CHAPTER X. THE HISTORY OF ORATORY BEFORE CICERO.
As the spiritual life of a people is reflected in their poetry, so their living voice is heard in their oratory. Oratory is the child of freedom. Under the despotisms of the East it could have no existence; under every despotism it withers. The more truly free a nation is, the greater will its oratory be. In no country was there a grander field for the growth of oratorical genius than in Rome. The two countries that approach nearest to it in this respect are beyond doubt Athens and England. In both eloquence has attained its loftiest height, in the one of popular, in the other of patrician excellence. The eloquence of Demosthenes is popular in the noblest sense. It is addressed to a sovereign people who knew that they were sovereign. Neither to deliberative nor to executive did they for a moment delegate that supreme power which it delighted them to exercise. He that had a measure or a bill to propose had only to persuade them that it was good, and the measure passed, the bill became law. But the audience he addressed, though a popular, was by no means an ordinary one. It was fickle and capricious to a degree exceeding that of all other popular assemblies; it was critical, exacting, intellectual, in a still higher degree. No audience has been more swayed by passion; none has been less swayed by the pretence of it. Always accessible to flattery, Athens counts as her two greatest orators the two men who never stooped to flatter her. The regal tones of Pericles, the prophetic earnestness of Demosthenes, in the response which each met, bear witness to the greatness of those who heard them. Even Cleon owed his greatest triumphs to the plainness with which he inveighed against the people's faults. Intolerant of inelegance and bombast, the Athenians required not only graceful speech, but speech to the point. Hence Demosthenes is of all ancient orators the most business-like. Of all ancient orators, it has been truly said he would have met with the best hearing from the House of Commons. Nevertheless there is a great difference between Athenian and English eloquence. The former was exclusively popular; the latter, in the strictest sense, is hardly popular at all. The dignified representatives of our lower house need no such appeals to popular passion as the Athenian assembly required; only on questions of patriotism or principle would they be tolerated. Still less does emotion govern the sedate and masculine eloquence of our upper house, or the strict and closely-reasoned pleadings of our courts of law. Its proper field is in the addresses of a popular member to one of the great city constituencies. The best speeches addressed to hereditary legislators or to elected representatives necessarily involve different features from those which characterised orations addressed directly to the entire nation assembled in one place. If oratory has lost in fire, it has gained in argument. In its political sphere, it shows a clearer grasp of the public interest, a more tenacious restriction to practical issues; in its judicial sphere, a more complete abandonment of prejudice and passion, and a subordination, immeasurably greater than at Athens, to the authority of written law.
Let us now compare the general features of Greek and English eloquence with those of Rome. Roman eloquence had this in common with Greek, that it was genuinely popular. In their comitia the people were supreme. The orator who addressed them must be one who by passion could enkindle passion, and guide for his own ends the impulses of a vast multitude. But how different was the multitude! Fickle, impressionable, vain; patriotic too in its way, and not without a rough idea of justice. So far like that of Greece; but here the resemblance ends. The mob of Rome, for in the times of real popular eloquence it had come to that, was rude, fierce, bloodthirsty: where Athens called for grace of speech, Rome demanded vehemence; where Athens looked for glory or freedom, Rome looked for increase of dominion, and the wealth of conquered kingdoms for her spoil. That in spite of their fierce and turbulent audience the great Roman orators attained to such impressive grandeur, is a testimony to the greatness of the senatorial system which reared them. In some respects the eloquence of Rome bears greater resemblance to that of England. For several centuries it was chiefly senatorial. The people intrusted their powers to the Senate, satisfied that it acted for the best; and during this period eloquence was matured. That special quality, so well named by the Romans gravitas, which at Athens was never reached, but which has again appeared in England, owed its development to the august discipline of the Senate. Well might Cineas call this body an assembly of kings. Never have patriotism, tradition, order, expediency, been so powerfully represented as there; never have change, passion, or fear had so little place. We can well believe that every effective speech began with the words, so familiar to us, maiores nostri voluerunt, and that it ended as it had begun. The aristocratic stamp necessarily impressed on the debates of such an assembly naturally recalls our own House of Lords. But the freedom of personal invective was far wider than modern courtesy would tolerate. And, moreover, the competency of the Senate to decide questions of peace or war threw into its discussions that strong party spirit which is characteristic of our Lower House. Thus the senatorial oratory of Rome united the characteristics of that of both our chambers. It was at once majestic and vehement, patriotic and personal, proud of traditionary prestige, but animated with the consciousness of real power.
In judicial oratory the Romans, like the Greeks, compare unfavourably with us. With more eloquence they had less justice. Nothing sets antiquity in a less prepossessing light than a study of its criminal trials; nothing seems to have been less attainable in these than an impartial sifting of evidence. The point of law is obscured among overwhelming considerations from outside. If a man is clearly innocent, as in the case of Roscius, the enmity of the great makes it a severe labour to obtain an acquittal; if he is as clearly guilty (as Cluentius would seem to have been), a skilful use of party weapons can prevent a conviction.  The judices in the public trials (which must be distinguished from civil causes tried in the praetor's court) were at first taken exclusively from the senators. Gracchus (122 B.C.) transferred this privilege to the Equites; and until the time of Sulla, who once more reinstated the senatorial class (81 B.C.), fierce contests raged between the two orders. Pompey (55 B.C.), following an enactment of Cotta (70 B.C.), threw the office open to the three orders of Senators, Knights, and Tribuni Aerarii, but fixed a high property qualification. Augustus added a fourth decuria from the lower classes, and Caligula a fifth, so that Quintilian could speak of a juryman as ordinarily a man of little intelligence and no legal or general knowledge. 
This would be of comparatively small importance if a presiding judge of lofty qualifications guided, as with us, the minds of the jury through the mazes of argument and sophistry, and set the real issue plainly before them. But in Rome no such prerogative rested with the presiding judge,  who merely saw that the provisions of the law under which the trial took place were complied with. The judges, or rather jurors, were, in Rome as in Athens,  both from their number and their divergent interests, open to influences of prejudice or corruption, only too often unscrupulously employed, from which our system is altogether exempt. In the later republican period it was not, of course, ignorance (the jurors being senators or equites) but bribery or partisanship that disgraced the decisions of the bench. Senator and eques unceasingly accused each other of venality, and each was beyond doubt right in the charge he made.  In circumstances like these it is evident that dexterous manipulation or passionate pleading must take the place of legitimate forensic oratory. Magnificent, therefore, as are the efforts of the great speakers in this field, and nobly as they often rise above the corrupt practice of their time, it is impossible to shut our eyes to the iniquities of the procedure, and to help regretting that talent so glorious was so often compelled either to fail or to resort to unworthy methods of success.
