201-220 of 266 Results  for:

  • Science, Technology, and Medicine x
Clear all

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).

Article

plague  

Robert Sallares

Plague (λοιμός Lat. pestis), a term confusingly employed by ancient historians to designate epidemics of infectious *diseases. Epidemics in antiquity were not necessarily caused by the disease now called plague (Yersinia pestis), although *Rufus of Ephesus cites some evidence for true plague in Hellenistic Egypt and Syria. True plague was also the cause of the plague of *Justinian in the 6th cent. ce. The major epidemic diseases are density-dependent. The ‘plague of Athens’ (see below) was an isolated event in Greek history, but there is more evidence for great epidemics during the Roman Empire. This increase in frequency was a consequence of *population growth in antiquity. Most of the epidemics described by Roman historians, e.g. *Livy who relied on the annalistic tradition, are described so briefly that there is no hope of identifying the diseases in question. Epidemics are neglected in the major theoretical works of ancient medicine (the Hippocratic corpus (see hippocrates(2)) and *Galen) because doctors had no knowledge of the existence of micro-organisms and had difficulty applying the types of explanation they favoured (in terms of the diet and lifestyle of individuals; also, later, the theory of the four *humours) to mass outbreaks of disease.

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

M. Stephen Spurr

‘What is good cultivation? Good ploughing.’ (Cato, Agr. 61. 1; see porcius cato(1), m., Appendix). While ploughing was of paramount importance for the intensive *villa agriculture described by the Roman agricultural writers, *Pliny (1) the Elder's observation that mountain peoples ‘ploughed’ with hoes (HN 18. 176) indicates that ploughs were common enough elsewhere. Roman ploughs were ards (which worked the soil without turning the sod, cf. *Columella, Rust. 2. 2. 25), sole-ards being common to Mediterranean regions, beam-ards to northern provinces. *Peasants might possess an inexpensive plough drawn by the versatile ass (cf. Plin. HN 8. 167; Columella, Rust. 7. 1. 2). Villas bred oxen of different sizes and used a variety of ploughs and detachable ploughshares for diverse soils, crops (e.g. the smallest ploughs for fenugreek, Columella Rust. 2. 10. 33), and ploughing operations (e.g. working the soil in the vineyard, ColumellaRust.

Article

pneuma  

J. T. Vallance

Pneuma (πνεῦμα, Lat. spiritus) is connected etymologically with πνέω, breathe or blow, and has a basic meaning of ‘air in motion’, or ‘breath’ as something necessary to life. In Greek tragedy it is used of the ‘breath of life’ and it is the ‘Spirit’ of the New Testament. In early Greek thought pneuma is often connected with the *soul; in *Aristotle it frequently denotes ‘warm air’, sometimes ‘heat’, and the term is also used of seismic winds which are trapped within the earth. Its precise meaning, then, must always be determined in its context. The word may have been used first by *Anaximenes (1) of Miletus to describe both elemental air in motion in the world, and ‘psychic air’ in man. ‘Psychic pneuma’ also constitutes the soul and underlies sensory and motor activities in a number of ancient medical theories. In Hippocratic and post-Hippocratic writings (see hippocrates(2)) it is widely used of inspired air or breath inside the body, with no apparent reference to any particular theory.

Article

Sylvia Berryman

A branch of the ancient Greek mechanical art, roughly concerned with the movement of fluids and the ways that its properties could be used to produce effects, whether lifting water, holding it suspended, or producing surprise effects that imitate the motions of living beings in theatrical displays. Water-driven timepieces and a steam-powered turbine are included in this branch.A number of early experiments in this area were aimed at establishing the corporeality of air—Anaxagoras, for instance, is credited with a test involving the lowering of a tube closed at its upper end into water, to show that the water’s entrance into the tube is somehow blocked by the air contained in the tube (DK 59A69). Many other such early investigations by natural philosophers were concerned with the explanation of biological phenomena such as respiration and the propulsion of fluids through the body, often by analogy with other more readily visible processes such as the operation of the water clock or klepsydra (see clocks), which features in the Empedoclean account of the mechanics of respiration (DK 31B100; see empedocles).

