Reader_Lecture_05

Reader_Lecture_05 - Pliny the Younger's "Panegyric in...

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Pliny the Younger’s “Panegyric in Praise of Trajan” (Excerpts) Trans. by FPGarland, from Masterpieces of Eloquence , ed. MW Hazeltine et al. (New York: Collier, 1905 .( Caius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, nephew and son of the elder Pliny, was born at Novum Comum in 62 CE. After studying rhetoric under Quintilian, he began his career as advocate at the age of nineteen. He subsequently serve in Syria as a military tribune, was a quaestor under Domitian, and consul under the emperor Trajan. About the year 112 he governed Bithynia as imperial legate, his death occurring shortly after, in the year 114. He was more or less of a dilettante, painstaking, very desirous of making a literary reputation, and amiable, but lacking in force of character and original thought. His panegyric on Trajan (delivered to express his gratitude to the emperor, who had recently appointed him consul) is his only speech which really possessed vitality, and his letters, which exhibit his self-complacency, form entertaining reading. t was a good and wise custom of our ancestors to begin no act or speech without prayer. They believed it only proper and prudent to reverence the gods and seek their aid and guidance. How much more ought we now to have recourse to prayer when, by command of the senate and the will of the people, your consul is about to make an expression of gratitude to a good prince! For what gift of the gods is better or nobler than a chaste, pious, godlike prince! And I am sure that even if there were still doubt as to whether rulers are given to the world by chance or by divine will, we should all feel that our prince was chosen by divine direction. For he was not found out by the secret power of fate, but by the open manifestation of Jupiter’s will, and was chosen amid sacred altars in the same temple in which Jupiter dwells in person as clearly as he does in the starry heavens. It is therefore all the more fitting that I should turn in prayer to thee, Jupiter, most mighty and good, and ask that my address may prove worthy of me as consul, worthy of our senate, and worthy of our prince; that my words may bear the stamp of freedom, faith, and truth, and lack as much the sem- blance, as they do the need, of flattery. I Not only a consul, but every citizen, should strive to say nothing of our prince that might seem proper enough if spoken of some other prince. Let us, therefore, repress the utterances of fear. Let us speak as we feel. Let us emphasize clearly in our discourse the difference between the present and the past. Let our language show unmistakably that it is Trajan we thank, and his age that we praise. But let us not address him with the flattering title of a god or divinity; for we speak not of a tyrant, but of a fellow citizen; not of a master, but of a father. He boasts that he is one of us; nor does he forget that he is only a man, though the ruler of men. Let us, then, appreciate our good fortune and prove ourselves worthy of it. Let us, too, consider again and again how unworthy it
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Reader_Lecture_05 - Pliny the Younger's "Panegyric in...

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