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Satires, that there could not have been such a thing
as pure and happy family -life in Eome; and it is
refreshing to correct such an impression by turning to
the picture that we get in these letters, and to feel
assured that, in the darkest and worst times, there
were homes such as we know our English homes to be,
kind masters whose hearts the curse of slavery had
not hardened, single-minded friends, pure women, and
faithful husbands. Of Pliny's father we know abso-
lutely nothing. His mother appears once only in the
letters describing the eruption of Vesuvius though she
is not unfrequently alluded to. "What we read there
is enough to satisfy us that there was a strong affection
between the mother and the son. We also learn that
she was somewhat infirm, and we may gather from his
language here and elsewhere that she was not alive at
the time (97-107) to which the Letters are to be as-
cribed. That Pliny had married some time previous
to the year A.D. 96, we learn from the fact that he
then held a sacred office which involved marriage, and
from his own statement, that that year the year, it
will be remembered, of the accession of Nerva found
him suffering from a recent bereavement in the loss
of his wife. He makes no other mention of this lady.
"We do not even know her name. His second wife,
Calpurnia, is comparatively well known to us. We



HIS WIFE. 103

cannot do better than let the reader see the letter,*
written, it would seem, not long after marriage, in
which he describes her good qualities to her aunt,
Calpurnia Hispulla, herself an old friend of the Pliny
family, who had had the charge of her education :

" It is because you are a model of family affections,
because you loved, as well as he loved you, that most
excellent and affectionate brother of yours, and still
love his daughter, showing to her the affection not only
of an aunt, but also of her dead father, I am sure that
you will feel the greatest joy in knowing that she is
proving herself worthy of her father, worthy of you,
worthy of her grandfather. Her intelligence is very
great, very great her frugality ; in loving me she shows
how good a heart she has. And she has now a fond-
ness for letters which springs from her affection for
me. She keeps my books by her, loves to read them,
even learns them by heart. How anxious she is when
she sees that I am going to speak, how delighted when
I have spoken ! She takes care to have messengers to
let her know how far I have convinced, how often
moved my audience to applaud, and what has been the
result of the trial. If ever I give a reading, she sits
close by, separated from the audience by a curtain,
and drinks in my praises with the greediest ears. She
sings and sets to the harp my verses ; and it is not
any professor who teaches her, but love, who is the
best of masters. These things make me feel a most
certain hope that there will be a perpetual and ever-
growing harmony between us. For it is not youth or
* Epist. iv. 19.



104 PLINY'S LETTERS.

personal beauty that she loves in me things that by
degrees decline with old age but my fame. This is
exactly what becomes one brought up by your hands,
and instructed by your teaching one who can never
have seen anything in your companionship but what
was pure and honourable, and who learnt to love me
from your descriptions. It was you, you who used to
look upon my mother as upon a parent, you who
trained me from early boyhood, you who praised me,
you who predicted that I should be the man that now
I appear to be. So we vie with each other in thanking
you I for your having given her to me, she for your
having given me to her; for we seem each to have
chosen the other."

To Calpurnia herself we find addressed three charm-
ing love-letters* from her husband, which we shall not
apologise for giving entire :

" I have never complained more than now of my
occupations, which did not allow me to accompany you
when you were going into Campania to recruit your
health, or even to be quick in following you. I am at
this time especially anxious to be with you, to learn
from my own eyes whether you are growing stronger
and stouter, and whether you make your way through
these luxurious and pleasure-seeking regions without
meeting anything to annoy you. Were you quite well, I
could not have you away from me without some appre-
hension. There is a certain fear and anxiety in know-
ing nothing for a time about her whom one loves most
ardently. As it is, when I consider both my own absence
* Epist. vi. 4 ; vi. 7 ; vii. 5$



HIS WIFE. 105

and your feeble health, I am grievously troubled by
vague and various anxieties. I dread everything, fancy
everything, and, as is natural to those who fear, con-
jure up the very things that I most dread. I entreat
you, therefore, the more earnestly, to do what you can
for my fears, by writing once, nay, even twice, a-day.
I shall be more at ease while I am reading your
letters, though when I have read them, I shall imme-
diately feel my fears again."

