Translated by J.B.Firth (1900) - a few words and phrases have been modified.
See key to translations for an explanation of the format. Click on the L symbols to go the Latin text of each letter.
CONTENTS: 1 Septicius 2 Calvisius 3 Sparsus 4 Caninius 5 Geminus 6 Montanus 7 Tacitus 8 Romanus 9 Ursus 10 Fabatus 11 Hispulla 12 Minicianus 13 Genialis 14 Ariston 15 Junior 16 Paternus 17 Macrinus 18 Rufinus 19 Maximus 20 Gallus 21 Arrianus 22 Geminus 23 Marcellinus 24 Maximus
 L To Septicius
I travelled here comfortably enough except for the fact that certain of my servants have suffered more or less severely through the intense heat. Eucolpus, indeed, one of my readers, and a favourite of mine whether my mood be grave or gay, has found the dust very trying to his throat, and has brought up blood. It will be a sad blow to him and a bitter disappointment to me if he becomes incapacitated for study, seeing that study is his chief accomplishment. Who will read my books and take such an interest in them as he used to do? Where shall I find another whose reading was so pleasant to listen to ? However, the gods hold out hopes of better things. He no longer brings up blood, and his pain is now relieved. Moreover, he is very careful of himself, we are all solicitous for his welfare, and the doctors lake great pains. Then, too, the health-giving properties of the climate here, the retirement and the repose, promise not only enjoyment but restoration to health. Farewell.
 L To Calvisius.
Other people go to their estates to return richer than they went ; I go to come back the poorer. I had sold my vintage to the dealers who bid against one another for the purchase, tempted by the prices quoted at the time and the prices which they thought would be quoted later on. However, their expectations were disappointed. It would have been a simple matter to make certain remissions to all in equal proportions, but it would hardly have met the justice of the case, for it seems to me to be an honourable man's first duty to practise a strict rule of justice, both at home and out-of-doors, in small things as well as in great, and in dealing with one's own as with other people's property. For if, as the Stoics say, all offences are equally serious, all merits should be equally consistent. * Consequently, "in order that no one should go away without a present from me," ** I remitted to each an eighth part of the price at which he had bought, and then I made separate additional remissions for those who had been the largest buyers, inasmuch as they had benefited me more than the others had, and had themselves sustained the greater loss. So to those who had paid more than 10,000 sesterces for their share, I remitted a tenth of the sum paid above 10,000 sesterces, in addition to the other remission of an eighth of the total sum which I had made to all indiscriminately.
I am afraid I have not expressed this quite clearly, so I will explain my system more fully. Those, for example, who had purchased 15,000 sesterces' worth of the vintage had remitted to them an eighth of the 15,000 and a tenth of 15,000. Besides this, it struck me that some had actually paid over a considerable share of the purchase money, while others had only paid a fraction, and others none at all, and I thought it was not fair to deal as generously in the matter of remission with the latter as with the former, and place those who had loyally paid up on a level with those who had not. So to those who had paid I remitted a further tenth of the sums paid over. By so doing I made a neat recognition of my acknowledgment of each man's honourable conduct on the old deal, and I also offered them all a bait to make future deals with me, and not only purchase, but pay ready money. This reasonable or generous - whichever you like to call it - conduct on my part has put me to considerable expense, but it was well worth it, for throughout the entire district people are warmly approving this new method of making remissions. As for those whom I graded and classified, without, so to speak, lumping them all together, the more honourable and upright they were, the more devoted to me were they on leaving, since they had discovered that I was not one of those people who "hold in equal honour the good and the bad." † Farewell.
(*) i.e., we should practice virtuous actions in small as well as great things.
(**) Virgil, Aeneid v.305.
(†) Homer, Iliad ix.319.
 L To Sparsus.
You hint to me that the book I sent you last pleases you more than any of my previous works. A very learned friend of mine is of precisely the same opinion, and that makes me think that neither of you is mistaken, for it is hardly possible that you both are wrong. Then again, I like to flatter myself you are right, for it is my wish that people should think my last book is always the most perfect, and for that reason I even now prefer - in comparison with the book I sent you - the speech which I lately published, and which I shall send on to you as soon as I find a trustworthy messenger. I have raised your expectations to such a pitch that I am afraid the speech will disappoint you when you pick it up to read, but in the meantime look out for its coming, as though it were sure to please you. After all, perhaps it will. Farewell.
 L To Caninius.
You are doing quite right to get together materials for a history of the Dacian War. For what subject is more fresh or affords more abundant materials and scope, or, in a word, is more fitted for poetic treatment? for, though it reads like a fable, it is strictly and literally true. You will describe how rivers have been turned into new channels, * how new bridges have been thrown over the rivers, how precipitous mountains have been levelled to form camping places, and how a king was driven from his palace and even from life itself and yet kept an undaunted front. Moreover, you will describe the two triumphs we have celebrated, one of which was the first ever won over that unconquered race, while the other was gained over its last death-struggle.
Notwithstanding your genius, which soars to its highest flights and shines most brilliantly when engaged on a noble theme, you will find a difficulty, and it will be a very great one, in the arduous and immense task of giving an adequate description of these mighty deeds. Moreover, additional trouble will be entailed by the fact that their barbarous and savage names - especially that of the king himself cannot be made to scan in Greek verse. But there is no difficulty which cannot be, if not entirely overcome, at any rate considerably lessened by art and diligence. Besides, if licence was given to Homer to contract, lengthen, and inflect the soft syllables of the Greek tongue to suit the easy flow of his verse, why should a similar licence be denied to you, especially as in your case it would arise not from any fastidious caprice, but from sheer necessity? Well, then, invoke the gods to your assistance - as you bards have prescriptive right to do - not forgetting that deity whose achievements, work, and counsels you are about to sing; let go the ropes, spread sail, and now if ever let the full tide of your genius carry you along ! Why should I not write to a poet in a poetic strain?
I only make one stipulation, and that is that you send on to me the very first part of the poem as soon as it is finished, or even before you have finished it, just as it is, fresh from your pen, in the rough, and, as it were, but newly born. You will tell me that a few patches cannot give the same pleasure as the finished whole, and that an incomplete work is not so satisfactory as a complete one. I know that, and so I shall only judge them as beginnings ; I shall regard them as dismembered limbs, and they will lie in my writing-desk waiting for your final corrections. Do let me have this additional pledge of your regard for me, which I should value above all others - that of being entrusted with secrets which you would not like anyone else to know. To put the matter in a nutshell - while it is possible that I should approve and applaud your writings the more if you send them to me in less haste and after deeper consideration, the more haste and want of consideration you show in forwarding them to me, the more I shall love and applaud you as a friend. Farewell.
(*) Dio Cassius ( lxviii.14 ) relates that Decebalus, the Dacian king, diverted the course of a river in order to bury some treasures under its bed, and then caused it to revert to its former channel. Trajan diverted it a second time and secured the treasure. The commentators suppose this event to be alluded to here.
 L To Geminus.
Our friend Macrinus * has received a terrible blow. He has lost his wife, who, even if she had lived in the good old days, would have been considered a most exemplary woman. They lived together for thirty-nine years with never a quarrel or disagreement. What deference she showed to her husband, though she herself deserved that the utmost deference should be shown to her ! How wonderfully she exemplified in herself in due proportion the special qualities of girlhood, womanhood, and age! ** It is true that Macrinus finds great solace in the thought that he enjoyed his treasure for so many years, though, now he has lost her, this only adds an additional pang to his grief, for the pain of being deprived of a source of pleasure grows more poignant the more we enjoy it. So I shall be intensely anxious for my dear friend until the time arrives when he finds himself able to endure some relaxation from his grief and grows reconciled to his wound, and nothing hastens that day so much as the sense of inevitability, lapse of time, and satiety of sorrow. Farewell.
(*) Minicius Macrinus, father of Minicus Acilianus, who was mentioned in letter i. 14.
(**) See, for instance, letter vi.26, where a man is said to have "the frankness of a boy, the pleasant manners of a youth, and the gravity of old age".
 L To Montanus.
You must by this time be aware from my last letter that I just lately noticed the monument erected to Pallas, which bore the following inscription :- "To him, because of his loyal services to his patrons, the senate decreed the honourable distinctions of praetorian rank together with five million sesterces, but he was content to lake the distinctions alone." * Subsequently I thought it worthwhile to look up the actual terms of the decree, and I found it couched in such exaggerated and fulsome language as to make even that pompous inscription on the monument look modest and humble by comparison. I won't speak of the ancient worthies, like the Scipios with their titles of Africanus, Achaicus and Numantinus; but if those who lived nearer our times, to go no farther back, like Marius, Sulla and Pompeius, were rolled into one, their eulogies would still fall short of those showered upon Pallas.
Well, then, am I to consider that those who decreed these extravagant praises were merely gratifying his vanity or were acting like abject slaves ? I should say the former if such a spirit were becoming to a senate, and the latter but that no one is such an abject slave as to stoop to such servilities. Are we to ascribe it then to a desire to curry favour with Pallas, or to an insane passion to get on in the world? But who is so utterly mad as to wish to get on in the world at the price of his own shame and the disgrace of his country, especially when living in a state where the only advantage of holding the most honourable position was that the holder had the privilege of taking precedence in the senate in singing the praises of Pallas? I say nothing of the fact of praetorian distinctions being offered to such a slave, for they were slaves who offered them; I say nothing of their desire that he should not only be urged, but even compelled, to wear the golden rings, ** for if a man of praetorian rank wore iron ones he would be lowering the dignity of the senate. These are trifling details which call for no remark, but what does demand notice is the fact that it was in the name of Pallas - and the senate-house has never yet been purged of the disgrace - it was in the name of Pallas, I repeat, that the senate returned thanks to Caesar for having made honourable mention to them of Pallas, and for having given them an opportunity of testifying to the good will they bore him. For what could be more honourable to the senate than that they should show that they were properly grateful to Pallas ?
Then come the following words:- "That Pallas, to whom every one heartily confesses his obligations, may enjoy the rewards for his matchless industry which he has so abundantly deserved." Why, you would fancy that the bounds of the Empire had been carried forward by him, or that he had safely brought back the armies of the State. But there is more to come:- "The senate and Roman people will never obtain a more welcome opportunity of showing their generosity than now that a chance is afforded them of assisting the financial position of the most trustworthy and scrupulously honest guardian of the Imperial finances that Emperor ever had." So this was the height of the senate's ambition, this was the passionate wish of the people, this was the most welcome opportunity for showing liberality - to be able to make Pallas richer by depleting the public purse ! Now listen to what follows: - "It was the wish of the senate to pass a decree giving him five million sesterces from the treasury, and the less inclined he was to hanker after such a sum, the more assiduously did the senate implore the Father of the State to compel Pallas to accede to the senate's wishes." The one thing they did not do was to address Pallas in their official capacity and beg him to give way to the senate's wishes, and make Caesar their advocate to induce him to reconsider his insolent refusal and get him not to scorn the five millions. But scorn them he did, and, considering the handsomeness of the offer and the fact that it was made by the State, his refusal showed greater arrogance than acceptance would have done, and he took the only step open to him to show it. Yet the senate with a tone of reproachfulness lauded even this refusal with eulogies. Here are the words:- "But whereas our most excellent Emperor and parent of the State has, at the request of Pallas, desired us to erase that portion of our decree which relates to the giving of five million sesterces from the treasury to Pallas, the senate hereby bears witness that their proposal to bestow that sum upon Pallas was freely undertaken as one of the list of honours worthily bestowed for loyal and faithful service, yet, at the same time, as on no occasion does the senate think it right to run counter to the Emperor's will, so now does it defer to his wishes."
Just picture to yourself Pallas interposing his veto, as it were, upon the senate's decree, setting a limit to the honours to be paid him, and refusing as too much the offer of five millions, after accepting, as though it were a lesser gift, the distinctions of praetorian rank ! Just imagine Caesar deferring to the entreaties, or rather to the imperious command of a freedman in the presence of the senate, for it is tantamount to a command when a freedman makes a request of his patron in the senate-house! Just think of the senate declaring that, in proposing to decree this five millions among the other distinctions, they acted of their own free will, and were doing no more than Pallas deserved. Fancy them declaring that they would have persevered with their determination, but for the deference due to the wishes of the emperor, which, on every conceivable occasion, ought to be law with them ! In other words, to prevent Pallas taking those five millions out of the treasury it was necessary that Pallas should be modest and the senate obsequious, and even then they would not have shown that obsequiousness if they had thought there could be an occasion on which it was lawful for them to refuse obedience. Do you think that was all? Just wait and hear what is yet to come, even worse than what went before: - "And whereas it is to the public interest that the benignity of the Emperor, which is ever ready to lavish praises and rewards on those who deserve them, should be published as widely as possible, and especially in those places where persons entrusted with the affairs of state may be incited to follow such an excellent example, and where the well-proved loyally and virtue of Pallas may stir up others to honourable rivalry, it is hereby decreed that the Emperor's speech delivered in full meeting of the senate on 23rd January last, and the decrees of the senate passed on that occasion, shall be engraved on a brazen tablet, and the tablet itself be set up near the statue of the divine Julius Caesar in full armour."
