On the Face in the Moon

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Plutarch: On the Face in the Moon (ca. 100 AD)

(glossary entry)


Although surviving probably only in an incomplete form, this ancient text by the famous Greek-born Roman historian is one of the oldest documents collecting naked eye observations of the appearance of the Moon and explaining how they were interpreted.

Additional Information

  • Scholars regard the book, whose Greek title is generally translated into English as On the Face Which Appears in the Orb of the Moon, as Item 63 in Book 12 of the collection of Plutarch's miscellaneous works known as the Moralia.
  • Plutarch's lunar essay was quite influential on Kepler, who, from his student days, had a special interest in the nature of the Moon and eventually prepared a translation of it (from the original Greek to Latin), including notes on the sections he felt were missing.
  • An English language translation, in four parts, is available on LacusCurtius.
  • An older English language translation is available courtesy of the Online Library of Liberty.
  • The crater Plutarch is named after the author.

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