In Letter 5.8 Pliny shows that in the post-Domitianic era historia has become an impossible genre, both as a vehicle for conventional moral wisdom and because of the authoritative narrative voice it necessitates. The letter's literary strategies of deferral express these problems even as its content appears to argue positively the merits of historia and compare it with those of oratio. Pliny emphasizes the insufficiency of the narrative “I”, suggesting instead the importance of dialogue as the means both toward the ethical reconstruction of post-tyrannical discourse and the literary fame for which Pliny also hopes.

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