Outlandish fears: Defining decorum in renaissance rhetoric.
Cicero, De oratore, 1.29.132
In the chapter on decorum from his De ratione dicendi (On Rhetoric), published in 1532, the Spanish humanist Juan Luis Vives makes two claims about the subject that directly echo those expressed by Cicero in the epigraph to this essay. First, Vives opens with the bald assertion that decorum is the central concern of rhetoric, going on to define it in traditional terms as the business of suiting one's words to the circumstances in which one speaks, and of paying attention to the audience, the time and place, the nature of the subject, and one's own character. Vives then makes his second claim: decorum cannot really be taught; essentially a matter of discretion (prudentia) that involves all of life, it simply cannot be contained within the general rules or precepts of rhetoric (174). This assertion does not prevent Vives from trying to teach decorum, however, and he winds up writing the longest chapter in his rhetoric book as he reviews a host of specific verbal behaviors in specific situations, commenting as h e does so on what he feels makes each example decorous or indecorous. His examples may seem a hodgepodge initially, but upon analysis they reveal at least one regularity in their consistent concern that, whatever the subject may be and whatever the circumstances the speaker encounters, his words must always reveal that he is a figure of decorum himself Thus, Vives says one's style should reflect one's place in the social hierarchy, one's "gradus dignitatis" (176), that of a prince, for instance, being especially magnificent (177). (1) He recommends the use of classical allusions because they are signs of erudition and fit for talking with people from the city (175), and although he concedes that a clear and simple speech is appropriate when talking with the uneducated, he still prefers language that is "flowing and ornate" (178). Revealingly, at one point Vives says that although the speaker is permitted to use rustic words occasionally, he should avoid doing so "rusticane" (183: in a rustic manner), and alth ough he may denounce vice with "spurcis verbis" (186: filthy language), he should takes pains to ensure that such low words do not make his style seem base (186: "sordent sententiae"). Vives concludes his lengthy discussion by saying that if the speaker chooses the right words, he will show that he himself is decorous, in other words, that he has the character of a "good and... prudent man" (191). Thus, the one constant in Vives's discussion of decorum is his insistence that the speaker must always strive to make his ethos or character seem decorous; he must constantly engage in what the social psychologist Erving Goffman has called "face-work," the careful management of his social image and position (5-45).
Vives's examples clearly reveal what many scholars have long said about classical and Renaissance notions of decorum, namely that they almost always have an important social, not just a rhetorical or aesthetic dimension. (2) Scholars have not analyzed in any detail the specific social meaning the term has in specific texts, however, nor have they noted the way that decorum is frequently seen as the essential feature of the speaker's ethos or character, as it is for Vives in the examples given above. (3) In this perspective, the maintenance of decorum is really the maintenance of one's social distinctiveness, a process in which the speaker, presenting himself through language that is erudite, artful, urban, and urbane, identifies himself as a member of the social elite, those who are figuratively at the top or the center of the social order, while preserving an essential distance from "low" or marginal groups--the base and the rustic, for instance--in contrast with whom he consciously defines himself. In short , the good orator always strives to present himself as one of "us" and to make sure he is never mistaken for one of "them." To put this notion in Renaissance terms: he does everything in his power to avoid appearing "outlandish," that is, strange and eccentric, someone from the "outland." One might thus rephrase Goffman and say that the maintenance of decorum for such an orator is not so much a matter of face work as it is of place work.
In this essay I want to examine in some detail three works by Renaissance writers that are concerned with rhetoric and that address the issue of decorum in complicated and especially revealing and important ways. The three works in question--Thomas Wilson's The Arte of Rhetorique of 1560, George Puttenham's The Arte of English Poesie of 1589, and Antoine Furetiere's Nouvelle allegorique, on Histoire des derniers troubles arrives au royaume d'Eloquence (Allegorical Novella, or History of the Latest Troubles Occurring in the Kingdom of Eloquence) of 1658--span a significant portion of the Renaissance chronologically and represent two important vernacular traditions of writing about rhetoric. (4) For all three writers, not only is decorum a fundamentally social concept, but it is also an essential component of the orator's ethos or character. As we shall see, when they define it, they repeat the kinds of distinctions we have observed in Vives, distinctions between the socially elite and the "outlandish," the cen tral and the marginal. The terms they use in making these definitions and distinctions have, of course, an historically distinctive character, a character that can be seen most clearly when these Renaissance texts are contrasted with classical works on rhetoric to which they owed so much. Thus, before looking at Wilson's, Puttenham's, and Furetiere's works, I will offer a brief examination of decorum in Aristotle's Rhetoric and then a somewhat fuller analysis of the concept in Cicero's De oratore, a text which constitutes its author's most complete meditation on his art and which was enormously important for Renaissance writers on rhetoric and for the Renaissance in general. We will see that Cicero defines what decorum means for his ideal orator by contrasting him with a single negative figure who sums up in himself all the meanings of indecorousness and who comes, significantly, quite literally from the outland. We will then show that, although Cicero's notion of decorum clearly informs basic aspects of the thinking of the three Renaissance writers on rhetoric, the central symbolic opposition he creates in his work between the orator and his opposite is reconfigured in their works as one between two figures, both of whom inhabit the social center, no matter how much their creators strive to keep the two far apart. Finally, in the last section of this essay, I will argue that all the energy Cicero and his Renaissance successors employ to stigmatize indecorousness can be read as really betraying an anxiety on their part, an outlandish fear deriving from their awareness that they, like their ideal orators, are inescapably contaminated by the very outlandishness they so vehemently criticize.
1. Decorum in Aristotle and Cicero
Aristotle offers a short, but suggestive discussion of decorum or appropriateness (to prepon) at the start of the third book of his Rhetoric. (5) Talking about style, he stresses that it must be appropriate as well as clear, and that it should also be elevated, ornate, and dignified, something it attains only by departing from ordinary usage. "In this respect," he writes, "men feel the same in regard to style as in regard to foreigners and fellow-citizens. Therefore we should give our language a 'foreign air'; for men admire what is remote, and that which excites admiration is pleasant" (3.2.3). Here Aristotle makes a basic distinction between what he calls the politikos, the ordinary and domestic, that which is associated with the polis; and what he calls the xenos, not exactly the foreign, but rather that which is "unhomelike." The French "etrange" and the German "unheimlich" capture something of the meaning of this word, as does, of course, the Renaissance English "outlandish." Aristotle's distinction betw een the politikos and the xenos is a version--perhaps the first version--of the opposition between the center and the periphery in the history of rhetoric. He insists that one's style must have a certain unhomelike quality about it, for that quality produces elevation and dignity and elicits the quasi-religious response of "wonder" (to thaumaston). But since the unhomelike is potentially indecorous, Aristotle urges the rhetor to conceal it, for what is natural persuades, he says, while what is artificial does not, and "men become suspicious of one whom they think to be laying a trap for them, as they are of mixed wines" (3.2.4).
