Pliny and the Eruption of Vesuvius
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Pliny and the Eruption of Vesuvius is a forensic examination of two of the most famous letters from the ancient Mediterranean world: Pliny the Younger’s Epistulae 6.16 and 6.20, which offer a contemporary account of the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79.
These letters, sent to the historian Tacitus, provide accounts by Pliny the Younger about what happened when Mt Vesuvius exploded, destroying the surrounding towns and countryside, including Pompeii and Herculaneum, and killing his uncle, Pliny the Elder. This volume provides the first comprehensive full-length treatment of these documents, contextualized by evidence-rich biographies for both Plinys, and a synthesis of the latest archaeological and volcanological research which answers questions about the eruption date. A new collation of sources results in a detailed manuscript tradition and an authoritative Latin text, while commentaries on each letter offer copiously referenced insights on their structure, style, and meaning.
Pliny and the Eruption of Vesuvius offers a thorough companion to these letters, and to the eruption, which will be of interest not only to those working on Vesuvius, Pompeii, and Herculaneum, and the works of Pliny but also to general readers, Latin students, and scholars of the Roman world more broadly.
Table of Contents
Prologue: Lightning, Water, and Fire 1. Two Plinys 2. Two Letters 3. Two Days 4. Epistulae 6.16, The Elder’s Story 5. Epistulae 6.20, The Younger’s Story Epilogue
Pedar W. Foss is Professor of Classical Studies at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana (USA). He is co-editor, with John J. Dobbins, of The World of Pompeii (Routledge 2007) and is an archaeologist who works on the ancient Bay of Naples and landscape archaeology. He has done fieldwork in Greece, Turkey, Tunisia, and Italy, and received his Ph.D. in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan.
"I have profited much from reading this book. It is well-researched, and its main strength lies in providing a welcome synopsis of the various disciplines which deal with Pliny and the eruption of Vesuvius. The book will certainly become a standard work for those studying and teaching the Vesuvius letters and, hopefully, encourage more interdisciplinary projects on the Epistles in general." - Bryn Mawr Classical Review
"Si tratta di una magistrale interpretazione, o piuttosto messa a punto, delle vicende congiunte dei due Plinii, che comprende anche la nuova traduzione ed esegesi delle due fondamentali lettere del Giovane, a Tacito, ove narra delle vicende della morte del celebre zio, e dell’eruzione del Vesuvio...Pedar Foss ci ha mirabilmente ricordato come dalla Storia si dipanino infinite storie, tutte degne di attenzione, mai noiose, se scientificamente approcciate, ponendosi le giuste domande e possedendo i mezzi intellettuali per rispondere ad esse." - Paolo L. Bernardini, La Provincia
[It is a masterly interpretation, or rather, fine-tuning, of the joint events of the two Plinii, which also includes the new translation and exegesis of the two fundamental letters of the Younger, to Tacitus, where he narrates the events of the death of his famous uncle, and of the eruption of Vesuvius...Pedar Foss admirably reminded us how from history endless stories unfold, all worthy of attention, never boring, if scientifically approached, asking the right questions, and possessing the intellectual means to answer them.]