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Anaximander (c. 610—546 B.C.E.

Anaximander was the author of the first surviving lines of
Western philosophy. He speculated and argued about "the
Boundless" as the origin of all that is. He also worked on
the fields of what we now call geography and biology.
Moreover, Anaximander was the first speculative
astronomer. He originated the world-picture of the open
universe, which replaced the closed universe of the
celestial vault.
His work will always remain truncated, like the mutilated
and decapitated statue that has been found at the marketplace of Miletus and that bears his name. Nevertheless, by
what we know of him, we may say that he was one of the
greatest minds that ever lived. By speculating and arguing about the "Boundless" he was the
first metaphysician. By drawing a map of the world he was the first geographer. But above all,
by boldly speculating about the universe he broke with the ancient image of the celestial vault
and became the discoverer of the Western world-picture.

Table of Contents
1. Life and Sources
2. The "Boundless" as Principle
3. The Arguments Regarding the Boundless
a. The Boundless has No Origin
b. The Origin must be Boundless
c. The "Long Since" Argument
4. The Fragment
5. The Origin of the Cosmos
6. Astronomy

although it probably was available in the library of the Lyceum at the times of Aristotle and his successor Theophrastus.a. He was the first who dared to write a treatise in prose. Map of the World 8. quoted by Simplicius (after Theophrastus). This book has been lost. Conclusion 10. It is said that Apollodorus. The Celestial Bodies Lie Behind One Another f. Recently. on which Anaximander's name can be read. which is not astonishing. excerpted. Life and Sources The history of written Greek philosophy starts with Anaximander of Miletus in Asia Minor. approximately one third of them. Hermann Diels and Walter Kranz have edited the doxography (A) . A Representation of Anaximander's Universe 7. the so-called doxographers. He also probably introduced the gnomon (a perpendicular sun-dial) into Greece and erected one in Sparta. a fellow-citizen of Thales. We also know very little of Anaximander's life. Most of the information on Anaximander comes from Aristotle and his pupil Theophrastus. So he seems to have been a much-traveled man. The Celestial Bodies Make Full Circles c. It is perhaps the most famous and most discussed phrase in the history of philosophy. Relatively many testimonies. The Distances of the Celestial Bodies i. Only one fragment of the book has come down to us. Biology 9. which has been called traditionally On Nature. in these texts words or expressions appear that can with some certainty be ascribed to Anaximander himself. as the Milesians were known to be audacious sailors. References and Further Reading 1. The Order of the Celestial Bodies g. perhaps in the famous library of Alexandria. whose book on the history of philosophy was used. before it was lost. Sometimes. The Earth Floats Unsupported in Space d. stumbled upon a copy of it. Speculative Astronomy b. where a fragment of a catalogue has been found. and quoted by many other authors. The Celestial Bodies as Wheels h. in the second century BCE. It is also reported that he displayed solemn manners and wore pompous garments. He is said to have led a mission that founded a colony called Apollonia on the coast of the Black Sea. have to do with astronomical and cosmological questions. evidence has appeared that it was part of the collection of the library of Taormina in Sicily. in the sixth century AD. Why the Earth Does Not Fall e.

