Apollonius Moron on public speaking

‘Pitch your delivery in the middle range,’, instructed Molon [“a lawyer… who had… retired to Rhodes and opened his rhetorical school]. ‘That is where the power is. Nothing too high or low.’ In the afternoons, for speech projection, Molon took him down to the shingle beach, paced out eighty yards (the maximum range of the human voice) and made him declaim against the boom and hiss of the sea – the nearest thing, he said to the murmur of three thousand people in the open air, or the background mutter of several hundred men in conversation in the senate. These were distractions Cicero would have to get used to.

beach Chatelaillon 415.JPG

‘But what about the content of what I say?’, Cicero asked. ‘Surely I will compel attention chiefly by the force of my arguments?’

Molon shrugged. ‘Content does not concern me. Remember Demosthenes: “Only three things count in oratory. Delivery, delivery, and again: delivery.”’

(Robert Harris, Imperium, 2006)

Published by

Paul Hodson

Head of Unit "EnergyEfficiency" at European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy

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