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Mechanics

(1,507 words)

Author(s): Krafft, Fritz (Marburg/Lahn)
[German version] I. Term and Definition, Content and Scope Mechanics (μηχανικὴ τέχνη, mēchanikḕ téchnē) in ancient and medieval thought was a discipline that dealt with the use of artificial technical devices and instruments ( machinae; in the early modern period: ‘arts’) as well as procedures for artificially creating motion that would not have occurred on their own or spontaneously (‘naturally’) in nature. Mechanics also includes the theoretical analysis of these instruments and their effect. In Antiquity, mechanics was not the description and explanation of naturally c…

Acoustics

(1,893 words)

Author(s): Krafft, Fritz (Marburg/Lahn)
[German version] A. Definition Derived from Greek ἀκούειν ( akoúein), ‘to hear’, acoustics in modern language use generally means the physics of sound phenomena (physical acoustics) and furthermore the totality of the physiological processes during hearing (physiological acoustics) as well as the subjective hearing phenomena occurring in consciousness and in artistic experience (psychological acoustics). In Greek and Roman antiquity too all three areas were known even if, as a rule, they were separated n…

Elements, theories of the

(985 words)

Author(s): Krafft, Fritz (Marburg/Lahn)
[German version] Elements (Greek στοιχεῖα ; stoicheía, ‘letters’) are unalterable ‘simple’ natural substances, which cannot be further subdivided into any other constituents. The mixture of the elements forms the composite substances constituting the material aspect of all things natural. According to the Hylozoists ( Anaximander,  Anaximenes) change transformed the original substances into all naturally occurring conditions and properties. According to the ontology of the  Eleatic School, by contrast, even the material world was imm…

Ctesibius

(1,178 words)

Author(s): Krafft, Fritz (Marburg/Lahn)
[1] Inventor of pneumatics, 1st half of the 3rd cent. BC [German version] A. Life and Work A Greek mechanic and inventor of the first half of the 3rd cent. BC, who came from Alexandria (Vitr. De arch. 9,8,2; Philo of Byzantium, Belopoiika 67) and worked there, C. was the founder of  pneumatics. In an epigram (Ath. 497d), C.'s contemporary Hedylus mentions a hydro-acoustic double horn of plenty, with which C. is said to have adorned a statue of the ‘divine Arsinoe’. Arsinoe [II 3] II., who had been the wife of Ptolemy II Philadelphus since 277 BC, was deified in 274; coins from as early as c. 270 dep…

Earth­quake

(850 words)

Author(s): Maul, Stefan (Heidelberg) | Krafft, Fritz (Marburg/Lahn)
[German version] I. Mesopotamia The push of the Arabian peninsula to the north-east against the Eurasian plate caused the uplift of the Zagros and Taurus mountains. Seismic release of tensions can lead to earthquakes in the whole of Mesopotamia, particularly in the north. Earthquakes were considered to be expressions of wrath by  Enlil, king of the gods, by various  chthonic gods and by Inanna/Ištar as the star of Venus. They were regarded as severe warnings to the king and as precursors of further …

Astronomy

(5,492 words)

Author(s): Krafft, Fritz (Marburg/Lahn) | Hunger, Hermann (Vienna)
[German version] A. Extent, definition and term Astronomy is the description, causal justification and forecast of celestial phenomena, the latter on the basis of repeatable and repeated observations or calculations based on these -- and periods derived from them. In Greece astronomy originally comprised all the μετέωρα ( metéōra, celestial bodies; Thales fr. A 2; Gorgias fr. B 11, 13 DK), at the latest since Aristotle the metéōra conceived as sublunary were largely excluded. Besides, in the pre-Classical period exclusively, in Aristotle and by preference (syno…

Echo

(364 words)

Author(s): Krafft, Fritz (Marburg/Lahn) | Graf, Fritz (Columbus, OH)
(ἠχώ; ēchṓ). [German version] [1] Origin and propagation of sound The origin and propagation of sound is explained as (contiguous) air moved by a blow ( Acoustics); its reflection within a sound box (reverberation) or on a suitable, usually a smooth object, conceived of as reversal (resounding, echo), is also included in this explanation (Theophr. de sensu 9 [Empedocles], 53 [Democritus]; Aristot. An. 2,8, 419b 25ff., Probl. 11,6,899a 24-25 and 11,8,899b 25ff., probably after Aristoxenus; Lucr. 4,572-594)…

Natural sciences

(43,372 words)

Author(s): Lammel, Hans-Uwe | Krafft, Fritz (Marburg/Lahn) | Hübner, Wolfgang (Münster) | Landfester, Katharina | Berger, Albrecht (Berlin) | Et al.
Lammel, Hans-Uwe I. The Concept of Nature (physis/natura) (CT) [German version] A. Antiquity (CT) By assuming the early Greek definition of essential being as 'being-that-has-become' [41; 19; 33; 55; 52], Aristotle had given precise expression to Greek physis, which he conceived of as the becoming and essence of all existing matter that contains the origin of its motion within itself (Metaph. Δ 4). In addition to the material substrate, from which becoming was perceived as proceeding, the notions of shape and form ( morphḗ and eídos) appeared as the goal ( télos) of natural becoming,…