Copyright
F. V. N. (Franklin Verzelius Newton) Painter.

Great pedagogical essays; Plato to Spencer online

. (page 7 of 33)
Online LibraryF. V. N. (Franklin Verzelius Newton) PainterGreat pedagogical essays; Plato to Spencer → online text (page 7 of 33)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


He resided for more than a year at Thessalonica. He was
then recalled to Rome, where he was received with great
enthusiasm. In the civil war between Caesar and Pompey,
he espoused the cause of the latter; and after Pompey's
defeat and death in 48 B. C., he lived in retirement. It was
during this period of enforced leisure that he wrote his
principal works. He was slain 43 B. C. by the soldiers of
Antony, whom he had opposed in a series of orations to
which he gave the name of Philippics.

Cicero touches upon education in his oration in defense
of Archias, in his dialogue on " Brutus," and in his
" Orator." It is from the last named work that the fol-
lowing selection is taken. It is interesting as presenting
the great Roman's views of what an orator's education
should be. We should not forget that .to Cicero's mind the
orator was the highest type of the cultured and capable,
gentleman. He therefore presents, in this brief extract, 1
his conception of the highest aim of a generous and com-
plete education.



SELECTION FROM " DE ORATORE" 85



SELECTION FROM CICERO'S "DE ORATORE."

XV. " If, therefore, any one desires to define and com-
prehend the whole and peculiar power of an orator, that
man, in my opinion, will be an orator, worthy of so great a
name, who, whatever subject comes before him, and requires
rhetorical elucidation, can speak on it judiciously, in set
form, elegantly, and from memory, and with a certain
dignity of action. But if the phrase which I have used,
' on whatever subject/ is thought by any one too compre-
hensive, let him retrench and curtail as much of it as he
pleases; but this I will maintain, that though the orator
be ignorant of what belongs to other arts and pursuits,
and understands only what concerns the discussions and
practice of the Forum, yet if he has to speak on those arts,
he will, when he has learned what pertains to any of them
from persons who understand them, discourse upon them
much better than the very persons of whom those arts
form the peculiar province. Thus, if our friend Sulpicius
have to speak on military affairs, he will inquire about
them of my kinsman Caius Marius, and when he has re-
ceived information, will speak upon them in such a manner,
that he shall seem to Marius to understand them better
than himself. Or if he has to speak on the civil law, he
will consult with you, and will excel you, though eminently
wise and learned in it, in speaking on those very points
which he shall have' learned from yourself. Or if any sub-
ject presents itself, requiring him to speak on the nature
and vices of men, on desire, on moderation, on continence,
on grief, on death, perhaps, if he thinks proper (though
the orator ought to have a knowledge of these things), he
will consult with Sextus Pompeius, a man learned in phi-



86 CICERO

losophy. But this he will certainly accomplish, that, of
whatever matter he gains a knowledge, or from whomso-
ever, he will speak upon it much more elegantly than the
very person from whom he gained the knowledge. But,
since philosophy is distinguished into three parts, inquiries
into the obscurities of physics, the subtleties of logic, and
the knowledge of life and manners, let us, if Sulpicius will
listen to me, leave the two former, and consult our ease;
but unless we have a knowledge of the third, which has
always been the province of the orator, we shall leave him
nothing in which he can distinguish himself. The part of
philosophy, therefore, regarding life and manners, must
be thoroughly mastered by the orator; other subjects, even
if he has not learned them, he will be able, whenever there
is occasion, to adorn by his eloquence, if they are brought
before him and made known to him.

XVI. " For if it is allowed amongst the learned that
Aratus, a man ignorant of astronomy, has treated of heaven
and the constellations in extremely polished and excellent
verses; if Nicander, of Colophon, a man totally uncon-
nected with the country, has written well on rural affairs,
with the aid of poetical talent, and not from understanding
husbandry, what reason is there why an orator should not
speak most eloquently on those matters of which he shall
have gained a knowledge for a certain purpose and occa-
sion? For the poet is nearly allied to the orator; being
somewhat more restricted in numbers, but less restrained
in the choice of words, yet in many kinds of embellish-
ment his rival and almost equal; in one respect, assuredly,
nearly the same, that he circumscribes or bounds his juris-
diction by no limits, but reserves to himself full right to
range wherever he pleases with the same ease and liberty.
For why did you say, Scsevola, that you would not endure,
unless you were in my domain, my assertion, that the



