Pliny the Younger (A.D. 62?c.A.D. 113). Letters. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
XXXI. To Julius Genitor
IT is just like the generous disposition of Artemidorus to magnify the kindnesses of his friends; hence he praises my deserts (though he is really indebted to me) beyond their due. It is true indeed that when the philosophers were expelled from Rome,1 I visited him at his house near the city, and ran the greater risk in paying him that civility, as it was more noticeable then, I being prætor at the time. I supplied him too with a considerable sum to pay certain debts he had contracted upon very honourable occasions, without charging interest, though obliged to borrow the money myself, while the rest of his rich, powerful friends stood by, hesitating about giving him assistance. I did this at a time when seven of my friends were either executed or banished; Senecio, Rusticus, and Helvidius having just been put to death, while Mauricus, Gratilla, Arria, and Fannia were sent into exile; and scorched, as it were, by so many lightning-bolts of the state thus hurled and flashing round me, I augured by no uncertain tokens my own impending doom. But I do not look upon myself, on that account, as deserving of the high praises my friend bestows upon me: all I pretend to is the being clear of the infamous guilt of abandoning him his misfortunes. I had, as far as the differences between our ages would admit, a friendship for his father-in-law Musonius, whom I both loved and esteemed, while Artemidorus himself I entered into the closest intimacy with when I was serving as a military tribune in Syria. And I consider as a proof that there is some good in me the fact of my being so early capable of appreciating a man who is either a philosopher or the nearest resemblance to one possible; for I am sure that, amongst all those who at the present day call themselves philosophers, you will find hardly any one of them so full of sincerity and truth as he. I forbear to mention how patient he is of heat and cold alike, how indefatigable in labour, how abstemious in his food, and what an absolute restraint he puts upon all his appetites; for these qualities, considerable as they would certainly be in any other character, are less noticeable by the side of the rest of those virtues of his which recommended him to Musonius for a son-in-law, in preference to so many others of all ranks who paid their addresses to his daughter. And when I think of all these things, I cannot help feeling pleasurably affected by those unqualified terms of praise in which he speaks of me to you as well as to everyone else. I am only apprehensive lest the warmth of his kind feeling carry him beyond the due limits; for he, who is so free from all other errors, is apt to fall into just this one good-natured one, of overrating the merits of his friends. Farewell.
Note 1. Domitian banished the philosophers not only from Rome, but Italy, as Suetonius (Dom. c. x.) and Aulus Gellius (Noct. Att. b. xv., cxi. 3, 4, 5) inform us; among these was the celebrated Epictetus. M. [back]