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Calvus or Catullus, even to the skilful insertion of a
certain archaic roughness. His last work had been a



C. FANNIUS. 71

volume of letters. It was true that he declared them
to be written by his wife. In any case the whole credit
of them was his ; for, says Pliny, his wife, whom he
had taken unmarried from her father's house, must
have received from him any learning or culture that
she had a significant remark, and perfectly consistent
with what we learn from other sources, as showing
that whatever education a Roman woman could boast
was for the most part acquired not in the home but in
the world. Another lawyer of literary tastes, whose
premature death Pliny laments, was C. FANNIUS. He
had snatched some time from the toils of his profession
to write the ' Lives of the Victims of Nero.' Nine
books only had been written ; a singular dream had
warned him that he would not be permitted to add
any more. He had dreamt that he was lying on his
bed with his writing-desk before him, that Nero entered
the chamber, sat down upon the couch, opened the first
volume (this had been already published), and read it
to the end, did the same with the second and the
third, and then departed. Fannius, in his terror,
believed that he should write no more than the dead
tyrant had read, and the dream possibly did some-
thing to accomplish itself.

"We must now make distinct mention of a group of
accomplished foreigners, whom Pliny seems to have
regarded with the same respect and affection that he
showed to his Roman friends.

EUPHRATES was a Stoic philosopher, of Greek race,
born (for the accounts vary) in Egypt or Syria. It was
in the latter country that Pliny, then a young soldier,



72 PLINY'S LETTERS.

had made his acquaintance, and had been admitted to
his intimacy. The two met again in Borne, whither
the philosopher had removed, probably attracted by
the liberal patronage which the capital extended to
learning. His tall stature, his handsome countenance,
his long hair, and huge white beard, and an appearance
wholly free from that affectation of squalor in which
some of his brethren delighted, attracted favour before
he spoke, and his speech was singularly winning. He
discourses, says Pliny, with subtlety, with dignity,
with elegance; frequently he even gives to his lan-
guage all the fulness and richness of Plato. His
style is copious and varied, and remarkably winning,
so as to move and carry on with it even reluctant
hearers. The philosopher's position was strengthened
by his marriage with one of the most distinguished of
the Roman families settled in his native province.
Pliny mentions with praise the special care with
which he educated his children, and seems indeed
to have regarded him generally with the utmost affec-
tion and respect. " Why," he cries, " should I say
more of a man whose company I cannot enjoy ? Only,
surely, to vex myself the more because I cannot. I
am occupied by the duties of my office, a most im-
portant and a most troublesome one. I sit in front of
the tribunal ; I countersign documents ; I settle ac-
counts ; I write a vast amount of the most illiterate
literature." This " illiterate literature" reminds us of
Charles Lamb's allusion to the volumes which he had
left behind him in the India House. Euphrates
consoled his friend in a very sensible fashion. " It was



EUPHRATES ARTEMIDORUS. 73

a part," lie said, " nay, the most honourable part, of
philosophy, this discharge of public affairs, this hear-
ing and deciding of causes, this discovering and prac-
tising of justice, this actual using of what they, the
philosophers, taught." Euphrates is mentioned by
others of his contemporaries. Both Arrian, a pupil of
Epictetus, and author of the ' Expedition of Alexander,'
and the Emperor Aurelius Antoninus, speak in high
praise of his eloquence. Philostratus gives an account of
him in his ' Lives of the Sophists,' where he accuses him
of servility. He is said to have reached an advanced
age, and to have begged and obtained permission from
the Emperor Hadrian to put an end to his life.

ARTEMIDORUS was another Greek philosopher with
whom Pliny made acquaintance when he was serving
in Syria. He seems to have followed his friend to
Rome. Certainly he was in the capital when, in A.D.
93, Domitian banished the philosophers. Pliny was
one of the praetors for the year, and, though the reign
of terror had begun, though the storm had fallen with
especial violence on his circle of friends, and was
threatening himself, he stood manfully by his friend,
even venturing to visit him at the house which he occu-
pied in the suburbs. At the same time he rendered
him substantial service by the present of a large sum
of money. The philosopher had made himself liable
for a debt of considerable amount; and Pliny, who
had, he tells us, himself to borrow the money, fur-
nished him with the means of discharging it. When
the accession of Nerva brought happier times, Artemi-
dorus returned to Rome, and Pliny renewed his ac-



74 PLINY'S LETTERS.

quaintance with him. " Of all who call themselves
philosophers, you will scarcely," he says, " find more
than one or two so single-hearted and so true. I put
aside his marvellous endurance both of cold and of heat,
his industry, which no labours can tire, his indifference
to all the pleasures of eating and drinking, the control
which he exercises over his eyes and his thoughts.
These are great things, or might be in another man. In
him these are but of very little weight, compared with
those other virtues which made C. Musonius choose
him for his son-in-law out of suitors of all ranks."
Artemidorus, like Euphrates, had married into a
Roman family. His father-in-law, Musonius Rufus,
was an enthusiastic adherent of the Stoic philosophy
so enthusiastic, indeed, that he nearly met his end by
delivering an unseasonable lecture on his favourite
tenets to the combatants, when the troops of Vespasian,
under the command of Antonius Pronus, were forcing
their way into Rome against the desperate resistance
of the adherents of Vitellius. It perfectly suits his
character that he should have bestowed his daughter
on a man whom many would probably have despised
as a penniless scholar.

A third distinguished Greek, Is^ius, seems to have
been a visitor rather than a resident at Rome. " More
fluent than Isaeus" is Juvenal's description of the ready
speech which he mentions among the qualities of the
Greek adventurers who were thronging to the capital.
He seems to have been something of an improvisatore,
and Pliny gives a very admiring account * of his per-
* Epist. ii. 3.



75

formances. " I had heard a wonderful report of
Isseus before his coining ; "but it was not equal to the
reality. He possesses the utmost readiness, copious-
ness, and abundance of language ; speaks always ex-
tempore, yet always as if he had written his speech
long before. His style is genuinely Greek I may say,
Attic. His introductions are terse, elegant, attractive,
sometimes weighty in matter, and loftily conceived.
He suggests several themes, and permits his audience
to choose, doing this often without preparation. He
rises, arranges his cloak, and begins. At once he has
everything almost equally ready at hand. Meanings
that you never saw are suggested to you, and words
what words they are ! exquisitely chosen and polished.
The wideness of his reading, his great practice in
writing, are clearly shown in these unprepared displays.
His preface is to the point, his narrative is lucid, his
attack spirited, his summing up forcible, his rhetorical
ornament noble. In a word, he teaches, delights, and
affects you ; and you cannot decide which of the three
he does best. His reflections are frequent ; frequent,
too, his syllogisms, as well as condensed and carefully
finished no small merit to attain even in a written
style. His memory is beyond belief; he repeats from
far back what he has spoken extempore, and does not
miss a single word. Such is the habit of excellence
to which he has reached by study and practice, for
night and day he does nothing, hears nothing, says
nothing else. He has passed his sixtieth year, and is
still a scholar, and nothing more. Than this class of
men, indeed, I know nothing more single-hearted, more



76 PLINY'S LETTERS.

genuine, or more excellent. For we who have to go
through the rough work of the forum and of real dis-
putes contract something, however unwilling we may
be, of evil cleverness. The school, the lecture-room, the
imaginary case, the whole affair, in short, is innocent and
harmless, and quite as full of enjoyment, especially to
the old. For my part I think Isseus not only the most
eloquent but the happiest of men ; and you," he adds
to his correspondent, " unless you are anxious to make
his acquaintance, must be made of stone or iron."

