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The Five-Foot Shelf of Books 


Letters of Marcus Tullius Cicero 


Friendship and Old Age 


Letters o/" Gaius Plinius Caecilius 


W//A Introductions and Notes 
Wo/ume 9 

P. F. Collier & Son Corporation 


Copyright, 1909 
By p. F. Collier & Son 

manufacturbo in u. s. a. 




Marcus Tullius Cicero 


Marcus Tullius Cicero 


Marcus Tullius Cicero 


Gaius Plinius CiEciuus Secunous 




Marcus Tuluus Cicero, the greatest of Roman orators and the chief 
master of Latin prose style, was born at Arpinum, Jan. 3, 106 B.C. His 
father, who was a man of projierty and belonged to the class of the 
"Knights," moved to Rome when Cicero was a child; and the future 
statesman received an elaborate education in rhetoric, law, and philos- 
ophy, studying and practising under some of the most noted teachers of 
the time. He began his career as an advocate at the age of twenty-five, 
and almost immediately came to be recognized not only as a man of 
brilliant talents but also as a courageous upholder of justice in the face 
of grave political danger. After two years of practice he left Rome to 
travel in Greece and Asia, taking all the opportunities that offered to 
study his art under distinguished masters. He returned to Rome gready 
improved in health and in professional skill, and in 76 B.C. was elected 
to the office of quxstor. He was assigned to the province of Lilybaeum in 
Sicily, and the vigor and justice of his administration earned him the 
gratitude of the inhabitants. It was at their request that he undertook in 
70 B.C. the prosecution of Verres, who as praetor had subjected the 
Sicilians to incredible extortion and oppression; and his successful con- 
duct of this case, which ended in the conviction and banishment of Verres, 
may be said to have launched him on his political career. He became 
jedile in the same year, in 67 B.C. prxtor, and in 64 B.C. was elected 
consul by a large majority. The most important event of the year of his 
consulship was the conspiracy of Catiline. This notorious criminal of 
patrician rank had conspired with a number of others, many of them 
young men of high birth but dissipated character, to seize the chief offices 
of the state, and to extricate themselves from the pecuniary and other 
difficulties that had resulted from their excesses, by the wholesale plunder 
of the city. The plot was unmasked by the vigilance of Cicero, five of the 
traitors were summarily executed, and in the overthrow of the army that 
had been gathered in their support Catiline himself perished. Cicero 
regarded himself as the savior of his country, and his country for the 
moment seemed to give grateful assent. 

But reverses were at hand. During the existence of the political com- 
bination of Pompcy, Caesar, and Crassus, known as the first triumvirate, 
P. Clodius, an enemy of Cicero's, proposed a law banishing "any one who 
had put Roman citizens to death without trial." This was aimed at 
Cicero on account of his share in the Catiline affair, and in March, 


58 B.C., he left Rome. The same day a law was passed by which he 
was banished by name, and his property was plundered and destroyed, a 
temple to Liberty being erected on the site of his house in the city. During 
his exile Cicero's manliness to some extent deserted him. He drifted 
from place to place, seeking the protection of officials against assassina- 
tion, writing letters urging his supporters to agitate for his recall, some- 
times accusing them of lukewarmness and even treachery, bemoaning the 
ingratitude of his country or regretting the course of action that had led 
to his outlawry, and suffering from extreme depression over his separa- 
tion from his wife and children and the wreck of his political ambitions. 
Finally, in August, 57 B.C., the decree for his restoration was passed, 
and he returned to Rome the next month, being received with immense 
popular enthusiasm. During the next few years the renewal of the under- 
standing among the triumvirs shut Cicero out from any leading part in 
politics, and he resumed his activity in the law<ourts, his most impwr- 
tant case being, perhaps, the defense of Milo for the murder of Clodius, 
Cicero's most troublesome enemy. This oration, in the revised form in 
which it has come down to us, is ranked as among the finest specimens 
of the art of the orator, though in its original form it failed to secure 
Milo's acquittal. Meantime, Cicero was also devoting much time to 
literary composition, and his letters show great dejection over the politi- 
cal situation, and a somewhat wavering attitude towards the various 
parties in the state. In 51 B.C. he went to Cilicia in Asia Minor as pro- 
consul, an office which he administered with efficiency and integrity in 
civil affairs and with success in military. He returned to Italy at the 
end of the following year, and he was publicly thanked by the senate for 
his services, but disappointed in his hop)es for a triumph. The war for 
supremacy between Cxsar and Pompey, which had for some time been 
gradually growing more certain, broke out in 49 B.C., when Cisar led 
his army across the Rubicon, and Cicero after much irresolution threw 
in his lot with Pomp)ey, who was overthrown the next year in the batde 
of Pharsalus and later murdered in Egypt. Cicero returned to Italy, 
where Caesar treated him magnanimously, and for some time he devoted 
himself to philosophical and rhetorical writing. In 46 B.C. he divorced 
his wife Terentia, to whom he had been married for thirty years, and 
married the young and wealthy Publilia in order to relieve himself from 
financial difficulties; but her also he shortly divorced. Caesar, who had 
now become supreme in Rome, was assassinated in 44 B.C., and though 
Cicero was not a sharer in the conspiracy, he seems to have approved the 
deed. In the confusion which followed he supported the cause of the 


conspirators against Antony; and when finally the triumvirate of Antony, 
Octavius, and Lepidus was established, Cicero was included among the 
proscribed, and on December 7, 43 B.C., he was killed by agents of 
Antony. His head and hand were cut off and exhibited at Rome. 

The most important orations of the last months of his life were the 
fourteen "Philippics" delivered against Antony, and the price of this 
enmity he paid with his life. 

To his contemporaries Cicero was primarily the great forensic and 
political orator of his time, and the fifty-eight speeches which have come 
down to us bear testimony to the skill, wit, eloquence, and passion which 
gave him his preeminence. But these speeches of necessity deal with the 
minute details of the occasions which called them forth, and so require 
for their appreciation a full knowledge of the history, political and per- 
sonal, of the time. The letters, on the other hand, are less elaborate both 
in style and in the handling of current events, while they serve to reveal 
his personality, and to throw light upon Roman life in the last days of 
the Republic in an extremely vivid fashion. Cicero as a man, in spite of 
his self-importance, the vacillation of his political conduct in desperate 
crises, and the whining despwndency of his times of adversity, stands out 
as at bottom a patriotic Roman of substantial honesty, who gave his life 
to check the inevitable fall of the commonwealth to which he was devoted. 
The evils which were undermining the Republic bear so many striking 
resemblances to those which threaten the civic and national life of Amer- 
ica to-day that the interest of the period is by no means merely historical. 

As a philosopher, Cicero's most important function was to make his 
countrymen familiar with the main schools of Greek thought. Much of 
this writing is thus of secondary interest to us in comparison with his 
originals, but in the fields of religious theory and of the application of 
philosophy to life he made important first-hand contributions. From 
these works have been selected the two treatises. On Old Age and On 
Friendship, which have proved of most jjermanent and widespread 
interest to posterity, and which give a clear impression of the way in 
which a high-minded Roman thought about some of the main problems 
of human life. 



THE augur Quintus Mucius Scacvola used to recount a num- 
ber of stories about his father-in-law, Gaius LacHus, accurately 
remembered and charmingly told; and whenever he talked 
about him always gave him the title of "the wise" without any hesi- 
tation. I had been introduced by my father to Scxvola as soon as I 
had assumed the toga virilis, and I took advantage of the introduc- 
tion never to quit the venerable man's side as long as I was able to 
stay and he was spared to us. The consequence was that I com- 
mitted to memory many disquisitions of his, as well as many short 
pointed apophthegms, and, in short, took as much advantage of his 
wisdom as I could. When he died, I attached myself to Scsevola the 
Pontifex, whom I may venture to call quite the most distinguished 
of our countrymen for ability and uprightness. But of this latter I 
shall take other occasions to speak. To return to Scaevola the augur: 
Among many other occasions I particularly remember one. He was 
sitting on a semicircular garden-bench, as was his custom, when I 
and a very few intimate friends were there, and he chanced to 
turn the conversation upon a subject which about that time was in 
many people's mouths. You must remember, Atticus, for you were 
very intimate with Publius Sulpicius, what expressions of astonish- 
ment, or even indignation, were called forth by his mortal quarrel, as 
tribune, with the consul Quintus Pompeius, with whom he had 
formerly lived on terms of the closest intimacy and affection. Well, 
on this occasion, happening to mention this particular circumstance, 
Scaevola detailed to us a discourse of Laelius on friendship delivered 
to himself and Laslius's other son-in-law, Gaius Fannius, son of 
Marcus Fannius, a few days after the death of Africanus. The points 
of that discussion I committed to memory, and have arranged them 
in this book at my own discretion. For I have brought the speakers, 



as it were, personally on to my stage to prevent the constant "said I" 
and "said he" of a narrative, and to give the discourse the air of 
being orally delivered in our hearing. 

You have often urged me to write something on Friendship, and 
I quite acknowledged that the subject seemed one worth everybody's 
investigation, and specially suited to the close intimacy that has 
existed between you and me. Accordingly I was quite ready to 
benefit the public at your request. 

As to the dramatis personce: In the treatise On Old Age, which I 
dedicated to you, I introduced Cato as chief speaker. No one, I 
thought, could with greater propriety speak on old age than one 
who had been an old man longer than any one else, and had been 
exceptionally vigorous in his old age. Similarly, having learnt from 
tradition that of all friendships that between Gains La:lius and 
Publius Scipio was the most remarkable, I thought Lxlius was just 
the person to support the chief part in a discussion on friendship 
which Sc£EVola remembered him to have actually taken. Moreover, 
a discussion of this sort gains somehow in weight from the authority 
of men of ancient days, especially if they happen to have been dis- 
tinguished. So it comes about that in reading over what I have 
myself written I have a feeling at times that it is actually Cato that 
is speaking, not I. 

Finally, as I sent the former essay to you as a gift from one old 
man to another, so I have dedicated this On Friendship as a most 
affectionate friend to his friend. In the former Cato spoke, who was 
the oldest and wisest man of his day; in this Lxlius speaks on friend- 
ship — Laelius, who was at once a wise man (that was the title given 
him) and eminent for his famous friendship. Please forget me for a 
while; imagine La;lius to be speaking. 

Gaius Fannius and Quintus Mucins come to call on their father- 
in-law after the death of Africanus. They start the subject; Lxlius 
answers them. And the whole essay on friendship is his. In reading 
it you will recognise a picture of yourself. 

2. Fannius. You are quite right, La;lius ! there never was a 
better or more illustrious character than Africanus. But you should 
consider that at the present moment all eyes are on you. Everybody 


calls you "the wise" par excellence, and thinks you so. The same 
mark of respect was lately paid Cato, and we know that in the last 
generation Lucius Atilius was called "the wise." But in both cases 
the word was applied with a certain difference. Atilius was so called 
from his reputation as a jurist; Cato got the name as a kind of 
honorary title and in extreme old age because of his varied experience 
of affairs, and his reputation for foresight and Hrmness, and the 
sagacity of the opinions which he delivered in senate and forum. 
You, however, are regarded as "wise" in a somewhat different 
sense — not alone on account of natural ability and character, but also 
from your industry and learning; and not in the sense in which the 
vulgar, but that in which scholars, give that title. In this sense we do 
not read of any one being called wise in Greece except one man at 
Athens; and he, to be sure, had been declared by the oracle of Apollo 
also to be "the supremely wise man." For those who commonly go 
by the name of the Seven Sages are not admitted into the category 
of the wise by fastidious critics. Your wisdom p)eople believe to 
consist in this, that you look upon yourself as self-sufficing and regard 
the changes and chances of mortal life as powerless to affect your 
virtue. Accordingly they are always asking me, and doubtless also 
our Scajvola here, how you bear the death of Africanus. This 
curiosity has been the more excited from the fact that on the Nones 
of this month, when we augurs met as usual in the suburban villa 
of Decimus Brutus for consultation, you were not present, though 
it had always been your habit to keep that appointment and perform 
that duty with the utmost punctuality. 

Sccevola. Yes, indeed, Lslius, I am often asked the question men- 
tioned by Fannius. But I answer in accordance with what I have 
observed: I say that you bear in a reasonable manner the grief 
which you have sustained in the death of one who was at once a 
man of the most illustrious character and a very dear friend. That 
of course you could not but be affected — anything else would have 
been wholly unnatural in a man of your gentle nature — but that the 
cause of your non-attendance at our college meeting was illness, not 

Ltrlius. Thanks, Scaevola! You are quite right; you spoke the 
exact truth. For in fact I had no right to allow myself to be with- 


drawn from a duty which I had regularly performed, as long as I was 
well, by any personal misfortune; nor do I think that anything that 
can happen will cause a man of principle to intermit a duty. As for 
your telling me, Fannius, of the honourable appellation given me 
(an appellation to which I do not recognise my title, and to which 
I make no claim), you doubtless act from feelings of affection; but 
I must say that you seem to me to do less than justice to Cato. If 
any one was ever "wise," — of which I have my doubts, — he was. 
Putting aside everything else, consider how he bore his son's death! 
I had not forgotten Paulus; I had seen with my own eyes Gallus. 
But they lost their sons when mere children; Cato his when he was 
a full-grown man with an assured reputation. Do not therefore be 
in a hurry to reckon as Cato's superior even that same famous 
personage whom Apollo, as you say, declared to be "the wisest." 
Remember the former's reputation rests on deeds, the latter's on 

3. Now, as far as I am concerned (I speak to both of you now), 
believe me, the case stands thus: If I were to say that I am not 
affected by regret for Scipio, I must leave the philosophers to justify 
my conduct, but in point of fact I should be telling a lie. Affected of 
course I am by the loss of a friend as I think there will never be 
again, such as I can fearlessly say there never was before. But I stand 
in no need of medicine. I can find my own consolation, and it 
consists chiefly in my being free from the mistaken notion which 
generally causes pain at the departure of friends. To Scipio I am con- 
vinced no evil has befallen: mine is the disaster, if disaster there be; 
and to be severely distressed at one's own misfortunes does not show 
that you love your friend, but that you love yourself. 

As for him, who can say that all is not more than well ? For, unless 
he had taken the fancy to wish for immortality, the last thing of 
which he ever thought, what is there for which mortal man may 
wish that he did not attain? In his early manhood he more than 
justified by extraordinary personal courage the hopes which his 
fellow<itizens had conceived of him as a child. He never was a 
candidate for the consulship, yet was elected consul twice: the first 
time before the legal age; the second at a time which, as far as he was 
concerned, was soon enough, but was near being too late for the 


interests of the State. By the overthrow of two cities which were the 
most bitter enemies of our Empire, he put an end not only to the 
wars then raging, but also to the possibility of others in the future. 
What need to mention the exquisite grace of his manners, his dutiful 
devotion to his mother, his generosity to his sisters, his liberality 
to his relations, the integrity of his conduct to every one? You know 
all this already. Finally, the estimation in which his fellow<itizens 
held him has been shown by the signs of mourning which accom- 
panied his obsequies. What could such a man have gained by the 
addition of a few years? Though age need not be a burden, — as I 
remember Cato arguing in the presence of myself and Scipio two 
years before he died, — yet it cannot but take away the vigour and 
freshness which Scipio was still enjoying. We may conclude there- 
fore that his life, from the good fortune which had attended him 
and the glory he had obtained, was so circumstanced that it could 
not be bettered, while the suddenness of his death saved him the 
sensation of dying. As to the manner of his death it is difHcult to 
speak; you see what people suspect. Thus much, however, I may 
say: Scipio in his lifetime saw many days of supreme triumph and 
exultation, but none more magnificent than his last, on which, upon 
the rising of the Senate, he was escorted by the senators and the 
people of Rome, by the allies, and by the Latins, to his own door. 
From such an elevation of popular esteem the next step seems 
naturally to be an ascent to the gods above, rather than a descent to 

4. For I am not one of these modern philosophers who maintain 
that our souls perish with our bodies, and that death ends all. With 
me ancient opinion has more weight: whether it be that of our 
own ancestors, who attributed such solemn observances to the dead, 
as they plainly would not have done if they had believed them to be 
wholly annihilated; or that of the philosophers who once visited this 
country, and who by their maxims and doctrines educated Magna 
Grxcia, which at that time was in a flourishing condition, though it 
has now been ruined; or that of the man who was declared by 
Apollo's oracle to be "most wise," and who used to teach without the 
variation which is to be found in most philosophers that "the souls 
of men are divine, and that when they have quitted the body a return 


to heaven is open to them, least difficult to those who have been most 
virtuous and just." This opinion was shared by Scipio. Only a few 
days before his death — as though he had a presentiment of what was 
coming — he discoursed for three days on the state of the republic. 
The company consisted of Philus and Manlius and several others, 
and I had brought you, Scaevola, along with me. The last part of his 
discourse referred principally to the immortality of the soul; for he 
told us what he had heard from the elder Africanus in a dream. 
Now if it be true that in proportion to a man's goodness the escape 
from what may be called the prison and bonds of the flesh is easiest, 
whom can we imagine to have had an easier voyage to the gods 
than Scipio? I am disposed to think, therefore, that in his case 
mourning would be a sign of envy rather than of friendship. If, 
however, the truth rather is that the body and soul perish together, 
and that no sensation remains, then though there is nothing good in 
death, at least there is nothing bad. Remove sensation, and a man is 
exacdy as though he had never been born; and yet that this man 
was born is a joy to me, and will be a subject of rejoicing to this 
State to its last hour. 

Wherefore, as I said before, all is as well as possible with him. Not 
so with me; for as I entered life before him, it would have been fairer 
for me to leave it also before him. Yet such is the pleasure I take in 
recalling our friendship, that I look upon my life as having been a 
happy one because I have sjient it with Scipio. With him I was 
associated in public and private business; with him I lived in Rome 
and served abroad; and between us there was the most complete 
harmony in our tastes, our pursuits, and our sentiments, which is the 
true secret of friendship. It is not therefore in that reputation for 
wisdom mentioned just now by Fannius — especially as it happens 
to be groundless — that I find my happiness so much, as in the hope 
that the memory of our friendship will be lasting. What makes me 
care the more about this is the fact that in all history there are 
scarcely three or four pairs of friends on record; and it is classed with 
them that I cherish a hope of the friendship of Scipio and Lxlius 
being known to posterity. 

Fannius. Of course that must be so, Lzlius. But since you have 
mentioned the word friendship, and we are at leisure, you would be 


doing me a great kindness, and I expect Scsvola also, if you would 
do as it is your habit to do when asked questions on other subjects, 
and tell us your sentiments about friendship, its nature, and the rules 
to be observed in regard to it. 

Scccvola. 1 shall of course be delighted. Fannius has anticipated 
the very request I was about to make. So you will be doing us 
both a great favour. 

5. Lcelius. I should certainly have no objection if I felt confidence 
in myself. For the theme is a noble one, and we are (as Fannius has 
said) at leisure. But who am I? and what ability have I? What you 
propose is all very well for professional philosophers, who are used, 
particularly if Greeks, to have the subject for discussion proposed to 
them on the spur of the moment. It is a task of considerable diffi- 
culty, and requires no litde practice. Therefore for a set discourse 
on friendship you must go, I think, to professional lecturers. All I 
can do is to urge on you to regard friendship as the greatest thing 
in the world; for there is nothing which so fits in with oiu" nature, 
or is so exactly what we want in prosperity or adversity. 

But I must at the very beginning lay down this principle — friend- 
ship can only exist between good men. I do not, however, press this 
too closely, like the philosophers who push their definitions to a 
superfluous accuracy. They have truth on their side, perhaps, but it 
is of no practical advantage. Those, I mean, who say that no one 
but the "wise" is "good." Granted, by all means. But the "wisdom" 
they mean is one to which no mortal ever yet attained. We must 
concern ourselves with the facts of everyday life as we find it — not 
imaginary and ideal perfections. Even Gaius Fannius, Manius 
Curius, and Tiberius Coruncanius, whom our ancestors decided to 
be "wise," I could never declare to be so according to their standard. 
Let them, then, keep this word "wisdom" to themselves. Everybody 
is irritated by it; no one understands what it means. Let them but 
grant that the men I mentioned were "good." No, they won't do that 
either. No one but the "wise" can be allowed that tide, say they. 
Well, then, let us dismiss them and manage as best we may with our 
own poor mother wit, as the phrase is. 

We mean then by the "good" those whose actions and lives leave 
no question as to their honour, purity, equity, and liberality; who 


are free from greed, lust, and violence; and who have the courage of 
their convictions. The men I have just named may serve as examples. 
Such men as these being generally accounted "good," let us agree 
to call them so, on the ground that to the best of human ability they 
follow nature as the most perfect guide to a good life. 

Now this truth seems clear to me, that nature has so formed us 
that a certain tie unites us all, but that this tie becomes stronger 
from proximity. So it is that fellow<itizens are preferred in our 
affections to foreigners, relations to strangers; for in their case Nature 
herself has caused a kind of friendship to exist, though it is one 
which lacks some of the elements of permanence. Friendship excels 
relationship in this, that whereas you may eliminate affection from 
relationship, you cannot do so from friendship. Without it relation- 
ship still exists in name, friendship does not. You may best under- 
stand this friendship by considering that, whereas the merely natural 
ties uniting the human race are indefinite, this one is so concentrated, 
and confined to so narrow a sphere, that affection is ever shared by 
two persons only, or at most by a few. 

6. Now friendship may be thus defined: a complete accord on all 
subjects human and divine, joined with mutual good will and 
affection. And with the exception of wisdom, I am inclined to think 
nothing better than this has been given to man by the immortal gods. 
There are people who give the palm to riches or to good health, 
or to power and office, many even to sensual pleasures. This last is 
the ideal of brute beasts; and of the others we may say that they are 
frail and uncertain, and def)end less on our own prudence than on the 
caprice of fortune. Then there are those who find the "chief good" 
in virtue. Well, that is a noble doctrine. But the very virtue they 
talk of is the parent and preserver of friendship, and without it 
friendship cannot possibly exist. 

Let us, I repeat, use the word virtue in the ordinary acceptation and 
meaning of the term, and do not let us define it in high-flown lan- 
guage. Let us account as good the persons usually considered so, such 
as Paulus, Cato, Gallus, Scipio, and Philus. Such men as these are 
good enough for everyday life; and we need not trouble ourselves 
about those ideal characters which are nowhere to be met with. 

Well, between men like these the advantages of friendship are 


almost more than I can say. To begin with, how can life be worth 
living, to use the words of Ennius, which lacks that repose which is to 
be found in the mutual good will of a friend? What can be more 
delightful than to have some one to whom you can say everything 
with the same absolute confidence as to yourself? Is not prosperity 
robbed of half its value if you have no one to share your joy? On 
the other hand, misfortunes would be hard to bear if there were not 
some one to feel them even more acutely than yourself. In a word, 
other objects of ambition serve for particular ends — riches for use, 
power for securing homage, office for reputation, pleasure for enjoy- 
ment, health for freedom from pain and the full use of the functions 
of the body. But friendship embraces innumerable advantages. Turn 
which way you please, you will find it at hand. It is everywhere; and 
yet never out of place, never unwelcome. Fire and water themselves, 
to use a common expression, are not of more universal use than 
friendship. I am not now speaking of the common or modified 
form of it, though even that is a source of pleasure and profit, but of 
that true and complete friendship which existed between the select 
few who are known to fame. Such friendship enhances prosperity, 
and reheves adversity of its burden by halving and sharing it. 

7. And great and numerous as are the blessings of friendship, this 
certainly is the sovereign one, that it gives us bright hopes for the 
future and forbids weakness and despair. In the face of a true friend 
a man sees as it were a second self. So that where his friend is he is; 
if his friend be rich, he is not poor; though he be weak, his friend's 
strength is his; and in his friend's hfe he enjoys a second life after 
his own is finished. This last is perhaps the most difficult to conceive. 
But such is the effect of the respect, the loving remembrance, and 
the regret of friends which follow us to the grave. While they take 
the sting out of death, they add a glory to the life of the survivors. 
Nay, if you eliminate from nature the tie of affection, there will be 
an end of house and city, nor will so much as the cultivation of the 
soil be left. If you don't see the virtue of friendship and harmony, 
you may learn it by observing the effects of quarrels and feuds. Was 
any family ever so well established, any State so firmly settled, as to 
be beyond the reach of utter destruction from animosities and fac- 
tions? This may teach you the immense advantage of friendship. 


They say that a certain philosopher of Agrigentum, in a Greek 
poem, pronounced with the authority of an oracle the doctrine that 
whatever in nattire and the universe was unchangeable was so in 
virtue of the binding force of friendship; whatever was changeable 
was so by the solvent power of discord. And indeed this is a truth 
which everybody understands and practically attests by experience. 
For if any marked instance of loyal friendship in confronting or 
sharing danger comes to light, every one applauds it to the echo. 
What cheers there were, for instance, all over the theatre at a passage 
in the new play of my friend and guest Pacuvius; where, the king 
not knowing which of the two was Orestes, Py lades declared himself 
to be Orestes, that he might die in his stead, while the real Orestes 
kept on asserting that it was he. The audience rose en masse and 
clapped their hands. And this was at an incident in fiction: what 
would they have done, must we suppose, if it had been in real Ufe? 
You can easily see what a natural feeling it is, when men who would 
not have had the resolution to act thus themselves, shewed how right 
they thought it in another. 

I don't think I have any more to say about friendship. If there 
is any more, and I have no doubt there is much, you must, if 
you care to do so, consult those who profess to discuss such 

Fanntus. We would rather apply to you. Yet I have often con- 
sulted such persons, and have heard what they had to say with a cer- 
tain sadsfaction. But in your discourse one somehow feels that there 
is a different strain. 

Sccevola. You would have said that still more, Fannius, if you 
had been present the other day in Scipio's pleasure-grounds when 
we had the discussion about the State. How splendidly he stood up 
for justice against Philus's elaborate speech! 

Fannius. Ah! it was naturally easy for the justest of men to stand 
up for justice. 

Scavola. Well, then, what about friendship? Who could discourse 
on it more easily than the man whose chief glory is a friendship 
maintained with the most absolute fidelity, constancy, and integrity? 

8. Lcelius. Now you are really using force. It makes no difference 
what kind of force you use: force it is. For it is neither easy nor 


right to refuse a wish of my sons-in-law, particularly when the wish 
is a creditable one in itself. 

Well, then, it has very often occurred to me when thinking about 
friendship, that the chief point to be considered was this: is it weak- 
ness and want of means that make friendship desired ? I mean, is its 
object an interchange of good offices, so that each may give that in 
which he is strong, and receive that in which he is weak? Or is it 
not rather true that, although this is an advantage naturally belong- 
ing to friendship, yet its original cause is quite other, prior in time, 
more noble in character, and springing more directly from our nature 
itself? The Latin word for friendship — amicitia — is derived from 
that for love — amor; and love is certainly the prime mover in con- 
tracting mutual affection. For as to material advantages, it often 
happens that those are obtained even by men who are courted by a 
mere show of friendship and treated with respect from interested 
motives. But friendship by its nature admits of no feigning, no pre- 
tence: as far as it goes it is both genuine and spontaneous. Therefore 
I gather that friendship springs from a natural impulse rather than a 
wish for help: from an inclination of the heart, combined with a 
certain instinctive feeling of love, rather than from a deliberate 
calculation of the material advantage it was likely to confer. The 
strength of this feeling you may notice in certain animals. They show 
such love to their offspring for a certain period, and are so beloved 
by them, that they clearly have a share in this natural, instinctive 
affection. But of course it is more evident in the case of man: first, 
in the natural affection between children and their parents, an 
affection which only shocking wickedness can sunder; and next, 
when the passion of love has attained to a like strength — on our 
finding, that is, some one person with whose character and nature we 
are in full sympathy, because we think that we perceive in him what 
I may call the beacon-light of virtue. For nothing inspires love, 
nothing conciliates affection, like virtue. Why, in a certain sense we 
may be said to feel affection even for men we have never seen, owing 
to their honesty and virtue. Who, for instance, fails to dwell on the 
memory of Gaius Fabricius and Manius Curius with some affection 
and warmth of feeling, though he has never seen them? Or who 
but loathes Tarquinius Superbus, Spurius Cassius, Spurius Melius? 


We have fought for empire in Italy with two great generals, Pyrrhus 
and Hannibal. For the former, owing to his probity, we entertain 
no great feelings of enmity : the latter, owing to his cruelty, our coun- 
try has detested and always will detest. 

9. Now, if the attraction of probity is so great that we can love it 
not only in those whom we have never seen, but, what is more, 
actually in an enemy, we need not be surprised if men's affections are 
roused when they fancy that they have seen virtue and goodness 
in those with whom a close intimacy is possible. I do not deny 
that affection is strengthened by the actual receipt of benefits, as well 
as by the f>erception of a wish to render service, combined with a 
closer intercourse. When these are added to the original impulse 
of the heart, to which I have alluded, a quite surprising warmth of 
feeling springs up. And if any one thinks that this comes from a 
sense of weakness, that each may have some one to help him to 
his particular need, all I can say is that, when he maintains it to be 
born of want and poverty, he allows to friendship an origin very 
base, and a pedigree, if I may be allowed the expression, far from 
noble. If this had been the case, a man's inclination to friendship 
would be exactly in proportion to his low opinion of his own re- 
sources. Whereas the truth is quite the other way. For when a man's 
confidence in himself is greatest, when he is so fortified by virtue and 
wisdom as to want nothing and to feel absolutely self-dependent, it is 
then that he is most conspicuous for seeking out and keeping up 
friendships. Did Africanus, for example, want anything of me? 
Not the least in the world! Neither did I of him. In my case it was 
an admiration of his virtue, in his an opinion, maybe, which he 
entertained of my character, that caused our affection. Closer inti- 
macy added to the warmth of our feelings. But though many great 
material advantages did ensue, they were not the source from 
which our affection proceeded. For as we are not beneficent and 
liberal with any view of extorting gratitude, and do not regard an act 
of kindness as an investment, but follow a natural inclination to 
liberality; so we look on friendship as worth trying for, not because 
we are attracted to it by the expectation of ulterior gain, but in the 
conviction that what it has to give us is from first to last included 
in the feeling itself. 


Far different is the view of those who, Uke brute beasts, refer every- 
thing to sensual pleasure. And no wonder. Men who have degraded 
all their powers of thought to an object so mean and contemptible 
can of course raise their eyes to nothing lofty, to nothing grand and 
divine. Such persons indeed let us leave out of the present question. 
And let us accept the doctrine that the sensation of love and the 
warmth of inclination have their origin in a spontaneous feeling 
which arises directly the presence of probity is indicated. When once 
men have conceived the inclination, they of course try to attach 
themselves to the object of it, and move themselves nearer and nearer 
to him. Their aim is that they may be on the same footing and the 
same level in regard to affection, and be more inclined to do a good 
service than to ask a return, and that there should be this noble 
rivalry between them. Thus both truths will be established. We 
shall get the most important material advantages from friendship; 
and its origin from a natural impulse rather than from a sense of 
need will be at once more dignified and more in accordance with 
fact. For if it were true that its material advantages cemented 
friendship, it would be equally true that any change in them would 
dissolve it. But nature being incapable of change, it follows that 
genuine friendships are eternal. 

So much for the origin of friendship. But perhaps you would not 
care to hear any more. 

Fannius. Nay, pray go on; let us have the rest, Laclius. I take 
on myself to speak for my friend here as his senior. 

Sccevola. Quite right! Therefore, pray let us hear. 

ID. Lalius. Well, then, my good friends, listen to some conversa- 
tions about friendship which very frequently passed between Scipio 
and myself. I must begin by telling you, however, that he used to 
say that the most difficult thing in the world was for a friendship to 
remain unimpaired to the end of life. So many things might inter- 
vene: conflicting interests; differences of opinion in politics; fre- 
quent changes in character, owing sometimes to misfortunes, some- 
times to advancing years. He used to illustrate these facts from the 
analogy of boyhood, since the warmest affections between boys are 
often laid aside with the boyish toga; and even if they did manage 
to keep them up to adolescence, they were sometimes broken by a 


rivalry in courtship, or for some other advantage to which their 
mutual claims were not compatible. Even if the friendship was 
prolonged beyond that time, yet it frequently received a rude shock 
should the two happen to be competitors for office. For while the 
most fatal blow to friendship in the majority of cases was the lust 
of gold, in the case of the best men it was a rivalry for office and 
reputation, by which it had often happened that the most violent 
enmity had arisen between the closest friends. 

Again, wide breaches and, for the most part, justifiable ones were 
caused by an immoral request being made of friends, to pander to 
a man's unholy desires or to assist him in inflicting a wrong. A 
refusal, though perfectly right, is attacked by those to whom they 
refuse compliance as a violation of the laws of friendship. Now the 
people who have no scruples as to the requests they make to their 
friends, thereby allow that they are ready to have no scruples as to 
what they will do jor their friends; and it is the recriminations of 
such people which commonly not only quench friendships, but give 
rise to lasting enmities. "In fact," he used to say, "these fatalities 
overhang friendship in such numbers that it requires not only wis- 
dom but good luck also to escape them all." 

II. With these premises, then, let us first, if you please, examine 
the question — how far ought personal feeling to go in friendship? 
For instance: suppose Coriolanus to have had friends, ought they 
to have joined him in invading his country? Again, in the case of 
VeceUinus or Spurius Mselius, ought their friends to have assisted 
them in their attempt to estabUsh a tyranny ? Take two instances of 
either line of conduct. When Tiberius Gracchus attempted his 
revolutionary measures he was deserted, as we saw, by Quintus 
Tubero and the friends of his own standing. On the other hand, 
a friend of your own family, Scsevola, Gaius Blossius of Cumz, 
took a different course. I was acting as assessor to the consuls 
Lacnas and Rupilius to try the conspirators, and Blossius pleaded 
for my pardon on the ground that his regard for Tiberius Gracchus 
had been so high that he looked upon his wishes as law. "Even if he 
had wished you to set fire to the Capitol?" said I. "That is a thing," 
he replied, "that he never would have wished." "Ah, but if he had 
wished it?" said I. "I would have obeyed." The wickedness of such 


a speech needs no comment. And in point of fact he was as good and 
better than his word; for he did not wait for orders in the audacious 
proceedings of Tiberius Gracchus, but was the head and front of 
them, and was a leader rather than an abettor of his madness. 
The result of his infatuation was that he fled to Asia, terrified by the 
special commission appointed to try him, joined the enemies of his 
country, and paid a penalty to the repubUc as heavy as it was 
deserved. I conclude, then, that the plea of having acted in the 
interests of a friend is not a valid excuse for a wrong action. For, 
seeing that a belief in a man's virtue is the original cause of friend- 
ship, friendship can hardly remain if virtue be abandoned. But if 
we decide it to be right to grant our friends whatever they wish, 
and to ask them for whatever we wish, perfect wisdom must be 
assumed on both sides if no mischief is to happen. But we cannot 
assume this perfect wisdom; for we are speaking only of such friends 
as are ordinarily to be met with, whether we have actually seen 
them or have been told about them — men, that is to say, of everyday 
life. I must quote some examples of such persons, taking care to 
select such as approach nearest to our standard of wisdom. We 
read, for instance, that Papus i^milius was a close friend of Gaius 
Luscinus. History tells us that they were twice consuls together, 
and colleagues in the censorship. Again, it is on record that Manius 
Curius and Tiberius Coruncanius were on the most intimate terms 
with them and with each other. Now, we cannot even suspect that 
any one of these men ever asked of his friend anything that militated 
against his honour or his oath or the interests of the republic. In 
the case of such men as these there is no pwint in saying that one of 
them would not have obtained such a request if he had made it; 
for they were men of the most scrupulous piety, and the making 
of such a request would involve a breach of religious obligation no 
less than the granting it. However, it is quite true that Gaius Carbo 
and Gaius Cato did follow Tiberius Gracchus; and though his 
brother Gaius Gracchus did not do so at the time, he is now the most 
eager of them all. 

12. We may then lay down this rule of friendship — neither as\ nor 
consent to do what is wrong. For the plea "for friendship's sake" 
is a discreditable one, and not to be admitted for a moment. This rule 


holds good for all wrong-doing, but more especially in such as 
involves disloyalty to the republic. For things have come to such a 
point with us, my dear Fannius and Scxvola, that we are bound to 
look somewhat far ahead to what is likely to happen to the republic. 
The constitution, as known to our ancestors, has already swerved 
somewhat from the regular course and the lines marked out for it. 
Tiberius Gracchus made an attempt to obtain the power of a king, 
or, I might rather say, enjoyed that power for a few months. Had 
the Roman people ever heard or seen the like before? What the 
friends and connexions that followed him, even after his death, 
have succeeded in doing in the case of Publius Scipio I cannot 
describe without tears. As for Carbo, thanks to the punishment 
recently inflicted on Tiberius Gracchus, we have by hook or by 
crook managed to hold out against his attacks. But what to expect 
of the tribuneship of Gaius Gracchus I do not like to forecast. One 
thing leads to another; and once set going, the downward course 
proceeds with ever-increasing velocity. There is the case of the 
ballot: what a blow was inflicted first by the lex Gabinia, and two 
years afterwards by the lex Cassia! I seem already to see the people 
estranged from the Senate, and the most important affairs at the 
mercy of the multitude. For you may be sure that more people 
will learn how to set such things in motion than how to stop them. 
What is the point of these remarks? This: no one ever makes any 
attempt of this sort without friends to help him. We must therefore 
impress upon good men that, should they become inevitably involved 
in friendships with men of this kind, they ought not to consider 
themselves under any obligation to stand by friends who are disloyal 
to the republic. Bad men must have the fear of punishment before 
their eyes: a punishment not less severe for those who follow than 
for those who lead others to crime. Who was more famous and 
powerful in Greece than Themistocles? At the head of the army 
in the Persian war he had freed Greece; he owed his exile to personal 
envy: but he did not submit to the wrong done him by his ungrate- 
ful country as he ought to have done. He acted as Coriolanus had 
acted among us twenty years before. But no one was found to help 
them in their attacks upon their fatherland. Both of them accord- 
ingly committed suicide. 


We conclude, then, not only that no such confederation of evilly 
disposed men must be allowed to shelter itself under the plea of 
friendship, but that, on the contrary, it must be visited with the 
severest punishment, lest the idea should prevail that fidelity to a 
friend justifies even making war upon one's country. And this is a 
case which I am inclined to think, considering how things are 
beginning to go, will sooner or later arise. And I care quite as much 
what the state of the constitution will be after my death as what it is 

13. Let this, then, be laid down as the first law of friendship, that 
we should asf(^ from friends, and do for friends, only what is good. 
But do not let us wait to be asked either: let there be ever an eager 
readiness, and an absence of hesitation. Let us have the courage 
to give advice with candour. In friendship, let the influence of 
friends who give good advice be paramount; and let this influence 
be used to enforce advice not only in plain-spoken terms, but 
sometimes, if the case demands it, with sharpness; and when so used, 
let it be obeyed. 

I give you these rules because I believe that some wonderful 
opinions are entertained by certain persons who have, I am told, a 
reputation for wisdom in Greece. There is nothing in the world, by 
the way, beyond the reach of their sophistry. Well, some of them 
teach that we should avoid very close friendships, for fear that one 
man should have to endure the anxieties of several. Each man, say 
they, has enough and to spare on his own hands; it is too bad to be 
involved in the cares of other people. The wisest course is to hold 
the reins of friendship as loose as possible; you can then tighten or 
slacken them at your will. For the first condition of a happy life is 
freedom from care, which no one's mind can enjoy if it has to travail, 
so to speak, for others besides itself. Another sect, I am told, gives 
vent to opinions still less generous. I briefly touched on this subject 
just now. They affirm that friendships should be sought solely for 
the sake of the assistance they give, and not at all from motives of 
feeling and affection; and that therefore just in proportion as a man's 
power and means of support are lowest, he is most eager to gain 
friendships: thence it comes that weak women seek the support of 
friendship more than men, the poor more than the rich, the unfor- 


tunate rather than those esteemed prosperous. What noble philoso- 
phy! You might just as well take the sun out of the sky as friendship 
from life; for the immortal gods have given us nothing better or 
more delightful. 

But let us examine the two doctrines. What is the value of this 
"freedom from care"? It is very tempting at first sight, but in 
practice it has in many cases to be put on one side. For there is no 
business and no course of action demanded from us by our honour 
which you can consistently decline, or lay aside when begun, from a 
mere wish to escape from anxiety. Nay, if we wish to avoid anxiety 
we must avoid virtue itself, which necessarily involves some anxious 
thoughts in showing its loathing and abhorrence for the qualities 
which are opposite to itself — as kindness for ill nature, self-control 
for licentiousness, courage for cowardice. Thus you may notice 
that it is the just who are most pained at injustice, the brave at 
cowardly actions, the temperate at depravity. It is then characteristic 
of a rightly ordered mind to be pleased at what is good and grieved 
at the reverse. Seeing then that the wise are not exempt from the 
heart-ache (which must be the case unless we suppose all human 
nature rooted out of their hearts), why should we banish friendship 
from our lives, for fear of being involved by it in some amount of 
distress? If you take away emotion, what difference remains I 
don't say between a man and a beast, but between a man and a stone 
or a log of wood, or anything else of that kind? 

Neither should we give any weight to the doctrine that virtue is 
something rigid and unyielding as iron. In point of fact it is in 
regard to friendship, as in so many other things, so supple and 
sensitive that it expands, so to speak, at a friend's good fortune, con- 
tracts at his misfortunes. We conclude then that mental pain which 
we must often encounter on a friend's account is not of sufficient 
consequence to banish friendship from our life, any more than it 
is true that the cardinal virtues are to be dispensed with because they 
involve certain anxieties and distresses. 

14. Let me repeat then, "the clear indication of virtue, to which 
a mind of like character is naturally attracted, is the beginning of 
friendship." When that is the case the rise of affection is a necessity. 
For what can be more irrational than to take delight in many objects 


incapable of response, such as office, fame, splendid buildings, and 
personal decoration, and yet to take little or none in a sentient being 
endowed with virtue, which has the faculty of loving or, if I may 
use the expression, loving back? For nothing is really more delight- 
ful than a return of affection, and the mutual interchange of kind 
feeling and good offices. And if we add, as we may fairly do, that 
nothing so powerfully attracts and draws one thing to itself as 
hkeness does to friendship, it will at once be admitted to be true that 
the good love the good and attach them to themselves as though they 
were united by blood and nature. For nothing can be more eager, 
or rather greedy, for what is like itself than nature. So, my dear 
Fannius and Scxvola, we may look uf)on this as an established fact, 
that between good men there is, as it were of necessity, a kindly 
feeling, which is the source of friendship ordained by nature. But 
this same kindliness affects the many also. For that is no unsympa- 
thetic or selfish or exclusive virtue, which protects even whole nations 
and consults their best interests. And that certainly it would not 
have done had it disdained all affection for the common herd. 

Again, the believers in the "interest" theory appear to me to destroy 
the most attractive link in the chain of friendship. For it is not so 
much what one gets by a friend that gives one pleasure, as the 
warmth of his feeling; and we only care for a friend's service if it 
has been prompted by affection. And so far from its being true that 
lack of means is a motive for seeking friendship, it is usually those 
who, being most richly endowed with wealth and means, and above 
all with virtue (which, after all, is a man's best support), are least 
in need of another, that are most open-handed and beneficent. Indeed 
I am inclined to think that friends ought at times to be in want of 
something. For instance, what scope would my affections have had 
if Scipio had never wanted my advice or co-operation at home or 
abroad.? It is not friendship, then, that follows material advantage, 
but material advantage friendship. 

15. We must not therefore listen to these superfine gentlemen 
when they talk of friendship, which they know neither in theory 
nor in practice. For who, in heaven's name, would choose a life of the 
greatest wealth and abundance on condition of neither loving or 
being beloved by any creature ? That is the sort of life tyrants endure. 


They, of course, can count on no fidelity, no affection, no security 
for the good will of any one. For them all is suspicion and anxiety; 
for them their is no possibility of friendship. Who can love one 
whom he fears, or by whom he knows that he is feared? Yet such 
men have a show of friendship offered them, but it is only a fair- 
weather show. If it ever hapjjen that they fall, as it generally docs, 
they will at once understand how friendless they are. So they say 
Tarquin observed in his exile that he never knew which of his 
friends were real and which sham, until he had ceased to be able to 
repay either. Though what surprises me is that a man of his proud 
and overbearing character should have a friend at all. And as it was 
his character that prevented his having genuine friends, so it often 
happens in the case of men of unusually great means — their very 
wealth forbids faithful friendships. For not only is Fortune bhnd 
herself; but she generally makes those blind also who enjoy her 
favours. They are carried, so to speak, beyond themselves with self- 
conceit and self-will; nor can anything be more perfectly intolerable 
than a successful fool. You may often see it. Men who before had 
pleasant manners enough undergo a complete change on attaining 
power of office. They despise their old friends: devote themselves 
to new. 

Now, can anything be more foolish than that men who have all 
the opportunities which prosperity, wealth, and great means can 
bestow, should secure all else which money can buy — horses, servants, 
splendid upholstering, and costly plate — but do not secure friends, 
who are, if I may use the expression, the most valuable and beautiful 
furniture of life? And yet, when they acquire the former, they know 
not who will enjoy them, nor for whom they may be taking all this 
trouble; for they will one and all eventually belong to the strongest: 
while each man has a stable and inalienable ownership in his friend- 
ships. And even if those possessions, which are, in a manner, the gifts 
of fortune, do prove permanent, life can never be anything but joyless 
which is without the consolations and companionship of friends. 

i6. To turn to another branch of our subject: We must now 
endeavour to ascertain what limits are to be observed in friendship — 
what is the boundary-line, so to speak, beyond which our affection 
is not to go. On this point I notice three opinions, with none of 


which I agree. One is that we should love our friend just as much as 
we love ourselves, and no more; another, that our affection to friends 
should exactly correspond and equal theirs to us; a third, that a man 
should be valued at exactly the same rate as he values himself. To not 
one of these opinions do I assent. The first, which holds that our 
regard for ourselves is to be the measure of our regard for our 
friend, is not true; for how many things there are which we would 
never have done for our own sakes, but do for the sake of a friend! 
We submit to make requests from unworthy people, to descend 
even to supplication; to be sharper in invective, more violent in 
attack. Such actions are not creditable in our own interests, but 
highly so in those of our friends. There are many advantages too 
which men of upright character voluntarily forgo, or of which they 
are content to be deprived, that their friends may enjoy them rather 
than themselves. 

The second doctrine is that which limits friendship to an exact 
equality in mutual good offices and good feelings. But such a view 
reduces friendship to a question of figures in a spirit far too narrow 
and illiberal, as though the object were to have an exact balance in a 
debtor and creditor account. True friendship appears to me to be 
something richer and more generous than that comes to; and not to 
be so narrowly on its guard against giving more than it receives. 
In such a matter we must not be always afraid of something being 
wasted or running over in our measure, or of more than is justly due 
being devoted to our friendship. 

But the last limit proposed is the worst, namely, that a friend's 
estimate of himself is to be the measure of our estimate of him. It 
often happens that a man has too humble an idea of himself, or takes 
too despairing a view of his chance of bettering his fortune. In such 
a case a friend ought not to take the view of him which he takes of 
himself. Rather he should do all he can to raise his drooping spirits, 
and lead him to more cheerful hopes and thoughts. 

We must then find some other limit. But I must first mention the 
sentiment which used to call forth Scipio's severest criticism. He 
often said that no one ever gave utterance to anything more diamet- 
rically opposed to the spirit of friendship than the author of the 
dictum, "You should love your friend with the consciousness that 


you may one day hate him." He could not be induced to believe 
that it was rightfully attributed to Bias, who was counted as one of 
the Seven Sages. It was the sentiment of some person with sinister 
motives or selfish ambition, or who regarded everything as it affected 
his own supremacy. How can a man be friends with another, if he 
thinks it possible that he may be his enemy ? Why, it will follow that 
he must wish and desire his friend to commit as many mistakes as 
possible, that he may have all the more handles against him; and, 
conversely, that he must be annoyed, irritated, and jealous at the 
right actions or good fortune of his friends. This maxim, then, let 
it be whose it will, is the utter destruction of friendship. The true 
rule is to take such care in the selection of our friends as never to 
enter upon a friendship with a man whom we could under any 
circumstances come to hate. And even if we are unlucky in our 
choice, we must put up with it — according to Scipio — in preference 
to making calculations as to a future breach. 

17. The real limit to be observed in friendship is this: the characters 
of two friends must be stainless. There must be complete harmony 
of interests, purpose, and aims, without exception. Then if the case 
arises of a friend's wish (not strictly right in itself) calling for sup- 
port in a matter involving his life or reputation, we must make some 
concession from the straight path — on condition, that is to say, that 
extreme disgrace is not the consequence. Something must be con- 
ceded to friendship. And yet we must not be entirely careless of our 
reputation, nor regard the good opinion of our fellow<itizens as a 
weapon which we can afford to despise in conducting the business 
of our life, however lowering it may be to tout for it by flattery and 
smooth words. We must by no means abjure virtue, which secures 
us affection. 

But to return again to Scipio, the sole author of the discourse on 
friendship: He used to complain that there was nothing on which 
men bestowed so little pains: that every one could tell exactly how 
many goats or sheep he had, but not how many friends; and while 
they took pains in procuring the former, they were utterly careless 
in selecting friends, and possessed no particular marks, so to speak, 
or tokens by which they might judge of their suitability for friend- 
ship. Now the qualities we ought to look out for in making our 


selection are firmness, stability, constancy. There is a plentiful lack 
of men so endowed, and it is difficult to form a judgment without 
testing. Now this testing can only be made during the actual 
existence of the friendship; for friendship so often precedes the 
formation of a judgment, and makes a previous test impossible. 
If we are prudent then, we shall rein in our impulse to affection as 
we do chariot horses. We make a preliminary trial of horses. So we 
should of friendship; and should test our friends' characters by a 
kind of tentative friendship. It may often happen that the untrust- 
worthiness of certain men is completely displayed in a small money 
matter; others who are proof against a small sum are detected if it be 
large. But even if some are found who think it mean to prefer 
money to friendship, where shall we look for those who put friend- 
ship before office, civil or military promotions, and political power, 
and who, when the choice lies between these things on the one side 
and the claims of friendship on the other, do not give a strong 
preference to the former? It is not in human nature to be indif- 
ferent to pohtical power; and if the price men have to pay for it is 
the sacrifice of friendship, they think their treason will be thrown 
into the shade by the magnitude of the reward. This is why true 
friendship is very difficult to find among those who engage in politics 
and the contest for office. Where can you find the man to prefer his 
friend's advancement to his own? And to say nothing of that, think 
how grievous and almost intolerable it is to most men to share 
political disaster. You will scarcely find any one who can bring 
himself to do that. And though what Ennius says is quite true, — 
"the hour of need shews the friend indeed," — yet it is in these two 
ways that most people betray their untrustworthiness and incon- 
stancy, by looking down on friends when they are themselves 
prosperous, or deserting them in their distress. A man, then, who 
has shewn a firm, unshaken, and unvarying friendship in both these 
contingencies we must reckon as one of a class the rarest in the 
world, and all but superhuman. 

18. Now what is the quality to look out for as a warrant for the 
stability and permanence of friendship? It is loyalty. Nothing that 
lacks this can be stable. We should also in making our selection 
look out for simplicity, a social disposition, and a sympathetic nature, 


moved by what moves us. These all contribute to maintain loyalty. 
You can never trust a character which is intricate and tortuous. Nor, 
indeed, is it possible for one to be trustworthy and firm who is 
unsympathetic by nature and unmoved by what aflects ourselves. 
We may add, that he must neither take pleasure in bringing accusa- 
tions against us himself, nor believe them when they are brought. All 
these contribute to form that constancy which I have been endeavour- 
ing to describe. And the result is, what I started by saying, that 
friendship is only possible between good men. 

Now there are two characteristic features in his treatment of his 
friends that a good (which may be regarded as equivalent to a wise) 
man will always display. First, he will be entirely without any 
make-believe or pretence of feeling; for the open display even of 
dislike is more becoming to an ingenuous character than a studied 
concealment of sentiment. Secondly, he will not only reject all 
accusations brought against his friend by another, but he will not be 
suspicious himself either, nor be always thinking that his friend 
has acted improperly. Besides this, there should be a certain pleasant- 
ness in word and manner which adds no little flavour to friendship. 
A gloomy temper and unvarying gravity may be very impressive; 
but friendship should be a little less unbending, more indulgent and 
gracious, and more inclined to all kinds of good-fellowship and good 

19. But here arises a question of some little difficulty. Are there 
any occasions on which, assuming their worthiness, we should 
prefer new to old friends, just as we prefer young to aged horses? 
The answer admits of no doubt whatever. For there should be no 
satiety in friendship, as there is in other things. The older the sweeter, 
as in wines that keep well. And the proverb is a true one, "You must 
eat many a peck of salt with a man to be thorough friends with him." 
Novelty, indeed, has its advantage, which we must not despise. 
There is always hof)e of fruit, as there is in healthy blades of corn. 
But age too must have its proper position; and, in fact, the influence 
of time and habit is very great. To recur to the illustration of the 
horse which I have just now used: Every one likes ceteris paribus 
to use the horse to which he has been accustomed, rather than one 
that is untried and new. And it is not only in the case of a living 


thing that this rule holds good, but in inanimate things also; for we 
like places where we have lived the longest, even though they are 
mountainous and covered with forest. But here is another golden 
rule in friendship: put yourself on a level with your friend. For it 
often happens that there are certain superiorities, as for example 
Scipio's in what I may call our set. Now he never assumed any airs 
of superiority over Philus, or Rupilius, or Mummius, or over friends 
of a lower rank still. For instance, he always shewed a deference to 
his brother Quintus Maximus because he was his senior, who, though 
a man no doubt of eminent character, was by no means his equal. 
He used also to wish that all his friends should be the better for 
his support. This is an example we should all follow. If any of us 
have any advantage in personal character, intellect, or fortune, we 
should be ready to make our friends sharers and partners in it with 
ourselves. For instance, if their parents are in humble circumstances, 
if their relations are {xjwerful neither in intellect nor means, we 
should supply their deficiencies and promote their rank and dignity. 

You know the legends of children brought up as servants in igno- 
rance of their parentage and family. When they are recognised and 
discovered to be the sons of gods or kings, they still retain their 
affection for the shepherds whom they have for many years looked 
upon as their parents. Much more ought this to be so in the case of 
real and undoubted parents. For the advantages of genius and virtue, 
and in short of every kind of superiority, are never realised to 
their fullest extent until they are bestowed upon our nearest and 

20. But the converse must also be observed. For in friendship 
and relationship, just as those who possess any superiority must put 
themselves on an equal footing with those who are less fortunate, so 
these latter must not be annoyed at being surpassed in genius, for- 
tune, or rank. But most people of that sort are for ever either 
grumbling at something, or harping on their claims; and especially if 
they consider that they have services of their own to allege involving 
zeal and friendship and some trouble to themselves. People who 
are always bringing up their services are a nuisance. The recipient 
ought to remember them; the performer should never mention them. 
In the case of friends, then, as the superior are bound to descend, so 


are they bound in a certain sense to raise those below them. For 
there are people who make their friendship disagreeable by imagin- 
ing themselves undervalued. This generally happens only to those 
who think that they deserve to be so; and they ought to be shewn 
by deeds as well as by words the groundlessness of their opinion. 
Now the measure of your benefits should be in the first place your 
own power to bestow, and in the second place the capacity to bear 
them on the part of him on whom you are bestowing affection and 
help. For, however great your {personal prestige may be, you cannot 
raise all your friends to the highest offices of the State. For instance, 
Scipio was able to make Publius Rupilius consul, but not his brother 
Lucius. But granting that you can give any one anything you 
choose, you must have a care that it does not prove to be beyond his 

As a general riJe, we must wait to make up our mind about 
friendships till men's characters and years have arrived at their full 
strength and development. People must not, for instance, regard as 
fast friends all whom in their youthful enthusiasm for hunting or 
football they liked for having the same tastes. By that rule, if it were 
a mere question of time, no one would have such claims on our 
affections as nurses and slave-tutors. Not that they are to be neg- 
lected, but they stand on a different ground. It is only these mature 
friendships that can be permanent. For difference of character leads 
to difference of aims, and the result of such diversity is to estrange 
friends. The sole reason, for instance, which prevents good men 
from making friends with bad, or bad with good, is that the 
divergence of their characters and aims is the greatest possible. 

Another good rule in friendship is this: do not let an excessive 
affection hinder the highest interests of your friends. This very 
often hapi^ens. I will go again to the region of fable for an instance. 
Neoptolemus could never have taken Troy if he had been willing to 
listen to Lycomedes, who had brought him up, and with many 
tears tried to prevent his going there. Again, it often happens that 
important business makes it necessary to part from friends: the man 
who tries to baulk it, because he thinks that he cannot endure the 
separation, is of a weak and effeminate nature, and on that very 
account makes but a poor friend. There are, of course, limits to what 


you ought to expect from a friend and to what you should allow him 
to demand of you. And these you must take into calculation in every 

21. Again, there is such a disaster, so to speak, as having to break 
off friendship. And sometimes it is one we cannot avoid. For at 
this point the stream of our discourse is leaving the intimacies of 
the wise and touching on the friendship of ordinary people. It will 
happen at times that an outbreak of vicious conduct affects either a 
man's friends themselves or strangers, yet the discredit falls on the 
friends. In such cases friendships should be allowed to die out 
gradually by an intermission of intercourse. They should, as I have 
been told that Cato used to say, rather be unstitched than torn in 
twain; unless, indeed, the injurious conduct be of so violent and 
outrageous a nature as to make an instant breach and separation the 
only possible course consistent with honour and rectitude. Again, if 
a change in character and aim takes place, as often happens, or if 
party politics produces an aHenation of feeHng (I am now speaking, 
as I said a short time ago, of ordinary friendships, not of those of the 
wise), we shall have to be on our guard against appearing to embark 
upon active enmity while we only mean to resign a friendship. For 
there can be nothing more discreditable than to be at open war with 
a man with whom you have been intimate. Scipio, as you are aware, 
had abandoned his friendship for Quintus Pompeius on my account; 
and again, from differences of opinion in poHtics, he became 
estranged from my colleague Metellus. In both cases he acted with 
dignity and moderation, shewing that he was offended indeed, but 
without rancour. 

Our first object, then, should be to prevent a breach; our second, to 
secure that, if it does occur, our friendship should seem to have 
died a natural rather than a violent death. Next, we should take care 
that friendship is not converted into active hostility, from which flow 
personal quarrels, abusive language, and angry recriminations. These 
last, however, provided that they do not pass all reasonable limits of 
forbearance, we ought to put up with, and, in compliment to an old 
friendship, allow the party that inflicts the injury, not the one that 
submits to it, to be in the wrong. Generally speaking, there is but 
one way of securing and providing oneself against faults and incon- 


veniences of this sort — not to be too hasty in bestowing our affection, 
and not to bestow it at all on unworthy objects. 

Now, by "worthy of friendship" I mean those who have in them- 
selves the qualities which attract affection. This sort of man is rare; 
and indeed all excellent things are rare; and nothing in the world is 
so hard to find as a thing entirely and completely perfect of its kind. 
But most people not only recognise nothing as good in our life unless 
it is profitable, but look upon friends as so much stock, caring most 
for those by whom they hope to make most profit. Accordingly they 
never possess that most beautiful and most spontaneous friendship 
which must be sought solely for itself without any ulterior object. 
They fail also to learn from their own feelings the nature and the 
strength of friendship. For every one loves himself, not for any 
reward which such love may bring, but because he is dear to himself 
independently of anything else. But unless this feeling is transferred 
to another, what a real friend is will never be revealed; for he is, as 
it were, a second self. But if we find these two instincts shewing 
themselves in animals, — whether of the air or the sea or the land, 
whether wild or tame, — first, a love of self, which in fact is born in 
everything that lives alike; and, secondly, an eagerness to find and 
attach themselves to other creatures of their own kind; and if this 
natural action is accompanied by desire and by something resembUng 
human love, how much more must this be the case in man by the 
law of his nature? For man not only loves himself, but seeks another 
whose spirit he may so blend with his own as almost to make one 
being of two. 

22. But most people unreasonably, not to speak of modesty, want 
such a friend as they are unable to be themselves, and expect from 
their friends what they do not themselves give. The fair course is 
first to be good yourself, and then to look out for another of like 
character. It is between such that the stability in friendship of which 
we have been talking can be secured; when, that is to say, men who 
are united by affection learn, first of all, to rule those passions which 
enslave others, and in the next place to take delight in fair and equit- 
able conduct, to bear each other's burdens, never to ask each other 
for anything inconsistent with virtue and rectitude, and not only to 
serve and love but also to respect each other. I say "respect"; for if 


respect is gone, friendship has lost its brightest jewel. And this shews 
the mistake of those who imagine that friendship gives a privilege 
to licentiousness and sin. Nature has given us friendship as the 
handmaid of virtue, not as a partner in guilt: to the end that virtue, 
being powerless when isolated to reach the highest objects, might 
succeed in doing so in union and partnership with another. Those 
who enjoy in the present, or have enjoyed in the past, or are destined 
to enjoy in the future such a partnership as this, must be considered 
to have secured the most excellent and auspicious combination for 
reaching nature's highest good. This is the partnership, I say, which 
combines moral rectitude, fame, peace of mind, serenity: aU that 
men think desirable because with them life is happy, but without 
them cannot be so. This being our best and highest object, we must, 
if we desire to attain it, devote ourselves to virtue; for without virtue 
we can obtain neither friendship nor anything else desirable. In fact, 
if virtue be neglected, those who imagine themselves to possess 
friends will find out their error as soon as some grave disaster forces 
them to make trial of them. Wherefore, I must again and again 
repeat, you must satisfy your judgment before engaging your affec- 
tions: not love first and judge afterwards. We suffer from careless- 
ness in many of our undertakings: in none more than in selecting 
and cultivating our friends. We put the cart before the horse, and 
shut the stable door when the steed is stolen, in defiance of the old 
proverb. For, having mutually involved ourselves in a long-standing 
intimacy or by actual obligations, all on a sudden some cause of 
offence arises and we break off our friendships in full career. 

23. It is this that makes such carelessness in a matter of supreme 
importance all the more worthy of blame. I say "supreme impor- 
tance," because friendship is the one thing about the utility of which 
everybody with one accord is agreed. That is not the case in regard 
even to virtue itself; for many people speak slightingly of virtue as 
though it were mere puffing and self-glorification. Nor is it the case 
with riches. Many look down on riches, being content with a little 
and taking pleasure in poor fare and dress. And as to the political 
offices for which some have a burning desire — how many entertain 
such a contempt for them as to think nothing in the world more 
empty and trivial! 


And so on with the rest; things desirable in the eyes of some are 
regarded by very many as worthless. But of friendship all think alike 
to a man, whether those who have devoted themselves to politics, or 
those who delight in science and philosophy, or those who follow a 
private way of life and care for nothing but their own business, or 
those lastly who have given themselves body and soul to sensuality — 
they all think, I say, that without friendship life is no life, if they 
want some part of it, at any rate, to be noble. For friendship, in one 
way or another, penetrates into the lives of us all, and suffers no 
career to be entirely free from its influence. Though a man be of 
so churlish and unsociable a nature as to loathe and shun the com- 
pany of mankind, as we are told was the case with a certain Timon 
at Athens, yet even he cannot refrain from seeking some one in whose 
hearing he may disgorge the venom of his bitter temper. We should 
see this most clearly, if it were {xsssible that some god should carry 
us away from these haunts of men, and place us somewhere in 
perfect solitude, and then should supply us in abundance with every- 
thing necessary to our nature, and yet take from us entirely the 
opportunity of looking upon a human being. Who could steel 
himself to endure such a life.' Who would not lose in his loneliness 
the zest for all pleasures.' And indeed this is the point of the observa- 
tion of, I think, Archytas of Tarentum. I have it third hand; men 
who were my seniors told me that their seniors had told them. It 
was this: "If a man could ascend to heaven and get a clear view of 
the natural order of the universe, and the beauty of the heavenly 
bodies, that wonderful spectacle would give him small pleasure, 
though nothing could be conceived more delightful if he had but 
had some one to whom to tell what he had seen." So true it is that 
Nature abhors isolation, and ever leans upon something as a stay 
and support; and this is found in its most pleasing form in our 
closest friend. 

24. But though Nature also declares by so many indications what 
her wish and object and desire is, we yet in a manner turn a deaf 
ear and will not hear her warnings. The intercourse between friends 
is varied and complex, and it must often happen that causes of 
suspicion and offence arise, which a wise man will sometimes avoid, 
at other times remove, at others treat with indulgence. The one 


possible cause of offence that must be faced is when the interests of 
your friend and your own sincerity are at stake. For instance, it 
often happens that friends need remonstrance and even reproof. 
When these are administered in a kindly spirit they ought to be 
taken in good part. But somehow or other there is truth in what my 
friend Terence says in his Andria: 

Compliance gets us friends, plain speaking hate. 

Plain speaking is a cause of trouble, if the result of it is resentment, 
which is poison of friendship; but compliance is really the cause of 
much more trouble, because by indulging his faults it lets a friend 
plunge into headlong ruin. But the man who is most to blame is he 
who resents plain speaking and allows flattery to egg him on to his 
ruin. On this point, then, from first to last there is need of delibera- 
tion and care. If we remonstrate, it should be without bitterness; if 
we reprove, there should be no word of insult. In the matter of 
compliance (for I am glad to adopt Terence's word), though there 
should be every courtesy, yet that base kind which assists a man in 
vice should be far from us, for it is unworthy of a free-born man, 
to say nothing of a friend. It is one thing to live with a tyrant, 
another with a friend. But if a man's ears are so closed to plain 
speaking that he cannot bear to hear the truth from a friend, we 
may give him up in despair. This remark of Cato's, as so many of 
his did, shews great acuteness: "There are people who owe more 
to bitter enemies than to apparently pleasant friends: the former 
often speak the truth, the latter never." Besides, it is a strange 
paradox that the recipients of advice should feel no annoyance where 
they ought to feel it, and yet feel so much where they ought not. 
They are not at all vexed at having committed a fault, but very angry 
at being reproved for it. On the contrary, they ought to be grieved 
at the crime and glad of the correction. 

25. Well, then, if it is true that to give and receive advice — the 
former with freedom and yet without bitterness, the latter with 
patience and without irritation — is peculiarly appropriate to genuine 
friendship, it is no less true that there can be nothing more utterly 
subversive of friendship than flattery, adulation, and base compliance. 
I use as many terms as possible to brand this vice of light-minded, 


untrustworthy men, whose sole object in speaking is to please with- 
out any regard to truth. In everything false pretence is bad, for it 
susfjends and vitiates our power of discerning the truth. But to 
nothing is it so hostile as to friendship; for it destroys that frankness 
without which friendship is an empty name. For the essence of 
friendship being that two minds become as one, how can that ever 
take place if the mind of each of the separate parties to it is not 
single and uniform, but variable, changeable, and complex? Can 
anything be so pliable, so wavering, as the mind of a man whose 
attitude depends not only on another's feeling and wish, but on 
his very looks and nods.' 

If one says "No," I answer "No"; if "Yes," I answer "Yes." 
In fine, I've laid this task upon myself. 
To echo all that's said — 

to quote my old friend Terence again. But he puts these words into 
the mouth of a Gnatho. To admit such a man into one's intimacy 
at all is a sign of folly. But there are many people like Gnatho, and 
it is when they are superior either in position or fortune or reputation 
that their flatteries become mischievous, the weight of their position 
making up for the lightness of their character. But if we only take 
reasonable care, it is as easy to separate and distinguish a genuine 
from a specious friend as anything else that is coloured and artificial 
from what is sincere and genuine. A public assembly, though com- 
posed of men of the smallest possible culture, nevertheless will see 
clearly the difference between a mere demagogue (that is, a flatterer 
and untrustworthy citizen) and a man of principle, standing, and 
solidity. It was by this kind of flattering language that Gains Papirius 
the other day endeavoured to tickle the ears of the assembled jjeople, 
when proposing his law to make the tribunes re-eligible. I spoke 
against it. But I will leave the p>ersonal question. I prefer speaking of 
Scipio. Good heavens! how impressive his speech was, what a 
majesty there was in it! You would have pronounced him, without 
hesitation, to be no mere henchman of the Roman people, but their 
leader. However, you were there, and moreover have the speech in 
your hands. The result was that a law meant to please the people 
was by the people's votes rejected. Once more to refer to myself, you 


remember how apparently popular was the law proposed by Gaius 
Licinius Crassus "about the election to the College of Priests" in the 
consulship of Quintus Maximus, Scipio's brother, and Lucius 
Mancinus. For the power of filling up their own vacancies on the 
part of the colleges was by this proposal to be transferred to the 
people. It was this man, by the way, who began the practice of 
turning towards the forum when addressing the people. In spite of 
this, however, upon my speaking on the conservative side, religion 
gained an easy victory over his plausible speech. This took place in 
my practorship, five years before I was elected consul, which shows 
that the cause was successfully maintained more by the merits of 
the case than by the prestige of the highest office. 

26. Now, if on a stage, such as a public assembly essentially is, 
where there is the amplest room for fiction and half-truths, truth 
nevertheless prevails if it be but fairly laid open and brought into 
the light of day, what ought to happen in the case of friendship, 
which rests entirely on truthfulness? Friendship, in which, unless 
you both see and shew an open breast, to use a common expression, 
you can neither trust nor be certain of anything — no, not even of 
mutual affection, since you cannot be sure of its sincerity. However, 
this flattery, injurious as it is, can hurt no one but the man who 
takes it in and Hkes it. And it follows that the man to open his 
ears widest to flatterers is he who first flatters himself and is fondest 
of himself. I grant you that Virtue naturally loves herself; for she 
knows herself and perceives how worthy of love she is. But I am 
not now speaking of absolute virtue, but of the belief men have that 
they fwssess virtue. The fact is that fewer people are endowed with 
virtue than wish to be thought to be so. It is such people that take 
delight in flattery. When they are addressed in language expressly 
adapted to flatter their vanity, they look upon such empty persiflage 
as a testimony to the truth of their own praises. It is not then 
properly friendship at all when the one will not listen to the truth, 
and the other is prepared to lie. Nor would the servility of parasites 
in comedy have seemed humorous to us had there been no such 
things as braggart captains. "Is Thais really much obliged to me?" 
It would have been quite enough to answer "Much," but he must 
needs say "Immensely." Your servile flatterer always exaggerates 


what his victim wishes to be put strongly. Wherefore, though it is 
with those who catch at and invite it that this flattering falsehood 
is especially powerful, yet men even of solider and steadier character 
must be warned to be on the watch against being taken in by 
cunningly disguised flattery. An open flatterer any one can detect, 
unless he is an absolute fool: the covert insinuation of the cunning 
and the sly is what we have to be studiously on our guard against. 
His detection is not by any means the easiest thing in the world, for 
he often covers his serviUty under the guise of contradiction, and 
flatters by pretending to dispute, and then at last giving in and 
allowing himself to be beaten, that the person hoodwinked may 
think himself to have been the clearer-sighted. Now what can be 
more degrading than to be thus hoodwinked? You must be on your 
guard against this happening to you, Uke the man in the Heiress: 

How have I been befooled! no drivelling dotards 
On any stage were e'er so played upon. 

For even on the stage we have no grosser representation of folly 
than that of short-sighted and credulous old men. But somehow or 
other I have strayed away from the friendship of the perfect, that is, 
of the "wise" (meaning, of course, such "wisdom" as human nature 
is captable of), to the subject of vulgar, unsubstantial friendships. 
Let us then return to our original theme, and at length bring that, 
too, to a conclusion. 

27. Well, then, Fannius and Mucius, I repeat what I said before. 
It is virtue, virtue, which both creates and preserves friendship. On it 
depends harmony of interest, permanence, fideHty. When Virtue 
has reared her head and shewn the light of her countenance, and 
seen and recognised the same light in another, she gravitates towards 
it, and in her turn welcomes that which the other has to shew; and 
from it springs up a flame which you may call love or friendship 
as you please. Both words are from the same root in Latin; and 
love is just the cleaving to him whom you love without the prompt- 
ing of need or any view to advantage — though this latter blossoms 
spontaneously on friendship, little as you may have looked for it. 
It is with such warmth of feeling that I cherished Lucius Paulus, 
Marcus Cato, Gaius Gallus, Publius Nasica, Tiberius Gracchus, my 


dear Scipio's father-in-law. It shines with even greater warmth 
when men are of the same age, as in the case of Scipio and Lucius 
Furius, Publius Rupilius, Spurius Mummius, and myself. En re- 
vanche, in my old age I find comfort in the affection of young men, 
as in the case of yourselves and Quintus Tubero: nay more, I delight 
in the intimacy of such a very young man as Publius Rutilius and 
Aulus Verginius. And since the law of our nature and of our life 
is that a new generation is for ever springing up, the most desirable 
thing is that along with your contemporaries, with whom you 
started in the race, you may also reach what is to us the goal. But 
in view of the instability and perishableness of mortal things, we 
should be continually on the look-out for some to love and by whom 
to be loved; for if we lose affection and kindliness from our life, we 
lose all that gives it charm. For me, indeed, though torn away by a 
sudden stroke, Scipio still lives and ever will live. For it was the 
virtue of the man that I loved, and that has not suffered death. And 
it is not my eyes only, because I had all my life a personal experience 
of it, that never lose sight of it: it will shine to posterity also with 
undimmed glory. No one will ever cherish a nobler ambition or a 
loftier hope without thinking his memory and his image the best 
to put before his eyes. I declare that of all the blessings which either 
fortune or nature has bestowed upon me I know none to compare 
with Scipio's friendship. In it I found sympathy in public, counsel 
in private business; in it too a means of spending my leisure with 
unalloyed delight. Never, to the best of my knowledge, did I offend 
him even in the most trivial point; never did I hear a word from him 
I could have wished unsaid. We had one house, one table, one style 
of living; and not only were we together on foreign service, but 
in our tours also and country sojourns. Why speak of our eagerness 
to be ever gaining some knowledge, to be ever learning something, 
on which we spent all our leisure hours far from the gaze of the 
world? If the recollection and memory of these things had f)erished 
with the man, I could not possibly have endured the regret for one 
so closely united with me in life and afTection. But these things 
have not perished; they are rather fed and strengthened by reflexion 
and memory. Even supposing me to have been entirely bereft of 
them, still my time of life of itself brings me no small consolation: 


for I cannot have much longer now to bear this regret; and every- 
thing that is brief ought to be endurable, however severe. 

This is all I had to say on friendship. One piece of advice on 
parting. Make up your minds to this: Virtue (without which friend- 
ship is impossible) is first; but next to it, and to it alone, the greatest 
of all things is Friendship. 



I . And should my service, Titus, ease the weight 
Of care that wrings your heart, and draw the sting 
Which rankles there, what guerdon shall there be? 

FOR I may address you, Atticus, in the lines in which 
Flamininus was addressed by the man 

who, poor in wealth, was rich in honour's gold, 

though I am well assured that you are not, as Flamininus was, 

kept on the rack of care by night and day. 

For I know how well-ordered and equable your mind is, and am 
fully aware that it was not a surname alone which you brought 
home with you from Athens, but its culture and good sense. And 
yet I have an idea that you are at times stirred to the heart by the 
same circumstances as myself. To console you for these is a more 
serious matter, and must be put of? to another time. For the present 
I have resolved to dedicate to you an essay on Old Age. For from 
the burden of impending or at least advancing age, common to us 
both, I would do something to relieve us both: though as to yourself 
I am fully aware that you support and will support it, as you do 
everything else, with calmness and philosophy. But directly I re- 
solved to write on old age, you at once occurred to me as deserving 
a gift of which both of us might take advantage. To myself, indeed, 
the composition of this book has been so delightful that it has not 
only wiped away all the disagreeables of old age, but has even made 
it luxurious and delightful too. Never, therefore, can philosophy be 
praised as highly as it deserves, considering that its faithful disciple 
is able to spend every period of his life with unruffled feelings. 
However, on other subjects I have spoken at large, and shall often 
speak again: this book which I herewith send you is on Old Age. I 



have put the whole discourse not, as Alisto of Cos did, in the mouth 
o£ Tithonus — for a mere fable would have lacked conviction — but in 
that of Marcus Cato when he was an old man, to give my essay 
greater weight. I represent La:lius and Scipio at his house expressing 
surprise at his carrying his years so lightly, and Cato answering them. 
If he shall seem to shew somewhat more learning in this discourse 
than he generally did in his own books, put it down to the Greek 
literature of which it is known that he became an eager student in 
his old age. But what need of more? Cato's own words will at 
once explain all I feel about old age. 

M. Cato. Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus {the younger). 


2. Scipio. Many a time have I in conversation with my friend 
Gaius Lxlius here expressed my admiration, Marcus Cato, of the 
eminent, nay perfect, wisdom displayed by you indeed at all points, 
but above everything because I have noticed that old age never 
seemed a burden to you, while to most old men it is so hateful that 
they declare themselves under a weight heavier than JEtna. 

Cato. Your admiration is easily excited, it seems, my dear Scipio 
and Laelius. Men, of course, who have no resources in themselves 
for securing a good and happy life find every age burdensome. But 
those who look for all happiness from within can never think 
anything bad which Nature makes inevitable. In that category 
before anything else comes old age, to which all wish to attain, 
and at which all grumble when attained. Such is Folly's inconsistency 
and unreasonableness! They say that it is stealing upon them faster 
than they expected. In the first place, who compelled them to hug 
an illusion? For in what respect did old age steal upon manhood 
faster than manhood upon childhood? In the next place, in what 
way would old age have been less disagreeable to them if they were 
in their eight-hundredth year than in their eightieth? For their 
past, however long, when once it was past, would have no consola- 
tion for a stupid old age. Wherefore, if it is your wont to admire my 
wisdom — and I would that it were worthy of your good opinion and 
of my own surname of Sapiens — it really consists in the fact that I 
follow Nature, the best of guides, as I would a god, and am loyal 


to her commands. It is not likely, if she has written the rest of the 
play well, that she has been careless about the last act like some 
idle poet. But after all some "last" was inevitable, just as to the 
berries of a tree and the fruits of the earth there comes in the fulness 
of time a period of decay and fall. A wise man will not make a 
grievance of this. To rebel against Nature — is not that to fight like 
the giants with the gods? 

hxlius. And yet, Cato, you will do us a very great favour (I ven- 
ture to speak for Scipio as for myself) if — since we all hope, or at 
least wish, to become old men — you would allow us to learn from you 
in good time before it arrives, by what methods we may most easily 
acquire the strength to support the burden of advancing age. 

Cato. I will do so without doubt, Laclius, especially if, as you say, 
it will be agreeable to you both. 

Lcelius. We do wish very much, Cato, if it is no trouble to you, 
to be allowed to see the nature of the bourne which you have reached 
after completing a long journey, as it were, upon which we too are 
bound to embark. 

3. Cato. I will do the best I can, Lslius. It has often been my 
fortune to hear the complaints of my contemporaries — like will to 
like, you know, according to the old proverb — complaints to which 
men like C. Salinator and Sp. Albinus, who were of consular rank 
and about my time, used to give vent. They were, first, that they 
had lost the pleasures of the senses, without which they did not 
regard life as life at all; and, secondly, that they were neglected 
by those from whom they had been used to receive attentions. 
Such men appear to me to lay the blame on the wrong thing. 
For if it had been the fault of old age, then these same mis- 
fortunes would have befallen me and all other men of advanced 
years. But I have known many of them who never said a word of 
complaint against old age; for they were only too glad to be freed 
from the bondage of passion, and were not at all looked down upon 
by their friends. The fact is that the blame for all complaints of that 
kind is to be charged to character, not to a particular time of life. 
For old men who are reasonable and neither cross-grained nor 
churlish find old age tolerable enough: whereas unreason and 
churlishness cause uneasiness at every time of Ufe. 


Ltelius. It is as you say, Cato. But perhaps some one may suggest 
that it is your large means, wealth, and high position that make you 
think old age tolerable: whereas such good fortune only falls to few. 

Cato. There is something in that, Laelius, but by no means all. 
For instance, the story is told of the answer of Themistocles in a 
wrangle with a certain Seriphian, who asserted that he owed his 
brilliant position to the reputation of his country, not to his own. 
"If I had been a Seriphian," said he, "even I should never have been 
famous, nor would you if you had been an Athenian." Something 
like this may be said of old age. For the philosopher himself could 
not find old age easy to bear in the depths of poverty, nor the fool 
feel it anything but a burden though he were a millionaire. You 
may be sure, my dear Scipio and La;lius, that the arms best adapted 
to old age are culture and the active exercise of the virtues. For if 
they have been maintained at every period — if one has lived much 
as well as long — the harvest they produce is wonderful, not only 
because they never fail us even in our last days (though that in itself 
is supremely important), but also because the consciousness of a 
well-spent life and the recollection of many virtuous actions are 
exceedingly delightful. 

4. Take the case of Q. Fabius Maximus, the man, I mean, who 
recovered Tarentum. When I was a young man and he an old one, 
I was as much attached to him as if he had been my contemporary. 
For that great man's serious dignity was tempered by courteous 
manners, nor had old age made any change in his character. True, 
he was not exactly an old man when my devotion to him began, yet 
he was nevertheless well on in life; for his first consulship fell in 
the year after my birth. When quite a stripling I went with him in 
his fourth consulship as a soldier in the ranks, on the expedition 
against Capua, and in the fifth year after that against Tarentum. 
Four years after that I was elected quaestor, holding office in the 
consulship of Tuditanus and Cethegus, in which year, indeed, he as a 
very old man spoke in favour of the Cincian law "on gifts and fees." 

Now this man conducted wars with all the spirit of youth when 
he was far advanced in life, and by his persistence gradually wearied 
out Hannibal, when rioting in all the confidence of youth. How 
brilliant are those lines of my friend Ennius on him! 


For us, down beaten by the storms of fate. 
One man by wise delays restored the State. 
Praise or dispraise moved not his constant mood, 
True to his purpose, to his country's good! 
Down ever-lengthening avenues of fame 
Thus shines and shall shine still his glorious name. 

Again, what vigilance, what profound skill did he shew in the 
capture of Tarentum! It was indeed in my hearing that he made 
the famous retort to Salinator, who had retreated into the citadel 
after losing the town: "It was owing to me, Quintus Fabius, that 
you retook Tarentum." "Quite so," he replied with a laugh; "for 
had you not lost it, I should never have recovered it." Nor was he 
less eminent in civil life than in war. In his second consulship, 
though his colleague would not move in the matter, he resisted as 
long as he could the proposal of the tribune C. Flaminius to divide 
the territory of the Picenians and Gauls in free allotments in defiance 
of a resolution of the Senate. Again, though he was an augur, he 
ventured to say that whatever was done in the interests of the State 
was done with the best possible auspices, that any laws proposed 
against its interest were proposed against the auspices. I was cogni- 
sant of much that was admirable in that great man, but nothing 
struck me with greater astonishment than the way in which he bore 
the death of his son — a man of brilliant character and who had been 
consul. His funeral speech over him is in wide circulation, and when 
we read it, is there any philosopher of whom we do not think 
meanly ? Nor in truth was he only great in the light of day and in 
the sight of his fellow<itizens; he was still more eminent in private 
and at home. What a wealth of conversation! What weighty 
maxims! What a wide acquaintance with ancient history! What an 
accurate knowledge of the science of augury! For a Roman, too, 
he had a great tincture of letters. He had a tenacious memory for 
military history of every sort, whether of Roman or foreign wars. 
And I used at that time to enjoy his conversation with a passionate 
eagerness, as though I already divined, what actually turned out to 
be the case, that when he died there would be no one to teach me 
5. What then is the purpose of such a long disquisition on 


Maximus? It is because you now see that an old age like his cannot 
conscientiously be called unhappy. Yet it is after all true that every- 
body cannot be a Scipio or a Maximus, with stormings of cities, 
with battles by land and sea, with wars in which they themselves 
commanded, and with triumphs to recall. Besides this there is a 
quiet, pure, and cultivated life which produces a calm and gentle 
old age, such as we have been told Plato's was, who died at his 
writing-desk in his eighty-first year; or like that of Isocrates, who 
says that he wrote the book called The Panegyric in his ninety-fourth 
year, and who lived for five years afterwards; while his master 
Gorgias of Leontini completed a hundred and seven years without 
ever relaxing his diligence or giving up work. When some one asked 
him why he consented to remain so long alive — "I have no fault," 
said he, "to find with old age." That was a noble answer, and 
worthy of a scholar. For fools impute their own frailties and guilt 
to old age, contrary to the practice of Ennius, whom I mentioned 
just now. In ths lines — 

Like some brave steed that oft before 
The Olympic wreath of victory bore. 
Now by the weight of years oppressed. 
Forgets the race, and takes his rest — 

he compares his own old age to that of a high-spirited and successful 
race-horse. And him indeed you may very well remember. For the 
present consuls Titus Flamininus and Manius Acilius were elected 
in the nineteenth year after his death; and his death occurred in the 
consulship of Qcpio and Philippus, the latter consul for the second 
time: in which year I, then sixty-six years old, spoke in favour of 
the Voconian law in a voice that was still strong and with lungs 
still sound; while he, though seventy years old, supported two 
burdens considered the heaviest of all — poverty and old age — in such 
a way as to be all but fond of them. 

The fact is that when I come to think it over, I find that there 
are four reasons for old age being thought unhappy: First, that it 
withdraws us from active employments; second, that it enfeebles the 
body; third, that it deprives us of nearly all physical pleasures; 
fourth, that it is the next step to death. Of each of these reasons, if 
you will allow me, let us examine the force and justice separately. 


6. Old ace withdraws us from active employments. From which 
of them ? Do you mean from those carried on by youth and bodily 
strength? Are there then no old men's employments to be after all 
conducted by the intellect, even when bodies are weak? So then 
Q. Maximus did nothing; nor L. ^milius — your father, Scipio, and 
my excellent son's father-in-law! So with other old men — the 
Fabricii, the Curii and Coruncanii — when they were supporting the 
State by their advice and influence, they were doing nothing! To 
old age Appius Claudius had the additional disadvantage of being 
blind; yet it was he who, when the Senate was inclining towards a 
peace with Pyrrhus and was for making a treaty, did not hesitate to 
say what Ennius has embalmed in the verses: 

Whither have swerved the souls so firm of yore? 
Is sense grown senseless? Can feet stand no more? 

And so on in a tone of the most passionate vehemence. You know 
the poem, and the speech of Appius himself is extant. Now, he 
delivered it seventeen years after his second consulship, there having 
been an interval of ten years between the two consulships, and he 
having been censor before his previous consulship. This will show 
you that at the time of the war with Pyrrhus he was a very old man. 
Yet this is the story handed down to us. 

There is therefore nothing in the arguments of those who say that 
old age takes no part in public business. They are like men who 
would say that a steersman does nothing in sailing a ship, because, 
while some of the crew are climbing the masts, others hurrying up 
and down the gangways, others pumping out the bilge water, he 
sits quietly in the stern holding the tiller. He does not do what 
young men do; nevertheless he does what is much more important 
and better. The great affairs of life are not performed by physical 
strength, or activity, or nimbleness of body, but by deliberation, 
character, expression of opinion. Of these old age is not only not 
deprived, but, as a rule, has them in a greater degree. Unless by 
any chance I, who as a soldier in the ranks, as military tribune, as 
legate, and as consul have been employed in various kinds of war, 
now appear to you to be idle because not actively engaged in war. 
But I enjoin upon the Senate what is to be done, and how. Carthage 


has long been harbouring evil designs, and I accordingly proclaim 
war against her in good time. I shall never cease to entertain fears 
about her till I hear of her having been levelled with the ground. 
The glory of doing that I pray that the immortal gods may reserve 
for you, Scipio, so that you may complete the task begun by your 
grandfather, now dead more than thirty-two years ago; though all 
years to come will keep that great man's memory green. He died in 
the year before my censorship, nine years after my consulship, having 
been returned consul for the second time in my own consulship. If 
then he had lived to his hundredth year, would he have regretted 
having lived to be old? For he would of course not have been 
practising rapid marches, nor dashing on a foe, nor hurling spears 
from a distance, nor using swords at close quarters — but only counsel, 
reason, and senatorial eloquence. And if those qualities had not 
resided in us seniors, our ancestors would never have called their 
supreme council a Senate. At Sparta, indeed, those who hold the 
highest magistracies are in accordance with the fact actually called 
"elders." But if you will take the trouble to read or listen to foreign 
history, you will find that the mightiest States have been brought into 
peril by young men, have been supported and restored by old. The 
question occurs in the poet Nxvius's Sport: 

Pray, who are those who brought your State 
With such despatch to meet its fate? 

There is a long answer, but this is the chief point: 

A crop of brand-new orators we grew. 

And foolish, paltry lads who thought they knew. 

For of course rashness is the note of youth, prudence of old age. 

7. But, it is said, memory dwindles. No doubt, unless you keep it 
in practice, or if you happen to be somewhat dull by nature. Themis- 
tocles had the names of all his fellow<itizens by heart. Do you 
imagine that in his old age he used to address Aristides as Ly- 
simachus? For my part, I know not only the present generation, but 
their fathers also, and their grandfathers. Nor have I any fear of 
losing my memory by reading tombstones, according to the vulgar 
superstition. On the contrary, by reading them I renew my memory 


of those who are dead and gone. Nor, in point of fact, have I ever 
heard of any old man forgetting where he had hidden his money. 
They remember everything that interests them: when to answer to 
their bail, business appointments, who owes them money, and to 
whom they owe it. What about lawyers, pontiffs, augurs, philoso- 
phers, when old? What a multitude of things they remember! Old 
men retain their intellects well enough, if only they keep their minds 
active and fully employed. Nor is that the case only with men of 
high position and great office: it applies equally to private life and 
peaceful pursuits. Sophocles composed tragedies to extreme old 
age; and being believed to neglect the care of his property owing to 
his devotion to his art, his sons brought him into court to get a 
judicial decision depriving him of the management of his property 
on the ground of weak intellect — just as in our law it is customary 
to deprive a paterfamilias of the management of his property if he 
is squandering it. Thereupon the old poet is said to have read to the 
judges the play he had on hand and had just composed — the CEdipus 
Coloneus — and to have asked them whether they thought that the 
work of a man of weak intellect. After the reading he was acquitted 
by the jury. Did old age then compel this man to become silent in 
his particular art, or Homer, Hesiod, Simonides, or Isocrates and 
Gorgias, whom I mentioned before, or the founders of schools of 
philosophy, Pythagoras, Democritus, Plato, Xenocrates, or later Zeno 
and Cleanthus, or Diogenes the Stoic, whom you too saw at Rome? 
Is it not rather the case with all these that the active pursuit of study 
only ended with life? 

But, to pass over these sublime studies, I can name some rustic 
Romans from the Sabine district, neighbours and friends of my own, 
without whose presence farm work of importance is scarcely ever 
performed — whether sowing, or harvesting or storing crops. And 
yet in other things this is less surprising; for no one is so old as to 
think that he may not live a year. But they bestow their labour on 
what they know does not affect them in any case: 

He plants his trees to serve a race to come, 

as our poet Statins says in his Comrades. Nor indeed would a 
farmer, however old, hesitate to answer any one who asked him for 


whom he was planting: "For the immortal gods, whose will it was 
that I should not merely receive these things from my ancestors, 
but should also hand them on to the next generation." 

8. That remark about the old man is better than the following: 

If age brought nothing worse than this. 
It were enough to mar our bliss, 
That he who bides for many years 
Sees much to shun and much for tears. 

Yes, and perhaps much that gives him pleasure too. Besides, as to 
subjects for tears, he often comes uf)on them in youth as well. 
A still more questionable sentiment in the same Caecilius is: 

No greater misery can of age be told 

Than this: be sure, the young dislike the old. 

Delight in them is nearer the mark than dislike. For just as old 
men, if they are wise, take pleasure in the society of young men of 
good parts, and as old age is rendered less dreary for those who 
are courted and liked by the youth, so also do young men find 
pleasure in the maxims of the old, by which they are drawn to the 
pursuit of excellence. Nor do I perceive that you find my society 
less pleasant than I do yours. But this is enough to show you how, 
so far from being listless and sluggish, old age is even a busy time, 
always doing and attempting something, of course of the same nature 
as each man's taste had been in the previous part of his life. Nay, 
do not some even add to their stock of learning? We see Solon, for 
instance, boasting in his poems that he grows old "daily learning 
something new." Or again in my own case, it was only when an old 
man that I became acquainted with Greek literature, which in fact I 
absorbed with such avidity — in my yearning to quench, as it were, 
a long-continued thirst — that I became acquainted with the very 
facts which you see me now using as precedents. When I heard 
what Socrates had done about the lyre I should have liked for my 
part to have done that too, for the ancients used to learn the lyre, 
but, at any rate, I worked hard at literature. 

