The Info List - On The Heavens

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[*]: Authenticity disputed strikethrough: Generally agreed to be spurious

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Page one of Aristotle's On the Heavens, from an edition published in 1837

On the Heavens
On the Heavens
(Greek: Περὶ οὐρανοῦ, Latin: De Caelo or De Caelo et Mundo) is Aristotle's chief cosmological treatise: written in 350 BC it contains his astronomical theory and his ideas on the concrete workings of the terrestrial world. It should not be confused with the spurious work On the Universe
On the Universe
(De mundo, also known as On the Cosmos). According to Aristotle
in On the Heavens, the heavenly bodies are the most perfect realities, (or "substances"), whose motions are ruled by principles other than those of bodies in the sublunary sphere. The latter are composed of one or all of the four classical elements (earth, water, air, fire) and are perishable; but the matter of which the heavens are made is imperishable aether, so they are not subject to generation and corruption. Hence their motions are eternal and perfect, and the perfect motion is the circular one, which, unlike the earthly up-and down-ward locomotions, can last eternally selfsame. As substances, celestial bodies have matter (aether) and form (a given period of uniform rotation). Sometimes Aristotle
seems to regard them as living beings with a rational soul as their form[1] (see also Metaphysics, bk. XII). This work is significant as one of the defining pillars of the Aristotelian worldview, a school of philosophy that dominated intellectual thinking for almost two millennia. Similarly, this work and others by Aristotle
were important seminal works by which much of scholasticism was derived.


1 Historical connections 2 Translations

2.1 English 2.2 French 2.3 German 2.4 Italian

3 See also 4 References 5 Further reading 6 External links

Historical connections[edit] Aristotelian philosophy and cosmology was influential in the Islamic world, where his ideas were taken up by the Falsafa
school of philosophy throughout the later half of the first millennia AD. Of these, philosophers Averroes
and Avicenna
are especially notable. Averroes
in particular wrote extensively about On The Heavens, trying for some time to reconcile the various themes of Aristotelian philosophy, such as natural movement of the elements and the concept of planetary spheres centered on the Earth, with the mathematics of Ptolemy.[2] These ideas would remain central to philosophical thought in the Islamic world well into the pre-modern period, and its influences can be found in both the theological and mystical tradition, including in the writings of al-Ghazali and Fakhr al-Din al-Razi.

Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
and Averroes

European philosophers had a similarly complex relationship with De Caelo, attempting to reconcile church doctrine with the mathematics of Ptolemy
and the structure of Aristotle. A particularly cogent example of this is in the work of Thomas Aquinas, theologian, philosopher and writer of the 13th century. Known today as St. Thomas of the Catholic Church, Aquinas worked to synthesize Aristotle's cosmology as presented in De Caelo with Christian doctrine, an endeavor that led him to reclassify Aristotle's unmoved movers as angels and attributing the 'first cause' of motion in the celestial spheres to them.[3] Otherwise, Aquinas accepted Aristotle's explanation of the physical world, including his cosmology and physics. The 14th century French philosopher Nicole Oresme
Nicole Oresme
translated and commentated on De Caelo in his role as adviser to King Charles V of France, on two separate occasions, once early on in life, and again near the end of it. These versions were a traditional Latin transcription and a more comprehensive French version that synthesized his views on cosmological philosophy in its entirety, Questiones Super de Celo and Livre du ciel et du monde respectively. "Livre du ciel et du monde" was written at the command of King Charles V, though for what purpose remains of some debate. Some speculate that, having already had Oresme translate Aristotelian works on ethics and politics in the hope of educating his courtiers, doing the same with De Caelo may be of some value to the king.[4] Translations[edit] English[edit] (in reverse chronological order)

Stuart Leggatt, On the Heavens
On the Heavens
I and II (Warminster: Aris & Phillips, 1995). ISBN 0-85668-663-8 William Keith Chambers Guthrie, Aristotle
On the Heavens
On the Heavens
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press "Loeb Classical Library", 1939). John Leofric Stocks, On the Heavens
On the Heavens
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1922).