Article

J. T. Vallance

Term used in antiquity to describe a group of doctors influenced by Stoic *physics (see stoicism), but also continuing an important Hippocratic tradition (see hippocrates(2)) which underlined the importance of *pneuma in explanations of psychological, physiological, and pathological phenomena. (The spurious Hippocratic treatise on Nutriment which may date to the 1st cent. bce is often thought to show their influence.) Their founder was probably *Athenaeus (3) of Attaleia, and other influential doctors from this far from monolithic sect included *Archigenes of Apamea, *Agathinus of Sparta, *Aretaeus of Cappadocia, and *Herodotus (2) the Doctor. None of their works survive. They are associated with the division of the art of medicine into parts corresponding to the Stoic division of the parts of dialectic, along with much highly elaborate work on the nature and classification of the pulse, and with a lively interest in doxography. They had a reputation as eclectics and *Galen shows them a certain amount of sympathy.

Article

Hippocratic physician, and according to one tradition the son-in-law of *Hippocrates (2) himself. Attempts have been made to assign authorship of various Hippocratic treatises to him (eg. parts of On the Nature of Man, On Birth in the Eighth Month). His view that all blood vessels originate in the head is quoted by *Aristotle (Hist. an. 511b24–513a7), and some of this material is repeated in more detail in the Hippocratic treatises On the Nature of Bones (9. 174–8 Littré) and On the Nature of Man (6. 58–60 Littré). There is a somewhat garbled account of his pathological system—in which diseases are caused by imbalances of blood, phlegm, and bile—in the Anonymus Londinensis papyrus, 19. 1 ff.

Article

The polychromy of Greek and Etrusco-Roman architecture comprises the chromatic effects and surface treatments of exterior façades and roofs, as well as interior floors, walls, and ceilings. Colour and/or contrasts of light and shadow are the basis for all architectural ornamentation. The practice is characterized by a large variety of materials and techniques, which draw from different genres of the visual arts such as stone, plaster and stucco working, toreutics, tessellation, sculpture, panel painting, terracotta, and glass making. The treatment of architectural surfaces is thus intimately connected to changes in both construction knowledge and building economies, while their visual effects depend on changing architectural forms and designs. Both texts and archaeological remains underline the importance of colour and material as an integral part of ancient architectural design; they play a key role for the sensory and atmospheric experience of architecture and could influence its symbolic meaning.Despite strong regional traditions and a general lack of standardization, a few overall developments can be pinpointed: a triple colour scheme of dark (black, blue), light (white, cream), and red hues dominated both Archaic Greek and Etrusco-Italic architectural polychromy; its chromatic polarity became fundamental for the Greek Doric order and, as a basic combination, it remained a recurring motif of architectural surfaces into the Roman Imperial periods. During the Greek Classical period, green, yellow, and increasingly, gilding joined the basic colour palette. Late Classical/Hellenistic innovations included illusionistic painting techniques, intermediality (the imitation of one material by means of another), as well as the increase of light and shadow effects. While variation (Greek poikilia) of both colours and materials was a guiding principle, it seems that there were also occasional reductions of polychrome accentuations on exteriors.

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

Andrew Barker

Like many philosophers and Christian fathers, Porphyry was suspicious of real *music but not of musical theory. The introduction to his incomplete Commentary on Ptolemy's Harmonics explains why he chose to work on *Ptolemy rather than other theorists, but not why he thought any treatise in this science worth his attention. Having accused Ptolemy of borrowing heavily from unacknowledged sources, he names many earlier writers in the course of his work and quotes lavishly from their writings, so preserving much important material (selections translated in A. Barker, Greek Musical Writings 2 (1989)). His commentary is the platform for significant ideas of his own, especially in epistemology and on issues related to *Aristotle's theory of the categories.

Article

David William John Gill

Petrographical and chemical analysis are the two main ways to characterize pottery. The former treats the pottery as a geological sediment which has been used for a particular purpose. Thus by scanning thin sections of pottery under a polarizing microscope, mineral inclusions can be visually identified; this allows a parallel to be drawn with other ceramic material, which may lead in turn to an identification of the clay source. This technique is particularly useful for coarse wares such as transport *amphorae. However in the case of fine pottery where inclusions have been removed, the clay can be treated as a bulk material. The sample can be studied by three main means: neutron activation analysis, optical emission spectroscopy, and atomic absorption spectrophotometry. In addition to the three main elements within clay (silicon, aluminium, and oxygen), an analysis will seek to determine the percentage of other elements in the composition: iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and titanium. These proportions can then be plotted and the results compared with other tests from pottery or indeed from clay sources.

