A Dialogue Concerning Oratory, Or The Causes Of Corrupt Eloquence eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 247 pages of information about A Dialogue Concerning Oratory, Or The Causes Of Corrupt Eloquence.
added.  The thread of the discourse will be unbroken, and the reader, it is hoped, will prefer a regular continuity to a mere vacant space.  The inverted comma in the margin of the text [transcriber’s note:  not used, but numbered with decimal rather than Roman numerals] will mark the supplemental part, as far as section 36, where the original proceeds to the end of the Dialogue.  The sections of the Supplement will be marked, for the sake of distinction, with figures, instead of the Roman numeral letters.


Section 1.

[a] Petronius says, you may as well expect that the person, who is for ever shut up in a kitchen, should be sweet and fresh, as that young men, trained up in such absurd and ridiculous interludes, should improve their taste or judgement. Qui inter haec nutriuntur, non magis sapere possunt, quam bene olere, qui in culina habitant. Petronius, in Satyrico, s. 2.

Section 2.

[a] The means by which an orator is nourished, formed, and raised to eminence, are here enumerated.  These are the requisites, that lead to that distinguished eloquence, which is finely described by Petronius, when he says, a sublime oration, but sublime within due bounds, is neither deformed with affectation, nor turgid in any part, but, depending on truth and simplicity, rises to unaffected grandeur. Grandis, et, ut ita dicam, pudica oratio, non est maculosa, nec turgida, sed naturali pulchritudine exsurgit. Petronius, in Satyrico, s. 2.

Section 3.

[a] Maternus engaged for himself and Secundus, that they would communicate their sentiments:  see s. 16.  In consequence of that promise, Messala now calls upon them both.  They have already declared themselves admirers of ancient eloquence.  It now remains to be known, whether they agree with Messala as to the cause that occasioned a rapid decline:  or whether they can produce new reasons of their own.

Section 4.

[a] Secundus proceeds to give his opinion.  This is managed by Brotier with great art and judgement, since it is evident in the original text that Maternus closed the debate.  According to what is said in the introduction to the Dialogue, Secundus agrees with Messala upon most points, but still assigns different, but probable reasons.  A revolution, he says, happened in literature; a new taste prevailed, and the worst models were deemed worthy of imitation.  The emotions of the heart were suppressed.  Men could no longer yield to the impulse of genius.  They endeavoured to embellish their composition with novelty; they sparkled with wit, and amused their readers with point, antithesis, and forced conceits.  They fell into the case of the man, who, according to Martial, was ingenious, but not eloquent: 

Cum sexaginta numeret Casselius annos;
Ingeniosus homo est:  quando disertus erit? 
Lib. vii. epig. 8.

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A Dialogue Concerning Oratory, Or The Causes Of Corrupt Eloquence from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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