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This webpage reproduces a work of
C. Suetonius Tranquillus

published in the Loeb Classical Library,
1914

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!

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p397 Suetonius
On Grammarians1

1 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 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 Italian2 Greeks (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 Metres," 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."

2 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 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; 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 p399constantly 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, Gaius 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.

3 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 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 knights 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,3 and Stilo4 because he used to write speeches for all the great men of the day; and he was so devoted to the aristocratic party, 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, p401after he had lived for a time with that part of his body as it were prematurely dead.

After this the science constantly grew in favour 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,"5 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 knight, to teach a large school.6

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 Oppius Chares; indeed the last named taught until the very end of his life, when he could no longer walk, or even see.

4 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 The term grammaticus became prevalent through Greek influence, but at first such men were called litterati.7 Cornelius Nepos, too, in a little book in which he explains the difference between litteratus and eruditus8 says that the former is commonly p403applied 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.9 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 p405underrated. 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.

5 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 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."10

Some write that because of some disgrace he retired to Sardinia and there died.

6 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 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, p407nine 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."11

7 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 Marcus Antonius Gnipho was born in Gaul of free parents, but was disowned.12 He was set free by his foster-father13 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 the 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.14 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 p409his own name is sometimes found in them, for example * * *

8 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 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"15 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.

9 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 Lucius Orbilius Pupillusa 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 subaltern 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, 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.16 He also wrote a book called "Perialogos,"17 full of p411complaints of the wrongs which teachers suffered from the indifference or selfishness of parents. Indeed he was sour-tempered, not only towards rival scholars,18 whom he assailed at every opportunity, but also towards his pupils, as Horace implies when he calls him "the flogger,"19 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 court-room, 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 Murena20 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.b He left a son Orbilius, who was also a teacher of grammar.

10 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 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 p413for archaism, writes as follows: "He was especially abetted in this by Ateius Praetextatus, a famous Latin grammarian, afterwards a critic and famous 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 * * *,21 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 Hyle22 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 p415to use familiar, unassuming, natural23 language, especially avoiding Sallust's obscurity and his bold figures of speech.

11 1  [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Publius Valerius Cato, according to some writers, was the freedman of a certain Bursenus from Gaul; 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 Dian24 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

p417 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, solvent25 could not be.

Lo! Crates' heart, mind of Zenodotus."26

12 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 Cornelius Epicadus was a freedman of Lucius Cornelius Sulla, the dictator, and one of his servants27 in the augural priesthood, besides being a great favourite of his son Faustus. Therefore he always declared that he was the freedman of both. He himself completed the last book of Sulla's "Autobiography," which the dictator left unwritten.

13 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 Staberius Eros was purchased with his own savings at a public sale28 and formally manumittedc 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.

14 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 Curtius Nicias was an adherent of Gnaeus Pompeius and Gaius Memmius; but having brought p419a note from Memmius to Pompey's wife with an infamous proposal, he was betrayed by her, lost favour with Pompey, and was forbidden his house. He was an intimate friend of Marcus Cicero too, and in a letter of the orator's to Dolabella29 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.30 I, like a critic of old, am to decide whether they are the poet's, or a forgery." In another letter to Atticus:31 "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."

15 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 Lenaeus, freedman of Pompey the Great 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,32 near the temple of Tellus, the quarter of the city in which the house of the Pompeys was formerly situated. He was so devoted to his patron's memory, that because the historian Sallust wrote that Pompey had "an honest face but a shameless character," he tore Sallust to pieces and in a biting satire, calling him "a debauchee, a p421gourmandizer, 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.

16 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 Quintus Caecilius Epirota, born at Tusculum, was a freedman of Atticus, a Roman knight, 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.33 After the conviction and death of Gallus 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 favour. He is said to have been the first to hold extempore discussions in Latin, and the first to begin the practice of reading Vergil and other recent poets, a fact also alluded to by Domitius Marsus in the verse:

"Epirota, fond nurse of fledgling bards."

17 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 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 p423also 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,34 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,35 on which he exhibited the calendar36 which he had arranged and inscribed upon its marble walls.

