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Cuvier’s History of the Natural Sciences

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Georges Cuvier

3. Aristotle and his disciples / Aristote et ses disciples

8. Aristotle’s History of Animals Continued

Texte intégral

METAMORPHOSIS. The life stages of a moth, male and female, shown associated with its plant host, a hand-colored copper engraving from Maria Sibylle Merian’s Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, Leiden: Gerald Valck, 1714, pl. 11.

  • 1 [Comparative anatomy, the comparative study of the body structures of different species of animals (...)

1We have spoken in a general manner about Aristotle’s History of Animals, which, until the seventeenth century, was the only treatise on comparative anatomy.1 We are now going to show what each part of this admirable work has that is most remarkable, and the astonishing perfection to which Aristotle brought several branches of zoological science.

  • 2 This verification was made three years ago by Monsieur [Étienne] Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire [“On the vi (...)

2In the “Treatise on the Senses,” he discusses the animals that have the most sense organs and those that lack some of these organs. Among the animals having eyes he places the mole, which was thought at the time not to have any. He describes this rudimentary eye with precision, indicating the nerve that goes to it, and in his description may be clearly recognized the nerve of the fifth pair. Until our time it had been doubted, in spite of Aristotle’s assertion, that the mole had eyes. But quite recently, his observation has been completely verified.2

3Aristotle was also well aware of the sense organs of fishes. As for taste, he describes the fleshy palate in the carp. He then points out that fishes are not deaf, as his contemporaries believed, that they have a hearing organ and are capable of coming when called. Also, he found that insects are in possession of the faculty of understanding, and they even have the sense of smell, since they are repelled by certain odors and attracted by others.

4In the “Treatise on the Voice,” Aristotle clearly distinguishes true voice, which is produced by the expulsion of air from the lungs, from the noise imitating the voice made by certain animals. He describes on this occasion with great accuracy the musical apparatus of grasshoppers and cicadas, which operates only by percussion and friction. He speaks of the voice of the parrot and the disposition of the frog’s tongue, which, instead of being fixed in back and free at the forward extremity, as in the majority of animals, has its base attached forward and its free tip turned towards the gullet.

5The “Treatise on Waking and Sleep” presents very interesting ideas on the hibernation of some animals and on sleep in fishes. It would be very difficult for us to deliver an opinion on this latter point, seeing that we are far from possessing the means of observing that Aristotle no doubt had at his disposal. He was, as we have already pointed out, in circumstances that were singularly favorable.

  • 3 [The earliest simple microscopes used drops of water captured in a small hole to function as a magn (...)

6The “Treatise on Generation” contains details striking for their accuracy and scope. Mentioned here are the membranes in which some mollusks envelop their eggs, and those of the cuttlefish and the octopus are described in particular. Aristotle explains the metamorphoses of insects, which consist in passing from the state of larva and chrysalis to arrive at their final form. He knows about incomplete metamorphoses in which the larva, differing from the insect only in its wings, acquires this apparatus of locomotion and undergoes but one metamorphosis. He speaks of insects that open up in the snow. But he believes in the system of spontaneous generation, upheld even today by certain backward naturalists. He thinks that when the constitutive elements are present in the necessary proportions and circumstances, living beings result. In Aristotle’s time, this error was almost unavoidable; for we were disabused in this regard only by the microscope, which was not invented until long after Aristotle, as we shall have occasion to see.3

  • 4 [Frigane, a kind of caddisfly of the trichopteran family Phryganeidae, the larvae of which, like ot (...)
  • 5 [Non nati, meaning literally “not born.”]
  • 6 [The fish to which Cuvier refers is Aphia minuta, commonly called the transparent goby in English, (...)
  • 7 [To explain the absence of freshwater eels (genus Anguilla) in a state of reproduction, Aristotle w (...)

7The history of the organization of the bees, so interesting and complicated, was not unknown to Aristotle. He notes that the insect known as the king could well be a female, or the queen, as some people in his time were claiming. He had observed that the queen’s cell was larger than the rest, that this privileged being took nourishment that was more succulent and more abundant. This knowledge is evidence of a singularly attentive examination into all the constructions of the bee; it is all the more astonishing as, in Aristotle’s time, glass was not so common that he might have used it to cover the hives, a procedure that greatly facilitates an examination of this sort. He also discusses the organization of the wasp, the hornet, the mason bees, and the bumblebee. He describes the peculiar case that envelops the larva of the frigane4 and mentions the spiders that carry under their belly a packet containing their eggs. On the subject of animals higher than the insect, he establishes an entirely proper distinction between eggs in a hard envelope, such as those of the crocodile and the tortoise, and eggs in a flexible envelope, such as those of the snake. He states that although the latter animal bears live young, they still have eggs; but that these eggs, instead of hatching exteriorly, open up inside the snake. The stages of development in the chicken during incubation were perfectly well known to Aristotle; he describes them day by day. He names the heart as the first point that appears, then the veins leading to the upper and lower parts of the animal, and finally the allantoid vesicle, which soon envelops the whole fetus. We must not forget that these observations were made with the naked eye, and the slight errors that we notice come from the fact that Aristotle did not have, as we do now, the powerful help of magnifying glasses. Aristotle states, on the subject of fish eggs, that they have no allantoid membrane, nor do those of any animals that effect respiration through gills. Moreover, he holds the opinion of spontaneous generation for fishes as he does for insects, and bases his opinion on points explained differently today. He cites, for example, the multitude of small fishes seen to appear suddenly at certain riverbanks and which seem to spring from the mud under the sole influence of warmth and moisture. The Greeks called these fish aphia, which expresses the idea that the Greeks had about the mode of formation. In France, on the coast of Provence, the phenomenon mentioned by Aristotle often occurs and the inhabitants call the little fishes that appear suddenly by a name similar to the Greek, namely, nonnats, from the Latin non nati.5 We now know that these “spontaneous generations” are due to the spawn of certain fishes, deposited beforehand in the mud, and the favorable atmospheric circumstances that effect hatching.6 What Aristotle reports about [spontaneous generation in] eels is most assuredly incorrect; but we ourselves, despite Spallanzani’s researches, have much to learn about this animal’s reproduction.7

  • 8 [Aristotle knew and named as many as one hundred and seventeen species of fishes, but “what is most (...)

8Aristotle indicates the changes resulting from age in animals and men, and on this occasion he gives excellent advice to mothers. He then concentrates on the habits of animals, their ways of life, and their instincts; points out the importance of their way of life, the importance of external circumstances, the climate, the seasons, the environment in which the different species live; and indicates the food that is appropriate to each species. What he tells about fishes is especially interesting and could be of great help if his nomenclature were better known to us.8

  • 9 [What does Cuvier (or his editor M. de St.-Agy) mean here? The Black Sea and the Euxine are one and (...)
  • 10 [Propontis is an old name for the inland Sea of Marmara that partly separates the Asiatic and Europ (...)
  • 11 [Boback or Pontus rat, the mus Ponticus mentioned by Pliny as a fur-bearing animal, is commonly sup (...)

