Simplicius was a Greek mathematician who wrote commetaries on the works of other philosophers and mathematicians including Euclid and Aristotle.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Ammonius's main work throughout his life was writing critical works on Aristotle and this clearly influenced Simplicius who was himself to write extensive commentaries on Aristotle.
- After studying under Ammonius in Alexandria, Simplicius went to Athens where he studied with the Neoplatonist philosopher Damascius.
- Again Simplicius was exposed to similar views to those he had learnt in Alexandria and his philosophy was built up in a consistent way.
- It was therefore natural that Damascius, Simplicius and five other members of the Academy, when forced out of Athens, went to Persia to serve at the court of the Persian king Khosrow I.
- Khosrow was a great patron of culture and Simplicius was well received by the ruler.
- However, Khosrow and Justinian signed the Treaty of Eternal Peace which was ratified in 532 which led to Simplicius being able to return to Athens.
- It is not entirely clear what the terms of the treaty were in regard to Simplicius and the other philosophers who had gone to Persia.
- There is some evidence that Simplicius did remain in Athens for the rest of his days, writing and undertaking research but certainly not being allowed to lecture.
- Of the writings of Simplicius that have survived, it is thought that the earliest is his commentary on Epictetus's Enchiridion which some historians believe was written by Simplicius while he was still in Alexandria.
- This is followed by Simplicius's commentary on Aristotle's Physics and both these works are particularly important for the history of mathematics.
- In the commentary on De Caelo Simplicius gives a detailed account of the concentric spheres of Eudoxus and he also relates the modifications to the theory made later by Callippus.
- Simplicius is quoting from Eudemus's History of Astronomy in giving these details, but he does not quote directly from that work, rather quoting from Sosigenes (who wrote in the second century AD) who in turn quotes from Eudemus.
- In his commentary on Aristotle's Physics Simplicius quotes at length from Eudemus's History of Geometry which is now lost.
- In particular Simplicius quotes the writing on Eudemus on Antiphon's attempts to square the circle and also the attempts of Hippocrates when he squared certain lunes.
- Also in this commentary on Aristotle's Physics Simplicius gives important quotations from Geminus's summary of Posidonius's Meteorologica.
- Simplicius wrote a commentary on Euclid's Elements which survives in an Arabic translation.
- On the other hand, the work of the commentator is far from being a neutral undertaking or a question of mere erudition; it is chiefly an opportunity to become more familiar with the text under consideration and to elucidate some intricate passages; hence Simplicius's constant concern to obtain reliable documents and to check the historical value of this information...
Born about 490, Cilicia, Anatolia (now Turkey). Died about 560, probably Athens, Greece.
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