rules of
art, though there were many who discoursed very sensibly, and generally
from written notes: but Protagoras took the pains to compose a number of
dissertations, on such leading and general topics as are now called common
places. Gorgias, he adds, did the same, and wrote panegyrics and
invectives on every subject: for he thought it was the province of an
Orator to be able either to exaggerate, or extenuate, as occasion might
require. Antiphon the Rhamnusian composed several essays of the same
species; and (according to Thucydides, a very respectable writer, who was
present to hear him) pleaded a capital cause in his own defence, with as
much eloquence as had ever yet been displayed by any man. But Lysias was
the first who openly professed the _Art_; and, after him, Theodorus, being
better versed in the theory than the practice of it, begun to compose
orations for others to pronounce; but reserved the method of doing it to
himself. In the same manner, Isocrates at first disclaimed the Art, but
wrote speeches for other people to deliver; on which account, being often
prosecuted for assisting, contrary to law, to circumvent one or another of
the parties in judgment, he left off composing orations for other people,
and wholly applied himself to writing rules and systems.

"Thus then we have traced the birth and origin of the Orators of Greece,
who were, indeed, very ancient, as I have before observed, if we compute
by the Roman Annals; but of a much later date, if we reckon by their own:
for the Athenian State had signalized itself by a variety of great
exploits, both at home and abroad, a considerable time before she was
ravished with the charms of Eloquence. But this noble Art was not common
to Greece in general, but almost peculiar to Athens. For who has ever
heard of an Argive, a Corinthian, or a Theban Orator at the times we are
speaking of? unless, perhaps, some merit of the kind may be allowed to
Epaminondas, who was a man of uncommon erudition. But I have never read of
a Lacedemonian Orator, from the earliest period of time to the present.
For Menelaus himself, though said by Homer to have possessed a sweet
elocution, is likewise described as a man of few words. Brevity, indeed,
upon some occasions, is a real excellence; but it is very far from being
compatible with the general character of Eloquence.

"The Art of Speaking was likewise studied, and admired, beyond the limits
of Greece; and the extraordinary honours which were paid to Oratory have
perpetuated the names of many foreigners who had the happiness to excel in
it. For no sooner had Eloquence ventured to sail from the Pireaeus, but
she traversed all the isles, and visited every part of Asia; till at last
she infected herself with their manners, and lost all the purity and the
healthy complexion of the Attic style, and indeed had almost forgot her
native language. The Asiatic Orators, therefore, though not to be
undervalued for the rapidity and the copious variety of their elocution,
were certainly too loose and luxuriant. But the Rhodians were of a sounder
constitution, and more resembled the Athenians. So much, then, for the
Greeks; for, perhaps, what I have already said of them, is more than was

"As to the necessity of it," answered Brutus, "there is no occasion to
speak of it: but what you have said of them has entertained me so
agreeably, that instead of being longer, it has been much shorter than I
could have wished."--"A very handsome compliment," said I;--"but it is
time to begin with our own countrymen, of whom it is difficult to give any
further account than what we are able to conjecture from our Annals.--For
who can question the address, and the capacity of Brutus, the illustrious
founder of your family? That Brutus, who so readily discovered the meaning
of the Oracle, which promised the supremacy to him who should first salute
his mother? That Brutus, who concealed the most consummate abilities under
the appearance of a natural defect of understanding? Who dethroned and
banished a powerful monarch, the son of an illustrious sovereign? Who
settled the State, which he had rescued from arbitrary power, by the
appointment of an annual magistracy, a regular system of laws, and a free
and open course of justice? And who abrogated the authority of his
colleague, that he might rid the city of the smallest vestige of the
_regal_ name?--Events, which could never have been produced without
exerting the powers of Persuasion!--We are likewise informed that a few
years after the expulsion of the Kings, when the Plebeians retired to the
banks of the Anio, about three miles from the city, and had possessed
themselves of what is called The _sacred_ Mount, M. Valerius the dictator
appeased their fury by a public harangue; for which he was afterwards
rewarded with the highest posts of honour, and was the first Roman who was
distinguished by the surname of _Maximus_. Nor can L. Valerius Potitus be
supposed to have been destitute of the powers of utterance, who, after the
odium which had been excited against the Patricians by the tyrannical
government of the _Decemviri_, reconciled the people to the Senate, by his
prudent laws and conciliatory speeches. We may likewise suppose, that
Appius Claudius was a man of some eloquence; since he dissuaded the Senate
from consenting to a peace with King Pyrrhus, though they were much
inclined to it. The same might be said of Caius Fabricius, who was
dispatched to Pyrrhus to treat for the ransom of his captive fellow-
citizens; and of Titus Coruncanius, who appears by the memoirs of the
pontifical college, to have been a person of no contemptible genius: and
likewise of M. Curius (then a tribune of the people) who, when the
Interrex Appius _the Blind_, an artful Speaker, held the _Comitia_
contrary to law, by refusing to admit any consuls of plebeian rank,
prevailed upon the Senate to protest against the conduct: of his
antagonist; which, if we consider that the Moenian law was not then in
being, was a very bold attempt. We may also conjecture, that M. Popilius
was a man of abilities, who, in the time of his consulship, when he was
solemnizing a public sacrifice in the proper habit of his office, (for he
was also a Flamen Carmentalis) hearing of the mutiny and insurrection of
the people against the Senate, rushed immediately into the midst of the
assembly, covered as he was with his sacerdotal robes, and quelled the
sedition by his authority and the force of his elocution. I do not pretend
to have read that the persons I have mentioned were then reckoned Orators,
or that any fort of reward or encouragement was given to Eloquence: I only
conjecture what appears very probable. It is also recorded, that C.
Flaminius, who, when tribune of the people proposed the law for dividing
the conquered territories of the Gauls and Piceni among the citizens, and
who, after his promotion to the consulship, was slain near the lake
Thrasimenus, became very popular by the mere force of his address, Quintus
Maximus Verrucosus was likewise reckoned a good Speaker by his
cotemporaries; as was also Quintus Metellus, who, in the second Punic war,
was joint consul with L. Veturius Philo. But the first person we have any
certain account of, who was publicly distinguished as an _Orator_, and who
really appears to have been such, was M. Cornelius Cethegus; whose
eloquence is attested by Q. Ennius, a voucher of the highest credibility;
since he actually heard him speak, and gave him this character after his
death; so that there is no reason to suspect that he was prompted by the
warmth of his friendship to exceed the bounds of truth. In his ninth book
of Annals, he has mentioned him in the following terms:

"_Additur Orator Corneliu' suaviloquenti
Ore Cethegus Marcu', Tuditano collega,
Marci Filius._"

"_Add the_ Orator _M. Cornelius Cethegus, so much admired for his
mellifluent tongue; who was the colleague of Tuditanus, and the son of

"He expressly calls him an _Orator_, you see, and attributes to him a
remarkable sweetness of elocution; which, even now a-days, is an
excellence of which few are possessed: for some of our modern Orators are
so insufferably harsh, that they may rather be said to bark than to speak.
But what the Poet so much admires in his friend, may certainly be
considered as one of the principal ornaments of Eloquence. He adds;

" ----_is dictus, ollis popularibus olim,
Qui tum vivebant homines, atque aevum agitabant,
Flos delibatus populi_."

"_He was called by his cotemporaries, the choicest Flower of the State_."

"A very elegant compliment! for as the glory of a man is the strength of
his mental capacity, so the brightest ornament of that is Eloquence; in
which, whoever had the happiness to excel, was beautifully styled, by the
Ancients, the _Flower_ of the State; and, as the Poet immediately

"'--_Suadaeque medulla:'

"the very marrow and quintessence of Persuasion_."

"That which the Greeks call [Greek: Peitho], _(i.e. Persuasion)_ and which
it is the chief business of an Orator to effect, is here called _Suada_ by
Ennius; and of this he commends Cethegus as the _quintessence_; so that he
makes the Roman Orator to be himself the very substance of that amiable
Goddess, who is said by Eupolis to have dwelt on the lips of Pericles.
This Cethegus was joint-consul with P. Tuditanus in the second Punic war;
at which time also M. Cato was Quaestor, about one hundred and forty years
before I myself was promoted to the consulship; which circumstance would
have been absolutely lost, if it had not been recorded by Ennius; and the
memory of that illustrious citizen, as has probably been the case of many
others, would have been obliterated by the rust of antiquity. The manner
of speaking which was then in vogue, may easily be collected from the
writings of _Naevius_: for Naevius died, as we learn from the memoirs of
the times, when the persons above-mentioned were consuls; though Varro, a
most accurate investigator of historical truth, thinks there is a mistake
in this, and fixes the death of Naevius something later. For Plautus died
in the consulship of P. Claudius and L. Porcius, twenty years after the
consulship of the persons we have been speaking of, and when Cato was
Censor. Cato, therefore, must have been younger than Cethegus, for he was
consul nine years after him: but we always consider him as a person of the
remotest antiquity, though he died in the consulship of Lucius Marcius and
M. Manilius, and but eighty-three years before my own promotion to the
same office. He is certainly, however, the most ancient Orator we have,
whose writings may claim our attention; unless any one is pleased with the
above-mentioned speech of Appius, on the peace with Pyrrhus, or with a set
of panegyrics on the dead, which, I own, are still extant. For it was
customary in most families of note to preserve their images, their
trophies of honour, and their memoirs, either to adorn a funeral when any
of the family deceased, or to perpetuate the fame of their ancestors, or
prove their own nobility. But the truth of History has been much corrupted
by these laudatory essays; for many circumstances were recorded in them
which never existed; such as false triumphs, a pretended succession of
consulships, and false alliances and elevations, when men of inferior rank
were confounded with a noble family of the same name: as if I myself
should pretend that I am descended from M. Tullius, who was a Patrician,
and shared the consulship with Servius Sulpicius, about ten years after
the expulsion of the kings.

