|Author||W. Hamilton Fyfe|
|Publication Date||July 2, 2012|
Tacitus was born in the early years of Nero sprincipate. Though not of the highest social rank, he belonged to a section of the rich commercial classes which was by sympathy and associations aristocratic. He was therefore educated in rhetoric for a political career. Of this education we get some glimpses in the Dialogue on Famous Orators. Although the dialogue was not composed and published until the principate of Titus, its scene is laid in the later years of Vespasian srule, and gives an idea of the literary discussions to which Tacitus listened in the course of his education at the age of nineteen or twenty. He represents himself as a silent auditor of the discussion in which four men of considerable literary distinction take part. Curiatius Maternus, the host, is both a barrister and a dramatic poet. Having gained some fame as the author of several tragedies advocating republican views, he is intending to retire from the bar and devote himself entirely to the practice of poetry. The respective merits of poetry and oratory are discussed by him and Marcus A per, a self-made man from Gaul, who had risen to high office by his ability as a speaker. He takes a bluff utilitarian view which forms a strong contrast to the more mystical idealism of Maternus. It is probable that Maternus, like A per, was of Gallic birth, and a third Gaul listens silently to the exposition of their views.
(Typographical errors above are due to OCR software and don't occur in the book.)
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