On Being a Modern Gentleman:
Guideline 17: Be Quotable
Being well-versed in the intricacies of language conveys power to a writer and speaker. Consider the myriad writers and poets of the past, idolized for a well-crafted stanza or turn of phrase. In your social circles, you can be idolized and admired for your skill with words. For the modern gentleman, being an orator and a reader, has a way with language.
They say that all roads lead to Rome, and in the case of writing eloquently, they do. Cicero, Roman philosopher, orator, and politician, is often credited with creating prose, as we know it. Classical scholar John William Mackail once wrote that “Cicero’s unique and imperishable glory is that he created the language of the civilized world, and used that language to create a style which nineteen centuries have not replaced, and in some respects have hardly altered.” Cicero’s contemporaries proclaimed that “Cicero” was not only the name of a great man, but a word for eloquence itself. My point? Study Cicero. Read some of his works concerning rhetoric and language, and afterwards, read his private letters.
After spending time with prose’s progenitor, study others. Read other Greek and Roman orators, like Quintillian and Aristotle. Explore exotic places and become acquainted with beautiful language with poets Li Bai, Du Fu, Su Shi (Chinese) and Matsuo Bashō, Ueshima Onitsura, and Yosa Buson (Japanese). And, once you’ve had your fill of the literary, read fiction. Read, read, read. It doesn’t matter if you’re reading James Patterson, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, or Herman Melville, just read.
With hard work and effort, you can become quotable. It really is something to aspire towards.