Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Letters of the Younger Pliny The Letters of Pliny the Younger by Pliny the Younger

Part 2 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.


I am worried and anxious about the candidature of my friend Sextus
Erucius. I am quite careworn, and feel for my second self, as it were,
a solicitude that I did not feel on my own account. Besides, my honour,
my reputation, my position are all at stake: for it was I who obtained
from our Emperor for Sextus the right to wear the latus clavis, it was I
who secured for him the quaestorship; it was owing to my interest that
he was advanced to the right of standing for the tribunate, and unless
he is elected by the Senate, I am afraid that it will look as if I had
deceived the Emperor. Consequently, I have to do my best to induce all
the senators to take the same favourable view of him that the Emperor
did on my recommendation. If this were not reason sufficient to rouse
my zeal in his behalf, yet I should like to see a young man helped on,
who is of such sterling character, who is of such weight and learning,
and is fully worthy of any and every praise, as indeed are all the
members of his family.

His father, Erucius Clarus, is a man of probity of the old-fashioned
sort, full of learning and an experienced counsel, conducting his cases
with splendid honesty, perseverance, and modesty as well. His uncle is
Caius Septicius, than whom I never met any one more sterling, simple,
frank, and trustworthy. They all see who can shower most affection upon
me, though they all love me equally, and now I can repay the love of all
in the person of young Erucius. So I am button-holing all my friends,
begging them for their support, going round to see them and haunting
their houses and favourite resorts, and I am putting both my position
and influence to the test by my entreaties. I beg of you to think it
worth your while to relieve me of some part of my burden. I will do the
same for you whenever you ask the return favour; nay I will do so even
if you do not ask me. You are a favourite with many, people seek your
society, and you have a wide circle of friends. Do you but give a hint
that you have a wish, and there will be plenty who will make your wish
their desire. Farewell.


What an indolent fellow you are, or perhaps I should say how hard-
hearted you are and almost cruel to keep back so long such splendid
volumes of verse! How long will you deprive yourself of the chorus of
praise that awaits you, and us of the pleasure of reading them? Do let
them be borne on the lips of men and circulate through all the wide
regions where the Roman tongue is spoken. People have long been eagerly
looking forward to your publishing them, and you really ought not to
cheat and disappoint them any longer. Some of your verses have become
known, and--no thanks to you--have broken down the barriers you set
round them, and unless you rescue them and include them in the main body
of your work they will one day, like vagrant slaves, find some one else
to claim the ownership of them. Don't lose sight of the fact that you
are but mortal, and that you can only defend yourself from being
forgotten by such a monument as this: all other titles to fame are
fragile and perishable, and come to a sudden end as soon as the breath
is out of your body. You will say, as usual, "Oh! my friends must see
to that for me." Well, I hope you have friends loyal enough, learned
enough, painstaking enough, to be capable and desirous of undertaking
such a responsible task, but I would have you consider whether it is
altogether prudent to expect from other people the toil which you will
not undergo for yourself. However, as to publishing, do as you please,
but at least give some public readings, in order to stir you on to
publishing, and that you may at length see how pleased people will be to
hear you, as I have for a long time been bold enough to anticipate on
your account. For I picture to myself what a run there will be to hear
you, how they will admire your work, what applause is in store for you,
and what a hush of attention. Personally, when I speak or recite I like
a hush quite as much as loud applause, provided that the people are
quiet, because they are keenly interested and eager to hear more. With
such a reward before you so absolutely certain, do not go on chilling
our enthusiasm by that never-ending hesitation of yours, for if it once
gets over a certain line, there is a danger of people giving it another
name and saying you are idle, slothful, or even nervous. Farewell.


I know you are always delighted when the Senate behaves in a way
befitting its rank, for though your love of peace and quiet has caused
you to withdraw from Rome, your anxiety that public life should be kept
at a high level is as strong as it ever was. So let me tell you what
has been going on during the last few days. The proceedings are
memorable owing to the commanding position of the person most concerned;
they will have a healthy influence because of the sharp lesson that has
been administered; and the importance of the case will make them famous
for all time.

