The Epic History of Biology

By Anthony Serafini | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
Rome

Rome was never the equal of Greece either in science, philosophy, or mathematics. Indeed, most of the thoughts, speculations, and even myths that we associate with Rome really originated with the Greeks. Still, there were some Roman thinkers worthy of mention. A biologist of moderate caliber named Columella lived during the reign of Marcus Aurelius in the second century A.D., although even he, esteemed though he was, clung to a belief in the existence of supernatural spirits as critical elements in the sober study of medicine. He was born in Spain in the dawning days of the Christian era, though he spent most of his professional career in Rome. Columella was something of an anomaly in ancient biological science in that he was one of the few who devoted considerable time to agriculture, writing a twelve-book study of the subject. Considering the economic makeup of Rome, however, his work. on agriculture was eminently understandable. Since the opening decades of the Etruscan civilization, Rome had been primarily an agrarian society. There was negligible overseas trade and little manufacture. Indeed, it was in part because

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