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Latro, M. Po'rcius

a celebrated Roman rhetorician in the reign of Augustus, was a Spaniard by birth, and a friend and contemporary of the elder Seneca, with whom he studied under Marillius, and by whom he is frequently mentioned. He flourished about the year B. C. 17, in which year he declaimed before Augustus and M. Agrippa. (Senec. Controv. 2.12. p. 177, ed. Bipont. Comp. Clinton, F. H. ad ann.) His school was one of the most frequented at Rome, and he numbered among his pupils the poet Ovid. He possessed an astonishing memory, and displayed the greatest energy and vehemence, not only in declamation, but also in his studies and other pursuits. In his school he was accustomed to declaim himself, and seldom set his pupils to declaim, whence they received the name of auditores, which word came gradually into use as synonymous with discipuli. But great as was the reputation of Latro, he did not escape severe criticism on the part of his contemporaries: his language was censured by Messalla, and the arrangement of his orations by other rhetoricians. Though eminent as a rhetorician, he did not excel as a practical orator; and it is related of him that, when he had on one occasion in Spain to plead in the forum the cause of a relation, he felt so embarrassed by the novelty of speaking in the open air, that he could not proceed till he had induced the judges to remove from the forum into the basilica. Latro died in B. C. 4, as we learn from the Chronicle of Eusebius. Many modern writers suppose that Latro was the author of the Declamations of Sallust against Cicero, and of Cicero against Sallust. (Senec. Controv. i. Praef. p. 63, &c., 2.10, p. 157, 2.13. p. 175, 4.25, p. 291, iv. Praef. p. 273, ed. Bipont.; comp. Quint. Inst. 10.5.18; Plin. Nat. 20.14. s. 57; Hieronym. in Euseb. Chron. Olymp. 194, 1; Westermann, Gesch. d. Römischen Beredtsamkeit, § 86; Meyer, Oratorum Roman. Fragmenta, p. 539, &c., 2d ed.)

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