The Letters of the Younger Pliny - Title: The Letters of Pliny the Younger - - Series 1, Volume 1
by Pliny the Younger
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Out of a legacy which I have come in for I have just bought a Corinthian bronze, small it is true, but a charming and sharply-cut piece of work, so far as I have any knowledge of art, and that, as in everything else perhaps, is very slight. But as for the statue in question even I can appreciate its merits. For it is a nude, and neither conceals its faults, if there are any, nor hides at all its strong points. It represents an old man in a standing posture; the bones, muscles, nerves, veins, and even the wrinkles appear quite life-like; the hair is thin and scanty on the forehead; the brow is broad; the face wizened; the neck thin; the shoulders are bowed; the breast is flat, and the belly hollow. The back too gives the same impression of age, as far as a back view can. The bronze itself, judging by the genuine colour, is old and of great antiquity. In fact, in every respect it is a work calculated to catch the eye of a connoisseur and to delight the eye of an amateur, and this is what tempted me to purchase it, although I am the merest novice. But I bought it not to keep it at home—for as yet I have no Corinthian art work in my house—but that I might put it up in my native country in some frequented place, and I specially had in mind the Temple of Jupiter. For the statue seems to me to be worthy of the temple, and the gift to be worthy of the god. So I hope that you will show me your usual kindness when I give you a commission, and that you will undertake the following for me. Will you order a pedestal to be made, of any marble you like, to be inscribed with my name and titles, if you think the latter ought to be mentioned? I will send you the statue as soon as I can find any one who is not overburdened with luggage, or I will bring myself along with it, as I dare say you would prefer me to do. For, if only my duties allow me, I am intending to run down thither. You are glad that I promise to come, but you will frown when I add that I can only stay a few days. For the business which hitherto has kept me from getting away will not allow of my being absent any longer. Farewell.


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


I hear that Valerius Martial is dead, and I am much troubled at the news. He was a man of genius, witty and caustic, yet one who in his writings showed as much candour as he did biting wit and ability to sting. When he left Rome I made him a present to help to defray his travelling expenses, as a tribute to the friendship I bore him and to the verses he had composed about me. It was the custom in the old days to reward with offices of distinction or money grants those who had composed eulogies of private individuals or cities, but in our day this custom, like many other honourable and excellent practices, was one of the first to fall into disuse. For when we cease to do deeds worthy of praise, we think it is folly to be praised. Do you ask what the verses are which excited my gratitude? I would refer you to the volume itself, but that I have some by heart, and if you like these, you may look out the others for yourself in the book. He addresses the Muse and bids her seek my house on the Esquiline and approach it with great respect:—"But take care that you do not knock at his learned door at a time when you should not. He devotes whole days together to crabbed Minerva, while he prepares for the ears of the Court of the Hundred speeches which posterity and the ages to come may compare even with the pages of Arpinum's Cicero. "Twill be better if you go late in the day, when the evening lamps are lit; that is YOUR hour, when the Wine God is at his revels, when the rose is Queen of the feast, when men's locks drip perfume. At such an hour even unbending Catos may read my poems." Was I not right to take a most friendly farewell of a man who wrote a poem like that about me, and do I do wrong if I now bewail his death as that of a bosom-friend? For he gave me the best he could, and would have given me more if he had had it in his power. And yet what more can be given to a man than glory and praise and immortality? But you may say that Martial's poems will not live for ever. Well, perhaps not, yet at least he wrote them in the hope that they would. Farewell.



You say you wish to see your granddaughter again, and me with her, after not having seen us for so long. Both of us are charmed to hear you say so, and, believe me, we are equally anxious to see you. For I cannot tell you how we long to see you, and we shall no longer delay our visit. To that end we are even now getting our luggage together, and we shall push on as fast as the state of the roads will permit. There will be one delay, but it will not detain us long. We shall branch off to see my Tuscan estate—not to inspect the farms and go into accounts, as that can be postponed—but merely to perform a necessary duty. There is a village near my property called Tifernum Tiberinum, which selected me as its patron when I was still almost a boy, and showed, by so doing, more affection than judgment. The people there flock to meet me when I approach, are distressed when I leave them, and rejoice at my preferment. In this village, as a return for their kindness—for it would never do to be outdone in affection—I have, at my own expense, built a temple, and now that it is completed it would be hardly respectful to the gods to put off its dedication any longer. So we shall be present on the dedication day, which I have arranged to celebrate with a banquet. We may possibly stay there for the following day as well, but, if we do, we shall get over the ground with increased speed to make up for lost time. I only hope that we shall find you and your daughter in good health, for I know we shall find you in good spirits if we arrive in safety. Farewell.


