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188 CICERO'S RELIGION.

rather in the character of moderator than of disputant.
The debate is still, as in the more strictly philosophical
dialogues, between the different schools. Velleius first
sets forth the doctrine of his master Epicurus ; speaking
about the gods, says one of his opponents, with as much
apparent intimate knowledge " as if he had just come
straight down from heaven." All the speculations of
previous philosophers which he reviews one after the
other are, he assures the company, palpable errors.
The popular mythology is a mere collection of fables.
Plato and the Stoics, with their Soul of the world and
their pervading Providence, are entirely wrong; the
disciples of Epicurus alone are right. There are gods ;
that much, the universal belief of mankind in all ages
sufficiently establishes. But that they should be the
laborious beings which the common systems of theology
would make them, that they should employ them-
selves in the manufacture of worlds, is manifestly
absurd. Some of this argument is ingenious. " "What
should induce the Deity to perform the functions of
an ^Edile, to light up and decorate the world ? If it
was to supply better accommodation for himself, then
he must have dwelt of choice, up to that time, in the
darkness of a dungeon. If such improvements gave
him pleasure, why should he have chosen to be without
them so long?"

No the gods are immortal and happy beings j and
these very attributes imply that they should be wholly
free from the cares of business exempt from labour,
as from pain and death. They are in human form, but
of an ethereal and subtile essence, incapable of our



<ON THE NATURE OF THE GODS.' 189

passions or desires. Happy in their own perfect wisdom
and virtue, they

" Sit beside their nectar, careless of mankind."

Cotta speaking in behalf of the New Academy
controverts these views. Be these your gods, Epicurus?
as well say there are no gods at all. What reverence,
what love, or what fear can men have of beings who
neither wish them, nor can work them, good or ill?
Is idleness the divinest life] "Why, 'tis the very
heaven of schoolboys ; yet the schoolboys, on their
holiday, employ themselves in games." Nay, he con-
cludes, what the Stoic Posidonius said of your master
Epicurus is true " He believed there were no gods,
and what he said about their nature he said only to
avoid popular odium." He could not believe that the
Deity has the outward shape of a man, without any
solid essence ; that he has all the members of a man,
without the power to use them ; that he is a shadowy
transparent being, who shows no favour and confers no
benefits on any, cares for nothing and does nothing ;
this is to allow his existence of the gods in word, but
to deny it in fact.

Velleius compliments his opponent on his clever
argument, but desires that Balbus would state his
views upon the question. The Stoic consents ; and,
at some length, proceeds to prove (what neither dis-
putant has at all denied) the existence of Divine
beings of some kind. Universal belief, well-authen-
ticated instances of their appearance to men, and of
the fulfilment of prophecies and omens, are all evi-



190 CICERO'S RELIGION.

dences of their existence. He dwells much, too, on
the argument from design, of which so much use has
been made by modern theologians. He furnishes
Paley with the idea for his well-known illustration of
the man who finds a watch ; " when we see a dial or
a water-clock, we believe that the hour is shown
thereon by art, and not by chance." * He gives also
an illustration from the poet Attius, which from a
poetical imagination has since become an historical
incident ; the shepherds who see the ship Argo ap-
proaching take the new monster for a thing of life, as
the Mexicans regarded the ships of Cortes. Much
more, he argues, does the harmonious order of the
world bespeak an intelligence within. But his con-
clusion is that the Universe itself is the Deity; or that
the Deity is the animating Spirit of the Universe ;
and that the popular mythology, which gives one god to
the Earth, one to the Sea, one to Fire, and so on, is in
fact a distorted version of this truth. The very form
of the universe the sphere is the most perfect of all
forms, and therefore suited to embody the Divine.

Then Gotta who though, as Pontifex, he is a
national priest by vocation, is of that sect in philo-
sophy which makes doubt its creed resumes his ob-
jections. He is no better satisfied with the tenets of
the Stoics than with those of the Epicureans. He
believes that there are gods ; but, coming to the dis-
cussion as a dispassionate and philosophical observer,
he finds such proofs as are offered of their existence
insufficient. But this third book is fragmentary, and
* De Nat Deor. ii. 34. Paley's Nat. Theol. ch. i.



