Present day appreciation for Pliny’s letters highlights the triadic inter-relationship of epistolary writing, self-representation and memory often seen in the permeability of epistolary boundaries between other literary genres that create lasting fame: oratory, history, lyric, even epigram. This paper examines two pairs of letters that confront memory in epigraphical form in ways that construct the letter writer as both reader and collaborator in ingesting inscribed information and reprocessing its significance in discursive writing. The letters amplify the elliptical communication of inscriptions by responding to commemorations that are provocative in opposite ways: in Letters 6.10 and 9.19 the funerary epigraph for Verginius Rufus because it has not been permanently incised; in Letters 7.29 and 8.6 the bronze sepulchral inscription honoring Claudius’ freedman secretary Pallas, because it has been posted on the Via Tiburtina, arouses Pliny’s indignation.


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pp. 125-144
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2021
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