Lives of the Eminent Philosophers

Diogenes Laërtius

Translated by Robert Drew Hicks

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Table of Contents

Book I— The Seven Sages

  1. Prologue
  2. Thales
  3. Solon
  4. Chilon of Sparta
  5. Pittacus of Mytilene
  6. Bias of Priene
  7. Cleobulus
  8. Periander
  9. Anacharsis
  10. Myson of Chenae
  11. Epimenides
  12. Pherecydes of Syros

Book II— Socrates, with predecessors and followers

  1. Anaximander
  2. Anaximenes of Miletus
  3. Anaxagoras
  4. Archelaus
  5. Socrates
  6. Xenophon
  7. Aeschines of Sphettus
  8. Aristippus
  9. Phaedo of Elis
  10. Euclides of Megara
  11. Stilpo
  12. Crito of Alopece
  13. Simon the Shoemaker
  14. Glaucon
  15. Simmias of Thebes
  16. Cebes
  17. Menedemus

Book III— Plato

  1. Plato

Book IV— The Academics

  1. Speusippus
  2. Xenocrates
  3. Polemo
  4. Crates of Athens
  5. Crantor
  6. Arcesilaus
  7. Bion of Borysthenes
  8. Lacydes of Cyrene
  9. Carneades
  10. Clitomachus

Book V— The Peripatetics

  1. Aristotle
  2. Theophrastus
  3. Strato of Lampsacus
  4. Lyco of Troas
  5. Demetrius of Phalerum
  6. Heraclides Ponticus

Book VI— The Cynics

  1. Antisthenes
  2. Diogenes of Sinope
  3. Monimus
  4. Onesicritus
  5. Crates of Thebes
  6. Metrocles
  7. Hipparchia of Maroneia
  8. Menippus
  9. Menedemus the Cynic

Book VII— The Stoics

  1. Zeno of Citium
  2. Ariston of Chios
  3. Herillus
  4. Dionysius the Renegade
  5. Cleanthes
  6. Sphaerus
  7. Chrysippus

Book VIII— Pythagoreans

  1. Pythagoras
  2. Empedocles
  3. Epicharmus of Kos
  4. Archytas
  5. Alcmaeon of Croton
  6. Hippasus
  7. Philolaus
  8. Eudoxus of Cnidos

Book IX— Others (Eleatics, Atomists, Skeptics, etc.)

  1. Heraclitus
  2. Xenophanes
  3. Parmenides
  4. Melissus of Samos
  5. Zeno of Elea
  6. Leucippus
  7. Democritus
  8. Protagoras
  9. Diogenes of Apollonia
  10. Anaxarchus
  11. Pyrrho
  12. Timon of Phlius

Book X— Epicurus

  1. Epicurus

Book I

Thales. Solon. Chilon. Pittacus. Bias. Cleobulus. Periander. Anacharsis. Myson. Epimenides. Pherecydes.


There are some who say that the study of philosophy had its beginning among the barbarians. They urge that the Persians have had their Magi, the Babylonians or Assyrians their Chaldaeans, and the Indians their Gymnosophists; and among the Celts and Gauls there are the people called Druids or Holy Ones, for which they cite as authorities the Magicus of Aristotle and Sotion in the twenty-third1 book of his Succession of Philosophers. Also they say that Mochus was a Phoenician, Zamolxis a Thracian, and Atlas a Libyan.

If we may believe the Egyptians, Hephaestus was the son of the Nile, and with him philosophy began, priests and prophets being its chief exponents. Hephaestus lived 48,863 years before Alexander of Macedon, and in the interval there occurred 373 solar and 832 lunar eclipses. The date of the Magians, beginning with Zoroaster the Persian, was 5000 years before the fall of Troy, as given by Hermodorus the Platonist in his work on mathematics; but Xanthus the Lydian reckons 6000 years from Zoroaster to the expedition of Xerxes, and after that event he places a long line of Magians in succession, bearing the names of Ostanas, Astrampsychos, Gobryas, and Pazatas, down to the conquest of Persia by Alexander.

These authors forget that the achievements which they attribute to the barbarians belong to the Greeks, with whom not merely philosophy but the human race itself began. For instance, Musaeus is claimed by Athens, Linus by Thebes. It is said that the former, the son of Eumolpus, was the first to compose a genealogy of the gods and to construct a sphere, and that he maintained that all things proceed from unity and are resolved again into unity. He died at Phalerum, and this is his epitaph:2

Musaeus, to his sire Eumolpus dear,

In Phalerean soil lies buried here;

and the Eumolpidae at Athens get their name from the father of Musaeus.

Linus again was (so it is said) the son of Hermes and the Muse Urania. He composed a poem describing the creation of the world, the courses of the sun and moon, and the growth of animals and plants. His poem begins with the line:

Time was when all things grew up at once;

and this idea was borrowed by Anaxagoras when he declared that all things were originally together until Mind came and set them in order. Linus died in Euboea, slain by the arrow of Apollo, and this is his epitaph:3

Here Theban Linus, whom Urania bore,

The fair-crowned Muse, sleeps on a foreign shore.

And thus it was from the Greeks that philosophy took its rise: its very name refuses to be translated into foreign speech.

But those who attribute its invention to barbarians bring forward Orpheus the Thracian, calling him a philosopher of whose antiquity there can be no doubt. Now, considering the sort of things he said about the gods, I hardly know whether he ought to be called a philosopher; for what are we to make of one who does not scruple to charge the gods with all human suffering, and even the foul crimes wrought by the tongue amongst a few of mankind? The story goes that he met his death at the hands of women; but according to the epitaph at Dium in Macedonia he was slain by a thunderbolt; it runs as follows:4

Here have the Muses laid their minstrel true,

The Thracian Orpheus whom Jove’s thunder slew.

But the advocates of the theory that philosophy took its rise among the barbarians go on to explain the different forms it assumed in different countries. As to the Gymnosophists and Druids we are told that they uttered their philosophy in riddles, bidding men to reverence the gods, to abstain from wrongdoing, and to practise courage. That the Gymnosophists at all events despise even death itself is affirmed by Clitarchus in his twelfth book; he also says that the Chaldaeans apply themselves to astronomy and forecasting the future; while the Magi spend their time in the worship of the gods, in sacrifices and in prayers, implying that none but themselves have the ear of the gods. They propound their views concerning the being and origin of the gods, whom they hold to be fire, earth, and water; they condemn the use of images, and especially the error of attributing to the divinities difference of sex. They hold discourse of justice, and deem it impious to practise cremation; but they see no impiety in marriage with a mother or daughter, as Sotion relates in his twenty-third book. Further, they practise divination and forecast the future, declaring that the gods appear to them in visible form. Moreover, they say that the air is full of shapes which stream forth like vapour and enter the eyes of keen-sighted seers. They prohibit personal ornament and the wearing of gold. Their dress is white, they make their bed on the ground, and their food is vegetables, cheese,5 and coarse bread; their staff is a reed and their custom is, so we are told, to stick it into the cheese and take up with it the part they eat.

With the art of magic they were wholly unacquainted, according to Aristotle in his Magicus and Dinon in the fifth book of his History Dinon tells us that the name Zoroaster, literally interpreted, means “star-worshipper”;6 and Hermodorus agrees with him in this. Aristotle in the first book of his dialogue On Philosophy declares that the Magi are more ancient than the Egyptians; and further, that they believe in two principles, the good spirit and the evil spirit, the one called Zeus or Oromasdes, the other Hades or Arimanius. This is confirmed by Hermippus in his first book about the Magi, Eudoxus in his Voyage round the World, and Theopompus in the eighth book of his Philippica. The last-named author says that according to the Magi men will live in a future life and be immortal, and that the world will endure through their invocations.7 This is again confirmed by Eudemus of Rhodes. But Hecataeus relates that according to them the gods are subject to birth. Clearchus of Soli in his tract On Education further makes the Gymnosophists to be descended from the Magi; and some trace the Jews also to the same origin. Furthermore, those who have written about the Magi criticize Herodotus. They urge that Xerxes would never have cast javelins at the sun nor have let down fetters into the sea, since in the creed of the Magi sun and sea are gods. But that statues of the gods should be destroyed by Xerxes was natural enough.

The philosophy of the Egyptians is described as follows so far as relates to the gods and to justice. They say that matter was the first principle, next the four elements were derived from matter, and thus living things of every species were produced. The sun and the moon are gods bearing the names of Osiris and Isis respectively; they make use of the beetle, the dragon, the hawk, and other creatures as symbols of divinity, according to Manetho in his Epitome of Physical Doctrines, and Hecataeus in the first book of his work On the Egyptian Philosophy. They also set up statues and temples to these sacred animals because they do not know the true form of the deity. They hold that the universe is created and perishable, and that it is spherical in shape. They say that the stars consist of fire, and that, according as the fire in them is mixed, so events happen upon earth; that the moon is eclipsed when it falls into the earth’s shadow; that the soul survives death and passes into other bodies; that rain is caused by change in the atmosphere; of all other phenomena they give physical explanations, as related by Hecataeus and Aristagoras. They also laid down laws on the subject of justice, which they ascribed to Hermes; and they deified those animals which are serviceable to man. They also claimed to have invented geometry, astronomy, and arithmetic. Thus much concerning the invention of philosophy.

But the first to use the term, and to call himself a philosopher or lover of wisdom, was Pythagoras;8 for, said he, no man is wise, but God alone. Heraclides of Pontus, in his De mortua, makes him say this at Sicyon in conversation with Leon, who was the prince of that city or of Phlius. All too quickly the study was called wisdom and its professor a sage, to denote his attainment of mental perfection; while the student who took it up was a philosopher or lover of wisdom. Sophists was another name for the wise men, and not only for philosophers but for the poets also. And so Cratinus when praising Homer and Hesiod in his Archilochi gives them the title of sophist.

The men who were commonly regarded as sages were the following: Thales, Solon, Periander, Cleobulus, Chilon, Bias, Pittacus. To these are added Anacharsis the Scythian, Myson of Chen, Pherecydes of Syros, Epimenides the Cretan; and by some even Pisistratus the tyrant. So much for the sages or wise men.9

But philosophy, the pursuit of wisdom, has had a twofold origin; it started with Anaximander on the one hand, with Pythagoras on the other. The former was a pupil of Thales, Pythagoras was taught by Pherecydes. The one school was called Ionian, because Thales, a Milesian and therefore an Ionian, instructed Anaximander; the other school was called Italian from Pythagoras, who worked for the most part in Italy. And the one school, that of Ionia, terminates with Clitomachus and Chrysippus and Theophrastus, that of Italy with Epicurus. The succession passes from Thales through Anaximander, Anaximenes, Anaxagoras, Archelaus, to Socrates, who introduced ethics or moral philosophy; from Socrates to his pupils the Socratics, and especially to Plato, the founder of the Old Academy; from Plato, through Speusippus and Xenocrates, the succession passes to Polemo, Crantor, and Crates, Arcesilaus, founder of the Middle Academy, Lacydes,10 founder of the New Academy, Carneades, and Clitomachus. This line brings us to Clitomachus.

There is another which ends with Chrysippus, that is to say by passing from Socrates to Antisthenes, then to Diogenes the Cynic, Crates of Thebes, Zeno of Citium, Cleanthes, Chrysippus. And yet again another ends with Theophrastus; thus from Plato it passes to Aristotle, and from Aristotle to Theophrastus. In this manner the school of Ionia comes to an end.

In the Italian school the order of succession is as follows: first Pherecydes, next Pythagoras, next his son Telauges, then Xenophanes, Parmenides,11 Zeno of Elea, Leucippus, Democritus, who had many pupils, in particular Nausiphanes [and Naucydes], who were teachers of Epicurus.

Philosophers may be divided into dogmatists and sceptics: all those who make assertions about things assuming that they can be known are dogmatists; while all who suspend their judgement on the ground that things are unknowable are sceptics. Again, some philosophers left writings behind them, while others wrote nothing at all, as was the case according to some authorities with Socrates, Stilpo, Philippus, Menedemus, Pyrrho, Theodorus, Carneades, Bryson; some add Pythagoras and Aristo of Chios, except that they wrote a few letters. Others wrote no more than one treatise each, as Melissus, Parmenides, Anaxagoras. Many works were written by Zeno, more by Xenophanes, more by Democritus, more by Aristotle, more by Epicurus, and still more by Chrysippus. Some schools took their name from cities, as the Elians and the Megarians, the Eretrians and the Cyrenaics; others from localities, as the Academics and the Stoics; others from incidental circumstances, as the Peripatetics; others again from derisive nicknames, as the Cynics; others from their temperaments, as the Eudaemonists or Happiness School; others from a conceit they entertained, as Truth-lovers, Refutationists, and Reasoners from Analogy; others again from their teachers, as Socratics, Epicureans, and the like; some take the name of Physicists from their investigation of nature, others that of Moralists because they discuss morals; while those who are occupied with verbal jugglery are styled Dialecticians.

Philosophy has three parts, physics, ethics, and dialectic or logic. Physics is the part concerned with the universe and all that it contains; ethics that concerned with life and all that has to do with us; while the processes of reasoning employed by both form the processes of dialectic. Physics flourished down to the time of Archelaus; ethics, as we have said, started with Socrates; while dialectic goes as far back as Zeno of Elea. In ethics there have been ten schools: the Academic, the Cyrenaic, the Elian, the Megarian, the Cynic, the Eretrian, the Dialectic, the Peripatetic, the Stoic, and the Epicurean.

The founders of these schools were: of the Old Academy, Plato; of the Middle Academy, Arcesilaus; of the New Academy, Lacydes; of the Cyrenaic, Aristippus of Cyrene; of the Elian, Phaedo of Elis; of the Megarian, Euclides of Megara; of the Cynic, Antisthenes of Athens; of the Eretrian, Menedemus of Eretria; of the Dialectical school, Clitomachus of Carthage; of the Peripatetic, Aristotle of Stagira; of the Stoic, Zeno of Citium; while the Epicurean school took its name from Epicurus himself.

Hippobotus in his work On Philosophical Sects declares that there are nine sects or schools, and gives them in this order: (1) Megarian, (2) Eretrian, (3) Cyrenaic, (4) Epicurean, (5) Annicerean,12 (6) Theodorean, (7) Zenonian or Stoie, (8) Old Academic, (9) Peripatetic. He passes over the Cynic, Elian, and Dialectical schools; for as to the Pyrrhonians, so indefinite are their conclusions that hardly any authorities allow them to be a sect; some allow their claim in certain respects, but not in others. It would seem, however, that they are a sect, for we use the term of those who in their attitude to appearance follow or seem to follow some principle; and on this ground we should be justified in calling the Sceptics a sect. But if we are to understand by “sect” a bias in favour of coherent positive doctrines, they could no longer be called a sect,13 for they have no positive doctrines. So much for the beginnings of philosophy, its subsequent developments, its various parts, and the number of the philosophic sects.

One word more: not long ago an Eclectic school was introduced by Potamo of Alexandria,14 who made a selection from the tenets of all the existing sects. As he himself states in his Elements of Philosophy, he takes as criteria of truth (1) that by which the judgement is formed, namely, the ruling principle of the soul; (2) the instrument used, for instance the most accurate perception. His universal principles are matter and the efficient cause, quality, and place; for that out of which and that by which a thing is made, as well as the quality with which and the place in which it is made, are principles. The end to which he refers all actions is life made perfect in all virtue, natural advantages of body and environment being indispensable to its attainment.

It remains to speak of the philosophers themselves, and in the first place of Thales.

1 The alteration of the numeral from 23 to 13 is supported by what little we know of Sotion’s work. It was from a similar source that Clement of Alexandria must have taken what we find in Strom. i. 71 concerning Chaldaeans, Druids, Magians, Gymnosophists, and other barbarian philosophers.

2 Anth. Pal. vii. 615.

3 Anth. Pal. vii. 616.

4 Anth. Pal. ii. 99.

5 Compare Pliny, N. H. xx. 11. 242: Zoroaster lived in the wilderness on cheese (cf. Yasht, xxii. 18 “Spring butter is the ambrosia of the blessed”). For fuller comments on 7-9 see J. H. Moulton’s Early Zoroastrianism, pp. 410-418.

6 This popular etymology, though wide-spread, is erroneous, the true form of the prophet’s name being Zarathustra, almost certainly derived from zarath =“old” (a Zend stem, parallel to γέροντ-) and ustra =“camel.” Cf. J. H. Moulton, op. cit. p. 426, and, for star-lore in the Avesta, ib. p. 210.

7 In this clause the word ἐπικλήσεσι is usually taken as equivalent to ὀνόμασι (names). The meaning then would be: “What exists now will exist hereafter under its own present name.” Diels would alter ἐπικλήσεσι to περικυκλήσεσι, thus obtaining something very like the Heraclitean union of opposites: “the things which are will continue to be through all their revolutions.” But ἐπίκλησις like ἐτικαλεῖσθαι can be used of prayer, and there is some evidence that Avestan religion fully recognized the efficacy of prayers and spells. The testimony of Theopompus, who wrote in the fourth century, to the Zoroastrian doctrine of immortality is regarded by J. H. Moulton as specially important: cf. Early Zoroastrianism, pp. 177 sq. and 416.

8 This is confirmed by Clement, Strom. i. 61, who also repeats (Strom. i. 24) the statement that σοφιστής=σοφός.

9 Compare Clem. Alex. Strom. i. 59. His authority includes another candidate for admission to the Seven, Acusilaus of Argos, but makes no mention of Pisistratus.

10 See iv. 59-61, where Lacydes is made the founder of the New Academy, although other authorities, e.g. Sext. Emp. Pyrrh. Hyp. i. 220. say the Third or New Academy began with Carneades. But the claim of Lacydes is supported by Ind. Acad. pp. 76. 37 sq. Mekler, and the article s.v. in Suidas, which comes from Hesychius.

11 This succession (Pythagoras, Telauges, Xenophanes, Parmenides) does not exactly agree with what is said in the lives of Xenophanes and Parmenides, ix. 18, 21, where Parmenides, not Xenophanes, is made a pupil of the Pythagoreans. The arrangement followed in i. 12-15 treats the Italian school as a true succession, whereas in Book IX. many of them are regarded as sporadic thinkers, according to the view expressed in viii. 91.

12 The separation of the followers of Anniceris from the Cyrenaic school was made by the author whom Clement of Alexandria followed in ii. 130. This author may have been Antiochus of Ascalon. Strabo x. 837 s.f. supports the same view: Ἀννίκερις ὁ δοκῶν ἐπανορθῶσαι τὴν Κυρηναϊκὴν αἵρεσιν, καὶ παραγαγεῖν ἀντ’ αὐτῆς τὴν Ἀννικερείαν.

13 Cf. the distinction drawn by Sextus Empiricus in Pyrrh. Hyp. i. 16, 17. If by rules for conduct dogmas are implied, then the Pyrrhonians are not a sect, i.e. a dogmatic school.

14 Certainly not the same as the person mentioned by Porphyry in his Life of Plotinus, 9, 11, for Polemo, not Potamo, is the correct form of the name in that place. Potamo is said by Suidas (s.v. Ηοτάμων Ἀλ.) to have lived shortly before and contemporary with Augustus, whence it follows that Diogenes has taken without alteration a statement by an earlier writer who might truthfully say “not long ago” of the reign of Augustus. Suidas, whose article αἵρεσις agrees closely with our text, naturally omits πρὸ ὀλίγου.


Herodotus, Duris, and Democritus are agreed that Thales was the son of Examyas and Cleobulina, and belonged to the Thelidae15 who are Phoenicians, and among the noblest of the descendants of Cadmus and Agenor. As Plato testifies, he was one of the Seven Sages. He was the first to receive the name of Sage, in the archonship of Damasias16 at Athens, when the term was applied to all the Seven Sages, as Demetrius of Phalerum mentions in his List of Archons. He was admitted to citizenship at Miletus when he came to that town along with Nileos, who had been expelled from Phoenicia. Most writers, however, represent him as a genuine Milesian and of a distinguished family.

After engaging in politics he became a student of nature. According to some he left nothing in writing; for the Nautical Astronomy 17 attributed to him is said to be by Phocus of Samos. Callimachus knows him as the discoverer of the Ursa Minor; for he says in his Iambics:

Who first of men the course made plain

Of those small stars we call the Wain,

Whereby Phoenicians sail the main.18

But according to others he wrote nothing but two treatises, one On the Solstice and one On the Equinox, regarding all other matters as incognizable. He seems by some accounts to have been the first to study astronomy,19 the first to predict eclipses of the sun and to fix the solstices; so Eudemus in his History of Astronomy. It was this which gained for him the admiration of Xenophanes and Herodotus and the notice of Heraclitus and Democritus.

And some, including Choerilus the poet, declare that he was the first to maintain the immortality of the soul. He was the first to determine the sun’s course from solstice to solstice, and according to some the first to declare the size of the sun to be one seven hundred and twentieth part of the solar circle, and the size of the moon to be the same fraction of the lunar circle. He was the first to give the last day of the month the name of Thirtieth, and the first, some say, to discuss physical problems.

Aristotle20 and Hippias affirm that, arguing from the magnet and from amber, he attributed a soul or life even to inanimate objects. Pamphila states that, having learnt geometry from the Egyptians, he was the first to inscribe a right-angled triangle in a circle, whereupon he sacrificed an ox. Others tell this tale of Pythagoras, amongst them Apollodorus the arithmetician. (It was Pythagoras who developed to their furthest extent the discoveries attributed by Callimachus in his Iambics to Euphorbus the Phrygian, I mean “scalene triangles” and whatever else has to do with theoretical geometry.)21

Thales is also credited with having given excellent advice on political matters. For instance, when Croesus sent to Miletus offering terms of alliance, he frustrated the plan; and this proved the salvation of the city when Cyrus obtained the victory. Heraclides makes Thales himself22 say that he had always lived in solitude as a private individual and kept aloof from State affairs. Some authorities say that he married and had a son Cybisthus; others that he remained unmarried and adopted his sister’s son, and that when he was asked why he had no children of his own he replied “because he loved children.” The story is told that, when his mother tried to foroe him to marry, he replied it was too soon, and when she pressed him again later in life, he replied that it was too late. Hieronymus of Rhodes in the second book of his Scattered Notes relates that, in order to show how easy it is to grow rich, Thales, foreseeing that it would be a good season for olives, rented all the oil-mills and thus amassed a fortune.23

His doctrine was that water is the universal primary substance, and that the world is animate and full of divinities. He is said to have discovered the seasons of the year and divided it into 365 days.

He had no instructor, except that he went to Egypt and spent some time with the priests there. Hieronymus informs us that he measured the height of the pyramids by the shadow they cast, taking the observation at the hour when our shadow is of the same length as ourselves. He lived, as Minyas relates, with Thrasybulus, the tyrant of Miletus.

The well-known story of the tripod found by the fishermen and sent by the people of Miletus to all the Wise Men in succession runs as follows. Certain Ionian youths having purchased of the Milesian fishermen their catch of fish, a dispute arose over the tripod which had formed part of the catch. Finally the Milesians referred the question to Delphi, and the god gave an oracle in this form:24

Who shall possess the tripod? Thus replies

Apollo: “Whosoever is most wise.”25

Accordingly they give it to Thales, and he to another, and so on till it comes to Solon, who, with the remark that the god was the most wise, sent it off to Delphi. Callimachus in his Iambics has a different version of the story, which he took from Maeandrius of Miletus.26 It is that Bathycles, an Arcadian, left at his death a bowl with the solemn injunction that it “should be given to him who had done most good by his wisdom.” So it was given to Thales, went the round of all the sages, and came back to Thales again. And he sent it to Apollo at Didyma, with this dedication, according to Callimachus:

Lord of the folk of Neleus’ line,

Thales, of Greeks adjudged most wise,

Brings to thy Didymaean shrine

His offering, a twice-won prize.

But the prose inscription is:

Thales the Milesian, son of Examyas [dedicates this] to Delphinian Apollo after twice winning the prize from all the Greeks.

The bowl was carried from place to place by the son of Bathycles, whose name was Thyrion, so it is stated by Eleusis in his work On Achilles, and Alexo the Myndian in the ninth book of his Legends.

But Eudoxus of Cnidos and Euanthes of Miletus agree that a certain man who was a friend of Croesus received from the king a golden goblet in order to bestow it upon the wisest of the Greeks; this man gave it to Thales, and from him it passed to others and so to Chilon.

Chilon laid the question “Who is a wiser man than I?” before the Pythian Apollo, and the god replied “Myson.” Of him we shall have more to say presently. (In the list of the Seven Sages given by Eudoxus, Myson takes the place of Cleobulus; Plato also includes him by omitting Periander.) The answer of the oracle respecting him was as follows27:

Myson of Chen in Oeta; this is he

Who for wiseheartedness surpasseth thee;

and it was given in reply to a question put by Anacharsis. Daimachus the Platonist and Clearchus allege that a bowl was sent by Croesus to Pittacus and began the round of the Wise Men from him.

The story told by Andron28 in his work on The Tripod is that the Argives offered a tripod as a prize of virtue to the wisest of the Greeks; Aristodemus of Sparta was adjudged the winner but retired in favour of Chilon. Aristodemus is mentioned by Alcaeus thus:29

Surely no witless word was this of the Spartan, I deem,

“Wealth is the worth of a man; and poverty void of esteem.”

Some relate that a vessel with its freight was sent by Periander to Thrasybulus, tyrant of Miletus, and that, when it was wrecked in Coan waters, the tripod was afterwards found by certain fishermen. However, Phanodicus declares it to have been found in Athenian waters and thence brought to Athens. An assembly was held and it was sent to Bias; for what reason shall be explained in the life of Bias.

There is yet another version, that it was the work of Hephaestus presented by the god to Pelops on his marriage. Thence it passed to Menelaus and was carried off by Paris along with Helen and was thrown by her into the Coan sea, for she said it would be a cause of strife. In process of time certain people of Lebedus, having purchased a catch of fish thereabouts, obtained possession of the tripod, and, quarrelling with the fishermen about it, put in to Cos, and, when they could not settle the dispute, reported the fact to Miletus, their mother-city. The Milesians, when their embassies were disregarded, made war upon Cos; many fell on both sides, and an oracle pronounced that the tripod should be given to the wisest; both parties to the dispute agreed upon Thales. After it had gone the round of the sages, Thales dedicated it to Apollo of Didyma. The oracle which the Coans received was on this wise:

Hephaestus cast the tripod in the sea;

Until it quit the city there will be

No end to strife, until it reach the seer

Whose wisdom makes past, present, future clear.

That of the Milesians beginning “Who shall possess the tripod?” has been quoted above. So much for this version of the story.

Hermippus in his Lives refers to Thales the story which is told by some of Socrates, namely, that he used to say there were three blessings for which he was grateful to Fortune: “first, that I was born a human being and not one of the brutes; next, that I was born a man and not a woman; thirdly, a Greek and not a barbarian.” It is said that once, when he was taken out of doors by an old woman in order that he might observe the stars, he fell into a ditch, and his cry for help drew from the old woman the retort, “How can you expect to know all about the heavens, Thales, when you cannot even see what is just before your feet?” Timon too knows him as an astronomer, and praises him in the Silli where he says:30

Thales among the Seven the sage astronomer.

His writings are said by Lobon of Argos to have run to some two hundred lines. His statue is said to bear this inscription:31

Pride of Miletus and Ionian lands,

Wisest astronomer, here Thales stands.

Of songs still sung these verses belong to him:

Many words do not declare an understanding heart.

Seek one sole wisdom.

Choose one sole good.

For thou wilt check the tongues of chatterers prating without end.

Here too are certain current apophthegms assigned to him:

He held there was no difference between life and death. “Why then,” said one, “do you not die?” “Because,” said he, “there is no difference.” To the question which is older, day or night, he replied: “Night is the older by one day.” Some one asked him whether a man could hide an evil deed from the gods: “No,” he replied, “nor yet an evil thought.” To the adulterer who inquired if he should deny the charge upon oath he replied that perjury was no worse than adultery. Being asked what is difficult, he replied, “To know oneself.” “What is easy?” “To give advice to another.” “What is most pleasant?” “Success.” “What is the divine?” “That which has neither beginning nor end.” To the question what was the strangest thing he had ever seen, his answer was, “An aged tyrant.” “How can one best bear adversity?” “If he should see his enemies in worse plight.” “How shall we lead the best and most righteous life?” “By refraining from doing what we blame in others.” “What man is happy?” “He who has a healthy body, a resourceful mind and a docile nature.” He tells us to remember friends, whether present or absent; not to pride ourselves upon outward appearance, but to study to be beautiful in character. “Shun ill-gotten gains,” he says. “Let not idle words prejudice thee against those who have shared thy confidence.” “Whatever provision thou hast made for thy parents, the same must thou expect from thy children.” He explained the overflow of the Nile as due to the etesian winds which, blowing in the contrary direction, drove the waters upstream.

Apollodorus in his Chronology places his birth in the first year of the 35th Olympiad.32 He died at the age of 78 (or, according to Sosicrates, of 90 years); for he died in the 58th Olympiad, being contemporary with Croesus, whom he undertook to take across the Halys without building a bridge, by diverting the river.

There have lived five other men who bore the name of Thales, as enumerated by Demetrius of Magnesia in his Dictionary of Men of the Same Name:

  1. A rhetorician of Callatia, with an affected style.
  2. A painter of Sicyon, of great gifts.
  3. A contemporary of Hesiod, Homer and Lycurgus, in very early times.
  4. A person mentioned by Duris in his work On Painting.
  5. An obscure person in more recent times who is mentioned by Dionysius in his Critical Writings.

Thales the Sage died as he was watching an athletic contest from heat, thirst, and the weakness incident to advanced age. And the inscription on his tomb is33:

Here in a narrow tomb great Thales lies;

Yet his renown for wisdom reached the skies.

I may also cite one of my own, from my first book, Epigrams in Various Metres 34:

As Thales watched the games one festal day

The fierce sun smote him, and he passed away;

Zeus, thou didst well to raise him; his dim eyes

Could not from earth behold the starry skies.35

To him belongs the proverb “Know thyself,” which Antisthenes in his Successions of Philosophers attributes to Phemonoë, though admitting that it was appropriated by Chilon.

This seems the proper place for a general notice of the Seven Sages, of whom we have such accounts as the following. Damon of Cyrene in his History of the Philosophers carps at all sages, but especially the Seven. Anaximenes remarks that they all applied themselves to poetry; Dicaearchus that they were neither sages nor philosophers, but merely shrewd men with a turn for legislation.36 Archetimus of Syracuse describes their meeting at the court of Cypselus, on which occasion he himself happened to be present; for which Ephorus substitutes a meeting without Thales at the court of Croesus. Some make them meet at the Pan-Ionian festival, at Corinth, and at Delphi. Their utterances are variously reported, and are attributed now to one now to the other, for instance the following:37

Chilon of Lacedaemon’s words are true:

Nothing too much; good comes from measure due.

Nor is there any agreement how the number is made up; for Maeandrius, in place of Cleobulus and Myson, includes Leophantus, son of Gorgiadas, of Lebedus or Ephesus, and Epimenides the Cretan in the list; Plato in his Protagoras admits Myson and leaves out Periander; Ephorus substitutes Anacharsis for Myson; others add Pythagoras to the Seven. Dicaearchus hands down four names fully recognized: Thales, Bias, Pittacus and Solon; and appends the names of six others, from whom he selects three: Aristodemus, Pamphylus, Chilon the Lacedaemonian, Cleobulus, Anacharsis, Periander. Others add Acusilaus, son of Cabas or Scabras, of Argos. Hermippus in his work On the Sages reckons seventeen, from which number different people make different selections of seven. They are: Solon, Thales, Pittacus, Bias, Chilon, Myson, Cleobulus, Periander, Anacharsis, Acusilaus, Epimenides, Leophantus, Pherecydes, Aristodemus, Pythagoras, Lasos, son of Charmantides or Sisymbrinus, or, according to Aristoxenus, of Chabrinus, born at Hermione, Anaxagoras. Hippobotus in his List of Philosophers enumerates: Orpheus, Linus, Solon, Periander, Anacharsis, Cleobulus, Myson, Thales, Bias, Pittacus, Epicharmus, Pythagoras.

Here follow the extant letters of Thales.

Thales to Pherecydes

“I hear that you intend to be the first Ionian to expound theology to the Greeks. And perhaps it was a wise decision to make the book common property without taking advice, instead of entrusting it to any particular persons whatsoever, a course which has no advantages. However, if it would give you any pleasure, I am quite willing to discuss the subject of your book with you; and if you bid me come to Syros I will do so. For surely Solon of Athens and I would scarcely be sane if, after having sailed to Crete to pursue our inquiries there, and to Egypt to confer with the priests and astronomers, we hesitated to come to you. For Solon too will come, with your permission. You, however, are so fond of home that you seldom visit Ionia and have no longing to see strangers, but, as I hope, apply yourself to one thing, namely writing, while we, who never write anything, travel all over Hellas and Asia.”

Thales to Solon

“If you leave Athens, it seems to me that you could most conveniently set up your abode at Miletus, which is an Athenian colony; for there you incur no risk. If you are vexed at the thought that we are governed by a tyrant, hating as you do all absolute rulers, you would at least enjoy the society of your friends. Bias wrote inviting you to Priene; and if you prefer the town of Priene for a residence, I myself will come and live with you.”

15 Nelidac, if Bywater’s emendation is correct.

16 582 B.C.

17 Cf. Simplicius, In Phys. i. 23, 29-33 d.

18 Greek mariners steered by the Great Bear, the Phoenicians by the Little Bear, as Ovid states, Tristia, iv. 3. 1, 2.

19 See Sir T. L. Heath, Aristarchus of Samos, pp. 12-23.

20 De anima, A 2, 405 a 19.

21 i.e. a theory concerned with lines, γραμμαί, which of course include curves as well as straight lines.

22 Namely, in a dialogue. Cf. viii. 4.

23 Because, having created a monopoly, he could charge what he pleased. See Aristotle’s version of the story, Pol. i. 11, 1259 a 6-18.

24 Anth. Plan. vi. 51.

25 Or in prose: “Offspring of Miletus, do you ask Phoebus concerning the tripod? Whoso in wisdom is of all the first, to him the tripod I adjudge.”

26 Although disguised as Leandrius, the writer meant is Maeandrius, who is known (Inscr. Gr. no. 2905) to have written a local history of Miletus. Such histories, eg. of Sicyon, Megara, Samos, Naxos, Argolis, Epirus, Thessaly, abounded in the Alexandrian age.

27 Anth. Plan. vi. 40.

28 Andron of Ephesus (§119) is known to have written in the life-time (or at least before the death) of Theopompus, who is accused of having plagiarized from The Tripod: Eusebius, Praep. Ev. x. 3, 7.

29 Fr. 49 Bergk; cf. Schol. Pindar, Isthm. ii. 17.29

30 Fr. 23 Diels.

31 Anth. Pal. vii. 83.

32 640 B.C.

33 Anth. Pal. vii. 84.

34 Anth. Pal. vii. 85.

35 In plain prose: “As the wise Thales was one day watching the contest of the racers, thou, O Sun-god, O Zeus, didst snatch him from the stadium. I praise thee for removing him to be near thee; for verily the old man could no more discern the stars from earth.”

36 The opinion of Dicaearchus thus expressed is correct. With the exception of Thales, no one whose life is contained in Book I. has any claim to be styled a philosopher. The tradition of the Seven Wise Men and of their meeting at some court, whether of a native tyrant like Periander or of a foreign prince like Croesus, was used by Plato (Protag. 343 A) and, largely through his influence, grew into a romantic legend, the result being late biographies, collections of apophthegms, and letters attributed to various authors, e.g. the apophthegms of Demetrius of Phalerum. Diogenes Laertius swallows all this as true; modern criticism rejects it all as forgery.

37 Anth. Plan. iv. 22.


Solon, the son of Execestides, was born at Salamis. His first achievement was the σεισάχθεια or Law of Release, which he introduced at Athens; its effect was to ransom persons and property. For men used to borrow money on personal security, and many were forced from poverty to become serfs or daylabourers. He then first renounced his claim to a debt of seven talents due to his father, and encouraged others to follow his example. This law of his was called σεισάχθεια, and the reason is obvious.

He next went on to frame the rest of his laws, which would take time to enumerate, and inscribed them on the revolving pillars.

His greatest service was this: Megara and Athens laid rival claims to his birthplace Salamis, and after many defeats the Athenians passed a decree punishing with death any man who should propose a renewal of the Salaminian war. Solon, feigning madness, rushed into the Agora with a garland on his head; there he had his poem on Salamis read to the Athenians by the herald and roused them to fury. They renewed the war with the Megarians and, thanks to Solon, were victorious. These were the lines which did more than anything else to inflame the Athenians:38

Would I were citizen of some mean isle

Far in the Sporades! For men shall smile

And mock me for Athenian: “Who is this?”

“An Attic slave who gave up Salamis”;


Then let us fight for Salamis and fair fame,

Win the beloved isle, and purge our shame!

He also persuaded the Athenians to acquire the Thracian Chersonese. And lest it should be thought that he had acquired Salamis by force only and not of right, he opened certain graves and showed that the dead were buried with their faces to the east, as was the custom of burial among the Athenians; further, that the tombs themselves faced the east,40 and that the inscriptions graven upon them named the deceased by their demes, which is a style peculiar to Athens. Some authors assert that in Homer’s catalogue of the ships after the line:41

Ajax twelve ships from Salamis commands,

Solon inserted one of his own:

And fixed their station next the Athenian bands.

Thereafter the people looked up to him, and would gladly have had him rule them as tyrant; he refused, and, early perceiving the designs of his kinsman Pisistratus (so we are told by Sosicrates), did his best to hinder them. He rushed into the Assembly armed with spear and shield, warned them of the designs of Pisistratus, and not only so, but declared his willingness to render assistance, in these words: “Men of Athens, I am wiser than some of you and more courageous than others: wiser than those who fail to understand the plot of Pisistratus, more courageous than those who, though they see through it, keep silence through fear.” And the members of the council, who were of Pisistratus’ party, declared that he was mad: which made him say the lines:42

A little while, and the event will show

To all the world if I be mad or no.

That he foresaw the tyranny of Pisistratus is proved by a passage from a poem of his:43

On splendid lightning thunder follows straight,

Clouds the soft snow and flashing hail-stones bring;

So from proud men comes ruin, and their state

Falls unaware to slavery and a king.

When Pisistratus was already established, Solon, unable to move the people, piled his arms in front of the generals’ quarters, and exclaimed, “My country, I have served thee with my word and sword!” Thereupon he sailed to Egypt and to Cyprus, and thence proceeded to the court of Croesus. There Croesus put the question, “Whom do you consider happy?” and Solon replied, “Tellus of Athens, and Cleobis and Biton,” and went on in words too familiar to be quoted here.

There is a story that Croesus in magnificent array sat himself down on his throne and asked Solon if he had ever seen anything more beautiful. “Yes,” was the reply, “cocks and pheasants and peacocks; for they shine in nature’s colours, which are ten thousand times more beautiful.” After leaving that place he lived in Cilicia and founded a city which he called Soli after his own name. In it he settled some few Athenians, who in process of time corrupted the purity of Attic and were said to “solecize.” Note that the people of this town are called Solenses, the people of Soli in Cyprus Solii. When he learnt that Pisistratus was by this time tyrant, he wrote to the Athenians on this wise:44

If ye have suffered sadly through your own wickedness, lay not the blame for this upon the gods. For it is you yourselves who gave pledges to your foes and made them great; this is why you bear the brand of slavery. Every one of you treadeth in the footsteps of the fox, yet in the mass ye have little sense. Ye look to the speech and fair words of a flatterer, paying no regard to any practical result.

Thus Solon. After he had gone into exile Pisistratus wrote to him as follows:

Pisistratus to Solon

“I am not the only man who has aimed at a tyranny in Greece, nor am I, a descendant of Codrus, unfitted for the part. That is, I resume the privileges which the Athenians swore to confer upon Codrus and his family, although later they took them away. In everything else I commit no offence against God or man; but I leave to the Athenians the management of their affairs according to the ordinances established by you. And they are better governed than they would be under a democracy; for I allow no one to extend his rights, and though I am tyrant I arrogate to myself no undue share of reputation and honour, but merely such stated privileges as belonged to the kings in former times. Every citizen pays a tithe of his property, not to me but to a fund for defraying the cost of the public sacrifices or any other charges on the State or the expenditure on any war which may come upon us.

“I do not blame you for disclosing my designs; you acted from loyalty to the city, not through any enmity to me, and further, in ignorance of the sort of rule which I was going to establish; since, if you had known, you would perhaps have tolerated me and not gone into exile. Wherefore return home, trusting my word, though it be not sworn, that Solon will suffer no harm from Pisistratus. For neither has any other enemy of mine suffered; of that you may be sure. And if you choose to become one of my friends, you will rank with the foremost, for I see no trace of treachery in you, nothing to excite mistrust; or if you wish to live at Athens on other terms, you have my permission. But do not on my account sever yourself from your country.

So far Pisistratus. To return to Solon: one of his sayings is that 70 years are the term of man’s life.

He seems to have enacted some admirable laws; for instance, if any man neglects to provide for his parents, he shall be disfranchised; moreover there is a similar penalty for the spendthrift who runs through his patrimony. Again, not to have a settled occupation is made a crime for which any one may, if he pleases, impeach the offender. Lysias, however, in his speech against Nicias ascribes this law to Draco, and to Solon another depriving open profligates of the right to speak in the Assembly. He curtailed the honours of athletes who took part in the games, fixing the allowance for an Olympic victor at 500 drachmae, for an Isthmian victor at 100 drachmae, and proportionately in all other cases. It was in bad taste, he urged, to increase the rewards of these victors, and to ignore the exclusive claims of those who had fallen in battle, whose sons ought, moreover, to be maintained and educated by the State.

The effect of this was that many strove to acquit themselves as gallant soldiers in battle, like Polyzelus, Cynegirus, Callimachus and all who fought at Marathon; or again like Harmodius and Aristogiton, and Miltiades and thousands more. Athletes, on the other hand, incur heavy costs while in training, do harm when successful, and are crowned for a victory over their country rather than over their rivals, and when they grow old they, in the words of Euripides,45

Are worn threadbare, cloaks that have lost the nap;

and Solon, perceiving this, treated them with scant respect.46 Excellent, too, is his provision that the guardian of an orphan should not marry the mother of his ward, and that the next heir who would succeed on the death of the orphans should be disqualified from acting as their guardian. Furthermore, that no engraver of seals should be allowed to retain an impression of the ring which he has sold, and that the penalty for depriving a one-eyed man of his single eye should be the loss of the offender’s two eyes. A deposit shall not be removed except by the depositor himself, on pain of death. That the magistrate found intoxicated should be punished with death.

He has provided that the public recitations of Homer shall follow in fixed order:47 thus the second reciter must begin from the place where the first left off. Hence, as Dieuchidas says in the fifth book of his Megarian History, Solon did more than Pisistratus to throw light on Homer. The passage in Homer more particularly referred to is that beginning “Those who dwelt at Athens. ..”48

Solon was the first to call the 30th day of the month the Old-and-New day, and to institute meetings of the nine archons for private conference, as stated by Apollodorus in the second book of his work On Legislators. When civil strife began, he did not take sides with those in the city, nor with the plain, nor yet with-the coast section.

One of his sayings is: Speech is the mirror of action; and another that the strongest and most capable is king. He compared laws to spiders’ webs, which stand firm when any light and yielding object falls upon them, while a larger thing breaks through them and makes off. Secrecy he called the seal of speech, and occasion the seal of secrecy. He used to say that those who had influence with tyrants were like the pebbles employed in calculations; for, as each of the pebbles represented now a large and now a small number, so the tyrants would treat each one of those about them at one time as great and famous, at another as of no account. On being asked why he had not framed any law against parricide, he replied that he hoped it was unnecessary. Asked how crime could most effectually be diminished, he replied, “If it caused as much resentment in those who are not its victims as in those who are,” adding, “Wealth breeds satiety, satiety outrage.” He required the Athenians to adopt a lunar month. He prohibited Thespis from performing tragedies on the ground that fiction was pernicious. When therefore Pisistratus appeared with self-inflicted wounds, Solon said, “This comes from acting tragedies.” His counsel to men in general is stated by Apollodorus in his work on the Philosophic Sects as follows: Put more trust in nobility of character than in an oath. Never tell a lie. Pursue worthy aims. Do not be rash to make friends and, when once they are made, do not drop them. Learn to obey before you command. In giving advice seek to help, not to please, your friend. Be led by reason. Shun evil company. Honour the gods, reverence parents. He is also said to have criticized the couplet of Mimnermus:

Would that by no disease, no cares opprest,

I in my sixtieth year were laid to rest;

and to have replied thus:49

Oh take a friend’s suggestion, blot the line,

Grudge not if my invention better thine;

Surely a wiser wish were thus expressed,

At eighty years let me be laid to rest.

Of the songs sung this is attributed to Solon:50

Watch every man and see whether, hiding hatred in his heart, he speaks with friendly countenance, and his tongue rings with double speech from a dark soul.

He is undoubtedly the author of the laws which bear his name; of speeches, and of poems in elegiac metre, namely, counsels addressed to himself, on Salamis and on the Athenian constitution, five thousand lines in all, not to mention poems in iambic metre and epodes.

His statue has the following inscription:51

At Salamis, which crushed the Persian might,

Solon the legislator first saw light.

He flourished, according to Sosicrates, about the 46th Olympiad, in the third year of which he was archon at Athens;52 it was then that he enacted his laws. He died in Cyprus at the age of eighty. His last injunctions to his relations were on this wise: that they should convey his bones to Salamis and, when they had been reduced to ashes, scatter them over the soil. Hence Cratinus in his play, The Chirons, makes him say:53

This is my island home; my dust, men say,

Is scattered far and wide o’er Ajax’ land.

An epigram of my own is also contained in the collection of Epigrams in Various Metres mentioned above, where I have discoursed of all the illustrious dead in all metres and rhythms, in epigrams and lyrics. Here it is:54

Far Cyprian fire his body burnt; his bones,

Turned into dust, made grain at Salamis:

Wheel-like, his pillars bore his soul on high;

So light the burden of his laws on men.

It is said that he was the author of the apophthegm “Nothing too much,” Ne quid nimis. According to Dioscurides in his Memorabilia, when he was weeping for the loss of his son, of whom nothing more is known, and some one said to him, “It is all of no avail,” he replied, “That is why I weep, because it is of no avail.”

The following letters are attributed to Solon:

Solon to Periander

“You tell me that many are plotting against you. You must lose no time if you want to get rid of them all. A conspirator against you might arise from a quite unexpected quarter, say, one who had fears for his personal safety or one who disliked your timorous dread of anything and everything. He would earn the gratitude of the city who found out that you had no suspicion. The best course would be to resign power, and so be quit of the reproach. But if you must at all hazards remain tyrant, endeavour to make your mercenary force stronger than the forces of the city. Then you have no one to fear, and need not banish any one.”

Solon to Epimenides

“It seems that after all I was not to confer much benefit on Athenians by my laws, any more than you by purifying the city. For religion and legislation are not sufficient in themselves to benefit cities; it can only be done by those who lead the multitude in any direction they choose. And so, if things are going well, religion and legislation are beneficial; if not, they are of no avail.

