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De Viris Illustris, c. 106-113 C.E.

Translated by J. C. Rolfe.

[Rolfe Introduction] THE manuscripts of the Dialogus and Agricola of Tacitus contain also a treatise "On Grammar and Rhetoricians," attributed to Suetonius. This work was used by Gellius (Noct. Att. 15.ll) and by Hieronymus, but after the latter's day was lost for many centuries. About the middle of the fifteenth century [the date is variously given: 1455, Teuffel, Gesch. d. röm. Lit.; 1457-8, Gudeman, Grund. z. Gesch. d. kl. Phil.; etc.], in the course of a journey through Germany and Denmark, Enoc of Ascoli [Enoc's discovery of this manuscript has been doubted by some, but is now accepted by most scholars] found the two works of Tacitus and the treatise on Grammarians and Rhetoricians, apparently at Hersfeld and in a single codex, and brought them to Italy. This codex is now lost [Except for one quaternio, now at Esinus (Jesi)], but some eighteen copies of the De Grammaticis et Rhetoribus are in existence, all belonging to fifteenth century, which show remarkable differences in reading, considering that they are derived from a single archetype, and are separated from it by so short a time. These manuscripts, not all of which have been collated, fall into two classes, distinguished from each other by the presence or absence of the index of names at the beginning of the treatise. Roth in his edition of 1858 asserted the superiority of the former class, and Ihm is inclined to agree with him [Rhein. Museum, 61 (1906), p. 543]. Owing to the late date of all the manuscripts, the early printed editions are of some value in the criticism of the text.

The work begins with an index, containing a list of the grammarians and rhetoricians who are to be discussed, which, as has been said, is omitted by some of the manuscripts. This is followed by an introduction on the origin and development of grammatical studies at Rome, and the connection of grammar with rhetoric, after which the individual representatives of the subject are treated. The part devoted to rhetoricians also begins with an introduction on the history of the study, but the work comes to an end after dealing with five of the fifteen persons named in the index.

It has been generally recognized that this treatise on "Grammarians and Rhetoricians" formed part of a larger work by Suetonius, entitled De Viris Illustribus, which treated of Romans who were eminent in the field of literature. It seems to have consisted of five divisions, devoted respectively to Poets, Orators, Historians, Philosophers, and Grammarians and Rhetoricians under one head. The order of the various divisions, or books, cannot be determined [Hieronymus used the De Viris Illustribus of Suetonius as his model in the composition of a work of the same title, devoted to the worthies of the Church, as well as in his translation and enlargement of the "Chronicle" of Eusebius. From the latter numerous fragments of the De Viris Illustribus of Suetonius have been recovered, and the general plan of his work made out]. To judge from the personages treated by Suetonius and those whom he omits, the De Viris Illustribus appears to have been written between 106 and 113 C.E. It was therefore his earliest work, and is in probability the one to which Pliny refers. As the case with the Lives of the Caesars, he apparently set as his limit the close of the reign of Domitian so that Juvenal, Tacitus and the younger Pliny were not included.

While the greater part of the De Viris Illustribus has been lost, some passages of considerable length, in addition to the "Grammarians and Rhetoricians," have been recovered from various sources. These consist of Lives of various Roman writers, prefixed to their works by way of introduction. None of these has come down to us in its original form, and they differ greatly in the amount of abridgment of interpolation to which they have been subject. Those which may properly be included in an edition of Suetonius are the following:

From the book on Poets (De Poetis), to which an index of thirty-three names has been compiled from the references in Hieronymus, we have a Life of Terentius, preserved in the Commentary of Aelius Donatus, of the fourth century, and ascribed by him to Suetonius. A Life of Horatius, which is found in some of the manuscripts, is not directly attributed to Suetonius, but is believed to be his because of the occurrence in it of certain statements which are credited to Suetonius by the scholiasts [See, for example, Porphyrio on Epist. 2.1.1]. A very fragmentary Life of Lucan is assigned to Suetonius also on internal evidence.

With regard to the ultimate authorship of these three Lives there is little, if any, difference of opinion. With regard to three others the agreement is not so general, but they are assigned to Suetonius by some scholars. These are the Life of Vergilius, in Donatus' Commentary, where it is followed by an introduction to the Bucolics from Donatus' own hand; a Life of Tibullus, greatly abridged; and a Life of Persius. The last is directly attributed to Valerius Probus, but in spite of this is believed by many to be Suetonian [See, especially, G. Körtge, In Suet. de Viris Ill. libros Inquisitionum Caput Primum Halis Saxonum, 1899, pp. 41ff.]. The discussion of the varieties of poetry, found in Diomedes, Grammatici Latini, I. 482. 14 ff. K., was assigned to Suetonius by Reifferscheid and printed in his edition of 1860. Schanz also includes this among the fragments of the De Viris Illustribus [Gesch. d. röm. Litt., in Müller's Handbuch, viii.3., p. 53], but on insufficient grounds; see Teuffel, Geschichte der römischen Literatur, 6th ed., iii., p. 57 and the literature there cited. From the Orators (De Oratoribus), with an index of fifteen names, only the brief abstract of the Life of Passienus Crispus has come down to us, preserved in the scholia Pithoeana on Juvenal 4.81, where Passienus is confused with Vibius Crispus. Although his source is not given by the scholiast, the Life is generally attributed to Suetonius. Since in the excerpts from the De Oratoribus made by Hieronymus we find no orator earlier than Cicero, it has been inferred that Suetonius began his biographies with Cicero and treated the earlier orators in a general introduction.

From the Historians, with an index of six names, we have only the Life of Pliny the Elder, which is attributed to Suetonius in the manuscripts which contain it. Here Suetonius seems to have begun with Sallust, discussing the earlier historians in his introduction. From the De Philosophis we have only an index of three names, Marcus Terentius Varro, Publius Nigidius Figulus, and Lucius Annaeus Seneca, which have been recovered from Hieronymus. As in the Lives of the Caesars, Suetonius' sources for the Lives of Illustrious Men were in the main literary, in particular Varro, the previous writers of books of the same title (Nepos, Santra and Hyginus), Asconius and Fenestella. In part through these writers, and perhaps in part directly, his work goes back to the Greek authors Antigonus of Carystos, Aristoxenes, Satyros, and Hermippos. He also made some use of private letters, public documents, hearsay evidence and personal recollection.

The Text of the De Grammaticis et Rhetoribus is in a less satisfactory condition than that of the Caesars. Some manuscipts of the better class have not yet been collated, and Ihm's untimely death has prevented or indefinitely postponed the publication of the second volume of his edition with the text of the fragments. New recensions of the Lives have appeared in various editions of the authors in question and one of the Life of Vergilius by E. Diehl in the Kleine Texte für theologische und philologische Vorlesungen and Uebungen, Bonn, 1911.

THERE are three editions of the De Grammatibus et Rhetoribus that rank as principes: one of uncertain authorship and date, believed by some to have been published by Nicolas Jensen at Venice in 1472, a Venetian edition of 1474, and one issued at Florence in 1478. Other early editions are the Aldine, 1508, based upon the three principes, and those of R. Stephanus, E. Vinetus, and Achilles Statius. In more recent times separate editions have been published by L. Tross, 1841, Fr. Osann, Giessen, 1854, L. Roth, Leipzig, 1858, and A. Reifferscheid, Leipzig, 1860. The last two are still the standard texts. The De Viris Illustribus was first published with the Caesars by Antonius Gryphius at Lyons in 1566 and Th. Pulmann at Antwerp, in 1574. They were followed by Casaubon, and his edition, as others of those mentioned on p. xxvii of Volume I, contains the fragments. In 1863 H. Doergens published an edition at Leipzig with a German translation and a commentary. The only translation into English, so far as I know, is that of T. Forester in the Bohn library; see Volume I, p. xxviii.

SEVERAL of the better manuscripts have before or after the title the following Index: Grammatici:

[Aelius Praeconius], Saevius Nicanor, Aurelius Opilius, M. Antonius Gnipho, M. Pompilius Andronicus, L. Orbilius (Pupillus), L. Ateius Philologus, P. Valerius Cato, Cornelius Epicadius, (Staberius Eros), Curtius Nicias, Lenaeus, Q. Caecilius (Epirota), M. Verrius Flaccus, L. Crassicius, Scribonius Aphrodisius, C. Iulius Hyginus, C. Melissus, M. Pomponius Marcellus, Q. Remmius Palaemon, (M.) Valerius Probus. Rhetores: (L.) Plotius Gallus, L. Voltacilius Plotus, M. Epidius, Sex. Clodius, C. Albucius Silus, L. Cestius Pius, M. Porcius Latro, Q. Curtius Rufus, L. Valerius Primanus, Verginius Flavus, L. Statius Ursulus, P. Clodius Quirinalis, M. Antonius Liberalis, Sex. Iulius Gabinianus, M. Fabius Quintilianus, [M. Tullius Tiro].

[Arkenberg Introduction]. Rolfe's annotations appear in brackets with no attribution; mine are noted. I have also replaced modern place names, as used by Rolfe, with those in use by the Romans and Hellenes; thus, for example, Rolfe's "Italy" is now "Italia".


De Grammaticis.

I. THE study of Grammar was not even pursued at Rome in early days, still less held in any esteem; and naturally enough, since the state was then still uncultivated and given to war, and had as yet little leisure for liberal pursuits. The beginnings of the subject, too, were humble, for the earliest teachers, who were also both poets and Italian Greeks [Livius Andronicus came from Tarentum, and Ennius was a native of Rudiae in Calabria] (I refer to Livius and Ennius, who gave instruction in both tongues at home and abroad, as is well known), did no more than interpret the Greeks or give readings from whatever they themselves had composed in the Latin language. For while some tell us that this same Ennius published a book "On Letters and Syllables" and another "On Meters," Lucius Cotta is right in maintaining that these were not the work of the poet, but of a later Ennius, who is also the author of the volumes "On the Science of Augury."

II. In my opinion then, the first to introduce the study of grammar into our city was Crates of Mallos, a contemporary of Aristarchus. He was sent to the Senate by King Attalus between the second and third Punic wars, at about the time when Ennius died [169 B.C.E.]; and having fallen into the opening of a sewer in the Palatine quarter and broken his leg, he held numerous and frequent conferences during the whole time both of his embassy and of his convalescence, at which he constantly gave instruction, and thus set an example for our countrymen to imitate. Their imitation, however, was confined to a careful criticism of poems which had as yet but little circulation, either those of deceased friends or others that met with their approval, and to making them known to the public by reading and commenting on them. For example, Caius Octavius Lampadio thus treated the Punic War of Naevius, which was originally written in a single volume without a break, but was divided by Lampadio into seven books. At a later time Quintus Vargunteius took up the "Annals" of Ennius, which he expounded on set days to large audiences; and Laelius Archelaus and Vettius Philocomus the satires of their friend Lucilius, which Lenaeus Pompeius prides himself on having read with Archelaus, and Valerius Cato with Philocomus.

III. The foundations of the study were laid, and it was advanced in all directions, by Lucius Aelius of Lanuvium and his son-in-law Servius Clodius, both of whom were Roman equites and men of wide and varied experience in scholarship and statecraft. Aelius had two surnames, for he was called Praeconinus because his father had followed the occupation of a crier ["praeco"] and Stilo [from "stylus", an instrument for writing], because he used to write speeches for all the great men of the day; and he was so devoted to the aristocratic party [Arkenberg: the Optimates, as Cicero called them in the Pro Milone], that he accompanied Metellus Numidicus into exile. Servius stole one of his father-in-law's books before it was published, and being in consequence disowned, left the city through shame and remorse, and fell ill of the gout. Unable to endure the pain, he applied a poisonous drug to his feet, which finally killed him, after he had lived for a time with that part of his body as it were prematurely dead. After this the science constantly grew in favor and popularity, so much so that even the most eminent men did not hesitate to make contributions to it, while at times there are said to have been more than twenty well-attended schools in the city. The grammarians too were so highly esteemed, and their compensation was so ample, that Lutatius Daphnis, whom Laevius Melissus, punning on his name, often called the "darling of Pan," [the pun consists in likening him to the Sicilian Daphnis, the "ideal shepherd," whom Pan taught to play the shepherd's pipe. The early commentators saw a reference to Pan's love for the flocks and shepherds and an implication that Lutatius was rusticus or pecus (cf., Verg. Buc. ii.33)] is known to have been bought for seven hundred thousand sesterces and soon afterwards set free, while Lucius Appuleius was hired for four hundred sesterces a year by Eficius Calvinus, a wealthy Roman eques, to teach a large school [the text is certainly corrupt and the meaning is uncertain; see Ihm, Rh. Mus. 61, p. 550]. In fact, Grammar even made its way into the provinces, and some of the most famous teachers gave instruction abroad, especially in Gallia Togata, including Octavius Teucer, Pescennius Iaccus and Oypius Chares; indeed the last named taught until the very end of his life, when he could no longer walk, or even see.

IV. The term grammaticus became prevalent through Greek influence, but at first such men were called litterati ["men of letters," from "littera"]. Cornelius Nepos, too, in a little book in which he explains the difference between litteratus and eruditus ["man of learning, scholar"] says that the former is commonly applied to those who can speak or write on any subject accurately, cleverly and with authority; but that it should strictly be used of interpreters of the poets, whom the Greeks call grammatici. That these were also called litteratores is shown by Messala Corvinus in one of his letters, in which he says: "I am not concerned with Furius Bibaculus, nor with Ticidas either, or with the litterator Cato." For he unquestionably refers to Valerius Cato, who was famous both as a poet and as a grammarian. Some, however, make a distinction between litteratus and litterator, as the Greeks do between grammaticus and grammatista, using the former of a master of his subject, the latter of one moderately proficient. Orbilius, too, supports this view by examples, saying: "In the days of our forefathers, when anyone's slaves were offered for sale, it was not usual except in special cases to advertise any one of them as litteratus but rather as litterator, implying that he had a smattering of letters, but was not a finished scholar." The grammarians of early days taught rhetoric as well, and we have treatises from many men on both subjects. It was this custom, I think, which led those of later times also, although the two professions had now become distinct, nevertheless either to retain or to introduce certain kinds of exercises suited to the training of orators, such as problems, paraphrases, addresses, character sketches and similar things; doubtless that they might not turn over their pupils to the rhetoricians wholly ignorant and unprepared. But I observe that such instruction is now given up, because of the lack of application and the youth of some of the pupils; for I do not believe that it is because the subjects are underrated. I remember that at any rate when I was a young man, one of these teachers, Princeps by name, used to declaim and engage in discussion on alternate days; and that sometimes he would give instruction in the morning, and in the afternoon remove his desk and declaim. I used to hear, too, that within the memory of our forefathers some passed directly from the grammar school to the Forum and took their place among the most eminent advocates. The following list includes about all the distinguished teachers of the subject, at least those of whose life I am able to give any account.

V. Saevius Nicanor was the first to attain to fame and recognition through his teaching, and besides his commentaries, the greater part of which, however, are said to be stolen, he wrote a satire, in which he shows by the following lines that he was a freedman and had two surnames; "Saevius Nicanor, the freedman of Marcus, may deny this; but Saevius Postumius, who is the same man, and a Marcus as well, will prove it" [the text and the meaning are uncertain, but it is obvious from the preceding sentence that we must have two cognomina. The man's name appears to have been M. Saevius Postumius Nicanor. Thus he was Saevius Nicanor, Saevius Postumius, and Marcus. The meaning of the verbs and of the lines as a whole is obscured by the lack of a context. The textual variants show that this manuscripts had the spelling Posthumius]. Some write that because of some disgrace he retired to Sardinia and there died.

VI. Aurelius Opilius, freedman of an Epicurean, first taught philosophy, afterwards rhetoric, and finally grammar. But when Rutilius Rufus was banished, he gave up his school and followed him to Asia, where he lived with him in Smyrna to old age. He wrote several books on various learned topics nine of which, so he tells us, forming a single work, he appropriately made to correspond with the number of the Muses, and called them by their names, because he considered writers and poets to be under the protection of those divinities. I observe that his surname is given in numerous catalogues and titles with a single L, but he himself writes it with two in an acrostic in a little book of his called "Pinax" [the tablet].

VII. Marcus Antonius Gnipho was born in Gallia of free parents, but was disowned. He was set free by his adoptive father and given an education, at Alexandria, according to some, and in intimate association with Dionysius Scytobrachion; but this I can hardly credit for chronological reasons. It is said that he was a man of great talent, of unexampled powers of memory, and well read not only in Latin but in Greek as well; that his disposition, too, was kindly and good-natured, and that he never made any stipulation about his fees, and therefore received more from the generosity of his pupils. He first gave instruction in the house of the Deified Julius, when the latter was still a boy, and then in his own home. He taught rhetoric too, giving daily instruction in speaking, but declaiming only once a week [literally, "on market days"]. They say also that distinguished men attended his school, including Cicero even while he was praetor. Although he did not live beyond his fiftieth year, he wrote a great deal. Ateius Philologus, however, declares that he left but two volumes, "On the Latin Language," maintaining that the other works attributed to him were those of his pupils and not his own. Yet his own name is sometimes found in them, for example...... [the manuscripts leave off there].

VIII. Marcus Pompilius Andronicus, a native of Syria, because of his devotion to the Epicurean sect, was considered somewhat indolent in his work as a grammarian and not qualified to conduct a school. Therefore, realizing that he was held in less esteem at Rome, not only than Antonius Gnipho, but than others of even less ability, he moved to Cumae, where he led a quiet life and wrote many books. But he was so poor and needy that he was forced to sell that admirable little work of his, "Criticisms of the Annals of Ennius" to someone or other for sixteen thousand sesterces. Orbilius tells us that he bought up these books after they had been suppressed, and caused them to be circulated under their author's name.