9. Nor, again, do I now miss the bodily strength of a young man 
(for that was the second point as to the disadvantages of old age) 
any more than as a young man I missed the strength of a bull or an 


elephant. You should use what you have, and whatever you may 
chance to be doing, do it with all your might. What could be weaker 
than Milo of Croion's exclamation? When in his old age he was 
watching some athletes practising in the course, he is said to have 
looked at his arms and to have exclaimed with tears in his eyes: 
"Ah, well! these are now as good as dead." Not a bit more so than 
yourself, you trifler! For at no time were you made famous by your 
real self, but by chest and biceps. Sext. itlius never gave vent to 
such a remark, nor, many years before him, Titus Coruncanius, nor, 
more recently, P. Crassus — all of them learned jurisconsults in active 
practice, whose knowledge of their profession was maintained to 
their last breath. I am afraid an orator does lose vigour by old age, 
for his art is not a matter of the intellect alone, but of lungs and 
bodily strength. Though as a rule that musical ring in the voice 
even gains in brilliance in a certain way as one grows old — certainly 
I have not yet lost it, and you see my years. Yet after all the style of 
speech suitable to an old man is the quiet and unemotional, and it 
often happens that the chastened and calm delivery of an old man 
eloquent secures a hearing. If you cannot attain to that yourself, 
you might still instruct a Scipio and a Laclius. For what is more 
charming than old age surrounded by the enthusiasm of youth? 
Shall we not allow old age even the strength to teach the young, to 
train and equip them for all the duties of life? And what can be a 
nobler employment? For my part, I used to think Publius and 
Gn£Eus Scipio and your two grandfathers, L. ^Emilius and P. 
Africanus, fortunate men when I saw them with a company of young 
nobles about them. Nor should we think any teachers of the fine 
arts otherwise than happy, however much their bodily forces may 
have decayed and failed. And yet that same failure of the bodily 
forces is more often brought about by the vices of youth than of 
old age; for a dissolute and intemperate youth hands down the body 
to old age in a worn-out state. Xcnophon's Cyrus, for instance, in 
his discourse deUvered on his death-bed and at a very advanced age, 
says that he never perceived his old age to have become weaker than 
his youth had been. I remember as a boy Lucius Metellus, who, 
having been created Pontifex Maximus four years after his second 
consulship, held that office twenty-two years, enjoying such excellent 


Strength of body in the very last hours of his life as not to miss his 
youth. I need not speak of myself; though that indeed is an old 
man's way and is generally allowed to my time of life. Don't you 
see in Homer how frequently Nestor talks of his own good qualities ? 
For he was living through a third generation; nor had he any reason 
to fear that upon saying what was true about himself he should 
appear either over vain or talkative. For, as Homer says, "from his 
lips flowed discourse sweeter than honey," for which sweet breath 
he wanted no bodily strength. And yet, after all, the famous leader 
of the Greeks nowhere wishes to have ten men like Ajax, but like 
Nestor: if he could get them, he feels no doubt of Troy shortly 

10. But to return to my own case: I am in my eighty-fourth year. 
I could wish that I had been able to make the same boast as Cyrus; 
but, after all, I can say this: I am not indeed as vigorous as I was as 
a private soldier in the Punic war, or as quscstor in the same war, 
or as consul in Spain, and four years later when as a military tribune 
I took part in the engagement at Thermopyla: under the consul 
Manius Acilius Glabrio; but yet, as you see, old age has not entirely 
destroyed my muscles, has not quite brought me to the ground. The 
Senate-house does not find all my vigour gone, nor the rostra, nor 
my friends, nor my clients, nor my foreign guests. For I have never 
given in to that ancient and much-praised proverb: 

Old when young 
Is old for long. 

For myself, I had rather be an old man a somewhat shorter time 
than an old man before my time. Accordingly, no one up to the 
present has wished to see me, to whom I have been denied as 
engaged. But, it may be said, I have less strength than either of you. 
Neither have you the strength of the centurion T. Pontius: is he 
the more eminent man on that account? Let there be only a proper 
husbanding of strength, and let each man proportion his efforts to 
his powers. Such an one will assuredly not be possessed with any 
great regret for his loss of strength. At Olympia Milo is said to 
have stepped into the course carrying a live ox on his shoulders. 
Which then of the two would you prefer to have given to you — 


bodily strength like that, or intellectual strength like that of Py- 
thagoras? In fine, enjoy that blessing when you have it; when it is 
gone, don't wish it back — unless we are to think that young men 
should wish their childhood back, and those somewhat older their 
youth! The course of life is fixed, and nature admits of its being 
run but in one way, and only once; and to each part of our life there 
is something specially seasonable; so that the feebleness of children, 
as well as the high spirit of youth, the soberness of maturer years, 
and the ripe wisdom of old age — all have a certain natural advantage 
which should be secured in its prop)er season. I think you are in- 
formed, Scipio, what your grandfather's foreign friend Masinissa 
does to this day, though ninety years old. When he has once begun 
a journey on foot he does not mount his horse at all; when on 
horseback he never gets off his horse. By no rain or cold can he be 
induced to cover his head. His body is absolutely free from unhealthy 
humours, and so he still performs all the duties and functions of a 
king. Active exercise, therefore, and temperance can preserve some 
part of one's former strength even in old age. 

II. Bodily strength is wanting to old age; but neither is bodily 
strength demanded from old men. Therefore, both by law and 
custom, men of my time of life are exempt from those duties which 
cannot be supported without bodily strength. Accordingly not only 
are we not forced to do what we cannot do; we are not even obliged 
to do as much as we can. But, it will be said, many old men are so 
feeble that they cannot perform any duty in life of any sort or kind. 
That is not a weakness to be set down as peculiar to old age: i't 
is one shared by ill health. How feeble was the son of P. Africanus, 
who adopted you! What weak health he had, or rather no health 
at all! If that had not been the case, we should have had in him a 
second brilliant light in the fx)litical horizon; for he had added a 
wider cultivation to his father's greatness of spirit. What wonder 
then, that old men are eventually feeble, when even young men 
cannot escape it? My dear Larlius and Scipio, we must stand up 
against old age and make up for its drawbacks by taking pains. We 
must fight it as we should an illness. We must look after our 
health, use moderate exercise, take just enough food and drink to 
recruit, but not to overload, our strength. Nor is it the body alone 


that must be supported, but the intellect and soul much more. For 
they are like lamps: unless you feed them with oil, they too go out 
from old age. Again, the body is apt to get gross from exercise; 
but the intellect becomes nimbler by exercising itself. For what 
Caecilius means by "old dotards of the comic stage" are the credulous, 
the forgetful, and the slipshod. These are faults that do not attach 
to old age as such, but to a sluggish, spiritless, and sleepy old age. 
Young men are more frequently wanton and dissolute than old 
men; but yet, as it is not all young men that are so, but the bad set 
among them, even so senile folly — usually called imbecility — applies 
to old men of unsound character, not to all. Appius governed four 
sturdy sons, five daughters, that great establishment, and all those 
cUents, though he was both old and blind. For he kept his mind 
at full stretch like a bow, and never gave in to old age by growing 
slack. He maintained not merely an influence but an absolute com- 
mand over his family: his slaves feared him, his sons were in awe 
of him, all loved him. In that family, indeed, ancestral custom and 
discipline were in full vigour. The fact is that old age is respectable 
just as long as it asserts itself, maintains its proper rights, and is 
not enslaved to any one. For as I admire a young man who has 
something of the old man in him, so do I an old one who has 
something of a young man. The man who aims at this may possibly 
become old in body — in mind he never will. I am now engaged in 
composing the seventh book of my Origins. I collect all the records 
of antiquity. The speeches delivered in all the celebrated cases which 
I have defended I am at this particular time getting into shape for 
publication. I am writing treatises on augural, pontifical, and civil 
law. I am, besides, studying hard at Greek, and after the manner of 
the Pythagoreans — to keep my memory in working order — I repeat 
in the evening whatever I have said, heard, or done in the course 
of each day. These are the exercises of the intellect, these the training- 
grounds of the mind: while I sweat and labour on these I don't 
much feel the loss of bodily strength. I appear in court for my 
friends; I frequently attend the Senate and bring motions before 
it on my own responsibility, prepared after deep and long reflection. 
And these I support by my intellectual, nbt my bodily forces. And 
if I were not strong enough to do these things, yet I should enjoy 


my sofa — imagining the very operations which I was now unable 
to perform. But what makes me capable of doing this is my past 
life. For a man who is always living in the midst of these studies 
and labours does not perceive when old age creeps upon him. Thus, 
by slow and imperceptible degrees life draws to its end. There is 
no sudden breakage; it just slowly goes out. 

12. The third charge against old age is that it lacks sensual 
PLEASURES. What a splendid service does old age render, if it takes 
from us the greatest blot of youth! Listen, my dear young friends, 
to a speech of Archytas of Tarentum, among the greatest and most 
illustrious of men, which was put into my hands when as a young 
man I was at Tarentum with Q. Maximus. "No more deadly curse 
than sensual pleasure has been inflicted on mankind by nature, to 
gratify which our wanton appetites are roused beyond all prudence 
or restraint. It is a fruitful source of treasons, revolutions, secret 
communications with the enemy. In fact, there is no crime, no evil 
deed, to which the appetite for sensual pleasures does not impel us. 
Fornications and adulteries, and every abomination of that kind, are 
brought about by the enticements of pleasure and by them alone. 
Intellect is the best gift of nature or God: to this divine gift and 
endowment there is nothing so inimical as pleasure. For when 
appetite is our master, there is no place for self<ontrol; nor where 
pleasure reigns supreme can virtue hold its ground. To see this 
more vividly, imagine a man excited to the highest conceivable pitch 
of sensual pleasure. It can be doubtful to no one that such a person, 
so long as he is under the influence of such excitation of the senses, 
will be unable to use to any purpose either intellect, reason, or 
thought. Therefore nothing can be so execrable and so fatal as 
pleasure; since, when more than ordinarily violent and lasting, it 
darkens all the light of the soul." 

These were the words addressed by Archytas to the Samnite Gaius 
Pontius, father of the man by whom the consuls Spurius Postumius 
and Titus Veturius were beaten in the battle of Caudium. My friend 
Nearchus of Tarentum, who had remained loyal to Rome, told me 
that he had heard them repeated by some old men; and that Plato 
the Athenian was present, who visited Tarentum, I find, in the 
consulship of L. Camillus and Appius Claudius. 


What is the point of all this? It is to show you that, if we were 
unable to scorn pleasure by the aid of reason and philosophy, we 
ought to have been very grateful to old age for depriving us of all 
inclination for that which it was wrong to do. For pleasure hinders 
thought, is a foe to reason, and, so to speak, blinds the eyes of the 
mind. It is, moreover, entirely alien to virtue. I was sorry to have 
to expel Lucius, brother of the gallant Titus Flamininus, from the 
Senate seven years after his consulship; but I thought it imperative 
to affix a stigma on an act of gross sensuality. For when he was in 
Gaul as consul, he had yielded to the entreaties of his paramour at 
a dinner-party to behead a man who happened to be in prison 
condemned on a capital charge. When his brother Titus was Censor, 
who preceded me, he escaped; but I and Flaccus could not counte- 
nance an act of such criminal and abandoned lust, especially as, 
besides the personal dishonour, it brought disgrace on the Govern- 

13. I have often been told by men older than myself, who said 
that they had heard it as boys from old men, that Gains Fabricius 
was in the habit of expressing astonishment at having heard, when 
envoy at the headquarters of King Pyrrhus, from the Thessalian 
Cineas, that there was a man of Athens who professed to be a 
"philosopher," and affirmed that everything we did was to be referred 
to pleasure. When he told this to Manius Curius and Publius Decius, 
they used to remark that they wished that the Samnites and Pyrrhus 
himself would hold the same opinion. It would be much easier to 
conquer them, if they had once given themselves over to sensual 
indulgences. Manius Curius had been intimate with P. Decius, who 
four years before the former's consulship had devoted himself to 
death for the Republic. Both Fabricius and Coruncanius knew him 
also, and from the experience of their own lives, as well as from 
the action of P. Decius, they were of opinion that there did exist 
something intrinsically noble and great, which was sought for its 
own sake, and at which all the best men aimed, to the contempt and 
neglect of pleasure. Why then do I sf)end so many words on the 
subject of pleasure? Why, because, far from being a charge against 
old age, that it does not much feel the want of any pleasures, it is 
its highest praise. 


But, you will say, it is deprived of the pleasures of the table, the 
heaped-up board, the rapid passing of the wine<up. Well, then, it 
is also free from headache, disordered digestion, broken sleep. But 
if we must grant pleasure something, since we do not find it easy to 
resist its charms, — for Plato, with happy inspiration, calls pleasure 
"vice's bait," because of course men are caught by it as fish by a 
hook, — yet, although old age has to abstain from extravagant ban- 
quets, it is still capable of enjoying modest festivities. As a boy I 
often used to see (iaius Duilius, the son of Marcus, then an old 
man, returning from a dinner-party. He thoroughly enjoyed the 
frequent use of torch and flute-player, distinctions which he had 
assumed though unprecedented in the case of a private person. It 
was the privilege of his glory. But why mention others? I will 
come back to my own case. To begin with, I have always remained a 
member of a "club" — clubs, you know, were established in my 
quscstorship on the reception of the Magna Mater from Ida. So 
I used to dine at their feast with the members of my club — on the 
whole with moderation, though there was a certain warmth of 
temperament natural to my time of life; but as that advances there 
is a daily decrease of all excitement. Nor was I, in fact, ever wont to 
measure my enjoyment even of these banquets by the physical 
pleasures they gave more than by the gathering and conversation 
of friends. For it was a good idea of our ancestors to style the 
presence of guests at a dinner-table — seeing that it implied a com- 
munity of enjoyment — a convivium, "a living together." It is a 
better term than the Greek words which mean "a drinking together" 
or "an eating together." For they would seem to give the prefer- 
ence to what is really the least important part of it. 

14. For myself, owing to the pleasure I take in conversation, I 
enjoy even banquets that begin early in the afternoon, and not only 
in company with my contemporaries — of whom very few survive — 
but also with men of your age and with yourselves. I am thankful 
to old age, which has increased my avidity for conversation, while it 
has removed that for eating and drinking. But if any one does enjoy 
these — not to seem to have proclaimed war against all pleasure 
without exception, which is perhaps a feeling inspired by nature — 
I fail to perceive even in these very pleasiues that old age is entirely 


without the power of appreciation. For myself, I take deUght even in 
the old-fashioned appointment of master of the feast; and in the 
arrangement of the conversation, which according to ancestral 
custom is begun from the last place on the left-hand couch when 
the wine is brought in; as also in the cups which, as in Xenophon's 
banquet, are small and filled by driblets; and in the contrivance for 
cooling in summer, and for warming by the winter sun or winter 
fire. These things I keep up even among my Sabine countrymen, 
and every day have a full dinner-party of neighbours, which we 
prolong as far into the night as we can with varied conversation. 

But you may urge — there is not the same tingling sensation of 
pleasure in old men. No doubt; but neither do they miss it so much. 
For nothing gives you uneasiness which you do not miss. That was 
a fine answer of Sophocles to a man who asked him, when in 
extreme old age, whether he was still a lover. "Heaven forbid!" he 
replied; "I was only too glad to escape from that, as though from a 
boorish and insane master." To men indeed who are keen after such 
things it may possibly appear disagreeable and uncomfortable to be 
without them; but to jaded appetites it is pleasanter to lack than to 
enjoy. However, he cannot be said to lack who does not want: my 
contention is that not to want is the pleasanter thing. 

But even granting that youth enjoys these pleasures with more 
zest; in the first place, they are insignificant things to enjoy, as I 
have said; and in the second place, such as age is not entirely without, 
if it does not possess them in profusion. Just as a man gets greater 
pleasure from Ambivius Turpio if seated in the front row at the 
theatre than if he was in the last, yet, after all, the man in the last 
row does get pleasure; so youth, because it looks at pleasures at 
closer quarters, perhaps enjoys itself more, yet even old age, looking 
at them from a distance, does enjoy itself well enough. Why, what 
blessings are these — that the soul, having served its time, so to speak, 
in the campaigns of desire and ambition, rivalry and hatred, and 
all the passions, should live in its own thoughts, and, as the expres- 
sion goes, should dwell apart! Indeed, if it has in store any of what 
I may call the food of study and philosophy, nothing can be 
pleasanter than an old age of leisure. We were witnesses to C. Gallus 
— a friend of your father's, Scipio — intent to the day of his death on 


mapping out the sky and land. How often did the light surprise 
him while still working out a problem begun during the night! 
How often did night find him busy on what he had begun at dawn! 
How he delighted in predicting for us solar and lunar eclipses long 
before they occurred! Or again in studies of a lighter nature, though 
still requiring keenness of intellect, what pleasure Naevius took in 
his Punic War! Plautus in his Truculentus and Pseudolus! I even 
saw Livius Andronicus, who, having produced a play six years 
before I was born — in the consulship of Cento and Tuditanus — lived 
till I had become a young man. Why speak of Pubhus Licinius 
Crassus's devotion to pontifical and civil law, or of the Publius 
Scipio of the present time, who within these last few days has been 
created Pontifex Maximus? And yet I have seen all whom I have 
mentioned ardent in these pursuits when old men. Then there is 
Marcus Cethegus, whom Ennius justly called "Persuasion's Marrow" 
— with what enthusiasm did we see him exert himself in oratory 
even when quite old! What pleasures are there in feasts, games, or 
mistresses comparable to pleasures such as these? And they are all 
tastes, too, connected with learning, which in men of sense and good 
education grow with their growth. It is indeed an honourable senti- 
ment which Solon expresses in a verse which I have quoted before — 
that he grew old learning many a fresh lesson every day. Than that 
intellectual pleasure none certainly can be greater. 

15. I come now to the pleasures of the farmer, in which I take 
amazing delight. These are not hindered by any extent of old age, 
and seem to me to approach nearest to the ideal wise man's life. For 
he has to deal with the earth, which never refuses its obedience, nor 
ever returns what it has received without usury; sometimes, indeed, 
with less, but generally with greater interest. For my part, however, 
it is not merely the thing produced, but the earth's own force and 
natural productiveness that delight me. For having received in its 
bosom the seed scattered broadcast upon it, softened and broken up, 
she first keeps it concealed therein (hence the harrowing which 
accomplishes this gets its name from a word meaning "to hide") ; 
next, when it has been warmed by her heat and close pressure, she 
splits it open and draws from it the greenery of the blade. This, 
supported by the fibres of the root, little by little grows up, and held 


upright by its jointed stalk is enclosed in sheaths, as being still im- 
mature. When it has emerged from them it produces an ear of 
corn arranged in order, and is defended against the pecking of the 
smaller birds by a regular palisade of spikes. 

Need I mention the starting, planting, and growth of vines? I 
can never have too much of this pleasure — to let you into the secret 
of what gives my old age ref)ose and amusement. For I say nothing 
here of the natural force which all things propagated from the earth 
possess — the earth which from that tiny grain in a fig, or the grape- 
stone in a grape, or the most minute seeds of the other cereals and 
plants, produces such huge trunks and boughs. Mallet-shoots, slips, 
cuttings, quicksets, layers — are they not enough to fill any one with 
delight and astonishment? The vine by nature is apt to fall, and 
unless supported drops down to the earth; yet in order to keep 
itself upright it embraces whatever it reaches with its tendrils as 
though they were hands. Then as it creeps on, spreading itself in 
intricate and wild profusion, the dresser's art prunes it with the 
knife and prevents it growing a forest of shoots and expanding to 
excess in every direction. Accordingly at the beginning of spring in 
the shoots which have been left there protrudes at each of the joints 
what is termed an "eye." From this the grape emerges and shows 
itself; which, swollen by the juice of the earth and the heat of the 
sun, is at first very bitter to the taste, but afterwards grows sweet as 
it matures; and being covered with tendrils is never without a 
moderate warmth, and yet is able to ward off the fiery heat of the 
sun. Can anything be richer in product or more beautiful to con- 
template? It is not its utility only, as I said before, that charms me, 
but the method of its cultivation and the natural process of its 
growth: the rows of uprights, the cross-pieces for the tops of the 
plants, the tying up of the vines and their propagation by layers, the 
pruning, to which I have already referred, of some shoots, the setting 
of others. I need hardly mention irrigation, or trenching and digging 
the soil, which much increase its fertility. As to the advantages of 
manuring I have spoken in my book on agriculture. The learned 
Hesiod did not say a single word on this subject, though he was 
writing on the cultivation of the soil; yet Homer, who in my opinion 
was many generations earlier, represents Laertes as softening his 


regret for his son by cultivating and manuring his farm. Nor is it 
only in cornfields and meadows and vineyards and plantations that 
a farmer's life is made cheerful. There are the garden and the 
orchard, the feeding of sheep, the swarms of bees, endless varieties 
of flowers. Nor is it only planting out that charms: there is also 
grafting — surely the most ingenious invention ever made by hus- 

16. I might continue my list of the delights of country life; but 
even what I have said I think is somewhat overlong. However, you 
must pardon me; for farming is a very favourite hobby of mine, 
and old age is naturally rather garrulous — for I would not be thought 
to acquit it of all faults. 

Well, it was in a life of this sort that Manius Curius, after celebrat- 
ing triumphs over the Samnites, the Sabines, and Pyrrhus, spent his 
last days. When I look at his villa — for it is not far from my own — 
1 never can enough admire the man's own frugality or the spirit 
of the age. As Curius was sitting at his hearth the Samnites, who 
brought him a large sum of gold, were repulsed by him; for it was 
not, he said, a fine thing in his eyes to possess gold, but to rule those 
who possessed it. Could such a high spirit fail to make old age 
pleasant ? 

But to return to farmers — not to wander from my own metier. 
In those days there were senators, i^., old men, on their farms. For 
L. Quinctius Cincinnatus was actually at the plough when word 
was brought him that he had been named Dictator. It was by his 
order as Dictator, by the way, that C. Servilius Ahala, the Master 
of the Horse, seized and put to death Spurius Mxlius when attempt- 
ing to obtain royal power. Curius as well as other old men used 
to receive their summonses to attend the Senate in their farm-houses, 
from which circumstances the summoners were called viatores or 
"travellers." Was these men's old age an object of pity who found 
their pleasure in the cultivation of the land? In my opinion, scarcely 
any life can be more blessed, not alone from its utility (for agricul- 
ture is beneficial to the whole human race), but also as much from 
the mere pleasure of the thing, to which I have already alluded, 
and from the rich abundance and supply of all things necessary for 
the food of man and for the worship of the gods above. So, as these 


are objects of desire to certain people, let us make our peace with 
pleasure. For the good and hard-working farmer's wine<ellar and 
oil-store, as well as his larder, are always well filled, and his whole 
farm-house is richly furnished. It abounds in pigs, goats, lambs, 
fowls, milk, cheese, and honey. Then there is the garden, which the 
farmers themselves call their "second flitch." A 3wst and flavour is 
added to all these by hunting and fowling in spare hours. Need I 
mention the greenery of meadows, the rows of trees, the beauty of 
vineyard and olive-grove? I will put it briefly: nothing can either 
furnish necessaries more richly, or present a fairer spectacle, than 
well<ultivated land. And to the enjoyment of that, old age does not 
merely present no hindrance — it actually invites and allures to it. 
For where else can it better warm itself, either by basking in the 
sun or by sitting by the fire, or at the prof)er time cool itself more 
wholesomely by the help of shade or water? Let the young keep 
their arms then to themselves, their horses, spears, their foils and 
ball, their swimming-baths and running-path. To us old men let 
them, out of the many forms of sport, leave dice and counters; but 
even that as they choose, since old age can be quite happy without 

17. Xenophon's books are very useful for many purposes. Pray 
go on reading them with attention, as you have ever done. In what 
ample terms is agriculture lauded by him in the book about husband- 
ing one's property, which is called CEconomicus! But to show you 
that he thought nothing so worthy of a prince as the taste for cultivat- 
ing the soil, I will translate what Socrates says to Critobulus in that 

"When that most gallant Lacedaemonian, Lysander, came to visit 
the Persian prince Cyrus at Sardis, so eminent for his character and 
the glory of his rule, bringing him presents from his allies, he treated 
Lysander in all ways with courteous familiarity and kindness, and, 
among other things, took him to see a certain park carefully planted. 
Lysander expressed admiration of the height of the trees and the 
exact arrangement of their rows in the quincunx, the careful cultiva- 
tion of the soil, its freedom from weeds, and the sweetness of the 
odours exhaled from the flowers, and went on to say that what he 
admired was not the industry only, but also the skill of the man by 


whom this had been planned and laid out. Cyrus replied: 'Well, 
it was I who planned the whole thing; these rows are my doing, the 
laying out is all mine; many of the trees were even planted by my 
own hand.' Then Lysander, looking at his purple robe, the brilliance 
of his person, and his adornment Persian fashion with gold and many 
jewels, said: 'People are quite right, Cyrus, to call you happy, since 
the advantages of high fortune have been joined to an excellence like 
yours.' " 

This kind of good fortune, then, it is in the power of old men to 
enjoy; nor is age any bar to our maintaining pursuits of every other 
kind, and especially of agriculture, to the very extreme verge of 
old age. For instance, we have it on record that M. Valerius Corvus 
kept it up to his hundredth year, living on his land and cultivating 
it after his active career was over, though between his first and sixth 
consulships there was an interval of six and forty years. So that he 
had an official career lasting the number of years which our ances- 
tors defined as coming between birth and the beginning of old age. 
Moreover, that last period of his old age was more blessed than that 
of his middle life, inasmuch as he had greater influence and less 
labour. For the crowning grace of old age is influence. 

How great was that of L. C^cilius Metellus! How great that of 
Atilius Calatinus, over whom the famous epitaph was placed, "Very 
many classes agree in deeming this to have been the very first man 
of the nation"! The line cut on his tomb is well known. It is 
natural, then, that a man should have had influence, in whose praise 
the verdict of history is unanimous. Again, in recent times, what 
a great man was Publius Crassus, Pontifex Maximus, and his suc- 
cessor in the same office, M. Lepidus! I need scarcely mention 
Paulus or Africanus, or, as I did before, Maximus. It was not only 
their senatorial utterances that had weight : their least gesture had it 
also. In fact, old age, especially when it has enjoyed honours, has 
an influence worth all the pleasures of youth put together. 

18. But throughout my discourse remember that my panegyric 
applies to an old age that has been established on foundations laid 
by youth. From which may be deduced what I once said with 
universal applause, that it was a wretched old age that had to defend 
itself by speech. Neither white hairs nor wrinkles can at once claim 


influence in themselves: it is the honourable conduct of earlier days 
that is rewarded by possessing influence at the last. Even things 
generally regarded as trifling and matters of course — being saluted, 
being courted, having way made for one, people rising when one 
approaches, being escorted to and from the forum, being referred to 
for advice — all these are marks of respect, observed among us and 
in other States — always most sedulously where the moral tone is 
highest. They say that Lysander the Spartan, whom I have men- 
tioned before, used to remark that Sparta was the most dignified 
home for old age; for that nowhere was more respect paid to years, 
nowhere was old age held in higher honour. Nay, the story is told 
of how when a man of advanced years came into the theatre at 
Athens when the games were going on, no place was given him 
anywhere in that large assembly by his own countrymen; but when 
he came near the Lacedaemonians, who as ambassadors had a fixed 
place assigned to them, they rose as one man out of respect for him, 
and gave the veteran a seat. When they were greeted with rounds 
of applause from the whole audience, one of them remarked: "The 
Athenians know what is right, but will not do it." 

There are many excellent rules in our augural college, but among 
the best is one which affects our subject — that precedence in speech 
goes by seniority; and augurs who are older are preferred not only 
to those who have held higher office, but even to those who are 
actually in possession of imperium. What then are the physical 
pleasures to be compared with the reward of influence? Those 
who have employed it with distinction appear to me to have played 
the drama of life to its end, and not to have broken down in the last 
act hke unpractised players. 

But, it will be said, old men are fretful, fidgety, ill-tempered, and 
disagreeable. If you come to that, they are also avaricious. But these 
are faults of character, not of the time of life. And, after all, fret- 
fulness and the other faults I mentioned admit of some excuse — not, 
indeed, a complete one, but one that may possibly pass muster: 
they think themselves neglected, looked down upon, mocked. Be- 
sides, with bodily weakness every rub is a source of pain. Yet all 
these faults are softened both by good character and good education. 


Illustrations of this may be found in real life, as also on the stage 
in the case of the brothers in the Adelphi. What harshness in the 
one, what gracious manners in the other! The fact is that, just as it 
is not every wine, so it is not every life, that turns sour from 
keeping. Serious gravity I approve of in old age, but, as in other 
things, it must be within due limits: bitterness I can in no case 
approve. What the object of senile avarice may be I cannot con- 
ceive. For can there be anything more absurd than to seek more 
journey money, the less there remains of the journey? 

19. There remains the fourth reason, which more than anything 
else appears to torment men of my age and keep them in a flutter 
—THE NEARNESS OF DEATH, which, it must be allowed, cannot be 
far from an old man. But what a poor dotard must he be who 
has not learnt in the course of so long a life that death is not a 
thing to be feared? Death, that is either to be totally disregarded, 
if it entirely extinguishes the soul, or is even to be desired, if it 
brings him where he is to exist forever. A third alternative, at any 
rate, cannot possibly be discovered. Why then should I be afraid if 
I am destined either not to be miserable after death or even to be 
happy? After all, who is such a fool as to feel certain — however 
young he may be — that he will be alive in the evening? Nay, that 
time of life has many more chances of death than ours. Young men 
more easily contract diseases; their illnesses are more serious; their 
treatment has to be more severe. Accordingly, only a few arrive 
at old age. If that were not so, life would be conducted better and 
more wisely; for it is in old men that thought, reason, and prudence 
are to be found; and if there had been no old men, States would 
never have existed at all. But I return to the subject of the imminence 
of death. What sort of charge is this against old age, when you see 
that it is shared by youth? I had reason in the case of my excellent 
son — as you had, Scipio, in that of your brothers, who were expected 
to attain the highest honours — to realise that death is common to 
every time of life. Yes, you will say; but a young man expects to 
live long; an old man cannot expect to do so. Well, he is a fool 
to expect it. For what can be more foolish than to regard the 
uncertain as certain, the false as true? "An old man has nothing 


even to hope." Ah, but it is just there that he is in a better position 
than a young man, since what the latter only hopes he has obtained. 
The one wishes to live long; the other has lived long. 

And yet, good heavens! what is "long" in a man's life.? For grant 
the utmost limit: let us expect an age hke that of the King of the 
Tartessi. For there was, as I find recorded, a certain Agathonius at 
Gades who reigned eighty years and lived a hundred and twenty. 
But to my mind nothing seems even long in which there is any 
"last," for when that arrives, then all the past has slipped away — 
only that remains to which you have attained by virtue and righteous 
actions. Hours indeed, and days and months and years depart, nor 
does past time ever return, nor can the future be known. Whatever 
time each is granted for life, with that he is bound to be content. 
An actor, in order to earn approval, is not bound to perform the play 
from beginning to end; let him only satisfy the audience in whatever 
act he apjjears. Nor need a wise man go on to the concluding 
"plaudite." For a short term of life is long enough for living well 
and honourably. But if you go farther, you have no more right 
to grumble than farmers do because the charm of the spring season 
is past and the simimer and autumn have come. For the word 
"spring" in a way suggests youth, and points to the harvest to be: 
the other seasons are suited for the reaping and storing of the crops. 
Now the harvest of old age is, as I have often said, the memory and 
rich store of blessings laid up in earlier life. Again, all things that 
accord with nature are to be counted as good. But what can be 
more in accordance with Nature than for old men to die ? A thing, 
indeed, which also befalls young men, though Nature revolts and 
fights against it. Accordingly, the death of young men seems to me 
like putting out a great fire with a deluge of water; but old men die 
like a fire going out because it has burnt down of its own nature 
without artificial means. Again, just as apples when unripe are 
torn from trees, but when ripe and mellow drop down, so it is 
violence that takes life from young men, ripeness from old. This 
ripeness is so delightful to me that, as I approach nearer to death, 
I seem, as it were, to be sighting land, and to be coming to port at 
last after a long voyage. 

20. Again, there is no fixed border-line for old age, and you are 


making a good and proper use of it as long as you can satisfy the 
call of duty and disregard death. The result of this is, that old age 
is even more confident and courageous than youth. That is the 
meaning of Solon's answer to the tyrant Pisistratus. When the 
latter asked him what he relied upon in opposing him with such 
boldness, he is said to have replied, "On my old age." But that end 
of life is the best when, without the intellect or senses being impaired, 
Nature herself takes to pieces her own handiwork which she also 
put together. Just as the builder of a ship or a house can break 
them up more easily than any one else, so the Nature that knit 
together the human frame can also best unfasten it. Moreover, a 
thing freshly glued together is always difficult to pull asunder; if 
old, this is easily done. 

The result is that the short time of life left to them is not to be 
grasped at by old men with greedy eagerness, or abandoned without 
cause. Pythagoras forbids us, without an order from oiu- commander, 
that is God, to desert life's fortress and outpost. Solon's epitaph, 
indeed, is that of a wise man, in which he says that he does not wish 
his death to be unaccompanied by the sorrow and lamentations of 
his friends. He wants, I suppose, to be beloved by them. But I 
rather think Ennius says better: 

None grace me with their tears, nor weeping loud 
Make sad my funeral rites! 

He holds that a death is not a subject for mourning when it is 
followed by immortality. 

Again, there may possibly be some sensation of dying — and that 
only for a short time, especially in the case of an old man: after 
death, indeed, sensation is either what one would desire, or it 
disappears altogether. But to disregard death is a lesson which must 
be studied from our youth up; for unless that is learnt, no one can 
have a quiet mind. For die we certainly must, and that too without 
being certain whether it may not be this very day. As death, there- 
fore, is hanging over our head every hour, how can a man ever be 
unshaken in soul if he fears it ? 

But on this theme I don't think I need much enlarge: when I 
remember what Lucius Brutus did, who was killed while defending 


his country; or the two Decii, who spurred their horses to a gallop 
and met a voluntary death; or M. Atilius Regulus, who left his home 
to confront a death of torture, rather than break the word which he 
had pledged to the enemy; or the two Scipios, who determined to 
block the Carthaginian advance even with their own bodies; or your 
grandfather Lucius Paulus, who paid with his life for the rashness 
of his colleague in the disgrace at Cannx; or M. Marcellus, whose 
death not even the most bloodthirsty of enemies would allow to go 
without the honour of burial. It is enough to recall that our legions 
(as I have recorded in my Origins) have often marched with cheerful 
and lofty spirit to ground from which they believed that they would 
never return. That, therefore, which young men — not only unin- 
structed, but absolutely ignorant — treat as of no account, shall men 
who are neither young nor ignorant shrink from in terror? As a 
general truth, as it seems to me, it is weariness of all pursuits that 
creates weariness of life. There are certain pursuits adapted to child- 
hood: do young men miss them? There are others suited to early 
manhood: does that settled time of life called "middle age" ask for 
them ? There are others, again, suited to that age, but not looked for 
in old age. There are, finally, some which belong to old age. There- 
fore, as the pursuits of the earlier ages have their time for disappear- 
ing, so also have those of old age. And when that takes place, a 
satiety of life brings on the ripe time for death. 

21. For I do not see why I should not venture to tell you my 
personal opinion as to death, of which I seem to myself to have a 
clearer vision in proportion as I am nearer to it. I believe, Scipio 
and Laelius, that your fathers — those illustrious men and my dearest 
friends — are still alive, and that too with a life which alone deserves 
the name. For as long as we are imprisoned in this framework of the 
body, we perform a certain function and laborious work assigned 
us by fate. The soul, in fact, is of heavenly origin, forced down from 
its home in the highest, and, so to speak, buried in earth, a place 
quite opposed to its divine nature and its immortality. But I suppose 
the immortal gods to have sown souls broadcast in human bodies, 
that there might be some to survey the world, and while contemplat- 
ing the order of the heavenly bodies to imitate it in the unvarying 
regularity of their life. Nor is it only reason and arguments that 


have brought me to this belief, but the great fame and authority 
of the most distinguished philosophers. 1 used to be told that Py- 
thagoras and the Pythagoreans — almost natives of our country, who 
in old times had been called the Italian school of philosophers — 
never doubted that we had souls drafted from the universal Divine 
intelligence. I used besides to have pointed out to me the discourse 
delivered by Socrates on the last day of his life upon the immortality 
of the soul — Socrates, who was pronounced by the oracle at Delphi 
to be the wisest of men. I need say no more. I have convinced 
myself, and I hold — in view of the rapid movement of the soul, its 
vivid memory of the past and its prophetic knowledge of the future, 
its many accomplishments, its vast range of knowledge, its numerous 
discoveries — that a nature embracing such varied gifts cannot itself 
be mortal. And since the soul is always in motion and yet has no 
external source of motion, for it is self-moved, I conclude that it 
will also have no end to its motion, because it is not likely ever to 
abandon itself. Again, since the nature of the soul is not composite, 
nor has in it any admixture that is not homogeneous and similar, I 
conclude that it is indivisible, and, if indivisible, that it cannot perish. 
It is again a strong proof of men knowing most things before birth, 
that when mere children they grasp innumerable facts with such 
speed as to show that they are not then taking them in for the first 
time, but remembering and recalling them. This is roughly Plato's 

22. Once more in Xenophon we have the elder Cyrus on his 
deathbed speaking as follows: 

"Do not suppose, my dearest sons, that when I have left you I 
shall be nowhere and no one. Even when I was with you, you did 
not see my soul, but knew that it was in this body of mine from what 
I did. Believe then that it is still the same, even though you see it 
not. The honours paid to illustrious men had not continued to exist 
after their death, had the souls of these very men not done some- 
thing to make us retain our recollection of them beyond the ordinary 
time. For myself, I never could be persuaded that souls while in 
mortal bodies were alive, and died directly they left them; nor, in 
fact, that the soul only lost all intelligence when it left the unintel- 
ligent body. I believe rather that when, by being liberated from all 


corporeal admixture, it has begun to be pure and undefiled, it is 
then that it becomes wise. And again, when man's natural frame 
is resolved into its elements by death, it is clearly seen whither each 
of the other elements departs: for they all go to the place from which 
they came: but the soul alone is invisible alike when present and 
when departing. Once more, you see that nothing is so like death 
as sleep. And yet it is in sleepers that souls most clearly reveal their 
divine nature; for they foresee many events when they are allowed to 
escape and are left free. This shows what they are likely to be when 
they have completely freed themselves from the fetters of the body. 
Wherefore, if these things are so, obey me as a god. But if my soul 
is to perish with my body, nevertheless do you from awe of the gods, 
who guard and govern this fair universe, preserve my memory by 
the loyalty and piety of your lives." 

23. Such are the words of the dying Cyrus. I will now, with your 
good leave, look at home. No one, my dear Scipio, shall ever 
persuade me that your father, Paulus, and your two grandfathers, 
Paulus and Africanus, or the father of Africanus, or his uncle, or 
many other illustrious men not necessary to mention, would have 
attempted such lofty deeds as to be remembered by posterity, had 
they not seen in their minds that future ages concerned them. Do 
you suppose — to take an old man's privilege of a little self-praise — 
that I should have been likely to undertake such heavy labours by 
day and night, at home and abroad, if I had been destined to have the 
same limit to my glory as to my life? Had it not been much better 
to pass an age of ease and repose without any labour or exertion? 
But my soul, I know not how, refusing to be kept down, ever fixed 
its eyes upon future ages, as though from a conviction that it would 
begin to live only when it had left the body. But had it not been the 
case that souls were immortal, it would not have been the souls of 
all the best men that made the greatest efforts after an immortality 
of fame. 

Again, is there not the fact that the wisest man ever dies with the 
greatest cheerfulness, the most unwise with the least? Don't you 
think that the soul which has the clearer and longer sight sees that it 
is starting for better things, while the soul whose vision is dimmer 
does not see it? For my part, I am transported with the desire to 


see your fathers, who were the object of my reverence and affection. 
Nor is it only those whom 1 knew that 1 long to see; it is those also 
of whom I have been told and have read, whom I have myself 
recorded in my history. When I am setting out for that, there is 
certainly no one who will find it easy to draw me back, or boil me 
up again like second Pelios. Nay, if some god should grant me to 
renew my childhood from my present age and once more to be cry- 
ing in my cradle, I would firmly refuse; nor should I in truth be 
willing, after having, as it were, run the full course, to be recalled 
from the winning-crease to the barriers. For what blessing has life 
to offer? Should we not rather say, what labour? But granting that 
it has, at any rate it has after all a limit either to enjoyment or tb 
existence. I don't wish to depreciate life, as many men and good 
philosophers have often done; nor do I regret having lived, for I 
have done so in a way that lets me think that I was not born in vain. 
But I quit life as I would an inn, not as I would a home. For nature 
has given us a place of entertainment, not of residence. 

Oh, glorious day when I shall set out to join that heavenly conclave 
and company of souls, and depart from the turmoil and impurities 
of this world! For I shall not go to join only those whom I have 
before mentioned, but also my son Cato, than whom no better man 
was ever born, nor one more conspicuous for piety. His body was 
burnt by me, though mine ought, on the contrary, to have been 
burnt by him; but his spirit, not abandoning, but ever looking back 
ujX)n me, has certainly gone whither he saw that I too must come. 
I was thought to bear that loss heroically, not that I really bore 
it without distress, but I found my own consolation in the thought 
that the parting and separation between us was not to be for long. 

It is by these means, my dear Scipio, — for you said that you and 
Laelius were wont to express surprise on this point, — that my old 
age sits lightly on me, and is not only not oppressive but even 
delightful. But if I am wrong in thinking the human soul immortal, 
I am glad to be wrong; nor will I allow the mistake which gives me 
so much pleasure to be wrested from me as long as I live. But if 
when dead, as some insignificant philosophers think, I am to be 
without sensation, I am not afraid of dead philosophers deriding 
my errors. Again, if we are not to be immortal, it is nevertheless 


what a man must wish — to have his life end at its proper time. For 
nature puts a Umit to living as to everything else. Now, old age is, 
as it were, the playing out of the drama, the full fatigue of which 
we should shun, especially when we also feel that we have had more 
than enough of it. 

This is all I had to say on old age. I pray that you may arrive at it, 
that you may put my words to a practical test. 




The letters of Cicero are of a very varied character. They range from 
the most informal communications with members of his family to serious 
and elaborate compositions which are practically treatises in epistolary 
form. A very large proportion of them were obviously written out of the 
mood of the moment, with no thought of the possibility of publication; 
and in these the style is comparatively relaxed and colloquial. Others, 
addressed to public characters, are practically of the same nature as his 
speeches, discussions of political questions intended to influence public 
opinion, and performing a function in the Roman life of the time closely 
analogous to that fulfilled at the present day by articles in the great 
reviews, or editorials in prominent journals. 

In the case of both of these two main groups the interest is twofold: 
|)ersonal and historical, though it is naturally in the private letters that 
we find most light thrown on the character of the writer. In spite of the 
spontaneity of these episdes there exists a great difference of opinion 
among scholars as to the personality revealed by them, and both in the 
extent of the divergence of view and in the heat of the controversy we are 
reminded of modern discussions of the characters of men such as Glad- 
stone or Roosevelt. It has been fairly said that there is on the whole 
more chance of justice to Cicero from the man of the world who under- 
stands how the stress and change of politics lead a statesman into appar- 
ently inconsistent utterances than from the professional scholar who 
subjects these utterances to the severest logical scrutiny, without the 
illumination of practical experience. 

Many sides of Cicero's life other than the political are reflected in the 
letters. From them we can gather a picture of how an ambitious Roman 
gendeman of some inherited wealth took to the legal profession as the 
regular means of becoming a public figure; of how his fortune might be 
increased by fees, by legacies from friends, clients, and even complete 
strangers who thus sought to confer distinction on themselves; of how 
the governor of a province could become rich in a year; of how the sons 
of Roman men of wealth gave trouble to their tutors, were sent to Athens, 
as to a university in our day, and found an allowance of over $4,000 a 
year insufficient for their extravagances. Again, we see the greatest 
orator of Rome divorce his wife after thirty years, apparendy because she 
had been indiscreet or unscrupulous in money matters, and marry at the 
age of sixty-three his own ward, a young girl whose fortune he admitted 



was the main attraction. The coldness of temper suggested by these 
transactions is contradicted in turn by Cicero's romantic affection for his 
daughter TuUia, whom he is never tired of praising for her cleverness 
and charm, and whose death almost broke his heart. 

Most of Cicero's letters were written in ink on paper or parchment 
with a reed pen; a few on tablets of wood or ivory covered with wax, the 
marks being cut with a stylus. The earlier letters he wrote with his own 
hand, the later were, except in rare cases, dictated to a secretary. There 
was, of course, no postal service, so the episdes were carried by private 
messengers or by the couriers who were constanUy traveling between the 
provincial officials and the capital. 

Apart from the letters to Atticus, the collection, arrangement, and pub- 
lication of Cicero's correspondence seem to have been due to Tiro, the 
learned freedman who served him as secretary, and to whom some ot 
the letters are addressed. Titus Pomponius Atticus, who edited the large 
collection of the letters written to himself, was a cultivated Roman who 
lived more than twenty years in Athens for purposes of study. His zeal 
for cultivation was combined with the successful pursuit of wealth; and 
though Cicero relied on him for aid and advice in public as well as 
private matters, their friendship did not prevent Atticus from being on 
good terms with men of the opposite party. 

Generous, amiable, and cultured, Atticus was not remarkable for the 
intensity of his devotion either to principles or persons. "That he was the 
lifelong friend of Cicero," says Professor Tyrrell, "is the best tide which 
Atticus has to remembrance. As a man he was kindly, careful, and 
shrewd, but nothing more: there was never anything grand or noble in 
his character. He was the quintessence of prudent mediocrity." 

The period covered by the letters of Cicero is one of the most interest- 
ing and momentous in the history of the world, and these letters afford 
a picture of the chief personages and most important events of that age 
from the pen of a man who was not only himself in the midst of the 
conflict, but who was a consummate literary artist. 




To Atticus (at Athens) 

Rome, July, 65 B.a 

THE state of things in regard to my candidature, in which I 
know that you are supremely interested, is this, as far as can 
be as yet conjectured. The only person actually canvassing 
is P. Sulpicius Galba. He meets with a good old-fashioned refusal 
without reserve or disguise. In the general opinion this premature 
canvass of his is not unfavourable to my interests; for the voters 
generally give as a reason for their refusal that they are under 
obligations to me. So I hope my prospects are to a certain degree 
improved by the report getting about that my friends are found to 
be numerous. My intention was to begin my own canvass just at the 
very time that Cincius tells me that your servant starts with this 
letter, namely, in the campus at the time of the tribunician elections 
on the 17th of July. My fellow candidates, to mention only those 
who seem certain, are Galba and Antonius and Q. Cornificius. At 
this I imagine you smiling or sighing. Well, to make you positively 
smite your forehead, there are people who actually think that 
Cacsonius will stand. I don't think Aquilius will, for he openly 
disclaims it and has alleged as an excuse his health and his leading 
position at the bar. Catiline will certainly be a candidate, if you 
can imagine a jury finding that the sun does not shine at noon. As 
for Aufidius and Palicanus, I don't think you will expect to hear 
from me about them. Of the candidates for this year's election Cxsar 
is considered certain. Thermus is looked upon as the rival of Silanus. 
These latter are so weak both in friends and reputation that it seems 
pas impossible to bring in Curius over their heads. But no one else 



thinks so. What seems most to my interests is that Thermus should 
get in with Ca;sar. For there is none of those at present canvassing 
who, if left over to my year, seems likely to be a stronger candidate, 
from the fact that he is commissioner of the via Flaminia, and when 
that has been finished, I shall be greatly relieved to have seen him 
elected consul this election. Such in outline is the position of affairs 
in regard to candidates up to date. For myself I shall take the greatest 
pains to carry out all the duties of a candidate, and perhaps, as Gaul 
seems to have a considerable voting power, as soon as business at 
Rome has come to a standstill I shall obtain a libera legatio and make 
an excursion in the course of September to visit Piso, but so as not to 
be back later than January. When I have ascertained the feelings 
of the nobility I will write you word. Everything else I hope will go 
smoothly, at any rate while my competitors are such as are now in 
town. You must undertake to secure for me the entourage of our 
friend Pompey, since you are nearer than I. Tell him I shall not 
be annoyed if he doesn't come to my election. So much for that 
business. But there is a matter for which I am very anxious that you 
should forgive me. Your uncle Cxcilius, having been defrauded of a 
large sum of money by P. Varius, began an action against his cousin 
A. Caninius Satyrus for the profierty which (as he alleged) the latter 
had received from Varius by a collusive sale. He was joined in this 
action by the other creditors, among whom were Lucullus and P. 
Scipio, and the man who they thought would be official receiver if the 
property was put up for sale, Lucius Pontius; though it is ridiculous 
to be talking about a receiver at this stage in the proceedings. Cacci- 
lius asked me to appear for him against Satyrus. Now, scarcely a day 
passes that Satyrus does not call at my house. The chief object of his 
attentions is L. Domitius, but I am next in his regard. He has been 
of great service both to myself and to my brother Quintus in our 
elections. I was very much embarrassed by my intimacy with 
Satyrus as well as that with Domitius, on whom the success of my 
election depends more than on anyone else. I pointed out these 
facts to Qecilius; at the same time I assured him that if the case had 
been one exclusively between himself and Satyrus, 1 would have done 
what he wished. As the matter actually stood, all the creditors being 
concerned — and that two men of the highest rank, who, without the 


aid of anyone specially retained by Caecilius, would have no difficulty 
in maintaining their common cause — it was only fair that he should 
have consideration both for my private friendship and my present 
situation. He seemed to take this somewhat less courteously than 
I could have wished, or than is usual among gentlemen; and from 
that time forth he has entirely withdrawn from the intimacy with me 
which was only of a few days' standing. Pray forgive me, and believe 
that I was prevented by nothing but natural kindness from assailing 
the reputation of a friend in so vital a point at a time of such very 
great distress, considering that he had shewn me every sort of kind- 
ness and attention. But if you incline to the harsher view of my 
conduct, take it that the interests of my canvass prevented me. Yet, 
even granting that to be so, I think you should pardon me, "since not 
for sacred beast or oxhide shield." You see in fact the position I am 
in, and how necessary I regard it, not only to retain but even to 
acquire all possible sources of popularity. I hope I have justified 
myself in your eyes; I am at any rate anxious to have done so. The 
Hermathena you sent I am delighted with: it has been placed with 
such charming effect that the whole gymnasium seems arranged 
specially for it. I am exceedingly obliged to you. 


To Amcus (at Athens) 

Rome, July, 65 b.c. 

I HAVE to inform you that on the day of the election of L. lulius 
Caesar and C. Marcius Figulus to the consulship, I had an addition 
to my family in the shape of a baby boy. Terentia doing well. 

Why such a time without a letter from you? I have already 
written to you fully about my circumstances. At this present time 
I am considering whether to undertake the defence of my fellow 
candidate, Catiline. We have a jury to our minds with full consent 
of the prosecutor. I hop)e that if he is acquitted he will be more 
closely united with me in the conduct of our canvass; but if the 
result be otherwise I shall bear it with resignation. Your early 
return is of great importance to me, for there is a very strong idea 


prevailing that some intimate friends of yours, persons of high rank, 
will be opposed to my election. To win me their favour I see that 
I shall want you very much. Wherefore be sure to be in Rome in 
January, as you have agreed to be. 


To Cn. Pompeius Magnus 
Rome, 62 b.c. 

M. Tullius Cicero, son of Marcus, greets Cn. Pompeius, son of 
Cneius, Imperator. 

If you and the army are well I shall be glad. From your official 
despatch I have, in common with everyone else, received the liveliest 
satisfaction; for you have given us that strong hope of peace, of 
which, in sole reliance on you, I was assuring everyone. But I must 
inform you that your old enemies — now posing as your friends — 
have received a stunning blow by this despatch, and, being disap- 
pointed in the high hopes they were entertaining, are thoroughly 
depressed. Though your private letter to me contained a somewhat 
slight expression of your affection, yet I can assure you it gave me 
pleasure: for there is nothing in which I habitually find greater 
satisfaction than in the consciousness of serving my friends; and if 
on any occasion I do not meet with an adequate return, I am not at 
all sorry to have the balance of kindness in my favour. Of this I 
feel no doubt — even if my extraordinary zeal in your behalf has 
failed to unite you to me — that the interests of the state will certainly 
effect a mutual attachment and coalition between us. To let you 
know, however, what I missed in your letter I will write with the 
candour which my own disposition and our common friendship 
demand. I did expect some congratulation in your letter on my 
achievements, for the sake at once of the ties between us and of the 
Republic. This I presume to have been omitted by you from a fear 
of hurting anyone's feelings. But let me tell you that what I did 
for the salvation of the country is approved by the judgment and 
testimony of the whole world. You are a much greater man than 
Africanus, but I am not much inferior to Laelius either; and when 


you come home you will recognize that I have acted with such 
prudence and spirit, that you will not now be ashamed of being 
coupled with me in politics as well as in private friendship. 


To Atticus (in Epirus) 

Rome, 5 December, 61 b.c. 

Your letter, in which you inclose copies of his letters, has made me 
realize that my brother Quintus's feelings have undergone many 
alternations, and that his opinions and judgments have varied widely 
from time to time. This has not only caused me all the pain which 
my extreme affection for both of you was bound to bring, but it 
has also made me wonder what can have happened to cause my 
brother Quintus such deep offence, or such an extraordinary change 
of feeling. And yet I was already aware, as I saw that you also, 
when you took leave of me, were beginning to suspect, that there was 
some lurking dissatisfaction, that his feelings were wounded, and 
that certain unfriendly suspicions had sunk deep into his heart. On 
trying on several previous occasions, but more eagerly than ever 
after the allotment of his province, to assuage these feelings, I failed 
to discover on the one hand that the extent of his offence was so 
great as your letter indicates; but on the other I did not make as 
much progress in allaying it as I wished. However, I consoled my- 
self with thinking that there would be no doubt of his seeing you at 
Dyrrachium, or somewhere in your part of the country: and, if 
that happened, I felt sure and fully persuaded that everything would 
be made smooth between you, not only by conversation and mutual 
explanation, but by the very sight of each other in such an interview. 
For I need not say in writing to you, who know it quite well, how 
kind and sweet-tempered my brother is, as ready to forgive as he is 
sensitive in taking offence. But it most unfortunately happened that 
you did not see him anywhere. For the impression he had received 
from the artifices of others had more weight with him than duty or 
relationship, or the old affection so long existing between you, 
which ought to have been the strongest influence of all. And yet, 


as to where the blame for this misunderstanding resides, I can more 
easily conceive than write: since I am afraid that, while defending 
my own relations, I should not spare yours. For I perceive that, 
though no actual wound was inflicted by members of the family, they 
yet could at least have cured it. But the root of the mischief in this 
case, which perhaps extends farther than appears, I shall more con- 
veniently explain to you when we meet. As to the letter he sent to 
you from Thessalonica, and about the language which you suppose 
him to have used both at Rome among your friends and on his 
journey, I don't know how far the matter went, but my whole hope 
of removing this unpleasantness rests on your kindness. For if you 
will only make up your mind to believe that the best men are often 
those whose feelings are most easily irritated and appeased, and that 
this quickness, so to speak, and sensitiveness of disposition are 
generally signs of a good heart; and lastly — and this is the main 
thing — that we must mutually put up with each other's gaucheries 
(shall I call them?), or faults, or injurious acts, then these misunder- 
standings will, I hope, be easily smoothed away. I beg you to take 
this view, for it is the dearest wish of my heart (which is yours as no 
one else's can be) that there should not be one of my family or 
friends who does not love you and is not loved by you. 

That part of your letter was entirely suf)erfluous, in which you 
mention what opportunities of doing good business in the provinces 
or the city you let pass at other times as well as in the year of my 
consulship: for I am thoroughly persuaded of your unselfishness 
and magnanimity, nor did I ever think that there was any difference 
between you and me except in our choice of a career. Ambition led 
me to seek official advancement, while another and perfectly laudable 
resolution led you to seek an honourable privacy. In the true glory, 
which is founded on honesty, industry, and piety, I place neither 
myself nor anyone else above you. In affection towards myself, next 
to my brother and immediate family, I put you first. For indeed, 
indeed I have seen and thoroughly appreciated how your anxiety and 
joy have corresponded with the variations of my fortunes. Often has 
your congratulation added a charm to praise, and your consolation a 
welcome antidote to alarm. Nay, at this moment of your absence, 
it is not only your advice — in which you excel — but the interchange 


of speech — in which no one gives me so much delight as you do — 
that I miss most, shall I say in politics, in which circumspection is 
always incumbent on me, or in my forensic labour, which I formerly 
sustained with a view to official promotion, and nowadays to main- 
tain my position by securing popularity, or in the mere business 
of my family? In all these I missed you and our conversations before 
my brother left Rome, and still more do I miss them since. Finally, 
neither my work nor rest, neither my business nor leisure, neither 
my affairs in the forum nor at home, public or private, can any longer 
do without your most consolatory and affectionate counsel and con- 
versation. The modest reserve which characterizes both of us has 
often prevented my mentioning these facts; but on this occasion it 
was rendered necessary by that part of your letter in which you 
expressed a wish to have yourself and your character "put straight" 
and "cleared" in my eyes. Yet, in the midst of all this unfortunate 
alienation and anger on his part, there is yet one fortunate circum- 
stance — that your determination of not going to a province was 
known to me and your other friends, and had been at various times 
asserted by yourself; so that your not being with him may be 
attributed to your personal tastes and judgment, not to the quarrel 
and rupture between you. So those ties which have been broken will 
be restored, and ours which have been so religiously preserved will 
retain all their old inviolability. At Rome I find politics in a shaky 
condition; everything is unsatisfactory and foreboding change. For 
I have no doubt you have been told that our friends, the equites, are 
all but alienated from the senate. Their first grievance was the 
promulgation of a bill on the authority of the senate for the trial 
of such as had taken bribes for giving a verdict. I happened not to 
be in the house when that decree was passed, but when I found that 
the equestrian order was indignant at it, and yet refrained from 
openly saying so, I remonstrated with the senate, as I thought, in 
very impressive language, and was very weighty and eloquent con- 
sidering the unsatisfactory nature of my cause. But here is another 
piece of almost intolerable coolness on the part of the equites, which 
I have not only submitted to, but have even put in as good a light 
as possible! The companies which had contracted with the censors 
for Asia complained that in the heat of the competition they had 


taken the contract at an excessive price; they demanded that the 
contract should be annulled. I led in their support, or rather, I was 
second, for it was Crassus who induced them to venture on this 
demand. The case is scandalous, the demand a disgraceful one, and 
a confession of rash speculation. Yet there was a very great risk that, 
if they got no concession, they would be completely alienated from 
the senate. Here again I came to the rescue more than anyone else, 
and secured them a full and very friendly house, in which I, on the 
1st and 2nd of December, delivered long speeches on the dignity and 
harmony of the two orders. The business is not yet settled, but the 
favourable feeling of the senate has been made manifest: for no one 
had spoken against it except the consul-designate, Metellus; while 
our hero Cato had still to speak, the shortness of the day having 
prevented his turn being reached. Thus I, in the maintenance of my 
steady policy, preserve to the best of my ability that harmony of the 
orders which was originally my joiner's work; but since it all now 
seems in such a crazy condition, I am constructing what I may call a 
road towards the maintenance of our power, a safe one I hope, which 
I cannot fully describe to you in a letter, but of which I will never- 
theless give you a hint. / cultivate close intimacy with Pompey. 
I foresee what you will say. I will use all necessary precautions, 
and I will write another time at greater length about my schemes 
for managing the Republic. You must know that Lucceius has it in 
his mind to stand for the consulship at once; for there are said to be 
only two candidates in prospect. Cxsar is thinking of coming to 
terms with him by the agency of Arrius, and Bibulus also thinks he 
may effect a coalition with him by means of C. Piso. You smile? 
This is no laughing matter, believe me. What else shall I write to 
you? What? I have plenty to say, but must put it off to another 
time. If you mean to wait till you hear, let me know. For the 
moment I am satisfied with a modest request, though it is what I 
desire above everything — that you should come to Rome as soon as 
5 December. 


To Terentia, Tulliola, and Young Cicero (at Rome) 
Brundisium, 29 April, 58 b.c. 

Yes, I do write to you less often than I might, because, though I 
am always wretched, yet when I write to you or read a letter from 
you, I am in such floods of tears that I cannot endure it. Oh, that I 
had clung less to life! I should at least never have known real sor- 
row, or not much of it, in my life. Yet if fortune has reserved for 
me any hope of recovering at any time any position again, I was not 
utterly wrong to do so: if these miseries are to be permanent, I' 
only wish, my dear, to see you as soon as possible and to die in your 
arms, since neither gods, whom you have worshipped with such 
pure devotion, nor men, whom I have ever served, have made us 
any return. I have been thirteen days at Brundisium in the house of 
M. Larnius Flaccus, a very excellent man, who has despised the risk 
to his fortunes and civil existence in comparison to keeping me safe, 
nor has been induced by the penalty of a most iniquitous law to 
refuse me the rights and good offices of hospitality and friendship. 
May I sometime have the opportunity of repaying him! Feel grati- 
tude I always shall. I set out from Brundisium on the 29th of April, 
and intend going through Macedonia to Cyzicus. What a fall! What 
a disaster! What can I say? Should I ask you to come — a woman of 
weak health and broken spirit? Should I refrain from asking you? 
Am I to be without you, then? I think the best course is this: if 
there is any hope of my restoration, stay to promote it and push the 
thing on: but if, as I fear, it proves hopeless, pray come to me by any 
means in your power. Be sure of this, that if I have you I shall not 
think myself wholly lost. But what is to become of my darling 
TuUia? You must see to that now: I can think of nothing. But 
certainly, however things turn out, we must do everything to promote 
that poor little girl's married happiness and reputation. Again, what 
is my boy Cicero to do ? Let him, at any rate, be ever in my bosom 
and in my arms. I can't write more. A lit of weeping hinders me. 
I don't know how you have got on; whether you are left in possession 
of anything, or have been, as I fear, entirely plundered. Piso, as you 


say, I hope will always be our friend. As to the manumission of the 
slaves you need not be uneasy. To begin with, the promise made to 
yours was that you would treat them according as each severally de- 
served. So far Orpheus has behaved well, besides him no one very 
markedly so. With the rest of the slaves the arrangement is that, 
if my property is forfeited, they should become my freedmen, sup)- 
posing them to be able to maintain at law that status. But if my 
property remained in my ownership, they were to continue slaves, 
with the exception of a very few. But these are trifles. To return to 
your advice, that I should keep up my courage and not give up hope 
of recovering my position, I only wish that there were any good 
grounds for entertaining such a hope. As it is, when, alas! shall I 
get a letter from you? Who will bring it me? I would have waited 
for it at Brundisium, but the sailors would not allow it, being unwill- 
ing to lose a favourable wind. For the rest, put as dignified a face on 
the matter as you can, my dear Terentia. Our life is over: we have 
had our day: it is not any fault of ours that has ruined us, but our 
virtue. I have made no false step, except in not losing my life when 
I lost my honours. But since our children preferred my living, let 
us bear everything else, however intolerable. And yet I, who en- 
courage you, cannot encourage myself. I have sent that faithful fellow 
Clodius Philhetaerus home, because he was hampered with weakness 
of the eyes. Sallustius seems likely to outdo everybody in his atten- 
tions. Pescennius is exceedingly kind to me; and I have hopes that he 
will always be attentive to you. Sicca had said that he would accom- 
pany me; but he has left Brundisium. Take the greatest care of your 
health, and believe me that I am more affected by your distress than 
my own. My dear Terentia, most faithful and best of wives, and my 
darling little daughter, and that last hope of my race, Cicero, good- 
29 April, from Brundisium. 


To His Brother Quintus (on His Way to Rome) 
Thessalonica, 15 June, 58 b.c. 
Brother! Brother! Brother! did you really fear that I had been 
induced by some angry feeling to send slaves to you without a letter? 


Or even that I did not wish to see you? I to be angry with you! Is 
it possible for me to be angry with you ? Why, one would think that 
it was you that brought me low! Your enemies, your unpopularity, 
that miserably ruined me, and not I that unhappily ruined you! The 
fact is, the much-praised consulate of mine has deprived me of you, 
of children, country, fortune; from you I should hope it will have 
taken nothing but myself. Certainly on your side I have experienced 
nothing but what was honourable and gratifying: on mine you have 
grief for my fall and fear for your own, regret, mourning, desertion. 
/ not wish to see you ? The truth is rather that I was unwilling to be 
seen by you. For you would not have seen your brother — not the 
brother you had left, not the brother you knew, not him to whom 
you had with mutual tears bidden farewell as he followed you on 
your departure for your province: not a trace even or faint image of 
him, but rather what I may call the likeness of a living corpse. And 
oh, that you had sooner seen me or heard of me as a corpse! Oh, 
that I could have left you to survive, not my life merely, but my 
undiminished rank! But I call all the gods to witness that the one 
argument which recalled me from death was, that all declared that 
to some extent your life depended upon mine. In which matter I 
made an error and acted culpably. For if I had died, that death itself 
would have given clear evidence of my fidelity and love to you. As 
it is, I have allowed you to be deprived of my aid, though I am alive, 
and with me still living to need the help of others; and my voice, of 
all others, to fail when dangers threatened my family, which had so 
often been successfully used in the defence of the merest strangers, 
For as to the slaves coming to you without a letter, the real reason 
(for you see that it was not anger) was a deadness of my faculties, 
and a seemingly endless deluge of tears and sorrows. How many 
tears do you suppose these very words have cost me? As many as ] 
know they will cost you to read them! Can I ever refrain from think- 
ing of you or ever think of you without tears? For when I miss 
you, is it only a brother that I miss ? Rather it is a brother of almost 
my own age in the charm of his companionship, a son in his con- 
sideration for my wishes, a father in the wisdom of his advice! Whai 
pleasure did I ever have without you, or you without me ? And what 
must my case be when at the same time I miss a daughter: How 


affectionate! how modest! how cleTer! The express image of my 
face, of my speech, of my very soul! Or again a son, the prettiest 
boy, the very joy of my heart? Cruel, inhuman monster that I am, 
I dismissed him from my arms better schooled in the world than I 
could have wished : for the poor child began to understand what was 
going on. So, to, your own son, your own image, whom my little 
Cicero loved as a brother, and was now beginning to respect as an 
elder brother! Need I mention also how I refused to allow my 
unhappy wife — the truest of helpmates — to accompany me, that there 
might be someone to protect the wrecks of the calamity which had 
fallen on us both, and guard our common children? Nevertheless, 
to the best of my ability, I did write a letter to you, and gave it to 
your freedman Philogonus, which, I believe, was delivered to you 
later on; and in this I repeat the advice and entreaty, which had been 
already transmitted to you as a message from me by my slaves, that 
you should go on with your journey and hasten to Rome. For, in the 
first place, I desired your protection, in case there were any of my 
enemies whose cruelty was not yet satisfied by my fall. In the next 
place, I dreaded the renewed lamentation which our meeting would 
cause: while I could not have borne your departure, and was afraid 
of the very thing you mention in your letter — that you would be 
unable to tear yourself away. For these reasons the supreme pain of 
not seeing you — and nothing more painful or more wretched could, 
I think, have happened to the most affectionate and united of 
brothers — was a less misery than would have been such a meeting 
followed by such a parting. Now, if you can, though I, whom you 
always regarded as a brave man, cannot do so, rouse yourself and 
collect your energies in view of any contest you may have to con- 
front. I hope, if my hope has anything to go upon, that your own 
spotless character and the love of your fellow citizens, and even 
remorse for my treatment, may prove a certain protection to you. 
But if it turns out that you are free from personal danger, you will 
doubtless do whatever you think can be done for me. In that matter, 
indeed, many write to me at great length and declare they have 
hopes; but I personally cannot see what hope there is, since my 
enemies have the greatest influence, while my friends have in some 
cases deserted, in others even betrayed me, fearing perhaps in my 


restoration a censure on their own treacherous conduct. But how 
matters stand with you I would have you ascertain and report to me. 
In any case I shall continue to live as long as you shall need me, in 
view of any danger you may have to undergo: longer than that I 
cannot go in this kind of life. For there is neither wisdom nor 
philosophy with sufficient strength to sustain such a weight of grief. 
I know that there has been a time for dying, more honourable and 
more advantageous; and this is not the only one of my many omis- 
sions; which if I should choose to bewail, I should merely be increas- 
ing your sorrow and emphasizing my own stupidity. But one thing 
I am not bound to do, and it is in fact impossible — remain in a life 
so wretched and so dishonoured any longer than your necessities, 
or some well-grounded hope, shall demand. For I, who was lately 
supremely blessed in brother, children, wife, wealth, and in the very 
nature of that wealth, while in position, influence, reputation, and 
popularity, I was inferior to none, however distinguished — I cannot, 
I repeat, go on longer lamenting over myself and those dear to me 
in a life of such humiliation as this, and in a state of such utter ruin. 
Wherefore, what do you mean by writing to me about negotiating 
a bill of exchange? As though I were not now wholly dependent 
on your means! And that is just the very thing in which I see 
and feel, to my misery, of what a culpable act I have been guilty in 
squandering to no purpose the money which I received from the 
treasury in your name, while you have to satisfy your creditors out 
of the very vitals of yourself and your son. However, the sum 
mentioned in your letter has been paid to M. Antonius, and the same 
amount to Cxpio. For me the sum at present in my hands is sufficient 
for what I contemplate doing. For in either case — whether I am 
restored or given up in despair — I shall not want any more money. 
For yourself, if you are molested, I think you should apply to Crassus 
and Calidius. I don't know how far Hortensius is to be trusted. 
Myself, with the most elaborate presence of affection and the closest 
daily intimacy, he treated with the most utter want of principle and 
the most consummate treachery, and Q. Arrius helped him in it: 
acting under whose advice, promises, and injunctions, I was left 
helpless to fall into this disaster. But this you will keep dark for fear 
they might injure you. Take care also — and it is on this account that 


I think you should cultivate Hortensius himself by means of Pom- 
ponius — that the epigram on the lex Aurelia attributed to you when 
candidate for the jedileship is not proved by false testimony to be 
yours. For there is nothing that I am so afraid of as that, when people 
understand how much pity for me your prayers and your acquittal 
will rouse, they may attack you with all the greater violence. Messalla 
I reckon as really attached to you : Pompey I regard as still pretending 
only. But may you never have to put these things to the test! And 
that prayer I would have offered to the gods had they not ceased to 
listen to prayers of mine. However, I do pray that they may be 
content with these endless miseries of ours; among which, after all, 
there is no discredit for any wrong thing done — sorrow is the be- 
ginning and end, sorrow that punishment is most severe when our 
conduct has been most unexceptionable. As to my daughter and 
yours and my young Cicero, why should I recommend them to you, 
my dear brother? Rather I grieve that their orphan state will cause 
you no less sorrow than it does me. Yet as long as you are uncon- 
demned they will not be fatherless. The rest, by my hopes of restora- 
tion and the privilege of dying in my fatherland, my tears will not 
allow me to write! Terentia also I would ask you to protect, and to 
write me word on every subject. Be as brave as the nature of the 
case admits. 
Thessalonica, 13 June. 


To Atticus (in Epirtjs) 
Rome, September, 57 b.c. 

Directly I arrived at Rome, and there was anyone to whom I 
could safely intrust a letter for you, I thought the very first thing 
I ought to do was to congratulate you in your absence on my return. 
For I knew, to speak candidly, that though in giving me advice you 
had not been more courageous or far-seeing than myself, nor — con- 
sidering my devotion to you in the past — too careful in protecting 
me from disaster, yet that you — though sharing in the first instance 
in my mistake, or rather madness, and in my groundless terror — had 


nevertheless been deeply grieved at our separation, and had bestowed 
immense pains, zeal, care, and labour in securing my return. Accord- 
ingly, I can truly assure you of this, that in the midst of supreme 
joy and the most gratifying congratulations, the one thing wanting 
to fill my cup of happiness to the brim is the sight of you, or rather 
your embrace; and if I ever forfeit that again, when I have once got 
possession of it, and i^ too, I do not exact the full delights of your 
charming society that have fallen into arrear in the past, I shall cer- 
tainly consider myself unworthy of this renewal of my good fortune. 
In regard to my political position, I have resumed what I thought 
there would be the utmost difficulty in recovering — my brilliant 
standing at the bar, my influence in the senate, and a popularity with 
the loyalists even greater than I desired. In regard, however, to my 
private property — as to which you are well aware to what an extent 
it has been crippled, scattered, and plundered — I am in great difficul- 
ties, and stand in need, not so much of your means (which I look 
upon as my own), as of your advice for collecting and restoring to a 
sound state the fragments that remain. For the present, though I 
believe everything finds its way to you in the letters of your friends, 
or even by messengers and rumour, yet I will write briefly what I 
think you would like to learn from my letters above all others. 
On the 4th of August I started from Dyrrachium, the very day on 
which the law about me was carried. I arrived at Brundisium on 
the 5th of August. There my dear Tulliola met me on what was her 
own birthday, which happened also to be the name-day of the colony 
of Brundisium and of the temple of Safety, near your house. This 
coincidence was noticed and celebrated with warm congratulations 
by the citizens of Brundisium. On the 8th of August, while still at 
Brundisium, I learnt by a letter from Quintus that the law had been 
passed at the comitia centuriata with a surprising enthusiasm on the 
part of all ages and ranks, and with an incredible influx of voters 
from Italy. I then commenced my journey, amidst the compliments 
of the men of highest consideration at Brundisium, and was met at 
every point by legates bearing congratulations. My arrival in the 
neighbourhood of the city was the signal for every soul of every order 
known to my nomenclator coming out to meet me, except those 
enemies who could not either dissemble or deny the fact of their 


being such. On my arrival at the Porta Capena, the steps of the 
temples were already thronged from top to bottom by the populace; 
and while their congratulations were displayed by the loudest 
possible applause, a similar throng and similar applause accompanied 
me right up to the Capitol, and in the forum and on the Capitol 
itself there was again a wonderful crowd. Next day, in the senate, 
that is, the 5th of September, I spoke my thanks to the senators. Two 
days after that — there having been a very heavy rise in the price of 
corn, and great crowds having flocked first to the theatre and then 
to the senate-house, shouting out, at the instigation of Clodius, that 
the scarcity of corn was my doing — meetings of the senate being 
held on those days to discuss the corn question, and Pomjjey being 
called upon to undertake the management of its supply in the 
common talk not only of the plebs, but of the aristocrats also, and 
being himself desirous of the commission, when the people at large 
called upon me by name to support a decree to that effect, I did so, 
and gave my vote in a carefully worded speech. The other consulars, 
except Messalla and Afranius, having absented themselves on the 
ground that they could not vote with safety to themselves, a decree 
of the senate was passed in the sense of my motion, namely, that 
Pompey should be appealed to to undertake the business, and that 
a law should be proposed to that effect. This decree of the senate 
having been pubhcly read, and the people having, after the sense- 
less and newfangled custom that now prevails, applauded the men- 
tion of my name, I delivered a speech. All the magistrates present, 
except one prartor and two tribunes, called on me to speak. Next 
day a full senate, including all the consulars, granted everything 
that Pompey asked for. Having demanded fifteen legates, he named 
me first in the list, and said that he should regard me in all things 
as a second self. The consuls drew up a law by which complete 
control over the corn-supply for five years throughout the whole 
world was given to Pompey. A second law is drawn up by Messius, 
granting him {X)wer over all money, and adding a fleet and army, 
and an imperium in the provinces superior to that of their governors. 
After that our consular law seems moderate indeed: that of Messius 
is quite intolerable. Pompey professes to prefer the former; his 
friends the latter. The consulars led by Favonius murmur: I hold 


my tongue, the more so that the pontifices have as yet given no 
answer in regard to my house. If they annul the consecration I 
shall have a splendid site. The consuls, in accordance with a decree 
of the senate, will value the cost of the building that stood upon it; 
but if the pontifices decide otherwise, they will pull down the Clodian 
building, give out a contract in their own name (for a temple), and 
value to me the cost of a site and house. So our affairs are 

"For happy though but ill, for ill not worst." 

In regard to money matters I am, as you know, much embarrassed. 
Besides, there are certain domestic troubles, which I do not intrust 
to writing. My brother Quintus I love as he deserves for his eminent 
qualities of loyalty, virtue, and good faith. I am longing to see you, 
and beg you to hasten your return, resolved not to allow me to be 
without the benefit of your advice. I am on the threshold, as it were, 
of a second life. Already certain persons who defended me in my 
absence begin to nurse a secret grudge at me now that I am here, 
and to make no secret of their jealousy. I want you very much. 


To His Brother Quintus (in Sardinia) 

Rome, 12 February, 56 b.c. 

I HAVE already told you the earlier proceedings; now let me 
describe what was done afterwards. The legations were postponed 
from the ist of February to the 13th. On the former day our business 
was not brought to a settlement. On the 2nd of February Milo 
appeared for trial. Pomjsey came to suppxsrt him. Marcellus spoke 
on being called upon by me. We came off with flying colours. The 
case was adjourned to the 7th. Meanwhile (in the senate), the 
legations having been postponed to the 13th, the business of allotting 
the quaestors and furnishing the outfit of the prxtors was brought 
before the house. But nothing was done, because many speeches 
were interposed denouncing the state of the Republic. Gains Cato 
published his bill for the recall of Lentulus, whose son thereon put 
on mourning. On the 7th Milo appeared. Pompey spoke, or rather 


wished to speak. For as soon as he got up Clodius's ruffians raised a 
shout, and throughout his whole speech he was interrupted, not only 
by hostile cries, but by personal abuse and insulting remarks. How- 
ever, when he had finished his speech — for he shewed great courage 
in these circumstances, he was not cowed, he said all he had to say, 
and at times had by his commanding presence even secured silence 
for his words — well, when he had finished, up got Clodius. Our 
party received him with such a shout — for they had determined to 
pay him out — that he lost all presence of mind, power of speech, or 
control over his countenance. This went on up to two o'clock — 
Pompey having finished his speech at noon — and every kind of 
abuse, and finally epigrams of the most outspoken indecency, were 
uttered against Clodius and Clodia. Mad and livid with rage, 
Clodius, in the very midst of the shouting, kept putting questions to 
his claque: "Who was it who was starving the commons to death?" 
His ruffians answered, "Pompey." "Who wanted to be sent to 
Alexandria?" They answered, "Pompey." "Whom did they wish 
to go?" They answered, "Crassus." The latter was present at the 
time with no friendly feelings to Milo. About three oclock, as though 
at a given signal, the Clodians began spitting at our men. There 
was an outburst of rage. They began a movement for forcing us from 
our ground. Our men charged: his ruffians turned tail. Clodius was 
pushed off the rostra: and then we too made our escape for fear of 
mischief in the riot. The senate was summoned into the Curia: 
Pompey went home. However, I did not myself enter the senate- 
house, lest I should be obliged either to refrain from speaking on 
matters of such gravity, or in defending Pompey (for he was being 
attacked by Bibulus, Curio, Favonius, and Servilius the younger) 
should give offence to the loyalists. The business was adjourned to 
the next day. Clodius fixed the Quirinalia (17th of February) for 
his prosecution. On the 8th the senate met in the temple of Apollo, 
that Pompey might attend. Pompey made an impressive speech. 
That day nothing was concluded. On the 9th in the temple of Apollo 
a decree passed the senate "that what had taken place on the 7th of 
February was treasonable." On this day Cato warmly inveighed 
against Pompey, and throughout his speech arraigned him as though 
he were at the bar. He said a great deal about me, to my disgust. 


though it was in very laudatory terms. When he attacked Pompey's 
perfidy to me, he was listened to in profound silence on the part of 
my enemies. Pompey answered him boldly with a palpable allusion 
to Crassus, and said outright that "he would take better precautions 
to protect his life than Africanus had done, whom C. Carbo had 
assassinated." Accordingly, important events appear to me to be in 
the wind. For Pompey understands what is going on, and imparts 
to me that plots are being formed against his life, that Gains Cato 
is being supported by Crassus, that money is being supplied to 
Clodius, that both are backed by Crassus and Curio, as well as by 
Bibulus and his other detractors: that he must take extraordinary 
precautions to prevent being overpowered by that demagogue — with 
a people all but wholly alienated, a nobility hostile, a senate ill- 
affected, and the younger men corrupt. So he is making his prepara- 
tions and summoning men from the country. On his part, Clodius 
is rallying his gangs: a body of men is being got together for the 
Quirinalia. For that occasion we are considerably in a majority, 
owing to the forces brought up by Pompey himself: and a large con- 
tingent is expected from Picenum and Gallia, to enable us to throw 
out Cato's bills also about Milo and Lentulus. 

On the loth of February an indictment was lodged against Sestius 
for bribery by the informer Cn. Nerius, of the Pupinian tribe, and 
on the same day by a certain M. Tullius for riot. He was ill. I went 
at once, as I was bound to do, to his house, and put myself wholly 
at his service: and that was more than people expected, who thought 
that I had good cause for being angry with him. The result is 
that my extreme kindness and grateful disposition are made manifest 
both to Sestius himself and to all the world, and I shall be as good 
as my word. But this same informer Nerius also named Cn. Lentulus 
Vatia and C. Cornelius to the commissioners. On the same day a 
decree passed the senate "that political clubs and associations should 
be broken up, and that a law in regard to them should be brought in, 
enacting that those who did not break off from them should be 
liable to the same penalty as those convicted of riot." 

On the nth of February I spoke in defence of Bestia on a charge 
of bribery before the prartor Cn. Domitius, in the middle of the 
forum and in a very crowded court; and in the course of my speech 


I came to the incident of Sestius, after receiving many wounds, in 
the temple of Castor, having been preserved by the aid of Bestia. 
Here I took occasion to pave the way beforehand for a refutation of 
the charges which are being got up against Sestius, and I passed a 
well-deserved encomium upon him with the cordial approval of 
everybody. He was himself very much delighted with it. I tell 
you this because you have often advised me in your letters to retain 
the friendship of Sestius. I am writing this on the 12th of February 
before daybreak; the day on which I am to dine with Pomponius 
on the occasion of his wedding. 

Our position in other respects is such as you used to cheer my 
despondency by telling me it would be — one of great dignity and 
popularity: this is a return to old times for you and me effected, 
my brother, by your patience, high character, loyalty, and, I may also 
add, your conciliatory manners. The house of Licinius, near the 
grove of Piso, has been taken for you. But, as I hope, in a few 
months' time, after the ist of July, you will move into your own. 
Some excellent tenants, the Lamix, have taken your house in Carinas. 
I have received no letter from you since the one dated Olbia. I am 
anxious to hear how you are and what you find to amuse you, but 
above all to see you yourself as soon as possible. Take care of your 
health, my dear brother, and though it is winter time, yet reflect that 
after all it is Sardinia that you are in. 

15 February. 


To Atticus (Returning from Epirus) 
Antium, April, 56 b.c. 

It will be delightful if you come to see us here. You will find 
that Tyrannio has made a wonderfully good arrangement of my 
books, the remains of which are better than I had expected. Still, 
I wish you would send me a couple of your library slaves for 
Tyrannio to employ as gluers, and in other subordinate work, and 
tell them to get some fine parchment to make title-pieces, which 
you Greeks, I think, call "sillybi." But all this is only if not incon- 
venient to you. In any case, be sure you come yourself, if you can 


halt for a while in such a place, and can persuade Pilia to accompany 
you. For that is only fair, and Tulia is anxious that she should come. 
My word! You have purchased a fine troop! Your gladiators, I 
am told, fight superbly. If you had chosen to let them out you would 
have cleared your expenses by the last two spectacles. But we will 
talk about this later on. Be sure to come, and, as you love me, see 
about the library slaves. 

To L. LuccEius 
Arpinum, April, 56 b.c. 

I HAVE often tried to say to you personally what I am about to 
write, but was prevented by a kind of almost clownish bashfulness. 
Now that I am not in your presence I shall speak out more boldly: 
a letter does not blush. I am inflamed with an inconceivably ardent 
desire, and one, as I think, of which I have no reason to be ashamed, 
that in a history written by you my name should be conspicuous 
and frequently mentioned with praise. And though you have often 
shewn me that you meant to do so, yet I hope you will pardon my 
impatience. For the style of your composition, though I had always 
entertained the highest expectations of it, has yet surpassed my hopes, 
and has taken such a hold upon me, or rather has so fired my 
imagination, that I was eager to have my achievements as quickly as 
possible put on record in your history. For it is not only the thought 
of being spoken of by future ages that makes me snatch at what 
seems a hope of immortality, but it is also the desire of fully enjoying 
in my lifetime an authoritative expression of your judgment, or 
a token of your kindness for me, or the charm of your genius. Not, 
however, that while thus writing I am unaware under what heavy 
burdens you are labouring in the portion of history you have under- 
taken, and by this time have begun to write. But because I saw 
that your history of the Italian and Civil Wars was now all but 
finished, and because also you told me that you were already em- 
barking upon the remaining portions of your work, I determined 
not to lose my chance for the want of suggesting to you to consider 
•whether you preferred to weave your account of me into the main 


context of your history, or whether, as many Greek writers have 
done — Callisthenes, the Phocian War; Timajus, the war of Pyrrhus; 
Polybius, that of Numantia; all of whom separated the wars I have 
named from their main narratives — you would, like them, separate 
the civil conspiracy from public and external wars. For my part, 
I do not see that it matters much to my reputation, but it does 
somewhat concern my impatience, that you should not wait till you 
come to the proper place, but should at once anticipate the discussion 
of that question as a whole and the history of that epoch. And at 
the same time, if your whole thoughts are engaged on one incident 
and one person, I can see in imagination how much fuller your 
material will be, and how much more elaborately worked out. I am 
quite aware, however, what little modesty I display, first, in imposing 
on you so heavy a burden (for your engagements may well prevent 
your compliance with my request), and in the second place, in asking 
you to shew me off to advantage. What if those transactions are not 
in your judgment so very deserving of commendation? Yet, after 
all, a man who has once passed the border-line of modesty had 
better put a bold face on it and be frankly impudent. And so I again 
and again ask you outright, both to praise those actions of mine in 
warmer terms than you perhaps feel, and in that respect to neglect 
the laws of history. I ask you, too, in regard to the jjersonal predilec- 
tion, on which you wrote in a certain introductory chapter in the 
most gratifying and explicit terms — and by which you shew that 
you were as incapable of being diverted as Xenophon's Hercules by 
Pleasure — not to go against it, but to yield to your affection for me 
a little more than truth shall justify. But if I can induce you to 
undertake this, you will have, I am persuaded, matter worthy of 
your genius and your wealth of language. For from the beginning 
of the conspiracy to my return from exile it appears to me that a 
moderate-sized monograph might be composed, in which you will, 
on the one hand, be able to utilize your special knowledge of civil 
disturbances, either in unravelling the causes of the revolution or in 
proposing remedies for evils, blaming meanwhile what you think 
deserves denunciation, and establishing the righteousness of what 
you approve by explaining the principles on which they rest: and 
on the other hand, if you think it right to be more outspoken (as 


you generally do), you will bring out the perfidy, intrigues, and 
treachery of many people towards me. For my vicissitudes will 
supply you in your composition with much variety, which has in 
itself a kind of charm, capable of taking a strong hold on the 
imagination of readers, when you are the writer. For nothing is 
better fitted to interest a reader than variety of circumstance and 
vicissitudes of fortune, which, though the reverse of welcome to us 
in actual experience, will make very pleasant reading: for the un- 
troubled recollection of a past sorrow has a charm of its own. To 
the rest of the world, indeed, who have had no trouble themselves, 
and who look upon the misfortunes of others without any suffering 
of their own, the feeling of pity is itself a source of pleasure. For 
what man of us is not delighted, though feeUng a certain compassion 
too, with the death-scene of Epaminondas at Mantinea? He, you 
know, did not allow the dart to be drawn from his body until he 
had been told, in answer to his question, that his shield was safe, 
so that in spite of the agony of his wound he died calmly and with 
glory. Whose interest is not roused and sustained by the banishment 
and return of Themistocles? Truly the mere chronological record 
of the annals has very little charm for us — little more than the entries 
in the fasti: but the doubtful and varied fortunes of a man, frequently 
of eminent character, involve feelings of wonder, suspense, joy, 
sorrow, hope, fear: if these fortunes are crowned with a glorious 
death, the imagination is satisfied with the most fascinating delight 
which reading can give. Therefore it will be more in accordance 
with my wishes if you come to the resolution to separate from the 
main body of your narrative, in which you embrace a continuous 
history of events, what I may call the drama of my actions and 
fortunes: for it includes varied acts, and shifting scenes both of 
policy and circumstance. Nor am I afraid of appearing to lay snares 
for your favour by flattering suggestions, when I declare that I 
desire to be complimented and mentioned with praise by you above 
all other writers. For you are not the man to be ignorant of your 
own powers, or not to be sure that those who withhold their 
admiration of you are more to be accounted jealous, than those who 
praise you flatterers. Nor, again, am I so senseless as to wish to be 
consecrated to an eternity of fame by one who, in so consecrating me, 


does not also gain for himself the glory which rightfully belongs to 
genius. For the famous Alexander himself did not wish to be painted 
by Apelles, and to have his statue made by Lysippus above all others, 
merely from personal favour to them, but because he thought that 
their art would be a glory at once to them and to himself. And, 
indeed, those artists used to make images of the person known to 
strangers: but if such had never existed, illustrious men would yet 
be no less illustrious. The Spartan Agesilaus, who would not allow 
a portrait of himself to be painted or a statue made, deserves to be 
quoted as an example quite as much as those who have taken 
trouble about such representations: for a single pamphlet of Xeno- 
phon's in praise of that king has proved much more effective than 
all the portraits and statues of them all. And, moreover, it will more 
redound to my present exultation and the honour of my memory 
to have found my way into your history, than if I had done so into 
that of others, in this, that I shall profit not only by the genius of the 
writer — as Timoleon did by that of Timzus, Themistocles by that 
of Herodotus — but also by the authority of a man of a most illus- 
trious and well-established character, and one well known and of 
the first repute for his conduct in the most important and weighty 
matters of state; so that I shall seem to have gained not only the 
fame which Alexander on his visit to Sigeum said had been bestowed 
on Achilles by Homer, but also the weighty testimony of a great 
and illustrious man. For I like that saying of Hector in Nacvius, 
who not only rejoices that he is "praised," but adds, "and by one 
who has himself been praised." But if I fail to obtain my request 
from you, which is equivalent to saying, if you are by some means 
prevented — for I hold it to be out of the question that you would 
refuse a request of mine — I shall perhaps be forced to do what 
certain persons have often found fault with, write my own panegyric, 
a thing, after all, which has a precedent of many illustrious men. But 
it will not escaf)e your notice that there are the following drawbacks 
in a composition of that sort: men are bound, when writing of them- 
selves, both to speak with greater reserve of what is praiseworthy, 
and to omit what calls for blame. Added to which such writing 
carries less conviction, less weight; many people, in fine, carp at it, 
and say that the heralds at the public games are more modest, for 


after having placed garlands on the other recipients and proclaimed 
their names in a loud voice, when their own turn comes to be pre- 
sented with a garland before the games break up, they call in the 
services of another herald, that they may not declare themselves vic- 
tors with their own voice. I wish to avoid all this, and, if you under- 
take my cause, I shall avoid it : and, accordingly, I ask you this favour. 
But why, you may well ask, when you have already often assured me 
that you intended to record in your book with the utmost minuteness 
the policy and events of my consulship, do I now make this request 
to you with such earnestness and in so many words? The reason 
is to be found in that burning desire, of which I spoke at the be- 
ginning of my letter, for something prompt: because I am in a 
flutter of impatience, both that men should learn what I am from 
your book, while I am still alive, and that I may myself in my life- 
time have the full enjoyment of my little bit of glory. What you 
intend doing on this subject I should like you to write me word, if 
not troublesome to you. For if you do undertake the subject, I will 
put together some notes of all occurrences: but if you put me off to 
some future time, I will talk the matter over with you. Meanwhile, 
do not relax your efforts, and thoroughly polish what you have 
already on the stocks, and — continue to love me. 


To M. Fadius Gallus 
Rome, May, 55 b.c. 

I HAD only just arrived from Arpinum when your letter was 
delivered to me; and from the same bearer I received a letter from 
Avianius, in which there was this most liberal offer, that when he 
came to Rome he would enter my debt to him on whatever day 
I chose. Pray put yourself in my place: is it consistent with your 
modesty or mine, first to prefer a request as to the day, and then to 
ask more than a year's credit ? But, my dear Gallus, everything would 
have been easy, if you had bought the things I wanted, and only 
up to the price that I wished. However, the purchases which, ac- 
cording to your letter, you have made shall not only be ratified by 
me, but with gratitude besides: for I fully understand that you have 


displayed zeal and affection in purchasing (because you thought 
them worthy of me) things which pleased yourself — a man, as I have 
ever thought, of the most fastidious judgment in all matters of taste. 
Still, I should like Damasippus to abide by his decision: for there 
is absolutely none of those purchases that I care to have. But you, 
being unacquainted with my habits, have bought four or five of 
your selection at a price at which I do not value any statues in the 
world. You compare your Bacchae with Metellus's Muses. Where 
is the likeness? To begin with, I should never have considered the 
Muses worth all that money, and 1 think all the Muses would have 
approved my judgment: still, it would have been appropriate to a 
library, and in harmony with my pursuits. But Bacchx! What 
place is there in my house for them? But, you will say, they are 
pretty. I know them very well and have often seen them. I would 
have commissioned you definitely in the case of statues known to 
me, if I had decided on them. The sort of statues that I am accus- 
tomed to buy are such as may adorn a place in a pdxstra after the 
fashion of gymnasia. What, again, have I, the promoter of peace, 
to do with a statue of Mars? I am glad there was not a statue of 
Saturn also: for I should have thought these two statues had brought 
me debt! I should have preferred some representation of Mercury: 
I might then, I suppose, have made a more favourable bargain with 
Arrianus. You say you meant the table-stand for yourself; well, if 
you like it, keep it. But if you have changed your mind I will, of 
course, have it. For the money you have laid out, indeed, I would 
rather have purchased a place of call at Tarracina, to prevent my 
being always a burden on my host. Altogether I perceive that the 
fault is with my freedman, whom I had distinctly commissioned to 
purchase certain definite things, and also with Junius, whom 1 think 
you know, an intimate friend of Avianius. I have constructed some 
new sitting-rooms in a miniature colonnade on my Tusculan prop- 
erty. I want to ornament them with pictures: for if I take pleasure 
in anything of that sort it is in painting. However, if I am to have 
what you have bought, I should like you to inform me where they 
are, when they are to be fetched, and by what kind of conveyance. 
For if Damasippus doesn't abide by his decision, I shall look for 
some would-be Damasippus, even at a loss. 


