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 patronage of…
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Herodotus of Harlicarnassus – the Father of History

Herodotus of Harlicarnassus – 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 his personal…
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Theophrastus of Eresos – the Father of Botany

Theophrastus of Eresos – the Father of Botany

Theophrastus 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. “Surely, then, if the life in animals does not need explanation or is to be explained only in this way,…
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Eudoxus and the Method of Exhaustion

Eudoxus and the Method of Exhaustion

Eudoxus of Cnidus was a Greek astronomer, mathematician, scholar and student of Plato. All of his works are lost or have survived as fragments in the texts of other classical writers. He is best known for having developed the method of exhaustion, a precursor to the integral calculus. The Life of Eudoxus of Cnidus Eudoxus of Cnidus was born around 408 BC as the son of Aischines of Cnidus. His name Eudoxus means…
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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 of contrary…
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Herostratus burning down one of the Seven Wonders of the World

Herostratus burning down one of the Seven Wonders of the World

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”. The Temple of Artemis Modern archaeologist…
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Michael Ventris and the Minoan Linear B

Michael Ventris and the Minoan Linear B

On July 12, 1922, English architect and linguist Michael Ventris was born. Along with John Chadwick and Alice Kober, Ventris deciphered Linear B, a previously unknown ancient script discovered at Knossos by Arthur Evans. He showed that the Minoan Linear B script was a very early form of Greek, the oldest known examples. Michael Ventris – Learning a Language in only Weeks Michael Ventris was born as the only child into a…
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Archimedes lifted the world off their Hinges

Archimedes lifted the world off their Hinges

Without knowing his exact date of birth or even death, we focus today on one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity: the ancient Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer Archimedes of Syracuse, who was born around 287 BC and died at about 212 BC. Only a few details of his life are known, but he is considered the greatest mathematician of antiquity and one of the greatest of all time. Archimedes…
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The Antikythera Mechanism – an Ancient Analog Computer

The Antikythera Mechanism – an Ancient Analog Computer

On May 17, 1902, Greek archaeologist Valerios Stais discovers the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient mechanical analog computer, designed to predict astronomical positions and eclipses. The Discovery of the Antikythera Mechanism The famous mechanism was discovered in a shipwreck near the Greekisland of Antikythera. In October 1900, a group of sponge divers discovered the wreck and retrieved a great number of artifacts dating back to the end of the second century BC, which…
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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 in its…
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