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*(/Ipparxos). We must give a few words to the explanation of our reason for deferring all such account of Hipparchus as his fame requires to another article. The first and greatest of Greek astronomers has left no work of his own which would entitle him to that character: it is entirely to Ptolemy that our knowledge of him is due. In this respect, the parallel is very close between him and two others of his race, each one of the three being the first of his order in point of time. Aesop and Menander would only have been known to us by report or by slight fragments, if it had not been for Phaedrus and Terence: it would have been the same with Hipparchus if it had not been for Ptolemy. Had it happened that Hipparchus had had two names, by the second of which Ptolemy, and Ptolemy only, had referred to him, we should have had no positive method of identifying the great astronomer with the writer of the commentary on Aratus. And if by any collateral evidence a doubt had been raised whether the two were not the same, it would probably have been urged with success that it was impossible the author of so comparatively slight a production could have been the sagacious mathematician and diligent observer who, by uniting those two characters for the first time, raised astronomy to that rank among the applications of arithmetic and geometry which it has always since preserved. This is the praise to which the Hipparchus of the Syntaxis is entitled; and as this can only be gathered from Ptolemy, it will be convenient to refer the most important part of the account of the former to the life of the latter; giving, in this place, only as much as can be gathered from other sources. And such a course is rendered more desirable by the circumstance that the boundary between the discoveries of Hipparchus and those of Ptolemy himself is in several points a question which can only be settled from the writings of the latter, if at all.

Strabo, Suidas, &c., state that Hipparchus was of Nicaea, in Bithynia; and Ptolemy (De Adpar. Inerrant. sub fin.), in a list in which he has expressly pointed out the localities in which astronomers made their observations, calls him a Bithynian. But the same Ptolemy (Syntax. lib. v. p. 299, ed. Halma) states that Hipparchus himself has noted his own observation of the sun and moon, made at Rhodes in the 197th year after the death of Alexander. Hence some have made the Rhodian and the Bithynian to be two different persons, without any reasonable foundation. There is a passage in the Syntaxis (lib. iii. p. 60, ed. Halma), from which Delambre (Astron. Anc. Disc. Prel. xxiv. and vol. ii. p. 108) found it difficult to avoid inferring that Ptolemy asserted Hipparchus to have also observed at Alexandria, which had been previously asserted, on the same ground, by Weidler and others. But he afterwards remembered that Ptolemy always supposes Rhodes and Alexandria to be in the same longitude, and therefore compares times of observation at the two places without reduction.

As to the time at which Hipparchus lived, Suidas places him at from B. C. 160 to B. C. 145, but without naming these epochs as those of his birth and death. Of his life and opinions, independently of the astronomical details in the Syntaxis, we know nothing more than is contained in a passage of Pliny (H.N. 2.26), who states that the attention of Hipparchus 1 was first directed to the construction of a catalogue of stars by the appearance of a new star, and a moving one (perhaps a comet of unusually star-like appearance). Hence he dared, rem Dco improbam, to number the stars, and assign their places and magnitudes, that his successors might detect new appearances, disappearances, motion, or change of magnitude, coelo in haereditate canctis relicto. Bayle has a curious mistake in the interpretation of a part of this passage. He tells us that Hipparchus thought the souls of men to be of celestial origin, for which he cites Pliny as follows: " Idem Hipparchus nunquam satis laudatus, ut quo nemo magis approbaverit cognationem cum homine siderunli, animasque nostras partem esse coeli." This means, of course, that Pliny thought that no one had done more than Hipparchus to show the heavenly origin of the human mind.


The following are a list of writings attributed to Hipparchus:--

1. Περὶ τῶν ἁπλανῶν ἀναγραφαί

Περὶ τῶν ἁπλανῶν ἀναγραφαί, mentioned by Ptolemy (lib. vii.). A work was added, under the name of Hipparchus, by P. Victor, to his edition of the comment on Aratus, presently mentioned, under the title ἔκθεσις ἀστερισμῶν, which is nothing more than an extract from the seventh book of the Syntaxis. Suidas and Eudocia mention a work with the following title, περὶ τῆς τῶν ἀπλανῶν συντάξεως καὶ τοῦ καταστηριγμοῦ καὶ εἰς τοὺς ἀρίστους (ἀστερισμούς ?), which may be the same as the above.

