Natural History: A Selection (Paperback)

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By Pliny the Elder, John F. Healey (Translated by), John F. Healey (Introduction by), John F. Healey (Notes by)
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Staff Reviews

Written nearly 2000 years ago, this stunning book is a fascinating and illuminating dive into the world of the Romans as they understood it. Pliny worked tirelessly on it, and thankfully it has survived all these years. Though this is just a selection from the much longer manuscript, it contains some of the most interesting and bizarre passages on both the natural and metaphysical world. It’s hard sometimes to imagine that the people of antiquity were as complex and insightful us, but this book provides a unique insight into one of the great minds and historians of the Roman world and offers a window into the astonishing knowledge and myth which comprised the ancient wisdom and learning.

— From Nick's Picks


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’.

John F. Healy has made a fascinating and varied selection from the Natural History for this clear, modern translation. In his introduction, he discusses the book and its sources topic by topic. This edition also includes a full index and notes.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780140444131
ISBN-10: 0140444130
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Publication Date: December 3rd, 1991
Pages: 448
Language: English
Series: Penguin Classics