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With the extinction of the Claudian dynasty we enter on a new literary epoch. The reigns of Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian produced a series of writers who all show the same characteristics, though necessarily modified by the tyranny of Domitian's reign as contrasted with the clemency of those of his two predecessors. Under Vespasian and Titus authors might say what they chose; both these princes disdained to curb freedom of speech or to punish it even when it clamoured for martyrdom. Yet such was the reaction from the excitement of the last epoch, that no writer of genius appeared, and only one of the first eminence in learning. There now comes into Roman literature an unmistakable evidence of reduced talent as well as of decayed taste. Hitherto power at least has not been wanting; but for the future all is on a weaker scale. Only the two great names of Juvenal and Tacitus redeem the ninth century of Rome from total want of creative genius. All other writers move in established grooves, and, as a rule, imitate or feebly rival some of the giants of the past. Learning was still cultivated with assiduity if not with enthusiasm; but the grand hopeful spirit, sure of discovering truth, which animates the erudition of a better age, has now given place to a querulous depreciation even of the labour to which the authors have devoted their lives. This is conspicuous from the first in the otherwise noble pages of the elder PLINY, and is the secret of that want of critical insight which, in a mind so capaciously stored, strikes us at first as inexplicable.

This laborious and interesting writer was born at Como [1] in the year 23 A.D. He came, it is not known exactly when, to Rome and studied under the rhetorical grammarian Apion, whom Tiberius in mockery of his sounding periods had called “the drum” (tympanum). Till his forty-sixth year Pliny's genius remained unknown. An allusion in his work to Lollia Paulina has given rise to the opinion that he was admitted to the court of Caligula, but the grounds for this conclusion are manifestly insufficient. His nephew states that he composed his treatise On Doubtful Words [2] to escape the jealousy of Nero, who suspected him of less unambitious pursuits. But the evidence of the younger Pliny serves better to establish facts than motives; he is always anxious to swell the importance of his friends; and it is far more likely from Pliny's own silence that he remained in comparative obscurity until Nero's death. At the age of twenty-two he served his first campaign in Africa, and soon after in Germany under Lucius Pomponius, who gave him a cavalry troop, and seems to have befriended him in various other ways. His promotion was perhaps due to the treatise On Javelin-throwing [3] which be wrote about this time. He showed his gratitude towards Pomponius at a later date by writing his life.

Pliny had always felt a strong interest in science, and determined as soon as opportunity offered to make its advancement the object of his life. With this end in view he made careful observations of all the countries he visited, and used his military position to secure information that otherwise might have been hard to obtain. He inspected the source of the Danube and travelled among the Chauci on the shores of the German Ocean. He visited the mouths of the Eber and Weser, the North Sea and the Cimbrian Chersonese, and spent some time among the Roman provinces west of the Rhine. While in Germany he had a vision in which he saw or thought he saw the shade of Drusus, which appeared to him by night and bade him tell the history of all the German wars. Accordingly, he collected materials with industry, and worked them up into a large volume, which is now unfortunately lost. At twenty-nine he left the army and returned to Rome, where he studied for the bar. But his talents were not suitable for forensic display, and he found a more lucrative field in teaching grammar and rhetoric. At what time he was sent out as procurator to Spain is uncertain, but when he returned he found Vespasian on the throne. Pliny, who had known him in Germany, and had been on intimate terms with his son Titus, was now received with the greatest favour. Every morning before day-break, when the busy Emperor rose to finish his correspondence before the work of the day began, he called Pliny to his side, and the two friends chatted awhile together in the plain, homely fashion that Vespasian much preferred to the measured style of court etiquette. Nor was his favour confined to familiar intercourse. He made him admiral of the fleet stationed at Misenum and charged with guarding the Mediterranean ports. It was while here that news was brought him of the eruption of Vesuvius. He sailed to Resina determined to investigate the phenomenon, and, as his nephew in a well-known letter tells us, paid the price of his scientific curiosity with his life. The letter is so charming, and affords so good an example of Pliny the younger's style, that we may be excused for inserting: it here. [4]

