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Biographies (19)



Aratus (Aratos), of Cnidus, the author of a history of Egypt. (Anonym. Vit. Arat.)


Aretades, of Cnidus, of uncertain date, wrote a work on Macedonian affairs (Makedonika) in three books at least, and another on the history of islands (nesiotika) in two books at least. (Plut. Parall. 11, 27.) It is uncertain whether the Aretades referred to by Porphyry (ap. Euseb. Praep. Ev. x. 3), as the author of a work Peri sunemptoseos, is the same as the above or not.

Ctesias, 5th cent. Physician

Ctesias (Ktesias). A Greek historian, born in Cnidus in Caria, and a contemporary of Xenophon. He belonged to the family of the Asclepiadae at Cnidus. In B.C. 416, he went to the Persian court, and became private physician to King Artaxerxes Mnemon. In this capacity he accompanied the king on his expedition against his brother Cyrus, and cured him of the wound which he received in the battle of Cunaxa, B.C. 401. In 399, he returned to his native city, and worked up the valuable material which he had collected during his residence in Persia, partly from his own observation and partly from his study of the royal archives, into a History of Persia (Persika), in twenty-three books. The work was written in the Ionic dialect. The first six books treated the history of Assyria, the remaining ones that of Persia from the earliest times to events within his own experience. Ctesias's work was much used by the ancient historians, though he was censured as untrustworthy and indifferent to truth--a charge which may be due to the fact that he followed Persian authorities, and thus often differed, to the disadvantage of the Greeks, from the version of facts current among his conntrymen. Only fragments and extracts of the book survive, and part of an abridgment in Photius (Cod. 72). The same is true of his Indika, or notices of the researches which he had made in Persia on the geography and productions of India.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Ctesias. Greek physician who stayed at the court of the Persian king Artaxerxes II Mnemon from 404 to 398/397. Ctesias wrote several books about Persia and India. These books are now lost but were quoted by ancient authors; consequently, we are able to judge their value as history (low) and as works of art (entertaining).
The Suda, a tenth century Byzantine dictionary that contains much information about ancient authors, writes about Ctesias:
He was the son of Ctesiarchus or Ctesiochus, from Cnidus. As a physician, he cared -in Persia- for Artaxerxes Mnemon, who had ordered him to come. He composed a History of the Persians in twenty-four books.
  All sources agree that Ctesias was born in the Carian town Cnidus, a town in the extreme southwest of modern Turkey. In Antiquity, Cnidus was well-known for its doctors, which were called Asclepiads. It is likely that Ctesias was indeed a physician: he quotes other doctors and delights in the description of wounds.
  It is certain that Ctesias came to Persia as a prisoner of war, but it is unclear when he was taken captive. Some ancient and modern scholars have assumed that he took part in the campaign of prince Cyrus the Younger against his brother, king Artaxerxes II Mnemon (404-359), in 401 BCE. There is something to be said for this solution of the problem. There were many Greek mercenaries in Cyrus' company, and although they defeated Artaxerxes' army at Cunaxa near Babylon, many were taken captive when Cyrus died. It is certain that Ctesias was present at Cunaxa, but when we read his narrative of the battle, it is clear that Ctesias was already Artexerxes' court physician.
  Another argument against the theory that Ctesias was taken prisoner at Cunaxa, is that it forces us to assume that Ctesias stayed only six or seven years at the Persian court. His History of the Persians breaks off in 398/397, and Ctesias claims that he had by then served as court physician for seventeen years. When we accept that Ctesias came to Artaxerxes' court during teh Cunaxa campaign, we must read 'seven' instead of 'seventeen'; this is not impossible -exaggeration is one Ctesias' favorite games- but it is poor method.
  Fortunately, there is an alternative. In 420, Pissuthnes, the satrap of Lydia revolted against king Darius II Nothus (423-404). The Persian commander Tissaphernes was able to incite a rebellion under Pissuthnes' Greek mercenaries and Pissuthnes was executed. (Ctesias described this rebellion in book eighteen of the History of the Persians.) In 414, Pissuthnes' son Amorges rebelled; he was supported by the Carians and the Athenians. It is plausible that Tissaphernes took Ctesias of Cnidus captive when Amorges' rebellion was suppressed. (If Ctesias was captured in 414, we may assume that he was born between 444 and 434.)
  Ctesias was a respected physician, but it is uncertain whether he served at Persepolis immediately after his capture. The fragments we possess do not show intimate knowledge of the royal court of Darius II; he may have stayed at Tissaphernes' court. On the other hand, the discovery of one scrap of papyrus containing a hitherto unknown chapter of Ctesias' History of the Persians, can change our view. In any case, it was certainly not uncommon for Greek doctors to become court physician in Persia. The Greek researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus (c.480-c.429) tells us the story of a prisoner of war named Democedes of Croton, who cured king Darius the Great.
