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Mar
4th
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Rome Reborn ☞ A Digital Model of Ancient Rome

Rome Reborn is an international initiative whose goal is the creation of 3D digital models illustrating the urban development of ancient Rome from the first settlement in the late Bronze Age (ca. 1000 B.C.) to the depopulation of the city in the early Middle Ages (ca. A.D. 550). With the advice of an international Scientific Advisory Committee, the leaders of the project decided that A.D. 320 was the best moment in time to begin the work of modeling. At that time, Rome had reached the peak of its population, and major Christian churches were just beginning to be built. After this date, few new civic buildings were built.

Much of what survives of the ancient city dates to this period, making reconstruction less speculative than it must, perforce, be for earlier phases. But having started with A.D. 320, the Rome Reborn team intends to move both backwards and forwards in time until the entire span of time foreseen by our mission has been covered.”

Rome Reborn - introduction

Rome Reborn 2.2: A Tour of Ancient Rome in 320 CE

This video presents a fly-through of the latest version of Rome Reborn (2.2). The new version incorporates some new content (including the Pantheon) and for the first time includes animations. — Prof. Bernard Frischer

See also:

☞ Dylla, Kimberly,  B. Frischer, Rome Reborn 2.0: A Case Study of Virtual City Reconstruction Using Procedural Modeling Techniques (pdf), Archaeopress: Oxford, 2010.
☞ More papers

Nov
7th
Mon
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How Epicurus’ ideas survived through Lucretius’ poetry, and led to toleration

       image
                                    Illustration:  Oxford: Anthony Stephens, 1683

Hunc igitur terrorem animi tenebrasque necessest
non radii solis neque lucida tela diei
discutiant, sed naturae species ratioque.

"Therefore it is necessary that neither the rays of the sun nor the shining spears of Day should shatter this terror and darkness of the mind, but the aspect and reason of nature."

— Lucretius, De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things), Book I, line 90-93.

As Greenblatt describes it, Lucretius (borrowing from Democritus and others), says [more than 2,000 years ago] the universe is made of an infinite number of atoms:

"Moving randomly through space, like dust motes in a sunbeam, colliding, hooking together, forming complex structures, breaking apart again, in a ceaseless process of creation and destruction. There is no escape from this process. (…) There is no master plan, no divine architect, no intelligent design.

All things, including the species to which you belong, have evolved over vast stretches of time. The evolution is random, though in the case of living organisms, it involves a principle of natural selection. That is, species that are suited to survive and to reproduce successfully, endure, at least for a time; those that are not so well suited, die off quickly. But nothing — from our own species, to the planet on which we live, to the sun that lights our day — lasts forever. Only the atoms are immortal.”

— cited in Lucretius, Man Of Modern Mystery, NPR, Sep 19, 2011

””On the Nature of Things,” a poem written 2,000 years ago that flouted many mainstream concepts, helped the Western world to ease into modernity. (…)

Harvard literary scholar Stephen Greenblatt has proposed a sort of metaphor for how the world became modern. An ancient Roman poem, lost for 1,000 years, was recovered in 1417. Its presciently modern ideas — that the world is made of atoms, that there is no life after death, and that there is no purpose to creation beyond pleasure — dropped like an atomic bomb on the fixedly Christian culture of Western Europe.

But this poem’s radical and transformative ideas survived what could have been a full-blown campaign against it, said Greenblatt. (…) One reason is that it was art. A tract would have drawn the critical attention of the authorities, who during the Renaissance still hewed to Augustine’s notion that Christian beliefs were “unshakeable, unchangeable, coherent.”

The ancient poem that contained such explosive ideas, and that packaged them so pleasingly, was “On the Nature of Things” (“De Rerum Natura”) by Roman poet and philosopher Titus Lucretius Carus, who died five decades before the start of the Christian era. Its intent was to counter the fear of death and the fear of the supernatural. Lucretius rendered into poetry the ideas of Epicurus, a Greek philosopher who had died some 200 years earlier. Both men embraced a core idea: that life was about the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. (…)

Among the most stunning ideas Lucretius promoted in his poem was that the world is made of atoms, imperishable bits of matter he called “seeds.” All the rest was void — nothingness. Atoms never disappeared, but were material grist for the world’s ceaseless change, without any creator or design or afterlife.

These ideas, “drawn from a defunct pagan past,” were intolerable in 15th-century Europe, said Greenblatt, so much so that for the next 200 years they had to survive every “formal and informal mechanism of aversion and repression” of the age.