    “He was at Misenum in command of the fleet. On the 24th August (79 
    A.D.), about 1 P.M., my mother pointed out to him a cloud of unusual 
    size and shape. He had then sunned himself, had his cold bath, tasted 
    some food, and was lying down reading. He at once asked for his shoes, 
    and mounted a height from which the best view might be obtained. The 
    cloud was rising from a mountain afterwards ascertained to have been 
    Vesuvius; its form was more like a pine-tree than anything else. It 
    was raised into the air by what seemed its trunk, and then branched 
    out in different directions; the reason probably was that the blast, 
    at first irresistible, but afterwards losing strength or unable to 
    counteract gravity, spent itself by spreading out on either side. The 
    cloud was either bright, or dark and spotty, according as earth or 
    ashes were thrown up. As a man of science he determined to inspect the 
    phenomenon more closely. He ordered a light vessel to be prepared, and 
    offered to take me with him. I replied that I would rather study; as 
    it happened, he himself had set me something to write. He was just 
    starting, when a letter was brought from Rectina imploring aid for 
    Naseus who was in imminent danger; his villa lay below, and no escape 
    was possible except by sea. He now changed his plan, and what he had 
    begun, from scientific enthusiasm he carried out with self-sacrificing 
    courage. He launched some quadriremes, and embarked with the intention 
    of succouring not only Rectina but others who lived on that populous 
    and picturesque coast. Thus he hurried to the spot from which all 
    others were flying, and steered straight for the danger, so absolutely 
    devoid of fear that he dictated an account with full comments of all 
    the movements and changing shapes of the phenomenon, each as it 
    presented itself. Ashes were now falling on the decks, and became 
    hotter and denser as the vessel approached. Scorched and blackened 
    pumice-stones and bits of rock split by fire were mingled with them. 
    The sea suddenly became shallow, and fragments from the mountain 
    filled the coast seeming to bar all further progress. He hesitated 
    whether to return; but on the master strongly advising it, he cried, 
    'Fortune favours the brave: make for Pomponianus's house.' This was at 
    Stabiae, and was cut off from the coast near Vesuvius by an inlet, 
    which had been gradually scooped out by encroachments of the sea. The 
    owner was in sight, intending, should the danger (which was visible, 
    but not immediate) approach so near as to be urgent, to escape by 
    ship. For this purpose he had embarked all his effects and was waiting 
    for a change of wind. My uncle, whom the breeze favoured, soon reached 
    him, and, embracing him with much affection, tried to console his 
    fears. To show his own unconcern he caused himself to be carried to a 
    bath; and having washed, sat down to dinner with cheerfulness or (what 
    is equally creditable to him) with the appearance of it. Meanwhile 
    from many parts of the mountain broad flames burst forth; the blaze 
    shone back from the sky, and a dark night enhanced the lurid glare. To 
    soothe his friend's terror he declared that what they saw was only the 
    deserted villages which the inhabitants in their flight had set on 
    fire. Then he retired to rest, and there can be no doubt that he 
    slept, since the sound of his breathing (which a broad chest made deep 
    and resonant), was clearly heard by those watching at the door. Soon 
    the court which led to the chamber was so choked with cinders and 
    stones that longer delay would have made escape impossible. He was 
    aroused from sleep, and went to Pomponianus and the rest who had sat 
    up all night. They debated whether to stay indoors or to wander about 
    in the open. For on the one hand constant shocks of earthquake made 
    the houses rock to and fro, and loosened their foundations; while on 
    the other, the open air was rendered dangerous by the fall of pumice- 
    stones, though these were light and very porous. On the whole they 
    preferred the open air, but what to the rest had been a weighing of 
    fears had to him been a balancing of reasons. They tied cushions over 
    their heads to guard them from the falling stones. Though it was now 
    day elsewhere it was here darker than the darkest night, though the 
    gloom was broken by torches and other lights. They next walked to the 
    sea to try whether it would admit of vessels being launched, but it 
    was still a waste of raging waters. He then spread a linen cloth, and, 
    reclining on it, asked several times for water, which he drank; soon, 
    however, the flames and that sulphurous vapour which preceded them put 
    his companions to flight and compelled him to arise. He rose by the 
    help of two slaves, but immediately fell down dead. His death no doubt 
    arose from suffocation by the dense vapour, as well as from an 
    obstruction of his stomach, apart which had been always weak and 
    liable to inflammation and other discomforts. When daylight returned, 
    i.e. after three days, his body was found entire, just as it 
    was, covered with the clothes in which he had died; his appearance was 
    that of sleep rather than of death.”