which was occupied with limit. however. too. provided they are handled with care." "to apperceive"). On the other hand. a. This is what makes him the first philosopher. or perhaps as that which has no qualifications. The Boundless has No Origin Aristotle reports a curious argument. some have pointed out that this use of "apeiron" is atypical for Greek thought. 3. Some scholars have even defended the meaning "that which is not experienced. We would say that it looks . in which it is argued that the Boundless has no origin.17"). Anaximander is said to have identified it with "the Boundless" or "the Unlimited" (Greek: "apeiron. Anaximander's arguments have come down to us in the disguise of Aristotelian jargon. allow us to catch glimpses of what the arguments of Anaximander must have looked like. (A quotation like "DK 12A17" means: "Diels/Kranz. symmetry and harmony. it is complained that Anaximander did not explain what he meant by "the Boundless. or as that which is inexhaustible. Already in ancient times. Therefore. doxographical report no. Therefore. which probably goes back to Anaximander. The Pythagoreans placed the boundless (the "apeiron") on the list of negative things. and for Aristotle. any reconstruction of the arguments used by the Milesian must remain conjectural. that he did not just utter apodictic statements. We might say that he was the first who made use of philosophical arguments. The Arguments Regarding the Boundless It seems that Anaximander not only put forward the thesis that the Boundless is the principle. the first Greek philosophers were looking for the "origin" or "principle" (the Greek word "archê" has both meanings) of all things." More recently. The suggestion. but to "perao" ("to experience. perfection became aligned with limit (Greek: "peras"). however. 2.and the existing texts (B) of the Presocratic philosophers in Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker. The important thing is. Anaximander. but also tried to give arguments. the data. Nevertheless. The "Boundless" as Principle According to Aristotle and Theophrastus. some authors suspect eastern (Iranian) influence on Anaximander's ideas. because it is itself the origin. has started on a high level of abstraction." that is." "limit"). is almost irresistible that Greek philosophy. by making the Boundless into the principle of all things. Verbatim reconstruction is of course impossible. "that which has no boundaries")." by relating the Greek word "apeiron" not to "peras" ("boundary. Berlin 1951-19526 . authors have disputed whether the Boundless should be interpreted as spatially or temporarily without limits. but also tried to argue for it. and thus "apeiron" with imperfection.

If there were for it some unintended final state. it is both unborn and immortal." and the Boundless has to guarantee the ongoing of the process. being a kind of origin. it would have been reached. The Boundless has no origin. Moreover. Diogenes Laërtius ascribes to Thales the aphorism: "What is the divine? That which has no origin and no end" (DK 11A1 (36)). other versions in DK12A14 and 12A17). if it were capable of "being. The "Long Since" Argument A third argument is relatively long and somewhat strange. DK 12A16). within different contexts. it would long since have destroyed the others. this also must have been reached. something other from which they are all generated" (Physics 204b25-29. an end. It turns on one key word (in Greek: "êdê"). which is here translated with "long since." the Greek word is "phusis"). and the fire hot). DK 12A15. and it is not only immortal but also unborn. This is not only virtually the same argument as used by Plato in his Phaedo (72a12-b5). However. Obviously.more like a string of associations and word-plays than like a formal argument." if . lest the others should be destroyed by one of them. perhaps not Anaximander. The Origin Must be Boundless Several sources give another argument which is somehow the other way round and answers the question of why the origin should be boundless. In Aristotle's version. is boundless" (Physics 203b18-20. but now there is. The Greeks were familiar with the idea of the immortal Homeric gods. it runs like this: "(The belief that there is something Boundless stems from) the idea that only then genesis and decay will never stop. the Boundless seems to be associated with an inexhaustible source. If it were at all capable of a pausing and becoming fixed. are used by Melissus (DK 30B2[9]) and Plato (Phaedrus 245d1-6). necessarily. and there is a termination to every process of destruction" (Physics 203b6-10. for they are opposite to one another (the air. being boundless. but not air or water. Similar arguments. is cold. c. for instance. that which is additional to the elements) the Boundless. it is taken for granted that "genesis and decay will never stop. but even more interesting is that it was used almost 2500 years later by Friedrich Nietzsche in his attempts to prove his thesis of the Eternal Recurrence: "If the world had a goal. If any of them should be boundless. like an ever-floating fountain. Anaximander added two distinctive features to the concept of divinity: his Boundless is an impersonal something (or "nature." It is reproduced by Aristotle: "Some make this (namely. they say. when that from which is taken what has been generated. but Thales should be credited with this new idea. It runs as follows: "Everything has an origin or is an origin. For that which has become has also. DK 12A15). For then it would have a limit. b. In this argument. the water wet.

