Friday is for Rhetoric! Our Friday survey of rhetoric continues as Quintilian examines imitation of a teacher. If we learn by imitating, what kind examples do we need for mastery?
Quintilian, and J.S. Watson. Institutes of Oratory. Edited by Lee Honeycutt, 2010. Kindle Electronic Edition. Book II, Chapter 3
Quintilian observes that many parents choose to send their children to inferior teachers at the beginning of the educational process (Quintilian II.3.1). It is a preferable idea to secure the best possible training at every level. Quintilian’s opinion is that the best teachers can give the best instruction in the basics (Quintilian II.3.5), that excellent orators have the best oratorical technique, and that the great leaders are always conscious of the simple things (Quintilian II.3.6).
“Is there not then, it may be asked, a certain height of eloquence too elevated for the immaturity of boyhood to comprehend it?” (Quintilian II.3.7). Certainly there are concepts too elevated for a beginning student. However, every good teacher should be able to meet the ability of the student. Even though students imitate other students more easily than they do their teacher, they should still have the best possible teacher, who will find ways to enable good imitation (Quintilian, II.3.11).