Restraint and Emotion in Cicero’s De Oratore

Author: Fjelstad, Per
Title: Restraint and Emotion in Cicero’s De Oratore
Review/Collection: Philosophy and Rhetoric - Volume 36, Number 1, 2003
Year edition: 2003
Pages: 39-47
Keywords: Éloquence - Eloquenza - Eloquence
Description: [Abstract] In De Oratore Cicero has the revered orator Crassus ask, "Who then is the man who gives people a thrill? whom do they stare at in amazement when he speaks? who is interrupted by applause? who is thought to be so to say a god among men?" (1942a, III.53). Crassus, who is asking his companions to think about emotional energy in speech, goes on, "It is those whose speeches are clear, explicit, and full, perspicuous in matter and language, and who in actual delivery achieve a sort of rhythm and cadence -- that is, whose style I call ’ornate’." Several things are striking about the passage. First, it resolves its inquiry by invoking the concept of ornatus, a word widely used to translate the Greek idea of kosmos (DiLorenzo 1978). Cicero thus refers to a quality that joins the ideas of cosmic order, physical beauty, and earthly power. Second, the passage is delivered in the midst of Crassus’s discussion of the fourth rhetorical canon, that referring to the elaboration of ideas in language, of selecting levels of style and modes of verbal embellishment. Third, the passage ranges across the entire field of rhetorical art, at least as indexed by the scope of the canons. The performative quality directly under discussion, that which gives people a thrill -- initially...
Author initials: Fjelstad 2003