Marcus Cornelius Fronto

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Marcus Cornelius Fronto (* around 100; † around 170) was a Roman grammarian, rhetorician and lawyer.


Fronto was born in Cirta in Numidia into a family from Italy. His brother was Quintus Cornelius Quadratus . Fronto came to Rome during the reign of Emperor Hadrian and quickly gained such a reputation as a lawyer and speaker that it was believed that he was only below Marcus Tullius Cicero . He amassed a great fortune, had great buildings built and bought the famous Maecenas Gardens . Emperor Antoninus Pius made him a teacher to his adopted sons Mark Aurel and Lucius Verus after hearing of his fame.

Two military diplomas, dated August 1, 142, prove that Fronto 142 was a suffect consul with Gaius Laberius Priscus ; the two held the office for two months (July and August). However, he refused the post of proconsul of Asia because of his health. In the Attic Nights of Aulus Gellius , Frontos Fußleiden repeatedly plays a role. His later years were overshadowed by the loss of all but one daughter of his children. His talent as a speaker and rhetorician was greatly admired by his contemporaries. Some of them even founded a school called Frontoniani after him , whose declared aim was to restore the old purity and clarity of the Latin language against the exaggerations of the Greek sophistic school.


Until 1815, the only remaining works that were also erroneously attributed to Fronto were two grammatical treatises: De nominum verborumque differentiis and Exempla elocutionum (the second is actually by Arusianus Messius ). That year Angelo Mai discovered in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan a palimpsest (and later some supplementary sheets in the Vatican ) on which some of Fronto's letters to his imperial students and their replies were originally written. This palimpsest originally belonged to the famous convent of St. Columban of Luxeuil in Bobbio and was overwritten by the monks with the results of the first council of Chalcedon .

The letters were published together with the other fragments in the Palimpsest in Rome in 1823. Its content, however, does not match the fame that Fronto enjoyed. The letters are correspondence with Antoninus Pius, Mark Aurel and Lucius Verus, in which the character of Fronto's students appears in a very favorable light, especially in the affection they both had for their old teacher, as well as letters to friends, especially letters of recommendation . The collection also includes treatises on eloquence, some historical fragments and literary trifles on subjects such as the praise of smoke and dust, negligence, and a dissertation by Arion of Lesbos .

According to older opinions, his main merit is to have received extracts from old writers that would otherwise have been lost. Today's research sees its influence on the development of the Latin language often more positively.


  • Michael PJ van den Hout (Ed.): M. Cornelii Frontonis Epistulae . Teubner, Leipzig 1988, ISBN 3-322-00448-1 .


Overview representations

  • Michael von Albrecht : History of Roman literature from Andronicus to Boethius and its continued effect . Volume 2. 3rd, improved and expanded edition. De Gruyter, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-11-026525-5 , pp. 1229-1232
  • Richard Goulet: Fronton (M. Cornelius). In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques . Volume 3, CNRS Éditions, Paris 2000, ISBN 2-271-05748-5 , pp. 428-430
  • Klaus Sallmann : M. Cornelius Fronto. In: Klaus Sallmann (ed.): The literature of upheaval. From Roman to Christian literature, AD 117 to 284 (= Handbook of Ancient Latin Literature , Volume 4). CH Beck, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-406-39020-X , pp. 281-292


  • Michael PJ van den Hout: A commentary on the letters of M. Cornelius Fronto . Brill, Leiden et al. 1999, ISBN 90-04-10957-9 .
  • Frédéric Le Blay: Le lieu de la douleur: le cinquième livre de la correspondance entre Fronton et Marc Aurèle. In: La souffrance physique dans l'Antiquité: théories et représentations, ed. v. Jean-Christophe Courtil, Toulouse 2012, 103–112.


  • Edward Champlin : Fronto and Antonine Rome . Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Massachusetts) 1980, ISBN 0-674-32668-7 .
  • Ségolène Demougin : L'éducation d'un prince: Fronton et Marc Aurèle. In: L'étude des correspondances dans le monde romain de l'Antiquité classique à l'Antiquité tardive. Permanences et mutations. Actes du XXXe colloque international de Lille, 20–22 November 2008, ed. Janine Desmulliez, Christine Hoët-van Cauwenberghe and Jean-Christophe Jolivet, Lille 2010, 25–38.
  • Pascale Fleury: Lectures de Fronton. Un rhéteur latin à l'époque de la Seconde Sophistique , Paris 2006.
  • Pascale Fleury: Pascale, L'orateur et le consul: Fronton conseiller du Prince. In: Action politique et histoire. Le narrateur homme d'action. Actes du colloque, Besançon, 16 au 18 octobre 2008, ed. Marie-Rose Guelfucci, Trois-Rivières 2010 (= CEA 47, 2010), 457-474.
  • William A. Johnson: Readers and Reading Culture in the High Roman Empire. A Study of Elite Communities , Oxford 2010, v. a. 137–156: chap. 7. Fronto and Aurelius. Contubernium and Solitary Reader.
  • Christoph Tobias Kasulke: Fronto, Marc Aurel and no conflict between rhetoric and philosophy in the 2nd century AD (= contributions to antiquity . Volume 218). Saur, Munich et al. 2005, ISBN 3-598-77830-9 .
  • Wytse Keulen: Mark Aurel, the philologist emperor. The literaryization of philology in Fronto's correspondence. In: Philology on the second level. Literary receptions and stagings of Hellenistic erudition , ed. Gregor Bitto / Anna Ginestí Rosell, Stuttgart 2019, 201–231.
  • Bernd Manuwald : Marc Aurel and his teacher Fronto: Philosophy vs. Rhetoric? In: Self-Contemplations and Self-Representations. The philosopher and emperor Marc Aurel in an interdisciplinary light. Files of the Interdisciplinary Colloquium Cologne 23rd to 25th July 2009, ed. Marcel van Ackeren et al. Jan Opsomer, Wiesbaden 2012, 285–308.

Web links


  1. Military diplomas of the year 142 ( RMD 4, 264 , RMD 5, 392 ).
  2. Paul Holder : Roman Military Diplomas V (= Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies Supplement 88), Institute of Classical Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, London 2006, pp. 802–803, no. 392, note. 5.
  3. Werner Eck : The Fasti consulares of the reign of Antoninus Pius. An inventory since Géza Alföldy's consulate and senatorial status In: Studia Epigraphica in memoriam Géza Alföldy, Bonn 2013, ISBN 978-3-7749-3866-3 , pp. 69–90, here p. 73 ( online ).
  4. On the dating: Werner Eck : M. Cornelius Fronto, teacher Marc Aurels, consul suffectus in year 142 . In: Rheinisches Museum für Philologie , Volume 141, 1998, pp. 193–196 ( online; PDF ).
  5. ^ Aulus Gellius: Attic Nights . 1875, 2.26.1 .