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Quintilian, Seneca, Imitatio: Re-Reading Institutio Oratoria 10.1.125-31


Quintilian's assessment of Seneca at Institutio Oratoria 10.1.125–31 has often been read as a diatribe against Seneca. However, in this paper I assert that the passage reveals more about Quintilian's construction of authority than his opinion of Seneca. I read the assessment as an imitation of Seneca's Epistulae Morales 114. The imitation establishes Quintilian's authority over his readers and Seneca, and thus reduplicates the stratification that rhetorical education claims to overcome. I also suggest that the use of methods of analysis traditionally applied to didactic poetry is productive in the consideration of authority in rhetorical textbooks such as Quintilian's.