"But the real speeches of Cato are almost as numerous as those of Lysias
the Athenian; a great number of whose are still extant. For Lysias was
certainly an Athenian; because he not only died but received his birth at
Athens, and served all the offices of the city; though Timaesus, as if he
acted by the Licinian or the Mucian law, remands him back to Syracuse.
There is, however, a manifest resemblance between _his_ character and that
of _Cato_: for they are both of them distinguished by their acuteness,
their elegance, their agreeable humour, and their brevity. But the Greek
has the happiness to be most admired: for there are some who are so
extravagantly fond of him, as to prefer a graceful air to a vigorous
constitution, and who are perfectly satisfied with a slender and an easy
shape, if it is only attended with a moderate share of health. It must,
however, be acknowledged, that even Lysias often displays a strength of
arm, than which nothing can be more strenuous and forcible; though he is
certainly, in all respects, of a more thin and feeble habit than Cato,
notwithstanding he has so many admirers, who are charmed with his very
slenderness. But as to Cato, where will you find a modern Orator who
condescends to read him?--nay, I might have said, who has the least
knowledge of him?--And yet, good Gods! what a wonderful man! I say nothing
of his merit as a Citizen, a Senator, and a General; we must confine our
attention to the Orator. Who, then, has displayed more dignity as a
panegyrist?--more severity as an accuser?--more ingenuity in the turn of
his sentiments?--or more neatness and address in his narratives and
explanations? Though he composed above a hundred and fifty orations,
(which I have seen and read) they are crowded with all the beauties of
language and sentiment. Let us select from these what deserves our notice
and applause: they will supply us with all the graces of Oratory. Not to
omit his _Antiquities_, who will deny that these also are adorned with
every flower, and with all the lustre of Eloquence? and yet he has
scarcely any admirers; which some ages ago was the case of Philistus the
Syracusan, and even of Thucydides himself. For as the lofty and elevated
style of Theopompus soon diminished the reputation of their pithy and
laconic harangues, which were sometimes scarcely intelligible through
their excessive brevity and quaintness; and as Demosthenes eclipsed the
glory of Lysias, so the pompous and stately elocution of the moderns has
obscured the lustre of Cato. But many of us are shamefully ignorant and
inattentive; for we admire the Greeks for their antiquity, and what is
called their Attic neatness, and yet have never noticed the same quality
in Cato. It was the distinguishing character, say they, of Lysias and
Hyperides. I own it, and I admire them for it: but why not allow a share
of it to Cato? They are fond, they tell us, of the _Attic_ style of
Eloquence: and their choice is certainly judicious, provided they borrow
the blood and the healthy juices, as well as the bones and membranes. What
they recommend, however, is, to do it justice, an agreeable quality. But
why must Lysias and Hyperides be so fondly courted, while Cato is entirely
overlooked? His language indeed has an antiquated air, and some of his
expressions are rather too harsh and crabbed. But let us remember that
this was the language of the time: only change and modernize it, which it
was not in his power to do;--add the improvements of number and cadence,
give an easier turn to his sentences, and regulate the structure and
connection of his words, (which was as little practised even by the older
Greeks as by him) and you will discover no one who can claim the
preference to Cato. The Greeks themselves acknowledge that the chief
beauty of composition results from the frequent use of those
_translatitious_ forms of expression which they call _Tropes_, and of
those various attitudes of language and sentiment which they call
_Figures_: but it is almost incredible in what numbers, and with what
amazing variety, they are all employed by Cato. I know, indeed, that he is
not sufficiently polished, and that recourse must be had to a more perfect
model for imitation: for he is an author of such antiquity, that he is the
oldest now extant, whose writings can be read with patience; and the
ancients in general acquired a much greater reputation in every other art,
than in that of Speaking. But who that has seen the statues of the
moderns, will not perceive in a moment, that the figures of Canachus are
too stiff and formal, to resemble life? Those of Calamis, though evidently
harsh, are somewhat softer. Even the statues of Myron are not sufficiently
alive; and yet you would not hesitate to pronounce them beautiful. But
those of Polycletes are much finer, and, in my mind, completely finished.
The case is the same in Painting; for in the works of Zeuxis, Polygnotus,
Timanthes, and several other masters who confined themselves to the use of
four colours, we commend the air and the symmetry of their figures; but in
Aetion, Nicomachus, Protogenes, and Apelles, every thing is finished to
perfection. This, I believe, will hold equally true in all the other arts;
for there is not one of them which was invented and completed at the same
time. I cannot doubt, for instance, that there were many Poets before
Homer: we may infer it from those very songs which he himself informs us
were sung at the feasts of the Phaeacians, and of the profligate suitors
of Penelope. Nay, to go no farther, what is become of the ancient poems of
our own countrymen?"

"Such as the Fauns and rustic Bards compos'd,
When none the rocks of poetry had cross'd,
Nor wish'd to form his style by rules of art,
Before this vent'rous man: &c.

"Old Ennius here speaks of himself; nor does he carry his boast beyond the
bounds of truth: the case being really as he describes it. For we had only
an Odyssey in Latin, which resembled one of the rough and unfinished
statues of Daedalus; and some dramatic pieces of Livius, which will
scarcely bear a second reading. This Livius exhibited his first
performance at Rome in the Consulship of M. Tuditanus, and C. Clodius the
son of Caecus, the year before Ennius was born, and, according to the
account of my friend Atticus, (whom I choose to follow) the five hundred
and fourteenth from the building of the city. But historians are not
agreed about the date of the year. Attius informs us that Livius was taken
prisoner at Tarentum by Quintus Maximus in his fifth Consulship, about
thirty years after he is said by Atticus, and our ancient annals, to have
introduced the drama. He adds that he exhibited his first dramatic piece
about eleven years after, in the Consulship of C. Cornelius and Q.
Minucius, at the public games which Salinator had vowed to the Goddess of
Youth for his victory over the Senones. But in this, Attius was so far
mistaken, that Ennius, when the persons above-mentioned were Consuls, was
forty years old: so that if Livius was of the same age, as in this case he
would have been, the first dramatic author we had must have been younger
than Plautus and Naevius, who had exhibited a great number of plays before
the time he specifies. If these remarks, my Brutus, appear unsuitable to
the subject before us, you must throw the whole blame upon Atticus, who
has inspired me with a strange curiosity to enquire into the age of
illustrious men, and the respective times of their appearance."--"On the
contrary," said Brutus, "I am highly pleased that you have carried your
attention so far; and I think your remarks well adapted to the curious
task you have undertaken, the giving us a history of the different classes
of Orators in their proper order."--"You understand me right," said I;
"and I heartily wish those venerable Odes were still extant, which Cato
informs us in his Antiquities, used to be sung by every guest in his turn
at the homely feasts of our ancestors, many ages before, to commemorate
the feats of their heroes. But the _Punic war_ of that antiquated Poet,
whom Ennius so proudly ranks among the _Fauns and rustic Bards_, affords
me as exquisite a pleasure as the finest statue that was ever formed by
Myron. Ennius, I allow, was a more finished writer: but if he had really
undervalued the other, as he pretends to do, he would scarcely have
omitted such a bloody war as the first _Punic_, when he attempted
professedly to describe all the wars of the Republic. Nay he himself
assigns the reason.

"Others" (said he) "that cruel war have sung:"

Very true, and they have sung it with great order and precision, though
not, indeed, in such elegant strains as yourself. This you ought to have
acknowledged, as you must certainly be conscious that you have borrowed
many ornaments from Naevius; or if you refuse to own it, I shall tell you
plainly that you have _pilfered_ them.

"Cotemporary with the Cato above-mentioned (though somewhat older) were C.
Flaminius, C. Varro, Q. Maximus, Q. Metellus, P. Lentulus, and P. Crassus
who was joint Consul with the elder Africanus. This Scipio, we are told,
was not destitute of the powers of Elocution: but his son, who adopted the
younger Scipio (the son of Paulus Aemilius) would have stood foremost in
the list of Orators, if he had possessed a firmer constitution. This is
evident from a few Speeches, and a Greek History of his, which are very
agreeably written. In the same class we may place Sextus Aelius, who was
the best lawyer of his time, and a ready speaker. A little after these,
was C. Sulpicius Gallus, who was better acquainted with the Grecian
literature than all the rest of the nobility, and was reckoned a graceful
Orator, being equally distinguished, in every other respect, by the
superior elegance of his taste; for a more copious and splendid way of
speaking began now to prevail. When this Sulpicius, in quality of Praetor,
was celebrating the public shews in honour of Apollo, died the Poet
Ennius, in the Consulship of Q. Marcius and Cn. Servilius, after
exhibiting his Tragedy of _Thyestes_. At the same time lived Tiberius
Gracchus, the son of Publius, who was twice Consul and Censor: a Greek
Oration of his to the Rhodians is still extant, and he bore the character
of a worthy citizen, and an eloquent Speaker. We are likewise told that P.
Scipio Nasica, surnamed The Darling of the People, and who also had the
honor to be twice chosen Consul and Censor, was esteemed an able Orator:
To him we may add L. Lentulus, who was joint Consul with C. Figulus;--Q.
Nobilior, the son of Marcus, who was inclined to the study of literature
by his father's example, and presented Ennius (who had served under his
father in Aetolia) with the freedom of the City, when he founded a colony
in quality of Triumvir: and his colleague, T. Annius Luscus, who is said
to have been tolerably eloquent. We are likewise informed that L. Paulus,
the father of Africanus, defended the character of an eminent citizen in a
public speech; and that Cato, who died in the 83d year of his age, was
then living, and actually pleaded, that very year, against the defendant
Servius Galba, in the open Forum, with great energy and spirit:--he has
left a copy of this Oration behind him. But when Cato was in the decline
of life, a crowd of Orators, all younger than himself, made their
appearance at the same time: For A. Albinus, who wrote a History in Greek,
and shared the Consulship with L. Lucullus, was greatly admired for his
learning and Elocution: and almost equal to him were Servius Fulvius, and
Servius Fabius Pictor, the latter of whom was well acquainted with the
laws of his country, the Belles Lettres, and the History of Antiquity.
Quintus Fabius Labeo was likewise adorned with the same accomplishments.
But Q. Metellus whose four sons attained the consular dignity, was admired
for his Eloquence beyond the rest;--he undertook the defence of L. Cotta,
when he was accused by Africanus,--and composed many other Speeches,
particularly that against Tiberius Gracchus, which we have a full account
of in the Annals of C. Fannius. L. Cotta himself was likewise reckoned a
_veteran_; but C. Laelius, and P. Africanus were allowed by all to be more
finished Speakers: their Orations are still extant, and may serve as
specimens of their respective abilities. But Servius Galba, who was
something older than any of them, was indisputably the best speaker of the
age. He was the first among the Romans who displayed the proper and
distinguishing talents of an Orator, such as, digressing from his subject
to embellish and diversify it,--soothing or alarming the passions,
exhibiting every circumstance in the strongest light,--imploring the
compassion of his audience, and artfully enlarging on those topics, or
general principles of Prudence or Morality, on which the stress of his
argument depended: and yet, I know not how, though he is allowed to have
been the greatest Orator of his time, the Orations he has left are more
lifeless, and have a more antiquated air, than those of Laelius, or
Scipio, or even of Cato himself: in short, the strength and substance of
them has so far evaporated, that we have scarcely any thing of them
remaining but the bare skeletons. In the same manner, though both Laelius
and Scipio are greatly extolled for their abilities; the preference was
given to Laelius as a speaker; and yet his Oration, in defence of the
privileges of the Sacerdotal College, has no greater merit than any one
you may please to fix upon of the numerous speeches of Scipio. Nothing,
indeed, can be sweeter and milder than that of Laelius, nor could any
thing have been urged with greater dignity to support the honour of
religion: but, of the two, Laelius appears to me to be rougher, and more
old-fashioned than Scipio; and, as different Speakers have different
tastes, he had in my mind too strong a relish for antiquity, and was too
fond of using obsolete expressions. But such is the jealousy of mankind,
that they will not allow the same person to be possessed of too many
perfections. For as in military prowess they thought it impossible that
any man could vie with Scipio, though Laelius had not a little
distinguished himself in the war with Viriathus; so for learning,
Eloquence, and wisdom, though each was allowed to be above the reach of
any other competitor, they adjudged the preference to Laelius. Nor was
this only the opinion of the world, but it seems to have been allowed by
mutual consent between themselves: for it was then a general custom, as
candid in this respect as it was fair and just in every other, to give his
due to each. I accordingly remember that P. Rutilius Rufus once told me at
Smyrna, that when he was a young man, the two Consuls P. Scipio and D.
Brutus, by order of the Senate, tried a capital cause of great
consequence. For several persons of note having been murdered in the Silan
Forest, and the domestics, and some of the sons, of a company of gentlemen
who farmed the taxes of the pitch-manufactory, being charged with the
fact, the Consuls were ordered to try the cause in person. Laelius, he
said, spoke very sensibly and elegantly, as indeed he always did, on the
side of the farmers of the customs. But the Consuls, after hearing both
sides, judging it necessary to refer the matter to a second trial, the
same Laelius, a few days after, pleaded their cause again with more
accuracy, and much better than at first. The affair, however, was once
more put off for a further hearing. Upon this, when his clients attended
Laelius to his own house, and, after thanking him for what he had already
done, earnestly begged him not to be disheartened by the fatigue he had
suffered;--he assured them he had exerted his utmost to defend their
reputation; but frankly added, that he thought their cause would be more
effectually supported by Servius Galba, whose manner of speaking was more
embellished and more spirited than his own. They, accordingly, by the
advice of Laelius, requested Galba to undertake it. To this he consented;
but with the greatest modesty and reluctance, out of respect to the
illustrious advocate he was going to succeed:--and as he had only the next
day to prepare himself, he spent the whole of it in considering and
digesting his cause. When the day of trial was come, Rutilius himself, at
the request of the defendants, went early in the morning to Galba, to give
him notice of it, and conduct him to the court in proper time. But till
word was brought that the Consuls were going to the bench, he confined
himself in his study, where he suffered no one to be admitted; and
continued very busy in dictating to his Amanuenses, several of whom (as
indeed he often used to do) he kept fully employed at once. While he was
thus engaged, being informed that it was high time for him to appear in
court, he left his house with so much life in his eyes, and such an ardent
glow upon his countenance, that you would have thought he had not only
_prepared_ his cause, but actually _carried_ it. Rutilius added, as
another circumstance worth noticing, that his scribes, who attended him to
the bar, appeared excessively fatigued: from whence he thought it probable
that he was equally warm and vigorous in the composition, as in the
delivery of his speeches. But to conclude the story, Galba pleaded his
cause before Laelius himself, and a very numerous and attentive audience,
with such uncommon force and dignity, that every part of his Oration
received the applause of his hearers: and so powerfully did he move the
feelings, and affect the pity of the judges, that his clients were
immediately acquitted of the charge, to the satisfaction of the whole

