Phoenician wisdom: Damascius on Eudemos of Rhodes and Mochos of Sidon (fourth century BCE)

Citation with stable link: Philip A. Harland, 'Phoenician wisdom: Damascius on Eudemos of Rhodes and Mochos of Sidon (fourth century BCE),' Ethnic Relations and Migration in the Ancient World, last modified October 13, 2022,

Authors: Eudemos of Rhodes (fourth century BCE) and Mochos of Sidon (legendary) as cited by Damascius, Difficulties and Solutions of First Principles 125.3 (link to Greek text and full work).

Comments: Eudemos of Rhodes (fourth century BCE] was a student of Aristotle. Damascius, who cites Eudemos here, was a neo-Platonist in the sixth century CE. Mochos of Sidon is a legendary wise man who is briefly referred to elsewhere (e.g. Diogenes of Laertes, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers 1.1). In these passages Sidonians and Phoenicians are presented as a source of wisdom concerning the structures of the universe.

Source of the translation: Sara Ahbel-Rappe, Damascius’ Problems and Solutions Concerning First Principles (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 418-419, with adaptations.


[Eudemos on the Sidonians]

According to Eudemos, the Sidonians place Time [Chronos] before everything, and Longing and Gloom, and when Longing and Gloom mix as two principles, then Air and Wind are born. Air they reveal as the unmixed principle of the intelligible, and Wind as the living prototype of the intelligible that arises from it, and again the egg from both of these arises as the intelligible intellect, I think.

[Mochos’ contributions]

Apart from Eudemos, we find the mythology of the Phoenicians in Mochos, with Aither as the first principle as well as Air, these two principles from which is born Oulomos, the intelligible god itself, I think, who is the summit of the intelligible world. From this they say that Chousoros the Opener first came into Being, when [Oulomos] mated with itself, and then the egg, meaning by the latter, the intelligible intellect, whereas by the Opener, Choursoros, is meant the intelligible power, since it first differentiated the undifferentiated nature. Unless, though, after the two principles the summit is the one Wind, and the middle the two winds Lips and Notos (for they place them somehow before Oulonos), and Oulonos himself would be the intelligible intellect, and the Opener, Chousoros, is the first order after the intelligible, and the egg is heaven. For when Chousoros splits into two, heaven and earth arise, each of them being halves of him.

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