Here style has clear implications for the speaker's ethos: to use devices that elevate one's style by making it seem unhomelike may enhance its persuasiveness, but they also make the speaker seem dangerous, a trickster and a half-breed ("mixed wines"), or better, a trickster because a half-breed, that is, one who is both politikos and xenos at the same time. Still, Aristotle concludes that the gain is worth the risk. By contrast, although later writers accept his distinction between the politikos and the xenos, the homelike and the unhomelike, the central and the outlandish, they will insist that only the politikos, the homelike, the central can be decorous. Their attempts are, to be sure, fraught with difficulties.
In his Orator, Cicero defines the idea of appropriateness with the Latin word "decorum," which he says is a direct translation of the Greek to prepon (21.70). "Decorum" comes from the verb decere, which means "to be fitting or suitable," and it applies to social behavior, ethics, and politics as much as to style. Forms of the word "decorum," together with the verb decere, appear frequently in his De oratore, Cicero's most important theoretical treatise on rhetoric, where it is doubled and often replaced by versions of a similar word, "aptus." (6) For instance, when Crassus, one of the two principal speakers of the dialogue, takes up the question of stylistic appropriateness in oratory, he uses the two terms as synonyms: "now let us consider the subject of appropriateness (aptum), that is, what style is most suitable (maxime deceat) in a speech" (3.55.210). "Aptus" is particularly suggestive since it is clearly spatial in its connotations: the verb at its root, apere, means to fit two things together, and it g enerates "apex," which defines the point where the two sides of a roof meet. To be "ineptus," the contrary of "aptus," is thus to be out of place; one's style is thereby impaired, as is one's ethos, the character one manifests to others as one speaks. However, Cicero also uses another, more powerful word in his De oratore that sums up everything he means by ineptitude and indecorousness, a word that had enormous resonance and spoke powerfully to some of his culture's deepest concerns--the word "Graeculus."
"Graeculus," that is, "little Greek" or "Greekling," possesses a range of meanings for Cicero. In order to unpack them, let us begin with a key passage from the first book of the De oratore in which Crassus is asked whether he believes oratory is really an art. He responds initially with indignation at being asked such a question: "Do you think I am some idle talkative Greekling (Graeculo otioso et loquaci), who is also perhaps full of learning and erudition (docto atque erudito), that you propound me a petty question on which to talk as I will?" (1.22.102). Greeklings here are idle (otiosus), talkative (loquax), and learned (doctus, eruditus): three key aspects of indecorousness for Cicero. Let us start with talkative, by which Cicero seems to mean talking to excess, or when there is no need to do so, or when no real point is being made. Thus, Crassus mocks the Greeks for getting bogged down in verbal disputes: "controversy about a word has long tormented those Greeklings, fonder as they are of argument than of truth" (1.11.47). Indeed, words themselves are suspect here, as they are when Crassus dismisses the remarks he makes on oratory as "ineptiae," or "trifles," although "ineptiae" could more accurately be rendered as "indecorous or unfitting things" (1.24.111). So important is this notion that the good orator, the good Roman orator, must avoid the ineptitude involved in speaking more than is necessary or proper that Cicero has Crassus compose a kind of mini-essay about it in Book 2. This occurs when another speaker asks him to continue the discussion begun the preceding day, yet expresses reluctance to press the matter, lest he seem "ineptus" or put Crassus in the position of being so. Crassus responds to this comment by declaring that of all Latin words, this one, "ineptus," has the greatest scope, for it applies not just to someone who talks too much, but to anyone whose speech does not fit the occasion, or who advertises himself, or does not consider his audience, or is awkward and tedious. This considera tion leads Crassus to conclude that in matters of decorum the Romans clearly surpass the Greeks, since the latter "have not even bestowed a name upon the fault in question, for, search where you may, you will not find out how the Greeks designate the 'tactless' (ineptus) man. But, of all the countless forms assumed by want of tact (ineptiae), I rather think that the grossest is the Greeks' habit, in any place and any company they like, of plunging into the most subtle dialectic concerning subjects that present extreme difficulty, or at any rate do not call for discussion" (2.4.18). For Crassus, a decorous Roman avoids verbosity at all costs and never makes unnecessary arguments -- as those chattering Greeklings do.
The chattering Greeklings resemble another disparaged group in Cicero's work: clowns, parasites, and mimes, all of whom made their living in ancient Rome by engaging in comical banter and performing farcical tricks. (7) Although the ideal orator is expected to include humor in his arsenal of weapons, Cicero insists that he should never behave like a buffoon and should absolutely avoid "scurrilis ... dicacitas," the chattering of a scurra, or "clown" (2.60.244). Cicero's distinction here is one between classes, between orators who are, by definition, members of the knightly or senatorial class, and lower class freemen or slaves. He repeats this distinction when he opposes the orator to the professional actor, whose command of delivery is to be imitated, but whose excessive, histrionic antics, his tragoediae, are not (1.53.228). Although Greeklings are never explicitly identified with either clowns or actors in Cicero's text, there is clearly a metonymic relationship among them: all talk and gesture excessively ; all epitomize indecorousness. One might also recall that the Greeks invented tragoedia, that Italy was full of Greek slaves who were even lower than the lowest freeman, and that Greece was a conquered province regarded by Cicero and the Romans generally as a culture in decay (see 3.11.43). No wonder Cicero calls them Greeklings and bridles at the idea of learned Greeks daring to talk down to a Roman audience (see 2.18.75).
In the key passage I began with, Crassus mocked Greeklings not only as "talkative," but as "learned." Although Cicero does support the value of learning for the orator, he condemns it as an end in itself. When he constructs a "history" of Greek oratory in Book 3, he identifies public speaking with the active life spent in the forum and the senate, and argues that oratory was originally indistinguishable from philosophy. Socrates, he says, separated the two, divorcing the science of wise thinking from that of eloquent speech, dividing the brain from the tongue (3.16.60-61). The result has been a proliferation of philosophical schools that engage in endless verbal wrangling and are completely detached from public life; it has also meant the intellectual impoverishment of eloquence. Before Socrates, there were individuals such as Pericles and Demosthenes who united learning with eloquence and played the kind of public role that Cato and Scipio did in the Roman republic -- and that Cicero saw himself playing as w ell.
