Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, JoAnn Palmeri, Daniel W. E. Green

Dôsitheus of Pêlousion

Reference work entry

Flourished Pêlousion (Tell el-Farama, Egypt), 230 BCE

Dôsitheus was a student of Konon (  Conon ) of Samos and a correspondent of   Archimedes of Syracuse. He wrote and observed in Alexandria, and perhaps on the island of Kos, but nothing further is known of his life. The name, meaning “god-given,” is common, but all other prominent Ptolemaic bearers were Jewish, so it may translate as Nathaniel. Pêlousion, at the easternmost mouth of the Nile, was an important coastal border fortress and customs station of Ptolemaic Egypt. During Dôsitheos’s lifetime, Pêlousion was often the point of departure for Ptolemaic attacks on the neighboring Seleukid Kingdom (in the wars of 274–271, 260–253, 246–241, and 221–217 BCE).

After Konon died, Archimedes resorted to Dôsitheus as the addressee of his mature works – On the Quadrature of the Parabola, On the Sphere and Cylinder(two books, separately addressed), On Spirals, and On Conoids and Spheroids. In turn, Dôsitheus solicited proofs from Archimedes, who attributed to him not expertise but only familiarity with geometry. Dôsitheus’s astronomical contributions chiefly concerned the calendar, on which he wrote three works – Appearances of Fixed Stars(rising and setting dates), Weathersigns(seasonal weather predictions based on astronomical phenomena), and On the Eight-year Cycle of Eudoxos(all lost). Notes from the first and second are preserved in the calendar appended to   Geminus ’s Introduction, in   Pliny and in   Ptolemy ’s work of the same name (usually cited as Phaseis). Dôsitheus is also attested to have written a work To Diodoros(an exceedingly common name), apparently giving information on the life of   Aratus .

Selected References

  1. Dicks, D. R. (1971). “Dositheos.” In Dictionary of Scientific Biography, edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie. Vol. 4, pp. 171–172. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.Google Scholar
  2. Folkerts, Menso (1997). “Dositheos [3].” In Der neue Pauly: Encyclopädie der Antike, edited by Hubert Cancik and Helmuth Schneider. Vol. 3, col. 802. Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler.Google Scholar
  3. Knorr, Wilbur R. (1978). “Archimedes and the Elements: Proposal for a Revised Chronological Ordering of the Archimedean Corpus.” Archive for History of Exact Sciences19: 211–290.MathSciNetMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ross, William David (1996). “Dositheos.” In Oxford Classical Dictionary, edited by Simon Hornblower and Anthony Spawforth. 3rd ed., p. 496. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA