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Pliny the Younger : Letters

    - BOOK 9

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 Maximus   2 Sabinus   3 Paulinus   4 Macrinus   5 Tiro   6 Calvisius   7 Romanus   8 Augurinus   9 Colonus   10 Tacitus   11 Geminus   12 Junior   13 Quadratus   14 Tacitus   15 Falco   16 Mamilianus   17 Genitor   18 Sabinus   19 Ruso   20 Venator   21 Sabinianus   22 Severus   23 Maximus   24 Sabinianus   25 Mamilianus   26 Lupercus   27 Paternus   28 Romanus   29 Rusticus   30 Geminus   31 Sardus   32 Titianus   33 Caninius   34 Tranquillus   35 Atrius   36 Fuscus   37 Paulinus   38 Saturninus   39 Mustius   40 Fuscus




[1] L   To Maximus.

I have often advised you to publish at the earliest possible opportunity the speeches which you composed either in your defence or against Planta, *   or, I should rather say, in your defence and against Planta, for so the subject-matter required. Now that I hear of his death, I do most earnestly beg and advise you to publish them. For though you have read them to a number of people and lent them to others, I should not like any one to think that you had not begun to write them until after his death, when they were already finished during his lifetime. Take care to preserve your reputation for firmness of character, as you will if you make it known both to your friends and enemies that you did not wait until your antagonist was dead before plucking up confidence enough to write, but that the edition was already prepared, and that he died before it could be published, by so doing, you will also escape the odium of glorying over the dead, which, as Homer says, **   is not seemly. For what has been written about a man in his lifetime may, if it be issued without delay, be published against him after he is dead, just as though he were still alive. If, therefore, you have any other work on your hands, postpone it for the time being, and carry through the publication of the speeches in question, which seemed to us who read them to be quite finished long ago. I hope you will now take the same view of it, for the matter is one which calls for no delay; indeed, the circumstances are such as to demand promptness.   Farewell.

(*)   Pompeius Planta, who was prefect of Egypt in 97-99 A.D.   He was succeeded by Vibius Maximus, to whom this letter is addressed.

(**)   Odyssey, xxii. 412.


[2] L   To Sabinus.

It is very kind of you to press me to write to you as many letters as possible, and as long as possible. I have been chary in so doing, partly because I was afraid you were very busy, and partly because I myself have been kept going with dull, dreary work, which not only distracts, but deadens one's energies. Besides, I have not really had anything to write about at greater length. For my position is vastly different from that of Marcus Tullius, whom you exhort me to take as my model. He not only had abundant wit, but his wit was kept well supplied with a variety of all-important subjects on which to exercise it. Whereas you can see for yourself, without my telling you, within what narrow limits I am confined, unless, indeed, I choose to send you letters full of points of philosophy and mere exercises of the study. But I fancy that would be scarcely suitable, when I think of you in your armour, living in camp, with the military horns and trumpets sounding round you, amid the sweat and dust, and heat of the sun. That, I consider, is a valid excuse for me, but I don't know whether I quite want you to think it valid. For when a man has a strong affection for his friends, he is apt to refuse all excuses for their letters being short, though he knows that their apologies are perfectly reasonable.   Farewell.


[3] L   To Paulinus.

Whatever view other people may take, I think he is the happiest man who enjoys in his lifetime the certain knowledge that his fame is good and lasting, and, sure of the judgment of posterity, lives and enjoys the glory that will be his in time to come. Had I not this reward of immortality before my eyes, nothing would please me more than a life of luxurious and profound repose. For I think that all men ought to consider that their reputation may be either imperishable or perishable; that those who desire the former ought to live laborious days, and the latter take things easily and slackly, and not worry their short lives with work that is bound to crumble away, as I see so many men do, who, after wasting their energies in a miserable and thankless kind of industry, only come to realise that their work is worthless. I am speaking to you as I speak to myself every day, though I may change my tone of converse with myself if you disagree with me. However, I know you will not, for you are for ever scheming out some noble and immortal work.   Farewell.


[4] L   To Macrinus.

I should be afraid of your thinking the speech which you will receive with this letter to be of undue length, were it not one of those which seem to be constantly beginning afresh and coming to new terminations. For each accusation may be considered a fresh subject. So, wherever you begin and wherever you leave off, you will be able to take up the thread of what follows as though you were commencing anew and it all hung together ; and, though the work as a whole may seem very long, its separate parts are very short.   Farewell.


[5] L   To Tiro.

You are doing splendidly - you see I make inquiries about you - and I hope you will continue to commend your love of justice to the provincials with courtesy and kindness to all. One of the principal tokens of justice is to make friends of all persons of merit, and to acquire the affection of your inferiors, while securing for yourself that of your superiors. There are many people who, in their anxiety not to appear to be standing too well with those in power, acquire a reputation for awkwardness and sour temper. That is a fault from which you are far removed, I know; but I cannot refrain, in expressing my approval of your conduct, from urging you to be careful to recognise distinctions of class and rank, for, if they be confused, and mixed up and jumbled together, nothing can be more unequal than the appearance of equality which is thus produced.   Farewell.


[6] L   To Calvisius.

I have been spending all my time here among my tablets and books as quietly as I could wish. "How is that possible," you ask, "in Rome?" Well, the Circensian games have been on, and that is a kind of spectacle which has not the slightest attraction for me. There is no novelty, no variety in it, nothing which one wants to see twice. Hence I am the more amazed that so many thousands of men *   should be eager, like a pack of children, to see horses running time after time, and the charioteers bending over their cars. There might be some reason for their enthusiasm if it was the speed of the horses or the skill of the drivers that was the attraction, but it is the racing-colours which they favour, and the racing-colours that fire their love. If, in the middle of the course and during the race itself, the colours were to be changed, their enthusiasm and partisanship would change with them, and they would suddenly desert the drivers and the horses, whom they recognise afar and whose names they shout aloud. Such is the influence and authority vested in one cheap tunic, I don't say with the common crowd, - for that is even cheaper than the tunic, - but with certain men of position; and when I consider that they can sit for so long without growing tired, looking on at such a fruitless, cheerless, and tedious sport, I really feel a sort of pleasure in the thought that what they take delight in has no charm for me. Thus it is that I have been only too glad to pass my leisure time among my books during the race-meeting, while others have been wasting their days in the most idle occupations.   Farewell.

(*)   The Circus Maximus, as extended by Nero, held 250,000 spectators, according to Pliny the Elder, HN. xxxvi. (24)102.


[7] L   To Romanus.