SELECTION FROM " DE ORATORE" 87

orator ought to be accomplished in every style of speak-
ing, and in every part of polite learning? I should cer-
tainly not have said this if I had thought myself to be the
orator whom I conceive in my imagination. But, as Caius
Lucilius used frequently to say (a man not very friendly
to you, and on that account less familiar with me than he
could wish, but a man of learning and good breeding), I
am of this opinion, that no one is to be numbered among
orators who is not thoroughly accomplished in all branches
of knowledge requisite for a man of good breeding; and
though we may not put forward such knowledge in con-
versation, yet it is apparent, and indeed evident, whether
we are destitute of it, or have acquired it; as those who
play at tennis do not exhibit, in playing, the gestures of
the palaestra, but their movements indicate whether they
have learned those exercises or are unacquainted with
them ; and as those who shape out anything, though they
do not then exercise the art of painting, yet make it clear
whether they can paint or not; so in orations to courts of
justice, before the people, and in the senate, although other
sciences have no peculiar place in them, yet is it easily
proved whether he who speaks has only been exercised in
the parade of declamation, or has devoted himself to oratory

after having been instructed in all liberal knowledge."
*****

XIX. " Certain men of eloquence at Athens, versed in
public affairs and judicial pleadings, disputed on the other
side; among whom was Menedemus, lately my guest at
Rome; but when he had observed that there is a sort of
wisdom which is employed in inquiring into the methods
of settling and managing governments, he, though a ready
speaker, was promptly attacked by the other, a man of
abundant learning, and of an almost incredible variety and
copiousness of argument; who maintained that every por-



88 CICERO

tion of such wisdom must be derived from philosophy, and
that whatever was established in a state concerning the
immortal gods, the discipline of youth, justice, patience,
temperance, moderation in everything, and other matters,
without which states would either not subsist at all, or be
corrupt in morals, was nowhere to be found in the petty
treatises, of the rhetoricians. For if those teachers of
rhetoric included in their art such a multitude of the most
important subjects, why, he asked, were their books
crammed with rules about proems and perorations, and
such trifles (for so he called them), while about the model-
ing of states, the composition of laws, about equity, jus-
tice, integrity, about mastering the appetites, and forming
the morals of mankind, not one single syllable was to be
found in their pages? Their precepts he ridiculed in such
a manner, as to show that the teachers were not only
destitute of the knowledge which they arrogated to them-
selves, but that they did not even know the proper art and
method of speaking; for he thought that the principal
business of an orator was, that he might appear to those
to whom he spoke to be such as he would wish to appear
(that this was to be attained by a life of good reputation,
on which those teachers of rhetoric had laid down nothing
in their precepts) ; and that the minds of the audience
should be affected in such a manner as the orator would
have them to be affected, an object, also, which could by
no means be attained, unless the speaker understood by
what methods, by what arguments, and by what sort of
language the minds of men are moved in any particular
direction ; but that these matters were involved and con-
cealed in the profoundest doctrines of philosophy, which
these rhetoricians had not touched even with the extremity
of their lips. These assertions Menedemus endeavored
to refute, but rather by authorities than by arguments; for,



SELECTION FROM " DE ORATOKE" 89

repeating from memory many noble passages from the
orations of Demosthenes, he showed that that orator, while
he swayed the minds of judges or of the people by his elo-
quence, was not ignorant by what means he attained his end,
which Charmadas denied that any one could know without
philosophy.

