Asconius

Asconius

Q. Asconius Pedianus was a scholar and commentary writer in the first century CE.

Life

Jerome says that he “obtained fame” at 73 years of age in 76 CE, which makes his birth 3 CE. Some have argued, without any external evidence, that Jerome likely confused dates, and that Asconius died in 76 CE, but there is no reason to believe this.

Asconius’ use noster (“our”) to describe Livy has led some scholars to believe he was also born in Patavium (mod. Padua). Very little else is known of his life, though his detailed knowledge of Rome makes it likely he lived in the capital. Similarly, his knowledge of Senatorial procedures and practices indicate he was likely a Senator. He died in 88, having been blind for 12 years.

Works

Most of Asconius’ works are lost. The only surviving work is a collection of commentaries on five speeches of Cicero: In Pisonem, Pro Scauro, Pro Milone, Pro Cornelio, and In Toga Candida. The latter two speeches of Cicero have been lost, and so scholars have to rely on Asconius’ commentary to reconstruct their contents. His commentaries are generally defensive of Cicero, who had suffered in popularity during the middle of the first century CE. Unfortunately, the text is incomplete both as it is and as other commentaries of his other speeches have not survived.

He apparently wrote a biography of Sallust (Vita Salustii) and a defense of Vergil.

Online Texts

Latin: PHI Latin Texts

Books and Articles

  1. Jill Harries 2006. Asconius. Oxford.
  2. Simon Squires 2006. Asconius. Bolchazy-Carducci.