You tell me that you are building. That is well, and gives me the support I wanted, for I shall be able to justify my building, now that we are both in the same boat. Moreover, there is this further similarity, that while you are building by the sea-side, I am building by the Larian Lake. I have several villas on its shores, but there are two in particular which are special favourites of mine, and at the same time exercise my mind a good deal. One is situated on a rocky spur and overlooks the lake, like the villas at Baiae, and the other is on the margin of the lake, equally after the Baiae fashion. I like to call the one "Tragedy" and the other "Comedy," because the former is supported, as it were, by the buskin, and the latter by the sock. *   Each has special charms of its own, and each seems the pleasanter when one lives in it by reason of its dissimilarity from the other. The one has a closer, the other a more extensive view of the lake; the one commands a single gently-curving bay, the other, perched on its lofty ridge, lies between two bays ; in the one there is a long, level exercise ground stretching along the shore, in the other there is a spacious terrace with an easy slope; the one does not feel the contact of the waves, the other breaks their progress ; from the one you can look upon the people fishing, from the other you can fish yourself, and may throw your line from your bedroom, and almost from your bed, as though you were in a small boat. Such are the reasons which lead me to build on to these villas the additions they require, just because they are so charming as they are. But why should I give you a reason, when the fact that I am following your example is reason sufficient for you ?   Farewell.

(*)   Cothurnus: the high boot worn in tragedy. Socculus: the slipper worn in comedy.


[8] L   To Augurinus.

If I begin to sing your praises after the way you have sung mine, I am afraid you will fancy that I am merely returning the compliment and not saying what I really think. Well, I must risk that, for I consider all your writings are most charming, especially those in which you refer to myself. And this comes about for one and the same reason, for you are at your best when you are writing about your friends; and I, as I read, think you write best when you refer to me.   Farewell.


[9] L   To Colonus.

I quite understand and appreciate how deeply you are upset by the death of Pompeius Quintianus, so much so that your sense of his loss seems to make the dead man all the dearer to you. You are not like the majority of people, who only love the living, or rather pretend that they love them, and do not even make that pretence, unless they see that their friends are prosperous, for they forget the unfortunate just as they forget the dead. But your loyalty is abiding, and your love is so constant that it can only be ended by your death. Then again, Heaven knows how well Quintianus deserved to be loved just as he loved others. He loved his friends in their prosperity; if they were in trouble, he protected them ; when they died, he missed them sorely. How you could read his honesty in his face ; how carefully he weighed his words in conversation ; how evenly he mingled gaiety and gravity of demeanour! An earnest student, a man of ripe judgment, with what filial affection he lived with a father whose character was the very opposite of his, and yet his excellence as a son did not prevent people acknowledging his excellences as a man. But why do I make your trouble harder to bear? Yet, after all, your love for this young man was such that you would prefer me to write as I have done rather than say nothing about him, me of all people, inasmuch as you think that a few words of praise from me will be an ornament to his life, will help to perpetuate his memory, and will restore to him the youth from which he has been snatched away.   Farewell.


[10] L   To Tacitus.

I am anxious to obey your injunctions, but there is such a scarcity of wild boars that it is quite impossible for me to pay equal attention, as you say I ought, to both Minerva and Diana. And so I needs must serve Minerva alone, but in a dainty way, as it is summer time and I am holidaymaking. On my journey hither I wrote a few light pieces, fit only to be torn up at once, in the bubbling strain with which people gossip together in a carriage. I have added some others here in my country house when I had nothing else to do. And so the poems which you think ought to be finished off to best advantage amid the groves and woods are taking a rest. I have revised one or two little speeches, though that is not an agreeable or charming class of work, and more resembles the hard labour of the country than its pleasures.   Farewell.


[11] L   To Geminus.

I received your letter, which afforded me great pleasure, especially as you say that you wish me to write you something to be inserted in your books. I shall find a subject, either the one you suggest or some other, for there are certain objections to yours, as you will see if you look around you. I did not think that there were any booksellers at Lugdunum, and I am delighted to hear from you that my books are being sold there, for it is gratifying to find that they retain in foreign parts the popularity they have won at Rome. I begin to think that they must be fairly perfect when there is such unanimity about their merits in lands so far apart and in the judgment of persons so dissimilar.   Farewell.


[12] L   To Junior.

A friend of mine was thrashing his son for spending money too lavishly in buying horses and dogs. When the youth had gone, I said to the father : "Come now, did you never commit a fault, for which your father might have reproved you? Why, of course you have. Do you not now and then still commit actions for which your son would equally severely reprimand you, if your positions were suddenly changed, and he became the father and you the son? Are not all men liable to make mistakes? Does not one man indulge himself in one way and another in another?" I was so struck with this man's undue severity that I have written and told you about it, out of the affection we bear one another, so that you may never act with undue bitterness and harshness towards your son. Remember that he is a boy and that you have been a boy yourself, and in exercising your parental authority do not forget that you are a man and the father of a man.   Farewell.


[13] L   To Quadratus.

The more carefully and closely you have read the books I composed to vindicate the character of Helvidius, the more anxious, you say, you are for me to write an account of the whole affair from beginning to end, which you were too young to take any part in, giving you details which do not appear in my volumes as well as those which do. When Domitian was put to death, I took counsel with myself and came to the conclusion that there was now a splendid and glorious opportunity for prosecuting the guilty, vindicating the oppressed, and at the same time bringing myself into prominence. It seemed to me that of all the many crimes committed by that crowd of wretches, there was none more atrocious than that a senator should have laid violent hands upon another senator in the senate-house, that a man of praetorian rank should have assaulted a man of consular rank, and a judge an accused person. Besides, Helvidius and I were friends, so far as friendship was possible with one who, owing to the terrorism that prevailed, tried to conceal his illustrious name and equally illustrious virtues in strict retirement; and I was also a friend of Arria and Fannia, *   the former of whom was the step-mother of Helvidius, and the latter the mother of Arria.

But it was not so much my feelings as a friend, but my sense of public duty, my indignation at what had taken place, and the importance of the precedent, which stirred me. For the first few days after liberty had been restored each man was busy in his own interests impeaching his own private enemies - at least the more unimportant of them - and at once obtaining their condemnation, but all was being done with uproar and turbulence. I considered it would show greater modesty and boldness not to overthrow the worst criminal of them all on the general odium against the practices of the late reign, but to attack him on a specific charge, after the first furious outburst had worn itself out and the general rage was daily abating, and when men were beginning again to think of what was just. So, though I was in great distress at the time, for I had just recently lost my wife, **   I sent to Anteia - who was the wife of Helvidius - asking her to come and see me, as the bereavement I had recently suffered kept me still confined to my house. When she came, I said: "I have made up my mind not to let the death of your husband pass unavenged. Tell Arria and Fannia - they had already returned from exile - of my resolve, take counsel with yourself and them and decide whether you desire to be associated with a performance in which I do not need the assistance of a second, though I do not wish to be so greedy for my personal glory as to grudge you a share in it." Anteia took my message and they lost no time in complying, and it fortunately happened that the senate met three days afterwards.

