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Article

Kevin Greene

Modern definitions of technology focus upon the mechanical arts or applied sciences, while studies of invention and innovation range from industrial research and development laboratories to business management. They underline the difficulty of addressing ancient technology with concepts relevant to antiquity. Lynn White Jr. observed that ‘no Greek or Roman ever told us, either in words or in iconography, what he or his society wanted from technology, or why they wanted it’, and the problem of definition is exacerbated by relative judgements made about its success or failure. Although concepts of progress can be found in ancient philosophy, a long consensus amongst historians of technology was that the few items that can be claimed as Greek or Roman inventions were not exploited, and that this failure was attributable to social factors. A potent assertion maintained by many commentators on supposed advances in medieval technology is that Rome could not be liberated from animism before its conversion to Christianity, after which labour and production began to be valued. As with ‘Darwinian’ concepts of ancient technology which assume that technical progress was a natural path of development towards the Industrial Revolution, such monocausal explanations are unsatisfactory on empirical and theoretical grounds. If we must judge ancient technology, should success be measured by showing that inventions known from documentary sources actually existed, or should we demand that they were widely and productively employed? Whose needs should we consider—the state, the army, a social élite, or the multitude?Most elements of Graeco-Roman technology were either inherited from prehistoric times, or adopted from ‘barbarian’ peoples.

Article

William David Ross

Teucer (4) of Babylon (probably the Babylon in Egypt), astrologer, is conjectured to belong to the 1st cent. ce. He expounded the traditional astrology of Egypt and united with it oriental and Greek elements. He had a great influence on Arabian and medieval *astrology, through his description of the *constellations.

Article

Wilbur R. Knorr and Reviel Netz

Theaetetus (c. 415–369 bce) of Athens, geometer, initiated the special definitions and theory of irrational lines fundamental for book 10 of Euclid's Elements (cf. Eudemus, cited by Pappus, ed. Junge and Thomson, 63–4); one infers that he formulated a proportion theory based on the Euclidean division (anthyphairesis) and perhaps also set out the associated number theory of Elements, book 7.

Article

J. T. Vallance

Themison of *Laodicea (probably Lycus), a pupil of *Asclepiades(3) of Bithynia, probably lived towards the end of the 1st cent. bce and spent at least part of his working life in Rome. None of his writings survives, and attempts to associate certain anonymous collections of medical texts with his name have been largely unsuccessful. Some sources insist he was the founder of Methodism (see medicine, § 5.3), but *Thessalus (2) of Tralles may have a stronger claim. Galen frequently underlines similarities between Themison's and Thessalus' medical theory and practice, but later Methodist doctors, especially Caelius Aurelianus, are at pains to distance Themison from the early history of their sect, claiming that his ideas about theory and practice were much closer to those of Asclepiades. It seems unlikely that he went as far as Thessalus in claiming that the diseased body presented to the doctor two phenomenally evident common states from which the indication for treatment followed directly. No surviving Methodist source has much praise for Themison, generally on account of his attitude to the role of theory, but he is credited with the authorship of the first work on chronic diseases, a form particularly favoured by some Methodist physicians.

Article

Theodorus (2) (fl. late 5th cent. bce) of *Cyrene, geometer, portrayed in *Plato(1)'s Theaetetus as a former disciple of *Protagoras, an associate of *Socrates, and a teacher of *Theaetetus. Plato describes him as showing the irrationality of √3, √5, etc. up to √17 (Tht.

Article

Theodosius (4) of Bithynia, astronomer and mathematician (fl. c.100 bce), wrote three treatises on elementary ‘spherics’: Σφαιρικά, in three books, dealing with great and small circles on the sphere; Περὶ οἰκήσεων (‘On Habitations’), on the variations in celestial phenomena at different terrestrial latitudes; and Περὶ ἡμερῶν καὶ νυκτῶν (‘On Days and Nights’), in two books, on the variations in the length of day and night resulting from the sun's travel through the zodiac.

Article

Theon of *Alexandria (1) (fl. 364 ce), mathematical commentator. Extant works are (1) a commentary on *Ptolemy (4)'s Almagest (the sections on bk. 11 and parts of other books are lost); (2) a large commentary on the Handy Tables of Ptolemy; (3) a small introduction to the Handy Tables. He also produced ‘editions’ (i.e. trivial reworkings) of (a) *Euclid (Elements, Data, and Optics); (b) Ptolemy's Handy Tables, which exist only in Theon's version. Theon was competent in mathematics, but completely unoriginal; his importance lies in his role in the preservation and transmission of older works. It was in his version that Ptolemy's astronomical tables were known to Islamic science, whence they passed to medieval Europe.

Article

Thessalus of *Cos (fl. late 5th cent. bce), according to some a ‘son of Hippocrates’ (see hippocrates(2)). Next to nothing is known of him, yet attempts were made in later antiquity by *Galen and others to attribute certain Hippocratic works to him, including parts of the Epidemics, On Nutriment, and In the Surgery.

