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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 Nature and Art in Oratory
By Quintilian (c. 35–c. 95 A.D.)
From the ‘Institutes’: Translation in Bohn’s Library

I AM aware that it is also a question whether nature or learning contributes most to oratory. This inquiry, however, has no concern with the subject of my work, for a perfect orator can be formed only with the aid of both; but I think it of great importance how far we consider that there is a question on the point. If you suppose either to be independent of the other, nature will be able to do much without learning, but learning will be of no avail without the assistance of nature. But if they be united in equal parts, I shall be inclined to think that when both are but moderate, the influence of nature is nevertheless the greater; but finished orators, I consider, owe more to learning than to nature. Thus the best husbandman cannot improve soil of no fertility, while from fertile ground something good will be produced even without the aid of the husbandman; yet if the husbandman bestows his labor on rich land, he will produce more effect than the goodness of the soil of itself. Had Praxiteles attempted to hew a statue out of a millstone, I should have preferred to it an unhewn block of Parian marble; but if that statuary had fashioned the marble, more value would have accrued to it from his workmanship than was in the marble itself. In a word, nature is the material for learning; the one forms and the other is formed. Art can do nothing without material; material has its value even independent of art: but perfection of art is of more consequence than perfection of material.  1

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