This paper deals with the reality of pedagogues in the Roman Empire. It
aims at the fullest survey of the literary source material given up till now, but
also takes into account epigraphical, papyrological, and iconographical sources.
The study is mainly concerned with the level of discourse, confronting us
chiefly with ancient preoccupations and anxieties. On the one hand educators
could be depicted as brutal rascals because they were considered socially inferior.
Since, however, a fundamental contradiction was experienced between the
hope of a future of government and the slave-like way free boys were treated
by their educators, a whole discourse of differential equations was created to
the extent that the latter were temporarily upgraded to figures of authority
with almost parental airs of concern. In studying this positive and negative
picturing of Roman pedagogues, I make use of the concept of differential
equations, as applied by Joshel and Murnaghan concerning women and slaves
in Antiquity. Finally, I present a text by Libanius, which has never been included
in the discussion, but offers an almost unique synthesis of ancient thinking