Aristotle’s Meteorologica

  • H. Howard Frisinger
Part of the Meteorological Monographs book series (METEOR)


Aristotle (384–322 B.C.) was born at Stagira, a Greek colony a few miles from the present monastic settlement of Mount Athos. He moved to Athens and at seventeen became a pupil of Plato. Following his master’s death in 347 B.C., he settled in Lesbos, an island off the coast of Asia Minor. His rising reputation as a scholar resulted in an appointment as tutor to the young prince Alexander of Macedon, the future Alexander the Great. Returning to Athens in 336 B.C., Aristotle became one of the most noted public teachers, writers, and philosophers of all time. Included among his many works is the treatise Meteorologica, the inspiration for the growth of meteorology into a science.1


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  1. 1.
    For a discussion of the pre-Aristotelian development of meteorology, see H. Howard Frisinger, “Meteorology Before Aristotle,” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 52, No. 11 (November, 1971): 1078–1080.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Carl B. Boyer, The Rainbow (New York: Thomas Yoseloff, 1959), p. 38.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    There are now several English translations of this work. The one used here was from the translation by H.D.P. Lee; see Aristotle, Meteorologica, trans. H.D.P. Lee (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1952).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Aristotle, De Caelo, trans. W.K.C. Guthrie (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1939), p. 213.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    W.S. Fowler, The Development of Scientific Method (London: Pergamon Press, 1962), p. 7.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Aristotle, Meteorologica, trans. H.D.P. Lee (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1952) pp. 6–9, 27.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    William Napier Shaw, Manual of Meteorology (Cambridge: The University Press, 1926), 1: 76.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Alexander Buchan, Handy Book of Meteorology (London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1868), p. 2; D’Arcy Thompson, “The Greek Winds,” Classical Review 32 (1918): 53.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    This is the theory of Anaxagoras, as Aristotle later informs us.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Note that in Hellenic times the earth was considered the center of the Universe, and the other heavenly bodies moved around the earth.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Aristotle, Meteorologica, p. 225.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Harvey A. Zinszer, “Meteorological Mileposts,” Scientific Monthly 58 (1944): 261–264.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Gustav Hellmann, “The Dawn of Meteorology,” Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 34 (1908): 228.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© American Meteorological Society 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Howard Frisinger
    • 1
  1. 1.Colorado State UniversityUSA

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