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Fabrique de la déclamation antique

 | 
Catherine Schneider
, 
Rémy Poignault

Poétique de la déclamation

Program and composition in Pseudo-Quintilian’s 13th Major Declamation

Christopher Van Den Berg

Résumé

De nombreuses études se sont déjà intéressées à la façon dont la 13e des Grandes déclamations pseudo-quintiliennes s’inspire d'autorités anciennes sur les abeilles et l’apiculture. Cet article y envisage la réutilisation de précédents culturels dans une perspective plus large, en examinant les diverses stratégies que la 13e déclamation met en œuvre pour se présenter en objet de consommation érudit. En soulignant de façon répétée la structure du discours, le locuteur compare sa déclamation à la forme de la ruche qu’il loue, mettant l’accent tout au long de son texte sur la culture livresque qui sous-tend à la fois l’univers des abeilles et l'univers de la déclamation. Cet environnement érudit n’est pas simplement le fruit d’une association aléatoire d’extraits savants, mais se présente plutôt comme une proclamation programmatique de la valeur culturelle de la déclamation.

The extent to which Pseudo-Quintilian’s 13th Major Declamation draws on a range of ancient authorities on bees and beekeeping has already been the subject of considerable scholarly attention. This paper takes a broader approach to the work’s reuse of cultural precedents, examining the various strategies by which Pseudo-Quintilian’s 13th Major Declamation presents itself as an object of learned consumption. By repeatedly underscoring the speech’s structural design, the speaker likens the declamation to the design of the beehive he praises, emphasizing along the way the bookish culture which underlies both the world of the bees and the world of declamation. This learned environment is not merely a haphazard assembly of erudite passages, but rather a programmatic assertion of declamation’s cultural value.

Texte intégral

  • 1 Håkanson’s Teubner (1982) remains seminal for the study of the corpus. Håkanson’s general overview (...)
  • 2 There are countless examples, but in the second book alone he cites the importance of declamation, (...)

1The fortunes of Roman declamation are again in the ascendancy, at least to judge by renewed scholarly investigation: critical editions, translations, and commentaries, as well as monographs and edited volumes (such as the present one), which range from the technically microscopic to more capacious visions of the declaimers in their cultural settings1. Yet for all the justifiable interest, one major paradox in the current enthusiasm has yet to find a suitable answer: although declamation unquestionably captured the attention of Rome’s elite, from the budding orators at school to the practiced craftsmen at the performance hall, the ancient discussions rarely set declamation in a favorable light. The extant witnesses most often spin a tale of declamation’s woes: its tendency to exuberance and ostentation, its inextricable link to the alleged decline of oratory, its unrealistic nature and irrelevance to the realities likely to challenge the Roman orator. Quintilian, for example, repeatedly notes the importance of declamation for training, but also complains about its potential to distract the orator2. In theory declamation was a problem, and yet in practice it thrived for centuries as a keystone of the educational curriculum and of public virtuoso performance.

  • 3 This idea is cogently outlined in Gunderson 2003, p. 5‑9.

2Surveys of Roman oratory and declamation tend to share the perspectives and prejudices of the ancient detractors, such that a fairly uniform impression of declamation’s shortcomings is shared by most modern observers. True enough, some skeptics of the ancient pessimism have emerged in recent years, and with the concomitant rehabilitation of declamation as an object of study, scholars may come around to reading ancient complaints as part of the genre’s meta-discourse, as one of the ways in which declaimers could reflect on the values and limitations of their art3.

3This line of inquiry doubtless deserves greater consideration, but the present essay comes at the problem from a different direction. For the paradox begs the further question as to why, given ancient rhetoric’s penchant to explore both sides of an issue (disputare in utramque partem), no unequivocal promotion of declamation exists in the extant material. This essay argues that apologists for declamation did exist and that one signal example is Pseudo-Quintilian’s 13th Major Declamation, the apes pauperis or “poor man’s bees” (hereafter DM 13). The author has crafted DM 13 as a self-conscious object of cultural consumption, drawing attention to the work’s artistic construction while promoting the declaimer’s role as a mediator of cultural values. What emerges is no less than an implicit and capacious program for declamation.

4The present discussion focuses on the self-referential construction of the declamation, with a particular emphasis on how the declaimer conceptualizes textual reuse. The declaimer’s portrayal of his bees is central to the work’s interest in allusion and intertextuality, and this paper first considers some key forerunners in the Roman tradition who use apian and digestive metaphors (section “Bees, digestion, and readers”). It then examines the portrayal of the speech as a deliberately constructed product, examining the beehive’s likening to a book, the use of rhetorical terminology in defense of the beehive/book, and the explicit use of technical terms in the speech (section “Making and seeing literary models in DM 13”). The declaimer presents the speech as an object of learned consumption and ostentatiously pursues various strategies of citation and allusion. In this regard the speech can be read as a program piece for the collection of Major Declamations and for the art of declamation more generally.

Bees, digestion and readers

  • 4 Krapinger 2005, p. 85 n. 85: “Unser Redner übernimmt einen vergilischen Schlüsselbegriff.”
  • 5 For a succinct account against the optimistic readings of Vergil’s tag, see Thomas 1988, p. 92‑93. (...)
  • 6 The most influential single study is Hinds 1998. For a brief overview of approaches to allusion and (...)