Marius Priscus, on being accused by the people of Africa, whom he had
governed as proconsul, declined to defend himself before the Senate and
asked to have judges assigned to hear the case. Cornelius Tacitus and
myself were instructed to appear for the provincials, and we came to the
conclusion that we were bound in honesty to our clients to notify the
Senate that the charges of inhumanity and cruelty brought against
Priscus were too serious to be heard by a panel of judges, inasmuch as
he was accused of having received bribes to condemn and even put to
death innocent persons. Fronto Catius spoke in reply, and urged that
the prosecution should be confined within the law dealing with
extortion: he is wonderfully skilled at drawing tears, and throughout
his speech he filled his sails with a breeze of pathos. Then a hubbub
arose, and there were loud exclamations of applause and dissent; some
held that a trial of the case by the Senate was barred by law; others
declared that the Senate was quite competent and entitled to deal with
it, and argued that the law should punish the whole guilt of the
defendant. At length Julius Ferox, the consul-designate, a man of
honour and probity, gave it as his opinion that judges should be
assigned for the time being, and that those who were said to have bribed
Priscus to punish innocent persons should be summoned to Rome. This
proposal not only carried the day, but it was the only one that was
numerously supported in spite of the previous fierce dissension, for it
has often been remarked that though partisanship and pity lead men to
make very keen and heated attacks in the first instance, they gradually
sober down under the influence of further consideration and reason.
Hence it comes about that no one cares to make the point, when the other
people are sitting still, which a number of persons may be anxious to
make if an uproar is going on all round them; for when you get away from
the throng a quiet consideration of the subject at issue makes clear all
the points that were lost sight of in the throng of speakers.

Well, the witnesses who were summoned came to Rome, viz., Vitellius
Honoratus and Flavius Martianus. Honoratus was charged with having
bribed Priscus to the tune of three hundred thousand sesterces to exile
a Roman knight and put seven of his friends to death; Martianus was
accused of having given Priscus seven hundred thousand sesterces to
sentence a single Roman knight to still more grievous punishment, for he
was beaten with rods, condemned to the mines, and then strangled in
prison. Honoratus--luckily for him--escaped the investigation of the
Senate by dying; Martianus was brought before them when Priscus was not
present. Consequently Tuccius Cerealis, a man of consular rank, pleaded
senatorial privileges and demanded that Priscus should be informed of
the attendance of Martianus, either because he thought that Priscus by
being present would have a better chance of awakening the compassion of
the Senate or to increase the feeling against him, or possibly, and I
think this was his real motive, because strict justice demanded that
both should defend themselves against a charge that affected them both,
and that both should be punished if they could not rebut the accusation.

The subject was postponed to the next meeting of the Senate, and a very
august assembly it was. The Emperor presided in his capacity as consul;
besides, the month of January brings crowds of people to Rome and
especially senators, and moreover the importance of the case, the great
notoriety it had obtained, which had been increased by the delays that
had taken place, and the ingrained curiosity of all men to get to know
all the details of an unusually important matter, had made everybody
flock to Rome from all quarters. You can imagine how nervous and
anxious we were in having to speak in such a gathering and in the
presence of the Emperor on such an important case. It was not the first
time that I had pleaded in the Senate, and there is nowhere where I get
a more sympathetic hearing, but then the novelty of the whole position
seemed to afflict me with a feeling of nervousness I had never felt
before. For in addition to all that I have mentioned above I kept
thinking of the difficulties of the case and was oppressed by the
feeling that Priscus, the defendant, had once held consular rank and
been one of the seven regulators of the sacred feasts, and was now
deprived of both these dignities. So I found it a very trying task to
accuse a man on whom sentence had already been passed, for though the
shocking offences with which he was charged weighed heavily against him,
he yet was protected to a certain extent by the commiseration felt for a
man already condemned to punishment that one might have thought final.

However, as soon as I had pulled myself together and collected my
thoughts, I began my address, and though I was nervous I was on the best
of terms with my audience. I spoke for nearly five hours, for, in
addition to the twelve water-clocks--the largest I could get--which had
been assigned to me, I obtained four others. And, as matters turned
out, everything that I thought before speaking would have proved an
obstacle in the way of a good speech really helped me during my address.
As for the Emperor, he showed me such kind attention and consideration--
for it would be too much to call it anxiety on my behalf--that he
frequently nodded to my freedman, who was standing just behind me, to
give me a hint not to overtax my voice and lungs, when he thought that I
was throwing myself too ardently into my pleading and imposing too great
a burden on my slender frame. Claudius Marcellinus answered me on
behalf of Martianus, and then the Senate was dismissed and met again on
the following day. For there was no time to begin a fresh speech, as it
would have had to be broken off by the fall of night. On the following
day, Salvius Liberalis, a man of shrewd wit, careful in the arrangement
of his speeches, with a pointed style and a fund of learning, spoke for
Marius, and in his speech he certainly brought out all he knew.
Cornelius Tacitus replied to him in a wonderfully eloquent address,
characterised by that lofty dignity which is the chief charm of his
oratory. Then Fronto Catius made another excellent speech on Marius's
behalf, and he spent more time in appeals for mercy than in rebutting
evidence, as befitted the part of the case that he had then to deal
with. The fall of night terminated his speech but did not break it off
altogether, and so the proceedings lasted over into the third day. This
was quite fine and just like it used to be for the Senate to be
interrupted by nightfall, and for the members to be called and sit for
three days running.

Cornutus Tertullus, the consul-designate, a man of high character and a
devoted champion of justice, gave as his opinion that the seven hundred
thousand sesterces which Marius had received should be confiscated to
the Treasury, that Marius should be banished from Rome and Italy, and
that Martianus should be banished from Rome, Italy, and Africa. Towards
the conclusion of his speech he added the remark that the Senate
considered that, since Tacitus and myself, who had been summoned to
plead for the provincials, had fulfilled our duties with diligence and
fearlessness, we had acted in a manner worthy of the commission
entrusted to us. The consuls-designate agreed, and all the consulars
did likewise, until it was Pompeius Collega's turn to speak. He
proposed that the seven hundred thousand sesterces received by Marius
should be confiscated to the Treasury, that Martianus should be banished
for five years, and that Marius should suffer no further penalty than
that for extortion--which had already been passed upon him. Opinion was
largely divided, and there was possibly a majority in favour of the
latter proposal, which was the more lenient or less severe of the two,
for even some of those who appeared to have supported Cornutus changed
sides and were ready to vote for Collega, who had spoken after them.
But when the House divided, those who stood near the seats of the
consuls began to cross over to the side of Cornutus. Then those who
were allowing themselves to be counted as supporters of Collega also
crossed over, and Collega was left with a mere handful. He complained
bitterly afterwards of those who had led him to make the proposal he
did, especially of Regulus, who had failed to support him in the
proposal that he himself had suggested. But Regulus is a fickle fellow,
rash to a degree, yet a great coward as well.

Such was the close of this most important investigation; but there is
still another bit of public business on hand of some consequence, for
Hostilius Firminus, the lieutenant of Marius Priscus, who was implicated
in the matter, had received a very rough handling. It was proved by the
accounts of Martianus and a speech he made in the Council of the Town of
Leptis that he had engaged with Priscus in a very shady transaction,
that he had bargained to receive from Martianus 50,000 denarii and had
received in addition ten million sesterces under the head of perfume
money--a most disgraceful thing for a soldier, but one which was not at
all inconsistent with his character as a man with well-trimmed hair and
polished skin. It was agreed on the motion of Cornutus that the case
should be investigated at the next meeting of the Senate, but at that
meeting he did not put in an appearance, either from some accidental
reason or because he knew he was guilty.

Well, I have told you the news of Rome, you must write and tell me the
news of the country. How are your shrubs getting on, your vines and
your crops, and those dainty sheep of yours? In short, unless you send
me as long a letter I am sending you, you mustn't expect anything more
than the scrappiest note from me in the future. Farewell.


As for the bit of public business which, as I told you in my last
letter, arose out of the case of Marius Priscus, I don't know whether it
has been thoroughly pruned, but it certainly has been trimmed. When
Firminus was called before the Senate he replied to the charges brought
against him. What they were you know. The two consuls-designate
thereupon expressed their opinions as to the sentence and disagreed with
one another. Cornutus Tertullus proposed that he should be degraded
from his rank as senator; Acutius Nerva urged that when the provinces
were allotted Firminus's claim should not be allowed, and his
suggestion, as being the least severe, carried the day, though on the
whole I think it is the harsher and more vindictive of the two. For
what could be more wretched than to be cut off and debarred from all the
privileges of senatorship, and yet not to be freed from its toil and
trouble? What position can be more trying for a man with such a stain
on his name than not to be allowed to hide himself from public view, but
to have to show himself in a position of eminence to the gaze and
pointing fingers of the world? Moreover, can you imagine anything, from
the point of view of the public interest, less congruous or becoming
than that a member of the Senate who has been branded by that body
should keep his seat among them, that he should retain equal rank with
the very persons who branded him, that after being debarred from holding
a governorship for disgraceful conduct as one of an embassy he should
sit in judgment on other governors, and that after being found guilty of
peculation he should pronounce the condemnation or acquittal of others?
However, the majority approved this proposal, for votes are merely
counted and are not weighed according to merit, and there is no other
way possible in a public council. Yet in such cases this presumed
equality of opinions is really most unequal, for all are equal in the
right to vote though the judgment of the voters is a very unequal
quantity. I have fulfilled my promise and made good my word contained
in the earlier letter I sent you, which I reckon you will by this time
have received, for I entrusted it to a fleet and conscientious messenger
who must have reached you unless he has been hindered on the road. It
now rests with you to recompense me for both these epistles with the
very fullest letter that can be sent from where you are staying.


