The Letters Of Pliny Essay

1625 words - 7 pages

The Letters of Pliny entail of letters written back and forth from the governor; Pliny and the Emperor Trajan. The letters portray the responsibilities of a Roman governor of a province in ancient times. Responsibilities of a governor included matters such as; public defense, construction, celebrations, citizenship, and basic law enforcement. Letters 30, 31, 42, and 43 all discuss public safety. Letters 30 and 31 describe how to deal with guarding the prisons of several cities, the question comes up as to whether Pliny should employ a party of soldiers or just to use public slave as sentries. However, Trajan cleared up the issue by stating that public slaves should be used, Trajan goes on further and states; "...And the fidelity with which they shall execute their duty will depend much upon your care and strict discipline" (31). Letters 42 and 43 discuss the matter of extinguishing fires and whether or not to have a brigade of people specifically for that purpose. Letters 34, 35, 46, 47, 75, and 76 all refer to construction, four of which refer solely to one building project. Letters 34, 35, 75, and 76 illustrate the procedures for building a public bath from gaining the emperor's approval to finding a proper building site; all is left up to the governor; "This new erection I purpose dedicating to you...I have sent you a copy of the will...I will, however, make the strictest enquiry after them that I am able" (75). Letters 46 and 47 discuss finishing an aqueduct that was left unfinished and allowed to fall into a state of ruin. The emperor ordered Pliny to discover why such funds had been thrown away and whether or not the money had been taken for private purposes. Letters 44 and 45 describe the citizens of Rome renewing annual vows to the immortal gods so the health and happiness of the Emperor will prosper. The governor reported problems of the people to the emperor, sorted through legal documents to discover their authenticity, found building sites, hired architects, and ran investigations. From the evidence given, it has become extremely clear that much of the provinces upkeep did lie in the hand of the Roman governor; he was the eyes and the ears of the emperor. The relationship between Governor Pliny and Emperor Trajan was that of a straightforward one. The relationship was merely that of a business one, an employee and his boss; "You cannot but be sensible, my dearest Secundus, how reserved I am in granting favours of the kinds you desire" (95). However, despite how heavily emperor Trajan relies on Pliny, it is obvious as well that Pliny benefited from the role; "I have yielded, however, to your request, and have directed an article to be inserted in my register" (95). Both members gained from the association; the relationship between Emperor Trajan and Governor Pliny was a mutualistic one.
Lastly, letters 96 and 97 discuss Christianity through Roman eyes and the fear it caused. Pliny, unsure as to whether he could execute Christians...

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