Regulus has lost his son—the only misfortune he did not deserve, because I doubt whether he considers it as such. He was a sharp-witted youth, whatever use he might have made of his talents, though he might have followed honourable courses if he did not take after his father. Regulus freed him from his parental control in order that he might succeed to his mother's property, but after freeing him—and those who knew the character of the man spoke of it as a release from slavery—he endeavoured to win his affections by treating him with a pretended indulgence which was as disgraceful as it was unusual in a father. It seems incredible, but remember that it was Regulus. Yet now that his son is dead, he is mad with grief at his loss. The boy had a number of ponies, some in harness and others not broken in, dogs both great and small, nightingales, parrots and blackbirds—all these Regulus slaughtered at his pyre. Yet an act like that was no token of grief; it was but a mere parade of it. It is strange how people are flocking to call upon him. Every one detests and hates him, yet they run to visit him in shoals as though they both admired and loved him. To put in a nutshell what I mean, people in paying court to Regulus are copying the example he set. He does not move from his gardens across the Tiber, where he has covered an immense quantity of ground with colossal porticos and littered the river bank with his statues, for, though he is the meanest of misers, he flings his money broadcast, and though his name is a byword, he is for ever vaunting his glories. Consequently, in this the most sickly season of the year, he is upsetting every one's arrangements, and thinks it soothes his grief to inconvenience everybody. He says he is desirous of taking a wife, and here again, as in other matters, he shows the perversity of his nature. You will hear soon that the mourner is married, that the old man has taken a wife, displaying unseemly haste as the former and undue delay as the latter. If you ask what makes me think he will take this step, I reply that it is not because he says he will—for there is no greater liar than he— but because it is quite certain that Regulus will do what he ought not to do. Farewell.


That you, like your ancestors of old, have been twice consul, that you have been proconsul of Asia with a record such as not more than one or two of your predecessors and successors have enjoyed—for your modesty is such that I do not like to say that no one has equalled you—that in purity of life, influence and age, you are the principal man of the State,—all these things inspire respect and give distinction, and yet I admire you even more in your retirement. For to season, as you do, all your strict uprightness with charm of manner equally striking, and to be such an agreeable companion as well as such a man of weight, that is no less difficult than it is desirable. Yet you succeed in so doing with wonderful sweetness both in your conversation and above all, when you set pen to paper. For when you talk, all the honey of Homer's old man eloquent seems to flow from your tongue, and when you write, the bees seem to be busy pouring into every line their choicest essences and charging them with sweetness. That certainly was my impression when I recently read your Greek epigrams and iambics. What breadth of feeling they contain, what choice expressions, how graceful they are, how musical, how exact! I thought I was holding in my hands Callimachus or Herodes, or even a greater poet than these, if greater there be, yet neither of these two poets attempted or excelled in both these forms of verse. Is it possible for a Roman to write such Greek? I do not believe that even Athens has so pure an Attic touch. But why go on? I am jealous of the Greeks that you should have elected to write in their language, for it is easy to guess what choice work you could turn out in your mother-tongue, when you have produced such splendid results with an exotic language which has been transplanted into our midst. Farewell.


I have the greatest regard for Varisidius Nepos; he is hardworking, upright, and a scholar—a point which with me outweighs almost any other. He is a near relative and, in fact, a son of the sister of Caius Calvisius, my old companion and a friend too of yours. I beg that you will give him a tribuneship for six months and so advance him in dignity, both for his own and for his uncle's sake. By so doing you will confer a favour on me, on our friend Calvisius, and on Varisidius himself, who is quite as worthy to be under an obligation to you as we are. You have showered kindnesses on numbers of people, and I will venture to say that you have never bestowed one that was better deserved, and have but rarely granted one that was deserved so well. Farewell.


There is a story that Aeschines was once asked by the Rhodians to read them one of his speeches, that he afterwards read them one of Demosthenes' as well, and that both were received with great applause. I cannot wonder that the orations of such distinguished men were applauded, when I think that just recently the most learned men in Rome listened for two days together to a speech of mine, with such earnestness, applause, and concentration of attention, though there was nothing to stir their blood, no other speech with which to compare mine, and not a trace of the acharnement of debate. While the Rhodians had not only the beauties of the two speeches to kindle them but also the charm of comparison, my speech was approved though it lacked the advantages of being controversial. Whether it deserved its reception you will be able to judge when you have read it, and its bulk does not allow of my making a longer preface. For I ought certainly to be brief here where brevity is possible, so that I may be the more readily excused for the length of the speech itself, though it is not longer than the subject required. Farewell.


My Tuscan farms have been lashed by hail; from my property in the Transpadane region I get news that the crops are very heavy but the prices rule equally low, and it is only my Laurentian estate that makes me any return. It is true that all my belongings there consist of but a house and a garden, yet it is the only property which brings me in any revenue. For while I am there I write hard and I till—not fields, for I have none—but my own wits, and so I can show you there a full granary of MSS., as elsewhere I can show you full barns of wheat. Hence if you are anxious for sure and fruitful farms, you too should sow your grain on the same kind of shore. Farewell.


I am constantly writing to tell you what energy Regulus possesses. It is wonderful the way he carries through anything which he has set his mind upon. It pleased him to mourn for his son—and never man mourned like him; it pleased him to erect a number of statues and busts to his memory, and the result is that he is keeping all the workshops busy; he is having his boy represented in colours, in wax, in bronze, in silver, in gold, ivory, and marble—always his boy. He himself just lately got together a large audience and read a memoir of his life—of the boy's life; he read it aloud, and yet had a thousand copies written out which he has scattered broadcast over Italy and the provinces. He wrote at large to the decurions and asked them to choose one of their number with the best voice to read the memoir to the people, and it was done. What good he might have effected with this energy of his—or whatever name we should give to such dauntless determination on his part to get his own way—if he had only turned it into a better channel! But then, as you know, good men rarely have this faculty so well developed as bad men; the Greeks say, "Ignorance makes a man bold; calculation gives him pause," and just in the same way modesty cripples the force of an upright mind, while unblushing confidence is a source of strength to a man without conscience. Regulus is a case in point. He has weak lungs, he never looks you straight in the face, he stammers, he has no imaginative power, absolutely no memory, no quality at all, in short, except a wild, frantic genius, and yet, thanks to his effrontery, and even just to this frenzy of his, he has got people to regard him as an orator. Herennius Senecio very neatly turned against him Cato's well- known definition of an orator by saying, "An orator is a bad man who knows nothing of the art of speaking," and I really think that he thereby gave a better definition of Regulus than Cato did of the really true orator.

