Monday, July 1, 2013

Nibley on Rhetoric IX

More of Nibley's comments on rhetoric:
The final plea of the orators in defense of their art was the protest that unscrupulous and unqualified men had misrepresented it inside the profession and out. Rhetoric is a terrible instrument in the hands of the wrong man, we are assured; it is often necessary to defend things like murder which, though bad in themselves, are under certain circumstances innocent and praiseworthy --- the orator can make them seem good or bad at will, and so the most important qualification for every orator to have is honest intent, without which "nothing is more pernicious in public or private affairs than eloquence." So we get the constant refrain that the orator must be a paragon of virtues; his is the most difficult and demanding of all arts requiring qualities of character and brain that are virtually non-existent in this imperfect world. (Hugh Nibley, "Victoriosa Loquacitas," CWHN 10:252.)