Pliny the Younger (A.D. 62?–c.A.D. 113). Letters.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.
XXXIX. To Attius Clemens
REGULUS has lost his son; the only undeserved misfortune which could have befallen him, in that I doubt whether he thinks it a misfortune. The boy had quick parts, but there was no telling how he might turn out; however, he seemed capable enough of going right, were he not to grow up like his father. Regulus gave him his freedom, in order to entitle him to the estate left him by his mother; and when he got into possession of it (I speak of the current rumours, based upon the character of the man), fawned upon the lad with a disgusting shew of fond affection which in a parent was utterly out of place. You may hardly think this credible; but then consider what Regulus is. However, he now expresses his concern for the loss of this youth in a most extravagant manner. The boy had a number of ponies for riding and driving, dogs both big and little, together with nightingales, parrots, and blackbirds in abundance. All these Regulus slew round the funeral pile. It was not grief, but an ostentatious parade of grief. He is visited upon this occasion by a surprising number of people, who all hate and detest the man, and yet are as assiduous in their attendance upon him as if they really esteemed and loved him, and, to give you my opinion in a word, in endeavouring to do Regulus a kindness, make themselves exactly like him. He keeps himself in his park on the other side the Tiber, where he has covered a vast extent of ground with his porticoes, and crowded all the shore with his statues; for he unites prodigality with excessive covetousness, and vainglory with the height of infamy. At this very unhealthy time of year he is boring society, and he feels pleasure and consolation in being a bore. He says he wishes to marry,—a piece of perversity, like all his other conduct. You must expect, therefore, to hear shortly of the marriage of this mourner, the marriage of this old man; too early in the former case, in the latter, too late. You ask me why I conjecture this? Certainly not because he says so himself (for a greater liar never stepped), but because there is no doubt that Regulus will do whatever ought not to be done. Farewell.