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Correspondence Between Pliny and the Emperor Trajan

Pliny Translated by William Melmoth [revised by F. C. T. Bosanquet]


© NYPL Digital Gallery
Who Was Pliny?

Correspondence With the Emperor Trajan

I

To the Emperor Trajan

The pious affection you bore, most sacred Emperor, to your august father induced you to wish it might be late ere you succeeded him. But the immortal gods thought proper to hasten the advancement of those virtues to the helm of the commonwealth which had already shared in the steerage. May you then, and the world through your means, enjoy every prosperity worthy of your reign: to which let me add my wishes, most excellent Emperor, upon a private as well as public account, that your health and spirits may be preserved firm and unbroken.

II

To the Emperor Trajan

You have occasioned me, Sir, an inexpressible pleasure in deeming me worthy of enjoying the privilege which the laws confer on those who have three children. For although it was from an indulgence to the request of the excellent Julius Servianus, your own most devoted servant, that you granted this favour, yet I have the satisfaction to find by the words of your rescript that you complied the more willingly as his application was in my behalf. I cannot but look upon myself as in possession of my utmost wish, after having thus received, at the beginning of your most auspicious reign, so distinguishing a mark of your peculiar favour; at the same time that it considerably heightens my desire of leaving a family behind me. I was not entirely without this desire even in the late most unhappy times: as my two marriages will induce you to believe. But the gods decreed it better, by reserving every valuable privilege to the bounty of your generous dispensations. And indeed the pleasure of being a father will be so much more acceptable to me now, that I can enjoy it in full security and happiness.

III

To the Emperor Trajan

The experience, most excellent Emperor, I have had of your unbounded generosity to me, in my own person, encourages me to hope I may be yet farther obliged to it, in that of my friends. Voconius Romanus (who was my schoolfellow and companion from our earliest years) claims the first rank in that number; in consequence of which I petitioned your sacred father to promote him to the dignity of the senatorial order. But the completion of my request is reserved to your goodness; for his mother had not then advanced, in the manner the law directs, the liberal gift of four hundred thousand sesterces, which she engaged to give him, in her letter to the late emperor, your father. This, however, by my advice she has since done, having made over certain estates to him, as well as completed every other act necessary to make the conveyance valid. The difficulties therefore being removed which deferred the gratification of our wishes, it is with full confidence I venture to assure you of the worth. of my friend Romanus, heightened and adorned as it is not only by liberal culture, but by his extraordinary tenderness to his parents as well. It is to that virtue he owes the present liberality of his mother; as well as his immediate succession to his late father's estate, and his adoption by his father-in-law. To these personal qualifications, the wealth and rank of his family give additional lustre; and I persuade myself it will be some further recommendation that I solicit in his behalf. Let me, then, entreat you, Sir, to enable me to congratulate Romanus on so desirable an occasion, and at the same time to indulge an eager and, I hope, laudable ambition, of having it in my power to boast that your favourable regards are extended not only to myself, but also to my friend.

IV

To the Emperor Trajan

When by your gracious indulgence, Sir, I was appointed to preside at the treasury of Saturn, I immediately renounced all engagements of the bar (as indeed I never blended business of that kind with the functions of the state), that no avocations might call off my attention from the post to which I was appointed. For this reason, when the province of Africa petitioned the senate that I might undertake their cause against Marius Priscus, I excused myself from that office; and my excuse was allowed. But when afterwards the consul elect proposed that the senate should apply to us again, and endeavour to prevail with us to yield to its inclinations, and suffer our names to be thrown into the urn, I thought it most agreeable to that tranquillity and good order which so happily distinguishes your times not to oppose (especially in so reasonable an instance) the will of that august assembly. And, as I am desirous that all my words and actions may receive the sanction of your exemplary virtue, I hope you approve of my compliance.

V

Trajan to Pliny

You acted as became a good citizen and a worthy senator, by paying obedience to the just requisition of that august assembly: and I have full confidence you will faithfully discharge the business you have undertaken.

VI

To the Emperor Trajan

Having been attacked last year by a very severe and dangerous illness, I employed a physician, whose care and diligence, Sir, I cannot sufficiently reward, but by your gracious assistance. I entreat you therefore to make him a denizen of Rome; for as he is the freedman of a foreign lady, he is, consequently, himself also a foreigner. His name is Harpocras; his patroness (who has been dead a considerable time) was Thermuthis, the daughter of Theon. I further entreat you to bestow the full privileges of a Roman citizen upon Hedia and Antonia Harmeris, the freedwomen of Antonia Maximilla, a lady of great merit. It is at her desire I make this request.

VII

To the Emperor Trajan

I return you thanks, Sir, for your ready compliance with my desire, in granting the complete privileges of a Roman to the freedwomen of a lady to whom I am allied and also for making Harpocras, my physician, a denizen of Rome. But when, agreeably to your directions, I gave in an account of his age, and estate, I was informed by those who are better skilled in the affairs than I pretend to be that, as he is an Egyptian, I ought first to have obtained for him the freedom of Alexandria before he was made free of Rome. I confess, indeed, as I was ignorant of any difference in this case between those of Egypt and other countries, I contented myself with Only acquainting you that he had been manumitted by a foreign lady long since deceased. However, it is an ignorance I cannot regret, since it affords me an opportunity of receiving from you a double obligation in favour of the same person. That I may legally therefore enjoy the benefit of your goodness, I beg you would be pleased to grant him the freedom of the city of Alexandria, as well as that of Rome. And that your gracious intentions may not meet with any further obstacles, I have taken care, as you directed, to send an account to your freedman of his age and possessions.

VIII

Trajan to Pliny

It is my resolution, in pursuance of the maxim observed by the princes my predecessors, to be extremely cautious in granting the freedom of the city of Alexandria: however, since you have obtained of me the freedom of Rome for your physician Harpocras, I cannot refuse you this other request. You must let me know to what district he belongs, that I may give you a letter to my friend Pompeius Planta, governor of Egypt.

IX

To the Emperor Trajan

I cannot express, Sir, the pleasure your letter gave me, by which I am informed that you have made my physician Harpocras a denizen of Alexandria; notwithstanding your resolution to follow the maxim of your predecessors in this point, by being extremely cautious in granting that privilege. Agreeably to your directions, I acquaint you that Harpocras belongs to the district of Memphis. I entreat you then, most gracious Emperor, to send me, as you promised, a letter to your friend Pompeius Planta, governor of Egypt. As I purpose (in order to have the earliest enjoyment of your presence, so ardently wished for here) to come to meet you, I beg, Sir, you would permit me to extend my journey as far as possible.

X

To the Emperor Trajan

I was greatly obliged, Sir, in my late illness, to Posthumius Marinus, my physician; and I cannot make him a suitable return, but by the assistance of your wonted gracious indulgence. I entreat you then to make Chrysippus Mithridates and his wife Stratonica (who are related to Marinus) denizens of Rome. I entreat likewise the same privilege in favour of Epigonus and Mithridates, the two sons of Chrysippus; but with this restriction' that they may remain under the dominion of their father, and yet reserve their right of patronage over their own freedmen. I further entreat you to grant the full privileges of a Roman to L. Satrius Abascantius, P. Caesius Phosphorus, and Pancharia Soteris. This request I make with the consent of their patrons.

XI

To the Emperor Trajan

After your late sacred father, Sir, had, in a noble speech, as well as by his own generous example, exhorted and encouraged the public to acts of munificence, I implored his permission to remove the several statues which I had of the former emperors to my corporation, and at the same time requested permission to add his own to the number. For as I had hitherto let them remain in the respective places in which they stood when they were left to me by several different inheritances, they were dispersed in distant parts of my estate. He was pleased to grant my request, and at the same time to give me a very ample testimony of his approbation. I immediately, therefore, wrote to the decurii, to desire they would allot a piece of ground, upon which I might build a temple at my own expense; and they, as a mark of honour to my design, offered me the choice of any site I might think proper. However, my own ill-health in the first place, and later that of your father, together with the duties of that employment which you were both pleased to entrust me, prevented my proceeding with that design. But I have now, I think, a convenient opportunity of making an excursion for the purpose, as my monthly attendance ends on the 1st of September, and there are several festivals in the month following. My first request, then, is that you would permit me to adorn the temple I am going to erect with your statue, and next (in order to the execution of my design with all the expedition possible) that you would indulge me with leave of absence. It would ill become the sincerity I profess, were I to dissemble that your goodness in complying with this desire will at the same time be extremely serviceable to me in my own private affairs. It is absolutely necessary I should not defer any longer the letting of my lands in that province; for, besides that they amount to above four hundred thousand sesterces, the time for dressing the vineyards is approaching, and that business must fall upon my new tenants. The unfruitfulness of the seasons besides, for several years past, obliges me to think of making some abatements in my rents; which I cannot possibly settle unless I am present. I shall be indebted then to your indulgence, Sir, for the expedition of my work of piety, and the settlement of my own private affairs, if you will be pleased to grant me leave of absence for thirty days. I cannot give myself a shorter time, as the town and the estate of which I am speaking lie above a hundred and fifty miles from Rome.

XII

Trajan to Pliny

You have given me many private reasons, and every public one, why you desire leave of absence; but I need no other than that it is your desire: and I doubt not of your returning as soon as possible to the duty of an office which so much requires your attendance. As I would not seem to check any instance of your affection towards me, I shall not oppose your erecting my statue in the place you desire; though in general I am extremely cautious in giving any encouragement to honours of that kind.

XIII

To the Emperor Trajan

As I am sensible, Sir, that the highest applause my actions can receive is to be distinguished by so excellent a prince, I beg you would be graciously pleased to add either the office of augur or septemvir' (both which are now vacant) to the dignity I already enjoy by your indulgence; that I may have the satisfaction of publicly offering up those vows for your prosperity, from the duty of my office, which I daily prefer to the gods in private, from the affection of my heart.

XIV

To the Emperor Trajan

Having safely passed the promontory of Malea, I am arrived at Ephesus with all my retinue, notwithstanding I was detained for some time by contrary winds: a piece of information, Sir, in which, I trust, you will feel yourself concerned. I propose pursuing the remainder of my journey to the province partly in light vessels, and partly in post-chaises: for as the excessive heats will prevent my travelling altogether by land, so the Etesian winds, which are now set in, will not permit me to proceed entirely by sea.

XV

Trajan to Pliny

Your information, my dear Pliny, was extremely agreeable to me, as it does concern me to know in what manner you arrive at your province. It is a wise intention of yours to travel either by sea or land, as you shall find most convenient.

XVI

To the Emperor Trajan

As I had a very favourable voyage to Ephesus, so in travelling by post-chaise from thence I was extremely troubled by the heats, and also by some slight feverish attacks, which kept me some time at Pergamus. From there, Sir, I got on board a coasting vessel, but, being again detained by contrary winds, did not arrive at Bithynia so soon as I had hoped. However, I have no reason to complain of this delay, since (which indeed was the most auspicious circumstance that could attend me) I reached the province in time to celebrate your birthday. I am at present engaged in examining the finances of the Prusenses, their expenses, revenues, and credits; and the farther I proceed in this work, the more I am convinced of the necessity of my enquiry. Several large sums of money are owing to the city from private persons, which they neglect to pay upon various pretences; as, on the other hand, I find the public funds are, in some instances, very unwarrantably applied. This, Sir, I write to you immediately on my arrival. I entered this province on the 17th of September, and found in it that obedience and loyalty towards yourself which you justly merit from all mankind. You will consider, Sir, whether it would not be proper to send a surveyor here; for I am inclined to think much might be deducted from what is charged by those who have the conduct of the public works if a faithful admeasurement were to be taken: at least I am of that opinion from what I have already seen of the accounts of this city, which I am now going into as fully as is possible.

XVII

Trajan to Pliny

I should have rejoiced to have heard that you arrived at Bithynia without the smallest inconvenience to yourself or any of your retinue, and that your journey from Ephesus had been as easy as your voyage to that place was favourable. For the rest, your letter informs me, my dearest Secundus, on what day you reached Bithynia. The people of that province will be convinced, I persuade myself, that I am attentive to their interest: as your conduct towards them will make it manifest that I could have chosen no more proper person to supply my place. The examination of the public accounts ought certainly to be your first employment, as they are evidently in great disorder. I have scarcely surveyors sufficient to inspect those works which I am carrying on at Rome, and in the neighbourhood; but persons of integrity and skill in this art may be found, most certainly, in every province, so that they will not fail you if only you will make due enquiry.

XVIII

To the Emperor Trajan

Though I am well assured, Sir, that you, who never omit any opportunity of exerting your generosity, are not unmindful of the request I lately made to you, yet, as you have often indulged me in this manner, give me leave to remind and earnestly entreat you to bestow the praetorship now vacant upon Attius Sura. Though his ambition is extremely moderate, yet the quality of his birth, the inflexible integrity he has preserved in a very narrow fortune, and, more than all, the felicity of your times, which encourages conscious virtue to claim your favour, induce him to hope he may experience it in the present instance.

XIX

To the Emperor Trajan

I congratulate both you and the public, most excellent Emperor, upon the great and glorious victory you have obtained; so agreeable to the heroism of ancient Rome. May the immortal gods grant the same happy success to all your designs, that, under the administration of so many princely virtues, the splendour of the empire may shine out, not only in its former, but with additional lustre.

XX

To the Emperor Trajan

My lieutenant, Servilius Pudens, came to Nicomedia, Sir, on the 24th of November, and by his arrival freed me, at length, from the anxiety of a very uneasy expectation.

XXI

To the Emperor Trajan

Your generosity to me, Sir, was the occasion of uniting me to Rosianus Geminus, by the strongest ties; for he was my quaestor when I was consul. His behaviour to me during the continuance of our offices was highly respectful, and he has treated me ever since with so peculiar a regard that, besides the many obligations I owe him upon a public account, I am indebted to him for the strongest pledges of private friendship. I entreat you, then, to comply with my request for the advancement of one whom (if my recommendation has any weight) you will even distinguish with your particular favour; and whatever trust you shall repose in him, he will endeavour to show himself still deserving of an higher. But I am the more sparing in my praises of him, being persuaded his integrity, his probity, and his vigilance are well known to you, not only from those high posts which he has exercised in Rome within your immediate inspection, but from his behaviour when he served under you in the army. One thing, however, my affection for him inclines me to think, I have not yet sufficiently done; and therefore, Sir, I repeat my entreaties that you will give me the pleasure, as early as possible, of rejoicing in the advancement of my quaestor, or, in other words, of receiving an addition to my own honours, in the person of my friend.

XXII

To the Emperor Trajan

It is not easy, Sir, to express the joy I received when I heard you had, in compliance with the request of my mother-in-law and myself, granted Coelius Clemens the proconsulship of this province after the expiration of his consular office; as it is from thence I learn the full extent of your goodness towards me, which thus graciously extends itself through my whole family. As I dare not pretend to make an equal return to those obligations I so justly owe you, I can only have recourse to vows, and ardently implore the gods that I may not be found unworthy of those favours which you are the repeatedly conferring upon me.

XXIII

To the Emperor Trajan

I received, Sir, a dispatch from your freedman, Lycormas, desiring me, if any embassy from Bosporus should come here on the way to Rome, that I would detain it till his arrival. None has yet arrived, at least in the city where I now am. But a courier passing through this place from the king of Sarmatia, I embrace the opportunity which accidentally offers itself, of sending with him the messenger which Lycormas despatched hither, that you might be informed by both their letters of what, perhaps, it may be expedient you should be acquainted with at one and the same time.

XXIV

To the Emperor Trajan

I am informed by a letter from the king of Sarmatia that there are certain affairs of which you ought to be informed as soon as possible. In order, therefore, to hasten the despatches which his courier was charged with to you, I granted him an order to make use of the public post.

XXV

To the Emperor Trajan

The ambassador from the king of Sarmatia having remained two days, by his own choice, at Nicea, I did not think it reasonable, Sir, to detain him any longer: because, in the first place, it was still uncertain when your freedman, Lycormas, would arrive, and then again some indispensable affairs require my presence in a different part of the province. Of this I thought it necessary that you should be informed, because I lately acquainted you in a letter that Lycormas had desired, if any embassy should come this way from Bosporus, that I would detain it till his arrival. But I saw no plausible pretext for keeping him back any longer, especially as the despatches from Lycormas, which (as I mentioned before) I was not willing to detain, would probably reach you some (lays sooner than this ambassador.

XXVI

To the Emperor Trajan

I received a letter, Sir, from Apuleius, a military man, belonging to tile garrison at Nicomedia, informing me that one Callidromus, being arrested by Maximus and Dionysius (two bakers, to whom he had hired himself), fled for refuge to your statue; that, being brought before a magistrate, he declared he was formerly slave to Laberius Maximus, but being taken prisoner by Susagus in Moesia, he was sent as a present from Decebalus to Pacorus, king of Parthia, in whose service he continued several years, from whence he made his escape, and came to Nicomedia. When be was examined before me, he confirmed this account, for which reason I thought it necessary to send him to you. This I should have done sooner, but I delayed his journey in order to make an inquiry concerning a seal ring which he said was taken from him, upon which was engraven the figure of Pacorus in his royal robes; I was desirous (if it could have been found) of transmitting this curiosity to you, with a small gold nugget which he says he brought from out of the Parthian mines. I have affixed my seal to it, the impression of which is a chariot drawn by four horses.

XXVII

To the Emperor Trajan

Your freedman and procurator, Maximus, behaved, Sir, during all the time we were together, with great probity, attention, and diligence; as one strongly attached to your interest, and strictly observant of discipline. This testimony I willingly give him; and I give it with all the fidelity I owe you.

XXVIII

To the Emperor Trajan

After having experienced, Sir, in Gabius Bassus, who commands on the Pontic coast, the greatest integrity, honour, and diligence, as well as the most particular respect to myself, I cannot refuse him my best wishes and suffrage; and I give them to him with all that fidelity which is due to you. I have found him abundantly qualified by having served in the army under you; and it is owing to the advantages of your discipline that he has learned to merit your favour. The soldiery and the people here, who have had full experience of his justice and humanity, rival each other in that glorious testimony they give of his conduct, both in public and in private; and I certify this with all the sincerity you have a right to expect from me.

XXIX

To the Emperor Trajan

Nymphidius Lupus, Sir, and myself, served in the army together; he commanded a body of the auxiliary forces at the same time that I was military tribune; and it was from thence my affection for him began. A long acquaintance has since mutually endeared and strengthened our friendship. For this reason I did violence to his repose, and insisted upon his attending me into Bithynia, as my assessor in council. He most readily granted me this proof of his friendship; and without any regard to the plea of age, or the ease of retirement, he shared, and continues to share, with me, the fatigue of public business. I consider his relations, therefore, as my own; in which number Nymphidius Lupus, his son, claims my particular regard. He is a youth of great merit and indefatigable application, and in every respect well worthy of so excellent a father. The early proof he gave of his merit, when he commanded a regiment of foot, shows him to be equal to any honour you may think proper to confer upon him; and it gained him the strongest testimony of approbation from those most illustrious personages, Julius Ferox and Fuscus Salinator. And I will add, Sir, that I shall rejoice in any accession of dignity which he shall receive as an occasion of particular satisfaction to myself.

