Translating Pliny’s Letters about Vesuvius – the book is finished

My blog posts about the Vesuvius eruption are out of date, but I will leave them as-is for archival purposes. I have completed my book, Pliny and the Eruption 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).
  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. In addition, this chapter treats the date of the eruption, both in the manuscript tradition, and in the archaeological evidence. It shows, 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.
  4. Epistulae 6.16, The Elder’s Story: Text, textual variants, new translation, and detailed commentary.
  5. Epistulae 6.20, The Younger’s Story: Text, textual variants, new translation, and detailed commentary.

Routledge will also host the data files behind the arguments in their Online Resources. Those will include:

  1. A side-by-side continuous Latin and English translation of Epp. 6.16, 6.20, including the collation markers (PDF).
  2. Ep. 6.16 Inventory of Sources and Collation (Excel spreadsheet).
  3. Ep. 6.20 Inventory of Sources and Collation (Excel spreadsheet).
  4. Epp. 6.16 and 6.20 Collation “Fingerprints” — the key readings that decipher the manuscript tradition (Excel spreadsheet).
  5. Select Collation of Epp. 1.8, 12, 23-24 — key readings to understand the manuscript tradition for Epp. 1.1-5.6 and the F source (PDF).
  6. Select Collation of Book 8 Letters — key readings to understand the manuscript tradition for the theta branch of the manuscript tradition (PDF).
  7. Collation Encoding Key (how manuscript abbreviations in items 2-6 are encoded in the collation spreadsheets) (PDF).
  8. Continuous Color Diagram for the Manuscript Tradition (PDF).
  9. Continuous Halftone Diagram of the Eruption Sequence (PDF).
  10. Geographic Information System (GIS) of the pre-eruption Bay of Naples in AD 79 (ArcGIS folder).

Please cite my work appropriately. Thank you.

One thought on “Translating Pliny’s Letters about Vesuvius – the book is finished

  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.
    Sincerely,
    Katie Robinson

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