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The Oration And Panegyric Addressed To Origen by Gregory Thaumaturgus

Argument I.--For Eight Years Gregory Has Given Up the Practice of

Oratory, Being Busied with the Study Chiefly of Roman Law and the Latin Language.

An excellent thing has silence proved itself in many another person on many an occasion, and at present it befits myself, too, most especially, who with or without purpose may keep the door of my lips, and feel constrained to be silent. For I am unpractised and unskilled in those beautiful and elegant addresses which are spoken or composed in a regular and unbroken train, in select and well-chosen phrases and words; and it may be that I am less apt by nature to cultivate successfully this graceful and truly Grecian art. Besides, it is now eight years since I chanced myself to utter or compose any speech, whether long or short; neither in that period have I heard any other compose or utter anything in private, or deliver in public any laudatory or controversial orations, with the exception of those admirable men who have embraced the noble study of philosophy, and who care less for beauty of language and elegance of expression. For, attaching only a secondary importance to the words, they aim, with all exactness, at investigating and making known the things themselves, precisely as they are severally constituted. Not indeed, in my opinion, that they do not desire, but rather that they do greatly desire, to clothe the noble and accurate results of their thinking in noble and comely language. Yet it may be that they are not able so lightly to put forth this sacred and godlike power (faculty) in the exercise of its own proper conceptions, and at the same time to practise a mode of discourse eloquent in its terms, and thus to comprehend in one and the same mind -- and that, too, this little mind of man -- two accomplishments, which are the gifts of two distinct persons, and which are, in truth, most contrary to each other. For silence is indeed the friend and helpmeet of thought and invention. But if one aims at readiness of speech and beauty of discourse, he will get at them by no other discipline than the study of words, and their constant practice. Moreover, another branch of learning occupies my mind completely, and the mouth binds the tongue if I should desire to make any speech, however brief, with the voice of the Greeks; I refer to those admirable laws of our sages by which the affairs of all the subjects of the Roman Empire are now directed, and which are neither composed nor learnt without difficulty. And these are wise and exact in themselves, and manifold and admirable, and, in a word, most thoroughly Grecian; and they are expressed and committed to us in the Roman tongue, which is a wonderful and magnificent sort of language, and one very aptly conformable to royal authority, but still difficult to me. Nor could it be otherwise with me, even though I might say that it was my desire that it should be. And as our words are nothing else than a kind of imagery of the dispositions of our mind, we should allow those who have the gift of speech, like some good artists alike skilled to the utmost in their art and liberally furnished in the matter of colours, to possess the liberty of painting their word-pictures, not simply of a uniform complexion, but also of various descriptions and of richest beauty in the abundant mixture of flowers, without let or hindrance.

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