Pliny the Elder: Themes and Contexts


Editors: and
Pliny's Naturalis Historia – a brilliant and sophisticated encyclopaedia of the scientific, artistic, philosophical, botanical and zoological riches of the ancient world – has had a long career in the footnotes of historical studies. This is a phenomenon born of the sense that the work was there to consult, or to ‘use’, as a resource to aid investigation of specific technical issues or passages, of Quellenforschung, or of delimited topic areas. The contributors to the present volume both represent and join a new generation of critics who have begun to try to ‘read’ this monumental text, and – by examining the dominant motifs which give shape and order to the work – to construct frameworks within which we may understand and interpret Pliny’s overarching agenda.

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Roy K Gibson, Ph.D. (1993) in Classics, University of Cambridge, is Professor of Latin at the University of Manchester. He has published extensively on Augustan poetry, and is co-editor with Ruth Morello of Re-imagining Pliny the Younger (Arethusa 36.2, 2003), and co-author also with Ruth Morello of Reading the Letters of Pliny the Younger: an Introduction (Cambridge, 2011).

Ruth Morello, Ph.D. (1994) in Classics, Cornell, is Lecturer in Classics at the University of Manchester. She has published extensively on historiographical texts of the early imperial period and - in addition to co-editing with Roy Gibson Re-imagining Pliny the Younger (Arethusa 36.2, 2003), and co-authoring also with Roy Gibson Reading the Letters of Pliny the Younger: an Introduction (Cambridge, 2011) - has co-edited with Andrew Morrison Ancient Letters (Oxford, 2007).

Contributors: Rhiannon Ash, Mary Beagon, Cynthia Damon, Aude Doody, Andrew Fear, Roy Gibson, Eugenia Lao, Ruth Morello, Valérie Naas, Ernesto Paparazzo, Clemence Schultze, Michael Reeve.
1. Pliny the Elder’s Attitude to Warfare
Rhiannon Ash
2. The Roman’s Burden
Andrew Fear
3. Luxury and the Creation of a Good Consumer
Eugenia Lao
4. Imperialism, Mirabilia, and Knowledge: Some Paradoxes in the Naturalis Historia
Valérie Naas
5. The Curious Eye of the Elder Pliny
Mary Beagon
6. Philosophy and Science in the Elder Pliny’s Naturalis Historia
Ernesto Paparazzo
7. The Science and Aesthetics of Names in the Naturalis Historia
Aude Doody
8. Pliny on Apion
Cynthia Damon
9. Pliny and the Encyclopaedic Addressee
Ruth Morello
10. Encylcopaedic Exemplarity in Pliny the Elder
Clemence Schultze
11. Elder and Better: the Naturalis Historia and the Letters of the Younger Pliny
Roy Gibson
12. The Vita Plinii
Michael Reeve
All those interested in early imperial history and literature, the history of science, the development of the encyclopaedia, Roman imperialism, the reception of the Elder Pliny, as well as classical philologists.
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