The Letters of the Younger Pliny
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The Letters of the Younger Pliny

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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  653 ratings  ·  29 reviews
A prominent lawyer and administrator, Pliny was also a prolific letter-writer, who numbered among his correspondents such eminent figures as Tacitus, Suetonius and the Emperor Trajan, as well as a wide circle of friends and family. His lively and very personal letters address a wide range of topics.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 30th 1963 by Penguin Classics (first published 109)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,349)
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Kay
I'll admit that at the time, reading the Letters of Pliny the Younger for my Classics courses was one of my least favorite assignments. Compared to Seneca, Suetonis, and Tacitus, Pliny seemed a bit dry and too run-of-the-mill for my tastes.

Looking back, however, the Letters are what remain in my mind the most.

The Letters opened the doors to the world of the everyday Roman. In his lively, pompous style, Pliny the Younger painted a vivid picture of the real Rome: the state of the crops, the desig...more
David Sarkies
Jun 04, 2014 David Sarkies rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historians and Romanophiles
Recommended to David by: Classical Studies
Shelves: history
A look into the life of a Roman aristocrat
4 June 2014
So we must work at our profession and not make anybody else's idleness an excuse for our own. There is no lack of readers and listeners; it is for us to produce something worth being written and heard.

A part of me wished that I read these letters a lot closer, and also took some notes, because there are a lot of interesting little bits in here, such as an eyewitness account of the eruption of Vesuvius (letter 6:16), two letters in which Pliny...more
Jane
A window into the world of the upper-class Roman of Pliny's day.

I felt the most fascinating letters were:

Correspondence with Trajan on various matters when Pliny was governor of Bithynia. Most important to us is the correspondence on treatment of Christians, in which Trajan gave his approval to Pliny's treatment of them.
Description of Pliny's Laurentian villa: XXIII
Beauty of the countryside and description of his Tuscan villa: LII
Legacy-hunting: XXV
What he considers a good dinner party: XIX, XX...more
Sara
Dec 07, 2007 Sara rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lovers of classical history
This collection offers a rare, personal take on life in the late classical world. Pliny the Younger writes on everything from political issues to etiquette advice to love and social issues. One of my favorite letters is the one in which he relates a ghost story (complete with rattling chains). Although the real gem of this collection is Pliny's eye-witness account not only of the eruption of Vesuvius, but of his uncle's (Pliny the Elder's) rescue by boat of a number of people fleeing the now sto...more
Tony

Pliny (The Younger). A SELF PORTRAIT. **** This Pliny is known as the Younger to distinguish him from his uncle, Pliny, the Elder. We know about his uncle through his own famous work, “A Natural History,” which in those times ran to thirty-seven volumes. This Pliny was a Senator in Rome during the latter half of the first century A.D. Young Pliny managed to arrange most of his correspondence into a grouping of ten books before his death. They are more or less chronological, and represent a telli...more
John Oswalt
Pliny the Younger (A.D. 62 - circa 113) was a highly educated and literate Roman lawyer, orator, and provincial governor. This book contains about 170 letters by Pliny (all that survive, I think) plus about 50 by the emperor Trajan in reply to Pliny's.

The first part consists of letters by Pliny written to friends and family. Many are giving advise on legal matters, such as inheritance; some are condolences written after the death of a friend or colleague; some are about finding suitable wives or...more
Sarah
Pliny is the sweetest and most adorable person, with a kind heart and incredible generosity of spirit; these letters are charming, uplifting, morally admirable and will tell you so much about life and attitudes under the Antonines. Whether you're interested in ancient Rome or not, I simply can't recommend reading them highly enough.
Philippe
In high school I was an eager student of Latin, and so having read Caesar, Sallustius, Livius and many other great authors in the original, I was under the impression of having a good background in Roman history. And so it came that I didn't read anything about this particular historical period in at least fifteen years. Pliny's letters made me realise how superficial and cliche-ridden my understanding of that epoch was. It seems that as a high school student one is focused on the language to su...more
Jennifer Malin
Being a Pompeii buff, I'd seen Pliny's evocative letter describing his personal experience of the year 79 eruption of Vesuvius (in which his uncle, Pliny the Elder, died). I was curious what else he had to say in his letters, so I picked up this book.

