Pliny the Younger (61 CE -c113 CE) was a well-connected official in the Rome of the 1st century, and it is through his ten Books of letters that we have one of the liveliest and most informal pictures of the period. As a lawyer and magistrate he rose through the senate to become consul in 100 AD, and therefore corresponded with leading figures including the historian Tacitus, the biographer Suetonius, the philosophers Artemidorus and Euphrates the Stoic and most notably the Emperor Trajan. The letters which flowed between Trajan and Pliny in the last decade of his life form Book X, and are a remarkable glimpse into the relationship an emperor would have with an ‘imperial magistrate’. The Letters are particularly well-known because they touch upon key topics of the time. These include the eruption of Mount Vesuvius (in which Pliny’s uncle, Pliny the Elder died), his interaction with the early Christians; but Pliny also gives accounts of, or comments on, political events, trials, social and domestic issues. These letters effectively allow us to meet and listen to an significant Roman of the time.
Translation: John B. Firth
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Pliny the Younger was born around 61AD and rose to become Consul in 100AD. His letters to his wife, friends and officials including the historian Tacitus and Emperor Trajan are full of detail, wisdom and humanity. They create a luminous picture of Roman life for a man of his wealth and stature. Leighton Pugh’s measured narration reflects the kindly thoughtfulness of Pliny’s writing. I never tire of his voice (even after over 12 hours!) – it’s as though Pliny is talking. Continue reading…