At Rome public speaking prevailed from the first. In every department of life it was necessary for a man to express in clear and vigorous language the views he recommended. Not only the senator or magistrate, but the general on the field of battle had to be a speaker. On his return from the campaign eloquence became to him what strategy had been before. It was the great path to civil honours, and success was not to be won without it. There is little doubt that the Romans struck out a vein of strong native eloquence before the introduction of Greek letters. Readiness of speech is innate in the Italians as in the French, and the other qualities of the Romans contributed to enhance this natural gift. Few remains of this native oratory are left, too few to judge by. We must form our opinion upon that of Cicero, who, basing his judgment on its acknowledged political effects, pronounces strongly in its favour. The measures of Brutus, of Valerius Poplicola, and others, testify to their skill in oratory;  and the great honour in which the orator was always held,  contrasting with the low position accorded to the poet, must have produced its natural result. But though the practice of oratory was cultivated it was not reduced to an art. Technical treatises were the work of Greeks, and Romans under Greek influence. In the early period the “spoken word” was all-important. Even the writing down of speeches after delivery was rarely, if ever, resorted to. The first known instance occurs so late as the war with Pyrrhus, 280 B.C., when the old censor Appius committed his speech to writing, which Cicero says that he had read. The only exception to this rule seems to have been the funeral orations, which may have been written from the first, but were rarely published owing to the youth of those who delivered them. The aspirant to public honours generally began his career by composing such an oration, though in later times a public accusation was a more favourite debut. Besides Appius's; speech, we hear of one by FABIUS CUNCTATOR, and of another by Metellus, and we learn from Ennius that in the second Punic war (204 B.C.) M. CORNELIUS CETHEGUS obtained the highest renown for his persuasive eloquence.
“Additur orator Cornelius suaviloquenti
Ore Cethegus ... is dictus popularibus olim ...
Flos delibatus populi Suadaeque medulla.” 
The first name on which we can pronounce with confidence is that of Cato. This great man was the first orator as he was the greatest statesman of his time. Cicero  praises him as dignified in commendation, pitiless in sarcasm, pointed in phraseology, subtle in argument. Of the 150 speeches extant in Cicero's time there was not one that was not stocked with brilliant and pithy sayings; and though perhaps they read better in the shape of extracts, still all the excellences of oratory were found in them as a whole; and yet no one could be found to study them. Perhaps Cicero's language betrays the warmth of personal admiration, especially as in a later passage of the same dialogue  he makes Atticus dissent altogether from his own view. “I highly approve (he says) of the speeches of Cato as compared with those of his own date, for though quite unpolished they imply some original talent ... but to speak of him as an orator equal to Lysias would indeed be pardonable irony if we were in jest, but you cannot expect to approve it seriously to me and Brutus.” No doubt Atticus's judgment is based on too high a standard, for high finish was impossible in the then state of the language. Still Cato wrote probably in a designedly rude style through his horror of Greek affectation. He is reported to have said in his old age (150 B.C.), “Caussurum illustrium quascunque defendi nunc cum maxime conficio orationes,”  and these written speeches were no doubt improvements on those actually delivered, especially as Valerius Maximus says of his literary labours,  “Cato Graecis literis erudiri concupivit, quam sero inde cognoscimus quod etiam Latinas paene iam senex didicerit.” His eloquence extended to every sort; he was a successful patronus in many private trials; he was a noted and most formidable accuser; in public trials we find him continually defending himself, and always with success; as the advocate or opponent of great political measures in the senate or assembly he was at his greatest. Many titles of deliberative speeches remain, e.g. “de rege Attalo et vectigalibus Asiae,” “ut plura aera equestria fierent,” “ aediles plebis sacrosanctos esse,” “de dote” (an attack upon the luxury of women), and others. His chief characteristics were condensed force, pregnant brevity, strong common sense, galling asperity. His orations were neglected for near a century, but in the Claudian era began to be studied, and were the subjects of commentary until the time of Servius, who speaks of his periods as ill-balanced and unrhythmical (confragosa).  There is a most caustic fragment preserved in Fronto  taken from the speech de sumptu suo, recapitulating his benefits to the state, and the ingratitude of those who had profited by them; and another from his speech against Minucius Thermus, who had scourged ten men for some trivial offence  which in its sarcasm, its vivid and yet redundant language, recalls the manner of Cicero.
In Cato's time we hear of SER. FULVIUS and L. COTTA, SCIPIO AFRICANUS and SULPICIUS GALLUS, all of whom were good though not first-rate speakers. A little later LAELIUS and the younger SCIPIO (185-129 B.C.), whose speeches were extant in the time of Cicero  and their contemporaries, followed Cato's example and wrote down what they had delivered. It is not clear whether their motive was literary or political, but more probably the latter, as party feeling was so high at Rome that a powerful speech might do good work afterwards as a pamphlet.  From the passages of Scipio Aemilianus which we possess, we gather that he strove to base his style on Greek models. In one we find an elaborate dilemma, with a taunting question repeated after each deduction; in another we find Greek terms contemptuously introduced much as they are centuries after in Juvenal; in another we have a truly patrician epigram. Being asked his opinion about the death of Gracchus, and replying that the act was a righteous one, the people raised a shout of defiance,—Taceant, inquit, quibus Italia noverca non mater est, quos ego sub corona vendidi—“Be silent, you to whom Italy is a stepdame not a mother, whom I myself have sold at the hammer of the auctioneer.”
