Pliny’s Rome: Vesuvius, vice and vestal virgins
Pliny the Younger's letters are a gold mine of detail on life in imperial Rome. Daisy Dunn reveals what this lawyer, senator and orator's writings can tell us about everything from religious dissent to tyrannical emperors
Pliny on… the law courts
The silver-tongued lawyer who talked his way to the top
Pliny the Younger’s career took off shortly after the tragedy of Vesuvius. Within months of his brush with death, he was in Rome, embarking upon a legal career in the ‘centumviral court of 100 men’. This was a system arranged over four tribunals, where the 100 (or, more often, 180) men would gather in a basilica in the Roman Forum to deliberate over civil cases. Pliny spoke before them for the prosecution or defence, and settled disputes over wills.