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Biographies (22)

Philosophers

Embedocles the Acragantinus

, , 490 - 430
   (Empedokles). A native of Agrigentum in Sicily, who flourished about B.C. 450. He was distinguished not only as a philosopher, but also for his knowledge of natural history and medicine, and as a poet and statesman. After the death of his father Meto, who was a wealthy citizen of Agrigentum, he acquired great weight among his fellow-citizens by espousing the popular party and favouring democratic measures. [p. 591]    His consequence in the State became at length so great that he ventured to assume several of the distinctions of royalty, particularly a purple robe, a golden girdle, a Delphic crown, and a train of attendants. The skill which he possessed in medicine and natural philosophy enabled him to perform many wonders, which he passed upon the superstitious and credulous multitude for miracles. He pretended to drive away noxious winds from his country and thereby put a stop to epidemic diseases. He is said to have checked, by the power of music, the madness of a young man who was threatening his enemy with instant death; to have restored a woman to life who had lain breathless thirty days; and to have done many other things, equally astonishing, after the manner of Pythagoras. On account of all this he was an object of universal admiration. Besides medical skill Empedocles possessed poetical talents. The fragments of his verses are scattered throughout the ancient writers; and Fabricius is of opinion that he was the real author of those ancient fragments which bear the name of the "Golden Verses of Pythagoras," and may be found printed at the end of Gottling's edition of Hesiod. His principal works were a didactic poem on Nature (Peri Phuseos), and another entitled Katharmoi, which seems to have recommended virtuous conduct as a means of averting disease. Gorgias of Leontini, the well-known orator, known as "the Nihilist," was his pupil, whence it may seem reasonable to infer that Empedocles was no inconsiderable master of the art of eloquence. According to the common account he threw himself into the burning crater of Aetna, in order that the manner of his death might not be known, and that he might afterwards pass for a god; but the secret was discovered by means of one of his brazen sandals, which was thrown out from the mountain in a subsequent eruption of the volcano. This story is rejected, however, as fictitious by Strabo and other writers. According to Aristotle he died at sixty years of age.
    His views in philosophy are variously given. By some he is called a Pythagorean, in consequence of a resemblance of doctrine in a few unessential points. But the principles of his theory evidently show that he belongs to the Eleatic School. Empedocles taught that originally All was one, a God eternal and at rest; a sphere and a mixture (sphairos, migma), without a vacuum, in which the elements of things were held together in undistinguishable confusion by love (philia), the primal force which unites the like to like. In a portion of this whole, however, or, as he expresses it, in the members of the Deity, strife (neikos), the force which binds like to unlike, prevailed, and gave the elements a tendency to separate themselves, whereby the first became perceptible as such, although the separation was not so complete but that each contained portions of the others. Hence arose the multiplicity of things. By the vivifying counteraction of love, organic life was produced, not, however, so perfect and so full of design as it now appears; but, at first, single limbs, then irregular combinations, till ultimately they received their present adjustments and perfection. But, as the forces of love and hate are constantly acting upon each other for generation or destruction, the present condition of things cannot persist forever, and the world which, properly, is not the All, but only the ordered part of it, will again be reduced to a chaotic unity, out of which a new system will be formed, and so on forever. There is no real destruction of anything, but only a change of combinations.
    Of the elements (which he seems to have been the first to describe as four distinct species of matter), fire, as the rarest and most powerful, he held to be the chief, and, consequently, the soul of all sentient and intellectual beings which issue from the central fire, or soul of the world. The soul migrates through animal and vegetable bodies in atonement for some guilt committed in its unembodied state when it is a daemon, of which he supposed that an infinite number existed. The seat of a daemon, when in a human body, is the blood. Closely connected with this view of the objects of knowledge was his theory of human knowledge. In the impure separation of the elements it is only the predominant one that the senses can apprehend; and, consequently, though man can know all the elements of the whole singly, he is unable to see them in their perfect unity, wherein consists their truth. Empedocles therefore rejects the testimony of the senses, and maintains that pure intellect alone can arrive at a knowledge of the truth. This is the attribute of the Deity, for man cannot overlook the work of love in all its extent; and the true unity is open only to itself. Hence he was led to distinguish between the world as presented to our senses (kosmos aisthetos) and its type, the intellectual world (kosmos noetos). Lucretius, who praises Empedocles highly even while criticising his philosophy, appears to have taken him as a model.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Editor's Information
The e-texts of the works by Embedocles are found in Greece (ancient country) under the category Ancient Greek Writings.

