I. Publio Helvio Pertinaci pater libertinus Helvius Successus fuit, qui filio nomen ex continuatione lignariae negotiationis, quod pertinaciter eam rem 2gereret, imposuisse fatetur. natus est Pertinax in Appennino in villa matris. equus pullus ea hora qua natus est in tegulas ascendit atque ibi breviter commoratus 3decidit et1 exspiravit. hac re motus pater ad Chaldaeum venit. qui cum illi futura ingentia praedixisset, stirpem2 se perdidisse dixit.
4Puer litteris elementariis et calculo imbutus, datus etiam Graeco grammatico atque inde Sulpicio Apollinari, post quem idem Pertinax grammaticen professus est.
5Sed cum in ea minus quaestus proficeret, per Lollianum Avitum, consularem virum, patris patronum, 6ducendi ordinis dignitatem petiit. dein praefectus
I. Publius Helvius Pertinax was the son of a freedman, Helvius Successus by name, who confessed that he gave this name to his son because of his own long-standing connection with the timber-trade, for he had conducted that business with pertinacity. Pertinax himself was born in the Apennines1 on an estate1 Aug., 126 which belonged to his mother. The hour he was born a black horse climbed to the roof, and after remaining there for a short time, fell to the ground and died. Disturbed by this occurrence, his father went to a Chaldean, and he prophesied future greatness for the boy, saying that he himself had lost his child.2 As a boy, Pertinax was educated in the rudiments of literature and in arithmetic and was also put under the care of a Greek teacher of grammar and, later, of Sulpicius Apollinaris;3 after receiving instruction from this man, Pertinax himself took up the teaching of grammar.
But when he found little profit in this profession, with the aid of Lollianus Avitus, a former consul4 and his father’s patron, he sought an appointment to a command in the ranks.5 Soon afterwards, in the
- 1At Alba Pompeia in Liguria, according to Dio, lxxiii. 1. For the date see c. xv. 6.
- 2The text is almost certainly corrupt.
- 3Frequently cited in the Noctes Atticae of Aulus Gellius, one of his pupils. He is well known as the composer of metrical summaries of the Aeneid and of Terence’s comedies.
- 4Consul in 144.
- 5As chief centurion; see note to Av. Cass., i. 1.