Acron, son of Xenon, was an eminent Greek physician born at Agrigentum. His exact date is not known; but, as he is mentioned as being contemporary with Empedocles, who died about the beginning of the Peloponnesian war, he must have lived in the fifth century BC. From Sicily he went to Athens, and there opened a philosophical school (εσοφίστευεν).
It is said that he was in that city during the great plague (430 BC), and that large fires for the purpose of purifying the air were kindled in the streets by his direction, which proved of great service to several of the sick. It should however be borne in mind that there is no mention of this in Thucydides, and, if it is true that Empedocles or Simonides (who died in 467 BC) wrote the epitaph on Acron, it may be doubted whether he was in Athens at all during the plague.
On his return to his native country, the physician asked the senate for a spot of ground where he might build a family tomb. The request was refused at the suggestion of Empedocles, who conceived that such a grant for such a purpose would interfere with the principle of equality he was anxious to establish at Agrigentum. As the sarcastic epitaph on Acron is probably the most complete jeu de mots on record, and therefore defies all translation, it will be given in Greek to preserve the paronomasia of the original:
- Ακρον ιητρον Ακρων' Ακραγαντινον πατρος ακρου
- Κρύπτει κρημνός άκρος πατρίδος ακροτάτης
The second line was sometimes read thus:
- Ακροτάτης κορυφης τύμβος άκρος κατέχει
Pliny considers him as the first of the Empirics. But this has been considered an error on the part of the Roman naturalist; for the sect alluded to did not arise until the third century BC, roughly 200 years after the time of Acron. Some scholars consider that the sect of the Empirici, in order to boast of a greater antiquity than the Dogmatics (founded by Thessalus, the son, and Polybus, the son-in-law, of Hippocrates, about 400 BC), merely claimed Acron as their founder.
- Plutarch De Isis et Osiris 80
- Oribasius Synops. vi. 24, p. 97
- Aëtius Amidenus, tetrab. ii. serm. i. 94, p. 223
- Paul Aegin., ii. 35, p. 406
- Thucydides, ii. 49, &c.
- Suda s.v. Ακρων
- Eudoc. Violar. ap. Villoison, Anecd. Gr. i. 49
- Diogenes Laërtius, viii. 65
- Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia xxix. 1
- Pseudo-Gal. Introd. 4. vol. xiv. p. 683
- Greenhill, William Alexander (1867), "Acron (2)", in Smith, William, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology 1, Boston, MA, pp. 14–15