Historical, Geographical and Literary Aspects of Book 37 of Pliny the Elder’s Historia Naturalis, and Changing Attitudes to his Work in the 21st Century

Crawford, Llynneth Wipkje (2013). Historical, Geographical and Literary Aspects of Book 37 of Pliny the Elder’s Historia Naturalis, and Changing Attitudes to his Work in the 21st Century MPhil Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Crawford, Llynneth Wipkje
Thesis Title Historical, Geographical and Literary Aspects of Book 37 of Pliny the Elder’s Historia Naturalis, and Changing Attitudes to his Work in the 21st Century
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2013
Thesis type MPhil Thesis
Supervisor Tom Stevenson
Janette McWilliam
Total pages 176
Total colour pages 2
Total black and white pages 174
Language eng
Subjects 210306 Classical Greek and Roman History
Formatted abstract
This thesis reviews the contents of the last book of Pliny the Elder’s Historia Naturalis, Book 37, in the context of the whole work and of changing scholarly attitudes to Pliny’s work over the centuries since its completion c. AD 77. The mainly adverse criticism of 19th Century authors is examined and compared to more recent assessments. In Book 37 Pliny described the precious and semi-precious stones known to him in the first century of the Roman Empire. The information provided in this book is examined to ascertain its accuracy in various fields. The structure of Book 37 is analysed and the complexity of Pliny’s planned arrangement and discussion of the named gemstones is revealed, as well as the importance of this book to Pliny’s conception of the Historia Naturalis as a work of reference. Also examined are the geographical sources, either epigraphical or in other forms, from which Pliny obtained background information on the provenance of the gemstones described in Book 37. The opinions of past and current reviewers of Pliny’s geographical knowledge, and the use he made of his sources in this field, are assessed. Pliny’s knowledge of mining is considered as background to his treatment of gemstones. His descriptions of what he considered the most important gemstones, and ancillary information about them, are assessed, together with his attitudes towards them. Where possible, the accuracy of his account is compared with evidence obtained from modern scientific studies of the identification and provenance of certain stones. The conclusion of this thesis will demonstrate the value of Book 37, its importance to the structure of the Historia Naturalis as a whole, its value as an ancient source, and the reasons for considering a more favourable opinion of his work.
Keyword Pliny the Elder
Historia Naturalis
Rome
Flavian Dynasty

 
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Created: Mon, 20 Jan 2014, 10:54:31 EST by Llynneth Crawford on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service