Pliny the Younger : Letters

    - BOOK 3

Translated by J.B.Firth (1900) - a few words and phrases have been modified.

See key to translations for an explanation of the format.   Click on the L symbols to go the Latin text of each letter.

CONTENTS:   1 Calvisius   2 Maximus   3 Corellia Hispulla   4 Macrinus   5 Baebius Macer   6 Annius Severus   7 Caninius Rufus   8 Suetonius Tranquillus   9 Cornelius Minicianus   10 Vestricius Spurinna & Cottia   11 Julius Genitor   12 Catilius Severus   13 Voconius Romanus   14 Acilius   15 Silius Proculus   16 Nepos   17 Servianus   18 Curius Severus   19 Calvisius Rufus   20 Messius Maximus   21 Cornelius Priscus

[1] L   To Calvisius.

I don't think I ever spent a more delightful time than during my recent visit at Spurinna's house; indeed, I enjoyed myself so much that, if it is my fortune to grow old, there is no one whom I should prefer to take as my model in old age, as there is nothing more methodical than that time of life. Personally, I like to see men map out their lives with the regularity of the fixed courses of the stars, and especially old men. For while one is young a little disorder and rush, so to speak, is not unbecoming; but for old folks, whose days of exertion are past and in whom personal ambition is disgraceful, a placid and well-ordered life is highly suitable. That is the principle upon which Spurinna acts most religiously; even trifles, or what would be trifles were they not of daily occurrence, he goes through in fixed order and, as it were, orbit.

In the morning he keeps his couch; at the second hour he calls for his shoes and walks three miles, exercising mind as well as body. If he has friends with him the time is passed in conversation on the noblest of themes, otherwise a book is read aloud, and sometimes this is done even when his friends are present, but never in such a way as to bore them. Then he sits down, and there is more reading aloud or more talk for preference; afterwards he enters his carriage, taking with him either his wife, who is a model lady, or one of his friends, a distinction I recently enjoyed. How delightful, how charming that privacy is! What glimpses of old times one gets! What noble deeds and noble men he tells you of! What lessons you drink in! Yet at the same time it is his custom so to blend his learning with modesty that he never seems to be playing the schoolmaster. After riding seven miles he walks another mile, then he again resumes his seat or betakes himself to his room and his pen. For he composes, both in Latin and Greek, the most scholarly lyrics. They have a wonderful grace, wonderful sweetness, and wonderful humour, and the chastity of the writer enhances its charm. When he is told that the bathing hour has come - which is the ninth hour in winter and the eighth in summer - he takes a walk naked in the sun, if there is no wind. Then he plays at ball for a long spell, throwing himself heartily into the game, for it is by means of this kind of active exercise that he battles with old age. After his bath he lies down and waits a little while before taking food, listening in the meantime to the reading of some light and pleasant book. All this time his friends are at perfect liberty to imitate his example or do anything else they prefer. Then dinner is served, the table being as bright as it is modest, and the silver plain and old-fashioned; he also has some Corinthian vases in use, for which he has a taste though not a mania. The dinner is often relieved by actors of comedy, *   so that the pleasures of the table may have a seasoning of letters. Even in the summer the meal lasts well into the night, but no one finds it long, for it is kept up with such good humour and charm. The consequence is that, though he has passed his seventy-seventh year, his hearing and eyesight are as good as ever, his body is still active and alert, and the only symptom of his age is his wisdom.

This is the sort of life that I have vowed and determined to follow, and I shall enter upon it with zest as soon as my age justifies me in beating a retreat. Meanwhile, I am distracted with a thousand things to attend to, and my only solace therein is the example of Spurinna again, for he undertook official duties, held magistracies, and governed provinces as long as it became him to do so, and earned his present leisure by abundant toil. That is why I set myself the same race to run and the same goal to attain, and I now register the vow and place it in your hands, so that, if ever you see me being carried beyond the mark, you may bring me to book, quote this letter of mine against me and order me to take my ease, so soon as I shall have made it impossible for people to charge me with laziness.   Farewell.

(*)   See letter i. 15. These were probably in the nature of "readings."

[2] L   To Maximus.

I think I am justified in asking you to grant to one of my friends a favour which I should certainly have offered to friends of yours, had I the same opportunity for conferring them as you have. Arrianus Maturus is the leading man in Altinum; and when I say that, I mean not that he is the richest man there - though he possesses considerable property - but I refer to his character, to his chastity, justice, weight, and wisdom. I turn to him in business for advice, and for criticism in literary matters, for he is wonderfully loyal, straightforward, and shrewd. He has the same regard for me as you have, and I cannot conceive a more ardent affection than that. He is by no means an ambitious man, and for that reason, though he might easily have attained the highest rank in the state, he has been content to remain in the equestrian order. Yet I feel that I must do something to add to his honours and give him some token of my regard. And so I am very anxious to heap some dignity upon him, though he does not expect it, knows nothing about it, and perhaps even would rather I did not - but it must be a real distinction and one that involves no troublesome responsibilities. So I ask you to confer upon him such a favour at your earliest opportunity, and I shall be profoundly obliged to you. And he will be also, for though he does not run after honours, he welcomes them as thankfully as if his heart were set upon them.   Farewell.

[3] L   To Corellia Hispulla.

I know not whether I regarded your father, who was a man of consummate judgment and rectitude of life, with greater love or reverence, and as I have a very special regard for you for his sake and also for your own, I feel bound to desire and even to do all that lies in my power to help your son to turn out like his grandfather. *   For choice, I should prefer him to be like his grandfather on his mother's side, though his paternal grandfather was also a man of distinction and eminence, and his father and his uncle won conspicuous laurels. I feel sure that the only way to secure his growing up to be like them in all their good qualities is for him to drink deeply of the honourable arts, and the choice of a teacher from whom he may learn them is a matter of the highest importance. So far, his tender years have naturally kept him close by your side; he has had tutors at home, where there is little or no chance of his going wrong. But now his studies must take him out of doors, and we must look out for a Latin rhetorician with a good reputation for school discipline, for modesty, and above all, for good morals. For our young friend has been endowed, in addition to his other gifts of nature and fortune, with striking physical beauty, and at his slippery age we must find him not only a teacher but a guardian who will keep him straight.

Well, I fancy I can recommend to you Julius Genitor. I have a regard for him, and my affection, which was based on judgment, does not blind my judgment of him. He is without faults, a man of real character, perhaps a little over-rugged and austere for this libertine age. You can learn from others what an accomplished speaker he is, for ability to speak is an open gift and is recognised at once when the power is displayed, but a man's private life is full of deep recesses and obscure mazes. For the latter in Genitor's case you may hold me as guarantor. From a man like him your son will hear nothing but what will be to his profit; he will learn nothing of which he had better have remained in ignorance, and Genitor will remind him, as often as you or I would, of the special obligations in his case of "noblesse oblige" and the dignity of the names he has to worthily uphold. So bid him God-speed and entrust him to a tutor who will teach him morals first and eloquence afterwards, for it is but a poor thing to learn the latter without the former.   Farewell.

