The Info List - Democritus

--- Advertisement ---

(/dɪˈmɒkrɪtəs/; Greek: Δημόκριτος, Dēmókritos, meaning "chosen of the people"; c. 460 – c. 370 BC) was an Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
pre-Socratic philosopher primarily remembered today for his formulation of an atomic theory of the universe.[3] Democritus
was born in Abdera, Thrace,[4] around 460 BC, although some thought it was 490 BC. His exact contributions are difficult to disentangle from those of his mentor Leucippus, as they are often mentioned together in texts. Their speculation on atoms, taken from Leucippus, bears a passing and partial resemblance to the 19th-century understanding of atomic structure that has led some to regard Democritus
as more of a scientist than other Greek philosophers; however, their ideas rested on very different bases.[5] Largely ignored in ancient Athens, Democritus
is said to have been disliked so much by Plato
that the latter wished all of his books burned.[6] He was nevertheless well known to his fellow northern-born philosopher Aristotle. Many consider Democritus
to be the "father of modern science".[7] None of his writings have survived; only fragments are known from his vast body of work.[8]


1 Life 2 Philosophy
and science

2.1 Aesthetics 2.2 Atomic hypothesis 2.3 Void hypothesis 2.4 Epistemology 2.5 Ethics and politics 2.6 Mathematics 2.7 Anthropology, biology, and cosmology

3 Twentieth-century appraisals 4 Works 5 Eponymous institutions 6 Numismatics 7 See also 8 Notes 9 Citations 10 References 11 Further reading 12 External links


by Hendrick ter Brugghen, 1628

Rembrandt, The Young Rembrandt
as Democritus
the Laughing Philosopher (1628-29)

was said to be born in the city of Abdera in Thrace, an Ionian colony of Teos,[9] although some called him a Milesian.[10] He was born in the 80th Olympiad
(460–457 BC) according to Apollodorus of Athens,[11] and although Thrasyllus placed his birth in 470 BC,[11] the later date is probably more likely.[12] John Burnet has argued that the date of 460 is "too early" since, according to Diogenes Laërtius
Diogenes Laërtius
ix.41, Democritus
said that he was a "young man (neos)" during Anaxagoras's old age (c. 440–428).[13] It was said that Democritus's father was from a noble family and so wealthy that he received Xerxes on his march through Abdera. Democritus
spent the inheritance which his father left him on travels into distant countries, to satisfy his thirst for knowledge. He traveled to Asia, and was even said to have reached India and Ethiopia.[14] It is known that he wrote on Babylon
and Meroe; he visited Egypt, and Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus
states that he lived there for five years.[15] He himself declared[16] that among his contemporaries none had made greater journeys, seen more countries, and met more scholars than himself. He particularly mentions the Egyptian mathematicians, whose knowledge he praises. Theophrastus, too, spoke of him as a man who had seen many countries.[17] During his travels, according to Diogenes Laërtius, he became acquainted with the Chaldean magi. "Ostanes", one of the magi accompanying Xerxes, was also said to have taught him.[18] After returning to his native land he occupied himself with natural philosophy. He traveled throughout Greece to acquire a better knowledge of its cultures. He mentions many Greek philosophers in his writings, and his wealth enabled him to purchase their writings. Leucippus, the founder of atomism, was the greatest influence upon him. He also praises Anaxagoras.[19] Diogenes Laertius says that he was friends with Hippocrates.[20] He may have been acquainted with Socrates, but Plato
does not mention him and Democritus
himself is quoted as saying, "I came to Athens and no one knew me."[21] Aristotle placed him among the pre-Socratic natural philosophers.[22] The many anecdotes about Democritus, especially in Diogenes Laërtius, attest to his disinterest, modesty, and simplicity, and show that he lived exclusively for his studies. One story has him deliberately blinding himself in order to be less disturbed in his pursuits;[23] it may well be true that he lost his sight in old age. He was cheerful, and was always ready to see the comical side of life, which later writers took to mean that he always laughed at the foolishness of people.[24] He was highly esteemed by his fellow citizens, because as Diogenes Laërtius says, "he had foretold them some things which events proved to be true," which may refer to his knowledge of natural phenomena. According to Diodorus Siculus,[25] Democritus
died at the age of 90, which would put his death around 370 BC, but other writers have him living to 104,[26] or even 109.[27] Popularly known as the Laughing Philosopher (for laughing at human follies), the terms Abderitan laughter, which means scoffing, incessant laughter, and Abderite, which means a scoffer, are derived from Democritus.[28] To his fellow citizens he was also known as "The Mocker". Philosophy
and science[edit]

Democritus meditating on the seat of the soul
Democritus meditating on the seat of the soul
by Léon-Alexandre Delhomme (1868).

