Leucippus (/luːˈsɪpəs/; Greek: Λεύκιππος, Leúkippos; fl. 5th cent. BCE) is reported in some ancient sources to have been a philosopher who was the earliest Greek to develop the theory of atomism—the idea that everything is composed entirely of various imperishable, indivisible elements called atoms. Leucippus often appears as the master to his pupil Democritus, a philosopher also touted as the originator of the atomic theory. However, a brief notice in Diogenes Laërtius’s life of Epicurus says that on the testimony of Epicurus, Leucippus never existed. As the philosophical heir of Democritus, Epicurus's word has some weight, and indeed a controversy over this matter raged in German scholarship for many years at the close of the 19th century. Furthermore, in his Corpus Democriteum,[1] Thrasyllus of Alexandria, an astrologer and writer living under the emperor Tiberius (14–37 CE), compiled a list of writings on atomism that he attributed to Democritus to the exclusion of Leucippus. The present consensus among the world's historians of philosophy is that this Leucippus is historical. The matter must remain moot unless more information is forthcoming from the record.

Leucippus was most likely born in Miletus,[2] although Abdera and Elea are also mentioned as possible birthplaces.[3]

Leucippe (portrait)
BornEarly 5th century BCE
Died5th century BCE
EraPre-Socratic philosophy
SchoolPre-Socratic philosophy
Main interests
Notable ideas


Bearded head with Corinthian helmet, thought to be of Leucippus, sitting dog (Molossian hound?) on the reverse.

Leucippus was indeed a shadowy figure, as his dates are not recorded and he is often mentioned in conjunction with his more well-known pupil Democritus. It is therefore difficult to determine which contributions to an atomic theory come from Democritus and which come from Leucippus.[4][5]

The Leucippus of record was an Ionian Greek (Ionia, being the Asiatic Greece or "Asia Minor", forms western Turkey today). And he was a contemporary of Zeno of Elea and Empedocles (Magna Graecia, now part of southern Italy). He belonged to the same Ionian School of naturalistic philosophy as Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes.

Aristotle and his student Theophrastus, however, explicitly credit Leucippus with the invention of Atomism. In Aristotelian terms Leucippus agreed with the Eleatic argument that "true being does not admit of vacuum" and there can be no movement in the absence of vacuum. Leucippus contended that since movement exists, there must be empty space. However, he concludes that vacuum is identified with nonbeing, since "nothing" cannot really be. According to Aristotle Leucippus differed from the Eleatics in not being encumbered by the "conceptual intermingling" of being and non-being, and Plato made the necessary distinction between "grades of being and types of negation".[6]

The title most attributed to Leucippus' is the lost work Megas Diakosmos (Big World-System, but this title was also attributed to Democritus whose companion work was Micros Diakosmos, (Little World-System)).[7][8]

Fragments and doxographical reports about Leucippus were collected by Hermann Diels (1848–1922), firstly in Doxographi Graeci (Berlin, 1879, reprint Berlin: de Gruyter, 1929) and then in Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, Berlin, 1903, 6th ed., rev. by Walther Kranz (Berlin: Weidmann, 1952; the editions after the 6th are mainly reprints with little or no change.) Diels was the leading proponent for a historical Leucippus.

Some sources claim that around 440 or 430 BCE Leucippus founded a school at Abdera, with which his pupil, Democritus, was closely associated.[6][9] And there is mention that a Leucippus founded the city of Metapontum, which honored this Leucippus with a coin.

See also


  1. ^ Jonathan Barnes, Early Greek Philosophy, 1987
  2. ^ The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy, p. xxiii. Note that Democritus was a resident of Abdera. Some said Leucippus from Elea, perhaps since he was unsuitably associated with the Eleatic philosophers.
  3. ^ Diogenes Laërtius says "Leucippus was born at Elea, but some say at Abdera and others at Miletus," Diogenes Laërtius 9.30. Simplicius refers to him as "Leucippus of Elea or Miletus," Simplicius, Physica 28.4.
  4. ^ Ancientlibrary.com Archived 2011-06-05 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Plato.stanford.eu
  6. ^ a b "Leucippus", in The Presocratics, Philip Wheelwright ed., The Odyssey Press, 1966, p. 177.
  7. ^ The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy, p. xxiii
  8. ^ Stobaeus 1.4.7c
  9. ^ Diogenes Laërtius 10.7


  • A. A. Long (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy (pgs. xxiii, 185)
  • Diels-Kranz, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker [I] 67A
  • Wikisource-logo.svg Laërtius, Diogenes (1925). "Others: Leucippus" . Lives of the Eminent Philosophers. 2:9. Translated by Hicks, Robert Drew (Two volume ed.). Loeb Classical Library. § 30-33.

