Philosopher King: Not as Great as it Sounds

Historia Augusta, Hadrian (§15)

“Although he was always ready for delivering a speech or composing a poem, and extremely well-versed in every subject, yet he often mocked, scorned, and degraded the professors of all of those subjects. Moreover, he often competed with these professors and philosophers by publishing his own books and poems. The philosopher Favorinus was once reproached by Hadrian for using a certain word, and yielded to the emperor on that point; when his friends argued that he had been wrong to yield to Hadrian on the use of a word which good authors often employed, Favorinus excited some laughter by replying, ‘Friends, you’re giving me bad advice if you won’t allow me to think that the man who has thirty legions is the most learned man of all.'”

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Et quamvis esset oratione et versu promtissimus et in omnibus artibus peritissimus, tamen professores omnium artium semper ut doctior risit, contempsit, obtrivit. Cum his ipsis professoribus et philosophis libris vel carminibus invicem editis saepe certavit. Et Favorinus quidem, cum verbum eius quondam ab Hadriano reprehensum esset atque ille cessisset, arguentibus amicis, quod male cederet, Hadriano de verbo, quod idonei auctores usurpassent, risum iocundissimum movit; ait enim: “non recte suadetis, familiares, qui non patiminime illum doctiorem omnibus credere, qui habet triginta legiones.”

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