Pliny, Trajan and a Grant of Citizenship

CVI Pliny to Trajan

“I was asked, lord, by Publius Accius Aquila, a centurion in the sixth cohort of the cavalry, to send you a document asking for your indulgence on the status of his daughter as a citizen. I think it is hard to deny, since I know how much you are accustomed to hearing your soldiers’ requests with patience and kindness.”

CVI C. Plinius Traiano Imperatori
Rogatus, domine, a P. Accio Aquila, centurione cohortis sextae equestris, ut mitterem tibi libellum per quem indulgentiam pro statu filiae suae implorat, durum putavi negare, cum scirem quantam soleres militum precibus patientiam humanitatemque praestare.

CVII Traianus Plinio

“I read the request from Publius Accius Aguila, the centurion of the sixth cavalry cohort, which you sent to me. I have acceded to his pleas for his daughter to have Roman citizenship. I have sent you the document which you may provide to him.”

Libellum P. Accii Aquilae, centurionis sextae equestris, quem mihi misisti, legi; cuius precibus motus dedi filiae eius civitatem Romanam. Libellum rescriptum quem illi redderes, misi tibi.

Roman Military Diploma

A Husband Writes Home with a Packing List

P.Mich. 3 214

“Paniskos [writes] to my spouse, Ploutogenia, mother of my daughter, many greetings.

Above all, I pray for your good fortune every day from the paternal gods. I want you to know, sister, that we have been staying in Koptos near your sister and her children, so do not feel any annoyance at coming to Koptos, since your relatives are here. And just as you wholly desire to embrace her much and you pray to the gods each day, so too does she long to embrace you with your mother.

As soon as you receive this letter, make ready so that you may come immediately if I send for you. And, when you come, bring with you: ten skins of wool, six jars of olives, four of honey, my shield—only the unused one—and my helmet. Oh, bring my lances too. Bring also all the parts for the tent. If you find the occasion, come here with good people. Have Nonnos come too. Bring all of our clothing when you come. Also bring your golden jewelry when you come, but don’t wear those things openly on the boat.

Greetings to my lady and my daughter Heliodôra. Hermias says hello.

On the other side: “Give this to my wife and my daughter. From their father Paniskos.”

Πανίσκο[ς] τῇ σοιμβ[ί]ῳ μου Πλουτογενίᾳ μητρὶ τῆς θυγατρός μου πλῖστα χαίρειν. πρὸ μὲν <πάντων> εὔχομέ σοι τὴν ὁλοκληρία[ν] καθ᾿ ἑκάστην ἡμέραν παρὰ τοῖς θεοῖς πᾶ⟦τρ⟧σι. γινώσκειν σε οὖν θέλω, ἀδελφή, ὅτι ἐν Κόπτωι αἰ⟦ε⟧μίναμεν ἐνγὺς τῆς ἀδελφῆς ⟦μου⟧ σου καὶ τῶν τέκνων αὐτῆς, ὅπως μὴ λυπηθῇς ἐρχομένη ἐν τῇ Κόπτῳ· εἰσὶ γὰρ ἐνθάδε οἱ ἀδελφοί σου. ὅπερ καὶ σὺ πάντως βούλῃ αὐτὴν ἀσπάσαστε {αὐτὴν} πολλά, τοῖς θεοῖς εὔχετ[ε] καθ᾿ ἡμέραν βουλομένη σε ἀσπάζε[σ]θαι μετὰ τῆς μητρός σου. δ[ε]ξαμ[έ]νη οὖν μου τὰ γράμ <μα>-τα ταῦτα ποίησόν σου τὰ <κατὰ> χέρα, ὅπως, ἐὰν πέμψω ἐπὶ σέν, ταχέως ἔλθῃς. καὶ ἔνεγκον ἐρχομένη ποκάρια ἐριδίων δέκα, ἐλεῶν κεράμια ἕξ, στά⟦υ⟧γματος κεράμια τέσσερα, καὶ τὸ ὅπλον μου τὸ κενὸν μόνον, τὸ κασίδιόν μου. φέρε καὶ τὰ λογχία μου. φέρε καὶ τὰ τοῦ παπυλίωνος σκεύη. ἐὰν εὕρητε εὐκερίαν, μετὰ ἀνθρώπων καλῶν δεῦτε. ἐρχέστω μεθ᾿ ἡμῶν Νόννος. ἔνεγκον ἡμῶν πάντα τὰ ἡμάτια ἐρχομένη. ἔνεγκον ἐρχομένη σου τὰ χρυσία, ἀλλὰ μὴ αὐτὰ φορέσῃς ἐν τῷ πλο[ί]ῳ. ἀσπάζεμε τὴν κυρίαν μου θυγατέραν Ἡλιοδώραν. ἀσπάζετε ὑμᾶς Ἑρμίας.


The Implements We Worship

Anonymous, Epistle to Diognetus 2

“Again, couldn’t those things which you worship be reshaped by humans into implements similar to the rest? Aren’t they all deaf? Aren’t they all blind? Aren’t they soulless and without perception? Aren’t they incapable of motion? Aren’t they rotting? Aren’t they decaying?

