Natural History

Natural History

A Selection

Written by: Secundius Gaisus Pliny Elder
Introduction by: John F. Healey
Translated by: John F. Healey

  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780140444131
  • 448 Pages
  • Penguin Classics
  • Adult


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.

Table of Contents

Further Reading
Translator’s Note
Natural HistoryPreface
The Universe and the World
Book II. Astronomy
Book III. Spain and Italy
Book IV. Europe and Britain
Book V. The Continents of Africa and Asia
Book VI. The Black Sea, India, and the Far East
Book VII. Man
Book VIII. Land Animals
Book IX. Creatures of the Sea
Book X. Birds
Book XI. Insects
Books XII-XIII. Trees
Book XIV. Vines and Viticulture
Book XV. The Olive and Other Fruit-Trees
Book XVI. Forest Trees
Book XVIII. Agriculture
Materia Medica
Book XX. Drugs Obtained from Garden Plants
Books XI-XXII. Flowers and Herbs
Book XXIII. The Vine and the Walnut
Book XXIV. Drugs Obtained from Foreign Trees
Book XXV. The Nature of Wild Plants
Book XXVI. Diseases and Their Remedies
Book XXVII. More Plants Used in Medicine
Book XXVIII. Drugs Obtained from Man; Magic and Superstition
Book XXIX. Medicine, Doctors and Medical Practice
Book XXX. Magic
Book XXXI. Water
Book XXXII. Fish and Aquatic Creatures
Mining and Minerals
Book XXXIII. Gold and Silver
Book XXXIV. Copper and Bronze Sculpture, Tin, Lead and Iron
Book XXXV. Painting, Sculpture and Architecture
Book XXXVI. Stones, Minerals and Monuments
Book XXXVII. Precious Stones
Key to Place-Names