Have you any equivalent to send me for a letter like this? Yes, indeed, you have, if you will write and say whether any one of my friends in your township, or whether you yourself have read this pitiful production of Regulus in the Forum, like a Cheap Jack, pitching your voice high, as Demosthenes says, shouting with delight, and straining every muscle in your throat. For it is so absurd that it will make you laugh rather than sigh, and you would think it was written not about a boy but by a boy. Farewell.


You congratulate me on accepting the office of augur. You are right in so doing, first, because it is a proper thing to obey the wishes of an emperor with a character like ours, and, secondly, because the priestly office is in itself an ancient and sacred one, and inspires respect and dignity from the very fact that it is held for life. For other offices, though almost equal in point of dignity to this, may be bestowed one day and taken away the next, while with the augurship the element of chance only enters into the bestowal of it. I think too that I have special reasons for congratulating myself in that I have succeeded Julius Frontinus, one of the leading men of his day, who for many years running used to bring forward my name, whenever the nomination day for the priesthoods came round, as though he wished to coopt me to fill his place. Now events have turned out in such a way that my election does not seem to have been the work of chance. I can only hope that as I have attained to the priesthood and the consulship at a much earlier age than he did, I may, when I am old, at least in some degree acquire his serenity of mind. But all that man can give has fallen to my lot and to many another; the other thing, which can only be bestowed by the gods, is as difficult to attain to as it is presumptuous to hope for it. Farewell.


For some days past Julius Bassus has been on his defence. He is a much harassed man whose misfortunes have made him famous. An accusation was lodged against him in Vespasian's reign by two private individuals; the case was referred to the Senate, and for a long time he has been on the tenter-hooks, but at last he has been acquitted and his character cleared. He was afraid of Titus because he had been a friend of Domitian, yet he had been banished by the latter, was recalled by Nerva, and, after being appointed by lot to the governorship of Bithynia, returned from the province to stand his trial. The case against him was keenly pressed, but he was no less loyally defended.

Pomponius Rufus, a ready and impetuous speaker, opened against him and was followed by Theophanes, one of the deputation from the province, who was the very life and soul of the prosecution, and indeed the originator of it. I replied on Bassus' behalf, for he had instructed me to lay the foundations of his whole defence, to give an account of his distinctions, which were very considerable—as he was a man of good family, and had been in many tight places—to dilate upon the conspiracy of the informers and the gains they counted upon, and to explain how it was that Bassus had roused the resentment of all the restless spirits of the province, and notably of Theophanes himself. He had expressed a wish that I too should controvert the charge which was damaging him most. For as to the others, though they sounded to be even more serious, he deserved not only acquittal but approbation, and the only thing that troubled him was that, in an unguarded moment and in perfect innocence, he had received certain presents from the provincials as a token of friendship, for he had served in the same province previously as quaestor. His accusers stigmatised these gifts as thefts and plunder: he called them presents, but the law forbids even presents to be accepted by a governor.

In such a case what was I to do, what line of defence was I to take up? If I denied them in toto, I was afraid that people would immediately regard as a theft the presents which I was afraid to confess had been received. Moreover, to deny the obvious truth would have been to aggravate and not lessen the gravity of the charge, especially as the accused himself had cut the ground away from under the feet of his counsel. For he had told many people, and even the Emperor, that he had accepted, but only on his birthday or at the feast of the Saturnalia, some few trifling presents, and had also sent similar gifts to some of his friends. Was I then to acknowledge this and plead for clemency? Had I done so, I should have put a knife to my client's throat by confessing that he had committed offences and could only be acquitted by an act of clemency. Was I to defend his conduct and justify it? That would have done him no good, and would have stamped me as an unblushing advocate.

In this difficult position I resolved to take a middle course, and I think I succeeded in so doing. Night interrupted my pleading, as it so often interrupts battles. I had been speaking for three hours and a half, and I had another hour and a half still left me. The law allowed the accuser six hours and the defendant nine, and Bassus had arranged the time at his disposal by giving me five hours, and the remainder to the advocate who was to speak after me. The success of my pleading persuaded me to say no more and make an end, for it is rash not to rest content when things are going well. Besides, I was afraid I might break down physically if I went over the ground again, as it is more difficult to pick up the threads of a speech than to go straight on. There was also the risk of the remainer of my speech meeting with a chilly reception, owing to the threads being dropped, or of it boring the judges if I gathered them up anew. For, just as the flame of a torch is kept alight if you wave it continually up and down, but is difficult to resuscitate when it has been allowed to go out, so the warmth of a speaker and the attention of his audience are kept alive if he goes on speaking, but cool off at any interruption which causes interest to flag. But Bassus begged and prayed of me, almost with tears in his eyes, to take my full time. I gave way, and preferred his interests to my own. It turned out well, for I found that the senators were so attentive and so fresh that, instead of having had quite enough of my speech of the day before, it seemed to have only whetted their appetites for more.