18 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 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,37 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, ye unlettered throng.

She has declared none other will she wed,

Since he alone her hidden charms doth know."

But when he had already attracted many pupils of high rank, including Iullus Antonius, the triumvir's son, so that he was a rival even of Verrius Flaccus, p425he suddenly disbanded his school and became a discipline of the philosopher Quintus Sextius.

19 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 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,38 taught at the same time as Verrius. He wrote a critique of Verrius's "Orthography," at the same time attacking the author's scholarship and character.

20 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 Gaius Julius Hyginus, a freedman of Augustus and a Spaniard by birth (some think that he was a native of Alexandria and was brought to Rome when a boy by Caesar after the 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 "History." Hyginus was in charge of the Palatine Library,39 but nevertheless took many pupils. He was an intimate friend of the poet Ovid and of Clodius Licinus the ex‑consul and historian, being supported as long as he lived by the writer's generosity. He had a freedman Julius Modestus, who followed in his patron's footsteps as student and scholar.

21 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 Gaius Melissus, a native of Spoletium, was freeborn, but was disowned40 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 p427preferred his present lot to that of his actual origin. In consequence he was soon set free, and even won the favour of Augustus. At the emperor's appointment he undertook the task of arranging the library in the Colonnade of Octavia.41 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,42 to which he gave the name of trabeatae.43

22 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 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's 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 p429shown by this epigram which Asinius Pollio made upon him:

"He who learned 'Head to the left'44 explains to us difficult language;

Talent45 indeed has he none, merely a pugilist's skill."

23 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 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.46 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 says 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 metres. 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,"47 but because Vergil 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 p431great 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;d1 and they say that he was held up to scorn by the witty remark 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 mouthd2 everyone whom you see in a hurry?"

24 1   [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 Marcus Valerius Probus of Berytus for a long time sought an appointment as a 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 honour 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 rôle 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 p433and in the course of long and general conversations48 would read some few things, though very rarely. He published a few slight works on divers minute points, and also left a good sized "Grove49 of Observations on our Early Language."


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 See note on Tib. lxx.3.

2 Livius Andronicus came from Tarentum, and Ennius was a native of Rudiae in Calabria.

3 praeco.

4 From stylus, an instrument for writing; see note on Jul. lxxxii.2.

5 The pun consists in likening him to the Sicilian Daphnis, the "ideal shepherd," whom Pan taught to play the shepherd's pipe. If we read ἄγασμα, the meaning is "the prodigy (or 'wonder-child') of Pan." The early commentators saw a reference to Pan's love for the flocks and shepherds (cf. Verg. Buc. II.33) and an implication that Lutatius was rusticus or pecus.

6 The text is certainly corrupt and the meaning is uncertain; see Ihm, Rh. Mus. 61, p550.

7 "Men of letters," from littera, while grammaticus is from the corresponding Greek word γράμμα.

8 "Man of learning, scholar."

9 Sicci and aridi both mean "dry, juiceless."

10 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 the MSS. had the spelling Posthumius.

11 The Tablet.

12 See note on Tib. vii.2.

13 That is, the man who found and reared him.

14 Literally, "on market days"; see note on Aug. xcii.2.

15 Elenchus is a transliteration of the Greek ἔλεγχος, "refutation," "cross-examination." The work was apparently an attack on the Annals, like those on the writings of Vergil; cf. the Life of Vergil, 44 and 45.

16 That is, in a garret.

17 The word is evidently corrupt; perhaps we should read Perialges (περιαλγής), "The Sorrowful Man." Turnebus suggested περὶ ἀλογίας, a treatise on the folly of teachers in submitting to such unjust treatment.

18 Cf. Tib. xi.3.

19 Epist. 2.1.70.

20 Varro Murena. Macrobius, Sat. 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," "I rub humps in the sun." Neither remark seems to have any point except the allusion to Murena's deformity, unless Suetonius's version means "I put them into the background," or "consign them to obscurity." The commentators confine themselves to quoting Macrobius.

