C. Asinius Pollio (76 BC–AD 4; cos. 40 BC; RE Asinius 25) fought on the side of C. Iulius Caesar (121) in the civil war. After Caesar’s assassination, he eventually decided to support M. Antonius (159). After his consulship (mentioned in Verg. Ecl. 4), Pollio fought against the Parthians and other peoples in that area; he celebrated a triumph upon his return in 39 BC (on his life see FRHist 1:430–35).

In addition to speeches, Pollio wrote poetry (Quint. Inst. 9.4.76; Plin. Ep.5.3.3–5; Verg. Ecl. 3.86), a historical work in Latin (Sen. Suas. 6.24–25; FRHist 56), tragedies (T 11; Hor. Carm. 2.1; Sat. 1.10.42–43; Verg. Ecl. 8.10; cf. TrRF 1:144–45), letters, literary criticism, and philosophy (Sen. Ep. 100.9). He also established a library at Rome (Plin. HN 7.115).

T 1 Hor. Carm. 2.1.13–14

... / insigne maestis praesidium reis / et consulenti, Pollio, curiae / ...

T 2 Sen. Contr. 4, praef. 2–3

Pollio Asinius numquam admissa multitudine declamavit, nec illi ambitio in studiis defuit; primus enim omnium Romanorum advocatis hominibus scripta sua recitavit. et inde est, quod Labienus, homo <tam>1 mentis quam linguae amarioris, dixit:2 “ille triumphalis senex ἀκροάσεις suas {id est declamationes suas}3 numquam populo commisit,” sive quia parum in illis habuit fiduciam suas edd. vet.: tuas (ex tua) cod.: tuas codd. rec.




Seneca the Elder reports that Pollio was the first to recite his writings to a select audience and that he was a declaimer, a teacher of declamation, an eloquent orator, and a historian (T 2; Sen. Contr. 3, praef. 14–15; Suas. 6.24–25). Pollio is mentioned as a great orator (T 7; 158 T7; Vell. Pat. 2.36.2–3; Plin. HN 7.115; Sen. Dial. 9.17.7; Plin. Ep.1.20.4) and as one of those orators who included poetic quotations in their speeches (T 8). Ancient authorities note his power of invention as well as his vivid and sometimes abrupt style, different from that of Cicero (T2–6, 12; Quint. Inst. 12.10.11); Quintilian comments on Pollio’s prose rhythm (158 T 10; cf. T 3).

T 1 Horace, Odes famous bastion of piteous defendants and of the Senate in its deliberations, Pollio ...

T 2 Seneca the Elder, Controversiae

Asinius Pollio never declaimed with a crowd let in; nor did he lack ambition in his studies; indeed, he was the first of all Romans to recite his writings before an invited audience. And hence the remark that Labienus, a man of a rather sharp mind as well as tongue, made: “That old man, a former triumphator, never released his recitations {that is, his declamations} to the People.”: whether because he had too little confidence in them, or—what I would rather believe—so distinguished an orator regarded this occupation as unworthy of his talents and wished to get exercise

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.fragmentary_republican_latin-oratory.2019