Lucceius Albinus followed me and spoke so much to the point that our speeches were considered to have all the diversity of two addresses but the cohesion of one. Herennius Pollio replied with force and dignity, and then Theophanes again rose. He showed his usual effrontery in demanding a more liberal allowance of time than is usually granted—even after two advocates of ability and consular rank had concluded—and he went on speaking until nightfall, an actually continued after that, when lights had been brought into court.

On the following day Titius Homullus and Fronto made a splendid effort on behalf of Bassus, and the hearing of the evidence took up the fourth day. Baebius Macer, the consul-designate, proposed that Bassus should be dealt with under the law relating to extortion, while Caepio Hispo was in favour of appointing judges to hear the case, but urged that Bassus should retain his place in the Senate. Both were in the right. How can that be? you may ask. For this reason, because Macer, looking at the letter of the law, was justified in condemning a man who had broken the law by receiving presents; while Caepio, acting on the assumption that the Senate has the right—which it certainly has—both to mitigate the severity of the laws and to rigorously put them in force, was not unreasonably desirous of excusing an offence which, though illegal, is very often committed. Caepio's proposal carried the day; indeed, when he rose to speak he was greeted with the applause which is usually reserved for speakers upon resuming their seats. This will enable you to judge how unanimously the motion was received while he was speaking, when it met with such a reception on his rising to put it.

However, just as there was difference of opinion in the Senate, so there is the same with the general public. Those who approved the proposal of Caepio find fault with that of Macer as being vindictive and severe; those who agree with Macer condemn Caepio's motion as lax and even inconsistent, for they say it is incongruous to allow a man to keep his place in the Senate when judges have been allotted to try him. There was also a third proposal. Valerius Paulinus, who agreed in the main with Caepio, proposed that an inquiry should be instituted into the case of Theophanes, as soon as he had concluded his work on the deputation. It was urged that during his conduct of the prosecution he had committed a number of offences which came within the scope of the law under which he had accused Bassus. However, the consuls did not approve this proposal, though it found great favour with a large proportion of the Senate. None the less, Paulinus gained a reputation thereby for justice and consistency. When the Senate rose, Bassus came in for an ovation; crowds gathered round him and greeted him with a remarkable demonstration of their joy. Public sympathy had been aroused in his favour by the old story of the hazards he had gone through being told over again, by the association of his name with grave perils, by his tall physique and the sadness and poverty of his old age. You must consider this letter as the forerunner of another: you will be looking out for my speech in full and with every detail, and you will have to look out for it for some time to come, because, owing to the importance of the subject, it will require more than a mere brief and cursory revision. Farewell.


You tell me that Sabina, who left us her heirs, never gave any instructions that her slave Modestus was to be granted his freedom, though she left him a legacy in these words: "I Modestus, whom I have ordered to receive his liberty." You ask me what I think of the matter. I have consulted some eminent lawyers and they all agree that Modestus need not be given his freedom, because it was not expressly granted by Sabina, nor his legacy, because she left it to him as a slave. But the mistake is obvious to me, and so I think that we ought to act as though Sabina had ordered him to be freed in express terms, since she certainly was under the impression that she had ordered it. I am sure that you will be of my way of thinking, for you are most punctilious in carrying out the intentions of a dead person, which are, with honourable heirs, tantamount to legal obligations. For with us honour has as much weight as necessity has with others. So I propose that we should allow Modestus to have his liberty and enjoy his legacy, as if Sabina had taken all proper precautions to ensure that he should. For a lady who has made a good choice of her heirs has surely taken all the precautions necessary. Farewell.


Have you heard that Valerius Licinianus is teaching rhetoric in Sicily? I do not think you can have done, for the news is quite fresh. He is of praetorian rank, and he used at one time to be considered one of our most eloquent pleaders at the bar, but now he has fallen so low that he is an exile instead of being a senator, and a mere teacher of rhetoric instead of being a prominent advocate. Consequently in his opening remarks he exclaimed, sorrowfully and solemnly: "O Fortune, what sport you make to amuse yourself! For you turn senators into professors, and professors into senators." There is so much gall and bitterness in that expression that it seems to me that he became a professor merely to have the opportunity of uttering it. Again, when he entered the hall wearing a Greek pallium—for those who have been banished with the fire-and- water formula are not allowed to wear the toga—he first pulled himself together and then, glancing at his dress, he said, "I shall speak my declamations in Latin."

