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approval Cato's definition of an orator as *uir bonus dicendi peritus'


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(xii I, i). He opposes the prevailing artificial taste, and falls back on the
promptings of nature, in the spirit of the precept 'pectus disertos facit'
(x 7, 15). He has the highest admiration for Cicero, whom he almost
invariably follows in his exposition of the principles of rhetoric ; he confesses
to an *amor immodicus' for that foremost orator (vi 3, 31), and concludes
a glowing encomium of his style with the words : — * ille se profecisse sdat,
cui Cicero ualde placebit* (x i, 112). He refers to more than 450 passages
of Cicero, and about 140 of Virgil, finding his models in the classical
writers of the golden age, while he warns his pupils against imitating either
the archaic or the modern (ii 5, 21 f). Apart from Cicero, his Roman
authorities are the auctor ad Herennium^ Rutilius Lupus, Remmius
Palaemon, and Celsus, whom he criticises as well as copies, while his Greek
authorities are, on education, Chrysippus, and, on rhetoric, Caecilius, and
Dionysius of Halicarnassus, whose treatise On Imitation is the principal
source of the brief criticisms on Greek authors in his celebrated survey of
all those portions of Greek and Latin literature which he holds to be of
special service in forming the style of the future orator (x i).

999. The name of Quintilian has been assigned to two collections of Declamations,

respectively comprising 19 longer and 145 shorter pieces. The former are

Declamatiotuu ascribed to his pen by Semius and Ausonius, and by Jerome, who speaks

of * Quintiliani concinnae declamationes \ but they are of mnch later date,

while the latter have nothing more than the manuscrif t tradition in their favour.

zooo. Qointilian's contemporary, lulius Frontinus (c, 41 - <*. 105), who was praetor

urbanus in 70 A.D. (Tac ffist, iv 39), must have been bom in or before

Frontinus. 41. Under Vespasian he was consul, and distinguished himself r. 76 — 78

as the successor of Petilius Cerealis in Britain, where he conquered the

Silures (Tac. Agr, 17). Under Domitian he probably took part in the war against the

Chatti (83) ; he was curator aquarum in 97, and again consul in 98 and 100. He was

a friend of Martial (x 48 and 58) and of the younger Pliny, who succeeded him as augur

c, 103—104 (iv 8). On his death-bed he expressed, in the following terms, his desire that

no monument should be erected in his memory : — * Impensa monumenti superuacua est ;

memoria nostri durabit, si uita meruimos ' (ix 19, 6).

Under Domitian (81 — 96) Frontinus composed two works: — (i) on land-survejring and
on the land-laws, which only survives in certain excerpts preserved in
Straiegetnata. the comrmntum de agrorum qualitate of Agennius Urbicus (cent, iv — v) ;
(a) a manual of strategy, Strategemata^ in three Books, written after
84 A.D., the year in which Domitian took the title of Germanicus (ii 11, 7), and including
illustrations of the art of war derived mainly from Sallust, Caesar, and Livy. A fourth
Book on military discipline, which is regarded as spurious, mentions the submission of the
Ling5nes in 70 A.D. (3, 14). This passage may have been interpolated tirom a genuine work
of Frontinus.

Under Nerua, in 97, Frontinus began his work on the water-supply of Rome, de aquis
. ,. urbis RormUy which he completed under Trajan in 98. This work was
Komat* " " ^® immediate result of the author's appointment as curator aquctrum in
97. It gives us the names and dates, the course and the construction of
the Roman aqueducts, and notices the legal questions connected with the use of the water
supplied by them. It is written in a simple and clear style, and includes quotations trom
original documents (100, 104, 106, 108). Both of the extant works of Frontinus exhibit
many traces of the popular language, with which the author himself contrasts that of the
ctdtiores {Aq. § 3). In both he aims at being useful to others: — * hoc opus, sicut cetera, usus