The ideal figure who unites wisdom and eloquence for Cicero turns out to be, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the epic hero Achilles, who is, in Cicero's translation of Homer, an "oratorem verborum actoremque rerum" (3.15.57: speaker of words and a doer of deeds). (8) If, for Cicero, the orator is the embodiment of the active life, a "doer of deeds," then his opposite is the idle (otiosus) Greekling. Contemporary Greeks, says Crassus, are "demoralized by sloth (otio)" (3.32.131), and that is why they make no progress in the arts they invented. Cicero's opposition between Roman activity, the absorption in "negotiis," that is, "business" or "affairs," for which Crassus is praised (3.32.131), and Greek idleness entails a generic opposition as well, an opposition between the epic, which began with the wrath of Achilles, and the pastoral. Repeatedly, Cicero identifies his ideal orator as a soldier, athlete, and gladiator, a hero whose art provides him with the arms by means of which he protects himself and challenge s the wicked (1.8.32). By contrast, pastoral takes place in the shade of protective trees, "sub tegmine fagi," "under the shade of a beech," as Vergil puts it in his first eclogue (1). Cicero directly associates this shade with the "sheltered (or shaded: umbratili) training-ground" of the school, something he tolerates only because he knows the student will eventually leave it behind and plunge "right into action, into the dust and uproar, into the camp and the fighting-line of public debate" (1.34.157). In that "fighting-line" one never finds idle Greeklings, only heroic Roman rhetors, for whom oratory, like diplomacy, is war carried on by other means.
This contrast between the decorous, heroic Roman orator and the idle, chattering Greekling can be further amplified if one translates "Graeculus" not as "Greekling" or "little Greek," but as "Greek boy," for boys, except insofar as they are preparing to become men, are not well regarded in the De oratore. Thus, Crassus warns that unless the orator acquires knowledge, his discourse will be empty and "paene puerilem" (1.6.20: almost childish or boyish). Moreover, Antonius, Crassus's great opponent in the dialogue, says he recognizes that some people may laugh at what seems the needless effort involved in working up the facts of a law case, but he replies to them with scorn: "This is not what is taught in the schools, for the cases set to boys are easy ones" (2.24.100). Crassus's opposition between heroic, virile orators and idle boys is linked to his mockery of "Graeculi" and clearly has sexual overtones, for no Roman would have thought of boys, especially Greek boys, without thinking of the homosexual practice s identified with Greece throughout antiquity and without thinking of those boys specifically as the passive partners involved (Boswell 33-42, 167-71). Significantly, Crassus's own oratory is praised as passionate, weighty, and "sine pigmentis fucoque puerili" (2.45.188: without coloring or boyish makeup). Similarly, excessive linguistic ornamentation is denounced as being covered up by "cincinnis ac fuco" (3.25.100: curls and make-up). These words are particularly suggestive: "cincinnus," an unusual term, means hair curled by curling irons, and "fucus" is the white, lead-based make-up used by both Roman women and boys. That Cicero is thinking of boys rather than women in such passages is revealed by his adjective: "fuco... puerili," "boyish make-up." Thus, Cicero's repeated denigrations of "Graeculi" throughout the De oratore could not fail to provoke visions not only of people who were idle, excessively talkative, and overly learned, but of little Greek boys, perhaps slaves, whose outrageous-or better, outl andish--passive homosexuality placed them at the opposite extreme from, and thereby served to define, the decorum of the virile, soldierly Roman orator.
2. Defining Decorum in Renaissance Rhetoric
Just as Cicero juxtaposes his heroic Roman orator to the idle, chattering, erudite, homosexual Greekling, the Renaissance writers on rhetoric Thomas Wilson, George Puttenham, and Antoine Furetiere also structure their thinking about decorum through a series of oppositions. Moreover, although they ridicule a number of different "outlandish" characters who epitomize indecorousness, they also finally sum up what indecorousness means in a single figure who, like Cicero's Greekling, functions as the negative pole by means of which they define the ideally decorous orator. Wilson and Puttenham undertake this project in treatises in which they distinguish the decorous from the indecorous discursively. Antoine Furetiere, by contrast, composes a work of fiction, an allegory, in which he recounts how characters representing bad rhetoric invade the realm of good rhetoric and are then defeated and expelled from it. Furetiere's allegory thus literalizes the spatial metaphor that informs the notion of the decorous in all of the texts we are examining from both antiquity and the Renaissance: good rhetoric is that which stays within its proper bounds; bad rhetoric is that which does not. However, while Cicero sums up what indecorousness means in the figure of a literal foreigner, his Greekling, the three Renaissance writers focus on a character who is disturbingly close to home for them. As we shall see, their difference from Cicero on this score speaks powerfully to the cultural, social, and political changes separating the Renaissance from ancient Rome.
The three Renaissance rhetoricians seem closest to Cicero when they use class terms to identify the indecorous language and behavior that the ideal orator must avoid. Where Cicero warns against seeming to be a scurra or a mimus, Wilson, in his Arte of Rhetorique, similarly insists that although the orator will employ humor in order to keep the attention of his audience, he must avoid "scurrilitie, or ale-house jesting, [which] would bee thought odious," as well as "grosse mirth [which] would be deemed madnesse" (4). So important is this warning against scurrility and ale-house jesting that Wilson repeats it a second time later on, adding the further caveat that the orator should also "eschue all foolish talke, and Ruffine maners" (138). By speaking of "scurrilitie," Wilson both invokes the lower class clown of Rome, thus connecting his treatise to the classical past it imitates, and brings the scurra up to date by identifying him with the lower class habitues of the Renaissance tavern, that is, with thieves, coney-catchers, impoverished second sons, and declasse knights, with characters such as Shakespeare's Bardolph, Pistol, Poins, and Falstaff. Wilson's ideal orator is, by contrast, a would-be member of the upper crust, a hero like Hercules, a being who is "halfe a GOD" because in speaking he "doth chiefly and aboue all other excell men" (Aviiv). By contrast, jesters, fools, and ale-house ruffians stand on the very lowest rung of the social ladder--if they are even on it at all.
Puttenham and Furetiere share Wilson's viewpoint. In his Arte of English Poesie, Puttenham tells his rhetor-poet to shun various vices in speaking "such as cannot be vsed with any decencie [decorum]" (256), vices including "barbarisme," "rusticitie," and what he calls "foule speech," that is, speech containing sexual innuendos, "least of a Poet he become a Buffon or rayling companion, the Latines called him Scurra" (261). Puttenham criticizes the poet John Skelton for "railing," saying it made him seem a buffoon rather than a true poet (76), and like Wilson, Puttenham wants to distance his rhetor-poet from the alehouse and its lower-class habitues, thus condemning a certain kind of defective speech as being fit only for the alehouse (151). Above all, the rhetor-poet must not be taken for a peasant, as Puttenham indicates when he tells a tale about a commoner in Huntingtonshire who asked the Queen's coachman to stop by saying, "stay thy cart good fellow, stay thy cart" (266). Not only is the man being indecoro us by identifying the Queen's grand coach as a peasant's cart, but his words destroy whatever decorousness his ethos might have by indicating that he is, or seems to be, a peasant himself. Similarly, in his Nouvelle allegorique, Furetiere characterizes the bad, indecorous rhetoric of Capitaine Galimatias, that is, Captain Farrago, as anything but noble: his troops are crude and base (57); he is followed by the merchants of "Barbarie" (72); and his arms come from the marketplace, "Ia Halle" (14). Most important, Galimatias himself is identified as an "homme obscur et ne de la lie du peuple" (11: man of obscure origins, born from the dregs of the people). For Furetiere, as for Wilson and Puttenham, being associated with "the people" makes one indecorous by nature.
