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Hazel Louise Brown*

Alcidamas & Extemporaneous Speech

Isocrates' care and devotion to perfecting his style, and the praise he won as a result of this, and likewise his contemptuous references to other teachers of the time as his inferiors, seem to have drawn upon him the dislike, not only of the Sophists, but even of Aristotle.101

Of the enmity between Isocrates and Aristotle, if enmity there was, we have little means of judging, but the case for the Sophists is admirably set forth by Alcidamas in the first formal defense of extemporary speech extant, the treatise entitled PERI TON TOUS GRAPTOUS LOGOUS GRAPHONTON HE PERI TON SOPHISTON.102

That this tract is a manifesto, not perhaps against Isocrates personally, but against his school, is generally agreed,103 although there is no direct reference to him in the treatise. Alcidamas, being not only the pupil,104 but in the strictest sense the follower of Gorgias, had for his object the cultivation of eloquence that was in part, at least, extemporary. The incessant care, the constant revision, and the intense devotion to style of Isocrates, due in the beginning, doubtless, to his poor voice and lack of self-confidence, were directly at variance with the teachings of the Sophists. Their object was "to teach methodically the art of saying, under all circumstances, something which would pass muster at the time."105 An additional motive for the attack of Alcidamas is suggested by the tradition that Isocrates had once been the pupil of Gorgias.106

There is but slight evidence on which to base the belief that Alcidamas wrote a treatise on rhetoric,107 but his theory is set forth in detail in the extant essay "On the Sophists." The opening thesis is that those who are mere composers of cleverly written speeches "have missed the greater part both of rhetoric and philosophy, and should rather be called poets than Sophists."108 Alcidamas by no means despises writing, but believes that it should be practiced as a "parergon." His case is supported by a series of clearly stated, but not logically connected arguments. In the first place, writing is easier than speaking.109 To speak fittingly at a moment's notice, and with speed and ease, about whatever subject comes up for consideration; to make a speech appropriate to the crisis which calls for speech, and pleasing to one's audience, is a talent which does not belong to every man, nor is it the result of any chance system of training.110 But to write with plenty of time at one's disposal, to correct at one's leisure, to place before one the treatises of preceding sophists and gather arguments therefrom, to imitate things which have been well said, to correct one's writing and make it clear, partly through consultation with friends, and partly by long meditation, this is a task easy even for the untrained.111

And so, since it is easier to write than to speak, the ability to write, naturally is held in less esteem.112

In the second place, there is no doubt that the man who is able to speak well will be able to write well, but no one will be able to speak as a result of his ability to write. For the speakers have learned the more difficult art, and so can readily turn to the simpler, asone who has been used to heavy burdens, can easily carry lighter ones. But the writers have trained themselves in the easier pursuit, and can no more perform the harder task, than can the one who has been used to light burdens carry a heavy weight. So the skillful extempore speaker, if time and leisure be given him, will be a better writer of speeches, but the one who has spent his time in writing, if he turn to extempore speech, will be filled with perplexity and confusion.113

Here Alcidamas shifts his point of view, and from this point on, discusses the advantage that the extempore speaker has with an audience over the man who depends on a written speech.

In daily life there are many opportunities for the speaker, but few for the writer. For often a written speech cannot be brought to perfection until the opportunity for it has passed.114 Besides, elaborately worked out compositions fill the minds of the hearers with distrust and envy, and therefore writers imitate the style of extempore speakers, and are thought to write best when they write least like written speeches.115 Therefore the method of training which leads to ability in extempore speaking ought most to be honored. Some recommend writing part of the speech and extemporizing the rest; but to this, too, there are objections, for the result will be a production in which part appears mean and poor in comparison with the accurate finish of the rest.116

The one who professes to teach others must not be a man who can display his knowledge if he has tablet or manuscript117

in hand, but if deprived of these is no better than the untrained. He must not be one who, if time be given him, can produce a speech, but if he must speak on the sudden, is voiceless, and while he professes to teach the art of speaking, has himself no power to speak.118

Writing, according to Alcidamas, is a hindrance rather than a help to speaking. The mind of the writer who tries extemporary speech moves like a captive newly freed from long-worn bonds, whose limbs, even when at liberty, move in the same way in which they were forced to move when bound.119

Furthermore, it is difficult to learn and remember a written speech, and disgraceful to forget before an audience what one has learned.120 The man who uses written speeches must remember the very words and syllables of his text; the extempore speaker need only have the arguments clearly in mind.121 If one of these should escape him,122 he can pass to the next and still, since the style of his speech is loose, leave no break. If he remembers it later, he can easily prove the point then, but the one who delivers a written speech, is thrown into utter confusion if he forgets.123

The minds of the audience, too, are more favorably disposed to the extempore speaker.124 The man who has written out his speech, speaks either too long or not long enough to suit his audience. The extemporary speaker can adjust the length of his speech to the desire of his hearers.125

The extempore speaker can take advantage of all unforeseen points which appear in the actual progress of the contest. He can catch an argument from his adversary and turn it to his own advantage. The one who is used to written speeches, must either neglect all these opportunities, or else throw his whole oration into confusion and destroy its symmetry.126