Empedocles, (Empedokles), of Acragas (Agrigentum), in Sicily, flourished about Olymp. 84, or B. C. 444. (Diog. Laert. viii. 74; comp. 51, 52; Simon Karsten, Empedoclis Agrigent. Carmin. Reliquiae.) His youth probably fell in the time of the glorious rule of Theron, from Ol. 73 to 01. 77; and although he was descended from an ancient and wealthy family (Diog. Laert. viii. 51), Empedocles with enthusiasm joined the revolution--as his father, Meton, had probably done before--in which Thrasydaeus, the son and successor of Theron, was expelled, and which became the watchword for the other Greek towns to shake off the yoke of their monarchs. (Diog. Laert. viii. 72.) His zeal in the establishment of political equality is said to have been manifested by his magnanimous support of the poor (ibid. 73), by his inexorable severity in persecuting the overbearing conduct of the aristocrats (Timaeus, ap. Diog. L. viii. 64, comp. 65, 66), and in his declining the sovereignty which was offered to him. (Aristot. ap. Diog. viii. 63; compare, however, Timaeus, ibid. 66, 76 ) His brilliant oratory (Satyr ap. Diog. viii. 58; Timaeus, ibid. 67), his penetrating knowledge of nature and of circumstances, and the reputation of his marvellous powers, which he had acquired by curing diseases, by his successful exertions in removing marshy districts, averting epidemics and obnoxious winds (Diog. Laert. viii. 60, 70, 69; Plut de Curios. Princ., adv. Col.; Plin. H. N. xxxvi. 27, and others), spread a lustre around his name, which induced Timaeus and other historians to mention him more frequently. Although he himself may have been innocent of the name of "averter" or "controller of storms" (kolusanemas, alexanemas) and of a magician (goes), which were given to him (Karsten, l. c.), still he must have attributed to himself miraculous powers, if in the beginning of his Kathapmoi he said of himself--he may, however, have been speaking in the name of some assistant daemon--" An immortal god, and no longer a mortal man, I wander among you, honoured by all, adorned with priestly diadems and blooming wreaths; to whatever illustrious towns I go, I am praised by men and women, and accompanied by thousands, who thirst for deliverance, sone being desirous to know the future. others remedies for diseases," &c. (Karsten, v. 392, &c.; compare the accounts of the ostentation and haughtiness of Empedocles.) In like manner he promises remedies against the power of evil and of old age; he pretends to teach men how to break the vehemence of the unwearied winds, and how to call them forth again; how to obtain from dark rainy clouds useful drought, and tree-feeding rivers from the drought of summer (ibid. v. 425, &c.),-- promises and pretensions, perhaps, expressive of his confidence in the infant science, which had only commenced its development, rather than in his own personal capability. With equal pride he celebrates the wisdom of the man-the ancient historians themselves did not know whether he meant Pythagoras or Parmenides--who, possessed of the richest mental and intellectual treasures, easily perceived everything in all nature, whenever with the full energy of his mind he attempted to do so (Ibid. v. 440, &c.) The time was one of a varied and lively mental movement, and Empedocles was acquainted or connected by friendship with the physicians Acron and Pausanias (Diog. Laert. viii. 60, 61, 65, 69; Plut. de Is. et Os.; Plin H. N. xxix. 3; Suid s. v.; comp. Fragm. v. 54, 433, &c.), with Pythagoreans, and it is said with Parmenides and Anaxagoras also (Diog. Laert. viii. 55, 56, &c.); and persons being carried away by that movement, believed themselves to be the nearer the goal the less clearly they perceived the way that led to it, and they regarded a perfect power over nature as the necessary consequence of a perfect knowledge of it.
  Timaeus and Dicaearchus had spoken of the journey of Empedocles to Peloponnesus, and of the admiration which was paid to him there (Diog. Laert. viii. 71, 67; Athen. xiv.); others mentioned his stay at Athens, and in the newlyfounded colony of Thurii, B. C. 446 (Suid s. v. Akron; Diog. Laert. viii. 52); but it was only untrustworthy historians that made him travel in the east as far as the Magi. (Plin H. N. xxx. 1, &c.) His death is said to have been marvellous, like his life : a tradition, which is traced to Heracleides Ponticus, a writer fond of wonderful things, represented him as having been removed from the earth, like a divine being; another said that he had perished in the flames of mount Aetna. (Diog. Laert. viii. 67, 69, 70, 71; Hor ad Pison. 464, &c.) But it is attested by the authority of Aristotle, that he died at the age of sixty, and the statements of later writers, who extend his life further, cannot be set up against such a testimony. (Apollon ap. Diog. Laert. viii. 52, comp. 74, 73.) Among the disciples of Empedocles none is mentioned except Gorgias, the sophist and rhetorician, whose connexion with our philosopher seems to be alluded to even by Plato. (Diog. Laert. viii. 58; Karsten, p. 56,&c.) Among the works attributed to Empedocles, and which were all metrical compositions, we can form an opinion only on his Kaqarmoi/ and his didactic poem on Nature, and on the latter work only from the considerable fragments still extant. It consisted of 2000 hexameter verses, and was addressed to the above-mentioned Pausanias,--its division into three books was probably made by later grammarians. Diog. Laert. viii. 77 : Karston.) The Katharmoi, a poem said to have consisted of 3000 verses, seems to have recommended particularly a good moral conduct as the means of averting epidemics and other evils. (See the fragments in Karsten, p. 144, vers. 403, &c.; comp. Aristot. Eth. Nic. vii. 5; Eudem. vi. 