In 1815 Angelo Mai found a long-lost treasure of the classical world in the Ambrosian Library in Milan: a palimpsest codex containing, among other works, many of the letters of Marcus Cornelius Fronto and his correspondents, who included the emperor Marcus Aurelius. The events of Marcus's life are known mostly through much later sources, of which the best are the Historia Augusta biographies of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus and a very late condensed version of book 70 of Cassius Dio's history. The letters between Marcus and Fronto from 139 to 145 provide what appears to be direct evidence of a living relationship of some kind. The future emperor, revered as a sort of saint from antiquity onward, is exuberant, slangy, sometimes impudent, and (as he says himself in letter 37) bubbling over with love for Fronto. Were Marcus and Fronto in love? Were they lovers? This book presents only a selection of letters: all the letters from the years 139–48 that testify to the feelings of the correspondents.
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