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999— looaj FRONTINUS. TACITUS 677

potius aliorum, quam meae commendationis causa adgressus sum' (Strai* Praef.). From
Frontinus we turn to his far more famous contemporary, Tacitus.

looi. The birthplace of Cornelius Tacitus (c. S$—f* 117) and the dates of his birth and
death are unknown. Publius is his praenomen in the first Medicean MS,
while Gaius is the form found in later MSS and in Sidonius ApoUinaris Tacitna.
(E^, iv 14, i; ai, 1), He may have been the son, or the nephew, of
an eques mentioned by the elder Pliny (vii 76); he was certainly trained in rhetoric by
Marcus Aper and lulius Secundus, ceUberrima turn ingenia fori nostri {Dial, 1), In 78
he married the daughter of Agricola, who had been one of the consuls of the preceding
year, and was on the point of succeeding Frontinus as propraetor of Britain. Under the
three Flavian emperors, Tacitus passed through the earlier stages of his public career
(Hist, i i); he was probably tribunus militum laticiauus under Vespasian, quaestor
under Titus (e. 80 — 81), and tribune or aedile (c, 84), and praetor (88), under Domitian
(Ann, xi 11). He was absent from Rome in 90 — 93, when he was possibly Uigatus pro
praetore in the prouincia Belgica, Late in 97, under Nerua, he was consul, and then
delivered the funeral oration on Verginius Ruhis (Plin. Ep, ii 1,6). Early in 100, he was
associated with Pliny in the prosecution of Marius Priscus, the proconsul of Africa
{^, ii II, 3, 17). He was himself proconsul of Asia about 115 — 116. He completed his
Annuls about 116, and probably died not long after.

looa. The dramatic date of the Dialogus de Oratoribus (a 17) is the
sixth year of Vespasian (July 74 — July 75), when 117 years
had elapsed since the death of Cicero in 43 B.C. (The author Diaiegua,
says 120, and, in the context, the rule of Augustus is accord-
ingly made to extend over 59 years, instead of 56.) The author was then
admodum iuuenis. Such is his description of himself, when he looks back
on the date of the Dialogue from the date of its composition. The date of
the latter is^ uncertain. Three dates have been suggested :— either the last
year of Titus, 81 (Gudeman), or after the tenth year of Domitian, 91
(Norden), or the first year of Trajan, 98 (Schanz). Tacitus tells us that,
during the reign of Domitian, he remained 'silent' {Agr, 14), but this is not
inconsistent with his having composed the Dialogue in that reign and
published it later. The earliest of the above three dates is favoured by the
fact that the style is more Ciceronian than that of any of the works of
Tacitus, and by the consideration that this resemblance is natural in the
case of a comparatively youthful writer fresh from the study of Cicero. On
the other hand, at that early date, two oi those attacked in the treatise,
Eprius Marcellus and Vibius Crispus, were still living; so also was Matemus,
one of the interlocutors in the dialogue ; a sophist named Matemus was
executed in 91 ; and Crispus died in 93. This is in favour of the latest of
the three dates (98).

The objection to this date is that it makes the Dialogue contemporary
with the Agricola and Germania^ thus implying that the author wrote
simultaneously in two different styles, one of them modelled on Cicero and
the other created by himself. Nevertheless, it is fairly urged that a Cicero-
nian style is the most natural medium for a dialogue, especially for one
written in direct imitation of the De Oratore.

Its main subject is a discussion of the differences between the oratory of Cicero's time

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and that of contemporary speakers, with the causes of that difference. Aper represents
the new rhetoric of the school of Seneca ; Messala praises that of a purer age, and attacks
the degenerate education of his own day; while Matemus, admitting the d^eneracy. finds
the reason for it in the happier conditions of modem life, adding that the orators of the
older generation deserved to be applauded but not to be envied.