3.) Empedocles was undoubtedly acquainted with the didactic poems of Xenophanes and Parmenides (Hermiipp. and Theophrast ap. Dioq. Laert. viii. 55, 56)--allusions to the latter can be pointed out in the fragments,--but he seems to have surpassed them in the animation and richness of his style, and in the clearness of his descriptions and diction; so that Aristotle, though, on the one hand, he acknowledged only the metre as a point of comparison between the poems of Emnpedocles and the epics of Homer, yet, on the other hand, had characterised Empedocles as Homeric and powerful in his diction (Poet. 1, ap. Diog. Laert. viii. 57.) Lucretius, the greatest of all didactic poets, speaks of him with enthusiasm, and evidently marks him as his model. (See especially Lucret. i. 727, &c.) We are indebted for the first comprehensive collection of the fragments of Empedocles, and of a careful collection of the testimonies of the ancients concerning his doctrines, to Fr. W Sturz (Empedocles Agrigentinus, Lipsine, 1805), and lately Simon Karsten has greatly distinguished himself for what he has done for the criticism and explanation of the text, as well as for the light he has thrown on separate doctrines. (Philosophorum Graecorum veterum reliquiae, vol. ii., containing Empedoclis Agrigentini Carmin. Reliquiae, Amstelodami, 1838.)
  Acquainted as Empedocles was with the theories of the Eleatics and the Pythagoreans, he did not adopt the fundamental principles either of the one or the other schools, although he agreed with the latter in his belief in the migration of souls (Fragm. vers. 1, &c., 380, &c., 350-53, 410, &c.; comp. Karsten), in the attempt to reduce the relations of mixture to numbers, and in a few other points. (Karsten; compare, however, Ed. Zeller, die Philosophie ther Griech., Tubingen, 1844.) With the Eleatics he agreed in thinking that it was impossible to conceive anything arising out of nothing (Fragm. vers. 81, &c., 119, &c., 345, &c.; comp. Parmenid. Fragm., ed. Karsten, vers. 47, 50, 60, &, 66, 68, 75), and it is not impossible that he may have borrowed from them also the distinction between knowledge obtained through the senses, and knowledge obtained through reason (Fragm. 49, &c., 108; Parmenid Fragm. 49, 108.) Aristotle with justice mentions him among tire Ionic physiologists, and he places him in very close relation to the atomistic philosophers and to Anaxagoras. (Metaphys. i. 3, 4, 7, Phys. i. 4, de General. et Corr. i. 8, de Caelo, iii. 7.) All three, like the whole Ionic physiology, endeavoured to point out that which formed the basis of all changes, and to explain the latter by means of the former; but they could not, like Heracleitus, consider the coming into existence and motion as the existence of things, and rest and tranquillity as the nonexistence, because they had derived from the Eleatics the conviction that an existence could just as little pass over into a non-existence, as, vice versa, the latter into the former. In order, nevertheless, to establish the reality of changes, and consequently the world and its phaenomena, against the deductions of the Eleatics, they were obliged to reduce that which appears to us as a coming into existence to a process of mixture and separation of unalterable substances; but for the same reason they were obliged to give up both, the Heracleitean supposition of one original fundamental power, and the earlier Ionic hypothesis of one original substance which produced all changes out of itself and again absorbed them. The supposition of an original plurality of unalterable elementary substances was absolutely necessary. And thus we find in the extant fragments of the didactic poem of Empedocles, the genuineness of which is attested beyond all doubt by the authority of Aristotle and other ancient writers, the most unequivocal statement, made with an evident regard to the argumentation of Parmenides, that a coming into existence from a non-existence, as well as a complete death and annihilation, are things impossible; what we call coming into existence and death is only mixture and separation of what was mixed, and the expressions of coming into existence and destruction or annihilation are justified only by our being obliged to submit to the usus loquendi. (Fragm. 77, &c., 345, &c.) The original and unalterable substances were termed by Empedocles the roots of things (tessara ton panton rizomata, Fragm. vers. 55, &c., 74, &c.) and it was he who first established the number of four elements, which were afterwards recognized for many centuries, and which before Empedocles had been pointed out one by one, partly as fundamental substances, and partly as transition stages of things coming into existence. (Aristot Metaphys. i. 4, 7, de Generat. et Corr. ii. 1; comp. Ch. A. Brandis, Handbuch d. Gesch. der Griech. Rom. Philos. i.) The mythical names Zeus, Hera, Nestis, and Aidoneus, alternate with the common terms of fire, air, water, and earth; and it is of little importance for the accurate understanding of his theory, whether the life-giving Hera was meant to signify the air and Aidoneus the earth, or Aidoneus the air and Hera the earth, although the former is more probable than the latter (Fragm. 55, &c., 74, &c.; comp. Brandis, l. c.) As, however, the elementary substances were simple, eternal, and unalterable (Karsten), and as change or alteration was merely the consequence of their mixture and separation, it was also necessary to conceive them as motionless, and consequently to suppose the existence of moving powers--the necessary condition of mixture and separation--as distinct from the substances, and equally original and eternal. But in this manner the dynamic explanations which the earlier physiologists, and especially Heracleitus, had given of nature, was changed into a mechanical one. In order here again to avoid the supposition of an actual coming into existence, Empedocles assumed two opposite directions of the moving power, the attractive and repulsive, the uniting and separating, that is, love and hate (Neikos, Deris, Kotos-- Philie, Philotes, Harmonie, Storpse), as equally original and elementary (Fragm. 