Article

J. T. Vallance

Praxagoras of Cos, a physician of the second half of the 4th cent. bce. He is known only through the testimony of others, but it seems likely that he was a teacher of the great anatomist *Herophilus of Chalcedon, and what little is known of him suggests that he was himself an anatomist of importance. *Galen rather grudgingly acknowledges this, at the same time attacking his view that the nerves originate in the heart. He made important observations about the connection of the brain and spinal cord, and drew a distinction (perhaps being the first to do so) between veins and arteries, and their functions. He argued that the venous vascular system carried blood around the body, the arterial, *pneuma. Details are lacking, but blood was apparently a product of healthy digestion, and pneuma was derived from inspired air, supplemented possibly by certain gaseous by-products of digestion. Pneuma assumed a special status in Praxagoras' physiology, and was associated with the generation and communication of movement both in the arteries and the heart, and throughout the body.

Article

Ptolemaïs of *Cyrene (perhaps early 1st cent. ce), antiquity's only known woman musicologist (see music), wrote an ‘introductory treatise’, Pythagorean Elements of Music, in question-and-answer form (see pythagoras(1)). Quotations in *Porphyry, On Ptolemy's Harmonics (see ptolemy(4)) concern distinctions between schools of harmonic theory (especially Pythagorean and Aristoxenian; see aristoxenus), focusing on controversies about the roles of reason and perception.

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).

Article

Charles H. Kahn and Fritz Graf

Pythagoras, son of Mnesarchus, one of the most mysterious and influential figures in Greek intellectual history, was born in *Samos in the mid-6th cent. bce and migrated to *Croton in c.530 bce. There he founded the sect or society that bore his name, and that seems to have played an important role in the political life of *Magna Graecia for several generations. Pythagoras himself is said to have died as a refugee in Metapontum. Pythagorean political influence is attested well into the 4th cent., with *Archytas of Tarentum.

The name of Pythagoras is connected with two parallel traditions, one religious and one scientific. On the religious aspects, see below. Pythagoras seems to have become a legendary figure in his own lifetime and was identified by some with the *Hyperborean*Apollo. His supernatural status was confirmed by a golden thigh, the gift of bilocation, and the capacity to recall his previous incarnations. Classical authors imagine him studying in Egypt; in the later tradition he gains universal wisdom by travels in the east. Pythagoras becomes the pattern of the ‘divine man’: at once a sage, a seer, a teacher, and a benefactor of the human race.

Article

Hazel Dodge

Stone was an important material in both the Greek and Roman periods, not only for building, but also for decoration, sculpture, and vases. Whatever the stone, its geology defines the quarrying methodology and its subsequent uses. The Greeks started to extract stone by quarrying from the 7th cent. bce. Blocks were isolated by trenches using a quarry hammer. Metal wedges were then used to split them from the parent rock. The natural cleaving planes of the stone were at all times exploited. Open quarrying was preferred on grounds of ease and expense. However, if the good-quality material ran out above ground, underground workings were often opened, for example in the marble quarries of *Paros and the limestone ‘La Pyramide’ quarries near *Glanum. The Romans continued to use the same quarrying methods, also adopting some Egyptian techniques—for example the use of wooden wedges. However, the major difference between Greek and Roman quarrying was the scale of exploitation. The building records from Athens and *Epidaurus clearly demonstrate the piecemeal nature of Greek quarrying.

Article

Quintus  

William David Ross and V. Nutton

Quintus, Hippocratic (see hippocrates (2)), anatomist and physician of the eclectic school in Rome, in the age of *Hadrian (117–38 ce), and pupil of *Marinus. He founded an important medical school, to which the teachers of *Galen belonged. Later he was driven out of Rome and died in Pergamum. He left no written works, but his anatomical teaching had great influence, e.g. on Galen.

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.