F 4 [Aurel. Vict.] Vir. ill. 73.6–8

aqua et igni interdixit ei, qui in leges suas non iurasset. [7] huic legi multi nobiles obrogantes,1 cum tonuisset, clamarunt:2 “iam,” inquit, “nisi quiescetis, grandinabit.” [8] Metellus Numidicus exulare quam iurare maluit.


M. Antonius (cos. 99, censor 97 BC; RE Antonius 28) fought in Cilicia (as propraetor) against pirates and celebrated a triumph after his victory (Liv. Epit. 68). In the civil war he was killed by the faction of C. Marius and L. Cornelius Cinna in 87 BC (b. 143 BC). In relation to the election campaign for the censorship, Antonius had been unsuccessfully charged by M. Duronius (68) with ambitus (TLRR 83).

Antonius was regarded as an excellent and naturally gifted orator (T 1–2, 5; Cic. Brut. 296; Orat. 18; Vell. Pat. 2.22.3). Along with L. Licinius Crassus (66), with whom he is often compared as the two of them are regarded as the major orators of the period (T 4–5, 12; Cic. Brut. 186, 189; Orat. 18–19, 106; Div. Caec. 25; Vell. Pat. 2.9), he is one of the main speakers in Cicero’s De oratore. In Cicero, Antonius is praised for his varied oratory, well-prepared, energetic, and adapted to the respective situations, his



F 4 [Aurelius Victor], On Famous Men

He [Saturninus] excluded from water and fire [i.e., banished] that man who had not sworn the oath on his laws. [7] Many noblemen, opposing this law, cried out when it had thundered: “Soon,” he [Saturninus] said, “if you will not be quiet, it will hail.” [8] Metellus Numidicus [Q. Caecilius Metellus Numidicus (58)] preferred to go into exile rather than swear the oath.1


well-arranged and well-delivered speeches, and his well-chosen language; he was noted for his sharp mind, logicalpresentation of material, and extraordinary memory (T3–6; Cic. De or. 2.124–25). Antonius had made the acquaintance of Greek intellectuals; yet he did not choose to admit his familiarity with Greek learning (T 7–8; Cic. De or. 1.82–93, 2.153, 2.360). He allegedly had little formal legal knowledge (T 3; Cic. De or. 2.248). Quintilian claims that Antonius preferred to conceal the artfulness of his accomplished eloquence (T 10; Quint. Inst. 12.9.5).

Antonius is said to have claimed never to have written down any speeches (T 9; F 37; cf. Cic. Orat. 132: 80 T 6), but others may have produced summaries. In the Rhetorica ad Herennium Antonius is listed as one of the writers from whom examples for students could be drawn (Rhet. Her. 4.7: 25 T 5). Antonius produced a brief work on the art of speaking (F 37–40).

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.fragmentary_republican_latin-oratory.2019