Writing lessons for Claudius

&Claudius crop


I’m reading I Claudius by Robert Graves. It’s a great book in many ways, not least in the education in writing that young Claudius receives from his teacher Athenodorus.   Claudius writes a description of a huge draft of army recruits parading on Mars Field for the inspection of Emperor Augustus.  Receiving criticism from his teacher, Claudius says:  “I was forced to admit that I had told both too much and too little…  I need not have mentioned that the cavalry had horses: people took that for granted.  And I had twice put in the incident of Augustus’s charger stumbling; once was enough if the horse only stumbled once… On the other hand I had not mentioned several things that he would have been interested to hear – how many recruits there were on parade, how far advanced their military training was, to what garrison town they were being sent, whether they looked glad or sorry to go, what Augustus said to them in their speech.”

I must avoid telling too much and too little.

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