In the latter number will be my uncle, by virtue of his own and of your compositions. Pliny is referring to the fact that Tacitus relied on his uncles now missing work on the History of the German Wars. The wind caused by the sixth and largest pyroclastic surge of the eruption would not allow his ship to leave the shore, and Pliny probably died during this event. Plinys dates are pinned to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79 and a statement of his nephew that he died in his 56th year, Pliny was the son of an equestrian, Gaius Plinius Celer, and his wife, Marcella. Neither the younger nor the elder Pliny mention the names and their ultimate source is a fragmentary inscription found in a field in Verona and recorded by the 16th century Augustinian monk Onofrio Panvinio at Verona. The reading of the inscription depends on the reconstruction, but in all cases the names come through, whether he was an augur and whether she was named Grania Marcella are less certain. Jean Hardouin presents a statement from a source that he claims was ancient, that Pliny was from Verona. Hardouin also cites the conterraneity of Catullus, additional efforts to connect Celer and Marcella with other gentes are highly speculative. Hardouin is the scholar to use his unknown source. He kept statues of his ancestors there, a statue of Pliny on the facade of the Duomo of Como celebrates him as a native son. He had a sister, Plinia, who married into the Caecilii and was the mother of his nephew, Pliny the Younger, whose letters describe his work and study regimen in detail. In one of his letters to Tacitus, Pliny the Younger details how his uncles breakfasts would be light and simple following the customs of our forefathers. This shows that Pliny the Younger wanted it to be conveyed that Pliny the Elder was a good Roman and this statement would have pleased Tacitus. Two inscriptions identifying the hometown of Pliny the Younger as Como take precedence over the Verona theory, one commemorates the youngers career as imperial magistrate and details his considerable charitable and municipal expenses on behalf of the people of Como. Another identifies his father Lucius village as Fecchio near Como and it is likely therefore that Plinia was a local girl and Pliny the Elder, her brother, was from Como. Gaius was a member of the Plinii gens and he did not take his fathers cognomen, Celer, but assumed his own, Secundus. As his adopted son took the same cognomen, Pliny founded a branch, no earlier instances of the Plinii are known. In 59 BC, only about 82 years before Plinys birth, Julius Caesar founded Novum Comum as a colonia to secure the region against the Alpine tribes, whom he had been unable to defeat
Pliny the Elder, as imagined by a 19th-century artist. No contemporary depiction of Pliny is known to survive.
Map of Castra Vetera, a large permanent base (castra stativa) of Germania Inferior, where Pliny spent the last of his 10-year enlistment as a cavalry commander. The proximity of a naval base there means that he trained also in ships, as the Romans customarily trained all soldiers in all arms whenever possible. The location is on the lower Rhine river.