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Tullius Cicero, Marcus, life  

Kathryn Tempest

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 bce) was Rome’s greatest orator and a leading politician during the closing years of the Roman republic. Born to a wealthy equestrian family of Arpinum, he was a novus homo who made his name and networks at Rome by building on the successes of his forensic activity. As a rising politician he was appointed quaestor in western Sicily in 75 bce; otherwise, his career was spent mostly in Rome, where he served as aedile in 69 and praetor in 66. His consulship in 63 followed an exemplary rise up the cursus honorum during which he obtained every magistracy at the earliest opportunity available to him by law. His year as consul is best remembered for his handling of the Catilinarian affair and his prompt execution of its leading conspirators. Despite Cicero’s insistence that he had saved Rome, the questionable legality of his actions caused a serious blow to his political reputation when it resulted in his brief exile in 58–57 bce.

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Aelian  

Steven D. Smith

Aelian (Claudius Aelianus, 161/77–230/8 CE), an influential writer of miscellaneous works in Rome during the reign of the Severan emperors, helped shape the literary landscape of the so-called Second Sophistic. There are two sources for his life, one a contemporary notice by Philostratus in his Lives of the Sophists, and the other a brief entry in the 10th-centurySuda lexicon. According to the former, Aelian ‘was a Roman, but he spoke and wrote Attic Greek’ (VS 624). A student of the sophist Pausanias of Caesarea and an admirer of Herodes Atticus, Aelian himself declined to declaim in public and instead committed himself to writing and composition. He died without any children, and he claimed never to have travelled outside of Italy. The Suda supplies additional information: Aelian was born in Praeneste (modern Palestrina) near Rome and he was a high priest (ἀρχιερεύς), though the Byzantine source is silent about what god Aelian served.

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Pliny (2) the Younger, 61/62–c. 112 CE  

Christopher Whitton

Pliny the Younger is the best-documented private individual of the early Roman principate, and one of the most accomplished writers of Latin prose. Nephew of Pliny the Elder, he rose from provincial equestrian origins to serve as suffect consul in 100 ce and governor of Pontus-Bithynia in c. 110–112. His nine-book Epistles is an innovative collection of purportedly authentic letters, crafted into a literary work of minute artistry. It sketches a fragmented portrait of Trajanic elite society, with Pliny as the exemplary individual at its centre. Among its varied contents are eleven letters to Tacitus, including celebrated narratives of the eruption of Vesuvius in 79, several accounts of senatorial trials, and fulsome descriptions of two villas belonging to Pliny. The Panegyricus, the only extant Latin speech from the two hundred years following the death of Cicero, is a founding example of imperial encomium, praising Trajan and vilifying Domitian. The book of letters to and from Trajan known as Epistles 10 bears unique witness to Roman provincial governance, and to early Roman views of Christianity.

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Aristaenetus  

Anna Tiziana Drago

The collection of fifty fictitious love letters (epistulae amatoriae) subdivided into two books contained in a single Greek manuscript (codex unicus) copied in the south of Italy around 1200 ce and now housed in Vienna (V = Cod. Vindobonensis phil. Graec. 310) has had a curious history. This manuscript identifies its epistolographer as a certain Aristaenetus, but in fact the author’s name is as uncertain as his birthplace and the dates of his career. The corpus might have been composed between the end of the 5th and the beginning of the 6th centuries ce, and its author could be an epistolographer belonging to the literary humanist circles formed in the imperial atmosphere of Constantinople under Justinian I (including Procopius, Agathias, and Paulus Silentiarius). The letters are written from a variety of senders to diverse addressees, including historical or literary figures (often professional epistolographers: Alciphron, Aelian, Philostratus, but also Lucian, Stesichorus, Eratosthenes, Archilochus, and Terpander). Aristaenetus’ epistolary collection has a dominant thematic nucleus: the description, conquest, and defence of love. This thematic nucleus gathers around itself conventional amatory topics: the flame of love; love at first sight; servitium amoris (“love slavery”); love-sickness; the erōtodidaskalos (teacher of love); the paraclausithyron (lover’s lament by a locked door).