A mere fragment of a sentence, yet I could criticize it for days. It's from a review of some contemporary poetry that, for all I know, may be very good. But this twelve-word clause is corrigible out of all proportion to its length!
What is uncanny about the extruded fragment is that it contrives to be patronizing toward Pliny while, at the same time, overrating him. You couldn't have done this if you knew what you were doing -- to quote a great poet.
Why "wonderfully"? Is it matter for surprise that Pliny should be inquisitive and incisive? Is the implication that inquiry and incision are recent inventions? Or is it (rather) implied that they are traits seldom met with in classic literature? -- or seldom met with among the Romans specifically? I fear I'm being reassured that Pliny, Rome, and the ancient world aren't as boring as it is presumed I expect them to be. And hereby a man may learn that it's not only Pliny the Elder who is being patronized.
The writer actually contrives to praise Pliny for qualities he hasn't got. Pliny "inquisitive"? The Histories of Pliny the Elder are collectanea -- repositories of lore cogged out of other men's books. Pliny's importance derives from the fact that the books he copied from mostly no longer exist. I think that if Pliny had been inquisitive it would have unsettled his belief in the leucrocotta, an animal with the legs of a stag, the neck, tail, and breast of a lion, the head of a badger, continuous bone ridges instead of teeth, and a human voice. Pliny has charm, energy, idiosyncrasy, and he is curious, in an unruffled sort of way; but if "inquisitive" means asking questions, I doubt whether anyone less inquisitive ever held a pen.
And "incisive"? It usually connotes the quick and accurate exercise of judgment. The metaphor is medical. Matthew Arnold characterized the genius of Goethe in lines I hope are still immortal among diagnosticians, if nowhere else --
He struck his finger on the place
And said, "Thou ailest here, and here."
If that is what "incisive" means, Pliny is not your man. Pliny collects the testimony of sundry authorities and puts it all in. The exercise of judgment is not his strong point -- not his goal. And we are the richer for it; but as long as we are being Classical, we should call these things by their right names.