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Pliny the Younger : Letters

    - BOOK 6

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 Tiro   2 Arrianus   3 Verus   4 Calpurnia   5 Ursus   6 Fundanus   7 Calpurnia   8 Priscus   9 Tacitus   10 Albinus   11 Maximus   12 Fabatus   13 Ursus   14 Mauricus   15 Romanus   16 Tacitus   17 Restitutus   18 Sabinus   19 Nepos   20 Tacitus   21 Caninius   22 Tiro   23 Triarius   24 Macer   25 Hispanus   26 Servianus   27 Severus   28 Pontius   29 Quadratus   30 Fabatus   31 Cornelianus   32 Quintilian   33 Romanus   34 Maximus




[1] L   To Tiro.

While I was staying across the Po and you were in Picenum, I did not miss you so much ; but since I have been in Rome, and you are still away in Picenum, I have missed you much more. Perhaps it is that the places where we are usually in one another's society remind me of you more sharply, or else it must be that there is nothing like being in the neighbourhood of absent friends to make you miss them, and the nearer you get to hoping to enjoy their society, the more impatiently you bear their absence. However, whatever the cause may be, do relieve me from my torment. Either come to me or I shall return to the place which I left rather hurriedly and foolishly. If I do, my only reason will be just this, to see whether you will send me letters like the one I am now writing, when you begin to find yourself in Rome without me.   Farewell.


[2] L   To Arrianus.

When I am in the courts I frequently find myself regretting Marcus Regulus, though I hardly mean to say that I want him back again. Why then, you may ask, do I regret him? For these reasons. He used to hold the profession in great respect; he used to be nervous and anxious to succeed and write out his speeches beforehand, though he could never thoroughly commit them to memory. Even his practice of smearing ointment over either his right or left eye - the former if he were appearing for the plaintiff, and the latter when he was pleading for a defendant - and his habit of changing the white patch from one eyebrow to the other, and consulting the soothsayers as to how his cases would go, though due to gross superstition on his part, were also to be partly explained by the great regard in which he held our profession. Again, his other practice of always demanding that we should be allowed to speak as long as we desired, and the way in which he succeeded in getting an audience together, were very gratifying to those who were engaged in the same cases as he was. For what can be more pleasant than to go on speaking to your heart's content, when someone else gets all the odium, and to speak at your leisure to an audience which another has brought together, as though you had no choice in the matter ?

However, be that as it may, Regulus did well to die, and he would have done better still if he had died earlier, for he might have lived without any harm to the public under an emperor in whose reign he could do no damage. And so I am justified in now and then regretting his loss, for after his death the custom gradually crept in and became firmly established for counsel to ask for, and for the judges to grant, a time-limit for speeches of two water-clocks, *   or even one apiece, and sometimes only half a one. Those who plead prefer to get their speeches over rather than go on pleading, and those who listen to them are more anxious to have done than to come to a right decision. Such is the general carelessness, laziness, and disrespect of our profession, and of the hazards which we advocates undergo. Are we wiser than our ancestors were ? Are we more just than the very laws which apportion so many hours, days, and adjournments for each case? Were they dull-witted and slow-coaches, or are we clearer speakers, quicker thinkers, and more conscientious judges than they, that we should hurry through a case in fewer water-glasses than they took days for the finishing of them? O Regulus! to think that your ambition should have gained you from all sides the favour which is rarely accorded to the most conscientious pleader!

For my own part, whenever I am on the bench, and I am oftener there than pleading, I grant counsel as much time **   as they desire, no matter what amount they ask for. For I consider it rash to form any opinion as to what time a case will take while it has yet to be heard, and to set a fixed time-limit to a trial, the length of which you do not now, especially as the first duty of a conscientious judge is to show patience, a virtue which forms no small part of justice itself. But, people argue, a good deal of irrelevant matter is spoken. It may be so, but it is better that it should be so than that any necessary points should be omitted; and again, there are no means of telling whether an argument is irrelevant or not until you have heard it. However, it will be better to discuss these matters, as well as numerous other public shortcomings, in person, for you, like myself, have such a regard for the common good that you desire to see many things put straight which will be no easy undertaking at this time of day. But just a word for our private affairs ! Is everything going on well with you at home? With me there is no news, but I am all the better pleased with my good fortune because it continues, and as for the inconveniences of life, well, they seem to grow lighter, because I am getting well used to them.   Farewell.

(*)   Three water-clocks were equivalent to one Roman hour.

(**)   Literally, "as much water" (of the water-clock).


[3] L   To Verus.

I am much obliged to you for undertaking to look after the plot of land which I gave to my old nurse. When I made her a present of it it was worth a hundred thousand sesterces, but afterwards its value diminished as the produce from it grew less. However, now that you are looking after it, it will pick up again. I want you to remember that I am commending to your care, not so much the trees and the soil - though I do not forget these - as the present itself, for she to whom it belongs cannot be more anxious that it should produce good crops than I am who gave it to her.   Farewell.


[4] L   To Calpurnia.

Never before have I chafed so much at being so busy that I could not accompany you when you set out for Campania to recover your health, nor yet follow and overtake you after you had started. For now especially I should like to be with you to see with my own eyes how much strength you are gaining, what weight that delicate frame of yours is putting on, and whether you are enjoying yourself without let or hindrance in the relaxation and among the rich, generous pleasures of Campania. I am quite anxiously longing to hear that you are strong again, for it makes one nervous and troubled to get no news of those whom we love very dearly, when they are away from us, and your absence, coupled with your weak state of health, keeps me constantly upon the rack. I am afraid of all sorts of things; I fancy anything may have happened, and, like all anxious people, I am especially given to conjuring up the thoughts that I most dread. I entreat you, therefore, to remember how nervous I am about you, and write me once, or even twice a day. For while I am reading your letters, I shall feel easier in my mind, though, when I have read through to the end, my fears will immediately recur.   Farewell.


[5] L   To Ursus.

I have already told you *   that Varenus was given permission to bring witnesses on his behalf from his province. This seemed just to a majority of the senate, but unjust to certain others, and the latter clung obstinately to their view, especially Licinius Nepos, who at the next meeting of the senate, on a debate dealing with a totally different subject, began to discuss the resolution of the previous sitting, and re-opened a matter which was already closed. He even went on to say that the consuls should be asked to bring in a motion relating to the law against extortion, under the head of the law against bribery, and say whether they thought it right that an addition should be made to the law, giving those who were accused of the offence the same powers to make inquiries and denounce the guilty parties as were granted to the accusers and to the witnesses. Many considered that this speech of Nepos was belated, untimely, and quite out of place, inasmuch as he had allowed the proper time for opposing the proposal to pass by, and now declaimed against it after it had been carried, though he might have done so before. The praetor Juventius Celsus vehemently upbraided him in a long speech, in which he taunted him with seeking to reform the senate. Nepos replied; Celsus answered him back, and neither spared reproaches and insults. I do not wish to repeat the words which pained me when I heard them spoken, but I blame even more some of our number who kept running first to Celsus and then to Nepos, according as one or other was speaking, in their desire to hear every word. At one moment they seemed to be encouraging and inflaming their passions, at another to be seeking to reconcile them and smooth matters over, and then they kept on appealing to Caesar to take the side of each, or even of both, just as actors do in a farce. What annoyed me most of all was that each was told what his opponent was going to say, for Celsus replied to Nepos from his note-book, and Nepos answered Celsus from his tablets. The friends of each kept talking to such an extent that the two disputants knew exactly what each was going to say, as though it had all been arranged beforehand.   Farewell.

