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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
14


on 21 March 2015
Fascinating translation (no illustraitons)
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on 7 March 2013
This is a fascinating book, yet is only a selection and a small one at that of Pliny's great work. My ideal Natural History would therefore be for Penguin to publish all thirty-seven volumes, yet with copious footnotes so as to learn the accuracy of what Pliny says and understand those things that he may have taken for granted. This edition's limited footnotes range from the obvious to the bizarre.
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on 19 November 2014
Great value for money
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on 5 April 2001
For those of you who wish to get acquainted with Pliny, learn more of ancient customs and practices, or if you just look for something different and enlightening to read for a change this book is highly recommended.
As the title rightly suggests this Penguin Classic consists of eclectic samples taken from the 37 books that comprise the Natural History. It is based on an updated, accurate and easy to read translation by John Healy and includes a 32 page introduction, the official section numbering, a key to ancient places mentioned in the text and an index. At 400 pages it is substantial enough to offer many pleasurable hours of thought provoking reading, although, to be honest, I had expected considerably more material to be included. This selection also reflects the translators interest in mineralogy and metallurgy (22 pages are for example devoted to a treatise on gold and silver while no selections have been made from book XIX on vegetable gardening). A curiosity which deserves a note here is book XIV (pp. 182-193 in this edition) in which Pliny gives an eminent account of the art of wine and viticulture. It is an absolute must read for all connoisseurs of good drink.
Considering that the complete works are both very expensive and bulky this is a good introductory option. But this is only an appetiser. Those who wish to indulge in more serious reading, or look to read Pliny in a more scholarly manner for the possibility of making good and well informed quotes, will undoubtedly do better by consulting the separate volumes which contain the whole unabridged text (eg. H. Rackham's authoritative translation with parallel Latin-English text published in 10 volumes by Harvard University Press). Had this Penguin edition covered more material I would have rated it at 5 stars.
// J. Silvennoinen
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on 14 October 2017
Sent as a present. Scanned through it first, and it seemed an informative and a fascinating study by a far-thinking scientist from long ago.
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on 5 November 2011
As pointed out already, the selections are quite good (this from a reader who likes his books unabridged) and the translation is smooth and easy to read. What really disappointed me, though, were the footnotes.

Some of Pliny's claims are absurd, some are entertaining, some mind-boggling, and some rather surprisingly correct. But the footnotes help the reader to figure out which is which next to not at all. Instead of comments on Pliny's various claims, the reader is provided with mostly banalities an undergraduate with an interest in Classics will know. I'm pretty sure nobody who tackles Pliny will be ignorant of who Alexander of Macedon was.

While I understand the Penguin Classics can't accommodate a full-scale editorial apparatus, using the space available more judiciously, or just adding a little, would make the book so much better!
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on 11 May 2017
This product was fine.
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on 19 July 2010
some of Pliny's ideas are weird some are crazy some are not wrong but all are interesting dipping in and out is preferable to reading at a sitting as it doesn't flow like a novel.
well worth the effort of reading
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on 4 December 2016
Clarity is the word that springs to mind mixed with quaintness and, from this reader anyway a healthy respect for Roman ingenuity and knowledge.
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on 21 March 2015
Excellent if you want to read what the Classical Authors wrote!
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