Quintilian, and J.S. Watson. Institutes of Oratory. Edited by Lee Honeycutt, 2010. Kindle Electronic Edition. Book 8 Chapter 3.
In this chapter Quintilian speaks of embellishment. “By polish and embellishment of style the orator recommends himself to his auditors in his proper character; in his other efforts he courts the approbation of the learned, in this the applause of the multitude” (Quintilian VIII..3.2). The effective use of ornaments can often motivate an audience to support the speaker (Quintilian VIII.3.6). However, Quintilian warns against unhealthy use of embellishments (Quintilian VIII.3.7). “True beauty is never separate from utility” (Quintilian VIII.3.11). Beauty in speech will accomplish something.
To this end, Quintilian advocates great care in choice of words and phrases (Quintilian VIII..3.15). The wording of a speech must be clear and the words fitting to the subject. Harsh speech fits harsh topics, while refined speech fits elegant topics (Quintilian VIII.3.17). Wording should also be chosen based on the age of the language. Older usages are generally more dignified (Quintilian VIII.3.24). However, Quintilian warns against archaic usage which can become ridiculous (Quintilian VIII..3.27). At the same time, use of too many recent words will be distressing to the hearer (Quintilian VIII.3.31). Further, use of metaphorical words is problematic. Quintilian recommends it only to avoid obscenity (Quintilian VIII.3.29).
The matter of “connected discourse” arises next. The overall speaking event must be handled in a consistent and coherent manner (Quintilian VIII.3.40). Quintilian gives numerous examples of groupings of words which should be avoided due to social contexts or their clumsy sounds.
Quintilian further warns against figures of speech which inappropriately treat a situation too lightly or too seriously (Quintilian VIII.3.48). Excessively repetitive language is also problematic (Quintilian VIII.3.50). Excessive wordiness is a common error (Quintilian VIII.3.53). Quintilian notes that an excessively affected style can appear in many different ways. It is always bad (Quintilian VIII.3.56). Various types of poor arrangement can also be classified (Quintilian VIII.3.59).
As the chapter concludes Quintilian gives examples of effective ornamentation by which the speaker can communicate much which is not specifically stated. Effective use of embellishments must, therefore, be practiced and learned (Quintilian VIII.3.71). Quintilian finally gives examples of effective similes, as the most straightforward means of embellishment.