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That thy voice and thy thirst at a time thou may'st
slake, We entreat from the glass of old Chronus thou’dst take."
MARK ANTONY, THE CONSUL. It was owing to Mark Antony, according to the testimony of Cicero, that Rome could boast of being a rival to Greece in the art of eloquence.
One of the most remarkable of his pleadings was that in favour of Marcus Aquilius. He moved the judges in so sensible a manner by the tears he shed, and the scars he showed on the breast of his client, that he procured his acquittal.
He would never publish any of his speeches, that he might not, as he said, be proved to say in one cause, what might be contrary to what he should advance in another.
He was unfortunately killed during those bloody commotions which arose out of the contentions of Marius and Cinna. He was discovered in a secret hiding place to which he had filed, and soldiers were sent to dispatch him; but he supplicated their forbearance in so eloquent a manner, that the only man who had the cruelty to kill him, was one who had not heard his discourse.
CICERO. A law made by Otho for the assignment of separate seats in the theatres to the equestrian order, gave great offence to the Roman peo Otho, on coming into the theatre one night, was received by the popu.
lace with an universal hiss; but by the knights with loud applauses. From clamour and reproaches, the parties were proceeding to blows ; when Cicero, informed of the tumult, hastened to the theatre, and calling the people out into the temple of Bellona, so tamed and stung them by the power of his words, and made them so ashamed of their folly and perverseness, that on their return to the theatre, they vied with the
ights in testifying their respect for Otho. In this speech, which was published, he reproached the rioters for their want of taste and good sense, in inaking such a disturbance while Roscius was acting. This memorable instance of Cicero's command over men's passions, is supposed to be alluded to in that beautiful passage of Virgil, thus translated by Pitt:
“And when sedition fires th'ignoble crowd,
HORTENSIUS. “The genius of Hortensius,” says Cicero, “like the statue of Phidias, had only to be seen in order to be admired.”
For a long time he was the reigning orator in Rome, and was popularly style the of the Forum.
Hortensius was rendered, however, more remarkable He
by one single defeat, than by all his triumphs. was employed as advocate for C. Verres, in the celebrated prosecution instituted against him for his conduct in the government of Sicily ; but was so confounded by the admirable speech in which Cicero fulminated his charges of injustice, rapine, and cruelty, against the guilty orator, that he felt all his powers of speech taken from him, and threw up the case of his client without saying a word in his defence. Verres, equally confounded with his advocate, did not wait for sentence being pronounced, but instantly fled into exile, where he died some years afterwards, forgotten and deserted by all his friends.
HORTENSIA. The daughter of Hortensius inherited the eloquence of her father; and when the Roman women were required to render on oath an account of their property, preparatory to a heavy tax, she pleaded the cause of her sex with such force, that the decree was annulled. The harangue which she delivered on this occasion before the triumvirs, Antony Octavius, and Lepidus, was extant in the time of Quintilian, who speaks of it with great applause.
BOADICEA. in the time of Nero, when the bondage of the Romans became so oppressive, that the Britons were determined to resist, Boadicea animated them to shake it off by an eloquent address, which she concluded in these words : “Let the Romans, who are not better than hares and foxes, understand, that they make a wrong match with wolves and greyhounds.” As she said this, she let a hare out from her lap, as a token of the fearfulness of the Romans. The result of the battle, however, proved that there was more wit than truth in the comparison.
FUNERAL ORATIONS. • Vita enim mortuorum in memoria vivorum est posita.”
The origin of the custom of pronouncing funeral orations over departed worth, is generally ascribed to Valerius Publicola. We are told by Plutarch, that Valerius having honoured the obsequies of his col. league with an eloquent discourse in praise of his many virtues, the Romans were so pleased with the Dovelty, that it became a regular custom ever afterwards to have the characters of their great men illustrated in a funeral oration by the most eloquent among their survivors.
The custom of the Romans has been continued among the Christians; and it is to be wished, that with the custom, we had also borrowed one of the laws by which it was regulated. “It was part of the laws of burial,” says Cicero, “that only honourable men should be honoured with funeral orations."
The shortest, and perhaps also the best, funeral oration extant, is that pronounced by the Earl of Morton over the grave of the iHustrious Scottish reformer, John Knox. “Here lies he who never feared the face of man.
CRILLON-KING CLOVIS. The brave Crillon attending on a Good Friday the public offices of devotion, was so affected by an eminent preacher's delineation of our Saviour's death and sufferings, that laying his hand upon his sword, he cried out in a transport of generous resentment, “Where art thou, Crillon?”
It would be idle to suspect Crillon of plagiarism in his honest anger and mode of venting it. Yet his behaviour was merely a copy of that of King Clovis, on a similar occasion. “Had I been present at the head of my valiant Franks,” exclaimed that monarch indignantly, “I would have redressed his wrongs!”
PETER THE HERMIT. It is difficult to fix limits to human achievements, when superstition or enthusiasm is aided by the power of eloquence. The celebrated Peter the Hermit having made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, towards the close of the eleventh century, was deeply impressed with the oppression sustained by the Christians from the Turks, and resolved to make an effort to rouse the western nations to arms in their behalf. The
appearance of Peter was mean, his stature small, his body meagre, and his countenance shrivelled ; but with these disadvantages, he had a keen and lively eye, and a ready eloquence. Being encouraged by Pope Urban II., he travelled as a missionary through the provinces of Italy and France. He rode on an ass; his head and feet were naked, and he bore a weighty crucifix.