So it was not enough that the senate-house should be witness of such scandalous proceedings; no, a much more frequented site was chosen, where the disgraceful inscription could be read by those of our own and later generations. It was further resolved that all the honours that had been heaped upon this fastidious ex-slave should be engraved upon the tablet, both those which he had declined and those which he had accepted, as far as those who decreed them had it in their power to confer them. The praetorian distinctions of Pallas were chiselled and cut upon a memorial that will last for ages, as though they were ancient treaties or hallowed laws. Such was the - what shall I say? I am at a loss for a word - of the Emperor, of the senate, and of Pallas himself, as though they wished to be pilloried before the eyes of all men, Pallas as a monument of insolence, Caesar of complaisance, and the senate of servility. Nor did they feel a sense of shame in trying to veil their baseness by justifying it, by putting forward such an amazing and wonderful pretext as that others, when they saw the rewards heaped upon Pallas, might be stirred up to an honourable rivalry. So cheap were the honours they bestowed - even those which Pallas did not scorn to accept. Yet there were found men of honourable extraction who strove to attain distinctions which they saw bestowed on a freedman and promised to slaves !
How happy I am that my life did not fall in those evil times, which make me blush for shame as though I had lived in them ! I have not the least doubt that they affect you as they do me. I know how sensitive and honourable your disposition is, and that you will have no difficulty therefore in thinking my resentment to be under rather than over the mark, although in some passages perhaps I have let my indignation run away with me further than I ought to have done in a letter. Farewell.
(*) See letter vii. 29.
(**) The mark of a Roman knight, as an iron ring was of a slave.
 L To Tacitus.
It was not as one master to another, nor as one pupil to another, that you sent me your book - though you say it was the latter - but it was as a master to his pupil, for you are the master and I am the pupil, and whereas you summon me back to school, I am for extending the holidays. There, could I possibly have written a more involved sentence than that? * Does it not absolutely prove that, so far from being worthy to be called your master, I do not deserve to be even called your pupil? None the less, I will put on the master's gown, and I will exercise the right of correcting your book which you have granted me, and will do so all the more freely because, in the meanwhile, I shall not send you any book of mine upon which you may take your revenge. Farewell.
(*) Literally, "could I have stretched hyperbaton further ...".
 L To Romanus.
Have you ever seen the spring at Clitumnus? If not - and I think you have not, or else you would have told me about it - go and see it, as I have done quite recently. I only regret that I did not visit it before. A fair-sized hill rises from the plain, well wooded, and dark with ancient cypress trees. From beneath it the spring issues and forces its way out through a number of channels, though these are of unequal size. After passing through the little whirlpool which it makes, it spreads out into a broad sheet of pure and crystal water, so clear that you can count the small coins and pebbles that have been thrown into it. Thence it is forced forward, not because of any slope of the ground, but by its own volume and weight. So what was just before a spring now becomes a broad, noble river, deep enough for ships to navigate, and these pass to and fro and meet one another, as they travel in opposite directions. The current is so strong that a ship going down-stream moves no faster if oars are used, though the ground is dead level, but in the opposite direction it is all the men can do to row and pole their way along against the current. Those who are sailing for pleasure and amusement find it an agreeable diversion, just by turning the ship's head round, to pass from indolence to toil or from toil to indolence. The banks are clad with an abundance of ash and poplar trees, which you can count in the clear stream, for they seem to be growing bright and green in the water, which for coldness is as cold as the snows, and as transparent in colour.
Hard by is an ancient and sacred temple, where stands Jupiter Clitumnus himself clad and adorned with a toga praetexta, and the oracular responses delivered there prove that the deity dwells within and foretells the future. Round about are sprinkled a number of little chapels, each containing the statue of a god. There is a special cult for each and a particular name, and some of them have springs dedicated to them, for in addition to the one I have described, which may be called the parent spring, there are lesser ones separated from the chief one, but they all flow into the river, which is spanned by a bridge that marks the dividing line between the sacred and public water. In the upper part you are only allowed to go in a boat, the lower is also open to swimmers. The people of Hispellum, to whom the place was made over as a free gift by Augustus, have provided a public bath and accommodation; there are also some villas standing on the river bank, whose owners were attracted by the charming scenery. In a word, there is nothing there but what will delight you, for you may study and read the numerous inscriptions in praise of the spring and the deity which have been placed upon every column and every wall. Most of them you will commend, a few will make you laugh, but stay, I am forgetting that you are so kind-hearted that you will laugh at none. Farewell.
 L To Ursus.
It seems ages since I took up a book or a pen, and ages since I knew what it was to do nothing, and rest and enjoy that lazy but delightful state of inactivity where you hardly know you exist. I have been so busy with my friends' business that I have had no time for leisure or study. For no study is so important that it warrants us in neglecting to perform the offices of friendship, since this is the duty which our studies teach us to observe most religiously. Farewell.
 L To Fabatus.
The more you desire to see great-grandchildren born to you in our house, the greater will be your concern to hear that your granddaughter has had a miscarriage. In her girlish ignorance she was not aware of her condition, and therefore neglected to take certain precautions which are necessary in pregnancy, and she did some imprudent things which she ought not to have done. But she has paid a very severe penalty for her mistake, for her life was in the greatest danger. Consequently, though you will be very grieved to hear in your old age that you have been cheated, so to speak, of a great-grandchild which was on its way to you, yet you must be thankful to the gods that, though they have refused you the child for the present, they have preserved your granddaughter's life, and will repair the loss later on. Of this her recent pregnancy affords a certain hope, though in this case it had such a lamentable issue. I am using the same arguments to encourage, comfort, and console you which I employ for my own consolation, for your anxiety to have great-grandchildren cannot be keener than mine is to have children, to whom, I think, I can leave a straight road to office - thanks to their descent from you and me - names which are well known everywhere, and a well established family pedigree. Only let them once be born and change our grief to joy ! Farewell.
 L To Hispulla.
When I think of your love for your brother's daughter - a love which is even tenderer than a mother's indulgent affection - I feel that I ought to reverse the natural order of events, and tell you first what would naturally be mentioned last, so that your immediate impressions of joy may leave you no room for anxiety. Yet I am afraid you may be somewhat terrified, even after you congratulate yourself that the worst is over, and that, though you rejoice that she is out of danger, you will also shudder to think that she has been at the brink of death. However, she is quite cheerful; I feel that she is restored to me and her own self again ; she is beginning to pick up her strength, and, now that she is getting convalescent, she is measuring the crisis she has passed through. But she has been in the greatest danger - I hope I may say so without offence to Heaven - and that through no fault of hers, but owing to her inexperienced age. It was to this that her miscarriage was due, and all the lamentable results arising from ignorance of her condition. Consequently, though you will be disappointed in not being solaced for the loss of your dead brother by a nephew or a niece, you must bear in mind that that consolation is only postponed, not denied you, inasmuch as she on whom you can build your hopes has been spared to us. At the same time make excuses to your father * for the mischance, though it is one that women are more ready to make allowances for than men. Farewell.
 L To Minicianus.
I really must for once take a holiday to-day, as Titinius Capito is giving a reading, and I hardly know whether my obligation or my desire to go and hear him is the greater. He is an excellent person, quite one of the chief ornaments of our time; he is devoted to literature, and he loves literary people, giving them assistance and a helping hand whenever he can. He is a regular harbour of refuge and patron to crowds of scribblers, all of whom look up to his guidance; and it was he who restored and gave new life to the arts and sciences when they were in rapid decline. He lends his house for recitals; he is wonderfully kind in attending readings which are held elsewhere than at his house; and he certainly never failed to put in an appearance at one of my recitals, so long as he happened to be in Rome at the time. It would be all the more disgraceful for me not to return the compliment, as I have the more honourable reasons for so doing. If I were busy in the courts, should I not consider myself obliged to a friend who appeared at the appointed time to save my bail? And so now, when I am given up heart and soul to my studies, are my obligations the less to a person who so regularly pays me the compliment of his presence, I won't say in the only matter in which he can oblige me, but certainly in the matter which obliges me most? But even if I owed him no return, no reciprocity, so to speak, of kindness, I should yet be anxious for the success of a man gifted with such charming and splendid genius, whose style, though essentially severe, is yet rendered most attractive by the dignity of his theme. He is writing an account of the deaths of distinguished men, certain of whom were very dear friends of mine. So I seem to myself to be performing a pious duty, for though I could not be present at their obsequies, yet I can attend, so to speak, at their funeral eulogies, which are all the more likely to bear the stamp of truth from the fact that they have been so long delayed. Farewell.
 L To Genialis.
I am pleased that you have read my speeches with your father at your side. It will help you vastly to get on, to have a splendid scholar to tell you which passages deserve praises, and which the reverse, and that you should be trained to make a practice of giving a true opinion. You see whom you ought to follow, and in whose footsteps you should tread. You are indeed lucky to have a living model to copy, who is one of the best of men, and also your nearest relative; and lucky that he, whom of all others you ought to imitate, is the very person to whom Nature has willed that you should bear the greatest resemblance. Farewell.
 L To Ariston.
As you are such a good authority on both private and public law - the latter of which includes the regulations of the senate - I particularly wish you to tell me whether or not I made a mistake at the last meeting of that body, not, of course, for the sake of being put right with regard to a past action, which is now too late to mend, but that I may know what to do in the future, in case a similar emergency arises. You will say - "Why do you ask for information on a question with which you ought to be quite familiar?" My answer is that the servitude of former times * has made men forget and lose all knowledge of the senatorial privileges, just as it made them forget other honourable professions. For how few people have the patience to wish to learn what they will never have an opportunity of practising; and it is also to be remembered how difficult it is to bear in mind what you have learned if you never practise it. Consequently, when liberty was restored it found us inexperienced and all at sea, and we are so charmed by its sweetness that we are compelled to do certain things before we have learned the way to do them.
The old custom of Rome was for young people to learn from their elders the proper course of conduct, by watching their behaviour as well as by listening to their spoken instructions, and they afterwards and in turn, so to speak, taught their juniors in the same way. When they were growing up, they had camp duties drilled into them without loss of time, that, by obeying, they might grow accustomed to command, and learn by following the art of leading; then, when they were standing for office, they used to haunt the doors of the senate-house, and watch the course of public business before ever they look part therein. Each one look his parent for his guide, or, if he had no parent, he chose the noblest and most aged senator to supply the place of one. They were taught by practical examples - and that is the surest way of imparting knowledge - what were the powers of the mover of a resolution, what the regulations governing those who spoke to a motion, the powers of the magistrates, and the privileges of the ordinary members, when they ought to give way, when to show opposition and keep silence, what limits to set to their speeches, how to weigh the merits of rival propositions, how to discuss a rider tacked on to an original motion - in fact, the whole duty of a senator.
But when we were young men, although it is true that we served in the army, it was at a time when virtue was suspected, when idleness obtained promotion, when generals had no authority, and soldiers no respect for their leaders, when no one knew how to command and how to obey, when everything was in a state of chaos and disorder, and turned topsy-turvy, and when the lessons one learned deserved rather to be forgotten than remembered. We, too, attended the senate-house as spectators, but it was a trembling and tongueless body, for to speak your mind was perilous, and to speak against your conscience was a wretched and miserable performance. What lessons could we learn at such a time, and what profit could we get by learning them, when the senate was only summoned to idle its time away, or to perpetrate some piece of villainy, when the meeting was prolonged, either to cover the senators with ridicule, or sentence some poor wretch to die, while the debates were never serious, though they often involved tragic consequences. When we became senators we took our place in this lamentable state of affairs, and witnessed and endured these crying scandals for many a long year. We have enjoyed but a short time - for the happiest time always appears the shortest - in which we have had the heart to learn what our powers really are, and to put those powers into execution. So I have all the better claim to ask you, first, to pardon my mistake, if indeed I made one, and then that you will put me right from your store of knowledge, inasmuch as you have always made a special study of private and public law, both ancient and modern, and are as familiar with the by-ways as with the beaten track of your subject. For my own part, I think that even the lawyers, who, by constant handling of all sorts of constitutional questions, come to know almost everything, are by no means at home with - even if they are not wholly without experience of - the kind of question which I am putting before you. So there will be all the more excuse for me if I did make a mistake, and you will deserve all the more praise if you can set me right on a point which I doubt whether you have come across in your experience.
