LIX. But praise and blame must be derived from those topics which can be employed with respect to persons, and which we have already discussed. But if any one wishes to consider them in a more separate manner, he may divide them into the intention, and the person of the doer, and extraneous circumstances. The virtue of the mind is that concerning the parts of which we have lately spoken; the virtues of the body are health, dignity, strength, swiftness. Extraneous circumstances are honour, money, relationship, family, friends, country, power, and other things which are understood to be of a similar kind. And in all these, that which is of universal validity ought to prevail here; and the opposites will be easily understood as to their description and character.
But in praising and blaming, it will be desirable to consider not so much the personal character of, or the extraneous circumstances affecting the person of whom one is speaking, as how he has availed himself of his advantages. For to praise his good fortune is folly, and to blame it is arrogance; but the praise of a man’s natural disposition is honourable, and the blame of it is a serious thing.
Now, since the principles of argumentation in every kind of cause have been set forth, it appears that enough has been said about invention, which is the first and most important part of rhetoric. Wherefore, since one portion of my work has been brought down to its end from the former book; and since this book has already run to a great length, what remains shall be discussed in subsequent books.
[The two remaining books are lost.]
This work was composed by Cicero soon after the battle of Pharsalia, and it was intended by him to contain the plan of what he himself considered to be the most perfect style of eloquence. In his Epistles to his Friends (vi. 18.) he tells Lepta that he firmly believed that he had condensed all his knowledge of the art of oratory in what he had set forth in this book.