November 9, 2010

Tullius Tiro

Cicero had a slave named Tiro. Tiro was Cicero's secretary, confidant, right-hand man, editor, and after Cicero's death, the publisher of a number of Cicero's speeches (and thus, although you may not yet believe me, we are substantially indebted to the man). He also wrote a biography of Cicero, a book on grammar and a book on philosophical questions. He also invented a type of shorthand. Cicero, his brother and his children were very close to Tiro. When Tiro was ill, Cicero worried and fretted over him like a nervous hen. Cicero's son, Marcus, wrote to Tiro whenever he was in hot water with the old man, suggesting a relationship we would find more between an indulgent uncle and nephew, rather than that between a young lord and family slave. In 53 BCE, Cicero freed Tiro. On the occasion, his brother Quintus wrote Cicero a letter of congratulations: "I am truly grateful for what you have done about Tiro, in judging his former condition to be below his deserts and preferring us to have him as a friend rather than a slave. Believe me, I jumped for joy when I read your letter and his. Thank you, and congratulations." [Tr. K. Bradley, Slavery and Society at Rome]. Scholars believe that Tiro may have turned 50 on the day he was freed.

Roman Civilization
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