Abstract

This paper discusses an overlooked aspect of Pliny’s Natural History (HN): the embodiment through the senses of the Stoics’ universal deity. At several junctures in the work, readers are prompted to make contact with the immanent numen naturae by hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching its perishable manifestations. Pliny’s emphasis on the “lesser” senses as vehicles for a human-divine relation is worth examining as an innovative gesture in connection with the prominence of sight in imperial Stoicism. Moreover, identifying the function of Pliny’s sensorium brings the HN in dialogue with the field of the senses in antiquity, and especially with the role of the senses in religion.

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