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
[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".
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
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."
"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
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
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
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
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
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."
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.
[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
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,
"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
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
"Vergilius had bidden these songs by swift flame be turned into
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?"
"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
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
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 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 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.