XXX

To the Emperor Trajan

I beg your determination, Sir, on a point I am exceedingly doubtful about: it is whether I should place the public slaves as sentries round the prisons of the several cities in this province (as has been hitherto the practice) or employ a party of soldiers for that purpose? On the one hand, I am afraid the public slaves will not attend this duty with the fidelity they ought; and on the other, that it will engage too large a body of the soldiery. In the meanwhile I have joined a few of the latter with the former. I am apprehensive, however, there may be some danger that this method will occasion a general neglect of duty, as it will afford them a mutual opportunity of throwing the blame upon each other.

XXXI

Trajan to Pliny

There is no occasion, my dearest Secundus, to draw off any soldiers in order to guard the prisons. Let us rather persevere in the ancient customs observed in this province, of employing the public slaves for that purpose; and the fidelity with which they shall execute their duty will depend much upon your care and strict discipline. It is greatly to be feared, as you observe, if the soldiers should be mixed with the public slaves, they will mutually trust to each other, and by that means grow so much the more negligent. But my principal objection is that as few soldiers as possible should be withdrawn from their standard.

XXXII

To the Emperor Trajan

Gabius Bassus, who commands upon the frontiers of Pontica, in a manner suitable to the respect and duty which he owes you, came to me, and has been with me, Sir, for several days. As far as I could observe, he is a person of great merit and worthy of your favour. I acquainted him it was your order that he should retain only ten beneficiary soldiers, two horse-guards, and one centurion out of the troops which you were pleased to assign to my command. He assured me those would not be sufficient, and that he would write to you accordingly; for which reason I thought it proper not immediately to recall his supernumeraries.

XXXIII

Trajan to Pliny

I have received from Gabius Bassus the letter you mention, acquainting me that the number of soldiers I had ordered him was not sufficient; and for your information I have directed my answer to be hereunto annexed. It is very material to distinguish between what the exigency of affairs requires and what an ambitious desire of extending power may think necessary. As for ourselves, the public welfare must be our only guide: accordingly it is incumbent upon us to take all possible care that the soldiers shall not be absent from their standard.

XXXIV

To the Emperor Trajan

The Prusenses, Sir, having an ancient bath which lies in a ruinous state, desire your leave to repair it; but, upon examination, I am of opinion it ought to be rebuilt. I think, therefore, you may indulge them in this request, as there will be a sufficient fund for that purpose, partly from those debts which are due from private persons to the public which I am now collecting in; and partly from what they raise among themselves towards furnishing the bath with oil, which they are willing to apply to the carrying on of this building; a work which the dignity of the city and the splendour of your times seem to demand.

XXXV

Trajan to Pliny

If the erecting a public bath will not be too great a charge upon the Prusenses, we may comply with their request; provided, however, that no new tax be levied for this purpose, nor any of those taken off which are appropriated to necessary services.

XXXVI

To the Emperor Trajan

I am assured, Sir, by your freedman and receiver-general Maximus, that it is necessary he should have a party of soldiers assigned to him, over and besides the beneficiarii, which by your orders I allotted to the very worthy Gemellinus. Those therefore which I found in his service, I thought proper he should retain, especially as he was going into Paphlagonia, in order to procure corn. For his better protection likewise, and because it was his request, I added two of the cavalry. But I beg you would inform me, in your next despatches, what method you would have me observe for the future in points of this nature.

XXX VII

Trajan to Pliny

As my freedman Maximus was going upon an extraordinary commission to procure corn, I approve of your having supplied him with a file of soldiers. But when he shall return to the duties of his former post, I think two from you and as many from his coadjutor, my receiver-general Virdius Gemelhinus, will be sufficient.

XXXVIII

To the Emperor Trajan

The very excellent young man Sempronius Caelianus, having discovered two slaves among the recruits, has sent them to me. But I deferred passing sentence till I had consulted you, the restorer and upholder of military discipline, concerning the punishment proper to be inflicted upon them. My principal doubt is that, whether, although they have taken the military oath, they are yet entered into any particular legion. I request you therefore, Sir, to inform me what course I should pursue in this affair, especially as it concerns example.

XXXIX

Trajan to Pliny

Sempronius Caelinus has acted agreeably to my orders, in sending such persons to be tried before you as appear to deserve capital punishment. It is material however, in the case in question, to inquire whether these slaves in-listed themselves voluntarily, or were chosen by the officers, or presented as substitutes for others. If they were chosen, the officer is guilty; if they are substitutes, the blame rests with those who deputed them; but if, conscious of the legal inabilities of their station, they presented themselves voluntarily, the punishment must fall upon their own beads. That they are not yet entered into any legion, makes no great difference in their case; for they ought to have given a true account of themselves immediately, upon their being approved as fit for the service.

XL

To the Emperor Trajan

As I have your permission, Sir, to address myself to you in all my doubts, you will not consider it beneath your dignity to descend to those humbler affairs which concern my administration of this province. I find there are in several cities, particularly those of Nicomedia and Nicea, certain persons who take upon themselves to act as public slaves, and receive an annual stipend accordingly; notwithstanding they have been condemned either to the mines, the public games, or other punishments of the like nature. Having received information of this abuse I have been long debating with myself what I ought to do. On the one hand, to send them back again to their respective punishments (many of them being now grown old, and behaving, as I am assured, with sobriety and modesty) would, I thought, be proceeding against them too severely; on the other, to retain convicted criminals in the public service, seemed not altogether decent. I considered at the same time to support these people in idleness would be an useless expense to the public; and to leave them to starve would be dangerous. I was obliged therefore to suspend the determination of this matter till I could consult with you. You will be desirous, perhaps, to be informed how it happened that these persons escaped the punishments to which they were condemned. This enquiry I have also made, but cannot return you any satisfactory answer. The decrees against them were indeed produced; but no record appears of their having ever been reversed. It was asserted, however, that these people were pardoned upon their petition to the proconsuls, or their lieutenants; which seems likely to be the truth, as it is improbable any person would have dared to set them at liberty without authority.

XLI

Trajan to Pliny

You will remember you were sent into Bithynia for the particular purpose of correcting those many abuses which appeared in need of reform. Now none stands more so than that of criminals who have been sentenced to punishment should not only be set at liberty (as your letter informs me) without authority; but even appointed to employments which ought only to be exercised by persons whose characters are irreproachable. Those therefore among them who have been convicted within these ten years, and whose sentence has not been reversed by proper authority, must be sent back again to their respective punishments: but where more than ten years have elapsed since their conviction, and they are grown old and infirm, let them he disposed of in such employments as are but few degrees removed from the punishments to which they were sentenced; that is, either to attend upon the public baths, cleanse the common sewers, or repair the streets and highways, the usual offices assigned to such persons.

XLII

To the Emperor Trajan

While I was making a progress in a different part of the province, a most extensive fire broke out at Nicomedia, which not only consumed several private houses, but also two public buildings; the town-house and the temple of Isis, though they stood on contrary sides of the street. The occasion of its spreading thus far was partly owing to the violence of the wind, and partly to the indolence of the people, who, manifestly, stood idle and motionless spectators of this terrible calamity. The truth is the city was not furnished with either engines, buckets, or any single instrument suitable for extinguishing fires; which I have now however given directions to have prepared. You will consider, Sir, whether it may not be advisable to institute a company of fire-men, consisting only of one hundred and fifty members. I will take care none but those of that business shall be admitted into it, and that the privileges granted them shall not be applied to any other purpose. As this corporate body will he restricted to so small a number of members, it will he easy to keep them under proper regulation.

XLIII

Trajan to Pliny

You are of opinion it would be proper to establish a company of firemen in Nicomedia, agreeably to what has been practised in several other cities. But it is to be remembered that societies of this sort have greatly disturbed the peace of the province in general, and of those cities in particular. Whatever name we give them, and for whatever purposes they may be founded, they will not fail to form themselves into factious assemblies, however short their meetings may be. It will therefore be safer to provide such machines as are of service in extinguishing fires, enjoining the owners of houses to assist in preventing the mischief from spreading, and, if it should be necessary, to call in the aid of the populace.

XLIV

To the Emperor Trajan

We have acquitted, Sir, and renewed our annual vows for your prosperity, in which that of the empire is essentially involved, imploring the gods to grant us ever thus to pay and thus to repeat them.

XLV

Trajan to Pliny

I received the satisfaction, my dearest Secundus, of being informed by your letter that you, together with the people under your government, have both discharged and renewed your vows to the immortal gods for my health and happiness.

XLVI

To the Emperor Trajan

The citizens of Nicomedia, Sir, have expended three millions three hundred and twenty-nine sesterces in building an aqueduct; but, not being able to finish it, the works are entirely falling to ruin. They made a second attempt in another place, where they laid out two millions. But this likewise is discontinued; so that, after having been at an immense charge to no purpose, they must still be at a further expense, in order to be accommodated with water. I have examined a fine spring from whence the water may be conveyed over arches (as was attempted in their first design) in such a manner that the higher as well as level and low parts of the city may be supplied. There are still remaining a very few of the old arches; and the square stones, however, employed in the former building, may be used in turning the new arches. I am of opinion part should be raised with brick, as that will be the easier and cheaper material. But that this work may not meet with the same ill-success as the former, it will be necessary to send here an architect, or some one skilled in the construction of this kind of waterworks. And I will venture to say, from the beauty and usefulness of the design, it will be an erection well worthy the splendour of your times.

XLVII

Trajan to Pliny

Care must be taken to supply the city of Nicomedia with water; and that business, I am well persuaded, you will perform with all the diligence you ought. But really it is no less incumbent upon you to examine by whose misconduct it has happened that such large sums have been thrown away upon this, lest they apply the money to private purposes, and the aqueduct in question, like the preceding, should be begun, and afterwards left unfinished. You will let me know the result of your inquiry.

XLVIII

To the Emperor Trajan

The citizens of Nicea, Sir; are building a theatre, which, though it is not yet finished, has already exhausted, as I am informed (for I have not examined the account myself), above ten millions of sesterces; and, what is worse, I fear to no purpose. For either from the foundation being laid in soft, marshy ground, or that the stone itself is light and crumbling, the walls are sinking, and cracked from top to bottom. It deserves your consideration, therefore, whether it would be best to carry on this work, or entirely discontinue it, or rather, perhaps, whether it would not be most prudent absolutely to destroy it: for the buttresses and foundations by means of which it is from time to time kept up appear to me more expensive than solid. Several private persons have undertaken to build the compartment of this theatre at their own expense, some engaging to erect the portico, others the galleries over the pit: but this design cannot be executed, as the principal building which ought first to bu completed is now at a stand. This city is also rebuilding, upon a far more enlarged plan, the gymnasium, which was burnt down before my arrival in the province. They have already been at some (and, I rather fear, a fruitless) expense. The structure is not only irregular and ill-proportioned, but the present architect (who, it must be owned, is a rival to the person who was first employed) asserts that the walls, although twenty-two feet in thickness, are not strong enough to support the superstructure, as the interstices are filled up with quarrystones, and the walls are not overlaid with brickwork. Also the inhabitants of Claudiopolis are sinking (I cannot call it erecting) a large public bath, upon a low spot of ground which lies at the foot of a mountain. The fund appropriated for the carrying on of this work arises from the money which those honorary members you were pleased to add to the senate paid (or, at least, are ready to pay whenever I call upon them) for their admission. As I am afraid, therefore, the public money in the city of Nicea, and (what is infinitely more valuable than any pecuniary consideration) your bounty in that of Nicopolis, should be ill applied, I must desire you to send hither an architect to inspect, not only the theatre, but the bath; in order to consider whether, after all the expense which has already been laid out, it will be better to finish them upon the present plan, or alter the one, and remove the other, in as far as may seem necessary: for otherwise we may perhaps throw away our future cost in endeavoring not to lose what we have already expended.

XLIX

Trajan to Pliny

You, who are upon the spot, will best be able to consider and determine what is proper to be done concerning the theatre which the inhabitants of Nicea are building; as for myself, it will be sufficient if you let me know your determination. With respect to the particular parts of this theatre which are to be raised at a private charge, you will see those engagements fulfilled when the body of the building to which they are to be annexed shall be finished.-- These paltry Greeks are, I know, immoderately fond of gymnastic diversions, and therefore, perhaps, the citizens of Nicea have planned a more magnificent building for this purpose than is necessary; however, they must be content with such as will be sufficient to answer the purpose for which it is intended. I leave it entirely to you to persuade the Claudiopolitani as you shall think proper with regard to their bath, which they have placed, it seems, in a very improper situation. As there is no province that is not furnished with men of skill and ingenuity, you cannot possibly want architects; unless you think it the shortest way to procure them from Rome, when it is generally from Greece that they come to us.

L

To the Emperor Trajan

When I reflect upon the splendour of your exalted station, and the magnanimity of your spirit, nothing, I am persuaded, can be more suitable to both than to point out to you such works as are worthy of your glorious and immortal name, as being no less useful than magnificent. Bordering upon the territories of the city of Nicomedia is a most extensive lake; over which marbles, fruits, woods, and all kinds of materials, the commodities of the country, are brought over in boats up to the high-road, at little trouble and expense, but from thence are conveyed in carriages to the sea-side, at a much greater charge and with great labour. To remedy this inconvenience, many hands will be in request; but upon such an occasion they cannot be wanting: for the country, and particularly the city, is exceedingly populous; and one may assuredly hope that every person will readily engage in a work which will be of universal benefit. It only remains then to send hither, if you shall think proper, a surveyor or an architect, in order to examine whether the lake lies above the level of the sea; the engineers of this province being of opinion that the former is higher by forty cubits, I find there is in the neighbourhood of this place a large canal, which was cut by a king of this country; but as it is left unfinished, it is uncertain whether it was for the purpose of draining the adjacent fields, or making a communication between the lake and the river. It is equally doubtful too whether the death of the king, or the despair of being able to accomplish the design, prevented the completion of it. If this was the reason, I am so much the more eager and warmly desirous, for the sake of your illustrious character (and I hope you will pardon me the ambition), that you may have the glory of executing what kings could only attempt.

LI

Trajan to Pliny

There is something in the scheme you propose of opening a communication between the lake and the sea, which may, perhaps, tempt me to consent. But you must first carefully examine the situation of this body of water, what quantity it contains, and from whence it is supplied; lest, by giving it an opening into the sea, it should be totally drained. You may apply to Calpurnius Macer for an engineer, and I will also send you from hence some one skilled in works of this nature.

LII

To the Emperor Trajan

Upon examining into the public expenses of the city of Byzantium, which, I find, are extremely great, I was informed, Sir, that the appointments of the ambassador whom they send yearly to you with their homage, and the decree which passes in the senate upon that occasion, amount to twelve thousand sesterces. But knowing the generous maxims of your government, I thought proper to send the decree without the ambassador, that, at the same time they discharged their public duty to you, their expense incurred in the manner of paying it might be lightened. This city is likewise taxed with the sum of three thousand sesterces towards defraying the expense of an envoy, whom they annually send to compliment the governor of Moesia: this expense I have also directed to be spared. I beg, Sir, you would deign either to confirm my judgment or correct my error in these points, by acquainting me with your sentiments.

LIII

Trajan to Pliny

I entirely approve, my dearest Secundus, of your having excused the Byzantines that expense of twelve thousand sesterces in sending an ambassador to me. I shall esteem their duty as sufficiently paid, though I only receive the act of their senate through your hands. The governor of Moesia must likewise excuse them if they compliment him at a less expense.

LIV

To the Emperor Trajan

I beg, Sir, you would settle a doubt I have concerning your diplomas; whether you think proper that those diplomas the dates of which are expired shall continue in force, and for how long? For I am apprehensive I may, through ignorance, either confirm such of these instruments as are illegal or prevent the effect of those which are necessary.

LV

Trajan to Pliny

The diplomas whose dates are expired must by no means be made use of. For which reason it is an inviolable rule with me to send new instruments of this kind into all the provinces before they are immediately wanted.

LVI

To the Emperor Trajan

Upon intimating, Sir, my intention to the city of Apamea, of examining into the state of their public dues, their revenue and expenses, they told me they were all extremely willing I should inspect their accounts, but that no proconsul. had ever yet looked them over, as they had a privilege (and that of a very ancient date) of administering the affairs of their corporation in the manner they thought proper. I required them to draw up a memorial of what they then asserted, which I transmit to you precisely as I received it; though I am sensible it contains several things foreign to the question. I beg you will deign to instruct me as to how I am to act in this affair, for I should be extremely sorry either to exceed or fall short of the duties of my commission.

LVII

Trajan to Pliny

The memorial of the Apanieans annexed to your letter has saved me the necessity of considering the reasons they suggest why the former proconsuls forbore to inspect their accounts, since they are willing to submit them to your examination. Their honest compliance deserves to be rewarded; and they may be assured the enquiry you are to make in pursuance of my orders shall be with a full reserve to their privileges.

LVIII

To the Emperor Trajan

The Nicomedians, Sir, before my arrival in this province, had begun to build a new forum adjoining their former, in a corner of which stands an ancient temple dedicated to the mother of the gods. This fabric must either be repaired or removed, and for this reason chiefly, because it is a much lower building than that very lofty one which is now in process of erection. Upon enquiry whether this temple had been consecrated, I was informed that their ceremonies of dedication differ from ours. You will be pleased therefore, Sir, to consider whether a temple which has not been consecrated according to our rites may be removed, consistently with the reverence due to religion: for, if there should be no objection from that quarter, the removal in every other respect would be extremely convenient.

LIX

Trajan to Pliny

You may without scruple, my dearest Secundus, if the situation requires it, remove the temple of the mother of the gods, from the place where it now stands, to any other spot more convenient. You need be under no difficulty with respect to the act of dedication; for the ground of a foreign city is not capable of receiving that kind of consecration which is sanctified by our laws.

LX

To the Emperor Trajan

We have celebrated, Sir (with those sentiments of joy your virtues so justly merit), the day of your accession to the empire, which was also its preservation, imploring the gods to preserve you in health and prosperity; for upon your welfare the security and repose of the world depends. I renewed at the same time the oath of allegiance at the head of the army, which repeated it after me in the usual form, the people of the province zealously concurring in the same oath.

LXI

Trajan to Pliny

Your letter, my dearest Secundus, was extremely acceptable, as it informed me of the zeal and affection with which you, together with the army and the provincials, solemnised the day of my accession to the empire.

LXII

To the Emperor Trajan

The debts which we are owing to the public are, by the prudence, Sir, of your counsels, and the care of my administration, either actually paid in or now being collected: but I am afraid the money must lie unemployed. For as on one side there are few or no opportunities of purchasing land, so, on the other, one cannot meet with any person who is willing to borrow of the public (especially at 12 per cent, interest) when they can raise money upon the same terms from private sources. You will consider then, Sir, whether it may not be advisable, in order to invite responsible persons to take this money, to lower the interest; or if that scheme should not succeed, to place it in the hands of the decurii, upon their giving sufficient security to the public. And though they should not be willing to receive it, yet as the rate of interest will be diminished, the hardship will be so much the less.

