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In that little place there are three public baths, a very
great convenience, in case my friends come in unex-
pectedly, and my bath is not ready heated and pre-
pared. The whole coast is prettily studded with
detached villas or rows of villas, which, whether you
view them from the sea or the shore, look like a collec-
tion of towns. The strand is sometimes, after a long
calm, perfectly smooth, though in general, by the
storms driving the waves upon it, it is rough and
uneven. I cannot say that we have any very fine fish,
but we get excellent soles and prawns. As to other
kinds of provisions, my house is better off than those
which are inland, especially as to milk, for the cattle
come here in great numbers to seek water and shade."

Pliny had no estate or park of any extent round his
Laurentine house. In this respect his Tuscan villa
contrasts advantageously with it. It was here that he
liked to spend the summer months, as he did a great
part of the winter at Laurentum.

His description of his Tuscan seat is equally minute
as the preceding. We give portions of it.


" I sincerely thank you for your kind concern in
* Epist. v. 6.


trying to dissuade me from passing the summer on my
Tuscan property, under the impression that it is an
unhealthy part. It is quite true that the air of the
coast is unwholesome, hut my house is at a distance
from the sea, under one of the Apennines which are
singularly healthy. But, to relieve you from all
anxiety on my account, I will describe to you the
climate and character of the country, and the lovely
situation of my house. I am sure you will read the
description with as much pleasure as I shall give it.

" The air in winter is sharp and frosty, so that
myrtles and olives, and trees which delight in warmth,
will not grow there. The laurel thrives, and is
remarkably beautiful, though now and then it is killed
by the cold not, however, oftener than at Eome.
The summers are very temperate, and there is always
a refreshing breeze, seldom high winds. To this I
attribute the number of old men. If you were to see
the grandfathers and great-grandfathers, and hear
their stories about their ancestors, you would fancy
yourself born in some former age.

" The character of the country is very beautiful.
Picture to yourself an immense amphitheatre, such as
only nature could create. Before you lies a broad
plain, bounded by a range of mountains whose sum-
mits are covered with tall and ancient woods, which
are stocked with all kinds of game for hunting. The
lower slopes of the mountains are planted with un-
derwood, among which are a number of little risings
with a rich soil, on which hardly a stone is to be
found. In fruitfulness they are quite equal to a


valley, and produce as good crops, though not so early
in the year. Below these, on the mountain-side, is a
continuous stretch of vineyards, terminated by a belt
of shrubs. Then you have meadows and the open
plain. The arable land is so stiff that it is necessary
to go over it nine times with the biggest oxen and
the strongest ploughs. The meadows are bright with
flowers, and produce trefoil and other kinds of herbage
as fine and tender as if it were but just sprung up.
All the soil is refreshed with never- failing streams,
but though there is plenty of water, there are no
marshes ; for as the ground is on a slope, all the water
which is not absorbed runs off into the Tiber.

" This river winds through the midst of the meadows.
It is navigable only in winter and in spring, and then
conveys the produce of the neighbourhood to Eome.
In summer it shrinks to nothing, and leaves the name
of a great river to an almost empty channel. In
autumn it again claims its title.

" You would be charmed by taking a view of the
country from one of the neighbouring mountains.
You would fancy that you were looking on the ima-
ginary landscape of a first-rate artist ; such a harmo-
nious variety of beautiful objects meets the eye wher-
ever it turns.

" My house commands as good a view as if it stood
on the brow of the hill. You approach it by so grad-
ual a rise that you find yourself on high ground with-
out perceiving that you have been making an ascent.
Behind, but at a considerable distance, is the Apen-
nine range, from which, on the calmest days, we get


cool breezes. There is nothing sharp or cutting about
them, as the distance is sufficient to break their
violence. The greater part of the house has a south-
ern aspect, and enjoys the afternoon sun in summer,
and gets it rather earlier in winter. It is fronted by
a broad and proportionately long colonnade, which has
a porch of antique fashion, and in front of this colon-
nade is a terrace edged with box and shrubs cut into
different shapes. From the terrace you descend by an
easy slope to a lawn, and on each side of the descent
are figures of animals in box facing each other. You
then come to a shrubbery formed of the soft, I had
almost said, the liquid acanthus. Eound this runs a
walk, shut in by evergreens shaped into every variety
of form. Beyond this is a riding-ring, like a circus,
which goes round the box-hedge and the dwarf-trees
which are cut close."

