The Forgetful, Hateful L.O.P.

Suetonius, Lives of the Grammarians 9

“Lucius Orbilius Pupillus from Beneventum, made an orphan because of the death of his parents who were both murdered on the same day by the deceit of their enemies, first worked as an attendant for magistrates. After that, he served as an assistant in Macedonia and later he was in the cavalry. After he was done with the military, he returned to his studies which he had not touched much since he was a boy. Once he taught for a while in his own country, he went to Rome when he was fifty in the Consulship of Caesar where he taught to greater fame than profit. In some book he admits that he was poor and lived under tiles when he was really old.

He also wrote a book, entitled On Unreasoning which is full of complaints about insults which professors receive either because of the negligence or arrogance of parents. He was, moreover, of a bitter nature not only in respect to his fellow scholars, whom he attacked at every chance, but also towards his students, which is what Horace means when he calls him “the abuser” and Domitius Martius writes about: “The people Orbilius murdered with a stick or a leather whip.”

He did not avoid laying in to men of the highest classes: when he was still unknown and he was speaking to a full courtroom and was asked by the opposing lawyer, Varro, what he did and what his career was, he said that he moves hunchbacks from the son into the shade. This is because Murena was a hunchback,

Orbilius lived to almost one hundred years and his memory failed almost completely, as Bibaculus’ line instructs: “Where is Orbilius now, that vacuum of learning.” His statue is on display at Beneventum, on the left side of the Capitol building in a seated position and holding a Greek cloak with two boxes of books next to him. He left a son named Orbilius, another grammar teacher himself.”

  1. L Orbilius Pupillus Beneventanus, morte parentum, una atque eadem die inimicorum dolo interemptorum, destitutus, primo apparituram magistratibus fecit; deinde in Macedonia corniculo, mox equo meruit; functusque militia, studia repetit, quae iam inde a puero non leviter attigerat; ac professus diu in patria, quinquagesimo demum anno Romam consule Cicerone transiit docuitque maiore fama quam emolumento. Namque iam persenex pauperem se et habitare sub tegulis quodam scripto fatetur. Librum etiam, cui est titulus Περὶ ἀλογίας, edidit continentem querelas de iniuriis, quas professores neglegentia aut ambitione parentum acciperent. Fuit autem naturae acerbae, non modo in antisophistas, quos omni occasione laceravit, sed etiam in discipulos, ut et Horatius significat “plagosum” eum appellans, et Domitius Marsus scribens:

Si quos Orbilius ferula scuticaque cecidit.

Ac ne principum quidem virorum insectatione abstinuit; siquidem ignotus adhuc cum iudicio frequenti testimonium diceret, interrogatus a Varrone diversae partis advocato, quidnam ageret et quo artificio uteretur, gibberosos se de sole in umbram transferre respondit; quod Murena gibber erat. Vixit prope ad centesimum aetatis annum, amissa iam pridem memoria, ut versus Bibaculi docet:

Orbilius ubinam est, litterarum oblivio?

Statua eius Beneventi ostenditur in Capitolio ad sinistrum latus marmorea habitu sedentis ac palliati, appositis duobus scriniis. Reliquit filium Orbilium, et ipsum grammaticum professorem.

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From Wikipedia