And you call these things gods. You are slaves to these things. You worship them. In the end, you will be like them.”

οὐ ταῦτα πάλιν, τὰ νῦν ὑφ᾿ ὑμῶν προσκυνούμενα, δύναιτ᾿ ἂν ὑπὸ ἀνθρώπων σκεύη ὅμοια γενέσθαι τοῖς λοιποῖς; οὐ κωφὰ πάντα; οὐ τυφλά; οὐκ ἄψυχα; οὐκ ἀναίσθητα; οὐκ ἀκίνητα; οὐ πάντα σηπόμενα; οὐ πάντα φθειρόμενα;

ταῦτα θεοὺς καλεῖτε, τούτοις δουλεύετε, τούτοις προσκυνεῖτε, τέλεον δ᾿ αὐτοῖς ἐξομοιοῦσθε.

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Living Like Cicero–Reading Things, Writing Things

Cicero, Letters 197 (IX.26) to Papirius Paetus

“And so, life passes. Each day, something is read or is written. Then, since I owe something to my friends, I eat with them–not beyond the law, as if anything is these days, but just a little short of it and clearly so. You don’t need to fear my visit at all. You’ll find a guest who eats little, but has many jokes.”

Sic igitur vivitur. cottidie aliquid legitur aut scribitur. dein, ne amicis nihil tribuamus, epulamur una non modo non contra legem, si ulla nunc lex est, sed etiam intra legem, et quidem aliquanto. qua re nihil est quod adventum nostrum extimescas. non multi cibi hospitem accipies, multi ioci.

Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 281 (XII.40)

“Well, you write that you fear that my reputation and my respect is depleted because of my mourning and I don’t understand what people are criticizing or what they expect. That I not feel grief? How’s that possible? Should I not be laid out because of it? Who was ever less paralyzed than me? When your home was lifting me up, who did I refuse? Who came and was offended?

I left from you for Astura. These pleasant folks who criticize me can’t even read the number of pages I have written. How well they would do it is another matter, but it is the kind of writing that no one with a truly depressed spirit could accomplish. So, I spend thirty days at “the garden”. Did anyone go lacking seeing me or enjoying my easy conversation?

Right now I am reading things, I am writing things even as those who are with me are managing leisure worse than I handle work. If anyone asks why I’m not at Rome it’s because it’s vacation.”

Quod scribis te vereri ne et gratia et auctoritas nostra hoc meo maerore minuatur, ego quid homines aut reprehendant aut postulent nescio. ne doleam? qui potest? ne iaceam? quis umquam minus? dum tua me domus levabat, quis a me exclusus? quis venit qui offenderet? Asturam sum a te profectus. legere isti laeti qui me reprehendunt tam multa non possunt quam ego scripsi. quam bene, nihil ad rem; sed genus scribendi id fuit quod nemo abiecto animo facere posset. triginta dies in horto fui. quis aut congressum meum aut facilitatem sermonis desideravit? nunc ipsum ea lego, ea scribo ut hi qui mecum sunt difficilius otium ferant quam ego laborem. si quis requirit cur Romae non sim: quia discessus est

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A Model Friend Request for Readers; A Somewhat Awkward Dating Profile

Dio Chrysostom, 18.21

 “I would like it, if it were also pleasing to you, for us to meet at some time and then, spending time with ancient writers and talking about them, be useful to one another.”

βουλοίμην δ᾿ ἄν, εἴ σοι κεχαρισμένον εἴη, καὶ ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ ποτε ἡμᾶς γενέσθαι, ἵνα καὶ ἐντυγχάνοντες τοῖς παλαιοῖς καὶ διαλεγόμενοι περὶ αὐτῶν χρήσιμοί τι γενοίμεθα.

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[I actually find this sentiment a little sweet and completely relatable]

The Difference between Dialogues and Letters

Demetrius, On Style 223-224

“Then we will talk about the style of a letter which also needs to be simple. Artemôn who edited the letters of Aristotle, says that we ought to write letters the same way as dialogues since a letter is similar to one side of a dialogue.

Perhaps he speaks the truth in this, but not all of it. For a letter ought to be a little more formalized than a dialogue. For a dialogue imitates speaking extemporaneously while a letter is written and sent as a gift in some way.”

(223) Ἐπεὶ δὲ καὶ ὁ ἐπιστολικὸς χαρακτὴρ δεῖται ἰσχνότητος, καὶ περὶ αὐτοῦ λέξομεν. Ἀρτέμων μὲν οὖν ὁ τὰς Ἀριστοτέλους ἀναγράψας ἐπιστολάς φησιν, ὅτι δεῖ ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ τρόπῳ διάλογόν τε γράφειν καὶ ἐπιστολάς· εἶναι γὰρ τὴν ἐπιστολὴν οἷον τὸ ἕτερον μέρος τοῦ διαλόγου.

