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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

meteorology  

Liba Taub

Greco-Roman meteorology included the study of what we today consider to be atmospheric, astronomical, and seismological phenomena; wind, rain, comets, and earthquakes were subjects of meteorological study, as were many other phenomena. For the most part, those authors and texts that treated meteorology were not concerned with weather prediction but rather with explaining phenomena. Various philosophers, including the Presocratics, Aristotle, Theophrastus, and Epicurus, as well as other philosophically-minded authors such as Lucretius and Seneca, approached the topic from the standpoint of their own interests, including ethics as well as physics. The traditional gods were not wholly absent from philosophical accounts, but they were not thought responsible for weather. Various authors and texts addressed weather prediction, providing lists of weather signs. Ancient Greco-Roman meteorology and weather prediction were both characterized by conservatism and a valorization of tradition, but nevertheless permitted a degree of innovation and originality.

“Meteorology” strictly means “the study of things aloft,” but the term was widely used in antiquity to cover the study of what might now be called meteorological phenomena, as well as comets (today treated as astronomical) and phenomena on and within the earth itself, such as tides and earthquakes (the latter now described as “seismological”). The Homeric and Hesiodic poems describe meteorological phenomena as linked to gods, often as epiphanies. The long-lived authority of the poets on meteorological topics is attested by many quotations and allusions in the writings of later authors, even in prose works on meteorology. Notwithstanding this, later Greek and Roman thinkers offered explanations of meteorological phenomena with no mention of gods.

Article

climate  

Ruben Post

The climate of the Mediterranean is defined by hot summers and mild, wet winters; high inter-annual variability; and strong seasonal winds. These characteristics impacted numerous aspects of life in the classical world, most notably agriculture and seafaring. The Greeks displayed a strong interest in climatic patterns beginning with Hesiod, and between the Archaic and Roman periods, Graeco-Roman intellectuals developed increasingly complex theories and models to explain them. Natural philosophers also posited that climatic conditions determined human characteristics, such as intelligence and behaviour.The dramatic increase of interest in and evidence for pre-modern climate change in the 21st century has revolutionised our understanding of climatic shifts in antiquity. While the scope and nature of ancient climatic developments are disputed, some major trends and their possible societal impacts have emerged as topics of interest, most notably the late Bronze Age–Iron Age climatic downturn, the “Roman Climatic Optimum,” and the “Late Antique Little Ice Age.”agricultureclimate changedeterminismgeographyhistory of environmentmeteorologynatural philosophyseafaringwindThe Mediterranean ClimateThe climate of the Mediterranean is generally characterised by dry, hot summers; rainy, mildly cool winters; relatively short transitional periods between these seasons in spring and autumn; and a high degree of interannual variability in precipitation.

Article

clocks  

Robert Hannah

Time, or the passage of time, was told through a variety of means in antiquity—via one’s own body, through the actual or calculated movement of celestial bodies (sun, moon, and stars), and by means of artificial instruments, including sundials, water clocks, and various forms of timers. While the natural or built environments could provide large-scale, immobile backdrops to aid with telling the time, there were also miniature instruments that could be carried by hand around the known world with remarkable confidence in their accuracy. And while the simplest form of timing might be provided by one’s own body—such as through its hunger or its shadow—there were also artificial mechanisms of such extraordinary ingenuity and complexity that their like would not be seen for another millennium, and whose remains still elude complete explanation.At the popular level, marking time in the day could utilize simply the shadow cast on the ground by a person and measured by the person’s own feet (cf. .