Heraclitus, son of Bloson or, according to some, of Heracon, was a native of Ephesus. He flourished in the 69th Olympiad.1 He was lofty-minded beyond all other men,2 and over-weening, as is clear from his book in which he says: “Much learning does not teach understanding; else would it have taught Hesiod and Pythagoras, or, again, Xenophanes and Hecataeus.”3 For “this one thing is wisdom, to understand thought, as that which guides all the world everywhere.”4 And he used to say that “Homer deserved to be chased out of the lists and beaten with rods, and Archilochus likewise.”5
Again he would say: “There is more need to extinguish insolence than an outbreak of fire,” 6 and “The people must fight for the law as for city-walls.”7 He attacks the Ephesians, too, for banishing his friend Hermodorus: he says: “The Ephesians would do well to end their lives, every grown man of them, and leave the city to beardless boys, for that they have driven out Hermodorus, the worthiest man among them, saying, ‘We will have none who is worthiest among us; or if there be any such, let him go elsewhere and consort with others.’”8 And when he was requested by them to make laws, he scorned the request because the state was already in the grip of a bad constitution. He would retire to the temple of Artemis and play at knuckle-bones with the boys; and when the Ephesians stood round him and looked on, “Why, you rascals,” he said, “are you astonished? Is it not better to do this than to take part in your civil life?”
Finally, he became a hater of his kind and wandered on the mountains, and there he continued to live, making his diet of grass and herbs. However, when this gave him dropsy, he made his way back to the city and put this riddle to the physicians, whether they were competent to create a drought after heavy rain. They could make nothing of this, whereupon he buried himself in a cowshed, expecting that the noxious damp humour would be drawn out of him by the warmth of the manure. But, as even this was of no avail, he died at the age of sixty.
There is a piece of my own about him as follows:9
Often have I wondered how it came about that Heraclitus endured to live in this miserable fashion and then to die. For a fell disease flooded his body with water, quenched the light in his eyes and brought on darkness.
Hermippus, too, says that he asked the doctors whether anyone could by emptying the intestines draw off the moisture; and when they said it was impossible, he put himself in the sun and bade his servants plaster him over with cow-dung. Being thus stretched and prone, he died the next day and was buried in the market-place. Neanthes of Cyzicus states that, being unable to tear off the dung, he remained as he was and, being unrecognizable when so transformed, he was devoured by dogs.
He was exceptional from his boyhood; for when a youth he used to say that he knew nothing, although when he was grown up he claimed that he knew everything. He was nobody’s pupil, but he declared that he “inquired of himself,”10 and learned everything from himself. Some, however, had said that he had been a pupil of Xenophanes, as we learn from Sotion, who also tells us that Ariston in his book On Heraclitus declares that he was cured of the dropsy and died of another disease. And Hippobotus has the same story.
As to the work which passes as his, it is a continuous treatise On Nature, but is divided into three discourses, one on the universe, another on politics, and a third on theology. This book he deposited in the temple of Artemis and, according to some, he deliberately made it the more obscure in order that none but adepts should approach it, and lest familiarity should breed contempt. Of our philosopher Timon11 gives a sketch in these words:12
In their midst uprose shrill, cuckoo-like, a mob-reviler, riddling Heraclitus.
Theophrastus puts it down to melancholy that some parts of his work are half-finished, while other parts make a strange medley. As a proof of his magnanimity Antisthenes in his Successions of Philosophers cites the fact that he renounced his claim to the kingship in favour of his brother. So great fame did his book win that a sect was founded and called the Heracliteans, after him.
Here is a general summary of his doctrines. All things are composed of fire, and into fire they are again resolved; further, all things come about by destiny, and existent things are brought into harmony by the clash of opposing currents; again, all things are filled with souls and divinities. He has also given an account of all the orderly happenings in the universe, and declares the sun to be no larger than it appears. Another of his sayings is: “Of soul thou shalt never find boundaries, not if thou trackest it on every path; so deep is its cause.”13 Self-conceit he used to call a falling sickness (epilepsy) and eyesight a lying sense.14 Sometimes, however, his utterances are clear and distinct, so that even the dullest can easily understand and derive therefrom elevation of soul. For brevity and weightiness his exposition is incomparable.
Coming now to his particular tenets, we may state them as follows: fire is the element, all things are exchange for fire and come into being by rarefaction and condensation;15 but of this he gives no clear explanation. All things come into being by conflict of opposites, and the sum of things flows like a stream. Further, all that is is limited and forms one world. And it is alternately born from fire and again resolved into fire in fixed cycles to all eternity, and this is determined by destiny. Of the opposites that which tends to birth or creation is called war and strife, and that which tends to destruction by fire is called concord and peace.16 Change he called a pathway up and down, and this determines the birth of the world.
For fire by contracting turns into moisture, and this condensing turns into water; water again when congealed turns into earth. This process he calls the downward path. Then again earth is liquefied, and thus gives rise to water, and from water the rest of the series is derived. He reduces nearly everything to exhalation from the sea. This process is the upward path. Exhalations arise from earth as well as from sea; those from sea are bright and pure, those from earth dark. Fire is fed by the bright exhalations, the moist element by the others. He does not make clear the nature of the surrounding element. He says, however, that there are in it bowls with their concavities turned towards us, in which the bright exhalations collect and produce flames. These are the stars. The flame of the sun is the brightest and the hottest; the other stars are further from the earth and for that reason give it less light and heat. The moon, which is nearer to the earth, traverses a region which is not pure. The sun, however, moves in a clear and untroubled region, and keeps a proportionate distance from us. That is why it gives us more heat and light. Eclipses of the sun and moon occur when the bowls are turned upwards; the monthly phases of the moon are due to the bowl turning round in its place little by little. Day and night, months, seasons and years, rains and winds and other similar phenomena are accounted for by the various exhalations. Thus the bright exhalation, set aflame in the hollow orb of the sun, produces day, the opposite exhalation when it has got the mastery causes night; the increase of warmth due to the bright exhalation produces summer, whereas the preponderance of moisture due to the dark exhalation brings about winter. His explanations of other phenomena are in harmony with this. He gives no account of the nature of the earth, nor even of the bowls. These, then, were his opinions.
The story told by Ariston of Socrates, and his remarks when he came upon the book of Heraclitus, which Euripides brought him, I have mentioned in my Life of Socrates.17 However, Seleucus the grammarian says that a certain Croton relates in his book called The Diver that the said work of Heraclitus was first brought into Greece by one Crates, who further said it required a Delian diver not to be drowned in it. The title given to it by some is The Muses,18 by others Concerning Nature; but Diodotus calls it19
A helm unerring for the rule of life;
others “a guide of conduct, the keel of the whole world, for one and all alike.” We are told that, when asked why he kept silence, he replied, “Why, to let you chatter.” Darius, too, was eager to make his acquaintance, and wrote to him as follows:20
“King Darius, son of Hystaspes, to Heraclitus the wise man of Ephesus, greeting.
“You are the author of a treatise On Nature is hard to understand and hard to interpret. In certain parts, if it be interpreted word for word, it seems to contain a power of speculation on the whole universe and all that goes on within it, which depends upon motion most divine; but for the most part judgement is suspended, so that even those who are the most conversant with literature are at a loss to know what is the right interpretation of your work. Accordingly King Darius, son of Hystaspes, wishes to enjoy your instruction and Greek culture. Come then with all speed to see me at my palace. For the Greeks as a rule are not prone to mark their wise men; nay, they neglect their excellent precepts which make for good hearing and learning. But at my court there is secured for you every privilege and daily conversation of a good and worthy kind, and a life in keeping with your counsels.”
“Heraclitus of Ephesus to King Darius, son of Hystaspes, greeting.
“All men upon earth hold aloof from truth and justice, while, by reason of wicked folly, they devote themselves to avarice and thirst for popularity. But I, being forgetful of all wickedness, shunning the general satiety which is closely joined with envy, and because I have a horror of splcndour, could not come to Persia, being content with little, when that little is to my mind.”
So independent was he even when dealing with a king.
Demetrius, in his book on Men of the Same Name, says that he despised even the Athenians, although held by them in the highest estimation; and, notwithstanding that the Ephesians thought little of him, he preferred his own home the more. Demetrius of Phalerum, too, mentions him in his Defence of Socrates; 21 and the commentators on his work are very numerous, including as they do Antishenes and Heraclides of Pontus, Cleanthes and Sphaerus the Stoic, and again Pausanias who was called the imitator of Heraclitus, Nicomedes, Dionysius, and, among the grammarians, Diodotus. The latter affirms that it is not a treatise upon nature, but upon government, the physical part serving merely for illustration.22
Hieronymus tells us that Scythinus, the satirical poet, undertook to put the discourse of Heraclitus into verse. He is the subject of many epigrams, and amongst them of this one:23
Heraclitus am I. Why do ye drag me up and down, ye illiterate? It was not for you I toiled, but for such as understand me. One man in my sight is a match for thirty thousand, but the countless hosts do not make a single one. This I proclaim, yea in the halls of Persephone.
Another runs as follows:24
Do not be in too great a hurry to get to the end of Heraclitus the Ephesian’s book: the path is hard to travel. Gloom is there and darkness devoid of light. But if an initiate be your guide, the path shines brighter than sunlight.
Five men have borne the name of Heraclitus: (1) our philosopher; (2) a lyric poet, who wrote a hymn of praise to the twelve gods; (3) an elegiac poet of Halicarnassus, on whom Callimachus wrote the following epitaph:25
They told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead,
They brought me bitter news to hear and bitter tears to shed.
I wept as I remembered how often you and I
Had tired the sun with talking and sent him down the sky.
And now that thou art lying, my dear old Carian guest,
A handful of grey ashes, long, long ago at rest,
Still are thy pleasant voices, thy nightingales, awake;
For Death, he taketh all away, but them he cannot take;26
(4) a Lesbian who wrote a history of Macedonia; (5) a jester who adopted this profession after having been a musician.
1 504-500 B.C.
2 The biographers used by our author laid evident stress on this characteristic of the Ephesian, for 1-3 (excepting two fragments cited in 2) dwell on this single theme. As to the criticism of Pythagoras cf. Clem. Alex. Strom. i. 129 s.f., who, dealing with chronology, says that Heraclitus was later than Pythagoras, for Pythagoras is mentioned by him.