Alcidamas, then, would not call these productions speeches, but rather phantoms and shapes and imitations of speeches. Like the statues of men and the paintings of living creatures, they give some pleasure to the sight, but are of no advantage to man in his time of need. At a crisis they are motionless and voiceless like the statues, but extempore speech is vital and like to the living creature.127

At this point Alcidamas stops to justify himself and to explain why he who so praises extemporary speech has descended to writing. He does not, he says, utterly depreciate writing. He has written his treatise, in the first place, in order to show that writing should be practiced as a secondary consideration, and secondly that he might show those people who pride themselves on their ability as writers that after a little labor he can far surpass them.128 Writing he believes useful to a certain extent. It is difficult to remember one's extemporaneous speeches and so tell whether one is improving in the art or not. In written speeches one can see plainly the growth of the soul. Besides, he is anxious to leave some memorial of himself behind.129

The orator may use forethought as regards his argument and arrangement;130 the words should come at the inspiration of the moment131 The accuracy132 of the writer will not compensate for the opportunities he will lose. Therefore the one who wishes to be called a clever orator rather than a competent maker of speeches, who desires rather to be able to seize opportunities than to be an accurate user of words, and prefers the good-will of his audience to their envy, will make the ability to speak extempore the object of his care, and regard writing as an amusement and a secondary consideration.133

This treatise of Alcidamas in its secondary arguments, in some ways strikingly anticipates the views held by the Roman writers on rhetoric, although on the main point they are opposed. He views the question from the common-sense standpoint and his individual conclusions are sound. Unfortunately, however, Alcidamas has directed his polemic against two distinct classes of people, to neither of which all of his arguments apply. Part of his criticisms are aimed at those who write speeches to be read, and part at those orators who are dependent on their manuscripts for their words.

If the treatise is directed against Isocrates, as critics believe,134 it ought to deal primarily with those writers whose speeches were composed to be read, not delivered.135 Alcidamas' statement at the beginning of his work, that his remarks are directed against those who plume themselves on the display of their wisdom through books, and who spend their lives in writing speeches, would surely show that he had Isocrates in mind.136 His description of the author laboriously composing and taking the advice of his friends in revising his speech,137 would fit in perfectly with what we know of Isocrates' practice. Likewise his remarks about the one who professes to teach the art of words, but has himself no power to speak,136 is a good characterization of Isocrates. The further criticisms of the orators who are voiceless except when they have learned a written speech by heart, could not apply to Isocrates or writers of his sort. He never tried to deliver a public speech, nor is there any evidence that he ever taught his pupils to rely solely on their manuscripts.139

Alcidamas claims that the ability to speak well necessarily implies an ability to write well. Since the speakers have been trained for the more difficult task, they can turn readily to the easier one;140 but what can that training have been which the extemporary orator went through?141

Clearly one in which writing played a large part, at least if Alcidamas followed the method of his teacher Gorgias.142

In Gorgias' school, extempore speech was the result, in part at least, of training in writing, and Alcidamas himself admits that writing has some use.143 If a speaker has gained his ability to speak through writing, of course writing will be an easier task to him. Perhaps this is the explanation of Alcidamas' other claim, that it is easier to write than to speak.144

His statement that no one will be able to speak as a result of having trained himself in writing is one which Quintilian later is at great pains to disprove.145

To the orators who wrote their speeches, whoever they may have been, Alcidamas is clearly unfair. He proves the superiority of extemporary speech by attacking exaggerated examples from the other side. The man he sets up as a representative of the non-extemporary orators is one who has spent his life in writing in his study, and is suddenly forced to make an extemporary speech,146 or one who has laboriously written out his speech and learned it by heart, and who is absolutely incapable of saying anything beyond what appears in his written copy.147 The recluse or teacher like Isocrates, suddenly brought from his retirement and forced to make a speech at a moment's notice, of course would be at a loss. So, too, would the man who could do nothing but repeat, parrot-like, a speech he had written.148 Such a man could not, as Alcidamas says,149 take advantage of sudden opportunities for speaking, and if he did forget a part of his speech or tried to insert any new matter,150 would be thrown into utter confusion, but why write an attack on speakers whose failure before an audience would be the clearest proof of their inability to speak? Surely such men could not be taken as representative of the non-extemporary orator in Alcidamas' time. A capable orator must have been one who, while he prepared his speech so far as he could, was still able to extemporize if occasion should require it, and so weave the parts together that one portion would not, as Alcidamas says, seem mean and poor, in comparison with the accurate finish of the rest.151 The statement that the audience looks with distrust and envy upon highly elaborated productions is perfectly true,152 and all who treat of rhetoric have much to say about how the speaker is to disarm the suspicion of the judge and the audience.153 It is likewise true that orators are most successful when their speeches appear to be spontaneous, but this is no reason for assuming that an extemporary speaker is superior to a capable orator who prepares his speeches.154

In Alcidamas' complaint that written speeches are like statues and cannot help one in his time of need,155 he goes back again, to his criticism of speeches to be read. In comparison with a living speaker they are indeed lifeless, and of this disadvantage Isocrates was well aware.156 The comparison, however, need not necessarily be between written speeches and extemporary speakers. It would hold perfectly well between academic essays and the speeches of such an orator as Demosthenes. Even Alcidamas, while proving the superiority of the extemporary speaker, would leave himself a loop-hole of escape. He would allow his speaker to arrange his arguments and the order of his speech; the words ought to be extemporary.157 This might imply much or little in the way of preparation.158

Alcidamas' treatise, then, is a laudation of extemporary speech, first, as compared with orations which are written to be read, and so far, perhaps, aimed at Isocrates; and secondly, against those orators who can speak only if they have written and memorized a speech.159 His arguments against each class are sound, but they will not apply to both classes, nor would they hold against one who could justly be called a good orator, the man who is able to deliver a creditable extemporary speech when necessary, but who realizes that there are occasions which demand a degree of precision and finish which only a written speech can attain.


