Aleksandr Deyneka, Girl with book, 1934
Aleksandr Deyneka, Girl with book (1934)

Cum sis pietatis exemplum, fratremque optimum et amantissimum tui pari caritate dilexeris, filiamque eius ut tuam diligas, nec tantum amitae ei affectum verum etiam patris amissi repraesentes, non dubito maximo tibi gaudio fore cum cognoveris dignam patre dignam te dignam avo evadere. summum est acumen, summa frugalitas; amat me, quod castitatis indicium est. accedit his studium litterarum, quod ex mei caritate concepit. meos libellos habet, lectitat, ediscit etiam. qua illa sollicitudine cum videor acturus, quanto cum egi gaudio afficitur! disponit qui nuntient sibi quem assensum, quos clamores excitarim, quem eventum iudicii tulerim. eadem, si quando recito, in proximo discreta velo sedet, laudesque nostras avidissimis auribus excipit. versus quidem meos cantat etiam formatque cithara non artifice aliquo docente, sed amore qui magister est optimus. his ex causis in spem certissimam adducor, perpetuam nobis maioremque in dies futuram esse concordiam. non enim aetatem meam aut corpus, quae paulatim occidunt ac senescunt, sed gloriam diligit. nec aliud decet tuis manibus educatam, tuis praeceptis institutam, quae nihil in contubernio tuo viderit, nisi sanctum honestumque, quae denique amare me ex tua praedicatione consueverit. nam cum matrem meam parentis loco vererere, me a pueritia statim formare laudare, talemque qualis nunc uxori meae videor, ominari solebas. certatim ergo tibi gratias agimus, ego quod illam mihi, illa quod me sibi dederis, quasi invicem elegeris. vale.
(Pliny Minor, Ep. 4.19)

You are a model of family devotion, and you loved your splendid brother, matching his deep regard for you with equal affection. You love his daughter as if she were your own, and to her you re-enact the fondness not only of an aunt, but also that of the father she has lost. For these reasons I have no doubt that you will be highly delighted to know that she is turning out worthy of her father, of you, and of her grandfather. She is highly intelligent, and exceedingly thrifty. Her love for me is the index of her chastity. These qualities are enhanced by her enthusiasm for literature, which her love for me has fostered. She possesses and repeatedly reads and even memorizes my books. What concern she shows when I am due to speak in court! And what delight, once the speech is finished! She posts individuals to report to her the assent and the applause which I have received, and the outcome which I have imposed on the judge. Whenever I am giving a recitation, she sits close by, concealed by a curtain, and listens most avidly to the praises heaped on me. She also sings my verses and adapts them to the lyre, with no schooling from a music-master, but with affection, which is the best possible teacher. For these reasons I entertain the most sanguine hope that we will enjoy enduring harmony which will grow day by day. It is not my time of life or my body which she loves, for these gradually decay with age, but my fame. No other attitude befits one reared by your hands and trained by your instructions, for in her association with you she has set eyes only on what is pure and honourable, and finally she has grown to love me as the outcome of your recommendation. For out of your respect for my mother, whom you revered as a parent, you fashioned and encouraged me from my earliest boyhood, and you were wont to prophesy that I would become the sort of person I appear to be in my wife’s eyes. So we vie in giving you thanks–– I because you have given her to me, and she because you have given me to her. It is as though you chose us for each other! Farewell. (tr. Patrick Gerard Walsh)

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