It was my unfailing practice to consult Corellius on all matters, for I looked upon him as the most far-seeing and the wisest man of our time ; but in this business I was satisfied with my own judgment, for I was afraid that he would try and dissuade me from my design, as he was always rather prone to hesitation and caution. However, I could not make up my mind to refrain from giving him a hint, when the day came, of what I was going to do, though I did not ask his advice as to whether I should proceed with my intention, for I have found by experience that, when you have decided on a course of action, it is a mistake to consult as to its wisdom those whose advice you ought to follow when once you ask them for it.

I entered the senate ; I craved permission to address the house, and for a little time everyone agreed with what I said. But when I began to touch upon the charge I was bringing and foreshadow whom I was accusing - though I had not yet named him - there were loud cries of dissent from all sides. One exclaimed, "Let us know who it is that you are denouncing out of order? " ; another, "Who is it that is being put on his trial before he has been impeached ?" ; another, "Let us who survive remain in security." I listened without fear or trepidation, sustained by the righteousness of the cause I had undertaken, while it always materially contributes to one's confidence or fear whether one's audience is merely unwilling to hear your case or actively disapproves of it. It would be tedious to relate all the exclamations which were flung from side to side, but at last the consul said : "Secundus, you will be given an opportunity of saying what you wish to say when it comes to your turn to speak." To that I replied: "That will be a favour which you grant to everyone." Then I sat down, and other business was transacted. In the meantime one of my friends, a man of consular rank, came and had a private and earnest conversation with me. He thought that I had plunged rashly and recklessly into the fray and most strenuously urged me to desist, adding that I should make myself a marked man with future emperors. "Be it so," said I, "so long as they are bad ones." No sooner had he left me than a second friend came up, saying, "What rashness is this of yours? Whither are you rushing? To what perils are you exposing yourself? What confidence can you have in the present when you do not know what the future may bring forth ? Remember you are provoking a man who is at this moment prefect of the treasury and will soon be consul, and, besides, think what influence he possesses and what friends he has to back him up !" Then he named a certain person who at the time was in the East, in command of a splendid army, but whose loyalty was the subject of much grave suspicion. To this I replied: "I have foreseen all you say, and I have fully weighed it in my mind,   nor do I fear, if so chance wills it, to pay the penalty for a most honourable deed, so long as I take vengeance on a most consummate rascal."

By this time the time for recording opinions had arrived. Among the speakers were Domitius Apollinaris, the consul-designate, Fabricius Veiento, Fabius Maximinus, Vettius Proculus, the colleague of Publicius Certus, who was the subject of debate, and the father-in-law of the wife whom I had just lost. After these Ammius Flaccus spoke. They all defended Certus, just as if I had already named him, which I had not, and took up and defended his cause, though the charge had been left vague. ††   I need not tell you the substance of their speeches, for you have them in my books, just as I took them down in their own words. They were opposed by Avidius Quietus and Cornutus Tertullus. Quietus urged that it was most unjust to refuse to hear the complaints of the aggrieved persons, and, therefore, Arria and Fannia ought not to be robbed of their right to lodge a complaint. It did not matter, he said, what class a person belonged to, the point was whether his case was just. Cornutus said that he had been appointed guardian by the consuls to the daughter of Helvidius at the request of her mother and step-father, and that he could not think of failing in his duties at such a moment. However, he would set a limit to his own personal resentment and only support the very moderate request of these excellent ladies, who would be satisfied with bringing before the notice of the senate the crime-stained servility of Publicius Certus, and asking that, though the penalty for his most iniquitous crime might be foregone, he might at least be branded with some mark of disgrace similar to being officially degraded by the censors. Satrius Rufus followed with an equivocal speech, the meaning of which was by no means clear. "I consider," he said, "Publicius Certus will be wronged unless he is acquitted ; he has been impeached by the friends of Arria ; and Fannia, and by his own friends. Nor ought we to be anxious on his account, for we, who think well of him, are also to act as his judges. If he is innocent, as I hope and prefer to think he is, and as I shall continue to believe until something is proved against him, you will be able to acquit him." Such were the sentiments delivered, in the order in which the speakers were severally called upon to speak.

Then my turn came ; I rose to my feet, and opening my remarks as you will find in my book, I replied to all, one by one. It was wonderful to notice with what attention and applause all my points were received by those who a little before were shouting me down. This sweeping change of view was due either to the importance of the subject under debate, or to the success of my speech, or to the boldness of the speaker. At length I concluded; Veiento began to answer me, but no one suffered him to speak ; he was greeted with such interruptions and clamours that he exclaimed, "I beg of you, conscript fathers, not to force me to appeal to the tribunes for protection." Immediately the tribune Murena broke in with, "I permit you, most honourable Veiento, to speak." At that the tumult broke out again. In the pauses between the outcries the consul read over the names and took the votes by a division, and then adjourned the House, leaving Veiento still on his feet and struggling to deliver his speech. He complained bitterly of the indignity - as he called it - which had been shown him, quoting the line from Homer: "Old man, the young fighters wear you down."   There was hardly a member of the senate who did not embrace and kiss me and vie with his friends in heaping praises upon my head for having restored the custom, which had long fallen into disuse, of consulting for the public good by undertaking the protection of private persons who had been wronged, and for having freed the senate from the strong odium into which it had fallen with the other orders of society, which complained that, while the senate was severe in the punishment of other people, it invariably spared a senator by mutual agreement, as it were, among its members.

Certus was not present when all this took place, either owing to his having some suspicion of what was about to happen, or else he was ill, which was the reason he assigned for his absence. It is true that Caesar never referred to the senate the inquiry into Certus's crimes, yet I gained the point for which I had striven. For it was a colleague of Certus who gained the consulship, and Certus's place was taken by someone else, and so the sentence at the close of my speech was fulfilled, where I said, "Let him give back, now that we have a model emperor to reign over us, the prize which was conferred upon him by the worst of emperors." Subsequently, I recalled the speech to my memory as best I could, and added a good deal. By a coincidence, which looked rather more than a coincidence. Certus was taken ill and died a very few days after I published my book. I have heard people say that he was haunted by a phantom which was for ever presenting itself to his mind and gaze, and that he thought he saw me threatening him with a sword. I should not like to say that this actually was the case, but it adds to the moral that it should be considered as true. Well, I have written you a letter which, judged by the standard length of a letter, is about as long as the books you have read, but you have only yourself to blame, inasmuch as you were not content with the published books.   Farewell.

(*)   See letter iii. 16.

(**)   His second wife, the daughter of Pompeia Celerina.

(†)   Virgil, Aeneid vi. 105.