Most sources say that Democritus
followed in the tradition of Leucippus
and that they carried on the scientific rationalist philosophy associated with Miletus. Both were thoroughly materialist, believing everything to be the result of natural laws. Unlike Aristotle
or Plato, the atomists attempted to explain the world without reasoning as to purpose, prime mover, or final cause. For the atomists questions of physics should be answered with a mechanistic explanation ("What earlier circumstances caused this event?"), while their opponents search for explanations which, in addition to the material and mechanistic, also included the formal and teleological ("What purpose did this event serve?"). Aesthetics[edit] Later Greek historians consider Democritus
to have established aesthetics as a subject of investigation and study,[29] as he wrote theoretically on poetry and fine art long before authors such as Aristotle. Specifically, Thrasyllus identified six works in the philosopher's oeuvre which had belonged to aesthetics as a discipline, but only fragments of the relevant works are extant; hence of all Democritus's writings on these matters, only a small percentage of his thoughts and ideas can be known. Atomic hypothesis[edit] See also: Atomism The theory of Democritus
held that everything is composed of "atoms", which are physically, but not geometrically, indivisible; that between atoms, there lies empty space; that atoms are indestructible, and have always been and always will be in motion; that there is an infinite number of atoms and of kinds of atoms, which differ in shape and size. Of the mass of atoms, Democritus
said, "The more any indivisible exceeds, the heavier it is". But his exact position on atomic weight is disputed.[4] Leucippus
is widely credited with having been the first to develop the theory of atomism, although Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
preferred to credit the obscure Mochus the Phoenician (whom he believed to be the biblical Moses) as the inventor of the idea on the authority of Posidonius
and Strabo.[30] The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
notes, "This theologically motivated view does not seem to claim much historical evidence, however".[31] Democritus, along with Leucippus
and Epicurus, proposed the earliest views on the shapes and connectivity of atoms. They reasoned that the solidness of the material corresponded to the shape of the atoms involved. Thus, iron atoms are solid and strong with hooks that lock them into a solid; water atoms are smooth and slippery; salt atoms, because of their taste, are sharp and pointed; and air atoms are light and whirling, pervading all other materials.[32] Using analogies from humans' sense experiences, he gave a picture or an image of an atom that distinguished them from each other by their shape, their size, and the arrangement of their parts. Moreover, connections were explained by material links in which single atoms were supplied with attachments: some with hooks and eyes others with balls and sockets.[33] The Democritean atom is an inert solid (merely excluding other bodies from its volume) that interacts with other atoms mechanically. In contrast, modern, quantum-mechanical atoms interact via electric and magnetic force fields and are far from inert. The theory of the atomists appears to be more nearly aligned with that of modern science than any other theory of antiquity. However, the similarity with modern concepts of science can be confusing when trying to understand where the hypothesis came from. It is obvious that classical atomists would never have had a solid empirical basis for modern concepts of atoms and molecules. However, Lucretius, describing atomism in his De rerum natura, gives very clear and compelling empirical arguments for the original atomist theory. He observes that any material is subject to irreversible decay. Through time, even hard rocks are slowly worn down by drops of water. Things have the tendency to get mixed up: Mix water with soil and mud will result, seldom disintegrating by itself. Wood decays. However, there are mechanisms in nature and technology to recreate "pure" materials like water, air, and metals.[citation needed] The seed of an oak will grow out into an oak tree, made of similar wood as historical oak trees, the wood of which has already decayed. The conclusion is that many properties of materials must derive from something inside, that will itself never decay, something that stores for eternity the same inherent, indivisible properties. The basic question is: Why has everything in the world not yet decayed, and how can exactly some of the same materials, plants, and animals be recreated again and again? One obvious solution to explain how indivisible properties can be conveyed in a way not easily visible to human senses, is to hypothesize the existence of "atoms". These classical "atoms" are nearer to humans' modern concept of "molecule" than to the atoms of modern science. The other central point of classical atomism is that there must be considerable open space between these "atoms": the void. Lucretius
gives reasonable arguments[citation needed] that the void is absolutely necessary to explain how gasses and liquids can flow and change shape, while metals can be molded without their basic material properties changing. Void hypothesis[edit] The atomistic void hypothesis was a response to the paradoxes of Parmenides
and Zeno, the founders of metaphysical logic, who put forth difficult to answer arguments in favor of the idea that there can be no movement. They held that any movement would require a void—which is nothing—but a nothing cannot exist. The Parmenidean position was "You say there is a void; therefore the void is not nothing; therefore there is not the void".[34][35] The position of Parmenides
appeared validated by the observation that where there seems to be nothing there is air, and indeed even where there is not matter there is something, for instance light waves. The atomists agreed that motion required a void, but simply ignored the argument of Parmenides
on the grounds that motion was an observable fact. Therefore, they asserted, there must be a void. This idea survived in a refined version as Newton's theory of absolute space, which met the logical requirements of attributing reality to not-being. Einstein's theory of relativity provided a new answer to Parmenides
and Zeno, with the insight that space by itself is relative and cannot be separated from time as part of a generally curved space-time manifold. Consequently, Newton's refinement is now considered superfluous.[36] Epistemology[edit]

