TO VALERIUS PAULINUS
As I know how mildly you treat your own servants I the more frankly confess to you the indulgence I shew to mine. I have ever in my mind that line of Homer's:
" Like to a father's was his gentle sway,"
and that expression in our own language, "father of a household." But were I naturally of a rough and hardened temper, the ill state of health of my freedman Zosimus (who has the stronger claim to humane treatment, as he now stands the more in need of it) would suffice to soften me. He is honest and well-educated; but his profession, his certified accomplishments, one might say, is that of comedian, wherein he highly excels. He speaks with great emphasis, judgement, propriety, and some gracefulness; and also plays the lyre more skilfully than a comedian need do. To this I must add, he reads history, oratory, and poetry, as well as if he had singly applied himself to that art.
I am particular in enumerating these qualifications to let you see how many and agreeable services I receive from this one man's hand. He is, besides, endeared to me by a longstanding affection, which is heightened by his present danger. For nature has so formed our hearts, that nothing contributes more to raise and inflame our love for any object than the apprehension of being deprived of it: a sentiment which Zosimus has given me occasion to experience more than once. For some years ago he strained himself so much by too vehement an exertion of his voice, that he spit blood, upon which account I sent him into Egypt; from whence, after a long absence, he lately returned with great benefit to his health. But having again exerted his voice for several days together beyond his strength, he was reminded of his former malady by a slight return of his cough, and a spitting of blood.
For this reason I intend to send him to your farm at Forum Julii, having frequently heard you mention it as an exceeding fine air, and recommend the milk of that place as very good in disorders of this nature. I beg you would write directions to your people to admit him to your grounds and house, and to supply him with what he may have occasion for at his expense. He will not want much, for he is so thrifty and temperate as not only to abstain from delicacies, but even to deny himself the necessaries his ill state of health requires. I shall furnish him when he sets out with sufficient journey money to take him to your house. Farewell.