even the part which most authors agree is a real quotation. The ancient Greeks did not use quotation marks. In the fourth and fifth line a more fluent translation is given for what is usually rendered rather cryptic by something like "giving justice and reparation to one another for their injustice.The condemnation for the crime In conformity with the ordinance of Time. As regards the interpretation of the fragment. Therefore. the whole course of its becoming it possessed even for a moment this capability of "being. One important word of the text ("allêlois. he mentioned the argument and credited Anaximander with it. 4. who has handed down the text to us. so that we cannot be sure where Simplicius. The upholders of the horizontal interpretation usually do not deny that Anaximander taught that all things are generated from the Boundless." Nietzsche wrote these words in his notebook in 1885. which makes it difficult to relate them to the Boundless." The horizontal interpretation holds that in the fragment nothing is said about the relation of the things to the Boundless. The Fragment The only existing fragment of Anaximander's book (DK 12B1) is surrounded by all kinds of questions. it is heavily disputed whether it means to refer to Anaximander's principle. For they execute the sentence upon one another ." We may distinguish roughly two lines of interpretation. the Boundless. which was not published during his lifetime. is still paraphrasing Anaximander and where he begins to quote him. The text is cast in indirect speech. whereas the vertical interpretation maintains that the fragment describes the relationship of the things to the Boundless. in which some poetic features of the original. ." then again all becoming would long since have come to an end. The most obvious difficulty. which accounts for the origin and destruction of things. but they simply hold that this is not what is said in the fragment. The Greek original has relative pronouns in the plural (here rendered by "whence" and "thence"). but already in Die Philosophie im tragischen Zeitalter der Griechen (1873). such as chiasmus and alliteration have been imitated: Whence things have their origin. Thence also their destruction happens. we offer a translation. or not. which may be labeled the "horizontal" and the "vertical. They argue that the fragment describes the battle between the elements (or of things in general). Simplicius' impression that it is written in rather poetic words has been repeated in several ways by many authors." here translated by "upon one another") is missing in some manuscripts. As is the order of things.

full of images. The suggestion has been raised that Anaximander's formula in the first two lines of the fragment should have been the model for Aristotle's definition of the "principle" (Greek: "archê") of all things in Metaphysics 983b8. comparable with Hesiod's "Chaos") into which everything ultimately perishes. The Origin of the Cosmos The Boundless seems to have played a role in Anaximander's account of the origin of the cosmos. notwithstanding the plural relative pronouns. from Anaximander. then.beautiful and mysterious as it is . There is some sense in this suggestion. for this "horizontal" interpretation is that it implies two cycles of becoming and decay: one from and into the Boundless. Its eternal movement is said to have caused the origin of the heavens. which goes back to people like Aristotle and Theophrastus. In other words. in the "horizontal" interpretation the Boundless is superfluous. Perhaps a better way of understanding what Anaximander has to say is to study carefully the doxography. . For what could be more natural for Aristotle than to borrow his definition of the notion of "archê." A part of this process is described in rather poetic language. We do not know from which part of his book it is. the sphere of fire is said to have fallen apart into several rings. On the other order to produce all kinds of profound interpretations that are hard to verify. the one who introduced the notion? It is certainly important that we possess one text from Anaximander's book." which he uses to indicate the principle of the first presocratic philosophers. which holds that the fragment refers to the Boundless. This is the strongest argument in favor of the "vertical" interpretation. who probably have had Anaximander's book before their eyes. and the other caused by the mutual give and take of the elements or things in general. Subsequently. the Boundless should be regarded not only as the ever-flowing fountain from which everything ultimately springs. like a bark round a tree" (DK 12A10). According to the "vertical" interpretation. which seems to be idiosyncratic for Anaximander: "a germ. nor whether it is a text the author himself thought crucial or just a line that caught one reader's attention as an example of Anaximander's poetic writing style. The danger exists that we are tempted to use this stray text . Elsewhere. and this event was the origin of sun. we must recognize that we know hardly anything of its original context. but also as the yawning abyss (as some say. whereupon out of this germ a sphere of fire grew around the vapor that surrounds the earth.however. and who tried to reformulate what they thought were its central claims. was separated [or: separated itself] off from the eternal. it is said that "all the heavens and the worlds within them" have sprung from "some boundless nature. pregnant with hot and cold. 5. as the rest of the book has been lost.