You will say that this is all very sad and pitiful, but that a man who defiled his profession of letters by the guilt of incest deserves to suffer. It is true that he confessed his guilt, but it is an open question whether he did so because he was guilty or because he feared an even heavier punishment if he denied it. For Domitian was in a great rage and was boiling over with fury because his witnesses had left him in the lurch. His mind was set upon burying alive Cornelia, the chief of the Vestal Virgins, as he thought to make his age memorable by such an example of severity, and, using his authority as Chief Pontiff, or rather exercising the cruelty of a tyrant and the wanton caprice of a ruler, he summoned the rest of the pontiffs not to the Palace but to his Villa at Alba. There, with a wickedness just as monstrous as the crime which he pretended to be punishing, he declared her guilty of incest, without summoning her before him and giving her a hearing, though he himself had not only committed incest with his brother's daughter but had even caused her death, for she died of abortion during her widowhood. He immediately despatched some of the pontiffs to see that his victim was buried alive and put to death. Cornelia invoked in turns the aid of Vesta and of the rest of the deities, and amid her many cries this was repeated most frequently: "How can Caesar think me guilty of incest, when he has conquered and triumphed after my hands have performed the sacred rites?" It is not known whether her purpose was to soften Caesar's heart or to deride him, whether she spoke the words to show her confidence in herself or her contempt of the Emperor. Yet she continued to utter them until she was led to the place of execution, and whether she was innocent or not, she certainly appeared to be so. Nay, even when she was being let down into the dreadful pit and her dress caught as she was being lowered, she turned and readjusted it, and when the executioner offered her his hand she declined it and drew back, as though she put away from her with horror the idea of having her chaste and pure body defiled by his loathsome touch. Thus she preserved her sanctity to the last and displayed all the tokens of a chaste woman, like Hecuba, "taking care that she might fall in seemly wise."

Moreover, when Celer, the Roman knight who was accused of having intrigued with Cornelia, was being scourged with rods in the Forum, he did nothing but cry out, "What have I done? I have done nothing." Consequently Domitian's evil reputation for cruelty and injustice blazed up on all hands. He fastened upon Licinianus for hiding a freedwoman of Cornelia on one of his farms. Licinianus was advised by his friends who interested themselves on his behalf to take refuge in making a confession and beg for pardon, if he wished to escape being flogged in the Forum, and he did so. Herennius Senecio spoke for him in his absence very much in the words of Homer, "Patroclus is fallen," for he said, "Instead of being an advocate, I am the bearer of news: Licinianus has removed himself." This so pleased Domitian that he allowed his gratification to betray him into exclaiming, "Licinianus has cleared us." He even went on to say that it would not do to press a man who admitted his fault too hard, and gave him permission to get together what he could of his belongings before his goods were confiscated, and granted him a pleasant place of exile as a reward for his consideration. Subsequently, by the clemency of the Emperor Nerva, he was removed to Sicily, where he now is a Professor of Rhetoric and takes his revenge upon Fortune in his prefatory remarks.

You see how careful I am to obey your wishes, as I not only give you the news of the town, but news from abroad, and minutely trace a story from its very beginning. I took for granted that, as you were away from Rome at the time, all you heard of Licinianus was that he had been banished for incest. For rumour only gives one the gist of the matter, not the various stages through which it passes. Surely I deserve that you should return the compliment and write and tell me what is going on in your town and neighbourhood, for something worthy of note is always happening. But say what you will, provided you give me the news in as long a letter as I have written to you. I shall count up not only the pages, but the lines and the syllables. Farewell.


You have a regard for Egnatius Marcellinus and you often commend him to my notice; you will love him and commend him the more when you hear what he has recently done. After setting out as quaestor for his province, he lost by death a secretary, who was allotted to him, before the day when the man's salary fell due, and he made up his mind and resolved that he ought not to keep the money which had been paid over to him to give to the secretary. So when he returned he consulted first Caesar and then the Senate, on Caesar's recommendation, as to what was to be done with the money. It was a trifling question, but, after all, it was a question. The secretary's heirs claimed it should pass to them; the prefects of the treasury claimed it for the people. The case was heard, and counsel for the heirs and for the people pleaded in turn, and both spoke well to the point. Caecilius Strabo proposed that it should be paid over to the treasury; Baebius Macer that it should be given to the man's heirs; Strabo carried the day. I hope you will praise Marcellinus for his conduct, as I did on the spot, for, although he thinks it more than enough to have been congratulated by the Emperor and the Senate, he will be glad to have your commendation as well. All who are anxious for glory and reputation are wonderfully pleased with the approbation and praise even of men of no particular account, while Marcellinus has such regard for you that he attaches the greatest importance to your opinion. Besides, if he knows that the fame of his action has penetrated so far, he cannot but be pleased at the ground his praises have covered and the rapidity and distance they have travelled. For it somehow happens that men prefer a wide even to a well-grounded reputation. Farewell.


I am delighted that you have returned to Rome, for though your arrival is always welcome, it is especially so to me at the present moment. I shall be spending a few more days at my Tusculan villa in order to finish a small work which I have in hand, for I am afraid that if I do not carry it right through now that it is nearly completed I shall find it irksome to start on it again. In the meanwhile, that I may lose no time, I am sending this letter as a sort of forerunner to make a request which, when I am in town, I shall ask you to grant.

