Satyricon

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Author: Petronius Arbiter

Chapter the Second.

Those who are brought up on such a diet can no more attain to wisdom than a kitchen scullion can attain to a keen sense of smell or avoid stinking of the grease. With your indulgence, I will speak out: you—teachers— are chiefly responsible for the decay of oratory. With your well modulated and empty tones you have so labored for rhetorical effect that the body of your speech has lost its vigor and died. Young men did not learn set speeches in the days when Sophocles and Euripides were searching for words in which to express themselves. In the days when Pindar and the nine lyric poets feared to attempt Homeric verse there was no private tutor to stifle budding genius. I need not cite the poets for evidence, for I do not find that either Plato or Demosthenes was given to this kind of exercise. A dignified and, if I may say it, a chaste, style, is neither elaborate nor loaded with ornament; it rises supreme by its own natural purity. This windy and high-sounding bombast, a recent immigrant to Athens, from Asia, touched with its breath the aspiring minds of youth, with the effect of some pestilential planet, and as soon as the tradition of the past was broken, eloquence halted and was stricken dumb. Since that, who has attained to the sublimity of Thucydides, who rivalled the fame of Hyperides? Not a single poem has glowed with a healthy color, but all of them, as though nourished on the same diet, lacked the strength to live to old age. Painting also suffered the same fate when the presumption of the Egyptians "commercialized" that incomparable art. (I was holding forth along these lines one day, when Agamemnon came up to us and scanned with a curious eye a person to whom the audience was listening so closely.)

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Chicago: Petronius Arbiter, "Chapter the Second.," Satyricon, trans. W. C. Firebaugh in Satyricon (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1922), Original Sources, accessed September 19, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CN1ZG3LAWHVW5AY.

MLA: Arbiter, Petronius. "Chapter the Second." Satyricon, translted by W. C. Firebaugh, in Satyricon, New York, Boni and Liveright, 1922, Original Sources. 19 Sep. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CN1ZG3LAWHVW5AY.

Harvard: Arbiter, P, 'Chapter the Second.' in Satyricon, trans. . cited in 1922, Satyricon, Boni and Liveright, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 19 September 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CN1ZG3LAWHVW5AY.