" You write that you are no little troubled by my
absence, and find your only solace in making my
books take my place, and setting them where I ought
to be. I am glad that you miss me ; I am glad that
you find some rest in these alleviations. For my part,
I read and re-read your letters, taking them up in my
hands many times, as though they were newly come ;
but this only stirs in me a keener longing for you.
What sweetness must there be in the talk of one
whose letters contain so much that pleases ! Write,
nevertheless, as often as you can, though this, while it
delights, still tortures me."

" You will not believe what a longing for you pos-
sesses me. The chief cause of this is my love ; and
then we have not grown used to be apart. So it
comes to pass that I spend a great part of the night in
a wakefulness that dwells on your image; and that by
day, when the hours return at which I was wont to
visit you, my feet take me, as is so truly said, to your
chamber ; and that at last, sick and sad at heart, like a



106 PLINY'S LETTERS.

lover whom his mistress shuts out, I depart from the
empty threshold. The only time that is free from
these torments is when I am being worn out by the
business of the courts and the suits of my friends.
Judge you what must be my life when I find my re-
pose in toil, my solace in wretchedness and anxiety."

This wife Pliny nearly lost by a dangerous illness,
brought on by a miscarriage. She seems, however, to
have recovered her health, for she was with him dur-
ing his two years' stay in his provincial government.
It was apparently about the end of that period when
she was summoned to Italy by the death of her
grandfather. Pliny, in one of his letters to the Em-
peror, excuses himself for having given his wife a
diploma (a sort of free pass, entitling the bearer to use
horses and carriages belonging to the state). He had
never before, he says, given one except on the Em-
peror's affairs ; but his wife had heard of the death of
her grandfather, and wished to make all haste she
could to join her aunt (the Calpurnia Hispulla before
mentioned), and he had given her the document with-
out waiting for the Emperor's sanction, which, indeed,
could not have been given till it was too late to be of
use. Trajan's answer is, as we should expect, kind and
approving.

It would seem that Pliny had no children that is,
if we may argue from the absence of any allusion of
the kind in the Letters, except, indeed, when he writes
to Calpurnia's aunt and to her grandfather about the
disappointment which he and his wife had experi-
enced. " You cannot desire " (he writes to the old



CALPURNIUS FABATUS. 107

man, his father-in-law's father, or prosocer, as the
Latin conveniently expresses it) "great-grandchildren
more eagerly than I desire children children to whom.
I seem likely to leave an easy road to honour, both
on your side and on mine a name that is widely
known, and a nobility of no new origin. The gods
grant that they may be born, and change this sorrow
of ours into joy." We should hardly have failed to
hear if their hopes had been fulfilled. Childlessness
was common, as we may gather from many indications,
among the upper class of Romans.

Calpurnia's father had died many years before her
marriage. Her grandfather, Calpurnius Fabatus, sur-
vived, as we have seen, to the year 105. He must
have been then a very old man, as more than forty
years before, in the days of Nero, he had had a narrow
escape from a charge brought against him by one of
the informers of the time. He was, it appears, a
native, or, at all events, an inhabitant of Comum,
and therefore a fellow-townsman of Pliny. We also
find that he was a man of wealth. We have a let-
ter congratulating him on having dedicated, in the
name of himself and of his son (who was then dead),
a very handsome chapel in Comum,- and in having
promised a further sum of money for the ornamentation
of the gates. In another letter Pliny sends his com-
pliments to the old man on the occasion of his birth-
day, and takes the opportunity of telling him that he
had inspected a villa of his in Campania. A third
letter, written, like the others, in a very affectionate
tone, promises an early visit on the part of Pliny and



108 PLINY'S LETTERS.

his wife. This letter will be found at the close of
the next chapter.

