Posidonius of Apameia or Rhodes (c. 135 BC – c. 51 BC)

Although Greek Stoic philosopher, politician, astronomer, geographer, historian and teacher Posidonius (of Poseidon) of Apameia or Rhodes (c. 135 BC – c. 51 BC) was acclaimed as the greatest polymath of his age, only fragments of his vast body of work exist today

Posidonius was born to a Greek family in Apamea in northern Syria and completed his higher education at the Stoic school in Athens, but came into conflict with the Stoic doctrines. 

After heated debates with other members of the school, he gave up on Stoicism and turned to Plato and Aristotle. He remained a faithful follower of the latter's doctrines until his death.

After travelling extensively across Europe and northern Africa, around 95 BC he settled in Rhodes, an island state with a reputation for scientific research. 

He took an active part in political life on the island, serving as one of the Prytaneis (presidents) of Rhodes and as an ambassador to Rome in 87–86 BC. 

Like other Greek intellectuals of the day, Posidonius saw Rome as a stabilising force in a turbulent world and befriended Cicero and other leading members of the Roman ruling class, apparently moving with ease through the upper echelons of Roman society. Both Cicero and Pompey visited him after his return to Rhodes.

Those connections would prove useful as Posidonius continued to travel within the Roman world and, at times, beyond its boundaries.

Travels and Writings

© Ian Hughes 2017