chapter  9
ORATORY UNDER THE EMPIRE
Pages 9

WITH THE death of Cicero the great tradition of Roman oratory came to an end. ‘Conticuit Latiae tristis facundia linguae.’1 To some this was no matter for regret. The greatest poet of the Augustan age exhorted his countrymen to leave to others the arts, including that of oratory,2 and made the only wholly unsympathetic character in his epic an orator. Whether or no Drances was meant to suggest Cicero,3 it is hard to resist the impression of something like a parting kick at the old Republican régime and its characteristic figure, the political orator. In the new world of Augustus there was no room for such a figure. The Emperor himself set the tone in cultivating a direct matter-of-fact way of speaking, in which the graces of style were sacrificed to intelligibility.4