In this literary and learned society Pliny found, it
is evident, a very keen and genuine enjoyment. We
must perhaps take with a certain reservation his
lamentations over the distraction of business, public
and private, which kept him from the learned leisure
in which he delighted. He was fond, it is evident, of
the distinction which was given by office ; he rejoiced
in the triumphs which he won, and which he does not
fail to describe to his correspondents, in the courts
of law. Nevertheless he really loved literature. He
combined indeed, with no little success, the character
of a man of letters, a patron, and a critic. Of his
authorship we speak elsewhere. His patronage was
shown, as we have seen, in substantial help to authors.
Such help was, of course, but a small matter to a man
of wealth so large. There was more of real value in
the genuine sympathy which he felt with their produc-
tions a sympathy the want of which has often made
offensive the liberality of the most munificent patron.
He was always ready with advice and encouragement,
and made it a special duty to be present at the public



PLINY AS PATRON AND CRITIC. 77

readings, to be described in the next chapter. This
help was of a kind which no mere man of wealth
could give. Pliny's countenance and approval, as
a man of wide culture and genuine taste, must
have been highly valued. His criticism, indeed,
we can hardly help thinking, as we read the high
compliments which he pays to the authors whom he
mentions, must have been of a very kindly character.
Yet in the cases where we are able to compare his
literary opinion of contemporary writers the true
test, it is almost needless to say, of critical sagacity
with the verdict of succeeding tune, we find him to
have been right. He dismisses with a very few words
of modified praise the tedious heroics of Silius Italicus,
while he recognises the wit and brilliance which have
given Martial the first place among epigrammatists,
and fully appreciated in Tacitus the solid qualities of tho
greatest of Eoman historians. And in more than one of
his letters, where he deals with general literary topics,
the soundness of his judgment is evident. Nothing, for
instance, could be more judicious than the literary ad-
vice which he gives in the following letter:* "You
ask me what I think should be your method of study
in the retirement which you have been now for some
time enjoying. As useful as anything, as it is fre-
quently recommended, is the practice of translating
either your Greek into Latin, or your Latin into Greek.
By practising this you acquire propriety and dignity of
expression, an abundant choice of the beauties of style,
power in description, and in the imitation of the best
* Epist. vii. 9.



78 PLINY'S LETTERS.

models a facility of creating such models for yourself.
Besides, what may escape you when you read, cannot
escape you when you translate. From this follows a
quick appreciation of beauty and sound taste. There
is no reason why you should not write about the sub-
jects which you have been already reading, keeping to
the same matter and line of argument, as if you were a
rival; should then compare it with what you have read,
and carefully consider whether the author has been the
happier of the two, and wherefore. You may congratu-
late yourself much if sometimes you have done better,
but should be much ashamed if he is always superior.
Sometimes you may select even very famous passages,
and compete with what you select. The competition
is daring enough, but, as it is private, cannot be called
impudent. Sometimes you can go over a speech again,
when it has passed from your memory, retaining much,
omitting more, inserting some things, and rewriting
others. This is, I know, a laborious and tedious task,
but its very difficulties make it useful ; so hard is it
to work one's self up again into the old heat, to recover
the energy which has once suffered break or interrup-
tion, and, worse than all, to put new limbs into a body
already complete without disturbing the old.
Sometimes you should take a subject from history, and
you might give more care to the composition of your
letters. In speaking, you will often find a necessity
for passages of description in the style of history nay,
even in that of poetry. From letters you acquire a
simple and terse style. You will do quite right again
in refreshing yourself with poetry ; I do not say with



THE PLEASURES OF LITERATURE. 79

any long and continuous work, but with, something
neat and short a most appropriate variety in occupa-
tion and business of whatever kind. . . . Perhaps I
have given you more than you wanted. Yet I have
left out one point. I have not told you what I think
you should read ; though, indeed, I did tell you
when I told you what you should write. Remember
to be careful in your choice of authors of every kind.
They say that one ought to read much, but not many
books."

There is sound sense in all this ; and in the follow-
ing letter, with which this chapter may be concluded,
we have a genuine expression of feeling :

" I find my joy and my solace in literature. There
is no gladness that this cannot increase, no sorrow that
it cannot lessen. Troubled as I am by the ill-health of
my wife, by the dangerous condition sometimes, alas !
by the death of my friends, I fly to my studies as the
one alleviation of my fears. They do me this service
they make me understand my troubles better, and bear
them more patiently. It is my custom, whatever I
purpose to publish, previously to try by the judgment
of my friends, of whom you stand among the first.
Pray give your best attention to the book which you
will receive with this letter, for I fear that I, in my
sorrow, have scarcely given mine to it. I eould so
far command my grief as to write ; not so far as to
write with an unoccupied and cheerful mind. Cer-
tainly there is a pleasure in these pursuits, but they
themselves prosper best when the heart is light."
* Epist. viii. 19.