External links

Buffy hummingbird

The buffy hummingbird (Leucippus fallax) is a species of bird in the hummingbird family Trochilidae. This bird lives in dry forest and scrubland in northern South America where it feeds on insects and the nectar, flesh, and juice of cactus fruits.


Democritus (; Greek: Δημόκριτος, Dēmókritos, meaning "chosen of the people"; c. 460 – c. 370 BC) was an Ancient Greek pre-Socratic philosopher primarily remembered today for his formulation of an atomic theory of the universe.Democritus was born in Abdera, Thrace, around 460 BC, although there are disagreements about the exact year. His exact contributions are difficult to disentangle from those of his mentor Leucippus, as they are often mentioned together in texts. Their speculation on atoms, taken from Leucippus, bears a passing and partial resemblance to the 19th-century understanding of atomic structure that has led some to regard Democritus as more of a scientist than other Greek philosophers; however, their ideas rested on very different bases.

Largely ignored in ancient Athens, Democritus is said to have been disliked so much by Plato that the latter wished all of his books burned. He was nevertheless well known to his fellow northern-born philosopher Aristotle.

Many consider Democritus to be the "father of modern science". None of his writings have survived; only fragments are known from his vast body of work.


Ecdysia (from Greek ἑκδύω "to undress") was a ritual involved sacred ceremonies and celebrations at Phaistos, Crete which were held in honor of Leto Phytia, mother of Apollo and Artemis.

The legend is about the story of Galatea, daughter of Evritios and wife of Lambros. Because her husband had warned her that if she gave birth to a daughter he would kill her, Galatea, wanting to save her, was forced to conceal the child’s gender and raise her as a boy, naming her Leucippus. When the young girl grew up and it was now impossible to hide her gender, Galatea desperately resorted as a supplicant to the sacred temple of Leto and asked her to transform her daughter to a son, in order to stay alive. The goddess felt sorry for her and accepted her prayers. Thus, the young girl abdicated her maiden veil and by Leto’s divine intervention was transformed into a man. Thus, the feast “Ekdysia” was named after this incident.

Green-and-white hummingbird

The green-and-white hummingbird (Amazilia viridicauda) is a species of hummingbird in the family Trochilidae. It is endemic to the East Andean slope in Peru, where generally restricted to areas near humid forest. It is commonly seen at Machu Picchu. It closely resembles the white-bellied hummingbird, but lacks white to the basal half of the tail.

Leucippus (bird)

Leucippus is a genus of hummingbirds. Its members are found in western South America. Two species, A. chionogaster, the white-bellied hummingbird and A. viridicauda, the green-and-white hummingbird are commonly placed in the genus Amazilia, while a third species, T. hypostictus, the many-spotted hummingbird, often is placed in the monotypic Taphrospilus, but are all sometimes placed here.

Leucippus (mythology)

In Greek mythology, Leucippus (Ancient Greek: Λεύκιππος Leukippos, "white horse") was a name attributed to multiple characters:

Leucippus of Messenia, father of the Phoebe, Hilaera and Arsinoe.

Leucippus, the son of Heracles and Eurytele, daughter of Thespius.

Leucippus, a Calydonian hunter, son of Hippocoon.

Leucippus, the daughter of Lamprus and Galatea, who was turned by Leto into a son.

Leucippus, the son of Oenomaus and companion of Daphne, whom he was in love with and tried to approach in the disguise of a fellow nymph of hers. Because of Apollo's jealousy, his true gender was revealed by the nymphs, who killed him instantly upon discovery. This Leucippus might be the one referred to having a wife and a rival Apollo in love.

Leucippus, the son of Poemander who was killed accidentally by his father.

Leucippus, the son of Thurimachus and king of Sicyon.

Leucippus, the son of Xanthius who consorted with his own sister and with Leucophrye.

Leucippus, one of the sons of Macareus, and the leader of a colony at Rhodes

Leucippus, son of Naxos (the eponym of Naxos) and king of the island. His son was Smerdius.

Leucippus, son of King Eurypylus of Cyrene and Sterope (daughter of Helios) and brother of Lycaon.

Leucippus of Crete

In Greek mythology, Leucippus (Ancient Greek: Λεύκιππος Leukippos, "white horse") was a maiden of Phaestus, Crete, who was raised as a boy by her mother, and eventually changed her sex to male by the will of the goddess Leto. Leucippus was born to Lamprus, the son of Pandion, and Galatea, daughter of Eurytius the son of Sparton.

Leucippus of Messenia

In Greek mythology, Leucippus (Ancient Greek: Λεύκιππος Leukippos) was a Messenian prince. The Boeotian town of Leuctra is said to have derived its name from him.

Leucippus of Sicyon

In Greek mythology Leucippus (Ancient Greek: Λεύκιππος Leukippos, "white horse") was king of Sicyon. He was the son of Thurimachus, son of Aegyrus, son of Thelxion, son of Apis, son of Telchis, son of Europs, son of Aegialeus (an autochthon).

According to Pausanias' account, Leucippus had only one child, a daughter Calchinia. She bore Poseidon a son, Peratus, who was reared by Leucippus and inherited the kingdom. Peratus' son was Plemnaeus, whose own children would die as soon as they began to cry for the first time, until Demeter visited Plemnaeus and reared his son Orthopolis, which allowed him to survive and become Plemnaeus' successor. Orthopolis was the father of an only daughter Chrysorthe, who had a son Coronus with Apollo.

Many-spotted hummingbird

The many-spotted hummingbird (Taphrospilus hypostictus) is a species of hummingbird in the family Trochilidae. It is the only member of the genus Taphrospilus, but is sometimes placed in Amazilia or Leucippus instead.

It is found in lower Andean foothills from Ecuador, through Peru and Bolivia, to north-western Argentina. Previously also listed for Brazil, but this now considered mistaken, it not being included on the official list by CBRO.Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.


"Nothing", used as a pronoun subject, denotes the absence of a something or particular thing that one might expect or desire to be present ("We found nothing," "Nothing was there") or the inactivity of a thing or things that are usually or could be active ("Nothing moved," "Nothing happened"). As a predicate or complement "nothing" denotes the absence of meaning, value, worth, relevance, standing, or significance ("It is a tale/ Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,/ Signifying nothing"; "The affair meant nothing"; "I'm nothing in their eyes"). "Nothingness" is a philosophical term that denotes the general state of nonexistence, sometimes reified as a domain or dimension into which things pass when they cease to exist or out of which they may come to exist, e.g., God is understood to have created the universe ex nihilo, "out of nothing."

Olive-spotted hummingbird

The olive-spotted hummingbird or "Colibrí olivipunteado" (Leucippus chlorocercus) is a species of hummingbird in the family Trochilidae. It is found in western Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and far southeastern Colombia.

Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist shrubland.

Pluralist school

The Pluralist school was a school of pre-Socratic philosophers who attempted to reconcile Parmenides' rejection of change with the apparently changing world of sense experience. The school consisted of Anaxagoras, Archelaus, and Empedocles. It can also be said to have included the Atomists, Leucippus and Democritus. The Pluralists rejected the idea that the diversity of nature can be reduced to a single principle (monism). Anaxagoras posited that nature contained an innumerable number of principles, while Empedocles reduced nature to four elements (fire, air, earth, and water) which could not be reduced to one another and which would be sufficient to explain change and diversity.

School of Abdera

The School of Abdera (or the Abderites) was a Pre-Socratic school of thought, founded in Abdera, Thrace around 440 to 430 BC. Its proponents, Leucippus and Democritus, were the earliest atomists. Leucippus is believed to be the founder, and was born at either Abdera or Miletus. Democritus, his student, was native to Abdera. Metrodorus of Chios and Anaxarchus of Abdera were also members, the latter being the teacher of Pyrrho who eventually came to lead the school and later founded Pyrrhonism.

Spot-throated hummingbird

The spot-throated hummingbird (Leucippus taczanowskii) is a species of hummingbird in the family Trochilidae. It is found in northern Peru, with uncorroborated sightings from extreme south Ecuador.

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forest and subtropical or tropical dry shrubland.

The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus

The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus is a 1618 painting by Peter Paul Rubens. It is now on show in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich.


Trochilinae is a subfamily of the hummingbird family (Trochilidae). Members of the subfamily Trochilinae are sometimes called typical hummingbirds. They typically display iridescent plumage in metallic reds, oranges, greens and/or blues. Strong sexual dimorphism in plumage and size is evident in many species.

Tumbes hummingbird

The Tumbes hummingbird (Leucippus baeri) is a species of hummingbird in the family Trochilidae. It is found in Ecuador and Peru.

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forest and subtropical or tropical dry shrubland.

White-bellied hummingbird

The white-bellied hummingbird (Amazilia chionogaster) is a species of hummingbird in the family Trochilidae. It is found at forest edge, woodland, scrub and gardens in the Andes, ranging from northern Peru south through Bolivia to north-western Argentina. There are also lowland populations in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and Mato Grosso, Brazil. It is generally fairly common.


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