A History of Science
Tome I
Tome II
Tome III Tome IV

Book 1, chapter VII
Greek science in the early attic period
We have travelled rather far in our study of Greek science, and yet we have not until now come to Greece itself. And even now, the men whose names we are to consider were, for the most part, born in outlying portions of the empire; they differed from the others we have considered only in the fact that they were drawn presently to the capital. The change is due to a most interesting sequence of historical events. In the day when Thales and his immediate successors taught in Miletus, when the great men of the Italic school were in their prime, there was no single undisputed Centre of Greek influence. The Greeks were a disorganized company of petty nations, welded together chiefly by unity of speech; but now, early in the fifth century B.C., occurred that famous attack upon the Western world by the Persians under Darius and his son and successor Xerxes. A few months of battling determined the fate of the Western world. The Orientals were hurled back; the glorious memories of Marathon, Salamis, and Plataea stimulated the patriotism and enthusiasm of all children of the Greek race. The Greeks, for the first time, occupied the centre of the historical stage; for the brief interval of about half a century the different Grecian principalities lived together in relative harmony. One city was recognized as the metropolis of the loosely bound empire; one city became the home of culture and the Mecca towards which all eyes turned; that city, of course, was Athens. For a brief time all roads led to Athens, as, at a later date, they all led to Rome. The waterways which alone bound the widely scattered parts of Hellas into a united whole led out from Athens and back to Athens, as the spokes of a wheel to its hub. Athens was the commercial centre, and, largely for that reason, it became the centre of culture and intellectual influence also. The wise men from the colonies visited the metropolis, and the wise Athenians went out to the colonies. Whoever aspired to become a leader in politics, in art, in literature, or in philosophy, made his way to the capital, and so, with almost bewildering suddenness, there blossomed the civilization of the age of Pericles; the civilization which produced aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Herodotus, and Thucydides; the civilization which made possible the building of the Parthenon.




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© Serge Jodra, 2006. - Reproduction interdite.