Pliny Epistulae 9.6

by Tom Gardner

1 Omne hoc tempus inter pugillares ac libellos iucundissima quiete transmisi. “Quemadmodu” inquis “in urbe potuisti?” Circenses erant, quo genere spectaculi ne levissime quidem teneor. Nihil novum nihil varium, nihil quod non semel spectasse sufficiat.
2 Quo magis miror tot milia virorum tam pueriliter identidem cupere currentes equos, insistentes curribus homines videre. Si tamen aut velocitate equorum aut hominum arte traherentur, esset ratio non nulla; nunc favent panno, pannum amant, et si in ipso cursu medioque certamine hic color illuc ille huc transferatur, studium fauorque transibit, et repente agitatores illos equos illos, quos procul noscitant, quorum clamitant nomina relinquent.
3 Tanta gratia tanta auctoritas in una vilissima tunica, mitto apud vulgus, quod vilius tunica, sed apud quosdam graves homines; quos ego cum recordor, in re inani frigida assidua, tam insatiabiliter desidere, capio aliquam uoluptatem, quod hac uoluptate non capior.
4 Ac per hos dies libentissime otium meum in litteris colloco, quos alii otiosissimis occupationibus perdunt. Vale.

1 I have let the all this time pass among my writing-tablets and little books, in most pleasing peacefulness. “How could you do that in the city?” you ask. There were races, spectacles of the kind by which I am not interested even in the slightest. There was nothing new, nothing different, nothing which it was not enough to have seen once.
2 By which I marvel all the more that so many thousands of men desire to see running horses so childishly, over and over again, and to see people standing on the chariots. If nevertheless they were attracted either by the speed of the horses or by the skill of the drivers, then it would not be without reason; as it is, they are inclined towards the strip, and they love the strip, and if in the very same race, even in the middle, one colour should transfer to another, their enthusiasm and support shifts, and they suddenly desert those famous drivers and horses, whose names they shout and whom they recognise from afar.
3 Such is the popularity and command in one worthless shirt — I pass over the crowd, which is more worthless than the shirt, but I speak of certain important individuals. I think that they are sitting insatiably for a long time in this futile, insipid, monotonous affair, I take a certain pleasure in that I am not taken by this pleasure.
4 And through these days, I put my leisure time most pleasingly into literature, which others have wasted with the idlest of occupations. Farewell.