No Eggs for a Sophist’s Labor

Sir Philip Sidney, The Defense of Poesy:

Tully, when he was to drive out Catiline as it were with a thunderbolt of eloquence, often used that figure of repetition, as Vivit Vivit? Immo vero etiam in senatum venit, etc. Indeed, inflamed with a well-grounded rage, he would have his words, as it were, double out of his mouth; and so do that artificially, which we see men in choler do naturally. And we, having noted the grace of those words, hale them in sometime to a familiar epistle, when it were too much choler to be choleric. How well store of similiter cadences doth sound with the gravity of the pulpit, I would but invoke Demosthenes’ soul to tell, who with a rare daintiness uses them. Truly they have made me think of the sophister that with too much subtlety would prove two eggs three, and though he might be counted a sophister, had none for his labor. So these men bringing in such a kind of eloquence, well may they obtain an opinion of a seeming fineness, but persuade few,—which should be the end of their fineness.


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