Who is Poseidonios (Poseidonius)?

Who is Poseidonios (Poseidonius)?

June 26, 2021 Off By Felso

Poseidonios of Apameia BC. Greek philosopher who lived from 135 to 51 BC.

He is the influential thinker of the Middle Stoa, who lived between 135-51 BC. Poseidonius, who made a synthesis of rationality and mysticism in his views, developed an understanding of degrees of Being while maintaining the Stoic monism.

He is considered the most knowledgeable member of his time, and possibly of the entire Stoic school.

Known as the “athlete”, Poseidonios was born in Apameia, Syria. He became a student of the Greek Stoic philosopher Panaitios, and after going to many places, he settled in Rhodes and started teaching. His fame began to attract many scholars here. With his writings and personal relationships, he was the most influential person after Panaitios in spreading Stoicism in the Roman world. Only the titles and subjects of his more than 20 works, none of which have survived, are known.

Like other Stoics of the middle period, Poseidonios is an eclectic thinker who combines the views of the older Stoics with the views of Plato and Aristotle. But he differs from his contemporary Stoics in his ethical doctrine that human passions are not merely false judgments but internal qualities. Poseidonios, who was also interested in natural science, geography, astronomy and mathematics, tried to calculate the diameter of the Earth, the effect of the Moon on the tides, the distance and size of the Sun. B.C. His 52-volume historical work, covering the years 146-88, has been a reliable source of information for ancient writers.

Poseidonios did not establish his own school in Athens, but on the island of Rhodes, where he was born. Only a few fragments of his works have reached us. There is no doubt that Poseidonios was a versatile thinker who had a great impact on the late Antiquity. Poseidonios, who had one of the largest libraries of the First Age, was also an astronomer, physicist, geographer and historian. Poseidonios, who was the first to try to find out the size of the world, was wrong in his calculations and calculated the world smaller than it was. However, his conclusion about the world has had a historical effect. Because Christopher Columbus believed that he could make a world tour with small ships and go to India based on the calculations of Poseidonos. If Christopher Columbus had not relied on these calculations, he would not have taken his famous voyage and perhaps America would never have been discovered again.

The remarkable thing about Poseidonios is that he did not mix his scientific thoughts with some superstition. This versatile scholar also believed in astrology and also believed in reading the future. In addition, Poseidonios believed that the space between man and God was not empty, he had no doubt that this space was filled with some superhuman creatures, “Daemons”. These Daemons (whether these disembodied creatures are called angels or something else) have an important place in Poseidonios’ thought of the universe. In addition, Poseidonios adds elements taken from the mythologies of various nations to the idea of ​​the universe. He perceives the myths of various religions not as a result of human imagination, but as scientific views and insights about the supernatural universe. Even with this thought, Poseidonios becomes a typical representative of the philosophical thought of the late Antiquity.

With Poseicionios, the great representative of the Middle Stoa, we have reached the last period of the First Age. We know that after Aristotle’s death, philosophy was divided into various schools and there was a fierce competition between these schools. We witness that the metaphysical and moral views represented by the schools of philosophy also replace a religion for the intellectuals. Because Homer’s Gods had now lost their hold on the Greek soul. There was also a growing need for religion at the end of the First Age. During this period, the issues of immortality and the afterlife of the soul were a problem for many people. Thus, the attention of many people turned to the “unseen”, the “supernatural”. The need and interest in religion in this period; The relations between the Greco-Roman world on the one hand, and the eastern world on the other, eventually enriched. The cultural movement that started with Alexander’s Asian Campaign had the opportunity to spread under the name of “Hellenism”. Thanks to the empire of Alexander, the Greek language and culture penetrated into the East. As a result of this historical formation, Greek became the general cultural language of the area extending to the entire Mediterranean region and beyond.

Despite the Greek culture’s influence on the East, some religious movements spread from the East to the West. The religious structures that emerged as a result of these movements were called “Hellenist religions”. These religious structures varied greatly, and each gave birth to a new God. The first common feature of these religious structures was the consensus on the immortality of the soul. Secondly, the concept of transmigration, that is, evolving in certain ways after death and returning to life again, appeared as common points.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Department of Sociology 1st Grade “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “F”