Marcus Aurelius in Love

Marcus Aurelius in Love

Marcus Aurelius and Marcus Cornelius Fronto

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226713007

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

In 1815 a manuscript containing one of the long-lost treasures of antiquity was discovered—the letters of Marcus Cornelius Fronto, reputed to have been one of the greatest Roman orators. But this find disappointed many nineteenth-century readers, who had hoped for the letters to convey all of the political drama of Cicero's. That the collection included passionate love letters between Fronto and the future emperor Marcus Aurelius was politely ignored—or concealed. And for almost 200 years these letters have lain hidden in plain sight. This book rescues these letters from obscurity and returns them to the public eye. The story of Marcus and Fronto began in 139 ce, when Fronto was selected to instruct Marcus in rhetoric. Marcus was eighteen then, and by all appearances the pupil and teacher fell in love. Spanning the years in which the relationship flowered and died, these are the only love letters to survive from antiquity—homoerotic or otherwise. The translation reproduces the effusive, slangy style of the young prince and the rhetorical flourishes of his master.