Philosopher, Mathematician, Physicist, Astronomer, Biologist, Writer, Scholar, Rhetorician, Statesman, Psychologist, Naturalist (384 BC – 322 BC)

Aristotle is one of the most polymath philosophers to have ever come to this world. He has given humanity an immortal consignment, which extends to almost every science and art. He is the founder of the Peripatetic School of Philosophy, which gave birth to Aristotelianism, the philosophy which defines Aristotle. While there have been conflicts throughout the ages between Aristotle’s and Plato’s philosophy, Aristotle does not decline much from Plato’s philosophy. He does not ascend to Plato’s Theory of Ideas, but is most powerful at the level of humanity’s physical field.

He was born in Stagira. At age 17 he went to study philosophy in the Academy of Athens following a pronouncement from the Oracle of Delphi. There he became a student of Plato for almost 20 years. He also took lessons on rhetoric from Isocrates’ school. Following Plato’s death, Aristotle was nominated for successor of the Academy but the position was ultimately taken by Speusippus. Aristotle left for Assos, where he remained for 3 years until he was invited to Mytilene by Theophrastus to work as a teacher. Following an invitation from Philip II of Macedon, Aristotle became a tutor of Alexander the Great for 6 years. He then returned to Athens and founded the Lyceum. It was the start of Aristotelianism.

The Lyceum was founded with the financial aid of Alexander the Great. Aristotle built the first major library of the school, which would become the paradigm of the Library of Alexandria and accumulated important works on natural sciences. The Lyceum was where Aristotle taught his philosophy, which covered a huge spectrum of sciences.

Aristotle was not just a philosopher. He was a scientist, a homo universalis who individualized each science from philosophy and gave it its own standpoint. His attributed works are estimated to have been 400, 142 of which survive. He wrote treatises on philosophy, metaphysics, logic, mathematics, physics, biology, zoology, phytology, politics, ethics, psychology, rhetoric and many more.

According to Aristotle, it is in man’s nature to incline toward knowledge. Science is the main tool by which man achieves knowledge. It differs from art in the sense that science is concerned with knowledge. Its goal is to unveil the unchangeable laws of the universe. Aristotle defined wisdom as the highest perfection of science. It is the knowledge of the primordial causes and principles of the being, the inalterable laws that define the stable nature of the being. To the philosopher, wisdom is achieved when the characteristics of science are raised to their highest possible level. Wisdom (σοφία) is only God’s privilege. If man cannot attain wisdom in its fullness, then he can strive to achieve it by becoming a friend of wisdom, a philosopher (φιλόσοφος). Hence, philosophy is the struggle for wisdom. This struggle equilibrates man with God. Philosophy is man’s ultimate mission and it is in accordance to his nature. It liberates man from his double ignorance. Philosophy, therefore, is only for the free people.

For Aristotle, every science is philosophy. For this reason, he uses the terms science and philosophy interchangeably. Every science and philosophy must be a logos on beings to be worthy of its name. One of his greatest achievements was that he defined how research is conducted to prove a thesis in science. Aristotle’s analysis of the method that sciences use to prove things is the most perfect in scientific thought. For this reason, he is credited as the Father of the methodology of science. He taxonomized sciences into three types: theoretical, practical and poetic. He became the founder of the history of philosophy and the history of sciences as a discipline. Mythology, according to the philosopher himself, is part of philosophy.

Even though Aristotle did not compile detailed studies on mathematics, he was involved in the methodological syntaxis of the mathematical science. In mathematics, he studied the infinite and the continuous function in an innovative way. He also studied astronomy, since it is connected with philosophical cosmogony. His treatise On the Heavens, consisting of 4 books, is an ecthesis of astronomical theories and phenomena. He describes the universe, the planets of the solar system, the shape of the Earth, the stars, geographic and meteorological data, including the theory of chemical change, on comets, meteorites and metals. Some of these were used by Greek Christopher Colombus to travel to the Americas.

Physics, which is the study of nature, was one of Aristotle’s most beloved sciences. Aristotle’s Physics, consisting of 8 books in total, contains his entire works on physics. He dealt with the general method of science and the analytical method of research, provided definitions on nature and a distinction between physics and philosophy. He did extensive research on fundamental notions of kinetics and mechanics such as inertia, the types of movement, circular motion, the relativity of movement, change of matter, dynamic and kinetic energy, time and space relativity, relationship between infinity and the universe, time as a measure, flow of time, on void, matter and laws of gravity. Aristotle also deals with thermodynamics and sets the foundations of modern statistical science. His conclusions are based on mathematical analysis and experiments.

Aristotle is widely acknowledged as the Father of Biology, the one who established biology as a science. He also compiled studies on comparative anatomy, physiology, embryology, zoology and phytology. In his books he mentions over 500 species of animals and devises a system of animal taxonomy. His studies feature remarkable details on the organ function of animals, their movement, their reproduction, their behaviour as well as their inheritance. He studied the phenomena of life and rightly considered that the heart is the center of the soul. It is worth noting that Aristotle founded the first botanical garden in Athens, featuring a myriad of specimens from Europe and Asia, brought to him by Alexander the Great.

One of his greatest works are in the field of metaphysics, so called because they were written after his treatise on physics and nature (Μετὰ τὰ Φυσικά). Metaphysics, of which Aristotle is the founder, is the science of ontology. It did not have the meaning it has today. Aristotle calls his newly established philosophy as the First Philosophy (Πρώτη Φιλοσοφία). Metaphysics or Ontology is the study of ontologic reality, the fundamental principles upon which all sciences are based. It aims to uncover the common characteristics of all beings and to delve into the primordial principles that create the ontologic reality. His 12 books on metaphysics contain a critique on the theory of numbers as well as detailed studies on various topics that today pertain to physics, including energy, movement, matter and heat. Furthermore, it contains mathematical topics on proportionality, symmetry and mathematical axioms.

Aristotle is the most eminent philosopher of ethics, the principle founder of values. In his books Eudemian Ethics, Magna Moralia and Nichomachean Ethics, the latter being his magnum opus as depicted in Raphael’s The School of Athens, the philosopher defines virtue and categorizes it into intellectual and ethical virtues. Ethical virtues concern the emotions and actions of man. They are acquired by means of ethos. They are the mean of the two extreme states that are found on the opposite side, one being excess and the other deficiency. The ethical virtues form a 90 degree angle with both these extreme states. They are twelve in number. Intellectual virtues are acquired by means of learning. They are the virtues of logic and guide man’s emotions and instincts. Aristotle’s theory of ethics, in conjunction with Plato’s works on virtues, is the ultimate guide for achieving a healthful spiritual life.

Aristotle founded yet another philosophical science: Logic, which is one of Aristotle’s greatest contributions to humanity. He was extensively involved in rhetoric, poetry and psychology as well, compiling numerous treatises on the definition and types of souls, psychic characteristics and functions, boulisis and free will. Furthermore, Aristotle expanded significantly epistemology, the branch of philosophy that deals with the validity of science. All of his works are original, innovative and groundbreaking. They are products of Greek Meditation (ΔΙΑ-Λογισμοῦ).

Aristotle remains to this day one of the most prolific and influential philosophers in world history. His massive work evidently shows how much Aristotle was intrigued on issues that concern humanity today. Without his contribution, science would not have existed. International philosophy and scientific nomenclature uses words first defined by Aristotle, such as the word “dynamic” in economics, the words “matter” and “energy” in physics, and the word “continuity” in mathematics. It is impossible to count down all the philosophers that Aristotle has influenced over the millennia. It is worth of mention that Descartes’ quote “I think, therefore I am” is taken directly from Aristotle’s words, who said “When someone has the sensation of himself or someone else’s in continuous time, then it is impossible to not have conscious that he exists”. His ethics are an everlasting inheritance to all mankind. Their goal is for man to attain virtue, which is a prerequisite for a healthy soul. It is thanks to intellectual giants like Aristotle that Greece has held the reins of spiritual leadership of humanity.


  1. Altani. Το Μυστήριον τοῦ Ἀπολλωνίου Φωτός. Georgiades: Athens, 2011. Print.
  2. “Aristotelis”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.
  3. Georgakopoulos, Konstantinos. Ancient Greek Scientists. Georgiades: Athens, 1995. Print.
  4. Pleures, Konstantinos. Greek Philosophers. Hilektron Publications: Athens, 2013. Print.
  5. Stokes, Philip. Philosophy: 100 Essential Thinkers. Phytrakis: Athens, 2002. Print.

Marinus of Tyre

Geographer, Mathematician (c.70 – c.130)

Marinus of Tyre was the greatest geographer of the 1st century and the founder of mathematical geography. He exerted enormous influence on world geography up until the Renaissance. His work, which unfortunately does not survive on its own, was incorporated into Ptolemy’s Geographia in 150, making Marinus’ works available to the world. He is the inventor of the equirectangular projection, a map projection used in navigation.

He was born in Tyrus and lived in Rhodes. He was also a cartographer and a navigation specialist. He compiled a map with cylindrical projection of the entire known world at the time, with great accuracy, described the northern part of Europe and introduced the concept of meridional parts in navigation. This map was the basis of the Mercatorian projection, usurped by Gerhard Mercator. These projections are used in navigation today.

He was the first to devise a system of navigation maps. He established the Canary Islands as the first meridian for the beginning of the measurement of the geographic longitude of the Earth. He named it the Meridian of the Fortunate Isles. He established the meridian that crossed Gibraltar and Rhodes as the beginning for measuring the geographic latitude. In this way, he created the coordinate system where one could locate his position on the map based on the longitude and latitude. Furthermore, he divided the globe into 15 meridians of time and divided the globe’s latitude into 7 zones.

He was a proponent of the geocentric system and accepted Poseidonius’ estimation of the latitude of Rhodes (32.400 km, while in reality 32.000). He calculated the Earth’s circumference as 33.300 km using a system of oblique triangles which he invented. This system is still used today in navigation. In addition, Marinus formulated the use of biogeographic data. Marinus had a particular interest in meteorology. He was the first to come up with the most scientifically correct theory on air formation and flow. The name Antarctica was coined by him.

Marinus’ works were later collected and summarized by Ptolemy in his book Geographia. Ptolemy’s purpose for doing so was to correct some of Marinus’ mistakes and because his works had almost eclipsed. Ptolemy’s admiration for Marinus is evident from the fact that he uses his works as his guide. The first book of Ptolemy’s Geographia is entirely dedicated to Marinus and includes Marinus’ books Geographia and Correction of Geographic Tables. The book was translated into Arabic in the 9th century and into Latin in 1406. Marinus’ map was used by Greek Christopher Colombus in 1492, redesigned by Paolo Toscanelli, for his travels across the Atlantic in 1492. Sadly, even though his work was the most important one in geography for centuries, this giant teacher of Geography was overshadowed by Ptolemy.


  1. Georgakopoulos, Konstantinos. Ancient Greek Scientists. Georgiades: Athens, 1995. Print.
  2. “Marinos o Tyrios”. Helios Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.
Marinus of Tyre



Poet (c.310 BC – c.260 BC)

Theocritus is one of the greatest poets of antiquity. He is the Father of pastoral poetry, the poetry concerned with agricultural life. He flourished during the 3rd century BC in Syracuse, Kos and in Alexandria and surpassed in fame all of his contemporaries including poets Hermisianax, Phanocles, Asclepiades and Aratus.

Almost thirty complete poems survive under Theocritus’ name. It is known that not all of his works survived and that not all of the poems that have survived are definitely written by him. His collection comprises many different types of poetry, including bucolic poetry, hymns, elegies, iambs, mimes, mythological poems and epigrams. His primary works were the bucolic idylls, short poems on agricultural and rural life of shepherds connected with nature.

Some of the most well known poems of Theocritus are the following:

  • Thyrsis is about a shepherd who challenges another shepherd to play music with his flute for the milking of a goat and a cup as a prize, without disturbing Pan’s sleep. Matthew Arnold’s Thyrsis is a direct source of this.
  • Pharmaceutriae is a poem about a woman who falls in love with a man who does not return his love back. Hence, she concocts spells to bring him close to her. The 8th poem of Virgil’s Eclogues is an imitation of this poem, considered to be Theocritus’ best one.
  • Vattos and Corydon, a poem about the conversation of two shepherds who do not get along very well. It served as an influence to the 5th poem of Virgil’s Eclogues.
  • Bucolists or Travellers is a bucolic poem about two shepherd slaves who compete for whoever plays a better flute. As with the previous one, it served as an influence for the 5th poem in Virgil’s Eclogues.
  • Thalysia is about Theocritus’ visit to Alexandria to celebrate the Thalysia, a celebration in honour of Demeter. The 9th poem from Virgil’s Eclogues is an imitation of Thalysia.
  • Daphnis and Menalkas, two shepherds who bet their bids on who is a better singer. Daphnis wins the bet and marries the nymph Naiad. The 7th poem from Virgil’s Eclogues is an imitation of this poem.
  • Cyclops, an idyll about Nicias, a doctor who suffers from love. The poet advises him to imitate the Cyclops Polyphemus, who managed to recover from his love of the nymph Galateia by singing at the top of a mountain. Cyclops is considered to be one of Theocritus’ masterpieces and was imitated again by Virgil in his 2nd poem of Eclogues.
  • Adoniazousai, a poem about the celebration of Adonis.
  • Heracliscus, an epic idyll based on the legend of Heracles.
  • Lover or Diseros, a poem about a man who commits suicide for an unrequited love of a youth. The poem greatly inspired not only Virgil, but also Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Jean de La Fontain for his poem “Daphnis et Alcimadure”.

Theocritus was a master of his work. His poetry is characterized by astounding observation, dramatic talent, grace and sentiment. The characters are portrayed with great realism and simplicity and reflect the every-day lives of both shepherds and urban dwellers truthfully. Theocritus possessed remarkable knowledge on several animals, plants and nature as a whole as evidenced from his poems.

His entire collection contains all the virtues of the ancient Greek poetry, which played an influential role in the Renaissance, serving as the prodrome of Romantic poetry. He is rightfully named as the last of the great poets of the Hellenistic period.


  1. “Theocritos”. Helios new Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas I. Athens, 1946. Print.
  2. Foster, J. Andrew. Theocritus of Syracuse. Oxford Bibliographies. Web.

Demetrius of Phalerum


Philosopher, Rhetorician, Statesman (c.350 BC – c.280 BC)

Demetrius of Phalerum was a statesman, orator, rhetorician and writer, member of the Peripatetic School of philosophy and student of Theophrastus, who served as epistates of Athens under the rule of Cassander. He is best known in history for being one of the greatest rhetoricians and writers of the 4th century BC and the founder of the Library of Alexandria together with Ptolemy I Soter.

As an epistates, he ruled Athens for 10 years, proving to be a skilled governor. He increased the total financial income of Athens, passed into law numerous social innovations, conducted the very first census in recorded history and beautified Athens as a city overall. Legend says that he was so well received by the Athenians that 360 statues of him were made, one for each day of the year, as a token of appreciation.

Demetrius’ role as an epistates of Athens ended in 307 BC when Demetrius the Poliorcetes arrived in Piraeus escorted by 20 ships and took control over Athens. Demetrius of Phalerum initially fled to Thebes and then to Egypt, where he befriended Ptolemy I Soter. Demetrius’ life long dream to create the greatest spiritual center of Hellenism, where all knowledge in the world could be stored in one place earned Ptolemy’s approval and thus, in 300 BC, works for the Library of Alexandria began being implemented.

Having been governor of Athens, Demetrius knew very well the function and organization of a library as he had studied most likely in the Lyceum of Aristotle. In addition to the Library, which would become the storehouse of all knowledge man had acquired at the time, Demetrius founded the “Musaeum”, a university within the Library of Alexandria dedicated to the 9 Muses, based on the principles of the Athenian schools. Undoubtedly, his influence in Alexandria was significant. He was in the epicenter of the spiritual life of Alexandria. He wrote an estimated 45 historical, rhetorical, philosophical and political works, none of which survive today, wrote commentaries and critiques on ancient texts, advocated the translation of Egyptian hieroglyphic chronicles to Greek and encouraged the study of letters in Egypt.

Demetrius of Phalerum inaugurated a new era to the Alexandrians. He transferred his love of letters and knowledge to them, promoting the arts and sciences to a great extent that had never before been done. Many of the Alexandrian philosophers and scientists were influenced by him either directly as students or by means of his works. It is thanks to his efforts that Alexandria became the world’s largest and grandest spiritual center of its time.


