Every Academic’s Dream: A Wealthy Patron Puts You on the Map

Suetonius, Lives of Illustrious Men: Rhetoricians 29

Sextus Clodius, from Sicily, was a teacher of both Latin and Greek oratory. He had bad eyesight and a mean tongue and used to claim that he wore out his eyes in friendship with Marcus Antonius the Triumvir. He also said that Antony’s wife Fulvia, who had one cheek rather swollen, “directs the point of his pen”. For this he was more not less pleasing to Antony!

After Antony became consul, Clodius got a great gift from him, as Cicero objects in his Philippics: “You hire on a school teacher for the sake of his jokes, raised up an orator with you and your drinking-buddies’ jokes, and you have let him say whatever he wants about you, this thoroughly witty man.

Ah, but it is pretty easy to say things against you and yours. Look at how much this orator was paid. Listen to this senators; observe the wound to your nation. You gave to this orator Sextus Clodius two thousand Leontine acres which are untaxable—such a great price to learn nothing!”

V (29). Sextus Clodius, e Sicilia, Latinae simul Graecaeque eloquentiae professor, male oculatus et dicax, par oculorum in amicitia M. Antonii triumviri extrisse se aiebat; eiusdem uxorem Fulviam, cui altera bucca inflatior erat, acumen stili tentare dixit, nec eo minus, immo vel magis ob hoc Antonio gratus. A quo mox consule ingens etiam congiarium accepit, ut ei in “Philippicis” Cicero obicit: “Adhibes18 ioci causa magistrum, suffragio tuo et compotorum tuorum rhetorem, cui concessisti ut in te quae vellet diceret, salsum omnino hominem, sed materia facilis in te1 et in tuos dicta dicere. At quanta merces rhetori est data! Audite, audite, P. C., et cognoscite rei p. vulnera. Duo milia iugerum campi Leontini Sex. Clodio rhetori assignasti et quidem immunia, ut tanta mercede nihil sapere disceres.”

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“I buy my teachers right….”

Freed By Literature, Teaching Children for Free

Suetonius, Lives of Illustrious Men: On Grammarians 13

“Staberius Eros, who was bought with his own money at a public auction and was then freed because of his dedication to literature, taught Brutus and Cassius, among others.

There are those who report that he was so noble that during the Sullan period he accepted the children of proscribed men into his school free and without any additional payment.”

XIII. Staberius Eros, suomet aere emptus de catasta et propter litterarum studium manumissus, docuit inter ceteros Brutum et Cassium. Sunt qui tradant tanta eum honestate praeditum, ut temporibus Sullanis proscriptorum liberos gratis et sine mercede ulla in disciplinam receperit.


  1.  He taught the republican assassins.
  2. He taught children of political assassinations for free.
  3. Staberius Eros sounds like a good man.
A Roman teacher home-schooling, about 200 AD
Image found here

Philosophers Need Life-Coaches (Cornelius Nepos to Cicero)

Cicero, Letter Fragments. Nepos to Cicero IIa

Nepos Cornelius also writes to the same Cicero thus: it is so far away from me thinking that philosophy is a teacher of life and the guardian of a happy life, that I do not believe that anyone needs teachers of living more than the many men who are dedicated to philosophical debate. I certainly see that a great number of those who rush into speeches about restraint and discipline in the classroom live amidst the desire for every kind of vice.”

Nepos quoque Cornelius ad eundem Ciceronem ita scribit: tantum abest ut ego magistram putem esse vitae philosophiam beataeque vitae perfectricem ut nullis magis existimem opus esse magistros vivendi quam plerisque qui in ea disputanda versantur. video enim magnam partem eorum qui in schola de pudore <et> continentia praecipiant argutissime eosdem in omnium libidinum cupiditatibus vivere. (Lactant. Div. inst. 3.5.10)

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The Unremarkable Life of Phoinix the Thessalian Sophist


From Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists 22


“Phoinix the Thessalian is neither worthy of admiration nor, however, of being ignored completely. He was one of the students of Philagros, and he was better at invention than investigation—for although his thought was ordered, and he never said anything inappropriate to the moment, his style of speech seemed disconnected and out of rhythm. He was considered more effective with those who were just beginning their studies than those who were already possessed of some learning, since his subjects were just left unadorned and his diction did not dress them well. He died in Athens at age seventy and was buried in a conspicuous place, since he lies near those who died in the wars, on the right side of the road toward the Academy.”

κβ′. Φοῖνιξ δὲ ὁ Θετταλὸς οὐδὲ θαυμάσαι ἄξιος, οὐδὲ αὖ διαβαλεῖν πάντα. ἦν μὲν γὰρ τῶν Φιλάγρῳ πεφοιτηκότων, γνῶναι δὲ ἀμείνων ἢ ἑρμηνεῦσαι, τάξιν τε γὰρ τὸ νοηθὲν εἶχε καὶ οὐθὲν ἔξω καιροῦ ἐνοεῖτο, ἡ δὲ ἑρμηνεία διεσπάσθαι τε ἐδόκει καὶ ῥυθμοῦ ἀφεστηκέναι. ἐδόκει δὲ ἐπιτηδειότερος γεγονέναι τοῖς ἀρχομένοις τῶν νέων ἢ τοῖς ἕξιν τινὰ ἤδη κεκτημένοις, τὰ γὰρ πράγματα γυμνὰ ἐξέκειτο καὶ οὐ περιήμπισχεν αὐτὰ ἡ λέξις. ἑβδομηκοντούτης δὲ ἀποθανὼν ᾿Αθήνησιν ἐτάφη οὐκ ἀφανῶς, κεῖται γὰρ πρὸς τοῖς ἐκ τῶν πολέμων ἐν δεξιᾷ τῆς ᾿Ακαδημίανδε καθόδου.

Historia Augusta: Hadrian, XVI: Hurt Feelings and a Great Retirement Plan

“Although he was quick to rebuke musicians, tragedians, comedians, grammarians, rhetoricians, and orators, he still honored all the professors and made them rich—and he continued to annoy them with questions. And, while he was to blame for the fact that many left him in sorrow, he used to say that he could scarcely bear watching someone get their feelings hurt. He was especially close to the philosophers Epictetus and Heliodorus and all sorts of grammarians, rhetoricians, musicians, geometricians, painters, and astrologers, though I would not name them all—and many claim that Favorinus stood out from the rest. The teachers who seemed unfit for their own profession, Hadrian dismissed from their work with money and honors.”

8 Sed quamvis esset in reprehendendis musicis, tragicis, comicis, grammaticis, rhetoribus, oratoribus facilis, tamen omnes professores et honoravit et divites fecit, licet eos quaestionibus semper agitaverit. 9 Et cum ipse auctor esset, ut multi ab eo tristes recederent, dicebat se graviter ferre, si quem tristem videret. 10 In summa familiaritate Epictetum et Heliodorum philosophos et, ne nominatim de omnibus dicam, grammaticos, rhetores, musicos, geometras, pictores, astrologos habuit, prae ceteris, ut multi adserunt, eminente Favorino. 11 Doctores, qui professioni suae inhabiles videbantur, dilatos honoratosque a professione dimisit.

The Historia Augusta are a collection of biographies of Roman Emperors starting with Hadrian (117-138 CE)