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Queen's University

*Please note that course syllabi are updated each year in late August 
Prior to August, syllabi on the Classics Department website will reflect the courses as they were offered in the last term or year.  Significant changes in emphasis in course material may occur from year to year, including grading methodology, grade weighting and assignments.   Up-to-date syllabi will be available to students by the first day of class.

CLST 214*
Ancient Science


 D. Lehoux - 
Phone: 613-533-6000 x74820
Office Hours: Tuesdays 9:15 - 10:15 AM

Teaching Assistants

Class Schedule

  • Tuesdays 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
  • Wednesdays 1:30 PM - 2:30 PM
  • Fridays 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

Location: Walter-Light Hall Auditorium (WLH-AUD)

Course Overview

Ancient concepts of nature and of natural phenomena were radically different from ourown, and yet historians regularly point back to the Greeks and Babylonians as the originatorsof a way of looking at and understanding the natural world that would eventually developinto what has become the truly gargantuan enterprise that constitutes the modern sciences.But what did the ancients know about the natural world and how did they come to know it?What kinds of theories did they develop to account for the movements of the planets, forthe growth of plants, for reproduction, or for material change on earth, for example? Whatwas the relationship between experiences of nature and theories about nature? Whopracticed what we now call science, and what led them to do so? Can we even talk aboutscience before there were any professional scientists? By looking in detail at the phenomenaobserved and explained in the ancient sciences, we will see that even so simple aphenomenon as a falling rock can, when seen in such a very different light, open up widerangingquestions about the nature and possibilities of experience and understanding.


Winter 2013: TBA

Winter 2012:

Midterm test (Monday, October 22) 25%
Essay or presentation (Due Thursday, November 8) 25%
Final exam 50%

NOTE: Any student who misses one of the midterms for illness or other legitimate reason (DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED) will have their grade balanced between the other midterm (42%) and the final exam (58%).  Late penalties are 5% of the assignment value (out of 100) per day,including weekends, to a maximum of 7 days after which the assignment gets a ZERO. Extensions will not be granted.


Winter 2014:

(1)* Lloyd, G.E.R. Early Greek Science: Thales to Aristotle, NY: Norton, 1970 (EGS)
(2)* Lloyd, G.E.R. Greek Science after Aristotle, NY: Norton, 1973 (GSAA)
(3) Online primary- and secondary-source readings (Moodle)

* Please note: The Lloyd books are ordered through Novel Idea (Princess at Bagot) and NOT through the University Bookstore. 

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is constituted by the five core fundamental values ofhonesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility (as articulated by the Centre for Academic Integrity,Clemson University; see all of which are central to the building, nurturing andsustaining of an academic community in which all members of the community will thrive. Adherence tothe values expressed through academic integrity forms a foundation for the "freedom of inquiry andexchange of ideas" essential to the intellectual life of the University (see Report on Principles and Priorities) Queen's students, faculty, administrators and staff therefore all have ethical responsibilities forsupporting and upholding the fundamental values of academic integrity.

All assignments, unless otherwise indicated by me in writing, must be your own individual work. If you are unsure about any of this, then see me.

Schedule of Classes

Winter 2013: TBA

Winter 2012:

Sept. 10: Course intro, syllabus
Sept. 12: What is the history and philosophy of science? What is ancient science?
 Reading: EGS chapter 1; Naughton on Kuhn:

Early Greek natural philosophy

Sept. 13: Presocratic natural philosophy. Reading: Presocratic selections (M); [optional:
 Lehoux chapter 3 (M)]
Sept. 17: Hippocratic medicine. Reading: The Nature of Man (M); [optional: Lehoux chapter 4 (M)]
Sept. 19: Plato’s cosmos. Reading: Timaeus, selections (M); EGS chapter 6
Sept. 20, 24: Aristotle, physics. Reading: Aristotle, selections (M); EGS chapter 8
Sept. 26, 27: Aristotle, biology. Reading: selections from Aristotle (M); Lehoux, chapter 5

Astronomy, astrology, mathematics

Oct. 1: Divination. Reading: Lehoux chapter 1 (M)
Oct. 3, 4: Babylonian astronomy. Reading: Ritter (M); Steele (M)
Oct. 10: Greek mathematics. Reading: EGS chapter 3; GSAA chapter 4
Oct. 11, 15: Early Greek astronomy. Reading: EGS chapter 7; GSAA chapter 5
Oct. 17: Astrology. Reading: selections (M)
Oct. 18: The Antikythera mechanism. Reading TBA
Oct. 22: ***Mid-term exam***
Oct. 24, 25: Ptolemaic astronomy. Reading: GSAA chapter 8; selections from Ptolemy (M)
Oct. 29: Geography. Reading: TBA
Oct. 31: Harmonics. Reading: selections from harmonics (M)

Hellenistic and Roman science and technology

Nov. 1: Stoicism. Reading: GSAA chapter 3; Stoic selections (M)
Nov. 5: Atomism. Reading: GSAA chapter 4; Atomist selections (M)
Nov. 7: Mechanics. Reading: GSAA chapter 7; Hero of Alexandria selections (M)
Nov. 8***, 12: Ancient technology. Reading: GSAA chapter 7; selections (M)
 ***Essay/Presentation due Nov. 8***
Nov. 14, 15: Cicero. Reading: On the Nature of the Gods, selections (M); Dream of Scipio (M)
Nov. 19: Seneca. Reading: Natural Questions, selections (M)
Nov. 21: Pliny the Elder. Reading: Natural History, selections (M)
Nov. 22, 26: Galen. Reading: GSAA chapter 9; Galen selections (M)
Nov. 28: The legacy of ancient science. Reading: TBA
Nov. 29: Recap and review

Disability Accommodations

Queen's University is committed to achieving full accessibility for persons with disabilities. Part of this commitment includes arranging academic accommodations for students with disabilities to ensure they have an equitable opportunity to participate in all of their academic activities. If you are a student with a disability and think you may need accommodations, you are strongly encouraged to contact the Disability Services Office (DSO) and register as early as possible. For more information, including important deadlines, please visit the DSO website at:


The material in this outline is copyrighted and is for the sole use of students registered in CLST 214.  This material shall not be distributed or disseminated to anyone other than students registered in CLST 214.  Failure to abide by these conditions constitutes a breach of academic integrity under the University Senate's Academic Integrity Policy Statement.

This page was last updated 30  August, 2013.  

Department of Classics, 505 Watson Hall
Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6.
P: 613.533.2745 | F: 613.533.6739