Hellas (ΕΛΛΑΣ, Ελλάς) is the modern name of Greece and modern Greeks are called Hellenes (Έλληνες), both used also in ancient times. Hellenes describes all the Greeks (derived from the Roman Graeci, a Latin name (probably derived from Γραικοί as described by Aristotle “... καὶ οἱ καλούμενοι τότε μὲν Γραικοί, νῦν δὲ Ἕλληνες”, Meteorologica) for a small Hellenic tribe (Dorians) from Epirus. Another possibility is that it is derived from Graia in Boeotia; some citizens founded in Italy a colony with cities such as “Cumae” (assumed to be the first Greek colony in the West) and “Nea Polis” (new city) that now is known as Naples or Napoli. The Greeks actually used their local group names such as Athenians, Macedonians, Spartans, etc. The division of Greece in city state probably was a reason for the success, because each city state had its own specific culture and political system, it was not a monolithic block. There were of course some common elements for all these states such as religion, language (dialects) etc. What was important for Greece were the individual personalities. Hellas was the name of a district in Greece that housed a religious confederacy associated with the Delphic oracle. Hellen was in Mythology the son of Deucalion and Pyrrha and his children were Aeolus, Dorus and Xuthus. In the Genesis the Greeks are the descendants of Yavan the son of Noah's son Japheth. Noah the son of Lamech was around 500 years old when Japheth was born! The word Hellas is considered to be derived from Elishah, the son of Yavan (the Hebrew word for Greece). Name of the Greeks
Αρχαία Ελληνική Τεχνολογία
Ancient Greek Technology (Hellenic and Hellenistic)
Ancient Greek Technology Stamps, Trireme, Odometer, Antikythera mechanism, Piston water pump, Automatic temple gates of Hero of Alexandria
The word “Technology” comes from the Greek word technikos which means „artistic, professional“. I was asked what is the difference between an engineer and a scientist? For example Heron of Alexandria or Ctesibius, or Philon of Byzantium are more engineers than scientists like Archimedes and Euclid. What is the difference between a scientist and an engineer? A scientist likes surprises, not so an engineer.
First there is practical no original source that describes the technology of ancient Greeks. Archimedes did not consider worth to write about his inventions and the work of Heron is from translations or text written later. We have various indirect sources such as from Vitruvius. A large number of original sources was destroyed by events like the fire of the Alexandria Library, by fanatics, or by natural causes. Devices like the repeating catapult of Dionysius, the planetaria of Archimedes like the Antikythera device, Gigantic ships or steam engines shows that ancient Greeks were not only “theoretical oriented” but that theoretical and applied science are connected together. Only the last 50 years we have a clearer view of the Greek technology and we understand that significant part of this knowledge did not survive. An assumption is that the “aristocratic” Greeks were not interested to gets their hands dirty. But there was a technological advance due to economic reasons or because of the necessity to produce better weapons. And YES! The development of money (probably introduced first by the Lydians) in form of coins and trade was also very important. Trade and the political system was probably one of the main reasons of the rapid development of Science and Philosophy in Greece. With Alexander the Great Greek language became the language of Science.
The latest results of the Antikythera computer were published in November 2006 in Nature
The new studies suggest it was build earlier than before assumed namely between 150 and 100 BC
Even one century after its discovery the Antikythera device is a object of research with some text for its use identified recently. http://www.antikythera-mechanism.gr/ (The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project)
Some say that the most important place in Ancient Greece was not the Agora but the Barber Shop. It played a very important role in the life as news were transmitted there from the barbers who were famous for excessive talking. Once a Spartan was asked by a barber how to cut his hair. His response was : "Silent". Some say that the first barber shops in Rome were introduced by the Greeks. The barber shops were not very different than today having a large mirror for the clients, a comfortable chair (called thronos or throne) and various devices such as razors, knives, etc. Probably the most famous barber was Ctesibius of Alexandria. He develop pneumatic devices among which the organ, the first high tech musical instrument. His first invention was a counter-weighted large mirror for the barber shop of his father.