3 Fr. 40 D., 16 B.
4 Fr. 41 D., 19 B.
5 Fr. 42 D., 119 B.
6 Fr. 43 D., 103 B.
7 Fr. 44 D., 100 B.
8 Fr. 121 D., 114 B.
9 Anth. Pal. vii. 127.
10 Fr. 101 D., 80 B.
11 Fr. 43 D.
12 Cf. Il. i. 247, 248.
13 Fr. 45 D., 71 B.
14 Fr. 46 D., 132 B.
15 Cf. Fr. 90 D., 22 B.
16 Cf. Fr. 80 D., 62 B.
17 ii. 22.
18 Plato, alluding to Heraclitus, speaks of “Ionian Muses” (Soph. 242 e). He is followed by Clement of Alexandria (Strom. v. 9, 682 P. αἱ γοῦν Ἰάδες Μοῦσαι διαρρήδην λέγουσι ), and possibly, as M. Ernout thinks, by Lucretius, i. 657, where “Musae” is the ms. reading. But cf. Lachmann, ad loc.
19 Nauck, T.G.F. ², Adesp. 287.
20 The request of Darius is mentioned by Clem. Alex. Strom. i. 65 οὗτος βασιλέα Δαρεῖον παρακαλοῦντα ἥκειν εἰς Πέρσας ὑπερεῖδεν. The story is not made more plausible by the two forged letters to which it must have given rise.
21 This work is again quoted in ix. 37 and ix. 57, and is perhaps the source of the first sentence of 52 also.
22 Apparently D. L. is using, through another of his sources, the very same citation from Diodotus which he has given verbatim in 12.
23 Anth. Pal. vii. 128.
24 Anth. Pal. ix. 540.
25 Anth. Pal. vii. 80.
26 From Cory’s Ionica, p. 7. In bare prose: “One told me of thy death, Heraclitus, and moved me to tears, when I remembered how often we two watched the sun go down upon our talk. But though thou, I ween, my Halicarnassian friend, art dust long, long ago, yet do thy ‘Nightingales’ live on, and Death, that insatiate ravisher, shall lay no hand on them.” Perhaps “Nightingales” was the title of a work. Laertius deserves our gratitude for inserting this little poem, especially on so slight a pretext.
Xenophanes,27 a native of Colophon, the son of Dexius, or, according to Apollodorus, of Orthomenes, is praised by Timon, whose words at all events are:
Xenophanes, not over-proud, perverter of Homer, castigator.
He was banished from his native city and lived at Zancle in Sicily [and having joined the colony planted at Elea taught there]. He also lived in Catana. According to some he was no man’s pupil, according to others he was a pupil of Boton of Athens,28 or, as some say, of Archelaus. Sotion makes him a contemporary of Anaximander. His writings are in epic metre, as well as elegiacs and iambics attacking Hesiod and Homer and denouncing what they said about the gods. Furthermore he used to recite his own poems. It is stated that he opposed the views of Thales and Pythagoras, and attacked Epimenides also. He lived to a very great age, as his own words somewhere testify:29
Seven and sixty are now the years that have been tossing my cares up and down the land of Greece; and there were then twenty and five years more from my birth up, if I know how to speak truly about these things.
He holds that there are four elements of existent things, and worlds unlimited in number but not overlapping [in time]. Clouds are formed when the vapour from the sun is carried upwards and lifts them into the surrounding air. The substance of God is spherical, in no way resembling man. He is all eye and all ear, but does not breathe; he is the totality of mind and thought, and is eternal. Xenophanes was the first to declare that everything which comes into being is doomed to perish, and that the soul is breath.30
He also said that the mass of things falls short of thought; and again that our encounters with tyrants should be as few, or else as pleasant, as possible. When Empedocles remarked to him that it is impossible to find a wise man, “Naturally,” he replied, “for it takes a wise man to recognize a wise man.” Sotion says that he was the first to maintain that all things are incognizable, but Sotion is in error.31
One of his poems is The Founding of Colophon, and another The Settlement of a Colony at Elea in Italy, making 2000 lines in all. He flourished about the 60th Olympiad.32 That he buried his sons with his own hands like Anaxagoras33 is stated by Demetrius of Phalerum in his work On Old Age and by Panaetius the Stoic in his book Of Cheerfulness. He is believed to have been sold into slavery by [ . . . and to have been set free by] the Pythagoreans Parmeniscus and Orestades: so Favorinus in the first book of his Memorabilia. There was also another Xenophanes, of Lesbos, an iambic poet.
Such were the “sporadic” philosophers.
27 Diels (Dox. Gr. p. 140) compares Hippolytus, Ref. Haer. i. 14. 1; Plutarch, Strom. 4; Atius, i. 3. 12, ii. 4. 11, ii. 20. 3, iii. 9. 4, ii. 24. 9, i. 3. 12, iii. 16. 5, ultimately from Theophrastus, Phys. Opin. Fr. 5, Fr. 16.
28 Possibly the same Boton who taught Theramenes rhetoric. If so, D. L. (or his authority) may have transferred to Xenophanes an excerpt intended for Xenophon. See the note of Diels, Fr. d. Vors., on 11 A 1 (Xenophanes)
29 Fr. 8 D.
30 Presumably followed by Epicharmus when he wrote εὐσεβὴς νόῳ πεφυκὼς οὐ πάθοις κ’ οὐδὲν κακὸν κατθανών‧ ἄνω τὸ πνεῦμα διαμενεῖ κατ’ οὐρανόν. (Fr. 22, ap. Clem. Strom. iv. 170, p. 640 P.)
31 It would be rash to infer from this single notice, that Sotion, considering Xenophanes a Sceptic, did not derive him from the Pythagoreans through Telauges.
32 540-537 B.C.
33 ii. 13.
Parmenides,34 a native of Elea, son of Pyres, was a pupil of Xenophanes (Theophrastus in his Epitome makes him a pupil of Anaximander).35 Parmenides, however, though he was instructed by Xenophanes, was no follower of his. According to Sotion36 he also associated with Ameinias the Pythagorean, who was the son of Diochaetas and a worthy gentleman though poor. This Ameinias he was more inclined to follow, and on his death he built a shrine to him, being himself of illustrious birth and possessed of great wealth; moreover it was Ameinias and not Xenophanes who led him to adopt the peaceful life of a student.
He was the first to declare that the earth is spherical and is situated in the centre of the universe. He held that there were two elements, fire and earth, and that the former discharged the function of a craftsman, the latter of his material. The generation of man proceeded from the sun as first cause; heat and cold, of which all things consist, surpass the sun itself. Again he held that soul and mind are one and the same, as Theophrastus mentions in his Physics, where he is setting forth the tenets of almost all the schools. He divided his philosophy into two parts dealing the one with truth, the other with opinion. Hence he somewhere says:37
Thou must needs learn all things, as well the unshakeable heart of well-rounded truth as the opinions of mortals in which there is no sure trust.38
Our philosopher too commits his doctrines to verse just as did Hesiod, Xenophanes and Empedocles. He made reason the standard and pronounced sensations to be inexact. At all events his words are:39
And let not long-practised wont force thee to tread this path, to be governed by an aimless eye, an echoing ear and a tongue, but do thou with understanding bring the much-contested issue to decision.
And the strength of high-souled Parmenides, of no diverse opinions, who introduced thought instead of imagination’s deceit.
It was about him that Plato wrote a dialogue with the title Parmenides or Concerning Ideas.
He flourished in the 69th Olympiad.42 He is believed to have been the first to detect the identity of Hesperus, the evening-star, and Phosphorus, the morning-star; so Favorinus in the fifth book of his Memorabilia; but others attribute this to Pythagoras, whereas Callimachus holds that the poem in question was not the work of Pythagoras. Parmenides is said to have served his native city as a legislator: so we learn from Speusippus in his book On Philosophers. Also to have been the first to use the argument known as “Achilles [and the tortoise]”: so Favorinus tells us in his Miscellaneous History.
There was also another Parmenides, a rhetorician who wrote a treatise on his art.
34 Diels (op. cit. p. 141) compares Hippolytus, Ref. Haer. i. 11. 1, 2; Plutarch, Strom. 5; Atius, i. 3. 14, iv. 9. 1, iv. 5. 12, iii. 15. 7; ultimately from Theophrastus, Phys. Opin. Fr. 6. 7, 17.
35 Diels considers this sentence to be a marginal note of an editor referring to Xenophanes, not Parmenides.
36 Sotion would thus appear to separate Parmenides from Xenophanes. Compare note a on p. 426. Diels conjectures that an epitaph on the Pythagoreans mentioned is the ultimate authority here.
37 Fr. 1. 28 D.
38 The text of Parmenides had suffered in the course of time. Here Laertius, like Sextus Empiricus and Plutarch, read εὐπειθέος ἀτρεκὲς; Proclus, two centuries later, εὐφεγγέος; but Simplicius, on De caelo, enables us to go behind our author by citing (as he no doubt would have wished to do) the better reading.
39 Fr. 1. 34 D.
40 Fr. 44 D.
41 Cf. Od. xi. 601.
42 504-500 B.C.
Melissus, the son of Ithaegenes, was a native of Samos. He was a pupil of Parmenides. Moreover he came into relations with Heraclitus, on which occasion the latter was introduced by him to the Ephesians, who did not know him,43 as Democritus was to the citizens of Abdera by Hippocrates. He took part also in politics and won the approval of his countrymen, and for this reason he was elected admiral and won more admiration than ever through his own merit.
In his view the universe was unlimited, unchangeable and immovable, and was one, uniform and full of matter. There was no real, but only apparent, motion. Moreover he said that we ought not to make any statements about the gods, for it was impossible to have knowledge of them.
According to Apollodorus, he flourished in the 84th Olympiad.44
Zeno was a citizen of Elea. Apollodorus in his Chronology says that he was the son of Teleutagoras by birth, but of Parmenides by adoption, while Parmenides was the son of Pyres. Of Zeno and Melissus, Timon45 speaks thus:46
Great Zeno’s strength which, never known to fail,
On each side urged, on each side could prevail.
In marshalling arguments Melissus too,
More skilled than many a one, and matched by few.
Zeno, then, was all through a pupil of Parmenides and his bosom friend. He was tall in stature, as Plato says in his Parmenides. 47 The same philosopher [mentions him] in his Sophist,48 and Phaedrus,49 and calls him the Eleatic Palamedes. Aristotle says that Zeno was the inventor of dialectic, as Empedocles was of rhetoric.
