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Jonathan Coulston

Evidence for Greek and Roman artillery comes from the surviving technical treatises, incidental historical and subliterary references, and, most importantly, finds of both machine-fittings and projectiles. The latter at present date from the 2nd cent. bce to the 4th cent. ce.In 399 bce artificers of *Dionysius (1) I apparently invented the first artillery piece (Diod. Sic. 14. 42. 1). The gastraphetēs shot arrows only, and somewhat resembled an early medieval crossbow. Propulsion force was supplied by a composite bow, which, being too powerful for a man to draw by hand, was bent by means of a slide and stock. Later gastraphetai, some of which were stone-throwers, used a winch and had a stand. Torsion catapults appeared around 340 bce, possibly invented by *Philip (1) II's engineers. Stock, winch, and base remained much the same, but two springs, bundles of rope made from animal sinew and held at high tension in a metal-plated wooden frame, now provided propulsive power. Torsion machines improved continuously in efficiency through the Roman period. From c.


Asclepiades (3), of Prusias ad Mare in Bithynia, Greek physician and author, 1st cent. BCE  

J. T. Vallance

Asclepiades of Prusias ad Mare in Bithynia, physician. He spent at least some of his career in Rome, and died sometime in the 1st cent. bce. He is best known for his theory that the body is made out of fragile corpuscles (ἄναρμοι ὄγκοι). (Although these corpuscles were not what a modern biologist might mean by the term, the word ὄγκος (‘lump’) did have medical connotations in antiquity.) The corpuscles were envisaged as moving through ducts (πόροι) distributed throughout the body; when their movement is hindered or altered, morbid effects ensue. The origins of Asclepiades' theory have been traced variously to *Epicurus, the Platonist *Heraclides (1) Ponticus, the Peripatetic *Straton (1) of Lampsacus, or to a combination of them all. There are strong indications, however, that the theory arose out of a reaction to the physiological system of *Erasistratus. Asclepiades was attacked fiercely by *Galen for the consequences of his theory, especially for denying the role of teleological activity in nature.



Daryn Lehoux

Greek and Roman astrology was a culturally significant system of understanding the cosmos and people’s place in it. Astrology believed (and indeed, argued) that human destinies could be predicted, explained, or understood by looking at the positions of the planets and the orientation of the zodiac relative to the moment of an individual’s birth. Astrology was widely practiced and consumed at all levels of Greco-Roman society from approximately the first century bce onward. Details of how the system worked could vary from author to author, sometimes reaching impressive levels of computational or interpretative complexity. Astrology is one of the more prominent cultural exports of classical antiquity, still widely consumed, often in the form of (much simplified) daily horoscopes in newspapers or online.Astrology is the practice of converting astronomical data (including the positions and relationships of celestial bodies) into predictions or explanations of terrestrial events. Classical astrology developed in the Hellenistic age, as a modification of earlier Babylonian practices. .


astronomical instruments  

G. J. Toomer and Alexander Jones

Although the introduction of an astronomical instrument (the gnomon, an upright stick for measuring shadow-lengths) is credited to *Anaximander in the 6th cent. bce, reliable information on the form of such instruments comes only from the later Hellenistic era, with extant examples (mostly sundials; see clocks) and detailed descriptions in the works of *Vitruvius, *Heron, *Ptolemy (4) and his commentators. As early as 432 bce*Meton observed the solstice at Athens with a heliotropion, but this may have been no more than an upright pillar fixed on a level platform to mark the shortest shadow. We know nothing about the instruments used by successors of Meton, such as *Callippus in the 4th cent., to determine the times of solstice and equinox, nor of those used by *Timocharis and other early Hellenistic astronomers to measure stellar declinations. Perhaps the earliest instrument, apart from sundials, of which we have a detailed description is the device constructed by *Archimedes (Sand-reckoner 11–15) for measuring the sun's apparent diameter; this was a rod along which different coloured pegs could be moved.