by Luca Giordano (c. 1690).

The knowledge of truth, according to Democritus, is difficult, since the perception through the senses is subjective. As from the same senses derive different impressions for each individual, then through the sensual impressions we cannot judge the truth. We can interpret the senses' data only through the intellect and grasp the truth, because the truth is at the bottom:

And again, many of the other animals receive impressions contrary to ours; and even to the senses of each individual, things do not always seem the same. Which then, of these impressions are true and which are false is not obvious; for the one set is no more true than the other, but both are alike. And this is why Democritus, at any rate, says that either there is no truth or to us at least it is not evident.[37]


says: By convention hot, by convention cold, but in reality atoms and void, and also in reality we know nothing, since the truth is at bottom.[38]

There are two kinds of knowing, the one he calls "legitimate" (γνησίη, gnēsiē, "genuine") and the other "bastard" (σκοτίη, skotiē, "secret"). The "bastard" knowledge is concerned with the perception through the senses; therefore it is insufficient and subjective. The reason is that the sensual perception is due to the effluences of the atoms from the objects to the senses. When these different shapes of atoms come to us, they stimulate our senses according to their shape, and our sensual impressions arise from those stimulations.[39] The second sort of knowledge, the "legitimate" one, can be achieved through the intellect, in other words, all the sense data from the "bastard" must be elaborated through reasoning. In this way one can get away from the false perception of the "bastard" knowledge and grasp the truth through the inductive reasoning. After taking into account the sense impressions, one can examine the causes of the appearances, draw conclusions about the laws that govern the appearances, and discover the causality (αἰτιολογία, aetiologia) by which they are related. This is the procedure of thought from the parts to the whole or else from the apparent to nonapparent (inductive reasoning). This is one example of why Democritus
is considered to be an early scientific thinker. The process is reminiscent of that by which science gathers its conclusions:

But in the Canons Democritus
says there are two kinds of knowing, one through the senses and the other through the intellect. Of these he calls the one through the intellect 'legitimate' attesting its trustworthiness for the judgment of truth, and through the senses he names 'bastard' denying its inerrancy in the discrimination of what is true. To quote his actual words: Of knowledge there are two forms, one legitimate, one bastard. To the bastard belong all this group: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch. The other is legitimate and separate from that. Then, preferring the legitimate to the bastard, he continues: When the bastard can no longer see any smaller, or hear, or smell, or taste, or perceive by touch, but finer matters have to be examined, then comes the legitimate, since it has a finer organ of perception.[40]


In the Confirmations ... he says: But we in actuality grasp nothing for certain, but what shifts in accordance with the condition of the body and of the things (atoms) which enter it and press upon it.[41]

As well as:

used to say that 'he prefers to discover a causality rather than become a king of Persia'.[42]

Ethics and politics[edit]

Crying Heraclitus
and laughing Democritus, from a 1477 Italian fresco, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan.

