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91 A. D. by Domitian for declaiming against the tyrants,14 is now justly abandoned. This identification is improbable on many grounds. In the first place, it involves an impossible date for the composition of the Dialogue. Then again, the term oopcorns is in no sense applicable to Maternus, the poet and pleader, not to mention that it is intrinsically improbable that a man of such idealistic aspirations should sixteen years later have degenerated into a mere school-rhetorician. Finally, the name itself is exceedingly frequent. A Curiatius Maternus is met with twice in inscriptions,135 while Maternus (or Materna), apart from the Spanish jurist so highly complimented by his fellow-townsman, Martial,186 and the two well-known Firmici Materni of the 4th century, occurs about 100 times.187

Maternus is undoubtedly the protagonist of the Dialogue, and may be considered, for the reasons given on p. xxxviii, as in a large measure representing the author's personal convictions. The scene of the debate is laid in his house. He suggests the preliminary discussion; directs the course of the conversation, answering for himself and for Secundus (c. 16 8); he summarises the arguments of the various speakers (c. 24 1 ff. 33 1 ff.); recalls Messalla to the main theme at issue; requests him to continue, at the same time assigning the particular topic which he desires him to treat. It is also Maternus, finally, who closes the entire debate by a speech designed to reconcile the opposing factions. 188

184 Dio Cass. LXVII 12 Μάτερνον δὲ σοφιστὴν ὅτι κατὰ τυράννων εἶπέ τι ἀσκῶν (= declamans) ÁTÉKTELVE. It has even been supposed that the closing words of c. 13 were intended by Tacitus as a vaticinium ex eventu! See p. xxvii note 32. 135 C. I. L. II 3783 III 429.

136 Mart. X 37 iuris et aequarum cultor sanctissime legum | veridico Latium qui regis ore forum | Municipi Materne. See also I 96 II 74.

137 See the indexes to the Latin Corpus. Vol. II (Spain—about 30 Materni and 23 Maternae) III (5 times) V (6— No. 950. 7956 from Gaul) VII (England —4) VIII (Africa—5) XII (Gallia Narbonensis-about 25 Materni in all). As the great preponderance of the name in Vols. II and XII can hardly be accidental, the Maternus of Tacitus must have hailed either from Spain or Gaul, the presumption being very strong in favor of Gaul, because both Aper and Secundus were natives of this province.

138 See p. xxxix, the synopsis on p. 368 and Doederlein, Rhein. Mus. III p. 16: bis endlich der Dichter Maternus, welcher bei allem Talent für das practische Leben doch nur in contemplativer Thätigkeit Ruhe und Frieden sucht und findet, auf den welthistorischen Standtpunkt tritt und den Zwiespalt vermittelnd und versöhnend zeigt, wie der Verfall der Beredsamkeit als ein nothwendiges

M. Aper.


MARCUS APER, known to us only from the Dialogus, is a man of a quite different stamp. Born in some Gallic municipality,189 not particularly favored,140 perhaps neglected by the central government, he seems to have emigrated at an early age to the imperial city. Having acquired a thorough rhetorical training and an allround education, he soon succeeded, in spite of the obstacles thrown in the way of a novus homo from a distant province, in reaching the praetorship. But he too does not seem to have long survived the debate in which he is given so conspicuous a part; at all events, he was dead when Tacitus composed the treatise, as is evident from c. 25 f.142 He is not mentioned either by Quintilian, who pays so glowing a tribute to Secundus, or in Pliny's correspondence, and his name does not appear in our lists of the Roman consuls.

Aper exhibits all the self-satisfied complacency and pride of the successful self-made man, and is naturally an enthusiastic advocate and staunch supporter of the existing political régime, under which he was enabled to rise from obscurity to affluence, influence and fame. His views are thoroughly utilitarian; wealth and power command his respect and admiration, regardless of the moral worth of their possessor. Corriger la fortune' is his motto. A man of a combative and polemical nature, a shrewd lawyer, he does not shrink from casuistry, exaggeration and even misrepresentation, if it suits his purpose.

