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Lives of Illustrious Men

De Grammaticis

I. Grammatica Romae ne in usu quidem olim, nedum in honore ullo erat, rudi scilicet ac bellicosa etiam tum civitate, necdum magnopere liberalibus disciplinis vacante. Initium quoque eius mediocre exstitit, siquidem antiquissimi doctorum, qui iidem1 et poetae et semigraeci erant (Livium et Ennium dico, quos utraque lingua domi forisque docuisse adnotatum est), nihil amplius quam Graecos interpretabantur, aut si quid ipsi Latine composuissent praelegebant. Nam quod nonnulli tradunt duos libros “De Litteris Syllabisque,” item “De Metris” ab eodem Ennio editos, iure arguit L. Cotta non poetae sed posterioris Ennii esse, cuius etiam “De Augurandi Disciplina” volumina ferantur.

II. Primus igitur, quantum opinamur, studium grammaticae in urbem intulit Crates Mallotes, Aristarchi aequalis, qui missus ad senatum ab Attalo rege inter secundum ac tertium Punicum bellum sub ipsam Ennii mortem,

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On Grammarians

On Grammarians1

I. The study of Grammar was not even pursued at Rome in early days, still less held in any esteem; and naturally enough, since the state was then still uncultivated and given to war, and had as yet little leisure for liberal pursuits. The beginnings of the subject, too, were humble, for the earliest teachers, who were also both poets and Italian2 Greeks (I refer to Livius and Ennius, who gave instruction in both tongues at home and abroad, as is well known), did no more than interpret the Greeks or give readings from whatever they themselves had composed in the Latin language. For while some tell us that this same Ennius published a book “On Letters and Syllables” and another “On Metres,” Lucius Cotta is right in maintaining that these were not the work of the poet, but of a later Ennius, who is also the author of the volumes “On the Science of Augury.”

II. In my opinion, then, the first to introduce the study of grammar into our city was Crates of Mallos, a contemporary of Aristarchus. He was sent to the senate by king Attalus between the second and third Punic wars, at about the time when Ennius died;3 and having fallen into the

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.suetonius-lives_illustrious_men_grammarians_rhetoricians_grammarians.1914