(*)   Corellius Rufus: for his death, see letter i. 12.

[4] L   To Macrinus.

Although my course of action was approved in general estimation and by the friends who were with me at the time, I am anxious to know what you think of it. I should have liked to have had your opinion before finally deciding, so now that the matter is over I am exceedingly keen to hear your judgment. I had run down to my Tuscan estate to lay the foundations of a public building at my own expense, *   after obtaining leave of absence as Praefect of the Treasury, when a deputation from the province of Baetica, who were about to lodge complaints against the governorship of Caecilius Classicus, petitioned the senate to appoint me to conduct their case for them. My colleagues, who are the best of fellows and devoted to my interests, pleaded the engagements and duties of the office we hold, and tried to get me off and make excuses for me. The senate passed a handsome resolution, saying that I should be allowed to champion the cause of the provincials if they succeeded in persuading me to take up the brief. Then the deputation was again introduced, when I was in my place in the senate, and asked for my assistance, appealing to my loyalty, of which they had previous experience in the action against Massa Baebius, **   and adducing their legal right to an advocate {patronus}. The senate responded to the appeal with the loud applause which usually precedes a decree of that body.

Then I rose and said: "Conscript Fathers, I beg to withdraw my plea to be excused as inadequate," and the House approved the modesty of the remark and the reason. However, I was drawn to act as I did not only by the applause of the senate, though that had great weight with me, but by a variety of other reasons, less in themselves, but all telling in the account. I remembered that our forefathers used to voluntarily undertake the championship of individual private friends who had been wronged, and so I thought that it would be shameful for me to neglect the claims of an entire people who were my friends. Moreover, when I recollected what hazards I had run for the same people of Baetica in my earlier championship of them, I thought I had better preserve their gratitude for the old favour by granting them a new one. For it is a law of nature that people soon forget an old benefit, unless you keep on renewing it by later ones, for however often you oblige them, if you refuse them one request, they only remember the refusal. Another motive was that Classicus was dead, and so there was no fear of the odium of endangering a senator, which in these cases is usually the most serious objection. I saw, therefore, that if I undertook the case I should obtain just as much kudos as if he were alive, and yet escape all odium. In short, I reckoned that if I consented to appear a third time in a brief of this kind,   I should have an easier task to excuse myself if a case turned up in which I felt I ought not to play the part of accuser. For as there is a limit to the granting of all favours, the best method of paving the way to obtain a right of refusal is by consenting to previous requests. I have now told you my reasons for acting as I did, and it is open to you to agree or dissent, but let me assure you that frank dissent will be no less agreeable to me than the sanction of your approval.   Farewell.

(*)   See letter x. 8.

(**)   In 93 A.D.; see letter vii. 33.

(†)   He had already prosecuted two provincial governors ; Baebius Massa in 93 or 94 A.D. , and Marius Priscus (see letter ii. 11) in 100 A.D. The next year, the Baetici sought his assistance to impeach Classicus, on whose trial see letter iii. 9.

[5] L   To Baebius Macer.

I was delighted to find that you are so zealous a student of my uncle's books that you would like to possess copies of them all, and that you ask me to give you a complete list of them. I will play the part of an index for you, and tell you, moreover, the order in which they were written, for this is a point that students are interested to know.

Does it surprise you that a busy man found time to finish so many volumes, many of which deal with such minute details? You will wonder the more when I tell you that he for many years pleaded in the law courts, that he died in his fifty-seventh year, and that in the interval his time was taken up and his studies were hindered by the important offices he held and the duties arising out of his friendship with the Emperors. But he possessed a keen intellect; he had a marvellous capacity for work, and his powers of application were enormous. He used to begin to study at night on the Festival of Vulcan, *   not for luck but from his love of study, long before dawn; in winter he would commence at the seventh hour or at the eighth at the very latest, and often at the sixth. He could sleep at call, and it would come upon him and leave him in the middle of his work. Before daybreak he would go to Vespasian - for he too was a night-worker - and then set about his official duties. On his return home he would again give to study any time that he had free. Often in summer after taking a meal, which with him, as in the old days, was always a simple and light one, he would lie in the sun if he had any time to spare, and a book would be read aloud, from which he would take notes and extracts. For he never read without taking extracts, and used to say that there never was a book so bad that it was not good in some passage or another. After his sun bath he usually bathed in cold water, then he took a snack and a brief nap, and subsequently, as though another day had begun, he would study till dinner-time. After dinner a book would be read aloud, and he would take notes in a cursory way. I remember that one of his friends, when the reader pronounced a word wrongly, checked him and made him read it again, and my uncle said to him, "Did you not catch the meaning?" When his friend said "yes," he remarked, "Why then did you make him turn back? We have lost more than ten lines through your interruption." So jealous was he of every moment lost.

In summer he used to rise from the dinner-table while it was still light; in winter always before the first hour had passed, as though there was a law obliging him to do so. Such was his method of living when up to the eyes in work and amid the bustle of Rome. When he was in the country the only time snatched from his work was when he took his bath, and when I say bath I refer to the actual bathing, for while he was being scraped with the strigil or rubbed down, he used to listen to a reader or dictate. When he was travelling he cut himself aloof from every other thought and gave himself up to study alone. At his side he kept a shorthand writer with a book and tablets, who wore mittens on his hands in winter, so that not even the sharpness of the weather should rob him of a moment, and for the same reason, when in Rome, he used to be carried in a litter. I remember that once he rebuked me for walking, saying, "If you were a student, you could not waste your hours like that," for he considered that all time was wasted which was not devoted to study.

Such was the application which enabled him to compile all those volumes I have enumerated, and he left me one hundred and sixty commonplace books, written on both sides of the scrolls, and in a very small handwriting, which really makes the number of the volumes considerably more. He used to say that when he was procurator in Spain he could have sold these commonplace books to Largius Licinus for four hundred thousand sesterces, and at that time they were much fewer in number. Do you not feel when you think of his voluminous writing and reading that he cannot have had any public duties to attend to, and that he cannot have been an intimate friend of the Emperors? Again, when you hear what an amount of work he put into his studies, does it not seem that he neither wrote nor read as much as he might? For his other duties might surely have prevented him from studying altogether, and a man with his application might have accomplished even more than he did. So I often smile when some of my friends call me a book-worm, for if I compare myself with him I am but a shocking idler. Yet am I quite as bad as that, considering the way I am distracted by my public and private duties? Who is there of all those who devote their whole life to literature, who, if compared with him, would not blush for himself as a sleepy-head and a lazy fellow? I have let my pen run on, though I had intended simply to answer your question and give you a list of my uncle's works; but I trust that even my letter may give you as much pleasure as his books, and that it will spur you on not only to read them, but also to compose something worthy to be compared with them.   Farewell.

