aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Pliny the Younger, Letters 10.33

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One of the many queries sent to Trajan by Pliny concerning the administration of his province.

C. Plinius Traiano Imperatori.

cum diversam partem provinciae circumirem, Nicomediae vastissimum incendium multas privatorum domos et duo publica opera, quamquam via interiacente, Gerusian et Iseon absumpsit. est autem latius sparsum, primum violentia venti, deinde inertia hominum quos satis constat otiosos et immobiles tanti mali spectatores perstitisse; et alioqui nullus usquam in publico sipo, nulla hama, nullum denique instrumentum ad incendia compescenda. et haec quidem, ut iam praecepi, parabuntur; tu, domine, dispice an instituendum putes collegium fabrorum dumtaxat hominum CL. ego attendam, ne quis nisi faber recipiatur neve iure concesso in aliud utantur; nec erit difficile custodire tam paucos.

Gaius Pliny to the Emperor Trajan.

While I was touring a different part of the province, a very extensive fire at Nicomedia consumed many private citizens’ homes and two public buildings, the senate-house and the temple of Isis, even though a street lay between them. It spread more widely at first because of the force of the wind, then because of the sluggishness of the people who, it is clear, stood around as lazy and immobile spectators of such a great calamity. Furthermore there was no fire-engine or water-bucket anywhere for public use, or in fact any instrument for extinguishing fires. These things, however, will be got ready, as I have now directed; as for you, master, consider whether you think a company of workmen [i.e. a fire brigade] should be established, of no more than 150 men. I shall take care that no one except a workman shall be admitted, and that they shall not use the privilege they have been granted for any other purpose. It will not be difficult to keep an eye on so few.

Written by aleatorclassicus

September 14, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Pliny the Younger

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