Illustrations were extremely rare in ancient literary texts. They were only occasionally used in medical texts (Apollonius of Citium, Dioscorides, perhaps Soranus; lost works by Aristotle). Illustrations, or diagrams, were mandatory in the exact sciences—the unique genre of illustrated text in antiquity. Such diagrams were formed by a network of straight and curved lines (certainly drawn with ruler and perhaps by compass as well; the few extant arcs on papyri are drawn freehand). In the extant literature, diagrams are always labelled by letters of the alphabet, standing typically at the intersection-points of the lines. The diagrams are crucial to the logical development of the text and encode some of the information the text takes for granted, in a non-verbal way. At the same time, diagrams are drawn schematically so that the apparent metrical relations of the diagram are not meant to represent the metrical relations of the object studied. Thus, diagrams encode topological rather than metrical properties. The major editions of the late 19th and early 20th cents. ignored the manuscript evidence for diagrams, but now it is considered essential to produce a critical edition of the diagrams as part of the edition of a text in the Greek exact sciences.Less
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