I know you are only too pleased to seize an opportunity for doing me a
service, and for my own part I would rather be in your debt than in that
of any one else. So, for both these reasons, I have decided to choose
you of all people as the one from whom to ask a favour which I am very
anxious to have granted me. You are in command of a magnificent army,
which gives you abundant material for conferring favours, and, moreover,
has provided you with ample time during which you have advanced the
interests of your own friends. Now give my friends a turn, please.
There are not many of them, though you doubtless wish there were. But I
am too modest to ask favours for more than one or two. Indeed there is
only one, and that is Voconius Romanus. His father held a distinguished
position in the equestrian order; his stepfather, or rather his second
father, an even more distinguished place, for Voconius took the name of
the latter out of his regard for him, while his mother belonged to one
of the leading families of Hither Spain. You know how sound and weighty
the opinion of that province is--well, Voconius was quite recently its
flamen. When we were students he and I were close and intimate friends;
we spent our days together in Rome and in the country; he was my
companion both in moments of work and play. You could not imagine a
more trusty friend or a more delightful companion. He has wonderful
conversational powers, and a remarkably sweet face and expression, and
besides this he possesses a lofty intellect and is shrewd, pleasant,
ready, and a clever advocate. The letters he writes are so good as to
make you think the Muses speak Latin. I have the greatest affection for
him, and he has the same for me. When we were both young I did all that
I possibly could as a young man to advance him, and just lately I
induced our excellent Emperor to grant him the privileges attached to
the parentage of three children. That is a favour he bestows but
sparingly and after careful choice, yet he acceded to my request as
though the choice were his own. There is no better way by which I may
keep up my services to him than by adding to their number, especially as
he, the recipient, shows himself so grateful to me that by accepting
former favours he earns others to come. I have told you what kind of a
man he is, how thoroughly I esteem him and how dear he is to me, and I
now ask you to use your wits and splendid opportunities for his
advancement. Above all, give him your regard, for though you shower
upon him your richest dignities you can give him nothing more valuable
than your friendship. It was to assure you that he is worthy of even
your closest intimacy that I have briefly set before you his tastes, his
character and his whole life. I would spin out my request to greater
length, but I know that you would rather I did not press you further and
the whole of this letter is nothing but a request. For the best way of
asking a favour is to give good reason for asking it. Farewell.


Yes, you are quite right; my time is fully taken up by cases in the
Centumviral Court, but they give me more worry than pleasure, for most
of them are of a minor and unimportant character. Only rarely does a
case crop up that can be described as a cause celebre, owing either to
the distinguished position of the persons in the suit or to the
magnitude of the interests involved. Add to this that there are very
few with whom I care to plead; all the other advocates are bumptious,
and for the most part young men of no standing, who come over here to do
their declamations with such utter want of respect and modesty that I
think our friend Atilius just hit the nail on the head when he said that
mere boys begin their forensic career with cases in the Centumviral
Court, just as they begin with Homer in the schools. For here as there
they make their first beginnings on the hardest subjects. Yet, by
Heaven, before my time--to use an old man's phrase--not even the
highest-born youths had any standing here, unless they were introduced
by a man of consular rank.

Such was the respect with which this noble profession was regarded, but
now modesty and respect are thrown to the winds and one man is as good
as another. So far from being introduced, they burst their way in.
Their audiences follow them as if they were actors, bought and paid to
do so; the agent is there to meet them in the middle of the basilica,
where the doles of money are handed over as openly as the doles of food
at a banquet; and they are ready to pass from one court to another for a
similar bribe. So these hirelings have been rather wittily dubbed
Zophokleis--from their readiness to call bravo,--and they have also been
given the Latin name of Laudicaeni--from their eagerness to applaud for
the sake of getting a dinner. Yet this disgraceful practice gets worse
from day to day, in spite of the terms of opprobrium applied to it in
both languages. Yesterday two of my own nomenclators--young men, I
admit, about the age of those who have just assumed the toga--were
enticed off to join the claque for three denarii apiece. Such is the
outlay you must make to get a reputation for eloquence! At that price
you can fill the benches, however many there are, you can collect a
great throng of bystanders and obtain thunders of applause as soon as
the conductor gives the signal. For a signal is absolutely necessary
for people who do not understand and do not even listen to the speeches,
and many of these fellows do not listen at all, though they applaud as
heartily as any. If you happen to be crossing through the basilica and
wish to know how any one is speaking, there is no need for you to mount
to the Bench or listen. It is perfectly safe to guess on the principle
that he is speaking worst who gets the most applause.

Largius Licinius was the first to introduce this new fashion of
procuring an audience, but he went no further than asking people to go
and hear him. At least I remember that Quintilian, my old tutor, used
to tell me so. He told the story thus: "I was in attendance on
Domitius Afer when he was pleading in the Centumviral Court in the
deliberate and measured style with which he conducted all his cases. He
happened to hear from a neighbouring court the sound of extravagant and
unusual applause. Wondering what it could mean, he stopped, and then
resumed where he had broken off as soon as quiet was restored. Again
the shouts came, again he stopped, and after a short period of quiet it
began again for the third time. In the end he inquired who was
speaking, and was told that it was Licinius. At that he discontinued
his case, exclaiming: 'Centumvirs, this is death to our profession.'"
Indeed, it was beginning to go to the bad in other ways when Afer
thought that it had already gone to the bad, but it is now practically
ruined and destroyed, root and branch. I am ashamed to tell you what an
affected delivery these people have and with what unnatural cheering
their speeches are greeted. Their sing-song style only wants clapping
of hands, or rather cymbals and drums, to make them like the priests of
Cybele, for as for howlings--there is no other word to express the
unseemly applause in the theatres--they have enough and to spare. It is
only a desire to save my friends and my age that has induced me to go on
practising so long, for I am afraid people would think that if I retired
my object was not to shun these indecent scenes but to escape hard work.
Yet I am making fewer appearances than usual, and that is the beginning
of gradually ceasing to attend altogether. Farewell.


