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Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus (Pliny the Younger)

Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus (Pliny the Younger)

Circa 61-112 c.e.

Politician and author


Domestic Architecture. Pliny the Younger was a native of Comum in the Tuscan countryside to the north of Rome. He held the consulship in 100 C.E. and was active in forensic work his entire life. His nine books of literary letters recount political, social, domestic, and other events of his era. Many of these letters are truly essays about contemporary life, and were probably written as such rather than as strictly personal correspondences. In some of his autobiographical letters Pliny writes of his various villas, their situation, construction, and decoration, and thus he attests to the importance of domestic architecture to a Roman of his status and economic resources. Pliny was also a patron of his native Comum. When he discovered that local children were going elsewhere for school, Pliny helped to endow local positions to attract teachers to Comum so the native children could study in closer proximity to their families. In a letter to his friend Cornelius Tacitus, Pliny writes, “I was visiting my native town a short time ago when the young son of a fellow-citizen came to pay his respects to me. ’Do you go to school?’ I asked. ‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘Where?’ ‘In Mediolanum (Milan).’ ‘Why not here?’ To this the boy’s father (who had brought him and was standing by) replied: ‘Because we have no teachers here.’ ‘Why not? Surely it is a matter of great importance to you fathers (and luckily there were several fathers listening) that your children should study here on the spot? Where can they live more happily than in their native place? Where can they be brought up more strictly than under their parent’s eye or with less expense than at home?‘”


Pliny, Epistulae 4.13.3-5, translated by Betty Radice (London: Penguin, 1963).

W. Jeffrey Tatum, “Pliny the Younger,” in Ancient Roman Writers, Dictionary of Literary Biography, volume 211, edited by Ward W. Briggs (Columbia, S.C.: Bruccoli Clark Layman / Detroit: Gale Group, 1999), pp. 243-250.

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