Astronomy During the Roman Imperial Period and Late Antiquity

  • Otto Neugebauer
Part of the Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences book series (HISTORY, volume 1)


The period between Hipparchus and Ptolemy probably saw a great deal of astronomical activity, directed at the computation of lunar and planetary positions. The period of ingenious mathematical models of the Eudoxan type and of “pythagorean” speculations definitely came to a close while the enormous spread of astrological practices created an ever increasing need for numerical tables. Even today the scattered fragments of papyri clearly reflect this process (cf. for horoscopes Fig. 1 and for tables the chronological list below). On the other hand Ptolemy does not quote a single observation from the two centuries between Hipparchus and Menelaus (cf. V B 1 Fig. 16, p. 1375). It seems as if no serious theoretical progress was made during this period, except, of course, the creation of spherical trigonometry by Menelaus and, to a lesser degree, the mathematical geography of Marinus.1 Two other names on our list, Vitruvius and Heron, can be associated with competent theoretical discussions on spherical astronomy 2 but this hardly reflects progressive work of their own.


Outer Planet Lunar Eclipse Solar Longitude Greek Text Lunar Theory 
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For the text of the “Geography”:

  1. Book I: German translation: MžikGoogle Scholar
  2. Book II 1, 1 to 9: German translation: MžikGoogle Scholar
  3. Book II 7 to III 1: Greek text: CuntzGoogle Scholar
  4. Book IV and V: Greek text and Latin translation: MüllerGoogle Scholar
  5. Book VII 1 to 4, 13: Greek text and French translation: RenouGoogle Scholar
  6. Book VII, 6 and 7: English translation: Neugebauer [1959, 1]Google Scholar
  7. For all the rest: Greek text: Nobbe; English translation: StevensonGoogle Scholar
  8. Facsimile of the Greek text of Cod. Urb. gr. 82 and maps: FischerGoogle Scholar

Main articles in Pauly-Wissowa:

  1. Erdmessung (Kubitschek): Supp. 6, col. 31–54Google Scholar
  2. Geographie (Gisinger): Suppl. 4, col. 521–685Google Scholar
  3. Karten (Kubitschek): 10, col. 2022–2149Google Scholar
  4. Klima (Kubitschek): 11, col. 838–843Google Scholar
  5. Marinos (Honigmann): 14, col. 1767–1796224 Google Scholar
  6. Ptolemaios (Polaschek): Suppl. 10, col. 680–833Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Otto Neugebauer
    • 1
  1. 1.Brown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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