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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

9. The Treatises of Theophrastus

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HISTORY OF PLANTS BY THEOPHRASTUS. Detail of the title page. A 1644 Greco-Latin illustrated edition, published by Johannes Bodaeus.

HISTORY OF PLANTS BY THEOPHRASTUS. Detail of the title page. A 1644 Greco-Latin illustrated edition, published by Johannes Bodaeus.
  • 1 [Although traditionally classified in the plant kingdom, truffles and mushrooms are no longer cons (...)

1Of the works of Theophrastus that have come down to us, the most important is his History of Plants. Its organization is the same as Aristotle’s History of Animals. In imitation of this naturalist, Theophrastus treats first of plant parts, which he divides into roots, stems, branches, and offshoots. He says, however, that these various parts are not found in all plants; hence, it is quite reasonable to classify truffles and mushrooms, as one ought, with the plants.1 He distinguishes in each plant part the bark, the wood, and the pith. He describes the exterior organs of plants, the flower, the peduncle, the leaf, the tendrils, and at the same time writes about galls, which are the result of attacks by insects. He then turns to the flesh or interior parts, that is, the parenchyma, fiber, veins, and juices.

2Theophrastus, like Aristotle, always uses some sort of method for classifying the objects of his examination. But he does not succeed so well as his master and friend, the reason probably being that his task was more difficult to carry out, since the characteristics according to which plants can be divided into different classes are less visible to the eye than those adopted for the classification of animals. Theophrastus bases his division of plants only on their size and their consistency. Thus he arrives at the following four large classes, which were in use up until the Renaissance of letters and science: the trees, the shrubs, the under-shrubs, and the grasses.

3Theophrastus points out the different qualities of the wood and the pith; he describes the various forms in which the root develops, and distinguishes the branching, fusiform, tuberous or bulbous forms; he gives examples of each of these forms.

4He posits as a general principle that roots never penetrate the soil beyond the depth at which the heat of the sun is felt.

5He classifies leaves according to their size, their shape, and their placement; he correctly observes that their under side has a much more vigorous faculty of absorbing than their upper side.

  • 2 [A reference to the caprifig (Ficus carica sylvestris), a wild, inedible fig, adapted to the egg-l (...)
  • 3 These insects do not have the ability themselves to fertilize; they are simply carriers of the pol (...)

6He mentions the organs of fructification; he distinguishes superior flowers from inferior flowers and enumerates the different kinds of seeds. He includes the means by which many plants are capable of reproduction, by roots, cuttings, and suckers. He then compares wild plants with cultivated and shows that the latter are not at all alternative forms of the first; that, for example, it is not true that barley can be changed into wheat through cultivation, as some ignorant people believe even today. He writes about the influence of soil and climate on the fecundity of plants, and many other circumstances that contribute to the same result: here he explains caprification, a means by which a better development of fruit of the wild fig-tree (Caprificus) is obtained,2 and which consists in placing upon the tree tiny insects that enter the flower and fertilize the ovary.3 Theophrastus also recounts how one succeeds in making female date-trees bear fruit; one need only shake some branches of the male datetree over them.

7This fact should have led him to the discovery of the sex of plants; but he had no idea of this, although he often applied the terms male and female to trees.

8He mentions various palm-trees of the equatorial countries, among which we find a dichotomous, or forked-trunk, palm-tree that grows in Upper Egypt. Writing about forest trees, Theophrastus recounts the ways in which they are propagated at a distance; he cites as vehicles the winds, floods, etc. He distinguishes trees that grow on mountains and those that develop on the plains; he also distinguishes those that remain green and those that lose their leaves, and for several species he gives the season when such denudation occurs. In addition, he indicates the season when the sap mounts, and when there is fruit-bearing. He indicates the relative rapidity of each plant’s development.

  • 4 [Mimosa, any member of a genus (Mimosa) of more than 450 plants in the mimosa family (Mimosaceae), (...)
  • 5 [Media, ancient country of northwestern Iran, generally corresponding to the modern regions of Aze (...)
  • 6 [The fig-tree of the Brahmans is the banyan (Ficus benghalensis or F. indica), an unusually shaped (...)

9Theophrastus describes different species of trees, and among those in the warm countries one finds a Mimosa, which is the true acacia.4 We also find a sensitive plant, different from the small species ordinarily cultivated in our greenhouses. We recognize several other species, for example the citron-tree, which he calls the spiny apple tree of Media,5 and which he says cannot be eaten, but that the skin is used to perfume garments; then, the fig-tree of the Brahmans,6 having branches turned towards the ground that become roots and in their turn grow new branches destined for the same transformation; the banana tree, having long leaves like the large plumes of ostriches; and the ebony-tree and the cotton-tree. This last shrub had been known since Alexander’s conquests but was not yet imported into Greece.

10Theophrastus writes about marine plants and places the sponges next to the fucus; however, he is not ignorant of the fact that they have some correlation with the animals. In writing of freshwater plants, he describes papyrus, which was of great use then at a time when parchment was still unknown. He also describes the lotus, a species of water lily quite common in the canals of Egypt.

11He gives the length of life of plants and their diseases, the age at which trees are cut, the insects that consume plants, and on this occasion he describes the larva of the stag-beetle that lives under the bark of oaks. He notes that Corsica is the country where trees attain the greatest height.

  • 7 [Hellebore, a member of either of two genera of poisonous herbaceous plants, Helleborus and Veratr (...)

12In the sixth book of his History, Theophrastus writes about shrubs, bushes, and garden flowers; in the next book, about edible plants and some wild vegetables; in the eighth, about cereals and legumes; and we note that maize was known at the time. Finally, in the ninth book, Theophrastus mentions the juices provided by plants, such as myrrh, incense, tar, pitch, resin, and gum. He also mentions certain aromatics, such as cinnamon, and several medicinal plants, such as hellebore,7 which in his day was more commonly used than it is by modern physicians.

13This history of plants is in a manner of speaking an imitation of Aristotle’s on animals, but it is far inferior to its model. However much wit and learning Theophrastus had, he still was far from having the genius of Aristotle; too, one does not find in his works those elegant and solid generalizations that we have admired in the works of his master. The classifications made by Theophrastus have given place to others, Linnaeus especially has effaced them; but almost all those by Aristotle are still to be found in science.

14Nevertheless, the History of Plants is not a book without merit. The number of species mentioned in it comes to almost four hundred, a considerable number for the first work on botany. These species include a great number of forest trees, some fruit trees, almost all the edible plants, the cereals, and some vegetables from India that have been met with again only since the fifteenth century.

15Theophrastus composed another work relating to botany; it is entitled Treatise on the Causes of Plants. But it is not, as one might believe from the title, an essay on plant physiology. In it the author writes about the influence of exterior circumstances upon plants, such as wind, water, and exposure. He describes several methods of agriculture and horticulture –for example, marcottage or layering– and he poses a number of questions that are not always easy to answer. He wonders why the fairest fruits do not always contain the best seeds and why wild fruit does not have so sweet a taste as fruit from cultivated trees. He then concentrates on physical questions relating to the animal kingdom: he seeks to know why animals commonly exhale a disagreeable odor, whereas plants generally send forth a pleasant one. He thinks that animals, contrary to plants, have a hot, dry constitution, and that they give off through evaporation a part of the superfluity of their food. On the whole, the natural science of Theophrastus is inferior to his master’s.

  • 8 [Cobitis fossilis, now known as Misgurnus fossilis, the European weatherfish (family Cobitidae), a (...)
  • 9 [Francis Hamilton, formerly Buchanan (born 1762, died 1829), was a medical officer in the service (...)
  • 10 [Genus Ophicephalus, now considered a junior synonym of Channa, the snakeheads of the family Chann (...)

16But, like the latter, the author of the History of Plants did not confine himself to the study of only one branch of natural history; he composed several short, rather interesting treatises on zoology. In one, he increased knowledge of the productions of India; he writes of fishes that fly, of fishes that remain on the rocks when the sea withdraws, others that sojourn in the mud of ponds, like the loach, which was named Cobitis fossilis because it is sometimes found in dried silt.8 He describes a very singular fish of India that leaves the water, which was recognized about twenty years ago by Monsieur Hamilton Buchanan.9 This fish, known as Ophicephalus, usually lives in the Ganges, but it sometimes comes out and creeps over the grass for such a great distance and is found so far away from any stream of water that people think it fell from the sky.10 According to Theophrastus, it resembles the mullet on account of the rounded shape of its head and the placement of its scales and the colors reflected in them. Modern naturalists are of the same opinion.

17In another short essay on animals that change color, Theophrastus writes about the changes that the chameleon’s skin undergoes, and he gives a rather good description of the reindeer, which was then thought capable of changing its color at will. But that is only a fable based on a false observation of nature; the change that occurs in the reindeer’s coat is due to the seasons; in summer the coat is brown, in winter it becomes white; the latter color is actually better than the former for conserving heat.

  • 11 It seems that Aristotle’s opinions have stuck in the mind of certain learned men, for, one day whe (...)

18In a third short work, on animals that appear suddenly, Theophrastus seems to reject the idea of spontaneous generation in frogs and toads, which cover the ground all at once after warm rains, and which in his time were believed to fall from the sky with the rain. He shows the same inclination regarding flies that appear in great quantities on putrefied substances, which people supposed, as did Aristotle, were engendered by the putrefaction itself. He writes in the same vein about field mice and several other animals.11

  • 12 If it is true –as Monsieur Longchamp announced that he discovered a few days ago– that some metals (...)

19After his two works on botany, the most remarkable of Theophrastus’s treatises is the one on rocks, which describes a great number of different kinds. He also wrote a work on mineralogy in which he dealt especially with metals; but this has not come down to us. Theophrastus thought that rocks were a product of the earth and that metals came from water. It would have been interesting to see the development of the latter opinion.12 He establishes a kind of classification for rocks: he divides them first according to their hardness and cohesion; next, according to whether they are fusible; and he subdivides the latter into calcinable rocks and rocks unchanged by fire. He compares one with another the mineral substances that possess like properties, such as amber and the loadstone, which both have the power of attracting certain bodies. He discusses the uses of the touchstone, mentions the various ways of petrification, and points out waters that encrust.

  • 13 [Pentelic: of or pertaining to Mount Pentelicus, noting especially a variety of white marble resem (...)
  • 14 [Liguria, the third smallest of the regioni of Italy, bordering the Ligurian Sea, in the northwest (...)
  • 15 [Amianthus, sometimes called Earth flax or mountain flax, a soft silky variety of asbestos.]

20From these generalities Theophrastus comes down to particular descriptions; he writes about the various kinds of marble, Parian marble, Pentelic marble from Mount Pentelicus near Athens,13 the calcareous deposit known as alabaster, and several other calcareous materials used by the sculptors and architects of his time. He mentions pyrites or rocks that produce metals while burning like carbon. He speaks of coal and its various kinds, and compares amber, rightly, to a variety of this mineral produced in Liguria.14 He calls attention to several pumice stones and names one of these the Lipari stone because it is found in abundance on that island; moreover, he is perfectly cognizant of their volcanic origin. He describes amianthus,15 which resists the action of fire, and another material like rotten wood, which burns in flaring blazes when soaked with oil.

  • 16 [“In a mineralogical tour which Cit. Lelièvre, member of the Council of Mines has just made, he ha (...)
  • 17 [Hyacinth, also spelled Jacinth, a red, orange, or yellow variety of the gemstone zircon.]
  • 18 [The Achates River in Sicily where agate was probably first found.]

21Theophrastus then discusses stones that can be engraved, and which are called precious, such as carbuncle, carnelian, jasper, and sapphire; he says that the last one has a blue foundation sprinkled with bits of gold; this description tells us that Theophrastus did not know the gemstone that we call sapphire, but rather lapis lazuli. He states, in writing about emeralds, that a king of Egypt received one from an Ethiopian prince that was four cubits high; with four of them an obelisk could be made. Up until fairly recently, people had doubted the accuracy of Theophrastus’s story, and he himself does not seem to lend credence to it, for he remarks that the story is found only among the writings of the Egyptians; but about twenty years ago, Monsieur Lelièvre16 found near Limoges emerald crystals, which, although lacking brilliance and transparency, yet were several feet long, and so one may believe that the Egyptian story was not invented. At any rate, the ancients often called by the name of emeralds the tourmalines and several other green stones. Theophrastus also knew other precious minerals, such as the hyacinth,17 amethyst (which he designates by the name of Heraclea’s stone), rock crystal, onyx (found in certain rocks by breaking them), agate (named after the river Achates),18 and jasper (found in the sands of Bactria). Writing about Magnesian stone, which shines like silver and is used to make cups and bowls, Theophrastus carefully distinguishes it from loadstone; he states quite clearly that it does not attract; thus, it is not he who gave rise to the error of calling magnetic the phenomena produced by loadstone.

22Neither did Theophrastus confuse pearls with precious stones. He says that the former are a product of a shellfish in the Indian Ocean.

  • 19 [Armenian blue or Armenian stone, the name given by the ancients to lapis-lazuli, a brilliant azur (...)

23In his time, organic remains were extracted from the earth, for he writes of fossil ivory, Armenian blue,19 petrified reeds, etc.

  • 20 [Verdigris, a green or greenish blue poisonous pigment resulting from the action of acetic acid on (...)
  • 21 [Ceruse is white lead, any of several white pigments used in exterior paints and containing inorga (...)

24When he writes about the use of mineral substances, he describes the procedures for making glass with sand; he names the various coloring substances used in painting, such as natural ochre, burnt ochre, verdigris,20 vermilion, ceruse,21 and cinnabar. In his day, the Phoenicians would usually seek this last substance in Spain, but it was also brought from Colchis, supposedly obtained by hitting with arrows the summit of the precipitous crags where it accumulated. This story was doubtless invented by traders so that they could demand a higher price from buyers. Also, Theophrastus knew of course that cinnabar, treated appropriately, produces mercury; he actually says so. Finally, he writes of the various kinds of clays and their uses, and of plaster, which was already used in molding figures and ornaments for the interiors of buildings.

  • 22 [Roger Bacon, see Lesson 23.]
  • 23 [Euthydemus of Athens, not to be confused with Euthydemus (fl. late third century B.C.), king of B (...)
  • 24 [Clearchus (died 242 B.C.) Spartan officer, celebrated as the leader of the Ten Thousand (see Less (...)
  • 25 [The name Eresus or Eresos, which has its roots in mythology, is the ancient city of Greece where (...)