All three writers imagine their distinction between the decorous orator and his indecorous contrary in symbolic terms that are strikingly spatial in character: they repeatedly associate the former with the center of the social order, place his despised contrary on its margins, and worry about policing the boundaries between the two. Wilson, for example, juxtaposes England to other countries, such as Scotland, to which he says it is superior, and elevates London over provincial cities such as Lincoln, because there "the ayre is better, the people more ciuill, and the wealth much greater, and the men for the most part more wise" (13). This bias in favor of the capital--the symbolic, if not literal center of the country--informs his declaration that the orator must speak "the Kings English" and his criticism of those who "seeke so far for outlandish English, that they forget altogether their mothers language" (162). This opposition between the center and the margins makes Wilson especially nervous when he consid ers the subject of digressions. Although he allows his orator to "swarue sometimes from the matter, vpon iust considerations," he stresses that each digression must "agree to the purpose, and bee so set out that it confounde not the cause, or darken the sence of the matter deuised" (181-82). Wilson sometimes uses class terms to criticize indecorous digressions, mocking those, for instance, who, while speaking of the king, descend from their lofty subject and turn their "tale to talke of Robin Hood, ... or to speake wonders of the man in the Moone" (87). However, Wilson's usual way of talking about digressions is to use spatial terms, even in this passage, which ends by comparing those speakers who talk of Robin Hood to messengers who, in order to go from London to Dover, ride through Norfolk, Essex, and Kent. He concludes: "many an vnlearned and witlesse man, hath straied in his talke much farther a great deale, yea truely as farre as hence to Roome gates" (88)--a hyperbolic image of digression, which also ev okes the Catholic Church, whose notion of pilgrimage (to Rome) is implicitly being satirized as excessive and irrelevant.
Puttenham is even more specific than Wilson in identifying the language of his rhetor-poet with the symbolic center, and its indecorous opposite with the symbolic margins, of the kingdom. The preferred language, he says, should be "rather that which is spoken in the kings Court, or in the good townes and Cities within the land, then in the marches and frontiers, or in port townes, where straungers haunt for traffike sake, ... or finally, in any vplandish village or corner of a Realme, where is no resort but of poore rusticall or vnciuill people" (156-57). Puttenham goes on to reject northern and western dialects in favor of the southern one, which was historically and symbolically central, and concludes with a map-maker's precision by telling the rhetor-poet to model his language on "the vsuall speach of the Court, and that of London and the shires lying about London within lx. myles" (157).
Like Wilson and Puttenham, Furetiere identifies Queen Rhetorique's realm with the symbolic center of the state, with Louis XIV's court, his capital city, and his Academie, the Academie Francaise, which is said to be situated atop a hill, a high "Eminence" (94), an allusion, ofcourse, to His Eminence, Cardinal Richelieu, its founder. By contrast, Galimatias's supposedly separate realm seems at first glance to be literally outlandish, in the sense of being foreign, for his troops include Arabs, Hebrews, Italians, and the riffraff of Greece and Rome as well as a group of warriors who are said to be "plus vindicatifs que les Hyroquois" (71: more vengeful than the Iroquois). Through his allegory, Furetiere is actually ridiculing here the use of foreign words in French, a fault he considers "barbarism." Revealingly, at one point he declares that Galimatias, even in disguise, will inevitably betray his presence in Queen Rhetorique's realm because of some "mot barbare" (103: barbarous word) he will inevitably use. Ho wever, like Wilson and Puttenham, Furetiere is really thinking in terms of an opposition within his own culture, an opposition that turns the allegorical war he is describing into a version of the civil wars France had been involved in for at least eighty years. In the first place, the followers of Rhetorique and Galimatias are actually identical, although hers, unlike his, are said to be well disciplined, noble, proper, and polished (27); in other words, both sides are "French." More important, one of the provisions of the final peace treaty permits Galimatias "de courir les provinces et y faire telles conquestes que bon lui sembleroit, particulierement celles au dela de Loire" (99: to run through the provinces and to make such conquests there as would seem good to him, particularly in those beyond the Loire). "Beyond the Loire" lay such provinces as Languedoc and Provence, which, though part of France for centuries, were obviously still felt to be foreign, "etrange," by all those who, like Furetiere, stood at or near what they identified as the center. Finally, in a parallel allegory within the larger one of Rhetorique and Galimatias, Furetiere describes how the Rhymes once staged a revolt against Rhetorique's sister Poesie, but were defeated and exiled to the "faux-bourgs," the "false cities," on the periphery, forbidden to lodge near "les hemistiches et autres bons bourgeois demeurans au coeur de la ville" (41: the hemistiches and other good city-dwellers living in the heart of the city). Thus, for Furetiere as for Wilson and Puttenham, the contrast between good, decorous rhetoric and its contrary may seem at moments to be imagined as one between two separate cultures, the domestic and the foreign, as it was in Cicero, but it is more typically seen as an opposition between the symbolic center of the country, including the capital and the court, and the provinces, which are denigrated as the "outland," although they are inhabited by those peculiar barbarians and foreigners who are actually one's fellow-citizens.
If Cicero uses the figure of the Greekling to stand for everything he means by indecorousness, Wilson, Puttenham, and Furetiere have a symbolic figure who serves much the same purpose for them: the learned clerk or pedant. Of the three writers Wilson seems the most incensed against such individuals, exclaiming at one point: "an eloquent man being smally learned can much more good in perswading by shift of wordes, and meete placing of matter: then a great learned clarke shalbe able with great store of learning, wanting words to set forth his meaning" (161). Wilson heaps scorn on people who use "ynkehorne termes," that is, words that smack of too much learning, and although he includes among them those individuals who use technical terms and jargon and travelers who scatter foreign words throughout their discourse, he particularly inveighs against "these fine English clerkes" who will "seeke so far for outlandish English, that they forget altogether their mothers language."9 Wilson also directs his scorn at the semi-learned, who "wil so Latin their tongues, that the simple can not but wonder at their talke," and who "thinke Rhetorique to stande wholie vpon darke wordes," so that "hee that can catche an ynke home terme by the taile, him they coumpt to be a fine Englisheman, and a good Rhetorician" (162). So incensed does Wilson become at this violation of decorum by his fellow-countrymen that he then composes a satirical letter attributed to an anonymous "Lincolnshire man" (163) and filled with the worst inkhorn terms imaginable. He speaks of those terms as being "straunge" (164), using an adjective that appears elsewhere in his book (3, 165, 170) and is essentially a synonym for "outlandish." Revealingly, Wilson opposes the use of "straunge wordes" explicitly to an "apt declaring of a mans mind," employing the English derivative of the Latin aptus here and elsewhere (157, 160, 165, 166) as an equivalent for "decent" (168) or "decorous." Finally, in another passage mocking as lower class the attempts of would-be cle rks to impress others by using Latinate diction, Wilson calls their language "roperipe" (107), meaning "ripe for the rope or the halter," that is, "worthy of a hanging," a punishment meted out almost exclusively to members of the lower classes, not the nobility, in Renaissance Europe.
