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Encyclopaedic Exemplarity In Pliny The Elder

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Chapter Summary

Enquire Within Upon Everything: not the Elder Pliny's motto, but the tempting title of a Victorian best-seller. Here, home hints jostle with legal advice; fascinating facts are side by side with handy directions. Information and anecdote, precept and practical instruction cluster in a mass: organisation is not wholly lacking, but the work's charm lies largely in its odd juxtapositions. Digression, antithesis and swift transitions from one classificatory mode to another characterize Pliny's organizational practice. But as well as this illogical logic of his, familiar modes of argument and illustration are given a new twist. This chapter aims to investigate how Pliny employs one particular literary device, the historical exemplum, to direct and to tease his reader. Pliny's exemplarity will prove to have a playful aspect as well as a serious one.

Keywords:Chresimus; lucubratio; Pliny



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