Home  »  Letters Pliny the Younger  »  XCI. To Macrinus

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

XCI. To Macrinus

IS the weather with you as rude and boisterous as it is with us? All here is tempest and inundation. The Tiber has swelled its channel, and overflowed its banks far and wide. Though the wise precaution of the emperor had guarded against this evil, by cutting several outlets to the river, it has nevertheless flooded all the fields and valleys and entirely overspread the whole face of the flat country. It seems to have gone out to meet those rivers which it used to receive and carry off in one united stream, and has driven them back to deluge those countries it could not reach itself. That most delightful of rivers, the Anio, which seems invited and detained in its course by the villas built along its banks, has almost entirely rooted up and carried away the woods which shaded its borders. It has overthrown whole mountains, and, in endeavouring to find a passage through the mass of ruins that obstructed its way, has forced down houses, and risen and spread over the desolation it has occasioned. The inhabitants of the hill countries, who are situated above the reach of this inundation, have been the melancholy spectators of its dreadful effects, having seen costly furniture, instruments of husbandry, ploughs, and oxen with their drivers, whole herds of cattle, together with the trunks of trees, and beams of the neighbouring villas, floating about in different parts. Nor indeed have these higher places themselves, to which the waters could not reach up, escaped the calamity. A continued heavy rain and tempestuous hurricane, as destructive as the river itself, poured down upon them, and has destroyed all the enclosures which divided that fertile country. It has damaged likewise, and even overturned, some of the public buildings, by the fall of which great numbers have been maimed, smothered, bruised. And thus lamentation over the fate of friends has been added to losses. I am extremely uneasy lest this extensive ruin should have spread to you: I beg therefore, if it has not, you will immediately relieve my anxiety; and indeed I desire you would inform me though it should have done so; for the difference is not great between fearing a danger, and feeling it; except that the evil one feels has some bounds, whereas one’s apprehensions have none. For we can suffer no more than what actually has happened, but we fear all that possibly could happen. Farewell.