Famous Figures


Aeneas, son of Venus and Anchises, who brought the survivors of Troy to Italy. 

Iulus, son of  Aeneas, through whom the Julian family claimed divine descent.

The seven kings of Rome

Romulus, twin-son, with Remus, of Mars and Rhea Silvia, founder and first king 

Numa Pompilius 

Tullus Hostilius 

Ancus Marcius

Lucius Tarquinius Priscus  

Servius Tullius 

Lucius Tarquinius Superbus 

Horatii (7th cent.) In the reign of Tullus Hostilius, the Horatii, Roman triplets, fought against the Curatii, triplets from Alba Longa, in lieu of a full-scale war between the cities. Two of the Horatii were killed, and all three Curatii were wounded with varying degrees of severity. The remaining Horatius fled unharmed, thereby separating the Curatii, whom he was then able to dispose of individually. 

Lucretia (6th cent.) Wife of Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus. Her rape, by Sextus, son of Tarquinius Superbus, led to the overthrow of the monarchy by Junius Brutus, ancestor of the like-named assassin of Julius Caesar. 

Horatius (Horatius Cocles [One-eyed]; 6th cent.) With two companions, he prevented the Etruscan army of Lars Porsenna from crossing the Tiber-bridge into Rome. This legend is best known from Livy, History of Rome 2.10, where Horatius is portrayed swimming safely back to Rome in full armor. In an earlier version, with a wonderful disregard for heroic success and the happy ending, he sank and drowned. The cognōmen “Cocles” was said to be a slip of the tongue for “Cyclops”, Horatius having lost an eye in battle or his sunken features leaving little space between his eyes. 

Scaevola (Gaius Mucius Scaevola [Lefty]; 6th cent.) After a failed attempt to assassinate Lars Porsenna, Mucius burned off his right hand to show that he had no fear of torture, and Porsenna released him in admiration for his bravery. 

Coriolanus (Gnaeus [or Gaius] Marcius Coriolanus; 6th-5th cent.) An exiled Roman, probably an aristocrat, who led the Volsci against Rome, but, persuaded by his wife and mother not to destroy the city, he turned back and was killed by the Volsci. Shakespeare’s Coriolanus is based largely on Plutarch’s biography. 

Cincinnatus (Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus; 5th cent.) Called from his farm and appointed dictator at a time of military crisis, within fifteen days he settled the crisis, laid down the dictatorship and returned to his plowing. The city of Cincinnati is named in honor of the Society of the Cincinnati, formed in 1783 by officers of the Continental army and their French allies. Its 19th century nickname, “Porkopolis”, has rather less dignity. 

Camillus (Marcus Furius Camillus; 5th-4th cent.) Military and political leader, conqueror of the Etruscan city of Veii (396), and said also to have won over the Etruscan city of Falerii when he refused to accept as hostages the children of the city’s leaders who had been brought treacherously to his camp by their schoolteacher. 

Curtius (Marcus Curtius; 4th cent.) In 362, an oracle ordained that Rome could be saved only by the sacrifice of its most valuable possession; interpreting this as a reference to the courage of its soldiers, Curtius, a young aristocrat, leaped fully armed and on horseback into a chasm which had suddenly appeared in the forum Rōmānum. This tale is told to account for the mysterious lacus Curtius “Curtius’ lake”, a small pit or pond in the forum Rōmānum. Perhaps not surprisingly, other versions were also current. 

Fabius Cunctator (Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus [“Warty”] Cunctator [“Delayer”]; 265?-203) saved Rome from Hannibal by his policy of attrition rather than open warfare. 

Scipio Africanus (Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus; 236-183) defeated Hannibal at Zama. The Romans imagined their ancestors as grim, bearded men. Scipio Africanus was later thought to be the first Roman to shave every day; beards were brought back into fashion by Hadrian, who may have grown his in deference to Greek custom, or to hide facial scars. 