Everything that can be invented has been invented. Charles H. Duell, U.S. Commissioner of Patents, in 1899 (a remark which probably was invented by others!)
The Archimedes Elevator, based on the Archimedes screw
Homer describes in the Iliad a heroic epoch of the past. In order to control a large population Sparta was transformed into a militaristic society. But they were not innovative enough. The Thebans developed a more efficient Phalanx and especially the Macedonians organized their army more efficiently, used siege towers and catapult devices that were used and developed by the Greeks in their colonies in Sicily.
Charmadas quidem in Graecia quae quis exegerat volumina in bibliothecis legentis modo repraesentavit, (Charmadas from Greece could recite (memorise) the content of every book in the library ... Pliny the Elder
In the last few years the internet has been transformed to the Library of Babel once invented by Jorge Luis Borges by the so called "Garbage Sites" . Unfortunately the main Search Engines cannot control or do not want to control these sites. Programs scan the internet and produce automatically many hundred millions of "junk" pages only with external links that are often topic unrelated and which change each day. The idea is that it is possible to increase the rank in search engines and to earn money via advertisements even without content.
It is true thou wretch, that we have left behind us our houses and our city walls, not deeming it meet for the sake of such lifeless things to being subjection; but we still have a city, the greatest in Hellas, our two hundred triremes. Themistocles before the Greek navy sailed to Salamis according to Plutarch
Ancient Greek Architecture , Buildings
Arhitekton originally signified a master carpenter. It was attributed not only to ship-builders who were responsible for the construction of the Greek triremes, or to the later ’master craftsman’ of a temple; but all sorts of craftsmen working with wood, Ömür Harmansah Archaic Age and the Metamorphoses of Greek Culture
And we shall assuredly not be without witnesses; there are mighty monuments of our power which will make us the wonder of this and of succeeding ages Pericles' Funeral Oration (Thucydides 2.35-46) Pericles used the important moment after the victory over the Persians to establish a league between many city states and Athens and then later use the money collected from these states to build the magnificent Acropolis buildings.
Will anybody compare the idle Pyramids, or those other useless though much renowned works of the Greeks with these aqueducts, with these many indispensable structures? Sextus Julius Frontinus, The Water Supply of the City of Rome
During the Hellenistic period engineers were able to produce spectacular buildings such as the Pharos of Alexandria and the Colossus of Rhodes a statue large as the Liberty Statue in New York. In his trip to the moon (Icaro)Menippus, the first Greek Astronaut, tries to see if the Colossus and the Pharos are visible from outer space (like the Great Wall of China).
So all this really does exist, just as we learnt at school! Siegmund Freud In the summer of 1904, after prolonged hesitation, Freud suddenly traveled to Athens in the company of his brother Alexander. Once up on the Acropolis, instead of the expected admiration, he was enveloped by a strange feeling of doubt. He was surprised that something he had been learning about at school really exists. He felt divided in two: one person who empirically realized his actual presence on the Acropolis and the other that found it hard to believe, as if denying the reality of the fact. A disturbance of memory on the Acropolis
Although the beauty is sufficiently humane to weaken us, to stir the deep deposit of mud--memories, abandonments, regrets, sentimental devotions--the Parthenon is separate from all that; and if you consider how it has stood out all night, for centuries, you begin to connect the blaze (at midday the glare is dazzling and the frieze almost invisible) with the idea that perhaps it is beauty alone that is immortal. Virginia Woolf, Jacob's Room
Reginald Blomfield.GreekArchitecture from the Legacy of Greece
History of Science is about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds. My version of Richard Feynman's remark about Philosophy of Science.
