Monday, December 16, 2013

Before movies and TV.............................

"In Rome reputations were made not only at public meetings and in the Senate but also in the law courts.  Ambitious young men in their early twenties often appeared as prosecutors in criminal trials in order to make a name for themselves, not just as lawyers but as potential future politicians.
     "Both rhetoric and the study of literature were also intended to give students an ethical grounding, a moral education which inculcated the virtues of fortitude, justice, and prudence.
     "Public speaking in this complex sense is extinct and it is difficult now to conceive of its power, immediacy and charm.  Just as Samuel Pepys in seventeenth-century England would spend a Sunday going for sermon to sermon for the sheer pleasure of it, so crowds of Romans would pack the Forum, where trials were held in the open air, to listen to and applaud the great advocates of the day as they presented their cases.  The 'Friends, Romans, countrymen' speech in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar gives a hint of how the real thing must have been."

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