BMCR 2015.05.41 Zeiner-Carmichael on Whitton, Pliny the Younger: Epistles, Book II

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2015.05.41

Christopher Whitton, Pliny the Younger: Epistles, Book II. Cambridge Greek and Latin classics. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Pp. xiii, 328. ISBN 9780521187275. $34.99 (pb).

Reviewed by Noelle Zeiner-Carmichael, College of Charleston, SC (carmichaeln​ AT ​
cofc.edu)

Christopher Whitton’s commentary on Pliny’s Epistles 2 reinforces the growing scholarly tendency to read the Epistles in sequence and to appreciate individual books as distinct literary units (e.g., Whitton 2010; Gibson and Morello 2012). Whitton’s volume rejects previous anthologizing approaches, instead focusing on the twenty letters of Epistles 2, the shortest book of the collection. As stated in the Preface, the volume aims to “help readers construe Pliny’s Latin, to situate his work in a historical (and scholarly) context and to offer a literary interpretation” (p. vii). Whitton’s chief contribution lies in the third goal, whereby attention to Pliny’s structural engineering provides readers an opportunity to appreciate fully the artistry of Book 2and, as well, the entire corpus of Epistles. The return of individual letters to their books and to the whole collection, Whitton notes, “is not only to pay due respect to the integrity of an aesthetically arranged work of art,​ ​
it is essential to an appreciation of it” (pp. 12-13). Whitton’s volume admirably achieves this objective, offering a welcome resource for students and scholars alike, both of whom will benefit from the author’s philological expertise and interpretative insight.​ […]

​καὶ τὰ λοιπά:
BMCR 2015.05.41 (http://www.bmcreview.org/2015/05/20150541.html) on the BMCR blog

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