Science Bytes

Geographical Thought: Greeks and Romans

What do you think is the relation between Kalidasa's Meghdoot and Homer's Odyssey? Who was the first to divide the circle into 360 degrees? What on earth is a gnomon! And, who propounded that when two parallel lines are crossed diagonally by a straight line, the opposite angles are equal? If you are fumbling for answers to the questions above, read on. It is important that we have a firm grasp on the origins of any science in order to fully comprehend its contemporary state. So, let us acquaint ourselves with two of the most fundamental contributions, the Greek and the Roman, to geography as a branch of knowledge. The Greeks If you were to sit down to write a novel you would find strains of geographical description creeping into your work. Homer, and many others of that era were no different! The epics of Homer, especially the Iliad and the Odyssey which contain the episodes of Trojan war (1280-1180BC) provide excellent accounts of historical geography of the then known world. Four winds coming from different directions are brilliantly described in his writings. However, Homer had his limitations because he was essentially a poet and not a geographer. Formal study of the subject became pronounced with the works of Thales, Anaximander, Hecataeus, Herodotus, Plato, Aristotle, Erastothenes, and Hipparchus. Wind Characteristics Bores The North wind, strong...

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