Grave Offenses, And Little Thanks

In a letter to Titinius Capito, the Roman official and career lawyer Pliny discusses the idea of writing a book of history.  Of particular concern to him was the choice of topic:  he was uncertain whether he should treat an ancient or a modern subject.  Valid arguments existed for both options.  An older subject might allow for a more considered perspective, far removed from the passions of immediate memory; whereas the treatment of a current subject might inflame unreasonable emotions in his readers.  Pliny has serious doubts about choosing a subject that might be within the living memory of his readers.  He summarizes his feelings with this sentence:

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The Oppressive Burdens Of The Powerful

Many men are in the habit of seeing only the privileges of the powerful, while failing to take note of the crushing burdens that such men must carry.  Nothing in this world is gifted to us for free; there is a price to be paid for every acquisition, every privilege, and every benefit.  This cost may not be apparent at first; but over time, it will make itself known.

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