How does your old Marsian property treat you? And your new purchase?
Do you like the estate now that it is your own? It is rarely one does,
for we never find things as nice when we have obtained them as when we
wished to obtain them. My mother's property is giving me considerable
trouble, but I like it because it was my mother's, and besides, I have
put up with so much that I am now hardened. If people go on complaining
long enough, they end in being ashamed to complain further. Farewell.


You, with your usual watchfulness on my behalf, advise me that the
codicils of Acilianus, who left me heir to half his estate, may be
treated as though they were non-existent, because they are not confirmed
by the will. I was quite aware of the law on the subject, for even
those who know nothing else know as much as that. But I have made a law
of my own for such cases, which leads me to treat as valid the wishes of
a dead man, even though they are not legally binding upon me. It is
beyond question that the codicils in question were drawn up by Acilianus
in his own hand. So, even though they are not confirmed by the will, I
shall carefully carry out their intentions as though they were,
especially as there is no loophole for an informer to meddle in the
matter. For if there were any reason to be afraid of the money I have
given being confiscated, I ought to act with perhaps greater hesitation
and caution; but since an heir is at perfect liberty to give away what
has reverted to him under an inheritance, there is no reason why I
should not abide by my own law, which does not clash with the
regulations of the State. Farewell.


You are surprised, you say, at my infatuation for my Laurentine estate,
or Laurentian if you prefer it so. You will cease to wonder when you
are told the charms of the villa, the handiness of its site, and the
stretch of shore it commands. It is seventeen miles distant from Rome,
so that after getting through all your business, and without loss or
curtailment of your working hours, you can go and stay there. It can be
reached by more than one route, for the roads to Laurentium and Ostia
both lead in the same direction, but you must branch off on the former
at the fourth, and on the latter at the fourteenth milestone. From both
of these points onward the road is for the most part rather sandy, which
makes it a tedious and lengthy journey if you drive, but if you ride it
is easy going and quickly covered. The scenery on either hand is full
of variety. At places the path is a narrow one with woods running down
to it on both sides, at other points it passes through spreading meadows
and is wide and open. You will see abundant flocks of sheep and many
herds of cattle and horses, which are driven down from the high ground
in the winter and grow sleek in a pasturage and a temperature like those
of spring.

The villa is large enough for all requirements, and is not expensive to
keep in repair. At its entrance there is a modest but by no means mean-
looking hall; then come the cloisters, which are rounded into the
likeness of the letter D, and these enclose a smallish but handsome
courtyard. They make a fine place of refuge in a storm, for they are
protected by glazed windows and deep overhanging eaves. Facing the
middle of the cloisters is a cheerful inner court, then comes a dining-
room running down towards the shore, which is handsome enough for any
one, and when the sea is disturbed by the south-west wind the room is
just flecked by the spray of the spent waves. There are folding doors
on all sides of it, or windows that are quite as large as such doors,
and so from the two sides and the front it commands a prospect as it
were of three seas, while at the back one can see through the inner
court, the cloisters, the courtyard, then more cloisters and the hall,
and through them the woods and the distant hills. A little farther
back, on the left-hand side, is a spacious chamber; then a smaller one
which admits the rising sun by one window and by another enjoys his last
lingering rays as he sets, and this room also commands a view of the sea
that lies beneath it, at a longer but more secure distance. An angle is
formed by this chamber and the dining-room, which catches and
concentrates the purest rays of the sun. This forms the winter
apartments and exercise ground for my household. No wind penetrates
thither except those which bring up rain-clouds and only prevent the
place being used when they take away the fine weather. Adjoining this
angle is a chamber with one wall rounded like a bay, which catches the
sun on all its windows as he moves through the heavens. In the wall of
this room I have had shelves placed like a library, which contains the
volumes which I not only read, but read over and over again. Next to it
is a sleeping chamber, through a passage supported by pillars and fitted
with pipes which catch the hot air and circulate it from place to place,
keeping the rooms at a healthy temperature. The remaining part of this
side of the villa is appropriated to the use of my slaves and freedmen,
most of the rooms being sufficiently well furnished for the reception of