astronomical tables  

Alexander Jones

During the Hellenistic and Roman periods, tables were extensively employed in Graeco-Roman astronomy to present structured, quantitative astronomical data for reference, calculation, and display of patterns of data. Media for tables included papyrus, in roll or codex format, wooden boards, and occasionally inscriptions. Aside from their didactic function in writings on theoretical astronomy such as Ptolemy’s Almagest, the chief practical applications of astronomical tables were in astrology. Tables for calculating celestial positions and phenomena of the heavenly bodies represented two distinct traditions: an originally Babylonian tradition based on arithmetical operations and a Greek tradition, best known from Ptolemy’s works, based on trigonometry relating to geometrical theories for the motions of the Sun, Moon, and planets. Both traditions made use of sexagesimal place-value notation. Additionally, almanacs and calendrically structured ephemerides presented celestial positions calculated over long spans of dates as a convenient tool for horoscopy and the astrological evaluation of days.



G. J. Toomer and Alexander Jones

The use of the heliacal rising and setting of prominent stars or star-groups to mark points in the year is found in the earliest literature of the Greeks (*Homer and *Hesiod, e.g. Op. 619 ff.), and no doubt goes back to prehistoric times. This ‘traditional’ Greek astronomy continued (with some refinements borrowed from ‘scientific’ astronomy) to the end of antiquity. It was embodied in the ‘astronomical calendars’ (or παραπήγματα, so called from the practice of sticking a peg to mark the current day in holes along the sides) which began with *Meton and *Euctemon in the 5th cent. bce and of which several examples are preserved in manuscript and on stone. These mark important points of the year (including solstices and equinoxes), and use the risings and settings of stars as a basis for weather predictions (the latter already in Hesiod).2. Scientific astronomy in Greece hardly predates the 5th cent. bce.


astronomy, Babylonia  

John Steele

The term “Babylonian astronomy” is used to refer to a diverse range of practices undertaken by people in ancient Babylonia and Assyria including what in modern English would be referred to as astronomy, astrology and celestial divination, and cosmology. The earliest astronomical or astrological texts preserved from Babylonia and Assyria date to the early 2nd millennium bce, although some basic astronomical knowledge such as the identification of a regular cycle of the moon, the identification of the planets as a distinct type of celestial object from the stars, and the grouping of stars into constellations dates back much earlier, perhaps even before the development of writing in the 4th millennium bce. Astronomical and astrological texts were still being written around 2,000 years later during the 1st century ce. These texts are some of the latest known texts written in cuneiform. Babylonian astronomy encompassed a range of practices, including the cataloguing of stars and constellations, the regular observation of celestial phenomena, the development and use of methods of predicting those same phenomena, and the interpretation of observed and computed astronomical data through various forms of astrology.


Athenaeus (2) Mechanicus  

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.


Athenaeus (3), of Attaleia, founder of the Pneumatists  

Ludwig Edelstein and V. Nutton

Athenaeus (3) of Attaleia in Pamphylia was the founder of a school of physicians, the *Pneumatists. Imbued with Stoic ideas but well trained in philosophy in general, Athenaeus assumed as basic elements the four qualities, together with the *pneuma as the fifth. Health and disease he explained through their eukrasia (good temperament) and dyskrasia (bad temperament). His physiology (see anatomy and physiology) was dependent on Aristotle. Details of his *pathology are unknown. His system was important in its speculative formulation rather than in its practical consequences, although his followers produced important studies of pulsation and heart disease. Athenaeus, who considered medicine as part of general education, devised most elaborate *dietetic rules, in which he included pedagogical as well as medical precepts, differentiated according to the different stages of life. The ideas of Athenaeus were highly esteemed by *Galen.His dates are controversial. Galen in De causis contentivis makes him a pupil of the Stoic *Posidonius (2), from which Kudlien, Hermes, 1962, 419 ff.


Autolycus (2), of Pitane, Greek astronomer, fl. late 4th cent. BCE  

G. J. Toomer

Astronomer (fl. late 4th cent. bce), author of two works on elementary spherical astronomy, among the earliest Greek mathematical treatises that have come down to us entire: (1) On the Moving Sphere (Περὶ κινουμένης σφαίρας) treats of the poles and principal circles of the sphere. Many of its propositions are also used in the Phaenomena of *Euclid, but the priority cannot be determined. (2) On Risings and Settings (Περὶ ἀνατολῶν καὶ δύσεων), dealing with risings, settings, and visibility periods of stars, is in two books, which are in fact different versions of the same work. In a lost work (Simpl. in Cael. 504 f.) Autolycus criticized the system of concentric spheres of *Eudoxus (1) on the ground that it did not account for the differences in the apparent sizes of some heavenly bodies at different times, and attempted to remedy this.


Baccheius Geron, 3rd–4th cent. CE  

Andrew Barker

Baccheius Geron wrote an informative Introduction to the Art of Music in question-and-answer form, giving pithy harmonic and rhythmic analyses, mainly Aristoxenian (see aristoxenus) but with later additions and modernized perspectives.


Bacchius, of Tanagra, physician, 275–200? BCE  

Heinrich von Staden

Member of the *Alexandrian ‘school’ of *Herophilus. Bacchius' influential Hippocratic lexicon (Lexeis1–3; see hippocrates(2)), of which Epicles of Crete produced an abridged version and against which the Empiricists *Philinus (1) and *Heraclides (4) wrote polemical treatises, was one of the earlier author-specific Alexandrian lexica. His glosses on about 60 words from at least eighteen treatises in the Hippocratic corpus (see hippocrates(2)) survive, preserved mainly by *Erotian. They offer valuable evidence concerning Alexandrian philology and concerning the availability of Hippocratic texts in early *Alexandria (1). To explain individual words, Bacchius drew extensively on Hippocratic treatises and on *Aristophanes (2) of Byzantium'sLexeis. His other works on Hippocratic texts included commentaries (on Epidemics 6, Aphorisms, and In the Surgery) and an ‘edition’ of Epidemics 3. He also made significant contributions to sphygmology, *pathology, *pharmacology, and doxography (Memoirs on Herophilus and the Members of his House).


baking, Roman  

Jared T. Benton

The earliest Roman bakers almost certainly made bread for their own households, but not for sale to the public. Pliny the Elder tells us in his Natural History (18.28) that among the quirites of Rome’s past, women baked the family’s bread, an observation he bases on comparisons with contemporary non-Roman peoples. Yet modes of domestic production were probably as diverse as the families themselves; early terracotta figurines from the eastern Mediterranean show women, men, and children all participating in the production of bread (Fig. 1).Moreover, the figurine shows both milling and baking, processes that remained interlinked until the end of antiquity. Even later commercial bakers seem also to have been millers. Medieval bakers, however, rarely milled their own grain. To some extent, this resulted from the advent of new technologies such as watermills and windmills, but the watermill, at least, was available from the 1st century bce onward (Vitr.



Brian Campbell

Balbus wrote a surveying treatise on measurements and geometrical shapes. He undertook military surveying during the Dacian campaigns of an emperor, either *Domitian or *Trajan. See gromatici.


baths and bathing  

Fikret Yegül

In Homer’s world, bathing in warm water was a reward reserved for heroes. Ordinary Greeks bathed at home or in public baths characterized by circular chambers with hip-baths and rudimentary heating systems. Public bathing as a daily habit, a hygienic, medicinal, recreational, and luxurious experience belonged to the Romans. The origins of Roman baths can be traced in the simpler Greek baths and the bathing facilities of the Greek gymnasium and palaestra, as well as the farm traditions of rural Italy. The earliest Roman baths (balneae), which show the mastery of floor and wall heating, and a planning system based on controlled and graded heating of spaces, emerged in Latium and Campania by the early 2nd century bce. There is little doubt that bathing as an ultimate luxurious experience was epitomized by the imperial thermae first developed in Rome and spread to the provinces. These grand bathing palaces combined exercise, bathing, recreation, and quasi-intellectual activities in vast, park-like precincts, as best exemplified by the Thermae of Caracalla in Rome. The tradition of public bathing and baths passed on to Early Christian, Byzantine, and Medieval Islamic societies across Asia Minor and the eastern Mediterranean.



