LLR Books

Ancient Greeks and Their Weather Knowledge



by Ioanna Zikakou -

Ancient Greeks, as well as other civilizations of that time, often attributed weather changes and natural phenomena to the gods. For example, lightning was a way for Zeus to show his anger, just as Thor in ancient Nordic mythology.
Ancient Greek mythology is an example of how early civilizations tried to explain the unexplainable at the time forces of nature, weather and astronomy. Many ancient Greek gods and goddesses were elements of weather and seasons personified.
Ancient Greeks also believed in Poseidon, god of sea and earthquakes, Helios, god of sun, Selene, goddess of moon, Hephaestus, god of volcanoes, Chione, goddess of snow, Zeus, king of all gods and god of sky, thunder, lightning and rain. All occurrences of favorable or poor weather were thought to be a direct result of godly intervention.
However, thanks to their continuous observation of nature, ancient Greeks had a great understanding of weather and climate in general. It may not have been as advanced as modern science but their basic knowledge helped them to better understand weather changes and find ways to benefit from them.
The word “climate” stems from the Greek word “klima” meaning inclination and referring to the climate conditions created by the Sun’s angle. Moreover, ancient Greeks invented the term “meteorology,” the study of atmospheric disturbances. Aristotle is considered the founder of meteorology. He tried to explain the weather through the interaction of the four elements: earth, fire, air, and water. Aristotle’s student Theophrastus produced the first book on weather signs, listing observations used to forecast weather, many of which are still used to this day.
In ancient Greece people used their knowledge to their advantage, focusing on the air’s movement, commonly known as wind, as well as the significance of the Sun and Moon positions in the sky in order to forecast phenomena such as tides and improve everyday tasks involving agriculture or sailing.


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