A True Story (Ancient Greek: Ἀληθῆ διηγήματα, Alēthē diēgēmata; Latin: Vera Historia or Latin: Verae Historiae) is a novel written in the second century AD by Lucian of Samosata, a Greek-speaking author of Assyrian descent. The novel is a satire of outlandish tales which had been reported in ancient sources, particularly those which presented fantastic or mythical events as if they were true. It is Lucian's best-known work.
It is the earliest known work of fiction to include travel to outer space, alien lifeforms, and interplanetary warfare. As such, A True Story has been described as "the first known text that could be called science fiction". However the work does not fit into typical literary genres: its multilayered plot and characters have been interpreted as science fiction, fantasy, satire or parody, and have been the subject of much scholarly debate.
- "A True Story" | 2018-10-15 | 525 Upvotes 72 Comments
The Antikythera mechanism (, ) is an ancient hand powered Greek analogue computer which has also been described as the first example of such device used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses for calendar and astrological purposes decades in advance. It could also be used to track the four-year cycle of athletic games which was similar to an Olympiad, the cycle of the ancient Olympic Games.
This artefact was retrieved from the sea in 1901, and identified on 17 May 1902 as containing a gear by archaeologist Valerios Stais, among wreckage retrieved from a shipwreck off the coast of the Greek island Antikythera. The instrument is believed to have been designed and constructed by Greek scientists and has been variously dated to about 87 BC, or between 150 and 100 BC, or to 205 BC, or to within a generation before the shipwreck, which has been dated to approximately 70–60 BC.
The device, housed in the remains of a 34 cm × 18 cm × 9 cm (13.4 in × 7.1 in × 3.5 in) wooden box, was found as one lump, later separated into three main fragments which are now divided into 82 separate fragments after conservation efforts. Four of these fragments contain gears, while inscriptions are found on many others. The largest gear is approximately 14 centimetres (5.5 in) in diameter and originally had 223 teeth.
It is a complex clockwork mechanism composed of at least 30 meshing bronze gears. A team led by Mike Edmunds and Tony Freeth at Cardiff University used modern computer x-ray tomography and high resolution surface scanning to image inside fragments of the crust-encased mechanism and read the faintest inscriptions that once covered the outer casing of the machine.
Detailed imaging of the mechanism suggests that it had 37 gear wheels enabling it to follow the movements of the Moon and the Sun through the zodiac, to predict eclipses and even to model the irregular orbit of the Moon, where the Moon's velocity is higher in its perigee than in its apogee. This motion was studied in the 2nd century BC by astronomer Hipparchus of Rhodes, and it is speculated that he may have been consulted in the machine's construction.
The knowledge of this technology was lost at some point in antiquity. Similar technological works later appeared in the medieval Byzantine and Islamic worlds, but works with similar complexity did not appear again until the development of mechanical astronomical clocks in Europe in the fourteenth century. All known fragments of the Antikythera mechanism are now kept at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, along with a number of artistic reconstructions and replicas of the mechanism to demonstrate how it may have looked and worked.
Boustrophedon (Ancient Greek: βουστροφηδόν, boustrophēdón "ox-turning" from βοῦς, bous, "ox", στροφή, strophē, "turn" and the adverbial suffix -δόν, "like, in the manner of"; that is, turning like oxen in ploughing) is a type of bi-directional text, mostly seen in ancient manuscripts and other inscriptions. Alternate lines of writing are flipped, or reversed, with reversed letters. Rather than going left-to-right as in modern European languages, or right-to-left as in Arabic and Hebrew, alternate lines in boustrophedon must be read in opposite directions. Also, the individual characters are reversed, or mirrored. It was a common way of writing in stone in Ancient Greece.
The Diolkos (Δίολκος, from the Greek διά, dia "across" and ὁλκός, holkos "portage machine") was a paved trackway near Corinth in Ancient Greece which enabled boats to be moved overland across the Isthmus of Corinth. The shortcut allowed ancient vessels to avoid the long and dangerous circumnavigation of the Peloponnese peninsula. The phrase "as fast as a Corinthian", penned by the comic playwright Aristophanes, indicates that the trackway was common knowledge and had acquired a reputation for swiftness.
The main function of the Diolkos was the transfer of goods, although in times of war it also became a preferred means of speeding up naval campaigns. The 6 km (3.7 mi) to 8.5 km (5.3 mi) long roadway was a rudimentary form of railway, and operated from c. 600 BC until the middle of the 1st century AD. The scale on which the Diolkos combined the two principles of the railway and the overland transport of ships remained unique in antiquity.
