Talk:Pliny the Elder

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I've tried to find where "True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read" comes from. Most of the net points back to wikipedia. Any clues?


A translation of the Latin phrases would be nice for those that do not read Latin....

nec dubitamus multa esse quae et nos praeterierint; homines enim sumus et occupati officiis
Nor do we doubt that there are many things that have escaped us also; for we are but human and beset with duties
I think we should include the full quote, which has a certain charm for wikipedians (since this is the man who wrote the "first encyclopedia"):
nec dubitamus multa esse quae et nos praeterierint; homines enim sumus et occupati officiis, subsicivisque temporibus ista curamus, id est nocturnis (Praef. 18)
Nor do we doubt that there are many things that have escaped us also; for we are but human and beset with duties, and we pursue this sort of interest in our spare moments, that is at night
plenum ingenni pudoris fateri per quos profeceris
a pleasant thing and one that shows an honourable modesty, to own up to those who were the means of one's achievements
These translations were taken from Loeb and they are a bit awkward. If someone would like to clean them up and/or add them to the article, please do. Jebba 01:39, 24 July 2005 (UTC)

Gallia Belgica is not Belgium.
Belgium is 1830s ! an artificially made country/region by Queen Victoria when the Southern Netherlands were taken away from Willem of Orange. The name 'Belgium' is taken from/finds the origin in the Latin Gallia Belgica. It is misleading/erroneous to associate Gallia Belgica (Belgium)as you put it. PhaiakianLandIsScandinavia (talk) 06:23, 21 June 2010 (UTC)


Pliny the Elder was not a scientist, the concept of experimentation did not occur until the 17th century with Roger Bacon and Robert Boyle. A scientist maybe described as a person who goes about testing hypothesis by weighing evidence and/or results of experiments, thus increasing our knowledge about the world. Most importantly, science is the continuous exploration for the truth. It is said that the ancients delayed the enlightenment because they were given too much respect, their knowledge was static (See Richard Feynman on the meaning of science). Pliny the Elder was a naturalist, what he said in Naturalis Historia was brilliant general knowledge.

Resarcher then? He appears to have been very curious about what was going on at the Vesuvio eruption MX44 21:08, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
As much as I admire Pliny (I'm the guy who put him online in Latin, and my Dog is named after him), no, not even. Pliny's principal involvement was that he was base commander of the local naval base, and was mostly interested in rescuing people, partly because it was his responsibility, partly because he knew a lot of them — he was a local landowner, these were his neighbors — and only secondarily was he curious about the workings of the eruption, etc. He might be characterized as a cultured man particularly curious about everything; but researcher not at all — absolutely no indication anywhere in his own NH nor in anything anyone said about him that he ever did more than compile the material researched or studied by others — and even less of scientist, which, with the exception of a very few top-flight Greeks (Aristotle, Theophrastus, Ptolemy, a couple of others) was not an ancient "thing". Bill 21:43, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
Hi Bill. I would disagree with you a bit if you will allow it. Bottom line: your definition of scientist is perhaps too narrow. Everything you say about science being based on experimentation is true. But then there is a second tradition, which, for lack of a better term, I would call "descriptive science." The grand founder in modern times is Linnaeus. What actually exists in nature? You can't bring it into the laboratory because THEN it is not in nature any more. Here, "experimentation" is limited to various kinds of observation. The first known scientist of this sort is Aristotle. Pliny is definitely in that tradition. Then we have Linnaeus, the big three. Nor are these NOT considered scientists today. Darwin was a scientist. What experiments did he perform? Then you've got Louis leakey and all the anthropological field workers. I know where you are coming from. I just think it is too narrow a base! At some point I will be looking at this article in that regard. Right now though I only want to address the format as requested. PS I hope you do not interpret anything I say as disrespect. I think everyone admires you for your Internet contributions, your zeal and your great heart. I put in footnotes to your site all over the place.Dave 13:01, 14 January 2007 (UTC)
Just saw this today. Dave, I yam hardly a sacred cow; and if I got offended by disagreement, I'd be even less of one, so to speak! My objection to calling Pliny a scientist lies about 25% in his not having experimented, but 75% in his never, as far as I can tell, having done more than compile the work of others. He did a tremendous job — but as an encyclopedist, not an original thinker. Not even as a systematizer. A compiler. (I hope the ghost of Pliny doesn't interpret any of this as disrespect, I think we all admire him for his encyclopedic contributions and his zeal; less sure about his great heart, and indeed, my own.) Bill (talk) 21:34, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
Bonjour Bill. Good Lord, over a year. By now this article is starting to stray into chaos so I thought I would give it a going over. Maybe the complainants about the Latin are right; we can't have articles with only Latin sources. Pliny is up in English now but the references are such that, if you just give a section, the reader has to search one to several pages to find the possibly relevant sentence and then figure out why that sentence is relevant. As for rest - well - I appreciate the fact that you would not like to be a sacred cow. Sorry. Some people seem to be so prolific on the Internet that it is impressive. It is hard to see where they find the time. For myself I find some censure from some persons around me that I should waste my time on "Wikipenia". Well, I don't agree with that. We don't want to see the public fed an encyclopedia of disinformation. We can watch TV for that. It is a pleasure to find another steadfast Plinian but I am sure there are lots of us. I don't want lionize anyone either if I can help it. Pliny is not perfect, no. A lot of the material in his encyclopedia (as it is in ours) is just plain old wives tales. He does seem to have made some observations in the field, which is analogous to field work. I suppose one could argue this over to some great length. Maybe it is better just to get the essentials in there. By the way, I was working on Corsica for a while and I noted that you went there. There are so many worthy projects and places I fear I have spread myself too thin and never get back to where I was. So here I am over a year later. But, I have a fixed list now. At some point I will be back to your favorite place, Corsica. This is my retirement. Adios, amigo.Dave (talk) 09:54, 23 May 2009 (UTC)