On the other side of the building there is a nicely decorated chamber,
then another room which would serve either as a large bed-chamber or a
moderate sized dining-room, as it enjoys plenty of sunshine and an
extensive sea-view. Behind this is an apartment with an ante-room,
suitable for summer use because of its height, and for winter use owing
to it sheltered position, for it is out of reach of all winds. Another
room with an ante-room is joined to this by a common wall. Next to it
is the cold bath room, a spacious and wide chamber, with two curved
swimming baths thrown out as it were from opposite sides of the room and
facing one another. They hold plenty of water if you consider how close
the sea is. Adjoining this room is the anointing room, then the
sweating room, and then the heating room, from which you pass to two
chambers of graceful rather than sumptuous proportions. Attached to
these is a warm swimming bath which everybody admires, and from it those
who are taking a swim can command a view of the sea. Close by is the
tennis court, which receives the warmest rays of the afternoon sun; on
one side a tower has been built with two sitting rooms on the ground
floor, two more on the first floor, and above them a dining-room
commanding a wide expanse of sea, a long stretch of shore, and the
pleasantest villas of the neighbourhood. There is also a second tower,
containing a bedroom which gets the sun morning and evening, and a
spacious wine cellar and store-room at the back of it. On the floor
beneath is a sitting-room where, even when the sea is stormy, you hear
the roar and thunder only in subdued and dying murmurs. It looks out
upon the exercise ground, which runs round the garden.

This exercise ground has a border of boxwood, or rosemary where the box
does not grow well--for box thrives admirably when it is sheltered by
buildings, but where it is fully exposed to wind and weather and to the
spray of the sea, though it stands at a great distance therefrom, it is
apt to shrivel. On the inside ring of the exercise ground is a pretty
and shady alley of vines, which is soft and yielding even to the bare
foot. The garden itself is clad with a number of mulberry and fig-
trees, the soil being specially suitable for the former trees, though it
is not so kindly to the others. On this side, the dining-room away from
the sea commands as fine a view as that of the sea itself. It is closed
in behind by two day-rooms, from the windows of which can be seen the
entrance to the villa from the road and another garden as rich as the
first one but not so ornamental.

Along its side stretches a covered portico, almost long enough for a
public building. It has windows on both sides, most of them facing the
sea; those looking on the garden are single ones, and less numerous than
those on the other side, as every alternate window was left out. All
these are kept open when it is a fine day and there is no wind; when the
wind is high, the windows only on the sheltered side are opened and no
harm is done. In front of the portico is a terrace walk that is
fragrant with violets. The portico increases the warmth of the sun by
radiation, and retains the heat just as it keeps off and breaks the
force of the north wind. Hence it is as warm in front as it is cool
behind. In the same way it checks the south-west winds, and similarly
with all winds from whatever quarter they blow--it tempers them and
stops them dead. This is its charm in winter, but in summer it is even
greater, for in the mornings its shade tempers the heat of the terrace
walk, and in the afternoon the heat of the exercise ground and the
nearest part of the garden, the shadows falling longer and shorter on
the two sides respectively as the sun rises to his meridian and sinks to
his setting. Indeed, the portico has least sunshine when the sun is
blazing down upon its roof. Consequently it receives the west winds
through its open windows and circulates them through the building, and
so never becomes oppressive through the stuffy air remaining within it.

At the head of the terrace and portico successively is a garden suite of
rooms, my favourite spot and well worthy of being so. I had them built
myself. In this is a sunny chamber which commands the terrace on one
side, the sea on another, and the sun on both; besides an apartment
which looks on the portico through folding doors and on the sea through
a window. In the middle of the wall is a neat recess, which by means of
glazed windows and curtains can either be thrown into the adjoining room
or be cut off from it. It holds a couch and two easy-chairs, and as you
lie on the couch you have the sea at your feet, the villa at your back,
and the woods at your head, and all these views may be looked at
separately from each window or blended into one prospect. Adjoining is
a chamber for passing the night in or taking a nap, and unless the
windows are open, you do not hear a sound either of your slaves talking,
or the murmur of the sea, or the raging of the storms; nor do you see
the flashes of the lightning or know that it is day. This deep
seclusion and remoteness is due to the fact that an intervening passage
separates the wall of the chamber from that of the garden, and so all
the sound is dissipated in the empty space between. A very small
heating apparatus has been fitted to the room, which, by means of a
narrow trap-door, either diffuses or retains the hot air as may be
required. Adjoining it is an ante-room and a chamber projected towards
the sun, which the latter room catches immediately upon his rising, and
retains his rays beyond mid-day though they fall aslant upon it. When I
betake myself into this sitting-room, I seem to be quite away even from
my villa, and I find it delightful to sit there, especially during the
Saturnalia, when all the rest of the house rings with the merry riot and
shouts of the festival-makers; for then I do not interfere with their
amusements, and they do not distract me from my studies.