Article

A doctor from *Tralles. He worked in Rome and was probably dead by ce 79. None of his writings survive, but he is often mentioned by other medical writers. *Galen (10. 7 Kühn) claims that he wrote to *Nero boasting of founding ‘a new sect, and the only true one’. *Pliny(1) (HN 29. 9) says that he described himself as the ‘conqueror of physicians’. The new sect was ‘Methodism’ (see medicine, §. 5. 3); it is a matter of some doubt whether he actually founded it or not and his own debt to *Themison of Laodicea is unclear. (Although some later Methodists certainly saw him as some kind of forerunner, if not founder.) The method of Methodism was a treatment which involved rectifying one of two phenomenally evident abnormal states in the affected body, stricture or flux (or in some cases a combination of the two). Methodists like *Soranus of Ephesus stressed the importance of independence from theory, and one important Methodist source, Caelius Aurelianus, attacks Thessalus for being too theoretical in his account of the background to the method.

Article

A. T. Grafton

Ancient culture knew a range of expedients for dividing the twenty-four hours of the day, for marking the succession of days in the month or year, and for dating important historical events. *Hesiod already used the rising of particular *constellations to mark the changing seasons, and ascribed propitious and unpropitious qualities to the days of the month that corresponded to the phases of the moon. By the 5th cent. bce, Athenian astronomers—like their Babylonian colleagues—knew that the lunar month is approximately 29½ and the tropical year approximately 365¼ days long, and could divide the day and night up into twelve ‘seasonal’ hours that varied with the length of daylight. Astronomers (see astronomy) from *Meton to *Hipparchus (3) and *Ptolemy (4) developed increasingly accurate luni-solar cycles and learned to explain and predict solar and lunar *eclipses. They also created parapēgmata, or public calendars, which traced the risings and settings of stars and predicted weather throughout the year.

Article

G. J. Toomer and Alexander Jones

Timocharis, astronomer at *Alexandria (1), made observations between 295 and 272 bce reported by *Ptolemy(4). These record positions of the moon and Venus with respect to fixed stars. He also recorded star declinations, used later by *Hipparchus(3) and Ptolemy (Almagest 7. 3); some are attributed to Aristyllus (RE3), who seems to have been his associate.

Article

Nicholas Purcell

The wheel played a prominent role in traction in the ancient Mediterranean lands (contrast its absence in pre-Columbian societies of the Americas). It is more difficult to gauge its economic and social efficacy.The role of chariots in the poems of *Homer (an echo of the late 2nd-millennium fashion for this form of warfare, also apparent in Indian epic), established an élite function for light wheeled vehicles: this was reinforced by their use for a variety of ritual movements of cult-personnel or objects. Such vehicles were essentially for use over short distances, whether in war or religion. The war-chariot continued to be of social and military significance in the La Tène cultures (cf. that of the *Vix burial, c.500 bce; see also celts), which may have had some influence on Italic and Roman practice, in which the tensa for religious images, and carpentum or pilentum for privileged participants (such as matronae from 395 bce, Livy 5.

Article

Nathan Camillo Sidoli

The development of trigonometry as a branch of mathematics was a combined effort of mathematical scholars working in a number of different languages and cultures, over many centuries. The first texts containing trigonometric computations are found in Greek sources, although these do not contain the trigonometric functions we now use. The introduction of the trigonometric functions is found in Sanskrit sources, and scholars working in Arabic composed the first works devoted entirely to trigonometry, adopting and expanding on the work of their Greek and Sanskrit sources. The word trigonometry itself was a neologism of Latin scholars, whose treatises developed this field as an independent branch of mathematics, adopting and extending previous Arabic works.

Trigonometry was not regarded as an independent branch of mathematics in the ancient period—the word itself is an early modern neologism and does not translate any ancient expression. Ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources—which do not introduce angles—appear to have handled the mensuration of triangles, and slopes, through the ratios of the sides of normalized triangles. The preserved texts of these cultures contain some tables that might be regarded as trigonometric, but computations that are clearly trigonometric have not yet been found in these texts.

Article

Edward Togo Salmon and Nicholas Purcell

Vesuvius, the famous volcano on the bay of Naples, rises isolated out of the surrounding plain of *Campania. Its base is some 48 km. (30 mi.) in circumference, its central cone over 1,216 m. (4,000 ft.) high, and its general appearance picturesque since the mountain-sides have been largely blown away. Vesuvius is mentioned only twice during the Roman republic: in the Latin War of 340, where the allusion (Livy, 8. 8. 19) seems erroneous, and in the revolt of *Spartacus, who used its crater as a stronghold in 73. It appeared extinct (Diod. 4. 21. 5), and its fertile slopes were extensively cultivated, with vineyards mostly (Strabo 5. 4. 8, 247). On 5 February ce 63 a damaging earthquake presaged the first recorded eruption, the severe one of 24 August 79 that buried *Pompeii in sand, stones, and mud, *Herculaneum in liquid tufa, and *Stabiae in ashes, asphyxiated *Pliny(1) the Elder, and is described by *Pliny(2) the Younger, an eyewitness, in letters to *Tacitus(1) (Ep.