88, &c., 138, &c., 167, &c.; Aristot Metaphys. i. 4; Karsten); whereas with Heracleitus they were only different manifestations of one and the same fundamental power. But is it to be supposed that those two powers were from the beginning equally active ? and is the state of mixture, i. e. the world and its phaenomena, an original one, or was it preceded by a state in which the pure elementary substances and the two moving powers co-existed in a condition of repose and inertness? Empedocles decided in favour of the latter supposition (Fragm. vers. 88, &c., 59, &c.; comp. Plat Soph.; Aristot de Coel. i. 10, Phys. Auscult. i. 4, viii. 1), which agreed with ancient legends and traditions. This he probably did especially in order to keep still more distinctly asunder existences and things coming into existence; and he conceived the original co-existence of the pure elementary substances and of the two powers in the form cf a sphere (dphairos; comp. Karsten), which was to indicate its perfect independence and self-sufficieney. As, however, these elementary substances were to exist together in their purity, without mixture and separation, it was necessary to suppose that the uniting power of love predominated in the sphere (Aristot Metaphys. B. i. 4, A. 21, de Generat. et Corr. i. 1), and that the separating power of hate was in a state of limited activity. or, as Empedocles expresses it, guarded the extreme ends of the sphere (Fragm. vers. 58, comp. 167, &c.) When the destructive hate rises into activity, the bond which keeps the pure elementary substances together in the sphere is dissolved (vers. 66, &c.); they separate in order partly to unite again by the power of love: and this is the origin of our world of phaenomena. But that the elementary substances might not be completely absorbed by this world and lose their purity, Empedocles assumed a periodical change of the sphere and formation of the world (Fraym. vers. 88, &c., 167, &c.); but perhaps also, like the earlier Ionians, a perpetual continuance of pure fundamental substances, to which the parts of the world, which are tired of change, return and prepare the formation of the sphere for the next period of the world. (H. Ritter in Wolf's Analect. ii., Gesch. der Philos. i.; but comp. Zeller, l. c.) The sphere being the embodiment of pure existence was with him also the embodiment or representative of the deity, either conceiving the deity as a collectivity, or mainly as the uniting power of love (Fragm. vers. 70; comp. Aristot de Generat. et Corr. ii. 6, Metphys. B. 4, de Anim. i. 5.) But as existence is not to be confined to the sphere, but must rather he at the foundation of the whole visible world, so the deity also must be active in it. But Empedocles was little able to determine the how of this divine activity in its distinction from and connexion with the activity of the moving powers: he, too, like the Eleatics (Xenophan Fragmn. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, ed. Karsten), strove to purify and liberate the notion of the deity: " not provided with limbs, He, a holy, infinite spirit, passes through the world with rapid thoughts," is the sublime expression of Empedocles (Fragm. vers. 359, &c., comp. 317.) Along with this, however, he speaks of the eternal power of Necessity as an ancient decree of the gods, and it is not clear whether the necessary succession of cause and effect, or an unconditional predestination, is to be understood by it; or, lastly, whether Empedocles did not rather leave the notion of Necessity and its relation to the deity in that mysterious darkness in which we find it in the works of most philosophers of antiquity.
  We perceive the world of phaenomena or changes through the medium of our senses, but not so its eternal cause; and although Empedocles traced both sensuous perception and thought to one and the same cause, his six original beings (Aristot de Anim. iii. 3, Metaphys. i. 57; Fragm. 32,&c., 315, &c., 313, 318, &c.), still he clearly distinguished the latter as a higher state of development from the former; he complains of the small extent of our knowledge obtainable through our body (Fragm. 32, &c.), and advises us not to trust to our eves or ears, or any other part of our body, but to see in thought of what kind each thing is by itself (Fragm. 49, &c., comp. 108, 356, &c.) but he attributes the thinking cognition to the deity alone (Fragm. 32, &c., 41, &c., 354, 362, &c.) We are, however, by no means justified in supposing that Empedocles, like the Eleatics, considered that which is perceptible through the senses, i. e. the world and its phenomena, to be a mere phantom, and the unity of the divine sphere, that is, the world of love, which is arrived at only by thought, to be the sole existence. (H. Litter in Wolf's Analect. i., Gesch. der Philos. i.; Brandis, in the Rheinisch. Museum, iii.; comp. Zeller, l. c.)
  Further investigations concerning Empedocles's derivation of the different kinds of sensuous perception, and of the mutual influence of things upon one another in general, from the coincidence of effluxes and corresponding pores, as well as the examination of the fragments of his cosmologic and physiologic doctrines, must be left to a history of Greek philosophy.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Oct 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Polus, sophist, 4th c. B.C.