Notes

101. The almost extravagant praise bestowed on Isocrates by the ancients (such as that found in Cicero, de Or. II, 3, 10; II, 22, 94; Brutus, VIII, 32; Orator, XIII, 40; Quintilian, III, 1, 14; II, 8, 10 is said to have angered Aristotle, who, in his indignation, set up a rival school in which rhetoric should be taught more philosophically (Cicero, de Or. III, 35, 141; Tusc. Disp. I, 4, 7; de Off. I, 1, 4; Orator, XIII; XIX, 62; LI, 172; Quint. III, 1, 14; Numenius ap. Euseb. Praep. Evang. XIV, 6, 9; Sopater and Syrianus ad Hermog. (Rhet. Gr. IV, 298 Walz). Cf. Stahr, Aristotelia, I, p. 63 ff.; II, p. 44 ff..

There is no ill-will toward Isocrates expressed in Aristotle's references to him (Rhet. I, 9, 38; II, 23, 12; III, 17, 10-11; 16; and probably I, 9, 36; I, 2, 7; III, 16, 4 (Cope), but see Quintilian, IV, 2, 32, and Dion. Hal. de Isocr. 18), but critics believe that traces of this rivalry may be found in Isocrates (XII, 20; XV, 258; Ep. V, 3. Cf. Spengel, Trans. Bavar. Acad. Munich, 1851, P. 16 ff.; Teichmuller, opposed by Blass in Bursian-Müller's Jahresbericht XXX, 235.

102. That there existed some historical connection between Plato's Phaedrus, the kata tôn sophistôn of Isocrates, and Alcidamas' attack on written speeches, is practically certain, but any attempt to determine what it was, brings up the vexed question of the relative dates of the Platonic and Isocratean treatises, and thus opens an endless field for discussion.

The Phaedrus may be either earlier or later than the work of Isocrates, according as one regards Phaedrus 269D as an idea imitated and expanded in Isocrates XIII, 14-15, or as Plato's summary of the orator's entire doctrine. Either view can be made to seem probable.

If we admit the obvious parody of the Panegyricus (8) in Phaedrus 267A (but see Süss, p. 20), and that of Isocrates XIII, 17, in the Gorgias (463A), we get the sequence, kata tôn sophistôn, Gorgias, Panegyricus, Phaedrus.

Turning to Alcidamas, we find a passage (12) which may be either a challenge to Isocrates which he answers in Panegyricus 11, or it may be Alcidamas' reply to that passage. Blass thinks, and his view seems probable, that the Panegyricus is a reply to Alcidamas. If, then, we admit the parody of Isocrates in the Phaedrus, the treatises would appear in the order, Alcidamas, Panegyricus, Phaedrus. If one holds the belief that the Alcidamas passage is an answer to Panegyricus 11, Alcidamas would be placed after the Panegyricus.

Cf. Süss, p. 30 ff.; Gercke, Hermes XXXII, 341 ff.; Rhein. Mus. LIV, 404 ff.; Hubik, Weiner Studien XXIII, 234 ff.

The resemblances in Alcidamas to Plato and Isocrates are not sufficient to date him with certainty in relation to either author. Compare Alcid. 2 and 35 with Phaedrus 276D; Alcid. 27-28 with Phaedrus 275D, and Isocrates XIII, 10.

103. Christ, p. 229; Blass II, 327 ff.; Mahaffy, II, 245; Jebb, II, 428. See also Tzetzes, Chil. XI, 672. The authenticity of the treatise is doubted by Sauppe, O. A. II, 156, but Blass (II, 327) conclusively proves the arguments against it inadequate.

104. Quintilian, III, 1, 10; Suidas, s. v. Gorgias; Alcidamas; Eud. Aug. XCIX; Athen. XIII, 592C; Tzetzes, Chil. XI, 746. On Alcidamas see Blass, IV 364, and Vahlen, Der Rhetor Alkidamas, Vienna, 1864.

105. Jebb, II, 40.

106. Dionys. Hal. de Isocr. 1; cf. p. 116 n., 205. If not a pupil of Gorgias, Isocrates had at any rate many Gorgian traits.

107. Plut., Dem. c. 5, 5.

108. 1-2; 12. Both Plato and Isocrates speak of the writer of a finished prose production as a "poet": cf. Plato, Phaedr. 236D: agathon poiêtên (of Lysias) ; 234E; Euthyd. 305B; Legg. IX, 858C. Isocrates, XV, 192; XIII, 15.