25You see, Messieurs, that Theophrastus laid the foundation of botany and mineralogy, as Aristotle had created zoology. It is under the influence and according to the excellent method of the latter that the natural sciences received great encouragement in the Lyceum, and attained in a few years a high degree of improvement in several regards. If the favorable impetus given by Aristotle had survived longer in the cause of science, if people had continued to collect facts as he did and compare them in order to draw inferences, science would probably have made the same progress then that it has made since Bacon,22 under the influence of the Peripatetic method at last rescued from oblivion. But after the death of Theophrastus, Greece soon fell prey to political troubles, which broke the chain of progressive works of the human spirit. In Athens, it was all one could do to continue even in the speculative studies, which required no change of place, no research in the field. Most scholars took refuge in Alexandria. But even in the Museum, activities based on the influence and example of Aristotle soon dwindled. Some philosophers adopted the vague ideas that began to hold sway in the capital of Egypt; others, whether out of indolence or for some other reason, abandoned the method of direct observation. Perhaps the privilege of having at hand the rich library founded by Ptolemy contributed, too, to these deplorable results. Scholars, of course, wanted to know all those works that contained the labor of past generations, and instead of gathering new facts, they spent their time discussing the information found in books. On the other hand, from this work criticism was born; but one might say that at that moment it was premature. Scholars, emigrating from Greece and applying themselves in this way to the study of history, mathematics, poetry, and the arts, no longer cultivated the natural sciences, except in their dealings with medicine. There took shape a class of men, almost all belonging to the Peripatetic school, who were interested in botany not for itself – that is, not from a scientific viewpoint, with the aim of discovering the laws of the plant kingdom – but solely for determining which plants had juices that might be applied in the treatment of diseases. These men, who were called rhizotomes, were to a certain degree herbalists and were not treated with the same consideration as physicians; yet, they were on the whole very far from lacking general knowledge, and several of them rendered a service to science. Such were, for example, Euthydemus of Athens,23 who was the first to cultivate the melon, the seeds of which had been brought from Persia or India; Clearchus,24 who introduced the plum-tree; Phragas of Eresus25 and others whose names have not been lost.

26Physicians at this time devoted themselves to much more remarkable works. A hundred years before, anatomy did not exist; Hippocrates, as you know, since I have said it before, knew about the structure of the human body only that which was external and visible (which the artists, too, knew), and that which the treatment of wounds had given him an opportunity to observe. True, Alcmeon had acquired some idea about the internal structure of animals; but the absurd prejudices of his time had kept him from publishing and continuing his researches, and Heraclitus, who had conducted the same studies, was obliged to have recourse to burial grounds for skeletal remains. Science did not exist before Aristotle. It is he who, in a short time, through the study of comparative anatomy, acquired sufficiently accurate general knowledge of animal structure, and who actually distinguished, often with great accuracy, the difference in organization revealed by comparing one animal with another. This activity was pursued by physicians and applied to human beings. But it is to Egypt that men went who wanted to study human anatomy; the practice of embalming, which requires opening up the splanchnic cavities, had inevitably produced some idea of the disposition and shape of the principal viscera, and also it permitted making new observations. In Greece, on the other hand, it was impossible to acquire any anatomical instruction, however small; the mutilation of a cadaver for whatever purpose was considered an unspeakable profanation, a crime worthy of death.

27When the Ptolemies were masters of Egypt [see Table pp. 236-237], the usefulness of traveling to this country, from the standpoint of anatomical studies, increased considerably. These enlightened sovereigns, desirous of achieving new developments in the sciences, allowed some Greek physicians to dissect cadavers. Protected thus by royal authority, they were no longer exposed to the fury of the people; but they became the object of atrocious calumnies: it was even said that they dissected living men.

  • 26 [Praxagoras of Cos, see note 27, below.]

28The first Greek physician to go to Egypt to study anatomy was Praxagoras,26 an Asclepiad from the island of Cos, a contemporary of Theophrastus, and probably also of Aristotle, whose disciple he must have been. It is he who called the branches of the aorta the arteries and clearly distinguished them from the veins. He revealed that after death the latter ordinarily contain blood but the arteries are completely empty. He also discovered that the arteries were the seat of the pulse. Hippocrates indeed, and even physicians long before him, consulted the pulse of patients to determine their condition; but it was without knowing where this movement resided: but Praxagoras, who discovered this, does not seem to have suspected the all-important phenomenon of the circulation of the blood.

29Two other Greek physicians, Herophilus and Erasistratus, who lived principally in Egypt, soon surpassed Praxagoras.

  • 27 [Herophilus (born c. 335 B.C., Chalcedon, Bithynia; died c. 280), Alexandrian physician who was an (...)
  • 28 [Choroid plexus, a collection of blood vessels in the walls of the lateral ventricles of the brain (...)
  • 29 [Calamus scriptorius, literally a writing-pen, the lower or posterior portion of the floor of the (...)
  • 30 [The wine-press of Herophilus, the confluence of the venous sinuses in the brain, more fully calle (...)
  • 31 [William Harvey, see Lesson 16, note 26.]

30Herophilus,27 born in Chalcedon, belonged to the guild of Asclepiads. He had been a student of Praxagoras and became physician to the son of Ptolemy Lagus. He was first to distinguish nerves from ligaments, tendons, and other tissues that are confused with them, and he recognized their special function of being the organs of volition and sensation. The brain in particular fixed his attention: he gave a detailed description of several parts of this organ, for example the choroid plexuses,28 the calamus scriptorius,29 the curvature of the striated bodies, and the vascular arrangement that is still called Herophilus’s wine-press.30 He also described the internal membranes of the eye, the bone that supports the tongue, and the pulmonary vein, which he called the arterial vein. Also, he gave the name of duodenum to the part of the intestine that is still called that today. Finally, he discovered the isochronism of the beating of the heart and of the arteries. And so it seems that at the time he was close to reaching the important truth that made Harvey31 famous; however, he did not see it, any more than did Praxagoras: so difficult is the simplest inference when it must come from received ideas.

  • 32 [For Erasistratus, see Lesson 7, note 38.]
  • 33 This is an error; he [Erasistratus] was from [the Aegean island of] Ceos. [M. de St.-Agy.]
  • 34 [Lucien] Leclerc [born 1816] rejects this opinion. See his Histoire de la médecine arabe [Paris: E (...)
  • 35 [Smyrna, ancient Greek city, now Izmir, western Turkey, is one of the oldest cities of the Mediter (...)
  • 36 [Seleucus I Nicator (born 358/354 B.C., Europus, Macedonia; died August/September 281, near Lysima (...)
  • 37 [It is said that when Antiochus I Soter (see Lesson 1, note 19) fell sick, through love of Straton (...)

31Erasistratus,32 the second of the Greek physicians whom we named, after the one who distinguished the arteries from the veins, was, like him, from the island of Cos.33 For some time he was a follower of Aristotle, whose grandson he was,34 and after Aristotle’s death, he studied under Theophrastus. The first public school of medicine was opened by Erasistratus at Smyrna;35 it lasted for more than four centuries. He became physician to Seleucus Nicator,36 and everyone knows the proof he gave of his wisdom by discovering Antiochus’s love for his stepmother Stratonice and finding a means of mending it.37 He then left Syria and went to Alexandria where he studied human and animal anatomy with great enthusiasm. Aristotle had in a general way compared man’s brain with that of animals; Erasistratus made a detailed study of this by comparing each part, one with the other. The fundamental discovery in physiology that all nerves communicate with the brain, either directly or through the spinal cord, dates back to him. Also, in opening up a young goat that had just sucked, he was the first to distinguish the milk ducts. He named them such because he was sure that the white liquid contained in them was the milk that the animal had extracted from its dam’s teats.

