Pliny the Younger (A.D. 62?–c.A.D. 113). Letters.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.
XX. To Macrinus
THE SENATE decreed yesterday, on the emperor’s motion, a triumphal statue to Vestricius Spurinna: not as they would to many others, who never were in action, or saw a camp, or heard the sound of a trumpet, unless at a show; but as it would be decreed to those who have justly bought such a distinction with their blood, their exertions, and their deeds. Spurinna forcibly restored the king of the Bructeri to his throne; and this by the noblest kind of victory; for he subdued that warlike people by the terror of the mere display of his preparation for the campaign. This is his reward as a hero, while, to console him for the loss of his son Cottius, who died during his absence upon that expedition, they also voted a statue to the youth; a very unusual honour for one so young; but the services of the father deserved that the pain of so severe a wound should be soothed by no common balm. Indeed Cottius himself evinced such remarkable promise of the highest qualities that it is but fitting his short limited term of life should be extended, as it were, by this kind of immortality. He was so pure and blameless, so full of dignity, and commanded such respect, that he might have challenged in moral goodness much older men, with whom he now shares equal honours. Honours, if I am not mistaken, conferred not only to perpetuate the memory of the deceased youth, and in consolation to the surviving father, but for the sake of public example also. This will rouse and stimulate our young men to cultivate every worthy principle, when they see such rewards bestowed upon one of their own years, provided he deserve them: at the same time that men of quality will be encouraged to beget children and to have the joy and satisfaction of leaving a worthy race behind, if their children survive them, or of so glorious a consolation, should they survive their children. Looking at it in this light then, I am glad, upon public grounds, that a statue is decreed Cottius: and for my own sake too, just as much; for I loved this most favoured, gifted, youth, as ardently as I now grievously miss him amongst us. So that it will be a great satisfaction to me to be able to look at this figure from time to time as I pass by, contemplate it, stand underneath, and walk to and fro before it. For if having the pictures of the departed placed in our homes lightens sorrow, how much more those public representations of them which are not only memorials of their air and countenance, but of their glory and honour besides? Farewell.