Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (c. 35 – c. 100 CE) was a Roman rhetorician from Hispania, widely referred to in medieval schools of rhetoric and in Renaissance writing. In English translation, he is usually referred to as Quintilian (), although the alternate spellings of Quintillian and Quinctilian are occasionally seen, the latter in older texts.〔http://www.pearltrees.com/#/N-f=1_6721279&N-fa=5997373&N-p=62584516&N-play=0&N-s=1_6721279&N-u=1_789406〕
Quintilian was born c. 35 in ''Calagurris'' (Calahorra, La Rioja) in Hispania. His father, a well-educated man, sent him to Rome to study rhetoric early in the reign of Nero. While there, he cultivated a relationship with Domitius Afer, who died in 59. "It had always been the custom … for young men with ambitions in public life to fix upon some older model of their ambition … and regard him as a mentor" (Kennedy, 16). Quintilian evidently adopted Afer as his model and listened to him speak and plead cases in the law courts. Afer has been characterized as a more austere, classical, Ciceronian speaker than those common at the time of Seneca the Younger, and he may have inspired Quintilian’s love of Cicero.
Sometime after Afer's death, Quintilian returned to Hispania, possibly to practice law in the courts of his own province. However, in 68, he returned to Rome as part of the retinue of Emperor Galba, Nero's short-lived successor. Quintilian does not appear to have been a close advisor of the Emperor, which probably ensured his survival after the assassination of Galba in 69.
After Galba's death, and during the chaotic Year of the Four Emperors which followed, Quintilian opened a public school of rhetoric. Among his students were Pliny the Younger, and perhaps Tacitus. The Emperor Vespasian made him a ''consul.'' The emperor "in general was not especially interested in the arts, but … was interested in education as a means of creating an intelligent and responsible ruling class" (19). This subsidy enabled Quintilian to devote more time to the school, since it freed him of pressing monetary concerns. In addition, he appeared in the courts of law, arguing on behalf of clients.
Of his personal life, little is known. In the ''Institutio Oratoria'', he mentions a wife who died young, as well as two sons who predeceased him.
Quintilian retired from teaching and pleading in 88, during the reign of Domitian. His retirement may have been prompted by his achievement of financial security and his desire to become a gentleman of leisure. Quintilian had also survived under several emperors; the reigns of Vespasian and Titus were relatively peaceful, but Domitian was reputed to be difficult even at the best of times. Domitian’s increasing cruelty and paranoia may have prompted the rhetorician to distance himself quietly. The emperor does not appear to have taken offence; in the year 90, Quintilian was made tutor of Domitian's two grand-nephews and heirs. Even this may not have been a vote of confidence; "by the time () finished the ''Institutio Oratoria'', the two young men—potential rivals to a shaky throne—had vanished into exile" (Murphy, xx). Otherwise, Quintilian spent his retirement writing his ''Institutio Oratoria''. The exact date of his death is not known, but is believed to be sometime around 100. He does not appear to have long survived Domitian, who was assassinated in 96.
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