T 1 Cic. Brut. 279–84
[Cicero:] “quamquam facienda mentio est, ut quidem mihi videtur, duorum adulescentium, qui si diutius vixissent magnam essent eloquentiae laudem consecuti.”  “C. Curionem te,” inquit Brutus, “et C. Licinium Calvum arbitror dicere.” “... sed ad Calvum—is enim nobis erat propositus—revertamur; qui orator fuit1 cum litteris eruditior quam Curio tum etiam accuratius quoddam dicendi et exquisitius adferebat genus; quod quamquam scienter eleganterque tractabat, nimium tamen inquirens in se atque ipse sese observans metuensque ne vitiosum colligeret, etiam verum sanguinem deperdebat. itaque eius oratio nimia religione attenuata doctis et attente audientibus erat inlustris, <a>2 multitudine autem et a foro, cui nata eloquentia est, devorabatur.”  tum Brutus: “Atticum se,” inquit, “Calvus noster dici oratorem volebat; inde erat ista exilitas quam ille de industria consequebatur.”
T 2 Cic. Fam. 15.21.4 [ad Trebonium]
nunc ad epistulam venio; cui copiose et suaviter scriptae nihil est quod multa respondeam. primum enim ego illas Calvo litteras misi non plus quam has quas nunc legis existimans exituras; aliter enim scribimus quod eos solos quibus mittimus, aliter quod multos lecturos putamus. deinde
- 1fuit Corradus: fuisset codd.: fuisset† Friedrich: cum fuisset Schütz: cum esset Piderit
- 2add. edd.
T 1 Cicero, Brutus
[Cicero:] “Yet mention ought to be made, as it seems to me at least, of two young men who, had they lived longer, would have obtained great renown for eloquence.”  “You are referring to C. Curio [C. Scribonius Curio (170)] and C. Licinius Calvus, I guess,” said Brutus. “...[170 T1] ...  But let us return to Calvus—for he had been proposed by us—he was an orator more trained in scholarship than Curio, and in particular he presented a style of speaking more carefully elaborated and more recherché. Although he handled it in a knowledgeable and elegant fashion, yet examining and observing himself too much and fearing lest he might include anything faulty, he alsolost true vitality. Therefore, his language, attenuated through too much scrupulousness, was great for the learned and for careful listeners, but <by> the multitude and by the Forum, for which eloquence is born, it was merely swallowed.”  Here Brutus said: “Our friend Calvus wished to be called an Attic orator; that was the reason for that meagerness of style, which he cultivated deliberately.”
T 2 Cicero, Letters to Friends [to Trebonius]
I come now to your letter, to which, eloquently and charmingly written, there is no need for me to say a lot in reply. For, first, I sent that letter to Calvus, not thinking that it would get into circulation any more than the one you are reading at this moment.1 For we write in one way what we believe only the addressees will read, in another way what many will read. Secondly, I praised his talent more generously
- 1Trebonius had apparently obtained a letter sent from Cicero to Calvus in the past and criticized its contents. Calvus was probably already dead (cf. T 1) by the time of this epistolary exchange.