"As, therefore, the two principal qualities required in an Orator, are to
be neat and clear in stating the nature of his subject, and warm and
forcible in moving the passions; and as he who fires and inflames his
audience, will always effect more than he who can barely inform and amuse
them; we may conjecture from the above narrative, which I was favoured
with by Rutilius, that Laelius was most admired for his elegance, and
Galba for his pathetic force. But this force of his was most remarkably
exerted, when, having in his Praetorship put to death some Lusitanians,
contrary (it was believed) to his previous and express engagement;--T.
Libo the Tribune exasperated the people against him, and preferred a bill
which was to operate against his conduct as a subsequent law. M. Cato (as
I have before mentioned) though extremely old, spoke in support of the
bill with great vehemence; which Speech he inserted in his Book of
_Antiquities_, a few days, or at most only a month or two, before his
death. On this occasion, Galba refusing to plead to the charge, and
submitting his fate to the generosity of the people, recommended his
children to their protection, with tears in his eyes; and particularly his
young ward the son of C. Gallus Sulpicius his deceased friend, whose
orphan state and piercing cries, which were the more regarded for the sake
of his illustrious father, excited their pity in a wonderful manner;--and
thus (as Cato informs us in his History) he escaped the flames which would
otherwise have consumed him, by employing the children to move the
compassion of the people. I likewise find (what may be easily judged from
his Orations still extant) that his prosecutor Libo was a man of some

As I concluded these remarks with a short pause;--"What can be the
reason," said Brutus, "if there was so much merit in the Oratory of Galba,
that there is no trace of it to be seen in his Orations;--a circumstance
which I have no opportunity to be surprized at in others, who have left
nothing behind them in writing."--"The reasons," said I, "why some have
not wrote any thing, and others not so well as they spoke, are very
different. Some of our Orators have writ nothing through mere indolence,
and because they were loath to add a private fatigue to a public one: for
most of the Orations we are now possessed of were written not before they
were spoken, but some time afterwards. Others did not choose the trouble
of improving themselves; to which nothing more contributes than frequent
writing; and as to perpetuating the fame of their Eloquence, they thought
it unnecessary; supposing that their eminence in that respect was
sufficiently established already, and that it would be rather diminished
than increased by submitting any written specimen of it to the arbitrary
test of criticism. Some also were sensible that they spoke much better
than they were able to write; which is generally the case of those who
have a great genius, but little learning, such as Servius Galba. When he
spoke, he was perhaps so much animated by the force of his abilities, and
the natural warmth and impetuosity of his temper, that his language was
rapid, bold, and striking; but afterwards, when he took up the pen in his
leisure hours, and his passion had sunk into a calm, his Elocution became
dull and languid. This indeed can never happen to those whose only aim is
to be neat and polished; because an Orator may always be master of that
discretion which will enable him both to speak and write in the same
agreeable manner: but no man can revive at pleasure the ardour of his
passions; and when that has once subsided, the fire and pathos of his
language will be extinguished. This is the reason why the calm and easy
spirit of Laelius seems still to breathe in his writings, whereas the
force of Galba is entirely withered and lost.

"We may also reckon in the number of middling Orators, the two brothers L.
and Sp. Mummius, both whose Orations are still in being:--the style of
Lucius is plain and antiquated; but that of Spurius, though equally
unembellished, is more close, and compact; for he was well versed in the
doctrine of the Stoics. The Orations of Sp. Alpinus, their cotemporary,
are very numerous: and we have several by L. and C. Aurelius Oresta, who
were esteemed indifferent Speakers. P. Popilius also was a worthy citizen,
and had a tolerable share of utterance: but his son Caius was really
eloquent. To _these_ we may add C. Tuditanus, who was not only very
polished, and genteel, in his manners and appearance, but had an elegant
turn of expression; and of the same class was M. Octavius, a man of
inflexible constancy in every just and laudable measure; and who, after
being affronted and disgraced in the most public manner, defeated his
rival Tiberius Gracchus by the mere dint of his perseverance. But M.
Aemilius Lepidus, who was surnamed Porcina, and flourished at the same
time as Galba, though he was indeed something younger, was esteemed an
Orator of the first eminence; and really appears, from his Orations which
are still extant, to have been a masterly writer. For he was the first
Speaker, among the Romans, who gave us a specimen of the easy gracefulness
of the Greeks; and who was distinguished by the measured flow of his
language, and a style regularly polished and improved by art. His manner
was carefully studied by C. Carbo and Tib. Gracchus, two accomplished
youths who were nearly of an age: but we must defer their character as
public Speakers, till we have finished our account of their elders. For Q.
Pompeius, according to the style of the time, was no contemptible Orator;
and actually raised himself to the highest honours of the State by his own
personal merit, and without being recommended, as usual, by the quality of
his ancestors. Lucius Cassius too derived his influence, which was very
considerable, not indeed from his _Eloquence_, but from his manly way of
speaking: for it is remarkable that he made himself popular, not, as
others did, by his complaisance and liberality, but by the gloomy rigour
and severity of his manners. His law for collecting the votes of the
people by way of ballot, was strongly opposed by the Tribune M. Antius
Briso, who was supported by M. Lepidus one of the Consuls: and it was
afterwards objected to Africanus, that Briso dropped the opposition by his
advice. At this time the two Scipios were very serviceable to a number of
clients by their superior judgment, and Eloquence; but still more so by
their extensive interest and popularity. But the written speeches of
Pompeius (though it must be owned they have rather an antiquated air)
discover an amazing sagacity, and are very far from being dry and
spiritless. To these we must add P. Crassus, an orator of uncommon merit,
who was qualified for the profession by the united efforts of art and
nature, and enjoyed some other advantages which were almost peculiar to
his family. For he had contracted an affinity with that accomplished
Speaker Servius Galba above-mentioned, by giving his daughter in marriage
to Galba's son; and being likewise himself the son of Mucius, and the
brother of P. Scaevola, he had a fine opportunity at home (which he made
the best use of) to gain a thorough knowledge of the Civil Law. He was a
man of unusual application, and was much beloved by his fellow-citizens;
being constantly employed either in giving his advice, or pleading causes
in the Forum. Cotemporary with the Speakers I have mentioned were the two
C. Fannii, the sons of C. and M. one of whom, (the son of C.) who was
joint Consul with Domitius, has left us an excellent speech against
Gracchus, who proposed the admission of the Latin and Italian allies to
the freedom of Rome."--"Do you really think, then," said Atticus, "that
Fannius was the author of that Oration? For when we were young, there were
different opinions about it. Some asserted it was wrote by C. Persius, a
man of letters, and the same who is so much extolled for his learning by
Lucilius: and others believed it was the joint production of a number of
noblemen, each of whom contributed his best to complete it."--"This I
remember," said I; "but I could never persuade myself to coincide with
either of them. Their suspicion, I believe, was entirely founded on the
character of Fannius, who was only reckoned among the _middling_ Orators;
whereas the speech in question is esteemed the best which the time
afforded. But, on the other hand, it is too much of a piece to have been
the mingled composition of many: for the flow of the periods, and the turn
of the language, are perfectly similar, throughout the whole of it.--and
as to _Persius_, if _he_ had composed it for Fannius to pronounce,
Gracchus would certainly have taken some notice of it in his reply;
because Fannius rallies Gracchus pretty severely, in one part of it, for
employing Menelaus of Marathon, and several others, to manufacture his
speeches. We may add that Fannius himself was no contemptible Orator: for
he pleaded a number of causes, and his Tribuneship, which was chiefly
conducted under the management and direction of P. Africanus, was very far
from being an idle one. But the other C. Fannius, (the son of M.) and son-
in-law of C. Laelius, was of a rougher cast, both in his temper, and
manner of speaking. By the advice of his father-in-law, (of whom, by the
bye, he was not remarkably fond, because he had not voted for his
admission into the college of augurs, but gave the preference to his
younger son-in-law Q. Scaevola; though Laelius genteely excused himself,
by saying that the preference was not given to the youngest son, but to
his wife the eldest daughter,) by his advice, I say, he attended the
lectures of Panaetius. His abilities as a Speaker may be easily
conjectured from his History, which is neither destitute of elegance, nor
a perfect model of composition. As to his brother Mucius the augur,
whenever he was called upon to defend himself, he always pleaded his own
cause; as, for instance, in the action which was brought against him for
bribery by T. Albucius. But he was never ranked among the Orators; his
chief merit being a critical knowledge of the Civil Law, and an uncommon
accuracy of judgment. L. Caelius Antipater likewise (as you may see by his
works) was an elegant and a handsome writer for the time he lived in; he
was also an excellent Lawyer, and taught the principles of jurisprudence
to many others, particularly to L. Crassus. As to Caius Carbo and T.
Gracchus, I wish they had been as well inclined to maintain peace and good
order in the State, as they were qualified to support it by their
Eloquence: their glory would then have been out-rivaled by no one. But the
latter, for his turbulent Tribuneship, which he entered upon with a heart
full of resentment against the great and good, on account of the odium he
had brought upon himself by the treaty of Numantia, was slain by the hands
of the Republic: and the other, being impeached of a seditious affectation
of popularity, rescued himself from the severity of the judges by a
voluntary death. That both of them were excellent Speakers, is very plain
from the general testimony of their cotemporaries: for as to their
Speeches now extant, though I allow them to be very artful and judicious,
they are certainly defective in Elocution. Gracchus had the advantage of
being carefully instructed by his mother Cornelia from his very childhood,
and his mind was enriched with all the stores of Grecian literature: for
he was constantly attended by the ablest masters from Greece, and
particularly, in his youth, by Diophanes of Mitylene, who was the most
eloquent Grecian of his age: but though he was a man of uncommon genius,
he had but a short time to improve and display it. As to Carbo, his whole
life was spent in trials, and forensic debates. He is said by very
sensible men who heard him, and, among others, by our friend L. Gellius
who lived in his family in the time of his Consulship, to have been a
sonorous, a fluent, and a spirited Speaker, and likewise, upon occasion,
very pathetic, very engaging, and excessively humorous: Gellius used to
add, that he applied himself very closely to his studies, and bestowed
much of his time in writing and private declamation. He was, therefore,
esteemed the best pleader of his time; for no sooner had he began to
distinguish himself in the Forum, but the depravity of the age gave birth
to a number of law-suits; and it was first found necessary, in the time of
his youth, to settle the form of public trials, which had never been done
before. We accordingly find that L. Piso, then a Tribune of the people,
was the first who proposed a law against bribery; which he did when
Censorinus and Manilius were Consuls. This Piso too was a professed
pleader, and the proposer and opposer of a great number of laws: he left
some Orations behind him, which are now lost, and a Book of Annals very
indifferently written. But in the public trials, in which Carbo was
concerned, the assistance of an able advocate had become more necessary
than ever, in consequence of the law for voting by ballots, which was
proposed and carried by L. Cassius, in the Consulship of Lepidus and

"I have likewise been often assured by the poet Attius, (an intimate
friend of his) that your ancestor D. Brutus, the son of M. was no
inelegant Speaker; and that for the time he lived in, he was well versed
both in the Greek and Roman literature. He ascribed the same
accomplishments to Q. Maximus, the grandson of L. Paulus: and added that,
a little prior to Maximus, the Scipio, by whose instigation (though only
in a private capacity) T. Gracchus was assassinated, was not only a man of
great ardour in all other respects, but very warm and spirited in his
manner of speaking. P. Lentulus too, the Father of the Senate, had a
sufficient share of eloquence for an honest and useful magistrate. About
the same time L. Furius Philus was thought to speak our language as
elegantly, and more correctly than any other man; P. Scaevola to be very
artful and judicious, and rather more fluent than Philus; M. Manilius to
possess almost an equal share of judgment with the latter; and Appius
Claudius to be equally fluent, but more warm and pathetic. M. Fulvius
Flaccus, and C. Cato the nephew of Africanus, were likewise tolerable
Orators: some of the writings of Flaccus are still in being, in which
nothing, however, is to be seen but the mere scholar. P. Decius was a
professed rival of Flaccus; he too was not destitute of Eloquence; but his
style, as well as his temper, was too violent. M. Drusus the son of C.
who, in his Tribuneship, baffled [Footnote: _Laffiea_. In the original it
runs, "_Caium Gracchum collegam, iterum Tribinum fecit_." but this was
undoubtedly a mistake of the transcriber, as being contrary not only to
the truth of History, but to Cicero's own account of the matter in lib.
IV. _Di Finibus_. Pighius therefore has very properly recommended the word
_fregit_ instead of _fecit_.] his colleague Gracchus (then raised to the
same office a second time) was a nervous Speaker, and a man of great
popularity: and next to him was his brother C. Drusus. Your kinsman also,
my Brutus, (M. Pennus) successfully opposed the Tribune Gracchus, who was
something younger than himself. For Gracchus was Quaestor, and Pennus (the
son of that M. who was joint Consul with Q. Aelius) was Tribune, in the
Consulship of M. Lepidus and L. Orestes: but after enjoying the
Aedileship, and a prospect: of succeeding to the highest honours, he was
snatched off by an untimely death. As to T. Flaminius, whom I myself have
seen, I can learn nothing but that he spoke our language with great
accuracy. To these we may join C. Curio, M. Scaurus, P. Rutilius, and C.
Gracchus. It will not be amiss to give a short account of Scaurus and
Rutilius; neither of whom, indeed, had the reputation of being a first-
rate Orator, though each of them pleaded a number of causes. But some
deserving men, who were not remarkable for their genius, may be justly
commended for their industry; not that the persons I am speaking of were
really destitute of genius, but only of that particular kind of it which
distinguishes the Orator. For it is of little consequence to discover what
is proper to be said, unless you are able to express it in a free and
agreeable manner: and even that will be insufficient, if not recommended
by the voice, the look, and the gesture. It is needless to add that much
depends upon _Art_: for though, even without this, it is possible, by the
mere force of nature, to say many striking things; yet, as they will after
all be nothing more than so many lucky hits, we shall not be able to
repeat them at our pleasure. The style of Scaurus, who was a very sensible
and honest man, was remarkably serious, and commanded the respect of the
hearer: so that when he was speaking for his client, you would rather have
thought he was giving evidence in his favour, than pleading his cause.
This manner of speaking, however, though but indifferently adapted to the
bar, was very much so to a calm, debate in the Senate, of which Scaurus
was then esteemed the Father: for it not only bespoke his prudence, but
what was still a more important recommendation, his credibility. This
advantage, which it is not easy to acquire by art, he derived entirely
from nature: though you know that even _here_ we have some precepts to
assist us. We have several of his Orations still extant, and three books
inscribed to L. Fufidius containing the History of his own Life, which,
though a very useful work, is scarcely read by any body. But the
_Institution of Cyrus_, by Xenophon, is read by every one; which, though
an excellent performance of the kind, is much less adapted to our manners
and form of government, and not superior in merit to the honest simplicity
of Scaurus. Fufidius himself was likewise a tolerable pleader. But
Rutilius was distinguished by his solemn and austere way of speaking; and
both of them were naturally warm, and spirited. Accordingly, after they
had rivalled each other for the Consulship, he who had lost his election,
immediately sued his competitor for bribery; and Scaurus, the defendant,
being honourably acquitted of the charge, returned the compliment to
Rutilius, by commencing a similar prosecution against _him_. Rutilius was
a man of great industry and application; for which he was the more
respected, because, besides his pleadings, he undertook the office (which
was a very troublesome one) of giving advice to all who applied to him, in
matters of law. His Orations are very dry, but his juridical remarks are
excellent: for he was a learned man, and well versed in the Greek
literature, and was likewise an attentive and constant hearer of
Panaetius, and a thorough proficient in the doctrine of the Stoics; whose
method of discoursing, though very close and artful, is too precise, and
not at all adapted to engage the attention of common people. That self-
confidence, therefore, which is so peculiar to the sect, was displayed by
_him_ with amazing firmness and resolution; for though he was perfectly
innocent of the charge, a prosecution was commenced against him for
bribery (a trial which raised a violent commotion in the city)--and yet
though L. Crassus and M. Antonius, both of Consular dignity, were, at that
time, in very high repute for their Eloquence, he refused the assistance
of either; being determined to plead his cause himself, which he
accordingly did. C. Cotta, indeed, who was his nephew, made a short speech
in his vindication, which he spoke in the true style of an Orator, though
he was then but a youth. Q. Mucius too said much in his defence, with his
usual accuracy and elegance; but not with that force, and extension, which
the mode of trial, and the importance of the cause demanded. Rutilius,
therefore, was an Orator of the _Stoical_, and Scaurus of the _Antique_
cast: but they are both entitled to our commendation; because, in _them_,
even this formal and unpromising species of Elocution has appeared among
us with some degree of merit. For as in the Theatre, so in the Forum, I
would not have our applause confined to those alone who act the busy, and
more important characters; but reserve a share of it for the quiet and
unambitious performer who is distinguished by a simple truth of gesture,
without any violence. As I have mentioned the Stoics, I must take some
notice of Q. Aelius Tubero, the grandson of L. Paullus, who made his
appearance at the time we are speaking of. He was never esteemed an
Orator, but was a man of the most rigid virtue, and strictly conformable
to the doctrine he professed: but, in truth, he was rather too crabbed. In
his Triumvirate, he declared, contrary to the opinion of P. Africanus his
uncle, that the Augurs had no right of exemption from sitting in the
courts of justice: and as in his temper, so in his manner of speaking, he
was harsh, unpolished, and austere; on which account, he could never raise
himself to the honourable ports which were enjoyed by his ancestors. But
he was a brave and steady citizen, and a warm opposer of Gracchus, as
appears from an Oration of Gracchus against him: we have likewise some of
Tubero's speeches against Gracchus. He was not indeed a shining Orator:
but he was a learned, and a very skilfull disputant.

