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‚Patrem mira similitudine exscripserat’

Plinius’ Nachruf auf eine perfekte Tochter (epist. 5,16)

Claudia Klodt


Pages 23 - 61



Pliny’s epist. 5.16 on the deceased Minicia is different from his other obituaries and closer to the consolatory letters in the Ciceronian corpus, because it contains, in subtle form, criticism of her father Fundanus, who grieves excessively over her loss (thereby violating the aristocratic code of behaviour). In comparison with the young girl, who copes with illness and death through ‘masculine’ fortitude and a philosophical mind, the man, in spite of his age, sex and erudition, appears inferior. The letter’s structure is that of an epicedion. Minicia is portrayed as a perfect daughter in accordance with the ideal emerging from e. g. consolatory letters and sepulchral epitaphs: without name, without a true character of her own, devoted to her (male) kin and in particular to her father, whose perfect “copy” she was (which again stresses the moral difference between both). Contrary to laudatory convention, Pliny does not praise Minicia’s looks, even in connection with her imminent wedding. In all of his letters, he only talks about male beauty.

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