“Nor are my laws nor all my enactments any better; but the popular leaders did the commonwealth harm by permitting licence, and could not hinder Pisistratus from setting up a tyranny. And, when I warned them, they would not believe me. He found more credit when he flattered the people than I when I told them the truth. I laid my arms down before the generals’ quarters and told the people that I was wiser than those who did not see that Pisistratus was aiming at tyranny, and more courageous than those who shrank from resisting him. They, however, denounced Solon as mad. And at last I protested: “My country, I, Solon, am ready to defend thee by word and deed; but some of my countrymen think me mad. Wherefore I will go forth out of their midst as the sole opponent of Pisistratus; and let them, if they like, become his bodyguard.” For you must know, my friend, that he was beyond measure ambitious to be tyrant. “ He began by being a popular leader; his next step was to inflict wounds on himself and appear before the court of the Heliaea, crying out that these wounds had been inflicted by his enemies; and he requested them to give him a guard of 400 young men. And the people without listening to me granted him the men, who were armed with clubs. And after that he destroyed the democracy. It was in vain that I sought to free the poor amongst the Athenians from their condition of serfdom, if now they are all the slaves of one master, Pisistratus.”

Solon to Pisistratus

“I am sure that I shall suffer no harm at your hands; for before you became tyrant I was your friend, and now I have no quarrel with you beyond that of every Athenian who disapproves of tyranny. Whether it is better for them to be ruled by one man or to live under a democracy, each of us must decide for himself upon his own judgement. You are, I admit, of all tyrants the best; but I see that it is not well for me to return to Athens. I gave the Athenians equality of civil rights; I refused to become tyrant when I had the opportunity; how then could I escape censure if I were now to return and set my approval on all that you are doing?”

Solon to Croesus

“I admire you for your kindness to me; and, by Athena, if I had not been anxious before all things to live in a democracy, I would rather have fixed my abode in your palace than at Athens, where Pisistratus is setting up a rule of violence. But in truth to live in a place where all have equal rights is more to my liking. However, I will come and see you, for I am eager to make your acquaintance.”

38 Fr. 2 Bergk.

39 Ib. 3.

40 If these words are pressed, they contradict the precise statement in Plutarch’s Life of Solon (c. 10) that the Athenians buried their dead to face the setting sun; cf. Aelian, Var. Hist. v. 14. The Mycenaean graves with two exceptions showed the dead with their heads to the east and their feet to the west. Sir W. Ridgeway (Early Age of Greece, c. 7) assumes that Plutarch and Aelian are right and Diogenes either misktaken or inaccurate in his mode of expression. A view has been put forward that there was no uniform orientation in early times (see H. J. Rose, Classical Review, xxxiv. p. 141 sq.).

41 Il. ii. 557.

42 Fr. 10 Bergk.

43 Fr. 9 Bergk.

44 Fr. 11 Bergk.

45 Autolycus, Fr. 1, 1. 12 Nauck, T.G.F.2, Eur. 282.

46 This censure of athletes recurs Diod. Sic. ix. 2. 3 f. It was probably a commonplace κεφάλαιον in some earlier life of Solon.

47 Or “in succession,” though this is rather ἐξ ὑποδοχῆς. In Plato, Hipparchus 228 B, the same thing is expressed by ἐξ ὑπολήψεως ἐφεξῆς.

48 Iliad, ii. 546.

49 Fr. 20 Bergk.

50 Fr. 42 Bergk.

51 Anth. Pal. vii. 86.

52 594 B.C.

53 Fr. 5 Meineke, C.G.F. ii. 149.

54 Anth. Pal. vii. 87.


Chilon, son of Damagetas, was a Lacedaemonian. He wrote a poem in elegiac metre some 200 lines in length; and he declared that the excellence of a man is to divine the future so far as it can be grasped by reason. When his brother grumbled that he was not made ephor as Chilon was, the latter replied, “I know how to submit to injustice and you do not.” He was made ephor in the 55th Olympiad; Pamphila, however, says the 56th. He first became ephor, according to Sosicrates, in the archonship of Euthydemus. He first proposed the appointment of ephors as auxiliaries to the kings, though Satyrus says this was done by Lycurgus.55

As Herodotus relates in his first book, when Hippocrates was sacrificing at Olympia and his cauldrons boiled of their own accord, it was Chilon who advised him not to marry, or, if he had a wife, to divorce her and disown his children. The tale is also told that he inquired of Aesop what Zeus was doing and received the answer: “He is humbling the proud and exalting the humble.” Being asked wherein lies the difference between the educated and the uneducated, Chilon answered, “In good hope.” What is hard? “To keep a secret, to employ leisure well, to be able to bear an injury.” These again are some of his precepts: To control the tongue, especially at a banquet. Not to abuse our neighbours, for if you do, things will be said about you which you will regret. Do not use threats to any one; for that is womanish. Be more ready to visit friends in adversity than in prosperity. Do not make an extravagant marriage. De mortuis nil nisi bonum. Honour old age. Consult your own safety. Prefer a loss to a dishonest gain: the one brings pain at the moment, the other for all time. Do not laugh at another’s misfortune. When strong, be merciful, if you would have the respect, not the fear, of your neighbours. Learn to be a wise master in your own house. Let not your tongue outrun your thought. Control anger. Do not hate divination. Do not aim at impossibilities. Let no one see you in a hurry. Gesticulation in speaking should be avoided as a mark of insanity. Obey the laws. Be restful.

Of his songs the most popular is the following: “By the whetstone gold is tried, giving manifest proof; and by gold is the mind of good and evil men brought to the test.” He is reported to have said in his old age that he was not aware of having ever broken the law throughout his life; but on one point he was not quite clear. In a suit in which a friend of his was concerned he himself pronounced sentence according to the law, but he persuaded his colleague who was his friend to acquit the accused, in order at once to maintain the law and yet not to lose his friend.

He became very famous in Greece by his warning about the island of Cythera off the Laconian coast. For, becoming acquainted with the nature of the island, he exclaimed: “Would it had never been placed there, or else had been sunk in the depths of the sea.” And this was a wise warning; for Demaratus, when an exile from Sparta, advised Xerxes to anchor his fleet off the island; and if Xerxes had taken the advice Greece would have been conquered. Later, in the Peloponnesian war, Nicias reduced the island and placed an Athenian garrison there, and did the Lacedaemonians much mischief.

He was a man of few words; hence Aristagoras of Miletus calls this style of speaking Chilonean..  . . is of Branchus, founder of the temple at Branchidae. Chilon was an old man about the 52nd Olympiad, when Aesop the fabulist was flourishing. According to Hermippus, his death took place at Pisa, just after he had congratulated his son on an Olympic victory in boxing. It was due to excess of joy coupled with the weakness of a man stricken in years. And all present joined in the funeral procession.

I have written an epitaph on him also, which runs as follows:56

I praise thee, Pollux, for that Chilon’s son

By boxing feats the olive chaplet won.

Nor at the father’s fate should we repine;

He died of joy; may such a death be mine.

The inscription on his statue runs thus:57

Here Chilon stands, of Sparta’s warrior race,

Who of the Sages Seven holds highest place.

His apophthegm is: “Give a pledge, and suffer for it.” A short letter is also ascribed to him.

Chilon to Periander

“You tell me of an expedition against foreign enemies, in which you yourself will take the field. In my opinion affairs at home are not too safe for an absolute ruler; and I deem the tyrant happy who dies a natural death in his own house.”

55 There seems to be some confusion in these extracts. Possibly Diogenes Laertius found among his materials some such note as this: Χίλων τῶν ἑπτὰ σοφῶν πρῶτος ἔφορος, and connected it with the date as given by Sosicrates, namely, the archonship of Euthydemus, meticulously correcting this date from Pamphila. But he seems to have mislaken the meaning of πρῶτος ἔφορος and to have rashly inferred from it that it was Chilon who introduced the ephorate.

56 Anth. Pal. vii. 88.

57 ‘Anth. Pal. ix. 596.


Pittacus was the son of Hyrrhadius and a native of Mitylene. Duris calls his father a Thracian. Aided by the brothers of Alcaeus he overthrew Melanchrus, tyrant of Lesbos; and in the war between Mitylene and Athens for the territory of Achileis he himself had the chief command on the one side, and Phrynon, who had won an Olympic victory in the pancratium, commanded the Athenians. Pittacus agreed to meet him in single combat; with a net which he concealed beneath his shield he entangled Phrynon, killed him, and recovered the territory. Subsequently, as Apollodorus states in his Chronology, Athens and Mitylene referred their claims to arbitration. Periander heard the appeal and gave judgement in favour of Athens.

At the time, however, the people of Mitylene honoured Pittacus extravagantly and entrusted him with the government. He ruled for ten years and brought the constitution into order, and then laid down his office. He lived another ten years after his abdication and received from the people of Mitylene a grant of land, which he dedicated as sacred domain; and it bears his name to this day Sosicrates relates that he cut off a small portion for himself and pronounced the half to be more than the whole. Furthermore, he declined an offer of money made him by Croesus, saying that he had twice as much as he wanted; for his brother had died without issue and he had inherited his estate.

Pamphila in the second book of her Memorabilia narrates that, as his son Tyrraeus sat in a barber’s shop in Cyme, a smith killed him with a blow from an axe. When the people of Cyme sent the murderer to Pittacus, he, on learning the story, set him at liberty and declared that “It is better to pardon now than to repent later.” Heraclitus, however, says that it was Alcaeus whom he set at liberty when he had got him in his power, and that what he said was: “Mercy is better than vengeance.”

Among the laws which he made is one providing that for any offence committed in a state of intoxication the penalty should be doubled; his object was to discourage drunkenness, wine being abundant in the island. One of his sayings is, “It is hard to be good,” which is cited by Simonides in this form: “Pittacus’s maxim, ‘Truly to become a virtuous man is hard."’ Plato also cites him in the Protagoras:58 “Even the gods do not fight against necessity.” Again, “Office shows the man.” Once, when asked what is the best thing, he replied, “To do well the work in hand.” And, when Croesus inquired what is the best rule, he answered, “The rule of the shifting wood,” by which he meant the law. He also urged men to win bloodless victories. When the Phocaean said that we must search for a good man, Pittacus rejoined, “If you seek too carefully, you will never find him.” He answered various inquiries thus: “What is agreeable?” “Time.” “Obscure?” “The future.” “Trustworthy?” “The earth.” “Untrustworthy?” “The sea.” “It is the part of prudent men,” he said, “before difficulties arise, to provide against their arising; and of courageous men to deal with them when they have arisen.” Do not announce your plans beforehand; for, if they fail, you will be laughed at. Never reproach any one with a misfortune, for fear of Nemesis. Duly restore what has been entrusted to you. Speak no ill of a friend, nor even of an enemy. Practise piety. Love temperance. Cherish truth, fidelity, skill, cleverness, sociability, carefulness.

Of his songs the most popular is this:

With bow and well-stored quiver

We must march against our foe,

Words of his tongue can no man trust,

For in his heart there is a deceitful thought.

He also wrote poems in elegiac metre, some 600 lines, and a prose work On Laws for the use of the citizens.

He was flourishing about the 42nd Olympiad. He died in the archonship of Aristomenes, in the third year of the 52nd Olympiad,59 having lived more than seventy years, to a good old age. The inscription on his monument runs thus:60

Here holy Lesbos, with a mother’s woe,

Bewails her Pittacus whom death laid low.

To him belongs the apophthegm, “Know thine opportunity.”

There was another Pittacus, a legislator, as is stated by Favorinus in the first book of his Memorabilia, and by Demetrius in his work on Men of the Same Name. He was called the Less.

To return to the Sage: the story goes that a young man took counsel with him about marriage, and received this answer, as given by Callimachus in his Epigrams:61

A stranger of Atarneus thus inquired of Pittacus, the son of Hyrrhadius:

Old sire, two offers of marriage are made to me; the one bride is in wealth and birth my equal;

The other is my superior. Which is the better? Come now and advise me which of the two I shall wed.

So spake he. But Pittacus, raising his staff, an old man’s weapon, said, “See there, yonder boys will tell you the whole tale.”

The boys were whipping their tops to make them go fast and spinning them in a wide open space.

“Follow in their track,” said he. So he approached near, and the boys were saying, “Keep to your own sphere.”

When he heard this, the stranger desisted from aiming at the lordlier match, assenting to the warning of the boys.

And, even as he led home the humble bride, so do you, Dion, keep to your own sphere.

The advice seems to have been prompted by his situation. For he had married a wife superior in birth to himself: she was the sister of Draco, the son of Penthilus, and she treated him with great haughtiness.

Alcaeus nicknamed him σαράπους and σάραπος because he had flat feet and dragged them in walking; also “Chilblains,” because he had chapped feet, for which their word was χειράς; and Braggadocio, because he was always swaggering; Paunch and Potbelly, because he was stout; a Diner-in-the-Dark, because he dispensed with a lamp; and the Sloven, because he was untidy and dirty. The exercise he took was grinding corn, as related by Clearchus the philosopher.

The following short letter is ascribed to him:

Pittacus to Croesus

“You bid me come to Lydia in order to see your prosperity: but without seeing it I can well believe that the son of Alyattes is the most opulent of kings. There will be no advantage to me in a journey to Sardis, for I am not in want of money, and my possessions are sufficient for my friends as well as myself. Nevertheless, I will come, to be entertained by you and to make your acquaintance.”

58 345d.

59 570 B.C.

60 Anth. Plan. ii. 3.

61 Anth. Pal. vii. 89.


Bias, the son of Teutames, was born at Priene, and by Satyrus is placed at the head of the Seven Sages. Some make him of a wealthy family, but Duris says he was a labourer living in the house. Phanodicus relates that he ransomed certain Messenian maidens captured in war and brought them up as his daughters, gave them dowries, and restored them to their fathers in Messenia. In course of time, as has been already related, the bronze tripod with the inscription “To him that is wise” having been found at Athens by the fishermen, the maidens according to Satyrus, or their father according to other accounts, including that of Phanodicus, came forward into the assembly and, after the recital of their own adventures, pronounced Bias to be wise. And thereupon the tripod was dispatched to him; but Bias, on seeing it, declared that Apollo was wise, and refused to take the tripod. But others say that he dedicated it to Heracles in Thebes, since he was a descendant of the Thebans who had founded a colony at Priene; and this is the version of Phanodieus.

A story is told that, while Alyattes was besieging Priene, Bias fattened two mules and drove them into the camp, and that the king, when he saw them, was amazed at the good condition of the citizens actually extending to their beasts of burden. And he decided to make terms and sent a messenger. But Bias piled up heaps of sand with a layer of corn on the top, and showed them to the man, and finally, on being informed of this, Alyattes made a treaty of peace with the people of Priene. Soon afterwards, when Alyattes sent to invite Bias to his court, he replied, “Tell Alyattes, from me, to make his diet of onions,” that is, to weep. It is also stated that he was a very effective pleader; but he was accustomed to use his powers of speech to a good end. Hence it is to this that Demodicus of Leros makes reference in the line:

If you happen to be prosecuting a suit, plead as they do at Priene;

and Hipponax thus: “More powerful in pleading causes than Bias of Priene.”62

This was the manner of his death. He had been pleading in defence of some client in spite of his great age. When he had finished speaking, he reclined his head on his grandson’s bosom. The opposing counsel made a speech, the judges voted and gave their verdict in favour of the client of Bias, who, when the court rose, was found dead in his grandson’s arms. The city gave him a magnificent funeral and inscribed on his tomb:63

Here Bias of Priene lies, whose name

Brought to his home and all Ionia fame.

My own epitaph is:64

Here Bias rests. A quiet death laid low

The aged head which years had strewn with snow.

His pleading done, his friend preserved from harms,

A long sleep took him in his grandson’s arms.

He wrote a poem of 2000 lines on Ionia and the manner of rendering it prosperous. Of his songs the most popular is the following:

Find favour with all the citizens.  . . . .  . in whatever state you dwell.

For this earns most gratitude; the headstrong spirit often flashes forth with harmful bane.

The growth of strength in man is nature’s work; but to set forth in speech the interests of one’s country is the gift of soul and reason. Even chance brings abundance of wealth to many. He also said that he who could not bear misfortune was truly unfortunate; that it is a disease of the soul to be enamoured of things impossible of attainment; and that we ought not to dwell upon the woes of others. Being asked what is difficult, he replied, “Nobly to endure a change for the worse.” He was once on a voyage with some impious men; and, when a storm was encountered, even they began to call upon the gods for help. “Peace!” said he, “lest they hear and become aware that you are here in the ship.” When an impious man asked him to define piety, he was silent; and when the other inquired the reason, “I am silent,” he replied, “because you are asking questions about what does not concern you.”

Being asked “What is sweet to men,” he answered, “Hope.” He said he would rather decide a dispute between two of his enemies than between two of his friends; for in the latter case he would be certain to make one of his friends his enemy, but in the former case he would make one of his enemies his friend. Asked what occupation gives a man most pleasure, he replied, “Making money.” He advised men to measure life as if they had both a short and a long time to live; to love their friends as if they would some day hate them, the majority of mankind being bad. Further, he gave this advice: Be slow to set about an enterprise, but persevere in it steadfastly when once it is undertaken. Do not be hasty of speech, for that is a sign of madness. Cherish wisdom. Admit the existence of the gods. If a man is unworthy, do not praise him because of his wealth. Gain your point by persuasion, not by force. Ascribe your good actions to the gods. Make wisdom your provision for the journey from youth to old age; for it is a more certain support than all other possessions.

Bias is mentioned by Hipponax as stated above, and Heraclitus, who is hard to please, bestows upon him especial praise in these words:65 “In Priene lived Bias, son of Teutames, a man of more consideration than any.” And the people of Priene dedicated a precinct to him, which is called the Teutameum. His apophthegm is: Most men are bad.

62 P. 79 Bergk; Strabo xiv. p. 636.

63 Anth. Pal. vii. 90.

64 Anth. Pal. vii. 91.

65 P. 39 d, 112 b.


Cleobulus, the son of Euagoras, was born at Lindus, but according to Duris he was a Carian. Some say that he traced his descent back to Heracles, that he was distinguished for strength and beauty, and was acquainted with Egyptian philosophy. He had a daughter Cleobuline, who composed riddles in hexameters; she is mentioned by Cratinus, who gives one of his plays her name, in the plural form Cleobulinae. He is also said to have rebuilt the temple of Athena which was founded by Danaus.

He was the author of songs and riddles, making some 3000 lines in all.

The inscription on the tomb of Midas is said by some to be his:66

I am a maiden of bronze and I rest upon Midas’s tomb. So long as water shall flow and tall trees grow, and the sun shall rise and shine, and the bright moon, and rivers shall run and the sea wash the shore, here abiding on his tearsprinkled tomb I shall tell the passers-by – Midas is buried here.

The evidence they adduce is a poem of Simonides in which he says:67

Who, if he trusts his wits, will praise Cleobulus the dweller at Lindus for opposing the strength of a column to everflowing rivers, the flowers of spring, the flame of the sun, and the golden moon and the eddies of the sea? But all things fall short of the might of the gods; even mortal hands break marble in pieces; this is a fool’s devising.

The inscription cannot be by Homer, because he lived, they say, long before Midas.

The following riddle of Cleobulus is preserved in Pamphila’s collection:68

One sire there is, he has twelve sons, and each of these has twice thirty daughters different in feature; some of the daughters are white, the others again are black; they are immortal, and yet they all die.

And the answer is, “The year.”

Of his songs the most popular are: It is want of taste that reigns most widely among mortals and multitude of words; but due season will serve. Set your mind on something good. Do not become thoughtless or rude. He said that we ought to give our daughters to their husbands maidens in years but women in wisdom; thus signifying that girls need to be educated as well as boys. Further, that we should render a service to a friend to bind him closer to us, and to an enemy in order to make a friend of him. For we have to guard against the censure of friends and the intrigues of enemies. When anyone leaves his house, let him first inquire what he means to do; and on his return let him ask himself what he has effected. Moreover, he advised men to practise bodily exercise; to be listeners rather than talkers; to choose instruction rather than ignorance; to refrain from ill-omened words; to be friendly to virtue, hostile to vice; to shun injustice; to counsel the state for the best; not to be overcome by pleasure; to do nothing by violence; to educate their children; to put an end to enmity. Avoid being affectionate to your wife, or quarrelling with her, in the presence of strangers; for the one savours of folly, the other of madness. Never correct a servant over your wine, for you will be thought to be the worse for wine. Mate with one of your own rank; for if you take a wife who is superior to you, her kinsfolk will become your masters. When men are being bantered, do not laugh at their expense, or you will incur their hatred. Do not be arrogant in prosperity; if you fall into poverty, do not humble yourself. Know how to bear the changes of fortune with nobility.69

He died at the ripe age of seventy; and the inscription over him is:70

Here the wise Rhodian, Cleobulus, sleeps,

And o’er his ashes sea-proud Lindus weeps.

His apophthegm was: Moderation is best. And he wrote to Solon the following letter:

Cleobulus to Solon

“You have many friends and a home wherever you go; but the most suitable for Solon will, say I, be Lindus, which is governed by a democracy. The island lies on the high seas, and one who lives here has nothing to fear from Pisistratus. And friends from all parts will come to visit you.”

66 Anth. Pal. vii. 153.

67 Fr. 57 Bergk.

68 Anth. Pal. xiv. 101; Stob. Ecl. Phys. i. 99. 15 W.

69 These moral precepts are similar to those of Stobaeus in the Florilegium, e.g. i. 172.

70 Anth. Pal. vii. 618.


Periander, the son of Cypselus, was born at Corinth, of the family of the Heraclidae. His wife was Lysida, whom he called Melissa. Her father was Procles, tyrant of Epidaurus, her mother Eristheneia, daughter of Aristocrates and sister of Aristodemus, who together reigned over nearly the whole of Arcadia, as stated by Heraclides of Pontus in his book On Government. By her he had two sons, Cypselus and Lycophron, the younger a man of intelligence, the elder weak in mind. However, after some time, in a fit of anger, he killed his wife by throwing a footstool at her, or by a kick, when she was pregnant, having been egged on by the slanderous tales of concubines, whom he afterwards burnt alive.

When the son whose name was Lycophron grieved for his mother, he banished him to Corcyra. And when well advanced in years he sent for his son to be his successor in the tyranny; but the Corcyraeans put him to death before he could set sail. Enraged at this, he dispatched the sons of the Corcyraeans to Alyattes that he might make eunuchs of them; but, when the ship touched at Samos, they took sanctuary in the temple of Hera, and were saved by the Samians.

Periander lost heart and died at the age of eighty. Sosicrates’ account is that he died fortyone years before Croesus, just before the 49th Olympiad.71 Herodotus in his first book says that he was a guest-friend of Thrasybulus, tyrant of Miletus.

Aristippus in the first book of his work On the Luxury of the Ancients 72 accuses him of incest with his own mother Crateia, and adds that, when the fact came to light, he vented his annoyance in indiscriminate severity. Ephorus records his now that, if he won the victory at Olympia in the chariot-race, he would set up a golden statue. When the victory was won, being in sore straits for gold, he despoiled the women of all the ornaments which he had seen them wearing at some local festival. He was thus enabled to send the votive offering.

There is a story that he did not wish the place where he was buried to be known, and to that end contrived the following device. He ordered two young men to go out at night by a certain road which he pointed out to them; they were to kill the man they met and bury him. He afterwards ordered four more to go in pursuit of the two, kill them and bury them; again, he dispatched a larger number in pursuit of the four. Having taken these measures, he himself encountered the first pair and was slain. The Corinthians placed the following inscription upon a cenotaph:73

In mother earth here Periander lies,

The prince of sea-girt Corinth rich and wise.

My own epitaph on him is:74

Grieve not because thou hast not gained thine end,

But take with gladness all the gods may send;

Be warned by Periander’s fate, who died

Of grief that one desire should be denied.

To him belongs the maxim: Never do anything for money; leave gain to trades pursued for gain. He wrote a didactic poem of 2000 lines. He said that those tyrants who intend to be safe should make loyalty their bodyguard, not arms. When some one asked him why he was tyrant, he replied, “Because it is as dangerous to retire voluntarily as to be dispossessed.” Here are other sayings of his: Rest is beautiful. Rashness has its perils. Gain is ignoble. Democracy is better than tyranny. Pleasures are transient, honours are immortal. Be moderate in prosperity, prudent in adversity. Be the same to your friends whether they are in prosperity or in adversity. Whatever agreement you make, stick to it. Betray no secret. Correct not only the offenders but also those who are on the point of offending.

He was the first who had a bodyguard and who changed his government into a tyranny, and he would let no one live in the town without his permission, as we know from Ephorus and Aristotle.

He flourished about the 38th Olympiad and was tyrant for forty years.

Sotion and Heraclides and Pamphila in the fifth book of her Commentaries distinguish two Perianders, one a tyrant, the other a sage who was born in Ambracia. Neanthes of Cyzicus also says this, and adds that they were near relations. And Aristotle75 maintains that the Corinthian Periander was the sage; while Plato denies this.

His apophthegm is: Practice makes perfect. He planned a canal across the Isthmus.

A letter of his is extant:

Periander to the Wise Men

“Very grateful am I to the Pythian Apollo that I found you gathered together; and my letters will also bring you to Corinth, where, as you know, I will give you a thoroughly popular reception. I learn that last year you met in Sardis at the Lydian court. Do not hesitate therefore to come to me, the ruler of Corinth. The Corinthians will be pleased to see you coming to the house of Periander.”

Periander to Procles

“The murder of my wife was unintentional; but yours is deliberate guilt when you set my son’s heart against me. Either therefore put an end to my son’s harsh treatment, or I will revenge myself on you. For long ago I made expiation to you for your daughter by burning on her pyre the apparel of all the women of Corinth.”

There is also a letter written to him by Thrasybulus, as follows:

Thrasybulus to Periander

“I made no answer to your herald; but I took him into a cornfield, and with a staff smote and cut off the over-grown ears of corn, while he accompanied me. And if you ask him what he heard and what he saw, he will give his message. And this is what you must do if you want to strengthen your absolute rule: put to death those among the citizens who are pre-eminent, whether they are hostile to you or not. For to an absolute ruler even a friend is an object of suspicion.”

71 584-580 B.C.

72 An unsavoury work by a scandal-monger who, to judge from the fragment of bk. iv., bore a grudge against philosophers, especially Academics: cf. Wilamowitz, Antigonos von Karystos, pp. 48 ff.

73 Anth. Pal. vii. 619.

74 Anth. Pal. vii. 620.

75 Periander is mentioned in the Politics of Aristotle (v. 4, 1304 a 32), but not as one of the Seven Wise Men. In Plato’s Protagoras, 343 A, where the Seven Wise Men are enumerated, Periander’s name is omitted, his place being taken by Myson. It would almost seem as if Diogenes Laertius knew of some passage in Aristotle in which Periander was called one of the Seven, though no such passage is extant.


Anacharsis the Scythian was the son of Gnurus and brother of Caduidas, king of Scythia. His mother was a Greek, and for that reason he spoke both languages. He wrote on the institutions of the Greeks and the Scythians, dealing with simplicity of life and military matters, a poem of 800 lines. So outspoken was he that he furnished occasion for a proverb, “To talk like a Scythian.”

Sosicrates makes him come to Athens about the 47th Olympiad76 in the archonship of Eucrates. Hermippus relates that on his arrival at the house of Solon he told one of the servants to announce that Anacharsis had come and was desirous of seeing him and, if possible, of becoming his guest. The servant delivered his message and was ordered by Solon to tell him that men as a rule choose their guests from among their own countrymen. Then Anacharsis took him up and said that he was now in his own country and had a right to be entertained as a guest. And Solon, struck with his ready wit, admitted him into his house and made him his greatest friend.

After a while Anacharsis returned to Scythia, where, owing to his enthusiasm for everything Greek, he was supposed to be subverting the national institutions, and was killed by his brother while they were out hunting together. When struck by the arrow he exclaimed, “My reputation carried me safe through Greece, but the envy it excited at home has been my ruin.” In some accounts it is said that he was slain while performing Greek rites.

Here is my own epitaph upon him:77

Back from his travels Anacharsis came,

To hellenize the Scythians all aglow;

Ere half his sermon could their minds inflame,

A wingèd arrow laid the preacher low.

It was a saying of his that the vine bore three kinds of grapes: the first of pleasure, the next of intoxication, and the third of disgust. He said he wondered why in Greece experts contend in the games and non-experts award the prizes. Being asked how one could avoid becoming a toper, he answered, “By keeping before your eyes the disgraceful exhibition made by the drunkard.” Again, he expressed surprise that the Greek lawgivers should impose penalties on wanton outrage, while they honour athletes for bruising one another. After ascertaining that the ship’s side was four fingers’ breadth in thickness, he remarked that the passengers were just so far from death.

Oil he called a drug which produced madness, because the athletes when they anoint themselves with it are maddened against each other. How is it, he asked, that the Greeks prohibit falsehood and yet obviously tell falsehoods in retail trade? Nor could he understand why at the beginning of their feasts they drink from small goblets and when they are “full” from large ones. The inscription on his statues is: “Bridle speech, gluttony, and sensuality.” Being asked if there were flutes in Scythia, he replied, “No, nor yet vines.” To the question what vessels were the safest his reply was, “Those which have been hauled ashore.” And he declared the strangest thing he had seen in Greece to be that they leave the smoke on the mountains and convey the fuel into the city.78 When some one inquired which were more in number, the living or the dead, he rejoined, “In which category, then, do you place those who are on the seas?” When some Athenian reproached him with being a Scythian, he replied, “Well, granted that my country is a disgrace to me, you are a disgrace to your country.” To the question, “What among men is both good and bad?” his answer was “The tongue.” He said it was better to have one friend of great worth than many friends worth nothing at all. He defined the market as a place set apart where men may deceive and overreach one another. When insulted by a boy over the wine he said, “If you cannot carry your liquor when you are young, boy, you will be a water carrier when you are old.”

According to some he was the inventor of the anchor and the potter’s wheel.

To him is attributed the following letter:

Anacharsis to Croesus

“I have come, O King of the Lydians, to the land of the Greeks to be instructed in their manners and pursuits. And I am not even in quest of gold, but am well content to return to Scythia a better man. At all events here I am in Sardis, being greatly desirous of making your acquaintance.”

76 591-588 B.C.

77 Anth. Pal. vii. 92.

78 i.e. in the form of charcoal. Cf. A. S. Ferguson in Class. Rev. vol. xxxi. p. 97.


Myson was the son of Strymon, according to Sosicrates, who quotes Hermippus as his authority, and a native of Chen, a village in the district of Oeta or Laconia; and he is reckoned one of the Seven Sages. They say that his father was a tyrant. We are told by some one that, when Anacharsis inquired if there were anyone wiser than himself, the Pythian priestess gave the response which has already been quoted in the Life of Thales as her reply to a question by Chilon:79

Myson of Chen in Oeta; this is he

Who for wiseheartedness surpasseth thee.

His curiosity aroused, Anacharsis went to the village in summer time and found him fitting a share to a plough and said, “Myson, this is not the season for the plough.” “It is just the time to repair it,” was the reply. Others cite the first line of the oracle differently, “Myson of Chen in Etis,” and inquire what “Myson of Etis” means. Parmenides indeed explains that Etis is a district in Laconia to which Myson belonged. Sosicrates in his Successions of Philosophers makes him belong to Etis on the father’s side and to Chen on the mother’s. Euthyphro, the son of Heraclides of Pontus, declares that he was a Cretan, Eteia being a town in Crete. Anaxilaus makes him an Arcadian.

Myson is mentioned by Hipponax, the words being:80

And Myson, whom Apollo’s self proclaimed

Wisest of all men.

Aristoxenus in his Historical Gleanings says he was not unlike Timon and Apemantus, for he was a misanthrope. At any rate he was seen in Lacedaemon laughing to himself in a lonely spot; and when some one suddenly appeared and asked him why he laughed when no one was near, he replied, “That is just the reason.” And Aristoxenus says that the reason why he remained obscure was that he belonged to no city but to a village and that an unimportant one. Hence because he was unknown, some writers, but not Plato the philosopher, attributed to Pisistratus the tyrant what properly belonged to Myson. For Plato mentions him in the Protagoras,81 reckoning him as one of the Seven instead of Periander.

He used to say we should not investigate facts by the light of arguments, but arguments by the light of facts; for the facts were not put together to fit the arguments, but the arguments to fit the facts.

He died at the age of ninety-seven.

79 Anth. Plan. vi. 40.

80 Fr. 45 Bergk.

81 343 a.


Epimenides, according to Theopompus and many other writers, was the son of Phaestius; some, however, make him the son of Dosiadas, others of Agesarchus. He was a native of Cnossos in Crete, though from wearing his hair long he did not look like a Cretan. One day he was sent into the country by his father to look for a stray sheep, and at noon he turned aside out of the way, and went to sleep in a cave, where he slept for fifty-seven years. After this he got up and went in search of the sheep, thinking he had been asleep only a short time. And when he could not find it, he came to the farm, and found everything changed and another owner in possession. Then he went back to the town in utter perplexity; and there, on entering his own house, he fell in with people who wanted to know who he was. At length he found his younger brother, now an old man, and learnt the truth from him. So he became famous throughout Greece, and was believed to be a special favourite of heaven.

Hence, when the Athenians were attacked by pestilence, and the Pythian priestess bade them purify the city, they sent a ship commanded by Nicias, son of Niceratus, to Crete to ask the help of Epimenides. And he came in the 46th Olympiad,82 purified their city, and stopped the pestilence in the following way. He took sheep, some black and others white, and brought them to the Areopagus; and there he let them go whither they pleased, instructing those who followed them to mark the spot where each sheep lay down and offer a sacrifice to the local divinity. And thus, it is said, the plague was stayed. Hence even to this day altars may be found in different parts of Attica with no name inscribed upon them, which are memorials of this atonement. According to some writers he declared the plague to have been caused by the pollution which Cylon brought on the city and showed them how to remove it. In consequence two young men, Cratinus and Ctesibius, were put to death and the city was delivered from the scourge.

The Athenians voted him a talent in money and a ship to convey him back to Crete. The money he declined, but he concluded a treaty of friendship and alliance between Cnossos and Athens.

So he returned home and soon afterwards died. According to Phlegon in his work On Longevity he lived one hundred and fifty-seven years; according to the Cretans two hundred and ninety-nine years. Xenophanes of Colophon gives his age as 154, according to hearsay.

He wrote a poem On the Birth of the Curetes and Corybantes and a Theogony,83 5000 lines in all; another on the building of the Argo and Jason’s voyage to Colchis in 6500 lines. He also compiled prose works On Sacrifices and the Cretan Constitution, also On Minos and Rhadamanthus, running to about 4000 lines. At Athens again he founded the temple of the Eumenides, as Lobon of Argos tells us in his work On Poets. He is stated to have been the first who purified houses and fields, and the first who founded temples. Some are found to maintain that he did not go to sleep but withdrew himself84 for a while, engaged in gathering simples.

There is extant a letter of his to Solon the lawgiver, containing a scheme of government which Minos drew up for the Cretans. But Demetrius of Magnesia, in his work on poets and writers of the same name, endeavours to discredit the letter on the ground that it is late and not written in the Cretan dialect but in Attic, and New Attic too. However, I have found another letter by him which runs as follows:

Epimenides to Solon

“Courage, my friend. For if Pisistratus had attacked the Athenians while they were still serfs and before they had good laws, he would have secured power in perpetuity by the enslavement of the citizens. But, as it is, he is reducing to subjection men who are no cowards, men who with pain and shame remember Solon’s warning and will never endure to be under a tyrant. But even should Pisistratus himself hold down the city, I do not expect that his power will be continued to his children; for it is hard to contrive that men brought up as free men under the best laws should be slaves. But, instead of going on your travels, come quietly to Crete to me; for here you will have no monarch to fear, whereas, if some of his friends should fall in with you while you are travelling about, I fear you may come to some harm.’

This is the tenor of the letter. But Demetrius reports a story that he received from the Nymphs food of a special sort and kept it in a cow’s hoof; that he took small doses of this food, which was entirely absorbed into his system, and he was never seen to eat. Timaeus mentions him in his second book. Some writers say that the Cretans sacrifice to him as a god; for they say that he had superhuman foresight. For instance, when he saw Munichia, at Athens, he said the Athenians did not know how many evils that place would bring upon them; for, if they did, they would destroy it even if they had to do so with their teeth. And this he said so long before the event. It is also stated that he was the first to call himself Aeacus; that he foretold to the Lacedaemonians their defeat by the Arcadians; and that he claimed that his soul had passed through many incarnations.

Theopompus relates in his Mirabilia that, as he was building a temple to the Nymphs, a voice came from heaven: “Epimenides, not a temple to the Nymphs but to Zeus,” and that he foretold to the Cretans the defeat of the Lacedaemonians by the Arcadians, as already stated; and in very truth they were crushed at Orchomenus.

And he became old in as many days as he had slept years; for this too is stated by Theopompus. Myronianus in his Parallels declares that the Cretans called him one of the Curetes. The Lacedaemonians guard his body in their own keeping in obedience to a certain oracle; this is stated by Sosibius the Laconian.

There have been two other men named Epimenides, namely, the genealogist and another who wrote in Doric Greek about Rhodes.

82 595-592 B.C.

83 These long poems may have been written by Lobon himself on the Hesiodic model; or Lobon may merely have affirmed their existence in his treatise On Poets.

84 This is the meaning of ἐκπατεῖν in three other passages, iv. 19, ix. 3, 63, in the last of which it is glossed by ἐρημάζειν, as if the sage were a recluse, a lover of solitude.


Pherecydes, the son of Babys, and a native of Syros according to Alexander in his Successions of Philosophers, was a pupil of Pittacus. Theopompus tells us that he was the first who wrote in Greek on nature and the gods.

Many wonderful stories are told about him. He was walking along the beach in Samos and saw a ship running before the wind; he exclaimed that in no long time she would go down, and, even as he watched her, down she went. And as he was drinking water which had been drawn up from a well he predicted that on the third day there would be an earthquake; which came to pass. And on his way from Olympia he advised Perilaus, his host in Messene, to move thence with all belonging to him; but Perilaus could not be persuaded, and Messene was afterwards taken.85

He bade the Lacedaemonians set no store by gold or silver, as Theopompus says in his Mirabilia. He told them he had received this command from Heracles in a dream; and the same night Heracles enjoined upon the kings to obey Pherecydes. But some fasten this story upon Pythagoras.

Hermippus relates that on the eve of war between Ephesus and Magnesia he favoured the cause of the Ephesians, and inquired of some one passing by where he came from, and on receiving the reply “From Ephesus,” he said, “Drag me by the legs and place me in the territory of Magnesia; and take a message to your countrymen that after their victory they must bury me there, and that this is the last injunction of Pherecydes.” The man gave the message; a day later the Ephesians attacked and defeated the Magnesians; they found Pherecydes dead and buried him on the spot with great honours. Another version is that he came to Delphi and hurled himself down from Mount Corycus. But Aristoxenus in his work On Pythagoras and his School affirms that he died a natural death and was buried by Pythagoras in Delos; another account again is that he died of a verminous disease, that Pythagoras was also present and inquired how he was, that he thrust his finger through the doorway and exclaimed, “My skin tells its own tale,” a phrase subsequently applied by the grammarians as equivalent to “getting worse,” although some wrongly understand it to mean “all is going well.” He maintained that the divine name for “table” is θυωρός, or that which takes care of offerings.

Andron of Ephesus says that there were two natives of Syros who bore the name of Pherecydes: the one was an astronomer, the other was the son of Babys and a theologian, teacher of Pythagoras. Eratosthenes, however, says that there was only one Pherecydes of Syros, the other Pherecydes being an Athenian and a genealogist.

There is preserved a work by Pherecydes of Syros, a work which begins thus: “Zeus and Time and Earth were from all eternity, and Earth was called Γῆ because Zeus gave her earth (γῆ) as guerdon (γέρας).” His sun-dial is also preserved in the island of Syros.

Duris in the second book of his Horae gives the inscription on his tomb as follows:86

All knowledge that a man may have had I;

Yet tell Pythagoras, were more thereby,

That first of all Greeks is he; I speak no lie.

Ion of Chios says of him:87

With manly worth endowed and modesty,

Though he be dead, his soul lives happily,

If wise Pythagoras indeed saw light

And read the destinies of men aright.

There is also an epigram of my own in the Pherecratean metre:88

The famous Pherecydes, to whom Syros gave birth, when his former beauty was consumed by vermin, gave orders that he should be taken straight to the Magnesian land in order that he might give victory to the noble Ephesians. There was an oracle, which he alone knew, enjoining this; and there he died among them. It seems then it is a true tale; if anyone is truly wise, he brings blessings both in his lifetime and when he is no more.

He lived in the 59th Olympiad. He wrote the following letter:

Pherecydes to Thales89

“May yours be a happy death when your time comes. Since I received your letter, I have been attacked by disease. I am infested with vermin and subject to a violent fever with shivering fits. I have therefore given instructions to my servants to carry my writing to you after they have buried me. I would like you to publish it, provided that you and the other sages approve of it, and not otherwise. For I myself am not yet satisfied with it. The facts are not absolutely correct, nor do I claim to have discovered the truth, but merely such things as one who inquires about the gods picks up. The rest must be thought out, for mine is all guess-work. As I was more and more weighed down with my malady, I did not permit any of the physicians or my friends to come into the room where I was, but, as they stood before the door and inquired how I was, I thrust my finger through the keyhole and showed them how plague-stricken I was; and I told them to come to-morrow to bury Pherecydes.”

So much for those who are called the Sages, with whom some writers also class Pisistratus the tyrant. I must now proceed to the philosophers and start with the philosophy of Ionia. Its founder was Thales, and Anaximander was his pupil.

85 These stories no doubt come from Theopompus, whose work on Marvels is cited in the next paragraph.

86 Anth. Pal. vii. 93.

87 Fr. 4 Bergk.

88 Anth. Plan. iii. 128.

89 This forgery is easily analysed. There is the tradition of the malady which proved fatal to Pherecydes (cf. Porphyry, Vit. Pyth. §55), with the anecdote of his protruding his finger through the door. There is also an allusion to the alleged obscurity of the work on the gods which passed current as written by him.

Book II

Anaximander. Anaximenes. Anaxagoras. Archelaus. Socrates. Xenophon. Aeschines. Aristippus. Phaedo. Euclides. Stilpo. Crito. Simon. Glaucon. Simmias. Cebes. Menedemus.


Anaximander,1 the son of Praxiades, was a native of Miletus. He laid down as his principle and element that which is unlimited without defining it as air or water or anything else. He held that the parts undergo change, but the whole is unchangeable; that the earth, which is of spherical shape, lies in the midst, occupying the place of a centre; that the moon, shining with borrowed light, derives its illumination from the sun; further, that the sun is as large as the earth and consists of the purest fire.2

He was the first inventor of the gnomon and set it up for a sundial in Lacedaemon,3 as is stated by Favorinus in his Miscellaneous History, in order to mark the solstices and the equinoxes; he also constructed clocks to tell the time. He was the first to draw on a map the outline of land and sea, and he constructed a globe as well.

His exposition of his doctrines took the form of a summary which no doubt came into the hands, among others, of Apollodorus of Athens. He says in his Chronology that in the second year of the 58th Olympiad4 Anaximander was sixty-four, and that he died not long afterwards. Thus he flourished almost at the same time as Polycrates the tyrant of Samos.5 There is a story that the boys laughed at his singing, and that, when he heard of it, he rejoined, “Then to please the boys I must improve my singing.”

There is another Anaximander, also of Miletus, a historian who wrote in the Ionic dialect.

1 With this Life Diels (Dox. Gr. p. 133) compares Hippolytus (Ref. Haer. i. 6), Plutarch (Strom. 2), Aëtius, i. 3. 3; iii. 11. 1; iii. 10. 2; ii. 11. 5; ii. 20. 1; ii. 24. 2; ii. 29. 1; ii. 21. 1; iii. 15. 6; v. 19. 4, which go back to Theophrastus, Phys. Opin. Fr. 2.

2 These astronomical discoveries belong properly to Anaxagoras.

3 But see Herodotus ii. 109, who makes the Babylonians the inventors.

4 547-546 B.C.

5 There is a chronological difficulty in this statement of Diogenes, for Polycrates of Samos died in 522. The difficulty, however, disappears if the statement be taken to refer not to Anaximander but to Pythagoras.


Anaximenes,6 the son of Eurystratus, a native of Miletus, was a pupil of Anaximander. According to some, he was also a pupil of Parmenides. He took for his first principle air or that which is unlimited. He held that the stars move round the earth but do not go under it. He writes simply and unaffectedly in the Ionic dialect.

According to Apollodorus he was contemporary with the taking of Sardis and died in the 63rd Olympiad.7

There have been two other men named Anaximenes, both of Lampsacus, the one a rhetorician who wrote on the achievements of Alexander, the other, the nephew of the rhetorician, who was a historian.

Anaximenes the philosopher wrote the following letters:

Anaximenes to Pythagoras

“Thales, the son of Examyas, has met an unkind fate in his old age. He went out from the court of his house at night, as was his custom, with his maidservant to view the stars, and, forgetting where he was, as he gazed, he got to the edge of a steep slope and fell over. In such wise have the Milesians lost their astronomer. Let us who were his pupils cherish his memory, and let it be cherished by our children and pupils; and let us not cease to entertain one another with his words. Let all our discourse begin with a reference to Thales.”

And again:

Anaximenes to Pythagoras

“You were better advised than the rest of us when you left Samos for Croton, where you live in peace. For the sons of Aeaces work incessant mischief, and Miletus is never without tyrants. The king of the Medes is another terror to us, not indeed so long as we are willing to pay tribute; but the Ionians are on the point of going to war with the Medes to secure their common freedom, and once we are at war we have no more hope of safety. How then can Anaximenes any longer think of studying the heavens when threatened with destruction or slavery? Meanwhile you find favour with the people of Croton and with the other Greeks in Italy; and pupils come to you even from Sicily.”

6 Diels (op. cit. p. 135) compares Hippolytus, Ref. Haer. i. 7. 1; Plutarch, Strom. 3; Aëtius, i. 3. 4; iii. 15. 8; ii. 13. 10; ii. 16. 6; iii. 4. 1; iii. 3. 1; iii. 5. 10; iii. 14. 3, ultimately from Theophrastus, Phys. Opin. Fr. 2.

7 528-525 B.C.


Anaxagoras,8 the son of Hegesibulus or Eubulus, was a native of Clazomenae. He was a pupil of Anaximenes, and was the first who set mind above matter, for at the beginning of his treatise, which is composed in attractive and dignified language, he says, “All things were together; then came Mind and set them in order.” This earned for Anaxagoras himself the nickname of Nous or Mind, and Timon in his Silli says of him:9

Then, I ween, there is Anaxagoras, a doughty champion, whom they call Mind, because forsooth his was the mind which suddenly woke up and fitted closely together all that had formerly been in a medley of confusion.

