Have mi magister dulcissime.
nos valemus. ego aliquantulum prodormivi propter perfrictiunculam, quae videtur sedata esse. ergo ab undecima noctis in tertiam diei partim legi ex Agri Cultura Catonis, partim scripsi, minus misere, mercule, quam heri. inde salutato patre meo aqua mulsa sorbenda usque ad gulam et reiectanda fauces fovi, potius quam dicerem gargarissavi, nam est apud Novium, credo, et alibi. sed faucibus curatis abii ad patrem meum et immolanti adstiti. deinde ad merendam itum. quid me censes prandisse? panis tantulum, cum conchim et caepas et maenas bene praegnatas alios vorantes viderem. deinde uvis metendis operam dedimus et consudavimus et iubilavimus et “aliquot”, ut ait auctor, “reliquimus altipendulos vindemiae superstites”. ab hora sexta domum rediimus. paululum studui atque id ineptum. deinde cum matercula mea supra torum sedente multum garrivi. Meus sermo hic erat: “quid existimas modo meum Frontonem facere?” tum illa: “Quid autem tu meam Gratiam?” tum ego: “Quid autem passerculam nostram Gratiam minusculam?” dum ea fabulamur atque altercamur, uter alterutrum vestrum magis amaret, discus crepuit, id est, pater meus in balneum transisse nuntiatus est. loti igitur in torculari cenavimus (non loti in torculari, sed loti cenavimus) et rusticos cavillantes audivimus libenter. inde reversus, priusquam me in latus converto ut stertam, meum pensum explico et diei rationem meo suavissimo magistro reddo, quem si possem magis desiderare, libenter plusculum macerarer. valebis, mihi Fronto, ubiubi es, mellitissime, meus amor, mea voluptas. quid mihi tecum est? amo absentem.
(Marcus Aurelius in Fronto, Ep. ad M. Caesarem et invicem 4.6)
Hail, my sweetest of masters.
We are well. I slept somewhat late owing to my slight cold, which seems now to have subsided. So from five a.m. till nine I spent the time partly in reading some of Cato’s Agriculture and partly in writing not quite such wretched stuff, by heavens, as yesterday. Then, after paying my respects to my father, I relieved my throat, I will not say by gargling—though the word gargarisso is, I believe, found in Novius and elsewhere—but by swallowing honey water as far as the gullet and ejecting it again. After easing my throat I went off to my father and attended him at a sacrifice. Then we went to luncheon. What do you think I ate? A wee bit of bread, though I saw others devouring beans, onions, and herrings full of roe. We then worked hard at grape-gathering, and had a good sweat, and were merry and, as the poet says, still left some clusters hanging high as gleanings of the vintage. After six o’clock we came home. I did but little work and that to no purpose. Then I had a long chat with my little mother as she sat on the bed. My talk was this: What do you think my Fronto is now doing? Then she: And what do you think my Gratia is doing? Then I: And what do you think our little sparrow, the wee Gratia, is doing? Whilst we were chattering in this way and disputing which of us two loved the one or other of you two the better, the gong sounded, an intimation that my father had gone to his bath. So we had supper after we had bathed in the oil-press room; I do not mean bathed in the oil-press room, but when we had bathed, had supper there, and we enjoyed hearing the yokels chaffing one another. After coming back, before I turn over and snore, I get my task done and give my dearest of masters an account of the day’s doings, and if I could miss him more, I would not grudge wasting away a little more. Farewell, my Fronto, wherever you are, most honey-sweet, my love, my delight. How is it between you and me? I love you and you are away. (tr. Charles Reginald Haines)