Pliny the Younger Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Pliny (PLIN-ee) the Younger, or Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, was born in Comum, Italy, in 61 c.e. His was an aristocratic family of much importance in the Comum area, where several inscriptions relating to the family have survived. His father was Gaius Caecilius, and his mother was Plinia, the sister of Gaius Plinius. (Gaius Plinius is more commonly known as Pliny the Elder—the soldier, lawyer, scholar, and author of the famous natural history.) In 71 the younger Pliny’s father died, leaving his son to the guardianship of his brother-in-law, the elder Pliny. In 79 the elder Pliny adopted the younger by will, and the young man combined his adopted father’s name with his own. From both his father’s and his mother’s side of the family, Pliny the Younger inherited considerable wealth and, more important, influence.{$S[A]Caecilius Secundus, Gaius Plinius;Pliny the Younger}{$S[A]Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus;Pliny the Younger}

Pliny’s early education was overseen by his mother, his uncle, and his tutor, Virginius Rufus. From his early years Pliny was devoted to writing; in one of his letters he states that he wrote a tragedy in Greek when he was fourteen. A lesson assignment given him by his uncle on the day in 79 when Vesuvius erupted and buried Pompeii kept Pliny from accompanying his scientifically curious uncle to the site of that cataclysm and thus spared him from the disaster that killed his uncle. Pliny’s later education was at least in part guided by the greatest of Roman teachers, Quintilian.

At the age of eighteen Pliny began to practice law in Rome. Most of his legal career was spent pleading before the court of the Centumviri, and thus he dealt primarily with cases having to...

(The entire section is 718 words.)