5Before turning to the speech, it will be useful to mention some areas that can help situate this essay’s place within the scholarship and to note other areas that would repay further inquiry, even if they cannot be the present study’s main focus due to restrictions of space. The scholarship has done well in examining the signal importance of Vergil’s Georgics for the declaimer’s depiction of the bees, especially the repeated likening of the bees and their society to the human society. A range of metaphors and technical vocabulary holds the bees up for comparison with soldiers active in their military preparations and suggests parallels between the beehive and human dwellings, as in the repeated use of a term such as sedes in favor of technical expressions such as alvearium. Vergil’s key term, labor, makes its appearance over and again in DM 13, and Gernot Krapinger is right in noting how the declaimer “adopts a key Vergilian concept”4. Indeed the declaimer’s familiarity and license with the Vergilian forerunner can account for his playful nod to Vergil’s most celebrated and contested formulation, labor improbus: labor omnia vicit / improbus (Verg., Georg. I, 145‑6). The poor man laments the rich man’s misplaced envy with the phrase livor improbus: o livor improbe, quo non penetras? (DM 13, 4)5. Vergil’s influence, and that of Varro, Columella, and Pliny the Elder, are now widely recognized and would repay further investigation in the light of theories of intertextuality, which have proven so valuable for the study of Latin literature in recent decades6. However, of greatest interest for the present essay is the way in which ancient authors used bees as a means to conceptualize textual reuse and how the declamation calls attention to its handling of learned culture.

  • 7 Hor., Carm. 4, 2, 27‑32: ego apis Matinae / more modoque / grata carpentis thyma per laborem / plur (...)
  • 8 Sen., Ep. 84, 3: Apes, ut aiunt, debemus imitari, quae vagantur et flores ad mel faciendum idoneos (...)
  • 9 Seneca prepares the reader for the double meaning at 84, 2 with further wordplay: ut quicquid lecti (...)
  • 10 Sen., Ep. 84, 5‑6: Nos quoque has apes debemus imitari et quaecumque ex diversa lectione congessimu (...)

6A declamation which treats the topic of bees is a signal opportunity to consider the declaimer’s artful presentation of his own craftsmanship. Roman authors often appealed to apian imagery in order to reflect on the composition of literature, as in Horace’s famous justification of his Pindaric strains in Odes Book IV7. Among writers of Latin prose, Seneca the Younger and Quintilian stand out as as significant forerunners of Pseudo-Quintilian. Seneca in Epistle 84 provides one context in which to understand the metapoetic function of bees in the tradition of prose writing at Rome. Seneca begins by noting that humans should imitate bees, who collect material and then distribute it throughout the honeycombs in the hive8. The emphasis on the bees’ facility in gathering is likened, through a subsequent play on the word lectio (“gathering” and “reading”), to the culling of books for noteworthy language9. Yet collection and storage of the raw material is only a first step, as the intervention of the mental faculties unites the various pieces into a new whole. The distinct elements are combined so that the original appears in altered form; the origins of the imitation may still be perceptible, but the final transformed product, a new piece of carefully crafted language, becomes one’s own property10.

  • 11 Sen., Ep. 84, 7: Concoquamus illa; alioqui in memoriam ibunt, non in ingenium, “Let us digest it; o (...)
  • 12 It is worth noting the extent to which ingenium in so many instances is poorly rendered by “nature” (...)
  • 13 Sen., Ep. 84, 8: Puto aliquando ne intellegi quidem posse, si magni vir ingenii omnibus quae ex quo (...)
  • 14 Sen., Ep. 84, 7: Hoc faciat animus noster: omnia quibus est adiutus abscondat, ipsum tantum ostenda (...)
  • 15 Sen., Ep. 84, 8: Etiam si cuius in te comparebit similitudo quem admiratio tibi altius fixerit, sim (...)

7Seneca stresses how talent (ingenium) and memory (memoria) differently assimilate past texts into one’s repertoire: language should be made available for one’s ingenium rather than simply wharehoused in memoria11. To bring the tradition of letters under the power of the productive faculty, ingenium, means that the tradition is no longer a remnant of the past but a living facet of an individual’s future thought and expression12. Seneca will again stress the ways in which a new creation becomes one’s own as a larger unity upon which individuals leave their distinct stamp13. The well-trained ingenium displays the new creation while concealing its origins14. Seneca conceptualizes the new object not as a painting to its original but as a son to a father15. This creation is living matter rather than inert stuff, an idea manifested in the digestive process itself, in which the human organism transforms dead food into material for life. Similarly, Seneca notes, sons and fathers have a living connection which a mere painting cannot achieve: the imago, Seneca says, is a dead thing, res mortua est. The idea is nicely reinforced by the semantic variance of imago, which is dead not only because it is a direct copy of something, but also because it is the “death mask” of an ancestor.

  • 16 On the etymology of mut(u)o, see Ernout, Meillet 1959, p. 426.
  • 17 The polyvalence of agnosci may help us to understand the paternal metaphor in thinking of textual p (...)

8Aficionados of Seneca the Elder are likely to think of Gallio’s famous explanation of Ovid’s allusions to Virgil: non subripiendi causa, sed palam mutuandi, hoc animo ut vellet agnosci (Sen., Suas. 3, 7) “not for the sake of stealing but of borrowing openly, with the intention of being recognized”. Here the key term is mutuor (“exchange” or “borrow”), whose root, mut-, contains the ideas of exchange (mutuor) and change (muto)16. The formal similarity of the two terms reflects their conceptual affinity; when executed felicitously to take is to change. Seneca the Younger provides a fuller exposition of the underlying etymology in his father’s analysis17.

  • 18 Krapinger 2005, p. 121 n. 269.
  • 19 Macr., Sat. 1 pr. 5‑10 is modeled on Sen., Ep. 84, 2‑10.

9The model here for “collecting” resources for one’s own creative activities is, Seneca remarks, common enough among ancient thinkers. Seneca finds that a reference to what people say, ut aiunt, suffices as an attribution for the assertions that follow. The traditional tag suggests a pre-existing tradition on which he draws even as it anonymizes the sources for his discussion of textual appropriation. Later authors, including the author of DM 13 studied his letters, as evidenced by the careful reworking at DM 13, 11 of the invective against the boundless villas of the rich from Epistles 89, 2018. Macrobius would programmatically take on an undigested version of Seneca’s 84th letter, quoting it nearly verbatim in the preface to the first book of the Saturnalia19.

  • 20 For recent examinations of book culture and reading, see Winsbury 2009 and Johnson 2010.
  • 21 Quint., X, 1, 19: Lectio libera est nec ut actionis impetu transcurrit, sed repetere saepius licet, (...)
  • 22 Quint., X, 1, 20: Ac diu non nisi optimus quisque et qui credentem sibi minime fallat legendus est, (...)
  • 23 Quint., X, 1, 21: Saepe enim praeparat dissimulat insidiatur orator, eaque in prima parte actionis (...)

10If we turn our gaze from the consumption of texts for imitation to the broader strategies of composition and reading, then Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria provides a sense of how one might read the Declamationes, and Quintilian employs similar metaphors in the discussion of reading20. In comparison to Seneca his version is less florid (all punning aside), drawing briefly on the language of consumption and digestion to describe how the advanced reader works through a text21. A reader should approach books with the same diligence as a writer. Such alertness will permit him to appreciate the workings of individual parts, and he can subsequently review the whole text in order to understand its artistic devices22. The reason, Quintilian goes on to say, is that the orator often uses dissimulatio (“dissembling”, “hidden artistry”) in structuring a piece, and only a sense of the whole may explain the occasionally perplexing stratagems that the author has interspersed throughout a book23.

Making and seeing literary models in DM 13

11Throughout the declamation the speaker highlights the construction of the speech. He highlights the visual appearance of what he describes, such as the dramatic scene of the bees’ demise or the physical characteristics of the beehive, and he draws on the poetic and rhetorical traditions in a manner that underlines the composition of the declamation. Early in the narratio the speaker presses the audience to consider his literary models by appealing to the visual aspects of his account:

  • 24 Ps.-Quint., Decl. mai. 13, 4: “Indeed I had gone forth myself as a spectator of the work (you see i (...)

Quin ipse spectator operis (praecipua namque haec mihi voluptas erat) processeram sperans fore, ut viderem, quemadmodum aliae libratae pinnis onera conferrent, aliae deposita sarcina in novas prorumperent praedas, et, quamquam angusto festinaretur aditu, turba tamen exeuntium non obstaret intrantibus, aliae militaribus castris pellerent vulgus ignavum, aliae longum permensae iter fatigatae anhelitum traherent, haec ad aestivum solem porrectas panderet pinnas24.

  • 25 Both labor and opus are used in widely divergent senses, while also forming yet another part of the (...)
  • 26 On the value of thinking of the fictional elements of declamation and their self-referential possib (...)

12The author carefully places himself into the role of the spectator as he invites the reader to join him in watching the bees at work. An audience who takes pleasure in imagining such a scene will also identify with the speaker’s former enjoyment of activity at the hive. Rhetorically, the speaker has created a bond between himself and his audience, as all are witness to the bees’ unfolding tragedy, as the hive’s corporate identity dissolves into the deaths of small groups of bees and then then their final member: a series of repeated plurals (aliae) gives way a lone singular at the conclusion (haec). Before the sequel the author first gives an account of his own isolation at the loss of his bees: apes miser pauper in opere perdidi (13, 5). The semantic variance of the term opus and the possible ambiguity of the phrase in opere are key elements of the work’s rhetorical strategy25. The communal labor once shared with the bees is now gone, and yet that loss has been transformed into a new community of lamenters, as author and audience commiserate over the demise of the hive. At the same time the language points up the porous nature of the “fourth wall” in the speech: we are of course listening to a fictional creation of a speaker who has “lost” his bees at work (in opere) precisely because the fiction of his own work (opus) allows him to say so26.

  • 27 The structure of the bees’ death leans on Vergil, Georg. IV, 158‑168. See Krapinger 2005, p. 91 n.  (...)

13Along the way careful allusion has the reader consider not only a depiction of the bees, but also of the literary models which underlie the descriptions: the spectator of the first passage is repeatedly reminded of the disciplined and diligent bees in Vergil’s Georgics, where the corporate identity of the bees toiling in unison outweighs their individual roles in the larger society27. As the plurals in the first passage give way to the singular, the speaker brings us to the second spectaculum and shifts his allusions from Vergil to Ovid:

  • 28 Ps.-Quint., Decl. mai. 13, 6: “Here was a gloomy spectacle and one to be pitied by all but its doer (...)

Hic triste spectaculum et tantum non ipsi, qui fecerat, miserandum: illa ad primum feralis suci haustum insolito consternata gustu fugit, sed fugisse nihil prodest. illa longiores expetitura pastus in altum tollitur vitamque in aura relinquit. Haec primo statim flosculo inmoritur. illa rigescentibus morte pedibus exanimis, sicut haeserat, pendet. alia defecta nisu volandi adhuc per terram languide repit. si quas tamen usque ad sedem suam distulit mors lentior, sicut aegrae solent sub ipsis pendere portis, in globum nexas et mutuo amplexas mors sola divisit28.

  • 29 Becker 1904, p. 68; Krapinger 2005, p. 94.

14The individualized deaths are largely dependent on Ovid’s tale of the death of Niobe’s children in Metamorphoses Book VI, 290‑29629. The Ovidian forerunner sits well in its new context not only because of the repeated single deaths depicted in Ovid’s account, but because Niobe, like the declaimer, faces disaster and then isolation. Allusion to literary models of community and loss is itself central to the speech’s manipulation of ethos and pathos, creating an emotive bond with the audience reinforced by the bonds of a shared cultural heritage.

  • 30 In the captatio the pauper notes the obscure life he leads. Ps.-Quint., Decl. mai. 13, 2: In hoc eg (...)