(*)   See letter v. 20.


[6] L   To Fundanus.

If ever I wished you to be in Rome it is now, and I do hope you may come. I want a friend to second my desires and share my labours and anxieties. Julius Naso is seeking office, and there are a number of excellent candidates. It will be a splendid thing for him to beat them, but he will find it a very difficult matter. So I am all on tenterhooks of hope and fear, and I can hardly realise that I have been consul, for it seems to me that I am a candidate again for all the offices which I have held in turn. Naso's long attachment to me justifies the worry I am going through. I can hardly say that I am bound to him as a friend of his father - for I was too young to enjoy such friendship - yet, when I was quite a young man, people used to point his father out to my notice, and speak of him in the highest terms. He was not only a scholar himself, but was devoted to other scholars, and almost every day he used to go to hear the discourses of Quintilian *   and Nicetes Sacerdos, **   which I at that time regularly attended. He was, moreover, a distinguished and honourable man, and his reputation ought to stand his son in good stead.

However, there are now many members of the senate to whom he was unknown, and many again who knew him yet pay no honour to any except those who are alive. Consequently the son will have to struggle and work all the harder now that the high position gained by his father is lost to him. It will, doubtless, be a great ornament to him, but its practical value, as influencing votes, is nearly nil. Naso has always been sensible of this, and with an eye to a time like the present, he has made friends and cultivated their acquaintance. Myself in particular he chose as a person to be loved and imitated as soon as he allowed himself to trust his own judgment. Whenever I am pleading he is careful to stand at my side ; when I give a recital he always sits near me; whenever I am planning and beginning a new work he always takes the greatest interest therein. Of late he has done so alone, but previously his brother used to join him, and now that the brother is dead I must take his place and fill the part he played. For I grieve to think of his untimely death, and of Naso being deprived of the assistance of such an excellent brother, and dependent solely upon the good offices of friends.

This is why I beg you to come and join your solicitations to mine. It will be of the utmost value to me to take you round with me and show you as my backer. Your influence is such that I think I shall be more sure of being successful, even with my own friends, if you are with me. If any engagements detain you, break them: the position I am placed in, my loyalty, and even my official status demand that you should. I have undertaken to run a candidate, and everybody is aware of the fact. It is I who am seeking to win, and I who run the risk of failure; in short, if Naso succeeds, the honour is his, but if he loses, the defeat will be mine.   Farewell.

(*)   The famous Quintilian, teacher and author of the 'Institutio Oratoria'.

(**)   A teacher of rhetoric from Smyrna.


[7] L   To Calpurnia.

You say that you are quite distressed at my absence, and that your only solace is to embrace my writings instead of me, and to constantly put them in the place I usually occupy. I am glad you miss me, and glad too that you find comfort in such consolations, while I in my turn continually read over your letters, and take them up again and again as though they were new ones. Yet this only makes me feel your absence the more keenly, for if your letters have such a charm for me, you can imagine how sweet I find your conversation. However, do not fail to write as often as you can, even though your letters torture as well as delight me.   Farewell.


[8] L   To Priscus.

You know Atilius Crescens, and love him too, for who is there held in any respect at all who fails to know and love him ? But my affection for him is that of an intimate friend, not of a mere acquaintance. The townships where we reside are only a day's journey apart, and our regard for one another began when we were young men, and when love burns strongest. It has lasted till now, nor has it cooled with riper judgment, but rather grown in strength, and this is well known to all our intimate friends. For he always boasts of my friendship in the most open manner, and I too am proud to declare how highly I value his modesty, how anxious I am that his quiet and security should not be disturbed. When on one occasion he was afraid of being treated in a high-handed way by a person who was about to become tribune of the plebs, and communicated his fears to me, I replied, "No-one shall harm you as long as I live." *   But why tell you all this? you ask. It is that you may know that Atilius is protected from injury as long as I am safe. But what of that? you say again. Well, Valerius Varus owed him a sum of money, and the heir of Varus is our friend Maximus, whom I have a great regard for, though he is a closer friend of yourself. I beg you, therefore, in fact I insist, as my friendship entitles me to do, that you will see to it that my Atilius not only gets back his capital intact, but also the interest due over several years. He is a man who never nibbles at anyone else's property ; he is careful of his own ; he has no business to support him and no income save that which he saves by his frugal living. For though he is an admirable scholar, he studies only for pleasure and reputation. Even the slightest loss is a serious matter to him, because it is always a tax upon a man to have to make good what he has lost.

So do remove my anxieties and his in this matter, and enable me to continue to enjoy his sweet disposition and charming wit. I cannot bear to see a friend sad whose cheerfulness forbids sadness in me. In brief, you know what a witty man he is, and I want you to take care that no injury shall sour his good spirits and turn them to gall and bitterness. You may be sure that, if he is wronged, his resentment will be as strong as his affection, for his noble and independent spirit will not brook a monetary loss coupled with an affront. Moreover, however he may bear it, I shall consider the loss as mine, and the affront a personal one, but my wrath will be even greater than if mine were the actual loss. But there, why am I indulging in these fiery warnings, which sound almost like threats ? It is better that I should ask you, as I did at the outset of this letter, and implore you to do what you can to prevent him from thinking - as I am very much afraid he will - that have neglected him, and also prevent me from thinking that you have neglected me. I am sure you will do so, if you are as anxious to obviate the latter as I am the former.   Farewell.

(*)   An allusion to Homer, Iliad i. 88, where Achilles says to Calchas, "No-one, so long as I am alive and in the light of the world, shall lay a heavy hand on you by the hollow ships !"


[9] L   To Tacitus.

You commend to my notice the candidature of Julius Naso. But fancy commending Naso to me ! Why, it is like commending to me a candidature of my own ! However, I don't mind, and I forgive you. I should have sent a similar recommendation to you, if I had been out of Rome and you had been staying in town. When one is really anxious, one thinks that everything is of pressing importance. Nevertheless, I think you had better go on asking others for their interest, and I will back your entreaties, and second them and assist them as far as I can.   Farewell.


[10] L   To Albinus.

When I visited the country house of my mother-in-law at Alsium, which at one time belonged to Rufus Verginius, the place revived painful memories of the loss I suffered in the death of that excellent and noble man. *   For it was here that he sought retirement, and he even used to speak of it as the nest of his old age. Whichever way I turned, my spirit sought his presence, my eyes looked to find him. It even gave me pleasure to see his monument, though I was sorry I had seen it, for it is still unfinished, not because of any difficulty in executing the work, which is on a very modest, and I might say meagre scale, but because of the negligence of the person to whom it was entrusted. I felt grieved and indignant that ten years should have elapsed since his death, and that his remains and neglected ashes should still be lying without an inscription and a name, though his memory and fame have traversed the whole world. Moreover, he had particularly left instructions that his glorious and immortal behaviour should be inscribed in the verses : "Here lies Rufus, who once overthrew Vindex, and bestowed the imperial power not upon himself but upon his country." Loyalty in friendship is so rare, and the dead are so speedily forgotten, that we ought even to raise our own monuments, and execute, before we die, the duties that should properly be carried out by our heirs. For who is there who need not fear that what we see has happened to Verginius may also happen to himself? The very fact that Verginius was so famous makes the indignity he has suffered the more shocking and the more conspicuous.   Farewell.