(*)   The Vulcanalia were on the 23rd of August. "It was customary on this day to commence working by candlelight, which was probably considered as an auspicious beginning of the use of fire, as the day was sacred to the god of this element" (Dict. G. and R. Antiquities). The elder Pliny, we are led to suppose, did not, like other students, observe this practice once, and then leave it off. He commenced his studies by candlelight on this day, as being a convenient date, and so continued them.

[6] L   To Annius Severus,

Out of a legacy which I have come in for I have just bought a Corinthian bronze, small it is true, but a charming and sharply-cut piece of work, so far as I have any knowledge of art, and that, as in everything else perhaps, is very slight. But as for the statue in question even I can appreciate its merits. For it is a nude, and neither conceals its faults, if there are any, nor hides at all its strong points. It represents an old man in a standing posture; the bones, muscles, nerves, veins, and even the wrinkles appear quite life-like; the hair is thin and scanty on the forehead; the brow is broad; the face wizened; the neck thin; the shoulders are bowed; the breast is flat, and the belly hollow. The back too gives the same impression of age, as far as a back view can. The bronze itself, judging by the genuine colour, is old and of great antiquity. In fact, in every respect it is a work calculated to catch the eye of a connoisseur and to delight the eye of an amateur, and this is what tempted me to purchase it, although I am the merest novice. But I bought it not to keep it at home - for as yet I have no Corinthian art work in my house - but that I might put it up in my native country in some frequented place, and I specially had in mind the Temple of Jupiter. For the statue seems to me to be worthy of the temple, and the gift to be worthy of the god. So I hope that you will show me your usual kindness when I give you a commission, and that you will undertake the following for me. Will you order a pedestal to be made, of any marble you like, to be inscribed with my name and titles, if you think the latter ought to be mentioned? I will send you the statue as soon as I can find anyone who is not overburdened with luggage, or I will bring myself along with it, as I dare say you would prefer me to do. For, if only my duties allow me, I am intending to run down thither. You are glad that I promise to come, but you will frown when I add that I can only stay a few days. For the business which hitherto has kept me from getting away will not allow of my being absent any longer.   Farewell.

[7] L   To Caninius Rufus.

News has just come that Silius Italicus *   has starved himself to death at his villa near Neapolis. Ill-health was the cause assigned. He had an incurable tumour, which made him weary of life and resolved him to face death with a determination that nothing could shake, yet to his last day he was prosperous and happy, save that he lost the younger of his two children. The elder and the better of the two still survives him in prosperous circumstances and of consular rank. During Nero's reign Silius had injured his reputation, for it was thought that he voluntarily informed against people, but he had conducted himself with prudence and courtesy as one of the friends of Vitellius; he had returned from his governorship of Asia covered with glory, and he had succeeded in obliterating the stains on his character, caused by his activity in his young days, by the admirable use he made of his retirement. He ranked among the leading men of the State, though he held no official position and excited no man's envy. People paid their respects to him and courted his society, and, though he spent much of his time on his couch, his room was always full of company who were no mere chance callers, and he passed his days in learned and scholarly conversation, when he was not busy composing. He wrote verses which show abundant pains rather than genius, and sometimes he submitted them to general criticism by having them read in public.

At last he retired from the city, prompted thereto by his great age, and settled in Campania, nor did he stir from the spot, even at the accession of the new Emperor. A Caesar deserves great credit for allowing a subject such liberty, and Italicus deserves the same for venturing to avail himself of it. **   He was such a keen virtuoso   that he got the reputation of always itching to buy new things. He owned a number of villas in the same neighbourhood, and used to neglect his old ones through his passion for his recent purchases. In each he had any quantity of books, statues and busts, which he not only kept by him but even treated with a sort of veneration, especially the busts of Virgil, whose birthday he kept up far more scrupulously than he did his own, principally at Naples, where he used to approach the poet's monument as though it were a temple. In these peaceful surroundings he completed his seventy-fifth year, his health being delicate rather than weak, and just as he was the last consul appointed by Nero, so too in him died the sole survivor of all the consuls appointed by that Emperor. It is also a curious fact that, besides his being the last of Nero's consuls, it was in his term of office that Nero perished. When I think of this, I feel a sort of compassion for the frailty of humanity. For what is so circumscribed and so short as even the longest human life? Does it not seem to you as if Nero were alive only the other day? Yet of all those who held the consulship during his reign not one survives at the present moment.

But, after all, what is there remarkable in that? Not so long ago Lucius Piso, the father of the Piso who was most shamefully put to death in Africa by Valerius Festus, used to say that he did not see a single soul in the senate of all those whom he had called upon to speak during his consulship. Within such narrow limits are the powers of living of even the mightiest throng confined ††   that it seems to me the royal tears are not only excusable but even praiseworthy. For the story goes that when Xerxes cast his eyes over his enormous host, he wept to think of the fate that in such brief space would lay so many thousands low. But that is all the more reason why we should apply all the fleeting, rushing moments at our disposal, if not to great achievements - for these may be destined for other hands than ours - at least to study, and why, as long life is denied us, we should leave behind us some memorial that we have lived. I know that you need no spurring on, yet the affection I have for you prompts me even to spur a willing horse, just as you do with me. Well, it is a noble contention when friends exhort one another to work and sharpen one another's desires to win an immortal name.   Farewell.

(*)   Author of a long epic poem "Punica", on the war against Hannibal, which has survived.

(**)   It was the etiquette for a man in his position to proceed to Rome and to pay his respects to the new emperor.

(†)   φιλόκαλος, lit., "a lover of beautiful objects."

(††)   The senate at this time appears to have contained about six hundred members.

[8] L   To Suetonius Tranquillus.

It is just like your usual respectful regard for me that you beg me so earnestly to transfer the tribuneship, *   which I obtained for you from that noble man **   Neratius Marcellus, to your relative Caesennius Silvanus. I should have been delighted to see you as tribune, but I shall be equally pleased to see another take the post through your generosity, for I do not think it would be becoming in me to grudge a man whom you desire to advance in dignity the fame of family affection, which is a greater distinction than any honorific titles. Besides, as it is a splendid thing both to deserve benefits and to confer them, I see that you will at one and the same time receive credit for both, now that you bestow on another what your own merits have won. Moreover, I quite understand that I too shall come in for some glory when it is known through your generous deed that friends of mine can not only fill the office of tribune, but can bestow it on others. For these reasons I bow to the wishes which do you the greatest credit. No name has yet been placed on the lists, and so we can quite well substitute that of Silvanus for yours. I hope that he will show himself as grateful to you as you have to me.   Farewell.

(*)   A military tribuneship.

(**)   clarissimus, the standard word used to describe senators.

[9] L   To Cornelius Minicianus.

I can now give you a full account of the enormous trouble entailed upon me in the public trial brought by the Province of Baetica. It was a complicated suit, and new issues kept constantly cropping up. Why this variety, and why these different pleadings? you well ask. Well, Caecilius Classicus - a low rascal who carries his villainy in his face - had during his proconsulship in Baetica, in the same year that Marius Priscus was Governor of Africa, behaved both with violence and rapacity. Now, Priscus came from Baetica and Classicus from Africa, and so there was a rather good saying among the people of Baetica, for even resentment often inspires wit: "It is give and take between us." But in the case of Marius only one city publicly impeached him besides several private individuals, while the whole Province pressed the charges home against Classicus. He forestalled their accusation by a sudden death which may or may not have been self-inflicted, for there was some doubt about his dishonourable end. Men thought that though it was quite intelligible that he should have been willing to die as he had no defence to offer, yet they could hardly understand why he had died rather than undergo the shame of being condemned when he was not ashamed to commit the crime which merited the condemnation. None the less, the Province determined to go on with the accusation of the dead man. Provision had been made for such cases by the laws, but the custom had fallen into disuse and it was revived then for the first time after many years. Another argument urged by the Baetici for continuing the suit was that they had impeached not only Classicus, but his intimates and tools, and had demanded leave to prosecute them by name.

I was acting for the Province, assisted by Lucceius Albinus, an eloquent and ornate speaker, and though we have long been on terms of the closest regard for one another, our association in this suit has made me feel vastly more attached to him. As a rule, and especially in oratorical efforts, people do not run well in double harness in their striving for glory, but he and I were not in any sense rivals and there was no jealousy between us, as we both did our level best, not for our own hand, but for the common cause, which was of such a serious character and of such public importance that it seemed to demand from us that we should not over-elaborate each single pleading. We were afraid that time would fail us, and that our voices and lungs would break down if we tied up together so many charges and so many defendants into one bundle. Again, we feared that the attention of the judges would not only be wearied by the introduction of so many names and charges, but that they would be confused thereby, that the sum-total of the influence of each one of the accused might procure for each the strength of all, and finally we were afraid lest the most influential of the accused should make a scapegoat of the meanest among them, and so slip out of the hands of justice at the expense of someone else - for favour and personal interest are strongest when they can skulk behind some pretence of severity. Moreover, we were advised by the well-known story of Sertorius, who set two soldiers - one young and powerful, and the other old and weak - to pull off the tail of a horse. You know how it finishes. And so we too thought that we could get the better of even such a long array of defendants, provided we took them one by one.

Our plan was first to prove the guilt of Classicus himself; then it was a natural transition to his intimates and tools, because the latter could never be condemned unless Classicus were guilty. Consequently, we took two of them and closely connected them with Classicus, Baebius Probus and Fabius Hispanus, both men of some influence, while Hispanus possesses a strong gift of eloquence. To prove the guilt of Classicus was an easy and simple task that did not take us long. He had left in his own handwriting a document showing what profits he had made out of each transaction and case, and he had even despatched a letter couched in a boasting and impudent strain to one of his mistresses containing the words, "Hurrah! hurrah! I am coming back to you with my hands free; *   for I have already sold the interests of the Baetici to the tune of four million sesterces." But we had to sweat to get a conviction against Hispanus and Probus. Before I dealt with the charges against them, I thought it necessary to establish the legal point that the execution of an unjust sentence is an indictable offence, for if I had not done this it would have been useless for me to prove that they had been the henchmen of Classicus. Moreover, their line of defence was not a denial. They pleaded that they could not help themselves and therefore were to be pardoned, arguing that they were mere provincials and were frightened into doing anything that a proconsul bade them do. Claudius Restitutus, who replied to me, a practised and watchful speaker who is equal to any emergency however suddenly sprung up upon him, is now going about saying that he never was so dumbfounded and thrown off his balance as when he discovered that the ground on which he placed full reliance for his defence had been cut from under him and stolen away from him.

Well, the outcome of our line of attack was as follows: the senate decreed that the property owned by Classicus before he went to the Province should be set apart from that which he subsequently acquired, and that his daughter should receive the former and the rest be handed over to the victims of his extortion. It was also decreed that the sums which he had paid over to his creditors should be refunded. Hispanus and Probus were banished for five years. Such was the serious view taken of their conduct, about which at the outset there were doubts whether it was legally criminal at all. A few days afterwards we accused Claudius Fuscus, a son-in-law of Classicus, and Stilonius Priscus, who had acted under him as tribune of a cohort. Here the verdicts differed, for while Priscus was banished from Italy for two years, Fuscus was acquitted.

In the third action, we thought our best course was to lump the defendants together, fearing lest, if the trial were to be spun out to undue length, those who were hearing the case would grow sick and tired of it, and their zeal for strict justice and severity would abate. Besides, the accused persons, who had been designedly kept over till then, were all of comparatively little importance, except the wife of Classicus, and, although suspicion against her was strong, the proofs seemed rather weak. As for the daughter of Classicus, who was also among the defendants, she had cleared herself even of suspicion. Consequently, when I reached her name in the last trial - for there was no fear then as there had been at the beginning that such an admission would weaken the force of the prosecution - I thought the most honourable course was to refrain from pressing the charge against an innocent person, and I frankly said so, repeating the idea in various forms. For example, I asked the deputation of the Baetici whether they had given me definite instructions on any point which they felt confident they could prove against her; I turned to the senators and inquired whether they thought I ought to employ what eloquence I might possess against an innocent person, and hold, as it were, the knife to her throat; and, finally, I concluded the subject with these words: "Someone may say, 'You are presuming to act as judge.' No, I reply, I am not presuming to be a judge, but I cannot forget that the judges appointed me to act as counsel."

Well, the conclusion of this trial, with its crowd of defendants, was that a certain few were acquitted, but the majority were condemned and banished, some for a fixed term of years, and others for life. In the same decree the senate expressed in most handsome terms its appreciation of our industry, loyalty, and perseverance, and this was the only possible worthy and adequate reward for the trouble we had taken. You can imagine how worn out we were, when you think how often we had to plead, and answer the pleadings of our opponents, and how many witnesses we had to cross-question, encourage, and refute. Besides, you know how trying and vexatious it is to say "no" to the friends of the accused when they come pleading with you in private, and to stoutly oppose them when they confront you in open court. I will tell you one of the things I said. When one of those who were acting as judges interrupted me on behalf of one of the accused in whom he took a special interest, I replied: "He will be none the less innocent, if he be innocent, when I have had my full say." You can guess from this sample what opposition we had to face, and how we could not avoid giving offence, - but that only lasted a short time, for though at the moment a loyal conduct of a case may offend those whom one is opposing, in the end it wins even their admiration and respect.

