The Letters of the Younger Pliny

Date: 1900

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Chapter XXI Roman Life as Seen in Pliny’s Letters



Pliny’s Wife


As you4 yourself are a model of the family virtues, as you returned the affection of your brother, who was the best of men and devoted to you, and as you love his daughter as though she was your own child, and show her not only the affection of an aunt, but even that of the father she has lost, I feel sure you will be delighted to know that she is proving herself worthy of her father, worthy of you, and worthy of her grandfather. She has a sharp wit, she is wonderfully economical, and she loves me dearly. . . . Moreover, owing to her fondness for me, she has developed a taste for study. She collects all my speeches, she reads them, and learns them by heart. When I am about to plead, what anxiety she shows; when the pleading is over, how pleased she is! She has relays of people to bring her news as to the reception I get, the applause I excite, and the verdicts I win from the judges. Whenever I recite, she sits near me, screened from the audience by a curtain, and her ears greedily drink in what people say to my credit. She even sings my verses and sets them to music, though she has no master to teach her but love, which is the best instructor of all. Hence, I feel perfectly assured that our mutual happiness will be lasting, and will continue to grow day by day. For she loves in me not my youth or my person — both of which are subject to gradual decay and age — but my reputation. . . .

1 , translated by J. B. Firth. 2 vols. London, 1900. Walter Scott.

2 See page 243, note 2.

3 Pliny, Letters, iv, 19.

4 This letter was written to a lady named Hispulla, the aunt of Pliny’s third wife, Calpurnia.

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Chicago: J. B. Firth., trans., The Letters of the Younger Pliny in Readings in Early European History, ed. Webster, Hutton (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1926), 241. Original Sources, accessed September 29, 2023,

MLA: . The Letters of the Younger Pliny, translted by J. B. Firth., in Readings in Early European History, edited by Webster, Hutton, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1926, page 241. Original Sources. 29 Sep. 2023.

Harvard: (trans.), The Letters of the Younger Pliny. cited in 1926, Readings in Early European History, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.241. Original Sources, retrieved 29 September 2023, from