(Polos). A rhetorician of Agrigentum, introduced by Plato as a speaker in the Gorgias.

Poets

Carcinus & Zenocles

  In this passage Aristophanes has specially in view Carcinus of Agrigentum, his son, Zenocles, with his three brothers and a grandson and namesake of the former, "a whole potful of tragic crabs," as they have been termed. Zenocles, whom the comedian calls an execrable poet and was never tired of ridiculing, gained the first prize with one of his trilogies, when in competition with Euripides. But Aelian accounts for this by saying that "the jury were either intellectually incapable of a proper decision or else they were bribed." Carcinus the younger received a prize for only one out of his one hundred and sixty plays, many of them composed at the court of Dionysus II. Miletus, the accuser of Socrates, composed a Oedipean trilogy which has been preserved from oblivion only in the jests of the comic writers.
  In the period which followed the Peloponnesian war, along with the continual decay of political and religious life, tragedy sank more and more into mere rhetorical display. The school of Ioscrates produced the orators and tragedians, Theodectes and Aphareus. Theodectes won the prize eight times, on one occasion with his tragedy, Mausolus, in the contest which the queen Artemisia had instituted in honor of her dead husband. On the same occasion he was defeated in rhetoric by Theopompus. Mausolus was especially adapted for recitations, and, from what Suidas says, it appears that the whole contest was one of declamation. A good idea of these dramas for reading and recitation, with their accompaniment of cold, rhetorical pathos and their strong leaning toward the horrible, may be gained by the plays of Seneca. Of the fifty tragedies of Theodectes we have the names of about ten and a few unimportant fragments; among them were an Ajax, Oedipus, Orestes and Philoctetes. Stobaeus makes the following pessimistic quotation from an unknown tragedy of his:
"All human beings grow old, and to an end
Comes every birth of time, save only one,
Save only wickedness; but that, methinks
Fast as the race of mortals doth increase,
Increaseth equally from day to day."
  Aphareus, the son of Hippias the sophist, and the adopted son of Isocrates, left behind him thirty-seven tragedies, and had been successful in winning four victories.

