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an etiam admirabilem esse cupiamus? Non enim iam quaerimus quid sit Attice, sed quid sit optime dicere. 13Ex quo intellegitur, quoniam Graecorum oratorum praestantissimi sint ei qui fuerint Athenis, eorum autem princeps facile Demosthenes, hunc si qui imitetur, eum et Attice dicturum et optime, ut,1 quoniam Attici nobis propositi sunt ad imitandum, bene dicere id sit Attice dicere.

V. Sed cum in eo magnus error esset, quale esset id dicendi genus, putavi mihi suscipiendum laborem utilem studiosis, mihi quidem ipsi non necessarium. 14Converti enim ex Atticis duorum eloquentissimorum nobilissimas orationes inter seque contrarias, Aeschinis et2 Demosthenis; nec converti ut interpres, sed ut orator, sententiis isdem et earum formis tamquam figuris, verbis ad nostram consuetudinem aptis. In quibus non verbum pro verbo necesse habui reddere, sed genus omne3 verborum vimque servavi. Non enim ea me adnumerare lectori putavi oportere, sed tamquam 15appendere. Hic labor meus hoc assequetur,4 ut nostri homines quid ab illis exigant, qui se Atticos volunt, et ad quam eos quasi formulam dicendi revocent intellegant.

“Sed exorietur5 Thucydides; eius enim quidam eloquentiam admirantur.”6 Id quidem recte; sed

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De Optimo Genere Oratorum

be merely tolerable, or to arouse admiration as well? For we are not inquiring what speaking in the Attic 13manner is, but what is the best manner. It can be inferred from this that since the most outstanding Greek orators were those who lived at Athens, and of these Demosthenes was easily the chief, one who imitates him will speak in the Attic manner and in the best manner, so that, since they set up Attic orators as models for our imitation, speaking in the Attic fashion means speaking well.

V. But since there was a complete misapprehension as to the nature of their style of oratory, I thought it my duty to undertake a task which will be useful to students, though not necessary for myself. 14That is to say I translated the most famous orations of the two most eloquent Attic orators, Aeschines and Demosthenes, orations which they delivered against each other.a And I did not translate them as an interpreter, but as an orator, keeping the same ideas and the forms, or as one might say, the “figures” of thought, but in language which conforms to our usage. And in so doing, I did not hold it necessary to render word for word, but I preserved the general style and force of the language. For I did not think I ought to count them out to the reader like coins, but to pay them by weight, as it were. 15The result of my labour will be that our Romans will know what to demand from those who claim to be Atticists and to what rule of speech, as it were, they are to be held.

“But Thucydidesb will rise up against you; for some admire his eloquence.” Right they are; but

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.marcus_tullius_cicero-de_optimo_genere_oratorum.1949