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Marco Formisano

In comparison with other technical and scientific disciplines, agriculture enjoyed a higher social and cultural status because of both its inherent utility for society and economy and its moral exemplarity, associated in Rome with the traditional respected “ways of the ancestors” (mos maiorum). The extant works of Cato, Varro, Columella, Gargilius Martialis, and Palladius testify to the long life of agricultural discourse throughout the history of Latin literature and beyond. While it is helpful to read these texts as belonging to a tradition, each of them has its own individual form, aims, and creative ambition.Recent studies on ancient technical and scientific texts have demonstrated that this particular strand of Greek and Roman textuality—taking as its subject matter not only arable cultivation but also livestock, arboriculture, market gardens, luxuryfoods, slave management, and villa construction—deserves much more attention than it was given in the past, when works on various fields of practical knowledge were generally dismissed both as literary texts and as historical sources: on the one hand, they seemed to show no connection with the literary prose of other genres; on the other, quite paradoxically, historians of science and technology lamented that these texts were too literary and thus of limited utility for historical reconstructions. Today, however, there is a general scholarly agreement that these texts are not to be considered as mere “manuals,” since they do indeed have a strong relationship with other literary genres, both prose and poetry, and since they create a specific textual language, one which is much more “literary” than one might at first glance expect if one focuses only on the technical knowledge contained in those books. It is as if we were to read and interpret .

Article

Edward Courtney and R. A. Kaster

Albinus (2) writer on music, geometry, and dialectic, probably identical with Ceionius Rufius Albinus (PLRE 1 ‘Albinus’ 14), the consul of ce 335, and perhaps with the poet of works entitled De metris and Res romanae; one fragment of each survives.

Article

David Whitehead

Athenaeus (2) Mechanicus is the named author of a surviving treatise On Machines; military ones, for use in siege-warfare. The work is addressed to a ‘Marcellus,’ and nowadays orthodoxy identifies him with M. Claudius Marcellus, the short-lived (42–23 bce) nephew & son-in-law of Augustus. That in turn makes it plausible that the writer himself is Athenaeus of Seleucia-on-the-Calycadnus, a Cilician Greek intellectual known to have been in Rome in the 20s, and a contemporary, in that milieu, of Vitruvius. There is indeed material common to A.’s treatise and to sections of Book 10 of Vitruvius' On Architecture—material that, it seems, they took from their teacher Agesistratus of (?)Rhodes.Short and not always coherent though it is, the On Machines has a two-fold importance. One is in the material mentioned already: Athenaeus and Vitruvius in tandem (together with a middle-Byzantine version of the same material) provide a succinct but useful summary history of military machinery from its beginnings to the early Hellenistic period, highlighting especially the mechanici who served Alexander the Great.

Article

Gaius Plinius Secundus, prominent Roman equestrian, from Novum *Comum in Gallia Cisalpina (see gaul (cisalpine)), commander of the fleet at *Misenum, and uncle of *Pliny (2) the Younger, best known as the author of the 37-book Naturalis Historia, an encyclopaedia of all contemporary knowledge—animal, vegetable, and mineral—but with much that is human included too: natura, hoc est vita, narratur (‘Nature, which is to say Life, is my subject’, pref. 13).Characteristic of his age and background in his range of interests and diverse career, Pliny obtained an equestrian command through the patronage of Q. Pomponius Secundus (consul 41), and served in Germany, alongside the future emperor *Titus. Active in legal practice in the reign of *Nero, he was then promoted by the favour of the Flavians (and probably the patronage of *Licinius Mucianus, whose works he also often quotes) through a series of high procuratorships (including that of Hispania *Tarraconensis), in which he won a reputation for integrity.

Article

Alexander Hugh McDonald and Antony Spawforth

Trogus Pompeius, a Romanized Vocontian from Gallia Narbonensis (see gaul (transalpine)), author of zoological, and perhaps botanical works, now lost, and the Philippic Histories (Historiae Philippicae), usually dated to the reign of *Augustus and known only through the *epitome of *Justin and the tables of contents (prologi). Beginning with the ancient Near East and Greece (bks. 1–6), he covered Macedon (bks. 7–12) and the Hellenistic kingdoms to their fall before Rome (bks. 13–40); books 41–2 contained Parthian history to 20 bce, books 43–4 the regal period of Rome, and Gallic and Spanish history to Augustus' Spanish wars. His sources continue to be debated. Although heavy or even exclusive reliance on *Timagenes of Alexandria is now thought unlikely, he may have used extensively the Histories of *Posidonius (2), perhaps through an intermediary source.

Article

Ravenna Cosmographer is an anonymous author of a Latin compilation commonly dated to the late 600s to early 700s. The Cosmographer describes the inhabited world, beginning with some theoretical questions and a general overview of the twelve southern and twelve northern regions (Book 1). His extensive lists of locations (Books 2–5) include over 5,000 place names, many otherwise unattested. Following earlier Christian authors such as Orosius, the Cosmographer incorporates Greco-Roman knowledge about the Earth into the framework of Christian scholarship. He cites the Bible and Christian theologians, and he mentions many secular authorities whose names only occur in this text. Although the Cosmographer never acknowledges his use of maps or itineraries, the forms of place names and the arrangement of toponyms by routes in Books 2–5 indicate that he was familiar with these sources. The similarities and differences to the Peutinger Map displayed by the text suggest that these works belong to different branches of the tradition, which ultimately goes back to a common exemplar. The Cosmography preserves the rich legacy of Roman and early medieval geographical knowledge, and its challenging material calls for a fresh examination.