The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2007 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, F. Jamil Ragep, JoAnn Palmeri, Marvin Bolt


  • Ian T. Durham
Reference work entry

BornApameia, (Syria), 135 BCE

DiedRhodes, (Greece), 51 BCE

Posidonius is responsible for an early measurement of the circumference of the Earth.

Posidonius was from a Greek family though he was born in Syria. He was raised in the Greek tradition and completed his education in Athens under the great Stoic philosopher Panaetius of Rhodes. His name is sometimes listed as Posidonius of Apameia, while at other times it is listed as Posidonius of Rhodes. The former obviously refers to the place of his birth, while the latter refers to the place where he ultimately taught.

Presumably, the influence of Panaetius is what brought Posidonius to Rhodes. Sometime after 100 BCE he is known to have become the head of the Stoic school at Rhodes, where he taught both Ciceroand Pompey (the Great). In 86 BCE, Posidonius was sent as an envoy to Rome, where he met Gaius Marius, the Roman politician and general. It is also probable that it was around this time that he first met Pompey, who later...

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Selected References

  1. Heath, Sir Thomas L. (1931). A Manual of Greek Mathematics. Oxford: Clarendon Press. (Reprint, New York: Dover, 1963.)Google Scholar
  2. Neugebauer, Otto (1975). A History of Ancient Mathematical Astronomy. 3 pts. New York: Springer‐Verlag.zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  3. Smith, David Eugene (1923). History of Mathematics. Vol. 1. Boston: Ginn and Co. (Reprint, New York: Dover, 1958.)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  4. ——— (1925). History of Mathematics. Vol. 2. Boston: Ginn and Co. (Reprint, New York: Dover, 1958.)Google Scholar
  5. Swetz, Frank J. (1994). From Five Fingers to Infinity. Chicago: Open Court.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian T. Durham

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