Seleucus of Seleucia (Greek: Σέλευκος Seleukos; c. 190 BC - c. 150 BC) was a Hellenistic astronomer and philosopher.[1] Coming from Seleucia on the Tigris, Mesopotamia, the capital of the Seleucid Empire, or, alternatively, Seleukia on the Erythraean Sea,[2] he is best known as a proponent of heliocentrism[3][4][5] and for his theory of the origin of tides.

Heliocentric theory

Seleucus is known to have been a follower of the heliocentric theory of Aristarchus of Samos, which stated that the Earth rotated around its own axis which in turn revolved around the Sun.[6][7] According to Plutarch, Seleucus was the first to demonstrate the heliocentric system through reasoning, but it is not known what arguments he used.[8] According to Bartel Leendert van der Waerden, Seleucus may have constructed his heliocentric theory by determining the constants of a geometric model and by developing methods to compute planetary positions using this model, as Nicolaus Copernicus later did in the 16th century. He may have used trigonometric methods that were available in his time, as he was a contemporary of Hipparchus.[9]

Since the time of Heraclides Ponticus (387 BC–312 BC), the inferior planets Mercury and Venus have been at times named solar planets, as their positions diverge from the Sun by only a small angle.

According to the Greek geographer Strabo, Seleucus was also the first to assume the universe to be infinite.[10] None of his original writing have survived, though a fragment of his work has survived only in Arabic translation, which was later referred to by the Persian philosopher Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi (865–925).[11]

Tides

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According to Lucio Russo, Seleucus' arguments for a heliocentric theory were probably related to the phenomenon of tides.[12] The annual cycle of tides (which was studied by Seleucus) can indeed hardly be explained in a geocentric system. Seleucus correctly theorized that tides were caused by the Moon, explaining that the interaction was mediated by the pneuma. He noted that the tides varied in time and strength in different parts of the world. According to Lucio Russo, Seleucus ascribed tides both to the Moon and to a whirling motion of the Earth, which could be interpreted as the motion of the Earth around the Earth-Moon center of mass.

According to Strabo (1.1.9),[failed verification] Seleucus was the first to state that the tides are due to the attraction of the Moon, and that the height of the tides depends on the Moon's position relative to the Sun.[10]

Seleucus in Strabo

Seleucus is known from the writings of Plutarch, Aetius, and Strabo, all of whom were Greeks, and the Persian Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi. Strabo lists Seleucus as one of the four most influential "Chaldean" astronomers:

In Chapter XVI of his Geographia, Strabo mentions several "Chaldaen" astronomers. At the end he adds: "Seleukios of Seleukia was a Chaldaean too." ... Babylonian astrologers and astronomers were often called "Chaldaeans." Strabo calls them "the so-called Chaldaeans". Their writings were translated into Greek and used by later authors like Geminos. The "Chaldaean" astronomers mentioned by Strabo are Kidenas, Naburianos, Sudines, and Seleukos. The first two are also known from astronomical cuneiform texts under their Akkadian names Nabu-Rimannu and Kidinnu.[10]

See also

Babylonian astronomy

Greek astronomy

Discourse on the Tides

References

Greek astronomer:

The SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS):

Greek philosopher, born in Seleucia, ...

ScienceWorld:

Greek philosopher who was the one astronomer of note who championed Aristarchus's heliocentric theory.

Neugebauer 1945, pp. 39–42:

Among several cities named Seleukia, the best known is Seleukia on the Tigris, the capital of the Seleucid kingdom. It is possible that the astronomer Seleukos lived or was born in this city, but it is also possible that his native town was Seleukia on the Erythrean Sea.

Index of Ancient Greek Philosophers-Scientists Archived 2009-03-21 at the Wayback Machine

Seleucus of Seleucia (c. 190 BC–?), The SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

Seleucus of Seleucia (ca. 190–unknown BC), ScienceWorld

Russell, Bertrand — History of Western Philosophy (2004) – p. 215

We do not know other names of ancient astronomers or scientists who supported the heliocentric system: Hipparchus and later Ptolemy contributed to the success of the geocentric system; however, in the writings of Plutarch and Sextus Empiricus we read of "the followers of Aristarchus", thus it is probable that other people we do not know of adhered to the heliocentric view.