As to what you say about the house, as I was going out of town 
I intrusted the matter to my daughter Tullia: for it was at the very 
hour of my departure that I got your letter. I also discussed the 
matter with your friend Nicias, because he is, as you know, intimate 
with Cassius. On my return, however, before I got your last letter, 
I asked Tullia what she had done. She said that she had approached 
Licinia (though I think Cassius is not very intimate with his sister), 
and that she at once said that she could venture, in the absence of her 
husband (Dexius is gone to Spain), to change houses without his 
being there and knowing about it. I am much gratified that you 
should value association with me and my domestic life so highly 
as, in the first place, to take a house which would enable you to 
live not only near me, but absolutely with me, and, in the second 
place, to be in such a hurry to make this change of residence. But, 
upon my life, I do not yield to you in eagerness for that arrangement. 
So I will try every means in my power. For I see the advantage to 
myself, and, indeed, the advantages to us both. If I succeed in doing 
anything, I will let you know. Mind you also write me word back oa 
everything, and let me know, if you please, when I am to expect you. 


To M. Marius (at Cumm) 
Rome, October (?), 55 b.c. 

If some bodily pain or weakness of health has prevented your 
coming to the games, I put it down to fortune rather than your own 
wisdom: but if you have made up your mind that these things 
which the rest of the world admires are only worthy of contempt, 
and, though your health would have allowed of it, you yet were 
unwilling to come, then I rejoice at both facts — that you were free 
from bodily pain, and that you had the sound sense to disdain what 
others causelessly admire. Only I hope that some fruit of your 
leisure may be forthcoming, a leisure, indeed, which you had a 
splendid opportunity of enjoying to the full, seeing that you were 
left almost alone in your lovely country. For I doubt not that in 
that study of yours, from which you have opened a window into 


the Stabian waters of the bay, and obtained a view of Misenum, 
you have spent the morning hours of those days in Ught reading, 
while those who left you there were watching the ordinary farces 
half asleep. The remaining parts of the day, too, you spent in the 
pleasures which you had yourself arranged to suit your own taste, 
while we had to endure whatever had met with the approval of 
Spurius Maccius. On the whole, if you care to know, the games 
were most splendid, but not to your taste. I judge from my own. 
For, to begin with, as a special honour to the occasion, those actors 
had come back to the stage who, I thought, had left it for their own. 
Indeed, your favourite, my friend j^isop, was in such a state that no 
one could say a word against his retiring from the profession. On 
beginning to recite the oath his voice failed him at the words "If 
I knowingly deceive." Why should I go on with the story? You 
know all about the rest of the games, which hadn't even that amount 
of charm which games on a moderate scale generally have: for the 
spectacle was so elaborate as to leave no room for cheerful enjoyment, 
and I think you need feel no regret at having missed it. For 
what is the pleasure of a train of six hundred mules in the "Clytem- 
nestra," or three thousand bowls in the "Trojan Horse," or gay- 
coloured armour of infantry and cavalry in some battle? These 
things roused the admiration of the vulgar; to you they would have 
brought no delight. But if during those days you listened to your 
reader Protogenes, so long at least as he read anything rather than 
my speeches, surely you had far greater pleasure than any one of us. 
For I don't suppose you wanted to see Greek or Oscan plays, 
especially as you can see Oscan farces in your senate-house over 
there, while you are so far from liking Greeks, that you generally 
won't even go along the Greek road to your villa. Why, again, 
should I suppose you to care about missing the athletes, since you 
disdained the gladiators? in which even Pompey himself confesses 
that he lost his trouble and his pains. There remain the two wild- 
beast hunts, lasting five days, magnificent — nobody denies it — and 
yet, what pleasure can it be to a man of refinement, when either a 
weak man is torn by an extremely powerful animal, or a splendid 
animal is transfixed by a hunting spear? Things which, after all, 
if worth seeing, you have often seen before; nor did I, who was 


present at the games, see anything the least new. The last day was 
that of the elephants, on which there was a great deal of astonishment 
on the part of the vulgar crowd, but no pleasure whatever. Nay, 
there was even a certain feeling of compassion aroused by it, and 
a kind of belief created that that animal has something in common 
with mankind. However, for my part, during this day, while the 
theatrical exhibitions were on, lest by chance you should think me 
too blessed, I almost split my lungs in defending your friend 
Caninius Gallus. But if the people were as indulgent to me as they 
were to iEsop, I would, by heaven, have been glad to abandon my 
profession and live with you and others like us. The fact is 1 was 
tired of it before, even when both age and ambition stirred me on, 
and when I could also decline any defence that I didn't like; but 
now, with things in the state that they are, there is no life worth 
having. For, on the one hand, I expect no profit of my labour; and, 
on the other, I am sometimes forced to defend men who have been 
no friends to me, at the request of those to whom I am under obliga- 
tions. Accordingly, I am on the look-out for every excuse for at 
last managing my life according to my own taste, and I loudly 
applaud and vehemently approve both you and your retired plan 
of life: and as to your infrequent appearances among us, I am the 
more resigned to that because, were you in Rome, I should be pre- 
vented from enjoying the charm of your society, and so would you 
of mine, if I have any, by the overpowering nature of my engage- 
ments; from which, if I get any relief — for entire release I don't 
expect — I will give even you, who have been studying nothing else 
for many years, some hints as to what it is to live a life of cultivated 
enjoyment. Only be careful to nurse your weak health and to con- 
tinue your present care of it, so that you may be able to visit my 
country houses and make excursions with me in my litter. I have 
written you a longer letter than usual, from superabundance, not 
of leisure, but of affection, because, if you remember, you asked me 
in one of your letters to write you something to prevent you feeling 
sorry at having missed the games. And if I have succeeded in that, 
I am glad: if not, I yet console myself with this reflexion, that in 
future you will both come to the games and come to see me, and 
will not leave your hope of enjoyment dependent on my letters. 



To His Brother Quintus (in the Country) 
Rome, February, 54 b.c. 

Your note by its strong language has drawn out this letter. For 
as to what actually occurred on the day o£ your start, it supplied me 
with absolutely no subject for writing. But as when we are together 
we are never at a loss for something to say, so ought our letters at 
times to digress into loose chat. Well, then, to begin, the liberty of 
the Tenedians has received short shrift, no one speaking for them 
except myself, Bibulus, Calidius, and Favonius. A complimentary 
reference to you was made by the legates from Magnesia and Sipy- 
lum, they saying that you were the man who alone had resisted the 
demand of L. Sestius Pansa. On the remaining days of this business 
in the senate, if anything occurs which you ought to know, or even 
if there is nothing, I will write you something every day. On the 
t2th I will not fail you or Pomponius. The poems of Lucretius are 
as you say — with many flashes of genius, yet very technical. But 
when you return, ... if you succeed in reading the Empedoclea of 
Sallustius, I shall regard you as a hero, yet scarcely human. 


To His Brother Quintus (in Britain) 
Arpinum and Rome, 28 September, 54 b.c. 

After extraordinarily hot weather — I never remember greater heat 
— I have refreshed myself at Arpinum, and enjoyed the extreme 
loveliness of the river during the days of the games, having left my 
tribesmen under the charge of Philotimus. I was at Arcanum on 
the loth of September. There I found Mescidius and Philoxenus, 
and saw the water, for which they were making a course not far 
from your villa, running quite nicely, especially considering the 
extreme drought, and they said they were going to collect it in much 
greater abundance. Everything is right with Herus. In your 
Manilian property I came across Diphilus outdoing himself in 
dilatoriness. Still, he had nothing left to construct, except baths, and 


a promenade, and an aviary. I liked that villa very much, because 
its paved colonnade gives it an air of very great dignity. I never 
appreciated this till now that the colonnade itself has been all laid 
open, and the columns have been polished. It all depends — and this 
I will look to — upon the stuccoing being prettily done. The pave- 
ments seemed to be being well laid. Certain of the ceilings I did not 
like, and ordered them to be changed. As to the place in which 
they say that you write word that a small entrance hall is to be 
built — namely, in the colonnade — I liked it better as it is. For I did 
not think there was space sufficient for an entrance hall; nor is it 
usual to have one, except in those buildings which have a larger 
court; nor could it have bedrooms and apartments of that kind 
attached to it. As it is, from the very beauty of its arched roof, it 
will serve as an admirable summer room. However, if you think 
differently, write back word as soon as possible. In the bath I have 
moved the hot chamber to the other corner of the dressing-room, 
because it was so placed that its steam-pipe was immediately under 
the bedrooms. A fair-sized bedroom and a lofty winter one I admired 
very much, for they were both spacious and well situated — on the 
side of the promenade nearest to the bath. Diphilus had placed the 
columns out of the perpendicular, and not opposite each other. 
These, of course, he shall take down; he will learn some day to use 
the plumb-Hne and measure. On the whole, I hope Diphilus's work 
will be completed in a few months: for Carsius, who was with me 
at the time, keeps a very sharp look-out upon him. 

Thence I started straight along the via Vitularia to your Fufid- 
ianum, the estate which we bought for you a few weeks ago at 
Arpinum for 100,000 sesterces (about /[800). I never saw a shadier 
spot in summer — water springs in many parts of it, and abundant 
into the bargain. In short, Cxsius thought that you would easily 
irrigate fifty itigera of the meadow-land. For my part, I can assure 
you of this, which is more in my line, that you will have a villa 
marvellously pleasant, with the addition of a fish-pond, spouting 
fountains, a paltestra, and a shrubbery. I am told that you wish to 
keep this Bovillx estate. You will determine as you think good. 
Calvus said that, even if the control of the water were taken from you, 
and the right of drawing it ofl were established by the vendor, and 


thus an easement were imposed on that property, we could yet main- 
tain the price in case we wish to sell. He said that he had agreed with 
you to do the work at three sesterces a foot, and that he had stepped 
it, and made it three miles. It seemed to me more. But I will 
guarantee that the money could nowhere be better laid out. I had 
sent for Cillo from Venafrum, but on that very day four of his 
fellow servants and apprentices had been crushed by the falling in 
of a tunnel at Venafrum. On the 13th of September I was at 
Laterium. I examined the road, which appeared to me to be so good 
as to seem almost like a highroad, except a hundred and fifty paces — 
for I measured it myself from the little bridge at the temple of 
Furina, in the direction of Satricum. There they had put down dust, 
not gravel (this shall be changed), and that part of the road is a very 
steep incline. But I understood that it could not be taken in any 
other direction, particularly as you did not wish it to go through 
the property of Locusta or Varro. The latter alone had made the 
road very well where it skirted his own property. Locusta hadn't 
touched it; but I will call on him at Rome, and think I shall be 
able to stir him up, and at the same time I think I shall ask M. 
Tarus, who is now at Rome, and whom I am told promised to 
allow you to do so, about making a watercourse through his property. 
I much approved of your steward Nicephorius and I asked him 
what orders you had given about that small building at Laterium, 
about which you spoke to me. He told me in answer that he had 
himself contracted to do the work for sixteen sestertia (about >Ci28), 
but that you had afterwards made many additions to the work, 
but nothing to the price, and that he had therefore given it up. I 
quite approve, by Hercules, of your making the additions you had 
determined upon; although the villa as it stands seems to have the 
air of a philosopher, meant to rebuke the extravagance of other 
villas. Yet, after all, that addition will be pleasing. I praised your 
landscape gardener: he has so covered everything with ivy, both the 
foundation-wall of the villa and the spaces between the columns of 
the walk, that, upon my word, those Greek statues seemed to be 
engaged in fancy gardening, and to be shewing off the ivy. Finally, 
nothing can be cooler or more mossy than the dressing-room of the 
bath. That is about all I have to say about country matters. The 


gardener, indeed, as well as Philotimus and Cincius are pressing on 
the ornamentation of your town house; but I also often look in 
upon it myself, as I can do without difficulty. Wherefore don't be 
at all anxious about that. 

As to your always asking me about your son, of course I "excuse 
you"; but I must ask you to "excuse" me also, for I don't allow 
that you love him more than I do. And oh, that he had been with 
me these last few days at Arpinum, as he had himself set his heart 
on being, and as I had no less done! As to Pomponia, please write 
and say that, when I go out of town anywhere, she is to come with 
me and bring the boy. I'll do wonders with him, if I get him to 
myself when I am at leisure: for at Rome there is no time to breathe. 
You know I formerly promised to do so for nothing. What do you 
expect with such a reward as you promise me ? I now come to your 
letters which I received in several packets when I was at Arpinum. 
For I received three from you in one day, and, indeed, as it seemed, 
despatched by you at the same time — one of considerable length, in 
which your first point was that my letter to you was dated earlier 
than that to Cxsar. Oppius at times cannot help this: the reason is 
that, having settled to send letter<arriers, and having received a 
letter from me, he is hindered by something turning up, and obliged 
to despatch them later than he had intended; and I don't take the 
trouble to have the day altered on a letter which I have once handed 
to him. You write about Caesar's extreme affection for us. This 
affection you must on your part keep warm, and I for mine will 
endeavour to increase it by every means in my power. About 
Pompey, I am carefully acting, and shall continue to act, as you 
advise. That my permission to you to stay longer is a welcome one, 
though I grieve at your absence and miss you exceedingly, I am yet 
partly glad. What you can be thinking of in sending for such people 
as Hippodamus and some others, I do not understand. There is not 
one of those fellows that won't expect a present from you equal 
to a suburban estate. However, there is no reason for your class- 
ing my friend Trebatius with them. I sent him to C«esar, and 
Caesar has done all I expected. If he has not done quite what 
he expected himself, I am not bound to make it up to him, and I 
in like manner free and absolve you from all claims on his part. 

1 14 CICERO 

Your remark, that you are a greater favourite with Caesar every 
day, is a source of undying satisfaction to me. As to Balbus, who, 
as you say, promotes that state of things, he is the apple of my eye. 
I am indeed glad that you and my friend Trebonius like each other. 
As to what you say about the military tribuneship, I, indeed, asked 
for it definitely for Curtius, and Caesar wrote back definitely to 
say that there was one at Curtius's service, and chided me for my 
modesty in making the request. If I have asked one for anyone 
else — as I told Oppius to write and tell Cxsar — 1 shall not be at 
all annoyed by a refusal, since those who pester me for letters are 
annoyed at a refusal from me. I like Curtius, as I have told him, 
not only because you asked me to do so, but from the character 
you gave of him; for from your letter I have gathered the zeal 
he shewed for my restoration. As for the British expedition, I 
conclude from your letter that we have no occasion either for 
fear or exultation. As to public affairs, about which you wish 
Tiro to write to you, I have written to you hitherto somewhat 
more carelessly than usual, because I knew that all events, small 
or great, were reported to Caesar. I have now answered your long- 
est letter. 

Now hear what I have to say to your small one. The first point 
is about Clodius's letter to Caesar. In that matter I approve of 
Caesar's policy, in not having given way to your request so far as 
to write a single word to that Fury. The next thing is about the 
speech of Calventius "Marius." I am surprised at your saying that 
you think I ought to answer it, particularly as, while no one is 
likely to read that speech, unless I write an answer to it, every 
schoolboy learns mine against him as an exercise. My books, all of 
which you are exp)ecting, I have begun, but I cannot finish them 
for some days yet. The sf)eeches for Scaurus and Plancius which 
you clamour for I have finished. The poem to Csesar, which I 
had begun, I have cut short. I will write what you ask me for, 
since your poetic springs are running dry, as soon as I have time. 

Now for the third letter. It is very pleasant and welcome news 
to hear from you that Balbus is soon coming to Rome, and so well 
accompanied! and will stay with me continuously till the 15th of 
May. As to your exhorting me in the same letter, as in many 


previous ones, to ambition and labour, I shall, of course, do as you 
say: but when am I to enjoy any real life? 

Your fourth letter reached me on the 13th of September, dated 
on the loth of August from Britain. In it there was nothing new 
except about your Erigona, and if I get that from Oppius I will 
write and tell you what I think of it. I have no doubt I shall like 
it. Oh, yes! I had almost forgotten to remark as to the man who, 
you say in your letter, had written to Caesar about the applause 
given to Milo — I am not unwilling that Caesar should think that 
it was as warm as possible. And in point of fact it was so, and yet 
that applause, which is given to him, seems in a certain sense to 
be given to me. 

I have also received a very old letter, but which was late in 
coming into my hands, in which you remind me about the temple 
of Tellus and the colonnade of Catulus. Both of these matters are 
being actively carried out. At the temple of Tellus I have even 
got your statue placed. So, again, as to your reminder about a 
suburban villa and gardens, I was never very keen for one, and 
now my town house has all the charm of such a pleasure-ground. 
On my arrival in Rome on the i8th of September I found the 
roof on your house finished: the part over the sitting-rooms, which 
you did not wish to have many gables, now slopes gracefully towards 
the roof of the lower colonnade. Our boy, in my absence, did 
not cease working with his rhetoric master. You have no reason 
for being anxious about his education, for you know his ability, 
and I see his application. Everything else I take it upon myself 
to guarantee, with full consciousness that I am bound to make it 

As yet there are three parties prosecuting Gabinius: first, 
L. Lentulus, son of the flamen, who has entered a prosecution for Use 
majeste; secondly, Tib. Nero, with good names at the back of his 
indictment; thirdly, C. Memmius the tribune in conjunction with 
L. Capito. He came to the walls of the city on the 19th of September, 
undignified and neglected to the last degree. But in the present 
state of the law courts I do not venture to be confident of anything. 
As Cato is unwell, he has not yet been formally indicted for extortion. 
Pompey is trying hard to persuade me to be reconciled to him, 

11 6 CICERO 

but as yet he has not succeeded at all, nor, if I retain a shred of 
liberty, will he succeed. I am very anxious for a letter from you. 
You say that you have been told that I was a party to the coalition 
of the consular candidates — it is a lie. The compacts made in that 
coalition, afterwards made public by Memmius, were of such a 
nature that no loyal man ought to have been a party to them; nor 
at the same time was it possible for me to be a party to a coalition 
from which Messalla was excluded, who is thoroughly satisfied 
with my conduct in every particular, as also, I think, is Memmius. 
To Domitius himself I have rendered many services which he 
desired and asked of me. I have put Scaurus under a heavy obliga- 
tion by my defence of him. It is as yet very uncertain both when 
the elections will be and who will be consuls. 

Just as I was folding up this epistle letter<arriers arrived from 
you and Cxsar (20th September) after a journey of twenty days. 
How anxious I was! How painfully I was affected by Caesar's 
most kind letter! But the kinder it was, the more sorrow did his 
loss occasion me. But to turn to your letter: To begin with, I 
reiterate my approval of your staying on, especially as, according 
to your account, you have consulted Caesar on the subject. I wonder 
that Oppius has anything to do with Publius, for I advised against 
it. Farther on in your letter you say that I am going to be made 
legatus to Pompey on the 13th of September: I have heard nothing 
about it, and I wrote to Caesar to tell him that neither Vibuilius 
nor Oppius had delivered his message to Pompey about my remain- 
ing at home. Why, I know not. However, it was I who restrained 
Oppius from doing so, because it was Vibuilius who should take 
the leading part in that matter: for with him Caesar had com- 
municated personally, with Oppius only by letter. I indeed can 
have no "second thoughts" in matters connected with Carsar. He 
comes next after you and our children in my regard, and not much 
after. I think I act in this with deliberate judgment, for I have by 
this time good cause for it, yet warm personal feeling no doubt 
does influence me also. 

Just as I had written these last words — which are by my own 
hand — your boy came in to dine with me, as PomfX)nia was dining 
out. He gave me your letter to read, which he had received shortly 


before — a truly Aristophanic mixture of jest and earnest, with which 
I was greatly charmed. He gave me also your second letter, in 
which you bid him cling to my side as a mentor. How delighted 
he was with those letters! And so was I. Nothing could be more 
attractive than that boy, nothing more affectionate to me! — This, 
to explain its being in another handwriting, I dictated to Tiro 
while at dinner. 

Your letter gratified Annalis very much, as shewing that you took 
an active interest in his concerns, and yet assisted him with exceed- 
ingly candid advice. Publius Servilius the elder, from a letter which 
he said he had received from Csesar, declares himself highly obliged 
to you for having spoken with the greatest kindness and earnestness 
of his devotion to Cxsar. After my return to Rome from Arpinum 
I was told that Hippodamus had started to join you. I cannot 
say that I was surprised at his having acted so discourteously as to 
start to join you without a letter from me: I only say this, that I 
was annoyed. For I had long resolved, from an expression in your 
letter, that if I had anything I wished conveyed to you with more 
than usual care, I should give it to him: for, in truth, into a letter 
like this, which I send you in an ordinary way, I usually put 
nothing that, if it fell into certain hands, might be a source of 
annoyance. I reserve myself for Minucius and Salvius and Labeo. 
Labeo will either be starting late or will stay here altogether. 
Hippodamus did not even ask me whether he could do anything 
for me. T. Penarius sends me a kind letter about you: says that 
he is exceedingly charmed with your literary pursuits, conversation, 
and above all by your dinners. He was always a favourite of mine, 
and I see a good deal of his brother. Wherefore continue, as you 
have begun, to admit the young man to your intimacy. 

From the fact of this letter having been in hand during many 
days, owing to the delay of the letterorriers, I have jotted down 
in it many various things at odd times, as, for instance, the follow- 
ing: Titus Anicius has mentioned to me more than once that he 
would not hesitate to buy a suburban property for you, if he found 
one. In these remarks of his I find two things surprising: first 
that when you write to him about buying a suburban property, 
you not only don't write to me to that effect, but write even in 


a contrary sense; and, secondly, that in writing to him you totally 
forget his letters which you shewed me at Tusculum, and as totally 
the rule of Epicharmus, "Notice how he has treated another": in 
fact, that you have quite forgotten, as I think, the lesson conveyed 
by the expression of his face, his conversation, and his spirit. But 
this is your concern. As to a suburban property, be sure to let me 
know your wishes, and at the same time take care that that fellow 
doesn't get you into trouble. What else have I to say? Anything? 
Yes, there is this: Gabinius entered the city by night on the 27th 
of September and to-day, at two o'clock, when he ought to have 
appeared on his trial for lese majeste, in accordance with the edict 
of C. Alfius, he was all but crushed to the earth by a great and 
unanimous demonstration of the popular hatred. Nothing could 
exceed his humiliating position. However, Piso comes next to him. 
So I think of introducing a marvellous episode into my second 
book — Apollo declaring in the council of the gods what sort of 
return that of the two commanders was to be, one of whom had 
lost, and the other sold his army. From Britain I have a letter of 
Caesar's dated the ist of September, which reached me on the 27th, 
satisfactory enough as far as the British expedition is concerned, 
in which, to prevent my wondering at not getting one from you, 
he tells me that you were not with him when he reached th3 coast. 
To that letter I made no reply, not even a formal congratulation, 
on account of his mourning. Many, many wishes, dear brother, for 
your health. 


To P. Lentulus Spinther (in Cilicia) 

Rome, October, 54 b.c. 

M. Cicero desires his warmest regards to P. Lentulus, imperator. 
Your letter was very gratifying to me, from which I gathered that 
you fully appreciated my devotion to you: for why use the word 
"kindness," when even the word "devotion" itself, with all its 
solemn and holy associations, seems too weak to express my obliga- 
tions to you? As for your saying that my services to you are 
gratefully accepted, it is you who in your overflowing affection 


make things, which cannot be omitted without criminal negUgence, 
appear deserving of even gratitude. However, my feelings towards 
you would have been much more fully known and conspicuous, 
if, during all this time that we have been separated, we had been 
together, and together at Rome. For precisely in what you declare 
your intention of doing — what no one is more capable of doing, 
and what I confidently look forward to from you — that is to say, 
in speaking in the senate, and in every department of public life 
and political activity, we should together have been in a very strong 
position (what my feelings and position are in regard to politics 
I will explain shortly, and will answer the questions you ask), 
and at any rate I should have found in you a supporter, at once 
most warmly attached and endowed with supreme wisdom, while 
in me you would have found an adviser, perhaps not the most unskil- 
ful in the world, and at least both faithful and devoted to your inter- 
ests. However, for your own sake, of course, I rejoice, as I am bound 
to do, that you have been greeted with the title of imperator, and are 
holding your province and victorious army after a successful cam- 
paign. But certainly, if you had been here, you would have enjoyed 
to a fuller extent and more directly the benefit of the services which 
I am bound to render you. Moreover, in taking vengeance on those 
whom you know in some cases to be your enemies, because you 
championed the cause of my recall, in others to be jealous of the 
splendid position and renown which that measure brought you, 
I should have done you yeoman's service as your associate. How- 
ever, that perpetual enemy of his own friends, who, in spite of 
having been honoured with the highest compliments on your part, 
has selected you of all people for the object of his impwtent and 
enfeebled violence, has saved me the trouble by punishing himself. 
For he has made attempts, the disclosure of which has left him 
without a shred, not only of political position, but even of freedom 
of action. And though I should have preferred that you should 
have gained your experience in my case alone, rather than in your 
own also, yet in the midst of my regret I am glad that you have 
learnt what the fidelity of mankind is worth, at no great cost to 
yourself, which I learnt at the price of excessive pain. And I think 
that I have now an opportunity presented me, while answering the 


questions you have addressed to me, of also explaining my entire 
position and view. You say in your letter that you have been in- 
formed that I have become reconciled to Carsar and Appius, and 
you add that you have no fault to find with that. But you express 
a wish to know what induced me to defend and compliment 
Vatinius. In order to make my explanation plainer I must go a 
little farther back in the statement of my policy and its grounds. 

Well, Lentulus! At first — after the success of your efforts for my 
recall — I looked upon myself as having been restored not alone to 
my friends, but to the Republic also; and seeing that I owed you 
an affection almost surpassing belief, and every kind of service, 
however great and rare, that could be bestowed on your person, I 
thought that to the Republic, which had much assisted you in 
restoring me, I at least was bound to entertain the feeling which 
I had in old times shewed merely from the duty incumbent on all 
citizens alike, and not as an obligation incurred by some special 
kindness to myself. That these were my sentiments I declared to 
the senate when you were consul, and you had yourself a full view 
of them in our conversations and discussions. Yet from the very 
first my feelings were hurt by many circumstances, when, on your 
mooting the question of the full restoration of my position, I de- 
tected the covert hatred of some and the equivocal attachment of 
others. For you received no support from either in regard to my 
monuments, or the illegal violence by which, in common with my 
brother, I had been driven from my house; nor, by heaven, did 
they shew the good will which I had expected in regard to those 
matters which, though necessary to me owing to the shipwreck 
of my fortune, were yet regarded by me as least valuable — I mean 
as to indemnifying me for my losses by decree of the senate. And 
though I saw all this — for it was not difficult to see — yet their 
present conduct did not affect me with so much bitterness as what 
they had done for me did with gratitude. And therefore, though 
according to your own assertion and testimony I was under very 
great obligation to Pomf)ey, and though I loved him not only for 
his kindness, but also from my own feelings, and, so to speak, from 
my unbroken admiration of him, nevertheless, without taking any 
account of his wishes, I abode by all my old opinions in p>olitics. 


With Pompey sitting in court, upon his having entered the city to 
give evidence in favour of Sestius, and when the witness Vatinius 
had asserted that, moved by the good fortune and success of Qesar, 
I had begun to be his friend, I said that I preferred the fortune of 
Bibulus, which he thought a humiUation, to the triumphs and 
victories of everybody else; and I said during the examination of 
the same witness, in another part of my speech, that the same men 
had prevented Bibulus from leaving his house as had forced me 
from mine: my whole cross-examination, indeed, was nothing but 
a denunciation of his tribuneship; and in it 1 spoke throughout 
with the greatest freedom and spirit about violence, neglect of 
omens, grants of royal titles. Nor, indeed, in the support of this 
view is it only of late that I have spoken: I have done so consistently 
on several occasions in the senate. Nay, even in the consulship 
of Marcellinus and Philippus, on the 5th of April the senate voted 
on my motion that the question of the Campanian land should be 
referred to a full meeting of the senate on the 15th of May. Could 
I more decidedly invade the stronghold of his policy, or shew more 
clearly that I forgot my own present interests, and remembered 
my former political career? On my delivery of this proposal a great 
impression was made on the minds not only of those who were 
bound to have been impressed, but also of those of whom I had 
never expected it. For, after this decree had passed in accordance 
with my motion, Pomp)ey, without shewing the least sign of being 
offended with me, started for Sardinia and Africa, and in the 
course of that journey visited Caesar at Luca. There Cassar com- 
plained a great deal about my motion, for he had already seen 
Crassus at Ravenna also, and had been irritated by him against me. 
It was well known that Pompey was much vexed at this, as I was 
told by others, but learnt most definitely from my brother. For 
when Pompey met him in Sardinia, a few days after leaving Luca, 
he said: "You are the very man I want to see; nothing could have 
happened more conveniently. Unless you speak very strongly to 
your brother Marcus, you will have to pay up what you guaranteed 
on his behalf." I need not go on. He grumbled a great deal: 
mentioned his own services to me: recalled what he had again and 
again said to my brother himself about the "acts" of Caesar, and 


what my brother had undertaken in regard to me; and called my 
brother himself to witness that what he had done in regard to my 
recall he had done with the consent of Carsar: and asked him to 
commend to me the latter's policy and claims, that I should not 
attack, even if I would not or could not support them. My brother 
having conveyed these remarks to me, and Pompey having, never- 
theless, sent VibuUius to me with a message, begging me not to 
commit myself on the question of the Campanian land till his 
return, I reconsidered my position and begged the state itself, as 
it were, to allow me, who had suffered and done so much for it, 
to fulfil the duty which gratitude to my benefactors and the pledge 
which my brother had given demanded, and to suffer one whom 
it had ever regarded as an honest citizen to shew himself an 
honest man. Moreover, in regard to all those motions and speeches 
of mine which appeared to be giving offence to Pompey, the re- 
marks of a particular set of men, whose names you must surely 
guess, kept on being reported to me; who, while in public affairs 
they were really in sympathy with my policy, and had always been 
so, yet said that they were glad that Pompey was dissatisfied with 
me, and that Cjesar would be very greatly exasperated against me. 
This in itself was vexatious to me: but much more so was the fact 
that they used, before my very eyes, so to embrace, fondle, make much 
of, and kiss my enemy — mine do I say? rather the enemy of the 
laws, of the law courts, of peace, of his country, of all loyal men! — 
that they did not indeed rouse my bile, for I have utterly lost all 
that, but imagined they did. In these circumstances, having, as 
far as is possible for human prudence, thoroughly examined my 
whole position, and having balanced the items of the account, I 
arrived at a final result of all my reflexions, which, as well as I can, 
I will now briefly put before you. 

If I had seen the Republic in the hands of bad or profligate citizens, 
as we know happened during the supremacy of Cinna, and on 
some other occasions, I should not under the pressure, I don't say 
of rewards, which are the last things to influence me, but even of 
danger, by which, after all, the bravest men are moved, have attached 
myself to their party, not even if their services to me had been of 
the very highest kind. As it is, seeing that the leading statesman 


in the Republic was Pompey, a man who had gained this power 
and renown by the most eminent services to the state and the most 
glorious achievements, and one of whose position I had been a 
supporter from my youth up, and in my prxtorship and consulship 
an active promoter also, and seeing that this same statesman had 
assisted me, in his own person by the weight of his influence and 
the expression of his opinion, and, in conjunction with you, by his 
counsels and zeal, and that he regarded my enemy as his own 
supreme enemy in the state — I did not think that I need fear the 
reproach of inconsistency, if in some of my senatorial votes I some- 
what changed my standpxiint, and contributed my zeal to the pro- 
motion of the dignity of a most distinguished man, and one to 
whom I am under the highest obligations. In this sentiment I had 
necessarily to include Carsar, as you see, for their policy and position 
were inseparably united. Here I was greatly influenced by two 
things — the old friendship which you know that I and my brother 
Quintus have had with Carsar, and his own kindness and liberaUty, 
of which we have recently had clear and unmistakable evidence 
both by his letters and his personal attentions. I was also strongly 
affected by the Republic itself, which appeared to me to demand, 
especially considering Cxsar's brilliant successes, that there should 
be no quarrel maintained with these men, and indeed to forbid it 
in the strongest manner possible. Moreover, while entertaining these 
feelings, I was above all shaken by the pledge which Pompey had 
given for me to Caesar, and my brother to Pompey. Besides, I was 
forced to take into consideration the state maxim so divinely ex- 
pressed by our master Plato — "Such as are the chief men in a 
republic, such are ever wont to be the other citizens." I called to 
mind that in my consulship, from the very ist of January, such a 
foundation was laid of encouragement for the senate, that no one 
ought to have been surprised that on the 5th of December there 
was so much spirit and such commanding influence in that house. 
I also remember that when I became a private citizen up to the 
consulship of Caesar and Bibulus, when the opinions expressed by 
me had great weight in the senate, the feeling among all the loyalists 
was invariable. Afterwards, while you were holding the province 
of hither Spain with imperium and the Republic had no genuine 


consuls, but mere hucksters of provinces, mere slaves and agents of 
sedition, an accident threw my head as an apple of discord into 
the midst of contending factions and civil broils. And in that hour 
of danger, though a unanimity was displayed on the part of the 
senate that was surprising, on the part of all Italy surpassing belief, 
and of all the loyalists unparalleled, in standing forth in my defence, 
I will not say what happened — for the blame attaches to many, 
and is of various shades of turpitude — I will only say briefly that 
it was not the rank and file, but the leaders, that played me false. 
And in this matter, though some blame does attach to those who 
failed to defend me, no less attaches to those who abandoned me: 
and if those who were frightened deserve reproach, if there are 
such, still more are those to be blamed who pretended to be fright- 
ened. At any rate, my policy is justly to be praised for refusing to 
allow my fellow citizens (preserved by me and ardently desiring 
to preserve me) to be exposed while bereft of leaders to armed slaves, 
and for preferring that it should be made manifest how much force 
there might be in the unanimity of the loyalists, if they had been 
permitted to champion my cause before I had fallen, when after 
that fall they had proved strong enough to raise me up again. And 
the real feelings of these men you not only had the {penetration 
to see, when bringing forward my case, but the power to encourage 
and keep alive. In promoting which measure — I will not merely 
not deny, but shall always remember also and gladly proclaim it 
— you found certain men of the highest rank more courageous in 
securing my restoration than they had been in preserving me from 
my fall: and, if they had chosen to maintain that frame of mind, 
they would have recovered their own commanding position along 
with my salvation. For when the spirit of the loyalists had been 
renewed by your consulship, and they had been roused from their 
dismay by the extreme firmness and rectitude of your official con- 
duct; when, above all, Pompey's support had been secured; and 
when Caesar, too, with all the prestige of his brilliant achievements, 
after being honoured with unique and unprecedented marks of dis- 
tinction and compliments by the senate, was now supporting the 
dignity of the house, there could have been no opportunity for a 
disloyal citizen of outraging the Republic. 


But now notice, I beg, what actually ensued. First of all, that 
intruder upon the women's rites, who had shewn no more respect 
for the Bona Dea than for his three sisters, secured immunity by 
the votes of those men who, when a tribune wished by a legal 
action to exact penalties from a seditious citizen by the agency of 
the loyalists, deprived the Republic of what would have been here- 
after a most splendid precedent for the punishment of sedition. 
And these same persons, in the case of the monument, which was 
not mine, indeed — for it was not erected from the proceeds of spoils 
won by me, and I had nothing to do with it beyond giving out 
the contract for its construction — well, they allowed this monument 
of the senate's to have branded upon it the name of a public enemy, 
and an inscription written in blood. That those men wished my 
safety rouses my liveliest gratitude, but I could have wished that 
they had not chosen to take my bare safety into consideration, like 
doctors, but, like trainers, my strength and complexion also! As 
it is, just as Apelles perfected the head and bust of his Venus with 
the most elaborate art, but left the rest of her body in the rough, 
so certain persons only took pains with my head, and left the rest 
of my body unfinished and unworked. Yet in this matter I have 
falsified the expectation, not only of the jealous, but also of the 
downright hostile, who formerly conceived a wrong opinion from 
the case of Quintus Metellus, son of Lucius — the most energetic and 
gallant man in the world, and in my opinion of surpassing courage 
and firmness — who, people say, was much cast down and dispirited 
after his return from exile. Now, in the first place, we are asked 
to believe that a man who accepted exile with entire willingness and 
remarkable cheerfulness, and never took any pains at all to get 
recalled, was crushed in spirit about an affair in which he had 
shewn more firmness and constancy than anyone else, even than 
the pre-eminent M. Scaurus himself! But, again, the account they 
had received, or rather the conjectures they were indulging in about 
him, they now transferred to me, imagining that I should be more 
than usually broken in spirit: whereas, in fact, the Republic was 
inspiring me with even greater courage than I had ever had before, 
by making it plain that I was the one citizen it could not do with- 
out; and by the fact that while a bill proposed by only one tribune 


had recalled Metellus, the whole state had joined as one man in 
recalling me — the senate leading the way, the whole o£ Italy follow- 
ing after, eight of the tribunes publishing the bill, a consul putting 
the question at the centuriate assembly, all orders and individuals 
pressing it on, in fact, with all the forces at its command. Nor is it 
the case that I afterwards made any pretension, or am making any 
at this day, which can justly offend anyone, even the most malev- 
olent: my only effort is that I may not fail either my friends or 
those more remotely connected with me in either active service, 
or counsel, or personal exertion. This course of life perhaps 
offends those who fix their eyes on the glitter and show of my 
professional position, but are unable to appreciate its anxieties and 

Again, they make no concealment of their dissatisfaction on the 
ground that in the speeches which I make in the senate in praise 
of Caesar I am departing from my old policy. But while giving 
explanations on the points which I put before you a short time ago, 
I will not keep till the last the following, which I have already 
touched upon. You will not find, my dear Lentulus, the sentiments 
of the loyalists the same as you left them — strengthened by my con- 
sulship, suffering relapse at intervals afterwards, crushed down 
before your consulship, revived by you: they have now been aban- 
doned by those whose duty it was to have maintained them: and 
this fact they, who in the old state of things as it existed in our day 
used to be called Optimates, not only declare by look and expression 
of countenance, by which a false pretence is easiest supported, but 
have proved again and again by their actual sympathies and votes. 
Accordingly, the entire view and aim of wise citizens, such as I wish 
both to be and to be reckoned, must needs have undergone a 
change. For that is the maxim of that same great Plato, whom I 
emphatically regard as my master: "Maintain a political controversy 
only so far as you can convince your fellow citizens of its justice: 
never offer violence to parent or fatherland." He, it is true, alleges 
this as his motive for having abstained from politics, because, having 
found the Athenian people all but in its dotage, and seeing that it 
could not be ruled by persuasion, or by anything short of compulsion, 
while he doubted the possibility of persuasion, he looked upon com- 


pulsion as criminal. My position was different in this: as the people 
was not in its dotage, nor the question of engaging in politics still 
an open one for me, I was bound hand and foot. Yet I rejoiced that 
I was permitted in one and the same cause to support a policy at 
once advantageous to myself and acceptable to every loyalist. An 
additional motive was Cicsar's memorable and almost superhuman 
kindness to myself and my brother, who thus would have deserved 
my support whatever he undertook; while as it is, considering his 
great success and his brilliant victories, he would seem, even if he 
had not behaved to me as he has, to claim a panegyric from me. For 
I would have you believe that, putting you aside, who were the 
authors of my recall, there is no one by whose good offices I would 
not only confess, but would even rejoice, to have been so much 

Having explained this matter to you, the questions you ask about 
Vatinius and Crassus are easy to answer. For, since you remark 
about Appius, as about Caesar, "that you have no faidt to find," I can 
only say that I am glad you approve my policy. But as to Vatinius, in 
the first place there had been in the interval a reconciliation effected 
through Pompey, immediately after his election to the prartorship, 
though I had, it is true, impugned his candidature in some very 
strong speeches in the senate, and yet not so much for the sake of 
attacking him as of defending and complimenting Cato. Again, later 
on, there followed a very pressing request from Carsar that I should 
undertake his defence. But my reason for testifying to his character 
I beg you will not ask, either in the case of this defendant or o£ 
others, lest I retaliate by asking you the same question when you 
come home: though I can do so even before you return: for remem- 
ber for whom you sent a certificate of character from the ends of the 
earth. However, don't be afraid, for those same persons are praised 
by myself, and will continue to be so. Yet, after all, there was also 
the motive spurring me on to undertake his defence, of which, dur- 
ing the trial, when I appeared for him, I remarked that I was doing 
just what the parasite in the Eu nuchas advised the captain to do: 

"As oft as she names Phacdria, you retort 
With Pamphila. If ever she suggest, 
'Do let US have in Phzdria to our revel:' 


Quoth you, 'And let us call on Pamphila 
To sing a song.' If she shall praise his looks, 
Do you praise hers to match them: and, in fine, 
Give tit for tat, that you may sting her soul." 

So I asked the jurors, since certain men of high rank, who, had also 
done me very great favours, were much enamoured of my enemy, 
and often under my very eyes in the senate now took him aside in 
grave consultation, now embraced him familiarly and cheerfully — 
since these men had their Publius, to grant me another Publius, in 
whose person I might repay a slight attack by a moderate retort. 
And, indeed, I am often as good as my word, with the applause of 
gods and men. So much for Vatinius. Now about Crassus. I thought 
I had done much to secure his gratitude in having, for the sake of the 
general harmony, wiped out by a kind of voluntary act of oblivion 
all his very serious injuries, when he suddenly undertook the defence 
of Gabinius, whom only a few days before he had attacked with the 
greatest bitterness. Nevertheless, I should have borne that, if he had 
done so without casting any offensive reflections on me. But on his 
attacking me, though I was only arguing and not inveighing against 
him, I fired up not only, I think, with the passion of the moment — for 
that perhaps would not have been so hot — but the smothered wrath 
at his many wrongs to me, of which I thought I had wholly got rid, 
having, unconsciously to myself, lingered in my soul, it suddenly 
shewed itself in full force. And it was at this precise time that 
certain persons (the same whom I frequently indicate by a sign or 
hint), while declaring that they had much enjoyed my outspoken 
style, and had never before fully realized that I was restored to the 
Republic in all my old character, and when my conduct of that 
controversy had gained me much credit outside the house also, began 
saying that they were glad both that he was now my enemy, and 
that those who were involved with him would never be my friends. 
So when their ill-natured remarks were reported to me by men of 
most respectable character, and when Pompey pressed me as he had 
never done before to be reconciled to Crassus, and Caesar wrote to 
say that he was exceedingly grieved at that quarrel, I took into con- 
sideration not only my circumstances, but my natural inclination: 
and Crassus, that our reconciliation might, as it were, be attested to 


the Roman people, started for his province, it might almost be said, 
from my hearth. For he himself named a day and dined with me in 
the suburban villa of my son-in-law Crassipes. On this account, as 
you say that you have been told, I supported his cause in the senate, 
which I had undertaken on Pompey's strong recommendation, as I 
was bound in honour to do. 

I have now told you with what motives I have supported each 
measure and cause, and what my (xisition is in politics as far as I 
take any part in them: and I would wish you to make sure of this — 
that I should have entertained the same sentiments, if I had been 
still perfectly uncommitted and free to choose. For I should not have 
thought it right to fight against such overwhelming power, nor to 
destroy the supremacy of the most distinguished citizens, even if it 
had been possible; nor, again, should I have thought myself bound to 
abide by the same view, when circumstances were changed and the 
feelings of the loyalists altered, but rather to bow to circumstances. 
For the persistence in the same view has never been regarded as a 
merit in men eminent for their guidance of the helm of state; but 
as in steering a ship one secret of the art is to run before the storm, 
even if you cannot make the harbour; yet, when you can do so by 
tacking about, it is folly to keep to the course you have begun rather 
than by changing it to arrive all the same at the destination you 
desire: so while we all ought in the administration of the state to 
keep always in view the object I have very frequently mentioned, 
peace combined with dignity, we are not bound always to use the 
same language, but to fix our eyes on the same object. Wherefore, as 
I laid down a little while ago, if I had had as free a hand as possible 
in everything, I should yet have been no other than I now am in 
politics. When, moreover, I am at once induced to adopt these senti- 
ments by the kindness of certain persons, and driven to do so by the 
injuries of others, I am quite content to think and speak about public 
affairs as I conceive best conduces to the interests both of myself and 
of the Republic. Moreover, I make this declaration the more openly 
and frequently, both because my brother Quintus is Caesar's legate, 
and because no word of mine, however trivial, to say nothing of any 
act, in support of C^sar has ever transpired, which he has not 
received with such marked gratitude as to make me look upon myself 


as closely bound to him. Accordingly, I have the advantage of his 
popularity, which you know to be very great, and his material 
resources, which you know to be immense, as though they were my 
own. Nor do I think that I could in any other way have frustrated 
the plots of unprincipled persons against me, unless 1 had now com- 
bined with those protections, which I have always possessed, the 
good will also of the men in power. I should, to the best of my belief, 
have followed this same line of policy even if 1 had had you here. 
For I well know the reasonableness and soberness of your judgment: 
I know your mind, while warmly attached to me, to be without a 
tinge of malevolence to others, but on the contrary as open and 
candid as it is great and lofty. I have seen certain persons conduct 
themselves towards you as you might have seen the same persons 
conduct themselves towards me. The same things that have annoyed 
me would certainly have annoyed you. But whenever I shall have 
the enjoyment of your presence, you will be the wise critic of all my 
plans: you who took thought for my safety will also do so for my 
dignity. Me, indeed, you will have as the partner and associate in all 
your actions, sentiments, wishes — in fact, in everything; nor shall I 
ever in all my life have any purpose so steadfastly before me as that 
you should rejoice more and more warmly every day that you did me 
such eminent service. 

As to your request that I would send you any books I have written 
since your departure, there are some speeches, which I will give 
Menocritus, not so very many, so don't be afraid! I have also written 
— for I am now rather withdrawing from oratory and returning to 
the gentler Muses, which now give me greater delight than any 
others, as they have done since my earliest youth — well, then, I have 
written in the Aristotelian style, at least that was my aim, three 
books in the form of a discussion in dialogue "On the Orator," 
which, I think, will be of some service to your Lentulus. For they 
differ a good deal from the current maxims, and embrace a discussion 
on the whole oratorical theory of the ancients, both that of Aristotle 
and Isocrates. I have also written in verse three books "On My Own 
Times," which I should have sent you some time ago, if I had 
thought they ought to be published — for they are witnesses, and will 
be eternal witnesses, of your services to me and of my affection — but 


I refrained because I was afraid, not of those who might think 
themselves attacked, for I have been very sparing and gentle in that 
respect, but of my benefactors, of whom it were an endless task to 
mention the whole list. Nevertheless, the books, such as they are, 
if I find anyone to whom I can safely commit them, I will take care 
to have conveyed to you: and as far as that part of my life and 
conduct is concerned, I submit it entirely to your judgment. All 
that I shall succeed in accomplishing in literature or in learning — my 
old favourite relaxations — I shall with the utmost cheerfulness place 
before the bar of your criticism, for you have always had a fondness 
for such things. As to what you say in your letter about your 
domestic affairs, and all you charge me to do, I am so attentive to 
them that I don't like being reminded, can scarcely bear, indeed, to 
be asked without a very painful feeling. As to your saying, in regard 
to Quintus's business, that you could not do anything last summer, 
because you were prevented by illness from crossing to Cilicia, but 
that you will now do everything in your power to settle it, I may 
tell you that the fact of the matter is that, if he can annex this 
property, my brother thinks that he will owe to you the consolidation 
of this ancestral estate. I should like you to write about all your 
affairs, and about the studies and training of your son Lentulus 
(whom I regard as mine also) as confidentially and as frequently as 
possible, and to believe that there never has been anyone either dearer 
or more congenial to another than you are to me, and that I will not 
only make you feel that to be the case, but will make all the world 
and posterity itself to the latest generation aware of it. 

Appius used some time back to repeat in conversation, and after- 
wards said openly, even in the senate, that if he were allowed to carry 
a law in the comitia curiata, he would draw lots with his colleague 
for their provinces; but if no curiatian law were passed, he would 
make an arrangement with his colleague and succeed you: that a 
curiatian law was a proper thing for a consul, but was not a necessity: 
that since he was in possession of a province by a decree of the senate, 
he should have imperium in virtue of the Cornelian law until such 
time as he entered the city. I don't know what your several con- 
nexions write to you on the subject: I understand that opinion varies. 
There are some who think that you can legally refuse to quit your 


province, because your successor is named without a curiatian law: 
some also hold that, even if you do quit it, you may leave someone 
behind you to conduct its government. For myself, I do not feel so 
certain about the point of law — although there is not much doubt 
even about that — as I do of this, that it is for your greatest honour, 
dignity, and independence, which I know you always value above 
everything, to hand over your province to a successor without any 
delay, especially as you cannot thwart his greediness without rousing 
suspicion of your own. I regard my duty as twofold — to let you 
know what I think, and to defend what you have done. 

P.S. — I had written the above when I received your letter about 
the publicani, to whom I could not but admire the justice of your 
conduct. I could have wished that you had been able by some lucky 
chance to avoid running counter to the interests and wishes of that 
order, whose honour you have always promoted. For my part, I 
shall not cease to defend your decrees: but you know the ways of that 
class of men; you are aware how bitterly hostile they were to the 
famous Q. Scjevola himself. However, I advise you to reconcile 
that order to yourself, or at least soften its feelings, if you can by any 
means do so. Though difficult, I think it is, nevertheless, not beyond 
the reach of your sagacity. 


To C. Trebatius Testa (in Gaul) 

Rome, November, 54 b.c. 

In the "Trojan Horse," just at the end, you remember the words, 
"Too late they learn wisdom." You, however, old man, were wise in 
time. Those first snappy letters of yours were foolish enough, and 

then ! I don't at all blame you for not being overcurious in 

regard to Britain. For the present, however, you seem to be in winter 
quarters somewhat short of warm clothing, and therefore not caring 
to stir out: 

"Not here and there, but everywhere. 
Be wise and ware: 
No sharper steel can warrior bear." 


If I had been by way of dining out, I would not have failed your 
friend Cn. Octavius; to whom, however, I did remark upon his 
repeated invitations, "Pray, who are you?" But, by Hercules, joking 
apart, he is a pretty fellow: I could have wished you had taken him 
with you! Let me know for certain what you are doing and whether 
you intend coming to Italy at all this winter. Balbus has assured 
me that you will be rich. Whether he speaks after the simple Roman 
fashion, meaning that you will be well supplied with money, or 
according to the Stoic dictum, that "all are rich who can enjoy the 
sky and the earth," I shall know hereafter. Those who come from 
your part accuse you of pride, because they say you won't answer 
men who put questions to you. However, there is one thing that 
will please you: they all agree in saying that there is no better lawyer 
than you at Samarobriva! 


To Atticus (at Rome) 
MiNTURNiE, May, 51 B.a 

Yes, I saw well enough what your feelings were as I parted from 
you; what mine were I am my own witness. This makes it all the 
more incumbent on you to prevent an additional decree being passed, 
so that this mutual regret of ours may not last more than a year. 
As to Annius Saturninus, your measures are excellent. As to the 
guarantee, pray, during your stay at Rome, give it yourself. You will 
find several guarantees on purchase, such as those of the estates of 
Memmius, or rather of Attilius. As to Oppius, that is exactly what I 
wished, and especially your having engaged to pay him the 800 
sestertia (about ^^6,400), which I am determined shall be paid in 
any case, even if I have to borrow to do so, rather than wait for the 
last day of getting in my own debts, 

I now come to that last line of your letter written crossways, in 
which you give me a word of caution about your sister. The facts 
of the matter are these: On arriving at my place at Arpinum, my 
brother came to see me, and our first subject of conversation was 
yourself, and we discussed it at great length. After this I brought the 
conversation round to what you and I had discussed at Tusculum, 


on the subject of your sister. I never saw anything so gentle and 
placable as my brother was on that occasion in regard to your sister: 
so much so, indeed, that if there had been any cause of quarrel on 
the score of expense, it was not apparent. So much for that day. Next 
day we started from Arpinum. A country festival caused Quintus to 
stop at Arcanum; I stopped at Aquinum; but we lunched at 
Arcanum. You know his property there. When we got there Quin- 
tus said, in the kindest manner, "Pomponia, do you ask the ladies in; 
I will invite the men." Nothing, as I thought, could be more court- 
eous, and that, too, not only in the actual words, but also in his 
intention and the expression of face. But she, in the hearing of us 
all, exclaimed, "I am only a stranger here!" The origin of that was, 
as I think, the fact that Statins had preceded us to look after the 
luncheon. Thereupon Quintus said to me, "There, that's what I 
have to put up with every day!" You will say, "Well, what does that 
amount to?" A great deal, and, indeed, she had irritated even me: 
her answer had been given with such unnecessary acrimony, both 
of word and look. I concealed my annoyance. We all took our 
places at table except her. However, Quintus sent her dishes from 
the table, which she declined. In short, I thought I never saw any- 
thing better-tempered than my brother, or crosser than your sister: 
and there were many particulars which I omit that raised my bile 
more than they did that of Quintus himself. I then went on to 
Aquinum; Quintus stopped at Arcanum, and joined me early the 
next day at Aquinum. He told me that she had refused to sleep with 
him, and when on the point of leaving, she behaved just as I had 
seen her. Need I say more? You may tell her herself that in my 
judgment she shewed a marked want of kindness on that day. I have 
told you this story at greater length, perhaps, than was necessary, to 
convince you that you, too, have something to do in the way of 
giving her instruction and advice. 

There only remains for me to beg you to complete all my commis- 
sions before leaving town; to give Pomptinus a push, and make him 
start; to let me know as soon as you have left town, and to believe 
that, by heaven, there is nothing I love and find more pleasure in 
than yourself. I said a most affectionate good-bye to that best of 
men, A. Torquatus, at Minturnac, to whom I wish you would remark. 


in the course of conversation, that I have mentioned him in my 


To M. PoRcius Cato (at Rome) 

CiLiciA, January, 50 bx. 

Your own immense prestige and my unvarying belief in your 
consummate virtue have convinced me of the great importance it is 
to me that you should be acquainted with what I have accomplished, 
and that you should not be ignorant of the equity and disinterested- 
ness with which I protected our allies and governed my province. 
For if you knew these facts, I thought I should with greater ease 
secure your approval of my wishes. 

Having entered my province on the last day of July, and seeing 
that the time of year made it necessary for me to make all haste to 
the army, I spent but two days at Laodicea, four at Apamea, three at 
Synnada, and the same at Philomelium. Having held largely 
attended assizes in these towns, I freed a great number of cities from 
very vexatious tributes, excessive interest, and fraudulent debt. Again, 
the army having before my arrival been broken up by something like 
a mutiny, and five cohorts — without a legate or a military tribune, 
and, in fact, actually without a single centurion — having taken up 
its quarters at Philomelium, while the rest of the army was in 
Lycaonia, I ordered my legate M. Anneius to bring those five cohorts 
to join the main army; and, having thus got the whole army together 
into one place, to pitch a camp at Iconium in Lycaonia. This order 
having been energetically executed by him, I arrived at the camp 
myself on the 24th of August, having meanwhile, in accordance with 
the decree of the senate, collected in the intervening days a strong 
body of reserve men, a very adequate force of cavalry, and a con- 
tingent of volunteers from the free peoples and allied sovereigns. 
While this was going on, and when, after reviewing the army, I 
had on the 28th of August begun my march to Cilicia, some legates 
sent to me by the sovereign of Commagene announced, with every 
sign of panic, yet not without some foundation, that the Parthians 
had entered Syria. On hearing this I was rendered very anxious both 


for Syria and my own province, and, in fact, for all the rest of Asia. 
Accordingly, I made up my mind that I must lead the army through 
the district of Cappadocia, which adjoins Cilicia. For if I had gone 
straight down into Cilicia, I could easily indeed have held Cilicia 
itself, owing to the natural strength of Mount Amanus — for there are 
only two defiles opening into Cilicia from Syria, both of which are 
capable of being closed by insignificant garrisons owing to their 
narrowness, nor can anything be imagined better fortified than is 
Cilicia on the Syrian side — but I was disturbed for Cappadocia, which 
is quite open on the Syrian side, and is surrounded by kings, who, 
even if they are our friends in secret, nevertheless do not venture to 
be openly hostile to the Parthians. Accordingly, I pitched my camp 
in the extreme south of Cappadocia at the town of Cybistra, not far 
from Mount Taurus, with the object at once of covering Cilicia, and 
of thwarting the designs of the neighbouring tribes by holding Cap- 
padocia. Meanwhile, in the midst of this serious commotion and 
anxious expectation of a very formidable war. King Deiotarus, who 
has with good reason been always highly honoured in your judgment 
and my own, as well as that of the senate — a man distinguished for 
his good will and loyalty to the Roman people, as well as for his 
eminent courage and wisdom — sent legates to tell me that he was on 
his way to my camp in full force. Much affected by his zeal and kind- 
ness, I sent him a letter of thanks, and urged him to hasten. How- 
ever, being detained at Cybistra five days while maturing my plan of 
campaign, I rescued King Ariobarzanes, whose safety had been in- 
trusted to me by the senate on your motion, from a plot that, to his 
surprise, had been formed against him: and I not only saved his life, 
but I took pains also to secure that his royal authority should be 
respected. Metras and Athenacus (the latter strongly commended to 
me by yourself), who had been exiled owing to the [persistent enmity 
of Queen Athenafs, I restored to a position of the highest influence 
and favour with the king. Then, as there was danger of serious 
hostilities arising in Cappadocia in case the priest, as it was thought 
likely that he would do, defended himself with arms — for he was a 
young man, well furnished with horse and foot and money, and 
relying on those all who desired political change of any sort — I 
contrived that he should leave the kingdom : and that the king, with- 


out civil war or an appeal to arms, with the full authority of the court 
thoroughly secured, should hold the kingdom with proper dignity. 
Meanwhile, I was informed by despatches and messengers from 
many sides, that the Parthians and Arabs had approached the town 
of Antioch in great force, and that a large body of their horsemen, 
which had crossed into Cilicia, had been cut to pieces by some 
squadrons of my cavalry and the praetorian cohort then on garrison 
duty at Epiphanea. Wherefore, seeing that the forces of the Parthians 
had turned their backs upon Cappadocia, and were not far from 
the frontiers of Cilicia, I led my army to Amanus with the longest 
forced marches I could. Arrived there, I learnt that the enemy had 
retired from Antioch, and that Bibulus was at Antioch. I thereupon 
informed Deiotarus, who was hurrying to join me with a large and 
strong body of horse and foot, and with all the forces he could muster, 
that I saw no reason for his leaving his own dominions, and that in 
case of any new event, I would immediately write and send to him. 
And as my intention in coming had been to relieve both provinces, 
should occasion arise, so now I proceeded to do what I had all along 
made up my mind was greatly to the interest of both provinces, 
namely, to reduce Amanus, and to remove from that mountain an 
eternal enemy. So I made a feint of retiring from the mountain 
and making for other parts of Cilicia : and having gone a day's march 
from Amanus and pitched a camp, on the 12th of October, towards 
evening, at Epiphanea, with my army in light marching order I 
effected such a night march, that by dawn on the 13th I was already 
ascending Amanus. Having formed the cohorts and auxiliaries into 
several columns of attack — I and my legate Quintus (my brother) 
commanding one, my legate C. Pomptinus another, and my legates 
M. Anneius and L. Tullius the rest — we surprised most of the inhabi- 
tants, who, being cut off from all retreat, were killed or taken 
prisoners. But Erana, which was more like a town than a village, and 
was the capital of Amanus, as also Sepyra and Commoris, which 
offered a determined and protracted resistance from before daybreak 
till four in the afternoon — Pomptinus being in command in that 
part of Amanus — we took, after killing a great number of the enemy, 
and stormed and set fire to several fortresses. After these operations 
we lay encamped for four days on the spurs of Amanus, near the 


Arte Alexandri, and all that time we devoted to the destruction of the 
remaining inhabitants of Amanus, and devastating their lands on 
that side of the mountain which belongs to my province. Having 
accomplished this, I led the army away to Pindenissus, a town of the 
Eleutherocilices. And since this town was situated on a very lofty 
and strongly fortified spot, and was inhabited by men who have 
never submitted even to the kings, and since they were of?ering 
harbourage to deserters, and were eagerly expecting the arrival of the 
Parthians, I thought it of importance to the prestige of the empire to 
suppress their audacity, in order that there might be less difficulty in 
breaking the spirits of all such as were anywhere disaffected to our 
rule. I encircled them with a stockade and trench: I beleaguered 
them with six forts and huge camps: I assaulted them by the aid of 
earth-works, pent-houses, and towers: and having employed nu- 
merous catapults and bowmen, with great personal labour, and 
without troubling the allies or costing them anything, I reduced 
them to such extremities that, after every region of their town had 
been battered down or fired, they surrendered to me on the fifty- 
seventh day. Their next neighbours were the people of Tebara, no less 
predatory and audacious: from them after the capture of Pindenissus 
I received hostages. I then dismissed the army to winter quarters; 
and I put my brother in command, with orders to station the men 
in villages that had either been captured or were disaffected. 

Well, now, I would have you feel convinced that, should a motion 
be brought before the senate on these matters, I shall consider that 
the highest possible compliment has been paid me, if you give your 
vote in favour of a mark of honour being bestowed upon me. And 
as to this, though I am aware that in such matters men of the most 
respectable character are accustomed to ask and to be asked, yet I 
think in your case that it is rather a reminder than a request which 
is called for from me. For it is you who have on very many occa- 
sions complimented me in votes which you delivered, who have 
praised me to the skies in conversation, in panegyric, in the most 
laudatory speeches in senate and public meeting: you are the man 
to whose words I ever attached such weight as to hold myself in 
possession of my utmost ambition, if your lips joined the chorus of 
my praise. It was you finally, as I recollect, who said, when voting 


against a supplicatio in honour of a certain illustrious and noble 
person, that you would have voted for it, if the motion had related 
to what he had done in the city as consul. It was you, too, who voted 
for granting me a supplicatio, though only a civilian, not as had been 
done in many instances, "for good services to the state," but, as I 
remember, "for having saved the state." I pass over your having 
shared the hatred I excited, the dangers I ran, all the storms that I 
have encountered, and your having been entirely ready to have shared 
them much more fully if I had allowed it; and finally your having 
regarded my enemy as your own; of whose death even — thus shew- 
ing me clearly how much you valued me — you manifested your 
approval by supporting the cause of Milo in the senate. On the other 
hand, I have borne a testimony to you, which I do not regard as 
constituting any claim on your gratitude, but as a frank expression of 
genuine opinion: for I did not confine myself to a silent admiration 
of your eminent virtues — who does not admire them? But in all 
forms of speech, whether in the senate or at the bar; in all kinds of 
writing, Greek or Latin; in fine, in all the various branches of my 
literary activity, I proclaimed your superiority not only to contempo- 
raries, but also to those of whom we have heard in history. 

You will ask, perhaps, why I place such value on this or that 
modicum of congratulation or compliment from the senate. I will 
be frank with you, as our common tastes and mutual good services, 
our close friendship, nay, the intimacy of our fathers demand. If 
there ever was anyone by natural inclination, and still more, I think, 
by reason and reflexion, averse from the empty praise and comments 
of the vulgar, I am certainly the man. Witness my consulship, in 
which, as in the rest of my life, I confess that I eagerly pursued the 
objects capable of producing true glory: mere glory for its own sake 
I never thought a subject for ambition. Accordingly, I not only passed 
over a province after the votes for its outfit had been taken, but alsp 
with it an almost certain hope of a triumph; and finally the priest- 
hood, though, as I think you will agree with me, I could have ob- 
tained it without much difficulty, I did not try to get. Yet after my 
unjust disgrace — always stigmatized by you as a disaster to the 
Republic, and rather an honour than a disaster to myself — I was 
anxious that some very signal marks of the approbation of the 


senate and Roman people should be put on record. Accordingly, in 
the first place, I did subsequently wish for the augurship, about which 
I had not troubled myself before; and the compliment usually paid 
by the senate in the case of success in war, though passed over by me 
in old times, I now think an object to be desired. That you should 
approve and support this wish of mine, in which you may trace a 
strong desire to heal the wounds inflicted upon me by my disgrace, 
though I a little while ago declared that I would not ask it, I now 
do earnestly ask of you: but only on condition that you shall not 
think my humble services paltry and insignificant, but of such a 
nature and importance, that many for far less signal successes have 
obtained the highest honours from the senate. I have, too, I think, 
noticed this — for you know how attentively I ever listen to you — 
that in granting or withholding honours you are accustomed to look 
not so much to the particular achievements as to the character, the 
principles and conduct of commanders. Well, if you apply this test 
to my case, you will find that, with a weak army, my strongest sup- 
port against the threat of a very formidable war has been my equity 
and purity of conduct. With these as my aids I accomplished what 
I never could have accomplished by any amount of legions: among 
the allies I have created the warmest devotion in place of the most 
extreme alienation; the most complete loyalty in place of the most 
dangerous disaffection; and their spirits fluttered by the prospect 
of change I have brought back to feelings of affection for the old 

But I have said too much of myself, especially to you, in whom 
singly the grievances of all our allies alike find a listener. You will 
learn the truth from those who think themselves restored to life by 
my administration. And while all with nearly one consent will 
praise me in your hearing as I most desire to be praised, so will your 
two chief client states — the island of Cyprus and the kingdom of 
Cappadocia — have something to say to you about me also. So, too, I 
think, will Deiotarus, who is attached to you with special warmth. 
Now, if these things are above the common run, and if in all ages it 
has been rarer to find men capable of conquering their own desires 
than capable of conquering an enemy's army, it is quite in harmony 
with your principles, when you find these rarer and more difficult 


virtues combined with success in war, to regard that success itself as 
more complete and glorious. 

I have only one last resource — philosophy : and to make her plead 
for me, as though I doubted the efScacy of a mere request : philoso- 
phy, the best friend I have ever had in all my life, the greatest gift 
which has been bestowed by the gods upon mankind. Yes! this 
common sympathy in tastes and studies — our inseparable devotion 
and attachment to which from boyhood have caused us to become 
almost unique examples of men bringing that true and ancient 
philosophy (which some regard as only the employment of leisure 
and idleness) down to the forum, the council chamber, and the very 
camp itself — pleads the cause of my glory with you: and I do not 
think a Cato can, with a good conscience, say her nay. Wherefore 
I would have you convince yourself that, if my despatch is made the 
ground of paying me this compliment with your concurrence, I 
shall consider that the dearest wish of my heart has been fulfilled 
owing at once to your influence and to your friendship. 


To Atticus (in Epirus) 
Laodicea, 22 February, 50 b.c. 

I RECEIVED your letter on the fifth day before the Terminalia (19th 
of February) at Laodicea. I was delighted to read it, for it teemed 
with affection, kindness, and an active and obliging temper. I will, 
therefore, answer it sentence by sentence — for such is your request — 
and I will not introduce an arrangement of my own, but will follow 
your order. 

You say that the last letter you had of mine was from Cybistra, 
dated 21st September, and you want to know which of yours I have 
received. Nearly all you mention, except the one that you say that 
you delivered to Lentulus's messengers at Equotuticus and Brundi- 
sium. Wherefore your industry has not been thrown away, as you 
fear, but has been exceedingly well laid out, if, that is to say, your 
object was to give me pleasure. For I have never been more delighted 
with anything. I am exceedingly glad that you approve of my self- 


restraint in the case of Appius, and of my independence even in the 
case of Brutus: and I had thought that it might be somewhat other- 
wise. For Appius, in the course of his journey, had sent me two or 
three rather querulous letters, because I rescinded some of his deci- 
sions. It is exactly as if a doctor, upon a patient having been placed 
under another doctor, should choose to be angry with the latter if he 
changed some of his prescriptions. Thus Appius, having treated 
the province on the system of depletion, bleeding, and removing 
everything he could, and having handed it over to me in the last 
state of exhaustion, he cannot bear seeing it treated by me on the 
nutritive system. Yet he is sometimes angry with me, at other times 
thanks me; for nothing I ever do is accompanied with any reflexion 
upon him. It is only the dissimilarity of my system that annoys him. 
For what could be a more striking difference — under his rule a 
province drained by charges for maintenance and by losses, under 
mine, not a penny exacted either from private persons or public 
bodies? Why speak of his prtejecti, staff, and legates? Or even of 
acts of plunder, licentiousness, and insult? While as things actually 
are, no private house, by Hercules, is governed with so much system, 
or on such strict principles, nor is so well disciplined, as is my whole 
province. Some of Appius's friends put a ridiculous construction on 
this, holding that I wish for a good reputation to set off his bad one, 
and act rightly, not for the sake of my own credit, but in order to 
cast a reflexion upon him. But if Appius, as Brutus's letter forwarded 
by you indicated, expresses gratitude to me, I am satisfied. Never- 
theless, this very day on which I write this, before dawn, I am think- 
ing of rescinding many of his inequitable appointments and decisions. 
I now come to Brutus, whose friendship I embraced with all 
possible earnestness on your advice. I had even begun to feel genuine 
affection for him — but here I pull myself up short, lest I should offend 
you: for don't imagine that there is anything I wish more than to 
fulfil his commissions, or that there is anything about which I have 
taken more trouble. Now he gave me a volume of commissions, and 
you had already spoken with me about the same matters. I have 
pushed them on with the greatest energy. To begin with, I put such 
pressure on Ariobarzanes, that he paid him the talents which he 
promised me. As long as the king was with me, the business was in 


excellent train: later on he began to be pressed by countless agents 
o£ Pompey. Now Pompey has by himself more influence than all the 
rest put together for many reasons, and especially because there is 
an idea that he is coming to undertake the Parthian war. However, 
even he has to put up with the following scale of payment: on every 
thirtieth day thirty-three Attic talents (£y,g2o), and that raised by 
special taxes: nor is it sufficient for the monthly interest. But our 
friend Gnseus is an easy creditor: he stands out of his capital, is con- 
tent with the interest, and even that not in full. The king neither 
pays anyone else, nor is capable of doing so: for he has no treasury, 
no regular income. He levies taxes after the method of Appius. 
They scarcely produce enough to satisfy Pompey 's interest. The king 
has two or three very rich friends, but they stick to their own as 
energetically as you or I. For my part, nevertheless, I do not cease 
sending letters asking, urging, chiding the king. Deiotarus also has 
informed me that he has sent emissaries to him on Brutus's business: 
that they have brought him back word that he has not got the money. 
And, by Hercules, I believe it is the case; nothing can be stripped 
cleaner than his kingdom, or be more needy than the king. Accord- 
ingly, I am thinking either of renouncing my guardianship, or, as 
Scacvola did on behalf of Glabrio, of stopping payment altogether — 
principal and interest alike. However, I have conferred the prefec- 
tures which I promised Brutus through you on M. Scaptius and L. 
Gavius, who were acting as Brutus's agents in the kingdom: for 
they were not carrying on business in my own province. You will 
remember that I made that condition, that he might have as many 
prefectures as he pleased, so long as it was not for a man in business. 
Accordingly, I have given him two others besides: but the men for 
whom he asked them had left the province. Now for the case of the 
Salaminians, which I see came upxDn you also as a novelty, as it did 
upon me. For Brutus never told me that the money was his own. 
Nay, I have his own document containing the words, "The Salamin- 
ians owe my friends M. Scaptius and P. Matinius a sum of money." 
He recommends them to me: he even adds, as though by way of a 
spur to me, that he has gone surety for them to a large amount. I 
had succeeded in arranging that they should pay with interest for six 
years at the rate of twelve per cent., and added yearly to the capital 


sum. But Scaptius demanded forty-eight per cent. I was afraid, if he 
got that, you yourself would cease to have any affection for me. For 
I should have receded from my own edict, and should have utterly 
ruined a state which was under the protection not only of Cato, but 
also of Brutus himself, and had been the recipient of favours from 
myself. When lo and behold! at this very juncture Scaptius comes 
down upon me with a letter from Brutus, stating that his own 
property is being imperilled — a fact that Brutus had never told either 
me or you. He also begged that I would confer a prefecture on 
Scaptius. That was the very reservation that I had made to you — 
"not to a man in business": and if to anyone, to such a man as that 
— no! For he has been a prcefectus to Appius, and had, in fact, 
had some squadrons of cavalry, with which he had kept the senate 
under so close a siege in their own council chamber at Salamis, 
that five senators died of starvation. Accordingly, the first day of 
my entering my province, Cyprian legates having already visited me 
at Ephesus, I sent orders for the cavalry to quit the island at once. 
For these reasons I believe Scaptius has written some unfavour- 
able remarks about me to Brutus. However, my feeling is this: 
if Brutus holds that I ought to have decided in favour of forty- 
eight per cent., though throughout my province I have only recog- 
nized twelve per cent., and had laid down that rule in my edict 
with the assent even of the most grasping money-lenders; if he 
complains of my refusal of a prefecture to a man in business, which 
I refused to our friend Torquatus in the case of your protege 
Lasnius, and to Pompey himself in the case of Sext. Statius, without 
offending either of them; if, finally, he is annoyed at my recall of 
the cavalry, I shall indeed feel some distress at his being angry 
with me, but much greater distress at finding him not to be the 
man that I had thought him. Thus much Scaptius will own — that 
he had the opportunity in my court of taking away with him 
the whole sum allowed by my edict. I will add a fact which 
I fear you may not approve. The interest ought to have ceased 
to run (I mean the interest allowed by my edict) but I induced 
the Salaminians to say nothing about that. They gave in to me, 
it is true, but what will become of them if Paullus comes here? 
However, I have granted all this in favour of Brutus, who writes 


very kind letters to you about me, but to me myself, even when 
he has a favour to ask, writes usually in a tone of hauteur, arrogance, 
and offensive superiority. You, however, I hope will write to him 
on this business in order that I may know how he takes what I 
have done. For you will tell me. I have, it is true, written you a 
full and careful account in a former letter, but I wished you clearly 
to understand that I had not forgotten what you had said to me 
in one of your letters: that if I brought home from this province 
nothing else except his good will, I should have done enough. 
By all means, since you will have it so: but I assume my dealings 
with him to be without breach of duty on my part. Well, then, by 
my decree the payment of the money to Statius is good at law: 
whether that is just you must judge for yourself — I will not appeal 
even to Cato. But don't think that I have cast your exhortations 
to the winds: they have sunk deeply into my mind. With tears 
in your eyes you urged me to be careful of my reputation. Have 
I ever got a letter from you without the same subject being men- 
tioned? So, then, let who will be angry, I will endure it: "for the 
right is on my side," especially as I have given six books as bail, 
so to speak, for my good conduct. I am very glad you like them, 
though in one f)oint — about Cn. Flavius, son of Annius — you ques- 
tion my history. He, it is true, did not live before the decemvirs, 
for he was curule ardile, an office created many years after the 
decemvirs. What good did he do, then, by publishing the Fasti ? 
It is supposed that the tablet containing them had been kept con- 
cealed up to a certain date, in order that information as to days for 
doing business might have to be sought from a small coterie. And 
indeed several of our authorities relate that a scribe named Cn. 
Flavius published the Fasti and composed forms of pleading — so 
don't imagine that I, or rather Africanus (for he is the spokesman), 
invented the fact. So you noticed the remark about the "action of an 
actor," did you? You suspect a malicious meaning: I wrote in all 

You say that Philotimus told you about my having been saluted 
imperator. But I feel sure that, as you are now in Epirus, you 
have received my own letters on the whole subject, one from 
Pindenissus after its capture, another from Laodicea, both delivered 


to your own messengers. On these events, for fear of accidents 
at sea, I sent a public despatch to Rome in duplicate by two different 

As to my Tullia, I agree with you, and I have written to her 
and to Terentia giving my consent. For you have already said 
in a previous letter to me, "and I could wish that you had returned 
to your old set." There was no occasion to alter the letter you sent 
by Memmius: for I much prefer to accept this man from Pontidia, 
than the other from Servilia. Wherefore take our friend Saufeius 
into council. He was always fond of me, and now I suppose all 
the more so as he is bound to have accepted Appius's affection for 
me with the rest of the property he has inherited. Appius often 
showed how much he valued me, and especially in the trial of Bursa. 
Indeed you will have relieved me of a serious anxiety. 

I don't like Furnius's proviso. For, in fact, there is no state of 
things that alarms me except just that of which he makes the 
only exception. But I should have written at great length to you 
on this subject if you had been at Rome. I don't wonder that you 
rest all your hope of peace on Pompey: I believe that is the truth, 
and in my opinion you must strike out your word "insincerity." 
If my arrangement of topics is somewhat random, blame yourself: 
for I am following your own haphazard order. 

My son and nephew are very fond of each other. They take their 
lessons and their exercise together; but as Isocrates said of Ephorus 
and Theopompus, the one wants the rein, the other the spur. I 
intend giving Quintus the toga virilis on the Liberalia. For his 
father commissioned me to do so. And I shall observe the day 
without taking intercalation into account. I am very fond of Diony- 
sius: the boys, however, say that he gets into mad passions. But after 
all there could not be a man of greater learning, purer character, or 
more attached to you and me. The praises you hear of Thermus 
and Silius are thoroughly deserved: they conduct themselves in 
the most honourable manner. You may say the same of M. Nonius, 
Bibulus, and myself, if you like. I only wish Scrofa had had an 
opportunity to do the same: for he is an excellent fellow. The rest 
don't do much honour to Cato's policy. Many thanks for commend- 
ing my case to Hortensius. As for Amianus, Dionysius thinks there 


is no hope. I haven't found a trace of Terentius. Mceragenes has 
certainly been killed. I made a progress through his district in 
which there was not a single living thing left. I didn't know about 
this, when I spoke to your man Democritus. I have ordered the 
service of Rhosian ware. But, hallo! what are you thinking of? 
You generally serve us up a dinner of herbs on fern-pattern plates, 
and the most sparkling of baskets: what am I to expect you to 
give on porcelain? I have ordered a horn for Phemius: one will 
be sure to turn up; I only hope he may play something worthy of it. 
There is a threat of a Parthian war. Cassius's despatch was empty 
brag: that of Bibulus had not arrived: when that is read I think 
the senate will at length be roused. I am myself in serious anxiety. 
If, as I hope, my government is not prolonged, I have only June 
and July to fear. May it be so! Bibulus will keep them in check for 
two months. What will happen to the man I leave in charge, 
especially if it is my brother? Or, again, what will happen to me, 
if I don't leave my province so soon? It is a great nuisance. How- 
ever, I have agreed with Deiotarus that he should join my camp in 
full force. He has thirty cohorts of four hundred men apiece, 
armed in the Roman fashion, and two thousand cavalry. That will 
be sufficient to hold out till the arrival of Pompey, who in a letter 
he writes to me indicates that the business will be put in his hands. 
The Parthians are wintering in a Roman province. Orodes is 
expected in person. In short, it is a serious matter. As to Bibulus's 
edict, there is nothing new, except the proviso of which you said 
in your letter, "that it reflected with excessive severity on our order." 
I, however, have a proviso in my own edict of equivalent force, but 
less openly expressed (derived from the Asiatic edict of Q. Mucins, 
son of Publius) — "provided that the agreement made is not such 
as cannot hold good in equity." I have followed Scaevola in many 
points, among others in this — which the Greeks regard as a charta 
of liberty — that Greeks are to decide controversies between each 
other according to their own laws. But my edict was shortened by 
my method of making a division, as I thought it well to pubHsh 
it under two heads: the first, exclusively applicable to a province, 
concerned borough accounts, debt, rate of interest, contracts, all 
regulations also referring to the publicani: the second, including 


what cannot conveniently be transacted without an edict, related to 
inheritances, ownership and sale, appointment of receivers, all which 
are by custom brought into court and settled in accordance with 
the edict: a third division, embracing the remaining departments 
of judicial business, I left unwritten. I gave out that in regard to 
that class of business I should accommodate my decisions to those 
made at Rome: I accordingly do so, and give general satisfaction. 
The Greeks, indeed, are jubilant because they have non-Roman 
jurors. "Yes," you will say, "a very poor kind." What does that 
matter.' They, at any rate, imagine themselves to have obtained 
"autonomy." You at Rome, I suppose, have men of high character 
in that capacity — Turpio the shoemaker and Vettius the broker! 
You seem to wish to know how I treat the publicani. I pet, 
indulge, compliment, and honour them: I contrive, however, that 
they oppress no one. The most surprising thing is that even Servilius 
maintained the rates of usury entered on their contracts. My Une 
is this: I name a day fairly distant, before which, if they have paid, 
I give out that I shall recognize only twelve per cent.: if they have 
not paid, the rate shall be according to the contract. The result is 
that the Greeks pay at a reasonable rate of interest, and the publicani 
are thoroughly satisfied by receiving in full measure what I men- 
tioned — complimentary speeches and frequent invitations. Need I 
say more? They are all on such terms with me that each thinks 
himself my most intimate friend. However, m^^v aurols — you know 
the rest. 

As to the statue of Africanus — what a mass of confusion! But 
that was just what interested me in your letter. Do you really mean 
it? Does the present Metellus Scipio not know that his great- 
grandfather was never censor? Why, the statue placed at a high 
elevation in the temple of Ops had no inscription except gens, 
while on the statue near the Hercules of Polycles there is also the 
inscription cens, and that this is the statue of the same man is 
proved by attitude, dress, ring, and the likeness itself. But, by 
Hercules, when I observed in the group of gilded equestrian statues, 
placed by the present Metellus on the Capitol, a statue of Africanus 
with the name of Serapio inscribed under it, I thought it a mistake 
of the workman. I now see that it is an error of Metellus's. What 


a shocking historical blunder! For that about Flavius and the Fasti, 
if it is a blunder, is one shared in by all, and you were quite right to 
raise the question. I followed the opinion which runs through nearly 
all historians, as is often the case with Greek writers. For example, 
do they not all say that Eupolis, the poet of the old comedy, was 
thrown into the sea by Alcibiades on his voyage to Sicily? Eratos- 
thenes disproves it: for he produces some plays exhibited by him 
after that date. Is that careful historian, Duris of Samos, laughed 
out of court because he, in common with many others, made this 
mistake? Has not, again, every writer affirmed that Zaleucus drew 
up a constitution for the Locrians? Are we on that account to 
regard Theophrastus as utterly discredited, because your favourite 
Timajus attacked his statement? But not to know that one's own 
great-grandfather was never censor is discreditable, especially as since 
his consulship no Cornelius was censor in his lifetime. 

As to what you say about Philotimus and the payment of the 
20,600 sestertia, I hear that Philotimus arrived in the Chersonese 
about the ist of January: but as yet I have not had a word from 
him. The balance due to me Camillus writes me word that he 
has received; I don't know how much it is, and I am anxious to 
know. However, we will talk of this later on, and with greater 
advantage, perhaps, when we meet? 

But, my dear Atticus, that sentence almost at the end of your letter 
gave me great uneasiness. For you say, "What else is there to say?" 
and then you go on to entreat me in most affectionate terms not 
to forget my vigilance, and to keep my eyes on what is going on. 
Have you heard anything about anyone? I am sure nothing of 
the sort has taken place. No, no, it can't be! It would never have 
eluded my notice, nor will it. Yet that reminder of yours, so care- 
fully worded, seems to suggest something. 

As to M. Octavius, I hereby again repeat that your answer was 
excellent: I could have wished it a little more positive still. For 
Caclius has sent me a freedman and a carefully written letter about 
some panthers and also a grant from the states. I have written back 
to say that, as to the latter, I am much vexed if my course of con- 
duct is still obscure, and if it is not known at Rome that not a 
penny has been exacted from my province except for the payment of 


debt; and I have explained to him that it is improper both for me 
to solicit the money and for him to receive it; and I have advised 
him (for I am really attached to him) that, after prosecuting others, 
he should be extraoreful as to his own conduct. As to the former 
request, I have said that it is inconsistent with my character that 
the people of Cibyra should hunt at the public expense while I am 

Lepta jumps for joy at your letter. It is indeed prettily written, and 
has placed me in a very agreeable light in his eyes. I am much 
obliged to your little daughter for so earnestly bidding you send 
me her love. It is very kind of Pilia also; but your daughter's 
kindness is the greater, because she sends the message to one she has 
never seen. Therefore pray give my love to both in return. The 
day on which your letter was dated, the last day of December, re- 
minded me pleasantly of that glorious oath of mine, which I have not 
forgotten. I was a civilian Magnus on that day. 

There's your letter completely answered! Not as you were good 
enough to ask, with "gold for bronze," but tit for tat. Oh, but 
here is another little note, which I will not leave unanswered. 
Lucceius, on my word, could get a good price for his Tusculan 
property, unless, perchance, his flute-player is a fixture (for that's 
his way), and I should like to know in what condition it is. Our 
friend Lentulus, I hear, has advertised everything for sale except his 
Tusculan property. I should like to see these men cleared of their 
embarrassments, Cestius also, and you may add Qelius, to all of 
whom the Une applies, 

"Ashamed to shrink and yet afraid to take." 

I suppose you have heard of Curio's plan for recalling Memmius. 
Of the debt due from Egnatius of Sidicinum I am not without some 
hope, though it is a feeble one. Pinarius, whom you recommended 
to me, is seriously ill, and is being very carefully looked after by 
Deiotarus. So there's the answer to your note also. 

Pray talk to me on paper as frequently as possible while I am 
at Laodicea, where I shall be up to the 15th of May: and when 
you reach Athens at any rate send me letter<arriers, for by that 
time we shall know about the business in the city and the arrange- 


ments as to the provinces, the settlement of all which has been fixed 
for March. 

But look here! Have you yet wrung out of Cxsar by the agency 
of Herodes the fifty Attic talents? In that matter you have, I 
hear, roused great wrath on the part of Pompey. For he thinks that 
you have snapped up money rightly his, and that Caesar will be 
no less lavish in his building at the Nemus Dianx. 

I was told all this by P. Vedius, a hare-brained fellow enough, but 
yet an intimate friend of Pompey 's. This Vedius came to meet me 
with two chariots, and a carriage and horses, and a sedan, and a 
large suite of servants, for which last, if Curio has carried his law, 
he will have to pay a toll of a hundred sestertii apiece. There was 
also in a chariot a dog-headed baboon, as well as some wild asses. 
I never saw a more extravagant fool. But the cream of the whole is 
this: He stayed at Laodicea with Pompeius Vindullus. There he 
deposited his properties when coming to see me. Meanwhile Vindul- 
lus dies, and his property is supposed to revert to Pompeius Magnus. 
Gains Vennonius comes to VinduUus's house: when, while putting 
a seal on all goods, he comes across the baggage of Vedius. In this 
are found five small portrait busts of married ladies, among which 
is one of the wife of your friend — "brute," indeed, to be intimate 
with such a fellow! and of the wife of Lepidus — as easy-going as 
his name to take this so calmly! I wanted you to know these histo- 
riettes by the way; for we have both a pretty taste in gossip. There 
is one other thing I should like you to turn over in your mind. I am 
told that Appius is building a propylcrum at Eleusis. Should I be 
fooUshly vain if I also built one at the Academy? "I think so," 
you will say. Well, then, write and tell me that that is your opinion. 
For myself, I am deeply attached to Athens itself. I would like some 
memorial of myself to exist. I loathe sham inscriptions on statues 
really representing other people. But settle it as you please, and 
be kind enough to inform me on what day the Roman mysteries 
fall, and how you have passed the winter. Take care of your health. 
Dated the 765th day since the battle of Leuara! 



M. PoRcius Cato to Cicero (in Cilicia) 
Rome, June, 50 bx. 

I GLADLY obey the call of the state and of our friendship, in 
rejoicing that your virtue, integrity, and energy, already known at 
home in a most important crisis, when you were a civilian, should 
be maintained abroad with the same painstaking care now that you 
have military command. Therefore what I could conscientiously 
do in setting forth in laudatory terms that the province had been 
defended by your wisdom; that the kingdom of Ariobarzanes, as 
well as the king himself, had been preserved; and that the feelings 
of the allies had been won back to loyalty to our empire — that I 
have done by speech and vote. That a thanksgiving was decreed 
I am glad, if you prefer our thanking the gods rather than giving 
you the credit for a success which has been in no respect left to 
chance, but has been secured for the Republic by your own eminent 
prudence and self<ontrol. But if you think a thanksgiving to be 
a presumption in favour of a triumph, and therefore prefer fortune 
having the credit rather than yourself, let me remind you that a 
triumph does not always follow a thanksgiving; and that it is an 
honour much more brilliant than a triumph for the senate to declare 
its opinion, that a province has been retained rather by the upright- 
ness and mildness of its governor, than by the strength of an army 
or the favour of heaven: and that is what I meant to express by 
my vote. And I write this to you at greater length than I usually do 
write, because I wish above all things that you should think of me 
as taking pains to convince you, both that I have wished for you 
what I believed to be for your highest honour, and am glad that 
you have got what you preferred to it. Farewell: continue to love 
me; and by the way you conduct your home-journey, secure to the 
allies and the Republic the advantages of your integrity and energy. 



To M. PoRcius Cato (at Rome) 

Asia, September, 50 bx. 

"Right glad am I to be praised" — says Hector, I think, in Nacvius 
— "by thee, reverend senior, who hast thyself been praised." For 
certainly praise is sweet that comes from those who themselves 
have lived in high repute. For myself, there is nothing I should 
not consider myself to have attained either by the congratulation 
contained in your letter, or the testimony borne to me in your 
senatorial speech: and it was at once the highest compliment and 
the greatest gratification to me, that you willingly conceded to 
friendship, what you transparently conceded to truth. And if, I 
don't say all, but if many were Catos in our state — in which it is 
a matter of wonder that there is even one — what triumphal chariot 
or laurel should I have compared with praise from you? For in 
regard to my feelings, and in view of the ideal honesty and subtilty 
of your judgment, nothing can be more complimentary than the 
speech of yours, which has been copied for me by my friends. But 
the reason of my wish, for I will not call it desire, I have explained 
to you in a former letter. And even if it does not appear to you to 
be entirely sufficient, it at any rate leads to this conclusion — not 
that the honour is one to excite excessive desire, but yet is one 
which, if offered by the senate, ought certainly not to be rejected. 
Now I hope that that House, considering the labours I have under- 
gone on behalf of the state, will not think me undeserving of an 
honour, especially one that has become a matter of usage. And 
if this turns out to be so, all I ask of you is that — to use your own 
most friendly words — since you have paid me what in your judg- 
ment is the highest compliment, you will still "be glad" if I have 
the good fortune to get what I myself have preferred. For I perceive 
that you have acted, felt, and written in this sense: and the facts 
themselves shew that the compliment paid me of a supplicatio 
was agreeable to you, since your name appears on the decree: for 
decrees of the senate of this nature are, I am aware, usually drawn 
out by the warmest friends of the man concerned in the honour. 


I shall, I hope, soon see you, and may it be in a better state of politi- 
cal affairs than my fears forebode! 


To Tiro (at PATitE) 
Brundisium, 26 November, 50 b.c. 

Cicero and his son greet Tiro warmly. We parted from you, as 
you know, on the 2nd of November. We arrived at Leucas on the 
6th of November, on the 7th at Actium. There we were detained 
till the 8th by a storm. Thence on the 9th we arrived at Corcyra 
after a charming voyage. At Corcyra we were detained by bad 
weather till the 15th. On the 16th we continued our voyage to 
Cassiope, a harbour of Corcyra, a distance of 120 stades. There we 
were detained by winds until the 22nd. Many of those who in 
this interval impatiently attempted the crossing suffered shipwreck. 
On the 22nd, after dinner, we weighed anchor. Thence with a 
very gentle south wind and a clear sky, in the course of that night 
and the next day we arrived in high spirits on Italian soil at 
Hydrus, and with the same wind next day — that is, the 24th of 
November — at 10 o'clock in the morning we reached Brundisium, 
and exactly at the same time as ourselves Terentia (who values you 
very highly) made her entrance into the town. On the 26th, at 
Brundisium, a slave of Cn. Plancius at length delivered to me the 
ardently expected letter from you, dated the 13th of November. 
It greatly Ughtened my anxiety: would that it had entirely removed 
it! However, the physician Asclapo positively asserts that you will 
shortly be well. What need is there for me at this time of day to 
exhort you to take every means to re-establish your health ? I know 
your good sense, temperate habits, and affection for me: I am sure 
you will do everything you can to join me as soon as possible. 
But though I wish this, I would not have you hurry yourself 
in any way. I could have wished you had shirked Lyso's concert, 
for fear of incurring a fourth fit of your seven-day fever. But 
since you have preferred to consult your politeness rather than 
your health, be careful for the futiu-e. I have sent orders to Curius 


for a douceur to be given to the physician, and that he should 
advance you whatever you want, engaging to pay the money to 
any agent he may name. I am leaving a horse and mule for you 
at Brundisium. 

At Rome I fear that the ist of January will be the beginning 
of serious disturbances. I shall take a moderate line in all respects. 
It only remains to beg and entreat you not to set sail rashly — 
seamen are wont to hurry things for their own profit: be cautious, 
my dear Tiro: you have a wide and difficult sea before you. If 
you can, start with Mescinius; he is usually cautious about a sea 
passage: if not, travel with some man of rank, whose position may 
give him influence over the ship-owner. If you take every pre- 
caution in this matter and present yourself to us safe and sound, 
I shall want nothing more of you. Good-bye, again and again, 
dear Tiro! I am writing with the greatest earnestness about you to 
the physician, to Curius, and to Lyso. Good-bye, and God bless you. 


iTo L. Papirius Pi€Tus (at Naples) 

TuscuLUM, July, 46 b.c. 

