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With little art, clear wit and sense
Suggest their own delivery.
[Ger., Es tragt Verstand und rechter Sinn,
Mit wenig Kunst sich selber vor.]
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust
(I, 1, 198)
Oratory may be symbolized by a warrior's eye, flashing from under a philosopher's brow. But why a warrior's eye rather than a poet's? Because in oratory the will must pre dominate.
- A.W. Hare and J.C. Hare
It makes a great difference whether Davus or a hero speaks.
[Lat., Intererit multum Davusne loquatur an heros.]
- Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus),
Ars Poetica (CXIV)
Oratory is the power of beating down your adversary's arguments and putting better in their place.
- Samuel Johnson (a/k/a Dr. Johnson) ("The Great Cham of Literature")
The poet is the nearest borderer upon the orator.
- Ben Jonson
The passions are the only orators that always persuade: they are, as it were, a natural art, the rules of which are infallible; and the simplest man with passion is more persuasive than the most eloquent without it.
- Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld, Maxims
The object of oratory alone is not truth, but persuasion.
- Thomas Babington Macaulay,
Essay on Athenian Orators
Thence to the famous orators repair,
Those ancient, whose resistless eloquence
Wielded at will that fierce democratie,
Shook the Arsenal, and fulmined over Greece,
To Macedon, and Artaxerxes' throne.
- John Milton, Paradise Regained
(bk. IV, l. 267)
What the orators want in depth, they give you in length.
- Charles de Montesquieu (Charles-Louis de Secondat)
The capital of the orator is in the bank of the highest sentimentalities and the purest enthusiasms.
- Edward Griffin Parker,
The Golden Age of American Oratory
Besides, as is usually the case, we are much more affected by the words which we hear, for though what you read in books may be more pointed, yet there is something in the voice, the look, the carriage, and even the gesture of the speaker, that makes a deeper impression upon the mind.
[Lat., Praeterea multo magis, ut vulgo dicitur viva vox afficit: nam licet acriora sint, quae legas, ultius tamen in ammo sedent, quae pronuntiatio, vultus, habitus, gestus dicentis adfigit.]
- Pliny the Younger (Caius Caecilius Secundus),
Epistles (II, 3)
When Demosthenes was asked what was the first part of Oratory, he answered, "Action," and which was the second, he replied, "action," and which was the third, he still answered "Action."
- Plutarch, Morals--Lives of the Ten Orators
It is a thing of no great difficulty to raise objections against another man's oration,--nay, it is a very easy matter; but to produce a better in its place is a work extremely troublesome.
- Plutarch, Of Hearing (VI)
Fire in each eye, and papers in each hand,
They rave, recite, and madden round the land.
- Alexander Pope, Prologue to Satires (l. 5)
'Tis remarkable that they talk most who have the least to say.
- Matthew Prior
The orator is the mouth (os) of a nation.
- Joseph Roux
Very good orators, when they are out, they will spit; and for lovers, lacking--God warn us!--matter, the cleanliest shift is to kiss.
- William Shakespeare, As You Like It
(Rosalind at IV, i)
I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts.
I am no orator, as Brutus is,
But (as you know me all) a plain blunt man
That love my friend; and that they know full well
That gave me public leave to speak of him.
- William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
(Antony at III, ii)
Nephew, what means this passionate discourse,
This peroration with such circumstance?
For France, 'tis ours; and we will keep it still.
- William Shakespeare,
King Henry the Sixth, Part II
(Cardinal Beaufort at I, i)
If you did wed my sister for her wealth,
Then for her wealth's sake use her with more kindness:
Or if you like elsewhere, do it by stealth;
Muffle your false love with some show of blindness:
Let not my sister read it in your eye;
Be not thy tongue thy own shame's orator;
Look sweet, spear fair, become disloyalty;
Apparel vice like virtue's harbinger;
Bear a fair presence, though your heart be tainted;
Teach sin the carriage of a holy saint;
Be secret-false: what need she be acquainted?
- William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors
(Luciana at III, ii)
Hear him but reason in divinity,
And, all-admiring, with an inward wish
You would desire the king were made a prelate;
Hear him debate of commonwealth affairs,
You would say it hath been all in all his study;
List his discourse of war, and you shall hear
A fearful battle rend'red you in music;
Turn him to any cause of policy,
The Gordian knot of it he will unloose,
Familiar as his garter; that when he speaks,
The air, a chartered libertine, is still,
And the mute wonder lurketh in men's ears
To steal his sweet and honeyed sentences;
So that the art and practic part of life
Must be the mistress to this theoric;
Which is a wonder how his grace should glean it,
Since his addition was to courses vain,
His companies unlettered, rude, and shallow,
His hours filled up with riots, banquets, sports;
And never noted in him any study,
And retirement, any sequestration
From open haunts and popularity.
- William Shakespeare,
The Life of King Henry the Fifth
(Canterbury at I, i)
Doubt not, my lord, I'll play the orator
As if the golden fee for which I plead
Were for myself--and so, my lord, adieu.
- William Shakespeare,
The Tragedy of King Richard the Third
(Buckingham at III, v)
'Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear,
Or, like a fairy, trip upon the green,
Or, like a nymph, with long dishevelled hair,
Dance on the sands, and yet no footing seen.
Love is a spirit all compact of fire,
Not gross to sink, but light, and will aspire.'
- William Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis
It is the first rule in oratory that a man must appear such as he would persuade others to be: and that can be accomplished only by the force of his life.
- Jonathan Swift
Charm us, orator, till the lion look no larger than the cat.
- Lord Alfred Tennyson,
Locksley Hall Sixth Years After (l. 112)
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