Translating Pliny’s Letters about Vesuvius – update

The blog posts about the Vesuvius eruption are on hold while I complete my book, Pliny and the Destruction of Vesuvius (Routledge, 2022). The book is about Letters 6.16 and 6.20, and has these chapters:

  1. Two Plinys: Short biographies of the Elder and Younger Pliny, setting the context for the Vesuvian letters;
  2. Two Letters: A reconstruction of the transmission history of Epp. 6.16 and 6.20 within the context of the whole manuscript tradition of the Epistulae. This is based on the collation of every known extant manuscript and early printed edition of the text of those letters (which has never been done before). It will show, among other things, how ‘November’ crept into the manuscript tradition as an error, how that error was propagated, and why the textual tradition cannot be used as a basis for arguing that the eruption happened in October or November, despite the repeated citation of problematic 17th-/18th-c. scholarship and recent press favoring a non-August date.
  3. Two Days: a reconstruction, based on the latest volcanological studies and a new complete GIS model of the AD-79 topography of the Bay of Naples, of the eruption sequence, its effects upon the landscape and people of the Bay of Naples, and how those new studies enlighten the accounts in Pliny’s Epistulae, including the likely location of the Pliny’s villa from which the eruption was first spotted.
  4. Epistulae 6.16, The Elder’s Story: Text, new translation, and commentary;
  5. Epistulae 6.20, The Younger’s Story: Text, new translation, and commentary.

An inventory of the manuscripts and printed editions, spreadsheets of the collations of Epp. 6.16 and 6.20, and a document highlighting the collation markers, ‘fingerprints’ of diagnostic readings that identify families and sub-families of the manuscript tradition, and a high-resolution diagram of the stemma (family tree) for Pliny’s Epistulae will all be posted on this blog for consideration and study, at: (or click on the menu item above). This is an ongoing project, so I will make corrections and additions. Please cite my work appropriately.

Thank you kindly for your patience.

One thought on “Translating Pliny’s Letters about Vesuvius – update

  1. I look forward to your book! I will also alert colleagues in SF area to your presentation! Thank you for your work in this area of interest. Perhaps you would consider a video conferenced presentation to our California Classical Association -Southern Section meeting? We sometimes mix live and video presentations and have a Spring and Fall meeting on a Saturday. There are also AIA chapters in SoCal area.
    Katie Robinson

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