THE LIFE OF PLINY by Suetonius Tranquillus – Read online
THE LIFE OF PLINY – THE LIVES OF THE TWELVE CAESARS By C. Suetonius Tranquillus
PLINIUS SECUNDUS, a native of New Como 985, having served in (546) the wars with strict attention to his duties, in the rank of a knight, distinguished himself, also, by the great integrity with which he administered the high functions of procurator for a long period in the several provinces intrusted to his charge.
But still he devoted so much attention to literary pursuits, that it would not have been an easy matter for a person who enjoyed entire leisure to have written more than he did. He comprised, in twenty volumes, an account of all the various wars carried on in successive periods with the German tribes. Besides this, he wrote a Natural History, which extended to seven books.
He fell a victim to the calamitous event which occurred in Campania. For, having the command of the fleet at Misenum, when Vesuvius was throwing up a fiery eruption, he put to sea with his gallies for the purpose of exploring the causes of the phenomenon close on the spot 986. But being prevented by contrary winds from sailing back, he was suffocated in the dense cloud of dust and ashes.
Some, however, think that he was killed by his slave, having implored him to put an end to his sufferings, when he was reduced to the last extremity by the fervent heat. 987
[ Although this brief memoir of Pliny is inserted in all the editions of Suetonius, it was unquestionably not written by him. The author, whoever he was, has confounded the two Plinys, the uncle and nephew, into which error Suetonius could not have fallen, as he lived on intimate terms with the younger Pliny; nor can it be supposed that he would have composed the memoir of his illustrious friend in so cursory a manner. Scaliger and other learned men consider that the life of Pliny, attributed to Suetonius, was composed more than four centuries after that historian’s death.]
[ See JULIUS, c. xxviii. Caius Plinius Caecilius Secundus (the younger Pliny) was born at Como, A.U.C. 814; A.D. 62. His father’s name was Lucius Caecilius, also of Como, who married Plinia, the sister of Caius Plinius Secundus, supposed to have been a native of Verona, the author of the Natural History, and by this marriage the uncle of Pliny the Younger. It was the nephew who enjoyed the confidence of the emperors Nerva and Trajan, and was the author of the celebrated Letters.]
[ The first eruption of Mount Vesuvius occurred A.U.C. 831, A.D. 79. See TITUS, c. viii. The younger Pliny was with his uncle at Misenum at the time, and has left an account of his disastrous enterprise in one of his letters, Epist. vi. xvi.]
[ For further accounts of the elder Pliny, see the Epistles of his nephew, B. iii. 5; vi. 16. 20; and Dr. Thomson’s remarks before, pp. 475-478.]