Pliny the Younger was a Roman official and writer, famous for his letters which are an important source for Roman history.
Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, known as Pliny the Younger, was the son of a landowner from Comum in northern Italy. After his father's death Pliny was brought up by his uncle, Pliny the Elder, the author of a famous encyclopaedia on natural history. In 79 AD, he witnessed the eruption of Vesuvius which killed his uncle. He later described this in a letter to his friend the historian Tacitus.
Pliny travelled to Rome for the later stages of his education, and later enjoyed a successful career in law and government. He entered the senate in the late 80s AD and as consul in 100 AD, he delivered his Panegyricus in honour of the emperor Trajan. His revised and expanded version of this speech is one of the very few surviving Latin speeches that are not by Cicero. In around 110 AD, Pliny was appointed governor of the Roman province of Bithynia-Pontusis (north west Asia Minor).
The first nine books of Pliny's letters, written to friends and colleagues, are formal literary compositions, which set out to give a picture of the times. They cover political events such as senatorial debates, elections and trials as well as social and domestic matters, and also include advice, topographical descriptions and even job references. The tenth book consists of letters to and from the emperor Trajan, mostly written during Pliny's governorship. They were not written with an eye to publication, and were probably published after Pliny's death. In these letters, he seeks rulings from Trajan on matters arising in his province. These letters are a major source for Roman provincial administration, and give a fascinating glimpse of the paperwork with which emperors were required occupy themselves.
Pliny is thought to have died in Bithynia-Pontusis in around 112 AD.
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