XX. " To this Charmadas replied, that he did not deny
that Demosthenes was possessed of consummate ability
and the utmost energy of eloquence; but whether he had
these powers from natural genius, or because he was, as
was acknowledged, a diligent hearer of Plato, it was not
what Demosthenes could do, but what the rhetoricians
taught, that was the subject of inquiry. Sometimes too he
was carried so far by the drift of his discourse, as to main-
tain that there was no art at all in speaking; and having
shown by various arguments that we are so formed by na-
ture as to be able to flatter, and to insinuate ourselves, as
suppliants, into the favor of those from whom we wish to
obtain anything, as well as to terrify our enemies by men-
aces, to relate matters of fact, to confirm what we assert,
to refute what is said against us, and, finally, to use en-
treaty or lamentation ; particulars in which the whole facul-
ties of the orator are employed; and that practice and
exercise sharpened the understanding, and produced fluency
of speech, he rested his cause, in conclusion, on a multitude
of examples that he adduced; for first, as if stating an in-
disputable fact, he affirmed that no writer on the art of
rhetoric was ever even moderately eloquent, going back as
far as I know not what Corax and Tisias, who, he said,
appeared to be the inventors and first authors of rhetorical
science ; and then named a vast number of the most eloquent
men who had neither learned, nor cared to understand the
rules of art, and amongst whom, (whether in jest, or be-
cause he thought, or had heard something to that effect,)



90 CICERO

he instanced me as one who had received none of their in-
structions, and yet, as he said, had some abilities as a
speaker; of which two observations I readily granted the
truth of one, that I had never been instructed, but thought
that in the other he was either joking with me, or was un-
der some mistake. But he denied there was any art, except
such as lay in things that were known and thoroughly un-
derstood, things tending to the same object, and never mis-
leading; but that everything treated by the orators was
doubtful and uncertain ; as it was uttered by those who did
not fully understand it, and was heard by them to whom
knowledge was not meant to be communicated, but merely
false, or at least obscure notions, intended to live in their
minds only for a short time. In short, he seemed bent on
convincing me that there was no art of speaking, and that
no one could speak skilfully, or so as fully to illustrate a
subject, but one who had attained that knowledge which is
delivered by the most learned of the philosophers. On which
occasions Charmadas used to say, with a passionate admira-
tion of your genius, Crassus, that I appeared to him very
easy in listening, and you most pertinacious in disputation.
XXI. " Then it was that I, swayed by this opinion, re-
marked in a little treatise which got abroad, and into peo-
ple's hands without my knowledge and against my will, that
I had known many good speakers, but never yet any one
that was truly eloquent ; for I accounted him a good speaker,
who could express his thoughts with accuracy and perspi-
cuity, according to the ordinary judgment of mankind, be-
fore an audience of moderate capacity; but I considered
him alone eloquent, who could in a more admirable and
noble manner amplify and adorn whatever subjects he chose,
and who embraced in thought and memory all the principles
of everything relating to oratory.



SELECTION FROM " DE ORA TORE " gi

XXXI. . . . "In the first place, I will not deny that,
as becomes a man well born and liberally educated, I learned
those trite and common precepts of teachers in general ;
first, that it is the business of an orator to speak in a man-
ner adapted to persuade; next, that every speech is either
upon a question concerning a matter in general, without
specification of persons or times, or concerning a matter
referring to certain persons and times. But that, in either
case, whatever falls under controversy, the question with re-
gard to it is usually, whether such a thing has been done, or,
if it has been done, of what nature it is, or by what name it
should be called ; or, as some add, whether it seems to have
been done rightly or not. That controversies arise also on
the interpretation of writing, in which anything has been ex-
pressed ambiguously, or contradictorily, or so that what is
written is at variance with the writer's evident intention ; and
that there are certain lines of argument adapted to all these
cases. But that of such subjects as are distinct from general
questions, part come under the head of judicial proceedings,
part under that of deliberations; and that there is a third
kind which is employed in praising or censuring particular
persons. That there are also certain commonplaces on which
we may insist in judicial proceedings, in which equity is the
object; others, which we may adopt in deliberations, all
which are to be directed to the advantage of those to whom
we give counsel ; others in panegyric, in which all must be
referred to the dignity of the persons commended. That
since all the business and art of an orator is divided into
five parts, he ought first to find out what he should say;
next, to dispose and arrange his matter, not only in a cer-
tain order, but with a sort of power and judgment; then to
clothe and deck his thoughts with language ; then to secure
them in his memory ; and lastly, to deliver them with dignity
and grace. I had learned and understood also, that before



93 CICERO

we enter upon the main subject, the minds of the audience
should be conciliated by an exordium; next that the
case should be clearly stated; then, that the point in con-
troversy should be established ; then, that what we maintain
should be supported by proof, and that whatever was said
on the other side should be refuted; and that, in the con-
clusion of our speech, whatever was in our favor should be
amplified and enforced, and whatever made ' for our adver-
saries should be weakened and invalidated.'