"I find," said Brutus, "that the case is much the same among us, as with
the Greeks; and that the Stoics, in general, are very judicious at an
argument, which they conduct by certain rules of art, and are likewise
very neat and exact in their language; but if we take them from this, to
speak in Public, they make a poor appearance. Cato, however, must be
excepted; in whom, though as rigid a Stoic as ever existed, I could not
wish for a more consummate degree of Eloquence: I can likewise discover a
moderate share of it in Fannius,--not so much in Rutilius;--but none at
all in Tubero."--"True," said I; "and we may easily account for it: Their
whole attention was so closely confined to the study of Logic, that they
never troubled themselves to acquire the free, diffusive, and variegated
style which is so necessary for a public Speaker. But your uncle, you
doubtless know, was wise enough to borrow only that from the Stoics, which
they were able to furnish for his purpose (the art of reasoning:) but for
the art of Speaking, he had recourse to the masters of Rhetoric, and
exercised himself in the manner they directed. If, however, we must be
indebted for everything to the Philosophers, the Peripatetic discipline
is, in my mind, much the properest to form our language. For which reason,
my Brutus, I the more approve your choice, in attaching yourself to a
sect, (I mean the Philosophers of the Old Academy,) in whose system, a
just and accurate way of reasoning is enlivened by a perpetual sweetness
and fluency of expression: but even the delicate and flowing style of the
Peripatetics, and Academics, is not sufficient to complete an Orator; nor
yet can he be complete without it. For as the language of the Stoics is
too close, and contracted, to suit the ears of common people; so that of
the latter is too diffusive and luxuriant for a spirited contest in the
Forum, or a pleading at the bar. Who had a richer style than Plato? The
Philosophers tell us, that if Jupiter himself was to converse in Greek, he
would speak like _him_. Who also was more nervous than Aristotle? Who
sweeter than Theophrastus? We are told that even Demosthenes attended the
lectures of Plato, and was fond of reading what he published; which,
indeed, is sufficiently evident from the turn, and the majesty of his
language and he himself has expressly mentioned it in one of his Letters.
But the style of this excellent Orator is, notwithstanding, much too
fierce for the Academy; as that of the Philosophers is too mild and placid
for the Forum. I shall now, with your leave, proceed to the age and merits
of the rest of the Roman Orators."--"Nothing," said Atticus, "(for I can
safely answer for my friend Brutus) would please us better."--"Curio,
then," said I, "was nearly of the age I have just mentioned,--a celebrated
Speaker, whose genius may be easily decided from his Orations. For, among
several others, we have a noble Speech of his for Ser. Fulvius, in a
prosecution for incest. When we were children, it was esteemed the best
then extant; but now it is almost overlooked among the numerous
performances of the same kind which have been lately published."--"I am
very sensible," replied Brutus, "to whom we are obliged for the numerous
performances you speak of."--"And I am equally sensible," said I, "who is
the person you intend: for I have at least done a service to my young
countrymen, by introducing a loftier, and more embellished way of
speaking, than was used before: and, perhaps, I have also done some harm,
because after _mine_ appeared, the Speeches of our ancestors and
predecessors began to be neglected by most people; though never by _me_,
for I can assure you, I always prefer them to my own."--"But you must
reckon me," said Brutus, "among the _most people_; though I now see, from
your recommendation, that I have a great many books to read, of which
before I had very little opinion."--"But this celebrated Oration," said I,
"in the prosecution for incest, is in some places excessively puerile; and
what is said in it of the passion of love, the inefficacy of questioning
by tortures, and the danger of trusting to common hear-say, is indeed
pretty enough, but would be insufferable to the tutored ears of the
moderns, and to a people who are justly distinguished for the solidity of
their knowledge. He likewise wrote several other pieces, spoke a number of
good Orations, and was certainly an eminent pleader; so that I much
wonder, considering how long he lived, and the character he bore, that he
was never preferred to the Consulship. But I have a man here, [Footnote:
He refers, perhaps, to the Works of Gracchus, which he might then have in
his hand; or, more probably, to a statue of him, which stood near the
place where he and his friends were sitting.] (C. Gracchus) who had an
amazing genius, and the warmest application; and was a Scholar from his
very childhood: For you must not imagine, my Brutus, that we have ever yet
had a Speaker, whose language was richer and more copious than his."--"I
really think so," answered Brutus; "and he is almost the only author we
have, among the ancients, that I take the trouble to read." "And he well
_deserves_ it," said I; "for the Roman name and literature were great
losers by his untimely fate. I wish he had transferred his affection for
his brother to his country! How easily, if he had thus prolonged his life,
would he have rivalled the glory of his father, and grandfather! In
Eloquence, I scarcely know whether we should yet have had his equal. His
language was noble; his sentiments manly and judicious; and his whole
manner great and striking. He wanted nothing but the finishing touch: for
though his first attempts were as excellent as they were numerous, he did
not live to complete them. In short, my Brutus, _he_, if any one, should
be carefully studied by the Roman youth: for he is able, not only to edge,
but to feed and ripen their talents. After _him_ appeared C. Galba, the
son of the eloquent Servius, and the son-in-law of P. Crassus, who was
both an eminent Speaker, and a skilful Civilian. He was much commended by
our fathers, who respected him for the sake of _his_: but he had the
misfortune to be stopped in his career. For being tried by the Mamilian
law, as a party concerned in the conspiracy to support Jugurtha, though he
exerted all his abilities to defend himself, he was unhappily cast. His
peroration, or, as it is often called, his epilogue, is still extant; and
was so much in repute, when we were school-boys, that we used to learn it
by heart: he was the first member of the Sacerdotal College, since the
building of Rome, who was publicly tried and condemned. As to P. Scipio,
who died in his Consulship, he neither spoke much, nor often: but he was
inferior to no one in the purity of his language, and superior to all in
wit and pleasantry. His colleague L. Bestia, who begun his Tribuneship
very successfully, (for, by a law which he preferred for the purpose, he
procured the recall of Popillius, who had been exiled by the influence of
Caius Gracchus) was a man of spirit, and a tolerable Speaker: but he did
not finish his Consulship so happily. For, in consequence of the invidious
law of Mamilius above-mentioned, C. Galba one of the Priests, and the four
Consular gentlemen L. Bestia, C. Cato, Sp. Albinus, and that excellent
citizen L. Opimius, who killed Gracchus; of which he was acquitted by the
people, though he had constantly sided against them,--were all condemned
by their judges, who were of the Gracchan party. Very unlike him in his
Tribuneship, and indeed in every other part of his life, was that infamous
citizen C. Licinius Nerva; but he was not destitute of Eloquence. Nearly
at the same time, (though, indeed, he was somewhat older) flourished C.
Fimbria, who was rather rough and abusive, and much too warm and hasty:
but his application, and his great integrity and firmness made him a
serviceable Speaker in the Senate. He was likewise a tolerable Pleader,
and Civilian, and distinguished by the same rigid freedom in the turn of
his language, as in that of his virtues. When we were boys, we used to
think his Orations worth reading; though they are now scarcely to be met
with. But C. Sextius Calvinus was equally elegant both in his taste, and
his language, though, unhappily, of a very infirm constitution:--when the
pain in his feet intermitted, he did not decline the trouble of pleading,
but he did not attempt it very often. His fellow-citizens, therefore, made
use of his advice, whenever they had occasion for it; but of his
patronage, only when his health permitted. Cotemporary with these, my good
friend, was your namesake M. Brutus, the disgrace of your noble family;
who, though he bore that honourable name, and had the best of men, and an
eminent Civilian, for his father, confined his practice to accusations, as
Lycurgus is said to have done at Athens. He never sued for any of our
magistracies; but was a severe, and a troublesome prosecutor: so that we
easily see that, in _him_, the natural goodness of the flock was corrupted
by the vicious inclinations of the man. At the same time lived L.
Caesulenus, a man of Plebeian rank, and a professed accuser, like the
former: I myself heard him in his old age, when he endeavoured, by the
Aquilian law, to subject L. Sabellius to a fine, for a breach of justice.
But I should not have taken any notice of such a low-born wretch, if I had
not thought that no person I ever heard, could give a more suspicious turn
to the cause of the defendant, or exaggerate it to a higher degree of
criminality. T. Albucius, who lived in the same age, was well versed in
the Grecian literature, or, rather, was almost a Greek himself. I speak of
him, as I think; but any person, who pleases, may judge what he was by his
Orations. In his youth, he studied at Athens, and returned from thence a
thorough proficient in the doctrine of Epicurus; which, of all others, is
the least adapted to form an orator. His cotemporary, Q. Catulus, was an
accomplished Speaker, not in the ancient taste, but (unless any thing more
perfect can be exhibited) in the finished style of the moderns. He had a
plentiful stock of learning; an easy, winning elegance, not only in his
manners and disposition, but in his very language; and an unblemished
purity and correctness of style. This may be easily seen by his Orations;
and particularly, by the History of his Consulship, and of his subsequent
transactions, which he composed in the soft and agreeable manner of
Xenophon, and made a present of to the poet, A. Furius, an intimate
acquaintance of his: but this performance is as little known, as the three
books of Scaurus before-mentioned."--"Indeed, I must confess," said
Brutus, "that both the one and the other, are perfectly unknown to me: but
that is entirely my _own_ fault. I shall now, therefore, request a sight
of them from _you_; and am resolved, in future, to be more careful in
collecting such valuable curiosities."--"This Catulus," said I, "as I have
just observed, was distinguished by the purity of his language; which,
though a material accomplishment, is too much neglected by most of the
Roman orators; for as to the elegant tone of his voice, and the sweetness
of his accent, as you knew his son, it will be needless to take any notice
of them. His son, indeed, was not in the list of Orators: but whenever he
had occasion to deliver his sentiments in public, he neither wanted
judgment, nor a neat and liberal turn of expression. Nay, even the father
himself was not reckoned the foremost in the list of Orators: but still he
had that kind of merit, that notwithstanding, after you had heard two or
three speakers, who were particularly eminent in their profession, you
might judge him inferior; yet, whenever you heard him _alone_, and without
an immediate opportunity of making a comparison, you would not only be
satisfied with him, but scarcely wish for a better advocate. As to Q.
Metellus Numidicus, and his Colleague M. Silanus, they spoke, on matters
of government, with as much eloquence as was really necessary for men of
their illustrious character, and of consular dignity. But M. Aurelius
Scaurus, though he spoke in public but seldom, always spoke very neatly,
and he had a more elegant command of the Roman language than most men. A.
Albinus was a speaker of the same kind; but Albinus, the Flamen, was
esteemed an _orator_. Q. Capio too had a great deal of spirit, and was a
brave citizen: but the unlucky chance of war was imputed to him as a
crime, and the general odium of the people proved his ruin. C. and L.
Memmius were likewise indifferent orators, and distinguished by the
bitterness and asperity of their accusations: for they prosecuted many,
but seldom spoke for the defendant. Sp. Torius, on the other hand, was
distinguished by his _popular_ way of speaking; the very same man, who, by
his corrupt and frivolous law, diminished [Footnote: By dividing great
part of them among the people.] the taxes which were levied on the public
lands. M. Marcellus, the father of Aeserninus, though not reckoned a
professed pleader, was a prompt, and, in some degree, a practised speaker;
as was also his son P. Lentulus. L. Cotta likewise, a man of Praetorian
rank, was esteemed a tolerable orator; but he never made any great
progress; on the contrary, he purposely endeavoured, both in the choice of
his words, and the rusticity of his pronunciation, to imitate the manner
of the ancients. I am indeed sensible that in this instance of Cotta, and
in many others, I have, and shall again insert in the list of Orators,
those who, in reality, had but little claim to the character. For it was,
professedly, my design, to collect an account of all the Romans, without
exception, who made it their business to excel in the profession of
_Eloquence_: and it may be easily seen from this account, by what slow
gradations they advanced, and how excessively difficult it is, in every
thing, to rise to the summit of perfection. As a proof of this, how many
orators have been already recounted, and how much time have we bestowed
upon them, before we could force our way, after infinite fatigue and
drudgery, as, among the Greek's, to _Demosthenes_ and _Hyperides_, so now,
among our own countrymen, to _Antonius_ and _Crassus_! For, in my mind,
these were consummate Orators, and the first among the Romans whose
diffusive Eloquence rivalled the glory of the Greeks. Antonius discovered
every thing which could be of service to his cause, and that in the very
order in which it would be most so: and as a skilful General posts the
cavalry, the infantry, and the light troops, where each of them can act to
most advantage; so Antonius drew up his arguments in those parts of his
discourse, where they were likely to have the best effect. He had a quick
and retentive memory, and a frankness of manner which precluded any
suspicion of artifice. All his speeches were, in appearance, the
unpremeditated effusions of an honest heart; and yet, in reality, they
were preconcerted with so much skill, that the judges were, sometimes, not
so well prepared, as they should have been, to withstand the force of
them. His language, indeed, was not so refined as to pass for the standard
of elegance; for which reason he was thought to be rather a careless
speaker; and yet, on the other hand, it was neither vulgar nor incorrect,
but of that solid and judicious turn, which constitutes the real merit of
an Orator, as to the choice of his words. For, as to a purity of style,
though this is certainly (as before observed) a very commendable quality,
it is not so much so for its intrinsic consequence, as because it is too
generally neglected. In short, it is not so meritorious to speak our
native tongue correctly, as it is scandalous to speak it otherwise; nor is
it so much the property of a good Orator, as of a well-bred Citizen. But
in the choice of his words (in which he had more regard to their weight
than their brilliance) and likewise in the structure of his language, and
the compass of his periods, Antonius conformed himself to the dictates of
reason, and, in a great measure, to the nicer rules of art: though his
chief excellence was a judicious management of the figures and decorations
of sentiment. This was likewise the distinguishing excellence of
Demosthenes; in which he was so far superior to all others, as to be
allowed, in the opinion of the best judges, to be the Prince of Orators.
For the _figures_ (as they are called by the Greeks) are the principal
ornaments of an able speaker, I mean those which contribute not so much to
paint and embellish our language, as to give a lustre to our sentiments.
But besides these, of which Antonius had a great command, he had a
peculiar excellence in his manner of delivery, both as to his voice and
gesture; for the latter was such as to correspond to the meaning of every
sentence, without beating time to the words. His hands, his shoulders, the
turn of his body, the stamp of his foot, his posture, his air, and, in
short, his every motion, was adapted to his language and sentiments: and
his voice was strong and firm, though naturally hoarse;--a defect which he
alone was capable of improving to his advantage; for in capital causes, it
had a mournful dignity of accent, which was exceedingly proper, both to
win the assent of the judges, and excite their compassion for a suffering
client: so that in _him_ the observation of Demosthenes was eminently
verified, who being asked what was the _first_ quality of a good Orator,
what the _second_, and what the _third_, constantly replied, A good

