Latin Prose Literature - A Day in the Life of Pliny the Elder

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  • Created by: xoxolucy
  • Created on: 12-12-15 14:31


A Day in the Life of Pliny the Elder

Before dawn he used to go to the Emperor Vespasian (for he also used to make use of the night), then to the duty assigned to him. Having returned home, he used to devote the remaning time to his studies.

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Often after breakfast (which, in the manner of the old, was light and easily digested during the day) in the summer, if there was any leisure time, he used to lie in the sun, a book was read, and he used to make notes and take extracts. 

For he read nothing which he did not take extracts from; indeed he used to say that no book was so bad that it was not of use in some part.

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After time in the sun he was usually bathed in cold water, then he used to eat and sleep a very little; soon, as though in another day, he used to study until dinner time. Over dinner a book was read and notes made, and indeed rapidly.


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He did these things in the middle of the chores and the bustle of the city. On retreat only time in the baths was taken away from his studies (when I say 'the baths', I am talking about the inner rooms; for while he was being scraped and dried he used to listen to something or dictate).

On a journey as though free from other cares, he was free for this one thing: at his side was a secretary with a book and writhing tablets, whose hands were protected in winter by gloves, so that not even the harshness of the weather should steal any time from study. 

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For that reason he used to be carried in a litter in Rome too. I remember that I was scolded by him, because I used to walk: "You could not have wasted these hours"; for he believed that all time was dead, which was not spent on studies. Goodbye.


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