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By Peter L Duren; Richard Askey; Uta C Merzbach; Harold M Edwards

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It is therefore to these heav­ ens, and their origin in Hellenistic science, that we now turn. B A C K G R O U N D : T H E C HA RA C T E R O F G R E E K S C I E N C E I N T H E H E L L E N I STIC AGE Roman astronomy, as it came to exist in the late Republic and through­ out the Imperial era, was almost entirely a result of translation from, and 22 CHAPTER ONE rewriting of, Greek works that emerged from Hellenistic intellectual cul­ ture. In a sense, the texts Roman authors took for their models repre­ sented a momentous choice.

Translation thus became a means to both obey and go beyond such limits. By adapting Greek works to Roman usage, it directed the sense of linguistic difference to­ ward discovery of opportunities for innovation. Viewed as a subset of rhetoric, translation was commonly performed as a type of exercise. Cicero and Quintilian, the most influential writ­ ers on the subject in the late Republic and Imperial periods, respectively, argued for such practice in clear terms and with the definite aim of en­ couraging an enrichment of Latin: Thus I saw that to employ the same expressions [as previous orators] profited me nothing, while to employ others [less refined] was a posi­ tive hindrance.

The first category includes mathematical treatises produced by a small elite that included such au­ thors as Eudoxus, Eratosthenes, Hipparchus, and Aristarchus of Samos, as well as Ptolemy. , planetary motion and size) . C. and who sought to acquire some­ thing of the stature and worldliness associated with cosmopolitan learn­ ing in an age when the library at Alexandria had become throughout the eastern Mediterranean a symbol of high civilization ( Green 1990). An­ other important influence may well have been the rapid spread of liter­ acy and book buying among the population.

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