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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database

Quintilian, Institutes Of Oratory, 11.3.19

nan The good qualities of the voice, like everything else, are improved by training and impaired by neglect. But the training required by the orator is not the same as that which is practised by the singing-master, although the two methods may have many points in common. In both cases physical robustness is essential to save the voice from dwindling to the feeble shrillness that characterises the voices of eunuchs, women and invalids, and the mentions for creating such robustness are to be found in walking, rubbing-down with oil, abstinence from sexual intercourse, an easy digestion, and, in a word, in the simple life.

Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

5 results
1. Aristotle, Rhetoric, 2.8 (4th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)

2. Cicero, De Oratore, 3.220 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

3.220. Omnis autem hos motus subsequi debet gestus, non hic verba exprimens scaenicus, sed universam rem et sententiam non demonstratione, sed significatione declarans, laterum inflexione hac forti ac virili, non ab scaena et histrionibus, sed ab armis aut etiam a palaestra; manus autem minus arguta, digitis subsequens verba, non exprimens; bracchium procerius proiectum quasi quoddam telum orationis; supplosio pedis in contentionibus aut incipiendis aut finiendis.
3. Cicero, Orator, 56-60, 55 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

4. Quintilian, Institutes of Oratory, 1.10.31, 1.11.1-1.11.2, 2.5.10, 10.1.105, 11.3.14-11.3.18, 11.3.20-11.3.123, 11.3.128, 12.1.1 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

1.10.31.  It will, however, I think be sufficiently clear from the examples I have already quoted, what I regard as the value and the sphere of music in the training of an orator. Still I think I ought to be more emphatic than I have been in stating that the music which I desire to see taught is not our modern music, which has been emasculated by the lascivious melodies of our effeminate stage and has to no small extent destroyed such manly vigour as we still possessed. No, I refer to the music of old which was employed to sing the praises of brave men and was sung by the brave themselves. I will have none of your psalteries and viols, that are unfit even for the use of a modest girl. Give me the knowledge of the principles of music, which have power to excite or assuage the emotions of mankind. 1.11.1.  The comic actor will also claim a certain amount of our attention, but only in so far as our future orator must be a master of the art of delivery. For I do not of course wish the boy, whom we are training to this end, to talk with the shrillness of a woman or in the tremulous accents of old age. 1.11.2.  Nor for that matter must he ape the vices of the drunkard, or copy the cringing manners of a slave, or learn to express the emotions of love, avarice or fear. Such accomplishments are not necessary to an orator and corrupt the mind, especially while it is still pliable and unformed. 2.5.10.  It will even at times be of value to read speeches which are corrupt and faulty in style, but still meet with general admiration thanks to the perversity of modern tastes, and to point out how many expressions in them are inappropriate, obscure, high-flown, grovelling, mean, extravagant or effeminate, although they are not merely praised by the majority of critics, but, worse still, praised just because they are bad. 11.3.14.  All delivery, as I have already said, is concerned with two different things, namely, voice and gesture, of which the one appeals to the eye and the other to the ear, the two senses by which all emotion reaches the soul. But the voice has the first claim on our attention, since even our gesture is adapted to suit it. The first point which calls for consideration is the nature of the voice, the second the manner in which it is used. The nature of the voice depends on its quantity and quality. 11.3.15.  The question of quantity is the simpler of the two, since as a rule it is either strong or weak, although there are certain kinds of voice which fall between these extremes, and there are a number of gradations from the highest notes to the lowest and from the lowest to the highest. Quality, on the other hand, presents more variations; for the voice may be clear or husky, full or thin, smooth or harsh, of wide or narrow compass, rigid or flexible, and sharp or flat, while lung-power may be great or small. 11.3.16.  It is not necessary for my purpose to enquire into the causes which give rise to these peculiarities. I need not raise the question whether the difference lies in these organs by which the breath is produced, or in those which form the channels for the voice itself; whether the voice has a character of its own or depends on the motions which produce it; whether it be the strength of the lungs, chest or the vocal organs themselves that affords it most assistance, since the co-operation of all these organs is required. For example, it is not the mouth only that produces sweetness of tone; it requires the assistance of the nostrils as well, which carry off what I may describe as the overflow of the voice. The important fact is that the tone must be agreeable and not harsh. 11.3.17.  The methods of using the voice present great variety. For in addition to the triple division of accents into sharp, grave and circumflex, there are many other forms of intonation which are required: it may be intense or relaxed, high or low, and may move in slow or quick time. 11.3.18.  But here again there are many intermediate gradations between the two extremes, and just as the face, although it consists of a limited number of features, yet possesses infinite variety of expression, so it is with the voice: for though it possesses but few varieties to which we can give a name, yet every human being possesses a distinctive voice of his own, which is as easily distinguished by the ear as are facial characteristics by the eye. 11.3.20.  Further, the throat must be sound, that is to say, soft and smooth; for if the throat be unsound, the voice is broken or dulled or becomes harsh or squeaky, For just as the sound produced in the pipe by the same volume of breath varies according as the stops are closed or open, or the instrument is clogged or cracked, so the voice is strangled if the throat be swollen, and muffled if it is obstructed, while it becomes rasping if the throat is inflamed, and may be compared to an organ with broken pipes in cases where the throat is subject to spasms. 11.3.21.  Again, the presence of some obstacle may divide the breath just as a pebble will divide shallow waters, which, although their currents unite again soon after the obstruction is past, still leave a hollow space in rear of the object struck. An excess of moisture also impedes the voice, while a deficiency weakens it. As regards fatigue, its effect is the same as upon the body: it affects the voice not merely at the moment of speaking, but for some time afterwards. 11.3.22.  But while exercise, which gives strength in all cases, is equally necessary both for orators and singing-masters, it is a different kind of exercise which they require. For the orator is too much occupied by civil affairs to be able to allot fixed times for taking a walk, and he cannot tune his voice through all the notes of the scale nor spare it exertion, since it is frequently necessary for him to speak in several cases in succession. 11.3.23.  