“A few wild exceptions” embraced this pagan past explicitly, said Greenblatt, including Dominican friar Giordano Bruno, whose “fatal public advocacy” of Lucretius came to an end in 1600. Branded a pantheist, he was imprisoned, tortured, and burned at the stake.

But the poem itself, a repository of intolerable ideas, was allowed to circulate. How was this so?

Greenblatt offered three explicit reasons:

Reading strategies. In the spirit of commonplace books, readers of that era focused on individual passages rather than larger (and disturbing) meanings. Readers preferred to see the poem as a primer on Latin and Greek grammar, philology, natural history, and Roman culture.

— Scholarship. Official commentaries on the text were not intended to revive the radical ideas of Lucretius, but to put the language and imagery of a “dead work” in context, “a homeostatic survival,” said Greenblatt, “to make the corpse accessible.” He showed an image from a 1511 scholarly edition of the poem, in which single lines on each page lay “like a cadaver on a table,” surrounded by elaborate scholarly text. But the result was still preservation. “Scholarship,” he said, “is rarely credited properly in the history of toleration.”

— Aesthetics. A 1563 annotated edition of the poem acknowledged that its precepts were alien to Christian belief, but “it is no less a poem.”

“Certainly almost every one of the key principles was an offense to right-thinking Christians,” said Greenblatt. “But the poetry was compellingly, stunningly beautiful.”

Its “immensely seductive form,” he said — the soul of tolerance — helped to make aesthetics the concept that bridged the gap between the Renaissance and the early modern age.

Michel de Montaigne, the 16th-century French nobleman who invented the art of the essay, helped to maintain that aesthetic thread. His work includes almost 100 quotations from Lucretius. It was explicitly aesthetic appreciation of the old Roman, said Greenblatt, despite Montaigne’s own “genial willingness to submit to Christian orthodoxy.”

In the end, Lucretius and the ideas he borrowed from Epicurus survived because of art. “That aesthetic dimension of the ancient work (…) was the key element in the survival and transmission of what was perceived (…) by virtually everyone in the world to be intolerable,” said Greenblatt. “The thought police were only rarely called in to investigate works of art.”

One irony abides. Epicurus himself was known to say, “I spit on poetry,” yet his ideas only survive because of it. Lucretius saw his art as “honey smeared around the lip of a cup,” said Greenblatt, “that would enable readers to drink it down.”

The Roman poet thought there was no creator or afterlife, but that “should not bring with it a cold emptiness,” said Greenblatt. “It shouldn’t be only the priests of the world, with their delusions, who could convey to you that feeling of the deepest wonder.””

— Corydon Ireland, Through artistry, toleration, Harvard Gazette, Oct 31, 2011

See also:

☞ Lucretius, On the Nature of Things (1st century B.C.), History of Science Online

"In De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things), the poet Lucretius (ca. 50 BC) fused the atomic theory of Democritus and Leucippus with the philosophy of Epicurus in order to argue against the existence of the gods. While ordinary humans might fear the thunderbolts of Jove or torments in the underworld after death, Lucretius advised his readers to take courage in the knowledge that death is merely a dissolution of the body, as atoms combine and reassemble according to chance as they move through the void. Against the Stoics, Aristotelians, and Neoplatonists, Lucretius argued for a mechanistic universe governed by chance. He also argued for a plurality of worlds (and these planets, like the Earth, need not be spherical) and a non-hierarchical universe. Despite the paucity of ancient readers persuaded by Lucretius’ arguments, his work was almost universally admired as a masterful example of Latin style.”

Titus Lucretius Carus (ca. 99 BCE – ca. 55 BCE) was a Roman poet and philosopher.

See also:

Stephen Greenblatt, The Answer Man, The New Yorker, Aug 8, 2011
Lucretius, Man Of Modern Mystery, NPR, Sep 19, 2011
☞ Christian Flow, Swerves, Harvard Magazine Jul-Aug 2011
Lucretius on the infinite universe, the beginning of things and the likelihood of extraterrestrial life, Lapidarium
Lucretius: ‘O unhappy race of men, when they ascribed actions to the gods’, Lapidarium

Nov
3rd
Thu
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And Greece created Europe: the cultural legacy of a nation in crisis

        
                        The Acropolis in Athens. Photograph: Petros Giannakouris/AP

"As the eurozone crisis rumbles on, we should not forget that it was ancient Greek literary and artistic forms that shaped the cultural unity of the European continent.