The convenience and charm of the situation of my villa have one drawback
in that it contains no running water, but I draw my supply from wells or
rather fountains, for they are situated at a high level. Indeed, it is
one of the curious characteristics of the shore here that wherever you
dig you find moisture ready to hand, and the water is quite fresh and
not even brackish in the slightest degree, though the sea is so close
by. The neighbouring woods furnish us with abundance of fuel, and other
supplies we get from a colony of Ostia. The village, which is separated
only by one residence from my own, supplies my modest wants; it boasts
of three public baths, which are a great convenience, when you do not
feel inclined to heat your own bath at home, if you arrive unexpectedly
or wish to save time. The shore is beautified by a most pleasing
variety of villa buildings, some of which are close together, while
others have great intervals between them. They give the appearance of a
number of cities, whether you view them from the sea or from the shore
itself, and the sands of the latter are sometimes loosened by a long
spell of quiet weather, or--as more often happens--are hardened by the
constant beating of the waves. The sea does not indeed abound with fish
of any value, but it yields excellent soles and prawns. Yet our villa
provides us with plenty of inland produce and especially milk, for the
herds come down to us from the pastures whenever they seek water or

Well, do you think that I have just reasons for living here, for passing
my time here, and for loving a retreat for which your mouth must be
watering, unless you are a confirmed town-bird? I wish that your mouth
did water! If it did, the many great charms of my little villa would be
enhanced in the highest degree by your company. Farewell.


No, you could not have given me a pleasanter commission than to find a
teacher of rhetoric for your brother's children. For, thanks to you, I
go to school again, and, as it were, enjoy once more the happiest days
of my life. I sit among young people, as I used to do, and I can judge
what authority I have among them owing to my literary pursuits. Just
recently in a full class-room, before a number of members of our order,
the boys were joking among themselves quite loudly; the moment I entered
they were quiet as mice. I should not mention the incident except that
it redounded more to their credit than to mine, and that I wish you to
feel sure that your brother's sons can attend the lectures to their
advantage. Moreover, when I have heard all the lectures, I will write
and tell you what I think about each one of them, and so--as far as I
can by a letter--I will make you think that you have heard them all
yourself. I owe this to you, and I owe it to the memory of your brother
to deal loyally by him and take this interest, especially on such an
important subject. For what can touch you more closely than that these
children--I should say your children, but that you love them more than
if they were your own--should be found worthy of such a father and such
an uncle as yourself. Even if you had not asked me to look after them,
I should have done so on my own account. I do not forget that in
choosing a public teacher one is apt to give offence, but on behalf of
your brother's sons I must risk giving offence and even incurring
animosity with as little compunction as a parent would in looking after
his own children. Farewell.


You urge me to recite my speech before a company of my friends. I will
do so, because you ask me to, but I am exceedingly doubtful of the
wisdom of the step. For I cannot help remembering that speeches which
are recited lose all their spirit and passion and almost the right to
the name of speeches--which are properly enhanced and fired by the bench
of judges, the crowds of supporters, the waiting for the verdict, the
reputation of the various counsel, and the divided partisanship of the
audience. Besides all this, there are the gestures of the pleader, his
moving to and fro, even his hurried strides, and every movement of his
body which corresponds to some thought passing through his mind. Hence
it is that those who plead sitting down, although they have practically
the same environment as those who plead standing, are not so impressive
and telling just because they happen to be seated. But when a man
recites a speech, his eyes and hands--which are the most important aids
to expression--are otherwise occupied, and so it is no wonder that the
attention of the audience becomes languid, when there are no external
graces to charm them and no thrills to stimulate them. Moreover, the
address I am talking about is a fighting speech and full of contentious
matter, and Nature has so ordained it that we think, if a subject has
given us trouble to write, it will give an audience trouble to listen to
it. How few conscientious listeners there are who prefer a stiff,
closely-reasoned argument to honeyed and sonorous eloquence! It is
wrong, I know, that there should be a difference of taste between judge
and listener, but there is such a difference and it constantly crops up.
The audience want one thing and the judges another, whereas, on the
contrary, a listener ought to be impressed just by those points which
would make most impression on him if he were judge. However, it is
possible that in spite of these difficulties the speech may be
recommended by a certain novelty--a novelty that is quite Roman,--for
though the Greeks have a custom which does bear a remote resemblance to
it, it is really quite different. For just as it was their practice, in
showing that a law was opposed to earlier laws, to prove that it was so
by comparing it with the others, so I had to show that my accusation was
covered by the law against extortion by comparing it with other laws as
well as by proving it from the law itself. Such a subject, though far
from having any charm for the ears of the man in the street, ought to be
as interesting to the learned as it is uninteresting to the unlearned.
But if I make up my mind to recite the speech, I shall invite all the
learned people to hear it. However, please think it over by all means
and tell me whether you still consider that I ought to recite it; place
on either side all the considerations I have raised, and choose the
conclusion which has the weight of argument in its favour. It is from
you, not from me, that a reason will be required; my apology will be
that I did as I was told. Farewell.