I WAS charmed with your letter, in which, first of all, what I 
loved was the tenderness which prompted you to write, in alarm 
lest Silius should by his news have caused me any anxiety. About 
this news, not only had you written to me before — in fact twice, 
one letter being a duplicate of the other — shewing me clearly that 
you were upset, but I also had answered you in full detail, in order 
that I might, as far as such a business and such a crisis admitted, 
free you from your anxiety, or at any rate alleviate it. But since 
you shew in your last also how anxious you are about that matter 
— make up your mind to this, my dear Pxtus: that whatever could 
possibly be accomplished by art — for it is not enough nowadays to 
contend with mere prudence, a sort of system must be elaborated 
— however, whatever could be done or effected towards winning 
and securing the good will of those men I have done, and not, I 
think, in vain. For I receive such attentions, such politenesses from 


all Gesar's favourites as make me believe myself beloved by them. 
For, though genuine love is not easily distinguished from feigned, 
unless some crisis occurs of a kind to test faithful affection by its 
danger, as gold in the fire, there are other indications of a general 
nature. But I only employ one proof to convince me that I am 
loved from the heart and in sincerity — namely, that my fortune 
and theirs is of such a kind as to preclude any motive on their 
part for pretending. In regard, again, to the man who now possesses 
all power, I see no reason for my being alarmed: except the fact 
that, once depart from law, everything is uncertain; and that nothing 
can be guaranteed as to the future which depends on another man's 
will, not to say caprice. Be that as it may, personally his feelings 
have in no respect been wounded by me. For in that particular 
point I have exhibited the greatest self-control. For, as in old times 
I used to reckon that to speak without reserve was a privilege of 
mine, since to my exertions the existence of liberty in the state was 
owing, so, now that that is lost, I think it is my duty to say nothing 
calculated to offend either his wishes or those of his favourites. 
But if I want to avoid the credit of certain keen or witty epigrams, 
I must entirely abjure a reputation for genius, which I would not 
refuse to do, if I could. But after all Caesar himself has a very keen 
critical faculty, and, just as your cousin Servius — whom I consider 
to have been a most accomplished man of letters — had no difficulty 
in saying: "This verse is not Plautus's, this is — " because he had 
acquired a sensitive ear by dint of classifying the various styles of 
poets and habitual reading, so I am told that Cxsar, having now 
completed his volumes of bons mots, if anything is brought to him 
as mine, which is not so, habitually rejects it. This he now does 
all the more, because his intimates are in my company almost every 
day. Now in the course of our discursive talk many remarks are 
let fall, which perhaps at the time of my making them seem to them 
wanting neither in literary flavour nor in piquancy. These are 
conveyed to him along with the other news of the day: for so 
he himself directed. Thus it comes about that if he is told of 
anything besides about me, he considers that he ought not to listen 
to it. Wherefore I have no need of your (Enomaus, though your 
quotation of Accius's verses was very much on the spot. But what 


is this jealousy, or what have I now of which anyone can be jealous? 
But suppose the worst. I find that the philosophers, who alone in 
my view grasp the true nature of virtue, hold that the wise man 
does not pledge himself against anything except doing wrong; and 
of this I consider myself clear in two ways, first in that my views 
were almost absolutely correct; and second because, when I found 
that we had not sufficient material force to maintain them, I was 
against a trial of strength with the stronger party. Therefore, so 
far as the duty of a good citizen is concerned, I am certainly not 
open to reproach. What remains is that I should not say or do 
anything foolish or rash against the men in power: that too, I think, 
is the part of the wise man. As to the rest — what this or that man 
may say that I said, or the light in which he views it, or the 
amount of good faith with which those who continually seek me 
out and pay me attention may be acting — for these things I cannot 
be responsible. The result is that I console myself with the con- 
sciousness of my uprightness in the past and my moderation in the 
present, and apply that simile of Accius's not to jealousy, but to 
fortune, which I hold — as being inconstant and frail — ought to be 
beaten back by a strong and manly soul, as a wave is by a rock. For, 
considering that Greek history is full of examples of how the 
wisest men endured tyrannies either at Athens or Syracuse, when, 
though their countries were enslaved, they themselves in a certain 
sense remained free — am I to believe that I cannot so maintain my 
position as not to hurt anyone's feelings and yet not blast my own 

I now come to your jests, since as an afterpiece to Accius's 
CEnomaus, you have brought on the stage, not, as was his wont, an 
Atellan play, but, according to the present fashion, a mime. What's 
all this about a pilot-fish, a denarius, and a dish of salt fish and 
cheese? In my old easy-going days I put up with that sort of thing: 
but times are changed. Hirtius and Dolabella are my pupils in rheto- 
ric, but my masters in the art of dining. For I think you must have 
heard, if you really get all news, that their practice is to declaim 
at my house, and mine to dine at theirs. Now it is no use your 
making an affidavit of insolvency to me: for when you had some 
property, petty profits used to keep you a little too close to business; 


but as things are now, seeing that you are losing money so cheer- 
fully, all you have to do, when entertaining me, is to regard your- 
self as accepting a "composition"; and even that loss is less annoying 
when it comes from a friend than from a debtor. Yet, after all, 
I don't require dinners superfluous in quantity: only let what there 
is be first-rate in quality and recherche. I remember you used to 
tell me stories of Phamea's dinner. Let yours be earlier, but in 
other respects like that. But if you persist in bringing me back to 
a dinner like your mother's, I should put up with that also. For 
I should like to see the man who had the face to put on the table 
for me what you describe, or even a polypus — looking as red as 
lupiter Miniatus. Believe me, you won't dare. Before I arrive the 
fame of my new magnificence will reach you: and you will be 
awestruck at it. Yet it is no use building any hope on your hors 
d'auvre. I have quite aboUshed that: for in old times I found my 
appetite spoilt by your olives and Lucanian sausages. But why all 
this talk? Let me only get to you. By all means — for I wish to 
wif)e away all fear from your heart — go back to your old cheese- 
and-sardine dish. The only expense I shall cause you will be 
that you will have to have the bath heated. All the rest according 
to my regular habits. What I have just been saying was all a joke. 

As to Selicius's villa, you have managed the business carefully 
and written most wittily. So I think I won't buy. For there is 
enough salt and not enough savour. 


To L. Papirius PiETus (at Naples) 
TuscuLUM, July, 46 b.c. 

Being quite at leisure in my Tusculan villa, because I had sent 
my pupils to meet him, that they might at the same time present 
me in as favourable a light as possible to their friend, I received 
your most delightful letter, from which I learnt that you approved 
my idea of having begun — now that legal proceedings are abolished 
and my old supremacy in the forum is lost — to keep a kind of 
school, just as Dionysius, when expelled from Syracuse, is said 
to have opened a school at Corinth. In short, I too am delighted 


with the idea, for I secure many advantages. First and foremost, 
I am strengthening my position in view of the present crisis, and 
that is of primary importance at this time. How much that amounts 
to I don't know: I only see that as at present advised I prefer no 
one's poUcy to this, unless, of course, it had been better to have 
died. In one's own bed, I confess it might have been, but that 
did not occur: and as to the field of battle, I was not there. The 
rest indeed — Pompey, your friend Lentulus, Afranius — perished in- 
gloriously. But, it may be said, Cato died a noble death. Well, 
that at any rate is in our power when we will: let us only do our 
best to prevent its being as necessary to us as it was to him. That 
is what I am doing. So that is the first thing I had to say. The 
next is this: I am improving, in the first place in health, which I 
had lost from giving up all exercise of my lungs. In the second 
place, my oratorical faculty, such as it was, would have completely 
dried up, had I not gone back to these exercises. The last thing I 
have to say, which I rather think you will consider most important 
of all, is this: I have now demolished more peacocks than you have 
young pigeons! You there revel in Haterian law-sauce, I here in 
Hirtian hot sauce. Come then, if you are half a man, and learn 
from me the maxims which you seek: yet it is a case of "a pig 
teaching Minerva." But it will be my business to see to that: as 
for you, if you can't find purchasers for your foreclosures and so 
fill your pot with denarii, back you must come to Rome. It is better 
to die of indigestion here, than of starvation there. I see you have 
lost money: I hope these friends of yours have done the same. You 
are a ruined man if you don't look out. You may possibly get to 
Rome on the only mule that you say you have left, since you have 
eaten up your pack horse. Your seat in the school, as second master, 
will be next to mine: the honour of a cushion will come by and by. 


To L. Papirius PiETUs (at Naples) 
Rome, August, 46 b.c. 

I WAS doubly charmed by your letter, first because it made me 
laugh myself, and secondly because I saw that you could still laugh. 


Nor did I in the least object to being overwhelmed with your shafts 
of ridicule, as though I were a light skirmisher in the war of wits. 
What I am vexed at is that I have not been able, as I intended, to 
run over to see you: for you would not have had a mere guest, 
but a brother-in-arms. And such a hero! not the man whom you 
used to do for by the hors d'auvre. I now bring an unimpaired 
appetite to the egg, and so the fight is maintained right up to the 
roast veal. The compliments you used to pay me in old times — 
"What a contented person!" "What an easy guest to entertain!" — 
are things of the past. All my anxiety about the good of the state, 
all meditating of speeches to be delivered in the senate, all getting 
up of briefs I have cast to the winds. I have thrown myself into 
the camp of my old enemy Epicurus — not, however, with a view 
to the extravagance of the present day, but to that refined splendour 
of yours — I mean your old style when you had money to spend 
(though you never had more landed estate). Therefore prepare! 
You have to deal with a man, who not only has a large appetite, 
but who also knows a thing or two. You are aware of the extrava- 
gance of your bourgeois gentilhomme. You must forget all your 
little baskets and your omelettes. I am now so far advanced in the 
art that I frequently venture to ask your friend Verrius and Camillus 
to dinner — what dandies! how fastidious! But think of my audacity: 
I even gave Hirtius a dinner, without a peacock however. In that 
dinner my cook could not imitate him in anything but the hot sauce. 
So this is my way of life nowadays: in the morning I receive 
not only a large number of "loyalists," who, however, look gloomy 
enough, but also our exultant conquerors here, who in my case are 
quite prodigal in polite and affectionate attentions. When the stream 
of morning callers has ebbed, I wrap myself up in my books, either 
writing or reading. There are also some visitors who listen to my 
discourses under the belief of my being a man of learning, because 
I am a trifle more learned than themselves. After that all my time 
is given to my bodily comfort. I have mourned for my country 
more deeply and longer than any mother for her only son. But take 
care, if you love me, to keep your health, lest I should take advantage 
of your being laid up to eat you out of house and home. For I am 
resolved not to spare you even when you are ilL 



To AuLus C^ciNA (in Exile) 
Rome, September, 46 b.c. 

I AM afraid you may think me remiss in my attentions to you, 
which, in view of our close union resulting from many mutual 
services and kindred tastes, ought never to be lacking. In spite of 
that I fear you do find me wanting in the matter of writing. The 
fact is, I would have sent you a letter long ago and on frequent 
occasions, had I not, from expecting day after day to have some 
better news for you, wished to fill my letter with congratulation 
rather than with exhortations to courage. As it is, I shall shortly, 
I hope, have to congratulate you: and so I put off that subject for 
a letter to another time. But in this letter I think that your courage 
— which I am told and hof)€ is not at all shaken — ought to be 
repeatedly braced by the authority of a man, who, if not the wisest 
in the world, is yet the most devoted to you: and that not with 
such words as I should use to console one utterly crushed and 
bereft of all hope of restoration, but as to one of whose rehabilitation 
I have no more doubt than I remember that you had of mine. For 
when those men had driven me from the Republic, who thought 
that it could not fall while I was on my feet, I remember hearing 
from many visitors from Asia, in which country you then were, 
that you were emphatic as to my glorious and rapid restoration. 
If that system, so to speak, of Tuscan augury which you had in- 
herited from your noble and excellent father did not deceive you, 
neither will our f)ower of divination deceive me; which I have 
acquired from the writings and maxims of the greatest savants, 
and, as you know, by a very diligent study of their teaching, as 
well as by an extensive experience in managing public business, 
and from the great vicissitudes of fortune which I have encountered. 
And this divination I am the more inclined to trust, from the 
fact that it never once deceived me in the late troubles, in spite of 
their obscurity and confusion. I would have told you what events 
I foretold, were I not afraid to be thought to be making up a story 
after the event. Yet, after all, I have numberless witnesses to the 


fact that I warned Pompey not to form a union with Qcsar, and 
afterwards not to sever it. By this union I saw that the power 
of the senate would be broken, by its severance a civil war be 
provoked. And yet I was very intimate with Carsar, and had a 
very great regard for Pompey, but my advice was at once loyal to 
Pompey and in the best interests of both alike. My other predictions 
I pass over; for I would not have Caesar think that I gave Pompey 
advice, by which, if he had followed it, Czsar himself would have 
now been a man of illustrious character in the state indeed, and 
the first man in it, but yet not in possession of the great power 
he now wields. I gave it as my opinion that he should go to Spain; 
and if he had done so, there would have been no civil war at all. 
That Caesar should be allowed to stand for the consulship in his 
absence I did not so much contend to be constitutional, as that, 
since the law had been passed by the people at the instance of 
Pompey himself when consul, it should be done. The pretext for 
hostilities was given. What advice or remonstrance did I omit, when 
urging that any peace, even the most inequitable, should be preferred 
to the most righteous war .'' My advice was overruled, not so much 
by Pompey — for he was affected by it — as by those who, relying 
on him as a military leader, thought that a victory in that war would 
be highly conducive to their private interests and personal ambi- 
tions. The war was begun without my taking any active part in 
it; it was forcibly removed from Italy, while I remained there as 
long as I could. But honour had greater weight with me than fear: 
I had scruples about faiUng to support Pompey's safety, when on 
a certain occasion he had not failed to support mine. Accordingly, 
overpowered by a feeling of duty, or by what the loyalists would 
say, or by a regard for my honour — whichever you please — like 
Amphiaraus in the play, I went deliberately, and fully aware of 
what I was doing, "to ruin full displayed before my eyes." In this 
war there was not a single disaster that I did not foretell. There- 
fore, since, after the manner of augurs and astrologers, I too, as 
a state augur, have by my previous predictions established the credit 
of my prophetic power and knowledge of divination in your eyes, my 
prediction will justly claim to be believed. Well, then, the prophecy 
I now give you does not rest on the flight of a bird nor the note 


of a bird of good omen on the left — according to the system of 
our augural college — nor on the normal and audible pattering of 
the corn of the sacred chickens. I have other signs to note; and 
if they are not more infallible than those, yet after all they are less 
obscure or misleading. Now omens as to the future are observed 
by me in what I may call a twofold method: the one I deduce from 
Ca!sar himself, the other from the nature and complexion of the 
political situation. Cesar's characteristics are these: a disposition 
naturally placable and clement — as delineated in your brilliant book 
of "Grievances" — and a great liking also for superior talent, such as 
your own. Besides this, he is relenting at the expressed wishes of a 
large number of your friends, which are well-grounded and inspired 
by affection, not hollow and self-seeking. Under this head the unani- 
mous feeling of Etruria will have great influence on him. 

Why, then — you may ask — have these things as yet had no effect.? 
Why, because he thinks if he grants you yours, he cannot resist 
the applications of numerous petitioners with whom to all appear- 
ance he has juster grounds for anger. "What hope, then," you will 
say, "from an angry man?" Why, he knows very well that he will 
draw deep draughts of praise from the same fountain, from which 
he has been already — though sparingly — bespattered. Lastly, he is 
a man very acute and farseeing: he knows very well that a man 
like you — far and away the greatest noble in an important district 
of Italy, and in the state at large the equal of anyone of your 
generation, however eminent, whether in ability or popularity or 
reputation among the Roman people — cannot much longer be de- 
barred from taking part in public affairs. He will be unwilling 
that you should, as you would sooner or later, have time to thank 
for this rather than his favour. 

So much for Caesar. Now I will speak of the nature of the actual 
situation. There is no one so bitterly opposed to the cause, which 
Pompey undertook with better intentions than provisions, as to 
venture to call us bad citizens or dishonest men. On this head I 
am always struck with astonishment at Carsar's sobriety, fairness, 
and wisdom. He never speaks of Pompey except in the most re- 
spectful terms. "But," you will say, "in regard to him as a public 
man his actions have often been bitter enough." Those were acts 


of war and victory, not of Caesar. But see with what open arms 
he has received us! Cassias he has made his legate; Brutus governor 
of Gaul; Sulpicius of Greece; Marcellus, with whom he was more 
angry than with anyone, he has restored with the utmost considera- 
tion for his rank. To what, then, does all this tend ? The nature of 
things and of the political situation will not suffer, nor will any con- 
stitutional theory — whether it remain as it is or is changed — permit, 
first, that the civil and personal position of all should not be alike 
when the merits of their cases are the same; and, secondly, that good 
men and good citizens of unblemished character should not return 
to a state, into which so many have returned after having been 
condemned of atrocious crimes. 

That is my prediction. If I had felt any doubt about it I would 
not have employed it in preference to a consolation which would 
have easily enabled me to support a man of spirit. It is this: If 
you had taken up arms for the Republic — for so you then thought 
— with the full assurance of victory, you would not deserve sp)ecial 
commendation. But if, in view of the uncertainty attaching to all 
wars, you had taken into consideration the possibility of our being 
beaten, you ought not, while fully prepared to face success, to be 
yet utterly unable to endure failure. I would have urged also what 
a consolation the consciousness of your action, what a delightful 
distraction in adversity, literature ought to be. I would have re- 
called to your mind the signal disasters not only of men of old 
times, but of those of our own day also, whether they were your 
leaders or your comrades. I would even have named many cases 
of illustrious foreigners: for the recollection of what I may call a 
common law and of the conditions of human existence softens grief. 
I would also have explained the nature of our life here in Rome, 
how bewildering the disorder, how universal the chaos: for it must 
needs cause less regret to be absent from a state in disruption, than 
from one well-ordered. But there is no occasion for anything of 
this sort. I shall soon see you, as I hope, or rather as I clearly per- 
ceive, in enjoyment of your civil rights. Meanwhile, to you in your 
absence, as also to your son who is here — the express image of your 
soul and person, and a man of unsurpassable firmness and excellence 
— I have long ere this both promised and tendered practically my 


zeal, duty, exertions, and laix)urs: all the more so now that Caesar 
daily receives me with more open arms, while his intimate friends 
distinguish me above everyone. Any influence or favour I may gain 
with him I will employ in your service. Be sure, for your part, to 
support yourself not only with courage, but also with the brightest 


Servius Sulpicius to Cicero (at Astura) 

Athens, March, 45 b.c. 

When I received the news of your daughter Tullia's death, I 
was indeed as much grieved and distressed as I was bound to be, 
and looked upon it as a calamity in which I shared. For, if I had 
been at home, I should not have failed to be at your side, and should 
have made my sorrow plain to you face to face. That kind of 
consolation involves much distress and pain, because the relations 
and friends, whose part it is to offer it, are themselves overcome by 
an equal sorrow. They cannot attempt it without many tears, so 
that they seem to require consolation themselves rather than to be 
able to afford it to others. Still I have decided to set down briefly 
for your benefit such thoughts as have occurred to my mind, not 
because I suppose them to be unknown to you, but because your 
sorrow may perhaps hinder you from being so keenly alive to them. 

Why is it that a private grief should agitate you so deeply? Think 
how fortune has hitherto dealt with us. Reflect that we have had 
snatched from us what ought to be no less dear to human beings 
than their children — country, honour, rank, every political dis- 
tinction. What additional wound to your feelings could be inflicted 
by this particular loss? Or where is the heart that should not by 
this time have lost all sensibility and learned to regard everything 
else as of minor importance? Is it on her account, pray, that you 
sorrow? How many times have you recurred to the thought — and 
I have often been struck with the same idea — that in times like 
these theirs is far from being the worst fate to whom it has been 
granted to exchange life for a painless death? Now what was there 
at such an epoch that could greatly tempt her to Uve? What scope, 


what hope, what heart's solace? That she might spend her life 
with some young and distinguished husband? How impossible for 
a man of your rank to select from the present generation of young 
men a son-in-law, to whose honour you might think yourself safe 
in trusting your child! Was it that she might bear children to 
cheer her with the sight of their vigorous youth ? who might by their 
own character maintain the position handed down to them by their 
parent, might be expected to stand for the offices in their order, 
might exercise their freedom in supporting their friends? What 
single one of these prospects has not been taken away before it 
was given? But, it will be said, after all it is an evil to lose one's 
children. Yes, it is: only it is a worse one to endure and submit to 
the present state of things. 

I wish to mention to you a circumstance which gave me no 
common consolation, on the chance of its also proving capable of 
diminishing your sorrow. On my voyage from Asia, as I was sailing 
from i£gina towards Megara, I began to survey the localities that 
were on every side of me. Behind me was ^Egina, in front Megara, 
on my right Pirsus, on my left Corinth: towns which at one time 
were most flourishing, but now lay before my eyes in ruin and 
decay. I began to reflect to myself thus: "Hah! do we mannikins 
feel rebellious if one of us perishes or is killed — we whose life ought 
to be still shorter — when the corpses of so many towns lie in help- 
less ruin? Will you please, Servius, restrain yourself and recoUea 
that you are born a mortal man?" Believe me, I was no little 
strengthened by that reflexion. Now take the trouble, if you agree 
with me, to put this thought before your eyes. Not long ago all 
those most illustrious men perished at one blow: the empire of the 
Roman people suffered that huge loss: all the provinces were shaken 
to their foundations. If you have become the poorer by the frail 
spirit of one poor girl, are you agitated thus violently? If she had 
not died now, she would yet have had to die a few years hence, 
for she was mortal born. You, too, withdraw soul and thought 
from such things, and rather remember those which become the 
part you have played in life: that she lived as long as life had 
anything to give her; that her life outlasted that of the Republic; 
that she lived to see you — her own father — praetor, consul, and 


augur; that she married young men of the highest rank; that she 
had enjoyed nearly every possible blessing; that, when the Republic 
fell, she departed from life. What fault have you or she to find 
with fortune on this score? In fine, do not forget that you are 
Cicero, and a man accustomed to instruct and advise others; and 
do not imitate bad physicians, who in the diseases of others profess 
to understand the art of healing, but are unable to prescribe for 
themselves. Rather suggest to yourself and bring home to your 
own mind the very maxims which you are accustomed to impress 
up)on others. There is no sorrow beyond the power of time at 
length to diminish and soften: it is a reflexion on you that you 
should wait for this f)eriod, and not rather anticipate that result 
by the aid of your wisdom. But if there is any consciousness still 
existing in the world below, such was her love for you and her 
dutiful affection for all her family, that she certainly does not wish 
you to act as you are acting. Grant this to her — your lost one! 
Grant it to your friends and comrades who mourn with you in 
your sorrow! Grant it to your country, that if the need arises she 
may have the use of your services and advice. 

Finally — since we are reduced by fortune to the necessity of 
taking precautions on this point also — do not allow anyone to 
think that you are not mourning so much for your daughter as 
for the state of public affairs and the virtory of others. I am ashamed 
to say any more to you on this subject, lest I should appear to 
distrust your wisdom. Therefore I will only make one suggestion 
before bringing my letter to an end. We have seen you on many 
occasions bear good fortune with a noble dignity which greatly 
enhanced your fame: now is the time for you to convince us that 
you are able to bear bad fortune equally well, and that it does not 
appear to you to be a heavier burden than you ought to think it. 
I would not have this be the only one of all the virtues that you 
do not possess. 

As far as I am concerned, when I learn that your mind is more 
composed, I will write you an account of what is going on here, 
and of the condition of the province. Good-bye. 

1 68 CICERO 


To Servius SuLPicius RuFus (in Achaia) 

FicuLEA, April, 45 b.c. 

Yes, indeed, my dear Servius, I would have wished — as you say 
— that you had been by my side at the time of my grievous loss. 
How much help your presence might have given me, both by con- 
solation and by your taking an almost equal share in my sorrow, 
I can easily gather from the fact that after reading your letter I 
experienced a great feeling of relief. For not only was what you 
wrote calculated to soothe a mourner, but in offering me consola- 
tion you manifested no slight sorrow of heart yourself. Yet, after 
all, your son Servius by all the kindnesses of which such a time 
admitted made it evident, both how much he personally valued 
me, and how gratifying to you he thought such affection for me 
would be. His kind offices have of course often been pleasanter to 
me, yet never more acceptable. For myself again, it is not only your 
words and (I had almost said) your partnership in my sorrow that 
consoles me, it is your character also. For I think it a disgrace that 
I should not bear my loss as you — a man of such wisdom — think 
it should be borne. But at times I am taken by surprise and 
scarcely offer any resistance to my grief, because those consolations 
fail me, which were not wanting in a similar misfortune to those 
others, whose examples I put before my eyes. For instance, Quintus 
Maximus, who lost a son who had been consul and was of illustrious 
character and brilliant achievements, and Lucius Paullus, who lost 
two within seven days, and your kinsman Gallus and M. Cato, 
who each lost a son of the highest character and valour — all lived in 
circumstances which permitted their own great position, earned by 
their public services, to assuage their grief. In my case, after losing 
the honours which you yourself mention, and which I had gained 
by the greatest possible exertions, there was only that one solace left 
which has now been torn away. My sad musings were not inter- 
rupted by the business of my friends, nor by the management of 
public affairs: there was nothing I cared to do in the forum: I 
could not bear the sight of the senate-house; I thought — as was 


the fact — ^that I had lost all the fruits both of my industry and of 
fortune. But while I thought that I shared these losses with you 
and certain others, and while I was conquering my feelings and 
forcing myself to bear them with patience, 1 had a refuge, one bosom 
where I could find repose, one in whose conversation and sweetness 
I could lay aside all anxieties and sorrows. But now, after such a 
crushing blow as this, the wounds which seemed to have healed break 
out afresh. For there is no republic now to offer me a refuge and a 
consolation by its good fortunes when I leave my home in sorrow, 
as there once was a home to receive me when I returned saddened 
by the state of public affairs. Hence I absent myself both from 
home and forum, because home can no longer console the sorrow 
which public affairs cause me, nor public affairs that which I suffer 
at home. All the more I look forward to your coming, and long 
to see you as soon as possible. No reasoning can give me greater 
solace than a renewal of our intercourse and conversation. However, 
I hope your arrival is approaching, for that is what I am told. For 
myself, while I have many reasons for wishing to see you as soon 
as possible, there is this one especially — that we may discuss before- 
hand on what principles we should live through this period of 
entire submission to the will of one man who is at once wise and 
liberal, far, as I think I perceive, from being hostile to me, and 
very friendly to you. But though that is so, yet it is a matter for 
serious thought what plans, I don't say of action, but of passing a 
quiet life by his leave and kindness, we should adopt. Good-bye. 


To Atticus (at Rome) 
PuTEOLi, 21 December, 45 B.C. 

Well, I have no reason after all to repent my formidable guest! 
For he made himself exceedingly pleasant. But on his arrival at 
the villa of Philippus on the evening of the second day of the 
Saturnalia, the villa was so choke-full of soldiers that there was 
scarcely a dining-room left for Cxsar himself to dine in. Two 
thousand men, if you please! I was in a great taking as to what 


was to happen the next day; and so Cassius Barba came to my aid 
and gave me guards. A camp was pitched in the open, the villa 
was put in a state of defence. He stayed with Philippus on the 
third day of the Saturnalia till one o'clock, without admitting any- 
one. He was engaged on his accounts, I think, with Balbus. Then 
he took a walk on the beach. After two he went to the bath. Then 
he heard about Mamurra without changing countenance. He was 
anointed: took his place at the table. He was under a course of 
emetics, and so ate and drank without scruple and as suited his 
taste. It was a very good dinner, and well served, and not only so, but 

"Weil-cooked, well-seasoned food, with rare discourse: 
A banquet in a word to cheer the heart." 

Besides this, the staff were entertained in three rooms in a very 
liberal style. The freedmen of lower rank and the slaves had every- 
thing they could want. But the upper sort had a really recherche 
dinner. In fact, I shewed that I was somebody. However, he is 
not a guest to whom one would say, "Pray look me up again on 
your way back." Once is enough. We didn't say a word about 
|X)litics. There was plenty of literary talk. In short, he was pleased 
and enjoyed himself. He said he should stay one day at Puteoli, 
another at Baiac. That's the story of the entertainment, or I might 
call it the billeting on me — trying to the temper, but not seriously 
inconvenient. I am staying on here for a short time and then go to 
Tusculum. When he was passing Dolabella's villa, the whole guard 
formed up on the right and left of his horse, and nowhere else. 
This I was told by Nicias. 


To Atticus (at Rome) 
Matius's Suburban Villa, 7 April, 44 b.c. 

I HAVE come on a visit to the man, of whom I was talking to you 
this morning. His view is that "the state of things is perfecdy 
shocking: that there is no way out of the imbroglio. For if a man 
of Caesar's genius failed, who can hope to succeed?" In short, he 
says that the ruin is complete. I am not sure that he is wrong; but 
then he rejoices in it, and declares that within twenty days there 


will be a rising in Gaul: that he has not had any conversation 
with anyone except Lepidus since the Ides of March: finally that 
these things can't pass off like this. What a wise man Oppius is, 
who regrets Caesar quite as much, but yet says nothing that can 
offend any loyalist! But enough of this. Pray don't be idle about 
writing me word of anything new, for I expect a great deal. Among 
other things, whether we can rely on Sextus Pompeius; but above 
all about our friend Brutus, of whom my host says that Caesar was 
in the habit of remarking: "It is of great importance what that man 
wishes; at any rate, whatever he wishes he wishes strongly": and 
that he noticed, when he was pleading for Deiotarus at Nicaca, that 
he seemed to speak with great spirit and freedom. Also — for I like 
to jot down things as they occur to me — that when on the request 
of Sestius I went to Czsar's house, and was sitting waiting till I 
was called in, he remarked: "Can I doubt that I am exceedingly 
disliked, when Marcus Cicero has to sit waiting and cannot see 
me at his own convenience? And yet if there is a good-natured 
man in the world it is he; still I feel no doubt that he heartily 
dislikes me." This and a good deal of the same sort. But to my 
purpose: Whatever the news, small as well as great, write and 
tell me of it. I will on my side let nothing pass. 


To Amcus (at Rome) 

AsTURA, 1 1 June, 44 b.c. 

At length a letter-carrier from my son! And, by Hercules, a 
letter elegantly expressed, shewing in itself some progress. Others 
also give me excellent reports of him. Leonides, however, still sticks 
to his favourite "at present." But Herodes speaks in the highest 
terms of him. In short, I am glad even to be deceived in this matter, 
and am not sorry to be credulous. Pray let me know if Statius 
has written to you anything of importance to me. 



To Atticus (at Rome) 
AsTURA, 13 June, 44 b^. 

Confound Lucius Antonius, if he makes himself troublesome to 
the Buthrotians! I have drawn out a deposition which shall be 
signed and sealed whenever you please. As for the money of the 
Arpinates, if the xdile L. Fadius asks for it, pay him back every 
farthing. In a previous letter I mentioned to you a sum of no 
sestertia to be paid to Statius. If, then, Fadius applies for the 
money, I wish it paid to him, and to no one except Fadius I think that 
amount was put into my hands, and I have written to Eros to 
produce it. 

I can't stand the Queen: and the voucher for her promises, 
Hammonius, knows that I have good cause for saying so. What 
she promised, indeed, were all things of the learned sort and suit- 
able to my character — such as I could avow even in a public meeting. 
As ioT Sara, besides finding him to be an unprincipled rascal, I 
also found him inclined to give himself airs to me. I only saw 
him once at my house. And when I asked him politely what I 
could do for him, he said that he had come in hopes of finding 
Atticus. The Queen's insolence, too, when she was living in Caesar's 
trans-Tiberine villa, I cannot recall without a pang. I won't have 
anything to do therefore with that lot. They think not so much 
that I have no spirit, as that I have scarcely any proper pride at 
all. My leaving Italy is hindered by Eros's way of doing business. 
For whereas from the balances struck by him on the 5th of April 
I ought to be well off, I am obliged to borrow, while the receipts 
from those paying properties of mine I think have been put aside 
for building the shrine. But I have charged Tiro to see to all this, 
whom I am sending to Rome for the express purpose. 

I did not wish to add to your existing embarrassments. The 
steadier the conduct of my son, the more I am vexed at his being 
hampered. For he never mentioned the subject to me — the first 
person to whom he should have done so. But he said in a letter 
to Tiro that he had received nothing since the ist of April — for 


that was the end of his financial year. Now I know that your own 
kind feeling always caused you to be of opinion that he ought to 
be treated not only with liberality, but with splendour and gener- 
osity, and that you also considered that to be due to my position. 
Wherefore pray see — I would not have troubled you if I could 
have done it through anyone else — that he has a bill of exchange 
at Athens for his year's allowance. Eros will pay you the money. 
I am sending Tiro on that business. Pray therefore see to it, and 
write and tell me any idea you may have on the subject. 


To C. Trebatius Testa (at Rome) 

(?) TuscuLUM, June, 44 b.c. 

You jeered at me yesterday amidst our cups, for having said that 
it was a disputed point whether an heir could lawfully prosecute 
on an embezzlement which had been committed before he became 
the owner. Accordingly, though I returned home full of wine and 
late in the evening, I marked the section in which that question 
is treated and caused it to be copied out and sent to you. I wanted 
to convince you that the doctrine which you said was held by no 
one was maintained by Sextus ^Elius, Manius Manilius, Marcus 
Brutus. Nevertheless, I concur with Scaevola and Testa. 


M. Cicero (the Younger) to Tiro 

Athens, August, 44 b.c. 

After I had been anxiously expecting letter<arriers day after day, 
at length they arrived forty-six days after they left you. Their 
arrival was most welcome to me: for while I took the greatest 
possible pleasure in the letter of the kindest and most beloved of 
fathers, still your most delightful letter put a finishing stroke to my 
joy. So I no longer repent of having suspended writing for a time, 
but am rather rejoiced at it; for I have reaped a great reward in your 
kindness from my pen having been silent. I am therefore exceed- 


ingly glad that you have unhesitatingly accepted my excuse. I am 
sure, dearest Tiro, that the reports about me which reach you answer 
your best wishes and hopes. I will make them good, and will do my 
best that this belief in me, which day by day becomes more and more 
en evidence, shall be doubled. Wherefore you may with confidence 
and assurance fulfil your promise of being the trumpeter of my 
reputation. For the errors of my youth have caused me so much 
remorse and suffering, that not only does my heart shrink from 
what I did, my very ears abhor the mention of it. And of this anguish 
and sorrow I know and am assured that you have taken your share. 
And I don't wonder at it! for while you wished me all success for 
my sake, you did so also for your own; for I have ever meant you to 
be my partner in all my good fortunes. Since, therefore, you have 
suffered sorrow through me, I will now take care that through me 
your joy shall be doubled. Let me assure you that my very close 
attachment to Cratippus is that of a son rather than a pupil: for 
though I enjoy his lectures, I am also specially charmed with his 
delightful manners. I spend whole days with him, and often part 
of the night: for I induce him to dine with me as often as possible. 
This intimacy having been established, he often drops in upon us 
unexpectedly while we are at dinner, and, laying aside the stiff airs of 
a philosopher, joins in our jests with the greatest possible freedom. 
He is such a man — so delightful, so distinguished — that you should 
take pains to make his acquaintance at the earliest possible oppor- 
tunity. I need hardly mention Bruttius, whom I never allow to leave 
my side. He is a man of a strict and moral life, as well as being 
the most delightful company. For in him fun is not divorced from 
literature and the daily philosophical inquiries which we make in 
common. I have hired a residence next door to him, and as far as 
I can with my p)oor pittance I subsidize his narrow means. Farther- 
more, I have begun practising declamation in Greek with Cassius; 
in Latin I like having my practice with Bruttius. My intimate 
friends and daily company are those whom Cratippus brought with 
him from Mitylene — ^good scholars, of whom he has the highest 
opinion. I also see a great deal of Epicrates, the leading man at 
Athens, and Leonides, and other men of that sort. So now you know 
how I am going on. 


You remark in your letter on the character of Gorgias. The fact 
is, I found him very useful in my daily practice of declamation; but 
I subordinated everything to obeying my father's injunctions, for he 
had written ordering me to give him up at once. I wouldn't shilly- 
shally about the business, for fear my making a fuss should cause 
my father to harbour some suspicion. Moreover, it occurred to me 
that it would be offensive for me to express an opinion on a decision 
of my father's. However, your interest and advice are welcome and 
acceptable. Your apology for lack of time I quite accept ; for I know 
how busy you always are. I am very glad that you have bought an 
estate, and you have my best wishes for the success of your purchase. 
Don't be surprised at my congratulations coming in at this point in 
my letter, for it was at the corresponding point in yours that you told 
me of your purchase. You are a man of property! You must drop 
your city manners: you have become a Roman country-gentleman. 
How clearly I have your dearest face before my eyes at this moment! 
For I seem to see you buying things for the farm, talking to your 
bailiff, saving the seeds at dessert in the corner of your cloak. But as 
to the matter of money, I am as sorry as you that I was not on the 
spot to help you. But do not doubt, my dear Tiro, of my assisting 
you in the future, if fortune does but stand by me; especially as I 
know that this estate has been purchased for our joint advantage. 
As to my commissions about which you are taking trouble — many 
thanks! But I beg you to send me a secretary at the earliest oppor- 
tunity — if possible a Greek; for he will save me a great deal of trouble 
in copying out notes. Above all, take care of your health, that we 
may have some literary talk together hereafter. I commend Anteros 
to you. 


QuiNTUs Cicero to Tiro 

(Time and Place Uncertain) 

1 have castigated you, at least with the silent reproach of my 
thoughts, because this is the second packet that has arrived without a 
letter from you. You cannot escape the pmnalty for this crime by your 
own advocacy: you will have to call Marcus to your aid, and don't 


be too sure that even he, though he should compose a speech after 
long study and a great expenditure of midnight oil, would be able to 
establish your innocence. In plain terms, I beg you to do as I remem- 
ber my mother used to do. It was her custom to put a seal on wine- 
jars even when empty to prevent any being labelled empty that had 
been surreptitiously drained. In the same way, I beg you, even if you 
have nothing to write about, to write all the same, lest you be thought 
to have sought a cover for idleness: for I always find the news in 
your letters trustworthy and welcome. Love me, and good-bye. 


To M. luNius Brutus (in Macedonia) 
Rome, Middle of July, 43 b.c. 

You have Messalla with you. What letter, therefore, can I write 
with such minute care as to enable me to explain to you what is being 
done and what is occurring in public affairs, more thoroughly than 
he will describe them to you, who has at once the most intimate 
knowledge of everything, and the talent for unfolding and conveying 
it to you in the best possible manner? For beware of thinking, 
Brutus — for though it is unnecessary for me to write to you what 
you know already, yet I cannot pass over in silence such eminence 
in every kind of greatness — beware of thinking, I say, that he has 
any parallel in honesty and firmness, care and zeal for the Republic. 
So much so that in him eloquence — in which he is extraordinarily 
eminent — scarcely seems to offer any opportunity for praise. Yet in 
this accomplishment itself his wisdom is made more evident; with 
such excellent judgment and with so much acuteness has he practised 
himself in the most genuine style of rhetoric. Such also is his 
industry, and so great the amount of midnight labour that he bestows 
on this study, that the chief thanks would not seem to be due to 
natural genius, great as it is in his case. But my affection carries me 
away: for it is not the purpose of this letter to praise Messalla, espe- 
cially to Brutus, to whom his excellence is not less known than it is 
to me, and these particular accomplishments of his which I am 
praising even better. Grieved as I was to let him go from my side, 
my one consolation was that in going to vou who are to me a 


second self, he was performing a duty and following the path of 
the truest glory. But enough of this. I now come, after a long 
interval of time, to a certain letter of yours, in which, while paying 
me many compliments, you find one fault with me — that I was 
excessive and, as it were, extravagant in proposing votes of honour. 
That is your criticism: another's, f)erhaps, might be that I was too 
stern in inflicting punishment and exacting penalties, unless by 
chance you blame me for both. If that is so, I desire that my principle 
in both these things should be very clearly known to you. And I do 
not rely solely on the dictum of Solon, who was at once the wisest 
of the Seven and the only lawgiver among them. He said that a state 
was kept together by two things — reward and punishment. Of 
course there is a certain moderation to be observed in both, as in 
everything else, and what we may call a golden mean in both these 
things. But I have no intention to dilate on such an important sub- 
ject in this place. 

But what has been my aim during this war in the motions I have 
made in the senate I think it will not be out of place to explain. 
After the death of Cisar and your ever memorable Ides of March, 
Brutus, you have not forgotten what I said had been omitted by 
you and your colleagues, and what a heavy cloud I declared to be 
hanging over the Republic. A great pest had been removed by your 
means, a great blot on the Roman people wiped out, immense glory 
in truth acquired by yourselves: but an engine for exercising kingly 
jxjwer had been put into the hands of Lepidus and Antony, of whom 
the former was the more fickle of the two, the latter the more 
corrupt, but both of whom dreaded peace and were enemies to 
quiet. Against these men, inflamed with the ambition of revolu- 
tionizing the state, we had no protecting force to oppose. For the 
fact of the matter was this: the state had become roused as one 
man to maintain its liberty; I at the time was even excessively war- 
like; you, perhaps with more wisdom, quitted the city which you had 
Hberated, and when Italy offered you her services declined them. 
Accordingly, when I saw the city in the possession of parricides, and 
that neither you nor Cassius could remain in it with safety, and that 
it was held down by Antony's armed guards, I thought that I too 
ought to leave it : for a city held down by traitors, with all optwrtunity 


of giving aid cut off, was a shocking spectacle. But the same spirit 
as always had animated me, staunch to the love of country, did not 
admit the thought of a departure from its dangers. Accordingly, 
in the very midst of my voyage to Achaia, when in the period of the 
Etesian gales a south wind — as though remonstrating against my 
design — had brought me back to Italy, I saw you at Velia and was 
much distressed: for you were on the point of leaving the country, 
Brutus — leaving it, I say, for our friends the Stoics deny that wise 
men ever "flee." As soon as I reached Rome I at once threw myself 
in opposition to Antony's treason and insane p)olicy: and having 
roused his wrath against me, I began entering upon a policy truly 
Brutus-like — for this is the distinctive mark of your family — that of 
freeing my country. The rest of the story is too long to tell, and must 
be passed over by me, for it is about myself. I will only say this 
much: that this young Caesar, thanks to whom we still exist, if we 
would confess the truth, was a stream from the fountainhead of 
my policy. To him I voted honours, none indeed, Brutus, that were 
not his due, none that were not inevitable. For directly we began 
the recovery of liberty, when the divine excellence of even Decimus 
Brutus had not yet bestirred itself sufficiently to give us an indication 
of the truth, and when our sole protection depended on the boy who 
had shaken Antony from our shoulders, what honour was there 
that he did not deserve to have decreed to him? However, all I 
then proposed for him was a complimentary vote of thanks, and 
that too expressed with moderation. I also proposed a decree con- 
ferring imperium on him, which, although it seemed too great a 
compliment for one of his age, was yet necessary for one command- 
ing an army — for what is an army without a commander with 
imperium? Philippus proposed a statue; Servius at first proposed a 
licence to stand for office before the regular time. Servilii's afterwards 
proposed that the time should be still farther curtailed. At that time 
nothing was thought too good for him. 

But somehow men are more easily found who are liberal at a time 
of alarm, than grateful when victory has been won. For when that 
most joyful day of Decimus Brutus's relief from blockade had 
dawned on the Republic and happened also to be his birthday, I 
proposed that the name of Brutus should be entered in the fasti under 


that date. And in that I followed the example of our ancestors, who 
paid this honour to the woman Laurentia, at whose altar in the 
Velabrum you pontiffs are accustomed to offer service. And when I 
profX)sed this honour to Brutus I wished that there should be in the 
fasti an eternal memorial of a most welcome victory: and yet on that 
very day I discovered that the ill-disposed in the senate were some- 
what in a majority over the grateful. In the course of those same days 
I lavished honours — if you like that word — upon the dead Hirtius, 
Pansa, and even Aquila. And who has any fault to find with that, 
unless he be one who, no sooner an alarm is over, forgets the past 
danger? There was added to this grateful memorial of a benefit 
received some consideration of what would be for the good of 
posterity also; for I wished that there should exist some perpetual 
record of the popular execration of our most ruthless enemies. I 
suspect that the next step does not meet with your approbation. It 
was disapproved by your friends, who are indeed most excellent 
citizens, but inexperienced in public business. I mean my proposing 
an ovation for Czsar. For myself, however — though I am perhaps 
wrong, and I am not a man who believes his own way necessarily 
right — I think that in the course of this war I never took a more 
prudent step. The reason for this I must not reveal, lest I should 
seem to have a sense of favours to come rather than to be grateful 
for those received. I have said too much already: let us look at other 
points. I proposed honours to Decimus Brutus, and also to Lucius 
Plancus. Those indeed are noble spirits whose spur to action is glory : 
but the senate also is wise to avail itself of any means — provided that 
they are honourable — by which it thinks that a particular man can be 
induced to support the Republic. But — ^you say — I am blamed in 
regard to Lepidus: for, having placed his statue on the rostra, I also 
voted for its removal. I tried by paying him a compliment to recall 
him from his insane policy. The infatuation of that most unstable of 
men rendered my prudence futile. Yet all the same more good was 
done by demolishing the statue of Lepidus, than harm by putting 
it up. 

Enough about honours; now I must say a few words about penal- 
ties. For I have gathered from frequent expressions in your letters 
that in regard to those whom you have conquered in war, you desire 


that your clemency should be praised. I hold, indeed, that you do and 
say nothing but what becomes a philosopher. But to omit the punish- 
ment of a crime — for that is what "pardoning" amounts to — even 
if it is endurable in other cases, is mischievous in a war like this. 
For there has been no civil war, of all that have occurred in the state 
within my memory, in which there was not certain to be some form 
of constitution remaining, whichever of the two sides prevailed. In 
this war, if we are victorious, I should not find it easy to affirm what 
kind of constitution we are likely to have; if we are conquered, 
there will certainly never be any. I therefore proposed severe meas- 
ures against Antony, and severe ones also against Lepidus, and not 
so much out of revenge as in order that 1 might for the present 
prevent unprincipled men by this terror from attacking their country, 
and might for the future establish a warning for all who were 
minded to imitate their infatuation. 

However, this proposal was not mine more than it was everybody's. 
The point in it which had the appearance of cruelty was that the 
penalty extended to the children who did not deserve any. But that 
is a thing of long standing and characteristic of all states. For 
instance, the children of Themistocles were in poverty. And if the 
same penalty attaches to citizens legally condemned in court, how 
could we be more indulgent to public enemies? What, moreover, 
can anyone say against me when he must confess that, had that man 
conquered, he would have been still more revengeful towards me? 

Here you have the principles which dictated my senatorial pro- 
posals, at any rate in regard to this class of honours and penalties. 
For, in regard to other matters, I think you have been told what 
opinions I have expressed and what votes I have given. But all this 
is not so very pressing. What is really pressing, Brutus, is that you 
should come to Italy with your army as soon as possible. There is the 
greatest anxiety for your arrival. Directly you reach Italy all classes 
will flock to you. For if we win the victory — and we had in fact 
won a most glorious one, only that Lepidus set his heart on ruining 
everything and perishing himself with all his friends — there will be 
need of your counsel in establishing some form of constitution. And 
even if there is still some fighting left to be done, our greatest hope is 
both in your personal influence and in the material strength of your 


army. But make haste, in God's name! You know the importance 
of seizing the right moment, and of rapidity. What pains I am tak- 
ing in the interests of your sister's children, I hope you know from 
the letters of your mother and sister. In undertaking their cause I 
shew more regard to your affection, which is very precious to me, 
than, as some think, to my own consistency. But there is nothing 
in which I more wish to be and to seem consistent than in loving you. 





Gaiu$ Plinius CjEcilius Secundus, usually known as Pliny the 
Younger, was born at Como in 62 AX). He was only eight years old 
when his father, Czcilius, died, and he was adopted by his uncle, the 
elder Pliny, author of the "Natural History." He was carefully educated, 
studying rhetoric under Quintilian and other famous teachers, and he 
became the most eloquent pleader of his time. In this and in much else 
he imitated Cicero, who had by this time come to be the recognized 
master of Latin style. While still young he served as military tribune in 
Syria, but he does not seem to have taken zealously to a soldier's life. On 
his return he entered politics under the Emperor Domitian, and in the 
year 100 A.D. was appointed consul by Trajan and admitted to confiden- 
tial intercourse with that emperor. Later, while he was governor of 
Bithynia, he was in the habit of submitting every point of policy to his 
master, and the correspondence between Trajan and him, which forms 
the last part of the present selection, is of a high degree of interest, both on 
account of the subjects discussed and for the light thrown on the char- 
acters of the two men. He is supposed to have died about 113 AX). 
Pliny's sf)eeches are now lost, with the exception of one, a panegyric on 
Trajan delivered in thanksgiving for the consulate. This, though diffuse 
and somewhat too complimentary for modern taste, became a model for 
this kind of com{X)sition. The others were mostly of two classes, forensic 
and political, many of the latter being, like Cicero's speech against Verres, 
impeachments of provincial governors for cruelty and extortion toward 
their subjects. In these, as in his public activities in general, he appears 
as a man of public spirit and integrity; and in his relations with his native 
town he was a thoughtful and munificent benefactor. 

The letters, on which to-day his fame mainly rests, were largely written 
with a view to publication, and were arranged by Pliny himself. They 
thus lack the spontaneity of Cicero's impulsive utterances, but to most 
modern readers who are not sf>ecial students of Roman history they are 
even more interesting. They deal with a great variety of subjects: the 
description of a Roman villa; the charms of country life; the reluctance of 
people to attend author's readings and to listen when they were present; 
a dinner party; legacy-hunting in ancient Rome; the acquisition of a 
piece of statuary; his love for his young wife; ghost stories; floating 
islands, a tame dolphin, and other marvels. But by far the best-known are 
those describing the great eruption of Vesuvius in which his uncle per- 



ished, a martyr to scientific curiosity, and the letter to Trajan on his 
attempts to suppress Christianity in Bithynia, with Trajan's reply approv- 
ing his jxjlicy. Taken altogether, these letters give an absorbingly vivid 
picture of the days of the early empire, and of the interests of a culti- 
vated Roman gentleman of wealth. Occasionally, as in the last letters 
referred to, they deal with important historical events; but their chief 
value is in bringing before us, in somewhat the same manner as "The 
Spectator" pictures the England of the age of Anne, the life of a time 
which is not so unlike our own as its distance in years might indicate. And 
in this time by no means the least interesting figure is that of the letter- 
writer himself, with his vanity and self-importance, his sensibility and 
generous affection, his pedantry and his loyalty. 




To Septitius 

YOU have frequently pressed me to make a select collection 
of my Letters (if there really be any deserving of a special 
preference) and give them to the public. I have selected them 
accordingly; not, indeed, in their proper order of time, for I was 
not compiling a history; but just as each came to hand. And now I 
have only to wish that you may have no reason to repent of your 
advice, nor I of my compliance: in that case, I may probably enquire 
after the rest, which at present lie neglected, and preserve those I 
shall hereafter write. Farewell. 


To Arrianus 

I FORESEE your journey in my direaion is likely to be delayed, and 
therefore send you the speech which I promised in my former; 
requesting you, as usual, to revise and correct it. I desire this the 
more earnestly as I never, I think, wrote with the same empressement 
in any of my former speeches; for I have endeavoured to imitate your 
old favourite Demosthenes and Calvus, who is lately become mine, 
at least in the rhetorical forms of the speech; for to catch their sublime 
spirit, is given, alone, to the "inspired few." My subject, indeed, 
seemed naturally to lend itself to this (may I venture to call it?) 
emulation; consisting, as it did, almost entirely in a vehement style of 
address, even to a degree sufficient to have awakened me (if only I 
am capable of being awakened) out of that indolence in which I 
have long reposed. I have not, however, altogether neglected the 


1 88 PLINY 

flowers of rhetoric of my favourite Marc-Tully, wherever I could 
with propriety step out of my direct road, to enjoy a more flowery 
path : for it was energy, not austerity, at which I aimed. I would not 
have you imagine by this that I am bespeaking your indulgence: on 
the contrary, to make your correcting pen more vigorous, I will 
confess that neither my friends nor myself are averse from the publi- 
cation of this piece, if only you should join in the approval of what 
is perhaps my folly. The truth is, as I must publish something, I 
wish it might be this performance rather than any other, because it is 
already finished: (you hear the wish of laziness). At all events, 
however, something I must publish, and for many reasons; chiefly 
because the tracts which I have already sent into the world, though 
they have long since lost all their recommendation from novelty, are 
still, I am told, in request; if, after all, the booksellers are not tickling 
my ears. And let them; since, by that innocent deceit, 1 am encour- 
aged to pursue my studies. Farewell. 



Did you ever meet with a more abject and mean-spirited creature 
than Marcus Regulus since the death of Domitian, during whose 
reign his conduct was no less infamous, though more concealed, 
than under Nero's? He began to be afraid I was angry with him, 
and his apprehensions were perfectly correct; I was angry. He had 
not only done his best to increase the peril of the position in which 
Rusticus Arulenus ' stood, but had exulted in his death; insomuch 
that he actually recited and published a libel upon his memory, in 
which he styles him "The Stoics' Ap)e": adding, "stigmated* with 
the Vitellian scar."' You recognize Regulus' eloquent strain! He 
fell with such fury upon the character of Herennius Senecio that 
Melius Carus said to him, one day, "What business have you with 

' A pupil and intimate friend of Partus Thrasea, the distinRuishcd Stoic philosopher. 
Arulenus was put to death by Domitian for writing a paneg)ric upon Thrasea. 

'The impropriety of this expression, in the original, seems to lie in the word 
stigmosum, which Regulus probably either coined through affectation or used through 
ignorance. It is a word, at least, which does not occur in any author of authority: 
the translator has endeavoured, therefore, to preserve the same sort of impropriety, 
by using an expression of like unwarranted stamp in his own tongue. M. 

' An allusion to a wound he had received in the war between Vitellius and 


my dead ? Did I ever interfere in the affair of Crassus * or Came- 
rinus'?" Victims, you know, to Regulus, in Nero's time. For these 
reasons he imagined I was highly exasperated, and so at the recita- 
tion of his last piece, I got no invitation. Besides, he had not 
forgotten, it seems, with what deadly purpose he had once attacked 
me in the Court of the Hundred. ' Rusticus had desired me to act as 
counsel for Arionilla, Timon's wife: Regulus was engaged against 
me. In one part of the case I was strongly insisting upon a particular 
judgment given by Metius Modestus, an excellent man, at that time 
in banishment by Domitian's order. Now then for Regulus. "Pray," 
says he, "what is your opinion of Modestus?" You see what a risk 
I should have run had I answered that I had a high opinion of him, 
how I should have disgraced myself on the other hand if I had 
replied that I had a bad opinion of him. But some guardian power, 
I am persuaded, must have stood by me to assist me in this emerg- 
ency. "I will tell you my opinion," I said, "if that is a matter to be 
brought before the court." "I ask you," he repeated, "what is your 
opinion of Modestus?" I replied that it was customary to examine 
witnesses to the character of an accused man, not to the character of 
one on whom sentence had already been passed. He pressed me a 
third time. "I do not now enquire," said he, "your opinion of 
Modestus in general, I only ask your opinion of his loyalty." "Since 
you will have my opinion then," I rejoined, "I think it illegal even 
to ask a question concerning a jjerson who stands convicted." He 
sat down at this, completely silenced; and I received applause and 
congratulation on all sides, that without injuring my reputation by 
an advantageous, perhaps, though ungenerous answer, I had not 
entangled myself in the toils of so insidious a catch-question. Thor- 
oughly frightened upon this then, he first seizes upon Caecilius Celer, 
next he goes and begs of Fabius Justus, that they would use their 
joint interest to bring about a reconciliation between us. And lest 
this should not be sufficient, he sets off to Spurinna as well; to whom 
he came in the humblest way (for he is the most abject creature 

* A brother of Piso Galba's adopted son. He was put to death by Nero. 

' Sulpicius Camerinus, put to death by the tame emperor, upon some frivolous 

• A select body of men who formed a court of judicature, called the ccntumviral 
court. Their jurisdiction extended chiefly, if not entirely, to questions of wills and 
intestate estates. Their number, it would seem, amounted to 105. M. 

190 PLINY 

alive, where he has anything to be afraid of) and says to him, "Do, 
I entreat of you, call on Pliny to-morrow morning, certainly in the 
morning, no later (for I cannot endure this anxiety of mind longer), 
and endeavour by any means in your power to soften his resentment." 
I was already up, the next day, when a message arrived from 
Spurinna, "I am coming to call on you." I sent back word, "Nay, I 
will wait upon you"; however, both of us setting out to pay this 
visit, we met under Livia's portico. He acquainted me with the 
commission he had received from Regulus, and interceded for him 
as became so worthy a man in behalf of one so totally dissimilar, 
without greatly pressing the thing. "I will leave it to you," was my 
reply, "to consider what answer to return Regulus; you ought not to 
be deceived by me. I am waiting for Mauricus' ' return" (for he had 
not yet come back out of exile), "so that I cannot give you any 
definite answer either way, as I mean to be guided entirely by his 
decision, for he ought to be my leader here, and I simply to do as he 
says." Well, a few days after this, Regulus met me as I was at the 
pra:tor's; he kept close to me there and begged a word in private, 
when he said he was afraid I deeply resented an expression he had 
once made use of in his reply to Satrius and myself, before the Court 
of the Hundred, to this effect: "Satrius Rufus, who does not en- 
deavour to rival Cicero, and who is content with the eloquence of 
our own day." I answered, now I perceived indeed, upon his own 
confession, that he had meant it ill-naturedly; otherwise it might 
have passed for a compliment. "For I am free to own," I said, "that 
I do endeavour to rival Cicero, and am not content with the elo- 
quence of our own day. For I consider it the very height of folly not 
to copy the best models of every kind. But how happens it that you, 
who have so good a recollection of what passed upon this occasion, 
should have forgotten that other, when you asked me my opinion 
of the loyalty of Modestus?" Pale as he always is, he turned simply 
pallid at this, and stammered out, "I did not intend to hurt you when 
I asked this question, but Modestus." Observe the vindictive cruelty 
of the fellow, who made no concealment of his willingness to injure 
a banished man. But the reason he alleged in justification of his 

^ Junius Mauricus, the brother of Rusticus Arulcnus. Both brothers were sentenced 
on the same day, Arulenus to execution and Mauricus to banishment. 


conduct is pleasant. Modestus, he explained, in a letter of his, which 
was read to Domitian, had used the following expression: "Regulus, 
the biggest rascal that walks upon two feet": and what Modestus 
had written was the simple truth, beyond all manner of controversy. 
Here, about, our conversation came to an end, for I did not wish 
to proceed further, being desirous to keep matters open until Mauri- 
cus returns. It is no easy matter, I am well aware of that, to destroy 
Regulus; he is rich, and at the head of a party; courted' by many, 
feared by more: a passion that will sometimes prevail even beyond 
friendship itself. But, after all, ties of this sort are not so strong but 
they may be loosened; for a bad man's credit is as shifty as himself. 
However (to repeat), I am waiting until Mauricus comes back. He 
is a man of sound judgment and great sagacity, formed upon long 
experience, and who, from his observations of the past, well knows 
how to judge of the future. I shall talk the matter over with him, 
and consider myself justified either in pursuing or dropping this 
affair, as he shall advise. Meanwhile I thought I owed this account 
to our mutual friendship, which gives you an undoubted right to 
know about not only all my actions but all my plans as well. Fare- 


To Cornelius Tacitus 

You will laugh (and you are quite welcome) when I tell you that 
your old acquaintance is turned sportsman, and has taken three noble 
boars. "What!" you exclaim, "Pliny!"— £«/<rn he. However, I in- 
dulged at the same time my beloved inactivity; and, whilst I sat at 
my nets, you would have found me, not with boar spear or javelin, 
but pencil and tablet, by my side. I mused and wrote, being 
determined to return, if with all my hands empty, at least with my 
memorandums full. Believe me, this way of studying is not to be 
despised: it is wonderful how the mind is stirred and quickened into 

'There seems to have been a cast of uncommon blackness in the character of this 
Regulus; otherwise the benevolent Pliny would scarcely have singled him out, as he 
has in this and some following letters, for the subject of his warmest contempt and 
indignation. Yet, infamous as he was, he had his flatterers and admirers; and a 
contemporary poet frequently represents him as one of the most finished characters 
of the age, both \a eloquence and virtue. M. 

192 PLINY 

activity by brisk bodily exercise. There is something, too, in the 
solemnity of the venerable woods with which one is surrounded, 
together with that profound silence which is observed on these occa- 
sions, that forcibly disposes the mind to meditation. So for the 
future, let me advise you, whenever you hunt, to take your tablets 
along with you, as well as your basket and bottle, for be assured 
you will find Minerva no less fond of traversing the hills than 
Diana. Farewell. 

To POMPEIUS Saturninus 

Nothing could be more seasonable than the letter which I received 
from you, in which you so earnestly beg me to send you some of my 
literary efforts: the very thing I was intending to do. So you have 
only put spurs into a willing horse and at once saved yourself the 
excuse of refusing the trouble, and me the awkwardness of asking 
the favour. Without hesitation then I avail myself of your offer; as 
you must now take the consequence of it without reluctance. But 
you are not to expect anything new from a lazy fellow, for I am 
going to ask you to revise again the speech I made to my fellow- 
townsmen when I dedicated the public library to their use. You 
have already, I remember, obliged me with some annotations upon 
this piece, but only in a general way; and so I now beg of you not 
only to take a general view of the whole speech, but, as you usually 
do, to go over it in detail. When you have corrected it, I shall still be 
at liberty to publish or suppress it: and the delay in the meantime 
will be attended with one of these alternatives; for, while we are de- 
hberating whether it is fit for publishing, a frequent revision will 
either make it so, or convince me that it is not. Though indeed my 
principal difficulty respecting the publication of this harangue arises 
not so much from the composition as out of the subject itself, which 
has something in it, I am afraid, that will look too like ostentation 
and self<onceit. For, be the style ever so plain and unassuming, yet, 
as the occasion necessarily led me to speak not only of the munificence 
of my ancestors, but of my own as well, my modesty will be seriously 
embarrassed. A dangerous and slippery situation this, even when one 
is led into it by plea of necessity! For, if mankind are not very 


favourable to panegyric, even when bestowed upon others, how much 
more difficult is it to reconcile them to it when it is a tribute which 
we pay to ourselves or to our ancestors! Virtue, by herself, is gen- 
erally the object of envy, but particularly so when glory and distinc- 
tion attend her; and the world is never so Uttle disposed to detract 
from the rectitude of your conduct as when it passes unobserved 
and unapplauded. For these reasons, I frequently ask myself whether 
I composed this harangue, such as it is, merely from a personal 
consideration, or with a view to the public as well; and I am sensible 
that what may be exceedingly useful and proper in the prosecution 
of any affair may lose all its grace and fitness the moment the busi- 
ness is completed: for instance, in the case before us, what could be 
more to my purpose than to explain at large the motives of my 
intended bounty? For, first, it engaged my mind in good and 
ennobling thoughts; next, it enabled me, by frequent dwelling 
upon them, to receive a perfect impression of their loveliness, while 
it guarded at the same time against that repentance which is sure to 
follow on an impulsive act of generosity. There arose also a further 
advantage from this method, as it fixed in me a certain habitual 
contempt of money. For, while mankind seem to be universally 
governed by an innate passion to accumulate wealth, the cultivation 
of a more generous affection in my own breast taught me to emanci- 
pate myself from the slavery of so predominant a principle: and I 
thought that my honest intentions would be the more meritorious 
as they should appear to proceed, not from sudden impulse, but 
from the dictates of cool and deliberate reflection. I considered, be- 
sides, that I was not engaging myself to exhibit public games or 
gladiatorial combats, but to establish an annual fund for the support 
and education of young men of good families but scanty means. The 
pleasures of the senses are so far from wanting the oratorical arts to 
recommend them that we stand in need of all the powers of elo- 
quence to moderate and restrain rather than stir up their influence. 
But the work of getting anybody to cheerfully undertake the monot- 
ony and drudgery of education must be effected not by pay merely, 
but by a skilfully worked-up appeal to the emotions as well. If 
physicians find it exf)edient to use the most insinuating address in 
recommending to their patients a wholesome though, perhaps, un- 

194 PLINY 

pleasant regimen, how much more occasion had he to exert all the 
powers of persuasion who, out of regard to the public welfare, was 
endeavouring to reconcile it to a most useful though not equally 
popular benefaction! Particularly, as my aim was to recommend an 
institution, calculated solely for the benefit of those who were parents 
to men who, at present, had no children; and to persuade the greater 
number to wait patiently until they should be entided to an honour 
of which a jetv only could immediately partake. But as at that time, 
when I attempted to explain and enforce the general design and 
benefit of my institution, I considered more the general good of my 
countrymen, than any reputation which might result to myself; so 
I am apprehensive lest, if I publish that piece, it may perhaps look as 
if I had a view rather to my own personal credit than the benefit of 
others. Besides, I am very sensible how much nobler it is to place 
the reward of virtue in the silent approbation of one's own breast 
than in the applause of the world. Glory ought to be the conse- 
quence, not the motive, of our actions; and although it happen not 
to attend the worthy deed, yet it is by no means the less fair for 
having missed the applause it deserved. But the world is apt to 
suspect that those who celebrate their own beneficent acts performed 
them for no other motive than to have the pleasure of extolling them. 
Thus, the splendour of an action which would have been deemed 
illustrious if related by another is totally extinguished when it be- 
comes the subject of one's own applause. Such is the disposition of 
mankind, if they cannot blast the action, they will censure its display; 
and whether you do what does not deserve particular notice, or set 
forth yourself what does, either way you incur reproach. In my own 
case there is a pecuHar circumstance that weighs much with me: this 
speech was delivered not before the people, but the Decurii; ' not in 
the forum, but the senate; I am afraid therefore it will look incon- 
sistent that I, who, when I delivered it, seemed to avoid popular 
applause, should now, by publishing this performance, appear to 
court it: that I, who was so scrupulous as not to admit even those 
persons to be present when I delivered this speech, who were inter- 
ested in my benefaction, lest it might be suspected I was actuated 
in this affair by any ambitious views, should now seem to solicit 
' The Decurii were a sort of senators in the municipal or corporate cities of Italy. M. 


admiration, by forwardly displaying it to such as have no other 
concern in my munificence than the benefit of example. These are 
the scruples which have occasioned my delay in giving this piece to 
the public; but I submit them entirely to your judgment, which I 
shall ever esteem as a sufficient sanction of my conduct. Farewell. 


To Attius Clemens 

If ever polite literature flourished at Rome, it certainly flourishes 
now; and I could give you many eminent instances: I will content 
myself, however, with naming only Euphrates,' the philosopher. I 
first became acquainted with this excellent person in my youth, when 
I served in the army in Syria. I had an opportunity of conversing 
with him familiarly, and took some pains to gain his affection: 
though that, indeed, was not very difficult, for he is easy of access, 
unreserved, and actuated by those social principles he professes to 
teach. I should think myself extremely happy if I had as fully 
answered the expectations he, at that time, conceived of me, as he 
exceeds everything I had imagined of him. But, perhaps, I admire 
his excellencies more now than I did then, because I know better 
how to appreciate them; not that I sufficiently appreciate them even 
now. For as none but those who are skilled in painting, statuary, or 
the plastic art, can form a right judgment of any performance in 
those respective modes of representation, so a man must, himself, 
have made great advances in philosophy before he is capable of 
forming a just opinion of a philosopher. However, as far as I am 
qualified to determine, Euphrates is possessed of so many shining 
talents that he cannot fail to attract and impress the most ordinarily 
educated observer. He reasons with much force, acuteness, and 
elegance; and frequently rises into all the subUme and luxuriant 
eloquence of Plato. His style is varied and flowing, and at the same 
time so wonderfully captivating that he forces the reluctant attention 
of the most unwilling hearer. For the rest, a fine stature, a comely 

' "Euphrates was a native of Tyre, or, according to others, of Bj-zantium. He be- 
longed to the Stoic school of philosophy. In his old age he became tired of life, and 
asked and obtained from Hadrian permission to put an end to himself by poison." 
Smith's Diet, of Greek and Roman Biog. 

196 PLINY 

aspect, long hair, and a large silver beard: circumstances which, 
though they may probably be thought trifling and accidental, con- 
tribute, however, to gain him much reverence. There is no affected 
negligence in his dress and appearance; his countenance is grave but 
not austere; and his approach commands respect without creating 
awe. Distinguished as he is by the perfect blamelessness of his life, 
he is no less so by the courtesy and engaging sweetness of his manner. 
He attacks vices, not persons, and, without severity, reclaims the 
wanderer from the paths of virtue. You follow his exhortations with 
rapt attention, hanging, as it were, upon his lips; and even after the 
heart is convinced, the ear still wishes to listen to the harmonious 
reasoner. His family consists of three children (two of which are 
sons), whom he educates with the utmost care. His father-in-law, 
Pompeius Julianus, as he greatly distinguished himself in every 
other part of his life, so particularly in this, that though he was 
himself of the highest rank in his province, yet, among many con- 
siderable matches, he preferred Euphrates for his son-in-law, as 
first in merit, though not in dignity. But why do I dwell any longer 
upon the virtues of a man whose conversation I am so unfortunate 
as not to have time sufficiently to enjoy? Is it to increase my regret 
and vexation that I cannot enjoy it? My time is wholly taken up in 
the execution of a very honourable, indeed, but equally troublesome, 
employment; in hearing cases, signing petitions, making up accounts, 
and writing a vast amount of the most illiterate literature. I some- 
times complain to Euphrates (for I have leisure at least to complain) 
of these unpleasing occupations. He endeavours to console me, by 
affirming that, to be engaged in the public service, to hear and 
determine cases, to explain the laws, and administer justice, is a part, 
and the noblest part, too, of philosophy; as it is reducing to practice 
what her professors teach in speculation. But even his rhetoric will 
never be able to convince me that it is better to be at this sort of work 
than to spend whole days in attending his lectures and learning his 
precepts. I cannot therefore but strongly recommend it to you, who 
have the time for it, when next you come to town (and you will 
come, I daresay, so much the sooner for this), to take the benefit of 
his elegant and refined instructions. For I do not (as many do) 
envy others the happiness I cannot share with them myself: on the 


contrary, it is a very sensible pleasure to me when I find my friends 
in possession of an enjoyment from which I have the misfortune to 
be excluded. Farewell. 


To Fabius Justus 

It is a long time since I have had a letter from you. "There is 
nothing to write about," you say: well, then, write and let me know 
just this, that "there is nothing to write about," or tell me in the good 
old style, // you are well, that's right, I am quite well. This will do 
for me, for it imphes everything. You think I am joking? Let mc 
assure you I am in sober earnest. Do let me know how you are; 
for I cannot remain ignorant any longer without growing exceed- 
ingly anxious about you. Farewell. 


To Calestrius Tiro 

I HAVE suffered the heaviest loss; if that word be sufficiently strong 
to express the misfortune which has deprived me of so excellent 
a man. Corellius Rufus is dead; and dead, too, by his own act! A 
circumstance of great aggravation to my affliction: as that sort of 
death which we cannot impute either to the course of nature, or the 
hand of Providence, is, of all others, the most to be lamented. It 
affords some consolation in the loss of those friends whom disease 
snatches from us that they fall by the general destiny of mankind; 
but those who destroy themselves leave us under the inconsolable 
reflection, that they had it in their power to have lived longer. It is 
true, Corellius had many inducements to be fond of life; a blameless 
conscience, high reputation, and great dignity of character, besides 
a daughter, a wife, a grandson, and sisters, and, amidst these 
numerous pledges of happiness, faithful friends. Still, it must be 
owned he had the highest motive (which to a wise man will always 
have the force of destiny) urging him to this resolution. He had 
long been tortured by so tedious and painful a complaint that even 
these inducements to living on, considerable as they are, were over- 

198 PLINY 

balanced by the reasons on the other side. In his thirty-third year 
(as I have frequently heard him say) he was seized with the gout in 
his feet. This was hereditary; for diseases, as well as possessions, are 
sometimes handed down by a sort of inheritance. A life of sobriety 
and continence had enabled him to conquer and keep down the 
disease while he was still young; latterly, as it grew upon him with 
advancing years, he had to manfully bear it, suffering meanwhile the 
most incredible and undeserved agonies; for the gout was now not 
only in his feet, but had spread itself over his whole body. I 
remember, in Domitian's reign, paying him a visit at his villa, near 
Rome. As soon as I entered his chamber, his servants went out: for 
it was his rule never to allow them to be in the room when any 
intimate friend was with him; nay, even his own wife, though she 
could have kept any secret, used to go too. Casting his eyes round the 
room, "Why," he exclaimed, "do you suppose I endure life so long 
under these cruel agonies? It is with the hof)e that I may outlive, at 
least for one day, that villain." Had his bodily strength been equal 
to his resolution, he would have carried his desire into practical effect. 
God heard and answered his prayer; and when he felt that he should 
now die a free, unenslaved Roman, he broke through those other 
great, but now less forcible, attachments to the world. His malady 
increased; and, as it now grew too violent to admit of any relief 
from temperance, he resolutely determined to put an end to its unin- 
terrupted attacks, by an effort of heroism. He had refused all 
sustenance during four days, when his wife, Hispulla, sent our 
common friend Geminius to me, with the melancholy news that 
Corellius was resolved to die; and that neither her own entreaties 
nor her daughter's could move him from his purpose; I was the 
only person left who could reconcile him to life. I ran to his house 
with the utmost precipitation. As I approached it, I met a second 
messenger from Hispulla, Julius Atticus, who informed me there 
was nothing to be hoped for now, even from me, as he seemed more 
hardened than ever in his purpose. He had said, indeed, to his 
physician, who pressed him to take some nourishment, " 'Tis 
resolved": an expression which, as it raised my admiration of the 
greatness of his soul, so it does my grief for the loss of him. I keep 
thinking what a friend, what a man, I am deprived of. That he had 


reached his sixty-seventh year, an age which even the strongest 
seldom exceed, I well know; that he is released from a life of con- 
tinual pain; that he has left his dearest friends behind him, and (what 
was dearer to him than all these) the state in a prosperous condition: 
all this I know. Still I cannot forbear to lament him, as if he had 
been in the prime and vigour of his days; and I lament him (shall 
I own my weakness?) on my own account. And — to confess to you 
as I did to Calvisius, in the first transport of my grief — I sadly fear, 
now that I am no longer under his eye, I shall not keep so strict a 
guard over my conduct. Speak comfort to me then, not that he was 
old, he was infirm: all this I know; but by supplying me with some 
reflections that are new and resistless, which I have never heard, 
never read, anywhere else. For all that I have heard, and all that 
I have read, occur to me of themselves; but all these are by far too 
weak to support me under so severe an affliction. Farewell. 


To Socius Senecio 

This year has produced a plentiful crop of poets: during the whole 
month of April scarcely a day has passed on which we have not been 
entertained with the recital of some poem. It is a pleasure to me to 
find that a taste for polite literature still exists, and that men of 
genius do come forward and make themselves known, notwithstand- 
ing the lazy attendance they get for their pains. The greater part of 
the audience sit in the lounging-places, gossip away their time there, 
and are perpetually sending to enquire whether the author has made 
his entrance yet, whether he has got through the preface, or whether 
he has almost finished the piece. Then at length they saunter in with 
an air of the greatest indifference, nor do they condescend to stay 
through the recital, but go out before it is over, some slyly and 
stealthily, others again with perfect freedom and unconcern. And 
yet our fathers can remember how Claudius Csesar, walking one day 
in the palace, and hearing a great shouting, enquired the cause; and 
being informed that Nonianus ' was reciting a composition of his, 
went immediately to the place, and agreeably surprised the author 

* A pleader and historian of some distinction, mentioned by Tacitus, Ann. xiv. 19, 
and by Quintilian, x. i, 102. 

200 PLINY 

with his presence. But now, were one to bespeak the attendance o£ 
the idlest man living, and remind him of the apfx)intment ever so 
often, or ever so long beforehand; either he would not come at all, or 
if he did would grumble about having "lost a day!" for no other 
reason but because he had not lost it. So much the more do those 
authors deserve our encouragement and applause who have resolu- 
tion to persevere in their studies, and to read out their compositions 
in spite of this apathy or arrogance on the part of their audience. 
Myself indeed, I scarcely ever miss being present upon any occasion; 
though, to tell the truth, the authors have generally been friends of 
mine, as indeed there are few men of literary tastes who are not. 
It is this which has kept me in town longer than I had intended. 1 
am now, however, at liberty to go back into the country, and write 
something myself; which I do not intend reciting, lest I should seem 
rather to have lent than given my attendance to these recitations of 
my friends, for in these, as in all other good offices, the obligatioa 
ceases the moment you seem to expect a return. Farewell. 

To Junius Mauricus 

You desire me to look out a proper husband for your niece: it is 
with justice you enjoin me that office. You know the high esteem 
and affection I bore that great man, her father, and with what noble 
instructions he nurtured my youth, and taught me to deserve those 
praises he was pleased to bestow upon me. You could not give me, 
then, a more important, or more agreeable, commission; nor could 
I be employed in an office of higher honour, than that of choosing 
a young man worthy of being father of the grandchildren of Rusticus 
Arulenus; a choice I should be long in determining, were I not 
acquainted with Minutius iEmilianus, who seems formed for our 
purpose. He loves me with all that warmth of affection which is 
usual between young men of equal years (as indeed I have the 
advance of him but by a very few), and reveres me at the same time, 
with all the deference due to age; and, in a word, he is no less de- 
sirous to model himself by my instructions than I was by those of 
yourself and your brother. 


He is a native of Brixia, one of those provinces in Italy which still 
retain much of the old modesty, frugal simplicity, and even rusticity, 
of manner. He is the son of Minutius Macrinus, whose humble 
desires were satisfied with standing at the head of the equestrian 
order: for though he was nominated by Vespasian in the number of 
those whom that prince dignified with the praetorian office, yet, with 
an inflexible greatness of mind, he resolutely preferred an honourable 
repose to the ambitious, shall I call them, or exalted, pursuits, in 
which we public men are engaged. His grandmother, on the 
mother's side, is Serrana Procula, of Patavium: ' you are no stranger 
to the character of its citizens; yet Serrana is looked upon, even 
among these correct people, as an exemplary instance of strict 
virtue. Acilius, his uncle, is a man of almost exceptional gravity, 
wisdom, and integrity. In short, you will find nothing throughout 
his family unworthy of yours. Minutius himself has plenty of 
vivacity, as well as application, together with a most amiable and 
becoming modesty. He has already, with considerable credit, passed 
through the offices of quarstor, tribune, and praetor; so that you will 
be spared the trouble of soliciting for him those honourable employ- 
ments. He has a fine, well-bred countenance, with a ruddy, healthy 
complexion, while his whole person is elegant and comely and his 
mien graceful and senatorian: advantages, I think, by no means to 
be slighted, and which I consider as the proper tribute to virgin 
innocence. I think I may add that his father is very rich. When I 
contemplate the character of those who require a husband of my 
choosing, I know it is unnecessary to mention wealth; but when I 
reflect upon the prevailing manners of the age, and even the laws of 
Rome, which rank a man according to his possessions, it certainly 
claims some regard; and, indeed, in establishments of this nature, 
where children and many other circumstances are to be duly weighed, 
it is an article that well deserves to be taken into the account. You 
will be inclined, perhaps, to suspect that affection has had too great a 
share in the character I have been drawing, and that I have height- 
ened it beyond the truth; but I will stake all my credit, you will find 
everything far beyond what I have represented. I love the young 
fellow indeed (as he justly deserves) with all the warmth of a most 

' Padua. 

202 PLINY 

ardent af]Eection; but for that very reason I would not ascribe more 
to his merit than I know it will bear. Farewell. 


To Septitius Clarus 

Ah! you are a pretty fellow! You make an engagement to come 
to supper and then never appear. Justice shall be exacted; — you shall 
reimburse me to the very last penny the expense I went to on your 
account; no small sum, let me tell you. I had prepared, you must 
know, a lettuce apiece, three snails, two eggs, and a barley cake, with 
some sweet wine and snow (the snow most certainly I shall charge 
to your account, as a rarity that will not keep). Olives, beet-root, 
gourds, onions, and a thousand other dainties equally sumptuous. 
You should likewise have been entertained either with an interlude, 
the rehearsal of a poem, or a piece of music, whichever you preferred; 
or (such was my liberaUty) with all three. But the oysters, sows'- 

bellies, sea-urchins, and dancers from Cadiz of a certain 1 know 

not who, were, it seems, more to your taste. You shall give satisfac- 
tion; how, shall at present be a secret. 

Oh! you have behaved cruelly, grudging your friend, — I had 
almost said yourself; — and upon second thoughts I do say so; — in 
this way: for how agreeably should we have spent the evening, in 
laughing, trifling, and literary amusements! You may sup, I confess, 
at many places more splendidly; but nowhere with more uncon- 
strained mirth, simplicity, and freedom: only make the experiment, 
and if you do not ever after excuse yourself to your other friends, to 
come to me, always put me off to go to them. Farewell. 



You tell me in your letter that you are extremely alarmed by a 
dream; apprehending that it forebodes some ill success to you in the 
case you have undertaken to defend; and, therefore, desire that I 


would get it adjourned for a few days, or, at least, to the next. This 
will be no easy matter, but I will try : 

"... For dreams descend from Jove." 

Meanwhile, it is very material for you to recollect whether your 
dreams generally represent things as they afterwards fall out, or 
quite the reverse. But if I may judge of yours by one that happened 
to myself, this dream that alarms you seems to portend that you will 
acquit yourself with great success. I had promised to stand counsel 
for Junius Pastor; when I fancied in my sleep that my mother-in- 
law came to me, and, throwing herself at my feet, earnestly entreated 
me not to plead. I was at that time a very young man; the case was 
to be argued in the four centumviral courts; my adversaries were 
some of the most important personages in Rome, and particular 
favourites of Caesar; ' any of which circumstances were sufficient, 
after such an inauspicious dream, to have discouraged me. Notwith- 
standing this, I engaged in the cause, reflecting that, 

"Without a sign, his sword the brave man draws. 
And asks no omen but his country's cause";' 

for I looked upon the promise I had given to be as sacred to me as 
my country, or, if that were possible, more so. The event happened 
as I wished; and it was that very case which first procured me the 
favourable attention of the public, and threw open to me the gates of 
Fame. Consider then whether your dream, like this one I have 
related, may not presignify success. But, after all, perhaps you will 
think it safer to pursue this cautious maxim: "Never do a thing con- 
cerning the rectitude of which you are in doubt"; if so, write me 
word. In the interval, I will consider of some excuse, and will so 
plead your cause that you may be able to plead it yourself any day 
you like best. In this respect, you are in a better situation than I 
was: the court of the centumviri, where I was to plead, admits of no 
adjournment: whereas, in that where your case is to be heard, though 
no easy matter to procure one, still, however, it is possible. Farewell. 

'Domitian. 'Iliad, xii. 243. Pope. 

204 PLINY 



As you are my townsman, my schoolfellow, and the earliest com- 
panion of my youth; as there was the strictest friendship between 
my mother and uncle and your father (a happiness which I also 
enjoyed as far as the great inequality of our ages would admit) ; can 
I fail (thus biassed as I am by so many and weighty considerations) 
to contribute all in my power to the advancement of your honours? 
The rank you bear in our province, as decurio, is a proof that you are 
possessed, at least, of an hundred thousand sesterces;' but that we 
may also have the satisfaction of seeing you a Roman knight,' I 
present you with three hundred thousand, in order to make up the 
sum requisite to entitle you to that dignity. The long acquaintance 
we have had leaves me no room to apprehend you will ever be 
forgetful of this instance of my friendship. And I know your disposi- 
tion too well to think it necessary to advise you to enjoy this honour 
with the modesty that becomes a person who receives it from me; 
for the advanced rank we possess through a friend's kindness is a 
sort of sacred trust, in which we have his judgment, as well as our 
own character, to maintain, and therefore to be guarded with the 
greater caution. Farewell. 


To Cornelius Tacitus 

I HAVE frequent debates with a certain acquaintance of mine, a 
man of skill and learning, who admires nothing so m-^ch in the elo- 
quence of the bar as conciseness. I agree with him, that where the 
case will admit of this precision, it may with propriety be adopted; 

' Equal to about $4,000 of our money. 

' "The equestrian dignity, or that order of the Roman people which we commonly 
call J^nights, had nothing in it analogous to any order of modern knighthood, but 
depended entirely upon a valuation of their estates; and every citizen whose entire 
fortune amounted to 400,000 sesterces, that is, to about $16,000 of our money, was 
enrolled, of course, in the list of knights, who were considered as a middle order 
between the senators and common people, yet, without any other distinction than the 
privilege of wearing a gold ring, which was the peculiar badge of their order." Life 
of Cicero, vol. i., iii. in note. M. 


but insist that, to leave out what is material to be mentioned, or only 
briefly and cursorily to touch upon those points which should be 
inculcated, impressed, and urged well home up)on the minds of the 
audience, is a downright fraud upon one's client. In many cases, 
to deal with the subject at greater length adds strength and weight 
to our ideas, which frequently produce their impression upon the 
mind, as iron does upon solid bodies, rather by repeated strokes than 
a single blow. In answer to this, he usually has recourse to authori- 
ties, and produces Lysias' amongst the Grecians, together with Cato 
and the two Gracchi among our own countrymen, many of whose 
speeches certainly are brief and curtailed. In return, I name Demos- 
thenes, jtschines, Hyperides,* and many others, in opposition to 
Lysias; while I confront Cato and the Gracchi with Caesar, Pollio,' 
Ciclius,' but, above all, Cicero, whose longest speech is generally 
considered his best. Why, no doubt about it, in good compositions, 
as in everything else that is valuable, the more there is of them, the 
better. You may observe in statues, basso-relievos, pictures, and the 
human form, and even in animals and trees, that nothing is more 
graceful than magnitude, if accompanied with proportion. The 
same holds true in pleading; and even in books a large volume 
carries a certain beauty and authority in its very size. My antagonist, 
who is extremely dexterous at evading an argument, eludes all this, 
and much more, which I usually urge to the same purpose, by insist- 
ing that those very individuals, upon whose works I found my 
opinion, made considerable additions to their speeches when they 
published them. This I deny; and appeal to the harangues of num- 
berless orators, particularly to those of Cicero, for Murena and 
Varenus, in which a short, bare notification of certain charges is 
expressed under mere heads. Whence it appears that many things 
which he enlarged upon at the time he delivered those speeches 
were retrenched when he gave them to the public. The same excel- 
lent orator informs us that, agreeably to the ancient custom, which 

' An elegant Attic orator, remarkable for the grace and lucidity of his style, also 
for his vivid and accurate delineations of character. 

* A graceful and powerful orator, and friend of Demosthenes. 

' A Roman orator of the Augustan age. He was a poet and historian as well, 
but gained most distinction as an orator. 

* A man of considerable taste, talent, and eloquence, but profligate and extravagant. 
He was on terms of some intimacy with Cicero. 

206 PLINY 

allowed only of one counsel on a side, Cluentius had no other advo- 
cate than himself; and he tells us further that he employed four 
whole days in defence of Cornelius; by which it plainly appears that 
those speeches which, when delivered at their full length, had 
necessarily taken up so much time at the bar were considerably cut 
down and pruned when he afterwards compressed them into a single 
volume, though, I must confess, indeed, a large one. But good plead- 
ing, it is objected, is one thing, just composition another. This 
objection, I am aware, has had some favourers; nevertheless, I am 
persuaded (though I may, perhaps, be mistaken) that, as it is 
{X)ssible you may have a good pleading which is not a good speech, 
so a good speech cannot be a bad pleading; for the speech on paper is 
the model and, as it were, the archetype of the speech that was 
delivered. It is for this reason we find, in many of the best speeches 
extant, numberless extemporaneous turns of expression; and even in 
those which we are sure were never spoken; as, for instance, in the 
following passage from the speech against Verres: "A certain 
mechanic — what's his name.' Oh, thank you for helping me to it: 
yes, I mean Polyclitus." It follows, then, that the nearer approach a 
speaker makes to the rules of just composition, the more perfect will 
he be in his art; always supposing, however, that he has his due share 
of time allowed him; for, if he be limited of that article, no blame 
can justly be fixed upon the advocate, though much certainly upon 
the judge. The sense of the laws, I am sure, is on my side, which are 
by no means sparing of the orator's time; it is not conciseness, but 
fulness, a complete representation of every material circumstance, 
which they recommend. Now conciseness cannot effect this, unless 
in the most insignificant cases. Let me add what exp)erience, that 
unerring guide, has taught me: it has frequently been my province to 
act both as an advocate and a judge; and I have often also attended 
as an assessor.' Upon those occasions, I have ever found the judg- 
ments of mankind are to be influenced by different modes of applica- 
tion, and that the slightest circumstances frequently produce the 
most important consequences. The disp)ositions and understandings 
of men vary to such an extent that they seldom agree in their 

' The prstor was assisted by ten assessors, five of whom were senators, and the rest 
knights. With these he was obliged to consult before he pronounced sentence. M. 


opinions concerning any one point in debate before them; or, if 
they do, it is generally from different motives. Besides, as every man 
is naturally partial to his own discoveries, when he hears an argument 
urged which had previously occurred to himself, he will be sure to 
embrace it as extremely convincing. The orator, therefore, should 
so adapt himself to his audience as to throw out something which 
every one of them, in turn, may receive and approve as agreeable to 
his own particular views. I recollect, once when Regulus and 
I were engaged on the same side, his remarking to me, "You seem 
to think it necessary to go into every single circumstance: whereas 
I always take aim at once at my adversary's throat, and there I 
press him closely." ('Tis true, he keeps a tight hold of whatever 
part he has once fixed upon; but the misfortune is, he is extremely 
apt to fix upon the wrong place.) I replied, it might f>ossibly happen 
that what he called the throat was, in reality, the )^«<rr or the anf(le. 
As for myself, said I, who do not pretend to direct my aim with 
so much precision, I test every part, I probe every opening; in short, 
to use a vulgar proverb, / leave no stone unturned. And as, in 
agriculture, it is not my vineyards or my woods only, but my fields 
as well, that I look after and cultivate, and (to carry on the metaphor) 
as I do not content myself with sowing those fields simply with 
corn or white wheat, but sprinkle in barley, pulse, and the other 
kinds of grain; so, in my pleadings at the bar, I scatter broadcast 
various arguments like so many kinds of seed, in order to reap 
whatever may happen to come up. For the disposition of your 
judges is as hard to fathom as uncertain, and as little to be relied 
on as that of soils and seasons. The comic writer Eupolis,* I 
remember, mentions it in praise of that excellent orator, Pericles, that 

"On his lip>s Persuasion hung. 
And powerful Reason rul'd his tongue: 
Thus he alone could boast the art 
To charm at once, and pierce the heart." 

But could Pericles, without the richest variety of expression, and 

merely by the force of the concise or the rapid style, or both (for 

they are very different), have thus charmed and pierced the heart? 

' A contemporary and rival of Aristophanes. 

208 PLINY 

To delight and to persuade require time and great command of 
language; and to leave a sting in the minds of the audience is an 
effect not to be expected from an orator who merely pin^s, but 
from him, and him only, who thrusts in. Another comic poet,' 
speaking of the same orator, says, 

"His mighty words like Jove's own thunder roll; 
Greece hears, and trembles to her inmost soul." 

But it is not the close and reserved; it is the copious, the majestic, 
and the sublime orator, who thunders, who lightens, who, in short, 
bears all before him in a confused whirl. There is, undeniably, a 
just mean in everything; but he equally misses the mark who falls 
short of it, as he who goes beyond it; he who is too limited, as he 
who is too unrestrained. Hence it is as common a thing to hear 
our orators condemned for being too jejune and feeble as too 
excessive and redundant. One is said to have exceeded the bounds 
of his subject, the other not to have reached them. Both, no doubt, 
are equally in fault, with this difference, however, that in the one 
the fault arises from an abundance, in the other, from a deficiency; 
an error, in the former case, which, if it be not the sign of a more 
correct, is certainly of a more fertile genius. When I say this, I 
would not be understood to approve that everlasting talker' men- 
tioned in Homer, but that other* described in the following lines: 

"Frequent and soft, as falls the winter snow. 
Thus from his lips the copious periods flow." 

Not but that I extremely admire him,'° too, of whom the poet says, 
"Few were his words, but wonderfully strong." 

Yet, if the choice were given me, I should give the preference to 

that style resembling winter snow, that is, to the full, uninterrupted, 

and diffusive; in short, to that pomp of eloquence which seems all 

heavenly and divine. But (it is replied) the harangue of a more 

moderate length is most generally admired. It is: — but only by 

indolent people; and to fix the standard by their laziness and false 

'Aristophanes, Ach. 531. 

•Thersites. Iliad, ii. v. 212. •Ulysses. Iliad, iii. v. 212. 

'"Menelaus. Iliad, iii. f. 214. 


delicacy would be simply ridiculous. Were you to consult persons 
of this cast, they would tell you, not only that it is best to say Uttle, 
but that it is best to say nothing at all. Thus, my friend, I have laid 
before you my opinions upon this subject, and I am willing to 
change them if not agreeable to yours. But should you disagree 
with me, pray let me know clearly your reasons why. For, though 
I ought to yield in this case to your more enlightened judgment, 
yet, in a point of such consequence, I had rather be convinced by 
argument than by authority. So if I don't seem to you very wide 
of the mark, a line or two from you in return, intimating your 
concurrence, will be sufficient to confirm me in my opinion: on the 
other hand, if you should think me mistaken, let me have your 
objections at full length. Does it not look rather like bribery, my 
requiring only a short letter if you agree with me; but a very long 
one if you should be of a different opinion.' Farewell. 


To Paternus 

As I rely very much upon the soundness of your judgment, so 
I do upon the goodness of your eyes: not because I think your dis- 
cernment very great (for I don't want to make you conceited), but 
because I think it as good as mine: which, it must be confessed, is 
saying a great deal. Joking apart, I like the look of the slaves which 
were purchased for me on your recommendation very well; all 
I further care about is, that they be honest: and for this I must 
depend upon their characters more than their countenances. Farewell. 


To Cato-ius Severus' 

I AM at present (and have been a considerable time) detained in 
Rome, under the most stunning apprehensions. Titus Aristo,' whom 
I have a singular admiration and affection for, is fallen into a long 
and obstinate illness, which troubles me. Virtue, knowledge, and 

' Great-Rrandfather of the Emperor M. Aurelius. 
' An eminent lawyer of Trajan's reign. 

210 PLINY 

good sense shine out with so superior a lustre in this excellent man 
that learning herself, and every valuable endowment, seem involved 
in the danger of his single person. How consummate his knowledge, 
both in the political and civil laws of his country! How thoroughly 
conversant is he in every branch of history or antiquity! In a word, 
there is nothing you might wish to know which he could not teach 
you. As for me, whenever I would acquaint myself with any abstruse 
point, I go to him as my storehouse. What an engaging sincerity, 
what dignity in his conversation! how chastened and becoming is 
his caution! Though he conceives, at once, every f)oint in debate, 
yet he is as slow to decide as he is quick to apprehend; calmly and 
deliberately sifting and weighing every opposite reason that is 
offered, and tracing it, with a most judicious penetration, from its 
source through all its remotest consequences. His diet is frugal, his 
dress plain; and whenever I enter his chamber, and view him re- 
clined upon his couch, I consider the scene before me as a true 
image of ancient simplicity, to which his illustrious mind reflects 
the noblest ornament. He places no part of his happiness in ostenta- 
tion, but in the secret approbation of his conscience, seeking the 
reward of his virtue, not in the clamorous applauses of the world, 
but in the silent satisfaction which results from having acted well. 
In short, you will not easily find his equal, even among our phil- 
osophers by outward profession. No, he does not frequent the 
gymnasia or porticoes,' nor does he amuse his own and others* 
leisure with endless controversies, but busies himself in the scenes 
of civil and active life. Many has he assisted with his interest, still 
more with his advice, and withal in the practice of temperance, 
piety, justice, and fortitude, he has no superior. You would be 
astonished, were you there to see, at the patience with which he 
bears his illness, how he holds out against pain, endures thirst, 
and quietly submits to this raging fever and to the pressure of 
those clothes which are laid up)on him to promote p)erspiration. He 
lately called me and a few more of his particular friends to his 
bedside, requesting us to ask his physicians what turn they appre- 

' The philosophers used to hold their disputations in the g>'mnasia and porticoes^ 
being places of the most public resort for walking, &c. M. 


hended his distemper would take; that, if they pronounced it 
incurable, he might voluntarily put an end to his life; but if there 
were hopes of a recovery, how tedious and difficult soever it might 
prove, he would calmly wait the event; for so much, he thought, 
was due to the tears and entreaties of his wife and daughter, and 
to the affectionate intercession of his friends, as not voluntarily to 
abandon our hopes, if they were not entirely desperate. A true 
hero's resolution this, in my estimation, and worthy the highest 
applause. Instances are frequent in the world, of rushing into the 
arms of death without reflection and by a sort of blind impulse; 
but deliberately to weigh the reasons for life or death, and to be 
determined in our choice as either side of the scale prevails, shows 
a great mind. We have had the satisfaction to receive the opinion 
of his physicians in his favour: may heaven favour their promises 
and relieve me at length from this painful anxiety. Once easy in 
my mind, I shall go back to my favourite Laurentum, or, in other 
words, to my books, my paf>ers and studious leisure. Just now, so 
much of my time and thoughts are taken up in attendance upon 
my friend, and anxiety for him, that I have neither leisure nor 
inclination for any reading or writing whatever. Thus you have 
my fears, my wishes, and my after-plans. Write me in return, but 
in a gayer strain, an account not only of what you are and have 
been doing, but of what you intend doing too. It will be a very 
sensible consolation to me in this disturbance of mind, to be 
assured that yours is easy. Farewell. 



Rome has not for many years beheld a more magnificent and 
memorable spectacle than was lately exhibited in the public funeral 
of that great, illustrious, and no less fortunate man, Verginius Rufus. 
He lived thirty years after he had reached the zenith of his fame. 
He read poems composed in his honour, he read histories of his 
achievements, and was himself witness of his fame among posterity. 
He was thrice raised to the dignity of consul, that he might at 

212 PLINY 

least be the highest of subjects, who' had refused to be the first 
of princes. As he escaf)ed the resentment of those emperors to whom 
his virtues had given umbrage and even rendered him odious, and 
ended his days when this best of princes, this friend of mankind,* 
was in quiet possession of the empire, it seems as if Providence 
had purpwsely preserved him to these times, that he might receive 
the honour of a public funeral. He reached his eighty-fourth year, 
in full tranquillity and universally revered, having enjoyed strong 
health during his lifetime, with the exception of a trembling in 
his hands, which, however, gave him no pain. His last illness, 
indeed, was severe and tedious, but even that circumstance added 
to his reputation. As he was practising his voice with a view of 
returning his public acknowledgments to the emperor, who had 
promoted him to the consulship, a large volume he had taken into 
his hand, and which happened to be too heavy for so old a man 
to hold standing up, slid from his grasp. In hastily endeavouring 
to recover it, his foot slipped on the smooth pavement, and he 
fell down and broke his thigh-bone, which, being clumsily set, his 
age as well being against him, did not properly unite again. The 
funeral obsequies paid to the memory of this great man have 
done honour to the emperor, to the age, and to the bar. The consul 
Cornelius Tacitus' pronounced his funeral oration, and thus his 
good fortune was crowned by the public applause of so eloquent 
an orator. He has departed from our midst, full of years, indeed, 
and of glory, as illustrious by the honours he refused as by those 
he accepted. Yet still we shall miss him and lament him, as the 
shining model of a past age; I, especially, shall feel his loss, for 
I not only admired him as a patriot, but loved him as a friend. 
We were of the same province, and of neighbouring towns, and 
our estates were also contiguous. Besides these accidental connec- 
tions, he was left my guardian, and always treated me with a 

' "Verginius Rufus was governor of Upper Germany at the time of the revolt of 
Julius Vindcx in Gaul, a.d. 68. The soldiers of Verginius wished to raise him to the 
empire, but he refused the honour, and marched against Vindcx, who perished before 
Vesontio. After the death of Nero, Verginius supported the claims of Galba, and 
accompanied him to Rome. Upon Otho's death, the soldiers again attempted to 
proclaim Verginius emperor, and in consequence of his refusal of the honour, he 
narrowly escaped with his life." (Sec Smith's Diet, of Greek and Rom. Biog., tec.) 
' Ncrva. ' The historian. 


parent's affection. Whenever I offered myself as a candidate for 
any office in the state, he constantly supported me with his interest; 
and although he had long since given up all such services to friends, 
he would kindly leave his retirement and come to give me his 
vote in person. On the day on which the priests nominate those 
they consider most worthy of the sacred office/ he constantly pro- 
posed me. Even in his last illness, apprehending the fxjssibility of 
the senate's appointing him one of the five commissioners for 
reducing the public expenses, he fixed upon me, young as I am, 
to bear his excuses, in preference to so many other friends, elderly 
men too, and of consular rank, and said to me, "Had I a son of 
my own, I would entrust you with this matter." And so I cannot 
but lament his death, as though it were premature, and pour out 
my grief into your bosom; if indeed one has any right to grieve, 
or to call it death at all, which to such a man terminates his mortality, 
rather than ends his life. He lives, and will live on for ever; and 
his fame will extend and be more celebrated by posterity, now that 
he is gone from our sight. I had much else to write to you, but 
my mind is full of this. I keep thinking of Verginius: I see him 
before me: I am for ever fondly yet vividly imagining that I hear 
him, am speaking to him, embrace him. There are men amongst 
us, his fellow<itizens, perhaps, who may rival him in virtue; but 
not one that will ever approach him in glory. Farewell. 

To Nepos 

The great fame of Isxus had already preceded him here; but we 

find him even more wonderful than we had heard. He possesses 

the utmost readiness, copiousness, and abundance of language: he 

always speaks extempore, and his lectures are as finished as though 

he had spent a long time over their written composition. His style 

* Namely, of augurs. "This college, as regulated by Sylla, consisted of fifteen, 
who were all persons of the first distinction in Rome; it was a priesthood for life, of a 
character indelible, which no crime or forfeiture could efface; it was necessary that 
every candidate should be nominated to the people by two augurs, who gave a solemn 
testimony upon oath of his dignity and fitness for that office." Middleton's Life of 
Cicero, p. 147. M. 

214 PLINY 

is Greek, or rather the genuine Attic. His exordiums are terse^ 
elegant, attractive, and occasionally impressive and majestic. He 
suggests several subjects for discussion, allows his audience their 
choice, sometimes to even name which side he shall take, rises, 
arranges himself, and begins. At once he has everything almost 
equally at command. Recondite meanings of things are suggested 
to you, and words — what words they are! exquisitely chosen and 
polished. These extempore speeches of his show the wideness of 
his reading, and how much practice he has had in composition. 
His preface is to the point, his narrative lucid, his summing up 
forcible, his rhetorical ornament imposing. In a word, he teaches, 
entertains, and affects you; and you are at a loss to decide which 
of the three he does best. His reflections are frequent, his syllogisms 
also are frequent, condensed, and carefully finished, a result not 
easily attainable even with the f)en. As for his memory, you would 
hardly believe what it is capable of. He repeats from a long way 
back what he has previously delivered extempore, without missing 
a single word. This marvellous faculty he has acquired by dint of 
great application and practice, for night and day he does nothing, 
hears nothing, says nothing else. He has passed his sixtieth year 
and is still only a rhetorician, and I know no class of men more 
single-hearted, more genuine, more excellent than this class. We 
who have to go through the rough work of the bar and of real 
disputes unavoidably contract a certain unprincipled adroitness. The 
school, the lecture-room, the imaginary case, all this, on the other 
hand, is perfectly innocent and harmless, and equally enjoyable, 
especially to old people, for what can be happier at that time of 
life than to enjoy what we found pleasantest in our young days? 
I consider Isjeus then, not only the most eloquent, but the happiest, 
of men, and if you are not longing to make his acquaintance, you 
must be made of stone and iron. So, if not upon my account, or 
for any other reason, come, for the sake of hearing this man, at 
least. Have you never read of a certain inhabitant of Cadiz who 
was so impressed with the name and fame of Livy that he came 
from the remotest corner of the earth on purpose to see him, and, 
his curiosity gratified, went straight home again. It is utter want 


o£ taste, shows simple ignorance, is almost an actual disgrace to a 
man, not to set any high value upon a proficiency in so pleasing, 
noble, refining a science. "I have authors," you will reply, "here 
in my own study, just as eloquent." True: but then those authors 
you can read at any time, while you cannot always get the oppor- 
tunity of hearing eloquence. Besides, as the proverb says, "The living 
voice is that which sways the soul"; yes, far more. For notwith- 
standing what one reads is more clearly understood than what one 
hears, yet the utterance, countenance, garb, aye, and the very ges- 
tures of the speaker, alike concur in fixing an impression upon the 
mind; that is, unless we disbelieve the truth of iEschines' statement, 
who, after he had read to the Rhodians that celebrated speech of 
Demosthenes, upon their expressing their admiration of it, is said 
to have added, "Ah! what would you have said, could you have 
heard the wild beast himself?" And ^schines, if we may take 
Demosthenes' word for it, was no mean elocutionist; yet, he could 
not but confess that the speech would have sounded far finer from 
the lips of its author. I am saying all this with a view to persuading 
you to hear Isxus, if even for the mere sake of being able to say 
you have heard him. Farewell. 


To Avrrus 

It would be a long story, and of no great importance, to tell 
you by what accident I found myself dining the other day with an 
individual with whom I am by no means intimate, and who, in 
his own opinion, does things in good style and economically as well, 
but according to mine, with meanness and extravagance combined. 
Some very elegant dishes were served up to himself and a few more 
of us, whilst those placed before the rest of the company consisted 
simply of cheap dishes and scraps. There were, in small bottles, 
three different kinds of wine; not that the guests might take their 
choice, but that they might not have any option in thar power; 
one kind being for himself, and for us; another sort for his lesser 
friends (for it seems he has degrees of friends), and the third for 

2l6 PLINY 

his own freedmen and ours. My neighbour,' recUning next me, 
observing this, asked me if I approved the arrangement. Not at all, 
I told him. "Pray then," he asked, "what is your method upon 
such occasions?" "Mine," I returned, "is to give all my visitors 
the same reception; for when I give an invitation, it is to entertain, 
not distinguish, my company: I place every man upon my own level 
whom I admit to my table." "Not excepting even your freedmen?" 
"Not excepting even my freedmen, whom I consider on these occa- 
sions my guests, as much as any of the rest." He replied, "This 
must cost you a great deal." "Not in the least." "How can that be?" 
"Simply because, although my freedmen don't drink the same wine 
as myself, yet I drink the same as they do." And, no doubt about 
it, if a man is wise enough to moderate his appetite, he will not 
find it such a very expensive thing to share with all his visitors 
what he takes himself. Restrain it, keep it in, if you wish to be a 
true economist. You will find temperance a far better way of 
saving than treating other p)eople rudely can be. Why do I say 
all this? Why, for fear a young man of your high character and 
promise should be imposed upon by this immoderate luxury which 
prevails at some tables, under the specious notion of frugality. When- 
ever any folly of this sort falls under my eye, I shall, just because 
I care for you, p)oint it out to you as an example you ought to shun. 
Remember, then, nothing is more to be avoided than this modern 
alliance of luxury with meanness; odious enough when existing 
separate and distinct, but still more hateful where you meet with 
them together. Farewell. 


To Macrinus 

The senate decreed yesterday, on the emperor's motion, a tri- 
umphal statue to Vestricius Spurinna: not as they would to many 
others, who never were in action, or saw a camp, or heard the 

' The ancient Greeks and Romans did not sit up at the table as wc do, but re- 
clined round it on couches, three and sometimes even four occupying one couch; at 
least this latter was the custom amonf; the Romans. Each guest lay flat upon his 
chest while eating, reaching out his hand from time to time to the table, for what 
he might require. As soon as he had made a sufficient meal, he turned over upon 
his left side, leaning on the elbow. 


sound of a trumpet, unless at a show; but as it would be decreed 
to those who have justly bought such a distinction with their blood, 
their exertions, and their deeds. Spurinna forcibly restored the king 
of the Bructeri' to his throne; and this by the noblest kind of 
victory; for he subdued that warlike people by the terror of the 
mere display of his preparation for the campaign. This is his 
reward as a hero, while, to console him for the loss of his son 
Cottius, who died during his absence upon that expedition, they 
also voted a statue to the youth; a very unusual honour for one 
so young; but the services of the father deserved that the pain 
of so severe a wound should be soothed by no common balm. Indeed 
Cottius himself evinced such remarkable promise of the highest 
qualities that it is but fitting his short, limited term of life should 
be extended, as it were, by this kind of immortality. He was so pure 
and blameless, so full of dignity, and commanded such resf)ect, that 
he might have challenged in moral goodness much older men, with 
whom he now shares equal honours. Honours, if I am not mistaken, 
conferred not only to perpetuate the memory of the deceased youth, 
and in consolation to the surviving father, but for the sake of public 
example also. This will rouse and stimulate our young men to 
cultivate every worthy principle, when they see such rewards be- 
stowed ufxjn one of their own years, provided he deserve them: at 
the same time that men of quality will be encouraged to beget chil- 
dren and to have the joy and satisfaction of leaving a worthy race 
behind, if their children survive them, or of so glorious a consolation, 
should they survive their children. Looking at it in this light then, 
I am glad, upon public grounds, that a statue is decreed Cottius: 
and for my own sake too, just as much; for I loved this most 
favoured, gifted youth, as ardently as I now grievously miss him 
amongst us. So that it will be a great satisfaction to me to be able 
to look at this figure from time to time as I pass by, contemplate it, 
stand underneath, and walk to and fro before it. For if having the 
pictures of the departed placed in our homes lightens sorrow, how 
much more those public representations of them which are not only 
memorials of their air and countenance, but of their glory and honour 
besides! Farewell. 

' A people of German)'. 

2l8 PLINY 


To Pwscus 

As I know you eagerly embrace every opportunity of obliging me, 
so there is no man whom I had rather be under an obligation to. 
I apply to you, therefore, in preference to anyone else, for a 
favour which I am extremely desirous of obtaining. You, who are 
commander-in-chief of a very considerable army, have many oppor- 
tunities of exercising your generosity; and the length of time you 
have enjoyed that post must have enabled you to provide for all 
your own friends. I hope you will now turn your eyes upon some 
of mine: as indeed they are but a few. Your generous disposition, 
I know, would be better pleased if the number were greater, but 
one or two will suffice my modest desires; at present I will only 
mention Voconius Romanus. His father was of great distinction 
among the Roman knights, and his father-in-law, or, I might more 
prof)erly call him, his second father (for his affectionate treatment 
of Voconius entitles him to that appellation), was still more con- 
spicuous. His mother was one of the most considerable ladies of 
Upper Spain: you know what character the (jeople of that province 
bear, and how remarkable they are for their strictness of their 
manners. As for himself, he lately held the post of flamen.' Now, 
from the time when we were first students together, I have felt very 
tenderly attached to him. We lived under the same roof, in town 
and country, we joked together, we shared each other's serious 
thoughts: for where indeed could I have found a truer friend or 
pleasanter companion than he? In his conversation, and even in his 
very voice and countenance, there is a rare sweetness; as at the bar 
he displays talents of a high order; acuteness, elegance, ease, and 
skill : and he writes such letters too that were you to read them you 
would imagine they had been dictated by the Muses themselves. I 
have a very great affection for him, as he has for me. Even in the 
earlier part of our lives, I warmly embraced every opportunity of 

' "Any Roman priest devoted to the service of one particular god was designated 
Flamen, receiving a distinguishing epithet from the deity to whom he ministered. 
The office was understood to last for life; but a flamen might be compelled to resign 
for a breach of duty, or even on account of the occurrence of an ill-omened accident 
while discharging his functions." Smith's Dictionary of Antiquities. 


doing him all the good services which then by in my power, as 
I have lately obtained for him from our most gracious prince^ the 
privilege' granted to those who have three children: a favour which, 
though Cisar very rarely bestows, and always with great caution, 
yet he conferred, at my request, in such a manner as to give it the 
air and grace of being his own choice. The best way of showing that 
I think he deserves the kindnesses he has already received from me 
is by increasing them, especially as he always accepts my services 
so gratefully as to deserve more. Thus I have shown you what 
manner of man Romanus is, how thoroughly I have proved his 
worth, and how much I love him. Let me entreat you to honour 
him with your patronage in a way suitable to the generosity of 
your heart, and the eminence of your station. But above all let him 
have your affection; for though you were to confer upon him the 
utmost you have in your power to bestow, you can give him nothing 
more valuable than your friendship. That you may see he is worthy 
of it, even to the closest degree of intimacy, I send you this brief 
sketch of his tastes, character, his whole life, in fact. I should con- 
tinue my intercessions in his behalf, but that I know you prefer 
not being pressed, and I have already repeated them in every line 
of this letter: for to show a good reason for what one asks is true 
intercession, and of the most effectual kind. Farewell. 


To Maximus 

You guessed correctly: I am much engaged in pleading before 
the Hundred. The business there is more fatiguing than pleasant. 
Trifling, inconsiderable cases, mostly; it is very seldom that anything 
worth speaking of, either from the importance of the question or 
the rank of the persons concerned, comes before them. There are 
very few lawyers either whom I take any pleasure in working with. 
The rest, a parcel of impudent young fellows, many of whom one 
knows nothing whatever about, come here to get some practice in 

* Trajan. 

' By a law passed A.u. 762, it was enacted that every citizen of Rome who had 
three children should be excused from all troublesome offices where he lived. This 
privilege the emperors sometimes extended to those who were not legally entided to it. 

220 PLINY 

speaking, and conduct themselves so forwardly and with such utter 
want of deference that my friend Attilius exactly hit it, I think, 
when he made the observation that "boys set out at the bar with 
cases in the Court of the Hundred as they do at school with Homer," 
intimating that at both places they begin where they should end. 
But in former times (so my elders tell me) no youth, even of the 
best families, was allowed in unless introduced by some person of 
consular dignity. As things are now, since every fence of modesty 
and decorum is broken down, and all distinctions are levelled and 
confounded, the present young generation, so far from waiting to 
be introduced, break in of their own free will. The audience at 
their heels are fit attendants upon such orators; a low rabble of 
hired mercenaries, supplied by contract. They get together in the 
middle of the court, where the dole is dealt round to them as 
openly as if they were in a dining-room: and at this noble price 
they run from court to court. The Greeks have an appropriate name 
in their language for this sort of people, importing that they are 
applauders by profession, and we stigmatize them with the oppro- 
brious title of table-flatterers: yet the dirty business alluded to 
increases every day. It was only yesterday two of my domestic 
officers, mere striplings, were hired to cheer somebody or other, 
at three denarii apiece:' this is what the highest eloquence goes for. 
Upon these terms we fill as many benches as we please, and gather 
a crowd: this is how those rending shouts are raised, as soon as the 
individual standing up in the middle of the ring gives the signal. 
For, you must know, these honest fellows, who understand nothing 
of what is said, or, if they did, could not hear it, would be at a 
loss without a signal, how to time their applause: for many of 
them don't hear a syllable, and are as noisy as any of the rest. If, 
at any time, you should happen to be passing by when the court 
is sitting, and feel at all interested to know how any speaker is 
acquitting himself, you have no occasion to give yourself the trouble 
of getting up on the judge's platform, no need to listen; it is easy 
enough to find out, for you may be quite sure he that gets most 
applause deserves it the least. Largius Licinus was the first to 
introduce this fashion; but then he went no farther than to go 

' About 54 cents. 


round and solicit an audience. I know, I remember hearing this 
from my tutor Quinctilian. "I used," he told me, "to go and hear 
Domitius Afer, and as he was pleading once before the Hundred 
in his usual slow and impressive manner, hearing, close to him, a 
most immoderate and unusual noise, and being a good deal sur- 
prised at this, he left off: the noise ceased, and he began again: he 
was interrupted a second time, and a third. At last he enquired who 
it was that was speaking? He was told, Licinus. Upon which, 
he broke off the case, exclaiming, 'Eloquence is no more!'" The 
truth is it had only begun to decline then, when in Afer's opinion 
it rx) longer existed : whereas now it is almost extinct. I am ashamed 
to tell you of the mincing and affected pronunciation of the speakers, 
and of the shrill-voiced applause with which their effusions are 
received; nothing seems wanting to complete this singsong per- 
formance except claps, or rather cymbals and tambourines. Howlings 
indeed (for I can call such applause, which would be indecent even 
in the theatre, by no other name) abound in plenty. Up to this time 
the interest of my friends and the consideration of my early time 
of life have kept me in this court, as I am afraid they might think 
I was doing it to shirk work rather than to avoid these indecencies, 
were I to leave it just yet: however, I go there less frequently than 
I did, and am thus effecting a gradual retreat. Farewell. 


To Gallus 

You are surprised that I am so fond of my Laurentine, or (if 
you prefer the name) my Laurens: but you will cease to wonder 
when I acquaint you with the beauty of the villa, the advantages 
of its situation, and the extensive view of the sea-coast. It is only 
seventeen miles from Rome; so that when I have finished my 
business in town, I can pass my evenings here after a good, satis- 
factory day's work. There are two different roads to it: if you 
go by that of Laurentum, you must turn off at the fourteenth mile- 
stone; if by Astia, at the eleventh. Both of them are sandy in places, 
which makes it a little heavier and longer by carriage, but short 
and easy on horseback. The landscape affords plenty of variety, 

222 PLINY 

the view in some places being closed in by woods, in others extending 
over broad meadows, where numerous flocks of sheep and herds 
of cattle, which the severity of the winter has driven from the 
mountains, fatten in the spring warmth, and on the rich pasturage. 
My villa is of a convenient size without being expensive to keep 
up. The courtyard in front is plain, but not mean, through which 
you enter porticoes shaped into the form of the letter D, enclosing 
a small but cheerful area between. These make a capital retreat 
for bad weather, not only as they are shut in with windows, but 
particularly as they are sheltered by a projection of the roof. From 
the middle of these porticoes you pass into a bright, pleasant inner 
court, and out of that into a handsome hall running out towards 
the sea-shore; so that when there is a southwest breeze, it is gently 
washed with the waves, which spend themselves at its base. On 
every side of this hall there are either folding doors or windows 
equally large, by which means you have a view from the front 
and the two sides of three different seas, as it were: from the back 
you see the middle court, the pwrtico, and the area; and from 
another point you look through the portico into the courtyard, and 
out upon the woods and distant mountains beyond. On the left 
hand of this hall, a little farther from the sea, lies a large drawing- 
room, and beyond that, a second of a smaller size, which has one 
window to the rising and another to the setting sun: this as well 
has a view of the sea, but more distant and agreeable. The angle 
formed by the projection of the dining-room with this drawing- 
room retains and intensifies the warmth of the sun, and this forms 
our winter quarters and family gymnasium, which is sheltered 
from all the winds except those which bring on clouds, but the 
clear sky comes out again before the warmth has gone out of the 
place. Adjoining this angle is a room forming the segment of a 
circle, the windows of which are so arranged as to get the sun all 
through the day: in the walls are contrived a sort of cases, containing 
a collection of authors who can never be read too often. Next to 
this is a bedroom, conneoed with it by a raised passage furnished 
with pipes, which supply, at a wholesome temperature, and dis- 
tribute to all parts of this room, the heat they receive. The rest 


of this side of the house is appropriated to the use of my slaves 
and freedmen; but most of the rooms in it are respectable enough 
to put my guests into. In the opposite wing is a most elegant, 
tastefully fitted-up bedroom; next to which lies another, which you 
may call either a large bedroom or a modified dining-room; it is very 
warm and light, not only from the direct rays of the sun, but by 
their reflection from the sea. Beyond this is a bedroom with an 
anteroom, the height of which renders it cool in summer, its thick 
walls warm in winter, for it is sheltered, every way, from the winds. 
To this apartment another anteroom is joined by one common 
wall. From thence you enter into the wide and spacious cooling- 
room belonging to the bath, from the opposite walls of which two 
curved basins are thrown out, so to speak; which are more than 
large enough if you consider that the sea is close at hand. Ad- 
jacent to this is the anointing-room, then the sweating-room, and 
beyond that the bath-heating room: adjoining are two other litde 
bath-rooms, elegantly rather than sumptuously fitted up: annexed 
to them is a warm bath of wonderful construction, in which one 
can swim and take a view of the sea at the same time. Not far 
from this stands the tennis<ourt, which lies open to the warmth 
of the afternoon sun. From thence you go up a sort of turret which 
has two rooms below, with the same number above, besides a 
dining-room commanding a very extensive lookout on to the sea, 
the coast, and the beautiful villas scattered along the shore line. 
At the other end is a second turret, containing a room that gets 
the rising and setting sun. Behind this is a large store-room and 
granary, and underneath, a spacious dining-room, where only the 
murmur and break of the sea can be heard, even in a storm: it 
looks out upon the garden, and the gestatio^ running round the 
garden. The gestatio is bordered round with box, and, where that 
is decayed, with rosemary: for the box, wherever sheltered by the 
buildings, grows plentifully, but where it lies open and exposed to 
the weather and spray from the sea, though at some distance from 
the latter, it quite withers up. Next the gestatio, and running along 
inside it, is a shady vine-plantation, the path of which is so soft 

' Avenue. 

224 PLINY 

and easy to the tread that you may walk barefoot upon it. The 
garden is chiefly planted with fig and mulberry trees, to which this 
soil is as favourable as it is averse from all others. Here is a dining- 
room, which, though it stands away from the sea, enjoys the garden 
view, which is just as pleasant: two apartments run round the back 
part of it, the windows of which look out upon the entrance of 
the villa, and into a fine kitchen-garden. From here extends an 
enclosed portico which, from its great length, you might take for 
a public one. It has a range of windows on either side, but more 
on the side facing the sea, and fewer on the garden side, and these, 
single windows and alternate with the opposite rows. In calm, 
clear weather these are all thrown open; but if it blows, those on 
the weather side are closed, whilst those away from the wind can 
remain of)en without any inconvenience. Before this enclosed portico 
lies a terrace fragrant with the scent of violets, and warmed by the 
reflection of the sun from the portico, which, while it retains the 
rays, keeps away the northeast wind; and it is as warm on this side 
as it is cool on the side opposite: in the same way it is a protection 
against the wind from the southwest; and thus, in short, by means 
of its several sides, breaks the force of the winds, from whatever quar- 
ter they may blow. These are some of its winter advantages; they are 
still more appreciable in the summer-time; for at that season it 
throws a shade upon the terrace during the whole of the forenoon, 
and upon the adjoining portion of the gestatio and garden in the 
afternoon, casting a greater or less shade on this side or on that as 
the day increases or decreases. But the portico itself is coolest just at 
the time when the sun is at its hottest, that is, when the rays fall 
directly upwn the roof. Also, by opening the windows you let in the 
western breezes in a free current, which prevents the place getting 
oppressive with close and stagnant air. At the upper end of the ter- 
race and portico stands a detached garden building, which I call my 
favourite; my favourite indeed, as I put it up myself. It contains a 
very warm winter-room, one side of which looks down upon the 
terrace, while the other has a view of the sea, and both lie exposed to 
the sun. The bedroom opens on to the covered portico by means of 
folding doors, while its window looks out upon the sea. On that side 
next the sea, and facing the middle wall, is formed a very elegant little 


recess, which, by means of transparent* windows and a curtain 
drawn to or aside, can be made part of the adjoining room, or 
separated from it. It contains a couch and two chairs: as you He 
upon this couch, from where your feet are you get a peep of the 
sea; looking behind, you see the neighbouring villas, and from 
the head you have a view of the woods: these three views may be 
seen either separately, from so many different windows, or blended 
together in one. Adjoining this is a bedroom, which neither the 
servants' voices, the murmuring of the sea, the glare of lightning, 
nor daylight itself can penetrate, unless you open the windows. This 
profound tranquillity and seclusion are occasioned by a passage sepa- 
rating the wall of this room from that of the garden, and thus, 
by means of this intervening space, every noise is drowned. Annexed 
to this is a tiny stove-room, which, by opening or shutting a little 
aperture, lets out or retains the heat from underneath, according as 
you require. Beyond this lie a bedroom and anteroom, which enjoy 
the sun, though obliquely indeed, from the time it rises till the 
afternoon. When I retire to this garden summer-house, I fancy 
myself a hundred miles away from my villa, and take especial 
pleasure in it at the feast of the Saturnalia,' when, by the licence of 
that festive season, every other part of my house resounds with my 
servants' mirth: thus I neither interrupt their amusement nor they 
my studies. Amongst the pleasures and conveniences of this situa- 
tion, there is one drawback, and that is, the want of running water; 
but then there are wells about the place, or rather springs, for they 
lie close to the surface. And, altogether, the quality of this coast 
is remarkable; for dig where you may, you meet, upon the first 
turning up of the ground, with a spring of water, quite pure, not 
in the least salt, although so near the sea. The neighbouring woods 
supply us with all the fuel we require, the other necessaries Ostia 
furnishes. Indeed, to a moderate man, even the village (between 

* "Windows made of a transparent stone called lapis tpecularis (mica), which was 
first found in Hispania Citerior, and afterwards in Cyprus, Cappadocia, Sicily, and 
Africa; but the best came from Spain and Cappadocia. It was easily split into the 
thinnest sheets. Windows made of this stone were called specularia." Smith's Dic- 
tionary of Antiquities. 

* A feast held in honour of the god Saturn, which began on the 19th of December, 
and continued, as some say, for seven days. It was a time of general rejoicing, 
particularly among the slaves, who had at this season the privilege of taking great 
liberties with their masters. M. 

226 PLINY 

which and my house there is only one villa) would supply all 
ordinary requirements. It has three public baths, which are a great 
convenience if it happen that friends come in unexpectedly, or 
make too short a stay to allow time for preparing my own. The 
whole coast is very pleasantly sprinkled with villas either in rows 
or detached, which, whether looking at them from the sea or the 
shore, present the appearance of so many dif?erent cities. The strand 
is, sometimes, after a long calm, perfectly smooth, though, in general, 
through the storms driving the waves upon it, it is rough and uneven. 
I cannot boast that our sea is plentiful in choice fish; however, it 
supphes us with capital soles and prawns; but as to other kinds of 
provisions, my villa aspires to excel even inland countries, particularly 
in milk: for the catde come up there from the meadows in large 
numbers, in pursuit of water and shade. Tell me, now, have I not 
good reason for living in, staying in, loving, such a retreat, which 
if you feel no appetite for, you must be morbidly attached to town? 
And I only wish you would feel inclined to come down to it, that 
to so many charms with which my little villa abounds, it might 
have the very considerable addition of your company to recommend 
it. Farewell. 


To Cerealis 

You advise me to read my late speech before an assemblage of 
my friends. I shall do so, as you advise it, though I have strong 
scruples. Compositions of this sort lose, I well know, all their force 
and fire, and even their very name almost, by a mere recital. It is 
the solemnity of the tribunal, the concourse of advocates, the sus- 
pense of the event, the fame of the several pleaders concerned, the 
different parties formed amongst the audience; add to this the 
gestures, the pacing, aye, the actual running, to and fro, of the 
speaker, the body working' in harmony with every inward emotion, 

• Cicero and Quintilian have laid down rules how far, and in what instances, this 
liberty was allowable, and both agree it ought to be used with great sagacity and 
judgment. The latter of these excellent critics mentions a witticism of Flaviui 
Virginius. who asked one of these orators, "Quot millia passiium drclamastct?" How 
many milet he had declaimed. M. 


that conspire to give a spirit and a grace to what he deUvers. This 
is the reason that those who plead sitting, though they retain most of 
the advantages possessed by those who stand up to plead, weaken 
the whole force of their oratory. The eyes and hands of the reader, 
those important instruments of graceful elocution, being engaged, 
it is no wonder that the attention of the audience droops, without 
anything extrinsic to keep it up, no allurements of gesture to attract, 
no smart, stinging impromptus to enliven. To these general con- 
siderations I must add this particular disadvantage which attends 
the speech in question, that it is of the argumentative kind; and it 
is natural for an author to infer that what he wrote with labour 
will not be read with pleasure. For who is there so unprejudiced 
as not to prefer the attractive and sonorous to the sombre and un- 
ornamented in style? It is very unreasonable that there should be 
any distinction; however, it is certain the judges generally expect 
one style of pleading, and the audience another; whereas an auditor 
ought to be affected only by those parts which would especially 
strike him, were he in the place of the judge. Nevertheless it is 
possible the objections which lie against this piece may be sur- 
mounted in consideration of the novelty it has to recommend 
it: the novelty, I mean, with respect to us; for the Greek orators 
have a method of reasoning upon a different occasion, not altogether 
unlike that which I have employed. They, when they would throw 
out a law as contrary to some former one unrepealed, argue by com- 
paring those together; so I, on the contrary, endeavour to prove 
that the crime, which I was insisting upon as falling within the 
intent and meaning of the law relating to public extortions, was 
agreeable, not only to that law, but likewise to other laws of the 
same nature. Those who are ignorant of the jurisprudence of their 
country can have no taste for reasonings of this kind, but those who 
are not ought to be prop)ortionably the more favourable in the judg- 
ments they pass upon them. I shall endeavour, therefore, if you 
persist in my reciting it, to collect as learned an audience as I can. 
But before you determine this point, do weigh impartially the 
different considerations I have laid before you, and then decide as 
reason shall direct; for it is reason that must justify you; obedience 
to your commands will be a sufficient apology for me. Farewell. 

228 PLINY 

To Calvisius 

Give me a penny, and I will tell you a story "worth gold," or, 
rather, you shall hear two or three; for one brings to my mind 
another. It makes no difference with which I begin. Verania, the 
widow of Piso, the Piso, I mean, whom Galba adopted, lay ex- 
tremely ill, and Regulus paid her a visit. By the way, mark the 
assurance of the man, visiting a lady who detested him herself, 
and to whose husband he was a declared enemy! Even barely to 
enter her house would have been bad enough, but he actually 
went and seated himself by her bedside and began enquiring on 
what day and hour she was born. Being informed of these im- 
portant particulars, he composes his countenance, fixes his eyes, 
mutters something to himself, counts upon his fingers, and all this 
merely to keep the poor sick lady in suspense. When he had finished, 
"You are," he says, "in one of your climacterics; however, you 
will get over it. But for your greater satisfaction, I will consult 
with a certain diviner, whose skill I have frequently experienced." 
Accordingly off he goes, performs a sacrifice, and returns with 
the strongest assurances that the omens confirmed what he had 
promised on the part of the stars. Upon this the good woman, 
whose danger made her credulous, calls for her will and gives 
Regulus a legacy. She grew worse shortly after this; and in her 
last moments exclaimed against this wicked, treacherous, and worse 
than perjured wretch, who had sworn falsely to her by his own 
son's life. But imprecations of this sort are as common with 
Regulus as they are impious; and he continually devotes that un- 
happy youth to the curses of those gods whose vengeance his own 
frauds every day provoke. 

Velleius Blaesus, a man of consular rank, and remarkable for his 
immense wealth, in his last illness was anxious to make some altera- 
tions in his will. Regulus, who had lately endeavoured to insinuate 
himself into his good graces, hoped to get something from the 
new will, and accordingly addresses himself to his physicians, and 
conjures them to exert all their skill to prolong the poor man's 


life. But after the will was signed, he changes his character, re- 
versing his tone: "How long," says he to these very same physicians, 
"do you intend keeping this man in misery? Since you cannot 
preserve his life, why do you grudge him the happy release of 
death?" Blxsus dies, and, as if he had overheard every word that 
Regulus had said, has not left him one farthing. — And now have 
you had enough? or are you for the third, according to rhetorical 
canon? If so, Regulus will supply you. You must know, then, that 
Aurelia, a lady of remarkable accomplishments, purposing to execute 
her will,' had put on her smartest dress for the occasion. Regulus, 
who was present as a witness, turned to the lady, and "Pray," says 
he, "leave me these fine clothes." Aurelia thought the man was 
joking: but he insisted upon it perfectly seriously, and, to be brief, 
obliged her to open her will and insert the dress she had on as a 
legacy to him, watching as she wrote, and then looking over it to 
see that it was all down correctly. Aurelia, however, is still alive: 
though Regulus, no doubt, when he solicited this bequest, expected 
to enjoy it pretty soon. The fellow gets estates, he gets legacies, 
conferred upon him, as if he really deserved them! But why should 
I go on dwelling upon this in a city where wickedness and knavery 
have, for this time past, received, the same, do I say, nay, even 
greater encouragement, than modesty and virtue? Regulus is a 
glaring instance of this truth, who, from a state of poverty, has 
by a train of villainies acquired such immense riches that he once 
told me, upon consulting the omens to know how soon he should be 
worth sixty millions of sesterces,* he found them so favourable as 
to portend he should possess double that sum. And possibly he may, 
if he continues to dictate wills for other people in this way: a sort 
of fraud, in my opinion, the most infamous of any. Farewell. 


To Calvisius 

I NEVER, I think, spent any time more agreeably than my time 
lately with Spurinna. So agreeably, indeed, that if ever I should 

' This was an act of great ceremony; and if Aurclia's dress was of the kind which 
some of the Roman ladies used, the legacy must have been considerable which Regulus 
had the impudence to ask. M. ' $2,350,000. 

230 PLINY 

arrive at old age, there is no man whom I would sooner choose for 
my model, for nothing can be more perfect in arrangement than 
his mode of life. I look upon order in human actions, especially at 
that advanced age, with the same sort of pleasure as I behold the 
settled course of the heavenly bodies. In young men, indeed, a 
litde confusion and disarrangement is all well enough: but in age, 
when business is unseasonable, and ambition indecent, all should 
be composed and uniform. This rule Spurinna observes with the 
most religious consistency. Even in those matters which one might 
call insignificant, were they not of every-day occurrence, he observes 
a certain periodical season and method. The early morning he 
passes on his couch; at eight he calls for his slippers, and walks 
three miles, exercising mind and body together. On his return, 
if he has any friends in the house with him, he gets upon some 
entertaining and interesting topic of conversation; if by himself, 
some book is read to him, sometimes when visitors are there even, 
if agreeable to the company. Then he has a rest, and after that 
either takes up a book or resumes his conversation in preference to 
reading. By and by he goes out for a drive in his carriage, either 
with his wife, a most admirable woman, or with some friend: a 
happiness which lately was mine. — How agreeable, how delightful 
it is getting a quiet time alone with him in this way! You could 
imagine you were listening to some worthy of ancient times! What 
deeds, what men you hear about, and with what noble precepts 
you are imbued! Yet all delivered with so modest an air that there 
is net the least appearance of dictating. When he has gone about 
seven miles, he gets out of his chariot and walks a mile more, after 
which he returns home, and either takes a rest or goes back to his 
couch and writing. For he composes most elegant lyrics both in 
Greek and Latin. So wonderfully soft, sweet, and gay they are, while 
the author's own unsullied life lends them additional charm. When 
the baths are ready, which in winter is about three o'clock, and in 
summer about two, he undresses himself and, if there happen to be 
no wind, walks for some time in the sun. After this he has a good 
brisk game of tennis: for by this sort of exercise too, he combats 
the effects of old age. When he has bathed, he throws himself upon 
his couch, but waits a little before he begins eating, and in the 


meanwhile has some light and entertaining author read to him. In 
this, as in ail the rest, his friends are at full liberty to share; or to 
employ themselves in any other way, just as they prefer. You sit 
down to an elegant dinner, without extravagant display, which is 
served up in antique plate of pure silver. He has another complete 
service in Corinthian metal, which, though he admires as a curiosity, 
is far from being his passion. During dinner he is frequently enter- 
tained with the recital of some dramatic piece, by way of seasoning 
his very pleasures with study; and although he continues at the 
table, even in summer, till the night is somewhat advanced, yet he 
prolongs the entertainment with so much affability and politeness 
that none of his guests ever finds it tedious. By this method of living 
he has preserved all his senses entire, and his body vigorous and 
active to his seventy-eighth year, without showing any sign of old 
age except wisdom. This is the sort of life I ardently aspire after; 
as I purpose enjoying it when I shall arrive at those years which will 
justify a retreat from active life. Meanwhile I am embarrassed with 
a thousand affairs, in which Spurinna is at once my support and my 
example: for he too, so long as it became him, discharged his profes- 
sional duties, held magistracies, governed provinces, and by toiling 
hard earned the repose he now enjoys. I propose to myself the same 
career and the same limits: and I here give it to you under my hand 
that I do so. If an ill-timed ambition should carry me beyond those 
bounds, produce this very letter of mine in court against me; and 
condemn me to repose, whenever I can enjoy it without being 
reproached with indolence. Farewell. 


To B^Bius Macer 

It gives me great pleasure to find you such a reader of my uncle's 
works as to wish to have a complete collection of them, and to ask 
me for the names of them all. I will act as index then, and you shall 
know the very order in which they were written, for the studious 
reader likes to know this. The first work of his was a treatise in 
one volume, "On the Use of the Dart by Cavalry"; this he wrote 
when in command of one of the cavalry corps of our allied troops. 

232 PLINY 

and is drawn up with great care and ingenuity. "The Life of Pom- 
ponius Secundus,'" in two volumes. Pomponius had a great affection 
for him, and he thought he owed this tribute to his memory. "The 
History of the Wars in Germany," in twenty books, in which he 
gave an account of all the battles we were engaged in against that 
nation. A dream he had while serving in the army in Germany 
first suggested the design of this work to him. He imagined that 
Drusus Nero ' (who extended his conquest very far into that country, 
and there lost his life) appeared to him in his sleep, and entreated 
him to rescue his memory from oblivion. Next comes a work 
entitled "The Student," in three parts, which from their length 
spread into six volumes: a work in which are discussed the earliest 
training and subsequent education of the orator. "Questions of 
Grammar and Style," in eight books, written in the latter part of 
Nero's reign, when the tyranny of the times made it dangerous 
to engage in literary pursuits requiring freedom and elevation of 
tone. He has completed the history which Aufidius Bassus' left 
unfinished, and has added to it thirty books. And lastly he has left 
thirty-seven books on Natural History, a work of great compass and 
learning, and as full of variety as nature herself. You will wonder 
how a man as busy as he was could find time to compose so many 
books, and some of them too involving such care and labour. But 
you will be still more surprised when you hear that he pleaded at 
the bar for some time, that he died in his sixty-sixth year, that the 
intervening time was employed partly in the execution of the highest 
official duties, pardy in attendance upon those emperors who 
honoured him with their friendship. But he had a quick appre- 
hension, marvellous power of application, and was of an exceedingly 
wakeful temperament. He always began to study at midnight at the 
time of the feast of Vulcan, not for the sake of good luck, but for 

' A poet to whom Quintilian assigns the highest rank, as a writer of tragedies, 
among his contemporaries (book x., c L 98). Tacitus also speaks of him in terms 
of high appreciation (Annals, v. 8). 

* Stepson of Augustus and brother to Tiberius. An amiable and popular prince. 
He died at the close of his third campaign, from a fracture received by falling from 
bis horse. 

' A historian under Augustus and Tiberius. He wrote part of a history of Rome, 
which was continued by the elder Pliny; also an account of the German war, to which 
Quintilian makes allusion (Inst. x. 103), pronouncing him, as a historian, "estimable 
in all respects, yet in some things failing to do himself justice." 


learning's sake; in winter generally at one in the morning, but 
never later than two, and often at twelve/ He was a most ready 
sleeper, insomuch that he would sometimes, whilst in the midst of 
his studies, fall off and then wake up again. Before daybreak he used 
to wait upon Vespasian (who also used his nights for transacting 
business in), and then proceed to execute the orders he had received. 
As soon as he returned home, he gave what time was left to study. 
After a short and light refreshment at noon (agreeably to the good 
old custom of our ancestors) he would frequently in the summer, 
if he was disengaged from business, lie down and bask in the sun; 
during which time some author was read to him, while he took notes 
and made extracts, for every book he read he made extracts out of, 
indeed it was a maxim of his, that "no book was so bad but some 
good might be got out of it." When this was over, he generally took 
a cold bath, then some light refreshment and a little nap. After this, 
as if it had been a new day, he studied till supper-time, when a book 
was again read to him, which he would take down running notes 
uf)on. I remember once, his reader having mispronounced a word, 
one of my uncle's friends at the table made him go back to where 
the word was and repeat it again; upon which my uncle said to his 
friend, "Surely you understood it?" Upon his acknowledging that 
he did, "Why, then," said he, "did you make him go back again? 
We have lost more than ten lines by this interruption." Such an 
economist he was of time! In the summer he used to rise from 
supper at daylight, and in winter as soon as it was dark: a rule he 
observed as strictly as if it had been a law of the state. Such was 
his manner of life amid the bustle and turmoil of the town: but in 
the country his whole time was devoted to study, excepting only 
when he bathed. In this exception I include no more than the time 

* The distribution of time amonjt the Romans was very different from ours. They 
divided the ni^ht into four equal parts, which they called watches, each three 
hours in length; and part of these they devoted either to the pleasures of the table 
or to study. The natural day they divided into twelve hours, the first beginning with 
sunrise, and the last ending with sunset; by which means their hours were of un- 
equal length, var>'ing according to the different seasons of the year. The time for 
business began with sunrise, and continued to the fifth hour, being that of dinner, 
which with them was only a slight repast. From thence to the seventh hour was a 
time of repose; a custom which still prevails in Italy. The eighth hour was employed 
in bodily exercises; after which they constantly bathed, and from thence went to 
supper. M. 

234 PLINY 

during which he was aaually in the bath; for all the while he was 
being rubbed and wiped, he was employed either in hearing some 
book read to him or in dictating himself. In going about anywhere, 
as though he were disengaged from all other business, he applied his 
mind wholly to that single pursuit. A shorthand writer constantly 
attended him, with book and tablets, who, in the winter, wore a 
particular sort of warm gloves, that the sharpness of the weather 
might not occasion any interruption to my uncle's studies: and for 
the same reason, when in Rome, he was always carried in a chair. I 
recollect his once taking me to task for walking. "You need not," 
he said, "lose these hours." For he thought every hour gone that was 
not given to study. Through this extraordinary application he 
found time to compose the several treatises I have mentioned, besides 
one hundred and sixty volumes of extracts which he left me in his 
will, consisting of a kind of commonplace, written on both sides, in 
very small hand, so that one might fairly reckon the number con- 
siderably more. He used himself to tell us that when he was com{> 
troller of the revenue in Spain, he could have sold these manuscripts 
to Largius Licinus for four hundred thousand sesterces,' and then 
there were not so many of them. When you consider the books he 
has read, and the volumes he has written, are you not inclined to sus- 
pect that he never was engaged in public duties or was ever in the 
confidence of his prince? On the other hand, when you are told how 
indefatigable he was in his studies, are you not inclined to wonder 
that he read and wrote no more than he did? For, on one side, 
what obstacles would not the business of a court throw in his way ? 
and on the other, what is it that such intense application might not 
effect? It amuses me then when I hear myself called a studious 
man, who in comparison with him am the merest idler. But 
why do I mention myself, who am diverted from these pursuits by 
numberless affairs both public and private? Who amongst those 
whose whole lives are devoted to literary pursuits would not blush 
and feel himself the most confirmed of sluggards by the side of him ? 
I see I have run out my letter farther than I had originally intended, 
which was only to let you know, as you asked me, what works he 
had left behind him. But I trust this will be no less acceptable to 

' $16,000. 


you than the books themselves, as it may, possibly, not only excite 
your curiosity to read his works, but also your emulation to copy his 
example, by some attempts of a similar nature. Farewell. 


To Annius Severus 

I HAVE lately purchased with a legacy that was left me a small 
statue of Corinthian brass. It is small indeed, but elegant and lifelike, 
as far as I can form any judgment, which most certainly in matters 
of this sort, as perhaps in all others, is extremely defective. However, 
I do see the beauties of this figure: for, as it is naked the faults, if 
there be any, as well as the perfections, are the more observable. It 
represents an old man, in an erect attitude. The bones, muscles, veins, 
and the very wrinkles, give the impression of breathing life. The hair 
is thin and failing, the forehead broad, the face shrivelled, the throat 
lank, the arms loose and hanging, the breast shrunken, and the belly 
fallen in, as the whole turn and air of the figure behind too is equally 
expressive of old age. It appears to be true antique, judging from the 
colour of the brass. In short, it is such a masterpiece as would 
strike the eyes of a connoisseur, and which cannot fail to charm an 
ordinary observer: and this induced me, who am an absolute novice 
in this art, to buy it. But I did so, not with any intention of placing 
it in my own house (for I have nothing of the kind there), but with 
a design of fixing it in some conspicuous place in my native province; 
I should like it best in the temple of Jupiter, for it is a gift well 
worthy of a temple, well worthy of a god. I desire therefore you 
would, with that care with which you always perform my requests, 
undertake this commission and give immediate orders for a pedestal 
to be made for it, out of what marble you please, but let my name be 
engraved upon it, and, if you think proper to add these as well, my 
titles. I will send the statue by the first person I can find who will 
not mind the trouble of it; or possibly (which I am sure you will like 
better) I may myself bring it along with me: for I intend, if business 
can spare me, that is to say, to make an excursion over to you. I see 
joy in your looks when I promise to come; but you will soon change 
your countenance when I add, only for a few days: for the same 

236 PLINY 

business that at present keeps me here will prevent my making a 
longer stay. Farewell. 


To Caninius Rufus 

I HAVE just been informed that Silius Italicus ' has starved himself 
to death, at his villa near Naples. Ill health was the cause. Being 
troubled with an incurable cancerous humour, he grew weary of life 
and therefore put an end to it with a determination not to be moved. 
He had been extremely fortunate all through his life with the excep- 
tion of the death of the younger of his two sons; however, he has 
left behind him the elder and the worthier man of the two in a 
position of distinction, having even attained consular rank. His repu- 
tation had suffered a little in Nero's time, as he was suspected of 
having officiously joined in some of the informations in that reign; 
but he used his interest with Vitellius, with great discretion and 
humanity. He acquired considerable honour by his administration 
of the government of Asia, and, by his good conduct after his retire- 
ment from business, cleared his character from that stain which his 
former public exertions had thrown upon it. He lived as a private 
nobleman, without power, and consequently without envy. Though 
he was frequently confined to his bed, and always to his room, yet he 
was highly resfjected, and much visited; not with an interested view, 
but on his own account. He employed his time between conversing 
with literary men and composing verses; which he sometimes read 
out, by way of testing the public opinion: but they evidence more 
industry than genius. In the decline of his years he entirely quitted 
Rome, and lived altogether in Campania, from whence even the 
accession of the new emperor ' could not draw him. A circumstance 
which I mention as much to the honour of Caesar, who was not 
displeased with that liberty, as of Italicus, who was not afraid to make 
use of it. He was reproached with indulging his taste for the fine arts 

' Born about a.d. 15. He acquired some distinction as an advocate. The only 
poem of his which has come down to us is a heavy prosaic performance in seventeen 
books, entitled "Tunica," and containin>; an account of the events of the Second 
Punic War, from the capture of Saguntum to the triumph of Scipio Africanus. See 
Smith's Diet, of Gr. and Rom. Biog. ' Trajan. 


at an immoderate expense. He had several villas in the same 
province, and the last purchase was always the especial favourite, to 
the neglect of all the rest. These residences overflowed with books, 
statues, and pictures, which he more than enjoyed, he even adored; 
particularly that of Virgil, of whom he was so passionate an admirer 
that he celebrated the anniversary of that poet's birthday with more 
solemnity than his own, at Naples especially, where he used to 
approach his tomb as if it had been a temple. In this tranquillity he 
passed his seventy-fifth year, with a delicate rather than an infirm 
constitution. As he was the last person upon whom Nero conferred 
the consular office, so he was the last survivor of all those who had 
been raised by him to that dignity. It is also remarkable that, as he 
was the last to die of Nero's consuls, so Nero died when he was 
consul. Recollecting this, a feeling of pity for the transitory condition 
of mankind comes over me. Is there anything in nature so short and 
limited as human life, even at its longest? Does it not seem to you 
but yesterday that Nero was alive? And yet not one of all those 
who were consuls in his reign now remains! Though why should 
I wonder at this? Lucius Piso (the father of that Piso who was so 
infamously assassinated by Valerius Festus in Africa) used to say, 
he did not see one person in the senate whose opinion he had con- 
sulted when he was consul: in so short a space is the very term of 
life of such a multitude of beings comprised! so that to me those 
royal tears seem not only worthy of pardon but of praise. For it is 
said that Xerxes, on surveying his immense army, wept at the reflec- 
tion that so many thousand lives would in such a short space of time 
be extinct. The more ardent therefore should be our zeal to lengthen 
out this frail and transient portion of existence, if not by our deeds 
(for the opportunities of this are not in our power), yet certainly 
by our literary accomplishments; and since long life is denied us, let 
us transmit to posterity some memorial that we have at least lived. 
I well know you need no incitements, but the warmth of my 
affection for you inclines me to urge you on in the course you are 
already pursuing, just as you have so often urged me. "Happy 
rivalry" when two friends strive in this way which of them shall 
animate the other most in their mutual pursuit of immortal fame. 

238 PLINY 


To Spurinna and Cottia ' 

I DID not tell you, when I paid you my last visit, that I had com- 
posed something in praise of your son; because, in the first place, I 
wrote it not for the sake of talking about my performance, but 
simply to satisfy my affection, to console my sorrow for the loss of 
him. Again, as you told me, my dear Spurinna, that you had heard 
I had been reciting a piece of mine, I imagined you had also heard 
at the same time what was the subject of the recital, and besides I 
was afraid of casting a gloom over your cheerfulness in that festive 
season, by reviving the remembrance of that heavy sorrow. And 
even now I have hesitated a little whether I should gratify you both, 
in your joint request, by sending only what I recited, or add to it 
what I am thinking of keeping back for another essay. It does not 
satisfy my feelings to devote only one little tract to a memory so dear 
and sacred to me, and it seemed also more to the interest of his fame 
to have it thus disseminated by separate pieces. But the considera- 
tion that it will be more open and friendly to send you the whole 
now, rather than keep back some of it to another time, has 
determined me to do the former, especially as I have your promise 
that it shall not be communicated by either of you to anyone else, 
until I shall think proper to publish it. The only remaining favour I 
ask is, that you will give me a proof of the same unreserve by point- 
ing out to me what you shall judge would be best altered, omitted, 
or added. It is difficult for a mind in affliction to concentrate itself 
upon such little cares. However, as you would direct a painter or 
sculptor who was representing the figure of your son what parts he 
should retouch or express, so I hope you will guide and inform my 
hand in this more durable or (as you are pleased to think it) this 
immortal likeness which I am endeavouring to execute: for the 
truer to the original, the more perfect and finished it is, so much 
the more lasting it is likely to prove. Farewell. 

' Spurinna's wife. 



To Julius Genitor 

It is just like the generous disposition of Artemidorus to magnify 

the kindnesses of his friends; hence he praises my deserts (though he 

is really indebted to me) beyond their due. It is true indeed that 

when the philosophers were expelled from Rome,' I visited him at 

his house near the city, and ran the greater risk in paying him that 

civility, as it was more noticeable then, I being praetor at the time, I 

supplied him too with a considerable sum to pay certain debts he 

had contracted upon very honourable occasions, without charging 

interest, though obliged to borrow the money myself, while the rest 

of his rich, powerful friends stood by, hesitating about giving him 

assistance. I did this at a time when seven of my friends were either 

executed or banished; Senecio, Rusticus, and Helvidius having just 

been put to death, while Mauricus, Gratilla, Arria, and Fannia were 

sent into exile; and scorched, as it were, by so many lightning-bolts 

of the state thus hurled and flashing round me, I augured by no 

uncertain tokens my own imf)ending doom. But I do not look upon 

myself, on that account, as deserving of the high praises my friend 

bestows upon me: all I pretend to is the being clear of the infamous 

guilt of abandoning him in his misfortunes. I had, as far as the 

differences between our ages would admit, a friendship for his 

father-in-law, Musonius, whom I both loved and esteemed, while 

Artemidorus himself I entered into the closest intimacy with when 

I was serving as a military tribune in Syria. And I consider as a 

proof that there is some good in me the fact of my being so early 

capable of appreciating a man who is either a philosopher or the 

nearest resemblance to one possible; for I am sure that, amongst all 

those who at the present day call themselves philosophers, you will 

find hardly any one of them so full of sincerity and truth as he. I 

forbear to mention how patient he is of heat and cold alike, how 

indefatigable in labour, how abstemious in his food, and what an 

absolute restraint he puts upon all his appetites; for these qualities, 

' Domitian banished the philosophers not only from Rome, but Italy, as Suetonius 
(Dom. c. X.) and Aulus Cellius (Noct. AtL b. xv., cxi. 3, 4, 5) inform us; among 
thew was the celebrated Epictetus. M. 

240 PLINY 

considerable as they would certainly be in any other character, are 
less noticeable by the side o£ the rest of those virtues of his which 
recommended him to Musonius for a son-in-law, in preference to 
so many others of all ranks who paid their addresses to his daughter. 
And when I think of all these things, I cannot help feeling pleasur- 
ably affected by those unqualified terms of praise in which he 
speaks of me to you as well as to everyone else. I am only apprehen- 
sive lest the warmth of his kind feeling carry him beyond the due 
limits; for he, who is so free from all other errors, is apt to fall into 
just this one good-natured one, of overrating the merits of his friends. 


To Catilius Severus 

I WILL come to supper, but must make this agreement beforehand, 
that I go when I please, that you treat me to nothing expensive, and 
that our conversation abound only in Socratic discourse, while even 
that in moderation. There are certain necessary visits of ceremony, 
bringing people out before daylight, which Cato himself could not 
safely *^all in with; though I must confess that Julius Caesar re- 
proaches him with that circumstance in such a manner as redounds 
to his praise: for he tells us that the persons who met him reeling 
home blushed at the discovery, and adds, "You would have thought 
that Cato had detected them, and not they Cato." Could he place the 
dignity of Cato in a stronger light than by representing him thus 
venerable even in his cups? But let our supper be as moderate in 
regard to hours as in the preparation and expense: for we are not 
of such eminent reputation that even our enemies cannot censure 
our conduct without applauding it at the same time. Farewell. 


To AciLius 

The atrocious treatment that Largius Macedo, a man of praetorian 
rank, lately received at the hands of his slaves is so extremely tragical 
that it deserves a place rather in public history than in a private letter; 


though it must at the same time be acknowledged there was a 
haughtiness and severity in his behaviour towards them which 
shewed that he little remembered, indeed almost entirely forgot, the 
fact that his own father had once been in that station of life. He 
was bathing at his Formian Villa, when he found himself suddenly 
surrounded by his slaves; one seizes him by the throat, another strikes 
him on the mouth, whilst others trampled upon his breast, stomach, 
and even other parts which I need not mention. When they thought 
the breath must be quite out of his body, they threw him down upon 
the heated pavement of the bath, to try whether he were still alive, 
where he lay outstretched and motionless, either really insensible 
or only feigning to be so, upon which they concluded him to be 
actually dead. In this condition they brought him out, pretending 
that he had got suffocated by the heat of the bath. Some of his more 
trusty servants received him, and his mistresses came about him 
shrieking and lamenting. The noise of their cries and the fresh 
air, together, brought him a little to himself; he opened his eyes, 
moved his body, and shewed them (as he now safely might) that he 
was not quite dead. The murderers immediately made their escape; 
but most of them have been caught again, and they are after the rest. 
He was with great difficulty kept alive for a few days, and then 
expired, having, however, the satisfaction of finding himself as 
amply revenged in his lifetime as he would have been after his death. 
Thus you see to what affronts, indignities, and dangers we are 
exposed. Lenity and kind treatment are no safeguard; for it is malice 
and not reflection that arms such ruffians against their masters. So 
much for this piece of news. And what else? What else? Nothing 
else, or you should hear it, for I have still paper, and time too (as it is 
holiday time with me) to spare for more, and I can tell you one 
further circumstance relating to Macedo, which now occurs to me. 
As he was in a public bath once, at Rome, a remarkable, and (judg- 
ing from the manner of his death) an ominous, accident happened to 
him. A slave of his, in order to make way for his master, laid his 
hand gently uf)on a Roman knight, who, turning suddenly round, 
struck, not the slave who had touched him, but Macedo, so violent 
a blow with his open palm that he almost knocked him down. Thus 
the bath by a kind of gradation proved fatal to him; being first the 

242 PLI>fY 

scene of an indignity he suffered, afterwards the scene of his death. 


To Nepos 

I HAVE constandy observed that amongst the deeds and sayings 
of illustrious persons of either sex, some have made more noise in the 
world, whilst others have been really greater, although less talked 
about; and I am confirmed in this opinion by a conversation I had 
yesterday with Fannia. This lady is a granddaughter to that cele- 
brated Arria who animated her husband to meet death, by her own 
glorious example. She informed me of several particulars relating 
to Arria, no less heroic than this applauded action of hers, though 
taken less notice of, and I think you will be as surprised to read the 
account of them as I was to hear it. Her husband, Ca;cinna Paetus, 
and her son, were both attacked at the same time with a fatal 
illness, as was supposed; of which the son died, a youth of remark- 
able beauty, and as modest as he was comely, endeared indeed to his 
parents no less by his many graces than from the fact of his being 
their son. His mother prepared his funeral and conducted the usual 
ceremonies so privately that Partus did not know of his death. 
Whenever she came into his room, she pretended her son was alive 
and actually better: and as often as he enquired after his health, 
would answer, "He has had a good rest, and eaten his food with 
quite an appetite." Then when she found the tears she had so long 
kept back, gushing forth in spite of herself, she would leave the 
room, and having given vent to her grief, return with dry eyes and a 
serene countenance, as though she had dismissed every feeling of 
bereavement at the door of her husband's chamber. I must confess 
it was a brave action ' in her to draw the steel, plunge it into her 
breast, pluck out the dagger, and present it to her husband with that 

' The followinc is the story, as related by several of the ancient historians: Pxtus, 
having joined Scribonianus, who was in arms, in Illyria, against Claudius, was taken 
after the death of Scribonianus, and condemned to death. Arria, having, in vain, 
solicited his life, persuaded him to destroy himself, rather than suffer the ignominy 
of falling by the executioner's hands; and, in order to encourage him to an act, 
to which, it seems, he was not particularly inclined, she set him the example in the 
er Pliny relates. M. 


ever memorable, I had almost said thai divine, expression, "Pztus, it 
is not painful." But when she spoke and acted thus, she had the 
prospect of glory and immortality before her; how far greater, with- 
out the support of any such animating motives, to hide her tears, 
to conceal '.ler grief, and cheerfully to act the mother, when a mother 
no more! 

Scribonianus had taken up arms in Illyria against Claudius, where 
he lost his life, and Partus, who was of his party, was brought a 
prisoner to Rome. When they were going to put him on board ship, 
Arria besought the soldiers that she might be permitted to attend 
him: "For surely," she urged, "you will allow a man of consular 
rank some servants to dress him, attend to him at meals, and put his 
shoes on for him; but if you will take me, I alone will perform all 
these offices." Her request was refused; upon which she hired a 
fishing-boat, and in that small vessel followed the ship. On her return 
to Rome, meeting the wife of Scribonianus in the emperor's palace, 
at the time when this woman voluntarily gave evidence against the 
conspirators — "What," she exclaimed, "shall I hear you even speak 
to me, you, on whose bosom your husband, Scribonianus, was 
murdered, and yet you survive him?" — an expression which plainly 
shews that the noble manner in which she put an end to her life was 
no unpremeditated effect of sudden passion. Moreover, when 
Thrasea, her son-in-law, was endeavouring to dissuade her from her 
purpose of destroying herself, and, amongst other arguments which 
he used, said to her, "Would you then advise your daughter to die 
with me if my life were to be taken from me?" "Most certainly I 
would," she replied, "if she had lived as long, and in as much 
harmony with you, as I have with my Partus." This answer greatly 
increased the alarm of her family, and made them watch her for the 
future more narrowly; which when she p)erceived, "It is of no use," 
she said, "you may oblige me to effect my death in a more painful 
way, but it is impossible you should prevent it." Saying this, she 
sprang from her chair, and running her head with the utmost 
violence against the wall, fell down, to all appearance, dead; but 
being brought to herself again, "I told you," she said, "if you would 
not suffer me to take an easy path to death, I should find a way to 
it, however hard." Now, is there not, my friend, something much 

244 PLINY 

greater in all this than in the so-much-talked-of "Pztus, it is not 
painful," to which these led the way? And yet this last is the 
favourite topic of fame, while all the former are passed over in 
silence. Whence I cannot but infer, what I observed at the beginning 
of my letter, that some actions are more celebrated, whilst others are 
really greater. 


To Severus 

I WAS obliged by my consular office to compliment the emperor' 
in the name of the republic; but after I had performed that ceremony 
in the senate in the usual manner, and as fully as the time and 
place would allow, I thought it agreeable to the affection of a good 
subject to enlarge those general heads, and expand them into a 
complete discourse. My principal object in doing so was, to confirm 
the emperor in his virtues, by paying them that tribute of applause 
which they so justly deserve; and at the same time to direct future 
princes, not in the formal way of lecture, but by his more engaging 
example, to those paths they must pursue if they would attain the 
same heights of glory. To instruct princes how to form their conduct, 
is a noble but difficult task, and may, perhaps, be esteemed an act of 
presumption: but to applaud the character of an accomplished 
prince, and to hold out to posterity, by this means, a beacon-light, 
as it were, to guide succeeding monarchs, is a method equally useful, 
and much more modest. It afforded me a very singular pleasure 
that when I wished to recite this panegyric in a private assembly, 
my friends gave me their company, though I did not solicit them 
in the usual form of notes or circulars, but only desired their attend- 
ance, "should it be quite convenient to them," and "if they should 
happen to have no other engagement." You know the excuses 
generally made at Rome to avoid invitations of this kind; how 
prior invitations are usually alleged; yet, in spite of the worst possible 
weather, they attended the recital for two days together; and when 
I thought it would be unreasonable to detain them any longer, they 
insisted upon my going through with it the next day. Shall I 

' Trajan. 


consider this as an honour done to mysel£ or to Uterature? Rather 
let me suppose to the latter, which, though well-nigh extinct, seems 
to be now again reviving amongst us. Yet what was the subject 
which raised this uncommon attention? No other than what 
formerly, even in the senate, where we had to submit to it, we used 
to grudge even a few moments' attention to. But now, you see, we 
have patience to recite and to attend to the same topic for three 
days together; and the reason of this is, not that we have more 
eloquent writing now than formerly, but we write under a fuller 
sense of individual freedom, and consequently more genially than 
we used to. It is an additional glory therefore to our present emperor 
that this sort of harangue, which was once as disgusting as it was 
false, is now as pleasing as it is sincere. But it was not only the 
earnest attention of my audience which afforded me pleasure; I was 
greatly delighted too with the justness of their taste: for I observed 
that the more nervous parts of my discourse gave them peculiar 
satisfaction. It is true, indeed, this work, which was written for 
the perusal of the world in general, was read only to a few; however, 
I would willingly look upon their particular judgment as an earnest 
of that of the public, and rejoice at their manly taste as if it were 
universally spread. It was just the same in eloquence as it was in 
music, the vitiated ears of the audience introduced a depraved style; 
but now, I am inclined to hope, as a more refined judgment prevails 
in the public, our compositions of both kinds will improve too; 
for those authors whose sole object is to please will fashion their 
works according to the popular taste. I trust, however, in subjects 
of this nature the florid style is most proper; and am so far from 
thinking that the vivid colouring I have used will be esteemed 
foreign and unnatural that I am most apprehensive that censure 
will fall upon those parts where the diction is most simple and 
unornate. Nevertheless, I sincerely wish the time may come, and 
that it now were, when the smooth and luscious, which has affected 
our style, shall give place, as it ought, to severe and chaste composi- 
tion. — Thus have I given you an account of my doings of these last 
three days, that your absence might not entirely deprive you of a 
pleasure which, from your friendship to me, and the part you take 

246 PLINY 

in everything that concerns the interest of literature, I know you 
would have received, had you been there to hear. Farewell. 

To Calvisius Rufus 
I must have recourse to you, as usual, in an affair which concerns 
my finances. An estate adjoining my land, and indeed running into 
it, is for sale. There are several considerations strongly incUning 
me to this purchase, while there are others no less weighty deterring 
me from it. Its first recommendation is, the beauty which will result 
from uniting this farm to my own lands; next, the advantage as 
well as pleasure of being able to visit it without additional trouble 
and expense; to have it superintended by the same steward, and 
almost by the same subagents, and to have one villa to support and 
embellish, the other just to keep in common repair, I take into this 
account furniture, housekeepers, fancy-gardeners, artificers, and even 
hunting-apparatus, as it makes a very great difference whether you 
get these altogether into one place or scatter them about in several. 
On the other hand, I don't know whether it is prudent to expose 
so large a property to the same climate, and the same risks of accident 
happening; to distribute one's possessions about seems a safer way of 
meeting the caprice of fortune, besides, there is something extremely 
pleasant in the change of air and place, and the going about between 
one's properties. And now, to come to the chief consideration: the 
lands are rich, fertile, and well watered, consisting chiefly of meadow- 
ground, vineyard, and wood, while the supply of building-timber 
and its returns, though moderate, still, keep at the same rate. But 
the soil, fertile as it is, has been much impoverished by not having 
been properly looked after. The person last in possession used 
frequently to seize and sell the stock, by which means, although 
he lessened his tenants' arrears for the time being, yet he left them 
nothing to go on with and the arrears ran up again in consequence. 
I shall be obliged, then, to provide them with slaves, which I must 
buy, and at a higher than the usual price, as these will be good 
ones; for I keep no fettered slaves' myself, and there are none upon 

' The Romans used to employ their criminals in the lower offices of husbandry, 
such as ploughing, &c. Plin. H. N. i. 18, 3. M. 


the estate. For the rest, the price, you must know, is three millions 
of sesterces.' It has formerly gone for five millions, but owing partly 
to the general hardness of the times, and partly to its being thus 
stripped of tenants, the income of this estate is reduced, and con- 
sequently its value. You will be inclined perhaps to enquire whether 
I can easily raise the purchase-money? My estate, it is true, is 
almost entirely in land, though I have some money out at interest; 
but I shall find no difficulty in borrowing any sum I may want. 
I can get it from my wife's mother, whose purse I may use with 
the same freedom as my own; so that you need not trouble yourself 
at all upon that point, should you have no other objections, which 
I should like you very carefully to consider: for, as in everything 
else, so, particularly in matters of economy, no man has more judg- 
ment and experience than yourself. Farewell. 


To Cornelius Priscus 

I HAVE just heard of Valerius Martial's death, which gives me 
great concern. He was a man of an acute and lively genius, and 
his writings abound in equal wit, satire, and kindliness. On his 
leaving Rome I made him a present to defray his travelling expenses, 
which I gave him, not only as a testimony of friendship, but also in 
return for the verses with which he had complimented me. It was 
the custom of the ancients to distinguish those poets with, honours 
or pecuniary rewards, who had celebrated particular individuals or 
cities in their verses; but this good custom, along with every other 
fair and noble one, has grown out of fashion now; and in con- 
sequence of our having ceased to act laudably, we consider praise 
a folly and impertinence. You may perhaps be curious to see the 
verses which merited this acknowledgment from me, and I believe 
I can, from memory, partly satisfy your curiosity, without referring 
you to his works: but if you should be pleased with this specimen 
of them, you must turn to his poems for the rest. He addresses 
himself to his muse, whom he directs to go to my house upon the 
Esquiliar,' but to approach it with respect. 

' About $100,000. 

' One of the famous seTcn hills upon which Rome was situated. M. 

248 PLINY 

"Go, wanton muse, but go with care. 
Nor meet, ill-tim'd, my Pliny's ear; 
He, by sage Minerva taught, 
Gives the day to studious thought, 
And plans that eloquence divine. 
Which shall to future ages shine. 
And rival, wondrous Tully! thine. 
Then, cautious, watch the vacant hour. 
When Bacchus reigns in all his pow'r; 
When, crowned with rosy chaplets gay, 
Catos might read my frolic lay."* 

Do you not think that the poet who wrote ol me in such terms 
deserved some friendly marks of my bounty then, and of my 
sorrow now? For he gave me the very best he had to bestow, and 
would have given more had it been in his pKJwer. Though indeed 
what can a man have conferred on him more valuable than the 
honour of never-fading praise.' But his poems will not long survive 
their author, at least I think not, though he wrote them in the expecta- 
tion of their doing so. Farewell. 


To Fabatus (His Wife's Grandfather) 

You have long desired a visit from your granddaughter^ accom- 
panied by me. Nothing, be assured, could be more agreeable to 
either of us; for we equally wish to see you, and are determined 
to delay that pleasure no longer. For this purpose we are already 
packing up, and hastening to you with all the speed the roads will 
permit of. We shall make only one short stoppage, for we intend 
turning a little out of our way to go into Tuscany: not for the sake 
of looking upon our estate, and into our family concerns, which we 
can postpone to another opportunity, but to perform an indispensable 
duty. There is a town near my estate, called Tifernum-upon-the- 
Tiber,* which, with more affection than wisdom, put itself under 
my patronage when I was yet a youth. These people celebrate my 
arrival among them, express the greatest concern when I leave them, 

*Mart. Ix. 19. 
'Calpurnia, Pliny's wife. 'Now Citta di Castello. 


and have public rejoicings whenever they hear of my preferments. 
By way of requiting their kindnesses (for what generous mind can 
bear to be excelled in acts of friendship?) I have built a temple in 
this place, at my own expense, and as it is finished, it would be a sort 
of impiety to put off its dedication any longer. So we shall be there 
on the day on which that ceremony is to be performed, and I have 
resolved to celebrate it with a general feast. We may possibly stay 
on there for all the next day, but shall make so much the greater haste 
in our journey afterwards. May we have the happiness to find you 
and your daughter in good health! In good spirits I am sure we 
shall, should we get to you all safely. Farewell. 


To Attius Clemens 

Reculus has lost his son; the only undeserved misfortune which 
could have befallen him, in that I doubt whether he thinks it a 
misfortune. The boy had quick parts, but there was no telling how 
he might turn out; however, he seemed capable enough of going 
right, were he not to grow up like his father. Regulus gave him 
his freedom,' in order to entitle him to the estate left him by his 
mother; and when he got into possession of it (I speak of the 
current rumours, based upon the character of the man), fawned 
upon the lad with a disgusting shew of fond affection which in a 
parent was utterly out of place. You may hardly think this credible; 
but then consider what Regulus is. However, he now expresses his 
concern for the loss of this youth in a most extravagant manner. 
The boy had a number of ponies for riding and driving, dogs both 
big and little, together with nightingales, parrots, and blackbirds in 
abundance. All these Regulus slew round the funeral pile. It was 
not grief, but an ostentatious parade of grief. He is visited upon 
this occasion by a surprising number of people, who all hate and 
detest the man, and yet are as assiduous in their attendance upon 
him as if they really esteemed and loved him, and, to give you my 
opinion in a word, in endeavouring to do Regulus a kindness, make 

' The Romans had an absolute power over their children, of which no age or 
station of the latter deprived them. 

250 PLINY 

themselves exaaly like him. He keeps himself in his park on the 
other side the Tiber, where he has covered a vast extent of ground 
with his porticoes, and crowded all the shore with his statues; for 
he unites prodigality with excessive covetousness, and vainglory with 
the height of infamy. At this very unhealthy time of year he is 
boring society, and he feels pleasure and consolation in being a 
bore. He says he wishes to marry, — a piece of perversity, like all 
his other conduct. You must expect, therefore, to hear shortly of 
the marriage of this mourner, the marriage of this old man; too early 
in the former case, in the latter, too late. You ask me why I con- 
jecture this? Certainly not because he says so himself (for a greater 
liar never stepped), but because there is no doubt that Regulus will 
do whatever ought not to be done. Farewell. 


To Catius LEProus 

I OFTEN tell you that there is a certain force of character about 
Regulus: it is wonderful how he carries through what he has set 
his mind to. He chose lately to be extremely concerned for the loss 
of his son: accordingly he mourned for him as never man mourned 
before. He took it into his head to have an immense number of 
statues and pictures of him; immediately all the artisans in Rome 
are set to work. Canvas, wax, brass, silver, gold, ivory, marble, all 
exhibit the figure of the young Regulus. Not long ago he »ead, 
before a numerous audience, a memoir of his son: a memoir of a 
mere boy! However, he read it. He wrote likewise a sort of circular 
letter to the several Decurii, desiring them to choose out one of 
their order who had a strong, clear voice, to read this eulogy to the 
people; it has been actually done. Now had this force of character, 
or whatever else you may call a fixed determination in obtaining 
whatever one has a mind for, been rightly applied, what infinite 
good it might have effected! The misfortune is, there is less of this 
quality about good people than about bad people, and as ignorance 
begets rashness, and thoughtfulness produces deliberation, so modesty 
is apt to cripple the action of virtue, whilst confidence strengthens 
vice. Regulus is a case in point: he has a weak voice, an awkward 


delivery, an indistinct utterance, a slow imagination, and no memory; 
in a word, he possesses nothing but a sort of frantic energy: and yet, 
by the assistance of a flighty turn and much impudence, he passes 
as an orator. Herennius Senecio admirably reversed Cato's definition 
of an orator, and applied it to Regulus: "An orator," he said, "is 
a bad man, unskilled in the art of speaking." And really Cato's 
definition is not a more exact description of a true orator than 
Senecio's is of the character of this man. Would you make me a 
suitable return for this letter? Let me know if you, or any of my 
friends in your town, have, like a stroller in the market-place, read 
this doleful production of Regulus's, "raising," as Demosthenes says, 
"your voice most merrily, and straining every muscle in your throat." 
For so absurd a performance must excite laughter rather than com- 
passion; and indeed the composition is as puerile as the subject. 


To Maturus Arrianus 

My advancement to the dignity of augur' is an honour that justly 
indeed merits your congratulations; not only because it is highly 
honourable to receive, even in the slightest instances, a testimony of 
the approbation of so wise and discreet a prince,^ but because it 
is, moreover, an ancient and religious institution, which has this 
sacred and peculiar privilege annexed to it, that it is for Ufe. Other 
sacerdotal offices, though they may, perhaps, be almost equal to this 
one in dignity, yet, as they are given, so they may be taken away 
again: but fortune has no further power over this than to bestow it. 
What recommends this dignity still more highly is, that I have the 
honour to succeed so illustrious a person as Julius Frontinus. He 
for many years, upon the nomination-day of proper persons to be 
received into the sacred college, constantly proposed me, as though 
he had a view to electing me as his successor; and since it actually 

' Their business was to interpret dreams, oracles, prodigies, &c., and to foretell 
whether any action should be fortunate or piejudicial to particular persons, or to the 
whole commonwealth. Upon this account, they very often occasioned the displacing 
of magistrates, the deferring of public assemblies, (cc. Kennet's Rom. Antiq. M. 

' Trajan. 

252 PLINY 

proved so in the event, I am willing to look upon it as something 
more than mere accident. But the circumstance, it seems, that most 
pleases you in this affair, is, that Cicero enjoyed the same post; and 
you rejoice (you tell me) to find that I follow his steps as closely 
in the path of honours as I endeavour to do in that of eloquence. I 
wish, indeed, that as I had the advantage of being admitted earlier 
into the same order of priesthood, and into the consular office, than 
Cicero, so I might, in my later years, catch some spark, at least, of 
his divine genius! The former, indeed, being at man's disposal, may 
be conferred on me and on many others, but the latter it is as 
presumptuous to hope for as it is difficult to reach, being in the gift 
of heaven alone. Farewell. 


To Statius Sabinus 

Your letter informs me that Sabina, who appointed you and me 
her heirs, though she has nowhere expressly directed that Modestus 
shall have his freedom, yet has left him a legacy in the following 
words: "I give, &c. — To Modestus, whom I have ordered to have 
his freedom": upon which you desire my opinion. I have consulted 
skilful lawyers upon the point, and they all agree Modestus is not 
entitled to his liberty, since it is not expressly given, and consequently 
that the legacy is void, as being bequeathed to a slave.' But it 
evidently appears to be a mistake in the testatrix; and therefore I 
think we ought to act in this case as though Sabina had directed, in 
so many words, what, it is clear, she had ordered. I am persuaded 
you will go with me in this opinion, who so religiously regard the 
will of the deceased, which indeed where it can be discovered will 
always be law to honest heirs. Honour is to you and me as strong 
an obligation as the compulsion of law is to others. Let Modestus 
then enjoy his freedom and his legacy as fully as if Sabina had 
observed all the requisite forms, as indeed they effectually do who 
make a judicious choice of their heirs. Farewell. 

• A slave was incapable of property; and, therefore, whatever he acquired became 
the right of his master. M. 



To Cornelius Minicianus 

Have you heard — I suppose, not yet, for the news has but just 
arrived — that Valerius Licinianus has become a professor in Sicily? 
This unfortunate person, who lately enjoyed the dignity of praetor, 
and was esteemed the most eloquent of our advocates, is now fallen 
from a senator to an exile, from an orator to a teacher of rhetoric. 
Accordingly in his inaugural speech he uttered, sorrowfully and 
solemnly, the following words: "O Fortune, how capriciously dost 
thou sport with mankind! Thou makest rhetoricians of senators, 
and senators of rhetoricians!" A sarcasm so poignant and full of 
gall that one might almost imagine he fixed upon this profession 
merely for the sake of an opportunity of applying it. And having 
made his first appearance in school, clad in the Greek cloak (for 
exiles have no right to wear the toga), after arranging himself and 
looking down upon his attire, "I am, however," he said, "going to 
declaim in Latin." You will think, perhaps, this situation, wretched 
and deplorable as it is, is what he well deserves for having stained 
the honourable profession of an orator with the crime of incest. 
It is true, indeed, he pleaded guilty to the charge; but whether from 
a consciousness of his guilt, or from an apprehension of worse 
consequences if he denied it, is not clear; for Domitian generally 
raged most furiously where his evidence failed him most hopelessly. 
That emperor had determined that Cornelia, chief of the Vestal 
Virgins,' should be buried alive, from an extravagant notion that 
exemplary severities of this kind conferred lustre upon his reign. 

• "Their office was to attend upon the rites of Vesta, the chief part of which was the 
preservation of the holy fire. If this fire happened to go out, it was considered impiety 
to light it at any common flame, but they made use of the pure and unpolluted rays 
of the sun for that purpose. There were various other duties besides connected 
with their office. The chief rules prescribed them were, to vow the strictest chastity 
for the space of thirty years. After this term was completed, they had liberty to leave 
the order. If they broke their vow of virginity, they were buried alive in a place 
allotted to that peculiar use." Rennet's Antiq. Their reputation for sanctity was so 
high that Livy mentions the fact of two of those virgins having violated their vows, 
as a prodigy that threatened destruction to the Roman state. Lib. xxii., c. 57. And 
Suetonius informs us that Augustus had so high an opinion of this religious order 
that he consigned the care of his will to the Vestal Virgins. Suet, in Vit. Aug. 
c. loi. M. 

254 PLINY 

Accordingly, by virtue of his office as supreme pontiff, or, rather, 
in the exercise of a tyrant's cruelty, a despot's lawlessness, he con- 
vened the sacred college, not in the pontifical court where they 
usually assemble, but at his villa near Alba; and there, with a guilt 
no less heinous than that which he professed to be punishing, he 
condemned her, when she was not present to defend herself, on 
the charge of incest, while he himself had been guilty, not only of 
debauching his own brother's daughter, but was also accessory to 
her death: for that lady, being a widow, in order to conceal her 
shame, endeavoured to procure an abortion, and by that means lost 
her life. However, the priests were directed to see the sentence 
immediately executed upon Cornelia. As they were leading her 
to the place of execution, she called upon Vesta, and the rest of 
the gods, to attest her innocence; and, amongst other exclamations, 
frequently cried out, "Is it possible that Ca'sar can think me pwlluted, 
under the influence of whose sacred functions he has conquered 
and triumphed?'" Whether she said this in flattery or derision; 
whether it proceeded from a consciousness of her innocence, or 
contempt of the emperor, is uncertain; but she continued exclaiming 
in this manner, till she came to the place of execution, to which 
she was led, whether innocent or guilty I cannot say, at all events 
with every appearance and demonstration of innocence. As she was 
being lowered down into the subterranean vault, her robe happening 
to catch upon something in the descent, she turned round and 
disengaged it, when, the executioner offering his assistance, she 
drew herself back with horror, refusing to be so much as touched 
by him, as though it were a defilement to her pure and unspotted 
chastity: still preserving the appearance of sanctity up to the last 
moment; and, among all the other instances of her modesty, 

"She took great care to fall with decency."' 

Celer likewise, a Roman knight, who was accused of an intrigue 
with her, while they were scourging him with rods* in the Forum, 
persisted in exclaiming, "What have I done? — I have done nothing." 

* It was usual with Domitian to triumph, not only without a victory, but even after 
a defeat. M. ' Euripides' Hecuba. 

* The punishment inflicted upon the violators of Vestal chastity wai to be scourged 
to death. M. 


These declarations of innocence had exasperated Domitian exceed- 
ingly, as imputing to him acts of cruelty and injustice; accordingly 
Licinianus, being seized by the empjeror's orders for having concealed 
a freedwoman of Cornelia's in one of his estates, was advised, by 
those who took him in charge, to confess the fact, if he hoped to 
obtain a remission of his punishment, and he complied with their 
advice. Herennius Senecio spoke for him in his absence, in some 
such words as Homer's 

"Patroclus lies in death." 

"Instead of an advocate," said he, "I must turn informer: Licinianus 
has fled." This news was so agreeable to Domitian that he could 
not help betraying his satisfaction: "Then," he exclaimed, "has 
Licinianus acquitted us of injustice"; adding that he would not 
press too hard upon him in his disgrace. He accordingly allowed 
him to carry off such of his effects as he could secure before they 
were seized for the public use, and in other respects softened the 
sentence of banishment by way of reward for his voluntary confes- 
sion. Licinianus was afterwards, through the clemency of the em- 
peror Nerva, permitted to settle in Sicily, where he now professes 
rhetoric, and avenges himself upon Fortune in his declamations. — 
You see how obedient I am to your commands, in sending you a 
circumstantial detail of foreign as well as domestic news. I imagined 
indeed, as you were absent when this transaction occurred, that you 
had only heard just in a general way that Licinianus was banished 
for incest, as Fame usually makes her report in general terms, 
without going into particulars. I think I deserve in return a full 
account of all that is going on in your town and neighbourhood, 
where something worth telling about is usually happening; however, 
write what you please, provided you send me as long a letter as 
my own. I give you notice, I shall count not only the pages, but 
even the very Hnes and syllables. Farewell. 


To Valerius Paulinus 

Rejoice with me, my friend, not only upon my account, but your 
own, and that of the republic as well; for literature is still held 

256 PLINY 

in honour. Being lately engaged to plead a cause before the Court 
of the Hundred, the crowd was so great that I could not get to my 
place without crossing the tribunal where the judges sat. And I 
have this pleasing circumstance to add further, that a young noble- 
man, having had his tunic torn, an ordinary occurrence in a crowd, 
stood with his gown thrown over him, to hear me, and that during 
the seven hours I was speaking, whilst my success more than counter- 
balanced the fatigue of so long a sjjeech. So let us set to and not 
screen our own indolence under pretence of that of the public. Never, 
be very sure of that, will there be wanting hearers and readers, so 
long as we can only supply them with speakers and writers worth 
their attention. Farewell. 


To AsiNius 

You advise me, nay you entreat me, to undertake, in her absence, 
the cause of Corellia, against C. Caccilius, consul elect. For your 
advice I am grateful, of your entreaty I really must complain; with- 
out the first, indeed, I should have been ignorant of this affair, 
but the last was unnecessary, as I need no solicitations to comply, 
where it would be ungenerous in me to refuse; for can I hesitate 
a moment to take upon myself the protection of a daughter of 
Corellius? It is true, indeed, though there is no particular intimacy 
between her adversary and myself, still we are upon good enough 
terms. It is also true that he is a person of rank, and one who has 
a high claim upon my especial regard, as destined to enter upon an 
office which I have had the honour to fill; and it is natural for a 
man to be desirous those dignities should be held in the highest 
esteem which he himself once [assessed. Yet all these considerations 
appear indifferent and trifling when I reflect that it is the daughter 
of Corellius whom I am to defend. The memory of that excellent 
person, than whom this age has not produced a man of greater 
dignity, rectitude, and acuteness, is indelibly imprinted upon my 
mind. My regard for him sprang from my admiration of the man, 
and, contrary to what is usually the case, my admiration increased 
upon a thorough knowledge of him, and indeed I did know him 


thoroughly, for he kept nothing back from me, whether gay or 
serious, sad or joyous. When he was but a youth, he esteemed, 
and (I will even venture to say) revered, me as if I had been his 
equal. When I solicited any post of honour, he supported me with 
his interest, and recommended me with his testimony; when I 
entered upon it, he was my introducer and my companion; when 
I exercised it, he was my guide and my counsellor. In a word, 
whenever my interest was concerned, he exerted himself, in spite of 
his weakness and declining years, with as much alacrity as though 
he were still young and lusty. In private, in public, and at court, 
how often has he advanced and supported my credit and interest! 
It happened once that the conversation, in the presence of the 
emperor Nerva, turned upon the promising young men of that time, 
and several of the company present were pleased to mention me 
with applause; he sat for a little while silent, which gave what he 
said the greater weight; and then, with that air of dignity, to which 
you are no stranger, "I must be reserved," said he, "in my praises of 
Pliny, because he does nothing without my advice." By which single 
sentence he bestowed upon me more than my most extravagant 
wishes could aspire to, as he represented my conduct to be always 
such as wisdom must approve, since it was wholly under the direction 
of one of the wisest of men. Even in his last moments he said to his 
daughter (as she often mentions), "I have in the course of a long 
life raised up many friends to you, but there are none in whom 
you may more assuredly confide than Pliny and Cornutus." A cir- 
cumstance I cannot reflect upon without being deeply sensible how 
incumbent it is upon me to endeavour not to disappoint the con- 
fidence so excellent a judge of human nature reposed in me. I shall 
therefore most readily give my assistance to Corellia in this affair, 
and willingly risk any displeasure I may incur by appearing in her 
behalf. Though I should imagine, if in the course of my pleadings 
I should find an opportunity to explain and enforce more fully and 
at large than the limits of a letter allow of, the reasons I have here 
mentioned, upon which I rest at once my apology and my glory; 
her adversary (whose suit may perhaps, as you say, be entirely 
without precedent, as it is against a woman) will not only excuse, 
but approve, my conduct. Farewell. 

258 PLINY 



As you are a model of all virtue, and loved your late excellent 
brother, who had such a fondness for you, with an affection equal 
to his own; regarding too his daughter' as your child, not only 
shewing her an aunt's tenderness, but supplying the place of the 
parent she had lost; I know it will give you the greatest pleasure 
and joy to hear that she proves worthy of her father, her grand- 
father, and yourself. She possesses an excellent understanding to- 
gether with a consummate prudence, and gives the strongest evidence 
of the purity of her heart by her fondness of her husband. Her 
affection for me, moreover, has given her a taste for books, and my 
productions, which she takes a pleasure in reading, and even in 
getting by heart, are continually in her hands. How full of tender 
anxiety is she when I am going to speak in any case, how rejoiced 
she feels when it is got through! While I am pleading, she stations 
persons to inform her from time to time how I am heard, what 
applauses I receive, and what success attends the case. When I recite 
my works at any time, she conceals herself behind some curtain, and 
drinks in my praises with greedy ears. She sings my verses too, 
adapting them to her lyre, with no other master but love, that best 
of instructors, for her guide. From these happy circumstances I 
derive my surest hopes that the harmony between us will increase 
with our days, and be as lasting as our lives. For it is not my youth 
or person, which time gradually impairs; it is my honour and glory 
that she cares for. But what less could be expected from one who 
was trained by your hands, and formed by your instructions; who 
was early familiarized under your roof with all that is pure and 
virtuous, and who learnt to love me first through your praises? 
And as you revered my mother with all the respect due even to a 
parent, so you kindly directed and encouraged my tender years, 
presaging from that early period all that my wife now fondly 
imagines I really am. Accept therefore of our mutual thanks, mine 
for your giving me her, hers for your giving her me; for you have 
chosen us out, as it were, for each other. Farewell. 
■ Calpurnia, Pliny's wife. 




Look here! The next time the courts sits, you must, at all events, 
take your place there. In vain would your indolence repose itself 
under my protection, for there is no absenting oneself with impunity. 
Look at that severe, determined praetor, Licinius Nepos, who fined 
even a senator for the same neglect! The senator pleaded his cause 
in person, birt in suppliant tone. The fine, it is true, was remitted, 
but sore was his dismay, humble his intercession, and he had to 
ask pardon. "All praetors are not so severe as that," you will reply; 
you are mistaken — for though indeed to be the author and reviver 
of an example of this kind may be an act of severity, yet, once intro- 
duced, even lenity herself may follow the precedent. Farewell. 