He was a truly noble character both as philosopher and as politician; at all events, his extant books are brimful of intellect. Again, he plotted to overthrow Nearchus the tyrant (or, according to others, Diomedon) but was arrested: so Heraclides in his epitome of Satyrus. On that occasion he was cross-examined as to his accomplices and about the arms which he was conveying to Lipara; he denounced all the tyrant’s own friends, wishing to make him destitute of supporters. Then, saying that he had something to tell him about certain people in his private ear, he laid hold of it with his teeth and did not let go until stabbed to death, meeting the same fate as Aristogiton the tyrannicide.
Demetrius in his work on Men of the Same Name says that he bit off, not the ear, but the nose. According to Antisthenes in his Successions of Philosophers, after informing against the tyrant’s friends, he was asked by the tyrant whether there was anyone else in the plot; whereupon he replied, “Yes, you, the curse of the city!?; and to the bystanders he said, “I marvel at your cowardice, that, for fear of any of those things which I am now enduring, you should be the tyrant’s slaves.” And at last he bit off his tongue and spat it at him; and his fellow-citizens were so worked upon that they forthwith stoned the tyrant to death.50 In this version of the story most authors nearly agree, but Hermippus says he was cast into a mortar and beaten to death.
Of him also I have written as follows:51
You wished, Zeno, and noble was your wish, to slay the tyrant and set Elea free from bondage. But you were crushed; for, as all know, the tyrant caught you and beat you in a mortar. But what is this that I say? It was your body that he beat, and not you.
In all other respects Zeno was a gallant man; and in particular he despised the great no less than Heraclitus. For example, his native place, the Phocaean colony, once known as Hyele and afterwards as Elea, a city of moderate size, skilled in nothing but to rear brave men, he preferred before all the splendour of Athens, hardly paying the Athenians a visit, but living all his life at home.
He was the first to propound the argument of the “Achilles,” which Favorinus attributes to Parmenides, and many other arguments. His views are as follows. There are worlds, but there is no empty space. The substance of all things came from hot and cold, and dry and moist, which change into one another. The generation of man proceeds from earth, and the soul is formed by a union of all the foregoing, so blended that no one element predominates.
We are told that once when he was reviled he lost his temper, and, in reply to some one who blamed him for this, he said, “If when I am abused I pretend that I am not, then neither shall I be aware of it if I am praised.”52
45 Fr. 45 D.
46 Cf. Il. xxiii 827; v. 783.
47 127 b.
48 p. 216 a.
49 261 d.
50 The heroic death of Zeno and his defiance of the tyrant furnished a theme for various writers; cf. Plutarch, Adv. Col. p. 1126 d; De garrulitate, p. 505 d; De Stoicorum repugn. p. 1051 c, where he is ranked with Socrates, Pythagoras and Antiphon. Cf. also Clem. Alex. Strom. iv. 57, citing Eratosthenes.
51 Anth. Pal. vii. 129.
52 A similar answer is ascribed to Empedocles in Gnomologion Parisinum, n. 153.
53 vii. 35.
54 464-460 B.C.
Leucippus55 was born at Elea, but some say at Abdera and others at Miletus. He was a pupil of Zeno. His views were these. The sum of things is unlimited, and they all change into one another. The All includes the empty as well as the full. The worlds are formed when atoms fall into the void and are entangled with one another; and from their motion as they increase in bulk arises the substance of the stars. The sun revolves in a larger circle round the moon. The earth rides steadily, being whirled about the centre; its shape is like that of a drum. Leucippus was the first to set up atoms as first principles. Such is a general summary of his views; on particular points they are as follows.
He declares the All to be unlimited, as already stated; but of the All part is full and part empty,56 and these he calls elements. Out of them arise the worlds unlimited in number and into them they are dissolved. This is how the worlds are formed. In a given section many atoms of all manner of shapes are carried from the unlimited into the vast empty space. These collect together and form a single vortex, in which they jostle against each other and, circling round in every possible way, separate off, by like atoms joining like. And, the atoms being so numerous that they can no longer revolve in equilibrium, the light ones pass into the empty space outside, as if they were being winnowed; the remainder keep together and, becoming entangled, go on their circuit together, and form a primary spherical system. This parts off like a shell, enclosing within it atoms of all kinds; and, as these are whirled round by virtue of the resistance of the centre, the enclosing shell becomes thinner, the adjacent atoms continually combining when they touch the vortex. In this way the earth is formed by portions brought to the centre coalescing. And again, even the outer shell grows larger by the influx of atoms from outside, and, as it is carried round in the vortex, adds to itself whatever atoms it touches. And of these some portions are locked together and form a mass, at first damp and miry, but, when they have dried and revolve with the universal vortex, they afterwards take fire and form the substance of the stars.
The orbit of the sun is the outermost, that of the moon nearest to the earth; the orbits of the other heavenly bodies lie between these two. All the stars are set on fire by the speed of their motion; the burning of the sun is also helped by the stars; the moon is only slightly kindled. The sun and the moon are eclipsed when. .., but the obliquity of the zodiacal circle is due57 to the inclination of the earth to the south; the regions of the north are always shrouded in mist, and are extremely cold and frozen. Eclipses of the sun are rare; eclipses of the moon constantly occur, and this because their orbits are unequal. As the world is born, so, too, it grows, decays and perishes, in virtue of some necessity, the nature of which he does specify.
55 With the account of Leucippus and Democritus Diels (op. cit. p. 142) compares Hippolytus, Ref. Haeres. i. 12. 1-2 and i. 13. 1; Atius i. 3. 15, i. 18. 3, ii. 1. 4, ii. 2. 2, ii. 7. 2, i. 3. 16; ultimately from Theophrastus, Phys. Opin. Fr. 8.
56 By the “full” is meant matter, atoms; by the “empty,” space.
57 So Diels; but see T. L. Heath, Aristarchus p. 122, note 3, who prefers to supply “the obliquity of the circles of the stars.” Cf. also At. iii. 12. 1-2 (Dox. Gr. p. 377).
Democritus was the son of Hegesistratus, though some say of Athenocritus, and others again of Damasippus. He was a native of Abdera or, according to some, of Miletus. He was a pupil of certain Magians and Chaldaeans. For when King Xerxes was entertained by the father of Democritus he left men in charge, as, in fact, is stated by Herodotus;58 and from these men, while still a boy, he learned theology and astronomy. Afterwards he met Leucippus and, according to some, Anaxagoras, being forty years younger than the latter. But Favorinus in his Miscellaneous History tells us that Democritus, speaking of Anaxagoras, declared that his views on the sun and the moon were not original but of great antiquity, and that he had simply stolen them. Democritus also pulled to pieces the views of Anaxagoras on cosmogony and on mind, having a spite against him, because Anaxagoras did not take to him. If this be so, how could he have been his pupil, as some suggest?
According to Demetrius in his book on Men of the Same Name and Antisthenes in his Successions of Philosophers, he travelled into Egypt to learn geometry from the priests, and he also went into Persia to visit the Chaldaeans as well as to the Red Sea. Some say that he associated with the Gymnosophists in India and went to Aethiopia. Also that, being the third son, he divided the family property. Most authorities will have it that he chose the smaller portion, which was in money, because he had need of this to pay the cost of travel; besides, his brothers were crafty enough to foresee that this would be his choice. Demetrius estimates his share at over 100 talents, the whole of which he spent. His industry, says the same author, was so great that he cut off a little room in the garden round the house and shut himself up there. One day his father brought an ox to sacrifice and tied it there, and he was not aware of it for a considerable time, until his father roused him to attend the sacrifice and told him about the ox. Demetrius goes on: “It would seem that he also went to Athens and was not anxious to be recognized, because he despised fame, and that while he knew of Socrates, he was not known to Socrates, his words being, ‘I came to Athens and no one knew me.’”
“If the Rivals be the work of Plato,” says Thrasylus, “Democritus will be the unnamed character, different from Oenopides and Anaxagoras, who makes his appearance when conversation is going on with Socrates about philosophy, and to whom Socrates says that the philosopher is like the all-round athlete.59 And truly Democritus was versed in every department of philosophy, for he had trained himself both in physics and in ethics, nay more, in mathematics and the routine subjects of education, and he was quite an expert in the arts.” From him we have the saying, “Speech is the shadow of action.” Demetrius of Phalerum in his Defence of Socrates affirms that he did not even visit Athens. This is to make the larger claim, namely, that he thought that great city beneath his notice, because he did not care to win fame from a place, but preferred himself to make a place famous.
His character can also be seen from his writings. “He would seem,” says Thrasylus, “to have been an admirer of the Pythagoreans. Moreover, he mentions Pythagoras himself, praising him in a work of his own entitled Pythagoras. 60 He seems to have taken all his ideas from him and, if chronology did not stand in the way, he might have been thought his pupil.” Glaucus of Rhegium certainly says that he was taught by one of the Pythagoreans, and Glaucus was his contemporary. Apollodorus of Cyzicus, again, will have it that he lived with Philolaus.
He would train himself, says Antisthenes, by a variety of means to test his sense-impressions by going at times into solitude and frequenting tombs. The same authority states that, when he returned from his travels, he was reduced to a humble mode of life because he had exhausted his means; and, because of his poverty, he was supported by his brother Damasus. But his reputation rose owing to his having foretold certain future events; and after that the public deemed him worthy of the honour paid to a god.61 There was a law, says Antisthenes, that no one who had squandered his patrimony should be buried in his native city. Democritus, understanding this, and fearing lest he should be at the mercy of any envious or unscrupulous prosecutors, read aloud to the people his treatise, the Great Diacosmos, the best of all his works; and then he was rewarded with 500 talents; and, more than that, with bronze statues as well; and when he died, he received a public funeral after a lifetime of more than a century. Demetrius, however, says that it was not Democritus himself but his relatives who read the Great Diacosmos, and that the sum awarded was 100 talents only; with this account Hippobotus agrees.
Aristoxenus in his Historical Notes affirms that Plato wished to burn all the writings of Democritus that he could collect, but that Amyclas and Clinias the Pythagoreans prevented him, saying that there was no advantage in doing so, for already the books were widely circulated. And there is clear evidence for this in the fact that Plato, who mentions almost all the early philosophers, never once alludes to Democritus, not even where it would be necessary to controvert him, obviously because he knew that he would have to match himself against the prince of philosophers, for whom, to be sure, Timon62 has this meed of praise:63
Such is the wise Democritus, the guardian of discourse, keen-witted disputant, among the best I ever read.