He was eminent for wealth and noble birth, and furthermore for magnanimity, in that he gave up his patrimony to his relations. For, when they accused him of neglecting it, he replied, “Why then do you not look after it?” And at last he went into retirement and engaged in physical investigation without troubling himself about public affairs. When some one inquired, “Have you no concern in your native land?” “Gently,” he replied, “I am greatly concerned with my fatherland,” and pointed to the sky.

He is said to have been twenty years old at the invasion of Xerxes and to have lived seventy-two years. Apollodorus in his Chronology says that he was born in the 70th Olympiad,10 and died in the first year of the 88th Olympiad.11 He began to study philosophy at Athens in the archonship of Callias12 when he was twenty; Demetrius of Phalerum states this in his list of archons; and at Athens they say he remained for thirty years.

He declared the sun to be a mass of red-hot metal and to be larger than the Peloponnesus, though others ascribe this view to Tantalus; he declared that there were dwellings on the moon, and moreover hills and ravines. He took as his principles the homoeomeries or homogeneous molecules; for just as gold consists of fine particles which are called gold-dust, so he held the whole universe to be compounded of minute bodies having parts homogeneous to themselves. His moving principle was Mind; of bodies, he said, some, like earth, were heavy, occupying the region below, others, light like fire, held the region above, while water and air were intermediate in position. For in this way over the earth, which is flat, the sea sinks down after the moisture has been evaporated by the sun. In the beginning the stars moved in the sky as in a revolving dome, so that the celestial pole which is always visible was vertically overhead; but subsequently the pole took its inclined position. He held the Milky Way to be a reflection of the light of stars which are not shone upon by the sun; comets to be a conjunction of planets which emit flames; shooting-stars to be a sort of sparks thrown off by the air. He held that winds arise when the air is rarefied by the sun’s heat; that thunder is a clashing together of the clouds, lightning their violent friction; an earthquake a subsidence of air into the earth.

Animals were produced from moisture, heat, and an earthy substance; later the species were propagated by generation from one another, males from the right side, females from the left.

There is a story that he predicted the fall of the meteoric stone at Aegospotami, which he said would fall from the sun.13 Hence Euripides, who was his pupil, in the Phathon calls the sun itself a “golden clod.”14 Furthermore, when he went to Olympia, he sat down wrapped in a sheep-skin cloak as if it were going to rain; and the rain came. When some one asked him if the hills at Lampsacus would ever become sea, he replied, “Yes, it only needs time.” Being asked to what end he had been born, he replied, “To study sun and moon and heavens.” To one who inquired, “You miss the society of the Athenians?” his reply was, “Not I, but they miss mine.” When he saw the tomb of Mausolus, he said, “A costly tomb is an image of an estate turned into stone.”15 To one who complained that he was dying in a foreign land, his answer was, “The descent to Hades is much the same from whatever place we start.”

Favorinus in his Miscellaneous History says Anaxagoras was the first to maintain that Homer in his poems treats of virtue and justice, and that this thesis was defended at greater length by his friend Metrodorus of Lampsacus, who was the first to busy himself with Homer’s physical doctrine. Anaxagoras was also the first to publish a book with diagrams.16 Silenus17 in the first book of his History gives the archonship of Demylus18 as the date when the meteoric stone fell, and says that Anaxagoras declared the whole firmament to be made of stones; that the rapidity of rotation caused it to cohere; and that if this were relaxed it would fall.19

Of the trial of Anaxagoras different accounts are given. Sotion in his Succession of the Philosophers says that he was indicted by Cleon on a charge of impiety, because he declared the sun to be a mass of red-hot metal; that his pupil Pericles defended him, and he was fined five talents and banished. Satyrus in his Lives says that the prosecutor was Thucydides, the opponent of Pericles, and the charge one of treasonable correspondence with Persia as well as of impiety; and that sentence of death was passed on Anaxagoras by default. When news was brought him that he was condemned and his sons were dead, his comment on the sentence was, “Long ago nature condemned both my judges and myself to death”; and on his sons, “I knew that my children were born to die.” Some, however, tell this story of Solon, and others of Xenophon. That he buried his sons with his own hands is asserted by Demetrius of Phalerum in his work On Old Age. Hermippus in his Lives says that he was confined in the prison pending his execution; that Pericles came forward and asked the people whether they had any fault to find with him in his own public career; to which they replied that they had not. “Well,” he continued, “I am a pupil of Anaxagoras; do not then be carried away by slanders and put him to death. Let me prevail upon you to release him.” So he was released; but he could not brook the indignity he had suffered and committed suicide. Hieronymus in the second book of his Scattered Notes states that Pericles brought him into court so weak and wasted from illness that he owed his acquittal not so much to the merits of his case as to the sympathy of the judges. So much then on the subject of his trial.

He was supposed to have borne Democritus a grudge because he had failed to get into communication with him.20 At length he retired to Lampsacus and there died. And when the magistrates of the city asked if there was anything he would like done for him, he replied that he would like them to grant an annual holiday to the boys in the month in which he died; and the custom is kept up to this day. So, when he died, the people of Lampsacus gave him honourable burial and placed over his grave the following inscription:21

Here Anaxagoras, who in his quest

Of truth scaled heaven itself, is laid to rest.

I also have written an epigram upon him:22

The sun’s a molten mass,

Quoth Anaxagoras;

This is his crime, his life must pay the price.

Pericles from that fate

Rescued his friend too late;

His spirit crushed, by his own hand he dies.

There have been three other men who bore the name of Anaxagoras [of whom no other writer gives a complete list]. The first was a rhetorician of the school of Isocrates; the second a sculptor, mentioned by Antigonus; the third a grammarian, pupil of Zenodotus.

8 Diels (Dox. Gr. p. 137) compares Hippolytus, Ref. Haer. i. 8. 1-11; Aëtius, i. 3. 5; iv. 1. 3; ii. 20. 6; ii. 21. 3; ii. 28. 5; ii. 29. 7; ii. 23. 2; ii. 25. 9; iii. 1. 5; iii. 2. 2; iii. 2. 9; iii. 3. 4; iii. 15. 14; v. 7. 4, and Theophrastus, Phys. Opin. Fr. 4. For Anaxagoras as astronomer see Sir T. L. Heath, Aristarchus of Samos, pp. 78-85.

9 Fr. 24 d.

10 500-497 B.C.

11 428 B.C.

12 i.e. 456 B.C.; but possibly the year 480 is meant, when Calliades was archon.

13 This version agrees with Pliny, Nat. Hist. ii. 149 ”celebrant Graeci Anaxagoram Clazomenium Olympiadis septuagesimae octavae secundo anno praedixisse caelestium litterarum scientia quibus diebus saxum casurum esset e sole. ”

14 Nauck, T.G.F. ², Eur. 783.

15 Anaxagoras, whose death falls in the fifth century, circa 428-425 B.C., could not possibly have seen the famous Mausoleum erected by Artemisia, the widow of Mausolus, not earlier than 350 B.C. Mausolus ruled over Caria, according to Diodorus, from 377 to 353. The apophthegm is therefore either wrongly attributed to Anaxagoras or, if genuine, must have been uttered on some other occasion.

16 From Plutarch’s Life of Nicias, c. 23, and Clement of Alexandria (Strom. i. 78, p. 364 P.), διὰ γραφῆς (for which Diels conjectures μετὰ διαγραφῆς᾿ ἐκδοῦναι βιβλίον ἱστοροῦσιν, the inference seems to be that Anaxagoras was credited with diagrams as well as text, διδασκαλία καὶ γραφή. Laertius, if the text is sound, is much too vague; and some translate “was the first to bring out a book written by himself.”

17 Silenus of Calatia, who served in the Hannibalic war, wrote a History quoted by Cicero, Livy and Pliny; also a work on Sicily, F.H.G. iii. 100.

18 We know no archon Demylus. Various dates are suggested by critics; the years of (1) Demotion, archon 470, (2) Lysistratus, 467, (3) Diphilus, 442 B.C. The letters - μυλου may not be part of the archon’s name but a distinct word, calling the meteor a “millstone,” i.e. in size.

19 This version of the story agrees with that of Plutarch in his Life of Lysander, § 12 λέγεται δὲ.. . τοῦ παντός.

20 In ix. 34, 35 the statement that Democritus was hostile to Anaxagoras and criticized his doctrines is ascribed to Favorinus, and, as the motive alleged is similar, Favorinus may also be the source of the statement of ii. 14.

21 Anth. Pal. vii. 94.

22 Anth. Pal. vii. 95.


Archelaus,23 the son of Apollodorus, or as some say of Midon, was a citizen of Athens or of Miletus; he was a pupil of Anaxagoras, who24 first brought natural philosophy from Ionia to Athens. Archelaus was the teacher of Socrates. He was called the physicist inasmuch as with him natural philosophy came to an end, as soon as Socrates had introduced ethics. It would seem that Archelaus himself also treated of ethics, for he has discussed laws and goodness and justice; Socrates took the subject from him and, having improved it to the utmost, was regarded as its inventor. Archelaus laid down that there were two causes of growth or becoming, heat and cold; that living things were produced from slime; and that what is just and what is base depends not upon nature but upon convention.

His theory is to this effect. Water is melted by heat and produces on the one hand earth in so far as by the action of fire it sinks and coheres, while on the other hand it generates air in so far as it overflows on all sides. Hence the earth is confined by the air, and the air by the circumambient fire. Living things, he holds, are generated from the earth when it is heated and throws off slime of the consistency of milk to serve as a sort of nourishment, and in this same way the earth produced man. He was the first who explained the production of sound as being the concussion of the air, and the formation of the sea in hollow places as due to its filtering through the earth. He declared the sun to be the largest of the heavenly bodies and the universe to be unlimited.

There have been three other men who bore the name of Archelaus: the topographer who described the countries traversed by Alexander; the author of a treatise on Natural Curiosities; and lastly a rhetorician who wrote a handbook on his art.

23 Diels (Dox. Gr. p. 139) compares Hippolytus, Ref. Haer. i. 9. 1-5; Aëtius, i. 3. 6; Theophrastus, Phys. Opin. Fr. 4.

24 οὗτος. This statement is not really applicable to Archelaus. Clement of Alexandria in Strom. i. 63 understood it of Anaxagoras: μεθ᾽ οὗ [Anaximenes] Ἀναξαγόρας Ἡγησιβούλου Κλαζομένιος. οὗτος μετήγαγεν ἀπὸ τῆς Ἰωνίας Ἁθήναζε τὴν διατριβήν.


Socrates was the son of Sophroniscus, a sculptor, and of Phaenarete, a midwife, as we read in the Theaetetus of Plato; he was a citizen of Athens and belonged to the deme Alopece. It was thought that he helped Euripides to make his plays; hence Mnesimachus25 writes:

This new play of Euripides is The Phrygians; and Socrates provides the wood for frying.26

And again he calls Euripides “an engine riveted by Socrates.” And Callias in The Captives:27

a. Pray why so solemn, why this lofty air?

b. I’ve every right; I’m helped by Socrates.

Aristophanes28 in The Clouds:

’Tis he composes for Euripides

Those clever plays, much sound and little sense.

According to some authors he was a pupil of Anaxagoras, and also of Damon, as Alexander states in his Successions of Philosophers. When Anaxagoras was condemned, he became a pupil of Archelaus the physicist; Aristoxenus asserts that Archelaus was very fond of him. Duris makes him out to have been a slave and to have been employed on stonework, and the draped figures of the Graces on the Acropolis have by some been attributed to him. Hence the passage in Timon’s Silli:29

From these diverged the sculptor, a prater about laws, the enchanter of Greece, inventor of subtle arguments, the sneerer who mocked at fine speeches, half-Attic in his mock humility.

He was formidable in public speaking, according to Idomeneus; moreover, as Xenophon tells us, the Thirty forbade him to teach the art of words. And Aristophanes attacks him in his plays for making the worse appear the better reason. For Favorinus in his Miscellaneous History says Socrates and his pupil Aeschines were the first to teach rhetoric; and this is confirmed by Idomeneus in his work on the Socratic circle.30 Again, he was the first who discoursed on the conduct of life, and the first philosopher who was tried and put to death. Aristoxenus, the son of Spintharus, says of him that he made money; he would at all events invest sums, collect the interest accruing, and then, when this was expended, put out the principal again.

Demetrius of Byzantium relates that Crito removed him from his workshop and educated him, being struck by his beauty of soul; that he discussed moral questions in the workshops and the market-place, being convinced that the study of nature is no concern of ours; and that he claimed that his inquiries embraced

Whatso’er is good or evil in an house;31

that frequently, owing to his vehemence in argument, men set upon him with their fists or tore his hair out; and that for the most part he was despised and laughed at, yet bore all this ill-usage patiently. So much so that, when he had been kicked, and some one expressed surprise at his taking it so quietly, Socrates rejoined, “Should I have taken the law of a donkey, supposing that he had kicked me?” Thus far Demetrius.

Unlike most philosophers, he had no need to travel, except when required to go on an expedition. The rest of his life he stayed at home and engaged all the more keenly in argument with anyone who would converse with him, his aim being not to alter his opinion but to get at the truth. They relate that Euripides gave him the treatise of Heraclitus and asked his opinion upon it, and that his reply was, “The part I understand is excellent, and so too is, I dare say, the part I do not understand; but it needs a Delian diver to get to the bottom of it.”

He took care to exercise his body and kept in good condition. At all events he served on the expedition to Amphipolis; and when in the battle of Delium Xenophon had fallen from his horse, he stepped in and saved his life. For in the general flight of the Athenians he personally retired at his ease, quietly turning round from time to time and ready to defend himself in case he were attacked. Again, he served at Potidaea, whither he had gone by sea, as land communications were interrupted by the war;32 and while there he is said to have remained a whole night without changing his position, and to have won the prize of valour. But he resigned it to Alcibiades, for whom he cherished the tenderest affection, according to Aristippus in the fourth book of his treatise On the Luxury of the Ancients. Ion of Chios relates that in his youth he visited Samos in the company of Archelaus; and Aristotle that he went to Delphi; he went also to the Isthmus, according to Favorinus in the first book of his Memorabilia.

His strength of will and attachment to the democracy are evident from his refusal to yield to Critias and his colleagues when they ordered him to bring the wealthy Leon of Salamis before them for execution, and further from the fact that he alone voted for the acquittal of the ten generals; and again from the facts that when he had the opportunity to escape from the prison he declined to do so, and that he rebuked his friends for weeping over his fate, and addressed to them his most memorable discourses in the prison.

He was a man of great independence and dignity of character. Pamphila in the seventh book of her Commentaries tells how Alcibiades once offered him a large site on which to build a house; but he replied, “Suppose, then, I wanted shoes and you offered me a whole hide to make a pair with, would it not be ridiculous in me to take it?” Often when he looked at the multitude of wares exposed for sale, he would say to himself, “How many things I can do without!” And he would continually recite the lines:

The purple robe and silver’s shine

More fits an actor’s need than mine.33

He showed his contempt for Archelaus of Macedon and Scopas of Cranon and Eurylochus of Larissa by refusing to accept their presents or to go to their court. He was so orderly in his way of life that on several occasions when pestilence broke out in Athens he was the only man who escaped infection.

Aristotle says that he married two wives: his first wife was Xanthippe, by whom he had a son, Lamprocles; his second wife was Myrto, the daughter of Aristides the Just, whom he took without a dowry. By her he had Sophroniscus and Menexenus. Others make Myrto his first wife; while some writers, including Satyrus and Hieronymus of Rhodes, affirm that they were both his wives at the same time. For they say that the Athenians were short of men and, wishing to increase the population, passed a decree permitting a citizen to marry one Athenian woman and have children by another; and that Socrates accordingly did so.

He could afford to despise those who scoffed at him. He prided himself on his plain living, and never asked a fee from anyone. He used to say that he most enjoyed the food which was least in need of condiment, and the drink which made him feel the least hankering for some other drink; and that he was nearest to the gods in that he had the fewest wants. This may be seen from the Comic poets, who in the act of ridiculing him give him high praise. Thus Aristophanes:34

O man that justly desirest great wisdom, how blessed will be thy life amongst Athenians and Greeks, retentive of memory and thinker that thou art, with endurance of toil for thy character; never art thou weary whether standing or walking, never numb with cold, never hungry for breakfast; from wine and from gross feeding and all other frivolities thou dost turn away.

Ameipsias too, when he puts him on the stage wearing a cloak, says:35

a. You come to join us, Socrates, worthiest of a small band and emptiest by far! You are a robust fellow. Where can we get you a proper coat?

b. Your sorry plight is an insult to the cobblers.

a. And yet, hungry as he is, this man has never stooped to flatter.

This disdainful, lofty spirit of his is also noticed by Aristophanes when he says:36

Because you stalk along the streets, rolling your eyes, and endure, barefoot, many a hardship, and gaze up at us [the clouds].

And yet at times he would even put on fine clothes to suit the occasion, as in Plato’s Symposium,37 where he is on his way to Agathon’s house.

He showed equal ability in both directions, in persuading and dissuading men; thus, after conversing with Theaetetus about knowledge, he sent him away, as Plato says, fired with a divine impulse; but when Euthyphro had indicted his father for manslaughter, Socrates, after some conversation with him upon piety, diverted him from his purpose. Lysis, again, he turned, by exhortation, into a most virtuous character. For he had the skill to draw his arguments from facts. And when his son Lamprocles was violently angry with his mother, Socrates made him feel ashamed of himself, as I believe Xenophon has told us. When Plato’s brother Glaucon was desirous of entering upon politics, Socrates dissuaded him, as Xenophon relates, because of his want of experience; but on the contrary he encouraged Charmides to take up politics because he had a gift that way.38

He roused Iphicrates the general to a martial spirit by showing him how the fighting cocks of Midias the barber flapped their wings in defiance of those of Callias. Glauconides demanded that he should be acquired for the state as if he were some pheasant or peacock.

He used to say it was strange that, if you asked a man how many sheep he had, he could easily tell you the precise number; whereas he could not name his friends or say how many he had, so slight was the value he set upon them. Seeing Euclides keenly interested in eristic arguments, he said to him: “You will be able to get on with sophists, Euclides, but with men not at all.” For he thought there was no use in this sort of hair-splitting, as Plato shows us in the Euthydemus.

Again, when Charmides offered him some slaves in order that he might derive an income from them, he declined the offer; and according to some he scorned the beauty of Alcibiades. He would extol leisure as the best of possessions, according to Xenophon in the Symposium. There is, he said, only one good, that is, knowledge, and only one evil, that is, ignorance; wealth and good birth bring their possessor no dignity, but on the contrary evil. At all events, when some one told him that Antisthenes’ mother was a Thracian, he replied, “Nay, did you expect a man so noble to have been born of two Athenian parents?” He made Crito ransom Phaedo who, having been taken prisoner in the war, was kept in degrading slavery, and so won him for philosophy.

Moreover, in his old age he learnt to play the lyre, declaring that he saw no absurdity in learning a new accomplishment. As Xenophon relates in the Symposium, it was his regular habit to dance, thinking that such exercise helped to keep the body in good condition. He used to say that his supernatural sign warned him beforehand of the future; that to make a good start was no trifling advantage, but a trifle turned the scale; and that he knew nothing except just the fact of his ignorance. He said that, when people paid a high price for fruit which had ripened early, they must despair of seeing the fruit ripen at the proper season. And, being once asked in what consisted the virtue of a young man, he said, “In doing nothing to excess.” He held that geometry should be studied to the point at which a man is able to measure the land which he acquires or parts with.

On hearing the line of Euripides’ play Auge where the poet says of virtue:

’Tis best to let her roam at will,39

he got up and left the theatre. For he said it was absurd to make a hue and cry about a slave who could not be found, and to allow virtue to perish in this way. Some one asked him whether he should marry or not, and received the reply, “Whichever you do you will repent it.” He used to express his astonishment that the sculptors of marble statues should take pains to make the block of marble into a perfect likeness of a man, and should take no pains about themselves lest they should turn out mere blocks, not men. He recommended to the young the constant use of the mirror, to the end that handsome men might acquire a corresponding behaviour, and ugly men conceal their defects by education.

He had invited some rich men and, when Xanthippe said she felt ashamed of the dinner, “Never mind,” said he, “for if they are reasonable they will put up with it, and if they are good for nothing, we shall not trouble ourselves about them.” He would say that the rest of the world lived to eat, while he himself ate to live. Of the mass of men who do not count he said it was as if some one should object to a single tetradrachm as counterfeit and at the same time let a whole heap made up of just such pieces pass as genuine. Aeschines said to him, “I am a poor man and have nothing else to give, but I offer you myself,” and Socrates answered, “Nay, do you not see that you are offering me the greatest gift of all?” To one who complained that he was overlooked when the Thirty rose to power, he said, “You are not sorry for that, are you?” To one who said, “You are condemned by the Athenians to die,” he made answer, “So are they, by nature.” But some ascribe this to Anaxagoras. When his wife said, “You suffer unjustly,” he retorted, “Why, would you have me suffer justly?” He had a dream that some one said to him:40

On the third day thou shalt come to the fertile fields of Phthia;

and he told Aeschines, “On the third day I shall die.”41 When he was about to drink the hemlock, Apollodorus offered him a beautiful garment to die in: “What,” said he, “is my own good enough to live in but not to die in?” When he was told that So-and-so spoke ill of him, he replied, “True, for he has never learnt to speak well.” When Antisthenes turned his cloak so that the tear in it came into view, “I see,” said he, “your vanity through your cloak.” To one who said, “Don’t you find so-and-so very offensive?” his reply was, “No, for it takes two to make a quarrel.” We ought not to object, he used to say, to be subjects for the Comic poets, for if they satirize our faults they will do us good, and if not they do not touch us. When Xanthippe first scolded him and then drenched him with water, his rejoinder was, “Did I not say that Xanthippe’s thunder would end in rain?” When Alcibiades declared that the scolding of Xanthippe was intolerable, “Nay, I have got used to it,” said he, “as to the continued rattle of a windlass. And you do not mind the cackle of geese.” “No,” replied Alcibiades, “but they furnish me with eggs and goslings.” “And Xanthippe,” said Socrates, “is the mother of my children.” When she tore his coat off his back in the market-place and his acquaintances advised him to hit back, “Yes, by Zeus,” said he, “in order that while we are sparring each of you may join in with ‘Go it, Socrates!’ ‘Well done, Xanthippe!’ “ He said he lived with a shrew, as horsemen are fond of spirited horses, “but just as, when they have mastered these, they can easily cope with the rest, so I in the society of Xanthippe shall learn to adapt myself to the rest of the world.”

These and the like were his words and deeds, to which the Pythian priestess bore testimony when she gave Chaerephon the famous response:

Of all men living Socrates most wise.

For this he was most envied; and especially because he would take to task those who thought highly of themselves, proving them to be fools, as to be sure he treated Anytus, according to Plato’s Meno .42 For Anytus could not endure to be ridiculed by Socrates, and so in the first place stirred up against him Aristophanes and his friends; then afterwards he helped to persuade Meletus to indict him on a charge of impiety and corrupting the youth.

The indictment was brought by Meletus, and the speech was delivered by Polyeuctus, according to Favorinus in his Miscellaneous History. The speech was written by Polycrates the sophist, according to Hermippus; but some say that it was by Anytus. Lycon the demagogue had made all the needful preparations.43

Antisthenes in his Successions of Philosophers, and Plato in his Apology, say that there were three accusers, Anytus, Lycon and Meletus; that Anytus was roused to anger on behalf of the craftsmen and politicians, Lycon on behalf of the rhetoricians, Meletus of the poets, all three of which classes had felt the lash of Socrates. Favorinus in the first book of his Memorabilia declares that the speech of Polycrates against Socrates is not authentic; for he mentions the rebuilding of the walls by Conon, which did not take place till six years after the death of Socrates. And this is the case.

The affidavit in the case, which is still preserved, says Favorinus, in the Metron, ran as follows: “This indictment and affidavit is sworn by Meletus, the son of Meletus of Pitthos, against Socrates, the son of Sophroniscus of Alopece: Socrates is guilty of refusing to recognize the gods recognized by the state, and of introducing other new divinities. He is also guilty of corrupting the youth. The penalty demanded is death.” The philosopher then, after Lysias had written a defence for him, read it through and said: “A fine speech, Lysias; it is not, however, suitable to me.” For it was plainly more forensic than philosophical. Lysias said, “If it is a fine speech, how can it fail to suit you?” “Well,” he replied, “would not fine raiment and fine shoes be just as unsuitable to me?”

Justus of Tiberias in his book entitled The Wreath says that in the course of the trial Plato mounted the platform and began: “Though I am the youngest, men of Athens, of all who ever rose to address you” – whereupon the judges shouted out, “Get down! Get down!” When therefore he was condemned by 281 votes more than those given for acquittal, and when the judges were assessing what he should suffer or what fine he should pay, he proposed to pay 25 drachmae. Eubulides indeed says he offered 100. When this caused an uproar among the judges, he said, “Considering my services, I assess the penalty at maintenance in the Prytaneum at the public expense.”

Sentence of death was passed, with an accession of eighty fresh votes. He was put in prison, and a few days afterwards drank the hemlock, after much noble discourse which Plato records in the Phaedo. Further, according to some, he composed a paean beginning:

All hail, Apollo, Delos’ lord!

Hail Artemis, ye noble pair!

Dionysodorus denies that he wrote the paean. He also composed a fable of Aesop, not very skilfully, beginning:44

“Judge not, ye men of Corinth,” Aesop cried,

“Of virtue as the jury-courts decide.”

So he was taken from among men; and not long afterwards the Athenians felt such remorse that they shut up the training grounds and gymnasia. They banished the other accusers but put Meletus to death; they honoured Socrates with a bronze statue, the work of Lysippus, which they placed in the hall of processions. And no sooner did Anytus visit Heraclea than the people of that town expelled him on that very day. Not only in the case of Socrates but in very many others the Athenians repented in this way. For they fined Homer (so says Heraclides45 ) 50 drachmae for a madman, and said Tyrtaeus was beside himself, and they honoured Astydamas before Aeschylus and his brother poets with a bronze statue. Euripides upbraids them thus in his Palamedes: “Ye have slain, have slain, the all-wise, the innocent, the Muses’ nightingale.”46 This is one account; but Philochorus asserts that Euripides died before Socrates.

He was born, according to Apollodorus in his Chronology, in the archonship of Apsephion, in the fourth year of the 77th Olympiad,47 on the 6th day of the month of Thargelion, when the Athenians purify their city, which according to the Delians is the birthday of Artemis. He died in the first year of the 95th Olympiad48 at the age of seventy. With this Demetrius of Phalerum agrees; but some say he was sixty when he died.

Both were pupils of Anaxagoras, I mean Socrates and Euripides, who was born in the first year of the 75th Olympiad in the archonship of Calliades.49

In my opinion Socrates discoursed on physics as well as on ethics, since he holds some conversations about providence, even according to Xenophon, who, however, declares that he only discussed ethics. But Plato, after mentioning Anaxagoras and certain other physicists in the Apology,50 treats for his own part themes which Socrates disowned, although he puts everything into the mouth of Socrates.

Aristotle relates that a magician came from Syria to Athens and, among other evils with which he threatened Socrates, predicted that he would come to a violent end.

I have written verses about him too, as follows:51

Drink then, being in Zeus’s palace, O Socrates; for truly did the god pronounce thee wise, being wisdom himself; for when thou didst frankly take the hemlock at the hands of the Athenians, they themselves drained it as it passed thy lips.

He was sharply criticized, according to Aristotle in his third book On Poetry, by a certain Antilochus of Lemnos, and by Antiphon the soothsayer, just as Pythagoras was by Cylon of Croton, or as Homer was assailed in his lifetime by Syagrus, and after his death by Xenophanes of Colophon. So too Hesiod was criticized in his lifetime by Cercops, and after his death by the aforesaid Xenophanes; Pindar by Amphimenes of Cos; thales by Pherecydes; Bias by Salarus of Priene; Pittacus by Antimenidas and Alcaeus; Anaxagoras by Sosibius; and Simonides by Timocreon.

Of those who succeeded him and were called Socratics52 the chief were Plato, Xenophon, Antisthenes, and of ten names on the traditional list the most distinguished are Aeschines, Phaedo, Euclides, Aristippus. I must first speak of Xenophon; Antisthenes will come afterwards among the Cynics; after Xenophon I shall take the Socratics proper, and so pass on to Plato. With Plato the ten schools begin: he was himself the founder of the First Academy. This then is the order which I shall follow.

Of those who bear the name of Socrates there is one, a historian, who wrote a geographical work upon Argos; another, a Peripatetic philosopher of Bithynia; a third, a poet who wrote epigrams; lastly, Socrates of Cos, who wrote on the names of the gods.

25 So Cobet for vulgate Mnesilochus, retained by Meineke, C.G.F. ii. 371.

26 There is a pun in Φρύγες and φρύγανα (=firewood).

27 Meineke, C.G.F. ii. 739.

28 A mistake for Teleclides: see Meineke, Comicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, ii. p. 371 sq. Dindorf conjectured that τὰς σωκρατογόμφους belongs to the same passage of Teleclides’ Clouds and might well follow σοφάς.

29 Fr. 25 d.

30 Possibly the reference is to the same citation as in 19 which Diogenes Laertius may have found independently in two of his authorities. Diogenes himself notices the agreement between Favorinus and Idomeneus of Lampsacus, a much earlier author, for he was a disciple of Epicurus, whom he knew from 310 to 270 B.C.

31 Hom. Od. iv. 392.

32 The reason assigned for an expedition to Potidaea by sea will not hold. Communications between Athens and Thrace were, as a rule, made by sea. Moreover, the siege of Potidaea began in 432 B.C., the year before the outbreak of the Peloponnesian war. It has been suggested that the words διὰ θαλάττης . . . κωλύοντος should properly follow Ἰσθμόν eight lines lower down. If any Athenian wished to attend the Isthmian games during the early part of the Peloponnesian war, it was probably safer not to risk the land journey owing to the bitter hostility of the Megarians.

33 Stobaeus, Florilegium, lvi. 15, attributes these and three preceding lines to Philemon, the well-known poet of the New Comedy. If Philemon wrote them, Socrates cannot have recited them, however well they express his temper.

34 Clouds, 412-417.

35 Sc. in the Connus, Meineke, C.G.F. i. 201 sq., ii. 703.

36 Clouds, 362.

37 174 a.

38 Mem. iii. 7.

39 This line, now found in Eur. Electra, 379, may have come into our text from the lost play Auge: cf. Nauck, T.G.F. ², p. 437, s.v. ΑΥΓΗ.

40 Hom. Il. ix. 363.

41 The proposal that Socrates should escape from prison was attributed to Aeschines as well as to Crito (see below, 60). The Homeric citation occurs in Plato’s Crito, 44 b.

42 95 a.

43 The confusion in the last sentence of 38 is due to the insertion in the wrong place of two extracts, one from Favorinus and the other from Hermippus. When these are removed, the parts assigned to the three accusers, Meletus, Anytus and Lycon, become clear: ἀπηνέγκατο μὲν οὖν τὴν γραφὴν ὁ Μέλητος, εἶπε δὲ τὴν δίκην Ἄνυτος, προητοίμασε δὲ πάντα Λύκων ὁ δημαγωγός.

44 Anth. Plan. iv. 16.

45 Most probably Heraclides of Pontus. This remarkable assertion may have occurred in one of his dialogues, and was perhaps not meant to be taken seriously.

46 Nauck, T.G.F. ², Eur. 588.

47 469-468 B.C.

48 400-399 B.C.

49 480-479 B.C.

50 26 d.

51 Anth. Pal. vii. 96.

52 The text would perhaps be clearer if we transposed thus: τῶν δὲ διαδεξαμένων αὐτὸν οἱ κορυφαιότατοι μὲν Πλάτων, Ξενοφῶν, Ἀντισθένης. τῶν δὲ λεγομένων Σωκρατικῶν οἱ διασημότατοι τέσσαρες, Αἰσχίνης, Φαίδων, Εὐκλείδης, Ἀρίστιππος κτλ . . . εἶθ᾽ οὔτω περὶ Πλάτωνος: ἐπεὶ κατάρχει τῶν φερομένων δέκα αἱρέσεων. The division of moral philosophers into ten schools was mentioned above, i. 18.


Xenophon, the son of Gryllus, was a citizen of Athens and belonged to the deme Erchia; he was a man of rare modesty and extremely handsome. The story goes that Socrates met him in a narrow passage, and that he stretched out his stick to bar the way, while he inquired where every kind of food was sold. Upon receiving a reply, he put another question, “And where do men become good and honourable?” Xenophon was fairly puzzled; “Then follow me,” said Socrates, “and learn.” From that time onward he was a pupil of Socrates. He was the first to take notes of, and to give to the world, the conversation of Socrates, under the title of Memorabilia. Moreover, he was the first to write a history of philosophers.

Aristippus, in the fourth book of his work On the Luxury of the Ancients, declares that he was enamoured of Clinias, and said in reference to him, “It is sweeter for me to gaze on Clinias than on all the fair sights in the world. I would be content to be blind to everything else if I could but gaze on him alone. I am vexed with the night and with sleep because I cannot see Clinias, and most grateful to the day and the sun for showing him to me.”

He gained the friendship of Cyrus in the following way. He had an intimate friend named Proxenus, a Boeotian, a pupil of Gorgias of Leontini and a friend of Cyrus. Proxenus, while living in Sardis at the court of Cyrus, wrote a letter to Xenophon at Athens, inviting him to come and seek the friendship of Cyrus. Xenophon showed this letter to Socrates and asked his advice, which was that he should go to Delphi and consult the oracle. Xenophon complied and came into the presence of the god. He inquired, not whether he should go and seek service with Cyrus, but in what way he should do so. For this Socrates blamed him, yet at the same time he advised him to go. On his arrival at the court of Cyrus he became as warmly attached to him as Proxenus himself. We have his own sufficient narrative of all that happened on the expedition and on the return home. He was, however, at enmity with Meno of Pharsalus, the mercenary general, throughout the expedition, and, by way of abuse, charges him with having a favourite older than himself. Again, he reproaches one Apollonides with having had his ears bored.53

After the expedition and the misfortunes which overtook it in Pontus and the treacheries of Seuthes, the king of the Odrysians, he returned to Asia, having enlisted the troops of Cyrus as mercenaries in the service of Agesilaus, the Spartan king, to whom he was devoted beyond measure. About this time he was banished by the Athenians for siding with Sparta. When he was in Ephesus and had a sum of money, he entrusted one half of it to Megabyzus, the priest of Artemis, to keep until his return, or if he should never return, to apply to the erection of a statue in honour of the goddess. But the other half he sent in votive offerings to Delphi. Next he came to Greece with Agesilaus, who had been recalled to carry on the war against Thebes. And the Lacedaemonians conferred on him a privileged position.

He then left Agesilaus and made his way to Scillus, a place in the territory of Elis not far from the city. According to Demetrius of Magnesia he was accompanied by his wife Philesia, and, in a speech written for the freedman whom Xenophon prosecuted for neglect of duty, Dinarchus mentions that his two sons Gryllus and Diodorus, the Dioscuri as they were called, also went with him. Megabyzus having arrived to attend the festival, Xenophon received from him the deposit of money and bought and dedicated to the goddess an estate with a river running through, which bears the same name Selinus as the river at Ephesus. And from that time onward he hunted, entertained his friends, and worked at his histories without interruption. Dinarchus, however, asserts that it was the Lacedaemonians who gave him a house and land.

At the same time we are told that Phylopidas the Spartan sent to him at Scillus a present of captive slaves from Dardanus, and that he disposed of them as he thought fit, and that the Elians marched against Scillus, and owing to the slowness of the Spartans captured the place, whereupon his sons retired to Lepreum with a few of the servants, while Xenophon himself, who had previously gone to Elis, went next to Lepreum to join his sons, and then made his escape with them from Lepreum to Corinth and took up his abode there. Meanwhile the Athenians passed a decree to assist Sparta, and Xenophon sent his sons to Athens to serve in the army in defence of Sparta. According to Diocles in his Lives of the Philosophers, they had been trained in Sparta itself. Diodorus came safe out of the battle without performing any distinguished service, and he had a son of the same name (Gryllus) as his brother. Gryllus was posted with the cavalry and, in the battle which took place about Mantinea, fought stoutly and fell, as Ephorus relates in his twenty-fifth book, Cephisodorus being in command of the cavalry and Hegesilaus commander-in-chief. In this battle Epaminondas also fell. On this occasion Xenophon is said to have been sacrificing, with a chaplet on his head, which he removed when his son’s death was announced. But afterwards, upon learning that he had fallen gloriously, he replaced the chaplet on his head. Some say that he did not even shed tears, but exclaimed, “I knew my son was mortal.” Aristotle mentions that there were innumerable authors of epitaphs and eulogies upon Gryllus, who wrote, in part at least, to gratify his father. Hermippus too, in his Life of Theophrastus, affirms that even Isocrates wrote an encomium on Gryllus. Timon, however, jeers at Xenophon in the lines:54

A feeble pair or triad of works, or even a greater number, such as would come from Xenophon or the might of Aeschines, that not unpersuasive writer.

Such was his life. He flourished in the fourth year of the 94th Olympiad,55 and he took part in the expedition of Cyrus in the archonship of Xenaenetus in the year before the death of Socrates.

He died, according to Ctesiclides56 of Athens in his list of archons and Olympic victors, in the first year of the 105th Olympiad, in the archonship of Callidemides,57 the year in which Philip, the son of Amyntas, came to the throne of Macedon. He died at Corinth, as is stated by Demetrius of Magnesia, obviously at an advanced age. He was a worthy man in general, particularly fond of horses and hunting, an able tactician as is clear from his writings, pious, fond of sacrificing, and an expert in augury from the victims; and he made Socrates his exact model.

He wrote some forty books in all, though the division into books is not always the same, namely:

Demetrius of Magnesia denies that the last of these works is by Xenophon. There is a tradition that he made Thucydides famous by publishing his history, which was unknown, and which he might have appropriated to his own use. By the sweetness of his narrative he earned the name of the Attic Muse. Hence he and Plato were jealous of each other, as will be stated in the chapter on Plato.

There is an epigram of mine on him also:58

Up the steep path to fame toiled Xenophon

In that long march of glorious memories;

In deeds of Greece, how bright his lesson shone!

How fair was wisdom seen in Socrates!59

There is another on the circumstances of his death:60

Albeit the countrymen of Cranaus and Cecrops condemned thee, Xenophon, to exile on account of thy friendship for Cyrus, yet hospitable Corinth welcomed thee, so well content with the delights of that city wast thou, and there didst resolve to take up thy rest.

In other authorities I find the statement that he flourished, along with the other Socratics, in the 89th Olympiad,61 and Istrus affirms that he was banished by a decree of Eubulus and recalled by a decree of the same man.

There have been seven Xenophons: the first our subject himself; the second an Athenian, brother of Pythostratus, who wrote the Theseid, and himself the author, amongst other works, of a biography of Epaminondas and Pelopidas; the third a physician of Cos; the fourth the author of a history of Hannibal; the fifth an authority on legendary marvels; the sixth a sculptor, of Paros; the seventh a poet of the Old Comedy.

53 Anab. iii. 1. 26-31.

54 Fr. 26 D.

55 401-400 B.C.

56 Ctesiclides is known to us from Athenaeus, who cites his Chronology, vi. 272 c, x. 445 d. it may seem rash to intrude him here; but cf. iv. 5, where a similar error is certain.

57 360-359 B.C.

58 Anth. Pal. vii. 97.

59 Or in plain prose: “Not only for Cyrus’s sake did Xenophon go up to Persia, but because he sought the path which leads to the abode of Zeus. For, having shown that the great deeds of Greece are the outcome of his training, he recalled what a beautiful thing was the wisdom of Socrates.”

60 Anth. Pal. vii. 98.

61 This would be 424-420 B.C., a date obviously absurd as the floruit for either Xenophon or Plato.


Aeschines was the son of Charinus the sausagemaker, but others make his father’s name Lysanias. He was a citizen of Athens, industrious from his birth up. For this reason he never quitted Socrates; hence Socrates’ remark, “Only the sausage-maker’s son knows how to honour me.” Idomeneus declared that it was Aeschines, not Crito, who advised Socrates in the prison about making his escape,62 but that Plato put the words into the mouth of Crito because Aeschines was more attached to Aristippus than to himself. It was said maliciously – by Menedemus of Eretria in particular – that most of the dialogues which Aeschines passed off as his own were really dialogues of Socrates obtained by him from Xanthippe. Those of them which are said to have no beginning (ἀκέφαλοι) are very slovenly and show none of the vigour of Socrates; Pisistratus of Ephesus even denied that they were written by Aeschines. Persaeus indeed attributes the majority of the seven to Pasiphon of the school of Eretria, who inserted them among the dialogues of Aeschines. Moreover, Aeschines made use of the Little Cyrus, the Lesser Heracles and the Alcibiades of Antisthenes as well as dialogues by other authors. However that may be, of the writings of Aeschines those stamped with a Socratic character are seven, namely Miltiades, which for that reason is somewhat weak; then Callias, Axiochus, Aspasia, Alcibiades, Telauges, and Rhinon.

They say that want drove him to Sicily to the court of Dionysius, and that Plato took no notice of him, but he was introduced to Dionysius by Aristippus, and on presenting certain dialogues received gifts from him. Afterwards on his return to Athens he did not venture to lecture owing to the popularity of Plato and Aristippus. But he took fees from pupils, and subsequently composed forensic speeches for aggrieved clients. This is the point of Timon’s reference to him as “the might of Aeschines, that not unconvincing writer.” They say that Socrates, seeing how he was pinched by poverty, advised him to borrow from himself by reducing his rations. Aristippus among others had suspicions of the genuineness of his dialogues. At all events, as he was reading one at Megara, Aristippus rallied him by asking, “Where did you get that, you thief?”

Polycritus of Mende, in the first book of his History of Dionysius, says that he lived with the tyrant until his expulsion from Syracuse, and survived until the return of Dion, and that with him was Carcinus the tragic poet. There is also extant an epistle of Aeschines to Dionysius. That he had received a good rhetorical training is clear from his defence of the father of Phaeax the general, and from his defence of Dion. He is a close imitator of Gorgias of Leontini. Moreover, Lysias attacked him in a speech which he entitled “On dishonesty.” And from this too it is clear that he was a rhetorician. A single disciple of his is mentioned, Aristotle, whose nickname was “Story.”

Panaetius thinks that, of all the Socratic dialogues, those by Plato, Xenophon, Antisthenes and Aeschines are genuine; he is in doubt about those ascribed to Phaedo and Euclides; but he rejects the others one and all.

There are eight men who have borne the name of Aeschines: (1) our subject himself; (2) the author of handbooks of rhetoric; (3) the orator who opposed Demosthenes; (4) an Arcadian, a pupil of Isocrates; (5) a Mitylenean whom they used to call the “scourge of rhetoricians”; (6) a Neapolitan, an Academic philosopher, a pupil and favourite of Melanthius of Rhodes; (7) a Milesian who wrote upon politics; (8) a sculptor.

62 Idomeneus, it may be conjectured, relied on some Socratic dialogue in which the part assigned by Plato to Crito was given to Aeschines.


Aristippus was by birth a citizen of Cyrene and, as Aeschines informs us, was drawn to Athens by the fame of Socrates. Having come forward as a lecturer or sophist, as Phanias of Eresus, the Peripatetic, informs us, he was the first of the followers of Socrates to charge fees and to send money to his master. And on one occasion the sum of twenty minae which he had sent was returned to him, Socrates declaring that the supernatural sign would not let him take it; the very offer, in fact, annoyed him. Xenophon was no friend to Aristippus; and for this reason he has made Socrates direct against Aristippus the discourse in which he denounces pleasure.63 Not but what Theodorus in his work On Sects abuses him, and so does Plato in the dialogue On the Soul,64 as has been shown elsewhere.

He was capable of adapting himself to place, time and person, and of playing his part appropriately under whatever circumstances. Hence he found more favour than anybody else with Dionysius, because he could always turn the situation to good account. He derived pleasure from what was present, and did not toil to procure the enjoyment of something not present Hence Diogenes called him the king’s poodle65 Timon, too, sneered at him for luxury in these words:66

Such was the delicate nature of Aristippus, who groped after error by touch.67

He is said to have ordered a partridge to be bought at a cost of fifty drachmae, and, when someone censured him, he inquired, “Would not you have given an obol for it?” and, being answered in the affirmative, rejoined, “Fifty drachmae are no more to me.” And when Dionysius gave him his choice of three courtesans, he carried off all three, saying, “Paris paid dearly for giving the preference to one out of three.” And when he had brought them as far as the porch, he let them go. To such lengths did he go both in choosing and in disdaining. Hence the remark of Strato, or by some accounts of Plato, “You alone are endowed with the gift to flaunt in robes or go in rags.” He bore with Dionysius when he spat on him, and to one who took him to task he replied, “If the fishermen let themselves be drenched with sea-water in order to catch a gudgeon, ought I not to endure to be wetted with negus in order to take a blenny?”

Diogenes, washing the dirt from his vegetables, saw him passing and jeered at him in these terms, “If you had learnt to make these your diet, you would not have paid court to kings,” to which his rejoinder was, “And if you knew how to associate with men, you would not be washing vegetables.” Being asked what he had gained from philosophy, he replied, “The ability to feel at ease in any society.” Being reproached for his extravagance, he said, “If it were wrong to be extravagant, it would not be in vogue at the festivals of the gods.”

Being once asked what advantage philosophers have, he replied, “Should all laws be repealed, we shall go on living as we do now.” When Dionysius inquired what was the reason that philosophers go to rich men’s houses, while rich men no longer visit philosophers, his reply was that “the one know what they need while the other do not.” When he was reproached by Plato for his extravagance, he inquired, “Do you think Dionysius a good man?” and the reply being in the affirmative, “And yet,” said he, “he lives more extravagantly than I do. So that there is nothing to hinder a man living extravagantly and well.” To the question how the educated differ from the uneducated, he replied, “Exactly as horses that have been trained differ from untrained horses.” One day, as he entered the house of a courtesan, one of the lads with him blushed, whereupon he remarked, “It is not going in that is dangerous, but being unable to go out.”

Some one brought him a knotty problem with the request that he would untie the knot. “Why, you simpleton,” said he, “do you want it untied, seeing that it causes trouble enough as it is?” “It is better,” he said, “to be a beggar than to be uneducated; the one needs money, the others need to be humanized.” One day that he was reviled, he tried to slip away; the other pursued him, asking, “Why do you run away?” “Because,” said he, “as it is your privilege to use foul language, so it is my privilege not to listen.” In answer to one who remarked that he always saw philosophers at rich men’s doors, he said, “So, too, physicians are in attendance on those who are sick, but no one for that reason would prefer being sick to being a physician.”

It happened once that he set sail for Corinth and, being overtaken by a storm, he was in great consternation. Some one said, “We plain men are not alarmed, and are you philosophers turned cowards?” To this he replied, “The lives at stake in the two cases are not comparable.” When some one gave himself airs for his wide learning, this is what he said: “As those who eat most and take the most exercise are not better in health than those who restrict themselves to what they require, so too it is not wide reading but useful reading that tends to excellence.” An advocate, having pleaded for him and won the case, thereupon put the question, “What good did Socrates do you?” “Thus much,” was the reply, “that what you said of me in your speech was true.”