To Licinius Sura 

I HAVE brought you as a little present out of the country a query 
which well deserves the consideration of your extensive knowledge. 
There is a spring which rises in a neighbouring mountain and, 
running among the rocks, is received into a little banqueting-room, 
artificially formed for that purpose, from whence, after being de- 
tained a short time, it falls into the Larian lake. The nature of this 
spring is extremely curious; it ebbs and flows regularly three times 
a day. The increase and decrease are plainly visible, and exceedingly 
interesting to observe. You sit down by the side of the fountain, 
and while you are taking a repast and drinking its water, which is 
extremely cool, you see it gradually rise and fall. If you place a 
ring, or anything else, at the bottom, when it is dry, the water creeps 
gradually up, first gently washing, finally covering it entirely, and 
then little by little subsides again. If you wait long enough, you 
may see it thus alternately advance and recede three successive times. 
Shall we say that some secret current of air stops and opens the 
fountainhead, first rushing in and checking the flow and then, 
driven back by the counter-resistance of the water, escaping again; 

26o PLINY 

as we see in bottles, and other vessels of that nature, where, there 
not being a free and open passage, though you turn their necks 
{perpendicularly or obliquely downwards, yet, the outward air ob- 
structing the vent, they discharge their contents, as it were, by 
starts? Or may not this small collection of water be successively 
contracted and enlarged upon the same principle as the ebb and 
flow of the sea? Or, again, as those rivers which discharge them- 
selves into the sea, meeting with contrary winds and the swell of the 
ocean, are forced back in their channels, so, in the same way, may 
there not be something that checks this fountain, for a time, in its 
progress? Or is there rather a certain reservoir that contains these 
waters in the bowels of the earth, and while it is recruiting its 
discharges, the stream in consequence flows more slowly and in 
less quantity, but, when it has collected its due measure, runs on 
again in its usual strength and fulness? Or, lastly, is there I know 
not what kind of subterranean counterpoise, that throws up the 
water when the fountain is dry, and keeps it back when it is full? 
You, who are so well qualified for the enquiry, will examine into 
the causes of this wonderful phenomenon; it will be sufficient for 
me if I have given you an adequate description of it. Farewell. 


To Annius Severus 

A SMALL legacy was lately left me, yet one more acceptable than 
a far larger bequest would have been. How more acceptable than 
a far larger one? In this way: Pomponia Gratilla, having disinherited 
her son Assidius Curianus, appointed me one of her heirs, and 
Sertorius Severus, of praetorian rank, together with several eminent 
Roman knights, coheirs along with me. The son applied to me to 
give him my share of the inheritance, in order to use my name 
as an example to the rest of the joint heirs, but offered at the same 
time to enter into a secret agreement to return me my proportion. I 
told him it was by no means agreeable to my character to seem to 
act one way while in reality I was acting another, besides it was not 
quite honourable making presents to a man of his fortune, who had 
no children; in a word, this would not at all answer the purpose 


at which he was aiming, whereas, if I were to withdraw my claim, 
it might be of some service to him, and this I was ready and willing to 
do, if he could clearly prove to me that he was unjustly disinherited. 
"Do then," he said, "be my arbitrator in this case." After a short 
pause I answered him, "I will, for I don't see why I should not 
have as good an opinion of my own impartial disinterestedness as 
you seem to have. But, mind, I am not to be prevailed upon to decide 
the point in question against your mother, if it should appear she 
had just reason for what she has done." "As you please," he replied, 
"which I am sure is always to act according to justice." I called 
in, as my assistants, Corellius and Frontinus, two of the very best 
lawyers Rome at that time afforded. With these in attendance, I 
heard the case in my own chamber. Curianus said everything which 
he thought would favour his pretensions, to whom (there being 
nobody but myself to defend the character of the deceased) I made 
a short reply; after which I retired with my friends to deliberate, 
and, being agreed upon our verdict, I said to him, "Curianus, it is 
our opinion that your conduct has justly drawn upon you your 
mother's displeasure." Some time afterwards, Curianus commenced 
a suit in the Court of the Hundred against all the coheirs except 
myself. The day appointed for the trial approaching, the rest of 
the coheirs were anxious to compromise the affair and have done 
with it, not out of any diffidence of their cause, but from a distrust 
of the times. They were apprehensive of what had happened to 
many others, happening to them, and that from a civil suit it might 
end in a criminal one, as there were some among them to whom the 
friendship of Gratilla and Rusticus' might be extremely prejudicial: 
they therefore desired me to go and talk with Curianus. We met 
in the temple of Concord; "Now supposing," I said, "your mother 
had left you the fourth part of her estate, or even suppose she had 
made you sole heir, but had exhausted so much of the estate in 
legacies that there would not be more than a fourth part remaining 
to you, could you justly complain? You ought to be content, there- 
fore, if, being absolutely disinherited as you are, the heirs are willing 
to relinquish to you a fourth part, which, however, I will increase 

'Gratilla was the wife of Rusticus; Rusticus was put to death by Domitian, and 
Gratilla banished. It was sufficient crime in the rei{;n of that execrable prince to be 
even a friend of those who were obnoxious to him. M, 

262 PLINY 

by contributing my proportion. You know you did not commence 
any suit against me, and two years have now elapsed, which gives 
me legal and indisputable possession. But to induce you to agree 
to the proposals on the part of the other coheirs, and that you may 
be no sufferer by the peculiar respect you shew me, I offer to 
advance my proportion with them." The silent approval of my own 
conscience is not the only result out of this transaction; it has con- 
tributed also to the honour of my character. For it is this same 
Curianus who has left me the legacy I have mentioned in the be- 
ginning of my letter, and I received it as a very notable mark of 
his approbation of my conduct, if I do not flatter myself. I have 
written and told you all this, because in all my joys and sorrows 
I am wont to look upon you as myself, and I thought it would be 
unkind not to communicate to so tender a friend whatever occasions 
me a sensible gratification; for I am not philosopher enough to be 
indifferent, when I think I have acted like an honourable man, 
whether my actions meet with that approval which is in some sort 
their due. Farewell. 

To Trrius Aristo 

Among the many agreeable and obliging instances I have received 
of your friendship, your not concealing from me the long conversa- 
tion which lately took place at your house concerning my verses, 
and the various judgments passed upon them (which served to 
prolong the talk), is by no means the least. There were some, it 
seems, who did not disapprove of my poems in themselves, but at 
the same time censured me in a free and friendly way, for employing 
myself in composing and reciting them. I am so far, however, 
from desiring to extenuate the charge that I willingly acknowledge 
myself still more deserving of it, and confess that I sometimes amuse 
myself with writing verses of the gayer sort. I compose comedies, 
divert myself with pantomimes, read the lyric poets, and enter into 
the spirit of the most wanton muse, besides that, I indulge myself 
sometimes in laughter, mirth, and frolic, and, to sum up every 
kind of innocent relaxation in one word, / am a man. I am not in 


the least offended, though, at their low opinion o£ my morals, and 
that those who are ignorant of the fact that the most learned, the 
wisest, and the best of men have employed themselves in the same 
way, should be surprised at the tone of my writings: but from 
those who know what noble and numerous examples I follow, 
I shall, I am confident, easily obtain permission to err with those 
whom it is an honour to imitate, not only in their most serious 
occupations but their lightest triflings. Is it unbecoming me — I 
will not name any living example, lest I should seem to flatter — 
but is it unbecoming me to practise what became Tully, Calvus, 
Pollio, Messala, Hortensius, Brutus, Sulla, Catulus, Scaevola, Sulpitius, 
Varro, the Torquati, Memmius, Gitulicus, Seneca, Lucceius, and, 
within our own memory, Verginius Rufus? But if the examples 
of private men are not sufficient to justify me, I can cite Julius Cxsar, 
Augustus, Nerva, and Tiberius Carsar. I forbear to add Nero to the 
catalogue, though I am aware that what is practised by the worst 
of men does not therefore degenerate into wrong: on the contrary, 
it still maintains its credit, if frequently countenanced by the best. 
In that number, Virgil, Cornelius Nepos, and, prior to these, Ennius 
and Attius, justly deserve the most distinguished place. These last 
indeed were not senators, but goodness knows no distinction of rank 
or title. I recite my works, it is true, and in this instance I am not 
sure I can support myself by their examples. They, perhaps, might 
be satisfied with their own judgment, but I have too humble an 
opinion of mine to suppose my compositions perfect, because they 
appear so to my own mind. My reasons then for reciting are, that, 
for one thing, there is a certain deference for one's audience, which 
excites a somewhat more vigorous application, and then again, I 
have by this means an opportunity of settling any doubts I may 
have concerning my (performance, by observing the general opinion 
of the audience. In a word, I have the advantage of receiving 
different hints from different persons: and although they should 
not declare their meaning in express terms, yet the expression of the 
countenance, the movement of the head, the eyes, the motion of a 
hand, a whisper, or even silence itself will easily distinguish their 
real opinion from the language of f)oliteness. And so if any one 
of my audience should have the curiosity to read over the same 

264 PLINY 

performance which he heard me read, he may find several things 
altered or omitted, and perhaps too upon his particular judgment, 
though he did not say a single word to me. But I am not defending 
my conduct in this particular, as if I had actually recited my works 
in public, and not in my own house before my friends, a numerous 
appearance of whom has upon many occasions been held an honour, 
but never, surely, a reproach. Farewell. 


To Nonius Maximus 

I AM deeply afflicted with the news I have received of the death 
of Fannius; in the first place, because I loved one so eloquent and 
refined, in the next, because I was accustomed to be guided by his 
judgment — and indeed he possessed great natural acuteness, im- 
proved by practice, rendering him able to see a thing in an instant. 
There are some circumstances about his death, which aggravate my 
concern. He left behind him a will which had been made a con- 
siderable time before his decease, by which it happens that his estate 
is fallen into the hands of those who had incurred his displeasure, 
whilst his greatest favourites are excluded. But what I particularly 
regret is, that he has left unfinished a very noble work in which 
he was employed. Notwithstanding his full practice at the bar, 
he had begun a history of those persons who were put to death or 
banished by Nero, and completed three books of it. They are 
written with great elegance and precision, the style is pure, and pre- 
serves a proper medium between the plain narrative and the histo- 
rical: and as they were very favourably received by the public, he was 
the more desirous of being able to finish the rest. The hand of 
death is ever, in my opinion, too untimely and sudden when it 
falls upon such as are employed in some immortal work. The 
sons of sensuality, who have no outlook beyond the present hour, 
put an end every day to all motives for living, but those who look 
forward to posterity, and endeavour to transmit their names with 
honour to future generations by their works — to such, death is al- 
ways immature, as it still snatches them from amidst some un- 
finished design. Fannius, long before his death, had a presentiment 


of what has happened: he dreamed one night that as he was lying 
on his couch, in an undress, all ready for his work, and with his 
desk,' as usual, in front of him, Nero entered, and placing himself 
by his side, took up the three first books of this history, which he 
read through and then departed. This dream greatly alarmed him, 
and he regarded it as an intimation that he should not carry on 
his history any farther than Nero had read, and so the event has 
proved. I cannot reflect upon this accident without lamenting that 
he was prevented from accomplishing a work which had cost him 
so many toilsome vigils, as it suggests to me, at the same time, 
reflections on my own mortality, and the fate of my writings: and 
I am persuaded the same apprehensions alarm you for those in 
which you are at present employed. Let us then, my friend, while 
life permits, exert all our endeavours, that death, whenever it arrives, 
may find as little as possible to destroy. Farewell. 


To DoMiTius Apollinaris 

The kind concern you expressed on hearing of my design to pass 
the summer at my villa in Tuscany, and your obliging endeavours 
to dissuade me from going to a place which you think unhealthy, 
are extremely pleasing to me. It is quite true indeed that the air 
of that part of Tuscany which lies towards the coast is thick and 
unwholesome: but my house stands at a good distance from the sea, 
under one of the Apennines, which are singularly healthy. But, to 
relieve you from all anxiety on my account, I will give you a descrip- 
tion of the temperature of the climate, the situation of the country, 
and the beauty of my villa, which, I am persuaded, you will hear 
with as much pleasure as I shall take in giving it. The air in 
winter is sharp and frosty, so that myrtles, olives, and trees of that 
kind which delight in constant warmth, will not flourish here: but 
the laurel thrives, and is remarkably beautiful, though now and then 
the cold kills it — though not oftener than it does in the neighbour- 
hood of Rome. The summers are extraordinarily mild, and there is 
always a refreshing breeze, seldom high winds. This accounts for 
•In the original, tcrinium, a box for holding MSS. 

266 PLINY 

the number of old men we have about; you would see grandfathers 
and great-grandfathers of those now grown up to be young men, 
hear old stories and the dialect of our ancestors, and fancy yourself 
born in some former age were you to come here. The character of 
the country is exceedingly beautiful. Picture to yourself an immense 
amphitheatre, such as nature only could create. Before you lies a 
broad, extended plain bounded by a range of mountains, whose 
summits are covered with tall and ancient woods, which are stocked 
with all kinds of game. The descending slopes of the mountains 
are planted with underwood, among which are a number of litde 
risings with a rich soil, on which hardly a stone is to be found. In 
fruitfulness they are quite equal to a valley, and though their harvest 
is rather later, their crops are just as good. At the foot of these, on 
the mountainside, the eye, wherever it turns, runs along one un- 
broken stretch of vineyards terminated by a belt of shrubs. Next 
you have meadows and the open plain. The arable land is so stiff 
that it is necessary to go over it nine times with the biggest oxen 
and the strongest ploughs. The meadows are bright with flowers, 
and produce trefoil and other kinds of herbage as fine and tender 
as if it were but just sprung up, for all the soil is refreshed by 
never-failing streams. But though there is plenty of water, there 
are no marshes; for the ground being on a slope, whatever water 
it receives without absorbing runs off into the Tiber. This river, 
which winds through the middle of the meadows, is navigable only 
in the winter and spring, at which seasons it transports the produce 
of the lands to Rome: but in summer it sinks below its banks, 
leaving the name of a great river to an almost empty channel: 
towards the autumn, however, it begins again to renew its claim 
to that title. You would be charmed by taking a view of this country 
from the top of one of our neighbouring mountains, and would 
fancy that not a real, but some imaginary landscape, painted by the 
most exquisite pencil, lay before you, such an harmonious variety 
of beautiful objects meets the eye, whichever way it turns. My 
house, although at the foot of a hill, commands as good a view as 
if it stood on its brow, yet you approach by so gentle and gradual 
a rise that you find yourself on high ground without perceiving 
you have been making an ascent. Behind, but at a great distance, 


is the Apennine range. In the calmest days we get cool breezes 
from that quarter, not sharp and cutting at all, being spent and 
broken by the long distance they have travelled. The greater part 
of the house has a southern aspect, and seems to invite the afternoon 
sun in summer (but rather earlier in the winter) into a broad and 
profxjrtionately long portico, consisting of several rooms, particu- 
larly a court of antique fashion. In front of the portico is a sort 
of terrace, edged with box and shrubs cut into different shapes. 
You descend, from the terrace, by an easy slope adorned with the 
figures of animals in box, facing each other, to a lawn overspread 
with the soft, I had almost said the liquid. Acanthus: this is sur- 
rounded by a walk enclosed with evergreens, shajjed into a variety 
of forms. Beyond it is the gestatio, laid out in the form of a circus 
running round the multiform box-hedge and the dwarf-trees, which 
are cut quite close. The whole is fenced in with a wall completely 
covered by box cut into steps all the way up to the top. On the 
outside of the wall lies a meadow that owes as many beauties to 
nature as all I have been describing within does to art; at the end 
of which are open plain and numerous other meadows and copses. 
From the extremity of the portico a large dining-room runs out, 
opening upon one end of the terrace, while from the windows 
there is a very extensive view over the meadows up into the country, 
and from these you also see the terrace and the projecting wing of 
the house together with the woods enclosing the adjacent hippo- 
drome. Almost opposite the centre of the portico, and rather to 
the back, stands a summer-house, enclosing a small area shaded by 
four plane-trees, in the midst of which rises a marble fountain 
which gently plays upon the roots of the plane-trees and upon the 
grass-plots underneath them. This summer-house has a bedroom 
in it free from every sort of noise, and which the light itself cannot 
penetrate, together with a common dining-room I use when I have 
none but intimate friends with me. A second portico looks upon 
this little area, and has the same view as the other I have just been 
describing. There is, besides, another room, which, being situate 
close to the nearest plane-tree, enjoys a constant shade and green. 
Its sides are encrusted with carved marble as far as the dado, while 
above the marble a foliage is painted with birds among the branches. 

268 PLINY 

which has an effect altogether as agreeable as that of the carving, 
at the foot of which a little fountain, playing through several small 
pipes into a vase it encloses, produces a most pleasing murmur. 
From a corner of the portico you enter a very large bedchamber 
opposite the large dining-room, which from some of its windows 
has a view of the terrace, and from others, of the meadow, as those 
in the front look upon a cascade, which entertains at once both the 
eye and the ear; for the water, dashing from a great height, foams 
over the marble basin which receives it below. This room is ex- 
tremely warm in winter, lying much exposed to the sun, and on 
a cloudy day the heat of an adjoining stove very well supplies his 
absence. Leaving this room, you pass through a good-sized, pleasant 
undressing-room into the cold-bath-room, in which is a large, gloomy 
bath: but if you are inclined to swim more at large, or in warmer 
water, in the middle of the area stands a wide basin for that 
purpose, and near it a reservoir from which you may be supplied 
with cold water to brace yourself again, if you should find you 
are too much relaxed by the warm. Adjoining the cold bath is 
one of a medium degree of heat, which enjoys the kindly warmth 
of the sun, but not so intensely as the hot bath, which projects 
farther. This last consists of three several compartments, each of 
different degrees of heat; the two former lie open to the full sun, 
the latter, though not much exposed to its heat, receives an equal 
share of its light. Over the undressing-room is built the tennis<ourt, 
which admits of different kinds of games and different sets of 
players. Not far from the baths is the staircase leading to the en- 
closed portico, three rooms intervening. One of these looks out 
upon the litde area with the four plane-trees round it, the other 
upon the meadows, and from the third you have a view of several 
vineyards, so that each has a different one, and looks towards a 
different point of the heavens. At the upper end of the enclosed 
portico, and indeed taken off from it, is a room that looks out 
upon the hippodrome, the vineyards, and the mountains; adjoining 
is a room which has a full exposure to the sun, especially in winter, 
and out of which runs another connecting the hippodrome with 
the house. This forms the front. On the side rises an enclosed 
portico, which not only looks out upon the vineyards, but seems 


almost to touch them. From the middle of this portico you enter 
a dining-room cooled by the wholesome breezes from the Apennine 
valleys: from the windows behind, which are extremely large, there 
is a close view of the vineyards, and from the folding doors through 
the summer portico. Along that side of the dining-room where 
there are no windows runs a private staircase for greater convenience 
in serving up when I give an entertainment; at the farther end is 
a sleeping-room with a lookout upon the vineyards, and (what is 
equally agreeable) the portico. Underneath this room is an enclosed 
portico resembling a grotto, which, enjoying in the midst of summer 
heats its own natural coolness, neither admits nor wants external 
air. After you have passed both these porticoes, at the end of the 
dining-room stands a third, which, according as the day is more 
or less advanced, serves either for winter or summer use. It leads 
to two different apartments, one containing four chambers, the 
other, three, which enjoy by turns both sun and shade. This arrange- 
ment of the different parts of my house is exceedingly pleasant, 
though it is not to be compared with the beauty of the hippodrome,' 
lying entirely op)en in the middle of the grounds, so that the eye, 
upon your first entrance, takes it in entire in one view. It is set 
round with plane-trees covered with ivy, so that, while their tops 
flourish with their own green, towards the roots their verdure is 
borrowed from the ivy that twines round the trunk and branches, 
spreads from tree to tree, and connects them together. Between each 
plane-tree are planted box-trees, and behind these stands a grove 
of laurels which blend their shade with that of the planes. This 
straight boundary to the hippodrome alters its shape at the farther 
end, bending into a semicircle, which is planted round, shut in 
with cypresses, and casts a deeper and gloomier shade, while the 
inner circular walks (for there are several), enjoying an of)en ex- 
posure, are filled with plenty of roses, and correct, by a very pleasant 
contrast, the coolness of the shade with the warmth of the sun. 
Having passed through these several winding alleys, you enter a 
straight walk, which breaks out into a variety of others, partitioned 

' The hippodromus, in its proper signification, was a place, among the Grecians, 
set apart for horse-racing and other exercises of that kind. But it seems here to be 
nothing more than a particular walk to which Pliny perhaps gave that name from its 
bearing tome resemblance in ib form to the public places so called. M. 

270 PLINY 

off by box-row hedges. In one place you have a Httle meadow, in 
another the box is cut in a thousand different forms, sometimes 
into letters, expressing the master's name, sometimes the artificer's, 
whilst here and there rise little obelisks with fruit-trees alternately 
intermixed, and then on a sudden, in the midst of this elegant 
regularity, you are surprised with an imitation of the negligent 
beauties of rural nature. In the centre of this lies a spot adorned 
with a knot of dwarf plane-trees. Beyond these stands an acacia, 
smooth and bending in places, then again various other shapes and 
names. At the upper end is an alcove of white marble, shaded with 
vines and supported by four small Carystian columns. From this 
semicircular couch, the water, gushing up through several little pip>es, 
as though pressed out by the weight of the {persons who recline 
themselves upon it, falls into a stone cistern underneath, from whence 
it is received into a fine polished marble basin, so skilfully contrived 
that it is always full without ever overflowing. When I sup here, 
this basin serves as a table, the larger sort of dishes being placed 
round the margin, while the smaller ones swim about in the form 
of vessels and water-fowl. Opposite this is a fountain which is in- 
cessandy emptying and filhng, for the water which it throws up 
to a great height, falling back again into it, is by means of con- 
secutive apiertures returned as fast as it is received. Facing the 
alcove (and reflecting upon it as great an ornament as it borrows 
from it) stands a summer-house of exquisite marble, the doors of 
which project and open into a green enclosure, while from its upp)er 
and lower windows the eye falls upon a variety of different greens. 
Next to this is a little private closet (which, though it seems distinct, 
may form part of the same room), furnished with a couch, and 
notwithstanding it has windows on every side, yet it enjoys a very 
agreeable gloom, by means of a spreading vine which climbs to 
the top, and entirely overshadows it. Here you may lie and fancy 
yourself in a wood, with this only difference, that you are not 
expxjsed to the weather as you would be there. Here too a fountain 
rises and instantly disappears — several marble seats are set in dif- 
ferent places, which are as pleasant as the summer-house itself after 
one is tired out with walking. Near each seat is a little fountain, 
and throughout the whole hippodrome several small rills rua 


murmuring along through pipes, wherever the hand o£ art has 
thought proper to conduct them, watering here and there different 
plots of green, and sometimes all parts at once. I should have ended 
before now, for fear of being too chatty, had I not proposed in 
this letter to lead you into every corner of my house and gardens. 
Nor did I apprehend your thinking it a trouble to read the descrip- 
tion of a place which I feel sure would please you were you to see it; 
especially as you can stop just when you please, and by throwing 
aside my letter, sit down, as it were, and give yourself a rest as 
often as you think proper. Besides, I gave my little passion in- 
dulgence, for I have a passion for what I have built, or finished, 
myself. In a word (for why should I conceal from my friend either 
my deliberate opinion or my prejudice?), I look upon it as the 
first duty of every writer to frequently glance over his title-page 
and consider well the subject he has proposed to himself; and he 
may be sure, if he dwells on his subject, he cannot justly be thought 
tedious, whereas if, on the contrary, he introduces and drags in 
anything irrelevant, he will be thought exceedingly so. Homer, 
you know, has employed many verses in the description of the 
arms of Achilles, as Virgil has also in those of ^neas, yet neither 
of them is prolix, because they each keep within the limits of their 
original design. Aratus, you observe, is not considered too circum- 
stantial, though he traces and enumerates the minutest stars, for 
he does not go out of his way for that purpose, but only follows 
where his subject leads him. In the same way (to compare small 
things with great), so long as, in endeavouring to give you an 
idea of my house, I have not introduced anything irrelevant or 
superfluous, it is not my letter which describes, but my villa which 
is described, that is to be considered large. But to return to where 
I began, lest I should justly be condemned by my own law, if I 
continue longer in this digression, you see now the reasons why I 
prefer my Tuscan villa to those which I possess at Tusculum, Tiber, 
and Praeneste.* Besides the advantages already mentioned, I enjoy 
here a cozier, more profound and undisturbed retirement than any- 
where else, as I am at a greater distance from the business of the 

* Now called Frascati, Tivoli, aixl Palejtrina, all of them situated in the Campagna 
di Roma, and at no great distance from Rome. it. 

272 PLINY 

town and the interruption of troublesome clients. All is calm and 
composed; which circumstances contribute no less than its clear 
air and unclouded sky to that health of body and mind I particu- 
larly enjoy in this place, both of which I keep in full swing by 
study and hunting. And indeed there is no place which agrees 
better with my family, at least I am sure I have not yet lost one 
(may the expression be allowed!') of all those I brought here with 
me. And may the gods continue that happiness to me, and that 
honour to my villa. Farewell. 


To Calvisius 

It is certain the law does not allow a corporate city to inherit 
any estate by will, or to receive a legacy. Saturninus, however, who 
has appointed me his heir, had left a fourth part of his estate to 
our corporation of Comum; afterwards, instead of a fourth part, 
he bequeathed four hundred thousand sesterces.' This bequest, in 
the eye of the law, is null and void, but, considered as the dear 
and express will of the deceased, ought to stand firm and valid. 
Myself, I consider the will of the dead (though I am afraid what 
I say will not please the lawyers) of higher authority than the law, 
especially when the interest of one's native country is concerned. 
Ought I, who made them a present of eleven hundred thousand 
sesterces out of my own patrimony, to withhold a benefaction of 
little more than a third part of that sum out of an estate which has 
come quite by a chance into my hands? You, who like a true 
patriot have the same affection for this our common country, will 
agree with me in opinion, I feel sure. I wish therefore you would, 
at the next meeting of the Decurii, acquaint them, just briefly and 
respectfully, as to how the law stands in this case, and then add 
that I offer them four hundred thousand sesterces according to the 
direction in Saturninus' will. You will represent this donation as 
his present and his liberality; I only claim the merit of complying 
with his request. I did not trouble to write to their senate about 

* "This is said in allusion to the idea of Nemesis supposed to threaten excessive 
prosperity." Church and Brodribb. 'About $16,000. 


this, fully relying as I do upon our intimate friendship and your 
wise discretion, and being quite satisfied that you are both able 
and willing to act for me upon this occasion as I would for myself; 
besides, I was afraid I should not seem to have so cautiously guarded 
my expressions in a letter as you will be able to do in a speech. 
The countenance, the gesture, and even the tone of voice govern 
and determine the sense of the speaker, whereas a letter, being with- 
out these advantages, is more liable to malignant misinterpretation. 


To Marcellinus 

I WRITE this to you in the deepest sorrow: the youngest daughter 
of my friend Fundanus is dead! I have never seen a more cheerful 
and more lovable girl, or one who better deserved to have enjoyed 
a long, I had almost said an immortal, life! She was scarcely four- 
teen, and yet there was in her a wisdom far beyond her years, a 
matronly gravity united with girlish sweetness and virgin bashful- 
ness. With what an endearing fondness did she hang on her father's 
neck! How affectionately and modestly she used to greet us, his 
friends! With what a tender and deferential regard she used to 
treat her nurses, tutors, teachers, each in their respective offices! 
What an eager, industrious, intelligent reader she was! She took 
few amusements, and those with caution. How self-controlled, how 
patient, how brave she was under her last illness! She complied 
with all the directions of her physicians; she spoke cheerful, com- 
forting words to her sister and her father; and when all her bodily 
strength was exhausted, the vigour of her mind sustained her. That 
indeed continued even to her last moments, unbroken by the pain 
of a long illness, or the terrors of approaching death; and it is a 
reflection which makes us miss her, and grieve that she has gone 
from us, the more. Oh, melancholy, untimely loss, too truly! She 
was engaged to an excellent young man; the wedding-day was 
fixed, and we were all invited. How our joy has been turned into 
sorrow! I cannot express in words the inward pain I felt when I 
heard Fundanus himself (as grief is ever finding out fresh circiun- 

274 PLINY 

Stances to aggravate its affliction) ordering the money he had in- 
tended laying out upon clothes, pearls, and jewels for her marriage, 
to be employed in frankincense, ointments, and perfumes for her 
funeral. He is a man of great learning and good sense, who has 
applied himself from his earliest youth to the deeper studies and 
the fine arts, but all the maxims of fortitude which he has received 
from books, or advanced himself, he now absolutely rejects, and 
every other virtue of his heart gives place to all a parent's tenderness. 
You will excuse, you will even approve, his grief, when you con- 
sider what he has lost. He has lost a daughter who resembled him 
in his manners, as well as his person, and exactly copied out all 
her father. So, if you should think proper to write to him upon 
the subject of so reasonable a grief, let me remind you not to use 
the rougher arguments of consolation, and such as seem to carry 
a sort of reproof with them, but those of kind and sympathizing 
humanity. Time will render him more open to the dictates of reason : 
for as a fresh wound shrinks back from the hand of the surgeon, 
but by degrees submits to, and even seeks of its own accord, the 
means of its cure, so a mind under the first impression of a mis- 
fortune shuns and rejects all consolations, but at length desires and 
is lulled by their gentle application. Farewell. 


To Spurinna 

Knowing, as I do, how much you admire the polite arts, and 
what satisfaction you take in seeing young men of quality pursue 
the steps of their ancestors, I seize this earliest opportunity of in- 
forming you that I went to-day to hear Calpurnius Piso read a 
beautiful and scholarly production of his, entitled the Sports of 
Love. His numbers, which were elegiac, were tender, sweet, and 
flowing, at the same time that they occasionally rose to all the sub- 
limity of diction which the nature of his subject required. He 
varied his style from the lofty to the simple, from the close to the 
copious, from the grave to the florid, with equal genius and judg- 
ment. These beauties were further recommended by a most har- 
monious voice; which a very becoming modesty rendered still more 


pleasing. A confusion and concern in the countenance of a speaker 
imparts a grace to all he utters; for diffidence, I know not how, is 
infinitely more engaging than assurance and self-sufficiency. I might 
mention several other circumstances to his advantage, which I am 
the more inclined to point out, as they are exceedingly striking in 
one of his age, and are most uncommon in a youth of his quality: 
but not to enter into a farther detail of his merit, I will only add 
that, when he had finished his poem, I embraced him very heartily, 
and being persuaded that nothing is a greater encouragement than 
applause, 1 exhorted him to go on as he had begun, and to shine 
out to posterity with the same glorious lustre, which was reflected 
upon him from his ancestors. I congratulated his excellent mother, 
and particularly his brother, who gained as much honour by the 
generous affection he manifested upon this occasion as Calpurnius 
did by his eloquence; so remarkable a solicitude he showed for 
him when he began to recite his poem, and so much pleasure in 
his success. May the gods grant me frequent occasions of giving 
you accounts of this nature! for I have a partiality to the age in 
which I live, and should rejoice to find it not barren of merit. I 
ardendy wish, therefore, our young men of quality would have some- 
thing else to shew of honourable memorial in their houses than the 
images' of their ancestors. As for those which are placed in the 
mansion of these excellent youths, I now figure them to myself as 
silently applauding and encouraging their pursuits, and (what is a 
sufficient degree of honour to both brothers) as recognizing their 
kindred. Farewell. 


To Paih-inus 

As I know the humanity with which you treat your own servants, 

I have less reserve in confessing to you the indulgence I shew to 

mine. I have ever in my mind that line of Homer's — 

"Who swayed his people with a father's love": 

' None had the right of using family pictures or statues but those whose ancestors 
or themselves had borne some of the highest dignities. So that the jut imaginit was 
much the same thing among the Romans as the right of bearing a coat of arms 
among us. Ken. Antiq. M. 

276 PLINY 

and this expression of ours, "father of a family." But were I harsher 
and harder than I really am by nature, the ill state of health of my 
freedman Zosimus (who has the stronger claim upon my tenderness, 
in that he now stands in more especial need of it) would be sufficient 
to soften me. He is a good, honest fellow, attentive in lus services, 
and well-read; but his chief talent, and indeed his distinguishing 
qualification, is that of a comedian, in which he highly excels. His 
pronunciation is distinct, correct in emphasis, pure, and graceful: he 
has a very skilled touch, too, upon the lyre, and performs with better 
execution than is necessary for one of his profession. To this I 
must add, he reads history, oratory, and poetry, as well as if these 
had been the sole objects of his study. 1 am the more particular 
in enumerating his qualifications, to let you see how many agreeable 
services I receive from this one servant alone. He is indeed endeared 
to me by the ties of a long affection, which are strengthened by the 
danger he is now in. For nature has so formed our hearts that 
nothing contributes more to incite and kindle affection than the 
fear of losing the object of it: a fear which I have suffered more 
than once on his account. Some years ago he strained himself so 
much by too strong an exertion of his voice, that he spit blood, 
upon which account I sent him into Egypt;' from whence, after a 
long absence, he lately returned with great benefit to his health. 
But having again exerted himself for several days together beyond 
his strength, he was reminded of his former malady by a slight 
return of his cough, and a spitting of blood. For this reason I intend 
to send him to your farm at Forum-Julii,' having frequently heard 
you mention it as a healthy air, and recommend the milk of that 
place as very salutary in disorders of his nature. I beg you would 
give directions to your people to receive him into your house, and 
to supply him with whatever he may have occasion for: which will 
not be much, for he is so sparing and abstemious as not only to 
abstain from delicacies, but even to deny himself the necessaries 
his ill state of health requires. I shall furnish him towards his journey 
with what will be sufficient for one of his moderate requirements, 
who is coming under your roof. Farewell. 

' The Roman physicians used to send their patients in consumptive cases into 
Ejtypt, particularly to Alexandria. M. 

* Fr^jus, in Provence, the southern part of France. M. 



To RuFus 

I WENT into the Julian' court to hear those lawyers to whom, 
according to the last adjournment, I was to reply. The judges had 
taken their seats, the decemviri' were arrived, the eyes of the audience 
were fixed upon the counsel, and all was hushed silence and expecta- 
tion, when a messenger arrived from the prartor, and the Hundred 
are at once dismissed, and the case postponed: an accident extremely 
agreeable to me, who am never so well prepared but that I am 
glad of gaining further time. The occasion of the court's rising 
thus abruptly was a short edict of Nepos, the praetor for criminal 
causes, in which he directed all persons concerned as plaintiflfs or 
defendants in any cause before him to take notice that he designed 
strictly to put in force the decree of the senate annexed to his edict. 
Which decree was expressed in the following words: all persons 


THEIR CAUSE. In these terms, and many others equally full and ex- 
press, the lawyers were prohibited to make their professions venal. 
However, after the case is decided, they are permitted to accept a 
gratuity of ten thousand sesterces.' The pnrtor for civil causes, 
being alarmed at this order of Nepos, gave us this unexpected holiday 
in order to take time to consider whether he should follow the 
example. Meanwhile the whole town is talking, and either approv- 
ing or condemning this edict of Nepos. We have got then at last 
(say the latter with a sneer) a redresser of abuses. But, pray, was 
there never a prcetor before this man? Who is he then who sets up 
in this way for a public reformer? Others, on the contrary, say, 
"He has done perfectly right upon his entry into office; he has paid 

' A court of justice erected by Julius Osar in the forum, and opposite to the 
basilica il^milia. 

'The decemviri seem to have been maf^strates for the administration of justice, 
subordinate to the prztors, who (to fpve the English reader a general notion of their 
office) may be termed lords chief justices, as the judges here mentioned were some- 
thing in the nature of our juries. M. ' About $400. 

278 PLINY 

obedience to the laws; considered the decrees of the senate, repressed 
most indecent contracts, and will not suffer the most honourable of 
all professions to be debased into a sordid lucre traffic." This is 
what one hears all around one; but which side may prevail, the 
event will shew. It is the usual method of the world (though a 
very unequitable rule of estimation) to pronounce an action either 
right or wrong, according as it is attended with good or ill success; 
in consequence of which you may hear the very same conduct at- 
tributed to zeal or folly, to liberty or licentiousness, upon different 
several occasions. Farewell. 

To Arrianus 

Sometimes I miss Regulus in our courts. I cannot say I deplore 
his loss. The man, it must be owned, highly respected his profession, 
grew pale with study and anxiety over it, and used to write out his 
speeches though he could not get them by heart. There was a practice 
he had of painting round his right or left eye,' and wearing a white 
patch' over one side or the other of his forehead, according as he was 
to plead either for the plaintiff or defendant; of consulting the 
soothsayers upon the issue of an action; still, all this excessive super- 
stition was really due to his extreme earnestness in his profession. 
And it was acceptable enough being concerned in the same cause 
with him, as he always obtained full indulgence in point of time, 
and never failed to get an audience together; for what could be 
more convenient than, under the protection of a liberty which you 
did not ask yourself, and all the odium of the arrangement resting 
with another, and before an audience which you had not the trouble 
of collecting, to speak on at your ease, and as long as you thought 

'This silly piece of superstition seems to have been peculiar to Regulus, and not 
of any general practice; at least it is a custom of which we find no other mention 
in antiquity. M. 

* "We Rather from Martial that the wearinft of these was not an unusual practice 
with fnps and dandies. Sec Epig' ii. 2g, in which he ridicules a certain Rufus, and 
hints that if you were to strip off the 'splenia' " (plasters) "from his face, you would 
find out that he was a branded runaway slave." Church and Brodribb. 


proper? Nevertheless Reguius did well in departing this life, 
though he would have done much better had he made his exit 
sooner. He might really have lived now without any danger to 
the public, in the reign of a prince under whom he would have had 
no opportunity of doing any harm. I need not scruple therefore, I 
think, to say I sometimes miss him: for since his death the custom 
has prevailed of not allowing, nor indeed of asking, more than an 
hour or two to plead in, and sometimes not above half that time. 
The truth is, our advocates take more pleasure in finishing a cause 
than in defending it; and our judges had rather rise from the bench 
than sit upon it: such is their indolence, and such their indifference 
to the honour of eloquence and the interest of justice! But are we 
wiser than our ancestors? are we more equitable than the laws 
which grant so many hours and days and adjournments to a case? 
were our forefathers slow of apprehension, and dull beyond measure? 
and are we clearer of speech, quicker in our conceptions, or more 
scrupulous in our decisions, because we get over our causes in fewer 
hours than they took days? O Reguius! it was by zeal in your 
profession that you secured an advantage which is but rarely given 
to the highest integrity. As for myself, whenever I sit upon the 
bench (which is much oftener than I appear at the bar), I always 
give the advocates as much time as they require: for I look upon 
it as highly presuming to pretend to guess, before a case is heard, 
what time it will require, and to set limits to an affair before one 
is acquainted with its extent; especially as the first and most sacred 
duty of a judge is patience, which constitutes an important part of 
justice. But this, it is objected, would give an opening to much 
superfluous matter: I grant it may; yet is it not better to hear too 
much than not to hear enough? Besides, how shall you know that 
what an advocate has farther to offer will be superfluous, until you 
have heard him? But this, and many other public abuses, will be 
best reserved for a conversation when we meet; for I know your 
affection to the commonwealth inclines you to wish that some means 
might be found out to check at least those grievances, which would 
now be very difficult absolutely to remove. But to return to affairs 
of private concern: I hope all goes well in your family; mine remains 

28o PLINY 

in its usual situation. The gcx)d which I enjoy grows more acceptable 
to me by its continuance; as habit renders me less sensible of the 
evils I suffer. Farewell. 


To Calpurnia' 

Never was business more disagreeable to me than when it pre- 
vented me not only from accompanying you when you went into 
Campania for your health, but from following you there soon after; 
for I want particularly to be with you now, that I may learn from 
my own eyes whether you are growing stronger and stouter, and 
whether the tranquillity, the amusements, and plenty of that charm- 
ing country really agree with you. Were you in perfect health, yet 
I could ill support your absence; for even a moment's uncertainty 
of the welfare of those we tenderly love causes a feeling of suspense 
and anxiety: but now your sickness conspires with your absence to 
trouble me grievously with vague and various anxieties. I dread 
everything, fancy everything, and, as is natural to those who fear, 
conjure up the very things I most dread. Let me the more earnestly 
entreat you then to think of my anxiety, and write to me every day, 
and even twice a day: I shall be more easy, at least while I am 
reading your letters, though when I have read them, I shall imme- 
diately feel my fears again. Farewell. 


To Calpurnia 

You kindly tell me my absence very sensibly affects you, and that 
your only consolation is in conversing with my works, which you 
frequently substitute in my stead. I am glad that you miss me; 
I am glad that you find some rest in these alleviations. In return, 
I read over your letters again and again, and am continually taking 
them up, as if I had just received them; but, alas! this only stirs in 
me a keener longing for you; for how sweet must her conversation 
be whose letters have so many charms! Let me receive them, how- 

' His wife. 


ever, as often as possible, notwithstanding there is still a mixture 
of pain in the pleasure they afford me. Farewell. 


To Priscus 

You know Attilius Crescens, and you love him; who is there, 
indeed, of any rank or worth, that does not? For myself, I pro- 
fess to have a friendship for him far exceeding ordinary attachments 
of the world. Our native towns are separated only by a day's 
journey; and we got to care for each other when we were very 
young; the season for passionate friendships. Ours improved by 
years; and so far from being chilled, it was confirmed by our riper 
judgments, as those who know us best can witness. He takes pleasure 
in boasting everywhere of my friendship; as I do to let the world 
know that his reputation, his ease, and his interest are my peculiar 
concern. Insomuch that upon his expressing to me some apprehen- 
sion of insolent treatment from a certain person who was entering 
upon the tribuneship of the people, I could not forbear answering, 

"Long as Achilles breathes this vital air, 
To touch thy head no impious hand shall dare."' 

What is my object in telling you these things? Why, to shew you 
that I look upon every injury offered to Attilius as done to myself. 
"But what is the object of all this?" you repeat. You must know then, 
Valerius Varus, at his death, owed Attilius a sum of money. Though 
I am on friendly terms with Maximus, his heir, yet there is a closer 
friendship between him and you. I beg therefore, and entreat you 
by the affeaion you have for me, to take care that Attilius is not 
only paid the capital which is due to him, but all the long arrears of 
interest too. He neither covets the property of others nor neglects 
the care of his own; and as he is not engaged in any lucrative pro- 
fession, he has nothing to depend upon but his own frugality: for 
as to literature, in which he greatly distinguishes himself, he pursues 
this merely from motives of pleasure and ambition. In such a situa- 
tion, the slightest loss presses hard upon a man, and the more so 

" Horn. II. lib. i.. V. 88. 

282 PLINY 

because he has no opportunities of repairing any injury done to his 
fortune. Remove then, I entreat you, our uneasiness, and suffer me 
still to enjoy the pleasure of his wit and bonhommie; for I cannot 
bear to see the cheerfulness of my friend overclouded, whose mirth 
and good humour dissipates every gloom of melancholy in myself. 
In short, you know what a pleasant, entertaining fellow he is, and 
I hope you will not suffer any injury to engloom and embitter his 
disposition. You may judge by the warmth of his affection how 
severe his resentments would prove; for a generous and great mind 
can ill brook an injury when coupled with contempt. But though 
he could pass it over, yet cannot I: on the contrary, I shall regard 
it as a wrong and indignity done to myself, and resent it as one 
oflered to my friend; that is, with double warmth. But, after all, 
why this air of threatening? rather let me end in the same style 
in which I began, namely, by begging, entreating you so to act in 
this affair that neither Attilius may have reason to imagine (which 
I am exceedingly anxious he should not) that I neglect his interest, 
nor that I may have occasion to charge you with carelessness of mine: 
as undoubtedly I shall not if you have the same regard for the latter 
as I have for the former. Farewell. 


To Albinus 

I WAS lately at Alsium,' where my mother-in-law has a villa which 
once belonged to Verginius Rufus. The place renewed in my mind 
the sorrowful remembrance of that great and excellent man. He 
was extremely fond of this retirement, and used to call it the nest of 
his old age. Whichever way I looked, I missed him, I felt his absence. 
I had an inclination to visit his monument; but I repented having 
seen it, afterwards: for I found it still unfinished, and this, not from 
any difficulty residing in the work itself, for it is very plain, or rather 
indeed slight; but through the neglect of him to whose care it was 
entrusted. I could not see without a concern, mixed with indignation, 
the remains of a man, whose fame filled the whole world, lie for ten 
years after his death without an inscription, or a name. He had, 
' Now Alzia, not far from Como. 


however, directed that the divine and immortal action of his hfe 
should be recorded upon his tomb in the following lines: 

"Here Rufus lies, who Vindex' arms withstood, 
Not for himself, but for his country's good." 

But faithful friends are so rare, and the dead so soon forgotten, that 
we shall be obliged ourselves to build even our very tombs, and 
anticipate the office of our heirs. For who is there that has no reason 
to fear for himself what we see has happened to Verginius, whose 
eminence and distinction, while rendering such treatment more 
shameful, so, in the same way, make it more notorious? Farewell. 


To Maximus 

Oh, what a happy day I lately spent! I was called by the prefect 
of Rome, to assist him in a certain case, and had the pleasure of 
hearing two excellent young men, Fuscus Salinator and Numidius 
Quadratus, plead on the opposite sides: their worth is equal, and each 
of them will one day, I am persuaded, prove an ornament not only 
to the present age, but to literature itself. They evinced upon this 
occasion an admirable probity, supported by inflexible courage: their 
dress was decent, their elocution distinct, their tones were manly, 
their memory retentive, their genius elevated, and guided by an 
equal solidity of judgment. I took infinite pleasure in observing them 
display these noble qualities; particularly as I had the satisfaction to 
see that, while they looked upon me as their guide and model, they 
appeared to the audience as my imitators and rivals. It was a day 
(I cannot but repeat it again) which afforded me the most exquisite 
happiness, and which I shall ever distinguish with the fairest mark. 
For what indeed could be either more pleasing to me on the public 
account than to observe two such noble youths building their fame 
and glory upon the pohte arts; or more desirable upon my own than 
to be marked out as a worthy example to them in their pursuits of 
virtue? May the gods still grant me the continuance of that pleasure! 
And I implore the same gods, you are my witness, to make all these 
who think me deserving of imitation far better than I am. Farewell. 

284 PLINY 



You were not present at a very singular occurrence here lately: 
neither was I, but the story reached me just after it had happened. 
Passienus Paulus, a Roman knight, of good family, and a man of 
peculiar learning and culture besides, composes elegies, a talent 
which runs in the family, for Propertius is reckoned by him amongst 
his ancestors, as well as being his countryman. He was lately reciting 
a poem which began thus: 

"Priscus, at thy command" — 

whereupon Javolenus Priscus, who happened to be present as a 
particular friend of the poet's, cried out, "But he is mistaken, I did not 
command him." Think what laughter and merriment this occa- 
sioned. Priscus's wits, you must know, are reckoned rather unsound,' 
though he takes a share in public business, is summoned to consulta- 
tions, and even publicly acts as a lawyer, so that this behaviour of his 
was the more remarkable and ridiculous: meanwhile Paulus was a 
good deal disconcerted by his friend's absurdity. You see how neces- 
sary it is for those who are anxious to recite their works in public 
to take care that the audience as well as the author are perfectly sane. 


To Tacitus 

Your request that I would send you an account of my uncle's 
death, in order to transmit a more exact relation of it to posterity, 
deserves my acknowledgments; for, if this accident shall be cele- 
brated by your pen, the glory of it, I am well assured, will be 
rendered for ever illustrious. And notwithstanding he perished by 
a misfortune, which, as it involved at the same time a most beautiful 
country in ruins, and destroyed so many populous cities, seems to 
promise him an everlasting remembrance; notwithstanding he has 

' Nevertheless, Javolenus Priscus was one of the most eminent lawyers of his 
time, and is frequently quoted in the Digesta of Justinian. 


himself composed many and lasting works; yet I am persuaded, the 
mentioning of him in your immortal writings, will greatly contribute 
to render his name immortal. Happy I esteem those to be to whom 
by provision of the gods has been granted the ability either to do such 
actions as are worthy of being related or to relate them in a manner 
worthy of being read; but peculiarly happy are they who are blessed 
with both these uncommon talents: in the number of which my 
uncle, as his own writings and your history will evidently prove, may 
justly be ranked. It is with extreme willingness, therefore, that I 
execute your commands; and should indeed have claimed the task if 
you had not enjoined it. He was at that time with the fleet under his 
command at Misenum.' On the 24th of August, about one in the 
afternoon, my mother desired him to observe a cloud which appeared 
of a very unusual size and shape. He had just taken a turn in the 
sun,' and, after bathing himself in cold water, and making a light 
luncheon, gone back to his books: he immediately arose and went out 
upon a rising ground from whence he might get a better sight of this 
very uncommon appearance. A cloud, from which mountain was 
uncertain, at this distance (but it was found afterwards to come from 
Mount Vesuvius), was ascending, the appearance of which I cannot 
give you a more exact description of than by likening it to that of a 
pine-tree, for it shot up to a great height in the form of a very tall 
trunk, which spread itself out at the top into a sort of branches; 
occasioned, I imagine, either by a sudden gust of air that impelled it, 
the force of which decreased as it advanced upwards, or the cloud 
itself, being pressed back again by its own weight, expanded in the 
manner I have mentioned; it appeared sometimes bright and some- 
times dark and spotted, according as it was either more or less im- 
pregnated with earth and cinders. This phenomenon seemed to a 
man of such learning and research as my uncle extraordinary and 
worth further looking into. He ordered a light vessel to be got 

' In the Bay of Naples. 

'The Romans used to lie or walk naked in the sun, after anointing their bodies 
with oil, which was esteemed as greatly contributing to health, and therefore daily 
practised by them. This custom, however, of anointing themselves, is inveighed 
against by the satirists as in the number of their luxurious indulgences: but since we 
find the elder Pliny here, and the amiable Spurinna in a former letter, practising 
this method, we cannot suppose the thing itself was esteemed unmanly, but only 
when it was attended with some particular circumstances of an overreiined deli- 
cacy. M. 

286 PLINY 

ready, and gave me leave, if I liked, to accompany him. I said I 
had rather go on with my work; and it so happened, he had himself 
given me something to write out. As he was coming out of the house, 
he received a note from Rectina, the wife of Bassus, who was in the 
utmost alarm at the imminent danger which threatened her; for 
her villa lying at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, there was no way of 
escape but by sea; she earnestly entreated him therefore to come 
to her assistance. He accordingly changed his first intention, and 
what he had begun from a philosophical, he now carries out in a 
noble and generous spirit. He ordered the galleys to be put to sea, 
and went himself on board with an intention of assisting not only 
Rectina, but the several other towns which lay thickly strewn along 
that beautiful coast. Hastening then to the place from whence others 
fled with the utmost terror, he steered his course direct to the point 
of danger, and with so much calmness and presence of mind as to 
be able to make and dictate his observations upon the motion and all 
the phenomena of that dreadful scene. He was now so close to the 
mountain that the cinders, which grew thicker and hotter the nearer 
he approached, fell into the ships, together with pumice-stones, and 
black pieces of burning rock: they were in danger too not only of 
being aground by the sudden retreat of the sea, but also from the 
vast fragments which rolled down from the mountain, and ob- 
structed all the shore. Here he stopped to consider whether he should 
turn back again; to which the pilot advising him, "Fortune," said 
he, "favours the brave; steer to where Pomponianus is." Pom- 
ponianus was then at Stabijc,' separated by a bay, which the sea, after 
several insensible windings, forms with the shore. He had already 
sent his baggage on board; for though he was not at that time in 
actual danger, yet being within sight of it, and indeed extremely 
near, if it should in the least increase, he was determined to put to 
sea as soon as the wind, which was blowing dead inshore, should go 
down. It was favourable, however, for carrying my uncle to Pom- 
ponianus, whom he found in the greatest consternation: he embraced 
him tenderly, encouraging and urging him to keep up his spirits, 
and, the more effectually to soothe his fears by seeming unconcerned 
himself, ordered a bath to be got ready, and then, after having 
' Now called Castelamare, in the Bay of Naples. M, 


bathed, sat down to supper with great cheerfulness, or at least (what 
is just as heroic) with every apf)earance of it. Meanwhile broad 
flames shone out in several places from Mount Vesuvius, which the 
darkness of the night contributed to render still brighter and clearer. 
But my uncle, in order to soothe the apprehensions of his friend, 
assured him it was only the burning of the villages, which the 
country people had abandoned to the flames: after this he retired to 
rest, and it is most certain he was so little disquieted as to fall into 
a sound sleep: for his breathing, which, on account of his corpulence, 
was rather heavy and sonorous, was heard by the attendants outside. 
The court which led to his apartment being now almost filled with 
stones and ashes, if he had continued there any time longer, it 
would have been impossible for him to have made his way out. So 
he was awoke and got up, and went to Pomponianus and the rest 
of his company, who were feeling too anxious to think of going to 
bed. They consulted together whether it would be most prudent to 
trust to the houses, which now rocked from side to side with frequent 
and violent concussions as though shaken from their very founda- 
tions; or fly to the open fields, where the calcined stones and cinders, 
though light indeed, yet fell in large showers, and threatened destruc- 
tion. In this choice of dangers they resolved for the fields: a resolu- 
tion which, while the rest of the company were hurried into by their 
fears, my uncle embraced upon cool and deliberate consideration. 
They went out then, having pillows tied ujxjn their heads with 
napkins; and this was their whole defence against the storm of 
stones that fell round them. It was now day everywhere else, but 
there a deeper darkness prevailed than in the thickest night; which, 
however, was in some degree alleviated by torches and other lights 
of various kinds. They thought prop)er to go farther down upon the 
shore to see if they might safely put out to sea, but found the waves 
still running extremely high, and boisterous. There my uncle, laying 
himself down upxin a sail-cloth, which was spread for him, called 
twice for some cold water, which he drank, when immediately the 
flames, preceded by a strong whiff of sulphur, dispersed the rest of 
the party, and obliged him to rise. He raised himself up with the 
assistance of two of his servants, and instantly fell down dead; 
suffocated, as I conjecture, by some gross and noxious vapour, having 

288 PLINY 

always had a weak throat, which was often inflamed. As soon as it 
was Hght again, which was not till the third day after this melancholy 
accident, his body was found entire, and without any marks of 
violence upon it, in the dress in which he fell, and looking more 
like a man asleep than dead. During all this time my mother and I, 
who were at Misenum — but this has no connection with your history, 
and you did not desire any particulars besides those of my uncle's 
death; so I will end here, only adding that I have faithfully related 
to you what I was either an eye-witness of myself or received imme- 
diately after the accident happened, and before there was time to 
vary the truth. You will pick out of this narrative whatever is most 
important: for a letter is one thing, a history another; it is one thing 
writing to a friend, another thing writing to the public. Farewell. 

To Cornelius Txcrrus 

The letter which, in compliance with your request, I wrote to you 
concerning the death of my uncle has raised, it seems, your curiosity 
to know what terrors and dangers attended me while I continued at 
Misenum; for there, I think, my account broke off: 

"Though my shock 'd soul recoils, my tongue shall tell." 

My uncle having left us, I spent such time as was left on my studies 
(it was on their account indeed that I had stopped behind), till it 
was time for my bath. After which I went to supper, and then fell 
into a short and uneasy sleep. There had been noticed for many days 
before a trembling of the earth, which did not alarm us much, as this 
is quite an ordinary occurrence in Campania; but it was so particu- 
larly violent that night that it not only shook but actually overturned, 
as it would seem, everything about us. My mother rushed into my 
chamber, where she found me rising, in order to awaken her. We 
sat down in the open court of the house, which occupied a small 
space between the buildings and the sea. As I was at that time but 
eighteen years of age, I know not whether I should call my behaviour, 
in this dangerous juncture, courage or folly; but I took up Livy, 
and amused myself with turning over that author, and even making 


extracts from him, as if I had been perfectly at my leisure. Just then, 
a friend of my uncle's, who had lately come to him from Spain, 
joined us, and observing me sitting by my mother with a book in my 
hand, reproved her for her calmness, and me at the same time for my 
careless security: nevertheless I went on with my author. Though it 
was now morning, the light was still exceedingly faint and doubtful; 
the buildings all around us tottered, and though we stood ujX)n 
of)en ground, yet as the place was narrow and confined, there was no 
remaining without imminent danger: we therefore resolved to quit 
the town. A panic-stricken crowd followed us, and (as to a mind 
distracted with terror every suggestion seems more prudent than its 
own) pressed on us in dense array to drive us forward as we came 
out. Being at a convenient distance from the houses, we stood still, 
in the midst of a most dangerous and dreadful scene. The chariots, 
which we had ordered to be drawn out, were so agitated backwards 
and forwards, though upon the most level ground, that we could 
not keep them steady, even by supporting them with large stones. 
The sea seemed to roll back upon itself, and to be driven from its 
banks by the convulsive motion of the earth; it is certain at least the 
shore was considerably enlarged, and several sea animals were left 
upon it. On the other side, a black and dreadful cloud, broken with 
rapid, zigzag flashes, revealed behind it variously shaped masses of 
flame: these last were like sheet-lightning, but much larger. Upon 
this our Spanish friend, whom I mentioned above, addressing himself 
to my mother and me with great energy and urgency: "If your 
brother," he said, "if your uncle be safe, he certainly wishes you may 
be so too; but if he perished, it was his desire, no doubt, that you 
might both survive him: why therefore do you delay your escape a 
moment?" We could never think of our own safety, we said, while 
we were uncertain of his. Upon this our friend left us, and withdrew 
from the danger with the utmost precipitation. Soon afterwards, 
the cloud began to descend, and cover the sea. It had already sur- 
rounded and concealed the island of Capreac and the promontory of 
Misenum. My mother now besought, urged, even commanded me 
to make my escape at any rate, which, as I was young, I might easily 
do; as for herself, she said, her age and corpulency rendered all 
attempts of that sort impossible; however, she would willingly meet 

290 PLINY 

death if she could have the satisfaction of seeing that she was not 
the occasion of mine. But I absolutely refused to leave her, and, 
taking her by the hand, compelled her to go with me. She complied 
with great reluctance, and not without many reproaches to herself 
for retarding my flight. The ashes now began to fall upon us, though 
in no great quantity. I looked back; a dense, dark mist seemed to be 
following us, spreading itself over the country like a cloud. "Let us 
turn out of the highroad," I said, "while we can still see, for fear that, 
should we fall in the road, we should be pressed to death in the 
dark, by the crowds that are following us." We had scarcely sat 
down when night came upon us, not such as we have when the sky 
is cloudy, or when there is no moon, but that of a room when it is 
shut up, and all the Ughts put out. You might hear the shrieks of 
women, the screams of children, and the shouts of men; some calling 
for their children, others for their parents, others for their husbands, 
and seeking to recognize each other by the voices that replied; one 
lamenting his own fate, another that of his family ; some wishing to 
die, from the very fear of dying; some lifting their hands to the gods; 
but the greater part convinced that there were now no gods at all, 
and that the final endless night of which we have heard had come 
upon the world.' Among these there were some who augmented the 
real terrors by others imaginary or wilfully invented. I remember 
some who declared that one part of Misenum had fallen, that another 
was on fire; it was false, but they found people to believe them. It 
now grew rather lighter, which we imagined to be rather the fore- 
runner of an approaching burst of flames (as in truth it was) than 
the return of day: however, the fire fell at a distance from us: then 
again we were immersed in thick darkness, and a heavy shower of 
ashes rained up)on us, which we were obliged every now and then to 
stand up to shake off, otherwise we should have been crushed and 
buried in the heap. I might boast that, during all this scene of horror, 
not a sigh, or expression of fear, escaped me, had not my support been 
grounded in that miserable, though mighty, consolation, that all 
mankind were involved in the same calamity, and that I was perish- 
ing with the world itself. At last this dreadful darkness was dis- 

' The Stoic and Epicurean philosophers held that the world was to be destroyed 
by fire, and all things fall again into ori^iinal chaos; not excepting even the national 
gods themselves from the destruction of this general conflagration. M. 


sipated by degrees, like a cloud or smoke; the real day returned, and 
even the sun shone out, though with a lurid light, as when an 
eclipse is coming on. Every object that presented itself to our eyes 
(which were extremely weakened) seemed changed, being covered 
deep with ashes as if with snow. We returned to Misenum, where we 
refreshed ourselves as well as we could, and passed an anxious night 
between hope and fear; though, indeed, with a much larger share 
of the latter: for the earthquake still continued, while many frenzied 
persons ran up and down heightening their own and their friends' 
calamities by terrible predictions. However, my mother and I, not- 
withstanding the danger we had passed, and that which still threat- 
ened us, had no thoughts of leaving the place, till we could receive 
some news of my uncle. 

And now, you will read this narrative without any view of 
inserting it in your history, of which it is not in the least worthy; 
and, indeed, you must put it down to your own request if it should 
appear not worth even the trouble of a letter. Farewell. 


To Macer 

How much does the fame of human actions depend upon the 
station of those who perform them! The very same conduct shall be 
either applauded to the skies or entirely overlooked, just as it may 
happen to proceed from a person of conspicuous or obscure rank. I 
was sailing lately upon our lake,' with an old man of my acquaint- 
ance, who desired me to observe a villa situated upon its banks, which 
had a chamber overhanging the water. "From that room," said he, 
"a woman of our city threw herself and her husband." Upon enquir- 
ing into the cause, he informed me, "That her husband having been 
long afflicted with an ulcer in those parts which modesty conceals, 
she prevailed with him at last to let her inspect the sore, assuring 
him at the same time that she would most sincerely give her opinion 
whether there was a possibiUty of its being cured. Accordingly, 
upon viewing the ulcer, she found the case hopeless, and therefore 
advised him to put an end to his life: she herself accompanying him, 

' The lake Larius. 

292 PLINY 

even leading the way by her example, and being actually the means 
of his death; for tying herself to her husband, she plunged with him 
into the lake." Though this happened in the very city where I was 
born, I never heard it mentioned before; and yet that this action is 
taken less notice of than that famous one of Arria's, is not because 
it was less remarkable, but because the person who performed it was 
more obscure. Farewell. 


To Servianus 

I AM extremely glad to hear that you intend your daughter for 
Fuscus SaUnator, and congratulate you upon it. His family is 
patrician,' and both his father and mother are persons of the most 
distinguished merit. As for himself, he is studious, learned, and 
eloquent, and, with all the innocence of a child, unites the sprightli- 
ness of youth and the wisdom of age. I am not, believe me, deceived 
by my affection, when I give him this character; for though I love 
him, I confess, beyond measure (as his friendship and esteem for 
me well deserve), yet partiality has no share in my judgment: on the 
contrary, the stronger my affection for him, the more exactingly 
I weigh his merit. I will venture, then, to assure you (and I speak 
it upon my own experience) you could not have, formed to your 
wishes, a more accomplished son-in-law. May he soon present you 
with a grandson, who shall be the exact copy of his father! and with 
what pleasure shall I receive from the arms of two such friends their 
children or grandchildren, whom I shall claim a sort of right to 
embrace as my own! Farewell. 

To Severus 

You desire me to consider what turn you should give to your 
speech in honour of the emperor,' upon your being appointed consul 

' Those families were styled patrician whose ancestors had been members of the 
senate in the earliest times of the regal or consular government. M. 
' Trajan. 


elect.' It is easy to find copies, not so easy to choose out of them; for 
his virtues afford such abundant material. However, I will write and 
give you my opinion, or (what I should prefer) I will let you have 
it in person, after having laid before you the difficulties which occur 
to me. I am doubtful, then, whether I should advise you to pursue 
the method which I observed myself on the same occasion. When I 
was consul elect, I avoided running into the usual strain of compli- 
ment, which, however far from adulation, might yet look like it. 
Not that I affected firmness and independence, but as well knowing 
the sentiments of our amiable prince, and being thoroughly per- 
suaded that the highest praise I could offer to him would be to shew 
the world I was under no necessity of paying him any. When I 
reflected what profusion of honours had been heaped upon the very 
worst of his predecessors, nothing, I imagined, could more distin- 
guish a prince of his real virtues from those infamous emperors than 
to address him in a different manner. And this I thought prof)er to 
observe in my speech, lest it might be suspected I passed over his 
glorious acts, not out of judgment, but inattention. Such was the 
method I then observed; but I am sensible the same measures are 
neither agreeable nor indeed suitable to all alike. Besides, the 
propriety of doing or omitting a thing depends not only upon per- 
sons, but time and circumstances; and as the late actions of our 
illustrious prince afford materials for panegyric, no less just than 
recent and glorious, I doubt (as I said before) whether I should 
persuade you in the present instance to adopt the same plan as I did 
myself. In this, however, I am clear, that it was proper to offer you 
by way of advice the method I pursued. Farewell. 


To Fabatus 

I HAVE the best reason, certainly, for celebrating your birthday as 
my own, since all the happiness of mine arises from yours, to whose 
care and diligence it is owing that I am gay here and at my ease in 

' The consuls, though they were chosen in August, did not enter upon their office 
till the first of January, during which interval they were styled conmlrs drsignati, 
consuls elect. It was usual for them upon that occasion to compliment the emperor, 
by whose appointment, after the dissolution of the republican government, they were 
chosen. M. 

294 PLINY 

town. — Your Camillian villa ' in Campania has suffered by the 
injuries of time, and is falling into decay; however, the most valuable 
parts of the building either remain entire or are but slightly damaged, 
and it shall be my care to see it put into thorough repair. — Though I 
flatter myself I have many friends, yet I have scarcely any of the 
sort you enquire after, and which the affair you mention demands. 
All mine lie among those whose employments engage them in 
town; whereas the conduct of country business requires a person 
of a robust constitution, and bred up to the country, to whom the 
work may not seem hard, nor the office beneath him, and who does 
not feel a solitary life depressing. You think most highly of Rufus, 
for he was a great friend of your son's; but of what use he can be to 
us upon this occasion, I cannot conceive; though I am sure he will 
be glad to do all he can for us. Farewell. 



I RECEIVED lately the most exquisite satisfaction at Centumcellx' 
(as it is now called), being summoned thither by Cscsar* to attend 
a council. Could anything indeed afford a higher pleasure than to 
see the empjeror exercising his justice, his wisdom, and his affability, 
even in retirement, where those virtues are most observable ? Various 
were the points brought in judgment before him, and which proved, 
in so many different instances, the excellence of the judge. The 
cause of Claudius Ariston came on first. He is an Ephesian noble- 
man, of great munificence and unambitious popularity, whose virtues 
have rendered him obnoxious to a set of people of far different 
characters; they had instigated an informer against him, of the same 
infamous stamp with themselves; but he was honourably acquitted. 
The next day, the case of Galitta, accused of adultery, was heard. 
Her husband, who is a military tribune, was upon the point of 
offering himself as a candidate for certain honours at Rome, but she 
had stained her own good name and his by an intrigue with a 
centurion.* The husband informed the consul's lieutenant, who 

' So called, because it formerly belonged to Camillus. W. 

* An officer in the Roman legions, answering in some tort to a captain in our 
companies. M. ' Civita Vecchia. • Trajan. 


wrote to the emperor about it. Cassar, having thoroughly sifted the 
evidence, cashiered the centurion, and sentenced him to banishment. 
It remained that some jjenalty should be inflicted likewise upon the 
other party, as it is a crime of which both must necessarily be equally 
guilty. But the husband's affection for his wife inclined him to 
drop that part of the prosecution, not without some reflections on 
his forbearance; for he continued to live with her even after he had 
commenced this prosecution, content, it would seem, with having 
removed his rival. But he was ordered to proceed in the suit; and, 
though he complied with great reluctance, it was necessary, neverthe- 
less, that she should be condemned. Accordingly, she was sentenced 
to the punishment directed by the Julian law.' The emperor thought 
proper to specify, in his decree, the name and office of the centurion, 
that it might appear he passed it in virtue of military discipline; lest 
it should be imagined he claimed a particular cognizance in every 
cause of the same nature. The third day was employed in examining 
into an affair which had occasioned a good deal of talk and various 
reports; it was concerning the codicils of Julius Tiro, part of which 
was plainly genuine, while the other part, it was alleged, was 
forged. The persons accused of this fraud were Sempronius Senecio, 
a Roman knight, and Eurythmus, Qesar's freedman and procurator.' 
The heirs joindy petitioned the emperor, when he was in Dacia,' 
that he would reserve to himself the trial of this cause; to which 
he consented. On his return from that expedition, he appointed a 
day for the hearing; and when some of the heirs, as though out of 
respect to Eurythmus, offered to withdraw the suit, the emperor 
nobly replied, "He is not Polydetus,' nor am I Nero." However, he 
indulged the petitioners with an adjournment, and the time being 
expired, he now sat to hear the cause. Two of the heirs appeared, 
and desired that either their whole number might be compelled to 
plead, as they had all joined in the information, or that they also 
might have leave to withdraw. Cjesar delivered his opinion with 
great dignity and moderation; and when the counsel on the part of 

^ This law was made bv Au^stus Czsar; but it nowhere clearly appears what was 
the peculiar punishment it inflicted. M. 

•An officer employed by the emperor to receive and regulate the public revenue in 
the provinces. M. 

^ Comprehending Transylvania, Moldavia, and Walachia. At. 

' Polydetus was a freedman, and great favourite of Nero. M. 

296 PLINY 

Senecio and Eurythmus had represented that unless their cHents 
were heard, they would remain under the suspicion of guilt, — "I am 
not concerned," said the emperor, "what suspicions they may lie 
under, it is I that am suspected"; and then turning to us, "Advise 
me," said he, "how to act in this affair, for you see they complain 
when allowed to withdraw their suit." At length, by the advice of 
the counsel, he ordered notice to be given to the heirs that they 
should either proceed with the case or each of them justify their 
reasons for not doing so; otherwise that he would pass sentence 
upon them as calumniators.* Thus you see how usefully and 
seriously we spent our time, which, however, was diversified with 
amusements of the most agreeable kind. We were every day invited 
to CiEsar's table, which, for so great a prince, was spread with much 
plainness and simplicity. There we were either entertained with 
interludes or passed the night in the most pleasing conversation. 
When we took our leave of him the last day, he made each of us 
presents; so studiously polite is Ca;sar! As for myself, I was not only 
charmed with the dignity and wisdom of the judge, the honour done 
to the assessors, the ease and unreserved freedom of our social inter- 
course, but with the exquisite situation of the place itself. This 
delightful villa is surrounded by the greenest meadows, and over- 
looks the shore, which bends inwards, forming a complete harbour. 
The left arm of this port is defended by exceedingly strong works, 
while the right is in process of completion. An artificial island, 
which rises at the mouth of the harbour, breaks the force of the 
waves, and affords a safe passage to ships on either side. This island 
is formed by a process worth seeing: stones of a most enormous 
size are transported hither in a large sort of pontoons and, being 
piled one upon the other, are fixed by their own weight, gradually 
accumulating in the manner, as it were, of a natural mound. It 
already lifts its rocky back above the ocean, while the waves which 
beat upon it, being broken and tossed to an immense height, foam 
with a prodigious noise, and whiten all the surrounding sea. To 

'Metnitiius, or Rhemmius (the critics arc not agreed which), was author of a 
law by which it was enacted that whosoever was convicted of calumny and false 
accusation should be stigmatized with a mark in his forehead; and by the law of the 
twelve tables, false accusers were to suffer the same punishment as would have been 
inflicted upon the person unjusdy accused if the crime had been proved. M. 


these stones are added wooden piers, which in process of time will 
give it the appearance of a natural island. This haven is to be 
called by the name of its great author,'" and will prove of infinite 
benefit, by affording a secure retreat to ships on that extensive and 
dangerous coast. Farewell. 


To Maximus 

You did perfectly right in promising a gladiatorial combat to our 
good friends the citizens of Verona, who have long loved, looked 
up to, and honoured you; while it was from that city too you 
received that amiable object of your most tender affection, your 
late excellent wife. And since you owed some monument or public 
representation to her memory, what other sf)ectacle could you have 
exhibited more appropriate to the occasion? Besides, you were so 
unanimously pressed to do so that to have refused would have 
looked more like hardness than resolution. The readiness too with 
which you granted their petition, and the magnificent manner in 
which you performed it, is very much to your honour; for a great- 
ness of soul is seen in these smaller instances, as well as in matters 
of higher moment. I wish the African panthers, which you had 
largely provided for this purpose, had arrived on the day appointed, 
but though they were delayed by the stormy weather, the obligation 
to you is equally the same, since it was not your fault that they were 
not exhibited. Farewell. 


To Restitutus 

This obstinate illness of yours alarms me; and though I know 
how extremely temperate you are, yet I fear lest your disease should 
get the better of your moderation. Let me entreat you then to resist 
it with a determined abstemiousness: a remedy, be assured, of all 
others the most laudable as well as the most salutary. Human 
nature itself admits the practicability of what I recommend: it is a 

" Trajan. 

298 PLINY 

rule, at least, which I always enjoin my family to observe with 
respect to myself. "I hope," I say to them, "that should I be attacked 
with any disorder, I shall desire nothing of which I ought either to 
be ashamed or have reason to repent; however, if my distemper 
should prevail over my resolution, I forbid that anything be given 
me but by the consent of my physicians; and I shall resent your 
compliance with me in things improper as much as another man 
would their refusal." I once had a most violent fever; when the fit 
was a little abated, and I had been anointed,' my physician offered 
me something to drink; I held out my hand, desiring he would first 
feel my pulse, and upon his not seeming quite satisfied, I instantly 
returned the cup, though it was just at my lips. Afterwards, when 1 
was preparing to go into the bath, twenty days from the first attack 
of my illness, perceiving the physicians whispering together, I 
enquired what they were saying. They replied they were of opinion 
I might possibly bathe with safety; however, that they were not 
without some suspicion of risk. "What need is there," said I, "of my 
taking a bath at all?" And so, with perfect calmness and tranquillity, 
I gave up a pleasure I was upon the point of enjoying, and abstained 
from the bath as serenely and composedly as though I were going 
into it. I mention this, not only by way of enforcing my advice by 
example, but also that this letter may be a sort of tie upon me to 
persevere in the same resolute abstinence for the future. Farewell. 


To Calpurnia * 

You will not believe what a longing for you possesses me. The 
chief cause of this is my love; and then we have not grown used to 
be apart. So it comes to pass that I lie awake a great part of the 
night, thinking of you; and that by day, when the hours return 
at which I was wont to visit you, my feet take me, as it is so truly 
said, to your chamber, but not finding you there, I return, sick and 
sad at heart, like an excluded lover. The only time that is free from 

' Unction was much esteemed and prescribed by the ancients. Celsus expressly 
recommends it in the remission of acute distempers: "ur^V leniterque pertractari corpus, 
etiam in aculit ct rccentibus morbit oportet; in remissionc tamen," bx. Cclsi Med. ed. 
Almelovecn, p. 88. A/. ' His wife. 


these torments is when I am being worn out at the bar, and in the 
suits of my friends. Judge you what must be my hfe when I find 
my repose in toil, my solace in wretchedness and anxiety. Farewell. 

To Macrinus 

A VERY singular and remarkable accident has happened in the 
affair of Varenus, the result of which is yet doubtful. The Bithyni- 
ans, it is said, have dropped their prosecution of him, being con- 
vinced at last that it was rashly undertaken. A deputy from that 
province is arrived, who has brought with him a decree of their 
assembly; copies of which he has delivered to Cxsar,* and to several 
of the leading men in Rome, and also to us, the advocates for 
Varenus. Magnus,' nevertheless, whom 1 mentioned in my last 
letter to you, persists in his charge, to support which he is incessantly 
teasing the worthy Nigrinus. This excellent person was counsel for 
him in his former petition to the consuls, that Varenus might be 
compelled to produce his accounts. Upon this occasion, as I attended 
Varenus merely as a friend, I determined to be silent. I thought it 
highly imprudent for me, as I was appointed his counsel by the 
senate, to attempt to defend him as an accused person, when it was 
his business to insist that there was actually no charge subsisting 
against him. However, when Nigrinus had finished his speech, the 
consuls turning their eyes upon me, I rose up, and "When you 
shall hear," I said, "what the real deputies from the province have to 
object against the motion of Nigrinus, you will see that my silence 
was not without just reason." Upon this Nigrinus asked me, "To 
whom are these deputies sent ?" I replied, "To me among others; I 
have the decree of the province in my hands." He returned, "That 
is a point which, though it may be clear to you, I am not so well 
satisfied of." To this I answered, "Though it may not be so evident 
to you, who are concerned to support the accusation, it mav be 
perfectly clear to me, who am on the more favourable side." Then 
Polya:nus, the deputy from the province, acquainted the senate with 
the reasons for superseding the prosecution, but desired it might be 

'Trajan. 'One of tbc Bithyoiaoi employed to maaa^ tlie trial. M. 

300 PLINY 

without prejudice to Caesar's determination. Magnus answered him; 
Polyjenus replied; as for myself, I only now and then threw in a 
word, observing in general a complete silence. For I have learned 
that upon some occasions it is as much an orator's business to be 
silent as to speak, and I remember, in some criminal cases, to have 
done even more service to my clients by a discreet silence than I 
could have expected from the most carefully prepared speech. To 
enter into the subject of eloquence is indeed very foreign to the 
purpose of my letter, yet allow me to give you one instance in proof 
of my last observation. A certain lady, having lost her son, suspected 
that his freedmen, whom he had appointed coheirs with her, were 
guilty of forging the will and poisoning him. Accordingly she 
charged them with the fact before the emperor, who directed Juli- 
anus Suburanus to try the cause. I was counsel for the defendants, 
and the case being exceedingly remarkable, and the counsel engaged 
on both sides of eminent ability, it drew together a very numerous 
audience. The issue was, the servants being put to the torture, my 
clients were acquitted. But the mother applied a second time to the 
emf)eror, pretending she had discovered some new evidence. Sub- 
uranus was therefore directed to hear the cause, and see if she could 
produce any fresh proofs. Julius Africanus was counsel for the 
mother, a young man of good parts, but slender experience. He is 
grandson to the famous orator of that name, of whom it is reported 
that Passienus Crispus, hearing him one day plead, archly said, "Very 
fine, I must confess, very fine; but is all this fine speaking to the 
purpose?" Julius Africanus, I say, having made a long harangue, 
and exhausted the portion of time allotted to him, said, "I beg you, 
Suburanus, to allow me to add one word more." When he had con- 
cluded, and the eyes of the whole assembly had been fixed a consid- 
erable time upon me, I rose up. "I would have answered Africanus," 
said I, "if he had added that one word he begged leave to do, in 
which I doubt not he would have told us all that we had not heard 
before." I do not remember to have gained so much applause by any 
speech that I ever made as I did in this instance by making none. 
Thus the little that I had hitherto said for Varenus was received 
with the same general approbation. The consuls, agreeably to the 
request of Polyaenus, reserved the whole ailair for the determination 


of the emperor, whose resolution I impatiently wait for; as that will 
decide whether I may be entirely secure and easy with respect to 
Varenus, or must again renew all my trouble and anxiety upon his 
account. Farewell. 


To Tuscus 

You desire my opinion as to the method of study you should 
pursue, in that retirement to which you have long since withdrawn. 
In the first place, then, I look upon it as a very advantageous practice 
(and it is what many recommend) to translate either from Greek 
into Latin or from Latin into Greek. By this means you acquire 
propriety and dignity of expression, and a variety of beautiful figures, 
and an ease and strength of exposition, and in the imitation of the 
best models a facility of creating such models for yourself. Besides, 
those things which you may possibly have overlooked in an ordinary 
reading over cannot escape you in translating: and this method will 
also enlarge your knowledge, and improve your judgment. It may 
not be amiss, after you have read an author, to turn, as it were, to 
his rival, and attempt something of your own upon the same topic, 
and then make a careful comparison between your performance 
and his, in order to see in what points either you or he may be the 
happier. You may congratulate yourself indeed if you shall find in 
some things that you have the advantage of him, while it will be a 
great mortification if he is always superior. You may sometimes 
select very famous passages and compete with what you select. The 
competition is daring enough, but, as it is private, cannot be called 
impudent. Not but that we have seen instances of persons who have 
publicly entered this sort of lists with great credit to themselves, and, 
while they did not despair of overtaking, have gloriously outstripped 
those whom they thought it sufficient honour to follow. A speech 
no longer fresh in your memory, you may take up again. You will 
find plenty in it to leave unaltered, but still more to reject; you will 
add a new thought here, and alter another there. It is a laborious 
and tedious task, I own, thus to re-enflame the mind after the first 
heat is over, to recover an impulse when its force has been checked 

302 PLINY 

and spent, and, worse than all, to put new limbs into a body already 
complete without disturbing the old; but the advantage attending 
this method will overbalance the difficulty. I know the bent of your 
present attention is directed towards the eloquence of the bar; but 
I would not for that reason advise you never to quit the polemic, 
if I may so call it, and contentious style. As land is improved by 
sowing it with various seeds, constantly changed, so is the mind by 
exercising it now with this subject of study, now with that. I would 
recommend you, therefore, sometimes to take a subject from history, 
and you might give more care to the composition of your letters. 
For it frequently happens that in pleading one has occasion to make 
use not only of historical, but even poetical, styles of description; and 
then from letters you acquire a concise and simple mode of expres- 
sion. You will do quite right again in refreshing yourself with 
poetry: when I say so, I do not mean that species of poetry which 
turns upon subjects of great length and continuity {such being suit- 
able only for persons of leisure), but those little pieces of the sprighdy 
kind of poesy, which serve as proper reliefs to, and are consistent 
with, employments of every sort. They commonly go under the 
title of poetical amusements; but these amusements have sometimes 
gained their authors as much reputation as works of a more serious 
nature; and thus (for while I am exhorting you to poetry, why 
should I not turn poet myself?), 

"As yielding wax the artist's skill commands, 
Submissive shap'd beneath his forming hands; 
Now dreadful stands in arms a Mars confest; 
Or now with Venus' softer air imprest; 
A wanton Cupid now the mould belies; 
Now shines, severely chaste, a Pallas wife: 
As not alone to quench the raging flame, 
The sacred fountain pours her friendly stream; 
But sweedy gliding through the flow'ry green. 
Spreads glad refreshment o'er the smiling scene: 
So, form'd by science, should the ductile mind 
Receive, distinct, each various art refin'd." 

In this manner the greatest men, as well as the greatest orators, used 
either to exercise or amuse themselves, or rather indeed did both. 
It is surprising how much the mind is enlivened and refreshed by 


these little poetical compositions, as they turn upon love, hatred, 
satire, tenderness, politeness, and everything, in short, that concerns 
life and the affairs of the world. Besides, the same advantage 
attends these, as every other sort of poems, that we turn from them 
to prose with so much the more pleasure after having experienced 
the difficulty of being constrained and fettered by metre. And now, 
perhaps, I have troubled you upon this subject longer than you 
desired; however, there is one thing I have left out: I have not told 
you what kind of authors you should read; though indeed that was 
sufficiently implied when I told you on what you should write. 
Remember to be careful in your choice of authors of every kind : for, 
as it has been well observed, "though we should read much, we 
should not read many books." Who those authors are, is so clearly 
settled, and so generally known, that I need not particularly specify 
them; besides, I have already extended this letter to such an im- 
moderate length that, while suggesting how you ought to study, I 
have, I fear, been actually interrupting your studies. I will here 
resign you therefore to your tablets, either to resume the studies 
in which you were before engaged or to enter up>on some of those 
I have recommended. Farewell. 


To Fabatus (His Wife's Grandfather) 

You are surprised, I find, that my share of five-twelfths of the 
estate which lately fell to me, and which I had directed to be sold 
to the best bidder, should have been disposed of by my freedman 
Hermes to Corellia (without putting it up to auction) at the rate of 
seven hundred thousand sesterces' for the whole. And as you think 
it might have fetched nine hundred thousand,' you are so much the 
more desirous to know whether I am inclined to ratify what he has 
done. I am; and listen, while I tell you why, for I hope that not 
only you will approve, but also that my fellow-coheirs will excuse 
me for having, upon a motive of superior obligation, separated my 
interest from theirs. I have the highest esteem for Corellia, both as 
the sister of Rufus, whose memory will always be a sacred one to me, 
' About $28,000. ' About $36,000. 

304 PLINY 

and as my mother's intimate friend. Besides, that excellent man, 
Minutius Tuscus, her husband, has every claim to my af?ection 
that a long friendship can give him; as there was likewise the 
closest intimacy between her son and me, so much so indeed that 
I fixed upon him to preside at the games which I exhibited when I 
was elected pritor. This lady, when I was last in the country, 
expressed a strong desire for some place upon the borders of our 
lake of Comum ; I therefore made her an offer, at her own price, of 
any part of my land there, except what came to me from my father 
and mother; for that I could not consent to part with, even to 
Corellia, and accordingly when the inheritance in question fell to 
me, I wrote to let her know it was to be sold. This letter I sent by 
Hermes, who, upon her requesting him that he would immediately 
make over to her my proportion of it, consented. Am I not then 
obliged to confirm what my freedman has thus done in pursuance 
of my inclinations? I have only to entreat my fellow-coheirs that 
they will not take it ill at my hands that I have made a separate sale 
of what I had certainly a right to dispose of. They are not bound in 
any way to follow my example, since they have not the same con- 
nections with Corellia. They are at full liberty therefore to be 
guided by interest, which in my own case I chose to sacrifice to 
friendship. Farewell. 


To Corellia 

You are truly generous to desire and insist that I take for my 
share of the estate you purchased of me, not after the rate of seven 
hundred thousand sesterces for the whole, as my freedman sold it 
to you; but in the proportion of nine hundred thousand, agreeably 
to what you gave to the farmers of the twentieths for their part. But 
I must desire and insist in my turn that you would consider not only 
what is suitable to your character, but what is worthy of mine; and 
that you would suffer me to oppose your inclination in this 
single instance, with the same warmth that I obey it in all others. 



To Celer 

Every author has his particular reasons for reciting his works; 
mine, I have often said, are, in order, if any error should have 
escaped my own observation (as no doubt they do escape it some- 
times), to have it pointed out to me. I cannot therefore but be 
surprised to find (what your letter assures me) that there are some 
who blame me for reciting my sjieeches: unless, perhaps, they are of 
opinion that this is the single species of composition that ought to be 
held exempt from any correction. If so, I would willingly ask them 
why they allow (if indeed they do allow) that history may be recited, 
since it is a work which ought to be devoted to truth, not ostenta- 
tion ? or why tragedy, as it is composed for action and the stage, not 
for being read to a private audience? or lyric poetry, as it is not a 
reader, but a chorus of voices and instruments that it requires? 
They will reply, perhaps, that in the instances referred to, custom 
has made the practice in question usual: I should be glad to know, 
then, if they think the person who first introduced this practice is 
to be condemned? Besides, the rehearsal of speeches is no unprec- 
edented thing either with us or the Grecians. Still, perhaps, they 
will insist that it can answer no purpose to recite a speech which has 
already been delivered. True, if one were immediately to rep)eat the 
very same speech word for word, and to the very same audience; but 
if you make several additions and alterations; if your audience is 
composed partly of the same, and partly of different persons, and the 
recital is at some distance of time, why is there less propriety in 
rehearsing your speech than in publishing it? "But it is difficult," 
the objectors urge, "to give satisfaction to an audience by the mere 
recital of a speech"; that is a consideration which concerns the par- 
ticular skill and pains of the person who rehearses, but by no means 
holds good against recitation in general. The truth is, it is not whilst 
I am reading, but when 1 am read, that I aim at approbation; and 
upon this principle I omit no sort of correction. In the first place, I 
frequently go carefully over what I have written, by myself; after 
this I read it out to two or three friends, and then give it to others 

306 PLINY 

to make their remarks. If after this I have any doubt concerning 
the justness of their observations, I carefully weigh them again with 
a friend or two; and, last of all, 1 recite them to a larger audience; 
then is the time, believe me, when I correct most energetically and 
unsparingly; for my care and attention rise in proportion to my 
anxiety; as nothing renders the judgment so acute to detect error as 
that deference, modesty, and diffidence one feels upon those occa- 
sions. For tell me, would you not be infinitely less affected were 
you to speak before a single person only, though ever so learned, 
than before a numerous assembly, even though composed of none 
but illiterate people ? When you rise up to plead, are you not at that 
juncture, above all others, most self-distrustful? and do you not wish, 
I will not say some particular parts only, but that the whole arrange- 
ment of your intended speech were altered? especially if the con- 
course should be large in which you are to speak? for there is some- 
thing even in a low and vulgar audience that strikes one with awe. 
And if you suspect you are not well received at the first opening of 
your speech, do you not find all your energy relaxed, and feel yourself 
ready to give way? The reason I imagine to be that there is a certain 
weight of collective opinion in a multitude, and although each 
individual judgment is, perhaps, of little value, yet when united it be- 
comes considerable. Accordingly, Pomjxjnius Secundus, the famous 
tragic poet, whenever some very intimate friend and he differed 
about the retaining or rejecting anything in his writings, used to 
say, "I appeal' to the fjeople"; and thus, by their silence or applause, 
adopted either his own or his friend's opinion; such was the defer- 
ence he paid to the popular judgment! Whether justly or not, is no 
concern of mine, as I am not in the habit of reciting my works 
publicly, but only to a select circle, whose presence I respect, and 
whose judgment I value; in a word, whose opinions I attend to as 
if they were so many individuals I had separately consulted, at the 
same time that I stand in as much awe before them as I should before 
the most numerous assembly. What Cicero says of composing will, 

' There is a kind of witticism in this expression, which will be lost to the mere 
English reader, unless he be informed that the Romans had a privilege, confirmed to 
them by several laws which passed in the earlier ages of the republic, of appealing 
from the decisions of the magistrates to the general assembly of the people: and they 
did so in the form of words which Pomponius here applies to a different purpose. M. 


in my opinion, hold true of the dread we have of the pubUc: "Fear 
is the most rigid critic imaginable." The very thought of reciting, 
the very entrance into an assembly, and the agitated concern when 
one is there; each of these circumstances tends to improve and perfect 
an author's performance. Upon the whole, therefore, I cannot rejsent 
of a practice which 1 have found by experience so exceedingly use- 
ful; and am so far from being discouraged by the trifling objections 
of these censors that I request you would point out to me if there 
is yet any other kind of correction, that I may also adopt it; for 
nothing can sufficiently satisfy my anxiety to render my composi- 
tions perfect. I reflect what an undertaking it is, resigning any work 
into the hands of the public; and I cannot but be persuaded that 
frequent revisals, and many consultations, must go to the perfecting 
of a performance, which one desires should universally and for ever 
please. Farewell. 


To Priscus 

The illness of my friend Fannia gives me great concern. She con- 
tracted it during her attendance on Junia, one of the Vestal Virgins, 
engaging in this good office at first voluntarily, Junia being her 
relation, and afterwards being appointed to it by an order from the 
college of priests: for these virgins, when excessive ill health renders 
it necessary to remove them from the temple of Vesta, are always 
delivered over to the care and custody of some venerable matron. 
It was owing to her assiduity in the execution of this charge that 
she contracted her present dangerous disorder, which is a continual 
fever, attended with a cough that increases daily. She is extremely 
emaciated, and every part of her seems in a total decay except her 
spirits: those, indeed, she fully keeps up; and in a way altogether 
worthy the wife of Helvidius, and the daughter of Thrasea. In all 
other respects there is such a falling away that I am more than 
apprehensive ujxin her account; I am deeply afflicted. I grieve, my 
friend, that so excellent a woman is going to be removed from the 
eyes of the world, which will never, perhaps, again behold her equal. 
So pure she is, so pious, so wise and prudent, so brave and steadfast! 

308 PLINY 

Twice she followed her husband into exile, and the third time she 
was banished herself upon his account. For Senecio, when arraigned 
for writing the Ufe of Helvidius, having said in his defence that he 
composed that work at the request of Fannia, Metius Carus, with a 
stern and threatening air, asked her whether she had made that 
request, and she replied, "I made it." Did she supply him likewise 
with materials for the purpose? "I did." Was her mother privy to 
this transaction? "She was not." In short, throughout her whole 
examination, not a word escaped her which betrayed the smallest 
fear. On the contrary, she had preserved a copy of those very 
books which the senate, overawed by the tyranny of the times, had 
ordered to be suppressed, and at the same time the effects of the 
author to be confiscated, and carried with her into exile the very 
cause of her exile. How pleasing she is, how courteous, and (what is 
granted to few) no less lovable than worthy of all esteem and ad- 
miration! Will she hereafter be {xjinted out as a model to all wives; 
and perhaps be esteemed worthy of being set forth as an example 
of fortitude even to our sex; since, while we still have the pleasure 
of seeing and conversing with her, we contemplate her with the 
same admiration, as those heroines who are celebrated in ancient 
story? For myself, I confess, I cannot but tremble for this illustrious 
house, which seems shaken to its very foundations, and ready to fall; 
for though she will leave descendants behind her, yet what a height 
of virtue must they attain, what glorious deeds must they perform, 
ere the world will be persuaded that she was not the last of her 
family! It is an additional affliction and anguish to me that by her 
death I seem to lose her mother a second time; that worthy mother 
(and what can I say higher in her praise?) of so noble a woman! 
who, as she was restored to me in her daughter, so she will now 
again be taken from me, and the loss of Fannia will thus pierce my 
heart at once with a fresh, and at the same time reopened, wound. 
I so truly loved and honoured them both, that I know not which 
I loved the best; a point they desired might ever remain unde- 
termined. In their prosperity and their adversity I did them every 
kindness in my power, and was their comforter in exile, as well as 
their avenger at their return. But I have not yet paid them what I 


owe, and am so much the more solicitous for the recovery of this 
lady, that I may have time to discharge my debt to her. Such is the 
anxiety and sorrow under which I write this letter! But if some 
divine [x>wer should happily turn it into )oy, I shall not complain 
of the alarms I now suffer. Farewell. 