Nor is the same régime suitable as regards food: for the orator needs a strong and enduring voice rather than one which is soft and sweet, while the singer mellows all sounds, even the highest, by the modulation of his voice, whereas we have often to speak in harsh and agitated tones, must pass wakeful nights, swallow the soot that is produced by the midnight oil and stick to our work though our clothes be dripping with sweat. 11.3.24.  Consequently, we must not attempt to mellow our voice by coddling it nor accustom it to the conditions which it would like to enjoy, but rather give it exercise suited to the tasks on which it will be employed, never allowing it to be impaired by silence, but strengthening it by practice, which removes all difficulties. 11.3.25.  The best method for securing such exercise is to learn passages by heart (for if we have to speak extempore, the passion inspired by our theme will distract us from all care for our voice), while the passages selected for the purpose should be as varied as possible, involving a combination of loud, argumentative, colloquial and modulated utterance, so that we may prepare ourselves for all exigencies simultaneously. 11.3.26.  This will be sufficient. Otherwise your delicate, overtrained voice will succumb before any unusual exertion, like bodies accustomed to the oil of the training school, which for all the imposing robustness which they display in their own contests, yet, if ordered to make a day's march with the troops, to carry burdens and mount guard at night, would faint beneath the task and long for their trainers to rub them down with oil and for the free perspiration of the naked limbs. 11.3.27.  Who would tolerate me if in a work such as this I were to prescribe avoidance of exposure to sun, wind, rain or parching heat? If we are called upon to speak in the sun or on a windy, wet or warm day, is that a reason for deserting the client whom we have undertaken to defend? While as for the warning given by some that the orator should not speak when dyspeptic, replete or drunk, or immediately after vomiting, I think that no sane person would dream of declaiming under such circumstances. 11.3.28.  There is, however, good reason for the rule prescribed by all authorities, that the voice should not be overstrained in the years of transition between boyhood and manhood, since at that period it is naturally weak, not, I think, on account of heat, as some allege (for there is more heat in the body at other periods), but rather on account of moisture, of which at that age there is a superabundance. 11.3.29.  For this reason the nostrils and the breast swell at this stage, and all the organs develop new growth, with the result that they are tender and liable to injury. However, to return to the point, the best and most realistic form of exercise for the voice, once it has become firm and set, is, in my opinion, the practice of speaking daily just as we plead in the courts. For thus, not merely do the voice and lungs gain in strength, but we acquire a becoming deportment of the body and develop grace of movement suited to our style of speaking. 11.3.30.  The rules for delivery are identical with those for the language of oratory itself. For, as our language must be correct, clear, ornate and appropriate, so with our delivery; it will be correct, that is, free from fault, if our utterance be fluent, clear, pleasant and "urbane," that is to say, free from all traces of a rustic or a foreign accent. 11.3.31.  For there is good reason for the saying we so often hear, "He must be a barbarian or a Greek": since we may discern a man's nationality from the sound of his voice as easily as we test a coin by its ring. If these qualities be present, we shall have those harmonious accents of which Ennius expresses his approval when he describes Cethegus as one whose "words rang sweetly," and avoid the opposite effect, of which Cicero expresses his disapproval by saying, "They bark, not plead." For there are many faults of which I spoke in the first book when I discussed the method in which the speech of children should be formed, since I thought it more appropriate to mention them in connexion with a period of life when it is still possible to correct them. 11.3.32.  Again, the delivery may be described as correct if the voice be sound, that is to say, exempt from any of the defects of which I have just spoken, and if it is not dull, coarse, exaggerated, hard, stiff, feeble, soft or effeminate, and if the breath is neither too short nor difficult to sustain or recover. 11.3.33.  The delivery will be clear if, in the first place, the words are uttered in their entirety, instead of being swallowed or clipped, as is so often the case, since too many people fail to complete the final syllables through over-emphasising the first. But although words must be given their full phonetic value, it is a tiresome and offensive trick to pronounce every letter as if we were entering them in an inventory. 11.3.34.  For vowels frequently coalesce and some consots disappear when followed by a vowel. I have already given an example of both these occurrences:— multum ille et terris. 11.3.35.  Further, we avoid placing two consots near each other when their juxtaposition would cause a harsh sound; thus, we say pellexit and collegit and employ other like forms of which I have spoken elsewhere. It is with this in mind that Cicero praises Catulus for the sweetness with which he pronounced the various letters. The second essential for clearness of delivery is that our language should be properly punctuated, that is to say, the speaker must begin and end at the proper place. It is also necessary to note at what point our speech should pause and be momentarily suspended (which the Greeks term ὑποδιαστολὴ and ὑποστιγμὴ) and when it should come to a full stop. 11.3.36.  After the words arma virumque cano there is a momentary suspension, because virum is connected with what follows, the full sense being given by virum Troiae qui primus ab oris, after which there is a similar suspension. For although the mention of the hero's destination introduces an idea different from that of the place whence he came, the difference does not call for the insertion of a stop, since both ideas are expressed by the same verb venit. 11.3.37.  After Italiam comes a third pause, since fato profugus is parenthetic and breaks up the continuity of the phrase Italiam Lavinaque. For the same reason there is a fourth pause after profugus. Then follows Lavinaque venit litora, where a stop must be placed, as pt a new sentence begins. But stops themselves vary in length, according as they mark the conclusion of a phrase or a sentence. 11.3.38.  Thus after litora I shall pause and continue after taking breath. But when I come to atque altae moenia Romae I shall make a full stop, halt and start again with the opening of a fresh sentence. 11.3.39.  There are also occasionally, even in periods, pauses which do not require a fresh breath. For although the sentence in coetu vero populi Romani, negotium publicum gerens, magister equitum,  etc., contains a number of different cola, expressing a number of different thoughts, all these cola are embraced by a single period: consequently, although short pauses are required at the appropriate intervals, the flow of the period as a whole must not be broken. On the other hand, it is at times necessary to take breath without any perceptible pause: in such cases we must do so surreptitiously, since if we take breath unskilfully, it will cause as much obscurity as would have resulted from faulty punctuation. Correctness of punctuation may seem to be but a trivial merit, but without it all the other merits of oratory are nothing worth. 