The Ancient Library

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Thestius, and brother of Althaea, was killed by Meleager. (Apollod. i. 7. § 10 ; meleager.)

2. A son of Phineus, by Cleopatra. (Apollod. iii. 15. § 3 ; Schol. ad Soph. Antig. 980.)

3. One of the sons of Aegvptus (Hygin. Fab. 170.) " [L.S.]

C. PLI'NIUS SECUNDUS, the celebrated author of the Historia Naturalis, was born A. d. 23, having reached the age of 56 at the time of his death, which took place in a. d. 79. (Plin. Jun. JEpist. iii. 5.) The question as to the place of his birth has been the subject of a voluminous and ra­ther angry discussion between the champions of Verona and those of Novum Comum (the modern Como). That he was born at one or other of these two towns seems pretty certain ; Hardouin's no­tion, that he was born at Rome, has nothing to support it. The claim of Comum seems to be, on the whole, the better founded of the two. In the life of Pliny ascribed to Suetonius, and by Euse-bius, or his translator Jerome, he is styled Novo-comensis. Another anonymous life of Pliny (ap­parently of late origin and of no authority) calls him a native of Verona ; and it has been thought that the claim of Verona to be considered as his birth-place is confirmed by the fact that Pliny himself (Praef. init.} calls Catullus, who was a native of Verona, his conterraneus. On the other hand, it has been urged with more discerning cri­ticism, that as the two towns were both situated beyond the Padus in Gallia Cisalpina, and at no very great distance from each other, this somewhat barbarous word is much better adapted to intimate that Catullus was a fellow-countryman of Pliny, than that he was a felloiv-townsman. In a similar manner the younger Pliny, who was undoubtedly born at Novum Comum, speaks of Veronenses nostri (JEpist. vi. ult.). Of two Veronese inscriptions which have been adduced, one appears to be spu­rious. The other, which is admitted to be genuine, is too mutilated for its tenour to be ascertained. It appears to have been set up by a Plinius Se-cundus, but whether the author of the Natural History.or not, there is nothing to show. Nor would it in any case be decisive as to the birth­place of Pliny. That the family of the Plinii be­longed to Novum Comum is clear from the facts that the estates of the elder Pliny were situated there, and that the younger Pliny was born there, and from several inscriptions found in the neigh­bourhood relating to various members of the family. Of the particular events in the life of Pliny we know but little ; but for the absence of such mate­rials for biography we are in some degree compen­sated by the valuable account which his nephew has left us of his habits of life. He came to Rome while still young, and being descended from a family of wealth and distinction, he had the means at his disposal for availing himself of the instruction of the best teachers to be found in the imperial city. In one passage of his work (ix. 58) he speaks of the enormous quantity of jewellery which he had seen worn by Lollia Paulina. That must have been before A. d. 40, in which year Caligula married Cesonia, It does not appear necessary to suppose that at that early age Pliny had already been introduced at the court of Caligula. The strange animals exhibited by the emperors and wealthy Romans in spectacles and combats, seem early to have attracted his attention (comp. //. N. ix. 5). He was for some time on the coast of


Africa, though in what capacity, or at what period, we are not informed (//. N. vii. 3). At the age of about 23 he went to Germany, where he served under L. Pomponius Secundus, of whom he after­wards wrote a memoir (Plin. Jun. Ep. iii. 5), and was appointed to the command of a troop of cavalry (pracfedits aloe) (Plin. Jun. /. c.). It appears from notices of his own that he travelled over most of the frontier of Germany, having visited the Cauci, the sources of the Danube, &c. It was pro­bably in Belgium that he became acquainted with Cornelius Tacitus (not the historian of that name, H. N. vii. 16). It was in the intervals snatched from his military duties that he composed his treatise de Jaculatione equestri. (Plin. Jun. L c.) At the same time he commenced a history of the Germanic wars, being led to do so by a dream in which he fancied himself commissioned to under­take the task bv Drusus Nero. This work he


afterwards completed in twenty books.

Pliny returned to Rome with Pomponius (a. d. 52), and applied himself to the study of jurispru­dence. He practised for some time as a pleader, but does not seem to have distinguished himself very greatly in that capacity. The greater part of the reign of Nero he spent in retirement, chiefly, no doubt, at his native place. It may have been with a view to the education of his nephew that he composed the work entitled Studiosus, an extensive treatise in three books, occupying six volumes, in which he marked out the course that should be pursued in the training of a young orator, from the cradle to the completion of his education and his entrance into public life. (Plin. Jun. I. c. ; Quintil. iii. 1. § 21.) Towards the end of the reign of Nero he wrote a grammatical work in eight books, entitled Dubius Sermo^ confutations of which were promised by various professed gram­marians, Stoics, dialecticians, &c. ; though ten years afterwards, when the Historia Naturalis was published, they had not appeared. (Plin. //. N. i. Praef. § 22.) It was towards the close of the reign of Nero that Pliny was appointed procurator in Spain. He was here in a. d. 71, when his brother-in-law died, leaving his son, the younger Pliny, to the guardianship of his uncle, who, on account of his absence, was obliged to entrust the care of him to Virginius Rufus. Pliny returned to Rome in the reign of Vespasian, shortly before a. d. 73, when he adopted his nephew. He had known Vespasian in the Germanic wars, and the emperor received him into the number of his most intimate friends. For the assertion that Pliny served with Titus in Judaea there is no authority. He was, however, on intimate terms with Titus, to whom he dedicated his great work. Nor is there any evidence that he was ever created senator by Vespasian. It was doubtless at this period of his life that he wrote a continuation of the history of Aufidius Bassus, in 31 books, carrying the narrative down to his own times (H.N. praef. § 19). Of his manner of life at this period an interesting account has been preserved by his nephew (Epist, iii. 5). It was his practice to begin to spend a portion of the night in studying by candle-light, at the festival of the Vulcanalia (towards the end of August), at first at a late hour of the night, in winter at one or two o'clock in the morning. Before it was light he betook himself to the emperor Vespasian, and after executing such commissions as he might be charged with, returned home and

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