Adelaide Etexts Sacred Texts InfoMotions MIT (incomplete) Internet Archive (Scanned Version of Printed Text) Free Audiobook (Translated by John Leofric Stocks)

Thomas Taylor, The treatises of Aristotle, on the heavens, on generation & corruption, and on meteors (Somerset, England : The Prometheus Trust, 2004, 1807). ISBN 1-898910-24-3


Dalimier, C. and Pellegrin, P. (2004) Aristote. Traité du ciel (Paris). Moraux, P. (1965) Aristote. Du ciel (Paris). Tricot, J. (1949) Aristote. Traité du ciel. Traduction et notes (Paris).


Jori, A., (2008), Über den Himmel (Berlin). Gigon, O. (1950) Vom Himmel, Von der Seele, Von der Dichtkunst (Zurich). Prantl, C. (1857) Aristoteles’ Vier Bücher über das Himmelsgebäude und Zwei Bücher über Entstehen und Vergehen (Leipzig). Prantl, C., (1881) De coelo, et de generatione et corruptione (Leipzig).


Jori, A. (1999) Il cielo (Milan). Longo, O. (1961) Aristotele. De caelo (Florence).

See also[edit]

Cosmology portal

Physics (Aristotle) Aristotelian physics Dynamics of the celestial spheres Celestial spheres


^ Alan C. Bowen, Christian Wildberg, New perspectives on Aristotle's De caelo (Brill, 2009) ^ Gerhard Endress (1995). Averroes' De Caelo Ibn Rushd's Cosmology in his Commentaries on Aristotle's On the Heavens. Arabic Sciences and Philosophy, 5, pp 9-49. doi:10.1017/S0957423900001934. ^ McInerny, Ralph & O'Callaghan, John. "Saint Thomas Aquinas". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).  ^ Grant, E. (n.d). Nicole Oresme, Aristotle's 'On the heavens', and the court of Charles V. Texts And Contexts In Ancient And Medieval Science : Studies On The Occasion Of John E, 187-207.

Further reading[edit]

Elders, L., Aristotle’s Cosmology: A Commentary on the De Caelo (Assen, Netherlands: Van Gorcum, 1966).

External links[edit]

 Greek Wikisource
has original text related to this article: Περὶ οὐρανοῦ On the Heavens
On the Heavens
in Greek is found in the 2nd volume of the 11-volume 1837 Bekker edition of Aristotle's Works in Greek (PDF · DJVU) On the Heavens
On the Heavens
in The Internet Classics Archive. On the Heavens
On the Heavens
public domain audiobook at LibriVox

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Ancient Greek astronomy


Aglaonice Agrippa Anaximander Andronicus Apollonius Aratus Aristarchus Aristyllus Attalus Autolycus Bion Callippus Cleomedes Cleostratus Conon Eratosthenes Euctemon Eudoxus Geminus Heraclides Hicetas Hipparchus Hippocrates of Chios Hypsicles Menelaus Meton Oenopides Philip of Opus Philolaus Posidonius Ptolemy Pytheas Seleucus Sosigenes of Alexandria Sosigenes the Peripatetic Strabo Thales Theodosius Theon of Alexandria Theon of Smyrna Timocharis


(Ptolemy) On Sizes and Distances
On Sizes and Distances
(Hipparchus) On the Sizes and Distances (Aristarchus) On the Heavens
On the Heavens


Antikythera mechanism Armillary sphere Astrolabe Dioptra Equatorial ring Gnomon Mural instrument Triquetrum


Callippic cycle Celestial spheres Circle of latitude Counter-Earth Deferent and epicycle Equant Geocentrism Heliocentrism Hipparchic cycle Metonic cycle Octaeteris Solstice Spherical Earth Sublunary sphere Zodiac


Babylonian astronomy Egyptian astronomy


Medieval European science Indian astronomy Medieval Islamic astronomy

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 177940464 LCCN: n84052455 GND: 4128887-7 SUDOC: 029713307 BNF: