(born AD 23, Novum Comum, Transpadane Gaul—died Aug. 24, 79, Stabiae, near Mt. Vesuvius) Roman scholar. Descended from a prosperous family, Pliny pursued a military career, held official positions (including procurator of Spain), and later spent years in semiretirement, studying and writing. His fame rests on his Natural History (AD 77), an encyclopaedic work of uneven accuracy that was the European authority on scientific matters up to the Middle Ages. Six other works ascribed to him were probably lost in antiquity. He died while observing the great eruption of Vesuvius.
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