He gave his daughter Arete the very best advice, training her up to despise excess. He was asked by some one in what way his son would be the better for being educated. He replied, “If nothing more than this, at all events, when in the theatre he will not sit down like a stone upon stone.” When some one brought his son as a pupil, he asked a fee of 500 drachmae. The father objected, “For that sum I can buy a slave.” “Then do so,” was the reply, “and you will have two.” He said that he did not take money from his friends for his own use, but to teach them upon what objects their money should be spent. When he was reproached for employing a rhetorician to conduct his case, he made reply, “Well, if I give a dinner, I hire a cook.”

Being once compelled by Dionysius to enunciate some doctrine of philosophy, “It would be ludicrous,” he said, “that you should learn from me what to say, and yet instruct me when to say it.” At this, they say, Dionysius was offended and made him recline at the end of the table. And Aristippus said, “You must have wished to confer distinction on the last place.” To some one who boasted of his diving, “Are you not ashamed,” said he, “to brag of that which a dolphin can do?” Being asked on one occasion what is the difference between the wise man and the unwise, “Strip them both,” said he, “and send them among strangers and you will know.” To one who boasted that he could drink a great deal without getting drunk, his rejoinder was, “And so can a mule.”

To one who accused him of living with a courtesan, he put the question, “Why, is there any difference between taking a house in which many people have lived before and taking one in which nobody has ever lived?” The answer being “No,” he continued, “Or again, between sailing in a ship in which ten thousand persons have sailed before and in one in which nobody has ever sailed?” “There is no difference.” “Then it makes no difference,” said he, “whether the woman you live with has lived with many or with nobody.” To the accusation that, although he was a pupil of Socrates, he took fees, his rejoinder was, “Most certainly I do, for Socrates, too, when certain people sent him corn and wine, used to take a little and return all the rest; and he had the foremost men in Athens for his stewards, whereas mine is my slave Eutychides.” He enjoyed the favours of Laïs, as Sotion states in the second book of his Successions of Philosophers . To those who censured him his defence was, “I have Lais, not she me; and it is not abstinence from pleasures that is best, but mastery over them without ever being worsted.” to one who reproached him with extravagance in catering, he replied, “Wouldn’t you have bought this if you could have got it for three obols?” The answer being in the affirmative, “Very well, then,” said Aristippus, “I am no longer a lover of pleasure, it is you who are a lover of money.” One day Simus, the steward of Dionysius, a Phrygian by birth and a rascally fellow, was showing him costly houses with tesselated pavements, when Aristippus coughed up phlegm and spat in his face. And on his resenting this he replied, “I could not find any place more suitable.”

When Charondas (or, as others say, Phaedo) inquired, “Who is this who reeks with unguents?” he replied, “It is I, unlucky wight, and the still more unlucky Persian king. But, as none of the other animals are at any disadvantage on that account, consider whether it be not the same with man. Confound the effeminates who spoil for us the use of good perfume.” Being asked how Socrates died, he answered, “As I would wish to die myself.” Polyxenus the sophist once paid him a visit and, after having seen ladies present and expensive entertainment, reproached him with it later. After an interval Aristippus asked him, “Can you join us today?” On the other accepting the invitation, Aristippus inquired, “Why, then, did you find fault? For you appear to blame the cost and not the entertainment.” When his servant was carrying money and found the load too heavy – the story is told by Bion in his Lectures – Aristippus cried, “Pour away the greater part, and carry no more than you can manage.” Being once on a voyage, as soon as he discovered the vessel to be manned by pirates, he took out his money and began to count it, and then, as if by inadvertence, he let the money fall into the sea, and naturally broke out into lamentation. Another version of the story attributes to him the further remark that it was better for the money to perish on account of Aristippus than for Aristippus to perish on account of the money. Dionysius once asked him what he was come for, and he said it was to impart what he had and obtain what he had not. But some make his answer to have been, “When I needed wisdom, I went to Socrates; now that I am in need of money, I come to you.” He used to complain of mankind that in purchasing earthenware they made trial whether it rang true, but had no regular standard by which to judge life. Others attribute this remark to Diogenes. One day Dionysius over the wine commanded everybody to put on purple and dance. Plato declined, quoting the line:68

I could not stoop to put on women’s robes.

Aristippus, however, put on the dress and, as he was about to dance, was ready with the repartee:

Even amid the Bacchic revelry

True modesty will not be put to shame.69

He made a request to Dionysius on behalf of a friend and, failing to obtain it, fell down at his feet. And when some one jeered at him, he made reply, “It is not I who am to blame, but Dionysius who has his ears in his feet.” He was once staying in Asia and was taken prisoner by Artaphernes, the satrap. “Can you be cheerful under these circumstances?” some one asked. “Yes, you simpleton,” was the reply, “for when should I be more cheerful than now that I am about to converse with Artaphernes?” Those who went through the ordinary curriculum, but in their studies stopped short at philosophy, he used to compare to the suitors of Penelope. For the suitors won Melantho, Polydora and the rest of the handmaidens, but were anything but successful in their wooing of the mistress. A similar remark is ascribed to Ariston. For, he said, when Odysseus went down into the under-world, he saw nearly all the dead and made their acquaintance, but he never set eyes upon their queen herself.

Again, when Aristippus was asked what are the subjects which handsome boys ought to learn, his reply was, “Those which will be useful to them when they are grown up.” To the critic who censured him for leaving Socrates to go to Dionysius, his rejoinder was, “Yes, but I came to Socrates for education and to Dionysius for recreation.” When he had made some money by teaching, Socrates asked him, “Where did you get so much?” to which he replied, “Where you got so little.”

A courtesan having told him that she was with child by him, he replied, “You are no more sure of this than if, after running through coarse rushes, you were to say you had been pricked by one in particular.” Someone accused him of exposing his son as if it was not his offspring Whereupon he replied, “Phlegm, too, and vermin we know to be of our own begetting, but for all that, because they are useless, we cast them as far from us as possible.” He received a sum of money from Dionysius at the same time that Plato carried off a book and, when he was twitted with this, his reply was,, “Well, I want money, Plato wants books.” Some one asked him why he let himself be refuted by Dionysius. “For the same reason,” said he, “as the others refute him.”

Dionysius met a request of his for money with the words, “Nay, but you told me that the wise man would never be in want.” To which he retorted, “Pay! Pay! and then let us discuss the question;” and when he was paid, “Now you see, do you not,” said he, “that I was not found wanting?” Dionysius having repeated to him the lines:

Whoso betakes him to a prince’s court

Becomes his slave, albeit of free birth,70

he retorted:

If a free man he come, no slave is he.71

This is stated by Diocles in his work On the Lives of Philosophers; other writers refer the anecdotes to Plato. After getting in a rage with Aeschines, he presently addressed him thus: “Are we not to make it up and desist from vapouring, or will you wait for some one to reconcile us over the wine-bowl?” To which he replied, “Agreed.” “Then remember,” Aristippus went on, “that, though I am your senior, I made the first approaches.” Thereupon Aeschines said, “Well done, by Hera, you are quite right; you are a much better man than I am. For the quarrel was of my beginning, you make the first move to friendship.” Such are the repartees which are attributed to him.

There have been four men called Aristippus, (1) our present subject, (2) the author of a book about Arcadia, (3) the grandchild by a daughter of the first Aristippus, who was known as his mother’s pupil, (4) a philosopher of the New Academy.

The following books by the Cyrenaic philosopher are in circulation: a history of Libya in three Books, sent to Dionysius; one work containing twenty-five dialogues, some written in Attic, some in Doric, as follows:

Some also maintain that he wrote six Books of Essays; others, and among them Sosicrates of Rhodes, that he wrote none at all.

According to Sotion in his second book, and Panaetius, the following treatises are his:

He laid down as the end the smooth motion resulting in sensation.

Having written his life, let me now proceed to pass in review the philosophers of the Cyrenaic school which sprang from him, although some call themselves followers of Hegesias, others followers of Anniceris, others again of Theodorus.72 Not but what we shall notice further the pupils of Phaedo, the chief of whom were called the school of Eretria. The case stands thus. The disciples of Aristippus were his daughter Arete, Aethiops of Ptolemais,73 and Antipater of Cyrene. The pupil of Arete was Aristippus, who went by the name of mother-taught, and his pupil was Theodorus, known as the atheist, subsequently as “god.” Antipater’s pupil was Epitimides of Cyrene, his was Paraebates, and he had as pupils Hegesias, the advocate of suicide, and Anniceris, who ransomed Plato.

Those then who adhered to the teaching of Aristippus and were known as Cyrenaics held the following opinions. They laid down that there are two states, pleasure and pain, the former a smooth, the latter a rough motion, and that pleasure does not differ from pleasure nor is one pleasure more pleasant than another. The one state is agreeable and the other repellent to all living things. However, the bodily pleasure which is the end is, according to Panaetius in his work On the Sects, not the settled pleasure following the removal of pains, or the sort of freedom from discomfort which Epicurus accepts and maintains to be the end. They also hold that there is a difference between “end” and “happiness.” Our end is particular pleasure, whereas happiness is the sum total of all particular pleasures, in which are included both past and future pleasures.

Particular pleasure is desirable for its own sake, whereas happiness is desirable not for its own sake but for the sake of particular pleasures. That pleasure is the end is proved by the fact that from our youth up we are instinctively attracted to it, and, when we obtain it, seek for nothing more, and shun nothing so much as its opposite, pain. Pleasure is good even if it proceed from the most unseemly conduct, as Hippobotus says in his work On the Sects. For even if the action be irregular, still, at any rate, the resultant pleasure is desirable for its own sake and is good. The removal of pain, however, which is put forward in Epicurus, seems to them not to be pleasure at all, any more than the absence of pleasure is pain. For both pleasure and pain they hold to consist in motion, whereas absence of pleasure like absence of pain is not motion, since painlessness is the condition of one who is, as it were, asleep. They assert that some people may fail to choose pleasure because their minds are perverted; not all mental pleasures and pains, however, are derived from bodily counterparts. For instance, we take disinterested delight in the prosperity of our country which is as real as our delight in our own prosperity. Nor again do they admit that pleasure is derived from the memory or expectation of good, which was a doctrine of Epicurus. For they assert that the movement affecting the mind is exhausted in course of time. Again they hold that pleasure is not derived from sight or from hearing alone. At all events, we listen with pleasure to imitation of mourning, while the reality causes pain. They gave the names of absence of pleasure and absence of pain to the intermediate conditions. However, they insist that bodily pleasures are far better than mental pleasures, and bodily pains far worse than mental pains, and that this is the reason why offenders are punished with the former. For they assumed pain to be more repellent, pleasure more congenial. For these reasons they paid more attention to the body than to the mind. Hence, although pleasure is in itself desirable, yet they hold that the things which are productive of certain pleasures are often of a painful nature, the very opposite of pleasure; so that to accumulate the pleasures which are productive of happiness appears to them a most irksome business.

They do not accept the doctrine that every wise man lives pleasantly and every fool painfully, but regard it as true for the most part only. It is sufficient even if we enjoy but each single pleasure as it comes. They say that prudence is a good, though desirable not in itself but on account of its consequences; that we make friends from interested motives, just as we cherish any part of the body so long as we have it; that some of the virtues are found even in the foolish; that bodily training contributes to the acquisition of virtue; that the sage will not give way to envy or love or superstition, since these weaknesses are due to mere empty opinion; he will, however, feel pain and fear, these being natural affections; and that wealth too is productive of pleasure, though not desirable for its own sake.

They affirm that mental affections can be known, but not the objects from which they come; and they abandoned the study of nature because of its apparent uncertainty, but fastened on logical inquiries because of their utility. But Meleager in his second book On Philosophical Opinions, and Clitomachus in his first book On the Sects, affirm that they maintain Dialectic as well as Physics to be useless, since, when one has learnt the theory of good and evil, it is possible to speak with propriety, to be free from superstition, and to escape the fear of death. They also held that nothing is just or honourable or base by nature, but only by convention and custom. Nevertheless the good man will be deterred from wrong-doing by the penalties imposed and the prejudices that it would arouse. Further that the wise man really exists. They allow progress to be attainable in philosophy as well as in other matters. They maintain that the pain of one man exceeds that of another, and that the senses are not always true and trustworthy.

The school of Hegesias, as it is called, adopted the same ends, namely pleasure and pain. In their view there is no such thing as gratitude or friendship or beneficence, because it is not for themselves that we choose to do these things but simply from motives of interest, apart from which such conduct is nowhere found. They denied the possibility of happiness, for the body is infected with much suffering, while the soul shares in the sufferings of the body and is a prey to disturbance, and fortune often disappoints. From all this it follows that happiness cannot be realized. Moreover, life and death are each desirable in turn. But that there is anything naturally pleasant or unpleasant they deny; when some men are pleased and others pained by the same objects, this is owing to the lack or rarity or surfeit of such objects. Poverty and riches have no relevance to pleasure; for neither the rich nor the poor as such have any special share in pleasure. Slavery and freedom, nobility and low birth, honour and dishonour, are alike indifferent in a calculation of pleasure. To the fool life is advantageous, while to the wise it is a matter of indifference. The wise man will be guided in all he does by his own interests, for there is none other whom he regards as equally deserving. For supposing him to reap the greatest advantages from another, they would not be equal to what he contributes himself. They also disallow the claims of the senses, because they do not lead to accurate knowledge. Whatever appears rational should be done. They affirmed that allowance should be made for errors, for no man errs voluntarily, but under constraint of some suffering; that we should not hate men, but rather teach them better. The wise man will not have so much advantage over others in the choice of goods as in the avoidance of evils, making it his end to live without pain of body or mind. This then, they say, is the advantage accruing to those who make no distinction between any of the objects which produce pleasure.

The school of Anniceris in other respects agreed with them, but admitted that friendship and gratitude and respect for parents do exist in real life, and that a good man will sometimes act out of patriotic motives. Hence, if the wise man receive annoyance, he will be none the less happy even if few pleasures accrue to him. The happiness of a friend is not in itself desirable, for it is not felt by his neighbour. Instruction is not sufficient in itself to inspire us with confidence and to make us rise superior to the opinion of the multitude. Habits must be formed because of the bad disposition which has grown up in us from the first. A friend should be cherished not merely for his utility – for, if that fails, we should then no longer associate with him – but for the good feeling for the sake of which we shall even endure hardships. Nay, though we make pleasure the end and are annoyed when deprived of it, we shall nevertheless cheerfully endure this because of our love to our friend.

The Theodoreans derived their name from Theodorus, who has already been mentioned, and adopted his doctrines. Theodorus was a man who utterly rejected the current belief in the gods. And I have come across a book of his entitled Of the Gods which is not contemptible. From that book, they say, Epicurus borrowed most of what he wrote on the subject.

Theodorus was also a pupil of Anniceris and of Dionysius the dialectician, as Antisthenes mentions in his Successions of Philosophers. He considered joy and grief to be the supreme good and evil, the one brought about by wisdom, the other by folly. Wisdom and justice he called goods, and their opposites evils, pleasure and pain being intermediate to good and evil. Friendship he rejected because it did not exist between the unwise nor between the wise; with the former, when the want is removed, the friendship disappears, whereas the wise are selfsufficient and have no need of friends. It was reasonable, as he thought, for the good man not to risk his life in the defence of his country, for he would never throw wisdom away to benefit the unwise.

He said the world was his country. Theft, adultery, and sacrilege would be allowable upon occasion, since none of these acts is by nature base, if once you have removed the prejudice against them, which is kept up in order to hold the foolish multitude together. The wise man would indulge his passions openly without the least regard to circumstances. Hence he would use such arguments as this. “Is a woman who is skilled in grammar useful in so far as she is skilled in grammar?” “Yes.” “And is a boy or a youth skilled in grammar useful in so far as he is skilled in grammar?” “Yes.” “Again, is a woman who is beautiful useful in so far as she is beautiful? And the use of beauty is to be enjoyed?” “Yes.” When this was admitted, he would press the argument to the conclusion, namely, that he who uses anything for the purpose for which it is useful does no wrong. And by some such interrogatories he would carry his point.

He appears to have been called θεός (god) in consequence of the following argument addressed to him by Stilpo. “Are you, Theodorus, what you declare yourself to be?” To this he assented, and Stilpo continued, “And do you say you are god?” To this he agreed. “Then it follows that you are god.” Theodorus accepted this, and Stilpo said with a smile, “But, you rascal, at this rate you would allow yourself to be a jackdaw and ten thousand other things.”

However, Theodorus, sitting on one occasion beside Euryclides, the hierophant, began, “Tell me, Euryclides, who they are who violate the mysteries?” Euryclides replied, “Those who disclose them to the uninitiated.” “Then you violate them,” said Theodorus, “when you explain them to the uninitiated.” Yet he would hardly have escaped from being brought before the Areopagus if Demetrius of Phalerum had not rescued him. And Amphicrates in his book Upon Illustrious Men says he was condemned to drink the hemlock.

For a while he stayed at the court of Ptolemy the son of Lagus, and was once sent by him as ambassador to Lysimachus. And on this occasion his language was so bold that Lysimachus said, “Tell me, are you not the Theodorus who was banished from Athens?” To which he replied, “Your information is correct, for, when Athens could not bear me any more than Semele could Dionysus, she cast me out.” And upon Lysimachus adding, “Take care you do not come here again,” “I never will,” said he, “unless Ptolemy sends me.” Mithras, the king’s minister, standing by and saying, “It seems that you can ignore not only gods but kings as well,” Theodorus replied, “How can you say that I ignore the gods when I regard you as hateful to the gods?” He is said on one occasion in Corinth to have walked abroad with a numerous train of pupils, and Metrocles the Cynic, who was washing chervil, remarked, “You, sophist that you are, would not have wanted all these pupils if you had washed vegetables.” Thereupon Theodorus retorted, “And you, if you had known how to associate with men, would have had no use for these vegetables.” A similar anecdote is told of Diogenes and Aristippus, as mentioned above.74

Such was the character of Theodorus and his surroundings. At last he retired to Cyrene, where he lived with Magas and continued to be held in high honour. The first time that he was expelled from Cyrene he is credited with a witty remark: “Many thanks,75 men of Cyrene,” said he, “for driving me from Libya into Greece.”

Some twenty persons have borne the name of Theodorus: (1) a Samian, the son of Rhoecus. He it was who advised laying charcoal embers under the foundations of the temple in Ephesus; for, as the ground was very damp, the ashes, being free from woody fibre, would retain a solidity which is actually proof against moisture. (2) A Cyrenaean geometer, whose lectures Plato attended. (3) The philosopher above referred to. (4) The author of a fine work on practising the voice. (5) An authority upon musical composers from Terpander onwards. (6) A Stoic. (7) A writer upon the Romans. (8) A Syracusan who wrote upon Tactics. (9) A Byzantine, famous for his political speeches. (10) Another, equally famous, mentioned by Aristotle in his Epitome of Orators. (11) A Theban sculptor. (12) A painter, mentioned by Polemo. (13) An Athenian painter, of whom Menodotus writes. (14) An Ephesian painter, who is mentioned by Theophanes in his work upon painting. (15) A poet who wrote epigrams. (16) A writer on poets. (17) A physician, pupil of Athenaeus. (18) A Stoic philosopher of Chios. (19) A Milesian, also a Stoic philosopher (20) A tragic poet.

63 Mem. ii. 1.

64 In the Introduction to the Phaedo, 59 c, Aristippus is said to have been in Aegina on the day when Socrates drank the hemlock. How little this justifies the use of the terms ἐκάκισεν and διαβάλλων may be seen from the previous statement in the Phaedo that Plato himself is said to have been absent through illness on that occasion. Notice that Diogenes Laertius refers to the Life of Plato as already written; see iii. 36.

65 Or “royal cynic.” It is impossible to preserve the double entendre here, for κύων, dog, also means “cynic”; in fact the very name of that sect proclaims that they gloried in their dog-like attributes, especially in snarling and biting.

66 Fr. 27 D.

67 This alludes to his doctrine of sensation, sometimes called “internal touch.” Compare infra §92, and more fully Sext. Emp. Adv. mathem. vii. 191. It has been paraphrased thus: “quae potuit tactu a falso discernere verum.”

68 Eur. Bacch. 836.

69 ib. 317.

70 Nauck, T.G.F., Soph. 789.

71 From a lost play of Sophocles: Plutarch, De audiendis poetis, 12, p. 33 d, Vita Pomp. 78, p. 661 s.f.

72 This sentence is a sort of preface to the valuable summary of Hedonistic tenets which occupies 86-99 under four heads, Aristippus (86-93), Hegesias (93-96), Anniceris (96, 97), and Theodorus (97-99). Cf. note on i. 19 and Epiphanius (Diels, Dox. Gr. 591). It seems as if the sentence τέλος δὲ . . . ἀναδιδομένην ought to follow, not to precede, this preface. But before the doctrines comes a list of disciples, including Hegesias, Anniceris, and Theodorus, whose divergencies from Aristippus are noted below. The intrusion of Phaedo and the Eretrians at this stage is certainly strange: it looks as if Diogenes Laertius jotted down a direction for his own future guidance.

73 If the city was so named after a Ptolemy, it is impossible that one of its citizens could have been contemporary with the first Aristippus, the companion of Socrates. Even if Aristippus II. was the teacher of Aethiops the difficulty is not removed.

74 See §68.

75 Or, if κακῶς is the right reading, “It is unkind of you.” καλῶς is Stephanus’s conjecture.


Phaedo was a native of Elis, of noble family, who on the fall of that city was taken captive and forcibly consigned to a house of ill-fame. But he would close the door and so contrive to join Socrates’ circle, and in the end Socrates induced Alcibiades or Crito with their friends to ransom him; from that time onwards he studied philosophy as became a free man. Hieronymus in his work On Suspense of Judgement attacks him and calls him a slave. Of the dialogues which bear his name the Zopyrus and Simon are genuine; the Nicias is doubtful; the Medius is said by some to be the work of Aeschines, while others ascribe it to Polyaenus; the Antimachus or The Elders is also doubted; the Cobblers’ Tales are also by some attributed to Aeschines.

He was succeeded by Plistanus of Elis, and a generation later by Menedemus of Eretria and Asclepiades of Phlius, who came over from Stilpo’s school. Till then the school was known as that of Elis, but from Menedemus onward it was called the Eretrian school. Of Menedemus we shall have to speak hereafter, because he too started a new school.


Euclides was a native of Megara on the Isthmus,76 or according to some of Gela, as Alexander states in his Successions of Philosophers. He applied himself to the writings of Parmenides, and his followers were called Megarians after him, then Eristics, and at a later date Dialecticians, that name having first been given to them by Dionysius of Chalcedon because they put their arguments into the form of question and answer. Hermodorus tells us that, after the death of Socrates, Plato and the rest of the philosophers came to him, being alarmed at the cruelty of the tyrants. He held the supreme good to be really one, though called by many names, sometimes wisdom, sometimes God, and again Mind, and so forth. But all that is contradictory of the good he used to reject, declaring that it had no existence.

When he impugned a demonstration, it was not the premisses but the conclusion that he attacked. He rejected the argument from analogy, declaring that it must be taken either from similars or from dissimilars. If it were drawn from similars, it is with these and not with their analogies that their arguments should deal; if from dissimilars, it is gratuitous to set them side by side. Hence Timon says of him, with a side hit at the other Socratics as well:77

But I care not for these babblers, nor for anyone besides, not for Phaedo whoever he be, nor wrangling Euclides, who inspired the Megarians with a frenzied love of controversy.

He wrote six dialogues, entitled Lamprias, Aeschines, Phoenix, Crito, Alcibiades, and a Discourse on Love. To the school of Euclides belongs Eubulides of Miletus, the author of many dialectical arguments in an interrogatory form, namely, The Liar, The Disguised, Electra, The Veiled Figure, The Sorites, The Horned One, and The Bald Head. Of him it is said by one of the Comic poets:78

Eubulides the Eristic, who propounded his quibbles about horns and confounded the orators with falsely pretentious arguments, is gone with all the braggadocio of a Demosthenes.

Demosthenes was probably his pupil and thereby improved his faulty pronunciation of the letter R. Eubulides kept up a controversy with Aristotle and said much to discredit him.

Among other members the school of Eubulides included Alexinus of Elis, a man very fond of controversy, for which reason he was called Elenxinus. In particular he kept up a controversy with Zeno. Hermippus says of him that he left Elis and removed to Olympia, where he studied philosophy. His pupils inquired why he took up his abode here, and were told that it was his intention to found a school which should be called the Olympian school. But as their provisions ran short and they found the place unhealthy, they left it, and for the rest of his days Alexinus lived in solitude with a single servant. And some time afterwards, as he was swimming in the Alpheus, the point of a reed ran into him, and of this injury he died.

I have composed the following lines upon him:79

It was not then a vain tale that once an unfortunate man, while diving, pierced his foot somehow with a nail; since that great man Alexinus, before he could cross the Alpheus, was pricked by a reed and met his death.

He has written not only a reply to Zeno but other works, including one against Ephorus the historian.

To the school of Eubulides also belonged Euphantus of Olynthus, who wrote a history of his own times. He was besides a poet and wrote several tragedies, with which he made a great reputation at the festivals. He taught King Antigonus80 and dedicated to him a work On Kingship which was very popular. He died of old age.

There are also other pupils of Eubulides, amongst them Apollonius surnamed Cronus. He had a pupil Diodorus, the son of Ameinias of Iasus, who was also nicknamed Cronus.81 Callimachus in his Epigrams says of him:

Momus himself chalked up on the walls “Cronus is wise.”

He too was a dialectician and was supposed to have been the first who discovered the arguments known as the “Veiled Figure” and the “Horned One.” When he was staying with Ptolemy Soter, he had certain dialectical questions addressed to him by Stilpo, and, not being able to solve them on the spot, he was reproached by the king and, among other slights, the nickname Cronus was applied to him by way of derision. He left the banquet and, after writing a pamphlet upon the logical problem, ended his days in despondency. Upon him too I have written lines:82

Diodorus Cronus, what sad fate Buried you in despair,

So that you hastened to the shades below, Perplexed by Stilpo’s quibbles?

You would deserve your name of Cronus better If C and R were gone.83

The successors of Euclides include Ichthyas, the son of Metallus, an excellent man, to whom Diogenes the Cynic has addressed one of his dialogues; Clinomachus of Thurii, who was the first to write about propositions, predications and the like; and Stilpo of Megara, a most distinguished philosopher, of whom we have now to treat.

76 So called to distinguish it from Megara Hyblaea, in Sicily.

77 Fr. 28 D.

78 Meineke. C.G F. iv. 618.

79 Anth. Plan. iii. 129.

80 i.e. Antigonus Doson, born 262 B.C. Cf. F.H.G. iii. 20.

81 See Strabo xiv. 658, who says the nickname was transferred from the teacher to the more celebrated pupil.

82 Anth. Plan. vii. 19.

83 Leaving ὄνος=“ass.”


Stilpo, a citizen of Megara in Greece, was a pupil of some of the followers of Euclides, although others make him a pupil of Euclides himself, and furthermore of Thrasymachus of Corinth, who was the friend of Ichthyas, according to Heraclides. And so far did he excel all the rest in inventiveness and sophistry that nearly the whole of Greece was attracted to him and joined the school of Megara. On this let me cite the exact words of Philippus the Megarian philosopher: “for from Theophrastus he drew away the theorist Metrodorus and Timagoras of Gela, from Aristotle the Cyrenaic philosopher, Clitarchus, and Simmias; and as for the dialecticians themselves, he gained over Paeonius from Aristides; Diphilus of Bosphorus, the son of Euphantus, and Myrmex, the son of Exaenetus, who had both come to refute him, he made his devoted adherents.” And besides these he won over Phrasidemus the Peripatetic, an accomplished physicist, and Alcimus the rhetorician, the first orator in all Greece; Crates, too, and many others he got into his toils, and, what is more, along with these, he carried off Zeno the Phoenician.

He was also an authority on politics.

He married a wife, and had a mistress named Nicarete, as Onetor has somewhere stated. He had a profligate daughter, who was married to his friend Simmias of Syracuse. And, as she would not live by rule, some one told Stilpo that she was a disgrace to him. To this he replied, “Not so, any more than I am an honour to her.”

Ptolemy Soter, they say, made much of him, and when he had got possession of Megara, offered him a sum of money and invited him to return with him to Egypt. But Stilpo would only accept a very moderate sum, and he declined the proposed journey, and removed to Aegina until Ptolemy set sail. Again, when Demetrius, the son of Antigonus, had taken Megara, he took measures that Stilpo’s house should be preserved and all his plundered property restored to him. But when he requested that a schedule of the lost property should be drawn up, Stilpo denied that he had lost anything which really belonged to him, for no one had taken away his learning, while he still had his eloquence and knowledge.

And conversing upon the duty of doing good to men he made such an impression on the king that he became eager to hear him. There is a story that he once used the following argument concerning the Athena of Phidias: “Is it not Athena the daughter of Zeus who is a goddess?” And when the other said “Yes,” he went on, “But this at least is not by Zeus but by Phidias,” and, this being granted, he concluded, “This then is not a god.” For this he was summoned before the Areopagus; he did not deny the charge, but contended that the reasoning was correct, for that Athena was no god but a goddess; it was the male divinities who were gods. However, the story goes that the Areopagites ordered him to quit the city, and that thereupon Theodorus, whose nickname was Θεός, said in derision, “Whence did Stilpo learn this? and how could he tell whether she was a god or a goddess?” But in truth Theodorus was most impudent, and Stilpo most ingenious.

When Crates asked him whether the gods take delight in prayers and adorations, he is said to have replied, “Don’t put such a question in the street, simpleton, but when we are alone!” It is said that Bion, when he was asked the same question whether there are gods, replied:

Will you not scatter the crowd from me, O much-enduring elder?

In character Stilpo was simple and unaffected, and he could readily adapt himself to the plain man. For instance, when Crates the Cynic did not answer the question put to him and only insulted the questioner, “I knew,” said Stilpo, “that you would utter anything rather than what you ought.” And once when Crates held out a fig to him when putting a question, he took the fig and ate it. Upon which the other exclaimed, “O Heracles, I have lost the fig,” and Stilpo remarked, “Not only that but your question as well, for which the fig was payment in advance.” Again, on seeing Crates shrivelled with cold in the winter, he said, “You seem to me, Crates, to want a new coat,” i.e. to be wanting in sense as well.84 And the other being annoyed replied with the following burlesque:85

And Stilpo I saw enduring toilsome woes in Megara, where men say that the bed of Typhos is. There he would ever be wrangling, and many comrades about him, wasting time in the verbal pursuit of virtue.

It is said that at Athens he so attracted the public that people would run together from the workshops to look at him. And when some one said, “Stilpo, they stare at you as if you were some strange creature.” “No, indeed,” said he, “but as if I were a genuine man.” And, being a consummate master of controversy, he used to demolish even the ideas, and say that he who asserted the existence of Man meant no individual; he did not mean this man or that. For why should he mean the one more than the other? Therefore neither does he mean this individual man. Again, “vegetable” is not what is shown to me, for vegetable existed ten thousand years ago. Therefore this is not vegetable. The story goes that while in the middle of an argument with Crates he hurried off to buy fish, and, when Crates tried to detain him and urged that he was leaving the argument, his answer was, “Not I. I keep the argument though I am leaving you; for the argument will remain, but the fish will soon be sold.”

Nine dialogues of his are extant written in frigid style, Moschus, Aristippus or Callias, Ptolemy, Chaerecrates, Metrocles, Anaximenes, Epigenes, To his Daughter, Aristotle. Heraclides relates that Zeno, the founder of the Stoic school, was one of Stilpo’s pupils;86 Hermippus that Stilpo died at a great age after taking wine to hasten his end.

I have written an epitaph on him also:87

Surely you know Stilpo the Megarian; old age and then disease laid him low, a formidable pair. But he found in wine a charioteer too strong for that evil team; he quaffed it eagerly and was borne along.

He was also ridiculed by Sophilus the Comic poet in his drama The Wedding:88

What Charinus says is just Stilpo’s stoppers.

84 The pun upon καινοῦ (“new”) and καὶ νοῦ (“mind as well”) recurs vi. 3.

85 Anth. Plan. Add. v. 13 b.

86 Compare the anecdote in vii. 24 from Apollonius of Tyre.

87 Anth. Plan. v. 42.

88 Meineke, C.G.F. iv. 386, s.v. Diphilus.


Crito was a citizen of Athens. He was most affectionate in his disposition towards Socrates, and took such care of him that none of his wants were left unsupplied. Further, his sons Critobulus, Hermogenes, Epigenes and Ctesippus were pupils of Socrates. Crito too wrote seventeen dialogues which are extant in a single volume under the titles:

That men are not made good by instruction.


Simon was a citizen of Athens and a cobbler. When Socrates came to his workshop and began to converse, he used to make notes of all that he could remember. And this is why people apply the term “leathern” to his dialogues. These dialogues are thirty-three in number, extant in a single volume:

Others are:

He was the first, so we are told, who introduced the Socratic dialogues as a form of conversation. When Pericles promised to support him and urged him to come to him, his reply was, “I will not part with my free speech for money.”

There was another Simon, who wrote treatises On Rhetoric; another, a physician, in the time of Seleucus Nicanor; and a third who was a sculptor.


Glaucon was a citizen of Athens. Nine dialogues of his are extant in a single volume:

There are also extant thirty-two others, which are considered spurious.


Simmias was a citizen of Thebes. Twenty-three dialogues of his are extant in a single volume:


Cebes was a citizen of Thebes. Three dialogues of his are extant:


Menedemus belonged to Phaedo’s school; he was the son of Clisthenes, a member of the clan called the Theopropidae, of good family, though a builder and a poor man; others say that he was a scenepainter and that Menedemus learnt both trades. Hence, when he had proposed a decree, a certain Alexinius attacked him, declaring that the philosopher was not a proper person to design either a scene or a decree. When Menedemus was dispatched by the Eretrians to Megara on garrison duty, he paid a visit to Plato at the Academy and was so captivated that he abandoned the service of arms. Asclepiades of Phlius drew him away, and he lived at Megara with Stilpo, whose lectures they both attended.

Thence they sailed to Elis, where they joined Anchipylus and Moschus of the school of Phaedo. Down to their time, as was stated in the Life of Phaedo, the school was called the Elian school. Afterwards it was called the Eretrian school, from the city to which my subject belonged.

It would appear that Menedemus was somewhat pompous. Hence Crates burlesques him thus:89

Asclepiades the sage of Phlius and the Eretrian bull;

and Timon as follows:90

A puffing, supercilious purveyor of humbug.

He was a man of such dignity that, when Eurylochus of Casandrea was invited by Antigonus to court along with Cleïppides, a youth of Cyzicus, he declined the invitation, being afraid that Menedemus would hear of it, so caustic and outspoken was he. When a young gallant would have taken liberties with him, he said not a word but picked up a twig and drew an insulting picture on the ground, until all eyes were attracted and the young man, perceiving the insult, made off. When Hierocles, who was in command of the Piraeus, walked up and down along with him in the shrine of Amphiaraus, and talked much of the capture of Eretria, he made no other reply beyond asking him what Antigonus’s object was in treating him as he did.

To an adulterer who was giving himself airs he said, “Do you not know that, if cabbage has a good flavour, so for that matter has radish?” Hearing a youth who was very noisy, he said, “See what there is behind you.” When Antigonus consulted him as to whether he should go to a rout, he sent a message to say no more than this, that he was the son of a king. When a stupid fellow related something to him with no apparent object, he inquired if he had a farm. And hearing that he had, and that there was a large stock of cattle on it, he said, “Then go and look after them, lest it should happen that they are ruined and a clever farmer thrown away.” To one who inquired if the good man ever married, he replied, “Do you think me good or not?” The reply being in the affirmative, he said, “Well, I am married.” Of one who affirmed that there were many good things, he inquired how many, and whether he thought there were more than a hundred. Not being able to curb the extravagance of some one who had invited him to dinner, he said nothing when he was invited, but rebuked his host tacitly by confining himself to olives. However, on account of this freedom of speech he was in great peril in Cyprus with his friend Asclepiades when staying at the court of Nicocreon. For when the king held the usual monthly feast and invited these two along with the other philosophers, we are told that Menedemus said that, if the gathering of such men was a good thing, the feast ought to have been held every day; if not, then it was superfluous even on the present occasion. The tyrant having replied to this by saying that on this day he had the leisure to hear philosophers, he pressed the point still more stubbornly, declaring, while the feast was going on, that any and every occasion should be employed in listening to philosophers. The consequence was that, if a certain flute-player had not got them away, they would have been put to death. Hence when they were in a storm in the boat Asclepiades is reported to have said that the fluteplayer through good playing had proved their salvation when the free speech of Menedemus had been their undoing.

He shirked work, it is said, and was indifferent to the fortunes of his school. At least no order could be seen in his classes, and no circle of benches; but each man would listen where he happened to be, walking or sitting, Menedemus himself behaving in the same way. In other respects he is said to have been nervous and careful of his reputation; so much so that, when Menedemus himself and Asclepiades were helping a man who had formerly been a builder to build a house, whereas Asclepiades appeared stripped on the roof passing the mortar, Menedemus would try to hide himself as often as he saw anyone coming. After he took part in public affairs, he was so nervous that, when offering the frankincense, he would actually miss the censer. And once, when Crates stood about him and attacked him for meddling in politics, he ordered certain men to have Crates locked up. But Crates none the less watched him as he went by and, standing on tiptoe, called him a pocket Agamemnon and Hegesipolis.

He was also in a way rather superstitious. At all events once, when he was at an inn with Asclepiades and had inadvertently eaten some meat which had been thrown away, he turned sick and pale when he learnt the fact, until Asclepiades rebuked him, saying that it was not the meat which disturbed him but merely his suspicion of it. In all other respects he was magnanimous and liberal. In his habit of body, even in old age, he was as firm and sunburnt in appearance as any athlete, being stout and always in the pink of condition; in stature he was wellproportioned, as may be seen from the statuette in the ancient Stadium at Eretria. For it represents him, intentionally no doubt, almost naked, and displays the greater part of his body.

He was fond of entertaining and used to collect numerous parties about him because Eretria was unhealthy; amongst these there would be parties of poets and musicians. He welcomed Aratus also and Lycophron the tragic poet, and Antagoras of Rhodes, but, above all, he applied himself to the study of Homer and, next, the Lyric poets; then to Sophocles, and also to Achaeus, to whom he assigned the second place as a writer of satiric dramas, giving Aeschylus the first. Hence he quoted against his political opponents the following lines:91

Ere long the swift is overtaken by the feeble,

And the eagle by the tortoise,

which are from the Omphale, a satiric drama of Achaeus. Therefore it is a mistake to say that he had read nothing except the Medea of Euripides, which some have asserted to be the work of Neophron of Sicyon.

He despised the teachers of the school of Plato and Xenocrates as well as the Cyrenaic philosopher Paraebates. He had a great admiration for Stilpo; and on one occasion, when he was questioned about him, he made no other answer than that he was a gentleman. Menedemus was difficult to see through, and in making a bargain it was difficult to get the better of him. He would twist and turn in every direction, and he excelled in inventing objections. He was a great controversialist, according to Antisthenes in his Successions of Philosophers. In particular he was fond of using the following argument: “Is the one of two things different from the other?” “Yes.” “And is conferring benefits different from the good?” “Yes.” “Then to confer benefits is not good.”

It is said that he disallowed negative propositions, converting them into affirmatives, and of these he admitted simple propositions only, rejecting those which are not simple, I mean hypothetical and complex propositions. Heraclides declares that, although in his doctrines he was a Platonist, yet he made sport of dialectic. So that, when Alexinus once inquired if he had left off beating his father, his answer was, “Why, I was not beating him and have not left off”; and upon Alexinus insisting that he ought to have cleared up the ambiguity by a plain “Yes” or “No,” “It would be absurd,” he said, “for me to conform to your rules when I can stop you on the threshold.” And when Bion persistently ran down the soothsayers, Menedemus said he was slaying the slain.

On hearing some one say that the greatest good was to get all you want, he rejoined, “To want the right things is a far greater good.” Antigonus of Carystus asserts that he never wrote or composed anything, and so never held firmly by any doctrine. He adds that in discussing questions he was so pugnacious that he would only retire after he had been badly mauled. And yet, though he was so violent in debate, he was as mild as possible in his conduct. For instance, though he made sport of Alexinus and bantered him cruelly, he was nevertheless very kind to him, for, when his wife was afraid that on her journey she might be set upon and robbed, he gave her an escort from Delphi to Chalcis.

He was a very warm friend, as is shown by his affection for Asclepiades, which was hardly inferior to the devotion shown by Pylades. But, Asclepiades being the elder, it was said that he was the playwright and Menedemus the actor. They say that once, when Archipolis had given them a cheque for half a talent, they stickled so long over the point as to whose claim came second that neither of them got the money. It is said that they married a mother and her daughter; Asclepiades married the daughter and Menedemus the mother. But after the death of his own wife, Asclepiades took the wife of Menedemus; and afterwards the latter, when he became head of the state, married a rich woman as his second wife. Nevertheless, as they kept one household, Menedemus entrusted his former wife with the care of his establishment. However, Asclepiades died first at a great age at Eretria, having lived with Menedemus economically, though they had ample means. Some time afterwards a favourite of Asclepiades, having come to a party and being refused admittance by the pupils, Menedemus ordered them to admit him, saying that even now, when under the earth, Asclepiades opened the door for him. It was Hipponicus the Macedonian and Agetor of Lamia who were their chief supporters; the one gave each of the two thirty minae, while Hipponicus furnished Menedemus with two thousand drachmae with which to portion his daughters. There were three of them according to Heraclides, his children by a wife who was a native of Oropus.

He used to give his parties in this fashion: he would breakfast beforehand with two or three friends and stay until it was late in the day. And in the next place some one would summon the guests who had arrived and who had themselves already dined, so that, if anyone came too soon, he would walk up and down and inquire from those who came out of the house what was on the table and what o’clock it was. If then it was only vegetables or salt fish, they would depart; but if there was meat, they would enter the house. In the summer time a rush mat was put upon each couch, in winter time a sheepskin. The guest brought his own cushion. The loving-cup which was passed round was no larger than a pint cup. The dessert consisted of lupins or beans, sometimes of ripe fruit such as pears, pomegranates, a kind of pulse, or even dried figs. All of these facts are mentioned by Lycophron in his satiric drama entitled Menedemus, which was composed as a tribute to him. Here is a specimen of it:92

And after a temperate feast the modest cup was passed round with discretion, and their dessert was temperate discourse for such as cared to listen.

At first he was despised, being called a cynic and a humbug by the Eretrians. But afterwards he was greatly admired, so much so that they entrusted him with the government of the state. He was sent as envoy to Ptolemy and to Lysimachus, being honoured wherever he went. He was, moreover, envoy to Demetrius, and he caused the yearly tribute of two hundred talents which the city used to pay Demetrius to be reduced by fifty talents. And when he was accused to Demetrius of intriguing to hand over the city to Ptolemy, he defended himself in a letter which commences thus: “Menedemus to King Demetrius, greeting. I hear that a report has reached you concerning me.” There is a tradition that one Aeschylus who belonged to the opposite party had made these charges against him. He seems to have behaved with the utmost dignity in the embassy to Demetrius on the subject of Oropus, as Euphantus relates in his Histories. Antigonus too was much attached to him and used to proclaim himself his pupil. And when he vanquished the barbarians near the town of Lysimachia, Menedemus moved a decree in his honour in simple terms and free from flattery, beginning thus: “On the motion of the generals and the councillors – Whereas King Antigonus is returning to his own country after vanquishing the barbarians in battle, and whereas in all his undertakings he prospers according to his will, the senate and the people have decreed . . . ”

On these grounds, then, and from his friendship for him in other matters, he was suspected of betraying the city to Antigonus, and, being denounced by Aristodemus, withdrew from Eretria and stayed awhile in Oropus in the temple of Amphiaraus. And, because some golden goblets were missing from the temple, he was ordered to depart by a general vote of the Boeotians, as is stated by Hermippus; and thereupon in despair, after a secret visit to his native city, he took with him his wife and daughters and came to the court of Antigonus, where he died of a broken heart.

Heraclides tells quite another story, that he was made councillor of the Eretrians and more than once saved the city from a tyranny by calling in Demetrius – so then he would not be likely to betray the city to Antigonus, but was made the victim of a false charge; that he betook himself to Antigonus and was anxious to regain freedom for his country; that, as Antigonus would not give way, in despair he put an end to his life by abstaining from food for seven days. The account of Antigonus of Carystus is similar.93 With Persaeus alone he carried on open warfare, for it was thought that, when Antigonus was willing for Menedemus’s sake to restore to the Eretrians their democracy, Persaeus prevented him. Hence on one occasion over the wine Menedemus refuted Persaeus in argument and said, amongst other things, “Such he is as a philosopher but, as a man, the worst of all that are alive or to be born hereafter.”

According to the statement of Heraclides he died in his seventy-fourth year. I have written the following epigram upon him:94

I heard of your fate, Menedemus, how, of your own free will, you expired by starving yourself for seven days, a deed right worthy of an Eretrian, but unworthy of a man; but despair was your leader and urged you on.

These then are the disciples of Socrates or their immediate successors. We must now pass to Plato, the founder of the Academy, and his successors, so far as they were men of reputation.

89 Fr. 2 D.

90 Fr. 29 D.

91 Nauck, T.G.F. ², Achaeus, 34.

92 Nauck, T.G.F. ² p. 818.

93 Antigonus of Carystus (see Introd. p. xxiii) is the older authority, from whom Heraclides (probably Heraclides Lembos) directly or indirectly derived his information.

94 Anth. Plan. v. 40.

Book III


Plato was the son of Ariston and a citizen of Athens. His mother was Perictione (or Potone), who traced back her descent to Solon. For Solon had a brother, Dropides; he was the father of Critias, who was the father of Callaeschrus, who was the father of Critias, one of the Thirty, as well as of Glaucon, who was the father of Charmides and Perictione. Thus Plato, the son of this Perictione and Ariston, was in the sixth generation from Solon. And Solon traced his descent to Neleus and Poseidon. His father too is said to be in the direct line from Codrus, the son of Melanthus, and, according to Thrasylus, Codrus and Melanthus also trace their descent from Poseidon.

Speusippus in the work entitled Plato’s Funeral Feast, Clearchus in his Encomium on Plato, and Anaxilaïdes in his second book On Philosophers, tell us that there was a story at Athens that Ariston made violent love to Perictione, then in her bloom, and failed to win her; and that, when he ceased to offer violence, Apollo appeared to him in a dream, whereupon he left her unmolested until her child was born.

