Fortunae tuae gaudia in meo aere duco atque huius sententiae te nobis iudicem capio, qui animum meum spectatum habes, cum tuum consulis. debebatur hoc teneris temporum bonis, ut consilio publico vir laudatus accederes. ergo quia res sese ex voto omnium dedit, perage operam iudicio tanti principis congruentem. urguet te expectatio bonis semper onerosa. nam etsi dignos respicit, periculo tamen proxima est, dum sibi amplius pollicetur. habes saeculum virtuti amicum, quo nisi optimus quisque gloriam parat, hominis est culpa, non temporis. vides certe: ut ille ipse qui Romanis rebus antistat, ad bonum publicum natus est, non tibi adverso nunc amne nitendum est, secundo, ut ita dicam, cursu probae artes et virtutes feruntur. sed haec tibi plenius tuus animus quam stilus noster expediet. ego amici functus officium admonentis potius quam docentis personam recepi et spero actutum fore, ut expectatione quae de te magna est, maior habearis. nec ego istius modi scriptum recepissem, nisi apud me liqueret, quod emendato pectori bona verba mandarem. quod restat, memento salute referenda et tuum munus exsequi et mei officii diligentiam provocare. vale.
(Symmachus, Ep. 3.43)
Symmachus to Siburius.
I sense the joy of your good fortune as if it were my own and I make you the judge of this sentiment of mine: when you consult your own heart, you will have examined my own. To the happy beginnings of the current reign should be added that a man of good reputation such as yourself has joined the senate. So, since things have turned out in accordance with everyone’s wishes, it’s up to you to comport yourself in a manner suited to the judgement of such a great emperor. The expectation that always weighs heavy on honourable people presses upon you now; and even though it looks only upon men of worth, it is nevertheless close to danger, as it always promises more of itself. Yours is an age that is friendly to virtue, and if not every outstanding man acquires glory in it, it is the fault of the individual, not of the age. Surely you can see that, as he who leads the Roman state is born for the benefit of the people, you do not have to make your way counter to the current: good qualities and virtues are borne on a favorable stream, so to speak. But you will be able to understand all this more fully through your own intellect than by my pen. In fulfilling my duty of friendship, I have taken on the role of adviser rather than instructor. I hope that soon you will prove to be even greater than the expectation people have of you, however big that is. I would not have proceeded to write to you like this, if it were not clear to me that I was entrusting these lofty words to a noble soul. In closing, please remember to practice your usual courtesy in writing back to me and to urge me likewise to diligence in this obligation. Be well. (tr. David Bauwens)