The letters of Pliny (c. AD 61 - 113), a prominent lawyer, administrator and landowner, throw invaluable light on the Rome of his day; they also provide one of the fullest self-portraits to survive from classical times.
It is Pliny who writes to the Emperor Trajan about how to deal with the early Christians ("Nothing but a degenerate sort of cult carried to extravagant lengths"). It is Pliny who gives a vivid and moving account of his uncle's death in the eruption that destroyed Pompeii and tells the story of Arria's heroic suicide after her husband's disgrace. But quite apart from these famous passages, the letters bring a whole society to life for us: the vulgar snobs who ruined many a good dinner-party, the ghost stories that were going the rounds, the brutal master stabbed in the bath by his slaves . . .
This is the first complete translation of Pliny since 1746. As Betty Radice makes clear in her fine introduction, it offers not only a portrait of an age but also a portrait of a remarkable man: shrewd, efficient, very sensitive to scenery, tolerant, perhaps a trifle pompous and, above all, very human.
- Publication Date:
- 01 / 01 / 1964
- 128 x 195mm