  In 412, Ctesias' hometown Cnidus left the Athenian, anti-Persian alliance. This was an important event, because it offered the Persians a new naval base in the Aegean sea. It is likely that this incident played a role in Ctesias' life, but we do not know how. When we assume that he was already present at the Persian court, the royal physician may have played a role in the negotiations which led to the defection of Cnidus. When we assume that he served in a lower position, the Cnidian rebellion enabled him to move upward in the Persian hierarchy.
  What is certain, is that Ctesias was already Artaxerxes' personal physician when the latter became king in the spring of 404. As we have already seen above, Artaxerxes' brother Cyrus the Younger marched to Babylonia with an army of Greek mercenaries; Cyrus' men defeated Artaxerxes' army at Cunaxa, but their master was killed in action (autumn 401). It is certain that Ctesias was present at Cunaxa and cured his king's wounds. Later, he played a role in the negotiations between the Greek mercenaries and the Persians.
  As we have already seen, Athens had been the leader of an anti-Persian alliance. In 431, war had broken out between Athens and a coalition of Greek towns led by Sparta. After the revolt of Amorges, which Athens had supported, the Persians had started to pay the Spartans, who built a navy and were able to defeat Athens in 405. The Persians were unpleasantly surprised when the Spartans turned against their ally: they supported Cyrus the Younger in 401 and their general Thibron invaded Asia in 400. Ctesias was to play a crucial role in the Persian counter-offensive.
  The satrap of Persia's territories in northwest Turkey, Pharnabazus, had suffered from Spartan aggression and understood that it was important to check Spartan power. Euagoras, the king of Salamis on Cyprus, had his own reasons to fear the Spartan navy. Consequently, he wanted to build a strong fleet to attack Sparta at home; he had already found an Athenian admiral, Conon. What was lacking, was money, which could be obtained in Persia. Ctesias conducted the negotiations in 398/397; Artaxerxes ordered money to be sent and a fleet to be built. In August 394, the Spartans were decisively defeated off Cnidus.
  By then, Ctesias had returned to his home town; he may have witnessed Conon's victory. It is likely that he started to write his History of the Persians after his return. Other works were the History of India (to which On the Asian tributes probably was an appendix), and a medical treatise. Three other books were called Periodos, 'description of the earth'. The existence of two books On mountains and a publication On rivers is disputed.
  It is unknown when Ctesias died, but we can make an educated guess. We already saw that he was probably captured in 414 (above) and from this, we deduced a year of birth between 444 and 434. In Antiquity, someone who reached the age of forty (more or less Ctesias' age in 398), had a fair chance to reach the age of seventy as well; this results in a year of death between 374 and 364.
History of the Persians
  Ctesias' History of the Persians is a strange work. The author claims that he will correct many of the untrue ideas of the Greeks and blames the Greek researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus (c.480-c.429) for telling many lies. Because Ctesias spent seventeen years in Persia, was court physician and served as diplomat, we might expect him to be a position to keep his promises and to write a truly reliable history of the Achaemenid empire. However, this is not what Ctesias has done. Few ancient authors are so unreliable as Ctesias.
  However, in Antiquity, it was considered an important study. The Athenian orator Isocrates and the philosopher Plato knew Ctesias' work and the Macedonian philosopher Aristotle had read his description of the legendary Assyrian king Sardanapalus. Only when the Christian historian Orosius (fifth century) wrote his Seven books of history against the pagans, there was an alternative history of the ancient Near East, and was Ctesias forgotten. We know the History of the Persians from an ancient reworking (by Diodorus of Sicily) and a Byzantine excerpt (by the ninth-century patriarch of Constantinople, Photius).
  The History of the Persians starts with three books of Assyrian history. They follow Herodotus' conception of Near-Eastern history: no distinction is made between the Assyrian and Babylonian history. Almost all the subject matter of these books is legendary. Then, we read three books about the history of the Medes. Again, Ctesias is inspired by Herodotus, who also believed that there had been a long period in which the Medes ruled a vast Asian empire. What Ctesias has to tell about the Median monarchy, is entirely fictional.
  Books seven, eight and nine deal with the beginning of the reign of the Persian king Cyrus the Great (559-530 BCE). From what we know of Ctesias' work, he did not describe Cyrus' greatest deed: the capture of Babylon. This is unlikely to be a result of the poor transmission of Ctesias' work: Photius' excerpt may be somewhat unbalanced, but it does not omit important events. The next three books describe Cyrus' wars against the Indians, and his death in battle. Here Ctesias is following a tradition that was unknown to Herodotus: in the first book of his Histories, he writes that Cyrus died during a war against the Massagetes. Taken together, the five books on Cyrus are a kind of vie romancee, comparable to the Education of Cyrus by Ctesias' contemporary Xenophon (c.430-c.355). Probably, Xenophon copied Ctesias, not the other way round.
