Wednesday, March 9, 2011

That It Is Characteristic of the Same Artist to Speak Both Concisely and Copiously

If indeed it is true, as in Plato, Socrates acutely reasons, that the ability to lie and to tell the truth cleverly are talents of the same man, no artist will better compress speech to conciseness than he who has skill to enrich the same with as varied an ornamentation as possible. For as far as conciseness of speech is concerned, who could speak more tersely than he who has ready at hand an extensive array of words and figures for conciseness? Or as far as concerns conciseness of thought, who would be more able at expressing any subject in the fewest possible words than one who has learned and studied what the matters of special importance in a case are, the supporting pillars, as it were, what are most closely related, what are appropriate for purposes of ornament. No one certainly will see more quickly and more surely what can be suitably omitted than he who has seen what can be added and in what ways.

Erasmus of Rotterdam

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