Quid ergo? Nos soli ignoramus, nescimus, quisnam sit animarum conditor, quisnam constitutor, quae causa hominem finxerit, mala unde proruperint, vel cur ea rex summus et esse patiatur et confici neque ab rebus propellat humanis? vos enim horum quicquam exploratum habetis et cognitum? si suspicionum exponere volueritis audaciam, potestis explicare ac promere, mundus iste qui nos habet utrumne sit ingenitus an tempore in aliquo constitutus? si constitutus et factus est, quonam operis genere aut rei cuius ob causam? potestis inducere atque expedire rationem, cur non fixus atque immobilis maneat sed orbito semper circumferatur in motus sua ipse se sponte et voluntate circumagat an virtutis alicuius inpulsionibus torqueatur? locus ipse ac spatium, in quo situs est ac volutatur, quid sit? infinitus, finitus, inanis an solidus? quis eum sustineat extremis cardinibus nitens an ipse se potius vi propria sufferat et spiritu interiore suspendat? potestis interrogati planum facere scientissimeque monstrare, quid nivem in plumeas subaperiat crustulas? quidnam fuerit rationis et causae, ut non ab occiduis partibus dies primus exsurgeret et lucem in oriente finiret? quemadmodum sol ipse uno eodemque contactu tam varias res efficiat, quinimmo contrarias? quid sit luna? quid stellae? cur una specie aut illa non maneat, aut per omne mundi corpus frustilla haec ignea convenerit atque oportuerit figi? cur alia ex his parva, ampliora et maiora sint alia, obtunsi haec luminis, acutioris illa et fulgidae claritatis?
(Arnobius, Adversus Nationes 2.58)

What, then, are we alone ignorant? Do we alone not know who is the creator, who the former of souls, what cause fashioned man, whence ills have broken forth, or why the Supreme Ruler allows them both to exist and be perpetrated, and does not drive them from the world? Have you, indeed, ascertained and learned any of these things with certainty? If you chose to lay aside audacious conjectures, can you unfold and disclose whether this world in which we dwell was created or founded at some time? If it was founded and made, by what kind of work, pray, or for what purpose? Can you bring forward and disclose the reason why it does not remain fixed and immoveable, but is ever being carried round in a circular motion? Whether it revolves of its own will and choice, or is turned by the influence of some power? What the place, too, and space is in which it is set and revolves, boundless, bounded, hollow, or solid? Whether it is supported by an axis resting on sockets at its extremities, or rather itself sustains by its own power, and by the spirit within it upholds itself? Can you, if asked, make it clear, and show most skilfully, what opens out the snow into feathery flakes? What was the reason and cause that day did not, in dawning, arise in the west, and veil its light in the east? How the sun, too, by one and the same influence, produces results so different, nay, even so opposite? What the moon is, what the stars? Why, on the one hand, it does not remain of the same shape, or why it was right and necessary that these particles of fire should be set all over the world? Why some of them are small, others large and greater,—these have a dim light, those a more vivid and shining brightness? (tr. Hamilton Bryce & Hugh Campbell)



“Barbarismis, soloecismis obsitae sunt, inquit, res vestrae et vitiorum deformitate pollutae.” puerilis sane atque angusti pectoris reprehensio, quam si admittemus ut vera sit, abiciamus ex usibus nostris quorundam fructuum genera, quod cum spinis nascuntur et purgamentis aliis, quae nec alere nos possunt nec tamen impediunt perfrui nos eo, quod principaliter antecedit et saluberrimum nobis voluit esse natura. quid enim officit, o quaeso, aut quam praestat intellectui tarditatem, utrumne quid grave an hirsuta cum asperitate promatur, inflectatur quod acui an acuatur quod oportebat inflectis? aut qui minus id quod dicitur verum est, si in numero peccetur aut casu, praepositione, participio, coniunctione? pompa ista sermonis et oratio missa per regulas contionibus litibus foro iudiciisque servetur deturque illis immo qui, voluptatum delinimenta quaerentes, omne suum studium verborum in lumina contulerunt. cum de rebus agitur ab ostentatione summotis, quid dicatur spectandum est, non quali cum amoenitate dicatur, nec quid aures commulceat, sed quas adferat audientibus utilitates: maxime cum sciamus etiam quosdam sapientiae deditos non tantum abiecisse sermonis cultum verum etiam, cum possent ornatius atque uberius eloqui, trivialem studio humilitatem secutos, ne corrumperent scilicet gravitatis rigorem et sophistica se potius ostentatione iactarent.
(Arnobius, Adversus Nationes 1.59.1-5)

Your narratives, my opponent says, are overrun with barbarisms and solecisms, and disfigured by monstrous blunders. A censure, truly, which shows a childish and petty spirit; for if we allow that it is reasonable, let us cease to use certain kinds of fruit because they grow with prickles on them, and other growths useless for food, which on the one hand cannot support us, and yet do not on the other hinder us from enjoying that which specially excels, and which nature has designed to be most wholesome for us. For how, I pray you, does it interfere with or retard the comprehension of a statement, whether anything be pronounced smoothly or with uncouth roughness? whether that have the grave accent which ought to have the acute, or that have the acute which ought to have the grave? Or how is the truth of a statement diminished, if an error is made in number or case, in preposition, participle, or conjunction? Let that pomposity of style and strictly regulated diction be reserved for public assemblies, for lawsuits, for the forum and the courts of justice, and by all means be handed over to those who, striving after the soothing influences of pleasant sensations, bestow all their care upon splendour of language. But when we are discussing matters far removed from mere display, we should consider what is said, not with what charm it is said nor how it tickles the ears, but what benefits it confers on the hearers, especially since we know that some even who devoted themselves to philosophy, not only disregarded refinement of style, but also purposely adopted a vulgar meanness when they might have spoken with greater elegance and richness, lest forsooth they might impair the stern gravity of speech and revel rather in the pretentious show of the Sophists. (tr. Hamilton Bryce & Hugh Campbell)