XXXII. " I had heard also what is taught about the cos-
tume of a speech ; in regard to which it is first directed that
we should speak correctly and in pure Latin ; next, intel-
ligibly and with perspicuity; then gracefully; then suitably
to the dignity of the subject, and as it were becomingly; and
I had made myself acquainted with the rules relating to
every particular. Moreover, I had seen art applied to those
things which are properly endowments of nature; for I
had gone over some precepts concerning action, and some
concerning artificial memory, which were short indeed, but
requiring much exercise; matters on which almost all the
learning of those artificial orators is employed; and if I
should say that it is of no assistance, I should say what is
not true ; for it conveys some hints to admonish the orator,
as it were, to what he should refer each part of his speech,
and to what points he may direct his view, so as not to wan-
der from the object whiclrhe has proposed to himself. But
I consider that with regard to all precepts the case is this,
not that orators by adhering to them have obtained distinc-
tion in eloquence ; but that certain persons have noticed what
men of eloquence practiced of their own accord, and formed
rules accordingly ; so that eloquence has not sprung from art,
but art from eloquence ; not that, as I said before, I entirely
reject art, for it is, though not essentially necessary to ora-
tory, yet proper for a man of liberal education to learn. And



SELECTION FROM " DE ORATORE" 93

by you, my young friends, some preliminary exercise must
be undergone ; though indeed you are already on the course ;
but those who are to enter upon a race, and those who are
preparing for what is to be done in the forum, as their field
of battle, may alike previously learn, and try their powers, by
practicing in sport." " That sort of exercise," said Sulpicius
" is just what we wanted to understand ; but we desire to
hear more at large what you have briefly and cursorily de-
livered concerning art ; though such matters are not strange
even to us. Of that subject, however, we shall inquire here-
after ; at present we wish to know your sentiments on exer-
cise."

XXXIII. " I like that method," replied Crassus, " which
you are accustomed to practice, namely, to lay down a case
similar to those which are brought on in the forum, and to
speak upon it, as nearly as possible, as if it were a real case.
But in such efforts the generality of students exercise only
their voice (and not even that skilfully), and try their
strength of lungs, and volubility of tongue, and please them-
selves with a torrent of their own words ; in which exercise
what they have heard deceives them, that men by speaking
succeed in becoming speakers. For it is truly said also,
That men by speaking badly make sure of becoming bad
speakers. In those exercises, therefore, although it be use-
ful even frequently to speak on the sudden, yet it is more
advantageous, after taking time to consider, to speak with
greater preparation and accuracy. But the chief point of all
is that which (to say the truth) we hardly ever practice (for
it requires great labor, which most of us avoid) ; I mean,
to write as much as possible. Writing is said to be the best
and most excellent modeler and teacher of oratory; and not
without reason; for if what is meditated and considered
easily surpasses sudden and extemporary speech, a constant
and diligent habit of writing will surely be of more effect



94 CICERO

than meditation and consideration itself; since all the argu-
ments relating to the subject on which we write, whether
they are suggested by art, or by a certain power of genius and
understanding, will present themselves, and occur to us,
while we examine and contemplate it in the full light of our
intellect ; and all the thoughts and words, which are the most
expressive of their kind, must of necessity come under and
submit to the keenness of our judgment while writing; and a
fair arrangement and collocation of the words is effected by
writing, in a certain rhythm and measure, not poetical, but
oratorical. Such are the qualities which bring applause and
admiration to good orators; nor will any man ever attain
them, unless after long and great practice in writing, how-
ever resolutely he may have exercised himself in extem-
porary speeches; and he who comes to speak after practice
in writing brings this advantage with him, that though he
speak at the call of the moment, yet what he says will bear
a resemblance to something written ; and if ever, when he
comes to speak, he brings anything with him in writing, the
rest of his speech, when he departs from what is written, will
flow on in a similar strain. As, when a boat has once been
impelled forward, though the rowers suspend their efforts,
the vessel herself still keeps her motion and course during
the intermission of the impulse and force of the oars ; so,
in a continued stream of oratory, when written matter fails,
the rest of the speech maintains a similar flow, being im-
pelled by the resemblance and force acquired from what was
written.