  • 38 [Hieronymus Fabricius ab Aquapendente (Girolamo Fabrici, born 20 May 1537, Acquapendente, Italy; d (...)

32Erasistratus had new ideas on the structure of the heart; he described its triglochid [i.e., three-pointed] valves and thus approached a little nearer to Harvey’s discovery – and that discovery, in turn, was heralded by Fabricius d’Aquapendente.38 However, he was still far from surmising the existence of that great function, the circulation of the blood, for he believed that air entered the heart through the arteries and lungs, and he based his medical practice on that opinion.

  • 39 [Galen of Pergamum, see Lesson 16.]

33Erasistratus and Herophilus were very learned in botany; but none of their works, either on that science or on the other branches of medicine, have survived. We owe our knowledge of them to Galen’s39 evidence.

  • 40 [Megasthenes (born c. 350 B.C.; died c. 290), ancient Greek historian and diplomat, author of an a (...)
  • 41 [Sandrocottos or Chandragupta, see note 40. above.]
  • 42 [Flavius Josephus, original name Joseph Ben Matthias (born A. D. 37/38, Jerusalem; died c. A. D. 1 (...)
  • 43 [Athenaeus (fl. c. A. D. 200; born Naukratis, Egypt), Greek grammarian and author of Deipnosophist (...)

34While the savants at the Museum brought progress to the sciences of the cabinet, some travelers went great distances seeking enlightenment. Megasthenes,40 for example, went to India at Nicator’s behest, visited a king of that country named Sandrocottos,41 and upon his return wrote a narrative of his travels, of which we possess only some fragments preserved by Strabo, Josephus,42 Arrian, Aelianus, Athenaeus,43 and others. He described several remarkable animals and plants, white monkeys with black faces, shellfish with pearls inside, bamboo of extraordinary dimensions, etc. Like all travel narratives that have come to us from ancient times, that of Megasthenes contains some fables. But in this case, we ought not refuse all credence to this author on account of all the other fabulist authors, for we might happen to deprive ourselves of sources of extremely useful information. We must only be careful not to confuse facts that the author declares to have seen with his own eyes with those that he reports as hearsay. Thus, Megasthenes says that there exist in India men whose feet are turned in the opposite direction from ours, heel forward and toes behind. This story is not a fable invented by the author, it is a legend that he found in the country, for the missionaries report that in the areas visited by Megasthenes, the people claim that evil spirits come sometimes to torment them at night and that these spirits have backward feet. Without Megasthenes’s narrative we would not have known that this legend goes back more than two thousand years. This is a very interesting fact to discover about customs.

  • 44 [The Malayan bear or bruang, Ursus malayanus, is a small, black, close-haired species, with a whit (...)

35Also regarded as completely false was Megasthenes’s report on the existence of several species of bears in the south of India. That would be wrong again: five or six years ago, three or four species of these animals were discovered there, among them the juggler’s bear.44

36You know that the first Lagids were powerful patrons of the sciences [see Table pp. 236-237]: Ptolemy Lagus founded the library at Alexandria, which contained 400,000 volumes; Philadelphus, his second son and successor, encouraged research in the natural sciences by cultivating them himself.

  • 45 [Ptolemy III Euergetes (fl. 246-221 B.C.), Macedonian king of Egypt, son of Ptolemy II; he reunite (...)

37The third of the Ptolemies, Euergetes,45 despite his great faults, protected science and the savants no less than did his predecessors; he greatly increased the library at Alexandria and left some memoirs. An inscription has been found at the frontier of Nubia recalling his Syrian expedition. It was in these wars that African elephants were used for the first time. He attributed his victories to these animals, superior in strength and courage to those of India, which were used by his enemy.

  • 46 [Ptolemy IV Philopator (born c. 238 B.C.; died 205 B.C.), Macedonian king of Egypt (reigned 221-20 (...)
  • 47 [Ptolemy V Epiphanes (born c. 210; died 180 B.C.), Macedonian king of Egypt from 205 B.C. under wh (...)
  • 48 [Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (died 152 B.C.), Roman statesman who held the highest offices of the repu (...)
  • 49 [Aristomenes of Acarnania, one time governor of Egypt in the name of Ptolemy V, condemned to death (...)

38Philopator,46 the fourth of the Ptolemies, after leading a very disorderly life, left to his son,47 who was only five years old, a kingdom run by vice-ridden men and women. The Egyptian lords could not agree on a choice of regent and thought it suitable to refer the matter to the Romans. The latter sent them Marcus Lepidus;48 but he soon was obliged to hand the tutelage over to Aristomenes of Acarnania,49 who retained it until Epiphanes’s majority. Scarcely had this young man taken the reins of state when new disorders, stirred up by the Romans, broke out, and then the sciences began to decline in Egypt.

  • 50 [Ptolemy VI Philometor (fl. c. 180-145 B.C.), Macedonian king of Egypt under whom an attempted inv (...)
  • 51 [Ptolemy Lagus is Ptolemy I Soter, founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty; see Lesson 7, note 18.]

39Under the sixth of the Lagids, Ptolemy Philometor,50 several rare works were purchased, but not all were authentic, far from it, and from this resulted new progress in criticism, which had begun with the founding of the library by Ptolemy Lagus.51

  • 52 [Conon of Samos (fl. c. 245 B.C., Alexandria), mathematician and astronomer whose work on conic se (...)
  • 53 [Hipparchus of Rhodes, also spelled Hipparchos (born 190 B.C., at Nicaea, Bithynia; died after 120 (...)
  • 54 [Aratus (fl. c. 315-c. 245 B.C., Macedonia), Greek poet of Soli in Cilicia, best remembered for hi (...)

40In addition to the naturalists we have discussed, the school at Alexandria had several scholars of a different order. Belonging to the school were Euclid, whose elements of geometry have had such long success; Eratosthenes, who was the first to attempt to measure a degree of the meridian in order to judge the diameter of the earth, and hence made the first attempt to map the globe; Conon the astronomer,52 famous for having recognized in the night sky the star cluster called Berenice’s Hair, which had been stolen from Venus’s altar in the temple built by Philadelphus in honor of his wife Arsinoe; Hipparchus,53 who flourished under Philometor, the sixth of the Lagids, and to whom we owe the discovery of the precession of the equinoxes, as well as the compiling of the first star catalog. This great astronomer alone contributed several centuries of progress to the science, for, after his death, astronomy remained fixed for three hundred years. Finally, we add to the learned men of Alexandria Aratus,54 who wrote a poem on the constellations and another on anatomy conforming to Erasistrates’s notions.

  • 55 [Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator (Greek: Philopator, the Younger) (died 144 B.C.), younger son and co- (...)
  • 56 [The name Physcon (Greek: “Potbellied”) is wrongly attributed here – it correctly belongs to Ptole (...)

41The seventh of the Ptolemies,55 surnamed Physcon,56 was vindictive, cruel, and dissipated. During his reign, scholars were obliged to leave Egypt, where they could not find the freedom of thought necessary to the progress of science. There resulted a sort of repetition of conditions as had existed before. At the time of the troubles brought about in Greece by war between Alexander’s successors, scholars had gone to seek asylum in the kingdom of the first Ptolemy. The tyranny of Physcon now sent scholars to Greece. For subsistence they taught in the islands and on the continent, and thus good scholarship flourished there again for some time.

