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


  • Paul T. Keyser
Reference work entry

Bornprobably Alexandria, (Egypt), circa440

DiedAlexandria, (Egypt), circa521

Neoplatonist Ammonius was the son of Hermeias (the scholarch of the Alexandrian school) and Aidesia (admired for her prudence and piety, “the most beautiful woman in Alexandria,” and a close relative of Surianus, scholarch of the Athenian Academy from 431 to 437). His younger and less studious brother  Heliodorus was also a philosopher, while his paternal uncle Gregorius was an astronomer.

Ammonius was born under the learned emperor and legal codifier Theodosius II, and was an adolescent when Rome fell to the Vandal army. He studied philosophy at the academy in Athens for many years from about 460 under  Proclus of Lydia (scholarch there from 437 to 485), among whose students Ammonius is said to have excelled in mathematics and astronomy. He then succeeded his father as scholarch in Alexandria in 485, a post he held, through a time of religious strife and political regionalism, until his death.


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Selected References

  1. Duhem, Pierre (1914). Le système du monde. Vol. 2, pp. 202–204. Paris: A. Hermann. (French, and only modern, translation of Simplicius’ report of Ammonius’ observation of Arcturus.)Google Scholar
  2. Merlan, Philip (1968). “Ammonius Hermiae, Zacharias Scholasticus and Boethius.” Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 9: 193–203. (On the eternity of the kosmos.)Google Scholar
  3. — (1970). “Ammonius, Son of Hermias.” In Dictionary of Scientific Biography, edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie. Vol. 1, p. 137. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.Google Scholar
  4. Neugebauer, Otto (1975). A History of Ancient Mathematical Astronomy. 3 Pts. New York: Springer-Verlag, Pt. 2, pp. 1031–1041. (Astronomy in the 5th and 6th centuries, including Ammonius and his observations).Google Scholar
  5. Obertello, Lucca (1981). “Proclus, Ammonius and Boethius on Divine Knowledge.” Dionysius 5: 127–164.Google Scholar
  6. Soliotis, Ch. (1986). “Unpublished Greek Texts on the Use and Construction of the Astrolabe.” Praktika tês Akadêmias Athênôn 61: 423–454. (Modern Greek notes on, and ancient Greek text of, Ammonius’ work).Google Scholar
  7. Sorabji, Richard (1998). “The Three Deterministic Arguments Opposed by Ammonius.” In Ammonius: On Aristotle on Interpretation 9, with Boethius: On Aristotle on Interpretation 9, translated by David Blank and Norman Kretzmann, pp. 3-15. London: Duckworth.Google Scholar
  8. Tempelis, Elias (1997). “Iamblichus and the School of Ammonius, Son of Hermias, on Divine Omniscience.” Syllecta Classica 8: 207–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. — (1997). “Iamblichus and the School of Ammonius, Son of Hermias, on Knowledge of the Divine.” Parnassos 39: 295–350, esp. 320–344. (On divine omniscience and eternity of the kosmos).Google Scholar
  10. Verbeke, Gérard (1982). “Some Later Neoplatonic Views on Divine Creation and the Eternity of the World.” In Neoplatonism and Christian Thought, edited by Dominic J. O’Meara, pp. 45–53, 241–244. Norfolk, Virginia: International Society for Neoplatonic Studies.Google Scholar
  11. Wildberg, Christian (1998). “Ammonius, Son of Hermeas (c. AD 440–521).” In Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward Craig. Vol. 1, pp. 208–210. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA