chapter  4
20 Pages

The Education of an Heir Apparent

BY A FORTUNATE chance the correspondence between Fronto and Marcus has been preserved. Although few of the letters are precisely dated, they give a rare insight into the education of a future ruler. In one of the later letters in the collection, written when Marcus was already emperor, Fronto recalls the early days of their association. ‘Do you remember that speech of yours which you delivered in the senate when you were scarcely more than a boy? You used in it the simile of “a leather bottle” to illustrate a point, and were very anxious in case you had made use of a linguistic image little suited to the dignity of the place and of a senator. I wrote that first fairly long letter to you, and in it I said that I inferred from this – quite rightly, in fact – that it was a sign of great ability to meet the dangers involved in expressing thoughts of that kind with boldness; but that you would rise to what was needed, by your own study and with help from me, namely, to the command of language sufficiently luminous to match such great thoughts.’1