Alfred Bates, ed.
This text is cited July 2003 from the TheatreHistory URL below.


Aristolochus

Aristolochus (Aristolochos), a tragic poet, who is not mentioned anywhere except in the collection of the Epistles attributed to Phalaris (Epist. 18, ed. Lennep.), where the tyrant is made to speak of him with indignation for venturing to compete with him in writing tragedies. But with the genuineness of those epistles the existence of Aristolochus must fall to the ground, and Bentley (Phalaris) has shewn, that if Aristolochus were a real personage, this tragic writer must have lived before tragedy was known.

Doctors

Acron, writer, 5th c. B.C.

Acron (Akron), an eminent physician of Agrigentum, the son of Xenon. His exact date is not known; but, as he is mentioned as being contemporary with Empedocles, who died about the beginning of the Peloponnesian war, he must have lived in the fifth century before Christ. From Sicily he went to Athens, and there opened a philosophical school (esophisteuen). It is said that he was in that city during the great plague (B. C. 430), and that large fires for the purpose of purifying the air were kindled in the streets by his direction, which proved of great service to several of the sick (Plut. De Is. et Osir. 80; Oribas. Synops. vi. 24; Aetius, tetrab. ii. serm. i. 94; Paul Aegin. ii. 35). It should however be borne in mind that there is no mention of this in Thucydides (ii. 49, &c.), and, if it is true that Empedocles or Simonides (who died B. C. 467) wrote the epitaph on Acron, it may be doubted whether he was in Athens at the time of the plague. Upon his return to Agrigentum he was anxious to erect a family tomb, and applied to the senate for a spot of ground for that purpose on account of his eminence as a physician. Empedocles however resisted this application as being contrary to the principle of equality, and proposed to inscribe on his tomb the following sarcastic epitaph (tothastikon), which it is quite impossible to translate so as to preserve the paronomasia of the original:
     Akron ietron Akron Akragantinon patros akrou Kruptei kremnos hakros patridos akrotates.
The second line was sometimes read thus:
     Akrotates koruphes tumbos akros katechei.
Some persons attributed the whole epigram to Simonides (Suid. s. v. Akron; Eudoc. Violar., ap. Villoison, Anecd. Gr. i. 49; Diog. Laert. viii. 65). The sect of the Empirici, in order to boast of a greater antiquity than the Dogmatici (founded by Thessalus, the son, and Polybus, the son-in-law of Hippocrates, about B. C. 400), claimed Acron as their founder (Pseudo-Gal. Introd. 4. vol. xiv.), though they did not really exist before the third century B. C. Pliny falls into this anachronism (H. N. xxix. 4). None of Acron's works are now extant, though he wrote several in the Doric dialect on Medical and Physical subjects, of which the titles are preserved by Suidas and Eudocia.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Sep 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Architects

   As nearly all the ancient aqueducts now remaining are of Roman construction, it has been generally imagined that works of this description were entirely unknown to the Greeks. This, however, is an error, since some are mentioned by Pausanias. The Greeks, in fact, at a very early period, had some powers of hydraulic engineering, as is shown by the drainage tunnels of the lake Copa is, and the similar works of Phaeax at Agrigentum; (...)

