Early Greek Philosophy by John Burnet, with Burnet's notes
150. The Central Fire 152. The Harmony of the Spheres

From Chapter VII., The Pythagoreans

151. The Antichthon
The existence of the antichthon was also a hypothesis intended to account for the phenomena of eclipses. In one place, indeed, Aristotle says the Pythagoreans invented it in order to bring the number of revolving bodies up to ten;110 but that is a mere sally, and Aristotle really knew better. In his work on the Pythagoreans, he said that eclipses of the moon were caused sometimes by the intervention of the earth and sometimes by that of the antichthon; and the same statement was made by Philip of Opous, a very competent authority on the matter.111 Indeed, Aristotle shows in another passage how the theory originated. He tells us that some thought there might be a considerable number of bodies revolving round the centre, though invisible to us because of the intervention of the earth, and that they accounted in this way for there being more eclipses of the moon than of the sun.112 This is mentioned in close connexion with the antichthon, so Aristotle clearly regarded the two hypotheses as of the same nature. The history of the theory seems to be this. Anaximenes had assumed the existence of dark planets to account for lunar eclipses (§ 29), and Anaxagoras had revived that view (§ 135). Certain Pythagoreans113 had placed these dark planets between the earth and the central fire in order to account for their invisibility, and the next stage was to reduce them to a single body. Here again we see how the Pythagoreans tried to simplify the hypotheses of their predecessors.

Burnet's Notes


110. Arist. Met. A, 5. 986 a 3 (R. P. 83 b).

111. Aet. ii. 29, 4, τῶν Πυθαγορείων τινὲς κατὰ τὴν Ἀριστοτέλειον ἱστορίαν καὶ τὴν Φιλίππου τοῦ Ὀπουντίου ἀπόφασιν ἀνταυγείᾳ καὶ ἀντιφράξει τοτὲ μὲν τῆς γῆς, τοτὲ δὲ τῆς ἀντίχθονος (ἐκλείπειν τὴν σελήνην).

112. Arist. De caelo, B, 13. 293 b 21, ἐνίοις δὲ δοκεῖ καὶ πλείω σώματα τοιαῦτα ἐνδέχεσθαι φέρεσθαι περὶ τὸ μέσον ἡμῖν ἄδηλα διὰ τὴν ἐπιπρόσθησιν τῆς γῆς. διὸ καὶ τὰς τῆς σελήνης ἐκλειψεις πλείους ἢ τὰς τοῦ ἡλίου γίγνεσθαί φασιν· τῶν γὰρ φερομένων ἕκαστον ἀντιφράττειν αὐτήν, ἀλλ' οὐ μόνον τὴν γῆν.

113. It is not expressly stated that they were Pythagoreans, but it is natural to suppose so. So, at least, Alexander thought (Simpl. De caelo, p. 515, 25).

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