11.3.40.  Delivery will be ornate when it is supported by a voice that is easy, strong, rich, flexible, firm, sweet, enduring, resot, pure, carrying far and penetrating the ear (for there is a type of voice which impresses the hearing not by its volume, but by its peculiar quality): in addition, the voice must be easily managed and must possess all the necessary inflexions and modulations, in fact it must, as the saying is, be a perfect instrument, equipped with every stop: further, it must have strong lungs to sustain it, and ample breathing power that will be equal to all demands upon it, however fatiguing. 11.3.41.  The deepest bass and the highest treble notes are unsuited to oratory: for the former lack clearness and, owing to their excessive fullness, have no emotional power, while the latter are too thin and, owing to excess of clearness, give an impression of extravagance and are incompatible with the inflexions demanded by delivery and place too great a strain upon the voice. 11.3.42.  For the voice is like the strings of a musical instrument; the slacker it is the deeper and fuller the note produced, whereas if it be tightened, the sound becomes thinner and shriller. Consequently, the deepest notes lack force, and the higher run the risk of cracking the voice. The orator will, therefore, employ the intermediate notes, which must be raised when we speak with energy and lowered when we adopt a more subdued tone. 11.3.43.  For the first essential of a good delivery is evenness. The voice must not run joltingly, with irregularity of rhythm and sound, mixing long and short syllables, grave accents and acute, tones loud and low, without discrimination, the result being that this universal unevenness produces the impression of a limping gait. The second essential is variety of tone, and it is in this tone that deliver really consists. 11.3.44.  I must warn my readers not to fall into the error of supposing that evenness and variety are incompatible with one another, since the fault opposed to evenness is unevenness, while the opposite of variety is that which the Greeks term μονοείδεια, or uniformity of aspect. The art of producing variety not merely charms and refreshes the ear, but, by the very fact that it involves a change of effort, revives the speaker's flagging energies. It is like the relief caused by changes in position, such as are involved by standing, walking, sitting and lying, none of which can be endured for a long time together. 11.3.45.  But the most important point (which I shall proceed to discuss a little later) is the necessity of adapting the voice to suit the nature of the various subjects on which we are speaking and the moods that they demand: otherwise our voice will be at variance with our language. We must, therefore, avoid that which the Greeks call monotony, that is to say, the unvarying exertion both of lungs and voice. By this I do not simply mean that we must avoid saying everything in a loud voice, a fault which amounts to madness, or in a colloquial tone, which creates an impression of lifelessness, or in a subdued murmur, which is utterly destructive of all vigour. 11.3.46.  What I mean is this: within the limits of one passage and the compass of one emotion we may vary our tone to a certain, though not a very great extent, according as the dignity of the language, the nature of the thought, the conclusion and opening of our sentences or transitions from one point to another, may demand. Thus, those who paint in monochrome still represent their objects in different planes, since otherwise it would have been impossible to depict even the limbs of their figures. 11.3.47.  Let us take as an example the opening of Cicero's magnificent speech in defence of Milo. Is it not clear that the orator has to change his tone almost at every stop? it is the same face, but the expression is changed. Etsi vereor, iudices, ne turpe sit, pro fortissimo viro dicere incipientem timere. Although the general tone of the passage is restrained and subdued, since it is not merely an exordium, but the exordium of a man suffering from serious anxiety, still something fuller and bolder is required in the tone, when he says pro fortissimo viro, than when he says etsi vereor and turpe sit and timere. 11.3.49.  But his second breath must be more vigorous, since we always speak our second sentence with less timidity, and partly because he indicates the high courage of Milo: minimeque deceat, cum T. Annius ipse magis de rei publicae salute quam de sua perturbetur. Then he proceeds to something like a reproof of himself: me ad eius causam parem animi magnitudinem adferre non posse. 11.3.50.  The next clause suggests a reflexion on the conduct of others: tamen haec novi iudicii nova forma terret oculos. And then in what follows he opens every stop, as the saying is: qui, quocumque inciderunt, consuetudinem fori et pristinum morem iudiciorum requirunt: while the next clause is even fuller and freer: non enim corona consessus vester cinctus est, ut solebat. 11.3.51.  I have called attention to these points to make it clear that there is a certain variety, not merely in the delivery of cola, but even in that of phrases consisting of one word, a variety the lack of which would make every word seem of equal importance. The voice, however, must not be pressed beyond its powers, for it is liable to be choked and to become less and less clear in proportion of the increase of effort, while at times it will break altogether and produce the sound to which the Greeks have given a name derived from the crowing of cocks before the voice is developed. 11.3.52.  We must also beware of confusing our utterance by excessive volubility, which results in disregard of punctuation, loss of emotional power, and sometimes in the clipping of words. The opposite fault is excessive slowness of speech, which is a sign of lack of readiness in invention, tends by its sluggishness to render our hearers inattentive, and, further, wastes the time allotted to us for speaking, a consideration which is of some importance. Our speech must be ready, but not precipitate, under control, but not slow 11.3.53.  while we must not take breath so often as to break up our sentence, nor, on the other hand, sustain it until it fails us from exhaustion. For the sound produced by loss of breath is disagreeable; we gasp like a drowning man and fill our lungs with long-drawn inhalations at inappropriate moments, giving the impression that our action is due not to choice, but to compulsion. Therefore, in attacking a period of abnormal length, we should collect our breath, but quickly, noiselessly and imperceptibly. On other occasions we shall be able to take breath at the natural breaks in the substance of our speech. 11.3.54.  But we must exercise our breathing capacity to make it as great as possible. To produce this result Demosthenes used to recite as many successive less as possible, while he was climbing a hill. He also, with a view to securing fluency free from impediment, used to roll pebbles under his tongue when speaking in the privacy of his study. 11.3.55.  Sometimes the breath, although capable of sustained effort and sufficiently full and clear, lacks firmness when exerted, and for that reason is liable to become tremulous, like bodies which, although to all appearances sound, receive insufficient support from the sinews. This the Greeks call βρασμός. There are some too who, owing to the loss of teeth, do not draw in the breath naturally, but suck it in with a hissing sound. There are others who pant incessantly and so loudly that it is perfectly audible within them: they remind one of heavily-laden beasts of burden straining against the yoke. 11.3.56.  Some indeed actually affect this mannerism, as though to suggest that they are struggling with the host of ideas that crowd themselves upon them and oppressed by a greater flood of eloquence than their throats are capable of uttering. Others, again, find a difficult in opening their mouths, and seem to struggle with their words; and, further, although they are not actually faults of the voice, yet since they arise out of the use of the voice, I think this is the most appropriate place for referring to the habit of coughing and spitting with frequency while speaking, of hawking up phlegm from the depths of the lungs, like water from a well, and expelling the greater portion of the breath through the nostrils. 11.3.57.  But any of these faults are tolerable compared with the practice of chanting instead of speaking, which is the worst feature of our modern oratory, whether in the courts or in the schools, and of which I can only say that I do not know whether it is more useless or more repugt to good taste. For what can be less becoming to an orator than modulations that recall the stage and a sing-song utterance which at times resembles the maudlin utterance of drunken revellers? 11.3.58.  What can be more fatal to any emotional appeal than that the speaker should, when the situation calls for grief, anger, indignation or pity, not merely avoid the expression of those emotions which require to be kindled in the judge, but outrage the dignity of the courts with noises such as are dear to the Lycians and Carians? For Cicero has told us that the rhetoricians of Lycia and Caria come near to singing in their perorations. But, as a matter of fact, we have somewhat overstepped the limits imposed by the more restrained style of singing. 11.3.59.  I ask you, does anyone sing, I will not say when his theme is murder, sacrilege or parricide, but at any rate when he deals with figures or accounts, or, to cut a long story short, when he is pleading in any kind of lawsuit whatever? And if such a form of intonation is to be permitted at all, there is really no reason why the modulations of the voice should not be accompanied by harps and flutes, or even by cymbals, which would be more appropriate to the revolting exhibitions of which I am speaking. 11.3.60.  And yet we show no reluctance in indulging this vicious practice. For no one thinks his own singing hideous, and it involves less trouble than genuine pleading. There are, moreover, some persons who, in thorough conformity with their other vices, are possessed with a perpetual passion for hearing something that will soothe their ears. But, it may be urged, does not Cicero himself say that there is a suggestion of singing in the utterance of an orator? And is not this the outcome of a natural impulse? I shall shortly proceed to show to what extent such musical modulations are permissible: but if we are to call it singing, it must be no more than a suggestion of singing, a fact which too many refuse to realise. 11.3.61.  But it is now high time for me to explain what I mean by appropriate delivery. Such appropriateness obviously lies in the adaptation of the delivery to the subjects on which we are speaking. This quality is, in the main, supplied by the emotions themselves, and the voice will ring as passion strikes its chords. But there is a difference between true emotion on the one hand, and false and fictitious emotion on the other. The former breaks out naturally, as in the case of grief, anger or indignation, but lacks art, and therefore requires to be formed by methodical training. 11.3.62.  The latter, on the other hand, does imply art, but lacks the sincerity of nature: consequently in such cases the main thing is to excite the appropriate feeling in oneself, to form a mental picture of the facts, and to exhibit an emotion that cannot be distinguished from the truth. The voice, which is the intermediary between ourselves and our hearers, will then produce precisely the same emotion in the judge that we have put into it. For it is the index of the mind, and is capable of expressing all its varieties of feeling. 11.3.63.  Therefore when we deal with a lively theme, the flow of the voice is characterised by fullness, simplicity and cheerfulness; but when it is roused to battle, it puts forth all its strength and strains every nerve. In anger it is fierce, harsh and intense, and calls for frequent filling of the lungs, since the breath cannot be sustained for long when it is poured forth without restraint. When it is desired to throw odium upon our opponents, it will be somewhat slower, since, as a rule, it is none save the weaker party takes refuge in such tactics. On the other hand, in flattery, admission, apology or question it will be gentle and subdued. 11.3.64.  If we advise, warn, promise or console, it will be grave and dignified, modest if we express fear or shame, bold in exhortation, precise in argument, full of modulations, suggestive of tears and designedly muffled in appeals for pity, whereas in digression it will be full and flowing, and will have all the resoce that is characteristic of confidence; in exposition of facts or conversations it will be even and pitched half-way between high and low. 11.3.65.  But it will be raised to express violent emotion, and sink when our words are of a calmer nature, rising and falling according to the demands of its the me. However, for the moment I will defer speaking of the variations in tone required by different topics, and will proceed first to the discussion of gesture which conforms to the voice, and like it, obeys the impulse of the mind. Its importance in oratory is sufficiently clear from the fact that there are many things which it can express without the assistance of words. 11.3.66.  For we can indicate our will not merely by a gesture of the hands, but also with a nod from the head: signs take the place of language in the dumb, and the movements of the dance are frequently full of meaning, and appeal to the emotions without any aid from words. The temper of the mind can be inferred from the glance and gait, and even speechless animals show anger, joy, or the desire to please by means of the eye and other physical indications. 11.3.67.  Nor is it wonderful that gesture which depends on various forms of movement should have such power, when pictures, which are silent and motionless, penetrate into our innermost feelings with such power that at times they seem more eloquent than language itself. On the other hand, if gesture and the expression of the face are out of harmony with the speech, if we look cheerful when our words are sad, or shake our heads when making a positive assertion, our words will not only lack weight, but will fail to carry conviction. 11.3.68.  Gesture and movement are also productive of grace. It was for this reason that Demosthenes used to practise his delivery in front of a large mirror, since, in spite of the Greek that its reflexions are reversed, he trusted his eyes to enable him to judge accurately the effect produced. The head, being the chief member of the body, has a corresponding importance in delivery, serving not merely to produce graceful effect, but to illustrate our meaning as well. 11.3.69.  To secure grace it is essential that the head should be carried naturally and erect. For a droop suggests humility, while if it be thrown back it seems to express arrogance, if inclined to one side it gives an impression of languor, while if it is held too stiffly and rigidly it appears to indicate a rude and savage temper. Further, it should derive appropriate motion from the subject of our pleading, maintaining harmony with the gesture and following the movement of the hands and side. 11.3.70.  For the eyes are always turned in the same direction as the gesture, except when we are called upon to condemn or concede something or to express abhorrence, when we shall show our aversion by turning away the face and by thrusting out our hands as though to repel the thought, as in the lines: "Ye gods, such dread calamity avert!" or "Not for me To claim such honour! 11.3.71.  The methods by which the head may express our meaning are manifold. For in addition to those movements which indicate consent, refusal and affirmation, there are those expressive of modesty, hesitation, wonder or indignation, which are well known and common to all. But to confine the gesture to the movement of the head alone is regarded as a fault by those who teach acting as well as by professors of rhetoric. Even the frequent nodding of the head is not free from fault, while to toss or roll it till our hair flies free is suggestive of a fanatic. 11.3.72.  By far the greatest influence is exercised by the glance. For it is by this that we express supplication, threats, flattery, sorrow, joy, pride or submission. It is on this that our audience hang, on this that they rivet their attention and their gaze, even before we begin to speak. It is this that inspires the hearer with affection or dislike, this that conveys a world of meaning and is often more eloquent than all our words. 11.3.73.  Consequently in plays destined for the stage, the masters of the art of delivery design even their masks to enhance the emotional effect. Thus, in tragedy, Aerope will be sad, Medea fierce, Ajax bewildered, Hercules truculent. 11.3.74.  In comedy, on the other hand, over and above the methods adopted to distinguish between slaves, pimps, parasites, rustics, soldiers, harlots, maidservants, old men stern and mild, youths moral or luxurious, married women and girls, we have the important rôle of the father who, because at times he is excited and at others calm, has one eyebrow raised and the other normal, the custom among actors being to turn that side of the face to the audience which best suits the rôle. 11.3.75.  But of the various elements that go to form the expression, the eyes are the most important, since they, more than anything else, reveal the temper of the mind, and without actual movement will twinkle with merriment or be clouded with grief. And further, nature has given them tears to serve as interpreters of our feelings, tears that will break forth sorrow or stream for very joy. But, when the eyes move, they become intent, indifferent, proud, fierce, mild, or angry; and they will assume all these characters according as the pleading may demand. 11.3.76.  But they must never be fixed or protruding, languid or sluggish, lifeless, lascivious, restless, nor swim with a moist voluptuous glance, nor look aslant nor leer in amorous fashion, nor yet must they seem to promise or ask a boon. As for keeping them fully or partially closed while speaking, surely none save an uneducated man or a fool would dream of doing such a thing. 11.3.77.  And in addition to all these forms of expression, the upper and lower eyelids can render service in support of the eyes. 11.3.78.  The eyebrows also may be used with great effect. For to some extent they mould the expression of the eyes and determine that of the forehead. It is by means of the eyebrows that we contract, raise or smooth the latter: in fact, the only thing which has greater influence over it is the blood, which moves in conformity with the emotions that control the mind, causing a blush on a skin that is sensitive to shame, and giving place to an icy pallor under the influence of fear, whereas, when it is under control, it produces a peaceful complexion, intermediate between the two. 11.3.79.  Complete immobility in the eyebrows, as also is excess of mobility or the tendency to raise one and lower the other, as in the comic mask which I mentioned just now: while it is a further blemish if they express a feeling out of keeping with the words we utter. For they show anger by contraction, grief by depression and cheerfulness by their expansion. They are also dropped or raised to express consent or refusal respectively. 11.3.80.  It is not often that the lips or nostrils can be becomingly employed to express our feelings, although they are often used to indicate derision, contempt or loathing. For to "wrinkle the nostrils" (as Horace says), or blow them out, or twitch them, or fret them with anger, or snort through them with a sudden expulsion of the breath, or stretch them wide or push them up with the flat of the hand are all indecorous, since it is not without reason that censure is passed even on blowing the nose too frequently. 11.3.81.  It is also an ugly habit to protrude the lips, open them with a sudden smack, compress them, draw them apart and bare the teeth, or twist them awry to one side till they almost reach the ear, or to curl them in scorn, or let them droop, or allow the voice to escape only on one side. It is also unbecoming to lick or bite them, since their motion should be but slight even when they are employed in forming words. For we must speak with the mouth rather than the lips. 11.3.82.  The neck must be straight, not stiff or bent backward. As regards the throat, contraction and stretching are equally unbecoming, though in different ways. If it be stretched, it causes strain as well, and weakens and fatigues the voice, while if the chin be pressed down into the chest it makes the voice less distinct and coarsens it, owing to the pressure on the windpipe. 11.3.83.  It is, as a rule, unbecoming to raise or contract the shoulders. For it shortens the neck and produces a mean and servile gesture, which is even suggestive of dishonesty when men assume an attitude of flattery, admiration or fear. 11.3.84.  In continuous and flowing passages a most becoming gesture is slightly to extend the arm with shoulders well thrown back and the fingers opening as the hand moves forward. But when we have to speak in specially rich or impressive style, as, for example, in the passage saxa atque solitudines voci respondent, the arm will be thrown out in a stately sidelong sweep and the words will, as it were, expand in unison with the gesture. 11.3.85.  As for the hands, without which all action would be crippled and enfeebled, it is scarcely possible to describe the variety of their motions, since they are almost as expressive as words. For other portions of the body may help the speaker, whereas the hands may almost be said to speak. 11.3.86.  Do we not use them to demand, promise, summon, dismiss, threaten, supplicate, express aversion or fear, question or deny? Do we not employ them to indicate joy, sorrow, hesitation, confession, penitence, measure, quantity, number and time? 11.3.87.  Have they not power to excite and prohibit, to express approval, wonder or shame? Do they not take the place of adverbs and pronouns when we point at places and things? In fact, though the peoples and nations of the earth speak a multitude of tongues, they share in common the universal language of the hands. 11.3.88.  The gestures of which I have thus far spoken are such as naturally proceed from us simultaneously with our words. But there are others which indicate things by means of mimicry. For example, you may suggest a sick man by mimicking the gesture of a doctor feeling the pulse, or a harpist by a movement of the hands as though they were plucking the strings. But this is a type of gesture which should be rigorously avoided in pleading. 