|1. Pliny The Younger, Letters, 3.1, 3.9, 3.14, 7.2, 7.24, 9.36, 9.40 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)
Tagged with subjects: • closure
Found in books: Hanghan (2019) 87, 170; Hitch (2017) 87, 170
|3.1. To Calvisius. I don't think I ever spent a more delightful time than during my recent visit at Spurinna's house; indeed, I enjoyed myself so much that, if it is my fortune to grow old, there is no one whom I should prefer to take as my model in old age, as there is nothing more methodical than that time of life. Personally, I like to see men map out their lives with the regularity of the fixed courses of the stars, and especially old men. For while one is young a little disorder and rush, so to speak, is not unbecoming; but for old folks, whose days of exertion are past and in whom personal ambition is disgraceful, a placid and well-ordered life is highly suitable. That is the principle upon which Spurinna acts most religiously; even trifles, or what would be trifles were they not of daily occurrence, he goes through in fixed order and, as it were, orbit. In the morning he keeps his couch; at the second hour he calls for his shoes and walks three miles, exercising mind as well as body. If he has friends with him the time is passed in conversation on the noblest of themes, otherwise a book is read aloud, and sometimes this is done even when his friends are present, but never in such a way as to bore them. Then he sits down, and there is more reading aloud or more talk for preference; afterwards he enters his carriage, taking with him either his wife, who is a model lady, or one of his friends, a distinction I recently enjoyed. How delightful, how charming that privacy is! What glimpses of old times one gets! What noble deeds and noble men he tells you of! What lessons you drink in! Yet at the same time it is his custom so to blend his learning with modesty that he never seems to be playing the schoolmaster. After riding seven miles he walks another mile, then he again resumes his seat or betakes himself to his room and his pen. For he composes, both in Latin and Greek, the most scholarly lyrics. They have a wonderful grace, wonderful sweetness, and wonderful humour, and the chastity of the writer enhances its charm. When he is told that the bathing hour has come - which is the ninth hour in winter and the eighth in summer - he takes a walk naked in the sun, if there is no wind. Then he plays at ball for a long spell, throwing himself heartily into the game, for it is by means of this kind of active exercise that he battles with old age. After his bath he lies down and waits a little while before taking food, listening in the meantime to the reading of some light and pleasant book. All this time his friends are at perfect liberty to imitate his example or do anything else they prefer. Then dinner is served, the table being as bright as it is modest, and the silver plain and old-fashioned; he also has some Corinthian vases in use, for which he has a taste though not a mania. The dinner is often relieved by actors of comedy, * so that the pleasures of the table may have a seasoning of letters. Even in the summer the meal lasts well into the night, but no one finds it long, for it is kept up with such good humour and charm. The consequence is that, though he has passed his seventy-seventh year, his hearing and eyesight are as good as ever, his body is still active and alert, and the only symptom of his age is his wisdom. This is the sort of life that I have vowed and determined to follow, and I shall enter upon it with zest as soon as my age justifies me in beating a retreat. Meanwhile, I am distracted with a thousand things to attend to, and my only solace therein is the example of Spurinna again, for he undertook official duties, held magistracies, and governed provinces as long as it became him to do so, and earned his present leisure by abundant toil. That is why I set myself the same race to run and the same goal to attain, and I now register the vow and place it in your hands, so that, if ever you see me being carried beyond the mark, you may bring me to book, quote this letter of mine against me and order me to take my ease, so soon as I shall have made it impossible for people to charge me with laziness. Farewell. " '|
3.9. To Cornelius Minicianus. I can now give you a full account of the enormous trouble entailed upon me in the public trial brought by the Province of Baetica. It was a complicated suit, and new issues kept constantly cropping up. Why this variety, and why these different pleadings? you well ask. Well, Caecilius Classicus - a low rascal who carries his villainy in his face - had during his proconsulship in Baetica, in the same year that Marius Priscus was Governor of Africa, behaved both with violence and rapacity. Now, Priscus came from Baetica and Classicus from Africa, and so there was a rather good saying among the people of Baetica, for even resentment often inspires wit I was acting for the Province, assisted by Lucceius Albinus, an eloquent and ornate speaker, and though we have long been on terms of the closest regard for one another, our association in this suit has made me feel vastly more attached to him. As a rule, and especially in oratorical efforts, people do not run well in double harness in their striving for glory, but he and I were not in any sense rivals and there was no jealousy