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Certain Calvisius Sabinus

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Roman copy of a Hellenistic sculpture  from the 2nd century BCE depicting Homer
Roman copy of a Hellenistic sculpture from the 2nd century BCE showing Homer.

Seneca the Younger, a Roman philosopher and writer from the 1st century CE, mentions in his letters Calvisius Sabinus – a wealthy and respected Roman who had such a bad memory that he couldn’t even remember the names of Homeric heroes.

Calvisius, however, wanted to pass as an educated and well-read person at banquets, so he ordered his slaves to memorize entire Greek works.

Each of them was a specialist in a different work. In total, the Romans had 11 slaves who could “throw” him an interesting quote from Homer, Hesiod or others during a chic dinner.

  • McKeown J. C., A Cabinet of Roman Curiosities: Strange Tales and Surprising Facts from the World's Greatest Empire, 2010

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