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xii TACITUS, ANNALS IV
says : — purus et pressus et, in quantum satis erat, projluens
sermo non defuit, — probably not a bad description of Tacitus'
own oratory. The younger Pliny, who began his career a few
years later, tells us that Tacitus even then was ' in the prime
of renown.' Unfortunately none of his own speeches have
been preserved ; but those which he introduces into his
historical narratives enable us to form some idea of his
rhetorical style ; for we may conjecture that they are com-
posed according to his own method. Moreover, Pliny gives
us this additional piece of evidence. In Epist. ii 11, on his
return from a meeting of the Senate, he writes to one of his
friends : — 'Tacitus spoke with great eloquence and, what is
characteristic of his style, with dignity,' — et, quod eximium
orationi eius inest, a-fixvcos.
The sixth chapter of the Dialogue, which deals with the
secret joys of the orator, reads like a piece of autobiography.
A few words are well worth quoting : — quae in publico species !
quae in iudiciis ueneratio ! quod gaudium eonsurgendi assis-
tendique inter tacentes et in unum conuersos ! uulgata
dicentium gaudia et imperitorum quoque oculis e.vposita per-
censeo : ilia secretiora et tantum ipsis orantibus nota maiora
sunt. ...extemporalis audaciae atque ipsius temeritatis uel
praecipua iucunditas est.
Not only the declamation schools ^ and the practice of
forensic oratory contributed to the formation of the style of
Tacitus. As Ramsay says very well, the rhetorical and
epigrammatic phrases with which Tacitus so often closes a
chapter or a topic are doubtless due to the practice of
recitation. 'We cannot doubt (he continues) that it was in
1 Many of the declaimers never intended to become orators at
all. To such men the course served rather as a literary and
critical education. When they left the schools, they became writers
of epics or history or philosophy, or else the readers to whom such
writers must appeal (Summers, I.e., p. 93).

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