The Dialogue owes its preservation to its being included in the same MS as the
Agricoia and Germania, Its genuineness was doubted, first by Beatus Rhenanus (15 19),
next by Lipsius, who, in his edition of 1574, was inclined to attribute it to Quintilian, but,
in later editions, to an anonymous author. Subsequent opinion pointed to Quintilian, or
possibly the younger Pliny, or even Suetonius. In 1828 the claims of Tacitus were
revived by A. G. Lange, who considered that, in Pliny's letter to Tacitus (iz 10), written
e. 108-9, the words nemora et lucos were a quotation from the Dialogue (c. 9). The Cice-
ronian diction may well be due to the influence of Quintilian, and the style of the speeches
delivered by Tacitus as an advocate probably approximated more closely to that of Cicero
than to that of hia own historical works. But the Dialogue, apart from its Ciceronianism,
exhibits not a few coincidences of language and syntax with those characteristic of Tadtus.
Thus the words histrionalis and clientulus are found elsewhere in the Annals alone.
Z003. The Agricola was written early in the reign of Trajan, probably in 98 A.D.

(Agr, 3). It is to be regarded neither as a funeral oration, nor as a
Agricola, compromise between history and biography, nor as an apologia for

Agricola in a biographical form, but simply as a historical eulogy or
laudatory biography. Here the influence of Cicero is less marked than that of Sallust,
whose style it resembles in its rhetorical speeches and in its sententious reflexions.

Z004. The (Tfrm/iiff a was published in the same year (tr^nn. 37). It is a brief treatise on

the geography and ethnology of Germany. It is neither a political pamphlet
Germania. nor a covert satire on the Romans in the form of an eulogy of the virtues of

the Germans. The faults of those northern barbarians are noticed no less
than their virtues. Here and there, however, we have a satirical touch to the disadvantage
of the Romans: — *nemo illic uitia ridet, nee corrumpere et corrumpi saeculum uocatur'
(c. 19).

1005. The Historiae were written in the reign of Trajan (Hist, i i), and were probably

published by instalments. In the earlier Letters of Pliny (in or before
Historiae. loo), Tacitus is lauded as the eloquent and dignified orator (ii 11, 7) ; in

the later letters [c, 106-8) he is the historian whose writings are destined
to be immortal (vi 16, i ; vii 31, i). In its complete form, the work extended from the
death of Nero to the death of Domitian (69 — 96 A. d.), in some 1 3 or 14 Books, of which
only Books i — iv and part of v are extant (69—70). The author's original intention had
been to bring out the contrast between Domitian and his immediate successors, Nerua and
Trajan, by relating * past servitude and present happiness * ; but * present happiness ' was
now withdrawn from his programme and vaguely reserved for his old age.

1006. The AnnaleSy extending from the death of Augustus to the death of Nero

(14—68 A.D.), were published between 115 and 117 A.D. They originally

Annaltt, . Consisted of some 16 to 18 Books, but only a part has been preserved. Of

the two Medicean Mss one contains Books i — iv (14 — 18 A.D.), with

a fragment of Book v and the whole of Book vi (31 — 37A.D.); the other, part of

Book xi (from 47 A.D.) and Books xii — xvi, the last being incomplete, reaching only to

66 A. D., and leaving a gap of three years before the beginning of the Historiae, We have

thus lost the reign of Caligula, the first six years of Claudius, and the last three of Nero.

Z007. In the Historiae the only authorities named are Vipstanus Messalla (iii 25, 38) and

the elder Pliny (iii a8). In the first six Books of the Anna/s, Pliny (i 69),

Authorities. as well as the Commentarii of Agrippina the younger (iv 53), the speeches

of Tiberius (i 81), and the Acta Diuma (iii 3); and, in the second hall,

Cluuius Rufus (xiii 10, xiv a), Fabius Rusticus (xiv a, xv 61), Pliny (xiii ao, xv 53),

Domitius Corbulo (xv 16), and the Comtnentarii Senatus (xv 74). Far oftcner the

historian refers to his authorities in merely general terms; he also relies on personal