The motion before the senate was concerned with the freedmen of the consul Afranius Dexter, who had come to a violent end, but it was not clear whether he had met his death at the hands of his own people, and, even supposing he had, no one knew whether they had foully murdered him, or whether he had commanded them to kill him. One proposal - if you ask "whose?" I admit it was my own, though that has no bearing on the matter - was that these freedmen should be set at liberty after being put to the question; another was that they should be banished to an island; and a third was that they should be put to death. In other words, the proposals showed such diversity of view that they could not be reconciled, and had to stand or fall singly. For what is there in common between execution and banishment? Obviously nothing more than between banishment and acquittal, though there is a nearer approximation to a sentence of banishment in a sentence of acquittal than in a sentence of execution, inasmuch as the latter robs a man of the life which is left him by the other two. However, for the time being, those who were in favour of banishment sat on the same side of the house as those who advocated execution, and by this temporary pretence of agreement adjourned, so to speak, the differences between them. I demanded that the three parties should be counted singly, and that no two parties should join forces by a momentary truce. In other words, I strongly pressed that those who thought the freedmen should be put to death should separate themselves from those who advocated banishment, and should not crowd together to outvote those in favour of an acquittal, when they were sure to disagree among themselves a little later; my argument being that, as they were not agreed on the same policy, their agreement in disapproving a third policy was of little account. What seemed to me so extraordinary was that he who had proposed that the freedmen should be banished and the slaves put to the question should be forced to vote separately thereon, while he who was for passing sentence of death should vote on the same side as those who were for banishment. For if it were right that a separate vote should be taken on the first proposal, because it really contained two, I could not see how the proposals of those who advocated such widely different sentences could be justly joined together. Permit me, therefore, to explain to you why I held that view, as though I were in the senate-house again; to deal with a closed case as though no decision had yet been arrived at; and to string together, now that I am at my leisure, the reasons which then I could only urge in a disconnected way, owing to the number of interruptions.
Let us suppose that the decision of this case lies with just three judges, and that one of them is in favour of the freedmen being put to death, another advocating banishment, and the third acquittal. Will those in favour of first two join forces and overcome the third, or will each one of them be taken separately and have just as much weight as the other two, there being no more chance of the first and second joining forces than of the second and third ? Similarly in the senate, when men propose resolutions which are incompatible with one another, they ought not to be found on the same side when the votes are counted. If one and the same person proposes that criminals should be both put to death and banished, how are the criminals, in accordance with the sentence, to suffer both punishments? In a word, how can a sentence be reckoned as a single one when it joins together two such incompatible propositions ? Similarly, when one person proposes death and another banishment, is the sentence any the more to be considered as one because it is proposed by two people, when it was not so considered on being proposed by one person? Well, then, does not the law clearly tell us that proposals for death and banishment ought to be taken separately, when it uses the following words as a formula for a division ? - "All you who agree go to this side of the house, and all who are in favour of any other course go to that part of the house where others think like you." Take the words one by one and sec what they mean. "All who agree" - that means all you who are for banishment. "To this side of the house" - that means to the side on which the member who advocated banishment is sitting. Hence it is clear that those who are in favour of death cannot remain on the same side. "All who are in favour of any other course" - here you notice that the law is not content to say, "some other course," but strengthens it by saying, "any other course." Can there be any question that they who advocate death "are in favour of any other course," compared with those who advocate banishment? "Go to that part of the house where others think like you" - does not the law itself seem to call, impel, and drive those who disagree to go to the opposite side? Does not the Consul also - not only with this formula, but by a wave of the hand and gesture - point out to each where he ought to stay, or to which side he ought to cross over ?
But it may be objected that if a separate vote is taken on the proposals for death and banishment, the proposal for acquittal may carry the day. Granted, but what has that to do with those who give their votes? It certainly would be a scandal if they were to strain every nerve and resort to every possible artifice to prevent the more humane sentence from being carried. Or it may be urged that those who are for death and banishment should first vote together against those who are in favour of acquittal, and afterwards vote against one another. That is to say, just as at the public games it sometimes happens that, in the drawing of the lots, a gladiator draws a bye and is put on one side to cope with the victor of an early round, so in the senate there are first rounds and second rounds, and there may be a third proposition waiting to be pitted against the winner of other two propositions. But what of the fact that, if the first proposition is approved, the others will fall to the ground ? How can one justify the refusal to give all the propositions the same equal chances, when, after a division has taken place, the equality of chances is gone for ever? Let me sum the matter up in plainer language. My point is that, unless those who are in favour of the death sentence at once withdraw to another part of the house as soon as the proposer of the sentence of banishment makes his speech, it will be no good their disagreeing with him afterwards, when but a moment before they were agreeing with him.
But why do I write as though I were teaching you law, when my desire is to learn from you whether these propositions ought to have been split up, and separate divisions taken or not ? It is true that I carried my point, but I none the less ask you whether I ought to have pressed it. But how did I carry my point? you ask. Why, the senator who proposed the death sentence - whether he was convinced by the strict legality of my demand I can't say, but its equity certainly convinced him - withdrew his proposal, and joined forces with the mover of the sentence of banishment. He was afraid, I fancy, that if the proposals were voted on separately, as it seemed probable they would be, he would be outvoted by those who were in favour of an acquittal. For there were far more in favour of this course alone than in favour of the other two put together. Thereupon those whom he had brought over to his way of thinking, on finding themselves deserted by him when he crossed over, abandoned a proposal which even its mover had turned his back upon, and continued, as it were, to follow his lead when he changed his camp as they had done when he acted as their leader. So the three proposals dwindled to two, and one of the two remaining ones carried the day; the third one simply dropped out, for when its supporters saw that they could not overcome the other two, they took their choice to which of the other two they would submit. Farewell.
(*) In particular, during the reign of Domitian.
 L To Junior.
I have laden you heavily by sending you all these volumes at once, but I have done so, first, because you asked me to, and, secondly, because you tell me that your grape harvest is so slight that I may be quite certain that you will have time, as the saying goes, to read a book. I am getting similar reports from my own estates, and so I shall have plenty of leisure to write compositions for you to read, if only I can find a place to buy paper. If the paper is rough or spongy I must either refrain from writing at all, or else, whatever I write, good or bad, I cannot help but smudge.
 L To Paternus.
I have been greatly upset by illness in my household, some of my servants having died, and at an early age. I have two consolations, which, though they are by no means equivalent to my grief, do certainly afford me comfort. One is, that I have been generous in giving them their freedom, - for I do not consider that I have lost them altogether immaturely when they died free men, - and the other is, that I allow my slaves to make, as it were, valid wills, and I preserve them as I should strictly legal documents. * They lay their commissions and requests before me just as they please, and I carry them out as though I were obeying an order. They have full power to divide their property and leave donations and bequests as they will, provided that the beneficiaries are members of my household, for with slaves their master's house takes the place of commonwealth and state. But though I have these consolations to make my mind easier, I feel shattered and broken by just that same sense of common humanity which led me to grant them these indulgences. Not that I wish I were harder of heart. I am quite aware that there are other people who call misfortunes of this kind a mere pecuniary loss, and plume themselves thereon as great men and wise. Whether they are great and wise I do not know, but they certainly are not men. The true man is sensible to pain and feeling, and even while he fights against his trouble admits consolations; he is not a person who never knows the need of comfort. Perhaps I have written more than I ought, though it is still less than I desired. For there is a certain pleasure even in feeling pain, especially if your tears are falling while the arm of a friend is around you, and he is ready to applaud or excuse them as they fall. Farewell.
(*) Slaves were not allowed by Roman law to hold or bequeath property.
 L To Macrinus.
Have you, where you are, been having inclement and tempestuous weather? Here we have had nothing but storm after storm and constant deluges of rain. Tiber has deserted his proper channel and is now deep over the more low-lying banks. In spite of the drainage of the ditches constructed with great foresight by the Emperor, the river overwhelms the valleys; all the fields are under water, and wherever the ground is level there you can see only water in place of dry ground. Consequently, instead of receiving as usual the streams which flow into it and carrying off their waters mingled with its own, it places as it were a barrier in their path and checks their progress, and so covers the fields, which it does not touch itself, with an alien flood. Even the Anio, that daintiest of rivers, so dainty that it seems to be tempted to linger by the villas on its banks, has thrown down and carried off in great measure the woods which lend it their shade; it has overthrown mountains, and then, shut in by the masses of debris, has overturned buildings in its efforts to regain its lost channel, and raised and spread itself upon their ruins. Those who were caught by the storm upon higher ground saw everywhere around them, here the ruined remains of rich and splendid furniture, there the implements of husbandry, oxen and ploughs and their drivers, mingled with herds of cattle, loose and free from restraint, with trunks of trees and crossbeams from ruined villas, all floating to and fro in wide confusion. Nor have those places which lay too high for the river to reach them escaped disaster. For, instead of being inundated by the river, they suffered from continued rains and whirlwinds, which rushed down from the rainclouds, which tore down the hedges enclosing their rich fields, and shook the public buildings to their foundations when they did not lay them low. A number of people have been maimed, overwhelmed, and crushed by these accidents, and so their material losses have been made the heavier by their being thrown into mourning. I am much afraid that you, where you are, will have had a similar experience proportionate to the dangers of your position; and I beg of you, if you have not, to relieve my anxiety on your account as soon as possible, and if you have, that you will tell me all about it. For it makes little difference whether you actually meet with disaster or only apprehend it, except that you can put a limit to your grief, but not to your fears. Our griefs can be apportioned to what we know has befallen us, but our apprehensions rise to what may befall us. Farewell.
 L To Rufinus.
Though it is commonly thought that a man's character can be seen in his will, as clearly almost as in a mirror, that idea is quite a delusion. For example, there is the case of Domitius Tullus, who has shown himself to be a much better man at his death than ever he was in life; for, though he had allowed the legacy-hunters to fasten upon him, he has left as his heiress the daughter whom he shared with his brother - for she was really his brother's child, and he had adopted her. He has given his grandson a number of most acceptable legacies; nor did he forget his great-grandchild. In a word, his will was full of family affection, which was the more striking as it was entirely unexpected.
Consequently, everywhere in Rome people are talking about it, and passing very different verdicts. Some are saying that he was an ungrateful and perfidious hypocrite, though, in so attacking him, they give themselves away by confessing the baseness of their motives, inasmuch as they are finding fault with a man who was a father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, as though he had been without a relative in the world. Others again praise him loudly just because he cheated the hopes of rascals whom, as the times are what they are, it is prudent to deceive in the way he did. Moreover, they say that he was not at liberty to leave any other will at his death, and that he did not so much bequeath his riches to his daughter as restore them to her, inasmuch as it was through her that he acquired them. For Curtilius Mancia, who hated his son-in-law, Domitius Lucanus - the brother of Tullus -, had made Lucanus's daughter, who was his own granddaughter, his heiress, only on condition that she was allowed to pass out of her father's control. Her father therefore made her free, and her uncle adopted her, and so Mancia's will was practically evaded, the brother, who was a partner in the spoils, restoring the daughter after she had been emancipated from her father's power back to it again by the trick of adoption, and giving back at the same time her rich inheritance.
In other instances also these two brothers seemed to be fated to become rich, though that was the very last thing that those who enriched them desired. Indeed, Domitius Afer, who gave them his name by adopting them, left a will signed eighteen years before, which he disapproved to such an extent subsequently that he caused the property of their father to be confiscated. His harshness was just as remarkable as their good luck, for it was equally strange that he should be so harsh as to procure the banishment of a man whose children he had adopted, and that they should be so lucky as to find a father in the very person who had driven their father into banishment. But the property he inherited from Afer, as well as the other spoils which he and his brother acquired together, was also properly passed on to his brother's daughter, as he had made Tullus his sole heir in preference to his daughter, in order to induce his brother to be more kindly disposed to her. That makes the will the more praiseworthy, as it was inspired by feelings of family affection, loyalty, and shame, and as it contained legacies to all his relatives, according to their respective merits, besides one to his wife.
The latter came in for some very charming villas and a large sum of money. She was an excellent wife, and had shown herself the very soul of patience, and she deserved all the more of her husband because she had been severely blamed for marrying him. For she was a woman of distinguished family, she bore a fine character, she was already well advanced in years and had long been a widow, and had had children by a previous husband. Hence it was thought that she was scarcely acting with a proper sense of what was expected of her in marrying a rich old man, who was such a confirmed invalid that he must have worn out the patience of the wife whom he had married when he was young and healthy. He was so crippled and racked in every limb that he had no other means of enjoying his great riches than by looking at them, and he could not even turn himself in bed without assistance. So weak was he that he had to get others to clean and wash his teeth for him - a pitiful detail that revolts one's imagination. He was often heard to say, when bewailing the indignities to which his weakness exposed him, that he licked every day the fingers of his own slaves. Yet he kept on living and clung to life, thanks mainly to his wife's nursing, who, by her patience, turned to praise the reproaches of those who blamed her for entering into the match.
There, I have told you all the gossip of the town, for Tullus is the universal theme. The sale of his effects is being greatly looked forward to, for he had such a store of things that on the very day on which he bought some large gardens he furnished them with a number of rare old statues. So great was his stock of the choicest works of art which he had stored away, and to which he used to pay no attention whatever. I hope that if anything occurs in your neighbourhood that is worth writing about, you will not think it too much trouble to send me a letter, for not only is news pleasant to listen to, but we learn by concrete examples the lessons by which to mould our lives. Farewell.
 L To Maximus.
