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by the force of reason, which holds with philoso-
phers the place of necessity, although he had many
motives for living a good conscience, a high repu-
tation and influence, not to mention a daughter, a
wife, a grandson, sisters, and true friends besides.
Eut he was tortured by so protracted a malady that
his reasons for death outweighed all these advantages.
In his thirty-third year, as I have heard him declare,
he was attacked by gout in his feet.t The disease
was hereditary with him. In the vigour of life he had
checked it by sobriety and restraint ; when it grew
worse with increasing years, he had borne it with
fortitude and patience. I visited him one day, in

* Epist 1 12.

t We have here taken the liberty of altering Dean Merivale's
rendering.



118 PLINY'S LETTERS.

Domitian's time, and found him in the greatest suffer-
ing, for the disease had spread from the feet all through
his limbs. His slaves quitted the room, for such was
their habit whenever an intimate friend came to see
him ; and such was also his wife's practice, though
she could have kept any secret. After casting his
eyes around, he said, ' Why do you suppose it is I con-
tinue so long to endure these torments? I would
survive the ruffian (meaning Domitian) just one day.'
Had his body been as strong as his mind, this wish
he would have effected with his own hand. God
granted it, however ; and when he felt that he should
die a free man, he burst through all the lesser ties
which bound him to life. The malady which he had
tried so long to relieve by temperance still increased.
At last his firmness gave way. Two, three, four days
passed, and he had refused all food. His wife, His-
pulla, sent our friend Geminius to me, with the mel-
ancholy news that her husband had resolved to die,
and would not be dissuaded by her prayers or her
daughter's ; I alone could prevail upon him. I flew
to him. I had almost reached the spot, when Atticus
met me from Hispulla to say that even I could not
now prevail, so fixed had become his determination.
To his physician, indeed, on food being offered him,
he had said, ' I have decided ; ' an expression which
makes me the more regret him, as I the more admire
him. I think to myself, What a friend, what a man
I have lost ! He had completed, indeed, his sixty-
seventh year, an advanced age even for the strongest.
Yes, I know it. He has escaped from his long-



JUNIUS MAURICUS. 119

protracted illness. I know it. He has died, leaving
his dearest friends behind him, and the state, which
was still dearer to him, in prosperity. This, too, I know.
Nevertheless I lament his death, no less than if he
were young and vigorous. I lament it do not think
me weak in saying so on my own account. For I
have lost yes, I have lost a witness of my own life,
a guide, a master. In short, I will say to you, as I
said to my friend Calvisius, I fear I shall myself live
more carelessly for the future."

Another of his friends was JUNIUS MAURICUS, the
brother of Arulenus Busticus, who, as Tacitus tells us
at the beginning of his Life of Agricola, had been put
to death under Domitian for writing a panegyric on
Psetus Thrasea. "We," says the historian, speaking
of his brother senators in one of the closing chapters,
in which he briefly and powerfully sketches the last
three terrible years of Domitian's reign, " we parted
the two brothers;" the one being murdered, the other
driven into exile. The banishment of Mauricus is
alluded to in a letter already given about the informer
Eegulus.* He returned from exile in the year of Nerva's
accession; and though only three of Pliny's extant
letters are addressed to him, he was, it is clear, one of
his intimate and valued friends. From one of these
letters it appears that he had asked Pliny to look out
for a husband for his brother's daughter ; another is a
reply to the request that he would choose a tutor for
his brother's children. In these letters Pliny implies
that he himself owed much to the brother, who was
P. 52.



120 PLINY'S LETTERS.

one of the many victims of the reign of terror, and that
he was prepared to undertake the somewhat invidious
task of making a selection. Pliny says he never knew
a firmer or a more outspoken man than Mauricus. The
praise would seem to have been well deserved. Tacitus
tells us that he put a singularly bold question to
Domitian on the occasion of his father's accession to
the throne. It was Domitian's first appearance in the
senate, and Mauricus then and there publicly asked him
to submit to the House the papers of the late emperors,
so that they might see for themselves who had laid in-
formations, and who were the subjects of those informa-
tions. The Emperor, Domitian replied, must be con-
sulted in so importanta matter; and the motion was thus
evaded. We have already had occasion to allude to an
instance of the truthfulness and candour of Mauricus
when he was once dining with the Emperor !Nerva.
Pliny mentions another. There was a celebration of
games, with the usual gymnastic contests, at Vienna, in
Gaul, which one of Pliny's friends, who held an im-
portant office in the town, contrived -to get abolished.
It was said that he had done this without the authority
of the townspeople ; and when brought to trial, as it
would appear, before the senate, he pleaded his cause
himself, and carried with him the sympathies of the
audience. When the verdict had to she pronounced,
and it came to the turn of Mauricus to pronounce
judgment, he gave it as his opinion that the games in
question ought not to be repeated at Vienna ; and he
added the audacious and unpopular sentiment that he
wished they could be abolished at Rome.



