Saturday, February 26, 2022

The Showdown between the Intersex Scholar Favorinus and The Roman Emperor Hadrian, SHA Vit. Hadr. XIV.10-13

10. Et quamvis esset oratione et versu promptissimus et in omnibus artibus peritissimus, tamen professores omnium artium semperut doctior risit, contempsit, obtrivit. 11 Cum his ipsis professoribus et philosophis libris vel carminibus invicem editis saepe certavit. 12 Et Favorinus quidem, cum verbum eius quondam ab Hadriano reprehensum esset atque ille cessisset, arguentibus amicis, quod male cederet, Hadriano de verbo, quod idonei auctores usurpassent, risum iocundissimum movit; 13 ait enim : "non recte suadetis, familiares, qui non patiminime illum doctiorem omnibus credere, qui habet triginta legiones." 

--SHA Hadriani XV.10-13

Hadrian was talented in public speaking and poetry, as well as all of the liberal arts, but he used to mock, criticize, and bully professors of every kind, as if he knew more than them. He often used to challenge these professors and philosophers by publishing little books or poems and they, in turn, would publish a response. This even happened to Favorinus [one of his dearest friends*].

When Hadrian criticized him for using a certain word, Favorinus bowed out of the argument. When his friends challenged this, since the term that Hadrian had criticized was used by Classical authors, Favorinus let them in on a little joke. He said, “Buddies, that's terrible advice: just let the guy who has thirty legions believe that he is the smartest man of all.”


* Later in the same text [XVI.10], Favorinus is listed as one of the emperor's dearest friends: in summa familiaritate Epictetum et Heliodorum philosophos et, ne nominatim de omnibus dicam, grammaticos, rhetores, musicos, geometras, pictores, astrologos habuit, prae ceteris, ut multi adserunt, eminente Favorino.



Name:  ???

Date:  4th c. CE

Works:  Historia Augusta





 Little is known about the author(s) of the Historia Augusta; even internal evidence within the text is either falsified, skewed or utterly fictitious. Although attributed to six different authors, the text was likely written by a single author living during the 4th century CE. It is a series of imperial biographies modeled after the works of Suetonius; these biographies cover the reigns of the emperors Hadrian through Carus.



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