But first of all, let me tell you my reasons for asking it. When I was last in my native district a son of a fellow townsman of mine, a youth under age, came to pay his respects to me. I said to him, "Do you keep up your studies?" "Yes," said he. "Where?" I asked. "At Mediolanum," he replied. "But why not here?" I queried. Then the lad's father, who was with him, and indeed had brought him, replied, "Because we have no teachers here." "How is that?" I asked. "It is a matter of urgent importance to you who are fathers"—and it so happened, luckily, that a number of fathers were listening to me—"that your children should get their schooling here on the spot. For where can they pass the time so pleasantly as in their native place; where can they be brought up so virtuously as under their parents' eyes; where so inexpensively as at home? If you put your money together you could hire teachers at a trifling cost, and you could add to their stipends the sums you now spend upon your sons' lodgings and travelling money, which are no light amounts. I have no children of my own, but still, in the interest of the State, which I may consider as my child or my parent, I am prepared to contribute a third part of the amount which you may decide to club together. I would even promise the whole sum, if I were not afraid that if I did so my generosity would be corrupted to serve private interests, as I see is the case in many places where teachers are employed at the public charge. There is but one way of preventing this evil, and that is by leaving the right of employing the teachers to the parents alone, who will be careful to make a right choice if they are required to find the money. For those who perhaps would be careless in dealing with other people's money will assuredly be careful in spending their own, and they will take care that the teacher who gets my money will be worth his salt when he will also get money from them as well. So put your heads together, make up your minds, and let my example inspire you, for I can assure you that the greater the contribution you lay upon me the better I shall be pleased. You cannot make your children a more handsome present than this, nor can you do your native place a better turn. Let those who are born here be brought up here, and from their earliest days accustom them to love and know every foot of their native soil. I hope you may be able to attract such distinguished teachers that boys will be sent here to study from the towns round about, and that, as now your children flock to other places, so in the future other people's children may flock hither."

I thought it best to repeat this conversation in detail and from the very beginning, to convince you how glad I shall be if you will undertake my commission. As the subject is one of such importance, I beg and implore you to look out for some teachers from among the throng of learned people who gather round you in admiration of your genius, whom we can sound on the matter, but in such a way that we do not pledge ourselves to employ any one of them. For I wish to give the parents a perfectly free hand. They must judge and choose for themselves; my responsibilities go no further than a sympathetic interest and the payment of my share of the cost. So if you find any one who is confident in his own abilities, let him go to Comum, but on the express understanding that he builds upon no certainty beyond his own confidence in himself. Farewell.


Perhaps you are asking and looking out for a speech of mine, as you usually do, but I am sending you some wares of another sort, exotic trifles, the fruit of my playtime. You will receive with this letter some hendecasyllabics of mine with which I pass my leisure hours pleasantly when driving, or in the bath, or at dinner. They contain my jests, my sportive fancies, my loves, sorrows, displeasures and wrath, described sometimes in a humble, sometimes in a lofty strain. My object has been to please different tastes by this variety of treatment, and I hope that certain pieces will be liked by every one. Some of them will possibly strike you as being rather wanton, but a man of your scholarship will bear in mind that the very greatest and gravest authors who have handled such subjects have not only dealt with lascivious themes, but have treated them in the plainest language. I have not done that, not because I have greater austerity than they—by no means, but because I am not quite so daring. Otherwise, I am aware that Catullus has laid down the best and truest regulations governing this style of poetry in his lines: "For it becomes a pious bard to be chaste himself, though there is no need for his verses to be so. Nay, if they are to have wit and charm, they must be voluptuous and not too modest."

You may guess from this what store I set on your critical judgment when I say that I prefer you should weigh the whole in the balance rather than pick out a few for your special praise. Yet pieces, perfect in themselves, cease to appear so the moment they are all on a dead level of perfection. Besides, a reader of judgment and acumen ought not to compare different pieces with one another, but to weigh each on its own merits and not to think one inferior to another, if it is perfect of its kind. But why say more? What more foolish than to excuse or commend mere trifles with a long preface? Still there is one thing of which I think I should advise you, and it is that I am thinking of calling these trifles "Hendecasyllables," a title which simply refers to the single metre employed. So, whether you prefer to call them epigrams, or idylls, or eclogues, or little poems, as many do, or any other name, remember that I only offer you "Hendecasyllables." I appeal to your candour to speak to me frankly about my tiny volume as you would to a third person, and this is no hard request. For if this trifling work of mind were my chef d'oeuvre, or my one solitary composition, it might perhaps seem harsh to say, "Seek out some other employment for your talent," but it is perfectly gentle and kindly criticism to say, "You have another sphere in which you show to greater advantage." Farewell.


If I have ever been guided by judgment, it has been in the strength of regard I have for Asinius Rufus. He is one of a thousand, and a devoted admirer of all good men among whom why may I not include myself? He is on the very closest of terms of friendship with Cornelius Tacitus, and you know what an honourable man Tacitus is. So if you have any high opinion of both Tacitus and myself, you must also think as highly of Rufus as you do of us, since similarity of character is perhaps the strongest bond for cementing friendships. Rufus has a number of children. Even in this respect he has acted the part of a good citizen, in that he was willing to freely undertake the responsibilities entailed upon him by the fruitfulness of his wife, in an age when the advantages of being childless are such that many people consider even one son to be a burden. He has scorned all those advantages, and has also become a grandfather. For a grandfather he is, thanks to Saturius Firmus, whom you will love as I do when you know him as intimately.