This interesting letter, which was sent to Tacitus for insertion in his history, gives a fine description of the eruption. Another, still more graphic, is given in a later letter of the same book. [5] A third [6] informs us of the extraordinary studiousness and economy of time practised by the philosopher, which enabled him in a life by no means long to combine a very active business career with an amount of reading and writing only second to that of Varro. Pliny's admiration for his uncle's unwearied diligence makes him delight to dwell on these particulars:

    “After the Vulcanalia (the 23d of August) he always began work at dead 
    of night, in winter at 1 A.M., never later than 2 A.M., often at 
    midnight. He was most sparing of sleep; at times it would catch him 
    unawares while studying. After his interview with Vespasian was over, 
    he went to business, then to study for the rest of the day. After a 
    light meal, which like our ancestors he ate by day, he would in 
    summer, if he had any leisure, lie in the sun, while some one read to 
    him and he made notes or extracts. He never read without making 
    extracts; no book, he said, was so bad but that something might be 
    gained from it. After sunning himself he would take a cold bath, then 
    a little food, then a short nap. Then, as if it were a new day, he 
    studied till supper. During this meal a book was read, he all the 
    while making notes. I remember once, when the reader mispronounced a 
    word, that one of our friends compelled him to repeat it. My uncle 
    asked him if he had not understood the word. On his replying, yes, my 
    uncle said sharply, 'Then why did you interrupt him? we have lost more 
    than ten lines;' so frugal was he of his time. He rose from supper 
    before dark in summer, before 7 P.M. in winter; and this habit was law 
    to him. Such was his life in town; but in the country his one and only 
    interruption from study was the bath. I mean the actual bathing; for 
    while he was being rubbed he always either dictated, or listened to 
    reading. On a journey, having nothing else to do, he gave himself 
    wholly to study; at his side was an amanuensis, who in winter wore 
    gloves, that his master's work might not be interrupted by the cold. 
    Even in Rome he always travelled in a sedan. I remember his chiding me 
    for taking a walk, saying, “you might have saved those hours”—for 
    every moment not given to study he thought lost time. By this 
    application he contrived to compose that vast array of volumes which 
    we possess, besides bequeathing to me 160 rolls of selected notes, 
    each roll written on both sides and in the smallest possible hand, 
    which practically doubles their number. To call myself studious with 
    his example before me is absurd; compared with him, I am an idle 

In the earlier part of this letter, Pliny gives a list of his uncle's works. Besides those mentioned in the text, we find a treatise on eloquence called Studiosus, and a continuation of the history of Aufidius Bassus in thirty books, dedicated to the emperor Titus. The Natural History, in thirty-seven books, is the sole monument of Pliny's industry that has descended to us. The fortunes of this portentous work have greatly varied; while in the Middle Ages it was reverenced as a kind of encyclopaedia of all secular knowledge, in our own day, except to antiquarians, it is an unknown book. Many who know Virgil almost by heart have never read through its tiresome and conceited preface. Yet there is an immensity of interesting matter discussed in the work. Independently of its vast learning, for it contains, according to its author's statement, twenty thousand facts, and excerpts or redactions from two thousand books or treatises, its range of subjects is such as to include something attractive to every taste. Strictly speaking, many topics enter which do not belong to natural history at all, e.g., the account of the use made of natural substances in the applied sciences and the useful or fine arts; but as these are decidedly the best-written parts of the work, and full of chatty, pleasant anecdotes, we should be much worse off if they had been omitted. The confused arrangement also, which mars its utility as a compendium of knowledge, may be due in great measure to the indefinite state of science at the time, to the gaps in its affinities which the discovery of so many new sciences has helped to fill up, and the consequent mingling together of branches which are separate and distinct.

