Sosigenes the Peripatetic

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Sosigenes the Peripatetic (Greek : Σωσιγένης) was a philosopher living at the end of the 2nd century AD. He was the tutor of Alexander of Aphrodisias and wrote a work On Revolving Spheres, from which some important extracts have been preserved in Simplicius's commentary on Aristotle's De Caelo .

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Philosopher person with an extensive knowledge of philosophy

A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term "philosopher" comes from the Ancient Greek, φιλόσοφος (philosophos), meaning "lover of wisdom". The coining of the term has been attributed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras.

Alexander of Aphrodisias Peripatetic philosopher

Alexander of Aphrodisias was a Peripatetic philosopher and the most celebrated of the Ancient Greek commentators on the writings of Aristotle. He was a native of Aphrodisias in Caria, and lived and taught in Athens at the beginning of the 3rd century, where he held a position as head of the Peripatetic school. He wrote many commentaries on the works of Aristotle, extant are those on the Prior Analytics, Topics, Meteorology, Sense and Sensibilia, and Metaphysics. Several original treatises also survive, and include a work On Fate, in which he argues against the Stoic doctrine of necessity; and one On the Soul. His commentaries on Aristotle were considered so useful that he was styled, by way of pre-eminence, "the commentator".



Sosigenes criticized both Aristotle and Eudoxus for their imperfect theory of celestial spheres and also the use of epicycles, which he felt to be inconsistent with Aristotle's philosophical postulates. He pointed out that the planets varied markedly in brightness, and that eclipses of the Sun are sometimes total and sometimes annular, suggesting that the distances between the Sun, Moon and Earth were not the same at different eclipses.

Eudoxus of Cnidus was an ancient Greek astronomer, mathematician, scholar, and student of Archytas and Plato. All of his works are lost, though some fragments are preserved in Hipparchus' commentary on Aratus's poem on astronomy. Sphaerics by Theodosius of Bithynia may be based on a work by Eudoxus.

Celestial spheres Term in ancient times for the heavens

The celestial spheres, or celestial orbs, were the fundamental entities of the cosmological models developed by Plato, Eudoxus, Aristotle, Ptolemy, Copernicus, and others. In these celestial models, the apparent motions of the fixed stars and planets are accounted for by treating them as embedded in rotating spheres made of an aetherial, transparent fifth element (quintessence), like jewels set in orbs. Since it was believed that the fixed stars did not change their positions relative to one another, it was argued that they must be on the surface of a single starry sphere.

In the Hipparchian and Ptolemaic systems of astronomy, the epicycle was a geometric model used to explain the variations in speed and direction of the apparent motion of the Moon, Sun, and planets. In particular it explained the apparent retrograde motion of the five planets known at the time. Secondarily, it also explained changes in the apparent distances of the planets from the Earth.

Sosigenes is perhaps called "the Peripatetic" only because of his connection with Alexander. Some ancient evidence may be taken to suggest that he was, in fact, a Stoic. As John Patrick Lynch has written:

Peripatetic school School of philosophy in Ancient Greece

The Peripatetic school was a school of philosophy in Ancient Greece. Its teachings derived from its founder, Aristotle, and peripatetic is an adjective ascribed to his followers.

Stoicism School of Hellenistic Greek philosophy

Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. Stoicism is a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. According to its teachings, as social beings, the path to eudaimonia (happiness) for humans is found in accepting the moment as it presents itself, by not allowing oneself to be controlled by the desire for pleasure or fear of pain, by using one's mind to understand the world and to do one's part in nature's plan, and by working together and treating others fairly and justly.

The other two teachers of Alexander may actually have been the philosophers whom ancient sources called Stoics; in both cases, Herminos/Sosigenes "the Stoic" have been distinguished from Herminos/Sosigenes "the Peripatetic" only on the grounds that the two latter men were teachers of Alexander of Aphrodisias. But it is not improbable that Alexander of Aphrodisias studied with two Stoic teachers and that these two pairs of homonymous contemporaries are actually only two Stoic philosophers. [1]

He is often confused with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria, who advised Julius Caesar on the reform of the Roman calendar.

Sosigenes of Alexandria was a Greek astronomer from Ptolemaic Egypt who, according to Roman historian Pliny the Elder, was consulted by Julius Caesar for the design of the Julian calendar.

Julius Caesar 1st-century BC Roman politician and general

Gaius Julius Caesar, known by his nomen and cognomen Julius Caesar, was a Roman politician, military general, and historian who played a critical role in the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. He also wrote Latin prose.


  1. John Patrick Lynch, Aristotle's School: A Study of a Greek Educational Institution, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972, p. 215.

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