In the 280s-270s BCE, Timosthenes served as the admiral and chief pilot of the navy of King Ptolemy II Philadelphus of Egypt. He wrote a periplus (a book of sailing directions) in ten books (now lost), and was much admired and cited by other geographers such as Eratosthenes and Strabo. Indeed, Marcian of Heraclea went so far as to accuse Eratosthenes' Geographica of being nothing but the wholesale plagiarism of Timosthenes work. Strabo says only that Eratosthenes preferred Timosthenes "above any other writer, though he often decides even against him."
According to the later Greek geographer Agathemerus (fl.250 CE), Timosthenes of Rhodes developed a system of twelve winds by adding four winds to the classical eight, introducing the complete 12-point Classical compass winds of Classical Antiquity. Timosthenes was arguably the first of the Greek geographers to use the winds for geographic orientation, rather than merely as meteorological phenomena.
Strabo reports that Timosthenes wrote a "Pythian mood" for a musical contest at the Pythian games at Delphi. Timosthenes's strain, accompanied by flute and cithara, celebrated the contest between Apollo and the serpent Python.
- e.g. Strabo (vol. II), Aczel (2001) Riddle of the Compass, New York: Harcourt, p.42-44
- E.H. Bunbury,(1879) A History of Ancient Geography among the Greeks and Romans: from the earliest ages till the fall of the Roman Empire. New York: Murray (p.588)
- Strabo (Bk. 2, c.1, s.40:p.139)
- Agathemerus Geographia, Lib.1, (Ch.2 p.178)
- Strabo (vol. II, Bk. 9.c.3.s9, p.120)