109. Cf. Isocrates, IV, ii, where he says that the master of elaborate diction will also be able to write in the simple style. Compare XV. 49

110. 3.

111. 4-5. Cf. Plato, Phaedr. 278D.

112. 5.

113. 6-7.

114. 8-11. It is said of Gladstone: "Mr. Gladstone never wrote a line of his speeches, and some of his most successful ones have been made in the heat of debate and necessarily without preparation." (Quoted by Hardwicke, History of Oratory and Orators, p. 289; cf. also Morley's Life of Gladstone).

115. 12-13. Nowadays people loosely call a speech extemporary if it is not actually read from a manuscript. There seems to be a sort of tacit conspiracy between author and audience so to regard a speech unless it is openly read. The modern feeling is that great oratory ought to be extemporary. According to Jebb (Introd. LXXXII ff.) the Hebraic basis of Christian education is responsible for this.

116. 14. Cicero and Quintilian held exactly the opposite view: Cicero, de Or. 33, 150 ff; Quint. X, 3, 2; I, 1, 28.

Lord Brougham, Inaugural Address (Vol. III, 93) says: "We may rest assured that the highest reaches of the art, and without any necessary sacrifice of natural effect, can only be attained by him who well considers and maturely prepares and oftentimes sedulously corrects and refines his oration. Such preparation is quite consistent with the introduction of passages prompted by the occasion, nor will the transition from the one to the other be perceptible in the execution of a practiced master. I have known attentive and skillful hearers completely deceived in this matter, and taking for extemporaneous, passages which previously existed in a manuscript, and were pronounced without the variation of a particle or a pause. Thus, too, we are told by Cicero in one of his epistles, that having to make, in Pompey's presence, a speech, after Crassus had very unexpectedly taken a particular line of argument, he exerted himself and, it appears, successfully, in a marvellous manner, mightily assisted in what he said extempore, by his habit of rhetorical preparation, and introducing skillfully, as the inspiration of the moment, all his favorite commonplaces, with some of which, we gather from a good-humored joke at his own expense Crassus had interfered ( Ad Att. I, 14)."

If, however, we believe in the rules of avoidance of hiatus, regularity of clauses in a period, etc., to which critics have called attention, we must believe one of two things in the case of the carefully finished productions which the Greeks have left us; either that all such extemporary additions were omitted from the published speech, or, what is more likely, that such additions were carefully revised and polished before the speech received publication.

117. grammateion hê biblion. Biblion here clearly must mean the speaker's manuscript copy of his speech. He has memorized his oration, but lest his memory fail, he brings with him either a tablet containing notes (grammateion), or a copy of his speech to which to refer (0tPVov). Were it not for grammateion, we might take biblion to mean note-book as it does in Ps. Dem. LXI, 2. As it is, it seems necessary to give the word the other interpretation. In the Phaedrus (228B) biblion is the written manuscript of Lysias' speech which Phaedrus consults and learns by heart. In Aristophanes' Birds (973, 977, 980, 986, 989) biblion is the oracle-monger's copy of the collection of oracles which was referred to for checking his quotations. Compare Isocrates V, 21, where Isocrates calls the written speech he sends to Philip to biblion.

Mr. H. Hayman (Journal of Philol. VIII, 123-5) has pointed out that the use of writing-tablets to assist the memory was so well established in Aeschylus' time that they furnish a rather trite metaphor in Prom. V. 789; Coeph. 450; Eumen. 275.

118. 15. For somewhat the same idea see Isocr. XIII, 9; Plato, Protag. 329A.

119. 16-17. Plutarch, de Educat. Puer. 9, uses the same figure. Plutarch advocates no extemporary speech until the child reaches man's estate: cf. p. 47.

120. This, according to M. Sarcey (Recollections of Middle Life, trans. Cary) pp. 10-11, was the fate of Gaston de Saint Valry who forgot his lecture, lost his way among his notes, and so made a failure of his performance.

There is still a prejudice against speeches which are clearly learned by heart. See the epigram on Ward:

"Ward has no heart, they say, but I deny it:
He has a heart, and gets his speeches by it."
        (Bartlett: Familiar Quotations, p. 456).

121. This was M. Sarcey's method in delivering a lecture (Recollections of Middle Life, p. 37). But consider M. Sarcey's advice to a lecturer (p. 56): "You have possessed your memory of the themes from the development of which the lecture must be formed: pick out one f rom the pile, the first at hand, or the one you have most at heart, which for the moment attracts you most, and act as if you were before the public; improvise upon it. Yes, force yourself to improvise. Do not trouble yourself about badly constructed phrases, nor appropriate words--go your way. Push on to the end of the development, and the end once reached, recommence the same exercise, recommence it three times, four times, ten times, without tiring. You will have some trouble at first. The development will be short and meagre; little by little around the principal theme there will group themselves accessory ideas, or convincing facts, or pat anecdotes that will extend and enrich it. Do not stop in this work until you notice that in thus taking up the same theme you fall into the same development, and that the develop

ment with its turns of language and order of phrases fixes itself in your memory."

This is certainly a close approach to verbal preparation. The method of Alcidamas' externporary speaker may have been similar.

