Classics 050: Ancient Science

imageClassics 050. Ancient Science (4 units)
Colin Webster

TR 10:30-11:50A
2 Wellman Hall

Discussion Sections:

001 Cai Thorman F 1:10-2:00P 1116 Hart Hall 44051
002 Cai Thorman F 2:10-3:00P 1116 Hart Hall 44052
003 Evan Brown F 1:10-2:00P 146 Robbins Hall 44053
004 Evan Brown F 2:10-3:00P 146 Robbins Hall 44054
005 Madelaine Wheeler F 1:10-2:00P 217 Olson Hall 44055
006 Madelaine Wheeler F 2:10-3:00P 217 Olson Hall 44056
007 Jonathan Burks F 1:10-2:00P 205 Olson Hall 44057
008 Jonathan Burks F 2:10-3:00P 205 Olson Hall 44058

Course Description: This course examines the practices of science in the ancient world, exploring the traditions of philosophical physics, medicine, biology, mathematics, astronomy, astrology, cosmology and meteorology. Students will read and engage with primary texts in translation while asking a number of fundamental questions: What constitutes a science? How do ancient scientific authors construct arguments, justification and authority? How does science relate to other knowledge practices? How do scientific ideas emerge within broader social environments and how do these ideas shape society in turn? In general, students will gain a broad understanding of science in antiquity. They will learn how ancient thinkers formed and conceptualized many of the disciplines that we take for granted today.

Prerequisite: None.

GE credit (Old): Arts & Humanities and Writing Experience.
GE credit (New): Arts & Humanities, World Cultures, and Writing Experience.

Format: Lecture - 3 hours.


  • Various, Hippocratic Writings, translated by J. Chadwick  (Penguin Classics, 1984)
  • Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Natural Questions, translated by Harry M. Hine  (University of Chicago Press, 2014)
  • Helen King, Greek and Roman Medicine  (Bristol Classical Press, 2001)
  • Richard D. McKirahan, Philosophy Before Socrates [Second Edition]  (Hackett Publishing, 2010)