ad animum metu liberandum: nam qui id, quod vitari non potest, metuit, is vivere animo quieto nullo modo potest; sed qui, non modo quia necesse est mori, verum etiam quia nihil habet mors quod sit horrendum, mortem non timet, magnum is sibi 3praesidium ad beatam vitam comparavit. Quamquam non sumus ignari multos studiose contra esse dicturos, quod vitare nullo modo potuimus, nisi nihil omnino scriberemus. Etenim si orationes, quas nos multitudinis iudicio probari volebamus—popularis est enim illa facultas et effectus eloquentiae est audientium approbatio—, sed si reperiebantur non nulli qui nihil laudarent nisi quod se imitari posse confiderent, quemque sperandi sibi, eundem bene dicendi finem proponerent, et, cum obruerentur copia sententiarum atque verborum, ieiunitatem et famem se malle quam ubertatem et copiam dicerent, unde erat exortum genus Atticorum iis ipsis, qui id sequi se profitebantur, ignotum, qui iam conticuerunt paene ab ipso foro irrisi: quid futurum putamus, cum adiutore populo, quo utebamur antea, nunc 4minime nos uti posse videamus? Est enim philosophia paucis contenta iudicibus, multitudinem consulto ipsa fugiens eique ipsi et suspecta et invisa, ut
slight value in setting the soul free from fear, for the man who is afraid of the inevitable can by no manner of means live with a soul at peace; but the man who is without fear of death, not simply because it is unavoidable but also because it has no terrors for him, has secured a valuable aid towards rendering life happy. And yet I am well assured that many will argue eagerly against my view, but this it was by no means in my power to avoid except by writing nothing at all. For as regards the speeches in which I sought for the approval of the multitude (for oratory is a popular art and the true aim of eloquence is to win the approval of the hearers 1)—still if a certain number of critics were found to refuse praise to anything unless they thought they could successfully imitate it, and to regard the limits of their own individual powers as the highest flight of eloquence; and, when they found themselves overwhelmed with a flood of thoughts and words, to claim that they preferred their own poverty-stricken barrenness to rich luxuriance (this being the origin of the “Attic style,” 2 about which the very gentlemen who professed to copy it knew nothing and have now become dumb and almost jeered out of the courts)—what prospect for us do we think there is when it is clear we have at present no opportunity at all of relying upon the populace on whose support we previously relied? 3 For philosophy is content with few judges, and of set purpose on her side avoids the multitude and is in her turn an object of suspicion and dislike to them, with the result that if anyone should be disposed to
- 1In the Brutus Cicero says that the consummate orator must make the people think he is one.
- 2The ancients recognized three styles of oratory, Asiatic, Attic and Rhodian. The Asiatic was rich and redundant; the Attic simple and concise; the Rhodian held a middle position between the two others. The Roman imitators of the Attic style, according to Cicero, in avoiding ornament and redundancy succeeded only in being dry and poverty-stricken.
- 3Cicero says that the speeches he delivered in former days were criticised by would-be Atticists for being turgid, but they were popular. What is to happen to him in his new venture, when he can no longer count on popular support?