His Master[edit]

"He was often quoted by Pliny the Elder who called him "my Master". "

I can't find where he used that exact wording, but yes, there are many citations of Juba's work in the Natural History, so it's believable. —Charles P. (Mirv) 18:12, 24 Dec 2004 (UTC)
If it is not so believable, you can say: according to Prof. G.B.Vai he called Juba II "my Master", but according to me it's inbelievable. It is also good.
Never said any such thing, that any modern person could know. It is not found in the sole surviving work of his, the Natural History; nor is he reported to have said it by any other ancient writer. Bill 21:46, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

Absinthe link removed[edit]

I just removed a link to "A Latin transcription and a new English translation of the chapters from the Naturalis Historia dealing with absinthe, and its therapeutic qualities with photographs of the 1481 Parma edition" because that (beautiful and informative) page is not about Pliny but about absinthe and a late medieval manuscript. There are very, very many pages on the Web that discuss some aspect of what Pliny said; if we put all of them as links here, we'd turn into a link directory (which is one of the things Wickedpedia is not). I checked that Oxygenee site was linked under absinthe: it is. Bill 17:19, 7 August 2005 (UTC)

Pliny the Elder[edit]

I am surprised that there is no mention of the modern "Pliny the Elder" beer manufactured by Russian River Brewing Co. Due to the fact that the beer is named after him, and award winning, it should at least be briefly mentioned.

Sign your posts with 4 tilde's please. Ideally someone should do an article on the beer. Then we create a disambig page referencing the different articles. Then we put a hatnote at the top of this article referencing the disambig page. What we do NOT do is put an out-of-context reference to the beer in this article. No advertising please. Do it right or don't do it. I suggest you get more experience first or else get used to getting nasty messages.Dave (talk) 22:07, 25 August 2010 (UTC)


Pliny mentions Juba 65 times; frequently as king, but not once as his, or anyone else's master. In fact — this is what bothered me enough to go searching — nowhere does Pliny call anyone his master. Bill 11:37, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

After adding this note, I discovered that someone else had already been struck by the statement earlier. Sure enough, it appears on Mr. Rossi's page, referenced above: it remains wrong. Bill 11:43, 6 April 2006 (UTC)


Quote from article:

His style betrays the unhealthy influence of Seneca.