42Physcon, who was the cause of the dispersal of philosophers from his kingdom, was not, however, a man without enlightenment, far from it indeed, for he had written a commentary on Homer, and a work on natural history in which he discussed the fishes of certain African rivers. It is he who first succeeded in breeding pheasants, which he had obtained from Media. They increased in numbers to the point where they might have been served as delicacies at table; but he wished to abstain from them as an excessive luxury. He reports that during a sojourn at Rome, he was amazed at the great number of peacocks there: they were already a very common bird in that city, although they had only been discovered, as you know, during Alexander’s campaign.

  • 57 [Eumenes II (died 160/159 B.C.), king of Pergamum from 197 until his death. A brilliant statesman, (...)
  • 58 [Eumenes I (died 241 B.C.), ruler of Pergamum, in Mysia, from 263 to 241 who, in 262, liberated hi (...)

43At the time of the dispersal of the Alexandrians, the library at Pergamum, which had been established under Eumenes II,57 grandson of Eumenes,58 the founder of the realm, began to grow.

44There was great rivalry in the matter of libraries between the kings of Egypt and Pergamum. Eumenes sought out all the good books and had them copied, using large amounts of papyrus from Egypt for this purpose. Ptolemy, who did not want to be surpassed, or even equaled, by any king in his love for science, forbade the exportation of papyrus. This interdiction resulted in the savants of Pergamum inventing a means of rendering the skin of sheep suitable for writing on – in other words, of making parchment (carta pergamena). This invention was of the highest usefulness; without it, most of the manuscripts from antiquity would have gone to ruin. Papyrus, formed from mere reed stems beaten and made flat, offered infinitely less resistance to the causes of destruction than did animal skins, and by the Renaissance of letters there existed scarcely any manuscripts on papyrus. Since then, some have been found with the mummies; but scarcely can one get any good from them. Eumenes had two hundred thousand volumes copied, a considerable number for the time.

  • 59 [Ptolemy IX Soter II, byname Lathyrus (Greek: “Chickpea”) (fl. second-first century B.C.), Macedon (...)
  • 60 [Agatharchides of Cnidos (fl. second century B.C.), a Greek historian and geographer who wrote a d (...)
  • 61 [Ptolemy X Alexander (died 88 B.C.), Macedonian king of Egypt (reigned 107-88 B.C.) who, under the (...)
  • 62 [To the Romans, the giraffe – Giraffa camelopardalis, a cudchewing hoofed mammal, which, with the (...)
  • 63 [Crocotta or Crocuta, the spotted, or laughing hyena (Crocuta crocuta), one of three species of co (...)

45After Physcon, Egypt had an even more barbarous prince. When the city of Thebes revolted against his government, Ptolemy Lathyrus59 expelled its inhabitants, and razed its temples and palaces, until nothing remained but what he could not destroy. Scholars were also ill treated by him; he drove out the small number of them that still remained in Egypt. Yet, under his rule, the Peripatetic philosopher Agatharchides flourished.60 This philosopher was from Cnidos, and was probably an Asclepiad. He lived nearly all his life in Egypt, and even served as tutor to Alexander II, the tenth of the Ptolemies.61 The fragment of his writings preserved for us by Photius shows that he devoted himself with great success to the study of natural history; in it are descriptions of the various peoples who had settled the shores of the Red Sea, the sort of food they ate and their customs. On the Abyssinian coast were people who ate locusts, and others who ate the flesh of wild animals. The animals of these areas, and especially the ones that had been transported to Alexandria, are also described in Agatharchides’s fragment. For example, he describes with a degree of accuracy the rhinoceros, the giraffe, which he calls Camelo pardalis, or camel-leopard,62 the different varieties of monkeys, and a species of hyena called crocotta.63 He also describes the guinea fowl. He mentions hot springs found in certain areas of Africa, and goldmines and the method of their exploitation.

46In short, the fragment of Agatharchides is of great value to the natural history of Africa. This Peripatetic philosopher was the last naturalist of the Greek period at Alexandria. Science soon disappeared from Egypt, and that country hastened to fall under the dominion of the Romans, who held in esteem only knowledge applicable to the art of war. Nevertheless, we shall inquire into the state of the sciences among these people who became masters of the known world; but first we shall discuss works carried out in the midst of turbulent times in countries that had been notable in the cultivation of science. We shall begin our next lesson with this subject.

Notes

1 [Although traditionally classified in the plant kingdom, truffles and mushrooms are no longer considered plants, but members of a separate kingdom, the Fungi or Mycota. Among the characters that argue strongly against a plant affinity are their heterotrophy, the nature of their reproductive structures, and the almost universal presence of chitin, which is also found in the skin of many invertebrate animals such as insects, in their walls. Within the division Mycota, the classes are further distinguished by variations of these characteristics, particularly those involving reproductive stages.]

2 [A reference to the caprifig (Ficus carica sylvestris), a wild, inedible fig, adapted to the egg-laying habits of the fig insect or fig wasp (genus Blastophaga), any member of the insect family Agaonidae, a group of tiny chalcid wasps of the order Hymenoptera. Fig wasps mature from eggs deposited inside the caprifig. The wingless male emerges from the gall in which he has developed, searches out a gall that contains a female, chews a hole in the gall, fertilizes the female, and dies within the fig. The female emerges from her gall – if fertilized, from the gnawed hole, or if unfertilized, from a hole of her own making – and proceeds toward the eye of the fig (the part opposite the stem end), because she must deposit her eggs in a second fig. Before she leaves her natal fig, she must pass by many male flowers, and she emerges covered with pollen. The female fig wasp’s role in pollinating certain edible figs, especially Smyrna figs, is critical to the fig grower, as most economically valuable figs require fertilization to ripen. Though she cannot lay her eggs within the edible fig (she must lay them at the base of the pistil, and the pistils of cultivated figs are longer than her ovipositor), she carries with her the pollen that fertilizes the figs and causes them to ripen. Unfertilized females perform the same role in pollination.]

3 These insects do not have the ability themselves to fertilize; they are simply carriers of the pollen needed for fertilization. [M. de St.-Agy.]

4 [Mimosa, any member of a genus (Mimosa) of more than 450 plants in the mimosa family (Mimosaceae), native to tropical and subtropical areas throughout both hemispheres. They are so named from the movements of the leaves in certain species that “mimic” animal sensibility. Most Mimosa species are herbs or undershrubs; some are woody climbers; and a few are trees. They are often prickly. The leaves of most are bipinnate (i.e., the leaflets of the feather-formed leaves, in turn, bear leaflets). The roots of some species are poisonous; others contain substances irritating to the skin. Mimosas give their name to the family Mimosaceae (order Fabales), whose members are characterized by small regular flowers with valvate corolla. Many species of the related genus Acacia are commonly but erroneously called mimosas.]

5 [Media, ancient country of northwestern Iran, generally corresponding to the modern regions of Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, and parts of Kermanshah. Media first appears in the texts of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III (858-824 B.C.), in which peoples of the land of “Mada” are recorded (see Luckenbill (Daniel David), Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia, vol. 1: Historical records of Assyria, from the earlist times to Sargon, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, [c. 1926], 297 p.) The inhabitants came to be known as Medes.]

6 [The fig-tree of the Brahmans is the banyan (Ficus benghalensis or F. indica), an unusually shaped tree of the fig genus in the mulberry family (Moraceae) native to tropical Asia. Aerial roots that develop from its branches descend and take root in the soil to become new trunks. The banyan reaches a height up to 30 meters (100 feet) and spreads laterally indefinitely. One tree may in time assume the appearance of a very dense thicket as a result of the tangle of roots and trunks.]