I have brought you up to date as well as I could. You will say, "It was not worthwhile, for what have I to do with such a long letter?" If you do, don't ask again what is going on at Rome, and bear in mind that you cannot call a letter long which covers so many days, so many trials, and so many defendants and pleadings. I think I have dealt with all these subjects as briefly as I am sure they are exactly dealt with. But no, I was rash to say "exactly"; I remember a point which I had omitted, and I will tell you about it even now, though it is out of its proper place. Homer does this, and many other authors have followed his example - with very good effect too - though that is not my reason for so doing. One of the witnesses, annoyed at being summoned to appear, or bribed by some one of the defendants in order to weaken the prosecution, laid an accusation against Norbanus Licinianus, a member of the deputation, who had been instructed to get up the case, and charged him with having acted in collusion with the other side in relation to Casta, the wife of Classicus. It is a legal rule in such instances that the trial of the accused must be finished before inquiry is made into a charge of collusion, on the ground that one can best form an opinion on the sincerity of the prosecution by noticing how the case has been carried through. However, Norbanus reaped no advantage from this point of law, nor did his position as member of the deputation, nor his duties as one of those getting up the action stand him in good stead. A storm of prejudice broke out against him, and there is no denying that his hands were crime-stained, that he, like many others, had taken advantage of the evil times of Domitian, and that he had been selected by the provincials to get up the case, not as a man of probity and honour, but because he had been a personal enemy of Classicus, by whom, indeed, he had been banished.

He demanded that a day should be fixed for his trial, and that the charge against him should be published; both were refused, and he was obliged to answer on the spot. He did so, and though the thorough badness and depravity of the fellow make me hesitate to say whether he showed more impudence or resolution, he certainly replied with great readiness. There were sundry things brought against him which did him much greater damage than the charge of collusion, and two men of consular rank, Pomponius Rufus and Libo Frugi, severely damaged him by giving evidence to the effect that during the reign of Domitian he had assisted the prosecution of Salvius Liberalis before the judge. He was convicted and banished to an island. Consequently, when I was accusing Casta, I especially pressed the point that her accuser had been found guilty of collusion. But I did so in vain, and we had the novel and inconsistent result that the accused was acquitted though her accuser was found guilty of collusion with her. You may ask what we were about while this was going on. We told the senate that we had received all our instructions for this public trial from Norbanus, and that the case ought to be tried afresh if he were proved guilty of collusion, and so, while his trial was proceeding, we sat still. Subsequently Norbanus was present every day the trial lasted, and showed right up to the end the same resolute or impudent front.

I wonder if I have forgotten anything else. Well, I almost did. On the last day Salvius Liberalis bitterly assailed the rest of the deputation on the ground that they had not brought accusations against all whom they were commissioned to accuse by the province. He is a powerful and able speaker, and he put them in some danger. However, I went to the protection of those excellent and most grateful men, and they declare that they owe it entirely to me that they safely weathered that storm. This is the end, positively the end of my letter: I will not add another syllable, even if I discover that I have still omitted to tell you something.   Farewell.

(*)   i.e. free from debt.

[10] L   To Vestricius Spurinna and his wife Cottia.

When I was last at your house I did not tell you that I had composed some verses about your son. I refrained from so doing, first, because I had not written them simply for the sake of reciting them, but in order to relieve my feelings of love and sorrow; and, in the second place, Spurinna, I thought that when you were told that I had given a recitation - as you mentioned to me - you had also heard its subject. Moreover, I was afraid of troubling you in your happiness by recalling to your remembrance your bitter sorrow. Even now I have been hesitating somewhat as to whether I should send you at your request only the verses that I actually read, or whether I should also send those which I am thinking of reserving for another volume. For my love for him was such that I find it impossible to do justice to the memory of one who was so dear and precious to me in a single volume, and his fame will be best consulted if it is husbanded and carefully expressed. But though, as I say, I am doubtful whether to show you all that I have composed on the subject, or whether I should still keep back a part, it has seemed to me that frankness and our friendship demand that I should let you have the whole, especially as you promise that you will keep them strictly entre nous until I decide to publish them. The only other request I make is that you will be equally candid with me and tell me if you think any additions, alterations, or omissions should be made. It is difficult to focus the mind on such subjects when one is in trouble, but in spite of that I want you to deal with me as you would with a sculptor or a painter who was making a model or portrait of your son. In such a case, you would advise him as to the points he should bring out and alter, and similarly I hope you will guide and direct me, for I am essaying a likeness, neither frail nor perishable, but one, as you think, which will last for ever. It will be the more durable, according to its trueness to life and correctness of detail.   Farewell.

[11] L   To Julius Genitor.

Our friend Artemidorus has so much goodness of heart that he always exaggerates the services his friends render him, and hence, in my case, though it is true that I have done him a good turn, he speaks of it in far too glowing language. When the philosophers were banished from the city *   I was staying with him in his suburban residence, and the visit was the more talked about and the more dangerous to me, because I was praetor at the time. Moreover, as he stood in need of a considerable sum of money to discharge some debts which he had incurred for the most honourable of reasons, I borrowed the sum and gave it to him as a free gift, when certain of his powerful and rich friends held aloof. I did so in spite of the fact that seven of my friends had been put to death or banished; Senecio, Rusticus, and Helvidius having suffered the former, and Mauricus, Gratilla, Arria, and Fannia the latter punishment. With all these thunderbolts falling round me, I felt scorched, and there were certain clear indications that a like fate was hanging over my head, but I do not on that account think I deserve the splendid credit which Artemidorus assigns me - I only claim to have avoided the disgrace of deserting my friends. For I loved and admired his father-in-law, Caius Musonius, **   as far as the difference in our ages would permit, while as for Artemidorus himself, even when I was on active service as tribune in Syria, I was on terms of close intimacy with him, and the first sign I gave of possessing any brains at all was that I appeared to appreciate a man who was either the absolute sage, or the nearest possible approximation to such a character. For, of all those who nowadays call themselves philosophers, you will hardly find another to match him in the qualities of sincerity and truth. I say nothing of the physical fortitude with which he bears the extremes both of summer and winter, or of the way in which he never shrinks from work, never indulges himself in the pleasures of eating and drinking, and keeps constant restraint over his appetites and desires. In another man these would appear great virtues, but in Artemidorus they appear mere trifles compared with his other noble qualities, which obtained for him the distinction of being chosen by Caius Musonius as his son-in-law amid a crowd of disciples belonging to all ranks of society. As I think of all these things it is pleasant to know that he sings my praises so loudly, not only to others but also to you, but I am afraid he overdoes them, for - to go back again to the point whence I started - he is so good-hearted that he is given to exaggeration. It is one of his faults - an honourable one, no doubt, but still a fault - that, though he is otherwise most level-headed, he entertains a higher opinion of his friends than they deserve.   Farewell.

