Quintilian

This man is not Quintilian.
This man is not Quintilian.




(ca. 35 — 100) Marcus Fabius Quintilianus was a Roman rhetorician whose twelve-volume rhetoric textbook, Institutio Oratoria, was both influential in his own day and widely used during the Renaissance and Enlightenment.

In his time, Quintilian opposed the recently popularized oratorical style that favored ornate language over the clarity and precision shown by previous generations of orators. A sort of Roman George Orwell, he advocated returning to a simpler, clearer style, because he believed that oratory's purpose was to spread the message and influence people, not to make pretty sounds with your mouth.


Note: This seems to be a common pattern in genre evolution:
(1) The communication genre is invented and explored (oratory, poetry, the sitcom).
(2) Over time it becomes more baroque (ornamentation trumps function).
(3) A reaction results, demanding a return to a more austere style, and (eventually)
(4) the genre dies as a popular form and exists solely in educational institutions or esoteric coteries (e.g. modern poetry).
Quintilian seems to have been living through stage (3).

Example -
Click here to view the complete text of Quintilian's Institutio Oratoria.

Quotation -
"They indeed are greatly deceived who imagine that audience gratification and applause are to be gained by a vicious and corrupt style of eloquence that exults in a licentious kind of diction, wantons in puerile fancies, swells with inordinary tumor, expatiates on empty commonplaces, decks itself with flowers that will fall if they are in the slightest degree shaken, prefers extravagance to sublimity, or raves madly under the pretext of freedom."
(Source: Institutio Oratoria, Book 12, Chapter 10, Number 73)



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1. This is awesome. I'd like to add that the VERY same genre evolution happens in music!
(Jacqueline Dawn)



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