Quintilian, The Orator's Education

LCL 127: 252-253

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Liber Decimus


1 Sed haec eloquendi praecepta, sicut cognitioni1 sunt necessaria, ita non satis ad vim dicendi valent nisi illis firma quaedam facilitas, quae apud Graecos hexis nominatur, accesserit: ad quam scribendo plus an legendo an dicendo conferatur, solere quaeri scio. Quod esset diligentius nobis examinandum si qualibet earum rerum possemus una esse 2 contenti; verum ita sunt inter se conexa et indiscreta omnia ut, si quid ex his defuerit, frustra sit in ceteris laboratum. Nam neque solida atque robusta fuerit umquam eloquentia nisi multo stilo vires acceperit, et citra lectionis exemplum labor ille carens rectore fluitabit, et qui sciet quae quoque sint modo dicenda, nisi tamen in procinctu paratamque ad omnis casus habuerit eloquentiam, velut clausis 3 thesauris incubabit. Non autem ut quidquid praecipue necessarium est, sic ad efficiendum oratorem maximi protinus


Book 10.1

Book Ten

Chapter 1

How to acquire facility and a wide vocabulary

These rules for Elocution, necessary as they are for theoretical knowledge, do not ensure oratorical power, unless they are reinforced by a certain assured facility, which the Greeks call hexis.1 I know that the question is often asked, whether writing, reading, or speaking contributes most to this; and we should indeed have to consider this question more seriously if we could be content with just one of these three. In fact, however, they are all so inseparably linked with one another that if one is lacking, the labour spent on the others has been wasted. Eloquence will never be mature and robust unless it develops strength by much practice in writing. Without the models supplied by reading, the whole effort will be adrift, and there will be no one at the helm. Again, the man who knows what to say and how to say it, but does not have his eloquence ready to hand and prepared for any contingency, will simply be brooding over hoarded treasure. Yet the fact that something is particularly necessary does not automatically make it the most important element in the formation of the orator. Doubtless,

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.quintilian-orators_education.2002