Is this NPOV? Pliny, at least, would disagree. Seneca too, I guess. Andrew Dalby 09:15, 3 July 2006 (UTC)

Yes, Wikipedia will probably bomb this (true) statement out along with all the other "POV" stuff. It's a perfect example of how Wikipedia flattens everything out, and in so doing, loses the perspective and intelligence that makes some other encyclopedias great. It is, of course, not because Seneca would disagree with it that something is false, and a frequent judgment on Seneca is that his style and indeed psychological workings were in fact quite unhealthy (as a cursory look at his essay on mirrors in the Quaestiones Naturales will show for example). Bill 13:27, 4 July 2006 (UTC)
Oh, sure. I hold no brief for Seneca. And I wasn't 100% serious. But "unhealthy" really wants thinking about. I find Pliny's style irritating, in just the same way that I found this quoted sentence irritating, because Pliny's sentences, like this one, tend to steer the reader to a facile moral judgment. Perspective, yes: intelligence, hmm! Andrew Dalby 14:23, 4 July 2006 (UTC)

Outside links[edit]

Most of the outside links link to a Latin page. For an English wikipedia, I think it should link to a translation. Correct me if I'm wrong. Tcpekin 21:32, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

Formatting task[edit]

I finished setting this up in footnote format, added a few subheadings for access and readability, and made the quotations of one format. However I'm leaving the template on for the time because there is the question of the translations brought up under "outside links." That probably is a bit more work and would require double links, one for the Latin, one for the English. Next contributor, step up.Dave 15:35, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

Patent inaccuracy needs correction[edit]

In section 1.5, it says "The materials collected for this purpose filled rather less than 160 volumes in 23, when Larcius Licinus, the praetorian legate of Hispania Tarraconensis, vainly offered to purchase them for a sum equivalent to more than £3,200 (1911 estimated value) or £200,000 (2002 estimated value)." Since Pliny was born in the year 23, it seems unlikely he had finished nearly 160 volumes by the end of that year. Can someone find the actual date? Also, the amount of money offered in talents or sesterces might be more relevant than in 1911 or 2002 British Pounds. DavidSTaylor 17:02, 5 May 2007 (UTC)

Clean-up box[edit]

This article by Bill Thayer acquired the box when the format still needed considerable work. I did the work, mainly converting the notes from parenthetical to note format. Also I broke it up into subsections. I was going to take out the box but I noticed a comment that the notes ought to link to an English translation. I agreed with and agree with that. Great. But where was one to be found? I've looked high and low for it. There isn't any! Bill points out that Perseus has one now. Unfortunately for our purposes there might as well not be a Perseus. Their servers are never working and when they are no one has the time to waste sitting there waiting for the search to be conducted. You'd think they were searching all the literature in all the databases ever put online on the planet, and maybe distant planets too. They keep telling us they are going to fix it but they never do. I see Bill is putting up an old and archaically spelled translation at the U. Chicago site. Eventually the English will be able to be accessed from that site. Meanwhile I am tired of looking at this old box on an article that was cleaned up long ago when there is no immediate help for it. It does not now rate the box so I am commenting it out. Whenever the English does fully appear we can reference it then.Dave 11:01, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

QI Pop Culture Reference[edit]

Would it be noteworthy that in the UK tv show QI Alan Davis is said to think of Pliny the Elder as one of his favourite figures history and that he has been mentioned alot in the programs questions.

Nickname ?[edit]

Sorry to ask, but why is Plinius called Pliny in English ? A sort of a nickname ? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:39, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

Not a nickname, just his English name. Lots of famous ancient Greeks and Romans are known by slightly different names in English: Aristotle, Plato (actually his Latin name although he was Greek), Ovid, Livy, Terence, etc. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 21:14, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

Thank you for this quick answer - so it is not a diminutive ?

