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Quintilia'nus, M. Fa'bius

the most celebrated of Roman rhetoricians, was a native of Calagurris (Calahorra), in the upper valley of the Ebro. He was born about A. D. 40, and if not reared at Rome, must at least have completed his education there, for he himself informs us (5.7.7) that, while yet a very young man, He attended the lectures of Domitius Afer, at that time far advanced in life, and that He witnessed the decline of his powers (5.7.7, 10.1. §§ 11, 24, 36, 12.11.3). Now we know from other sources that Domitius Afer died in A. D. 59 (Tac. Ann. 14.19 ; Frontin. de Aquaed. 102). Having revisited Spain, He returned from thence (A. D. 68) in the train of Galba, and forthwith began to practise at the bar (7.2), where he acquired considerable reputation. But he was chiefly distinguished as a teacher of eloquence, bearing away the palm in this department from all his rivals, and associating his name even to a proverb, with pre-eminence in the art. Among his pupils were numbered Pliny the younger (Plin. Ep. 2.14, 6.6) and the two grand-nephews of Domitian. By this prince he was invested with the insignia and title of consul (consularia ornamenta), and is, moreover, celebrated as the first public instructor, who, in virtue of the endowment by Vespasian (Suet. Vesp. 18), received a regular salary from the imperial exchequer. After leaving devoted twenty years, commencing probably with A. D. 69, to the laborious duties of his profession, he retired into private life, and is supposed to have died about A. D. 118.

Martial, himself from the neighbourhood of Calagurris (Ep. 1.62), and fond of commemorating the literary glories of his own land, although he pays a tribute to the fame of Quintilian (11.90),

Quintiliane, vagae moderator summe juventae,
Gloria Romanae, Quintiliane, togae,
nowhere claims him as a countryman, and hence it has been concluded that he was not by birth a Spaniard, but this negative evidence cannot be allowed to outweigh the direct testimony of Ausonius (Prof. 1.7), colnfired by Hieroyiiius (Chron. Euseb. Olymp. ccxi. ccxvii.) and Cassiodorus (Chron. sub Domitian. ann. viii.).

It is frequently affirmed in histories of Roman literature that the father of Quintilian was a pleader, and that his grandfatther was Quintilian thle declaimer spoken of by Seneca, but the passages referred to in proof of these assertions will be found not to warrant any such inferences (9.3.73 ; Senec. Controv. v. praef. and 33).

Doubts have been expressed with regard to the emperor to whom Quintilian was indebted for the honours alluded to above, and it has been confidently maintained that Hadrian, not Domitian, was his patron. In the prooemium to the fourth book of the Institutions the author records with grateful pride that Doimitianus Augustus had committed to his care the grandsons of his sister,--that is, the sons of Flavius Clemens and Domitilla the younger (see Sueton. Dom. 15; Dio Cass. p. 1112, ed. Reimar). Again, Ausonius, in his Gratiarum Actio ad Gratianum, remarks "Quintilianus consularia per Clementem ornamental sortitus honestamenta nominis potius videtur quam insignia potestatis habuisse." It would be false scepticism to doubt that the Clemens here named is the Flavius Clemens to whose children Quintilian acted as preceptor, land if this be admitted, the question seems to be set at rest. To this distinction doubtless the satirist alludes, when he sarcastically declares

"Si Fortuna volet fies de rhetore consul."

The pecuniary circumstances, also, of Quintilian, have afforded a theme for considerable discussion. in consequence of the (apparently) contradictory statements of Juvenal and Pliny. The former, after inveighing against the unsparing profusion of the rich in all luxurious indulgences connected with the pleasures of the table, as contrasted with the paltry remuneration which they offered to the most distinguished teachers of youth, exclaims (7.186),

"Hos inter sumtus sestertia Quintiliano
Ut multum duo sufficient; res nulla minoris
Constabit patri quam filius. Unde igitur tot
Quintilianus habet saltus,"

