Natural History : A Selection, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Pliny's "Natural History" is an astonishingly ambitious work that ranges from astronomy to art and from geography to zoology.

Mingling acute observation with often wild speculation, it offers a fascinating view of the world as it was understood in the first century AD, whether describing the danger of diving for sponges, the first water-clock, or the use of asses' milk to remove wrinkles.

Pliny himself died while investigating the volcanic eruption that destroyed Pompeii in AD 79, and the natural curiosity that brought about his death is also very much evident in the "Natural History" - a book that proved highly influential right up until the Renaissance and that his nephew, Pliny the younger, described 'as full of variety as nature itself'.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Literary essays
  • ISBN: 9780140444131



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Pliny was a "scientist" of his day. Although recording natural phenomena - he tied watching the destruction of Pompeii from a ship in its harbor - he also recorded the weird beliefs of the day, such as the weasel being the most destructive of all creatures, so horrific even alligators fear it. (They have a penchant for rushing down the throat when the gator is yawning and eating its way out!) Novel information and an entertaining book.