In ancient education, controversia was a form of declamation which engaged students in discussion of a fictional judicial case. As the apex of rhetorical training, it provided a high level of proficiency in composition and delivery techniques, and every young man of the Roman upper-class had to deal with this exercise and its deliberative counterpart (suasoria). This article explores the role of controversia within the didactic programme devised by Cornelius Fronto for Marcus Aurelius’ education. After an account of ‘indirect’ approaches to declamation, I will analyse the themes of controversia assigned by Fronto, outlining their historical and rhetorical background.

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