Aurea Gemma <Gallica> 1.14-18
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[1.14] It is also of great value to wisely investigate and weigh vigilantly in one's mind which verbs are fitting to which persons. Not all are fitting for all persons. For certain verbs should be addressed to superior persons, others to peers, other verbs to inferiors.

[1.15] A superior person may say to an inferior 'I order you' and 'I order you by commanding.'

[1.16] A peer to a peer: 'I tell you' or 'I denounce' or 'I order' or 'I beseech'.

[1.17] An inferior to a superior: 'I suggest' or 'I intimate' or 'I signify' or 'I desire that it be known'. Those who confound these differences do not attend to the meaning of verbs nor to the consequence of reasons (rationes) nor to the dignity of persons. For this reason, he who shall have wished to observe these things should know beforehand poetic art and should pluck the flowers of the rhetorical faculty and strengthen this knowledge by habit and by training.

[1.18] He should also know the three levels of style, that is the triple composition of words according to the quality of the subject matter and he should avoid with perspicacious diligence the vices connected with and adjoining these levels of style.1 Then keep the ornamentation of words and of meanings in mind and seal and sprinkle the oration as if with various flowers, so that it may have elegance and wit.

1 The first triadic doctrine of styles was set forth in Rhetorica ad Herrenium 4.8.11-4.11.17. See FRANZ QUADLBAUER Die antike Theorie der genera dicendi im lateinische Mittelalter Oesterreichische Adademie der Wissenschaften, SB, Phil.-hist. Kl., vol. 241-2 (Vienna 1962).

© Steven M. Wight, Los Angeles 1998
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