Commentary on Pliny II. X
by Andrew Van Buskirk, revised by J. Bailly

Introduction

In this letter Pliny prevails upon one of his literary friends, a man named Octavius Rufus, to publish his
poems.  Pliny warns Octavius that if he doesn’t publish them quickly they may be plagiarized.  There was apparently a wide enough audience to make this a concern.  Pliny wrote one other letter to Octavius (1.7) and mentioned him briefly in another (9.38).

Text:

C. Plinius Octavio Suo S.

I. Hominem te patientem vel potius durum ac paene crudelem, qui tam insignes libros tam diu teneas!  Quousque et tibi et nobis invidebis, tibi maxima laude, nobis voluptate?  Sine per ora hominum ferantur isdemque quibus lingua Romana spatiis pervagentur.  Magna enim longaque exspectatio est, quam frustrari adhuc et differre non debes.  Enotuerunt quidam tui versus et invito te claustra sua refregerunt.  Hos
nisi retrahis in corpus, quandoque ut errones aliquem, cuius dicantur, invenient.  Habe ante oculos mortalitatem, a qua adserere te hoc uno monimento potes; nam cetera fragilia et caduca non minus quam ipsi homines occidunt desinuntque.

II. Dices, ut soles: ‘Amici mei viderint.’  Opto equidem amicos tibi tam fideles, tam eruditos, tam laboriosos, ut tantum curae intentionisque suscipere et possint et velint, sed dispice, ne sit parum providum sperare ex aliis, quod tibi ipse non praestes.  Et de editione quidem interim, ut voles, recita saltem, quo magis libeat emittere, utque tandem percipias gaudium, quod ego olim pro te non temere praesumo.  Imaginor enim, qui concursus, quae admiratio te, qui clamor, quod etiam silentium maneat; quo ego, cum dico vel recito, non minus quam clamore delector, sit modo silentium acre et intentum et cupidum ulteriora audiendi.  Hoc fructu tanto, tam parato desine studia tua infinita ista cunctatione fraudare; quae cum modum excedit, verendum est, ne inertiae et desidiae vel etiam timiditatis nomen accipiat.  Vale.

Commentary

I.


hominem te patientem etc. exclamatory accusatives.
teneas subjunctive in explanatory relative clause of characteristic.
Quousque = quo usque
Invidebis is taking here dative of person and ablative of thing begrudged.  It can take variously the dat., abl., and gen.
sine per ora . . . pervagentur  Sine is the imperative of sino and is followed by two semi-independent subjunctives, ferantur and pervagentur.  Quibus refers to isdemque and has an understood pervagentur.
isdem = eisdem
isdem ... spatiis and quibus abl. of place in which
quam an indefinite relative pronoun, not to be confused with its use as the particle meaning "how" or as a comparative "than."
quidam note the 'a' in quidam.  Not a postpositive quidem meaning "indeed." Modifies versus.
tui objective genitive: an 'objective genitive' is a genitive dependent on a noun which has a verbal notion in it, as in 'love of books,' in which the noun 'love' has a verbal notion, and the books are the 'object' of that verbal notion.
invito te  concessive ablative absolute
ut errones  ut does not introduce a subordinate clause here, but is simply equivalent to
the English "as."
aliquem cuius dicantur invenient there is a risk to not publishing. Sherwin-White p. 159: "Martial complains persistently in his first book (29, 38, 52 53, &c) of a plagiarus who recites Martial’s poems as his own."
dicantur present subjunctive in relative clause of characteristic.
habe  2nd person sing. imper.
a qua adserere  ablative of separation.
cetera fragilia et caduca sc. occidunt desinuntque. fragilia and caduca are predicative.

II.
viderint  perfect jussive subjunctive with present meaning.  "Let them see to that," but no direct object – an elliptical use of the verb.
equidem differs from quidem in that it most often accompanies first person verbs and means ego quidem. In Cicero it is confined to that sense.  (A&G 322f)
tam . . . tam . . . tam  tam frequently prepares for a result clause. These phrases are in asyndeton.
tantum takes a genitive ("so much of "), where English uses an adjective "so much ___."
possint et velint  subjunctives in a result clause.
quod tibi ipse  quod refers to the entire preceding clause.
ne sit parum providum subjunctive in a fear clause.
non praestes  subjunctive in a relative clause of characteristic.
editione – Sherwin-White p. 91: "This and other forms of edere refer to the final placing of the much
revised book in the hands of the librarii or bibliopolae to copy and sell."
ut another use of ut meaning "as."
quo magis libeat emittere  a result clause containing a comparative must take quo instead of ut.  Sc. tibi as indirect object of libeat. 
percipias  subjunctive in result clause.
olim functions here like dum; "for a long time now"
qui concursus, quae admiration te qui clamor another set of phrases in asyndeton.
maneat subjunctive in indirect question.  Maneat is normally not transitive, but here means "to wait for."
cum dico vel recito also see Pliny 1.13 for a description a of recitation.
Sherwin-White p. 115  "The ‘recitation’ as met in the Silver Latin writers is an innovation of the
Principate, due according to the elder Seneca to Asinius Pollio, who in the time of Augustus began to
invite guests to the readings of his own works (Sen. Contr. 4, pref. 2; Isidore Orig. 6.52).  It became the popular form of initial publication, providing the cheapest and quickest means of making works known to the largest educated audience before the invention of printing"
sit modo silentium . . . subjunctive in a proviso clause (indicated by modo).
audiendi  genitive gerund taking for direct object ulteriora and dependent on cupidum.
fraudare + acc. of person + abl. of thing.  tua studia is in the accusative and is metonymic for the poet.  He is being defrauded of hoc fructu tanto, tam parato. tua infinita ista cunctatione = abl. of means.
verendum est  passive periphrastic construction.
ne . . . accipiat  subjunctive in a negative result clause.

