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Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23 - 79), known as Pliny the Elder, was the Roman author of the 'Natural History'. In its 37 books, he described the natural world and the art and architectural achievements of the ancient world. His descriptions of ancient Greek and Roman paintings were the only ones to survive to the Renaissance, and, at a time when no actual paintings had yet been excavated, were the only source for those wishing to know about the painting of Antiquity.

Pliny was born in Como and died in the eruption of Vesuvius which destroyed Pompeii.