Suppose you had heard the beast himself?

From Pliny’s Letters (2.3)

Nothing brings you to Rome, myself included, but do come to hear [Isaeus the orator]… You may say that you have authors as eloquent whose works can be read at home; but the fact is that you can read them any time, and rarely have the opportunity to hear the real thing. Besides, we are always being told that the spoken word is much more effective; however well a piece of writing makes its point, anything which is driven into the mind by the delivery and expression, the appearance and gestures of a speaker remains deeply implanted there, unless there is no truth in the tale of Aeschines when he was at Rhodes, who countered the general applause he won for his reading of one of Demosthenes’ speeches with the words: “Suppose you had heard the beast himself?”


Proinde si non ob alia nosque ipsos, at certe ut hunc audias veni… Dices: “Habeo hic quos legam non minus disertos.” Etiam; sed legendi semper occasio est, audiendi non semper. Praeterea multo magis, ut vulgo dicitur, viva vox adficit. Nam licet acriora sint quae legas, altius tamen in animo sedent, quae pronuntiatio vultus habitus gestus etiam dicentis adfigit; nisi vero falsum putamus illud Aeschinis, qui cum legisset Rhodiis orationem Demosthenis admirantibus cunctis, adiecisse fertur: τί δέ, εἰ αὐτοῦ τοῦ θηρίου ἠκοὺσατε

 

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