unlike the Babylonians and the Egyptians. That the celestial bodies make full circles is not something he could have observed. These observations were made with the naked eye and with the help of some simple instruments as the gnomon. these three propositions. Some sources even mention innumerable worlds (in time and/or in space). We would say that . in their daily course. were rather advanced observers. that is. quite anachronistically. Archeologists have found an abundance of cuneiform texts on astronomical observations. however. The only way of understanding Anaximander's astronomical ideas. as astronomical ideas.moon. consists mainly of observations of the rising and disappearance of celestial bodies and of their paths across the celestial so self-evident to us that it is hard to understand how daring its introduction was. This is no coincidence. make full circles and thus pass also beneath the earth . In contrast. 6. a. but a conclusion he must have drawn. Some authors even think that they are so confused that we should give up trying to offer a satisfying and coherent interpretation. there exists only one report of an observation made by Anaximander. which make up the core of Anaximander's astronomy. but in that of speculative astronomy. (2) that the earth floats free and unsupported in space. There are authors who have. in particular. Notwithstanding their rather primitive outlook. It will appear that many of the features of his universe that look strange at first sight make perfect sense on closer inspection. The Celestial Bodies Make Full Circles The idea that the celestial bodies. meant a tremendous jump forward and constitute the origin of our Western concept of the universe. Astronomy At first sight. and (3) that the celestial bodies lie behind one another. But this is presumably a later theory. Speculative Astronomy The astronomy of neighboring peoples. is to take them seriously and treat them as such.from Anaximander's viewpoint . The Babylonians. We may discern three of his astronomical speculations: (1) that the celestial bodies make full circles and pass also beneath the earth. for Anaximander's merits do not lie in the field of observational astronomy. such as the Babylonians and the Egyptians. incorrectly read back into Anaximander. which looks like a plausible consequence of the Boundless as principle. seen here a kind of foreshadowing of the Kant-Laplace theory of the origin of the solar system. b. and stars. which concerns the date on which the Pleiades set in the morning. the reports on Anaximander's astronomy look rather bizarre and obscure.

pillars. As regards the sun and moon. and we are able to predict exactly where they will rise the next day. it necessarily stays where it is. the cylinder-shape lies at hand. Therefore. Aristotle's version of Anaximander's argument runs like this: "But there are some who say that it (namely. d. according to Anaximander. We live on top of it. The strangeness disappears. .at the northern hemisphere. More than 2500 years later astronauts really saw the unsupported earth floating in space and thus provided the ultimate confirmation of Anaximander's conception. we can observe that the arcs they describe are sometimes bigger and sometimes smaller. Obviously. like Anaximander . the earth hanging free in space is not something Anaximander could have observed. Some scholars have wondered why Anaximander chose this strange shape. just like those near the Polar star. precisely because it necessarily entailed the concept of the earth hanging free and unsupported in space. For that which is situated in the center and at equal distances from the extremes. The Earth Floats Unsupported in Space Anaximander boldly asserts that the earth floats free in the center of the universe. DK 12A26) Many authors have pointed to the fact that this is the first known example of an argument that is based on the principle of sufficient reason (the principle that for everything which occurs there is a reason or explanation for why it occurs. its diameter being three times its height. has no inclination whatsoever to move up rather than down or sideways. Nevertheless. and since it is impossible to move in opposite directions at the same time.the stars around the Polar star making full circles.. Apparently. and we can also observe that the more southerly stars sometimes disappear behind the horizon. however. For one who thinks. The shape of the earth. c. unsupported by water. as Anaximander did. when we realize that Anaximander thought that the earth was flat and circular.this is a conclusion that lies to hand. Why the Earth Does Not Fall We may assume that Anaximander somehow had to defend his bold theory of the free-floating. This idea means a complete revolution in our understanding of the universe. such as among the ancients Anaximander. unsupported earth against the obvious question of why the earth does not fall. that the earth floats unsupported in the center of the universe. or whatever. is cylindrical." (De caelo 295b10ff. it was a daring conclusion. the earth) stays where it is because of equality. it seems not too bold a conjecture to say that these celestial bodies also describe full circles. We may argue that the stars of which we see only arcs in reality also describe full circles. We can see . he drew this bold conclusion from his assumption that the celestial bodies make full circles. and why this way rather than that). like a columndrum. as suggested by the horizon.

