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Tiro, M. Tu'llius

the freedman and pupil of Cicero, to whom he was an object of the most devoted friendship and tender affection, appears to have been a man of very amiable disposition, and highly cultivated intellect.



Tiro was not only the amanuensis of the orator, and his assistant in literary labour, but was himself an author of no mean reputation, and notices of several works from his pen have been preserved by ancient writers. Thus we are told by A. Gellius (13.9, comp. 12.3) that he composed several books De Usu atque Ratione Linguae Latinae, and also De variis atque promiscuis Quaestionibus. It is added that on the most important of these he bestowed the Greek designation πανδεκταὶ "tamquam omne rerum atque doctrinarum genus continentes," an interpretation of the title altogether rejected by Lersch, who believes the piece in question to have been a grammatical treatise on the adverb, which was termed πανδέκτης by the stoies (see Charis. p. 175, ed. Putsch.), and supports this view by a quotation from Charisius (p. 186) : " Novissime Tiro in Pandecte non recte ait dici adiicitque quod suâ coeperit aetate id adverbium." On the other hand, the passage extracted by Gellius relates entirely to the etymology of the word Suculae. Asconius Pedianus (in Milon. § 38) refers to the fourth book of a life of Cicero by Tiro, and he was perhaps the compiler of a collection of his jests mentioned by both Quintilian (6.3.2), and Macrobius (2.1).

Editor of Cicero

But we owe him a debt of gratitude which never can be adequately acknowledged if it be true, as many believe, that he was the chief agent in bringing together and arranging the works of his illustrious patron, and in preserving his correspondence from being dispersed and lost. (See Cic. Fam. 16.17, ad Att. 16.5.)

After the death of Cicero, Tiro purchased a farm in the neighbourhood of Puteoli, to which he retired and lived, according to Hieronymus, until he reached his hundredth year.

Inventor of a shorthand

It is well known that the Romans under the empire were acquainted with a species of shorthand writing so as to be able to take down fully and correctly the words of public speakers, however rapid their enunciation (Martial. Ep. 14.202 ; Manil. Astron. 4.197; Senec. Epist. 90). From a notice in the Eusebian chronicle, taken in combination with some observations in the Origines of Isidorus (1.21), it has been inferred that Tiro was the inventor of the art, and although the expressions employed certainly do not warrant such a conclusion, yet abbreviations of this description, which are by no means uncommon in MSS. from the sixth century downwards, have very generally been designated by the learned as Notae Tironianae. The whole subject is very fully discussed in the Palaeographia Critica of Kopp, Pars Prima, 4to. Manh. 1817, p. 18, foll.

Further Information

See Cic. Att. 4.6, 6.7, 7.2, 3, 5, 13.7, ad Fam. lib. xvi., the whole contents of this book being addressed to Tiro; Plut. Cic. 41, 49 ; Lersch, die Sprachphilosophie der Alten, 2te Theil, p. 46; Engelbronner, Disputatio hist. crit. de M. Tullio Tirone, 8vo. Amst. 1804; Lion, Tironiana, in Seebode's Archiv. für Philologie, 1824 ; Drumann, Geschichte Roms, vol. vi. p. 409.


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