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

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the Greeks say, "Ignorance makes a man bold; calculation gives him
pause," and just in the same way modesty cripples the force of an
upright mind, while unblushing confidence is a source of strength to a
man without conscience. Regulus is a case in point. He has weak lungs,
he never looks you straight in the face, he stammers, he has no
imaginative power, absolutely no memory, no quality at all, in short,
except a wild, frantic genius, and yet, thanks to his effrontery, and
even just to this frenzy of his, he has got people to regard him as an
orator. Herennius Senecio very neatly turned against him Cato's well-
known definition of an orator by saying, "An orator is a bad man who
knows nothing of the art of speaking," and I really think that he
thereby gave a better definition of Regulus than Cato did of the really
true orator.

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


I have been delighted to hear from our mutual friends that you map out
and bear your retirement in a way that is worthy of your ripe wisdom,
that you live in a charming spot, that you take exercise on both sea and
land, that you have plenty of good conversation, that you read a great
deal and listen to others reading, and that, though your stock of
knowledge is vast, you yet add thereto every day. That is just the way
a man should spend his later years after filling the highest
magistracies, after commanding armies, and devoting himself wholly to
the service of the State for as long as it became him to do so. For we
owe our early and middle manhood to our country, our last years are due
to ourselves--as indeed the laws direct which enforce retirement when we
reach a certain age. When will that appointed time come to me? When
shall I attain the age at which I may honourably retire and imitate the
example of beautiful and perfect peace that you set me? When shall I be
able to enjoy calm retreat without people calling it not peaceful
tranquillity but laziness and sloth? Farewell.


Just recently, after pleading before the Centumviri in the fourfold
Court, I happened to remember that in my younger days I had also pleaded
in the same court. My thoughts, as usual, began to take a wider range,
and I commenced to recall to my memory those whom I had worked with in
this court and in that. I found I was the only one left who had
practised in both, so sweeping were the changes effected by the
slenderness of human life and the fickleness of fortune. Some of those
who used to plead in my young days are dead, others are in exile; age
and ill health have convinced others that their speaking days are over;
some are enjoying of their own free will the pleasures of retirement, or
are in command of armies, or have been withdrawn from civil employments
by becoming the personal friends of the Emperor. Even in my own case
how many changes I have gone through! I first owed my promotion to my
literary studies; then they brought me into danger, and then again won
me still further advancement. My friendships with worthy citizens
likewise first helped me, then stood in my way, and now again they
assist me. If you count the years, the time seems but short; but count
the changes and the ups and downs, and it seems an age. This may be
taken by us as a lesson never to despair of anything, and never to
impose a blind trust in anything, when we see so many vicissitudes
brought about by this inconstant world of ours. I deem it a mark of
friendship on my part to make you the confidant of my thoughts, and to
admonish you by the precepts and examples with which I admonish myself.
That is the raison d'etre of this letter. Farewell.


I wrote and told you that there was a danger of the ballot leading to
abuses. Events have confirmed my view. At the last election a number
of flippant jests were written on some of the voting cards and even
obscenities, while on one of them were found, not the names of the
candidates, but those of the voters. The Senate was furious, and loudly
called upon the offended Emperor to punish the writer. But the guilty
person was not discovered and lay close, and he possibly was one of
those who professed the greatest indignation. Yet what conduct may we
not consider him capable of at home when he plays such disgraceful jokes
in a matter of such importance and at such a serious moment, and yet in
the Senate is an incisive, courteous, and pretty speaker? However,
people of no principle are encouraged to act in this shameful way when
they feel they can safely say, "Who will find me out?" Such a man asks
for a voting card, takes a pen in his hand, bends his head, has no fear
of any one, and holds himself cheap. That is the origin of scurrilities
only worthy of the stage and the platform. But where can one turn, and
where is one to look for a cure? On every hand the evils are more
powerful than the remedies. Yet "all these things will be seen to by
one above us," whose daily working hours are lengthened and whose
labours are considerably increased by this lumpish, yet unbridled,


You ask me to be sure to look over and correct my speeches, which you
have taken the greatest pains to get together. I will with pleasure,
for what duty is there that I ought to be better pleased to undertake,
especially as it is you who ask me? When a man of your weight,
scholarship, and learning, and, above all, one who is never idle for a
moment, and is about to be governor of an important province, sets such
store on having my writings to take with him on his travels, surely I
ought to do my best to prevent this part of his luggage from appearing
useless in his eyes. So I will do what I can, first, to make those
companions of your voyage as agreeable as possible, and, secondly, to
enable you to find on your return others that you may like to add to
their number. Believe me, the fact that you read what I write is no
small incentive to me to produce new works. Farewell.


This is the third day that I have been attending the recitals of Sentius
Augurinus, which I have not only enjoyed immensely, but admired as well.
He calls his work "Poetical Pieces." Many are airy trifles; many deal
with noble themes, and they abound in wit, tenderness, sweetness, and
sting. Unless it is that my affection for him, or the fact that he has
lavished praises upon me, warps my judgment, I must say that for some
years past there have been no such finished poems of their class
produced. Augurinus took as his theme the fact that I occasionally
amuse myself with writing verses. I will enable you to act the critic of
my criticism if I can recall the second line of the piece. I remember
the others, and now I think I have them all.

"I sing songs in trifling measures, which Catullus, Calvus, and the
poets of old have employed before me. But what matters that to me?
Pliny alone I count my senior. When he quits the Forum, his taste is
for light verses; he seeks an object for his love, and thinks that he is
loved in return. What a man is Pliny, worth how many Catos! Go now,
you who love, and love no more."

You see how smart, how apposite, how clear-cut the verses are, and I can
promise you that the whole book is equally good. I will send you a copy
as soon as it is published. Meanwhile, give the young man your regard
and congratulate the age on producing such genius, which he enhances by
the beauty of his morals. He passes his time with Spurinna and
Antoninus; he is related to the one, and shares the same house with the
other. You may guess from this that he is a youth of finished parts,
when he is thus loved by men of their years and worth. For the old
adage is wonderfully true, "You may tell a man by the company he keeps."


Herennius Severus, a man of great learning, is anxious to place in his
library portraits of your fellow-townsmen, Cornelius Nepos and Titus
Catius, and he asks me to get them copied and painted if there are any
such portraits in their native place, as there probably are. I am
laying this commission upon you rather than on any one else, first,
because you are always kind enough to grant any favour I ask; secondly,
because I know your reverence for literary studies and your love of
literary men; and, lastly, because you love and reverence your native
place, and entertain the same feelings for those who have helped to make
its name famous. So I beg you to find as careful a painter as you can,
for while it is hard to paint a portrait from an original, it is far
more difficult to make a good imitation of an imitation. Moreover,
please do not let the painter you choose make any variations from his
copy, even though they are for the better. Farewell.


Do be careful, my dear friend, and the next time there is business
afoot, see to it that you come into court, whatever happens. It is no
good your putting your confidence in me and so continuing your slumber;
if you stay away, you will have to smart for it. For look you, Licinius
Nepos, who is making a sharp and resolute praetor, has levied a fine
even on a senator. The latter pleaded his cause in the Senate, but he
did so in the form of suing for forgiveness. The fine was remitted, yet
he had an uneasy time; he had to ask for pardon, and he was obliged to
sue for forgiveness. You will say, "Oh, but all praetors are not so
strict." Don't make any mistake! For though it is only a strict
praetor who would make or revive such a precedent, when once it has been
made or revived even the most lenient officials can put it into
execution. Farewell.