Apollodorus in his Chronology fixes the date of Plato’s birth in the 88th Olympiad, on the seventh day of the month Thargelion, the same day on which the Delians say that Apollo himself was born. He died, according to Hermippus, at a wedding feast, in the first year of the 108th Olympiad, in his eightyfirst year.1 Neanthes, however, makes him die at the age of eighty-four. He is thus seen to be six years the junior of Isocrates. For Isocrates was born in the archonship of Lysimachus,2 Plato in that of Ameinias, the year of Pericles’ death.3 He belonged to the deme Collytus, as is stated by Antileon in his second book On Dates. He was born, according to some, in Aegina, in the house of Phidiades, the son of Thales, as Favorinus states in his Miscellaneous History, for his father had been sent along with others to Aegina to settle in the island, but returned to Athens when the Athenians were expelled by the Lacedaemonians, who championed the Aeginetan cause. That Plato acted as choregus at Athens, the cost being defrayed by Dion, is stated by Athenodorus in the eighth book of a work entitled Walks. He had two brothers, Adeimantus and Glaucon, and a sister, Potone, who was the mother of Speusippus.

He was taught letters in the school of Dionysius, who is mentioned by him in the Rivals. And he learnt gymnastics under Ariston, the Argive wrestler. And from him he received the name of Plato on account of his robust figure, in place of his original name which was Aristocles, after his grandfather, as Alexander informs us in his Successions of Philosophers. But others affirm that he got the name Plato from the breadth of his style, or from the breadth of his forehead, as suggested by Neanthes. Others again affirm that he wrestled in the Isthmian Games – this is stated by Dicaearchus in his first book On Lives and that he applied himself to painting and wrote poems, first dithyrambs, afterwards lyric poems and tragedies. He had, they say, a weak voice; this is confirmed by Timotheus the Athenian in his book On Lives. It is stated that Socrates in a dream saw a cygnet on his knees, which all at once put forth plumage, and flew away after uttering a loud sweet note. And the next day Plato was introduced as a pupil, and thereupon he recognized in him the swan of his dream.4

At first he used to study philosophy in the Academy, and afterwards in the garden at Colonus (as Alexander states in his Successions of Philosophers), as a follower of Heraclitus. Afterwards, when he was about to compete for the prize with a tragedy, he listened to Socrates in front of the theatre of Dionysus,5 and then consigned his poems to the flames, with the words:6

Come hither, O fire-god, Plato now has need of thee.7

From that time onward, having reached his twentieth year (so it is said), he was the pupil of Socrates. When Socrates was gone, he attached himself to Cratylus the Heraclitean, and to Hermogenes who professed the philosophy of Parmenides. Then at the age of twenty-eight, according to Hermodorus, he withdrew to Megara to Euclides, with certain other disciples of Socrates. Next he proceeded to Cyrene on a visit to Theodorus the mathematician, thence to Italy to see the Pythagorean philosophers Philolaus and Eurytus, and thence to Egypt to see those who interpreted the will of the gods; and Euripides is said to have accompanied him thither. There he fell sick and was cured by the priests, who treated him with sea-water, and for this reason he cited the line:8

The sea doth wash away all human ills.

Furthermore he said that, according to Homer,9 beyond all men the Egyptians were skilled in healing. Plato also intended to make the acquaintance of the Magians, but was prevented by the wars in Asia. Having returned to Athens, he lived in the Academy, which is a gymnasium outside the walls, in a grove named after a certain hero, Hecademus, as is stated by Eupolis in his play entitled Shirkers:10

In the shady walks of the divine Hecademus.

Moreover, there are verses of Timon which refer to Plato:11

Amongst all of them Plato was the leader, a big fish, but a sweet-voiced speaker, musical in prose as the cicala who, perched on the trees of Hecademus, pours forth a strain as delicate as a lily.

Thus the original name of the place was Hecademy, spelt with e. Now Plato was a friend of Isocrates. And Praxiphanes makes them converse about poets at a country-seat where Plato was entertaining Isocrates. And Aristoxenus asserts that he went on service three times, first to Tanagra, secondly to Corinth, and thirdly at Delium, where also he obtained the prize of valour. He mixed together doctrines of Heraclitus, the Pythagoreans and Socrates. In his doctrine of sensible things he agrees with Heraclitus, in his doctrine of the intelligible with Pythagoras, and in political philosophy with Socrates.

Some authorities, amongst them Satyrus, say that he wrote to Dion in Sicily instructing him to purchase three Pythagorean books from Philolaus for 100 minae. For they say he was well off, having received from Dionysius over eighty talents. This is stated by Onetor in an essay upon the theme, “Whether a wise man will make money.” Further, he derived great assistance from Epicharmus the Comic poet, for he transcribed a great deal from him, as Alcimus says in the essays dedicated to Amyntas, of which there are four. In the first of them he writes thus:

“It is evident that Plato often employs the words of Epicharmus.12 Just consider. Plato asserts that the object of sense is that which never abides in quality or quantity, but is ever in flux and change. The assumption is that the things from which you take away number are no longer equal nor determinate, nor have they quantity or quality. These are the things to which becoming always, and being never, belongs. But the object of thought is something constant from which nothing is subtracted, to which nothing is added. This is the nature of the eternal things, the attribute of which is to be ever alike and the same. And indeed Epicharmus has expressed himself plainly about objects of sense and objects of thought.

a. But gods there always were; never at any time were they wanting, while things in this world are always alike, and are brought about through the same agencies.

b. Yet it is said that Chaos was the first-born of the gods.

a. How so? If indeed there was nothing out of which, or into which, it could come first.

b. What! Then did nothing come first after all?

a. No, by Zeus, nor second either, at least of the things which we are thus talking about now; on the contrary, they existed from all eternity..  . .

a. But suppose some one chooses to add a single pebble to a heap containing either an odd or an even number, whichever you please, or to take away one of those already there; do you think the number of pebbles would remain the same?

b. Not I.

a. Nor yet, if one chooses to add to a cubit-measure another length,13 or cut off some of what was there already, would the original measure still exist?

b. Of course not.

a. Now consider mankind in this same way. One man grows, and another again shrinks; and they are all undergoing change the whole time. But a thing which naturally changes and never remains in the same state must ever be different from that which has thus changed. And even so you and I were one pair of men yesterday, are another to-day, and again will be another to-morrow, and will never remain ourselves, by this same argument.”

Again, Alcimus makes this further statement: “There are some things, say the wise, which the soul perceives through the body, as in seeing and hearing; there are other things which it discerns by itself without the aid of the body. Hence it follows that of existing things some are objects of sense and others objects of thought. Hence Plato said that, if we wish to take in at one glance the principles underlying the universe, we must first distinguish the ideas by themselves, for example, likeness, unity and plurality, magnitude, rest and motion; next we must assume the existence of beauty, goodness, justice and the like, each existing in and for itself; in the third place we must see how many of the ideas are relative to other ideas, as are knowledge, or magnitude, or ownership, remembering that the things within our experience bear the same names as those ideas because they partake of them; I mean that things which partake of justice are just, things which partake of beauty are beautiful. Each one of the ideas is eternal, it is a notion, and moreover is incapable of change. Hence Plato says that they stand in nature like archetypes, and that all things else bear a resemblance to the ideas because they are copies of these archetypes. Now here are the words of Epicharmus about the good and about the ideas:

a. Is flute-playing a thing?

b. Most certainly.

a. Is man then flute-playing?

b. By no means.

a. Come, let me see, what is a flute-player? Whom do you take him to be? Is he not a man?

b. Most certainly.

a. Well, don’t you think the same would be the case with the good? Is not the good in itself a thing? And does not he who has learnt that thing and knows it at once become good? For, just as he becomes a flute-player by learning flute-playing, or a dancer when he has learnt dancing, or a plaiter when he has learnt plaiting, in the same way, if he has learnt anything of the sort, whatever you like, he would not be one with the craft but he would be the craftsman.

Now Plato in conceiving his theory of Ideas says:14 Since there is such a thing as memory, there must be ideas present in things, because memory is of something stable and permanent, and nothing is permanent except the ideas. ‘For how,’ he says, ‘could animals have survived unless they had apprehended the idea and had been endowed by Nature with intelligence to that end? As it is, they remember similarities and what their food is like, which shows that animals have the innate power of discerning what is similar. And hence they perceive others of their own kind.’ How then does Epicharmus put it?

Wisdom is not confined, Eumaeus, to one kind alone, but all living creatures likewise have understanding. For, if you will study intently the hen among poultry, she does not bring forth the chicks alive, but sits clucking on the eggs and wakens life in them. As for this wisdom of hers, the true state of the case is known to Nature alone, for the hen has learnt it from herself.

And again:

It is no wonder then that we talk thus and are pleased with ourselves and think we are fine folk. For a dog appears the fairest of things to a dog, an ox to an ox, an ass to an ass, and verily a pig to a pig.”

These and the like instances Alcimus notes through four books, pointing out the assistance derived by Plato from Epicharmus. That Epicharmus himself was fully conscious of his wisdom can also be seen from the lines in which he foretells that he will have an imitator:15

And as I think – for when I think anything I know it full well – that my words will some day be remembered; some one will take them and free them from the metre in which they are now set, nay, will give them instead a purple robe, embroidering it with fine phrases; and, being invincible, he will make every one else an easy prey.

Plato, it seems, was the first to bring to Athens the mimes of Sophron which had been neglected, and to draw characters in the style of that writer; a copy of the mimes, they say, was actually found under his pillow. He made three voyages to Sicily, the first time to see the island and the craters of Etna: on this occasion Dionysius, the son of Hermocrates, being on the throne, forced him to become intimate with him. But when Plato held forth on tyranny and maintained that the interest of the ruler alone was not the best end, unless he were also pre-eminent in virtue, he offended Dionysius, who in his anger exclaimed, “You talk like an old dotard.” “And you like a tyrant,” rejoined Plato. At this the tyrant grew furious and at first was bent on putting him to death; then, when he had been dissuaded from this by Dion and Aristomenes, he did not indeed go so far but handed him over to Pollis the Lacedaemonian, who had just then arrived on an embassy, with orders to sell him into slavery.

And Pollis took him to Aegina and there offered him for sale. And then Charmandrus, the son of Charmandrides, indicted him on a capital charge according to the law in force among the Aeginetans, to the effect that the first Athenian who set foot upon the island should be put to death without a trial. This law had been passed by the prosecutor himself, according to Favorinus in his Miscellaneous History. But when some one urged, though in jest, that the offender was a philosopher, the court acquitted him. There is another version to the effect that he was brought before the assembly and, being kept under close scrutiny, he maintained an absolute silence and awaited the issue with confidence. The assembly decided not to put him to death but to sell him just as if he were a prisoner of war.

Anniceris the Cyrenaic happened to be present and ransomed him for twenty minae – according to others the sum was thirty minae – and dispatched him to Athens to his friends, who immediately remitted the money. But Anniceris declined it, saying that the Athenians were not the only people worthy of the privilege of providing for Plato. Others assert that Dion sent the money and that Anniceris would not take it, but bought for Plato the little garden which is in the Academy. Pollis, however, is stated to have been defeated by Chabrias and afterwards to have been drowned at Helice,16 his treatment of the philosopher having provoked the wrath of heaven, as Favorinus says in the first book of his Memorabilia. Dionysius, indeed, could not rest. On learning the facts he wrote and enjoined upon Plato not to speak evil of him. And Plato replied that he had not the leisure to keep Dionysius in his mind.

The second time he visited the younger Dionysius, requesting of him lands and settlers for the realization of his republic. Dionysius promised them but did not keep his word. Some say that Plato was also in great danger, being suspected of encouraging Dion and Theodotas in a scheme for liberating the whole island; on this occasion Archytas the Pythagorean wrote to Dionysius, procured his pardon, and got him conveyed safe to Athens. The letter runs as follows:

“Archytas to Dionysius, wishing him good health.

“We, being all of us the friends of Plato, have sent to you Lamiscus and Photidas in order to take the philosopher away by the terms of the agreement made with you. You will do well to remember the zeal with which you urged us all to secure Plato’s coming to Sicily, determined as you were to persuade him and to undertake, amongst other things, responsibility for his safety so long as he stayed with you and on his return. Remember this too, that you set great store by his coming, and from that time had more regard for him than for any of those at your court. If he has given you offence, it behoves you to behave with humanity and restore him to us unhurt. By so doing you will satisfy justice and at the same time put us under an obligation.”

The third time he came to reconcile Dion and Dionysius, but, failing to do so, returned to his own country without achieving anything. And there he refrained from meddling with politics, although his writings show that he was a statesman. The reason was that the people had already been accustomed to measures and institutions quite different from his own. Pamphila in the twenty-fifth book of her Memorabilia says that the Arcadians and Thebans, when they were founding Megalopolis, invited Plato to be their legislator; but that, when he discovered that they were opposed to equality of possessions, he refused to go.17 There is a story that he pleaded for Chabrias the general when he was tried for his life, although no one else at Athens would do so, and that, on this occasion, as he was going up to the Acropolis along with Chabrias, Crobylus the informer met him and said, “What, are you come to speak for the defence? Don’t you know that the hemlock of Socrates awaits you?” To this Plato replied, “As I faced dangers when serving in the cause of my country, so I will face them now in the cause of duty for a friend.”

He was the first to introduce argument by means of question and answer, says Favorinus in the eighth book of his Miscellaneous History; he was the first to explain to Leodamas of Thasos the method of solving problems by analysis;18 and the first who in philosophical discussion employed the terms antipodes, element, dialectic, quality, oblong number, and, among boundaries, the plane superficies; also divine providence.

He was also the first philosopher who controverted the speech of Lysias, the son of Cephalus, which he has set out word for word in the Phaedrus,19 and the first to study the significance of grammar. And, as he was the first to attack the views of almost all his predecessors, the question is raised why he makes no mention of Democritus. Neanthes of Cyzicus says that, on his going to Olympia, the eyes of all the Greeks were turned towards him, and there he met Dion, who was about to make his expedition against Dionysius. In the first book of the Memorabilia of Favorinus there is a statement that Mithradates the Persian set up a statue of Plato in the Academy and inscribed upon it these words: “Mithradates the Persian, the son of Orontobates, dedicated to the Muses a likeness of Plato made by Silanion.”

Heraclides declares that in his youth he was so modest and orderly that he was never seen to laugh outright. In spite of this he too was ridiculed by the Comic poets. At any rate Theopompus in his Hedychares says:20

There is not anything that is truly one, even the number two is scarcely one, according to Plato.

Moreover, Anaxandrides21 in his Theseus says:

He was eating olives exactly like Plato.

Then there is Timon who puns on his name thus:22

As Plato placed strange platitudes.

Alexis again in the Meropis:23

You have come in the nick of time. For I am at my wits’ end and walking up and down, like Plato, and yet have discovered no wise plan but only tired my legs.

And in the Ancylion:24

You don’t know what you are talking about: run about with Plato, and you’ll know all about soap and onions.

Amphis,25 too, in the Amphicrates says:

a. And as for the good, whatever that be, that you are likely to get on her account, I know no more about it, master, than I do of the good of Plato.
b. Just attend.

And in the Dexidemides:26

O Plato, all you know is how to frown with eyebrows lifted high like any snail.

Cratinus,27 too, in The False Changeling:

a. Clearly you are a man and have a soul.

b. In Plato’s words, I am not sure but suspect that I have.

And Alexis in the Olympiodorus:28

a. My mortal body withered up, my immortal part sped into the air.

b. Is not this a lecture of Plato’s?

And in the Parasite:29

Or, with Plato, to converse alone.

Anaxilas,30 again, in the Botrylion, and in Circe and Rich Women, has a gibe at him.

Aristippus in his fourth book On the Luxury of the Ancients says that he was attached to a youth named Aster, who joined him in the study of astronomy, as also to Dion who has been mentioned above, and, as some aver, to Phaedrus too. His passionate affection is revealed in the following epigrams which he is said to have written upon them:31

Star-gazing Aster, would I were the skies,

To gaze upon thee with a thousand eyes.

And another:

Among the living once the Morning Star,

Thou shin’st, now dead, like Hesper from afar.

And he wrote thus upon Dion:32

Tears from their birth the lot had been

Of Ilium’s daughters and their queen.

By thee, O Dion, great deeds done

New hopes and larger promise won.

Now here thou liest gloriously,

How deeply loved, how mourned by me.

This, they say, was actually inscribed upon his tomb at Syracuse.

Again, it is said that being enamoured of Alexis and Phaedrus, as before mentioned, he composed the following lines:33

Now, when Alexis is of no account, I have said no more than this. He is fair to see, and everywhere all eyes are turned upon him. Why, my heart, do you show the dogs a bone? And then will you smart for this hereafter? Was it not thus that we lost Phaedrus?

He is also credited with a mistress, Archeanassa, upon whom he wrote as follows:34

I have a mistress, fair Archeanassa of Colophon, on whose very wrinkles sits hot love. O hapless ye who met such beauty on its first voyage, what a flame must have been kindled in you!

There is another upon Agathon:35

While kissing Agathon, my soul leapt to my lips, as if fain, alas! to pass over to him.

And another:36

I throw an apple to you and, if indeed you are willing to love me, then receive it and let me taste your virgin charms. But if you are otherwise minded, which heaven forbid, take this very apple and see how short-lived all beauty is.

And another:37

An apple am I, thrown by one who loves you. Nay, Xanthippe, give consent, for you and I are both born to decay.

It is also said that the epigram on the Eretrians, who were swept out of the country, was written by him:38

We are Eretrians by race, from Euboea, and lie near Susa. How far, alas, from our native land!

And again:39

Thus Venus to the Muses spoke:

Damsels, submit to Venus’ yoke,

Or dread my Cupid’s arms.

Those threats, the virgins nine replied,

May weigh with Mars, but we deride

Love’s wrongs, or darts, or charms.

And again:40

A certain person found some gold,

Carried it off and, in its stead,

Left a strong halter, neatly rolled.

The owner found his treasure fled,

And, daunted by his fortune’s wreck,

Fitted the halter to his neck.

Further, Molon, being his enemy, said, “It is not wonderful that Dionysius should be in Corinth, but rather that Plato should be in Sicily.” And it seems that Xenophon was not on good terms with him. At any rate, they have written similar narratives as if out of rivalry with each other, a Symposium, a Defence of Socrates, and their moral treatises or Memorabilia.41 Next, the one wrote a Republic, the other a Cyropaedia. And in the Laws42 Plato declares the story of the education of Cyrus to be a fiction, for that Cyrus did not answer to the description of him. And although both make mention of Socrates, neither of them refers to the other, except that Xenophon mentions Plato in the third book of his Memorabilia. It is said also that Antisthenes, being about to read publicly something that he had composed, invited Plato to be present. And on his inquiring what he was about to read, Antisthenes replied that it was something about the impossibility of contradiction. “How then,” said Plato, “can you write on this subject?” thus showing him that the argument refutes itself. Thereupon he wrote a dialogue against Plato and entitled it Sathon. After this they continued to be estranged from one another. They say that, on hearing Plato read the Lysis, Socrates exclaimed, “By Heracles, what a number of lies this young man is telling about me!” For he has included in the dialogue much that Socrates never said.

Plato was also on bad terms with Aristippus. At least in the dialogue Of the Soul43 he disparages him by saying that he was not present at the death of Socrates, though he was no farther off than Aegina. Again, they say that he showed a certain jealousy of Aeschines, because of his reputation with Dionysius, and that, when he arrived at the court, he was despised by Plato because of his poverty, but supported by Aristippus. And Idomeneus asserts that the arguments used by Crito, when in the prison he urges Socrates to escape, are really due to Aeschines, and that Plato transferred them to Crito because of his enmity to Aeschines.

Nowhere in his writings does Plato mention himself by name, except in the dialogue On the Soul44 and the Apology.45 Aristotle remarks that the style of the dialogues is half-way between poetry and prose. And according to Favorinus, when Plato read the dialogue On the Soul, Aristotle alone stayed to the end; the rest of the audience got up and went away. Some say that Philippus of Opus copied out the Laws, which were left upon waxen tablets, and it is said that he was the author of the Epinomis. Euphorion and Panaetius relate that the beginning of the Republic was found several times revised and rewritten, and the Republic itself Aristoxenus declares to have been nearly all of it included in the Controversies of Protagoras. There is a story that the Phaedrus was his first dialogue. For the subject has about it something of the freshness of youth. Dicaearchus, however, censures its whole style as vulgar.

A story is told that Plato once saw some one playing at dice and rebuked him. And, upon his protesting that he played for a trifle only, “But the habit,” rejoined Plato, “is not a trifle.” Being asked whether there would be any memoirs of him as of his predecessors, he replied, “A man must first make a name, and he will have no lack of memoirs.” One day, when Xenocrates had come in, Plato asked him to chastise his slave, since he was unable to do it himself because he was in a passion. Further, it is alleged that he said to one of his slaves, “I would have given you a flogging, had I not been in a passion.” Being mounted on horseback, he quickly got down again, declaring that he was afraid he would be infected with horse-pride. He advised those who got drunk to view themselves in a mirror; for they would then abandon the habit which so disfigured them. To drink to excess was nowhere becoming, he used to say, save at the feasts of the god who was the giver of wine. He also disapproved of over-sleeping. At any rate in the Laws46 he declares that “no one when asleep is good for anything.” He also said that the truth is the pleasantest of sounds. Another version of this saying is that the pleasantest of all things is to speak the truth. Again, of truth he speaks thus in the Laws:47 “Truth, O stranger, is a fair and durable thing. But it is a thing of which it is hard to persuade men.” His wish always was to leave a memorial of himself behind, either in the hearts of his friends or in his books. He was himself fond of seclusion according to some authorities.

His death, the circumstances of which have already been related, took place in the thirteenth year of the reign of King Philip, as stated by Favorinus in the third book of his Memorabilia, and according to Theopompus48 honours were paid to him at his death by Philip.49 But Myronianus in his Parallels says that Philo mentions some proverbs that were in circulation about Plato’s lice, implying that this was the mode of his death. He was buried in the Academy, where he spent the greatest part of his life in philosophical study. And hence the school which he founded was called the Academic school. And all the students there joined in the funeral procession. The terms of his will were as follows:

“These things have been left and devised by Plato: the estate in Iphistiadae, bounded on the north by the road from the temple at Cephisia, on the south by the temple of Heracles in Iphistiadae, on the east by the property of Archestratus of Phrearrhi, on the west by that of Philippus of Chollidae: this it shall be unlawful for anyone to sell or alienate, but it shall be the property of the boy Adeimantus to all intents and purposes: the estate in Eiresidae which I bought of Callimachus, bounded on the north by the property of Eurymedon of Myrrhinus, on the south by the property of Demostratus of Xypete, on the east by that of Eurymedon of Myrrhinus, and on the west by the Cephisus; three minae of silver; a silver vessel weighing 165 drachmas; a cup weighing 45 drachmas; a gold signet-ring and earring together weighing four drachmas and three obols. Euclides the lapidary owes me three minae. I enfranchise Artemis. I leave four household servants, Tychon, Bictas, Apollonides and Dionysius. Household furniture, as set down in the inventory of which Demetrius has the duplicate. I owe no one anything. My executors are Leosthenes, Speusippus, Demetrius, Hegias, Eurymedon, Callimachus and Thrasippus.”

Such were the terms of his will. The following epitaphs were inscribed upon his tomb:50

Here lies the god-like man Aristocles, eminent among men for temperance and the justice of his character. And he, if ever anyone, had the fullest meed of praise for wisdom, and was too great for envy.


Earth in her bosom here hides Plato’s body, but his soul hath its immortal station with the blest, Ariston’s son, whom every good man, even if he dwell afar off, honours because he discerned the divine life.

And a third of later date:52

a. Eagle, why fly you o’er this tomb? Say, is your gaze fixed upon the starry house of one of the immortals?

b. I am the image of the soul of Plato, which has soared to Olympus, while his earth-born body rests in Attic soil.

There is also an epitaph of my own which runs thus:53

If Phoebus did not cause Plato to be born in Greece, how came it that he healed the minds of men by letters? As the god’s son Asclepius is a healer of the body, so is Plato of the immortal soul.

And another on the manner of his death:54

Phoebus gave to mortals Asclepius and Plato, the one to save their souls, the other to save their bodies. From a wedding banquet he has passed to that city which he had founded for himself and planted in the sky.

Such then are his epitaphs.

His disciples were Speusippus of Athens, Xenocrates of Chalcedon, Aristotle of Stagira, Philippus of Opus, Hestiaeus of Perinthus, Dion of Syracuse, Amyclus of Heraclea, Erastus and Coriscus of Scepsus, Timolaus of Cyzicus, Euaeon of Lampsacus, Python and Heraclides of Aenus, Hippothales and Callippus of Athens, Demetrius of Amphipolis, Heraclides of Pontus, and many others, among them two women, Lastheneia of Mantinea and Axiothea of Phlius, who is reported by Dicaearchus to have worn men’s clothes. Some say that Theophrastus too attended his lectures. Chamaeleon adds Hyperides the orator and Lycurgus, and in this Polemo agrees. Sabinus makes Demosthenes his pupil, quoting, in the fourth book of his Materials for Criticism, Mnesistratus of Thasos as his authority. And it is not improbable.55

Now, as you are an enthusiastic Platonist, and rightly so, and as you eagerly seek out that philosopher’s doctrines in preference to all others, I have thought it necessary to give some account of the true nature of his discourses, the arrangement of the dialogues, and the method of his inductive procedure, as far as possible in an elementary manner and in main outline, in order that the facts I have collected respecting his life may not suffer by the omission of his doctrines. For, in the words of the proverb, it would be taking owls to Athens, were I to give you of all people the full particulars.

They say that Zeno the Eleatic was the first to write dialogues. But, according to Favorinus in his Memorabilia, Aristotle in the first book of his dialogue On Poets asserts that it was Alexamenus of Styra or Teos. In my opinion Plato, who brought this form of writing to perfection, ought to be adjudged the prize for its invention as well as for its embellishment. A dialogue is a discourse consisting of question and answer on some philosophical or political subject, with due regard to the characters of the persons introduced and the choice of diction. Dialectic is the art of discourse by which we either refute or establish some proposition by means of question and answer on the part of the interlocutors.

Of the Platonic dialogues there are two most general types, the one adapted for instruction and the other for inquiry. And the former is further divided into two types, the theoretical and the practical. And of these the theoretical is divided into the physical and logical, and the practical into the ethical and political. The dialogue of inquiry also has two main divisions, the one of which aims at training the mind and the other at victory in controversy. Again, the part which aims at training the mind has two subdivisions, the one akin to the midwife’s art, the other merely tentative. And that suited to controversy is also subdivided into one part which raises critical objections, and another which is subversive of the main position.

I am not unaware that there are other ways in which certain writers classify the dialogues. For some dialogues they call dramatic, others narrative, and others again a mixture of the two. But the terms they employ in their classification of the dialogues are better suited to the stage than to philosophy. Physics is represented by the Timaeus, logic by the Statesman, Cratylus, Parmenides and Sophist, ethics by the Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Phaedrus and Symposium, as well as by the Menexenus, Clitophon, the Epistles, Philebus, Hipparchus and the Rivals, and lastly politics by the Republic, the Laws, Minos, Epinomis, and the dialogue concerning Atlantis.56 To the class of mental obstetrics belong the two Alcibiades, Theages, Lysis and Laches, while the Euthyphro, Meno, Io, Charmides and Theaetetus illustrate the tentative method. In the Protagoras is seen the method of critical objections; in the Euthydemus, Gorgias, and the two dialogues entitled Hippias that of subversive argument. So much then for dialogue, its definition and varieties.

Again, as there is great division of opinion between those who affirm and those who deny that Plato was a dogmatist, let me proceed to deal with this further question. To be a dogmatist in philosophy is to lay down positive dogmas, just as to be a legislator is to lay down laws. Further, under dogma two things are included, the thing opined and the opinion itself.

Of these the former is a proposition, the latter a conception. Now where he has a firm grasp Plato expounds his own view and refutes the false one, but, if the subject is obscure, he suspends judgement. His own views are expounded by four persons, Socrates, Timaeus, the Athenian Stranger,57 the Eleatic Stranger.58 These strangers are not, as some hold, Plato and Parmenides, but imaginary characters without names,59 for, even when Socrates and Timaeus are the speakers, it is Plato’s doctrines that are laid down. To illustrate the refutation of false opinions, he introduces Thrasymachus, Callicles, Polus, Gorgias, Protagoras, or again Hippias, Euthydemus and the like.

In constructing his proofs he makes most use of induction, not always in the same way, but under two forms. For induction is an argument which by means of certain true premisses properly infers a truth resembling them. And there are two kinds of induction, the one proceeding by way of contradiction, the other from agreement. In the kind which proceeds by contradiction the answer given to every question will necessarily be the contrary of the respondent’s position, e.g. “My father is either other than or the same as your father. If then your father is other than my father, by being other than a father he will not be a father. But if he is the same as my father, then by being the same as my father he will be my father.” And again: “If man is not an animal, he will be either a stick or a stone. But he is not a stick or a stone; for he is animate and self-moved. Therefore he is an animal. But if he is an animal, and if a dog or an ox is also an animal, then man by being an animal will be a dog and an ox as well.” This is the kind of induction which proceeds by contradiction and dispute, and Plato used it, not for laying down positive doctrines but for refutation. The other kind of induction by agreement appears in two forms, the one proving the particular conclusion under discussion from a particular, the other proceeding by way of the universal [by means of particular facts]. The former is suited to rhetoric, the latter to dialectic. For instance, under the first form the question is raised, “Did so-and-so commit a murder?” The proof is that he was found at the time with stains of blood on him. This is the rhetorical form of induction, since rhetoric also is concerned with particular facts and not with universals. It does not inquire about justice in the abstract, but about particular cases of justice. The other kind, where the general proposition is first established by means of particular facts, is the induction of dialectic. For instance, the question put is whether the soul is immortal, and whether the living come back from the dead. And this is proved in the dialogue On the Soul by means of a certain general proposition, that opposites proceed from opposites. And the general proposition itself is established by means of certain propositions which are particular, as that sleep comes from waking and vice versa, the greater from the less and vice versa. This is the form which he used to establish his own views.

But, just as long ago in tragedy the chorus was the only actor, and afterwards, in order to give the chorus breathing space, Thespis devised a single actor, Aeschylus a second, Sophocles a third, and thus tragedy was completed, so too with philosophy: in early times it discoursed on one subject only, namely physics, then Socrates added the second subject, ethics, and Plato the third, dialectics, and so brought philosophy to perfection. Thrasylus says that he published his dialogues in tetralogies, like those of the tragic poets. Thus they contended with four plays at the Dionysia, the Lenaea, the Panathenaea and the festival of Chytri.60 Of the four plays the last was a satiric drama; and the four together were called a tetralogy.

Now, says Thrasylus, the genuine dialogues are fifty-six in all, if the Republic be divided into ten and the Laws into twelve. Favorinus, however, in the second book of his Miscellaneous History declares that nearly the whole of the Republic is to be found in a work of Protagoras entitled Controversies.61 This gives nine tetralogies, if the Republic takes the place of one single work and the Laws of another. His first tetralogy has a common plan underlying it, for he wishes to describe what the life of the philosopher will be. To each of the works Thrasylus affixes a double title, the one taken from the name of the interlocutor, the other from the subject. This tetralogy, then, which is the first, begins with the Euthyphro or On Holiness, a tentative dialogue; the Apology of Socrates, an ethical dialogue, comes second; the third is Crito or On what is to be done, ethical; the fourth Phaedo or On the Soul, also ethical. The second tetralogy begins with Cratylus or On Correctness of Names, a logical dialogue, which is followed by Theaetetus or On Knowledge, tentative, the Sophist or On Being, a logical dialogue, the Statesman or On Monarchy, also logical. The third tetralogy includes, first, Parmenides or On Ideas, which is logical, next Philebus or On Pleasure, an ethical dialogue, the Banquet or On the Good, ethical, Phaedrus or On Love, also ethical.

The fourth tetralogy starts with Alcibiades or On the Nature of Man, an obstetric dialogue; this is followed by the second Alcibiades or On Prayer, also obstetric; then comes Hipparchus or The Lover of Gain, which is ethical, and The Rivals or On Philosophy, also ethical. The fifth tetralogy includes, first, Theages or On Philosophy, an obstetric dialogue, then Charmides or On Temperance, which is tentative, Laches or On Courage, obstetric, and Lysis or On Friendship, also obstetric. The sixth tetralogy starts with Euthydemus or The Eristic, a refutative dialogue, which is followed by Protagoras or Sophists, critical, Gorgias or On Rhetoric, refutative, and Meno or On Virtue, which is tentative. The seventh tetralogy contains, first, two dialogues entitled Hippias, the former On Beauty, the latter On Falsehood, both refutative; next Ion or On the Iliad, which is tentative, and Menexenus or The Funeral Oration, which is ethical. The eighth tetralogy starts with Clitophon or Introduction, which is ethical, and is followed by the Republic or On Justice, political, Timaeus or On Nature, a physical treatise, and Critias or Story of Atlantis, which is ethical. The ninth tetralogy starts with Minos or On Law, a political dialogue, which is followed by the Laws or On Legislation, also political, Epinomis or Nocturnal Council, or Philosopher, political, and lastly the Epistles, thirteen in number, which are ethical. In these epistles his heading was “Welfare,” as that of Epicurus was “A Good Life,” and that of Cleon “All Joy.” They comprise: one to Aristodemus, two to Archytas, four to Dionysius, one to Hermias, Erastus and Coriscus, one each to Leodamas, Dion and Perdiccas, and two to Dion’s friends. This is the division adopted by Thrasylus and some others.

Some, including Aristophanes the grammarian, arrange the dialogues arbitrarily in trilogies. In the first trilogy they place the Republic, Timaeus and Critias; in the second the Sophist, the Statesman and Cratylus; in the third the Laws, Minos and Epinomis; in the fourth Theaetetus, Euthyphro and the Apology; in the fifth Crito, Phaedo and the Epistles. The rest follow as separate compositions in no regular order. Some critics, as has already been stated, put the Republic first, while others start with the greater Alcibiades, and others again with the Theages; some begin with the Euthyphro, others with the Clitophon; some with the Timaeus, others with the Phaedrus; others again with the Theaetetus, while many begin with the Apology. The following dialogues are acknowledged to be spurious: the Midon or Horse-breeder, the Eryxias or Erasistratus, the Alcyon, the Acephali or Sisyphus, the Axiochus, the Phaeacians, the Demodocus, the Chelidon, the Seventh Day, the Epimenides. Of these the Alcyon62 is thought to be the work of a certain Leon, according to Favorinus in the fifth book of his Memorabilia.

Plato has employed a variety of terms in order to make his system less intelligible to the ignorant. But in a special sense he considers wisdom to be the science of those things which are objects of thought and really existent, the science which, he says, is concerned with God and the soul as separate from the body. And especially by wisdom he means philosophy, which is a yearning for divine wisdom. And in a general sense all experience is also termed by him wisdom, e.g. when he calls a craftsman wise. And he applies the same terms with very different meanings. For instance, the word φαῦλος (slight, plain) is employed by him63 in the sense of ἁπλοῦς (simple, honest), just as it is applied to Heracles in the Licymnius of Euripides in the following passage:64

Plain (φαῦλος), unaccomplished, staunch to do great deeds, unversed in talk, with all his store of wisdom curtailed to action.

But sometimes Plato uses this same word (φαῦλος) to mean what is bad, and at other times for what is small or petty. Again, he often uses different terms to express the same thing. For instance, he calls the Idea form (εἶδος), genus (γένος), archetype (παράδειγμα), principle (;ἀρχ&#x03ae) and cause (αἴτιον). He also uses contrary expressions for the same thing. Thus he calls the sensible thing both existent and non-existent, existent inasmuch as it comes into being, non-existent because it is continually changing. And he says the Idea is neither in motion nor at rest; that it is uniformly the same and yet both one and many. And it is his habit to do this in many more instances.

The right interpretation of his dialogues includes three things: first, the meaning of every statement must be explained; next, its purpose, whether it is made for a primary reason or by way of illustration, and whether to establish his own doctrines or to refute his interlocutor; in the third place it remains to examine its truth.

And since certain critical marks are affixed to his works let us now say a word about these. The cross × is taken to indicate peculiar expressions and figures of speech, and generally any idiom of Platonic usage; the diple65 (>) calls attention to doctrines and opinions characteristic of Plato; the dotted cross (⨰) denotes select passages and beauties of style; the dotted diple (⋗) editors’ corrections of the text; the dotted obelus (÷) passages suspected without reason; the dotted antisigma (Ꜿ) repetitions and proposals for transpositions; the ceraunium the philosophical school; the asterisk (∗) an agreement of doctrine; the obelus (−) a spurious passage. So much for the critical marks and his writings in general. As Antigonus of Carystus says in his Life of Zeno, when the writings were first edited with critical marks, their possessors charged a certain fee to anyone who wished to consult them.

The doctrines he approved are these.66 He held that the soul is immortal, that by transmigration it puts on many bodies,67 and that it has a numerical first principle, whereas the first principle of the body is geometrical;68 and he defined soul as the idea of vital breath diffused in all directions. He held that it is self-moved and tripartite, the rational part of it having its seat in the head, the passionate part about the heart, while the appetitive is placed in the region of the navel and the liver.69

And from the centre outwards it encloses the body on all sides in a circle, and is compounded of elements, and, being divided at harmonic intervals, it forms two circles which touch one another twice; and the interior circle, being slit six times over, makes seven circles in all. And this interior circle moves by way of the diagonal to the left, and the other by way of the side to the right. Hence also the one is supreme, being a single circle, for the other interior circle was divided; the former is the circle of the Same, the latter that of the Other, whereby he means that the motion of the soul is the motion of the universe together with the revolutions of the planets.70

And the division from the centre to the circumference which is adjusted in harmony with the soul being thus determined, the soul knows that which is, and adjusts it proportionately because she has the elements proportionately disposed in herself. And when the circle of the Other revolves aright, the result is opinion; but from the regular motion of the circle of the Same comes knowledge. He set forth two universal principles, God and matter, and he calls God mind and cause; he held that matter is devoid of form and unlimited, and that composite things arise out of it;71 and that it was once in disorderly motion but, inasmuch as God preferred order to disorder, was by him brought together in one place.72 This substance, he says, is converted into the four elements, fire, water, air, earth, of which the world itself and all that therein is are formed. Earth alone of these elements is not subject to change, the assumed cause being the peculiarity of its constituent triangles. For he thinks that in all the other elements the figures employed are homogeneous, the scalene triangle out of which they are all put together being one and the same, whereas for earth a triangle of peculiar shape is employed; the element of fire is a pyramid, of air an octahedron, of water an icosahedron, of earth a cube. Hence earth is not transmuted into the other three elements, nor these three into earth.

But the elements are not separated each into its own region of the universe, because the revolution unites their minute particles, compressing and forcing them together into the centre, at the same time as it separates the larger masses. Hence as they change their shapes, so also do they change the regions which they occupy.73

And there is one created universe,74 seeing that it is perceptible to sense, which has been made by God. And it is animate because that which is animate is better than that which is inanimate.75 And this piece of workmanship is assumed to come from a cause supremely good.76 It was made one and not unlimited because the pattern from which he made it was one. And it is spherical because such is the shape of its maker. For that maker contains the other living things, and this universe the shapes of them all.77 It is smooth and has no organ all round because it has no need of organs. Moreover, the universe remains imperishable because it is not dissolved into the Deity.78 And the creation as a whole is caused by God, because it is the nature of the good to be beneficent,79 and the creation of the universe has the highest good for its cause. For the most beautiful of created things is due to the best of intelligible causes;80 so that, as God is of this nature, and the universe resembles the best in its perfect beauty, it will not be in the likeness of anything created, but only of God.

The universe is composed of fire, water, air and earth; of fire in order to be visible; of earth in order to be solid; of water and air in order to be proportional.81 For the powers represented by solids are connected by two mean proportionals in a way to secure the complete unity of the whole. And the universe was made of all the elements in order to be complete and indestructible.

Time was created as an image of eternity. And while the latter remains for ever at rest, time consists in the motion of the universe. For night and day and month and the like are all parts of time; for which reason, apart from the nature of the universe, time has no existence. But so soon as the universe is fashioned time exists.82

And the sun and moon and planets were created as means to the creation of time. And God kindled the light of the sun in order that the number of the seasons might be definite and in order that animals might possess number. The moon is in the circle immediately above the earth, and the sun in that which is next beyond that, and in the circles above come the planets. Further, the universe is an animate being, for it is bound fast in animate movement.83 And in order that the universe which had been created in the likeness of the intelligible living creature might be rendered complete, the nature of all other animals was created. Since then its pattern possesses them, the universe also ought to have them. And thus it contains gods for the most part of a fiery nature; of the rest there are three kinds, winged, aquatic and terrestrial.84 And of all the gods in heaven the earth is the oldest. And it was fashioned to make night and day. And being at the centre it moves round the centre.85 And since there are two causes, it must be affirmed, he says, that some things are due to reason and others have a necessary cause,86 the latter being air, fire, earth and water, which are not exactly elements but rather recipients of form.87 They are composed of triangles, and are resolved into triangles. The scalene triangle and the isosceles triangle are their constituent elements.88

The principles, then, and causes assumed are the two above mentioned, of which God and matter are the exemplar. Matter is of necessity formless like the other recipients of form. Of all these there is a necessary cause. For it somehow or other receives the ideas and so generates substances, and it moves because its power is not uniform, and, being in motion, it in turn sets in motion those things which are generated from it. And these were at first in irrational and irregular motion, but after they began to frame the universe, under the conditions possible they were made by God symmetrical and regular. For the two causes existed even before the world was made, as well as becoming in the third place, but they were not distinct, merely traces of them being found, and in disorder. When the world was made, they too acquired order.89 And out of all the bodies there are the universe was fashioned. He holds God, like the soul, to be incorporeal. For only thus is he exempt from change and decay. As already stated, he assumes the Ideas to be causes and principles whereby the world of natural objects is what it is.

On good and evil he would discourse to this effect. He maintained that the end to aim at is assimilation to God, that virtue is in itself sufficient for happiness, but that it needs in addition, as instruments for use, first, bodily advantages like health and strength, sound senses and the like, and, secondly, external advantages such as wealth, good birth and reputation. But the wise man will be no less happy even if he be without these things. Again, he will take part in public affairs, will marry, and will refrain from breaking the laws which have been made. And as far as circumstances allow he will legislate for his own country, unless in the extreme corruption of the people he sees that the state of affairs completely justifies his abstention. He thinks that the gods take note of human life90 and that there are superhuman beings.91 He was the first to define the notion of good as that which is bound up with whatever is praiseworthy and rational and useful and proper and becoming. And all these are bound up with that which is consistent and in accord with nature.

He also discoursed on the propriety of names, and indeed he was the first to frame a science for rightly asking and answering questions, having employed it himself to excess. And in the dialogues he conceived righteousness to be the law of God because it is stronger to incite men to do righteous acts, that malefactors may not be punished after death also. Hence to some he appeared too fond of myths. These narratives he intermingles with his works in order to deter men from wickedness, by reminding them how little they know of what awaits them92 after death. Such, then, are the doctrines he approved.

He used also to divide things, according to Aristotle, in the following manner.93 Goods are in the mind or in the body, or external. For example, justice, prudence, courage, temperance and such like are in the mind; beauty, a good constitution, health and strength in the body; while friends, the welfare of one’s country and riches are amongst external things.

Thus there are three kinds of goods: goods of the mind, goods of the body and external goods. There are three species of friendship: one species is natural, another social, and another hospitable. By natural friendship we mean the affection which parents have for their offspring and kinsmen for each other. And other animals besides man have inherited this form.

By the social form of friendship we mean that which arises from intimacy and has nothing to do with kinship; for instance, that of Pylades for Orestes. The friendship of hospitality is that which is extended to strangers owing to an introduction or letters of recommendation. Thus friendship is either natural or social or hospitable. Some add a fourth species, that of love.

There are five forms of civil government: one form is democratic, another aristocratic, a third oligarchic, a fourth monarchic, a fifth that of a tyrant. The democratic form is that in which the people has control and chooses at its own pleasure both magistrates and laws. The aristocratic form is that in which the rulers are neither the rich nor the poor nor the nobles, but the state is under the guidance of the best. Oligarchy is that form in which there is a property-qualification for the holding of office; for the rich are fewer than the poor. Monarchy is either regulated by law or hereditary. At Carthage the kingship is regulated by law, the office being put up for sale.94 But the monarchy in Lacedaemon and in Macedonia is hereditary, for they select the king from a certain family. A tyranny is that form in which the citizens are ruled either through fraud or force by an individual. Thus civil government is either democratic, aristocratic, oligarchic, or a monarchy or a tyranny.

There are three species of justice. One is concerned with gods, another with men, and the third with the departed. For those who sacrifice according to the laws and take care of the temples are obviously pious towards the gods. Those again who repay loans and restore what they have received upon trust act justly towards men. Lastly, those who take care of tombs are obviously just towards the departed. Thus one species of justice relates to the gods, another to men, while a third species is concerned with the departed.

There are three species of knowledge or science, one practical, another productive, and a third theoretical. For architecture and shipbuilding are productive arts, since the work produced by them can be seen. Politics and flute-playing, harp-playing and similar arts are practical. For nothing visible is produced by them; yet they do or perform something. In the one case the artist plays the flute or the harp, in the other the politician takes part in politics. Geometry and harmonics and astronomy are theoretical sciences. For they neither perform nor produce anything. But the geometer considers how lines are related to each other, the student of harmony investigates sounds, the astronomer stars and the universe. Thus some sciences are theoretical, others are practical, and others are productive.

There are five species of medicine : the first is pharmacy, the second is surgery, the third deals with diet and regimen, the fourth with diagnosis, the fifth with remedies. Pharmacy cures sickness by drugs, surgery heals by the use of knife and cautery, the species concerned with diet prescribes a regimen for the removal of disease, that concerned with diagnosis proceeds by determining the nature of the ailment, that concerned with remedies by prescribing for the immediate removal of the pain. The species of medicine, then, are pharmacy, surgery, diet and regimen, diagnosis, prescription of remedies.

There are two divisions of law, the one written and the other unwritten. Written law is that under which we live in different cities, but that which has arisen out of custom is called unwritten law; for instance, not to appear in the market-place undressed or in women’s attire. There is no statute forbidding this, but nevertheless we abstain from such conduct because it is prohibited by an unwritten law. Thus law is either written or unwritten.

There are five kinds of speech, of which one is that which politicians employ in the assemblies; this is called political speech. The second division is that which the rhetors employ in written compositions, whether composed for display or praise or blame, or for accusation. Hence this division is termed rhetorical. The third division of speech is that of private persons conversing with one another; this is called the mode of speech of ordinary life. Another division of speech is the language of those who converse by means of short questions and answers; this kind is called dialectical. The fifth division is the speech of craftsmen conversing about their own subjects; this is called technical language. Thus speech is either political, or rhetorical, or that of ordinary conversation, or dialectical, or technical.

Music has three divisions. One employs the mouth alone, like singing. The second employs both the mouth and the hands, as is the case with the harper singing to his own accompaniment. The third division employs the hands alone; for instance, the music of the harp. Thus music employs either the mouth alone, or the mouth and the hands, or the hands alone.

