What Did the Romans Know?: An Inquiry into Science and Worldmaking

What Did the Romans Know?: An Inquiry into Science and Worldmaking


By (author) Daryn Lehoux

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  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Format: Hardback | 288 pages
  • Dimensions: 156mm x 230mm x 24mm | 522g
  • Publication date: 23 March 2012
  • Publication City/Country: Chicago, IL
  • ISBN 10: 0226471144
  • ISBN 13: 9780226471143
  • Illustrations note: 6 halftones, 4 line drawings, 2 tables
  • Sales rank: 746,385

Product description

What did the Romans know about their world? Quite a lot, as Daryn Lehoux makes clear in this fascinating and much-needed contribution to the history and philosophy of ancient science. Lehoux contends that even though many of the Romans' views about the natural world have no place in modern science - that umbrella-footed monsters and dog-headed people roamed the earth and that the stars foretold human destinies - their claims turn out not to be so radically different from our own. Lehoux explores a wide range of sources from what is unquestionably the most prolific period of ancient science, from the highly technical works of Galen and Ptolemy to the more philosophically oriented physics and cosmologies of Cicero, Lucretius, Plutarch, and Seneca. Examining the tools and methods that the Romans employed for their investigations of nature, as well as their cultural, intellectual, political, and religious contexts, Lehoux demonstrates that the Romans had sophisticated and novel approaches to nature, approaches that were empirically rigorous, philosophically rich, and epistemologically complex.

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Author information

Daryn Lehoux is professor of classics at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. He is the author of Astronomy, Weather, and Calendars in the Ancient World.

Review quote

"At the intersection of classics, history, and philosophy of science, this is a very original book that explores Roman ways of knowing the world, and shows how, despite seeming irrational or completely alien to us today, those views of nature did make perfect sense. Engagingly written, replete with insights and flashes of humor, and addressing current debates in several disciplines, What Did the Romans Know? will finally put to rest the idea that 'Roman science' is a contradiction in terms." (Serafina Cuomo, Birkbeck, University of London)"