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Pliny the Younger – Two comments on important work

December 31, 2014

From a letter to Novius Maximus (Book V, #5, of the collected letters):

“Death always seems to me cruel and untimely when it comes to those who are engaged on some immortal work, for when people abandon themselves to pleasure and live from day to day, their reasons for living are finished as each day comes to an end; but for those who think of posterity and seek to be remembered in their works, death is always sudden as it always cuts short some unfinished project.”

From a letter to Cornelius Tacitus (Book VI, #16, of the collected letters; this is the famous letter in which he describes the death of his uncle [Pliny the Elder] during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius):

“The fortunate man, in my opinion, is he to whom the gods have granted the power either to do something which is worth recording or to write what is worth reading, and most fortunate of all is the man who can do both.”

(from The Letters of the Younger Pliny [after 103 CE], translated by Betty Radice)


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