The Elder (Caius Plinitts Seoun-Dus), a Roman author, born A. D. 23, died in 79. Verona and Novum Oomum (the modern Oomo) both claimed to be his birthplace. He belonged to a noble and wealthy family, and when about 23 years old served in Germany under L. Pomponius Secundus, whose life he afterward wrote, and was made commander of a troop of cavalry. At this time he composed a treatise De Jaculatione Equestri, and began a history of the Germanic wars, which was finished in 20 books. Returning to Rome in 52, he studied jurisprudence, and practised as a pleader. He wrote a treatise in three books on the education of an orator, entitled Studio-sus, and during the reign of Nero composed a grammatical work, Dubius Sermo, in eight books. Appointed procurator of Spain, he held that office until a little before 73, when he returned to Rome, became an intimate friend of Vespasian, and continued the history of Aufidius Bassus, in 31 books, down to his own time. An account of his death is given in a letter of the younger Pliny to Tacitus (Epist. vi. 16). He was at Misenum in command of the fleet when, on Aug. 24, 79, his attention was directed to a cloud of very unusual size and shape, which was afterward discovered to proceed from Vesuvius, and was the precursor of the great eruption which destroyed Herculaneum and Pompeii. He immediately went to an eminence near at hand to obtain a closer view, and desiring to make a fuller examination, he ordered a light vessel to be got ready, and provided himself with tablets to take down his observations.
At the solicitation of the mariners of Retina (now Resina), he went to their assistance, and commanded the ships to be launched to save the inhabitants of other cities upon that coast. Proceeding to the very point of danger, he dictated observations upon the phenomena and attendant terrors of the scene. So close did he come to the mountain that a storm of pumice stone, pieces of burning rock, and hot cinders, which kept constantly falling thicker, rained upon the ships, while the sudden retreat of the sea left them in danger of falling aground. The steersman advised him to return; but Pliny ordered him to carry him to Pomponianus, who was at Stabise, whence he was about to set sail in the greatest consternation. Pliny, to quiet his apprehensions, ordered a bath, and partook of his supper with apparent unconcern. He then retired to rest and slept soundly; but the court of the house was filling so fast with cinders, that he was aroused and joined his friends, who, tying pillows upon their heads to protect themselves from the storm of stones and cinders, fled to the fields. It was now day, but the profound darkness was relieved only by the light of the torches. They found the sea too tempestuous to embark, and Pliny lay down upon the sand.
A. strong smell of sulphur compelled the friends to retire; but no sooner had Pliny's slaves raised him from his recumbent position than he fell dead from suffocation. Three days afterward his body was found, bearing no marks of violence. - Pliny was one of the most industrious of writers, and was noted for the economical use of his time. He collected an enormous mass of information, and while he was procurator of Spain he was offered for his materials 400,000 sesterces by Largius Licinius. He bequeathed to his nephew 160 volumes of Electorum Commentarii. The only work of his extant is the Historia Na-turalis, in 37 books, which embraces astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology, botany, and medicine, besides treating of painting and statuary. The number of authors quoted in this work is between 400 and 500, and the number of volumes about 2,000. There have been many editions of it, the first of which was published at Venice in 1469. Among the others are those of Hardouin (5 vols. 4to, Paris, 1685), Lemaire (10 vols. 8vo, Paris, 1827-'33), Panckoucke (20 vols.,.Paris, 1829-'33), Sillig (5 vols. 12mo, Leipsic, 1831-'6), Detleffen (Berlin, 1866 et seq.) and H. Kiel (Leipsic, 1870). An English translation was published by Philemon Holland (London, 1601), and there is another by Dr. Bostock and H. T. Riley in Bohn's " Classical Library" (6 vols., London, 1855).
The Younger (Caitis Plinius CAECilius Secundus), a Roman author, nephew of the preceding, born probably in Comum in A. D. 61 or 62, died about 116. He studied rhetoric at Rome under Nicetis Sacerdos and Quintilian. At the age of 14 he composed a Greek tragedy.
In his 19th year he spoke frequently in the forum, and afterward was employed to plead causes before the court of the centumviri and the senate. After serving in Syria as a military tribune, he was made quaestor Csesaris, prsetor about 93, consul in 100, and in 103 propraetor of the province of Pontica, where he remained nearly two years. He was also curator of the channel and banks of the Tiber, and attained the rank of senator. His only extant works are the Panegyricus, written upon his appointment to the consulship, and noted for its fulsome praise of Trajan, and his Epistolce in ten books. The first nine books of the latter are addressed to various individuals, but the tenth, which is the most important, contains the correspondence between Pliny and Trajan, including the celebrated letter in regard to the early Christians, in which he characterizes their religion as a " perverse and extravagant superstition," and the reply of the emperor, which shows him to have been the more tolerant man of the two.
The first edition of the Epistolce is that of Venice (4to, 1471), where also appeared the first of the Panegyricus and Epistolce together (8vo, 1485). Among the best editions of both works are those of J. M. Gesner, revised by G. H. Schafer (Leipsic, 1805), which contains, a life of Pliny by Cellarius, and of Gierig (2 vols. 8vo, Leipsic, 1806). The edition of the Epistolce by Cortius and Longolius (4to, Amsterdam, 1734) is said to be the best. A life of Pliny, more elaborate than that of Cellarius, was written by Masson (8vo, Amsterdam, 1709). There have been two English translations of the Epistolce one by Helmoth (1746), the other by Lord Orrery (1759). " Pliny's Letters," by the Kev. A. Church and the Rev. W. G. Brod-ripp, was published in Blackwood's "Ancient Classics" (Edinburgh and London, 1875).