, , ,

ὀψέ ποτε καὶ πόρρω τῆς ἡλικίας ἠρξάμεθα Ῥωμαϊκοῖς γράμμασιν ἐντυγχάνειν. καὶ πρᾶγμα θαυμαστὸν μέν, ἀλλ᾽ ἀληθὲς ἐπάσχομεν. οὐ γὰρ οὕτως ἐκ τῶν ὀνομάτων τὰ πράγματα συνιέναι καὶ γνωρίζειν συνέβαινεν ἡμῖν, ὡς ἐκ τῶν πραγμάτων ἁμῶς γέ πως εἴχομεν ἐμπειρίαν ἐπακολουθεῖν δι᾽ αὐτὰ1 καὶ τοῖς ὀνόμασι. κάλλους δὲ Ῥωμαϊκῆς ἀπαγγελίας καὶ τάχους αἰσθάνεσθαι καὶ μεταφορᾶς ὀνομάτων καὶ ἁρμονίας καὶ τῶν ἄλλων οἷς ὁ λόγος ἀγάλλεται, χαρίεν μέν ἡγούμεθα καὶ οὐκ ἀτερπές: ἡ δὲ πρὸς τοῦτο μελέτη καὶ ἄσκησις οὐκ εὐχερής, ἀλλ᾽ οἷστισι πλείων τε σχολὴ καὶ τὰ τῆς ὥρας ἔτι πρὸς τὰς τοιαύτας ἐπιχωρεῖ φιλοτιμίας.

It was therefore late and when I was well on in years that I began to study Roman literature. And here my experience was an astonishing thing, but true. For it was not so much that by means of words I came to a complete understanding of things, as that from things I somehow had an experience which enabled me to follow the meaning of words. But to appreciate the beauty and quickness of the Roman style, the figures of speech, the rhythm, and the other embellishments of the language, while I think it a graceful accomplishment and one not without its pleasures, still, the careful practice necessary for attaining this is not easy for one like me, but appropriate for those who have more leisure and whose remaining years still suffice for such pursuits.

(Dem. 2.2-3 – Translation by Bernadotte Perrin)