This extract is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Tyrants

Phalaris the Cruel

   The infamous tyrant of Agrigentum, notorious for his cruelty; he was killed in a popular revolt in B.C. 549. His reign probably commenced about B.C. 570, and is said to have lasted sixteen years. He was a native of Agrigentum, and appears to have been raised by his fellow-citizens to some high office in the State, of which he afterwards availed himself to assume a despotic authority. He was engaged in frequent wars with his neighbours, and extended his power and dominion on all sides, though more frequently by stratagem than open force. He perished by a sudden outbreak of the popular fury, in which it appears that Telemachus, the ancestor of Theron, must have borne a conspicuous part. No circumstance connected with Phalaris is more celebrated than the brazen bull in which he is said to have burned alive the victims of his cruelty, and of which we are told that he made the first experiment upon its inventor, Perillus. This latter story has much the air of an invention of later times, but it is mentioned as early as Pindar (Pyth. i. 185). His name is affixed to 148 Greek letters, in which he appears as a gentle ruler, and a patron of art and poetry; but, as proved in Bentley's Dissertation in 1699, they are really a worthless forgery, probably by a sophist of the second century A.D.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Theron

A tyrant of Agrigentum, in Sicily, who reigned from about B.C. 488 till his death in 472. He shared with Gelon in the great victory gained over the Carthaginians in 480.

Thrasydaeus, Thrasideos

the son of Theron and tyrant of the Acragantini. . . After the death of Theron of Agrigentum, Hiero defeated his son Thrasydaeus, who was soon afterwards expelled by his countrymen.

Telemachos

Telemachos had overthrown the tyrant Phalaris.

Related to the place

Pindar, the poet

Pindar lived at the court of Theron

Hannibal, son of Gisco

Hannibal. Son of Gisco (Zonar. viii. 10), and commander of the Carthaginian forces at Agrigentum, when it was besieged by the Romans during the first Punic war, B. C. 262. It seems not improbable that this may be the same person with the preceding, but we have no evidence by which to decide the fact, and the name of Hannibal appears to have been so common at Carthage, that it can by no means be assumed. Hannibal had a considerable army under his command, yet he did not venture to face the Romans in the field, and shut himself up within the walls of Agrigentum. The Roman consuls, L. Postumius Megellus and Q. Mamilius Vitulus, established their armies in two separate fortified camps, which they united by lines of intrenchment, and thus proceeded to blockade the city. Hannibal was soon reduced to great distress, for want of provisions, but held out, in hopes of being relieved by Hanno, who had advanced as far as Heraclea to his support. But the operations of the latter were unsuccessful, and when he at length ventured on a decisive effort, He was completely defeated. Hereupon Hannibal, who had himself made an unsuccessful attack upon the Roman camp, during their engagement with Hanno, determined to abandon the town, and succeeded, under cover of the night, in forcing his way through the enemy's lines, and making good his retreat with what troops remained to him in safety to Panormus. Agrigentum itself was immediately afterwards stormed and piundered by the Romans. (Polyb. i. 17-19; Zonar. viii. 10; Ores. iv. 7.) Hannibal's attention was henceforth directed principally to carrying on the contest by sea : with a fleet of sixty ships, he ravaged the coasts of Italy, which were then almost defenceless; and the next year (B. C. 260), on learning that the consul, Cn. Cornelius Scipio Asina, had put to sea with a squadron of seventeen ships, he dispatched Boodes, with twenty gullies, to meet him at Lipara, where the latter succeeded by a stratagem in capturing Scipio, with his whole squadron. After this success, Hannibal put to sea in person, with fifty ships, for the purpose of again ravaging the coasts of Italy, but, falling in unexpectedly with the whole Roman fleet, lie lost many of his ships, and with difficulty made his escape to Sicily with the remainder. Here, however, he joined the rest of his fleet, and C. Duilius, having taken the command of that of the Romans, almost immediately brought on a general action off Mylae. Hannibal, well knowing the inexperience land want of skill of the Romans in naval warfare, and having apparently a superior force, had anticipated an easy victory, but the valour of the Romans, together with the strange contrivance of the corvi, or boarding bridges, gained them the advantage; the Carthaginians were totally defeated, and not less than fifty of their ships sunk, destroyed, or taken. Hannibal himself was obliged to abandon his own ship (a vessel of seven banks of oars, which had formerly belonged to Pyrrhus), and make his escape in a small boat. He hastened to Carthage, where, it is said, he contrived by an ingenious stratagem to escape the punishlment so often inflicted by the Carthaginians on their unsuccessful generals. (Polyb. i. 21-23; Zonar. viii. 10, 11; Oros. iv. 7; Diod. Exc. Vatic. xxiii. 2; Dion Cass. Frag. Vat. 62; Polyaen. vi. 16.5.) He was, nevertheless, deprived of his command, but was soon after (apparently the very next year, 259) again sent out, with a considerable fleet, to the defence of Sardinia, which had been attacked by the Romans under L. Scipio. Here he was gain unfortunate, and, having lost many of his ships, was seized by his own mutinous troops, and put to death. (Polyb. i. 24; Oros. iv. 8; Zonar. viii. 12. Tiere is some discrepancy between these accounts, and it is not clear whether he perished in the year of Scipio's operations in Sardinia, or in the following consulship of Sulpicius Paterculus, B. C. 258.)

