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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
To Minutius Fundanus: How Time Passes at Rome
By Pliny the Younger (61/2–c. 113 A.D.)
From ‘Letters’: Translation of William Melmoth and Frederick Charles Tindal Bosanquet

WHEN one considers how the time passes at Rome, one can not be surprised that, take any single day, and it either is, or at least seems to be, spent reasonably enough; and yet, upon casting up the whole sum, the amount will appear quite otherwise. Ask any one, “What have you been doing to-day?” He will tell you perhaps, “I have been at the ceremony of putting on the toga virilis; I attended a wedding; one man begged me to be witness to his will; another to attend the hearing of his case; a third called me in to a consultation.” These things seem important enough whilst one is about them; yet, when you reflect at your leisure that every day has been thus employed, they seem mere trifles. At such a time one is apt to think to oneself, “How much of my life I have frittered away in dull, useless, routine sort of work.” At least it is a reflection which frequently comes across me at Laurentum, after I have been doing a little reading and writing, and taking care of the animal machine (for the body must be supported if we would keep the mind alert and vigorous). There I neither hear nor speak anything I have occasion to be sorry for. No one talks scandal to me, and I find fault with nobody,—unless myself, when I am dissatisfied with my compositions. There I live undisturbed by rumor, and free from the anxious solicitudes of hope and fear, conversing only with myself and my books. True and genuine life! Sweet and honorable repose! More, perhaps, to be desired than employments of any kind! Thou solemn sea and solitary shore, true and most retired school of art and poetry, with how many noble thoughts do you inspire me! Snatch then, my friend, as I have, the first opportunity of leaving the town with its din, its empty bustle and laborious trifles, and devote your days to study or to repose; for as Attilius happily observed, “It is better to have nothing to do than to be doing nothing.” Farewell.  1

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