15In narrating the bees’ diligence and then their demise the author twice heightens our awareness of his textual models, and his two calls to visualization conclude with a sententia that makes most sense if we understand its relevance to the preceding system of literary allusion: celebre illud alvearium et domino suo notius ad nihilum recidit (DM 13, 6). We have no reason internal to the speech to think that the beehive should be particularly remarkable or any more well-known than its owner – indeed the internal fiction of the declamation is better supported if the apiary remains obscure like its owner – a humble means of support for a countryside pauper removed from the urban center30. Celebre and notius are not merely a pathetic capping of the speaker’s destitution at the death of his bees. They indicate instead exactly how well-known the models are from which the speaker draws and how adept the speaker is at using those models. The spectacle we are twice summoned to witness is the declaimer carefully manipulating his literary tradition and making a point of it to the audience.

The books and the bees

  • 31 Tib., 3, 1, 13‑14: “let horns be painted amidst the twin faces, since in this way is it fitting to (...)
  • 32 Krapinger 2005, p. 155 for the references.
  • 33 Ov., Trist. I, 1, 11‑12: “Let not the twin faces be polished with breakable pumice, so that you see (...)
  • 34 Catul., 1, 1‑2: Cui dono lepidum novum libellum / arida modo pumice expolitum?; Tib., 3, 1 could mo (...)

16The speaker gives further prominence to the speech’s construction through an analogy between the honeycombs in the beehive and a physical text, the book-roll: gemina frons ceris imponitur (DM 13, 18). While the description of the wax coverings for each end of the roll is ingenious, surprising, and perhaps unparalleled in depicting a beehive, it also sends the reader back to earlier descriptions of books in programmatic poems. [Tibullus] wrote: inter geminas pingantur cornua frontes / sic etenim comptum mittere oportet opus31. Ovid similarly remarks: nec fragili geminae poliantur pumice frontes / hirsutus sparsis ut videare comis32. The allusions are meaningful in distinct yet complementary ways. At an immediate level the predecessors describe the expectations for well-polished book-rolls33. In both collections these are the first poems of their respective books. Discussion of the material care afforded to the books reflects the author’s notional care in composing his poems. The association of physical books and the quality of poetry in the Roman tradition goes back at least to Catullus’ programmatic announcement in the dedicatory poem to Cornelius Nepos34.

  • 35 Krapinger 2005, assembles an impressive list of allusions, building on Becker 1904 and a series of (...)

17In addition the likening of a honeycomb to a book is also significant for the helping us to understand declamation’s relationship to the literary tradition. At the material level the idea that a honeycomb could represent a book nicely reflects the way in which the beehive as a whole is a careful composition of individual units: the declaimer of course draws on a range of books in order to craft his description of the bees and their world. The allusive pastiche replays for us not only Vergil, the most obvious forerunner, but other authorities on beekeeping, such as Varro, Columella, and Pliny. And the author also draws widely from a host of other texts in the Roman literary tradition, especially Ovid35. The declaimer likens the beehive to the collection of erudite material diligently assembled into new forms. It is simultaneously the ongoing effort to collect and organize matter for a grander construction and a static collection of well-ordered material in the hands of the capable author. The twin aspects reflect Seneca’s division of collection into the inert faculty, memoria, and the productive faculty, ingenium.

18Allusion to the books of Tibullus and Ovid also demonstrate how the author self-consciously consumes the literature of the past in order to create literature in the present. The bookishness of the beehive is itself placed into a lineage of consumable books, like the poems of Tibullus and Ovid that came before. Consequently, the allusions are not simply adorning nods to the greats of the past, but ways of creating a tradition of texts into which the present speech places itself as the newest member. It is not merely imitation of past authors, it is imitation of a tradition of authors who have relied on the associations of the physical book with artistic refinement in order to reflect on and emphasize the artistry of their productions.

Structural markers in the declamation

  • 36 Winterbottom per litteras notes apud Krapinger 2005, p. 138 n. 345: “the speaker is pointing out to (...)
  • 37 Krapinger 2005, p. 96 n. 144: “Solch versteckte Hinweise scheinen eine Eigenheit unseres Redners zu (...)

19This declamation also relies heavily on technical rhetorical terminology that effect transitions between sections of the speech and thereby call attention to the speech’s design. The speaker first notes that he has come to the end of his initial narrative: semel ut ipse tristem finiam expositionem (DM 13, 6). The subsequent mention of argumenta signals a further stage in the layout of the speech: sed excutiam singula, nec prius meis argumentis nitar, quam diversa reppulero (13, 7). Here he anticipates the progression of his speech at sections 13, 8‑14, passing first to a refutatio of his opponent’s arguments before the confirmatio of his own. Lastly, the speaker spells out the transition from argumentatio to peroratio: intellego neque prudentiam vestram desiderare plura de causa neque vestram fidem ac religionem egere exhortatione vere iudicandi (13, 15)36. Gernot Krapinger is right to point out that “such hidden indications appear to be an anomalous characteristic of our speaker”37. These technical terms for the division of a speech are seldom used elsewhere in the corpus, and certainly not with the same systematic signaling of transitions as in this declamation.

  • 38 The two options are not mutually exclusive. A remarkable virtue of the speech lies in its dual func (...)
  • 39 Ps.-Quint., Decl. mai. 13, 18: “You see first they set the foundations with fast bonds, then from t (...)
  • 40 In the subsequent sentence, which includes the reference to books discussed above, gemina frons, th (...)

