A new exhibition exploring science in ancient Greek society opens at London’s Science museum on Wednesday, November 17.
The exhibition, titled “Ancient Greeks: Science and Wisdom,” combines ancient artifacts and objects to explore the role science played in ancient Greek civilization. The comprehensive exhibition seeks to shed light on the complex nature the concept of science had in Greek philosophy, pairing it with the era’s notions of “wisdom” and rationality.
The museum’s programming for the exhibition will also include events centered on British and Greek cultural exchange in honor of the Bicentennial of Greece’s independence.
Greek PM praises London Science Museum’s exhibition
The opening marks an interesting moment for Greece and Britain’s cultural relationship, as the issue of who has rightful ownership of the Parthenon Marbles has become a central concern for Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Mitsotakis welcomed the Science Museum’s exhibition, however, saying that:
“‘Ancient Greeks: Science and Wisdom’ offers a unique window on the wisdom that shaped the science of Ancient Greece, and a fresh insight into some of the innovation that is today driving greater understanding of that past. It is also a remarkable collaboration not just between Greece and the United Kingdom, but between the Science Museum and a number of Europe’s most prominent museums and academic institutions.”
The Science Museum plans to bridge its curatorial premise with an array of ancient Greek objects that deepen the viewers understanding of science and wisdom from the past:
“This jewel-like exhibition will bring ideas to life with historic treasures and take visitors on a journey from the mysterious depths of the sea to the wonderous night sky. Visitors can sail the perilous seas with the statue of Hermes, protector of travellers and merchants, that was discovered on a shipwreck off the island of Antikythera.
“They can revel in the buzz of ancient Greek life with the lost music of the aulos instrument through interactive displays and an exclusive video that reimagines its ancient sounds. They can even gaze at the starry cosmos through ancient Greek eyes with a beautiful and rare silver globe depicting the known constellations and a Byzantine sundial-calendar – the second oldest known geared mechanism in the world.”
The wisdom and quotes of ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle
Aristotle, who was the foremost philosopher of science in ancient Greece, was famous for his observations of the natural world and categorizing the life forms around him.
The brilliant Greek philosopher of the 4th century BC is known for his belief that humans are responsible for creating their own virtues and that we develop them as we interact with other humans. We therefore form habits, and this is what makes it hard for humans to change our ways – we are creatures of habit.
However, this does not consign us to lives that are predetermined by rote — we can create positive and virtuous habits just as easily as negative ones, he believed.
“Neither by nature, then, nor contrary to nature do the virtues arise in us; rather we are adapted by nature to receive them, and are made perfect by habit.”
Aristotle also said “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
In a much more romantic vein, the great philosopher and student of Plato also had this hauntingly lovely insight, which doubtless remains as true today as ever: “Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”