From Peithô's Web

C.D. Yonge translation

Index       Previous Previous sectionNext Section Next

With atin inks to The atin ibrary

Book I chapters 8-23

VIII. Every subject which contains in itself any controversy existing either in language or in disputation, contains a question either about a fact, or about a name, or about a class, or about an action. Therefore, that investigation out of which a cause arises we call a stating of a case. A stating of a case is the first conflict of causes arising from a repulse of an accusation; in this way. "You did so and so;"--"I did not do so;" --or, "it was lawful for me to do so." When there is a dispute as to the fact, since the cause is confirmed by conjectures, it is called a conjectural statement. But when it is a dispute as to a name, because the force of a name is to be defined by words, it is then styled a definitive statement. But when the thing which is sought to be ascertained is what is the character of the matter under consideration, because it is a dispute about violence, and about the character of the affair; it is called a general statement. But when the cause depends on this circumstance, either that that man does not seem to plead who ought to plead, or that he does not plead with that man with whom he ought to plead, or that he does not plead before the proper people, at the proper time, in accordance with the proper law, urging the proper charge, and demanding the infliction of the proper penalty, then it is called a statement by way of demurrer; because the arguing of the case appears to stand in need of a demurrer and also of some alteration. And some one or other of these sorts of statement must of necessity be incidental to every cause. For if there be any one to which it is not incidental, in that there can be no dispute at all; on which account it has no right even to be considered a cause at all.

And a dispute as to fact may be distributed over every sort of time. For as to what has been done, an inquiry can be instituted in this way--"whether Ulysses slew Ajax;" and as to what is being done, in this way--"whether the people of Tregellae are well affected towards the Roman people; "and as to what is going to happen, in this way--" if we leave Carthage uninjured, whether any inconvenience will accrue to the republic."

It is a dispute about a name, when parties are agreed as to the fact, and when the question is by what name that which has been done is to be designated. In which class of dispute it is inevitable on that account that there should be a dispute as to the name; not because the parties are not agreed about the fact, not because the fact is not notorious, but because that which has been done appears in a different light to different people, and on that account one calls it by one name and another by another. Wherefore, in disputes of this kind the matter must be defined by words, and described briefly; as, for instance, if any one has stolen any sacred vessel from a private place, whether he is to be considered a sacrilegious person, or a simple thief. For when that is inquired into, it is necessary to define both points--what is a thief, and what is a sacrilegious person,--and to show by one's own description that the matter which is under discussion ought to be called by a different name from that which the opposite party apply to it.

IX. The dispute about kind is, when it is agreed both what has been done, and when there is no question as to the name by which it ought to be designated; and nevertheless there is a question of what importance the matter is, and of what sort it is, and altogether of what character it is; in this way,--whether it be just or unjust; whether it be useful or useless; and as to all other circumstances with reference to which there is any question what is the character of that which has been done, without there being any dispute as to its name. Hermagoras assigned four divisions to this sort of dispute: the deliberative, the demonstrative, the judicial, and the one relating to facts. And, as it seems to us, this was no ordinary blunder of his, and one which it is incumbent on us to reprove; though we may do so briefly, lest, if we were to pass it over in silence, we might be thought to have had no good reason for abandoning his guidance; or if we were to dwell too long on this point, we might appear to have interposed a delay and an obstacle to the other precepts which we wish to lay down.

If deliberation and demonstration are kinds of causes, then the divisions of any one kind cannot rightly be considered causes; for the same matter may appear to be a class to one person, and a division to another; but it cannot appear both a class and a division to the same person. But deliberation and demonstration are kinds of argument; for either there is no kind of argument at all, or there is the judicial kind alone, or there are all three kinds, the judicial and the demonstrative and the deliberative. Now, to say there is no kind of argument at the same time that he says that there are many arguments, and is giving precepts for them, is foolishness. How, too, is it possible that there should be one kind only, namely the judicial, when deliberation and demonstration in the first place do not resemble one another, and are exceedingly different from the judicial kind, and have each their separate object to which they ought to be referred. It follows, then, that there are three kinds of arguments. Deliberation and demonstration cannot properly be considered divisions of any kind of argument. He was wrong, therefore, when he said that they were divisions of a general statement of the case.

X. But if they cannot properly be considered divisions of a kind of argument, much less can they properly be considered divisions of a division of an argument. But all statement of the case is a division of an argument. For the argument is not adapted to the statement of the case, but the statement of the case is adapted to the argument. But demonstration and deliberation cannot be properly considered divisions of a kind of argument, because they are separate kinds of arguments themselves. Much less can they properly be considered divisions of that division, as he calls them. In the next place, if the statement of the case, both itself as a whole, and also any portion of that statement, is a repelling of an accusation, then that which is not a repelling of an accusation is neither a statement of a case, nor a portion of a statement of a case; but if that which is not a repelling of an attack is not a statement of a case, nor a portion of a statement of a case, then deliberation and demonstration are neither a statement of a case, nor a portion of a statement of a case. If, therefore, a statement of a case, whether it be the whole statement or some portion of it, be a repelling of an accusation, then deliberation and demonstration are neither a statement of a case, nor any portion of such statement. But he himself asserts that it is a repelling of an accusation. He must therefore assert also that demonstration and deliberation are neither a statement of a case, nor a portion of such a statement. And he will be pressed by the same argument whether he calls the statement of a case the original assertion of his cause by the accuser, or the first speech in answer to such accusation by the advocate of the defence. For all the same difficulties will attend him in either case.

In the next place a conjectural argument cannot, as to the same portion of it, be at the same time both a conjectural one and a definitive one. Again, a definitive argument cannot, as to the same portion of it, be at the same time both a definitive argument and one in the form and character of a demurrer. And altogether, no statement of a case, and no portion of such a statement, can at one and the same time both have its own proper force and also contain the force of another kind of argument. Because each kind of argument is considered simply by its own merits, and according to its own nature; and if any other kind be united with it, then it is the number of statements of a case that is doubled, and not the power of the statement that is increased.

But a deliberative argument, both as to the same portion of it and also at the same time, very frequently has a statement of its case both conjectural, and general, and definitive and in the nature of a demurrer; and at times it contains only one statement, and at times it contains many such. Therefore it is not itself a statement of the case, nor a division of such statement: and the same thing must be the case with respect to demonstration. These, then, as I have said before, must be considered kinds of argument, and not divisions of any statement of the subject.

XI. This statement of the case then, which we call the general one, appears to us to have two divisions,--one judicial and one relating to matters of fact. The judicial one is that in which the nature of right and wrong, or the principles of reward and punishment, are inquired into. The one relating to matters of fact is that in which the thing taken into consideration is what is the law according to civil precedent, and according to equity; and that is the department in which lawyers are considered by us to be especially concerned.

And the judicial kind is itself also distributed under two divisions,--one absolute, and one which takes in something besides as an addition, and which may be called assumptive. The absolute division is that which of itself contains in itself an inquiry into right and wrong. The assumptive one is that which of itself supplies no firm ground for objection, but which takes to itself some topics for defence derived from extraneous circumstances. And its divisions are four, --concession, removal of the accusation from oneself, a retorting of the accusation, and comparison. Concession when the person on his trial does not defend the deed that has been done, but entreats to be pardoned for it: and this again is divided into two parts,--purgation and deprecation. Purgation is when the fact is admitted, but when the guilt of the fact is sought to be done away. And this may be on three grounds,--of ignorance, of accident, or of necessity. Deprecation is when the person on his trial confesses that he has done wrong, and that he has done wrong on purpose, and nevertheless entreats to be pardoned. But this kind of address can be used but very rarely.

Removal of the accusation from oneself is when the person on his trial endeavours by force of argument and by influence to remove the charge which is brought against him from himself to another, so that it may not fix him himself with any guilt at all. And that can be done in two ways,--if either the cause of the deed, or the deed itself, is attributed to another. The cause is attributed to another when it is said that the deed was done in consequence of the power and influence of another; but the deed itself is attributed to another when it is said that another either might have done it, or ought to have done it. The retorting of an accusation takes place when what is done is said to have been lawfully done because another had previously provoked the doer wrongfully. Comparison is, when it is argued that some other action has been a right or an advantageous one, and then it is contended that this deed which is now impeached was committed in order to facilitate the accomplishment of that useful action.

In the fourth kind of statement of a case, which we call the one which assumes the character of a demurrer, that sort of statement contains a dispute, in which an inquiry is opened who ought to be the accuser or pleader, or against whom, or in what manner, or before whom, or under what law, or at what time the accusation ought to be brought forward; or when something is urged generally tending to alter the nature of, or to invalidate the whole accusation. Of this kind of statement of a case Hermagoras is considered the inventor: not that many of the ancient orators have not frequently employed it, but because former writers on the subject have not taken any notice of it, and have not entered it among the number of statements of cases. But since it has been thus invented by Hermagoras, many people have found fault with it, whom we considered not so much to be deceived by ignorance (for indeed the matter is plain enough) as to be hindered from admitting the truth by some envy or fondness for detaction.

