Saturday, 29 April 2017

Pliny: retirement.

Pliny has heard that his friend Pomponius Bassus has retired and writes a letter to congratulate him: now he has time for travelling, reading and living at ease. It is noteworthy how this life of retirement does not differ much from that of modern day well off pensioners. If I may believe advertisements, it must be fantastic. We will see, still some years to go.

Plinius, Epistulae, 4. 23


1 Magnam cepi voluptatem, cum ex communibus amicis cognovi te, ut sapientia tua dignum est, et disponere otium et ferre, habitare amoenissime, et nunc terra nunc mari corpus agitare, multum disputare, multum audire, multum lectitare, cumque plurimum scias, cotidie tamen aliquid addiscere. 2 Ita senescere oportet virum, qui magistratus amplissimos gesserit, exercitus rexerit, totumque se rei publicae quam diu decebat obtulerit. 3 Nam et prima vitae tempora et media patriae, extrema nobis impertire debemus, ut ipsae leges monent, quae maiorem annis otio reddunt. 4 Quando mihi licebit, quando per aetatem honestum erit imitari istud pulcherrimae quietis exemplum? quando secessus mei non desidiae nomen sed tranquillitatis accipient? Vale.

S: salutem dicit
cum cognavi te: when I learnt that you
dignus (+abl.):  worthy of
disponere otium et ferre: to arrange and experience your retirement
amoenissime: most pleasantly
agito: to exercise
disputo: to discuss
lectito: to read
cumque: and though
addisco addidici: to learn in addition
qui magistratus amplissimos gesserit: who has fulfilled the most splendid magisterial offices
quam diu decebat: as long as was fitting
offero obtuli oblatum: to dedicate (+ dat.)
tempora vitae also with media and extrema
impertio impertivi impertivus: to give oneself, devote
ipsae leges: it is unclear what laws exactly and what age they refer to, but 60 or 65 year is likely.
maiorem annis: a man of advanced years
reddo reddidi redditum: to grant (+ dat.)
per aetatem: because of my age
honestum erit imitari: it will be hounorable to follow
quietis: of rest (from duties, not from being inactive)
secessus –us (m.): recess, holiday
desidia: idleness
nomen accipient: will receive the designation of

Translation Done into English By several Hands. 1723

IT was a great Satisfaction to me, to hear from our Common Friends, that you, as it becomes your good Sense, employ your Leisure and bear it, live very delightfully, make Use of Exercise, by Land or Water, converse, hear, and read very much; and tho' you are very knowing, yet you daily learn. Thus the Man should grow old, who has gone thro' the greatest Offices, has commanded Armies, and given himself up entirely, as far as it was fit for him, to the Common-wealth. For we ought to sacrifice the First and the Middle Times of Life to our Country, the last to our selves; as the very Laws admonish us, which restore a Man, that is past his LXth Year, to his private Repose. When shall I have that Liberty? When shall my Age make it reputable for me to Copy after this Pattern of honourable Ease? When shall my Retreat have the Name, not of Supineness, but of Tranquility?

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