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conquests, however, had been too rapid to be secure, and Trajan, carried away by the flush of victory, instead of securing what he had won, was led away by vague dreams of rivalling Alexander, and sailed down with his fleet to the mouth of the Tigris ;1 and while courier after courier was announcing to the astonished senate successes over tribes till then unheard of the news reached Trajan, who was wintering at Babylon, that in Armenia, Eastern Mesopotamia, and Osrhoene there had been simultaneous risings, while farther away in Cyrene and Cyprus frightful atrocities were being perpetrated by the insurgent Jews. In Mesopotamia · the rising, though not without obstinate resistance, was stamped down by Lusius Quietus, but Armenia was only won back by offering to one of the claimants to its throne, Parthamaspates, the Parthian kingdom instead. Then in a plain near Ctesiphon was seen the strange sight of a Parthian king receiving his crown from a Roman emperor. But in spite of the medals struck to commemorate the event, and the explanations of the emperor, the step was a retreat, and implied the relinquishment of Assyria and the reconstitution of the Parthian empire. This was one of Trajan's last acts; disease began to show itself, possibly aggravated by anxiety and disappointment. The tide of success seemed to have turned. Hatra, an Arab stronghold in the desert, was able successfully to resist his attack, and broken down by illness he resigned the command of his projective expedition into Mesopotamia to Hadrian, and started himself for Italy. He, however, proceeded no farther than Selinus in Cilicia when, compelled to disembark, he died on rith August 117 A.D. Trajan, though not free from the vices of his time,4 on the whole seems to have deserved his cognomen 'optimus. No act of cruelty is attributed to him, and the title of 'pater patriae' was in his case no unmeaning or unfitting term. His reign marks a change of spirit rather than of institutions ; a benevolent despotism was substituted for a tyranny, but the radical defects of a centralised government in a heterogeneous empire were concealed, not removed. In his frontier wars the Augustan policy was for the first time essentially modified, perhaps not before it was time, but the i Dio Cass. 68, 28-29.
3 Cohen, 328, Rex Parthis datus. 2 1b. 1 c.
4 Dio Cass. 68, 7.
result of his annexations would depend chiefly on the policy pursued by his successors. Genial and sympathetic, he shared the trials and dangers of his soldiers as readily as the social entertainments of the nobility, while without pretensions to the higher culture himself, he was a generous patron of literature. In his civil legislation the meagre information we possess shows the same benevolence and equity. The 'patria potestas' was modified," the interests of minors were consulted, exposed children cared for, while the manumission of slaves was rendered more easy. The spirit of his criminal legislation is summed up in the maxim that it is better for a guilty person to remain unpunished than for an innocent one to be condemned.5
Authorities. The original authorities are exceptionally scanty. The abridgment of Dio Cassius by Xiphilinus (Book 68) is the most valuable, though its chronology is confused and the facts meagre. Pliny's ‘Panegyric,' though no doubt exaggerated and needing qualification gives some valuable information with regard to the first three years of the reign. His letters contain numerous allusions, which are, however, frequently obscure, except where light is thrown upon them from other sources. Eutropius devotes a chapter of Book viii and Aurelius Victor two chapters (Caes. 13, Epit. 13) to the reign. For the Parthian wars these authorities are supplemented by Joannes Malalas.
The inscriptions and medals relating to Trajan's reign are fortunately very numerous. For the former see the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum; for the latter Eckhel, 'Doctrina Numorum Veterum,' and Cohen, 'Monnaies Impériales,' vol. ii. Among modern writers, J. Aug. Bach has collected all the passages in the Digest relating to Trajan, ' Divus Traianus sive de legibus Traiani imperatoris,' Leipsic, 1747; Marmest has written on the Dacian wars, ‘Res Traiani imperatoris ad Danubium gestae,' 1793. Henri Francke's ‘Zur Geschichte Trajans und seiner Zeitgenossen,' Güstrow, 1837, is now superseded by Dierauer's ‘Beitrage zu einer Kritischen Geschichte Trajans,' Leipzic, 1868 ; and an essay by C. De la Berge. Sur le règne
1 Dig. xxxvii 12, 5. 2 Ib. xxvii 1, 17, 6.
3 Plin. Ep. ad Trai. 66.
5 Ib. xlviii 19, 5.
de Trajan' in the ‘Bibliothèque de l'école des Hautes Études.' Duruy in his 'Roman History,' vol. v., sums up all that is known of the reign, while Mommsen Hermes' iii pp. 31-140, has settled its chronology by proving from a comparison of various ‘Militaria Diplomata' that the second tribunicial power commenced on ist January 98 A.D." Mommsen's index to Keil's edition of Pliny's ‘Letters' gives all the information possible about the personages mentioned in the 'Letters.'
LIFE OF PLINY
It will be convenient to prefix to the account of Pliny's life the two most important of the four inscriptions which relate to him :
C., PLINIO 1. f.
POTESTA't.IN.EAM.PROVINCIAM.EX S. C. missus IMP CAESAR . NERVA . TRAIANO. AVG. GERMAN ico dacico
p. CVRATOR ALVEI I BERIS. ET. RIPARVM. Et cloacar.
urb. PRAEF AERARI SATV INI.PRAEF. AERARI. MILit.