LXIII

Trajan to Pliny

I agree with you, my dear Pliny, that there seems to be no other method of facilitating the placing out of the public money than by lowering the interest; the measure of which you will determine according to the number of the borrowers. But to compel persons to receive it who are not disposed to do so, when possibly they themselves may have no opportunity of employing it, is by no means consistent with the justice of my government.

LXIV

To the Emperor Trajan

I return you my warmest acknowledgments, Sir, that, among the many important occupations in which you are engaged you have condescended to be my guide on those points on which I have consulted you: a favour which I must now again beseech you to grant me. A certain person presented himself with a complaint that his adversaries, who had been banished for three years by the illustrious Servilius Calvus, still remained in the province: they, on the contrary, affirmed that Calvus had revoked their sentence, and produced his edict to that effect. I thought it necessary therefore to refer the whole affair to you. For as I have your express orders not to restore any person who has been sentenced to banishment either by myself or others so I have no directions with respect to those who, having been banished by some of my predecessors in this government, have by them also been restored. It is necessary for me, therefore, to beg you would inform me, Sir, how I am to act with regard to the above-mentioned persons, as well as others, who, after having been condemned to perpetual banishment, have been found in the province without permission to return; for cases of that nature have likewise fallen under my cognisance. A person was brought before me who had been sentenced to perpetual exile by the proconsul Julius Bassus, but knowing that the acts of Bassus, during his administration, had been rescinded, and that the senate had granted leave to all those who had fallen under his condemnation of appealing from his decision at any time within the space of two years, I enquired of this man whether he had, accordingly, stated his case to the proconsul. He replied he had not. I beg then you would inform me whether you would have him sent back into exile or whether you think some more severe and what kind of punishment should be inflicted upon him, and such others who may hereafter be found under the same circumstances. I have annexed to my letter the decree of Calvus, and the edict by which the persons above-mentioned were restored, as also the decree of Bassus.

LXV

Trajan to Pliny

I will let you know my determination concerning those exiles which were banished for three years by the proconsul P. Servilius Calvus, and soon afterwards restored to the province by his edict, when I shall have informed myself from him of the reasons of this proceeding. With respect to that person who was sentenced to perpetual banishment by Julius Bassus, yet continued to remain in the province, without making his appeal if he thought himself aggrieved (though he had two years given him for that purpose), I would have sent in chains to my praetorian prefects: for, only to remand him back to a punishment which he has contumaciously eluded will by no means be a sufficient punishment.

LXVI

To the Emperor Trajan

When I cited the judges, Sir, to attend me at a sessions which I was going to hold, Flavius Archippus claimed the privilege of being excused as exercising the profession of a philosopher. It was alleged by some who were present that he ought not only to be excused from that office, but even struck out of the rolls of judges, and remanded back to the punishment from which he had escaped, by breaking his chains. At the same time a sentence of the proconsul Velius Paullus was read, by which it appeared that Archippus had been condemned to the mines for forgery. He had nothing to produce in proof of this sentence having ever been reversed. He alleged, however, in favour of his restitution, a petition which he presented to Domitian, together with a letter from that prince, and a decree of the Prusensians in his honour. To these he subjoined a letter which he had received from you; as also an edict and a letter of your august father confirming the grants which had been made to him by Domitian. For these reasons, notwithstanding crimes of so atrocious a nature were laid to his charge, I did not think proper to determine anything concerning him, without first consulting with you, as it is an affair which seems to merit your particular decision. I have transmitted to you, with this letter, the several allegations on both sides.

Domitian's Letter to Terentius Maximus

"Flavius Archippus the philosopher has prevailed with me to give an order that six hundred thousand sesterces be laid out in the purchase of an estate for the support of him and his family, in the neighbourhood of Prusias, his native country. Let this be accordingly done; and place that sum to the account of my benefactions."

From the Same to L. Appius Maximus

"I recommend, my dear Maximus, to your protection that worthy philosopher Archippus; a person whose moral conduct is agreeable to the principles of the philosophy he professes; and I would have you pay entire regard to whatever he shall reasonably request."

The Edict of the Emperor Nerva

"There are some points no doubt, Quirites, concerning which the happy tenour of my government is a sufficient indication of my sentiments; and a good prince need not give an express declaration in matters wherein his intention cannot but be clearly understood. Every citizen in the empire will bear me witness that I gave up my private repose to the security of the public, and in order that I might have the pleasure of dispensing new bounties of my own, as also of confirming those which had been granted by predecessors. But lest the memory of him who conferred these grants, or the diffidence of those who received them, should occasion any interruption to the public joy, I thought it as necessary as it is agreeable to me to obviate these suspicions by assuring them of my indulgence. I do not wish any man who has obtained a private or a public privilege from one of the former emperors to imagine he is to be deprived of such a privilege, merely that he may owe the restoration of it to me; nor need any who have received the gratifications of imperial favour petition me to have them confirmed. Rather let them leave me at leisure for conferring new grants, under the assurance that I am only to be solicited for those bounties which have not already been obtained, and which the happier fortune of the empire has put it in my power to bestow."

From the Same to Tullius Justus

"Since I have publicly decreed that all acts begun and accomplished in former reigns should be confirmed, the letters of Domitian must remain valid."

LXVII

To the Emperor Trajan

Flavius Archippus has conjured me, by all my vows for your prosperity, and by your immortal glory, that I would transmit to you the memorial which he presented to me. I could not refuse a request couched in such terms; however, I acquainted the prosecutrix with this my intention, from whom I have also received a memorial on her part. I have annexed them both to this letter; that by hearing, as it were, each party, you may the better be enabled to decide.

LXVIII

Trajan to Pliny

It is possible that Domitian might have been ignorant of the circumstances in which Archippus was when he wrote the letter so much to that philosopher's credit. However, it is more agreeable to my disposition to suppose that prince designed he should be restored to his former situation; especially since he so often had the honour of a statue decreed to him by those who could not be ignorant of the sentence pronounced against him by the proconsul Paullus. But I do not mean to intimate, my dear Pliny, that if any new charge should be brought against him, you should be the less disposed to hear his accusers. I have examined the memorial of his prosecutrix, Furia Prima, as well as that of Archippus himself, which you sent with your last letter.

LXIX

To the Emperor Trajan

The apprehensions you express, Sir, that the lake will be in danger of being entirely drained if a communication should be opened between that and the sea, by means of the river, are agreeable to that prudence and forethought you so eminently possess; but I think I have found a method to obviate that inconvenience. A channel may be cut from the lake up to the river so as not quite to join them, leaving just a narrow strip of land between, preserving the lake; by this means it will not only be kept quite separate from the river, but all the same purposes will be answered as if they were united: for it will be extremely easy to convey over that little intervening ridge whatever goods shall be brought down by the canal. This is a scheme which may be pursued, if it should be found necessary; but I hope there will be no occasion to have recourse to it. For, in the first place, the lake itself is pretty deep; and in the next, by damming up the river which runs from it on the opposite side and turning its course as we shall find expedient, the same quantity of water may be retained. Besides, there are several brooks near the place where it is proposed the channel shall be cut which, if skilfully collected, will supply the lake with water in proportion to what it shall discharge. But if you should rather approve of the channel's being extended farther and cut narrower, and so conveyed directly into the sea, without running into the river, the reflux of the tide will return whatever it receives from the lake. After all, if the nature of the place should not admit of any of these schemes, the course of the water may be checked by sluices. These, however, and many other particulars, will be more skilfully examined into by the engineer, whom, indeed, Sir, you ought to send, according to your promise, for it is an enterprise well worthy of your attention and magnificence. In the meanwhile, I have written to the illustrious Calpurnius Macer, in pursuance of your orders, to send me the most skilful engineer to be had.

LXX

Trajan to Pliny

It is evident, my dearest Secundus, that neither your prudence nor your care has been wanting in this affair of the lake, since, in order to render it of more general benefit, you have provided so many expedients against the danger of its being drained. I leave it to your own choice to pursue whichever of the schemes shall be thought most proper. Calpurnius Macer will furnish you, no doubt, with an engineer, as artificers of that kind are not wanting in his province.

LXXI

To the Emperor Trajan

A very considerable question, Sir, in which the whole province is interested, has been lately started, concerning the state and maintenance of deserted children. I have examined the constitutions of former princes upon this head, but not finding anything in them relating, either in general or particular, to the Bithynians, I thought it necessary to apply to you for your directions: for in a point which seems to require the special interposition of your authority, I could not content myself with following precedents. An edict of the emperor Augustus (as pretended) was read to me, concerning one Annia; as also a letter from Vespasian to the Lacedaemonians, and another from Titus to the same, with one likewise from him to the Achaeans, also some letters from Domitian, directed to the proconsuls Avidius Nigrinus and Armenius Brocchus, together with one from that prince to the Lacedaemonians: but I have not transmitted them to you, as they were not correct (and some of them too of doubtful authenticity), and also because I imagine the true copies are preserved in your archives.

LXXII

Trajan to Pliny

The question concerning children who were exposed by their parents, and afterwards preserved by others, and educated in a state of servitude, though born free, has been frequently discussed; but I do not find in the constitutions of the princes my predecessors any general regulation upon this head, extending to all the provinces. There are, indeed, some rescripts of Domitian to Avidius Nigrinus and Armenhis Brocchus, which ought to be observed; but Bithynia is not comprehended in the provinces therein mentioned. I am of opinion therefore that the claims of those who assert their right of freedom upon this footing should be allowed; without obliging them to purchase their liberty by repaying the money advanced for their maintenance.