The remainder of the letter is occupied with a very
detailed description of the plan and arrangement of
the house. Pliny, as he says, had made up his mind
to take his friend into every nook and corner of it.
"We find that everything was on a splendid and luxuri-
ous scale. There are summer and winter rooms, bath
and dining rooms, a tennis-court, a carriage-drive, and
a hippodrome or place for horse exercise, alcoves of
marble in the gardens, shaded with vines, and foun-
tains and little rills in all directions. The garden
seems to have been laid out in a somewhat stiff and
formal manner; there was, however, it seems, an
attempt to introduce into it an imitation of the wild


beauty of nature. It appears that the practice of
cutting trees into regular shapes came into fashion
among the Romans in the time of Augustus. In this
garden of Pliny's Tuscan villa we find it to be a very
prominent feature. We find, too, the plane-tree fre-
quently mentioned, as well as the cypress and the box.
Pliny says he had a special affection for this villa and
its surroundings, as they were designed by himself.
It was natural that he should take great pleasure in
describing it at length. " You will hardly," he says
to his friend, " think it a trouble to read the descrip-
tion of a place which I am persuaded would charm you
were you to see it." Towards the close of this long
letter he hints that he had villas at Tusculum, Tibur,
Praeneste, all names familiar to persons acquainted
with Latin literature. Of these villas he tells us no-
thing, except that he did not like them so much as his
Tuscan seat. He had also, as we have mentioned,
some villas on the margin of the Lake of Como. Two
of these, which were his especial favourites, he play-
fully called " Tragedy" and " Comedy." In the follow-
ing letter the names are explained.


" I am glad to find by your letter that you have
begun to build. I may now shelter myself under your
example. I am myself building, and as I have you
on my side, I have reason too. We are also alike in
another respect : you are building by the sea, I am

* Epist. ix. 7.


building by Lake Larius. I have several villas on the
border of this lake, but there are two in which I take
most delight, and which chiefly occupy my attention.
They are situated like the houses at Baiae ; one of
them stands on a rock, and commands a view of the
lake; the other is close to the water. I call one
* Tragedy,' because it is supported, as it were, by the
high buskin ; the other ' Comedy,' as resting on the
humble sock. Each has its own peculiar beauties,
which, from their very difference, are all the more
pleasing to their owner. One has a nearer view of the
lake ; the other commands a wider prospect over it.
The first is built along the bend of a little bay ; the
latter is on a cliff which runs out so as to form two
bays. Here you have a straight walk, extending along
the banks of the lake ; there a spacious terrace, that
falls towards it by a gentle descent. The former does
not feel the force of the waves, the latter breaks them;
from one you see people fishing below, from the other
you may fish yourself, and almost throw your line
from your chamber, as you lie in bed, as well as if you
were in a boat. It is the beauties these villas possess
which tempt me to add to them those which are want-
ing. But why should I give you a reason when I
know that you will think it a sufficient one that I am
following your example? Farewell."

The following letter tells us how Pliny occasionally
played the part of the benevolent patron in a thoroughly
modern fashion. It reminds us of a church-opening,
and of the luncheon which commonly succeeds it :



" You have long been wishing to see your grand-
daughter and myself. We are equally anxious to see
you, and are determined to delay the pleasure no
longer ; indeed we are actually packing up, and mean
to set off as soon as the state of the roads will permit.
"We shall stop only once, and that for a short time.
We must turn a little out of the way to go to my
Tuscan property not to look after the estate (for that
might be postponed), but to perform an indispensable
duty. Near my property is a town called Tifernum-
on-Tiber, which put itself under my patronage when I
was a mere boy, thus showing an affection for me as
strong as it was undeserved. The people always cele-
brate my arrival with public rejoicings, express sorrow
when I leave them, and are delighted whenever they
hear of my preferment to office. To show my gratitude
to them (for it is a shame to be outdone in friendly
feeling) I built them a temple at my own expense, and
as it is finished, it would be a sort of impiety to delay
its consecration any longer. We shall be there on the
day fixed for the ceremony, and I intend to celebrate
it with a public banquet. Perhaps we may stay there
the next day, but in that case we shall make all the
more haste in our journey. May we have the hap-
piness to find you and your daughter in good health,
for I am sure we shall find you in good spirits if we
arrive safely. Farewell."

