heredes principis I
In the Emperors palace two boys are busy in the study of literature. One boy, whose name is
Titus, is trying to tell a story; the other, whose name is Publius, is listening closely. Also present is the boys teacher,
Marcus Fabius Quintilian. Titus and Publius, the sons of Clemens and the brothers of Polla, recently were made heirs of
Titus: (telling the story) Then Jupiter, king of Gods, very much offended a man who was wicked, decided
to destroy the human race. First, it was decided that a thunderbolt would spread across the sky, and Jupiter hesitated.
"For if," he said, "the flames come through the sky to terrify, would surely destroy him and others?"
He preferred to put a different on punishment. He decided to send huge rain clouds down from the sky, so everyone would
drown in a flood.
While Titus is telling his story, the door is opened suddenly. Epaphroditus enters. The boys look
at each other anxiously; Quintilian, who hates Epaphroditus, nevertheless greets him in a friendly way.
are glad to see you, Epaphro-
Epaphroditus: (interrupting) Hello, boys. Hello you, M. Fabius. I am sent to announce
the Emperors orders. The Emperor ordered you to hurry quickly.
Quintilian: Your words, my Epaphroditus, I dont understand.
Why are we sent to the Emperor?
Epaphroditus, giving no response, lead the boys and Quintilian through the palace to
the Emperors study. The boys, affected by fear, hesitated outside the study.
Quintilian: (hiding his fear) Why were
you disturbed, boys?
Publius: We were disturbed for a good reason. Without a doubt, the Emperor will punish or scold
Quintilian: Do not be afraid, Publius. If you behave sensibly, you will neither be scolded or punished.
heredes principis II
Once Quintilian and the boys have entered the study, they find Domitian sitting at a table and
trying to stab files with a stylus. Domitian doesn't look up and doesn't say a thing. The boys are turning pale.
(finally looking up) Don't be afraid, boys. I'm not going to punish you- unless you displease me. (He stabs another fly;
finally he puts the stylus down and suddenly questions the boys:) How long now have you been students of Marcus Fabius?
(haltingly) Tw-Two months, master.
Domitian: Therefore its time for us to find out what you have learned. (Turning suddenly
to Publius) Publius, what were you being taught yesterday?
Publius: Master, we were reading certain verses, which the
poet Ovid wrote about that famous flood.
Domitian: Ovid? That poet was really eloquent. However, he was tightly exiled
from Italy; for he not only lived an immoral life, but also offended the emperor. (Epaphroditus smiles.) So, after reading
the poetry of Ovid yesterday, what are you doing today?
Publius: Today we are trying to tell the same story in our own
words and in prose speech, not in verse.
Quintilian: When you called for us, master, Titus was about to tell the story
about Jupiter's anger.
Domitian: Obviously a most suitable story! I would like to hear it. Titus, resume your narration!
Titus: (hesitantly resuming his narration) Therefore, Jupiter confined the north wind in the cave of Aeoliis, and set
the south wind free. It flew out with soaking wet wings; his beard weighed down by clouds, waves flowed through his hair.
At the same time as the south wind flew out, a thick rain-cloud came down from the sky with water pouring out. But his anger
was so great, that the sky wasnt satisfied, so he called on his brother Neptune. When he struck the ground with his trident,
it trembled greatly and opened a path for the water to flow through. At once the huge rivers flow through the open fields.
Domitian: Youve told enough (of the story), Titus. Now, Publius, you take over the narration.
Publius: The rivers
rushed in so quickly that there were no shores. The men tried to escape. Some climbed the mountains; others sat in ships
and rowed through the fields, which were recently plowed. This man was sailing over the rooftops of submerged houses; that
man finds fish in the highest trees. Wolves were swimming among the sheep and the tawny lions were being carried in the waves.
Birds, after searching for land, on which they could sit down, began to fall into the water.
As Publius is telling this
story, Domitian signals him with his hand to stop. He is quiet a long time while the boys wait anxiously; finally, he speaks.
Domitian: Publius and Titus, you are fortunate; for, as is proper for heirs of the Emperor, you are being educated by
an excellent teacher, who has put in front of you the best examples. Boys, if you present your cases as eloquently as Ovid
wrote his verses, you will be praised by everyone.
Titus: (his fear over now) Arent you forgetting one thing, master?
We are your heirs; therefore, when we have pleaded our cases, surely we will leave the courtroom as winners not often but
always and be praised by everyone?
Quintilian turns red. Domitian, stunned by the boldness of Titus, says nothing. Finally,
smiling or pretending to smile, he sends the boys and their teacher away. And then he picks up his stylus again and begins
trying to catch flies once more.