Pliny’s Natural History

8 Jul, 2010 500 Science

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss Pliny’s Natural History.Some time in the first century AD, the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder published his Naturalis Historia, or Natural History, an enormous reference work which attempted to bring together knowledge on every subject under the sun. The Natural History contains information on zoology, astronomy, geography, minerals and mining and - unusually for a work of this period - a detailed treatise on the history of classical art. It’s a fascinating snapshot of the state of human knowledge almost two millennia ago.Pliny’s 37-volume magnum opus is one of the most extensive works of classical scholarship to survive in its entirety, and was being consulted by scholars as late as the Renaissance. It had a significant influence on intellectual history, and has provided the template for every subsequent encyclopaedia.

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  • Serafina Cuomo 6 episodes
    Reader in Roman History at Birkbeck, University of London
  • Aude Doody No other episodes
    Lecturer in Classics at University College, Dublin
  • Liba Taub 3 episodes
    Reader in the History and Philosophy of Science, Cambridge University

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. Sometime in the middle of the first century AD, a retired Roman lawyer and soldier called Gaius Plinius Secundus, known to us today as Pliny the Elder, started work on an ambitious work of scholarship, nothing quite like it had been attempted before.