Cato (Marcus Porcius Cato; 234-149) A leading political figure, resistant to the growing cultural influence of Greece. He called the Greeks nēquissimum et indocile genus “a very worthless and unteachable race”, but he learned Greek in his old age. Despite his famous dictum dēlenda est Karthāgō (“Carthage must be destroyed”), he did not live to see the destruction of Rome’s great rival (146). His like-named great-grandson (95-46) was one of Julius Caesar’s most obdurate opponents. 

Gracchi (Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus; 163-132, Gaius Sempronius Gracchus; 154-121) Grandsons of Scipio Africanus, from a rich and powerful family, they pursued an aggressively populist agenda, and were both killed by the senatorial faction. One of the consuls promised to pay for Gaius Gracchus’ head with its weight in gold; it was said that a former friend of Gracchus brought it to him, having filled the skull with molten lead to enhance its value. 

Jugurtha (c. 158-104) King of Numidia. The unsatisfactorily protracted war against him (111-106) did much to hasten the decline in the power of the aristocrats in Rome. 

Marius (Gaius Marius; c. 157-86) and Sulla (Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix [Fortunate]; c. 138-78) Their military and political rivalry destabilized Rome, and prepared the way for the end of the Republic. 

Cicero (Marcus Tullius Cicero [Chick-pea]; 106-43) The greatest of all Roman orators. Given the importance of rhetoric in Roman public life, it is remarkable that so little Latin oratory survives. Apart from Cicero’s speeches, the most substantial corpus of oratory is the Latin Panegyrics, a collection of twelve speeches. The earliest is the younger Pliny’s Panegyric of Trajan, delivered in AD 100, in gratitude for his appointment to the consulship; the others all date from the late 3rd and 4th centuries AD. Although he was a novus homō “a new man”, i.e. the first of his family to rise to political prominence, Cicero was consul in 63 and a leading political figure throughout the last years of the Republic. Roman political life was extremely conservative. Between 367 BC, when plebeians could hold the consulship for the first time, and 46 BC, it seems to have been held only 21 times by new men”. These 21 consulships were, moreover, shared between probably no more than 11 individuals (including Gaius Marius, Caesar’s uncle by marriage, who was consul 7 times). Cicero’s rise to prominence in politics was particularly remarkable: not only was he a “new man”, but he became consul suō annō, “in his own year”, i.e. the first year in which he was eligible to run for the consulship. 

Spartacus (?-71) A Thracian gladiator, who led a revolt of slaves and the rural proletariat (73-71), ravaging Italy and defeating several Roman armies. 

Catiline (Lucius Sergius Catilina; c. 108-62) The ring-leader of the “Catilinarian” conspiracy, an attempt in 63 to seize power by bribery and violence, foiled by the consul Cicero, who was consequently hailed as pater patriae “father of the fatherland”. Such attempts were not new; that of Catiline is, however, especially well documented, in particular through the speeches of Cicero and a monograph by Sallust. Note the spelling of Catiline’s name, not to be confused with that of the Californian island, flying-boat and salad dressing, all named after Santa Catalina (Catherine). Caesar is also very commonly misspelled. (The salad of that name is probably named after Caesar Cardini [1896-1956], an Italian-born restauranteur in Tijuana, Mexico.) 

Pompey (Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus [The Great]; 106-48) Pompey formed the First Triumvirate with Crassus (Marcus Licinius Crassus) and Julius Caesar. Caesar ultimately defeated him at Pharsalus in 48. 

Caesar (Gaius Iulius Caesar; 100-44) The towering military and political  figure whose career ushered in the Principate, but who may himself have intended to rule Rome as king. Galba, the first emperor who was not a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, adopted Caesar as a cognōmen, a practice which extended throughout the Holy Roman Empire, producing the German Kaiser and the Russian tzar. In modern texts, when Caesar appears without further definition, the reference is usually to Julius Caesar. 


The first emperors did not use the term imperātor in the modern sense of “emperor”; for a long time it continued to bear the specific military sense “commander” (i.e. a general wielding imperium).