    1. “Demetrius Phalereus”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.
    2. Δημήτριος ο Φαληρεύς : Ο φιλόσοφος που διετέλεσε επιμελητής της πόλης των Αθηνών. Αυτόχθονες Ἐλληνες. Web. May 11, 2014.


Demetrius of Phalerum



Philosopher, Physicist, Astronomer (c.585 BC – c.525 BC)

Anaximenes, the third and chronologically last of the great Milesian philosphers, was a pre-Socratic philosopher and student of Anaximander. He exerted important influence on pre-Socratic philosophy with his theory on the genesis of the cosmos. The thesis that air is the origin of life is unique and belongs to him.

Before Socrates, philosophy was almost exclusively focused in studying nature. Hence, philosophers back then were synonymous to physiologists (from φύσις + λόγος/ the science of nature). Anaximenes was primarily influenced by his predecessors Thales and Anaximander but introduced his own principles in philosophy. He believed that air was the first principle and that all life comes from air. He based in theory on 3 observations that he made: 1) Air is the most abundant element in nature, 2) air surrounds everything, 3) without air, every living organism would die. Anaximenes asserted that the quality of matter depends on the different quantity and distribution of air caused by motion. As such, it is the difference of air quantity and distribution that creates different beings. Because the Greeks considered the first principle as God, Anaximenes believed air to be the Divine principle. An ancient writer asserts that Anaximenes indeed believed air to be God

Another theory of Anaximenes was the following: Air lacks characteristics and is invisible when motioness. However, when in motion, it manifests in the form of temperature, humidity and velocity. For example, if air becomes thinner, it turns into fire. If it condenses, it creates clouds that produce water. If condensed even more, water transforms into earth and then stone. According to Anaximenes, all varieties are attributed to motion of air, which creates condensation or dillution.

Apart from philosophy, an indistinguishable part of science at the time, Anaximenes had a particular interest in physics and meteorology. He suggested that the planets are held in place by the atmosphere and that the moon reflects the light of the Sun. He presented correct theories on the formation of snow and hail from frozen rainwater, explained that lightning was formed when air was thinned out to fire, was the first to explain correctly how the rainbow was formed and the first to note that the rainbow could also be formed by the moonlight. Moreover, he attempted to provide an explanation for the earthquakes and the eclipse of the Sun.

In astronomy and cosmogony, he attempted to explain the creation of the universe, creating his own cosmogonic model. He theorized that the Earth, which was created by air, was trapezoid in shape and that the world turns like a mill. The sun and the stars rotated around the Earth like a hat rotates around the head. Much like the Earth, the celestial bodies were flat bodies that floated in air.

Today, even though his theory of air being the primordial element of the world is not accepted as scientifically correct, his influence in philosophy up until the 18th century was significant, especially his meteorological findings. For instance, Stephen Hales in his book “Vegetable Statics” in 1727, influenced by Anaximenes’ theory writes “Air takes part in the composition of bodies wherein it is found in a solid form without its elasticity. Air is the universal link of nature”. The fact that Anaximenes came up with the theory that beings differ from one another due to their difference in air density and distribution makes him the forerunner of the atomic theory.


  1. “Anaximenes”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.
  2. Graham, David. Anaximenes. Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. Web.
  3. Georgakopoulos, Konstantinos. Ancient Greek Scientists. Georgiades, Athens: 1995. Print.
  4. Pleures, Konstantinos. Greek Philosophers. Athens: Hilektron Publications, 2014. Print.


Philosopher, Mathematician, Astronomer, Geographer (c.110 BC – c.40 BC)

Geminus was a polymath from Rhodes. He studied in the philosophic school of Poseidonius and was initiated into the Stoic philosophy. Geminus wrote numerous books on mathematics and astronomy, only fragments of which survive today.

