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Diana & Minerva

July 24, 2012

A letter from Pliny the Younger to Cornelius Tacitus:

You’ll laugh–go ahead and laugh! I–a man you thought you knew–have caught three boars, and just beautiful ones too. You? you say. Me. And, no, not at all to escape idleness and quiet: I was sitting still beside the nets; near me no spear or javelin, but stylus and tablets. I’d muse on something and note it down, so that (even if I’d bring home empty hands!) at least my wax would be full. There’s not a thing to scorn in this kind of study; it’s a wonder how the mind is roused by the exercise & movement of the body. Just forest all round and aloneness and the very silence that hunting inculcates* are great quickeners of thought. So when you go hunt, feel free (by my advice) to bring–along with bread-basket & flask–your writing-tablets too! You’ll find Minerva’s just as keen to range the hills as Diana! Farewell!

Ridebis, et licet rideas. Ego, ille quem nosti, apros tres et quidem pulcherrimos cepi. ‘Ipse?’ inquis. Ipse; non tamen ut omnino ab inertia mea et quiete discederem. Ad retia sedebam; erat in proximo non venabulum aut lancea, sed stilus et pugillares; meditabar aliquid enotabamque, ut si manus vacuas, plenas tamen ceras reportarem. [2] Non est quod contemnas hoc studendi genus; mirum est ut animus agitatione motuque corporis excitetur; iam undique silvae et solitudo ipsumque illud silentium quod venationi datur,* magna cogitationis incitamenta sunt. [3] Proinde cum venabere, licebit auctore me ut panarium et lagunculam sic etiam pugillares feras: experieris non Dianam magis montibus quam Minervam inerrare. Vale.

*literally: “the silence that is given to hunting”

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