and then proceeds to ascribe his singular prosperity to the influence of good luck, On the other hand, Pliny, in a letter inscribed "Quintiliano suo" (6.32, comp. 6), makes him a present of 50,000 sesterces, about 400l. sterling, as a contribution towards the outfit of a daughter about to be married, assigning as a reason for his liberality "Te porro, animo beatissimum, modicum facultatibus, scio." Passing over the untenable supposition that Pliny may have been addressing some Quintilian different from the rhetorician, or that the estates indicated above may have been acquired at a later period, we must observe that Juvenal here employs a tone of declamatory exaggeration, and that he speaks with evident, though suppressed bitterness of the good fortune of Quintilian, probably in consequence of the flattery lavished by the latter on the hated Domitian (e. g. prooem. lib. iv.); we must bear in mind also, that although the means of Quintilian may not have been so ample as to render an act of generosity on the part of a rich and powerful pupil in any way unacceptable, still the handsome income which he enjoyed (100,000 sesterces=800l., Suet. Vesp. 18) must have appeared boundless wealth when compared with the indigence of the troops of half-starved grammarians who thronged the metropolis, and whose miseries are so forcibly depicted in the piece where the above lines are found.

The epistle of Pliny has suggested another difficulty. Quintilian, in the preface to his sixth book, laments in very touching language the death of his only son, whose improvement had been one of his chief inducements to undertake the work. He is thus led on to enter into details regarding his family bereavements: first of all he lost his wife, at the age of nineteen, who left behind her two boys; the younger died when five years old, the elder at ten; but there is no allusion to a daughter, and indeed his words clearly imply that two children only had been born to him, both of whom he had lost. Hence we are driven to the supposition that he must have married a second time, that the lady was the daughter of a certain Tutilius (Plin. l.c.), and that the offspring of this union was the girl whose approaching marriage with Nonius Celer called forth the gift of Pliny. It will be seen too that Quintilian, at the lowest computation, must have been nearly fifty when he was left childless, consequently he must have been so far advanced in life when his daughter became marriageable, that it is impossible to believe that he amassed a fortune subsequent to that event.


The great work of Quintilian is a complete system of rhetoric in twelve books, entitled De Institutione Oratoria Libri XII., or sometimes, Institutiones Oratoriae, dedicated to his friend Marcellus Victorius, himself a celebrated orator, and a favourite at court. (Stat. Silv. 4.4.) It was written during the reign of Domitian, while the author was discharging his duties as preceptor to the sons of the emperor's niece (Prooem. lib. In a short preface to his bookseller Trypho, he acquaints us that he commenced this undertaking after he had retired from his labours as a public instructor (probably in A. D. 89), and that he finished his task in little more than two years. This period appears, at first sight, short for the completion of a performance so comprehensive and so elaborate, but we may reasonably believe that his professional career had rendered him so familiar with the subject, and that in his capacity as a lecturer he must have so frequently enlarged upon all its different branches, that little would be necessary except to digest and arrange the materials already accumulated. Indeed, it appears that two books upon rhetoric had been already published under his name, but without his sanction; being, in fact, notes taken down by some of his pupils, of conversations which he had held with them.

In an introductory chapter addressed to Marcellus, he briefly indicates the plan which he had followed, and the distribution of the different parts. The first book contains a dissertation on the preliminary training requisite before a youth can enter directly upon the studies necessary to mould an accomplished orator (ea quae sunt ante officium rhetoris), and presents us with a carefully sketched outline of the method to be pursued in educating children, from the time they leave the cradle until they pass from the hands of the grammarian. In the second book we find an exposition of the first principles of rhetoric, together with an investigation into the nature or essence of the art (prima apud rhelorem elementa et quae de ipsa rhetoricee substanlia quaeruntur). The live following are devoted to invention and arrangemtent (inventio. disposition); the eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh to composition (including the proper use of the figures of speech) and delivery, comprised under the general term elocutio, and the last is occupied with what the author considers by far the most important portion of his project (partem operis destinuati longe gravissimam), an inquiry, namely, into various circumstances not included in a course of scholastic discipline, but essential to the formation of a perfect public speaker; such as his manners--his moral character, -- the principles by which he must be guided in undertaking, in preparing, and in conducting causes, -- the peculiar style of eloquence which he may adopt with greatest advantage -- the collateral studies to be pursued -- the age at which it is most suitable to commence pleading -- the necessity of retiring before the powers begin to fail--and various other kindred topics.

This production bears throughout the impress of a clear, sound judgment, keen discrimination, and pure taste, improved by extensive reading, deep reflection, and long practice. The diction is highly polished, and very graceful. The fastidious critic may, indeed, detect here and there an obscure, affected phrase, or a word employed in a sense not authorised by the purest models of Latinity, but these blemishes, although significant of the age to which the treatise belongs, are by no means so numerous or so glaring as seriously to injure its general beauty. In copiousness, perspicuity, and technical accuracy, it is unquestionably superior to the essay on the same subject ascribed to Cicero, although each possesses its peculiar merits, which are fully expounded in the laborious comparison instituted by Campanus. The sections which possess the greatest interest for general readers are those chapters in the first book which relate to elementary education, and the commencement of the tenth book, which furnishes us with a compressed but spirited history of Greek and Roman literature in which the merits and defects of the great masters, in so far as they bear upon the object in view, are seized upon, and exhibited with great precision, force and truth.