between us, as we both did our level best, not for our own hand, but for the common cause, which was of such a serious character and of such public importance that it seemed to demand from us that we should not over-elaborate each single pleading. We were afraid that time would fail us, and that our voices and lungs would break down if we tied up together so many charges and so many defendants into one bundle. Again, we feared that the attention of the judges would not only be wearied by the introduction of so many names and charges, but that they would be confused thereby, that the sum-total of the influence of each one of the accused might procure for each the strength of all, and finally we were afraid lest the most influential of the accused should make a scapegoat of the meanest among them, and so slip out of the hands of justice at the expense of someone else - for favour and personal interest are strongest when they can skulk behind some pretence of severity. Moreover, we were advised by the well-known story of Sertorius, who set two soldiers - one young and powerful, and the other old and weak - to pull off the tail of a horse. You know how it finishes. And so we too thought that we could get the better of even such a long array of defendants, provided we took them one by one. Our plan was first to prove the guilt of Classicus himself; then it was a natural transition to his intimates and tools, because the latter could never be condemned unless Classicus were guilty. Consequently, we took two of them and closely connected them with Classicus, Baebius Probus and Fabius Hispanus, both men of some influence, while Hispanus possesses a strong gift of eloquence. To prove the guilt of Classicus was an easy and simple task that did not take us long. He had left in his own handwriting a document showing what profits he had made out of each transaction and case, and he had even despatched a letter couched in a boasting and impudent strain to one of his mistresses containing the words, "Hurrah! hurrah! I am coming back to you with my hands free; * for I have already sold the interests of the Baetici to the tune of four million sesterces." But we had to sweat to get a conviction against Hispanus and Probus. Before I dealt with the charges against them, I thought it necessary to establish the legal point that the execution of an unjust sentence is an indictable offence, for if I had not done this it would have been useless for me to prove that they had been the henchmen of Classicus. Moreover, their line of defence was not a denial. They pleaded that they could not help themselves and therefore were to be pardoned, arguing that they were mere provincials and were frightened into doing anything that a proconsul bade them do. Claudius Restitutus, who replied to me, a practised and watchful speaker who is equal to any emergency however suddenly sprung up upon him, is now going about saying that he never was so dumbfounded and thrown off his balance as when he discovered that the ground on which he placed full reliance for his defence had been cut from under him and stolen away from him. Well, the outcome of our line of attack was as follows In the third action, we thought our best course was to lump the defendants together, fearing lest, if the trial were to be spun out to undue length, those who were hearing the case would grow sick and tired of it, and their zeal for strict justice and severity would abate. Besides, the accused persons, who had been designedly kept over till then, were all of comparatively little importance, except the wife of Classicus, and, although suspicion against her was strong, the proofs seemed rather weak. As for the daughter of Classicus, who was also among the defendants, she had cleared herself even of suspicion. Consequently, when I reached her name in the last trial - for there was no fear then as there had been at the beginning that such an admission would weaken the force of the prosecution - I thought the most honourable course was to refrain from pressing the charge against an innocent person, and I frankly said so, repeating the idea in various forms. For example, I asked the deputation of the Baetici whether they had given me definite instructions on any point which they felt confident they could prove against her; I turned to the senators and inquired whether they thought I ought to employ what eloquence I might possess against an innocent person, and hold, as it were, the knife to her throat; and, finally, I concluded the subject with these words Well, the conclusion of this trial, with its crowd of defendants, was that a certain few were acquitted, but the majority were condemned and banished, some for a fixed term of years, and others for life. In the same decree the senate expressed in most handsome terms its appreciation of our industry, loyalty, and perseverance, and this was the only possible worthy and adequate reward for the trouble we had taken. You can imagine how worn out we were, when you think how often we had to plead, and answer the pleadings of our opponents, and how many witnesses we had to cross-question, encourage, and refute. Besides, you know how trying and vexatious it is to say "no" to the friends of the accused when they come pleading with you in private, and to stoutly oppose them when they confront you in open court. I will tell you one of the things I said. When one of those who were acting as judges interrupted me on behalf of one of the accused in whom he took a special interest, I replied I have brought you up to date as well as I could. You will say, "It was not worthwhile, for what have I to do with such a long letter?" If you do, don\'t ask again what is going on at Rome, and bear in mind that you cannot call a letter long which covers so many days, so many trials, and so many defendants and pleadings. I think I have dealt with all these subjects as briefly as I am sure they are exactly dealt with. But no, I was rash to say "exactly"; I remember a point which I had omitted, and I will tell you about it even now, though it is out of its proper place. Homer does this, and many other authors have followed his example - with very good effect too - though that is not my reason for so doing. One of the witnesses, annoyed at being summoned to appear, or bribed by some one of the defendants in order to weaken the prosecution, laid an accusation against Norbanus Licinianus, a member of the deputation, who had been instructed to get up the case, and charged him with having acted in collusion with the other side in relation to Casta, the wife of Classicus. It is a legal rule in such instances that the trial of the accused must be finished before inquiry is made into a charge of collusion, on the ground that one can best form an opinion on the sincerity of the prosecution by noticing how the case has been carried through. However, Norbanus reaped no advantage from this point of law, nor did his position as member of the deputation, nor his duties as one of those getting up the action stand him in good stead. A storm of prejudice broke out against him, and there is no denying that his hands were crime-stained, that he, like many others, had taken advantage of the evil times of Domitian, and that he had been selected by the provincials to get up the case, not as a man of probity and honour, but because he had been a personal enemy of Classicus, by whom, indeed, he had been banished. He demanded that a day should be fixed for his trial, and that the charge against him should be published; both were refused, and he was obliged to answer on the spot. He did so, and though the thorough badness and depravity of the fellow make me hesitate to say whether he showed more impudence or resolution, he certainly replied with great readiness. There were sundry things brought against him which did him much greater damage than the charge of collusion, and two men of consular rank, Pomponius Rufus and Libo Frugi, severely damaged him by giving evidence to the effect that during the reign of Domitian he had assisted the prosecution of Salvius Liberalis before the judge. He was convicted and banished to an island. Consequently, when I was accusing Casta, I especially pressed the point that her accuser had been found guilty of collusion. But I did so in vain, and we had the novel and inconsistent result that the accused was acquitted though her accuser was found guilty of collusion with her. You may ask what we were about while this was going on. We told the senate that we had received all our instructions for this public trial from Norbanus, and that the case ought to be tried afresh if he were proved guilty of collusion, and so, while his trial was proceeding, we sat still. Subsequently Norbanus was present every day the trial lasted, and showed right up to the end the same resolute or impudent front. I wonder if I have forgotten anything else. Well, I almost did. On the last day Salvius Liberalis bitterly assailed the rest of the deputation on the ground that they had not brought accusations against all whom they were commissioned to accuse by the province. He is a powerful and able speaker, and he put them
7.2. To Justus. How can you reconcile your statement that you are kept constantly busy by your never-ceasing engagements, with your request for something of mine to read, when, as a rule, it is all I can do to get people with plenty of leisure to waste time over my writings? I will therefore let the summer go by, when you are always busy and have no time to yourself, and as soon as winter comes - when I suppose you will at least have some leisure at nights - I will look among my trifles for something suitable to lay before you. In the meantime, I shall do well if my letters do not bore you, but, as that is inevitable, they shall be as brief as possible. Farewell. ' "
7.24. To Geminus. Ummidia Quadratilla has died just before reaching her eightieth year. Right up to her last illness she was hale and hearty, for she was physically so strong knit and robust as to be quite an exception to her sex. She died after making a will which does her great credit, as she left two-thirds of her property to her grandson, and the remaining third to her granddaughter. I hardly know the latter, but I am on terms of close friendship with the grandson, a young man of exceptional qualities, who challenges the affection of others besides those who are related to him. In the first place, he is particularly handsome, but he passed through boyhood and youth without a breath of scandal. He married when in his twenty-fourth year, and would now have been a father had Providence permitted. He lived under his grandmother's roof, yet, though she was a woman of luxurious tastes, he never gave way to excesses, and still managed to obey her every whim. She used to keep a troupe of pantomimic artistes, and showed them an extravagant favour which hardly became a lady of her rank. Yet Quadratus never used to witness their performances, either in the theatre or in her house, and she did not require that he should. I have heard the old lady say, when commending her grandson's literary compositions to my notice, * that though she, with a woman's love of indolence, had been in the habit of amusing herself by playing draughts ** and watching the performances of her troupe, she had always urged her grandson to go away and study whenever she intended to amuse herself in either of these two ways. I think she did so from a feeling of shame that her grandson should see her thus engaged, quite as much as from the love she bore him. This will surprise you, as it certainly surprised me. At the last Sacerdotal Games, when, after the pantomimic troupe had appeared on the stage and given their performance, Quadratus and I were leaving the theatre, he said to me I give you these details because I know you like to hear any news that is stirring, and besides, it is a pleasure to me to renew my gratification by writing and telling it to you. For I am delighted at the affection shown by the deceased, at the honour in which this excellent young man is held, and I am pleased to think that the house, which once belonged to Caius Cassius - the Cassius who was the founder and principal of the Cassian school of lawyers - will have another equally distinguished man to rule over it. My friend Quadratus will worthily fill it and be a credit to it, and will restore to it its old dignity, fame, and glory, when he, who is as great an orator as Cassius was a lawyer, is daily seen to leave its doors. Farewell. 0 " '
9.36. To Fuscus. You ask me how I spend the day on my Tuscan villa in summer time. Well, I wake at my own sweet will, usually about the first hour, though it is often before, and rarely later. I keep my windows shut, for it is remarkable how, when all is still and in darkness, and I am withdrawn from distracting influences and am left to myself, and free to do what I like, my thoughts are not led by my eyes, but my eyes by my thoughts; and so my eyes, when they have nothing else to look at, only see the objects which are present before my mind. If I have anything on hand, I think it over, and weigh every word as carefully as though I were actually writing or revising, and in this way I get through more or less work, according as the subject is easy or difficult to compose and bear in mind. I call for a shorthand writer, and, after letting in the daylight, I dictate the passages which I have composed, then he leaves me, and I send for him again, and once again dismiss him. At the fourth or fifth hour, according as the weather tempts me - for I have no fixed and settled plan for the day - I betake myself to my terrace or covered portico, and there again I resume my thinking and dictating. I ride in my carriage, and still continue my mental occupation, just as when I am walking or lying down. My concentration of thought is unaffected, or rather is refreshed by the change. Then I snatch a brief sleep and again walk, and afterwards read aloud a Greek or Latin speech, as clearly and distinctly as I can, not so much to exercise the vocal organs as to help my digestion, though it does at the same time strengthen my voice. I take another walk, then I am anointed, and take exercise and a bath. While I am at dinner, if I am dining with my wife or a few friends, a book is read to us, and afterwards we hear a comic actor or a musician; then I walk with my attendants, some of whom are men of learning. Thus the evening is passed away with talk on all sorts of subjects, and even the longest day is soon done. Sometimes I vary this routine, for, if I have been lying down, or walking for any length of time, as soon as I have had my sleep and read aloud, I ride on horseback instead of in a carriage, as it takes less time, and one gets over the ground faster. My friends come in from the neighbouring towns to see me, and take up part of the day, and occasionally, when I am tired, I welcome their call as a pleasant relief. Sometimes I go hunting, but never without my tablets, so that though I may take no game, I still have something to bring back with me. Part of my time too is given to my tets - though in their opinion not enough - and their clownish complaints give me a fresh zest for my literary work and my round of engagements in town. Farewell.
9.40. To Fuscus. You say that you were very pleased to receive my letter * describing how I spend my leisure time in summer at my Tuscan villa, and you ask what changes I make in my routine in winter time at my Laurentine house. None at all, unless it be that I do without a sleep at midday and steal a good deal of the night, either before daybreak or after sunset, and if, as often happens in winter, I find I have some urgent business on hand, then I forego listening to a comic actor or music after dinner, and instead, I revise again and again what I have dictated, and at the same time improve my memory by making frequent corrections. So now you know my routine both in summer and winter, and to these you may add the spring and autumn, which come between the two other seasons. During these I take care to lose nothing of the days, and also nibble a little bit off the nights. Farewell. %%% ' ". None