Wednesday, October 05, 2005

"with a resounding voice"

"In antiquity men read--when they did read, which happened rarely enough--to themselves, aloud, with a resounding voice: that means, with all the crescendos, inflections, and reversals of tone and changes of tempo in which the ancient public world took delight. The laws of written style were then the same as those for spoken style; and these laws depended partly on the amazing development and the refined requirements of ear and larynx, partly on the strength, perseverance, and power of ancient lungs. A period in the classical sense is above all a physiological unit, insofar as it is held together by a single breath. Such periods as are found in Demosthenes and Cicero, swelling twice and coming down twice, all within a single breath, are delights for the men of antiquity who, from their own training, knew how to esteem their virtue and how rare and difficult was the delivery of such a period. We really have no right to the great period, we who are modern and in every sense short of breath."


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