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I003— loob] TACITUS 679

informadoii. Bnt his relations to the aathorities named cannot be tested, as not one
of those authorities has survived. The speech, however, of Claudius, conferring the ins
honorum on the inhabitants of Gaul, b still extant^, and we are thus able to appreciate
the skill with which it is remodelled in the historian's report {Ann. xi 34). The close
correspondence between Tacitus and Plutarch in their accounts of Galba and Otho implies
either that Plutarch borrowed from Tacitus, or that (more probably) both derived their
information from a common source, either the Acta Publico^ or the elder Pliny, or Quuius

X008. Tadtus is essentially a conservative ; he constantly uses antiquus
and priscus as terms of praise {Hist, ii 5, 64 ; Ann, vi 32). In his general
attitude he is aristocratic ; he sets great store by noble blood (Ann, iv 3,
vi 2i\ while he has a prejudice against slaves and barbarians and persons
of humble origin. He speaks with pride of the Republic (iii 60), a form of
constitution which he theoretically prefers (vi 4a) ; he considers a mixed
government to be ideally the best, but unlikely to last (iv 33) ; he admits
that a Free State cannot be restored (Hist, ii 37 — 38) and that the Empire
has proved inevitable {Hist i 16). The problem is to reconcile the Empire
with liberty (Agr. 3), and the citizen's duty lies in steering 'inter abruptam
contumaciam et deforme obsequium ' {Ann, iv ao). Hence he disapproves
of extreme patriots such as Paetus Thrasea (xiv 12, 49) and Heluidius
Priscus {Hist iv 6), while he prefers moderate liberals like Agricola
{Agr, 8, 4a), M. Lepidus {Ann, iv ao, vi 37) and L. Piso (vi lo)*

In the prefaces to his two great historical works, he aims at preserving
a complete impartiality. In the Annals he proposes at the outset to write
sine ira et studio ; in the Histories^ he assures us, neque amore quisquam ei
sine odio dicendus est; but these promises are only imperfectly kept. The
historian may be inspired with an incorruptible honesty of purpose, but his
personal preferences are too strong to be entirely suppressed. In the
Annals, his masterpiece is his much-debated character of Tiberius, the
mainspring of which, he assumes, was dissimulation. In general, we hear
too much of the gossip and scandal and the corrupt life of the court and
the capital, and too little of the undoubtedly efficient government of the

Tacitus has been described by Mommsen as the * most unmilitary of all
authors *". The essential facts of Paulinus' victory in Britain, duly noted in
the Agricola (31), are entirely omitted in the main narrative of the Annals
(xiv 31 — 39). He never wearies the reader by lingering over tactical or
strategic details, in which he personally feels an imperfect interest', but his
descriptions ot battles are full of glow and colour, as in the matchless story
of the second battle of Bedriacum and the storm and sack of Cremona
{Hist, iii 15 — 35). We see the flash of the standards near the fourth
milestone from Cremona (18), and the soldiers of the third legion saluting

^ Dessau, Inscr, SiUctae^ i 5a. Cp. §1124 infra,

• Th4 Provinces o/the Roman Empire, c. 5, £. T., i 181 n., 1886.

* Cp. B. W. Henderson, Civil War and Rebellion in the Roman Empire^
AD. 69 — 70 (1908).

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the rising sun (24). He is an orator no less than a historian. He resorts
to every kind of rhetorical artifice to heighten the effect of his narrative, and
for this purpose he has created a style that is absolutely unique in Latin
literature, a style in which brevity in itself, though doubtless present, is
really a less important characteristic than a deliberate preference for
combining the largest possible number of thoughts within the compass of
a single sentence. This result is partly attained by a superabundance of
participles, which are more frequent with him than with Caesar or Livy.
The leading characteristics of his style are its variety, its force and brevity,
and its poetic complexion. His variety of construction may be exemplified
by the three following clauses : — ' quod alii modestiam, multi quia diffideret,
quidam ut degeneris animi interpretabantur ' (Ann, iv 38); his variety of
uocabulary^ by his fifty phrases for death. In his choice of language he
excludes all that is obsolete or foreign; he also avoids the ordinary or
commonplace, e^, 'mattocks and spades' are expressed by *per quae
^eritur humus aut exciditur caespes * {Ann, i 65). He has a love of poetic
words or phrases, with repeated reminiscences of Virgil Thus the
description of the burning of the Capitol in the third Book of the Histories
is interwoven with many memories of the Fall of Troy in the Second
Aeneid, The Ciceronian type of period is foreign to the age of Tacitus ;
the laws of balance and symmetry are deliberately ignored by the im-
passioned historian, and the fitful outbursts of his appsjling narrative find
a highly artistic and effective medium in sentences that are spasmodic,
broken, and abrupt.

Like Seneca, he is the coiner of many epigrammatic phrases that have since become
proverbial: — * Maior e longinquo reuerentia' {Ann. i 47). ' Corniptissima republica
plurimae leges' (iii 27). 'Miseram pacem uel bello bene mutari' (ib. 44). *Praeful-
gebant..., eo ipso quod...non uisebantur' (ib. 76). * Acribus initiis, incurioso fine* (vi 17).

* Omnium consensu capax imperii, nisi imperasset' (HisU i 49). *Etiam sapientibus
cupido gloriae nouissima exuitur' (iv 6). 'Omne ignotum pro magnifico (Agr. 30).

* Soliludinem faciunt, pacem appellant ' (30). • Felix opportunitate mortis ' (45)*

xoog. Tacitus' friend, Pliny the younger (c, 61— c, 113 a.d.), a native of Nouom
Comum, was the second son of Lucius Caecilius Cilo by Plinia, the sister

youngS* ®^ **** ^^^^^ ^^"y- ^^®" ^^^ ^^^^^^ ^^ summoned to Rome by

Vespasian in 71 A.D., he was probably accompanied by his nephew, who

in his boyhood went through the usual course of education in Roman literature, and in

Greek. He afterwards studied rhetoric under Quintilian, and also under the distinctly

* Asiatic ' orator, Nicetes Sacerdos, while he modelled his own oratorical style on Demos-
thenes, Cicero, and Caluus. He was an admirer of the famous Stoic, Musonius. In August,
79, he was in attendance on his uncle at Misenum, when the latter lost his life during the
celebrated eruption of Vesuvius. As the adopted son of the elder Pliny, he changed
his name from Publius Caecilius Secundus to Gains Plinius Caecilius Secundus. In the
following year he became a decurio siUtibus iudicandis. Under Domitian, he was a military
tribune in Syria {c. 81-2). On his return, he practised in the Court of the Cetttumtdri,
and was successively quaestor, tribune, and praetor (93), and praefect of the military chest
(04 or 95). Under Nerua he became praefect of the public treasury ; in 100 A.D., under
Trajan, he was associated with Tacitus in the prosecution of Marius Priscus for mal-
administration in Africa, and was consul for pait of the year. In 103-4 he succeeded

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too9— loiij PLINY THE YOUNGER 681

Frontinus as augur; in 105 he wa« curator of the river Tiber; in 104 and 106 his
professional duties at the bar made him familiar with the affairs of Btthynia, and, about
1 1 1, he was appointed governor of that province. He reached Bith3niia in September,
held office for fifteen months or more, and probably died in 113. During his lifetime he
founded and endowed a library at his native place, and, besides promoting local education,
established an institution for the maintenance and instruction of the sons and daughters of
freebom parents. By his will he left a large sum for the building and maintenance of
Public Baths, and the interest of a still larger sum for the benefit of 100 iVeedmen, and
ultimately for an annual banquet.

