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

 

Memorable Teacher, Remarkable Vice

Suetonius, On Grammarians 23

“Quintus Remmius Palaemon from Vicetia, a house-born slave, first learned weaving, people say, and then learned his letters when he followed his master’s son to school. After he was freed, he taught in Rome and held first place among the grammarians even though he was infamous for every kind of vice and even though Tiberius and soon Claudius were declaring that there was no one who should be less trusted for the education of boys. But he was capturing people with his skill of memory and then his ease of speech. He improvised not a few poems on the spot. He wrote, as well, in various meters, some of them rare.

He was so arrogant that he called Marcus Varro a porker; he declared that letters were born and would die with him; and that his own name appeared in the Bucolics not coincidentally but because Vergil was predicting that some day a Palaemon would be a judge of all poets and poems. He even used to boast that pirates once spared him thanks to his name’s celebrity.

He indulged in luxury so much that he bathed often during the day and could not live on his wealth even though he took four hundred thousand sesterces a year from the school and not much less from his household, where he opened shops with pre-made clothing and fostered his fields so seriously that it is believed that the vine he grafted by his own hand produced grapes for 365 days straight.

But he was especially guilty for libidinous acts against women, up to the edge of infamy. They say that a certain man was known for an apt saying who, when he was not able to avoid his questing kiss even as he tried in the midst of a crowd, said, “Teacher, do you want to slurp up anyone you see moving in a hurry?”*

XXIII. Q. Remmius Palaemon, Vicetinus, mulieris verna, primo, ut ferunt, textrinum, deinde herilem filium dum comitatur in scholam, litteras didicit. Postea manumissus docuit Romae ac principem locum inter grammaticos tenuit, quanquam infamis omnibus vitiis, palamque et Tiberio et mox Claudio praedicantibus, nemini minus institutionem puerorum vel iuvenum committendam. Sed capiebat homines cum memoria rerum, tum facilitate sermonis; nec non etiam poemata faciebat ex tempore. Scripsit vero variis, nec vulgaribus metris. Arrogantia fuit tanta, ut M. Varronem porcum appellaret; secum et natas et morituras litteras iactaret; nomen suum in “Bucolicis” non temere positum, sed praesagante Vergilio, fore quandoque omnium poetarum ac poematum Palaemonem iudicem. Gloriabatur etiam, latrones quondam sibi propter nominis celebritatem pepercisse. Luxuriae ita indulsit, ut saepius in die lavaret, nec sufficeret sumptibus, quanquam ex schola quadringena annua caperet, ac non multo minus ex re familiari; cuius diligentissimus erat, cum et officinas promercalium vestium exerceret, et agros adeo coleret, ut vitem manu eius insitam satis constet CCCLXV dies uvas edidisse. Sed maxime flagrabat libidinibus in mulieres, usque ad infamiam oris; dicto quoque non infaceto notatum ferunt cuiusdam, qui cum in turba osculum sibi ingerentem quanquam refugiens devitare non posset, “Vis tu,” inquit, “magister, quotiens festinantem aliquem vides, abligurire?”

*abligurrio: “to lick away, waste, or spend in luxurious indulgence”. I am not quite sure I got the best sense of this in English.

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