Laelius, surnamed Sapiens, or the philosopher (cons. 140), is well known to readers of Cicero as the chief speaker in the exquisite dialogue on friendship, and to readers of Horace as the friend of Scipio and Lucilius.  Of his relative excellence as an orator, Cicero speaks with caution.  He mentions the popular preference for Laelius, but apparently his own judgment inclines the other way. “It is the manner of men to dislike one man excelling in many things. Now, as Africanus has no rival in martial renown, though Laelius gained credit by his conduct of the war with Viriathus, so as regards genius, learning, eloquence, and wisdom, though both are put in the first rank, yet all men are willing to place Laelius above Scipio.” It is certain that Laelius's style was much less natural than that of Scipio. He affected an archaic vocabulary and an absence of ornament, which, however, was a habit too congenial at all times to the Roman mind to call down any severe disapproval. What Laelius lacked was force. On one occasion a murder had been committed in the forest of Sila, which the consuls were ordered to investigate. A company of pitch manufacturers were accused, and Laelius undertook their defence. At its conclusion the consuls decided on a second hearing. A few days after Laelius again pleaded, and this time with an elegance and completeness that left nothing to be desired. Still the consuls were dissatisfied. On the accused begging Laelius to make a third speech, he replied: “Out of consideration for you I have done my best. You should now go to Ser. Galba, who can defend you with greater warmth and vehemence than I.” Galba, from respect to Laelius, was unwilling to undertake the case; but, having finally agreed, he spent the short time that was left in getting it by heart, retiring into a vaulted chamber with some highly educated slaves, and remaining at work till after the consuls had taken their seat. Being sent for he at last came out, and, as Rutilius the narrator and eye-witness declared, with such a heightened colour and triumph in his eyes that he looked like one who had already won his cause. Laelius himself was present. The advocate spoke with such force and weight that scarcely an argument passed unapplauded. Not only were the accused released, but they met on all hands with sympathy and compassion. Cicero adds that the slaves who had helped in the consultation came out of it covered with bruises, such was the vigour of body as well as mind that a Roman brought to bear on his case, and on the unfortunate instruments of its preparation. 
GALBA (180-136 B.C.?) was a man of violence and bad faith, not for a moment to be compared to Laelius. His infamous cruelty to the Lusitanians, one of the darkest acts in all history, has covered his name with an ineffaceable stain. Cato at eighty-five years of age stood forth as his accuser, but owing to his specious art, and to the disgrace of Rome, he was acquitted.  Cicero speaks of him as peringeniosus sed non satis doctus, and says that he lacked perseverance to improve his speeches from a literary point of view, being contented with forensic success. Yet he was the first to apply the right sort of treatment to oratorical art; he introduced digressions for ornament, for pathos, for information; but as he never re-wrote his speeches, they remained unfinished, and were soon forgotten—Hanc igitur ob caussum videtur Laelii mens spirare etiam in scriptis, Galbae autem vis occidisse.
Laelius had embodied in his speeches many of the precepts of the Stoic philosophy. He had been a friend of the celebrated Panaetius (186-126 B.C.) of Rhodes, to whose lectures he sent his own son-in-law, and apparently others too. Eloquence now began to borrow philosophic conceptions; it was no longer merely practical, but admitted of illustration from various theoretical sources. It became the ambition of cultivated men to fuse enlightened ideas into the substance of their oratory. Instances of this are found in SP. MUMMIUS, AEMILIUS LEPIDUS, C. FANNIUS, and the Augur MUCIUS SCAEVOLA, and perhaps, though it is difficult to say, in Carbo and the two Gracchi. These are the next names that claim our notice.
CARBO (164-119 B.C.), the supporter first of the Gracchi, and then of their murderers, was a man of the most worthless character, but a bold speaker, and a successful patron. In his time the quaestiones perpetuae  were constituted, and thus he had an immense opportunity of enlarging his forensic experience. He gained the reputation of being the first pleader of his day; he was fluent, witty, and forcible, and was noted for the strength and sweetness of his voice. Tacitus also mentions him with respect in his dialogue de Oratoribus. 
The two GRACCHI were no less distinguished as orators than as champions of the oppressed. TIBERIUS (169-133 B.C.) served his first campaign with Scipio in Africa, and was present at the fall of Carthage. His personal friendship for the great soldier was cemented by Scipio's union with his only sister. The father of Gracchus was a man of sterling worth and considerable oratorical gifts; his mother's virtue, dignity, and wisdom are proverbial. Her literary accomplishments were extremely great; she educated her sons in her own studies, and watched their progress with more than a preceptor's care. The short and unhappy career of this virtuous but imprudent man is too well known to need allusion here; his eloquence alone will be shortly noticed. It was formed on a careful study of Greek authors. Among his masters was Diophanes of Mitylene, who dwelt at Rome, and paid the penalty of his life for his friendship for his pupil. Tiberius's character was such as to call for the strongest expressions of reverence even from those who disapproved his political conduct. Cicero speaks of him as homo sanctissimus, and Velleius Paterculus says of him, “vita innocentissimus, ingenio florentissimus, proposito sanctissimus, tantis denique ornatus virtutibus, quantas perfecta et natura et industria mortalis conditio recipit.” His appearance formed an epoch in eloquence. “The Gracchi employed a far freer and easier mode of speech than any of their predecessors.”  This may be accounted for partly through the superiority of their inherited talent and subsequent education, but is due far more to the deep conviction which stirred their heart and kindled their tongue. Cato alone presents the spectacle of a man deeply impressed with a political mission and carrying it into the arena of political conflict, but the inspiration of Gracchus was of a far higher order than that of the harsh censor. It was in its origin moral, depending on the eternal principles of right and wrong, not on the accident of any particular state or party in it. Hence the loftiness of his speech, from which sarcasm and even passion were absent. In estimating the almost ideal character of the enthusiasm which fired him we cannot forget that his mother was the daughter of Scipio, of him who believed himself the special favourite of heaven, and the communicator of divinely sent ideas to the world. Unhappily we have no fragments of the orations of Gracchus; the more brilliant fame of his brother has eclipsed his literary renown, but we may judge of their special features by those of their author's character, and be sure that while lacking in genius they were temperate, earnest, pure, and classical. In fact the Gracchi may he called the founders of classical Latin. That subdued power whose subtle influence penetrates the mind and vanquishes the judgment is unknown in literature before them. Whenever it appears it marks the rise of a high art, it answers to the vis temperata which Horace so warmly commends. The younger son of Cornelia, C. GRACCHUS (154-121 B.C.), was of a different temper from his brother. He was less of the moralist, more of the artist. His feeling was more intense but less profound. His brother's loyalty had been to the state alone; his was given partly to the state, partly to the shade of his brother. In nearly every speech, in season and out of