Anaximander's vision implied depth in the universe. In his second letter to Clarke. he imagined. and if equal weights are hung on the two ends of that balance. Absolute propositions concerning the non-existence of things are always in danger of becoming falsified on closer investigation. Leibniz. He takes it for granted that if there be a balance in which everything is alike on both sides. Although it sounds simple. although it certainly is not supported by anything but gravity. however. He ridicules it by saying that according to the same kind of argument a hair. he uses an example. for the first time in history. must necessarily remain where he is and starve. being supported by Atlas. which he ascribes to Archimedes but which reminds us strongly of Anaximander: "And therefore Archimedes (.Anaximander's argument returns in a famous text in the Phaedo (108E4 ff. whether the argument is not fallacious. One meets this kind of conception in Homer. where Plato. being just as hungry as thirsty. Nevertheless. within a different context. that is." Several authors. when he speaks of the brazen or iron heaven. returns with the great protagonist of the principle of sufficient reason. or by pillars. for the argument evidently must be wrong. the whole will stay at rest. One may doubt. The Celestial Bodies Lie Behind One Another When Anaximander looked at the heaven.). which is apparently conceived of as something solid. as the earth is not in the center of the universe. would not break. like in a planetarium. placed in between food and drink. The more natural and primitive idea is that of the celestial vault. have said that Anaximander's argument is clear and ingenious. a kind of dome or tent. was obliged to make use of a particular case of the great Principle of a sufficient reason. This is because there is no reason why one side should weigh down. e. onto which the celestial bodies are attached. for the first time in history. which was subject to an even pulling power from opposing sides.. this is a remarkable idea.) in his book De aequilibrio. and that a man.. f. The Order of the Celestial Bodies Anaximander placed the celestial bodies in the wrong order. Aristotle already thought the argument to be deceiving. To him it was the wrong argument for the right proposition. all of them at the same distance. however. we have to wait until Newton for a better answer to the question why the earth does not fall. We do not see depth in the universe. He thought that the stars were . tries to express the sphericity of the earth. They contain a kind of subjective aspect: "as far as I know. space. the idea that the celestial bodies lie behind one another. Even more interesting is that the same argument. because it cannot be based on direct observation. rather than the other". Already at first sight this qualification sounds strange.