20To point out the technical divisions of the text in this subtle yet still perceptible fashion suggests a pedagogical intention, to indicate to students the points at which the transition from one segment of a text to another is appropriate. Yet the unremitting emphasis on structure throughout the speech also suggests a further aim: the references accentuate the speech’s rhetorical craftsmanship38. Attention to the structural qualities of the declamation are inseparable from the constant and intense fascination with the structure of the beehive, to which the speaker will again turn as part of his metapoetic considerations. He describes the beehive with vocabulary from the rhetorical lexicon: nam primum tenacibus vinculis fundamenta suspendunt, tum ab exordio in omnem partem opus aequaliter crescit, nec quicquam ex inchoatis parum est quod non sua portione perfectum, nec iam alia parte opus esset39. The hive is not only perfect in all its elements, both individual and whole, but the speaker employs the rhetorical term exordium to describe its “beginnings” or “foundations”. The technical term exordium appears nowhere else in Pseudo-Quintilian, nor does it appear in the writings on bees by Varro, Vergil, Columella, or Pliny40. The term’s ambiguity further conflates the world of the bees with the world of the declaimer, and does so in a way that highlights the declaimer’s own artistry. In likening the speech to the beehive, the speaker includes a remarkable rhetorical trick: praise for the beehive can be read as implicit self-praise, as promotion of this declamation, and more broadly, of the declaimer’s craft.

Usefulness and pleasure

  • 41 See HWRh s. v. Utile (Spoerhase, Van den Berg 2009, p. 976‑982). The connection of utile and dulce (...)
  • 42 Cic., De Or. III, 178: Sed ut in plerisque rebus incredibiliter hoc natura est ipsa fabricata, sic (...)
  • 43 I am paraphrasing Crassus’ fuller argument at Cic., De Or. III, 180: Columnae templa et porticus su (...)
  • 44 Tac., Dial. 20, 6‑7: Horum igitur auribus et iudiciis obtemperans nostrorum oratorum aetas pulchrio (...)

21Reading the eulogy of the beehive as indirect self-praise can also help us to understand the author’s use of the rhetorical tradition to justify and to praise the beehive. Sections 15‑19 contain a magisterial piece of epideictic in praise of the bees. This peroration, as I noted above, has been read for the outlines of an idealized (human) society and for its use of decorative epideictic. The author justifies this ideal society, both its individual agents, the bees, and their objects of creation, the beehive, in terms drawn from discussions of adornment in rhetoric. In particular, the opposition of usus/decor or utlitas/voluptas are used by earlier authors to justify the adornment of speech. In the rhetorical tradition the emphasis on simultaneous usefulness and attractiveness is used to justify specific aesthetic standards, often those that are innovative. The terms themselves are related to the traditional deliberative opposition of utilitas (“utility”) to honestas (“honorability”), but are usually developed with a particular emphasis on the charm and dignity that adornment provides to speech41. One lengthy precedent is Cicero’s justification of prose rhythm in Book of De Oratore, in which Crassus defends prose rhythm by noting its utility, dignity, and charm42. Crassus offers an analogy between speeches and the adornment of temples with gables, which are both useful and pleasing. He memorably remarks that the temple of Capitoline Jupiter “even were it placed in heaven, where there can be no rain, would still require a gable for adornment”43. Marcus Aper of Tacitus’ Dialogus similarly justifies the incorporation of poetic diction into prose speech by reference to the adornment of a temple44. The declaimer twice defends the bees by appeal to the utility and pleasure they provide, first stressing their advantages over beasts of burden:

  • 45 Ps.-Quint., Decl. mai. 13, 15: “You know it seems to me that as other animals were created for our (...)

Nam ut cetera animalia videtur mihi natura usibus nostris genuisse, haec etiam deliciis, cum eo quod in illis, quae vel scindendo solo vel maturando itineri comparamus, multus ante reditus insumitur labor, et, cum perdomanda, cum alenda sint, nihil tamen possunt sine homine, et tantum coacta prosunt45.

  • 46 Vergil is our first witness to this use of (in)enarrabile. A similarity of scenario as much as of l (...)

22He subsequently moves from praise of the bees to praise of their hive: accedit usibus inenarrabilis decor (13, 18). The speaker employs the literary-critical opposition usus/decor and may also include in the term inenarrabilis a reminiscence of a programmatic moment in Vergil, taking the reader back to the ecphrastic description of the shield of Aeneas: clipei non enarrabile textum (Verg., Aen. VIII, 625)46.

23The bees and their hive are an object of intense programmatic evaluation through which the declaimer can extol the learned culture of his speech and the vision of the world which the speech presents. The author here is not simply ringing the bells of eulogy as part of a decorative set-piece on the virtues of the beehive. The appeal to usus/voluptas, when set against the other visible elements of artistry throughout the speech, offers an unprecedented vision of the cultural value of declamation. Allusion to past texts and the structure of the present one are parts of the speech’s concerted apology. The culture of reading and the practice of imitation are prominently and successfully on display for the readers of declamation.

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— 1986, « Die quintilianischen und pseudoquintilianischen “Deklamationen” in der neueren Forschung », in ANRW, II, 32, 4, p. 2272‑2306.

Hinds St. 1998, Allusion and Intertext. Dynamics of Appropriation in Roman Poetry, Cambridge.

Johnson W. A. 2010, Readers and Reading Culture in the High Roman Empire. A Study of Elite Communities, Oxford.

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Schmitz Th. 2007, Modern Literary Theory and Ancient Texts. An Introduction, Malden (Mass.)-Oxford-Victoria (trad. angl. de Th. Schmitz, Moderne Literaturtheorie und antike Texte : eine Einführung, Darmstadt, 2002).

Spoerhase C., Van den Berg Chr. 2009, « Utile », in G. Ueding (éd.), Historisches Wörterbuch der Rhetorik, vol. 9 (St–Z), Tübingen p. 976‑982.

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1978, « Povertà e richezza. L’unità tematica della declamazione XIII dello Pseudo-Quintiliano », MCSN 2, p. 37‑69.

— 1979, « Apes pauperis (Ps.-Quint. XIII). Articolazione tematica ed equilibri strutturali », AAP 28, p. 81‑104.

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Notes

1 Håkanson’s Teubner (1982) remains seminal for the study of the corpus. Håkanson’s general overview of Quintilian’s declamatory corpus (1986) is still very useful. Sussman’s English translation (1987) has helped bring to life the scholarship in the English world, but it has long been unavailable. The Cassino commentaries under the direction of Antonio Stramaglia, now cover about half the Major Declamations; see Stramaglia 2009. Recent monographs include Van MalMaeder 2007 and Bernstein 2013.

2 There are countless examples, but in the second book alone he cites the importance of declamation, Quint., II, 1, 9‑12; II, 4, 24‑6; II, 10, and he criticizes it at II, 10 (again); II, 20, 4.

3 This idea is cogently outlined in Gunderson 2003, p. 5‑9.

4 Krapinger 2005, p. 85 n. 85: “Unser Redner übernimmt einen vergilischen Schlüsselbegriff.”

5 For a succinct account against the optimistic readings of Vergil’s tag, see Thomas 1988, p. 92‑93. It is worth considering the extent to which DM 13, as an early stage in the reception of Vergil’s Georgics, may help us evaluate Thomas’s interpretation: “insatiable toil occupied all areas of existence”.

6 The most influential single study is Hinds 1998. For a brief overview of approaches to allusion and intertextuality with bibliography, see Schmitz 2007, p. 77‑85 and Baraz, Van den Berg 2013.

7 Hor., Carm. 4, 2, 27‑32: ego apis Matinae / more modoque / grata carpentis thyma per laborem / plurimum circa nemus uvidique / Tiburis ripas operosa parvus / carmina fingo, “In the manner and mode of a Matine bee, plucking sweet thyme around the glades and shores of the wet Tiber with much labor though small I fashion elaborate songs” (éd. Rudd 2004). In this essay translations of shorter passages of Latin are mine, but I have tried otherwise to make use of readily available translations for most longer passages: May and Wisse 2001 for Cicero’s de Oratore (with the text of Kumaniecki 1969 [Teubner]); Russell 2001 for Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria (whose text I also follow); I have adapted Gummere 1920 (Loeb) for Seneca (but use the text of Reynolds 1965). For DM 13 itself I use the text of Krapinger 2005 and have profited from his German translation and from Sussman 1987 for my English translations here.

8 Sen., Ep. 84, 3: Apes, ut aiunt, debemus imitari, quae vagantur et flores ad mel faciendum idoneos carpunt, deinde quidquid attulere disponunt ac per favos digerunt, “They say we should imitate the bees, which wander about and cull the flowers suited to making honey, and then they organize whatever they’ve gathered and distribute it throughout the honeycombs.”

9 Seneca prepares the reader for the double meaning at 84, 2 with further wordplay: ut quicquid lectione collectum est, stilus redigat in corpus.

10 Sen., Ep. 84, 5‑6: Nos quoque has apes debemus imitari et quaecumque ex diversa lectione congessimus separare (melius enim distincta servantur), deinde adhibita ingenii nostri cura et facultate in unum saporem varia illa libamenta confundere, ut etiam si apparuerit unde sumptum sit, aliud tamen esse quam unde sumptum est appareat. Quod in corpore nostro videmus sine ulla opera nostra facere naturam (alimenta quae accepimus, quamdiu in sua qualitate perdurant et solida innatant stomacho, onera sunt; at cum ex eo quod erant mutata sunt, tunc demum in vires et in sanguinem transeunt), idem in his quibus aluntur ingenia praestemus, ut quaecumque hausimus non patiamur integra esse, ne aliena sint, “We too should copy these bees, and sift whatever we have gathered from a varied course of reading (such things are better preserved when kept separate); then, applying the care of our talent and ability, we should blend those several flavors into one compound so that, even though it betrays its origin, it nevertheless is clearly different from its origin. This is what we see nature doing in our own bodies without any labor on our part (the food we have eaten, as long as it retains its original quality and floats in our stomachs as an undiluted mass, is a burden; but it only becomes blood and vigor when it has been changed from its original form); the same happens with the food which nourishes our talents, so that whatever we have absorbed should not be allowed to remain whole, so that it won’t remain wholly other.”

11 Sen., Ep. 84, 7: Concoquamus illa; alioqui in memoriam ibunt, non in ingenium, “Let us digest it; otherwise it will enter the memory and not our innate capacities.”

12 It is worth noting the extent to which ingenium in so many instances is poorly rendered by “nature” or “talent”, which we typically consider as innate and constant characteristics. Ingenium often denotes a malleable faculty which can be fostered and developed in various ways throughout one’s life. Cf. OLD ingenium 6a “skill, ingenuity”.

13 Sen., Ep. 84, 8: Puto aliquando ne intellegi quidem posse, si magni vir ingenii omnibus quae ex quo voluit exemplari traxit formam suam inpressit, ut in unitatem illa conpetant, “I think that sometimes it can be seen who is being imitated if a man of great talent stamps his own form upon all the features which it has drawn from the original, such that they are combined into a unity.”

14 Sen., Ep. 84, 7: Hoc faciat animus noster: omnia quibus est adiutus abscondat, ipsum tantum ostendat quod effecit, “This is what our mind should do: it should hide away all the things by which it has been aided, and only show the thing which it has made.”

15 Sen., Ep. 84, 8: Etiam si cuius in te comparebit similitudo quem admiratio tibi altius fixerit, similem esse te volo quomodo filium, non quomodo imaginem: imago res mortua est, “Even if there shall appear in you a likeness to him who, by reason of your admiration, has left a deep impress upon you, I would have you resemble him as a child resembles his father, and not as a picture resembles its original: a picture is a lifeless thing”. The imagery of father and son in the discussion of imitation provides a useful hook for thinking about “Seneca’s Seneca”, that is, the younger Seneca’s allusions to the elder Seneca’s declamatory corpus. See Trinacty 2009.