Let us not forget that Europe began in Greece. The idea of the European continent as a cultural unity dates back to ancient Greece in more ways than one.

For a start, the Hellenes were the first people to define themselves as “western” as opposed to “eastern”. The separate city states of ancient Greece found a collective unity and sense of common nationhood at war with the Persian empire, and the classical heights of Greek culture were saturated with this sense of nationhood. The Parthenon that floats gloriously above modern Athens (while the best collection of sculpture from its frieze and pediments can be seen in the British Museum) was built as a symbol of Athenian and Hellenic resurrection after the Persian army razed the buildings that previously stood on the fortified sacred hill, the Acropolis.

In the years after 2001 when some spoke of a “culture war” between the west and Islam, it was fashionable to pick over this ancient Greek construction of an early European identity in opposition to the east. Certainly it recurs in the history of modern Greece, whose nationalism goes back to the war against Turkish rule in which Byron gave his life to the Greek cause and Delacroix lent his vivid imagination.

But western self-deconstruction can go too far. Ancient Greece really was different from the states and cultures that surrounded it, and its achievements defined a specifically European way of seeing the world. Greek literary and artistic forms would shape Europe in a way they did not shape other continents. The nude in art, for example, would be as central to the Renaissance as it was to ancient Athens. Even the mythology of Greece, and its gods, would survive the rise of Christianity to decorate Europe’s palaces. Tragic drama would survive and flourish, from Sophocles to Shakespeare.

Europeans have rediscovered their Greek legacy again and again, from Marsilio Ficino translating Plato to Picasso confronting the Minotaur.

Now that Greece is vilified, its attempt to reassert the democracy that is such a proud creation of ancient Athens is damned as a threat to the eurozone, and a great history of Hellenic Europe is reduced to repeated – and increasingly real – references to an economic “Greek tragedy”.

What sad times are these.”

Jonathan Jones, English journalist and art critic, And Greece created Europe: the cultural legacy of a nation in crisis, Guardian, 3 Nov 2011

Jun
1st
Tue
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Edward Carr on the last days of the polymath

      

"A polymath (Greek πολυμαθής, polymathēs, “having learned much”) is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. In less formal terms, a polymath (or polymathic person) may simply be someone who is very knowledgeable. Most ancient scientists were polymaths by today’s standards.

The terms Renaissance man and, less commonly, Homo Universalis (Latin for “universal man” or “man of the world”) are related and used to describe a person who is well educated or who excels in a wide variety of subjects or fields.The idea developed in Renaissance Italy from the notion expressed by one of its most accomplished representatives, Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472): that “a man can do all things if he will.” It embodied the basic tenets of Renaissance humanism, which considered humans empowered, limitless in their capacities for development, and led to the notion that people should embrace all knowledge and develop their capacities as fully as possible. Thus the gifted people of the Renaissance sought to develop skills in all areas of knowledge, in physical development, in social accomplishments, and in the arts”. (Wiki)

One moment, of the Well of Life to taste—
The Stars are setting, and the Caravan
Starts for the dawn of Nothing—Oh, make haste!

The Persian sage’s carpe diem, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, (translation by Edward FitzGerald)

"When Thomas Young was alive the world contained about a billion people. Few of them were literate and fewer still had the chance to experiment on the nature of light or to examine the Rosetta stone. Today the planet teems with 6.7 billion minds. Never have so many been taught to read and write and think, and then been free to choose what they would do with their lives. The electronic age has broken the shackles of knowledge. Never has it been easier to find something out, or to get someone to explain it to you. 

Yet as human learning has flowered, the man or woman who does great things in many fields has become a rare species. Young was hardly Aristotle, but his capacity to do important work in such a range of fields startled his contemporaries and today seems quite bewildering. The dead cast a large shadow but, even allowing for that, the 21st century has no one to match Michelangelo, who was a poet as well as a sculptor, an architect and a painter. It has no Alexander von Humboldt, who towered over early-19th-century geography and science. And no Leibniz, who invented calculus at the same time as Newton and also wrote on technology, philosophy, biology, politics and just about everything else. 