I have brought you as a present from my native district a problem which
is fully worthy even of your profound learning. A spring rises in the
mountain-side; it flows down a rocky course, and is caught in a little
artificial banqueting house. After the water has been retained there
for a time it falls into the Larian lake. There is a wonderful
phenomenon connected with it, for thrice every day it rises and falls
with fixed regularity of volume. Close by it you may recline and take a
meal, and drink from the spring itself, for the water is very cool, and
meanwhile it ebbs and flows at regular and stated intervals. If you
place a ring or anything else on a dry spot by the edge, the water
gradually rises to it and at last covers it, and then just as gradually
recedes and leaves it bare; while if you watch it for any length of
time, you may see both processes twice or thrice repeated. Is there any
unseen air which first distends and then tightens the orifice and mouth
of the spring, resisting its onset and yielding at its withdrawal? We
observe something of this sort in jars and other similar vessels which
have not a direct and free opening, for these, when held either
perpendicularly or aslant, pour out their contents with a sort of gulp,
as though there were some obstruction to a free passage. Or is this
spring like the ocean, and is its volume enlarged and lessened
alternately by the same laws that govern the ebb and flow of the tide?
Or again, just as rivers on their way to the sea are driven back on
themselves by contrary winds and the opposing tide, is there anything
that can drive back the outflow of this spring? Or is there some latent
reservoir which diminishes and retards the flow while it is gradually
collecting the water that has been drained off, and increases and
quickens the flow when the process of collection is complete? Or is
there some curiously hidden and unseen balance which, when emptied,
raises and thrusts forth the spring, and, when filled, checks and
stifles its flow? Please investigate the causes which bring about this
wonderful result, for you have the ability to do so; it is more than
enough for me if I have described the phenomenon with accuracy.



I have come in for a legacy, inconsiderable in amount, yet more
gratifying than even the handsomest one could be. Why so? I will tell
you. Pomponia Galla, who had disinherited her son Asudius Curianus, had
left me her heir and had given me as co-heirs Sertorius Severus, a man
of praetorian rank, and other Roman knights of distinction. Curianus
begged me to make my portion over to him, and so strengthen his position
with the court by declaring in his favour beforehand, promising at the
same time to make the amount good to me by a secret compact. My answer
was that my character did not allow me to act in one way before the
world and in another in private, and I further urged that it would not
be a proper thing to make over sums of money to a wealthy and childless
man. In short, my argument was that I should not benefit him by making
over the amount, but that I should benefit him if I renounced my legacy,
and that this I was perfectly willing to do, if he could satisfy me that
he had been unjustly disinherited. His reply to this was to ask me to
investigate the case judicially. After some hesitation I said, "I will,
for I do not see why I should appear less honourable in my own eyes than
I do in yours. But remember even now that I shall not hesitate to
pronounce in favour of your mother if I feel honourably bound to do so."
"Do as you will," he replied, "for what you will is sure to be just and

I called in to assist me two of the most thoroughly honourable men that
the State could boast of possessing, Corellius and Frontinus. With
these by my side I sat in my private room. Curianus then laid his case
before us; I replied briefly, for there was no one else present to
defend the motives of the deceased. Then I withdrew, and, in accordance
with the views of Corellius and Frontinus, I said, "Curianus, we think
that your mother had just grounds for resentment against you."
Subsequently, he lodged an appeal before the centumvirs against the
other heirs but not against me. The day for the hearing approached, and
my co-heirs were disposed to agree to a compromise and come to terms,
not because they doubted their legal position, but owing to the troubled
state of the times. They were afraid that what had happened to many
others might happen to them, and that they might leave the Centumvirs'
Court with some capital charge against them. Moreover, there were some
among their number who were open to the charge of having been friends of
Gratilla and Rusticus, so they begged me to speak with Curianus. We met
in the Temple of Concord, and I addressed him there in the following
terms: "If your mother had left you heir to a fourth of her estate,
could you complain? But what if she had left you heir to the whole, and
yet had so encumbered it with legacies that not more than a fourth of
the whole remained? I think you ought to be satisfied if, after being
disinherited by your mother, you receive a fourth from her heirs, and
this sum I will myself increase. You know that you did not lodge any
appeal against me, that two years have passed, and that I have
established my title to my share. But in order that my co-heirs may
find you more tractable, and that you may lose nothing by the
consideration you have shown me, I offer you of my own free will the
amount that I have received."

I have reaped the reward not only of my scrupulously fair dealing, but
also of my reputation. Curianus left me a legacy, and, unless I flatter
myself unduly, he has given signal distinction to the honest course of
action I pursued. I have written to tell you this because it is my
custom to discuss with you any matters which give me pain or pleasure,
as freely as though I were talking to myself. Besides, I thought it
would be unkind to defraud you, who have such a great regard for me, of
the pleasure which I have received therefrom. For I am not such a
perfect philosopher as to think it makes no difference whether I receive
or not the approbation of others--which is itself a kind of reward--when
I think that I have acted in an honourable manner. Farewell.


I received the very fine sea-carp which you sent me. The weather is so
stormy that I cannot return you like for like, either from the market
here at Laurentinum or from the sea. So all you will get is a barren
letter, which frankly makes no return and does not even imitate
Diomede's clever device in exchanging gifts. But your kindness is such
that you will excuse me all the more readily because I confess in my
letter that I do not deserve it. Farewell.


While I gratefully acknowledge your many acts of kindness to me, I must
especially thank you for not concealing from me the fact that my verses
have formed the subject of many long discussions at your house, that
such discussions have been lengthened owing to the different views
expressed, and that some people, while finding no fault with the
writings themselves, blamed me in a perfectly friendly and candid way
for having written on such themes and for having read them in public.
Well, in order to aggravate my misdeeds, here is my reply to them:
"Yes, I do occasionally compose verses which are far from being couched
in a serious vein. I don't deny it. I also listen to comedies, and
attend the performances of mimes. I read lyrics, and I understand the
poems of Sotades. Moreover, I now and then laugh, jest, and amuse
myself; in short, to sum up in a word every kind of harmless recreation,
I may say 'I am a man.'"

Nor does it annoy me that people should form such opinions about my
character, when it is plain that those who are surprised that I should
compose such poems are unaware that the most learned of men and the
gravest and purest livers have regularly done the same thing. But I
feel sure that I shall easily obtain permission from those who know the
character and calibre of the authors in whose footsteps I am treading,
to stray in company with men whom it is an honour to follow, not only in
their serious but in their lightest moods. I will not mention the names
of those still living for fear of seeming to flatter, but is a person
like myself to be afraid that it will be unbecoming for him to do what
well became Marcus Tullius, Caius Calvus, Asinius Pollio, Marcus
Messalla, Quintus Hortensius, M. Brutus, Lucius Sulla, Quintus Catulus,
Quintus Scaevola, Servius Sulpicius, Varro, Torquatus--or rather the
Torquati,--Caius Memmius, Lentulus, Gaetulicus, Annaeus Seneca, Lucan,
and, last of all, Verginius Rufus? If the names of these private
individuals are not enough, I may add those of the divine Julius,
Augustus and Nerva, and that of Tiberius Caesar. I pass by the name of
Nero, though I am aware that a practice does not become any the worse
because it is sometimes followed by men of bad character, while a
practice usually followed by men of good character retains its honesty.
Among the latter class of men one must give a pre-eminent place to
Publius Vergilius, Cornelius Nepos, and to Attius and Ennius, who should
perhaps come first. These men were not senators, but purity of
character is the same in all ranks.

