Monday, October 16, 2006

The Lesser Declamations of Pseudo-Quintilian


Over the school holidays (apart from having a great time in New Zealand) I had the pleasure of borrowing a book from the library which had never been borrowed before. It’s been a really interesting read- though I can understand why The Lesser Declamations II of pseudo-Quintilian isn’t exactly racing off the shelf.

These declamations are essentially speeches given in response to fanciful legal scenarios, used to train young Romans in what was considered to be the most important skill for a Roman statesman- the art of Oratory. The complexity of the cases imagined was designed to test the skills of aspiring lawyers and politicians, and often students were required to present both the for and against arguments of the same case.

Here are a few examples of the kinds of scenarios treated by pseudo-Quintilian which my year 8 class will be looking at over the next week.


#317- A general challenged by his son.

qui provocatus ab hoste non pugnaverit, capite puniatur.

filius imperatoris ad hostes transfugit. provocavit patrem. ille non descendit in certamen solus, sed acie commissa vicit hostes: in quo proelio et filius eius cecidit. accusatur quod provocatus ab hoste non pugnaverit.

Whoever is challenged by the enemy, but does not fight, must be put to death.

A commander’s son deserted to the enemy. He challenged his father. The latter did not come down to fight alone, but joined battle and defeated the enemy; in the same battle his son was also killed. He is prosecuted because he did not fight when he was challenged by the enemy.


# 321- Brother and doctor accuse one another of poisoning.

fratres consortes inimici esse coeperunt. diviserunt. alter ex his medicum instituit heredem. postea redierunt in gratiam.

is qui medicum amicum habebat, cum cenasset apud fratrem et domum redisset, dixit suspicari se venenum sibi datum. respondit medicus potionem se daturum remedii, et dedit; qua epota ille discessit. invicem se reos deferunt veneficii frater et medicus.

Brothers sharing an inheritance became enemies. They went their separate ways. One of them made a doctor his heir. Later they were reconciled.

The one who had the doctor as his friend, after dining with his brother and returning home, said he suspected that he had been given poison. The doctor replied that he would give him a potion as an antidote and did so. Having drunk it the man died. The brother and the doctor accuse each other of poisoning.


#332- The wills of a rich man and a poor man.

pauper et dives amici erant. dives testamento alium amicum omnium bonorum instituit heredem, pauperi iussit dari id quod ille sibi testamento daret.

apertae sunt tabulae pauperis. omnium bonorum instituerat heredem. petit totam divitis hereditatem. ille qui scriptus est heres vult dare tantum quantum in censum habet pauper.

A poor man and a rich man were friends. In his will the rich man made another friend heir to all his possessions, but ordered that the poor man be given what he gave in his will to himself.

The poor man’s tablets were opened. He had made the rich man heir to all his possessions. He claims the rich man’s whole inheritance. The man who was named heir wishes to give as much as the poor man has in his census.

1 comment:

byron said...

Fascinating examples!