Greece

Basilios Bessarion and the Great Revival of Letters

Basilios Bessarion and the Great Revival of Letters

On January 2, 1403, Roman Catholic Cardinal Bishop Basilius Bessarion was born. The titular Latin Patriarch of Constantinople, Bessarion was one of the illustrious Greek scholars who contributed to the great revival of letters in the 15th century. One of the most learned scholars of his time, Bessarion spread knowledge of Greek language and learning by building a personal library that included a large collection of Greek manuscripts, by his…
Hipparchus of Nicaea and the Precession of the Equinoxes

Hipparchus of Nicaea and the Precession of the Equinoxes

Hipparchus of Nicaea was a Greek astronomer, geographer, and mathematician in the second century BC. He is considered the founder of trigonometry but is most famous for his incidental discovery of precession of the equinoxes. His other reputed achievements include the discovery and measurement of Earth‘s precession, the compilation of the first comprehensive star catalog of the western world, and possibly the invention of the astrolabe, also of the armillary…
Eratosthenes and the Circumference of the Earth

Eratosthenes and the Circumference of the Earth

Eratosthenes of Cyrene was a Greek mathematician, geographer, poet, astronomer, and music theorist. He was a man of learning, becoming the chief librarian at the Library of Alexandria. He invented the discipline of geography, including the terminology used today. He is best known for being the first person to calculate the circumference of the Earth. The son of Aglaos, Eratosthenes was born in 276 BC in Cyrene. Now part of…
Archytas – The Founder of Mathematical Mechanics

Archytas – The Founder of Mathematical Mechanics

At about 428 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, statesman, and strategist Archytas of Tarentum was born. A scientist of the Pythagorean school he is famous for being the reputed founder of mathematical mechanics, as well as a good friend of Plato. Archytas was born in Tarentum, Magna Graecia, an area on the heel of the boot of Italy which was under Greek control in the 5th century BC, and…
Arthur Evans and the Palace of Knossos

Arthur Evans and the Palace of Knossos

On July 8, 1851, English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans was born. Evans was a pioneer in the study of Aegean civilization in the Bronze Age. He is most famous for unearthing the palace of Knossos in Crete. He continued Heinrich Schliemann’s concept of a Mycenaean civilization, but found that he needed to distinguish another civilization, the Minoan, from the structures and artifacts found there and throughout the eastern Mediterranean. Arthur…
Anaximander and the Milesian School of Philosophy

Anaximander and the Milesian School of Philosophy

At about 610 BC, pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Anaximander of Miletus was born. He belonged to the Milesian school and learned the teachings of his master Thales. According to available historical documents, he is the first philosopher known to have written down his studies, although only one fragment of his work remains. An early proponent of science he tried to observe and explain different aspects of the universe, with a particular interest…
Herodotus – the Father of History

Herodotus – the Father of History

About in 484 B.C., ancient Greek historian Herodotus was born. A contemporary of Socrates, he is widely referred to as “The Father of History“. Herodotus was the first historian known to have broken from Homeric tradition to treat historical subjects as a method of investigation: specifically by collecting his materials systematically and critically, and then to arrange them into a historiographic narrative. Despite Herodotus‘ historical significance, little is known of…
Theophrastus of Eresos – the Father of Botany

Theophrastus of Eresos – the Father of Botany

Theophrastos of Eresos, who studied in Plato’s philosopher’s school, is most famous for his groundbreaking work on plants. Thus, he is often referred to as the ‘father of botany’. His two surviving botanical works, Enquiry into Plants (Historia Plantarum) and On the Causes of Plants, were an important influence on Renaissance science. Theophrastus of Eresos was a native of Eresos in Lesbos and his given name was Tyrtamus. It is…
The World is in Ever-Present Change – Heraclitus of Ephesus

The World is in Ever-Present Change – Heraclitus of Ephesus

Greek pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus was famous for his insistence on ever-present change in the universe, as stated in the famous saying, “No man ever steps in the same river twice”. This position was complemented by his stark commitment to a unity of opposites in the world, stating that “the path up and down are one and the same”. Through these doctrines Heraclitus characterized all existing entities by pairs…
Herostratus burns the Temple of Artemis

Herostratus burns the Temple of Artemis

On July 21, 356 BC., Herostratus, in an attempt to immortalise his name, set fire to the to the wooden roof-beams of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. For this outrage, the Ephesians sentenced Herostratus to death and forbade anyone from mentioning his name. Eversince this time, the term “Herostratic fame” relates to Herostratus and means, roughly, “fame at any cost”. Modern archaeologist found that…
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