M. Sarcey's preparation was quite as thorough as any verbal preparation cf. pp. 47, 49, 51, 146, 147, and Chapter IX, (How a Lecture is Prepared), and as a result of it he gradually acquired great facility (p. 85). So well did he know his lectures that they were easily written out afterwards if needed (p. 195).

W. D. Howells says of Mark Twain: "It was his custom always to think out his speeches, mentally wording them, and then memorizing them by a peculiar system of mnemonics which he had invented" (My Mark Twain p. 59).

On the problem of after-dinner speeches, etc., see Sears, The Occasional Address.

The orator Alcidamas praises may have been such an one as Sears (History of Oratory, p. 398) says Wendell Phillips was: "He usually spoke without notes, as he composed his speeches without pen. This does not mean without preparation. He was always preparing and storing his memory with facts, pursuing fallacies, linking chains of argument that seemed to have no weakest link, gathering anecdotes, culling illustrations that found their own place when and where they were wanted. Above all, for years, he cultivated the habit of thinking on the platform and off, and was never so effective as when apparently the most extemporaneous. His own explanation seems simple enough: "The chief thing I aim at is to master my subject. Then I earnestly try to get the audience to think as I do."

122. According to Quintilian, some object to partition of matter in speeches for this same reason, but Quintilian says that nothing of this kind can happen except to one who is utterly deficient in ability, or who brings to his pleading nothing settled or premeditated (IV, 5, 2).

123. 18-21. There can be no doubt, however, that in the Greek courts the general practice was neither to extemporize solely nor absolutely to be prepared. Compare Quintilian, X, 7, 1-4.

124. Compare Lord Brougham's remarks (Vol. III, 92) : "I am now requiring not merely great preparation while the speaker is learning his art, but after he has completed his education. The most splendid effort of the most mature orator will be always finer for being elaborated with much care. There is, no doubt, a charm in extemporaneous elocution, derived from the appearance of artless, unpremeditated effusion, called forth by the occasion, and so adapting itself to its exigencies, which may compensate for the manifold defects incident to this kind of composition: that which is inspired by the unforeseen circumstances of the moment, will be of necessity suited to those circumstances in the choice of the topics, and pitched in the tone of the execution, to the feelings upon which it is to operate. These are great virtues: it is another to avoid the besetting vice of modern oratory, the overdoing everything, the exhaustive method, which an offhand speaker has no time to fall into, and he accordingly will take only the grand and effective view: nevertheless, in oratorical merit, such effusions must needs be very inferior; much of the pleasure they produce depends upon the hearer's surprise that in such circumstances anything can be delivered at all, rather than upon his deliberate judgment that he has heard anything very excellent in itself."

125. 22-23.

126. 24-26. Alcidamas assumes too much. Any speaker with a reasonable amount of practice could make such additions to his speech.

See what M. Sarcey says of Deschanel: "Did he read? Did he write? Did he extemporize? I believe, indeed, that he employed in turn all three processes which he knew how to mould into a harmonious whole" (p. 53).

Jebb (I, 37) thinks that Alcidamas means in this section that the introduction of commonplaces makes the speech uneven. The unevenness results from the difference between the prepared and the extemporary portions of the speech. The prepared portions need not necessarily be commonplaces. The speech would seem "patch-work :" Horace A. P. 15 ; compare Quint. XII, 9, 15 ff.

127. 27-28. Cf. Plato, Phaedr, 275-276.

128. 29-31. It was perhaps with this purpose in view that Alcidamas wrote his pamphlet in defense of the new Messene (Aristotle, Rhet. I, 13, 3, and schol.; II 23, 1, see Vahlen, p. 491 ff., and especially 504 ff.), which may be contrasted with Isocrates' Archidamus (Curtius [Ward], Hist. Gr. V, 173).

Whenever an orator wished to publish what we should now call a pamphlet, he did not put it in the form of an essay, but in that of a speech purporting to be delivered on a real occasion. Jebb, II, 45 says: "Since the end of the fifth century B. C. a literature of political pamphlets had been coming into existence; writing was now recognized as a mode of influencing public opinion on the affairs of the day. Thrasymachus pleaded for the Larisaeans, as Isocrates for the Plataeans, in a rhetorical pamphlet; in the same way Isocrates attacked, and Alcidamas defended, the new Messene. . . . To Isocrates belongs the credit of trying to raise the dignity and worth, of this intermittent journalism."

On Thrasymachus' pamphlet cf. Sauppe, O. A. II, 162.

In Rome funeral speeches were used for this purpose. Cato's death at Utica called forth quite a literature of its own. Cicero (Plut. Caes. c. 54; Cic. c. 39; Cic. ad. Att. XII 40, 1; XIII, 27, 1; XIII, 46, 2; Orat, X, 35; Tac. Ann. IV 34), M. Brutus (Cic. ad Att. XIII, 46, 2; XII, 21, 1), M. Fadius Gallus (Cic. ad Fam. VII, 24, 2; 25, 1), and Munatius (Plut. Cat. Min. c. 37; Cf. c. 25; Val. Max. IV, 3, 2), wrote in praise of him, and against him wrote Hirtius (Cic. ad Att. XII, 40, 1; 41, 4; 44, 1; 45, 3; 47, 3), Caesar (Suet. Jul. 56; Iuv. VI, 338; Plut. Caes. c. 3; c. 54: Cic. 39; Plin. N. H. VII, 117; Plut. Cat. Min. 36; 52; 54; Plin. Ep. III 12; Cic. ad. Att. XIII, 50, 1; 51, 1; Top. c. 25, 95 ; Quint. III, 7, 29), Metellus Scipio (Plut. Cat Min. 57), and later Augustus (Suet. Aug. 85).

