Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, JoAnn Palmeri, Daniel W. E. Green

Synesius of Cyrene

Reference work entry

BornCyrene (near Darnah, Libya), circa365–370

DiedPtolemaïs (near Al Marj, Libya), circa413

Synesius of Cyrene figured prominently in the literary, philosophical, scientific, and religious culture of the Greek east of Late Antiquity, playing a leading role on the contemporary political and historical stage. He also wrote a description of an astrolabe and encouraged the study of the heavens in order to know the divine.

Synesius’s birth date remains conjectural. He spent his youth in Cyrenaica, receiving a classically grounded education typical of the landed aristocracy. Sometime after 390 he began the study of philosophy, mathematics, and the sciences in Alexandria with the Neoplatonist  Hypatia, with whom he maintained close personal contact throughout his life. After several years in Alexandria, Synesius returned home, but soon traveled to Constantinople on diplomatic business on behalf of his province.

Synesius remained in the imperial capital until 402. While involved in the affairs...

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Selected References

  1. Bregman, Jay (1982). Synesius of Cyrene, Philosopher-Bishop. Berkeley: University of California Press. (Concentrates on philosophical, political, and religious dimensions.)Google Scholar
  2. Cameron, Alan and Jacqueline Long (1993). Barbarians and Politics at the Court of Arcadius. Berkeley: University of California Press. (The most comprehensive biographical and analytical treatment of Synesius yet to appear.)Google Scholar
  3. Dzielska, Maria (1995). Hypatia of Alexandria. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. (For informative discussions of Synesius’s relationship to Hypatia and her philosophical and scientific circle.)Google Scholar
  4. Fitzgerald, Augustine (1926). The Letters of Synesius of Cyrene. London: Oxford University Press. (Reprint, 1980.)Google Scholar
  5. — (1930). The Essays and Hymns of Synesius of Cyrene. London: Oxford University Press. (Reprint, 1983.)Google Scholar
  6. Garzya, A. (1979). Synesii Cyrenensis epistolae. Rome: Typis officinae polygraphicae.Google Scholar
  7. Migne, J. P. (1864). Patrologia Graeca. Vol. 66. Paris: Migne (self-published). (For Synesius’s complete works in the original Greek.)Google Scholar
  8. Neugebauer, Otto (1949). “The Early History of the Astrolabe.” Isis 40: 240–256. (Reprinted in Neugebauer, Astronomy and History: Selected Essays. New York: Springer-Verlag, pp. 278–294.) (A comprehensive explanation of Synesius’s astrolabe in the Ad Paeonium de dono.)Google Scholar
  9. — (1975). A History of Ancient Mathematical Astronomy. 3 pts. New York: Springer-Verlag, pt. 2, pp. 876–877. (For a critique of Synesius’s scientific abilities.)Google Scholar
  10. Pando, José C. (1940). “The Life and Times of Synesius of Cyrene as Revealed in His Works.” Ph.D. diss., Catholic University of America: Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of American Press. (Extracts of descriptive information from all of his works.)Google Scholar
  11. Terzaghi, N. (1939). Synesii Cyrenensis hymni. Rome: Typis Officianae Polygraphicae.Google Scholar
  12. — (1944). Synesii Cyrenensis opuscula. Rome.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lemoyne UniversitySyracuseUSA