Pliny the Elder's World

Cover image of book: a ruined white stone monument with some remaining columns on a large rectangular base. The monument sits atop a hill with other hillsides and the ocean visible in the background. In a blue border at the top, the title appears in large white characters: "Pliny the Elder's World: Natural History, Books 2-6." In another blue border at the bottom, white text reads: "Translated by Brian Turner and Richard J.A. Talbert".

Pliny the Elder's World offers readers a translation of the Natural History's opening books unprecedented for its completeness, accuracy and accessibility. Here, in quirky, often breathless style, Pliny lays the foundation of a hugely influential encyclopedia with coverage of the universe, stars, planets and moon, followed by earth's climate and then its physical and human geography. From Rome as ruling centerpoint, Pliny surveys the known world and its countless peoples in a vast arc from the Atlantic to Sri Lanka, embracing the Danube, Euphrates and Nile lands, Atlas and Caucasus mountains, Germany, Africa, Arabia, India. Passages from later books further illustrating his geographical grasp are appended, on topics as varied as wine, water, trees, birds and fish. Throughout, Pliny's frank expression of strong opinions about religion, distorted human values, abuse of the environment (and more) reveals uncannily modern preoccupations. His work remained an inspirational resource through the Renaissance, and still fascinates today.

For more information about research on Pliny the Elder involving ISAW and its extramural collaborators, please visit our Pliny research page.

Brian Turner
Portland State University

Brian Turner is Associate Professor of History at Portland State University, Oregon. He is former director (2009-2011) of the Ancient World Mapping Center, and associate editor of the Pleiades gazetteer of ancient places. Alongside ancient geography and worldview, his research focuses on the culture of warfare in the ancient world. He is co-editor of Brill's Companion to Military Defeat in Ancient Mediterranean Society (2018).

Richard J. A. Talbert
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Richard J. A. Talbert is Research Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the editor of the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World (2000). His other books include Rome's World: The Peutinger Map Reconsidered (Cambridge 2010), Roman Portable Sundials: The Empire in Your Hand (2017), Challenges of Mapping the Classical World (2019), World and Hour in Roman Minds (forthcoming), and a translation Plutarch: On Sparta (revised 2005).