To Geminius 

NuMiDiA QuADRATiLLA is dead, having almost reached her 
eightieth year. She enjoyed, up to her last illness, uninterrupted 
good health, and was unusually stout and robust for one of her sex. 
She has left a very prudent will, having disposed of two-thirds of 
her estate to her grandson, and the rest to her granddaughter. The 
young lady I know very slightly, but the grandson is one of my 
most intimate friends. He is a remarkable young man, and his 
merit entitles him to the affection of a relation, even where his blood 
does not. Notwithstanding his remarkable personal beauty, he 
escaped every malicious imputation both whilst a boy and when a 
youth: he was a husband at four-and-twenty, and would have been 
a father if Providence had not disappointed his hopes. He lived in 
the family with his grandmother, who was exceedingly devoted to 
the pleasures of the town, yet observed great severity of conduct 
himself, while always perfectly deferential and submissive to her. 
She retained a set of pantomimes, and was an encourager of this class 
of people to a degree inconsistent with one of her sex and rank. 
But Quadratus never appeared at these entertainments, whether 
she exhibited them in the theatre or in her own house; nor indeed 
did she require him to be present. I once heard her say, when she 
was recommending to me the supervision of her grandson's studies, 
that it was her custom, in order to pass away some of those unem- 
ployed hours with which female life abounds, to amuse herself with 
playing at chess, or seeing the mimicry of her pantomimes; but 
that, whenever she engaged in either of those amusements, she 
constantly sent away her grandson to his studies: she appeared to 
me to act thus as much out of reverence for the youth as from affec- 

310 PLINY 

tion. I was a good deal surprised, as I am sure you will be too, at 
what he told me the last time the Pontifical games' were exhibited. 
As we were coming out of the theatre together, where we had been 
entertained with a show of these pantomimes, "Do you know," said 
he, "to-day is the first time I ever saw my grandmother's freedman 
dance?" Such was the grandson's speech! while a set of men of a 
far different stamp, in order to do honour to Quadratilla (I am 
ashamed to call it honour), were running up and down the theatre, 
pretending to be struck with the utmost admiration and rapture at 
the performances of those pantomimes, and then imitating in 
musical chant the mien and manner of their lady patroness. But 
now all the reward they have got, in return for their theatrical per- 
formances, is just a few trivial legacies, which they have the mortifi- 
cation to receive from an heir who was never so much as present at 
these shows. — I send you this account, knowing you do not dislike 
hearing town news, and because, too, when any occurrence has 
given me pleasure, I love to renew it again by relating it. And indeed 
this instance of affection in Quadratilla, and the honour done therein 
to that excellent youth, her grandson, has afforded me a very sensible 
satisfaction; as I extremely rejoice that the house which once 
belonged to Cassius,' the founder and chief of the Cassian school, is 
come into the possession of one no less considerable than its former 
master. For my friend will fill it and become it as he ought, and its 
ancient dignity, lustre, and glory will again revive under Quadratus, 
who, I am persuaded, will prove as eminent an orator as Cassius was 
a lawyer. Farewell. 


To Maximus 

The lingering disorder of a friend of mine gave me occasion lately 
to reflect that we are never so good as when oppressed with illness. 
Where is the sick man who is either solicited by avarice or inflamed 
with lust ? At such a season he is neither a slave of love nor the fool 

' The priests, is well as other magistrates, exhibited public games to the people 
when they entered upon their office. M. 

' A famous lawyer who flourished in the reign of the emperor Claudius: those 
who followed his opinions were said to be Cassians, or of the school of Cassius. M. 


of ambition; wealth he utterly disregards, and is content with ever so 
small a portion of it, as being upon the point of leaving even that 
little. It is then he recollects there are gods, and that he himself is but 
a man: no mortal is then the object of his envy, his admiration, or 
his contempt; and the tales of slander neither raise his attention 
nor feed his curiosity: his dreams are only of baths and fountains. 
These are the supreme objects of his cares and wishes, while he 
resolves, if he should recover, to pass the remainder of his days in 
ease and tranquillity, that is, to live innocently and happily. I may 
therefore lay down to you and myself a short rule, which the 
philosophers have endeavoured to inculcate at the expense of many 
words, and even many volumes; that "we should try and realize in 
health those resolutions we form in sickness." Farewell. 


To Sura 

The present recess from business we are now enjoying affords you 
leisure to give, and me to receive, instruction. I am extremely 
desirous therefore to know whether you believe in the existence of 
ghosts, and that they have a real form, and are a sort of divinities, 
or only the visionary impressions of a terrified imagination. What 
particularly inclines me to believe in their existence is a story which 
I heard of Curtius Rufus. When he was in low circumstances and 
unknown in the world, he attended the governor of Africa into that 
province. One evening, as he was walking in the public portico, 
there appeared to him the figure of a woman, of unusual size and 
of beauty more than human. And as he stood there, terrified and 
astonished, she told him she was the tutelary power that presided 
over Africa, and was come to inform him of the future events of his 
life: that he should go back to Rome, to enjoy high honours there, 
and return to that province invested with the proconsular dignity, 
and there should die. Every circumstance of this prediction actually 
came to pass. It is said farther that upon his arrival at Carthage, as 
he was coming out of the ship, the same figure met him upon the 
shore. It is certain, at least, that being seized with a fit of illness, 
though there were no symptoms in his case that led those about him 

312 PLINY 

to despair, he instantly gave up all hope of recovery; judging, appar- 
ently, of the truth of the future part of the prediction by what had 
already been fulfilled, and of the approaching misfortune from his 
former prosperity. Now the following story, which I am going to 
tell you just as I heard it, is it not more terrible than the former, 
while quite as wonderful ? There was at Athens a large and roomy 
house, which had a bad name, so that no one could live there. In 
the dead of the night a noise, resembling the clashing of iron, was 
frequently heard, which, if you listened more attentively, sounded 
like the rattling of chains, distant at first, but approaching nearer by 
degrees: immediately afterwards a spectre appeared in the form of 
an old man, of extremely emaciated and squalid appearance, with 
a long beard and dishevelled hair, rattling the chains on his feet 
and hands. The distressed occupants meanwhile passed their wake- 
ful nights under the most dreadful terrors imaginable. This, as it 
broke their rest, ruined their health, and brought on distempers, their 
terror grew upon them, and death ensued. Even in the daytime, 
though the spirit did not appear, yet the impression remained so 
strong upon their imaginations that it still seemed before their eyes, 
and kept them in perpetual alarm. Consequently the house was at 
length deserted, as being deemed absolutely uninhabitable; so that 
it was now entirely abandoned to the ghost. However, in hopes that 
some tenant might be found who was ignorant of this very alarming 
circumstance, a bill was put up, giving notice that it was either to be 
let or sold. It happened that Athenodorus,' the philosopher, came 
to Athens at this time, and, reading the bill, enquired the price. The 
extraordinary cheapness raised his suspicion; nevertheless, when he 
heard the whole story, he was so far from being discouraged that 
he was more strongly inchned to hire it, and, in short, actually did 
so. When it grew towards evening, he ordered a couch to be pre- 
pared for him in the front part of the house, and, after calling for 
a light, together with his pencil and tablets, directed all his people to 
retire. But that his mind might not, for want of employment, be 
open to the vain terrors of imaginary noises and spirits, he applied 
himself to writing with the utmost attention. The first part of the 

' A Stoic philosopher and native of Tarsus. He was tutor for some time to 
Octavius, afterwards Augustus, Czsar. 


night passed in entire silence, as usual; at length a clanking of iron 
and rattling of chains was heard: however, he neither lifted up his 
eyes nor laid down his pen, but, in order to keep calm and collected, 
tried to pass the sounds off to himself as something else. The noise 
increased and advanced nearer, till it seemed at the door, and at last 
in the chamber. He looked up, saw, and recognized the ghost exactly 
as it had been described to him: it stood before him, beckoning with 
the finger, like a person who calls another. Athenodorus in reply 
made a sign with his hand that it should wait a little, and threw his 
eyes again uf)on his papers; the ghost then rattled its chains over the 
head of the philosopher, who looked up upon this, and seeing it 
beckoning as before, immediately arose, and, light in hand, followed 
it. The ghost slowly stalked along, as if encumbered with its chains, 
and, turning into the area of the house, suddenly vanished. Atheno- 
dorus, being thus deserted, made a mark with some grass and leaves 
on the spot where the spirit left him. The next day he gave informa- 
tion to the magistrates, and advised them to order that sfXJt to be dug 
up. This was accordingly done, and the skeleton of a man in chains 
was found there; for the body, having lain a considerable time in 
the ground, was putrefied and mouldered away from the fetters. The 
bones, being collected together, were publicly buried, and thus after 
the ghost was appeased by the proper ceremonies, the house was 
haunted no more. This story I believe upon the credit of others; 
what I am going to mention, I give you upon my own. I have a 
freedman named Marcus, who is by no means illiterate. One 
night, as he and his younger brother were lying together, he fancied 
he saw somebody upon his bed, who took out a pair of scissors, and 
cut off the hair from the top part of his own head, and in the 
morning, it appeared his hair was actually cut, and the clippings 
lay scattered about the floor. A short time after this, an event of 
a similar nature contributed to give credit to the former story. A 
young lad of my family was sleeping in his apartment with the 
rest of his companions, when two persons clad in white came in, 
as he says, through the windows, cut off his hair as he lay, and 
then returned the same way they entered. The next morning it 
was found that this boy had been served just as the other, and 
there was the hair again, spread about the room. Nothing re- 

314 PLINY 

markable indeed followed these events, unless perhaps that I es- 
caped a prosecution, in which, if Domitian (during whose reign 
this happened) had lived some time longer, I should certainly have 
been involved. For after the death of that emperor, articles of 
impeachment against me were found in his scrutore, which had 
been exhibited by Carus. It may therefore be conjectured, since it 
is customary for [persons under any public accusation to let their 
hair grow, this cutting off the hair of my servants was a sign I 
should escape the imminent danger that threatened me. Let me 
desire you then to give this question your mature consideration. 
The subject deserves your examination; as, I trust, I am not myself 
altogether unworthy a participation in the abundance of your 
superior knowledge. And though you should, as usual, balance be- 
tween two opinions, yet I hope you will lean more on one side 
than on the other, lest, whilst I consult you in order to have my 
doubt settled, you should dismiss me in the same suspense and 
indecision that occasioned you the present appUcation. Farewell. 


To Septitius 

You tell me certain persons have blamed me in your company, 
as being upon all occasions too lavish in the praise I give my friends. 
I not only acknowledge the charge, but glory in it; for can there 
be a nobler error than an overflowing benevolence? But still, who 
are these, let me ask, that are better acquainted with my friends than 
I am myself? Yet grant there are any such, why will they deny 
me the satisfaction of so pleasing a mistake? For supposing my 
friends not to deserve the highest encomiums I give them, yet I am 
happy in believing they do. Let them recommend then this malig- 
nant zeal to those (and their number is not inconsiderable) who 
imagine they shew their judgment when they indulge their censure 
upon their friends. As for myself, they will never be able to per- 
suade me I can be guilty of an excess' in friendship. Farewell. 

' Balzac very prettily observes: "// y a des rivihes qui ne font jamais lant de bin 
que quand elles sc dibordeni; de mime, I'amitii n'a rien meUleur que I'excis." M. 



To Tacitus 

I PREDICT (and I am persuaded I shall not be deceived) that your 
histories will be immortal. I frankly own therefore I so much the 
more earnestly wish to find a place in them. If we are generally 
careful to have our faces taken by the best artists, ought we not 
to desire that our actions may be celebrated by an author of your 
distinguished abilities? I therefore call your attention to the follow- 
ing matter, which, though it cannot have escaped your notice, as 
it is mentioned in the public journals, still I call your attention to, 
that you may the more readily believe how agreeable it will be 
to me that this action, greatly heightened by the risk which attended 
it, should receive additional lustre from the testimony of a man of 
your powers. The senate appointed Herennius Senecio, and myself, 
counsel for the province of Bxtica, in their impeachment of Bxbius 
Massa. He was condemned, and the house ordered his effects to 
be seized into the hands of the public officer. Shortly after, Senecio, 
having learnt that the consuls intended to sit to hear petitions, 
came and said to me, "Let us go together, and petition them with 
the same unanimity in which we executed the office which had 
been enjoined us, not to suffer Massa's effects to be dissipated by 
those who were appointed to preserve them." I answered, "As we 
were counsel in this affair by order of the senate, I recommend it 
to your consideration whether it would be proper for us, after 
sentence passed, to interpose any farther." "You are at liberty," 
said he, "to prescribe what bounds you please to yourself, who 
have no particular connections with the province, except what 
arise from your late services to them; but then I was born there, 
and enjoyed the post of quistor among them." "If such," I replied, 
"is your determined resolution, I am ready to accompany you, that 
whatever resentment may be the consequence of this affair, it 
may not fall singly upon yourself." We accordingly proceeded to 
the consuls, where Senecio said what was pertinent to the affair, 
and I added a few words to the same effect. Scarcely had we ended 
when Massa, complaining that Senecio had not acted against him 

3l6 PLINY 

with the fidelity of an advocate, but the bitterness of an enemy, 
desired he might be at Uberty to prosecute him for treason. This 
occasioned general consternation. Whereupon I rose up; "Most 
noble consuls," said I, "I am afraid it should seem that Massa has 
tacitly charged me with having favoured him in this cause, since 
he did not think proper to join me with Senecio in the desired 
prosecution." This short speech was immediately received with ap- 
plause, and afterwards got much talked about everywhere. The 
late emperor Nerva (who, though at that time in a private station, 
yet interested himself in every meritorious action performed in 
public) wrote a most impressive letter to me upon the occasion, 
in which he not only congratulated me, but the age which had 
produced an example so much in the spirit (as he was pleased 
to call it) of the good old days. But, whatever be the actual fact, 
it lies in your p)ower to raise it into a grander and more conspicuously 
illustrious position, though I am far from desiring you in the least 
to exceed the bounds of reality. History ought to be guided by 
strict truth, and worthy actions require nothing more. Farewell. 


To Septitius 

I HAD a good journey here, excepting only that some of my servants 
were upset by the excessive heat. Poor Encolpius, my reader,' 
who is so indispensable to me in my studies and amusements, was 
so affected with the dust that it brought on a spitting of blood: 
an accident which will prove no less unpleasant to me than un- 
fortunate to himself, should he be thereby rendered unfit for the 
literary work in which he so greatly excels. If that should unhappily 
result, where shall I find one who will read my works so well, or 
appreciate them so thoroughly, as he? Whose tones will my ears 
drink in as they do his? But the gods seem to favour our better 
hopes, as the bleeding is stopped, and the pain abated. Besides, he 
is extremely temperate; while no concern is wanting on my part 
or care on his physician's. This, together with the wholesomeness 

' Persons of rank and literature among the Romans retained in their families a 
domestic whose sole business was to read to them. M. 


of the air, and the quiet of retirement, gives us reason to expect that 
the country will contribute as much to the restoration of his health 
as to his rest. Farewell. 


To Calvisius 

Other people visit their estates in order to recruit their purses; 
whilst I go to mine only to return so much the poorer. I had sold 
my vintage to the merchants, who were extremely eager to purchase 
it, encouraged by the price it then bore, and what it was probable 
it would rise to: however, they were disappointed in their expecta- 
tions. Upon this occasion to have made the same general abatement 
to all would have been much the easiest, though not so equitable a 
method. Now I hold it particularly worthy of a man of honour 
to be governed by principles of strict equity in his domestic as well 
as public conduct; in little matters as in great ones; in his own 
concerns as well as in those of others. And if every deviation from 
rectitude is equally criminal,' every approach to it must be equally 
praiseworthy. So accordingly I remitted to all in general one-eighth 
part of the price they had agreed to give me, that none might go 
away without some comp)ensation: next, I particularly considered 
those who had advanced the largest sums towards their purchase, 
and done me so much the more service, and been greater sufferers 
themselves. To those, therefore, whose purchase amounted to more 
than ten thousand sesterces,' I returned (over and above that which 
I may call the general and common eighth) a tenth part of what 
they had paid beyond that sum. I fear I do not express myself 
sufficiently clearly; I will endeavour to explain my meaning more 
fully: for instance, suppose a man had purchased of me to the 
value of fifteen thousand sesterces,' I remitted to him one-eighth 
part of that whole sum, and likewise one-tenth of five thousand.^ 
Besides this, as several had deposited, in different proportions, part 
of the price they had agreed to pay, whilst others had advanced 
nothing, I thought it would not be at all fair that all these should 

' It was a doctrine maintained by the Stoics that all crimes are equal. M. 
^ About $400. ' About $600. * About $93. 

3l8 PLINY 

be favoured with the same undistinguished remission. To those, 
therefore, who had made any payments, I returned a tenth part 
upon the sums so paid. By this means I made a proper acknowledg- 
ment to each, according to their respective deserts, and Hkewise 
encouraged them, not only to deal with me for the future, but to 
be prompt in their payments. This instance of my good nature 
or my judgment (call it which you please) was a considerable 
expense to me. However, I found my account in it; for all the 
country greatly approved both of the novelty of these abatements 
and the manner in which I regulated them. Even those whom I 
did not "mete" (as they say) "by the same measure," but dis- 
tinguished according to their several degrees, thought themselves 
obliged to me, in proportion to the probity of their principles, and 
went away pleased with having exfierienced that not with me 

"The brave and mean an equal honour find." * 



Have you ever seen the source of the river Clitumnus? If you 
have not (and I hardly think you can have seen it yet, or you 
would have told me), go there as soon as possible. I saw it yesterday, 
and I blame myself for not having seen it sooner. At the foot of a 
little hill, well wooded with old cypress-trees, a spring gushes out, 
which, breaking up into different and unequal streams, forms itself, 
after several windings, into a large, broad basin of water, so trans- 
parently clear that you may count the shining pebbles, and the 
little pieces of money thrown into it, as they lie at the bottom. 
From thence it is carried off not so much by the declivity of the 
ground as by its own weight and exuberance. A mere stream at its 
source, immediately, on quitting this, you find it expanded into a 
broad river, fit for large vessels even, allowing a free passage by each 
other, according as they sail with or against the stream. The current 
runs so strong, though the ground is level, that the large barges 
going down the river have no occasion to make use of their oars; 
*Hom. II. lib. ix., v. 319. 


while those going up find it difficult to make headway even with the 
assistance of oars and poles: and this alternate interchange of ease 
and toil, according as you turn, is exceedingly amusing when one 
sails up and down merely for pleasure. The banks are well covered 
with ash and poplar, the shape and colour of the trees being as 
clearly and distinctly reflected in the stream as if they were actually 
sunk in it. The water is cold as snow, and as white too. Near it 
stands an ancient and venerable temple, in which is placed the 
river-god Clitumnus clothed in the usual robe of state; and indeed 
the prophetic oracles here delivered sufficiently testify the imme- 
diate presence of that divinity. Several little chapels are scattered 
round, dedicated to particular gods, distinguished each by his own 
peculiar name and form of worship, and some of them, too, presid- 
ing over different fountains. For, besides the principal spring, 
which is, as it were, the parent of all the rest, there are several 
other lesser streams, which, taking their rise from various sources, 
lose themselves in the river; over which a bridge is built that 
separates the sacred part from that which lies open to common use. 
Vessels are allowed to come above this bridge, but no person is 
permitted to swim except below it. The Hispellates, to whom 
Augustus gave this place, furnish a public bath, and likewise enter- 
tain all strangers, at their own expense. Several villas, attracted by 
the beauty of this river, stand about on its borders. In short, every 
surrounding object will afford you entertainment. You may also 
amuse yourself with numberless inscriptions upon the pillars and 
walls, by different persons, celebrating the virtues of the fountain, 
and the divinity that presides over it. Many of them you will 
admire, while some will make you laugh; but 1 must correct myself 
when I say so; you are too humane, I know, to laugh upon such an 
occasion. Farewell. 


To Aristo 

As you are no less acquainted with the political laws of your 
country (which include the customs and usages of the senate) 
than with the civil, I am particularly desirous to have your opinion 

320 PLINY 

whether I was mistaken in an affair which lately came before the 
house, or not. This I request, not with a view of being directed 
in my judgment as to what is passed (for that is now too late), 
but in order to know how to act in any possible future case of the 
kind. You will ask, perhaps, "Why do you apply for information 
concerning a point on which you ought to be well instructed?" 
Because the tyranny of former reigns,' as it introduced a neglect 
and ignorance of all other parts of useful knowledge, so particularly 
of what relates to the customs of the senate; for who is there so 
tamely industrious as to desire to learn what he can never have 
an opportunity of putting in practice? Besides, it is not very easy 
to retain even the knowledge one has acquired where no opportunity 
of employing it occurs. Hence it was that Liberty, on her return,' 
found us totally ignorant and inexperienced; and thus in the 
warmth of our eagerness to taste her sweets, we are sometimes 
hurried on to action, ere we are well instructed how we ought to 
act. But by the institution of our ancestors, it was wisely provided 
that the young should learn from the old, not only by precept, 
but by their own observation, how to behave in that sphere in which 
they were one day themselves to move; while these, again, in their 
turn, transmitted the same mode of instruction to their children. 
Upon this principle it was that the youth were sent early into the 
army, that by being taught to obey they might learn to command, 
and, whilst they followed others, might be trained by degrees to 
become leaders themselves. On the same principle, when they were 
candidates for any office, they were obliged to stand at the door 
of the senate-house, and were spectators of the public council before 
they became members of it. The father of each youth was his 
instructor upon these occasions, or if he had none, some person of 
years and dignity supplied the place of a father. Thus they were 
taught by that surest method of discipline, Example, how far the 
right of proposing any law to the senate extended; what privileges 
a senator had in delivering his opinion in the house; the power of 
the magistrates in that assembly, and the rights of the rest of the 
members; where it is proper to yield, and where to insist; when 

' Those of Nero and Domitian. M. 
* When Nerva and Trajan received the empire. W. 


and how long to speak, and when to be silent; how to make 
necessary distinctions between contrary opinions, and how to im- 
prove upon a former motion: in a word, they learnt by this means 
every senatorial usage. As for myself, it is true, indeed, 1 served 
in the army when I was a youth; but it was at a time when 
courage was suspected, and want of spirit rewarded; when generals 
were without authority, and soldiers without modesty; when there 
was neither discipline nor obedience, but all was riot, disorder, and 
confusion: in short, when it was happier to forget than to remember 
what one learnt. I attended likewise in my youth the senate, but 
a senate shrinking and speechless; where it was dangerous to utter 
one's opinion, and mean and pitiable to be silent. What pleasure 
was there in learning, or indeed what could be learnt, when the 
senate was convened either to do nothing whatever or to give their 
sanction to some consummate infamy! when they were assembled 
either for cruel or ridiculous purposes, and when their deliberations 
were never serious, though often sad! But I was not only a witness 
to this scene of wretchedness, as a spectator; I bore my share of 
it too as a senator, and both saw and suffered under it for many 
years; which so broke and damped my spirits that they have not 
even yet been able fully to recover themselves. It is within quite 
recently (for all time seems short in proportion to its happiness) 
that we could take any pleasure in knowing what relates to or in 
setting about the duties of our station. Upon these considerations, 
therefore, I may the more reasonably entreat you, in the first place, 
to pardon my error (if I have been guilty of one), and, in the 
next, to lead me out of it by your superior knowledge: for you 
have always been diligent to examine into the constitution of your 
country, both with respect to its public and private, its ancient and 
modern, its general and special laws. I am persuaded, indeed, the 
point upon which I am going to consult you is such an unusual 
one that even those whose great experience in public business must 
have made them, one would have naturally supposed, acquainted 
with everything were either doubtful or absolutely ignorant upxjn 
it. I shall be more excusable, therefore, if I happen to have been 
mistaken; as you will earn the higher praise if you can set me 
right in an affair which it is not clear has ever yet fallen within 

322 PLINY 

your observation. The enquiry then before the house was concerning 
the freedmen of Afranius Dexter, who being found murdered, 
it was uncertain whether he fell by his own hands, or by those of 
his household; and if the latter, whether they committed the fact 
in obedience to the commands of Afranius, or were prompted to 
it by their own villainy. After they had been put to the question, 
a certain senator (it is of no importance to mention his name, but 
if you are desirous to know, it was myself) was for acquitting them; 
another proposed that they should be banished for a limited time; 
and a third that they should suffer death. These several opinions 
were so extremely different that it was impossible either of them 
could stand with the other. For what have death and banishment 
in common with one another? Why, no more than banishment 
and acquittal have together. Though an acquittal approaches rather 
nearer a sentence of exile than a sentence of death does: for both 
the former agree at least in this, that they spare life, whereas the 
latter takes it away. In the meanwhile, those senators who were 
for punishing with death, and those who proposed banishment, 
sate together on the same side of the house: and thus by a present 
appearance of unanimity suspended their real disagreement. I 
moved, therefore, that the votes for each of the three opinions should 
be separately taken, and that two of them should not, under favour 
of a short truce between themselves, join against the third. I in- 
sisted that such of the members who were for capital punishment 
should divide from the others who voted for banishment; and that 
these two distinct parties should not be permitted to form them- 
selves into a body, in opposition to those who declared for acquittal, 
when they would immediately after disunite again: for it was not 
material that they agreed in disliking one proposal, since they 
differed with respect to the other two. It seemed very extraordinary 
that he who moved the freedmen should be banished, and the slaves 
suffer death, should not be allowed to join these two in one motion, 
but that each question should be ordered to be put to the house 
separately; and yet that the vote of one who was for inflicting 
capital punishment up)on the freedmen should be taken together 
with that of one who was for banishing them. For if, in the former 
instance, it was reasonable that the motion should be divided, 


because it comprehended two distinct propositions, I could not see 
why, in the latter case, suffrages so extremely different should be 
thrown into the same scale. Permit me, then, notwithstanding the 
poiiH is already settled, to go over it again as if it were still undecided, 
and to lay before you those reasons at my ease, which I offered to 
the house in the midst of much interruption and clamour. Let us 
suppose there had been only three judges appointed to hear this 
cause, one of whom was of opinion that the parties in question 
deserved death; the other that they should only be banished; and 
the third that they ought to be acquitted: should the two former 
unite their weight to overpower the latter, or should each be 
separately balanced? For the first and second are no more com- 
patible than the second and third. They ought therefore in the 
same manner to be counted in the senate as contrary opinions, 
since they were delivered as different ones. Suppose the same person 
had moved that they should both have been banished and put to 
death, could they possibly, in pursuance of this opinion, have suffered 
both punishments? Or could it have been looked upon as one con- 
sistent motion when it united two such different decisions? Why, 
then, should the same opinion, when delivered by distinct persons, 
be considered as one and entire, which would not be deemed so 
if it were prof)osed by a single man? Does not the law manifestly 
imply that a distinction is to be made between those who are for 
a capital conviction, and those who are for banishment, in the very 
form of words made use of when the house is ordered to divide? 
You who are of such an opinion, come to this side; you who are 
of any other, go over to the side of him whose opinion you follow. 
Let us examine this form, and weigh every sentence: You who are 
of this opinion: that is, for instance, you who are for banishment, 
come on this side; namely, on the side of him who moved for 
banishment. From whence it is clear he cannot remain on the side 
of those who are for death. You who are for any other: observe, 
the law is not content with barely saying another, but it adds any. 
Now can there be a doubt as to whether they who declare for a 
capital conviction are of any other opinion than those who propose 
exile! Go over to the side of him whose opinion you follow: does 
not the law seem, as it were, to call, compel, drive over, those who 

324 PLINY 

are of different opinions, to contrary sides? Does not the consul 
himself point out, not only by this solemn form of words, but by 
his hand and gesture, the place in which every man is to remain, or 
to which he is to go over? "But," it is objected, "if this separation 
is made between those who vote for inflicting death, and those who 
are on the side of exile, the opinion for acquitting the prisoners must 
necessarily prevail." But how does that affect the parties who vote? 
Certainly it does not become them to contend by every art, and 
urge every expedient, that the milder sentence may not take place. 
"Still," say they, "those who are for condemning the accused either 
capitally or to banishment should be first set in opposition to those 
who are for acquitting them, and afterwards weighed against each 
other." Thus, as, in certain public games, some particular combatant 
is set apart by lot and kept to engage with the conqueror; so, it 
seems, in the senate, there is a first and second combat, and of two 
different opinions, the prevailing one has still a third to contend 
with. What? when any particular opinion is received, do not all 
the rest fall of course? Is it reasonable, then, that one should be 
thrown into the scale merely to weigh down another? To express 
my meaning more plainly: unless the two parties who are respec- 
tively for capital punishment and exile immediately separate upon 
the first division of the house, it would be to no purpose afterwards 
to dissent from those with whom they joined before. But I am 
dictating instead of receiving instruction. — Tell me, then, whether 
you think these votes should have been taken separately? My 
motion, it is true, prevailed; nevertheless I am desirous to know 
whether you think I ought to have insisted upon this point, or 
have yielded as that member did who declared for capital punish- 
ment? For convinced, I will not say of the legality, but at least 
of the equity of my proposal, he receded from his opinion, and went 
over to the party for exile: fearing perhaps, if the votes were taken 
separately (which he saw would be the case), the freedmen would 
be acquitted: for the numbers were far greater on that side than 
on either of the other two, separately counted. The consequence 
was that those who had been influenced by his authority, when they 
saw themselves forsaken by his going over to the other party, gave 
up a motion which they found abandoned by the first proposer, 


and deserted, as it were, with their leader. Thus the three opinions 
were resolved at length into two; and of those two, one prevailed, 
and the other was rejected; while the third, as it was not powerful 
enough to conquer both the others, had only to choose to which of 
the two it would yield. Farewell. 


To Paternus 

The sickness lately in my family, which has carried off several 
of my servants, some of them, too, in the prime of their years, has 
been a great affliction to me. I have two consolations, however, 
which, though by no means equivalent to such a grief, still are 
consolations. One is, that as I have always readily manumitted my 
slaves, their death does not seem altogether immature, if they lived 
long enough to receive their freedom : the other, that I have allowed 
them to make a kind of will,' which I observe as religiously as if 
they were legally entitled to that privilege. I receive and obey their 
last requests and injunctions as so many authoritative commands, 
suffering them to dispose of their effects to whom they please; with 
this single restriction, that they leave them to someone in my house- 
hold, for to slaves the house they are in is a kind of state and 
commonwealth, so to speak. But though I endeavour to acquiesce 
imder these reflections, yet the same tenderness which led me to 
shew them these indulgences weakens and gets the better of me. 
However, I would not wish on that account to become harder: 
though the generality of the world, I know, look upon losses of 
this kind in no other view than as a diminution of their property, 
and fancy, by cherishing such an unfeeling temper, they shew a 
superior fortitude and philosophy. Their fortitude and philosophy 
I will not dispute. But humane, I am sure, they are not; for it is 
the very criterion of true manhood to feel those impressions of 
sorrow which it endeavours to resist, and to admit not to be above 
the want of consolation. But perhaps I have detained you too long 
upon this subject, though not so long as I would. There is a certain 

'A slave could acquire no property, and consequendy was Locapable by law of 
mailing a will. M. 

326 PLINY 

pleasure even in giving vent to one's grief; especially when we weep 
on the bosom of a friend who will approve, or, at least, pardon, our 
tears. Farewell. 


To Macrinus 

Is the weather with you as rude and boisterous as it is with us? 
All here is tempest and inundation. The Tiber has swelled its 
channel, and overflowed its banks far and wide. Though the wise 
precaution of the emperor had guarded against this evil, by cutting 
several outlets to the river, it has nevertheless flooded all the fields 
and valleys and entirely overspread the whole face of the flat country. 
It seems to have gone out to meet those rivers which it used to 
receive and carry off in one united stream, and has driven them 
back to deluge those countries it could not reach itself. That most 
delightful of rivers, the Anio, which seems invited and detained 
in its course by the villas built along its banks, has almost entirely 
rooted up and carried away the woods which shaded its borders. 
It has overthrown whole mountains, and, in endeavouring to find 
a passage through the mass of ruins that obstructed its way, has 
forced down houses, and risen and spread over the desolation it 
has occasioned. The inhabitants of the hill countries, who are 
situated above the reach of this inundation, have been the melan- 
choly spectators of its dreadful effects, having seen costly furniture, 
instruments of husbandry, ploughs, and oxen with their drivers, 
whole herds of cattle, together with the trunks of trees, and beams 
of the neighbouring villas, floating about in different parts. Nor 
indeed have these higher places themselves, to which the waters 
could not reach up, escaped the calamity. A continued heavy rain 
and tempestuous hurricane, as destructive as the river itself, poured 
down upon them, and has destroyed all the enclosures which divided 
that fertile country. It has damaged likewise, and even overturned, 
some of the public buildings, by the fall of which great numbers 
have been maimed, smothered, bruised. And thus lamentation over 
the fate of friends has been added to losses. I am extremely uneasy 
lest this extensive ruin should have spread to you: I beg therefore, 


if it has not, you will immediately relieve my anxiety; and indeed 
I desire you would inform me though it should have done so; for 
the difference is not great between fearing a danger, and feeling it; 
except that the evil one feels has some bounds, whereas one's appre- 
hensions have none. For we can suffer no more than what actually 
has happened, but we fear all that possibly could happen. Farewell. 



The common notion is certainly quite a false one, that a man's 
will is a kind of mirror in which we may clearly discern his real 
character, for Domitius TuUus appears a much better man since 
his death than he did during his lifetime. After having artfully 
encouraged the expectations of those who paid court to him, with 
a view to being his heirs, he has left his estate to his niece whom 
he adopted. He has given likewise several very considerable legacies 
among his grandchildren, and also to his great-grandson. In a word, 
he has shewn himself a most kind relation throughout his whole 
will; which is so much the more to be admired as it was not 
expected of him. This affair has been very much talked about, and 
various opinions expressed: some call him false, ungrateful, and 
forgetful, and, while thus railing at him in this way as if they 
were actually disinherited kindred, betray their own dishonest de- 
signs: others, on the contrary, applaud him extremely for having 
disappointed the hopes of this infamous tribe of men, whom, con- 
sidering the disfxjsition of the times, it is but prudence to deceive. 
They add that he was not at liberty to make any other will, and 
that he cannot so properly be said to have bequeathed, as returned, 
his estate to his adopted daughter, since it was by her means it 
came to him. For Curtilius Mancia, whose daughter Domitius 
Lucanus, brother to this Tullus, married, having taken a dislike to 
his son-in-law, made this young lady (who was the issue of that 
marriage) his heiress, upon condition that Lucanus, her father, 
would emancipate her. He accordingly did so, but she being after- 
wards adopted by Tullus, her uncle, the design of Mancia's will 
was entirely frustrated. For these two brothers having never divided 

328 PLINY 

their patrimony, but living together as joint tenants of one common 
estate, the daughter of Lucanus, notwithstanding the act of emanci- 
pation, returned back again, together with her large fortune, under 
the dominion of her father, by means of this fraudulent adoption. 
It seems indeed to have been the fate of these two brothers to be 
enriched by those who had the greatest aversion to them. For 
Domitius Afer, by whom they were adopted, left a will in their 
favour, which he had made eighteen years before his death; though 
it was plain he had since altered his opinion with regard to the 
family, because he was instrumental in procuring the confiscation 
of their father's estate. There is something extremely singular in 
the resentment of Afer, and the good fortune of the other two; as 
it was very extraordinary, on the one hand, that Domitius should 
endeavour to extirpate from the privileges of society a man whose 
children he had adopted, and, on the other, that these brothers 
should find a parent in the very person that ruined their father. 
But Tullus acted justly, after having been appointed sole heir by 
his brother, in prejudice to his own daughter, to make her amends 
by transferring to her this estate, which came to him from Afer, 
as well as all the rest which he had gained in partnership with his 
brother. His will therefore deserves the higher praise, having been 
dictated by nature, justice, and sense of honour; in which he has 
returned his obligations to his several relations, according to their 
respective good offices towards him, not forgetting his wife, having 
bequeathed to that excellent woman, who patiently endured much 
for his sake, several delightful villas, besides a large sum of money. 
And indeed she deserved so much the more at his hands, in pro- 
portion to the displeasure she incurred on her marriage with him. 
It was thought unworthy a person of her birth and repute, so long 
left a widow by her former husband, by whom she had issue, to 
marry, in the decline of her life, an old man, merely for his wealth, 
and who was so sickly and infirm that, even had he passed the 
best years of his youth and health with her, she might well have 
been heartily tired of him. He had so entirely lost the use of all 
his limbs that he could not move himself in bed without assistance; 
and the only enjoyment he had of his riches was to contemplate them. 
He was even (sad and disgusting to relate) reduced to the necessity 


of having his teeth washed and scrubbed by others: in allusion to 
which he used frequently to say, when he was complaining of the 
indignities which his infirmities obliged him to suffer, that he was 
every day compelled to lick his servant's fingers. Still, however, he 
lived on, and was willing to accept of life upon such terms. That 
he lived so long as he did was particularly owing, indeed, to the 
care of his wife, who, whatever reputation she might lose at first 
by her marriage, acquired great honour by her unwearied devotion 
as his wife. — Thus I have given you all the news of the town, 
where nothing is talked of but Tullus. It is expected his curiosities 
will shortly be sold by auction. He had such an abundant collection 
of very old statues that he actually filled an extensive garden with 
them, the very same day he purchased it; not to mention numberless 
other antiques, lying neglected in his lumber-room. If you have 
anything worth telling me in return, I hof)e you will not refuse the 
trouble of writing to me: not only as we are all of us naturally fond, 
you know, of news, but because example has a very beneficial in- 
fluence upon our own conduct. Farewell. 


To Gallus 

Those works of art or nature which are usually the motives of 
our travels are often overlooked and neglected if they lie within 
our reach: whether it be that we are naturally less inquisitive con- 
cerning those things which are near us, while our curiosity is excited 
by remote objects; or because the easiness of gratifying a desire is 
always sure to damp it; or, perhaps, that we put off from time to 
time going and seeing what we know we have an opp)ortunity of 
seeing when we please. Whatever the reason be, it is certain there 
are numberless curiosities in and near Rome which we have not 
only never seen, but even never so much as heard of: and yet had 
they been the produce of Greece, or Egypt, or Asia, or any other 
country which we admire as fertile and productive of belief in 
wonders, we should long since have heard of them, read of them, 
and enquired into them. For myself at least, I confess, I have lately 
been entertained with one of these curiosities, to which I was an 

330 PLINY 

entire stranger before. My wife's grandfather desired I would look 
over his estate near Ameria.* As I was walking over his grounds, 
I was shewn a lake that lies below them, called Vadimon,' about 
which several very extraordinary things are told. I went up to this 
lake. It is perfectly circular in form, like a wheel lying on the ground; 
there is not the least curve or projection of the shore, but all is 
regular, even and just as if it had been hollowed and cut out by 
the hand of art. The water is of a clear sky-blue, though with 
somewhat of a greenish tinge; its smell is sulphurous, and its flavour 
has medicinal prof)erties, and is deemed of great efficacy in all 
fractures of the limbs, which it is supposed to heal. Though of 
but moderate extent, yet the winds have a great effect upon it, 
throwing it into violent agitation. No vessels are suffered to sail 
here, as its waters are held sacred; but several floating islands swim 
about it, covered with reeds and rushes, and with whatever other 
plants the surrounding marshy ground and the edge itself of the 
lake produce in greater abundance. Each island has its peculiar 
shaf)e and size, but the edges of all of them are worn away by 
their frequent collision with the shore and one another. They are 
all of the same height and motion; as their resjjective roots, which 
are formed like the keel of a boat, may be seen hanging not very 
far down in the water, and at an equal depth, on whichever side 
you stand. Sometimes they move in a cluster, and seem to form one 
entire little continent; sometimes they are dispersed into different 
quarters by the wind; at other times, when it is calm, they float 
up and down separately. You may frequently see one of the larger 
islands sailing along with a lesser joined to it, like a ship with its 
long boat; or, perhaps, seeming to strive which shall outswim the 
other: then again they are all driven to the same spot, and by 
joining themselves to the shore, sometimes on one side and some- 
times on the other, lessen or restore the size of the lake in this 
part or that, accordingly, till at last, uniting in the centre, they 
restore it to its usual size. The sheep which graze uf)on the borders 
of this lake frequently go upon these islands to feed, without per- 
ceiving that they have left the shore, until they are alarmed by 

' Now called Amelia, a town in Ombria. M 
' Now Lagheno di Bassano. M. 


finding themselves surrounded with water; as though they had been 
forcibly conveyed and placed there. Afterwards, when the wind 
drives them back again, they as little perceive their return as their 
departure. This lake empties itself into a river, which, after running 
a little way, sinks underground, and, if anything is thrown in, it 
brings it up again where the stream emerges. — I have given you this 
account because I imagined it would not be less new, nor less 
agreeable, to you than it was to me; as I know you take the same 
pleasure as myself in contemplating the works of nature. Farewell 


To Arrianus 

Nothing, in my opinion, gives a more amiable and becoming 
grace to our studies, as well as manners, than to temper the serious 
with the gay, lest the former should degenerate into melancholy, 
and the btter run up into levity. Upon this plan it is that I diversify 
my graver works with compositions of a lighter nature. I had 
chosen a convenient place and season for some productions of that 
sort to make their appearance in; and designing to accustom them 
early to the tables of the idle, I fixed upon the month of July, 
which is usually a time of vacation to the courts of justice, in order 
to read them to some of my friends I had collected together; and 
accordingly I placed a desk before each couch. But as I happened 
that morning to be unexpectedly called away to attend a cause, I 
took occasion to preface my recital with an apology. I entreated my 
audience not to impute it to me as any want of due regard for the 
business to which I had invited them that on the very day I had 
appointed for reading my performances to a small circle of my 
friends I did not refuse my services to others in their law affairs. 
I assured them I would observe the same rule in my writings, and 
should always give the preference to business before pleasure; to 
serious engagements before amusing ones; and to my friends before 
myself. The poems I recited consisted of a variety of subjects in 
different metres. It is thus that we who dare not rely for much 
upon our abilities endeavour to avoid satiating our readers. In 
compliance with the earnest solicitation of my audience, I recited 

332 PLINY 

for two days successively; but not in the manner that several prac- 
tise, by passing over the feebler passages, and making a merit of 
so doing: on the contrary, I omitted nothing, and freely confessed 
it. I read the whole, that I might correct the whole; which it is 
impossible those who only select particular passages can do. The 
latter method, indeed, may have more the appearance of modesty, 
and perhaps respect; but the former shows greater simplicity, as 
well as a more affectionate disposition towards the audience. For 
the belief that a man's friends have so much regard for him as not 
to be weary on these occasions, is a sure indication of the love 
he bears them. Otherwise, what good do friends do you who 
assemble merely for their own amusement? He who had rather 
find his friend's performance correct, than make it so, is to be 
regarded as a stranger, or one who is too lackadaisical to give him- 
self any trouble. Your affection for me leaves me no room to doubt 
that you are impatient to read my book, even in its present very 
imperfect condition. And so you shall, but not until I have made 
those corrections which were the principal inducement of my recital. 
You are already acquainted with some parts of it; but even those, 
after they have been improved (or f)erhaps sp)oiled, as is sometimes 
the case by the delay of excessive revision), will seem quite new to 
you. For when a piece has undergone various changes, it gets to 
look new, even in those very parts which remain unaltered. Farewell. 


To Maximus 

My affection for you obliges me, not indeed to direct you (for 
you are far above the want of a guide), but to admonish you care- 
fully to observe and resolutely to put in practice what you already 
know, that is, in other words, to know it to better pur[X)se. Con- 
sider that you are sent to that noble province, Achaia, the real and 
genuine Greece, where politeness, learning, and even agriculture 
itself, are supposed to have taken their first rise; sent to regulate 
the condition of free cities; sent, that is, to a society of men who 
breathe the spirit of true manhood and liberty; who have maintained 
the rights they received from Nature, by courage, by virtue, by 


alliances; in a word, by civil and religious faith. Revere the gods, 
their founders; their ancient glory, and even that very antiquity itself 
which, venerable in men, is sacred in states. Honour them there- 
fore for their deeds of old renown, nay, their very legendary 
traditions. Grant to everyone his full dignity, privileges, yes, and 
the indulgence of his very vanity. Remember it was from this 
nation we derived our laws; that she did not receive ours by con- 
quest, but gave us hers by favour. Remember it is Athens to which 
you go; it is Lacedxmon you govern; and to deprive such a people 
of the declining shadow, the remaining name of liberty, would be 
cruel, inhuman, barbarous. Physicians, you see, though in sickness 
there is no difference between freedom and slavery, yet treat per- 
sons of the former rank with more tenderness than those of the 
latter. Reflect what these cities once were; but so reflect as not to 
despise them for what they are now. Far be pride and asperity 
from my friend; nor fear, by a proper condescension, to lay yourself 
open to contempt. Can he who is vested with the f)ower and bears 
the ensigns of authority, can he fail of meeting with respect, unless 
by pursuing base and sordid measures, and first breaking through 
that reverence he owes to himself? Ill, believe me, is power proved by 
insult; ill can terror command veneration, and far more effectual is 
affection in obtaining one's purpose than fear. For terror operates no 
longer than its object is present, but love produces its effects with its 
object at a distance: and as absence changes the former into hatred, it 
raises the latter into respect. And therefore you ought (and I 
cannot but repeat it too often), you ought to well consider the 
nature of your office, and to represent to yourself how great and 
important the task is of governing a free state. For what can be 
better for society than such government, what can be more precious 
than freedom? How ignominious then must his conduct be who 
turns good government into anarchy, and liberty into slavery? To 
these considerations let me add that you have an established reputa- 
tion to maintain: the fame you acquired by the administration of 
the quxstorship in Bithynia,' the good opinion of the emperor, the 
credit you obtained when you were tribune and praetor, in a word, 
this very government, which may be looked upon as the reward 
'A province in Anatolia, or Asia Minor. M. 

334 PLINY 

of your former services, are all so many glorious weights which 
are incumbent upon you to support with suitable dignity. The 
more strenuously therefore you ought to endeavour that it may 
not be said you shewed greater urbanity, integrity, and ability in a 
province remote from Rome, than in one which lies so much nearer 
the capital; in the midst of a nation of slaves, than among a free 
people; that it may not be remarked that it was chance, and not 
judgment, appointed you to this office; that your character was 
unknown and unexperienced, not tried and approved. For (and it 
is a maxim which your reading and conversation must have often 
suggested to you) it is a far greater disgrace losing the name one 
has once acquired than never to have attained it. I again beg you 
to be persuaded that I did not write this letter with a design of 
instruction, but of reminder. Though, indeed, if I had, it would 
have only been in consequence of the great affection I bear you: 
a sentiment which I am in no fear of carrying beyond its just 
bounds: for there can be no danger of excess where one cannot love 
too well. Farewell. 


To Paulinus 

Others may think as they please; but the happiest man, in my 
opinion, is he who lives in the conscious anticipation of an honest 
and enduring name, and secure of future glory in the eyes of 
posterity. I confess, if I had not the reward of an immortal reputa- 
tion in view, I should prefer a life of uninterrupted ease and in- 
dolent retirement to any other. There seem to be two points worthy 
every man's attention: endless fame, or the short duration of life. 
Those who are actuated by the former motive ought to exert them- 
selves to the very utmost of their power; while such as are influenced 
by the latter should quietly resign themselves to repose, and not 
wear out a short life in perishable pursuits, as we see so many 
doing — and then sink at last into utter self-contempt, in the midst 
of a wretched and fruitless course of false industry. These are my 
daily reflections, which I communicate to you, in order to renounce 
them if you do not agree with them; as undoubtedly you will, 


who are for ever meditating some glorious and immortal enterprise. 


To Calvisius 

I HAVE spent these several days past, in reading and writing, with 
the most pleasing tranquillity imaginable. You will ask, "How that 
can possibly be in the midst of Rome?" It was the time of celebrating 
the Circensian games: an entertainment for which I have not the 
least taste. They have no novelty, no variety to recommend them, 
nothing, in short, one would wish to see twice. It does the more 
surprise me therefore that so many thousand people should be 
possessed with the childish passion of desiring so often to see a 
parcel of horses gallop, and men standing upright in their chariots. 
If, indeed, it were the swiftness of the horses, or the skill of the 
men that attracted them, there might be some pretence of reason 
for it. But it is the dress^ they like; it is the dress that takes their 
fancy. And if, in the midst of the course and contest, the different 
parties were to change colours, their different partisans would 
change sides, and instantly desert the very same men and horses 
whom just before they were eagerly following with their eyes, as 
far as they could see, and shouting out their names with all their 
might. Such mighty charms, such wondrous power reside in the 
colour of a paltry tunic! And this not only with the common crowd 
(more contemptible than the dress they espouse), but even with 
serious-thinking p)eople. When I observe such men thus insatiably 
fond of so silly, so low, so uninteresting, so common an entertain- 
ment, I congratulate myself on my indifference to these pleasures: 
and am glad to employ the leisure of this season upon my books, 
which others throw away upon the most idle occupations. Farewell. 

' The performers at these games were divided into compaoics, distinguished by the 
particular colour of tiicir habits; the principal of which were the white, the red, the 
blue, and the green. AccordinKly the spectators favoured one or the other colour, 
as humour and caprice inclined them. In the reign of Justinian a tumult arose in 
Constantinople, occasioned merely by a contention among the partiuos of these 
seveial colouit, wherein oo leu than 30,000 men lost their lives, ti. 




I AM pleased to find by your letter that you are engaged in build- 
ing; for I may now defend my own conduct by your example. 
I am myself employed in the same sort of work; and since I have 
you, who shall deny I have reason on my side? Our situations too 
are not dissimilar; your buildings are carried on upon the sea-coast, 
mine are rising upon the side of the Larian lake. I have several 
villas upon the borders of this lake, but there are two particularly 
in which as I take most delight, so they give me most employment. 
They are both situated like those at Bail' : one of them stands upon 
a rock, and overlooks the lake; the other actually touches it. The 
first, supported, as it were, by the lofty buskin,' I call my tragic; 
the other, as resting upon the humble rock, my comic villa. Each 
has its own peculiar charm, recommending it to its possessor so 
much more on account of this very difference. The former com- 
mands a wider, the latter enjoys a nearer view of the lake. One, 
by a gentle curve, embraces a little bay; the other, being built upon 
a greater height, forms two. Here you have a strait walk extending 
itself along the banks of the lake; there, a spacious terrace that 
falls by a gentle descent towards it. The former does not feel the 
force of the waves; the latter breaks them; from that you see the 
fishing-vessels; from this you may fish yourself, and throw your 
line out of your room, and almost from your bed, as from off a boat. 
It is the beauties therefore these agreeable villas possess that tempt 
me to add to them those which are wanting. — But I need not assign 
a reason to you, who, undoubtedly, will think it a sufficient one 
that I follow your example. Farewell. 

' Now called Castello di Baia, in Terra di Lavoro. It was the place the Romans 
chose for their winter retreat; and which they frequented upon account of its warm 
baths. Some few ruins of the beautiful villas that once covered this delightful coast still 
remain; and nothing can give one a higher idea of the prodigious expense and mag- 
nificence of the Romans in their private buildings than the manner in which some 
of these were situated. It appears from this letter, as well as from several other 
passages in the classic writers, that they actually projected into the sea, being erected 
upon vast piles sunk for that purpose. M. 

' The buskin was a kind of high shoe worn upon the stage by the actors of tragedy, 
in order to give them a more heroical elevation of stature; as the sock was something 
between a shoe and stocking, it was appropriated to the comic players. M. 



To Geminus 

Your letter was particularly acceptable to me, as it mentioned 
your desire that I would send you something of mine, addressed 
to you, to insert in your works. I shall find a more appropriate 
occasion of complying with your request than that which you 
propose, the subject you point out to me being attended with some 
objections; and when you reconsider it, you will think so. — As I 
did not imagine there were any booksellers at Lugdunum,' I am 
so much the more pleased to learn that my works are sold there. 
I rejoice to find they maintain the character abroad which they 
raised at home, and I begin to flatter myself they have some merit, 
since persons of such distant countries are agreed in their opinion 
with regard to them. Farewell. 

To Junior 

A CERTAIN friend of mine lately chastised his son, in my presence, 
for being somewhat too expensive in the matter of dogs and horses. 
"And pray," I asked him, when the youth had left us, "did you 
never commit a fault yourself which deserved your father's cor- 
rection? Did you never? I repeat. Nay, are you not sometimes 
even now guilty of errors which your son, were he in your place, 
might with equal gravity reprove? Are not all mankind subject to 
indiscretions? And have we not each of us our particular follies 
in which we fondly indulge ourselves?" 

The great affection I have for you induced me to set this instance 
of unreasonable severity before you — a caution not to treat your son 
with too much harshness and severity. Consider, he is but a boy, 
and that there was a time when you were so too. In exerting, 
therefore, the authority of a father, remember always that you are 
a man, and the parent of a man. Farewell. 


338 PLINY 



The pleasure and attention with which you read the vindication 
I published of Helvidius,' has greatly raised your curiosity, it seems, 
to be informed of those particulars relating to that affair, which 
are not mentioned in the defence; as you were too young to be 
present yourself at that transaction. When Domitian was assas- 
sinated, a glorious opportunity, I thought, offered itself to me of 
pursuing the guilty, vindicating the injured, and advancing my own 
reputation. But amidst an infinite variety of the blackest crimes, 
none appeared to me more atrocious than that a senator, of prxtorian 
dignity, and invested with the sacred character of a judge, should, 
even in the very senate itself, lay violent hands upon a member' 
of that body, one of consular rank, and who then stood arraigned 
before him. Besides this general consideration, I also happened to 
be on terms of particular intimacy with Helvidius, as far as this 
was possible with one who, through fear of the times, endeavoured 
to veil the lustre of his fame, and his virtues, in obscurity and 
retirement. Arria likewise, and her daughter Fannia, who was 
mother-in-law to Helvidius, were in the number of my friends. 
But it was not so much private attachments as the honour of the 
pubhc, a just indignation at the action, and the danger of the 
example if it should pass unpunished, that animated me upon the 
occasion. At the first restoration of liberty,' every man singled out 
his own particular enemy (though it must be confessed, those only 
of a lower rank), and, in the midst of much clamour and confusion, 
no sooner brought the charge than procured the condemnation. But 
for myself, I thought it would be more reasonable and more 
effectual, not to take advantage of the general resentment of the 
public, but to crush this criminal with the single weight of his 
own enormous guilt. When therefore the first heat of public in- 
dignation began to cool, and declining passion gave way to justice, 

' He was accused of treason, under pretence that in a dramatic piece which he 
composed he had, in the characters of Paris and CEnone, reflected upon Domitian for 
divorcing his wife Domitia. Suet, in Vit. Domit. c. 10. M. 'Helvidius. 

* Upon the accession of Nerva to the empire, after the death of Domitian. M. 


though I was at that time under great affliction for the loss o£ my 
wife,* I sent to Anteia, the widow of Helvidius, and desired her 
to come to me, as my late misfortune prevented me from appearing 
in public. When she arrived, I said to her, "I am resolved not to 
suffer the injuries your husband has received, to pass unrevenged; 
let Arria and Fannia" (who were just returned from exile) "know 
this; and consider together whether you would care to join with me 
in the prosecution. Not that I want an associate, but I am not so 
jealous of my own glory as to refuse to share it with you in this 
affair," She accordingly carried this message; and they all agreed 
to the proposal without the least hesitation. It happened very 
opportunely that the senate was to meet within three days. It was 
a general rule with me to consult, in all my affairs, with Corellius, 
a person of the greatest far-sightedness and wisdom this age has 
produced. However, in the present case, I relied entirely upon my 
own discretion, being apprehensive he would not approve of my 
design, as he was very cautious and deliberate. But though I did 
not previously take counsel with him (experience having taught 
me never to do so with a person concerning a question we have 
already determined, where he has a right to expect that one shall 
be decided by his judgment), yet I could not forbear acquainting 
him with my resolution at the time I intended to carry it into 
execution. The senate being assembled, I came into the house, and 
begged I might have leave to make a motion; which I did in few 
words, and with general assent. When I began to touch ufxjn the 
charge, and point out the person I intended to accuse (though as 
yet without mentioning him by name), I was attacked on all sides. 
"Let us know," exclaims one, "who is the subject of this informal 
motion?" "Who is it," asked another, "that is thus accused, with- 
out acquainting the house with his name, and his crime?" "Surely," 
added a third, "we who have survived the late dangerous times 
may expect now, at least, to remain in security." I heard all this 
with perfect calmness, and without being in the least alarmed. Such 
is the effect of conscious integrity; and so much difference is there 
with respect to inspiring confidence or fear, whether the world 

* Our author's first wife, of whom we hare do particular account. After her death, 
be married his favourite, Calpumia. M. 

340 PLINY 

had only rather one should forbear a certain act, or absolutely con- 
demns it It would be too tedious to relate all that was advanced, 
by different parties, upon this occasion. At length the consul said, 
"You will be at liberty, Secundus, to propose what you think proper 
when your turn comes to give your opinion upon the order of the 
day.'" I replied, "You must allow me a liberty which you never 
yet refused to any"; and so sat down: when immediately the house 
went upon another business. In the meanwhile, one of my consular 
friends took me aside, and, with great earnestness telling me he 
thought I had carried on this affair with more boldness than pru- 
dence, used every method of reproof and persuasion to prevail with 
me to desist; adding at the same time that I should certainly, if 
I persevered, render myself obnoxious to some future prince. "Be 
it so," I returned, "should he prove a bad one." Scarcely had he 
left me when a second came up: "Whatever," said he, "are you 
attempting? Why ever will you ruin yourself? Do you consider 
the risks you expose yourself to? Why will you presume too much 
on the present situation of public affairs, when it is so uncertain 
what turn they may hereafter take? You are attacking a man who 
is actually at the head of the treasury, and will shortly be consul. 
Besides, recollect what credit he has, and with what powerful friend- 
ships he is supported." Upon which he named a certain person, who 
(not without several strong and suspicious rumours) was then at 
the head of a powerful army in the east. I replied, 

" 'All I've foreseen, and oft in thought revolv'd';' 

and am willing, if fate shall so decree, to suffer in an honest cause, 
provided I can draw vengeance down upon a most infamous one." 
The time for the members to give their opinions was now arrived. 
Domitius Apollinaris, the consul elect, spoke first; after him 
Fabricius Vejento, then Fabius Maximinus, Vettius Proculus next 
(who married my wife's mother, and who was the colleague of 
Publicius Certus, the person on whom the debate turned), and 
last of all Ammius Flaccus. They all defended Certus as if I had 

' It is very remarkable that, when any senator was asked his opinion in the house, 
he had the privilege of speaking as long as he pleased upon any other affair before 
he came to the point in question. Aul. Gell. lib. iv., c. lo. M. 
'i£aeid, lib. vi, v. 105. 


named him (though I had not yet so much as once mentioned him), 
and entered upon his justification as if I had exhibited a specific 
charge. It is not necessary to repeat in this place what they respec- 
tively said, having given it all at length in their words, in the 
speech above-mentioned. Avidius Quietus and Cornutus TertuUus 
answered them. The former observed, "that it was extremely unjust 
not to hear the complaints of those who thought themselves injured, 
and therefore that Arria and Fannia ought not to be denied the 
privilege of laying their grievances before the house; and that the 
point for the consideration of the senate was not the rank of the 
person, but the merit of the cause." 

Then Cornutus rose up and acquainted the house, "that, as he 
was appointed guardian to the daughter of Helvidius by the con- 
suls, upon the petition of her mother and her father-in-law, he felt 
himself compelled to fulfil the duty of his trust. In the execution 
of which, however, he would endeavour to set some bounds to his 
indignation by following that great example of moderation which 
those excellent women' had set, who contented themselves with 
barely informing the senate of the cruelties which Certus com- 
mitted in order to carry on his infamous adulation; and therefore," 
he said, "he would move only that, if a punishment due to a crime 
so notoriously known should be remitted, Certus might at least 
be branded with some mark of the displeasure of that august 
assembly." Satrius Rufus spoke next, and, meaning to steer a middle 
course, expressed himself with considerable ambiguity. "I am of 
opinion," said he, "that great injustice will be done to Certus if 
he is not acquitted (for I do not scruple to mention his name, since 
the friends of Arria and Fannia, as well as his own, have done so 
too), nor indeed have we any occasion for anxiety up)on this account. 
We who think well of the man shall judge him with the same 
impartiality as the rest; but if he is innocent, as I hope he is, and 
shall be glad to find, I think this house may very justly deny the 
present motion till some charge has been proved against him." 
Thus, according to the respective order in which they were called 
upon, they delivered their several opinions. When it came to my 
turn, I rose up, and, using the same introduction to my speech as 

^ Arria and Fannia. 

342 PLIhfY 

I have published in the defence, I rephed to them severally. It is 
surprising with what attention, what clamorous applause I was 
heard, even by those who just before were loudest against me: 
such a wonderful change was wrought either by the importance 
of the affair, the successful progress of the speech, or the resolution 
of the advocate. After I had finished, Vejento attempted to reply; 
but the general clamour raised against him not permitting him 
to go on, "I entreat you, conscript fathers,'" said he, "not to oblige 
me to implore the assistance of the tribunes.'" Immediately the 
tribune Murena cried out, "You have my permission, most illustrious 
Vejento, to go on." But still the clamour was renewed. In the in- 
terval, the consul ordered the house to divide, and having counted 
the voices, dismissed the senate, leaving Vejento in the midst, 
still attempting to speak. He made great complaints of this affront 
(as he called it), applying the following lines of Homer to himself: 

"Great perils, father, wait the unequal fight; 
Those younger champions will thy strength o'ercome."'* 

There was hardly a man in the senate that did not embrace and 
kiss me, and all strove who should applaud me most, for having, 
at the cost of private enmities, revived a custom so long disused, 
of freely consulting the senate upon affairs that concern the honour 
of the public; in a word, for having wiped off that reproach which 
was thrown upon it by other orders in the state, "that the senators 
mutually favoured the members of their own body, while they 
were very severe in animadverting upxsn the rest of their fellow- 
citizens." All this was transacted in the absence of Certus; who 
kept out of the way either because he suspected something of this 
nature was intended to be moved, or (as was alleged in his excuse) 
that he was really unwell. Qesar, however, did not refer the ex- 
amination of this matter to the senate. But I succeeded, nevertheless, 
in my aim, another person being appointed to succeed Certus in 
the consulship, while the election of his colleague to that ofl5ce was 

' The appellation by which the senate was addreucd. M. 

'The tribunes were magistrates chosen at first out o( the body of the commons, 
for the defence of their liberties, and to interpose in all RrieTances offered by their 
superiors. Their authority extended even to the deliberations of the senate. M. 

'" Diomed's speech to Nestor, advising him to retire from the field of battle. Iliad, 
viii. 102. Pope. M. 


confirmed. And thus, the wish with which I concluded my speech, 
was actually accomplished: "May he be obliged," said I, "to re- 
nounce, under a virtuous prince," that reward he received from an 
infamous one!"" Some time after I recollected, as well as I could, 
the speech I had made upon this occasion; to which I made several 
additions. It happened (though indeed it had the appearance of 
being something more than casual) that a few days after I had 
published this piece, Certus was taken ill and died. I was told 
that his imagination was continually haunted with this affair, and 
kept picturing me ever before his eyes, as a man pursuing him with 
a drawn sword. Whether there was any truth in this rumour, I 
will not venture to assert; but, for the sake of example, however, 
I could wish it might gain credit. And now I have sent you a 
letter which (considering it is a letter) is as long as the defence you 
say you have read: but you must thank yourself for not being con- 
tent with such information as that piece could afford you. Farewell. 


To Genitor 

I HAVE received your letter, in which you complain of having 
been highly disgusted lately at a very splendid entertainment, by 
a set of buffoons, mummers, and wanton prostitutes, who were 
dancing about round the tables.' But let me advise you to smooth 

" Nerva. 

'^Domitian; by whom he had been appointed consul elect, though he had not yet 
entered upon that office. M. 

' These persons were introduced at most of the tables of the great, for the purposes 
of mirth and gaiety, and constituted an essential part in all polite entertainments 
among the Romans. It is surprising how soon this great people fell off from their 
original severity of manners, and were tainted with the stale refinements of foreign 
luxury. Livy dates the nse of this and other unmanly delicacies from the conquest of 
Scipio Asiaticus over Antiochus; that is, when the Roman name had scarce subsisted 
above a hundred and threescore years. "Luxuriir perrgrinte origo," says he, "excrcitu 
Asiatico in urbem invecia ett." This triumphant army caught, it seems, the con- 
tagious softness of the people it subdued; and, on its return to Rome, spread an 
infection among their countrymen, which worked by slow degrees, till it effected their 
total destruction. Thus did Eastern luxury revenge itself on Roman arms. It may be 
wondered that Pliny should keep his own temper, and check the indignation of his 
friends, at a scene which was fit only for the dissolute revels of the infamous Tri- 
malchio. But it will not, perhaps, be doing justice to our author to take an estimate 
of his real sentiments upon this point from the letter before us. Genitor, it seems, was 
a man of strict, but rather of too austere morals for the free turn of the age: 
"emendatut cl gravis: pauio etiam honidior et durior ut t» hac Ucentia temporum" 

344 PLINY 

your knitted brow somewhat. I confess, indeed, I admit nothing of 
this kind at my own house; however, I bear with it in others. 
"And why, then," you will be ready to ask, "not have them your- 
self?" The truth is, because the gestures of the wanton, the 
pleasantries of the buffoon, or the extravagancies of the mummer, 
give me no pleasure, as they give me no surprise. It is my particular 
taste, you see, not my judgment, that I plead against them. And, 
indeed, what numbers are there who think the entertainments 
with which you and I are most delighted no better than impertinent 
follies! How many are there who, as soon as a reader, a lyrist, or a 
comedian is introduced, either take their leave of the company or, 
if they remain, shew as much dislike to this sort of thing as you 
did to those monsters, as you call them! Let us bear therefore, my 
friend, with others in their amusements, that they, in retiu-n, may 
shew indulgence to ours. Farewell. 


To Sabinianus 

Yoim freedman, whom you lately mentioned to me with dis- 
pleasure, has been with me, and threw himself at my feet with as 
much submission as he could have fallen at yours. He earnesdy 
requested me with many tears, and even with all the eloquence of 
silent sorrow, to intercede for him; in short, he convinced me by 
his whole behaviour that he sincerely repents of his fault. I am 
persuaded he is thoroughly reformed, because he seems deeply 
sensible of his guilt. I know you are angry with him, and I know, 
too, it is not without reason; but clemency can never exert itself 
more laudably than when there is the most cause for resentment. 
You once had an affection for this man, and, I hope, will have 
again; meanwhile, let me only prevail with you to pardon him. 
If he should incur your displeasure hereafter, you will have so 
much the stronger plea in excuse for your anger as you shew 
(Ep. iii., I. 3). But as there is a certain seasonable accommodation to the manners 
of the times, not only extremely consistent with, but highly conducive to, the interests 
of virtue, Pliny, probably, may affect a greater latitude than he in general approved, 
in order to draw off his friend from that stiffness and unyielding disposition which 
might prejudice those of a gayer turn against him, and consequently lessen the 
beneficial influence of his virtues upon the world, M. 


yourself more merciful to him now. Concede something to his 
youth, to his tears, and to your own natural mildness of temper: 
do not make him uneasy any longer, and I will add, too, do not 
make yourself so; for a man of your kindness of heart cannot be 
angry without feeling great uneasiness. I am afraid, were I to join 
my entreaties with his, I should seem rather to compel than request 
you to forgive him. Yet I will not scruple even to write mine with 
his; and in so much the stronger terms as I have very sharply and 
severely reproved him, positively threatening never to interpose again 
in his behalf. But though it was proper to say this to him, in order 
to make him more fearful of offending, I do not say so to you. 
I may, perhaps, again have occasion to entreat you upon his account, 
and again obtain your forgiveness; supf)osing, I mean, his fault 
should be such as may become me to intercede for, and you to 
pardon. Farewell. 


To Maximus 

It has frequently happened, as I have been pleading before the 
Court of the Hundred, that these venerable judges, after having pre- 
served for a long period the gravity and solemnity suitable to their 
character, have suddenly, as though urged by irresistible impulse, 
risen up to a man and applauded me. I have often likewise gained as 
much glory in the senate as my utmost wishes could desire: but I 
never felt a more sensible pleasure than by an account which I lately 
received from Cornelius Tacitus. He informed me that, at the last 
Circensian games, he sat next to a Roman knight, who, after conver- 
sation had passed between them upwn various pxjints of learning, 
asked him, "Are you an Italian, or a provincial?" Tacitus replied, 
"Your acquaintance with literature must surely have informed you 
who I am." "Pray, then, is it Tacitus or Pliny I am talking with.?" 
I cannot express how highly I am pleased to find that our names are 
not so much the proper appellatives of men as a kind of distinction 
for learning herself; and that eloquence renders us known to those 
who would otherwise be ignorant of us. An accident of the same 
kind happened to me a few days ago. Fabius Rufinus, a person 

346 PLINY 

of distinguished merit, was placed next to me at table; and below 
him a countryman of his, who had just then come to Rome for the 
first time. Rufinus, calUng his friend's attention to me, said to him, 
"You see this man?" and entered into a conversation upon the 
subject of my pursuits: to whom the other immediately replied, 
"This must undoubtedly be Phny." To confess the truth, I look 
upon these instances as a very considerable recompense of my la- 
bours. If Demosthenes had reason to be pleased with the old woman 
of Athens crying out, "This is Demosthenes!" may not I, then, be 
allowed to congratulate myself upon the celebrity my name has 
acquired? Yes, my friend, I will rejoice in it, and without scruple 
admit that I do. As I only mention the judgment of others, not my 
own, I am not afraid of incurring the censure of vanity; especially 
from you, who, whilst envying no man's reputation, are particularly 
zealous for mine. Farewell. 


To Sabinianus 

I GREATLY approvc of your having, in compliance with my letter,' 
received again into your favour and family a discarded freedman, 
whom you once admitted into a share of your affection. This will 
afford you, I doubt not, great satisfaction. It certainly has me, both 
as a proof that your passion can be controlled, and as an instance of 
your paying so much regard to me as either to yield to my authority 
or to comply with my request. Let me, therefore, at once both 
praise and thank you. At the same time I must advise you to be 
disposed for the future to pardon the faults of your people, though 
there should be none to intercede in their behalf. Farewell. 



I SAID once (and, I think, not inaptly) of a certain orator of the 
present age, whose compositions are extremely regular and correct, 

• See letter ciii. 


but deficient in grandeur and embellishment, "His only fault is 
that he has none." Whereas he, who is possessed of the true spirit 
of oratory, should be bold and elevated, and sometimes even flame 
out, be hurried away, and frequently tread upon the brink of a preci- 
pice: for danger is generally near whatever is towering and exalted. 
The plain, it is true, affords a safer, but for that reason a more 
humble and inglorious, path: they who run are more likely to 
stumble than they who creep; but the latter gain no honour by not 
slipping, while the former even fall with glory. It is with eloquence 
as with some other arts; she is never more pleasing than when she 
risks most. Have you not observed what acclamations our rope- 
dancers excite at the instant of imminent danger? Whatever is 
most entirely unexpected, or, as the Greeks more strongly express it, 
whatever is most perilous, most excites our admiration. The pilot's 
skill is by no means equally proved in a calm as in a storm: in the 
former case he tamely enters the pxjrt, unnoticed and unapplauded; 
but when the cordage cracks, the mast bends, and the rudder groans, 
then it is that he shines out in all his glory, and is hailed as little 
inferior to a sea-god. 

The reason of my making this observation is, because, if I mis- 
take not, you have marked some passages in my writings for being 
tumid, exuberant, and overwrought, which, in my estimation, are but 
adequate to the thought, or boldly sublime. But it is material to 
consider whether your criticism turns Uf)on such points as are real 
faults, or only striking and remarkable expressions. Whatever is 
elevated is sure to be observed; but it requires a very nice judgment 
to distinguish the bounds between true and false grandeur; between 
loftiness and exaggeration. To give an instance out of Homer, the 
author who can, with the greatest propriety, fly from one extreme 
of style to another: 

"Heav'n in loud thunder bids the trumpet sound; 
And wide beneath them groans the rending ground."' 


"Redin'd on clouds his steed and armour lay."* 

' Iliad, xxi. 387. Pope. M. 

' Iliad, V. 356, speaking of Mars. hi. 

348 PLINY 

So in this passage: 

"As torrents roll, increas'd by numerous rills. 
With rage imf>etuous down their echoing hills, 
Rush to the vales, and pour'd along the plain. 
Roar through a thousand channels to the main."* 

It requires, I say, the nicest balance to poise these metaphors, and 
determine whether they are incredible and meaningless, or majestic 
and sublime. Not that I think anything which I have written, or can 
write, admits of comparison with these. I am not quite so foolish; 
but what I would be understood to contend for is, that we should 
give eloquence free rein, and not restrain the force and impetuosity 
of genius within too narrow a compass. But it will be said, perhaps, 
that one law applies to orators, another to poets. As if, in truth, 
Marc-Tully were not as bold in his metaphors as any of the poets! 
But not to mention particular instances from him, in a point where, 
I imagine, there can be no dispute; does Demosthenes* himself, that 
model and standard of true oratory, does Demosthenes check and 
repress the fire of his indignation, in that well-known passage which 
begins thus? — "These wicked men, these flatterers, and these de- 
stroyers of mankind," &c. — And again: "It is neither with stones nor 
bricks that I have fortified this city," &c. — And afterwards: "I have 
thrown up these outworks before Attica, and pointed out to you all 
the resources which human prudence can suggest," &c. — And in 
another place: "O Athenians, I swear by the immortal gods that he 
is intoxicated with the grandeur of his own actions," &c.' — But what 
can be more daring and beautiful than that long digression which 
begins in this manner: "A terrible disease"? — The following passage 
likewise, though somewhat shorter, is equally boldly conceived: 
"Then it was I rose up in opposition to the daring Pytho, who poured 

'Iliad, iv. 452. Pope. 

*Thc design of Pliny in this letter is to iustify the figurative expressions he bad 
employed, probably in some oration, by instances of the same warmth of colouring 
from those great masters of eloquence, Demosthenes and his rival, itschines. But the 
force of the passages which he produces from these orators must necessarily be greatly 
weakened to a mere modern reader, some of them being only hinted at, as generally 
well known; and the metaphors in several of the others have either lost much of 
their original spirit and boldness, by being introduced and received in common 
language, or cannot, perhaps, be preserved in an English translation. M. 

'See 1st Philippic 


forth a torrent of menaces against you," &c.' — The subsequent stric- 
ture is of the same stamp: "When a man has strengthened himself, 
as Philip has, in avarice and wickedness, the first pretence, the first 
false step, be it ever so inconsiderable, has overthrown and destroyed 
all," &c.' — So in the same style with the foregoing is this: "Railed off, 
as it were, from the privileges of society, by the concurrent and just 
judgments of the three tribunals in the city." — And in the same 
place: "O Aristogiton! you have betrayed that mercy which used 
to be shewn to offences of this nature, or rather, indeed, you have 
wholly destroyed it. In vain then would you fly for refuge to a 
port, which you have shut up, and encompassed with rocks." — He 
has said before: "I am afraid, therefore, you should appear, in the 
judgment of some, to have erected a public seminary of faction: for 
there is a weakness in all wickedness which renders it apt to betray 
itself!" — And a little lower: "I see none of these resources open 
to him; but all is precipice, gulf, and profound abyss." — And again: 
"Nor do I imagine that our ancestors erected those courts of judica- 
ture that men of his character should be planted there, but, on the 
contrary, eradicated, that none may emulate their evil actions." — 
And afterwards: "If he is then the artificer of every wickedness, if 
he only makes it his trade and traffic," &c. — And a thousand other 
passages which I might cite to the same purpose; not to mention 
those expressions which yEschines calls not words, but tvonders. — 
You will tell me, perhaps, I have unwarily mentioned ^Eschines, 
since Demosthenes is condemned even by him, for running into 
these figurative expressions. But observe I entreat you, how far 
superior the former orator is to his critic, and superior too in the 
very passage to which he objects; for in others, the force of his 
genius, in those above quoted, its loftiness, makes itself manifest. 
But does ^schines himself avoid those errors which he reproves 
in Demosthenes? "The orator," says he, "Athenians, and the law, 
ought to spea\ the same language; but when the voice of the law 
declares one thing, and that of the orator another, we should give 
our vote to the justice. of the law, not to the impudence of the 
orator."' — And in another place: "He afterwards manifestly dis- 

• See Demosthenes' speech in defence of Ctcsiphon. ^ See 2nd Olynthiac. 
' Sec i£schines' speech against Ctesiphon. 

350 PLI>fY 

covered the design he had, of concealing his fraud under cover of 
the decree, having expressly declared therein that the ambassadors 
sent to the Oreta: gave the five talents, not to you, but to Callias. 
And that you may be convinced of the truth of what I say (after 
having stripped the decree of its galleys, its trim, and its arrogant 
ostentation), read the clause itself." — And in another part: "Suffer 
him not to breaks cover and escape out of the limits of the question." 
A metaphor he is so fond of that he repeats it again. "But remaining 
firm and confident in the assembly, drive him into the merits of the 
question, and observe well how he doubles." — Is his style more re- 
served and simple when he says: "But you are ever wounding our 
ears, and are more concerned in the success of your daily harangues 
than for the salvation of the city" ? — What follows is conceived in a 
yet higher strain of metaphor: "Will you not expel this man as the 
common calamity of Greece? Will you not seize and punish this 
pirate of the state, who sails about in quest of favourable conjunc- 
tures," tic. — With many other passages of a similar nature. And 
now I expect you will make the same attacks upon certain expres- 
sions in this letter as you did upon those I have been endeavouring to 
defend. The rudder that groans, and the pilot compared to a sea-god, 
will not, I imagine, escape your criticism: for I perceive, while I 
am suing for indulgence to my former style, I have fallen into the 
same kind of figurative diction which you condemn. But attack 
them if you please, provided you will immediately appoint a day 
when we may meet to discuss these matters in person: you will then 
either teach me to be less daring or I shall teach you to be more bold. 


To Caninius 

I HAVE met with a story, which, although authenticated by un- 
doubted evidence, looks very like fable, and would afford a worthy 
field for the exercise of so exuberant, lofty, and truly poetical a 
genius as your own. It was related to me the other day over the 
dinner table, where the conversation happened to run upon various 
kinds of marvels. The person who told the story was a man of 


unsuspected veracity: but what has a poet to do with truth? How- 
ever, you might venture to rely upon his testimony, even though 
you had the character of a faithful historian to support. There is in 
Africa a town called Hippo, situated not far from the sea<oast: it 
stands upon a navigable lake, communicating with an estuary in the 
form of a river, which alternately flows into the lake, or into the 
ocean, according to the ebb and flow of the tide. People of all ages 
amuse themselves here with fishing, sailing, or swimming; especially 
boys, whom love of play brings to the spot. With these it is a fine 
and manly achievement to be able to swim the farthest; and he that 
leaves the shore and his companions at the greatest distance gains 
the victory. It happened, in one of these trials of skill, that a certain 
boy, bolder than the rest, launched out towards the opposite shore. 
He was met by a dolphin, who sometimes swam before him, and 
sometimes behind him, then played round him, and at last took 
him upon his back, and set him down, and afterwards took him up 
again; and thus he carried the poor frightened fellow out into the 
deepest part; when immediately he turns back again to the shore, 
and lands him among his companions. The fame of this remarkable 
accident spread through the town, and crowds of people flocked 
round the boy (whom they viewed as a kind of prodigy) to ask 
him questions and hear him relate the story. The next day the 
shore was thronged with spectators, all attentively watching the 
ocean, and (what indeed is almost itself an ocean) the lake. Mean- 
while the boys swam as usual, and among the rest, the boy I am 
speaking of went into the lake, but with more caution than before. 
The dolphin appeared again and came to the boy, who, together 
with his companions, swam away with the utmost precipitation. 
The dolphin, as though to invite and call them back, leaped and 
dived up and down, in a series of circular movements. This he 
practised the next day, the day after, and for several days together, 
till the people (accustomed from their infancy to the sea) began to 
be ashamed of their timidity. They ventured, therefore, to advance 
nearer, playing with him and calling him to them, while he, in 
return, suffered himself to be touched and stroked. Use rendered 
them courageous. The boy, in particular, who first made the experi- 
ment, swam by the side of him, and leaping upon his back, was 

352 PLINY 

carried backwards and forwards in that manner, and thought the 
dolphin knew him and was fond of him, while he too had grown 
fond of the dolphin. There seemed now, indeed, to be no fear on 
either side, the confidence of the one and tameness of the other 
mutually increasing; the rest of the boys, in the meanwhile, sur- 
rounding and encouraging their companion. It is very remarkable 
that this dolphin was followed by a second, which seemed only as a 
spectator and attendant on the former; for he did not at all submit 
to the same famiUarities as the first, but only escorted him back- 
wards and forwards, as the boys did their comrade. But what is 
further surprising, and no less true than what I have already related, 
is that this dolphin, who thus played with the boys and carried them 
upon his back, would come upon the shore, dry himself in the sand, 
and, as soon as he grew warm, roll back into the sea. It is a fact 
that Octavius Avitus, deputy governor of the province, actuated by 
an absurd piece of superstition, poured some ointment' over him as 
he lay on the shore: the novelty and smell of which made him 
retire into the ocean, and it was not till several days after that he 
was seen again, when he appeared dull and languid; however, he 
recovered his strength and continued his usual playful tricks. All 
the magistrates round flocked hither to view this sight, whose arrival 
and prolonged stay, was an additional expense, which the slender 
finances of this litde community would ill afford; besides, the quiet 
and retirement of the place was utterly destroyed. It was thought 
proper, therefore, to remove the occasion of this concourse, by pri- 
vately killing the poor dolphin. And now, with what a flow of 
tenderness will you describe this affecting catastrophe!' and how 
will your genius adorn and heighten this moving story! Though, 
indeed, the subject does not require any fictitious embellishments; 

' It was a religious ceremony practised by the ancients to pour precious ointments 
upon the statues of their gods: Avitus, it is probable, imagined this dolphin was some 
sea-divinity, and therefore expressed his veneration of him by the solemnity of a 
sacred unction. M. 

' The overflowing humanity of Pliny's temper breaks out upon all occasions, but 
he discovers it in nothing more strongly than by the impression which this little 
story appears to have made upon him. True benevolence, indeed, extends itself 
through the whole compass of existence, and sympathizes with the distress of every 
creature of sensation. Little minds may be apt to consider a compassion of this 
inferior kind as an instance of weakness; but it is undoubtedly the evidence of a noble 
nature. Homer thought it not unbecoming the character even of a hero to melt into 


it will be suflficient to describe the actual facts of the case without 
suppression or diminution. Farewell. 


To Fuscus 

You want to know how I portion out my day, in my summer 
villa at Tuscum? I get up just when I please; generally about 
sunrise, often earlier, but seldom later than this. I keep the shutters 
closed, as darkness and silence wonderfully promote meditation. 
Thus free and abstracted from those outward objects which dissipate 
attention, I am left to my own thoughts; nor suffer my mind to 
wander with my eyes, but keep my eyes in subjection to my mind, 
which, when they are not distracted by a multiplicity of external 
objects, see nothing but what the imagination represents to them. 
If I have any work in hand, this is the time I choose for thinking it 
out, word for word, even to the minutest accuracy of expression. In 
this way I compose more or less, according as the subject is more or 
less difficult, and I find myself able to retain it. I then call my 
secretary, and, opening the shutters, dictate to him what I have put 
into shape, after which I dismiss him, then call him in again, and 
again dismiss him. About ten or eleven o'clock (for I do not observe 
one fixed hour), according to the weather, I either walk upon my 
terrace or in the covered portico, and there I continue to meditate 
or dictate what remains upon the subject in which I am engaged. 
This completed, I get into my chariot, where I employ myself as 
before, when I was walking, or in my study; and find this change of 
scene refreshes and keeps up my attention. On my return home, I 
take a litde nap, then a walk, and after that repeat out loud and 
distinctly some Greek or Latin speech, not so much for the sake of 

tears at a dbtress of this sort, and has fnvcn us a most amiable and affecting picture 
of Ulysses weeping over his faithful dog Argus, when he expires at his feet: 

^ta \ajOCtv Ef'/iatoi'. . . . 
"Soft pity touch'd the mighty master's soul; 
Adown his cheek the tear unbidden stole. 
Stole unperceived; he turn'd his head and dry'd 
The drop humane. . . ." 

(Odyss. Tvii. Pope.) M. 

354 PLINY 

strengthening my voice as my digestion;' though indeed the voice 
at the same time is strengthened by this practice. I then take another 
walk, am anointed, do my exercises, and go into the bath. At supper, 
if I have only my wife or a few friends with me, some author is 
read to us; and after supper we are entertained either with music 
or an interlude. When that is finished, I take my walk with my 
family, among whom I am not without some scholars. Thus we pass 
our evenings in varied conversation; and the day, even when at the 
longest, steals imperceptibly away. Upon some occasions I change 
the order in certain of the articles above-mentioned. For instance, 
if I have studied longer or walked more than usual, after my second 
sleep, and reading a speech or two aloud, instead of using my chariot 
I get on horseback; by which means I ensure as much exercise and 
lose less time. The visits of my friends from the neighbouring villages 
claim some part of the day; and sometimes, by an agreeable inter- 
ruption, they come in very seasonably to relieve me when I am 
feeling tired. I now and then amuse myself with hunting, but always 
take my tablets into the field, that, if I should meet with no game, 
I may at least bring home something. Part of my time too (though 
not so much as they desire) is allotted to my tenants; whose rustic 
complaints, along with these city occupations, make my literary 
studies still more delightful to me. Farewell. 


To Paulinus 

As you are not of a disposition to expect from your friends the 
ordinary ceremonial observances of society when they cannot observe 
them without inconvenience to themselves, so I love you too stead- 
fastly to be apprehensive of your taking otherwise than I wish you 
should my not waiting upon you on the first day of your entrance 
upon the consular office, especially as I am detained here by the 
necessity of letting my farms upon long leases. I am obliged to 

' By the rcRimen which Pliny here follows, one would imagine, if he had not told 
lu who were his physicians, that the celebrated Cclsus was in the number. That 
author expressly recommends reading aloud, and afterwards walking, as beneficial in 
disorders of the stomach: "Si quit slomacho laborat, Irgere dare debet; post lectionem 
ambuiare," &c. Celsi Medic. 1. i., c. 8. M. 


enter upon an entirely new plan with my tenants: for under the 
former leases, though I made them very considerable abatements, 
they have run greatly in arrear. For this reason several of them have 
not only taken no sort of care to lessen a debt which they found 
themselves incapable of wholly discharging, but have even seized 
and consumed all the produce of the land, in the belief that it would 
now be of no advantage to themselves to spare it. 1 must therefore 
obviate this increasing evil, and endeavour to find out some remedy 
against it. The only one I can think of is, not to reserve my rent 
in money, but in kind, and so place some of my servants to overlook 
the tillage, and guard the stock; as indeed there is no sort of revenue 
more agreeable to reason than what arises from the bounty of the 
soil, the seasons, and the climate. It is true, this method will require 
great honesty, sharp eyes, and many hands. However, I must risk 
the experiment, and, as in an inveterate complaint, try every change 
of remedy. You see, it is not any pleasurable indulgence that pre- 
vents my attending you on the first day of your consulship. I shall 
celebrate it, nevertheless, as much as if I were present, and pay my 
vows for you here, with all the warmest tokens of joy and congratu- 
lation. Farewell. 


To Fuscus 

You are much pleased, I find, with the account I gave you in my 
former letter of how I spend the summer season at Tuscum, and 
desire to know what alteration I make in my method when I am at 
Laurentum in the winter. None at all, except abridging myself of 
my sleep at noon, and borrowing a good piece of the night before 
daybreak and after sunset for study: and if business is very urgent 
(which in winter very frequently happens), instead of having inter- 
ludes or music after supper, I reconsider whatever I have previously 
dictated, and improve my memory at the same time by this frequent 
mental revision. Thus I have given you a general sketch of my 
mode of life in summer and winter; to which you may add the 
intermediate seasons of spring and autumn, in which, while losing 
nothing out of the day, I gain but little from the nighu FarewelL 




To THE Emperor Trajan 

The pious affection you bore, most sacred Emperor, to your 
august father induced you to wish it might be late ere you succeeded 
him. But the immortal gods thought proper to hasten the advance- 
ment of those virtues to the helm of the commonwealth which had 
already shared in the steerage.' May you then, and the world 
through your means, enjoy every prosperity worthy of your reign: 
to which let me add my wishes, most excellent Emperor, upon a 
private as well as public account, that your health and spirits may 
be preserved firm and unbroken. 

' The greater part of the following letters were written by Pliny during his adminis- 
tration in the province of Bithynia. They are of a style and character extremely 
different from those in the preceding collection; whence some critics have injudiciously 
inferred that they are the production of another hand: not considering that the 
occasion necessarily required a different manner. In letters of business, as these chiefly 
are, turn and lentiment would be foreign and impertinent; politeness and elegance 
of expression being the essentials that constitute perfection in this kind: and in that 
view, though they may be less entertaining, they have not less merit than the former. 
But besides their particular excellence as letters, they have a farther recommendation 
as so many valuable pieces of history, by throwing a strong light upon the character 
of one of the most amiable and glorious princes in the Roman annals. Trajan appears 
throughout in the most striking attitude that majesty can be placed in; in the exertion of 
power to the godlike purposes of justice and benevolence: and what one of the ancient 
historians has said of him is here clearly verified, that "he rather chose to he loved 
than flattered by his people." To have been distinguished by the favour and friend- 
ship of a monarch of so exalted a character is an honour that reflects the brightest 
lustre upon our author; as to have been served and celebrated by a courtier of Pliny's 
genius and virtues is the noblest monument of glory that could have been raised to 
Trajan. M. 

' Nerva, who succeeded Domitian, reigned but sixteen months and a few days. 
Before his death he not only adopted Trajan, and named him for his successor, but 
actually admitted him into a share of the government; giving him the titles of 
Ctesar, Germanicus, and Imperator. Vid. Plin. Pancg. U. 




To THE Empekor Trajan 

You have occasioned me, Sir, an inexpressible pleasure in deem- 
ing me worthy of enjoying the privilege which the laws confer on 
those who have three children. For although it was from an indul- 
gence to the request of the excellent Julius Servianus, your own 
most devoted servant, that you granted this favour, yet I have the 
satisfaction to find by the words of your rescript that you complied 
the more willingly as his application was in my behalf. I cannot 
but look upon myself as in possession of my utmost wish, after 
having thus received, at the beginning of your most auspicious 
reign, so distinguishing a mark of your peculiar favour; at the same 
time that it considerably heightens my desire of leaving a family 
behind me. I was not entirely without this desire even in the late 
most unhappy times: as my two marriages will induce you to be- 
lieve. But the gods decreed it better, by reserving every valuable 
privilege to the bounty of your generous dispensations. And indeed 
the pleasure of being a father will be so much more acceptable to me 
now, that I can enjoy it in full security and happiness. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

The experience, most excellent Emperor, I have had of your 
unbounded generosity to me, in my own person, encourages me to 
hope I may be yet farther obliged to it, in that of my friends. Voco- 
nius Romanus (who was my schoolfellow and companion from our 
earliest years) claims the first rank in that number; in consequence 
of which I petitioned your sacred father to promote him to the 
dignity of the senatorial order. But the completion of my request is 
reserved to your goodness; for his mother had not then advanced, in 
the manner the law directs, the liberal gift of four hundred thousand 
sesterces,' which she engaged to give him, in her letter to the late 
emperor, your father. This, however, by my advice she has since 

> $16,000. 

358 PLINY 

done, having made over certain estates to him, as well as completed 
every other act necessary to make the conveyance valid. The difficul- 
ties therefore being removed which deferred the gratification of our 
wishes, it is with full confidence I venture to assure you of the worth 
of my friend Romanus, heightened and adorned as it is not only by 
liberal culture, but by his extraordinary tenderness to his parents as 
well. It is to that virtue he owes the present liberality of his mother; 
as well as his immediate succession to his late father's estate, and his 
adoption by his father-in-law. To these personal qualifications, the 
wealth and rank of his family give additional lustre; and I persuade 
myself it will be some further recommendation that I solicit in his 
behalf. Let me, then, entreat you, Sir, to enable me to congratulate 
Romanus on so desirable an occasion, and at the same time to 
indulge an eager and, I hope, laudable ambition, of having it in my 
power to boast that your favourable regards are extended not only to 
myself, but also to my friend. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

When by your gracious indulgence, Sir, I was appointed to pre- 
side at the treasury of Saturn, I immediately renounced all engage- 
ments of the bar (as indeed I never blended business of that kind 
with the functions of the state), that no avocations might call off my 
attention from the post to which I was appointed. For this reason, 
when the province of Africa petitioned the senate that I might 
undertake their cause against Marius Priscus, I excused myself from 
that office; and my excuse was allowed. But when afterwards the 
consul elect proposed that the senate should apply to us again, and 
endeavour to prevail with us to yield to its inclinations, and suffer 
our names to be thrown into the urn, I thought it most agreeable 
to that tranquillity and good order which so happily distinguishes 
your times not to oppose (especially in so reasonable an instance) the 
will of that august assembly. And, as I am desirous that all my 
words and actions may receive the sanction of your exemplary 
virtue, I hope you approve of my compliance. 



