C. Plinii Secundi Naturalis Historiæ

From Wythepedia: The George Wythe Encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

by Pliny the Elder

Naturalis Historiae
George Wythe bookplate.jpg
Title not held by The Wolf Law Library
at the College of William & Mary.
Author Pliny the Elder
Published :
Edition Precise edition unknown
Volumes volume set
Desc. Folio

Gaius Plinius Secundus (23-79 AD), known as Pliny the Elder, was an author, scholar, and statesman of ancient Rome. His most notable work is his 37 volume Natural History.[1] Up until Pliny’s time, science had been an area of Greek expertise, but Pliny “Romanized” it.[2] Pliny was very thorough in his coverage of natural phenomena and approached it from a very stoic point of view. He believed nature was fundamentally good because God created it.[3]

Naturalis Historiæ is broken into two main sections of eighteen volumes each. The first section describes nature itself, while the second discusses nature’s relation to man.[4] Pliny the Elder's vast knowledge is attributed to his habit of continuous study by his nephew, Pliny the Younger, in one of his letters. Pliny the younger claimed that his uncle was so diligent that when “In the country his whole time was devoted to study, excepting only when he bathed.”[5] Pliny the Elder died in pursuit of scientific knowledge when he decided to investigate the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius (a trip that soon turned to an evacuation of the towns in danger.)[6] Pliny probably succumbed to an asthma attack which was brought on by sulfurous fumes.[7]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as "Plinii Historia Naturalis fol." and given by Thomas Jefferson to his son-in-law, Thomas Mann Randolph. Later appeared on Randolph's 1832 estate inventory as "Pliny's natural History (Latin) 1 [vol.], $2.50, and ditto ditto 1 [vol.], $2.50." George Wythe's Library on LibraryThing[8] indicates "Precise edition unknown. The Brown Bibliography[9] lists the 1723 Paris edition of Caii Plinii Secundi Historiae Naturalis Libri XXXVII edited by Jean Hardouin and notes "none of the editions [Jefferson owned] fit the description in folio as described in Wythe's inventory."

As yet, the Wolf Law Library has been unable to find a folio edition of Pliny's Naturalis Historiae.

See also


  1. Jona Lendering, "Pliny the Elder," Livius: Articles on Ancient History (August 2012), accessed October 11, 2013.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Marcus Tullius Cicero and Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, Letters and Treatises of Cicero and Pliny, The Harvard Classics 9 (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1909), 233.
  6. Ibid., 284-288.
  7. Lendering, "Pliny the Elder."
  8. LibraryThing, s.v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on August 8, 2023.
  9. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at: https://digitalarchive.wm.edu/handle/10288/13433.