Article

Liliane Bodson

Veterinary medicine deals with treatments, cures, and all the other means by which the health of livestock may be preserved or restored. It is rooted in the early management of stock breeding, when rearers had to initiate medical care for their herds. As a recognized profession, veterinarians are mentioned in the early second millennium bce in Mesopotamia (Code of Hammurabi, reign: 1792–1750 bce) as well as in ancient Egypt (papyrus of Kahun, 12th dynasty: c.1850 bce). The earliest Greek evidence so far discovered for veterinarians called hippiatroi (horse doctors) is an honorific inscription of c.130 bce. In Rome, an equarius medicus (horse doctor) is attested by the end of the 1st cent. bce. Afterwards, terms such as mulomedicus (mule doctor), medicus veterinarius, medicus iumentarius, or medicus pecuarius (livestock doctor) are attested in the late-Roman empire, albeit rarely. The usual names for veterinarians in both Greek and Latin focus primarily on the treatment of horses and equids. These animals, together with oxen, were essential to the general economy, civilian and military transportation, wars, etc. , and therefore the most carefully looked after (see transport, wheeled).

Article

Antony Spawforth

Vettius Valens, Greek astrologer from *Antioch(1), wrote (between 152 ce and 162) the Anthologies, an extant nine-book treatise on *astrology, preserving the only major collection of Greek horoscopes (c.130) outside the papyri; it was heavily used in the Middle Ages.

Article

Richard Allan Tomlinson and J. T. Vallance

Vitruvius (Pol(l)io) (See mamurra), a Roman architect and military engineer, in which capacity he served *Caesar. He built a basilica at *Fanum Fortunae; but his fame rests chiefly on a treatise, De architectura, on architecture and engineering, compiled partly from his own experience, partly from work by *Hermogenes(1) (to whom he is heavily indebted) and other Greek authors to which his own experiences have been added, sometimes in a disjointed fashion. It is hardly a handbook for *architects: rather a book for people who need to understand architecture. Perhaps its main function was place-seeking from Octavian (see augustus), to whom it is addressed. His outlook is essentially Hellenistic, and there is a marked absence of reference to important buildings of *Augustus' reign, though he knows of Roman technical developments, such as concrete construction (which he mistrusts). De architectura, the only work of its kind which has survived, is divided into ten books. Book 1 treats of town-planning, architecture in general, and of the qualifications proper in an architect; 2 of building-materials; 3 and 4 of temples and of the ‘orders’ (see orders, architectural; 5 of other civic buildings; 6 of domestic buildings; 7 of pavements and decorative plaster-work; 8 of water-supplies; 9 of geometry, mensuration, *astronomy, etc.

Article

J. T. Vallance

Squeamishness about the dissection (let alone vivisection) of animals is a mark of much ancient medicine and zoology, and there is no firm evidence for vivisection in those Hippocratic works (see hippocrates(2)) which are generally dated to the 5th or 4th cent. bce. (The passage in the Hippocratic treatise On the Heart describing the vivisection of a pig (9. 80 Littré) is generally dated to the 3rd cent. bce.) Physicians and zoologists from *Aristotle onwards do, however, seem to have vivisected animals and in some cases even humans. Practitioners themselves rarely show signs of concern with the morality of causing animals suffering in the name of knowledge, although such concern was voiced in other quarters (see animals, attitudes to and knowledge about).Two ancient physicians are notoriously connected with the practice of human vivisection. A. *Cornelius Celsus reports that the Alexandrian anatomists *Herophilus and *Erasistratus vivisected criminals provided for them by the king (see anatomy and physiology, § IV).

Article

wind  

Liba Taub

In classical times, wind was in some cases understood to be a god, or as being under the influence of a god; it was understood by some to be a phenomenon liable to prediction and/or explanation as a natural (often regarded as seismic) phenomenon. Wind was important for navigation, agriculture and town planning, as well as managing health and disease.Wind, and both its beneficial and destructive powers, features importantly in the earliest Greek texts. Individual winds are themselves gods, or associated with gods. The epic poets offer names for several specific winds: Boreas (the north wind; Op. 505–518), Notus (south), and Zephyrus (west) are described by Hesiod as sons of Astraeus and Eos (Theog. 378–380; see also 869–880), while a fourth wind, Eurus, also features in the Homeric poems (Od. 5.295); other, unnamed winds are also mentioned. Such conceptions of wind pervaded Graeco-Roman popular culture. Aristotle refers to painters’ depictions of wind (Mete.

Article

Physician of the time of *Nero and the Flavians (54–96 ce).Περὶ τῆς ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου καὶ τῶν ζῴων ὠφελείας (‘On the uses of human beings and animals’), full of superstitious means of treatment, borrowed largely from previous works such as Ps.-Democritus'Lithognomon, a lexicon of .