(††)   Certus had clearly been involved in the prosecution that led to the death of Helvidius in 93 A.D.; but it is not clear exactly what crime Pliny accused him of committing.

(‡)   Homer, Iliad viii. 102; the words of Diomedes to Nestor.


[14] L   To Tacitus.

Though you never praise your own work, I, for my part, never write with such confidence as when I am writing about you. I don't know whether posterity will trouble itself about us, but we assuredly deserve that it should pay us some attention, I will not say because of our genius - for that would hardly be modest - but because of our studies, our hard work, and the respect we have always shown to the generations which will succeed us. So let us go on in the old way, which has certainly lifted a number of people out of the gloom and silence of obscurity, though it may only have brought a few into the full light of a great reputation.   Farewell.


[15] L   To Falco.

I took refuge on my Tuscan estate, thinking to pass my days just as I pleased, but I find that this is not possible even here in Tuscany, for I am for ever being disturbed by shoals of appeals from the country people round about, each of whom has his special grievance. I read them even more unwillingly than I do my own papers, and these latter are irksome enough. For I am revising certain minor pleadings of mine, which is a very chilly and uncongenial task, considering the time which has elapsed since they were delivered. My business accounts are being as much neglected as they would be if I were away. Occasionally I mount a horse and to that extent play the role of a paterfamilias, in that I ride round some part of my estate, but I do so only to obtain exercise. As for yourself, I hope you will keep up your custom of writing and telling all the news of the town to us down here, who are living this clodhopping existence.   Farewell.


[16] L   To Mamilianus.

I am not surprised that you have been immensely pleased with your sport, considering how productive it was, for you are like the historians when they say that the number of the slain was beyond all computation. Personally, I have neither time nor inclination for sport; no time, because the grape harvest is now on, and no inclination, because it is a poor crop. However, I am drawing off some new verses instead of new must, and as soon as I see that they have fermented I will send them to you, as you have very kindly asked for them.   Farewell.


[17] L   To Genitor.

I have received your letter in which you complain how offensive to you a really magnificent banquet was, owing to the fact that there were buffoons, dancers, and jesters going round from table to table. Ah ! will you never relax that severe frown of yours even a little ? For my own part, I do not provide any such entertainments like those, but I can put up with those who do. Why then do I not provide them myself? For this reason, that if any dancer makes a lewd movement, if a buffoon is impudent, or a jester makes a senseless fool of himself, it does not amuse me a whit, for I see no novelty or fun in it. I am not giving you a high moral reason, but am only telling you my individual taste. Yet think how many people there are who would regard with disfavour, as partly insipid and partly wearisome, the entertainments which charm and attract you and me. When a reader, or a musician, or a comic actor enters the banqueting-room, how many there are who call for their shoes or lie back on their couches just as completely bored as you were, when you endured what you describe as those monstrosities ! Let us then make allowances for what pleases other people, so that we may induce others to make allowances for us !   Farewell.


[18] L   To Sabinus.

Your letter proves how attentively, how studiously, and with what powers of memory you have read my books, but you are only bringing work upon your own shoulders when you coax and invite me to send on to you as many of my compositions as I possibly can. I will do so, and will forward them in portions and piecemeal, so to speak, so that I may not fatigue that memory of yours, to which I am so much indebted, by throwing upon it too frequent or too heavy a load. I don't wish to compel you, when you are staggering under the burden, to quit each particular portion for the whole and leave the beginning in hastening on to what follows.   Farewell.


[19] L   To Ruso.

You say that you have read in one of my letters that Verginius Rufus ordered the following inscription to be placed on his tomb : - "Here lies Rufus, who, after overthrowing Vindex, claimed the supreme rule, not for himself, but for his country." *   You find fault with him for giving such an order, and you go on to say that the conduct of Frontinus was better and nobler, who gave instructions that no monument at all should be erected to his memory. Then, at the close of your letter, you ask me for my opinion on both men. Well, I had a strong affection for both, but of the two I had a higher admiration for the one with whom you find fault; in fact, my admiration for him was such that I did not think he could be praised sufficiently, though now I have to undertake his defence. Personally, I consider that all men who have accomplished any great and memorable deed are not only to be excused, but even praised in the highest degree, if they seek to secure the immortality they have deserved, and, in their certainty of undying fame, strive to perpetuate still further their glory and renown by the inscriptions on their monuments. Nor, I think, would it be easy for me to find anyone but Verginius who showed as much modesty in speaking of his achievements as those achievements were glorious.

I, who enjoyed his intimate regard and approval, can bear witness that only on one occasion did he in my presence refer to his own actions, and that came about in the following way : - He and Cluvius **   were in conversation and Cluvius remarked: "You know, Verginius, how scrupulously accurate history ought to be, and so, if you find anything in my histories which is not quite what you would have it, I must ask you to forgive it." Verginius replied : "Why, don't you know, Cluvius, that I acted as I did just to enable you historians to write what you please?" However, be that as it may, let us compare Frontinus with Verginius on this very point - that the former seems to you to have shown greater reticence and modesty. He forbade the erection of a memorial, but in what words? "The cost of a memorial is waste of money ; if my life has been such as to deserve remembrance, men will not forget me." Do you think it shows greater modesty for a man to write down for all the world to read that his memory will endure, than to record your achievements in two verses on one particular spot? However, my point is not to find fault with Frontinus but to defend Verginius, yet how can I better defend his conduct before you than by comparing him with the man whom you prefer? In my judgment, neither is to be blamed, for both of them have equally striven for glory, though they adopted different means, the one by asking for the inscription, which was his due, and the other by professing to make men think he had despised it.   Farewell.

(*)   See letter vi. 10.

(**)   Cluvius Rufus, who wrote a history of his times and was one of Tacitus's sources.


[20] L   To Venator.

Your letter was all the more agreeable to me on account of its length, and because it referred throughout to my books. I am not surprised that they please you, inasmuch as you extend the love you bear me to my writings. I am at present chiefly occupied in getting in my grape harvest, which, though light, is still more plentiful than I had expected - if you can describe as getting in a grape harvest the plucking of an occasional grape, a visit to the wine-press, a taste of the must from the vat, and surprise visits to the domestic servants I brought from the city, who are now superintending my country servants and have left me to my secretaries and readers.   Farewell.


[21] L   To Sabinianus.

That freedman of yours, with whom you told me you were angry, came to me and begged for my pardon, as earnestly as he would have done from you. He shed many tears ; he made many entreaties, and, at times, he kept a discreet silence - in fine, he convinced me of his penitence. I really and truly believe that he has turned over a new leaf, because he is conscious of having done wrong. I know you are angry, and I also know you are justly angry, but clemency deserves most praise just when the cause anger is most unimpeachable. You have in the past entertained some affection for the man, and I hope you will again ; in the meantime, it will be enough for you to allow yourself to be won over to forgiveness. Make some consideration for his youth, for his tears, and make some also for your own good nature ; do not keep him on the rack any longer, nor yourself either. I am afraid that, if I Join my entreaties to his, you will think that I am not so much asking as forcing you to forgive, yet join them I will, and the more fully and unreservedly as I have sharply and severely reprimanded him and given him a plain warning that I will never ask such a favour again. That is what I told him, - for it was necessary to frighten him, - but, of course, I do not use the same language to you, for it may 1be that I shall repeat my present request. Indeed, I certainly shall, provided that the case be one in which it is becoming for me to ask and for you to grant the favour.   Farewell.


[22] L   To Severus.

I have been terribly anxious about the ill-health of Passennus Paullus, and that for a host of excellent reasons. He is a splendid fellow, the soul of integrity, and devotedly attached to me, and, besides, he not only rivals the ancient authors, but recalls and brings them back to life again for us, especially Propertius, from whom he claims descent and is indeed truly descended, inasmuch as the similarity is greatest in the points wherein Propertius chiefly excelled. If you take up his elegies and read them you will find the workmanship is polished, smooth, and full of charm, and the poems were obviously written by one belonging to the family of Propertius. Just recently, he has been experimenting with lyrics, in which he as successfully reproduces Horace as he did Propertius in his elegiacs. You would fancy that he was also related to Horace, if relationship is of any value in literary matters. There is plenty of variety and abundant movement. The love passages ring true and sincere; there is most passionate grief, most genial praise, and most sparkling playfulness; in short, he depicts all feelings as perfectly as he does any one of them. The illness of such a true and so accomplished a friend has occasioned me as much mental trouble as it gave him bodily pain, but at length he is restored to me and I am restored to myself. Congratulate me and congratulate literature also, to which his dangerous illness threatened as much peril as his recovery promises glory.   Farewell.


[23] L   To Maximus.

When I have been pleading, it has often happened that the centumviri, after strictly preserving for a long time their judicial dignity and gravity, have suddenly leaped to their feet en masse and applauded me, as if they could not help themselves but were obliged to do so. I have often again left the senate-house with just as much glory as I had hoped to obtain, but I never felt greater gratification than I did a little while ago at something which Cornelius Tacitus told me in conversation. He said that he was sitting by the side of a certain individual at the last Circensian games, and that, after they had had a long and learned talk on a variety of subjects, his acquaintance said to him: "Are you from Italy or the provinces?" Tacitus replied : "You know me quite well, and that from the books of mine you have read."   "Then," said the man, "you are either Tacitus or Pliny." I cannot express to you how pleased I am that our names are, so to speak, the property of literature, that they are literary titles rather than the names of two men, and that both of us are familiar by our writings to persons who would otherwise know nothing of us. A similar incident happened a day or two before. That excellent man, Fadius Rufinus, was dining with me on the same couch, and next above him was a fellow-townsman of his who had just that day come to town for the first time. Rufinus, pointing me out to this man, said, "Do you see my friend here?" Then they spoke at length about my literary work, and the stranger remarked, "Surely, he is Pliny." I don't mind confessing that I think I am well repaid for my work, and if Demosthenes was justified in being pleased when an old woman of Attica recognised him with the words, "Why, here is Demosthenes," *   ought not I too to be glad that my name is so widely known ? As a matter of fact, I am glad and I say so, for I am not afraid of being considered boastful, when it is not my opinion about myself but that of others which I put forward, and especially when you are my confidant - you who grudge no one his fair praise, and are constantly doing what you can to increase my fame.   Farewell.

(*)   See Cicero, Tusc. v. (36)103.


[24] L   To Sabinianus.

You have done well to take back into your household and favour, on the intercession of my letter, *   the freedman who was once dear to you. This will afford you pleasure, and it certainly pleases me, first, because I see that you are so tractable that, even when you are angry, you are open to guidance, and, secondly, because you pay me the handsome compliment either of yielding to my influence or of indulging my requests. That is why I applaud your conduct, and thank you. At the same time I advise you for the future to be ready to pardon the faults of your household, though there be no one to deprecate your wrath.   Farewell.

(*)   See letter 21 of this book.


[25] L   To Mamilianus.

You complain that your camp duties keep you exceedingly busy, yet, as though your time were all your own, you read my sportive trifles, approve them, ask for more, and spur me on with great importunity to compose others like them. I am beginning to seek not only amusement from this kind of literary work, but fame as well, now that I read your verdict on them, considering the weight of your judgment and learning, and, above all, your character for truth. At present I have some law cases which take up not my entire time, but a considerable part of it; when they are finished, I will send some more products of the same Muses to your kindly lap. You will give my little sparrows and doves leave to fly among your eagles, if such is their pleasure and yours; but, if they fail to please you, you will see to it that they are confined with a cage or a nest.   Farewell.


[26] L   To Lupercus.

When referring to a certain orator of our own times, who was a straightforward and level-headed speaker, but lacked the grand manner and ornateness, I said, rather neatly in my opinion, "He has no faults, except it be a fault that he has none." Tor an orator ought to soar to great heights and be carried away by his feelings, and, on some occasions, he ought to rage and storm, and frequently get near the brink of a precipice, for precipices usually lie near high and exalted places. One travels more safely along level ground, but the road is low and undistinguished, and those who run are more likely to stumble than those who creep, yet the latter get no credit for not falling, while the former, despite their fall, often do. It is exactly the same with oratory as with other arts; it is the difficulty of the task which makes the credit of the achievement. You may notice how the tight-rope walkers, who are struggling along at a great height, evoke the loudest applause just when they seem to be on the point of falling, for those events create most wonder which are least expected, most hazardous, and, as the Greeks still better express it, are most recklessly daring. The skill of a helmsman is by no means so great when he is sailing on a smooth sea as when a tempest is raging; in the former case, there is no one to wonder at his skill as he enters the harbour unheeded and without applause; it is only when the ropes are creaking, and the mast is bent, and the helm is groaning, that the pilot appears in all his glory, and seems most like one of the deities of the sea.

I am writing in this strain, because I think you have marked some passages in my works as turgid which I consider lofty, and others, as indiscreet and overdone, which seem to me to be boldly and adequately dealt with. But it makes all the difference whether the marks you have made signify your disapproval of a passage, or merely that it is a striking one. For anything which stands out conspicuously catches the eye, but it requires careful attention to decide whether it is out of proportion or cast on a grand scale, whether it is lofty or disproportionately high. But let me refer to Homer for examples, for who can fail to notice the extreme differences of style between "The great heaven trumpeted around,"   "His lance rested on the clouds," and all the passage beginning, "Not so loud thunders the wave of the sea" ? *   One needs the most delicate pair of scales to decide whether these are empty marvels, which no one should credit, or magnificent and divinely inspired passages. I do not, of course, say that I have ever uttered parallel passages to these, or that I ever could utter them. I am not so mad as all that, but the point I do wish to make is that sometimes eloquence must be given a free rein, and that the rush of genius must not be restrained within too narrow a circuit.

