Eudoxus of Cnidus

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Eudoxus of Cnidus (410 or 408 BC – 355 or 347 BC) was a Greek astronomer, mathematician, scholar and student of Plato. Since all his own works are lost, our knowledge of him is obtained from secondary sources, such as Aratus's poem on astronomy. Theodosius of Bithynia's Sphaerics may be based on a work of Eudoxus.

Contents

Life

His name "Eudoxus" means "good opinion" and "good fame" (in Greek Εὔδοξος), from eu = good, doxa = opinion or belief or fame). It is analogous to the Latin name "Benedictus" (Benedict, Benedetto).

Eudoxus's father Aeschines of Cnidus loved to watch stars at night. Eudoxus first travelled to Tarentum to study with Archytas, from whom he learned mathematics. While in Italy, Eudoxus visited Sicily, where he studied medicine with Philiston.

Around 387 BC, at the age of 23, he traveled with the physician Theomedon, who according to Diogenes Laërtius some believed was his lover,[1] to Athens to study with the followers of Socrates. He eventually became the pupil of Plato, with whom he studied for several months, but due to a disagreement they had a falling out. Eudoxus was quite poor and could only afford an apartment at the Piraeus. To attend Plato's lectures, he walked the seven miles (11 km) each direction, each day. Due to his poverty, his friends raised funds sufficient to send him to Heliopolis, Egypt to pursue his study of astronomy and mathematics. He lived there for 16 months. From Egypt, he then traveled north to Cyzicus, located on the south shore of the Sea of Marmara, and the Propontis. He traveled south to the court of Mausolus. During his travels he gathered many students of his own.

Around 368 BC, Eudoxus returned to Athens with his students. According to some sources, around 367 he assumed headship of the Academy during Plato's period in Syracuse, and taught Aristotle[citation needed]. He eventually returned to his native Cnidus, where he served in the city assembly. While in Cnidus, he built an observatory and continued writing and lecturing on theology, astronomy and meteorology. He had one son, Aristagoras, and three daughters, Actis, Philtis and Delphis.

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