Get ready your penny and I will tell you a golden story, nay, more than
one, for the new one has reminded me of some old tales, and it does not
matter with which I begin. Verania, the wife of Piso, was lying very
ill--I mean the Piso who was adopted by Galba. Regulus paid her a
visit. First mark the impudence of the man in coming to see the
invalid, for he had been her husband's bitter enemy and she loathed and
detested him. However, that might pass if he had only called, but he
actually sat down beside her on the couch and asked her on what day and
at what hour she had been born. On being told he puts on a grave look,
fixes his eyes hard, moves his lips, works his fingers and makes his
reckoning, but says nothing. Then after keeping the poor lady on the
tenter-hooks, wondering what he would say, he exclaims: "You are
passing through a critical time, but you will pull through. Still, just
to reassure you, I will go and consult a soothsayer with whom I have
often had dealings." He goes off at once; offers the sacrifice and
swears that the appearance of the entrails corresponds with the warning
of the stars. She, with all the credulity of an invalid, calls for her
tablets and writes down a legacy for Regulus; subsequently she grows
worse and exclaims as she dies, "What a rascal, what a lying and worse
than perjured wretch, thus to have sworn falsely on the head of his

That is Regulus's trick, and he has recourse to the scandalous device
constantly, for he calls down the anger of the gods, whom he daily
outrages, upon the head of his luckless son. Velleius Blaesus, the rich
Consular, was stricken with the illness which carried him off, and was
desirous of changing his will. Regulus, who was capable of hoping for
anything from an alteration of the will because he had lately begun to
haunt him on the chance of a legacy, begged and prayed of the doctors to
prolong Blaesus's life by hook or by crook. But when the will was
signed he took quite a different line. He changed his tone and said to
the same doctors: "How long do you intend to torture the poor man? Why
do you grudge him an easy death when you cannot give him life?" Blaesus
dies, and, as though he had heard every word, he leaves Regulus not a
brass farthing. Two stories are quite enough. Or do you ask for a
third, on the rhetoricians' principle? Well, I have one for you. When
Aurelia, a lady of great means, was about to make her will, she put on
for the occasion her most handsome tunics. When Regulus came to witness
the signing he said, "I beg you to leave me these." Aurelia thought the
man was joking, but he was serious and pressed the matter. Well, to cut
the story short, he compelled the poor woman to open the tablets and
leave to him the tunics she was wearing at the time. He watched her as
she wrote, and looked to see whether she had written it rightly.
Aurelia still lives, but he forced her to make that legacy as if she had
been on the point of death. Yet this is the fellow who receives
inheritances and legacies as though he deserved them.

But why do I worry myself when I live in a country where villainy and
rascality have long been getting not less but far more handsome rewards
than modesty and virtue? Look at Regulus, for example, who, from being
a pauper and without a shilling, has now become such a rich man by sheer
villainy that he once told me that, when he was consulting the omens as
to how soon he would be worth sixty millions of sesterces, he found
double sets of entrails, which were a token that he would be worth 120
millions. So he will too, if only he goes on, as he has begun,
dictating wills which are not their own to the very people who are
making their wills, which is about the most disgraceful kind of forgery
imaginable. Farewell.



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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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


I was delighted to find that you are so zealous a student of my uncle's
books that you would like to possess copies of them all, and that you
ask me to give you a complete list of them. I will play the part of an
index for you, and tell you, moreover, the order in which they were
written, for this is a point that students are interested to know.
"Throwing the Javelin from Horseback," one volume; this was composed,
with considerable ingenuity and research, when he was on active service
as a cavalry lieutenant. "The Life of Pomponius Secundus," two
volumes;--Pomponius was remarkably attached to my uncle, who, so to
speak, composed this book to his friend's memory in payment of his debt
of gratitude. "The German Wars," twenty volumes;--this comprises an
account of all the wars we have waged with the German races. He
commenced it, while on service in Germany, in obedience to the warning
of a dream, for, while he was asleep, the shade of Drusus Nero, who had
won sweeping victories in that country and died there, appeared to him
and kept on entrusting his fame to my uncle, beseeching him to rescue
his name from ill-deserved oblivion. "The Student," three volumes,
afterwards split up into six on account of their length;--in this he
showed the proper training and equipment of an orator from his cradle
up. "Ambiguity in Language," in eight volumes, was written in the last
years of Nero's reign when tyranny had made it dangerous to write any
book, no matter the subject, in anything like a free and candid style.
"A Continuation of the History of Aufidius Bassus," in thirty-one books,
and a "Natural History," in thirty-seven books;--the latter is a
comprehensive and learned work, covering as wide a field as Nature

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

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

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


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

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.


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

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.


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.


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;

Book of the day: