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The Letters Of The Younger Pliny by Pliny the Younger - Penguin Books Australia

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Volume I. I: [iv], lxxv, [i], , [35]p.

II: [iv], , [54]p. I: [Half-t. Book I.

The Letters of the Younger Pliny

II: [Half-t. Book VI. Both title-page vignettes are signed as engraved by J. In Antiquity, letters were even more important than today.

Letter to Sura, by Pliny the Younger (1st century A.D.)

The success of a career was to a large extent dependent upon invitations and recommendations. And a man could show in his correspondence that he was well-educated, which was absolutely imperative for anyone dreaming of a career. Pliny's letters can be regarded as a collection of models, and has indeed been used for educational purposes well into the eighteenth century.

For example, he offers a few ways to begin a letter, but he also shows how this model can be varied upon. Sometimes, he explicitly offers advice - ironically. In Letter 2. Of course, a collection like this had to contain examples for all possible occasions. There had to be a model letter to inquire about someone's activities, there had to be a charming invitation for a nice dinner, and there had to be a letter that forced the addressee to send a charming invitation for a nice dinner. Pliny gave examples of all possible letters. This does not mean that the letters are invented, although Pliny polished them before publication.

Their authenticity is all the more intriguing because the addressees are sometimes extremely important persons: for example, Trajan's chief of staff Lucius Licinius Sura and his attorney general Lucius Neratius Priscus. We also meet the biographer Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus , who is asked for help when Pliny learns that he recites his poetry badly. The historian Cornelius Tacitus , a personal friend of Pliny, receives letters about the eruption of the Vesuvius, which Pliny has witnessed.

Reading the letters, we get the impression that Pliny was an amicable man, good at heart. For example, he tells how he sent one of his freedmen, who suffered from tuberculosis, on a cruise to Egypt; and when the dry air of the desert did not cure the patient, he sent him to a chalet in the Alps.

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He wanted us to think about him as a philanthropist. There is something insincere about the man. This comes as no surprise.