XII. We have now then mentioned the different kinds of statements of cases, and their several divisions. But we think that we shall be able more conveniently to give instances of each kind, when we are furnishing a store of arguments for each kind. For so the system of arguing will be more clear, when it can be at once applied both to the general classification and to the particular instance.

When the statement of the case is once ascertained, then it is proper at once to consider whether the argument be a simple or a complex one; and if it be a complex one, whether it is made up of many subjects of inquiry, or of some comparison. That is a simple statement which contains in itself one plain question, in this way:--"Shall we declare war against the Corinthians, or not?" That is a complex statement consisting of several questions in which many inquiries are made, in this way:--"Whether Carthage shall be destroyed, or whether it shall be restored to the Carthaginians, or whether a colony shall be led thither." Comparison is a statement in which inquiry is raised in the way of contest, which course is more preferable, or which is the most preferable course of all, in this way:--"Whether we had better send an army into Macedonia against Philip, to serve as an assistance to our allies; or whether we had better retain it in Italy, in order that we may have as numerous forces as possible to oppose to Hannibal." In the next place, we must consider whether the dispute turns on general reasoning, or on written documents; for a controversy with respect to written documents, is one which arises out of the nature of the writing.

XIII. And of that there are five kinds which have been separated from statements of cases. For when the language of the writing appears to be at variance with the intention of the writer, then two laws or more seem to differ from one another, and then, too, that which has been written appears to signify two things or more. Then also, from that which is written, something else appears to be discovered also, which is not written; and also the effect of the expressions used is inquired into, as if it were in the definitive statement of the case, in which it has been placed. Wherefore, the first kind is that concerning the written document and the intention of it; the second arises from the laws which are contrary to one another; the third is ambiguous; the fourth is argumentative; the fifth we call definitive.

But reason applies when the whole of the inquiry does not turn on the writing, but on some arguing concerning the writing. But, then, when the kind of argument has been duly considered, and when the statement of the case has been fully understood; when you have become aware whether it is simple or complex, and when you have ascertained whether the question turns on the letter of the writing or on general reasoning; then it is necessary to see what is the question, what is the reasoning, what is the system of examining into the excuses alleged, what means there are of establishing one's own allegations; and all these topics must be derived from the original statement of the case. What I call "the question" is the dispute which arises from the conflict of the two statements in this way. "You have not done this lawfully;" "I have done it lawfully." And this is the conflict of arguments, and on this the statement of the case hinges. It arises, therefore, from that kind of dispute which we call "the question," in this way:--" Whether he did so and so lawfully." The reasoning is that which embraces the whole cause; and if that be taken away, then there is no dispute remaining behind in the cause. In this way, in order that for the sake of explaining myself more clearly, I may content myself with an easy and often quoted instance. If Orestes be accused of matricide, unless he says this, "I did it rightfully, for she had murdered my father," he has no defence at all. And if his defence be taken away, then all dispute is taken away also. The principle of his argument then is that she murdered Agamemnon. The examination of this defence is then a dispute which arises out of the attempts to invalidate or to establish this argument. For the argument itself may be considered sufficiently explained, since we dwelt upon it a little while ago. "For she," says he, "had murdered my father." "But," says the adversary, " for all that it was not right for your mother to be put to death by you who were her son; for her act might have been punished without your being guilty of wickedness."

XIV. From this mode of bringing forward evidence, arises that last kind of dispute which we call the judication, or examination of the excuses alleged. And that is of this kind: whether it was right that his mother should be put to death by Orestes, because she had put to death Orestes's father?

Now proof by testimony is the firmest sort of reasoning that can be used by an advocate in defence, and it is also the best adapted for the examination of any excuse which may be alleged. For instance, if Orestes were inclined to say that the disposition of his mother had been such towards his father, towards himself and his sisters, towards the kingdom, and towards the reputation of his race and family, that her children were of all people in the world the most bound to inflict punishment upon her. And in all other statements of cases, examinations of excuses alleged are found to be carried on in this manner. But in a conjectural statement of a case, because there is no express evidence, for the fact is not admitted at all, the examination of the defence put forward cannot arise from the bringing forward of evidence. Wherefore, it is inevitable that in this case the question and the judication must be the same thing. As "it was done," "it was not done." The question is whether it was done.

But it must invariably happen that there will be the same number of questions, and arguments, and examinations, and evidences employed in a cause, as there are statements of the case or divisions of such statements. When all these things are found in a cause, then at length each separate division of the whole cause must be considered. For it does not seem that those points are necessarily to be first noticed, which have been the first stated; because you must often deduce those arguments which are stated first, at least if you wish them to be exceedingly coherent with one another and to be consistent with the cause, from those arguments which are to be stated subsequently. Wherefore, when the examination of the excuses alleged, and all those arguments which require to be found out for the purpose of such examination have been diligently found out by the rules of art, and handled with due care and deliberation, then at length we may proceed to arrange the remaining portions of our speech. And these portions appear to us to be in all six; the exordium, the relation of the fact, the division of the different circumstances and topics, the bringing forward of evidence, the finding fault with the action which has been done, and the peroration.

At present, since the exordium ought to be the main thing of all, we too will first of all give some precepts to lead to a system of opening a case properly.

XV. An exordium is an address bringing the mind of the hearer into a suitable state to receive the rest of the speech; and that will be effected if it has rendered him well disposed towards the speaker, attentive, and willing to receive information. Wherefore, a man who is desirous to open a cause well, must of necessity be beforehand thoroughly acquainted with the nature and kind of cause which he has to conduct. Now the kinds of causes are five; one honourable, one astonishing, one low, one doubtful, one obscure. The kind of cause which is called honourable, is such an one as the disposition of the hearer favours at once, without waiting to hear our speech. The kind that is astonishing, is that from which the mind of those who are about to hear us has been alienated. The kind which is low, is one which is disregarded by the hearer, or which does not seem likely to be carefully attended to. The kind which is doubtful, is that in which either the examination into the excuses alleged is doubtful, or the cause itself, being partly honourable and partly discreditable; so as to produce partly good-will and partly disinclination. The kind which is obscure, is that in which either the hearers are slow, or in which the cause itself is entangled in a multitude of circumstances hard to be thoroughly acquainted with. Wherefore, since there are so many kinds of causes, it is necessary to open one's case on a very different system in each separate kind. Therefore, the exordium is divided into two portions, first of all a beginning, and secondly language calculated to enable the orator to work his way into the good graces of his hearers. The beginning is an address, in plain words, immediately rendering the hearer well disposed towards one, or inclined to receive information, or attentive The language calculated to enable the orator to work his way into the good graces of his hearers, is an address which employs a certain dissimulation, and which by a circuitous route as it were obscurely creeps into the affections of the hearer

In the kind of cause which we have called astonishing, if the hearers be not positively hostile, it will be allowable by the beginning of the speech to endeavour to secure their good-will. But if they be excessively alienated from one, then it will be necessary to have recourse to endeavours to insinuate oneself into their good graces. For if peace and good-will be openly sought for from those who are enemies to one, they not only are not obtained, but the hatred which they bear one is even inflamed and increased. But in the kind of cause which I have called low, for the sake of removing his contempt it will be indispensable to render the hearer attentive. The kind of cause which has been styled doubtful, if it embraces an examination into the excuses alleged, which is also doubtful, must derive its exordium from that very examination; but if it have some things in it of a creditable nature, and some of a discreditable character, then it will be expedient to try and secure the good-will of the hearer, so that the cause may change its appearance, and seem to be an honourable one. But when the kind of cause is the honourable kind, then the exordium may either be passed over altogether, or if it be convenient, we may begin either with a relation of the business in question, or with a statement of the law, or with any other argument which must be brought forward in the course of our speech, and on which we most greatly rely; or if we choose to employ an exordium, then we must avail ourselves of the good-will already existing towards us, in order that that which does exist may be strengthened.

XVI. In the kind of cause which I have called obscure, it will be advisable to render the hearers inclined to receive instruction by a carefully prepared exordium. Now, since it has been already explained what effect is to be sought to be produced by the exordium, it remains for us to show by what arguments all such effects may be produced.

Good-will is produced by dwelling on four topics:--on one derived from our own character, from that of our adversaries, from that of the judges, and from the cause itself. From our own character, if we manage so as to speak of our own actions and services without arrogance; if we refute the charges which have been brought against us, and any other suspicions in the least discreditable which it may be endeavoured to attach to us; if we dilate upon the inconveniences which have already befallen us, or the difficulties which are still impending over us; if we have recourse to prayers and to humble and suppliant entreaty. From the character of our adversaries, if we are able to bring them either into hatred, or into unpopularity, or into contempt. They will be brought into hatred, if any action of theirs can be adduced which has been lascivious, or arrogant, or cruel, or malignant. They will be made unpopular, if we can dilate upon their violent behaviour, their power, their riches, their numerous kinsmen, their wealth, and their arrogant and intolerable use of all these sources of influence; so that they may appear rather to trust to these circumstances than to the merits of their cause. They will be brought into contempt, if sloth, or negligence, or idleness, or indolent pursuits, or luxurious tranquillity can be alleged against them. Good-will will be procured, derived from the character of the hearers themselves, if exploits are mentioned which have been performed by them with bravery, or wisdom, or humanity; so that no excessive flattery shall appear to be addressed to them; and if it is plainly shown how high and honourable their reputation is, and how anxious is the expectation with which men look for their decision and authority. Or from the circumstances themselves, if we extol our own cause with praises, and disparage that of the opposite party by contemptuous allusions.

But we shall make our hearers attentive, if we show that the things which we are going to say and to speak of are important, and unusual, and incredible; and that they concern either all men, or those who are our present hearers, or some illustrious men, or the immortal gods, or the general interests of the republic. And if we promise that we will in a very short time prove our own cause; and if we explain the whole of the examination into the excuses alleged, or the different examinations, if there be more than one.

We shall render our hearers willing to receive information, if we explain the sum total of the cause with plainness and brevity, that is to say, the point on which the dispute hinges. For when you wish to make a hearer inclined to receive information you must also render him attentive. For he is above all men willing to receive information who is prepared to listen with the greatest attention.

XVII. The next thing which it seems requisite to speak of, is, how topics intended to enable the orator to work his way into the good graces of his hearers ought to be handled. We must then use such a sort of address as that when the kind of cause which we are conducting is that which I have called astonishing; that is to say, as I have stated before, when the disposition of the hearer is adverse to one. And that generally arises from one of three causes: either if there be any thing discreditable in the cause itself, or if any such belief appears to have been already instilled into the hearer by those who have spoken previously; or if one is appointed to speak at a time when those who have got to listen to one are wearied with hearing others. For sometimes when one is speaking, the mind of the hearer is alienated from one no less by this circumstance than by the two former.

If the discreditable nature of one's cause excites the ill-will of one's hearers, or if it be desirable to substitute for the man on whom they look unfavourably another man to whom they are attached; or, for the matter they regard with dislike, another matter of which they approve; or if it be desirable to substitute a person for a thing, or a thing for a person, in order that the mind of the hearer may be led away from that which he hates to that which he loves; and if your object is to conceal from view the fact that you are about to defend that person or action which you are supposed to be going to defend; and then, when the hearer has been rendered more propitious, to enter gradually on the defence, and to say that those things at which the opposite party is indignant appear scandalous to you also; and then, when you have propitiated him who is to listen to you, to show that none of all those things at all concern you, and to deny that you are going to say anything whatever respecting the opposite party whether it be good or bad; so as not openly to attack those men who are loved by your hearers, and yet doing it secretly as far as you can to alienate from them the favourable disposition of your hearers; and at the same time to mention the judgment of some other judges in a similar case, or to quote the authority of some others as worthy of imitation; and then to show that it is the very same point, or one very like it, or one of greater or less importance, (as the case may make it expedient,) which is in question at present.

If the speech of your adversaries appears to have made an impression on your hearers, which is a thing which will be very easily ascertained by a man who understands what are the topics by which an impression is made; then it is requisite to promise that you will speak first of all on that point which the opposite party consider their especial stronghold, or else to begin with a reference to what has been said by the adversary, and especially to what he said last; or else to appear to doubt, and to feel some perplexity and astonishment as to what you had best say first, or what argument it is desirable to reply to first--for when a hearer sees the man whom the opposite party believe to be thrown into perplexity by their speech prepared with unshaken firmness to reply to it, he is generally apt to think that he has assented to what has been said without sufficient consideration, rather than that the present speaker is confident without due grounds. But if fatigue has alienated the mind of the hearer from your cause, then it is advantageous to promise to speak more briefly than you had been prepared to speak; and that you will not imitate your adversary.