On the pamphlets to which the death of Cato gave rise cf. Wartmann, Leben des Cato von Utica (Zur. 1858), 145,

So there were "laudationes Porciae" by Cicero (ad Att. XIII, 37, 3; 48, 2) which was carefully revised, M. Varro and Lollius (Cic. ad Att. XIII, 48, 2).

On the possibility that the "laus Catonis" of Cicero may have been, partially at least, in verse, see Philologus, XLII, 181.

129. 32. "Res scripta manet."

130. But compare Longinus, Ars Rhet. (Rhet. Gr. I, 318, 14, Sp.)

131. Quintilian (IX, 4, 3) says that if only language such as happens to present itself is to be used, the whole art of oratory is at an end, and this is true in a certain sense. However, Alcidamas' idea may not have differed so very much from the "praeceptum paene divinum" attributed to Cato (Iulius Victor Ars. Rhet. p. 197, O), "rem tene, verba sequentur." This idea is often found as well in modern writers as in those of ancient times: Cicero de Or. I, 6, 20; II, 34, 146; III, 3, 125; Orat. XXXIV, 119; de Fin. III, 5; Horace, A. P. 40-41; 311; Quint. VIII, praef. 21; 28-30; Dionys. Hal. de Isocr. c. 13; Seneca, Cont. III, Proem.

Blair, Lecture XIX (Vol. II, 51). Montaigne (I, 195, ed. Cotton) says: "Let but our pupil be well furnished with things, words will follow but too fast; he will pull them after him if they do not voluntarily follow."

Milton says: "True eloquence I find to be none but the serious and hearty love of truth; and that whose mind soever is fully possessed with a fervent desire to know good things, and with the dearest charity to infuse the knowledge of them into others, when such a man would speak, his words, by what I can express, like so many nimble and airy servitors, trip about him at command, and in well-ordered files, as he would wish, fall aptly into their places."

132. akribeia. The word is used of the exactness and high finish of style of written speeches. Cf. Aristotle, Rhet. III, 12, 5 (with Cope's note), Philostratus (Vit. Soph. II, 9, p. 581) contrasts it with to schediazein. Cf. also Grant's note on Aristotle, Eth. Nic. I, 7, 18.

The word seems to be used at times in two different senses:

1. As opposed to mere slovenliness and effusiveness of style: accurate and clear; Isocr. V, 4: akribôs kai katharôs; V, I55; cf. also Plato, Phaedr. 234E.

2. Of a highly finished style as opposed to one which avoids ornament, like that of Lysias, for example, which is yet a highly finished style from one point of view. Isocrates uses it in this sense in IV, 11, where akribôs, as contrasted with haplôs means epideiktikôs. Cf. also IX, 73.

The akribeia of the Alcidamas passage might, of course, be the simple accuracy of the Lysias type of speech, but if we admit that Alcidamas had Isocrates in mind as he wrote, it is more probable that the word meant for him the high finish of the epideiktikos logos. In the Pseudo-Dem. Erotica, 61, 2, there is the same contrast: orations for oral delivery are to be written in a simple style (haplôs), like what one would say on the spur of the moment; those which are designed for a permanence should be epideiktikôs.

133. 33-35. Cf. Plato, Phaedr. 276D.

134. Cf. Tzetzes, Chil. XI, 672; Spengel, pp, 173-180; Gercke, A.: die alte Technê rhêtorikê und ihre Gegner (Hermes, XXXII [1897] 341-81), and Isokrates XIII and Alkidamas (Rhein. Mus. LIV [1899] 404-13). Against this view see Hubik J.: Alkidarnas oder Isokrates (Weiner Stud. XXIII [1901] 209-12; cf. Reinhardt, C.: de Isocratis aemulis, (Bonn, 1873); Mahaffy, II, 246; Blass, II p. 22 ff.; 240-22. See, however Süss on Alcidamas.

135. The title of the treatise, peri tôn tous graptous logous graphontôn, would seem to imply that Alcidamas had this class of written speeches in mind.

136. 1-2.

137. 4-5.

138. 15; cf. also Pseudo-Plutarch 838E.

139. How far Isocrates' pupils did commit to memory is uncertain. Their productions were subjected to careful revision by the master (Cf. p. 2.1). The stress Isocrates lays on the cultivation of the memory (cf. n. 86), might imply that in the end the revised speech was memorized. Even if this were the case Isocrates doubtless also trained his pupils to take advantage of unforeseen opportunities.

140. This is, of coarse, a pure fallacy. Learning a more difficult subject may make it easier to learn an easier one. Certain branches of higher mathematics are more difficult than certain languages, but it by no means follows that the one who knows the mathematics can speak the languages.

