Roman men could form loving, parental bonds with their friends' children.
MAURICO SUO S.
1 Quid a te mihi
iucundius potuit iniungi, quam ut praeceptorem fratris tui liberis quaererem?
Nam beneficio tuo in scholam redeo, et illam dulcissimam aetatem quasi resumo:
sedeo inter iuvenes ut solebam, atque etiam experior quantum apud illos
auctoritatis ex studiis habeam. 2 Nam proxime frequenti auditorio inter se
coram multis ordinis nostri clare iocabantur; intravi, conticuerunt; quod non
referrem, nisi ad illorum magis laudem quam ad meam pertineret, ac nisi sperare
te vellem posse fratris tui filios probe discere. 3 Quod superest, cum omnes qui
profitentur audiero, quid de quoque sentiam scribam, efficiamque quantum tamen
epistula consequi potero, ut ipse omnes audisse videaris. 4 Debeo enim tibi, debeo memoriae
fratris tui hanc fidem hoc studium, praesertim super tanta re. Nam quid magis
interest vestra, quam ut liberi - dicerem tui, nisi nunc illos magis amares -
digni illo patre, te patruo reperiantur? quam curam mihi etiam si non mandasses
vindicassem. 5 Nec
ignoro suscipiendas offensas in eligendo praeceptore, sed oportet me non modo
offensas, verum etiam simultates pro fratris tui filiis tam aequo animo subire
quam parentes pro suis. Vale.
--Pliny the Younger, Ep. II.18
What can be a more fun favor for me to do for you, than to find a tutor
for your brother’s kids? For now, thanks to you, I can go back to school &
return to the best days of my life: I get to sit in on classes with the
youngins, as I used to, and I get to experience their respect for me in their
studies. (2) Recently, I entered the noisy classroom where they were all chatting
amongst each other with their peers, and as soon as I entered the room, they quieted
down. I’m only mentioning this to show off their good behavior, not my own, and
because I don’t want to you worry about your brother’s kids not getting a good
education. (3) I’ll observe the teachers and I’ll tell you what I think about
them in a letter that is so detailed that you’ll think you’ve heard them teaching yourself. (4) I’m going to do this with concern and care, because I owe this to
you and to the memory of your brother. For what’s more important for these kids—I
would say *your* kids, because I know how much you love them as your own—than that
they get the education that is worthy of their father, and worthy of you, their
uncle? And I’ll do this for you, even if you haven’t asked me to. (5) I know
that when I find the perfect tutor for these kids, I’ll make whoever isn’t
chosen angry, but I don’t care. Let them be mad. This is for your brother’s
kids, and I’ll deal with it calmly as if they were my own.
Plinius Caecilius Secundus
Date: 61 BCE – 113 CE
Pliny the Younger was an Italian born noble
and nephew of the famous natural historian Pliny the Elder. He is best known
for publishing his private correspondence, in which he flouts his connections
with other illustrious Romans (including the Emperor Trajan and the author
Tacitus). Two of the most famous examples of these are his “eyewitness”
account of the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE and his letter to the
emperor Trajan regarding the treatment of Christians.
SILVER AGE LATIN