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History of Science Roman - Pantheon

History of Science Online

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LibraryThing: Science in Ancient Mesopotamia Week 6: Roman Science

Martianus Capella, The Marriage of Philology and Mercury

| Source page | Hero | Cicero | Lucretius | Pliny the Elder | Ptolemy | Galen | Capella | Basil and Philoponos | Augustine | Boethius | Isidore of Seville | Benedict |


Capella's allegorical Marriage of Philology and Mercury became one of the most highly regarded foundations for study of the seven liberal arts.

Four liberal arts, the quadrivium, were mathematical sciences, beginning with arithmetic and geometry; then music, a branch of arithmetic; and astronomy, a branch of geometry. Arithmetic and music each explored the relations between numbers (discrete), while geometry and astronomy each considered the relations between magnitudes (continuous).

Music applied arithemtical ratios over time; astronomy put geometrical figures into motion; in this way music and astronomy were sister sciences.

The Quadrivium
Numbers (discrete)
Magnitudes (continuous)
In motion

(numbers in motion)

(magnitudes in motion)

These four mathematical sciences lay at the heart of the tradition of liberal arts. Are you working on a liberal arts degree?

The other three liberal arts, known as the trivium, included grammar, rhetoric, and logic.

The Trivium
How to write well
How to speak well
How to think well

These three liberal arts would be studied in a "grammar school," before entering the university.

Cf. Capella photo's on our Flickr site. On the title page below, can you identify the Latin names of the 7 liberal arts listed above?


Do you have a great quote for this page? Let me know! (If used, a new quote is worth 1 point extra credit)

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HSCI 3013. History of Science to 17th centuryCreative Commons license
Kerry Magruder, Instructor, 2004
Brent Purkaple, TA

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Many thanks to the pedagogical model developed in Mythology and Folklore and other online courses by Laura Gibbs, which have been an inspiration for this course.

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This course is currently undergoing major reconstruction to bring it into alignment with the new version of the course at Janux