Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Stacie Raucci


Pliny the Elder, Natural History, ancient science, translation, commentary


This thesis offers a translation and commentary of books VII and XXVIII of Pliny the Elder’s Natural History as a scientific text. Written in an early encyclopedic style, the two books cover complementary topics in human biology and physiology. Since ancient and modern views on science differ largely in principle, Pliny’s work has long been subject to scrutiny regarding its legitimacy as a scientific text. Keeping in consideration the principles of ancient science, this paper explores some of the observed phenomena through the lens of modern science.

In an attempt to abide by Pliny’s stated goals for his work, the translation is stylized in accordance with his intention to create his work to be as accessible as possible. The commentary, on the other hand, employs knowledge of the intricacies of Latin grammar and modern-day science with the goal of guiding the reader through both the complex grammar and scientific concepts.