XXXIV. " But in my daily exercises I used, when a
youth, to adopt chiefly that method which I knew that Caius
Carbo, my adversary, generally practiced ; which was, that,
having selected some nervous piece of poetry, or read over
such a portion of a speech as I could retain in my memory,
I used to declaim upon what I had been reading in other



SELECTION FROM'"DE ORATORE" 95

words, chosen with all the judgment that I possessed. But
at length I perceived that in that method there was this in-
convenience, that Ennius, if I exercised myself on his verses,
or Gracchus, if I laid one of his orations before me, had fore-
stalled such words as were peculiarly appropriate to the
subject, and such as were the most elegant and altogether
the best ; so that, if I used the same words, it profited noth-
ing; if others, it was even prejudicial to me, as I habituated
myself to use such as were less eligible. Afterwards I
thought proper, and continued the practice at a rather more
advanced age, to translate the orations of the best Greek
orators ; by fixing upon which I gained this advantage, that
while I rendered into Latin what I had read in Greek, I not
only used the best words, and yet such as were of common
occurrence, but also formed some words by imitation, which
would be new to our countrymen, taking care, however, that
they were unobjectionable.

" As to the exertion and exercise of the voice, of the
breath, of the whole body, and of the tongue itself, they do
not so much require art as labor; but in those matters we
ought to be particularly careful whom we imitate and whom
we would wish to resemble. Not -only orators are to be ob-
served by us, but even actors, lest by vicious habits we con-
tract any awkwardness or ungracefulness. The memory is
also to be exercised, by learning accurately by heart as many
of our own writings, and those of others, as we can. In ex-
ercising the memory, too, I shall not object if you accustom
yourself to adopt that plan of referring to places and figures
which is taught in treatises on the art. Your language must
then be brought forth from this domestic and retired exer-
cise, into the midst of the field, into the dust and clamor,
into the camp and military array of the forum ; you must
acquire practice in everything; you must try the strength
of your understanding; and your retired lucubrations must



96 CICERO

be exposed to the light of reality. The poets must also be
studied ; an acquaintance must be formed with history ; the
writers and teachers in all the liberal arts and sciences must
be read, and turned over, and must, for the sake of exercise,
be praised, interpreted, corrected, censured, refuted; you
must dispute on both sides of every question ; and whatever
may seem maintainable on any point must be brought for-
ward and illustrated. The civil war must be thoroughly
studied ; laws in general must be understood ; all antiquity
must be known ; the usages of the senate, the nature of our
government, the rights of our allies, our treaties and conven-
tions, and whatever concerns the interests of the state, must
be learned. A certain intellectual grace must also be ex-
tracted from every kind of refinement, with which, as with
salt, every oration must be seasoned. I have poured forth
to you all I had to say, and perhaps any citizen whom you
had laid hold of in any company whatever, would have re-
plied to your inquiries on these subjects equally well."



V. SENECA.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca was born at Corduba, Spain, in the
year 3 B. C. His father, who was a teacher of rhetoric,
spent some years in Rome, where he acquired an ample
property for his family. The young Seneca, after pursuing
the study of eloquence, devoted himself to the Stoic philos-
ophy under several able teachers, but subsequently, upon
the urgent solicitation of his father, took up the legal pro-
fession, in which he became distinguished for his oratorical
ability.

He entered public life as quaestor ; but having become in-
volved in some court intrigue, he was banished to Corsica.
He remained there eight years, a period devoted to high phil-
osophic speculation, and to fruitless appeals to the Emperor
Claudius for pardon. At last he was recalled through the in-
fluence of Agrippina, whose son, afterwards the infamous



Online LibraryF. V. N. (Franklin Verzelius Newton) PainterGreat pedagogical essays; Plato to Spencer → online text (page 7 of 33)