But, you say, I recite my compositions and I cannot be sure that they
did. Granted, but they may have been content with their own judgment,
whereas I am too modest to think that any composition of mine is
sufficiently perfect when it has no other approbation but my own.

Consequently, these are the reasons why I recite in public, first,
because a man who recites becomes a keener critic of his own writings
out of deference to his audience, and, secondly, because, where he is in
doubt, he can decide by referring the point to his auditors. Moreover,
he constantly meets with criticism from many quarters, and even if it is
not openly expressed, he can tell what each person thinks by watching
the expression and eyes of his hearers, or by a nod, a motion of the
hand, a murmur, or dead silence. All these things are tolerably clear
indications which enable one to distinguish judgment from complaisance.
And so, if any one who was present at my reading takes the trouble to
look through the same compositions, he will find that I have either
altered or omitted certain passages, in compliance perhaps with his
judgment, though he never uttered a word to me. But I am arguing on
this point as though I invited the whole populace to my reading room and
not merely a few friends to my private chamber, while the possession of
a large circle of friends has been a source of pride to many men and a
reproach to none. Farewell.


The incident is trifling in itself, but it is leading up to important
consequences. Sollers, a man of praetorian rank, asked permission of
the Senate to establish a market on his property. The delegates of the
people of Vicetia opposed it: Tuscilius Nominatus appeared as their
counsel, and the hearing was postponed. At a later meeting of the
Senate, the Vicetini entered without their counsel and said that they
had been tricked,--I cannot say whether it was merely a hasty
expression, or whether they really thought they had been. When they
were asked by the praetor Nepos whom they had instructed to appear for
them, they said, "We have the same counsel as before." To the question
whether on the previous occasion he had appeared for them gratuitously,
they said they had given him 6000 sesterces, and on being asked whether
they paid him a further fee, they replied, "Yes, a thousand denarii."
Nepos demanded that Nominatus should be called, and matters went no
further on that day. But, I fancy, the case has gone to much greater
lengths than that, for it often happens that a mere touch is sufficient
to set things in commotion, and then they spread far and wide. I have
made you prick up your ears, so now you will have to ask in your very
nicest manner for me to tell you the rest of the story, unless you
decide to come to Rome for the sequel, and prefer to see it for yourself
rather than read about it. Farewell.


I have been told that Caius Fannius is dead, and the news has greatly
upset me, in the first place, because I loved him for his taste and
learning, and, secondly, because I used to avail myself of his judgment.
He was naturally keen-witted; experience had sharpened his acumen, and
he could detect the truth without hesitation. I am troubled, too, owing
to the circumstances in which he died, for he has died without revoking
an old will which contains no mention of those for whom he had the
greatest affection, and is in favour of those with whom he has been on
bad terms. However, this might have been got over--what is most serious
is that he has left unfinished his finest work. Although his time was
taken up with his profession as a pleader, he was engaged in writing the
lives of those who were put to death or banished by Nero. He had
already finished three books, in an unadorned, accurate style and in the
Latin language. They are something between narrative and history, and
the eagerness which people displayed to read them made him all the more
desirous to finish the remaining volumes.

It always seems to me hard and untimely when people die who are engaged
upon some immortal work. For those who are devoted to their pleasures
and live a sort of day-to-day existence exhaust every day the reasons
why they should go on living, whereas when people think of posterity and
keep alive their memory by their works, their death, come as it may, is
always sudden, inasmuch as it cuts short something that is still
unfinished. However, Caius Fannius had had for a long time a
presentiment of what was to befall him. He dreamt in the quiet of the
night that he was lying on his bed dressed for study and that he had a
writing desk before him, as was his wont. Then he thought that Nero
came to him, sat down on the couch, and after producing the first volume
which Fannius had written about his crimes, turned over the pages to the
end. He did the same with the second and third volumes, and then
departed. Fannius was much alarmed, and interpreted the dream to mean
that he would leave off writing just where Nero had left off reading,
and so the event proved.

When I think of it I feel grieved to think how many wakeful hours and
how much labour Fannius toiled through in vain. I see before me my own
mortality and my own writings. Nor do I doubt that you have the same
thought and anxiety for the work which is still on your hands. Let us
do our best, therefore, while life lasts, that death may find as few
works of ours as possible for him to destroy. Farewell.


I was charmed with the kind consideration which led you, when you heard
that I was about to visit my Tuscan villa in the summer, to advise me
not to do so during the season that you consider the district unhealthy.
Undoubtedly, the region along the coast of Tuscany is trying and
dangerous to the health, but my property lies well back from the sea;
indeed, it is just under the Apennines, which are the healthiest of our
mountain ranges. However, that you may not have the slightest anxiety
on my account, let me tell you all about the climatic conditions, the
lie of the land, and the charms of my villa. It will be as pleasant
reading for you as it is pleasant writing for me.

In winter the air is cold and frosty: myrtles, olives and all other
trees which require constant warmth for them to do well, the climate
rejects and spurns, though it allows laurel to grow, and even brings it
to a luxuriant leaf. Occasionally, however, it kills it, but that does
not happen more frequently than in the neighbourhood of Rome. In
summer, the heat is marvellously tempered: there is always a breath of
air stirring, and breezes are more common than winds. Hence the number
of old people to be found there: you find the grandfathers and great-
grandfathers of the young people still living; you are constantly
hearing old stories and tales of the past, so that, when you set foot
there, you may fancy that you have been born in another century.

The contour of the district is most beautiful. Picture to yourself an
immense amphitheatre, such as only Nature can create, with a wide-
spreading plain ringed with hills, and the summits of the hills
themselves covered with tall and ancient forests. There is plentiful
and varied hunting to be had. Down the mountain slopes there are
stretches of underwoods, and among these are rich, deep-soiled hillocks-
-where if you look for a stone you will have hard work to find one--
which are just as fertile as the most level plains, and ripen just as
rich harvests, though later in the season. Below these, along the whole
hillsides, stretch the vineyards which present an unbroken line far and
wide, on the borders and lowest level of which comes a fringe of trees.
Then you reach the meadows and the fields--fields which only the most
powerful oxen and the stoutest ploughs can turn. The soil is so tough
and composed of such thick clods that when it is first broken up it has
to be furrowed nine times before it is subdued. The meadows are
jewelled with flowers, and produce trefoil and other herbs, always
tender and soft, and looking as though they were always fresh. For all
parts are well nourished by never-failing streams, and even where there
is most water there are no swamps, for the declivity of the land drains
off into the Tiber all the moisture that it receives and cannot itself

The Tiber runs through the middle of the plain; it is navigable for
ships, and all the grain is carried down stream to the city, at least in
winter and spring. In summer the volume of water dwindles away, leaving
but the name of a great river to the dried-up bed, but in the autumn it
recovers its flood. You would be delighted if you could obtain a view
of the district from the mountain height, for you would think you were
looking not so much at earth and fields as at a beautiful landscape
picture of wonderful loveliness. Such is the variety, such the
arrangement of the scene, that wherever the eyes fall they are sure to
be refreshed.