11.3.89.  For the orator should be as unlike a dancer as possible, and his gesture should be adapted rather to his thought than to his actual words, a practice which was indeed once upon a time even adopted by the more dignified performers on the stage. I should, therefore, permit him to direct his hand towards his body to indicate that he is speaking of himself, or to point it at some one else to whom he is alluding, together with other similar gestures which I need not mention. But, on the other hand, I would not allow him to use his hands to imitate attitudes or to illustrate anything he may chance to say. 11.3.90.  And this rule applies not merely to the hands, but to all gesture and to the voice as well. For in delivering the period stetit soleatus praetor populi Romani, it would be wrong to imitate Verres leaning on his mistress, or in uttering the phrase caedebatur in medio foro Messanae to make the side writhe, as it does when quivering beneath the lash, or to utter shrieks, such as are extorted by pain. 11.3.91.  For even comic actors seem to me to commit a gross offence against the canons of their art when, if they have in the course of some narrative to quote either the words of an old man (as, for example, in the prologue to the Hydria), or of a woman (as in the Georgus), they utter them in a tremulous or a treble voice, notwithstanding the fact that they are playing the part of a young man. So true is it that certain forms of imitation may be a blemish even in those whose art consists in imitation. 11.3.92.  One of the commonest of all the gestures consists in placing the middle finger against the thumb and extending the remaining three: it is suitable to the exordium, the hand being moved forward with an easy motion a little distance both to right and left, while the head and shoulders gradually follow the direction of the gesture. It is also useful in the statement of facts, but in that case the hand must be moved with firmness and a little further forward, while, if we are reproaching or refuting our adversary, the same movement may be employed with some vehemence and energy, since such passages permit of greater freedom of extension. 11.3.93.  On the other hand, this same gesture is often directed sideways towards the left shoulder: this is a mistake, although it is a still worse fault to thrust the arm across the chest and gesticulate with the elbow. The middle and third fingers are also sometimes turned under the thumb, producing a still more forcible effect than the gesture previously described, but not well adapted for use in the exordium or statement of facts. 11.3.94.  But when three fingers are doubled under the thumb, the finger, which Cicero says that Crassus used to such effect, is extended. It is used in denunciation and in indication (whence its name of index finger), while if it be slightly dropped after the hand has been raised toward the shoulder, it signifies affirmation, and if pointed as it were face downwards toward the ground, it expresses insistence. 11.3.95.  Again, if its top joint is lightly gripped on either side, with the two outer fingers slightly curved, the little finger rather less than the third, we shall have a gesture well suited for argument. But for this purpose the same gesture is rendered more emphatic by holding the middle joint of the finger and contracting the last two fingers still further to match the lower position of the middle finger and thumb. 11.3.96.  The following gesture is admirably adapted to accompany modest language: the thumb and the next three fingers are gently converged to a point and the hand is carried to the neighbourhood of the mouth or chest, then relaxed palm downwards and slightly advanced. 11.3.97.  It was with this gesture that I believe Demosthenes to have commenced the timid and subdued exordium of his speech in defence of Ctesiphon, and it was, I think, in such a position that Cicero held his hand, when he said, "if I have any talent, though I am conscious how little it is." Slightly greater freedom may be given to the gesture by pointing the fingers down and drawing the hand in towards the body and then opening it somewhat more rapidly in the opposite direction, so that it seems as though it were delivering our words to the audience. 11.3.98.  Sometimes we may hold the first two fingers apart without, however, inserting the thumb between them, the remaining two pointing inwards, while even the two former must not be fully extended. 11.3.99.  Sometimes, again, the third and little finger may be pressed in to the palm near the base of the thumb, which in its turn is pressed against the middle joints of the first and middle fingers; at others the little finger is sometimes drooped obliquely, or the four fingers may be relaxed rather than extended and the thumb slanted inwards: this last gesture is well adapted to pointing to one side or marking the different points which we are making, the hand being carried palm-upwards to the left and swept back to the right face-downwards. 11.3.100.  The following short gestures are also employed: the hand may be slightly hollowed as it is when persons are making a vow, and then moved slightly to and fro, the shoulders swaying gently in unison: this is adapted to passages where we speak with restraint and almost with timidity. Wonder is best expressed as follows: the hand turns slightly upwards and the fingers are brought in to the palm, one after the other, beginning with the little finger; the hand is then opened and turned round by a reversal of this motion. 11.3.101.  There are various methods of expressing interrogation; but, as a rule, we do so by a turn of the hand, the arrangement of the fingers being indifferent. If the first finger touch the middle of the right-hand edge of the thumb-nail with its extremity, the other fingers being relaxed, we shall have a graceful gesture well suited to express approval or to accompany statements of facts, and to mark the distinction between our different points. 11.3.102.  There is another gesture not unlike the preceding, in which the remaining three fingers are folded: it is much employed by the Greeks both for the left hand and the right, in rounding off their enthymemes, detail by detail. A gentle movement of the hand expresses promise or assent, a more violent movement suggests exhortation or sometimes praise. There is also that familiar gesture by which we drive home our words, consisting in the rapid opening and shutting of the hand: but this is a commander rather than an artistic gesture. 11.3.103.  Again, there is the somewhat unusual gesture in which the hand is hollowed and raised well above the shoulder with a motion suggestive of exhortation. The tremulous motion now generally adopted by foreign schools is, however, fit only for the stage. I do not know why some persons disapprove of the movement of the fingers, with their tops converging, towards the mouth. For we do this when we are slightly surprised, and at times also employ it to express fear or entreaty when we are seized with sudden indignation. 11.3.104.  Further, we sometimes clench the hand and press it to our breast when we are expressing regret or anger, an occasion when it is not unbecoming even to force the voice through the teeth in phrases such "What shall I do now?" "What would you do?" To point at something with the thumb turned back is a gesture which is in general use, but is not, in my opinion, becoming to an orator. 