Cicero's de Oratore and Horace's Ars Poetica

By George Converse Fiske; Mary A. Grant | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
DE ARTE

1.
PHILOSOPHY, RHETORIC, POETICS

Under this somewhat amorphous heading I wish to consider first some of the more important passages in the De Oratore and Orator which seem to prove that Cicero, like his teacher Antiochus (and perhaps Philo), held that these three disciplines formed what we should today call a group of social sciences, indispensable for the formation of the perfect orator. Second, I shall try to show that the same conception of a group of studies lies back of the doctrine of Poetics set forth by Horace in the Ars Poetica, though with characteristic Horatian brevity and reticence.

The importance of this group of studies is presented at great length in the De Oratore by Crassus, who advocates a liberal training for the orator, in which philosophy, and particularly the philosophy of the Academic and Peripatetic schools, is to assume a dominant position. We may properly call Crassus in this respect the mouthpiece of Cicero, for we find Cicero in his own person in the De Oratore I, 9 speaking of philosophy as omnium laudatarum artium procreatrix quaedam et quasi parens. Again Cicero (16) sets forth the wide knowledge required by the orator to perform his manifold functions, scientia rerum plurimarum (17). His judgment as to the broad training required by the orator is summarized thus (20):

Ac mea quidem sententia nemo poterit esse omni laude cumulatus orator, nisi erit omnium rerum magnarum atque artium scientiam1 consecutus: etenim ex rerum cognitione efflorescat et redundet oportet oratio. Quae, nisi res est ab oratore percepta et cognita, inanem quandam habet elocutionem et paene puerilem.

____________________
1
This universal scientia is apparently identical with the copia rerum discussed in book III, 121, 125. Cf. Krollop. cit., Rh. Mus., LVIII ( 1903, pp. 556 ff.

-26-

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