From Pliny’s Letters, 1.3:
“Why not just entrust the lower and dirtier business to someone else, and apply yourself to your studies in that rich and lofty retreat? Let this be your business, let this be your leisure; let this be both your work and your rest. Let your waking hours and your sleep be spent in your studies. Contrive and fashion something which will be yours forever. All of your other affairs will find one master after another after you are gone, but this will never cease to be yours, if it ever comes into being. I know what spirit, what intellect I am urging on; you should just strive to be worth as much to yourself as you will appear to others if you become so to yourself. Farewell.”
3 Quin tu — tempus enim — humiles et sordidas curas aliis mandas, et ipse te in alto isto pinguique secessu studiis asseris? Hoc sit negotium tuum hoc otium; hic labor haec quies; in his vigilia, in his etiam somnus reponatur. 4 Effinge aliquid et excude, quod sit perpetuo tuum. Nam reliqua rerum tuarum post te alium atque alium dominum sortientur, hoc numquam tuum desinet esse si semel coeperit. 5 Scio quem animum, quod horter ingenium; tu modo enitere ut tibi ipse sis tanti, quanti videberis aliis si tibi fueris. Vale.
5 thoughts on “Pliny’s Advice to a Friend: Retire, Read, and Write!”
You are making me like Pliny. Damn you.
This may sound shocking, but I had never read any Pliny before; I found a cheap OCT on Amazon and dove right in. I’m about a third of the way through his letters, and I rather like the guy! Everyone makes a big deal about his somewhat excessive consultation of Trajan’s inclinations regarding the persecution of Christians, but how differently would anyone else have acted in a similar situation?
He often brings up interesting anecdotes, he has interesting correspondents (e.g. Trajan, Tacitus), and he’s always talking about reading – what’s not to love?