Pliny the Younger was a lawyer in ancient Rome, and though I was more interested in the domestic side of his life, I imagine it must be fascinating for modern attorneys to read about the workings of their profession 2,000 years ago. Even I found it...more
Raeanna Hammerbacker
An amazing look into the elite, political and social life of wealthy Roman citizens. From descriptions of leisurely homes to correspondence with the emperor Trajan to eyewitness accounts of the eruption of Vesuvius, Pliny the Younger's letters are an invaluable source to any one wanting to construct a context for studying the late Roman Republic and following Empire.
Angel
I picked this up because I saw it reviewed elsewhere (can't recall where now). Anyhow, it is not the most interesting book unless you really are into minutia. Pliny the Younger was a lawyer and politician in Imperial Rome, and much of the correspondence deals with cases he tried. It also deals with letters to friends, providing political advice and other types of advice, etc. If nothing else, it shows that politicians back in the day were not that different than today's in the sense of self-prom...more
Redsteve
While this book does contain a lot of first hand information about life in Imperial Rome - especially the legal system and the elaborate network of favors, obligations, and patronage in the Senatorial class - it's not especially readable, being a collection of letters written by Pliny (and, near the end, by the Emperor Trajan to Pliny). Also, to be honest, Pliny does spend a good bit of time blowing his own horn about his virtue, legal acumen and generosity, which starts to wear on the reader af...more
Seamus Enright
He certainly lived in interesting times...Even though he's considered a primary source for information about life in the Roman Empire, paradoxically you have to know a lot about the structures of that society to really understand his work. A lot of the letters are about obscure legal matters which may be of interest to legal historians but not to someone with a casual interest in Ancient History. On the other hand his accounts of Pompeii and the treatment of early Christians are really enlighten...more
Nate
A pretty delightful change from the works of his contemporaries Tacitus and Suetonius. Pliny's letters give a more rounded and full picture of day to day life in the Roman Empire. Highlights include his account of the eruption of Vesuvius that wiped out Pompeii, and killed his uncle Pliny the Elder; his correspondence with Emperor Trajan; discussions of early Christians (whom he had executed); and descriptions of his country estates.
Joslyn
Aug 14, 2007 Joslyn rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone wanting to learn about politics in Ancient Rome
The letters of Pliny the Younger in this Oxford edition are nicely translated, capturing the eloquence, persuasiveness and desription known to be trademarks of his. A great source for those who want to take a deeper look at the politics of the Rome, forerunner to our own political system and tactics. Also interesting are the first hand accounts of historical events like the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD.
Kgwhitehurst
Pliny the Younger is a more positive a Stoic than say Seneca. Good glimpse at the way the Roman courts and Roman argumentation worked. Roman literary custom is also covered though I tend to find it trite and self-serving. His letters to Tacitus concerning his uncle's death are moving and revelatory. Two books left to go. Last book deals with his correspondence with Trajan. That'll be interesting.
Christina
I hate Pliny the Younger. I learned that Pliny the Younger is a pompous ass who likes to talk himself up as well as other people. He thinks he is amazing, he is long winded and if I had the unfortunate chance of meeting him in person I'd toss him off a fricking cliff.
James Violand
Jul 03, 2014 James Violand rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: students of ancient Rome
Shelves: own
As an official in the Roman government, Pliny wrote on numerous things. His complaint about Christians is worth reading as is Trajan's response. Shows the routine of government. He had accompanied Pliny the Elder to watch Vesuvius erupt, but had survived.
Andrew
Intruiging look into the life of an ancient Roman diplomat. A collection of letters dealing with everything from an ancient Roman dinner party to the "Christian problem" that the Emperor Trajan had. A must read for anyone interested in ancient Roman culture.
Elissa
Like Samuel Pepys, but in ancient Rome! Pliny had a lot of personality and many interests. Loved the Vesuvius part, poetry readings, vestal virgins, persecuting christians, etc. Very educational, need to read more about ancient Rome.
Andrew
I liked this book, but who doesn't like a good book about aristocratic Roman guys. Some of his letters are absolutely hilarious and even mentions some strange guy from the east named Jesus.
Nathan O'Der
It was interesting to read the thoughts of a Praetor at the time. It was also fascinating to get an idea of how much the man enjoyed reading the writing of others.
Charlotte
I was required to study around twenty of Pliny's letters and found them fascinating - a good insight into his character and life during his time.
Johanne
Fascinating and interesting to see how little has changed in some areas despite the passage of almost 2000 years & I want Pliny's seaside villa!
David
Excellent insights into live in the early empire. Oh how we've lost the art of letter writing - texts and e-mails don't quite cut it.
Lucas
A very nice and complete edition unfortunately marred by endnotes which should have been footnotes.
Sarah
Excellent, clear translations and a really useful aid to study in the Roman period.
Sally
You feel that you might run into him on the street; human nature doesn't change much.
Laura
so pompous, but part of his charm
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  • Selected Letters
  • Natural History: A Selection
  • The Later Roman Empire: A.D. 354-378
  • The Histories
  • Epigrams
  • The Poems of Exile: Tristia and the Black Sea Letters
  • The Civil Wars
  • Lives of the Later Caesars
  • The Jugurthine War and The Conspiracy of Catiline
  • The Roman History: The Reign of Augustus
  • The Sixteen Satires
  • Four Tragedies and Octavia
  • Rome and Italy: Books VI-X of the History of Rome from its Foundation
  • The Rise and Fall of Athens: Nine Greek Lives
  • A History of My Times
  • Brief Lives
  • The Eclogues: Dual Language Edition
  • Odes and Epodes (Loeb Classical Library)
302387
Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, born Gaius Caecilius or Gaius Caecilius Cilo (61 AD – ca. 112 AD), better known as Pliny the Younger, was a lawyer, author, and magistrate of Ancient Rome. Pliny's uncle, Pliny the Elder, helped raise and educate him and they were both witnesses to the eruption of Vesuvius on 24 August 79 AD.

"You would have heard the wails of women, the shrieks of infants, shouts...more
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“An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit.” 8 likes
“So we must work at our profession and not make anybody else's idleness an excuse for our own. There is no lack of readers and listeners; it is for us to produce something worth being written and heard.” 1 likes
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