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Article

J. T. Vallance

The modern term for the systematic study of the character and diversity of chemical elements and compounds which occur naturally within the earth. How far the Greeks could be said to have engaged in this kind of study is highly questionable, yet there is evidence that the diversity of mineral substances was recognized, and names given to a few minerals. There is no doubt that the ancients had experience of the use of ores, precious and semi-precious stones, and *building materials. Archaeological evidence for ancient mining and *metallurgy, however, suggests degrees of technical sophistication and understanding which are not equally evident in the surviving literary sources.Epistemologically-based hierarchies of nature like those of *Plato (1) and, to a lesser extent, *Aristotle seem effectively to have discouraged the systematic investigation of anything but the most unusual, valuable, or beautiful of mineral substances. Yet speculation about the origins of earth-materials in general is a feature of certain Presocratic cosmologies (notably those of *Anaximenes (1), *Heraclitus (1), *Anaxagoras, and *Empedocles).

Article

Andrew Brown

Morsimus, son of *Philocles and great-nephew of *Aeschylus, was an eye-doctor (see ophthalmology) and also a tragic poet, but regarded by *Aristophanes(1) as a particularly bad one (Eq.401; Pax802; Ran.151).

Article

music  

Andrew Barker

‘Let me not live without music’, sings a chorus of greybeards in *Euripides (HF676). Expressions such as ‘without music’, ‘chorusless’, ‘lyreless’ evoked the dreary bitterness of war, the *Erinyes' curse, or death, ‘without wedding song, lyreless, chorusless, death at the end’ (Soph.OC1221–3). Poetic pictures of unblemished happiness are correspondingly resonant with music; and in every sort of revel and celebration, Greeks of all social classes sang, danced (see dancing), and played instruments, besides listening to professional performances. Music was credited with divine origins and mysterious powers, and was the pivot of relations between mortals and gods. It was central to public religious observance, and to such semi-religious occasions as weddings, funerals, and harvests. At the great panhellenic *festivals (see panhellenism) and their many local counterparts, choruses and vocal and instrumental soloists competed no less than athletes for prizes and glory (cf. Pind.

Article

Philip de Souza

Navigation can be defined as the art of taking a ship successfully from one chosen point to another. From a very early stage the relatively calm, tideless waters of the Mediterranean encouraged travel by sea. Seagoing *ships were not normally used in the winter months, because storms and poor visibility made navigation hazardous, but Hesiod's suggestion that sailing be limited to July and August is overcautious (Hes.Op. 663–5), the period between the vernal and autumnal equinoxes being the best season, with some leeway at either end. Ancient vessels were either paddled, rowed, or sailed. Their speed depended upon size, type of propulsion, and the weather. Sailing speeds of between four and six knots seem to have been the norm with favourable winds. Light or unfavourable winds might reduce speed to less than one knot, making it preferable to lie up and wait for a change in the weather.

Article

G. J. Toomer

Nechepso, pseudonymous author, with Petosiris, of an astrological treatise in at least fourteen books, written, perhaps in Egypt, by a late Hellenistic Greek who used the Egyptian names to convey a spurious antiquity. Its great influence is shown by the frequent citations in later astrological works. See astrology.

Article

John Scarborough

Nicander, of Colophon. Nicander says he was ‘nurtured by the snow-white city of Claros’ (Theriaca 958), and that he lives among ‘the tripods of Apollo in Claros’ (Alexipharmaca 11), indicating that he was probably a priest of *Apollo at *Claros. Nicander of Colophon is not the Nicander, son of Anaxagoras, cited as an epic poet in a Delphian inscription (Syll.3 452), dated 258 bce; internal evidence suggests a floruit for Nicander of Colophon of c.130bce.Surviving intact are two didactic poems in Greek hexameters, the Theriaca and Alexipharmaca. Forming the subject-matter of the Theriaca are snakes, spiders, scorpions, presumably poisonous insects, and related creatures (centipedes, millipedes, solifuges), accompanied by remedies for their bites and stings; the Alexipharmaca retails botanical, animal, and mineral poisons and antidotes. Nicander is a gifted Homeric glossator, but he is neither zoologist nor toxicologist: the lost tracts Poisonous Animals.