I find in study both delight and consolation. There is nothing in the world so pleasant as to give more pleasure than study can bestow, and there is no sorrow so grievous that it cannot alleviate. So while I have been sorely troubled by the illness of my wife and the ill-health of my household, some of whom even have died, I have fled to study as the one and only thing that could assuage my grief, for, while making me more sensible of my trouble, it also helps me to bear it with greater patience. But I have a habit of asking my friends to lend me their critical faculties upon any book which I am about to publish to the world, and I especially ask for yours. Will you please give special attention, closer even than you have given before, to the volume which you will receive with this letter, for I am afraid that, owing to my depression of spirit, I have hardly bestowed upon it the pains I ought. I could, indeed, master my grief sufficiently to write, but not sufficiently to write without preoccupation of mind and sadness of heart, for while on the one hand study leads to happiness, so on the other it needs a cheerful frame of mind before one can study to best advantage. Farewell.
 L To Gallus.
Though we often take long journeys and cross the seas to examine curiosities, we neglect them when they lie beneath our very eyes, either because Nature has made us prone to be heedless of what is near to our hands, and intent only upon what lies at a distance from us, or because the more easy a thing is of access the less our desire to see it becomes, or because we postpone the journey with the idea that we shall frequently pay a visit to what we can see as often as we feel the inclination thereto. But whatever the reason may be, there are many objects of interest in our city and near to it which we have not even heard of, much less seen, though if they had been located in Achaia, Egypt, Asia, or any other land which is rich in marvels and advertises them well, we should have heard of them, read of them, and examined them long ago.
I myself quite recently was told of and visited a curiosity which I had never visited or heard of before. My wife's grandfather had induced me to inspect his estates at Ameria. While I was walking round them I had pointed out to me a sheet of water called Lake Vadimon, which lay close by, and at the same time I heard some extraordinary stories concerning it. I went to see it. The lake is circular in shape, exactly like a wheel lying on the ground, and it is perfectly round. There are no indentations in the side, and no irregularities ; all the measurements are exactly equal, as though it were an artificial sheet of water hollowed out and cut to a plan. In colour it is clearer than azure, the tint being greener and sharper; it has a sulphurous smell and a medicinal taste, with properties that are excellent for strengthening fractured limbs. In size it is but moderate, yet large enough to feel the effects of the winds and to break into waves. No boat is allowed on its surface - for it is sacred water - but there are islands floating in it, all of which are covered with reeds and rushes, and with the various plants which grow in greater profusion in the marshy ground and at the extremities of the lake itself. Each island has its distinct shape and size, and all are smooth at the sides, for they are constantly driven against the shore and against one another, and the edges of each are thus worn away they all stand at an equal height out of the water and are equally heavy, while their roots, which do not go deep down, are shaped like the keel of a ship. This form of theirs can be seen from all sides, and is just as much out of the water as in it. Sometimes the islands are joined together in a string and look like one piece of land ; sometimes they are dispersed by the winds in different directions; and occasionally they float along singly and separately when the lake is perfectly still. Often the smaller islands cling alongside the larger ones, like small boats in tow of a big ship; often both large and small seem, as it were, to choose their own course and race with one another ; or at other times they are all driven into the same corner and form an addition to the shore where they are clustered together, making the lake smaller, and then restoring it to its full size, first in one spot and then in another, and only leaving its size unaltered when they are out in the middle of it.
It is no uncommon thing for cattle while grazing to walk on to the islands, which they take to be the edge of the shore, nor do they discover the instability of the ground upon which they are standing until they are torn from the bank, and are terrified at the lake surrounding them on all sides, as though they had been transported and set down where they find themselves. Then, when they make their escape at the point whither their island is blown by the wind, they no more know when they have set foot on land than they were aware of having stepped on to an island. This same lake finds outlet in a river which, after running above ground for a little while, is lost to sight in a cave, and pursues its course at a great depth ; but if any object is thrown into it before it is drawn below, it preserves it and throws it up again at its outlet. I have given you these details because I fancy that they are as new to you as they were to me, for you and I are alike in this respect, that we find our greatest pleasures in the works of Nature. Farewell.
 L To Arrianus.
As in my daily life, so in my studies I think it is most becoming as well as most natural for a man to mingle grave and gay together, lest too much gravity should result in austerity, and too much gaiety in wantonness. That is what leads me to intersperse my more serious works with trifles and playful poems. I chose the most suitable time and place for launching them, and, after having had desks placed before the couches, I called together my friends in the month of July, when law business is at its quietest, in order that my poems might get accustomed to receive a hearing from lazy people over dinner. It so happened that on that very day I was summoned to take part as counsel in a case which came on very suddenly, and this made it necessary for me to say something by way of preface. I begged that no one would think me disrespectful because I had not kept clear of the courts and business on a day when I was to give a reading, especially as my audience was to be a select number of my friends, that is to say, people who were doubly my friends. I added that I made it an invariable rule in my writing to put business before pleasure, and take serious matter before amusements, and that my first object as I wrote was to please my friends and then myself.
My volume was a mélange of different subjects and metres, for those of us who are not quite sure about our genius choose variety, in order to minimise the risk of boring our readers. The reading lasted for two days, this being necessitated by the applause of my audience; for though some people in giving a reading skip whole passages, and by so doing imply that what they skip is bad, I never pass over a word, and I even boldly acknowledge that I do not. I read every line in order that I may correct every line, and this cannot be done by those who read only selected passages. You may say that the other course is the more modest, and perhaps shows a greater regard for the audience. It may be so, but my plan is the more frank and the more friendly. For it is the man who is so sure of the affection of his audience that he is not afraid of wearying them, who is their real friend; and, besides, what are acquaintances worth if they merely come to your house to gratify themselves alone? He who prefers to listen to a good volume written by his friend rather than help to make it a good volume, is a self-indulgent fellow, who is no better than a mere stranger.
I don't doubt that you, with your usual kindness towards me, are anxious to read this book of mine, which is still quite new, as soon as possible. Well, you shall, but only when it has been carefully revised, for that was the object I had in view when I gave the reading. With parts of it, indeed, you are already familiar, but these I have subsequently changed, either for better or possibly for worse - as is sometimes the case, when we revise long after the original was written - and when you read them you will find that they are new to you and entirely re-written. For when we have made a number of alterations, even the passages which have not been touched seem to have been altered too. Farewell.
 L To Geminus.
