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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.

Article

*Proclus describes him as the discoverer of the sections of the σπεῖρα (tore or anchor-ring).

Article

John Scarborough

From earliest times, drugs formed an important part of *medicine, and *Homer has the first record of good drugs and bad drugs (poisons). Folklore incorporated many data on toxic substances, and in the legends Homer's *Circe and *Euripides' *Medea link *magic with poisons. Yet simultaneously there is another understanding of drugs and their actions: Pindar (Pyth. 3. 51–3) reflects *Asclepius' medicine as curative with drugs, surgery, and magical incantations. Drugs were contrasted to foods, but ancient thought overlapped the two, much as moderns fuse medical and culinary uses of *spices. Mycenaean Linear B tablets (see pre-alphabetic scripts (greece)) record prized spices (e.g. saffron, cumin, etc. ), and they were basic in drug lore throughout antiquity. Pharmaceuticals included animal products (*honey, beeswax, blister beetle solutions, fats, marrows, bloods, etc. ), as well as oil seeds (e.g. sesame, linseed (flax)); odours identified specific cheeses, taste determined high-quality drugstuffs, and the study of aromatics led to the widespread production of perfumes, exotic and otherwise (Theophrastus, On Odours).

Article

Philinus (1) of Co (fl. c. 240 BCE), an apostate pupil of *Herophilus. According to most ancient sources—A. *Cornelius Celsus (Med. prooem. 10) being the only significant exception—he was the founder of the Empiricist ‘school’ of medicine. The origins of the Empiricist school in a polemical rivalry with Herophileans become visible in his works. He rejected a conspicuous feature of the Herophilean tradition, namely the diagnostic and prognostic interpretation of pulse ‘signs', and wrote a treatise in six books in response to *Bacchius’ Hippocratic lexicon. Like many subsequent Empiricists, he also made major contributions to *pharmacology, as *Pliny (1) the Elder and *Galen confirm. Here, too, Philinus was attentive to language, introducing etymologizing explanations of the names of botanical ingredients. Some of his compound drug prescriptions were transmitted by Andro-machus the Younger and are preserved by Galen.To what extent Galen's detailed characterizations of the epistemological and methodological foundations of medical Empiricism (e.g. their famous ‘tripod’) apply to Philinus, remains uncertain in the absence of more specific evidence. Also uncertain is whether the Empiricist is identical with a Philinus who wrote in the theriac tradition. See medicine§5.

Article

Philippus was thought by some (Diog. Laert. 3. 37) to have transcribed the Laws of his teacher *Plato (1) and to have written the Epinomis. He is probably the Philippus who composed an astronomical calendar (see astronomy) and primitive shadow-tables.

Article

Physician and perhaps a contemporary of *Plato (1) (c.427–347 bce), provides important evidence for early medical theory outside the Hippocratic corpus (see hippocrates(2)). According to *Callimachus (3) (in Diog. Laert. 8. 86) he was a teacher of *Eudoxus (1) of Cnidus. None of his work survives intact but he is connected doctrinally by *Galen with an influential group of Sicilian doctors, and especially with *Empedocles. Galen notes that he was regarded by some as the author of the Hippocratic treatises Regimen, and Regimen in Health. Like Empedocles, he posited four *elements, fire, earth, air, and water, and the related qualities hot, dry, cold, and moist. The author of the Anonymus Londinensis papyrus preserves (20. 25) Philistion's view that disease could be the result either of an imbalance of these elements within the body, or of respiratory dysfunction leading to morbid internal air blockages, or be caused by external factors such as physical trauma. He apparently wrote extensively on *dietetics, and his treatments for a variety of disorders are quoted by a number of later authorities including *Athenaeus (3), Galen, and *Oribasius (frs.

Article

Philolaus wrote one book which was probably the first by a Pythagorean (see pythagoras(1)). He was a contemporary of *Socrates and is mentioned in *Plato (1)'s Phaedo (61 d6) as arguing that *suicide is not permissible. A consensus has emerged that, although many of the fragments are from spurious works, some fragments from the genuine book survive (1–7, 13, 17). These show that Philolaus' book was the primary source for *Aristotle's account of Pythagoreanism and influenced Plato's Philebus. The book contained a cosmogony and presented astronomical, psychological, and medical theories. Philolaus argued that the cosmos and everything in it was made up not just of the unlimiteds (continua that are in themselves without limit, e.g. earth or void) used as elements by other Presocratics, but also of limiters (things that set limits in a continuum, e.g. shapes). These elements are held together in a harmonia (‘fitting together’) which comes to be in accord with pleasing mathematical relationships. Secure knowledge is possible in so far as we grasp the number in accordance with which things are put together. Philolaus was the first to make the earth a planet. Along with the fixed stars, five planets, sun, moon, and a counter-earth (thus making the perfect number ten), the earth orbits the central fire.

Article

G. J. Toomer and Serafina Cuomo

Philon wrote a mechanical Syntaxis in nine (?) books, of which survive: book 4, βελοποιικά, on catapults (see artillery); book 5, πνευματικά (in Arabic translation, itself partially translated into Latin), on the construction of devices worked by the action of heated air and fluids (see physics); parts of book 7, παρασκευαστικά, and of book 8, πολιορκητικά, on siege works and operations. The lost book 6, on automata-making, is referred to by Heron (ed. Schmidt 1. 404 ff.). Book 1 may have contained a general introduction to the Syntaxis, including geometrical problems of general use and in particular the earliest extant solution to the duplication of the cube (also extant in Bel. 7). Both Belopoeica and the book on fortifications provide insights into the Hellenistic military revolution and the technicians behind it. Philon describes himself as part of a community of experts, active across the Mediterranean at the service of various monarchs. His work on catapults seems addressed to a potential patron, and emphasizes practical aspects, including costs, of the weapons he describes, as well as their theoretical background, including a potted history of how crucial discoveries about catapult design were made in time, at the hands of not one person, but successive generations of practitioners.

Article

Philonides of Laodicea-on-Sea, in Syria, was an Epicurean philosopher of the 2nd century bce. He was first a student of some geometers (a Eudemus and a Dionysodorus) and then became a student of the Epicurean Artemon. He also studied with Basilides, scholarch of the Athenian Garden from about 205 bce. One of the papyri preserved in the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum (PHerc. 1044) contains a biography. It is disputed whether Philonides was a practising geometer who attempted to reconcile his study of mathematics with his Epicurean commitment to the existence of partless but extended spatial minima. Most likely, he adopted an orthodox Epicurean position on these matters.

Philonides of Laodicea-on-Sea, in Syria, was an Epicurean philosopher of the 2nd century bce. One of the papyri preserved in the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum (PHerc. 1044) contains his biography. The text was published first by Walter Crönert and re-edited more recently by Italo Gallo.

Article

William David Ross

Member of the eclectic school of medicine, c.ce 180. An excerpt from his work De Venenatis Animalibus (on poisonous animals), the basis of the thirteenth book of *Aelian, has been edited by M. Wellmann in CMG (1908). He also wrote a book on diseases of the bowels (only part extant, in a Latin trans., ed. Michaeleanu, 1910), and one Περὶ γυναικείων (on gynaecology, not extant).

Article

physics  

J. T. Vallance

Physics today involves the investigation of the nature and behaviour of matter and energy, and it is often thus distinguished from chemistry and biology. The same term, derived from the Greek word for ‘nature’, ‘physis’, is used to describe a number of ancient inquiries, including peri physeos historia (the inquiry into nature), ‘ta physika’ (natural things) and physikē [sc. epistēmē], where no such distinction is implied. These ancient expressions are to some extent context-relative and they covered a range of interests far wider than that encompassed by modern physics. ‘Theory of Nature’ might be a reasonable general characterization of ancient physics. Notably, for some ancient authorities ‘physics’ explicitly excluded mathematics and even mathematical attempts at modelling nature. For early doctors physical inquiry was equivalent to what we might now call physiology; the cognate terms in English, ‘physic’ and ‘physician’, tend to relate, on the other hand, to the practice of what is now called pathology.

Article

M. Michela Sassi

Physiognomy, the art of observing and making inferences from physical features of the body, was practised from c.1,500 bce (when it is mentioned in Mesopotamian handbooks on divination). A focus on personal character (and a reflection on the relation between physical and psychical facts) seems to be a Greek innovation. *Aristotle attempted to give an inductive basis to assertions of the interdependence of body and *soul (An. pr. 70b7); and the Historia animalium provided empirical evidence that corroborated early ideas about moral types among animals. In the first extant treatise on the subject, the Physiognomonica (a Peripatetic work of the 3rd cent. bce long attributed to Aristotle), the comparison with animal, racial, and gender types presupposes that moral perfection is embodied in the (free) male Greek citizen. This treatise is the forerunner of a tradition embracing M. Antonius *Polemon (4) in the 2nd cent. ce and Adamantius in the 4th, as well as medieval and modern writers.

Article

Physiologus (‘the Natural Scientist’), an exposition of the marvellous properties of some 50 animals, plants, and stones, with a Christian interpretation of each (e.g. the pelican, which kills its offspring then revives them after three days with its own blood, figures the salvation of mankind through the Crucifixion). Both place and date of composition are disputed: perhaps Syria, perhaps Egypt; perhaps as late as the 4th cent. ce, perhaps (more likely?) as early as the 2nd. In any event, the work draws heavily on earlier traditions of Greek natural historical writing, particularly that of the *paradoxographers, with their concentration on the marvellous in nature and on occult natural sympathies and antipathies. The physiologus of the title is not the (entirely anonymous) author, but the (equally anonymous) authority from whom he claims to derive his information; it is however unclear whether he drew on a single proximate source or on several. No neat separation of the entries into borrowed (pagan) ‘information’ and superimposed Christian interpretation is possible, as in many cases the ‘information’ has already been reshaped to fit its new context (e.g. in the highlighting of the number three, to allow reference to the Trinity and the three days of the Passion).