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

Apollonius of Perga

Reference work entry

FlourishedAlexandria, (Egypt), circa247205 BCE

Apollonius laid two foundations, one in astronomy and the other in mathematics.

Ancient sources have Apollonius flourishing in the reign of Ptolemy Euergetes (Ptolemy III: 247–222 BCE) and Ptolemy Philopator (Ptolemy IV: 222–205 BCE). He was born in Perga (near the southern coast of what is now Turkey), and moved to Alexandria, where he spent his working life. The move to Alexandria may have been spurred by Euergetes’ naval forces conquering the coastal regions all the way to the Hellespont early in his reign, which made Alexandria the capital of the entire eastern Greek world.

In astronomy,  Ptolemy used Apollonius as his authority on epicycles and eccentrics to account for the apparent motions of the planets. The propositions cited by Ptolemy as proven by Apollonius show mathematically at what points the planet appears stationary, switching from apparent forward to apparent retrograde, and vice versa.

In mathematics, Apollonius’s Conics...

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Selected References

  1. Apollonius (1710). Conic Sections, edited by Edmund Halley. Oxford.Google Scholar
  2. Opera, edited by Heiberg. 2 Vols. Leipzig: Teubner, 1891, 1893.Google Scholar
  3. — (1998). Conics, Books I-III, translated by R. Catesby Taliaferro. Diagrams by William H. Donahue. New rev. ed. Santa Fe: Green Lion Press.Google Scholar
  4. — (2002). Conics, Book IV, translation, introduction, and diagrams by Michael N. Fried. 1st English ed. Santa Fe: Green Lion Press.Google Scholar
  5. Cohen, Morris R. and I. E. Drabkin (eds.) (1958). A Sourcebook in Greek Science. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Heath, Sir Thomas, L. (1921). A History of Greek Mathematics. 2 Vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press. (Reprint, New York: Dover, 1981.)Google Scholar
  7. Neugebauer, Otto (1975). A History of Ancient Mathematical Astronomy. 3 pts. New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Nebraska-LincolnNEUS