It is questionable whether Pliny ever had any originality. If he had, it was stamped out long before he began his book by the weight of his cumbrous erudition. He cannot compare his materials, nor select them, nor analyse them, nor make them explain themselves by lucid arrangement. Nor has his review of human knowledge taught him the great truth that science is progressive, that each age corrects the errors of the past, and prepares the way for the improvements of the next. Seneca, with all his affected contempt for science, learnt the lesson of it better than Pliny. He has in the first place no fixed canon of truth. One thing does not seem to him more probable than another. A statement has only to come forward under the testimony of a respectable ancient, and it is at once put down as a fact. Here, however, we must make a distinction, for fear of invalidating Pliny's authority beyond what is just. It is only in strictly scientific matters that this credulity and lack of penetration is found. Where he deals with historical, biographical, or agricultural questions, he is a competent, and for the most part trustworthy, compiler. His work is a most valuable storehouse for the antiquarian or historian of ancient literature or art, and generally for the current opinions on nearly every topic. Though genuinely devoted to learning, he has still enough of the “old Adam” of rhetoric about him to complain of the dryness of his material, and its unsuitableness for ornamental treatment; but this cannot surprise us, when we remember that even Tacitus with infinitely less reason bewailed the monotony of the events he had taken upon him to record.

What partly accounts for Pliny's uncritical credulity is the unsatisfactory theory of the universe which he adopts, and with commendable candour sets before us at the outset. [7] He is a materialistic pantheist. The world is for him deity, self-created and eternal, incomprehensible by man, moving ceaselessly without reference to him. So far there is nothing unscientific, except the hypothesis of self- creation; but he goes on to imply that the laws of its action, being incomprehensible, need not be regular, at any rate, as we consider regularity. The things which militate against our experience may be the result of other laws, or of chance contingencies of which no account can be given. Hence he never rejects a fact on the ground of its being marvellous. The most ludicrous and inconceivable monstrosities find an easy place in his system. He does not attach any superstitious meaning to them; on the contrary, he ridicules the idea that omens or portents are sent by the gods, but he has no touchstone by which to test the rare but possible results of real experience as distinguished from the figments of the imagination or ordinary travellers' stories. In the zoological part he gives the reins to his love of the marvellous; all kinds of absurdities are narrated with the utmost gravity; and his accounts descended through the mediaeval period as the accredited authority on the subject. In the literature of Prester John will be seen many a reflection from the writings of Pliny; in the fables of the Arabian Nights many more, with characteristic additions equally creditable to human weakness or ingenuity. It is truly lamentable to reflect that while the rational and on the whole truthful descriptions of Aristotle and Theophrastus were extant and accessible, Pliny's nonsense should in preference have gained the ear of mankind.

As a stylist Pliny recalls two very different writers, Seneca and Cato. In those parts where he speaks as a moralist (and they are extremely numerous), he strives to reproduce the point of Seneca; in those where he treats of husbandry, which are perhaps the most naturally written in the work, his stern brevity often recalls the old censor. Like Seneca, he considers physical science as food for edification; continually he deserts his theme to preach a sermon on the folly or ignorance of mankind. And like Cato he is never weary of extolling the wisdom and virtues of the harsh infancy of the Republic, and blaming the degeneracy of its feeble and luxurious descendants who refuse to till the soil, and add acre to acre of their overgrown estates.

Pliny has a strong vein of satire, and its effect is increased by a certain sententious quaintness which gives a racy flavour to many otherwise dull enumerations of facts. But his satire is not of a pleasing type; it is built too much on despair of his kind; his whole view of the universe is querulous, and shows a mind unequal to cope with the knowledge it has acquired.

He was considered the most learned man of his day, and with reason. He at least knew the value of first-hand acquaintance with the original authorities, instead of drawing a superficial culture from manuals and abridgments, or worse still, the empty declamations of the rhetorical schools. And after all it is his age which must bear the blame of his failure rather than himself. For while he was not great enough to rise above his surroundings and investigate, compare, and conclude on a method planned by himself, he was just the man who would have profited to the full by being trained in a sound public system of education, and perhaps, had he lived in the Ciceronian period, would have risen to a much higher place as a permanent contributor to the journal of human knowledge.