9Regarding the seasons, he discusses their influence on the migration of birds; he writes of birds that migrate, the time they leave, the order they observe in flight. He is also interested in the migration of fishes, the mackerel, the tuna, and the sardine. He reports that legions of fishes leave the Black Sea and enter the Euxine.9 He indicates their route through the Propontis10 to the Archipelago. It seems he has observed them on the coast of Thrace, but mainly at Byzantium. He notices that the same fish has, at different times and according to the degree of its development, different names; for example, one called cordyle in the Black Sea, is called pelamide in spring, and is called the tuna when it reaches the Archipelago. At this point he mentions fishes that are not seen at all in winter, and also other animals, as, for example, the boback or Pontus rat, which appears only at certain times of the year.11

10Aristotle even knew about the diseases of fishes, and in this regard his knowledge is much more extensive than our own.

  • 12 [Anglerfish, any of about 323 living species of marine fishes of the order Lophiiformes (but here C (...)
  • 13 [Torpedo, also called electric ray, numbfish, or crampfish, any of the rays of the families Torpedi (...)
  • 14 [Cuckoo, any of numerous birds of the family Cuculidae (order Cuculiformes). The name usually desig (...)

11In the description of various sorts of ingenuity in animals, he indicates the ruse employed by the anglerfish to attract the small fishes necessary to its survival; he says that for this purpose it deploys its long tentacles so as to look like worms.12 He also indicates the trick of the cuttlefish, which, in order to elude the pursuit of an enemy, spreads a black liquid to screen itself from view. And again, he mentions the violent movements produced by the torpedo fish when about to be caught.13 Turning to the insects, he pauses at some of them and especially at the spiders, which weave and spread with great skill webs for snaring flies, whose blood they love to suck. Birds are then the subject of his examination. He describes the different ways in which they build their nests, points out the species that do not build nests, and gives the history of the cuckoo, which lays its eggs in the nests of strangers.14

12Aristotle then considers the docility of animals, whether they are more or less capable of being tamed. In this respect he enters into great detail on the lion, the camel, and even the dolphins.

13You see, Messieurs, from this discussion, the richness and abundance of the topics treated in the History of Animals. It is assuredly one of the most admirable works that antiquity has left us, and one of the greatest monuments that the genius of man has raised to the natural sciences. Yet it presents a fault that diminishes somewhat its utility for us. Like all ancient naturalists, Aristotle seems to have believed that the names by which his world designated the animals would never change, and almost always he confines himself to naming the species without giving the description. The result is that it is extremely difficult in very many cases to recognize the animals that Aristotle is naming. He scarcely gave a description, as such, for the camel, the elephant, the crocodile, and the chameleon. A few other animals, I admit, are designated by characteristic traits and may be recognized, but ordinarily we have for clues to identification only a few circumstances of the life of the animal, or characteristics attributed to it. In order to recognize the animal we must collect the various passages where it is mentioned, and compare them with each other and with passages found in contemporary authors. We are even obliged to bring together passages taken from writers in a later era, but then we need to exercise great caution, for the meanings of terms vary greatly with time. Since the time of Aristotle, up until that of Athenaeus, the names underwent changes – all the more reason for their having changed between Aristotle’s time and our own. However, the names of some animals have been kept with only slight modification by modern Greeks, and from the study of appellations still in use in present Greece one may as a consequence derive identifications that are not without value.

  • 15 [Theodorus of Gaza (born c. 1400, died in 1478), a Greek from Thessalonica who went to Italy in 142 (...)

14We possess a great number of translations of the History of Animals. The first, and one that is cited in error and most often, is by Theodore Gaza,15 a Greek who went to Italy after Constantinople fell to the Turks, and who was not well versed in the knowledge of either Latin or natural history. This double ignorance caused him to insert word for word many passages from Pliny, passages that the latter had borrowed from Aristotle and which were incorrectly rendered. It appears, moreover, that Gaza had only a poor copy of the Greek text.

  • 16 [Julius-Caesar Scaliger also spelled Scaligeri (Giulio Cesare della Scala, born 23 April 1484, Riva (...)
  • 17 [Johann Gottlob Schneider (born 1750 at Kollmen, near Oscharz, just southeast of Leipzig; died at B (...)

15The Latin translation given by Julius-Caesar Scaliger in 1619 is much to be preferred to the one by the Greek author.16 But the best of all is the one that Monsieur Schneider published in 1811, in Greek and in Latin.17 This translation cost the author thirty years of work, and it brings together the advantage of a complete correction of the text and an informed and judicious critique.

  • 18 [Armand Gaston Camus (born 1740, died 1804), published a French edition in 1783, at Paris, two volu (...)

16France has a translation of the History of Animals in the vernacular; it is by Monsieur Camus.18 The text when placed next to Scaliger’s is nearly the same, and the French version is as good as one could expect from a man who was not a naturalist. But the notes, in which the author means to clarify the text, only muddle it and give wrong ideas about it. Camus borrowed these notes from some modern authors who did not have sufficient knowledge of natural history and the writings of Aristotle.

17The other works of this great philosopher on natural history are much less correct, and very much less clear. They are full of discussions on the meaning of technical terms. The Greek language lent itself –as German does in our day– to these sorts of discussions. In reality, each scientific word in Greek is a short definition of the object referred to. Now, this definition can call to mind only the ideas conceived by its inventor about the observed object; therefore, when knowledge comes to be increased or is merely changed, the scientific word becomes the occasion of interminable discussions about its true meaning. Thus, Greek writers constantly explain their terms by means of infinite distinctions and sub-distinctions. Aristotle, I repeat, is to be reproached for this sometimes; but those of his works that exhibit this fault appear to be much earlier than the History of Animals, and are very likely preparatory writings.

  • 19 [Marvelous tales or On Marvelous things heard, included in the traditional corpus aristotelicum but (...)

18This remark is especially applicable to his Marvelous Tales, which are scarcely more than random notes, but which yet are valuable in that they introduce us to many extracts from works that have been lost or destroyed. Beckmann brought out a fine edition of this in 1786.19

  • 20 [On plants belongs to the same category as On Marvelous things heard; its spuriousness has never be (...)

19A book on plants has been attributed to Aristotle that does not seem to be his; very likely it is an apocryphal work.20

20Aristotle served the sciences not only through his written works; he also contributed to their development and their propagation by the use he made of his high social position. As preceptor to Alexander he inspired in that young prince a taste for the natural sciences, and it was no doubt due to his counsels that the conqueror took with him on his expedition men schooled in these labors in which he participated. Without this precaution, the new invasion by the Greeks would have contributed no more to the progress of natural history than did the expedition of the Ten Thousand, and one would not have been able to substitute for the fabulous tales of Ctesias true reports written by educated men placed in the circumstances that were necessary for studying all things. Among the learned men who accompanied Alexander was Callisthenes, who, even before his departure, had written a treatise on plants, and one on anatomy in which he describes the interior of the eye far better than anyone before him. The fact that his observations in the Orient did not come down to us is due to the tragic death of this naturalist; but it is probable that up to the moment of his disgrace he maintained a continual correspondence with Aristotle, who was his kinsman and his master, and so in this way his studies were not entirely lost for science.

  • 21 [Psittacus alexandri, now generally placed in the genus Psittacula, the Moustached Parakeet, consis (...)

21Moreover, the Greek conquests under Alexander have a character that is almost unique. Most of the great invasions that are preserved for us in historical accounts were the violence of half-savage hordes that, having precipitated themselves upon civilized nations, spread their ignorance and barbarity everywhere. But the expedition of Alexander shows us a people already very advanced in civilization, carrying light into the countries they penetrate and enriching themselves in return with all that the vanquished have that is beautiful and useful. It is during this expedition that the Greeks discovered the elephant, which would soon be employed with great success in the armies of various occidental princes. It is also during this conquest that they accepted peafowl, which excited the admiration of the Greeks with their striking plumage when displayed to them, in lieu of retribution. Finally, that same conquest procured parrots, the first discovered species having a name among naturalists that recalls the epoch of their introduction: Psittacus alexandri, a small green parrot with a scarlet collar, a long greenish-yellow tail, and a belly tinted with a green so light that it appears yellowish.21

  • 22 [Nearchus (died probably 312 B.C.), officer in the Macedonian army under Alexander the Great who, o (...)
  • 23 [Onesicritus, or Onesicrates, of Aegina or Astypaleia, one of the writers on Alexander the Great (s (...)
  • 24 [Harmozie, probably Hormuz; but this is a strait not a port, which links the Persian Gulf (west) wi (...)

22Alexander’s empire extended from the Adriatic Sea to the Indus River, but the scientific exploration carried out under his rule embraced a much larger area. When he had descended the Indus, he ordered his admiral Nearchus22 to continue proceeding by sea and he assigned to him the philosopher Onesicritus.23 The fleet entering a sea new to the Greeks, and sailing always westward, arrived at the port of Harmozie,24 situated near the mouth of the Persian Gulf. On its voyage the fleet had many contacts with coastal peoples, and in the report of this voyage are several descriptions of plants and of terrestrial and aquatic animals observed at the landfalls. One finds in this narrative the description of the tree that produces cotton and a mention of the Indians’ use of this fine soft down in their garments. One also finds the description of the royal or striped tiger, and of the whale, the jawbones of which were used by the coastal inhabitants in building their houses.

  • 25 [Antigonus I Monophthalmus (“One-Eyed”), also called Antigonus I Cyclops (born 382 B.C.; died 301, (...)
  • 26 [Demetrius I Poliorcetes (born 336 B.C., Macedonia; died 283, Cilicia, now in Turkey), king of Mace (...)
  • 27 [Battle of Ipsus, military engagement fought at Ipsus, Phrygia, in 301 B.C. between two camps of th (...)
  • 28 [Cassander (born c. 358 B.C.; died 297 B.C.), son of the Macedonian regent Antipater and king of Ma (...)
  • 29 [Arsinoe, related to the Macedonian Argead dynasty, was the mother of Ptolemy I Soter (born 367/366 (...)
  • 30 [Arrian, see Lesson 14, note 16.]

23After the untimely death of Alexander in 324 B.C., his vast empire was dismembered by his lieutenants who fought one another over the pieces, and for a while there was extreme confusion. But soon, after Perdiccas was killed by his soldiers, and later when Antigonus25 and his son Demetrius Poliorcetes26 were defeated in Phrygia at the Battle of Ipsus,27 three kingdoms were formed that seemed bound to survive for a while. Cassander28 reigned in Macedonia, Seleucus in Syria and the neighboring countries, and Ptolemy in Egypt. The first of these kings seems to have been the only one who did not love science and letters. He ruled Greece in a military fashion, tyrannizing over Athens and suppressing the taste for scholarly pursuits. The conduct of the other two kings was quite different: they protected scholars and cultivated letters themselves with some success. Ptolemy, illegitimate son of Philip’s mistress Arsinoe,29 and consequently Alexander’s half-brother, had been his captain; he wrote an account of the conquests, and it was from this account that Arrian30 composed his history.

24Ptolemy and Seleucus each founded a library like Aristotle’s, their master, and perhaps according to advice they had received on the subject earlier. Before Aristotle, some private individuals had actually collected books for the purpose of diversion; but no one had any idea of the powerful help that the establishment of a library could provide for the study of the sciences, and consequently for their progress. It was Aristotle who first collected written works in order to refer to them as the need arose. His library, which seems to have been quite considerable, was combined with the library in Alexandria by Ptolemy, who had purchased it from Neleus.

25The empire of Seleucus was more extensive that the other two; but it was soon divided and its fragments composed the kingdoms of Pontus, Cappodocia, Pergamum, Bactria, and Bithynia.

26Ptolemy’s kingdom was the most circumscribed, but on the other hand it was the most tranquil, and was soon to reach a high degree of prosperity under the influence of the conditions that had made Egypt a flourishing realm during the ancient dynasties. Certain conquests extended it somewhat to the south, and it was the richest country, the most industrious, and for a long time the best administered of all those that had been part of Alexander’s vast empire. Ptolemy, whose reign lasted for thirty years, had established his library at Alexandria, a town that already announced its future grandeur as soon as it was born. He drew there the scholars of various countries and assured them of an honorable life, near the library, so that they could cultivate without hindrance the sciences and philosophy. The institution called the Museum was from the beginning favored by the rarest of circumstances, for, in addition to the enlightened protection by its founder and the help afforded by its immense library, it received numerous advantages from the geographical location of the place where it was established. In a short time, Alexandria became the center of commerce for all the peoples of the Mediterranean and of Arabia, Central Africa, Persia, and India; natural productions of every kind and travelers from every country flowed into Alexandria. The Museum’s scholars were thus able to attain a rapid growth in the domain of the sciences. But note that this progress was a continuation of Greek science and not Egyptian, for the philosophers whom Ptolemy drew to Egypt came from Greece, and they brought with them knowledge much superior to Egypt’s own, where foreign oppressors and domestic troubles had for a long time almost destroyed learning.

  • 31 [Straton of Lampsacus, Straton also spelled Strato, Latin Strato Physicus (died c. 270 B.C.), Greek (...)
  • 32 [(Wilhelm Peter) Eduard (Simon) Rüppell (born 20 November 1794, Frankfurt am Main; died 10 December (...)

27The son and successor of Ptolemy Lagus, Ptolemy Philadelphus, who began in 285 B.C. a reign of forty years, also protected the sciences with enlightened munificence. For tutor he had had Strato,31 a disciple of Aristotle, surnamed the Naturalist because of his great application to natural history. Philadelphus, like his master, gave himself to this science with much ardor; of a peaceable nature and weak in health, he sought in study a compensation for the pleasures that the nature of his constitution forbade him. Strato had composed a work, which we no longer possess, on animals real and fabulous. Ptolemy Philadelphus was also interested in zoology and it is to him that we owe the first menagerie ever, and doubtless also the richest ever. In addition to having immense wealth at his disposal, he was situated so as to be able readily to procure the various animals of the globe. The commerce of Egypt with the African interior made it easy for him to obtain the animals of this country, which arrived over land or descended the Nile; those from Asia Minor and Europe came to him over the Mediterranean; and those from India by way of the Red Sea. The details preserved by history of a feast that he gave in honor of his father inform us of the abundance of his menagerie. Ptolemy Soter had traveled through India in following Alexander and the intention was to allude to his travels by representing on this occasion the triumph of Bacchus. The god’s cortege presented such an unusual variety of animals that all the sovereigns of Europe would certainly not succeed in collecting one like it today. There were elephants, white deer of India, hartebeests, ostriches, and oryx harnessed to chariots. One saw camels laden with aromatics and other valuable products of the Orient; sheep from Ethiopia, panthers, ounces, leopards, rhinoceros, twenty-four lions of the largest size, and white bears. People were amazed for a long time by the presence of these last animals at Ptolemy’s feast; knowing only those of the frozen seas, they wondered how the king of Egypt succeeded in bringing them from those parts. Monsieur Rüppell32 some time ago cleared up this difficulty; he informed us that white bears are found in Lebanon, and it is most likely that Ptolemy’s came from those mountains.