CHAPTEE VII.

PUBLIC READINGS.

WE shall be much mistaken if we form our ideas of
the supply of books in Eome from what we know of
the scarcity and costliness of this article in the age
that intervened between the fall of the Empire and the
invention of printing, or perhaps it should rather be
said, the revival of learning. In medieval Europe, and
more particularly among the Northern nations, manu-
scripts were among the rarest of the possessions of the
wealthy. The sale of them was negotiated with as
much solemnity as was the sale of an estate ; the most
solid security was exacted when they were lent. A
score of them constituted a library such as individuals
or even corporations were proud to possess. But in
this, as in other matters, European civilisation had
greatly retrograded from what it was during the first
centuries of the Christian era. In the days of Pliny,
at least, as we know from the express testimony of a
contemporary,* copies of popular books were produced

* Martial tells a friend that a book which he had lately pub-
lished ("a slender book," he calls it ; it might be printed in



PUBLIC READINGS. 81

in great numbers, and at a very cheap rate. But while
this proves both that there existed a considerable class
of readers, and that the mechanical means of satisfying
their demand were to be found in much completeness,
it is easy enough to see that there was nothing like
the thoroughly - organised system of communication
between the writer and the public that has been
created in modern times. It is not to be forgotten
though this, of course, is not the chief thing to be
considered that the manuscript was less attractive,
less handy, and, in short, less readable, than the
printed book. An ordinary Roman could, of course,
peruse with ease what it now takes a practised scholar
to decipher ; but it is impossible not to believe that
something was wanting to the pleasure of the reader
when there was no distinction in the size of letters, no
separation between words, and none of the perpetual
help of punctuation. More important, however, was
the question of publishing.

This now is a process sufficiently simple and easy.
There is a large class of men whose business it is to
introduce an author to his readers. The competi-
tion between them is so keen that probably no book
of merit, a few exceptional cases allowed for, fails to
obtain an introduction to the world. Such facilities,
if they were not altogether wanting to the literary men

about thirty -two pages of the volume which the reader has in
his hands) could be purchased for four sesterces (about equivalent
to tenpence in our money); and that if this price seemed too high,
a cheaper copy might be procured for half that price, "and
yet," he adds, " the bookseller will get a profit."

A. C. VOL XI. F



82 PLINY'S LETTERS.

of Rome, were certainly not so fully developed. There
were, indeed, booksellers both there and in the chief
provincial cities. The poet Horace has preserved the
name of a firm " Sosii Brothers," as we should put it
who were the most eminent of their class in his time ;
and one of the passages in which he speaks of them
may possibly be understood as meaning that they were
accustomed to purchase works from authors as pub-
lishers now purchase a copyright. " Such a book,"
he says, speaking of one which possesses certain ex-
cellences, "earns money from the Sosii," a phrase,
however, which might be used if these Sosii were
merely booksellers, and paid over to the author the
money which they had received. " Booksellers "
(bibliopolce) they are certainly called ; and though they
may have sometimes acted the part of publishers, and
probably did so in arranging for the copying of books,
and the ornamentation of the copies, it is quite clear
that an intending author did not find matters made so
simple and easy as, by the organisation of the trade in
books, they now are. To put the matter shortly, there
was no market in which the value of his wares might
be readily appraised. The want of this compelled
him to appeal directly to the public which he wished
to address. He had to learn from the opinion of a
larger circle than that of his immediate friends, whether
his book was worth publishing a process which, we
must remember, was difficult and costly ; and, in the
event of a favourable judgment, he wished to make
the intended publication known as widely as possible.
To gain these objects, he would " recite " or read his