But, you will say, there is one rule for orators, and another for poets. Still, Marcus Tullius showed just the same daring as Homer - and yet I will say no more about Tullius, for, with respect to him, there is no possibility of dispute. However, take the case of Demosthenes, who is the pattern and model of all orators. Does he rein and curb himself in that well-known passage, "these scoundrels, flatterers, and polluted wretches," or again, "Not with walls of stone or brick did I fortify the city," or again, "Did I not set Euboea to be a bulwark to Attica on the side of the sea" ? or again, "For my own part, men of Athens, I swear I think he is intoxicated by the vastness of his own achievements"? **   What could be more daring than the fine digression beginning, "For a disease ..." or than this passage, shorter than those I have quoted above, but equally bold, "Then indeed I resisted the audacity of Python's eloquence, which was rushing like a tide upon you"?   In the same style he writes: "When any one rises to power, as Philip has done, by avarice and villainy, at the first pretext and little slip he makes, the horse throws him and destroys him utterly." In a similar vein he speaks of a person as "roped off from all the just men in the city," and in another place he says : "You, Aristogeiton, have cast on one side, or rather have utterly destroyed your sense of compassion for such offences as these; do not, therefore, think of anchoring for safety in harbours which you have yourself blocked up and choked with rocks." Again he says: "I do not see that he can get a foothold on any one of these places, for all round him there are precipices, yawning gulfs, and abysses." He goes on: "I am afraid that some people will think that you specially train in villainy any citizen who seems set on being a villain," and further he adds; "For I don't think that your ancestors built these law courts in order that you might graft such people as these in them." Or again: "But if he is a dealer in villainy and peddles it again, and hucksters it from one customer to another ..." ††   There are a thousand other instances, not to speak of the phrases which Aeschines said were not "words" but "fireworks."

I am arguing against my argument, and you will say that Demosthenes is censured for these extravagances of his. But just notice how much finer Demosthenes is than his critic, and finer just because of his extravagances. Elsewhere, he shows his force, in these passages he shows how much he towers above others. Besides, did Aeschines abstain from the faults which he carped at in Demosthenes? What about this sentence: "For the orator and the law ought to speak with the same voice. And when the law speaks with one voice, and the orator with another -" ? Or again; "He then clearly reveals his intentions in broad daylight -" And again; "But taking your seats and places in the assembly, drive him to speak contrary to the laws." This phrase pleased him so much that he repeats it: "But, as though you were sitting watching the horse races, you drive him into the very track of the matter." Again, is this couched in a more reserved and less swelling vein; "But you rip up old sores," or "Seizing him as a pirate in full sail through the commonwealth"? ‡‡   I might instance other examples as well. I quite expect that you will set against certain passages in this letter, such as "the helm groans," and "most like one of the deities of the sea," the same marks as those about which I am now writing. For I find that while seeking to excuse myself for earlier faults, I have fallen into the very ones which you have set your marks against. Well, you may mark away to your heart's content, provided that you will appoint a day when we may have a talk together and argue out the points in question. For either you will make me more timid, or I shall make you more inclined to be rash.   Farewell.

(*)   Homer, Iliad xxi. 388; v. 356; xiv.394.

(**)   Demosthenes, De Corona 296, 299, 301; Philippic i. 49.

(†)   Demosthenes, De Falsa Legatione 259; De Corona 136; Olynthiac ii. 9.

(††)   Demosthenes, In Aristogeit. i. 28, 84, 76, 7, 48, 46.

(‡)   Aeschines, Ctes. 167

(‡‡)   Aeschines, Ctes. 16, 101, 206; Timarch. 176; Ctes. 208, 253.


[27] L   To Paternus.

I have often felt the dignity, the majesty, and, in a word, the divine splendour of history, and quite lately I had another proof thereof. A certain person had given a reading of a book, which he had compiled with the greatest devotion to truth, and he had reserved part of it for another day. When lo and behold! the friends of a certain other party begged and implored him not to read the remainder; such was the shame they felt at hearing a recital of their deeds, though they had felt none at committing actions which they blushed to hear spoken of. He granted their request, as he was perfectly entitled to do. But the book remains just as it was written, and will remain so, and it will always find readers, the more so because it was not immediately published, inasmuch as delay only sharpens the curiosity of men to know.   Farewell.


[28] L   To Romanus.

After a long delay I have received your letters, but the three came together. All were charmingly written in a most affectionate strain, and they were just the kind of letters that ought to have come from you, especially when I had looked for them for so long. In one of them you lay upon me the very pleasant duty of sending on your letter to that model of women, Plotina. *   It shall be forwarded as you desire. In the same one you commend to my good will Pompilius Artemisius. I immediately granted his request. You tell me also that your grape harvest has been but a poor one; I can join you in your grumble in this respect, though we live so far apart. **   In another letter you announce that you are now dictating and writing a good deal, and by so doing you recall me to your remembrance. I am much obliged, and should be more so, if you had been good enough to let me read what you are writing or dictating.

It is only fair that you should let me read your compositions, as I let you read mine, even though they relate to some other person than myself. At the close of your letter you promise that, when I give you a more exact account of the way I am spending my time, you will play truant from your own domestic duties and at once rush to see me, and I warn you that I am even now forging chains to hold you, which you will find impossible to break through. Your third letter mentions that you have received my speech in defence of Clarius, and that it seems to you to contain more matter than it did when I read it before you. That is so, for I subsequently inserted many passages. You add that you have sent me other letters over which you took greater pains than usual, and you ask whether I have received them. I have not, but I am exceedingly anxious to. So send them on to me at the earliest possible opportunity with interest for the delay, which I shall reckon at twelve per cent, for I really cannot let you off more lightly.   Farewell.

(*)   The wife of the emperor Trajan.

(**)   See letter ii. 13; Voconius Romanus was a native of Spain.


[29] L   To Rusticus.

Just as it is preferable to do one thing really well than many things only fairly well, so it is better to attain moderate proficiency, if one cannot produce a masterpiece. That is the principle I have gone on in experimenting with various kinds of literary studies, owing to the fact that I do not feel sure of myself in any one of them. So, when you read either one piece or another, I hope you will judge each leniently, remembering that I have written many more. In other arts, excuses are made for failure, when a number of examples are produced, and surely there ought not to be any harder standard in literature, especially as success is more difficult of accomplishment in that art than in any other, but why do I talk about making allowances, like a thankless, ungrateful person? If you receive my last volume as kindly as you did my previous ones, I ought rather to hope for praise than beg you to make allowances for shortcomings. However, I shall be quite content with the latter.   Farewell.