Article

Nicomachus of *Gerasa (fl. c. 100 ce), a *Neopythagorean author of mostly scientific works of an introductory character. Two of his works are extant: (1) Introduction to Arithmetic (Ἀϱιθμητικὴ εἰσαγωγή), in two books, (2) Manual of Harmonics (Ἐγχειϱίδιον ἁϱμονικῆς). He also wrote, all now lost: a Θεολογούμενα ἀϱιθμητικῆς (extracts preserved in the work of the same name attributed to *Iamblichus(2)), a Life of Pythagoras (Porph, VP 20, 59) and an Introduction to Geometry (Introd. Arith. 2.6.1). To modern readers, he often appears to be disturbingly philosophizing, to the detriment of the scientific content, and to be elementary to the point of becoming trivial. He did however have great influence in antiquity (Iamblichus, Asclepius and *Philoponus have all written commentaries on the Arithmetic, which was even translated into Latin by *Apuleius, forming the basis of *Boethius’ own work in Arithmetic; other works were heavily used by Iamblichus). He may be the best representative of the absorption of scientific themes into ancient philosophical education in the Pythagoreanizing tradition.

Article

Thomas Little Heath and G. J. Toomer

Nicomedes (5), mathematician (? c. 200 bce), was the discoverer of the cochloidal or conchoidal curves, by means of which he solved the problem of trisecting the angle and that of doubling the cube. See especially Eutocius, Comm. in Arch. de Sph. et Cyl. (Heiberg2), 98 ff.

Article

Thomas Little Heath and G. J. Toomer

There were two main systems:(1) The ‘alphabetic’ or ‘Milesian’, probably originating in Ionia and the older of the two. It consisted of the ordinary letters of the Ionian alphabet plus ς = 6, ϙ = 90, and or = 900. Thus α to θ represent 1 to 9, ι to ϙ 10 to 90, and ρ to 100 to 900. Thousands from one to nine are represented by to , and 10,000 by Μ. Multiples of 10,000 are written by putting the multiplier above; thus 126,763 is written , ςψξγ.(2) The ‘acrophonic’. Apart from |, the unit, the signs were the initial letters of the numeral words: = πέντε, = δέκα, = ἑκατόν, = χίλιοι, = μύριοι. Quintuples of the latter four were represented by a combination with ; thus , or = 50, = 500, = 5,000, = 50,000. Other multiples were expressed by repetition of the sign; thus 126,763 is written .

Article

Joyce Reynolds and Antony Spawforth

The numbers are based on seven signs: I = 1, V = 5, X = 10, L = 50 (formerly, before the 1st cent. bce, ↓), C = 100, = 500, ∞ (or a recognizable variant) = 1,000 (M was not used as a figure, only as an abbreviation of the words mille, milia). The system's origins are debated. Modern scholarship rejects the late and complex theory of *Priscian (mixing alphabetic and acrophonic principles); Mommsen's influential dual explanation argues for both pre-alphabetic (i.e. pictographic) origins (I, V, and X) and a putative Roman adaptation of ‘unused’ Greek (Chalcidic; see chalcis) letters (↓, C, ∞); most recently an origin in the *Etruscan system of tally-marks has been proposed (Keyser).A notation could be constructed on this basis both by the additive method (IIII = 4; XXXX = 40) and by the subtractive (IV = 4; XL = 40) and both methods were employed, sometimes even in the same document. Inscriptions seem to show a preference for the additive method, especially in official contexts, and this preference is occasionally carried to the extent of ignoring the signs V and L (so IIIIIIviri often for VIviri and such forms as XXXXXX for LX).

Article

Oenopides of Chios was said by *Eudemus to have ‘discovered’ the obliquity of the ecliptic and some constructions in elementary geometry. A luni-solar period (‘Great Year’) of 59 years and 730 months is credibly attributed to him.