My villa, though it lies at the foot of the hill, enjoys as fine a
prospect as though it stood on the summit; the ascent is so gentle and
easy, and the gradient so unnoticeable, that you find yourself at the
top without feeling that you are ascending. The Apennines lie behind
it, but at a considerable distance, and even on a cloudless and still
day it gets a breeze from this range, never boisterous and rough, for
its strength is broken and lost in the distance it has to travel. Most
of the house faces south; in summer it gets the sun from the sixth hour,
and in winter considerably earlier, inviting it as it were into the
portico, which is broad and long to correspond, and contains a number of
apartments and an old-fashioned hall. In front, there is a terrace laid
out in different patterns and bounded with an edging of box; then comes
a sloping ridge with figures of animals on both sides cut out of the
box-trees, while on the level ground stands an acanthus-tree, with
leaves so soft that I might almost call them liquid. Round this is a
walk bordered by evergreens pressed and trimmed into various shapes;
then comes an exercise ground, round like a circus, which surrounds the
box-trees that are cut into different forms, and the dwarf shrubs that
are kept clipped. Everything is protected by an enclosure, which is
hidden and withdrawn from sight by the tiers of box-trees. Beyond is a
meadow, as well worth seeing for its natural charm as the features just
described are for their artificial beauty, and beyond that there
stretches an expanse of fields and a number of other meadows and

At the head of the portico there runs out the dining-room, from the
doors of which can be seen the end of the terrace with the meadow and a
good expanse of country beyond it, while from the windows the view on
the one hand commands one side of the terrace and the part of the villa
which juts out, and on the other the grove and foliage of the adjoining
riding-school. Almost opposite to the middle of the portico is a
summer-house standing back a little, with a small open space in the
middle shaded by four plane-trees. Among them is a marble fountain,
from which the water plays upon and lightly sprinkles the roots of the
plane-trees and the grass plot beneath them. In this summer-house there
is a bed-chamber which excludes all light, noise, and sound, and
adjoining it is a dining-room for my friends, which faces upon the small
court and the other portico, and commands the view enjoyed by the
latter. There is another bed-chamber, which is leafy and shaded by the
nearest plane-tree and built of marble up to the balcony; above is a
picture of a tree with birds perched in the branches equally beautiful
with the marble. Here there is a small fountain with a basin around the
latter, and the water runs into it from a number of small pipes, which
produce a most agreeable sound. In the corner of the portico is a
spacious bed-chamber leading out of the dining-room, some of its windows
looking out upon the terrace, others upon the meadow, while the windows
in front face the fish-pond which lies just beneath them, and is
pleasant both to eye and ear, as the water falls from a considerable
elevation and glistens white as it is caught in the marble basin. This
bed-chamber is beautifully warm even in winter, for it is flooded with
an abundance of sunshine.

The heating chamber for the bath adjoins it, and on a cloudy day we turn
in steam to take the place of the sun's warmth. Next comes a roomy and
cheerful undressing room for the bath, from which you pass into a cool
chamber containing a large and shady swimming bath. If you prefer more
room or warmer water to swim in, there is a pond in the court with a
well adjoining it, from which you can make the water colder when you are
tired of the warm. Adjoining the cold bath is one of medium warmth, for
the sun shines lavishly upon it, but not so much as upon the hot bath
which is built farther out. There are three sets of steps leading to
it, two exposed to the sun, and the third out of the sun though quite as
light. Above the dressing-room is a ball court where various kinds of
exercise can be taken, and a number of games can be played at once. Not
far from the bath-room is a staircase leading to a covered passage, at
the head of which are three rooms, one looking out upon the courtyard
with the four plane-trees, the second upon the meadow, and the third
upon the vineyards, so each therefore enjoys a different view. At the
end of the passage is a bed-chamber constructed out of the passage
itself, which looks out upon the riding-course, the vineyards, and the
mountains. Connected with it is another bed-chamber open to the sun,
and especially so in winter time. Leading out of this is an apartment
which adjoins the riding-course of the villa.

Such is the appearance and the use to which the front of my house is
put. At the side is a raised covered gallery, which seems not so much
to look out upon the vineyards as to touch them; in the middle is a
dining-room which gets the invigorating breezes from the valleys of the
Apennines, while at the other side, through the spacious windows and the
folding doors, you seem to be close upon the vineyards again with the
gallery between. On the side of the room where there are no windows is
a private winding staircase by which the servants bring up the
requisites for a meal. At the end of the gallery is a bed-chamber, and
the gallery itself affords as pleasant a prospect therefrom as the
vineyards. Underneath runs a sort of subterranean gallery, which in
summer time remains perfectly cool, and as it has sufficient air within
it, it neither admits any from without nor needs any. Next to both
these galleries the portico commences where the dining-room ends, and
this is cold before mid-day, and summery when the sun has reached his
zenith. This gives the approach to two apartments, one of which
contains four beds and the other three, and they are bathed in sunshine
or steeped in shadow, according to the position of the sun.

But though the arrangements of the house itself are charming, they are
far and away surpassed by the riding-course. It is quite open in the
centre, and the moment you enter your eye ranges over the whole of it.
Around its borders are plane-trees clothed with ivy, and so while the
foliage at the top belongs to the trees themselves, that on the lower
parts belongs to the ivy, which creeps along the trunk and branches, and
spreading across to the neighbouring trees, joins them together.
Between the plane-trees are box shrubs, and on the farther side of the
shrubs is a ring of laurels which mingle their shade with that of the
plane-trees. At the far end, the straight boundary of the riding-course
is curved into semicircular form, which quite changes its appearance.
It is enclosed and covered with cypress-trees, the deeper shade of which
makes it darker and gloomier than at the sides, but the inner circles--
for there are more than one--are quite open to the sunshine. Even roses
grow there, and the warmth of the sun is delightful as a change from the
cool of the shade. When you come to the end of these various winding
alleys, the boundary again runs straight, or should I say boundaries,
for there are a number of paths with box shrubs between them. In places
there are grass plots intervening, in others box shrubs, which are
trimmed to a great variety of patterns, some of them being cut into
letters forming my name as owner and that of the gardener. Here and
there are small pyramids and apple-trees, and now and then in the midst
of all this graceful artificial work you suddenly come upon what looks
like a real bit of the country planted there. The intervening space is
beautified on both sides with dwarf plane-trees; beyond these is the
acanthus-tree that is supple and flexible to the hand, and there are
more boxwood figures and names.

At the upper end is a couch of white marble covered with a vine, the
latter being supported by four small pillars of Carystian marble. Jets
of water flow from the couch through small pipes and look as if they
were forced out by the weight of persons reclining thereon, and the
water is caught in a stone cistern and then retained in a graceful
marble basin, regulated by pipes out of sight, so that the basin, while
always full, never overflows. The heavier dishes and plates are placed
at the side of the basin when I dine there, but the lighter ones, formed
into the shapes of little boats and birds, float on the surface and
travel round and round. Facing this is a fountain which receives back
the water it expels, for the water is thrown up to a considerable height
and then falls down again, and the pipes that perform the two processes
are connected. Directly opposite the couch is a bed-chamber, and each
lends a grace to the other. It is formed of glistening marble, and
through the projecting folding doors you pass at once among the foliage,
while both from the upper and lower windows you look out upon the same
green picture. Within is a little cabinet which seems to belong at once
to the same and yet another bed-chamber. This contains a bed and it has
windows on every side, yet the shade is so thick without that but little
light enters, for a wonderfully luxuriant vine has climbed up to the
roof and covers the whole building. You can fancy you are in a grove as
you lie there, only that you do not feel the rain as you do among trees.
Here too a fountain rises and immediately loses itself underground.
There are a number of marble chairs placed up and down, which are as
restful for persons tired with walking as the bed-chamber itself. Near
these chairs are little fountains, and throughout the whole riding-
course you hear the murmur of tiny streams carried through pipes, which
run wherever you please to direct them. These are used to water the
shrubs, sometimes in one part, sometimes in another, and at other times
all are watered together.

