PLINY'S statement that he was in his eighteenth year at the time of the eruption of Vesuvius enables us to place his birth with certainty in 62 A. D. He was the nephew and adopted son of C. Plinius Secundus, the author of the Natural History, whose example undoubtedly did much to stimulate his literary ambitions. He studied rhetoric under Quintilian, and beginning the practice of law at an early age, soon became one of the leading advocates in Rome. He passed through the usual course of official honors, attaining the consulship in 100 under Trajan, and finally in 111 or 112 being appointed governor of Bithynia. He died about 114.
He published a number of speeches, some poems, and several books of letters. Of these one speech, the Panegyric on Trajan, and the Letters have survived. The Panegyric was delivered in the senate on the occasion of his election to the consulship, but was only published after careful revision. It is a conspicuous example of the florid type of oratory, shows many signs of studied elaboration, and is full of flattery of the emperor. Of much greater value and interest are the ten books of Letters, the first nine containing epistles on a great variety of subjects addressed to various friends, while the last is confined to correspondence with Trajan during Pliny's governorship of Bithynia. In the first group we have to deal with productions which were only ostensibly letters and which were written to be published,--each one dealing with a single theme,