Saturday, October 8, 2022

They were Roommates? Suetonius on the life of Hyginus, de Gram. 20.1-3

Roman men often had deep, loving and affectionate friendships with their peers. There was no shame or stigma in expressing love and support to one another.

  C. Iulius Hyginus Augusti libertus, natione Hispanus,—nonnulli Alexandrinum putant et a Caesare puerum Romam adductum Alexandria capta—studiose et audiit et imitatus est Cornelium Alexandrum grammaticum Graecum quem propter antiquitatis notitiam Polyhistorem multi, quidam Historiam vocabant. Praefuit Palatinae bibliothecae nec eo secius plurimos docuit fuitque familiarissimus Ovidio poetae et Clodio Licino consulari historico qui eum admodum pauperem decessisse tradit et liberalitate sua quoad vixerit sustentatum. Huius libertus fuit Iulius Modestus in studiis atque doctrina vestigia patroni secutus.

--Suetonius,de Grammaticis 20.1-3


Caius Julius Hyginus, one of Augustus’ freedmen, was from Hispania [modern Spain].  Some think that he was actually from Alexandria [modern Egypt], and brought to Rome as a boy by Caesar after the fall of Alexandria. He studied under the Greek scholar Cornelius Alexander (whom many called the Scholar because of his vast knowledge of history), then followed in his footsteps. He was in charge of the Palatine library, and despite this, still had the time to teach many people. He was very close friends with the poet Ovid and Clodius Licinius, the former consul and historian who, after Hyginus fell into poverty, supported him financially for as long as he lived. Hyginus’ freedman was Julius Modestus, a scholar who followed in his patron’s footsteps in both education and area of expertise.



Name:  Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus

Date:  69 – 122 CE

Works:  de Vitis Caesarum, de Grammaticis, etc.



Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans



 Suetonius was a Roman biographer from Numidia (modern Algeria). He is known for his work the de Vitis Caesarum, a collection of biographies on the first twelve Roman emperors.


Early Roman Lit: through 2nd c BCE: Republican Rome: through 1st c. BCE; Golden Age: 70 BCE to 18 CE; Silver Age: 18 CE to 150 CE; Age of Conflict: 150 CE - 410 CE; Byzantine and Late Latin: after 410 CE


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