28It may be imagined that this prince’s menagerie was of great value to men devoted to the study of natural history. The menagerie was all the more useful to them since it had long been the custom in Egypt to raise within the temple precincts various species of animals, their ways being observed and their bodies embalmed after death. Science, then, already somewhat developed, was able to make new progress. Also, Alexandria possessed notable anatomists and zoologists during the reign of the Peripatetic philosophers.

  • 33 [Demosthenes (died 413 B.C.), Athenian general who proved to be an imaginative strategist during th (...)
  • 34 [On the model of Plato’s Academy, the Athenian schools of philosophy –Aristotle’s Lyceum, Epicurus’ (...)

29But we must now retrace our steps and return to Athens, and follow the development of philosophy after the death of Aristotle, who lived, as I have said, until 322 B.C., the same year Demosthenes33 ended his own life in order to avoid capture by Antipater. Before this time, the Macedonian yoke was already felt by Greece, but after the death of Aristotle and Demosthenes, Athens was in fact under the yoke of the king of Macedonia. However, since Athens kept its autonomy and internal administration, which placed it in almost the same situation as certain imperial towns later on in Germany, schools continued to flourish there, as much as the troubles permitted. These schools were the Academy, where Plato’s ideas dominated; the Lyceum, where the Aristotelian method continued to be followed; and the Porch or Stoa,34 begun by the Cynics.

  • 35 [Theophrastus (born c. 372 B.C., Eresus, Lesbos; died c. 287), Greek Peripatetic philosopher and pu (...)
  • 36 [Menedemus of Eretria (born c. 339 B.C.; died c. 265), Greek philosopher who founded the Eretrian s (...)

30The most famous of the philosophers of the Lyceum was Theophrastus,35 who was fourteen years younger than Aristotle. He was born at Eresus on Lesbos, and is believed to have been a student of Plato’s before entering the school of Aristotle, his friend and master. His original name was Tyrtamus. The name Theophrastus, which means godly speaker, was given him by the founder of the Lyceum because of his eloquence, which must have been considerable indeed since he is supposed to have had more than two thousand pupils. It is said that when Aristotle was asked about the successor he would prefer to have as director of his school, he indicated Theophrastus as his choice by calling for wine from Rhodes and wine from Lesbos and saying that the former was strong but the latter was sweeter, which seemed better to him. Now, Theophrastus was from Lesbos, as I have said, and his rival, Menedemus,36 was from Rhodes.

  • 37 [Another Sophocles, not to be confused with Sophocles (born about 496 B.C. at Colonus, a village ou (...)

31Like his master, Theophrastus was persecuted; a certain Sophocles,37 who was a praetor at the time, accused him of impiety, and Theophrastus was banished with other philosophers in 306 B.C. But he was soon recalled and his accuser underwent in his turn the punishment of exile.

32Theophrastus, pressed by Ptolemy Lagus to come live at Alexandria, preferred to remain at Athens and direct the Lyceum. Gifted with a remarkable grace of speech, gentle of character, pure in his conduct, well intentioned and careful of his person, he was the object of affection and respect of all his countrymen. Therefore, when he died, at age 85 according to some authors, at 107 according to others, the entire populace of Athens followed his funeral procession. He bequeathed his house to his friends on condition that they would never sell it and would meet there to cultivate letters and philosophy. This is the first gift ever made to science by a private individual, and he imitated as much as he could the example given by Ptolemy Lagus while alive. Theophrastus also left his garden to his friends, where he had assembled a rather considerable number of plants, exotic and indigenous; but since glass was little known, and no one thought to use it to construct hot-houses, plants from the equatorial regions were in noticeably poor condition. There are gaps in Theophrastus’s descriptions that are due only to the lack of this means of observation. However, Theophrastus’s botanical garden was without doubt of great use to science, and we shall note that it is only to the school of Aristotle that such an establishment belongs, the first of all the botanical gardens that have been formed since.

  • 38 [Jean de La Bruyère (born August 1645, Paris; died 10/11 May 1696, Versailles), French satiric mora (...)

33Outside of his book of Characters, which was imitated by La Bruyère,38 Theophrastus wrote a host of treatises, on plants, animals, minerals, etc. According to Diogenes Laërtius, who has preserved some of their titles, there were more than two hundred of these treatises. We possess the most important ones and some of the less important. They are all remarkable for their excellent method and their great wit, correctness, and grace of expression. We shall speak of them in our next meeting.