LXXIII

To the Emperor Trajan

Having been petitioned by some persons to grant them the liberty (agreeably to the practice of former proconsuls) of removing the relics of their deceased relations, upon the suggestion that either their monuments were decayed by age or ruined by the inundations of the river, or for other reasons of the same kind, I thought proper, Sir, knowing that in cases of this nature it is usual at Rome to apply to the college of priests, to consult you, who are the sovereign of that sacred order, as to how you would have me act in this case.

LXX IV

Trajan to Pliny

It will be a hardship upon the provincials to oblige them to address themselves to the college of priests whenever they may have just reasons for removing the ashes of their ancestors. In this case, therefore, it will be better you should follow the example of the governors your predecessors, and grant or deny them this liberty as you shall see reasonable.

LXXV

To the Emperor Trajan

I have enquired, Sir, at Prusa, for a proper place on which to erect the bath you were pleased to allow that city to build, and I have found one to my satisfaction. It is upon the site where formerly, I am told, stood a very beautiful mansion, but which is now entirely fallen into ruins. By fixing upon that spot, we shall gain the advantage of ornamenting the city in a part which at present is exceedingly deformed, and enlarging it at the same time without removing any of the buildings; only restoring one which is fallen to decay. There are some circumstances attending this structure of which it is proper I should inform you. Claudius Polyaenus bequeathed it to the emperor Claudius Caesar, with directions that a temple should be erected to that prince in a colonnade-court, and that the remainder of the house should be let in apartments. The city received the rents for a considerable time; but partly by its having been plundered, and partly by its being neglected, the whole house, colonnade-court, and all, is entirely gone to ruin, and there is now scarcely anything remaining of it but the ground upon which it stood. If you shall think proper, Sir, either to give or sell this spot of ground to the city, as it lies so conveniently for their purpose, they will receive it as a most particular favour. I intend, with your permission, to place the bath in the vacant area, and to extend a range of porticoes with seats in that part where the former edifice stood. This new erection I purpose dedicating to you, by whose bounty it will rise with all the elegance and magnificence worthy of your glorious name. I have sent you a copy of the will, by which, though it is inaccurate, you will see that Polyaenus left several articles of ornament for the embellishment of this house; but these also are lost with all the rest: I will, however, make the strictest enquiry after them that I am able.

LXXVI

Trajan to Pliny

I have no objection to the Prusenses making use of the ruined court and house, which you say are untenanted, for the erection of their bath. But it is not sufficiently clear by your letter whether the temple in the centre of the colonnade-court was actually dedicated to Claudius or not; for if it were, it is still consecrated ground.

LXXVII

To the Emperor Trajan

I have been pressed by some persons to take upon myself the enquiry of causes relating to claims of freedom by birth-right, agreeably to a rescript of Domitian's to Minucius Rufus, and the practice of former proconsuls. But upon casting my eye on the decree of the senate concerning cases of this nature, I find it only mentions the proconsular provinces. I have therefore, Sir, deferred interfering in this affair, till I shall receive your instructions as to how you would have me proceed.

LXXVIII

Trajan to Pliny

IF you will send me the decree of the senate, which occasioned your doubt, I shall be able to judge whether it is proper you should take upon yourself the enquiry of causes relating to claims of freedom by birth-right.

LXXIX

To the Emperor Trajan

Julius Largus, of Ponus (a person whom I never saw nor indeed ever heard his name till lately), in confidence, Sir, of your distinguishing judgment in my favour, has entrusted me with the execution of the last instance of his loyalty towards you. He has left me, by his will, his estate upon trust, in the first place to receive out of it fifty thousand sesterces for my own use, and to apply the remainder for the benefit of the cities of Heraclea and Tios, either by erecting some public edifice dedicated to your honour or instituting athletic games, according as I shall judge proper. These games are to be celebrated every five years, and to be called Trajan's games. My principal reason for acquainting you with this bequest is that I may receive your directions which of the respective alternatives to choose.

LXXX

Trajan to Pliny

By the prudent choice Julius Largus has made of a trustee, one would imagine he had known you perfectly well. You will consider then what will most tend to perpetuate his memory, under the circumstances of the respective cities, and make your option accordingly.

LXXXI

To the Emperor Trajan

You acted agreeably, Sir, to your usual prudence and foresight in ordering the illustrious Calpurnius Macer to send a legionary centurion to Byzantium: you will consider whether the city of Juliopolis' does not deserve the same regard, which, though it is extremely small, sustains very great burthens, and is so much the more exposed to injuries as it is less capable of resisting them. Whatever benefits you shall confer upon that city will in effect be advantageous to the whole country; for it is situated at the entrance of Bithynia, and is the town through which all who travel into this province generally pass.

LXXXII

Trajan to Pliny

The circumstances of the city of Byzantium are such, by the great confluence of strangers to it, that I held it incumbent upon me, and consistent with the customs of former reigns, to send thither a legionary centurion's guard to preserve the privileges of that state. But if we should distinguish the city of Juliopolis in the same way, it will be introducing a precedent for many others, whose claim to that favour will rise in proportion to their want of strength. I have so much confidence, however, in your administration as to believe you will omit no method of protecting them from injuries. If any persons shall act contrary to the discipline I have enjoined, let them be instantly corrected; or if they happen to be soldiers, and their crimes should be too enormous for immediate chastisement, I would have them sent to their officers, with an account of the particular misdemeanour you shall find they have been guilty of; but if the delinquents should be on their way to Rome, inform me by letter.

LXXXIII

To the Emperor Trajan

By a law of Pompey's concerning the Bithynians, it is enacted, Sir, that no person shall be a magistrate, or be chosen into the senate, under the age of thirty. By the same law it is declared that those who have exercised the office of magistrate are qualified to be members of the senate. Subsequent to this law, the emperor Augustus published an edict, by which it was ordained that persons of the age of twenty-two should be capable of being magistrates. The question therefore is whether those who have exercised the functions of a magistrate before the age of thirty may he legally chosen into the senate by the censors? And if so, whether, by the same kind of construction, they may be elected senators, at the age which entitles them to be magistrates, though they should not actually have borne any office? A custom which, it seems, has hitherto been observed, and is said to be expedient, as it is rather better that persons of noble birth should be admitted into the senate than those of plebeian rank. The censors elect having desired my sentiments upon this point, I was of opinion that both by the law of Pompey and the edict of Augustus those who had exercised the magistracy before the age of thirty might be chosen into the senate; and for this reason, because the edict allows the office of magistrate to be undertaken before thirty; and the law declares that whoever has been a magistrate should be eligible for the senate. But with respect to those who never discharged any office in the state, though they were of the age required for that purpose, I had some doubt: and therefore, Sir, I apply to you for your directions. I have subjoined to this letter the heads of the law, together with the edict of Augustus.

LXXXIV

Trajan to Pliny

I agree with you, my dearest Secundus, in your construction, and am of opinion that the law of Pompey is so far repealed by the edict of the emperor Augustus that those persons who are not less than twenty-two years of age may execute the office of magistrates, and, when they have, may be received into the senate of their respective cities. But I think that they who are under thirty years of age, and have not discharged the function of a magistrate, cannot, upon pretence that in point of years they were competent to the office, legally be elected into the senate of their several communities.

LXXXV

To the Emperor Trajan

Whilst I was despatching some public affairs, Sir, at my apartments in Prusa, at the foot of Olympus, with the intention of leaving that city the same day, the magistrate Asclepiades informed me that Eumolpus had appealed to me from a motion which Cocceianus Dion made in their senate. Dion, it seems, having been appointed supervisor of a public building, desired that it might be assigned to the city in form. Eumolpus, who was counsel for Flavius Archippus, insisted that Dion should first be required to deliver in his accounts relating to this work, before it was assigned to the corporation; suggesting that he had not acted in the manner he ought. He added, at the same time, that in this building, in which your statue is erected, the bodies of Dion's wife and son are entombed, and urged me to hear this cause in the public court of judicature. Upon my at once assenting to his request, and deferring my journey for that purpose, he desired a longer day in order to prepare matters for hearing, and that I would try this cause in some other city. I appointed the city of Nicea; where, when I had taken my seat, the same Eumolpus, pretending not to be yet sufficiently instructed, moved that the trial might be again put off: Dion, on the contrary, insisted it should be heard. They debated this point very fully on both sides, and entered a little into the merits of the cause; when being of opinion that it was reasonable it should be adjourned, and thinking it proper to consult with you in an affair which was of consequence in point of precedent, I directed them to exhibit the articles of their respective allegations in writing; for I was desirous you should judge from their own representations of the state of the question between them. Dion promised to comply with this direction and Eumolpus also assured me he would draw up a memorial of what he had to allege on the part of the community. But he added that, being oniy concerned as advocate on behalf of Arehippus, whose instructions he had laid before me, he had no charge to bring with respect to the sepulchres. Archippus, however, for whom Eulnolpus was counsel here, as at Prusa, assured me he would himself present a charge in form upon this head. But neither Eumolpus nor Archippus (though I have waited several days for that purpose) have yet performed their engagement: Dion indeed has; and I have annexed his memorial to this letter. I have inspected the buildings in question, where I find your statue is placed in a library, and as to the edifice in which the bodies of Dion's wife and son are said to be deposited, it stands in the middle of a court, which is enclosed with a colonnade. Deign, therefore, I entreat you, Sir, to direct my judgment in the determination of this cause above all others as it is a point to which the public is greatly attentive, and necessarily so, since the fact is not only acknowledged, but countenanced by many precedents.