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Hanno

Hanno. A general sent from Carthage to carry on the war in Sicily after the fill of Syracuse, B. C. 211. He established his head-quarters at Agrigentum, where he was associated with Epicydes and Mutines. But his jealousy of the successes obtained by the latter led to the most unfortunate results. He took the opportunity of a temporary absence of Mutines to give battle to Marcellus; but the Numidian cavalry refused to fight in the absence of their leader, and the consequence was, that Hanno was defeated, with heavy loss. Marcellus, however, did not form the siege of Agrigentum, and Hanno thus remained master of that city, while Mutines, with his indefatigable cavalry, gave him the command of all the neighboring country. But his jealousy of that leader still containing, he was at length induced to take the imprudent step of depriving hint of his command. Mutines hereupon made overtures to the Roman general Laevinus, and betrayed the city of Agrigentum into his hands, Hanno and Epicydes with difficulty making their escape by sea to Carthage. This blow put a final termination to the war in Sicily, B. C. 210. (Liv. xxv. 40, 41, xxvi. 40; Zonar. ix. 7.)

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Leptines

Leptines. One of the generals of Agathocles, who, during the absence of that monarch in Africa, defeated Xenodocus, the governor of Agrigentum, in a pitched battle, and with great slaughter. (Diod. xx. 56.) When Agathocles, after repairing for a short time to Sicily, returned once more to Africa, B. C. 307, he again left Leptines in command during his absence, who obtained a second victory over Xenodocus. (Id. xx. 61, 62.)

Tellias

Among the Acragantini of that time perhaps the richest man was Tellias, who had in his mansion a considerable number of guest-chambers and used to station servants before his gates with orders to invite every stranger to be his guest. There were also many other Acragantini who did something of this kind, mingling with others in an old-fashioned and friendly manner; consequently also Empedocles speaks of them as "Havens of mercy for strangers, unacquainted with evil."
Indeed once when five hundred cavalry from Gela arrived there during a wintry storm, as Timaeus says in his Fifteenth Book, Tellias entertained all of them by himself and provided them all forthwith from his own stores with outer and under garments. And Polycleitus in his Histories describes the wine-cellar in the house as still existing and as he had himself seen it when in Acragas as a soldier; there were in it, he states, three hundred great casks hewn out of the very rock, each of them with a capacity of one hundred amphoras, and beside them was a wine-vat, plastered with stucco and with a capacity of one thousand amphoras, from which the wine flowed into the casks. And we are told that Tellias was quite plain in appearance but wonderful in character. So once when he had been dispatched on an embassy to the people of Centoripa and came forward to speak before the Assembly, the multitude broke into unseemly laughter as they saw how much he fell short of their expectation. But he, interrupting them, said, "Don't be surprised, for it is the practice of the Acragantini to send to famous cities their most handsome citizens, but to insignificant and most paltry cities men of their sort."

This extract is from: Diodorus Siculus, Library (ed. C. H. Oldfather, 1989). Cited July 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.


Gellias, a citizen of Agrigentum, celebrated for his great wealth and magnificent style of living, as well as for his unbounded hospitality. He flourished just before the destruction of Agrigentum by the Carthaginians under Hannibal, the son of Giscon (B. C. 406). On that occasion he fled for refuge to the temple of Athena; but when he saw that no sanctuary could afford protection against the impiety of the enemy, he set fire to the temple and perished in the flames. (Diod. xiii. 83, 90; Athen. i. ; Val. Max. iv. 8.) The name is written Tellias in most of the MSS. of Athenaeus, and the error (if it be one) must be of ancient date, as the name is thus quoted both by Suidas and Eustathius. (Suid. s. v. Athenaios and Tellias ; Eustath. ad Od.)

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


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