Vocabulary

accipio, accipere, accepi, acceptum, acquire
acer, acris, acre, keen, piercing
adhuc, to this degree; up to now, still
admiratio, -onis f.  admiration; wonder, astonishment
adsero, -serere, -serui, -sertum, to set free from, protect
caducus, -a, -um  liable to fall, frail, perishable, transitory
clamor, -oris m.,  shout of applause
claustrum, -i n.  a means of shutting in; enclosure, prison, den
concursus, -us, m.,  a rushing together, meeting
corpus, corporis, n., body (of an author's work)
crudelis, -is, -e, cruel
cunctatio, -onis  f.  a delay, lingering, hesitation
delecto, -are, delight
desidia, -ae f.  idleness, inactivity, apathy
desino, -sinere, -sii, -situm  to leave off, cease, give over, desist
differro, -differre, -distuli, -dilatum  to carry in different directions, to delay
dispicio, -spicere, -spexi, -spectum,  to see clearly, watch out, esp. by an effort
editio, -onis f.,  the publishing of a book
emitto, -mittere, -misi, -missum,  to send forth, send out; to publish; to utter
enotesco, -notescere, -notui  to become known, be made public
erro, -onis m.  a wanderer, vagabond
eruditus, -a, -um  instructed, educated, trained
excedo, excedere, excessi, excessum, exceed
exspectatio, -ionis f.  a waiting for, expectation
fraudo (1), defraud (of), deprive (of) (+ acc. object +abl. of separation)
fructus, -us, m., fruit, enjoyment
frustror, -ari  to disappoint
imaginor, -ari,  to imagine, conceive, picture to oneself
inertia, -ae f.,  slothfulness
insignis, -e  adj.  distinguished, remarkable
intentio, -onis f., effort, exertion
intentus, -a, -um,  anxious, intent
interim  meanwhile, in the meantime
invenio, invenire, inveni, inventum, find
invideo, invidere, invidi, invisum, begrudge (+abl. of thing, dat. of person)
invitus, -a, -um, unwilling
laboriosus, -a, -um  industrious, undergoing trouble and hardship
libet, -bere, -buit or bitum  it pleases, is agreeable
maneo, -ere, mansi, mansum  trans. to wait for
minus, adv., less
modo, if only (indicating a proviso clause)
modus, -i, m. a measure, standard of measure
monimentum = monumentum, -i, n.,  a memorial, monument
occido, -cidere, -cidi, -cisum,  to die, perish
opto,-are  to choose, elect, select; to wish for, desire
os, oris, n., mouth
paratus, -a, -um, prepared, ready
patiens, -entis, easy-going, tolerant; capable of enduring
percipio, -cipere, -cipi, -ceptum  to lay hold of, take possession of; to feel, take in
pervagor, -ari,  to wander through, to be widely spread
praesto, -stare, -stiti, -stitum  to perform, execute, fulfill, provide
praesumo, -sumere, -sumpsi, -sumptum, to anticipate
providus, -a, -um,  providing, taking measures for
quandoque, at some time
quousque  how long?, to what degree?
recito, are,  to read aloud, read publicly
refringo, -fringere, -fregi, -fractum  to break open
retraho, retrahere, retraxi, retractum, draw back, pull back
saltem, at least
spatium, -i n.  space
suscipio, suscipere, suscepi, susceptum, undertake
temere adv.  blindly, recklessly
teneo, tenere, tenui, tentum, hold; hold back, withhold
timiditas, -atis f., fearfulness, timidity
ulterior, ulterioris, additional, further
vereor, vereri, veritus, fear
versus, -us, m., verse


Bibliography
The Letters of Pliny: A Historical and Social Commentary. A.N. Sherwin-White. Oxford at the
Clarendon Press. 1966