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Pliny: Regulus

2. Pliny’s Letters

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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.


Christopher Whitton is Professor of Latin Language at the University of Cambridge. He works on Latin literature of the early Roman Empire, especially Pliny the Younger and Tacitus, with particular interests in prose style, intertextuality and the intersection of literature and history. His main research projects at the moment are a 'green and yellow' commentary on Tacitus Annals 14 and a monograph provisionally entitled Tacitus Revoiced: Reading the Histories with Pliny the Younger.

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

MLA style

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

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