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People - Ancient Rome : Pliny

Plinius in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities Gaius Plinius Secundus, called the Elder. A Roman representative of encyclopaedic learning, born A.D. 23, at Novum Comum (Como), in Upper Italy. Although throughout his life he was almost uninterruptedly occupied in the service of the State, yet at the same time he carried on the most widely extended scientific studies to which he laboriously devoted all his leisure hours, and thus gained for himself the reputation of the most learned man of his age. Under Claudius he served as commander of a troop of cavalry (praefectus alae) in Germany; under Vespasian, with whom he was in the highest favour, he held several times the office of imperial governor in the provinces, and superintended the imperial finances in Italy. Finally, under Titus, he was in command of the fleet stationed at Misenum, when in A.D. 79, at the celebrated eruption of Vesuvius, his zeal for research led him to his death. For a detailed account of this event, as well as of his literary labours, we have to thank his nephew, the Younger Pliny (Epist. iii. 5; vi. 16). Besides writings upon military, grammatical, rhetorical, and biographical subjects, he composed two greater historical works-a history of the Germanic wars in twenty books, and a history of his own time in thirty-one books. His last work was the Natural History (Historia Naturalis), in thirtyseven books, which has been preserved to us. This was dedicated to Titus, and was published in A.D. 77; but he was indefatigably engaged in amplifying it up to the time of his death. This encyclopaedia is compiled from 20,000 notices, which he had extracted from about 2000 writings by 474 authors. Book i. gives a list of contents and the names of the authors used; ii. is on astronomy and physics; iii.-vi., a general sketch of geography and ethnography, mainly a list of names; vii.-xix., natural history proper (vii., anthropology; viii.-xi., zoölogy of land and water animals, birds, and insects; xii.-xix., botany); xx.-xxxii., the pharmacology of the vegetable kingdom (xx.-xxvii.) and of the animal kingdom (xxviii.-xxxii.); xxxiii.xxxvii., mineralogy and the use of minerals in medicine and in painting, sculpture, and the engraving of gems, besides valuable notices upon the history of art. A kind of comparative geography forms the conclusion. Considering the extent and varied character of the undertaking, the haste with which the work was done, the defective technical knowledge and small critical ability of the author, it cannot be surprising that it includes a large number of mistakes and misunderstandings, and that its contents are of very unequal value, details that are strange and wonderful, rather than really important, having often unduly attracted the writer's attention. Nevertheless, the work is a mine of inestimable value in the information it gives us respecting the science and art of the ancient world; and it is also a splendid monument of human industry. Even the unevenness of the style is explained by the mosaic- like character of the work. At one time it is dry and bald in expression; at another, rhetorically coloured and impassioned, especially in the carefully elaborated introductions to the several books. On account of its bulk, the work was in early times epitomized for more convenient use. An epitome of the geographical part of Pliny 's encyclopaedia, belonging to the time of Hadrian, and enlarged by additions from Pomponius Mela and other authors, forms the foundation of the works of Solinus and Martianus Capella. Similarly the Medicina Plinii is an epitome prepared in the fourth century for the use of travellers. About two hundred manuscripts of Pliny are in existence, divided into two general classes-the vetustiores, all more or less incomplete, but truer to the original, and the recentiores, which are less fragmentary, but also less accurate. Of the former the best is the Codex Bambergensis of the tenth century, containing only bks. xxxii.-xxxvii. The recentiores are all of the same "family," going back to a single archetype now lost. See Fels, De Codicibus Plinianis (Göttingen, 1861). Editions are those with notes by Barbari (Rome, 1492); by J. F. Gronovius, 3 vols. (Leyden, 1669); by Hardouin (Paris, 1685); by Franz, 10 vols. (Leipzig, 1778-91); by Sillig, with critical notes and indices, 8 vols. (Gotha, 1853-55); by Jan, 6 vols. (Leipzig, 1854-65); 2d ed. by Mayhoff (1870 foll.); and by Detlefsen, 6 vols. (Berlin, 1866-73). There is a Chrestomathia Pliniana by Urlichs (Berlin, 1857); a good French translation by Grandsagne with notes by various scholars, 20 vols. (Paris, 1829-33); and a fair English one with good index in the Bohn Library (London, 1856). On the language and style of Pliny , see Wannowski, Pliniana (Posen, 1847); Grasberger, De Usu Pliniano (Würzburg, 1860); J. Müller, Der Stil des älten Plinius (Innsbruck, 1883); and Thüssing (Prague, 1890).

