Biography of Quinto Asconio Pedano (ca. 3-88)


Grammarian and the first century AD Roman scholar, author of comments to speeches of Cicero. The dates of his birth and death are discussed. Jerome, in his Chronicle, claims with regard to 76 A.d. Asconio became blind at the age of 72 and who lived for 12 years more. Modern critics doubt if this year 76 would correspond to the date of death or blindness Asconio. With the first hypothesis, the life of Asconio would cover the fork 9-76; with the second (most likely), I would go 3 to 88.

He was a native of Padua (then called "countryman" - Livius noster - to Tito Livio). It is ignored if it developed a public career, although he/she knew the Senate practice. It must have live long in Rome, suggests his deep knowledge of the city.

Cicero comments

Asconio wrote between 54 and 57 A.d. philological reviews speeches of Cicero, dedicated to his two sons, as text of public life (a motivation similar to that which led to Seneca the rhetor to write their disputes, devoted to their three children). Ignored all comments that Asconio wrote (must have been numerous), but have come down to our five days: In Pisonem, Pro Scaurus, Pro Milone, Pro Cornelio and In Toga Candida (the fact that the two latest speeches of Cicero not have been preserved, gives so Asconio comment is a valuable source for its reconstruction). Asconio was proposed to follow the generic framework of Didimo comment to Demosthenes.

Asconio comment is more historical than philological character (that is, linguistic and literary). Its notes are based on sources reliable and varied, namely: the Acta populi Romani (for speeches composed after the 59 ad) and works of the own Cicero today lost. In general, modern criticism appreciated the accuracy and the critical spirit of Asconio as source of first-hand about Cicero.

Other works

A Asconio attributed to other works now lost, and of which we know little, except the titles: 1) Vita Nemlichen; (2) against obstrectatores Vergilii ("cons critics of Virgil"); 3) and Symposium or longaevorum laude ("praise of the ancients"). On the other hand, the manuscristos preserve also a grammatical notes to Divinatio in Caecilium and Verrinas of Cicero, that surely aren't Asconio work, but a compilation of the V century AD.

Evaluation and survival

The Roman Philology directed to the study of Latin texts (not Greek) reaches its full maturity in time flavia (80-96 A.d.), being its exponents M. Valerio Probo and Quintilian, but had substantial precedent during the augustea (with Cecilio Epirota and HYGINUS, grammarians studying Virgil) and in the first half of the 1st century AD, period to which belongs the Remio Palemón and Asconio production. The work of Asconio fits, then, in a tradition of a century of Philology applied to Latin literature. On the other hand, Cicero de Asconio comments anticipate a major "revival" of the work and figure of Cicero, which took place in the Flavian period, from Vespasiano (80 A.d.). So explains Asconio comments, composed in the middle of the century, provided him great fame and prestige by his contemporaries during the last of his life.

The work of Asconio, ignored during late Antiquity and the middle ages, was discovered by the Italian humanist Poggio Bracciolini, who found a manuscript containing it at the monastery of Saint-Gall in 1416. Our knowledge of the text of Asconio depends on three copies that were made of the manuscript found by Poggio (now lost). One of the three copies is in the National Library of Madrid. Today Asconio is only an object of scholarship for specialists, as a source for the study of Cicero.


Clark, BC, Q. Asconii Pediani Ciceronis Orationum quinque enarratio, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1907 (Latin text)...

Marshall, B. A., A Historical Commentary on Asconius, Missouri: Univ. of Missouri Press, 1985.

Mazzarino, a., Grammaticae Romanae fragmenta aetatis Caesarae, Torino: Loescher, 1955, 155-166.