Although you may be able to think of a few living polymaths who rival the breadth of Young’s knowledge, not one of them begins to rival the breadth of his achievements. Over the past 200 years the nature of intellectual endeavour has changed profoundly. The polymaths of old were one-brain universities. These days you count as a polymath if you excel at one thing and go on to write a decent book about another. (…) 

[Today] so many scientists are publishing research in each specialism that merely to keep up with the reading is a full-time job. “The frontier of knowledge is getting longer,” says Professor Martin Rees, the president of the Royal Society, where Young was a leading light for over three decades. “It is impossible now for anyone to focus on more than one part at a time.”

Specialisation is hard on polymaths. Every moment devoted to one area is a moment less to give over to something else. Researchers are focused on narrower areas of work. In the sciences this means that you often need to put together a team to do anything useful. Most scientific papers have more than one author; papers in some disciplines have 20 or 30. Only a fool sets out to cure cancer, Rees says. You need to concentrate on some detail—while remembering the big question you are ultimately trying to answer. “These days”, he says, “no scientist makes a unique contribution.”

It is not only the explosion of knowledge that puts polymaths at a disadvantage, but also the vast increase in the number of specialists and experts in every field. This is because the learning that creates would-be polymaths creates monomaths too and in overwhelming numbers. If you have a multitude who give their lives to a specialism, their combined knowledge will drown out even a gifted generalist. And while the polymath tries to take possession of a second expertise in some distant discipline, his or her first expertise is being colonised by someone else. (…)

Just knowing about a lot of things has never been easier. Never before have dabblers been so free to paddle along the shore and dip into the first rock pool that catches the eye. If you have an urge to take off your shoes and test the water, countless specialists are ready to hold your hand.

And yet you will never get very deep. Depth is for monomaths—which is why experts so often seem to miss what really matters. Specialisation has made the study of English so sterile that students lose much of the joy in reading great literature for its own sake. A generation of mathematically inclined economists neglected many of Keynes’s insights about the Depression because he put them into words. For decades economists sweated over fiendish mathematical equations, only to be brought down to earth by the credit crunch: Keynes’s well-turned phrases had come back to life. (…)

Polymaths were the product of a particular time, when great learning was a mark of distinction and few people had money and leisure. Their moment has passed, like great houses or the horse-drawn carriage. The world may well be a better place for the specialisation that has come along instead. The pity is that progress has to come at a price. Civilisation has put up fences that people can no longer leap across; a certain type of mind is worth less. The choices modern life imposes are duller, more cramped.

The question is whether their loss has affected the course of human thought. Polymaths possess something that monomaths do not. Time and again, innovations come from a fresh eye or from another discipline. Most scientists devote their careers to solving the everyday problems in their specialism. Everyone knows what they are and it takes ingenuity and perseverance to crack them. But breakthroughs—the sort of idea that opens up whole sets of new problems—often come from other fields. The work in the early 20th century that showed how nerves work and, later, how DNA is structured originally came from a marriage of physics and biology. Today, Einstein’s old employer, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, is laid out especially so that different disciplines rub shoulders. I suspect that it is a poor substitute.

Isaiah Berlin once divided thinkers into two types. Foxes, he wrote, know many things; whereas hedgehogs know one big thing. The foxes used to roam free across the hills. Today the hedgehogs rule.”  

—  Edward Carr, The last days of the polymath, More Intelligent Life Magazine, The Economist, Autumn 2009, (Picture Credit: MASA/Breed London)

May
11th
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(Michelangelo Buonarroti, The Delphic Sibyl, A fresco at the Sistine Chapel, 1509 (More)
William J. Broad on Socrates and the Oracle of Delphi:
"The Oracle had her biggest impact on Socrates.  A native of Athens born a decade after the Persian wars, he became the most celebrated thinker of antiquity because of his uncompromising inquiries into ethics and moral philosophy.  The Pythia’s relationship with him was beguiling in its simplicity.  On a visit to Delphi, one of his students asked if any man was wiser. None, she replied. This declaration became a turning point that guided his inquiries. At the end of his life, at his trial for corrupting Athenian youth, Socrates testified that his pursuit of wisdom grew out of his puzzlement over this prophecy. Deeply aware of his own ignorance, and seeking to understand Apollo’s claim, Socrates said he began a lifelong search to interview men of high repute for wisdom but always came away unimpressed. Even as his constant questioning made him poor and unpopular, religious duty kept him asking and searching, trying to understand the Oracle’s meaning. In the end, he decided it meant that real wisdom is the exclusive property of the gods and Apollo’s reference to him was “as if he would say to us, The wisest of you men is he who has realized, like Socrates, that in respect of wisdom he is really worthless.”
— William J. Broad in The Oracle: The Lost Secrets and Hidden Message of Ancient Delphi, New York: Penguin Press, 2006,     p. 63.

