ὥσπερ δὲ πελάγους ἀπείρου τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς μέτρον οὐκ ἔστι λαβεῖν, 369οὕτω καὶ βασιλέως εὐφημίαν λόγῳ περιλαβεῖν οὐ ῥᾴδιον. οὐ μόνον δὲ ἐπὶ τοῦ βασιλικοῦ τοῦτο εὕροις ἄν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐπὶ πάσης ἐπιδεικτικῆς ὑποθέσεως, καὶ μάλιστα ἐν τοῖς συντόνοις τῶν ἐπιδεικτικῶν. ὥσπερ οὖν τὸ κρεῖττον ὕμνοις καὶ ἀρεταῖς ἱλασκόμεθα, οὕτω καὶ βασιλέα λόγοις.
5. Λήψει δὲ δευτέρων προοιμίων ἐννοίας, ὅταν αὐξήσεως ἕνεκα παραλαμβάνηται, ἢ ἀπὸ Ὁμήρου τῆς μεγαλοφωνίας, ὅτι ταύτης μόνης ἐδεῖτο ἡ ὑπόθεσις, ἢ ἀπὸ Ὀρφέως τοῦ Καλλιόπης ἢ ἀπὸ τῶν Μουσῶν αὐτῶν, ὅτι μόλις ἂν καὶ αὗται πρὸς ἀξίαν τῆς ὑποθέσεως εἰπεῖν ἠδυνήθησαν, ὅμως δὲ οὐδὲν κωλύει καὶ ἡμᾶς ἐγχειρῆσαι πρὸς δύναμιν. 6. ἡ τρίτη δὲ τοῦ προοιμίου ἔννοια (καθόλου δὲ τούτου μέμνησο τοῦ παραγγέλματος) προκαταρκτικὴ γενέσθω τῶν κεφαλαίων, οἷον2 ὡς διαποροῦντος τοῦ λέγοντος ὅθεν χρὴ τὴν ἀρχὴν τῶν ἐγκωμίων ποιήσασθαι.
7. Μετὰ τὰ προοίμια ἐπὶ τὴν πατρίδα ἥξεις. ἐνταῦθα δὲ διασκέψῃ κατὰ σαυτόν, πότερον ἔνδοξός ἐστιν ἢ οὔ [καὶ πότερον πατρίδος περιβλέπτου καὶ λαμπρᾶς
“Just as our eyes cannot take in the extent of the limitless sea, so to encompass praise of the emperor in speech is no easy task.” You may find that this applies not only to a royal oration but to every epideictic subject, especially in the case of formal2 epideictic speeches. “Consequently, just as we propitiate divinities with hymns and virtues,3 we do the same for the emperor with speeches.”
5. When second introductions are added for the sake of amplification, you may derive topics from the magnificence either of Homer (“this alone was what the subject required”), or of Orpheus, Calliope’s son, or of the Muses themselves: “Even they could scarcely have spoken worthily of this subject; yet nothing prevents me from giving it my best effort.” 6. The third topic of the introduction (and in general keep this rule in mind) must prepare for the sections4 to come, when, for example, the speaker expresses doubt as to where he should begin his praises.5
7. After these introductions move on to his homeland.6 Here you should take into consideration whether or not it is famous. If it is famous, you should comment on it first,
- 2Literally, “intense” (syntonos), in contrast to the “relaxed” (anetos) or “casual” (syngraphikos) style of informal speeches or talks. This distinction, primarily relating to the use or not of a periodic style, is further discussed at 2.5.2–4.
- 3The compressed phrase ὕμνοις καὶ ἀρεταῖς implies “hymns and [recitals of their] virtues.” M. provides an extensive example of a hymn detailing the aretai of a god (Sminthian Apollo) at 2.16.12–23.
- 4κεφάλαια, literally, “headings,” are the main sections of topics into which an oration is divided.
- 5M. provides an example of searching for a beginning in his Sminthian Oration at 2.16.3. There is a brief discussion of aporetic passages in hymns at 1.9.4, where the god’s parentage is at issue.
- 6In the following sections, πατρίς varies in meaning between homeland and hometown (πόλις); ἔθνος refers to the nation or race, γένος to the family, lineage, or race.