16 On the etymology of mut(u)o, see Ernout, Meillet 1959, p. 426.

17 The polyvalence of agnosci may help us to understand the paternal metaphor in thinking of textual predecessors: agnoscere as mental apprehension or identification (OLD 1a s. v. agnoscere) and as the recognition of a child (OLD 2a s. v. agnoscere). In this regard the sentence would make even more sense in the text of Seneca the Elder, who composed it for the sake of his sons.

18 Krapinger 2005, p. 121 n. 269.

19 Macr., Sat. 1 pr. 5‑10 is modeled on Sen., Ep. 84, 2‑10.

20 For recent examinations of book culture and reading, see Winsbury 2009 and Johnson 2010.

21 Quint., X, 1, 19: Lectio libera est nec ut actionis impetu transcurrit, sed repetere saepius licet, sive dubites sive memoriae penitus adfigere velis. Repetamus autem et tractemus et, ut cibos mansos ac prope liquefactos demittimus quo facilius digerantur, ita lectio non cruda sed multa iteratione mollita et velut confecta memoriae imitationique tradatur, “Reading is independent; it does not pass over us with the speed of a performance, and you can go back over it again and again if you have any doubts or if you want to fix it firmly in your memory. Let us go over the text again and work on it. We chew our food and almost liquefy it before we swallow, so as to digest it more easily; similarly, let our reading be made available for memory and imitation, not in an undigested form, but, as it were, softened and reduced to pap by frequent repetition.”

22 Quint., X, 1, 20: Ac diu non nisi optimus quisque et qui credentem sibi minime fallat legendus est, sed diligenter ac paene ad scribendi sollicitudinem nec per partes modo scrutanda omnia, sed perlectus liber utique ex integro resumendus, praecipueque oratio, cuius virtutes frequenter ex industria quoque occultantur, “For a long time, the only authors to be read should be the best and the least likely to betray our trust, and they should be read thoroughly, with almost as much care as we devote to writing. We must do more than examine everything bit by bit; once read, the book must invariably be taken up again from the beginning, especially if it is a speech, the virtues of which are often deliberately concealed.”

23 Quint., X, 1, 21: Saepe enim praeparat dissimulat insidiatur orator, eaque in prima parte actionis dicit quae sunt in summa profutura; itaque suo loco minus placent, adhuc nobis quare dicta sint ignorantibus, ideoque erunt cognitis omnibus repetenda, “The orator often prepares his way, dissembles, lays traps, and says things in the first part of the speech which will prove their value at the end, and are accordingly less striking in their original context, because we do not as yet know why they are said, and therefore have to go back over them when we know the whole text”. Quintilian’s prescriptions can be useful for reading the compositional design of his own text as well. They also anticipate some basic tenets of interpretation in 20th century American New Criticism. Although the issue cannot be addressed here, Quintilian’s interest in the hidden stratagems of texts may also help to explain the declaimer’s emphatic fascination with the bees’ ability to produce honey imperceptibly. Their work is a model of dissimulatio, “dissimulation, concealment”, filled with labor whose workings remain largely unseen by humans.

24 Ps.-Quint., Decl. mai. 13, 4: “Indeed I had gone forth myself as a spectator of the work (you see it was a special pleasure for me) in the hope that I would see how some bees balanced on their wings gathered together their loads, others set down their burdens and hurried forth for new forage and, though rushed at the narrow entrance, still the mass of exiting bees didn’t obstruct those coming in; others would drive out the lazy mass of drones from their military camps, others breathed deeply having grown tired form the long journey, and one bee would spread out his outstretched wings towards the summer sun.”

25 Both labor and opus are used in widely divergent senses, while also forming yet another part of the strategy which conflates the world of the bees with that of their keeper. Yet opus, because of its technical sense of “artistic work” also allows the author to voice metacritical assertions in the speech. The speaker of course means at the literal level “the bees died while working” but hints at the idea that “the bees died in [during] my work [of art]”.

26 On the value of thinking of the fictional elements of declamation and their self-referential possibilities, see Van Mal-Maeder 2007, especially p. 65‑94 on DM 13.

27 The structure of the bees’ death leans on Vergil, Georg. IV, 158‑168. See Krapinger 2005, p. 91 n. 119‑120 with Becker 1904, p. 42‑51 and Tabacco 1979, p. 94‑95.

28 Ps.-Quint., Decl. mai. 13, 6: “Here was a gloomy spectacle and one to be pitied by all but its doer: one fled at the first draught of the baleful juice, vexed by the unaccustomed taste, but having fled was to no avail. Another soared up in search of more distant pasturage and left its life mid-air. This one died at the very first flower. That one lifeless with its feet stiff in death hangs down as it had clung before. Another tired from the effort of flight still creeps languidly along the ground. Yet those whom a slower death brought to their home, as sick bees customarily hang underneath the very entrances, only death separated them entwined in a ball and embracing one another.”

29 Becker 1904, p. 68; Krapinger 2005, p. 94.

30 In the captatio the pauper notes the obscure life he leads. Ps.-Quint., Decl. mai. 13, 2: In hoc ego vitae meae secreto remotus a tumultu civitatis ignobile aevum agere procul ab ambitu et omni maioris fortunae cupiditate constitui et, dum molesta lege naturae transiret aetas, vitam fallere, “In this secluded life I decided to spend my unremarkable days removed from the tumult of the city, far from ambition and any thirst for greater station, and to live unnoticed, until my difficult life should pass by nature’s law”. Perhaps we are meant to think that the poor man’s bees became more-well known than him when he sold their honey in the city, though he does not make the point when the opportunity presents itself; 13, 3: Nec me tanta capiebat voluptas, quod fluentia ceris mella conderem, quod ad sustinendas paupertatis impensas deferrem in urbem quod divites emerent, quam quod adversus omnia lassae taedia aetatis habebam senex, quod agerem, “I didn’t take pleasure so much in storing up honey flowing from the honeycombs to bring it for rich men to buy in support of the expenditures of my poverty; rather I took pleasure in having something to do as an old man against all the tedium of my worn-down life.”