VOCON1US ROM ANUS. 121

Several of Pliny's letters are addressed to VOCONIUS
ROMANUS. "We know nothing of him but what Pliny
tells us. He was evidently one of his best and dearest
friends. His father was a Eoman knight, and his
mother came from one of the provinces of Spain.
Pliny and he had been fellow-students ; they had, no
doubt, heard the same lectures at Eome, and had ac-
quired similar tastes. Voconius was preparing hims.elf
for the bar, and became, according to Pliny, an admir-
able pleader. He is spoken of in the highest terms
in a letter in which Pliny recommends him to the
notice of Priscus, who was, it appears, in the command
of a large army, and would have plenty of patronage
at his disposal. Pliny says of him, " My friend is a
charming talker, and has, besides, a particularly sweet
expression of countenance. He has, too, ability of the
highest order ; he has a piercing and refined intellect,
ready for its work at a moment's notice ; he is a learned
lawyer; he writes such admirable letters that you
would think the Muses themselves must speak in
Latin. I love him as much as it is possible for one
friend to love another, and his love for me is the same."
Pliny asks for his friend a great favour of the Emperor
Trajan, which we may presume was granted. He begs
that he may be raised to the highest rank in the state,
and be made a senator.

A singularly pathetic letter it happens, naturally
enough, that we hear most of the friends whom Pliny
lost describes the character of a younger man, Junius
Avitus, to whom Pliny had rendered much the same ser-
vice that he had himself received from Corellius Rufus;



122 PL f NY'S LETTERS.

and who, after having won golden opinions both in a
short military career and as praetor under more than one
provincial governor, had died suddenly, immediately
after completing his canvass for the sedileship. But of
all the letters of the kind, there is nothing more touch-
ing than the following : *

" I have the saddest news to tell you. Our friend
Fundanus has lost his younger daughter. I never saw
a girl more cheerful, more lovable, more worthy of long
life nay, of immortality. She had not yet completed
her fourteenth year, and she had already the prudence
of an old woman, the gravity of a matron, and still, with
all maidenly modesty, the sweetness of a girl. How she
would cling to her father's neck ! how affectionately and
discreetly she would greet us, her father's friends ! how
she loved her nurses, her attendants, her teachers,
every one according to his service ! How earnestly,
how intelligently, she used to read ! How modest was
she and restrained in her sports ! And with what
self-restraint, what patience nay, what courage she
bore her last illness ! She obeyed the physicians, en-
couraged her father and sister, and when all strength
of body had left her, kept herself alive by the vigour
of her mind. This vigour lasted to the very end, and
was not broken by the length of her illness or by the
fear of death ; so leaving, alas ! to us yet more and
weightier reasons for our grief and our regret. Oh
the sadness, the bitterness of that death ! Oh the
cruelty of the time when we lost her, worse even than
* Epist. v. 16.



THE DAUGHTER OF FUNDANUS. 123

the loss itself ! She had been betrothed to a noble
youth ; the marriage-day had been fixed, and we had
been invited. How great a joy changed into how great
a sorrow ! I cannot express in words how it went to
my heart when I heard Fundanus himself (this is one
of the grievous experiences of sorrow) giving orders
that what he had meant to lay out on dresses, and
pearls, and jewels, should be spent on incense,
unguents, and spices."



CHAPTER X.

COUNTRY LIFE PLINY*S VILLAS.

PUNY, like all the rich men of his time, lived much in
the country. He thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated
the charms of rural scenery, and his descriptions of it
have a"bout them the tone of modern sentiment. As
we read them, we seem to be on the threshold of our
own times. There is, we feel, a distinct link between
our own tastes and those of a Eoman who could dwell
with pleasure on the beauties of a landscape. The
Eoman of the upper class, no doubt, had always been
fond of country life, and was in many respects not
unlike an English squire ; but it would seem that the
sort of sentimental, and, so to speak, artistic feeling
about the country which is so familiar to us, was spe-
cially developed under the Empire, and exhibited itself
in the literature of the Silver age.

In the following letter Pliny contrasts life in Eome
with life in the country :

PLINY TO MINUTIUS FUNDANUS.*

" When one considers how the time passes at Eome,
* Epist. i. 9.



COUNTRY LIFE. 125

one cannot but be surprised that, take any single day,
and it either is or seems to be spent reasonably enough;
and yet, upon casting up the whole sum, the amount
will appear quite otherwise. Ask any of your friends
what he has been doing to-day 1 he will tell you, per-
haps, ' I have been paying a visit to a friend on the
occasion of his son's coming of age ; I have had an
invitation to a wedding ; I have had to witness the
signature of a will ; I was asked to attend the hearing
of a cause; I was called in to a consultation.' All
these duties seem very important while you are en-
gaged in them ; yet, when you reflect at your leisure
that every day has been thus employed, you feel them
to be mere trifles. Then you think to yourself how
many of your days have been spent in a dull dreary
routine. This is my own case when I retire to my
house at Laurentum for a little quiet reading and
writing, and for; the bodily rest which freshens up the
mind. Then I hear nothing and say nothing for
which I have reason to be sorry ; no one talks scandal
to me, and I find fault with nobody, except myself,
when I cannot compose to my satisfaction. There
I am free from the anxieties of hope and fear; no
rumours worry me ; my books and my thoughts are
my only companions. True and genuine life, sweet
and honourable repose, nobler than any sort of occu-
pation ! sea and shore, true scene for study and
contemplation, with how many thoughts do you in-
spire me ! My friend, do you too take the first oppor-
tunity of leaving the bustle of Eome, with its idle
pursuits and laborious trifles, and give yourself up to



126 PLINY'S LETTERS.

study or to repose. ' It is better,' as my friend Atilius
has said, with as much wit as wisdom, ' to have noth-
ing to do than to be doing nothing.' Farewell."

Horace complains in very much the same way of a city
life, and of the infinite boredom which so often attends
it. "As soon as I came," he says, " to the gardens of
Maecenas at Rome, a hundred suitors leap out and
pounce upon me, and annoy me with endless solicita-
tions." Some of the very same particular troubles are
mentioned by the poet as are alluded to by Pliny.

In the following letter we see the delight which
Pliny took in beautiful scenery. It is a description
of the source of the Clitumnus and the surrounding
country. The Clitumnus was a little river in Umbria,
and a tributary of the Tiber. It was known as the
Timia or Tinia during the last nine or ten miles of its
course. Virgil speaks of the singularly white cattle
which were pastured on its banks. It flowed through
a rich valley bounded on either side by the Apen-
nines. It would appear that the picturesqueness of
the scenery about its source attracted a number of
visitors. Clitunno is its modern name; Spoleto and
Foligno are in its immediate neighbourhood.

PLINY TO ROMANUS.*

" Have you ever seen the source of the Clitumnus ?
I suppose not, as I never heard you mention it. Let
me advise you to go there at once. I have just seen
it, and am sorry I put off my visit so long.
* Epist. iii. 8.



COUNTRY LIFE. 127

" At the foot of a little hill, covered with old and
shady cypress-trees, gushes out a spring, which bursts
out into a number of streamlets, all of different sizes.
Having struggled, so to speak, out of its confinement,
it opens out into a broad basin, so clear and trans-
parent that you may count the pebbles and little
pieces of money which are thrown into it. From this
point the force and weight of the water, rather than
the slope of the ground, hurries it onward. What was
a mere fountain becomes a noble river, wide enough to
allow vessels to pass each other, as they sail with or
against the stream. The current is so strong, though
the ground is level, that large barges, as they go down
the river, do not require the assistance of oars ; while
to go up it is as much as can possibly be done with
oars and long poles. When you sail up and down for
amusement, the ease of going down the stream and the
labour of returning make a pleasant variety. The
banks are clothed with an abundance of ash and poplar,
which are so distinctly reflected in the clear water that
they seem to be growing at the bottom of the river,
and can be easily counted. The water is as cold as
snow, and its colour the same. Near it stands an
ancient and venerable temple, in which is a statue of
the river-god Clitumnus, clothed in the usual robe of
state. The oracles here delivered attest the presence
of the deity. In the immediate neighbourhood are
several little chapels, dedicated to particular gods, each
of whom has his distinctive name and special worship,
and is the tutelary deity of a fountain. For, besides
the principal spring, which is, as it were, the parent of