I should long since have been afraid of boring you, had I not set out in
this letter to take you with me round every corner of my estate. For I
am not at all apprehensive that you will find it tedious to read about a
place which certainly would not tire you to look at, especially as you
can get a little rest whenever you desire, and can sit down, so to
speak, by laying down the letter. Moreover, I have been indulging my
affection for the place, for I am greatly attached to anything that is
mainly the work of my own hands or that some one else has begun and I
have taken up. In short--for there is no reason is there? why I should
not be frank with you, whether my judgments are sound or unsound--I
consider that it is the first duty of a writer to select the title of
his work and constantly ask himself what he has begun to write about.
He may be sure that so long as he keeps to his subject-matter he will
not be tedious, but that he will bore his readers to distraction if he
starts dragging in extraneous matter to make weight. Observe the length
with which Homer describes the arms of Achilles, and Virgil the arms of
Aeneas--yet in both cases the description seems short, because the
author only carries out what he intended to. Observe how Aratus hunts
up and brings together even the tiniest stars--yet he does not exceed
due limits. For his description is not an excursus, but the end and aim
of the whole work. It is the same with myself, if I may compare my
lowly efforts with their great ones. I have been trying to give you a
bird's eye view of the whole of my villa, and if I have introduced no
extraneous matter and have never wandered off my subject, it is not the
letter containing the description which is to be considered of excessive
size, but rather the villa which has been described.

However, let me get back to the point I started from, lest I give you an
opportunity of justly condemning me by my own law, by not pursuing this
digression any farther. I have explained to you why I prefer my Tuscan
house to my other places at Tusculum, Tibur and Praeneste. For in
addition to all the beauties I have described above, my repose here is
more profound and more comfortable, and therefore all the freer from
anxiety. There is no necessity to don the toga, no neighbour ever calls
to drag me out; everything is placid and quiet; and this peace adds to
the healthiness of the place, by giving it, so to speak, a purer sky and
a more liquid air. I enjoy better health both in mind and body here
than anywhere else, for I exercise the former by study and the latter by
hunting. Besides, there is no place where my household keep in better
trim, and up to the present I have not lost a single one of all whom I
brought with me. I hope Heaven will forgive the boast, and that the
gods will continue my happiness to me and preserve this place in all its
beauty. Farewell.


It is beyond question that a community cannot be appointed heir and
cannot take a share of an inheritance before the general distribution of
the estate. None the less, Saturninus, who left us his heirs,
bequeathed a fourth share to our community of Comum, and then, in lieu
of that fourth share, assigned them permission to take 400,000 sesterces
before the division of the estate. As a matter of strict law, this is
null and void, but if you only look at the intentions of the deceased,
it is quite sound and valid. I don't know what the lawyers will think
of what I am going to say, but to me the wishes of the deceased seem
worthy of more consideration than the letter of the law, especially as
regards the sum which he wished to go to our common birthplace.
Moreover, I, who gave 1,600,000 sesterces our of my own money to my
native place, am not the man to refuse it a little more than a third
part of 400,000 sesterces which have come to me by a lucky windfall. I
know that you too will not refuse to fall in with my views, as your
affection for the same community is that of a thoroughly loyal citizen.
I shall be glad, therefore, if at the next meeting of the decurions, you
will lay before them the state of the law, and I hope you will do so
briefly and modestly. Then add that we make them an offer of the
400,000 sesterces, in accordance with the wishes of Saturninus. But be
sure to point out that the munificence and generosity are his, and that
all we are doing is to obey his wishes. I have refrained from writing
in a public manner on this business, firstly, because I knew very well
that our friendship was such, and that your judgment was so ripe, that
you could and ought to act for me as well as for yourself, and then
again I was afraid that I might not preserve in a letter that exact mean
which you will have no difficulty in preserving in a speech. For a
man's expression, his gestures, and even the tones of his voice help to
indicate the precise meaning of his words, while a letter, which is
deprived of all these advantages, is exposed to the malignity of those
who put upon it what interpretation they choose. Farewell.


You urge me to write history, nor are you the first to do so. Many
others have often given me the same advice, and I am quite willing to
follow it, not because I feel confident that I should succeed in so
doing--for it would be presumption to think so until one had tried--but
because it seems to me a very proper thing not to let people be
forgotten whose fame ought never to die, and to perpetuate the glories
of others together with one's own. Personally, I confess that there is
nothing on which I have set my heart so much as to win a lasting
reputation, and the ambition is a worthy one for any man, especially for
one who is not conscious of having committed any wrong and has no cause
to fear being remembered by posterity. Hence it is that both day and
night I scheme to find a way "to raise myself above the ordinary dull
level": my ambition goes no farther than that, for it is quite beyond
my dreams "that my victorious name should pass from mouth to mouth."
"And yet--!"--but I am quite satisfied with the fame which history alone
seems to promise me. For one reaps but a small reward from oratory and
poetry, unless our eloquence is really first-class, while history seems
to charm people in whatever style it is written. For men are naturally
curious; they are delighted even by the baldest relation of facts, and
so we see them carried away even by little stories and anecdotes.

Again, there is a precedent in my own family which impels me towards
writing history. My uncle, who was also my father by adoption, was a
historian of the most scrupulous type, and I find all wise men agree
that one can do nothing better than follow in the footsteps of one's
ancestors, provided that they have gone in the right path themselves.
Why, then, do I hesitate? For this reason, that I have delivered a
number of pleadings of serious importance, and it is my intention to
revise them carefully--though my hopes of fame from them are only
slight--lest, in spite of all the trouble they have given me, they
should perish with me, just for want of receiving the last polishing and
additional touches. For if you have a view to what posterity will say,
all that is not absolutely finished must be classed as incomplete
matter. You will say: "Yes, but you can touch up your pleadings and
compose history at the same time." I wish I could, but each is so great
a task that I should think I had done very well to have finished either.

I began to plead in the Forum in my nineteenth year, and it is only just
now that I begin to see darkly what an orator ought to be. What would
happen if I were to take on a new task in addition to this one? Oratory
and history have many things in common, but they also differ greatly in
the points that seem common to both. There is narrative in both, but of
a different type; the humblest, meanest and most common-place subjects
suit the one; the other requires research, splendour, and dignity. In
the one you may describe the bones, muscles, and nerves of the body, in
the other brawny parts and flowing manes. In oratory one wants force,
invective, sustained attack; in history the charm is obtained by
copiousness and agreeableness, even by sweetness of style. Lastly, the
words used, the forms of speech, and the construction of the sentences
are different. For, as Thucydides remarks, it makes all the difference
whether the composition is to be a possession for all time or a
declamation for the moment; oratory has to do with the latter, history
with the former.