[30] L   To Geminus.

When you are with me, and now again by letter, you often praise your friend Nonius to me for the generosity he has shown to certain persons, and I myself join in those praises, provided that these are not the sole recipients of his bounty. For I like a man who is really generous to show that virtue to his country, to his neighbours, to his relations, and his friends, that is to say to his poor friends, unlike the people who are most ready to give to those who can best return their gifts. Presents of that sort are, in my judgment, mere bird-lime and baited hooks ; they are not offers of one's own substance so much as tricks to catch the substance of others. Very similar in point of character to these are the people who take from one person to give to another, and thus seek a reputation for generosity by practising greed. But a man's first duty is to be content with what he has, and his second is to go round the circle of his friends, and give assistance - and help to those whom he knows to need it most. If Nonius observes all these rules, he deserves unqualified praise; if he observes only one of them, he deserves some praise, but not so much. So rare is it to find a model even for imperfect generosity, for the greed of possession has so seized upon men that they seem rather to be possessed by their wealth than to be the possessors of it.   Farewell.


[31] L   To Sardus.

After I had left you I enjoyed your society just as much as when I was with you, for I read your book, and perused it again and again, especially those passages - for I won't tell you any fibs - in which you have written about me. In these you have let your pen run freely on. How fully, yet with what variety, you have handled the same theme, and have avoided repetition, though the points made are the same ! Should I praise as well as thank you for this ? I cannot do either sufficiently for your deserts, and, even if I could, I should be afraid of seeming to be a rogue, if I were to applaud you for the passages for which I thank you. I will add only one word more, and that is to say that the whole book appeared to me to deserve extra praise for the charm with which it is written, and that its charm has been increased by the fact that it merits so much praise.   Farewell.


[32] L   To Titianus.

How do you spend your time? What are your plans? For my own part, I am leading a most delightful existence, that is to say, I am enjoying complete idleness. Hence it is that I am disinclined to write letters of any length, while very much inclined to read such letters from my friends; the former showing my self-indulgence, the latter my laziness. For there is nothing more lazy than a self-indulgent creature, and no one is more inquisitive than a man with nothing to do.   Farewell.


[33] L   To Caninius.

I have come upon a true story - though it sounds very like a fable - which is quite worthy of engaging the attention of a mind so happy, so lofty, and so poetical as yours, *   and I came across it at the dinner-table, while the guests were telling various marvellous tales. The author is a man you can implicitly credit, though what has a poet to do with fact? Yet I can assure you that the narrator was one whom you would have trusted, even if you were going to write history. **

There is in Africa a colony called Hippo, quite close to the sea, while hard by is a navigable expanse of water, out of which flows a channel like a river, which, according ns the tide is either ebbing or flowing, is carried into the sea or borne back into the stagnant sheet of water. In this place the people of all ages are devoted to fishing, sailing, and swimming, especially the boys, who are tempted thereto by having nothing to do, and by their love of play. They think it a fine thing to show their pluck by swimming out as far as possible, and he is looked upon as the champion who swims the longest way out and leaves the shore and those who are swimming with him farthest behind. While engaged in one of these contests a certain boy, more daring than the rest, kept swimming on and on. A dolphin met him, and first swam in front of the boy, then behind him, then round him, then came up beneath to carry him, put him off, and again came under him, and carried the lad, who was much afraid, first to the open sea, and then, turning to the shore, restored him to dry land and to his playmates. The story spread through the colony, and every one flocked to the spot to gaze upon the lad, as though he were a marvel, to ask him questions, hear the tale, and tell it over again.

On the following day they crowded to the shore, and scanned the sea and the sheet of water. The boys began to swim, and among them was the hero of the adventure, but he showed less daring than before. Again the dolphin returned at the same time and approached the boy, but he fled with the rest. As though inviting him to approach, and calling him to return, the dolphin leaped out of the sea, then dived and twisted and turned itself into various shapes. This was repeated on the next day, and the day after, and on subsequent days, until the men, who had been bred to the sea, began to be ashamed of being afraid. They approached the dolphin, played with him, and gave him a name, and, when he offered himself to their touch, they stroked and handled him. Their boldness grew as they got to know him. In particular, the boy who was the hero of the first adventure with him, leaped on his back as he swam about, and was carried out to sea and brought back again, the boy thinking that the dolphin recognised and was fond of him, while he too grew attached to the dolphin. Neither showed fear of the other, and thereby the boy grew bolder, and the dolphin still more tame. Moreover, other boys swam with them on the right hand and on the left, urging and encouraging them on, and, curiously enough, another dolphin accompanied the first one, but only as a spectator of the fun, and for company's sake, for he did not follow the other dolphin's example, and would not allow anyone to touch him, but merely led the way for its companion out to sea, and back again, as the boy's playmates did for him.

It is almost incredible, but yet every bit as true as the details just given, that the dolphin which thus carried the lad on his back and played with the boys, used to make his way up from the sea on to dry land, and, after drying himself on the sand and getting warm with the heat of the sun, would roll back again into the sea. It is well known too that Octavius Avitus, the proconsular legate, moved by some absurd superstition, poured a quantity of perfume upon the dolphin as he lay on the shore, and that the fish lied fur refuge from this novel treatment and the smell of the perfume out to the deep sea, and only appeared again at the end of several days, in a limp and melancholy condition. Afterwards, however, it recovered its strength, and resumed its former playfulness and attendance upon the boy. All the magistrates flocked to see the sight, and, as they came and stayed, the finances of the little state were seriously embarrassed by its new expenses, while the place itself began to lose its peaceful and tranquil character. So it was decided to put to death secretly the object which drew the people thither.

I can imagine how you will regret this sad ending, how eloquently you will bewail it, and adorn and magnify the tale. Yet there is no need to add a single fictitious incident, or work it up ; all it requires is that none of the true details shall be omitted.   Farewell.

(*)   Caninius Rufus was a poet; see letter viii. 4.

(**)   The story of this dolphin is also told by Pliny the Elder, HN. ix. (8)26.


[34] L   To Tranquillus.

Please help me out of my dilemma. I am told that I read badly, at least verses. Speeches I can read fairly well, but my reading of poetry is much inferior. I am thinking therefore, as I am about to give a reading to some intimate friends, of trying the experiment of having one of my freedmen to read for me. The fact that I have chosen one who reads, not perhaps well, but certainly better than I can, will show that I am treating my audience as old friends, provided that he is not flurried, for he is as used to reading as I am to poetry. For my own part, I do not know what I ought to do while he is reading, whether I should sit glued to my seat, without opening my lips like an idle spectator, or whether, as some people I know do, I should follow the words he utters with my lips, eyes, and hands. But in that case I fancy I should not accompany him any better than I should read. So I ask you again to help me out of my dilemma, and write and tell me truly whether it is better for me to read execrably badly, or whether or not I ought to do as I propose.   Farewell.


