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What did the Romans know? An Inquiry into Science and Worldmaking by Daryn Lehoux

What did the Romans know? An Inquiry into Science and Worldmaking


What did the Romans know? An Inquiry into Science and Worldmaking by Daryn Lehoux

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


Brilliantly rethinks both the Roman and our own approaches to the cosmos.... Between the coherent past world that the Romans made and the presumed timelessness of our scientific world, Lehoux leaves us not with an unbridgeable chasm but with his pragmatic realism, born at the confluence of ancient science, historical epistemology and the philosophy of science. First rate. (Times Higher Education)

About the Author

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

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Book Info

Publication date

27th May 2014


Daryn Lehoux

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University of Chicago Press an imprint of The University of Chicago Press


288 pages


History of science
Western philosophy: Ancient, to c 500



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