If the case admit of it, it is not disadvantageous to begin with some new topic, or with some one which may excite laughter; or with some argument which has arisen from the present moment; of which kind are any sudden noise or exclamation; or with something which you have already prepared, which may embrace some apologue, or fable, or other laughable circumstance. Or, if the dignity of the subject shall seem inconsistent with jesting, in that case it is not disadvantageous to throw in something sad, or novel, or terrible. For as satiety of food and disgust is either relieved by some rather bitter taste, or is at times appeased by a sweet taste; so a mind weary with listening is either reinstated in its strength by astonishment, or else is refreshed by laughter

XVIII. And these are pretty nearly the main things which it appeared desirable to say separately concerning the exordium of a speech, and the topics which an orator should use for the purpose of insinuating himself into the good grace of his hearers. And now it seems desirable to lay down some brief rules which may apply to both in common.

An exordium ought to have a great deal of sententiousness and gravity in it, and altogether to embrace all things which have a reference to dignity; because that is the most desirable effect to be produced which in the greatest degree recommends the speaker to his hearer. It should contain very little brilliancy, or wit, or elegance of expression, because from these qualities there always arises a suspicion of preparation and artificial diligence: and that is an idea which above all others takes away credit from a speech, and authority from a speaker.

But the following are the most ordinary faults to be found in an exordium, and those it is above all things desirable to avoid. It must not be vulgar, common, easily changed, long, unconnected, borrowed, nor must it violate received rules. What I mean by vulgar, is one which may be so adapted to numerous causes as to appear to suit them all. That is common, which appears to be able to be adapted no less to one side of the argument than to the other. That is easily changed, which with a slight alteration may be advanced by the adversary on the other side of the question. That is long, which is spun out by a superfluity of words or sentences far beyond what is necessary. That is unconnected, which is not derived from the cause itself, and is not joined to the whole speech as a limb is to the body. That is borrowed, which effects some other end than that which the kind of cause under discussion requires; as if a man were to occupy himself in rendering his hearer inclined to receive information, when the cause requires him only to be well disposed towards the speaker: or, if a man uses a formal beginning of a speech, when what the subject requires is an address by which the speaker may insinuate himself into the good graces of his hearer. That is contrary to received rules, which effects no one of those objects for the sake of which the rules concerning exordiums have been handed down. This is the sort of blunder which renders him who hears it neither well disposed to one, nor inclined to receive information, nor attentive; or (and that indeed is the most disastrous effect of all) renders him of a totally contrary disposition. And now we have said enough about the exordium.

XIX. Narration is an explanation of acts that have been done, or of acts as if they have been done. There are three kinds of narration. One kind is that in which the cause itself and the whole principle of the dispute is contained. Another is that in which some digression, unconnected with the immediate argument, is interposed, either for the sake of criminating another, or of instituting a comparison, or of provoking some mirth not altogether unsuitable to the business under discussion, or else for the sake of amplification. The third kind is altogether foreign to civil causes, and is uttered or written for the sake of entertainment, combined with its giving practice, which is not altogether useless. Of this last there are two divisions, the one of which is chiefly conversant about things, and the other about persons. That which is concerned in the discussion and explanation of things has three parts, fable, history, and argument. Fable is that in which statements are expressed which are neither true not probable, as is this--

"Huge winged snakes, join'd by one common yoke."

History is an account of exploits which have been performed, removed from the recollection of our own age; of which sort is the statement, "Appius declared war against the Carthaginians." Argument is an imaginary case, which still might have happened. Such is this in Terence--

"For after Sosia became a man."

But that sort of narration which is conversant about persons, is of such a sort that in it not only the facts themselves, but also the conversations of the persons concerned and their very minds can be thoroughly seen, in this way--

"And oft he came to me with mournful voice,
What is your aim, your conduct what? Oh why
Do you this youth with these sad arts destroy?
Why does he fall in love? Why seeks he wine,
And why do you from time to time supply
The means for such excess? You study dress
And folly of all kinds; while he, if left
To his own natural bent, is stern and strict,
Almost beyond the claims of virtue."

In this kind of narration there ought to be a great deal of cheerfulness wrought up out of the variety of circumstances; out of the dissimilarity of dispositions; out of gravity, lenity, hope, fear, suspicion, regret, dissimulation, error, pity, the changes of fortune, unexpected disaster, sudden joy, and happy results. But these embellishments may be derived from the precepts which will hereafter be laid down about elocution.

At present it seems best to speak of that kind of narration which contains an explanation of the cause under discussion.

