Natural History (Pliny)

Natural HistoryNaturalis HistoriaHistoria NaturalisPliny's Natural HistoryPlinyThe Natural HistoryPliny's ''Natural HistoryNaturalis HistoriaeN.H.Nat. Hist.
The Natural History (Naturalis Historia) is a book about the whole of the natural world in Latin by Pliny the Elder, a Roman author and naval commander who died in 79 AD.wikipedia
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Pliny the Elder

The Natural History (Naturalis Historia) is a book about the whole of the natural world in Latin by Pliny the Elder, a Roman author and naval commander who died in 79 AD.
Pliny wrote the encyclopedic Naturalis Historia (Natural History), which became an editorial model for encyclopedias.


These cover topics including astronomy, mathematics, geography, ethnography, anthropology, human physiology, zoology, botany, agriculture, horticulture, pharmacology, mining, mineralogy, sculpture, painting, and precious stones.
Books on the subject included the Naturalis Historia of Pliny the Elder, which not only described many different minerals but also explained many of their properties, and Kitab al Jawahir (Book of Precious Stones) by Persian scientist Al-Biruni.

Natural history

naturalistnaturalistsnatural historian
The work's subject area is thus not limited to what is today understood by natural history; Pliny himself defines his scope as "the natural world, or life".
In antiquity, "natural history" covered essentially anything connected with nature, or which used materials drawn from nature, such as Pliny the Elder's encyclopedia of this title, published circa 77 to 79 AD, which covers astronomy, geography, humans and their technology, medicine, and superstition, as well as animals and plants.

Lost work

lost lostlost works
Pliny's Natural History was written alongside other substantial works (which have since been lost).
For example, the Naturalis Historia of Pliny the Elder or the De Architectura of Vitruvius.


It is encyclopedic in scope, but its structure is not like that of a modern encyclopedia.
Because of this compounded word, fifteenth century readers and since have often, and incorrectly, thought that the Roman authors Quintillian and Pliny described an ancient genre.

Monopod (creature)

These monstrous races – the Cynocephali or Dog-Heads, the Sciapodae, whose single foot could act as a sunshade, the mouthless Astomi, who lived on scents – were not strictly new.
They are described by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History, where he reports travelers' stories from encounters or sightings of Monopods in India.

Pliny the Younger

PlinyPliniusyounger Pliny
"As full of variety as nature itself", stated Pliny's nephew, Pliny the Younger, and this verdict largely explains the appeal of the Natural History since Pliny's death in the Eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79.
He was the grandson of Senator and landowner Gaius Caecilius, revered his uncle, Pliny the Elder (who at this time was extremely famous around the Roman Empire), and provided sketches of how his uncle worked on the Naturalis Historia.


The Natural History (Naturalis Historia) is a book about the whole of the natural world in Latin by Pliny the Elder, a Roman author and naval commander who died in 79 AD.
For example, the Linnaean system of plant and animal classification was heavily influenced by Historia Naturalis, an encyclopedia of people, places, plants, animals, and things published by Pliny the Elder.

Floating cities and islands in fiction

floating islandfloating cityfloating islands
The work was probably published with little revision by the author's nephew Pliny the Younger, who, when telling the story of a tame dolphin and describing the floating islands of the Vadimonian Lake thirty years later, has apparently forgotten that both are to be found in his uncle's work.
They reappear in Pliny the Elder's Natural History of the 1st century AD.


Burmese amberamber fossilresinite
Pliny correctly identifies the origin of amber as the fossilised resin of pine trees.
330 BC), whose work "On the Ocean" is lost, but was referenced by Pliny the Elder (23 to 79 AD), according to whose The Natural History (in what is also the earliest known mention of the name Germania):


HipparchosHipparchus of NicaeaHipparchus of Nicea
He mentions eclipses, but considers Hipparchus's almanac grandiose for seeming to know how Nature works.
Most of what is known about Hipparchus comes from Strabo's Geography and Pliny's Natural History in the 1st century; Ptolemy's 2nd-century Almagest; and additional references to him in the 4th century by Pappus and Theon of Alexandria in their commentaries on the Almagest.