Notes

1 [Comparative anatomy, the comparative study of the body structures of different species of animals in order to understand the adaptive changes they have undergone in the course of evolution from common ancestors (Cole (Francis Joseph), A History of Comparative Anatomy, from Aristotle to the Eighteenth Century, London: Macmillan and Co Ltd, 1949, viii + 524 p.) The field is largely confined to the study of the vertebrate animals. Modern comparative anatomy dates from the work of Pierre Belon (born 1517, near Le Mans, France; died April 1564, Paris; French naturalist whose discussion of dolphin embryos and systematic comparisons of the skeletons of birds and humans mark the beginnings of modern embryology and comparative anatomy), who in 1555 showed that the skeletons of humans and birds are constructed of similar elements arranged in the same way. From this humble beginning, knowledge of comparative anatomy advanced rapidly in the eighteenth century with the work of the Count de Buffon and Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton (see Lesson 7, note 39), who compared the anatomies of a wide range of animals. In the early nineteenth century, Baron Georges Cuvier placed the field on a more scientific basis by asserting that animals’ structural and functional characteristics result from their interaction with their environment. Cuvier also rejected the eighteenth-century notion that the members of the animal kingdom are arranged in a single linear series from the simplest up to humans. Instead Cuvier arranged all animals into four large groups (vertebrates, mollusks, articulates, and radiates) according to body plan (see Cuvier (Georges), Leçons d’anatomie comparée, Paris: Baudouin, 1800-1805, 5 vols (vol 1: Organes du mouvement, XXXII + 522 p. et 4 tabl. en dépl.; vol. 2: Organes des sensations, XVI + 699 p.; vol. 3: Première partie des organes de la digestion, XXVIII + 560 p.; vol. 4: Suite des organes de la digestion, ceux de la circulation, de la respiration et de la voix, XII + 542 p.; vol. 5: Organes de la génération et des secrétions excrémentielles ou des excrétions, VIII + 368 p. et 52 pls); Le règne animal distribué d’après son organisation, pour servir de base à l’histoire naturelle des animaux et d’introduction à l’anatomie comparée [nouvelle édition, revue et augmentée], PaParis: Déterville, 1829, 5 vols). Another great figure in the field was the mid-nineteenth-century British anatomist Sir Richard Owen, whose vast knowledge of vertebrate structure did not prevent him from opposing Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution (Owen’s monumental work was the Descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue of the Physiological Series of Comparative Anatomy published in 5 volumes between 1833-1840; see Owen (Richard S.), The Life of Richard Owen, by his grandson Richard Owen [with the scientific portions revised by Sherborn C. Davies and an essay on Owen’s position in anatomical science by Huxley T. H.], London: J. Murray, 1894-1895, 2 vols; Rupke (Nicolaas A.), Richard Owen, Victorian Naturalist, New Haven (Connecticut): Yale University Press, 1994, xvii + 462 p.) Darwin (born 12 February 1809, Shrewsbury, England; died 19 April 1882, Down House, Downe, Kent, England) made extensive use of comparative anatomy in advancing his theory, and it in turn revolutionized the field by explaining the structural differences between species as arising out of their evolutionary descent by natural selection from a common ancestor (Darwin (Charles), On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or, The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle For Life, London: J. Murray, 1859, ix + 502 p.) Since Darwin’s time, the study of comparative anatomy has centered largely on body structures that are homologous – i.e., structures in different species that have the same evolutionary origin regardless of their present-day function. Such structures may look quite different and perform different tasks, but they can still be traced back to a common structure in an animal that was ancestral to both. For example, the forelimbs of humans, birds, crocodiles, bats, dolphins, and rodents have been modified by evolution to perform different functions, but they are all evolutionarily traceable to the fins of crossopterygian fishes, in which that basic arrangement of bones was first established. Analogous structures, by contrast, may resemble each other because they perform the same function, but they have different evolutionary origins and often a different structure, the wings of insects and of birds being a prime example of this. For a book-length history of comparative anatomy, see Cole (Francis Joseph), A History of Comparative Anatomy, op. cit.]

2 This verification was made three years ago by Monsieur [Étienne] Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire [“On the vision of the mole”, Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal, 1829, pp. 340-341; see Lesson 6, note 24]. [M. de St.-Agy.]

3 [The earliest simple microscopes used drops of water captured in a small hole to function as a magnifying lens. It is not clear when crude glass lenses first began to be employed, but by the seventeenth century Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (born 24 October 1632, Delft, Netherlands; died 26 August 1723, Delft), a Dutch scientist, had developed techniques for making good-quality ground lenses for simple microscopes (see Leeuwenhoek (Antoni van), Antoni van Leeuwenhoek 1632-1723: studies on the life and work of the Delft scientist commemorating the 350th anniversary of his birthday [edited by Palm Lodewijk C. & Snelders Henricus Adrianus Marie], Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1982, 209 p.) These were limited in magnifying power and were used primarily for botanical studies. The compound microscope, using an objective and an eyepiece, was first described in the sixteenth century, but all drawings of the period indicate very impractical arrangements of lenses. The first useful compound microscope was constructed in the Netherlands sometime between 1590 and 1608. Three spectacle makers – Hans Janssen, his son Zacharias (born 1580, died 1638), and Hans Lippershey (born 1570, Wesel, Germany; died September 1619, Middelburg, Netherlands) – have each received credit for the invention. This early microscope was limited by the use of very simple lenses, and the resolution was limited by blurring due to spherical aberration and chromatic aberration. For more on the early history of the development of the microscope, see Dobell (Clifford), Antony van Leeuwenhoek and his “Little animals” [being some account of the father of protozoology and bacteriology and his multifarious discoveries in these disciplines; collected, translated, and edited from his printed works, unpublished manuscripts, and contemporary records, by Dobell Clifford... published on the 300th anniversary of his birth], New York: Harcourt; Brace & company, 1932, vii + 435 p.; Ford (Brian J.), Single Lens: The Story of the Simple Microscope, New York: Harper & Row, 1985, x + 182 p.]

4 [Frigane, a kind of caddisfly of the trichopteran family Phryganeidae, the larvae of which, like other members of their order, construct cases (houses) of bits of leaves, twigs, sand grains, pebbles, or other materials, and principally live in swamps and lakes.]

5 [Non nati, meaning literally “not born.”]

6 [The fish to which Cuvier refers is Aphia minuta, commonly called the transparent goby in English, but, to this day, called the “nonnat” in France (Wheeler (Alwyne C.), Key to the Fishes of Northern Europe. A Guide to the Identification of More Than 350 Species [illustrated by Stebbing Peter, maps drawn by Fraser Rodney F.], London: Frederick Warne, 1978, xix + 380 p.) It is widely distributed in the eastern Atlantic, ranging from Norway to Morocco, and throughout the Mediterranean and Black Sea. A colorless, slender-bodied goby, it reaches a maximum length of 5.1 cm and lives in huge schools, in a variety of inshore and estuarine marine habitats, from the surface down to 70-80 m. It spawns from May to August, the females laying up to 2000 eggs in empty bivalve shells and other bottom debris. A so-called “annual” fish, individuals live for only a single year and die soon after spawning.]

7 [To explain the absence of freshwater eels (genus Anguilla) in a state of reproduction, Aristotle was convinced that they “proceed neither from pairing [of male and female] nor from the egg… their existence and sustenance is derived from rainwater” (Historia animalium, bk. 6, chap. 16). Spallanzani, among numerous others, attempted to resolve the problem without success in the French edition of his Voyage dans les deux Siciles et dans quelques parties des Appenins [tr. from Italian from Toscan G.; with notes by Faujasde-St.-Fond], Paris: Maradan, 1800, 6 t. in 3 vols, originally published in Italian [Viaggi alle due Sicilie e in alcune parti dell’appennino dell’abbate Lazzaro Spallanzani, Pavia: Nella stamperia di Baldassare comini, 1792-1797, 6 vols]; there is also an English translation [Travels in the two Sicilies, and some parts of the Apennines, London: G. C. & J. Robinson, 1798, 4 vols]. Lazzaro Spallanzani (born 12 January 1729, Modena, Duchy of Modena; died 1799, Pavia, Cisalpine Republic), Italian physiologist who made important contributions to the experimental study of bodily functions and animal reproduction (see Spallanzani (Lazzaro), Mémoires sur la respiration, par Lazare Spallanzani [traduits en Français, d’après son manuscrit inédit, par Senebier Jean], Geneva: J. J. Paschoud, 1803, viii + 873 p.; Rapports de l’air avec les êtres organisés ou traité de l’action du poumon et de la peau des animaux sur l’air, comme de celle des plantes sur ce fluide, Geneva: J. J. Paschoud, 1807, 3 vols). His investigations into the development of microscopic life in nutrient culture solutions paved the way for the research of Louis Pasteur (born 27 December 1822, at Dole in eastern France; died 28 September 1895, Paris).]

