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Heracleides Ponticus

Ἡρακλείδης), son of Euthyphron or Euphron, born at Heracleia, in Pontus, and said by Suidas to have been descended from Damis, one of those who originally led the colony from Thebes to Heracleia. He was a person of considerable wealth, and migrated to Athens, where he became a pupil of Plato, and Suidas says that, during Plato's absence in Sicily, his school was left under the care of Heracleides. He paid attention also to the Pythagorean system, and afterwards attended the instructions of Speusippus, and finally of Aristotle. He appears to have been a vain and luxurious man, and so fat, that the Athenians punned on his surname, Ποντικός, and turned it into Πομπικός.


Diogenes Laertius (5.186, &c.) gives a long list of his writings, from which it appears that he wrote upon philosophy, mathematics, music, history, politics, grammar, and poetry; but unfortunately almost all these works are lost.

περὶ Πολιτειῶν

There has come down to us a small work, under the name of Heracleides, entitled περὶ Πολιτειῶν which is perhaps an exatract from the περὶ Νόμων καὶ τῶν Συγγενῶν τούτοις mentioned by Diogenes, though others conjecture that it is the work of another person.


It was first printed with Aelian's Variae Historiae, at Rome in 1545, afterwards at Geneva, 1593, edited by Cragius, but the best editions are by Köler, with an introduction, notes, and a German translation, Halle, 1804, and by Coraes, in his edition of Aelian, Paris, 1805, 8vo.

Ἀλληγορίαι Ὁμηρικαί

Another extant work, Ἀλληγορίαι Ὁμηρικαί, which also bears the name of Heracleides, was certainly not written by him.


This was first printed with a Latin translation by Gesner, Basel, 1544, and afterwards with a German trans lation by Schulthess, Zürich, 1779.


We further read in Diogenes (on the authority of Aristoxenus, surnamed μουσικός, also a scholar of Aristotle), that " Heracleides made tragedies, and put the name of Thespis to them." This sentence has given ccasion to a learned disquisition by Bentley (Phalaris, p. 239), to prove that the fragments attributed to Thespis are really cited from these counterfeit tragedies of Heracleides. The genuineness of one fragment he disproves by showing that it contains a sentiment belonging strictly to Plato, and which therefore may naturally be attributed to Heracleides.

Other Anecdotes

Some childish stories are told about Heracleides keeping a pet serpent, and ordering one of his friends to conceal his body after his death, and place the serpent on the bed, that it might be supposed that he had been taken to the company of the gods. It is also said, that he killed a man who had usurped the tyranny in Heracleia, and there are other traditions about him, scarcely worth relating.

Another Heracleides Ponticus

There was also another Heracleides Ponticus of the same town of Heracleia, a grammarian, who lived at Rome in the reign of the emperor Claudius. The titles of many of his works are mentioned by Diogenes and Suidas.

Further Information

Vossius, de Histor. Graec. p. 78, &c. Köler, Fragmenta de Rebus publicis, Hal. Sax. 1804; Roulez, Commentatio de Vita et Scriptis Heraclidue Pontic., Lovanii, 1828; Deswert, Dissertatio de Heraclide Pont., Lovanii, 1830.


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