(*)   By Domitian, in 89 A.D.

(**)   An eminent teacher of Stoicism, fragments of whose works are extant. He suffered banishment to an island under Nero (65 A.D.), but spent his later years in Rome.

[12] L   To Catilius Severus.

Yes, I will come to dinner, but even now I must stipulate that the meal be short and frugal, and brimming over only with Socratic talk. Nay, even in this respect there must be a limit fixed, for there will be crowds of people going to make calls before day breaks, *   and even Cato did not escape when he fell in with them, though Caius Caesar, in telling the story, blames him in such a way that it redounds to his praise. For he says that when those who met him drunk uncovered his head and saw who it was, they blushed at the sight, and he adds: "You would think it was not they who had caught Cato, but Cato who had caught them." What greater testimony could there be to Cato's character than that men respected him even when he was in liquor? But for our dinner let us agree not only to have a modest and inexpensive feast but to break up in good time, for we are not Catos that our enemies cannot censure us without praising us in the same breath.   Farewell.

(*)   Officia antelucana, "visits of ceremony taking place before daylight."   "Take care," says Pliny, "that our meal is not protracted till such a time that we shall risk falling in with parties of clients etc., going to pay their morning visit of ceremony to their patrons and great friends, and who will discover us to have taken more than is good for us. Cato it is true (as related by Caesar) did this, etc. ; but we are not precisely Catos."

[13] L   To Voconius Romanus.

I am sending you, at your request, the speech in which I lately thanked our best of emperors for my nomination as Consul, *   and I should have sent it to you even though you had not asked for it. I hope you will take into consideration both the beauty and the difficulty of the theme. For in other speeches the attention of the reader is kept fixed by the novelty of the subject, but in this case every detail is familiar, a matter of common knowledge, and has been said before. Consequently the reader will be lazy and careless and will only pay attention to the diction, and when merely the diction is attended to, it is not easy to give satisfaction. I wish that people would pay equal regard to the arrangement of the speech, to its transitions, and the figures of speech employed. For even the unlearned sometimes manage to get a noble inspiration and express it in powerful language, but skilful arrangement and variety of metaphor are only attained by the scholarly. Besides, one must not for ever keep at the same high and lofty level. For, just as in painting there is nothing like shadow to bring out the effect of light, so in a speech it is as important on occasions to reduce the treatment to an ordinary level as to raise it to a high one. But why do I talk of first principles to a man of your accomplishments? What I do wish to insist upon is to ask you to mark the passages which you think should be corrected. For I shall think that you are all the better pleased with the remainder if I find that there are certain portions that you do not like.   Farewell.

(*)   In September 100 A.D.; later published as the 'Panegyricus'.

[14] L   To Acilius.

A shocking affair, worthy of more publicity than a letter can bestow, has befallen Largius Macedo, a man of praetorian rank, at the hands of his own slaves. He was known to be an overbearing and cruel master, and one who forgot - or rather remembered to keenly - that his own father had been a slave. He was bathing at his villa near Formiae, when he was suddenly surrounded by his slaves. One seized him by the throat, another struck him on the forehead, and others smote him in the chest, belly, and even - I am shocked to say - in the private parts. When they thought the breath had left his body they flung him on to the hot tiled floor to see if he was still alive. Whether he was insensible, or merely pretended to be so, he certainly did not move, and lying there at full length, he made them think that he was actually dead. At length they carried him out as though he had been overcome by the heat and handed him over to his more trusty servants, while his mistresses ran shrieking and wailing to his side. Aroused by their cries and restored by the coolness of the room where he lay, he opened his eyes and moved his limbs, betraying thereby that he was still alive, as it was then safe to do so. His slaves took to flight; most of them have been captured, but some are still being hunted for. Thanks to the attentions he received, Macedo was kept alive for a few days and had the satisfaction of full vengeance before he died, for he exacted the same punishment while he still lived as is usually taken when the victim of a murder dies. You see the dangers, the affronts and insults we are exposed to, and no one can feel at all secure because he is an easy and mild-tempered master, for villainy not deliberation murders masters.

But enough of that subject! Have I any other news to tell you? Let me see! No, there is nothing. If there were, I would tell you, for I have room enough on this sheet, and, as to-day is a holiday, I should have plenty of time to write more. But I will just add an incident which I chance to recall that happened to the same Macedo. When he was in one of the public baths in Rome, a curious and - the event has shown - an ominous accident happened to him. Macedo's servant lightly tapped a Roman knight with his hand to induce him to make room for them to pass, and the knight turned round and struck, not the slave who had touched him but Macedo himself, such a heavy blow with his fist that he almost felled him. So one may say that the bath has been by certain stages the scene first of humiliation to him and then of death.   Farewell.

[15] L   To Silius Proculus.

You ask me to read your poems while I am in the country, and see whether I think they are worth publishing; you even add entreaties, and quote an authority for the request; for you beg me to take a few holiday hours from my own studies and spend them on your efforts, and you say that Marcus Tullius *   showed wonderful good nature in encouraging the talent of poets. Well, there was no need to beg and pray of me to do such a thing, for I have the most profound regard for the poetic art and I have a very strong affection for you, so I will comply with your request and give them a careful and willing reading. But even now I think I am justified in writing and telling you that your work is charming and should on no account be kept from publication, as far as I could judge from the pieces that you read aloud in my hearing - unless, indeed, your delivery took me in, for you read with great charm and skill. But I feel pretty sure that I am not so completely led away by the mere pleasures of the ear that my critical powers are wholly disarmed by the pleasure of listening - they might be blunted possibly and have their edge turned somewhat, but they certainly could not be subverted or destroyed. Consequently, I am not rash in pronouncing a general verdict on the whole even now, but in order to judge of them in detail, I must read them through.   Farewell.

(*)   Cicero.

[16] L   To Nepos.

I have often observed that the greatest words and deeds, both of men and women, are not always the most famous, and my opinion has been confirmed by a talk I had with Fannia yesterday. She is a granddaughter of the Arria who comforted her husband in his dying moments and showed him how to die. She told me many stories of her grandmother, just as heroic but not so well known as the manner of her death, and I think they will seem to you as you read them quite as remarkable as they did to me as I listened to them.

