Friends, Romans and countrymen - lend me your ears!

Peter Burkimsher, 2017-11-10

Text provided by Perseus Digital Library. Original version available for viewing and download at

What is PlinyPedia?

Naturalis Historia was the world's first encyclopedia, written by Pliny The Elder in 79 AD. He died when the volcano Vesuvius erupted.

I like to read Wikipedia for fun (I keep an offline copy on my phone, 10GB). Every day I also read another ancient book, the Bible. Naturalis Historia is shorter than the Bible, although the Bible has better reading plans and study notes.

People remember military events, but not academic discoveries. This site is made "lest we forget" the lessons of the past.

The original text at Perseus is more suitable for desktop reading. PlinyPedia is reformatted to be mobile-friendly using iUI. I parsed the XML, split the text into books and chapters, moved footnotes to the bottom of the page, and added a basic search function. I built it quickly so the design is very basic, but it should load fast.

What can I learn from PlinyPedia?

Tell me more about Romans.

It's a pity that Roman civilisation fell.

It didn't.

Political changes made people move around, but the knowledge was never really lost.

The Roman Republic came first, governed by the Senate. Caesar Augustus was a rich man who used political instability to get "temporary" power over the provinces and become a dictator, the first Emperor. Watch Gladiator (2000) for more about this. Despite Caesar's head being on the coins, the Roman cultural identity was The Senate and People of Rome.

When the Western Roman Empire slowly fell apart, the academics moved to the eastern capital, Byzantium (Istanbul). They stayed there for another 1000 years until the Ottoman Turks invaded.

The academics then moved back to Rome and started the Renaissance. The rest, they say, is modern history.

My parents learned Latin at school. The Catholic church used it until 1965. Most of the world still uses the Latin alphabet. People can still study Classics at university. We still use the same names for months. Earlier, "September" was the 7th month, "October" the eighth, "November" the 9th, and "December" was the 10th. Whoever messed that up should be stabbed. Oh! It was Julius Caesar, and indeed, he was stabbed.

We're still building upon the knowledge of the ancients, and we have better communication now with the other world powers in the Middle East and China so we can learn from their research. Let's not ruin that with wars, but keep peace and development. The Western world is not developed because of "white Anglo-saxon English-speaking Protestants"; Westerners are the descendants of a multi-racial, international civilisation that spanned Europe, Africa, and parts of the Middle East.

We are Romans.

To Do


Discussion at Hacker News.