The subject of Pliny's family must not be dismissed
without a brief mention of the humbler members of it,
the freedmen and slaves, for whom he seems to have
entertained a kindly feeling which was not always
found in Eoman masters, and which he does not de-
scribe without something of apology in his tone. " I
know," he says, writing to a friend, " how mildly you
rule your household, and so will more frankly confess
to you how indulgently I treat my own people." These
words are the introduction to a letter which he writes
on behalf of his freedman, Zosimus. Zosimus, who
was of Greek extraction descended, one may guess,
through more than one generation of slaves, from the
inhabitant of some luckless Greek city which had
taken the wrong side in the civil wars was an accom-
plished man, with a special gift for comic acting. He
had suffered from hemorrhage, brought on by the
exercise of his art, and had been sent by his master,
or, we should rather say, patron, into Egypt. From
this country he had returned apparently restored in
health, but exertion had brought on a partial relapse.
Pliny writes to his friend Paullinus to request that the
invalid might be allowed to take up his abode for a
time on an estate which the latter possessed at Forum
Julii (now Frejus, in the Eiviera). It is interesting
to see the Eoman using the same sanatoria as are now
in request among consumptive patients. Another
noteworthy point is an arrangement which the letter
suggests, almost as a matter of course, by which Zosi-



HIS FREEDMEN AND SLAVES. 109

mus was to be quartered at the expense of Paullinus or
his tenants. " Will you," it runs, " give direction
to your people to let him have the use of your house
and buildings, and to furnish him with supplies if he
wants anything. A physician he certainly will want.
I will give him, when he sets out, a sum for travelling
expenses sufficient to carry him to your place."

Another letter speaks so well for the writer's kind-
ness of heart, that we shall give it entire.*

" I am much troubled by illnesses, and, alas ! by
deaths, among my own people, some of them quite
young men. I have two consolations, not equal indeed
to so great a sorrow, yet consolations still. One is my
willingness to give them their freedom. I count myself
to have lost, not altogether before their tune, those who
were free when I lost them. The other is, that I allow
even my slaves to make what may be called wills, and
that I treat them as valid. They leave such injunctions
and requests as they think fit ; I obey as one who fol-
lows command. They share, they give, they leave what
they possess, so long as they do it within the family, t
To the slave, indeed, the family is a sort of common-
wealth, so to speak, or country. Though I seek to be
satisfied with these consolations, still I am overcome ;
I am overpowered by the same human feeling which
has led me to grant this indulgence, yet I would not
wish to become harder. I know, indeed, that others
speak of misfortunes of this kind as being nothing

* Epist. viii. 16.

fThe "family," in Eoman parlance, included the whole
household, bond or free.



110 PLINY'S LETTERS.

more than a loss of property, and think themselves, on
the strength of it, great and wise men. Great and wise
they may be I cannot tell; but men they are not. To
be touched by grief to feel it, but fight against it ;
to make use of consolations, not to be above the need
of them this is what becomes a man."

Pliny's FRIENDS were a numerous company, and it
must suffice to notice a few of the most prominent. Of
the men of letters we have already spoken. Among
the rest, VERGINIUS EUPUS, who had acted as joint
guardian with his uncle, stands foremost.

His name occurs several times in the History of
Tacitus. His life was long and eventful. During the
last year of Nero's reign he commanded the Eoman
army in Lower Germany, and in the confusion which
followed on the revolt of Vindex, the soldiers wished
to make him emperor. He refused, on the ground that
it was for the senate and not for the army to name
Nero's successor. Soon after, on Otho's death, the
same offer was pressed on him by the soldiers, and a
second time declined. This brought him into peril ;
the capricious soldiery, in their disappointment, accused
him of a conspiracy against Vitellius, and insisted on his
being put to death. The danger was happily escaped,
and this great man lived to A.D. 97, the second year of
Nerva's reign, and died as consul for the third time at
the age of eighty-three. We have in the following
letter* an account of the circumstances of his death
and of his funeral :

* Epist. ii. 1.



VERGINIUS RUFUS. HI



FLINT TO VOCONIUS ROMANUS.