Among the younger contemporaries of Pliny, the most celebrated is M. FABIUS QUINTILIANUS (35-95 A.D.), [8] a native of Calagurris in Spain, but educated in Rome, and long established there as a popular and influential public professor of eloquence. He was intrusted by Domitian with the education of his two grand-nephews, an honour to which he owed his subsequent elevation to the consulship. His time had been so fully occupied with lecturing as to allow no leisure for publishing anything until the closing years of his career. This gave him the great advantage of being a ripe writer before he challenged the judgment of the world; and, in truth, Quintilian's knowledge and love of his subject are thorough in the highest degree. His first essay was a treatise on the causes of the decay of eloquence, [9] and the last (which we still possess) a work in twelve books on the complete training of an orator. [10] This celebrated work, to which Quintilian devoted the assiduous labour of two whole years, interrupted only by the lessons given to his royal pupils, represents the maturest treatment of the subject which we possess. The author was modest enough to express a strong unwillingness to write it, either fearing to come forward as an author so late in life, or judging the ground preoccupied already. However, it was produced at last, and no sooner known than it at once assumed the high position that has been accorded to it ever since. The treatment is exhaustive; as much more thorough than the popular treatises of Cicero as it is more attractive than the purely technical one of Cornificius. At the same time it has the defects inseparable from the unreal age in which its author lived. While minutely providing for all the future orator's formal requirements, it omits the material one without which the finished rhetorician is but a tinkling cymbal, how tothink as an orator. No one knew better than Quintilian that this comes from zest in life, not from rules of art. There will be more stimulus given to one who pants for distinction in the delightful pages of Cicero'sBrutus, than in all that Quintilian and such as he ever wrote or ever will write. But this is not the fault of the man; as a formal rhetorician of good principle, sound orthodoxy, and love for his art, Quintilian stands high in the list of classical authors.

He begins his orator's training from the cradle. He rightly ascribes the greatest importance to early impressions, even the very earliest; illustrating his position by the influence of Cornelia who trained her sons to eloquence from childhood, and other similar cases known to Roman history. A good nurse must be selected; an eloquent one would, doubtless, be hard to find. The boy who is destined to greatness has now outgrown the nursery, and the great question arises, Is he to be sent to school? With the Romans as with us this difficulty admitted of two solutions. The lad might be educated at home under tutors, or he might be sent to learn the world at a public school. Those who at the present day shrink from sending their children to school generally profess to base their unwillingness on a fear lest the influence of bad example may corrupt the purity of youth; Quintilian on the very same ground, strongly recommends a parent to send his son to school. By this means, he says, his tender years will be saved from the daily contamination which the scenes of home life afford. A sad commentary on the state of Roman society and the pernicious effects of slave-labour!

After school, the youth is to attend the lectures of a rhetorician. This is of course a matter of great importance, and in the second book the writer handles its various bearings with excellent judgment. Having described the duties of the professor and his pupil, and the various tasks which will be gone through, he proceeds in the next book to discuss the different departments of oratory. In this great subject he follows Aristotle, here, as always, going back to the most established authorities, and adapting them with signal tact to the changed requirements of a later age and a different nation. The points connected with this, the central theme of the treatise, carry us through the five next books. They are the most technical in the work, and not adapted for general reading. The eighth begins the interesting topic of style, which is continued in the ninth, where trope, metaphor, amplification, and other figurae orationis are illustrated at length. Throughout these books there are a large number of quotations, and continual references to the practice of celebrated masters in the art, besides frequent introduction of passages from the poets and historians. But it is in the tenth book that these are concentrated into one focus. To acquire a “firm facility” (exis) of speech it is necessary to have read widely and with discernment. This leads him to enumerate the Greek and Roman authors likely to be most useful to an orator. The criticisms he offers on the salient qualities of almost all the great classics may seem to us trite and common-place. They certainly are not remarkable for brilliancy, but they are just and sober, and have stood the test of ages, and perhaps their apparent dulness results from their having been always familiar words. Their utility to the student of literature is so considerable, that we have thought it worth while to append a translation of them to the present chapter. [11]