* Epist. iv. 1.



IN.A.D. 103, the sixth year of Trajan's reign, Pliny was
appointed governor of the provinces known as Bithynia
and Pontus, or Pontica, as it was also called. He bore
the title of Legatus and Propraetor, and he had the
consular power. He had, in short, the highest rank
and position with which a Roman governor could be
invested. It would seem that he did not actually
arrive in his province till the middle of the September
of the year. He landed after a pleasant voyage at
Ephesus, and thence had a rather tiresome and dis-
agreeable journey during excessive heat to Pergamos,
where he stopped a while. His health, never very
strong, had been shaken by a serious illness in the
preceding year. His life, he tells the Emperor in one
of his letters, had been in danger, and he availed him-
self of a mode of treatment which we may presume was
much in fashion at the time. He procured the services
of a medical practitioner who cured many of his patients
by the simple process of rubbing and anointing. So
much good did he derive from the remedy prescribed,


that, with the gratitude which he always felt for a
kindness, he asked the Emperor to grant to the physi-
cian, who was probably either a Jew or a Greek, the
freedom of the city of Alexandria, and also the privi-
leges of Eoman citizenship. His province was an
important one. Its administration at this particular
time required tact and ability. It contained several
considerable towns, to the prosperity of which, it would
appear, the imperial government had greatly contri-
buted. Some of them, as Neocaesareia, or Mcasa, where
the famous ecclesiastical council was held in A.D. 314,
were of comparatively recent origin. There were also
the free cities of Chalcedon, Nicomedeia, Amisus, and
Trapezus, and the colonies of Heracleia and Sinope.
The district had the elements of wealth ; parts of it,
especially towards the coast, were extremely produc-
tive ; and it had iron mines. Its population must
have been of a very mixed character, with Greek ideas
and civilisation diffused throughout it. And in Pliny's
time, as we shall see, Christianity had gained a strong
hold on the people, and was a fact of the highest

Pliny had unquestionably many both of the moral
and intellectual qualities which go to make a good and
wise ruler. He had carefully cultivated a habit of
sympathy, and his tendency was to be as gentle and
merciful as possible. He was, as we should say, thor-
oughly tolerant and liberal. He was particularly fond
of everything* Greek ; and, as we have seen, he especi-
ally delighted in the society of Greek rhetoricians and
philosophers. In the following letter his love and


admiration of Greece and its culture are strikingly
displayed. Like a well-known letter of Cicero to his
brother Quintus, it is a letter of advice to a friend
who was about to enter on the government of Achaia,
and had already earned credit as the governor of


" My friendship for you constrains me, I will not
say to give you directions (for you do not require
them), but to remind you of what you already know,
so that you may put it in practice, and even know it
more thoroughly. Consider that you are sent to the
province of Achaia, that true and genuine Greece,
whence civilisation, literature, even agriculture, are
believed to have taken their origin, sent to regulate
the condition of free cities, whose inhabitants are men
in the best sense of the word free men of the noblest
kind, inasmuch as they have maintained the freedom
which nature gives as a right, by their virtues, by
their good actions, and by the securities of alliance
and solemn obligation. Eevere the gods who founded
their state ; revere the glory of their ancient days, even
that old age itself, which, as in men it claims respect,
is in cities altogether sacred. Honour their old tradi-
tions, their great deeds, even their legends. Grant
to every one his full dignity, freedom yes, and the
indulgence of his vanity. Keep ever before you the
fact that it was this land which gave us our laws gave
them to us, not as a conquered people, but at our own
* Epist. viii. 24.


