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


Reference work entry

BornPitane (Candarli, Turkey), circa360 BCE

Diedcirca290 BCE

Two of Autolycus’s three books have come down to us and are considered the oldest original treatises on mathematics that have survived (in translation) in their entirety.

Little is known about the life of Autolycus, and even the dates associated with him are not clear. It is generally believed that he was older than Euclid, and it is known that he taught the philosopher Arcesilaus, founder of the Middle Academy. Autolycus was a contemporary of  Aristotle and is generally considered to have been primarily an astronomer. The only known specific piece of information on his life comes to us from Diogenes Laertius, who reports that Autolycus was accompanied by Arcesilaus on a trip to Sardis.

The two of Autolycus’ treatises on astronomy that have survived are De orto (On risings and settings) and De sphaera mota (On the moving sphere). They survived in large part due to their inclusion in Little Astronomy, which was an early...

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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. Kline, M. (1972). Mathematical Thought from Ancient to Modern Times. New York: Oxford University Press.MATHGoogle Scholar
  3. Smith, David Eugene (1923). History of Mathematics. Vol. 1. Boston: Ginn and Co. (Reprint, New York: Dover, 1958.)Google 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 CourtGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Saint Anselm CollegeManchesterUSA