Pliny the Elder on Science and Technology

Hardcover | February 24, 2000

byJohn F. Healy

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The Elder Pliny's Natural History is essentially a work of reference providing a wide-ranging account of human mores and achievement in the arts and sciences in the first century AD. It influenced the content and character of subsequent technical literature, but errors in transmission of themanuscripts led to undeserved criticism from the time of Niccolo Leoniceno, the late fifteenth-century Italian humanist. Pliny's work is here re-examined for the first time since the 1920s. Modern experiments, simulating the techniques described by Pliny, and an in-depth study of his development of a technical language, confirm his unique contribution to our knowledge of science in early imperial Rome. Pliny doesnot, in general, understand the principles underlying the phenomena he observes but makes a significant input - especially in the fields of crystallography, chemistry, and physics as well as of the applied sciences - from which beginnings those scientific disciplines would evolve many centurieslater. Ironically, Pliny's scientific curiosity led to his death in AD 79 while observing the eruption of Vesuvius at close quarters.

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The Elder Pliny's Natural History is essentially a work of reference providing a wide-ranging account of human mores and achievement in the arts and sciences in the first century AD. It influenced the content and character of subsequent technical literature, but errors in transmission of themanuscripts led to undeserved criticism from...

John F. Healy is at University of London.

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Format:HardcoverPublished:February 24, 2000Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198146876

ISBN - 13:9780198146872

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`Pliny the Elder's Natural History is the ultimate sourcebook. Incorporating some 20,000 facts ... its 37 books cover almost every aspect of the ancient world, from geography, to agriculture, metallurgy, and the history of art. Not surprisingly, then, Pliny's name is ubiquitous in modernattemps to understand ancient Greece and Rome ... Healey's book is a welcome addition to a growing number of publications which have sought to rescue Pliny from the status of 'compiler', and to reveal Pliny's original contribution.' Sorcha Carey, BMCR 00.08.20.