We access Greek and Roman scientific ideas mainly through those texts which happen to survive. By concentrating only on the ideas conveyed, we may limit our understanding of the meaning of those ideas in their historical context. Through considering the diverse ways in which scientific ideas were communicated, in different types of texts, we can uncover otherwise hidden meanings and more fully comprehend the historical contexts in which those ideas were produced and shared, the aims of the authors and the expectations of ancient readers. Liba Taub explores the rich variety of formats used to discuss scientific, mathematical and technical subjects, from c.700 BCE to the sixth century CE. Each chapter concentrates on a particular genre - poetry, letter, encyclopaedia, commentary and biography - offering an introduction to Greek and Roman scientific ideas, while using a selection of ancient writings to focus on the ways in which we encounter them.
Liba Taub is Director and Curator of the Whipple Museum and the Head of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. She was awarded an Einstein Foundation Visiting Fellowship to support her work with the Topoi Excellence Cluster (Berlin), and has been the recipient of the Joseph H. Hazen Education Prize of the History of Science and a University of Cambridge Pilkington Prize for excellence in teaching. She is the author of Ptolemy's Universe: The Natural Philosophical and Ethical Foundations of Ptolemy's Astronomy (1993), Ancient Meteorology (2003) and Aetna and the Moon: Explaining Nature in Ancient Greece and Rome (2008).
Introduction; 1. Poetry; 2. Letter; 3. Encyclopaedia; 4. Commentary; 5. Biography; Conclusion; Bibliographical essay; Appendix 1: arithmetical epigrams from Book 14 of The Greek Anthology; Appendix 2: Eratosthenes' Letter to King Ptolemy.