Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (c. 35 – c. 100 AD) was a Roman educator and rhetorician from Hispania, widely referred to in medieval schools of rhetoric and in Renaissance writing. In English translation, he is usually referred to as Quintilian (/kwɪnˈtɪliən/), although the alternate spellings of Quintillian and Quinctilian are occasionally seen, the latter in older texts.

Calahorra, estatua de Quintiliano
Quintilian's statue in Calahorra, La Rioja, Spain


Quintilian was born c. 35 in Calagurris (Calahorra, La Rioja) in Hispania. His father, a well-educated man, sent him to Rome to study rhetoric early in the reign of Nero. While there, he cultivated a relationship with Domitius Afer, who died in 59. "It had always been the custom … for young men with ambitions in public life to fix upon some older model of their ambition … and regard him as a mentor" (Kennedy, 16). Quintilian evidently adopted Afer as his model and listened to him speak and plead cases in the law courts. Afer has been characterized as a more austere, classical, Ciceronian speaker than those common at the time of Seneca the Younger, and he may have inspired Quintilian’s love of Cicero.

Sometime after Afer's death, Quintilian returned to Hispania, possibly to practice law in the courts of his own province. However, in 68, he returned to Rome as part of the retinue of Emperor Galba, Nero's short-lived successor. Quintilian does not appear to have been a close advisor of the Emperor, which probably ensured his survival after the assassination of Galba in 69.

After Galba's death, and during the chaotic Year of the Four Emperors which followed, Quintilian opened a public school of rhetoric. Among his students were Pliny the Younger, and perhaps Tacitus. The Emperor Vespasian made him a consul. The emperor "in general was not especially interested in the arts, but … was interested in education as a means of creating an intelligent and responsible ruling class" (Kennedy, 19). This subsidy enabled Quintilian to devote more time to the school, since it freed him of pressing monetary concerns. In addition, he appeared in the courts of law, arguing on behalf of clients.

Of his personal life, little is known. In the Institutio Oratoria, he mentions a wife who died young, as well as two sons who predeceased him.

Quintilian retired from teaching and pleading in 88,[1] during the reign of Domitian. His retirement may have been prompted by his achievement of financial security and his desire to become a gentleman of leisure. Quintilian survived several emperors; the reigns of Vespasian and Titus were relatively peaceful, but that of Domitian was reputed to be difficult. Domitian’s cruelty and paranoia may have prompted the rhetorician to distance himself quietly. The emperor does not appear to have taken offence as he made Quintilian tutor of his two grand-nephews in 90 AD. He is believed to have died sometime around 100, not having long survived Domitian, who was assassinated in 96.[2]


The only extant work of Quintilian is a twelve-volume textbook on rhetoric entitled Institutio Oratoria (generally referred to in English as the Institutes of Oratory), published around AD 95. This work deals not only with the theory and practice of rhetoric, but also with the foundational education and development of the orator himself, providing advice that ran from the cradle to the grave. An earlier text, De Causis Corruptae Eloquentiae ("On the Causes of Corrupted Eloquence") has been lost, but is believed to have been "a preliminary exposition of some of the views later set forth in [Institutio Oratoria]" (Kennedy, 24).

In addition, there are two sets of declamations, Declamationes Maiores and Declamationes Minores, which have been attributed to Quintilian. However, there is some dispute over the real writer of these texts: "Some modern scholars believe that the declamations circulated in his name represent the lecture notes of a scholar either using Quintilian's system or actually trained by him" (Murphy, XVII–XVIII).

Institutio Oratoria

Quintilian, Institutio oratoria ed. Burman (Leiden 1720), frontispiece
Frontispiece of a 1720 edition of the Institutio Oratoria, showing Quintilan teaching rhetoric

Institutio Oratoria (English: Institutes of Oratory) is a twelve-volume textbook on the theory and practice of rhetoric by Roman rhetorician Quintilian. It was published around year 95 AD. The work deals also with the foundational education and development of the orator himself. In this work, Quintilian establishes that the perfect orator is first a good man, and after that he is a good speaker.[3] He also believed that a speech should stay genuine to a message that is "just and honorable."[3] Coherently, this came to be known as his good man theory, embracing the message that if one cannot be genuinely good, then one cannot be a good speaker for the people. This theory also revolves around being of service to the people. A good man is one who works for the good of the people and the prosperity of society.

Quintilian published Institutio Oratoria in the last years of Domitian’s rule of the empire.[4] He had worked alongside Domitian, but as he began to write more and ease away from Emperor Domitian’s complete power, the emperor did not seem to mind as he was so impressed with Quintilian, he hired him to be a tutor for his family because of Quintilian’s devotion to education. Domitian was in the harshest period of his rule, and almost no one had the courage to speak any idea that was unlike his, but Quintilian did.[5] He spoke as an orator in the tradition of Cicero, such as had not been seen since the beginning of the reign of Augustus.[5] Rather than pleading cases, as an orator of his era might have been expected to do, he concentrated on speaking in more general terms about how sound rhetoric influences the education of the people.

Placement of Quintilian's rhetoric

Quintilian cites many authors in the Institutio Oratoria before providing his own definition of rhetoric (Quintilian, 10.1.3). His rhetoric is chiefly defined by Cato the Elder’s vir bonus, dicendi peritus, or “the good man skilled at speaking” (Quintilian, 12.1.1). Later he states: “I should like the orator I am training to be a sort of Roman Wise Man” (Quintilian, 12.2.7). Quintilian also “insists that his ideal orator is no philosopher because the philosopher does not take as a duty participation in civic life; this is constitutive of Quintilian's (and Isocrates' and Cicero's) ideal orator" (Walzer, 26). Though he calls for imitation, he also urges the orator to use this knowledge to inspire his own original invention (Quintilian, 10.2.4).

No author receives greater praise in the Institutio Oratoria than Cicero: "For who can instruct with greater thoroughness, or more deeply stir the emotions? Who has ever possessed such a gift of charm?" (Quintilian, 10.1.110). Quintilian’s definition of rhetoric shares many similarities with that of Cicero, one being the importance of the speaker’s moral character (Logie,). Like Cicero, Quintilian also believes that “history and philosophy can increase an orator’s command of copia and style;" they differ in that Quintilian “features the character of the orator, as well as the art” (Walzer, 36–37).

In Book II, Quintilian sides with Plato’s assertion in the Phaedrus that the rhetorician must be just: “In the Phaedrus, Plato makes it even clearer that the complete attainment of this art is even impossible without the knowledge of justice, an opinion in which I heartily concur" (Quintilian, 2.15.29). Their views are further similar in their treatment of “(1) the inseparability, in more respects than one, of wisdom, goodness, and eloquence; and (2) the morally ideological nature of rhetoric. [...] For both, there are conceptual connections between rhetoric and justice which rule out the possibility of [an] amorally neutral conception of rhetoric. For both, rhetoric is ‘speaking well,’ and for both ‘speaking well’ means speaking justly" (Logie, 371).

Influence of Quintilian

The influence of Quintilian’s masterwork, Institutio Oratoria, can be felt in several areas. First of all, there is his criticism of the orator Seneca the Younger. Quintilian was attempting to modify the prevailing imperial style of oratory with his book, and Seneca was the principal figure in that style’s tradition. He was more recent than many of the authors mentioned by Quintilian, but his reputation within the post-classical style necessitated both his mention and the criticism or back-handed praise that is given to him. Quintilian believed that “his style is for the most part corrupt and extremely dangerous because it abounds in attractive faults” (Quintilianus, 10.1.129). Seneca was regarded as doubly dangerous because his style was sometimes attractive. This reading of Seneca “has heavily coloured subsequent judgments of Seneca and his style" (Dominik, 51).

Quintilian also made an impression on Martial, the Latin poet. A short poem, published in 86, was addressed to him, and opened, "Quintilian, greatest director of straying youth, / you are an honour, Quintilian, to the Roman toga". However, one should not take Martial's praise at face value, since he was known for his sly and witty insults. The opening lines are all that are usually quoted, but the rest of the poem contains lines such as "A man who longs to surpass his father’s census rating" (6). This speaks of Quintilian's ambitious side and his drive for wealth and position.

