Early Greek Philosophy by John Burnet, with Burnet's notes
180. The Vortex 182. Perception

From Chapter IX., Leukippos of Miletos

181. The Earth and the Heavenly Bodies
When we come to details, the reactionary character of the atomist cosmology is very manifest. The earth was heavenly shaped like a tambourine, and floated on the air.53 It was inclined towards the south because the heat of that region made the air thinner, while the ice and cold of the north made it denser and more able to support the earth.54 This accounts for the obliquity of the zodiac. Like Anaximander (§ 19), Leukippos held that the sun was farther away than the stars, though he also held that these were farther away than the moon.55 By this time the occultation of the planets by the moon must have been observed. There seems to be no very clear distinction between the planets and the fixed stars. Leukippos appears to have known the theory of eclipses as given by Anaxagoras.56 Such other pieces of information as have come down to us are mainly of interest as showing that, in some important respects, the doctrine of Leukippos was not the same as that taught afterwards by Demokritos.57

Burnet's Notes


53. Aet. iii. 3, 10, quoted above, p. 79, n. 1.

54. Aet. iii. 12, 1, Λεύκιππος παρεκπεσεῖν τὴν γὴν εἰς τὰ μεσημβρινὰ μέρη διὰ τὴν ἐν τοῖς μεσημβρινοῖς ἀραιότητα, ἅτε δὴ πεπηγότων τῶν βορείων διὰ τὸ κατεψῦχθαι τοῖς κρυμοῖς, τῶν δὲ ἀντιθέτων πεπυρωμένων..

55. Diog. ix. 33, εἶναι δὲ τὸν τοῦ ἡλίου κύκλον ἐξώτατον, τὸν δὲ τῆς σελήνης προσγειότατον, <τοὺς δὲ> τῶν ἄλλων μεταξὺ τούτων.

56. From Diog. loc. cit. (supya, p. 339), it appears that he dealt with the question of the greater frequency of lunar as compared with solar eclipses.

57. Diels pointed out that Leukippos's explanation of thunder (πυρὸς ἐναποληφθέντος νέφεσι παχυτάτοις ἔκπτωσιν ἰσχυρὰν βροντὴν ἀποτελεῖν ἀποφαίνεται, Aet. iii. 3, 10) is quite different from that of Demokritos (βροντὴν . . . ἐκ συγκρίματος ἀνωμάλου τὸ περιειληφὸς αὐτὸ νέφος πρὸς τὴν κάτω φορὰν ἐκβιαζομένου, ib. 11). The explanation given by Leukippos is derived from that of Anaximander, while Demokritos is influenced by Anaxagoras. See Diels, 35 Philol.-Vers. 97, 7.

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