One hundred and sixty-four declamations are extant under the name of Quintilian, nineteen of considerable length; the remaining one hundred and forty-five, which form the concluding portion only of a collection which originally extended to three hundred and eighty-eight pieces, are mere skeletons or fragments. No one believes these to be the genuine productions of Quintilian, although some of them were unquestionably received as such by Lactantius and Jerome, and few suppose that they proceeded from any one individual. They apparently belong not only to different persons, but to different periods, and neither in style nor in substance do they offer any thing which is either attractive or useful. The conjecture, founded on a sentence in Trebellius Pollio (Trig. Tyran. iv.), that they ought to be ascribed to the younger Postumus, does not admit of proof or refutation.

At the end of the eighth book of the Institutions, we read "Sed de hoc satis, quia eundem locum plenius in eo libro quo causes corruptae eloquentiae reddebamus, tractavimus." These words have very naturally led some scholars to conclude that the well-known anonymous Dialogus de Oratoribus, written in the sixth year of Vespasian (see 100.17), and which often, although upon no good authority, bears the second title Sive de Causis Corruptae Eloquentiae, ought to be assigned to Quintilian. This hypothesis, for many reasons, cannot be maintained, but the authorship of the tract may with greater propriety be discussed under Tacitus, among whose works it is now generally printed.


The first MS. of Quintilian was discovered in the monastery of St. Gall by Poggio the Florentine, when he was attending the council of Constance, and is probably the same with the Codex Laurentianus, now preserved at Florence.


The Editio Princeps of the Institutions was printed at Rome by Phil. de Lignamine, fol. 1470, with a letter prefixed from J. A. Campanus to Cardinal F. Piccolomini, and a second edition was printed at the same place in the same year, by Sweynheim and Pannartz, with an address from Andrew Bishop of Aleria to Pope Paul the Second. These were followed by the edition of Jenson, fol. Venet. 1471, and at least eight more appeared before the end of the fifteenth century. The nineteen larger Declamations and The Institutions were first published together at Treviso, fol. 1482.

One hundred and thirty-six of the shorter declamations were first published at Parma by Tadeus Ugoletus in 1494, were reprinted at Paris in 1509, and again at the same place with the notes and emendations of Petrus Aerodius in 1563. The remaining nine were added from an ancient MS. by Petrus Pithoeus (Paris, 8vo. 1580), who appended to them fifty-one pieces of a similar description bearing the title Ex Calpurnio Flacco Excerptae X. Rhetorum Minorum.

The most important editions of Quintilian are, that of Burmann, 2 vols. 4to., Lug. Bat. 1720; that of Gesner, 4to. Gott. 1738; and best of all, that begun by Spalding and finished by Zumpt, 6 vols. 8vo. Lips. 1798-1829. The first of the above contains both the Institutions and the whole of the Declamations, the two others the Institutions only.



The Institutions have been translated into English by Guthrie, 2 vols. 8vo. London, 1756, 1805, and by Patsall, 2 vols. 8vo. Lond. 1774; into French by M. de Pure, 2 vols. 4to. Paris, 1663; by the Abbé Gedoyn, 4to. Paris, 1718, 12mo. 1752, 1770, 1810, 1812, 1820; and by C. V. Ouizille, 8vo. Paris, 1829; into Italian by Orazio Toscanella, 4to. Venez. 1568, 1584; and by Garilli, Vercelli, 1780; into German by H. P. C. Henke, 3 vols. 8vo. Helmstaedt, 1775-1777; republished with corrections and additions, by J. Billerbeck, 3 vols. 8vo. Helmstaedt, 1825.

Declamationes Maiores and Declamationes Minores

The Declamations have been translated into English by Warr, 8vo. Lond. 1686 (published anonymously); into French by Du Teil, 4to. Paris, 1658 (the larger declamations only); into Italian by Orazio Toscanella, 4to. Venez. 1586; and into German by J. H. Steffens, 8vo. Zelle, 1767 (a selection only).


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