Hence it is that I do not feel tempted to hopelessly jumble together two
dissimilar styles which differ from one another just because of their
great importance, and I am afraid I should become bewildered by such a
terrible medley and write in the one style just where I ought to be
employing the other. For the meantime, therefore, to use the language
of the courts, I ask your gracious permission to go on with my pleading.
However, do you be good enough even now to consider the period which it
would be best for me to tackle. Shall it be a period of ancient history
which others have dealt with before me? If so, the materials are all
ready to hand, but the putting them together would be a heavy task. On
the other hand, if I choose a modern period which has not been dealt
with, I shall get but small thanks and am bound to give serious offence.
For, besides the fact that the general standard of morality is so lax
that there is much more to censure than to praise, you are sure to be
called niggardly if you praise and too censorious if you censure, though
you may have been lavish of appreciation and scrupulously guarded in
reproach. However, these considerations do not stay me, for I have the
courage of my convictions. I only beg of you to prepare the way for me
in the direction you urge me to take, and choose a subject for me, so
that, when I am at length ready to take pen in hand, no other
overpowering reason may crop up to make me hesitate and delay my
purpose. Farewell.


I had gone down to the basilica of Julius to listen to the speeches of
the counsel to whom I had to reply from the last postponement. The
judges were in their places; the decemvirs had arrived; the advocates
were moving to and fro, and then came a long silence, broken at last by
a message from the praetor. The centumvirs were dismissed and the
hearing was put off, at which I was glad, for I am never so well
prepared that I am not pleased at having extra time given me. The
postponement was due to Nepos, the praetor-designate, who hears cases
with the most scrupulous attention to legal forms. He had issued a
short edict warning both plaintiffs and defendants that he would
strictly carry out the decree of the Senate. Attached to the edict was
a copy of the decree, which provided "that all persons engaged in any
lawsuit are hereby ordered to take an oath before their cases are heard,
that they have neither given nor promised any sum to their advocates,
nor have entered into any contract to pay them for their advocacy." In
these words and other long sentences as well, advocates were forbidden
to sell their services and litigants to buy them, although, when a suit
is over, the latter are allowed to offer their counsel a sum not
exceeding ten thousand sesterces. The praetor, who was presiding over
the Court of the Centumviri, was embarrassed by this decree of Nepos and
gave us an unexpected holiday, while he made up his mind whether or not
he should follow the example set him. Meanwhile, the whole town is
discussing the edict of Nepos, some favourably, others adversely. Many
people are saying: "Well, we have found a man to set the crooked
straight. But have there been no praetors before Nepos, and who is
Nepos that he should mend our public morals?" On the other hand, a
number of people argue: "He has acted quite rightly. He has mastered
the laws before entering office, he has read the decrees of the Senate,
he is putting a stop to a disgraceful system of bargaining, and he will
not allow a most honourable profession to be bought and sold in a
scandalous way." That is how people are talking everywhere, and there
will be no majority for one side or the other till it is known how the
matter will end. It is very deplorable, but it is the accepted rule
that good or bad counsels are approved or condemned according to whether
they turn out well or badly. The result is that we find the self-same
deed ascribed sometimes to zeal, sometimes to vanity, and even to love
of liberty and downright madness. Farewell.


Do, I beg of you, fulfil the promise I made in my verses when I pledged
my word that our common friends should see your compositions. People
are asking for them every day, clamouring for them even, and, if you are
not careful, you may find yourself served with a writ to publish them.
I myself am very slow to make up my mind to publish, but you are far
more of a slow-coach than even I am. So either decide at once, or take
care that I do not drag those books of yours from you by the lash of my
satire, as I have failed to coax them out by my hendecasyllabics. The
work is absolutely finished, and if you polish it any more you will only
impair it without making it shine the more brightly. Do let me see your
name on the title page; do let me hear that the volumes of my friend
Tranquillus are being copied, read, and sold. It is only fair,
considering the strength of our attachment, that you should afford me
the same gratification that I have afforded you. Farewell.


I have received your letter, from which I gather that you have dedicated
a most beautiful portico in the joint names of yourself and your son,
and that on the following day you promised a sum of money for the
decoration of the gates, so as to signalise the completion of your
earlier act of generosity by immediately beginning a new one. I am
delighted to hear it, in the first place, on account of the reputation
you will secure, of which some part will extend to me, owing to the
closeness of our friendship; secondly, because I see that the name of my
father-in-law will be perpetuated by these choice works; and, lastly,
because our country is in such a flourishing state. Pleasant as it is
to see her honoured by any one, it is trebly gratifying when the honour
is paid by yourself. It only remains for me to pray Heaven to confirm
you in this habit of mind, and bestow upon you long length of years.
For I venture to prophesy that, when your latest promise is complete,
you will set about something else. When once a man's generosity has
been aroused it knows not where to stop, for the more it is practised
the more beautiful it becomes in the eyes of the generous. Farewell.


Before giving a recital of a little speech which I had some thoughts of
publishing, I called a few friends to hear it, so as to put me on my
mettle, but not many, so that I might get candid criticism. For there
are two reasons why I give these recitals, one that I may screw myself
up to the proper pitch by their anxiety that I should do myself justice,
and the other that they may correct me if I happen to make a mistake and
do not notice it because the blunder is my own. I got what I wanted and
I found some friends who gave me their advice freely; while I myself
noticed certain passages which required correction. I have revised the
speech which I am sending you. You will see what the subject is from
the title, and the speech itself will explain all other points. It
ought now to become so familiar to people as to be understood without
any preface. But I trust that you will write and tell me what you think
of it as a whole as well as in parts, for I shall be the more careful to
suppress it, or the more determined to publish it, according as your
critical judgment inclines one way or the other. Farewell.


In compliance with your request--and the promise I made to comply in
case you asked me--I will write and tell you the upshot of the demand of
Nepos in the matter of Tuscilius Nominatus. Nominatus was brought into
the Senate, and he pleaded his own case. There was no one to accuse
him, for the legates of the Vicetini, so far from making matters
difficult for him, smoothed his path. The substance of his defence was
that in his conduct of the case he had failed not in loyalty but in
resolution, that he had come down with the intention of pleading and had
been seen in the Senate-house, but had been discouraged by what his
friends told him in conversation, and so had left the chamber. He had
been advised, he said, not to oppose, especially in the Senate, a member
of that body who was now fighting hard not so much to get leave to
establish a market on his estate, as to maintain his influence,
reputation, and position, and he was warned that if he did not give way
he would come in for greater ill-will than had been recently shown him.
It was true that he had been hissed as he left the chamber on the
previous hearing, but only by a few people. He spoke in a very
appealing way and shed a number of tears, and, throughout his pleading,
he used his undoubted abilities as a speaker to make it seem that he was
not so much defending his conduct as asking pardon for it, which was
certainly the safest and best course for him to adopt.