following Diels. The celestial bodies have no reason whatsoever to move otherwise than in circles around the earth. Some authors have wondered why Anaximander made the stars the nearest celestial bodies.nearest to the earth. Sometimes. The Celestial Bodies as Wheels A peculiar feature of Anaximander's astronomy is that the celestial bodies are said to be like chariot wheels (the Greek words for this image are presumably his own). then followed the moon. Perhaps he observed stars disappearing and appearing again.could not see it as . the moon. somehow connected to a celestial wheel. but it is quite certain that the question of why the celestial bodies do not fall upon the earth must have been as serious a problem to Anaximander as the question of why the earth does not fall. They say that the light of a celestial bodies shines through the openings of its wheel "as through the nozzle of a that he must have thought that the brighter light of the moon outshines the much smaller light of the star for a while. they are hollow. for he should have noticed the occurrence of star-occultations by the moon. we know that the stars are behind the moon. the celestial bodies were thought of as somehow attached to crystalline or ethereal sphere-shells. This fire shines through at openings in the wheels. but there is a good reason for it. to speak of a star-occultation when he saw a star disappear when the moon was at the same place. So it is a petitio principii to say that for him occultations of stars were easy to observe. It is because of reasons like this that for ages to come. The opening of the moon wheel regularly closes and opens again. for that interpretation did not fit his paradigm. and the sun farthest away. and not as free-floating bodies. The explanation of the celestial bodies as wheels. Unfortunately. then. Anaximander's order of the celestial bodies is clearly that of increasing brightness. tends to complicate rather than elucidate the meaning of the text. but he did not observe . Nowadays. provides an answer to both questions. If we were to . This image of the celestial bodies as huge wheels seems strange at first sight. make the image of the celestial wheels more difficult than is necessary. the sources do not give further information of his considerations at this point. and thus we speak of star-occultation when we see a star disappear behind the moon. The image of a bellows. or the stars.if he observed the phenomenon at all . when Anaximander's concept of the universe had been replaced by a spherical one. which accounts for the phases of the moon. as each point on them is always as far from the earth as any other. from his point of view. the opening of the sun wheel closes: then we observe an eclipse. This is a typical anachronism." This is an incorrect translation of an expression that probably goes back to Anaximander himself. g. and filled with fire. There is no doxographic evidence of it. The easiest way to understand his way of looking at it . Many authors. which shows that it not easy to look at the phenomena with Anaximander's eyes. and this is what we see as the sun.the occultation of the star. But Anaximander had no reason at all. The rims of these wheels are of opaque vapor.

In others words. solved the problem of Anaximander's numbers. The light of a celestial body is like a permanent beam of lightning fire that originates from the opaque cloudy substance of the celestial wheel. with the earth as the center. Anaximander's intention. had to be: 9 and 10 for the stars. is a momentary flash of light against a dark cloud. however. . they indicate the radii of concentric circles. and 27 and 28 for the sun. Lightning. More than a century ago. this unit being the diameter of the earth. can be better understood not as an image. two great scholars. See Figure 1. and the moon wheel is 19 times the earth. The full series. a plane view of Anaximander's universe. They suggested that the celestial wheels were one unit thick. h.understand that every celestial body had such a bellows. according to Anaximander. Paul Tannery and Hermann Diels. made by the celestial wheels. extending from the celestial wheels towards the earth. The Distances of the Celestial Bodies The doxography gives us some figures about the dimensions of Anaximander's universe: the sun wheel is 27 or 28 times the earth. 18 and 19 for the moon. These numbers are best understood as indicating the distances of the celestial bodies to the earth. they argued. but as a comparison of the light of the celestial bodies with that of lightning. the result would be hundreds of nozzles (or pipes).

who had discovered that the image of the celestial vault was wrong but that the celestial bodies were behind one another. 18.. The agreement with his numbers is too close to neglect. simply was trying to say that the stars are very far away. i. On the other hand. and indicating direction. and Odysseus scoured the seas for nine years before reaching his homeland in the tenth year. and inclination with your hands. We can see this phenomenon by observing how the sun lags behind by approximately one degree per day. always at the same speed." Thus. by making broad gestures. like that in figure 1. Probably the best way to imagine them is as a conglomerate of several wheels. The most likely sum-total of these star wheels is a sphere. as is said of a quarrel between Anaxagoras and Oenopides (DK 41A2). 9. for he tried to imagine the distance to the heaven. In summer it moves towards the north along the axis of the heaven and we see a large part of it above the horizon. 10. Now the numbers 18 and 27 can easily be interpreted as "farther" (2 x 3 x 3. we may assume that Anaximander himself drew a map of the universe. whereas in winter . with his number 9 (1 x 3 x 3) for the star ring. can easily be understood as instructions for making such a map. it is quite easy to explain the movements of the celestial bodies with the help of a plan view. In the Greek counting system Hesiod's numbers should be taken to mean "a very long time. It is not a bold guess to suppose that Anaximander knew this text.These numbers cannot be based on observation. The first is that the speed of the rotation of the sun wheel is not the same as that of the stars. Almost nothing of Anaximander's opinions about the stars has been handed down to us. through which the inner fire shines. And this is exactly what we should expect one to say. The numbers. where it is said that a brazen anvil would take nine days to fall from heaven to earth before it arrives on the tenth day. In order to understand their meaning. for the sun ring). and who wished to share this new knowledge with his fellow citizens in a language they were able to understand. for the numbers 9 and 10 are exactly those extrapolated for Anaximander's star wheel. The second difference is that the sun wheel as a whole changes its position in the heaven." the drawing or construction of a three-dimensional model must be considered to have been beyond Anaximander's abilities. for the moon ring) and "farthest" (3 x 3 x 3. we have to look at Hesiod's Theogony 722-725. describing circles in the air. The only movement of these star wheels is a rotation around the earth from east to west. each of which has one or more holes. The sun wheel shows the same rotation from east to west as the stars. Although Diogenes Laërtius reports that he made a "sphere. speed. Troy was conquered in the tenth year after having stood the siege for nine years. Hesiod can be seen as a forerunner to Anaximander. and always at the same place relative to one another in the heaven. etc. but there are two differences. A Representation of Anaximander's Universe Although it is not attested in the doxography. which we see as stars. We may infer that Anaximander.