The eleventh book chiefly turns on memory, which the Romans cultivated with extreme diligence, and several remarkable instances of which have been noticed in the course of this work. It was to them a much more vital excellence than to us, who have adopted the practice of using rough notes or other assistance to it. Delivery, too, is in the eleventh book fully discussed; and these chapters will be read with interest as showing the extreme and minute care bestowed by the Romans on the smallest details of action as means of producing effect. Generally, their oratory was of a vehement type. Gesture was freely used, and the voice raised to its fullest pitch. Trachalus had such a noisy organ that it drowned the pleaders in the other courts. Even after the decay of freedom the fiery gestures that had been once its language were not discarded; at the same time perfect modulation and symmetry were aimed at, so that even in the most empresse passages decorum was not violated. The systematized rhetorical training at present general in France, and practised by all who aspire to arouse the feeling of an assembly, is probably the nearest, though it may be but a faint, equivalent of the vigorous action of the Roman courts. The twelfth book treats of the moral qualifications necessary for a great speaker. Quintilian insists strongly on these. The good orator must be a good man. The highest talents are nothing if distorted by evil thoughts. We thus see that he took a worthy view of his profession, and would never have degraded it to be the instrument of tyranny or a means of saturating the ears of the idle with seductive and complaisant theories of life, by which a spurious popularity is so cheaply obtained. He was a high-minded man “quantum licuit;” i.e., as far as a debased age allowed of high-mindedness. His domestic life was clouded by sorrow. His first wife died at the early age of nineteen, leaving him two sons, the younger of whom only lived to the age of seven, and the elder (for whose instruction he wrote the book, and whose precocious talent and goodness of disposition he recounts with pardonable pride) only survived his brother about four years. His death was an irremediable blow, which the orator bewails in the preface to his sixth book. The passage is instructive as revealing the taste of the day. The paternal regret clothes itself in such a profusion of antithesis, trope, and hyperbole, that, did we not know from other sources the excellence of his heart, we might fancy he was exercising his talents in the sphere of professional advertisement. Before his endowment as professor, which appears to have brought him about L800 a year, he had occasionally pleaded in the courts; he appears to have written declamations in various styles, but those now current under his name are improperly ascribed to him.

Among his pupils was the younger Pliny, who alludes to him with gratitude in one of his letters; [12] he was well thought of during his life, and is frequently mentioned by Statius, Martial, and Juvenal, both as the cleverest of rhetoricians, and the best and most trusted of teachers; [13] by Juvenal also as a bright instance of good fortune very rare among the brethren of the craft. [14]

The style of Quintilian is modelled on that of Cicero, and is intended to be a return to the usages of the best period. He had a warm love for the writers of the republican age, above all for Cicero, whom he is never tired of praising; and he preached a crusade against the tinsel ornaments of the new school whose viciousness, he thought, consisted chiefly in a corrupt following of Seneca. It was necessary, therefore, to impugn the authority of his brilliant compatriot, and this he appears to have done with such warmth as to give rise to the opinion that he had a personal grudge against him. Some critics have noticed that Quintilian, even when blaming, often falls into the pointed antithetical style of his time. This is true. But it was unavoidable; for no man can detach himself from the mode of speaking common to those with whom he lives. It is sufficient if he be aware of its worse faults, point out their tendency, and strive to avoid them. This undoubtedly Quintilian did.

Among prose writers of less note we may mention LICINIUS MUCIANUS, CLUVIUS RUFUS, who both wrote histories; and VIPSTANUS MESSALA, an orator of the reactionary school, who, like Quintilian, sought to restore a purer taste, and devoted some of his time to historical essays on the events he had witnessed. M. APER and JULIUS SECUNDUS are important as being two of the speakers introduced into Tacitus's dialogue on oratory, the former taking the part of the modern style, the latter mediating between the two extreme views, but inclining towards the modern. All these belonged to the reigns of Vespasian and Titus, and lived into the first years of Domitian.