XX. It is desirable then that it should have three qualities; that it should be brief, open, and probable. It will be brief, if the beginning of it is derived from the quarter from which it ought to be; and if it is not endeavoured to be extracted from what has been last said, and if the speaker forbears to enumerate all the parts of a subject of which it is quite sufficient to state the total result;--for it is often sufficient to say what has been done, and there is no necessity for his relating how it was done;--and if the speaker does not in his narration go on at a greater length than there is any occasion for, as far as the mere imparting of knowledge is concerned; and if he does not make a digression to any other topic; and if he states his case in such a way, that sometimes that which has not been said may be understood from that which has been said; and if he passes over not only such topics as may be injurious, but those too which are neither injurious nor profitable; and if he repeats nothing more than once; and if he does not at once begin with that topic which was last mentioned;--and the imitation of brevity takes in many people, so that, when they think that they are being brief, they are exceedingly prolix, while they are taking pains to say many things with brevity, not absolutely to say but few things and no more than are necessary. For to many men a man appears to speak with brevity who says, "I went to the house; I called out the servant; he answered me; I asked for his master; he said that he was not at home." Here, although he could not have enumerated so many particulars more concisely, yet, because it would have been enough to say, "He said that he was not at home," he is prolix on account of the multitude of circumstances which he mentions. Wherefore, in this kind of narration also it is necessary to avoid the imitation of brevity, and we must no less carefully avoid a heap of unnecessary circumstances than a multitude of words.

But a narration will be able to be open, if those actions are explained first which have been done first, and if the order of transactions and times is preserved, so that the things are related as they have been done, or as it shall seem that they may have been done. And in framing this narration, it will be proper to take care that nothing be said in a confused or distorted manner; that no digression be made to any other subject; that the affair may not be traced too far back, nor carried too far forward; that nothing be passed over which is connected with the business in hand; and altogether the precepts which have been laid down about brevity, must be attended to in this particular also. For it often happens that the truth is but little understood, more by reason of the prolixity of the speaker, than of the obscurity of the statement. And it is desirable to use clear language, which is a point to be dwelt upon when we come to precepts for elocution.

XXI. A narration will be probable, if in it those characteristics are visible which are usually apparent in truth; if the dignity of the persons mentioned is preserved; if the causes of the actions performed are made plain; if it shall appear that there were facilities for performing them; if the time was suitable; if there was plenty of room; if the place is shown to have been suitable for the transaction which is the subject of the narration; if the whole business, in short, be adapted to the nature of those who plead, and to the reports bruited about among the common people, and to the preconceived opinions of those who hear. And if these principles be observed, the narration will appear like the truth.

But besides all this, it will be necessary to take care that such a narration be not introduced when it will he a hindrance, or when it will be of no advantage; and that it be not related in an unseasonable place, or in a manner which the cause does not require. It is a hindrance, when the very narration of what has been done comes at a time that the hearer has conceived great displeasure at something, which it will be expedient to mitigate by argument, and by pleading the whole cause carefully. And when this is the case, it will be desirable rather to scatter the different portions of the transactions limb by limb as it were over the cause, and, as promptly as may be, to adapt them to each separate argument, in order that there may be a remedy at hand for the wound, and that the defence advanced may at once mitigate the hatred which has arisen.

Again, a narration is of no advantage when, after our case has once been set forth by the opposite party, it is of no importance to relate it a second time or in another manner; or when the whole affair is so clearly comprehended by the hearers, as they believe at least that it can do us no good to give them information respecting it in another fashion. And when this is the case, it is best to abstain from any narration altogether. It is uttered in an unseasonable place, when it is not arranged in that part of the speech in which the case requires it; and concerning this kind of blunder we will speak when we come to mention the arrangement of the speech. For it is the general arrangement of the whole that this affects. It is not related in the manner which the cause requires, when either that point which is advantageous to the opposite party is explained in a clear and elegant manner, or when that which may be of benefit to the speaker is stated in an obscure or careless way. Wherefore, in order that this fault may be avoided, everything ought to be converted by the speaker to the advantage of his own cause, by passing over all things which make against it which can he passed over; by touching lightly on those points which are beneficial to the adversary, and by relating those which are advantageous to himself carefully and clearly. And now we seem to have said enough about narration. Let us now pass on in regular order to the arrangement of the different topics.

