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184

PRONTO.

repairing, however, to Rome, in the reign of Ha­drian, he soon attained to such celebrity as a pleader and a teacher of rhetoric, that not only were his instructions and society eagerly sought by youths of the highest rank, but he attracted the attention of the court, and gradually -assumed much the same position as that occupied by the younger Pliny in' the time of Trajan. To his charge was committed the child, M. Annius Verus, known in history as the emperor M. AureKus ; subse­quently he was selected as the preceptor of L. Commodus, who, when he assumed the purple, took the name of L. Verus, and he discharged his duties towards both pupils so much to the satisfac­tion of all concerned, that he was admitted into the senate, was nominated consul for the months of July and August A. d. 143, and five years after­wards was appointed proconsul of Asia, a distinc­tion which he declined, on the plea of infirm health. Nor were his rewards confined to mere unsubstan­tial honours. From the gains of a lucrative pro­fession, and the liberality of his royal patrons, he amassed considerable wealth, became proprietor of the celebrated gardens of Maecenas, acquired villas in different parts of Italy, and expended a large sum upon the erection of splendid baths. It is true that he speaks of himself as poor, but this must be regarded as the mock humility of one who compared his own ample means with the overgrown fortunes of the great nobility. In old age he was severely afflicted with gout, and during the frequent attacks of the malady his house was the resort of the most eminent men of the metropolis, who were in the habit of assembling round his couch, and listening with delight to his conversation. So great was his fame as a speaker, that a sect of rhetoricians arose who were denominated Fronto-niani. Following the example of their founder, they scrupulously avoided the poetical diction and pom­pous exaggeration of the Greek school; and while they made it their aim to adhere in all things to the severe simplicity of nature, bestowed especial care on the purity of their language, rejecting all words and expressions not stamped with the au­thority of the most approved ancient models.

Fronto, whose disposition, as far as we can judge from his correspondence, must have been singularly gentle and amiable, was throughout life regarded with the warmest esteem by his imperial disciples, and the letters of Marcus in particular, who sought permission from the senate to raise a statue to his master, breathe a spirit of the strongest affection. Of his parents and ancestors we know nothing whatsoever, for the story that he was descended by the mother's side from Plutarch is a mere mo­dern fabrication ; but we read of a brother with whom he lived on the most cordial terms, and who rose to high office under Antoninus Pius. By his wife, Gratia or Gratia, who died when he was far advanced in life, he had an only daughter, who married Aufidius Victorinus, by whom she had three sons, one of whom was M. Aufidius Fronto, consul a.d. 199, the individual who erected a monument at Pesaro, the inscription on which is given in the article below. The precise date of Fronto's death is not recorded, but the latest of his .epistles belongs to the year a. d. 166,

Up to a recent period no work of Fronto was known to be in existence, with the exception of a corrupt and worthless tract entitled De Differentiis Vocakulorum, and a few very short fragments

FRONTO.

scattered over the pages of Aulus Gellius and other Latin grammarians. But about the year 1814 Angelo Mai found that the sheets of a palimpsest, in the Ambrosian library, which had formerly be­longed to the famous monastery of St. Columba at Bobbio, containing a translation of a portion of the acts of the first council of Chalcedon, had been made up from ancient MSS. of Symmachus, of an old commentator on Cicero, of Pliny the younger, and especially of Fronto; and that the original writing was still partially legible. In this manner a considerable number of letters which had passed between the orator, Antoninus Pius, M. Aurelius, L. Verus, and various friends, together with some short essays, were recovered and published at Milan in 1815, in a disordered and mutilated con­dition indeed, as was to be expected under the circumstances of the case [see cicero, p. 728] ; but still sufficiently perfect to convey a very clear idea of the nature and value of the pieces when entire. But the discovery did not end here, for upon the removal of Mai to Rome, he detected in the Vatican another portion of the acts of the same council of Chalcedon ; also a palimpsest, breaking off very nearly at the point where the codex mentioned above commenced, evidently written at the same period by the same hand, and proved to have been once the property of the same monastery, thus unquestionably forming the first part or volume of that very MS. of which the Ambrosian library possessed the second, and in part consisting of leaves of parchment which had, in the first instance, exhibited the epistles of Fronto. From this source upwards of a hundred new letters were obtained, and these too in better order than the first. An improved edition, con­taining these important additions and alterations, appeared at Rome in 1823.

The announcement that a lost treasure, such as the works of Fronto were supposed to be, had been regained, excited intense interest among scholars ; but their anticipations were miserably disappointed. The compositions in question are so inconceivably tame and vapid in style, and relate to matters so trivial (we may almost say childish), that it would be impossible to point out any pro­duction of classical antiquity, of equal extent, from which so little that is agreeable or instructive can be gleaned. We find a series of short communica­tions pleasing indeed, in so far as they show the kindly connection which subsisted throughout life between an amiable preceptor and his imperial pupils, but relating almost exclusively to the most ordinary domestic occurrences, totally destitute of attraction either in form or substance.

The contents of the Roman edition of 1823 are as follows: —

I. Epistolarum ad Marcum Caesarem Libri F"., addressed to M. Aurelius before his accession, com­prising in all 122 letters, of which 65 are from the Caesar to Fronto, 54 from Fronto to the Caesar, two in Greek from Fronto to Domitia Calvilla, mother of the Caesar, one (a fragment) in Greek to some unknown personage, and one piece in Greek which must be considered rather in the light of an essay in imitation of Lysias and Plato than as a letter, properly speaking. The fifth book consists of mere notes, 59 in number, many of them not exceeding one or two lines, such as, " To my Lord,—If you love me at all, sleep during these nights, that you may come into the senate

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