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Augustus, Chapter 86: His style.
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He [Note 1] cultivated a style which was neat and chaste, avoiding frivolous or harsh language, as well as obsolete words, which he calls disgusting. His chief object was to deliver his thoughts with all possible perspicuity. To attain this end, and that he might nowhere perplex, or retard the reader or hearer, he made no scruple to add prepositions to his verbs, or to repeat the same conjunction several times; which, when omitted, occasion some little obscurity, but give a grace to the style. Those who used affected language, or adopted obsolete words, he despised, as equally faulty, though in different ways. He sometimes indulged himself in jesting, particularly with his friend Maecenas, whom he rallied upon all occasions for his fine phrases, and bantered by imitating his way of talking. Nor did he spare Tiberius, who was fond of obsolete and far-fetched expressions. He charges Mark Antony with insanity, writing rather to make men stare, than to be understood; and by way of sarcasm upon his depraved and fickle taste in the choice of words, he writes to him thus: And are you yet in doubt, whether Cimber Annius or Veranius Flaccus be more proper for your imitation ? Whether you will adopt words which Sallustius Crispus has borrowed from the Origines' of Cato? Or do you think that the verbose empty bombast of Asiatic orators is fit to be transfused into our language? And in a letter where he commends the talent of his grand-daughter, Agrippina, he says, But you must be particularly careful, both in writing and speaking, to avoid affectation. |
Note 1: he = Augustus