The Social Economy of Pliny's Correspondence with Trajan

Though the primary function of Pliny's correspondence with Trajan was the transaction of imperial business, these letters could also serve as vehicles for the self-representation and public image of both correspondents. What made these letters mutually beneficial to Pliny and Trajan is the impression that emerges from them, artfully constructed, of a personal friendship between senator and emperor. Because Pliny and Trajan both benefited from being seen to correspond with one another on intimate terms, their letters can be interpreted as symbolic exchanges in a system in which the demonstration of friendship could serve as an important bearer of social capital.