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Martha C. Nussbaum

(b Stagira, 384 bc; d Khalkis, 322 bc). Ancient Greek philosopher. Born to a physician at the Macedonian court, Aristotle travelled to Athens in his 18th year to study philosophy at Plato’s Academy. He remained for nearly twenty years until Plato’s death in 348 bc; he was then forced to leave Athens: probably he had come under suspicion because of his Macedonian connections. He went first to Assos, then to Mytilene, doing the original biological research on which his later scientific writings are based. During this period, he spent some time as tutor to the young Alexander the Great (reg 336–323 bc); the relationship does not seem to have been a warm one. Returning to Athens in 335 bc, he set up his own philosophical school, later called the Lyceum. From the colonnaded path, or peripatos, attached to the building, his followers were later called ‘Peripatetics’. Here he taught, and wrote most of his surviving works. After Alexander’s death in ...

Article

Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....

Article

Stephen T. Driscoll

Scottish royal centre in Perthshire, which reached its zenith in the late Pictish period (8th–9th centuries ad) and is the source of an assemblage of high quality ecclesiastical sculpture. Occupying the fertile heart of Strathearn, Forteviot has been more or less in continuous use as a ceremonial centre since the 3rd millennium bc and is the focus of élite burials from the Early Bronze Age (c. 1900 bc) through to the Pictish era. Cinead mac Alpín (Kenneth mac Alpine), the king traditionally identified with the foundation of the Gaelic kingdom of the Scots, died at the palacium (palace) of Forteviot in ad 858. It was eclipsed as a royal centre by Scone in ad 906, but remained a significant royal estate until the 13th century.

The only surviving fabric of the palace is a unique monolithic arch, presumably a chancel arch, carved with three moustached Picts in classical dress flanking a crucifix (now in the Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh). Fragments of at least four additional sandstone crosses indicate the presence of a major church, perhaps a monastery. The celebrated Dupplin Cross (now in Dunning Church) originally overlooked Forteviot from the north. This monolithic, free-standing cross (2.5 m tall) bears a Latin inscription naming Constantine son of Fergus, King of the Picts (...

Article

Michael Bird

(b Halikarnassos [now Bodrum, Turkey], c. 484 bc; d ?Thurii [nr Sibari, Calabria], c. 425 bc). Greek historian. His life is poorly documented, but after early political exile from Halikarnassos he seems to have spent time on Samos and in the Athenian colony of Thurii in southern Italy, as well as in Athens itself. His travels included voyages to Egypt and to the Black Sea region (see Scythian and Sarmatian art, §1). Herodotus is known as the ‘father of history’, since he was the first to approach the writing of history in a systematic manner with an attempt to authenticate evidence and present it cogently. He left one work, the Histories, which centres on the Greco-Persian wars of 499–479 bc; these ended with the defeat of the Achaemenid forces by Athens around the time of Herodotus’ birth. The first half of the Histories explores the background to the might of the Achaemenid empire, while the second follows the course of the wars with Greece. Herodotus’ narrative, later divided into nine books (‘Muses’), embraces a wealth of geographical, historical and political commentary, as well as a repertory of fantastical travellers’ tales. These last have earned him the alternative sobriquet ‘father of lies’, although many of his other observations have been endorsed by modern scholarship and archaeology. Herodotus is not only an important source for Greek history in the period ...

Article

Plato  

Martha C. Nussbaum

(b ?Athens, c. 429 bc; d 347 bc).

Ancient Greek philosopher. He was the son of a distinguished and wealthy Athenian family and grew up in turbulent times; the Peloponnesian War and the bitter struggles between local oligarchic and democratic factions made life unstable and justice difficult. In 399 bc the restored democracy put to death Plato’s beloved teacher Socrates (469–399 bc), reinforcing his dislike of democratic institutions. During the following years Plato travelled widely, beginning his friendship with Dion of Syracuse (409–353 bc). Around 385 bc he returned to Athens, where he remained for most of the rest of his life. He began teaching in a school that was later the first to be called an ‘Academy’, after the grove in which it stood. Plato made two further visits to Syracuse, attempting at Dion’s request, but without success, to make a philosopher of the young ruler Dionysius II (reg 367–343 bc)....

Article

Martha C. Nussbaum

(b Athens, c. 428/427 bc; d ?Athens, c. 354 bc).

Greek general, historian and writer . From a wealthy Athenian family, he became an enthusiastic follower of Socrates. Shortly before Socrates’ death, he left Athens. He served as a general under Cyrus in Asia Minor and later accepted the patronage of Sparta, where he settled and wrote most of his major works. His writings include histories (Hellenica, Anabasis) and narratives of Socrates’ philosophical activity (Memorabilia, Apology, Oeconomicus, Symposium).

Xenophon’s Memorabilia, written some time between 370 and 354 bc, includes two dialogues (III.x.1–8) between Socrates and contemporary artists. The historical status of the two conversations is unclear, but since Xenophon’s aim was to show that Socrates had made new beneficial contributions to the city, it may be assumed that the ideas expressed in the dialogues would have been found both correct and novel by Xenophon’s audience. In the first, Socrates asks the painter Parrhasios how he uses colour to represent (...