Metrodorus of Chios

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Metrodorus of Chios (Greek: Μητρόδωρος ὁ Χῖος; fl. 4th century BC) was a Greek philosopher, belonging to the school of Democritus. He is an important forerunner of Pyrrhonism and Epicureanism.

Metrodorus was a pupil of Nessos of Chios, or, as some accounts prefer, of Democritus himself.[1] He is said to have taught Diogenes of Smyrna, who, in turn, taught Anaxarchus.[1] Pyrrho was Anaxarchus' student.

Like Pyrrho, Metrodorus was a sceptic. According to Cicero[2] he said, “None of us knows anything, not even this, whether we know or we do not know; nor do we know what ‘to not know’ or ‘to know’ are, nor on the whole, whether anything is or is not.” Metrodorus maintained that everything is to each person only what it appears to him to be. He is especially interesting as a forerunner of Anaxarchus and as a connecting link between atomism and Pyrrhonism.

Metrodorus accepted the Democritean theory of atoms and void and the plurality of worlds.[3] He also held a theory of his own that the stars are formed from day to day by the moisture in the air under the heat of the Sun.

Metrodorus also said, "A single ear of wheat in a large field is as strange as a single world in infinite space."[4][5]


  1. ^ a b Diogenes Laërtius, ix. 58
  2. ^ Cicero, Academica, ii. 23 § 73; Cf. Diogenes Laërtius, ix. 58
  3. ^ Englert, Walter G. (2008). "Metrodoros of Khios (400 – 350 BCE)". In Keyser, Paul T.; Irby-Massie, Georgia L. (eds.). The Encyclopedia of Ancient Natural Scientists: The Greek tradition and its many heirs. Routledge. p. 554. ISBN 978-0415340205. ... On Nature (Περὶ φύσεως) combined skeptical views about the possibility of knowledge with an atomic analysis of the nature of reality. Following Democritus, he taught that everything was made up of atoms and the void, and that there are an infinite number of worlds (κόσμοι). Includes references.
  4. ^ Aëtius, Placita Philosophorum i.5.4
  5. ^ Guthrie, W.K.C. (1965). A History of Greek Philosophy, Volume II: The Presocratic Tradition from Parmenides to Democritus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 405. ISBN 0-521-29421-5. As a follower of Democritus picturesquely expressed it, it is as unlikely that a single world should arise in the infinite as that one single ear of corn should grow on a large plain. [footnote 2 text: Metrodorus of Chios, as reported by Aëtius (DK, 70A6.)]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Metrodorus". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 18 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 300.