Roman Empire

It is one of the largest single works to have survived from the Roman Empire to the modern day and purports to cover all ancient knowledge.
The Natural History of the elder Pliny, who died during disaster relief efforts in the wake of the eruption of Vesuvius, is a vast collection on flora and fauna, gems and minerals, climate, medicine, freaks of nature, works of art, and antiquarian lore.

Philemon Holland

Philemon Holland's English translation of 1601 has influenced literature ever since.
In 1601 Holland published, in two folios, "an equally huge translation" from Latin, Pliny the Elder's The Historie of the World, dedicated to Sir Robert Cecil, then the Queen's Principal Secretary.

Johann and Wendelin of Speyer

Vindelinus de SpiraJohann von SpeyerJohannes de Spira
The work was one of the first classical manuscripts to be printed, at Venice in 1469 by Johann and Wendelin of Speyer, but J.F. Healy described the translation as "distinctly imperfect".
Before Johann died, four great works had been issued: two editions of Cicero; the editio princeps of Pliny the Elder's Naturalis Historia (1469); and the second printed edition of Livy's Ab Urbe condita libri (1470).


Emperor ClaudiusClaudianClaudius Caesar
Pliny's work frequently reflects Rome's imperial expansion which brought new and exciting things to the capital: exotic eastern spices, strange animals to be put on display or herded into the arena, even the alleged phoenix sent to the emperor Claudius in AD 47 – although, as Pliny admits, this was generally acknowledged to be a fake.
Claudius is the source for numerous passages of Pliny's Natural History.


Emperor TitusTitus Flavius Vespasianusthe Emperor
The work is dedicated to the emperor Titus, a son of Pliny's close friend, the emperor Vespasian, in the first year of Titus's reign.
Pliny the Elder, who later died during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, dedicated his Naturalis Historia to Titus.

Robert of Cricklade

In 1141 Robert of Cricklade wrote the Defloratio Historiae Naturalis Plinii Secundi consisting of nine books of selections taken from an ancient manuscript.
The Anthology of Pliny's Natural History is an epitome of Pliny the Elder's Natural History dedicated to King Henry II of England.


Venerable BedeSaint BedeThe Venerable Bede
Early in the 8th century, Bede, who admired Pliny's work, had access to a partial manuscript which he used in his "De Rerum Natura", especially the sections on meteorology and gems.
However, it is clear he was familiar with the works of Virgil and with Pliny the Elder's Natural History, and his monastery also owned copies of the works of Dionysius Exiguus.


tidalhigh tidelow tide
However, Bede updated and corrected Pliny on the tides.
The Naturalis Historia of Pliny the Elder collates many tidal observations, e.g., the spring tides are a few days after (or before) new and full moon and are highest around the equinoxes, though Pliny noted many relationships now regarded as fanciful.


HerodotosHerodotus of HalicarnassusHerod.
They had been mentioned in the 5th century BC by the Greek historian Herodotus (whose history was a broad mixture of myths, legends and facts) but Pliny made them better known.
Later authors such as Pliny the Elder mentioned this story in the gold mining section of his Naturalis Historia.

List of ancient watermills

Roman watermillList of Roman watermillsancient counterpart
He also describes how grain is ground using a pestle, a hand-mill, or a mill driven by water wheels, as found in Roman water mills across the Empire.


Emperor VespasianTitus Flavius VespasianusVespasianus
The work is dedicated to the emperor Titus, a son of Pliny's close friend, the emperor Vespasian, in the first year of Titus's reign.
Pliny the Elder's work, the Natural History, was written during Vespasian's reign, and dedicated to Vespasian's son Titus.

De Agri Cultura

De AgriculturaOn Agriculturebook on farming
He praises Cato the Elder and his work De Agri Cultura, which he uses as a primary source.
He is much quoted by Pliny the Elder, for example, in his Naturalis Historia.


The manufacture of papyrus and the various grades of papyrus available to Romans are described.
Pliny the Elder describes the methods of preparing papyrus in his Naturalis Historia.

Reverse overshot water-wheel

Pliny is probably referring to the reverse overshot water-wheels operated by treadmill and found in Roman mines.
Pliny the Elder is probably referring to such devices in a discussion of silver/lead mines in his Naturalis Historia.