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The Curious Eye Of The Elder Pliny

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores some of the nuances of Pliny's terrestrial curiosity, using the Senecan model of celestial curiosity as a comparison and foil where appropriate. It focuses on the extent to which the key motif of vision assumes distinctive qualities in keeping with Pliny's particular project. The author argues that the individual objects of his curiosity are highlighted to produce an emotional response very different from that of Seneca's serene contemplation, yet equally valid as an appreciation of nature. The author suggests that many individual sights encountered on the journey through the Natural History are deliberately set up to capture the eyes of Pliny's readers with the intention of inculcating a true and lasting appreciation of the terrestrial world - theirworld - and to reflect on their place and purpose in it. In particular, the HN is full of wonders, and wonders above all, in Horace's words, captured and 'transfixed the eyes'.

Keywords: Natural History; Pliny; Senecan model; terrestrial curiosity



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