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Article

Antony Spawforth

Physician and court doctor of *Ptolemy (1) IV (Philopator), follower of *Herophilus. Works: Νάρθηξ (a pharmacopoeia, with descriptions of plants and roots); Περὶ δακέτων (on snake-bites); Περὶ τῶν ψευδῶς πεπιστευμένων (against superstitious beliefs); Περὶ στεφάνων (on wreaths: all lost except for fragments). *Eratosthenes berated him as a ‘literary *Aegisthus’ (Etym.

Article

William David Ross

Aretaeus, of *Cappadocia, medical author, a contemporary of *Galen (c. 150–200 ce), wrote in Ionic in imitation of Hippocrates (2). Works (extant but incomplete): On the Causes and Symptoms of Acute and Chronic Diseases; On the Cure of Acute and Chronic Diseases; (lost) On Fevers; On Female Disorders; On Preservatives; Operations.

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

Andrew Barker

Ptolemy's Harmonics is outstanding in its field, and significant in the history of scientific thought for its sophisticated blend of rationalist and empiricist methodology. While rejecting Aristoxenian empiricism (see aristoxenus) outright, insisting with the Pythagoreans that musical structures must be analysed through the mathematics of ratio and shown to conform to ‘rational’ principles, Ptolemy criticizes the Pythagoreans for neglecting perceptual evidence: the credentials of rationally excogitated systems must ultimately be assessed by ear. He pursues this approach with meticulous attention to mathematical detail, to the minutiae of experimental procedures, and to the design and use of the special instruments they demand. Book 1 establishes the ratios of concords and melodic intervals, and divisions of tetrachords in each genus. Here and in book 2 Ptolemy's criticisms of earlier theorists preserve important information, especially about *Archytas and *Didymus (3). Book 2 analyses complete two-octave systems. Perhaps mistakenly, it dismisses as musically insignificant the contemporary conception of τόνοι as ‘keys’, thirteen (or fifteen) transpositions of identical structures: on Ptolemy's view their role is to bring different species of the octave into the same central range, and there can be only seven.

Article

G. J. Toomer and Alexander Jones

Ptolemy wrote at *Alexandria (1), between 146 ce and c.170, definitive works in many of the mathematical sciences (see mathematics), including *astronomy and *geography. Ptolemy's earliest work, the Canobic Inscription, is a (manuscript) list of astronomical constants dedicated by him in 146/7. Most of these are identical with those of the Almagest, but a few were corrected in the latter, which must have been published c.150. This, entitled μαθηματικὴ σύνταξις (‘mathematical systematic treatise’: the name ‘Almagest’ derives from the Arabic form of ἡ μεγίστη sc. σύνταξις), is a complete textbook of astronomy in thirteen books. Starting from first principles and using carefully selected observations, Ptolemy develops the theories and tables necessary for describing and computing the positions of sun, moon, the five planets and the fixed stars. The mathematical basis is the traditional epicyclic/eccentric model. In logical order, Ptolemy treats: the features of the geocentric universe and trigonometric theory and practice (book 1); spherical astronomy as related to the observer's location on earth (2); solar theory (3); lunar theory, including parallax (4 and 5); eclipses (6); the fixed stars, including a catalogue of all important stars visible from *Alexandria (1) (7 and 8); the theory of the planets in longitude (9–11); planetary stations and retrogradations (12) and planetary latitudes (13).