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Quintilians Institutio oratoria in the manuscript Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana , Plut. 46.12, fol. 1r, from 1476
Quintilians Institutio oratoria in the manuscript Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vaticanus Palatinus lat. 1556, fol. 1r (15th century)
Bust of Quintilians in Ulm Minster , around 1470
Idealized representation of Quintilian teaching rhetoric (copperplate engraving, 1720)

Quintilian (with full name Marcus Fabius Quintilianus ; * around 35 in Calagurris , † around 96 ) was a Roman teacher of rhetoric . His work, which was influential in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance , moved back into the focus of scientific reception in the middle of the 20th century, after turning away from logicism based on argumentation theory .

life and work

Quintilian trained in Rome with Quintus Remmius Palaemon and Gnaeus Domitius Afer . After returning to his homeland, he accompanied the Spanish governor Galba, who was appointed emperor, to Rome in 68 AD . Here he initially worked as a lawyer and speech teacher; u. a. the younger Pliny and Juvenal were his pupils. His fame earned him the consularia ornamenta , the highest honor a non-senator could receive under Emperor Domitian .

When Vespasian set up public rhetoric schools in Rome, Quintilian became the first state-paid teacher of rhetoric in Rome . After teaching for 20 years, Quintilian retired. From about 90 he continued to work as tutor of Vespasian the Younger at Domitian's imperial court . At the same time he wrote his main work, the Institutio oratoria (instruction in rhetoric) in twelve books, which at the same time has a comprehensive educational concern. Starting with elementary training, it systematically covers the entire field of rhetoric. Quintilian was influenced by the eloquence and style of Cicero . He saw in Cicero the model of the speaker and stylist and the embodiment of his ideal of education.

He pursued a natural language and criticized the artificial rhetoric of his time, thus, in connection with the Asianism / Atticism debate at the time of Cicero, like the latter, represented a moderate Rhodian middle position. Quintilian's own speeches and other writings are lost. The theses of his pamphlet De causis corruptae eloquentiae (On the causes of the decline of eloquence) can, however, be roughly reconstructed from allusions of the Institutes and in Tacitus ' Dialogus de oratoribus (Dialogue about the speakers).

The important main work, which is characterized by extensive personal experience, had a strong impact on the humanists and represents the basis of Ciceronianism , which has remained in effect until more recently . Book 10 of the work offers an outline of Greek and Roman literary history with balanced characteristics and fine criticism . However, it must be noted that the Greek and Roman authors are judged according to how exemplary they are for the young speaker who is in training: Quintilian does not give an abstract aesthetic classification, but rather assesses the usefulness that the reading of the authors has on the style of the rhetoric student might have.

Two works Declamationes handed down under Quintilian's name probably come from his school. They contain a collection of practice speeches. The pupils were supposed to develop their acuteness and their sense of language in a fictitious, mostly downright absurd legal case in accordance with a teaching form typical of the time (which Quintilian himself sharply criticized!) In an indictment and defense speech.

About education

“In this way, the father should have the highest hopes for his child immediately after the birth, the more he will look after the child. It is always said that very few people have enough intelligence and talent, that most are mentally so weak and lethargic that an education is not worthwhile at all. But that is fundamentally wrong; rather, the greater part of people is naturally receptive and willing to learn. This is as natural for a human as flying is for a bird. Mentally non-educable people are just as rare as the physically severely disabled. Of course, there are times when children do not develop according to initial expectations. This is not the fault of the natural environment, but the lack of care and support. "

- On the training of the speaker, chap. 1, beginning

“Learning is like bitter medicine; it is easier to ingest if it is administered by a friendly hand ... The teacher should feel like a father towards his students. He takes the place of those who entrust their children to him, so he must try to win the love of the students. Nor can it be expressed in words how much easier it is for us to follow those we love ... There must be a climate of mutual respect and affection. Then the students will come to class with pleasure and full of vigor. They will not find it offensive if you improve them and will be happy if you praise them. You will be zealous in the matter and thank the teacher that he has taken it into his heart ... The children are weak and defenseless at the mercy of injustice, so no one should be granted too many rights over them. "

- Ibid.

Text editions and translations

  • M. Fabii Qvintiliani Oratoriarvm Institvtionum Lib. XII. una cum Declamationibus eiusdem argutissimis […]. Apvd Sanctam Coloniam, in aedibus Eucharij Ceruicorni, & Heronis Fuchs. MD XXI. mense Martio [= March 1521] ( digitized edition of the University and State Library Düsseldorf ).
  • M. Fabii Quintiliani Institutionis Oratoriae Liber 1 , ed. with an introduction and commentary by Francis Henry Colson. Cambridge University Press , Cambridge 1924; again ibid. 2013, ISBN 1107689066 ; and Olms, Hildesheim 2013, ISBN 9783487303291 (only book 1; Colson primarily provides a broad presentation of the history of reception up to 1920).
  • M. Fabi Qvintiliani Institvtionis oratoriae libri dvodecim , ed. by Michael Winterbottom ( Oxford Classical Texts ). Two volumes, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1970 (critical edition of the Latin text, essential for academic work).
  • Quintilian: On pedagogy and rhetoric. A selection from the "Institutio oratoria" , ed. and translated by Marion Giebel . Goldmann, Munich 1974 (excerpts from books 1, 2 and 10; book 12 complete; brief explanations and detailed introduction by the editor).
  • Quintiles : De l'institution oratoire. Twelve books in seven volumes, ed. by Jean Cousin and Paul Jal ( Collection des universités de France series, Série latine ). Belles lettres publishing house, Paris 1975–2000, ISBN 2251012028 (vol. 1), ISBN 2251012036 (vol. 2), etc. (detailed introductions and notes, in French).
  • Quintilian: Institutio oratoria X. Textbook of Oratory, 10th Book , ed. by Franz Loretto. Reclam, Stuttgart 1995, ISBN 3-15-002956-2 (Latin and German, with commentary).
  • Quintilian: The Orator's Education , ed. by Donald A. Russell ( Loeb Classical Library Series ). Revised edition, Harvard University Press, Cambridge / MA 2001, ISBN 0674995910 (for vol. 1), etc. (extensive annotations in English).
  • Marcus Fabius Quintilianus: Training of the speaker. Twelve Books , ed. by Helmut Rahn . Fifth edition, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft , Darmstadt 2011 (Latin and German; only complete translation in German).
  • Quintilian: Pedagogical Texts from Antiquity , ed. by Walter Burnikel ( Exemplary Series Literature and Philosophy , Volume 34). Sonnenberg, Annweiler 2013, ISBN 393326474X (source collection, 20 texts from both books of the institute , newly translated by the editor, additional explanations or summaries of other sources).


  • Ludwig von Schwabe : Fabius 137) M. Fabius Quintilianus. In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume VI, 2, Stuttgart 1909, Sp. 1845-1864.
  • Josef Dolch: Curriculum of the Occident. Two and a half millennia of its history. Third edition, Henn, Ratingen 1971 (unchanged reprographic reprint Darmstadt 1982).
  • Rainer Nickel: Education and Language. Quintilian and Education. A curriculum sequence for secondary level 2. Ploetz Didaktik, Würzburg 1976, ISBN 9783876401393 .
  • Otto Seel : Quintilian or The Art of Talking and Silence. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1977 (essay, especially about the reception of the work).
  • Manfred Fuhrmann : The ancient rhetoric. An introduction . Artemis & Winkler, Munich and Zurich 1984.
  • Eckart Zundel: Teaching style and rhetorical style in Quintilian's “Institutio oratoria”. Investigations into the form of a textbook. Haag and Herchen, Hanau 1998, ISBN 3881294031 .
  • Joachim Dingel : Quintilianus [1]. In: Der Neue Pauly 10, 2001, Col. 716–721.
  • Thomas Schirren : Marcus Fabius Quintilianus. In: Wolfram Ax (ed.): Latin teachers in Europe. Fifteen portraits from Varro to Erasmus of Rotterdam. Böhlau, Cologne 2005, ISBN 3-412-14505-X , pp. 67-107.
  • Johannes Christes, Richard Klein, Christoph Lüth: Handbook of education and upbringing in antiquity. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2006, ISBN 3534158873 .
  • P. Galand, F. Hallyn, C. Lévy and W. Verbaal (eds.): Quintilien ancien et modern. Etudes réunies. Brepols Publishing, Turnhout 2010, ISBN 978-2-503-52865-6 .
  • Marc van der Poel: Quintilianism . In: Gert Ueding (Hrsg.): Historical dictionary of rhetoric . Vol. 10. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2011, Sp. 997-1016.
  • Wilfried Stroh : The power of speech. A little history of rhetoric in ancient Greece and Rome . List, Berlin 2011, ISBN 3548610110 .
  • Michael von Albrecht : History of Roman literature from Andronicus to Boethius and its continued effect . Volume 2. Third, improved and expanded edition. De Gruyter, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-11-026525-5 , pp. 1066-1076.
  • Karl-Wilhelm Weeber : Learning and Suffering. School in ancient Rome. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2014, ISBN 3806228957 .
  • Florens Deuchler : Quintilian. Post-ancient traces of the “Institutio oratoria”. Conjectures about the libro dell'arte by Cennini. Notes on Sulzer's theory. Peter Lang, Bern 2017, ISBN 978-3-0343-2675-9 .


  • Eckart Zundel: Clavis Quintilianea. Quintilian's “Institutio oratoria” (speaker training) broken down into rhetorical terms. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1989, ISBN 3-534-07322-3 (index of terms for the Quintilian edition by Rahn).

Web links

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