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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.



Rebecca Futo Kennedy and Katherine Blouin

Natural environments such as the air currents, temperatures, waters, and topography were thought to shape humans, animals, and plants. For humans, the impact was physical, behavioural, and cultural. For animals, the impacts were mostly physical (e.g., oxen in Scythia have no horns because of the cold). This is typically referred to as environmental or climatic determinism. Early explicit examples of this idea include the HippocraticAirs, Waters, Places and occasional comments in Herodotus, but arguments for such a relationship between identity and environment as early as Homer’s Odyssey and Hesiod have been made.1 There is a long-standing tradition beginning with Homer and extending through the Roman imperial period of humans, animals, and their hybrids being associated with geographic distance from an imagined centre, dwelling in designated climate bands, or being earth-born or autochthonous (gēgenēs, autochthōn) that may reflect early forms of environmental determinism. The ideas continue to circulate in much the same form as found in the Hippocratic Airs in Roman authors such as Vitruvius, Manilius, Pliny the Elder, and Vegetius.


metrology, Roman  

Andrew M. Riggsby

There is a large body of evidence for Roman use of weights and measures. In theory, they would have been able to measure a variety of quantities with great precision, given the variety of different-sized units at their disposal and an elaborate system of fractional subdivisions of those units. Moreover, those measurements could have been accurate with respect to a shared system because of publicly available exemplary standards, a theoretical connection between the definitions of the most important measurements, and the existence of state officials who could enforce the standards. As a result, Romans could, in principle, have conveyed very specific metrological information across a great deal of space and time. In practice, measurement was considerably less predictable and less precise. Actual measurement did not necessarily avail itself of the full resources of the theoretical system, and sometimes did not appeal to any general system. Moreover, overtly competing systems coexisted with the “official” ones at all times. Finally, it is not clear how coherent that official system was, nor were the actual systems of enforcement particularly robust. As a result, measurement was often imprecise and/or tightly localized (which probably generated weak expectations of being able to replicate measurement across different contexts).


Pliny (1) the Elder, 23/24–79 CE  

Nicholas Purcell

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.


Pompeius Trogus  

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.