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Literary sources for the Illyrian provinces (Dalmatia and especially Pannonia) in Naturalis historia by Pliny the Elder

Alka Domić-Kunić

Puni tekst: hrvatski, pdf (346 KB) str. 119-171 preuzimanja: 3.988* citiraj
APA 6th Edition
Domić-Kunić, A. (2004). Literarni izvori za iliričke provincije (Dalmaciju i osobito Panoniju) u Naturalis historia Plinija starijeg. Vjesnik Arheološkog muzeja u Zagrebu, 37 (1), 119-171. Preuzeto s
MLA 8th Edition
Domić-Kunić, Alka. "Literarni izvori za iliričke provincije (Dalmaciju i osobito Panoniju) u Naturalis historia Plinija starijeg." Vjesnik Arheološkog muzeja u Zagrebu, vol. 37, br. 1, 2004, str. 119-171. Citirano 26.09.2021.
Chicago 17th Edition
Domić-Kunić, Alka. "Literarni izvori za iliričke provincije (Dalmaciju i osobito Panoniju) u Naturalis historia Plinija starijeg." Vjesnik Arheološkog muzeja u Zagrebu 37, br. 1 (2004): 119-171.
Domić-Kunić, A. (2004). 'Literarni izvori za iliričke provincije (Dalmaciju i osobito Panoniju) u Naturalis historia Plinija starijeg', Vjesnik Arheološkog muzeja u Zagrebu, 37(1), str. 119-171. Preuzeto s: (Datum pristupa: 26.09.2021.)
Domić-Kunić A. Literarni izvori za iliričke provincije (Dalmaciju i osobito Panoniju) u Naturalis historia Plinija starijeg. Vjesnik Arheološkog muzeja u Zagrebu [Internet]. 2004 [pristupljeno 26.09.2021.];37(1):119-171. Dostupno na:
A. Domić-Kunić, "Literarni izvori za iliričke provincije (Dalmaciju i osobito Panoniju) u Naturalis historia Plinija starijeg", Vjesnik Arheološkog muzeja u Zagrebu, vol.37, br. 1, str. 119-171, 2004. [Online]. Dostupno na: [Citirano: 26.09.2021.]