Echoing Wilson, Puttenham complains about the speeches of his contemporaries: "ye shall see in some many inkhorne termes so ill affected brought in by men of learning as preachers and schoolemasters: and many straunge termes of other languages by Secretaries and Marchaunts and trauailours, and many darke wordes and not vsuall nor well sounding, though they be dayly spoken in Court" (157-58). Elsewhere, after Puttenham has proclaimed "decencie," defined as "decorum and good propornon to be "the chiefe praise of any writer," he notes how this viewpoint is opposed by "many good clerkes" who violate decorum themselves by doing such things as using lofty language for low subjects (162). According to Puttenham, inkhorn terms and words borrowed from "strangers" can only please the vulgar crowd, the common people, who prefer interludes and popular drama, just as they enjoy the jangling rhymes of "Cantabanqui" and "blind harpers" (96-97). Thus, like Wilson, Puttenham derides the clerks and would-be clerks who employ i nkhorn terms by linking them to the lower strata of society rather than the courtly elite. In his lexicon, "clerkly" is just another synonym for "vncouthe" (172).
Whereas Wilson and Puttenham condemn clerks, Furetiere mocks their French equivalent, "pedants." Not only is the country ruled over by Galimatias called "Pedanterie," but its capital city is "Gymnasie," that is, a Gymnasium, college, or secondary school. Gymnasie may once have flourished, says Furetiere, but "pour avoir donne retraitte chez elle a toutes sortes de nations et avoir voulu parler toutes sortes de langues, [elle] a souffert la desolation de Babel, si bien qu'il ne s'y trouve plus que confusion" (10-11: for having offered a retreat for all sorts of nations and having wanted to speak all sorts of languages, [it] has suffered the desolation of Babel, so thoroughly that one only finds confusion there). (10) Moreover, when Galimatias's army attacks the Academie, it is led by the troops of the "engineer" Juste Lipse, that is, the classical scholar Justus Lipsius, whose books Furetiere mocks in one of the notes he composed for his work as consisting of nothing but citations from other authorities (86). Lipsius's troops are labelled "pedans" (86), have outlandish Latin names such as Scioppius, Thaubmanus, and Gruterus, and are accused of having perverted everything they took from the lands of the truly learned (87). (11) When Galimatias addresses his army before the climactic battle, his speech is filled with recondite classical allusions and inkhorn terms: the Persian king Xerxes is identified as "Mastigothalasse" ("Sea-Whipper"), Greece is "melliflue" ("flowing-with-honey"), and Rome, "Ia bellipotente" ("warrior-like") (59-60). Just as inkhorn terms were condemned by Wilson and Puttenham for being "dark," so Furetiere implies that such words are obscure by supplying glosses for them in his footnotes. Significantly, he initially identifies Galimatias as an "homme obscur," and although the primary sense of "obscur" here is social ("of obscure or base origin"), the word also points to the darkness of his language and thus links pedantic obscurity to social inferiority just as they are linked to one another by Wilson and Puttenham.
That Cicero and his Renaissance successors imagine the opposition between the decorous and the indecorous in such different ways results from the writers' different social and political situations as well as from important historical differences separating ancient Rome and the Renaissance. By birth a knight and hence a member of the ruling class, Cicero was indeed a "vir bonus dicendi peritus," a "good man," that is, a "nobilis" or "nobleman," "skilled in speaking." (12) Although he warns the orator about degrading himself socially, he does not seem to worry about that possibility as much as Renaissance writers do, perhaps because he was so firmly ensconced in the ruling class that he could not imagine himself and rhetors like him slipping out of it. However, like his fellow Romans, Cicero did feel an intense rivalry with the Greeks, with that literally "outlandish" culture that the Romans had conquered, but whose learning, art, and philosophy most of them feared they could never equal. That rivalry, born of a cultural inferiority complex, is writ large across Cicero's De oratore. It is there at the start when he contrasts his work with its model, Plato's Phaedrus, stressing that Crassus's and Antonius's leisurely discussion of rhetorical theory is merely a temporary respite from their lives of political activity, not an end in itself as it was for Socrates. Cicero's rivalry with Greek culture is even more apparent when he credits his fellow-countrymen with the virtue of behaving "aptly" and correlates the indecorousness of the Greeks with their lack of a verbal equivalent for "ineptus"--despite the fact that Cicero's key concept, "decorum," is, as he admits in his Orator (21.70), simply the Latin word for the Greek to prepon. The chief sign of Cicero's competition with the Greeks, however, is his constant denigration of them as outlandish "Graeculi"--as though by repeating this word and thus reminding everyone of the social decadence, political dependence, and enslavement of contemporary Greeks, he could obliter ate the sense of the superiority of their culture to which his dialogue, from its form through its chief ideas and concepts down to the very art it teaches, bears witness. How ironic that at one point, when Crassus praises Roman jurisprudence as one of the few disciplines in which his culture clearly surpassed that of its rival, he should sum up his feelings by citing a passage in Latin from Homer's Odyssey (1.44.196)--just when he is celebrating Rome, the words he finds to express his sentiments come from those of the outlandish Greeks!
Wilson, Puttenham, and Furetiere, unlike Cicero, but like the orators and rhetoricians for whom they produced their books, were not born into the elite. Instead, they sought to climb the social ladder by means of the verbal skills they acquired in their study of rhetoric and the liberal arts; all were aspiring courtiers, attempting to secure the favor of noble patrons through various kinds of service, including writing their books about rhetoric. Originally from Lincolnshire, a provincial area he consistently disparages in his Arte of Rhetorique, Wilson sought the patronage of Sir Edward Dymock, at whose home the Arte was composed, and of Thomas Cecil, Lord Burghley, with whose help he eventually became Secretary of State. Puttenham gained entry into the elite by marrying into it, but he also obtained rewards from Queen Elizabeth for services rendered, including his composition of The Arte of English Poesie and of a tract defending the execution of Mary Stuart. Finally, Furetiere rose from the bourgeoisie, se curing ecclesiastical offices and becoming a member of the Academie Francaise thanks to his writings and to patrons such as Richelieu and Louis XIV. (13) Not surprisingly, all three writers imagine their ideal orator as becoming a ruler or a member of the ruling class to which they themselves aspired. Wilson speaks of him as another Hercules and "half a God" (161), while Furetiere makes him the sage ruler of an enlightened kingdom and assigns the Academie the responsibility of approving all the "nouveaux venus," the "newcomers" (that is, all the neologisms) who want to live there (9). Puttenham is the most explicit about what the art of oratory can do for the base-born: by providing the rhetor-poet with all the "beautie and gallantnesse of ... language and stile," it will pull him "first from the carte to the schoole, and from thence to the Court," and will finally prefer "him to your Maiesties [Queen Elizabeth's] seruice" (304). In short, all three writers participated in one of the forms that social mobilit y had in the Renaissance, and all imagine their rhetor as doing the same thing.