season, he denounced his murder. “Pessimi Tiberium meum fratrem, optimum virum, interfecerunt.” Such is the burden of his eloquence. If in Tiberius we see the impressive calmness of reasoned conviction, in Caius we see the splendid impetuosity of chivalrous devotion. And yet Caius was, without doubt, the greater statesman of the two. The measures, into which his brother was as it were forced, were by him well understood and deliberately planned. They amounted to nothing less than a subversion of the existing state. The senate destroyed meant Gracchus sovereign. Under the guise of restoring to the people their supreme power, he paved the way for the long succession of tyrants that followed. His policy mingled patriotism and revenge. The corruption and oppression that everywhere marked the oligarchical rule roused his just indignation; the death of his brother, the death he foresaw in store for himself, stirred him into unholy vengeance. Many of his laws were well directed. The liberal attitude he assumed towards the provinces, his strong desire to satisfy the just claims of the Italians to citizenship, his breaking down the exclusive administration of justice, these are monuments of his far-seeing statesmanship. But his vindictive legislation with regard to Popillius Laenas, and to Octavius (from which, however, his mother's counsel finally deterred him), and above all his creation of the curse of Rome, a hungry and brutal proletariate, by largesses of corn, present his character as a public man in darker colours. As Mommsen says, “Right and wrong, fortune and misfortune, were so inextricably blended in him that it may well beseem history in this case to reserve her judgment.”  The discord of his character is increased by the story that an inward impulse dissuaded him at first from public life, that agreeably to its monitions he served as Quaestor abroad, and pursued for some years a military career; but after a time his brother's spirit haunted him, and urged him to return to Rome and offer his life upon the altar of the great cause. This was the turning-point of his career. He returned suddenly, and from that day became the enemy of the senate, the avenger of his brother, and the champion of the multitude. His oratory is described as vehement beyond example; so carried away did he become, that he found it necessary to have a slave behind him on the rostra, who, by playing a flute, should recall him to moderation.  Cicero, who strongly condemned the man, pays the highest tribute to his genius, saying in the Brutus: “Of the loftiest talent, of the most burning enthusiasm, carefully taught from boyhood, he yields to no man in richness and exuberance of diction.” To which Brutus assents, adding, “Of all our predecessors he is the only one whose works I read.” Cicero replies, “You do right in reading him; Latin literature has lost irreparably by his early death. I know not whether he would not have stood above every other name. His language is noble, his sentiments profound, his whole style grave. His works lack the finishing touch; many are admirably begun, few are thoroughly complete. He of all speakers is the one that should be read by the young, for not only is he fit to sharpen talent, but also to feed and nourish a natural gift.” 
One of the great peculiarities of ancient eloquence was the frequent opportunity afforded for self-recommendation or self-praise. That good taste or modesty which shrinks from mentioning its own merits was far less cultivated in antiquity than now. Men accepted the principle not only of acting but of speaking for their own advantage. This gave greater zest to a debate on public questions, and certainly sharpened the orator's powers. If a man had benefited the state he was not ashamed to blazon it forth; if another in injuring the state had injured him, he did not altogether sacrifice personal invective to patriotic indignation.  The frequency of accusations made this “art of self-defence” a necessity—and there can be no doubt the Roman people listened with admiration to one who was at once bold and skilful enough to sound his own praises well. Cicero's excessive vanity led him to overdo his part, and to nauseate at times even well-disposed hearers. From the fragments of Gracchus' speeches that remain (unhappily very few) we should gather that in asserting himself he was without a rival. The mixture of simplicity and art removes him at once from Cato's bald literalism and Cicero's egotism. It was, however, in impassioned attack that Gracchus rose to his highest tones. The terms Gracchi impetum,  tumultuator Gracchus,  among the Latin critics, and similar ones from Plutarch and Dio among the Greeks, attest the main character of his eloquence. His very outward form paralleled the restlessness of his soul. He moved up and down, bared his arm, stamped violently, made fierce gestures of defiance, and acted through real emotion as the trained rhetoricians of a later age strove to act by rules of art. His accusation of Piso is said to have contained more maledictions than charges; and we can believe that a temperament so fervid, when once it gave the reins to passion, lost all self-command. It is possible we might think less highly of Gracchus's eloquence than did the ancients, if his speeches remained. Their lack of finish and repose may have been unnoticed by critics who could hurl themselves in thought not merely into the feeling but the very place which he occupied; but to moderns, whose sympathy with a state of things so opposite must needs be imperfect, it is possible that their power might not have compensated for the absence of relief. Important fragments from the speech apud Censores (124 B.C.), from that de legibus a se promulgatis (123 B.C.), and from that de Mithridate (123 B.C.), are given and commented on by Wordsworth.
Among the friends and opponents of the Gracchi were many orators whose names are given by Cicero with the minute care of a sympathising historian; but as few, if any, remains of their speeches exist, it can serve no purpose to recount the list. Three celebrated names may be mentioned as filling up the interval between C. Gracchus and M. Antonius. The first of these is AEMILIUS SCAURUS (163-90? B.C.), the haughty chief of the senate, the unscrupulous leader of the oligarchical party. His oratory is described by Cicero  as conspicuous for dignity and a natural but irresistible air of command; so that when he spoke for a defendant, he seemed like one who gave his testimony rather than one who pleaded. This want of flexibility unfitted him for success at the bar; accordingly, we do not find that he was much esteemed as a patron; but for summing up the debates at the Senate, or delivering an opinion on a great public question, none could be more impressive. Speeches of his were extant in Cicero's time; also an autobiography, which, like Caesar's Commentaries, was intended to put his conduct in the most favourable light; these, however, were little read. Scaurus lived to posterity, not in his writings, but in his example of stern constancy to a cause. 
A man in many ways resembling him but of purer conduct, was RUTILIUS (158- 78 B.C.), who is said by Cicero to have been a splendid example of many- sided culture. He was a scholar, a philosopher, a jurist of high repute, a historian, and an orator, though the severity of the Stoic sect, to which he adhered, prevented his striving after oratorical excellence. His impeachment for malversation in Asia, and unjust condemnation to banishment, reflect strongly on the formation of the Roman law-courts. His pride, however, was in part the cause of his exile. For had he chosen to employ Antonius or Crassus to defend him, an acquittal would at least have been possible; but conscious of rectitude, he refused any patron, and relied on his own dry and jejune oratory, and such assistance as his young friend Cotta could give. Sulla recalled him from Smyrna, whither he had repaired after his condemnation; but Rutilius refused to return to the city which had unjustly expelled him.
