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3. Q. Haterius, a senator and rhetorician in the age of Augustus and Tiberius, and, in what year is unknown, a supplementary consul. (Tac. Ann. 2.33.) In the contest of mutual distrust and dissimulation between the senate and Tiberius on his accession, A. D. 14 (Tac. Ann. 1.11-13), Haterius unguardedly asked the cautious emperor, " how long he meant to suffer the commonwealth to be without a head ? "--an offensive question, since it obliged Tilerius to declare his intentions, and he gravely rebuked its author. (Suet. Tib. 29.) When the senate broke up, Haterius repaired to the palace to implore pardon. He found the emperor walking, attended by a guard. Either to escape his importunity (Suet. Tib. 27), or in anger at his presumption (Tac. ib. 13), Tiberius turned away from Haterius, who, in the energy of supplication, had cast himself at his feet. Accidentally, or in struggling to be rid of the suppliant, Tiberius himself fell to the ground, and Haterius narrowly avoided being slain by the guard. The intercession of the empress-mother, Livia, at length rescued Haterius from peril. We find hint afterwards, in A. D. 16, advocating a sumptuary law, to restrain the use of gold-plate and silk garments (Tac. ib. 2.33), and in 22 moving that a decree of the senate, which conferred the Tribunicia Potestas on Drusus, the emperor's son, be inscribed in letters of gold, and affixed to the walls of the curia (Tac. ib. 3.57)--a useless piece of adulation, since the decree was little more than matter of course. If the systematic legacy-hunter mentioned by Seneca (de Ben. 6.38) were the same Q. Haterius, it accords well with his servility as a senator.

The reputation of Haterius was, however, higher in the rhetorical schools than in the senate. His character as a declaimer is sketched by Seneca the rhetorician, who had heard him (Excerpt. Controv. Proem. iv. p. 422, Bipont. ed.), and by Seneca the philosopher (Ep. 40). Their accounts are confirmed by Tacitus (Anns. 4.61), and may be thus compressed. His voice was sonorous, his lungs unwearied, his invention fertile, and his sophistical ingenuity, though it sometimes betrayed him into ludicrous blunders, was extraordinary. There was much to applaud, more to excuse or condemn, in his declamation. Augustus said that his eloquence needed a drag-chain--" Haterius noster sufflaminandus est "--it not only ran, but it ran down-hill. He had so little control over his volubility, that he employed a freedman to punctuate his discourse while speaking, and the partitions and transitions of his theme were regulated by this monitor. Seneca, the philosopher (l.c.), censures him severely. He began impetuously, he ceased abruptly. His manner was abhorrent from common sense, good taste, and Roman usage. The evolutions of Cicero were slow and decorous; but the rapid verbiage of Haterius was suitable only to the hacknied demagogue, and excitable crowd of a Greek agora. The elder Seneca frequently cites the declamations of Haterius (Suas. 2, 3, 6, 7, Controv. 6, 16, 17, 23, 27, 28, 29), but Tacitus says that his works were in his age nearly obsolete. (Ann. 4.61.) The best specimens of the rhetoric of Haterius are,--Sen. Suas. 6, 7, and Controv. 6, Excerpt. ex Controv. i.; in the latter, Seneca praises the pathos of the declaimer. Haterius died at the end of A. D. 26, in the eighty-ninth year of his age. (Tac. Ann. 4.61; Euseb. Chron. n. 2040, p. 157 ; Hieron. Ep. ad Pammach. adv. error. Joan. Hierosol.) His sons appear to have died before him. (Sen. Excerpt. Controv. Proem. Bip. ed. p. 422.) It is worth noting, that Haterius is accused by Seneca (l.c.) of archaisms, but those archaisms were words or phrases from Cicero--so brief was the meridian of Latin prose.

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  • Cross-references from this page (6):
    • Suetonius, Tiberius, 27
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.11
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.13
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.33
    • Tacitus, Annales, 4.61
    • Suetonius, Tiberius, 29
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