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Form: Marcus Cornelius.
The most celebrated orator in the age of the Antonines, born at Cirta in Numidia, about 100 A.D. As an advocate and speaker at Rome, he earned not only considerable wealth and reputation, but the favour of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius, who entrusted him with the education of the imperial princes Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. In 143 he was consul for two months, but his health was too weak to allow of his administering a province as proconsul. This ill-health, and many family misfortunes, embittered the last years of his life. He died about 170. He was much admired by his contemporaries, some of whom formed a school of their own bearing the name of Frontoniani, and this reputation survived after his death. Accordingly he used to be regarded as one of the chief representatives of Roman eloquence. But the discovery of part of his writings in 1815 dispelled the illusion. The recovered writings consist mainly of the correspondence, the greater part of which they preserve, between Fronto and the members of the imperial family, especially with Marcus Aurelius as prince and emperor. A number of the letters are written in Greek. Besides these we have a few fragments of historical works, and some rhetorical declamations. Of the speeches only a few meagre fragments remain. The character of Fronto, as revealed in these writings, is that of a man of some knowledge, honourable and independent, but vain and borne. His main ambition is to pave the way for the regeneration of the Latin language; and this, not by a study of the classical models, but by quarrying in the works of the auto-classical writers. Their antiquated expressions he revives, and uses in the most tasteless manner to clothe the poverty of his own thoughts. But his letters are of some value as contributing to our knowledge of the age and the persons then living.
Type: Standard
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