[35] L   To Atrius.

I have received the book you sent me, and I am much obliged for it, but just for the present I am exceedingly busy. So I have not yet lead it, though I am most anxiously looking forward to do so, but such is the respect due both to your letters and to your writings that I should think it a crying shame if I took it up when my mind was not free to give it undivided attention. I have nothing but praise for the minuteness with which you revise your work, yet there are limits to revision, inasmuch as too much nicety rather impairs than improves, and then again revision takes us away from an up-to-date subject, and neither allows us to finish off an old theme, nor begin a new one.   Farewell.


[36] L   To Fuscus.

You ask me how I spend the day on my Tuscan villa in summer time. Well, I wake at my own sweet will, usually about the first hour, though it is often before, and rarely later. I keep my windows shut, for it is remarkable how, when all is still and in darkness, and I am withdrawn from distracting influences and am left to myself, and free to do what I like, my thoughts are not led by my eyes, but my eyes by my thoughts; and so my eyes, when they have nothing else to look at, only see the objects which are present before my mind. If I have anything on hand, I think it over, and weigh every word as carefully as though I were actually writing or revising, and in this way I get through more or less work, according as the subject is easy or difficult to compose and bear in mind. I call for a shorthand writer, and, after letting in the daylight, I dictate the passages which I have composed, then he leaves me, and I send for him again, and once again dismiss him.

At the fourth or fifth hour, according as the weather tempts me - for I have no fixed and settled plan for the day - I betake myself to my terrace or covered portico, and there again I resume my thinking and dictating. I ride in my carriage, and still continue my mental occupation, just as when I am walking or lying down. My concentration of thought is unaffected, or rather is refreshed by the change. Then I snatch a brief sleep and again walk, and afterwards read aloud a Greek or Latin speech, as clearly and distinctly as I can, not so much to exercise the vocal organs as to help my digestion, though it does at the same time strengthen my voice. I take another walk, then I am anointed, and take exercise and a bath. While I am at dinner, if I am dining with my wife or a few friends, a book is read to us, and afterwards we hear a comic actor or a musician; then I walk with my attendants, some of whom are men of learning. Thus the evening is passed away with talk on all sorts of subjects, and even the longest day is soon done.

Sometimes I vary this routine, for, if I have been lying down, or walking for any length of time, as soon as I have had my sleep and read aloud, I ride on horseback instead of in a carriage, as it takes less time, and one gets over the ground faster. My friends come in from the neighbouring towns to see me, and take up part of the day, and occasionally, when I am tired, I welcome their call as a pleasant relief. Sometimes I go hunting, but never without my tablets, so that though I may take no game, I still have something to bring back with me. Part of my time too is given to my tenants - though in their opinion not enough - and their clownish complaints give me a fresh zest for my literary work and my round of engagements in town.   Farewell.


[37] L   To Paulinus.

You are not one of those people who require ceremonial attendance and public attention from their intimate friends when it is inconvenient for them to give it, and my regard for you is too strong for me to fear that you will take it amiss if I fail to wait upon you as soon as you are elected consul on the Kalends, *   especially as I am detained here because I find it absolutely necessary to let my farms on longer leases than usual, and have to make arrangements accordingly, which will require me to form new plans. For during the last five years the arrears have increased in spite of the great abatements I have made, and for that reason, many of my tenants are now not taking the slightest trouble to reduce their debts, inasmuch as they despair of being able to meet the whole of them. They even seize and consume the produce of their farms, as though they had quite made up their minds not to stint themselves in any respect. I must therefore grapple with this evil, which is growing worse daily, and find some remedy for it. One way of so doing would be to let the farms not for rent but for a proportion of the produce, and in that case, I should have to appoint some of my household as overseers to see the work was done and to take care of my share of the produce. I think there can be no better form of rent than the produce of the soil, the climate, and the seasons. This would require great honesty, sharp eyes, and many pairs of hands, but the experiment has to be made, and now that the disease has taken a firm hold, some change in the treatment must be tried. You will see that it is no self-indulgent reason which prevents me from greeting you on the first day of your consulship, but I promise you that I will celebrate the day here, as though I were with you in Rome, with prayers for your prosperity and with joyous congratulation.   Farewell.

(*)   Valerius Paulinus was suffect consul in 107 A.D.


[38] L   To Saturninus.

Our friend Rufus has won my praise, not because you asked me to praise him, but because he so richly deserved it. For I read his book, which was a perfectly finished production, and the affection he bears me made me still more pleased with it. However, I judged it quite impartially, for it is quite a mistake to suppose that it is only those who read a book with spiteful motives who give a critical estimate of it.   Farewell.


[39] L   To Mustius.

I have been warned by the haruspices to put into better repair and enlarge the temple of Ceres, which stands on my estate, as it is very old and cramped for room, and on one day in the year attracts great crowds of people. For on the Ides of September all the population of the country-side flocks thither; much business is transacted, many vows are registered and paid, but there is no place near where people can take refuge either from storm or heat. I think, therefore, that I shall be showing my generosity, and at the same time display my piety, if I rebuild the temple as handsomely as possible and add to it a portico, the former for the use of the goddess, the latter for the people who attend there.

So I should like you to buy me four columns of any kind of marble you think fit, as well as sufficient marble for the pavement and walls. I shall also have to get made or buy a statue of the goddess, for the old one, which was made of wood, has lost some of its limbs through age. As for the portico, I don't think there is anything that I need ask you for at present, unless it be that you should sketch me a plan to suit the situation of the place. The portico cannot be carried all round the temple, inasmuch as on one side of the floor of the building there is a river with very steep banks, and on the other there runs a road. Beyond the road, there is a spacious meadow which would be a very suitable place to build the portico, as it is right opposite the temple, unless you can think of a better plan - you who make a practice of overcoming natural difficulties by your professional skill.   Farewell.


[40] L   To Fuscus.

You say that you were very pleased to receive my letter *   describing how I spend my leisure time in summer at my Tuscan villa, and you ask what changes I make in my routine in winter time at my Laurentine house. None at all, unless it be that I do without a sleep at midday and steal a good deal of the night, either before daybreak or after sunset, and if, as often happens in winter, I find I have some urgent business on hand, then I forego listening to a comic actor or music after dinner, and instead, I revise again and again what I have dictated, and at the same time improve my memory by making frequent corrections. So now you know my routine both in summer and winter, and to these you may add the spring and autumn, which come between the two other seasons. During these I take care to lose nothing of the days, and also nibble a little bit off the nights.   Farewell.

(*)   Letter 36 of this book.

Book 10


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