IX. Lucius Orbilius Pupillus of Beneventum, left alone in the world by the death of his parents, both of whom were slain on the selfsame day by treacherous enemies, at first earned a living as an attendant on the magistrates. He then served as a soldier in Macedonia, and later in the cavalry. After completing his military service, he resumed his studies, to which he had given no little attention from boyhood; and after teaching for a long time in his native place, he at last went to Rome in his fiftieth year, when Cicero was consul [63 B.C.E.], where he gave instruction with greater renown than profit. For in one of his books, written when he was well on in years, he admits that he was poor and lived under the tiles [that is, in a garret]. He also wrote a book called "Perialogos" [the word is evidently corrupt; perhaps we should read "The Sorrowful Man.' Turnebus suggested a treatise on the folly of teachers in submitting to such unjust treatment], full of complaints of the wrongs which teachers suffered from the indifference or selfishness of parents. Indeed, he was sour-tempered, not only towards rival scholars, whom he assailed at every opportunity, but also towards his pupils, as Horatius implies when he calls him "the flogger" [Hor. Epist. 2.1.70], and Domitius Marsus in the line: "Whomever Orbilius thrashed with rod or with whiplash of leather." He did not even refrain from gibes at men of distinction; for when he was still obscure and was giving testimony in a crowded courtroom, being asked by Varro, the advocate on the other side, what he did and what his profession was, he replied: "I remove hunchbacks from the sun into the shade." Now Murena [Varro Murena. Macrobius, Saturn. 2.6, tells the same story of Galba, father of the emperor (cf., Galba, iii), but gives the reply of Orbilius as "in sole gibbos soleo fricare," or "I rub humps in the sun." Neither remark seems to have any point except the allusion to Murena's deformity, unless Suetonius' version means "I put them into the background," or "consign them to obscurity." The commentators confine themselves to quoting Macrobius. Arkenberg: For more on Varro Murena see my articles "Licinii Murenae, Terentii Varrones, and Varrones Murenae: I. A Prosopographical Study of Three Roman Families," Historia XLII/3 (1993): 326-351; and "Licinii Murenae, Terentii Varrones, and Varrones Murenae: II. The Enigma of Varro Murena," Historia, XLII/4 (1993): 471-491] was hunchbacked. Orbilius lived to be nearly a hundred, having long since lost his memory, as is shown by the verse of Bibaculus: "Where is Orbilius, pray, great learning's tomb?" His marble statue may be seen at Beneventum, on the left side of the capitol, representing him seated and clad in a Greek mantle, with two book-boxes by his side. He left a son Orbilius, who was also a teacher of grammar.

X. Lucius Ateius Philologus was a freedman, born at Athens. The well-known jurist Ateius Capito says that he was "a rhetorician among grammarians and a grammarian among rhetoricians." Asinius Pollio, too, in the book in which he criticizes the writings of Sallust, as marred by an excessive effort for archaism, writes as follows: "He was especially abetted in this by Ateius Praetextatus, a famous Latin grammarian, afterwards a critic and teacher of declamation and finally self-styled Philologus." Ateius himself wrote to Laelius Hermas that he had made great progress in Greek letters and some in Latin, had been a pupil of Antonius Gnipho......[the text is corrupt and no satisfactory emendation has as yet been proposed; see Ihm, Rh. Mus. 61, p. 551. Vahlen, Index Lectionum, Berlin, 1877, suggested "theoremata," which would give the meaning "and afterwards taught his (Gnipho's) theories."] and afterwards a teacher; further, that he had given instruction to many eminent young men, including the brothers Appius and Claudius Pulcher, whom he had also accompanied to their province. He seems to have assumed the title Philologus, because like Eratosthenes, who was first to lay claim to that surname, he regarded himself as a man of wide and varied learning. And that he was such is evident from his commentaries, though very few of them survive; but he gives some idea of their number in a second letter to the aforesaid Hermas: "Remember to recommend my Hyle [a Greek word, equivalent to "Silva", meaning literally "timber" for building, and used metaphorically of material in a rough form; here of material for oratory. Silva is also applied technically to hasty and more or less extempore productions; cf., Quint. 10.3.17, diversum est huic eorum vitium, qui primo decurrere per materiam stilo quam velocissimo voluntet sequentes calorem atque impetum ex tempore scribunt; hanc silvam vocant.] to others; as you know, it consists of material of every kind, collected in eight hundred books." He was afterwards a close friend of Gaius Sallustius, and after Sallust's death, of Asinius Pollio; and when they set about writing history, he provided the one with an epitome of all Roman story, from which to select what he wished, and the other with rules on the art of composition. This makes me wonder all the more that Asinius believed that Ateius used to collect archaic words and expressions for Sallust; for he knows that the grammarian's strongest recommendation to him was to use familiar, unassuming, natural language, especially avoiding Sallust's obscurity and his bold figures of speech.

XI. Publius Valerius Cato, according to some writers, was the freedman of a certain Bursenus from Gallia; but he himself, in a little work called "Indignation," declares that he was freeborn but was left an orphan; so that he was the more easily stripped of his patrimony in the lawless times of Sulla. He had many distinguished pupils and was regarded as a very competent teacher, especially of those who had a bent for poetry, as indeed is especially evident from these verses: "Cato, teacher of letters, Siren Latin-born, He, and none other, poets reads and makes." Besides books of a grammatical character, he wrote poems also, of which the most highly esteemed are the "Lydia" and the "Diana." Ticidas says of the former: "Lydia, a book most dear to cultured minds." And Cinna of the latter: "For ages may our Cato's Dian live." He reached an advanced age, but in extreme poverty and almost in destitution, buried in a little hovel, after he had given up his villa at Tusculum to his creditors, as Bibaculus tells us:

"If haply one has seen my Cato's house,
His shingles stained with red,
His garden over which Priapus watched:
One can but wonder by what training he
To such a height of wisdom has attained.
That three small cabbages, half a pound of meal,
And clusters twain of grapes beneath one roof
Suffice for him when well-nigh at life's end."

And again:

"Gallus, but now our Cato's creditor
His Tusculanum offered through the town.
We wondered that the master without peer,
The great grammarian, chief among our poets,
Could solve all questions, solvent could not be.
Lo! Crates' heart, mind of Zenodotus."

XII. Cornelius Epicadius was a freedman of Lucius Cornelius Sulla, the dictator, and one of his servants in the augural priesthood, besides being a great favorite of his son Faustus. Therefore he always declared that he was the freedman of both. He himself supplied the last book of Sulla's "Autobiography," which the dictator left unfinished.

XIII. Staberius Eros was purchased with his own savings at a public sale and formally manumitted because of his devotion to literature. He numbered among his pupils Brutus and Cassius. Some say that he was so noble-minded that in the times of Sulla he admitted the children of the proscribed to his school free of charge and without any fee.

XIV. Curtius Nicias was an adherent of Gnaeus Pompeius and Gaius Memmius; but having brought a note from Memmius to Pompeius Magnus's wife with an infamous proposal, he was betrayed by her, lost favor with Pompeius Magnus, and was forbidden his house. He was an intimate friend of Marcus Cicero too, and in a letter of the orator's to Dolabella [Ad Fam. 9.10] we read these words about Nicias: "I think there is nothing going on in Rome which you are interested in knowing, unless perhaps you would like to know that I am acting as arbiter between our friend Nicias and Vidius. The one presents a note for payment, consisting of two lines, I believe. The other, like an Aristarchus, marks them with an obelus [the critical mark used to indicate spurious or interpolated lines; that is, Vidius denies the debt]. I, like a critic of old, am to decide whether they are the poet's, or a forgery." In another letter to Atticus [Ad Att. 12.26] "As to what you write of Nicias, if I were in a position to enjoy his learned society, I should particularly like to have him with me; but my province is solitude and retirement. Besides you know our friend Nicias' weakness, self-indulgence, and mode of life. Why then should I wish to bore him, when he can give me no pleasure? Nevertheless I appreciate his desire." Santra likewise commends his books "On Lucilius."

XV. Lenaeus, freedman of Pompeius Magnus and his companion in almost all his campaigns, on the death of his patron and his sons supported himself by a school, teaching in the Carinae, near the temple of Tellus, the quarter of the city in which the house of the Pompeius Magnus was formerly situated. He was so devoted to his patron's memory, that because the historian Sallust wrote that Pompeius Magnus had "an honest face but a shameless character," he tore Sallust to pieces in a biting satire, calling him "a debauchee, a gormandizer, a spendthrift, and a tippler, a man whose life and writings were monstrous, and who was besides an ignorant pilferer of the language of the ancients and of Cato in particular." It is further said that when Lenaeus was still a boy he was stolen from Athens, made his escape and returned to his native land, and after acquiring a liberal education, offered the price of his liberty to his former master, but received his freedom as a gift because of his ability and learning.

XVI. Quintus Caecilius Epirota, born at Tusculum, was a freedman of Atticus, a Roman eques, the correspondent of Cicero. While he was teaching his patron's daughter, who was the wife of Marcus Agrippa, he was suspected of improper conduct towards her and dismissed; whereupon he attached himself to Cornelius Gallus and lived with him on most intimate terms, a fact which Augustus made one of his heaviest charges against Gallus himself [cf., Aug. lxvi.1-2]. After the conviction and death of Gallus [25 B.C.E.] he opened a school, but took few pupils and only grown up young men, admitting none under age, except those to whose fathers he was unable to refuse that favor. He is said to have been the first to hold extempore discussions in Latin, and the first to begin the practice of reading Vergilius and other recent poets, a fact also alluded to by Domitius Marsus in the verse: "Epirota, fond nurse of fledgling bards."

XVII. Marcus Verrius Flaccus, a freedman, gained special fame by his method of teaching. For to stimulate the efforts of his pupils, he used to pit those of the same advancement against one another, not only setting the subject on which they were to write, but also offering a prize for the victor to carry off. This was some old book, either beautiful or rare. He was therefore chosen by Augustus as the tutor of his grandsons and he moved to the Palace with his whole school, but with the understanding that he should admit no more pupils. He gave instruction in the hall of the house of Catulus [Q. Lutatius Catulus], which at that time formed part of the Palace, and was paid a hundred thousand sesterces a year. He died at an advanced age under Tiberius. His statue stands at Praeneste in the upper part of the forum near the hemicycle [a semi-circular place for sitting; applied also by Vitruvius, 9.9.1, to a kind of sundial], on which he exhibited the calendar [the Fasti Praenestini, of which fragments have come down to us] which he had arranged and inscribed upon its marble walls.

XVIII. Lucius Crassicius, a Tarentine by birth and a freedman by position, had the surname Pasicles, which he afterwards changed to Pansa. He was at first connected with the stage, as an assistant to the writers of farces; then he gave instruction in a school [a "pergula" was an upper floor or balcony on the front of a house; such balconies were used as shops, studios, schools, and the like; cf., Aug. xciv.12], until he became so famous through the publication of his commentary on the "Zmyrna," that the following verses were written about him:

"Zmyrna will trust her fate but to Crassicius;
Cease then to woo her, you unlettered throng.
She has declared none other will she wed,
Since he alone her hidden charms do know."

But when he had already attracted many pupils of high rank, including Iullus Antonius, the triumvir's son [Arkenberg: that is, the son of Marcus Antonius], so that he was a rival even of Verrius Flaccus, he suddenly disbanded his school and became a disciple of the philosopher Quintus Sextius.

XIX. Scribonius Aphrodisius, slave and pupil of Orbilius, afterwards bought and set free by Scribonia, daughter of Libo, who had formerly been the wife of Augustus [Aug., lxii.2], taught at the same time as Verrius. He wrote a critique of Verrius' "Orthography," at the same time attacking the author's scholarship and character.

XX. Gaius Iulius Hyginus, a freedman of Augustus and a native of Hispania by birth (some think that he was a native of Alexandria and was brought to Rome when a boy by Caesar after his capture of the city), was a zealous pupil and imitator of the Greek grammarian Cornelius Alexander, whom many called "Polyhistor" because of his knowledge of the past, and some "Historiam." Hyginus was in charge of the Palatine Library [Aug. xxix.3], but nevertheless took many pupils. He was an intimate friend of the poet Ovid and of Clodius Licinius the ex-consul and historian, who tells us that Hyginus died very poor after being supported as long as he lived by the writer's generosity. He had a freedman Iulius Modestus, who followed in his patron's footsteps as student and scholar.

XXI. Gaius Melissus, a native of Spoletium, was freeborn, but was disowned owing to a disagreement between his parents. Nevertheless, through the care and devotion of the man who reared him, he received a superior education, and was presented to Maecenas as a grammarian. Finding that Maecenas appreciated him and treated him as a friend, although his mother claimed his freedom, he yet remained in a condition of slavery, since he preferred his present lot to that of his actual origin. In consequence he was soon set free, and even won the favor of Augustus. At the emperor's appointment he undertook the task of arranging the library in the Colonnade of Octavia [See Aug. xxix.4]. In his sixtieth year, as he himself writes, he began to compile his volumes of "Trifles," now entitled "Jests," of which he completed a hundred and fifty; and he later added other volumes of a different character. He likewise originated a new kind of togatae [the fabulae togatae presented scenes from Roman life, in contrast with the fabulae palliatae, or comedies adapted from the Greek], to which he gave the name of trabeatae.

XXII. Marcus Pomponius Marcellus, a most pedantic critic of the Latin language, in one of his cases (for he sometimes acted as an advocate) was so persistent in criticizing an error in diction made by his opponent, that Cassius Severus appealed to the judges and asked for a postponement, to enable his client to employ a grammarian in his stead: "For," said he, "he thinks that the contest with his opponent will not be on points of law, but of diction." When this same Marcellus had criticized a word in one of Tiberius' speeches, and Ateius Capito declared that it was good Latin, or if not, that it would surely be so from that time on, Marcellus answered: "Capito lies; for you, Caesar, can confer citizenship upon men, but not upon a word." That he had formerly been a boxer is shown by this epigram which Asinius Pollio made upon him:

"He who learned 'Head to the left' explains to us difficult language;
Talent indeed he has none, merely a pugilist's skill."

XXIII. Quintus Remmius Palaemon, of Vicetia, was the home-born slave of a woman. He first, they say, learned the weaver's trade, and then got an education by accompanying his master's son to school. He was afterwards set free, and became a teacher at Rome, where he held a leading rank among the grammarians, in spite of the fact that he was notorious for every kind of vice, and that Tiberius and later Claudius openly declared that there was no one less fitted to be trusted with the education of boys or young men. But he caught men's fancy by his remarkable memory, as well as by his readiness of speech; for he even extemporized poems. He wrote, too, in various uncommon meters. He was so presumptuous that he called Marcus Varro "a hog"; declared that letters were born with him and would die with him; and that it was no accident that his name appeared in the "Bucolics" [Verg. Buc. 3.50] but because Vergilius divined that one day a Palaemon would be judge of all poets and poems. He boasted too that brigands once spared him because of the celebrity of his name. He was so given to luxurious living that he went to the bath several times a day, and could not live within his income, although he received four hundred thousand sesterces a year from his school and almost as much from his private property. To the latter he gave great attention, keeping shops for the sale of ready-made clothing and cultivating his fields with such care that it is common talk that a vine which he grafted himself yielded three hundred and sixty bunches of grapes. But he was especially notorious for acts of licentiousness with women, which he carried to the pitch of shameful indecency; and they say that he was held up to scorn by the witty remarks of a man who met him in a crowd and being unable to escape his kiss, although he tried to avoid it, cried: "Master, do you wish to mouth everyone whom you see in a hurry?"

XXIV. Marcus Valerius Probus of Berytus [Arkenberg: modern Beirut] for a long time sought an appointment as centurion, finally grew tired of waiting, and devoted himself to study. He had read some early writers with an elementary teacher in one of the provinces; for the memory of those writers still lingers there and is not wholly lost, as it is in Rome. When he took these up again with greater care, and sought to extend his acquaintance to others of the same period, although he perceived that they were all held in contempt and brought rather reproach to those who read them than honor and profit, he nevertheless persisted in his purpose. After getting together a large number of copies, he gave his attention to correcting and punctuating them, and furnishing them with critical notes, devoting himself to this branch of grammar to the exclusion of all others. He had a few followers, rather than pupils; for he never taught in such a way as to assume the sole of a master. He used to receive one or two, or at most three or four, in the afternoon hours, when he would lie upon a couch and in the course of long and general Conversations would read some few things, though very rarely. He published a few slight works on divers minute points, and also left a good sized "Grove of Observations on our Early Language."

De Rhetoribus.

I. THE study of rhetoric was introduced into our country in about the same way as that of grammar, but with somewhat greater difficulty, since, as is well known, its practice was at times actually prohibited. To remove any doubt on this point, I shall append an ancient decree of the Senate, as well as an edict of the Censors: "In the consulship of Gaius Fannius Strabo and Marcus Valerius Messala [161 B.C.E.] the praetor Marcus Pomponius laid a proposition before the Senate. As the result of a discussion about philosophers and rhetoricians, the Senate decreed that Marcus Pomponius, the praetor, should take heed and provide, in whatever way seemed in accord with the interests of the State and his oath of office, that they be not allowed to live in Rome." Some time afterward the censors Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and Lucius Licinius Crassus [92 B.C.E.] issued the following edict about the same class of men: "It has been reported to us that there be men who have introduced a new kind of training, and that our young men frequent their schools; that these men have assumed the title of Latin rhetoricians, and that young men spend whole days with them in idleness. Our forefathers determined what they wished their children to learn and what schools they desired them to attend. These innovations in the customs and principles of our forefathers do not please us nor seem proper. Therefore it appears necessary to make our opinion known, both to those who have such schools and to those who are in the habit of attending them, that they are displeasing to us." By degrees rhetoric itself came to seem useful and honorable, and many devoted themselves to it as a defense and for glory. Cicero continued to declaim in Greek as well as Latin up to the time of his praetorship, and in Latin even when he was getting on in years; and that too in company with the future consuls Hirtius and Pansa, whom he calls "his pupils and his big boys." Some historians assert that Gnaeus Pompeius resumed the practice of declaiming just before the civil war, that he might be the better able to argue against Gaius Curio, a young man of very ready tongue, who was espousing Caesar's cause; and that Marcus Antonius, and Augustus as well, did not give it up even during the war at Mutina [cf., Aug. lxxxiv.1]. The emperor Nero declaimed in the first year of his reign, and had also done so in public twice before. Furthermore, many even of the orators published declamations. In this way general enthusiasm was aroused, and a great number of masters and teachers flocked to Rome, where they were so well received that some advanced from the lowest estate to senatorial dignity and to the highest magistracies. But they did not all follow the same method of teaching, and the individual teachers also varied in their practice, since each one trained his pupils in various ways. For they would explain fine speeches with regard to their figures, incidents and illustrations, now in one way and now in another, and compose narratives sometimes in a condensed and brief form, again with greater detail and flow of words. Sometimes they would translate Greek works, and praise or censure distinguished men. They would show that some practices in everyday life were expedient and essential, others harmful and superfluous. Frequently they defended or assailed the credibility of myths, an exercise which the Greeks call "destructive" and "constructive" criticism. But finally all these exercises went out of vogue and were succeeded by the debate. The earlier debates were based either upon historical narrative, as indeed is sometimes the case at present, or upon some event of recent occurrence in real life. Accordingly they were usually presented with even the names of the localities included. At any rate that is the case with the published collections, from which it may be enlightening to give one or two specimens word for word. "Some young men from the city went to Ostia in the summer season, and arriving at the shore, found some fishermen drawing in their nets. They made a bargain to give a certain sum for the haul. The money was paid and they waited for some time until the nets were drawn ashore. When they were at last hauled out, no fish was found in them, but a closed basket of gold. Then the Purchasers said that the catch belonged to them, the fishermen that it was theirs." "When some dealers were landing a cargo of slaves from a ship at Brundisium, they dressed a handsome and high-priced young slave in the amulet and fringed toga [the dress of a freeborn youth of good family; cf., Jul. lxxxiv.4; the bulla was also a badge of free birth] for fear of the collectors of customs, and their fraud easily escaped detention. When they reached Rome, the case was taken to court and a claim was made for the slave's liberty, on the ground that his master had voluntarily freed him." Such discussions they formerly called by their Greek name of "syntheses," [compositions] but afterwards "debates"; but they might be either fictitious or legal. The eminent teachers of the subject, of whom any account is to be found, are limited pretty closely to those whom I shall mention.

