‘Look Upon Our Discoveries Ye Moderns and Despair.’
I am sure once he realised what I am seeking to do with this new series of articles, Shelley would forgive the above misappropriation of one of his most famous lines of poetry from one of his finest poems, Ozymandias. The poem is also a personal favourite. The poem itself in fact offers something of a meta-blueprint for these articles. In the poem, an inscription from the ruins an ancient ruler, Ozymandias are recited to the author, who seems to be exploring, by a ‘traveller from an ancient land’. The inscription invites the author to step into that ancient world, see its marvels, and imagine its original, and perhaps forgotten, splendour.
In a sense, though I am no traveller from an ancient land, but rather a humble Classicist, offering to you some of her knowledge and passion, I, nevertheless, invite you in this short series to delve into the not always recognised world of ancient discoveries and advancement and, perhaps not exactly to despair, but at least to feel a little awed by their achievement and sobered when realising the debt we owe these masterly thinkers.
Progression will not be entirely chronological. We shall start in ancient Greece today, roll back in time and forward, and venture through a vast amount of space.