(*)   See letter ii. 1.


[11] L   To Maximus.

What a joyful day this has been ! The prefect of the city called me in to assist him in hearing his cases, and I listened to two young men of the highest promise and conspicuous abilities pleading against each other. They were Fuscus Salinator and Ummidius Quadratus, a striking pair, who will prove not only an ornament to our age, but also to literature. Both of them are wonderfully upright, steady of purpose, and modest in their dress. They have the true Latin countenance, manly voices, strong memories, conspicuous wit, and level judgment. I was delighted with each and all of these qualities, and especially with the way in which they kept looking up to me, as their adviser and teacher, while those who listened to them thought they were imitating me and walking in my footsteps. Again let me say it was a delightful day, and one that I shall long treasure in my memory. For what could be of happier augury for the public interest than that young men of the highest rank should seek reputation and glory in a learned profession what more gratifying to me than to find myself taken as an example by those who are pressing on towards an honourable goal ? I pray Heaven that this may be a joy I shall continually receive, and I call you to witness that I implore the gods that all who set such store on imitating me may desire to be even better men than myself.   Farewell.


[12] L   To Fabatus.

You of all people should not hesitate a moment about commending to my favour any persons whose interests you think I ought to look after, for it becomes you to assist as many as you can, and me to undertake anything in which you are interested. So I will do all I possibly can for Vettius Priscus, especially in my particular sphere of interest, which is the court of the centumviri. You bid me think nothing more of the letter in which, as you put it, you unburdened your heart to me, but, on the contrary, there is none which I shall more gladly keep in remembrance. For it is that letter more than any other which shows me how much you love me, inasmuch as you treated me therein as you used to treat your own son. Nor will I refrain from telling you that it was all the more gratifying to me just because I felt I had a perfectly clear conscience in the matter, for I had worked my very hardest to carry out your wishes. So I earnestly desire that you will always take me to task in exactly the same straightforward way whenever you think I have been at all remiss - I say whenever you think I have been remiss, for I never shall be so in reality. If you do, I shall understand that your scolding proceeds from the deep affection you bear me, and that you will rejoice to find I did not deserve it.   Farewell.


[13] L   To Ursus.

Did you ever see any one so much harried and worried as my friend Varenus? He has had to fight hard to retain the concession which was granted him, and practically had to sue for it over again. *   The Bithynians have had the audacity to go before the consuls and complain about the decree of the senate, and seek to get it set aside, and they have even appealed against it to the Emperor, who is away from Rome. He referred them back to the senate, and yet they have not ceased their efforts. Claudius Capito's speech may be described as a piece of impertinence rather than dogged resolution, for he impeached the senate for its own decree. Catius Fronto answered him with dignity and firmness, and the senate acted amazingly well, for even those members who were opposed to granting the petition of Varenus, spoke in favour of confirming the grant after it had once been made, on the ground that, while it was open for any individual member to express dissent before a decision had been arrived at, all should observe the wishes of the majority when the decision had once been reached. Only Acilius Rufus and seven or eight others - seven I should say - continued to stand by their previous opinions, and some members of this little handful were much laughed at for their temporary gravity, or rather for their assumption of it. However, you may judge for yourself what a tussle is in store for us when the real struggle begins, if the prelude and opening exchanges, as it were, have occasioned such squabbling as this.   Farewell.

(*)   See letter 5 of this Book, and letter v. 20.


[14] L   To Mauricus.

You press me to stay with you at your villa near Formiae. Well, I will come on condition that you do not inconvenience yourself at all - a stipulation in which I consult my own interest as well as yours. For it is not the sea and the shore which will tempt me, but yourself and retirement, and leave to do as I please. Otherwise it were better to remain in town, for one ought to refer everything either to someone else's judgment or to one's own, and, as far as I am personally concerned, my taste is to desire nothing, unless it is perfect and flawless. *   Farewell.

(*)   He means - I would rather remain in Rome, entirely devoted to business, than go into the country, unless I can do there entirely what I like. One thing or the other : constant occupation or perfect freedom, I can't stand a mixture.


[15] L   To Romanus.

You have missed being present at a wonderfully funny scene. I was not there myself, but I heard all about it just after it had taken place. Passennus Paullus, a distinguished Roman knight, and a man of real learning, is given to writing elegiacs. The habit runs in the family, for he belongs to the same township as Propertius did, *   and he even reckons that poet among his ancestors. He was about to give a reading, and began thus: - "Priscus, you bid me." Thereupon Javolenus Priscus, who happened to be present as one of Paullus's most intimate friends, exclaimed, "Indeed I do nothing of the sort." **   You can imagine how people are laughing and joking about this. Priscus certainly is not thought to be quite right in his head, but he enjoys public offices, he is summoned to the bench as magistrate, and he even acts as a public legal expert. All this made his remark the more ludicrous and extraordinary. Meantime his friend's mad exclamation has considerably chilled Paullus's enthusiasm. It shows how careful those who give readings should be that they are quite sane themselves, and only invite sane folks to hear them.   Farewell.

(*)   Asisium in Umbria (the modern Assisi).

(*)   Javolenus Priscus was in fact a distinguished jurist, head of a school of jurisprudence, legate in Britain, Upper Germany, and Syria, and governor of Africa; and this outburst may have been merely an indication of boredom and impatience.


[16] L   To Tacitus.

You ask me to send you an account of my uncle's death, so that you may be able to give posterity an accurate description of it. I am much obliged to you, for I can see that the immortality of his fame is well assured, if you take in hand to write of it. For although he perished in a disaster which devastated some of the fairest regions of the land, and though he is sure of eternal remembrance like the peoples and cities that fell with him in that memorable calamity, though too he had written a large number of works of lasting value, yet the undying fame of which your writings are assured will secure for his a still further lease of life. For my own part, I think that those people are highly favoured by Providence who are capable either of performing deeds worthy of the historian's pen or of writing histories worthy of being read, but that they are peculiarly favoured who can do both. Among the latter I may class my uncle, thanks to his own writings and to yours. So I am all the more ready to fulfil your injunctions, nay, I am even prepared to beg to be allowed to undertake them.

My uncle was stationed at Misenum, where he was in active command of the fleet, with full powers. On the 24th of August, about the seventh hour, my mother drew his attention to the fact that a cloud of unusual size and shape had made its appearance. He had been out in the sun, followed by a cold bath, and after a light meal he was lying down and reading. Yet he called for his sandals, and climbed up to a spot from which he could command a good view of the curious phenomenon. Those who were looking at the cloud from some distance could not make out from which mountain it was rising - it was afterwards discovered to have been Mount Vesuvius - but in likeness and form it more closely resembled a pine-tree than anything else, for what corresponded to the trunk was of great length and height, and then spread out into a number of branches, the reason being, I imagine, that while the vapour was fresh, the cloud was borne upwards, but when the vapour became wasted, it lost its motion, or even became dissipated by its own weight, and spread out laterally. At times it looked white, and at other times dirty and spotted, according to the quantity of earth and cinders that were shot up.

