With Fear for His Own Life: Anaxagoras as a Cosmologist

  • Dirk L. Couprie
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 374)


The dates of Anaxagoras’ life are a matter of dispute. Usually they are given as 500–428 B.C. but the dates 533–462 B.C. have also been defended. According to Diogenes Laertius, Anaxagoras was an apprentice of Anaximenes (literally: he heard Anaximenes), whose death can be dated 524 B.C., and only the latter dates make this at least possible (DK 59A1(6), see Unger 1884: 511–550; Cleve 1973: 2–3). Anaxagoras was born in Clazomenae in Asia Minor, and he bore the nickname “Brains” (Greek: νοῦς) because of his quick mind and great knowledge of the natural phenomena (DK 59A15). The philosophy of Anaxagoras has been subject of many studies, but in the context of this book, I confine myself to his opinions on astronomy and cosmology that have received relatively little attention. Anaxagoras himself did not consider these subjects as the least part of his work. The story says that when someone wondered why he exerted himself spending whole nights outdoors, he looked up to the stars and answered: “to study the cosmos” (Philo, De incorruptibilitate mundi 2, not in DK). On his grave was written: “Here lies Anaxagoras. His image of the order of the universe came closest to the truth” (DK 59A1(15)).


Celestial Body Solar Eclipse Flat Disk Moving Heaven Lunar Eclipse 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dirk L. Couprie
    • 1
  1. 1.MaastrichtNetherlands

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