His oratorical ideal is that of the modern school, as represented

Uebel aus dem unschätzbaren Gut eines festen inneren Friedens fliesse; in demselben Sinne in welchem Tacitus selbst (see p. xli and note 67). . . die Klage über die Gegenwart zu mässigen pflegt. I cannot afford to discuss the aberration of those critics who hold that the attitude of Maternus in the closing part of the Dialogue is irreconcilable with his views in the opening chapters, an opinion which reached an absurd climax in the contention of Strodtbeck that the closing utterances of the poet must be regarded as purely ironical!

139 c. 10 6 ne quid de Gallis nostris loquar.

140 c. 7 3 in civitate (probably 'city') minime favorabili natus.

141 He had also been in Britain, as we learn from c. 17 17, but whether this visit antedates his departure for Rome or whether he went there in some official capacity subsequently, cannot be ascertained. The latter seems to me on the whole the more probable.

142 See p. xxvi. The supposition that he possibly left Rome shortly after 75, never to return, is in my judgment quite incompatible with the attitude of a man whose very being was so intimately bound up in the city of his adoption, and whose appreciation of the rewards of oratorical success, possible only in a large city, was so keen as that of Aper. See c. 6 and 9 ext.

by Cassius Severus and Seneca, and he vehemently protests against the disparagement of contemporary rhetoric at the expense of the ancient type of eloquence, which he regards as no longer suited to the demands made upon modern orators by the altered taste and the higher culture of his time.

In giving a characteristic tone to Aper's diction, the author displays greater skill than in the stylistic individualisation of the other interlocutors. It is typified by redundancy of expression, a fondness for metaphors, often singular and bold, and an occasionally peculiar vocabulary, all of which features are far less conspicuous, if not wholly absent, in the speeches of Maternus, Messalla or Secundus.148 How far Aper's style is a faithful reproduction of the original, can, of course, not be determined. The fact, however, that the man himself, drawn to the life as he seems, has been invested with some touches which were unquestionably copied from Cicero's portrayal of Antonius in the de oratore, suggests the probability that Aper's speeches, with their numerous Ciceronian reminiscences in thought and phraseology, are also from the formal side an artistic production of the author, the really historical elements, if such exist at all, being exceedingly few in number.


JULIUS SECUNDUS is far better known to us, for Quintilian Julius speaks of him in three passages: X 1, 120 Iulio Secundo, si longior Secundus. contigisset aetas clarissimum profecto nomen oratoris apud posteros foret; adiecisset enim atque adiciebat ceteris virtutibus suis quod desiderari potest, id est autem ut esset multo magis pugnax et saepius ad curam rerum ab elocutione respiceret. Ceterum interceptus quoque magnum sibi vindicat locum ea est facundia tanta in explicando quod velit gratia, tam candidum et lene et speciosum dicendi genus, tanta verborum etiam quae adsumpta sunt proprietas, tanta in quibusdam ex periculo petitis significantia 3, 12 aequalem meum atque a me, ut notum est, familiariter amatum, mirae facundiae virum, infinitae tamen curae XII 10, 11 elegantiam Secundi. He was probably a knight, and has very plausibly been identified by O. Hirschfeld with the Zekoûvdos ó þýτwp (i. e. the well-known

143 Some of these features, from a mistaken notion of the purpose for which they are designed, have been severely censured and used as an argument against the Tacitean authorship of the Dialogue, but, as Weinkauff (p. cxxxv) has well observed, emphatic reiteration, while possibly objectionable to a reader, is in itself not ill-suited to a spoken speech which purports to represent an actual improvisation.

orator) ἐπὶ τῶν ἐπιστολῶν γενόμενος τοῦ Οθωνος mentioned by Plut. Otho c. 9.14 That he died at an early age, perhaps about the same time as Aper, is clear from Quintilian and c. 2 5 of the Tacitean treatise.145

The internal agreement between Tacitus and Quintilian, in the high estimate of the oratorical abilities of Secundus, is remarkable and seems to prove that his picture, as drawn by the former, is a tolerably faithful likeness. He is coupled with Aper as among the 'celeberrima ingenia fori'; his cautious disposition and noncombative nature, alluded to by Quintilian, is revealed in the very first words put into his mouth by Tacitus (c. 2 4 ff. nihilne te... fabulae malignorum terrent . . . sublatis si qua pravae interpretationi materiam dederunt, emitteres Catonem . . . securiorem?) and Quintilian's statement regarding his overscrupulous care finds an echo in the phrase in c. 39 9 curam et diligentis stili anxietatem contrariam experimur.146 This characteristic seems to have occasioned the charge that he lacked readiness and fluency of speech,147 a criticism which his devoted pupil does not really refute, when he assures us Secundo purus et pressus et, in quantum satis erat, profluens sermo non defuit.' Combining all these features, one can

144 Cf. Friedlaender S. G. I6 183.

145 88 A. D., the date given by Andresen and Peterson, Quint. X 1, 120 is much too late, for apart from the fact that Secundus would still have been living when the Dialogus was published, we should be involved in another difficulty. For it is not likely that Tacitus came under the instruction of Quintilian before the death of Secundus. Now, Tacitus must have completed his studies before Agricola betrothed his daughter to him (77 A. D.). But if so, what is more natural than to suppose that the young Tacitus, Secundus having died shortly after 75 A. D., became for a short time the pupil of Quintilian, who had lived on terms of the closest intimacy with his departed teacher? Both must have been previously acquainted, and it is pleasant to think, albeit a mere fancy, that Quintilian may have been an occasional participant in the disputationes et arcana semotae dictionis,' which Tacitus so often had the privilege of listening to in the house of Secundus (domi quoque . . . adsectabar). At all events, we may say that the assumption of any later date for the death of Secundus than the one here advocated, would at the same time necessitate the rejection of the all but certain hypothesis that the future historian had come under the direct influence of the great rhetorician.



146 It is no exaggeration to say that this statement is as eminently characteristic of Secundus, as it is absolutely out of place in the mouth of the poet Maternus.

147 c. 2 10 f. quamvis maligne plerique ('very many ') opinarentur nec Secundo promptum esse sermonem.

not help thinking that nature had rather marked him out for a scholar than for the active and less peaceful vocation of an advocate, and hence we are not surprised to learn that he also devoted himself to historical research, and had published an admirable biography of Julius Africanus (c. 14 21 f.).

In the present mutilated condition of the Dialogue, Secundus scarcely figures as an interlocutor at all. But that the author did assign to him a much larger share in the conversation seems to me indisputable. For the conspicuous manner of his introduction, the careful description of the oratorical characteristics of himself and Aper, with whom he is placed upon a perfect footing of equality, finally, the very phrase of the prooemium, 'cum singuli . . . causas adferrent,' no less than the words in c. 16 8 pro duobus promitto: nam et ego et Secundus exsequemur eas partes etc.,148 render the supposition that the author had nevertheless condemned him to silence throughout the debate quite inconceivable. But whether his contribution to the discussion was lost in the large lacuna after c. 35, which has been the opinion of some scholars, or whether we still possess part of it in the speech commonly assigned to Maternus, is quite another and more difficult question, which we shall endeavor to answer at the close of the chapter.

The fourth interlocutor, and the last to appear upon the scene, is VIPSTANUS MESSALLA. 149 He was the only native Roman in the Vipstanus company,150 of illustrious family, and probably a direct descendant of the famous M. Valerius Messalla Corvinus. This is nowhere

148 This unequivocal and positive promise of a speech by Secundus is quite generally set aside as worthless, but Tacitus was under no compulsion to make a purposeless statement, nor does an artist introduce a 'motive' merely for the sake of abandoning it at pleasure. It has also strangely been argued that Secundus' want of oratorical facility may well account for his not appearing as an interlocutor. But this explanation utterly ignores the fact that the author expressly attributes what he regards as an unjust accusation, to the malignity of some critics. If so, he had the more reason for exhibiting Secundus as a fluent speaker instead of virtually confirming the charge by allowing him to remain silent!

149 Cp. Ph. Fabia, Les sources de Tacite, Paris 1893 pp. 231-243.

15) This is made evident not only by c. 28 9 vestra vobis notiora sunt: ego de urbe et his propriis ac vernaculis vitiis loquar, but also by the fact that he alone speaks of maiores nostri (c. 30 6 341 35 3), while Maternus, addressing Messalla, designates the orators of the Roman republic as maiores tuos (c. 27 6).


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