Inscription in honour of Pliny the Younger.

Marble. 111—114 CE.
CIL V. 5262 = ILS 2927.

Milan, Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio
(Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio)

C(aius) Plinius L(uci) f(ilius) Ouf(entina) Caecilius [Secundus co(n)s(ul)] / augur legat(us) pro pr(aetore) provinciae Pon[ti et Bithyniae pro]/consulari potesta[te] in eam provinciam e[x senatus consulto ab] / Imp(eratore) Caesar(e) Nerva Traiano Aug(usto) German[ico Dacico p(atre) p(atriae) missus] / curator alvei Tiberis et riparum et [cloacarum urbis] / praef(ectus) aerari Saturni praef(ectus) aerari mil[itaris pr(aetor) trib(unus) plebis] / quaestor imp(eratoris) sevir equitum [Romanor(um) turmae ---] / trib(unus) milit(um) leg(ionis) [III] Gallica[e in provincia Syria Xvir stli]/tib(us) iudicand(is) therm[as ---] adiectis in / ornatum HS CCC(trecentis milibus nummum) [--- et eo amp]lius in tutela[m] / HS CC(ducentis milibus nummum) t(estamento) f(ieri) i(ussit) [item in alimenta] libertor(um) suorum homin(um) C / HS CCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCMMMMMMMMMMMMCCCCCCXXXXXXVI (decies octies centena milia et sexaginta sex milia cum sescentis sexaginta sex nummum) rei [p(ublicae) legavit quorum inc]rement(a) postea ad epulum / [p]leb(is) urban(ae) voluit pertin[ere --- vivu?]s dedit in aliment(a) pueror(um) / et puellar(um) pleb(is) urban(ae) HS [D(quinquaginta milia) --- et] in tutelam bybliothe/cae HS C(centena milia)

There are a few fragmentary inscriptions referring to Pliny, the longest of which (C.I.L. V. 5262) is known only from a fifteenth-century copy and one fragment remaining in Milan. The whole had evidently stood over the baths at Comum, but was afterwards cut up to make a tomb and sent to Milan in the middle ages, where it was found in the church of St Ambrose.

Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, son of Lucius of the tribe Oufentina, consul: augur: praetorian commissioner with full consular power for the province of Pontus and Bithynia, sent to that province in accordance with the Senate’s decree by the Emperor Nerva Trajan Augustus, victor over Germany and Dacia, the Father of his Country: curator of the bed and banks of the Tiber and sewers of Rome: official of the Treasury of Saturn: official of the military Treasury: praetor: tribune of the people: quaestor of the Emperor: commissioner for the Roman knights: military tribune of the Third Gallic legion: magistrate on board of Ten: left by will public baths at a cost of… and an additional 300,000 sesterces for furnishing them, with interest on 200,000 for their upkeep… and also to his city capital of 1,866,666 23 sesterces to support a hundred of his freedmen, and subsequently to provide an annual dinner for the people of the city… Likewise in his lifetime he gave 500,000 sesterces for the maintenance of boys and girls of the city, and also 100,000 for the upkeep of the library…

The following fragment can still be seen, built into the wall of Como Cathedral (C. I. L. V. 5263).

To Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, son of Lucius of the tribe Oufentina, consul: augur: curator of the bed and banks of the Tiber and sewers of Rome…

B. Radice

p.5 His [Pliny’s] career is known in detail principally from an inscription at Comum, CIL V 5262 = ILS 2927, and from some other, even more fragmentary cursus-inscriptions (listed in PIR P 490), notably one from Hispellum, CIL VI 1552 = XI 527212. The main Comum inscription, parts of it, now lost, only known from manuscript readings, the one from Hispellum, and the other less complete ones (set up before the appointment to Pontus-Bithynia) gave his cursus honorum, in descending order, modified (as often in such inscriptions) by the consulship and priesthood (augurship in his case), being placed straight after the name, out of chronological order.

G. Alföldy has published a new and convincing restoration of CIL V 5262 and XI 5272, in particular affecting the part referring to the governorship of Pontus-Bithynia13. He shows that14 Pliny was legate of Trajan not “with consular power” but “with proconsular power”: not consulari but proconsulari potestate, and restores lines 2—4 of CIL V 5262, Comum, as:

augur legat pro pr provinciae Pon[ti et Bithyniae pro]
consulari potesta[te] in eam provinciam e[x senatus consulto ab]
Imp Caesar Nerva Traiano Aug German[ico Dacico p p missus]

In the equivalent part of CIL XI 5272, Hispellum, he reads the following (the last part of line 4 and lines 5—6 are here cited):


ex s c pro
[consulari potestate legatus pr pr provinciae Ponti] et Bithyniae et legatus
[in eam ab Imp Caes Nerva Traiano Aug missus (vacat) testame]nto fieri iussit

Pliny’s cursus as registered by CIL V 5262 may be set out here, with each office separated for clarity, taking account of the revision by Alföldy15:

(line 1)C Plinius L f Ouf Caecilias [Secundus cos.]/
(line 2)augur
legat pro pr provinciae Pon[ti et Bithyniae pro] /
(line 3) consulari potestate in eam provinciam e[x senatus consulto ab] / (line 4) imp Caesar Nerva Traiano Aug German[ico Dacico p p missus]/
(line 5)curator alvei Tiberis et riparum e[t cloacarum urbis /
(line 6)praef aerari Saturni praef aerari mil[itaris
trib plebis] /
(line 7)quaestor imp
sevir equitum [Romanor turmae…]/
(line 8)trib milit leg III Gallicae in pro[vincia Syria
X vir stli]/
(line 9) tib iudicand

The remainder of line 9 and lines 10—15 refer to Pliny’s testamentary bequests to Comum.

12They are (mostly) reproduced in the Teubner edition, pp. 456 ff., the Bude edition, I pp. XLIX ff., S-W 732 f. and Radice II 550 ff.

13“Die Inschriften des jüngeren Plinius und seine Mission in Pontus et Bithynia”, GCis 221—244.

14As originally proposed by E. Bormann, AEM 15 (1892) 42.

15See also his reconstruction drawings of the inscription and of that from Hispellum, GCis 243 and the photographs, Taf. VI 1—2.

A. Birley

AE 1984, 436.
Strobel K. Laufbahn und Vermächtnis des jüngeren Plinius // Huß W., Strobel K. Beiträge zur Geschichte. Bamberg 1983. S. 37—56.
AE 1963, 190.
AE 1947, 65.
Reggiori F. La basilica Ambrosiana, ricerche e restauri 1933—1940. Milano, 1941. P. 129, 135.
López Barja P. Epigrafía latina. Las inscripciones romanas desde los orígines al siglo III d. C. Santiago, 1993. P. 168—171, Nr. 42; Foto.
AE 1999, 747.
Alföldy G. Die Inschriften des Jüngeren Plinius und seine Mission in Pontus et Bithynia // AAntHung. Vol. 39. 1999. S. 21—44; Abb. 1; Abb. 3.
Calderini A. Note epigrafiche Mediolanensi // Epigraphica. Vol. 7. 1945. P. 109—113, Nr. 1.
© 2015. Photo: Ilya Shurygin.
Text and description of the inscription: Epigraphic Database Heidelberg.
Commentary: The Letters of the Younger Pliny / Transl. with an intr. by B. Radice. L. 2003.
Commentary: Birley A. Onomasticon to the Younger Pliny. Letters and Panegyricus. Leipzig, 2000. P. 5—6.

Keywords: Caius Plinius Luci filius Oufentina Caecilius Secundus consul augur legatus pro praetore provinciae Ponti et Bithyniae proconsulari potestate in eam provinciam ex senatus consulto ab Imperatore Caesare Nerva Traiano Augusto Germanico Dacico patre patriae missus curator alvei Tiberis et riparum et cloacarum urbis praefectus aerari Saturni praefectus aerari militaris praetor tribunus plebis quaestor imperatoris sevir equitum Romanorum turmae tribunus militum legionis III Gallicae in provincia Syria Xvir stlitibus iudicandis thermas adiectis in ornatum HS CCCtrecentis milibus nummum et eo amplius in tutelam HS CCducentis milibus nummum testamento fieri iussit item in alimenta libertorum suorum hominum C HS CCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCMMMMMMMMMMMMCCCCCCXXXXXXVI decies octies centena milia et sexaginta sex milia cum sescentis sexaginta sex nummum rei publicae legavit quorum incrementa postea ad epulum plebis urbanae voluit pertinere vivus dedit in alimenta puerorum et puellarum plebis urbanae HS Dquinquaginta milia et in tutelam bybliothecae HS Ccentena milia Gaius Pliny Younger legate propraetor proconsular consular power Pontus Bithynia Imperator Emperor Trajan curator of the bed and banks of the Tiber praefect Treasury of Saturn military Treasury praetor plebeian tribune of the people quaestor military tribune will baths dinner maintenance boys girls library bequest honorific honorary inscription basilica Sant’Ambrogio St Ambrose CIL 5262 ILS 2927