After his death, Quintilian's influence fluctuated. He was mentioned by his pupil, Pliny, and by Juvenal, who may have been another student, “as an example of sobriety and of worldly success unusual in the teaching profession” (Gwynn, 139). During the 3rd to 5th centuries, his influence was felt among such authors as St. Augustine of Hippo, whose discussion of signs and figurative language certainly owed something to Quintilian, and to St. Jerome, editor of the Vulgate Bible, whose theories on education are clearly influenced by Quintilian’s. The Middle Ages saw a decline in knowledge of his work, since existing manuscripts of Institutio Oratoria were fragmented, but the Italian humanists revived interest in the work after the discovery by Poggio Bracciolini in 1416 of a forgotten, complete manuscript in the monastery of St. Gall, which he found "buried in rubbish and dust" in a filthy dungeon. The influential scholar Leonardo Bruni, considered the first modern historian, greeted the news by writing to his friend Poggio:

It will be your glory to restore to the present age, by your labour and diligence, the writings of excellent authors, which have hitherto escaped the researches of the learned... Oh! what a valuable acquisition! What an unexpected pleasure! Shall I then behold Quintilian whole and entire, who, even in his imperfect state, was so rich a source of delight?... But Quintilian is so consummate a master of rhetoric and oratory, that when, after having delivered him from his long imprisonment in the dungeons of the barbarians, you transmit him to this country, all the nations of Italy ought to assemble to bid him welcome... Quintilian, an author whose works I will not hesitate to affirm, are more an object of desire to the learned than any others, excepting only Cicero's dissertation De Republica. (Shepherd, chapter 3, pp. 95–97)

The Italian poet Petrarch addressed one of his letters to the dead to Quintilian, and for many he “provided the inspiration for a new humanistic philosophy of education” (Gwynn, 140). This enthusiasm for Quintilian spread with humanism itself, reaching northern Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. Martin Luther, the German theologian and ecclesiastical reformer, "claimed that he preferred Quintilian to almost all authors, 'in that he educates and at the same time demonstrates eloquence, that is, he teaches in word and in deed most happily'" (Gwynn, 140). The influence of Quintilian's works is also seen in Luther's contemporary Erasmus of Rotterdam. He above all shaped the implicit depth of humanism and had studied at Steyn.

It has been argued by a musicologist, Ursula Kirkendale, Page needed) that the composition of Johann Sebastian Bach's Das Musikalische Opfer (The Musical Offering, BWV 1079), was closely connected with the Institutio Oratoria. Among Bach's duties during his tenure at Leipzig (1723–1750) was teaching Latin; his early training included rhetoric. (Philologist and Rector of the Leipzig Thomasschule, Johann Matthias Gesner, for whom Bach composed a cantata in 1729, published a substantial Quintilian edition with a long footnote in Bach's honor.)

After this high point, Quintilian’s influence seems to have lessened somewhat, although he is mentioned by the English poet Alexander Pope in his versified An Essay on Criticism:

In grave Quintilian’s copious works we find
The justest rules and clearest method join’d (lines 669-70).

