Delight in Books; Contempt for Sports

Pliny, Letters 9.6:

“I spent this entire time among my notes and books in the most pleasant repose. ‘How,’ you might ask, ‘could you do that in the city?’ The Circensian Games were on, and I am not attracted by that kind of spectacle in the least. There is nothing new, nothing interesting, nothing which needs to be seen more than once. Indeed, I wonder that so many thousands of men can feel such a childish desire to watch horses running over and over. If they were attracted by the speed of the horses or the skill of the riders, it would not be wholly unreasonable. Now, though they favor the cloth they sport, they love the cloth; if in the middle of the very same race the colors were changed, the zeal and favor of the fans would transfer over, and they would immediately abandon those riders and those horses whom they see from afar, and whose names they shout at the top of their lungs.”

OMNE hoc tempus inter pugillares ac libellos incundissima quiete transmisi. “Quem ad modum,” inquis, “in urbe potuisti?” Circenses erant; quo genere spectaculi ne levissime quidem teneor. Nihil novum, nihil varium, nihil quod non semel spectasse sufficiat. Quo magis miror tot milia virorum tam pueriliter identidem cupere currentes equos, insistentes curribus homines videre. Si tamen aut velocitate equorum aut hominum arte traherentur, esset ratio nonnulla; nunc favent panno, pannum amant, et si in ipso cursu medioque certamine hic color illuc, ille huc transferatur, studium favorque transibit, et repente agitatores illos, equos illos, quos procul noscitant, quorum clamitant nomina, relinquent.

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