128 PLINY'S LETTERS.

all the rest, there are several smaller springs which have
a distinct source, but which unite their waters with the
Clitumnus, over which a bridge is thrown, separating
the sacred part of the river from that which is open to
general use. Above the bridge you may only go in a
boat ; below it, you may swim. The people of the
town of Hispellum, to whom Augustus gave this place,
furnish baths and lodgings at the public expense.
There are several little houses on the banks, in the
specially picturesque situations, and they are quite close
to the water. In short, everything in the neighbour-
hood will give you pleasure. You may also amuse
yourself with numberless inscriptions on the pillars and
walls, celebrating the praises of the stream and of its
tutelary divinity. Many of these you will admire, and
some will make you laugh. But no ; you are too
cultivated a person to laugh on such an occasion.
Farewell"

Lord Orrery, who published a translation of the
Letters early in the last century, in some observations on
this letter, says that it reminds us of St "Winifred's Well
in Wales. The old temple of Clitumnus may be com-
pared with the chapel of St Winifred, and the honours
paid to the Italian god bear a resemblance to the mir-
aculous powers popularly attributed to the old British
saint.

When in the country, Pliny used to indulge in the
fashionable country sports, though we should think
they were not quite to his taste. Possibly his phy-
sical strength was hardly equal to the exertion which



COUNTRY LIFE. 129

they required. There is a decided touch of affectation
in the following letter to his friend Tacitus, in which
he tells him how he contrived to do literary work in
the hunting-field. As Lord Orrery remarks, a thorough-
bred fox-hunter would at once conclude that Pliny
had no real heart for field-sports.

PLINY TO TACITUS.*

" You will laugh, and laugh you may. Your old
friend, whom you know so well, has captured three
magnificent boars. What ! Pliny ? you will say. Yes,
Pliny; without, however, abandoning my indolent
habits and love of repose. The nets were spread, and
I sat close to them, but instead of a boar-spear or
javelin, I was armed with my pen and my note-book.
I mused, and put down my thoughts on paper, for
T had made up my mind that if I had to return with
my hands empty, my note-book should be full. There
is no reason why you should despise this way of study-
ing. You cannot conceive how much bodily exercise
contributes to enliven the imagination. Besides, the
solitude of the woods around you, and the perfect
silence which is observed in hunting, strongly in-
clines the mind to thought. For the future, when
you go hunting, let me advise you to take with
you your papers, as well as a basket of provisions
and a bottle of wine. You will then find that Min-
erva haunts the mountains quite as much as Diana.
Farewell."

* Epist. i. 6.

A. C. vol. xi. I



130 PLINY'S LETTERS.

But perhaps the most interesting and important of
Pliny's letters in connection with country life are those
in which he describes his country houses, of which he
had several. Of the two principal he gives us a very
elaborate account, to which we are indebted for most
of our knowledge about the character of a Roman villa.
One of these was close to Ostia, about seventeen miles
from Rome, facing the Tyrrhenian Sea. This Pliny calls
his Laurentine, Laurentum having been the old legen-
dary capital of Latium, and having given its name to
a considerable strip of the western coast of Italy, in
the neighbourhood of the mouth of the Tiber. It is
not possible to identify the site of Pliny's villa, as
might be expected from a circumstance which he him-
self tells us, that his own was only one of a great num-
ber of villas on this part of the coast. Its moderate
distance from Rome made it just the place which a
rich and hard-working man would select for a country
seat. Pliny tells us he could transact his business in
Rome, and arrive comfortably at his villa on the even-
ing of the same day. His other principal country
mansion was on a larger scale, and at a much greater
distance from Rome. He always calls it his Tuscan
villa. It was under the Apennine range, and the Tiber
flowed through the adjacent meadows. The great Ro-
man houses, at all events in the country, seem to have
consisted of but one storey. We subjoin considerable
portions of the letters in which Pliny describes his
Laurentine and Tuscan villas. They are too long to
be inserted in full.



HIS LAURENTINE VILLA. 131

PUNY TO GALLUS.*

" You wonder why I am so extremely fond of my
house at Laurentum. You will wonder no longer when
I make you acquainted with its attractiveness, the
advantages of its situation, and the extent of shore on
which it stands."

*****

" It is but seventeen miles from Eome, so that I can
pass my evening here without breaking in upon the
business of the day. There are two roads to it; if
you go by that of Laurentum you must turn off at
the fourteenth milestone if by that of Ostia, at the
eleventh. Both are rather sandy, which makes them
heavy for a carriage, but easy and pleasant if you go
on horseback. You have a variety of landscape; some-
times your view is shut in by woods, then again it
opens out into broad meadows, where numberless flocks
of sheep and herds of cattle, which the inclemency of
winter has driven from the mountains, grow fat and
sleek during the warmth of spring in the rich pasturage,

" My house is for use, not for show. You first
enter a courtyard, plain and simple without being
mean, and then pass into a colonnade in the shape of
the letter D, the space enclosed by which looks bright
and cheerful. Here one has a capital place of retreat
in bad weather, for there are windows all round it,
and it is sheltered by a projection on the roof. Oppo-
site the middle of the colonnade is a very pleasant
inner court, which leads into a handsome dining-room
* Epist. ii. 17.



132 PLINY'S LETTERS.

running out to the sea-shore. When the wind is in
the south-west, its walls are gently washed by the
waves which break at its foot. The room has fold-
ing-doors, or windows as large as doors, and from these
you might imagine you see three different seas. From
another point you look through the colonnade into the
court, and see the mountains in the distance. To the
left of the dining-room, a little further from the sea, is
a spacious sitting-room, within that a smaller room,
one side of which gets the morning and the other the
afternoon sun. This I make my winter snuggery.
Then comes a room, the windows of which are so
arranged that they secure the sun for us during the
whole day. In its walls is a bookcase for such works
as can never be read too often."

Then follows a description of the bed -rooms,
dressing-rooms, bath-rooms, &c., which were all on an
elaborate scale. There were both hot and cold baths,
and a warming-apparatus. There was also a tennis -
court, warmed by the afternoon sun, at the end of
which was a sort of tower. This, unlike the rest of
the house, appears to have been built in storeys, and
the highest storey was for the express purpose of
enjoying an extensive prospect.

" The garden is chiefly planted with fig and mul-
berry trees, to which this soil is peculiarly favourable.
Here is a dining-room, which, though it is at a dis-
tance from the sea, commands a prospect no less plea-
sant. Behind this room are two apartments, the



SIS LAURENTINE VILLA. 133

windows of which look out on the entrance to the
house, and to a well-stocked kitchen-garden. You
then enter a sort of cloister, which you might suppose
built for public use. It has a range of windows on
each side ; in fair weather we open all of them ; if it
blows, we shut those on the exposed side, and are
perfectly sheltered. In front of this colonnade is a
terrace, fragrant with the scent of violets, and warmed
by the reflection of the sun from the portico. We
find this a very pleasant place in winter, and still more
so in summer, for then it throws a shade on the terrace
during the forenoon, while in the afternoon we can
walk under its shade in the place of exercise, or in
the adjoining part of the garden. The portico is
coolest when the sun's rays strike perpendicularly on
its roof. By setting open the windows, the soft west-
ern breezes have a free draught, and so the air is never
close and oppressive."

One of the rooms was so contrived, that Pliny
says, when he was in it, he seemed to be at a distance
from his own house ; and on the occasion of the feast
of the Saturnalia, which gave his domestics and ser-
vants full licence to make as much noise as they liked,
he found this a particularly convenient retreat.

The letter concludes with a brief description of the
neighbourhood.

"Amid the conveniences and attractions of the
place, there is one drawback ; we want running water.
However, we have wells, or rather springs, at our com-
mand. Such is the extraordinary nature of the ground,
that in whatever part you dig, as soon as you have



134 PLINY'S LETTERS.

turned up the surface of the soil, you meet with a
spring of perfectly pure water, altogether free from
any salt taste. The neighbouring woods supply us
with fuel in abundance, and all kinds of provisions
may be had from Ostia, A man with few and simple
wants might get all he required from the next village.


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