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Aëtius, Achilles, Epicurus and Lucretius on the Phases and Eclipses of the Moon

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Abstract

Although chapter 2.29 of Aetius' Placita claims to be dealing with lunar eclipses, several of its lemmas are actually concerned with the moon's 'monthly concealment', i.e. new moon. This paper will show that, save for one obvious transposition, all lemmas in the first part of the chapter are in fact concerned with the new moon, while only those at the end deal with lunar eclipses. This is best explained on the assumption that in Aetius 2.29 two separate chapters have been conflated, the first dealing with the phases of the moon, and the other with lunar eclipses. It is further shown that while the first portion is virtually complete, the second is not, preserving only lemmas which presuppose that the moon reflects the light of the sun. A doxographical passage in Ach. Isag. 21, where new moon and the lunar eclipse are similarly confused, suggests that the conflation must have been already present in its and Aetius' common Vorlage. On the other hand, Epicurus and Lucretius, believed to have culled their astronomical theories from doxographical works, clearly distinguish the two phenomena and provide useful clues as to the lemmas missing from Aetius 2.29.

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Thesis
À la fin de l’Antiquité, en un temps marqué par la recomposition du religieux et par d’intenses interactions culturelles en Méditerranée, astrologie, magie et philosophie entretiennent des rapports étroits, et parfois confus. À ce titre, le corpus des Papyri Graecae Magicae (PGM) permet d’étudier comment l’univers céleste et les dieux du ciel sont intégrés à des dispositifs rituels. Menée dans la perspective combinée de l’histoire des religions, de l’histoire des savoirs et de l’anthropologie des rituels, l’analyse montre que les pratiques religieuses « magiques » sont peu perméables au paradigme conceptuel de l’astrologie hellénistique mais qu’elles peuvent néanmoins en exploiter les outils de manière ponctuelle, une fois reformulé leur mode d’emploi en conformité avec les techniques « magiques ». En outre, l’écriture des rituels comprend des transformations notables qui donnent à des procédures divinatoires de nouvelles orientations religieuses et en font, avec la théurgie néoplatonicienne, des témoins importants pour documenter la mise en place d’un imaginaire de la « mystique ». L’univers du « magicien » apparaît donc comme un monde en soi, connecté aux anciennes cosmologies comme à l’évolution intellectuelle contemporaine.
Chapter
In this chapter, I will explore the interrelations between three astronomical theories that are attributed to Anaxagoras. The first theory is the explanation of the Milky Way as effectuated by the shadow of the earth. The second is the explanation of eclipses of the moon as caused by the earth’s shadow. The third is the explanation of eclipses of the moon as due to invisible heavenly bodies below the moon. I will examine how well these theories are attested, to what extent they are mutually compatible, and whether or not they harmonize with Anaxagoras’ other astronomical conceptions, particularly that of a flat earth. In Chap. 10, some consequences will be drawn regarding the light and phases of the moon. Chap. 11 will address the question of how Anaxagoras could have measured the distance of the sun.
Article
The main purpose of this short paper is to study the possible criticism that Posidonius might have raised against Epicurus’ method of multiple explanations. We know this Epicurean doctrine mainly thanks to the Letter to Pythocles, a doctrinal epistle preserved by Diogenes Laertius and fully devoted to the study of celestial and meteorological phenomena. In his Commentary on Aris­totle’s Physics (291, 21–292, 31 Diels = Posid. F18 Edelstein-Kidd = 255 Theiler) Simplicius quotes Alexander of Aphrodisias, which in turn refers to a passage of Geminus’ Concise Exposition of the Meteorology of Posidonius. Here Posidonius deals with the distinction between philosophy and the special sciences. Although Posidonius enters into a rich debate of his day, I believe it would be legitimate to include Epicurus and his doctrine of multiple explanations among Posidonius’ potential polemical targets.
Book
875AETIUS8 c UMA 19938/1, E : Afr. : Chr., S'il y a un numéro ci-après, c'est le champ Number, i.e. le vol. de la série (livres) ou le fasc. (revues): !! n° de vol. dans le titre
Article
The Greek astronomer Aristarchus of Samos was active in the third century BCE, more than a thousand years before Copernicus presented his model of a heliocentric solar system. It was Aristarchus, however, who first suggested - in a work that is now lost - that the planets revolve around the sun. Edited by Sir Thomas Little Heath (1861-1940), this 1913 publication contains the ancient astronomer's only surviving treatise, which does not propound the heliocentric hypothesis. The Greek text is based principally on the tenth-century manuscript Vaticanus Graecus 204. Heath also provides a facing-page English translation and explanatory notes. The treatise is prefaced by a substantial history of ancient Greek astronomy, ranging from Homer's first mention of constellations to work by Heraclides of Pontus in the fourth century BCE relating to the Earth's rotation. Heath's collection of translated ancient texts, Greek Astronomy (1932), is also reissued in this series.
Robin, L. 1925-8. Lucrèce. De rerum natura
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Ernout, A., Robin, L. 1925-8. Lucrèce. De rerum natura. Commentaire exégétique et critique, (Paris)
Xenophanes or Theophrastus? An Aëtian Doxographicum on the Sun
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Lucretius and Doxography
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