Nope. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 08:03, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
It's just the customary English name of the man. Like Rome for Italian Roma, Moscow for Moskvá, Athens for Athinai, Cairo for al Qahira. Bill (talk) 09:46, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

Deletion of "See also" section, 30 Jan 08[edit]

There were four items in it; three of them were already discussed in the article and linked, and were thus pointless. The fourth item I deleted on different grounds: it was an article on winemaking, that gives details about Pliny and winemaking: Pliny wrote about so many things — are we going to link to hundreds of articles because of that? Fish, glass, melons, arthropods, mummies, comets, transvestites, money, Libya...) "See also" sections are almost always a sign of a poorly organized article; this is a classic example. Bill (talk) 20:52, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

That's fine if you have stylistic concerns about a see also section. However Pliny is a prominent figure in the world of wine and this article currently doesn't mention it at all. AgneCheese/Wine 20:57, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
Well, not exactly. From the wine end, because Pliny devotes a chunk of the NH to wine, and because Pliny is old, he is important — and, quite properly, deserves his little section in your article on wine. But from the Pliny end, wine is not terribly important to him or to the NH, and need hardly be mentioned. Again, he wrote about many, many things. It would be a different matter if we were talking about javelins, or cavalry, or encyclopaedias, since these things help define Pliny himself: he was a cavalryman, an expert on the javelin with a separate book on the subject, and of course the first encyclopedist. So though Pliny is of some importance to wine, the converse is not true.
Still, there's more than one way to skin a cat; I've edited the article in a way to sneak your cherished link in; while I wuz at it, pitching some pointless pruriencies on pessaries.

Bill (talk) 21:05, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Pliny on Hydraulic Mining[edit]

I have added a new section on "recent research" which actually dates back to the 1960's, and has been fully confirmed by others. It concerns the descriptions Pliny gives of gold mining in Book XXXIII, almost certainly an eye-witness report of alluvial mining in northern Spain, where he was procurator in 74 AD. He describes many long aqueducts (100 miles long he says) feeding the mine head where the water was used to wear away the deposits and allow the material to be washed for the gold. Most of his testimony has been confirmed on the ground in Spain (at Las Medulas and also at Dolaucothi in Wales, a site unique in Britain but which shows the Roman hydraulic methods at their best. Much research remains to be done however, especially in Transylvania, the subject of another gold-rush under Trajan later in the first century. The only thing that has hindered our deeper understanding of Pliny is the reluctance of many historians to visit the places he mentions and actually see what Pliny was writing about directly. Peterlewis (talk) 21:44, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

POV section[edit]

I have removed the speculative comments on Pliny and his untimely death during the Vesuvian eruption. I prefer the evidence of his nephew as being an accurate contemporaneous account. Speculation 2000 years after the event have to be very firmly based to have an credibility. Peterlewis (talk) 09:50, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

On his Admiralty[edit]

I'm just curious if anyone knows how interchangable the Romans were about generalship and admiralty? I thought it was interesting that he was an officer/soldier in the provinces, but was retired to fleet command later in life. Also, I was wondering if there's ever been speculation on whether he was trying to save as many people as he could, not merely his friends who lived near the mountain? Would the Roman military be used in a sort of civil service role like that for the plebs? Would he have risked sending multiple galleys if his aim was just to rescue some friends and observe the volcano? I guess I'm just trying to gauge the humanitarianism of an intelligent Roman, you know? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:04, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

I think this one has now been answered by the article and its sources. As a supplement you might (or might not) find cursus honorum and castra useful. Today of course weapons are so complex as to require specialization but then the Roman army could still have the ideal that every soldier should be skilled in every weapon. Every top general commanded his own fleet if he had to move the army by ship. Caesar and Marc Antony were equally skilled in fighting it out on land or sea. River commands were adjuncts to land bases. As for the events on the day of the eruption, Pliny the Younger's letter is a good one to read. Pliny sent the whole fleet to the rescue of the entire shore and he went personally to the rescue of the friend who had requested it. His interest in the volcano was apparently only passing; rescue operations took priority. As for the function of the fleet or the military in general, it was created to assist the commanding general (praetor) execute the will of the SPQR. It might legitimately be asked to do anything whatever. In fact the military spent most of its time in contruction of roads, viaducts and public buildings. I would say, you are trying to judge the Roman norms by our norms. That is why the entire academic establishment exists (in theory), to make sure we don't do that. Go on with your interests. Skepticism is good. It leads into the question of how we know the past and how valid is our knowledge. Best of luck; do go on with it.Dave (talk) 09:03, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Ambiguity under the literature section[edit]

I don't know what this is supposed to mean:

In literature he assigns the highest place next to Homer, Cicero and Virgil.