"But many thought that he was equalled, and others that he was even
excelled by Lucius Crassus. All, however, were agreed in this, that
whoever had either of them for his advocate, had no cause to wish for a
better. For my own part, notwithstanding the uncommon merit I have
ascribed to Antonius, I must also acknowlege, that there cannot be a more
finished character than that of Crassus. He possessed a wonderful dignity
of elocution, with an agreeable mixture of wit and pleasantry, which was
perfectly genteel, and without the smallest tincture of scurrility. His
style was correct and elegant without stiffness or affectation: his method
of reasoning was remarkably clear and distinct: and when his cause turned
upon any point of law, or equity, he had an inexhaustible fund of
arguments, and comparative illustrations. For as Antonius had an admirable
turn for suggesting apposite hints, and either suppressing or exciting the
suspicions of the hearer; so no man could explain and define, or discuss a
point of equity, with a more copious facility than Crassus; as
sufficiently appeared upon many other occasions, but particularly in the
cause of M. Curius, which was tried before the Centum Viri. For he urged a
great variety of arguments in the defence of right and equity, against the
literal _jubeat_ of the law; and supported them by such a numerous series
of precedents, that he overpowered Q. Scaevola (a man of uncommon
penetration, and the ablest Civilian of his time) though the case before
them was only a matter of legal right. But the cause was so ably managed
by the two advocates, who were nearly of an age, and both of consular
rank, that while each endeavoured to interpret the law in favour of his
client, Crassus was universally allowed to be the best Lawyer among the
Orators, and Scaevola to be the most eloquent Civilian of the age: for the
latter could not only discover with the nicest precision what was
agreeable to law and equity; but had likewise a conciseness and propriety
of expression, which was admirably adapted to his purpose. In short, he
had such a wonderful vein of oratory in commenting, explaining, and
discussing, that I never beheld his equal; though in amplifying,
embellishing, and refuting, he was rather to be dreaded as a formidable
critic, than admired as an eloquent speaker."--"Indeed," said Brutus,
"though I always thought I sufficiently understood the character of
Scaevola, by the account I had heard of him from C. Rutilius, whose
company I frequented for the sake of his acquaintance with him, I had not
the least idea of his merit as an orator. I am now, therefore, not a
little pleased to be informed, that our Republic has had the honour of
producing so accomplished a man, and such an excellent genius."--"Really,
my Brutus," said I, "you may take it from me, that the Roman State had
never been adorned with two finer characters than these. For, as I have
before observed, that the one was the best Lawyer among the Orators, and
the other the best Speaker among the Civilians of his time; so the
difference between them, in all other respects, was of such a nature, that
it would almost be impossible for you to determine which of the two you
would rather choose to resemble. For, as Crassus was the closest of all
our elegant speakers, so Scaevola was the most elegant among those who
were distinguished by the frugal accuracy of their language: and as
Crassus tempered his affability with a proper share of severity, so the
rigid air of Scaevola was not destitute of the milder graces of an affable
condescension. Though this was really their character, it is very possible
that I may be thought to have embellished it beyond the bounds of truth,
to give an agreeable air to my narrative: but as your favourite sect, my
Brutus, the Old Academy, has defined all Virtue to be a just Mediocrity,
it was the constant endeavour of these two eminent men to pursue this
Golden Mean; and yet it so happened, that while each of them shared a part
of the other's excellence, he preserved his own entire."--"To speak what I
think," replied Brutus, "I have not only acquired a proper acquaintance
with their characters from your account of them, but I can likewise
discover, that the same comparison might be drawn between _you_ and Serv.
Sulpicius, which you have just been making between Crassus and Scaevola."
--"In what manner?" said I.--"Because _you_," replied Brutus, "have taken
the pains to acquire as extensive a knowledge of the law as is necessary
for an Orator; and Sulpicius, on the other hand, took care to furnish
himself with sufficient eloquence to support the character of an able
Civilian. Besides, your age corresponded as nearly to his, as the age of
Crassus did to that of Scaevola."--"As to my own abilities," said I, "the
rules of decency forbid me to speak of them: but your character of Servius
is a very just one, and I may freely tell you what I think of him. There
are few, I believe, who have applied themselves more assiduously to the
art of Speaking than he did, or indeed to the study of every useful
science. In our youth, we both of us followed the same liberal exercises;
and he afterwards accompanied me to Rhodes, to pursue those studies which
might equally improve him as a Man and a Scholar; but when he returned
from thence, he appears to me to have been rather ambitious to be the
foremost man in a secondary profession, than the second in that which
claims the highest dignity. I will not pretend to say that he could not
have ranked himself among the foremost in the latter profession; but he
rather chose to be, what he actually made himself, the first Lawyer of his
time."--"Indeed!" said Brutus: "and do you really prefer Servius to Q.
Scaevola?"--"My opinion," said I, "Brutus, is, that Q. Scaevola, and many
others, had a thorough practical knowledge of the law; but that Servius
alone understood it as _science_: which he could never have done by the
mere study of the law, and without a previous acquaintance with the art
which teaches us to divide a whole into its subordinate parts, to, decide
an indeterminate idea by an accurate definition: to explain what is
obscure, by a clear interpretation; and first to discover what things are
of a _doubtful_ nature, then to distinguish them by their different
degrees of probability; and lastly, to be provided with a certain rule or
measure by which we may judge what is true, and what false, and what
inferences fairly may, or may not be deduced from any given premises. This
important art he applied to those subjects which, for want of it, were
necessarily managed by others without due order and precision."--"You
mean, I suppose," said Brutus, "the Art of Logic."--"You suppose very
right," answered I: "but he added to it an extensive acquaintance with
polite literature, and an elegant manner of expressing himself; as is
sufficiently evident from the incomparable writings he has left behind
him. And as he attached himself, for the improvement of his eloquence, to
L. Lucilius Balbus, and C. Aquilius Gallus, two very able speakers; he
effectually thwarted the prompt celerity of the latter (though a keen,
experienced man) both in supporting and refuting a charge, by his accuracy
and precision, and overpowered the deliberate formality of Balbus (a man
of great learning and erudition) by his adroit and dextrous method of
arguing: so that he equally possessed the good qualities of both, without
their defects. As Crassus, therefore, in my mind, acted more prudently
than Scaevola; (for the latter was very fond of pleading causes, in which
he was certainly inferior to Crassus; whereas the former never engaged
himself in an unequal competition with Scaevola, by assuming the character
of a Civilian;) so Servius pursued a plan which sufficiently discovered
his wisdom; for as the profession of a Pleader, and a Lawyer, are both of
them held in great esteem, and give those who are masters of them the most
extensive influence among their fellow-citizens; he acquired an undisputed
superiority in the one, and improved himself as much in the other as was
necessary to support the authority of the Civil Law, and promote him to
the dignity of a Consul."--"This is precisely the opinion I had formed of
him," said Brutus. "For, a few years ago I heard him often and very
attentively at Samos, when I wanted to be instructed by him in the
Pontifical Law, as far as it is connected with the Civil; and I am now
greatly confirmed in my opinion of him, by finding that it coincides so
exactly with yours. I am likewise not a little pleased to observe, that
the equality of your ages, your sharing the same honours and preferments,
and the vicinity of your respective studies and professions, has been so
far from precipitating either of you into that envious detraction of the
other's merit, which most people are tormented with, that, instead of
wounding your mutual friendship, it has only served to increase and
strengthen it; for, to my own knowlege, he had the same affection for, and
the same favourable sentiments of _you_, which I now discover in you
towards _him_. I cannot, therefore, help regretting very sincerely, that
the Roman State has so long been deprived of the benefit of his advice,
and of your Eloquence;--a circumstance which is indeed calamitous enough
in itself; but must appear much more so to him who considers into what
hands that once respectable authority has been of late, I will not say
transferred, but forcibly wrested."--"You certainly forget," said Atticus,
"that I proposed, when we began the conversation, to drop all matters of
State; by all means, therefore, let us keep to our plan: for if we once
begin to repeat our grievances, there will be no end, I need not say to
our inquiries, but to our sighs and lamentations."--"Let us proceed,
then," said I, "without any farther digression, and pursue the plan we set
out upon. Crassus (for he is the Orator we were just speaking of) always
came into the Forum ready prepared for the combat. He was expected with
impatience, and heard with pleasure. When he first began his Oration
(which he always did in a very accurate style) he seemed worthy of the
great expectations he had raised. He was very moderate in the sway of his
body, had no remarkable variation of voice, never advanced from the ground
he stood upon, and seldom stamped his foot: his language was forcible, and
sometimes warm and pathetic; he had many strokes of humour, which were
always tempered with a becoming dignity; and, what is a difficult
character to hit, he was at once very florid, and very concise. In a close
contest, he never met with his equal; and there was scarcely any kind of
causes, in which he had not signalized his abilities; so that he enrolled
himself very early among the first Orators of the time. He accused C.
Carbo, though a man of great Eloquence, when he was but a youth;--and
displayed his talents in such a manner, that they were not only applauded,
but admired by every body. He afterwards defended the Virgin Licinia, when
he was only twenty-seven years of age; on which occasion he discovered an
uncommon share of Eloquence, as is evident from those parts of his Oration
which he left behind him in writing. As he was then desirous to have the
honour of settling the colony of Narbonne (as he afterwards did) he
thought it adviseable to recommend himself, by undertaking the management
of some popular cause. His Oration, in support of the act which was
proposed for that purpose, is still extant; and discovers a greater
maturity of genius than might have been expected at that time of life. He
afterwards pleaded many other causes: but his tribuneship was such a
remarkably silent one, that if he had not supped with Granius the beadle
when he enjoyed that office (a circumstance which has been twice mentioned
by Lucilius) we should scarcely have known that a tribune of that name had
existed."--"I believe so," replied Brutus: "but I have heard as little of
the tribuneship of Scaevola, though I must naturally suppose that he was
the colleague of Crassus."--"He was so," said I, "in all his other
preferments; but he was not tribune till the year after him; and when he
sat in the Rostrum in that capacity, Crassus spoke in support of the
Servilian law. I must observe, however, that Crassus had not Scaevola for
his colleague in the censorship; for none of the Scaevolas ever sued for
that office. But when the last-mentioned Oration of Crassus was published
(which I dare say you have frequently read) he was thirty-four years of
age, which was exactly the difference between his age and mine. For he
supported the law I have just been speaking of, in the very consulship
under which I was born; whereas he himself was born in the consulship of
Q. Caepio, and C. Laelius, about three years later than Antonius. I have
particularly noticed this circumstance, to specify the time when the Roman
Eloquence attained its first _maturity_; and was actually carried to such
a degree of perfection, as to leave no room for any one to carry it
higher, unless by the assistance of a more complete and extensive
knowledge of philosophy, jurisprudence, and history."--"But does there,"
said Brutus, "or will there ever exist a man, who is furnished with all
the united accomplishments you require?"--"I really don't know," said I;
"but we have a speech made by Crassus in his consulship, in praise of Q.
Caepio, intermingled with a defence of his conduct, which, though a short
one if we consider it as an Oration, is not so as a Panegyric;--and
another, which was his last, and which he spoke in the 48th year of his
age, at the time he was censor. In these we have the genuine complexion of
Eloquence, without any painting or disguise: but his periods (I mean
Crassus's) were generally short and concise; and he was fond of expressing
himself in those minuter sentences, or members, which the Greeks call
Colons."--"As you have spoken so largely," said Brutus, "in praise of the
two last-mentioned Orators, I heartily wish that Antonius had left us some
