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Quoting everyone from Pliny the Elder to NASA physicist Friedemann Freund, Pizzorusso's work is solidly backed scholarship that reads as easily as a summer novel.
Pliny's text and his recollection of the event, which he witnessed, and in which his uncle Pliny the Elder died, were well known in the following centuries, but it was only in 1738, with the discovery of Herculaneum and 10 years later with the start of excavations at Pompeii, that the two ill-fated cities truly started to capture the imagination of the Western world.
According to Pliny the Elder, the great Greek painter Zeuxis, born in Heraclea in southern Italy in the latter 5th century BC, for example, is said to have painted a bunch of grapes so realistic that a flock of birds flew down to eat them but could only peck at the canvas.
The Arabs added olive oil, while Pliny the Elder talked of a soap made with goats tallow and ashes.
The whiff of cardamom and the spike of pepper had even Pliny the Elder and Sangam literature ( writings spanning from 300BCE to 300CE) poking from antiquity a reminder about the existence of an ancient port Muziris, where Roman ships laden with gold would halt to load treasures of a different kind.
7 ROMAN writer and naturalist Pliny the Elder was a fan of figs and said: "This fruit invigorates the young, improves the health of the aged, and retards the formation of wrinkles.
Nearly five centuries later, in 77 AD, Pliny the Elder knocked Plato for a loop saying "Athletes when sluggish are revitalized by lovemaking.
Kourion was recorded by numerous ancient authors including Ptolemy, Stephanus of Byzantium, Hierocles and Pliny the Elder.
In a poll conducted annually by Zymurgy Magazine, the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) membership voted Russian River Brewing Company's Pliny the Elder the "Best Commercial Beer in America" for the sixth year running.
As Pliny the Elder retells the legend, the first painting was created by a woman who, deeply in love with a man soon to depart on a long journey, traced the shadow of his profile on a wall.
Figs were brought to Britain by the Romans, who admired them so much that the author Pliny the Elder even wrote "One hundred and eleven observations" on the fruit.
In this respect, although Aristotle, Theophrastus, Posidonius, and Pliny the Elder figure prominently throughout the book, so do Cicero and, most interestingly, Ovid and Virgil.