This article is concerned with the Greek and Latin sources which Pliny the Elder used for the
third book of his encyclopedia. This book includes geographical descriptions of two of the Illyrian
provinces of the time of Augustus – Dalmatia and Pannonia. From the list of sources given the
authoress has tried to find those from which Pliny may have drawn his information (especially
about Pannonia which is generally less well researched) and to identify the titles of their works that
might have come into consideration. The difficulty of this work has been increased by the fact that
Pliny amassed an enormous amount of information and used it as he found convenient, often without
indicating the source. In the introduction to the Naturalis historia by Pliny the Elder and in a
letter to Macro Baebius by his nephew Pliny the Younger (Epistulae, 3.5) there is a great deal of information
concerning the selection of sources and the procedures of Pliny 's work.
According to Pliny himself the whole of the Naturalis historia was based on some hundred
selected writers and about 2,000 volumes studied (Praefatio, 17). The actual number is different: on
lists of sources for 36 books there is a total of 146 Latin authors and 327 Greek, but even this number
is not final for in the text itself still more names are given. This has led the authoress to suppose
that in the lists Pliny only gave a select bibliography (at the head of each list we find the words ex
auctoribus which may refer to the »most important« authors).
The authoress has selected four geographical books from Pliny's encyclopedia (books III–VI)
and in the first table gives a share of Latin and Greek authors. The table shows an obvious difference
in the number of authors between the third book and the other three geographical books, in favour
of the latter. The third book also shows a difference in the ratio of the Latin and Greek authors; the
former prevail, which is in conformance with the geographical regions covered (the third book covers
also Italy while the remaining three are mainly concerned with the eastern portion of the Empire,
so a greater number of Greek authors is logical).
The list of sources for the third book of the Naturalis historia gives 24 Latin and 13 Greek
authors (a total of 37). But in the text itself another four names appear (Timaeus, Callimachus, Eratosthenes,
Polybius), which means that the total number of sources for the third book is 41. The names
in the list are seamingly given without any order, either alphabetical or chronological. It seems
as if Pliny (at least in the third book) gave them in the order in which he used them, as far as can be
concluded from the fact that not all of authors from the list are cited in the text. The authoress has
determined chronologically the sources for the third book (second table) with interesting results:
there is equality among the source writers when all three periods are considered (5th–2nd century
BC, 1st century BC, 1st century AD). Pliny used writers from all periods equally, but in the first period
Greek authors predominate (10 : 3), in the second Greek and Latin are roughly equal (7 : 6), and
in the third Latin authors predominate (1 : 12). The sources are also given thematically according to
their main scholarly interest (third table), geographic and chorographic, historical, natural sciences
and agronomic, thaumatological and paradoxographic. Some authors come under more than one
heading and it is difficult to confine them to one field only. Two of the historians (Polybius and Livy)
are found among the geographers because of the kind of information Pliny used from them.
Analysis of the sources for the third book of the Naturalis historia required a great deal of
preparatory research. It was necessary to find out if the authors on the list were sources for otherbooks (and if so, which ones) and whether Pliny quoted them in one of 36 books. Quotations were
used as indications to identify the works from which Pliny took his information. Research also covered
the four Greek authors already mentioned which are not found in the list but are quoted in the
third book. The fact that they are found on the lists for the other geographic books (IV–VI) leads the
authoress to suppose that Pliny left them out here by mistake. Asummary of these findings is given
in table four.
A short account of each individual author follows. The authoress, by using quotations from
Pliny, has tried to establish which books he cited from, and what information he got from them. An
additional problem is caused by the fact that most of these authors are not quoted in the text of the
third book so a conclusion had to be drawn from a general knowledge of their complete work. Five
authors lacking from the list of sources and not cited in the text are here added to the list of writers
by the authoress. These are Hecataeus, Herodotus, Ephorus, Posidonius, and Pompeius Trogus. The
authoress is surprised that Pliny did not take them into account, especially since all five could have
offered him valuable information about Illyricum. An even greater problem is Strabo who is not
quoted in a single place of the whole Naturalis historia. It is generally supposed that Pliny did not
know Strabo's work (a historical and a geographical part). The loss however is probably not great,
as both Pliny and Strabo used the same sources and had a similar informative base.
The fifth table shows frequency and a sort of information used by individual authors from the
list of sources of the third book of the Naturalis historia. It can immediately be seen that only a few
quotations concern the Illyrian provinces – one quotation from each of the following: Cornelius Nepos,
Marcus Agrippa, Marcus Varro, and two from Callimachus. All five quotations are concerned
with Dalmatia and there is not one about Pannonia, and the authoress pays special attention to these
writers and their work to substantiate Pliny's information. To them can be added some other names
from the list (and authors who are not on the list), who are known to have written about the two provinces.
The next table gives information about Illyricum, taken from other books of the Naturalis
historia; most again concerns Dalmatia, though some refer to Pannonia (NH VII.148, VII.149,
VIII.40, XXI.43, XXXVII.43, XXXVII.45). Unfortunately no source is given for any of them and
the authoress is trying to find where the information came from.
After exhaustive analysis of Pliny's sources from the list for the third book, an analysis of the
text itself follows to show the kind of information for Dalmatia (table six) and Pannonia (table seven).
For Dalmatia besides literary sources there are also two other categories which the authoress
calls periploi and official documents (formula provinciae). The first are found in description of the
coastal region, official documents giving an alphabetical list of ethnic communities and the legal
position of the civitates within the province. Two main categories of sources for Pannonia are orbis
pictus by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and formula provinciae. Agrippa's map of the world, in the
authoress' opinion, was the origin of the position of Pannonia and of the mention of topographic elements
(rivers, mountains, a river island), and of the ethnic communities given in geographic order,
while from the formula the information was taken of the legal status of Pannonian settlements and
alphabetical list of ethnic communities. Formulae provinciarum date from the time of Augustus
and were periodically amended as can be seen from the example of Dalmatia (NH III.141 – Claudius'
reign) and Pannonia (NH III.146 – Claudius' reign, and III.147 – the time of Vespasian). The
last table gives an exhaustive analysis of the text concerning Pannonia, to which is added the authoress'
conclusion about the source of information for each part of the text. As far as Pannonia is concerned,
the sources were mostly Agrippa's map and official documents, and hardly at all authors
from the list for the third book.
From all the above it may be seen that most of the information about Pannonia dates from the
early Augustan period, that is from a time when the Pannonian frontiers had not yet been finally for-med (which happened during the time of Claudius), and only its southern part between the Sava and
Drava rivers was conquered. The newest information concerning Pannonia (the mention of Vespasian's
colony Siscia) was probably first hand information, since he was Pliny's contemporary. This
information does not seem to have been included in the formula provinciae, for in that case Pliny
would have found information on Sirmium, another Vespasian's colony. This town, however, he refers
to as an autochthonous oppidum.
If the quality and the quantity of information about the province of Pannonia (whose boundaries
were fixed only during the Claudius's reign) is compared with information about other Claudian
provinces (Noricum, Britannia, and Moesia), Pannonia is not under-represented at all. New
Roman territorial acquisitions were described in much less words than the older ones (Gallia, Hispania,
Africa, and even Dalmatia), which is to be expected in the light of the lack of information
about the former in ancient scholarly literature.

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