request. It is Athens, remember, to which you go,
it is Lacedaemon you will have to govern ; and to take
from such states the shadow and the surviving name
of liberty would be a cruel and barbarous act. You
see that physicians treat the free with more tenderness
than slaves, though their disorder may be the same.
Eemember what each of these states has been, but so
remember as not to despise them for being no longer
what they were. Show no pride or arrogance; and
yet do not be afraid that you will fall into contempt.
Can he who is invested with power, and has the
insignia of authority, be despised, unless he first shows
that he despises himself by being mean and avaricious?
Power is ill proved by insult ; ill can terror command
respect ; far more efficacious is love in procuring sub-
mission than fear. Terror vanishes with your absence,
while love remains ; the former turns to hatred, the
latter to reverence. You must therefore again and
again call to mind the meaning of your title, and make
yourself fully understand what a great work is the
government of free cities. For what can be better for
society than such government; what can be more
precious than freedom? Again, what could be more
shameful than to turn the first into anarchy, the last
into slavery ? "

"We may be pretty sure that Pliny tried to govern
his province on the principles here laid down. From
his correspondence with Trajan, he would seem to have
combined kindness with energy. A Eoman governor
had very great powers, and a very wide latitude given


him. He commanded the army, and he had to hear
and decide causes. He had to impose the taxes, and
take care that they were collected. Much, one would
suppose, must have been left to the governor's dis-
cretion. Pliny's letters to Trajan, however, do not
bear out this impression. He would appear to have
thought that he was not justified in dealing with the
most ordinary matters without appealing to the Em-
peror. Very possibly this may have been the general
tone of a Eoman governor at this time. Pliny, how-
ever, carried it so far that we think he must have been
wanting in that self-reliance without which a man
cannot be even a subordinate of the highest order.
Trajan, no doubt, liked and esteemed Pliny ; yet on
one occasion he gives him a gentle reproof. The
people of Mcaea had undertaken to build a theatre ;
and when 80,000 had been spent, it was found that
the walls were cracked from top to bottom, either from
the foundation being laid on marshy ground, or from
the bad quality of the stones. Pliny asks the Em-
peror whether in his opinion the work should be
finished, or entirely abandoned. This seems to imply
a very strict system of imperialism, or such a question
would have been utterly absurd. The Emperor hints
very plainly that Pliny must decide for himself.
" You are on the spot," he says in his answer, " and
are the best person to consider and determine what
had better be done in the matter." The town of
Mcaea, it would appear, did not manage its affairs very
well. Pliny tells us in the same letter that it was
rebuilding, on an enlarged plan, a gymnasium which
A. c. vol. xi. K


had been burnt down before his arrival in the province.
They had already incurred a considerable, and, as it
turned out, a useless expense. The structure was not
only very irregular and ill arranged, but a second
architect who had been called in, and who was a rival
of the original architect, declared that the walls, though
they were twenty -two feet thick, were not strong
enough to support the fabric, not having been properly
cemented. It seems strange that Pliny should write
to the Emperor about such details. The explanation
is to be sought in the fact, that a grant from the
imperial treasury was occasionally made to supplement
the deficiencies of local resources. Trajan in his reply
shows the contempt of a soldier for the trifling amuse-
ments of the Greeks. " These paltry Greeks, I know,
are extravagantly fond of gymnastic diversions ; and
therefore, perhaps, the citizens of Nicsea have planned
a more magnificent building for this purpose than is
necessary. However, they must be contented with such
as will be sufficient to answer the use for which it is

