In 1864 the biologist George Lewes wrote (p. viii) ‘Numerous and exhaustive as are the works devoted to Aristotle’s moral and metaphysical writings, there is not one which attempts to display, with any fullness, his scientific researches . . . Although Aristotle mainly represents the science of twenty centuries, his scientific writings are almost unknown in England. Casual citations, mostly at second hand, and vague eulogies, often betraying great misconception, are abundant; but rare indeed is the indication of any accurate appreciation extending beyond two works, the De Anima, and the History of Animals. The absence of translations is at once a cause and a sign of this neglect.’
Things have improved, a bit, in the intervening 135 years. Cohen and Drabkin brought together a large and diverse selection of English translations of ancient scientific works in 1948. Every year for the last 25 years, on average, there has been a new edition or notification of the discovery of a new scientific text. Galen has been the focus of a recent scholarly project whose proportions reflect his corpus. Nevertheless, despite the 9,000 printed pages of that vast corpus already published, there are still unedited and untranslated treatises surviving in full in Arabic, and two-thirds of the corpus still awaits an English translation. The state of editions and translations of ancient scientific works as a whole remains scandalous by comparison with the torrent of modern works on anything unscientific – about 100 papers per year on Homer, for example. And an embarrassingly large number of classicists are as (if not more) ignorant of Greek scientific works as their predecessors were in 1864.