Pliny, Roman encyclopaedist

Pliny, Roman encyclopaedist

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Credit: SCIENCE, INDUSTRY & BUSINESS LIBRARY/NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Pliny (23-79), Roman naturalist & encyclopaedist. Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus) has one surviving work, Historia Naturalis, a 37-volume encyclopaedia summarising the knowledge of the time. Based on two thousand books by nearly five hundred authors, it covered zoology, botany, geography and astronomy. Although the volumes accepted ideas and descriptions uncritically, its main message was that everything was centred around humans. It was influential and widely copied during the Middle Ages. Pliny was killed by poisonous fumes in 79 as he observed the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii.

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