Her husband, Caecina Paetus, was lying ill, and so too was their son, both, it was thought, without chance of recovery. The son died. He was a strikingly handsome lad, modest as he was handsome, and endeared to his parents for his other virtues quite as much as because he was their son. Arria made all the arrangements for the funeral and attended it in person, without her husband knowing anything of it. When she entered his room she pretended that the boy was still alive and even much better, and when her husband constantly asked how the lad was getting on, she replied: "He has had a good sleep, and has taken food with a good appetite." Then when the tears, which she had long forced back, overcame her and burst their way out, she would leave the room, and not till then give grief its course, returning when the flood of tears was over, with dry eyes and composed look, as though she had left her bereavement at the door of the chamber. It was indeed a splendid deed of hers to draw the sword from its sheath, to plunge it into her breast, then to pull it out and offer it to her husband, with the words which will live for ever and seem to have been more than mortal, "Paetus, it does not hurt." *   But at that moment, while speaking and acting thus, there was fame and immortality before her eyes, and I think it an even nobler deed for her without looking for any reward of glory or immortality to force back her tears, to hide her grief, and, even when her son was lost to her, to continue to act a mother's part.

When Scribonianus had started a rebellion in Illyricum against Claudius, Paetus joined his party, and, on the death of Scribonianus, he was brought prisoner to Rome. As he was about to embark, Arria implored the soldiers to take her on board with him. "For," she pleaded, "as he is of consular rank, you will assign him some servants to serve his meals, to valet him and put on his shoes. I will perform all these offices for him." When they refused her, she hired a fishing-boat and in that tiny vessel followed the big ship. Again, in the presence of Claudius she said to the wife of Scribonianus, when that woman was voluntarily giving evidence of the rebellion, "What, shall I listen to you in whose bosom Scribonianus was killed and yet you still live?" Those words showed that her resolve to die gloriously was due to no sudden impulse. Moreover, when her son-in-law Thrasea sought to dissuade her from carrying out her purpose, and urged among his other entreaties the following argument: "If I had to die, would you wish your daughter to die with me?" she replied, "If she had lived as long and as happily with you as I have lived with Paetus, yes." **   This answer increased the anxiety of her friends, and she was watched with greater care. Noticing this, she said, "Your endeavours are vain. You can make me die hard, but you cannot prevent me from dying." As she spoke she jumped from her chair and dashed her head with great force against the wall of the chamber, and fell to the ground. When she came to herself again, she said, "I told you that I should find a difficult way of dying if you denied me an easy one."

Do not sentences like these seem to you more noble than the "Paetus, it does not hurt," to which they gradually led up? Yet, while that saying is famous all over the world, the others are unknown. But they confirm what I said at the outset, that the noblest words and deeds are not always the most famous.   Farewell.

(*)   See Dio Cassius, lx.16 .

(**)   Twenty-four years later, Thrasea was condemned for treason, under Nero, and ordered to choose the manner of his death (66 A.D.). His wife, the younger Arria, sought to die with him, but he persuaded her to live for the sake of their daughter, Fannia ( vii. 19 ).

[17] L   To Servianus.

Is everything quite well with you, that I have not had a letter from you for so long? Or if all is well, are you busy? Or if you are not busy, is it that you rarely get a chance of writing, or never a chance at all? Relieve my anxiety, which is altogether too much for me, and do so even if you have to send a special messenger. I will pay the travelling expenses and give him a present for himself, provided only he brings me the news I wish to hear. I am in good health if being in good health is to live in a state of constant anxiety, expecting and fearing every hour to hear that my dearest friend has met with any one of the dreadful accidents to which men are liable.   Farewell.

[18] L   To Curius Severus.

As Consul, it naturally devolved upon me to thank the Emperor in the name of the State. *   After doing so in the senate in the usual way and in a speech befitting the place and the occasion, I thought that it would highly become me, as a good citizen, to cover the same ground in greater detail and much more fully in a book. In the first place, I desired that the Emperor might be encouraged by well-deserved praise of his virtues; and, secondly, that future Emperors might be shown how best to attain similar glory by having such an example before them, rather than by any precepts of a teacher. For though it is a very proper thing to point out to an Emperor the virtues he ought to display, it involves a heavy responsibility to do so and it has rather a presumptuous look, whereas to eulogise an excellent ruler and so hold up a beacon to his successors by which they may steer their path, is not only an act of public service but involves no assumption of superiority.

But I have been more than a little pleased to find that when I proposed to give a public reading of this speech, my friends, whom I invited not by letters and personal notes, but in general terms, such as "if you find it convenient," or "if you have plenty of time" - for no one has ever plenty of time at Rome, nor is it ever convenient to listen to a recital - attended two days running, in spite of shockingly bad weather, and when my modesty would have brought the recital to an end, they forced me to continue it for another day. Am I to take this as a compliment to myself or to learning? I should prefer to think to the latter, for learning, after having almost drooped to death, is now reviving a little. Yet consider the subject which occasioned all this enthusiasm! Why, in the senate, when we had to listen to these panegyrics we used to be bored to death after the first moment; yet now there are people to be found who are willing to read and listen to the readings for three days, not because the subject is dealt with more eloquently than before, but because it is treated with greater freedom, and therefore the work is more willingly undertaken. This will be another feather in the cap of our Emperor, that those speeches which used to be as odious as they were unreal are now as popular as they are true to facts.**

But I especially noticed with pleasure both the attention and the critical faculties of the audience, for I remarked that they seemed most pleased with the passages which were least adorned. I do not forget that I have read only to a few what I have written for all the reading public, yet none the less I take for granted that the multitude will pass a similar judgment, and I am delighted with their taste for simple passages. Just as the audience in the theatres made the musicians cultivate a false taste in playing, so now I am encouraged to hope that they will encourage the players to cultivate a good taste.   For all who write to please will write in the style which they see is popular. As for myself, I hope that with such a subject a luxuriant style may pass muster, inasmuch as the passages which are closely reasoned and stripped of all ornament are more likely to seem forced and far-fetched than those treated in a more buoyant and, as it were, more exultant strain. Nevertheless, I am just as anxious for the day to come (I hope it has come already!) when mere charming and honeyed words, however justly applied, shall give way to a chaste simplicity. Well, I have told you all about my three days' work; when you read it I hope that, though you were absent at the time, you may be as pleased at the compliment paid to learning and to me as you would have been if you had been there.   Farewell.

(*)   See letter 13 of this book.

(**)   He alludes in this, and what has preceded, to the bad days of Domitian.

(†)   This is said figuratively. The reference is still to written compositions and recitations.

[19] L   To Calvisius Rufus.