'ON THE NATURE OF THE GODS.' 191

the continuity of Cotta's argument is broken "by con-
siderable gaps in all the manuscripts. There is a
curious tradition, that these portions were carefully
torn out by the early Christians, because they might
prove too formidable weapons in the hands of un-
believers. Cotta professes throughout only to raise
his objections in the hope that they may be refuted;
but his whole reasoning is destructive of any belief
in an overruling Providence. He confesses himself
puzzled by that insoluble mystery the existence of
Evil in a world created and ruled by a beneficent
Power. The gods have given man reason, it is said;
but man abuses the gift to evil ends. " This is the
fault," you say, " of men, not of the gods. As though
the physician should complain of the virulence of the
disease, or the pilot of the fury of the tempest ! Though
these are but mortal men, even in them it would seem
ridiculous. Who would have asked your help, we
should answer, if these difficulties had not arisen 1 May
we not argue still more strongly in the case of the
gods? The fault, you say, lies in the vices of men.
But you should have given men such a rational
faculty as would exclude the possibility of such
crimes." He sees, as David did, " the ungodly in pros-
perity." The laws of Heaven are mocked, crimes are
committed, and " the thunders of Olympian Jove are
silent." He quotes, as it would always be easy to
quote, examples of this from all history : the most
telling and original, perhaps, is the retort of Diagoras,
who was called the Atheist, when they showed him
in the temple at Samothrace the votive tablets (as they



192 CICERO'S R.ELIGION.

may be seen in some foreign churches now) offered by
those shipwrecked seamen who had been saved from
drowning. " Lo, thou that deniest a Providence, be-
hold here how many have been saved by prayer to
the gods ! " " Yea," was his 'reply ; " but where are
those commemorated who were drowned ? "

The Dialogue ends with no resolution of the diffi-
culties, and no conclusion as to the points in question.
Cicero, who is the narrator of the imaginary confer-
ence, gives it as his opinion that the arguments of the
Stoic seemed to him to have " the greater probability."
It was the great tenet of the school which he most
affected, that probability was the nearest approach
that man could make to speculative truth. " We are
not among those," he says, " to whom there seems to
be no such thing as truth ; but we say that all truths
have some falsehoods attached to them which have so
strong a resemblance to truth, that in such cases there
is no certain note of distinction which can determine
our judgment and assent. The consequence of which
is that there are many things probable ; and although
they are not subjects of actual perception to our
senses, yet they have so grand and glorious an
aspect that a wise man governs his life thereby." *
It remained for one of our ablest and most philoso-
phical Christian writers to prove that in such matters
probability was practically equivalent to demonstra-
tion.t Cicero's own form of scepticism in religious

* De Nat. Deor. i. 5.

t "To us, probability is the very guide of life." In trod
to Butler's Analogy.



'ON THE NATURE OF THE GODS.' 193

matters is perhaps very nearly expressed in the strik-
ing anecdote which he puts, in this dialogue, into the
mouth of the Epicurean.

"If you ask me what the Deity is, or what his
nature and attributes are, I should follow the example
of Simonides, who, when the tyrant Hiero proposed
to him the same question, asked a day to consider of it.
When the king, on the next day, required from him
the answer, Simonides requested two days more ; and
when he went on continually asking double the time,
instead of giving any answer, Hiero in amazement
demanded of him the reason. ' Because,' replied he,
'the longer I meditate on the question, the more
obscure does it appear.'"*

The position of Cicero as a statesman, and also as a
member of the College of Augurs, no doubt checked
any strong expression of opinion on his part as to the
forms of popular worship and many particulars of
popular belief. In the treatise which he intended as
in some sort a sequel to this Dialogue on the ' Nature
of the Gods ' that upon ' Divination ' he states the
arguments for and against the national belief in omens,
auguries, dreams, and such intimations of the Divine
wilLt He puts the defence of the system in the
mouth of his brother Quintus, and takes himself the
destructive side of the argument: but whether this
was meant to give his own real views on the subject,

* De Nat Deor. L 22.

t There is a third treatise, ' De Fato,' apparently a continua-
tion of the series, of which only a portion has reached us. It
is a discussion of the difficiilt questions of Fate and Free-will.

A. C. vol. IX. N



194 CICERO'S RELIGION.

we cannot be so certain. The course of argument
employed on both sides would rather lead to the
conclusion that the "writer's opinion was very much
that which Johnson delivered as to the reality of
ghosts " All argument is against it, but all belief is
for it."

