Out of the past: Pliny's Panegyricus and Roman historiography

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This article draws attention to the intertextual connections between the Panegyricus and key programmatic passages from the Roman historians, especially the preface to Livy's Ab urbe condita. Its first section analyzes how Pliny's allusions to these historio-graphic predecessors contribute to his characterization of Trajan's principate. In section two, I argue that Pliny's evocation of the historiographic tradition complicates his audience's understanding of the genre of the speech itself through the interference it creates with the norms of panegyric. The ways in which Pliny's gratiarum actio transcends the limitations of historiography confirm the exceptional nature of both the occasion reproduced in his speech and of its subject, while the continuities with the historical tradition differentiate his representation of Trajan from the panegyrics of earlier emperors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-411
Number of pages32
JournalMAIA-Rivista di Letterature Classiche
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Classics
  • Literature and Literary Theory


  • Divin-ization
  • Exemplarity
  • Historiography
  • Intertextuality
  • Libertas
  • Panegyric
  • Pliny


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