As regards chronology, he was, as he says himself in the Lesser Diacosmos, a young man when Anaxagoras was old, being forty years his junior. He says that the Lesser Diacosmos was compiled 730 years after the capture of Troy. According to Apollodorus in his Chronology he would thus have been born in the 80th Olympiad,64 but according to Thrasylus in his pamphlet entitled Prolegomena to the Reading of the works of Democritus, in the third year of the 77th Olympiad,65 which makes him, adds Thrasylus, one year older than Socrates. He would then be a contemporary of Archelaus, the pupil of Anaxagoras, and of the school of Oenopides; indeed he mentions Oenopides. Again, he alludes to the doctrine of the One held by Parmenides and Zeno, they being evidently the persons most talked about in his day; he also mentions Protagoras of Abdera, who, it is admitted, was a contemporary of Socrates.
Athenodorus in the eighth book of his Walks relates that, when Hippocrates came to see him, he ordered milk to be brought, and, having inspected it, pronounced it to be the milk of a black she-goat which had produced her first kid; which made Hippocrates marvel at the accuracy of his observation. Moreover, Hippocrates being accompanied by a maidservant, on the first day Democritus greeted her with “Good morning, maiden,” but the next day with “Good morning, woman,” As a matter of fact the girl had been seduced in the night.
Of the death of Democritus the account given by Hermippus is as follows. When he was now very old and near his end, his sister was vexed that he seemed likely to die during the festival of Thesmophoria and she would be prevented from paying the fitting worship to the goddess. He bade her be of good cheer and ordered hot loaves to be brought to him every day. By applying these to his nostrils he contrived to outlive the festival; and as soon as the three festival days were passed he let his life go from him without pain, having then, according to Hipparchus, attained his one hundred and ninth year.
In my Pammetros I have a piece on him as follows:66
Pray who was so wise, who wrought so vast a work as the omniscient Democritus achieved? When Death was near, for three days he kept him in his house and regaled him with the steam of hot loaves.
Such was the life of our philosopher.
His opinions are these. The first principles of the universe are atoms and empty space; everything else is merely thought to exist. The worlds are unlimited; they come into being and perish. Nothing can come into being from that which is not nor pass away into that which is not. Further, the atoms are unlimited in size and number, and they are borne along in the whole universe in a vortex, and therby generate all composite things – fire, water, air, earth; for even these are conglomerations of given atoms. And it is because of their solidity that these atoms are impassive and unalterable. The sun and the moon have been composed of such smooth and spherical masses [i.e. atoms], and so also the soul, which is identical with reason. We see by virtue of the impact of images upon our eyes.
All things happen by virtue of necessity, the vortex being the cause of the creation of all things, and this he calls necessity. The end of action is tranquillity, which is not identical with pleasure, as some by a false interpretation have understood, but a state in which the soul continues calm and strong, undisturbed by any fear or superstition or any other emotion. This he calls well-being and many other names. The qualities of things exist merely by convention; in nature there is nothing but atoms and void space. These, then, are his opinions.
Of his works Thrasylus has made an ordered catalogue, arranging them in fours, as he also arranged Plato’s works.
The ethical works are the following:
So much for the ethical works.
The physical works are these:
So much for the physical works.
The following fall under no head:
These works have not been arranged.
The mathematical works are these:
So much for the works on literature and music.
The works on the arts are these:
So much for these works.
Some include as separate items in the list the following works taken from his notes:
The other works which some attribute to Democritus are either compilations from his writings or admittedly not genuine. So much for the books that he wrote and their number.
The name of Democritus has been borne by six persons: (1) our philosopher; (2) a contemporary of his, a musician of Chios; (3) a sculptor, mentioned by Antigonus; (4) an author who wrote on the temple at Ephesus and the state of Samothrace; (5) an epigrammatist whose style is lucid and ornate; (6) a native of Pergamum who made his mark by rhetorical speeches.
58 Diels remarks that this is a free interpretation of Hdt. vii. 109, viii. 120.
59 Rivals, 132 a-c.
61 ὡς δὲ προειπών. . . ἠξιώθη. This sentence in oratio recta, interrupting the extract from Antisthenes, finds its counterpart in the stories attributing to Democritus the power of forecasting the weather or the seasons, on the strength of his scientific attainments. Cf. Pliny, N. H. xviii. 273, 341, and Clem. Alex. Strom. vii. 32.
62 Fr. 46 D.
63 Cf. Il. i. 263, iv. 341.
64 460-457 B.C.
65 470-469 B.C.
66 Anth. Pal. vii. 57.
67 Diels compares Ptolemy, Geogr. vii. 7 ὑπογραφὴ τοῦ ἐκπετάσματος. ὑπογραφὴ δ’ ἔσται καὶ τῆς τοιαύτης ἐκπετάσεως ἁρμόζουσά τε καὶ κεφαλαιώδης. ἡ τοιαύτη τῆς κρικωτῆς σφαίρας ἐπιπέδῳ καταγραφή κτλ. The title Ἐκπετάσματα may therefore mean “Projection of an armillary sphere on a plane.”
68 χειρόκμητα is a correction of Salmasius based upon Pliny, N. H. xxiv. 160, and Vitruvius, ix. i. 14. The mss. give either χέρνιβα,“finger-bowls,” or χερνικά, the sense of which is not clear; they read ἢ before προβλήματα.
Protagoras, son of Artemon or, according to Apollodorus and Dinon in the fifth book of his History of Persia, of Maeandrius, was born at Abdera (so says Heraclides of Pontus in his treatise On Laws, and also that he made laws for Thurii) or, according to Eupolis in his Flatterers, at Teos; for the latter says:
Inside we’ve got Protagoras of Teos.
He and Prodicus of Ceos gave public readings for which fees were charged, and Plato in the Protagoras69 calls Prodicus deep-voiced. Protagoras studied under Democritus. The latter70 was nicknamed “Wisdom,” according to Favorinus in his Miscellaneous History.
Protagoras was the first to maintain that there are two sides to every question, opposed to each other, and he even argued in this fashion, being the first to do so. Furthermore he began a work thus: “Man is the measure of all things, of things that are that they are, and of things that are not that they are not.” He used to say that soul was nothing apart from the senses, as we learn from Plato in the Theaetetus,71 and that everything is true. In another work he began thus: “As to the gods, I have no means of knowing either that they exist or that they do not exist. For many are the obstacles that impede knowledge, both the obscurity of the question and the shortness of human life.” For this introduction to his book the Athenians expelled him; and they burnt his works in the market-place, after sending round a herald to collect them from all who had copies in their possession.
He was the first to exact a fee of a hundred minae and the first to distinguish the tenses of verbs, to emphasize the importance of seizing the right moment, to institute contests in debating, and to teach rival pleaders the tricks of their trade. Furthermore, in his dialectic he neglected the meaning in favour of verbal quibbling, and he was the father of the whole tribe of eristical disputants now so much in evidence; insomuch that Timon72 too speaks of him as73
Protagoras, all mankind’s epitome,
Cunning, I trow, to war with words.
He too first introduced the method of discussion which is called Socratic. Again, as we learn from Plato in the Euthydemus,74 he was the first to use in discussion the argument of Antisthenes which strives to prove that contradiction is impossible, and the first to point out how to attack and refute any proposition laid down: so Artemidorus the dialectician in his treatise In Reply to Chrysippus. He too invented the shoulder-pad on which porters carry their burdens, so we are told by Aristotle in his treatise On Education; for he himself had been a porter, says Epicurus somewhere.75 This was how he was taken up by Democritus, who saw how skilfully his bundles of wood were tied. He was the first to mark off the parts of discourse into four, namely, wish, question, answer, command;76 others divide into seven parts, narration, question, answer, command, rehearsal, wish, summoning; these he called the basic forms of speech. Alcidamas made discourse fourfold, affirmation, negation, question, address.
The first of his books he read in public was that On the Gods, the introduction to which we quoted above; he read it at Athens in Euripides’ house, or, as some say, in Megaclides’; others again make the place the Lyceum and the reader his disciple Archagoras, Theodotus’s son, who gave him the benefit of his voice. His accuser was Pythodorus, son of Polyzelus, one of the four hundred; Aristotle, however, says it was Euathlus.
The works of his which survive are these:
This is the list of his works.77 Moreover there is a dialogue which Plato wrote upon him.
Philochorus says that, when he was on a voyage to Sicily, his ship went down, and that Euripides hints at this in his Ixion. According to some his death occurred, when he was on a journey, at nearly ninety years of age, though Apollodorus makes his age seventy, assigns forty years for his career as a sophist, and puts his floruit in the 84th Olympiad.78
There is an epigram of my own on him as follows:79
Protagoras, I hear it told of thee
Thou died’st in eld when Athens thou didst flee;
Cecrops’ town chose to banish thee; but though
Thou ‘scap’dst Athene, not so Hell below.
The story is told that once, when he asked Euathlus his disciple for his fee, the latter replied, “But I have not won a case yet.” “Nay,” said Protagoras, “if I win this case against you I must have the fee, for winning it; if you win, I must have it, because you win it.”
There was another Protagoras, an astronomer, for whom Euphorion wrote a dirge; and a third who was a Stoic philosopher.
69 316 a.
70 Cf. Clem. Strom. vi. 32, and Suidas, s.v. Δημόκριτος.
71 152 a sq.
72 Fr. 47 D.
73 Cf. Il. xv. 679.
74 286 c.
75 Sc. in an epistle, Περὶ ἐπιτηδευμάτων, cf. Athen. viii. 354 c.
76 This answers roughly to the optative, the indicative, and the imperative.
77 That the list is defective is evident from the fact that the two works by which Protagoras is best known (supra, 51, 54) are not here named.
78 444-441 B.C.
79 Anth. Pal. vii. 130.
Diogenes of Apollonia,80 son of Apollothemis, was a natural philosopher and a most famous man. Antisthenes calls him a pupil of Anaximenes; but he lived in Anaxagoras’s time. This man,81 so great was his unpopularity at Athens, almost lost his life, as Demetrius of Phalerum states in his Defence of Socrates.
The doctrines of Diogenes were as follows.82 Air is the universal element. There are worlds unlimited in number, and unlimited empty space. Air by condensation and rarefaction generates the worlds. Nothing comes into being from what is not or passes away into what is not. The earth is spherical, firmly supported in the centre, having its construction determined by the revolution which comes from heat and by the congealment caused by cold.
The words with which his treatise begins are these: “At the beginning of every discourse I consider that one ought to make the starting-point unmistakably clear and the exposition simple and dignified.”
