De Naturali historia
Gaius Plinius Secundus(c.23-79A.D.)
 The details of the life of Plinius are not well known. Among the writings regarding his life, only two types of documents remain: two letters that small-Plinius (Plinius’ nephew and adopted son) sent to his friend Papiusskel and the historian Cornelius Tacitus and a short bibliography in “De Viris Illustribus (On Famous Men)” written by Gaius Suetonius. According to them, Plinius may have been born into a noble family in Como in 23 or 24 A.D. and was educated in Rome. In 47 A.D., he started working in the military as a cavalry officer in Germania and continued to work there until approximately 57 A.D. He was eventually promoted to become commander of the cavalry and, according to the preface of this book, made friends with the later Emperor Titus while staying at the military camp. When he completed his military service, Rome was under the reign of Emperor Nero. At that point, it seemed that Plinius completely retired from his official position and started pursuing academic interests. When Vespasianus ascended the throne as Emperor in 69 A.D., Plinius was again invited to the public office. He further served as the Emperor Magistrate in various provinces, including Hispania Tarraconensis (northern Spain) and Syria. He later returned to Rome and spent busy days as a member of the advisory council of Emperor Vespasianus. His final position was the Commander of the Roman fleet, with an anchorage of Misenum, Bay of Naples. During Plinius’ time as the Commander of the Roman fleet, the Vesuvio volcano near Naples erupted on August 24, 79 A.D. Plinius sent out a fleet for residents' rescue and got on board to command himself. He observed the eruption situation in detail based on his intellectual curiosity; unfortunately, he was killed by volcanic gas during the investigation.
 It is written in the letter by small-Plinius (Plinius’ nephew) that Plinius was a man who has a great desire to learn and who devoted every spare moment to read and write. According to his letter, Plinius wrote a total of 102 books during his busy life, such as “De vita Pomponi Secundi (Life of Pomponiano, Secundus),” “Commentaries on the Germania War,” “History on Aufidius Basshus,” and the book discussed here. Majority of his books were lost, and only the “Historia Naturalis (Natural History)” described here has remained to the present day.
This is an extremely original book in which Plinius integrated his intellectual curiosity, observations, imagination, and profound knowledge based on an extensive amount of reading (in this book, Plinius mentioned more than 2,000 books written by 146 Romans and 327 foreigners). Because the title of this book is “Natural History,” the subjects addressed in this book are diverse, including the universe, meteorology, Earth, world geography, topography, human beings, animals, agriculture, medicinal plants, metals, stones, sculptures, and painting. In total, more than 20,000 items are described in these fields. Plinius attempted to create an encyclopedia describing all the substances existing in nature. However, the book is not only limited to the objective descriptions of nature but also provides descriptions of the usefulness and dangers of nature in terms of the relation between nature and human beings. For example, the medicines derived from animals and plants are described in 13 books from among a total of 37 books. The medical effects of various materials are described in the remaining books. Considering that people were considerably interested in medicine at that time because of the underdeveloped state of medical science, the book answered several practical requirements.
 Plinius did not distinguish facts from legends, rumors, fiction, or conjectures. He considered all the information as factual. For example, there are several descriptions of strange animals, plants, individuals, traditions, and occurrences, such as unicorns, flying horses, mermaids, macropodia men, and mysterious imaginary objects, in unknown countries. Such descriptions stimulated the imagination of people in the Middle and Modern ages in Europe. In the Middle Ages, the copies of this book were read by many people because it was regarded as the most authoritative book on nature. From the late Middle Ages to the Modern Times, great navigators, such as Marco Polo, Columbus, and Vasco da Gama whose imagination towards the unknown world were greatly moved by the book, and they actually acted in search of “Pliny’s world”. Thus, this book played an important role in beginning the Age of Discovery.
 “Natural History” was first published in printed form in Venice in 1469. Another versions ware published in Venice in 1472 and in Treviso in 1479. The book described here is a version called the “New Edition,” which was published in Venice after the publication of the Treviso version.