2. Περὶ μεγεθῶν καὶ ἀποστημάτων

Περὶ μεγεθῶν καὶ ἀποστημάτων, mentioned by Pappus and Theon. A further account of this work is given under PTOLEMAEUS. Kepler had a manuscript, which Fabricius seems to imply was this work, and which was to have been published by Hansch, but which did not appear.


De duodecim Signorum Adscensione, mentioned by Pappus.

4. Περὶ τῆς κατὰ πλάτος μηνιαίας τῆς σελήνης κινήσεως

Περὶ τῆς κατὰ πλάτος μηνιαίας τῆς σελήνης κινήσεως, mentioned by Suidas and Eudocia.

5. Περὶ μηνιαίου χρόνου

Περὶ μηνιαίου χρόνου, mentioned by Galen.

6. Περὶ ἐνιαυσίου μεγέθους

Περὶ ἐνιαυσίου μεγέθους, mentioned by Ptolemy.

7. Περὶ τῆς μεταπτώσεως τῶν τροπικῶν καὶ ἰσημερινῶν σημείων

Περὶ τῆς μεταπτώσεως τῶν τροπικῶν καὶ ἰσημερινῶν σημείων, mentioned by Ptolemy.

8. Τῶν Ἀράτου καὶ Εὐδόξου φαινομένων ἐξηγήσεων βιβλία γ́.

This is the comment alluded to in ARATUS. It has always been received as the undoubted work of Hipparchus, though beyond all question it must have been written before any of his great discoveries had been made. Nevertheless, it may be said of this criticism, that it is far superior to any thing which had then been written on astronomy, or which was written before the time of Ptolemy by any but Hipparchus himself. Delambre has given a minute account of its contents (Astron. Anc. vol. i. pp. 106-189): he remarks that the places of the stars, as known to Hipparchus when he wrote it, are not quite so good as those of his subsequent catalogue, which can be recovered from the Syntaxis; this is equivalent to saying that they are much better than those of his predecessors. The comparison of Eudoxus and Aratus, which runs throughout this work, constitutes the best knowledge we have of the former. [EUDOXUS]. We cannot but suppose that the fact of this being the only remaining work of Hipparchus must arise from the Syntaxis containing the substance of all the rest: this one, of course, would live as a criticism on a work so well known as that of Aratus.


The Syntaxi has been twice published: once by P. Victor, Florence, 1567, folio, and again by Petavius in his Uranologion, Paris, 1630, folio.

9. Πρὸς τὸν Ἐρατοσθένην καὶ τὰ ἐν τῇ Γεωγραφίᾳ αὐτοῦ λεχθέντα

Πρὸς τὸν Ἐρατοσθένην καὶ τὰ ἐν τῇ Γεωγραφίᾳ αὐτοῦ λεχθέντα, a criticism censured by Strabo, and approved by Pliny.

10. Βιβλίον περὶ τῶν διὰ βάρους κάτω φερομένων

Βιβλίον περὶ τῶν διὰ βάρους κάτω φερομένων, cited by Simplicius.

11. περὶ ἐκλείψεων ἡλίου κατὰ τὰ ἑπτὰ κλίματα

Achilles Tatius says that Hipparchus and others wrote περὶ ἐκλείψεων ἡλίου κατὰ τὰ ἑπτὰ κλίματα, from which we cannot infer that this is the title of a work.

Further Information

Ptolem. Syntaxis; Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. iv, p. 26, &c.; Petavius, Uranologion; Weidler, Hist. Astron. ; Delambre, Hist. de l'Astronom. Anc. vol. i.pp. 6, 106, &c., Discours. prélimin. p. xxi.; Bailly, Hist. de l'Astronom. modern vol. i. p. 77; Montucla, Hist. de Mathemat. vol. i. p. 257. &c. Gartz in Ersch and Gruber's Encyclop. s. v.; Marcoz, Astronomie solaire d'Hipparque soumise à une critique rigoreuse et ensuite rendue à sa nérité primordiale, Paris, 1828.

[A. DE M.]

1 * It was a similar circumstance which gave as remarkable an impulse to the astronomical career of Tycho Brahe, whose merits, as far as practical astronomy is concerned, much resemble those of Hipparchus. It is frequently stated that both were originally led to astronomy by the sight of new stars, which is certainly not true of the former, nor have we any reason to infer it from what Pliny says of the latter.

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