Pliny the Younger (A.D. 62?–c.A.D. 113). Letters.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.
LXVII. To Macer
HOW much does the fame of human actions depend upon the station of those who perform them! The very same conduct shall be either applauded to the skies or entirely overlooked, just as it may happen to proceed from a person of conspicuous or obscure rank. I was sailing lately upon our lake, with an old man of my acquaintance, who desired me to observe a villa situated upon its banks, which had a chamber overhanging the water. “From that room,” said he, “a woman of our city threw herself and her husband.” Upon enquiring into the cause, he informed me, “That her husband having been long afflicted with an ulcer in those parts which modesty conceals, she prevailed with him at last to let her inspect the sore, assuring him at the same time that she would most sincerely give her opinion whether there was a possibility of its being cured. Accordingly, upon viewing the ulcer, she found the case hopeless, and therefore advised him to put an end to his life: she herself accompanying him, even leading the way by her example, and being actually the means of his death; for tying herself to her husband, she plunged with him into the lake.” Though this happened in the very city where I was born, I never heard it mentioned before; and yet that this action is taken less notice of than that famous one of Arria’s, is not because it was less remarkable, but because the person who performed it was more obscure. Farewell.