LXXXVI

Trajan to Pliny

You well know, my dearest Secundus, that it is my standing maxim not to create an awe of my person by severe and rigorous measures, and by construing every slight offence into an act of treason; you had no reason, therefore, to hesitate a moment upon the point concerning which you thought proper to consult me. Without entering therefore into the merits of that question (to which I would by no means give any attention, though there were ever so many instances of the same kind), I recommend to your care the examination of Dion's accounts relating to the public works which he has finished; as it is a case in which the interest of the city is concerned, and as Dion neither ought nor, it seems, does refuse to submit to the examination.

LXXXVII

To the Emperor Trajan

The Niceans having, in the name of their community, conjured me, Sir, by all my hopes and wishes for your prosperity and immortal glory (an adjuration which is and ought to be most sacred to me), to present to you their petition, I did not think myself at liberty to refuse them: I have therefore annexed it to this letter.

LXXXVIII

Trajan to Pliny

The Niceans I find, claim a right, by an edict of Augustus, to the estate of every citizen who dies intestate. You will therefore summon the several parties interested in this question, and, examining these pretensions, with the assistance of the procurators Virdius Gemellinus, and Epimachus, my freedman (having duly weighed every argument that shall be alleged against the claim), determine as shall appear most equitable.

LXXXIX

To the Emperor Trajan

May this and many succeeding birthdays be attended, Sir, with the highest felicity to you; and may you, in the midst of an uninterrupted course of health and prosperity, be still adding to the increase of that immortal glory which your virtues justly merit!

XC

Trajan to Pliny

Your wishes, my dearest Secundus, for my enjoyment of many happy birthdays amidst the glory and prosperity of the republic were extremely agreeable to me.

XCI

To the Emperor Trajan

The inhabitants of Sinope are ill supplied, Sir, with water, which however may be brought thither from about sixteen miles' distance in great plenty and perfection. The ground, indeed, near the source of this spring is, for rather over a mile, of a very suspicious and marshy nature; but I have directed an examination to be made (which will be effected at a small expense) whether it is sufficiently firm to support any superstructure. I have taken care to provide a sufficient fund for this purpose, if you should approve, Sir, of a work so conducive to the health and enjoyment of this colony, greatly distressed by a scarcity of water.

XCII

Trajan to Pliny

I would have you proceed, my dearest Secundus, in carefully examining whether the ground you suspect is firm enough to support an aqueduct. For I have no manner of doubt that the Sinopian colony ought to be supplied with water; provided their finances will bear the expense of a work so conducive to their health and pleasure.

XCIII

To the Emperor Trajan

The free and confederate city of the Amiseni enjoys, by your indulgence, the privilege of its own laws. A memorial being presented to me there, concerning a charitable institution, I have stibjoined it to this letter, that you may consider, Sir, whether, and how far, this society ought to be licensed or prohibited

XCIV

Trajan to Pliny

If the petition of the Amiseni which you have transmitted to me, concerning the establishment of a charitable society, be agreeable to their own laws, which by the articles of alliance it is stipulated they shall enjoy, I shall not oppose it; especially if these contributions are employed, not for the purpose of riot and faction, but for the support of the indigent. In other cities, however, which are subject to our laws, I would have all assemblies of this nature prohibited.

XCV

To the Emperor Trajan

Suetonius Tranquillus, Sir, is a most excellent, honourable, and learned man. I was so much pleased with his tastes and disposition that I have long since invited him into my family, as my constant guest and domestic friend; and my affection for him increased the more I knew of him. Two reasons concur to render the privilege which the law grants to those who have three children particularly necessary to him; I mean the bounty of his friends, and the ill-success of his marriage. Those advantages, therefore, which nature has denied to him, he hopes to obtain from your goodness, by my intercession. I am thoroughly sensible, Sir, of the value of the privilege I am asking; but I know, too, I am asking it from one whose gracious compliance with all my desires I have amply experienced. How passionately I wish to do so in the present instance, you will judge by my thus requesting it in my absence; which I would not, had it not been a favour which I am more than ordinarily anxious to obtain.

XCVI

Trajan to Pliny

You cannot but be sensible, my dearest Secundus, how reserved I am in granting favours of the kind you desire; having frequently declared in the senate that I had not exceeded the number of which I assured that illustrious order I would be contented with. I have yielded, however, to your request, and have directed an article to be inserted in my register, that I have conferred upon Tranquillus, on my usual conditions, the privilege which the law grants to these who have three children,

XCVII

To the Emperor Trajan

It is my invariable rule, Sir, to refer to you in all matters where I feel doubtful; for who is more capable of removing my scruples, or informing my ignorance? Having never been present at any trials concerning those who profess Christianity, I am unacquainted not only with the nature of their crimes, or the measure of their punishment, but how far it is proper to enter into an examination concerning them. Whether, therefore, any difference is usually made with respect to ages, or no distinction is to be observed between the young and the adult; whether repentance entitles them to a pardon; or if a man has been once a Christian, it avails nothing to desist from his error; whether the very profession of Christianity, unattended with any criminal act, or only the crimes themselves inherent in the profession are punishable; on all these points I am in great doubt. In the meanwhile, the method I have observed towards those who have been brought before me as Christians is this: I asked them whether they were Christians; if they admitted it, I repeated the question twice, and threatened them with punishment; if they persisted, I ordered them to be at once punished: for I was persuaded, whatever the nature of their opinions might be, a contumacious and inflexible obstinacy certainly deserved correction. There were others also brought before me possessed with the same infatuation, but being Roman citizens, I directed them to be sent to Rome. But this crime spreading (as is usually the case) while it was actually under prosecution, several instances of the same nature occurred. An anonymous information was laid before me containing a charge against several persons, who upon examination denied they were Christians, or had ever been so. They repeated after me an invocation to the gods, and offered religious rites with wine and incense before your statue (which for that purpose I had ordered to be brought, together with those of the gods), and even reviled the name of Christ: whereas there is no forcing, it is said, those who are really Christians into any of these compliances: I thought it proper, therefore, to discharge them. Some among those who were accused by a witness in person at first confessed themselves Christians, but immediately after denied it; the rest owned indeed that they had been of that number formerly, but had now (some above three, others more, and a few above twenty years ago) renounced that error. They all worshipped your statue and the images of the gods, uttering imprecations at the same time against the name of Christ. They affirmed the whole of their guilt, or their error, was, that they met on a stated day before it was light, and addressed a form of prayer to Christ, as to a divinity, binding themselves by a solemn oath, not for the purposes of any wicked design, but never to commit any fraud, theft, or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble, to eat in common a harmless meal. From this custom, however, they desisted after the publication of my edict, by which, according to your commands, I forbade the meeting of any assemblies. After receiving this account, I judged it so much the more necessary to endeavor to extort the real truth, by putting two female slaves to the torture, who were said to officiate' in their religious rites: but all I could discover was evidence of an absurd and extravagant superstition. I deemed it expedient, therefore, to adjourn all further proceedings, in order to consult you. For it appears to be a matter highly deserving your consideration, more especially as great numbers must be involved in the danger of these prosecutions, which have already extended, and are still likely to extend, to persons of all ranks and ages, and even of both sexes. In fact, this contagious superstition is not confined to the cities only, but has spread its infection among the neighbouring villages and country. Nevertheless, it still seems possible to restrain its progress. The temples, at least, which were once almost deserted, begin now to be frequented; and the sacred rites, after a long intermission, are again revived; while there is a general demand for the victims, which till lately found very few purchasers. From all this it is easy to conjecture what numbers might be reclaimed if a general pardon were granted to those who shall repent of their error.

XCVIII

Trajan to Pliny

You have adopted the right course, my dearest Secundus, in investigating the charges against the Christians who were brought before you. It is not possible to lay down any general rule for all such cases. Do not go out of your way to look for them. If indeed they should be brought before you, and the crime is proved, they must be punished; with the restriction, however, that where the party denies he is a Christian, and shall make it evident that he is not, by invoking our gods, let him (notwithstanding any former suspicion) be pardoned upon his repentance. Anonymous informations ought not to he received in any sort of prosecution. It is introducing a very dangerous precedent, and is quite foreign to the spirit of our age.

XCIX

To the Emperor Trajan

The elegant and beautiful city of Amastris, Sir, has, among other principal constructions, a very fine street and of considerable length, on one entire side of which runs what is called indeed a river, but in fact is no other than a vile common sewer, extremely offensive to the eye, and at the same time very pestilential on account of its noxious smell. It will be advantageous, therefore, in point of health, as well as decency, to have it covered; which shall be done with your permission: as I will take care, on my part, that money be not wanting for executing so noble and necessary a work.

C

Trajan to Pliny

It is highly reasonable, my dearest Secundus, if the water which runs through the city of Amastris is prejudicial, while uncovered, to the health of the inhabitants, that it should be covered up. I am well assured you will, with your usual application, take care that the money necessary for this work shall not be wanting.

CI

To the Emperor Trajan

We have celebrated, Sir, with great joy and festivity, those votive solemnities which were publicly proclaimed as formerly, and renewed them the present year, accompanied by the soldiers and provincials, who zealously joined with us in imploring the gods that they would be graciously pleased to preserve you and the republic in that state of prosperity which your many and great virtues, particularly your piety and reverence towards them, so justly merit.

CII

Trajan to Pliny

It was agreeable to me to learn by your letter that the army and the provincials seconded you, with the most joyful unanimity, in those vows which you paid and renewed to the immortal gods for my preservation and prosperity.

CIII

To the Emperor Trajan

We have celebrated, with all the warmth of that pious zeal we justly ought, the day on which, by a most happy succession, the protection of mankind was committed over into your hands; recommending to the gods, from whom you received the empire, the object of your public vows and congratulations.

CIV

Trajan to Pliny

I was extremely well pleased to be informed by your letter that you had, at the head of the soldiers and the provincials, solemnised my accession to the empire with all due joy and zeal.

CV

To the Emperor Trajan

Valerius Paulinus, Sir, having bequeathed to me the right of patronage over all his freedmen, except one, I intreat you to grant the freedom of Rome to three of them. To desire you to extend this favour to all of them would, I fear, be too unreasonable a trespass upon your indulgence; which, in proportion as I have amply experienced, I ought to be so much the more cautious in troubling. The persons for whom I make this request are C. Valerius Astraeus, C. Valerius Dionysius, and C. Valerius Aper.

CVI

Trajan to Pliny

You act most generously in so early soliciting in favour of those whom Valerius Paulinus has confided to your trust. I have accordingly granted the freedom of the city to such of his freedmen for whom you requested it, and have directed the patent to be registered: I am ready to confer the same on the rest, whenever you shall desire me.

CVII

To the Emperor Trajan

P. Attius Aquila, a centurion of the sixth equestrian cohort, requested me, Sir, to transmit his petition to you, in favour of his daughter. I thought it would be unkind to refuse him this service, knowing, as I do, with what patience and kindness you attend to the petitions of the soldiers.

CVIII

Trajan to Pliny

I have read the petition of P. Attius Aquila, centurion of the sixth equestrian cohort, which you sent to me; and in compliance with his request, I have conferred upon his daughter the freedom of the city of Rome. I send you at the same time the patent, which you will deliver to him.

CIX

To the Emperor Trajan

I request, Sir, your directions with respect to the recovering those debts which are due to the cities of Bithynia and Pontus, either for rent, or goods sold, or upon any other consideration. I find they have a privilege conceded to them by several proconsuls, of being preferred to other creditors; and this custom has prevailed as if it had been established by law. Your prudence, I imagine, will think it necessary to enact some settled rule, by which their rights may always be secured. For the edicts of others, how wisely soever founded, are but feeble and temporary ordinances, unless confirmed and sanctioned by your authority.

CX

Trajan to Pliny

The right which the cities either of Pontus or Bithynia claim relating to the recovery of debts of whatever kind, due to their several communities, must be determined agreeably to their respective laws. Where any of these communities enjoy the privilege of being preferred to other creditors, it must be maintained; but, where no such privilege prevails, it is not just I should establish one, in prejudice of private property.

CXI

To the Emperor Trajan

The solicitor to the treasury of the city of Amisis instituted a claim, Sir, before me against Julius Piso of about forty thousand denarii, presented to him by the public above twenty years ago, with the consent of the general council and assembly of the city: and he founded his demand upon certain of your edicts, by which donations of this kind are prohibited. Piso, on the other hand, asserted that he had conferred large sums of money upon the community, and, indeed, had thereby expended almost the whole of his estate. He insisted upon the length of time which had intervened since this donation, and hoped that he should not be compelled, to the ruin of the remainder of his fortunes, to refund a present which had been granted him long since, in return for many good offices he had done the city. For this reason, Sir, I thought it necessary to suspend giving any judgment in this cause till I shall receive your directions.

CXII

Trajan to Pliny

Though by my edicts I have ordained that no largesses shall be given out of the public money, yet, that numberless private persons may not be disturbed in the secure possession of their fortunes, those donations which have been made long since ought not to be called in question or revoked. We will not therefore enquire into anything that has been transacted in this affair so long ago as twenty years; for I would be no less attentive to secure the repose of every private man than to preserve the treasure of every public community.

CXIII

To the Emperor Trajan

The Pompeian law, Sir, which is observed in Pontus and Bithynia, does not direct that any money for their admission shall be paid in by those who arc elected into the senate by the censors. It has, however, been usual for such members as have been admitted into those assemblies, in pursuance of the privilege which you were pleased to grant to some particular cities, of receiving above their legal number, to pay one or two thousand denarii on their election. Subsequent to this, the proconsul Anicius Maximus ordained (though indeed his edict related to some few cities only) that those who were elected by the censors should also pay into the treasury a certain sum, which varied in different places. It remains, therefore, for your consideration whether it would not be proper to settle a certain sum for each member who is elected into the councils to pay upon his entrance; for it well becomes you, whose every word and action deserves to be immortalized, to establish laws that shall endure for ever.

CXIV

Trajan to Pliny

I can give no general directions applicable to all the cities of Bithynia, in relation to those who are elected members of their respective councils, whether they shall pay an honorary fee upon their admittance or not. I think that the safest method which can be pursued is to follow the particular laws of each city; and I also think that the censors ought to make the sum less for those who are chosen into the senate contrary to their inclinations than for the rest.

CXV

To the Emperor Trajan

The Pompeian law, Sir, allows the Bithynians to give the freedom of their respective cities to any person they think proper, provided he is not a foreigner, but native of some of the cities of this province. The same law specifies the particular causes for which the censors may expel any member the senate, but makes no mention of foreigners. Certain of the censors therefore have desired my opinion whether they ought to expel a member if he should happen to be a foreigner. But I thought it necessary to receive your instructions in this case; not only because the law, though it forbids foreigners to be admitted citizens, does not direct that a senator shall be expelled for the same reason, but because I am informed that in every city in the province a great number of the senators are foreigners. If, therefore, this clause of the law, which seems to be antiquated by a long custom to the contrary, should be enforced, many cities, as well as private persons, must be injured by it. I have annexed the heads of this law to my letter.

CXVI

Trajan to Pliny

You might well be doubtful, my dearest Secundus, what reply to give to the censors, who consulted you concerning their right to elect into the senate foreign citizens, though of the same province. The authority of the law on one side, and long custom prevailing against it on the other, might justly occasion you to hesitate, The proper mean to observe in this case will be to make no change in what is past, but to allow those senators who are already elected, though contrary to law, to keep their seats, to whatever city they may belong; in all future elections, however, to pursue the directions of the Pompeian law: for to give it a retrospective operation would necessarily introduce great confusion.

CXVII

To the Emperor Trajan

It is customary here upon any person taking the manly robe, solemnising his marriage, entering upon the office of a magistrate, or dedicating any public work, to invite the whole senate, together with a considerable part of the commonalty, and distribute to each of the company one or two denarii. I request you to inform me whether you think proper this ceremony should be observed, or how far you approve of it. For myself, though I am of opinion that upon some occasions, especially those of public festivals, this kind of invitation may be permitted, yet, when carried so far as to draw together a thousand persons, and sometimes more, it seems to be going beyond a reasonable number, and has somewhat the appearance of ambitious largesses.

CXVIII

Trajan to Pliny

You very justly apprehended that those public invitations which extend to an immoderate number of people, and where the dole is distributed, not singly to a few acquaintances, but, as it were, to whole collective bodies, may be turned to the factious purposes of ambition. But I appointed you to your present government, fully relying upon your prudence, and in the persuasion that you would take proper measures for regulating the manners and settling the peace of the province.

CXIX

To the Emperor Trajan

The athletic victors, Sir, in the Iselastic games, conceive that the stipend you have established for the conquerors becomes due from the day they are crowned: for it is not at all material, they say, what time they were triumphantly conducted into their country, but when they merited that honour. On the contrary, when I consider the meaning of the term Iselastic, I am strongly inclined to think that it is intended the stipend should commence from the time of their public entry. They likewise petition to be allowed the treat you give at those combats which you have converted into Iselastic, though they were conquerors before the appointnient of that institution: for it is but reasonable, they assert, that they should receive the reward in this instance, as they are deprived of it at those games which have been divested of the honour of being Iselastic, since their victory. But I am very doubtful, whether a retrospect should be admitted in the case in question, and a reward given, to which the claimants had no right at the time they obtained the victory. I beg, therefore, you would be pleased to direct my judgment in these points, by explaining the intention of your own benefactions.

CXX

Trajan to Pliny

The stipend appointed for the conqueror in the Iselastic games ought not, I think, to commence till he makes his triumphant entry into his city. Nor are the prizes, at those combats which I thought proper to make Iselastic, to be extended backwards to those who were victors before that alteration took place. With regard to the plea which these athletic combatants urge, that they ought to receive the Iselastic prize at those combats which have been made Iselastic subsequent to their conquests, as they are denied it in the same case where the games have ceased to be so, it proves nothing in their favour; for notwithstanding any new arrangements which has been made relating to these games, they are not called upon to return the recompense which they received prior to such alteration.

CXXI

To the Emperor Trajan

I have hitherto never, Sir, granted an order for post-chaises to any person, or upon any occasion, but in affairs that relate to your administration. I find myself, however, at present under a sort of necessity of breaking through this fixed rule. My wife having received an account of her grandfather's death, and being desirous to wait upon her aunt with all possible expedition, I thought it would be unkind to deny her the use of this privilege; as the grace of so tender an office consists in the early discharge of it, and as I well knew a journey which was founded in filial piety could not fail of your approbation. I should think myself highly ungrateful therefore, were I not to acknowledge that, among other great obligations which I owe to your indulgence, I have this in particular, that, in confidence of your favour, I have ventured to do, without consulting you, what would have been too late had I waited for your consent.

CXXII

Trajan to Pliny

You did me justice, my dearest Secundus, in confiding in my affection towards you. Without doubt, if you had waited for my consent to forward your wife in her journey by means of those warrants which I have entrusted to your care, the use of them would not have answered your purpose; since it was proper this visit to her aunt should have the additional recommendation of being paid with all possible expedition.

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