II. Of Lucius Plotius Gallus, Cicero gives the following account in a letter to Marcus Titinnius [the letter has not been preserved]: "I well remember that when we were boys, a certain Plotius first began to teach in Latin. When crowds flocked to him, for all the most diligent students of the subject were trained under him, I regretted not having the same privilege. But I was deterred by the advice of certain men of wide experience, who believed that one's mind could better be trained by exercises in Greek." Marcus Caelius, in a speech in which he defended himself against a charge of violence, implies that this same Plotius, for he lived to a great age, supplied Caelius' accuser, Atratinus, with his plea [that is, his speech in support of the charge against Caelius]; and without mentioning him by name, Caelius calls him a "barley-bread rhetorician," mocking at him as "puffy, light, and coarse."

III. Lucius Voltacilius Plotus is said to have been a slave and even to have served as a doorkeeper in chains, according to the ancient custom, until he was set free because of his talent and interest in letters, and helped his patron prepare his accusations. Then becoming a teacher of rhetoric, he had Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus for a pupil, and wrote a history of the exploits of Pompeius Magnus' father, as well as those of the son, in several volumes. In the opinion of Cornelius Nepos, he was the first of all freedmen to take up the writing of history, which up to that time had been confined to men of the highest position.

IV. Marcus Epidius, notorious as a blackmailer, opened a school of oratory and numbered among his pupils Marcus Antonius and Augustus; and when they once jeered at Gaius Cannutius because he preferred to side with the political party of Isauricus, the ex-consul, Cannutius rejoined: "I would rather be a disciple of Isauricus than of a false accuser like Epidius." This Epidius claimed descent from Epidius of Nuceria, who, it is said, once threw himself into the source of the river Sarnus and came out shortly afterwards with bull's horns on his head; then he at once disappeared and was reckoned among the number of the gods.

V. Sextus Clodius, of Sicily, a teacher of both Greek and Latin oratory and man with poor sight and a sharp tongue, used to say that he had worn out a pair of eyes [used in a double sense, implying that he had ruined his eyes by dissipation and late hours in Antonius' company] during his friendship with Marcus Antonius, the triumvir. He also said of the latter's wife, Fulvia, one of whose cheeks was somewhat swollen: "She tempts the point of my pen" [used in a double sense; she tempts me to (1) write a sharp epigram on her; (2) lance her cheek]; and by this witticism he rather gained than lost favor with Antonius. When Antonius presently became consul, Clodius received from him an enormous gift, as Cicero charges against Antonius in his "Philippics": " For the sake of his jokes you employ a schoolmaster, elected a rhetorician by your vote and those of your pot-companions, and you have allowed him to say anything he likes about you; a witty fellow, no doubt, but it is not a hard matter to say clever things of you and your mates. But what pay does this rhetorician receive? Listen, senators, listen, and know the wounds which our country suffers You made over to this rhetorician, Sextus Clodius, two thousand acres of the Leontine territory, and free of taxes too, that at so great a price you might learn to know nothing."

VI. Gaius Albucius Silus of Novara, while he was holding the office of aedile in his native town and chanced to be sitting in judgment, was dragged by the feet from the tribunal by those against whom he was rendering a decision. Indignant at this, he at once made for the gate and went off to Rome; there he was admitted to the house of the orator Plancus, who had the habit, when he was going to declaim, of calling upon someone to speak before him. Albucius undertook that role, and filled it so effectively, that he reduced Plancus to silence, since he did not venture to enter into competition. But when Albucius had thus become famous, he opened a lecture room of his own, where it was his habit, after proposing a subject for a debate, to begin to speak from his seat, and then as he warmed up, to rise and make his peroration on his feet. He declaimed, too, in various manners, now in a brilliant and ornate style, and at another time, not to be thought invariably academic, speaking briefly, in everyday language and all but that of the streets. He also pleaded causes, but rather seldom, taking part only in those of greatest importance, and even then confining himself to summing them up. Later, he withdrew from the Forum, partly through shame and partly through fear. For in a case before the Hundred he had offered his opponent, whom he was inveighing against as undutiful towards his parents, the privilege of taking oath but merely as a figure of speech, using the following language: "Swear by the ashes of your father and mother, who lie unburied"; and made other remarks in the same vein. His opponent accepted the challenge; and since the judges made no objection, Albucius lost his case to his great humiliation. Again, when he was defending a client in a murder trial at Mediolanum before the proconsul Lucius Piso, and the lictors tried to suppress the immoderate applause, he grew so angry, that lamenting the condition of Italia and saying that "it was being reduced once more to the form of a province," he called besides upon Marcus Brutus, whose statue was in sight, as "the founder and defender of our laws and liberties"; and for that he narrowly escaped punishment. When already well on in years, he returned to Novara because he was suffering from a tumor, called the people together and explained in a long set speech the reasons which led him to take his life, and then starved himself to death.

De Poetis.

[The following Index has been compiled from Hieronymus: L. Livius Andronicus, Gn. Naevius, T. Maccius Plautus, Q. Ennius, Statius Caecilius, P. Terentius Afer, M. Pacuvius, L. Accius, Sex. Turpilius, C. Lucilius, P. Quintius Atta, L. Afranius, L. Pomponius, T. Lucretius Carus, M. Furius Bibaculus, C. Valerius Catullus, P. Terentius Varro, D. Laberius, P. Publilius Lochius, Cornificius, M. Bavius, C. Cornelius Gallus, Aemilius Macer, Quintilius Varus, P. Vergilius Maro, Albius Tibullus, Sex. Propertius, Q. Horatius Flaccus, L. Varius Rufus, P. Ovidius Naso, Philistio, A. Persius Flaccus, M. Annaeus Lucanus.]

De Vita Terenti (The Life of Terence).

I. Publius Terentius Afer, born at Carthage, was the slave at Rome of Terentius Lucanus, a senator, who, because of the young man's talent and good looks, not only gave him a liberal education, but soon set him free. Some think that he was taken in war, but Fenestella shows that that could not possibly be, since Terentius was born and died between the end of the second Punic war and the beginning of the third [201-149 B.C.E.]; and even if he had been taken by the Numidians and Gaetulians, he could not have come into the hands of a Roman general, since commerce between the Italic and the African races did not begin until after the destruction of Carthage [146 B.C.E.]. He lived on intimate terms with many men of high rank, in particular with Scipio Africanus and Gaius Laelius. It is even thought that he won the favor of these two men by his youthful beauty, but Fenestella denies this too, maintaining that he was older than either of them. Nepos, however, writes that they were all three of an age, and Porcius rouses a suspicion of too great intimacy in the following words: "Though he courted the wantonness of great men and their counterfeit [vocem divinam inhiat, Muretus; voce dum et inhuius et, A; the other manuscripts have voce divina inhiat] praise, though with greedy ears he drank in the divine voice of Africanus, though he thought it fine to frequent the tables of Philus and Laelius, though he was often taken to the Alban villa because of his youthful charms, he later found himself stripped of his all and reduced to utmost want. So he withdrew from the sight of men to a remote part of Greece and died at Stymphalus, a town of Arcadia. Naught availed him Publius Scipio, naught Laelius, naught Furius, the three wealthiest nobles of that time. Their help did not give him even a rented house, to provide at least a place where his slave might announce his master's death."

II. He wrote six comedies, and when he offered the first of these, the "Andria," to the aediles, they bade him first read it to Caecilius. Having come to the poet's house when he was dining, and being meanly clad, Terentius is said to have read the beginning of his play sitting on a bench near the great man's couch. But after a few lines he was invited to take his place at table, and after dining with Caecilius, he ran through the rest to his host's great admiration. Moreover, this play and the five others were equally pleasing to the people, although Vulcatius in enumerating them all, writes thus:

"The sixth play, the 'Hecyra,' will not be included" [text and meaning are uncertain; Dziatzko suggested "submaeret poeta Hecyra sextaa exclusa fabula"]. The "Eunuch" was even acted twice in the same day and earned more money than any previous comedy of any writer, namely eight thousand sesterces; and for this reason the sum is included in the title-page [the didascalia]. Indeed Varro rates the beginning of the "Adelphoe" above that of Menander [that is, presumably, the beginning of the play of Menander on which the Adelphoe is based].