Did you ever come across people who are themselves the slaves of all kinds of passions, yet are so indignant at the vices of others as to appear to grudge them their viciousness - people who show no mercy to those whom they most resemble in character ? And this in spite of the fact that those who themselves need the charitable judgment of others ought above all things to be lenient in their judgments ! For my own part, I consider the best and most finished type of man to be the person who is always ready to make allowances for others, on the ground that never a day passes without his being in fault himself, yet who keeps as clear of faults as if he never pardoned them in others. Let this be our rule, then, at home and out-of-doors, and in every department of life, to be remorseless in our judgment of ourselves, yet considerate even to those who are incapable of overlooking faults in any but themselves; let us ever keep in remembrance that favourite saying of Thrasea, who was one of the gentlest and therefore one of the noblest of men : "He who detests men's vices, detests mankind." You may ask what has moved me to write in this strain. Well, just recently a certain person - but no; it will be better to tell you all about it when we meet, or, better still, not to mention it even then, for I am afraid that, if I indulge in any bitter criticism and fault-finding, I shall be breaking the very rule which I have just been laying down. So let me keep my lips shut as to the identity and quality of the person in question, for to give his name would not point the moral any better, and to refrain from giving it is a much more charitable act. Farewell.
 L To Marcellinus.
The poignancy of my grief at the death of Junius Avitus has quite prostrated me. It has interrupted all my studies, cut me off from all my other duties, and robbed me of all my usual recreations. It was in my house that he first put on the latus clavus ; it was my interest which had helped him in all his elections for office, and he had such an affection and so much respect for me that he used to take me as his model in character, and look upon me as his teacher. Among the young men of our time there have not been many who have acted thus, for how few of them there are who show the deference proper to youth to a person of age and position! They think they are wisdom personified, and that they know everything at once; they pay respect to no one; they imitate no one; they are their own models. But it was not so with Avitus, who showed his wisdom most in recognising that others were wiser than he was, and his learning by the fact that he was always eager to learn. He used constantly to be consulting his friends, either on some point in his studies, or on some point of social duty, and every time he went away with the consciousness of self-improvement. And improved he certainly was, either from the advice that had been given him, or from the mere fact of his having sought information. How deferential he showed himself to Servianus, that most punctilious of men ! When the latter was legate, and was passing from Germany into Pannonia, Avitus was military tribune, and he thoroughly understood his chief's character and charmed him, escorting him on his journey, not so much as a colleague in arms, but as a companion and admirer. When he was quaestor, how attentive he was to his duties, how modest in his bearing to the consuls, - and he served a considerable number, - making himself not only pleasant and agreeable, but rendering them real services ! How eager and assiduous he was to obtain the aedileship from which he has been so prematurely torn away !
It is this which makes my grief so poignant, more even than anything else, when I think of all his labour being thrown away, all his now fruitless entreaties, and the honour which he so thoroughly deserved. I call to mind his putting on the latus clavus in my own house, and all the canvassing I did for him at his first and last elections, all our conversations and consultations. I grieve when I think how young he was, and how his relatives are left sorrowing. His father is stricken in years; there is his wife, whom he married as a girl only a year ago; there is his daughter, who was born to him just before he died. To think of so many hopes and so much joy being turned to despair in a single day! Just appointed aedile-designate, but recently married and just become a father, he has left behind him his honours unenjoyed, his mother childless, his wife a widow, his infant daughter deprived of the privilege of knowing her grandfather and father. It makes my tears flow the more to think that I was away at the time, and in ignorance of the blow that was to fall, and that I heard at one and the same moment that he was ill and that he was dead, and so had no time to grow accustomed to so terrible a shock. I am in such grief in writing this letter that I can touch on no other subject, and indeed I can neither think nor speak of anything else. Farewell.
 L To Maximus.
My affection for you is such that I feel compelled not to direct you - for you have no need of a director - but to strongly advise you to keep in strict remembrance certain points that you are well aware of, and to realise their truth even more than you now do. Bear in mind that you have been sent to the province of Achaia, which is the real and genuine Greece, where the humanities, literature, and even the science of agriculture are believed to have been discovered; that your mission is to regulate the status of the free cities, or, in other words, that you will have to deal with men who are really men and free, men who have preserved the rights, given to them by nature, by their own virtues, merits, friendship, and by the ties of treaties and religious observance. Pay all due respect to the gods and the names of the gods, whom they regard as their founders; respect their ancient glory, and just that quality of age which in a man is venerable, but in cities is hallowed. Show deference to antiquity, to glorious deeds, and even to their legends. Do not whittle away any man's dignity or liberties, or even humble anyone's self-conceit. Keep constantly before you the thought that this is the land which sent us our constitutional rights, and gave us our laws, not as a conqueror, but in answer to our request. *
Remember that the city you are going to is Athens, that the city you will govern is Lacedaemon, and that it would be a brutal, savage, and barbarous deed to take from them the shadow and name of liberty, which are all that now remain to them. You will have noticed that though there is no difference between slaves and freemen when they are in ill-health, the freemen receive gentler and milder treatment at the hands of their medical attendants. Remember, therefore, the past of each city, not that you may despise it for ceasing to be great - no, let there be no trace of haughtiness and disdain in your conduct. Do not be afraid that people will despise you for your kindness, for is any man with full military command and the fasces despised, unless he is craven-spirited or mean, or first shows that he despises himself? It is a bad thing when a governor learns to feel his power by subjecting others to indignities, and a bad thing again when a man makes his power respected by striking terror into those around him. Affection is a far more potent lever by which to obtain what you desire than fear. For fear vanishes when you are absent, but affection remains; and while the former turns to hate, the latter turns to reverence. You must constantly remember - for I will repeat what I said before - to bear in mind the real meaning of the title of your official position, and think what an important duty you are performing in regulating the status of the free cities. For what is more important in civil societies than proper regulations, and what is more precious than freedom ? How scandalous it would be if order were to be turned into confusion, and liberty into slavery ! You must also remember that you have to rival your own past record; you are burdened by the excellent reputation which you brought back from Bithynia with you after your quaestorship, by the testimonials given you by the Emperor, by your tribuneship, praetorship, and by this very mission, which was assigned to you as a sort of reward for your splendid services. So you will have to do your best to prevent people from thinking that you have shown greater humanity, integrity, and tact in a far-off province than in one nearer Rome, among slaves than among freemen, and when you were chosen for the mission by lot rather than by deliberate choice, ** and that you were an untried and unknown man, and not one of tried and proved experience. Moreover, as you have often heard and read, it is much more disgraceful to lose a good reputation than to fail to win one.
As I said at the outset, I want you to take these words as those of a friend who is advising and not directing you, although I do direct you also, for I have no fear - such is my affection for you - of going beyond the limits of propriety. There is no danger of transgressing where the limits ought to be unbounded. Farewell.
(*) An allusion to the despatch of ambassadors from Rome to Greece, for the purpose of being instructed in the laws of Solon etc., in 454 B.C.
(**) Of the emperor, by whose appointment Maximus was sent to Greece.
Book 9 →
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