David John Furley and J. T. Vallance

RE, from Mendes in Egypt, contemporary of *Callimachus (3) (3rd cent. bce.), a writer on *magic and *pharmacology. A work of his entitled On Sympathies and Antipathies was somehow attributed to *Democritus of Abdera, and as a consequence Bolus is sometimes referred to as pseudo-Democritus. Only fragments of his works survive; one apparently contained a materia medica in which drugs were divided into artificial and natural substances (Χειρόκμητα and Φυσικὰ δυναμερά). He also wrote a work On Marvels (θαυμάσια) and was the first in a considerable tradition of *paradoxographers. The Suda reports the existence of two men called Bolus, one a philosopher and follower of Democritus, and the other a Pythagorean from Mendes, but they are now thought to be identical.



John Scarborough

From earliest times, Greeks and Romans had expert familiarity with plants and their growth cycles; agriculture dominates, alongside acute command of medicinal herbs, including production of oils and perfumes. Exact nomenclatures were quite irrelevant; everyone ‘knew’ plants and flowers carpeting fields and mountain valleys in season; flower metaphors became common in *Homer and the lyric poets. There is nothing esoteric about early botanical lore; locals understood their plants—from various wheats and vegetables to the widespread poisons (hemlocks, mandrake, the opium poppy, etc. )—and they spoke of parts (roots, seeds, flowers, stems, leaves) as plants providing particulars: food, medicines, poisons, oils, beverages (wine, beer).Botany figures in Mycenaean Greek texts, suggesting a sophisticated perfume and perfumed oil industry at *Pylos, Cnossus, and elsewhere (see minoan civilization). Few species are imported exotics, and Homer's flowers are likewise local, e.g. the saffron crocus (Il. 14. 348: Crocus sativus L.



Julius Rocca

Knowledge of the brain as a body part is ancient. The term encephalos is found in Homer, but cognitive function was not ascribed to its contents. Certain of the Presocratics linked cognitive capacity to the brain. Similar views existed in the Hippocratic writings. For Plato, the brain’s cognitive role is due to its housing the rational soul. Aristotle regarded heart and brain as exerting sovereign control. In the Hellenistic period, the brain was systematically investigated, its cognitive and sensory capacities experimentally verified. Galen, building on this legacy and applying a rigorous experimental methodology, provided overwhelming proof that the brain mediated sensation and voluntary motion.The epistemological justification for cognitive, motor, and sensory functions to be ascribed to the structure lying “within the head” (encephalon) makes a relatively late appearance in antiquity. Empirical observations based on head injuries are far older. Babylonian medicine of the First Dynastic period (2nd millennium .



Frederick Norman Pryce and Michael Vickers

The ancients used the words χαλκός, *aes, indiscriminately for copper and for the harder and more fusible bronze, an alloy of copper and tin. Implements of bronze are found in Egypt and *Mesopotamia before 3000 bce. During the third millennium (the early Minoan period of Crete) the general use of bronze and the normal composition of the alloy (one part of tin to nine of copper) were established (see metallurgy). Until the introduction of *iron, bronze was the sole metal for utilitarian purposes, and afterwards it continued in general use to the end of antiquity for sculpture, many domestic objects, and, after the 5th cent. bce, for small-denomination coins. Brass (ὀρείχαλκος, orichalcum, a mixture of copper and zinc) is not found before Roman imperial times, when *lead was also added to bronze in increasing quantities.Copper is widely found in classical lands, where the principal sources of supply were, for Greece, *Chalcis in Euboea and *Cyprus, and for Italy, Bruttium, Etruria (see etruscans), and Elba, while under Roman rule *Spain produced largely.



Wilbur R. Knorr

Bryson (early 4th cent. bce), of Heraclea (3) Pontica, a sophist associated with the following of *Euclides (1) of Megara, he is criticized by Aristotle for an allegedly fallacious quadrature of the circle (An. post. 75b4; Soph. el. 171b16, 172a3). The argument, whatever its original intent, employs a form of two-sided convergence of polygonal sequences to the circle, a procedure later exploited by *Archimedes in his measurement of the sphere.