Can we trust any timeline? Even the eclipses such as described by Thucydides and others cannot all be reproduced. From possible errors in the translation, manipulation etc inconsistencies when analyzed sometimes enable some (including known mathematicians) to claim even that centuries of history have been invented or did not exist. While I am not happy to find sometimes 10-20 years differences in the dates of some event from various sources it is amusing to read reports that Jesus was born 1559 years later than usually supposed.
As geographers, Sosius, crowd into the edges of their maps parts of the world which they do not know about, adding notes in the margin to the effect, that beyond this lies nothing but sandy deserts full of wild beasts, unapproachable bogs, Scythian ice, or a frozen sea...Plutarch Theseus
Hellenic and Hellenistic Science
Ancient science was the product of a very few men; and these few happened not to be Egyptians. A. Neugebauer. About this comment one could write many books. I think it is too negative and typical a problem of some who ignore that pure science requires some “primitive” accumulation of facts. Which places did Democritus visit (some assume that he was in India) and what did he learn there? What did the Greeks learn from others and how important was this knowledge? Is it also true that even today science is the product of a very few and the other millions of scientists are doing just “tabulation physics” filling only tables with numbers? The days of the scientific revolutions like in the early last century seem over but the number of publications increases exponentially. Even with the problem of an extreme specialization from the knowledge accumulated as Aristotle would say “gignesthai mega ti”, something great is produced.
Αρχαία Ελληνική Επιστήμη
Athena of Aphaia Temple
Ancient Greek Mathematics
The good Christian should beware of mathematicians and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of Hell.
Poetry is the only place where the power of numbers proves to be nothing Odysseas Elytis Nobel Prize Literature 1979
Greeks like Thales from the Ionian islands around 600 BC visited Egypt and Babylon. They acquired the practical knowledge accumulated over centuries and promoted it into Science. Greeks obtained Geometry as an art of measuring the land from the Egyptians as Herodotus describes. The influence of Greek mathematics continues through the ages. Arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy – pure number, applied number, stationary magnitude, and magnitude in motion respectively – began life in Plato’s Republic and constituted the quadrivium of sciences up to 1600 AD and later. Eudoxus and Archimedes exhaustion methods were only extended by Cauchy and Weierstrass. The discovery of a proof of Fermat’s last theorem in 1993-4 shows how even current mathematical activity originates in Greek mathematical activity. Also the last years we have some remarkable discoveries analyzing the work of Archimedes and Hipparchus. A characteristic Greek discovery that the square root of 2 is not a rational number is for me one of the best examples that Greeks were interested in true science. One has to think that how surprising it is to discover that you cannot express this number in the form a/b where a and b are integer numbers. You can approach it with an accuracy as good as you want if you choose very large numbers for a and b but whatever you choose it will be never exactly the square root of 2. So there is a special type of numbers, the irrational numbers. For engineering purposes even small numbers for a and b would be enough but the proof of the irrationality of the square root of 2, although so simple, shows what the difference is between engineering and pure science.
Thales of Miletus, the first Greek scientist “the first man in history to whom specific mathematical discoveries have been attributed.” Boyer in A History of Mathematics
Xenophanes the "Moralapostel" with at least some interesting ideas about atmospheric phenomena
Pythagoras most important achievement is his idea that everything in the Universe can be expressed by numbers. Plato was fascinated by this idea and he used the Platonic solids as the building blocks of the Universe, the first primitive mathematical cosmological model. Today mathematical physicists try to fulfill the dream of Pythagoras. The only mistake of Pythagoras is that mathematics can describe everything except that what is really personally important.