21 The text is corrupt and no satisfactory emendation has as yet been proposed; see Ihm, Rh. Mus. 61, p551. Vahlen, Index Lectionum, Berlin, 1877, suggested theoremata, which would give the meaning "and afterwards taught his (Gnipho's) theories."

22 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 volunt et sequentes calorem atque impetum ex tempore scribunt; hanc silvam vocant.

23 That is, his own, without borrowing or imitation.

24 Dictynna is a name of Diana as goddess of the chase, from δίκτυον, "hunting-net."

25 Unum expedire nomen, "make shift to find one name," as surety for his debts.

26 That is, "what a fate for a man with such a mind and heart." Cor here, as often, = "intelligence," and iecur may have the same meaning, although it is commonly spoken of as the seat of the emotions, especially anger and the like.

27 The calatores, literally "summoners," were attendants on the augurs and other religious officials.

28 Catasta was the scaffolding or platform on which slaves were exposed to view at public sales.

29 Ad Fam. 9.10.

30 The critical mark used to indicate spurious or interpolated lines; that is, Vidius denies the debt.

31 Ad Att. 12.26.

32 See note on Tib. xv.1.

33 Cf. Aug. lxvi.1‑2.

34 Q. Lutatius Catulus; see chap. iii and Index.

35 A semi-circular place for sitting; applied also by Vitruvius, 9.9.1, to a kind of sundial.

36 The Fasti Praenestini, of which fragments have come down to us.

37pergula 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.

Thayer's Note: For full details, see the article Pergula in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

38 Aug. lxii.2.

39 Aug. xxix.3.

40 See note on Tib. vii.2.

41 See Aug. xxix.4.

42 The fabulae togatae presented scenes from Roman life, in contrast with the fabulae palliatae, or comedies adapted from the Greek.

43 See note on trabea, Dom. xiv.3. In the trabeatae the characters were knights or other wearers of the trabea.

44 To dodge a blow delivered with the right hand; cf. Verg. Aen. V.428, abduxere retro longe capita ardua ab ictu; part of the instruction to a boxer.

45 Os is of course used in a double sense, figuratively as above, and literally, of a pugilist's battered visage.

46 As paedagogus, cf. Nero, xxvi.2 , etc.

47 3.50 ff.

48 Naturally, on literary and grammatical topics.

49 See note on Hyle, chap. x.


Thayer's Notes:

a This passage is cited as the only one in ancient literature giving Orbilius' first name; yet "Lucius" is a modern addition (see the critical note to the Latin text): I have not read Roth's reasons. The rest of the name can be translated as "orphan, ward" (see the article Impubes in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities): if his parents died when he was young, as strongly suggested by our text, he was both.

b The statue is not known to be extant; although several Roman statues are shown in Benevento as being that of Orbilius, none matches Suetonius' description. I love Italy dearly, but connecting things and places with the more famous persons and events of Antiquity is something of a national sport: visitors beware.

c For details on the peculium and the procedure — which this passage does not quite seem to fit — see the article Servus in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

d1 d2 The translator, in editing out the filthiness of the joke, has sacrificed the joke itself. A dirty story is a dirty story, and there's nothing much you can do about it.

The Latin words usque ad infamiam oris, here rendered by "to the pitch of shameful indecency", actually mean "to the degradation of his mouth". Roman men, who viewed as shameful anything other than penetration (Juv. IX.3‑5, the famous passage on mirrors in Sen. Quaest. Nat. 1.16.4‑7, Mart. VII.67.13‑17, and, best known, Catullus XVI), would almost certainly have read this as referring to cunnilingus — which makes it quite clear why, in an age far less given than ours to mouthwashes and toothpaste (although they did have them, see for example the article Dentifricium in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities), that guy in the crowd wanted to get away from Palaemon, and in a hurry, too. In turn, in his bon mot, the verb rendered by our translator "to mouth" is a specific word, often with sexual connotations, meaning "to lick away": see Suetonius himself, ligurire, Tib. 45.

Here, then, is my own suggestion towards a better translation: "Hey man, every time you see someone coming at you in a hurry, do you want to lick 'em clean?"


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Page updated: 16 Jul 08