  Both historians agree that Cyrus was succeeded by Cambyses, to whose reign (530-522) Ctesias devotes the twelfth book. For once, Ctesias seems to offer reliable information: he writes that Cambyses conquered Egypt because the Egyptians were betrayed. This is correct, but it is probably a lucky incident: Ctesias does not even know the name of the traitor or his monarch.
  Book thirteen, fourteen and fifteen are dedicated to the coup of the Magian in 522, to the counter-coup of Darius the Great, to his reign (522-486) and to the reign of his son Xerxes (486-465). Although Ctesias adds some details and has changed the names of the actors, his story is essentially that of Herodotus. This can clearly be seen at the end: he knows the details of the first seven of eight years of Xerxes' reign -which he could have found in Herodotus- and then jumps to Xerxes' death. Another remarkable aspect is that Ctesias knows the name of important eunuchs. It is possible that Ctesias, himself a courtier, based his History of the Persians on what he heard from courtiers, who were especially interested in court history.
  The next three books are dedicated to the reigns of Artaxerxes I and Darius II (464-424 and 423-405). It included the stories of the revolt of a general named Megabyzus and the brief interregnum of Xerxes II and Sogdianus, for which Ctesias is our only source.
  The first years of king Artaxerxes II is the subject of the next three books. The story focuses on the attempt of Artaxerxes' brother Cyrus the Younger to seize the Persian throne, which culminated in the battle at Cunaxa (autumn 401). This part of Ctesias' work is relatively well-known, because it is quoted at great length by the Greek author Plutarch of Chaeronea, who wrote a biography of Artaxerxes.
  The last book tells how Artaxerxes sent Ctesias to the west, where he had to conduct negotiations. The History of the Persians breaks off in 398/397, the year in which Ctesias returned to Cnidus.
  It is a strange book. Ctesias makes strange mistakes (for example, he thinks that Nineveh is situated on the boards of the Euphrates). Unfortunately, he is one of our most important sources for the Achaemenid empire between Xerxes' expedition to Greece (480-479) and the revenge of the Greeks and the Macedonian king Alexander the Great (336-323).
History of India
  To understand Ctesias' History of India, we must know what he meant with the word 'history'. This is not history in our sense, but simply means 'research'. What Ctesias offers is therefore not a story about the past, but the result of an inquiry. In Persia, he heard stories from officials who had visited the country along the river Indus (modern Pakistan); these officials, Ctesias must have interviewed. Therefore: history.
  As far as we can deduce from Photius' summary, there is no system in Ctesias' book: everything is put together.It is therefore easy to understand the judgment of the ancient literary critic Dionysus of Halicarnassus, who states that the works of Ctesias were 'entertaining but badly composed' (On composition 10).
  India is pictured as if it is 'the big other': everything is different from Greece, it is a country without past (therefore: no history in our sense) and without individuals (at least not in Photius' epitome). Ctesias' India is just a foreign culture, with the stress on foreign. His information is, not surprisingly, highly unreliable: when he had heard a strange story, he wrote it down. India is a fairy tale country, situated on the edges of the earth.
  And yet, sometimes it is possible to see beyond Ctesias' strange stories. Then we can discover to what Indian realities the Greek physician is referring. Take, for example, the people and wild animals of India - fairy tale beings who were to become popular in ancient and medieval bestiaries. People with big feet on a medieval miniature
•Cynoscephalae: a mountain tribe of people with dog's heads. This is probably a translation of the Indian word svapaka, 'people who live and eat with the dogs', an indication of people belonging to a very low caste.
•Ctesias mentions people with one big foot: this has to be a misunderstanding of the practice of certain holy men (sadhu) to stand in unusual poses for a long time, usually on one foot.
•The righteous Pygmees ('fist-men'), who are 90 centimeters high, have large genitals and very long beards, which they use as coat: probably a misunderstanding of the sadhu's.
•The Martichora, a kind of tiger with a human face and three rows of teeth. This is a common Persian word; in modern Persian, the tiger is called mardomxor.
  But these are exceptions. Ctesias' History of India remains a puzzling text that does indirectly refer to ancient India, but in ways we can not comprehend. In Antiquity, it was not very popular: after Alexander the Great had visited the Indus valley, eyewitness accounts became accessible, which superseded Ctesias' work.
  The fragments of Ctesias were collected by the great German classicist Felix Jacoby, in his famous Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker, in which Ctesias is Greek historian number 688 (vol. IIIc; 1958). To the best of my knowledge, the only recent translation of the fragments of Ctesias is: Ctesias. Histoires de l' Orient, 1991 Paris. It is translated and annotated by Janick Auberger; the brief but fine introduction is by Charles Malamoud. This edition has been used throughout this article.