8 [Aristotle knew and named as many as one hundred and seventeen species of fishes, but “what is most regrettable in this mass of such precise information is that the author did not suspect that the nomenclature used in his time would come to be obscure, and that he took no precaution to make recognizable the species about which he was writing. This is a general fault among ancient naturalists; one is almost obliged to guess the meanings of the names they used. Even tradition has changed and leads us into error: it is only by very laborious calculations and by bringing together and comparing the characteristics scattered among the authors that one succeeds in getting fairly positive results for some species, but we are still condemned to be ignorant of the majority of them” (Cuvier (Georges), “Tableau historique des progrès de l’ichtyologie, depuis son origine jusqu’à nos jours”, in Cuvier (Georges) & Valenciennes (Achille), Histoire Naturelle des Poissons, Paris: Levrault, 1828, vol. 1, p. 23; Historical Portrait of the Progress of Ichthyology, from Its Origins to Our Own Time [edited and annotated by Pietsch Theodore W., translated from the French by Simpson Abby J.], Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995, p. 20).]

9 [What does Cuvier (or his editor M. de St.-Agy) mean here? The Black Sea and the Euxine are one and the same.]

10 [Propontis is an old name for the inland Sea of Marmara that partly separates the Asiatic and European parts of Turkey. It is connected through the Bosporus on the northeast with the Black Sea and through the Dardanelles on the southwest with the Aegean Sea.]

11 [Boback or Pontus rat, the mus Ponticus mentioned by Pliny as a fur-bearing animal, is commonly supposed, though without actual proof, to be the ermine, Mustela erminea.]

12 [Anglerfish, any of about 323 living species of marine fishes of the order Lophiiformes (but here Cuvier refers specifically to the monkfish of the Mediterranean, Lophius piscapiscatorius; see Cuvier (Georges), “Sur le genre Chironectes Cuv. (Antennarius. Commers.)”, Mémoires du Muséum d’Histoire naturelle, Paris, vol. 3, 1817, pp. 418-435; Caruso (John H.), “The systematics and distribution of the lophiid anglerfishes: II. Revisions of the genera Lophiomus and Lophius”, Copeia, 1983, vol. 1, pp. 11-30). Anglers are named for their method of “fishing” for their prey. The foremost spine of the dorsal fin is located on the head and is modified into a “fishing rod” tipped with a fleshy, often worm-like “bait.” Prey fishes that are attracted to this lure stray close enough for the anglerfish to swallow them (Pietsch (Theodore W.) & Grobecker (David B.), Frogfishes of the world: systematics, zoogeography, and behavioral ecology, Stanford (California): Stanford University Press, 1987, xxii + 420 p.) Often bizarre in form, anglerfishes are also characterized by small gill openings and by limb-like pectoral and (in some species) pelvic fins.]

13 [Torpedo, also called electric ray, numbfish, or crampfish, any of the rays of the families Torpedinidae, Narkidae, and Temeridae, named for their ability to produce electrical shocks (Hunter (John), “Anatomical observations on the torpedo”, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, vol. 63, 1774, pp. 481-489; Walsh (John), “Of the electric property of the torpedo. In a letter from John Walsh, Esq; F.R.S. to Benjamin Franklin, Esq; LL.D., F.R.S. Ac. R. Par. Soc. Ext., andc.”, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, vol. 63, 1774, pp. 461-480). They are found worldwide in warm and temperate waters. The electric organs, composed of modified muscle tissue, are in the disk, one on each side of the head. The shock from these organs is used in defense, sensory location, and capturing prey. Electric shocks emitted reach 220 volts and are strong enough to fell a human adult. In ancient Greece and Rome, the shocks of Torpedo nobiliana were used as a treatment for gout, headache, and other maladies.]

14 [Cuckoo, any of numerous birds of the family Cuculidae (order Cuculiformes). The name usually designates some 60 arboreal members of the subfamilies Cuculinae and Phaenicophaeinae. In western Europe “cuckoo,” without modifiers, refers to the most common local form, elsewhere called the common, or European, cuckoo (Cuculus canorus). The attribute for which the cuckoos are best known is the habit of brood parasitism, found in all of the Cuculinae and three species of Phaenicophaeinae. It consists of laying the eggs singly in the nests of certain other bird species to be incubated by the foster parents, who rear the young cuckoo.] Monsieur [Franz Joseph] Gall [born 9 March 1758, Tiefenbronn, Baden, Germany; died 22 August 1828, Paris; German anatomist and physiologist] claims that this bird does not hatch its eggs because it lacks the protuberance of maternal love (Gall (Franz Josef), On the Functions of the Brain and of Each of its Parts, with Observations on the Possibility of Determining the Instincts, Propensities, and Talents, or the Moral and Intellectual Dispositions of Men and Animals, by the Configuration of the Brain and Head, Boston: Marsh, Capen & Lyon, 1835, vol. 5, pp. 307-308). Other naturalists think that the shape of the cuckoo’s stomach causes this singular characteristic. [M. de St.-Agy.]

15 [Theodorus of Gaza (born c. 1400, died in 1478), a Greek from Thessalonica who went to Italy in 1429, produced a translation of Aristotle’s books on animals that appeared for the first time at Venice in 1476.]

16 [Julius-Caesar Scaliger also spelled Scaligeri (Giulio Cesare della Scala, born 23 April 1484, Riva, Republic of Venice; died 21 October 1558, Agen, France), French classical scholar of Italian descent who worked in botany, zoology, grammar, and literary criticism (see Hall (Vernon), Life of Julius Caesar Scaliger (1484-1558), Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1950, 170 p. He claimed to be a descendant of the Della Scala family, whose Latinized name was Scaligerus and who had ruled the Italian city of Verona during the two preceding centuries. His unfinished commentary on Aristotle was published at Toulouse in 1619, and one on Theophrastus in 1566.]

17 [Johann Gottlob Schneider (born 1750 at Kollmen, near Oscharz, just southeast of Leipzig; died at Breslau in 1822), German philologist and naturalist. He studied philology, especially the Greek classics, and natural history at universities in Leipzig (1769), Göttingen (1772), and finally Strasbourg, where he received his Doctor of Philosophy degree (1774). In 1776 he was appointed professor of philology at the University of Frankfurt (an der Oder), where he produced a large number of translations and commentaries on classical works (e.g., see Aelian, Aeliani de natura Animalium libri XVII [edited by Johann Gottlob Schneider], Leipzig: E. B. Schwickerti, 1784; Aristote, Aristotelis de animalibus historiae libri X: Graece et Latine; textum recensuit Ivl. caes. Scaligeri versionem; diligenter recognovit commentarium amplissimum indecesque locupletissimos adiecit Io. Gottlob Schneider, saxo [edited by Johann Gottlob Schneider], Leipzig: Bibliopolio Hahniano, 1811, 4 vols). Schneider’s studies in natural history were secondary to his literary work, but he made several significant contributions to zoology, the most important in ichthyology being his edition of Bloch’s Systema ichthyologiae of 1801. For more on Schneider, see Adler (Kraig), “Contributions to the history of herpetology”, in Contributions to herpetology, vol. 5, Oxford (Ohio): Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, 1989, p. 13).]

18 [Armand Gaston Camus (born 1740, died 1804), published a French edition in 1783, at Paris, two volumes in quarto (Histoire des animaux d’Aristote, avec la traduction françoise, par M. Camus).]