Recently in Santorini an Archimedes spiral produced around 1650 BC was found, 14 centuries before the work of Archimedes. A 32 cm large set of points was almost perfect distributed according to the Archimedes Spiral formula.. See: Distinct, Later Bronze Age /c. 1650 BC) wall-paintings from Akrotiri, Thera, comprising advanced geometrical patterns :
Aristotle's Potential and Actual Infinite and Cantor , Aristotle's Syllogism : Logic takes form , A more advanced description of Aristotle on Mathematics, Logic (from Stanford University) ,
Isaac Newton's assistant at Cambridge claimed that during five years he saw Newton laugh only once. Newton had loaned a copy of Euclid to an acquaintance, and the gentleman asked what use it was to study Euclid, "upon which Sir Isaac was very merry". Euclid's Plan and Proposition 6
Euclid's Elements (The Web version)
The human mind has first to construct forms, independently, before we can find them in things. Albert Einstein
Even before Plato Greek philosophers tried to find the limitations of our knowledge. Is that what we see the reality? Why is this so interesting and why should we consider this problem? Maybe an answer is the story of Charly in "Flowers for Algernon". In his progress notes Charly writes: Before the operation I was looking the world through a keyhole inside a dark room. My opinion was that I can understand the world by trying to read some books that I could not understand. Maybe if I try harder I can understand what is written.. One of the books has a strange title: "The lost paradise".....
Plato's Cave - The Enlightenment Process: Enter the Matrix (an inverse mathematical problem)
Socrates demonstrates that an uneducated person has mathematical knowledge. Only during our birth we have forgotten the knowledge.. learning is a reminiscence process (anamnesis). Why do we need teachers? The answer: mainly for temporary (in principle useless ?) knowledge.
The Works of Archimedes, T. L. Heath , (djvu) **
Archimedes Sources (In Preparation)
By the time Gauss left Göttingen, he had already developed a concept of the physical reality of the square roots of negative numbers, which he called, complex numbers. Adopting the method of Plato's cave metaphor, from The Republic, Gauss understood his complex numbers to be shadows reflecting a complex of physical actions (action acting on action). Plato and Carl Gauss's Fundamental Theorem of Algebra
From Plato's Theaetetus to Gauss's Pentagramma Mirificum: A Fight for Truth (PDF) by Bruce Director
T. L. Heath. Astronomy and Mathematics from the Legacy of Greece
Mathematics LINKS (including links to Biographies from Anaxagoras to Zenodorus)
** requires a free availble DJVU viewer (browser plugin) from: http://www.lizardtech.com
Ancient Greek Astronomy
What is the sense of human life? he (Anaxagoras) was asked; “to look at the sky, the stars, the moon, the sun,” was his response.
Andromeda | Aquarius | Aquila | Ara | Argo (Carina , Puppis , Pyxis, Vela) | Auriga | Boötes | Cancer | Canis Major | Canis Minor | Capricornus | Cassiopeia | Centaurus | Cepheus | Cetus | Corona Australis | Corona Borealis | Corvus | Crater | Cygnus | Delphinus | Draco | Equuleus | Eridanus | Gemini | Hercules | Hydra | Leo | Lepus | Libra | Lupus | Lyra | Ophiuchus / Serpentarius | Orion | Pegasus | Perseus | Pisces | Piscis Austrinus | Sagitta | Sagittarius | Scorpius | Serpens | | Taurus | Triangulum | Ursa Major | Ursa Minor | Virgo |
Alexander wept when he heard from Anaxarchus that there was an infinite number of worlds; and his friends asking him if any accident had befallen him, he returns this answer: “Do you not think it a matter worthy of lamentation that when there is such a vast multitude of them, we have not yet conquered one?” Plutarch
Aristotle and Astronomy (The Prime Mover), Physics and Metaphysics
But Empedocles’s opinion is, that the world is one; yet by no means the system of this world must be styled the universe, but that it is a small part of it, and the remainder is inactive matter. Plutarch
Astrology originally from Mesopotamia (probably since the 3rd BC millenium) was developed further in the Hellenistic period, especially in Alexandria (Tetrabiblos of Ptolemy). Hellenistic astrology was transmitted to Europe and China indirectly by the Arabs and also to India (even if China and India had a much older astrology prehistory). Astrology was combined with medicine or with chemistry forming the pseudosciences of “iatromathematics” and “alchemy”. Even if it contradicted Christian religion astrology was teached in various Universities (Bologna, Florence, Paris...) and only in the 18th century the scientific community had turned away from astrology.
