Pliny's Natural History has been traditionally considered as the unoriginal work of an uncritical compiler. This has also been held to be true of the "biological" books, especially when one compares them with the works of Aristotle, one of Pliny's main authorities in this domain. Aristotle's achievements would be remarkable, especially in the field of classification, of which the philosopher is traditionally celebrated as the scientific father. However, by carefully reading HN XXXII it is possible to find a certain "taxonomic" awareness-as, for instance, the need for a more accurate nomenclature in order to distinguish some aquatic animals beyond the proliferation of different vernacular terms-which is not to be found in the works of Aristotle. This, in a rather positivist way, may seem to anticipate Renaissance naturalists, but is in fact the consequence of both Pliny's encyclopedic project and contingent ethnobiological, linguistic and social factors.
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