80 We naturally feel surprise when this early philosopher is interpolated between Protagoras and Anaxarchus, both assumed to be pupils of Democritus. The only explanation suggested is a severe reflection on our author’s acquaintance with his subject. There was a certain Diogenes of Smyrna, an obscure adherent of the school of Abdera. D. L., or more probably one of his authorities, has confused this Democritean with the earlier and better-known Diogenes of Apollonia. It is also strange that there is no Life of Metrodorus of Chios or of Nausiphanes.
81 i.e. Anaxagoras.
82 Diels (op. cit. p. 144) compares Plutarch, Strom. apud Euseb. Praep. Evang. i. 8. 13; Atius i. 3. 26; Theophrastus, Phys. Opin. Fr. 2.
Anaxarchus, a native of Abdera, studied under Diogenes of Smyrna,83 and the latter under Metrodorus of Chios, who used to declare that he knew nothing, not even the fact that he knew nothing; while Metrodorus was a pupil of Nessas of Chios, though some say that he was taught by Democritus. Now Anaxarchus accompanied Alexander and flourished in the 110th Olympiad.84 He made an enemy of Nicocreon, tyrant of Cyprus. Once at a banquet, when asked by Alexander how he liked the feast, he is said to have answered, “Everything, O king, is magnificent; there is only one thing lacking, that the head of some satrap should be served up at table.” This was a hit at Nicocreon, who never forgot it, and when after the king’s death Anaxarchus was forced against his will to land in Cyprus, he seized him and, putting him in a mortar, ordered him to be pounded to death with iron pestles. But he, making light of the punishment, made that well-known speech, “Pound, pound the pouch containing Anaxarchus; ye pound not Anaxarchus.” And when Nicocreon commanded his tongue to be cut out, they say he bit it off and spat it at him. This is what I have written upon him:85
Pound, Nicocreon, as hard as you like: it is but a pouch. Pound on; Anaxarchus’s self long since is housed with Zeus. And after she has drawn you upon her carding-combs a little while, Persephone will utter words like these: “Out upon thee, villainous miller!”
For his fortitude and contentment in life he was called the Happy Man. He had, too, the capacity of bringing anyone to reason in the easiest possible way. At all events he succeeded in diverting Alexander when he had begun to think himself a god; for, seeing blood running from a wound he had sustained, he pointed to him with his finger and said, “See, there is blood and not
Ichor which courses in the veins of the blessed gods.”86
Plutarch reports this as spoken by Alexander to his friends.87 Moreover, on another occasion, when Anaxarchus was drinking Alexander’s health, he held up his goblet and said:
One of the gods shall fall by the stroke of mortal man.88
83 Here a Diogenes is mentioned as a link between Democritus and Anaxarchus. See p. 468, note c. Cf. Clem. Alex. Strom. i. 64, p. 301 D Δημοκρίτου δὲ ἀκουσταὶ Πρωταγόρας ὁ Ἀβδηρίτης καὶ Μητρόδωρος ὁ Χίος, οὗ Διογένης ὁ Σμυρναῖος, οὗ Ἀνάξαρχος, τούτου δὲ Πύρρων, οὗ Ναυσιφάνης; Euseb. xiv. 17. 10; Epiphanius, De fide, 9, p. 591.
84 340-337 B.C.
85 Anth. Pal. vii. 133.
86 Il. v. 340.
87 Vit. Alex. c. 28.
88 Euripides, Orestes, 271.
Pyrrho of Elis was the son of Pleistarchus, as Diocles relates. According to Apollodorus in his Chronology, he was first a painter; then he studied under Stilpo’s son Bryson:89 thus Alexander in his Successions of Philosophers. Afterwards he joined Anaxarchus, whom he accompanied on his travels everywhere so that he even forgathered with the Indian Gymnosophists and with the Magi. This led him to adopt a most noble philosophy, to quote Ascanius of Abdera, taking the form of agnosticism and suspension of judgement. He denied that anything was honourable or dishonourable, just or unjust.90 And so, universally, he held that there is nothing really existent, but custom and convention govern human action; for no single thing is in itself any more this than that.
He led a life consistent with this doctrine, going out of his way for nothing, taking no precaution, but facing all risks as they came, whether carts, precipices, dogs or what not, and, generally, leaving nothing to the arbitrament of the senses; but he was kept out of harm’s way by his friends who, as Antigonus of Carystus tells us, used to follow close after him. But Aenesidemus says that it was only his philosophy that was based upon suspension of judgement, and that he did not lack foresight in his everyday acts. He lived to be nearly ninety.
This is what Antigonus of Carystus says of Pyrrho in his book upon him. At first he was a poor and unknown painter, and there are still some indifferent torch-racers of his in the gymnasium at Elis. He would withdraw from the world and live in solitude, rarely showing himself to his relatives; this he did because he had heard an Indian reproach Anaxarchus, telling him that he would never be able to teach others what is good while he himself danced attendance on kings in their courts. He would maintain the same composure at all times, so that, even if you left him when he was in the middle of a speech, he would finish what he had to say with no audience but himself, although in his youth he had been hasty.91 Often, our informant adds, he would leave his home and, telling no one, would go roaming about with whomsoever he chanced to meet. And once, when Anaxarchus fell into a slough, he passed by without giving him any help, and, while others blamed him, Anaxarchus himself praised his indifference and sang-froid.
On being discovered once talking to himself, he answered, when asked the reason, that he was training to be good. In debate he was looked down upon by no one, for he could both discourse at length and also sustain a cross-examination, so that even Nausiphanes when a young man was captivated by him: at all events he used to say that we should follow Pyrrho in disposition but himself in doctrine; and he would often remark that Epicurus, greatly admiring Pyrrho’s way of life, regularly asked him for information about Pyrrho; and that he was so respected by his native city that they made him high priest, and on his account they voted that all philosophers should be exempt from taxation.
O Pyrrho, O aged Pyrrho, whence and how
Found’st thou escape from servitude to sophists,
Their dreams and vanities; how didst thou loose
The bonds of trickery and specious craft?
Nor reck’st thou to inquire such things as these,
What breezes circle Hellas, to what end,
And from what quarter each may chance to blow.
And again in the Conceits:95
This, Pyrrho, this my heart is fain to know,
Whence peace of mind to thee doth freely flow,
Why among men thou like a god dost show?
Athens honoured him with her citizenship, says Diocles, for having slain the Thracian Cotys. He lived in fraternal piety with his sister, a midwife, so says Eratosthenes in his essay On Wealth and Poverty, now and then even taking things for sale to market, poultry perchance or pigs, and he would dust the things in the house, quite indifferent as to what he did. They say he showed his indifference by washing a porker. Once he got enraged in his sister’s cause (her name was Philista), and he told the man who blamed him that it was not over a weak woman that one should display indifference. When a cur rushed at him and terrified him, he answered his critic that it was not easy entirely to strip oneself of human weakness; but one should strive with all one’s might against facts, by deeds if possible, and if not, in word.
They say that, when septic salves and surgical and caustic remedies were applied to a wound he had sustained, he did not so much as frown. Timon also portrays his disposition in the full account which he gives of him to Pytho. Philo of Athens, a friend of his, used to say that he was most fond of Democritus, and then of Homer, admiring him and continually repeating the line
As leaves on trees, such is the life of man.96
He also admired Homer because he likened men to wasps, flies, and birds, and would quote these verses as well:
Ay, friend, die thou; why thus thy fate deplore?
Patroclus too, thy better, is no more,97
and all the passages which dwell on the unstable purpose, vain pursuits, and childish folly of man.98
Posidonius, too, relates of him a story of this sort. When his fellow-passengers on board a ship were all unnerved by a storm, he kept calm and confident, pointing to a little pig in the ship that went on eating, and telling them that such was the unperturbed state in which the wise man should keep himself. Numenius alone attributes to him positive tenets. He had pupils of repute, in particular one Eurylochus, who fell short of his professions; for they say that he was once so angry that he seized the spit with the meat on it and chased his cook right into the market-place. Once in Elis he was so hard pressed by his pupils’ questions that he stripped and swam across the Alpheus. Now he was, as Timon too says, most hostile to Sophists.
Philo, again, who had a habit of very often talking to himself, is also referred to in the lines:99
Yea, him that is far away from men, at leisure to himself,
Philo, who recks not of opinion or of wrangling.
Besides these, Pyrrho’s pupils included Hecataeus of Abdera, Timon of Phlius, author of the Silli, of whom more anon, and also Nausiphanes of Teos, said by some to have been a teacher of Epicurus. All these were called Pyrrhoneans after the name of their master, but Aporetics, Sceptics, Ephectics, and even Zetetics, from their principles, if we may call them such - Zetetics or seekers because they were ever seeking truth, Sceptics or inquirers because they were always looking for a solution and never finding one, Ephectics or doubters because of the state of mind which followed their inquiry, I mean, suspense of judgement, and finally Aporetics or those in perplexity, for not only they but even the dogmatic philosophers themselves in their turn were often perplexed. Pyrrhoneans, of course, they were called from Pyrrho. Theodosius in his Sceptic Chapters denies that Scepticism should be called Pyrrhonism; for if the movement of the mind in either direction is unattainable by us, we shall never know for certain what Pyrrho really intended, and without knowing that, we cannot be called Pyrrhoneans. Besides this (he says), there is the fact that Pyrrho was not the founder of Scepticism; nor had he any positive tenet; but a Pyrrhonean is one who in manners and life resembles Pyrrho.
Some call Homer the founder of this school, for to the same questions he more than anyone else is always giving different answers at different times, and is never definite or dogmatic about the answer. The maxims of the Seven Wise Men, too, they call sceptical; for instance, “Observe the Golden Mean,” and “A pledge is a curse at one’s elbow,” meaning that whoever plights his troth steadfastly and trustfully brings a curse on his own head. Sceptically minded, again, were Archilochus and Euripides, for Archilochus says:100
Man’s soul, O Glaucus, son of Leptines,
Is but as one short day that Zeus sends down.
Great God! how can they say poor mortal men
Have minds and think? Hang we not on thy will?
Do we not what it pleaseth thee to wish?
Furthermore, they find Xenophanes, Zeno of Elea, and Democritus to be sceptics: Xenophanes because he says,102
Clear truth hath no man seen nor e’er shall know
and Zeno because he would destroy motion, saying, “A moving body moves neither where it is nor where it is not”; Democritus because he rejects qualities, saying, “Opinion says hot or cold, but the reality is atoms and empty space,” and again, “Of a truth we know nothing, for truth is in a well.”103 Plato, too, leaves the truth to gods and sons of gods, and seeks after the probable explanation.104 Euripides says:105
Who knoweth if to die be but to live,
And that called life by mortals be but death?
So too Empedocles:106
So to these mortal may not list nor look
Nor yet conceive them in his mind;
and before that:107
Each believes naught but his experience.
Pliant is the tongue of mortals; numberless the tales within it;
Ample is of words the pasture, hither thither widely ranging;
And the saying which thou sayest, back it cometh later on thee,
where he is speaking of the equal value of contradictory sayings.
The Sceptics, then, were constantly engaged110 in overthrowing the dogmas of all schools, but enuntiated none themselves; and though they would go so far as to bring forward and expound the dogmas of the others, they themselves laid down nothing definitely, not even the laying down of nothing. So much so that they even refuted their laying down of nothing, saying, for instance, “We determine nothing,” since otherwise they would have been betrayed into determining;111 but we put forward, say they, all the theories for the purpose of indicating our unprecipitate attitude, precisely as we might have done if we had actually assented to them. Thus by the expression “We determine nothing” is indicated their state of even balance; which is similarly indicated by the other expressions, “Not more (one thing than another),” “Every saying has its corresponding opposite,” and the like. But “Not more (one thing than another)” can also be taken positively, indicating that two things are alike; for example, “The pirate is no more wicked than the liar.” But the Sceptics meant it not positively but negatively, as when, in refuting an argument, one says, “Neither had more existence, Scylla or the Chimaera.” And “More so” itself is sometimes comparative, as when we say that “Honey is more sweet than grapes”; sometimes both positive and negative, as when we say, “Virtue profits more than it harms,” for in this phrase we indicate that virtue profits and does not harm. But the Sceptics even refute the statement “Not more (one thing than another).” For, as forethought is no more existent than non-existent, so “Not more (one thing than another)” is no more existent than not. Thus, as Timon says in the Pytho, the statement means just absence of all determination and withholding of assent. The other statement, “Every saying, etc.,”112 equally compels suspension of judgement; when facts disagree, but the contradictory statements have exactly the same weight, ignorance of the truth is the necessary consequence. But even this statement has its corresponding antithesis, so that after destroying others it turns round and destroys itself, like a purge which drives the substance out and then in its turn is itself eliminated and destroyed.
This the dogmatists answer by saying that they do [not merely] not deny the statement, but even plainly assert it. So they were merely using the words as servants, as it was not possible not to refute one statement by another; just as we113 are accustomed to say there is no such thing as space, and yet we have no alternative but to speak of space for the purpose of argument, though not of positive doctrine, and just as we say nothing comes about by necessity and yet have to speak of necessity. This was the sort of interpretation they used to give; though things appear to be such and such, they are not such in reality but only appear such. And they would say that they sought, not thoughts, since thoughts are evidently thought, but the things in which sensation plays a part.
Thus the Pyrrhonean principle, as Aenesidemus says in the introduction to his Pyrrhonics, is but a report on phenomena or on any kind of judgement, a report in which all things are brought to bear on one another, and in the comparison are found to present much anomaly and confusion. As to the contradictions in their doubts, they would first show the ways in which things gain credence, and then by the same methods they would destroy belief in them; for they say those things gain credence which either the senses are agreed upon or which never or at least rarely change, as well as things which become habitual or are determined by law and those which please or excite wonder. They showed, then, on the basis of that which is contrary to what induces belief, that the probabilities on both sides are equal. Perplexities arise from the agreements114 between appearances or judgements, and these perplexities they distinguished under ten different modes in which the subjects in question appeared to vary. The following are the ten modes laid down.115
The first mode relates to the differences between living creatures in respect of those things which give them pleasure or pain, or are useful or harmful to them. By this it is inferred that they do not receive the same impressions from the same things, with the result that such a conflict necessarily leads to suspension of judgement. For some creatures multiply without intercourse, for example, creatures that live in fire, the Arabian phoenix and worms; others by union, such as man and the rest. Some are distinguished in one way, some in another, and for this reason they differ in their senses also, hawks for instance being most keen-sighted, and dogs having a most acute sense of smell. It is natural that if the senses, e.g. eyes, of animals differ, so also will the impressions produced upon them; so to the goat vine-shoots are good to eat, to man they are bitter; the quail thrives on hemlock, which is fatal to man; the pig will eat ordure, the horse will not.
The second mode has reference to the natures and idiosyncrasies of men; for instance, Demophon, Alexander’s butler, used to get warm in the shade and shiver in the sun. Andron of Argos is reported by Aristotle116 to have travelled across the waterless deserts of Libya without drinking. Moreover, one man fancies the profession of medicine, another farming, and another commerce; and the same ways of life are injurious to one man but beneficial to another; from which it follows that judgement must be suspended.
The third mode depends on the differences between the sense-channels in different cases, for an apple gives the impression of being pale yellow in colour to the sight, sweet in taste and fragrant in smell. An object of the same shape is made to appear different by differences in the mirrors reflecting it. Thus it follows that what appears is no more such and such a thing than something different.
The fourth mode is that due to differences of condition and to changes in general; for instance, health, illness, sleep, waking, joy, sorrow, youth, old age, courage, fear, want, fullness, hate, love, heat, cold, to say nothing of breathing freely and having the passages obstructed. The impressions received thus appear to vary according to the nature of the conditions. Nay, even the state of madmen is not contrary to nature; for why should their state be so more than ours? Even to our view the sun has the appearance of standing still. And Theon of Tithorea used to go to bed and walk in his sleep, while Pericles’ slave did the same on the housetop.
The fifth mode is derived from customs, laws, belief in myths, compacts between nations and dogmatic assumptions. This class includes considerations with regard to things beautiful and ugly, true and false, good and bad, with regard to the gods, and with regard to the coming into being and the passing away of the world of phenomena. Obviously the same thing is regarded by some as just and by others as unjust, or as good by some and bad by others. Persians think it not unnatural for a man to marry his daughter; to Greeks it is unlawful. The Massagetae, acording to Eudoxus in the first book of his Voyage round the World, have their wives in common; the Greeks have not. The Cilicians used to delight in piracy; not so the Greeks. Different people believe in different gods; some in providence, others not. In burying their dead, the Egyptians embalm them; the Romans burn them; the Paeonians throw them into lakes. As to what is true, then, let suspension of judgement be our practice.
The sixth mode relates to mixtures and participations, by virtue of which nothing appears pure in and by itself, but only in combination with air, light, moisture, solidity, heat, cold, movement, exhalations and other forces. For purple shows different tints in sunlight, moonlight, and lamplight; and our own complexion does not appear the same at noon and when the sun is low. Again, a rock which in air takes two men to lift is easily moved about in water, either because, being in reality heavy, it is lifted by the water or because, being light, it is made heavy by the air. Of its own inherent property we know nothing, any more than of the constituent oils in an ointment.
The seventh mode has reference to distances, positions, places and the occupants of the places. In this mode things which are thought to be large appear small, square things round; flat things appear to have projections, straight things to be bent, and colourless coloured. So the sun, on account of its distance, appears small, mountains when far away appear misty and smooth, but when near at hand rugged. Furthermore, the sun at its rising has a certain appearance, but has a dissimilar appearance when in mid-heaven, and the same body one appearance in a wood and another in open country. The image again varies according to the position of the object, and a dove’s neck according to the way it is turned. Since, then, it is not possible to observe these things apart from places and positions, their real nature is unknowable.
The eighth mode is concerned with quantities and qualities of things, say heat or cold, swiftness or slowness, colourlessness or variety of colours. Thus wine taken in moderation strengthens the body, but too much of it is weakening; and so with food and other things.
The ninth mode has to do with perpetuity, strangeness, or rarity. Thus earthquakes are no surprise to those among whom they constantly take place; nor is the sun, for it is seen every day.117 This ninth mode is put eighth by Favorinus and tenth by Sextus and Aenesidemus; moreover the tenth is put eighth by Sextus and ninth by Favorinus.
The tenth mode rests on inter-relation, e.g. between light and heavy, strong and weak, greater and less, up and down. Thus that which is on the right is not so by nature, but is so understood in virtue of its position with respect to something else; for, if that change its position, the thing is no longer on the right. Similarly father and brother are relative terms, day is relative to the sun, and all things relative to our mind. Thus relative terms are in and by themselves unknowable. These, then, are the ten modes of perplexity.
But Agrippa and his school add to them118 five other modes, resulting respectively from disagreement, extension ad infinitum, relativity, hypothesis and reciprocal inference. The mode arising from disagreement proves, with regard to any inquiry whether in philosophy or in everyday life, that it is full of the utmost contentiousness and confusion. The mode which involves extension ad infinitum refuses to admit that what is sought to be proved is firmly established, because one thing furnishes the ground for belief in another, and so on ad infinitum. The mode derived from relativity declares that a thing can never be apprehended in and by itself, but only in connexion with something else. Hence all things are unknowable. The mode resulting from hypothesis arises when people suppose that you must take the most elementary of things as of themselves entitled to credence, instead of postulating them: which is useless, because some one else will adopt the contrary hypothesis. The mode arising from reciprocal inference is found whenever that which should be confirmatory of the thing requiring to be proved itself has to borrow credit from the latter, as, for example, if anyone seeking to establish the existence of pores on the ground that emanations take place should take this (the existence of pores) as proof that there are emanations.119
They would deny all demonstration, criterion, sign, cause, motion, the process of learning, coming into being, or that there is anything good or bad by nature. For all demonstration, say they, is constructed out of things either already proved or indemonstrable. If out of things already proved, those things too will require some demonstration, and so on ad infinitum; if out of things indemonstrable, then, whether all or some or only a single one of the steps are the subject of doubt, the whole is indemonstrable.120 If you think, they add, that there are some things which need no demonstration, yours must be a rare intellect, not to see that you must first have demonstration of the very fact that the things you refer to carry conviction in themselves. Nor must we prove that the elements are four from the fact that the elements are four. Besides, if we discredit particular demonstrations, we cannot accept the generalization from them. And in order that we may know that an argument constitutes a demonstration, we require a criterion; but again, in order that we may know that it is a criterion we require a demonstration; hence both the one and the other are incomprehensible, since each is referred to the other. How then are we to grasp the things which are uncertain, seeing that we know no demonstration? For what we wish to ascertain is not whether things appear to be such and such, but whether they are so in their essence.