I want to ask your advice, as I have often done, on a matter of private business. Some land adjoining my own, and even running into mine, is for sale, and while there are many considerations tempting me to buy it, there are equally weighty reasons to dissuade me. I feel tempted to purchase, first, because the estate will look well if rounded off, and, secondly, because the conveniences resulting therefrom would be as great as the pleasures it would give me. The same work could be carried on at both places, they could be visited at the same cost of travelling, they could be put under one steward and practically one set of managers, and, while one villa was kept up in style, the other house might be just kept in repair. Moreover, one must take into account the cost of furniture and head-servants, besides gardeners, smiths, and even the gamekeepers, and it makes a great difference whether you have all these in one place or have them distributed in several. Yet, on the other hand, I am afraid it may be rash to risk so much of one's property to the same storms and the same accidents, and it seems safer to meet the caprices of Fortune by not putting all one's eggs into the same basket. Again, there is something exceedingly pleasant in changing one's air and place, and in the travelling from one estate to another.

However, the chief reason why I hesitate is as follows:- The land in question is fertile, rich and well-watered; it consists of meadows, vineyards and woods, which are productive and guarantee an income, not large, it is true, but yet sure. But the fertility of the land is overtaxed by the lack of capital of the tenants. For the last proprietor constantly sold the whole stock, and, though he reduced the arrears of the tenants for the time, he weakened their efficiency for the future, and as their capital failed them their arrears once more began to mount up. I must therefore set them up again, and it will cost me the more because I must provide them with honest slaves, for I have no slaves working in chains in my possession, nor has any landowner in that part of the country. Now, let me tell you the price at which I think I can purchase the property. It is three million sesterces, though at one time the price was five, but owing to the lack of capital of the tenants and the general badness of the times the rents have fallen off and the price has therefore dropped also. Perhaps you will ask whether I can raise these three millions without difficulty. Well, nearly all my capital is invested in land, but I have some money out at interest and I can borrow without any trouble. I can get money from my mother-in-law, whose purse I use as freely as if it were my own. So don't let this consideration trouble you, if the other objections can be got over, and I hope you will give these your most careful attention. For, as in everything else, so too in the matter of investments, your experience and shrewdness are unexceptionable.   Farewell.

[20] L   To Messius Maximus.

Do you remember that you often read of the fierce controversies excited by the Ballot Act, *   and the praises and denunciations that it brought upon the head of the man who introduced it? Yet, nowadays in the senate its merits are universally acknowledged, and on the day of the last elections all the candidates demanded the ballot. For when the voting was open and members publicly recorded their votes, the confusion was worse than that which prevails at public meetings. No one paid any heed to the time allotted to speeches; there was no respectful silence, and members did not even remember their dignity and keep their seats. On all sides there was tumult and uproar; all were running to and fro with their candidates; they clustered in knots and rings on the floor of the house, and there was the most unseemly disorder. To such an extent had we degenerated from the customs of our forefathers, who observed in all things order, moderation, and quiet, and never forgot the dignity of the place and the attitude proper to it.

There are still old men living who tell me that elections in their time were conducted as follows:- When a candidate's name was read out the deepest silence was observed. Then he addressed the House in his own interest, gave an account of his life, and produced witnesses to speak in his favour. He would call upon the general under whom he had served, or the governor to whom he had been quaestor, or both if possible, and then he mentioned certain of his supporters, who would speak for him in a few weighty sentences. These had far more effect than entreaties. Sometimes a candidate would lay objections to the pedigree, age, or character of a rival, and the senate would listen with gravity befitting a censor. Consequently, merit told as a rule more than influence. But when this laudable practice was spoilt by excessive partisanship the House had recourse to the silence of the ballot-box in order to cure the evil, and for a time it did act as a remedy, owing to the novelty of the sudden change. But I am afraid that as time goes on abuses will arise even out of this remedy, for there is a danger that the ballot may be invaded by shameless partiality. How few there are who are as careful of acting honourably in secret as in public! While many people are afraid of what others will say, few are afraid of their own conscience. But it is too early yet to speak of the future, and in the meantime, thanks to the ballot, we shall have as magistrates men who pre-eminently deserve the honour. For in this election we have proved honest judges, like those who are hastily empanelled to serve in the Court of the Reciperatores **   - where the decision is so speedy that those who try the case have no time to be bribed.

I have written this letter, firstly to tell you the news, and secondly to say a word on the general political outlook, and, as opportunities for discussing the latter are much less frequent than they were in the old days, we should seize those which present themselves all the more eagerly. Besides, how long shall we go on using the hackneyed phrases, "How do you spend your time?" and "Are you quite well?" Let us in our correspondence rise above the ordinary poor level and petty details confined to our private affairs. It is true that all political power lies in the hands of one person, who for the common good has taken upon himself the cares and labours of the whole State, yet, thanks to his beneficent moderation, some streams from that bounteous source flow down even to us, and these we may draw for ourselves and serve up, as it were, to our absent friends in letters.   Farewell.

(*)   Lex Gabinia of 139 B.C., and Lex Papiria of 131 B.C.

(**)   Reciperatores. Judges called on to decide some matter of fact, and who, it seems, were liable to be selected from persons in court, and not from the regular list. Hence, as there was no opportunity of tampering with them, they were more likely to give an honest decision. This is the point of Pliny's comparison.

[21] L   To Cornelius Priscus.

I hear that Valerius Martialis *   is dead, and I am much troubled at the news. He was a man of genius, witty and caustic, yet one who in his writings showed as much candour as he did biting wit and ability to sting. When he left Rome I made him a present to help to defray his travelling expenses, as a tribute to the friendship I bore him and to the verses he had composed about me. It was the custom in the old days to reward with offices of distinction or money grants those who had composed eulogies of private individuals or cities, but in our day this custom, like many other honourable and excellent practices, was one of the first to fall into disuse. For when we cease to do deeds worthy of praise, we think it is folly to be praised. Do you ask what the verses are which excited my gratitude? I would refer you to the volume itself, but that I have some by heart, and if you like these, you may look out the others for yourself in the book. He addresses the Muse and bids her seek my house on the Esquiline and approach it with great respect:-

"But take care that you do not knock at his learned door at a time when you should not. He devotes whole days together to crabbed Minerva, while he prepares for the ears of the Court of the Hundred speeches which posterity and the ages to come may compare even with the pages of Arpinum's Cicero. It will be better if you go late in the day, when the evening lamps are lit; that is YOUR hour, when the Wine God is at his revels, when the rose is Queen of the feast, when men's locks drip perfume. At such an hour even unbending Catos may read my poems."   **

Was I not right to take a most friendly farewell of a man who wrote a poem like that about me, and do I do wrong if I now bewail his death as that of a bosom-friend? For he gave me the best he could, and would have given me more if he had had it in his power. And yet what more can be given to a man than glory and praise and immortality? But you may say that Martialis' poems will not live for ever. Well, perhaps not, yet at least he wrote them in the hope that they would.   Farewell.

(*)   Martial, the poet. The exact date of his death (between 101 and 104 A.D.) is unknown. Martial had retired, probably in 98 A.D., to his native town Bilbilis in Spain.

(**)   Martial, x. 19.

Book 4

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