Heraclides Ponticus

:"Heraclides" redirects here. The former butterfly genus of the same name is now included in "Papilio."

Heraclides Ponticus (Greek: polytonic|Ἡρακλείδης ὁ Ποντικός) (387 BC-312 BC), also known as Herakleides, was a Greek philosopher who lived and died at Heraclea Pontica, now Karadeniz Ereğli, Turkey.

He is frequently hailed as the originator of the heliocentric theory, although this is doubted.

Heraclides' father was Euthyphron, a wealthy nobleman who sent him to study at the Platonic Academy in Athens under its founder Plato and under his successor Speusippus, though he also studied with Aristotle. According to the "Suda", Plato, on his departure for Sicily in 360 BC, left his pupils in the charge of Heraclides. Speusippus, before his death in 339 BC, had chosen Xenocrates as his successor was put to a vote, where Xenocrates narrowly triumphed over Heraclides and Menedemus of Pyrrha by five votes.

A punning on his name, dubbing him Heraclides "Pompicus," suggests he may have been a rather vain and pompous man and the target of much ridicule. However, Heraclides seems to have been a versatile and prolific writer on philosophy, mathematics, music, grammar, physics, history and rhetoric, notwithstanding doubts about attribution of many of the works. It appears that he composed various works in dialogue form. The main source of this biographical welter is the collection by Diogenes Laërtius.

Like the Pythagoreans Hicetas and Ecphantus, Heraclides proposed that the apparent daily motion of the stars was created by the rotation of the Earth on its axis once a day. According to a late tradition, he also believed that Venus and Mercury revolve around the Sun. This would mean that he anticipated the Tychonic system, an essentially geocentric model with heliocentric aspects.

The credibility of Heraclides' statements were strengthened after the discovery of long iron spits in 1894, during the excavation of the Heraion of Argos. Waldston recognized that the long spits were mentioned by various literary sources as having been used as money. The fact that spit-money has been dedicated at the Heraion after its replacement by silver coins, is mentioned in a quotation from Herakleides of Pontos in "Orion, s.v. ojbolov". [http://www.metrum.org/money/heraion.htm]

Another quote of Heraclides, of particular significance to historians, is his statement that fourth century Rome was a Greek city (fr. 106 Wehrli).

References

*O. Neugebauer, (1969) "The Exact Sciences in Antiquity" ISBN 0-486-22332-9
*O. Neugebauer (1975) "A History of Ancient Mathematical Astronomy"
*O. Voss (1896) "De Heraclidis Pontici vita et scriptis"
*Diogenes Laërtius trans. C.D. Yonge (1853) "Lives of Eminent Philosophers"
*Bruce Eastwood, "Heraclides and Heliocentrism: Texts, Diagrams, and Interpretations." "Journal for the History of Astronomy" 23 (1992): 233-60.
*Wehrli, F. (1969) "Herakleides Pontikos. Die Schule des Aristoteles" vol. 7, 2nd edn. Basel.

External links

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