In addition, “he is often mentioned by writers like Montaigne and Lessing... but he made no major contribution to intellectual history, and by the nineteenth century he seemed to be... rather little read and rarely edited” (Gwynn, 140–41). However, in his celebrated Autobiography, John Stuart Mill (arguably the nineteenth-century's most influential English intellectual) spoke highly of Quintilian as a force in his early education. He wrote that Quintilian, while little-read in Mill's day due to "his obscure style and to the scholastic details of which many parts of his treatise are made up," was "seldom sufficiently appreciated." "His book," Mill continued, "is a kind of encyclopaedia of the thoughts of the ancients on the whole field of education and culture; and I have retained through life many valuable ideas which I can distinctly trace to my reading of him..."[6] He was also highly praised by Thomas De Quincey: "[F]or elegance and as a practical model in the art he was expounding, neither Aristotle, nor any less austere among the Greek rhetoricians, has any pretensions to measure himself with Quintilian. In reality, for a triumph over the difficulties of the subject, and as a lesson on the possibility of imparting grace to the treatment of scholastic topics, naturally as intractable as that of Grammar or Prosody, there is no such chef-d'oeuvre to this hour in any literature, as the Institutions of Quintilian" (De Quincey, 40). In more recent times, Quintilian appears to have made another upward turn. He is frequently included in anthologies of literary criticism, and is an integral part of the history of education. He is believed to be the “earliest spokesman for a child-centered education” (141), which is discussed above under his early childhood education theories. As well, he has something to offer students of speech, professional writing, and rhetoric, because of the great detail with which he covers the rhetorical system. His discussions of tropes and figures also formed the foundation of contemporary works on the nature of figurative language, including the post-structuralist and formalist theories. For example, the works of Jacques Derrida on the failure of language to impart the truth of the objects it is meant to represent would not be possible without Quintilian’s assumptions about the function of figurative language and tropes.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Wikisource Reid, James Smith (1911). "Quintilian" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 22 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 761.
  2. ^ Quintilian (2016). Murphy, James Jerome; Wiese, Cleve (eds.). Quintilian on the teaching of speaking & writing : translations from books one, two & ten of the Institutio Oratoria (Second ed.). Carbondale : Southern Illinois University Press. ISBN 0-8093-3440-2.
  3. ^ a b Golden, J. L., Berquist, G. F., Coleman, W. E. and Sproule, J. M. (2011). The rhetoric of western thought. Dubuque, IA: Kendall-Hunt.
  4. ^ "Institutio Oratoria." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 9 June 2014. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.
  5. ^ a b Gideon, Burton O. "Quintilian: Institutio Oratoria (95 C.E.)." Quintilian: Institutio Oratoria (95 C.E.). Silva Rhetoricae, n.d. Web [URL needed]. 30 Sept. 2014.
  6. ^ Mill, John Stuart "Autobiography", Chapter 1: Childhood and Early Education Archived November 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, The University of Adelaide Library Electronic Texts Collection. (Also at p. 25, Collected Works, Vol. I).
  7. ^ Erik Gunderson (2000). Staging masculinity: the rhetoric of performance in the Roman world. p. 38. Quintilian reads in a manner that evokes the ideas of Derrida on the problems of reading and writing in Western philosophy.


  • De Quincey, Thomas. De Quincey's Literary Criticism, edited with an introduction by H. Darbisire. London: Henry Frowde, 1909.
  • Dominik, William J. "The Style Is the Man: Seneca, Tacitus, and Quintilian’s Canon". In Roman Eloquence: Rhetoric in Society and Literature, edited by William J. Dominik,. New York: Routledge, 1997.
  • Gwynn, Aubrey S.J. Roman Education from Cicero to Quintilian. New York: Teachers College Press, 1926.
  • Kennedy, George. Quintilian. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1969.
  • Kirkendale, Ursula. "The Source for Bach's Musical Offering". Journal of the American Musicological Society 33 (1980): 99–141.
  • Logie, John. "Quintilian and Roman Authorship". Rhetoric Review 22.4 (2003): 353–73.
  • Murphy, James J. (ed.). Quintilian on the Teaching of Speaking and Writing: Translations from Books One, Two, and Ten of the Institutio Oratoria. Edwardville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1987.
  • Quintilianus, Marcus Fabius. Institutio Oratoria, translated by H.E. Butler. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge: Harvard University press, 1920.
  • Shepherd, William. Life of Poggio Bracciolini. 1837.
  • Walzer, Arthur E. "Quintilian's "Vir Bonus" and the Stoic Wise Man." Rhetoric Society 33.4 (2003): 25-41.

Further reading

  • Bonner, Stanley F. Education in Ancient Rome: From the elder Cato to the younger Pliny. London: Methuen & Company, Ltd., 1977.
  • Clarke, M.L. Rhetoric at Rome: A Historical Survey. New York: Routledge, 1996.
  • Dozier, Curtis Andrew. "Poetry, Politics, and Pleasure in Quintilian." Aesthetic Value in Classical Antiquity. 345-363.
  • Fantham, Elaine. Roman Readings: Roman Response to Greek Literature from Plautus to Statius and Quintilian. Beiträge zur Altertumskunde, 277. Berlin; New York: De Gruyter, 2011.
  • Galand, P., F. Hallyn, C. Lévy, W. Verbaal, Quintilien ancien et moderne. Etudes réunies, Turnhout 2010, Brepols Publishers, ISBN 978-2-503-52865-6
  • Gernot, Krapinger (ed.), [Quintilian] Der Gladiator (Groessere Deklamationen, 9). Collana Scientifica, 18. Cassino: Universita\ degli Studi di Cassino, 2007.
  • Kennedy, George Alexander. The Art of Rhetoric in the Roman World 300 B.C.–A.D. 300. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1972.
  • Laing, Gordon J. Quintilian, the Schoolmaster. The Classical Journal 15.9 (1920): 515-34.
  • Leitch, Vincent B., Ed. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2001.
  • Morgan, Teresa. Literate Education in the Hellenistic and Roman Worlds. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • Murray, Oswyn, John Boardman, and Jasper Griffin, Eds. The Oxford History of the Roman World. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
  • Quintilian. Quintilian's Institutes of Oratory; Or, Education of an Orator. J. S. Watson. London: G. Bell and Sons, 1856. Print.
  • Thomas, Zinsmaier, [Quintilian], Die Hände der blinden Mutter (Größere Deklamationen, 6). Collana Scientifica 24. Cassino: Edizioni Università di Cassino, 2009.
  • Winterbottom, Michael. Problems in Quintilian. London: University of London, Institute of Classical Studies, 1970.

External links


Antiphilus (Ἀντίφιλος) was an ancient Greek painter from Naucratis, Egypt, in the age of Alexander the Great. He worked for Philip II of Macedon and Ptolemy I of Egypt. Thus he was a contemporary of Apelles, whose rival he is said to have been, but he seems to have worked in quite another style. Quintilian speaks of his facility: the descriptions of his works which have come down to us show that he excelled in light and shade, in genre representations, and in caricature.

Aristides Quintilianus

Aristides Quintilianus (Greek: Ἀριστείδης Κοϊντιλιανός) was the Greek author of an ancient musical treatise, Perì musikês (Περὶ Μουσικῆς, i.e. On Music; Latin: De Musica)

According to Theodore Karp, his three-volume work on music "constitutes one of the principal sources of modern knowledge of ancient Greek music and its relationship to other disciplines". According to the 17th-century scholar Marcus Meibomius, in whose collection (Antiq. Musicae Auc. Septem, 52) this work was printed for the first time in 1652, it contains everything on music that is to be found in antiquity.

The dates of Aristides are uncertain. In his book he refers to Cicero (d. 43 BC), and his work was used by Martianus Capella (fl. 410-420). According to Thomas J. Mathiesen, Aristides flourished in the late 3rd or early 4th century AD. One piece of evidence for Aristides' date, according to Winnington-Ingram, is that fact in the work he addresses two friends called Eusebius and Florentius; the latter name is unknown before AD 300.Book 1 of the work deals with the theory of music under the traditional headings of harmonics, rhythm, and metre. It depends heavily on Aristoxenus (4th century BC), but with some "intriguing additions", apparently from a source from the classical period. Book 2 (said by Winnington-Ingram to be "extremely interesting") discusses the importance of music in the education of the young and in the moral life of individuals. Book 3 discusses the arithmetic of music and explores from the point of view of Platonic philosophy the analogies between numbers in music and numbers in the physical world.


Cleitarchus or Clitarchus (Greek: Κλείταρχος) was one of the historians of Alexander the Great. Son of the historian Dinon of Colophon, he spent a considerable time at the court of Ptolemy Lagus. He was active in the mid to late 4th century BCE.

Quintilian (Institutio Oratoria. x. I. 74) credits him with more ability than trustworthiness, and Cicero (Brutus, II) accuses him of giving a fictitious account of the death of Themistocles. But there is no doubt that his history was very popular, and much used by Diodorus Siculus, Quintus Curtius, Justin and Plutarch, and the authors of the Alexander romances. His unnatural and exaggerated style became proverbial.

His work, the History of Alexander, is almost completely lost and has survived only in some thirty fragments preserved by ancient authors, especially by Aelian and Strabo.

A recent papyrological find from Oxyrhynchus (P.Oxy. LXXI 4808) records that he was a tutor (Greek: διδάσκαλος) of Ptolemy IV Philopator, r.221–205 BCE, and suggests that he wrote in the mid to late 3rd century, not, as was hitherto thought, in the late 4th. Luisa Prandi (2012) has recently restated the case for the 'high' dating.

Cornelius Severus

Cornelius Severus was an Augustan Age Roman epic poet who is mentioned in Quintilian and Ovid. Quintilian attests to an epic about the Sicilian Wars, Bellum Siculum, and Ovid refers to a long poem on Rome's ancient kings, which may be Res Romanae. This work, such as it is known, exists only in quotations by other authors. Seneca quoted twenty-five lines from it on the death of Cicero, which can be found in the Oxford University Press Oxford Book of Latin Verse (1912 ed.).


Digression (parekbasis in Greek, egressio, digressio and excursion in Latin) is a section of a composition or speech that marks a temporary shift of subject; the digression ends when the writer or speaker returns to the main topic. Digressions can be used intentionally as a stylistic or rhetorical device.

In classical rhetoric since Corax of Syracuse, especially in Institutio Oratoria of Quintilian, the digression was a regular part of any oration or composition. After setting out the topic of a work and establishing the need for attention to be given, the speaker or author would digress to a seemingly disconnected subject before returning to a development of the composition's theme, a proof of its validity, and a conclusion. A schizothemia is a digression by means of a long reminiscence.

Cicero was a master of digression, particularly in his ability to shift from the specific question or issue at hand (the hypothesis) to the more general issue or question that it depended upon (the thesis). As was the case with most ancient orators, Cicero's apparent digression always turned out to bear directly upon the issue at hand. During the Second Sophistic (in Imperial Rome), the ability to guide a speech away from a stated theme and then back again with grace and skill came to be a mark of true eloquence.

Dionysian imitatio

Dionysian imitatio is the influential literary method of imitation as formulated by Greek author Dionysius of Halicarnassus in the first century BCE, which conceived it as the rhetorical practice of emulating, adapting, reworking and enriching a source text by an earlier author. It is a departure from the concept of mimesis which only is concerned with "imitation of nature" instead of the "imitation of other authors."


Dispositio is the system used for the organization of arguments in Western classical rhetoric. The word is Latin, and can be translated as "organization" or "arrangement".

It is the second of five canons of classical rhetoric (the first being inventio, and the remaining being elocutio, memoria, and pronuntiatio) that concern the crafting and delivery of speeches and writing.

The first part of any rhetorical exercise was to discover the proper arguments to use, which was done under the formalized methods of inventio. The next problem facing the orator or writer was to select various arguments and organize them into an effective discourse.

Domitius Afer

Gnaeus Domitius Afer (died 59) was a Roman orator and advocate, born at Nemausus (Nîmes) in Gallia Narbonensis. He flourished in the reigns of Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero. He was suffect consul in the nundinium of September-December 39 as the colleague of Aulus Didius Gallus.

Gaius Julius Victor

Gaius Julius Victor (4th century) was a Roman writer of rhetoric, possibly of Gaulish origin. His extant manual is of some importance as facilitating the textual criticism of Quintilian, whom he closely follows in many places.

Gaius Vitorius Hosidius Geta

Gaius Vitorius Hosidius Geta () was a Roman who lived in the 1st century and 2nd century. Geta was an only son and might have had a sister called Vitoria. His father was Roman consul and senator Marcus Vitorius Marcellus and his mother was Hosidia Geta. Geta’s maternal grandfather was Roman Senator and General Gnaeus Hosidius Geta.

Geta is mentioned in the fourth book of Silvae by poet Statius and in the writings of Roman teacher Quintilian. Both Statius and Quintilian were friends of his father's. Statius mentions that Geta’s grandfather demanded worthy feats from him.

Quintilian had appeared to be Geta’s tutor, because in his letters to Marcellus, Quintilian mentions about Marcellus’ instructions to him. Quintilian writes to Marcellus, how impressed he is of Geta’s academic abilities and hopes Geta would aspire to them.

Geta became a member of the Arval Brethren. The Arval Brethren was an ancient group of priests that offered annual sacrifices to lares and the gods to guarantee good harvests. His name appears as an inscription in the records of the Arval Brethren.

Hagnon of Tarsus

Hagnon of Tarsus (Greek: Ἅγνων, 2nd century BC) was an ancient Greek rhetorician, a philosopher, and a pupil of Carneades. Quintilian chides him for writing a book called Rhetorices accusatio (Prosecution of Rhetoric) in which he denied that rhetoric was an art.Athenaeus cites him for a curious piece of information that "among the Spartans it is custom for girls before their marriage to be treated like favorite boys (paidikois)" (i.e. sexually). Plutarch quotes him as the source of a story concerning an elephant which was being cheated of its food by its keeper:

Hagnon tells a story of an elephant in Syria, that was bred up in a certain house, who observed that his keeper took away and defrauded him every day of half the measure of his barley; only that once, the master being present and looking on, the keeper poured out the whole measure; which was no sooner done, but the elephant, extending his proboscis, separated the barley and divided it into two equal parts, thereby ingeniously discovering, as much as in him lay, the injustice of his keeper.

Hagnon is also mentioned by Cicero.Some modern scholars have considered this Agnon to be the same man as the demagogue Agnonides, the contemporary of Phocion, as the latter is in some manuscripts of Cornelius Nepos called Agnon. But the manner in which Agnon is mentioned by Quintilian shows that he is a rhetorician, who lived at a much later period than the 4th century BC suggested by an identification with Agnonides. Whether however he is the same as the academic philosopher mentioned by Athenaeus is still a matter of some debate.

Institutio Oratoria

Institutio Oratoria (English: Institutes of Oratory) is a twelve-volume textbook on the theory and practice of rhetoric by Roman rhetorician Quintilian. It was published around year 95 CE. The work deals also with the foundational education and development of the orator himself.

Julius Africanus

For the Christian traveller and historian, see Sextus Julius Africanus. For others with this name, see Africanus.Julius Africanus was a celebrated orator in the reign of Nero, and seems to have been the son of the Julius Africanus, of the Gallic state of the Santoni, who was condemned by Tiberius in 32 AD. Quintilian, who had heard Julius Africanus, spoke of him and Domitius Afer as the best orators of their time. The eloquence of Africanus was chiefly characterized by vehemence and energy. Pliny the Younger mentions a grandson of this Julius Africanus, who was also an advocate and was opposed to him upon one occasion. He was consul suffectus in 108 AD.There is a persistent belief in some quarters that Africanus was actually an African. However, being the son of a Gallic chief he was a member of a Celtic tribe. This confusion probably arises from an incorrect belief that the Roman cognomen Africanus means from Africa (i.e. born in Africa) rather than the correct meaning of famous relation to Africa. The name Africanus originated with Scipio Africanus, who defeated Carthage (in North Africa) during the Second Punic War.

Literal and figurative language

Literal and figurative language is a distinction within some fields of language analysis, in particular stylistics, rhetoric, and semantics.

Literal language uses words exactly according to their conventionally accepted meanings or denotation.

Figurative (or non-literal) language uses words in a way that deviates from their conventionally accepted definitions in order to convey a more complicated meaning or heightened effect. Figurative language is often created by presenting words in such a way that they are equated, compared, or associated with normally unrelated meanings.Literal usage confers meaning to words, in the sense of the meaning they have by themselves, outside any figure of speech. It maintains a consistent meaning regardless of the context, with the intended meaning corresponding exactly to the meaning of the individual words. Figurative use of language is the use of words or phrases that implies a non-literal meaning which does make sense or that could [also] be true.Aristotle and later the Roman Quintilian were among the early analysts of rhetoric who expounded on the differences between literal and figurative language.In 1769, Frances Brooke's novel The History of Emily Montague was used in the earliest Oxford English Dictionary citation for the figurative sense of literally; the sentence from the novel used was, "He is a fortunate man to be introduced to such a party of fine women at his arrival; it is literally to feed among the lilies." This citation was also used in the OED's 2011 revision.Within literary analysis, such terms are still used; but within the fields of cognition and linguistics, the basis for identifying such a distinction is no longer used.