Nobility has four divisions. First, when the ancestors are gentle and handsome and also just, their descendants are said to be noble. Secondly, when the ancestors have been princes or magistrates, their descendants are said to be noble. The third kind arises when the ancestors have been illustrious; for instance, through having held military command or through success in the national games. For then we call the descendants noble. The last division includes the man who is himself of a generous and high-minded spirit. He too is said to be noble. And this indeed is the highest form of nobility. Thus, of nobility, one kind depends on excellent ancestors, another on princely ancestors, a third on illustrious ancestors, while the fourth is due to the individual’s own beauty and worth.

Beauty has three divisions. The first is the object of praise, as of form fair to see. Another is serviceable; thus an instrument, a house and the like are beautiful for use. Other things again which relate to customs and pursuits and the like are beautiful because beneficial. Of beauty, then, one kind is matter for praise, another is for use, and another for the benefit it procures.

The soul has three divisions. One part of it is rational, another appetitive, and a third irascible. Of these the rational part is the cause of purpose, reflection, understanding and the like. The appetitive part of the soul is the cause of desire of eating, sexual indulgence and the like, while the irascible part is the cause of courage, of pleasure and pain, and of anger. Thus one part of the soul is rational, another appetitive, and a third irascible.

Of perfect virtue there are four species: prudence, justice, bravery and temperance. Of these prudence is the cause of right conduct, justice of just dealing in partnerships and commercial transactions. Bravery is the cause which makes a man not give way but stand his ground in alarms and perils. Temperance causes mastery over desires, so that we are never enslaved by any pleasure, but lead an orderly life. Thus virtue includes first prudence, next justice, thirdly bravery, and lastly temperance.

Rule has five divisions, one that which is according to law, another according to nature, another according to custom, a fourth by birth, a fifth by force. Now the magistrates in cities when elected by their fellow-citizens rule according to law. The natural rulers are the males, not only among men, but also among the other animals; for the males everywhere exert wide-reaching rule over the females. Rule according to custom is such authority as attendants exercise over children and teachers over their pupils. Hereditary rule is exemplified by that of the Lacedaemonian kings, for the office of king is confined to a certain family. And the same system is in force for the kingdom of Macedonia; for there too the office of king goes by birth. Others have acquired power by force or fraud, and govern the citizens against their will; this kind of rule is called forcible. Thus rule is either by law, or by nature, or by custom, or by birth, or by force.

There are six kinds of rhetoric. For when the speakers urge war or alliance with a neighbouring state, that species of rhetoric is called persuasion. But when they speak against making war or alliance, and urge their hearers to remain at peace, this kind of rhetoric is called dissuasion. A third kind is employed when a speaker asserts that he is wronged by some one whom he makes out to have caused him much mischief; accusation is the name applied to the kind here defined. The fourth kind of rhetoric is termed defence; here the speaker shows that he has done no wrong and that his conduct is in no respect abnormal; defence is the term applied in such a case. A fifth kind of rhetoric is employed when a speaker speaks well of some one and proves him to be worthy and honourable; encomium is the name given to this kind. A sixth kind is that employed when the speaker shows some one to be unworthy; the name given to this is invective. Under rhetoric, then, are included encomium, invective, persuasion, dissuasion, accusation and defence.

Successful speaking has four divisions. The first consists in speaking to the purpose, the next to the requisite length, the third before the proper audience, and the fourth at the proper moment. The things to the purpose are those which are likely to be expedient for speaker and hearer. The requisite length is that which is neither more nor less than enough. To speak to the proper audience means this: in addressing persons older than yourself, the discourse must be made suitable to the audience as being elderly men; whereas in addressing juniors the discourse must be suitable to young men. The proper time of speaking is neither too soon nor too late; otherwise you will miss the mark and not speak with success.

Of conferring benefits there are four divisions. For it takes place either by pecuniary aid or by personal service, by means of knowledge or of speech. Pecuniary aid is given when one assists a man in need, so that he is relieved from all anxiety on the score of money. Personal service is given when men come up to those who are being beaten and rescue them. Those who train or heal, or who teach something valuable, confer benefit by means of knowledge. But when men enter a law-court and one appears as advocate for another and delivers an effective speech on his behalf, he is benefiting him by speech. Thus benefits are conferred by means either of money or of personal service, or of knowledge, or of speech.

There are four ways in which things are completed and brought to an end. The first is by legal enactment, when a decree is passed and this decree is confirmed by law. The second is in the course of nature, as the day, the year and the seasons are completed. The third is by the rules of art, say the builder’s art, for so a house is completed; and so it is with shipbuilding, whereby vessels are completed. Fourthly, matters are brought to an end by chance or accident, when they turn out otherwise than is expected. Thus the completion of things is due either to law, or to nature, or to art, or to chance.

Of power or ability there are four divisions. First, whatever we can do with the mind, namely calculate or anticipate; next, whatever we can effect with the body, for instance, marching, giving, taking and the like. Thirdly, whatever we can do by a multitude of soldiers or a plentiful supply of money; hence a king is said to have great power. The fourth division of power or influence is doing, or being done by, well or ill; thus we can become ill or be educated, be restored to health and the like. Power, then, is either in the mind, or the body, or in armies and resources, or in acting and being acted upon.

Philanthropy is of three kinds. One is by way of salutations, as when certain people address every one they meet and, stretching out their hand, give him a hearty greeting; another mode is seen when one is given to assisting every one in distress; another mode of philanthropy is that which makes certain people fond of giving dinners. Thus philanthropy is shown either by a courteous address, or by conferring benefits, or by hospitality and the promotion of social intercourse.

Welfare or happiness includes five parts. One part of it is good counsel, a second soundness of the senses and bodily health, a third success in one’s undertakings, a fourth a reputation with one’s fellow-men, a fifth ample means in money and in whatever else subserves the end of life. Now deliberating well is a result of education and of having experience of many things. Soundness of the senses depends upon the bodily organs: I mean, if one sees with his eyes, hears with his ears, and perceives with his nostrils and his mouth the appropriate objects, then such a condition is soundness of the senses. Success is attained when a man does what he aims at in the right way, as becomes a good man.

A man has a good reputation when he is well spoken of. A man has ample means when he is so equipped for the needs of life that he can afford to benefit his friends and discharge his public services with lavish display. If a man has all these things, he is completely happy. Thus of welfare or happiness one part is good counsel, another soundness of senses and bodily health, a third success, a fourth a good reputation, a fifth ample means.

There are three divisions of the arts and crafts. The first division consists of mining and forestry, which are productive arts. The second includes the smith’s and carpenter’s arts which transform material; for the smith makes weapons out of iron, and the carpenter transforms timber into flutes and lyres. The third division is that which uses what is thus made, as horsemanship employs bridles, the art of war employs weapons, and music flutes and the lyre. Thus of art there are three several species, those above-mentioned in the first, second and third place.

Good is divided into four kinds. One is the possessor of virtue, whom we affirm to be individually good. Another is virtue itself and justice; these we affirm to be good. A third includes such things as food, suitable exercises and drugs. The fourth kind which we affirm to be good includes the arts of flute-playing, acting and the like. Thus there are four kinds of good: the possession of virtue; virtue itself; thirdly, food and beneficial exercises; lastly, flute-playing, acting, and the poetic art. Whatever is is either evil or good or indifferent. We call that evil which is capable of invariably doing harm; for instance, bad judgement and folly and injustice and the like. The contraries of these things are good. But the things which can sometimes benefit and sometimes harm, such as walking and sitting and eating, or which can neither do any benefit nor harm at all, these are things indifferent, neither good nor evil. Thus all things whatever are either good, or evil, or neither good nor evil.

Good order in the state falls under three heads. First, if the laws are good, we say that there is good government. Secondly, if the citizens obey the established laws, we also call this good government. Thirdly, if, without the aid of laws, the people manage their affairs well under the guidance of customs and institutions, we call this again good government. Thus three forms of good government may exist, (1) when the laws are good, (2) when the existing laws are obeyed, (3) when the people live under salutary customs and institutions.

Disorder in a state has three forms. The first arises when the laws affecting citizens and strangers are alike bad, the second when the existing laws are not obeyed, and the third when there is no law at all. Thus the state is badly governed when the laws are bad or not obeyed, or lastly, when there is no law.

Contraries are divided into three species. For instance, we say that goods are contrary to evils, as justice to injustice, wisdom to folly, and the like. Again, evils are contrary to evils, prodigality is contrary to niggardliness, and to be unjustly tortured is the contrary of being justly tortured, and so with similar evils. Again, heavy is the contrary of light, quick of slow, black of white, and these pairs are contraries, while they are neither good nor evil. Thus, of contraries, some are opposed as goods to evils, others as evils to evils, and others, as things which are neither good nor evil, are opposed to one another.

There are three kinds of goods, those which can be exclusively possessed, those which can be shared with others, and those which simply exist. To the first division, namely, those which can be exclusively possessed, belong such things as justice and health. To the next belong all those which, though they cannot be exclusively possessed, can be shared with others. Thus we cannot possess the absolute good, but we can participate in it. The third division includes those goods the existence of which is necessary, though we can neither possess them exclusively nor participate in them. The mere existence of worth and justice is a good; and these things cannot be shared or had in exclusive possession, but must simply exist. Of goods, then, some are possessed exclusively, some shared, and others merely subsist.

Counsel is divided under three heads. One is taken from past time, one from the future, and the third from the present. That from past time consists of examples; for instance, what the Lacedaemonians suffered through trusting others. Counsel drawn from the present is to show, for instance, that the walls are weak, the men cowards, and the supplies running short. Counsel from the future is. for instance, to urge that we should not wrong the embassies by suspicions, lest the fair fame of Hellas be stained. Thus counsel is derived from the past, the present and the future.

Vocal sound falls into two divisions according as it is animate or inanimate. The voice of living things is animate sound; notes of instruments and noises are inanimate. And of the animate voice part is articulate, part inarticulate, that of men being articulate speech, that of the animals inarticulate. Thus vocal sound is either animate or inanimate.

Whatever exists is either divisible or indivisible. Of divisible things some are divisible into similar and others into dissimilar parts. Those things are indivisible which cannot be divided and are not compounded of elements, for example, the unit, the point and the musical note; whereas those which have constituent parts, for instance, syllables, concords in music, animals, water, gold, are divisible. If they are composed of similar parts, so that the whole does not differ from the part except in bulk, as water, gold and all that is fusible, and the like, then they are termed homogeneous. But whatever is composed of dissimilar parts, as a house and the like, is termed heterogeneous. Thus all things whatever are either divisible or indivisible, and of those which are divisible some are homogeneous, others heterogeneous in their parts.

Of existing things some are absolute and some are called relative. Things said to exist absolutely are those which need nothing else to explain them, as man, horse, and all other animals. For none of these gains by explanation. To those which are called relative belong all which stand in need of some explanation, as that which is greater than something or quicker than something, or more beautiful and the like. For the greater implies a less, and the quicker is quicker than something. Thus existing things are either absolute or relative. And in this way, according to Aristotle, Plato used to divide the primary conceptions also.

There was also another man named Plato, a philosopher of Rhodes, a pupil of Panaetius, as is stated by Seleucus the grammarian in his first book On Philosophy; another a Peripatetic and pupil of Aristotle; and another who was a pupil of Praxiphanes; and lastly, there was Plato, the poet of the Old Comedy.

427-347 B.C.

436-435 B.C.

429 B.C.

Compare Apuleius, De Platone, p. 64 Goldb. It has been proposed to emend the next sentence by bracketing the words ἐν Ἀκαδημείᾳ, εἶτα ἐν τῷ κήπῳ τῷ παρὰ τὸν Κολωνόν, as a note inserted by Diogenes Laertius from a different author.

Aelian (V. H. ii. 30) has πρὸ τῶν Διονυσίων, “before the festival of Dionysus.”

Hom. Il. xviii. 392.

ἔπειτα μέντοι.  . . τι σεῖο χατίζει. It is suggested that this sentence also is an insertion by Diogenes, which interrupts the real sequence of the narrative.

Eur. Iph. T. 1193.

Od. iv. 231.

Meineke, C.G.F. ii. 437. According to Suidas, s.v. Εὔπολις, this play had a second title, Ἀνδρογύναι, by which alone it is cited in Etymol. Magnum.

Fr. 30 D.

The genuineness of these fragments is doubted by Wilamowitz, Rohde, and others; see Wilamowitz, Platon, ii. 28 note 2, and on the other side Diels, note ad loc. (Frag. der Vorsok. 13 B. 1-5).

Or, reading στερρόν for ἕτερον, “a substantial length.”

Cf. Phaedo, 96 b “(I considered) whether it is blood or air or fire with which we think, or none of these things, but the brain which furnishes the senses of hearing and sight and smell, and from these arise memory and opinion, and from memory and opinion, when they have become stable, in the same way knowledge arises.”

This fragment (Fr. 6 D.), which has not the authority of Alcimus, is generally condemned as spurious.

In the tidal wave which swallowed up ten Lacedaemonian triremes in the great earthquake of 372 B.C.: Aelian, Hist. Animal. xi. 19.

Compare Aelian, Var. Hist. ii. 42.

The same statement that Plato made over to Leodamas the analytical method occurs in Proclus, On Eucl. i. p. 211, 19-23 ed. Friedlein. See T. L. Heath, Euclid, vol. i. p. 36, also p. 134 note 1, and p. 137; vol. iii. p. 246.

230 e sqq.

Meineke, C.G.F. ii. 796.

Comic poet; ib. iii. 170.

Ib. vi. 25.

Ib. iii. 451.

Ib. iii. 382.

A poet of the Middle Comedy; Meineke, loc. cit. iii. 302.

Meineke, C.G.F. iii. 305.

Sc. Cratinus Junior, of the Middle Comedy; Meineke, C.G.F. iii. 378.

Meineke, C.G.F. iii. 455.

Ib. iii. 468

Of the Middle Comedy; Meineke, iii. 342-352.

Anth. Pal. vii. 669, 670.

Anth. Pal. vii. 99.

Anth. Pal. vii. 100.

Anth. Pal. vii. 217.

Anth. Pal. v. 78.

Anth. Pal. v. 79.

Anth. Pal. v. 80.

Anth. Pal. vii. 259.

Anth. Pal. ix. 39.

Anth. Pal. ix. 44.

Diogenes is probably comparing with the Memorabilia the shorter dialogues of Plato, the Laches, Charmides, Crito, etc.

694 c.

Cf. ii. 65 with note.

Phaedo, 59 b.

34 a.

808 b.

663 e.

The awkwardness of this last clause can be explained, but not excused, if we suppose that Diogenes Laertius got his citation of Theopompus from Favorinus.

Cf. Hdt. vi. 39 τὸν ἀδελφεὸν δηλαδὴ ἐπιτιμέων.

Anth. Pal. vii. 60.

Anth. Pal. vii. 61.

Anth. Pal. vii. 62.

Anth. Pal. vii. 108.

Anth. Pal. vii. 109.

Here begins the first of three appendices, being an introduction to the study of the Platonic writings (47-66). Freudenthal, in Hell. Stud. iii., has shown that the extant fragment of the Πρόλογος of Albinus is similar and probably derived from the same source. Albinus lived in the second century A.D., for in 151-2 Galen was his pupil in Smyrna. The reader will note the careful style of the preface with its avoidance of hiatus. In x. 29 is a similar personal appeal to the reader.

i.e. Critias.

In the Laws.

In the Sophist and the Statesman.

That the Eleatic Stranger is not Parmenides is decisively proved by Soph. 241 e.


From iii. 37 we infer that Favorinus drew upon Aristoxenus for this wildly improbable assertion.

Cf. Athenaeus xi. 506 c. The same statement about the authorship of the Alcyon is attributed to Nicias of Nicaea.

As e.g. Theaet. 147 c οἷον ἐν τῇ τοῦ πηλοῦ ἐρωτήσει φαῦλόν που καὶ ἁπλοῦν εἰπεῖν ὅτι γῇ ὑγρῷ φυραθεῖσα πηλὸς ἂν εἴη, τὸ δ᾽ ὅτου ἐᾶν χαίρειν. Cf. Rep. 527 d οὐ πάνυ φαῦλον ἀλλὰ χαλεπὸν πιστεῦσαι.

Nauck, T.G.F.², Eur. 473.

A wedge-shaped mark >, used in early papyri to denote a fresh paragraph.

Here begins the second appendix περὶ τῶν Πλάτωνι ἀρεσκόντων, §§ 67-80. It should be observed that there is absolutely no trace of Neo-Platonist tendencies. Cf. Plato, Tim. 42 e-43 a, 69 a.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 42 b sqq., 90 e.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 54 a sqq.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 69 c sqq., 89 e.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 36 d-37 c.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 50 d. e; 51 a.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 30 a, 69 b.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 58 a-c.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 31 a, b; 33 a; 55 c, d; 92 c.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 30 b.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 30 a, b; 55 c, d.

A perversion of Tim. 33 b. To that which is to comprehend all animals in itself that shape seems proper which comprehends in itself all shapes. Diogenes Laertius opposes, not universe and its shape, but maker and universe.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 33 a-d; 34 b; 32 c; 63 a.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 32 c, 33 a; 38 b; 41 a, 43 d.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 29 e-30 a; 42 e.

Cf. Tim. 31 b-33 a. It would be more correct to say “in order that the bonds, the inserted terms (air and water), which unite fire to earth, may be proportional.” “For the best of bonds is that which makes itself and the things which it binds as complete a unity as possible; and the nature of proportion is to accomplish this most perfectly” (Tim. 31 c).

Cf. Plato, Tim. 37 d-38 b.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 38 c-39 d.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 30 c-31 b; 39 c-40 a; 41 b, c.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 40 b, c.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 46 d, e; 47 e; 48 a; 68 e; 69 a.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 49 a sqq.; 50 b-51 b; 52 a, b.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 53 c-55 c.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 52 d; 53 b; 57 c; 69 b, c.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 30 b; 44 c.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 40 d.

Cf. Plato, Tim. 42 b.

The third appendix begins here, containing the διαιρέσεις which are also attributed to Aristotle; see Rose, Aristoteles Pseudepigraphus, pp. 679 sqq., who gives a Christian recension. The original, the common source of Diogenes Laertius and the Christian writer, he refers vaguely to the Hellenistic age.

Plato probably refers to Carthage when he mentions purchasable kingship, ὠνηταὶ βασιλεῖαι, amongst barbarians, Rep. 544 d. Aristotle repeats the epithet in his description of the Carthaginian constitution, Pol. ii. 11, 1273 a 36. Polybius says that at Carthage magistrates attain office, δῶρα φανερῶς διδόντες, vi. 56. 4. This phrase is some help towards an explanation, but whether it means open bribery – possibly of the people, more probably of the Council – or whether it refers to very large fees payable upon taking office, it is not easy to determine. In either case wealth would preponderate over merit.

Book IV

Speusippus. Xenocrates. Polemo. Crates. Crantor. Arcesilaus. Bion. Lacydes. Carneades. Clitomachus.


The foregoing is the best account of Plato that we were able to compile after a diligent examination of the authorities. He was succeeded by Speusippus, an Athenian and son of Eurymedon, who belonged to the deme of Myrrhinus, and was the son of Plato’s sister Potone. He was head of the school for eight years beginning in the 108th Olympiad.1 He set up statues of the Graces in the shrine of the Muses erected by Plato in the Academy. He adhered faithfully to Plato’s doctrines. In character, however, he was unlike him, being prone to anger and easily overcome by pleasures. At any rate there is a story that in a fit of passion he flung his favourite dog into the well, and that pleasure was the sole motive for his journey to Macedonia to be present at the wedding-feast of Casander.

It was said that among those who attended his lectures were the two women who had been pupils of Plato, Lastheneia of Mantinea and Axiothea of Phlius. And at the time Dionysius in a letter says derisively, “We may judge of your wisdom by the Arcadian girl who is your pupil. And, whereas Plato exempted from fees all who came to him, you levy tribute on them and collect it whether they will or no.”2 According to Diodorus in the first book of his Memorabilia, Speusippus was the first to discern the common element in all studies and to bring them into connexion with each other so far as that was possible. And according to Caeneus he was the first to divulge what Isocrates called the secrets of his art, and the first to devise the means by which fagots of firewood are rendered portable.

When he was already crippled by paralysis, he sent a message to Xenocrates entreating him to come and take over the charge of the school.3 They say that, as he was being conveyed to the Academy in a tiny carriage, he met and saluted Diogenes, who replied, “Nay, if you can endure to live in such a plight as this, I decline to return your greeting.” At last in old age he became so despondent that he put an end to his life. Here follows my epigram upon him:4

Had I not learnt that Speusippus would die thus, no one would have persuaded me to say that he was surely not of Plato’s blood; for else he would never have died in despair for a trivial cause.

Plutarch in the Lives of Lysander and Sulla makes his malady to have been “morbus pedicularis.”5 That his body wasted away is affirmed by Timotheus in his book On Lives. Speusippus, he says, meeting a rich man who was in love with one who was no beauty, said to him, “Why, pray, are you in such sore need of him? For ten talents I will find you a more handsome bride.”

He has left behind a vast store of memoirs and numerous dialogues, among them:

They comprise in all 43,475 lines. To him Timonides addresses his narrative in which he related the achievements of Dion and Bion.6 Favorinus also in the second book of his Memorabilia relates that Aristotle purchased the works of Speusippus for three talents.

There was another Speusippus, a physician of Alexandria, of the school of Herophilus.

1 348-344 B.C.

2 Romance seems to have been busy with the life of Speusippus. Athenaeus, vii. 279 e, quotes from the same forged letter of Dionysius to Speusippus bringing similar charges.

3 The most trustworthy account of what happened when Xenocrates was elected is furnished by Index Academicus, pp. 38 sq. ed. Mekler.

4 Anth. Pal. viii. 101.

5 Cf. supra, iii. 40.

6 Nothing is known of any such Bion having taken part in the expedition of Dion against Syracuse. There may be an error in the text arising from dittography.


Xenocrates, the son of Agathenor, was a native of Chalcedon. He was a pupil of Plato from his earliest youth; moreover he accompanied him on his journey to Sicily. He was naturally slow and clumsy. Hence Plato, comparing him to Aristotle, said, “The one needed a spur, the other a bridle.” And again, “See what an ass I am training and what a horse he has to run against.” However, Xenocrates was in all besides dignified and grave of demeanour, which made Plato say to him continually, “Xenocrates, sacrifice to the Graces.” He spent most of his time in the Academy; and whenever he was going to betake himself to the city, it is said that all the noisy rabble and hired porters made way for him as he passed. And that once the notorious Phryne tried to make his acquaintance and, as if she were being chased by some people, took refuge under his roof; that he admitted her out of ordinary humanity and, there being but one small couch in the room, permitted her to share it with him, and at last, after many importunities, she retired without success, telling those who inquired that he whom she quitted was not a man but a statue. Another version of the story is that his pupils induced Laïs to invade his couch; and that so great was his endurance that he many times submitted to amputation and cautery. His words were entirely worthy of credit, so much so that, although it was illegal for witnesses to give evidence unsworn, the Athenians allowed Xenocrates alone to do so. Furthermore, he was extremely independent; at all events, when Alexander sent him a large sum of money, he took three thousand Attic drachmas and sent back the rest to Alexander, whose needs, he said, were greater than his own, because he had a greater number of people to keep. Again, he would not accept the present sent him by Antipater, as Myronianus attests in his Parallels. And when he had been honoured at the court of Dionysius with a golden crown as the prize for his prowess in drinking at the Feast of Pitchers, he went out and placed it on the statue of Hermes just as he had been accustomed to place there garlands of flowers. There is a story that, when he was sent, along with others also, on an embassy to Philip, his colleagues, being bribed, accepted Philip’s invitations to feasts and talked with him. Xenocrates did neither the one nor the other. Indeed on this account Philip declined to see him. Hence, when the envoys returned to Athens, they complained that Xenocrates had accompanied them without rendering any service. Thereupon the people were ready to fine him. But when he told them that now more than ever they ought to consider the interests of the state – “for,” said he, “Philip knew that the others had accepted his bribes, but that he would never win me over” – then the people paid him double honours. And afterwards Philip said that, of all who had arrived at his court, Xenocrates was the only man whom he could not bribe. Moreover, when he went as envoy to Antipater to plead for Athenians taken prisoners in the Lamian war,7 being invited to dine with Antipater, he quoted to him the following lines:8

O Circe! what righteous man would have the heart to taste meat and drink ere he had redeemed his company and beheld them face to face?

and so pleased Antipater with his ready wit that he at once released them.

When a little sparrow was pursued by a hawk and rushed into his bosom, he stroked it and let it go, declaring that a suppliant must not be betrayed. When bantered by Bion, he said he would make no reply. For neither, said he, does tragedy deign to answer the banter of comedy. To some one who had never learnt either music or geometry or astronomy, but nevertheless wished to attend his lectures, Xenocrates said, “Go your ways, for you offer philosophy nothing to lay hold of.” Others report him as saying, “It is not to me that you come for the carding of a fleece.”

When Dionysius told Plato that he would lose his head, Xenocrates, who was present, pointed to his own and added, “No man shall touch it till he cut off mine.” They say too that, when Antipater came to Athens and greeted him, he did not address him in return until he had finished what he was saying. He was singularly free from pride; more than once a day he would retire into himself, and he assigned, it is said, a whole hour to silence.

He left a very large number of treatises, poems and addresses, of which I append a list:

These works comprise in all 224,239 lines.

Such was his character, and yet, when he was unable to pay the tax levied on resident aliens, the Athenians put him up for sale. And Demetrius of Phalerum purchased him, thereby making twofold restitution, to Xenocrates of his liberty, and to the Athenians of their tax. This we learn from Myronianus of Amastris in the first book of his Chapters on Historical Parallels. He succeeded Speusippus and was head of the school for twenty-five years from the archonship of Lysimachides, beginning in the second year of the 110th Olympiad.10 He died in his 82nd year from the effects of a fall over some utensil in the night.

Upon him I have expressed myself as follows:11

Xenocrates, that type of perfect manliness, stumbled over a vessel of bronze and broke his head, and, with a loud cry, expired.

There have been six other men named Xenocrates: (1) a tactician in very ancient times; (2) the kinsman and fellow-citizen of the philosopher: a speech by him is extant entitled the Arsinoëtic, treating of a certain deceased Arsinoë;12 (4) a philosopher and not very successful writer of elegies; it is a remarkable fact that poets succeed when they undertake to write prose, but prose-writers who essay poetry come to grief; whereby it is clear that the one is a gift of nature and the other of art; (5) a sculptor; (6) a writer of songs mentioned by Aristoxenus.

7 322 B.C.

8 Hom. Od. x. 383-5.

9 Supposed by Marsilius Ficinus to be the extant dialogue Axiochus attributed to Plato (cf. supra, iii. 62).

10 339-338 B.C.

11 Anth. Pal. vii. 102.

12 In the enumeration of the first three one has accidentally dropped out.


Polemo, the son of Philostratus, was an Athenian who belonged to the deme of Oea. In his youth he was so profligate and dissipated that he actually carried about with him money to procure the immediate gratification of his desires, and would even keep sums concealed in lanes and alleys.13 Even in the Academy a piece of three obols was found close to a pillar, where he had buried it for the same purpose. And one day, by agreement with his young friends, he burst into the school of Xenocrates quite drunk, with a garland on his head. Xenocrates, however, without being at all disturbed, went on with his discourse as before, the subject being temperance. The lad, as he listened, by degrees was taken in the toils. He became so industrious as to surpass all the other scholars, and rose to be himself head of the school in the 116th Olympiad.14

Antigonus of Carystus in his Biographies says that his father was foremost among the citizens and kept horses to compete in the chariot-race; that Polemo himself had been defendant in an action brought by his wife, who charged him with cruelty owing to the irregularities of his life; but that, from the time when he began to study philosophy, he acquired such strength of character as always to maintain the same unruffled calm of demeanour. Nay more, he never lost control of his voice. This in fact accounts for the fascination which he exercised over Crantor.15 Certain it is that, when a mad dog bit him in the back of his thigh, he did not even turn pale, but remained undisturbed by all the clamour which arose in the city at the news of what had happened. In the theatre too he was singularly unmoved. For instance, Nicostratus, who was nicknamed Clytemnestra, was once reading to him and Crates something from Homer; and, while Crates was deeply affected, he was no more moved than if he had not heard him. Altogether he was a man such as Melanthius the painter describes in his work On Painting. There he says that a certain wilfulness and stubbornness should be stamped on works of art, and that the same holds good of character. Polemo used to say that we should exercise ourselves with facts and not with mere logical speculations, which leave us, like a man who has got by heart some paltry handbook on harmony but never practised, able, indeed, to win admiration for skill in asking questions, but utterly at variance with ourselves in the ordering of our lives.

He was, then, refined and generous, and would beg to be excused, in the words of Aristophanes about Euripides, the “acid, pungent style,” which, as the same author says, is “strong seasoning for meat when it is high.”16 Further, he would not, they say, even sit down to deal with the themes of his pupils, but would argue walking up and down. It was, then, for his love of what is noble that he was honoured in the state. Nevertheless would he withdraw from society17 and confine himself to the Garden of the Academy, while close by his scholars made themselves little huts and lived not far from the shrine of the Muses and the lecture-hall. It would seem that in all respects Polemo emulated Xenocrates. And Aristippus in the fourth book of his work On the Luxury of the Ancients affirms him to have been his favourite. Certainly he always kept his predecessor before his mind and, like him, wore that simple austere dignity which is proper to the Dorian mode. He loved Sophocles, particularly in those passages where it seemed as if, in the phrase of the comic poet,

A stout Molossian mastiff lent him aid,

and where the poet was, in the words of Phrynichus,18

Nor must, nor blended vintage, but true Pramnian.

Thus he would call Homer the Sophocles of epic, and Sophocles the Homer of tragedy

He died at an advanced age of gradual decay, leaving behind him a considerable number of works. I have composed the following epigram upon him:19

Dost thou not hear? We have buried Polemo, laid here by that fatal scourge of wasted strength. Yet not Polemo, but merely his body, which on his way to the stars he left to moulder in the ground.

13 Cf. Lucian’s account of his follies (Bis accusatus, 16), the more piquant because put into the mouth of Academy pleading against Carouse, Μέθη.

14 316-312 B.C.

15 Cf. infra, §24.

16 Frag. 180 Dind.

17 Cf. supra, i. § 112 note.

18 Meineke, C.G.F. ii. 605.

19 Anth. Plan. ii. 380.


Crates, whose father was Antigenes, was an Athenian belonging to the deme of Thria. He was a pupil and at the same time a favourite of Polemo, whom he succeeded in the headship of the school. The two were so much attached to each other that they not only shared the same pursuits in life but grew more and more alike to their latest breath, and, dying, shared the same tomb. Hence Antagoras, writing of both, employed this figure:20

Passing stranger, say that in this tomb rest godlike Crates and Polemo, men magnanimous in concord, from whose inspired lips flowed sacred speech, and whose pure life of wisdom, in accordance with unswerving tenets, decked them for a bright immortality.

Hence Arcesilaus, who had quitted Theophrastus and gone over to their school, said of them that they were gods or a remnant of the Golden Age. They did not side with the popular party, but were such as Dionysodorus the flute-player is said to have claimed to be, when he boasted that no one ever heard his melodies, as those of Ismenias were heard, either on shipboard or at the fountain. According to Antigonus, their common table was in the house of Crantor; and these two and Arcesilaus lived in harmony together. Arcesilaus and Crantor shared the same house, while Polemo and Crates lived with Lysicles, one of the citizens. Crates, as already stated, was the favourite of Polemo and Arcesilaus of Crantor.

According to Apollodorus in the third book of his Chronology, Crates at his death left behind him works, some of a philosophical kind, others on comedy, others again speeches delivered in the assembly or when he was envoy. He also left distinguished pupils; among them Arcesilaus, of whom we shall speak presently – for he was also a pupil of Crates; another was Bion of Borysthenes, who was afterwards known as the Theodorean, from the school which he joined; of him too we shall have occasion to speak next after Arcesilaus.

There have been ten men who bore the name of Crates: (1) the poet of the Old Comedy; (2) a rhetorician of Tralles, a pupil of Isocrates; (3) a sapper and miner who accompanied Alexander; (4) the Cynic, of whom more hereafter; (5) a Peripatetic philosopher; (6) the Academic philosopher described above; (7) a grammarian of Malos; (8) the author of a geometrical work; (9) a composer of epigrams; (10) an Academic philosopher of Tarsus.

20 Anth. Pal. vii. 103.


Crantor of Soli, though he was much esteemed in his native country, left it for Athens and attended the lectures of Xenocrates at the same time as Polemo. He left memoirs extending to 30,000 lines, some of which are by some critics attributed to Arcesilaus. He is said to have been asked what it was in Polemo that attracted him, and to have replied, “The fact that I never heard him raise or lower his voice in speaking.” He happened to fall ill, and retired to the temple of Asclepius, where he proceeded to walk about. At once people flocked round him in the belief that he had retired thither, not on account of illness, but in order to open a school. Among them was Arcesilaus, who wished to be introduced by his means to Polemo, notwithstanding the affection which united the two, as will be related in the Life of Arcesilaus. However, when he recovered, he continued to attend Polemo’s lectures, and for this he was universally praised. He is also said to have left Arcesilaus his property, to the value of twelve talents. And when asked by him where he wished to be buried, he answered:21

Sweet in some nook of native soil to rest.

It is also said that he wrote poems and deposited them under seal in the temple of Athena in his native place. And Theaetetus the poet writes thus of him:22

Pleasing to men, more pleasing to the Muses, lived Crantor, and never saw old age. Receive, O earth, the hallowed dead; gently may he live and thrive even in the world below.

Crantor admired Homer and Euripides above all other poets; it is hard, he said, at once to write tragedy and to stir the emotions in the language of everyday life. And he would quote the line from the story of Bellerophon:23

Alas! But why Alas? We have suffered the lot of mortals.

And it is said that there are extant24 these lines of the poet Antagoras, spoken by Crantor on Love:

My mind is in doubt, since thy birth is disputed, whether I am to call thee, Love, the first of the immortal gods, the eldest of all the children whom old Erebus and queenly Night brought to birth in the depths beneath wide Ocean; or art thou the child of wise Cypris, or of Earth, or of the Winds? So many are the goods and ills thou devisest for men in thy wanderings. Therefore hast thou a body of double form.

He was also clever at inventing terms. For instance, he said of a tragic player’s voice that it was unpolished and unpeeled. And of a certain poet that his verses abounded in miserliness. And that the disquisitions of Theophrastus were written with an oyster-shell. His most highly esteemed work is the treatise On Grief. 25 He died before Polemo and Crates, his end being hastened by dropsy. I have composed upon him the following epigram:26

The worst of maladies overwhelmed you, Crantor, and thus did you descend the black abyss of Pluto. While you fare well even in the world below, the Academy and your country of Soli are bereft of your discourses.

21 Nauck, T.G.F. ², Adesp. 281.

22 Anth. Plan. ii. 28.

23 Nauck, T.G.F. ², Eur. 300.

24 Anth. Plan. iii. 60.

25Legimus omnes Crantoris, veteris Academici, de luctu; est enim non magnus, verum aureolus et, ut Tuberoni Panaetius praecipit, ad verbum ediscendus libellus “ (Cic. Ac. Pr. ii. 44).

26 Anth. Plan. ii. 381.


Arcesilaus, the son of Seuthes, according to Apollodorus in the third book of his Chronology, came from Pitane in Aeolis. With him begins the Middle Academy; he was the first to suspend his judgement owing to the contradictions of opposing arguments. He was also the first to argue on both sides of a question, and the first to meddle with the system handed down by Plato and, by means of question and answer, to make it more closely resemble eristic.

He came across Crantor in this way. He was the youngest of four brothers, two of them being his brothers by the same father, and two by the same mother. Of the last two Pylades was the elder, and of the former two Moereas, and Moereas was his guardian. At first, before he left Pitane for Athens, he was a pupil of the mathematician Autolycus, his fellow-countryman, and with him he also travelled to Sardis. Next he studied under Xanthus, the musician, of Athens; then he was a pupil of Theophrastus. Lastly, he crossed over to the Academy and joined Crantor. For while his brother Moereas, who has already been mentioned, wanted to make him a rhetorician, he was himself devoted to philosophy, and Crantor, being enamoured of him, cited the line from the Andromeda of Euripides:27

O maiden, if I save thee, wilt thou be grateful to me?

and was answered with the next line:28

Take me, stranger, whether for maidservant or for wife.

After that they lived together. Whereupon Theophrastus, nettled at his loss, is said to have remarked, “What a quick-witted and ready pupil has left my school!” For, besides being most effective in argument and decidedly fond of writing books, he also took up poetry. And there is extant an epigram of his upon Attalus which runs thus:29

Pergamos, not famous in arms alone, is often celebrated for its steeds in divine Pisa. And if a mortal may make bold to utter the will of heaven, it will be much more sung by bards in days to come.

And again upon Menodorus, the favourite of Eugamus, one of his fellow-students:30

Far, far away are Phrygia and sacred Thyatira, thy native land, Menodorus, son of Cadanus. But to unspeakable Acheron the ways are equal, from whatever place they be measured, as the proverb saith. To thee Eugamus raised this far-seen monument, for thou wert dearest to him of all who for him toiled.

He esteemed Homer above all the poets and would always read a passage from him before going to sleep. And in the morning he would say, whenever he wanted to read Homer, that he would pay a visit to his dear love. Pindar too he declared matchless for imparting fullness of diction and for affording a copious store of words and phrases. And in his youth he made a special study of Ion.

He also attended the lectures of the geometer Hipponicus, at whom he pointed a jest as one who was in all besides a listless, yawning sluggard but yet proficient in his subject. “Geometry,” he said, “must have flown into his mouth while it was agape.” When this man’s mind gave way, Arcesilaus took him to his house and nursed him until he was completely restored. He took over the school on the death of Crates, a certain Socratides having retired in his favour. According to some, one result of his suspending judgement on all matters was that he never so much as wrote a book.31 Others relate that he was caught revising some works of Crantor, which according to some he published, according to others he burnt. He would seem to have held Plato in admiration, and he possessed a copy of his works. Some represent him as emulous of Pyrrho as well. He was devoted to dialectic and adopted the methods of argument introduced by the Eretrian school. On account of this Ariston said of him:

Plato the head of him, Pyrrho the tail, midway Diodorus.32

And Timon speaks of him thus:33

Having the lead of Menedemus at his heart, he will run either to that mass of flesh, Pyrrho, or to Diodorus.

And a little farther on he introduces him as saying:

I shall swim to Pyrrho and to crooked Diodorus.

He was highly axiomatic and concise, and in his discourse fond of distinguishing the meaning of terms. He was satirical enough, and outspoken. This is why Timon speaks of him again as follows:

And mixing sound sense with wily cavils.34

Hence, when a young man talked more boldly than was becoming, Arcesilaus exclaimed, “Will no one beat him at a game of knuckle-bone?” Again, when some one of immodest life denied that one thing seemed to him greater than another, he rejoined, “Then six inches and ten inches are all the same to you?” There was a certain Hemon, a Chian, who, though ugly, fancied himself to be handsome, and always went about in fine clothes. He having propounded as his opinion that the wise man will never fall in love, Arcesilaus replied, “What, not with one so handsome as you and so handsomely dressed?” And when one of loose life, to imply that Arcesilaus was arrogant, addressed him thus:35

Queen, may I speak, or must I silence keep?

his reply was:36

Woman, why talk so harshly, not as thou art wont?

When some talkative person of no family caused him considerable trouble, he cited the line:37

Right ill to live with are the sons of slaves.

Of another who talked much nonsense he said that he could not have had even a nurse to scold him. And some persons he would not so much as answer. To a money-lending student, upon his confessing ignorance of something or other, Arcesilaus replied with two lines from the Oenomaus of Sophocles:38

Be sure the hen-bird knows not from what quarter the wind blows until she looks for a new brood in the nest.39

A certain dialectic, a follower of Alexinus, was unable to repeat properly some argument of his teacher, whereupon Arcesilaus reminded him of the story of Philoxenus and the brickmakers. He found them singing some of his melodies out of tune; so he retaliated by trampling on the bricks they were making, saying, “If you spoil my work, I’ll spoil yours.” He was, moreover, genuinely annoyed with any who took up their studies too late. By some natural impulse he was betrayed into using such phrases as “I assert,” and “So-and-so” (mentioning the name) “will not assent to this.”40 And this trait many of his pupils imitated, as they did also his style of speaking and his whole address.

Very fertile in invention, he could meet objection acutely or bring the course of discussion back to the point at issue, and fit it to every occasion. In persuasiveness he had no equal, and this all the more drew pupils to the school, although they were in terror of his pungent wit. But they willingly put up with that; for his goodness was extraordinary, and he inspired his pupils with hopes. He showed the greatest generosity in private life, being ever ready to confer benefits, yet most modestly anxious to conceal the favour. For instance, he once called upon Ctesibius when he was ill and, seeing in what straits he was, quietly put a purse under his pillow. He, when he found it, said, “This is the joke of Arcesilaus.” Moreover, on another occasion, he sent him 1000 drachmas.

Again, by introducing Archias the Arcadian to Eumenes, he caused him to be advanced to great dignity. And, as he was very liberal, caring very little for money, so he was the first to attend performances where seats were paid for, and he was above all eager to go to those of Archecrates and Callicrates, for which the fee was a gold piece. And he helped many people and collected subscriptions for them. Some one once borrowed his silver plate in order to entertain friends and never brought it back, but Arcesilaus did not ask him for it and pretended it had not been borrowed. Another version of the story is that he lent it on purpose, and, when it was returned, made the borrower a present of it because he was poor. He had property in Pitane from which his brother Pylades sent him supplies. Furthermore, Eumenes, the son of Philetaerus, furnished him with large sums, and for this reason Eumenes was the only one of the contemporary kings to whom he dedicated any of his works.

And whereas many persons courted Antigonus and went to meet him whenever he came to Athens, Arcesilaus remained at home, not wishing to thrust himself upon his acquaintance. He was on the best of terms with Hierocles, the commandant in Munichia and Piraeus, and at every festival would go down to see him. And though Hierocles joined in urging him to pay his respects to Antigonus, he was not prevailed upon, but, after going as far as the gates, turned back. And after the battle at sea,41 when many went to Antigonus or wrote him flattering letters, he held his peace. However, on behalf of his native city, he did go to Demetrias as envoy to Antigonus, but failed in his mission. He spent his time wholly in the Academy, shunning politics.

Once indeed, when at Athens, he stopped too long in the Piraeus, discussing themes, out of friendship for Hierocles, and for this he was censured by certain persons.42 He was very lavish, in short another Aristippus, and he was fond of dining well, but only with those who shared his tastes. He lived openly with Theodete and Phila, the Elean courtesans, and to those who censured him he quoted the maxims of Aristippus. He was also fond of boys and very susceptible. Hence he was accused by Ariston of Chios, the Stoic, and his followers, who called him a corrupter of youth and a shameless teacher of immorality. He is said to have been particularly enamoured of Demetrius who sailed to Cyrene, and of Cleochares of Myrlea; of him the story is told that, when a band of revellers came to the door, he told them that for his part he was willing to admit them but that Cleochares would not let him. This same youth had amongst his admirers Demochares the son of Laches, and Pythocles the son of Bugelus, and once when Arcesilaus had caught them, with great forbearance he ordered them off. For all this he was assailed and ridiculed by the critics abovementioned, as a friend of the mob who courted popularity. The most virulent attacks were made upon him in the circle of Hieronymus the Peripatetic,43 whenever he collected his friends to keep the birthday of Halcyoneus, son of Antigonus, an occasion for which Antigonus used to send large sums of money to be spent in merrymaking. There he had always shunned discussion over the wine; and when Aridices, proposing a certain question, requested him to speak upon it, he replied, “The peculiar province of philosophy is just this, to know that there is a time for all things.” As to the charge brought against him that he was the friend of the mob, Timon, among many other things, has the following:44

So saying, he plunged into the surrounding crowd. And they were amazed at him, like chaffinches about an owl, pointing him out as vain, because he was a flatterer of the mob. And why, insignificant thing that you are, do you puff yourself out like a simpleton?45

And yet for all that he was modest enough to recommend his pupils to hear other philosophers. And when a certain youth from Chios was not well pleased with his lectures and preferred those of the above-mentioned Hieronymus, Arcesilaus himself took him and introduced him to that philosopher, with an injunction to behave well.

Another pleasant story told of him is this. Some one had inquired why it was that pupils from all the other schools went over to Epicurus, but converts were never made from the Epicureans: “Because men may become eunuchs, but a eunuch never becomes a man,” was his answer.

At last, being near his end, he left all his property to his brother Pylades, because, unknown to Moereas, he had taken him to Chios and thence brought him to Athens. In all his life he never married nor had any children. He made three wills: the first he left at Eretria in the charge of Amphicritus, the second at Athens in the charge of certain friends, while the third he dispatched to his home to Thaumasias, one of his relatives, with the request that he would keep it safe. To this man he also wrote as follows:

“Arcesilaus to Thaumasias greeting.

“I have given Diogenes my will to be conveyed to you. For, owing to my frequent illnesses and the weak state of my body, I decided to make a will, in order that, if anything untoward should happen, you, who have been so devotedly attached to me, should not suffer by my decease. You are the most deserving of all those in this place to be entrusted with the will, on the score both of age and of relationship to me. Remember then that I have reposed the most absolute confidence in you, and strive to deal justly by me, in order that, so far as you are concerned, the provisions I have made may be carried out with fitting dignity. A copy is deposited at Athens with some of my acquaintance, and another in Eretria with Amphicritus.”

He died, according to Hermippus, through drinking too freely of unmixed wine which affected his reason; he was already seventy-five and regarded by the Athenians with unparalleled good-will.

I have written upon him as follows:46

Why, pray, Arcesilaus, didst thou quaff so unsparingly unmixed wine as to go out of thy mind? I pity thee not so much for thy death as because thou didst insult the Muses by immoderate potations.

Three other men have borne the name of Arcesilaus: a poet of the Old Comedy, another poet who wrote elegies, and a sculptor besides, on whom Simonides composed this epigram:47

This is a statue of Artemis and its cost two hundred Parian drachmas, which bear a goat for their device. It was made by Arcesilaus, the worthy son of Aristodicus, well practised in the arts of Athena.

According to Apollodorus in his Chronology, the philosopher described in the foregoing flourished about the 120th Olympiad.48

27 Nauck, T.G.F. ², Eur. 129.

28 Ib. 132.

29 Anth. Plan. iii. 56.

30 Anth. Plan. ii. 382.

31 If this be so, the study of the poet Ion (§ 31) must have remained unpublished.

32 A parody of Homer, Il. vi. 181: a chimaera has a lion’s front, a dragon’s tail, and the body of a goat.

33 Cf. Hom. Od. v. 346.

34 Or possibly with Wachsmuth: “mixing jest in wily fashion (αἱμυλίως) with abuse.”

35 Nauck, T.G.F. ², Adesp. 282.

36 Nauck, T.G.F. ², Adesp. 283: cf. Wilam. Antiq. v. Kar. p. 74.

37 Nauck, T.G.F. ², Eur. 976.

38 Nauck, T.G.F. ², Soph. 436.

39 “Men pay little heed to obvious facts except when their own interests are concerned.” So A. C. Pearson, ad loc., Soph. Fragments, 477 (vol. ii. p. 130), who takes διέξοδοι in the more specific sense: “passage of the winds (through her body),” the reference being to the old fable of the wind-egg (Aristoph. Aves, 695, Aristot. Hist. An. vi. 2, 560 a 6). To the usurer τόκος would suggest interest on loans.

