Pliny the younger’s letter 5.9 has gained the attention of the scholars, because of the anusual expression “qui legibus quaerit”, by which it refers to a roman praetor, Licinnius Nepos. Some historians think that this expression shows one of the already existing praetors, who presided over the wole system of the criminal “quaestiones” at the age of Trajan; others mantain that it alludes to a newly created province, that the large amount of criminal trials necessitated. Both of the interpretations hypostatyze Pliny’s words beiond the due. To comprehend their actual sense, a better understanding of the rhetoric aims and the stilistic nuances of the letter is needed. The essay argues that the lemma “legibus” has two intertweened significances: i it means that the praetor, whom the letter deals with, has both chaired a criminal quaestio legitima and scrupolously exercised this office by applying some pieces of law, which even his colleagues had neglected.
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