loio. As an orator, Pliny prefers redundance of style to a dry and arid
brevity (Ep, i ao). His Panegyric on Trajan (100 a.d.),
which was afterwards recited, and published in an expanded «~»'»^»**'
form, is unduly florid. But it supplies us with a full account of the
emperor's antecedents and of his early policy. It purports to be the
speaker's Gratiarum Actio for the distinction of his nomination as consul
It became the model for panegyrical orations in honour of emperors, and
in fact owes its survival to its having been preserved in company with
speeches founded on its pattern. It is full of fanciful personifications and
antithetical conceits. Thus, in describing the triumph of Trajan, in which
the emperor condescended to walk on foot instead of riding in a chariot,
the orator closes with the phase : — * te ad sidera tollit humus ista communis
et confiisa principis uestigia' (24).

Id I. Of Pliny's loiters we possess nine Books, followed by his Corre-
spondence with Trajan, The successive Books are in strictly .
chronological order, but the order of the letters in each Book
is not chronological

It was held by Mommsen that we possess no Letters earlier than the death of Domitian
(Sept. 96), and that the several Books were published in the following order: — 1(97);
ii (100); iii (loi-i) ; iv (105); v and vi (106); vii (107); viii (zo8); and ix (not later than
109) ; while the Correspondence with Trajan belongs to iii-i. One of the Letters (ii lo)
has since been placed late in Domittan's reign, and it has been suggested by Prof. Merrill
that the ix Books were published in three groups : — :— ii (97 or 98) ; iii— vi (io6) ; vii— ix
(108 or 109).

They present us with a picture of the varied interests and occupations
of a cultivated Roman gentleman. They include elaborate descriptions of
Pliny's Laurentian and Tuscan villas (ii 17 and v 6), with accounts of the
way in which he spent his day in each (ix 36, 40). He consults Suetonius
on the interpretation of dreams (i 18); he laments the death of Silius
Italicus (iii 7), of Martial (iii 21), and of Verginius Rufus (ii i); and he
supplies Tacitus with materials for his history by describing the last days of
the elder Pliny (vi 16, 20), and also by relating a compliment paid to himself
by Nerua in connexion with his prosecution of the proconsul of the
prouinda Baetica (vii 33). He discourses on the intermittent spring in the
neighbourhood of Comum (iv 30), on the lountain of the Clitumnus
(viii 8), and on the floating islands of the Vadimonian lake (viii 20), closing
his description of these last by confessing his delight in the marvels of
nature: — *te quoque, ut me, nihil aeque ac naturae opera delectant'.

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loia. His Correspondence with Trajan gives us information on points
of detail in the government of Bithynia and on the relations between the
government and the central authority. Pliny's pertinacity in raising
questions of detail is only equalled by the wisdom and patience displayed
by Trajan in his replies. The most celebrated letter in this correspondence
is that in which Pliny consults Trajan on the principles on which Christians
were to be treated when brought before his tribunal (Ep. 96).

In his other Letters, as well as in his Panegyric, Pliny's ambition is to
display his powers of literary expression. Almost every Letter deals with a
single topic, and ends with a terse and epigrammatic sentence. Every living
person named in them is praised, with the exception of Regulus, whom
Pliny denounces as 'omnium bipedum nequissimus' (i 5, 14). As a rule,
he is indulgent in criticising others, both in life and in literature. He is
obviously a man of gentlemanly tone, devoted to his friends, kindly and
considerate to his inferiors; great in nothing, and small in many things, but
always inspired with high aims. When he is urged to write a history,
though he has misgivings as to his powers, he is attracted by the hope of
acquiring immortal fame by making the memory of others immortal
(Ep, V 8). His diction has an affinity with that of his instructor,
Quintilian; and, like Quintilian, he is an imitator of Cicero. He also
gives proof of the influence of the rhetorical schools of his day. He was a
diligent student of Livy (vi 20, 5), and parallels have been traced between
his writings and the Agricola and Germania of Tacitus. In the Revival of

Online LibrarySir John Edwin SandysA companion to Latin studies → online text (page 85 of 112)