Letters of the Younger Pliny, First Series— Volume 1

Author: Pliny the Younger


If I have ever been guided by judgment, it has been in the strength of regard I have for Asinius Rufus. He is one of a thousand, and a devoted admirer of all good men among whom why may I not include myself? He is on the very closest of terms of friendship with Cornelius Tacitus, and you know what an honourable man Tacitus is. So if you have any high opinion of both Tacitus and myself, you must also think as highly of Rufus as you do of us, since similarity of character is perhaps the strongest bond for cementing friendships. Rufus has a number of children. Even in this respect he has acted the part of a good citizen, in that he was willing to freely undertake the responsibilities entailed upon him by the fruitfulness of his wife, in an age when the advantages of being childless are such that many people consider even one son to be a burden. He has scorned all those advantages, and has also become a grandfather. For a grandfather he is, thanks to Saturius Firmus, whom you will love as I do when you know him as intimately.

I mention these particulars to show you what a large and numerous household you can oblige by a single favour, and I am induced to ask it from you, in the first place, because I wish to do so, and in the second, owing to a good omen. For we hope and prophesy that next year you will be consul, and we are led to make that forecast by your own good qualities, and by the opinion that the Emperor has of you. But it also happens that Asinius Bassus, the eldest son of Rufus, will be quaestor in the same year, and he is a young man even more worthy than his father, though I don’t know whether I ought to mention such a fact, which the modesty of the young fellow would deny, but which his father desires me to think and openly declare. Though you always repose confidence in what I say, it is difficult, I know, for you to credit my account of an absent man when I say that he possesses splendid industry, probity, learning, wit, application, and powers of memory, as you will discover for yourself when you have tried him. I only wish that our age was so productive of men of high character that there were others to whom you ought to give preference over Bassus; if it did, I should be the first to advise and exhort you to take a good look round, and consider long and carefully on whom your choice should fall. But as it is—yet no, I do not wish to boast about my friend, I will merely say that he is a young man well deserving of adoption by you as a son in the old-fashioned way. For prudent men, like yourself, ought to receive as children from the State children such as we are accustomed to hope that Nature will bestow upon us. When you are consul it will become you to have as quaestor a man whose father was praetor, and whose relatives are of consular rank, especially as he, although still young, is in his turn already in their judgment an honour to them and their family. So I hope you will grant my request and take my advice.

Above all, pardon me if you think I am acting prematurely, first, because in a State where to get a thing done depends on the earliness of the application, those who wait for the proper time find the fruit not only ripe but plucked, and, secondly, when one is anxious to get a favour it is very pleasant to enjoy in advance the certainty of obtaining it. Give Bassus the opportunity of respecting you even now as consul, and do you entertain a friendly regard for him as your quaestor, and let us who are devoted to both of you have the enjoyment of this double satisfaction. For while our regard for you and Bassus is such that we shall use all our resources, energy, and influence to obtain the advancement of Bassus, no matter to what consul he is assigned as quaestor—as well as the advancement of any quaestor that may be allotted to you—it would be immensely gratifying to us if we could at one and the same time prove our friendship and advance your interests as consul by helping the cause of our young friend, and if you of all people, whose wishes the Senate is so ready to gratify, and in whose recommendations they place such implicit trust, were to stand forth as the seconder of my desires. Farewell.


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Chicago: Pliny the Younger, "4.XV. To Fundanus.," Letters of the Younger Pliny, First Series— Volume 1, ed. Firth, John B. and trans. Mackail, J. W. (John William), 1859-1945 in Letters of the Younger Pliny, First Series—Volume 1 (New York: George E. Wood, ""Death-bed"" edition, 1892), Original Sources, accessed September 25, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=KQURG1CQN5GHN8B.

MLA: Pliny the Younger. "4.XV. To Fundanus." Letters of the Younger Pliny, First Series— Volume 1, edited by Firth, John B., and translated by Mackail, J. W. (John William), 1859-1945, in Letters of the Younger Pliny, First Series—Volume 1, New York, George E. Wood, ""Death-bed"" edition, 1892, Original Sources. 25 Sep. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=KQURG1CQN5GHN8B.

Harvard: Pliny the Younger, '4.XV. To Fundanus.' in Letters of the Younger Pliny, First Series— Volume 1, ed. and trans. . cited in ""Death-bed"" edition, 1892, Letters of the Younger Pliny, First Series—Volume 1, George E. Wood, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 25 September 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=KQURG1CQN5GHN8B.