With regard to the great questions of the soul's im-
mortality, and a state of future rewards and punish-
ments, it would be quite possible to gather from Cicero's
writings passages expressive of entirely contradictory
views. The bent of his mind, as has been sufficiently
shown, was towards doubt, and still more towards dis-
cussion ; and possibly his opinions were not so entirely
in a state of flux as the remains of his writings seem
to show. In a future state of some kind he must cer-
tainly have believed that is, with such belief as he
would have considered the subject-matter to admit of
as a strong probability. In a speculative fragment
which has come down to us, known as ' Scipio's Dream,'
we seem to have the creed of the man rather than the
speculations of the philosopher. Scipio Africanus the
elder appears in a dream to the younger who bore his
name (his grandson by adoption). He shows him a
vision of heaven ; bids him listen to the music of the
spheres, which, as they move in their order, " by a
modulation of high and low sounds," give forth that
harmony which men have in some poor sort reduced to
notation. He bids him look down upon the earth,
contracted to a mere speck in the distance, and draws
a lesson of the poverty of all mere earthly fame
and glory. "For all those who have preserved, or



CICERO'S RELIGION. 195

aided, or benefited their country, there is a fixed and
definite place in heaven, where they shall be happy in
the enjoyment of everlasting life." But " the souls of
those who have given themselves up to the pleasures
of sense, and made themselves, as it were, the servants
of these, who at the bidding of the lusts which wait
upon pleasure have violated the laws of gods and men,
they, when they escape from the body, flit still
around the earth, and never attain to these abodes
but after many ages of wandering." We may gather
that his creed admitted a Valhalla for the hero and
the patriot, and a long process of expiation for the
wicked.

There is a curious passage preserved by St Augustin
from that one of Cicero's works which he most admired
the lost treatise on ' Glory ' * which seems to show
that so far from being a materialist, he held the body
to be a sort of purgatory for the soul.

" The mistakes and the sufferings of human life
make me think sometimes that those ancient seers, or
interpreters of the secrets of heaven and the counsels
of the Divine mind, had some glimpse of the truth,
when they said that men are born in order to suffer
the penalty for some sins committed in a former life ;
and that the idea is true which we find in Aristotle,
that we are suffering some such punishment as theirs of
old, who fell into the hands of those Etruscan bandits,
and were put to death with a studied cruelty ; their
living bodies being tied to dead bodies, face to face,
in closest possible conjunction : that so our souls are
* See p. 29.



196 CICERO'S RELIGION.

coupled to our bodies, united like the living with the
dead."

But whatever might have been the theological side,
if one may so express it, of Cicero's religion, the moral
aphorisms which meet us here and there in his works
have often in them a teaching which comes near the
tone of Christian ethics. The words of Petrarch are
hardly too strong "You would fancy sometimes it
was not a Pagan philosopher but a Christian apostle
who was speaking " * These are but a few out of
many which might be quoted : " Strive ever for the
truth, and so reckon as that not thou art mortal, but
only this thy body ; for thou art not that which this
outward form of thine shows forth, but each man's
mind, that is the real man not the shape which can
be traced with the finger." t " Yea, rather, they live
who have escaped from the bonds of their flesh
as from a prison-house." " Follow after justice and
duty ; such a life is the path to heaven, and into yon
assembly of those who have once lived, and now, re-
leased from the body, dwell in that place." Where,
in any other heathen writer, shall we find such noble
words as those which close the apostrophe in the Tus-
culans ? " One single day well spent, and in accord-
ance with thy precepts, were better to be chosen than
an immortality of sin ! " J He is addressing himself,
it is true, to Philosophy ; but his Philosophy is here
little less than the "Wisdom of Scripture : and the

* " Interdum non Paganum philosophum, sed apostolum loqui
putes."

t ' The Dream of Scipio.' J Tusc., v. 2.



CICERO'S RELIGION. 197

spiritual aspiration is the same only uttered under
greater difficulties as that of the Psalmist when he
exclaims, "One day in thy courts is better than a
thousand ! " We may or may not adopt Erasmus's view
of his inspiration or rather, inspiration is a word which
has more than one definition, and this would depend
upon which definition we take ; but we may well
sympathise with the old scholar when he says " I
feel a better man for reading Cicero."



END OP CICERO.



PRINTED BY WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS, EDINBURGH.



PLINY'S LETTERS



BY THE



REV. \ALFRED CHURCH, M.A.

HEAD-MASTER OF THE ROYAL GRAMMAR-SCHOOL,
HENLEY-ON-THAMES



REV. W. J. BRODRIBB, M.A.

LATE FELLOW OF ST JOHN'S COLLEGE,
CAMBRIDGE



WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS

EDINBURGH AND LONDON

MDCCCLXXII



CONTENTS.