11.3.105.  Motion is generally divided into six kinds, but circular motion must be regarded as a seventh. The latter alone is faulty when applied to gesture. The remaining motions — that is, forward, to right or left and up or down — all have their significance, but the gesture is never directed to what lies behind us, though we do at times throw the hand back. 11.3.106.  The best effect is produced by letting the motion of the hand start from the left and end on the right, but this must be done gently, the hand sinking to rest and avoiding all appearance of giving a blow, although at the end of a sentence it may sometimes be allowed to drop, but must be quickly raised again: or it may occasionally, when we desire to express wonder or dissent, spring back with a rapid motion. In this connexion the earlier instructors in the art of gesture rightly added that the movement of the hand should begin and end with the thought that is expressed. Otherwise the gesture will anticipate or lag behind the voice, both of which produce an unpleasing effect. 11.3.107.  Some, through excess of subtlety, have erroneously prescribed that there should be an interval of three words between each movement; but this rule is never observed, nor can it be. These persons, however, were desirous that there should be some standard of speed or slowness (a most rational desire), with a view to avoid prolonged inactivity on the part of the hands as well as the opposite fault, into which so many fall, of breaking up the natural flow of their delivery by continual motion. 11.3.108.  There is another still more common error, which is less easy of detection. Language possesses certain imperceptible stresses, indeed we might almost call them feet, to which the gesture of most speakers conforms. Thus there will be one movement at novum crimen, another at Gai Caesar, a third at et ante hanc diem, a fourth at non auditum, a fifth at propinquus meus, a sixth at ad te and others at Quintus Tubero and detulit. 11.3.109.  From this springs a further error, namely, that young men, when writing out their speeches, devise all their gesture in advance and consider as they compose how the hand is to fall at each particular point. A further unfortunate result is that the movement of the hand, which should end on the right, frequently finishes on the left. 11.3.110.  It is therefore better, in view of the fact that all speech falls into a number of brief clauses, at the end of which we can take breath, if necessary, to arrange our gesture to suit these occasions. For example, the words novum crimen, Gaius Caesar, in a sense form a phrase complete in itself, since they are followed by a conjunction, while the next words, et ante hanc diem non auditum, are also sufficiently self-contained. To these phrases the motions of the hand must be conformed, before the speech has passed beyond the calmness of tone on which it opens. 11.3.111.  But when increasing warmth of feeling has fired the orator, the gesture will become more frequent, in keeping with the impetus of the speech. Some places are best suited by a rapid, and others by a restrained delivery. In the one case we pass rapidly one, fire a volley of arguments and hurry upon our way; in the other, we drive home our points, force them on the hearer and implant them in his mind. But the slower the delivery, the greater its emotional power: thus Roscius was rapid and Aesopus weighty in his delivery, because the former was a comic and the latter a tragic actor. 11.3.112.  The same rule applies to the movements. Consequently on the stage young men and old, soldiers and married women all walk sedately, while slaves, maidservants, parasites and fishermen are more lively in their movements. But instructors in the art of gesture will not permit the hand to be raised above the level of the eyes or lowered beneath that of the breast; since it is thought there are grave blemish to lift it to the top of the head or lower it to the lower portions of the belly. 11.3.113.  It may be moved to the left within the limits of the shoulder, but no further without loss of decorum. On the other hand, when, to express our aversion, we thrust our hand out to the left, the left shoulder must be brought forward in unison with the head, which will incline to the right. 11.3.114.  It is never correct to employ the left hand alone in gesture, though it will often conform its motion to that of the right, as, for example, when we are counting our arguments on the fingers, or turn the palms of the hands to the left to express our horror of something 11.3.115.  or thrust them out in front or spread them out to right and left, or lower them in apology or supplication (though the gesture is not the same in these two cases), or raise them in adoration, or stretch them out in demonstration or invocation, as in the passage, "Ye hills and groves of Alba," or in the passage from Gracchus: "Whither, alas! shall I turn me? To the Capitol? Nay, it is wet with my brother's blood. To my home?" etc. 11.3.116.  For in such passages greater emotional effect is produce if both hands co-operate, short gestures being best adapted to matters of small importance and themes of a gentle or melancholy character, and longer gestures to subjects of importance or themes calling for joy or horror. 11.3.117.  It is desirable also that I should mention the faults in the use of the hands, into which even experienced pleaders are liable to fall. As for the gesture of demanding a cup, threatening a flogging, or indicating the number 500 by crooking the thumb, all of which are recorded by writers on the subject, I have never seen them employed even by uneducated rustics. 11.3.118.  But I know that it is of frequent occurrence for a speaker to expose his side by stretching his arm too far, to be afraid in one case of extend eu his hand beyond the folds of his cloak, and in another to stretch it as far as it will go, to raise it to the roof, or by swinging it repeatedly over his left shoulder to deliver such a rain of blows to the rear that it is scarcely safe to stand behind him, or to make a circular sweep to the left, or by casting our his hand at random to strike the standers-by or to flap both elbows against his sides. 11.3.119.  There are others, again, whose hands are sluggish or tremulous or inclined to saw the air; sometimes, too, the fingers are crooked and brought down with a run from the top of the head, or tossed up into the air with the hand turned palm upwards. There is also a gesture, which consists in inclining the head to the right shoulder, stretching out the arm from the ear and extending the hand with the thumb turned down. This is a special favourite with those who boast that they speak "with uplifted hand. 11.3.120.  To these latter we may add those speakers who hurl quivering epigrams with their fingers or denounce with the hand upraised, or rise on tiptoe, whenever they say something of which they are specially proud. This last proceeding may at times be adopted by itself, but they convert it into a blemish by simultaneously raising one or even two fingers as high as they can reach, or heaving up both hands as if they were carrying something. 11.3.121.  In addition to these faults, there are those which spring not from nature, but from nervousness, such as struggling desperately with our lips when they refuse to open, making inarticulate sounds, as though something were sticking in our throat, when our memory fails us, or our thoughts will not come at our call; rubbing the end of our nose, walking up and down in the midst of an unfinished sentence, stopping suddenly and courting applause by silence, with many other tricks which it would take too long to detail, since everybody has his own particular faults. 