HERACLIDESPontos, 4th century B.C.
The son of a rich and illustrious family, he left his birthplace to study philosophy in Athens. He was a student successively of Speusippus, Plato (whom he replaced as head of the school during his second trip to Sicily), Aristotle and the Pythagoreans. He traveled to Colophon, Kea, Peloponnese and Sicily. After the death of Speusippus in 338 BC, after failing to be elected director of the Academy, he returned to his homeland, where he founded a school - his son Euthyphron and Dionysios Metathemenos were perhaps his students.
His luxurious manner of dress and his tender life provoked the scornful comments of the Athenians and Antiphanes. Characteristic of his ambition and vanity are two anecdotes handed down in his life by Diogenes Laertius. According to the first, after hiding, he spread the word that he died and replaced his corpse with a dragon, so that it would appear that he had gone to the gods. But his ruse was revealed, as happened with the second one. This time he corrupted with money the theors of his city, whom he had sent to the oracle of Delphi to ask for a way to deal with the plague in Heraklia. In return he asked them to announce that the plague would end if Heraclides were crowned with a golden wreath and if after his death he were proclaimed a hero. The Heraklionites wanted to carry out the oracle, but divine judgment punished the impious.
Heraclides was involved in all fields of science and wrote a large number of works on various scientific disciplines, of which only a few excerpts survive. Many of his writings were dialogues. They combine serious scientific research and fictional evidence. Famous historical figures - and mainly many - discuss. Scenes are set in the past but move through time with admirable persuasiveness. Miracles and puzzling situations are invoked as evidence of claims pertaining to metaphysical and spiritualistic realms. The dialogues had prologues, where Heraclides places the events in time and narrates his personal issues.
His many-sided interests and his great knowledge made him a talented writer but damaged his critical ability. He collected information from various and contradictory sources and composed it in his treatises without checking. He considered god sometimes the world itself and sometimes the intellect. He believed that the soul was an "ethereal body and photooid". He accepted Democritus' theory of atoms, from the composition of which he believed that God created the world. For the thinker, the world had no end and the planets were deities moving around the earth, which turned on its axis from West to East.
Heraclides was by nature restless, inquisitive, thoughtful and imaginative. He had a love of knowledge and was perhaps one of the most learned philosophers, a "Paracelsus of Antiquity".