Metaphrase is a term referring to literal translation, i.e., "word by word and line by line" translation. In everyday usage, metaphrase means literalism; however, metaphrase is also the translation of poetry into prose. Unlike "paraphrase," which has an ordinary use in literature theory, the term "metaphrase" is only used in translation theory.Metaphrase is one of the three ways of transferring, along with paraphrase and imitation, according to John Dryden. Dryden considers paraphrase preferable to metaphrase (as literal translation) and imitation.

The term "metaphrase" is first used by Philo Judaeus (20 BCE) in De vita Mosis. Quintilian draws a distinction between metaphrase and paraphrase in the pedagogical practice of imitation and reworking classical texts; he points out that metaphrase changes a word, and paraphrase, a phrase: a distinction that is also followed by Renaissance scholars.

Paeon (prosody)

In prosody a paeon (or paean) is a metrical foot used in both poetry and prose. It consists of four syllables, with one of the syllables being long and the other three short. Paeons were often used in the traditional Greek hymn to Apollo called paeans. Its use in English poetry is rare. Depending on the position of the long syllable, the four peaons are called a first, second, third, or fourth peaon.The cretic or amphimacer metrical foot, with three syllables, the first and last of which are long and the second short, is sometimes also called a paeon diagyios.

Simonides of Ceos

Simonides of Ceos (; Greek: Σιμωνίδης ὁ Κεῖος; c. 556 – 468 BC) was a Greek lyric poet, born at Ioulis on Ceos. The scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria included him in the canonical list of the nine lyric poets esteemed by them as worthy of critical study. Included on this list was Bacchylides, his nephew, and Pindar, reputedly a bitter rival, both of whom benefited from his innovative approach to lyric poetry. However, Simonides was more involved than either in the major events and with the personalities of their times.His general renown owes much to traditional accounts of his colourful life, as one of the wisest of men; as a greedy miser; as an inventor of a system of mnemonics; and also the inventor of some letters of the Greek alphabet (ω, η, ξ, ψ). Such accounts include fanciful elements, yet he had a real influence on the sophistic enlightenment of the classical era. His fame as a poet rests largely on his ability to present basic human situations with affecting simplicity. In the words of the Roman rhetorician Quintilian (55–100 AD):

Simonides has a simple style, but he can be commended for the aptness of his language and for a certain charm; his chief merit, however, lies in the power to excite pity, so much so that some prefer him in this respect to all other writers of the genre.

He is popularly associated with epitaphs commemorating fallen warriors, as for example the Lacedaemonians at The Battle of Thermopylae:

Today only glimpses of his poetry remain, either in the form of papyrus fragments or quotations by ancient literary figures, yet new fragments continue to be unearthed by archaeologists at Oxyrhynchus, a city and archaeological site in Egypt that has yielded papyrus fragments over a century of excavations. He is included in narratives as diverse as Mary Renault's modern historical novel The Praise Singer (where he is the narrator and main character), Plato's Protagoras (where he is a topic of conversation), and some verses in Callimachus' Aetia (where he is portrayed as a ghost complaining about the desecration of his own tomb in Acragas).

The Slave-Girl from Jerusalem

The Slave-Girl from Jerusalem is a children's historical novel by Caroline Lawrence. The novel, the thirteenth in The Roman Mysteries series, was published in 2007. It is set in December AD 80 in and around Ostia, and deals with death, slavery and the Roman legal system.

Theon of Samos

Theon of Samos (Ancient Greek: Θέων ὁ Σάμιος) was an ancient Greek painter during the era of Alexander the Great, is mentioned by Quintilian as a good artist of the second rank. If we may trust the somewhat flimsy stories told about him, his forte consisted in a lifelike, or perhaps, as Brunn (Kunstlergeschichte, ii.253) puts it, a theatrical representation of action. His figures were said to start out of the picture. He chose such congenial subjects as the madness of Orestes, and a soldier rushing to battle. Another painter, Theorus, is mentioned, whom Brunn regards as identical with Theon.

Major cities
Lists and other

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.