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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
On the Object and Scope of the ‘Institutes’
By Quintilian (c. 35–c. 95 A.D.)
 
From the ‘Institutes’: Translation in Bohn’s Library

WE are to form, then, the perfect orator, who cannot exist unless as a good man; and we require in him, therefore, not only consummate ability in speaking, but every excellence of mind. For I cannot admit that the principles of moral and honorable conduct are, as some have thought, to be left to the philosophers; since the man who can duly sustain his character as a citizen, who is qualified for the management of public and private affairs, and who can govern communities by his counsels, settle them by means of laws, and improve them by judicial enactments, can certainly be nothing else but an orator. Although I acknowledge, therefore, that I shall adopt some precepts which are contained in the writings of the philosophers, yet I shall maintain, with justice and truth, that they belong to my subject, and have a peculiar relation to the art of oratory. If we have constantly occasion to discourse of justice, fortitude, temperance, and other similar topics, so that a cause can scarce be found in which some such discussion does not occur; and if all such subjects are to be illustrated by invention and elocution, can it be doubted that wherever power of intellect and copiousness of language are required, the art of the orator is to be there pre-eminently exerted? These two accomplishments, as Cicero very plainly proves, were, as they are joined by nature, so also united in practice, so that the same persons were thought at once wise and eloquent. Subsequently the study divided itself, and through want of art it came to pass that the arts were considered to be diverse: for as soon as the tongue became an instrument of gain, and it was made a practice to abuse the gifts of eloquence, those who were esteemed as eloquent abandoned the care of morals; which, when thus neglected, became as it were the prize of the less robust intellects. Some, disliking the toil of cultivating eloquence, afterwards returned to the discipline of the mind and the establishment of rules of life, retaining to themselves the better part, if it could be divided into two: but assuming at the same time the most presumptuous of titles, so as to be called the only cultivators of wisdom,—a distinction which neither the most eminent commanders, nor men who were engaged with the utmost distinction in the direction of the greatest affairs and in the management of whole commonwealths, ever ventured to claim for themselves; for they preferred rather to practice excellence of conduct than to profess it. That many of the ancient professors of wisdom, indeed, both delivered virtuous precepts, and even lived as they directed others to live, I will readily admit; but in our own times the greatest vices have been hid under this name in many of the professors: for they did not strive, by virtue and study, to be esteemed philosophers; but adopted a peculiarity of look, austerity of demeanor, and a dress different from that of other men, as cloaks for the vilest immoralities.  1
  But those topics which are claimed as peculiar to philosophy, we all everywhere discuss; for what person (if he be not an utterly corrupt character) does not sometimes speak of justice, equity, and goodness? who, even among rustics, does not make some inquiries about the causes of the operations of nature? As to the proper use and distinction of words, it ought to be common to all who make their language at all an object of care.  2
 
 
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