Hellenism in India, Astronomy , requires DJVU viewer
Ancient Greek Geography and Cartography
Ancient Greeks measured with high accuracy the circumference of the Earth. The provided the maps that were used even until C. Columbus who using wrong numbers for the stadium distance underestimated the distance he had to travel to reach India.
Ancient Greek Biology and Ecology
Gorilla derived from the Greek Gorillai, for a tribe of hairy women..., Etymologically speaking
Pelican, from Gk. pelekan (Aristotle), perhaps due to the shape of the bird's bill as a pelekys (ax) , pelekas (woodpecker) .
The word parasite (paraseitos, para seito, eating beside) initially was a religious word describing a person who participated in the meals of Gods and who also helped the priests in religious actions (such as the Apollon Delion cult). In addition a person to whom as honor a meal on public expenses in the Prytaneion in Athens was granted was called a parasite (among these parasites was the father o medicine: Hippocrates of Kos). Also a character in Greek theater is described as “parasite”.
Evolution is the root of atheism, of communism, nazism, behaviorism, racism, economic imperialism, militarism, libertinism, anarchism, and all manner of anti-Christian systems of belief and practice. H. M. Morris, The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth, San Diego, Creation-Life Publishers, 1972
Elements of the evolution theory of Darwin were discovered by the ancient Greeks who also produced a remarkable classification of animal and plants.
Did centaurs actually exist? - English article from Pravda
D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson and Charles Singer, Natural Science, Biology (Legacy of Greece)
Ancient Greek Geology and Seismology
Earthquakes may be due to the imprisonment of wind underground, and to its being interspersed with small masses of earth and then set in continuous motion, thus causing the earth to tremble. And the earth either takes in this wind from without or from the falling in of foundations, when undermined, into subterranean caverns, thus raising a wind in the imprisoned air. Or they may be due to the propagation of movement arising from the fall of many foundations and to its being again checked when it encounters the more solid resistance of earth. And there are many other causes to which these oscillations of the earth may be due. Epicurus of Samos, Letter to Pythocles
Greek Seismology, Earthquake Theories and Concepts in Classical Antiquity, Christopher L. Liner (PDF 410 KB)
Ancient Greek Physics and Meteorology
The word “physics,” comes from the Greek word phusis (φύσις). This is usually translated as “nature,” but not nature in the sense that we usually use the word. Aristotle might say that phusis is the internal activity that makes anything what it is. Our word for nature comes from Latin roots having to do with birth and growth, and these associations are present in the Greek word as well. It is in the “nature” of a human embryo to develop into a fetus, to be born, and eventually to become a mature human being. This is the internal activity that makes it what it is. One of Aristotle’s most influential books is entitled simply Phusis, or as it is always translated, Physics. Alfred. W. Stetz , Beginning with Aristotle, Life, the Universe and Everything
It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that even in 1900 the only new idea to Leucippus's theory was that each chemical element was identified with a separate atomic species.
What I am going to tell you about is what we teach . . . you’re not going to be able to understand it. You see, my physics students don’t understand it either. That is because I don’t understand it. Nobody does. Richard Feynman. QED. The strange theory of light and matter
Ancient Greek physics mainly started with Archimedes and his mechanics of the lever and hydrostatic discoveries. Democritus, Leucippus and other provided the first atomic model. Geometric optics was also developed and atmospheric physics phenomena were studied. Plato's mathematical Universe model using regular polyhedra and triangles as constituents of the world is the first theory of everything (TOE) similar to modern theories such as Superstrings, that are mathematical and symmetry based. Recently a dodecahedron shaped Universe is proposed. Even if some day maybe we will have a theory that explains everything probably it will predict almost nothing as the results depends so sensitive on the initial conditions and whatever our accuracy is we will only be able to make short terms predictions. I think that an ancient Greek said this also before 2000 years:
His mind lingers around the forms of mythology, which he uses as symbols or translates into figures of speech. He has no implements of observation, such as the telescope or microscope; the great science of chemistry is a blank to him. It is only by an effort that the modern thinker can breathe the atmosphere of the ancient philosopher, or understand how, under such unequal conditions, he seems in many instances, by a sort of inspiration, to have anticipated the truth." from an Introduction to Timaeus
To live alone you have to be a beast or a god, says Aristotle. What remains is the third case: you have to be both - a philosopher... F. Nietzsche Götzen-Dämmerung oder Wie man mit dem Hammer philosophirt
The atoms are in continual motion through all eternity, Epicurus, Letter to Herodotus
Antisthenes: Plato, I see particular horses, but not horseness.