III. It is common gossip that Scipio and Laelius aided Terentius in his writings, and he himself lent color to this by never attempting to refute it, except in a half-hearted way, as in the prologue to the "Adelphoe": "For as to what those malicious critics say, that men of rank aid your poet and constantly write in concert with him; what they regard as a grievous slander he considers the highest praise, to please those who please you all and all the people, whose timely help everyone has used without shame in war, in leisure, in business." Now he seems to have made but a lame defense, because he knew that the report did not displease Laelius and Scipio; and it gained ground in spite of all and came down even to later times. Gaius Memmius in a speech in his own defense says: "Publius Africanus, who borrowed a mask from Terentius, and put upon the stage under his name what he had written himself for his own amusement at home." Nepos says that he learned from a trustworthy source that once at his villa at Puteoli Gaius Laelius was urged by his wife to come to dinner at an earlier hour than common on the Kalends of March, but begged her not to interrupt him. When he at last entered the dining-room at a late hour, he said that he had seldom written more to his own satisfaction; and on being asked to read what he had written, he declaimed the lines of the "Heautontimorumenos," beginning: "Impudently enough, by Heaven, has Syrus lured me here by promises."

IV. Santra thinks that if Terentius had really needed help in his writing, he would not have been so likely to resort to Scipio and Laelius, who were then mere youths, as to Gaius Sulpicius Gallus, a scholarly man, at whose consular games he brought out his first play, or to Quintus Fabius Labeo and Marcus Popillius, both of whom were ex-consuls and poets; and that it was for that reason that he spoke, not of "young men" who were said to help him, but "men whose mettle the people had tried in war, in leisure, in business." After publishing these comedies before he had passed his twenty-fifth year, either to escape from the gossip about publishing the work of others as his own, or else to become versed in Greek manners and customs, which he felt that he had not been wholly successful in depicting in his plays, he left Rome and never returned. Of his death Vulcatius writes in these words: "But when Afer had presented six comedies to the people, he journeyed from here to Asia, but from the time he embarked was never seen again; thus he vanished from life."

V. Quintus Cosconius writes that he was lost at sea as he was returning from Greece with one hundred and eight plays adapted from Menander; the rest of our authorities declare that he died at Stymphalus in Arcadia, or at Leucadia, in the consulship of Gnaeus Cornelius Dolabella and Marcus Fulvius Nobilior [159 B.C.E.], having fallen ill from grief and annoyance at the loss of his baggage, which he had sent on to the ship, and with it of the new plays which he had written. He is said to have been of moderate height, slender and of dark complexion. He left a daughter, who afterwards became the wife of a Roman eques; also gardens twenty acres in extent on the Appian Way, near the villa of Mars. This makes me feel the more surprised that Porcius should write: "Naught availed him Scipio, naught Laelius, naught Furius, the three wealthiest nobles of that time. Their aid did not even give him a rented house, to provide at least a place where his slave might announce his master's death." Afranius ranks Terentius above all other writers of comedy, writing in his "Compitalia": "Declaring that no one is the equal of Terentius." But Vulcatius a puts him not only below Naevius Plautus, and Caecilius, but even below Licinius and Atilius. Cicero in his "Limo" ["Meadow", a fanciful title for a book of miscellaneous contents, like the "Sylvae" of Statius, the "Pratum" of Suetonius, and the like] gives him this much praise: "You, Terentius, who alone do reclothe Menander in choice speech, and rendering him into the Latin tongue, do present him with your quiet utterance on our public stage, speaking with a certain graciousness and with sweetness in every word." Also Gaius Caesar: "You too, even you, are ranked among the highest, you half-Menander, and justly, you lover of language undefiled. But would that your graceful verses had force as well, so that your comic power might have equal honor with that of the Greeks, and you might not be scorned in this regard and neglected. It hurts and pains me, my Terentius, that you lacked this one quality."

De Vita Vergili (The Life of Vergil).

I. PUBLIUS VERGILIUS MARO, a native of Mantua, had parents of humble origin, especially his father, who according to some was a potter, although the general opinion is that he was at first the hired man of a certain Magus, an attendant on the magistrates, later became his son-in-law because of his diligence, and greatly increased his little property by buying up woodlands and raising bees. He was born in the first consulship of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus and Marcus Licinius Crassus [October 15th, 70 B.C.E.], on the Ides of October, in a district called Andes, not far distant from Mantua. While he was in his mother's womb, she dreamt that she gave birth to a laurel-branch, which on touching the earth took root and grew at once to the size of a full-grown tree, covered with fruits and flowers of various kinds; and on the following day, when she was on the way to a neighboring part of the country with her husband, she turned aside and gave birth to her child in a ditch beside the road. They say that the infant did not cry at its birth, and had such a gentle expression as even then to give assurance of an unusually happy destiny. There was added another omen; for a poplar branch, which, as was usual in that region on such occasions, was at once planted where the birth occurred, grew so fast in a short time that it equaled in size poplars planted long before. It was called from him "Vergil's tree" and was besides worshipped with great veneration by pregnant and newly delivered women, who made and paid vows beneath it.

II. Vergilius spent his early life at Cremona until he assumed the gown of manhood, upon his fifteenth birthday, in the consulship of the same two men who had been consuls the year he was born [55 B.C.E.]; and it chanced that the poet Lucretius died that very same day. Vergilius, however, moved from Cremona to Mediolanum, and shortly afterwards from there to Rome. He was tall and of full habit, with a dark complexion and a rustic appearance. His health was variable; for he very often suffered from stomach and throat troubles, as well as with headache; and he also had frequent hemorrhages. He ate and drank but little. He was especially given to passion for boys, and his special favorites were Cebes and Alexander, whom he calls Alexis in the second poem of his "Bucolics." This boy was given him by Asinius Pollio, and both his favorites had some education, while Cebes was even a poet. It is common report that he also had an intrigue with Plotia Hieria. But Asconius Pedianus declares that she herself used to say afterwards, when she was getting old, that Vergilius was invited by Varius to associate with her, but obstinately refused. Certain it is that for the rest of his life he was so modest in speech and thought, that at Neapolis he was commonly called "Parthenias" ["the maiden"] and that whenever he appeared in public in Rome, where he very rarely went, he would take refuge in the nearest house, to avoid those who followed and pointed him out. Moreover, when Augustus offered him the property of a man who had been exiled, he could not make up his mind to accept it. He possessed nearly ten million sesterces from the generous gifts of friends, and he had a house at Rome on the Esquiline, near the gardens of Maecenas, although he usually lived in retirement in Campania and in Sicily.

III. He was already grown up when he lost his parents, of whom his father previously went blind, and two own brothers: Silo, who died in childhood, and Flaccus, who lived to grow up, and whose death he laments under the name of Daphnis. Among other studies he gave attention also to medicine and in particular to mathematics. He pleaded one single case in court too, but no more; for, as Melissus has told us, he spoke very slowly and almost like an uneducated man. He made his first attempt at poetry when he was still a boy, composing the following couplet on a schoolmaster called Ballista, who was stoned to death because of his evil reputation for brigandage: "Under this mountain of stones Ballista is covered and buried; Wayfarer, now night and day follow your course without fear." Then he wrote the "Catalepton," "Priapea," "Epigrams," and the "Dirae," as well as the "Ciris" and the "Culex" when he was sixteen years old. The story of the "Culex" is this. When a shepherd, exhausted by the heat, had fallen asleep under a tree, and a snake was creeping upon him, a gnat flew from a marsh and stung the shepherd between his two temples; he at once crushed the gnat and killed the snake; then he made a tomb for the insect, inscribed with this couplet: "Thee, tiny gnat, well deserving, the flock's grateful keeper now offers For the gift of his life due funeral rites in requital" [Culex, 413ff.].

IV. He also wrote the "Aetna," though its authorship is disputed. Presently he began to write of Roman story, but thinking himself unequal to the subject, turned to the "Bucolics," especially in order to sing the praises of Asinius Pollio, Alfenus Varus, and Cornelius Gallus, because at the time of the assignment of the lands beyond the Po, which were divided among the veterans by order of the triumvirs after the victory at Philippi, these men had saved him from ruin. Then he wrote the "Georgics" [42 B.C.E.] in honor of Maecenas, because he had rendered him aid, when the poet was still but little known, against the violence of one of the veterans, from whom Vergilius narrowly escaped death in a quarrel about his farm. Last of all he began the "Aeneid," a varied and complicated theme, and as it were a mirror of both the poems of Homer; moreover it treated Greek and Latin personages and affairs in common, and contained at the same time an account of the origin of the city of Rome and of Augustus, which was the poet's special aim. When he was writing the "Georgics," it is said to have been his custom to dictate each day a large number of verses which he had composed in the morning, and then to spend the rest of the day in reducing them to a very small number, wittily remarking that he fashioned his poem after the manner of a she-bear, and gradually licked it into shape. In the case of the "Aeneid," after writing a first draft in prose and dividing it into twelve books, he proceeded to turn into verse one part after another, taking them up just as he fancied, in no particular order. And that he might not check the flow of his thought, he left some things unfinished, and, so to speak, bolstered others up with very slight words, which, as he jocosely used to say, were put in like props, to support the structure until the solid columns should arrive.