Augustus (Octavian) 27 BC-AD 14  
(Note that it is conventional to add BC after the year, AD before.)   
Tiberius 14-37  
Gaius (Caligula) 37-41  
Claudius 41-54  
Nero 54-68  
Galba 68-69  
Otho 69  
Vitellius 69  
Vespasian 69-79  
Titus 79-81  
Domitian 81-96  
Nerva 96-98  
Trajan 98-117  
Hadrian 117-138
Antoninus Pius 138-161
Marcus Aurelius 161-180
Lucius Verus 161-169  
Commodus 177-192
Pertinax 193
Didius Julianus 193
Septimius Severus 193-211
Caracalla 211-217
Macrinus 217-218
Elagabalus (Heliogabalus) 218-222
Alexander Severus 222-235
Maximinus (Thrax) 235-238

AD 69, which Tacitus evocatively terms longus annus, is famous as the “year of the four emperors”, but Rome underwent other unsettled times; if Commodus had been strangled a day later, there would have been 6 claimants to power in 193, as there were in 235. The half-century from Maximinus to the accession of Diocletian in 284 was a period of unusual instability, which saw dozens of emperors and usurpers. A remarkable number of them perished at the hands of their own troops, but none suffered a fate as noteworthy as that of Valerian, co-emperor with Gallienus 253-260: he fell into the hands of Sapor I of Persia, who used him as a mounting-block when he mounted his horse (Sapor had no stirrups [probably a Chinese invention, they were first brought westward by the Avars in the 6th century]), and it is alleged that, when he died, his skin was put on show in a temple. (The Byzantine emperor Romanos IV is said to have suffered a similar misfortune in 1071.) 

Literary Figures

You will note how often reference is made in this list to lost works: our knowledge of Latin literature is dependent almost exclusively on the accidents and vagaries of survival in manuscript copies, and many of such works as do survive are known only through tenuous and unsatisfactory manuscript traditions. You will also note that not a single woman is included in this list. Much can be inferred about the Roman moralists’ views on women engaged in literary activities from Sallust’s criticism of Sempronia, who was implicated in the Catilinarian conspiracy: multa saepe virīlis audāciae facinora commīserat. haec mulier genere atque formā, praetereā virō līberīs satis fortūnāta fuit; litterīs Graecīs Latīnīs docta, psallere saltāre ēlegantius quam necesse est probae, multa alia, quae instrūmenta luxuriae sunt “She had often committed many crimes of masculine boldness. This woman was fairly privileged in birth and beauty, as well as in her husband and children. She was well read in Greek and Latin literature, played the lyre and danced with greater skill than is necessary for a decent woman, and she had many other accomplishments that promote dissipation”.


Livius Andronicus (3rd cent.) Famous particularly as the author of the first known non-dramatic Latin poem, a version of Homer’s Odyssey. Only a few fragments survive. 

Plautus (Titus Maccius Plautus; c. 250-184?) Author of comedies adapted from Greek, of which 21 survive, mostly intact. After Plautus’ death some plays were recognized as being his by the large number of jokes (cōpia iocōrum) which they contained. 

Ennius (Quintus Ennius; 239-169?) Author of poetry in many genres, his most influential poem being the Annāles, an epic poem in 18 books on Rome’s recent history. Substantial fragments of many of his works survive. 

Terence (Publius Terentius Afer; ?-159) Author of 6 comedies adapted from Greek. His style is less exuberant than that of Plautus. 

Lucretius (Titus Lucretius Carus; c. 98-51?) Author of the Dē Rērum Nātūrā, a philosophical epic in 6 books expounding the Epicurean view of the world. Referring to classical poems by the number of books gives a rough guide to their scale, since it was conventional that poetry books should contain between 700 and 1,000 lines (presumably for the convenience of reading from papyrus-rolls [volūmina, -um n. 3]); the DRN is exceptional, with every book exceeding 1,000 lines (Book 5 being the longest, with 1,457 lines).   

Catullus (Gaius Valerius Catullus; 84?-54?) The central figure in the so-called “neoteric” (avant-garde) group of poets, who were influenced strongly by the Hellenistic Greek poets. The works of the other neoterics have been lost almost entirely.  

Vergil (Publius Vergilius Maro; 70-19) The greatest and most influential of all Roman poets. Author of the Eclogues, a collection of 10 pastoral poems, the Georgics, a didactic poem in 4 books on farming, and the Aeneid, his masterpiece, unfinished at his death, a 12-book epic on the arrival of the Trojans in Italy. The incorrect form “Virgil”, first attested in the 5th century, is the commoner spelling in English, and the intrusive i is often found in other languages also. That spelling invites certain associations: virga, -ae f. 1 “twig”, hence “[magic] wand”, evokes Vergil’s reputation as an enchanter; virgō, virginis f. “virgin”, has suggested variously his putative virginal shyness, his links with Naples, otherwise known as Parthenope (literally “Virgin-voiced”, the name of one of the Sirens, who was said to have been buried there), and, most significantly, the supposed prediction of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ in the 4th (“Messianic”) Eclogue, written c. 40 BC. His cognomen, Maro, is an anagram of both Roma and Amor, but neither he nor any other ancient writer seems to make anything of this coincidence. It was thought that the future could be predicted by consulting the sortes Vergilianae (“the Vergilian lottery”), opening a copy of Vergil’s works at a random passage. Hadrian is said to have foretold his reign when he hit upon the reference to King Numa Pompilius at Aeneid 6.808-812 (Historia Augusta Life of Hadrian 2.8); Charles I of England was warned of the coming Civil War by Dido’s curse on Aeneas at 4.615-620. 

Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus; 65-8) Author of Satires, Epodes, Odes, Epistles. He fought for the assassins at Philippi, but soon became, through his patron, Gaius Maecenas, one of Augustus’ foremost apologists. 

Propertius (Sextus Propertius; ?-15?), Tibullus ([?] Albius Tibullus; ?-19?) and Ovid, in his early career, wrote love-elegy, a genre established by Gallus (Gaius Cornelius Gallus; c. 70-26?), whose own oeuvre is now almost entirely lost. The loss of Gallus’ elegies is  an incalculable disaster for our understanding of Augustan poety. Only a single line, quoted in a 5th cent. handbook on geography, was known until 1978, when a papyrus sheet containing nine further lines (some intact) was recovered in Egypt, from a rubbish-tip outside a Roman army camp, probably of the early Augustan period. Gallus had been governor of Egypt, until he was forced to commit suicide on losing the amīcitia (friendship, patronage) of Augustus for arrogantly boasting of his own military achievements. Although the recovered lines refer to sex, politics and literary criticism, the standard topics of Augustan elegiac poetry, the contents of the papyrus are disappointing; nevertheless, having probably been written within the lifetime of the author, the papyrus is almost unique as material evidence for classical Latin poetry. 

Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso; 43 BC-AD 17?). Author of various collections of erotic poetry (Amōrēs, Hērōides, Ars Amātōria, Remedia Amōris), a versified calendar of the Roman year from January to June (Fastī),  a 15-book collection of myths, united by the theme of transformation (Metamorphōsēs). After his relegation to the Black Sea in AD 8 for some unknown offence against Augustus, he produced two melancholy collections of poetic letters aimed at securing his recall (Tristia, Epistulae ex Pontō), and a long curse-poem against a former friend who had been disloyal to him (Ībis). (relegātiō, -iōnis f. 3 was a milder punishment than dēportātiō, -iōnis f. 3, in that it allowed retention of one’s civil rights. exilium, - n. 2 is the older, more general, term.) 

Lucan (Marcus Annaeus Lucanus; 39-65) Author of the Dē Bellō Cīvīlī, a 10-book epic on the civil war between Caesar and the Senate. Grandson of the elder Seneca and nephew of the younger (see below). He conspired against Nero and was forced to commit suicide. 

Statius (Publius Papinius Statius; ?-95?) Author of the Thebaid, a 12-book epic on the Seven against Thebes, the Silvae (five books of occasional poems), and a second epic, an Achilleid (incomplete; little over one book). 

Valerius Flaccus (Gaius Valerius Flaccus Setinus Balbus; late 1st cent.) Author of a generally underrated epic, the Argōnautica. 

Silius Italicus (Tiberius Catius Asconius Silius Italicus; 26-102) Author of the Pūnica, an epic on the 2nd Punic War, the longest surviving poem in Latin (17 books), and not highly regarded by most of the few scholars who have read it. 

Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis; c. 38 - c. 103) Author of over 1,500 epigrams, which are of markedly variable literary merit but present a vivid picture of contemporary life in Rome. 

Juvenal (Decius Iunius Iuvenalis; c. 55 - c. 127) Author of 5 books of satires, brilliantly critical of Roman social and political mōrēs and a fascinating reflection of his thoroughly unappealing personality.

Prose writers

Varro (Marcus Terentius Varro; 126-27 BC) It is estimated that Varro wrote some 75 works, in 620 books. The range of his subjects was encyclopedic. Only one work survives in its entirety, the Dē Rē Rusticā (3 books). Of his Dē Linguā Latīnā (25 books), a ground-breaking and fundamentally important study of Latin grammar, books 5-10 are partly or mostly intact. The loss of all but some 300 fragments, miscellaneous and almost all very brief, of his Antīquitātēs Rērum Hūmānārum et Dīvīnārum (41 books) is especially regrettable. His Menippean Satires (150 books), popular philosophising and social comment in a mixture of prose and verse, were influential on the development of satire (see Horace, Juvenal) and the comic novel (see Petronius), although few of the surviving fragments are of great intrinsic interest. When Pompey became consul for the first time in 70 BC, without having held any of the subordinate posts in the cursus honōrum, Varro wrote him a manual on political procedures; it is a pity that it is almost entirely lost. 

Cicero (Marcus Tullius Cicero; 106-43) The titles of almost 90 speeches are known, some 58 of which survive in whole or in substantial part. He also wrote several treatises on rhetoric (most notably Dē Ōrātōre, Brūtus and Ōrātor), and numerous philosophical works (inter alia, Dē Fīnibus Bonōrum et Malōrum, Disputātiōnēs Tusculānae, Dē Nātūrā Deōrum, Dē Dīvīnātiōne, Dē Officiīs), and almost forty books of letters. Not only are his voluminous writings by far the most important source of information about the final decades of the Republic, but also, with their clear and powerful style, they give him a unique and unrivalled importance in the development of Roman thought and indeed of the Latin language. A remarkably high proportion of his works belongs to his last few years, before his brutal murder by Antony in the proscriptions of 43 BC.

      As well as speeches, treatises on rhetoric and philosophy, and very substantial collections of letters to members of his family, his friends and distinguished contemporaries, Cicero also wrote much poetry, almost all of which is lost. It was not highly regarded in antiquity. Not having found anyone else willing to commemorate his quelling of the Catilinarian conspiracy, he wrote his Consulātus Suus, which contains the notorious boast ō fortūnātam nātam mē consule Rōmam! “O Rome, fortunate in having been born (again) with me as consul!” (or in a famous, but less literal, 19th century rendering: “O happy fate for the Roman state was the date of my great consulate!”). That line is as remarkable for its arrogance as for its assonance. Juvenal quotes it, adding Antōnī gladiōs potuit contemnere, sī sīc/ omnia dixisset “He could have scorned Antony’s swords if he had said everything like that” (i.e. if his speeches, many of which, most notably the Philippics, were directed against Antony, had been as bad as his poetry) (Satires 10.122-124). In fact, however, Cicero’s poetry does not deserve the poor reputation from which it still largely suffers. Certainly, he was well in touch with current poetic trends: the Arātēa, his only poem known to us through a manuscript tradition of its own rather than through quotations by other authors and in Cicero’s own works, is a verse translation of Aratus’ Phaenomena, which, to Callimachus, the guru of Alexandrian intellectual life in the 3rd century BC, represented the zenith of Hellenistic Greek poetry. 

Caesar (Gaius Iulius Caesar; 100-44) Only two works survive, both accounts of his military actions, the Commentāriī dē Bellō Gallicō (7 books) and the Commentāriī dē Bellō Cīvīlī (3 books), with further books added subsequently to both by other writers. Caesar was a subtle and accomplished stylist, but both works, and particularly the Dē Bellō Gallicō, are written in a consciously simple manner intended to persuade his readers of his straightforward character and lack of guile.  

Sallust (Gaius Sallustius Crispus; 86?-35 BC) Sallust’s only works to survive intact are the Dē Coniūrātiōne Catilīnae and the Dē Bellō Iugurthīnō. Substantial fragments of his Historiae are also extant. 

Vitruvius (? Vitruvius Pollio; mid. 1st cent. BC) Author of the Dē Architectūrā (10 books), practically the sole authority on classical architecture throughout the Renaissance and in the Baroque and Neoclassical periods. Its style is unattractive, and it is made the more daunting by the often obscure technical language. Vitruvius is the prime source for the anecdote that Archimedes ran through the streets of Syracuse naked crying ερηκα (heureka “I have found [it]”) after he had accidentally hit on the principle of displacement while sitting in a bath. (He is, implausibly, supposed to have used this principle to prove that Hiero II’s crown did not contain as much gold as it should have; Eureka, the name of a town in northern California and the state’s motto, commemorates the 1849 Gold Rush. The incorrect form eureka has been current since the 17th century, perhaps encouraged by the extreme rarity of the combination heur- in English.) It is also Vitruvius who describes a primitive odometer, which may have been invented by Archimedes; Leonardo da Vinci tried unsuccessfully to construct the device based on Vitruvius’ description. (Leonardo’s most celebrated debt to Vitruvius is in his “Vitruvian Man”, a drawing demonstrating the proportions of the human body.) 

Livy (Titus Livius; 59 BC - AD 17)  Author of the Ab Urbe Conditā, a history of Rome from the foundation to 9 BC. Books 1-10 and 21-45 survive, with summaries and a few fragments of the others. About forty words from Book 11 were discovered on a papyrus in Egypt as recently as 1986. With Sallust, he ranks lower only than Tacitus among Roman historians.  

Seneca the Elder (Lucius Annaeus Seneca; c. 50 BC - c. AD 40) Author of Ōrātōrum et Rhētōrum Sententiae, Dīvīsiōnēs, Colōrēs, a memoir of the schools of declamation in the Augustan period; about half of the work survives, five books on contrōversiae (forensic speeches), and one on suāsōriae (speeches of persuasion). contrōversiae were essential training for a legal career, but often dealt with far-fetched themes. For example, on the basis of a (fictitious) law that a girl who has been raped may choose either that the rapist marry her without a dowry or that he be put to death, students debated what to do if a man rapes two girls, and one demands marriage, the other his death; should a man be convicted of desecration if he takes weapons from a tomb to defend his city?; if a woman calls on Vesta to help her when she is about to be thrown off a cliff for unchastity, and then survives the ordeal, should she be thrown off again? Seneca’s suasōriae include “Should Alexander sail the Ocean?”, “Should the 300 Spartans retreat from Thermopylae?”, “Should Cicero beg Antony to spare his life?” The elder Seneca does not receive nowadays the attention which he merits; the insights which he gives into rhetorical education are fundamental to an appreciation of much of Latin literature. 

Seneca the Younger (Lucius Annaeus Seneca; c. 4 BC - AD 65) For many years, one of Nero’s chief advisors, Seneca wrote voluminously on philosophical (essentially Stoic) themes (inter alia, Dialogī, Quaestiōnēs Nātūrālēs, Epistulae Mōrālēs, Dē Beneficiīs) and is the author of at least eight tragedies, the often rather violent nature of which had a strong influence on dramatists in the Renaissance and later periods. He is probably also the author of the Apocolocyntōsis (“Transformation into a Gourd”), a brief and wittily parodic account of the apotheosis of Claudian. (As the name of a North American people, Seneca is of doubtful origin, but perhaps owes its particular spelling in English to the Roman philosopher.) 

Petronius (Titus? Petronius Arbiter?; ? - AD 66?) The author of the Satyricōn may be the consul of AD 62 or 63 who was forced to commit suicide when charged with treason against Nero. The Satyricōn is a satirical novel. Its original size is not determinable.  Slightly more than two books survive. About a third of the extant text is taken up by the Cēna Trimalchiōnis, a splendidly comic account of a banquet held by a rich and magnificently vulgar freedman. The poor state of the text, the disjointed narrative and the frequently obscure language, sprinkled with solecisms, make the Satyricōn unusually difficult to read. 

Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus; c. AD 23 - 79) The author of the Historia Nātūrālis, a 37-book encyclopedia, the greatest single repertoire of ancient knowledge and thought throughout the medieval period. Pliny’s own definition of the contents is nātūra, hōc est vīta, narrātur “Nature, that is to say life, is my subject”. In fact, about one third of the work is devoted to medicine and charms. Earlier works on history, language, and rhetoric and a monograph on javelin-throwing are lost. While serving as commander of the fleet, he had hinself rowed across the Bay of Naples to investigate the eruption of Vesuvius, and died in the interests of science. Pliny is not a stylish writer, being preoccupied with conveying the twenty thousand noteworthy facts which he promises in his preface, but he does have his almost poetic moments, as in his description of the sunflower (which is read online in the audio files) – where, however, he goes on to list tape-worms, warts and rectal pustules as ailments which the sunflower cures. 

Quintilian (Marcus Fabius Quintilianus; c. AD 35 - c. 95?) The first rhetorician to receive a state salary for teaching. In his retirement, he wrote the Institūtiō Ōrātōria (“Training in Rhetoric”) (12 books). 

Tacitus (Publius? Cornelius Tacitus; c. AD 56 - c. 120) The greatest of the Roman historians, he wrote the Agricola, a biography of his father-in-law, Gnaeus Iulius Agricola, governor of Britain, the Germānia, an ethnographical treatise, the Dialogus, on the decline in modern oratory, the Historiae, of which little more than the first four books are extant (about a third of the whole work), treating the eventful years AD 69-70, and the Annālēs, his masterwork, treating the reigns of Tiberius, Gaius, Claudius and Nero, but hardly more than half its original 18 (or 16) books survive. (The emperor Tacitus rather implausibly claimed descent from the historian, and ordered that ten copies of his works be made every year and deposited in libraries. Unfortunately, his reign lasted only a few months in AD 275/6.) Historiography being conventionally the most elevated of prose genres, Tacitus developed an extremely artistic style, difficult but attractive to read, full of poeticisms and unexpected turns of phrase.  

Pliny the Younger (Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus; c. AD 61 - c. 112) Nephew and adopted son of Pliny the Elder, he was the author of ten books of letters, the first nine of which are an important source of information about Roman social life, while the tenth, mostly written while he was governor of Bithynia-Pontus, is an exchange of letters with the emperor Trajan, and gives detailed insights into provincial administration. Perhaps the most famous of the letters recounts the death of his uncle in the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. (Volcanic eruptions of that particularly violent and dramatic nature [as that of e.g. Mount St. Helen’s in Washington in 1980] are now called Plinian, in honor of the detailed description which he provides.) His exchange with Trajan on how to deal with the problem posed by Christians provides the earliest external account of Christian worship and an important statement of the official view of the new religion.His Panēgyricus, a speech of thanks to Trajan on his appointment to the consulship, is the only substantial extant speech from the period between Cicero and the late empire. 

Suetonius (C. Suetonius Tranquillus; c. AD 70 - c. 130?) A prolific author, of whose oeuvre only two works, both biographical, now survive: the Dē Vītā Caesarum (complete) and the Dē Virīs Illustribus (in part). The Dē Vītā Caesarum contains lives of the rulers of Rome from Julius Caesar to Domitian, and is rich in information and anecdote unknown from other sources. (As secretary to the emperor Hadrian, Suetonius had access to the imperial archives.) 

Apuleius (c. AD 125 - c. 170?) A voluminous writer of, mostly, philosophical treatises, but most celebrated for his Metamorphōsēs (often known as the Golden Ass, a title first given by St. Augustine of Hippo), which includes the charming love-story of Cupid & Psyche. If Apuleius’ Latin were less idiosyncratic, he would be more widely read.