Anthony DiRenzo

Anthony DiRenzo

Professor, Department of Writing
Faculty, School of Humanities and Sciences

His Master's Voice

The foundation for Rome’s imperial bureaucracy was laid during the first century B.C., when functional and administrative writing played an increasingly dominant role in the Late Republic. During the First and Second Triumvirates, Roman society, once primarily oral, relied more and more on documentation to get its official business done. By the reign of Augustus, the orator had ceded power to the secretary, usually a slave trained as a scribe or librarian. This cultural and political transformation can be traced in the career of Marcus Tullius Tiro (104-4 B.C.), Cicero’s confidant and amanuensis. A Greek freedman credited with the invention of classical short hand (the notae Tironianae), Tiro transcribed and edited Cicero’s speeches, composed, collected, and eventually published his voluminous correspondence, and organized and managed his archives and library. As his former master's fortune sank with the dying Republic, Tiro’s began to rise. After Cicero’s assassination, he became the orator's literary executor and biographer. His talents were always in demand under the new bureaucratic regime, and he prospered by producing popular grammars and secretarial manuals. He died a wealthy centenarian and a full Roman citizen.

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