Talk:Pliny the Younger

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Bias in article?[edit]

If I can find the time, I hope to get back to add to this article. Virtually all the references on this eminent Roman come from Christian apologetics. Deschreiber (talk) 15:12, 5 February 2012 (UTC)


Re: the rewrite of 20th April - the previous article had become a bit of a hodge-podge of facts without much structure, and undue emphasis had been placed on the Vesuvian eruption and Pliny's (one letter) dealing with Christianity. I used the OCD and Penguin edition of Pliny's letters (the intro is excellent) to verify and add to this article, hopefully ending up with a more balanced account. Please let me know if you feel there are any problems with this. fluoronaut 11:39, 20 April 2006 (UTC)


I added a paragraph on the letter involving the Christians. Historians generally regard them as what set the Roman Empire's policy toward Christians for the rest of the pagan period, so it deserves some attention. --LawrenceTrevallion 01:12, 5 August 2006 (UTC)

Vesuvius account[edit]

While I do think it is an interesting fact, worth mentioning in the article, should his account of Vesuvius' eruption be listed in the Career section? LawrenceTrevallion 01:32, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

  • Agreed, and no idea why it's there since it is already mentioned further down the page. I have removed it. fluoronaut 20:29, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

Father's name[edit]

This page: [1] seems to confirm the name of Pliny's father as Lucius Caecilius. Can't find a citation anywhere on the web for Rufus. fluoronaut 13:04, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

Pliny the Elder[edit]

I have added some details about his uncle which broaden the appeal of this article (I have also added the younger's comments about his uncle to the Pliny the Elder article. Peterlewis (talk) 11:27, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

This data doesn't appear to be very relevant to Pliny the Younger, since it doesn't refer to him. Surely it would be better placed in the article about his uncle, since it's about his uncle's library. And ditto with any data in the Pliny the Elder article about Pliny the Younger. fluoronaut (talk) 11:30, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
Pliny the Younger's comments about his uncle are I think very relevant to his own attitudes and philosophy. Indeed, many academics remember the Younger for these comments. Peterlewis (talk) 19:01, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
I think Pliny the Younger is remembered by academics for a great deal more than his comments about his uncle. Nevertheless, this would certainly be a relevant point to include in the article, but the section which has been inserted is purely referring to his uncle's library, with no reference made to its relevance to Pliny the Younger, nor with any footnote. I really cannot see how it is pertinent. fluoronaut (talk) 11:20, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
It depends on what academics one means. Jo Public will probably only ever have heard of him (if at all) in relation to Vesuvius and his uncle. It is highly pertinent because the younger inherited his uncle's library, and promoted his memory through his letters. I speak as one who has published many articles on the Elder Pliny, and an editor of the articles on him. They are both much neglected, and both wiki articles need much improvement to bring them into the 21st century. Peterlewis (talk) 16:21, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
I assumed by academics you meant those who study both Plinies, or aspects of their legacy. The point I am making is that the information added into the article as it stands has not been made relevant to the existing text, nor has any supporting reference which, as a publisher of articles, I am sure you will appreciate the need for. I suggest you rewrite the surrounding text to integrate the information you see as relevant more appropriately and make its pertinence to the Younger Pliny apparent. As it is, it simply does not have any bearing on the immediate topic. fluoronaut (talk) 11:36, 4 April 2008 (UTC)

The supporting references are his texts from his letters. To say otherwise is being unnecessarily pedantic. The footnote system is widely abused in Wikipedia, such as in some of the classics articles, where refs to original text often pull up the Latin text (rather than an English translation), leaving the reader totally bemused. Peterlewis (talk) 05:04, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

Peter, genuinely, I really recommend that you read (or re-read) the Wikipedia guidelines on content in articles. The information that you're adding and the way you're adding it seems to go against many of Wikipedia's principles. While you (and I) may not agree with all of these, they provide a very useful framework in which contributors can work. I particularly draw your attention to this section in the Guide to Writing Better Articles ( and this page on citing sources ( fluoronaut (talk) 10:37, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

If you look at the copious cited footnotes in Pliny the Elder, you will see that the majority are to Latin texts. Are you seriously arguing that readers will be able to cope with them? There are ample references cited as books or other articles from which readers can gain all the information they need. In many other articles I have edited, the footnotes cite newspaper articles or magazine texts. This is hardly a worthwhile policy if so used. Guidelines are just that, guidelines and not rigid rules. Both Pliny articles need bringing forward from 1911 into 2008 with relevant quotes and references to recent work so as to introduce readers to the wealthof new material on both of these authors. Peterlewis (talk) 11:47, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

In some cases I can see why the lack of availability to English translations might mean that Latin references are made. I do not know what Wikipedia's guidelines are on this, but I'm sure there will be an article somewhere if you search for it. I also had a look at the featured article page which is linked to from Wikipedia's front page and discovered that there is a series of useful information pages here: which should clarify some points. You're right about guidelines not being set in stone of course, but do consider that to make an article one of the best on Wikipedia most of those guidelines will have to be seen to be adhered to. In addition, other users are liable to revert or edit your text heavily to fit them in with the guidelines. And certainly more up-to-date information should be used where possible, but earlier scholarship should also be represented in any balanced article. References to specific points in the text are crucial (for example, I notice that you have not inserted a citation for the English translation of the letter referring to the Vesuvian eruption.) The above are all basic tenets of the art of writing Wikipedia articles. fluoronaut (talk) 15:51, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

Volcanic eruption[edit]

I have added a block quote from Pliny's letters because it is directly relevant to the eruption of Vesuvius and of great interest given that most historians have dismissed his evidence. Like some of his uncle's writings, research has confirmed his testimony. There is also great public interest in the subject after the BBC's " Pompeii, the Last Day". Peterlewis (talk) 04:59, 13 April 2008 (UTC)


You can find all citation in the BENI ARTISTICI public institution.

You will have to find a publication or official website that contains sources on this, otherwise I am afraid it will have to be deleted. Perhaps this page may be helpful if you are unsure how to add citations to the article. --Saddhiyama (talk) 18:08, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

Since the article has a section on his villas, it is certainly lacking in content. I don't think it should be deleted - I think it should be enlarged. Vince Calegon 13:51, 27 January 2016 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Vince Calegon (talkcontribs)


Well, you're a demanding fellow, even as I work. Now I have to take some time on this. There's no problem with refs on the villas; they are all over the Internet. The one on Umbria seems strange to me; he liked the vicinity of Rome, and then secondly Lake Como, but I will look it up. The problem is, if I do not find it I will delete it. Moreover that strategic stuff is off the wall. The Apennines? Strategic? At that time they were in the middle of an uninvaded Italy and anyway we do not build "strategic" country homes for fine living; we build military castra. Onward and upward. You seem to like Pliny. I won't be finishing this article right now; I found some material while working on the elder that belongs here. This one isn't really on my list, but you know, carpe diem. Ciao.Dave (talk) 13:50, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

Well I looked into it buddy. The paragraph is referring to the famous Tuscan villa Pliny spent so much time and money on, and liked so well, and consumed so much space writing about. It was not then in Umbria. The most probable site established by excavation is a place called Colle Plinio. There will be no problem at all finding references. However, that sentence or two about the logging and the strategic importance are totally irrelevant. Pliny did not give a hoot about logging and was not interested in strategy and anyway those considerations were long gone by as the descendants of the Etruscans now spoke Latin and Etruria as a polity had been gone for centuries. So that needs to be rewritten. As I said above I am not going to do it right now but as there seems to be some popular demand (yours) I will move this up in my list and we will see some work on it this year. Thanks for your interest. You format changes don't bother me much but if the article gets more sections and the contents are longer we are going to have the usual unsightly column of white space right in the center. By the way the other requests for refs are rightly there because the material looks suspect to me. But, I'm not doing that right now. Ciao.Dave (talk) 14:40, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
Thanks very much for all your work on this - I have a few queries, but will have more time soon to discuss it. I am always interested in Pliny, and thought the logging info looked a bit strange when it was added. fluoronaut (talk) 19:51, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

Jesus and Jewish not confirmed by Pliny[edit]

I ask that the line:" We may recognize that Jesus was worshiped, and that fanatical believers of Christ - a Jewish sect spreading in the Roman Empire - may be put to death for their superstitious beliefs, in a short period of the early second century by Roman jurisdiction." be amended.

First there is no evidence here that anybody was worshiping anybody named Jesus at this point in history. The Christ (anointed one) is quite different than the Jesus character. We know that certain followers of John the baptist believed that he was the Christ and not Jesus. Other followers of John thought Dositheus was the Christ. We also have reports of a figure named Chrestus and many other Jewish leaders who may have been considered Christ figures at this time. Secondly, there is no evidence that this was a Jewish cult. The fact that Pliny tortured two female slaves who were deaconesses suggests it was not a Jewish cult. There is no evidence of Jewish women being allowed to participate in any priesthood at this time. The vow that was taken does not match the Jewish ten commandments or any Christian commandments (Love God and love your neighbor, for example). The oath they take is not to commit 1)fraud, 2) theft, 3)adultery, 4)breaking of promises, and 5)keep a trust they were supposed to return. That they gathered and sang a pre-dawn hymm also does not match any known Jewish custom at the time.

Thus that these Christians were worshipers of Jesus or a Jewish sect is not based on any evidence, but is only a supposition of the writer. The line should read, "If this letter is authentic, it is evidence that a Christian Sect in the early Second Century had female deaconesses and some Christians were legally put to death by Roman law." Jayraskin (talk) 20:08, 10 August 2011 (UTC)Jay Raskin

The three citations don't actually say how Pliny would've known about Jesus's existence, he was born thirty to sixty years after Jesus's death, and lived a thousand miles away. He wouldn't have had access to any such records, had they existed, which there are no other contemporary reports. (talk) 07:18, 10 April 2012 (UTC)
Belatedly coming upon this exchange, and it seems important points are being missed--Pliny knew the historian Tacitus, who did mention Jesus briefly in his history (there is no reason to think that was added to his history later on), and it's quite clear that when speaking of 'Christians', they mean the Jesus cult, which is spreading rapidly in the Empire (it's been less than a century since Jesus was crucified), and has aroused some concern from the authorities. The fact that Christians were developing rituals different from those of the mainstream Jewish faith that had decisively rejected the claim that Jesus was Messiah seems wholly unremarkable--of course they did. Pliny does show us that at this point in time it was still considered a basically a sect of Judaism by the Romans (who knew almost nothing about either religion), though of course each successive Jewish uprising made the Christians more eager to distinguish themselves from the Jews, and many gentiles had joined them by this time. Nobody knows exactly when Christians stopped thinking of themselves as Jewish, but the process was certainly well under way long before Pliny wrote this epistle (for example, Paul saying decades earlier that gentile converts didn't need to adhere to Jewish law regarding diet and circumcision). Pliny's epistle was preserved by Christians, because it showed their early martyrs in a good light (hardly Pliny's intention, but that's how it reads--he's almost saying "Don't ask don't tell"), but does anyone seriously suggest it was fabricated by them? It is not necessary, of course, to 'prove' Jesus existed as a flesh and blood human being whose life and teachings inspired the rise of a great religion, since no serious qualified mainstream historian has ever suggested otherwise, nor did any contemporary figure during the rise of Christianity, a cult that certainly had many extremely vocal enemies. What Pliny shows us is that less than a hundred years after Jesus died, there were people ready to endure horrible deaths rather than deny him--it is likely that most are familiar with the account of Peter denying Jesus three times. And for the record, I don't think Jesus was a supernatural being. I'm talking about history here. And history says Jesus existed, and that references to 'Christians' are references to people trying to follow in his footsteps. Xfpisher (talk) 18:16, 27 March 2013 (UTC)

Copy-Edit Request[edit]

Can someone please either check to see if the copy-edit request has been satisfied or whether there are any other issues? Robert McClenon (talk) 02:06, 13 June 2013 (UTC)

@Robert McClenon: To be honest I don't think the prose of the article is very good, but it doesn't have any critical issues. AGK [•] 12:09, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

who is Lutulla?[edit]

from the article:

The word contubernalis describing Lutulla is the military term meaning "tent-mate", which can only mean that she was living with Lucius, not as his wife. The first man mentioned, L. Caecilius Valens, is probably the older son. Pliny the Younger confirms[8] that he was a trustee for the largess "of my ancestors". It seems unknown to Pliny the Elder, so Valens' mother was probably not his sister Plinia; perhaps Valens was Lutulla's son from an earlier relationship.[citation needed]

it's not quite clear who she is. --tickle me 00:31, 7 January 2014 (UTC)

"Consistent in his pursuit (torturing and executing) of suspected Christian members".[edit]

What??? A sentence in the lead says "Pliny was considered an honest and moderate man, consistent in his pursuit (torturing and executing) of suspected Christian members according to Roman law." I feel this "(torturing and executing)" has been added at some point to the original sentence, it certainly doesn't belong in there. I don't think the issue of Christians belongs in the lead at all, it is not really important enough in the context of Pliny's whole life and works.Smeat75 (talk) 01:23, 13 May 2014 (UTC)

The section about that letter in the body of the article is also absurdly slanted and non-neutral, I am re-writing it.Smeat75 (talk) 01:27, 13 May 2014 (UTC)

Comedy and Tragedy[edit]

"... named "Tragedy" because of its location high on a hill. Another, on the shore of the lake, was named "Comedy" because it was sited low down"

These sentences make it sound like the explanations given are perfectly good reasons for these names. Maybe it's just me, but I really have no idea why a location high on a hill would be a good reason for the name "Tragedy" (was the hill so difficult to climb up? Was the villa in danger of falling down?), or why a site down on the shore would lead to the name "Comedy". Can someone enlighten me (and the article maybe)? -- (talk) 16:31, 2 May 2017 (UTC)