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Elephants and Bears through the Eyes of Scholars: A Case Study of Pliny’s Zoology in the 15th–16th Centuries

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on Pliny commentaries from the 15th-16th centuries as listed by Hardouin, especially commentators who worked not only on the text critical problems, but as well discussed and explained Pliny's zoological knowledge. It demonstrates how the commentators' reception of Pliny changed over time. The chapter provides evidence of the increased critical perception of Pliny by analyzing: 1) the commentators' knowledge of the Greek language and their usage of the Greek sources in their work on the Natural History; 2) the commentators' expression of their own opinions, and their organization of the source text and annotations; 3) questioning of the original text; 4) quotations of other ancient and more recent texts, and 5) evidence of elephant or bear encounters increasing over time. The text of Sabellicus is based on a seminar on the Natural History that ran for several years at the school of San Marco in Venice.

Keywords: Greek language; Hardouin; Natural History; Pliny; Sabellicus; Venice



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