I mention these particulars to show you what a large and numerous household you can oblige by a single favour, and I am induced to ask it from you, in the first place, because I wish to do so, and in the second, owing to a good omen. For we hope and prophesy that next year you will be consul, and we are led to make that forecast by your own good qualities, and by the opinion that the Emperor has of you. But it also happens that Asinius Bassus, the eldest son of Rufus, will be quaestor in the same year, and he is a young man even more worthy than his father, though I don't know whether I ought to mention such a fact, which the modesty of the young fellow would deny, but which his father desires me to think and openly declare. Though you always repose confidence in what I say, it is difficult, I know, for you to credit my account of an absent man when I say that he possesses splendid industry, probity, learning, wit, application, and powers of memory, as you will discover for yourself when you have tried him. I only wish that our age was so productive of men of high character that there were others to whom you ought to give preference over Bassus; if it did, I should be the first to advise and exhort you to take a good look round, and consider long and carefully on whom your choice should fall. But as it is—yet no, I do not wish to boast about my friend, I will merely say that he is a young man well deserving of adoption by you as a son in the old-fashioned way. For prudent men, like yourself, ought to receive as children from the State children such as we are accustomed to hope that Nature will bestow upon us. When you are consul it will become you to have as quaestor a man whose father was praetor, and whose relatives are of consular rank, especially as he, although still young, is in his turn already in their judgment an honour to them and their family. So I hope you will grant my request and take my advice.

Above all, pardon me if you think I am acting prematurely, first, because in a State where to get a thing done depends on the earliness of the application, those who wait for the proper time find the fruit not only ripe but plucked, and, secondly, when one is anxious to get a favour it is very pleasant to enjoy in advance the certainty of obtaining it. Give Bassus the opportunity of respecting you even now as consul, and do you entertain a friendly regard for him as your quaestor, and let us who are devoted to both of you have the enjoyment of this double satisfaction. For while our regard for you and Bassus is such that we shall use all our resources, energy, and influence to obtain the advancement of Bassus, no matter to what consul he is assigned as quaestor—as well as the advancement of any quaestor that may be allotted to you—it would be immensely gratifying to us if we could at one and the same time prove our friendship and advance your interests as consul by helping the cause of our young friend, and if you of all people, whose wishes the Senate is so ready to gratify, and in whose recommendations they place such implicit trust, were to stand forth as the seconder of my desires. Farewell.


Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice, on my account, on your own, and on that of the public. The student still has his meed of recompense. Just recently, when I had to speak in the Court of the Hundred, I could find no way in except by crossing the tribunal and passing through the judges, all the other places were so crowded and thronged. Moreover, a certain young man of fashion who had his tunic torn to pieces—as often happens in a crowd—kept his ground for seven long hours with only his toga thrown round him. For my speech lasted all that time; and though it cost me a great effort, the results were more than worth it. Let us therefore prosecute our studies, and not allow the idleness of other people to be an excuse for laziness on our part. We can still find an audience and readers, provided only that our compositions are worth hearing, and worth the paper they are written on. Farewell.


You recommend and press me to take up the case of Corellia, in her absence, against Caius Caecilius, the consul-designate. I thank you for the recommendation, but I am a little hurt at your pressing me; it was right of you to recommend me to do so, and so inform me of the case, but I needed no pressing to do what it would have been scandalous for me to leave undone. Am I the man to hesitate a second about protecting the rights of a daughter of Corellius? It is true that I am not only an acquaintance, but also a close friend of him whom you ask me to oppose. Moreover, he is a man of position and the office for which he has been chosen is a great one, one indeed for which I cannot but feel all the greater respect, inasmuch as I recently held it myself. It is natural that a man should desire the dignities to which he has himself attained to be held in the very highest esteem.

However, all those considerations seem unimportant and trifling when I consider that I am about to champion the daughter of Corellius. I picture to myself that worthy gentleman, a man second to none in our age for gravity, uprightness of life, and quickness of judgment. I began to love him because I admired him so much, and the better I learned to know him the more my admiration grew—a result that rarely happens. Yes, and I knew his character thoroughly; he had no secrets from me, I knew him in his sportive and serious moods, in his moments both of sorrow and joy. I was but a young man, yet, young as I was, he held me in honour, and I will make bold to say that he paid me the respect he would have paid to one of his own years. When I sought advancement, it was he who canvassed and spoke for me; when I entered upon an office he introduced me and stood by my side; in all administrative work he gave me counsel and kept me straight; in short, in all my public duties, despite his weakness and his years, he showed himself to have the energy and fire of youth. How he helped to build up my reputation at home and in public, and even with the Emperor himself! For when it so happened that the conversation in the presence of the Emperor Nerva turned upon the subject of the promising young men of the day, and several speakers sang my praises, Corellius kept silence for a little while—a fact which added material weight to his remarks—and then he said in that grave manner you knew so well, "I must be careful how I praise Secundus, for he never does anything without taking my advice." The words were a tribute such as it would have been unreasonable for me to ask for or expect, for they amounted to this, that I never acted except in the most prudent manner, since I invariably acted on the advice of a man of his consummate prudence.

Nay, even on his deathbed he said to his daughter, as she is never tired of repeating, "I have procured for you a multitude of friends, and, even had I lived longer, I could hardly have got you more, but best of all I have won you the friendship of Secundus and Cornutus." When I think of those words, I feel that it is my duty to work hard, that I may not seem to have fallen short in any particular of the confidence reposed in me by such an excellent judge of men. So I will take up Corellia's case without loss of time, nor will I mind giving offence to others by the course I adopt. Yet I think that I shall not only be excused, but receive the praises even of him who, as you say, is bringing this new action against Corellia, possibly because she is a woman, if during the hearing I explain my motives, more fully and amply than I can in the narrow limits of a letter, either in order to justify or even to win approval of my conduct. Farewell.


