Hicetas (Ancient Greek: Ἱκέτας or Ἱκέτης; c. 400 – c. 335 BC) was a Greek philosopher of the Pythagorean School. He was born in Syracuse. Like his fellow Pythagorean Ecphantus and the Academic Heraclides Ponticus, he believed that the daily movement of permanent stars was caused by the rotation of the Earth around its axis.[1] When Copernicus referred to Nicetus Syracusanus (Nicetus of Syracuse) in De revolutionibus orbium coelestium as having been cited by Cicero as an ancient who also argued that the Earth moved, it is believed that he was actually referring to Hicetas.[2]

Cicero refers to Hicetas in the Academica, volume II, citing in turn Theophrastus. [3][4] According to Heath:

Cicero [says] “Hicetas of Syracuse, as Theophrastus says, holds that the heaven, the sun, the moon, the stars and in fact all things in the sky remain still, and nothing else in the universe moves, except the earth; but as the earth turns and twists about its axis with extreme swiftness, all the same results follow as if the earth were still and the heaven moved". This is of course not well expressed…but Cicero means no more than that the rotation of the earth is a complete substitute for the apparent daily rotation of the heaven as a whole.[5]


  1. ^ Theophrastus ap Cicero, Acad. Quaest. ii. 39. Diogenes Laërtius (viii. 85) says that some ascribed this doctrine to Hicetas, while others attributed it to Philolaus.
  2. ^ W. T. Lynn, "Nicetus of Syracuse" in The Observatory Vol. 16 (1893) pp. 380-381
  3. ^ Cicero, M.T. (1880). The Academic Questions, Treatise de Finibus, and Tusculan Disputations . Translated by C.D. Yonge. London, Macmillan. p. 81 .
  4. ^ Cicero, Marcus Tullius (1874). Academica . London, Macmillan. "Hicetas Syracusius, ut ait Theophrastus, caelum, solem, lunam, stellas, supera denique omnia stare censet neque praeter terram rem ullam in mundo moveri: quae cum circum axem se summa celeritate convertat et torqueat, eadem effici omnia, quae, si stante terra caelum moveretur. Atque hoc etiam Platonem in Timaeo dicere quidam arbitrantur, sed paulo obscurius."
  5. ^ Heath, Sir Thomas (1913). Aristarchus of Samos, the Ancient Copernicus . Oxford at the Clarendon Press. p. 188. Retrieved Apr 19, 2016.

Categories: 4th-century BC Syracusans | 4th-century BC philosophers | Ancient Greek astronomers | Pythagoreans of Magna Graecia | 400s BC births | 330s BC deaths | Ancient Greek people stubs | Greek scientist stubs | European astronomer stubs

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