To a man of my uncle's learning, the phenomenon appeared one of great importance, which deserved a closer study. He ordered a Liburnian galley to be got ready, and offered to take me with him, if I desired to accompany him, but I replied that I preferred to go on with my studies, and it so happened that he had assigned me some writing to do. He was just leaving the house when he received a written message from Rectina, the wife of Tascus, who was terrified at the peril threatening her - for her villa lay just beneath the mountain, and there were no means of escape save by shipboard - begging him to save her from her perilous position. So he changed his plans, and carried out with the greatest fortitude the task, which he had started as a scholarly inquiry.

He had the galleys launched and went on board himself, in the hope of succouring, not only Rcctina, but many others, for there were a number of people living along the shore owing to its delightful situation. He hastened, therefore, towards the place whence others were fleeing, and steering a direct course, kept the helm straight for the point of danger, so utterly devoid of fear that every movement of the looming portent and every change in its appearance he described and had noted down by his secretary, as soon as his eyes detected it. Already ashes were beginning to fall upon the ships, hotter and in thicker showers as they approached more nearly, with pumice-stones and black flints, charred and cracked by the heat of the flames, while their way was barred by the sudden shoaling of the sea bottom and the litter of the mountain on the shore. He hesitated for a moment whether to turn back, and then, when the helmsman warned him to do so, he exclaimed, "Fortune favours the bold ; try to reach Pomponianus." The latter was at Stabiae, separated by the whole width of the bay, for the sea there pours in upon a gently rounded and curving shore. Although the danger was not yet close upon him, it was none the less clearly seen, and it travelled quickly as it came nearer, so Pomponianus had got his baggage together on shipboard, and had determined upon flight, and was waiting for the wind which was blowing on shore to fall. My uncle sailed in with the wind fair behind him, and embraced Pomponianus, who was in a state of fright, comforting and cheering him at the same time. Then in order to calm his friend's fears by showing how composed he was himself, he ordered the servants to carry him to the bath, and, after his ablutions, he sat down and had dinner in the best of spirits, or with that assumption of good spirits which is quite as remarkable as the reality.

In the meantime broad sheets of flame, which rose high in the air, were breaking out in a number of places on Mount Vesuvius and lighting up the sky, and the glare and brightness seemed all the more striking owing to the darkness of the night. My uncle, in order to allay the fear of his companions, kept declaring that the country people in their terror had left their fires burning, and that the conflagration they saw arose from the blazing and empty villas. Then he betook himself to rest and enjoyed a very deep sleep, for his breathing, which, owing to his bulk, was rather heavy and loud, was heard by those who were waiting at the door of his chamber. But by this time the courtyard leading to the room he occupied was so full of ashes and pumice-stones mingled together, and covered to such a depth, that if he had delayed any longer in the bedchamber there would have been no means of escape. So my uncle was aroused, and came out and joined Pomponianus and the rest who had been keeping watch. They held a consultation whether they should remain indoors or wander forth in the open; for the buildings were beginning to shake with the repeated and intensely severe shocks of earthquake, and seemed to be rocking to and fro as though they had been torn from their foundations. Outside again there was danger to be apprehended from the pumice-stones, though these were light and nearly burnt through, and thus, after weighing the two perils, the latter course was determined upon. With my uncle it was a choice of reasons which prevailed, with the rest a choice of fears.

They placed pillows on their heads and secured them with cloths, as a precaution against the falling bodies. Elsewhere the day had dawned by this time, but there it was still night, and the darkness was blacker and thicker than any ordinary night. This, however, they relieved as best they could by a number of torches and other kinds of lights. They decided to make their way to the shore, and to see from the nearest point whether the sea would enable them to put out, but it was still running high and contrary. A sheet was spread on the ground, and on this my uncle lay, and twice he called for a draught of cold water, which he drank. Then the flames, and the smell of sulphur which gave warning of them, scattered the others in flight and roused him. Leaning on two slaves, he rose to his feet and immediately fell down again, owing, as I think, to his breathing being obstructed by the thickness of the fumes and congestion of the stomach, that organ being naturally weak and narrow, and subject to inflammation. When daylight returned - two days after the last day he had seen - his body was found untouched, uninjured, and covered, dressed just as he had been in life. The corpse suggested a person asleep rather than a dead man.

Meanwhile my mother and I were at Misenum. But that is of no consequence for the purposes of history, nor indeed did you express a wish to be told of anything except of my uncle's death. So I will say no more, except to add that I have given you a full account both of the incidents which I myself witnessed and of those narrated to me immediately afterwards, when, as a rule, one gets the truest account of what has happened. You will pick out what you think will answer your purpose best, for to write a letter is a different thing from writing a history, and to write to a friend is not like writing to all and sundry.   Farewell.


[17] L   To Restitutus.

I cannot contain the indignation which I felt when I attended the reading of a certain friend of mine, and I feel I must give vent to it in a letter, as I have no opportunity of so doing in conversation with you. The piece he was reading was really perfect, but two or three clever persons - at least they and a few others think they are clever - listened to it as though they were deaf mutes. They never parted their lips, or raised a hand, nor did they rise from their places even after they were tired of sitting. What meant this gravity of demeanour and this profound wisdom ? Or, I should say, how can people be so lazy, so arrogant, so perverse, and such lunatics as to spend a whole day in giving offence, and leave the man your enemy whom you came to see as a close friend? Is it because of superior learning? Yet that would be all the more reason not to be envious, for the man who envies another shows his inferiority. But the fact is, that whether a man is superior, inferior, or on the same level, he should have a word of praise for his inferiors, superiors, and equals. He should praise those who excel him, because he will not get praise himself, unless he praises them, and his inferiors and equals, because it is a good thing for his reputation to stand as high as possible in the regard of those who are on a lower or on the same level as himself. For my own part, I make a practice of paying respectful attention to all who do anything at all in literature, and I tender them my admiration. For she is a difficult, arduous, and disdainful mistress, who speedily shows her contempt for those who hold her in slight respect. I feel sure that you thoroughly agree with me, for who is there possesses a greater reverence for learning than yourself, and who takes a kindlier estimate of its worth ? That is why I have chosen you of all people as the confidant of my indignation, for I would rather have you to share my sentiments than anyone else.   Farewell.


[18] L   To Sabinus.

You ask me to undertake the cause of the town of Firmum, and, though I am up to the eyes in work, I will do my best, for I am anxious to lay under an obligation to me so distinguished a colony by pleading in its behalf, and yourself by obliging you in a matter in which you are so interested. For inasmuch as you regard our friendship as an advantage and honour to yourself, and constantly say so to others, there is no favour which I ought to deny you, especially when you ask it for the sake of your birthplace. For what can be more honourable than the dutiful entreaties of a patriotic citizen, and what more efficacious than those of a devoted friend? So you may pledge my loyalty to your, or rather our good people of Firmum. Their reputation is sufficient guarantee that they are worthy of my best work and skill, but a still better proof that they are excellent folk is the fact that a man like you lives in their midst.   Farewell.


[19] L   To Nepos.

You know that the price of land, especially in the suburbs of Rome, has gone up. The cause of this sudden increase in value has been the theme of general discussion. At the last elections the senate passed the following wholesome resolutions; "That no candidates should provide public entertainments, send presents, and deposit sums of money.'' The first two practices had gone on openly, and been carried beyond all reasonable lengths ; the last-named had been indulged in secretly, but still to every one's knowledge. So our friend Homullus clearly availed himself of the unanimity of the senate, and, instead of making a speech, he asked that the consuls should acquaint the Emperor with the wishes of the whole body of senators, and beg him to take steps to devise means to put a stop to this evil, as he had already done to other scandals. He has done so, for by means of the Corrupt Practices Act he has restricted the shameful and scandalous expenses which candidates used to incur, and he has issued orders that all candidates shall have invested a third of their patrimony in land. He very justly took the view that it was disgraceful that candidates for public offices should regard Rome and Italy, not as their mother country, but as a mere inn or lodging-place, in which they were staying as travellers. So the candidates are busy running about buying up whatever they hear is on sale, and they are forcing a number of estates into the market. Consequently if you are tired of your Italian estates, now is the real good time to sell them and buy others in the provinces, for the candidates have to sell their provincial properties to enable them to purchase here.   Farewell.


[20] L   To Tacitus.

You say that the letter which I wrote to you at your request, describing the death of my uncle, *   has made you anxious to know not only the terrors, but also the distress I suffered while I remained behind at Misenum. I had indeed started to tell you of these, but then broke off. Well, "though my mind shudders at the recollection, I will essay the task". **

After my uncle had set out I employed the remainder of the time with my studies, for I had stayed behind for that very purpose. Afterwards I had a bath, dined, and then took a brief and restless sleep. For many days previous there had been slight shocks of earthquake, which were not particularly alarming, because they are common enough in Campania. But on that night the shocks were so intense that everything round us seemed not only to be disturbed, but to be tottering to its fall. My mother rushed into my bedchamber, just as I myself was getting up in order to arouse her if she was still sleeping. We sat down in the courtyard of the house, which was of smallish size and lay between the sea and the buildings. I don't know whether my behaviour should be called courageous or rash - for I was only in my eighteenth year - but I called for a volume of Titus Livius, and read it, as though I were perfectly at my ease, and went on making my usual extracts. Then a friend of my uncle's, who had but a little time before come to join him from Spain, on seeing my mother and myself sitting there and me reading, upbraided her for her patience and me for my indifference, but I paid no heed, and pored over my book.

It was now the first hour of the day, but the light was still faint and weak. The buildings all round us were beginning to totter, and, though we were in the open, the courtyard was so narrow that we were greatly afraid, and indeed sure of being overwhelmed by their fall. So that decided us to leave the town. We were followed by a distracted crowd, which, when in a panic, always prefers someone else's judgment to its own as the most prudent course to adopt, and when we set out these people came crowding in masses upon us, and pressed and urged us forward. We came to a halt when we had passed beyond the buildings, and underwent there many wonderful experiences and terrors. For although the ground was perfectly level, the vehicles which we had ordered to be brought with us began to sway to and fro, and though they were wedged with stones, we could not keep them still in their places. Moreover, we saw the sea drawn back upon itself, and, as it were, repelled by the quaking of the earth. The shore certainly was greatly widened, and many marine creatures were stranded on the dry sands. On the other side, the black, fearsome cloud of fiery vapour burst into long, twisting, zigzag flames and gaped asunder, the flames resembling lightning flashes, only they were of greater size. Then indeed my uncle's Spanish friend exclaimed sharply, and with an air of command, to my mother and me, "If your brother and your uncle is still alive, he will be anxious for you to save yourselves; if he is dead, I am sure he wished you to survive him. Come, why do you hesitate to quit this place?" We replied that we could not think of looking after our own safety while we were uncertain of his. He then waited no longer, but tore away as fast as he could and got clear of danger.

Soon afterwards the cloud descended upon the earth, and covered the whole bay ; it encircled Capri and hid it from sight, and we could no longer see the promontory of Misenum. Then my mother prayed, entreated, and commanded me to fly as best I could, saying that I was young and could escape, while she was old and infirm, and would not fear to die, if only she knew that she had not been the cause of my death. I replied that I would not save myself unless I could save her too, and so, after taking tight hold of her hand, I forced her to quicken her steps. She reluctantly obeyed, accusing herself for retarding my flight. Then the ashes began to fall, but not thickly: I looked back, and a dense blackness was rolling up behind us, which spread itself over the ground and followed like a torrent. "Let us turn aside," I said, "while we can still see, lest we be thrown down in the road and trampled on in the darkness by the thronging crowd." We were considering what to do, when the blackness of night overtook us, not that of a moonless or cloudy night, but the blackness of pent-up places which never see the light. You could hear the wailing of women, the screams of little children, and the shouts of men ; some were trying to find their parents, others their children, others their wives, by calling for them and recognising them by their voices alone. Some were commiserating their own lot, others that of their relatives, while some again prayed for death in sheer terror of dying. Many were lifting up their hands to the gods, but more were declaring that now there were no more gods, and that this night would last for ever, and the end of all the world. Nor were there wanting those who added to the real perils by inventing new and false terrors, for some said that part of Misenum was in ruins and the rest in flames, and though the tale was untrue, it found ready believers.

A gleam of light now appeared, which seemed to us not so much daylight as a token of the approaching fire. The latter remained at a distance, but the darkness came on again, and the ashes once more fell thickly and heavily. We had to keep rising and shaking the latter off us, or we should have been buried by them and crushed by their weight. I might boast that not one groan or cowardly exclamation escaped my lips, despite these perils, had I not believed that I and the world were perishing together - a miserable consolation, indeed, yet one which a mortal creature finds very soothing. At length the blackness became less dense, and dissipated as it were into smoke and cloud ; then came the real light of day, and the sun shone out, but as blood-red as it appears at its setting. Our still trembling eyes saw that everything had been transformed, and covered with a deep layer of ashes, like snow. Making our way back to Misenum, we refreshed our bodies as best we could, and passed an anxious, troubled night, hovering between hope and fear. But our fears were uppermost, for the shocks of earthquake still continued, and several persons, driven frantic by dreadful prophecies, made sport of their own calamities and those of others. For our own part, though we had already passed through perils, and expected still more to come, we had no idea even then of leaving the town until we got news of my uncle.

You will not read these details, which are not up to the dignity of history, as though you were about to incorporate them in your writings, and if they seem to you to be hardly worth being made the subject of a letter, you must take the blame yourself, inasmuch as you insisted on having them. Farewell

(*)   See letter 16 of this book.

(**)   A quotation from Virgil, Aeneid ii. 12.


[21] L   To Caninius.

I am one of those who admire the ancients, but not to the extent of despising the genius of our own times, like some people do. For nature is not so exhausted and worn out that she can no longer produce anything worthy of our praise. So, a short time ago, I attended a reading by Vergilius Romanus, who was reading a comedy of his to a few people, and it was so skilfully modelled on the lines of the old comedy, that in days to come it may very well serve as a model itself. I am not sure whether you know the author, though you certainly ought to have made his acquaintance, for he is a man quite out of the common, owing to the uprightness of his conduct, the elegance of his wit, and the versatility of his genius. He has written some mimiambi, *   graceful, smart, polished, and containing as much eloquence as that style of poem permits of. Indeed, there is no sort of composition which may not be described as eloquent if it be perfect of its kind. He has also written comedies in the style of Menander and other poets of the same period, and these are well worthy of being classed with those of Plautus and Terence. Now he has tried his hand for the first time in public with the old comedy, but it is not as if it were his first attempt in it. In his play neither force, dignity, neatness, satire, charm, nor wit was wanting; he made virtue more lovely, and assailed vice ; when he made use of an assumed name, he did so with propriety; when he utilised a real one, he did so without travesty. Only so far as I was concerned did his good nature lead him to overstep the mark, but then poets are privileged to draw on their imagination. In short, I will coax the volume out of him, and send it on to you for you to read, or rather, learn by heart, for I am quite sure that you will not put it down if once you take it up.   Farewell.