Trajan to Pliny 

You acted as became a good citizen and a worthy senator, by pay- 
ing obedience to the just requisition of that august assembly: and I 
have full confidence you will faithfully discharge the business you 
have undertaken. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

Having been attacked last year by a very severe and dangerous 
illness, I employed a physician, whose care and diligence, Sir, I 
cannot sufHciently reward, but by your gracious assistance. I entreat 
you therefore to make him a denizen of Rome; for as he is the 
freedman of a foreign lady, he is, consequently, himself also a 
foreigner. His name is Harpocras; his patroness (who has been dead 
a considerable time) was Thermuthis, the daughter of Theon. I 
further entreat you to bestow the full privileges of a Roman citizen 
upon Hedia and Antonia Harmeris, the freedwomen of Antonia 
Maximilla, a lady of great merit. It is at her desire I make this 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

I RETURN you thanks. Sir, for your ready compliance with my 
desire, in granting the complete privileges of a Roman to the freed- 
women of a lady to whom I am allied, and also for making Harpo- 
cras, my physician, a denizen of Rome. But when, agreeably to your 
directions, I gave in an account of his age and estate, I was informed 
by those who are better skilled in the affairs than I pretend to be, 
that, as he is an Egyptian, I ought first to have obtained for him the 
freedom of Alexandria before he was made free of Rome. I confess, 
indeed, as I was ignorant of any difference in this case between those 
of Egypt and other countries, I contented myself with only acquaint- 
ing you that he had been manumitted by a foreign lady long since 

360 PUNY 

deceased. However, it is an ignorance I cannot regret, since it 
affords me an opportunity of receiving from you a double obligation 
in favour of the same person. That I may legally therefore enjoy 
the benefit of your goodness, I beg you would be pleased to grant 
him the freedom of the city of Alexandria, as well as that of Rome. 
And that your gracious intentions may not meet with any further 
obstacles, I have taken care, as you directed, to send an account to 
your freedman of his age and possessions. 


Trajan to Pliny 

It is my resolution, in pursuance of the maxim observed by the 
princes my predecessors, to be extremely cautious in granting the 
freedom of the city of Alexandria: however, since you have ob- 
tained of me the freedom of Rome for your physician Harpocras, I 
cannot refuse you this other request. You must let me know to 
what district he belongs, that I may give you a letter to my friend 
Pompeius Planta, governor of Egypt. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

I cannot express, Sir, the pleasure your letter gave me, by which 
I am informed that you have made my physician Harpocras a deni- 
zen of Alexandria; notwithstanding your resolution to follow the 
maxim of your predecessors in this point, by being extremely cau- 
tious in granting that privilege. Agreeably to your directions, I 
acquaint you that Harpocras belongs to the district of Memphis.' 
I entreat you then, most gracious Emf>eror, to send me, as you 
promised, a letter to your friend Pompeius Planta, governor of 

As I purpose (in order to have the earliest enjoyment of your 
presence, so ardently wished for here) to come to meet you, I beg. 
Sir, you would permit me to extend my journey as far as possible. 
' One of the four governments of Lower Egypt. M. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

I WAS greatly obliged, Sir, in my late illness, to Posthumius 
Marinus, my physician; and I cannot make him a suitable return, 
but by the assistance of your wonted gracious indulgence. I entreat 
you then to make Chrysippus Mithridates and his wife Stratonica 
(who are related to Marinus) denizens of Rome. I entreat likewise 
the same privilege in favour of Epigonus and Mithridates, the two 
sons of Chrysippus; but with this restriction,' that they may remain 
under the dominion of their father, and yet reserve their right of 
patronage over their own freedmen. I further entreat you to grant 
the full privileges of a Roman to L. Satrius Abascantius, P. Cjcsius 
Phosphorus, and Pancharia Soteris. This request I make with the 
consent of their patrons. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

After your late sacred father. Sir, had, in a noble speech, as well as 
by his own generous example, exhorted and encouraged the public 
to acts of munificence, I implored his permission to remove the 
several statues which I had of the former emperors to my corporation, 
and at the same time requested permission to add his own to the 
number. For as I had hitherto let them remain in the respective 
places in which they stood when they were left to me by several 
different inheritances, they were dispersed in distant parts of my 
estate. He was pleased to grant my request, and at the same time to 

• The extensive power of paternal authority was (as has been observed in the notes 
above) peculiar to the Romans. But after Chrysippus was made a denizen of Rome, 
he was not, it would seem, consequentially entitled to that privilege over those 
children which were born before his denization. On the other hand, if it was expressly 
granted him, his children could not preserve their right of patronage over their own 
freedmen, because that right would of course devolve to their father, by means of 
this acquired dominion over them. The denization therefore of bis children is as 
expressly solicited as his own. But both parties becoming Quiriles, the children by 
this creation, and not pleading in right of their father, would be patres fam. To 
prevent which the clause is added, "ita ut tint in patris polestate": as there is another 
to save to them their rights of patronage over their freedmen, though they were 
reduced in patriam polestatem. M. 

362 PUNY 

give me a very ample testimony of his approbation. I immediately, 
therefore, wrote to the decurii, to desire they would allot a piece 
of ground, upon which I might build a temple at my own expense; 
and they, as a mark of honour to my design, offered me the choice 
of any site I might think proper. However, my own ill health in 
the first place, and later that of your father, together with the duties 
of that employment which you were both pleased to entrust me, 
prevented my proceeding with that design. But I have now, I think, 
a convenient opportunity of making an excursion for the purpose, 
as my monthly attendance' ends on the ist of September, and there 
are several festivals in the month following. My first request, then, 
is that you would permit me to adorn the temple I am going to erect 
with your statue, and next (in order to the execution of my design 
with all the expedition possible) that you would indulge me with 
leave of absence. It would ill become the sincerity I profess, were I 
to dissemble that your goodness in complying with this desire will 
at the same time be extremely serviceable to me in my own private 
affairs. It is absolutely necessary I should not defer any longer the 
letting of my lands in that province; for, besides that they amount 
to above four hundred thousand sesterces,' the time for dressing the 
vineyards is approaching, and that business must fall upon my new 
tenants. The unfruitfulness of the seasons besides, for several years 
past, obliges me to think of making some abatements in my rents; 
which I cannot possibly settle unless I am present. I shall be in- 
debted, then, to your indulgence. Sir, for the expedition of my work 
of piety, and the settlement of my own private affairs, if you will be 
pleased to grant me leave of absence' for thirty days. I cannot give 

' Pliny enjoyed the office of treasurer in conjunction with Cornutus Tcrtullus. It 
was the custom at Rome for those who had colleagues to administer the duties of 
their |x>sts by monthly turns. Buchncr. M. 

' About $16,000; the annual income of Pliny's estate in Tuscany. He mentions 
another near Comum in Milan, the yearly value of which does not appear. We find 
him likewise meditatin); the purchase of an estate, for which he was to give about 
$117,000 of our money; but whether he ever completed that purchase is uncertain. 
This, however, we are sure of, that his fortunes were but moderate, considering his 
high station and necessary expenses: and ytX, by the advantage of 3 judicious economy, 
we have seen him, in the course of these letters, exercising a liberality of which 
after-ages have furnished no parallel. M. 

' The senators were not allowed to go from Rome into the provinces without 
having first obtained leave of the emperor. Sicily, however, had the privilege to be 
excepted out of that law; as Gallia Narbotiensis afterwards was, by Claudius Czsar. 
Tacit. Ann. xii., c. 23. M. 


myself a shorter time, as the town and the estate of which I am 
speaking lie above a hundred and fifty miles from Rome. 


Trajan to Pliny 

You have given me many private reasons, and every pubUc one, 
why you desire leave of absence; but I need no other than that it is 
your desire: and I doubt not of your returning as soon as possible to 
the duty of an office which so much requires your attendance. As 
I would not seem to check any instance of your affection towards 
me, I shall not oppose your erecting my statue in the place you desire; 
though in general I am extremely cautious in giving any encourage- 
ment to honours of that kind. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

As I am sensible. Sir, that the highest applause my actions can 
receive is to be distinguished by so excellent a prince, I beg you 
would be graciously pleased to add either the office of augur or 
septemvir' (both which are now vacant) to the dignity I already 
enjoy by your indulgence; that I may have the satisfaction of pubUcly 
offering up those vows for your prosperity, from the duty of my 
office, which I daily prefer to the gods in private, from the affection 
of my heart. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

Having safely passed the promontory of Malea, I am arrived at 
Ephesus with all my retinue, notwithstanding I was detained for 
some time by contrary winds: a piece of information, Sir, in which, 
I trust, you will feel yourself concerned. I propose pursuing the 

' One of the seren priests who presided over the feasts appointed in honour of 
Jupiter and the other gods; an office, as appears, of high dignity, since Pliny ranks 
it with the augurship. M. 

364 PLINY 

remainder of my journey to the province' partly in light vessels, and 
partly in post<haises: for as the excessive heats will prevent my 
travelling altogether by land, so the Etesian winds,' which are now 
set in, will not permit me to proceed entirely by sea. 


Trajan to Pliny 

Your information, my dear Pliny, was extremely agreeable to me, 
as it does concern me to know in what manner you arrive at your 
province. It is a wise intention of yours to travel either by sea or 
land, as you shall find most convenient. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

As I had a very favourable voyage to Ephesus, so in travelling by 
post<halse from thence I was extremely troubled by the heats, and 
also by some slight feverish attacks, which kept me some time at 
Pergamus. From there, Sir, I got on board a coasting vessel, but, 
being again detained by contrary winds, did not arrive at Bithynia 
so soon as I had hof)ed. However, I have no reason to complain 
of this delay, since (which indeed was the most auspicious circum- 
stance that could attend me) I reached the province in time to cele- 
brate your birthday. I am at present engaged in examining the 
finances of the Prusenses,' their expenses, revenues, and credits; and 
the farther I proceed in this work, the more I am convinced of the 
necessity of my enquiry. Several large sums of money are owing to 
the city from private persons, which they neglect to pay upon various 
pretences; as, on the other hand, I find the public funds are, in 

• Bithynia, a province in Anatolia, or Asia Minor, of which Pliny was appointed 
governor by Trajan, in the sixth year of his reign, a.d. 103, not as an ordinary 
proconsul, but as that emperor's own lieutenant, with powers extraordinary. (Sec 
Dio.) The following letters were written during his administration of that 
province. M. 

' A north wind in the Grecian seas, which rises yearly sometime in July, and 
continues to the end of August; though others extend it to the middle of September. 
They blow only in the daytime. Varenius's Geogr. v. i., p. 513. M. 

'The tnhabiunts of Prusa (Brusa), a principal city of Bithynia. 


some instances, very unwarrantably applied. This, Sir, I write to 
you immediately on my arrival. I entered this province on the 17th 
of September,* and found in it that obedience and loyalty towards 
yourself which you justly merit from all mankind. You will con- 
sider. Sir, whether it would not be proper to send a surveyor here; 
for I am inclined to think much migh;; be deducted from what is 
charged by those who have the conduct of the public works if a 
faithful admeasurement were to be taken: at least I am of that 
opinion from what I have already seen of the accounts of this city, 
which I am now going into as fully as is possible. 


Trajan to Pliny 

I should have rejoiced to have heard that you arrived at Bithynia 
without the smallest inconvenience to yourself or any of your 
retinue, and that your journey from Ephesus had been as easy as 
your voyage to that place was favourable. For the rest, your letter 
informs me, my dearest Secundus, on what day you reached Bithy- 
nia. The people of that province will be convinced, I persuade my- 
self, that I am attentive to their interest; as your conduct towards 
them will make it manifest that I could have chosen no more proper 
person to supply my place. The examination of the public accounts 
ought certainly to be your first employment, as they are evidently 
in great disorder. I have scarcely surveyors sufficient to inspect those 
works' which I am carrying on at Rome, and in the neighbourhood; 
but persons of integrity and skill in this art may be found, most 
certainly, in every province, so that they will not fail you if only 
you will make due enquiry. 

*In the sixth year of Trajan's rei);n, a.d. 103, and the 41st of our author's age: 
he continued in this province about eiRhtcen months. Vid. Mass. in Vit. Plin. 129. M. 

' AmonR other noble works which this glorious emperor executed, the forum or 
square which went by his name seems to have been the most magnificent. It was 
built with the foreign spoils he had taken in war. The covering of this edifice was 
all brass, the porticoes exceedingly beautiful and magnificent, with pillars of more 
than ordinary height and dimensions. M, 

366 PUNY 


To THE Emperor Trajak 

Though I am well assured, Sir, that you, who never omit any 
opportunity of exerting your generosity, are not unmindful of the 
request I lately made to you, yet, as you have often indulged me in 
this manner, give me leave to remind and earnestly entreat you to 
bestow the practorship now vacant upon Attius Sura. Though his 
ambition is extremely moderate, yet the quality of his birth, the 
inflexible integrity he has preserved in a very narrow fortune, and, 
more than all, the felicity of your times, which encourages conscious 
virtue to claim your favour, induce him to hope he may experience 
it in the present instance. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

I congratulate both you and the public, most excellent Emperor, 
upon the great and glorious victory you have obtained; so agreeable 
to the heroism of ancient Rome. May the immortal gods grant the 
same happy success to all your designs, that, under the administration 
of so many princely virtues, the splendour of the empire may shine 
out, not only in its former, but with additional lustre.' 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

My lieutenant, Servilius Pudens, came to Nicomedia,' Sir, on the 
24th of November, and by his arrival freed me, at length, from the 
anxiety of a very uneasy expectation. 

' It is probable the victory here alluded to was that famous one which Trajan 
.caincd over the Dacians. It is certain, at least, Pliny lived to see his wish accom- 
plished, this emperor having carried the Roman splendour to its highest pitch, and 
extended the dominions of the empire farther than any of his predecessors; as after 
his death it began to decline. M. 

' The capital of Bithynia; its modern name is Izmid. 



To THE Emperor Trajan 

Your generosity to me, Sir, was the occasion of uniting me to 
Rosianus Geminus, by the strongest ties; for he was my quaestor 
when I was consul. His behaviour to me during the continuance 
of our offices was highly respectful, and he has treated me ever since 
with so peculiar a regard that, besides the many obligations I owe 
him upon a public account, I am indebted to him for the strongest 
pledges of private friendship. I entreat you, then, to comply with my 
request for the advancement of one whom (if my recommendation 
has any weight) you will even distinguish with your particular 
favour; and whatever trust you shall repose in him, he will en- 
deavour to show himself still deserving of an higher. But I am the 
more sparing in my praises of him, being persuaded his integrity, his 
probity, and his vigilance are well known to you, not only from those 
high posts which he has exercised in Rome within your immediate 
inspection, but from his behaviour when he served under you in the 
army. One thing, however, my affection for him inclines me to 
think, I have not yet sufficiently done; and therefore. Sir, I repeat 
my entreaties that you will give me the pleasure, as early as possible, 
of rejoicing in the advancement of my quxstor, or, in other words, 
of receiving an addition to my own honours, in the person of my 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

It is not easy. Sir, to express the joy I received when I heard you 
had, in compliance with the request of my mother-in-law and 
myself, granted Coelius Clemens the proconsulship of this province 
after the expiration of his consular office; as it is from thence I learn 
the full extent of your goodness towards me, which thus graciously 
extends itself through my whole family. As I dare not pretend to 
make an equal return to those obligations I so justly owe you, I can 
only have recourse to vows, and ardently implore the gods that I 

368 PLINY 

may not be found unworthy of those favours which you are repeat- 
edly conferring upon me. 

To THE Emperor Trajan 
I RECEIVED, Sir, a despatch from your freedman, Lycormas, desiring 
me, if any embassy from Bosporus' should come here on the way to 
Rome, that I would detain it till his arrival. None has yet arrived, 
at least in the city^ where I now am. But a courier passing through 
this place from the king of Sarmatia,' I embrace the opportunity 
which accidentally offers itself, of sending with him the messenger 
whom Lycormas despatched hither, that you might be informed by 
both their letters of what, perhaps, it may be expedient you should be 
acquainted with at one and the same time. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

I AM informed by a letter from the king of Sarmatia that there are 

certain affairs of which you ought to be informed as soon as possible. 

In order, therefore, to hasten the despatches which his courier was 

charged with to you, I granted him an order to make use of the 

public post.* 

' The town of Panticapoeum, also called Bosporus, standuig on the European side 
of the Cimmerian Bosporus (Straits of Kaffa). in the modern Crimea. 

'Nicea (as appears by the 15th letter of this book), a city in Bithynia, now called 
Isnik. M. 

' Sarmatia was divided into European, Asiatic, and German Sarmatia. It is not 
exactly known what bounds the ancients gave to this extensive region; however, in 
general, it comprehended the northern part of Russia, and the greater part of Poland, 
&c. M. 

*The first invention of public couriers is ascribed to Cyrus, who, in order to receive 
the earliest intelligence from the governors of the several provinces, erected post- 
houses throughout the kingdom of Persia, at equal distances, which supplied men 
and horses to forward the public despatches. Augustus was the first who introduced 
this most useful institution among the Romans, by employing post-chaises, disposed 
at convenient distances, for the purpose of political intelligence. The magistrates 
of every city were obliged to furnish horses for these messengers, upon producing 
a diploma, or a kind of warrant, either from the emperor himself or from those who 
had that authority under him. Sometimes, though upon very extraordinary occasions, 
persons who travelled upon their private affairs, were allowed the use of these post- 
chaises. It is surprising they were not sooner used for the purposes of commerce and 
private communication. Louis XI. first established them in France, in the year 1474; 
but it was not till the 12th of Car. II. that the post-office was settled in England by 
Act of Parliament. M. 



To THE Emperor Trajan 

The ambassador from the king of Sarmatia having remained two 
days, by his own choice, at Nicea, I did not think it reasonable, Sir, 
to detain him any longer: because, in the first place, it was still 
uncertain when your freedman, Lycormas, would arrive, and then 
again some indispensable affairs require my presence in a different 
part of the province. Of this I thought it necessary that you should 
be informed, because I lately acquainted you in a letter that Lycor- 
mas had desired, if any embassy should come this way from Bos- 
porus, that I would detain it till his arrival. But I saw no plausible 
pretext for keeping him back any longer, especially as the despatches 
from Lycormas, which (as I mentioned before) I was not willing to 
detain, would probably reach you some days sooner than this 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

I RECEIVED a letter. Sir, from Apuleius, a military man, belonging 
to the garrison at Nicomedia, informing me that one Callidromus, 
being arrested by Maximus and Dionysius (two bakers, to whom he 
had hired himself), fled for refuge to your statue;' that, being 
brought before a magistrate, he declared he was formerly slave to 
Laberius Maximus, but being taken prisoner by Susagus^ in Moesia,' 
he was sent as a present from Decebalus to Pacorus, king of Parthia, 
in whose service he continued several years, from whence he made 
his escape, and came to Nicomedia. When he was examined before 

' Particular temples, altars, and statues were allowed among the Romans as places 
of privilege and sanctuary to slaves, debtors, and malefactors. This custom was 
introduced by Romulus, who borrowed it probably from the Greeks; but during the 
free state of Rome, few of these asylums were permitted. This custom prevailed most 
under the emperors, till it grew so scandalous that the Emperor Pius found it necessary 
to restrain those privileged places by an edict. See Lipsii Excurs. ad Taciti Ann. iii., 
c. ?6. M. 

* General under Decebalus, king of the Dacians. M. 

' A province in Dacia, comprehending the southern parts of Servia and part of 
Bulgaria. M. 

370 PLINY 

me^he confirmed this account, for which reason I thought it necessary 
to send^ him to you. This I should have done sooner, but I delayed 
his journey in order to make an enquiry concerning a seal ring 
which he said was taken from him, upon which was engraven the 
figure of Pacorus in his royal robes; I was desirous (if it could have 
been found) of transmitting this curiosity to you, with a small gold 
nugget which he says he brought from out of the Parthian mines. 
I have affixed my seal to it, the impression of which is a chariot 
drawn by four horses. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

Your freedman and procurator,' Maximus, behaved. Sir, during 
all the time we were together, with great probity, attention, and 
diligence; as one strongly attached to your interest, and strictly ob- 
servant of discipline. This testimony I willingly give him; and I 
give it with all the fidelity I owe you. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

After having experienced. Sir, in Gabius Bassus, who commands 
on the Pontic' coast, the greatest integrity, honour, and diligence, as 
well as the most particular respect to myself, I cannot refuse him 
my best wishes and suffrage; and I give them to him with all that 
fidelity which is due to you. I have found him abundantly qualified 
by having served in the army under you; and it is owing to the 
advantages of your discipline that he has learned to merit your 
favour. The soldiery and the people here, who have had full experi- 
ence of his justice and humanity, rival each other in that glorious 
testimony they give of his conduct, both in public and in private; 

'The second expedition of Trajan against Decebalus was undertaken the same 
year that Pliny went governor into this province; the reason therefore why Pliny sent 
this Callidromus to the emperor seems to be that some use might possibly be made 
of him in favour of that design. M. 

' Receiver of the finances. M. 

* The coast round the Black Sea. 


and I certify this with all the sincerity you have a right to expect 
from me. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

Nymphidius Lupus,' Sir, and myself, served in the army together; 
he commanded a body of the auxiliary forces at the same time that I 
was military tribune; and it was from thence my affection for him 
began. A long acquaintance has since mutually endeared and 
strengthened our friendship. For this reason I did violence to his 
repose, and insisted uf)on his attending me into Bithynia, as my 
assessor in council. He most readily granted me this proof of his 
friendship; and without any regard to the plea of age, or the ease 
of retirement, he shared, and continues to share, with me, the fatigue 
of public business. 1 consider his relations, therefore, as my own; in 
which number Nymphidius Lupus, his son, claims my particular 
regard. He is a youth of great merit and indefatigable application, 
and in every respect well worthy of so excellent a father. The early 
proof he gave of his merit, when he commanded a regiment of foot, 
shews him to be equal to any honour you may think proper to confer 
upon him; and it gained him the strongest testimony of approbation 
from those most illustrious personages, Julius Ferox and Fuscus 
Salinator. And I will add. Sir, that I shall rejoice in any accession of 
dignity which he shall receive, as an occasion of particular satisfac- 
tion to myself. 

To THE Emperor Trajan 

I BEG your determination, Sir, on a point I am exceedingly doubtful 
about: it is whether I should place the public slaves' as sentries round 
the prisons of the several cities in this province (as has been hitherto 
the practice) or employ a party of soldiers for that purpose? On the 
one hand, I am afraid the public slaves will not attend this duty 

'The text calls him primipilarrm, that is, one who had been primipilut, an oBficer 
in the army, whose post was both hiRhly honourable and profitable; among other 
parts of his office he had the care of the eagle, or chief standard of the legion. M. 

* Slaves who were purchased by the public. M. 

372 PLINY 

with the fidehty they ought; and, on the other, that it will engage 
too large a body of the soldiery. In the meanwhile I have joined a 
few of the latter with the former. I am apprehensive, however, there 
may be some danger that this method will occasion a general neglect 
of duty, as it will afford them a mutual opportunity of throwing the 
blame upon each other. 


Trajan to Pliny 

There is no occasion, my dearest Secundus, to draw off any sol- 
diers in order to guard the prisons. Let us rather persevere in the 
ancient customs observed in this province, of employing the public 
slaves for that purpose; and the fidelity with which they shall execute 
their duty will depend much upon your care and strict discipline. 
It is greatly to be feared, as you observe, if the soldiers should be 
mixed with the public slaves, they will mutually trust to each 
other, and by that means grow so much the more negligent. But 
my principal objection is that as few soldiers as possible should be 
withdrawn from their standard. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

Gabius Bassus, who commands upon the frontiers of Pontica, in 
a manner suitable to the respect and duty which he owes you, came 
to me, and has been with me, Sir, for several days. As far as I could 
observe, he is a person of great merit and worthy of your favour. I 
acquainted him it was your order that he should retain only ten 
beneficiary' soldiers, two horse-guards, and one centurion out of the 
troops which you were pleased to assign to my command. He assured 
me those would not be sufficient, and that he would write to you 

' The most probable conjecture (for it is a point of a Rood deal of obscurity) 
concerning the heneftdarii seems to be that they were a certain number of soldiers 
exempted from the usual duty of their office, in order to be employed as a sort of 
body-Ruards to the Reneral. These were probably foot; as the equiles here mentioned 
were perhaps of the same nature, only that they served on horseback. Equites 
singulares Cirtaris Augutti, Sec are frequently met with upon ancient inscriptions, 
and are generally supposed to mean the body-guards of the emiwror. M. 


accordingly; for which reason 1 thought it proper not immediately to 
recall his supernumeraries. 


Trajan to Pliny 

I HAVE received from Gabius Bassus the letter you mention, 
acquainting me that the number of soldiers I had ordered him was 
not sufficient; and for your information I have directed my answer 
to be hereunto annexed. It is very material to distinguish between 
what the exigency of affairs requires and what an ambitious desire 
of extending power may think necessary. As for ourselves, the public 
welfare must be our only guide: accordingly it is incumbent ufxjn us 
to take all possible care that the soldiers shall not be absent from their 

To THE Emperor Trajan 

The Prusenses, Sir, having an ancient bath which lies in a ruinous 
state, desire your leave to repair it; but, upon examination, I am 
of opinion it ought to be rebuilt. I think, therefore, you may indulge 
them in this request, as there will be a sufficient fund for that pur- 
pose, partly from those debts which are due from private persons to 
the public which I am now collecting in; and partly from what they 
raise among themselves towards furnishing the bath with oil, which 
they are willing to apply to the carrying on of this building; a work 
which the dignity of the city and the splendour of your times seem 
to demand. 


Trajan to Pliny 

If the erecting a public bath will not be too great a charge upon 
the Prusenses, we may comply with their request; provided, how- 
ever, that no new tax be levied for this purpose, nor any of those 
taken off which are appropriated to necessary services. 

374 PLINY 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

I AM assured, Sir, by your f reedman and receiver-general Maximus, 
that it is necessary he should have a party of soldiers assigned to him, 
over and besides the bencficiarii, whom by your orders I allotted 
to the very worthy Gemellinus. Those, therefore, whom I found in 
his service, I thought proper he should retain, especially as he was 
going into Paphlagonia,' in order to procure corn. For his better 
protection likewise, and because it was his request, I added two of 
the cavalry. But I beg you would inform me, in your next despatches, 
what method you would have me observe for the future in points 
of this nature. 


Trajan to Pliny 

As my freedman Maximus was going upon an extraordinary 
commission to procure corn, I approve of your having supplied him 
with a file of soldiers. But when he shall return to the duties of his 
former post, I think two from you and as many from his coadjutor, 
my receiver-general Virdius Gemellinus, will be sufficient. 

To THE Emperor Trajan 

The very excellent young man Sempronius Cxlianus, having 
discovered two slaves' among the recruits, has sent them to me. But 

' A province in Asia Minor, bounded by the Black Sea on the north, Bithynia on 
the west, Pontus on the east, and Phrygia on the south. 

' The Roman policy excluded slaves from entering into military service, and it 
was death if they did so. However, upon cases of great necessity, this maxim was 
dispensed with; but then they were first made free before they were received into the 
army, excepting only (as Servius in his notes upon Virgil observes) after the fatal 
battle of Canni; when the public distress was so great that the Romans recruited 
their army with their slaves, though they had not time to give them their freedom. 
One reason, perhaps, of this policy might be that they did not think it safe to arm 
so considerable a body of men, whose numbers, in the times when the Roman luxury 
was at its highest, we may have some idea of by the instance which Pliny the 
naturalist mentions of Claudius Isodorus, who at the time of his death was possessed 
of no less than 4,116 slaves, notwithstanding he had lost great numbers in the civil 
wars. Plin. Hist. Nat. xxxiii. 10. M. 


I deferred passing sentence till I had consulted you, the restorer 
and upholder of military discipline, concerning the punishment 
proper to be inflicted upon them. My principal doubt is this, whether 
although they have taken the military oath, they are yet entered 
into any particular legion. I request you, therefore. Sir, to inform 
me what course I should pursue in this affair, especially as it concerns 


Trajan to Pliny 

Sempronius C^elianus has acted agreeably to my orders, in send- 
ing such persons to be tried before you as appear to deserve capital 
punishment. It is material, however, in the case in question, to 
enquire whether these slaves enlisted themselves voluntarily, or were 
chosen by the officers, or presented as substitutes for others. If they 
were chosen, the officer is guilty; if they are substitutes, the blame 
rests with those who deputed them; but if, conscious of the legal 
inabilities of their station, they presented themselves voluntarily, the 
punishment must fall upon their own heads. That they are not yet 
entered into any legion, makes no great difference in their case; for 
they ought to have given a true account of themselves immediately 
upon their being approved as fit for the service. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

As I have your permission. Sir, to address myself to you in all my 
doubts, you will not consider it beneath your dignity to descend to 
those humbler affairs which concern my administration of this 
province. I find there are in several cities, particularly those of Nico- 
media and Nicea, certain persons who take upon themselves to act 
as public slaves, and receive an annual stipend accordingly; notwith- 
standing they have been condemned either to the mines, the public 
games,' or other punishments of the like nature. Having received 

' A punishment amonfj the Romans, usually inflicted upon slaves, by which they 
were to engage with wild beasts, or perform tlie part of gladiators, in the public 
shows. M. 

376 PLINY 

information o£ this abuse, I have been long debating with myself what 
I ought to do. On the one hand, to send them back again to their 
respective punishments (many of them being now grown old, and 
behaving, as I am assured, with sobriety and modesty) would, I 
thought, be proceeding against them too severely; on the other, to 
retain convicted criminals in the public service, seemed not altogether 
decent. I considered at the same time to support these people in 
idleness would be an useless expense to the public; and to leave them 
to starve would be dangerous. I was obliged, therefore, to suspend 
the determination of this matter till I could consult with you. 
You will be desirous, perhaps, to be informed how it happened 
that these persons escajjed the punishments to which they were 
condemned. This enquiry I have also made, but cannot return you 
any satisfactory answer. The decrees against them were indeed 
produced; but no record appears of their having ever been reversed. 
It was asserted, however, that these people were pardoned upon 
their petition to the proconsuls, or their lieutenants; which seems 
likely to be the truth, as it is improbable any person would have 
dared to set them at liberty without authority. 


Trajan to Pliny 

You will remember you were sent into Bithynia for the particular 
purpose of correcting those many abuses which appeared in need 
of reform. Now none stands more so than that criminals who have 
been sentenced to punishment should not only be set at liberty 
(as your letter informs me) without authority, but even appointed 
to employments which ought only to be exercised by persons whose 
characters are irreproachable. Those, therefore, among them who 
have been convicted within these ten years, and whose sentence 
has not been reversed by proper authority, must be sent back again 
to their respective punishments: but where more than ten years 
have elapsed since their conviction, and they are grown old and 
infirm, let them be disposed of in such employments as are but few 
degrees removed from the punishments to which they were sen- 
tenced; that is, either to attend upon the public baths, cleanse the 


common sewers, or repair the streets and highways, the usual offices 
assigned to such persons. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

While I was making a progress in a different part of the province, 
a most extensive fire broke out at Nicomedia, which not only 
consumed several private houses, but also two pubUc buildings; 
the town-house and the temple of Isis, though they stood on contrary 
sides of the street. The occasion of its spreading thus far was partly 
owing to the violence of the wind, and pardy to the indolence of 
the people, who, manifestly, stood idle and motionless spectators 
of this terrible calamity. The truth is the city was not furnished 
with either engines,' buckets, or any single instrument suitable for 
extinguishing fires; which I have now, however, given directions 
to have prepared. You will consider. Sir, whether it may not be 
advisable to institute a company of firemen, consisting only of one 
hundred and fifty members. I will take care none but those of 
that business shall be admitted into it, and that the privileges granted 
them shall not be applied to any other purpose. As this corporate 
body will be restricted to so small a number of members, it will 
be easy to keep them under proper regulation. 


Trajan to Punt 

You are of opinion it would be proper to establish a company of 
firemen in Nicomedia, agreeably to what has been practised in 

' It has been generally imagined that the ancients had not the art of raising water 
by engines; but this passage seems to favour the contrary opinion. The word in the 
original is sipho, which Hesychius explains (as one of the commentators observes), 
"instrumentum ad jaculandas aquas adversui incmjia"; "an instrument to throw up 
water against fires." But there is a passage in Seneca which seems to put this matter 
beyond conjecture, though none of the critics upon this place have taken notice of it: 
"Solemut," says he, "duahus manihut inter se pinctis aquam concipere, el compressa 
utrimque palma in modum siphonis exprimere" (Q. N. I. ii. i6); where we plainly 
see the use of this sipho was to throw up water, and consequently the Romans were 
acquainted with that art. The account whkb Pliny gives of his fouolaios at Tuscum 
is likewise another evident proof, hi. 

37^ PLINY 

several other cities. But it is to be remembered that societies of this 
sort have greatly disturbed the peace of the province in general, and 
of those cities in particular. Whatever name we give them, and 
for whatever purposes they may be founded, they will not fail to 
form themselves into factious assemblies, however short their meet- 
ings may be. It will therefore be safer to provide such machines as 
are of service in extinguishing fires, enjoining the owners of houses 
to assist in preventing the mischief from spreading, and, if it should 
be necessary, to call in the aid of the populace. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

We have acquitted. Sir, and renewed our annual vows' for your 
prosperity, in which that of the empire is essentially involved, im- 
ploring the gods to grant us ever thus to pay and thus to repeat 


Trajan to Pliny 

I RECEIVED the satisfaction, my dearest Secundus, of being informed 
by your letter that you, together with the people under your govern- 
ment, have both discharged and renewed your vows to the immortal 
gods for my health and happiness. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

The citizens of Nicomedia, Sir, have expended three million, 
three hundred and twenty-nine sesterces' in building an aqueduct; 
but, not being able to finish it, the works are entirely falling to 
ruin. They made a second attempt in another place, where they laid 
out two millions.' But this likewise is discontinued; so that, after 
having been at an immense charge to no purpose, they must still 
be at a further expense, in order to be accommodated with water. I 

' This was an anniversary custom observed throughout the empire on the 30th of 
December. M. * About $132,000. ' About $80,000. 


have examined a fine spring from whence the water may be con- 
veyed over arches (as was attempted in their first design) in such 
a manner that the higher as well as level and low parts of the city 
may be supplied. There are still remaining a very few of the old 
arches; and the square stones, moreover, employed in the former 
building, may be used in turning the new arches. I am of opinion 
part should be raised with brick, as that will be the easier and 
cheaper material. But that this work may not meet with the 
same ill success as the former, it will be necessary to send here an 
architect, or someone skilled in the construction of this kind of 
waterworks. And I will venture to say, from the beauty and useful- 
ness of the design, it will be an erection well worthy the splendour 
of your times. 


Trajan to Pliny 

Care must be taken to supply the city of Nicomedia with water; 
and that business, I am well persuaded, you will perform with all 
the diligence you ought. But really it is no less incumbent upon 
you to examine by whose misconduct it has happened that such 
large sums have been thrown away upon this, lest they apply the 
money to private purposes, and the aqueduct in question, like the 
preceding, should be begun, and afterwards left unfinished. You 
will let me know the result of your enquiry. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

The citizens of Nicea, Sir, are building a theatre, which, though 
it is not yet finished, has already exhausted, as I am informed (for 
I have not examined the account myself), above ten millions of 
sesterces;' and, what is worse, I fear to no purpose. For either from 
the foundation being laid in soft, marshy ground, or that the stone 

' About $400,000. To those who arc not acquainted with the immense riches of 
the ancients, it may seem incredible that a city, and not the capital one either, of 
a conquered province should expend so large a sum of money upon only the shell 
(as it appears to be) of a theatre: but Asia was esteemed the most considerable part 
of the world for wealth; its fertility and exportations (as TuUy observes) exceeding 
those of all other countries. M. 

380 PLINY 

itself is light and crumbling, the walls are sinking, and cracked 
from top to bottom. It deserves your consideration, therefore, 
whether it would be best to carry on this work, or entirely discon- 
tinue it, or rather, perhaps, whether it would not be most prudent 
absolutely to destroy it : for the buttresses and foundations by means 
of which it is from time to time kept up appear to me more 
expensive than solid. Several private persons have undertaken to 
build the compartments of this theatre at their own expense, some 
engaging to erect the portico, others the galleries over the pit:' but 
this design cannot be executed, as the principal building which 
ought first to be completed is now at a stand. This city is also 
rebuilding, upon a far more enlarged plan, the gymnasium,' which 
was burnt down before my arrival in the province. They have 
already been at some (and, I rather fear, a fruitless) expense. The 
structure is not only irregular and ill-proportioned, but the present 
architect (who, it must be owned, is a rival to the person who was 
first employed) asserts that the walls, although twenty-two feet* 
in thickness, are not strong enough to support the superstructure, 
as the interstices are filled up with quarry-stones, and the walls are 
not overlaid with brickwork. Also the inhabitants of Claudiopolis' 
are sinking (I cannot call it erecting) a large public bath, upon a 
low spot of ground which lies at the foot of a mountain. The fund 
appropriated for the carrying on of this work arises from the money 
which those honorary members you were pleased to add to the 
senate paid (or, at least, are ready to pay whenever I call upon 
them) for their admission.' As I am afraid, therefore, the public 
money in the city of Nicea, and (what is infinitely more valuable 
than any pecuniary consideration) your bounty in that of Nicopolis, 
should be ill applied, I must desire you to send hither an architect 

* The word cavea, in the original, comprehends more than what we call the pit in 
our theatres, as it means the whole space in which the spectators sat. These theatres, 
being open at the top, the galleries here mentioned were for the convenience of 
retiring in bad weather. M. 

' A place in which the athletic exercises were performed, and where the philosophers 
also used to read their lectures. M. 

*The Roman foot consisted of 11.7 inches of our standard. M. 

* A colony in the district of Cataonia, in Cappadocia. 

'The honorary senators, that is, such who were not received into the council of 
the city by election, but by the appointment of the emperor, paid a certain sum 
of money upon their admission into the senate. M. 


to inspect, not only the theatre, but the bath; in order to consider 
whether, after all the expense which has already been laid out, it 
will be better to finish them upon the present plan, or alter the one, 
and remove the other, in as far as may seem necessary: for other- 
wise we may perhaps throw away our future cost in endeavouring 
not to lose what we have already expended. 


Trajan to Pliny 

You, who are upon the spot, will best be able to consider and 
determine what is proper to be done concerning the the.itre which 
the inhabitants of Nicea are building; as for myself, it will be 
sufficient if you let me know your determination. With respect to 
the particular parts of this theatre which are to be raised at a private 
charge, you will see those engagements fulfilled when the body 
of the building to which they are to be annexed shall be finished. — 
These paltry Greeks' are, I know, immoderately fond of gymnastic 
diversions, and therefore, perhaps, the citizens of Nicea have planned 
a more magnificent building for this purpose than is necessary; 
however, they must be content with such as will be sufficient to 
answer the purpose for which it is intended. I leave it entirely to 
you to persuade the Claudiopolitani as you shall think proper with 
regard to their bath, which they have placed, it seems, in a very 
improper situation. As there is no province that is not furnished 
with men of skill and ingenuity, you cannot possibly want architects; 
unless you think it the shortest way to procure them from Rome, 
when it is generally from Greece that they come to us. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

When I reflect upon the splendour of your exalted station, and 
the magnanimity of your spirit, nothing, I am persuaded, can be 
more suitable to both than to point out to you such works as are 

' "GrircuU. Even under the empire, with its relaxed morality and luxurious tone, 
the Romans continued to apply this contemptuous designation to a people to whom 
they owed what taste for art and culture they possessed." Church and Brodribb. 

382 PLINY 

worthy of your glorious and immortal name, as being no less useful 
than magnificent. Bordering upon the territories of the city of 
Nicomedia is a most extensive lake; over which marbles, fruits, 
woods, and all kinds of materials, the commodities of the country, 
are brought over in boats up to the highroad, at little trouble and 
expense, but from thence are conveyed in carriages to the seaside, 
at a much greater charge and with great labour. To remedy this 
inconvenience, many hands will be in request; but upon such an 
occasion they cannot be wanting: for the country, and particularly 
the city, is exceedingly populous; and one may assuredly hope that 
every person will readily engage in a work which will be of universal 
benefit. It only remains then to send hither, if you shall think 
proper, a surveyor or an architect, in order to examine whether the 
lake lies above the level of the sea; the engineers of this province 
being of opinion that the former is higher by forty cubits.' I find 
there is in the neighbourhood of this place a large canal, which was 
cut by a king of this country; but as it is left unfinished, it is 
uncertain whether it was for the purpose of draining the adjacent 
fields, or making a communication between the lake and the river. 
It is equally doubtful too whether the death of the king, or the 
despair of being able to accomplish the design, prevented the com- 
pletion of it. If this was the reason, I am so much the more eager 
and warmly desirous, for the sake of your illustrious character (and 
I hope you will pardon me the ambition), that you may have the 
glory of executing what flings could only attempt. 


Trajan to Pliny 

There is something in the scheme you propose of opening a com- 
munication between the lake and the sea, which may, perhaps, 
tempt me to consent. But you must first carefully examine the 
situation of this body of water, what quantity it contains, and from 
whence it is supplied; lest, by giving it an opening into the sea, it 
should be totally drained. You may apply to Calpurnius Macer for 

' A Roman cubit is equal to i foot, 5.406 inches of our measure. Arbuthnot's 
Tab. A/. 


an engineer, and I will also send you from hence someone skilled 
in works of this nature. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

Upon examining into the public expenses of the city of Byzantium, 
which, I find, are extremely great, 1 was informed. Sir, that the 
appointments of the ambassador whom they send yearly to you with 
their homage, and the decree which passes in the senate upon 
that occasion, amount to twelve thousand sesterces.' But knowing 
the generous maxims of your government, I thought proper to send 
the decree without the ambassador, that, at the same time they dis- 
charged their public duty to you, their expense incurred in the 
manner of paying it might be lightened. This city is likewise 
taxed with the sum of three thousand sesterces' towards defraying 
the expense of an envoy, whom they annually send to compliment 
the governor of Mcesia: this expense I have also directed to be spared. 
I beg. Sir, you would deign either to confirm my judgment or correct 
my error in these points, by acquainting me with your sentiments. 


Trajan to Pliny 

I ENTrcELY approve, my dearest Secundus, of your having excused 
the Byzantines that expense of twelve thousand sesterces in sending 
an ambassador to me. I shall esteem their duty as sufficiently paid, 
though I only receive the act of their senate through your hands. 
The governor of Mcesia must likewise excuse them if they com- 
pliment him at a less expense. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

I BEG, Sir, you would settle a doubt I have concerning your 
diplomas' whether you think proper that those diplomas the dates 

' About $4 80. 'About $120. 

' A diploma is properly a grant of certain privilcjfes cither to particular places or 
persons. It signifies also grants of other kinds; and it sometimes means post-warrants, 
as, perhaps, it does in this place. M. 

384 PLINY 

of which are expired shall continue in force, and for how long? 
For I am apprehensive I may, through ignorance, either confirm 
such of these instruments as are illegal or prevent the effect of those 
which are necessary. 


Tkajan to Pliny 

The diplomas whose dates are expired must by no means be 
made use of. For which reason it is an inviolable rule with me 
to send new instruments of this kind into all the provinces before 
they are immediately wanted. 

To THE Emperor Trajan 

Upon intimating, Sir, my intention to the city of Apamea,' of 
examining into the state of their public dues, their revenue and 
expenses, they told me they were all extremely willing I should 
inspect their accounts, but that no proconsul had ever yet looked 
them over, as they had a privilege (and that of a very ancient date) 
of administering the affairs of their corporation in the manner they 
thought proper. I required them to draw up a memorial of what 
they then asserted, which I transmit to you precisely as I received 
it; though I am sensible it contains several things foreign to the 
question. I beg you will deign to instruct me as to how I am to 
act in this affair, for I should be extremely sorry either to exceed or 
fall short of the duties of my commission. 


Trajan to Pliny 

The memorial of the Apameans annexed to your letter has saved 
me the necessity of considering the reasons they suggest why the 
former proconsuls forebore to inspect their accounts, since they 
are willing to submit them to your examination. Their honest 
compliance deserves to be rewarded; and they may be assured the 
' A city in Bithynia. M. 


enquiry you are to make in pursuance of my orders shall be with 
a full reserve to their privileges. 

To THE Emperor Trajan 
The Nicomedians, Sir, before my arrival in this province, had 
begun to build a new forum adjoining their former, in a corner 
of which stands an ancient temple dedicated to the mother of the 
gods.' This fabric must either be repaired or removed, and for this 
reason chiefly, because it is a much lower building than that very 
lofty one which is now in process of erection. Upon enquiry whether 
this temple had been consecrated, I was informed that their cere- 
monies of dedication differ from ours. You will be pleased, there- 
fore. Sir, to consider whether a temple which has not been con- 
secrated according to our rites may be removed,' consistently with 
the reverence due to religion: for, if there should be no objection 
from that quarter, the removal in every other respect would be 
extremely convenient. 


Trajan to Pliny 

You may without scruple, my dearest Secundus, if the situation 
requires it, remove the temple of the mother of the gods, from the 
place where it now stands, to any other spot more convenient. You 
need be under no difficulty with respect to the act of dedication; 
for the ground of a foreign city' is not capable of receiving that 
kind of consecration which is sanctified by our laws. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

We have celebrated, Sir (with those sentiments of joy your virtues 
so justly merit), the day of your accession to the empire, which 

' Cybclc. Rhea, or Ops, as she is otherwise called; from whom, according to the 
pagan creed, the rest of the gods are supposed to have descended. M. 

' Whatever was legally consecrated was ever afterwards unapplicable to profane 
uses. M. 

' That is, a city not admitted to enjoy the laws and privileges of Rome. M. 

386 PLINY 

was also its preservation, imploring the gods to preserve you in 
health and prosperity; for ujxin your welfare the security and 
repose of the world depend. I renewed at the same time the oath 
of allegiance at the head of the army, which repeated it after me 
in the usual form, the people of the province zealously concurring 
in the same oath. 


Trajan to Pliny 

Your letter, my dearest Secundus, was extremely acceptable, as 
it informed me of the zeal and affection with which you, together 
with the army and the provincials, solemnized the day of my acces- 
sion to the empire. 

To THE Emperor Trajan 

The debts which were owing to the public are, by the prudence, 
Sir, of your counsels, and the care of my administration, either 
actually paid in or now being collected: but I am afraid the money 
must lie unemployed. For as, on one side, there are few or no 
opportunities of purchasing land, so, on the other, one cannot meet 
with any person who is willing to borrow of the public' (especially 
at 12 per cent, interest) when they can raise money upon the same 
terms from private sources. You will consider then, Sir, whether 
it may not be advisable, in order to invite responsible persons to 
take this money, to lower the interest; or if that scheme should 
not succeed, to place it in the hands of the decurii, upon their 
giving sufficient security to the public. And though they should 
not be willing to receive it, yet as the rate of interest will be dim- 
inished, the hardship will be so much the less. 

• The reason why they did not choose to borrow of the public at the same rate of 
interest which they paid to private persons was (as one of the commentators observes) 
because in the former instance they were obliged to give security, whereas in the 
latter they could raise money upon their personal credit. M. 



Trajan to Pliny 

I AGREE with you, my dear Pliny, that there seems to be no other 
method of facilitating the placing out of the public money than by 
lowering the interest; the measure of which you will determine 
according to the number of the borrowers. But to compel persons 
to receive it who are not disposed to do so, when possibly they them- 
selves may have no oppwrtunity of employing it, is by no means 
consistent with the justice of my government. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

I RETURN you my warmest acknowledgments, Sir, that, among 
the many important occupations in which you are engaged, you 
have condescended to be my guide on those [xjints on which I have 
consulted you: a favour which I must now again beseech you to 
grant me. A certain person presented himself with a complaint 
that his adversaries, who had been banished for three years by the 
illustrious Servilius Calvus, still remained in the province: they, on 
the contrary, affirmed that Calvus had revoked their sentence, and 
produced his edict to that effect. I thought it necessary, therefore, 
to refer the whole affair to you. For as I have your express orders 
not to restore any person who has been sentenced to banishment 
either by myself or others, so I have no directions with respect to 
those who, having been banished by some of my predecessors in 
this government, have by them also been restored. It is necessary 
for me, therefore, to beg you would inform me, Sir, how I am to 
act with regard to the above-mentioned persons, as well as others, 
who, after having been condemned to perpetual banishment, have 
been found in the province without permission to return; for 
cases of that nature have likewise fallen under my cognizance. A 
person was brought before me who had been sentenced to perpetual 
exile by the proconsul Julius Bassus, but knowing that the acts 
of Bassus, during his administration, had been rescinded, and that 

388 PLINY 

the senate had granted leave to all those who had fallen under his 
condemnation of appealing from his decision at any time within 
the space of two years, I enquired of this man whether he had 
accordingly stated his case to the proconsul. He replied he had not. 
I beg then you would inform me whether you would have him 
sent back into exile, or whether you think some more severe and 
what kind of punishment should be inflicted upon him, and such 
others who may hereafter be found under the same circumstances. 
I have annexed to my letter the decree of Calvus, and the edict by 
which the persons above-mentioned were restored, as also the decree 
of Bassus. 


Trajan to Pliny 

I WILL let you know my determination concerning those exiles 
wIh) were banished for three years by the proconsul P. Servilius 
Calvus, and soon afterwards restored to the province by his edict, 
when I shall have informed myself from him of the reasons of 
this proceeding. With respect to that person who was sentenced 
to perpetual banishment by Julius Bassus, yet continued to remain 
in the province, without making his appeal if he thought himself 
aggrieved (though he had two years given him for that purpose), 
I would have him sent in chains to my praetorian prefects:' for, 
only to remand him back to a punishment which he has con- 
tumaciously eluded will by no means be a sufficient punishment. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

When I cited the judges. Sir, to attend me at a sessions' which I 
was going to hold, Flavius Archippus claimed the privilege of 

' These, in the original institution as settled by Au^^stus, were only commanders 
of his body-f(uards; but in the later times of the Roman empire they were next in 
authority under the emperor, to whom they seem to have acted as a sort of prime 
ministers. M. 

' The provinces were divided into a kind of circuits called convenlut, whither the 
proconsuls used to go in order to administer justice. The judges here mentioned 
must not be understood to mean the same sort of judicial officers as with us; they 
rather answered to our juries. M. 


being excused as exercising the profession of a philosopher.' It 
was alleged by some who were present that he ought not only to 
be excused from that office, but even struck out of the roll of judges, 
and remanded back to the punishment from which he had escaped 
by breaking his chains. At the same time a sentence of the pro- 
consul Velius Paullus was read, by which it appeared that Archippus 
had been condemned to the mines for forgery. He had nothing 
to produce in proof of this sentence having ever been reversed. 
He alleged, however, in favour of his restitution, a petition which 
he presented to Domitian, together with a letter from that prince, 
and a decree of the Prusensians in his honour. To these he sub- 
joined a letter which he had received from you; as also an edict 
and a letter of your august father confirming the grants which had 
been made to him by Domitian. For these reasons, notwithstanding 
crimes of so atrocious a nature were laid to his charge, I did not 
think proper to determine anything concerning him, without first 
consulting with you, as it is an affair which seems to merit your 
particular decision. I have transmitted to you, with this letter, the 
several allegations on both sides. 

Domitian's Letter to TEREhnrius Maximus 

"Flavins Archippus, the philosopher, has prevailed with me to 
give an order that six hundred thousand sesterces* be laid out in the 
purchase of an estate for the support of him and his family, in 
the neighbourhood of Prusias,' his native country. Let this be ac- 
cordingly done; and place that sum to the account of my bene- 

From the Same to L. Appius Maximus 

"I recommend, my dear Maximus, to your protection that worthy 
philosopher, Archippus; a person whose moral conduct is agree- 

' By the imperial constitutions the philosophers were exempted from all public 
functions. Catanzus. M. 

* About $24,000. 

'Geographers arc not agreed where to place this cit)'; Cellarius conjectures it may 
possibly be the same with Prusa ad Olympum, Prusa at the foot of Mount Olympus 
in Mysia. M. 

390 PLINY 

able to the principles of the philosophy he professes; and I would 
have you pay entire regard to whatever he shall reasonably request." 

The Edict of the Emperor Nerva 

"There are some points, no doubt, Quirites, concerning which the 
happy tenor of my government is a sufficient indication of my 
sentiments; and a good prince need not give an express declaration 
in matters wherein his intention cannot but be clearly understood. 
Every citizen in the empire will bear me witness that I gave up 
my private repose to the security of the public, and in order that I 
might have the pleasure of dispensing new bounties of my own, 
as also of confirming those which had been granted by predecessors. 
But lest the memory of him' who conferred these grants, or the 
diffidence of those who received them, should occasion any inter- 
ruption to the public joy, I thought it as necessary as it is agreeable to 
me to obviate these suspicions by assuring them of my indulgence. I 
do not wish any man who has obtained a private or a public 
privilege from one of the former emperors to imagine he is to 
be deprived of such a privilege, merely that he may owe the restora- 
tion of it to me; nor need any who have received the gratifications 
of imperial favour petition me to have them confirmed. Rather 
let them leave me at leisure for conferring new grants, under the 
assurance that I am only to be solicited for those bounties which 
have not already been obtained, and which the happier fortune of 
the empire has put it in my power to bestow." 

From the Same to Tullius Justus 

"Since I have publicly decreed that all acts begun and accomplished 
in former reigns should be confirmed, the letters of E>omitian must 
remain valid." 


To the Emperor Trajan 

Flavius Archippus has conjured me, by all my vows for your 
prosperity, and by your immortal glory, that I would transmit to 

' Domitian. 


you the memorial which he presented to me. I could not refuse a 
request couched in such terms; however, I acquainted the prosecutrix 
with this my intention, from whom I have also received a memorial 
on her part. I have annexed them ixjth to this letter; that by hearing, 
as it were, each party, you may the better be enabled to decide. 


Trajan to Plinv 

It is possible that Domitian might have been ignorant of the 
circumstances in which Archippus was when he wrote the letter 
so much to that philosopher's credit. However, it is more agreeable 
to my disposition to suppose that prince designed he should be 
restored to his former situation; especially since he so often had 
the honour of a statue decreed to him by those who could not be 
ignorant of the sentence pronounced against him by the proconsul 
Paullus. But I do not mean to intimate, my dear Pliny, that if any 
new charge should be brought against him, you should be the 
less disposed to hear his accusers. I have examined the memorial 
of his prosecutrix, Furia Prima, as well as that of Archippus himself, 
which you sent with your last letter. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

The apprehensions you express. Sir, that the lake will be in 
danger of being entirely drained if a communication should be 
opened between that and the sea, by means of the river, are agreeable 
to that prudence and forethought you so eminently possess; but 
I think I have found a method to obviate that inconvenience. A 
channel may be cut from the lake up to the river so as not quite 
to join them, leaving just a narrow strip of land between, preserving 
the lake; by this means it will not only be kept quite separate from 
the river, but all the same purposes will be answered as if they 
were united: for it will be extremely easy to convey over that little 
intervening ridge whatever goods shall be brought down by the 
canal. This is a scheme which may be pursued, if it should be found 

392 PLINY 

necessary; but I hope there will be no occasion to have recourse 
to it. For, in the first place, the lake itself is pretty deep; and, in 
the next, by damming up the river which runs from it on the 
opposite side and turning its course as we shall find expedient, the 
same quantity of water may be retained. Besides, there are several 
brooks near the place where it is proposed the channel shall be 
cut which, if skilfully collected, will supply the lake with water in 
proportion to what it shall discharge. But if you should rather 
approve of the channel's being extended farther and cut narrower, 
and so conveyed directly into the sea, without running into the 
river, the reflux of the tide will return whatever it receives from 
the lake. After all, if the nature of the place should not admit of 
any of these schemes, the course of the water may be checked 
by sluices. These, however, and many other particulars, will be 
more skilfully examined into by the engineer, whom, indeed. Sir, 
you ought to send, according to your promise, for it is an enterprise 
well worthy of your attention and magnificence. In the meanwhile, 
I have written to the illustrious Calpurnius Macer, in pursuance of 
your orders, to send me the most skilful engineer to be had. 


Trajan to Pliny 

It is evident, my dearest Secundus, that neither your prudence 
nor your care has been wanting in this affair of the lake, since, in 
order to render it of more general benefit, you have provided so 
many expedients against the danger of its being drained. I leave 
it to your own choice to pursue whichever of the schemes shall be 
thought most proper. Calpurnius Macer will furnish you, no doubt, 
with an engineer, as artificers of that kind are not wanting in his 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

A VERY considerable question. Sir, in which the whole province is 

interested, has been lately started, concerning the state' and main- 

' That is, whether they should be considered in a state of freedom or slavery. M. 


tenance of deserted children.* I have examined the constitutions of 
former princes upon this head, but not finding anything in them 
relating, either in general or particular, to the Bithynians, I thought 
it necessary to apply to you for your directions: for in a point 
which seems to require the special interposition of your authority, 
I could not content myself with following precedents. An edict of 
the emperor Augustus (as pretended) was read to me, concerning 
one Annia; as also a letter from Vespasian to the Lacedxmonians, 
and another from Titus to the same, with one likewise from him 
to the Achacans, also some letters from Domitian, directed to the 
proconsuls Avidius Nigrinus and Armenius Brocchus, together with 
one from that prince to the Lacedaemonians: but I have not trans- 
mitted them to you, as they were not correct (and some of them 
too of doubtful authenticity), and also because I imagine the true 
copies are preserved in your archives. 

Trajan to Pliny 

The question concerning children who were exposed by their 
parents, and afterwards preserved by others, and educated in a state 
of servitude, though born free, has been frequently discussed; but 
I do not find in the constitutions of the princes my predecessors 
any general regulation upon this head, extending to all the provinces. 
There are, indeed, some rescripts of Domitian to Avidius Nigrinus 
and Armenius Brocchus, which ought to be observed; but Bithynia 
is not comprehended in the provinces therein mentioned. I am of 
opinion, therefore, that the claims of those who assert their right 
of freedom up)on this footing should be allowed; without obliging 
them to purchase their liberty by repaying the money advanced 
for their maintenance.' 

' "Parents throufihnut the entire ancient world had the right to expose their children 
and leave them to their fate. Hence would sometimes arise the question whether 
such a child, if found and brought up by another, was entitled to his freedom, 
whether also the person thus adopting him must grant him his freedom without 
repayment for the cost of maintenance." Church and Brodribb. 

' "This decision of Trajan, the effect of which would be that persons would be 
slow to adopt an abandoned child which, when brought up, its unnatural parents 
could claim back without any compensation for its nurture, seems harsh, and we 
find that it was disregarded by the later emperors in their legal decisions on the 
nibject." Church and Brodribb. 

394 PLINY 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

Having been petitioned by some persons to grant them the 
liberty (agreeably to the practice of former proconsuls) of removing 
the relics of their deceased relations, upon the suggestion that either 
their monuments were decayed by age or ruined by the inundations 
of the river, or for other reasons of the same kind, I thought proper. 
Sir, knowing that in cases of this nature it is usual at Rome to 
apply to the college of priests, to consult you, who are the sovereign 
of chat sacred order, as to how you would have me act in this case. 


Trajan to Pliny 

It will be a hardship upon the provincials to oblige them to 
address themselves to the college of priests whenever they may 
have just reasons for removing the ashes of their ancestors. In this 
case, therefore, it will be better you should follow the example of 
the governors your predecessors, and grant or deny them this liberty 
as you shall see reasonable. 


To the Emperor Trajan 

I HAVE enquired. Sir, at Prusa, for a proper place on which to 
erect the bath you were pleased to allow that city to build, and 
I have found one to my satisfaction. It is upon the site where 
formerly, I am told, stood a very beautiful mansion, but which is 
now entirely fallen into ruins. By fixing upon that spot, we shall 
gain the advantage of ornamenting the city in a part which at 
present is exceedingly deformed, and enlarging it at the same time 
without removing any of the buildings; only restoring one which 
is fallen to decay. There are some circumstances attending this 
structure of which it is proper I should inform you. Claudius 
Polyxnus bequeathed it to the emperor Claudius Cxsar, with 


directions that a temple should be erected to that prince in a 
colonnade-court, and that the remainder of the house should be let 
in apartments. The city received the rents for a considerable time; 
but partly by its having been plundered, and partly by its being 
neglected, the whole house, colonnade-court and all, is entirely gone 
to ruin, and there is now scarcely anything remaining of it but 
the ground upon which it stood. If you shall think proper. Sir, 
either to give or sell this spwt of ground to the city, as it lies so 
conveniently for their purpose, they will receive it as a most par- 
ticular favour. I intend, with your permission, to place the bath in 
the vacant area, and to extend a range of porticoes with seats in that 
part where the former edifice stood. This new erection I purpose 
dedicating to you, by whose bounty it will rise with all the elegance 
and magnificence worthy of your glorious name. I have sent you 
a copy of the will, by which, though it is inaccurate, you will see 
that Polyxnus left several articles of ornament for the embellishment 
of this house; but these also are lost with all the rest: I will, however, 
make the strictest enquiry after them that I am able. 


Trajan to Pliny 

I HAVE no objeaion to the Prusenses making use of the ruined 
court and house, which you say are untenanted, for the erection 
of their bath. But it is not sufficiently clear by your letter whether 
the temple in the centre of the colonnade<ourt was actually dedicated 
to Claudius or not; for if it were, it is still consecrated ground.' 

To THE Emperor Trajan 

I HAVE been pressed by some persons to take upon myself the 
enquiry of causes relating to claims of freedom by birthright, agree- 
ably to a rescript of Domitian's to Minucius Rufus, and the practice 
of former proconsuls. But upon casting my eye on the decree of 
the senate concerning cases of this nature, I find it only mentions 

' And consequently by the Roman laws unapplicable to any other purpose. M. 

396 PLINY 

the proconsular provinces.' I have therefore, Sir, deferred interfering 
in this affair, till I shall receive your instructions as to how you would 
have me proceed. 


Trajan to Pliny 

If you will send me the decree of the senate, which occasioned 
your doubt, I shall be able to judge whether it is proper you should 
take ufx)n yourself the enquiry of causes relating to claims of free- 
dom by birthright. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

Julius Largu% of Pontus' (a person whom I never saw, nor indeed 
ever heard his name till lately), in confidence, Sir, of your distin- 
guishing judgment in my favour, has entrusted me with the execu- 
tion of the last instance of his loyalty towards you. He has left me, by 
his will, his estate upon trust, in the first place to receive out of 
it fifty thousand sesterces' for my own use, and to apply the re- 
mainder for the benefit of the cities of Heraclea and Tios,* either by 
erecting some public edifice dedicated to your honour or instituting 
athletic games, according as I shall judge proper. These games are 
to be celebrated every five years, and to be called Trajan's games. 
My principal reason for acquainting you with this bequest is that 
I may receive your directions which of the respective alternatives 
to choose. 

'The Roman provinces in the times of the emperors were of two sorts: those which 
were distinguished by the name of the provinciir Casarit and the provincig senatus. 
The provincix Ctriaris, or imperial provinces, were such as the emperor, for reasons 
of policy, reserved to his own immediate administration, or of those whom be thought 
proper to appoint: the provincite senatus, or proconsular provinces, were such as he 
left to the government of proconsuls or pritors, chosen in the ordinar>' method of 
election. (Vid. Suet, in Aug. c. 47.) Of the former kind was Bithynia, at the time 
when our author presided there. (Vid. Masson, Vit. Plin. p. 133.) M. 

^ A province in Asia, bordering upon the Black Sea, and by some ancient geographers 
considered as one province with Bithynia. M. 

' About $2,000. M. 

* Cities of Pontus near the Euxine or Black Sea. M. 



Trajan to Puny 

By the prudent choice JuHus Largus has made of a trustee, one 
would imagine he had known you perfectly well. You will consider 
then what will most tend to perpetuate his memory, under the 
circumstances of the respective cities, and make your option ac- 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

You acted agreeably, Sir, to your usual prudence and foresight in 
ordering the illustrious Calpurnius Macer to send a legionary cen- 
turion to Byzantium : you will consider whether the city of Juliopolis' 
does not deserve the same regard, which, though it is extremely 
small, sustains very great burthens, and is so much the more exposed 
to injuries as it is less capable of resisting them. Whatever benefits 
you shall confer upon that city will in effect be advantageous to 
the whole country; for it is situated at the entrance of Bithynia, 
and is the town through which all who travel into this province 
generally pass. 


Trajan to Pliny 

The circumstances of the city of Byzantium are such, by the great 
confluence of strangers to it, that I held it incumbent upon me, 
and consistent with the customs of former reigns, to send thither 
a legionary centurion's guard to preserve the privileges of that state. 
But if we should distinguish the city of Juliopolis in the same way, it 
will be introducing a precedent for many others, whose claim to that 
favour will rise in proportion to their want of strength. I have 
so much confidence, however, in your administration as to believe 

' Gordium, the old capital of Phrygia. It afterwards, in the reign of the emperor 
Augustus, received the name of Juliopolis. (See Smith's Classical Diet.) 

398 PLINY 

you will omit no method of protecting them from injuries. If any 
persons shall act contrary to the discipline I have enjoined, let 
them be instantly corrected; or if they happen to be soldiers, and 
their crimes should be too enormous for immediate chastisement, I 
would have them sent to their officers, with an account of the particu- 
lar misdemeanour you shall find they have been guilty of; but if the 
delinquents should be on their way to Rome, inform me by letter. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

By a law of Pompey's' concerning the Bithynians, it is enacted, 
Sir, that no person shall be a magistrate, or be chosen into the 
senate, under the age of thirty. By the same law it is declared that 
those who have exercised the office of magistrate are qualified to 
be members of the senate. Subsequent to this law, the emperor 
Augustus published an edict, by which it was ordained that persons 
of the age of twenty-two should be capable of being magistrates. 
The question, therefore, is whether those who have exercised the 
functions of a magistrate before the age of thirty may be legally 
chosen into the senate by the censors?* And if so, whether, by the 
same kind of construction, they may be elected senators, at the 
age which entitles them to be magistrates, though they should not 
actually have borne any office? A custom which, it seems, has 
hitherto been observed, and is said to be expedient, as it is rather 
better that persons of noble birth should be admitted into the senate 
than those of plebeian rank. The censors elect having desired my 
sentiments upon this point, I was of opinion that both by the law 
of Pompey and the edict of Augustus those vvho had exercised 
the magistracy before the age of thirty might be chosen into the 
senate; and for this reason, because the edict allows the office of 
magistrate to be undertaken before thirty; and the law declares 

' Pompey the Great, havinjj subdued Mithridatcs, and by that means greatly enlarged 
the Roman empire, passed several laws relating to the newly conquered provinces, 
and, among others, that which is here mentioned. M. 

' The right of electing senators did not originally belong to the censors, who were 
only, as Cicero somewhere calls them, guardians of the discipline and manners of the 
city: but in process of time they engrossed the whole privilege of conferring that 
honour. M. 


that whoever has been a magistrate should be eligible for the 
senate. But with respect to those who never discharged any office 
in the state, though they were of the age required for that purpose, 
I had some doubt: and therefore, Sir, I apply to you for your 
directions. I have subjoined to this letter the heads of the law, 
together with the edict of Augustus. 


Trajan to Pliny 

I AGREE with you, my dearest Secundus, in your construction, 
and am of opinion that the law of Pompey is so far repealed by 
the edict of the emperor Augustus that those persons who are not 
less than twenty-two years of age may execute the office of magis- 
trates, and, when they have, may be received into the senate of their 
respective cities. But I think that they who are under thirty years 
of age, and have not discharged the function of a magistrate, can- 
not, upon pretence that in point of years they were competent to 
the office, legally be elected into the senate of their several com- 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

Whilst I was despatching some public affairs, Sir, at my apart- 
ments in Prusa, at the foot of Olympus, with the intention of leaving 
that city the same day, the magistrate Asclepiades informed me 
that Eumolpus had appealed to me from a motion which Coc- 
ceianus Dion made in their senate. Dion, it seems, having been 
appointed supervisor of a public building, desired that it might be 
assigned' to the city in form. Eumolpus, who was counsel for 
Flavius Archippus, insisted that Dion should first be required to 
deliver in his accounts relating to this work, before it was assigned 
to the corporation; suggesting that he had not acted in the manner 
he ought. He added, at the same time, that in this building, in 

' Thi^ probably, was some act whereby the city was to ratify and confirm the pro- 
ceedings of Dion under the commission assigned to him. 

400 PLINY 

which your statue is erected, the bodies of Dion's wife and son 
are entombed/ and urged me to hear this cause in the public court 
of judicature. Uf)on my at once assenting to his request, and 
deferring my journey for that purpose, he desired a longer day in 
order to prepare matters for hearing, and that I would try this 
cause in some other city. I appointed the city of Nicea; where, 
when I had taken my seat, the same Eumolpus, pretending not to 
be yet sufficiently instructed, moved that the trial might be again 
put off: Dion, on the contrary, insisted it should be heard. They 
debated this p)oint very fully on both sides, and entered a little into 
the merits of the cause; when, being of opinion that it was reason- 
able it should be adjourned, and thinking it proper to consult with 
you in an affair which was of consequence in point of precedent, I 
directed them to exhibit the articles of their resfjective allegations in 
writing; for I was desirous you should judge from their own repre- 
sentations of the state of the question between them. Dion promised 
to comply with this direction, and Eumolpus also assured me he 
would draw up a memorial of what he had to allege on the part 
of the community. But he added that, being only concerned as 
advocate on behalf of Archippus, whose instructions he had laid 
before me, he had no charge to bring with respect to the sepulchres. 
Archippus, however, for whom Eumolpus was counsel here, as at 
Prusa, assured me he would himself present a charge in form upon 
this head. But neither Eumolpus nor Archippus (though I have 
waited several days for that purpose) have yet performed their 
engagement: Dion indeed has; and I have annexed his memorial to 
this letter. I have inspected the buildings in question, where I find 
your statue is placed in a library; and as to the edifice in which the 
bodies of Dion's wife and son are said to be deposited, it stands in 
the middle of a court, which is enclosed with a colonnade. Deign, 
therefore, I entreat you. Sir, to direct my judgment in the determina- 
tion of this cause above all others, as it is a point to which the 

' It was a notion which Rcnerally prevailed with the ancients, in the Jewish as well 
as heathen world, that there was a pollution in the contact of dead bo<iies, and this 
they extended to the very house in which the corpse lay, and even to the uncovered 
vessels that stood in the same room. (Vid. Pot. Antiq. v. ii. i8i.) From some such 
opinion as this it is probable that the circumstance here mentioned, of placin); Trajan's 
statue where these bodies were deposited, was esteemed as a mark of disrespect to 
his person. 


public is greatly attentive, and necessarily so, since the fact is not 
only acknowledged, but countenanced by many precedents. 


Trajan to Pliny 

You well know, my dearest Secundus, that it is my standing 
maxim not to create an awe of my person by severe and rigorous 
measures, and by construing every slight offence into an act of 
treason; you had no reason, therefore, to hesitate a moment upon 
the point concerning which you thought proper to consult me. 
Without entering, therefore, into the merits of that question (to 
which I would by no means give any attention, though there were 
ever so many instances of the same kind), I recommend to your 
care the examination of Dion's accounts relating to the public works 
which he has finished; as it is a case in which the interest of the 
city is concerned, and as Dion neither ought nor, it seems, does 
refuse to submit to the examination. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

The Niceans having, in the name of their community, conjured 
me. Sir, by all my hopes and wishes for your prosperity and im- 
mortal glory (an adjuration which is and ought to be most sacred 
to me), to present to you their petition, I did not think myself at 
liberty to refuse them: I have therefore annexed it to this letter. 


Trajan to Pliny 

The Niceans, I find, claim a right, by an edict of Augustus, to 
the estate of every citizen who dies intestate. You will therefore 
summon the several parties interested in this question, and, examin- 
ing these pretensions, with the assistance of the procurators Virdius 
Gemellinus, and Epimachus, my freedman (having duly weighed 
every argument that shall be alleged against the claim), determine 
as shall appear most equitable. 

402 PUNY 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

May this and many succeeding birthdays be attended, Sir, with 
the highest felicity to you; and may you, in the midst of an un- 
interrupted course of heahh and prosperity, be still adding to the 
increase of that immortal glory which your virtues justly merit! 


Trajan to Pliny 

Your wishes, my dearest Secundus, for my enjoyment of many 
happy birthdays amidst the glory and prosperity of the republic 
were extremely agreeable to me. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

The inhabitants of Sinope' are ill supplied, Sir, with water, which, 
however, may be brought thither from about sixteen miles' distance 
in great plenty and perfection. The ground, indeed, near the source 
of this spring is, for rather over a mile, of a very suspicious and 
marshy nature; but I have directed an examination to be made 
(which will be effected at a small expense) whether it is sufficiently 
firm to supfx)rt any superstructure. I have taken care to provide a 
sufficient fund for this purpose, if you should approve, Sir, of a 
work so conducive to the health and enjoyment of this colony, 
greatly distressed by a scarcity of water. 

Trajan to Pliny 

I WOULD have you proceed, my dearest Secundus, in carefully 
examining whether the ground you suspect is firm enough to sup- 
port an aqueduct. For I have no manner of doubt that the Sinopian 

' A thriving Greek colony in the territory of Sinopis, on the Euxine. 


colony ought to be supplied with water; provided their Bnances 
will bear the expense of a work so conducive to their health and 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

The free and confederate city of the Amiseni' enjoys, by your 
indulgence, the privilege of its own laws. A memorial being pre- 
sented to me there, concerning a charitable institution,^ I have sub- 
joined it to this letter, that you may consider. Sir, whether, and 
how far, this society ought to be licensed or prohibited. 


Trajan to Pliny 

If the petition of the Amiseni which you have transmitted to me, 
concerning the establishment of a charitable society, be agreeable to 
their own laws, which by the articles of alliance it is stipulated they 
shall enjoy, I shall not oppose it; especially if these contributions are 
employed, not for the purpose of riot and faction, but for the sup 
port of the indigent. In other cities, however, which are subject to 
our laws, I would have all assemblies of this nature prohibited. 


To the Emperor Trajan 

Suetonius Tranquillus, Sir, is a most excellent, honourable, and 
learned man. I was so much pleased with his tastes and disposition 
that I have long since invited him into my family, as my constant 
guest and domestic friend; and my afleaion for him increased the 

' A colony of Athenians in the province of Pontus. Their town, Amisus, on the 
coast, was one of the residences of Milhridates. 

* Casaubon, in his observations upon Thcophrastus (as cited by one of the com- 
mentators), informs us that there were at Athens and other cities of Greece certain 
fraternities which paid into a common chest a monthly contribution towards the 
support of such of their members who had fallen into misfortunes; upon condition 
that, if ever they arrived to more prosperous circumstances, they should repay into 
the general fund the money so advanced. M. 

404 PLINY 

more I knew of him. Two reasons concur to render the privilege' 
which the law grants to those who have three children particularly 
necessary to him; I mean the bounty of his friends, and the ill 
success of his marriage. Those advantages, therefore, which nature 
has denied to him, he hopes to obtain from your goodness, by my 
intercession. I am thoroughly sensible. Sir, of the value of the 
privilege I am asking; but I know, too, I am asking it from one 
whose gracious compliance with all my desires I have amply ex- 
perienced. How passionately I wish to do so in the present instance, 
you will judge by my thus requesting it in my absence; which I 
would not, had it not been a favour which I am more than ordinarily 
anxious to obtain. 


Trajan to Pliny 

You cannot but be sensible, my dearest Secundus, how reserved I 
am in granting favours of the kind you desire; having frequently 
declared in the senate that I had not exceeded the number of which 
I assured that illustrious order I would be contented with. I have 
yielded, however, to your request, and have directed an article to be 
inserted in my register, that I have conferred upon Tranquillus, on 
my usual conditions, the privilege which the law grants to those 
who have three children. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

It is my invariable rule. Sir, to refer to you in all matters where 
I feel doubtful; for who is more capable of removing my scruples, 

' By the law fnr encouragement of matrimony (some account of which has already 
been given in a previous note), as a penalty upon those who lived bachelors, they were 
declared incapable of inheriting any legacy by will; so likewise, if, being married, they 
had no children, they could not claim the full advantage of benefactions of that 
kind. M. 

' This letter is esteemed at almost the only genuine monument of ecclesiastical 
antiquity relating to the times immediately succeeding the Apostles, it being written 
at most not above forty years after the death of St. Paul. It was preserved by the 
Christians themselves as a clear and unsuspicious evidence of the purity of their 
doctrines, and is frequently appealed to by the early writers of the Church against 
the calumnies of their adversaries. M. 


or informing my ignorance? Having never been present at any 
trials concerning those who profess Christianity, I am unacquainted 
not only with the nature of their crimes, or the measure of their 
punishment, but how far it is proper to enter into an examination 
concerning them. Whether, therefore, any difference is usually made 
with respect to ages, or no distinction is to be observed between the 
young and the adult; whether repentance entitles them to a pardon, 
or, if a man has been once a Christian, it avails nothing to desist 
from his error; whether the very profession of Christianity, un- 
attended with any criminal act, or only the crimes themselves in- 
herent in the profession are punishable; on all these points I am in 
great doubt. In the meanwhile, the method I have observed towards 
those who have been brought before me as Christians is this : I asked 
them whether they were Christians; if they admitted it, I repeated 
the question twice, and threatened them with punishment; if they 
persisted, I ordered them to be at once punished: for I was persuaded, 
whatever the nature of their opinions might be, a contumacious and 
inflexible obstinacy certainly deserved correction. There were others 
also brought before me possessed with the same infatuation, but 
being Roman citizens,' I directed them to be sent to Rome. But 
this crime spreading (as is usually the case) while it was actually 
under prosecution, several instances of the same nature occurred. 
An anonymous information was laid before me containing a charge 
against several persons, who upon examination denied they were 
Christians, or had ever been so. They repeated after me an invoca- 
tion to the gods, and offered religious rites with wine and incense 
before your statue (which for that purpose I had ordered to be 
brought, together with those of the gods), and even reviled the name 
of Christ: whereas there is no forcing, it is said, those who are really 
Christians into any of these compliances: I thought it proper, there- 
fore, to discharge them. Some among those who were accused by a 
witness in person at first confessed themselves Christians, but im- 
mediately after denied it; the rest owned indeed that they had been 
of that number formerly, but had now (some above three, others 

' It was one of the privileges of a Roman citizen, secured by the Sempronian law, 
that he could not be capitally convicted but by the sufTrage of the people; which 
seems to have been still so far in force as to make it necessary to send the persons 
here mentioned to Rome. M. 

406 PLINY 

more, and a few above twenty years ago) renounced that error. They 
all worshipped your statue and the images of the gods, uttering im- 
precations at the same time against the name of Christ. They 
affirmed the whole of their guilt, or their error, was, that they met 
on a stated day before it was light, and addressed a form of prayer 
to Christ, as to a divinity, binding themselves by a solemn oath, not 
for the purposes of any wicked design, but never to commit any 
fraud, theft, or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust 
when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was 
their custom to separate, and then reassemble, to eat in common a 
harmless meal. From this custom, however, they desisted after the 
publication of my edict, by which, according to your commands, 1 
forbade the meeting of any assemblies. After receiving this account, 
I judged it so much the more necessary to endeavour to extort the 
real truth, by putting two female slaves to the torture, who were 
said to officiate* in their religious rites: but all I could discover was 
evidence of an absurd and extravagant superstition. I deemed it 
expedient, therefore, to adjourn all further proceedings, in order to 
consult you. For it appears to be a matter highly deserving your 
consideration, more especially as great numbers must be involved 
in the danger of these prosecutions, which have already extended, 
and are still likely to extend, to persons of all ranks and ages, and 
even of both sexes. In fact, this contagious superstition is not con- 
fined to the cities only, but has spread its infection among the neigh- 
bouring villages and country. Nevertheless, it still seems possible to 
restrain its progress. The temples, at least, which were once almost 
deserted, begin now to be frequented; and the sacred rites, after a 
long intermission, are again revived; while there is a general demand 
for the victims, which till lately found very few purchasers. From 
all this it is easy to conjecture what numbers might be reclaimed if 
a general pardon were granted to those who shall repent of their 

* These women, it is supposed, exercised the same office as Phcrbe, mentioned by 
St. Paul, whom he styles deaconess of the church of Cenchrea. Their business was 
to tend the poor and sick, and other charitable offices; as also to assist at the ceremony 
of female baptism, for the more decent performance of that rite: as Vossius observes 
upon this passage. A/. 



Trajan to Plinv 

You have adopted the right course, my dearest Secundus, in in- 
vestigating the charges against the Christians who were brought 
before you. It is not possible to lay down any general rule for all 
such cases. Do not go out of your way to look for them. If indeed 
they should be brought before you, and the crime is proved, they 
must be punished;' with the restriction, however, that where the 
party denies he is a Christian, and shall make it evident that he is 
not, by invoking our gods, let him (notwithstanding any former 
suspicion) be pardoned upon his repentance. Anonymous informa- 
tions ought not to be received in any sort of prosecution. It is intro- 
ducing a very dangerous precedent, and is quite foreign to the spirit 
of our age. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

The elegant and beautiful city of Amastris,* Sir, has, among other 
principal constructions, a very fine street and of considerable length, 
on one entire side of which runs what is called indeed a river, but 
in fact is no other than a vile common sewer, extremely oflfensive to 
the eye, and at the same time very pestilential on account of its 
noxious smell. It will be advantageous, therefore, in point of health, 
as well as decency, to have it covered; which shall be done with your 

' If we impartially examine this prosecution of the Christians, we shall find it to 
have been grounded on the ancient constitution of the state, and not to have pro- 
ceeded from a cruel or arbitrary temper in Trajan. The Roman legislature appears to 
have been early jealous of any innovation in point of public worship; and we find the 
magistrates, during the old republic, frequently interposing in cases of that nature. 
Valerius Maximus has collected some instances to that purpose (L. i., c. 3), and Livy 
mentions it as an established principle of the earlier ages of the commonwealth, to 
guard against the introduction of foreign ceremonies of religion. It was an old and 
fixed maxim likewise of the Roman government not to suffer any unlicensed 
assemblies of the people. From hence it seems evident that the Christians had 
rendered themselves obnoxious not so much to Trajan as to the ancient and settled 
laws of the state, by introducing a foreign worship, and assembling themselves 
without authority. M. 

' On the coast of Paphlagonia. 

4o8 PLINY 

permission: as I wall take care, on my part, that money be not want- 
ing for executing so noble and necessary a work. 


Trajan to Pliny 

It is highly reasonable, my dearest Secundus, if the water which 
runs through the city of Amastris is prejudicial, while uncovered, to 
the health of the inhabitants, that it should be covered up. I am 
well assured you will, with your usual application, take care that the 
money necessary for this work shall not be wanting. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

We have celebrated, Sir, with great joy and festivity, those votive 
solemnities which were publicly proclaimed as formerly, and re- 
newed them the present year, accompanied by the soldiers and 
provincials, who zealously joined with us in imploring the gods 
that they would be graciously pleased to preserve you and the re- 
public in that state of prosperity which your many and great virtues, 
particularly your piety and reverence towards them, so justly merit. 


Trajan to Pliny 

It was agreeable to me to learn by your letter that the army and 
the provincials seconded you, with the most joyful unanimity, in 
those vows which you paid and renewed to the immortal gods for 
my preservation and prosperity. 


To the Emperor Trajan 

We have celebrated, with all the warmth of that pious zeal we 
justly ought, the day on which, by a most happy succession, the 
protection of mankind was committed over into your hands; recom- 


mending to the gods, from whom you received the empire, the object 
of your public vows and congratulations. 


Trajan to Pliny 

I WAS extremely well pleased to be informed by your letter that 
you had, at the head of the soldiers and the provincials, solemnized 
my accession to the empire with all due joy and zeal. 



Valerius Paulinus, Sir, having bequeathed to me the right of 
patronage' over all his freedmen, except one, I entreat you to grant 
the freedom of Rome to three of them. To desire you to extend this 
favour to all of them would, I fear, be too unreasonable a trespass 
upon your indulgence; which, in proportion as I have amply ex- 
perienced, I ought to be so much the more cautious in troubling. 
The persons for whom I make this request are C. Valerius Astraeus, 
C. Valerius Dionysius, and C. Valerius Aper. 


Trajan to Pliny 

You act most generously in so early soliciting in favour of those 
whom Valerius Paulinus has confided to your trust. I have accord- 
ingly granted the freedom of the city to such of his freedmen for 
whom you requested it, and have directed the patent to be registered: 
I am ready to confer the same on the rest, whenever you shall 
desire me. 

' By the Papian law, which passed in the consulship of M. Papius Mutilus and 
Q. Poppeas Sccundus, u.c. 761, if a freedman died wonh a hundred thousand 
sesterces (or about $4,000 of our money), leaving only one child, his patron (that 
it, the master from whom he received his liberty) was cntided to half his estate; 
if he left two children, to one-third; but if more than two, then the patron was 
absolutely excluded. This was afterwards altered by Justinian, Inst. 1. iii., tit. 8. M. 

410 PLINY 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

P. Arnus Aquila, a centurion of the sixth equestrian cohort, re- 
quested me, Sir, to transmit his petition to you, in favour of his 
daughter. I thought it would be unkind to refuse him this service, 
knowing, as I do, with what patience and kindness you attend to 
the petitions of the soldiers. 


Trajan to Pliny 

I have read the petition of P. Atrius Aquila, centurion of the 
sixth equestrian cohort, which you sent to me; and in compliance 
with his request, I have conferred upon his daughter the freedom 
of the city of Rome. I send you at the same time the patent, which 
you will deliver to him. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

I REQUEST, Sir, your directions with respect to the recovering those 
debts which are due to the cities of Bithynia and Pontus, either for 
rent, or goods sold, or upon any other consideration. I find they 
have a privilege, conceded to them by several proconsuls, of being 
preferred to other creditors; and this custom has prevailed as if it 
had been established by law. Your prudence, I imagine, will think 
it necessary to enact some settled rule, by which their rights may 
always be secured. For the edicts of others, how wisely soever 
founded, are but feeble and temporary ordinances, unless confirmed 
and sanctioned by your authority. 


Trajan to Pliny 

The right which the cities either of Pontus or Bithynia claim 
relating to the recovery of debts of whatever kind, due to their 


several communities, must be determined agreeably to their re- 
spective laws. Where any of these communities enjoy the privilege 
of being preferred to other creditors, it must be maintained; but, 
where no such privilege prevails, it is not just I should establish one, 
in prejudice of private property. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

The solicitor to the treasury of the city of Amisus instituted a 
claim, Sir, before me against Julius Piso of about forty thousand 
denarii,' presented to him by the public above twenty years ago, 
with the consent of the general council and assembly of the city: 
and he founded his demand upon certain of your edicts, by which 
donations of this kind are prohibited. Piso, on the other hand, 
asserted that he had conferred large sums of money upon the com- 
munity, and indeed had thereby cxjjended almost the whole of his 
estate. He insisted upon the length of time which had intervened 
since this donation, and hoped that he should not be compelled, to 
the ruin of the remainder of his fortunes, to refund a present which 
had been granted him long since, in return for many good offices 
he had done the city. For this reason. Sir, I thought it necessary to 
suspend giving any judgment in this cause till I shall receive your 


Trajan to Pliny 

Though by my edicts I have ordained that no largesses shall be 
given out of the public money, yet, that numberless private persons 
may not be disturbed in the secure possession of their fortunes, 
those donations which have been made long since ought not to be 
called in question or revoked. We will not, therefore, enquire into 
anything that has been transacted in this affair so long ago as twenty 
years; for I would be no less attentive to secure the repose of every 
private man than to preserve the treasure of every public community. 

' About $7,000. 

412 PLINY 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

The Pompeian law, Sir, which is observed in Pontus and Bithynia, 
does not direct that any money for their admission shall be paid in 
by those who are elected into the senate by the censors. It has, how- 
ever, been usual for such members as have been admitted into those 
assemblies, in pursuance of the privilege which you were pleased to 
grant to some particular cities, of receiving above their legal number, 
to pay one' or two thousand denarii^ on their election. Subsequent 
to this, the proconsul Anicius Maximus ordained (though indeed 
his edict related to some few cities only) that those who were elected 
by the censors should also pay into the treasury a certain sum, which 
varied in different places. It remains, therefore, for your considera- 
tion whether it would not be proper to settle a certain sum for each 
member who is elected into the councils to pay u|X)n his entrance; 
for it well becomes you, whose every word and action deserve to 
be immortaUzed, to establish laws that shall endure for ever. 


Trajan to Pliny 

I CAN give no general directions applicable to all the cities of 
Bithynia, in relation to those who are elected members of their 
resf)ective councils, whether they shall pay an honorary fee upon 
their admittance or not. I think that the safest method which can 
be pursued is to follow the particular laws of each city; and I also 
think that the censors ought to make the sum less for those who are 
chosen into the senate contrary to their inclinations than for the rest. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

The Pompeian law, Sir, allows the Bithynians to give the free- 
dom of their respective cities to any person they think proper, pro- 
' About $175. 'About $350. 


vided he is not a foreigner, but native of some of the cities of this 
province. The same law specifies the particular causes for which 
the censors may expel any member of the senate, but makes no 
mention of foreigners. Certain of the censors, therefore, have de- 
sired my opinion whether they ought to exp)el a member if he should 
happen to be a foreigner. But I thought it necessary to receive your 
instructions in this case; not only because the law, though it forbids 
foreigners to be admitted citizens, does not direct that a senator 
shall be expelled for the same reason, but because I am informed 
that in every city in the province a great number of the senators 
are foreigners. If, therefore, this clause of the law, which seems to 
be antiquated by a long custom to the contrary, should be enforced, 
many cities, as well as private persons, must be injured by it. I have 
annexed the heads of this law to my letter. 


Trajan to Pliny 

You might well be doubtful, my dearest Secundus, what reply to 
give to the censors, who consulted you concerning their right to 
elect into the senate foreign citizens, though of the same province. 
The authority of the law on one side, and long custom prevailing 
against it on the other, might justly occasion you to hesitate. The 
proper mean to observe in this case will be to make no change in 
what is past, but to allow those senators who are already elected, 
though contrary to law, to keep their seats, to whatever city they may 
belong; in all future elections, however, to pursue the directions of 
the Pompeian law: for to give it a retrosf)ective operation would 
necessarily introduce great confusion. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

It is customary here upon any person taking the manly robe, 
solemnizing his marriage, entering upon the office of a magistrate, 
or dedicating any public work, to invite the whole senate, together 
with a considerable part of the commonalty, and distribute to each 

414 PLINY 

of the company one or two denarii.' I request you to inform me 
whether you think proper this ceremony should be observed, or 
how far you approve of it. For myself, though I am of opinion that 
upon some occasions, especially those of public festivals, this kind 
of invitation may be permitted, yet, when carried so far as to draw 
together a thousand persons, and sometimes more, it seems to be 
going beyond a reasonable number, and has somewhat the appear- 
ance of ambitious largesses. 


Trajan to Pliny 

You very justly apprehend that those public invitations which 
extend to an immoderate number of people, and where the dole is 
distributed, not singly to a few acquaintances, but, as it were, to 
whole collective bodies, may be turned to the factious purposes of 
ambition. But I appointed you to your present government, fully 
relying upon your prudence, and in the persuasion that you would 
take proper measures for regulating the manners and settling the 
peace of the province. 


To THE Emperor Trajan 

The athletic victors. Sir, in the Iselastic* games, conceive that the 
stipend you have established for the conquerors becomes due from 
the day they are crowned: for it is not at all material, they say, what 
time they were triumphantly conducted into their country, but when 
they merited that honour. On the contrary, when I consider the 
meaning of the term Iselastic, I am strongly incHned to think that 
it is intended the stipend should commence from the time of their 

'The denarius =17 cents. The sum total, then, distributed amonK one thousand 
persons at the rate of, say, two denarii apiece would amount to about S350. 

* These games are called Iselastic from the Greek word tlafkabvw, invehor, 
because the victors, drawn by white horses, and wearing crowns on their heads, weie 
conducted with great pomp into their respective cities, which they entered throUf;h 
a breach in the walls made for that purpose; intimating, as Plutarch observes, thit 
a city which produced such able and victorious citizens, had little occasion for the 
defence of walls (Catanzus). They received also annually a certain honorary stipend 
from the public. M. 


public entry. They likewise petition to be allowed the treat you 
give at those combats which you have converted into Iselastic, 
though they were conquerors before the appointment of that in- 
stitution: for it is but reasonable, they assert, that they should re- 
ceive the reward in this instance, as they are deprived of it at those 
games which have been divested of the honour of being Iselastic, 
since their victory. But I am very doubtful whether a retrospect 
should be admitted in the case in question, and a reward given, to 
which the claimants had no right at the time they obtained the 
victory. I beg, therefore, you would be pleased to direct my judg- 
ment in these points, by explaining the intention of your own bene- 


Trajan to Pliny 

The stipend appointed for the conqueror in the Iselastic games 
ought not, I think, to commence till he makes his triumphant entry 
into his city. Nor are the prizes, at those combats which I thought 
proper to make Iselastic, to be extended backwards to those who 
were victors before that alteration took place. With regard to the 
plea which these athletic combatants urge, that they ought to receive 
the Iselastic prize at those combats which have been made Iselastic 
subsequent to their conquests, as they are denied it in the same case 
where the games have ceased to be so, it proves nothing in their 
favour; for notwithstanding any new arrangement which has been 
made relating to these games, they are not called upon to return the 
recompense which they received prior to such alteration. 


To THE Empekor Trajan 

I have hitherto never. Sir, granted an order for post<haises to 
any person, or upon any occasion, but in affairs that relate to your 
administration. I find myself, however, at present under a sort of 
necessity of breaking through this fixed rule. My wife having re- 
ceived an account of her grandfather's death, and being desirous to 

4l6 PLINY 

wait upon her aunt with all possible expedition, I thought it would 
be unkind to deny her the use o£ this privilege; as the grace of so 
tender an office consists in the early discharge of it, and as I well 
knew a journey which was founded in filial piety could not fail of 
your approbation. I should think myself highly ungrateful, there- 
fore, were I not to acknowledge that, among other great obligations 
which I owe to your indulgence, I have this in particular, that, in 
confidence of your favour, I have ventured to do, without consulting 
you, what would have been too late had I waited for your consent. 


Trajan to Pliny 

You did me justice, my dearest Secundus, in confiding in my 
affection towards you. Without doubt, if you had waited for my 
consent to forward your wife in her journey by means of those 
warrants which I have entrusted to your care, the use of them would 
not have answered your purpose; since it was proper this visit to 
her aunt should have the additional recommendation of being paid 
with all possible expedition.