They declared the dogmatic philosophers to be fools, observing that what is concluded ex hypothesi is properly described not as inquiry but assumption, and by reasoning of this kind one may even argue for impossibilities. As for those who think that we should not judge of truth from surrounding circumstances or legislate on the basis of what is found in nature, these men, they used to say, made themselves the measure of all things, and did not see that every phenomenon appears in a certain disposition and in a certain reciprocal relation to surrounding circumstances. Therefore we must affirm either that all things are true or that all things are false. For if certain things only are true [and others are false], how are we to distinguish them? Not by the senses, where things in the field of sense are in question, since all these things appear to sense to be on an equal footing; nor by the mind, for the same reason. Yet apart from these faculties there is no other, so far as we can see, to help us to a judgement. Whoever therefore, they say, would be firmly assured about anything sensible or intelligible must first establish the received opinions about it; for some have refuted one doctrine, others another. But things must be judged either by the sensible or by the intelligible, and both are disputed. Therefore it is impossible to pronounce judgement on opinions about sensibles or intelligibles; and if the conflict in our thoughts compels us to disbelieve every one, the standard or measure, by which it is held that all things are exactly determined, will be destroyed, and we must deem every statement of equal value. Further, say they, our partner in an inquiry into a phenomenon is either to be trusted or not. If he is, he will have nothing to reply to the man to whom it appears to be the opposite;121 for just as our friend who describes what appears to him is to be trusted, so is his opponent. If he is not to be trusted, he will actually be disbelieved when he describes what appears to him.
We must not assume that what convinces us is actually true. For the same thing does not convince every one, nor even the same people always. Persuasiveness sometimes depends on external circumstances, on the reputation of the speaker, on his ability as a thinker or his artfulness, on the familiarity or the pleasantness of the topic.
Again, they would destroy the criterion by reasoning of this kind. Even the criterion has either been critically determined or not. If it has not, it is definitely untrustworthy, and in its purpose of distinguishing is no more true than false. If it has, it will belong to the class of particular judgements, so that one and the same thing determines and is determined, and the criterion which has determined will have to be determined by another, that other by another, and so on ad infinitum. In addition to this there is disagreement as to the criterion, some holding that man is the criterion, while for some it is the senses, for others reason, for others the apprehensive presentation. Now man disagrees with man and with himself, as is shown by differences of laws and customs. The senses deceive, and reason says different things. Finally, the apprehensive presentation is judged by the mind, and the mind itself changes in various ways. Hence the criterion is unknowable, and consequently truth also.
They deny, too, that there is such a thing as a sign. If there is, they say, it must either be sensible or intelligible. Now it is not sensible, because what is sensible is a common attribute, whereas a sign is a particular thing. Again, the sensible is one of the things which exist by way of difference, while the sign belongs to the category of relative. Nor is a sign an object of thought, for objects of thought are of four kinds, apparent judgements on things apparent, non-apparent judgements on things non-apparent, non-apparent on apparent, or apparent on non-apparent; and a sign is none of these, so that there is no such thing as a sign. A sign is not “apparent on apparent,” for what is apparent needs no sign; nor is it non-apparent on non-apparent, for what is revealed by something must needs appear; nor is it non-apparent on apparent, for that which is to afford the means of apprehending something else must itself be apparent; nor, lastly, is it apparent on non-apparent, because the sign, being relative, must be apprehended along with that of which it is the sign, which is not here the case. It follows that nothing uncertain can be apprehended; for it is through signs that uncertain things are said to be apprehended.122
Causes, too, they destroy in this way. A cause is something relative; for it is relative to what can be caused, namely, the effect. But things which are relative are merely objects of thought and have no substantial existence. Therefore a cause can only be an object of thought; inasmuch as, if it be a cause, it must bring with it that of which it is said to be the cause, otherwise it will not be a cause. Just as a father, in the absence of that in relation to which he is called father, will not be a father, so too with a cause. But that in relation to which the cause is thought of, namely the effect, is not present; for there is no coming into being or passing away or any other process: therefore there is no such thing as cause. Furthermore, if there is a cause, either bodies are the cause of bodies, or things incorporeal of things incorporeal; but neither is the case; therefore there is no such thing as cause. Body in fact could not be the cause of body, inasmuch as both have the same nature. And if either is called a cause in so far as it is a body, the other, being a body, will become a cause. But if both be alike causes, there will be nothing to be acted upon Nor can an incorporeal thing be the cause of an incorporeal thing, for the same reason. And a thing incorporeal cannot be the cause of a body, since nothing incorporeal creates anything corporeal. And, lastly, a body cannot be the cause of anything incorporeal, because what is produced must be of the material operated upon; but if it is not operated upon because it is incorporeal, it cannot be produced by anything whatever. Therefore there is no such thing as a cause. A corollary to this is their statement that the first principles of the universe have no real existence; for in that case something must have been there to create and act.
Furthermore there is no motion; for that which moves moves either in the place where it is or in a place where it is not. But it cannot move in the place where it is, still less in any place where it is not. Therefore there is no such thing as motion.
They used also to deny the possibility of learning. If anything is taught, they say, either the existent is taught through its existence or the non-existent through its non-existence. But the existent is not taught through its existence, for the nature of existing things is apparent to and recognized by all; nor is the non-existent taught through the nonexistent, for with the non-existent nothing is ever done, so that it cannot be taught to anyone.
Nor, say they, is there any coming into being. For that which is does not come into being, since it is; nor yet that which is not, for it has no substantial existence, and that which is neither substantial nor existent cannot have had the chance of coming into being either.
There is nothing good or bad by nature, for if there is anything good or bad by nature, it must be good or bad for all persons alike, just as snow is cold to all. But there is no good or bad which is such to all persons in common; therefore there is no such thing as good or bad by nature. For either all that is thought good by anyone whatever must be called good, or not all. Certainly all cannot be so called; since one and the same thing is thought good by one person and bad by another; for instance, Epicurus thought pleasure good and Antisthenes thought it bad; thus on our supposition it will follow that the same thing is both good and bad. But if we say that not all that anyone thinks good is good, we shall have to judge the different opinions; and this is impossible because of the equal validity of opposing arguments. Therefore the good by nature is unknowable.
The whole of their mode of inference can be gathered from their extant treatises. Pyrrho himself, indeed, left no writings, but his associates Timon, Aenesidemus, Numenius and Nausiphanes did; and others as well.
The dogmatists answer them by declaring that the Sceptics themselves do apprehend and dogmatize; for when they are thought to be refuting their hardest they do apprehend, for at the very same time they are asseverating and dogmatizing. Thus even when they declare that they determine nothing, and that to every argument there is an opposite argument, they are actually determining these very points and dogmatizing.123 The others reply, “We confess to human weaknesses; for we recognize that it is day and that we are alive, and many other apparent facts in life; but with regard to the things about which our opponents argue so positively, claiming to have definitely apprehended them, we suspend our judgement because they are not certain, and confine knowledge to our impressions.124 For we admit that we see, and we recognize that we think this or that, but how we see or how we think we know not. And we say in conversation that a certain thing appears white, but we are not positive that it really is white. As to our ‘We determine nothing’ and the like,125 we use the expressions in an undogmatic sense, for they are not like the assertion that the world is spherical. Indeed the latter statement is not certain, but the others are mere admissions. Thus in saying ‘We determine nothing,’ we are not determining even that.”
Again, the dogmatic philosophers maintain that the Sceptics do away with life itself, in that they reject all that life consists in. The others say this is false, for they do not deny that we see; they only say that they do not know how we see. “We admit the apparent fact,” say they, “without admitting that it really is what it appears to be.” We also perceive that fire burns; as to whether it is its nature to burn, we suspend our judgement. We see that a man moves, and that he perishes; how it happens we do not know. We merely object to accepting the unknown substance behind phenomena. When we say a picture has projections, we are describing what is apparent; but if we say that it has no projections, we are then speaking, not of what is apparent, but of something else. This is what makes Timon say in his Python that he has not gone outside what is customary. And again in the Conceits he says:126
But the apparent is omnipotent wherever it goes;
and in his work On the Senses, “I do not lay it down that honey is sweet, but I admit that it appears to be so.”
Aenesidemus too in the first book of his Pyrrhonean Discourses says that Pyrrho determines nothing dogmatically, because of the possibility of contradiction, but guides himself by apparent facts. Aenesidemus says the same in his works Against Wisdom and On Inquiry. Furthermore Zeuxis, the friend of Aenesidemus, in his work On Two-sided Arguments, Antiochus of Laodicea, and Apellas in his Agrippa all hold to phenomena alone. Therefore the apparent is the Sceptic’s criterion, as indeed Aenesidemus says; and so does Epicurus. Democritus, however, denied that any apparent fact could be a criterion, indeed he denied the very existence of the apparent. Against this criterion of appearances the dogmatic philosophers urge that, when the same appearances produce in us different impressions, e.g. a round or square tower, the Sceptic, unless he gives the preference to one or other, will be unable to take any course; if on the other hand, say they, he follows either view, he is then no longer allowing equal value to all apparent facts. The Sceptics reply that, when different impressions are produced, they must both be said to appear;127 for things which are apparent are so called because they appear. The end to be realized they hold to be suspension of judgement, which brings with it tranquillity like its shadow: so Timon and Aenesidemus declare. For in matters which are for us to decide we shall neither choose this nor shrink from that; and things which are not for us to decide but happen of necessity, such as hunger, thirst and pain, we cannot escape,128 for they are not to be removed by force of reason. And when the dogmatists argue that he may thus live in such a frame of mind that he would not shrink from killing and eating his own father if ordered to do so, the Sceptic replies that he will be able so to live as to suspend his judgement in cases where it is a question of arriving at the truth, but not in matters of life and the taking of precautions. Accordingly we may choose a thing or shrink from a thing by habit and may observe rules and customs. According to some authorities the end proposed by the Sceptics is insensibility; according to others, gentleness.129
89 For “Stilpo’s son Bryson” Roeper’s conjecture βρύσωνος ἢ Στίλπωνος (Philolog. xxx. 462) would substitute “under Bryson or Stilpo.” In any case chronology seems to forbid the supposition that Pyrrho was a pupil of either Stilpo or Bryson.
90 i.e. a particular act is no more just than unjust.
91 Here Diels would insert in the text words which would make the meaning “easily moved by the applause of the crowd and ambitious of fame.”
