Person: Heraclides Of Pontus
Heraclides is a Greek astronomer who proposed that the earth rotates on its axis once a day and who may have believed that the sun was the centre of the solar system.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- We do have some details of Heraclides' life.
- Heraclides attended the Academy in Athens and was left in charge of it during Plato's third visit to Sicily in 360 BC.
- It was a close battle between Xenocrates, Menedemus of Pyrrha and Heraclides Ponticus but Xenocrates triumphed by just a few votes.
- At this point Heraclides left the Athens and returned to Heraclea Pontica.
- Stories told of his death are not really believable yet they must at least point to the type of person that Heraclides was.
- It is said that Heraclea Pontica suffered a famine and Heraclides bribed the messengers sent to the Delphic oracle to say that the city would be saved if Heraclides was given a gold crown and made a hero after his death.
- The story relates that Heraclides died while being presented with the golden crown.
- Perhaps Heraclides had the last laugh here for indeed he did become a hero after is death based on a false interpretation of his writing.
- T H Martin, in 1849, pointed out the significance of the passage saying that Venus is sometimes above, sometimes below the sun clearly means that Heraclides believed that it was in orbit round the sun.
- Schiaparelli accepted Martin's argument and went further to claim that Heraclides must have proposed the theory that the sun revolves round the earth, but the planets revolve round the sun.
- Heraclides does, however, still have a claim to fame for an astronomical hypothesis.
- We do know a little more concerning Heraclides.
- Apart from his writings on astronomy, Heraclides wrote on many of the usual topics that a leading philosopher of his day would have written on.
Born 387 BC, Heraclea Pontica (now Eregli, Turkey). Died 312 BC, Heraclea Pontica.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Ancient Greek, Astronomy, Origin Turkey
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive