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Pliny (2) the Younger, 61/62–c. 112 CE  

Christopher Whitton

Pliny the Younger is the best-documented private individual of the early Roman principate, and one of the most accomplished writers of Latin prose. Nephew of Pliny the Elder, he rose from provincial equestrian origins to serve as suffect consul in 100 ce and governor of Pontus-Bithynia in c. 110–112. His nine-book Epistles is an innovative collection of purportedly authentic letters, crafted into a literary work of minute artistry. It sketches a fragmented portrait of Trajanic elite society, with Pliny as the exemplary individual at its centre. Among its varied contents are eleven letters to Tacitus, including celebrated narratives of the eruption of Vesuvius in 79, several accounts of senatorial trials, and fulsome descriptions of two villas belonging to Pliny. The Panegyricus, the only extant Latin speech from the two hundred years following the death of Cicero, is a founding example of imperial encomium, praising Trajan and vilifying Domitian. The book of letters to and from Trajan known as Epistles 10 bears unique witness to Roman provincial governance, and to early Roman views of Christianity.


Sulpicia (2), Latin poet  

Mario Citroni

Sulpicia (2), poet of the age of *Domitian. *Martial 10.38, which must have been written on her death (lines 12–14) after fifteen years of happy marriage, is to be dated between 94 and 98 ce. She wrote love poems addressed to her husband Calenus, expressing, according to Martial (10.35, 38), both total fidelity and bold sensuality, a feature confirmed by her one surviving fragment, which is a rare example in Latin poetry of married eroticism. She is mentioned on several occasions in later literature (Auson. p. 218.10 P., Sidon.Carm. 9.261, Fulgent.Myth. 1.4) and a poem in seventy hexameters, the Sulpiciae conquestio (Epigrammata Bobiensia 37), is written in her name. In it she is made to abandon minor verse (in hendecasyllables, iambic trimeters, and scazons) and to denounce the degradation of the empire under Domitian, in relation to a banishment of philosophers; the victims of this banishment supposedly include Calenus. The style, prosody, and implausibility of the piece point to its being a late text, probably from the same date as the Bobbio collection itself (end of 4th or beginning of 5th century ce).