Fronto, Marcus Cornelius, Correspondence

LCL 112: 4-5

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M. Cornelius Fronto

indicet verborum ignarum esse, eaque male probare et temere existimare et inscie contrectare, neque modum neque pondus verbi internosse.

2. Quam ob rem rari admodum veterum scriptorum in eum laborem studiumque et periculum verba in-dustriosius quaerendi sese commisere. Oratorum post homines natos unus omnium M. Porcius eiusque frequens sectator C. Sallustius; poetarum maxime Plautus, multo maxime Q. Ennius, eumque studiose aemulatus L. Coelius, nec non Naevius, Lucretius, Accius etiam, Caecilius, Laberius quoque. Nam praeter hos partim scriptorum animadvertas particulatim Vat. 146elegantes, Novium et Pom ponium et id genus in verbis rusticanis et iocularibus ac ridiculariis, Attam in muliebribus, Sisennam in lascivis,1 Lucilium in cuiusque artis ac negotii propriis.

3. Hic tu fortasse iamdudum requiras quo in numero locem M. Tullium, qui caput atque fons Romanae eloquentiae cluet. Eum ego arbitror us-quequaque verbis pulcherrimis elocutum et ante omnes alios oratores ad ea, quae ostentare vellet, ornanda magnificum fuisse. Verum is mihi videtur a quaerendis scrupulosius verbis procul afuisse vel magnitudine animi vel fuga laboris vel fiducia, non quaerenti etiam sibi, quae vix aliis quaerentibus subvenirent, praesto adfutura. Itaque comperisse videor, ut qui eius scripta omnia studiosissime lectitarim, cetera eum genera verborum copiosissime uberrimeque

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Correspondence

words for long without himself betraying that he is ignorant of them, that his judgment of them is incorrect, his estimate of them haphazard, his handling of them unskilful, and that he can distinguish neither their propriety nor their force.

2. Wherefore few indeed of our old writers have surrendered themselves to that toil, pursuit, and hazard of seeking out words with especial diligence. M. Porcius alone of the orators of all time, and his constant imitator C. Sallustius, are among these; of poets Plautus especially, and most especially Q. Ennius and his zealous rival L. Coelius, not to omit Naevius and Lucretius, Accius too, and Caecilius, also Laberius. Besides these, certain other writers are noticeable for choiceness in special spheres, as Novius, Pomponius and their like in rustic and jocular and comic words, Atta in women’s talk, Sisenna in erotics, Lucilius in the technical language of each art and business.

3. At this point, perhaps, you will have long been asking in what category I should place M. Tullius, who is hight the head and source of Roman eloquence. I consider him on all occasions to have used the most beautiful words, and to have been magnificent above all other orators in embellishing the subject which he wished to display. But he seems to me to have been far from disposed to search out words with especial care, whether from greatness of mind, or to escape toil, or from the assurance that what others can scarcely find with careful search would be his at call without the need of searching. And so, from a most attentive perusal of all his writings, I think I have ascertained that he has with the utmost copiousness and opulence handled all

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.marcus_cornelius_fronto-correspondence.1919