(*)   See note on letter iv. 3.


[22] L   To Tiro.

A case has just been heard which is of great importance to all who are to govern provinces, and to all who entrust themselves too implicitly to their friends. Lustricius Bruttianus, after detecting Montanus Atticinus, his colleague, in a number of criminal offences, wrote a letter to Caesar. Atticinus thereupon added to his misdeeds by accusing the friend whom he had deceived. A judicial examination was granted, and I was one of the judges. Each party pleaded his own case, but in a summary fashion and without going into detail, a method of pleading by which the truth is easily got at. Bruttianus produced his will, which he declared was in the handwriting of Atticinus, for, by so doing, he proved the intimacy of their friendship, and the necessity he was under of complaining of one who had previously been so dear to him. He read a list of disgraceful offences, which were clearly proved, and when Atticinus found that he could not disprove them, he dealt with him in such a way as to appear a rascal when he was excusing himself, and a villain when he was accusing Bruttianus. For it transpired that he had bribed the slave of Bruttianus's secretary, intercepted the diaries and cut out passages therefrom, thus, by a piece of shameful wickedness, making capital out of his own offences against his friend. Caesar acted most nobly, for he at once put the question, not about Bruttianus, but Atticinus. The latter was found guilty and banished to an island, while Bruttianus received a well-earned tribute to his integrity, and he also won a reputation for the way he saw the matter through. For after he had cleared his good name as quickly as possible, he carried the war boldly into the enemy's camp and thus proved himself to be as resolute as he was honourable and upright. I have written you this letter to warn you, now that you have gone out to be a provincial governor, *   to rely as far as possible on yourself, and to trust no one too implicitly. I also want you to know that if - which Heaven forbid - anyone should play you false, there is punishment ready waiting for the offender. However, be continually on your guard that the necessity may not arise, for though it is gratifying to get one's revenge, the gratification is no compensation for the annoyance of having been tricked.   Farewell.

(*)   His province was Baetica, in Spain.


[23] L   To Triarius.

You ask me as a great favour to plead in a case in which you are closely interested, and a case which is honourable in itself and will bring the advocate reputation. I will do so, but not for nothing. "How comes it," you will say, "that Pliny demands a fee?" Well, it is so, for I shall demand a price which will be more to my honour than if I consented to plead for nothing. I want - indeed I stipulate - that Cremutius Ruso shall plead with me. This is an old custom of mine, and I have acted upon it in favour of a number of young men of distinction. For I take great pleasure in introducing worthy young men to the forum and starting them on the road to fame. I owe this service to my friend Ruso, above all others, both on account of his lineage and the great affection which he bears me, and I think it is important that he should be seen and heard in the same court and on the same side as myself. So oblige me in this matter, and do so before he speaks, for after he has spoken you will, I am sure, thank me. I can answer for him that he will neither disappoint your anxiety to win nor my hopes, and that he will not fail to rise to the importance of the case. He has splendid natural talents, and will soon be introducing others to the bar when once he has been introduced there by us. For no one, however clever, can rise to distinction unless he gets his opportunity, and a chance of displaying his abilities, as well as the recommendation and encouragement of a friend.   Farewell.


[24] L   To Macer.

How much our estimation of any deed depends upon the doer ! For the self-same actions may be lauded to the skies or looked down upon with contempt according to whether those who perform thorn are famous or obscure. I was sailing across our Larian Lake, *   when a friend, who is well on in years, pointed out to me a villa, and more especially a bedchamber which was built out over the lake. "From that window," he said, "a townswoman of ours some years ago threw herself into the lake with her husband." I asked the cause. It appears that the husband had been suffering for a long time from festering ulcers in the private parts. His wife begged him to let her see the sore, and promised that she would tell him faithfully whether or not a cure was possible. After an examination she saw there was no hope, and advised him to die, not only sharing death with him but taking the lead, inspiring him by her example, and leaving him no loophole for escape ; for she tied herself to her husband, and then they hurled themselves into the lake. Yet I never heard of this incident until just recently, although I was born in the same town; not because her deed was less heroic than the famous deed of Arria, **   but because she herself was a person of less distinction.   Farewell.

(*)   Now called Lago di Como.

(**)   See letter iii. 16.


[25] L   To Hispanus.

You say that Robustus, a Roman knight of distinction, travelled as far as Ocriculum in the company of my friend Atilius Scaurus, and from that point nothing has been heard of him, and you ask that Scaurus may come, and, if possible, put us on the track of the missing man and help in the search. He certainly shall, but I am afraid that he will do little good ; for I suspect that Robustus has met something like the same fate which befell some years ago Metilius Crispus, a fellow-townsman of mine. I had obtained for him a military appointment, and on his departure had presented him with 40,000 sesterces towards the purchase of his arms and accoutrements, but I never afterwards heard from him, nor did I ever get news of his death. Whether he was waylaid by his servants, or whether the latter perished with him, no one knows; for certainly neither he nor any of his slaves have ever been seen since. I pray Heaven that we may not find that Robustus has met a like fate ! However, let us hasten Scaurus's arrival. That is the least I can do in answer to your entreaties, and the very proper entreaties of the excellent young man who is showing such remarkable filial love and sagacity in trying to find his father. I do hope he may be as successful in finding him as he was in discovering in whose company he was travelling.   Farewell.


[26] L   To Servianus.

I am delighted to congratulate you on having betrothed your daughter to Fuscus Salinator. He comes of a patrician family, his father was a most honourable man, and his mother was equally universally respected, while he himself is devoted to study, well read and even learned, with the frankness of a boy, the pleasant manners of a youth, and the gravity of old age. Nor do I let my love for him bias my judgment. It is true that my affection is very great, and he deserves it for the attentions and respectful regard he has shown me, but I still retain my powers of judgment, and exercise them the more keenly the more my love for him grows. So I speak as one who knows every feature of his character, and I can assure you that you will have for a son-in-law one whose superior you could not imagine, even if your dearest hopes were fulfilled. I only hope that he may soon make you a grandfather, and present you with grandchildren like himself. Happy indeed will be the day when I shall be able to lift off your knees his children and your grandchildren - or rather my children or grandchildren - and embrace them as though they were my very own.   Farewell.


[27] L   To Severus.

You ask me to think out for you the headings of the speech you will deliver as consul-designate in praise of the Emperor. It is no difficult matter to find what to say, but it is difficult to know what to choose, for his virtues afford such wide scope for an address. However, I will write as you require, or - as I should prefer - will tell you in private conversation, as soon as I have shown you my chief reason for hesitating to do so. For I am doubtful whether I ought to persuade you to make the same sort of speech that I did. When I was consul-designate I carefully refrained from everything which looked like adulation, even though it was not, not so much to prove my independence and resolution as to show that I fully understood our sovereign's worth, for I saw that it would redound most to his praise if I avoided the appearance of being obliged to propose the honours I did. I even recalled the fact that honours had been showered on the very worst emperors, from whom our excellent emperor could not better be distinguished than by a different form of addressing him in the senate, and my reason for not passing over this point in silence was to prevent his thinking that it was forgetfulness on my part rather than my settled opinion. Such was the course I took ; but the same line of argument does not please or suit all speakers. Moreover, not only do men differ, but circumstances and times change, and the wisdom of following or not following a certain course of action depends entirely on these mutations of men and things. The recent achievements of our most noble Emperor *   offer a new, abundant, and justifiable theme for panegyric. For these reasons, as I said before, I am not sure whether to recommend you to adopt the line which I took, but I am quite sure that it was my duty to lay before you the method which I pursued, in order to help you to a decision.   Farewell.

(*)   Trajan returned from his victories in Dacia in 106 A.D.


[28] L   To Pontius.

I know the reason which prevented your being able to welcome me on my arrival in Campania, but though you were absent you still managed to make your way there and your influence felt. So abundant were the supplies of town and country produce offered me in your name, and I was unconscionable enough to accept them all ! For your people begged me to do so, and I was afraid you would be cross both with them and me if I did not. For the future, however, unless you set some bounds to your hospitality, I shall have to, and I have even warned your people that, if they bring such a load of things again, I shall send them all back. You will say that I ought to help myself to your property as though it were my own. Quite so, but I do so as sparingly as though it were mine. Farewell


[29] L   To Quadratus.

Avidius Quietus, who loved me like a brother, and - what was equally gratifying to me - approved my general conduct, used to quote a number of the sayings of Thrasea, with whom he was on terms of intimacy. Among them was this maxim - a favourite one of his - that a pleader ought to undertake either the causes of his friends, or those which others refused to touch, or those which were likely to be quoted as precedents. No explanation is needed why one should espouse the cause of one's friends, while the second class of causes should be undertaken as the best means of proving one's resolution and humanity, and the third class because it is a matter of the highest importance whether a good or bad precedent is created. Personally, though it may seem rather ambitious on my part, I should add to these separate classes a fourth - viz., causes which are distinguished and eminent in themselves. For it is only right that a pleader should sometimes work for glory and fame - that is to say, should plead his own cause. As you have asked my advice, these are the bounds which I should set to your dignity and modesty. I do not forget that practice both is and is considered to be the best teacher of the art of pleading, and I see many persons who, with little natural ability and absolutely no literary skill, have by constant practice acquired the art of speaking well. None the less, I find that the saying of Pollio, or the saying which is attributed to him, is perfectly true: "By pleading well I obtained great practice, but my great practice made me plead less well" - for the truth is, that if we practise too much we acquire fluency rather than point, and develop rashness rather than confidence. It did not stand in the way of Isocrates being considered a consummate orator that his voice was so weak and his timidity so great as to prevent his speaking in public.

So my advice is:- Read, write, and study all you can, so that you may be able to speak when you desire to, and you will then only speak when you ought to desire to. I myself have kept to this rule ; sometimes I have bowed to necessity, which itself ranks as a reason. For I have undertaken certain causes at the bidding of the senate, among them being some which would fall into the class described by Thrasea as cases which were likely to form precedents. I appeared for the Baetici against Baebius Massa, *   when the question was whether their request for an examination into their charges should be allowed. It was allowed. I appeared for the same clients against Caecilius Classicus, **   when the question was whether the provincials ought to be punished as partners and ministers of the pro-consul's in his crimes. They were punished. I accused Marius Priscus,   who, on being condemned for extortion, was availing himself of the clemency of the law, though the magnitude of his offences more than merited the severest punishment to which he was liable under the terms of that law. He was banished. I defended Julius Bassus, ††   as one who had been grossly careless and off his guard, but without a thought of deliberate malice. His demand to be tried by judges was granted, and he retained his place in the senate. Lastly, I spoke on behalf of Varenus,   who asked permission that he too should be allowed to bring witnesses from his province. Permission was given. For the future, I hope when I am ordered to take up a case it may always be one which it would become me to have taken up on my own initiative.   Farewell.

(*)   In 93 A.D.; see letter vii.33.

(**)   In 101 A.D.; see letter iii.9.

(†)   In 99-100 A.D.; see letter ii.11.

(††)   In 102-3 A.D.; see letter iv.9.

(‡)   In 106-7 A.D.; see letter vi.5.


[30] L   To Fabatus.

I really must keep your birthday as strictly as my own, since the happiness of mine depends upon yours, and it is thanks to your diligence and forethought that we are cheerful here and have no anxieties in our other home. Your Camillan *   villa in Campania is rather the worse for wear and age, but the more valuable portions of it are still quite sound, or but slightly damaged. So I am looking after its being put in a state of thorough repair. I appear to have a multitude of friends, but hardly one of the kind which you care for, and that the business in hand really requires. For they are all persons of quality and city men, while to look after a country estate one wants a country-bred person of a rougher type, who will not think the work onerous, or the duties beneath his dignity, or the quiet of the country depressing. Your good estimate of Rufus is quite sound and just, for he was an intimate friend of your son. But whether he can fulfil the duties for you out there I don't know, though I feel confident he is all anxiety to do his best.   Farewell.

(*)   This probably means, "which was once the property of Camillus."


[31] L   To Cornelianus.

I was greatly delighted when our Emperor sent for me to Centum Cellae - for that is the name of the place - to act as a member of his Council. For what could be more gratifying than to be privileged to witness the justice, dignity, and charming manners of the Emperor in his country retreat, where he allows these qualities the freest play? There were a variety of cases to be heard, and they were of a kind to bring out the virtues of the judge in different ways and forms.

Claudius Aristo, the leading citizen at Ephesus, a man of great generosity, and who had won popularity by innocent means, pleaded his own case. His popularity had made people envious of him, and some of his enemies, who were utterly unlike him in character, had suborned a man to lay information against him. So he was acquitted, and his reputation vindicated. On the following day was taken the case of Galitta, who was accused of adultery. She was the wife of a military tribune, who was about to stand for public office, and she had compromised her own reputation and her husband's by intriguing with a centurion. The husband had reported the matter to the consular legate, and the latter had reported it to Caesar. After carefully examining the proofs, the Emperor degraded the centurion, and even banished him. Still the punishment was not complete, for adultery is an offence in which two perils are necessarily concerned, but the husband's affection for his wife, whom he allowed to remain in his house even I after discovering her adultery - content as it were to have trot his rival out of the way - led him to delay the prosecution, in spite of the scandal to which his forbearance gave rise. He was summoned to carry the charge through, and did so against his will. However, it was necessary that she should be condemned, even though her accuser did not wish her to be, and she was declared guilty, and sentenced to the punishment inflicted by the Julian Law. *   Caesar affixed to the sentence both the name of the centurion and a statement of the rules of military discipline on the point, lest people should think that he reserved the right to hear all such cases himself.