(224) καὶ λέγει μέν τι ἴσως, οὐ μὴν ἅπαν· δεῖ γὰρ ὑποκατεσκευάσθαι πως μᾶλλον τοῦ διαλόγου τὴν ἐπιστολήν· ὁ μὲν γὰρ μιμεῖται αὐτοσχεδιάζοντα, ἡ δὲ γράφεται καὶ δῶρον πέμπεται τρόπον τινά.


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“I hear You’re a Lover of Learning”: An Unlikely Letter to a Leader

Isocrates, Letter to Alexander, 5

“I hear everyone saying how you are a man of goodwill to humanity and lover of learning, not foolishly so, but in practical fashion. For they add that you welcome some of our citizens who have not neglected themselves by pursuing base interests but those in whose presence you would not feel any grief by staying and whose alliance and shared goals would bring you neither harm nor injustice. Indeed, these are the sorts of men wise people should choose to be near.

When it comes to schools of philosophy, people report that you do not despise the practice of eristic argumentation, which you think is right to value in individual conversations, you do think that it is not proper for those in charge of many people or those who rule in monarchies. For, it is not advantageous or proper for those who think that they are greater than others to strive with politicians on their own or to allow others to disagree with them.

I hear that you do not take pleasure in this training, but instead have selected for yourself education about arguments which you might use in response to events which transpire on any given day and which help us us make plans about common affairs. Through this, it is possible to form an appropriate opinion about what will happen in the future and to give commands competently to the people you rule as to what is best for each person to do, you will learn how to make good judgments about what is right and just and opposite to both. In addition, you will learn when to honor and criticize as is fitting for each group.

You are wise, then, in showing concern for these things. For you provide hope to your father and the rest that, as you get older if you persist in these studies, you will outpace others as far in prudence as your father has surpassed all people [in war].”


Ἀκούω δέ σε πάντων λεγόντων ὡς φιλάνθρωπος εἶ καὶ φιλαθήναιος καὶ φιλόσοφος, οὐκ ἀφρόνως ἀλλὰ νοῦν ἐχόντως. τῶν τε γὰρ πολιτῶν ἀποδέχεσθαί σε τῶν ἡμετέρων οὐ τοὺς ἠμεληκότας αὑτῶν καὶ πονηρῶν πραγμάτων ἐπιθυμοῦντας, ἀλλ᾿ οἷς συνδιατρίβων τ᾿ οὐκ ἂν λυπηθείης, συμβάλλων τε καὶ κοινωνῶν πραγμάτων οὐδὲν ἂν βλαβείης οὐδ᾿ ἀδικηθείης, οἵοις περ χρὴ πλησιάζειν τοὺς εὖ φρονοῦντας· τῶν τε φιλοσοφιῶν οὐκ ἀποδοκιμάζειν μὲν οὐδὲ τὴν περὶ τὰς ἔριδας, ἀλλὰ νομίζειν εἶναι πλεονεκτικὴν ἐν ταῖς ἰδίαις διατριβαῖς, οὐ μὴν ἁρμόττειν οὔτε τοῖς τοῦ πλήθους προεστῶσιν οὔτε τοῖς τὰς μοναρχίας ἔχουσιν· οὐδὲ γὰρ συμφέρον οὐδὲ πρέπον ἐστὶ τοῖς μεῖζον τῶν ἄλλων φρονοῦσιν οὔτ᾿ αὐτοῖς ἐρίζειν πρὸς τοὺς συμπολιτευομένους οὔτε τοῖς ἄλλοις ἐπιτρέπειν πρὸς αὑτοὺς ἀντιλέγειν.

Ταύτην μὲν οὖν οὐκ ἀγαπᾶν σε τὴν διατριβήν, προαιρεῖσθαι δὲ τὴν παιδείαν τὴν περὶ τοὺς λόγους, οἷς χρώμεθα περὶ τὰς πράξεις τὰς προσπιπτούσας καθ᾿ ἑκάστην τὴν ἡμέραν καὶ μεθ᾿ ὧν βουλευόμεθα περὶ τῶν κοινῶν· δι᾿ ἣν νῦν τε δοξάζειν περὶ τῶν μελλόντων ἐπιεικῶς, τοῖς τ᾿ ἀρχομένοις προστάττειν οὐκ ἀνοήτως ἃ δεῖ πράττειν ἑκάστους, ἐπιστήσει, περὶ δὲ τῶν καλῶν καὶ δικαίων καὶ τῶν τούτοις ἐναντίων ὀρθῶς κρίνειν, πρὸς δὲ τούτοις τιμᾶν τε καὶ κολάζειν ὡς προσῆκόν ἐστιν ἑκατέρους. σωφρονεῖς οὖν νῦν ταῦτα μελετῶν· ἐλπίδας γὰρ τῷ τε πατρὶ καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις παρέχεις, ὡς, ἂν πρεσβύτερος γενόμενος ἐμμείνῃς τούτοις, τοσοῦτον προέξεις τῇ φρονήσει τῶν ἄλλων, ὅσον περ ὁ πατήρ σου διενήνοχεν ἁπάντων

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