So the vessels called yheia by the Greeks, which are placed in certain recesses under the seats of theatres, are fixed and arranged with a due regard to the laws of harmony and physics, their tones being fourths, fifths, and octaves; so that when the voice of the actor is in unison with the pitch of these instruments, its power is increased and mellowed by impinging thereon. Vitruvius, de Architectura
Website about the Doubling Theory
http://www.metafysiko.gr/epikairotita.php?id=30 (Greek text about the Doubling Theory of Jean-Pierre Garnier-Malet and Ancient Greeks)
Ancient Greeks developed the idea of the atom. This idea was not accepted initially and instead Greeks used states of matter such as fluid, solid, gas, or plasma as a model of matter. Thales started with water, Anaximenes with air, Heraclitus with fire as the basic substance of the Universe. Empedocles added earth and combined these four “elements” together under the action of eros (love) and neikos (strife) in a theory that Aristotle further developed. Aristotle was critical about the idea of atoms of Leucippus and Democritus. The idea of the transformation of materials into gold initiated a new discipline “Alchemy” in Alexandria by the Greeks and others. The search of a method to produce gold some say was important for the development of the real science of chemistry. Whether this is true is difficult to judge, were the endless and probably not systematic experiments of amateurs really so important? At least it took more than 1500 years to replace alchemy by chemistry. I will provide soon information of the knowledge of the ancient Greeks about different elements.
Ancient Greek Medicine and Psychology
Ancient Greek medicine played an important role for almost 1500 years. Galen was probably the most important Physician of all time and his collected work includes around 20000 pages of text. Only with Vesalius and others around 1600 AD the knowledge again was improved.
How important health is is described in the story of Tithonus and Eos. Eos asks Zeus to make Tithonus immortal but she does not ask that Tithonus should also remain young. The tragic story is that Tithonus gets older and weaker but death is impossible for him. Death is important as the story of Sisyphos describes. Is an eternal life really so important? Is eternal happiness possible? Odysseus chooses a limited life with his wife Penelope, who is 20 years older when he left Ithaca, than an eternal life with a beautiful "young" goddess.
Ancient Greek Medicine and Psychology, Additional Articles about ancient Greek Medicine
Ancient Athenian Plague Proves to Be Typhoid .. but whatever it was it was not the reason that Athens lost the war finally...
In the night when we sleep sometimes the brain activity is hgher than in the morning. In the night while we sleep we learn, the brain processes the information that was accumulated during the day.
But, when the body is at rest, the soul wakes and stirs and keeps her own house, and carries out herself all the activities of the body. In sleep the body does not feel, but the soul awake knows everything; she sees what is to be seen, hears what has to be heard, walks, touches, grieves, remembers—in a word, all the functions of body and soul alike are performed in sleep by the soul. Hippocrates
The man was born, he worked, and then died. Martin Heidegger, German philosopher, A short biography of Aristotle presented in a lecture.
Many names of scientific study fields are derived from Greek and Latin Words (with exceptions like Victimology); the names often ending in "ology" such as Agnoiology, the study of things of which we are by nature ignorant, or of things which cannot be known ...