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Dicaearchus of Messana

Dicaearchus of Messana ( /ˌdɪsiˈɑːrkəs...mɪˈsænə/ ; Greek : ΔικαίαρχοςDikaiarkhos; c.350 – c.285 BC), also written Dicearchus or Dicearch ( /ˈdɪsiɑːrk/ ), was a Greek philosopher, cartographer, geographer, mathematician and author. Dicaearchus was Aristotle's student in the Lyceum. Very little of his work remains extant. He wrote on the history and geography of Greece, of which his most important work was his Life of Greece. He made important contributions to the field of cartography, where he was among the first to use geographical coordinates. He also wrote books on philosophy and politics.



He was the son of one Pheidias, and born at Messana in Sicily, though he passed the greater part of his life in Greece, and especially in Peloponnesus. He was a disciple of Aristotle, [1] and a friend of Theophrastus, to whom he dedicated some of his writings. He died about 285 BC.


Dicaearchus was highly esteemed by the ancients as a philosopher and as a man of most extensive information upon a great variety of things. [2] His work is known only from the many fragmentary quotations of later writers. His works were geographical, political or historical, philosophical, and mathematical; but it is difficult to draw up an accurate list of them, since many which are quoted as distinct works appear to have been only sections of greater ones. The fragments extant, moreover, do not always enable us to form a clear notion of the works to which they once belonged. The geographical works of Dicaearchus were, according to Strabo, [3] criticised in many respects by Polybius; and Strabo himself is dissatisfied with his descriptions of western and northern Europe, where Dicaearchus had never visited. [4]

Among his geographical works may be mentioned:

Of a political nature was:

Among his philosophical works may be mentioned:

A work On the Sacrifice at Ilium (περὶ τῆς ἐν Ἰλίῳ ϑυσίας) [30] seems to have referred to the sacrifice which Alexander the Great performed at Ilium.

There are lastly some other works which are of a grammatical nature, and may be the productions of Dicaearchus, viz. On Alcaeus (Περὶ Ἀλκαίου), [31] and Summaries of the plots of Euripides and Sophocles (ὑποθέσεις τῶν Εὐριπίδου καὶ Σοφοκλέους μύθων), [32] but may have been the works of Dicaearchus, a grammarian of Lacedaemon, who, according to the Suda, was a disciple of Aristarchus, and seems to be alluded to in Apollonius. [33]

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  1. Henderson, Jeffrey. "CICERO, De Legibus". Loeb Classical Library. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  2. Cicero, Tusculanae Quaestiones, i. 18, de Officiis, ii. 5; Varro, de Re Rust. i. 2.
  3. Strabo, ii.
  4. "Strabo, Geography, BOOK II., CHAPTER IV., section 2". www.perseus.tufts.edu. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  5. Mirhady 1.7a
  6. Mirhady 53-77
  7. Mirhady 55
  8. Mirhady 56A
  9. Mirhady 64
  10. Mirhady 57
  11. e.g. Mirhady 72-74
  12. e.g. Mirhady 91, 96, 105-108
  13. Mirhady 3
  14. Wehrli fr. 124
  15. Lydus, de Mensibus.
  16. Cicero, ad Atticum, vi. 2; comp. Diogenes Laërtius v.
  17. P. E. Easterling, Bernard MacGregor Walker Knox, (1985), Greek literature, page 825. Cambridge University Press
  18. Pliny, H. N. ii. 65; Geminus, Elem. Astron. 14.
  19. Cicero, ad Atticum, vi. 2, xiii. 31; Athenaeus, xiii., xiv.
  20. Suda.
  21. Athenaeus, xiv.
  22. Scholion ad Aristophanis Vespis 564.
  23. Athenenaeus, iv.; Cicero, ad Atticum, xiii. 32
  24. Photius, Bibl. Cod. 37.
  25. Cicero, Tusculanae Quaestiones, i. 31.
  26. Cicero, ad Atticum, xiii. 12
  27. Cicero, Tusculanae Quaestiones, i. 10.
  28. Cicero, de Officiis, ii. 5.
  29. Walter Burkert (1972). Lore and Science in Ancient Pythagoreanism. Harvard University Press. p. 109. ISBN   9780674539181.
  30. Athenenaeus, xiii.
  31. Athenaeus, xi., xv.
  32. Sextus Empiricus, adv. Geometr.
  33. Apollonius Dyscolus, De Pronom..


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