Marcus Cornelius Fronto Analysis


(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

After completing his education in Rome, Marcus Cornelius Fronto (FRAHN-toh) became a leading orator and civil servant under Hadrian. Although he is famous for his speeches, only fragments of them have survived, and for centuries he was praised on the basis of sparse evidence. In 138 c.e., he was chosen by Antoninus Pius to tutor princes Lucius Verus and Marcus Aurelius in Latin and oratory. In 1815, his letters to and from his pupils, their parents, and certain friends were found in Rome, and they form the basis of the modern study of Fronto. Filled with details of contemporary life, they demonstrate Fronto’s own distinctive tastes and antipathies in literature. Ancient locutions attracted him, and he preferred older authors such as Plautus, Quintus Ennius, Gnaeus Naevius, and Cato the Censor. Although the letters are often overly affectionate, they point to Fronto’s interest in making his charges men of action and his distaste for Marcus’s preoccupation with Stoicism.


(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

In Fronto is preserved a window into the Antonine period. His philological interests have also preserved valuable evidence from earlier authors.

Additional Resources

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Champlin, Edward. Fronto and Antonine Rome. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1980.

Ronnick, Michele Valerie. “Substructural Elements of Architectonic Rhetoric and Philosophical Thought in Fronto’s Letters.” In Roman Eloquence, edited by William J. Dominik. New York: Routledge, 1997.

Van den Hout, Michel P. J. A Commentary on the Letters of M. Cornelius Fronto. Boston: E. J. Brill, 1999.