PAGE

CHAP. i. PLINY'S EARLY DAYS SKETCH OP THE REIGNS

OF VESPASIAN AND TITUS PLINY THE

ELDER 1

it II. THE GREAT ERUPTION OF VESUVIUS, . . 12
ii III. REIGN OF TERROR DOMITIAN'S LAST DAYS

BANISHMENT OF THE PHILOSOPHERS, . 25
ii IV. THE NEW AGE VENGEANCE ON THE INFOR-
MERSTHE GREAT PROVINCIAL TRIALS, 30
ii V. THE ROMAN BAR PLINY'S PRACTICE IN THE

COURT OF THE HUNDRED, . . . 44

n VI. MEN OF LETTERS AT ROME, ... 61

ii VII. PUBLIC READINGS, 80

n vin. COMUM, PLINY'S BIRTHPLACE HIS LIVELY

INTEREST IN ITS WELFARE, ... 90

n ix. PLINY'S FAMILY AND FRIENDS, . . . 101

n X. COUNTRY LIFE PLINY'S VILLAS, . . 124

i XI. PLINY IN HIS PROVINCE, . . . . 141

n xii. PLINY'S OPINIONS AND HABITS, . . . 156



ADYEETISEMENT.



MANY of the translations in this volume are our own.
Sometimes we have borrowed from the versions of
Lord Orrery and Melmoth. Occasionally we have
had the advantage, of which we "beg to express our
hearty appreciation, of the versions which Dean
Merivale gives in his ' History of the Romans under
the Empire.'



INTRODUCTORY NOTE.



As this work is not arranged in a regular biographical
form, it seems advisable to give a brief sketch of the
main events in the life of the Author of these Letters.
Most of these events the reader will find related at
greater length as he proceeds.

Pliny the younger was born A.D. 62. In A.D. 79 ho
witnessed the great eruption of Vesuvius. In the
following year he commenced practice as an advocate
in Rome. For a short time he served as a military
tribune in Syria. Eeturning to Eome, he was made
Quaestor; and in A.D. 93, Praetor. In A.D. 100, he
was Consul. He also filled at some time the office of
Prefect of the Treasury, and he was one of the Com-
missioners of the Tiber. He belonged to the College
of Augurs. In A.D. 103, he went as Propraetor to the
province of Pontus and Bithynia, an office which he
held for about two years. "We know nothing of him
later than the year 107. He was twice married, but
left no children.



PLINY'S LETTERS.



CHAPTEE I.

PLINY'S EARLY DAYS SKETCH OF THE REIGNS OP
VESPASIAN AND TITUS PLINY THE ELDER.

~No reading can be pleasanter or more instructive than
the correspondence of a clever and accomplished man,
whose circumstances have brought him into continual
contact with the politics and literature of his day.
Cicero's letters are certainly among the most interest-
ing remains of antiquity. Those of the younger Pliny
are indeed the work of a man many degrees intellec-
tually inferior to Cicero, but they have deservedly
found many attentive readers in modern times. They
throw much light on that period of transition in the
history of mankind which began with the origin and
rise of the Christian Church ; and, as we read them,
we feel that there is something in their general tone
and character which makes them a sort of link between
the old and new worlds.

A. c. vol. xi. A



2 PLINTS LETTERS.

Caius Plinius Csecilius Secundus such was his full
Roman name is familiarly known as " the younger
Pliny," to distinguish him from his uncle, and father
by adoption, the famous naturalist. His mother,
Plinia, was this uncle's sister. His father, Caius
CaecUius, was a man of no note, but of a good old
Eoman stock. The Caecilian family, though of plebeian
origin, had been for centuries an honourable house,
and could reckon consuls and great state officials
among its scions. The most illustrious name con-
nected with it was that of the Metelli. It was also
wealthy ; so that Pliny entered the world under good
auspices. We have to pick out from his own letters all
that can be known about him. He was, he tells us,
in his eighteenth year when that memorable eruption
of Vesuvius, A.D. 79, destroyed the cities of Pompeii
and Herculaneum. He was therefore born A.D. 62, a
year in which the wickedness and infamy of Nero were
rising to their utmost height. Comum, now Como, on
the lake of that name, was the place of his birth, as
maybe inferred with almost absolute certainty from vari-
ous passages in his letters. His family, it would seem,
had considerable estates in the neighbourhood ; and
their relations to the town and its inhabitants were
much the same as those of a great English landowner
to a borough closely connected with his property.
The early death of his father was possibly the cause
of his future distinction. His uncle, after the Eoman
fashion, adopted him as his son, and imbued him with
a love of letters, and an earnest desire of entering on
an honourable career. He had likewise the good