Pliny in Roman Biography Plln'y [Fr. Punk, plen ; It. Plinio, plee'ne-o] THE Elder, (or, more fully, Ca'ius Plin'ius Secun'dus,) a celebrated Roman naturalist, was born at Verona, or, according to some authorities, Novum Comum, (the modern Como,) in 23 a.d. He served in the army in Germany, under Lucius Pomponius, and returned to Rome about the age of thirty. He studied law, and practised as a pleader for a few years. He was afterwards procurator in Spain in the reign of Nero, and became a friend and favoured officer of Vespasian. We possess but little other information of his public life, except that at the time of his death he had command of a fleet stationed at Misenum. In August, 79 a.d., occurred a great eruption of Vesuvius. Observing the immense cloud of smoke which arose in the form of a tree from the volcano, he embarked at Misenum on a vessel and approached nearer to the scene of danger. He calmly noted the variations of the portentous phenomenon, amidst the shower of cinders and pumicestones which fell around his vessel, and landed at Stabia. In the ensuing night he attempted to return to the vessel, but he perished on land, suffocated by ashes or sulphurous exhalations. This was probably the eruption which destroyed the cities of Pompeii and Herc'tilanetim. He left historical and grammatical works, which are lost. The only work of Pliny that has come down to us is his " Natural History," (" Naturae Historiarmn Libri XXXVII.,") which is thus characterized by Cuvier, (in the " Biographie Universelle :") " It is at the same time Be of the most precious monuments that antiquity has left 4 * o«e 01 ityfojj us, and the evidence of an erudition very wonderful in ~-i.% v% *arrfer and statesman. In order to appreciate justly r* ;;trii^va$A'£nd celebrated is necessary to ejr# 1 p-t; ,t oag attention to the plan, the facts, and the style. ./, ,^'?r|jjTOpla*v5s\ . . . He includes astronomy, #>6|*-al yV geography, agriculture, commerce medicine, and the arts, as well as natural history properly so called. . . . Pliny was not an observer like Aristotle; still less was he a man of genius, capable, like that great philosopher, of tracing the laws and relations in accordance with which the works of nature are formed and arranged, (co-ordonnee.) In general, he is only a compiler. ... A comparison of his extracts with the originals which are extant, especially with Aristotle, convinces us that Pliny did not prefer to take from the authors he consulted that which was most important or most exact. In general, he prefers the singular and marvellous. ... If Pliny has for us little merit as a naturalist and critic, it is far otherwise in respect to his talent as a writer, and the vast treasury of Latin terms and locutions which have made his work one of the richest depositories of the language of the Romans." He was a decided pantheist, and had no faith in the future existence of the human soul. His style is vigorous, condensed, pointed, and abounds in antithesis. Among the best editions of Pliny is that published bv Sillig, Hamburg. " His profound erudition," says Buffon, "is enhanced by elevation of ideas and nobleness of style. He not only knew all that could be known in his time, but he had that large faculty of thinking which multiplies science, he had that delicacy (finesse) of reflection on which depend elegance and taste, and he imparts to his reader a certain freedom of spirit and boldness of thought, which is the germ of philosophy." See Salmasius, " Exercitationes Plinianze," 1629; A. Jos. a Turrs Rezzonico, " Disquisitiones Plinianae," 2 vols., 1763-07; Paul Ebhr, " Dissertatio de Vita C. Plinii," 1556; A. U A. Fee, " Eloge de Pline le Naturaliste," 1S21 ; Baiir, " Gesclliclite der Rdtnischen Literatur:" "Nouvelle Biographie GeWrale."

Pliny the Elder in Wikipedia Gaius Plinius Secundus (23 AD – August 25, 79), better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian. Spending most of his spare time studying, writing or investigating natural and geographic phenomena in the field, he wrote an encyclopedic work, Naturalis Historia, which became a model for all such works written subsequently. Pliny the Younger, his nephew, wrote of him in a letter to the historian Tacitus: For my part I deem those blessed to whom, by favour of the gods, it has been granted either to do what is worth writing of, or to write what is worth reading; above measure blessed those on whom both gifts have been conferred. In the latter number will be my uncle, by virtue of his own and of your compositions.[1] Pliny is referring to the fact that Tacitus relied on his uncle's now missing work on the History of the German Wars. Pliny the Elder died on August 25, 79 AD, while attempting the rescue by ship of a friend and his family from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that had just destroyed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The prevailing wind would not allow his ship to leave the shore. His companions attributed his collapse and death to toxic fumes, but they were unaffected by the fumes, suggesting natural causes...