" Rome lias not for many years beheld a grander and
more memorable sight than the public funeral of Ver-
ginius Rufus, a most illustrious man, and as fortunate
as he was illustrious. He lived thirty years after he had
reached the zenith of his fame. He read poems about
himself, and histories of his achievements ; he, in fact,
lived to see his fame with an after-generation. He
was three times consul, thus rising to be the highest of
subjects, after having refused to be an emperor. The
Caesars, who suspected and hated his virtues, he outlived,
and has left behind him this best of emperors, this friend
of all mankind. One would think Providence had
spared him that he might receive the honour of a pub-
lic funeral He died in his eighty-fourth year, in the
most perfect calm, reverenced by all. He had enjoyed
strong health, with the exception of a trembling in his
hands, which, however, gave him no pain. His last ill-
ness, indeed, was severe and tedious, but its circum-
stances added to his reputation. He was one day prac-
tising his voice with the view of delivering a speech of
thanks to the Emperor for having promoted him to tho
consulship, and had taken in his hand a large volume,
which was rather too heavy for an old man to hold as
he stood up. It slipped from his grasp, and in hastily
trying to recover it, his foot slipped on the smooth
pavement; he fell and broke his thigh-bone, which,
being badly set (his age being against him), did not
properly unite. His funeral obsequies have done
honour to the Emperor, to the age, and to the bar.



112 PLINY'S LETTERS.

Cornelius Tacitus, as consul, pronounced over him the
funeral oration. His good fortune was crowned by
having so eloquent a speaker to celebrate his praises.
He died, indeed, full of years and of glory, famous even
from honours which he had refused. Still our world
must always sadly miss him, as an example of a past
age ; and for myself, I must peculiarly feel his loss, for
I not only admired him. as a patriot, but loved him as
a friend. We came from the same part, and from
neighbouring towns, and our estates joined each other.
Besides all this, he was left my guardian, and treated
me with a parent's affection. Whenever I was a can-
didate for office he supported me with his interest, and
though he had long since given up all such services to
friends, he would leave his retirement and give me his
vote in person. On the day on which the priests no-
minate such as they think most worthy of the sacred
office, he always proposed me. Even in his last illness,
when he thought he might possibly be appointed by
the senate one of the five commissioners for reducing
the public expenses, he fixed upon me, young as I was,
to make his excuses, in preference to many other friends
of superior age and rank. He even said to me, ' Had
I a son of my own I would intrust you with this
matter.'

" And so I must lament his death, as though it were
premature, and pour out my grief into your bosom, if
indeed it is right to lament over him, or to use the
word death of an event which to such a man termin-
ates his mortality rather than ends his life. He lives,
and will live for ever, and his name will be more



VESTR1CIUS SPURINNA. 113

widely celebrated in the recollection of posterity now
that he is taken from our sight. I had much else to
write to you, but my mind is wholly absorbed in these
thoughts. Verginius is ever present to my imagina-
tion, and even to my eyes. I am ever fondly imagin-
ing that I hear him, converse with him, embrace him.
"We have perhaps, and still shall have, citizens equal
to him in virtue ; none, I feel sure, in renown. Fare-
well"

]S"ext to Verginius Rufus comes another soldier, VES-
TRICIUS SPURINNA. Spurinna had made his reputation
in the wars of a former generation, when he distinguished
himself by his brilliant defence of Placentia, which he
held in the interest of Otho against the ViteUianist
general Caecina. It was nearly thirty years after this
that Trajan, a prince not likely to choose for such ser-
vice a commander who had lost anything of his vigour,
put him in command of an army that was intended to
operate against the Bructeri, a German tribe. The
object of the campaign, which was to restore a native
prince, was effected without recourse to actual hostilities.
A statue, habited in the robe of triumph, was voted to
Spurinna by the senate, and a similar honour was
paid to his son, whom he had lost while absent from
Eome. Of this son Pliny wrote a memoir, which we
find him sending, with a graceful letter of condolence,
to the father and mother. There is another letter
addressed by Pliny to Spurinna, in which he tells
him how Calpurnius Piso, grandson probably of the
luckless man whom Galba adopted three days before

A. c. vol. xi. H



114 PLINY'S LETTJERS.

his death, had acquitted himself in writing some poem.
" I write the more speedily," he says, " because I
know how well disposed you are to all honourable
pursuits, and how it delights you to find young men
of noble race doing something worthy of their ances-
tors." The aged general was indeed an accomplished
and cultivated man ; nor would it be easy to find in
literature a more pleasant picture than Pliny, who had
just returned from a visit to his old friend, gives of his
life in retirement.*

[We take the translation of Dean Merivale, in his
' History of the Romans under the Empire,' vol. vii.
p. 326, 327.]

