Joseph Joubert (17541824). Joubert: A Selection from His Thoughts. 1899.
Literary Judgments. I. Writers of Antiquity
 THERE will never be a bearable translation of Homer, unless every word in it is chosen with artis full of variety, novelty, and charm. The expression too must be as antique, as unadorned as the manners, the incidents, and the figures that are put upon the stage. With our modern style, everything in Homer is distorted, and the heroes seem like clowns who are aping the grave and the proud.
 Plato shows us nothing, but he brings brightness with him; he puts light into our eyes, and fills us with a clearness by which all objects afterwards become illuminated. He teaches us nothing; but he prepares us, fashions us, and makes us ready to know all. Somehow or other the habit of reading him augments in us the capacity for discerning and entertaining whatever fine truths may afterwards present themselves. Like mountain air, it sharpens our organs, and gives us an appetite for wholesome food. [M.A.]
 No writer had greater boldness of expression than Cicero. You think him cautious and almost timid; and yet no tongue was ever less so than his. His eloquence is limpid; but when it must, it flows in great rapids and cascades.
 In Catullus are found two things which make the worst combination in the world: affectation and coarseness. Generally, however, the principal idea in each of his little pieces is of a happy and innocent kind; his airs are pretty, but his instrument is vulgar.
 The style of Tacitus, although less beautiful, less rich in pleasing colour and in variety of expression, is perhaps more perfect than even that of Cicero; for every word in it has been thought over, and has its exact weight, measure, and quantity. Now, supreme perfection lies in the perfect union of perfect elements.
 In the narratives of Tacitus the interest of the story will not allow us to read little at a time, and the depth and grandeur of expression will not allow us to read much. The mind, as if divided between curiosity which leads it on, and attention which holds it back, feels a certain fatigue; the writer, in fact, takes possession of the reader, to the point of doing him violence.