PUBLIC READINGS. 83

compositions in public. "We do not hear of the prac-
tice in the days of the Republic, when men were, we
may suppose, too busy for such things ; but both
Horace and Ovid speak of it, and the allusions become
more frequent when we come to the time of Pliny
and his contemporaries. The method of proceeding
may be described in a few words. The first care was to
provide some place capable of holding a large audience.
Sometimes, in the case, we may suppose, of writers
who had already acquired a reputation, the temple of
Apollo, the public library of Eome, was obtained for
the purpose. Sometimes a convenient room had to be
hired. But an author, if his own house did not con-
tain the necessary accommodation, was generally able
to find a wealthy friend or patron who would supply
what was wanted. Pliny mentions with praise one of
his friends, Titinius Capito, as always ready to lend
his house for this purpose. " If you want to recite,"
cries Juvenal, u Maculonus will lend you his house, will
range his freedmen on the furthest benches, and will
put in the proper places his strong-lunged friends ;
but he will not give what it costs to hire the benches,
and to set up the galleries, and to fill the stage with
chairs." The author's next care, we thus learn, after
finding his room, was to fit it with seats for his
audience; the chairs, we may presume, being meant,
like those which fill the platform at our own public
meetings, for distinguished personages or private
friends, while the benches accommodated the general
public. For himself, the reader provided a high chair
and desk ; sometimes he sought to commend himself



84 PLINY'S LETTERS.

to his listeners by adorning his person with unusual
splendour. It is not uncommon among ourselves to
see a lecturer, a reader, or even a preacher, seeking to
attract his hearers by the brilliancy of a diamond ring,
or setting himself off to the best advantage by carefully-
combed hair and a new coat ; but we are taken at once
into a totally different sphere of manners when we read
that the reciter would sometimes put a gay-coloured
hood on his head, bandages on his ears, and a woollen
comforter round his neck. It still remained to secure
an audience. The author, if he was a man of wealth
and position, might reckon with certainty on a consid-
erable number of hearers, of whose presence, and even
of whose applause, he might be sure. The freedmen,
whose obligation to their patrons was, notwithstanding
their manumission, of no slight kind, and the whole
crowd of clients, some of them men whom we are sur-
prised to find in a position seemingly so humiliating,
who were accustomed to pay him their court, and to
receive from his hands the dole which acknowledged
their service, would be sure to attend, and would
scarcely fail to be unanimous in their judgment of
the performance. If he was indebted to a patron for
a room, the loan would include, as we have seen, the
use of the accustomed body of claqueurs. A city like
Rome would be sure to furnish a number of listeners,
some of them, of course, mere idlers, who were willing
to kill the time by listening to a poem, a play, or
a history, if there was no chariot -race or show of
gladiators to be seen ; some doubtless in the case of
a man of note, many who were attracted by a genuine



PUBLIC READINGS. 85

interest in literature. Around the reader was the
array of his personal friends, whose attendance, indeed,
on these occasions was one of the chief, and some-
times, it may he "believed, one of the most laborious
duties which society demanded from men of good posi-
tion at Rome. " I must beg you to excuse me this
particular day," writes Pliny to a friend. " Titinius
Capito means to give a reading, and I cannot say
whether I am more bound or more desirous to hear
him. ... He lends his house to readers; and,
whether the reading be at his own home or elsewhere,
he shows a remarkable kindness in making himself
one of the audience : me certainly he has never failed,
whenever he has happened to be in town." We
have here a hint of what indeed must on reflection
be sufficiently obvious, that the demand made by
these readings on the time of a busy man, or a man
of many friends, and made in many cases by writers
of very moderate talent, was felt to be exceedingly
onerous. Horace complains of the " troublesome
reader," from whom learned and unlearned alike fled in
terror, and who bored to death the luckless listeners
who could not escape from him; and Juvenal, in his
first Satire, apologetically introduces himself to the
public by declaring that he could not always be a lis-
tener, " wearied as he had so often been by the ' The-
seid' of the hoarse Codrus;" the epithet "hoarse"
suggesting with significant force the length of the poem
which the audience had to endure. We must remem-
ber, indeed, that a man of education at Rome had not
his literary appetite satiated with the abundance of



86 PLINY'S LETTERS.

reading which constitutes one of the most serious bur-
dens of modern life. Books, if not positively scarce,
did not crowd upon him in overwhelming numbers ;
and the " light troops " of literature magazines and
pamphlets and newspapers were altogether unknown.


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