Home  »  Letters Pliny the Younger  »  XXVIII. To Annius Severus

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

XXVIII. To Annius Severus

I HAVE lately purchased with a legacy that was left me a small statue of Corinthian brass. It is small indeed, but elegant and life-like, as far as I can form any judgment, which most certainly in matters of this sort, as perhaps in all others, is extremely defective. However, I do see the beauties of this figure: for, as it is naked the faults, if there by any, as well as the perfections, are the more observable. It represents an old man, in an erect attitude. The bones, muscles, veins, and the very wrinkles, give the impression of breathing life. The hair is thin and failing, the forehead broad, the face shrivelled, the throat lank, the arms loose and hanging the breast shrunken, and the belly fallen in, as the whole turn and air of the figure behind too is equally expressive of old age. It appears to be true antique, judging from the colour of the brass. In short, it is such a masterpiece as would strike the eyes of a connoisseur, and which cannot fail to charm an ordinary observer: and this induced me, who am an absolute novice in this art, to buy it. But I did so, not with any intention of placing it in my own house (for I have nothing of the kind there), but with a design of fixing it in some conspicuous place in my native province; I should like it best in the temple of Jupiter, for it is a gift well worthy of a temple, well worthy of a god. I desire therefore you would, with that care with which you always perform my requests, undertake this commission and give immediate orders for a pedestal to be made for it, out of what marble you please, but let my name be engraved upon it, and, if you think proper to add these as well, my titles. I will send the statue by the first person I can find who will not mind the trouble of it; or possibly (which I am sure you will like better) I may myself bring it along with me: for I intend, if business can spare me, that is to say, to make an excursion over to you. I see joy in your looks when I promise to come; but you will soon change your countenance when I add, only for a few days: for the same business that at present keeps me here will present my making a longer stay. Farewell.