other specimen of his abilities, than his trifling Essay on the Art of
Speaking, and Crassus more than he has: by so doing, they would have
transmitted their fame to _posterity_; and to us a valuable system of
Eloquence. For as to the elegant language of Scaevola, we have sufficient
proofs of it in the Orations he has left behind him."--"For my part," said
I, "the Oration I was speaking of, on Caepio's case, has been my pattern,
and my tutoress, from my very childhood. It supports the dignity of the
Senate, which was deeply interested in the debate; and excites the
jealousy of the audience against the party of the judges and accusers,
whose power it was necessary to expose in the most popular terms. Many
parts of it are very strong and nervous, many others very cool and
composed; and some are distinguished by the asperity of their language,
and not a few by their wit and pleasantry: but much more was said than was
committed to writing, as is sufficiently evident from several heads of the
Oration, which are merely proposed without any enlargement or explanation.
But the oration in his censorship against his colleague Cn. Domitius, is
not so much an Oration, as an analysis of the subject, or a general sketch
of what he had said, with here and there a few ornamental touches, by way
of specimen: for no contest was ever conducted with greater spirit than
this. Crassus, however, was eminently distinguished by the popular turn of
his language: but that of Antonius was better adapted to judicial trials,
than to a public debate. As we have had occasion to mention him, Domitius
himself must not be left unnoticed: for though he is not enrolled in the
list of Orators, he had a sufficient share both of utterance and genius,
to support his character as a magistrate and his dignity as a consul. I
might likewise observe of C. Caelius, that he was a man of great
application, and many eminent qualities, and had eloquence enough to
support the private interests of his friends, and his own dignity in the
State. At the same time lived M. Herennius, who was reckoned among the
middling Orators, whose principal merit was the purity and correctness of
their language; and yet, in a suit for the consulship, he got the better
of L. Philippus, a man of the first rank and family, and of the most
extensive connections, and who was likewise a member of the College, and a
very eloquent speaker. _Then_ also lived C. Clodius, who, besides his
consequence as a nobleman of the first distinction, and a man of the most
powerful influence, was likewise possessed of a moderate share of
Eloquence. Nearly of the same age was C. Titius, a Roman knight, who, in
my judgment, arrived at as high a degree of perfection as a Roman orator
was able to do, without the assistance of the Grecian literature, and a
good share of practice. His Orations have so many delicate turns, such a
number of well-chosen examples, and such an agreeable vein of politeness,
that they almost seem to have been composed in the true Attic style. He
likewise transferred his delicacies into his very Tragedies, with
ingenuity enough, I confess, but not in the tragic taste. But the poet L.
Afranius, whom he studiously imitated, was a very smart writer, and, as
you well know, a man of great expression in the dramatic way. Q. Rubrius
Varro, who with C. Marius, was declared an enemy by the Senate, was
likewise a warm, and a very spirited prosecutor. My relation, M.
Gratidius, was a plausible speaker of the same kind, well versed in the
Grecian literature, formed by nature for the profession of Eloquence, and
an intimate acquaintance of M. Antonius: he commanded under him in
Cilicia, where he lost his life: and he once commenced a prosecution
against C. Fimbria, the father of M. Marius Gratidianus. There have
likewise been several among the Allies, and the Latins, who were esteemed
good Orators; as, for instance, Q. Vettius of Vettium, one of the Marsi,
whom I myself was acquainted with, a man of sense, and a concise speaker;
--the Q. and D. Valerii of Sora, my neighbours and acquaintances, who were
not so remarkable for their talent of speaking, as for their skill both in
the Greek and Roman literature; and C. Rusticellus of Bononia, an
experienced Orator, and a man of great natural volubility. But the most
eloquent of all those who were not citizens of Rome, was T. Betucius
Barrus of Asculum, some of whose Orations, which were spoken in that city,
are still extant: that which he made at Rome against Caepio, is really an
excellent one: the speech which Caepio delivered in answer to it, was made
by Aelius, who composed a number of Orations, but pronounced none himself.
But among those of a remoter date, L. Papirius of Fregellae in Latium, who
was almost cotemporary with Ti. Gracchus, was universally esteemed the
most eloquent: we have a speech of his in vindication of the Fregellani,
and the Latin Colonies, which was delivered before the Senate."--"And what
then is the merit," said Brutus, "which you mean to ascribe to these
provincial Orators?"--"What else," replied I, "but the very same which I
have ascribed to the city-orators; excepting that their language is not
tinctured with the same fashionable delicacy?"--"What fashionable delicacy
do you mean?" said he.--"I cannot," said I, "pretend to define it: I only
know that there is such a quality existing. When you go to your province
in Gaul, you will be convinced of it. You will there find many expressions
which are not current in Rome; but these may be easily changed, and
corrected. But, what is of greater importance, our Orators have a
particular accent in their manner of pronouncing, which is more elegant,
and has a more agreeable effect than any other. This, however, is not
peculiar to the Orators, but is equally common to every well-bred citizen.
I myself remember that T. Tineas, of Placentia, who was a very facetious
man, once engaged in a repartee skirmish with my old friend Q. Granius,
the public crier."--"Do you mean that Granius," said Brutus, "of whom
Lucilius has related such a number of stories?"--"The very same," said I:
"but though Tineas said as many smart things as the other, Granius at last
overpowered him by a certain vernacular _goût_, which gave an additional
relish to his humour: so that I am no longer surprised at what is said to
have happened to Theophrastus, when he enquired of an old woman who kept a
stall, what was the price of something which he wanted to purchase. After
telling him the value of it,--"Honest _stranger_," said she, "I cannot
afford it for less": "an answer which nettled him not a little, to think
that _he_ who had resided almost all his life at Athens, and spoke the
language very correctly, should be taken at last for a foreigner. In the
same manner, there is, in my opinion, a certain accent as peculiar to the
native citizens of Rome, as the other was to those of Athens. But it is
time for us to return home; I mean to the Orators of our own growth. Next,
therefore, to the two capital Speakers above-mentioned, (that is Crassus
and Antonius) came L. Philippus,--not indeed till a considerable time
afterwards; but still he must be reckoned the next. I do not mean,
however, though nobody appeared in the interim who could dispute the prize
with him, that he was entitled to the second, or even the third post of
honour. For, as in a Chariot-race I cannot properly consider _him_ as
either the second, or third winner, who has scarcely got clear of the
starting-post, before the first has reached the goal; so, among Orators, I
can scarcely honour him with the name of a competitor, who has been so far
distanced by the foremost as hardly to appear on the same ground with him.
But yet there were certainly some talents to be observed in Philippus,
which any person who considers them, without subjecting them to a
comparison with the superior merits of the two before-mentioned, must
allow to have been respectable. He had an uncommon freedom of address, a
large fund of humour, great facility in the invention of his sentiments,
and a ready and easy manner of expressing them. He was likewise, for the
time he lived in, a great adept in the literature of the Greeks; and, in
the heat of a debate, he could sting, and gash, as well as ridicule his
opponents. Almost cotemporary with these was L. Gellius, who was not so
much to be valued for his positive, as for his negative merits: for he was
neither destitute of learning, nor invention, nor unacquainted with the
history and the laws of his country; besides which, he had a tolerable
freedom of expression. But he happened to live at a time when many
excellent Orators made their appearance; and yet he served his friends
upon many occasions to good purpose: in short, his life was so long, that
he was successively cotemporary with a variety of Orators of different
dates, and had an extensive series of practice in judicial causes. Nearly
at the same time lived D. Brutus, who was fellow-consul with Mamercus;--
and was equally skilled both in the Grecian and Roman literature. L.
Scipio likewise was not an unskilful Speaker; and Cnaeus Pompeius, the son
of Sextus, had some reputation as an Orator; for his brother Sextus
applied the excellent genius he was possessed of, to acquire a thorough
knowledge of the Civil Law, and a complete acquaintance with geometry and
the doctrine of the Stoics. A little before these, M. Brutus, and very
soon after him, C. Bilienus, who was a man of great natural capacity, made
themselves, by nearly the same application, equally eminent in the
profession of the law;--the latter would have been chosen Consul, if he
had not been thwarted by the repeated promotion of Marius, and some other
collateral embarrassments which attended his suit. But the eloquence of
Cn. Octavius, which was wholly unknown before his elevation to the
Consulship, was effectually displayed, after his preferment to that
office, in a great variety of speeches. It is, however, time for us to
drop those who were only classed in the number of good _speakers_, and
turn our attention to such as were really _Orators_."--"I think so too,"
replied Atticus; "for I understood that you meant to give us an account,
not of those who took great pains to be eloquent, but of those who were so
in reality."--"C. Julius then," said I, (the son of Lucius) was certainly
superior, not only to his predecessors, but to all his cotemporaries, in
wit and humour: he was not, indeed, a nervous and striking Orator, but, in
the elegance, the pleasantry, and the agreeableness of his manner, he has
not been excelled by any man. There are some Orations of his still extant,
in which, as well as in his Tragedies, we may discover a pleasing
tranquillity of expression with very little energy. P. Cethegus, his
cotemporary, had always enough to say on matters of civil regulation; for
he had studied and comprehended them with the minutest accuracy; by which
means he acquired an equal authority in the Senate with those who had
served the office of consul, and though he made no figure in a public
debate, he was a serviceable veteran in any suit of a private nature. Q.
Lucretius Vispillo was an acute Speaker, and a good Civilian in the same
kind of causes: but Osella was better qualified for a public harangue,
than to conduct a judicial process. T. Annius Velina was likewise a man of
sense, and a tolerable pleader; and T. Juventius had a great deal of
practice in the same way:--the latter indeed was rather too heavy and
unanimated, but at the same time he was keen and artful, and knew how to
seize every advantage which was offered by his antagonist; to which we may
add, that he was far from being a man of no literature, and had an
extensive knowledge of the Civil Law. His scholar, P. Orbius, who was
almost cotemporary with me, had no great practice as a pleader; but his
skill in the Civil Law was nothing inferior to his master's. As to Titus
Aufidius, who lived to a great age, he was a professed imitator of both;
and was indeed a worthy inoffensive man, but seldom spoke at the bar. His
brother, M. Virgilius, who when he was a tribune of the people, commenced
a prosecution against L. Sylla, then advanced to the rank of General, had
as little practice as Aufidius. Virgilius's colleague, P. Magius, was more
copious and diffusive. But of all the Orators, or rather _Ranters_, I ever
knew, who were totally illiterate and unpolished, and (I might have added)
absolutely coarse and rustic, the readiest and keenest, were Q. Sertorius,
and C. Gorgonius, the one of consular, and the other of equestrian rank.
T. Junius (the son of L.) who had served the office of tribune, and
prosecuted and convicted P. Sextius of bribery, when he was praetor elect,
was a prompt and an easy speaker: he lived in great splendor, and had a
very promising genius; and, if he had not been of a weak, and indeed a
sickly constitution, he would have advanced much farther than he did in
the road to preferment. I am sensible, however, that in the account I have
been giving, I have included many who were neither real, nor reputed
Orators; and that I have omitted others, among those of a remoter date,
who well deserved not only to have been mentioned, but to be recorded with
honour. But this I was forced to do, for want of better information: for
what could I say concerning men of a distant age, none of whose
productions are now remaining, and of whom no mention is made in the
writings of other people? But I have omitted none of those who have fallen
within the compass of my own knowledge, or that I myself remember to have
heard. For I wish to make it appear, that in such a powerful and ancient
republic as ours, in which the greatest rewards have been proposed to
Eloquence, though all have desired to be good speakers, not many have
attempted the talk, and but very few have succeeded. But I shall give my
opinion of every one in such explicit terms, that it may be easily
understood whom I consider as a mere Declaimer, and whom as an Orator."