Nor should it be surprising that Wilson, Puttenham, and Furetiere would identify indecorousness with the outlandish speech and behavior of peasants and provincials, people closely linked to the cart from which they were determined to distance themselves. It should be noted that when they satirize clerks and pedants, they characterize those figures in terms that emphasize their lower-class status and their affinity to peasants and provincials. Wilson, for instance, calls clerks who cannot dress their thought in appropriate language "slouens" (161), that is, people who are poorly clothed and hence, lower class; Puttenham notes that inkhorn terms especially delight "the common people" (96); and Furetiere says that no one of noble birth lives in Pedanterie, whose leader comes from the "dregs of the people" and whose inhabitants are all "dirty," their clothing consisting of "robes crotees, souliers plats, [et] linge sale" (100: filthy robes, fiat shoes, [and] dirty linen). Unlike Cicero, who sought to separate him self and his ideal Roman orator from their Greek cultural roots, these three Renaissance writers seek to separate themselves from their social ones. Cicero's Greekling does have, to be sure, a social dimension, just as clerks and pedants have a cultural one. However, the emphasis in the first case is placed on the issue of cultural difference: the Greeks are identified as the inventors and teachers of rhetoric; they are never explicitly referred to as slaves. By contrast, Wilson's, Puttenham's, and Furetiere's clerks and pedants are never described as learned and eloquent, but are rather attacked for the ways they deform and debase the language they speak. Moreover, as we have noted, they are associated with the lower classes by means of their poor clothing, their frequent mingling with the common people, and the fact of their dirtiness. Dirt is a powerful image here for their marginalization: symbolically, it consigns them to the very bottom of the social heap, and it identifies them once again with the peas ant whose livelihood was so closely connected with it.
3. Outlandish Fears
When Cicero mocks Greeklings and his three Renaissance successors satirize clerks and pedants, one cannot help but be struck by how intense, how virulent, how outlandish--in the modern sense of the word--their statements often are. This intensity may be read not as an expression of some sort of supreme self-confidence, but rather, as the product of insecurity and fear, whose outlandishness derives from the fact that the figures they denounce are not really alien and external, but domestic and internal, an inescapable part of them and their culture. In other words, they fear that they themselves are contaminated by outlandishness. Consequently, all their mockery and derision can be read as a desperate attempt to separate themselves from a kind of pollution: their satire amounts to ritual cursing; and Furetiere's narrative, which leads to a supposedly definitive separation between the realms of Rhetorique and Galimatias, enacts a kind of rite of purification. However, despite all their efforts to separate thems elves from the impurity, the "dirt," of the indecorous, Cicero and his Renaissance followers can never hope to do so with complete success. They are always already contaminated by outlandishness precisely because they are teachers of rhetoric in their books and are thus the guardians of a culture alien to their own. Cicero, for instance, must necessarily express Greek ideas and perspectives, even employ Greek terms in his De oratore. In fact, simply by using words rather than wielding the sword of the Roman soldier, he behaves, whether as orator or theoretician, like the very thing he scorns--and fears--a Greekling. In their different ways, Wilson, Puttenham, and Furetiere also cannot escape a sense of their own outlandishness. Although they want to align themselves with the ruling class in their works, neither they nor their ideal orators can enjoy an absolutely secure position within it, for they are all clearly dependent on the patronage of those who were, by birth, members of the social and political elit e. More important, although all three mock clerks and pedants, one should remember that the doctrines they teach were those normally taught by schoolmasters, that is, by clerks and pedants. Indeed, such subjects as rhetoric and the liberal arts in general were in a sense outlandish, foreign, and unhomelike for Renaissance people, for they were part of the classical tradition, coming from that alien culture the Renaissance inherited from ancient Greece and Rome. What is more, those outlandish subjects were normally taught in the equally--and literally--outlandish language of Latin. (14) Clerks and pedants can thus be read as synecdoches for classical culture as a whole, a culture towards which Renaissance people felt a keen sense of rivalry and an even keener sense of their presumed inferiority. Those feelings led writers to imitate the classics, to elevate their works by rehearsing material from Greek and Roman authors, and to seek to improve what they felt were insufficiently lustrous vernacular languages by enriching them with borrowings from Greek and Latin. Wilson, Puttenham, and, to a lesser extent, Furetiere have clearly taken on a version of this project as they seek to make ancient rhetorical teaching available to the modern world. As they do so, of course, they cannot help but resemble the clerks and pedants they denounce. Ironically, although Puttenham says his project is to pull his rhetor-poet from the school to the court, the fact that he teaches rhetoric in his text suggests that he, like Wilson and Furetiere in their different ways, has not really left the Groves of Academe behind.
The inability of all these writers to separate themselves from the indecorous characters they deride is especially evident when they are dealing with the technical language of rhetoric, for they have almost no choice but to use literally outlandish words from foreign languages for which they had no vernacular equivalents. For instance, although Cicero sometimes uses Latin words in the place of Greek ones, as when he translates to prepon as decorum, nevertheless, since he also uses the Latinized Greek words "rhetorica" and "philosophia" over and over again in his treatise, he cannot really escape the charge that he himself fundamentally resembles the Greeklings he satirizes. This problem only gets worse in the Renaissance, which had to deal with both Latin terms, such as "oration" and "elocution," and Greek ones, such as "metaphor" and "metonymy." Puttenham especially tries hard to "English" some of these terms, supplying such colorful translations as "the Ouer reacher, otherwise called the loud lyer" for hype rbole (202), but his doing so only calls attention to the outlandish terms he is actually including in his text. Moreover, Puttenham acknowledges that one must sometimes use words from Greek and Latin (and other languages), that is, inkhorn terms, simply because native English words are lacking. Thus, in contemporary speech, he says, one finds such words as "penetrate, penetrable, indignitie, which I cannot see how we may spare them, whatsoeuer fault wee finde with Ink-home termes: for our speach wanteth wordes to such sence so well to be vsed" (159). Puttenham echoes Aristotle's remarks on style here when he asserts that for one's speech to delight the ear, one must employ "a certaine noueltie and strange maner of conueyance, disguising it no litle from the ordinary and accustomed." Worried by what is clearly implicit in this assertion--namely, that the use of such language might make the orator seem outlandish and hence, indecorous to his audience--Puttenham, like Aristotle, insists that a good writer can s hape his speech so that it does not appear "vnseemely or misbecomming, but rather decenter and more agreable to any ciuill eare and vnderstanding" (149). He cannot, however, explain what separates "decent" words from "indecent" ones, as his worrying about "penetrate" and "indignitie" reveals.
Both Wilson and Furetiere also waffle on the issue of inkhorn terms. Although the former, for instance, may mock clerks and would-be clerks for using such terms, elsewhere he admits that his countrymen must take words from classical languages, "either for lacke of store [an abundant supply], or els because we would enrich the language" (164-65). Wilson insists that one can utilize such words if they are generally accepted, but it is never clear how that position can be reconciled with his desire to enrich the language, a process necessarily entailing the creation of neologisms. Finally, Furetiere deals with the problem of having written a book filled with obscure Greek and Latin words by putting definitions for many of them in footnotes. For example, after noting that the hyperboles were in Galimatias's army, he defines the term at the bottom of the page: "C'est une figure qui augmente ou qui diminue les choses jusqu'a les faires [sic] paroistre incroyables" (18: It is a figure that augments or diminishes thi ngs to the point of making them seem incredible). Although his definition serves to make the Greek term more familiar to Furetiere's readers, the very presence of the footnote underscores the fact that there is a foreigner, an "etranger," someone from the outland, in the heartland of this French text. Like Cicero, then, Wilson, Puttenham, and Furetiere have their Greeklings, too, that is, their clerks and pedants, but whereas Cicero was contending with a culture that had a rich past, a continuing life in the present, and an actual geographical location, Renaissance writers are confronting one that is largely a rehearsal of the past and has no land in the present it can call its own except for the halls of the academy and the pages of books.
The sense of rivalry these three Renaissance writers felt with ancient culture appears stronger than the one Cicero felt towards Greece, perhaps because they were writing in the vernacular which they were seeking to make the equivalent of the classical tongues. By contrast with them, Renaissance rhetoricians who actually wrote in Latin, authors such as Juan Luis Vives, Luis de Granada, Bartholomew Keckermann, and Nicholas Caussin, seem much less threatened: they operate within a tradition inherited from antiquity, a tradition they may qualify at times in important ways, but whose language--classical Latin--and technical concepts they were essentially content simply to reproduce. To be sure, they, too, discuss decorum in social terms, just as Cicero, Wilson, Puttenham, and Furetiere do. As we have seen, when Vives defines the concept in his De ratione dicendi, he thinks in class terms and warns the orator to be careful about such things as rustic speech and filthy words (183-84). Similarly, the Counter-Reforma tion rhetorician Granada insists that the orator should never use a "turbc ... verbum, et vel parum honestum" (338: base ... and scarcely honorable word), and he condemns language and gestures that identify the orator as socially inferior, declaring that he should not speak the way blind beggars do (348) or deliver his speech like an actor (368). The German Protestant Keckermann also wants his orator to avoid rustic speech and gestures (504, 516) and the French Jesuit Caussin reveals a similar concern with social class when he observes that many writers make themselves indecorous by producing an overly inflated style rather than one that is too low, because "they prefer to depart from the right style through excess rather than to seem less noble (ingeniosi) through a low one" (98). However, what is singularly absent from the works of all these Neo-Latin authors is anything like the satiric vitriol directed by Wilson, Puttenham, and Furetiere against clerks and pedants. Writing in Latin, Vives, Granada, Kecker mann, and Caussin place themselves squarely within the classical tradition as they rehearse ideas about rhetoric they have gleaned from it; it may well be that they do not mock clerks because they are, in fact, behaving like them and seem comfortable as they do so. By contrast, Wilson, Puttenham, and Furetiere are also behaving like the clerks they mock, and that mockery may be read as a measure of both the nearness and the distance they felt existed between themselves and the classical tradition, a tradition whose outlandish ideas and words they were seeking so hard to domesticate.
There is one final reason that may explain why Cicero and his Renaissance followers expended so much energy trying to keep themselves and their ideal orators separate from the indecorous Greeklings, clerks, and pedants they criticize. This reason grows out of their grudging recognition that they themselves are not really in control of the crucial distinction between the decorous and the indecorous that they continually insist on making. Cicero may celebrate his orator's ability to rule the people and capture their wills (De oratore 1.8.30 and 2.8.32), but he tacitly acknowledges the real limits of that control whenever he identifies the people as what they really were, the iudices, the judges, of the orator's speech (see, for instance, 2.48.199 and 2.70.285). This recognition that the orator's power is limited is even keener in Renaissance writers than in Cicero, because they themselves depended so completely on others for their social advancement. Their awareness of this dependence is inscribed in their book s in the dedications and other explicitly deferential gestures they make to their patrons. Wilson, for instance, pronounces his dedicatee, John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, an exemplar of eloquence (Aiiiv), while Puttenham not only praises Queen Elizabeth frequently in his Arte, but cites her poetry as a model (255). Finally, Furetiere's allegory shamelessly flatters the Academie Francaise together with its founder, Cardinal Richelieu. Of the three, Puttenham is the most conscious of this issue, filling the long chapter he devotes to decorum with examples in which, almost invariably, a social inferior violates the boundaries of seemliness and is then corrected by a social superior, often a ruler. Recall, for example, the anecdote about the commoner who labelled the Queen's coach a cart. As it continues, Puttenham shows how the man's breach of decorum was corrected and forgiven by the Queen: "Her Maistie laughed as she had bene tickled, and [so did] all the rest of the company[,] although very graciously (as her m anner is) she gaue him great thankes and her hand to kisse" (266). Puttenham gets to the heart of the issue when he observes that tropes and figures, which are all necessarily "transgressions of our dayly speech," will be judged "decent" if the mind and ear like them and "indecent," if they do not. The mind and ear referred to here, however, are not those of the speaker, but those of the audience, a view Puttenham sums up by remarking, "the election is the writers, the iudgement is the worlds" (269). As his examples of decorous and indecorous behavior reveal, the "world" Puttenham mentions here is, for him as for other Renaissance writers, really just a synonym for the ruling class. This same truth about the ultimate judges of decorum is announced in another, much more familiar text from the English Renaissance, Shakespeare's Henry V. In the last scene of the play, when Henry asks the French princess Katharine to kiss him, she initially refuses, underscoring the indecorousness involved by saying that kissing in public is nor the custom in France. Henry's reply is simple and effective: "We are the makers of manners, Kate" (5.2.272-73). This reply, like Elizabeth's laughter in Puttenham's anecdote, suggests why rhetoricians in both antiquity and the Renaissance should have felt such outlandish fears and expended so much energy attempting to keep the decorous and the indecorous apart. Fearful that they were inescapably indecorous themselves, if only because of their identification with that outlandish art called rhetoric, they wanted to become the masters of decorum by being its teachers. They could thereby deny the ultimate insufficiency of their power and ignore the hateful truth they nevertheless could never successfully escape, the truth that when the line gets drawn between the decorous and the indecorous, the socially central and the outlandish, the hand that draws it is always another's, never their own.
