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CLA260 - lecture 21.doc

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University of Toronto St. George
Ben Akrigg

CLA260H1S Method and Theory in Classics Getting the measure of the land 1: Founding a new colony. Some Saian exults in my shield which I left – a faultless weapon – beside a bush against my will. But I saved myself. What do I care about that shield? To hell with it! I’ll get one that’s just as good another time. (Archilochus (7 century BC), fragment 5). The establishment of new settlements was an important feature of many periods of classical antiquity. The English word ‘colony’ is derived from the Latin colonia. The Romans meant by this a specific kind of new settlement, which was not quite like anything in Greek experience (and so in Greek texts the word is not translated but transliterated as kolonia). The word for the new settlements founded by Greeks in the archaic and classical periods was apoikia (pl. apoikiai; literally something like ‘new home’). • In the archaic period especially there is often no clear distinction between the settlements referred to as apoikiai and those called emporia (sing. emporion) or ‘trading posts’. th From the ‘Brea decree’, 5 century Athens (detailing the arrangements for a new settlement in the northern Aegean): “The founders of the settlement are to provide means for sacrificing to obtain good omens on behalf of the settlement. They are to choose ten men, one from each tribe, to divide up the land, and they are to divide up the land. Demokleides is to be given power to establish the settlement in the best way he can...” (Meiggs & Lewis 49). Contemporary comedy includes jokes about the use of ‘geometry’ and especially its associated equipment – see for example Aristophanes’ Clouds 202-4: Strepsiades: And what’s that thing for? Student: Geometry. Strepsiades: So what’s the use of that? Student: Measuring land. Strepsiades: You mean for settlers? Student: No, land in general. Strepsiades: How urbane! There’s a trick that’s both democratic and useful! and Birds 992-1020: [Enter M ETON ] Meton: I have come here... Peisetairos: Here’s another nuisance. What are you doing here? What form does your plan take? What’s your thinking? What’s afoot? Meton: I want to survey the air for you, and parcel it into acres. Peisetairos: By the gods, who on earth are you? Meton: Who am I? I am Meton: famed throughout Greece! And I’m big in Colonus. Peistetairos: So tell me, what’s all this stuff you’ve got? Meton: Air rulers. For the sky is like a saucepan lid. So, if I position this curved ruler over the top, and insert a compass... Are you following me? Peisetairos: Er, no. You’ve lost me. Meton: ... and lay a straight ruler alongside, then I’ll take a measure, so that you will get a circle squared, with a market-place in the middle, and so that there will be straight streets running into it and meeting at the very centre, so that just like from a star, which is itself round, rays will beam out straight in every direction. Peisetairos: The man’s a regular Thales! There is a (brief) discussion in Plato’s Laws (739e-741b) about the division of land in the new city of Magnesia. In the textbook, note (in addition to chapter 14 on archaeology), chapter 23 on Science and Technology – in the current context especially pages 299-300 on Mathematics and Geometry, and 305-310 on Geography, Technology and Civil Engineering. Technological developments and innovation have been the focus of slightly more attention recently than Schaps implies, though the impetus has come from archaeologists interested in economic matters. See especially now the Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World he mentions on page 314. To the section on resources for Technology you may also wish to add Lewis’ Surveying Instruments of Greece and Rome (Cambridge, 2001). On the practicalities of laying out regular grids (whether for farming land or urban street grids), there are obviously two things to take into account: 1. Establishing right angles. This was relatively straightforward, as the properties of the 3, 4, 5 triangle were known long before th Pythagoras (active in the late 6 century BC). Alternatively, a pair of compasses can be used (this is what Meton is talking about at Clouds 1003): a triangle contained by a semi-circle will be right- angled; or two circles can be drawn so that they overlap: the lines drawn between the centres of the circles and between the points where their arcs overlap will cross at right angles. Any of these techniques can be used in the field, or a set square can be laid down. The lines can be extended using poles and cords. Measuring the diagonals of the quadrilaterals formed will check whether they
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