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Pliny: Regulus

2. Pliny’s Letters

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about Pliny’s letters as a work of literature and Pliny as an author, focusing in particular on: (i) the figure of Pliny himself, his life and career, and his literary output; (ii) Pliny’s letters: who they’re written to and what kinds of topics they cover; (iii) the extent to which Pliny’s letters combine to form a monumental portrait of one man – Pliny himself – a kind of autobiography in fragments; (iv) the history of letter-writing in Rome, including the letters of Cicero; (v) the extent to which Pliny’s letters has prepared his letters for publication, both individually and as a collection; and (vi) the genre of letter-writing in Rome more generally, both fictional (e.g. Ovid’s Heroides) and (ostensibly) non-fictional (e.g. Seneca’s Epistulae Morales).


In this course, Dr Chris Whitton (University of Cambridge) explores the story of Regulus found in Pliny’s Epistles that forms one of the prose set texts for OCR GCSE Latin (J282). In the first module, we provide some of the social, cultural and historical context for the story of Regulus – particularly the concept of ‘legacy-hunting’ (Latin: captatio) – before turning in the second module to think about Pliny’s letters more broadly as a work of literature. In short final section, we provide some suggestions for further reading, including a translation, commentary and two works of secondary literature.


Dr Christopher Whitton studied Classics at St John’s College, Cambridge, where he then wrote a PhD on the works of Tacitus and Pliny. He has taught at Cambridge since 2007, where he is now a Senior Lecturer in Classics and a Fellow of Emmanuel College.

His particular area of expertise is Latin imperial prose literature, in particular Pliny’s Epistles and the works of Tacitus. Among other things, he’s currently writing a commentary on Annals 14.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Whitton, C. (2021, February 16). Pliny: Regulus - Pliny’s Letters [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Whitton, Christopher. "Pliny: Regulus – Pliny’s Letters." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 16 Feb 2021,

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