Chapter 8. EUDOXUS (c. 407-357 B.C.)
of Cnidos, the son of Aeschines, was an astronomer, a geometer, a
physician and a legislator. He learned geometry from Archytas and
medicine from Philistion the Sicilian, as Callimachus tells us in
Sotion in his Successions of Philosophers
says that he was also a
pupil of Plato. When he was about twenty-three years old and in
straitened circumstances, he was attracted by the reputation of the
Socratics and set sail for Athens with Theomedon the physician,
who provided for his wants. Some even say that he was Theomedon's
favourite. Having disembarked at Piraeus he went up every day to
Athens and, when he had attended the Sophists' lectures, returned
again to the port.
After spending two months there, he went home
and, aided by the liberality of his friends, he proceeded to Egypt
with Chrysippus the physician, bearing with him letters of
introduction from Agesilaus
to Nectanabis, who
recommended him to the priests. There he remained one year and four
months with his beard and eyebrows shaved, and there, some say, he
wrote his Octaëteris.
From there he went to
Cyzicus and the Propontis, giving lectures ; afterwards he came to
the court of Mausolus. Then at length he returned to Athens,
bringing with him a great number of pupils : according to some, this
was for the purpose of annoying Plato, who had originally passed him
Some say that, when
Plato gave a banquet, Eudoxus, owing to the numbers present,
introduced the fashion of arranging couches in a semicircle.
Nicomachus, the son of Aristotle, states that he declared pleasure
to be the good.2
He was received in
his native city with great honour, proof of this being the decree
concerning him. But he also became famous throughout Greece, as
legislator for his fellow-citizens, so we learn from Hermippus in
his fourth book On the Seven Sages,
and as the
author of astronomical and geometrical treatises and other important
He had three daughters, Actis, Philtis and Delphis.
Eratosthenes in his writings addressed to Baton tells us that he
also composed Dialogues of Dogs ; others say that they were written
by Egyptians in their own language and that he translated them and
published them in Greece. Chrysippus of Cnidos, the son of Erineus,
attended his lectures on the gods, the world, and the phenomena of
while in medicine he was the pupil
of Philistion the Sicilian.
Eudoxus also left some excellent
commentaries. He had a son Aristagoras, who had a son Chrysippus,
the pupil of Aëthlius. To this Chrysippus we owe a medical work on
the treatment of the eye, speculations upon nature having occupied
Three men have borne the name of Eudoxus : (1) our
present subject ; (2) a historian, of Rhodes ; (3) a Sicilian Greek,
the son of Agathocles, a comic poet, who three times won the prize
in the city Dionysia and five times at the Lenaea, so we are told by
Apollodorus in his Chronology.
We also find
another physician of Cnidos mentioned by Eudoxus3
in his Geography
as advising people to be always
exercising their limbs by every form of gymnastics, and their
sense-organs in the same way.
The same authority,
Apollodorus, states that Eudoxus of Cnidos flourished about the
and that he
discovered the properties of curves. He died in his fifty-third
year. When he was in Egypt with Chonuphis of Heliopolis, the sacred
bull Apis licked his cloak. From this the priests foretold that he
would be famous but shortlived, so we are informed by Favorinus in
There is a poem of our
own upon him, which runs thus5
It is said that at Memphis
Eudoxus learned his coming fate from the bull with beautiful horns.
No words did it utter ; for whence comes speech to a bull? Nature
provide the young bull Apis with a
chattering tongue. But, standing sideways by him, it licked his
robe, by which it plainly prophesied "you shall soon die."
Whereupon, soon after, this fate overtook him, when he had seen
fifty-three risings of the Pleiades.
Eudoxus used to be
(illustrious) instead of Eudoxus
by reason of his brilliant reputation.
Having now dealt with
the famous Pythagoreans, let us next discuss the so-called
"sporadic" philosophers. And first we must speak of