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Pliny the Younger (A.D. 62?–c.A.D. 113).  Letters.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
I. To the Emperor Trajan
 
 
THE PIOUS 1 affection you bore, most sacred Emperor, to your august father induced you to wish it might be late ere you succeeded him. But the immortal gods thought proper to hasten the advancement of those virtues to the helm of the commonwealth which had already shared in the steerage. 2 May you then, and the world through your means, enjoy every prosperity worthy of your reign: to which let me add my wishes, most excellent Emperor, upon a private as well as public account, that your health and spirits may be preserved firm and unbroken.  1
 
Note 1. The greater part of the following letters were written by Pliny during his administration in the province of Bithynia. They are of a style and character extremely different from those in the preceding collection; whence some critics have injudiciously inferred that they are the production of another hand: not considering that the occasion necessarily required a different manner. In letters of business, as these chiefly are, turn and sentiment would be foreign and impertinent; politeness and elegance of expression being the essentials that constitute perfection in this kind: and in that view, though they may be less entertaining, they have not less merit than the former. But besides their particular excellence as letters, they have a farther recommendation as so many valuable pieces of history, by throwing a strong light upon the character of one of the most amiable and glorious princes in the Roman annals. Trajan appears throughout in the most striking attitude that majesty can be placed in; in the exertion of power to the godlike purposes of justice and benevolence: and what one of the ancient historians has said of him is here clearly verified, that “he rather chose to be loved than flattered by his people.” To have been distinguished by the favour and friendship of a monarch of so exalted a character is an honour that reflects the brightest lustre upon our author; as to have been served and celebrated by a courtier of Pliny’s genius and virtues is the noblest monument of glory that could have been raised to Trajan. M. [back]
Note 2. Nerva, who succeeded Domitian, reigned but sixteen months and a few days. Before his death he not only adopted Trajan, and named him for his successor, but actually admitted him into a share of the government; giving him the titles of Cæsar, Germanicus, and Imperator. Vid. Plin. Paneg. M. [back]
 

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