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The figure of the firft Matvoll,
ARTILLERY MASKED BY INFANTRY
(From Robert Ward's Animadversions of Warre, 1639. The dots represent a plan view of the formations, the rear rank of each battalion being shown in elevation.) (See page 257.)
Studies in Philology
"ATTIC PROSE" IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY
Two terms present themselves to the literary historian seeking
'It is perhaps necessary to say that the present paper is part of a more
Various discussions of the Ciceronian movement of the Renaissance are
Montaigne, and Bacon with the frustrated efforts of Erasmus, Budé, and Pico early in the sixteenth century. But it is open to several objections. In the first place, it indicates only revolt, suggests only destructive purposes in a movement that had a definite rhetorical program. Secondly, it may be taken as describing a hostility to Cicero himself, in the opinions of the new leaders, instead of to his sixteenth-century "apes," whereas in fact the supreme rhetorical excellence of Cicero was constantly affirmed by them, as it was by the ancient Anti-Ciceronians whom they imitated. And thirdly, it was not the term usually employed in contemporary controversy, and was never used except by enemies of the new movement. The only name by which its leaders and friends were willing to describe the new style during the century of its triumph, from 1575 to 1700, was "Attic."
For these reasons "Attic" is the preferable term, and should take its place in literary history as the name of the dominant tendency in seventeenth-century prose-style in contrast with that of the sixteenth century. To use it at the present time, however, for this purpose, without a full and clear explanation of the meaning attached to it could only cause positive misunderstanding or utter confusion. For it is a word that has suffered vicissitudes. In current and uncritical literary writing of the last two centuries it has often been employed to designate a style conformed to the conversational customs of a well-trained and sophisticated societythe society of Paris in the eighteenth century rather than of Athens in the age of Pericles. This meaning, it is true, was imposed by a later age than the seventeenth century and might safely be disregarded, the more safely, indeed, because it does not correspond to any of the more important meanings recognized as sound by the best students of antiquity. But unhappily in the usage of classical scholars themselves the word does not now carry a single and definite meaning; and the most recent researches tend to add complexity rather than clearness to its history. For the truth is that it was never a formalized word of rhetorical theory in ancient
Montaigne is franker than any other of the leaders in expressing a dislike of Cicero. Yet he admires his eloquence. "There is no real excellence in him," he says, "unless his eloquence itself is so perfect that it might be called a real and substantive excellence." Of course part of the point of this is, however, in the implied doubt of the value of pure eloquence, in itself; for no Ciceronian would think of doubting it.