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Pliny the Younger (A.D. 62?–c.A.D. 113). Letters.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

LXXVII. To Fabatus (His Wife’s Grandfather)

YOU are surprised, I find, that my share of five-twelfths of the estate which lately fell to me, and which I had directed to be sold to the best bidder, should have been disposed of by my freedman Hermes to Corellia (without putting it up to auction) at the rate of seven hundred thousand sesterces for the whole. And as you think it might have fetched nine hundred thousand, you are so much the more desirous to know whether I am inclined to ratify what he has done. I am; and listen, while I tell you why, for I hope that not only you will approve, but also that my fellow-coheirs will excuse me for having, upon a motive of superior obligation, separated my interest from theirs. I have the highest esteem for Corellia, both as the sister of Rufus, whose memory will always be a sacred one to me, and as my mother’s intimate friend. Besides, that excellent man, Minutius Tuscus, her husband, has every claim to my affection that a long friendship can give him; as there was likewise the closest intimacy between her son and me, so much so indeed that I fixed upon him to preside at the games which I exhibited when I was elected prætor. This lady, when I was last in the country, expressed a strong desire for some place upon the borders of our lake of Comum; I therefore made her an offer, at her own price, of any part of my land there, except what came to me from my father and mother; for that I could not consent to part with, even to Corellia, and accordingly when the inheritance in question fell to me, I wrote to let her know it was to be sold. This letter I sent by Hermes, who, upon her requesting him that he would immediately make over to her my proportion of it, consented. Am I not then obliged to confirm what my freedman has thus done in pursuance of my inclinations? I have only to entreat my fellow-coheirs that they will not take it ill at my hands that I have made a separate sale of what I had certainly a right to dispose of. They are not bound in any way to follow my example, since they have not the same connections with Corellia. They are at full liberty therefore to be guided by interest, which in my own case I chose to sacrifice to friendship. Farewell.