11.3.122.  We must take care not to protrude the chest or stomach, since such an attitude arches back, and all bending backwards is unsightly. The flanks must conform to the gesture; for the motion of the entire body contributes to the effect: indeed, Cicero holds that the body is more expressive than even the hands. For in the de Orator he says, "There must be no quick movements of the fingers, but the orator should control himself by the poise of the whole trunk and by a manly inclination of the side. 11.3.123.  Slapping the thigh, which Cleon is said to have been the first to introduce at Athens, is in general use and is becoming as a mark of indignation, while it also excites the audience. Cicero regrets its absence in Calidius, "There was no striking of the forehead," he complains, "nor of the thigh." With regard to the forehead I must beg leave to differ from him: for it is a purely theatrical trick even to clap the hands or to beat the breast. 11.3.128.  Stamping the foot is, as Cicero says, effective when done on suitable occasions, that is to say, at the commencement or close of a lively argument, but if it be frequently indulged in, it brands the speaker as a fool and ceases to attract the attention of the judge. There is also the unsightly habit of swaying to right and left, and shifting the weight from one foot to the other. Above all, we must avoid effeminate movements, such as Cicero ascribes to Titius, a circumstance which led to a certain kind of dance being nicknamed Titius. 12.1.1.  I now come to what is by far the most arduous portion of the task which I have set myself to perform. Indeed had I fully realised the difficulties when I first designed this work, I should have considered betimes whether my strength was sufficient to support the load that now weighs upon me so heavily. But to begin with, I felt how shameful it would be to fail to perform what I had promised, and later, despite the fact that my labour became more and more arduous at almost every stage, the fear of stultifying what I had already written sustained my courage through every difficulty. 12.1.1.  The orator then, whom I am concerned to form, shall be the orator as defined by Marcus Cato, "a good man, skilled in speaking." But above all he must possess the quality which Cato places first and which is in the very nature of things the greatest and most important, that is, he must be a good man. This is essential not merely on account of the fact that, if the powers of eloquence serve only to lend arms to crime, there can be nothing more pernicious than eloquence to public and private life alike, while I myself, who have laboured to the best of my ability to contribute something of value to oratory, shall have rendered the worst of services to mankind, if I forge these weapons not for a soldier, but for a robber.
5. Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, 1.10.31, 1.11.1-1.11.2 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

1.10.31.  It will, however, I think be sufficiently clear from the examples I have already quoted, what I regard as the value and the sphere of music in the training of an orator. Still I think I ought to be more emphatic than I have been in stating that the music which I desire to see taught is not our modern music, which has been emasculated by the lascivious melodies of our effeminate stage and has to no small extent destroyed such manly vigour as we still possessed. No, I refer to the music of old which was employed to sing the praises of brave men and was sung by the brave themselves. I will have none of your psalteries and viols, that are unfit even for the use of a modest girl. Give me the knowledge of the principles of music, which have power to excite or assuage the emotions of mankind. 1.11.1.  The comic actor will also claim a certain amount of our attention, but only in so far as our future orator must be a master of the art of delivery. For I do not of course wish the boy, whom we are training to this end, to talk with the shrillness of a woman or in the tremulous accents of old age. 1.11.2.  Nor for that matter must he ape the vices of the drunkard, or copy the cringing manners of a slave, or learn to express the emotions of love, avarice or fear. Such accomplishments are not necessary to an orator and corrupt the mind, especially while it is still pliable and unformed.

Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
apuleius Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
bearing Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
class status Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
delivery, quintilian on Bua, Roman Political Culture: Seven Studies of the Senate and City Councils of Italy from the First to the Sixth Century AD (2019) 289
diet Viglietti and Gildenhard, Divination, Prediction and the End of the Roman Republic (2020) 326
dignitas (dignity) Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
dress, elite Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
dress, imperial Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
dress, masculine Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
dress, orators Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
dress, ordinary Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
dress, philosophers Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
effeminacy Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
etruscan Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
eunuchs Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
gender Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
greeks Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
identity Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
law courts Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
luxuria Viglietti and Gildenhard, Divination, Prediction and the End of the Roman Republic (2020) 326
masculinity Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
morality Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
north africa, roman Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
olympia, recitation at Boeghold, When a Gesture Was Expected: A Selection of Examples from Archaic and Classical Greek Literature (2022) 7
oral performance, of ancient greek texts Boeghold, When a Gesture Was Expected: A Selection of Examples from Archaic and Classical Greek Literature (2022) 7
philosophers Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
portraits, principate Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
quintilian Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248; Viglietti and Gildenhard, Divination, Prediction and the End of the Roman Republic (2020) 326
red-figure vases, to supplement language Boeghold, When a Gesture Was Expected: A Selection of Examples from Archaic and Classical Greek Literature (2022) 7
rhetorical delivery, prescriptive, in antiquity Boeghold, When a Gesture Was Expected: A Selection of Examples from Archaic and Classical Greek Literature (2022) 7
self-fashioning Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
sex Viglietti and Gildenhard, Divination, Prediction and the End of the Roman Republic (2020) 326
silent reading, in ancient greece' Boeghold, When a Gesture Was Expected: A Selection of Examples from Archaic and Classical Greek Literature (2022) 7
slaves Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
tullius Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248
widows Edmondson, Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture (2008) 248