"About the same time, or rather something later than the above-mentioned
Julius, but almost cotemporary with each other, were C. Cotta, P.
Sulpicius, Q. Varius, Cn. Pomponius, C. Curio, L. Fufius, M. Drusus, and
P. Antistius; for no age whatsoever has been distingushed by a more
numerous progeny of Orators. Of these, Cotta and Sulpicius, both in my
opinion, and in that of the Public at large, had an evident claim to the
preference."--"But wherefore," interrupted Atticus, "do you say, _in your
own opinion, and in that of the Public at large?_ In deciding the merits
of an Orator, does the opinion of the vulgar, think you, always coincide
with that of the learned? Or rather does not one receive the approbation
of the populace, while another of a quite opposite character is preferred
by those who are better qualified to give their judgment?"--"You have
started a very pertinent question," said I; "but, perhaps, _the Public at
large_ will not approve my answer to it."--"And what concern need _that_
give you," replied Atticus, "if it meets the approbation of Brutus?"--
"Very true," said I; "for I had rather my _sentiments_ on the
qualifications of an Orator would please you and Brutus, than all the
world besides: but as to my _Eloquence_, I should wish _this_ to please
every one. For he who speaks in such a manner as to please the people,
must inevitably receive the approbation of the learned. As to the truth
and propriety of what I hear, I am indeed to judge of this for myself, as
well as I am able: but the general merit of an Orator must and will be
decided by the effects which his eloquence produces. For (in my opinion at
least) there are three things which an Orator should be able to effect;
_viz_. to _inform_ his hearers, to _please_ them, and to _move their
passions_. By what qualities in the Speaker each of these, effects may be
produced, or by what deficiencies they are either lost, or but imperfectly
performed, is an enquiry which none but an artist can resolve: but whether
an audience is really so affected by an Orator as shall best answer his
purpose, must be left to their own feelings, and the decision of the
Public. The learned, therefore, and the people at large, have never
disagreed about who was a good Orator, and who was otherwise. For do you
suppose, that while the Speakers above-mentioned were in being, they had
not the same degree of reputation among the learned as among the populace?
If you had enquired of one of the latter, _who was the most eloquent man
in the city_, he might have hesitated whether to say _Antonius_ or
_Crassus_; or this man, perhaps, would have mentioned the one, and that
the other. But would any one have given the preference to _Philippus_,
though otherwise a smooth, a sensible, and a facetious Speaker?--that
_Philippus_ whom we, who form our judgment upon these matters by rules of
art, have decided to have been the next in merit? Nobody would, I am
certain. For it is the invariable, property of an accomplished Orator, to
be reckoned such in the opinion of the people. Though Antigenidas,
therefore, the musician, might say to his scholar, who was but coldly
received by the Public, Play on, to please me and the Muses;--I shall say
to my friend Brutus, when he mounts the Rostra, as he frequently does,--
Play to me and the people;--that those who hear him may be sensible of the
effect of his Eloquence, while I can likewise amuse myself with remarking
the causes which produce it. When a Citizen hears an able Orator, he
readily credits what is said;--he imagines every thing to be true, he
believes and relishes the force of it; and, in short, the persuasive
language of the Speaker wins his absolute, his hearty assent. You, who are
possessed of a critical knowledge of the art, what more will you require?
The listening multitude is charmed and captivated by the force of his
Eloquence, and feels a pleasure which is not to be resisted. What here can
you find to censure? The whole audience is either flushed with joy, or
overwhelmed with grief;--it smiles, or weeps,--it loves, or hates,--it
scorns or envies,--and, in short, is alternately seized with the various
emotions of pity, shame, remorse, resentment, wonder, hope, and fear,
according as it is influenced by the language, the sentiments, and the
action of the speaker. In this case, what necessity is there to await the
sanction of a critic? For here, whatever is approved by the feelings of
the people, must be equally so by men of taste and erudition: and, in this
instance of public decision, there can be no disagreement between the
opinion of the vulgar, and that of the learned. For though many good
Speakers have appeared in every species of Oratory, which of them who was
thought to excel the rest in the judgment of the populace, was not
approved as such by every man of learning? or which of our ancestors, when
the choice of a pleader was left to his own option, did not immediately
fix it either upon Crassus or Antonius? There were certainly many others
to be had: but though any person might have hesitated to which of the
above two he should give the preference, there was nobody, I believe, who
would have made choice of a third. And in the time of my youth, when Cotta
and Hortensius were in such high reputation, who, that had liberty to
choose for himself, would have employed any other?"--"But what occasion is
there," said Brutus, "to quote the example of other speakers to support
your assertion? have we not seen what has always been the wish of the
defendant, and what the judgment of Hortensius, concerning yourself? for
whenever the latter shared a cause with you, (and I was often present on
those occasions) the peroration, which requires the greatest exertion of
the powers of Eloquence, was constantly left to _you_."--"It was," said I;
"and Hortensius (induced, I suppose, by the warmth of his friendship)
always resigned the post of honour to me. But, as to myself, what rank I
hold in the opinion of the people I am unable to determine: as to others,
however, I may safely assert, that such of them as were reckoned most
eloquent in the judgment of the vulgar, were equally high in the
estimation of the learned. For even Demosthenes himself could not have
said what is related of Antimachus, a poet of Claros, who, when he was
rehearsing to an audience assembled for the purpose, that voluminous piece
of his which you are well acquainted with, and was deserted by all his
hearers except Plato, in the midst of his performance, cried out, "I
shall proceed notwithstanding_; for Plato alone is of _more consequence to
me than many thousands_." "The remark was very just. For an abstruse poem,
such as his, only requires the approbation of the judicious few; but a
discourse intended for the people should be perfectly suited to their
taste. If Demosthenes, therefore, after being deserted by the rest of his
audience, had even Plato left to hear him, and no one else, I will answer
for it, he could not have uttered another syllable. 'Nay, or could you
yourself, my Brutus, if the whole assembly was to leave you, as it once
did Curio?"--"To open my whole mind to you," replied he, "I must confess
that even in such causes as fall under the cognizance of a few select
judges, and not of the people at large, if I was to be deserted by the
casual crowd who came to hear the trial, I should not be able to
proceed."--"The case, then, is plainly this," said I: "as a flute, which
will not return its proper sound when it is applied to the lips, would be
laid aside by the musician as useless; so, the ears of the people are the
instrument upon which an Orator is to play: and if these refuse to admit
the breath he bestows upon them, or if the hearer, like a restive horse,
will not obey the spur, the speaker must cease to exert himself any
farther. There is, however, the exception to be made; the people sometimes
give their approbation to an orator who does not deserve it. But even here
they approve what they have had no opportunity of comparing with something
better: as, for instance, when they are pleased with an indifferent, or,
perhaps, a bad speaker. His abilities satisfy their expectation: they have
seen nothing preferable: and, therefore, the merit of the day, whatever it
may happen to be, meets their full applause. For even a middling Orator,
if he is possessed of any degree of Eloquence, will always captivate the
ear; and the order and beauty of a good discourse has an astonishing
effect upon the human mind. Accordingly, what common hearer who was
present when Q. Scaevola pleaded for M. Coponius, in the cause above-
mentioned, would have wished for, or indeed thought it possible to find
any thing which was more correct, more elegant, or more complete? When he
attempted to prove, that, as M. Curius was left heir to the estate only in
case of the death of his future ward before he came of age, he could not
possibly be a legal heir, when the expected ward was never born;--what did
he leave unsaid of the scrupulous regard which should be paid to the
literal meaning of every testament? what of the accuracy and preciseness
of the old and established forms; of law? and how carefully did he specify
the manner in which the will would have been expressed, if it had intended
that Curius should be the heir in case of a total default of issue? in
what a masterly manner did he represent the ill consequences to the
Public, if the letter of a will should be disregarded, its intention
decided by arbitrary conjectures, and the written bequests of plain
illiterate men, left to the artful interpretation of a pleader? how often
did he urge the authority of his father, who had always been an advocate

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