Jona Lendering, ed.
This text is cited July 2003 from the Livius Ancient History Website URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks.

Ctesias (Ktesias), οf Cnidus in Caria, and a son of Ctesiochus or Ctesiarchus (Suid. s. v. Ktesias; Eudocia; Tzetz. Chil. i. 82). Cnidus was celebrated from early times as a seat of medical knowledge, and Ctesias, who himself belonged to the family of the Asclepiadae, was a physician by profession. He was a contemporary of Xenophon; and if Herodotus lived till B. C. 425, or, according to some, even till B. C. 408, Ctesias may be called a contemporary of Herodotus. He lived for a number of years in Persia at the court of king Artaxerxes Mnemon, as private physician to the king (Strab. xiv.). Diodorus (ii. 32) states, that Ctesias was made prisoner by the king, and that owing to his great skill in medicine, he was afterwards drawn to the court, and was highly honoured there. This statement, which contains nothing to suggest the time when Ctesias was made prisoner, has been referred by some critics to the war between Artaxerxes and his brother, Cyrus the Younger, B. C. 401. But, in the first place, Ctesias is already mentioned, during that war, as accompanying the king (Xen. Anab. i. 8.27). Moreover, if as Diodorus and Tzetzes state, Ctesias remained seventeen years at the court of Persia, and returned to his native country in B. C. 398 (Diod. xiv. 46; comp. Plut. Artax. 21), it follows, that he must have gone to Persia long before the battle of Cunaxa, that is about B. C. 415. The statement, that Ctesias entered Persia as a prisoner of war, has been doubted; and if we consider the favour with which other Greek physicians, such as Democedes and Hippocrates were treated and how they were sought for at the court of Persia, it is not improbable that Ctesias may have been invited to the court; but the express statement of Diodorus, that he was made a prisoner cannot be upset by such a mere probability. There are two accounts respecting his return to Cnidus. It took place at the time when Conon was in Cyprus. Ctesias himself had simply stated, that he asked Artaxerxes and obtained front him the permission to return. According to the other account. Conon sent a letter to the king, in which he gave him advice as to the means of humbling the Lacedaemonians. Conon requested the bearer to get the letter delivered to the king by some of the Greeks who were staying at his court. When the letter was given for this purpose to Ctesias, the latter inserted a passage in which he made Conon desire the king to send Ctesias to the west, as he would be a very useful person there (Plut. Artax. 21). The latter account is not recommended by any strong internal probability, and the simple statement of Ctesias himself seems to be more entitled to credit. How long Ctesias survived his return to Cnidus is unknown.
  During his stay in Persia, Ctesias gathered all the information that was attainable in that country, and wrote:
1. A great work on the history of Persia (Persika) with the view of giving his countrymen a more accurate knowledge of that empire than they possessed, and to refute the errors current in Greece, which had arisen partly from ignorance and partly from the national vanity of the Greeks. The materials for his history, so far as he did not describe events of which he had been an eye-witness, he derived, according to the testimony of Diodorus, from the Persian archives (diphtherai Basilikai), or the official history of the Persian empire, which was written in accordance with a law of the country. This important work of Ctesias, which, like that of Herodotus, was written in the Ionic dialect, consisted of twentythree books. The first six contained the history of the great Assyrian monarchy down to the foundation of the kingdom of Persia. It is for this reason that Strabo (xiv.) speaks of Ctesias as sungrapsas ta Assuriaka kai ta Persika. The next seven books contained the history of Persia down to the end of the reign of Xerxes, and the remaining ten carried the history down to the time when Ctesias left Persia, i. e. to the year B. C. 398 (Diod. xiv. 46). The form and style of this work were of considerable merit, and its loss may be regarded as one of the most serious for the history of the East (Dionys. Hal. De Comp. Verb. 10; Demetr. Phal. De Elocut. 212, 215). All that is now extant of it is a meagre abridgment in Photius (Cod. 72), and a number of fragments which are preserved in Diodorus, Athenaeus, Plutarch, and others. Of the first portion, which contained the history of Assyria, there is no abridgment in Photius, and all we possess of that part is contained in the second book of Diodorus, which seems to be taken almost entirely from Ctesias. There we find that the accounts of Ctesias, especially in their chronology, differ considerably from those of Berosus, who likewise derived his information from eastern sources. These discrepancies can only be explained by the fact, that the annals used by the two historians were written in different places and under different circumstances. The chronicles used by Ctesias were written by official persons, and those used by Berosus were the work of priests; both therefore were written from a different point of view, and neither was perhaps strictly true in all its details. The part of [p. 899] Ctesias's work which contained the history of Persia, that is, from the sixth book to the end, is somewhat better known from the extracts which Photius made from it, and which are still extant. Here again Ctesias is frequently at variance with other Greek writers, especially with Herodotus. To account for this, we must remember, that he is expressly reported to have written his work with the intention of correcting the erroneous notions about Persia in Greece; and if this was the case, the reader must naturally be prepared to find the accounts of Ctesias differing from those of others. It is moreover not improbable, that the Persian chronicles were as partial to the Persians, if not more so, as the accounts written by Greeks were to the Greeks. These considerations sufficiently account, in our opinion, for the differences existing between the statements of Ctesias and other writers; and there appears to be no reason for charging him, as some have done, with wilfully falsifying history. It is at least certain, that there can be no positive evidence for such a serious charge. The court chronicles of Persia appear to have contained chiefly the history of the royal family, the occurrences at the court and the seraglio, the intrigues of the women and eunuchs, and the insurrections of satraps to make themselves independent of the great monarch. Suidas (s. v. Pamphila) mentions, that Pamphila made an abridgment of the work of Ctesias, probably the Persica, in three books.
2. Another work, for which Ctesias also collected his materials during his stay in Persia, was: a treatise on India (Indika) in one book, of which we likewise possess an abridgment in Photius, and a great number of fragments preserved in other writers. The description refers chiefly to the north-western part of India, and is principally confined to a description of the natural history, the produce of the soil, and the animals and men of India. In this description truth is to a great extent mixed up with fables, and it seems to be mainly owing to this work that Ctesias was looked upon in later times as an author who deserved no credit. But if his account of India is looked upon from a proper point of view, it does not in any way deserve to be treated with contempt. Ctesias himself never visited India, and his work was the first in the Greek language that was written upon that country: he could do nothing more than lay before his countrymen that which was known or believed about India among the Persians. His Indica must therefore be regarded as a picture of India, such as it was conceived by the Persians. Many things in his description which were formerly looked upon as fabulous, have been proved by the more recent discoveries in India to be founded on facts.
Ctesias also wrote several other works, of which, however, we know little more than their titles: they were:
3. Peri Oron, which consisted of at least two books (Plut. de Fluv. 21; Stob. Froril. C. 18)
4. Periplous Asias (Steph. Byz. s. v. Sigunos), which is perhaps the same as the Periegesis of which Stephanus Byzantius (s. v. Kosute) quotes the third book.
5. Peri Potamon (Plut. de Fluv. 19), and
6. Peri ton kata ten Asian phoron.
  It has been inferred from a passage in Galen, that Ctesias also wrote on medicine, but no accounts of his medical works have come down to us.
  The abridgment which Photius made of the Persica and Indica of Ctesias were printed separately by II. Stephens, Paris, 1557 and 1594, and were also added to his edition of Herodotus. After his time it became customary to print the remains of Ctesias as an appendix to Herodotus. The first separate edition of those abridgments, together with the fragments preserved in other writers, is that of A. Lion, Gottingen, 1823, with critical notes and a Latin translation. A more complete edition, with an introductory essay on the life and writings of Ctesias, is that of Buhr, Frankfort, 1824.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Aeschylus, 1st cent. B.C.