Only a very few of Pliny's letters to Trajan refer to
matters of great interest or importance. In one he
recommends a friend with a testimonial to the Emperor;
in another he explains some slight deviation from ordi-
nary routine ; in by far the larger number he writes
about purely local matters, which, with our ideas, it
would seem almost an impertinence to refer to a ruler
who was many hundred miles distant. One of them
is interesting as an illustration of the extreme jealousy
of Roman imperialism, and its dread of anything like


secret societies. It reminds us of our trades-unions
and working men's associations. A destructive fire
had broken out in the city of Mcomedeia, and the
people, instead of trying to extinguish it, looked on as
idle and indifferent spectators. There were no engines
or buckets at hand no means, in short, of putting a
stop to the fire. It occurred to Pliny that it would
be advisable to form an association of firemen, limited
however to 150 members. This very moderate pro-
posal does not commend itself to the Emperor. In his
reply he tells Pliny that it is to be remembered that
such societies have greatly disturbed the peace of the
province. " Whatever name we give them," he says,
" and for whatever purpose they may be established,
they are sure to become factious combinations, however
short their meetings may be."

From another of Pliny's letters it appears that the
people of this same town were as careless in their
management of public money as those of Mcaea. They
had spent a great sum on an aqueduct, and left it so
unfinished that it actually fell to pieces. The same
fate attended a second attempt, so that the town after
a vast expenditure was still without water. Pliny
tells the Emperor that he has himself visited a spring
from which the water can be brought, and that the
work can be constructed with the old materials, but
that it is really of the first importance that they should
have an architect from Rome to superintend the affair,
and guarantee them against a recurrence of failure.
" The usefulness and greatness of the work," he adds,
"is fully worthy of your reign." Trajan's reply is


short and to the point. He tells Pliny that he ought
to find out whose fault it is that so much money has
been thrown away; and he plainly hints that the
jobbery of the townspeople among themselves has been
the cause of the disaster.

Trajan's reign, as we know, was a great time for the
construction of aqueducts, and several of Pliny's letters
concern this subject The inhabitants of the colony
of Sinope were badly off for water, and it could only
be conveyed into the town from a distance of sixteen
miles. Pliny consults the Emperor, and tells him that
he believes the money can be raised on the spot, if he,
the Emperor, is willing to concede such an indulgence
to the thirsty townspeople. Trajan's reply is favour-
able ; the work, he says, will conduce to the health
and beauty of the place. Public baths, too, were much
in request at this time, and no town was thought to be
complete without them. This was a matter which
Pliny referred to the Emperor. The people of Prusa
wanted new baths, and Pliny found that there was a
very eligible site in a spot now occupied by the ruins
of what had been a noble mansion. Part of it, it
seemed, had been designed by the owner to be a temple
in honour of the Emperor Claudius ; the remainder was
to be leased out for the benefit of the town- Pliny
suggests that the entire site had better be given or sold
to the town, and public baths constructed on it. Tra-
jan's answer shows that he was not without religious
scruples. " You have not," he says, " distinctly told
me whether a temple to Claudius was actually erected
on the spot ; if so, though it has fallen down, the soil


on which it stood is still sacred." We have an amus-
ing instance of a sanitary matter being brought by
Pliny under the Emperor's notice. A town, by name
Amastria, had, among many other beauties, a remark-
ably fine street of great length, by the side of which
there ran what was dignified with the name of a river,
but what was in reality a nasty sewer, as foul to the
sight as it was to the smell. Pliny thought it neces-
sary to tell Trajan that it ought to be covered up, and
that this should be done if the Emperor would sanc-
tion the necessary expenditure. If all Eoman gover-
nors referred such matters to the Emperor, centralisa-
tion must have been carried to a preposterous extent.
Trajan's objection to so simple a thing as the forma-
tion of a kind of fire brigade, gives us a clue to the gene-
ral attitude of imperialism towards the most important
phenomenon of the age. Christianity, indeed, had
now become a fact which could not escape the notice
of an observant ruler, and towards which no one pene-
trated with the true spirit of Roman policy could pre-
serve a friendly or even an indifferent attitude. For
Roman tolerance, though in one sense very wide, was
yet restricted by well-defined limits. To every con-
quered country it accorded the right of worshipping,
without molestation, its: own gods. In legal language,
each national faith became " a lawful religion " (religio
lidta). But this religion might, strictly speaking, be
practised only within its natural limits. To this rule
there were, of course, large exceptions. It would have
been a great hardship on a Roman subject, pursuing

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