92 The citation from the Pytho is lost.
93 Fr. 48 D.
94 Il. ii. 796; Od. xvi. 465.
95 Fr. 67 D.
96 Il. vi. 146.
97 Il. xxi. 106 f.
98 Here, it would seem, the materials which can be traced to Antigonus of Carystus come to an end. The source of the long passage 69-108, with which must go the Sceptical Succession, 115-116, is not obvious. It may be supposed that D. L. with his seeming partiality for the school (cf. 109) has here taken pains to collect as much new material as possible. It is hardly likely that, without personal bias, a biographer would draw upon “the commentary of Apollonides on the Silli of Timon which he dedicated to Tiberius Caesar,” and the like. It has indeed been said that D. L. had access to a sceptical monograph which he either had or wished to have copied for himself. If so, it must have been by a contemporary, or at any rate a writer not earlier than Antiochus of Laodicea (106) and Sextus Empiricus (87).
99 Cf. Od. xxi. 364.
100 Fr. 70 B.
101 Supplices, 735-737.
102 Fr. 34 D.
103 This proverbial expression is inadequate; a more literal rendering of ἐν βύθῳ would be “in an abyss.”
104 Tim. 40 d.
105 Nauck, T.G.F. ², Eur. 638; Polyid. Fr. 7.
106 Fr. 2, l. 7.
107 Ib. l. 5.
108 Fr. 47 D., 48 B.
109 Il. xx. 248-250.
110 διετέλουν, imperfect.
111 Inf. 104.
112 i.e. “Every saying has its corresponding opposite” (supra, 74).
113 Here (as in 104) the writer, whether D. L. or his source, seems to pose as a Sceptic himself; cf. Introd. p. xiii.
114 If, however, with Reiske we here read τῆς for τὰς, the meaning is: “The objections urged against the (supposed) consistency of our percepts or our concepts, were arranged by them under ten modes.”
115 Cf. Sext. Emp. Pyrrh. Hyp. i. 36-163.
116 Fr. 103 Rose.
117 As contrasted, e.g., with a comet; cf. Sext. Emp. Pyrrh. Hyp. i. 141.
118 Sext. Emp. Pyrrh. Hyp. i. 37 ὄγδοος ὁ ἀπὸ τοῦ πρός τι. The intention of Agrippa was to replace the ten modes by his five.
119 This is what is commonly called arguing in a circle.
120 Compare Sext. Emp. Pyrrh. Hyp. ii. 185. “The dogmatists assert that the sceptical arguments against demonstration are either demonstrative or non-demonstrative. If the latter, they fail to establish their point [namely, that there is no such thing as demonstration]; if the former, the Sceptics by assuming demonstration confute themselves.”
121 e.g. to be not a serpent, but a coil of rope.
122 This conclusion would debar us from all extension of knowledge beyond what is apparent here and now; whereas the dogmatists permit us from such facts to advance to what is not immediately evident, the realm of the unknown or as yet unascertained; ̔ἄδηλον̓.
124 i.e. all we know is that we feel. Cf. supra, ii. 92.
126 Fr. 69 D.
127 i.e. the one has as much right to be called an appearance as the other.
128 Τὰ δ’ ὅσα περὶ ἡμᾶς οὐκ ἔστιν, ἀλλὰ κατ’ ἀνάγκην, οὐ δυνάμεθα φεύγειν. This is explained by Sext. Emp. Pyrrh. Hyp. i. 29 ὀχλεῖσθαί φαμεν (sc. τὸν σκεπτικὸν̓ ὑπὸ τῶν κατηναγκασμένων ‧ “For we admit that we feel cold, that we are thirsty,” etc.
129 i.e. a calm, the opposite of an excitable, temperament: cf. Plato, Lys 211 e πρᾁως ἔχω.
Timon, says our130 Apollonides of Nicaea in the first book of his commentaries On the Silli, which he dedicated to Tiberius Caesar, was the son of Timarchus and a native of Phlius. Losing his parents when young, he became a stage-dancer, but later took a dislike to that pursuit and went abroad to Megara to stay with Stilpo; then after some time he returned home and married. After that he went to Pyrrho at Elis with his wife, and lived there until his children were born; the elder of these he called Xanthus, taught him medicine, and made him his heir. This son was a man of high repute, as we learn from Sotion in his eleventh book. Timon, however, found himself without means of support and sailed to the Hellespont and Propontis. Living now at Chalcedon as a sophist, he increased his reputation still further and, having made his fortune, went to Athens, where he lived until his death, except for a short period which he spent at Thebes. He was known to King Antigonus and to Ptolemy Philadelphus, as his own iambics131 testify.
He was, according to Antigonus, fond of wine, and in the time that he could spare from philosophy he used to write poems. These included epics, tragedies, satyric dramas, thirty comedies and sixty tragedies, besides silli (lampoons) and obscene poems. There are also reputed works of his extending to twenty thousand verses which are mentioned by Antigonus of Carystus, who also wrote his life. There are three silli in which, from his point of view as a Sceptic, he abuses every one and lampoons the dogmatic philosophers, using the form of parody. In the first he speaks in the first person throughout, the second and third are in the form of dialogues; for he represents himself as questioning Xenophanes of Colophon about each philosopher in turn, while Xenophanes answers him; in the second he speaks of the more ancient philosophers, in the third of the later, which is why some have entitled it the Epilogue. The first deals with the same subjects, except that the poem is a monologue. It begins as follows:132
Ye sophists, ye inquisitives, come! follow!
He died at the age of nearly ninety, so we learn from Antigonus and from Sotion in his eleventh book. I have heard that he had only one eye; indeed he used to call himself a Cyclops. There was another Timon, the misanthrope.133
Now this philosopher, according to Antigonus, was very fond of gardens and preferred to mind his own affairs. At all events there is a story that Hieronymus the Peripatetic said of him, “Just as with the Scythians those who are in flight shoot as well as those who pursue, so, among philosophers, some catch their disciples by pursuing them, some by fleeing from them, as for instance Timon.”
He was quick to perceive anything and to turn up his nose in scorn; he was fond of writing and at all times good at sketching plots for poets and collaborating in dramas. He used to give the dramatists Alexander and Homer materials for their tragedies.134 When disturbed by maidservants and dogs, he would stop writing, his earnest desire being to maintain tranquillity. Aratus is said to have asked him how he could obtain a trustworthy text of Homer, to which he replied, “You can, if you get hold of the ancient copies, and not the corrected copies of our day.” He used to let his own poems lie about, sometimes half eaten away. Hence, when he came to read parts of them to Zopyrus the orator, he would turn over the pages and recite whatever came handy; then, when he was half through, he would discover the piece which he had been looking for in vain, so careless was he.135 Furthermore, he was so easy-going that he would readily go without his dinner. They say that once, when he saw Arcesilaus passing through the “knaves-market,” he said, “What business have you to come here, where we are all free men?” He was constantly in the habit of quoting, to those who would admit the evidence of the senses when confirmed by the judgement of the mind, the line –
Birds of a feather flock together.136
Jesting in this fashion was habitual with him. When a man marvelled at everything, he said, “Why do you not marvel that we three have but four eyes between us?” for in fact he himself had only one eye, as also had his disciple Dioscurides, while the man whom he addressed was normal. Asked once by Arcesilaus why he had come there from Thebes, he replied, “Why, to laugh when I have you all in full view!” Yet, while attacking Arcesilaus in his Silli, he has praised him in his work entitled the Funeral Banquet of Arcesilaus.
According to Menodotus he left no successor, but his school lapsed until Ptolemy of Cyrene re-established it. Hippobotus and Sotion, however, say that he had as pupils Dioscurides of Cyprus, Nicolochus of Rhodes, Euphranor of Seleucia, and Pralus of the Troad.137 The latter, as we learn from the history of Phylarchus, was a man of such unflinching courage that, although unjustly accused, he patiently suffered a traitor’s death, without so much as deigning to speak one word to his fellow-citizens.
Euphranor had as pupil Eubulus of Alexandria; Eubulus taught Ptolemy, and he again Sarpedon and Heraclides; Heraclides again taught Aenesidemus of Cnossus, the compiler of eight books of Pyrrhonean discourses; the latter was the instructor of Zeuxippus his fellow-citizen, he of Zeuxis of the angular foot,138 he again of Antiochus of Laodicea on the Lycus, who had as pupils Menodotus of Nicomedia, an empiric physician, and Theiodas of Laodicea; Menodotus was the instructor of Herodotus of Tarsus, son of Arieus, and Herodotus taught Sextus Empiricus, who wrote ten books on Scepticism, and other fine works. Sextus taught Saturninus called Cythenas,139 another empiricist.
130 Ὁ παρ’ ἡμῶν. Reiske took this to mean “my fellow-citizen,” ὁ τῆς ἡμετέρας πόλεως. Hence Usener inferred that Nicias of Nicaea was the author here used by D. L.; but nothing that we know of this Nicias tends to confirm such a conjecture. In favour of the translation adopted by most scholars it may be urged that Strabo calls the Stoics οι ἡμέτεροι, just as Cicero calls the Academics “nostri.” Even if we accept this meaning, “a Sceptic like myself,” a further subtlety arises. Is D. L. here speaking in his own person or has he merely transcribed ὁ παρ’ ἡμῶν from a monograph of a Sceptic? Something may be urged on either side; for reasons given in Introd. p. xiii, the former conjecture seems somewhat more probable.
131 Possibly the proem of the Silli.
132 Fr. 1 D.
133 Diels regards the passage from καὶ ἔπη, 110, down to Τίμων ὁ μισάνθρωπος, 112, as an insertion, disturbing the symmetry of the materials derived from Antigonus of Carystus.
134 i.e. he collaborated with these two tragic poets, Alexander the Aetolian and Homer of Byzantinum, partly by furnishing them with plots, partly by handing over scenes from unpublished plays of his own, or other similar material.
135 Similar carelessness is recorded of Lamartine.
136 Usually explained, after Diogenianus, of two notorious thieves, Attagas the Thessalian and Numenius the Corinthian. There may, however, be a sly hit at Pyrrho’s disciple Numenius (supra, 102). Or merely the birds partridge and woodcock may be meant, not any Mr. Partridge and Mr. Woodcock.
137 This is probably the same person as is referred to by Clem. Alex. Strom. iv. 56, where the text reads Παῦλος ὁ Λακύδου γνώριμος. His heroic end was also extolled (Clement says) by Timotheus of Pergamum. See Wilamowitz, Phil. Unters. iv. p. 107.
138 γωνιόπους, Cruickshank
139 Possibly κυδαθηναιεύς, i.e. a member of the well-known Attic deme, into which even Italians with such names as Saturninus might penetrate under the cosmopolitan empire of the Severi.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:07