Quintilian, The Orator's Education

LCL 126: 188-189

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Urbiniae heredes is qui tamquam filius petebat bona 5Figulus esset an Sosipater. Nam et substantia eius sub oculos venit, ut non possit quaeri an sit, quo modo an <sit terra>2 ultra oceanum, nec quid sit nec quale sit sed quis sit. Verum hoc quoque genus litis ex praeterito pendet: ‘an hic sit ex Urbinia natus Clusinius Figulus.’ Fuerunt autem tales etiam nostris temporibus controversiae atque aliquae in meum quoque patrocinium inciderunt.

6Animi coniectura non dubie in omnia tempora cadit: ‘qua mente Ligarius in Africa fuerit’, ‘qua mente Pyrrhus foedus petat’, ‘quo modo laturus sit Caesar si Ptolomaeus Pompeium occiderit.’

Quaeritur per coniecturam et qualitas3 circa modum speciem numerum: ‘an sol maior quam terra, luna globosa 7an plana an acuta, unus mundus an plures.’ Itemque extra naturales quaestiones: ‘maius bellum Troianum an Peloponnesium’, ‘qualis clipeus Achillis’, ‘an unus Hercules.’

In iis autem quae accusatione ac defensione constant, unum est genus in quo quaeritur et de facto et de auctore:


Book 7.2

against Urbinia’s heirs,8 the question was whether the man who claimed the property as a son was Figulus or Sosipater. In this case, the actual person can be seen, so that there is no question about his existence (as there is if one asks if there is <land> beyond the Ocean)9 or of Definition or Quality; it is only “who is he?” However, this type of dispute also depends on past events: is he the Clusinius Figulus who was Urbinia’s child? Even in our own day there have been cases of this kind; some indeed have fallen to me as an advocate.

Conjecture relating to Intention undoubtedly occurs with reference to all times: what did Ligarius mean to do in Africa, what is Pyrrhus’ intention in making the treaty,10 how will Caesar take it if Ptolemy kills Pompey?11

We use Conjecture also in inquiring into Quality in relation to size, shape, or number; is the sun bigger than the earth, is the moon spherical, flat, or conical, is there one universe or many?12 This occurs also outside the field of scientific speculation: for example, was the Trojan War or the Peloponnesian greater,13 what was the shield of Achilles like,14 was there only one Hercules?15

I turn now to cases involving both accusation and defence. There is (1) a type of Conjecture in which an action and its perpetrator are both in question. This sometimes

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.quintilian-orators_education.2002