pudica oratio non est maculosa nec turgida, sed naturali pulchritudine exsurgit. | 7nuper ventosa istaec et enormis loquacitas Athenas ex Asia commigravit animosque iuvenum ad magna surgentes veluti pestilenti quodam sidere afflavit, semelque corrupta eloquentia e<repta> regula6 stetit et obmutuit. | 8ad summam, quis postea7 Thucydidis, quis Hyperidis ad famam processit? ac ne carmen quidem sani coloris enituit, sed omnia quasi eodem cibo pasta non potuerunt usque ad senectutem canescere. | 9pictura quoque non alium exitum fecit, postquam Aegyptiorum audacia tam magnae artis compendiariam invenit.”
3. non est passus Agamemnon me diutius declamare in porticu quam ipse in schola sudaverat, sed “adulescens” inquit “quoniam sermonem habes non publici saporis et, quod rarissimum est, amas bonam mentem, non fraudabo te arte secreta. | 2nil mirum <si>8 in his exercitationibus doctores peccant, qui necesse habent cum insanientibus furere. nam OφLnisi dixerint quae adulescentuli probent, ut ait Cicero, ‘soli in scholis relinquentur.’ | 3OLsicut OφLficti adulatores cum cenas divitum captant nihil prius meditantur
Elevated and what I would call a pure style is not full of highly colored and bombastic phrases. It rises sublime because of its intrinsic beauty. Just lately this breezy and formless verbosity has migrated from Asia to Athens.6 Its breath as from some malignant star fell upon the eager spirits of our youth, as they sought to rise to greatness, and once the norms were removed the eloquence in speech ceased and grew dumb. So, who now has gained the renown of Thucydides7 or Hyperides? Even poetry has not preserved its healthy glow, but all art has been fed, as it were, on the same diet and thus not able to survive long enough to reach gray-haired old age. Painting also suffered a similar consequence,8 once the unscrupulous Egyptians found shortcuts9 to such high art.”
3. Agamemnon could not allow me to declaim in the colonnade longer than he had sweated over delivering a speech in the school: “Young man,” he said, “since your speech shows extraordinary taste, and what is special about you is that you appreciate intellectual qualities, I shall not try to deceive you by withholding secrets of my art. It is not at all surprising if teachers make shameful concessions in these school exercises. They have to act like madmen and play their part with lunatics. For unless their speeches win the approval of their pupils, the teachers will, as Cicero10 says, be left all alone in the schools. Teachers are like mock flatterers on the stage cadging dinners
- 6Ridicule of the florid Asianic style and praise of the plain Attic are commonplace in comments on oratory and education.
- 7Thucydides was a penetrating historian of the Peloponnesian War, but unlike the renowned fourth-century Hyperides, he was not a good model for orators.
- 8Comments on the decline of contemporary art are a trite subject (cf. Vitr. De arch. 7.5.4; Plin. NH 35.2, 28).
- 9Shortcuts in painting might refer to impressionism, first employed by Antiphanes of Alexandria in the fourth century (cf. Plin. NH 35.110 on Philoxenus and similar shortcuts).
- 10Cic. Cael. 17.41.