40 The use of these phrases was inconsistent with the suspension of judgement professed by Arcesilaus.

41 The reference may be to one of the naval victories gained by Antigonus over the Egyptian fleet towards the end of his reign, at Cos and again at Andros. See W. W. Tarn, Antigonus Gonatas, pp. 378, 461-6.

42 It has been suggested that the sense would be improved if Ἀθήνησι were transposed to come between τὸν and πολιτισμὸν, adding; καὶ πρὸς τὰς θέσεις λέγων after πολιτισμὸν ἐκτοπίζων instead of after Πειραιεῖ. This account seems in some respects to confirm the impression conveyed by the sentence a little higher up, beginning πολλῶν δὲ καὶ τὸν Ἀντίγονον.  . . ἑκάστοτε.

43 οἱ περὶ Ἱερώνυμον τὸν Περιπατητικόν is said by Stephanus to be a marginal gloss. The reading of the mss. is παρὰ Ἱερωνύμῳ τῷ Π.

44 Cf. infra, v. 59.

45 Frag. 34 D. Cf. the rhythm, Hom. Il. i. 326 and iv. 482.

46 Anth. Pal. vii. 104.

47 Anth. Plan. iii. 9.

48 300-296 B.C.


Bion was by birth a citizen of Borysthenes [Olbia]; who his parents were, and what his circumstances before he took to philosophy, he himself told Antigonus in plain terms. For, when Antigonus inquired:

Who among men, and whence, are you? What is your city and your parents?49

he, knowing that he had already been maligned to the king, replied, “My father was a freedman, who wiped his nose on his sleeve” – meaning that he was a dealer in salt fish – “a native of Borysthenes, with no face to show, but only the writing on his face, a token of his master’s severity. My mother was such as a man like my father would marry, from a brothel. Afterwards my father, who had cheated the revenue in some way, was sold with all his family. And I, then a not ungraceful youngster, was bought by a certain rhetorician, who on his death left me all he had. And I burnt his books, scraped everything together, came to Athens and turned philosopher.

This is the stock and this the blood from which I boast to have sprung.50

Such is my story. It is high time, then, that Persaeus and Philonides left off recounting it. Judge me by myself.”

In truth Bion was in other respects a shifty character, a subtle sophist, and one who had given the enemies of philosophy many an occasion to blaspheme, while in certain respects he was even pompous and able to indulge in arrogance. He left very many memoirs, and also sayings of useful application. For example, when he was reproached for not paying court to a youth, his excuse was, “You can’t get hold of a soft cheese with a hook.” Being once asked who suffers most from anxiety, he replied, “He who is ambitious of the greatest prosperity.” Being consulted by some one as to whether he should marry – for this story is also told of Bion – he made answer, “If the wife you marry be ugly, she will be your bane; if beautiful, you will not keep her to yourself.”51 He called old age the harbour of all ills; at least they all take refuge there. Renown he called the mother of virtues; beauty another’s good; wealth the sinews of success. To some one who had devoured his patrimony he said, “The earth swallowed Amphiaraus, but you have swallowed your land.” To be unable to bear an ill is itself a great ill. He used to condemn those who burnt men alive as if they could not feel, and yet cauterized them as if they could. He used repeatedly to say that to grant favours to another was preferable to enjoying the favours of others. For the latter means ruin to both body and soul. He even abused Socrates, declaring that, if he felt desire for Alcibiades and abstained, he was a fool; if he did not, his conduct was in no way remarkable. The road to Hades, he used to say, was easy to travel; at any rate men passed away with their eyes shut. He said in censure of Alcibiades that in his boyhood he drew away the husbands from their wives, and as a young man the wives from their husbands. When the Athenians were absorbed in the practice of rhetoric, he taught philosophy at Rhodes. To some one who found fault with him for this he replied, “How can I sell barley when what I brought to market is wheat?”

He used to say that those in Hades would be more severely punished if the vessels in which they drew water were whole instead of being pierced with holes. To an importunate talker who wanted his help he said, “I will satisfy your demand, if you will only get others to plead your cause and stay away yourself.” On a voyage in bad company he fell in with pirates. When his companions said, “We are lost if we are discovered,” “And I too,” he replied, “unless I am discovered.” Conceit he styled a hindrance to progress. Referring to a wealthy miser he said, “He has not acquired a fortune; the fortune has acquired him.” Misers, he said, took care of property as if it belonged to them, but derived no more benefit from it than if it belonged to others. “When we are young,” said he, “we are courageous, but it is only in old age that prudence is at its height.” Prudence, he said, excels the other virtues as much as sight excels the other senses. He used to say that we ought not to heap reproaches on old age, seeing that, as he said, we all hope to reach it. To a slanderer who showed a grave face his words were, “I don’t know whether you have met with ill luck, or your neighbour with good.” He used to say that low birth made a bad partner for free speech, for –

It cows a man, however bold his heart.52

We ought, he remarked, to watch our friends and see what manner of men they are, in order that we may not be thought to associate with the bad or to decline the friendship of the good.

Bion at the outset used to deprecate the Academic doctrines,53 even at the time when he was a pupil of Crates. Then he adopted the Cynic discipline, donning cloak and wallet. For little else was needed to convert him to the doctrine of entire insensibility.

Next he went over to Theodorean views, after he had heard the lectures of Theodorus the Atheist, who used every kind of sophistical argument. And after Theodorus he attended the lectures of Theophrastus the Peripatetic. He was fond of display and great at cutting up anything with a jest, using vulgar names for things. Because he employed every style of speech in combination, Eratosthenes, we hear, said of him that he was the first to deck philosophy with bright-flowered robes. He was clever also at parody. Here is a specimen of his style:

O gentle Archytas, musician-born, blessed in thine own conceit, most skilled of men to stir the bass of strife.54

And in general he made sport of music and geometry. He lived extravagantly, and for this reason he would move from one city to another, sometimes contriving to make a great show. Thus at Rhodes he persuaded the sailors to put on students’ garb and follow in his train. And when, attended by them, he made his way into the gymnasium, all eyes were fixed on him. It was his custom also to adopt certain young men for the gratification of his appetite and in order that he might be protected by their goodwill.55 He was extremely selfish and insisted strongly on the maxim that “friends share in common.” And hence it came about that he is not credited with a single disciple, out of all the crowds who attended his lectures. And yet there were some who followed his lead in shamelessness. For instance, Betion, one of his intimates, is said once to have addressed Menedemus in these words: “For my part, Menedemus, I pass the night with Bion, and I don’t think I am any the worse for it.” In his familiar talk he would often vehemently assail belief in the gods, a taste which he had derived from Theodorus. Afterwards, when he fell ill (so it was said by the people of Chalcis where he died), he was persuaded to wear an amulet and to repent of his offences against religion. And even for want of nurses he was in a sad plight, until Antigonus sent him two servants. And it is stated by Favorinus in his Miscellaneous History that the king himself followed in a litter.

Even so he died, and in these lines56 I have taken him to task:

We hear that Bion, to whom the Scythian land of Borysthenes gave birth, denied that the gods really exist. Had he persisted in holding this opinion, it would have been right to say, “He thinks as he pleases: wrongly, to be sure, but still he does think so.” But in fact, when he fell ill of a lingering disease and feared death, he who denied the existence of the gods, and would not even look at a temple, who often mocked at mortals for sacrificing to deities, not only over hearth and high altars and table, with sweet savour and fat and incense did he gladden the nostrils of the gods; nor was he content to say “I have sinned, forgive the past,” but he cheerfully allowed an old woman to put a charm round his neck, and in full faith bound his arms with leather and placed the rhamnus and the laurel-branch over the door, being ready to submit to anything sooner than die. Fool for wishing that the divine favour might be purchased at a certain price, as if the gods existed just when Bion chose to recognize them! It was then with vain wisdom that, when the driveller was all ashes, he stretched out his hand and said “Hail, Pluto, hail!”

Ten men have borne the name of Bion: (1) the contemporary of Pherecydes of Syria, to whom are assigned two books in the Ionic dialect; he was of Proconnesus; (2) a Syracusan, who wrote rhetorical handbooks; (3) our philosopher; (4) a follower of Democritus and mathematician of Abdera, who wrote both in Attic and in Ionic: he was the first to affirm that there are places where the night lasts for six months and the day for six months;57 (5) a native of Soli, who wrote a work on Aethiopia; (6) a rhetorician, the author of nine books called after the Muses; (7) a lyric poet; (8) a Milesian sculptor, mentioned by Polemo; (9) a tragic poet, one of the poets of Tarsus, as they are called; (10) a sculptor of Clazomenae or Chios, mentioned by Hipponax.

49 Hom. Od. x. 325.

50 Hom. Il. vi. 211.

51 Cf. infra, vi. 3.

52 Eur. Hipp. 424.

53 i.e. he had his doubts. Reiske, however, by his conjecture προῄρητο gives the statement a totally different turn, viz. that Bion had at the outset preferred the Academy.

54 Cf. Hom. Il. iii. 182 ὦ μάκαρ Ἀτρεΐδη, μοιρηγενές, ὀλβιόδαιμον. The address; πάντων ἐκπαγλότατ᾽ ἀνδρῶν occurs in Il. i. 146 and xviii. 170.

55 See, however, supra, 49.

56 Anth. Plan. v. 37.

57 Possibly Pytheas of Massilia in his “Northern Voyage” had had experience of Arctic winters and summers.


Lacydes, son of Alexander, was a native of Cyrene He was the founder of the New Academy and the successor of Arcesilaus: a man of very serious character who found numerous admirers; industrious from his youth up and, though poor, of pleasant manners and pleasant conversation. A most amusing story is told of his housekeeping. Whenever he brought anything out of the store-room, he would seal the door up again and throw his signet-ring inside through the opening, to ensure that nothing laid up there should be stolen or carried off. So soon, then, as his rogues of servants got to know this, they broke the seal and carried off what they pleased, afterwards throwing the ring in the same way through the opening into the store-room. Nor were they ever detected in this.

Lacydes used to lecture in the Academy, in the garden which had been laid out by King Attalus, and from him it derived its name of Lacydeum. He did what none of his predecessors had ever done; in his lifetime he handed over the school to Telecles and Evander, both of Phocaea. Evander was succeeded by Hegesinus of Pergamum, and he again by Carneades. A good saying is attributed to Lacydes. When Attalus sent for him, he is said to have remarked that statues are best seen from a distance. He stadied geometry late, and some one said to him, “Is this a proper time?” To which he replied, “Nay, is it not even yet the proper time?”

He assumed the headship of the school in the fourth year of the 134th Olympiad,58 and at his death he had been head for twenty-six years. His end was a palsy brought on by drinking too freely. And here is a quip of my own upon the fact:59

Of thee too, O Lacydes, I have heard a tale, that Bacchus seized thee and dragged thee on tip-toe60 to the underworld. Nay, was it not clear that when the wine-god comes in force into the frame, he loosens our limbs? Perhaps this is why he gets his name of the Loosener.

58 July 241-June 240 B.C.

59 Anth. Pal. vii. 105.

60 Or “with trailing toes.” The vases show bodies carried in the arms or flung over the shoulders with the toes just touching the ground.


Carneades, the son of Epicomus or (according to Alexander in his Successions of Philosophers ) of Philocomus, was a native of Cyrene. He studied carefully the writings of the Stoics and particularly those of Chrysippus, and by combating these successfully he became so famous that he would often say:

Without Chrysippus where should I have been?

The man’s industry was unparalleled, although in physics he was not so strong as in ethics. Hence he would let his hair and nails grow long from intense devotion to study. Such was his predominance in philosophy that even the rhetoricians would dismiss their classes and repair to him to hear him lecture.

His voice was extremely powerful, so that the keeper of the gymnasium sent to him and requested him not to shout so loud. To which he replied, “Then give me something by which to regulate my voice.” Thereupon by a happy hit the man replied in the words, “You have a regulator in your audience.” His talent for criticizing opponents was remarkable, and he was a formidable controversialist. And for the reasons already given he further declined invitations to dine out. One of his pupils was Mentor the Bithynian, who tried to ingratiate himself with a concubine of Carneades; so on one occasion (according to Favorinus in his Miscellaneous History ), when Mentor came to lecture, Carneades in the course of his remarks let fall these lines by way of parody at his expense:

Hither comes an old man of the sea, infallible, like to Mentor in person and in voice.61 Him I proclaim to have been banished from this school.

Thereupon the other got up and replied:

Those on their part made proclamation, and these speedily assembled.62

He seems to have shown some want of courage in the face of death, repeating often the words, “Nature which framed this whole will also destroy it.” When he learnt that Antipater committed suicide by drinking a potion, he was greatly moved by the constancy with which he met his end, and exclaimed, “Give it then to me also.” And when those about him asked “What?” “A honeyed draught,” said he. At the time he died the moon is said to have been eclipsed, and one might well say that the brightest luminary in heaven next to the sun thereby gave token of her sympathy.

According to Apollodorus in his Chronology, he departed this life in the fourth year of the 162nd Olympiad63 at the age of eighty-five years. Letters of his to Ariarathes, king of Cappadocia, are extant. Everything else was compiled by his pupils; he himself left nothing in writing. I have written upon him in logaoedic metre as follows:64

Why, Muse, oh why wouldst thou have me censure Carneades? For he is ignorant who knoweth not how he feared death. When wasting away with the worst of diseases, he would not find release. But when he heard that Antipater’s life was quenched by drinking a potion, “Give me too,” he cried, “a draught to drink.” “What? pray what?” “Give me a draught of honeyed wine.” He had often on his lips the words, “Nature which holds this frame together will surely dissolve it.” None the less he too went down to the grave, and he might have got there sooner by cutting short his tale of woes.

It is said that his eyes went blind at night without his knowing it, and he ordered the slave to light the lamp. The latter brought it and said, “Here it is.” “Then,” said Carneades, “read.”

He had many other disciples, but the most illustrious of them all was Clitomachus, of whom we have next to speak.

There was another Carneades, a frigid elegiac poet.

61 Carneades applies two lines from the Odyssey, namely iv. 384 and (with a change to the masculine participle) ii. 268 or 401.

62 Hom. Il. ii. 52.

63 129-128 B.C.

64 Anth. Plan. v. 39.


Clitomachus was a Carthaginian, his real name being Hasdrubal, and he taught philosophy at Carthage in his native tongue. He had reached his fortieth year when he went to Athens and became a pupil of Carneades. And Carneades, recognizing his industry, caused him to be educated and took part in training him. And to such lengths did his diligence go that he composed more than four hundred treatises. He succeeded Carneades in the headship of the school, and by his writings did much to elucidate his opinions. He was eminently well acquainted with the three sects – the Academy, the Peripatetics, and the Stoics.

The Academics in general are assailed by Timon in the line:

The prolixity of the Academics unseasoned by salt.

Having thus reviewed the Academics who derived from Plato, we will now pass on to the Peripatetics, who also derived from Plato. They begin with Aristotle.

Book V

Aristotle. Theophrastus. Strato. Lyco. Demetrius. Heraclides.


Aristotle, son of Nicomachus and Phaestis, was a native of Stagira. His father, Nicomachus, as Hermippus relates in his book On Aristotle, traced his descent from Nicomachus who was the son of Machaon and grandson of Asclepius; and he resided with Amyntas, the king of Macedon, in the capacity of physician and friend. Aristotle was Plato’s most genuine disciple; he spoke with a lisp, as we learn from Timotheus the Athenian in his book On Lives; further, his calves were slender (so they say), his eyes small, and he was conspicuous by his attire, his rings, and the cut of his hair. According to Timaeus, he had a son by Herpyllis, his concubine, who was also called Nicomachus.

He seceded from the Academy while Plato was still alive. Hence the remark attributed to the latter: “Aristotle spurns me, as colts kick out at the mother who bore them.”1 Hermippus in his Lives mentions that he was absent as Athenian envoy at the court of Philip when Xenocrates became head of the Academy, and that on his return, when he saw the school under a new head, he made choice of a public walk in the Lyceum where he would walk up and down discussing philosophy with his pupils until it was time to rub themselves with oil. Hence the name “Peripatetic.” But others say that it was given to him because, when Alexander was recovering from an illness and taking daily walks, Aristotle joined him and talked with him on certain matters.

In time the circle about him grew larger; he then sat down to lecture, remarking:2

It were base to keep silence and let Xenocrates3 speak.

He also taught his pupils to discourse upon a set theme, besides practising them in oratory. Afterwards, however, he departed to Hermias the eunuch, who was tyrant of Atarneus, and there is one story that he was on very affectionate terms with Hermias; according to another, Hermias bound him by ties of kinship, giving him his daughter or his niece in marriage, and so Demetrius of Magnesia narrates in his work on Poets and Writers of the Same Name. The same author tells us that Hermias had been the slave of Eubulus, and that he was of Bithynian origin and had murdered his master. Aristippus in his first book On the Luxury of the Ancients says that Aristotle fell in love with a concubine of Hermias, and married her with his consent, and in an excess of delight sacrificed to a weak woman as the Athenians did to Demeter of Eleusis;4 and that he composed a paean in honour of Hermias, which is given below; next that he stayed in Macedonia at Philip’s court and received from him his son Alexander as his pupil; that he petitioned Alexander to restore his native city which had been destroyed by Philip and obtained his request; and that he also drew up a code of laws for the inhabitants. We learn further that, following the example of Xenocrates, he made it a rule in his school that every ten days a new president should be appointed. When he thought that he had stayed long enough with Alexander, he departed to Athens, having first presented to Alexander his kinsman Callisthenes of Olynthus. But when Callisthenes talked with too much freedom to the king and disregarded his own advice, Aristotle is said to have rebuked him by citing the line:5

Short-lived, I ween, wilt thou be, my child, by what thou sayest.

And so indeed it fell out. For he, being suspected of complicity in the plot of Hermolaus against the life of Alexander, was confined in an iron cage and carried about until he became infested with vermin through lack of proper attention; and finally he was thrown to a lion and so met his end.

To return to Aristotle: he came to Athens, was head of his school for thirteen years, and then withdrew to Chalcis because he was indicted for impiety by Eurymedon the hierophant, or, according to Favorinus6 in his Miscellaneous History, by Demophilus, the ground of the charge being the hymn he composed to the aforesaid Hermias, as well as the following inscription for his statue at Delphi:7

This man in violation of the hallowed law of the immortals was unrighteously slain by the king of the bow-bearing Persians, who overcame him, not openly with a spear in murderous combat, but by treachery with the aid of one in whom he trusted.

At Chalcis he died, according to Eumelus in the fifth book of his Histories, by drinking aconite, at the age of seventy. The same authority makes him thirty years old when he came to Plato; but here he is mistaken. For Aristotle lived to be sixty-three, and he was seventeen when he became Plato’s pupil.

The hymn in question runs as follows:

O virtue, toilsome for the generation of mortals to achieve, the fairest prize that life can win, for thy beauty, O virgin, it were a doom glorious in Hellas even to die and to endure fierce, untiring labours. Such courage dost thou implant in the mind, imperishable, better than gold, dearer than parents or soft-eyed sleep. For thy sake Heracles, son of Zeus, and the sons of Leda endured much in the tasks whereby they pursued thy might. And yearning after thee came Achilles and Ajax to the house of Hades, and for the sake of thy dear form the nursling of Atarneus too was bereft of the light of the sun. Therefore shall his deeds be sung, and the Muses, the daughters of Memory, shall make him immortal, exalting the majesty of Zeus, guardian of strangers, and the grace of lasting friendship.

There is, too, something of my own upon the philosopher which I will quote:8

Eurymedon, the priest of Deo’s mysteries, was once about to indict Aristotle for impiety, but he, by a draught of poison, escaped prosecution. This then was an easy way of vanquishing unjust calumnies.

Favorinus in his Miscellaneous History affirms that Aristotle was the first to compose a forensic speech in his own defence written for this very suit; and he cites him as saying that at Athens9

Pear upon pear grows old and fig upon fig.10

According to Apollodorus in his Chronology he was born in the first year of the 99th Olympiad.11 He attached himself to Plato and resided with him twenty years, having become his pupil at the age of seventeen. He went to Mitylene in the archonship of Eubulus in the fourth year of the 108th Olympiad.12 When Plato died in the first year of that Olympiad,13 during the archonship of Theophilus, he went to Hermias and stayed with him three years. In the archonship of Pythodotus, in the second year of the 109th Olympiad,14 he went to the court of Philip, Alexander being then in his fifteenth year. His arrival at Athens was in the second year of the 111th Olympiad,15 and he lectured in the Lyceum for thirteen years; then he retired to Chalcis in the third year of the 114th Olympiad16 and died a natural death, at the age of about sixty-three, in the archonship of Philocles, in the same year in which Demosthenes died at Calauria. It is said that he incurred the king’s displeasure because he had introduced Callisthenes to him, and that Alexander, in order to cause him annoyance, honoured Anaximenes17 and sent presents to Xenocrates.

Theocritus of Chios, according to Ambryon in his book On Theocritus, ridiculed him in an epigram which runs as follows:18

To Hermias the eunuch, the slave withal of Eubulus, an empty monument was raised by empty-witted Aristotle, who by constraint of a lawless appetite chose to dwell at the mouth of the Borborus [muddy stream] rather than in the Academy.

Timon again attacked him in the line:19

No, nor yet Aristotle’s painful futility.20

Such then was the life of the philosopher. I have also come across his will, which is worded thus:

“All will be well; but, in case anything should happen, Aristotle has made these dispositions. Antipater is to be executor in all matters and in general; but, until Nicanor shall arrive, Aristomenes, Timarchus, Hipparchus, Dioteles and (if he consent and if circumstances permit him) Theophrastus shall take charge as well of Herpyllis and the children as of the property. And when the girl shall be grown up she shall be given in marriage to Nicanor; but if anything happen to the girl (which heaven forbid and no such thing will happen) before her marriage, or when she is married but before there are children, Nicanor shall have full powers, both with regard to the child and with regard to everything else, to administer in a manner worthy both of himself and of us. Nicanor shall take charge of the girl and of the boy Nicomachus as he shall think fit in all that concerns them as if he were father and brother. And if anything should happen to Nicanor (which heaven forbid!) either before he marries the girl, or when he has married her but before there are children, any arrangements that he may make shall be valid. And if Theophrastus is willing to live with her, he shall have the same rights as Nicanor. Otherwise the executors in consultation with Antipater shall administer as regards the daughter and the boy as seems to them to be best. The executors and Nicanor, in memory of me and of the steady affection which Herpyllis has borne towards me, shall take care of her in every other respect and, if she desires to be married, shall see that she be given to one not unworthy; and besides what she has already received they shall give her a talent of silver out of the estate and three handmaids whomsoever she shall choose besides the maid she has at present and the man-servant Pyrrhaeus; and if she chooses to remain at Chalcis, the lodge by the garden, if in Stagira, my father’s house. Whichever of these two houses she chooses, the executors shall furnish with such furniture as they think proper and as Herpyllis herself may approve. Nicanor shall take charge of the boy Myrmex, that he be taken to his own friends in a manner worthy of me with the property of his which we received. Ambracis shall be given her freedom, and on my daughter’s marriage shall receive 500 drachmas and the maid whom she now has. And to Thale shall be given, in addition to the maid whom she has and who was bought, a thousand drachmas and a maid. And Simon, in addition to the money before paid to him towards another servant, shall either have a servant purchased for him or receive a further sum of money. And Tycho, Philo, Olympius and his child shall have their freedom when my daughter is married. None of the servants who waited upon me shall be sold but they shall continue to be employed; and when they arrive at the proper age they shall have their freedom if they deserve it. My executors shall see to it, when the images which Gryllion has been commissioned to execute are finished, that they be set up, namely that of Nicanor, that of Proxenus, which it was my intention to have executed, and that of Nicanor’s mother; also they shall set up the bust which has been executed of Arimnestus, to be a memorial of him seeing that he died childless, and shall dedicate my mother’s statue to Demeter at Nemea or wherever they think best. And wherever they bury me, there the bones of Pythias shall be laid, in accordance with her own instructions. And to commemorate Nicanor’s safe return, as I vowed on his behalf, they shall set up in Stagira stone statues of life size to Zeus and Athena the Saviours.”21

Such is the tenor of Aristotle’s will. It is said that a very large number of dishes belonging to him were found, and that Lyco mentioned his bathing in a bath of warm oil and then selling the oil. Some relate that he placed a skin of warm oil on his stomach, and that, when he went to sleep, a bronze ball was placed in his hand with a vessel under it, in order that, when the ball dropped from his hand into the vessel, he might be waked up by the sound.22

Some exceedingly happy sayings are attributed to him, which I proceed to quote. To the question, “What do people gain by telling lies?” his answer was, “Just this, that when they speak the truth they are not believed.” Being once reproached for giving alms to a bad man, he rejoined, “It was the man and not his character that I pitied.”23 He used constantly to say to his friends and pupils, whenever or wherever he happened to be lecturing, “As sight takes in light from the surrounding air, so does the soul from mathematics.” Frequently and at some length he would say that the Athenians were the discoverers of wheat and of laws; but, though they used wheat, they had no use for laws.

“The roots of education,” he said, “are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” Being asked, “What is it that soon grows old?” he answered, “Gratitude.” He was asked to define hope, and he replied, “It is a waking dream.” When Diogenes offered him dried figs, he saw that he had prepared something caustic to say if he did not take them; so he took them and said Diogenes had lost his figs and his jest into the bargain. And on another occasion he took them when they were offered, lifted them up aloft, as you do babies, and returned them with the exclamation, “Great is Diogenes.” Three things he declared to be indispensable for education: natural endowment, study, and constant practice. On hearing that some one abused him, he rejoined, “He may even scourge me so it be in my absence.” Beauty he declared to be a greater recommendation than any letter of introduction. Others attribute this definition to Diogenes; Aristotle, they say, defined good looks as the gift of god, Socrates as a short-lived reign, Plato as natural superiority, Theophrastus as a mute deception, Theocritus as an evil in an ivory setting, Carneades as a monarchy that needs no bodyguard. Being asked how the educated differ from the uneducated, “As much,” he said, “as the living from the dead.”24 He used to declare education to be an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity. Teachers who educated children deserved, he said, more honour than parents who merely gave them birth; for bare life is furnished by the one, the other ensures a good life. To one who boasted that he belonged to a great city his reply was, “That is not the point to consider, but who it is that is worthy of a great country.” To the query, “What is a friend?” his reply was, “A single soul dwelling in two bodies.” Mankind, he used to say, were divided into those who were as thrifty as if they would live for ever, and those who were as extravagant as if they were going to die the next day. When some one inquired why we spend much time with the beautiful, “That,” he said, “is a blind man’s question.” When asked what advantage he had ever gained from philosophy, he replied, “This, that I do without being ordered what some are constrained to do by their fear of the law.”25 The question being put, how can students make progress, he replied, “By pressing hard on those in front and not waiting for those behind.” To the chatterbox who poured out a flood of talk upon him and then inquired, “Have I bored you to death with my chatter?” he replied, “No, indeed; for I was not attending to you.” When some one accused him of having given a subscription to a dishonest man – for the story is also told in this form26 – “It was not the man,” said he, “that I assisted, but humanity.” To the question how we should behave to friends, he answered, “As we should wish them to behave to us.” Justice he defined as a virtue of soul which distributes according to merit. Education he declared to be the best provision for old age. Favorinus in the second book of his Memorabilia mentions as one of his habitual sayings that “He who has friends can have no true friend.” Further, this is found in the seventh book of the Ethics. 27 These then are the sayings attributed to him.

His writings are very numerous and, considering the man’s all-round excellence, I deemed it incumbent on me to catalogue them:28

In all 445,270 lines.

Such is the number of the works written by him. And in them he puts forward the following views. There are two divisions of philosophy, the practical and the theoretical. The practical part includes ethics and politics, and in the latter not only the doctrine of the state but also that of the household is sketched. The theoretical part includes physics and logic, although logic is not an independent science, but is elaborated as an instrument to the rest of science. And he clearly laid down that it has a twofold aim, probability and truth. For each of these he employed two faculties, dialectic and rhetoric where probability is aimed at, analytic and philosophy where the end is truth; he neglects nothing which makes either for discovery or for judgement or for utility. As making for discovery he left in the Topics and Methodics a number of propositions, whereby the student can be well supplied with probable arguments for the solution of problems. As an aid to judgement he left the Prior and Posterior Analytics. By the Prior Analytics the premisses are judged, by the Posterior the process of inference is tested. For practical use there are the precepts on controversy and the works dealing with question and answer, with sophistical fallacies, syllogisms and the like. The test of truth which he put forward was sensation in the sphere of objects actually presented, but in the sphere of morals dealing with the state, the household and the laws, it was reason.

The one ethical end he held to be the exercise of virtue in a completed life. And happiness he maintained to be made up of goods of three sorts: goods of the soul, which indeed he designates as of the highest value; in the second place bodily goods, health and strength, beauty and the like; and thirdly external goods, such as wealth, good birth, reputation and the like. And he regarded virtue as not of itself sufficient to ensure happiness; bodily goods and external goods were also necessary, for the wise man would be miserable if he lived in the midst of pains, poverty, and similar circumstances. Vice, however, is sufficient in itself to secure misery, even if it be ever so abundantly furnished with corporeal and external goods. He held that the virtues are not mutually interdependent. For a man might be prudent, or again just, and at the same time profligate and unable to control his passions. He said too that the wise man was not exempt from all passions, but indulged them in moderation.

He defined friendship as an equality of reciprocal good-will, including under the term as one species the friendship of kinsmen, as another that of lovers, and as a third that of host and guest.30 The end of love was not merely intercourse but also philosophy. According to him the wise man would fall in love and take part in politics; furthermore he would marry and reside at a king’s court. Of three kinds of life, the contemplative, the practical, and the pleasure-loving life, he gave the preference to the contemplative. He held that the studies which make up the ordinary education are of service for the attainment of virtue.

In the sphere of natural science he surpassed all other philosophers in the investigation of causes, so that even the most insignificant phenomena were explained by him. Hence the unusual number of scientific notebooks which he compiled. Like Plato he held that God was incorporeal; that his providence extended to the heavenly bodies, that he is unmoved, and that earthly events are regulated by their affinity with them (the heavenly bodies). Besides the four elements he held that there is a fifth, of which the celestial bodies are composed. Its motion is of a different kind from that of the other elements, being circular. Further, he maintained the soul to be incorporeal, defining it as the first entelechy [i.e. realization] of a natural organic body potentially possessed of life.31 By the term realization he means that which has an incorporeal form. This realization, according to him, is twofold.

Either it is potential, as that of Hermes in the wax, provided the wax be adapted to receive the proper mouldings, or as that of the statue implicit in the bronze; or again it is determinate, which is the case with the completed figure of Hermes or the finished statue. The soul is the realization “of a natural body,” since bodies may be divided into (a) artificial bodies made by the hands of craftsmen, as a tower or a ship, and (b) natural bodies which are the work of nature, such as plants and the bodies of animals. And when he said “organic” he meant constructed as means to an end, as sight is adapted for seeing and the ear for hearing. Of a body “potentially possessed of life,” that is, in itself.

There are two senses of “potential,” one answering to a formed state and the other to its exercise in act. In the latter sense of the term he who is awake is said to have soul, in the former he who is asleep. It was then in order to include the sleeper that Aristotle added the word “potential.”

He held many other opinions on a variety of subjects which it would be tedious to enumerate. For altogether his industry and invention were remarkable, as is shown by the catalogue of his writings given above, which come to nearly 400 in number, i.e. counting those only the genuineness of which is not disputed. For many other written works and pointed oral sayings are attributed to him.

There were in all eight Aristotles: (1) our philosopher himself; (2) an Athenian statesman,32 the author of graceful forensic speeches; (3) a scholar who commented on the Iliad; (4) a Sicilian rhetorician, who wrote a reply to the Panegyric of Isocrates; (5) a disciple of Aeschines the Socratic philosopher, surnamed Myth; (6) a native of Cyrene, who wrote upon the art of poetry; (7) a trainer of boys, mentioned by Aristoxenus in his Life of Plato; (8) an obscure grammarian, whose handbook On Redundancy is still extant.

Aristotle of Stagira had many disciples; the most distinguished was Theophrastus, of whom we have next to speak.

1 Cf. Aelian, V. H. iv. 9.

2 Eur. Philoct. Frag. 785 Dind., 796 Nauck².

3 Most authorities put Isocrates here in place of Xenocrates.

4 This story comes ultimately from Lyco the Pythagorean; cf. Aristocles. Cf. Euseb. Praep. Ev. xv. 2 § 5 φησὶ γὰρ θύειν Ἀριστοτέλην θυσίαν τετελευτηκυίᾳ τῇ γυναικὶ τοιαύτην ὁποίαν Ἀθηναῖοι τῇ Δήμητρι. This version is irreconcilable with ὑπερχαίρων in D. L.

5 Hom. Il. xviii. 95.

6 As in ii. 78, iii. 19 and v. 77, Favorinus is curious to state the names of the accusers of philosophers put upon trial.

7 Anth. Plan. iii. 48.

8 Anth. Pal. vii. 107.

9 Hom. Od. vii. 120.

10 There must have been a chapter in Favorinus dealing with “inventions.”

11 384-383 B.C.

12 345-344 B.C.

13 347-346 B.C.

14 342-341 B.C.

15 335-334 B.C.

16 322-321 B.C.

17 No doubt Anaximenes of Lampsacus (cf. supra, ii. § 3), to whom is attributed the Rhetorica ad Alexandrum, which has come down to us in the Aristotelian Corpus.

18 Anth. Plan. ii. 46.

19 Frag. 36 D.

20 Cf. Hom. Il. xxiii. 701.

21 The last clause was curiously misunderstood by three eminent authorities on Aristotle, namely Grant, Grote and Zeller, who took ζῷα τετραπήχη to mean “four animal figures,” instead of “figures four cubits high”; see Journ. of Phil. vol. xxxii. 303. The article “Verify your quotations,” although modestly followed by two asterisks, was written, I believe, by the late Ingram Bywater, then one of the editors of the journal. This concession by Aristotle to the popular faith (for the statues from their size seem those of deities) some critics regard with suspicion, because they see in it a resemblance to the last words of Socrates (Plato, Phaedo, 118). Accordingly they are disposed to doubt the genuineness of the will. But see C. G. Bruns, Kl. Schrift. ii. 192 sqq.; H. Diels, Philos. Aufsätze, 231 sqq.; B. Laum, Stiftungen in der griech. u. röm. Antike.

22 Next come (a) the sayings of Aristotle (§§ 17-21); (b) the catalogue of his writings (§§ 21-27); (c) his tenets (§§ 28-34).

23 Cf. infra,§ 21.

24 Cf. supra, i. § 69, ii. § 69.

25 Cicero ascribed a similar reply to Xenocrates: “ut id sua sponte facerent, quod cogerentur facere legibus” (Cic. De rep. i. § 3).

26 Cf. supra, § 17.

27 E. E. vii. 12, 1245 b 20; N. E. ix. 10. 6, 1171 a 15-17.

28 This is one of three catalogues which we have of the Aristotelian writings. Hesychius furnishes one, appended to his Life of Aristotle; see V. Rose’s edition of the Fragments, p. 9 seq. Another by Ptolemy the philosopher, of which the Greek original has perished, is preserved in Arabic; see V. Rose, Frag. p. 18 seq.

29 Περὶ μεγέθους, between two books on Enthymemes, must be on Degree, the topic of μᾶλλον καὶ ἧττον (§ 60). “Degree” is Cope’s term (see his Introduction to Aristotle’s Rhetoric, p. 129, where he cites Aristotle’s own distinctions in Rhetoric, ii. cc. 18, 19).

30 Cf. supra, iii. 81. and Aristotle, Rhet. ii. 4 § 28, 1381 b 33

31 De anima, ii. 1, 412 a 27.

32 Probably this is the Aristotle who appears in Plato’s dialogue Parmenides.


Theophrastus was a native of Eresus, the son of Melantes, a fuller, as stated by Athenodorus in the eighth book of his Walks. He first heard his countryman Alcippus lecture in his native town and afterwards he heard Plato, whom he left for Aristotle. And when the latter withdrew to Chalcis he took over the school himself in the 114th Olympiad.33 A slave of his named Pompylus is also said to have been a philosopher, according to Myronianus of Amastris in the first book of his Historical Parallels. Theophrastus was a man of remarkable intelligence and industry and, as Pamphila says in the thirtysecond book of her Memorabilia, he taught Menander the comic poet. Furthermore, he was ever ready to do a kindness and fond of discussion. Casander certainly granted him audience and Ptolemy made overtures to him. And so highly was he valued at Athens that, when Agnonides ventured to prosecute him for impiety, the prosecutor himself narrowly escaped punishment. About 2000 pupils used to attend his lectures. In a letter to Phanias the Peripatetic, among other topics, he speaks of a tribunal as follows:34 “To get a public or even a select circle such as one desires is not easy. If an author reads his work, he must re-write it. Always to shirk revision and ignore criticism is a course which the present generation of pupils will no longer tolerate.” And in this letter he has called some one “pedant.”

Although his reputation stood so high, nevertheless for a short time he had to leave the country with all the other philosophers, when Sophocles the son of Amphiclides proposed a law that no philosopher should preside over a school except by permission of the Senate and the people, under penalty of death. The next year, however, the philosophers returned, as Philo had prosecuted Sophocles for making an illegal proposal. Whereupon the Athenians repealed the law, fined Sophocles five talents, and voted the recall of the philosophers, in order that Theophrastus also might return and live there as before. He bore the name of Tyrtamus, and it was Aristotle who re-named him Theophrastus on account of his graceful style. And Aristippus, in his fourth book On the Luxury of the Ancients, asserts that he was enamoured of Aristotle’s son Nicomachus, although he was his teacher. It is said that Aristotle applied to him and Callisthenes what Plato had said of Xenocrates and himself (as already related), namely, that the one needed a bridle and the other a goad; for Theophrastus interpreted all his meaning with an excess of cleverness, whereas the other was naturally backward. He is said to have become the owner of a garden of his own after Aristotle’s death, through the intervention of his friend Demetrius of Phalerum. There are pithy sayings of his in circulation as follows: “An unbridled horse,” he said, “ought to be trusted sooner than a badly-arranged discourse.” To some one who never opened his lips at a banquet he remarked: “Yours is a wise course for an ignoramus, but in an educated man it is sheer folly.” He used constantly to say that in our expenditure the item that costs most is time.

He died at the age of eighty-five, not long after he had relinquished his labours. My verses upon him are these:35

Not in vain was the word spoken to one of human kind, “Slacken the bow of wisdom and it breaks.” Of a truth, so long as Theophrastus laboured he was sound of limb, but when released from toil his limbs failed him and he died.

It is said that his disciples asked him if he had any last message for them, to which he replied: “Nothing else but this, that many of the pleasures which life boasts are but in the seeming. For when we are just beginning to live, lo! we die. Nothing then is so unprofitable as the love of glory. Farewell, and may you be happy. Either drop my doctrine, which involves a world of labour, or stand forth its worthy champions, for you will win great glory. Life holds more disappointment than advantage. But, as I can no longer discuss what we ought to do, do you go on with the inquiry into right conduct.”

With these words, they say, he breathed his last. And according to the story all the Athenians, out of respect for the man, escorted his bier on foot. And Favorinus tells that he had in his old age to be carried about in a litter;36 and this he says on the authority of Hermippus, whose account is taken from a remark of Arcesilaus of Pitane to Lacydes of Cyrene.

He too has left a very large number of writings. I think it right to catalogue them also because they abound in excellence of every kind. They are as follows:

In all 232,808 lines. So much for his writings.

I have also come across his will, couched in the following terms:

“All will be well; but in case anything should happen, I make these dispositions. I give and bequeath all my property at home37 to Melantes and Pancreon, the sons of Leon. It is my wish that out of the trust funds at the disposal of Hipparchus38 the following appropriations should be made. First, they should be applied to finish the rebuilding of the Museum with the statues of the goddesses, and to add any improvements which seem practicable to beautify them.39 Secondly, to replace in the temple the bust of Aristotle with the rest of the dedicated offerings which formerly were in the temple. Next, to rebuild the small cloister adjoining the Museum at least as handsomely as before, and to replace in the lower cloister the tablets containing maps of the countries traversed by explorers. Further, to repair the altar so that it may be perfect and elegant. It is also my wish that the statue of Nicomachus should be completed of life size. The price agreed upon for the making of the statue itself has been paid to Praxiteles, but the rest of the cost should be defrayed from the source above mentioned. The statue should be set up in whatever place seems desirable to the executors entrusted with carrying out my other testamentary dispositions. Let all that concerns the temple and the offerings set up be arranged in this manner. The estate at Stagira belonging to me I give and bequeath to Callinus. The whole of my library I give to Neleus. The garden and the walk and the houses adjoining the garden, all and sundry, I give and bequeath to such of my friends hereinafter named as may wish to study literature and philosophy there in common,40 since it is not possible for all men to be always in residence, on condition that no one alienates the property or devotes it to his private use, but so that they hold it like a temple in joint possession and live, as is right and proper, on terms of familiarity and friendship. Let the community consist of Hipparchus, Neleus, Strato, Callinus, Demotimus, Demaratus, Callisthenes, Melantes, Pancreon, Nicippus. Aristotle, the son of Metrodorus and Pythias, shall also have the right to study and associate with them if he so desire. And the oldest of them shall pay every attention to him, in order to ensure for him the utmost proficiency in philosophy. Let me be buried in any spot in the garden which seems most suitable, without unnecessary outlay upon my funeral or upon my monument. And according to previous agreement let the charge of attending, after my decease, to the temple and the monument and the garden and the walk be shared by Pompylus in person, living close by as he does, and exercising the same supervision over all other matters as before; and those who hold the property shall watch over his interests. Pompylus and Threpta have long been emancipated and have done me much service; and I think that 2000 drachmas certainly ought to belong to them from previous payments made to them by me, from their own earnings, and my present bequest to them to be paid by Hipparchus, as I stated many times in conversation with Melantes and Pancreon themselves, who agreed with me. I give and bequeath to them the maidservant Somatale. And of my slaves I at once emancipate Molon and Timon and Parmeno; to Manes and Callias I give their freedom on condition that they stay four years in the garden and work there together and that their conduct is free from blame. Of my household furniture let so much as the executors think right be given to Pompylus and let the rest be sold. I also devise Carion to Demotimus, and Donax to Neleus. But Euboeus must be sold. Let Hipparchus pay to Callinus 3000 drachmas. And if I had not seen that Hipparchus had done great service to Melantes and Pancreon and formerly to me, and that now in his private affairs he has made shipwreck, I would have appointed him jointly with Melantes and Pancreon to carry out my wishes. But, since I saw that it was not easy for them to share the management with him, and I thought it more advantageous for them to receive a fixed sum from Hipparchus, let Hipparchus pay Melantes and Pancreon one talent each and let Hipparchus provide funds for the executors to defray the expenses set down in the will, as each disbursement falls due. And when Hipparchus shall have carried out all these injunctions, he shall be released in full from his liabilities to me. And any advance that he has made in Chalcis in my name belongs to him alone. Let Hipparchus, Neleus, Strato, Callinus, Demotimus, Callisthenes and Ctesarchus be executors to carry out the terms of the will. One copy of the will, sealed with the signet-ring of Theophrastus, is deposited with Hegesias, the son of Hipparchus, the witnesses being Callippus of Pallene, Philomelus of Euonymaea, Lysander of Hyba, and Philo of Alopece. Olympiodorus has another copy, the witnesses being the same. The third copy was received by Adeimantus, the bearer being Androsthenes junior; and the witnesses are Arimnestus the son of Cleobulus, Lysistratus the son of Pheidon of Thasos, Strato the son of Arcesilaus of Lampsacus, Thesippus the son of Thesippus of Cerameis, and Dioscurides the son of Dionysius of Epicephisia.”

Such is the tenor of his will.

There are some who say that Erasistratus the physician was also a pupil of his, and it is not improbable.

33 323 B.C.

34 In the extract from the letter Theophrastus seems to be considering the best means of preparing for publication what he has to say, possibly in lecture, before the large class which, as we have just been informed, sometimes numbered 2000. It is difficult to see how this topic can have been worked into a letter on the law courts as such, and there is much to be said for Mr. Wyse’s emendation διδασκαλίου. If this be accepted, the whole letter would be about means or subjects of instruction in lecture.

35 Anth. Pal. vii. 110.

36 Cf. a similar statement about Bion, also attributed to Favorinus.

37 i.e. at Eresus.

38 Mentioned below, §§ 53, 54, 55, 66. We infer that he had been acting as trustee not only for Theophrastus but for the School, which in the eye of the law was a religious foundation.

39 Evidently the Museum had suffered in some recent political troubles, perhaps the second siege of Athens by Demetrius Poliorcetes, 296-294 B.C. Plut. Demetr. 33, 34; Paus. i. 25. 8. There was, however, a serious disturbance when Athens revolted from Macedon, 289-287, for which see Plut. Demetr. 46, and Paus. i. 25. 2; 26. 1 f. This latter event is nearer to the death of Theophrastus in Ol. 123.

40 Cf. iv. § 70.


His successor in the school was Strato, the son of Arcesilaus, a native of Lampsacus, whom he mentioned in his will; a distinguished man who is generally known as “the physicist,” because more than anyone else he devoted himself to the most careful study of nature. Moreover, he taught Ptolemy Philadelphus and received, it is said, 80 talents from him. According to Apollodorus in his Chronology he became head of the school in the 123rd Olympiad,41 and continued to preside over it for eighteen years.

There are extant of his works:

Strato is said to have grown so thin that he felt nothing when his end came. And I have written some lines upon him as follows:42

A thin, spare man in body, take my word for it, owing to his use of unguents,43 was this Strato, I at least affirm, to whom Lampsacus gave birth. For ever wrestling with diseases, he died unawares or ever he felt the hand of death.

There have been eight men who bore the name of Strato: (1) a pupil of Isocrates; (2) our subject; (3) a physician, a disciple, or, as some say, a fosterchild, of Erasistratus; (4) a historian, who treated of the struggle of Philip and Perseus against the Romans; (5) * *; (6) a poet who wrote epigrams; (7) a physician who lived in ancient times, mentioned by Aristotle; (8) a Peripatetic philosopher who lived in Alexandria.

