Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM the OXFORD CLASSICAL DICTIONARY ( (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2019. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 21 April 2019

Summary and Keywords

Xenarchus taught at Alexandria, Athens, and Rome, and his acquaintances included the geographer Strabo and the emperor Augustus. He is best known for his critique of Aristotle’s fifth element, which constitutes the material of the heavenly bodies according to the De caelo. Xenarchus targeted in particular Aristotle’s reliance on direct correspondences between simple bodies and simple motions and suggested that the ontologically privileged fire “in its natural place” could perform circular motion and was thus a plausible candidate for the material constituent of the heavens. He made further contributions in physics, psychology, and ethics, but he does not seem to have shown the same interest in the Categories as his Peripatetic contemporaries.

Keywords: Xenarchus, Peripatos, Aristotle, fifth element, cosmology, oikeiôsis

Access to the complete content on Oxford Classical Dictionary requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription. If you are a student or academic complete our librarian recommendation form to recommend the Oxford Research Encyclopedias to your librarians for an institutional free trial.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.