" I know not that I ever passed a pleasanter time
than lately with Spurinna. There is indeed no man
I should so much wish to resemble in my own old age,
if I am permitted to grow old. Nothing can be finer
than such a mode of life. For my part I like a well-
ordered course of life, particularly in old men, just as
I admire the regular order of the stars. Some amount
of irregularity, and even of confusion, is not unbecom-
ing in youth ; but everything should be regular and
methodical with old men, who are too late for labour,
and in whom ambition would be indecent. This regu-
larity Spurinna strictly observes, and his occupations,
trifling as they are (trifling, that is, were they not per-
formed day by day continually), he repeats as it were
in a circle. At dawn he keeps his bed, at seven he
asks for his slippers ; he then walks just three miles,
exercising his mind at the same time with his limbs.
* Epist. iiL L



VESTRIC1US SPURINNA. 115

If friends are by, he discourses seriously with, them if
not, he hears a book read ; and so he sometimes does
even when friends are present, if it be not disagreeable
to them. He then seats himself, and more reading
follows, or more conversation, which he likes better.
By-and-by he mounts his carriage, taking with him
his wife, a most admirable woman, or some friends as
myself, for instance, the other day. What a noble,
what a charming tete-a-tete! how much talk of an-
cient things ! what deeds, what men you hear of !
what noble precepts you imbibe, though indeed he
refrains from all appearance of teaching ! Returning
from a seven-mile drive, he walks again one mile ;
then sits down or reclines with a pen in his hand,
for he composes lyrical pieces with elegance both
in Greek and Latin. Very soft, sweet, and merry
they are, and their charm is enhanced by the decorum
of the author's, own habits. When the hour of the
bath is announced that is, at two in summer, at three
in winter he strips and takes a turn in the sun,
if there is no wind. Then he uses strong exercise for
a considerable space at tennis, for this is the discipline
with which he struggles against old age. After the
bath he takes his place at table, but puts off eating for
a time, listening in the meanwhile to a little light and
pleasant reading. All this time his friends are free to
do as he does, or anything else they please. Dinner
is then served, elegant and moderate, on plain but
ancient silver. He uses Corinthian bronzes, too, and
admires without being foolishly addicted to them.
Players are often introduced between the courses, that



116 PLINY'S LETTERS.

the pleasures of the mind may give a relish to those
of the palate. He trenches a little on the night even
in summer ; but no one finds the time tire, such are
his kindness and urbanity throughout. Hence now,
at the age of seventy-seven, he both hears and sees per-
fectly ; hence his frame is active and vigorous ; he has
nothing but old age to remind him to take care of him-
self. Such is the mode of life to which I look forward for
myself, and on which I will enter with delight as soon
as advancing years allow me to effect a retreat. Mean-
while I am harassed by a thousand troubles, in which
Spurinna is my consolation, as he has ever been my
example. For he, too, as long as it became him, dis-
charged duties, bore offices, governed provinces j and
great was the labour by which he earned his relaxation."
Another among the older friends of Pliny was
CORELLIUS EUFUS. One of the earliest of the letters
describes his death; others speak in affectionate terms
of the intimate friendship which, in spite of the dis-
parity of age, had always existed between the two, and
of the great services which the elder had rendered to
the younger friend. " Our age," says Pliny, writing
to a friend who had asked him to plead the cause of
Corellius's daughter, " has seen no nobler man, none
of purer life, none of keener intellect. He was one
whom, when my admiration for him grew into affection,
I admired the more, the more thoroughly I knew him
scarcely, you know, what usually happens." Through-
out his public life, in seeking office and in discharging
its duties, Corellius had always been at his side.
" The conversation," he writes, " once happened to



CORELLIUS RUFUS. 117

turn in Nerva's presence on young men of worth.
Many were speaking in high praise of me ; for a while
he kept the silence which helped to give such weight
to his words. At last, with that serious air which you
know, he said, ' I must be moderate in praising
Secundus, for he never acts hut by my advice.' " The
circumstances of his death were peculiarly painful.
We quote the letter * in which Pliny describes them,
and again avail ourselves of Dean Merivale's trans-
lation of the passage :

" I have just suffered a great loss. My friend
Corellius Rufus is dead, and by his own act, which
imbitters my sorrow. No death is so much to be
lamented as one that comes not in the course of fate
or nature. Corellius indeed was led to this resolve


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