19 [Marvelous tales or On Marvelous things heard, included in the traditional corpus aristotelicum but one of several works that was certainly or probably not written by Aristotle; its spuriousness of has never been seriously contested (see Aristotle, The Complete Works of Aristotle [The revised Oxford translation, edited by Barnes Jonathan], Princeton (New Jersey): Princeton University Press, 1984, 2 vols). Beckmann, is Johann Beckmann (born 4 June 1739, at Hoya in Hanover; died 3 February 1811), German scientific author, who published Aristotelis liber De Mirabilibus Auscultationibus explicatus a Joanne Beckmann, Göttingen: Abrahami Vandenhoek, 1786, XVI + 450 p.]

20 [On plants belongs to the same category as On Marvelous things heard; its spuriousness has never been seriously contested (see note 19, above).]

21 [Psittacus alexandri, now generally placed in the genus Psittacula, the Moustached Parakeet, consisting of some eight subspecies, widely distributed from Pakistan to Indonesia.]

22 [Nearchus (died probably 312 B.C.), officer in the Macedonian army under Alexander the Great who, on Alexander’s orders, sailed from the Hydaspes River in western India to the Persian Gulf and up the Euphrates River to Babylon. Earlier, in 333, Alexander had made Nearchus satrap (provincial governor) of the newly conquered Lycia and Pamphylia in Anatolia. Nearchus embarked on his expedition in 325, when Alexander descended the Indus River to the sea. He chronicled the journey in a detailed narrative, a full abstract of which is included in Arrian’s Indica (second century A. D., one of the primary ancient historians of Alexander the Great; see Arrian, Arrian: selected works [revised text and translation, with new introduction, notes, and appendixes by Brunt P. A.], Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press, 1976-1983, 2 vols). Nearchus was unable to play any significant role in the struggles following Alexander’s death in 323.]

23 [Onesicritus, or Onesicrates, of Aegina or Astypaleia, one of the writers on Alexander the Great (see Brown (Truesdell S.), Onesicritus: A Study in Hellenistic Historiography, Berkeley; Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1949, vii + 196 p. (University of California Publications in History; 39)). At an advanced age he became a pupil of Diogenes the Cynic, and gained such repute as a student of philosophy that he was selected by Alexander to hold a conference with the Indian Gymnosophists. When the fleet was constructed on the Hydaspes, Onesicritus was appointed chief pilot (in his vanity he calls himself commander), and in this capacity accompanied Nearchus on the voyage from the mouth of the Indus to the Persian gulf. He wrote a diffuse biography of Alexander (now mostly lost; see Pearson (Lionel Ignacius Cusack), The Lost Histories of Alexander the Great, New York: American Philological Association, 1960, xv + 275 p.), which in addition to historical details contained descriptions of the countries visited, especially India. After the king’s death, Onesicritus appears to have completed his work at the court of Lysimachus, king of Thrace. Its historical value was considered small, it being avowedly a panegyric, and contemporaries (including even Alexander himself) regarded it as untrustworthy. Strabo (see Lesson 12, note 29) especially takes Onesicritus to task for his exaggeration and love of the marvelous. His Para plus (or description of the coasts of India) probably formed part of the work, and, incorporated by Juba II of Mauritania (Juba II of Numidia, born c. 52 B.C., died A. D. 23), a king of Numidia who later moved to Mauritania. His first wife was Cleopatra Selene II, the last Ptolemaic Monarch and daughter to Greek Ptolemaic Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and Roman triumvir Mark Antony), with the accounts of coasting voyages by Nearchus and other geographers, and circulated by him under the name of Onesicritus, was largely used by Pliny.]

24 [Harmozie, probably Hormuz; but this is a strait not a port, which links the Persian Gulf (west) with the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea (southeast), and separates Iran (north) from the Arabian Peninsula (south).]

25 [Antigonus I Monophthalmus (“One-Eyed”), also called Antigonus I Cyclops (born 382 B.C.; died 301, Ipsus, Phrygia, Asia Minor, now in Turkey), Macedonian general under Alexander the Great who founded the Macedonian dynasty of the Antigonids (306-168 B.C.), becoming king in 306. An exceptional strategist and combat leader, he was also an astute ruler who cultivated the friendship of Athens and other Greek city-states.]

26 [Demetrius I Poliorcetes (born 336 B.C., Macedonia; died 283, Cilicia, now in Turkey), king of Macedonia from 294 to 288 B.C. Demetrius was the son of Alexander the Great’s general Antigonus I Monophthalmus, in whose campaigns he commanded with distinction and whose empire, based in Asia, he attempted to rebuild. Unsuccessful against Ptolemy I Soter, satrap of Egypt, and against the Nabataeans, he liberated Athens from the Macedonian Cassander in 307 B.C. and in 306 decisively defeated Ptolemy at Salamis (Cyprus). From his unsuccessful siege of Rhodes (305) he won the title Poliorcetes (“the Besieger”). Recalled by his father from Greece, he fought in the Battle of Ipsus, in which his father was killed and lost much of his empire (301). Demetrius kept a foothold in Greece and in 294 reoccupied Athens and established himself as king of Macedonia, but in 288 he was driven out by his rivals Lysimachus and Pyrrhus. He finally surrendered to Seleucus I Nicator in Cilicia (285) and died there (283).]

27 [Battle of Ipsus, military engagement fought at Ipsus, Phrygia, in 301 B.C. between two camps of the “successors” of Alexander the Great, part of a struggle that accelerated the dismemberment of Alexander’s empire begun after his death. In 302 a coalition representing Lysimachus, king of Thrace, Seleucus I Nicator of Babylon, Ptolemy I Soter of Egypt, and Cassander of Macedonia moved against Antigonus I Monophthalmus, king in Asia Minor, and his son Demetrius I Poliorcetes. Although the combined strength of Seleucus and Lysimachus in troops was only slightly inferior to the 70,000 foot soldiers and 10,000 horses of Antigonus, it was the allies’ superiority in elephants that proved invaluable for victory. The elephants prevented Demetrius, who had pursued too far after defeating the opposing cavalry, from returning to rescue his father. Antigonus was killed, Demetrius fled, and Asia Minor was added to the dominions of Lysimachus.]

28 [Cassander (born c. 358 B.C.; died 297 B.C.), son of the Macedonian regent Antipater and king of Macedonia from 305 to 297. Cassander was one of the Macedonian generals who fought over the empire of Alexander the Great after his death in 323. After Antipater’s death in 319, Cassander refused to acknowledge the new regent, Polyperchon. With the aid of Antigonus I Monophthalmus, ruler of Phrygia, Cassander seized Macedonia and most of Greece, including Athens (319-317). When Antigonus returned from the eastern provinces intending to reunite Alexander’s empire under his own sovereignty, Cassander joined forces with Ptolemy I, Seleucus, and Lysimachus (rulers of Egypt, Babylon, and Thrace, respectively) to oppose him. Between 315 and 303 the two sides clashed frequently. Cassander lost Athens in 307 and his other possessions south of Thessaly in 303-302, but the defeat of Antigonus at the Battle of Ipsus in Phrygia (301) secured Cassander’s control of Macedonia.]

