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Aristarchus

ARISTARCHUS:

(1) - of Samos, Greek astronomer, flourished about 250 B.C. He is famous as having been the first to maintain that the earth moves round the Sun. On this account he was accused of impiety by the Stoic Cleanthes, just as Galileo, in later years, was attacked by the theologians. His only extant work is a short treatise (with a commentary by Pappus) On the Magnitudes and Distances of the Sun and Moon. His method of estimating the relative lunar and solar distances is geometrically correct, though the instrumental means at his command rendered his data erroneous. Although the heliocentric system is not mentioned in the treatise, a quotation in the Arenarius of Archimedes from a work of Aristarchus proves that he anticipated the great discovery of Copernicus. Further, Copernicus could not have known of Aristarchus's doctrine, since Archimedes's work was not published till after Copernicus's death. Aristarchus is also said to have invented two sun-dials, one hemispherical, the so-called scaphion, the other plane.

Editio princeps by Wallis (1688); Fortia d'Urban (1810); Nizze (1856). See Bergk-Hinrichs, Aristarchus van Samos (1883); Tannery, Aristarque de Samos; also Astronomy.

(2) - of Samothrace (c.220-143 B.C.), Greek grammarian and critic, flourished about 155. He settled early in Alexandria, where he studied under Aristophanes of Byzantium, whom he succeeded as librarian of the museum. On the accession of the tyrant Ptolemy Physcon (his former pupil), he found his life in danger and withdrew to Cyprus, where he died from dropsy, hastened, it is said, by voluntary starvation, at the age of 72. Aristarchus founded a school of philologists, called after him "Aristarcheans," which long flourished in Alexandria and afterwards at Rome. He is said to have written 800 commentaries alone, without reckoning special treatises. He edited Hesiod, Pindar, Aeschylus, Sophocles and other authors; but his chief fame rests on his critical and exegetical edition of Homer, practically the foundation of our present recension. In the time of Augustus, two Aristarcheans, Didymus and Aristonicus, undertook the revision of his work, and the extracts from these two writers in the Venetian scholia to the Iliad give an idea of Aristarchus's Homeric labours. To obtain a thoroughly correct text, he marked with an obelus the lines he considered spurious; other signs were used by him to indicate notes, varieties of reading, repetitions and interpolations. He arranged the Iliad and the Odyssey in twenty-four books as we now have them. As a commentator his principle was that the author should explain himself, without recourse to allegorical interpretation; in grammar, he laid chief stress on analogy and uniformity of usage and construction. His views were opposed by Crates of Mallus, who wrote a treatise , especially directed against them.

See Lehrs, De Aristarchi Stud. Homericis (3rd ed., 1882); Ludwich, Aristarchs homerische Textcritik (1884); especially Sandys, Hist. of Class. Schol. (ed. 1906), vol. i. with authorities; also Homer.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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