The ethics and politics of Democritus
come to us mostly in the form of maxims. As such, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
has gone as far as to say that: "despite the large number of ethical sayings, it is difficult to construct a coherent account of Democritus's ethical views" and noting that there is a "difficulty of deciding which fragments are genuinely Democritean".[43] He says that "Equality is everywhere noble", but he is not encompassing enough to include women or slaves in this sentiment. Poverty in a democracy is better than prosperity under tyrants, for the same reason one is to prefer liberty over slavery. In his History of Western Philosophy, Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell
writes that Democritus
was in love with "what the Greeks called democracy." Democritus
said that "the wise man belongs to all countries, for the home of a great soul is the whole world."[44] Democritus
wrote that those in power should "take it upon themselves to lend to the poor and to aid them and to favor them, then is there pity and no isolation but companionship and mutual defense and concord among the citizens and other good things too many to catalogue". Money when used with sense leads to generosity and charity, while money used in folly leads to a common expense for the whole society—excessive hoarding of money for one's children is avarice. While making money is not useless, he says, doing so as a result of wrongdoing is the "worst of all things". He is on the whole ambivalent towards wealth, and values it much less than self-sufficiency. He disliked violence but was not a pacifist: he urged cities to be prepared for war, and believed that a society had the right to execute a criminal or enemy so long as this did not violate some law, treaty, or oath.[3] Goodness, he believed, came more from practice and discipline than from innate human nature. He believed that one should distance oneself from the wicked, stating that such association increases disposition to vice. Anger, while difficult to control, must be mastered in order for one to be rational. Those who take pleasure from the disasters of their neighbors fail to understand that their fortunes are tied to the society in which they live, and they rob themselves of any joy of their own. Democritus
believed that happiness was a property of the soul. He advocated a life of contentment with as little grief as possible, which he said could not be achieved through either idleness or preoccupation with worldly pleasures. Contentment would be gained, he said, through moderation and a measured life; to be content one must set their judgment on the possible and be satisfied with what one has—giving little thought to envy or admiration. Democritus
approved of extravagance on occasion, as he held that feasts and celebrations were necessary for joy and relaxation. He considers education to be the noblest of pursuits, but cautioned that learning without sense leads to error.[3] Mathematics[edit]

Right circular and oblique circular cones

was also a pioneer of mathematics and geometry in particular. We only know this through citations of his works (titled On Numbers, On Geometrics, On Tangencies, On Mapping, and On Irrationals) in other writings, since most of Democritus's body of work did not survive the Middle Ages. Democritus
was among the first to observe that a cone or pyramid has one-third the volume of a cylinder or prism respectively with the same base and height. Anthropology, biology, and cosmology[edit] His work on nature is known through citations of his books on the subjects, On the Nature of Man, On Flesh (two books), On Mind, On the Senses, On Flavors, On Colors, Causes concerned with Seeds and Plants and Fruits, and Causes concerned with Animals (three books).[3] He spent much of his life experimenting with and examining plants and minerals, and wrote at length on many scientific topics.[45] Democritus
thought that the first humans lived an anarchic and animal sort of life, going out to forage individually and living off the most palatable herbs and the fruit which grew wild on the trees. They were driven together into societies for fear of wild animals, he said. He believed that these early people had no language, but that they gradually began to articulate their expressions, establishing symbols for every sort of object, and in this manner came to understand each other. He says that the earliest men lived laboriously, having none of the utilities of life; clothing, houses, fire, domestication, and farming were unknown to them. Democritus
presents the early period of mankind as one of learning by trial and error, and says that each step slowly led to more discoveries; they took refuge in the caves in winter, stored fruits that could be preserved, and through reason and keenness of mind came to build upon each new idea.[3][46] Democritus
held that originally the universe was composed of nothing but tiny atoms churning in chaos, until they collided together to form larger units—including the earth and everything on it.[3] He surmised that there are many worlds, some growing, some decaying; some with no sun or moon, some with several. He held that every world has a beginning and an end and that a world could be destroyed by collision with another world. To epitomize Democritus's cosmology, Russell calls on Shelley: "Worlds on worlds are rolling ever / From creation to decay, / Like the bubbles on a river / Sparkling, bursting, borne away".[47] Twentieth-century appraisals[edit] According to Bertrand Russell, the point of view of Leucippus
and Democritus
"was remarkably like that of modern science, and avoided most of the faults to which Greek speculation was prone."[48] Karl R. Popper[44] admires Democritus's rationalism, humanism, and love of freedom and writes that Democritus, along with fellow countryman Protagoras, "formulated the doctrine that human institutions of language, custom, and law are not taboos but man-made, not natural but conventional, insisting, at the same time, that we are responsible for them." Works[edit]