He was acquitted on the motion of the consul-designate, Afranius Dexter,
whose speech may be summarised as follows. He argued that Nominatus
would have done much better if he had gone through with the cause of the
Vicetini with the same resolution with which he had undertaken it, but
that since his conduct, though blameworthy, was not fraudulent, and he
had not been convicted of having committed any crime, he had better be
acquitted on the understanding that he should return to the Vicetini the
fees he had received from them. All present agreed, with the exception
of Fabius Aper, who proposed that Nominatus should be disbarred for the
term of five years, and he continued firmly in that opinion though he
drew no one over to side with him. He even produced the law under which
the meeting of the Senate had been convened, and forced Dexter, who had
been the first to propose the resolution opposed to his, to swear that
his proposal was for the good of the State. Though this demand was
perfectly legal, certain members loudly protested against it, on the
ground that Aper seemed to be accusing Dexter of showing undue favour to
Nominatus. But before any further speeches were made to the motion,
Nigrinus, a tribune of the plebs, read out a learned and weighty
remonstrance in which he complained that counsel were bought and sold,
that they would sell their clients' cases, that they conspired together
to make litigation, and that, instead of being satisfied with fame, they
drew large and fixed amounts at the expense of citizens. He recited the
heads of various laws, he recalled to their memories certain decrees of
the Senate, and at last proposed that, as the laws and the decrees of
the Senate were treated as a dead letter, they should petition their
excellent Emperor to find a remedy for such a scandal.

A few days elapsed, and then the Emperor issued an edict which was at
once moderate and severe. You will be able to read the text of it, for
it appears in the official register. Imagine how delighted I am that I
have always made a point of refusing for my services as counsel not only
to enter into any understanding to receive presents and gifts in any
shape, but even friendly acknowledgments! We ought indeed to refrain
from doing anything that is not quite honourable, not because it is
forbidden, but because we should be ashamed to do it; still it is
gratifying to see a custom which you have never allowed yourself to
follow publicly forbidden. Very likely--and in fact there is no doubt
on the point--I shall reap fewer praises and my reputation will not
shine as brightly when all the members of my profession find themselves
compelled to behave as I did quite of my own free will. In the meantime
I enjoy the pleasure of hearing some of my friends say that I must have
foreseen what was coming, while others banter me by declaring that the
new edict has been designed to put a stop to my plunder and greed.


I had already retired to my township when the news was brought to me
that Cornutus Tertullus had accepted the curatorship of the Aemilian
Way. I cannot tell you how delighted I am, both for his own sake and
for mine. I am pleased for his sake, because, though he is
unquestionably entirely void of all ambitious aspirations, he cannot but
be gratified at being offered a post without seeking it; and I am
pleased on my own account, because I am all the more satisfied with my
own employment now that Cornutus has had a position of equal eminence
given to him. For it is just as gratifying to be placed on an equality
with worthy citizens as to receive a step up in one's official position.
And where is there a better man than Cornutus, or a man of more noble
life? Where will you find one who follows more closely the ancient
pattern in all that is praiseworthy? I know his virtues not by hearsay
alone, though he enjoys a richly deserved reputation everywhere, but
from a personal experience extending over many years.

We both of us entertain an affectionate regard, and have done for years,
for all the worthy persons of both sexes whom our age has produced, and
this community of friendships has thrown us together into the most
intimate relations. Another link in the chain has been the closeness of
our public connection. As you know, he was my colleague as prefect of
the Treasury--thus realising, so to speak, my dearest wish--and again he
was associated with me in the consulship. It was there that I obtained
my clearest insight into the character and real greatness of the man,
when I followed his judgment as a magistrate and reverenced him as a
parent, while my veneration was inspired not so much by the ripeness of
his years as by the ripeness of his general character. Hence it is that
I congratulate both him and myself, for public reasons quite as much as
for personal ones, in that now at last a virtuous life leads a man not
to peril, as it used to do, but to public honours.

I should let my pen run on for ever if I were to give my joy a free
course, so I will turn back to tell you how I was engaged when the
messenger came and found me. I was with my wife's grandfather and her
aunt, and in the company of friends I had long wished to see. I was
going the round of the estate, hearing no end of complaints from my
tenants, reading over with an unwilling eye and in a cursory fashion the
accounts--for I have been consecrating my energies to papers and books
of quite a different style--and I had even begun to make preparations
for my journey. For I am rather pressed owing to the shortness of my
leave, and I am reminded of my own public duties by hearing of those
which have been entrusted to Cornutus. I hope that your Campanian villa
may spare you about the same time, lest, when I return to town, I should
lose a single day of your company. Farewell.


It is when I try to equal your verses that I most fully appreciate how
excellent they are. For just as painters rarely succeed in putting a
perfectly beautiful face on their canvas without doing injustice to the
original, so, though I slave hard with your verses as my model, I always
fall short. Let me urge you then to publish as many as possible, so
good that every one will burn to imitate them, and yet no one, or but
very few, will succeed in the attempt. Farewell.


I am writing to you in great distress. The younger daughter of your
friend Fundanus is dead, and I never saw a girl of a brighter and more
lovable disposition, nor one who better deserved length of days or even
to live for ever. She had hardly completed her fourteenth year, yet she
possessed the prudence of old age and the sedateness of a matron, with
the sweetness of a child and the modesty of a maiden. How she used to
cling round her father's neck! How tenderly and modestly she embraced
us who were her father's friends! Her nurses, her teachers and tutors,
how well she loved them, each according to his station! With what
application and quickness she used to read, while her amusements were
never carried to excess and never overstepped the mark. What
resignation, patience and fortitude she showed during her last illness!
She obeyed her doctor's orders, she cheered her sister and father, and
when her body had lost all its strength, she kept herself alive by the
vigour of her mind. This never failed her right up to the end, nor was
it broken down by her long illness or by the fear of death, and this has
made us miss her all the more severely and made our sorrow all the
heavier to bear. What a sad, heart-rending funeral it was! The moment
of her death seemed even more cruel than death itself, for she had just
been betrothed to a youth of splendid character; the day of the wedding
had been decided upon, and we had already been summoned to attend it.
Think into what terrible grief our joy was changed! I really cannot
tell you in words how acutely I felt it when I heard Fundanus himself,
for one sorrow always leads on to other bitter sorrows--giving the order
that the money he had intended to lay out upon wedding raiment, pearls
and gems, should be spent upon incense, unguents and scents.

He is, it is true, a man of learning and wisdom, who from early years
has devoted himself to the deeper studies and the nobler arts, but, at a
moment like this, all the philosophy he has ever heard from others or
uttered himself is put on one side. All virtues but one are disregarded
for the time being--he can only think of parental love. You will
forgive and even praise him for this, if you consider the loss he has
suffered. For he has lost a daughter who reflected in herself, not only
his face and feature, but his character, and one who was the living
image of her father in every particular. If you send him a letter in
the midst of this rightful grief of his, be careful to use words of
solace which will not flay the heart or deal roughly with his sorrow,
but which will soothe and ease his pain. The time which has elapsed
will make him the more likely to admit your words of consolation, for,
just as a raw wound first shrinks from the touch of the doctor's hand,
then bears it without flinching and actually welcomes it, so with mental
anguish we reject and fly from consolation when the pain is fresh, then
after a time we look for it and find relief in its soothing application.