V. The "Bucolics" he finished in three years, the "Georgics" in seven, the "Aeneid" in twelve. The success of the "Bucolics" on their first appearance was such, that they were even frequently rendered by singers on the stage. When Augustus was returning after his victory at Actium and lingered at Atella to treat his throat, Vergilius read the "Georgics" to him for four days in succession, Maecenas taking his turn at the reading whenever the poet was interrupted by the failure of his voice. His own delivery, however, was sweet and wonderfully effective. In fact, Seneca has said that the poet Julius Montanus used to declare that he would have purloined some of Vergil's work, if he could also have stolen his voice, expression, and dramatic power; for the same verses sounded well when Vergilius read them, which on another's lips were flat and toneless. Hardly was the "Aeneid" begun, when its repute became so great that Sextus Propertius did not hesitate to declare: "Yield, you Roman writers; yield, you Greeks; A greater than the Iliad is born." Augustus indeed (for it chanced that he was away on his Cantabrian campaign) demanded in entreating and even jocosely threatening letters that Vergilius send him "something from the 'Aeneid'"; to use his own words, "either the first draft of the poem or any section of it that he pleased." But it was not until long afterwards, when the material was at last in shape, that Vergilius read to him three books in all, the second, fourth, and sixth. The last of these produced a remarkable effect on Octavia, who was present at the reading; for it is said that when he reached the verses about her son, "You shall be Marcellus," she fainted and was with difficulty revived. He gave readings also to various others, but never before a large company, selecting for the most part passages about which he was in doubt, in order to get the benefit of criticism. They say that Eros, his amanuensis and freedman, used to report, when he was an old man, that Vergilius once completed two half-verses off-hand in the course of a reading. For having before him merely the words "Misenum Aeoliden," he added "quo non praestantior alter," and again to "aere ciere viros" he joined "Martemque accendere cantu," thrown off with like inspiration, and he immediately ordered Eros to add both half-lines to his manuscript.

VI. In the fifty-second year of his age, wishing to give the final touch to the "Aeneid," he determined to go away to Greece and Asia, and after devoting three entire years to the sole work of improving his poem, to give up the rest of his life wholly to philosophy. But having begun his journey, and at Athens meeting Augustus, who was on his way back to Rome from the Orient, he resolved not to part from the emperor and even to return with him; but in the course of a visit to the neighboring town of Megara in a very hot Sun, he was taken with a fever, and added to his disorder by continuing his journey; hence on his arrival at Brundisium he was considerably worse, and died there on the eleventh day before the Kalends of October, in the consulship of Gnaeus Sentius and Quintus Lucretius [September 21, 19 B.C.E.]. His ashes were taken to Neapolis and laid to rest on the Via Puteolana less than two miles from the city, in a tomb for which he himself composed this couplet: "Mantua gave me the light, Calabria slew me; now holds me Parthenope. I have sung shepherds, the country, and wars."

VII. He named as his heirs Valerius Proculus, his half-brother, to one-half of his estate, Augustus to one-fourth, Maecenas to one-twelfth; the rest he left to Lucius Varius and Plotius Tucca, who revised the "Aeneid" after his death by order of Augustus. With regard to this matter we have the following verses of Sulpicius of Carthage:

"Vergilius had bidden these songs by swift flame be turned into ashes,
Songs which sang of your fates, Phrygia's leader renowned.
Varius and Tucca forbade, and you, too, greatest of Caesars,
Adding your veto to theirs, Latium's story preserved.
All but twice in the flames unhappy Pergamum perished
Troy on a second pyre narrowly failed of her doom."

He had arranged with Varius, before leaving Italy, that if anything befell him a his friend should burn the "Aeneid"; but Varius had emphatically declared that he would do no such thing. Therefore in his mortal illness Vergilius constantly called for his book-boxes, intending to burn the poem himself; but when no one brought them to him, he made no specific request about the matter, but left his writings jointly to the above mentioned Varius and to Tucca, with the stipulation that they should publish nothing which he himself would not have given to the world. However, Varius published the "Aeneid" at Augustus' request, making only a few slight corrections, and even leaving the incomplete lines just as they were. These last many afterwards tried to finish, but failed owing to the difficulty that nearly all the half-lines in Vergilius are complete in sense and meaning, the sole exception being "Quem tibi iam Troia" [Aen. 3.340; this is no real exception, for we probably have the line as Vergilius intended to leave it. Andromache purposely avoids naming the amissae parentis]. The grammarian Nisus used to say that he had heard from older men that Varius changed the order of two of the books and made what was then the second book the third; also that he emended the beginning of the first book by striking out the lines:

"I who on slender reed once rustic numbers did render,
Parting then from the groves, commanded the neighboring fallows
Tribute to pay to their lords, however much they exacted,
Task hailed with joy by the hind; but now dread deeds of the war-god,
Arms and the hero I sing."

VIII. Vergilius never lacked detractors, which is not strange; for neither did Homer. When the "Bucolics" appeared, a certain Numitorius wrote "Anti-bucolics," consisting of but two poems, which were a very insipid parody. The first began as follows:

"Tityrus, if a warm toga you have, why then a beech mantle?"

The second:--

"Tell me, Damoetas, I pray, is 'cuium pecus' really good Latin?
Nay, but our Aegon's way, and thus men talk in the country."

Another man, when Vergilius recited from his "Georgics," "nudus ara, sere nudus" ["plough naked, naked sow"] added "habebis frigore febrem" ["A chill will give you the fever"]. There is also a book in criticism of the "Aeneid" by Carvilius Pictor, called "Aeneomastix" [the scourge of Aeneas]. Marcus Vipsanius called Vergilius a supposititious child of Maecenas, that inventor of a new kind of affected language, neither bombastic nor of studied simplicity, but in ordinary words and hence less obvious. Herennius made selections confined to his defects, and Perellius Fausta to his pilferings. More than that, the eight volumes of Quintus Octavius Avitus, entitled "Resemblances," contain the verses which he borrowed, with their sources. Asconius Pedianus, in a book which he wrote "Against the Detractors of Vergilius," sets forth a very few of the charges against him, and those for the most part dealing with history and with the accusation that he borrowed a great deal from Homer; but he says that Vergilius used to meet this latter accusation with these words: "Why don't my critics also attempt the same thefts? If they do, they will realize that it is easier to filch his club from Hercules than a line from Homer." Yet Asconius says that Vergilius had intended to go into retirement, in order to prune down everything to the satisfaction of carping critics.

De Vita Horati (The Life of Horace).

I. QUINTUS HORATIUS FLACCUS of Venusia had for a father, as he himself writes, a freedman who was a collector of money at auctions; but it is believed that he was a dealer in salted provisions, for a certain man in a quarrel thus taunted Horatius: "How often have I seen your father wiping his nose with his arm!" Horatius served as tribune of the soldiers in the war of Philippi, at the instance of Marcus Brutus, one of the leaders in that war. When his party was vanquished, he was pardoned and purchased the position of a quaestor's clerk. Then contriving to win the favor, first of Maecenas and later of Augustus, he held a prominent place among the friends of both. How fond Maecenas was of him is evident enough from the well known epigram: "If that I do not love you, my own Horatius more than life itself, behold your comrade leaner than Ninnius." But he expressed himself much more strongly in his last will and testament in this brief remark to Augustus: "Be as mindful of Horatius Flaccus as of myself." Augustus offered him the post of secretary, as appears in this letter of his to Maecenas: "Before this I was able to write my letters to my friends with my own hand; now overwhelmed with work and in poor health, I desire to take our friend Horatius from you. He will come then from that parasitic table of yours to my imperial board, and help me write my letters" [it seems probable that there is a word-play on the double sense of "rex" or "king" and "wealthy patron," since Augustus would hardly use "regiam" literally of his table. The meaning would then be "let the parasite change tables and patrons."] Even when Horatius declined, Augustus showed no resentment at all, and did not cease his efforts to gain his friendship. We have letters from which I append a few extracts by way of proof: "Enjoy any privilege at my house, as if you were making your home there; for it will be quite right and proper for you to do so, inasmuch as that was the relation which I wished to have with you, if your health had permitted." And again, "How mindful I am of you our friend Septimius can also tell you; for it chanced that I spoke of you in his presence. Even if you were so proud as to scorn my friendship, I do not therefore return your disdain." Besides this, among other pleasantries, he often calls him "a most immaculate libertine," and "his charming little man," and he made him well to do by more than one act of generosity. As to his writings, Augustus rated them so high, and was so convinced that they would be immortal, that he not only appointed him to write the Secular Hymn, but also bade him celebrate the victory of his stepsons Tiberius and Drusus over the Vindelici, and so compelled him to add a fourth to his three books of lyrics after a long silence. Furthermore, after reading several of his "Talks," the Emperor thus expressed his pique that no mention was made of him: "You must know that I am not pleased with you, that in your numerous writings of this kind you do not talk with me, rather than with others. Are you afraid that your reputation with posterity will suffer because it appears that you were my friend?" In this way he forced from Horatius the selection which begins with these words: "Seeing that single-handed you do bear the burden of tasks so many and so great, Protecting Italy's realm with arms, providing it with morals, Reforming it by laws, I should sin against the public weal, Caesar, if I wasted your time with long discourse." [Epist. 2.1.1]

II. In person he was short and fat, as he is described with his own pen in his satires [Epist. 1.4.15; 1.20.24] and by Augustus in the following letter: "Onysius has brought me your little volume, and I accept it, small as it is, in good part, as an apology. But you seem to me to be afraid that your books may be bigger than you are yourself; but it is only stature that you lack, not girth. So you may write on a pint pot, that the circumference of your volume may be well rounded out, like that of your own belly."

