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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: June 2019

Chapter 6 - On Length, in Brief (Ep. 1.20)


Epistles 1.20 is an unorthodox plea for length in court speeches. It is also one of the two salient peaks of ‘Quintilian in Brief’, a whole letter modelled, selectively and unpredictably, on Quintilian’s chapter on style (Institutio 12.10). This chapter reads it in detail, for argument and for intertexture, and shows that it is an imitative tableau of unusual complexity, focused on Institutio 12.10 but ranging widely across Quintilian’s work and looking through ‘windows’ to Cicero’s Brutus and Orator. The letter – addressed to Tacitus – also engages obliquely but closely with his Dialogus de oratoribus; Pliny’s anonymous interlocutor, I suggest, is a version of Tacitus’ Aper. A postscript on Epistles 1.21 reads this short note about buying slaves as a wry miniaturisation of Institutio 11, and sharp intertextual annotation of Epistles 1.20 and its virtuosic imitatio.