Among the other aristocratic leaders, CATULUS, the “noble colleague" of Marius  (cons. 102), must be mentioned. He was not a Stoic, and therefore was free to chose a more ornamental method of speaking than Rutilius. Cicero, with the partiality of a senatorial advocate, gives him very high praise. “He was educated not in the old rough style, but in that of our own day, or something more finished and elegant still. He had a wide acquaintance with literature, the highest courtesy of life and manners as well as of discourse, and a pure stream of genuine Latin eloquence. This is conspicuous in all his works, but most of all, in his autobiography, written to the poet A. Furius, in a style full of soft grace recalling that of Xenophon, but now, unhappily, little, if at all, read. In pleading he was successful but not eminent. When heard alone, he seemed excellent, but when contrasted with a greater rival, his faults at once appeared.” His chief virtue seems to have been the purity of his Latin idiom. He neither copied Greek constructions nor affected archaisms, as Rutilius Scaurus, Cotta, and so many others in his own time, and Sallust, Lucretius, and Varro in a later age.  The absence of any recognised standard of classical diction made it more difficult than at first appears for an orator to fix on the right medium between affectation and colloquialism.
The era inaugurated by the Gracchi was in the highest degree favourable to eloquence. The disordered state of the Republic, in which party-spirit had banished patriotism and was itself surrendering to armed violence, called for a style of speaking commensurate with the turbulence of public life. Never in the world's history has fierce passion found such exponents in so great a sphere. It is not only the vehemence of their language—that may have been paralleled elsewhere—it is the reality of it that impresses us. The words that denounced an enemy were not idly flung into the forum; they fell among those who had the power and the will to act upon them. He who sent them forth must expect them to ruin either his antagonist or himself. Each man chose his side, with the daggers of the other party before his face. His eloquence, like his sword, was a weapon for life and death. Only in the French Revolution have oratory and assassination thus gone hand in hand. Demosthenes could lash the Athenians into enthusiasm so great that in delight at his eloquence they forgot his advice. “I want you,” he said, “not to applaud me, but to march against Philip.”  There was no danger of the Roman people forgetting action in applause. They rejoiced to hear the orator, but it was that he might impel them to tumultuous activity; he was caterer not for the satisfaction of their ears, but for the employment of their hands. Thus he paid a heavy price for eminence. Few of Rome's greatest orators died in their beds. Carbo put an end to his own life; the two Gracchi, Antonius, Drusus, Cicero himself, perished by the assassin's hand; Crassus was delivered by sudden illness from the same fate. It is not wonderful if with the sword hanging over their heads, Roman orators attain to a vehemence beyond example in other nations. The charm that danger lends to daring is nowhere better shown than in the case of Cicero. Timid by nature, he not only in his speeches hazarded his life, but even when the dagger of Antony was waiting for him, he could not bring himself to flee. With the civil war, however, eloquence was for a time suppressed. Neither argument nor menace could make head against the furious brutality of Marius, or the colder butcheries of Sulla. But the intervening period produced two of the greatest speakers Rome ever saw, both of whom Cicero places at the very summit of their art, between whom he professes himself unable to decide, and about whom he gives the most authentic and copious account. These were the advocates M. ANTONIUS (143-87 B.C.) and M. LICINIUS CRASSUS (140-91 B.C.).
Both of them spoke in the senate and assembly as well as in the courts; and Crassus was perhaps a better political than forensic orator. Nevertheless the criticism of Cicero, from which we gain our chief knowledge, is mainly directed to their forensic qualifications; and it is probable that at the period at which they flourished, the law-courts offered the fullest combination of advantages for bringing out all the merits of a speaker. For the comitia were moved solely by passion or interest; the senate was swayed by party considerations, and was little touched by argument; whereas the courts offered just enough necessity for exact reasoning without at all resisting appeals to popular passion. Of the two kinds of judicia at Rome, the civil cases were little sought after; the public criminal trials being those which the greatpatroni delighted to undertake. A few words may not be out of place here on the general division of cases, and the jurisdiction of the magistrates, senate, and people, as it is necessary to understand these in order to appreciate the special kind of oratory they developed.
There had been, previously to this period, two praetors in Rome, the Praetor Urbanus, who adjudged cases between citizens in accordance with civil law, and the Praetor Peregrinus, who presided whenever a foreigner or alien was concerned, and judged according to the principles of natural law. Afterwards six praetors were appointed; and in the time of Antonius they judged not only civil but criminal cases, except those concerning the life of a citizen or the welfare of the state, which the people reserved for themselves. It must be remembered that the supreme judicial power was vested in the sovereign people in their comitia; that they delegated it in public matters to the senate, and in general legal cases to the praetor's court, but that in every capital charge a final appeal to them remained. The praetors at an early date handed over their authority to other judges, chosen either from the citizens at large, or from the body of Judices Selecti, who were renewed every year. These subsidiary judges might consist of a single arbiter, of small boards of three, seven, or ten, &c., or of a larger body called the Centum viri, chosen from the thirty- five tribes, who sat all the year, the others being only appointed for the special case. But over their decisions the praetor exercised a superior supervision, and he could annul them on appeal. The authorities on which the praetor based his practice were those of the Twelve Tables and the custom-law; but he had besides this a kind of legislative prerogative of his own. For on coming into office he had to issue an edict, called edictum perpetuum,  specifying the principles he intended to guide him in any new cases that might arise. If these were merely a continuation of those of his predecessor, his edict was called tralaticium, or “handed on.” But more often they were of an independent character, the result of his knowledge or his prejudices; and too often he departed widely from them in the course of his year of office. It was not until after the time of Crassus and Antonius that a law was passed enforcing consistency in this respect (67 B.C.). Thus it was inevitable that great looseness should prevail in the application of legal principles, from the great variety of supplementary codes (edicta), and the instability of case-law. Moreover, the praetor was seldom a veteran lawyer, but generally a man of moderate experience and ambitious views, who used the praetorship merely as a stepping-stone to the higher offices of state. Hence it was by no means certain that he would be able to appreciate a complicated technical argument, and as a matter of fact the more popular advocates rarely troubled themselves to advance one.
Praetors also generally presided over capital trials, of which the proper jurisdiction lay with the comitia. In Sulla's time their number was increased to ten, and each was chairman of the quaestio which sat on one of the ten chief crimes, extortion, peculation, bribery, treason, coining, forgery, assassination or poisoning, and violence.  As assessors he had the quaesitor or chief juror, and a certain number of theJudices Selecti of whom some account has been already given. The prosecutor and defendant had the right of objecting to any member of the list. If more than one accuser offered, it was decided which should act at a preliminary trial called Divinatio. Owing to the desire to win fame by accusations, this occurrence was not unfrequent.
When the day of the trial arrived the prosecutor first spoke, explaining the case and bringing in the evidence. This consisted of the testimony of free citizens voluntarily given; of slaves, wrung from them by torture; and of written documents. The best advocates, as for instance Cicero in his Milo, were not disposed, any more than we should be, to attach much weight to evidence obtained by the rack; but in estimating the other two sources they differed from us. We should give the preference to written documents; the Romans esteemed more highly the declarations of citizens. These offered a grander field for the display of ingenuity and misrepresentation; it is, therefore, in handling these that the celebrated advocates put forth all their skill. The examination of evidence over, the prosecutor put forth his case in a long and elaborate speech; and the accused was then allowed to defend himself. Both were, as a rule, limited in point of time, and sometimes to a period which to us would seem quite inconsistent with justice to the case. Instead of the strict probity and perfect independence which we associate with the highest ministers of the law, the Roman judices were often canvassed, bribed, or intimidated. So flagitious had the practice become, that Cicero mentions a whole bench having been induced by indulgences of the most abominable kind to acquit Clodius, though manifestly guilty. We know also that Pompey and Antony resorted to the practice of packing the forum with hired troops and assassins; and we learn from Cicero that it was the usual plan for provincial governors to extort enough not only to satisfy their own rapacity, but to buy their impunity from the judges. 
Under circumstances like these we cannot wonder if strict law was little attended to, and the moral principles that underlay it still less. The chief object was to inflame the prejudices or anger of the jurors; or, still more, to excite their compassion, to serve one's party, or to acquire favour with the leading citizen. For example, it was a rule that men of the same political views should appear on the same side. Cicero and Hortensius, though often opposed, still retained friendly feelings for each other; but when Cicero went over to the senatorial party, the last bar to free intercourse with his rival was removed, since henceforward they were always retained together.
With regard to moving the pity of the judges, many instances of its success are related both in Greece and Rome. The best are those of Galba and Piso, both notorious culprits, but both acquitted; the one for bringing forward his young children, the other for prostrating himself in a shower of rain to kiss the judges' feet and rising up with a countenance bedaubed with mud! Facts like these, and they are innumerable, compel us to believe that the reverence for justice as a sacred thing, so inbred in Christian civilization, was foreign to the people of Rome. It is a gloomy spectacle to see a mighty nation deliberately giving the rein to passion and excitement heedless of the miscarriage of justice. The celebrated law, re-enacted by Gracchus, “That no citizen should be condemned to death without the consent of the people,” banished justice from the sphere of reason to that of emotion or caprice. As progress widens emotion necessarily contracts its sphere; the pure light of reason raises her beacon on high. When Antonius, the most successful of advocates, declared that his success was due not to legal knowledge, of which he was destitute, but to his making the judges pleased, first with themselves and then with himself, we may appreciate his honesty; but we gladly acknowledge a state of things as past and gone in which he could wind up an accusation  with these words, “If it ever was excusable for the Roman people to give the reins to their just excitement, as without doubt it often has been, there has no case existed in which it was more excusable than now.”
Cicero regards the advent of these two men, M. Antonius and Crassus, as analogous to that of Demosthenes and Hyperides at Athens. They first raised Latin eloquence to a height that rivalled that of Greece. But though their merits were so evenly balanced that it was impossible to decide between them, their excellencies were by no means the same. It is evident that Cicero preferred Crassus, for he assigns him the chief place in his dialogue de Oratore, and makes him the vehicle of his own views. Moreover, he was a man of much more varied knowledge than Antonius. An opinion prevailed in Cicero's day that neither of them was familiar with Greek literature. This, however, was a mistake. Both were well read in it. But Antonius desired to be thought ignorant of it; hence he never brought it forward in his speeches. Crassus did not disdain the reputation of a proficient, but he wished to be regarded as despising it. These relics of old Roman narrowness, assumed whether from conviction or, more probably, to please the people, are remarkable at an epoch so comparatively cultured. They show, if proof were wanted, how completely the appearance of Cicero marks a new period in literature, for he is as anxious to popularise his knowledge of Greek letters as his predecessors had been to hide theirs. The advantages of Antony were chiefly native and personal; those of Crassus acquired and artificial. Antony had a ready wit, an impetuous flow of words, not always the best, but good enough for the purpose, a presence of mind and fertility of invention that nothing could quench, a noble person, a wonderful memory, and a sonorous voice the very defects of which he turned to his advantage; he never refused a case; he seized the bearings of each with facility, and espoused it with zeal; he knew from long practice all the arts of persuasion, and was an adept in the use of them; in a word, he was thoroughly and genuinely popular.
Crassus was grave and dignified, excellent in interpretation, definition, and equitable construction, so learned in law as to be called the best lawyer among the orators;  and yet with all this grace and erudition, he joined a sparkling humour which was always lively, never commonplace, and whose brilliant sallies no misfortune could check. His first speech was an accusation of the renegade democrat Carbo; his last, which was also his best, was an assertion of the privileges of his order against the over-bearing insolence of the consul Philippus. The consul, stung to fury by the sarcasm of the speaker, bade his lictor seize his pledges as a senator. This insult roused Crassus to a supreme effort. His words are preserved by Cicero —“an tu, quum omnem auctoritatem universi ordinis pro pignore putaris, eamque in conspectu populi Romani concideris, me his existimas pignoribus posse terreri? Non tibi illa sunt caedenda, si Crassum vis coercere; haec tibi est incidenda lingua; qua vel evulsa, spiritu ipso libidinem tuam libertas mea refutabit.” This noble retort, spoken amid bodily pain and weakness, brought on a fever which within a week brought him to the grave (91 B.C.), as Cicero says, by no means prematurely, for he was thus preserved from the horrors that followed. Antonius lived for some years longer. It was under the tyrannical rule of Marius and Cinna that he met his end. Having found, through the indiscretion of a slave, that he was in hiding, they sent hired assassins to murder him. The men entered the chamber where the great orator lay, and prepared to do their bloody work, but he addressed them in terms of such pathetic eloquence that they turned back, melted with pity, and declared they could not kill Antonius. Their leader then came in, and, less accessible to emotion than his men, cut off Antonius' head and carried it to Marius. It was nailed to the rostra, “exposed,” says Cicero, “to the gaze of those citizens whose interests he had so often defended.”