Does it mean: Among the classical writers of Rome and Greece he is considered one of the most important, next to ...... .

If so, then by who?

Can someone either clarify it or remove it?

08:16, 19 October 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Orlando098 (talkcontribs)


The introductory comments on Pliny's ancestry are rather too vague and improbable. Pomponius was one of the oldest and most common Latin (and Roman) gentilica, while Titus was a forename used both by Pomponii (T. Pomponius Atticus) and numerous other clans from every walk of life and status. There is no such thing as "Titi Pomponii" as some particular family. Pomponius Atticus was "adopted" by his avunculus Q. Caecilius and changed his name to Q. Caecilius Atticus Pomponianus, but had no male line posterity. Furthermore Celer (rapid, quick) is a very apt surname for any family of equestrian status that actually did military service. The original horsemen of the Roman army were called the celeres. Celer as a cognomen is not some regular name of the clan Caecilia but securely attested as the agnomen of one branch of the high noble Caecilii Metelli for two generations but no more (the homonymous Q.Metelli Celeres father and son: tribune 90 BC and consul 60, the latter dying without a son).
Given Pliny's attested interest in Catullus of Verona, serious thought (and this brief introductory space) should be given to more plausible and solid suggestions about his ancestry, such as the advanced neoteric poet Caecilius of Novum Comum who is the subject of Catullus' poem 35, together with his incomplete epyllion on the Magna Mater and his gifted poetess girlfriend, the Sapphica puella / musa doctior, who may well be Lesbia herself before she ended up with Catullus.Appietas (talk) 01:23, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

Hello Mr. Appietas. In all this sprawling discussion I can probably address your suggestions easiest if you might still be interested (which you may not be). At the top of the page it says: "This is not a forum for general discussion about the article's subject." We try not to insert our own opinions (not always possible) but to present the ideas of the sources. In academic terms, this is not an original paper, only a paper. So, all we are doing is recapitulating known ideas and sources. Your opinions are impressive and learned but until you cite some sources, only your opinions. Everyone is encouraged to work on the article. The idea is, you have to do better than what was there. Best wishes.Dave (talk) 21:50, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

Vera gloria[edit]

Sad to say (I enjoy my myths as much as anyone) the supposed vera gloria quotation as presented is just a myth. Pliny the elder said no such thing as far as I can find out. The expression is parroted for some 200 years or more but none of the instances give a proper citation. All they say is "Pliny" or "an ancient author". The expression is like something said by Pliny the Younger in a letter concerning his uncle. So if you don't mind, in the spirit of Wikipedia, which insists on citations, I am going to put what Pliny the Younger said in there. It is a fine saying indeed but there is no evidence the elder ever said it. If you find any we can put the citation back and I will be as happy as anyone about it, since, as I say, I enjoy our myths as well.Dave (talk) 04:08, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

Off-topic tag[edit]

This article is about Pliny the Elder. For methods and history of gold-mining, see under gold-mining. For Roman methods presented in Historia Naturalis, see under Historia Naturalis. Any comments? What are we going to do with this extraneous section, which lengthens the article, taking up all Pliny's living space?Dave (talk) 03:55, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

It seems to me this section goes in the Historia Naturalis so I am moving it over there. We can blend it in subsequently. The bibliography goes over there also. It is repeated there now but I improved the format so that will take the place of the unformatted entries. I looked at the articles on the mines but they seem to be about modern mines rather than Pliny. By the way this is not any sort of modern research about Pliny so that needs to go - similarly someone's unsubstantiated views about the carnelian are not research either. I will look into that as a possible image of Pliny. Right now it is unsubstantiated editor opinion.Dave (talk) 10:18, 23 May 2009 (UTC)

Marcella daughter of Titus?[edit]

This sentence is very unclear to me; I had to rewrite it to make it comprehensible in English, guessing at what it probably meant. I think that was a bad idea now. A daughter of the Titii is Titia, not Marcella and the rest of it is a mystery as well. There was a source given, but the source is a Portuguese work and is not reviewable on Google; moreover, the editor had the book information wrong, so I'm only guessing it is the same book. I believe I'm trying too hard to be pleasing. That information is nowhere else on the Internet. It seems to fall into the category of trying to guess who Marcella might be. So, I'm commenting that out and putting in the sure material that I can find on Celer and Marcells, which isn't much but allows us to keep the names. If anyone can explain this "Marcella of the Titii" business by all means do so, but I must ask that you write correct English so that I do not have to mend your broken meanings. Hand gestures are definitely out. Thanks.Dave (talk) 11:15, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

Moved anon comment from article[edit]

I know I’m putting this in the wrong place, but I don’t know how to edit things in wikipedia.

There’s a problem with this page (beside the fact that I just added this at the beginning), the problem is with the layout, there are two pictures that are in the same place as the contents making it difficult to both see the pictures and read the contents). Can someone who knows how to fix these things please fix this? Thanks.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

I don't see that problem. Can you specify which images, which section of the article, and the browser and operating system you're using please. Mindmatrix 01:23, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
I don't see it either. I might add, in the history of the article, people seem to prefer pictures at that location and to prefer the painting of Como, even though a photograph showing the same thing is available. The editing of a discussion page works rhe same way as for an article page: click the discussion tab, click edit, go to work. Typically but not always one goes to the bottom of the page, creates a heading by enclosing a title in ==, covers the topic and then signs it by typing four consecutive tilde's. Then if no one has anything to say, you might try altering the article - but - someone might then disagree. Best wishes. PS - maybe you have a wide favorites insert up on the left compressing the screen beyond normal. You can adjust that or put it down.Dave (talk) 08:03, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

between the eleventh and twelfth hour[edit]

The current text says "the general Corbulo informs us, that it was seen in Armenia, between the eleventh and twelfth hour" The latin version I have says: "inter horam diei decimam et undecimam". Anyone who knows for what reason this has been translated as "between the eleventh and twelfth hour"? --Larsake (talk) 10:11, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

Good question, Larsake. We almost never cite translations. I don't know why. I would suppose it is because so many of us do our own translating. If we were to start citing all the translations, most of the translated stuff would have to come out, because translations are somewhat harder to find. That would complicate matters immensely. The only time I ever questioned any translations was for an original decipherment of some Mediterranean unknown scripts. Some fellow claimed he could translate them. But where would you start citing translations? One word? Two? Ten? And then there is the little matter of copyright. Whoever copyrights a translation? How can you do that? I suppose you might in the case of original poetic translations. I can't say that I have ever seen an attempt to copryright the Iliad in English. Some are distinctive, however, such as Chapman's Homer. Anyway, I think I remember that I put that translation in there. I used, however, the Loeb edition, I do beleive. I did not even know there was a discrepancy, if there is. You say there is. Translators however usually make pretty free. If the author's meaning was 11th and 12th our time the translator might have felt free to change it. Loeb's are usually pretty well annotated and they do take MSS variants into consideration. It seems as though you need to find a textual apparatus on that section, the eclipse and the timing of the eclipse. What time is the 10th and 11th hour of the Roman day? When did their day start? I forget all that info and I could review it, but why don't you? Check into every aspect of it and if you find a reason to change the translation, do so! Join us.Dave (talk) 03:37, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
PS. I inadvertently rediscovered the answer while working on Vesuvius, but you are certainly welcome to do the research. Maybe you'll find something interesting out. No substitute for personal research. The Romans used inclusive reckoning. How old is an infant of 6 months in years? Well, he does not have any years. But, the Romans considered he is in his first year, and so he was already 1 year old at birth. What hour of the day is it between 12 and 1? According to us, no hour. But, the Romans said it was the first hour, etc., so our 1:30 was their two less 30, etc. So, I would leave the translation, myself. It says it rightly in English. Ciao.Dave (talk) 11:16, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

Restored weight parameter[edit]