III. It is said that he was immoderately lustful; for it is reported that in a room lined with mirrors he had harlots so arranged that whichever way he looked, he saw a reflection of venery. He lived for the most part in the country on his Sabine or Tiburtine estate, and his house is pointed out near the little grove of Tiburnus. I possess some elegies attributed to his pen and a letter in prose, supposed to be a recommendation of himself to Maecenas, but I think that both are spurious; for the elegies are commonplace and the letter is besides obscure, which was by no means one of his faults.

IV. He was born on the sixth day before the Ides of December in the consulate of Lucius Cotta and Lucius Torquatus [December 8, 65 B.C.E.], and died on the fifth day before the Kalends of the same month in the consulship of Gaius Marcius Censorinus and Gaius Asinius Gallus, fifty-nine days after the death of Maecenas, in his fifty-seventh year [November 27, 8 B.C.E.]. He named Augustus as his heir by word of mouth, since he could not make and sign a will because of the sudden violence of his ailment. He was buried and laid to rest near the tomb of Maecenas on the farther part of the Esquiline Hill.

De Vita Tibulli (The Life of Tibullus).

I. "You too, Tibullus, companion of Vergilius, envious death sent in youth to the Elysian fields, that there might be no one to mourn tender loves in elegy, or sing the wars of kings in heroic verse" [written by Domitius Marsus]. Albius Tibullus, a Roman eques remarkable for his good looks and conspicuous for his personal elegance, was devoted above all others to Messala Corvinus. He was his tent companion in the war in Aquitania [Messala was sent to Aquitania soon after the Battle of Actium; he celebrated his triumph in 27 B.C.E.] and was given military prizes. In the judgment of many men he holds the first place among writers of elegy. His amatory letters, too, though short are very useful. He died in youth, as is indicated by the epigram written above.

De Vita Auli Persi Flacci (The Life of Aulus Persius Flaccus).

I. AULUS PERSIUS FLACCUS was born the day before the Nones of December in the consulship of Fabius Persicus and Lucius Vitellius [December 4, 34 C.E.], and died on the eighth day before the Kalends of December, when Publius Marius and Afinius Gallus were consuls [November 24, 62 C.E.]. He was born at Volaterrae in Etruria, was a Roman eques, but was connected by blood and by marriage with men of the senatorial order. He died on his estate near the eighth milestone of the Appian Way. His father Flaccus died when his son was about six years old, leaving him to the care of a guardian. His mother, Fulvia Sisennia, afterwards married a Roman eques named Fusius, but buried him also within a few years. Flaccus studied until the twelfth year of his age at Volaterrae, and then at Rome with the grammarian Remmius Palaemon and the rhetorician Verginius Flavus. When he was sixteen years old he became so intimate a friend of Annaeus Cornutus that he never left his side; and from him he obtained some knowledge of philosophy.

II. From early youth he enjoyed the friendship of Caesius Bassus, the poet, and of Calpurnius Statura, who died in youth, while Persius still lived. Servilius Nonianus he revered as a father. Through Cornutus he came to know Annaeus Lucanus also, a pupil of Cornutus and of the same age as himself. Lucan so admired the writings of Flaccus, that when the author read them in the usual way, he could hardly wait until he finished before saying that they were true poems, and his own mere child's play. Towards the end of his life he made the acquaintance also of Seneca, but was not impressed by his talents.

III. At the house of Cornutus he enjoyed the society of two learned and venerable men, who were then eagerly pursuing philosophical studies: Claudius Agathernus, a physician of Lacedaemon, and Petronius Aristocrates of Magnesia, whom he admired exceedingly and emulated, although they were of the same age as Cornutus, while he was a younger man. He was also for nearly ten years so great a favorite of Paetus Thrasea that he sometimes even traveled abroad with him; and Paetus' wife, Arria, was a relative of his.

IV. He was very gentle in manner, of virginal modesty and very handsome; and he showed an exemplary devotion to his mother, sister, and aunt. He was good and pure. He left about two million sesterces to his mother and sister, and a letter addressed only to his mother. He requested her to give Cornutus a hundred thousand, as some say, or according to others, fifty thousand sesterces, and twenty pounds of silver plate, besides about seven hundred volumes of Chrysippus, or his entire library. But Cornutus, while accepting the books, turned over the money to the sisters whom their brother had made his heirs.

V. He wrote rarely and slowly. This very volume he left unfinished, and some verses were taken from the last book, that it might have the appearance of completion. Cornutus made some slight corrections, and on the request of Caesius Bassus that he might publish it, turned it over to him for that purpose. In his boyhood Flaccus had written a praetexta, one book describing his travels, and a few verses on the mother-in-law of Thrasea, who had killed herself before her husband. All these Cornutus advised the poet's mother to destroy. As soon as his book appeared, men began to admire it and to buy it up rapidly.

VI. He died of a stomach trouble in the thirtieth year of his age. As soon as he left school and his teachers, he conceived a strong desire to write satires from reading the tenth book of Lucilius. The beginning of this he imitated with the intention at first of criticizing himself; but presently turning to general criticism, he so assailed the poets and orators of his day, that he even attacked Nero, who was at that time emperor. His verse on Nero read as follows: "King Midas has ass's ears," but Cornutus by merely changing the name, and writing "Who has not an asses' ears?" so altered it that Nero might not think that it was said of him.

De Vita Lucani (The Life of Lucan).

I. MARCUS ANNAEUS LUCANUS of Corduba made his first appearance as a poet with a "Eulogy of Nero" at the emperor's Quinquennial Contests, and then gave a public reading of his poem on the "Civil War" waged between Pompeius Magnus and Caesar. In a kind of introduction to the latter, comparing his time of life and his first essays with those of Vergilius, he had the audacity to ask: "How far, pray, do I fall short of the Culex?"

II. In his early youth, learning that his father was living in the remote country districts because of an unhappy marriage.... He was recalled from Athens by Nero and made one of his intimate friends, besides being honored with the quaestorship; but he could not keep the emperor's favor. For, piqued because Nero had suddenly called a meeting of the Senate and gone out when he was giving a reading, with no other motive than to throw cold water on the performances, he afterwards did not refrain from words and acts of hostility to the princeps, which are still notorious. Once for example in a public privy, when he relieved his bowels with an uncommonly loud noise, he shouted out this half-line of the emperor's, while those who were there for the same purpose took to their heels: "You might suppose it thundered 'neath the earth."

III. He also tongue-lashed not only the emperor but also his most powerful friends in a scurrilous poem. Finally he came out almost as the ringleader in the conspiracy of Piso, publicly making great talk about the glory of tyrannicides, and full of threats, even going to the length of offering Caesar's head to all his friends. But when the conspiracy was detected, he showed by no means equal firmness of purpose; for he was easily forced to a confession, descended to the most abject entreaties, and even named his own mother among the guilty parties, although she was innocent, in hopes that this lack of filial devotion would win him favor with a parricidal prince. But when he was allowed free choice of the manner of his death, he wrote a letter to his father, containing corrections for some of his verses, and after eating heartily, offered his arms to a physician, to cut his veins. I recall that his poems were even read in public, while they were published and offered for sale by editors lacking in taste, as well as by some who were painstaking and careful.

De Historici.

De Vita Plinii Secundi (The Life of Pliny the Elder).

I. PLINIUS SECUNDUS of Novum Comum, after performing with energy the military service required of members of the equestrian order, administered several important stewardships in succession with the utmost justice. Yet he gave so much attention to liberal studies, that hardly anyone who had complete leisure wrote more than he. For instance, he gave an account in twenty volumes of all the wars which were ever carried on with Germania, besides completing the thirty-seven books of his "Natural History." He lost his life in the disaster in Campania [the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, 79 C.E.]. He was commanding the fleet at Misenum, and setting out in a Liburnian galley during the eruption of Vesuvius to investigate the causes of the phenomenon from nearer at hand, he was unable to return because of head winds. He was suffocated by the shower of dust and ashes, although some think that he was killed by a slave, whom he begged to hasten his end when he was overcome by the intense heat.

De Oratoribus

De Vita Passieni Crispus (The Life of Passienus Crispus).

I. PASSIENUS CRISPUS, a native of Visellium, began his first speech in the Senate with these words: "Conscript fathers and you, Caesar," and was in consequence highly commended by Tiberius, though not sincerely. He voluntarily pleaded a number of cases in the court of the Hundreds and therefore his statue was set up in the Basilica Julia. He was twice consul. He married twice: first Domitia and then Agrippina, respectively the aunt and the mother of the emperor Nero. He possessed an estate of two hundred million sesterces. He tried to gain favor with all the emperors, but especially with Gaius Caesar [Caligula], whom he attended on foot when the emperor made a journey. When he was asked by Nero in a private conversation whether he had commerce with his own sister, as the emperor had with his, he replied "Not yet"; a very fitting and cautious answer, neither accusing the emperor by denying the allegation, nor dishonoring himself with a lie by admitting it. He was slain by the treachery of Agrippina, whom he had made his heir, and was honored with a public funeral.


J. C. Rolfe, ed., Suetonius, 2 Vols., The Loeb Classical Library (London: William Heinemann, and New York: The MacMillan Co., 1914), II.388-507.

Scanned by: J. S. Arkenberg, Dept. of History, Cal. State Fullerton. Prof. Arkenberg has modernized the text.

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