Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 393: 136-137


Pliny: Natural History

Liber XXV

I. Ipsa quae nunc dicetur herbarum claritas, medicinae tantum gignente eas Tellure, in admirationem curae priscorum diligentiaeque animum agit. nihil ergo intemptatum inexpertumque illis fuit, nihil deinde occultatum quodque non prodesse posteris vellent. at nos elaborata his abscondere ac 2supprimere cupimus et fraudare vitam etiam alienis bonis. ita certe recondunt qui pauca aliqua novere invidentes aliis, et neminem docere in auctoritatem scientiae est. tantum ab excogitandis novis ac iuvanda vita mores absunt, summumque opus ingeniorum diu iam hoc fuit ut intra unumquemque recte facta veterum perirent. at, Hercules, singula quosdam inventa deorum numero addidere, quorum1 utique vitam clariorem fecere cognominibus herbarum, tam benigne gratiam memoria referente. 3non aeque haec cura eorum mira est2 in his quae satu blandiuntur aut cibo invitant, culmina quoque montium invia et solitudines abditas omnesque terrae


Book XXV

Book XXV

I. This peculiar glory of plants which I am nowOf plants used specially for medicine going to speak of, Mother Earth producing them sometimes for medicinal purposes only, rouses in one’s mind admiration for the care and industry of the men of old; there was nothing left untried or unattempted by them, and furthermore nothing kept secret, nothing which they wished to be of no benefit to posterity. But we moderns desire to hide and suppress the discoveries worked out by these investigators, and to cheat human life even of the good things that have been won by others. Yes indeed, those who have gained a little knowledge keep it in a grudging spirit secret to themselves, and to teach nobody else increases the prestige of their learning. So far has custom departed from fresh research and assistance to life; the supreme task of our great minds has long been to keep within individual memory the successes of the ancients, so allowing them to be forgotten. But, heaven knows, there are some whom a single discovery has added to the number of the gods, whose life on earth at any rate has been made more glorious by their names being given to plants, so kind the thanks of a mindful posterity. This careful research of theirs is less wonderful when rewarded by plants of fascinating growth or attractive as food; but they have scoured also trackless mountain heights, unexplored deserts and all the bowels of the earth, finding out the power

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938