This movement of the sun wheel accounts for the seasons. Today. the celestial bodies do not circle around the earth in the same plane as the earth's . other Presocratics like Empedocles.flat . Why is it tilted at all? Who or what is responsible for this phenomenon? And why is it tilted just the way it is? Unfortunately. The result is that we see different stars in different seasons.we only observe a small part of the sun wheel. reaches its old position between the stars. as it moves towards the south. and Anaxagoras discuss the tilting of the heavens. This inclination amounts to about 38.5 degrees when measured at Delphi. Due to the inclination of the axis of the heaven. the inclination must be the same all over its surface.surface. Later. which is a counter-movement to the daily rotation from east to west. The same holds mutatis mutandis for the moon. This tilting of the heaven's axis must have been one of the biggest riddles of the universe. until the sun. we use to describe this movement of the sun (and mutatis mutandis of the moon and the planets) as a retrograde movement. but are tilted. it is not likely that Anaximander was acquainted with the obliquity of the ecliptic. from west to east. Diogenes of Apollonia. the doxography on Anaximander has nothing to tell us about this problem. A three-dimensional representation of Anaximander's universe is given in Figures 2 and 3. at the end of a year. the world's navel. The earth being flat. The ecliptic is a concept which belongs to the doctrine of a spherical earth within a spherical universe. In terms of Anaximander's ancient astronomy it is more appropriate and less anachronistic to describe it as a slower movement of the sun wheel from east to west. Although there exists a report that says the contrary. which is the yearly path of the sun along the stars. .

8. describes them. because Herodotus. The northern half was called "Europe. The first animals were a kind of fish. Anaximander's map must have been circular. and Asia Minor on the one side. Map of the World Anaximander is said to have made the first map of the world. Assyria. the world's navel. Italy.7. and Egypt and Libya on the other side). and Arabia. like the top of his drum-shaped earth. The lands to the south of it were the hot countries of the black burnt people." The habitable world (Greek: "oikoumenê") consisted of two relatively small strips of land to the north and south of the Mediterranean Sea (containing Spain. who has seen such old maps. The lands to the north of this small "habitable world" were the cold countries where mythical people lived. together with the lands to the east of the Mediterranean Sea: Palestine. we can imagine what it must have looked like. Persia. Biology The doxography tells us that according to Anaximander life originated from the moisture that covered the earth before it was dried up by the sun. Although this map has been lost. Greece. The Mediterranean Sea was in the middle of the map. which was divided into two halves by a line that ran through Delphi." the southern half "Asia. The river Ocean surrounded it. with a .