I know what an interest you take in the liberal arts, and how delighted
you are when young men of rank do anything worthy of their ancestry.
That is why I am losing no time to tell you that to-day I made one of
the audience of Calpurnius Piso. He was reading his poem on the Legends
of the Stars, and it was a learned and very excellent composition. It
was written in fluent, graceful, and smooth elegiacs, and rose even to
lofty heights as occasion demanded. The style was cleverly varied, in
some places it soared, in others it was subdued; passing from the grand
to the commonplace, from thinness to richness, and from lively to
severe, and in each case with consummate skill. The sweetness of his
voice lent it an additional charm, and his modesty made even his voice
the sweeter, while his blushes and his nervousness, which were very
plain to see, still further set off the reading. I don't know why, but
diffidence becomes a man of letters much more than over-confidence.
However, to cut the story short,--though I would gladly say more,
because such performances are all the more charming when given by a
young man, and all the rarer when he is of noble birth,--as soon as the
reading was concluded, I embraced the youth with great cordiality, and
by showering praises upon him--which are always the best incentive when
giving advice--I urged him to go on as he had begun, and hold out to his
descendants the light which his own ancestors had held out to him. I
congratulated his excellent mother and also his brother, who made one of
the audience, and indeed achieved as much reputation for brotherly
feeling as his brother Calpurnius did for his eloquence, for while the
latter was reading everybody noticed first the nervous look on the
brother's face, and then the expression of joy. I pray Heaven that I
may often have such news for you, for I am very partial to the age I
live in, and I hope that it may not prove barren and worthless. I am
really most anxious that our young men of rank should have some other
beautiful objects in their houses besides the busts of their ancestors,
and it seems to me that the latter tacitly approve and encourage these
two young men, and even recognise them as their true descendants, which
is in itself a sufficiently high compliment to both. Farewell.


As all is well with you, all is well with me. You have your wife with
you, and your son; you enjoy your sea-view, your fountains, greenery,
estate, and your charming villa. I cannot doubt that the latter is most
charming, inasmuch as it was the home of the man who was even happier
there than when he became the happiest man on earth. I am staying at my
Tuscan house; I hunt and I study, sometimes in turns, sometimes both
together, and I cannot as yet tell you whether I find it more difficult
to catch anything or to compose anything. Farewell.


I notice how kindly you treat your servants, so I will be quite frank
with you, and tell you with what indulgence I treat mine. I always bear
in mind that phrase in Homer, "like a father mild," and our own Latin
phrase, "father of his family." Even if I had naturally been of a
harsher and less genial disposition, the weakness of my freedman Zosimus
would melt my harshness, for one has to show him greater kindness just
in proportion as he needs it more at his time of life. He is an honest
fellow, devoted to his duties and well-educated, but his chief
accomplishment and, so to speak, his particular recommendation is his
skill in playing comedy, in which he is really admirable. For his
delivery is sharp, intelligent, to the point, and even graceful, and he
plays the harp much better than is usually expected from a comedian. He
is also so clever in reading speeches, history and poetry, that you
would fancy he had never studied anything else. I have gone into all
this detail to show you how many services this one man can render me,
and how pleasant they are. Moreover, I have long entertained a great
regard for him, which has been increased by his serious ill-health, for
Nature has so arranged it that nothing fires and stimulates our
affection so much as the fear of losing the object of it, and I have on
more than one occasion been afraid of losing Zosimus.

Some years since, while he was reciting with great earnestness and fire,
he spat blood, and I sent him on that account to Egypt, from which
country he recently returned with his health restored. Then, after
severely taxing his voice for days together, he was warned of his old
malady by a slight cough, and once more brought up some blood. So I
have decided to send him to the farm which you own at Forum Julii, for I
have often heard you say that the air there is healthy, and the milk
peculiarly beneficial to complaints of this kind. I should be glad,
therefore, if you will write to your people to take him in at the house
and give him lodging, and accommodate him with anything he may require
at his expense. His needs will be very small, for he is so sparing and
abstemious that his frugality leads him to deny himself, not only
dainties, but even that which is necessary for his weak health. When he
sets out, I will give him sufficient travelling money for one who is
going to your part of the country. Farewell.


Within a short time of their impeaching Julius Bassus the Bithynians
brought a second action, this time against Rufus Varenus, their
proconsul, the very man whom, in their action against Bassus, they had
received permission, at their own request, to retain as their advocate.
On being brought into the Senate they applied for a commission to be
appointed to investigate their charges, and Varenus sought leave to be
allowed to bring witnesses from the province in his defence. To this
the Bithynians objected, and the matter came to a debate. I acted on
behalf of Varenus, and my pleading was not without good results. I am
justified in saying this, as my written speech will show whether I spoke
well or badly. For in delivering a speech chance has a controlling
influence on success or failure. A speech either gains or loses a good
deal according to the memory, voice, and gesture of the speaker, and
even the time taken in delivery, to say nothing of the popularity or
unpopularity of the accused; whereas a written speech profits nothing
from these advantages, loses nothing by these disadvantages, and is
subject neither to lucky nor unlucky accidents.

Fonteius Magnus, one of the Bithynians, replied to me at great length,
but he made very few points. Like most of the Greeks, he mistakes
volubility for fulness of treatment, and they pour forth in a single
breath a perfect torrent of long-winded and frigid periods. Julius
Candidus rather wittily says apropos of this that eloquence is one thing
and loquacity another. For there have been only one or two people who
can be described as eloquent--not one indeed if Marcus Antonius is to be
believed,--but scores of persons possess what Candidus calls loquacity,
and loquacity and impudence usually go together. On the following day,
Homullus spoke on behalf of Varenus, and delivered a skilful, powerful,
and polished speech, while Nigrinus replied with terseness, dignity, and
elegance. Acilius Rufus, the consul-designate, proposed that the
Commission of Enquiry asked for by the Bithynians should be allowed, and
said not a word about the request of Varenus, which was tantamount to
proposing that it should be negatived. Cornelius Priscus, the consular,
moved that the requests of both the accusers and the accused should be
granted, and he carried a majority with him. The point we asked for was
not within the four corners of the law and was not quite covered by
precedent, but none the less it was entirely reasonable, though why it
was reasonable I shall not tell you in this letter, in order to make you
ask for a copy of my pleading. For if it be true, as Homer says, that
"men always prize the song the most which rings newest in their ears," I
must beware lest by allowing myself to go chattering on in this letter I
destroy all the charm of novelty in that little speech of mine, which is
the main thing it has to commend itself to you. Farewell.


Your letter has aroused in me conflicting emotions, for part of the news
it contained made me glad, and part made me sorrowful. I was glad to
hear that you were detained in town, for though you say it was much
against your will, it was not against mine, especially as you promise
that you will give a reading as soon as I arrive. So I thank you for
waiting my coming. The bad news was that Julius Valens is lying
seriously ill, although even this should not sadden us, if we only think
of what is best for him, for it will be much better for him to obtain as
speedy a release as possible from a disease which is past all cure. No,
the real sad news, or rather heartrending news is that Julius Avitus
died on ship-board while returning from his quaestorship, miles away
from the brother who was devoted to him, and from his mother and
sisters. Those are circumstances which do not affect him now that he is
dead, but they did affect him on his death-bed, and they are a great
trouble to his surviving relatives, especially as he was a young man of
such promise and would have reached the highest offices in the State if
only his qualities had had time to ripen. And now he has been cut down
in the very flower of manhood! What a keen and enthusiastic student he
was, how well read, and what a number of essays he had made in writing!
Yet all have perished with him and left no fruit for posterity to reap.
But it is useless for me to indulge my sorrow, for if once one gives it
free play, even the slightest occasions for grief are magnified into
crushing blows. I will write no more, and so check the tears which this
letter has made to flow. Farewell.


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