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Aulus GelliusAn Antonine Scholar and his Achievement$
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Leofranc Holford-Strevens

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199263196

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199263196.001.0001

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Roman Orators and Poets

Roman Orators and Poets

(p.193) 11 Roman Orators and Poets
Aulus Gellius

Leofranc Holford-Strevens

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers Gellius as a critic of Latin literature. He reviews the ascription of comedies to Plautus, but gives more attention to comparative reading: Gaius Gracchus is found wanting beside Cicero and Cato the Elder; Roman imitations of Greek are judged rather as exercises in translation than as creative literature. However, not only Cato and Cicero but also Vergil are vigorously defended against criticism; but unlike rhetoricians, Gellius is less interested in Cicero's courtroom tactics than in his mastery of language, and, unlike Fronto, he takes little notice of the letters. Vergil apart, he ignores Imperial literature, but finds much to praise in Republican orators and poets, not least love-poets, though his critical vocabulary (when he offers reasons) is restricted. He insists that archaisms should be admitted only if comprehensible.

Keywords:   archaisms, Cato the Elder, Cicero, comparative reading, critical vocabulary, Gaius Gracchus, love-poets, Plautus, translation, Vergil

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