OF THE CENSORS ON RHETORICIANS
( 92 BC )
( Johnson, Coleman-Norton & Bourne, Ancient Roman Statutes, Austin, 1961, pp. 62-63, n. 59 ).
Both Suetonius ( Rhet. I ad init. ) and Gellius ( NA 15, 11, 2 ), who were contemporaries, preservel this proclamation enunciated about two centuries before their day against Latin rhetoricians. It fis interesting to find that one of the censors was Lucius Licinius Crassus, the first forensic orator of his age, into whose mouth Cicero puts a spirited defense of this edict ( De Or. 3, 24, 93 -95 ).
The conservative Romans objected not so much that the instruction was in Latin instead of in Greek ( as sometimes has been stated ) as that the wider use of Latin attracted more students to what Cicero ( through Crassus ) calls a school of shamelessness ( ludus impudentiae ), where the professors asserted that the ability to speak about subjects attractively in Latin could bc learned in school by rules. It was one thing to tolerate paid rhetoricians as critics of declamations delivered in Greek, since this practice would be construed simply as an exercise in speaking Greek and since Greek rhetoric necessarily thereby did not penetrate into Latin oratory or into instruction therein ; but fit was quite another thing when Latin declamations on artificial themes were being intruded into the education of Roman adolescents. As the event proved, the edict failed, for such instruction became a permanent part of Roman education.
|LATIN TEXT ( GIRARD )
Cn. Domitius Ahenobarbus L. Licinius Crassus censores ita edixerunt :
Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and Lucius Licinius Crassus, the censors, proclaim as follows :
Renuntiatum est nobis esse homines, qui nouum genus disciplinae instituerunt, ad quos iuuentus in ludum conueniat ; eos sibi nomen imposuisse Latinos rhetoras ; ibi homines adulescentulos dies totos desidere. Maiores nostri, quae liberos suos discere et quos in ludos itare uellent, instituerunt. Haec noua, quae praeter consuetudinem ac morem maiorum fiunt, neque placent neque recta uidentur. Quapropter et iis, qui eos ludos habent, et iis qui eo uenire consuerunt, uidetur faciundum, ut ostenderemus nostram sententiam, nobis non placere.
It has been reported to us that there are men who have instituted a new kind of training, to whom the youth go te, school ; that these men have arrogated to themselves the appellation Latin rhetoricians ; that young men sit idle for whole days there. Our ancestors have determined what they desired their children to learn and to what schools they wished them to go. These novelties, that are contrary to our ancestors' custom and character, neither please us nor appear proper. Wherefore, it appears to be our duty that we should declare our opinion, both to these who have these schools and to these who have been wont to attend them, that they displease us.