Natural History

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Natural History
by Pliny the Elder, translated by Philemon Holland
Translated into English by Philemon Holland


  • Book 1: Table of contents, index, and bibliography
  • Book 2: Astronomy and meteorology
  • Book 3: Geography of the Western Mediterranean
  • Book 4: Geography of the Eastern Mediterranean, the Black Sea, continental and northern Europe.
  • Book 5: Geography of Africa, the Middle East and Turkey
  • Book 6: Geography of Asia; summary overview and wrap-up of world geography
  • Book 7: Anthropology and human physiology
  • Book 8: Land animals: elephants, lions, tigers, panthers; cows, horses, asses, mules, sheep, goats; mice, dormice and a few others
  • Book 9: Marine animals: whales, dolphins, fish, shellfish, etc
  • Book 10: Birds; animal reproduction; the five senses
  • Book 11: Insects, then comparative zoology, fumblings toward a taxonomy
  • Book 12: Exotic plants, spices and perfumes: from India, Egypt, Mesopotamia etc
  • Book 13: More plants, including aquatic plants
  • Book 14: Plants: the vine and wine
  • Book 15: Plants: the olive tree; oil and its uses; fruit and nut trees
  • Book 16: More trees, mostly evergreens
  • Book 17: Fruit trees and vines and the art of planting them
  • Book 18: How to run a farm
  • Book 19: Garden plants, including a long section on flax
  • Book 20: More garden plants: mostly vegetables.
  • Book 21: Flowers.
  • Book 22: Miscellaneous plants, including dye plants.
  • Book 23: Medicinal properties of wine, vinegar, oil, nuts, fruit.
  • Book 24: Medicinal properties of trees and herbs.
  • Book 25: Medicinal properties of herbs.
  • Book 26: Major medicinal herbs. The book opens with a section on new diseases.
  • Book 27: Minor medicinal herbs, in roughly alphabetical order.
  • Book 28: Medicinal uses of the human body's own products (and discussion of charms); of animal products.
  • Book 29: Medicinal uses of animal products, continued; but the book starts with a long stiff diatribe against doctors.
  • Book 30: Medicinal uses of animal products, continued; this time the book starts with a preamble about magic arts.
  • Book 31: Medicinal uses of marine products: salt, plants, sponges, etc.
  • Book 32: Medicinal uses of marine animals.
  • Book 33: Metals: mostly gold, silver and mercury.
  • Book 34: Metals: bronze and lead; but mostly a discussion of statues, in fact.
  • Book 35: Uses of earth; but starting with pigments, is mostly a discussion of painters, although the end of the Book goes back to sulphur.
  • Book 36: Stone. One of the better books. The first half is about sculpture; then a bit of fascinating architecture (obelisks, the Pyramids, the Cretan labyrinth), finally various building materials (plaster, sand, stone), then glass. Ends with a paean to fire and an utterly peculiar story in the very last paragraph.
  • Book 37: Stones: rock crystal, amber, gemstones; semi-precious stones. At the very end of the Book, Pliny gives his list of "best of categories"; the best of countries is Italy