Van der Waerden 1987, p. 528

Van der Waerden 1987, pp. 527−529

Van der Waerden 1987, p. 527

Shlomo Pines (1986), Studies in Arabic versions of Greek texts and in mediaeval science, 2, Brill Publishers, pp. viii & 201–17, ISBN 965-223-626-8

Lucio Russo, Flussi e riflussi, Feltrinelli, Milano, 2003, ISBN 88-07-10349-4.

Sources

Neugebauer, O. (1945), "The History of Ancient Astronomy. Problems and Methods", Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 4 (1): 1–38, doi:10.1086/370729

Sarton, George (1955), "Chaldaean Astronomy of the Last Three Centuries B. C.", Journal of the American Oriental Society, 75 (3): 166–173, doi:10.2307/595168

Van der Waerden, B. L. (1987), "The Heliocentric System in Greek, Persian and Hindu Astronomy", Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 500: 525–545, Bibcode:1987NYASA.500..525V, doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.1987.tb37224.x

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Aglaonice Agrippa Anaximander Andronicus Apollonius Aratus Aristarchus Aristyllus Attalus Autolycus Bion Callippus Cleomedes Cleostratus Conon Eratosthenes Euctemon Eudoxus Geminus Heraclides Hicetas Hipparchus Hippocrates of Chios Hypsicles Menelaus Meton Oenopides Philip of Opus Philolaus Posidonius Ptolemy Pytheas Seleucus Sosigenes of Alexandria Sosigenes the Peripatetic Strabo Thales Theodosius Theon of Alexandria Theon of Smyrna Timocharis

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Ancient Greek and Hellenistic mathematics (Euclidean geometry)

Mathematicians

(timeline)

Anaxagoras Anthemius Archytas Aristaeus the Elder Aristarchus Apollonius Archimedes Autolycus Bion Bryson Callippus Carpus Chrysippus Cleomedes Conon Ctesibius Democritus Dicaearchus Diocles Diophantus Dinostratus Dionysodorus Domninus Eratosthenes Eudemus Euclid Eudoxus Eutocius Geminus Heliodorus Heron Hipparchus Hippasus Hippias Hippocrates Hypatia Hypsicles Isidore of Miletus Leon Marinus Menaechmus Menelaus Metrodorus Nicomachus Nicomedes Nicoteles Oenopides Pappus Perseus Philolaus Philon Philonides Porphyry Posidonius Proclus Ptolemy Pythagoras Serenus Simplicius Sosigenes Sporus Thales Theaetetus Theano Theodorus Theodosius Theon of Alexandria Theon of Smyrna Thymaridas Xenocrates Zeno of Elea Zeno of Sidon Zenodorus

Treatises

Almagest Archimedes Palimpsest Arithmetica Conics (Apollonius) Catoptrics Data (Euclid) Elements (Euclid) Measurement of a Circle On Conoids and Spheroids On the Sizes and Distances (Aristarchus) On Sizes and Distances (Hipparchus) On the Moving Sphere (Autolycus) Euclid's Optics On Spirals On the Sphere and Cylinder Ostomachion Planisphaerium Sphaerics The Quadrature of the Parabola The Sand Reckoner

Problems

Angle trisection Doubling the cube Squaring the circle Problem of Apollonius

Concepts/definitions

Circles of Apollonius

Apollonian circles Apollonian gasket Circumscribed circle Commensurability Diophantine equation Doctrine of proportionality Golden ratio Greek numerals Incircle and excircles of a triangle Method of exhaustion Parallel postulate Platonic solid Lune of Hippocrates Quadratrix of Hippias Regular polygon Straightedge and compass construction Triangle center

Results

In Elements

Angle bisector theorem Exterior angle theorem Euclidean algorithm Euclid's theorem Geometric mean theorem Greek geometric algebra Hinge theorem Inscribed angle theorem Intercept theorem Pons asinorum Pythagorean theorem Thales's theorem Theorem of the gnomon

Apollonius

Apollonius's theorem

Other

Aristarchus's inequality Crossbar theorem Heron's formula Irrational numbers Menelaus's theorem Pappus's area theorem Problem II.8 of Arithmetica Ptolemy's inequality Ptolemy's table of chords Ptolemy's theorem Spiral of Theodorus

Centers

Cyrene Library of Alexandria Platonic Academy

Other

Ancient Greek astronomy Greek numerals Latin translations of the 12th century Neusis construction

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