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Ἀγαθαρχίδης), or AGATHARCHUS (Ἀγάθαρχος), a Greek grammarian, born at Cnidos. He was brought up by a man of the name of Cinnaeus; was, as Strabo (xvi. p.779) informs us, attached to the Peripatetic school of philosophy, and wrote several historical and geographical works. In his youth he held the situation of secretary and reader to Heraclides Lembus, who (according to Suidas) lived in the reign of Ptolemy Philometor. This king died B. C. 146. He himself informs us (in his work on the Erythraean Sea), that he was subsequently guardian to one of the kings of Egypt during his minority. This was no doubt one of the two sons of Ptolemy Physcon. Dodwell endeavours to shew that it was the younger son, Alexander, and objects to Soter, that he reigned conjointly with his mother. This, however, was the case with Alexander likewise. Wesseling and Clinton think the elder brother to be the one meant, as Soter II. was more likely to have been a minor on his accession in B. C. 117, than Alexander in B. C. 107, ten years after their father's death. Moreover Dodwell's date would leave too short an interval between the publication of Agatharchides's work on the Erythraean Sea (about B. C. 113), and the work of Artemidorus.


An enumeration of the works of Agatharchides is given by Photius (Phot. Bibl. 213). He wrote a work on Asia, in 10 books, and one on Europe, in 49 books; a geographical work on the Erythraean Sea, in 5 books, of the first and fifth books of which Photius gives an abstract; an epitome of the last mentioned work; a treatise on the Troglodytae, in 5 books; an epitome of the Αὐδή of Antimachus; an epitome of the works of those who had written περὶ τῆς συναγωγῆς θαυμασίων ἀνέμων; an historical work, from the 12th and 30th books of which Athenaeus quotes (xii. p. 527b. vi. p. 251f.); and a treatise on the intercourse of friends.

The first three of these only had been read by Photius.

On the Erythraean Sea

Agatharchides composed his work on the Erythraean Sea, as he tells us himself, in his old age (p. 14, ed. Huds.), in the reign probably of Ptolemy Soter II. It appears to have contained a great deal of valuable matter. In the first book was a discussion respecting the origin of the name. In the fifth he described the mode of life amongst the Sabaeans in Arabia, and the Ichthyophagi, or fish-eaters, the way in which elephants were caught by the elephant-eaters, and the mode of working the gold mines in the mountains of Egypt, near the Red Sea. His account of the Ichthyophagi and of the mode of working the gold mines, has been copied by Diodorus. (3.12-18.) Amongst other extraordinary animals he mentions the camelopard, which was found in the country of the Troglodytae, and the rhinoceros.


Agatharchides wrote in the Attic dialect. His style, according to Photius, was dignified and perspicuous, and abounded in sententious passages, which inspired a favourable opinion of his judgment. In the composition of his speeches he was an imitator of Thucydides, whom he equalled in dignity and excelled in clearness. His rhetorical talents also are highly praised by Photius. He was acquainted with the language of the Aethiopians (de Rubr. M. p. 46), and appears to have been the first who discovered the true cause of the yearly inundations of the Nile. (Diod. 1.41.)

Agatharchides of Samos

An Agatharchides, of Samos, is mentioned by Plutarch, as the author of a work on Persia, and one περὶ λίθων. Fabricius, However, conjectures that the true reading is Agathyrsides, not Agatharchides. (Dodwell in Hudson's Geogr. Script. Gr. Minores; Clinton, Fasti Hell. iii p. 535.) [C.P.M]

First Mention of the Guinea Worm

There is a curious observation by Agatharchides preserved by Plutarch (Sympos. 8.9.3), of the species of worm called Filaria Medinensis, or Guinea Worm, which is the earliest account of it that is to be met with. See Justus Weihe, De Filar. Medin. Comment., Berol. 1832, 8vo., and especially the very learned work by G. H Welschins, De Vena Medinensi, &c., August. Vindel. 1674, 4to


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