Wayne A. Rebhorn is the Celanese Centennial Professor of English at the University of Texas. Author of numerous articles on Renaissance writers from Boccaccio to Milton, he has published four books: Courtly Performances: Masking and Festivity in Castiglione's 'Book of the Courtier' (Wayne State, 1978), Foxes and Lions: Machiavelli's Confidence Men (Cornell, 1988), The Emperor of Men's Minds: Literature and the Renaissance Discourse of Rhetoric (Cornell, 1995), and Renaissance Debates on Rhetoric (Cornell, 2000). Foxes and Lions was awarded the Howard R. Marraro Prize by the MLA in 1990.
(1.) All translations of Renaissance texts are my own. Those of Aristotle and Cicero come from the editions I have used, although some have been modified slightly.
(2.) On the social and ethical dimension of ancient conceptions of decorum, see Untersteiner (197-98), D'Alton (114-30), and Pohlenz (especially 104 and 114-18). For various social meanings of decorum in the Renaissance, meanings often related to the notion that one should suit one's style to one's subject matter, in that elevated subjects required a high style, and low subjects a low one, see Plett (255-58), Tuve (195-96), Doran (77-78 and 225-28), Vickers (75), and Fumaroli (22 and 54). Decorum has often been classified as an aspect of kairtos, or timeliness, although its social dimension tends to get obscured in the process; see Baumlin (177-78) on this point.
(3.) None of the scholars mentioned in the preceding note offer detailed readings of the social meaning of decorum. Equally typical of this failing, in his book on Shakespeare and decorum, McAlindon never really wrestles with the problem of defining the concept; instead, he does no more than declare decorum to mean a harmony of word and deed and a matter of saying the right thing in the right circumstances (6-8). Although the social dimension of decorum is really central to the analyses of Renaissance court behavior in Javitch and Whigham, neither author devotes much attention to the concept per se; for the few brief paragraphs in their books directly concerned with decorum, see Javitch (51-53) and Whigham (51-52). Two recent critics, however, Attridge (266-69) and Hillman (75-79), are concerned with social issues in Puttenham's book and thus have usefully analyzed his notion of decorum in social terms; for a similar recognition of the social dimension of the word in Puttenham, see Baumlin (174-79).
(4.) These three works also represent three of the quite different kinds of writing Renaissance authors produced when they treated the subject of rhetoric and which should consequently be counted as belonging to the discourse of rhetoric, broadly conceived, in the period. Wilson's book is a general rhetoric manual which offers a comprehensive treatment of its subject just as Aristotle and Cicero did in their rhetoric in antiquity. By contrast, Puttenham's title identifies his work as being concerned with poetics. However, his general arguments about poetry, the stress he places on its power to move others, and the ancient myths he draws on all reveal the closeness between poetry and rhetoric in his thinking and thus qualify his work as a rhetoric, too. Finally, Furetiere's book is a story, a piece of fiction, which presents itself directly and self-consciously as an allegory about rhetoric. On Wilson's book as a comprehensive, Ciceronian rhetoric, see Howell (98-108); on the closeness, if not identity, betwee n poetry and rhetoric in Renaissance thinking, see Meerhof (282), Kahn (37), and Vickers (50-51); and on the notion that literary works in the period can often be read as allegories about rhetoric, even when they make no specific claim to that effect, see Rebhorn (17-22).
(5.) According to Pohlenz (100-7), the word to prepon has a rich history in Greek culture. He says that the verb prepo was originally used by Homer to denote a striking visual feature in a person or an object, but that by the time of Aeschylus and Pindar it had come to mean a striking visual feature that was characteristic ("fitting," "becoming") of the person or thing involved. By that time, the verb was used only in its impersonal forms and had come to serve an essentially normative function. In Plato and Aristotle, the verb as well as the noun, to prepon, were applied to types, and Aristotle made extensive use of the concept in his ethical, aesthetic, and rhetorical theory. Kinneavy (82) and Cahn (129) explain how the concept also came to include that of kairos, or timeliness, although Untersteiner sees it the other way around and claims that to prepon is "the formal aspect of the epistemological content" in kairos (198).
(6.) Pohlenz says the Romans translated to prepon with both "aptus" and "decorum," noting that the latter had a strong ethical dimension and was a central conception in Cicero's De officiis, in which it marks the difference between humans and animals (107-8, 122).
(7.) Mimes, like actors, performed in the theater, whereas the scurra, or clown, was a comic entertainer who survived, as did the parasite, by being invited into the homes of the upper classes; see Duckworth (6-7, 14,75-76); Paulys Real-Encyclopadie, "histrio" and "scurra"; and A Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, "mime."
(8.) Homer is actually talking about Achilles's tutor Phoenix; see Iliad, 9.485.
(9.) McAlindon observes that the debate about inkhorn terms is always part of the discussion of decorum in the Renaissance (13).
(10.) "Nations" here refers allegorically to the various languages studied by French students at school, that is, Latin, Greek, and possibly Hebrew, rather than to actual foreign nations. There might also be an older sense of "nation" at play in this passage, for in medieval universities "nation" meant any group of students who came from a particular region, such as Languedoc or Picardie, as well as those who came from other countries, such as Italy or England.
(11.) In Furetiere's time, the word "pedans" was a slur for those who did not speak in the manner of the court; see Brunot (3: 19-28). Nevertheless, in its more restricted sense, the term was applied to academics, and Brunot notes that in the seventeenth century there were courtly satires of "le langage de college" and of the use of such "clerkly" terms as "antithese" and "apocryphe" (3: 189-90).
(12.) This phrase is attributed to Marcus Cato by Quintilian (12.1.1), but since Cicero is the model orator for Quintilian throughout his work, it seems appropriate to apply it to Cicero here. Note that "bonus" certainly means "morally worthy," but it also has an important social dimension-hence my translation of it as "patrician."
(13.) For biographical details about Wilson, see the introduction by G. H. Mair in Wilson (v-xv); for Puttenham, who is the most likely author of The Arte of English Poesic, which appeared without the author's name on the title page, see Willcock and Walker (xi-xliii); and for Furetiere, see the introduction by Eva van Ginneken in Furetiere
(14.) In England and France, the story of the relationship between the vernacular and Latin, and between vernacular and classical culture, is complicated. However, one can generalize that in the sixteenth century, English and French were both felt to be inferior to Latin, and efforts were made to improve them by adding new words from classical sources. Although a few writers thought the vernacular was the equal of Latin and Greek, that view only came into its own in the seventeenth century, gaining widespread acceptance only after about 1650. For this history, see Jones (4-9, 68-75, 122, 176-91, 204); Brunot (2: 1-4, 162-72, and 3: 2-7, 19-28, 65-70, 194-99, 218-222); and Bruneau (1: 158-63).
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|Author:||Rebhorn, Wayne A.|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2000|
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