"The effect of these investigations of mine, gentlemen, has been to arouse against me a great deal of hostility, and hostility of a particularly bitter and persistent kind, which has resulted in various malicious suggestions, and in having that term ‘wise’ applied to me. This is due to the fact that whenever I succeed in disproving another person’s claim to wisdom in a given subject, the bystanders assume that I know everything about that subject myself. But the truth of the matter, gentlemen, is likely to be this: that real wisdom is the property of the god (Apollo), and this oracle is his way of telling us that human wisdom has little or no value. It seems to me that he is not referring literally to Socrates, but has merely taken my name as an example, as if he would say to us, ‘The wisest of you men is he who has realized, like Socrates, that in respect of wisdom he is really worthless.”
— Socrates, as recounted by Plato in The Apology of Socrates. Available in The Last Days of Socrates, New York: Penguin Books, 2003,     p. 46.  Translated originally by Hugh Tredennick in 1954; revised translation by Harold Tarrant in 1993. Source: Entersection

(Michelangelo Buonarroti, The Delphic Sibyl, A fresco at the Sistine Chapel, 1509 (More)

William J. Broad on Socrates and the Oracle of Delphi:

"The Oracle had her biggest impact on Socrates. A native of Athens born a decade after the Persian wars, he became the most celebrated thinker of antiquity because of his uncompromising inquiries into ethics and moral philosophy. The Pythia’s relationship with him was beguiling in its simplicity. On a visit to Delphi, one of his students asked if any man was wiser. None, she replied. This declaration became a turning point that guided his inquiries. At the end of his life, at his trial for corrupting Athenian youth, Socrates testified that his pursuit of wisdom grew out of his puzzlement over this prophecy. Deeply aware of his own ignorance, and seeking to understand Apollo’s claim, Socrates said he began a lifelong search to interview men of high repute for wisdom but always came away unimpressed. Even as his constant questioning made him poor and unpopular, religious duty kept him asking and searching, trying to understand the Oracle’s meaning. In the end, he decided it meant that real wisdom is the exclusive property of the gods and Apollo’s reference to him was “as if he would say to us, The wisest of you men is he who has realized, like Socrates, that in respect of wisdom he is really worthless.”

William J. Broad in The Oracle: The Lost Secrets and Hidden Message of Ancient Delphi, New York: Penguin Press, 2006, p. 63.

"The effect of these investigations of mine, gentlemen, has been to arouse against me a great deal of hostility, and hostility of a particularly bitter and persistent kind, which has resulted in various malicious suggestions, and in having that term ‘wise’ applied to me. This is due to the fact that whenever I succeed in disproving another person’s claim to wisdom in a given subject, the bystanders assume that I know everything about that subject myself. But the truth of the matter, gentlemen, is likely to be this: that real wisdom is the property of the god (Apollo), and this oracle is his way of telling us that human wisdom has little or no value. It seems to me that he is not referring literally to Socrates, but has merely taken my name as an example, as if he would say to us, ‘The wisest of you men is he who has realized, like Socrates, that in respect of wisdom he is really worthless.”

— Socrates, as recounted by Plato in The Apology of Socrates. Available in The Last Days of Socrates, New York: Penguin Books, 2003, p. 46. Translated originally by Hugh Tredennick in 1954; revised translation by Harold Tarrant in 1993. Source: Entersection

Mar
20th
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The School of Athens by Raffaello Santi (Raphael) (1509-1510)
The School of Athens, or Scuola di Atene in Italian, is one of the most famous paintings by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael. It was painted between 1510 and 1511 as a part of Raphael’s commission to decorate with frescoes the rooms now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.  The title “School of Athens” is actually one of a group on the four walls of the Stanza (those on either side centrally interrupted by windows) that depict distinct themes of knowledge. Each theme is identified above by a separate tondo containing a majestic female figure seated in the clouds, with putti bearing the phrases: “Seek Knowledge of Causes”, “Divine Inspiration”, “Knowledge of Things Divine” (Disputa), “To Each What Is Due”. Accordingly, the figures on the walls below exemplify Philosophy, Poetry (including Music), Theology, Law. The “School” is therefore actually “Philosophy”, and its overhead tondo-label, “Causarum Cognitio” tells us what kind, as it appears to echo Aristotle’s emphasis on wisdom as knowing why, hence knowing the causes, in Metaphysics Book I and Metaphysics Book II. Indeed, Aristotle appears to be the central figure in the scene below. However all the philosophers depicted sought to understand through knowledge of first causes. Many lived before Plato and Aristotle, hardly a third were Athenians, and the architecture is Roman, not Greek.
The Academy (Ancient Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια) was founded by Plato in ca. 387 BC in Athens. Aristotle studied there for nineteen years before founding his own school at the Lyceum. The Academy persisted throughout the Hellenistic period as a  skeptical school, until coming to an end after the death of Philo of Larissa in 83 BC. Although philosophers continued to teach Plato’s philosophy in Athens during the Roman era, it was not until AD 410 that a revived Academy was re-established as a center for Neoplatonism, persisting until 529 AD when it was finally closed down by Justinian I.

The School of Athens by Raffaello Santi (Raphael) (1509-1510)

The School of Athens, or Scuola di Atene in Italian, is one of the most famous paintings by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael. It was painted between 1510 and 1511 as a part of Raphael’s commission to decorate with frescoes the rooms now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. The title “School of Athens” is actually one of a group on the four walls of the Stanza (those on either side centrally interrupted by windows) that depict distinct themes of knowledge. Each theme is identified above by a separate tondo containing a majestic female figure seated in the clouds, with putti bearing the phrases: “Seek Knowledge of Causes”, “Divine Inspiration”, “Knowledge of Things Divine” (Disputa), “To Each What Is Due”. Accordingly, the figures on the walls below exemplify Philosophy, Poetry (including Music), Theology, Law. The “School” is therefore actually “Philosophy”, and its overhead tondo-label, “Causarum Cognitio” tells us what kind, as it appears to echo Aristotle’s emphasis on wisdom as knowing why, hence knowing the causes, in Metaphysics Book I and Metaphysics Book II. Indeed, Aristotle appears to be the central figure in the scene below. However all the philosophers depicted sought to understand through knowledge of first causes. Many lived before Plato and Aristotle, hardly a third were Athenians, and the architecture is Roman, not Greek.

The Academy (Ancient Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια) was founded by Plato in ca. 387 BC in Athens. Aristotle studied there for nineteen years before founding his own school at the Lyceum. The Academy persisted throughout the Hellenistic period as a skeptical school, until coming to an end after the death of Philo of Larissa in 83 BC. Although philosophers continued to teach Plato’s philosophy in Athens during the Roman era, it was not until AD 410 that a revived Academy was re-established as a center for Neoplatonism, persisting until 529 AD when it was finally closed down by Justinian I.

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(Pythagoras reading the book, Hypatia and Parmenides? to the right of her - fragment of The School of Athens by Raffaello Santi (Raphael), 1509-1510)
Hypatia (Greek: Ὑπατία, Hypatía, pronounced /haɪˈpeɪʃə/ in English; born between AD 350 and 370; died March 415) was a Greek scholar from Alexandria in Egypt, is the earliest woman scientist whose life is well documented; she was also the last scientist of the Golden Age of Pericles, considered the first notable woman in mathematics, who also taught philosophy and astronomy. She lived in Roman Egypt, and was killed by a Christian mob who falsely blamed her for religious turmoil. Some suggest that her murder marked the end of what is traditionally known as Classical antiquity, although others such as Christian Wildberg observe that Hellenistic philosophy continued to flourish until the age of Justinian in the sixth century.
A Neoplatonist philosopher, she belonged to the mathematical tradition of the Academy of Athens represented by Eudoxus of Cnidus; she followed the school of the 3rd century thinker Plotinus, discouraging empirical enquiry and encouraging logical and mathematical studies. The name Hypatia derives from the adjective ὑπάτη, the feminine form of ὕπατος (upatos), meaning “highest, uppermost, supremest”.
Hypatia was the daughter of Theon, who was her teacher and the last known mathematician associated with the Museum of Alexandria. She traveled to both Athens and Italy to study, before becoming head of the Platonist school at Alexandria in approximately 400. According to the 10th century Byzantine encyclopedia the Suda, she worked as teacher of philosophy, teaching the works of Plato and Aristotle. It is believed that there were both Christians and foreigners among her students. Although Hypatia was herself a pagan, she was respected by a number of Christians, and later held up by Christian authors as a symbol of virtue. The Suda controversially declared her “the wife of Isidore the Philosopher" but agreed she had remained a virgin. Hypatia rebuffed a suitor by showing him her menstrual rags, claiming they demonstrated that there was "nothing beautiful" about carnal desires.  Hypatia maintained correspondence with her former pupil Synesius of Cyrene, who in AD 410 became bishop of Ptolemais. Together with the references by Damascius, these are the only writings with descriptions or information from her pupils that survive. The contemporary Christian historiographer Socrates Scholasticus described her in his Ecclesiastical History:
 “There was a woman at Alexandria named Hypatia, daughter of the philosopher Theon, who made such attainments in literature and science, as to far surpass all the philosophers of her own time. Having succeeded to the school of Plato and Plotinus, she explained the principles of philosophy to her auditors, many of whom came from a distance to receive her instructions. On account of the self-possession and ease of manner, which she had acquired in consequence of the cultivation of her mind, she not unfrequently appeared in public in presence of the magistrates. Neither did she feel abashed in going to an assembly of men. For all men on account of her extraordinary dignity and virtue admired her the more.”
(More: Hypatia, daughter of Theron, Librarian of Alexandria)
 Documentary on Hypatia and the city of Alexandria

This documentary shows footage of Alejandro Amenábar's last film “Agora" proving the historical accuracy of the movie. — Bettany Hughes’ TV Tour of the Ancient World, Channel 4, Full playlist

(Pythagoras reading the book, Hypatia and Parmenides? to the right of her - fragment of The School of Athens by Raffaello Santi (Raphael), 1509-1510)

Hypatia (Greek: Ὑπατία, Hypatía, pronounced /haɪˈpeɪʃə/ in English; born between AD 350 and 370; died March 415) was a Greek scholar from Alexandria in Egypt, is the earliest woman scientist whose life is well documented; she was also the last scientist of the Golden Age of Pericles, considered the first notable woman in mathematics, who also taught philosophy and astronomy. She lived in Roman Egypt, and was killed by a Christian mob who falsely blamed her for religious turmoil. Some suggest that her murder marked the end of what is traditionally known as Classical antiquity, although others such as Christian Wildberg observe that Hellenistic philosophy continued to flourish until the age of Justinian in the sixth century.

A Neoplatonist philosopher, she belonged to the mathematical tradition of the Academy of Athens represented by Eudoxus of Cnidus; she followed the school of the 3rd century thinker Plotinus, discouraging empirical enquiry and encouraging logical and mathematical studies. The name Hypatia derives from the adjective ὑπάτη, the feminine form of ὕπατος (upatos), meaning “highest, uppermost, supremest”.

Hypatia was the daughter of Theon, who was her teacher and the last known mathematician associated with the Museum of Alexandria. She traveled to both Athens and Italy to study, before becoming head of the Platonist school at Alexandria in approximately 400. According to the 10th century Byzantine encyclopedia the Suda, she worked as teacher of philosophy, teaching the works of Plato and Aristotle. It is believed that there were both Christians and foreigners among her students. Although Hypatia was herself a pagan, she was respected by a number of Christians, and later held up by Christian authors as a symbol of virtue. The Suda controversially declared her “the wife of Isidore the Philosopher" but agreed she had remained a virgin. Hypatia rebuffed a suitor by showing him her menstrual rags, claiming they demonstrated that there was "nothing beautiful" about carnal desires. Hypatia maintained correspondence with her former pupil Synesius of Cyrene, who in AD 410 became bishop of Ptolemais. Together with the references by Damascius, these are the only writings with descriptions or information from her pupils that survive. The contemporary Christian historiographer Socrates Scholasticus described her in his Ecclesiastical History:

“There was a woman at Alexandria named Hypatia, daughter of the philosopher Theon, who made such attainments in literature and science, as to far surpass all the philosophers of her own time. Having succeeded to the school of Plato and Plotinus, she explained the principles of philosophy to her auditors, many of whom came from a distance to receive her instructions. On account of the self-possession and ease of manner, which she had acquired in consequence of the cultivation of her mind, she not unfrequently appeared in public in presence of the magistrates. Neither did she feel abashed in going to an assembly of men. For all men on account of her extraordinary dignity and virtue admired her the more.”