Aeschylus of Cnidus, a contemporary of Cicero, and one of the most celebrated rhetoricians in Asia Minor. (Cic. Brut. 91, 95.)


Artemidorus, of Cnidud, a son of Theopompus, and a friend of Julius Caesar (Strab. xiv.), was a rhetorician, and taught the Greek language at Rome. At the time when the plot was formed against the life of Caesar, B. C. 43, Artemidorus, who had heard of it, cautioned Caesar by a letter, and urged him to take care of himself; but the warning was not heeded. (Plut. Caes. 65; Zonaras, vol. i.)



Euryphon, (Euruphon), a celebrated physician of Cnidos in Caria, who was probably born in the former half of the fifth century B. C., as Soranus (Vita Hippocr. in Hippocr. Opera, vol. iii.) says that he was a contemporary of Hippocrates, but older. The same writer saysthat he and Hippocrates were summoned to the court of Perdiccas, the son of Alexander, king of Macedonia; but this story is considered very doubtful, if not altogether apocryphal. He is mentioned in a corrupt fragment of the comic poet Plato, preserved by Galen (Comment. in Hippocr. "Aphor." vii. 44. vol. xviii. pt. i.), in which, instead of apuos, Meineke reads apugos. He is several times quoted by Galen, who says that he was considered to be the author of the ancient medical work entitled Knidiai gnomsi (Comment. in Hippocr. " De Morb. Vulgar. VI." i. 29. vol. xvii. pt. i., where for idiais we should read Knidiais), and also that some persons attributed to him several works included in the Hippocratic Collection (Comment. in Hippocr. " De Humor." i. prooem. vol. xvi.), viz. those entitled Peri Diaites Hugieines, de Salubri Victus Ratione (Comment. in Hippocr. " De Rat. Vict. in Morb. Acut." i. 17. vol. xv.), and Peri Diaites, de Victus Ratione. (De Aliment. Facult. i. 1. vol. vi.) He may perhaps be the author of the second book Peri Nouson, De Morbis, which forms part of the Hippocratic Collection, but which is generally allowed to be spurious, as a passage in this work (vol. ii.) is quoted by Galen (Comment. in Hippocr. " De Morb. Vulgar. VI." i. 29. vol. xvii. pt. i.), and attributed to Euryphon (see Littre's Hippocr. vol. i.); and in the same manner M. Ermerins (Hippocr. de Rat. Vict. in Morb. Acut.) conjectures that he is the author of the work Peri Gunaikeies Phusios, de Natura Muliebri, as Soranus appears to allude to a passage in that treatise (vol. ii.) while quoting the opinions of Euryphon. (De Arte Obstetr.) From a passage in Caelius Aurelianus (de Morb. Chron. ii. 10) it appears, that Euryphon was aware of the difference between the arteries and the veins, and also considered that the former vessels contained blood. Of his works nothing is now extant except a few fragments, unless he be the author of the treatises in the Hippocratic Collection that have been attributed to him.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Oct 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks



Sostratus (Sostratos). The son of Dexiphanes, of Cnidus. He was one of the great architects who flourished during and after the life of Alexander the Great. He built for Ptolemy I. of Egypt the great Pharos or light-house at Alexandria, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and also erected at Cnidus a portico supporting a terrace (Pliny , Pliny H. N.xxxvi. 83).

Sostratus of Cnidus (fl. c. 300 BC). Engineer, Architect
A native of Cnidus, in Caria (Asia Minor), Sostratus was the son of Dexiphanes, the architect of the Tetra Stadium in Alexandria. He is cited by Stobaeus.
His works include:
- The Pharos of Alexandria (280 BC): This great lighthouse was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Inscribed on the tower was the legend "Sostratus son of Dexiphanes of Cnidus to the gods who protect those at sea". This is recorded by Lucian, who also gives an account of how it came to be written there. Originally called simply "the Lighthouse", the Pharos gradually became known by the name of the small island ('Pharos') on which it was built. This island, which today is connected with the shore, lay just off the eastern entrance to the harbour of Alexandria. The base of the lighthouse measured 340 x 340 metres, and had mighty breakwaters on the three seaward sides, with defensive turrets at the corners. The total height of the structure was 140 metres, making it the tallest building in the ancient world after the Great Pyramids of Khufu and Khefre. It had four storeys above the raised base. The first of these was square, with windows all around illuminating rooms for the guards and engineers, while the centre was occupied by the hydraulic hoist used to bring up food and fuel and other supplies. Above this first floor was an octagonal storey with spiral staircases. The third was circular, and was ornamented with pillars. The fourth storey housed the reflecting mechanism. A fire was kept burning continuously, and a system of delicate instruments reflected the light. The beacon was visible for a radius of 300 stades (~54 km). Crowning the tower was a huge statue of Poseidon. Many sources refer to a huge "mirror", through which one could see ships far out to sea that were not visible to the naked eye. This may have been a form of telescope, with magnifying lenses. The sources also describe a number of automated figures: there was, for example, a statue that tracked the course of the sun across the sky with its finger; there was a mechanical figure that played music to mark the hours, and there was one that sounded an alarm to alert the city to the approach of an enemy fleet before it was visible on the horizon. The Pharos served as a model for many other ancient lighthouses. Ptolemy I allocated the huge sum of 800 talents of silver (about 21000 kg) for its construction, but work was not in fact begun until the reign of his successor, Ptolemy II Philadelphus. It took 12 years to complete. In 500 AD Ammonius made extensive repairs to the base and the breakwaters. Earthquakes in 796, 1100 and 1326 all took their toll of the structure. In 1480 Sultan al-Ashraf Qa'it Bay of the Mamluks built a fortress on the foundations of the ancient Pharos. Renovated in the early years of the 19th century, this fort was razed by the English in 1882.
- The Suspended Pleasure Gardens: At Cnidus, in Caria, Asia Minor. This was a vast pleasure palace with a roof garden, similar in construction to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Described by Pliny and Lucian.
- The Clubhouse of the Cnidians: At Delphi, 285 - 272 BC. This was a large colonnaded room, which served as a place of resort for Cnidians visiting Delphi.
- Diversionary canals on the Nile: At Memphis. Major engineering project to drain the main channel of the river in order to allow Ptolemy II to capture the besieged city. Described by Lucian.

This text is based on the Greek book "Ancient Greek Scientists", Athens, 1995 and is cited Sep 2005 from The Technology Museum of Thessaloniki URL below.



, , 408 - 355

Eudoxus, (Eudoxos), of Cnidus, the son of Aeschlines, lived about B. C. 366. He was, according to Diogenes Laertius, astronomer, geometer, physician, and legislator. It is only in the first capacity that his fame has descended to our day, and he has ore of it than can be justified by any account of his astronomical science now in existence. As the probable introducer of the sphere into Greece, and perhaps the corrector, upon Egyptian information, of the length of the year, he enjoyed a wide and popular reputation, so that Laertius, who does not even mention Hipparchus, has given the life of Eudoxus in his usual manner, that is, with the omission of all an astronomer would wish to know. According to this writer, Eudoxus went to Athens at the age of twenty-three (he had been the pupil of Archytas in geometry, and heard Plato for some months, struggling at the same time with poverty. Being dismissed by Plato, but for what reason is not stated, his friends raised some money, and he sailed for Egypt, with letters of recommendation to Nectanabis, who in his turn recommended him to the priests. With them he remained sixteen months, with his chin and eyebrows shaved, and there, according to Laertius, he urote the Octaeteris. Several ancient writers attribute to him the invention or introduction of an imiprovement upon the Octaeterides of his predecessors. After a time, lie came back to Athens with a band of pupils, having in the mean time taught philosophy in Cyzicum and the Propontis : he chose Athens, Laertius says, for the purpose of vexing Plato, at one of whose symposia lie introduced the fashion of the guests reclining in a semicircle; and Nicomachus (he adds), the son of Aristotle, reports him to have said that pleasure was a good. So much for Laertius, who also refers to some decree which was made in honour of Eudoxus, names his son and daughters, states him to have written good works on astronomy and geometry, and mentions the curious way in which the bull Apis told his fortune when he was in Egypt. Eudoxus died at the age of fifty-three. Phanocritus wrote a work upon Eudoxus (Athen. vii.), which is lost.
  The fragmentary notices of Eudoxus are numerous. Strabo mentions him frequently, and states (ii., xvii.) that the observatory of Eudoxus at Cnidus was existing in his time, from which he was accustomed to observe the star Canopus. Strabo also says that he remained thirteen years in Egypt, and attributes to him the introduction of the odd quarter of a day into the value of the year. Pliny (H. N. ii. 47) seems to refer to the same thing. Seneca (Qu. Nat. vii. 3) states him to have first brought the motions of the planets (a theory on this subject) from Egypt into Greece. Aristotle (Metaph. xii. 8) states him to have made separate spheres for the stars, sun, moon, and planets. Archimedes (in Arenar.) says he made the dia. meter of the sun nine times as great as that of the moon. Vitruvius (ix. 9) attributes to him the invention of a solar dial, called arachne : and so on.
  But all we positively know of Eudoxus is from the poem of Aratus and the commentary of Hipparchus upon it. From this commentary we learn that Aratus was not himself an observer, but was the versifier of the Phainomena of Eudoxus, of which Hipparchus has preserved fragments for comparison with the version by Aratus. The result is, that though there were by no means so many nor so great errors in Eudoxus as in Aratus, yet the opinion which must be formed of the work of the former is, that it was written in the rudest state of the science by an observer who was not very competent even to the task of looking at the risings and settings of the stars. Delambre (Hist. Astr. Anc. vol. i.) has given a full account of the comparison made by Hipparchus of Aratus with Eudoxus, and of both with his own observations. He cannot bring himself to think that Eudoxus knew anything of geometry, though it is on record that he wrote geometrical works, in spite of the praises of Proclus, Cicero, Ptolemy, Sextus Empiricus (who places him with Hipparchus), &c., &c. Eudoxus, as cited by Hipparchus, neither talks like a geometer, nor like a person who had seen the heavens lie describes: a bad globe, constructed some centuries before his time in Egypt, might, for anything that appears, have been his sole authority. But supposing, which is likely enough, that he was the first who brought any globe at all into Greece, it is not much to be wondered at that his reputation should have been magnified. As to what Proclus says of his geometry.
  Rejecting the Oktaeteris mentioned by Laertius, which was not a writing, but a period of time, and also the fifth book of Euclid, which one manuscript of Euclid attributes to Eudoxus (Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. iv.), we have the following works, all lost, which he is said to have written :
•Geometroimena, mentioned by Proclus and Laertius, which is not, however, to be taken as the title of a work:
•Organike, mentioned by Plutarch:
•Astronomia di' epon, by Suidas: two books.
•Enoptron or Katoptron and Phainomena mentioned by Hipparchus, and the first by an anonymous biographer of Aratus: Peri Theon kai Kosmou kai ton Meteorologoumenon mentioned by Eudocia:
•Ges Periodos, a work often mentioned by Strabo, and by many others, as to which Harless thinks Semler's opinion probable, that it was written by Eudoxus of Rhodes.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Oct 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Eudoxus, (Eudoxos). A celebrated astronomer and geometrician of Cnidus, who flourished B.C. 366. He studied at Athens and in Egypt, but probably spent some of his time at his native place, where he had an observatory. He is said to have been the first who taught in Greece the motions of the planets. His works are lost.

, 408 - 355

  Eudoxus, born in the city of Cnidus in southern Asia Minor, in the last years of the Vth century B. C., is one of the great mathematicians of all times, and probably the greatest of ancient Greece's mathematicians. He may have belonged to a family of physicians, because, at the time, Cnidus was famous for its school of medicine, and started his career travelling with fellow-physicians.
  When he was 23, he stayed for two months in Piraeus, going each day to Athens to listen to Plato and other Socratics. Later he went to Egypt, where he learned astronomy from priests of Heliopolis. Back from Egypt, he went to Halicarnassus and then settled for a while in Cyzicus, where he founded a school of astronomy that remained famous long after his death. Then, he came to Athens where he probably worked with Plato at the Academy. Toward the end of his life, he returned to his native city of Cnidus where he was involved in lawmaking.
  Most of his works, which covered many areas including, aside from mathematics, astronomy, geography, music, philosophy and more, are lost and known only through mentions in other works. His works in mathematics are better known and it is likely they were at the root of a large part of Euclid' Elements. Eudoxus, with the method of exhaustion he developed in geometry, is one of the fathers of integral calculus. He is also the inventor in astronomy of a scheme to account for the movement of planets based on concentric spheres turning within one another, a method that was to be complexified later by Aristotle, and he can thus be viewed as the father of scientific astromony. This should give a feel for how developed mathematics, and especially geometry, was in the time of Plato, showing that a large part of what ended up in Euclid's Elements was already known.

Bernard Suzanne (page last updated 1998), ed.
This extract is cited July 2003 from the Plato and his dialogues URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks.


Agatharchides, 2nd cent. B.C.