Article

Ludwig Edelstein and Michael Vickers

Ointment (μύρον, unguentum), was used for medical and cosmetic purposes, and in religious ceremonies and funeral rites (see dead, disposal of), in which the restorative, the aromatic, the sacrificial, and the sumptuary combined in varying degrees. Vegetable oils and animal fats served as the vehicles for herbal remedies and fragrant salves, lotions, and unguents. Exotic ingredients, such as cassia (κασία, casia), cinnamon (κιννάμωμον, cinnanmum), frankincense (λιβανωτός, thur), *myrrh (σμύρνα, myrrha) were inevitably more costly and carried greater status. Many of these were imported into the Mediterranean from Arabia and beyond, either via Egypt or through the agency of coastal cities that served as outlets for luxury goods brought across the desert from the *Red Sea. The trade is well attested for Hellenistic and Roman times, when it was largely in the hands of *Nabataean merchants (see incense; spices).

Article

Ludwig Edelstein and V. Nutton

Ophthalmology was greatly advanced by the Greeks. Twenty operations were devised; until the beginning of the 18th cent. only four were added. The treatment of more than thirty *diseases was not essentially changed until the beginning of the 17th cent. This great achievement, mostly due to the Hellenistic physicians, was closely connected with the development of human *anatomy and probably with that of mathematical *optics. Other factors may have contributed to a special interest in the subject and thereby to the amazing success: the frequency of eye diseases in the Mediterranean world, the importance of sight for every human being, the valuation of sight peculiar to the Greeks.As regards anatomy, the fabric of the eye was almost entirely unravelled. Seven membranes were distinguished, the optic nerve was accurately described. The theories of vision were less satisfactory, depending too much on the various philosophical conceptions; *Galen assumed that a sight-spirit proceeds from the brain along the nerves, envelops the object seen, and then returns to the crystalline humour, thus completing the act of vision.

Article

optics  

Wilbur R. Knorr and Alexander Jones

Optics, in the modern sense (since Johannes Kepler in the 17th cent.) conceived as the science of light, was viewed among the ancients primarily as the theory of vision. The ancient atomists (e.g. *Democritus, *Epicurus, *Lucretius; see atomism) advocated an intromissionist theory: that vision entails the reception into the eye of corpuscular emanations from the surfaces of the objects seen. Alternative conceptions were proposed by *Aristotle (De anima 2. 7) and by the Stoics. But the most widely held view was extramissionist, as perhaps already formulated by Pythagoreans (see pythagoras(1)) in the 4th cent. bce: that vision is mediated by a type of fire emanating from the eye outward to the objects seen (cf. Pl.Tim. 45b–46c). This is the view adopted by *Euclid and those in the tradition of geometric optics. The visual ray (specifically opsis, or more generally aktis, though this can also mean a solar ray) proceeds along a straight line from eye to object (cf.

Article

Robert Browning and V. Nutton

Born in Pergamum, he studied medicine at *Alexandria(1) under *Zeno(2) of Cyprus, and practised in Asia Minor. He became the personal physician of *Julian, who took him to Gaul (355). Closely involved in the proclamation of Julian as Emperor (361), Oribasius accompanied him until his death in *Mesopotamia (363). Banished for a time to foreign courts, Oribasius was soon recalled by the Emperor *Valens and continued to practise his profession until an advanced age. His principal works are a collection of excerpts from *Galen—now lost—and the Collectiones medicae (Ἰατρικαὶ συναγωγαί), a vast compilation of excerpts from earlier medical writers, from *Alcmaeon (2) of Croton (c.500 bce) to Oribasius' contemporaries Philagrius and Adamantius. Both of these works were written at the behest of Julian. Of the 70 (or 72) books of the Collectiones only 25 survive entire; but the rest can be in part reconstructed from the Synopsis ad Eustathium, and the treatise Ad Eunapium, epitomes of the Collectiones in 9 books and 4 books respectively made by Oribasius himself, and from various excerpts and summaries, some of which are still unpublished.

Article

G. J. Toomer and Serafina Cuomo

The most important of his surviving works is Συναγωγή (Collection), a compilation (probably made after his death) in eight books of eight originally separate treatises on different parts of the mathematical sciences. Book 8, an introduction to mechanics, is referred to as a distinct work by Eutocius, and exists as such in Arabic translation (in a fuller version than the Greek). Book 1 is missing, but was perhaps Pappus' commentary on *Euclid, Elements 10 (see below). Book 2, of which the first part is also missing, contains number exercises based on a lost work of *Apollonius (2) with a notation for expressing large numbers. Book 3 deals with geometrical problems, particularly the duplication of the cube and is addressed to a female mathematician, book 4 is on higher geometry and special curves, book 5 on isoperimetric problems and the regular and semi-regular polyhedra, book 6 a commentary on the collection of astronomical treatises known as the ‘Little [Domain] of Astronomy’ (Μικρὸς ἀστρονομούμενος).

