by Marcus Tullius Cicero

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"De Inventione Rhetorica" or "Rhetorical Invention" is a work alluded to by Cicero, in the commencement of his treatise "De Oratore," as having been published by him in his youth. It is generally believed to have been written by him when twenty-four years of age, and to have originally contained four books, of which but two remain. Many believe that he never wrote, or at least never published, more than the two books, which we possess. In composing this work, Cicero, as far as an opinion may be ventured, would appear to have had before him notes taken from the prelections of some instructer, whom the anonymous author of the treatise addressed to Herennius had also attended. For a number of passages, in the two books "De Inventione," coincide in a very marked manner with others in the work to Herennius; unless, indeed, the author of the latter was the preceptor of Cicero.

Written, A. U. C. 698, when Cicero, disgusted with the political dissensions of the capital, had retired during part of the summer to the seclusion of the country. The speakers in these dialogues are the orators Antonius and Crassus, (the latter of whom was attended by the young Sulpicius and Cotta, at that time the two most promising speakers at Rome,) the eminent lawyer Scaevola, and Catulus and Julius Caesar, (grand uncle to the Dictator,) the last two distinguished also for their eloquence, and who joined the party m the interval between the first and second dialogues. The principal part in the conversation, however, is borne by Crassus and Antonius; the former advocating, what was infact Cicero's own opinion, that an almost universal knowledge is essentially requisite to perfection in oratory; the latter, who was a mere practical pleader, maintaining, that the various accomplishments insisted upon by Crassus, were totally distinct from the proper office and dutie3 of a public speaker. According to him, eloquence is not an art, because it depends not on knowledge. Imitation of good models, practice, and minute attention to each particular case, are laid down by him as the true foundations of forensic eloquence: the great objects of an orator being, in the first place, to recommend himself to his clients, and then to prepossess the judges in his favour. Crassus, in reply, enters on the embellishments of rhetoric: pronunciation, elocution, harmony of periods, metaphors, sentiments, action, and in short, whatever can impart a finished grace and dignity to a public discourse.


An excerpt from the beginning of Book I:

These essays on rhetoric were composed by Cicero Then he was about one and twenty years of age, and he mentions them afterwards in his more elaborate treatise De Oratore, (Lib. i. c. 2,) as unworthy of his more mature age, and more extended experiences. Quintilian also (III. c. 63,) mentions them as works which Cicero condemned by subsequent writings. This treatise originally consisted of four books, of which only two have come down to us.


I HAVE often and deeply resolved this question in my mind, whether fluency of language has been beneficial or injurious to men and to cities, with reference to the cultivation of the highest order of eloquence. For when I consider the disasters of our own republic, and when I call to mind also the ancient calamities of the most important states, I see that it is by no means the most insignificant portion of their distresses which has originated from the conduct of the most eloquent men. But, at the same time, when I set myself to trace back, by the aid of written memorials and documents, affairs which, by reason of their antiquity, are removed back out of the reach of any personal recollection, I perceive also that many cities have been established, many wars extinguished, many most enduring alliances and most holy friendships have been cemented by deliberate wisdom much assisted and facilitated by eloquence. And as I have been, as I say, considering all this for some time, reason itself especially induces me to think that wisdom without eloquence is but of little advantage to states, but that eloquence without wisdom is often most mischievous, and is never advantageous to them.

If then any one, neglecting all the most virtuous and honourable considerations of wisdom and duty, devotes his whole attention to the practice of speaking, that man is training himself to become useless to himself, and a citizen mischievous to his country; but a man who arms himself with eloquence in such a manner as not to oppose the advantage of his country, but to be able to contend in behalf of them, he appears to me to be one who both as a man and a citizen will be of the greatest service to his own and the general interests, and most devoted to his country.

And if we are inclined to consider the origin of this thing which is called eloquence, whether it be a study, or an art, or ...

Product Details

BN ID: 2940015128413
Publisher: OGB
Publication date: 09/04/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 277 KB

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