XXII. An arrangement of the subjects to be mentioned in an argument, when properly made, renders the whole oration clear and intelligible. There are two parts in such a division; each of which is especially connected with the opening of the cause, and with the arrangement of the whole discussion. One part is that which points out what are the particulars as to which one is in agreement with the opposite party, and also what remains in dispute; and from this there is a certain definite thing pointed out to the hearer, as that to which he should direct his attention. The other part is that in which the explanation of those matters on which we are about to speak, is briefly arranged and pointed out. And this causes the hearer to retain certain things in his mind, so as to understand that when they have been discussed the speech will be ended. At present it seems desirable to mention briefly how it is proper to use each kind of arrangement. And this arrangement points out what is suitable and what is not suitable; its duty is to turn that which is suitable to the advantage of its own side, in this way:--"I agree with the opposite party as to the fact, that a mother has been put to death by her son." Again, on the other side:--"We are both agreed that Agamemnon was slain by Clytaemnestra." For in saying this each speaker has laid down that proposition which was suitable, and nevertheless has consulted the advantage of his own side.

In the next place, what the matter in dispute is must be explained, when we come to mention the examination into the excuses which are alleged. And how that is managed has been already stated.

But the arrangement which embraces the properly distributed explanation of the facts, ought to have brevity, completeness, conciseness. Brevity is when no word is introduced which is not necessary. This is useful in this sort of speaking, because it is desirable to arrest the attention of the hearer by the facts themselves and the real divisions of the case, and not by words or extraneous embellishments of diction. Completeness is that quality by which we embrace every sort of argument which can have any connexion with the case concerning which we have got to speak; and in this division we must take care not to omit any useful topic, not to introduce any such too late, out of its natural place, for that is the most pernicious and discreditable error of all. Conciseness in arrangement is preserved if the general classes of facts are clearly laid down, and are not entangled in a promiscuous manner with the subordinate divisions. For a class is that which embraces many subordinate divisions, as, "an animal." A subordinate division is that which is contained in the class, as "a horse." But very often the same thing may be a class to one person, and a subordinate division to another. For "man" is a subordinate division of " animal," but a class as to "Theban," or "Trojan."

XXIII. And I have been more careful in laying down this definition, in order that after it has been clearly comprehended with reference to the general arrangement, a conciseness as to classes or genera may be preserved throughout the arrangement. For he who arranges his oration in this manner--"I will prove that by means of the covetousness and audacity and avarice of our adversaries, all sorts of evils have fallen on the republic," fails to perceive that in this arrangement of his, when he intended to mention only classes, he has joined also a mention of a subordinate division. For covetousness is the general class under which all desires are comprehended; and beyond all question avarice is a subordinate division of that class.

We must therefore avoid, after having mentioned a universal class, then, in the same arrangement, to mention along with it any one of its subordinate divisions, as if it were something different and dissimilar. And if there are many subordinate divisions to any particular class, after that has been simply explained in the first arrangement of the oration, it will be more easily and conveniently arranged when we come to the subsequent explanation in the general statement of the case after the division. And this, too, concerns the subject of conciseness, that we should not undertake to prove more things than there is any occasion for; in this way:-- "I will prove that the opposite party were able to do what we accuse them of; and had the inclination to do it; and did it." It is quite enough to prove that they did it. Or when there is no natural division at all in a cause, and when it is a simple question that is under discussion, though that is a thing which cannot be of frequent occurrence, still we must use careful arrangement. And these other precepts also, with respect to the division of subjects which have no such great connexion with the practice of orators; precepts which come into use in treatises in philosophy, from which we have transferred hither those which appeared to be suitable to our purpose, of which we found nothing in the other arts. And in all these precepts about the division of our subjects, it will throughout our whole speech be found that every portion of them must be discussed in the same order as that in which it has been originally stated; and then, when everything has been properly explained, let the whole be summed up, and summed up so that nothing be introduced subsequently besides the conclusion. The old man in the Andria of Terence arranges briefly and conveniently the subjects with which he wishes his freedman to become acquainted:--

"And thus the life and habits of my son,
And my designs respecting his career,
And what I wish your course towards both to be,
        Will be quite plain to you."

And accordingly, as he has proposed in his original arrangement, he proceeds to relate, first the life of his son--

"For when, O Sosia, he became a man,
He was allow'd more liberty."

Then comes his own design--

"And now I take great care."

After that, what he wishes Sosia to do; what he put last in his original arrangement he now mentions last--

"And now the part is yours." ...

As, therefore, in this instance, he came first to the portion which he had mentioned first, and so, when he had discussed them all, made an end of speaking, we too ought to advance to each separate portion of our subject, and when we had finished every part, to sum up. Now it appears desirable to proceed in regular order to lay down some precepts concerning the confirmation of our arguments, as the regular order of the subject requires.


Cicero, tr. C.D. Yonge

Index       Previous Previous sectionNext Section Next

Peithô's Web