v t e

Works by Democritus


Pythagoras On the Disposition of the Wise Man On the Things in Hades Tritogenia On Manliness or On Virtue The Horn of Amaltheia On Contentment Ethical Commentaries

Natural science

The Great World-Ordering a Cosmography On the Planets On Nature On the Nature of Man or On Flesh b On the Mind On the Senses On Flavours On Colours On Different Shapes On Changing Shape Buttresses On Images On Logic c


Heavenly Causes Atmospheric Causes Terrestrial Causes Causes Concerned with Fire and Things in Fire Causes Concerned with Sounds Causes Concerned with Seeds and Plants and Fruits Causes Concerned with Animals c Miscellaneous Causes On Magnets


On Different Angles or On contact of Circles and Spheres On Geometry Geometry Numbers On Irrational Lines and Solids b Planispheres On the Great Year or Astronomy d Contest of the Waterclock Description of the Heavens Geography Description of the Poles Description of Rays of Light


On the Rhythms and Harmony On Poetry On the Beauty of Verses On Euphonious and Harsh-sounding Letters On Homer On Song On Verbs Names


Prognosis On Diet Medical Judgment Causes Concerning Appropriate and Inappropriate Occasions On Farming On Painting Tactics Fighting in Armor


On the Sacred Writings of Babylon On Those in Meroe Circumnavigation of the Ocean On History Chaldaean Account Phrygian Account On Fever and Coughing Sicknesses Legal Causes Problems

a May have been written by Leucippus b Two books c Three books d Calendar

Source: Jonathan Barnes, Early Greek Philosophy
(Penguin 1987), pp. 245–246.

Eponymous institutions[edit]

University of Thrace National Centre of Scientific Research "DEMOKRITOS"

Numismatics[edit] Democritus
was depicted on the following contemporary coins/banknotes:

The reverse of the Greek 10 drachmas coin of 1976–2001.[49] The obverse of the Greek 100 drachmas banknote of 1967–1978.[50]

See also[edit]

Atom Democrates John Dalton Kanada Leucippus Lucretius Mochus Pseudo-Democritus Vaisheshika


^ The idea that atoms and void as the fundamental constituents of the world (DK B125: "ἐτεῇ δὲ ἄτομα καὶ κενόν").


^ DK 68 B118. ^ DK 59 A80: Aristotle, Meteorologica
342b. ^ a b c d e f Barnes (1987). ^ a b Russell, pp. 64–65. ^ Stephen Toulmin and June Goodfield, The Architecture of Matter (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962), 56. ^ Diogenes Laërtius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, ix. 40: " Aristoxenus
in his Historical Notes affirms that Plato
wished to burn all the writings of Democritus
that he could collect". ^ Pamela Gossin, Encyclopedia of Literature and Science, 2002. ^ Democritus
at Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ^ Aristotle, De Coel. iii.4, Meteor. ii.7 ^ Diogenes Laërtius, ix. 34, etc. ^ a b Diogenes Laërtius, ix. 41. ^ "The latter date [460 BC] is perhaps somewhat preferable, especially given the evident temptation to classify Democritus
as older than Socrates
on generic grounds, i.e. that Democritus
was the last 'scientific' philosopher, Socrates
the first 'ethical' one". Cynthia Farrar, 1989, The Origins of Democratic Thinking: The Invention of Politics in Classical Athens, page 195. Cambridge University Press ^ John Burnet (1955). Greek Philosophy: Thales
to Plato, London: Macmillan, p. 194. ^ Cicero, de Finibus, v.19; Strabo, xvi. ^ Diodorus, i.98. ^ Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, i. ^ Aelian, Varia Historia, iv. 20; Diogenes Laërtius, ix. 35. ^ Tatian, Orat. cont. Graec. 17. "However, this Democritus, whom Tatian identified with the philosopher, was a certain Bolus of Mendes who, under the name of Democritus, wrote a book on sympathies and antipathies" – Owsei Temkin (1991), Hippocrates
in a World of Pagans and Christians, p. 120. JHU Press. ^ Diogenes Laërtius, ii.14; Sextus vii.140. ^ Diogenes Laërtius, ix.42. ^ Diogenes Laertius 9.36 and Cicero
Tusculanae Quaestiones 5.36.104, cited in p. 349 n. 2 of W. K. C. Guthrie (1965), A History of Greek Philosophy, vol. 2, Cambridge. ^ Aristotle, Metaph. xiii.4; Phys. ii.2, de Partib. Anim. i.1 ^ Cicero, de Finibus v.29; Aulus Gellius, x.17; Diogenes Laërtius, ix.36; Cicero, Tusculanae Quaestiones v.39. ^ Seneca, de Ira, ii.10; Aelian, Varia Historia, iv.20. ^ Diodorus, xiv.11.5. ^ Lucian, Macrobii 18 ^ Hipparchus
ap. Diogenes Laërtius, ix.43. ^ Brewer, E. Cobham (1978) [reprint of 1894 version]. The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Edwinstowe, England: Avenel Books. p. 3. ISBN 0-517-25921-4.  ^ Tatarkiewicz, Wladyslaw. History of Aesthetics: Edited by J. Harrell, C. Barrett and D. Petsch (p. 89 -. A&C Black, 1 Apr 2006 ISBN 0826488552. Retrieved 2015-05-06.  ^ Derek Gjertsen (1986), The Newton Handbook, p. 468. ^ Sylvia Berryman (2005). "Ancient Atomism", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. – Retrieved on 15 July 2009. ^ Pfeffer, Jeremy, I.; Nir, Shlomo (2001). Modern Physics: An Introduction Text. World Scientific Publishing Company. p. 183. ISBN 1-86094-250-4.  ^ See testimonia DK 68 A 80, DK 68 A 37 and DK 68 A 43. See also Cassirer, Ernst (1953). An Essay on Man: an Introduction to the Philosophy
of Human Culture. Doubleday & Co. p. 214. ASIN B0007EK5MM.  ^ Russell, p. 69. ^ Aristotle, Phys. iv.6 ^ Russell, pp. 69–71. ^ Aristotle, Metaphysics
iv.1009 b 7. ^ Fr. 117 (Bakalis (2005)): Diogenes Laërtius
Diogenes Laërtius
ix.72. ^ Fr. 135 (Bakalis (2005)): Theophrastus
12, De Sensu [On the Senses], 49–83. ^ Fr. 11 (Bakalis (2005)): Sextus vii.138. ^ Fr. 9 (Bakalis (2005)): Sextus vii.136. ^ Fr. 118 (Bakalis (2005)) ^ " Democritus
(Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)". Plato.stanford.edu. Retrieved 15 October 2012.  ^ a b Popper, Karl R. (1945). The Open Society and its Enemies. Vol I.: The Spell of Plato. London: George Routledge & Sons.  ^ Petronius
ch. 88. ^ Diodorus I.viii.1–7. ^ Russell, pp. 71–72. ^ Russell (1972, p.85). ^ Bank of Greece Archived 28 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine.. Drachma Banknotes & Coins: 10 drachmas Archived 1 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine.. – Retrieved on 27 March 2009. ^ J. Bourjaily. Banknotes featuring Scientists and Mathematicians. – Retrieved on 7 December 2009.


Bailey, C. (1928). The Greek Atomists and Epicurus. Oxford. Bakalis, Nikolaos (2005). Handbook of Greek Philosophy: From Thales
to the Stoics: Analysis and Fragments, Trafford Publishing, ISBN 1-4120-4843-5. Barnes, Jonathan (1982). The Presocratic Philosophers, Routledge Revised Edition. _____ (1987). Early Greek Philosophy, Penguin. Burnet, J. (2003). Early Greek Philosophy, Kessinger Publishing Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus
(1st century BC). Bibliotheca historica. Diogenes Laërtius
Diogenes Laërtius
(3rd century AD). Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers. Freeman, Kathleen (2008). Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers: A Complete Translation of the Fragments in Diels, Forgotten Books, ISBN 978-1-60680-256-4. Guthrie, W. K. (1979) A History of Greek Philosophy—The Presocratic tradition from Parmenides
to Democritus, Cambridge University Press. Kirk, G. S., J. E. Raven and M. Schofield (1983). The Presocratic Philosophers, Cambridge University Press, 2nd edition.  Laërtius, Diogenes (1925). "Others: Democritus". Lives of the Eminent Philosophers. 2:9. Translated by Hicks, Robert Drew (Two volume ed.). Loeb Classical Library.  Melchert, Norman (2002). The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy. McGraw Hill. ISBN 0-19-517510-7.  Pyle, C. M. (1997). ' Democritus
and Heracleitus: An Excursus on the Cover of this Book,' Milan
and Lombardy
in the Renaissance. Essays in Cultural History. Rome, La Fenice. (Istituto di Filologia Moderna, Università di Parma: Testi e Studi, Nuova Serie: Studi 1.) (Fortuna of the Laughing and Weeping Philosophers topos) Petronius
(late 1st century AD). Satyricon. Trans. William Arrowsmith. New York: A Meridian Book, 1987. Russell, Bertrand (1972). A History of Western Philosophy, Simon & Schuster. Sextus Empiricus
Sextus Empiricus
(c. 200 AD). Adversus Mathematicos.

Library resources about Democritus

Online books Resources in your library Resources in other libraries

By Democritus

Online books Resources in your library Resources in other libraries

Further reading[edit]

Brumbaugh, Robert S. (1964). The Philosophers of Greece. New York: Crowell.  Burnet, John (1914). Greek Philosophy: Thales
to Plato. London: Macmillan.  Lee, Mi-Kyoung (2005). Epistemology after Protagoras: responses to relativism in Plato, Aristotle, and Democritus. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-01-99-26222-9. Retrieved September 22, 2016.  Sandywell, Barry (1996). Presocratic Reflexivity: The Construction of Philosophical Discourse c. 600 - 450 BC. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-10170-0.  Vlastos, Gregory (1945–1946). "Ethics and Physics in Democritus". Philosophical Review. 54-55: 578–592, 53–64. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Democritus
and Laughing Democritus.

Quotations related to Democritus
at Wikiquote Works written by or about Democritus
at Wikisource Berryman, Sylvia. "Democritus". In Zalta, Edward N. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  "Democritus". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Democritus", MacTutor History of Mathematics
archive, University of St Andrews .

v t e

Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek


Anaxagoras Anthemius Archytas Aristaeus the Elder Aristarchus Apollonius Archimedes Autolycus Bion Bryson Callippus Carpus Chrysippus Cleomedes Conon Ctesibius Democritus Dicaearchus Diocles Diophantus Dinostratus Dionysodorus Domninus Eratosthenes Eudemus Euclid Eudoxus Eutocius Geminus Heron Hipparchus Hippasus Hippias Hippocrates Hypatia Hypsicles Isidore of Miletus Leon Marinus Menaechmus Menelaus Metrodorus Nicomachus Nicomedes Nicoteles Oenopides Pappus Perseus Philolaus Philon Porphyry Posidonius Proclus Ptolemy Pythagoras Serenus Simplicius Sosigenes Sporus Thales Theaetetus Theano Theodorus Theodosius Theon of Alexandria Theon of Smyrna Thymaridas Xenocrates Zeno of Elea Zeno of Sidon Zenodorus


Almagest Archimedes
Palimpsest Arithmetica Conics (Apollonius) Elements (Euclid) On the Sizes and Distances (Aristarchus) On Sizes and Distances
On Sizes and Distances
(Hipparchus) On the Moving Sphere (Autolycus) The Sand Reckoner


Problem of Apollonius Squaring the circle Doubling the cube Angle trisection


Cyrene Library of Alexandria Platonic Academy

Timeline of Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek

v t e

Pre-Socratic philosophers by school


Thales Anaximander Anaximenes


Pythagoras Hippasus Philolaus Archytas




Parmenides Zeno Melissus


Anaxagoras Archelaus Empedocles


Leucippus Democritus


Protagoras Gorgias Prodicus Hippias


Xenophanes Pherecydes Hippo Diogenes Alcmaeon

v t e

Ancient Greece

Outline Timeline

History Geography


Cycladic civilization Minoan civilization Mycenaean civilization Greek Dark Ages Archaic period Classical Greece Hellenistic Greece Roman Greece


Aegean Sea Aeolis Alexandria Antioch Cappadocia Crete Cyprus Doris Ephesus Epirus Hellespont Ionia Ionian Sea Macedonia Magna Graecia Miletus Peloponnesus Pergamon Pontus Taurica Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek

City states Politics Military

City states

Argos Athens Byzantion Chalcis Corinth Eretria Kerkyra Larissa Megalopolis Megara Rhodes Samos Sparta Syracuse Thebes


Boeotarch Boule Koinon Proxeny Strategos Tagus Tyrant Amphictyonic League


Agora Areopagus Ecclesia Graphē paranómōn Heliaia Ostracism


Apella Ephor Gerousia Harmost


Synedrion Koinon


Wars Athenian military Antigonid Macedonian army Army of Macedon Ballista Cretan archers Hellenistic armies Hippeis Hoplite Hetairoi Macedonian phalanx Phalanx Peltast Pezhetairos Sarissa Sacred Band of Thebes Sciritae Seleucid army Spartan army Toxotai Xiphos Xyston


List of ancient Greeks


Kings of Argos Archons of Athens Kings of Athens Kings of Commagene Diadochi Kings of Lydia Kings of Macedonia Kings of Paionia Attalid kings of Pergamon Kings of Pontus Kings of Sparta Tyrants of Syracuse


Anaxagoras Anaximander Anaximenes Antisthenes Aristotle Democritus Diogenes of Sinope Empedocles Epicurus Gorgias Heraclitus Hypatia Leucippus Parmenides Plato Protagoras Pythagoras Socrates Thales Zeno


Aeschylus Aesop Alcaeus Archilochus Aristophanes Bacchylides Euripides Herodotus Hesiod Hipponax Homer Ibycus Lucian Menander Mimnermus Panyassis Philocles Pindar Plutarch Polybius Sappho Simonides Sophocles Stesichorus Theognis Thucydides Timocreon Tyrtaeus Xenophon


Agesilaus II Agis II Alcibiades Alexander the Great Aratus Archimedes Aspasia Demosthenes Epaminondas Euclid Hipparchus Hippocrates Leonidas Lycurgus Lysander Milo of Croton Miltiades Pausanias Pericles Philip of Macedon Philopoemen Praxiteles Ptolemy Pyrrhus Solon Themistocles


Philosophers Playwrights Poets Tyrants

By culture

Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
tribes Thracian Greeks Ancient Macedonians

Society Culture


Agriculture Calendar Clothing Coinage Cuisine Economy Education Festivals Funeral and burial practices Homosexuality Law Olympic Games Pederasty Philosophy Prostitution Religion Slavery Warfare Wedding customs Wine

Arts and science


Greek Revival architecture

Astronomy Literature Mathematics Medicine Music

Musical system

Pottery Sculpture Technology Theatre


Funeral and burial practices Mythology

mythological figures

Temple Twelve Olympians Underworld

Sacred places

Eleusis Delphi Delos Dodona Mount Olympus Olympia


Athenian Treasury Lion Gate Long Walls Philippeion Theatre of Dionysus Tunnel of Eupalinos


Aphaea Artemis Athena Nike Erechtheion Hephaestus Hera, Olympia Parthenon Samothrace Zeus, Olympia


Proto-Greek Mycenaean Homeric Dialects

Aeolic Arcadocypriot Attic Doric Ionic Locrian Macedonian Pamphylian



Linear A Linear B Cypriot syllabary Greek alphabet Greek numerals Attic numerals



in Epirus

People Place names Stoae Temples Theatres

Category Portal

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 49224361 LCCN: n79041650 ISNI: 0000 0001 0898 3353 GND: 11852464X SELIBR: 183658 SUDOC: 026823489 BNF: cb11899529t (data) NKC: jn20010525114 BNE: XX979