and G. 1976. Zürich/Hildesheim 1964 The standard collection of the texts of and the doxography on Anaximander and the other presocratics. by what we know of him. References and Further Reading Diels. Albany 2003 A volume with three recent studies on Anaximander. R. Kranz. Furley. New Essays on Plato and the Presocratics. H. like the mutilated and decapitated statue that has been found at the market-place of Miletus and that bears his name. Anaximander and the Origins of Greek Cosmology. we may say that he was one of the greatest minds that ever lived. Guthrie. eds. men were generated from fishes and were fed in the manner of a viviparous shark.. Kahn. I. D. J. M.thorny skin (the Greek word is the same that was used for the metaphor "the bark of a tree" in Anaximander's cosmology). Hahn. "Anaximander and the Arguments Concerning the Apeiron at Physics 203b4-1. Allen.E. Hamburg 1958. Raven.E. G. His work will always remain truncated. Schofield.A.S. A History of Greek Philosophy I.2640 . pp. King-Farlow. pp. "Anaximander's Argument. 10. Nevertheless. The Presocratic Philosophers. Equinoxes. New Y ork/London 1970 C ontains many interesting articles on Anaximander by different authors. Vol. Kapp." The Journal of Hellenic Studies 86. "Solstices. New Y ork 1960 (Indianapolis/Cambridge 1994) A classical study on Anaximander's cosmology and his fragment.H. Anaximander in Context. Couprie. Some authors have. 9. C." in: R.C. The reason for this is said to be that the human child needs long protection in order to survive.19-29. Two articles on some of Anaximander's arguments. The Beginnings of Philosophy. By speculating and arguing about the "Boundless" he was the first metaphysician. and R. also with many translations. eds. Originally. Cambridge 1995 (1957) The above two works each have a good survey of Anaximander's thoughts in the context of ancient Greek philosophy." in: Festschrift E. and the Presocratics. Conclusion It is no use trying to unify the information on Anaximander into one all-compassing and consistent whole.. By drawing a map of the world he was the first geographer.J. 1966. Naddaf.C. seen in these scattered statements a proto-evolutionist theory. Dicks. London/New Y ork 1985 (Cambridge 1962) Kirk.1-22. by boldly speculating about the universe he broke with the ancient image of the celestial vault and became the discoverer of the Western world-picture.. Shiner & J. Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker. But above all. and M.H. pp. Studies in Presocratic Philosophy. C. The Earlier Presocratics and the Pythagoreans. rather anachronistically. D.L. with translations of the most important doxography.K. and W. W.R. Stokes. Kahn. D.

215-232 A discussion of Anaximander's biology.H. pp. "On Early Greek Astronomy.L.H.' Heidel. Fragments et Témoignages. 1954.J." The Journal of Hellenic Studies 90. "Anaximander's Measurements. pp. D.A. Beiträge zum Verständnis der frühgriechischen Philosophie. M. 49-51 O'Brien. "Anaximander's Rings. M. Classen. 49-65 A recent article on 'innumerable worlds. pp. 1970. Albany 2001. pp. J.M. With a Discussion of the Discovery of the Sphericity of the Earth. Anaximandre. "Anaximander's Infinite Worlds. Loenen. New York 1937 An old but still valuable book on Anaximander's map of the world. D. R." in A. Couprie Email: dirkcouprie@dirkcouprie." Classical Quarterly 38. Oxford 1971 A discussion of possible Iranian influence on Anaximander. W. Preus.423-432 Two articles on important details of Anaximander's astronomy. "Was Anaximander an Evolutionist?" Mnemosyme The Netherlands .M. 1967. 1988. Paris 1991 The best book in French. C. The Frame of the Ancient Greek Maps. Furley. Ansätze. Würzburg/Amsterdam 1986 The best book in German.M. pp. Bodnár. Volume I. West." The Classical Quarterly 17. D.99-116 Two conflicting articles on Anaximander's astronomy.J. I. McKirahan.R. Ithaca/New York 1970 Two good books on early Greek astronomy. C. Early Greek Philosophy and the Orient. The Greek Cosmologists. ed. Early Greek Astronomy to Aristotle . Cambridge 1987 Dicks.. Author Information Dirk L. Essays in Ancient Greek Philosophy VI: Before Plato.Kahn. Conche.