31 Tib., 3, 1, 13‑14: “let horns be painted amidst the twin faces, since in this way is it fitting to send a polished work”. The authorship of the third book of poems does not affect the argument here, since we do not know if the declaimer thought Tibullus the author, and even if he didn’t, the false attribution does not affect the exemplarity of the poem as a way to connect form to content.

32 Krapinger 2005, p. 155 for the references.

33 Ov., Trist. I, 1, 11‑12: “Let not the twin faces be polished with breakable pumice, so that you seem rough with free-flowing hair” (text from Owen 1915). Ovid’s exhortation to leave a book unpolished plays on the traditional associations but reworks them for the needs of his exilic poetry.

34 Catul., 1, 1‑2: Cui dono lepidum novum libellum / arida modo pumice expolitum?; Tib., 3, 1 could more rightly be compared with Catullus’ poem to Varus about Suffenus (Carm. 22), where the considerable expense of Suffenus’ books only sharpens the contrast with the shabby quality of his verses.

35 Krapinger 2005, assembles an impressive list of allusions, building on Becker 1904 and a series of essays by Tabacco 1977‑1978; Tabacco 1978; Tabacco 1979.

36 Winterbottom per litteras notes apud Krapinger 2005, p. 138 n. 345: “the speaker is pointing out to pupils that epilogues may involve such an exhortation [...] though he is not using one here. The epilogue is also signaled by use of the word indignatio just below.”

37 Krapinger 2005, p. 96 n. 144: “Solch versteckte Hinweise scheinen eine Eigenheit unseres Redners zu sein.”

38 The two options are not mutually exclusive. A remarkable virtue of the speech lies in its dual functions as both a pedagogical model and as a meditation on the workings of cultural appropriation.

39 Ps.-Quint., Decl. mai. 13, 18: “You see first they set the foundations with fast bonds, then from the beginning the work grows equally in every direction, nor is anything from these beginnings so little that it is not also perfect in its own measure nor does it need another part.”

40 In the subsequent sentence, which includes the reference to books discussed above, gemina frons, the declaimer employs the term textum (his textis), which can mean the weaving or plaited work in a construction, but also rhetorical style. Cf. Quint., IX, 4, 17 with OLD s. v. 1b.

41 See HWRh s. v. Utile (Spoerhase, Van den Berg 2009, p. 976‑982). The connection of utile and dulce is also, of course, fundamental to poetological considerations, along with the companion verbs prodesse and delectare; cf. Hor., Ars 343‑344: omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci, / lectorem delectando pariterque monendo.

42 Cic., De Or. III, 178: Sed ut in plerisque rebus incredibiliter hoc natura est ipsa fabricata, sic in oratione, ut ea, quae maximam utilitatem in se continerent, plurimum eadem haberent vel dignitatis vel saepe etiam venustatis, “In fact, in the case of speech, nature itself has forged the same wondrous pattern as it has in the majority of other things: what possesses the greatest utility at the same time has the most dignity, and often even the most beauty.”

43 I am paraphrasing Crassus’ fuller argument at Cic., De Or. III, 180: Columnae templa et porticus sustinent; tamen habent non plus utilitatis quam dignitatis. Capitoli fastigium illud et ceterarum aedium non venustas, sed necessitas ipsa fabricata est; nam, cum esset habita ratio, quem ad modum ex utraque tecti parte aqua delaberetur, utilitatem templi fastigi dignitas consecuta est, ut, etiam si in caelo Capitolium statueretur, ubi imber esse non posset, nullam sine fastigio dignitatem habiturum fuisse videatur, “Columns and porticos hold up temples, yet they have no more use than grandeur. Not charm, but necessity itself devised the Capitol’s well-known gable [i. e. of the temple of Juppiter Optimus Maximus] and those of other temples. You see once a way to get water to run off each side of the roof was figured out, the grandeur of the gable soon followed the usefulness of the temple, such that, even were the Capitol built in the sky, where rain cannot fall, it would seem to have no grandeur without the gable” (translation mine).

44 Tac., Dial. 20, 6‑7: Horum igitur auribus et iudiciis obtemperans nostrorum oratorum aetas pulchrior et ornatior extitit. Neque ideo minus efficaces sunt orationes nostrae, quia ad auris iudicantium cum voluptate perveniunt. Quid enim, si infirmiora horum temporum templa credas, quia non rudi caemento et informibus tegulis exstruuntur, sed marmore nitent et auro radiantur?, “By paying attention to their tastes and opinions the age of our orators has become more attractive and adorned. And our speeches are not therefore less effective because they make it to the judges’ ears with pleasure. Well then, do you suppose today’s temples less stable because they are not built up with bare cement and tiles but shine with marble and beam with gold?” (text is Winterbottom 1975).

45 Ps.-Quint., Decl. mai. 13, 15: “You know it seems to me that as other animals were created for our forms of utility, these were born for also for our pleasures, though we should add that those animals which acquire for plowing or travel require much labor before they’re profitable, and, since they must be housed and fed, they can do nothing without humans and they’re only beneficial when forced to be.”

46 Vergil is our first witness to this use of (in)enarrabile. A similarity of scenario as much as of language suggests a connection between DM 13 and the Aeneid, since both indicate the impossibility of full relatability in the context of extended ecphrastic description (cf., somewhat differently, Ov., Ep. II, 2, 59: non est ultra narrabile quicquam). Quintilian (to a limited extent) and especially Pliny the Elder favor inenarrabilis as a term, although the latter does not use it in the discussion of bees.

Auteur

Amherst College (Massachusetts)

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