On the third day began the inquiry into the will of Julius Tiro, a case which had been greatly talked about, and had given rise to conflicting reports, inasmuch as it was known that the will was genuine in part, and in part a forgery. The accused were Sempronius Senecio, a Roman knight, and Eurythmus, one of Caesar's freedmen and agents. When the Emperor was in Dacia, the heirs had written a joint letter, asking him to undertake an inquiry into the will, and he had consented. On his return he appointed a day, and when some of the heirs were in favour of letting the accusation drop, as though out of consideration for Eurythmus, he very finely said, "Eurythmus is not Polyclitus, and I am not Nero." **   Yet at their request he favoured them with a postponement, and when the day had at length arrived, he took his seat to hear the case. On the side of the heirs only two put in an appearance, and they demanded that as all had joined in the accusation, they should all be forced to go on with the action, or else that they too should be allowed to withdraw. Caesar spoke with great gravity and moderation, and when the advocate for Senecio and Eurythmus remarked that the accused would be left open to suspicion unless they were heard in their own behalf, he said, "I don't care whether they are left open to suspicion or not, I certainly am myself." Then turning to us, he said : "Consider what we ought to do; for these people want to complain that they were not allowed to prosecute." Subsequently, in accordance with the advice of his Council, he ordered that all the heirs should be instructed either to go on with the case, or that each should come and state sufficient reasons for not doing so, warning them that unless they did that he would go so far as to pronounce sentence against them for bringing false charges.

You see in what a strictly honourable and arduous manner we spent our days, though they were followed by the most agreeable relaxations. Every day we were summoned to dine with the Emperor, and modest dinners they were for one of his imperial position. Sometimes we listened to entertainers, sometimes we had delightful conversations lasting far into the night. On the last day, just as we were setting out, Caesar sent us parting presents, such is his thoughtfulness and courtesy. As for myself, I delighted in the importance of the cases heard, in the honour of being summoned to the Council, and in the charm and simplicity of his mode of life, while I was equally pleased with the place itself. The villa, which is exquisitely beautiful, is surrounded by meadows of the richest green; it abuts on the sea-shore, in the bight of which a harbour is being hastily formed, the left arm having been strengthened by masonry of great solidity, while the right is now in course of construction. In the mouth of the harbour an island rises out of the sea, which by its position breaks the force of the waves that are carried in by the wind, and affords a safe passage to ships on either side. The island has been artificially constructed, and is not a natural formation, for a broad barge brings up a number of immense stones, which are thrown into the water, one on top of the other, and these are kept in position by their own weight, and gradually become built up into a sort of breakwater. The ridge of stones already overtops the surface, and when the waves strike upon it, it breaks them into spray and throws them to a great height. That causes a loud-resounding roar, and the sea all round is white with foam. Subsequently concrete will be added to the stones, to give it the appearance of a natural island as time goes on. This harbour will be called - and indeed it already is called - after the name of its constructor, and it will prove a haven of the greatest value, inasmuch as there is a long stretch of shore which has no harbour, and the sailors will use this as a place of refuge.   Farewell.

(*)   Under the 'Lex Julia de adulteriis', a woman forfeited half her dowry and was banished to an island.

(**)   Polyclitus was a freedman of Nero. The sense is, "I do not favour my freedmen, and condone their oppressions and extortions, as Nero did."


[32] L   To Quintilian.

Although you yourself are most modest in your requirements, and you have brought up your daughter to be the same - as indeed was becoming in a daughter of yours and a granddaughter of Tutilius - yet as she is about to marry a man of such position as that held by Nonius Celer, who is bound to keep up a certain style owing to his civic offices, she ought to have clothes and a staff of servants to tally with her husband's position. For though these things will not add to her worth, yet they do set off and enhance her virtues. I know that you are exceedingly rich in mental endowments, but that your means are limited, and so I have taken upon myself to discharge part of the expenses, and make a present of 50,000 sesterces to her whom I consider to be my daughter as well as yours. I would give more, but I know your modesty to be such that the smallness of the present will be the only inducement to you not to refuse to accept it.   Farewell.


[33] L   To Romanus.

"Away with it all," cried Vulcan, "and cease the task you have begun." *   Whether you are writing or reading, bid your people take away your pens and books, and receive this speech of mine, which is as divine as the arms made by Vulcan. Could conceit go further? But frankly, I think it is a fine speech, as compared with my other efforts, and I am satisfied to try and beat my own record. It is on behalf of Attia Viriola, and is worth attention owing to the lady's high position, the singular character of the case, and the importance of the trial. She was a person of high birth, was married to a man of praetorian rank, and was disinherited by her octogenarian father within eleven days after he had fallen violently in love, married a second time, and given Attia a step-mother. She sued for her father's effects in the Four Courts. **   A hundred and eighty judges sat to hear the case, for that is the number appointed for the Four Chambers ; there was a crowd of advocates on both sides, and the benches were packed, while there was also a dense ring of people standing many deep around the whole spacious court. Moreover, the tribunal was closely filled, and even in the upper galleries of the hall men and women leant over both to see and hear what was going on, the former being easy but the latter difficult of accomplishment. Fathers, daughters, and step-mothers were on the tip-toe of expectation. The fortunes of the day varied, for in two courts we were victorious, and in two we were beaten. It seemed an extraordinary and remarkable thing, that with the same judges and the same advocates there should be such different verdicts at one and the same time, and that this should be due to chance, though it did not so appear to be. The step-mother, who had been made heir to a sixth of the property, lost, and so too did Suberinus,   who, in spite of having been disinherited by his own father, had the amazing impudence to claim the property of someone else's father, but did not dare to claim that of his own.

I have entered into these explanations, in the first place to acquaint you by letter of certain facts which you could not gather from the speech, and secondly - for I will be frank, and tell you my little tricks - to make you the more willing to read the speech, by leading you to imagine that you are not merely reading it, but are actually present at the trial. Though the speech is a long one, I am in some hope that it will meet with as kind a reception as a very short one. For the interest is constantly renewed by the fullness of the subject-matter, the neat way in which it is divided, the number of digressions, and the different kinds of eloquence employed. Many parts of it - I would not venture to say so to anyone but yourself - are of sustained dignity, many are controversial, many are closely argued. For constantly, in the midst of my most passionate and lofty passages, I was obliged to go into calculations, and almost had to call for counters and a table to carry them through, the consequence being that the court of law was suddenly turned into a sort of private counting-house. I gave free play to my indignation, to my anger, to my resentment, and so I sailed along, as it were, in this long pleading, as though I were on a vast sea, with a variety of winds to fill my sails. In fine, to say what I said before, some of my intimate friends repeatedly tell me that this speech of mine is as much above my previous efforts as Demosthenes' speech on behalf of Ctesiphon is above his others. Whether they are right in their judgment you will have no difficulty in deciding, for your memory of all my speeches is so good that by merely reading this one you can institute a comparison with them all. Farewell

(*)   The words in which Vulcan, in the Aeneid (viii. 439), bids the Cyclopes throw aside what they were engaged on, in order to devote their attention to the manufacture of arms for Aeneas.

(**)   There were 180 jurors in the centumviral court. Four separate panels were chosen from this pool; but in unusual cases they might all sit together.

(†)   Apparently, the step-mother's son.


[34] L   To Maximus.

You did quite right in promising a gladiatorial display to my clients at Verona, for they have long loved you, looked up to you, and honoured you. You took from that city your dearly loved and most estimable wife, and you owe to her memory some public work or festival, and a gladiatorial show is most suitable for a funeral honour. Besides, as the people were so unanimous in asking for that form of entertainment, you would have appeared boorish rather than consistent had you refused. Whereas now it stands to your credit that you were not only lavish in giving the show, but were easily persuaded to do so, and it is in matters such as these that magnanimity is disclosed. I wish that the numerous African panthers you had bought had turned up by the appointed day, but it may be that they were detained by stress of weather. At any rate you have deserved the fullest credit for them, for it was not your fault that the exhibition was not complete.   Farewell.

Book 7


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