Eight hundred years later in 77 ., the somewhat unscientific Roman chronicler of science Pliny the Elder , completed his celebrated series of books entitled " Natural History ". In it, he attributed the name "magnet" to the supposed discoverer of lodestone, the shepherd Magnes , "the nails of whose shoes and the tip of whose staff stuck fast in a magnetic field while he pastured his flocks". Thus another myth was born. Pliny was killed during the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius near Pompeii in . 79 but his "Natural History" lived on as an authority on scientific matters up to the Middle Ages.