Agatharchides, or Agatharchus (Agatharchos), a Greek grammarian, born at Cnidos. He was brought up by a man of the name of Cinnaeus; was, as Strabo (xvi) informs us, attached to the Peripatetic school of philosophy, and wrote several historical and geographical works. In his youth he held the situation of secretary and reader to Heraclides Lembus, who (according to Suidas) lived in the reign of Ptolemy Philometor. This king died B. C. 146. He himself informs us (in his work on the Erythraean Sea), that he was subsequently guardian to one of the kings of Egypt during his minority. This was no doubt one of the two sons of Ptolemy Physcon. Dodwell endeae case with Alexander likewise. Wesseling and Clinton think the elder brother to be the one meant, as Soter II. was more likely to have been a minvours to shew that it was the younger son, Alexander, and objects to Soter, that he reigned conjointly with his mother. This, however, was thor on his accession in B. C. 117, than Alexander in B. C. 107, ten years after their father's death. Moreover Dodwell's date would leave too short an interval between the publication of Agatharchides's work on the Erythraean Sea (about B. C. 113), and the work of Artemidorus.
  An enumeration of the works of Agatharchides is given by Photius (Cod. 213). He wrote a work on Asia, in 10 books, and one on Europe, in 49 books; a geographical work on the Erythraean Sea, in 5 books, of the first and fifth books of which Photius gives an abstract; an epitome of the last mentioned work; a treatise on the Troglodytae, in 5 books; an epitome of the Aude of Antimachus; an epitome of the works of those who had written peri tes sunagoges thaumasion anemon; an historical work, from the 12th and 30th books of which Athenaeus quotes (xii., vi.); and a treatise on the intercourse of friends. The first three of these only had been read by Photius. Agatharchides composed his work on the Erythraean Sea, as he tells us himself, in his old age, in the reign probably of Ptolemy Soter II. It appears to have contained a great deal of valuable matter. In the first book was a discussion respecting the origin of the name. In the fifth lie described the mode of life amongst the Sabaeans in Arabia, and the Ichthyophagi, or fish-eaters, the way in which elephants were caught by the elephant-eaters, and the mode of working the gold mines in the mountains of Egypt, near the Red Sea. His account of the Ichthyophagi and of the mode of working the gold mines, has been copied by Diodorus (iii. 12-18). Amongst other extraordinary animals he mentions the camelopard, which was found in the country of the Troglodytae, and the rhinoceros.
  Agatharchides wrote in the Attic dialect. His style, according to Photius, was dignified and perspicuous, and abounded in sententious passages, which inspired a favourable opinion of his judgment. In the composition of his speeches he was an imitator of Thucydides, whom he equalled in dignity and excelled in clearness. His rhetorical talents also are highly praised by Photius. He was acquainted with the language of the Aethiopians, and appears to have been the first who discovered the true cause of the yearly inundations of the Nile. (Diod. i. 41)
  An Agatharchides, of Samos, is mentioned by Plutarch, as the author of a work on Persia, and one peri lithon. Fabricius, However, conjectures that the true reading is Agathyrsides, not Agatharchides. There is a curious observation by Agatharchides preserved by Plutarch (Sympos. viii. 9.3), of the species of worm called Filaria Medinensis, or Guinea Worm, which is the earliest account of it that is to be met with.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Sep 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Agetharchides of Cnidus, Geographer, (fl.2nd century AD)
  Peripatetic philosopher, geographer, historian, traveller and naturalist, Agatharchides lived in Alexandria and spent much of his life on expeditions of exploration. He is cited by Athenaeus, Strabo, Plutarch, Diodorus Siculus, Artemidorus, Lucian and Photius.
  "Journey around the Red Sea": 5 books (132 BC). These works, which contain valuable information about Arabia and Ethiopia, were consulted by Diodorus, Artemidorus, Aelian and Strabo.
  "On Europe": 49 books on the geography and history of Asia.
  "On Asia": 10 books of geography and history, with a section on Africa (Ethiopia, the Nile).
  "On Africa"
  "Compendium of winds": Only fragments of this work survive.
  In his writings, Agatharchides provides geographic and ethnographic information about many countries and describes unusual species of plants and animals (e.g. ant lions, rhinoceros, giraffes, giant snakes, etc.). He names India and China as "the places where silk comes from", describes the way of life of the peoples of Arabia ("fish-eaters") and East Africa, provides information on the gold mines of Ethiopia, and explains the phenomenon of the periodic flooding of the Nile.

This text is based on the Greek book "Ancient Greek Scientists", Athens, 1995 and is cited May 2004 from The Technology Museum of Thessaloniki URL below.

Fable writers


Demetrius, of Cnidus, apparently a mythographer, is referred to by the Scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius (i. 1165).



Dicaeocles, (Dikaiokles), a writer of Cnidos, whose essays (diatribai) are referred to by Athenaeus. (xi.)



Diocles. Of Cnidus, a Platonic philosopher, who is mentioned as the author of Diatribai, from which a fragment is quoted in Eusebius. (Praep. Evany. xiv.)



Hermodorus, a lyric poet, whose songs were incorporated in the Anthology of Melcager. We still possess an epigram of his on the Aphrodite of Cnidus, but he is otherwise unknown. There is a fragment of two lines quoted by Stobaeus (Flor. tit. Ix. 2), under the name of Hermodotus, which, according to some critics, is a mistake for Hermodorus; but nothing can be said about the matter.

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