(More: Hypatia, daughter of Theron, Librarian of Alexandria)

Documentary on Hypatia and the city of Alexandria


This documentary shows footage of Alejandro Amenábar's last film “Agora" proving the historical accuracy of the movie. Bettany Hughes’ TV Tour of the Ancient World, Channel 4, Full playlist

Feb
19th
Fri
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Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius, De Musica, ca. 1120-1150. Manuscripts Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library (via National Library of New Zealand), (via marsiouxpial) 
Boëthius (ca. 480–524 or 525) was a Christian philosopher of the early 6th century. He was born in Rome to an ancient and important family which included emperors Petronius Maximus  and Olybrius and many consuls. His father, Flavius Manlius Boethius, was consul in 487 after Odoacer deposed the last Western Roman Emperor. Boethius, of the noble Anicius lineage, entered public life at a young age and was already a senator by the age of 25. Boethius himself was consul in 510 in the kingdom of the Ostrogoths. In 522 he saw his two sons become consuls. Boethius was executed by King Theodoric the Great, who suspected him of conspiring with the Byzantine Empire.
Boethius’ De institutione musica, was one of the first musical works to be printed in Venice between the years of 1491 and 1492. It was written toward the beginning of the sixth century and helped medieval authors during the ninth century understand Greek music.
In his “De Musica”, Boethius introduced the fourfold classification of music: 1. Musica mundana — music of the spheres/world; 2. Musica humana — harmony of human body and spiritual harmony; 3. Musica instrumentalis — instrumental music (incl. human voice); 4. Musica divina — music of the gods  During the Middle Ages
Boethius was connected to several texts that were used to teach liberal arts. Although he did not address the subject of trivium, he did write many treatises explaining the principles of rhetoric, grammar, and logic. During the Middle Ages, his works of these disciplines were commonly used when studying the three elementary arts.

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius, De Musica, ca. 1120-1150. Manuscripts Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library (via National Library of New Zealand), (via marsiouxpial)

Boëthius (ca. 480–524 or 525) was a Christian philosopher of the early 6th century. He was born in Rome to an ancient and important family which included emperors Petronius Maximus and Olybrius and many consuls. His father, Flavius Manlius Boethius, was consul in 487 after Odoacer deposed the last Western Roman Emperor. Boethius, of the noble Anicius lineage, entered public life at a young age and was already a senator by the age of 25. Boethius himself was consul in 510 in the kingdom of the Ostrogoths. In 522 he saw his two sons become consuls. Boethius was executed by King Theodoric the Great, who suspected him of conspiring with the Byzantine Empire.

Boethius’ De institutione musica, was one of the first musical works to be printed in Venice between the years of 1491 and 1492. It was written toward the beginning of the sixth century and helped medieval authors during the ninth century understand Greek music.

In his “De Musica”, Boethius introduced the fourfold classification of music: 1. Musica mundana — music of the spheres/world; 2. Musica humana — harmony of human body and spiritual harmony; 3. Musica instrumentalis — instrumental music (incl. human voice); 4. Musica divina — music of the gods During the Middle Ages

Boethius was connected to several texts that were used to teach liberal arts. Although he did not address the subject of trivium, he did write many treatises explaining the principles of rhetoric, grammar, and logic. During the Middle Ages, his works of these disciplines were commonly used when studying the three elementary arts.

Feb
12th
Fri
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Plato’s Academy 
Mosaic from House of T Siminius Stephanus in Pompeii, 1 st century CE.
The Academy (Ancient Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια) was founded by Plato in ca. 387 BC in Athens. Aristotle studied there for nineteen years before founding his own school at the Lyceum. The Academy persisted throughout the Hellenistic period as a  skeptical school, until coming to an end after the death of Philo of Larissa in 83 BC. Although philosophers continued to teach Plato’s philosophy in Athens during the Roman era, it was not until AD 410 that a revived Academy was re-established as a center for Neoplatonism, persisting until 529 AD when it was finally closed down by Justinian I.

Plato’s Academy

Mosaic from House of T Siminius Stephanus in Pompeii, 1 st century CE.

The Academy (Ancient Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια) was founded by Plato in ca. 387 BC in Athens. Aristotle studied there for nineteen years before founding his own school at the Lyceum. The Academy persisted throughout the Hellenistic period as a skeptical school, until coming to an end after the death of Philo of Larissa in 83 BC. Although philosophers continued to teach Plato’s philosophy in Athens during the Roman era, it was not until AD 410 that a revived Academy was re-established as a center for Neoplatonism, persisting until 529 AD when it was finally closed down by Justinian I.

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