HIS EARLY DATS. 3

fortune to have as his guardian a truly great man
Verginius Rufus to whom we shall have occasion to
refer more at length when we come to speak of Pliny's
friends. As a matter of course, the best education
which the age could furnish was provided for him.
He attended the lectures of the most famous teachers
of the day of Quintilian among the number. He
must have been a precocious lad, as he tells us that he
wrote a Greek tragedy in his fourteenth year, and that
he began to practise as an advocate at nineteen. His
early success was no doubt due to his remarkable in-
dustry as well as to his great social advantages.

The years of his childhood and youth were terrible
and eventful for the state. The latter period of Nero's
reign was an undisguised despotism, which indulged
itself without restraint in freaks of senseless and
capricious wickedness. The year A.D. 68 delivered the
world from the last * and worst of the Caesars. That
same year witnessed a great rising in the armies of
Gaul and of Lower Germany; and the empire was
actually offered by the troops on the Ehine to young
Pliny's guardian, Verginius Kufus. He declined it ;
and Servius Galba, who had been governor of one of
the provinces of Spain, and was a favourite with the
soldiers, became emperor. Thus was effected a complete
revolution. Men chosen by the soldiers were hence-
forth to rule the Eoman world. The secret of the

* So Suetonius terms him, as the last of the Julia gens that
is, of the family of Julius Csesar, whether connected with it by
blood or adoption. Commonly the first twelve emperors are
called " the twelve Caesars."



4 PLINY'S LETTERS.

empire, as Tacitus says in one of the opening chapters
of his History, was now divulged, that an emperor
might "be created elsewhere than at Eome. The follow-
ing year was one of continuous civil war. It comprises
the brief reigns of Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and is
minutely described by Tacitus. It was a time of
horrible bloodshed and confusion. " I am entering,"
says the historian, " on a period rich in disasters,
frightful in its wars, torn by civil strife, and even in
peace full of horrors." With its close, which witnessed
the establishment of the Flavian dynasty, began a more
hopeful era. Vespasian, the first representative of that
dynasty, was called to the empire by the Eoman legions
in the east, to the command of which he had been
appointed at the commencement of the Jewish war.
A man of humble birth, he attained greatness by his
energy and perseverance. He was an able general, and
he retained through life the plain and straightforward
character of a good soldier. His good sense and firm-
ness enabled him to repress or mitigate some of the
worst evils of the time; and his reign was on the whole
a decided benefit to the Eoman world.

Vespasian was Emperor from A.D. 70 to 79. During
these years Pliny was diligently pursuing his studies
under the direction of the best of teachers. The
Emperor himself was a man of no culture or refinement,
but he was shrewd enough to see that it was for the
public good that men of letters should be encouraged.
He had the reputation of being parsimonious to a fault,
but he knew when to be munificent. He founded
a public library, and liberally pensioned poets and



THE REIGN OF VESPASIAN. 5

artists, professors of grammar and rhetoric. Quintilian,
the most successful teacher of the day, rose, contrary
to all precedent, to the consulship. "We may well
imagine what a shock it must have been to an old-
fashioned Eoman nobleman to see a schoolmaster raised
to the highest dignity in the state. Vespasian no
doubt felt that the surest way to make his government
popular was to conciliate the goodwill of the men who
directed the education of the Eoman youth. He could
do nothing with the philosophers, whose political creed,
that especially of the Stoics, was a fanatical repub-
licanism, utterly impracticable, and at the same time
restless and aggressive. He was obliged to treat them
as enemies who were plotting the overthrow of his
government. Of the fate of Helvidius Priscus, the
most eminent, perhaps also the noblest and most con-
scientious, of the Stoics, we shall have occasion to
speak hereafter. He was banished, and soon after put
to death. Then followed a wholesale expulsion from
Rome of all the Stoics and Cynics ; and we may infer
from several allusions to them in Juvenal that the
popular sentiment, which regarded them as hypocrites
and impostors, heartily approved this seemingly harsh
measure. The quiet man of letters, who was content
to make the best of existing political arrangements,
had nothing to fear from Vespasian. Such a man
as the elder Pliny was perfectly safe, and, without


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