An important writer for students of ancient applied science is SEX. JULIUS FRONTINUS, whose career extends from about 40 A.D. to the end of the first century. He was praetor urbanus 70 A.D., and was employed in responsible military posts in Gaul and Britain. In the former country he reduced the powerful tribe of the Lingones, in Britain, as successor to Petilius Cerealis, he distinguished himself against the Silures, showing, says Tacitus, qualities as great as it was safe to show at that time. He was thrice consul, once under Domitian, again under Nerva (97 A.D.), and lastly under Trajan (100 A.D.), when he had for colleague the emperor himself. He died 103 A.D. or perhaps in the following year. Pliny the younger knew him well, and has several notices of him in his letters. Throughout his active life he was above all things a man of business: literature and science, though he was a proficient in both, were made strictly subservient to the ends of his profession. His character was cautious but independent, and he is the only contemporary writer we possess who does not flatter Domitian. The work on gromatics, which originally contained two books, has descended to us only in a few short excerpts, which treat de agrorum gualitate, de controversiis, de limitibus, de controversiis aquarum. This was written early in the reign of Domitian. Another work of the same period was a theoretical treatise on tactics, alluded to in the more popular work which we possess, and quoted by Vegetius who followed him. In this he examined Greek theories of warfare as well as Roman, and apparently with discrimination; for Aelian, in his account of the Greek strategical writers, assigns Frontinus a high place. The comprehensive manual called Strategematon (sollertia ducum facta) is intended for general reading among those who are interested in military matters. The books are arranged according to their subjects, but in the distribution of these there is no definite plan followed. Many interpolations have been inserted, especially in the fourth and last book which is a kind of appendix, adding general examples of strategic sayings and doings (strategematica) to the specifically-selected instances of the strategic art which are treated in the first three. Its introduction, as Teuffel remarks, is written in a boastful style quite foreign to Frontinus, and the arrangement of anecdotes under various moral headings reminds us of a rhetorician like Valerius Maximus, rather than of a man of affairs. The entire fourth book appears to be an accretion, perhaps as early as the fourth century. The last treatise by Frontinus which we possess is that De Aquis Urbis Romae, or with a slightly different title, De Aquaeductu, or De Cura Aquarum, published under Trajan soon after the death of Nerva. In an admirable preface he explains that his invariable custom when intrusted with any work was to make himself thoroughly acquainted with the subject in all its bearings before beginning to act; he could thus work with greater promptitude and despatch, and besides gained a theoretical knowledge which might have escaped him amid the multitude of practical details. Frontinus's account of the water-supply of Rome is complete and valuable: recent explorers have found it thoroughly trustworthy, and have been aided by it in reconstructing the topography of the ancient city. [15] The architecture of Rome has been reproached with some justice for bestowing its finest achievements on buildings destined for amusement, or on mere private dwellings. But if from the amphitheatres, the villas, the baths, we turn to the roads, the sewers, and the aqueducts, we shall agree with Frontinus in deeply admiring so grand a combination of the artistic with the useful. A practical recognition of some of the great sanitary laws seem to have early prevailed at Rome, and might well excite our wonder, if such things had not been as a rule passed by in silence by historians. Recent discoveries are tending to set the early civilisation of Rome on a far higher level than it has hitherto been able to claim.

The style of Frontinus is not so devoid of ornament as might be expected from one so much occupied in business; but the ornament it has is of the best kind. He shuns the conceits of the period, and goes back to the republican authors, of whom (and especially of Caesar's Commentaries) his language strongly reminds us. We observe that the very simplicity which Quintilian sought in vain from a lifelong rhetorical training is present unsought in Frontinus; a clear proof that it is the occupation of life and the nature of the man, not the varnish of artistic culture, however elaborately laid on, that determines the main characteristics of the writer.

No other prose authors of any name have come down to us from this epoch. A vast number of persons are flatteringly saluted by Statius and Martial as orators, historians, jurists, &c.; but these venal poets had a stock of complimentary phrases always ready for any one powerful enough to command them. When we read therefore that Tutilius, Regulus, Flavius Ursus, Septimius Severus, were great writers, we must accept the statement only with considerable reductions. Victorius Marcellus, the friend to whom Quintilian dedicates his treatise, was probably a person of some real eminence; his juridical knowledge is celebrated by Statius. The Silvae of Statius and the letters of Pliny imply that there was a very active and generally diffused interest in science and letters; but it is easy to be somebody where no one is great. Among grammarians AEMILIUS ASPER deserves notice. [16] He seems to have been living while Suetonius composed his biography of grammarians, since he is not included in it. He continued the studies of Cornutus and Probus of Berytus, and was best known for his Quaestiones Virgilianae (of which several fragments still remain), and his commentaries on Terence and Sallust. LARGUS LICINIUS, the author of Ciceromastix, may perhaps be referred to this time. The reiterated commendation of Cicero occurring in Quintilian may have roused the modernising party into active opposition, and drawn out thisbrochure. History and philosophy both sunk to an extremely low ebb; no writers on these subjects worthy of mention are preserved.