How can I better prove to you how greatly I admire your Greek epigrams than by the fact that I have tried to imitate some of them and turn them into Latin? I grant they have lost in the translation, and this is due in the first place to the poorness of my wits, and in the second place— and even more—to what Lucretius calls the poverty of our native tongue. But if these verses, writ in Latin and by me, seem to you to possess any grace, you may guess how charming the originals are which were written in Greek and by you. Farewell.


As you yourself are a model of the family virtues, as you returned the affection of your brother, who was the best of men and devoted to you, and as you love his daughter as though she were your own child, and show her not only the affection of an aunt but even that of the father she has lost, I feel sure you will be delighted to know that she is proving herself worthy of her father, worthy of you, and worthy of her grandfather. She has a sharp wit, she is wonderfully economical, and she loves me—which is a guarantee of her purity. Moreover, owing to her fondness for me she has developed a taste for study. She collects all my speeches, she reads them, and learns them by heart. When I am about to plead, what anxiety she shows; when the pleading is over, how pleased she is! She has relays of people to bring her news as to the reception I get, the applause I excite, and the verdicts I win from the judges. Whenever I recite, she sits near me screened from the audience by a curtain, and her ears greedily drink in what people say to my credit. She even sings my verses and sets them to music, though she has no master to teach her but love, which is the best instructor of all. Hence I feel perfectly assured that our mutual happiness will be lasting, and will continue to grow day by day. For she loves in me not my youth nor my person—both of which are subject to gradual decay and age—but my reputation. Nor would other feelings become one who had been brought up at your knee, who had been trained by your precepts, who had seen in your house nothing that was not pure and honourable, and, in short, had been taught to love me at your recommendation. For as you loved and venerated my mother as a daughter, so even when I was a boy you used to shape my character, and encourage me, and prophesy that I should develop into the man that my wife now believes me to be. Consequently my wife and I try to see who can thank you best, I because you have given her to me, and she because you gave me to her, as though you chose us the one for the other. Farewell.


You know my opinion of your volumes singly, for I have written to tell you as I finished each one; now let me give my broad view of the whole work. It is beautifully written, with power, incisiveness, loftiness, and variety of treatment, in elegant, pure language, with plenty of metaphor, while it is comprehensive and covers an amount of ground that does you great credit. You have been carried far by the sweeping sails of your genius and your resentment, both of which have been a great help to you; for your genius has lent a lofty magnificence to your resentment, which in turn has added power and sharpness to your genius. Farewell.


What a terribly sad fate has overtaken those two sisters, the Helvidiae! Both to have given birth to daughters, and both to have died in childbirth! I am very, very sorry, yet I keep my grief within bounds. What seems to me so lamentable is that two honourable ladies should in the very spring-time of life have been carried off at the moment of becoming mothers. I am grieved for the infants who are left motherless at their birth; I am grieved for their excellent husbands, and grieved also on my own account. For even now I retain the warmest affection for their dead father, as I have shown in my pleading and my books. Now but one of his three children is alive, and only one remains to support a house which a little time ago had so many props to sustain it. But my grief will be greatly relieved should Fortune preserve him at least to robust and vigorous health, and make him as good a man as his father and grandfather were before him. I am the more anxious for his health and character now that he is the only one left. You know the tenderness of my mind where my affections are engaged and how nervous I am, so you must not be surprised if I show most anxiety on behalf of those of whom I have formed the greatest hopes. Farewell.


I have been called in by our excellent Emperor to take part and advise upon the following case. Under the will of a certain person, it has been the custom at Vienne to hold a gymnastic contest. Trebonius Rufus, a man of high principle and a personal friend of mine, in his capacity of duumvir, discontinued and abolished the custom, and it was objected that he had no legal authority to do so. He pleaded his case not only with eloquence but to good effect, and what lent force to his pleading was that he spoke with discretion and dignity, as a Roman and a good citizen should, in a matter that concerned himself. When the opinion of the Council was taken, Junius Mauricus, who stands second to none for strength of will and devotion to truth, was against restoring the contest to the people of Vienne, and he added, "I wish the games could be abolished at Rome as well." That is a bold consistent line, you will say. So it is, but that is no new thing with Mauricus. He spoke just as frankly before the Emperor Nerva. Nerva was dining with a few friends; Veiento was sitting next to him and was leaning on his shoulder—I need say no more after mentioning the man's name. The conversation turned upon Catullus Messalinus, who was blind, and had that curse to bear in addition to his savage disposition. He was void of fear, shame, and pity, and on that account Domitian often used him as a tool for the destruction of the best men in the State, just as though he were a dart urging on its blind and sightless course. All at table were speaking of this man's villainy and bloody counsels, when the Emperor himself said: "I wonder what his fate would be if he were alive to-day," to which Mauricus replied, "He would be dining with us." I have made a long digression, but willingly. The Council resolved that the contest should be abolished, because it had corrupted the morals of Vienne, just as our contests have corrupted the whole world. For the vices of Vienne go no further than their own walls, but ours spread far and wide. As in the body corporal, so in the body of the State, the most dangerous diseases are those that spread from the head. Farewell.

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