Acron (Greek: Ἄκρων), son of Xenon, was an eminent Greek
physician born at
Agrigentum (Gk. Acragas).
The exact dates of
Acron is not known; but, as he is mentioned as
being contemporary with Empedocles, who died about the beginning of
the Peloponnesian War, he must have lived in the fifth century BC.
Sicily he went to
Athens and there opened a philosophical school
It is said that
Acron was in that city during the great plague (430
BC) and that large fires kindled in the streets at his direction for
the purpose of purifying the air proved of great service to several of
the sick. There is, however, no mention of this in
Thucydides, and if
Simonides (d. 467 BC) in fact
wrote the epitaph on Acron, he may not have been in
Athens during the
On Acron's return to his native country, the physician asked the
senate for a spot of ground where he might build a family tomb. The
request was refused at the suggestion of Empedocles, who conceived
that such a grant for such a purpose would interfere with the
principle of equality that he was anxious to establish at Agrigentum.
Because the ironic epitaph on the "Acragantine Acron" is among the
most replete jeux de mot on record, it so challenges translation that
it will be given in Greek to preserve the paronomasia of the original:
ἄκρον ἱητρὸν Ἄκρων' Ἀκραγαντῖνον
κρύπτει κρημνὸς ἄκρος πατρίδος
The second line was sometimes read thus:
ἀκροτάτης κορυφῆς τύμβος ἄκρος
More or less: "The lofty physician Loftyman of Loftyville, son of a
lofty father, is hidden here under a lofty crag in the loftiest of
fatherlands," or "is covered by the lofty tomb of a very lofty peak."
Some attributed the whole epigram to Simonides.
Acron as the first of the Empirics. But this has
been considered an error, for the sect alluded to did not arise until
the third century BC, roughly 200 years after the time of Acron. Some
scholars consider that the sect of the Empirici, in order to boast of
a greater antiquity than the Dogmatics (founded about 400 BC by
Thessalus the son and Polybus the son-in-law of Hippocrates), merely
Acron as their founder.
None of Acron's works are now extant, though he wrote several in the
Doric dialect on medical and physical subjects, the titles of which
are preserved by the
Suda and Eudocia.
^ Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride 80
^ Oribasius, Synops. 6.24, p. 97
^ Aëtius Amidenus, tetrab. 2, serm. 1.94, p. 223
^ Paul Aegin. 2.35, p. 406
Thucydides 2.49 &c.
Suda s.v. Ἄκρων
^ Eudoc., Violar. ap. Villoison, Anecd. Gr. 1.49
Diogenes Laërtius 8.65
^ Pliny the Elder, Naturalis historia 29.1
^ Pseudo-Gal., Introd. 4, vol. xiv, p. 683
^ Greenhill, William Alexander (1867), "
Acron (2)", in Smith, William,
Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1, Boston, MA,
Rose, Hugh James (1857). "Acron". A New General Biographical
Dictionary. London: B. Fellowes et al.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Smith, William, ed. (1870). "
Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Myth