Fluitantia

flood-image

C. Plinius Macrino suo s.

Num istic quoque immite et turbidum caelum? hic assiduae tempestates et crebra diluvia. Tiberis alveum excessit et demissioribus ripis alte superfunditur; quamquam fossa quam providentissimus imperator fecit exhaustus, premit valles, innatat campis, quaque planum solum, pro solo cernitur. inde quae solet flumina accipere et permixta devehere, velut obvius retro cogit, atque ita alienis aquis operit agros, quos ipse non tangit. Anio, delicatissimus amnium ideoque adiacentibus villis velut invitatus retentusque, magna ex parte nemora quibus inumbratur fregit et rapuit; subruit montes, et decidentium mole pluribus locis clausus, dum amissum iter quaerit, impulit tecta ac se super ruinas eiecit atque extulit. viderunt quos excelsioribus terris illa tempestas deprehendit, alibi divitum apparatus et gravem supellectilem, alibi instrumenta ruris, ibi boves aratra rectores, hic soluta et libera armenta, atque inter haec arborum truncos aut villarum trabes atque culmina varie lateque fluitantia. ac ne illa quidem malo vacaverunt, ad quae non ascendit amnis. nam pro amne imber assiduus et deiecti nubibus turbines, proruta opera quibus pretiosa rura cinguntur, quassata atque etiam decussa monumenta. multi eius modi casibus debilitati obruti obtriti, et aucta luctibus damna. ne quid simile istic, pro mensura periculi vereor, teque rogo, si nihil tale, quam maturissime sollicitudini meae consulas, sed et si tale, id quoque nunties. nam parvulum differt, patiaris adversa an exspectes; nisi quod tamen est dolendi modus, non est timendi. doleas enim quantum scias accidisse, timeas quantum possit accidere. vale.
(Pliny Minor, Ep. 8.17)

To Macrinus

Is the weather in your parts as rude and boisterous as it is with us ? All here is tempest and inundation. The Tiber has overflowed its channel, and deeply flooded its lower banks. Though drained by a dyke, which the Emperor providently had cut, it submerges the valleys, swims along the fields, and entirely overspreads the flats. The streams which it ordinarily receives and carries down commingled to the sea, it now forcibly checks in their course, by, so to speak, advancing to meet them; and thus deluges with borrowed waters lands it cannot reach itself. That most delightful of rivers, the Anio, which seems invited and detained by the villas upon its banks, has destroyed and carried away much of the woods that shade its brink. It has undermined mountains, and its channel being blocked by the resulting landslides, it has wrecked houses in the endeavour to regain its course, and surges high above the ruins. Dwellers in the uplands, who were out of reach of this fearful inundation, have seen, here the household gear and heavy furniture of lordly mansions, there instruments of husbandry, elsewhere ploughs and oxen with their drivers, elsewhere again herds of cattle let loose and astray, together with trunks of trees, or beams and gables of the neighbouring villas all floating about far and wide. Nor indeed have even these uplands, to which the river did not rise, escaped calamity. For long torrential rains, and waterspouts hurled down from the clouds, have destroyed all the enclosures on the valuable farms, and shaken, and even overturned, public buildings. Numbers have been maimed, crushed, or buried by such accidents, and loss of property has been aggravated by bereavements. I am extremely uneasy lest this extensive disaster should have spread to you; I beg therefore, if it has not, you will immediately relieve my anxiety. And indeed, I desire you would inform me though it should; for there is little difference between expecting misfortune and undergoing it; except that grief has limits, whereas apprehension has none. For we grieve only for what we know has happened; but we fear all that possibly may happen.
Farewell.
(tr. William Melmoth, revised by Winifred Margaret Lambart Hutchinson)

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