29 [Arsinoe, related to the Macedonian Argead dynasty, was the mother of Ptolemy I Soter (born 367/366 or 364 B.C., died 283/282). Arsinoe’s granddaughter, offspring of Ptolemy I Soter and Berenice I, became Arsinoe II (born c. 316 B.C., died July 270) when (c. 277 B.C.) she married her brother Ptolemy II Philadelphus (born 308 B.C., died 246) and after Arsinoe I (fl. early third century B.C.), the first wife of Ptolemy II Philadelphus, was banished as a result of the dynastic strife that followed the death of the first Ptolemy.]

30 [Arrian, see Lesson 14, note 16.]

31 [Straton of Lampsacus, Straton also spelled Strato, Latin Strato Physicus (died c. 270 B.C.), Greek philosopher and successor of Theophrastus as head of the Peripatetic school of philosophy (based on the teachings of Aristotle). Straton was famous for his doctrine of the void (asserting that all substances contain void and that differences in the weight of substances are caused by differences in the extension of the void), which served as the theoretical base for the Hellenistic construction of air and steam engines as described in Hero of Alexandria’s work. An orthodox Aristotelian, Straton tempered his master’s interpretation of nature with an insistence on causality and materialism, denying any theological force at work in the processes of nature. Straton’s writings as a whole are lost.]

32 [(Wilhelm Peter) Eduard (Simon) Rüppell (born 20 November 1794, Frankfurt am Main; died 10 December 1884, Frankfurt am Main), German naturalist and explorer of northeastern Africa who is remembered as much for the zoological and ethnographical collections he brought back to Europe as for his explorations (Mearns (Barbara) & Mearns (Richard), Biographies for birdwatchers, the lives of those commemorated in western Palearctic bird names [illustrated by Rees Darren], London; San Diego: Academic Press, 1988, xx + 490 p.) He first went to Africa in 1817 and ascended the Nile River to its first set of cataracts (at Aswan, Egypt). Returning to Germany he completed his scientific training and then began his first expedition (1822-1827), crossing the Sudan from the Nubian Desert south to Kordofan in the central Sudan. On his second (1830-1834), he crossed Ethiopia from east to west, by way of the ruins of Adwa, to Lake Tana, which he mapped for the first time (see Rüppell (Eduard), Neue wirbelthiere zu der fauna von Abyssinien gehörig, entdeckt und beschrieben von dr. Eduard Rüppell, Frankfurt am Main: In commission bei S. Schmerber, 1835-1840, 4 vols). On his return he stayed at the then capital of Ethiopia, Gonder, where he put his collections in order and amassed an anthology of ancient Ethiopian manuscripts.]

33 [Demosthenes (died 413 B.C.), Athenian general who proved to be an imaginative strategist during the Peloponnesian War (Athens versus Sparta, 431-404).]

34 [On the model of Plato’s Academy, the Athenian schools of philosophy –Aristotle’s Lyceum, Epicurus’s Garden, and the Porch (stoa), which gave its name to the Stoics– were brotherhoods in which the posts in both teaching and administration were passed from generation to generation as a kind of heritage.]

35 [Theophrastus (born c. 372 B.C., Eresus, Lesbos; died c. 287), Greek Peripatetic philosopher and pupil of Aristotle (see Sharples (Robert W.), Theophrastus of Eresus. Sources for His Life, Writings, Thought, and Influence: Commentary. Volume 5, Sources on biology (human physiology, living creatures, botany: texts 328-435, Leiden; New York: E. J. Brill, 1995, XVI-273 p.) He studied at Athens under Aristotle, and when Aristotle was forced to retire in 323 he became the head of the Lyceum, the academy in Athens founded by Aristotle. Under Theophrastus the enrollment of pupils and auditors rose to its highest point. He was one of the few Peripatetics who fully embraced Aristotle’s philosophy in all areas of metaphysics, physics, physiology, zoology, botany, ethics, politics, and history of culture. His general tendency was to strengthen the systematic unity of those subjects and to reduce the transcendental or Platonic elements of Aristotelianism as a whole. Of his few surviving works, the most important are Peri phyton historia (“Inquiry into Plants”) and Peri phyton aition (“Growth of Plants), comprising nine and six books, respectively (collectively known as the Historia plantarum; see Theophrastus, De historia plantarum libri decem, græce and latine. In quibus textum græcum variis lectionibus, emendationibus, hiulcorum, supplementis: latinam gazæ versionem nova interpretatione ad margines: totum opus absolutissimis cum notis, tum, Amsterdam: apud Henricum Laurentium, 1644, in-folio; Recherches sur les plantes. Tome I: Livres I et II [texte établi et traduit par Amigues Suzanne], Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1988, LVIII + 143 p.; Recherches sur les plantes. Tome V: Livre IX [texte établi et traduit par Amigues Suzanne], Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2006, LXX-397 p.) Of dubious origin are the smaller treatises attributed to him on fire, winds, signs of weather, scents, sensations, and other subjects. His notable Charakteres (many English translations) consists of 30 brief and vigorous character sketches delineating moral types derived from studies that Aristotle had made for ethical and rhetorical purposes; this work later formed the basis for La Bruyère (Jean de), Les Caractères de Théophraste traduits du grec avec les caractères ou les mœurs de ce siècle, Paris: Chez Estienne Michallet, 1688, 360 p.; Les caractères de Théophraste, traduits du grec, avec Les caractères; ou Les mœurs de ce siècle [texte établi, avec introduction, notes, relevé de variantes, glossaire et index par Garapon Robert], Paris: Garnier Frères, 1962, XLV + 622 p.; see note 38, below). In his ethical teachings, famous because of the assaults of the Stoic philosophers, Theophrastus reiterated Aristotle’s notion of a plurality of virtues with their relative vices and acknowledged a certain importance to external goods, which the Stoics held were mere luxuries for human life.]

36 [Menedemus of Eretria (born c. 339 B.C.; died c. 265), Greek philosopher who founded the Eretrian school of philosophy. During a military expedition in Megara, he began attending the lectures of Stilpon and later joined the school founded by Phaedo at Elis. He became the leader of the school and transferred it to Eretria, where it became known as the Eretrian school. An active participant in political affairs, he was forced into exile by his opponents and several years later committed suicide. He is not to be confused with Menedemus of Pyrrha, a member of the Academy in Plato’s lifetime.]

37 [Another Sophocles, not to be confused with Sophocles (born about 496 B.C. at Colonus, a village outside the walls of Athens; died 406, Athens), the second of classical Athens’ three great writers of tragedy, the younger contemporary of Aeschylus and the older contemporary of Euripides (see Lesson 4, note 19).

38 [Jean de La Bruyère (born August 1645, Paris; died 10/11 May 1696, Versailles), French satiric moralist who is best known for one work, Les Caractères de Théophraste traduits du grec avec les caractères ou les mœurs de ce siècle (1688), which is considered to be one of the masterpieces of French literature (for modern edition, see note 35, above.]

Table des illustrations

Légende METAMORPHOSIS. The life stages of a moth, male and female, shown associated with its plant host, a hand-colored copper engraving from Maria Sibylle Merian’s Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, Leiden: Gerald Valck, 1714, pl. 11.
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