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By Lois N. Magner

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Transforming what had been a very terrifying and mysterious phenomenon into a natural, predictable event. Probably the most popular story associated with Thales demonstrates how astronomy and meteorology can be put to practical use. Through his study of the heavenly bodies, the philosopher predicted an unusually good olive crop. Before the harvest season, he rented all the olive presses in Miletus very cheaply and was then able to make a great profit when the demand for Page 12 the presses was greatest.

C. Fragments of the history of this era have survived in the great epic poems known as the Iliad and the Odyssey, traditionally attributed to the ninth-century poet known as Homer. Ancient concepts of life and death, the relationship between the gods and human beings, and the structure and vital functions of the parts of the body are encoded in these myths and legends. ). The Greek city-state was quite different from the cen- Page 10 tralized forms of organization that had developed in previous civilizations.

Greek natural philosophers were involved in establishing a secular tradition of enquiry into the natural world and the search for explanations of how and why the world and human beings came to be formed and organized as they were. Such questions are very old, but the Greek philosophers took them out of the realm of religious and mythical explanations into the domains now occupied by science and philosophy. In place of gods and magic, these philosophers attempted to explain the workings of the universe in terms of everyday experience and by analogies with craft processes.

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