- "Diolkos" | 2020-10-21 | 167 Upvotes 28 Comments
- "The Diolkos: an ancient Greek paved trackway enabling boats to be moved overland" | 2016-07-31 | 121 Upvotes 27 Comments
In the theatre of ancient Greece, the eirôn (Ancient Greek: εἴρων) was one of three stock characters in comedy. The eirôn usually succeeded in bringing down his braggart opponent (the alazôn) by understating his own abilities.
- "Eirôn" | 2019-04-28 | 11 Upvotes 1 Comments
Greek numerals, also known as Ionic, Ionian, Milesian, or Alexandrian numerals, are a system of writing numbers using the letters of the Greek alphabet. In modern Greece, they are still used for ordinal numbers and in contexts similar to those in which Roman numerals are still used elsewhere in the West. For ordinary cardinal numbers, however, Greece uses Arabic numerals.
- "Greek numerals" | 2018-06-29 | 80 Upvotes 10 Comments
Iannis Xenakis (also spelt as Yannis Xenakis) (Greek: Γιάννης (Ιάννης) Ξενάκης [ˈʝanis kseˈnacis]; 29 May 1922 – 4 February 2001) was a Greek-French composer, music theorist, architect, performance director and engineer. After 1947, he fled Greece, becoming a naturalized citizen of France. He is considered an important post-World War II composer whose works helped revolutionize 20th-century classical music.
Xenakis pioneered the use of mathematical models in music such as applications of set theory, stochastic processes and game theory and was also an important influence on the development of electronic and computer music. He integrated music with architecture, designing music for pre-existing spaces, and designing spaces to be integrated with specific music compositions and performances.
Among his most important works are Metastaseis (1953–54) for orchestra, which introduced independent parts for every musician of the orchestra; percussion works such as Psappha (1975) and Pléïades (1979); compositions that introduced spatialization by dispersing musicians among the audience, such as Terretektorh (1966); electronic works created using Xenakis's UPIC system; and the massive multimedia performances Xenakis called polytopes, that were a summa of his interests and skills. Among the numerous theoretical writings he authored, the book Formalized Music: Thought and Mathematics in Composition (French edition 1963, English translation 1971) is regarded as one of his most important. As an architect, Xenakis is primarily known for his early work under Le Corbusier: the Sainte Marie de La Tourette, on which the two architects collaborated, and the Philips Pavilion at Expo 58, which Xenakis designed by himself.
- "Iannis Xenakis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia" | 2010-05-20 | 18 Upvotes 5 Comments
Ioannis Phokas (Greek: Ἰωάννης Φωκᾶς), better known by the Spanish translation of his name, Juan de Fuca (born 1536 on the Ionian island of Cefalonia; died there 1602), was a Greek maritime pilot in the service of the King of Spain, Philip II. He is best known for his claim to have explored the Strait of Anián, now known as the Strait of Juan de Fuca, between Vancouver Island (now part of British Columbia, Canada) and the Olympic Peninsula (northwestern Washington state, United States).
- "Juan de Fuca" | 2018-06-29 | 50 Upvotes 23 Comments
A kleroterion (Ancient Greek: κληρωτήριον) was a randomization device used by the Athenian polis during the period of democracy to select citizens to the boule, to most state offices, to the nomothetai, and to court juries.
The kleroterion was a slab of stone incised with rows of slots and with an attached tube. Citizens' tokens—pinakia—were placed randomly in the slots so that every member of each of the tribes of Athens had their tokens placed in the same column. There was a pipe attached to the stone which could then be fed dice that were coloured differently (assumed to be black and white) and could be released individually by a mechanism that has not survived to posterity (but is speculated to be by two nails; one used to block the open end and another to separate the next die to fall from the rest of the dice above it). When a die was released, a complete row of tokens (so, one citizen from each of the tribes of Athens) was either selected if the die was coloured one colour, or discarded if it was the alternate colour. This process continued until the requisite number of citizens was selected.
- "Kleroterion" | 2019-09-04 | 99 Upvotes 22 Comments
Pankration (; Greek: παγκράτιον) was a sporting event introduced into the Greek Olympic Games in 648 BC and was an empty-hand submission sport with scarcely any rules. The athletes used boxing and wrestling techniques, but also others, such as kicking and holds, locks and chokes on the ground. The term comes from the Greek παγκράτιον [paŋkrátion], literally meaning "all of power" from πᾶν (pan) "all" and κράτος (kratos) "strength, might, power".
It was known in ancient times for its ferocity and allowance of such tactics as knees to the head and eye gouging. One ancient account tells of a situation in which the judges were trying to determine the winner of a match. The difficulty lay in that fact that both men had died in the arena from their injuries, making it hard to determine a victor. Eventually, the judges decided the winner was the one who didn't have his eyes gouged out. Over time, however, maneuvers like eye gouging were discouraged to prevent such unpleasant incidents.
- "Pankration" | 2015-04-09 | 16 Upvotes 18 Comments