7 [Hellebore, a member of either of two genera of poisonous herbaceous plants, Helleborus and Veratrum, some species of which are grown as garden ornamentals. Helleborus, of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae), is composed of about 20 species of perennial herbs native to Eurasia. The genus Veratrum, of the lily family (Liliaceae), is composed of about 45 species, better-called false hellebores, that are native widely in damp areas of the Northern Hemisphere.]

8 [Cobitis fossilis, now known as Misgurnus fossilis, the European weatherfish (family Cobitidae), a yellowish fish about 25 centimeters long, banded and speckled with brown; like the similar Japanese weatherfish (M. anguillicaudatus), it is named for its heightened activity during periods of rapid change in barometric pressure, such as occur before a storm (see Erman (P.), “Untersuchungen über das Gas in der Schwimmblase der Fische, und über die Mitwirkung des Darmkanals zum Respirationsgeschäfte bei der Fischart Cobitis fossilis (Schlammpitzger)”, Annalen der Physik, Leipzig, 1808, t. 30, pp. 113-160).]

9 [Francis Hamilton, formerly Buchanan (born 1762, died 1829), was a medical officer in the service of the East India Company, who traveled by order of the governor of India through Mysore, Canara, and Malabar in 1800 to study, among other things, the natural history of these countries. In 1822, he published at Edinburgh An Account of the Fishes Found in the River Ganges and Its Branches, in quarto, with an atlas of thirty-nine plates (for more on Hamilton, see Gudger (Eugene W.), “Pliny’s Historia naturalis. The Most Popular Natural History Ever Published”, Isis, no 6 (3), 1924, pp. 269-281; 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.)]

10 [Genus Ophicephalus, now considered a junior synonym of Channa, the snakeheads of the family Channidae; about 18 species of tropical freshwater fishes confined to southern Asia, with a elongate body, depressed head, with an accessory air-breathing apparatus in the gill chamber.]

11 It seems that Aristotle’s opinions have stuck in the mind of certain learned men, for, one day when I was walking in Monsieur Azaïs’s garden [Pierre Hyacinthe Azais, French philosopher, born 1766, died 1845], he pointed out to me a rather considerable heap of decomposed vegetable matter, under which he had placed a small vessel filled with distilled water, and in which he thought small animals would be created whole, by the action of heat alone upon the liquid’s elements. I did not learn the results of the experiment, which was to last, I think, for a year; but at any rate I strongly doubt that the ingenious author of the Explication universelle obtained the success he expected. [M. de St.-Agy.] [Pierre-Hyacinthe Azaïs (born 1 March 1766, Sorèze, France; died 22 January 1845, Paris), French philosopher –not to be confused with his father of the same name, born 1743, died 1796, professor of music at Sorze and Toulouse, and composer of sacred music in the style of Gossec– whose optimism was rooted in the idea that human experience is imbued with a natural and harmonious balance between joy and sadness and that it is in this balance that meaning can be discovered. He advocated the idea in the work that first brought him fame, Des compensations dans les destinées humaines, Paris: Garnery & Leblanc, 1809, 3 vols. In a following work, SysteÌme universel (Paris: Garnery & Leblanc, 1809-1812, 8 vols), he further developed the same idea and related it to certain cosmological concepts. At the core of this voluminous work is the notion that all experience (past, present, and future) can be understood in terms of an interaction between expansive and compressive forces.]

12 If it is true –as Monsieur Longchamp announced that he discovered a few days ago– that some metals, iron, for example, are from hydrogen combined with a base, the opinion of Theophrastus would no longer be completely wrong [see Longchamp, “Théorie des acides hydrogénés”, Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des Sciences, Paris: Bachelier, 1835, p. 89]. [M. de St.-Agy.]

13 [Pentelic: of or pertaining to Mount Pentelicus, noting especially a variety of white marble resembling Parian, but denser and finer-grained, apparently inexhaustible quarries of which have from antiquity been worked in this mountain. The Parthenon, the Propylaea, and other Athenian monuments are built of it, and in it are carved the famous sculptures known as the Elgin marbles.]

14 [Liguria, the third smallest of the regioni of Italy, bordering the Ligurian Sea, in the northwestern part of the country. It comprises the provincie of Genoa, Imperia, La Spezia, and Savona.]

15 [Amianthus, sometimes called Earth flax or mountain flax, a soft silky variety of asbestos.]

16 [“In a mineralogical tour which Cit. Lelièvre, member of the Council of Mines has just made, he has discovered a quarry of emeralds, which are so abundant, that they are used in the country to pave the roads. They are found in the environs of Limoges mixed with granite, often without any regular form, and sometimes crystallized, but their colour and transparency are not beautiful” (see Mons (J. B. van), “(Découverte) De l’éméraude (en France) [extrait d’une lettre du citoyen Vauquelin au rédacteur]”, Journal de Chimie et de Physique, ou Recueil périodique des découvertes dans les sciences chimiques et physiques, tant en France que chez l’étranger, vol. 2, 1802, p. 218; Nicholson (W.), “Discovery of the Emerald [The seven following articles are extracts of a letter of Cit. Vauquelin to Cit. Van Mons]”, Journal of Natural Philosophy, Chemistry and the Arts, Scientific News, London, no 1, 1802, p. 238; Phillips (R.),“Varieties, literary and philosophical, including notices of works in hand, domestic and foreign”, The Monthly Magazine or, British Register, vol. 29 (1), February 1810, p. 72).]

17 [Hyacinth, also spelled Jacinth, a red, orange, or yellow variety of the gemstone zircon.]

18 [The Achates River in Sicily where agate was probably first found.]

19 [Armenian blue or Armenian stone, the name given by the ancients to lapis-lazuli, a brilliant azure-blue gemstone.]

20 [Verdigris, a green or greenish blue poisonous pigment resulting from the action of acetic acid on copper and consisting of one or more basic copper acetates.]

21 [Ceruse is white lead, any of several white pigments used in exterior paints and containing inorganic compounds of lead.]

22 [Roger Bacon, see Lesson 23.]

23 [Euthydemus of Athens, not to be confused with Euthydemus (fl. late third century B.C.), king of Bactria who in 208 B.C. was attacked and eventually defeated by Antiochus III (born 242 B.C., died 87, near Susa, Iran), Seleucid king of the Hellenistic Syrian Empire from 223 B.C. to 187.]

24 [Clearchus (died 242 B.C.) Spartan officer, celebrated as the leader of the Ten Thousand (see Lesson 6, notes 25, 28). Sent in 410 to govern Byzantium, he made himself unpopular by his harsh discipline, and Alcibiades took the city in 408 B.C. Clearchus later returned and made himself virtual ruler, thereby incurring the anger of the Spartans, who forced him to leave (403). He sought refuge with Cyrus the Younger of Persia, who used him to recruit and later command the Greek mercenary force in support of Cyrus’s claim to the throne. At Cunaxa, Clearchus fought boldly, but Cyrus’s forces were defeated. After the battle he led the Greek force (the Ten Thousand) in retreat, but was lured into a conference by Tissaphernes and treacherously murdered. The story of the retreat was made famous by Xenophon.]

25 [The name Eresus or Eresos, which has its roots in mythology, is the ancient city of Greece where Theophrastus was born, but we have been unable to identify Phragas of Eresus.]

26 [Praxagoras of Cos, see note 27, below.]

27 [Herophilus (born c. 335 B.C., Chalcedon, Bithynia; died c. 280), Alexandrian physician who was an early performer of public dissections on human cadavers; and often called the father of anatomy. He wrote at least nine works, including a commentary on Hippocrates, a book for midwives, and treatises on anatomy and the causes of sudden death, all lost in the destruction of the library of Alexandria (A. D. 272). His most important contribution to clinical medicine was his development of the theory of the diagnostic value of the pulse. Although the pulse is referred to occasionally by earlier writers (for example, by Aristotle in his Historia animalium, bk. 3, chap. 19), it was Herophilos’s teacher, Praxagoras (an influential figure of medicine in ancient Greek, born on the Greek island of Kos in about 340 BC.), who first restricted the pulse to a distinct group of vessels and held that it could be used as an indicator of disease. Herophilos corrected his master’s teaching on several points, maintaining that the pulse is not an innate faculty of the arteries, but one they derive from the heart, and distinguishing the pulse not merely quantitatively, but also qualitatively from palpitations, tremors, and spasms, which are muscular in origin.]

28 [Choroid plexus, a collection of blood vessels in the walls of the lateral ventricles of the brain, which secretes about 70 percent of the cerebrospinal fluid produced by the central nervous system.]

29 [Calamus scriptorius, literally a writing-pen, the lower or posterior portion of the floor of the fourth ventricle of the brain, bounded on each side by the diverging funiculi graciles, the point where these come together below being likened to the point of a pen.]

30 [The wine-press of Herophilus, the confluence of the venous sinuses in the brain, more fully called torcular Herophili, the place in the meninges of the brain, at the internal occipital protuberance, where the sinus of the falx cerebri joins the lateral sinus of the tentorium cerebelli, and where other sinuses meet. This confluence of venous currents was supposed to exert some pressure on the circulation (whence the name).]

31 [William Harvey, see Lesson 16, note 26.]

32 [For Erasistratus, see Lesson 7, note 38.]

33 This is an error; he [Erasistratus] was from [the Aegean island of] Ceos. [M. de St.-Agy.]

34 [Lucien] Leclerc [born 1816] rejects this opinion. See his Histoire de la médecine arabe [Paris: Ernest Ledoux, 1876], vol. 1, p. 293. [M. de St.-Agy.]

35 [Smyrna, ancient Greek city, now Izmir, western Turkey, is one of the oldest cities of the Mediterranean world and has been of almost continuous historical importance during the last 5,000 years.]

36 [Seleucus I Nicator (born 358/354 B.C., Europus, Macedonia; died August/September 281, near Lysimachia, Thrace), Macedonian army officer, founder of the Seleucid kingdom. In the struggles following the death of Alexander the Great, he rose from governor of Babylon to king of an empire centering on Syria and Iran.]

37 [It is said that when Antiochus I Soter (see Lesson 1, note 19) fell sick, through love of Stratonice, the young wife of his father, the latter on the advice of the physician Erasistratus, resigned Stratonice to his son, and invested him with the government of Upper Asia, allowing him the title of king. On the death of his father, Antiochus succeeded to the whole of his dominions, but relinquished his claims to Macedonia on the marriage of Antigonus Gonatas to Phila, the daughter of Seleucus and Stratonice.]

38 [Hieronymus Fabricius ab Aquapendente (Girolamo Fabrici, born 20 May 1537, Acquapendente, Italy; died 21 May 1619, Padua), Italian surgeon, an outstanding Renaissance anatomist who helped found modern embryology. In his De Venarum Ostiolis (“On the Valves of the Veins”), published by Laurenti Pasquati in 1603 at Padua (and several later editions, e. g., see Fabricius (Hyeronimus), De venarum ostiolis [facsimile edition of Hieronymus Fabricius, of Aquapendente with introduction, translation, and notes by Franklin Kenneth J.], Springfield, (Illinois): Charles C. Thomas, 1933), Fabricius gave the first clear description of the semilunar valves of the veins, which later provided Harvey (see Lesson 16, note 26) with a crucial point in his famous argument for circulation of the blood (Elliott (J. H.), “De venarum ostiolis, 1603, of Hieronymus Fabricius of Aquapendente 1533?-1619): A review”, Canadian Medical Association Journal, vol. 31 (1), 1934, pp. 83-84; The embryological treatises of Hieronymus Fabricius of Aquapendente. The Formation of the Egg and of the Chick [De Formatione Ovi et Pulli], The Formed Fetus [De Formato Foetu][a facsimile ed., with an introduction, a translation, and a commentary by Adelmann Howard Bernhardt], Ithaca; New York: Cornell University Press, 1942, 376 p.)]

39 [Galen of Pergamum, see Lesson 16.]

40 [Megasthenes (born c. 350 B.C.; died c. 290), ancient Greek historian and diplomat, author of an account of India, the Indica, in four books (Megasthenes, Megasthenis indica / Fragmenta collegit commentationem et indices additit E[rwin] A[lexis] Schwanbeck, Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert, 1966, X + 196 p.) An Ionian, he was sent by the Hellenistic king Seleucus I on embassies to the Mauryan empire during the reign of the founding king Chandragupta (Sandrocottos in the Greek). Megasthenes gathered huge amounts of information about India and wrote a book (which is lost), many parts of which are preserved in the writings of Strabo, Arrian, and Diodorus. Though credulous and inaccurate, he gave the most complete account of India then known to the Greek world (Bosworth (A. B.), “The historical setting of Megasthenes’ Indica”. Classical Philology, vol. 91, no 2, 1996, pp. 113-127).]

41 [Sandrocottos or Chandragupta, see note 40. above.]

42 [Flavius Josephus, original name Joseph Ben Matthias (born A. D. 37/38, Jerusalem; died c. A. D. 100, Rome), Jewish priest, scholar, and historian, best known for his valuable works on the Jewish revolt of 66-70 and on earlier Jewish history. His major books are History of the Jewish War (75-79), The Antiquities of the Jews (93), and Against Apion (see Josephus (Flavius), A complete concordance to Flavius Josephus [edited by Rengstorf Karl Heinrich], Leiden: Brill, 1973, 4 vols; Josephus, the essential works: a condensation of Jewish antiquities and The Jewish war [translated and edited by Maier Paul L.], Grand Rapids (Michigan): Kregel Publications, 1994, 416 p.; Against Apion [translation and commentary by Barclay John M. G.], Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2007 + lxxi + 430 p.)]

43 [Athenaeus (fl. c. A. D. 200; born Naukratis, Egypt), Greek grammarian and author of Deipnosophistai (“The Gastronomers”), a work in the form of an aristocratic symposium, in which a number of learned men, some bearing the names of real persons, such as Galen, meet at a banquet and discuss food and other subjects (Athenaeus of Naucratis, The Deipnosophists or Banquet of the Learned of Athenaeus [literally translated by Yonge Charles Duke; with an appendix of poetical fragments rendered into English verse by various authors, and a general index], London: Henry G. Bohn, 1854, 2 vols). It is in 15 books, of which 10 have survived in their entirety, the others in summary form. The value of the work lies partly in the great number of quotations from lost works of antiquity that it preserves, nearly 800 writers being quoted, and partly in the variety of unusual information it affords on all aspects of life in the ancient Greco-Roman world.]

44 [The Malayan bear or bruang, Ursus malayanus, is a small, black, close-haired species, with a white mark on the throat, with protrusile lips and slender tongue, capable of being taught a variety of amusing tricks in confinement.]

45 [Ptolemy III Euergetes (fl. 246-221 B.C.), Macedonian king of Egypt, son of Ptolemy II; he reunited Egypt and Cyrenaica and successfully waged the Third Syrian War against the Seleucid kingdom.]

46 [Ptolemy IV Philopator (born c. 238 B.C.; died 205 B.C.), Macedonian king of Egypt (reigned 221-205 B.C.), under whose feeble rule, heavily influenced by favorites, much of Ptolemaic Syria was lost and native uprisings began to disturb the internal stability of Egypt.]

47 [Ptolemy V Epiphanes (born c. 210; died 180 B.C.), Macedonian king of Egypt from 205 B.C. under whose rule Coele Syria and most of Egypt’s other foreign possessions were lost.]

48 [Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (died 152 B.C.), Roman statesman who held the highest offices of the republic. As ambassador to Greece, Syria, and Egypt in 200, he delivered to Philip V an ultimatum warning Macedonia not to make war on any Greek state. Consul in 187 and 175, censor in 179, pontifex maximus from 180 onward, and princeps senatus from 179 to 152, Lepidus fought against the Ligurians, directed the construction of the Via Aemilia from Ariminum (Rimini) to Placentia (Piacenza), and led colonies to Mutina (Modena) and Parma. The district of northern Italy called Emilia still preserves his name.]

49 [Aristomenes of Acarnania, one time governor of Egypt in the name of Ptolemy V, condemned to death in 192 B.C. Acarnania was a district of ancient Greece bounded by the Ionian Sea, the Ambracian Gulf, Mount Thyamus, and the Achelous River.]

50 [Ptolemy VI Philometor (fl. c. 180-145 B.C.), Macedonian king of Egypt under whom an attempted invasion of Coele Syria resulted in the occupation of Egypt by the Seleucids. After Roman intervention and several ventures of joint rule with his brother, however, Ptolemy was able to reunite his realm.]

51 [Ptolemy Lagus is Ptolemy I Soter, founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty; see Lesson 7, note 18.]

52 [Conon of Samos (fl. c. 245 B.C., Alexandria), mathematician and astronomer whose work on conic sections (curves of the intersections of a right circular cone with a plane) served as the basis for the fourth book of the Conics of Apollonius of Perga (c. 262-190 B.C.) (see Apollonius of Perga, Conica [Text, context, subtext by Fried Michael N. and Unguru Sabetai], Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2001, XII + 499 p.)]

53 [Hipparchus of Rhodes, also spelled Hipparchos (born 190 B.C., at Nicaea, Bithynia; died after 120 B.C., probably Rhodes), Greek astronomer and mathematician who discovered the precession of the equinoxes, calculated the length of the year to within 6 1/2 minutes, compiled the first known star catalog, and made an early formulation of trigonometry (Hipparchus, The geographical fragments of Hipparchus [edited with an introduction and commentary by Dicks D. R.], London: University of London; Athlone Press, 1960, XI + 214 p.; Grasshoff(Gerd), The history of Ptolemy’s star catalogue, New York: Springer-Verlag, 1990, ix + 347 p.)]

54 [Aratus (fl. c. 315-c. 245 B.C., Macedonia), Greek poet of Soli in Cilicia, best remembered for his poem on astronomy, Phaenomena (Aratus, Phaenomena [edited with introduction, translation, and commentary by Kidd Douglas], Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997, xxi + 590 p.) He resided at the courts of Antigonus II Gonatas, king of Macedonia, and Antiochus I of Syria. The Phaenomena, a didactic poem in hexameter, is his only completely extant work. Lines 1-757 versify a prose work on astronomy by Eudoxus of Cnidus (c. 390-c. 340), while lines 758-1154 treat of weather signs and show much likeness to Pseudo-Theophrastus’De signis tempestatum. The poem became immediately popular and provoked many commentaries, the most important of which is by Hipparchus (c. 150 B.C.) and is still extant. In form, the Phaenomena belongs to the Alexandrian school, but the author’s Stoicism adds a strong note of seriousness. It enjoyed a high reputation among the Romans. Cicero, Caesar Germanicus, and Avienus translated it; the two last versions and fragments of Cicero’s survive. One verse from the opening invocation to Zeus has become famous because it was quoted by St. Paul (Acts, 17:28).]

55 [Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator (Greek: Philopator, the Younger) (died 144 B.C.), younger son and co-ruler with Ptolemy VI Philometor, king of Egypt, whom he succeeded in 145 B.C. Still a minor, he was the ward of his mother, who also served as his co-ruler. He was soon displaced by his uncle, Ptolemy VIII, who executed him the following year.]

56 [The name Physcon (Greek: “Potbellied”) is wrongly attributed here – it correctly belongs to Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II.]

57 [Eumenes II (died 160/159 B.C.), king of Pergamum from 197 until his death. A brilliant statesman, he brought his small kingdom to the peak of its power and did more than any other Attalid monarch to make Pergamum a great center of Greek culture in the East.]

58 [Eumenes I (died 241 B.C.), ruler of Pergamum, in Mysia, from 263 to 241 who, in 262, liberated his city from the overlordship of the Seleucids, a dynasty founded in Syria by one of the successors of Alexander the Great. Eumenes succeeded his uncle Philetaerus in 263 and in the following year defeated the army of the Seleucid king Antiochus I near Sardis (the capital of Lydia), thereby establishing an independent city-state.]

59 [Ptolemy IX Soter II, byname Lathyrus (Greek: “Chickpea”) (fl. second-first century B.C.), Macedonian king of Egypt (reigned 116-110, 109-107, and 88-81 B.C.) who, after ruling Cyprus and Egypt in various combinations with his brother, Ptolemy X Alexander I, and his mother, Cleopatra III, widow of Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II, gained sole rule of the country in 88 and sought to keep Egypt from excessive Roman influence while trying to develop trade with the East.]

60 [Agatharchides of Cnidos (fl. second century B.C.), a Greek historian and geographer who wrote a description of his travels to the Red Sea, information passed on to us through the writings of Strabo (see Lesson 12, note 29) (see Vincent (William), The commerce and navigation of the ancients in the Indian Ocean, London: printed for T. Cadell & W. Davies, 1807, 2 vols; Strabo, The geography of Strabo [with an English translation by Jones Horace Leonard; based in part upon the unfinished version of Sterrett John Robert Sitlington], New York: Putnam’s Sons, 1917, 8 vols).]

61 [Ptolemy X Alexander (died 88 B.C.), Macedonian king of Egypt (reigned 107-88 B.C.) who, under the direction of his mother, Cleopatra III, ruled Egypt alternately with his brother Ptolemy IX Soter II and around 105 became involved in a civil war in the Seleucid kingdom in Syria.]

62 [To the Romans, the giraffe – Giraffa camelopardalis, a cudchewing hoofed mammal, which, with the okapi, constitutes the family Giraffidae (order Artiodactyla) – was “camelopardalis” (“spotted camel”), a term that survived in English as “camelopard.”]

63 [Crocotta or Crocuta, the spotted, or laughing hyena (Crocuta crocuta), one of three species of coarse-furred, doglike carnivores, of the family Hyaenidae, found in Asia and Africa and noted for their scavenging habits. The spotted hyena is the most robust and daring of the hyenas, and when food is scarce it has been known to attack sleeping people and to carry off young children.]

List of illustrations

Title HISTORY OF PLANTS BY THEOPHRASTUS. Detail of the title page. A 1644 Greco-Latin illustrated edition, published by Johannes Bodaeus.
URL http://books.openedition.org/mnhn/docannexe/image/3751/img-1.jpg
File image/jpeg, 1,1M

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