I restored this parameter. You judged a bit hastily: he probably died of weight-related natural causes. His sister also was too heavy to leave her home, but she urged her son to escape. I didn't mention that as it is not about her. The people might like to know that overweight with age ran in the family and that it probably led to his death. People do vary in weight, you know, and why design a weight parameter if it is never going to be used? Weight is in fact relevant. What you want to do is clean up history so that you will not personally be shocked by it. Well, I dare say, clean history is no history at all. History is, so to speak, the story of uncleanliness: all the murders, the lies, the treacheries, the vices, the failings, the failures. If God didn't want us to know these things he would have given us amnesia. Pliny was a great author and the fact that he was too heavy to move about without assistance has no bearing on that, but this article is not just about his greatness as an author, it is about him. People want to know the human side. Would F Scott Fitzgerald be half so interesting if he was not an alcoholic who turned into a total fool when he drank and keeled over in middle age clutching at the mantelpiece? Or US Grant, who was court-martialed out of the army for drunken brawling and used his family connections to get back in (just in time to win a major battle)? Shall we conceal the fact that Pliny's first commander was the son of lady who had several children by several different husbands? Or what shall we say about Charles II, whose legitimate wife lived in the same palace with his main mistresses and their children, and they all got along famously? This is a biography here, it is not a whitewash. If you want whitewash buy a can of it. Leave the article alone please.Dave (talk) 02:10, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

Harris' Book[edit]

"Fictional Accounts"

"Pompeii" by Robert Harris is a fictionalized account of the Vesuvius eruption which features Pliny as a main character.

Harris is a current novelst. No, Mr. Harris, you cannot sell your book on WP. I myself think everyone interested in fiction about the times should read it! Hey, everyone, read Harris' book! There, Mr. Harris, is that what you wanted to say? The fictionalized accounts of the times run into many volumes. Why pick this one out? We can't get into that in this article. But, Harris' book has its own article as do many of the others. This is like the "trivia" sections, which now mainly have tags on them, the trivia exceed the article by far. As far as I can tell WP decided not to do that and if my understanding does not correspond to WP policy please let me know. This is history and biography not fictionalized accounts of it. We would not list novels of battle as sources for the battle, etc. Everything in its place; the novel has its own place and that is not here. Thanks.11:40, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

The bloodofox tag[edit]

Mr. bloodofox, I'm surprised at you. Your user page indicates you ought to have more experience and more sense. You are behaving as though there is an edit war on. In the first place, this article is full of references from start to end. I put them in assiduously myself. So, you do not get to throw a general unreferenced tag on the top. That is reserved for articles without any references or but few. Now, you say there are unreferenced paragraphs and therefore you are putting this tag on. Sorry, that is not a reason for putting on a tag. Everything does not have to be referenced just because it is a paragraph. The material might be covered by a previous paragraph or it might be of a general nature and not need a reference. Or, there might be adequate links to other articles where the same material is adequately referenced. It is up to the judgement of the editors. Now, I am perfectly willing to admit that in your judgement some material needs referencing. In that case you are justified in adding a "fact" template to the sentence. Make sure you are very specific. If that is what you want I am sure we can gratify your wish with no trouble or else explain why it isn't necessary. Throw it right on, I or someone will take a look at it. The way YOU left it I have to search through here and GUESS what it is you found needed references. No, you can't do that. That is the same as marking a student paper "bad paper" without any explanation at all of why you think it is bad. You leave me no choice but to remove the tag. Unless you can develop some good WP manners and tell us what is bothering you, please leave it out. I shall regard its unexplained reappearance as an edit war and ultimately vandalism. There is no reason not to tell us what is on your mind, is there? Thanks.Dave (talk) 21:08, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

The secret categories on this discussion and this article[edit]

No one has updated these categories. They are pretty asinine, in my opinion. Pliny is not minor figure either in literature or in history. This is not a third-class article now. Sorry, it isn't. What, you don't like PLiny, you don't understand Pliny, or what is the problem? You don't like the editors? I've got some reviewer status now and Bill, everyone knows Bill. Most of the commenters on this article are showing all red for their links. Let's have some improvement in status here.Dave (talk) 22:23, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Pinnerup and the secundus[edit]

Hello Mr. Pinnerup. Take a second look at your Latin dictionary, young man. You changed secundus from "prosperous" to "second". Well it can mean second, but not as a family name. I can see how you might argue that it refers to the formation of another branch. However, secundus does mean prosperous, a figurative sense derived from the "following wind" which brings your merchant ship home swiftly. Since the family was prosperous that seems most likely to me. It can also mean inferior. I'm reading this right out of my dictionary, on this occasion, White's. So, the question comes up, just what does it mean? You didn't allow my prosperous. I am not going to allow your second without substantiation. Perhaps the scholars have something to say. Right now I am going to look this up. If I find it I will I will put down what I find with the citation. If I do not we will just not say what it means. Don't put back "second" without a citation, please. If we find both etymologies then we will have a note citing both hypotheses. Fair enough? That is more the proper way to do it, I believe. Later.Dave (talk) 01:26, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

I spent some time looking it up. Nothing definitive. We aren't going to be able to say what it means. A lot of people have wanted to know that. In the case of women secunda may well mean "the second daughter of the family name"; for example, a daughter of the Livii would be Livia, but the second daughter would have to be secunda. They only had one name, you know, the family name. Not so with men. As it turns out, secundus is quite a common name. It can be the cognomen, the agnomen or even the first name. In all the secundi of ancient history it might be assigned for different reasons: for honor, to remember the maternal family, by adoption. Now Harduin made a famous statement that Pliny's secundus comes from his mother's side, but Harduin's view of that side is totally speculative. He wants to tie in some famous secundi known to Pliny, but he states no grounds. In fact, no one states any grounds. No one seems to know the source of this name or what it should mean applied to men. The "second" theory is sometimes stated, as is the "prosperous" theory, but only as guesses. The bottom line is that I do not see how we can put this in. I made a rash presumption that it would mean "prosperous." You just as rashly presumed it would be "second." You would have done better to point out it wasn't known and request a reference. The truth is, as far as I can ascertain, not enough is known of the family history to say why Gaius Plinius got to use Secundus as a name. So, I'm taking that out. Unless you have some new evidence I would expect it to stay out. Thanks for pointing this problem out.Dave (talk) 02:39, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

Missing material[edit]

I probably did most of the work on this article. It must be fairly popular, as after I left it, edits continued to be made. As it stands now it is not a bad article. There have been many attempts to vandalize it, most of which were reverted by someone. I notice however there is a lot missing. For example, "Student and lawyer" is down to almost nothing. There was no reason to take this material out. Some of the pictures aren't there now. I experienced something similar on my Thales article. In the end it was pretty incomprehensible. I had to restore it but now much of that has eroded away again. I suppose gradually this will become so also. It's up to you. You aren't contributing anything, you are only making it hard to write anything and keep anything. The enemies of WP are bent on destroying it. Are you one of those? I know what they say about it, but that is far from the whole story. Now, I could revert a lot of material that has vanished away. I could fight you for this article. However, that would take most of my time better spent elsewhere. I'm not doing that anymore; moreover, once you start taking issue, the enemies gang up in dumping abuse on your head. So, if you want this article you are going to have to fight for it. I cannot do it alone. Fighting for WP articles is a full-time career. It's been interesting here to say the least. But, after all, the goal was always the scholarship, not the fighting. Here we get an intensified view of academia. What it lacks that academia has is stability and authority. I'm eating crow now having criticised the establishment in my youth. So, in summary, this article is slipping away and I am NOT going to fix it. Somehow YOU will have to discover a new sense of responsibility and management. The usual vendettas aren't going to do it.Branigan 17:43, 2 October 2012 (UTC)


This is awfully speculative, and the source is from 1859: "The prevailing wind would not allow his ship to leave the shore. His companions attributed his collapse and death to toxic fumes, but they were unaffected by the fumes, so he probably died of natural causes rather than volcanic action.[2]" Any objections to removing it? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Howunusual (talkcontribs) 18:59, 16 April 2014 (UTC)

The description is accurate; the companions did what is described, and failed to die, so the source is correct to deduce what it does. If one of us had made this deduction, this would be WP:OR, but since we have a proper source for it, it's just fine. As for its date, people back then spent much more time reading Latin and Greek than we do nowadays, so it's not surprising; nor is there anything wrong in relying on older sources, unless indeed we have newer ones that explicitly contradict them (but in that case, we'd still want the older source, to show what was being contradicted). So it should stay. Chiswick Chap (talk) 19:39, 16 April 2014 (UTC)
Of course it should stay. We should add links to the Latin in online versions. Johnbod (talk) 02:46, 17 April 2014 (UTC)