141. Alcidamas himself says (6) that the ability to speak extempore is the result of no chance method of training.

142. On the method of Gorgias see p. 11. Also Süss Ethos pp. 17-59; Scheel. E.: de Gorgianae disciplinae vestigiis (Rostock, 1890).

143. 30.

144. 3. Cf. the dictum of Epicures, that writing entails no trouble: to gar houk epiponou tou graphein ontos, hôs autos Epikouros legei, which Dionysius of Halicarnassus strongly condemns (de Comp. Verb. c. 24 fin.). That depends upon what sort of writing or speaking one does. It is a question of how well one does either.

145. Cf. Quintilian, X, 3, 2; I, 1, 28; X, 7, 12; also Cicero, de Or. 1, 33, 150 ff.

146. 8.

147. Alcidamas seems to have in mind chiefly the speakers in the assemblies and law-courts (9; 11; 13; 24). In the latter, very often the speeches delivered must have been recited by another than the author, but Alcidamas does not seem to have considered the case of the man who has purchased a written speech, unless section 13 be a possible reference. Such a speech must be memorized in order to keep within the letter of the law which declared that each citizen must make his own defense (cf. p. 80 n. 54). Plutarch (de Garrulitate, 5) tells the following story: "Lysias wrote a defense for some accused person and gave it to him, and after he had read it (anagnous) several times, he came to Lysias in great dejection and said: "When I first read this defense, it seemed to me wonderful, but when I read it a second and a third time it seemed utterly dull and ineffective." Then Lysias laughed and said: "What then? Are you going to recite it (melleis legein) more than once to the jury?"

According to Liddell and Scott, legô never means read, but always recite. Even in such phrases as labe to biblion kai lege, they believe that lege means recite what is written. In the Plutarch passage the distinction is clear between the man's reading the speech to himself, and his reciting it to the jury after he has memorized it, but in the directions of an orator to the clerk, when decrees or laws clearly are read, it is difficult to keep such a distinction; cf. Dem. XVIII, 28 37, 39, 53, 73, 75, 76, 83, 89, 92, 105, 115, 118, 120, 154, 155, 156, I63, 180, 212, 214, 217, 221, 222, 267, 289. 305; XIX, 32, 38, 40, 47, 51, 61, 62, 63, 70, 86 130, 154, 161, 162, 168, 170, 200, 214, and elsewhere.

148. Alcidamas does not seem to have contemplated the possibility of an orator having practiced a speech, and yet being able to extemporize if necessary. He harps continually on the "written" speech and uses no word which could be taken to mean an oration practiced, and yet such that it will not suffer from necessary extemporary interpolations. According to Alcidamas, if a man writes a speech, it follows that he must depend on it word for word.

If other advantages are equal, the best writer is apt to be the best speaker, but an inferior writer would have the advantage on the platform if he possessed a good voice and an attractive personality. Ulpian (in Dem. c. Timocr. 822) says that Demosthenes, when he was asked whether he or Callistratus of Aphidnae were the better speaker, answered: egô men graphomenos, Kallistratos dê akoumenos (Jebb, I, LXIV). It was precisely because Isocrates did not possess these other abilities that he failed as a speaker.

149. 9 ff.

150. 21. Plutarch, de Educat. Puer. c. 9, would allow extemporary speech as emergencies call for it, but believes that it should be used only as one would take medicine, i. e. occasionally and sparingly.

151. 14. David Hume in An Essay on Eloquence (Essay XII of Essays Moral, Political, and Literary)' says: "It is true there is a great prejudice against set speeches; and a man cannot escape ridicule who repeats a discourse as a schoolboy does his lesson, and takes no notice of anything that has been advanced in the course of the debate. But where is the necessity of falling into this absurdity? A public speaker must know beforehand the question under debate. He may compose all the arguments, objections, and answers such as he thinks will be most proper for his discourse. If anything new occur, he may supply it from his own invention; nor will the difference be very apparent between his elaborate and his extemporary compositions. The mind naturally continues with the same force which it has acquired by its motion; as a vessel, once impelled by the oars, carries on its course for some time, when the original impulse is suspended."

For exactly the same figure see Cicero, de Or. I, 33, 150, p. 55.

152. 22-23.

153. The idea that the judge and the audience are suspicious of a finished speech and that the suspicion of the judge may be disarmed and the good will of the audience gained by seeming to speak without preparation, very frequently occurs in the writings of the ancients: Alcidamas 12-13, 22-23, 33-35; Aristotle, Rhet. III, 14, 7; Cicero, de Invent. I, 15, 20; Quintilian, IV, I. 5; 8-9; 37-39; 54; 56-58; IV, 2, 126-7; XI, 2, 47; XI, 3, I57-8; Anaximenes, Ars Rhet. c. 36 (Rhet. Gr. I, 229 Sp.) , Hermogenes (Rhet. Gr. II, 440; 441, 28 Sp.);

Philostratus, Vit. Apoll. VIII, 6, 1; cf. Sarcey, p. 161.

A profession of weakness, inexperience or inferiority in ability to the other side, according to Quintilian (IV, 1, 8-9) allays the suspicion of the judge. Of this there are many examples: Antiphon, de caede Herod. 1; Tetral. II, 2, 1; Lysias, XVI, 20-21; XII, 1-3 ; Ps.-Lys. Epitaph.1-3 ; Dem. XLI, 2; Ps-Dem. LVIII, 2; 58; 60; LIX, 14; Isaeus VIII, 5; IX, 35; X, 1, Cicero, Pro Quint. and Pro Arch. (beginning) ; cf. Quint. XI, I, 19-20, and elsewhere. Cf. Mathews, p. 208 ff.

Attempts are often made by one side to arouse the envy and jealousy of the judges against the other: Lys. XX, 23, Isocr. VII, 35; XVIII, 48; 60; Dem. XXVIII, 2; 7; 24; 45-66; Ps. Dem. XLII, 23; LVIII, 41; Isaeus, VIII. 39, 5 ; 35, 2: .Aesch. I, 101; Lycur. Adv. Leocr. 10, 32 ; Din. I, 70.

The hearers are told that the effect of the orator's speech depends on their good-will and sympathy: Dem. XVIII, 277; XIX, 340; Ps. Dem. Epitaph. 13; Plut. comp Dem.-Cic. II, and elsewhere.

There was a technical term for the attempts of an orator to render his hearers or the judge favorably disposed toward him: proparascheuê or praeparatio; Tac. Dial. c. 19, 11 (with Gudeman's note)'; compare Quint. IV, 1, 62; 72 ; 2, 26; VII, 10, 12.

Isocrates (IV, 13) attacks those who seek to mollify their hearers by "alleging either that they have had to make their preparations off hand (ex hypoguiou), or that it is difficult to find words adequate to the greatness of their subject matter".

The phrase ex hypoguiou is interpreted by autoschediazein by the Scholiast on Aristophanes' Clouds 145, and by Suidas, s. v. ex hypoguou. According to Kühner (Gr. Gram. sec. 523) ex hypoguiou = ek tou parachrêma. Cf. ek cheiros, off-hand (Polybius), ex aprosdokêtou, ex etoimou and ek tou phaneou (Isocr. IV, 147). Other passages in which the phrase or an allied expression occurs are Arist. Rhet. I, 1, 7; II, 22, 11; Pol. VII (VI), 8, 1321b 17; Xen. Cyr. VI, 1, 43; Plato, Menex. 235c Isocr. XVIII 29; XV, 4; Ep. VI, 3; Longin. (?) de Sublim. XVIII, 2; XXXII, 3; C. 1. 2250, 7, and elsewhere.

For the equivalent phrase ek tou parachrêma, parachrêma, etc., see Plato, Crat. 399D; Rep. 455A; Menex. 236B; Polit. 310C; Plut. Mor. 6C; Dem. I,1 ; XXXVII, 47; Ps. Dem. LXI, 2, and elsewhere. Ek tou prostucontos and autothen occur in Plut. Mor, 407B and elsewhere.

154. An orator might be fully capable of extemporizing an address and still prefer to prepare. M.. Sarcey (p. 45) tells an anecdote of M. Leon Say who had prepared a lecture and as he was stepping on the platform received an order from the government to change his subject. He thereupon delivered an extemporary lecture with great success. Emerson (Essay on Eloquence) tells of Lord Ashley's being unable on one occasion to deliver a premeditated speech, and his finally drawing an eloquent argument from his own confusion.

155. 27 ff. Cf. Plato, Phaedr. 275-6.

156. Isocr. V, 25-26.

157. 33.

158. Of course the preparation need not necessarily be verbal. Still, if an orator spent much time on the arrangement of his arguments he would unconsciously fall into using certain sequences of words which would again recur with the argument. Cf. Sarcey, quoted in n. 121 p. 31. The result is practically memorization.

159. There are amusing stories in Quintilian of those orators who cannot alter the fashion of their speeches, into which they have introduced passages for effect which sometimes fail to produce it: VI, 1, 42-43; VI, 3. 39-40. Also Cicero pro Cluent. 21. Compare Goldwin Smith, Reminiscences, pp. 405-6: "The average of speaking, however, in America, both in Congress and elsewhere, is far higher than it is in England. Rhetoric and elocution are parts of American education . . . . . . The training, however, has one bad result, the orator seldom gets rid of the air of speaking for effect. The great English orators, nature's elect and pupils, such as Gladstone and Bright, speak in the accent of nature and to the heart, though practice in debating societies had marred the freshness of Gladstone's style. I once heard Everett, whose platform oratory was the acme of American art. His language was unimpeachable. But his every word, and not only his every word, but his every gesture, was unmistakably prepared. He seemed to gesticulate not only with his hands, but with his legs. He even planned scenic effects beforehand. Having to deliver a Fourth of July oration, he introduced a veteran of 1812, put him in a conspicuous place, and told the old man to rise to him at his entrance into the Hall. The old man did as he had been bidden. Everett apostrophized him with, "Venerable old man, sit down! It is not for you to rise to us, but for us to rise to you." The veteran said afterwards, "Mr. Everett is a strange man; he told me to rise when he came into the hall, and when I did rise he told me to sit down."


Scanned by Agathon for Peithô's Web from Extemporary speech in antiquity, a dissertation, by Hazel Louise Brown , (Menasha, Wis., G. Banta, 1914). The larger work was Hazel Louise Brown's PhD dissertation at the University of Chicago, 1911.

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