Article

Stephen Hodkinson

Although animals were ubiquitous throughout the Greek countryside, animal husbandry has until recently received little systematic attention; hence current interpretations are frequently embryonic. Zooarchaeological studies of animal bone assemblages from the historical period are particularly needed.Evidence of domesticated animals goes back to the 7th millennium bce. In the early neolithic modest flocks of ovicaprines (sheep and goats), kept primarily for meat, were integrated into small-scale gardening, grazing on fallow and stubble and supplying manure. More specialized stock-keeping arose in the late neolithic and bronze age, with increased exploitation of ‘secondary products’, especially ox traction and ovicaprine textile fibres, culminating in the large-scale wool production of the Minoan and Mycenaean palaces (see minoan and mycenaean civilization). Older views of the Dark Age as one of nomadic pastoralism (often associated with the ‘Dorian invasions’; see dorians; heraclidae) are now under challenge. ‘Homeric society’ rested upon arable production, with large herds as a store for surplus wealth. The period of independent poleis (discussed further below) witnessed smaller herd sizes; Hellenistic and Roman Greece a subsequent increase.

Article

M. Stephen Spurr

Pastoralism, whether good, bad, or indifferent, provided the most lucrative returns, according to *Cato (Censorius) (Cicero, Off. 2. 89; Columella, Rust. 6 praef. 4–5; Plin.HN 8. 29–30). Thus scholars have traditionally focused on such profitable forms of stockbreeding (sometimes described as ‘ranching’) as *Varro's long-distance, large-scale *transhumance of sheep between *Apulia and the Abruzzi (Rust. 2. 2. 9)—entreprenerial pastoralism largely divorced from, or even in competition with, settled *agriculture, which exploited Rome's post-Hannibalic control of Italy (see punic wars; rome (history), § 1.4). More recently, evidence from archaeology (patterns of rural settlement, *villaExcavation, and analysis of animal bones and plant remains) and ethnography (the study of still-extant traditional forms of pastoralism), together with a close reading of the Roman *agricultural writers, has begun to round out the picture by emphasizing the more widespread, if less prominent, closer integration of pastoralism with agriculture. Subsistence *peasants, who owned a few sheep for clothing, milk, cheese, and manure (Columella, Rust.

Article

V. Nutton

As defined in medical handbooks from at least 150 ce onwards, pathology was that part of medicine specifically concerned with the causes of disease. As such it went beyond the observation and classification implicit in diagnosis to an identification of what might be invisible to the senses. From seeing, smelling, hearing, and touching the patient, and occasionally even tasting sweat or urine, the true physician could identify the cause of the illness, and work to eliminate or alleviate it. While this skill was used primarily in treatment, doctors might be called upon to testify in a lawcourt, and in Graeco-Roman Egypt medical certification in cases of wounding or suspicious death (POxy. 3926) was apparently a common procedure.The investigation of the causes of illness was difficult in a pre-technological age. Although *Herophilus is said to have invented a clock to time the pulse (recognized as a diagnostic guide by his master, *Praxagoras), and *Galen mentions urine being heated for examination, these are rare exceptions to what were otherwise impressionistic and qualitative judgements.

Article

John Scarborough

Paul of *Aegina, physician, died after 642 ce in *Alexandria (1). Arabic texts ascribe to Paul works on *gynaecology, toxicology, and medical practice and procedures, but extant only is his tract in seven books called the Epitome of Medicine, which borrows liberally from *Galen and *Oribasius. Paul outlines the important aspects of medicine, with his *pharmacology (bk. 7) resting on *Dioscorides (2): there are precise accounts of 90 minerals and metals, nearly 600 botanicals, and almost 200 animal products (milks to insects) used as drugs. Paul's summary of *surgery (bk. 6) had wide influence in later Arabic and Latin traditions.