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Pliny the Younger, Letters 1.15

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C. Plinius Septicio Claro suo s.

heus tu! promittis ad cenam, nec venis. dicitur ius; ad assem impendium reddes nec id modicum. paratae erant lactucae singulae, cochleae ternae, ova bina, halica cum mulso et nive (nam hanc quoque computabis, immo hanc in primis, quae perit in ferculo), olivae, betacei, cucurbitae, bulbi, alia mille non minus lauta. audisses comoedum vel lectorem vel lyristen vel, quae mea liberalitas, omnes. at tu apud nescio quem ostrea, vulvas, echinos, Gaditanas maluisti. dabis poenas, non dico quas. dure fecisti; invidisti, nescio an tibi, certe mihi, sed tamen et tibi. quantum nos lusissemus, risissemus, studuissemus! potes apparatius coenare apud multos, nusquam hilarius, simplicius, incautius. in summa experire et, nisi postea te aliis potius excusaveris, mihi semper excuse. vale.

Gaius Pliny to his Septicius Clarus, greeting.

Hey, you! You promise to come to dinner, then you don’t come! Your sentence has been handed down: to the last penny you must reimburse my expenditure (and it’s not small). For each guest I had had a lettuce prepared, three snails, two eggs, spelt mixed with honey and snow (and you will also add this to the account, in fact making it the main thing, since it melts in the dish), olives, beetroots, cucumbers, onions, and a thousand other things no less sumptuous. You would have listened to a comedian or a reciter or a lyre-player or – such is my generosity – all of them. But you preferred to have oysters, sows’ wombs, sea-urchins and Spanish dancing-girls, at the house of I know not who. You’ll pay the price; I’m not saying what! You’ve acted harshly: you’ve begrudged this to me for sure, and maybe to yourself. Yes, definitely yourself as well. How we would have had fun, laughed, thrown ourselves into it! You can dine at many men’s houses in better style, but nowhere with better cheer, more frankness and less inhibition. In short, give it a try and if after that you don’t prefer to excuse yourself to others, you may always excuse yourself to me. Best wishes.

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November 7, 2012 at 12:00 PM

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Pliny the Younger, Letters 10.34

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Trajan’s reply to the letter by Pliny from 2 days ago.

Traianus Plinio.

tibi quidem secundum exempla complurium in mentem venit posse collegium fabrorum apud Nicomedenses constitui. sed meminerimus provinciam istam et praecipue eas civitates eius modi factionibus esse vexatas. quodcumque nomen ex quacumque causa dederimus iis, qui in idem contracti fuerint, hetaeriae eaeque brevi fient. satius itaque est comparari ea, quae ad coercendos ignes auxilio esse possint, admonerique dominos praediorum, ut et ipsi inhibeant ac, si res poposcerit, accursu populi ad hoc uti.

Trajan to Pliny.

It has occurred to you that a company of firemen could be established in Nicomedia, following the example of several cities. But we should remember that your province Рand especially those cities Рhave been troubled by factions of this sort. Whatever name we give to them, for whatever purpose, men who have been brought together for the same purpose will quickly become political clubs. Therefore it will be preferable for those things to be got ready which are of service for the control of fires, and for the owners of property to be advised that they should extinguish fires themselves and, if the situation demands it, to employ the assistance of the populace for this purpose.

Written by aleatorclassicus

September 16, 2012 at 12:00 PM

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

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Pliny the Younger, Letters 9.34

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Pliny wonders how best to negotiate a reading of his poetry. This must surely be the earliest reference to the subtle art of the lip-sync.

explica aestum meum: audio me male legere, dumtaxat versus; rationes enim commode, sed tanto minus versus. cogito ergo recitaturus familiaribus amicis experiri libertum meum. hoc quoque familiare, quod elegi non bene sed melius – scio – lecturum, si tamen non fuerit perturbatus. est enim tam novus lector quam ego poeta. ipse nescio, quid illo legente interim faciam, sedeam defixus et mutus et similis otioso an, ut quidam, quae pronuntiabit, murmure oculis manu prosequar. sed puto me non minus male saltare quam legere. iterum dicam, explica aestum meum vereque rescribe, num sit melius pessime legere quam ista vel non facere vel facere. vale.

Gaius Plinius greets his Tranquillus.
Settle my anxiety: I hear it said that I read badly, at least when it comes to verse. I do well enough with speeches, but so much less well with verses. So, as I intend to put on a reading for my closest friends, I’m thinking of trying out one of my freedmen. This is also treating them informally, because I’ve chosen a man who I know will not read well, but better than me – so long as he isn’t flustered. In fact he’s as new to being a reader as I am to being a poet. As for me, I don’t know what I should do while he’s reading, whether I should sit still and silent like an audience-member or whether, as some people do, I should accompany what he’s reciting with my mumbling, with my eyes and my hands. But I think I’m no less bad at miming than I am at reading. So I say again, settle my anxiety and write back with your true opinion: would it be better for me to read really badly than to do, or not do, those things I mentioned? Farewell!

Written by aleatorclassicus

July 20, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Pliny the Younger