[Cicero], Rhetorica ad Herennium

LCL 403: 2-3

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[M. Tulli Ciceronis]

Ad C. Herennium

(De Ratione Dicendi)

Liber Primus

1I. Etsi negotiis familiaribus inpediti vix satis otium studio suppeditare possumus, et id ipsum quod datur otii libentius in philosophia consumere consuevimus, tamen tua nos, Gai Herenni, voluntas commovit ut de ratione dicendi conscriberemus, ne aut tua causa noluisse aut fugisse nos laborem putares. Et eo studiosius hoc negotium suscepimus, quod te non sine causa velle cognoscere rhetoricam intellegebamus; non enim in se parum fructus habet copia dicendi et commoditas orationis, si recta intellegentia et definita animi moderatione gubernetur.

Quas ob res illa quae Graeci scriptores inanis adrogantiae causa sibi adsumpserunt reliquimus. Nam illi, ne parum multa scisse viderentur, ea conquisierunt quae nihil adtinebant, ut ars difficilior cognitu putaretur; nos autem ea quae videbantur ad


Ad Herennium, I

[Marcus Tullius Cicero]

To Gaius Herennius

(On the Theory of Public Speaking)

Book I

1I. My private affairs keep me so busy that I can hardly find enough leisure to devote to study, and the little that is vouchsafed to me I have usually preferred to spend on philosophy. Yet your desire, Gaius Herennius, has spurred me to compose a work on the Theory of Public Speaking, lest you should suppose that in a matter which concerns you I either lacked the will or shirked the labour. And I have undertaken this project the more gladly because I knew that you had good grounds in wishing to learn rhetoric, for it is true that copiousness and facility in expression bear abundant fruit, if controlled by proper knowledge and a strict discipline of the mind.

That is why I have omitted to treat those topics which, for the sake of futile self-assertion, Greek writersa have adopted. For they, from fear of appearing to know too little, have gone in quest of notions irrelevant to the art, in order that the art might seem more difficult to understand. I, on the other hand, have treated those topics which seemed

  • aThe beginning of Book 4 further sets forth the author’s attitude to the Greek writers on rhetoric (who these are specifically is uncertain); cf. also 3. xxiii. 38. For his attitude to philosophical studies see the end of Book 4.
DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.marcus_tullius_cicero-rhetorica_ad_herennium.1954