Although he was mistaken for Roman because of his seemingly Latin name, he was purely Greek as his name’s true origin suggests (from γέμος/gemos = φορτίον/ load). His primary field of interest was astronomy and mathematics. He wrote the book Isagogue to the Phenomena or Introduction to Astronomy, which fully survives. It contains the most important theories of ancient Greek astronomy, serving as a simple astronomical textbook. It includes commentaries on the works of Hipparchus, the greatest astronomer who ever lived as well as detailed descriptions on the constellations, the variation of on the length of day and night at different latitudes, rising of the signs of the zodiac cycle and the lunar month’s length. Furthermore, Geminus explains the solar and lunar eclipses, the motion of the planets and the weather prognostications connected with the movement of stars.

His books Epitome on Poseidononius’ Meteorological Explanations and On the order of Mathematics survive only in fragments. The latter is a book on the history of mathematics. It features works on arithmetics and geometry, as well as applied mathematics such as logistics, geodesy, harmony, optics, mechanics and astronomy. In it, Geminus provides historical data on how mathematical terms such as hypothesis, axiom, theorem, figure, angle etc were founded. This mathematic encyclopaedia was one Proclus’ most valuable tools on mathematics since he quotes it extensively in his own works. It was also used extensively by Eutocius and Heron of Alexandria.

Geminus’ mathematical and astronomical work, while not as influential as his predecessors, exerted great influence to the mathematicians and philosophers of the late antiquity. Today, a crater on the moon bears the name “Geminus” in his honour.


  1. D.R. Dicks. Geminus. Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Web.
  2. Georgakopoulos, Konstantinos. Ancient Greek Scientists. Georgiades, Athens: 1995. Print.
  3. Tziropoulou, Anna Eustathiou. Ἀρχιγένεθλος Ἑλληνικὴ Γλῶσσα. Georgiades, Athens: 2011. Print.
  4. J J O’Connor, E F Robertson. Geminus. University of St. Andrews, Scotland. Web.


Engineer (6th century BC)

Eupalinos was an engineer from Megara, best known for his monumental engineering achievement, the Eupalinian aqueduct, a 1 km tunnel dug through a mountain.

During the 6th century BC, the tyrant of Samos Polycrates requested the construction of an underground aqueduct that would supply water to his city. The tunnel would have to be underground in order to prevent any possible siege from pirates while also providing possible retreat to citizens. This meant that the tunnel had to cross a total distance of 1 km under a 250 meter mountain. Polycrates hired the only engineer he considered capable of constructing it, Eupalinos.

To achieve this difficult task, Eupalinos used the necessary geometric solutions to figure out the tunnel’s route and angle. What is astounding for its time, is that the tunnel was simultaneously excavated from both ends of mount Castro (amphistomon), meeting at the middle.  He used trigonometry to measure the distances around the mountain and calculated the exact course of the tunnel from both ends. Eupalinos then charted the tunnel’s route on top of the mountain in order to keep track of its construction underground.

The construction was done using simply picks, chisels and hammers. The tunnel’s height and width were 1,80 m and 1,80 m respectively (5.9 ft).  To avoid subsidence, he added curves rock plaques on the ceiling that formed an arch. To measure the distances, the workers wrote the decadic numerals of the Greek alphabet every 10 fathoms. He also built a small 70 cm trench where pipes were placed to carry the water to the city. The pipe channel extended outside the tunnel from both ends, covering a total distance of 2,5 km. He gave it a small inclination  in order for the water to flow constantly.

The tunnel was completed between 550 and 530 BC and came to be known as Eupalinian aqueduct. It took a total of 10 years and 4000 workers to complete. Proud of his achievement, Eupalinos wrote the word ”ΠΑΡΑΔΕΓΜΑ” inside the tunnel, which means ”example” or ”model”. Ultimately, it covered a distance of 1 km under the 250 meter mount Castro. It was used extensively to carry water to the city of Samos for 1100 years, until it was abandoned during the Byzantine era.

Today it stands in the exact same way it was designed and constructed. It stands as a marvel of human engineering and Eupalinos is considered one of the greatest engineers in human history.


  1. “Eupalinos”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.
  2. NIKitas Mikas. ”Τα μαθηματικά υδρεύουν τη Σάμο”. Online posting. Youtube, 9 Mar. 2013. Web. 30 Jun. 2017.
  3. Πηλεύς Ορέστης. ”Ευπαλινειον Όρυγμα στη Σάμο The Eupalinos Tunnel Samos”. Online posting. Youtube, 1 Jun. 2010. Web. 30 Jun. 2017.