Greece and Rome (Second Series)

Research Article

Pliny and the Panegyricus

Betty Radice

The younger Pliny was consul suffectus from September to October, A.d. 100, and delivered in the Senate his official gratiarum actio to the Emperor Trajan for his appointment. This practice went back to the days of Augustus, according to Ovid (Ep. ex Ponto iv. 4. 35), though nothing is known of the senatorial decree which made it obligatory. Nor do we know if both consuls made speeches, or whether Pliny was following normal practice when he spoke on behalf of his colleague, Cornutus Tertullus. In Ep. ii. 1. 5 he tells us that Verginius Rufus was rehearsing a similar speech (to be addressed to Nerva) at the time of his fatal accident, and elsewhere (iii. 13) he writes of the boredom of having to listen to speeches of this kind, brief though they could be, and the distasteful duty of addressing words of insincere flattery to an emperor (Domitian) under whom freedom of speech was impossible. The custom of the official vote of thanks continued; M. Cornelius Pronto was suffect consul in July-August 143, and delivered his speech to Antoninus Pius on 13 August (Pronto, Ep. ii. 1).