Strib. QV AESTOR I M P. SEVIR'
EQVITVMT oma n or u m TRIB MILIT LEG iii GAL:L I CA
xvir. stli TIB IVDICAND THERM as
A DI ECT IS I N ORNATVM
TVTELAm HS CC.T.F.I. item in alimenta LIBERTOR. SVORVM. HOMIN.C. HS. XVIII LXVI DCLXVI REIP. legavit quorum inc REMENT.POSTEA.AD. EPVLVM. plEB.VRBAN.VOLVIT. PERTIN ere
item vivu S.DEDIT.IN.ALIMENT.PVEROR. ET.PVELLAR.PLEB.VRBAN.HSd item bybliothecam et IN.TVTELAM . BYBLIOTHE
Pliny was in all probability the second son of L. Caecilius Cilo, who belonged to the municipal nobility of the little town of Comum, in Italia Transpadana, where he had been ‘IIII vir aedilicia potestate. The son's name seems to have been P. Caecilius Secundus. The date of his birth was 61 or 62 A.D., since, at the time of the destruction of Pompeii (79 A.D.) he was eighteen. Of the early years of his boyhood and youth we know little, but he was almost certainly brought up at Comum, which he always spoke of as his patria, and in which he continued all his life to take a real and kindly interest.* His father's family, the Caecilii, had certainly been settled at Comum for several generations, as we know on the testimony of Catullus ;5 while his mother's family, the Plinii, also came from the same place, and had some hereditary property in the neighbourhood.? As Pliny says himself, Transpadane Italy still retained much of the temperance, frugality, and simplicity of earlier times, 'and it is impossible to doubt that to his bringing up and early surroundings and associations much of the charm of Pliny's character must be ascribed. His family on both sides was well off, and had been distinguished for its public spirit and liberality;' while, as Pliny says 10 that he should pass on ‘non subitas imagines' to any children that he might have, we may infer, perhaps, that his father was of equestrian, if not senatorial, rank.
no school at Comum in Pliny's boyhood," but no doubt good teachers were procured, and at any rate Pliny wrote a Greek tragedy at the age of fourteen 12
His father died while he was still a boy, and Pliny was put under the guardianship of Verginius Rufus, who showed him all the affection of a father, and whom Pliny in his turn regarded with the utmost veneration and admiration.13 The esteem in which the family was held is shown by the fact that the municipality of Tifernum Tiberinum made Pliny its 'patronus' while still hardly more than a boy.14 With a
1 For the names both of father and 6 Suet. Vit. Plin., and several inscripson, see Gruter, p. 376, 5 and Momms. tions. Hermes, iïi (in Morel's transl., p. 32).
2 Ep. vi 20, 5:
5 Cat. 35: ‘Poetae tenero, meo sodali,
8. veniat, Novi relinquens Comi moenia.'
7 vii 11, 5.
14 iv 1, 4.
guardian so influential as Verginius Rufus, and possessed of so much hereditary wealth and local prestige, the young Pliny was naturally marked out for a more than municipal career, and he was accordingly sent to Rome to finish his education. There he attended the lectures of Nicetes Sacerdos, a celebrated rhetorician from Smyrna, and also of the still more famous Quintilian, who was appointed to a chair of rhetoric in Rome by Vespasian. But the zeal and enthusiasm for study which was so 'marked a feature in Pliny, as we know him in his maturity, was doubtless derived to a great extent from hiş intercourse with his maternal uncle, C. Plinius Secundus, who after having passed through several grades of the equestrian career, had since the last years of Nero's reign devoted himself mainly to a life of study. In 79 A.D., however, he was praefect of the fleet at Misenum,* and Pliny and his mother were staying with him there in August of that year at the time when the eruption of Vesuvius took place. An interesting account of that event, and of the death of his uncle, which was caused by it, is given by Pliny to Tacitus. From this time Pliny appears under the name by which he is generally known. By his uncle's will he was adopted as his son, and therefore became a member of the Plinian gens. Under the strict usages of the republic he would have become C. Plinius C. F. Secundus Caecilianus, but under the empire testamentary adoption was little more than the bequeathing of property under condition of a change of name, and accordingly we find that his official title was C. Plinius L. F. Caecilius Secundus.? Pliny was now eighteen years of age, and we find him within a year making his début as a pleader before the centumviral court in the Basilica Iulia.8 This court continued to be his special arena, and though in later life he practised there less frequently, he had not entirely given it up when the last book of his Letters was published. It was soon after this, but probably not until Domitian was emperor,10 that Pliny married his first wife, while about the same time he achieved his first signal success in the centumviral court.12 In 81 or 82 A.D. i vi 6, 3; and Tac. Dial. c. 15.
? See inscription, p. 16. 2 vi 6, 3; i 14, 9.
v 8, 8. 3 Suet. Vit. Plin.; Ep. iii 5, 17.
9 vi 12, 2.
10 Ad Trai. 2, 2. 5 vi 16 and 20.
4 vi 16, 4.
6 v 8, 5.
11 i 18, 3. 12 i 18, 4.