Confidence, Inuidia, and Pliny's Epistolary Curriculum
This chapter examines in detail Pliny's ‘inclusive’ persona, and particularly the ways in which his correspondence fosters a community of addressees and develops a didactic project in literary friendship and literary criticism. The letter presents another lesson in how to operate in literary society, taught by a man who seems unsure of himself in literary production, but confident that he does at least know how the social sides of literary activity should function. Pliny's own iudicium is insufficient: he needs to see, hear, and act on the responses of his friends, and the recitation is part of the process of literary production. When friends fail in their duty to encourage and to provide frank substantive criticism, disapproval can degenerate into inuidia, the resentment (potentially resulting in malicious action) of another's success or material benefit, or the generalized ill-feeling incurred by inappropriate behaviour. It is a prominent motif in Cicero's letters, and is observed in Pliny's ‘episto-literary’ project.
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