After the death of these two great leaders, there appear two inferior men who faintly reflect their special excellences. These are C. AURELIUS COTTA (consul 75 B.C.) an imitator of Antonius, though without any of his fire, and P. SULPICIUS RUFUS (fl. 121-88 B.C.) a bold and vigorous speaker, who tried, without success, to reproduce the high-bred wit of Crassus. He was, according to Cicero,  the most tragic of orators. His personal gifts were remarkable, his presence commanding, his voice rich and varied. His fault was want of application. The ease with which he spoke made him dislike the labour of preparation, and shun altogether that of written composition. Cotta was exactly the opposite of Sulpicius. His weak health, a rare thing among the Romans of his day, compelled him to practise a soft sedate method of speech, persuasive rather than commanding. In this he was excellent, but that his popularity was due chiefly to want of competitors is shown by the suddenness of his eclipse on the first appearance of Hortensius. The gentle courteous character of Cotta is well brought out in Cicero's dialogue on oratory, where his remarks are contrasted with the mature but distinct views of Crassus and Antonius, with the conservative grace of Catulus, and the masculine but less dignified elegance of Caesar.
Another speaker of this epoch is CARRO, son of the Carbo already mentioned, an adherent of the senatorial party, and opponent of the celebrated Livius Drusus. On the death of Drusus he delivered an oration in the assembly, the concluding words of which are preserved by Cicero, as an instance of the effectiveness of the trochaic rhythm. They were received with a storm of applause, as indeed their elevation justly merits.  “O Marce Druse, patrem appello; tu dicere solebas sacram esse rempublicam; quicunque eam violavissent, ab omnibus esse ei poenas persolatas. Patris dictum sapiens temeritas filii comprobavit.” In this grand sentence sounds the very voice of Rome; the stern patriotism, the reverence for the words of a father, the communion of the living with their dead ancestors. We cannot wonder at the fondness with which Cicero lingers over these ancient orators; while fully acknowledging his own superiority, how he draws out their beauties, each from its crude environment; how he shows them to be deficient indeed in cultivation and learning, but to ring true to the old tradition of the state, and for that very reason to speak with a power, a persuasiveness, and a charm, which all the rules of polished art could never hope to attain.
In the concluding passage of the De Oratore Catulus says he wishes HORTENSIUS (114-50 B.C.) could have taken part in the debate, as he gave promise of excelling in all the qualifications that had been specified. Crassus replies—“He not only gives promise of being, but is already one of the first of orators. I thought so when I heard him defend the cause of the Africans during the year of my consulship, and I thought so still more strongly when, but a short while ago, he spoke on behalf of the king of Bithynia.” This is supposed to have been said in 91 B.C., the year of Crassus's death, four years after the first appearance of Hortensius. This brilliant orator, who at the age of nineteen spoke before Crassus and Scaevola and gained their unqualified approval, and who, after the death of Antonius, rose at once into the position of leader of the Roman bar, was as remarkable for his natural as for his acquired endowments. Eight years senior to Cicero, “prince of the courts”  when Cicero began public life, for some time his rival and antagonist, but afterwards his illustrious though admittedly inferior coadjutor, and towards the close of both of their lives, his intimate and valued friend; Hortensius is one of the few men in whom success did not banish enjoyment, and displacement by a rival did not turn to bitterness. Without presenting the highest virtue, his career of forty-four years is nevertheless a pleasant and instructive one. It showed consistency, independence, and honour; he never changed sides, he never flattered the great, he never acquired wealth unjustly. In these points he may be contrasted with Cicero. But on the other hand, he was inactive, luxurious, and effeminate; not like Cicero, fighting to the last, but retiring from public life as soon as he saw the domination of Pompey or Caesar to be inevitable; not even in his professional labours showing a strong ambition, but yielding with epicurean indolence the palm of superiority to his young rival; still less in his home life and leisure moments pursuing like Cicero his self-culture to develop his own nature and enrich the minds and literature of his countrymen, but regaling himself at luxurious banquets in sumptuous villas, decked with everything that could delight the eye or charm the fancy; preserving herds of deer, wild swine, game of all sorts for field and feast; stocking vast lakes with rare and delicate fish, to which this brilliant epicure was so attached that on the death of a favourite lamprey he shed tears; buying the costliest of pictures, statues, and embossed works; and furnishing a cellar which yielded to his unworthy heir 10,000 casks of choice Chian wine. When we read the pursuits in which Hortensius spent his time, we cannot wonder that he was soon overshadowed; the stuff of the Roman was lacking in him, and great as were his talents, even they, as Cicero justly remarks, were not calculated to insure a mature or lasting fame. They lay in the lower sphere of genius rather than the higher; in a bright expression, a deportment graceful to such a point that the greatest actors studied from him as he spoke; in a voice clear, mellow, and persuasive; in a memory so prodigious that once after being present at an auction and challenged to repeat the list of sale, he recited the entire catalogue without hesitation, like the sailor the points of his compass, backwards. As a consequence he was never at a loss. Everything suggested itself at the right moment, giving him no anxiety that might spoil the ease of his manner and his matchless confidence; and if to all this we add a copiousness of expression and rich splendour of language exceeding all that had ever been heard in Rome, the encomiums so freely lavished on him by Cicero both in speeches and treatises, hardly seem exaggerated.
There are few things pleasanter in the history of literature than the friendship of these two great men, untinctured, at least on Hortensius's part, by any drop of jealousy; and on Cicero's, though now and then overcast by unworthy suspicions, yet asserted afterwards with a warm generosity and manly confession of his weakness which left nothing to be desired. Though there were but eight years between them, Hortensius must be held to belong to the older period, since Cicero's advent constitutes an era.
The chief events in the life of Hortensius are as follows. He served two campaigns in the Social War (91 B.C.), but soon after gave up military life, and took no part in the civil struggles that followed. His ascendancy in the courts dates from 83 B.C. and continued till 70 B.C. when Cicero dethroned him by the prosecution of Verres. Hortensius was consul the following year, and afterwards we find him appearing as advocate on the senatorial side against the self-styled champions of the people, whose cause at that time Cicero espoused (e.g. in the Gabinian and Manilian laws). When Cicero, after his consulship (63 B.C.), went over to the aristocratic party, he and Hortensius appeared regularly on the same side, Hortensius conceding to him the privilege of speaking last, thus confessing his own inferiority. The party character of great criminal trials has already been alluded to, and is an important element in the consideration of them. A master of eloquence speaking for a senatorial defendant before a jury of equites, might hope, but hardly expect, an acquittal; and a senatorial orator, pleading before jurymen of his own order needed not to exercise the highest art in order to secure a favourable hearing. It has been suggested  that his fame is in part due to the circumstance, fortunate for him, that he had to address the courts as reorganised by Sulla. The coalition of Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus (60 B.C.), sometimes called the first Triumvirate, showed plainly that the state was near collapse; and Hortensius, despairing of its restitution, retired from public life, confining himself to the duties of an advocate, and more and more addicting himself to refined pleasures. The only blot on his character is his unscrupulousness in dealing with the judges. Cicero accuses him  of bribing them on one occasion, and the fact that he was not contradicted, though his rival was present, makes the accusation more than probable. The fame of Hortensius waned not only through Cicero's superior lustre, but also because of his own lack of sustained effort. The peculiar style of his oratory is from this point of view so ably criticised by Cicero that, having no remains of Hortensius to judge by, we translate some of his remarks. 
“If we inquire why Hortensius obtained more celebrity in his youth than in his mature age, we shall find there are two good reasons. First because his style of oratory was the Asiatic, which is more becoming to youth than to age. Of this style there are two divisions; the one sententious and witty, the sentiments neatly turned and graceful rather than grave or sedate: an example of this in history is Timaeus; in oratory during my own boyhood there was Hierocles of Alabanda, and still more his brother Menecles, both whose speeches are, considering their style, worthy of the highest praise. The other division does not aim at a frequent use of pithy sentiment, but at rapidity and rush of expression; this now prevails throughout Asia, and is characterised not only by a stream of eloquence but by a graceful and ornate vocabulary: Aeschylus of Cnidos, and my own contemporary Aeschines the Milesian, are examples of it. They possess a fine flow of speech, but they lack precision and grace of sentiment. Both these classes of oratory suit young men well, but in older persons they show a want of dignity. Hence Hortensius, who excelled in both, obtained as a young man the most tumultuous applause. For he possessed that strong leaning for polished and condensed maxims which Menecles displayed; as with whom, so with Hortensius, some of these maxims were more remarkable for sweetness and grace than for aptness and indispensable use; and so his speech, though highly strung and impassioned without losing finish or smoothness, was nevertheless not approved by the older critics. I have seen Philippus hide a smile, or at other times look angry or annoyed; but the youths were lost in admiration, and the multitude was deeply moved. At that time he was in popular estimation almost perfect, and held the first place without dispute. For though his oratory lacked authority, it was thought suitable to his age; but when his position as a consular and a senator demanded a weightier style, he still adhered to the same; and having given up his former unremitting study and practice, retained only the neat concise sentiments, but lost the rich adornment with which in old times he had been wont to clothe his thoughts.”
The Asiatic style to which Cicero here alludes, was affected, as its name implies, by the rhetoricians of Asia Minor, and is generally distinguished from the Attic by its greater profusion of verbal ornament, its more liberal use of tropes, antithesis, figures, &c. and, generally, by its inanity of thought. Rhodes, which had been so well able to appreciate the eloquence of Aeschines and Demosthenes, first opened a crusade against this false taste, and Cicero (who himself studied at Rhodes as well as Athens) brought about a similar return to purer models at Rome. The Asiatic style represents a permanent type of oratorical effort, the desire to use word-painting instead of life-painting, turgidity instead of vigour, allusiveness instead of directness, point instead of wit, frigid inflation instead of real passion. It borrows poetical effects, and heightens the colour without deepening the shade. In Greece Aeschines shows some traces of an Asiatic tendency as contrasted with the soberer self-restraint of Demosthenes. In Rome Hortensius, as contrasted with Cicero, and even Cicero himself, according to some critics, as contrasted with Brutus and Calvus,—though this charge is hardly well-founded,—in France Bossuet, in England Burke, have leaned towards the same fault.
We have now traced the history of Roman Oratory to the time of Cicero, and we have seen that it produces names of real eminence, not merely in the history of Rome, but in that of humanity. The loss to us of the speeches of such orators as Cato, Gracchus, Antonius, and Crassus is incalculable; did we possess them we should be able form a truer estimate of Roman genius than if we possessed the entire works of Ennius, Pacuvius, or Attius. For the great men who wielded this tremendous weapon were all burgesses of Rome, they had all the good and all the bad qualities which that name suggests, many of them in an extraordinary degree. They are all the precursors, models, or rivals of Cicero, the greatest of Roman orators; and in them the true structure of the language as well as the mind of Rome would have been fully, though unconsciously, revealed. If the literature of a country be taken as the expression in the field of thought of the national character as pourtrayed in action, this group of orators would be considered the most genuine representative of Roman literature. The permanent contributions to human thought would indeed have been few: neither in eloquence nor in any other domain did Rome prove herself creative, but in eloquence she at least showed herself beyond expression masculine and vigorous. The supreme interest of her history, the massive characters of the men that wrought it, would here have shown themselves in the working; men whose natures are a riddle to us, would have stood out, judged by their own testimony, clear as statues; and we should not have had so often to pin our faith on the biassed views of party, or the uncritical panegyrics of school-bred professors or courtly rhetoricians. The next period shows us the culmination, the short bloom, and the sudden fall of national eloquence, when with the death of Cicero the “Latin tongue was silent,”  and as he himself says, clamatores not oratores were left to succeed him.