Every Latin student has had to do a Cicero speech or two (We do parts of In Verrem and In Catilinam), and you soon learn that Cicero really had basic stock-in-trade rhetorical strategy of “I’m not about to lower myself to mention that you are a scoundrel and a thief”. Anyway for various other legitimate research purposes I was in Cicero’s de Provinciis Consularibus and I found this little amusing snippet:
Quorum ego nihil dico, patres conscripti, nunc in hominem ipsum: de provincia disputo. Itaque omnia illa, quae et saepe audistis et tenetis animis, etiamsi non audiatis, praetermitto; nihil de hac eius urbana, quam ille praesens in mentibus vestris oculisque defixit, audacia loquor; nihil de superbia, nihil de contumacia, nihil de crudelitate disputo. (Cic. Prov. 4,8)
Of those things I say nothing, conscript fathers, against the man himself [I say nothing] now, it is concerning the provinces that I examine. And so all those things, which often you have both heard and held in mind, even if you would have not heard [them], I let them go. I mention nothing of his temerity concerning this city, which he has fixed powerfully in your minds and eyes, nothing on his arrogance, nothing on his obstinacy, nothing concerning his barbarity, do I investigate.
No, yep. None of those things. Won’t mention them. Yes that’s right, we’ll be passing straight over his character entirely, that calumnious obstinate back-stabbing arrogant barbaric son-of-a-bitch, who has been threatening this very city with all manner of indignities, which, I’m sure, you all recall since I last mentioned it, without me having to drag it up all over again. No, but what I want to discuss, is the disposition of the provinces, a matter of high affair and utmost importance to the state, and nothing at all do with how this guy is a villainous blagger and outrageous chancer (just ask those Greeks that he stole all that loot from, if you want to find out about that, because I’m certain not going to talk about it here), but everything to do with, for the very highest of reasons, mind you, of fuck that guy, for entirely impartial and cooly calculated reasons of state, which have nothing at all do with any personal enmity we may have had in the past.