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It is feeling and force of imagination that makes us eloquent.

Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (c. 35c. 100), was a Roman rhetorician. His De Institutione Oratoria was widely referred to in medieval schools of rhetoric and in Renaissance writing.


De Institutione Oratoria (c. 95 AD)[edit]

  • Adeo facilius est multa facere quam diu.
    • So much easier is it to do many things than to do one thing for a long time continuously.
      • Book I, Chapter xii, 7; translation by H. E. Butler
  • Mendacem memorem esse oportet
    • A liar should have a good memory.
      • Book IV, Chapter ii, 91
      • Compare: "Liars ought to have good memories", Algernon Sidney, Discourses on Government, chapter ii, section xv.
  • Primum est igitur ut apud nos valeant ea quae valere apud iudicem volumus, adficiamurque antequam adficere conemur.
    • Accordingly, the first essential is that those feelings should prevail with us that we wish to prevail with the judge, and that we should be moved ourselves before we attempt to move others.
      • Book VI, Chapter ii, line 28; translation by H. E. Butler
  • Quare non ut intellegere possit sed ne omnino possit non intellegere curandum.
    • We should not speak so that it is possible for the audience to understand us, but so that it is impossible for them to misunderstand us.
      • Book VIII, Chapter ii, 24
  • Historia et scribitur ad narrandum non ad probandum.
    • History is written for the purpose of narration and not in order to give proof.
      • Book X, Chapter i, 31
  • Nihil enim rerum ipsa natura voluit magnum effici cito, praeposuitque pulcherrimo cuique operi difficultatem: quae nascendi quoque hanc fecerit legem, ut maiora animalia diutius visceribus parentis continerentur.
    • For it is an ordinance of nature that nothing great can be achieved in a moment, and that all the fairest tasks are attended with difficulty, while on births as well she has imposed this law, that the larger the animal, the longer should be the period of gestation.
  • Pectus est enim quod disertos facit, et vis mentis.
    • For it is feeling and force of imagination that makes us eloquent.
      • Book X, Chapter vii, 15
  • Qui stultis videri eruditi volunt stulti eruditis videntur.
    • Those who wish to appear wise among fools, among the wise seem foolish.
  • Sit ergo nobis orator quem constituimus is qui a M. Catone finitur vir bonus dicendi peritus, verum, id quod et ille posuit prius et ipsa natura potius ac maius est, utique vir bonus.
    • Let the orator whom I propose to form, then, be such a one as is characterized by the definition of Marcus Cato, a good man skilled in speaking. But the requisite which Cato has placed first in this definition—that an orator should be a good man—is naturally of more estimation and importance than the other.
      • Book XII, Chapter i, 1; translation by Rev. John Selby Watson
  • Mutos enim nasci et egere omni ratione satius fuisset quam providentiae munera in mutuam perniciem convertere.
    • For it had been better for men to be born dumb and devoid of reason than to turn the gifts of providence to their mutual destruction.
      • Book XII, Chapter i, 2; translation by H. E. Butler


  • Vain hopes are often like the dreams of those who wake.
    • Perhaps confusion of Book VI, Chapter ii, line 30
      • Similar to Matthew Prior: "For hope is but the dream of those that wake", Solomon on the Vanity of the World, book iii, line 102.
  • Nature herself has never attempted to effect great changes rapidly.
    • Perhaps confusion of Book X, Chapter iii, line 4

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