But to return to Strato the physicist. His will is also extant and it runs as follows:

“In case anything should happen to me I make these dispositions. All the goods in my house I give and bequeath to Lampyrio and Arcesilaus. From the money belonging to me in Athens, in the first place my executors shall provide for my funeral and for all that custom requires to be done after the funeral, without extravagance on the one hand or meanness on the other. The executors of this my will shall be Olympichus, Aristides, Mnesigenes, Hippocrates, Epicrates, Gorgylus, Diocles, Lyco, Athanes. I leave the school to Lyco, since of the rest some are too old and others too busy. But it would be well if the others would co-operate with him. I also give and bequeath to him all my books, except those of which I am the author, and all the furniture in the dining-hall, the cushions and the drinking-cups. The trustees shall give Epicrates 500 drachmas and one of the servants whom Arcesilaus shall approve. And in the first place Lampyrio and Arcesilaus shall cancel the agreement which Daïppus made on behalf of Iraeus. And he shall not owe anything either to Lampyrio or to Lampyrio’s heirs, but shall have a full discharge from the whole transaction. Next, the executors shall give him 500 drachmas in money and one of the servants whom Arcesilaus shall approve, so that, in return for all the toil he has shared with me and all the services he has rendered me, he may have the means to maintain himself respectably. Further, I emancipate Diophantus, Diocles and Abus; and Simias I make over to Arcesilaus. I also emancipate Dromo. As soon as Arcesilaus has arrived, Iraeus shall, with Olympichus, Epicrates, and the other executors, prepare an account of the money expended upon the funeral and the other customary charges. Whatever money remains over, Arcesilaus shall take over from Olympichus, without however pressing him as to times and seasons. Arcesilaus shall also cancel the agreement made by Strato with Olympichus and Ameinias and deposited with Philocrates the son of Tisamenus. With regard to my monument they shall make it as Arcesilaus, Olympichus and Lyco shall approve.”

Such are the terms of his extant will, according to the Collection of Ariston of Ceos. Strato himself, however, was, as stated above, a man entitled to full approbation,44 since he excelled in every branch of learning, and most of all in that which is styled “physics,” a branch of philosophy more ancient and important than the others.

41 288-284 B.C.

42 Anth. Pal. vii. 111.

43 Or “if you attend to me, I am content,” according to the alternative reading.

44 πολλῆς τῆς ἀποδοχῆς ἄξιος. This phrase might be taken as Diogenes Laertius’s defence for his inclusion of the Life of Strato. According to the scheme of i. 14, 15, the Peripatetics ended with Theophrastus, whose successors were often held to be vastly inferior, and unworthy to rank beside him; see Cicero, De Fin. v. §§ 12, 13; Strabo xiii. 609. The latter alleges as the reason for this decline the well-known story that the school was deprived of Aristotle’s library, which had been carried away to Scepsis.


Strato’s successor was Lyco, the son of Astyanax of Troas, a master of expression and of the foremost rank in the education of boys. For he used to say that modesty and love of honour were as necessary an equipment for boys as spur and bridle for horses. His eloquence and sonorousness of diction appear from the following fact; he speaks of a penniless maiden as follows: “A grievous burden to a father is a girl, when for lack of a dowry she runs past the flower of her age.” Hence the remark which Antigonus is said to have made about him, that it was not possible to transfer elsewhere the fragrance and charm of the apple, but each separate expression must be contemplated in the speaker himself as every single apple is on the tree. This was because Lyco’s voice was exceedingly sweet, so that some persons altered his name to Glyco, by prefixing a G. But in writing he fell off sadly. For instance, those who regretted their neglect to learn when they had the opportunity and wished they had done so he would hit off neatly as follows, remarking that “they were their own accusers, betraying, by vain regret, repentance for an incorrigible laziness.” Those who deliberated wrongly he used to say were out in their calculations, as if they had used a crooked rule to test something straight, or looked at the reflection of a face in troubled water or a distorting mirror. Again, “Many go in search of the garland of the market-place; few or none seek the crown at Olympia.” He often gave the Athenians advice on various subjects and thus conferred on them the greatest benefits.

In his dress he was most immaculate, so that the clothes he wore were unsurpassed for the softness of the material, according to Hermippus. Furthermore, he was well practised in gymnastics and kept himself in condition, displaying all an athlete’s habit of body, with battered ears and skin begrimed with oil, so we are told by Antigonus of Carystus. Hence it is said that he not only wrestled but played the game of ball common in his birthplace of Ilium. He was esteemed beyond all other philosophers by Eumenes and Attalus, who also did him very great service. Antiochus too tried to get hold of him, but without success. He was so hostile to Hieronymus the Peripatetic that he alone declined to meet him on the anniversary which we have mentioned in the Life of Arcesilaus.45

He presided over the school forty-four years after Strato had bequeathed it to him by his will in the 127th Olympiad.46 Not but what he also attended the lectures of the logician Panthoides. He died at the age of seventy-four after severe sufferings from gout. This is my epitaph upon him:47

Nor, I swear! will I pass over Lyco either, for all that he died of the gout. But this it is which amazes me the most, if he who formerly could walk only with the feet of others, did in a single night traverse the long, long road to Hades.

Other men have borne the name of Lyco: (1) a Pythagorean, (2) our present subject, (3) an epic poet, (4) a poet who wrote epigrams.

I have also come across this philosopher’s will. It is this:

“These are my dispositions concerning my property, in case I should be unable to sustain my present ailment. All the goods in my house I give to my brothers Astyanax and Lyco, and from this source should, I think, be paid all the money I have laid out at Athens, whether by borrowing or by purchase, as well as all the cost of my funeral and the other customary charges. But my property in town and at Aegina I give to Lyco because he bears the same name with me, and has resided for a long time with me to my entire satisfaction, as became one whom I treated as my son. I leave the Peripatus to such of my friends as choose to make use of it, to Bulo, Callinus, Ariston, Amphion, Lyco, Pytho, Aristomachus, Heracleus, Lycomedes, and my nephew Lyco. They shall put over it any such person as in their opinion will persevere in the work of the school and will be most capable of extending it. And all my other friends should co-operate for love of me and of the spot. Bulo and Callinus, together with their colleagues, shall provide for my funeral and cremation, so as to avoid meanness on the one hand and extravagance on the other. After my decease Lyco shall make over, for the use of the young men, the oil from the olive-trees belonging to me in Aegina for the due commemoration – so long as they use it – of myself and the benefactor who did me honour. He shall also set up my statue, and shall choose a convenient site where it shall be erected, with the assistance of Diophantus and Heraclides the son of Demetrius. From my property in town Lyco shall repay all from whom I have borrowed anything after his departure. Bulo and Callinus shall provide the sums expended upon my funeral and other customary charges. These sums they shall recover from the moneys in the house bequeathed by me to them both in common. They shall also remunerate the physicians Pasithemis and Medias who for their attention to me and their skill deserve far higher reward. I bequeath to the child of Callinus a pair of Thericlean cups, and to his wife a pair of Rhodian vessels, a smooth carpet, a rug with nap on both sides, a sofa cover and two cushions the best that are left, that, so far as I have the means of recompensing them, I may prove not ungrateful. With regard to the servants who have waited upon me, my wishes are as follows. To Demetrius I remit the purchase-money for the freedom which he has long enjoyed, and bequeath to him five minas and a suit of clothes to ensure him a decent maintenance, in return for all the toil he has borne with me. To Crito of Chalcedon I also remit the purchasemoney for his freedom and bequeath to him four minas. And Micrus I emancipate; and Lyco shall keep him and educate him for the next six years. And Chares I emancipate, and Lyco shall maintain him, and I bequeath him two minas and my published writings, while those which have not been given to the world I entrust to Callinus, that he may carefully edit them. To Syrus who has been set free I give four minas and Menodora, and I remit to him any debt he owes me. And to Hilara I give five minas and a double-napped rug, two cushions, a sofa-cover and a bed, whichever she prefers. I also set free the mother of Micrus as well as Noëmon, Dion, Theon, Euphranor and Hermias. Agathon should be set free after two years, and the litter-bearers Ophelio and Posidonius after four years’ further service. To Demetrius, to Crito and to Syrus I give a bed apiece and such bed-furniture out of my estate as Lyco shall think proper. These shall be given them for properly performing their appointed tasks. As regards my burial, let Lyco bury me here if he chooses, or if he prefers to bury me at home let him do so, for I am persuaded that his regard for propriety is not less than my own. When he has managed all these things, he can dispose of the property there, and such disposition shall be binding. Witnesses are Callinus of Hermione, Ariston of Ceos, Euphronius of Paeania.”

Thus while his shrewdness is seen in all his actions, in his teaching and in all his studies, in some ways his will is no less remarkable for carefulness and wise management, so that in this respect also he is to be admired

45 iv. 41.

46 274-270 B.C.

47 Anth. Pal. vii. 112.


Demetrius, the son of Phanostratus, was a native of Phalerum. He was a pupil of Theophrastus, but by his speeches in the Athenian assembly he held the chief power in the State for ten years and was decreed 360 bronze statues, most of them representing him either on horseback or else driving a chariot or a pair of horses. And these statues were completed in less than 300 days, so much was he esteemed. He entered politics, says Demetrius of Magnesia in his work on Men of the Same Name, when Harpalus, fleeing from Alexander,48 came to Athens. As a statesman he rendered his country many splendid services. For he enriched the city with revenues and buildings, though he was not of noble birth. For he was one of Conon’s household servants,49 according to Favorinus in the first book of his Memorabilia; yet Lamia, with whom he lived, was a citizen of noble family, as Favorinus also states in his first book. Further, in his second book Favorinus alleges that he suffered violence from Cleon, while Didymus in his Table-talk relates how a certain courtesan nicknamed him Charito-Blepharos (“having the eyelids of the Graces”), and Lampito (“of shining eyes”). He is said to have lost his sight when in Alexandria and to have recovered it by the gift of Sarapis; whereupon he composed the paeans which are sung to this day.

For all his popularity with the Athenians he nevertheless suffered eclipse through all-devouring envy. Having been indicted by some persons on a capital charge, he let judgement go by default; and, when his accusers could not get hold of his person, they disgorged their venom on the bronze of his statues. These they tore down from their pedestals; some were sold, some cast into the sea, and others were even, it is said, broken up to make bedroom-utensils. Only one is preserved in the Acropolis. In his Miscellaneous History Favorinus tells us that the Athenians did this at the bidding of King Demetrius.

And in the official list the year in which he was archon was styled “the year of lawlessness,” according to this same Favorinus.

Hermippus tells us that upon the death of Casander, being in fear of Antigonus, he fled to Ptolemy Soter. There he spent a considerable time and advised Ptolemy, among other things, to invest with sovereign power his children by Eurydice. To this Ptolemy would not agree, but bestowed the diadem on his son by Berenice, who, after Ptolemy’s death, thought fit to detain Demetrius as a prisoner in the country until some decision should be taken concerning him. There he lived in great dejection, and somehow, in his sleep, received an asp-bite on the hand which proved fatal. He is buried in the district of Busiris near Diospolis.

Here are my lines upon him:50

A venomous asp was the death of the wise Demetrius, an asp withal of sticky venom, darting, not light from its eyes, but black death.

Heraclides in his epitome of Sotion’s Successions of Philosophers says that Ptolemy himself wished to transmit the kingdom to Philadelphus, but that Demetrius tried to dissuade him, saying, “If you give it to another, you will not have it yourself.” At the time when he was being continually attacked in Athens, Menander, the Comic poet, as I have also learnt, was very nearly brought to trial for no other cause than that he was a friend of Demetrius. However, Telesphorus, the nephew of Demetrius, begged him off.

In the number of his works and their total length in lines he has surpassed almost all contemporary Peripatetics. For in learning and versatility he has no equal. Some of these works are historical and others political; there are some dealing with poets, others with rhetoric. Then there are public speeches and reports of embassies, besides collections of Aesop’s fables and much else. He wrote:

And the following works, each in one book:

His style is philosophical, with an admixture of rhetorical vigour and force. When he heard that the Athenians had destroyed his statues, “That they may do,” said he, “but the merits which caused them to be erected they cannot destroy.” He used to say that the eyebrows formed but a small part of the face, and yet they can darken the whole of life by the scorn they express. Again, he said that not only was Plutus blind, but his guide, Fortune, as well; that all that steel could achieve in war was won in politics by eloquence. On seeing a young dandy, “There,” quoth he, “is a four-square Hermes for you, with trailing robe, belly, beard and all.”52 When men are haughty and arrogant, he declared we should cut down their tall stature and leave them their spirit unimpaired. Children should honour their parents at home, out-of-doors everyone they meet, and in solitude themselves. In prosperity friends do not leave you unless desired, whereas in adversity they stay away of their own accord. All these sayings seem to be set down to his credit.

There have been twenty noteworthy men called Demetrius: (1) a rhetorician of Chalcedon, older than Thrasymachus; (2) the subject of this notice; (3) a Peripatetic of Byzantium; (4) one called the graphic writer, clear in narrative; he was also a painter; (5) a native of Aspendus, a pupil of Apollonius of Soli; (6) a native of Callatis, who wrote a geography of Asia and Europe in twenty books; (7) a Byzantine, who wrote a history of the migration of the Gauls from Europe into Asia in thirteen books, and another work in eight books dealing with Antiochus and Ptolemy and their settlement of Libya; (8) the sophist who lived at Alexandria, author of handbooks of rhetoric; (9) a grammarian of Adramyttium, surnamed Ixion because he was thought to be unjust to Hera; (10) a grammarian of Cyrene, surnamed Wine-jar, an eminent man; (11) a native of Scepsis, a man of wealth and good birth, ardently devoted to learning; he was also the means of bringing his countryman Metrodorus into prominence; (12) a grammarian of Erythrae enrolled as a citizen of Mnos; (13) a Bithynian, son of Diphilus the Stoic and pupil of Panaetius of Rhodes; (14) a rhetorician of Smyrna. The foregoing were prose authors. Of poets bearing this name the first belonged to the Old Comedy; the second was an epic poet whose lines to the envious alone survive:

While he lives they scorn the man whom they regret when he is gone; yet, some day, for the honour of his tomb and lifeless image, contention seizes cities and the people set up strife;

the third of Tarsus, writer of satires; the fourth, a writer of lampoons, in a bitter style; the fifth, a sculptor mentioned by Polemo; the sixth, of Erythrae, a versatile man, who also wrote historical and rhetorical works.

48 324 B.C.

49 The first sentence is paralleled by Aelian, Var. Hist. xii. 43 Δημήτριον δὲ τὸν Φαληρέα οἰκότριβα γενέσθαι λέγουσιν ἐκ τῆς οἰκίας τῆς Τιμοθέου καὶ Κόνωνος. The insertion of this reference to the family of Conon has had the effect of separating two clauses which ought to be closely joined: καίπερ οὐκ εὐγενὴς ὤν (the last words of § 75) and ἀστῇ καὶ εὐγενεῖ (in § 76). Hesychius in Suidas emphasizes the beauty of Demetrius. In a modern book the statement that, according to Favorinus, Demetrius was in Conon’s family would find a more suitable place in a footnote.

50 Anth. Pal. vii. 113.

51 “Of the Beam in the Sky.” Some render this “Of Opinion,” but the word used in this sense is δόκησις: cf. Schäf. Schol. Par. Ap. Rh. ii. 1088.

52 Since Herms at Athens show neither drapery nor belly, but archaic hair, this saying would seem either to be incorrectly reported or to need a fresh interpretation. It has been suggested that a long lock pendent over the shoulder may lurk under σύομα (cf. Anth. Pal. v. 12. 2; σύρμα μένει πλοκάμων, and Ael. Var. Hist. xii. 14 τὴν μὲν γὰρ κόμην ἀνασεσύρθαι), or that a Herm might sometimes have been made by cutting down a larger, draped, statue; or perhaps on festal days Herms were decked with robes. In Stobaeus, Flor. iv. 68, Philip is credited with a sneer to the same effect on Athenians at large.


Heraclides, son of Euthyphro, born at Heraclea in the Pontus, was a wealthy man. At Athens he first attached himself to Speusippus. He also attended the lectures of the Pythagoreans and admired the writings of Plato. Last of all he became a pupil of Aristotle, as Sotion says in his Successions of Philosophers. 53 He wore fine soft clothes, and he was extremely corpulent, which made the Athenians call him Pompicus rather than Ponticus. He was mild and dignified of aspect. Works by him survive of great beauty and excellence. There are ethical dialogues:

Some of these works are in the style of comedy, for instance the tracts On Pleasure and On Temperance; others in the style of tragedy, as the books entitled Of those in Hades, Of Piety, and Of Authority.

Again, he has a sort of intermediate style of conversation which he employs when philosophers, generals and statesmen converse with each other. Furthermore, he wrote geometrical and dialectical works, and is, besides, everywhere versatile and lofty in diction, and a great adept at charming the reader’s mind.

It seems that he delivered his native city from oppressions by assassinating its ruler, as is stated in his work on Men of the Same Name by Demetrius of Magnesia, who also tells the following story about him: “As a boy, and when he grew up, he kept a pet snake, and, being at the point of death, he ordered a trusted attendant to conceal the corpse but to place the snake on his bier, that he might seem to have departed to the gods. All this was done. But while the citizens were in the very midst of the procession and were loud in his praise, the snake, hearing the uproar, popped up out of the shroud, creating widespread confusion. Subsequently, however, all was revealed, and they saw Heraclides, not as he appeared, but as he really was.”

I have written of him as follows:54

You wished, Heraclides, to leave to all mankind a reputation that after death you lived as a snake.55 But you were deceived, you sophist, for the snake was really a brute beast, and you were detected as more of a beast than a sage.

Hippobotus too has this tale.

Hermippus relates that, when their territory was visited by famine, the people of Heraclea besought the Pythian priestess for relief, but Heraclides bribed the sacred envoys as well as the aforesaid priestess to reply that they would be rid of the calamity if Heraclides, the son of Euthyphro, were crowned with a crown of gold in his lifetime and after his death received heroic honours. The pretended oracle was brought home, but its forgers got nothing by it. For directly Heraclides was crowned in the theatre, he was seized with apoplexy, whereupon the envoys to the oracle were stoned to death. Moreover, at the very same time the Pythian priestess, after she had gone down to the shrine and taken her seat, was bitten by one of the snakes and died instantly. Such are the tales told about his death.

Aristoxenus the musician asserts that Heraclides also composed tragedies, inscribing upon them the name of Thespis. Chamaeleon complains that Heraclides’ treatise on the works of Homer and Hesiod was plagiarized from his own. Furthermore, Autodorus the Epicurean criticizes him in a polemic against his tract Of Justice. Again, Dionysius the Renegade, or, as some people call him, the “Spark,” when he wrote the Parthenopaeus, entitled it a play of Sophocles; and Heraclides, such was his credulity, in one of his own works drew upon this forged play as Sophoclean evidence. Dionysius, on perceiving this, confessed what he had done; and, when the other denied the fact and would not believe him, called his attention to the acrostic which gave the name of Pancalus, of whom Dionysius was very fond. Heraclides was still unconvinced. Such a thing, he said, might very well happen by chance. To this Dionysius, “You will also find these lines:

a. An old monkey is not caught by a trap.56

b. Oh yes, he’s caught at last, but it takes time.”

And this besides: “Heraclides is ignorant of letters and not ashamed of his ignorance.”57

Fourteen persons have borne the name of Heraclides: (1) the subject of this notice; (2) a fellowcitizen of his, author of Pyrrhic verses and tales; (3) a native of Cyme, who wrote of Persia in five books; (4) another native of Cyme, who wrote rhetorical textbooks; (5) of Callatis or Alexandria, author of the Succession of Philosophers in six books and a work entitled Lembeuticus, from which he got the surname of Lembus (a fast boat or scout); (6) an Alexandrian who wrote on the Persian national character; (7) a dialectician of Bargylis, who wrote against Epicurus; (8) a physician of the school of Hicesius; (9) another physician of Tarentum, an empiric; (10) a poet who was the author of admonitions; (11) a sculptor of Phocaea; (12) a Ligurian poet, author of epigrams; (13) Heraclides of Magnesia, who wrote a history of Mithradates; (14) the compiler of an Astronomy.

53 That Heraclides was a member of the Academy is established beyond all doubt by the fact that he was a candidate for the headship of the School on the death of Speusippus: Index Acad. p. 38 Mekler. However, not only does Diogenes Laertius make him, on Sotion’s authority, a pupil of Aristotle, but Aëtius also seems, iii. 2. 5, to associate him with the Peripatetics (καθάπερ ἀμέλει πάντες οἱ Περιπατητικοί).

54 Anth. Pal. vii. 104.

55 Or, reading ἄπαρτι for ἄπασι, “wished to leave a report behind you that immediately after death you became a living snake.”

56 We should say, “An old bird is not caught with chaff.”

57 Von Arnim’s emendation (ὁ δὲ) gives a different turn to the story, viz. “And this besides: ‘Heraclides is ignorant of letters.’ This made Heraclides blush.”

Book VI

Antisthenes. Diogenes. Monimus. Onesicritus. Crates. Metrocles. Hipparchia. Menippus. Menedemus.


Antisthenes,1 the son of Antisthenes, was an Athenian. It was said, however, that he was not of pure Attic blood. Hence his reply to one who taunted him with this: “The mother of the gods too is a Phrygian.”2 For his mother was supposed to have been a Thracian. Hence it was that, when he had distinguished himself in the battle of Tanagra,3 he gave Socrates occasion to remark that, if both his parents had been Athenians, he would not have turned out so brave. He himself showed his contempt for the airs which the Athenians gave themselves on the strength of being sprung from the soil by the remark that this did not make them any better born than snails or wingless locusts.

To begin with, he became a pupil of Gorgias the rhetorician, and hence the rhetorical style that he introduces in his dialogues, and especially in his Truth and in his Exhortations. According to Hermippus he intended at the public gathering for the Isthmian games to discourse on the faults and merits of Athenians, Thebans and Lacedaemonians, but begged to be excused when he saw throngs arriving from those cities.

Later on, however, he came into touch with Socrates, and derived so much benefit from him that he used to advise his own disciples to become fellow-pupils with him of Socrates. He lived in the Peiraeus, and every day would tramp the five miles to Athens in order to hear Socrates. From Socrates he learned his hardihood, emulating his disregard of feeling, and thus he inaugurated the Cynic way of life. He demonstrated that pain is a good thing by instancing the great Heracles and Cyrus, drawing the one example from the Greek world and the other from the barbarians.

He was the first to define statement (or assertion) by saying that a statement is that which sets forth what a thing was or is. He used repeatedly to say, “I’d rather be mad than feel pleasure,” and “We ought to make love to such women as will feel a proper gratitude.” When a lad from Pontus was about to attend his lectures, and asked him what he required, the answer was, “Come with a new book, a new pen, and new tablets, if you have a mind to” (implying the need of brains as well).4 When someone inquired what sort of wife he ought to marry, he said, “If she’s beautiful, you’ll not have her to yourself; if she’s ugly, you’ll pay for it dearly.” Being told that Plato was abusing him, he remarked, “It is a royal privilege to do good and be ill spoken of.”5

When he was being initiated into the Orphic mysteries, the priest said that those admitted into these rites would be partakers of many good things in Hades. “Why then,” said he, “don’t you die?” Being reproached because his parents were not both free-born, “Nor were they both wrestlers,” quoth he, “but yet I am a wrestler.” To the question why he had but few disciples he replied, “Because I use a silver rod to eject them.” When he was asked why he was so bitter in reproving his pupils he replied, “Physicians are just the same with their patients.” One day upon seeing an adulterer running for his life he exclaimed, “Poor wretch, what peril you might have escaped at the price of an obol.” He used to say, as we learn from Hecato in his Anecdotes, that it is better to fall in with crows than with flatterers; for in the one case you are devoured when dead, in the other case while alive.

Being asked what was the height of human bliss, he replied, “To die happy.” When a friend complained to him that he had lost his notes, “You should have inscribed them,” said he, “on your mind instead of on paper.” As iron is eaten away by rust, so, said he, the envious are consumed by their own passion. Those who would fain be immortal must, he declared, live piously and justly. States, said he, are doomed when they are unable to distinguish good men from bad. Once, when he was applauded by rascals, he remarked, “I am horribly afraid I have done something wrong.”

When brothers agree, no fortress is so strong as their common life, he said. The right outfit for a voyage, he said, is such as, even if you are shipwrecked, will go through the water with you. One day when he was censured for keeping company with evil men, the reply he made was, “Well, physicians are in attendance on their patients without getting the fever themselves.” “It is strange,” said he, “that we weed out the darnel from the corn and the unfit in war, but do not excuse evil men from the service of the state.” When he was asked what advantage had accrued to him from philosophy, his answer was, “The ability to hold converse with myself.” Some one having called upon him over the wine for a song, he replied, “Then you must accompany me on the pipe.” When Diogenes begged a coat of him, he bade him fold his cloak around him double. Being asked what learning is the most necessary, he replied, “How to get rid of having anything to unlearn.” And he advised that when men are slandered, they should endure it more courageously than if they were pelted with stones.

And he used to taunt Plato with being conceited. At all events when in a procession he spied a spirited charger he said, turning to Plato, “It seems to me that you would have made just such a proud, showy steed.” This because Plato was constantly praising horseflesh. And one day he visited Plato, who was ill, and seeing the basin into which Plato had vomited, remarked, “The bile I see, but not the pride.” He used to recommend the Athenians to vote that asses are horses.6 When they deemed this absurd, his reply was, “But yet generals are found among you who had had no training, but were merely elected.” “Many men praise you,” said one. “Why, what wrong have I done?” was his rejoinder. When he turned the torn part of his cloak so that it came into view, Socrates no sooner saw this than he said, “I spy your love of fame peeping through your cloak.”7 Phanias in his work on the Socratics tells us how some one asked him what he must do to be good and noble, and he replied, “You must learn from those who know that the faults you have are to be avoided.” When some one extolled luxury his reply was, “May the sons of your enemies live in luxury.”

To the youth who was posing fantastically as an artist’s model he put this question, “Tell me, if the bronze could speak, on what, think you, would it pride itself most?” “On its beauty,” was the reply. “Then,” said he, “are you not ashamed of delighting in the very same quality as an inanimate object?” When a young man from Pontus promised to treat him with great consideration as soon as his boat with its freight of salt fish should arrive, he took him and an empty wallet to a flour-dealer’s, got it filled, and was going away. When the woman asked for the money, “The young man will pay,” said he, “when his boatload of salt fish arrives.”

Antisthenes is held responsible for the exile of Anytus and the execution of Meletus. For he fell in with some youths from Pontus whom the fame of Socrates had brought to Athens, and he led them off to Anytus, whom he ironically declared to be wiser than Socrates; whereupon (it is said) those about him with much indignation drove Anytus out of the city. If he saw a woman anywhere decked out with ornaments, he would hasten to her house and bid her husband bring out his horse and arms, and then, if the man possessed them, let his extravagance alone, for (he said) the man could with these defend himself; but, if he had none, he would bid him strip off the finery.

Favourite themes8 with him were the following. He would prove that virtue can be taught; that nobility belongs to none other than the virtuous. And he held virtue to be sufficient in itself to ensure happiness, since it needed nothing else except the strength of a Socrates. And he maintained that virtue is an affair of deeds and does not need a store of words or learning; that the wise man is self-sufficing, for all the goods of others are his; that ill repute is a good thing and much the same as pain; that the wise man will be guided in his public acts not by the established laws but by the law of virtue; that he will also marry in order to have children from union with the handsomest women; furthermore that he will not disdain to love, for only the wise man knows who are worthy to be loved.

Diocles records the following sayings of his: To the wise man nothing is foreign or impracticable. A good man deserves to be loved. Men of worth are friends. Make allies of men who are at once brave and just. Virtue is a weapon that cannot be taken away. It is better to be with a handful of good men fighting against all the bad, than with hosts of bad men against a handful of good men. Pay attention to your enemies, for they are the first to discover your mistakes. Esteem an honest man above a kinsman. Virtue is the same for women as for men. Good actions are fair and evil actions foul. Count all wickedness foreign and alien.

Wisdom is a most sure stronghold which never crumbles away nor is betrayed. Walls of defence must be constructed in our own impregnable reasonings. He used to converse in the gymnasium of Cynosarges (White hound) at no great distance from the gates, and some think that the Cynic school derived its name from Cynosarges. Antisthenes himself too was nicknamed a hound pure and simple. And he was the first, Diocles tells us, to double his cloak and be content with that one garment and to take up a staff and a wallet. Neanthes too asserts that he was the first to double his mantle. Sosicrates, however, in the third book of his Successions of Philosophers says this was first done by Diodorus of Aspendus, who also let his beard grow and used a staff and a wallet.

Of all the Socratics Antisthenes alone is praised by Theopompus, who says he had consummate skill and could by means of agreeable discourse win over whomsoever he pleased. And this is clear from his writings and from Xenophon’s Banquet. It would seem that the most manly section of the Stoic School owed its origin to him. Hence Athenaeus the epigrammatist writes thus of them:9

Ye experts in Stoic story, ye who commit to sacred pages most excellent doctrines - that virtue alone is the good of the soul: for virtue alone saves man’s life and cities. But that Muse10 that is one of the daughters of Memory approves the pampering of the flesh, which other men have chosen for their aim.

Antisthenes11 gave the impulse to the indifference of Diogenes, the continence of Crates, and the hardihood of Zeno, himself laying the foundations of their state. Xenophon calls him the most agreeable of men in conversation and the most temperate in everything else.

His writings are preserved in ten volumes. The first includes:

Vol. 2 includes:

In the third volume are treatises:

In the fourth volume are included:

The fifth contains:

The sixth:

The seventh volume contains the following:

In the eighth volume are:

The ninth volume contains:

The contents of the tenth volume are:

This is the list of his writings.

Timon finds fault with him for writing so much and calls him a prolific trifler. He died of disease just as Diogenes, who had come in, inquired of him, “Have you need of a friend?” Once too Diogenes, when he came to him, brought a dagger. And when Antisthenes cried out, “Who will release me from these pains?” replied, “This,” showing him the dagger. “I said,” quoth the other, “from my pains, not from life.” It was thought that he showed some weakness in bearing his malady through love of life. And here are my verses upon him:12

Such was your nature, Antisthenes, that in your lifetime you were a very bulldog to rend the heart with words, if not with teeth. Yet you died of consumption. Maybe some one will say, What of that? We must anyhow have some guide to the world below.

There have been three other men named Antisthenes: one a follower of Heraclitus, another a native of Ephesus, and the third of Rhodes, a historian.

And whereas we have enumerated the pupils of Aristippus and of Phaedo, we will now append an account of the Cynics and Stoics who derive from Antisthenes. And let it be in the following order.

1 Cf. Clem. Alex. Strom. i. 66.

2 Cf. Plutarch, De exilio, 607 a; Sen. De const. sap. c. 18, 5.

3 Probably the battle in 426 B.C. mentioned in Thuc. iii. 91.

4 There is the same untranslateable pun upon καινοῦ̂ “new” and καὶ νοῦ “a mind too,” as in ii. 118.

5 Cf. M. Anton. vii. 36 Ἀντισθενικόν, βασιλικὸν μὲν εὐπράττειν, κακῶς δὲ ἀκούειν, and Plutarch, Alex. c. 41 (of Alexander).

6 Cf. Plato, Phaedrus 260 c.

7 Cf. Aelian, Var. Hist. ix. 35.

8 Here follow three extracts of Cynic maxims or rules of conduct; for, strictly speaking, they had no tenets proper (δόξαι, δόγματα). The last (13) seems to be derived from Diocles.

9 Anth. Pal. ix. 496.

10 i.e. Erato; cf. Athen. xiii. p. 555 b, Ap. Rhod. iii. 1.

11 It seems clear that the passage which begins here is not from the same source as that (in 14) which precedes the epigram.

12 Anth. Pal. vii. 115.


Diogenes was a native of Sinope, son of Hicesius, a banker. Diocles relates that he went into exile because his father was entrusted with the money of the state and adulterated the coinage. But Eubulides in his book on Diogenes says that Diogenes himself did this and was forced to leave home along with his father. Moreover Diogenes himself actually confesses in his Pordalus that he adulterated the coinage. Some say that having been appointed to superintend the workmen he was persuaded by them, and that he went to Delphi or to the Delian oracle in his own city and inquired of Apollo whether he should do what he was urged to do. When the god gave him permission to alter the political currency, not understanding what this meant, he adulterated the state coinage, and when he was detected, according to some he was banished, while according to others he voluntarily quitted the city for fear of consequences. One version is that his father entrusted him with the money and that he debased it, in consequence of which the father was imprisoned and died, while the son fled, came to Delphi, and inquired, not whether he should falsify the coinage, but what he should do to gain the greatest reputation; and that then it was that he received the oracle.

On reaching Athens he fell in with Antisthenes. Being repulsed by him, because he never welcomed pupils, by sheer persistence Diogenes wore him out. Once when he stretched out his staff against him, the pupil offered his head with the words, “Strike, for you will find no wood hard enough to keep me away from you, so long as I think you’ve something to say.” From that time forward he was his pupil, and, exile as he was, set out upon a simple life.

Through watching a mouse running about, says Theophrastus in the Megarian dialogue, not looking for a place to lie down in, not afraid of the dark, not seeking any of the things which are considered to be dainties, he discovered the means of adapting himself to circumstances. He was the first, say some, to fold his cloak because he was obliged to sleep in it as well, and he carried a wallet to hold his victuals, and he used any place for any purpose, for breakfasting, sleeping, or conversing. And then he would say, pointing to the portico of Zeus and the Hall of Processions, that the Athenians had provided him with places to live in. He did not lean upon a staff until he grew infirm; but afterwards he would carry it everywhere, not indeed in the city, but when walking along the road with it and with his wallet; so say Olympiodorus,13 once a magistrate at Athens, Polyeuctus the orator, and Lysanias the son of Aeschrio. He had written to some one to try and procure a cottage for him. When this man was a long time about it, he took for his abode the tub in the Metron, as he himself explains in his letters. And in summer he used to roll in it over hot sand, while in winter he used to embrace statues covered with snow, using every means of inuring himself to hardship.

He was great at pouring scorn on his contemporaries. The school of Euclides he called bilious, and Plato’s lectures waste of time, the performances at the Dionysia great peep-shows for fools, and the demagogues the mob’s lacqueys. He used also to say that when he saw physicians, philosophers and pilots at their work, he deemed man the most intelligent of all animals; but when again he saw interpreters of dreams and diviners and those who attended to them, or those who were puffed up with conceit of wealth, he thought no animal more silly. He would continually say14 that for the conduct of life we need right reason or a halter.

Observing Plato one day at a costly banquet taking olives, “How is it,” he said,15 “that you the philosopher who sailed to Sicily for the sake of these dishes, now when they are before you do not enjoy them?” “Nay, by the gods, Diogenes,” replied Plato, “there also for the most part I lived upon olives and such like.” “Why then,” said Diogenes, “did you need to go to Syracuse? Was it that Attica at that time did not grow olives?” But Favorinus in his Miscellaneous History attributes this to Aristippus. Again, another time he was eating dried figs when he encountered Plato and offered him a share of them. When Plato took them and ate them, he said, “I said you might share them, not that you might eat them all up.”

And one day when Plato had invited to his house friends coming from Dionysius, Diogenes trampled upon his carpets and said, “I trample upon Plato’s vainglory.” Plato’s reply was, “How much pride you expose to view, Diogenes, by seeming not to be proud.” Others tell us that what Diogenes said was, “I trample upon the pride of Plato,” who retorted, “Yes, Diogenes, with pride of another sort.” Sotion,16 however, in his fourth book makes the Cynic address this remark to Plato himself. Diogenes once asked him for wine, and after that also for some dried figs; and Plato sent him a whole jar full. Then the other said, “If some one asks you how many two and two are, will you answer, Twenty? So, it seems, you neither give as you are asked nor answer as you are questioned.” Thus he scoffed at him as one who talked without end.

Being asked where in Greece he saw good men, he replied, “Good men nowhere, but good boys at Lacedaemon.” When one day he was gravely discoursing and nobody attended to him, he began whistling, and as people clustered about him, he reproached them with coming in all seriousness to hear nonsense, but slowly and contemptuously when the theme was serious. He would say that men strive in digging17 and kicking to outdo one another, but no one strives to become a good man and true. And he would wonder that the grammarians should investigate the ills of Odysseus, while they were ignorant of their own. Or that the musicians should tune the strings of the lyre, while leaving the dispositions of their own souls discordant; that the mathematicians should gaze at the sun and the moon, but overlook matters close at hand; that the orators should make a fuss about justice in their speeches, but never practise it; or that the avaricious should cry out against money, while inordinately fond of it. He used also to condemn those who praised honest men for being superior to money, while themselves envying the very rich. He was moved to anger that men should sacrifice to the gods to ensure health and in the midst of the sacrifice should feast to the detriment of health. He was astonished that when slaves saw their masters were gluttons, they did not steal some of the viands. He would praise those who were about to marry and refrained, those who intending to go a voyage never set sail, those who thinking to engage in politics do no such thing, those also who purposing to rear a family do not do so, and those who make ready to live with potentates, yet never come near them after all. He used to say, moreover, that we ought to stretch out our hands to our friends with the fingers open and not closed.18 Menippus19 in his Sale of Diogenes tells how, when he was captured and put up for sale, he was asked what he could do. He replied, “Govern men.” And he told the crier to give notice in case anybody wanted to purchase a master for himself. Having been forbidden to sit down, “It makes no difference,” said he, “for in whatever position fishes lie, they still find purchasers.” And he said he marvelled that before we buy a jar or dish we try whether it rings true, but if it is a man are content merely to look at him. To Xeniades who purchased him he said, “You must obey me, although I am a slave; for, if a physician or a steersman were in slavery, he would be obeyed.” Eubulus in his book entitled The Sale of Diogenes tells us that this was how he trained the sons of Xeniades. After their other studies he taught them to ride, to shoot with the bow, to sling stones and to hurl javelins. Later, when they reached the wrestling-school, he would not permit the master to give them full athletic training, but only so much as to heighten their colour and keep them in good condition.

The boys used to get by heart many passages from poets, historians, and the writings of Diogenes himself; and he would practise them in every short cut to a good memory. In the house too he taught them to wait upon themselves, and to be content with plain fare and water to drink. He used to make them crop their hair close and to wear it unadorned, and to go lightly clad, barefoot, silent, and not looking about them in the streets. He would also take them out hunting. They on their part had a great regard for Diogenes and made requests of their parents for him. The same Eubulus relates that he grew old in the house of Xeniades, and when he died was buried by his sons. There Xeniades once asked him how he wished to be buried. To which he replied, “On my face.” “Why?” inquired the other. “Because,” said he, “after a little time down will be converted into up.” This because the Macedonians had now got the supremacy, that is, had risen high from a humble position. Some one took him into a magnificent house and warned him not to expectorate, whereupon having cleared his throat he discharged the phlegm into the man’s face, being unable, he said, to find a meaner receptacle. Others father this upon Aristippus. One day he shouted out for men, and when people collected, hit out at them with his stick, saying, “It was men I called for, not scoundrels.” This is told by Hecato in the first book of his Anecdotes. Alexander is reported to have said, “Had I not been Alexander, I should have liked to be Diogenes.”

The word “disabled” (ἀναπήρους), Diogenes held, ought to be applied not to the deaf or blind, but to those who have no wallet (πήρα). One day he made his way with head half shaven into a party of young revellers, as Metrocles relates in his Anecdotes, and was roughly handled by them. Afterwards he entered on a tablet the names of those who had struck him and went about with the tablet hung round his neck, till he had covered them with ridicule and brought universal blame and discredit upon them. He described himself as a hound of the sort which all men praise, but no one, he added, of his admirers dared go out hunting along with him. When some one boasted that at the Pythian games he had vanquished men, Diogenes replied, “Nay, I defeat men, you defeat slaves.”

To those who said to him, “You are an old man; take a rest,” “What?” he replied, “if I were running in the stadium, ought I to slacken my pace when approaching the goal? ought I not rather to put on speed?” Having been invited to a dinner, he declared that he wouldn’t go; for, the last time he went, his host had not expressed a proper gratitude. He would walk upon snow barefoot and do the other things mentioned above. Not only so; he even attempted to eat meat raw, but could not manage to digest it. He once found Demosthenes the orator lunching at an inn, and, when he retired within, Diogenes said, “All the more you will be inside the tavern.” When some strangers expressed a wish to see Demosthenes, he stretched out his middle finger and said, “There goes the demagogue of Athens.” Some one dropped a loaf of bread and was ashamed to pick it up; whereupon Diogenes, wishing to read him a lesson, tied a rope to the neck of a wine-jar and proceeded to drag it across the Ceramicus.

He used to say that he followed the example of the trainers of choruses; for they too set the note a little high, to ensure that the rest should hit the right note. Most people, he would say, are so nearly mad that a finger makes all the difference. For, if you go along with your middle finger stretched out, some one will think you mad, but, if it’s the little finger, he will not think so. Very valuable things, said he, were bartered for things of no value, and vice versa. At all events a statue fetches three thousand drachmas, while a quart of barley-flour is sold for two copper coins.

To Xeniades, who purchased him, he said, “Come, see that you obey orders.” When he quoted the line,

Backward the streams flow to their founts,20

Diogenes asked, “If you had been ill and had purchased a doctor, would you then, instead of obeying him, have said ‘Backward the streams flow to their founts’"? Some one wanted to study philosophy under him. Diogenes gave him a tunny to carry and told him to follow him. And when for shame the man threw it away and departed, some time after on meeting him he laughed and said, “The friendship between you and me was broken by a tunny.” The version given by Diocles, however, is as follows. Some one having said to him, “Lay your commands upon us, Diogenes,” he took him away and gave him a cheese to carry, which cost half an obol. The other declined; whereupon he remarked, “The friendship between you and me is broken by a little cheese worth half an obol.”

One day, observing a child drinking out of his hands, he cast away the cup from his wallet with the words, “A child has beaten me in plainness of living.” He also threw away his bowl when in like manner he saw a child who had broken his plate taking up his lentils with the hollow part of a morsel of bread. He used also to reason thus: “All things belong to the gods. The wise are friends of the gods, and friends hold things in common. Therefore all things belong to the wise.” One day he saw a woman kneeling before the gods in an ungraceful attitude, and wishing to free her of superstition, according to Zolus of Perga, he came forward and said, “Are you not afraid, my good woman, that a god may be standing behind you? – for all things are full of his presence – and you may be put to shame?” He dedicated to Asclepius a bruiser who, whenever people fell on their faces, used to run up to them and bruise them.

All the curses of tragedy, he used to say, had lighted upon him. At all events he was

A homeless exile, to his country dead. A wanderer who begs his daily bread.21

But he claimed that to fortune he could oppose courage, to convention nature, to passion reason. When he was sunning himself in the Craneum, Alexander came and stood over him and said, “Ask of me any boon you like.” To which he replied, “Stand out of my light.”22 Some one had been reading aloud for a very long time, and when he was near the end of the roll pointed to a space with no writing on it. “Cheer up, my men,” cried Diogenes; “there’s land in sight.” To one who by argument had proved conclusively that he had horns, he said, touching his forehead, “Well, I for my part don’t see any.” In like manner, when somebody declared that there is no such thing as motion, he got up and walked about. When some one was discoursing on celestial phenomena, “How many days,” asked Diogenes, “were you in coming from the sky?” A eunuch of bad character had inscribed on his door the words, “Let nothing evil enter.” “How then,” he asked, “is the master of the house to get in?” When he had anointed his feet with unguent, he declared that from his head the unguent passed into the air, but from his feet into his nostrils. The Athenians urged him to become initiated, and told him that in the other world those who have been initiated enjoy a special privilege. “It would be ludicrous,” quoth he, “if Agesilaus and Epaminondas are to dwell in the mire, while certain folk of no account will live in the Isles of the Blest because they have been initiated.”

When mice crept on to the table he addressed them thus, “See now even Diogenes keeps parasites.” When Plato styled him a dog, “Quite true,” he said, “for I come back again and again to those who have sold me.” As he was leaving the public baths, somebody inquired if many men were bathing. He said, No. But to another who asked if there was a great crowd of bathers, he said, Yes. Plato had defined Man as an animal, biped and featherless, and was applauded. Diogenes plucked a fowl and brought it into the lecture-room with the words, “Here is Plato’s man.” In consequence of which there was added to the definition, “having broad nails.” To one who asked what was the proper time for lunch, he said, “If a rich man, when you will; if a poor man, when you can.”

At Megara he saw the sheep protected by leather jackets, while the children went bare. “It’s better,” said he, “to be a Megarian’s ram than his son.”23 To one who had brandished a beam at him and then cried, “Look out,” he replied, “What, are you intending to strike me again?” He used to call the demagogues the lackeys of the people and the crowns awarded to them the efflorescence of fame. He lit a lamp in broad daylight and said, as he went about, “I am looking for a man.” One day he got a thorough drenching where he stood, and, when the bystanders pitied him, Plato said, if they really pitied him, they should move away, alluding to his vanity. When some one hit him a blow with his fist, “Heracles,” said he, “how came I to forget to put on a helmet when I walked out?” Further, when Meidias assaulted him and went on to say, “There are 3000 drachmas to your credit,” the next day he took a pair of boxing-gauntlets, gave him a thrashing and said, “There are 3000 blows to your credit.”

When Lysias the druggist asked him if he believed in the gods, “How can I help believing in them,” said he, “when I see a god-forsaken wretch like you?” Others give this retort to Theodorus. Seeing some one perform religious purification, he said, “Unhappy man, don’t you know that you can no more get rid of errors of conduct by sprinklings than you can of mistakes in grammar?” He would rebuke men in general with regard to their prayers, declaring that they asked for those things which seemed to them to be good, not for such as are truly good. As for those who were excited over their dreams he would say that they cared nothing for what they did in their waking hours, but kept their curiosity for the visions called up in their sleep. At Olympia, when the herald proclaimed Dioxippus to be victor over the men, Diogenes protested, “Nay, he is victorious over slaves, I over men.”

Still he was loved by the Athenians. At all events, when a youngster broke up his tub, they gave the boy a flogging and presented Diogenes with another. Dionysius the Stoic says that after Chaeronea he was seized and dragged off to Philip, and being asked who he was, replied, “A spy upon your insatiable greed.” For this he was admired and set free.

Alexander having on one occasion sent a letter to Antipater at Athens by a certain Athlios, Diogenes, who was present, said:

Graceless son of graceless sire to graceless wight by graceless squire.

Perdiccas having threatened to put him to death unless he came to him, “That’s nothing wonderful,” quoth he, “for a beetle or a tarantula would do the same.” Instead of that he would have expected the threat to be that Perdiccas would be quite happy to do without his company. He would often insist loudly that the gods had given to men the means of living easily, but this had been put out of sight, because we require honeyed cakes, unguents and the like. Hence to a man whose shoes were being put on by his servant, he said, “You have not attained to full felicity, unless he wipes your nose as well; and that will come, when you have lost the use of your hands.”

Once he saw the officials of a temple leading away some one who had stolen a bowl belonging to the treasurers, and said, “The great thieves are leading away the little thief.” Noticing a lad one day throwing stones at a cross (gibbet), “Well done,” he said, “you will hit your mark.”24 When some boys clustered round him and said, “Take care he doesn’t bite us,” he answered, “Never fear, boys, a dog does not eat beetroot.” To one who was proud of wearing a lion’s skin his words were, “Leave off dishonouring the habiliments of courage.” When some one was extolling the good fortune of Callisthenes and saying what splendour he shared in the suite of Alexander, “Not so,” said Diogenes, “but rather ill fortune; for he breakfasts and dines when Alexander thinks fit.”

Being short of money, he told his friends that he applied to them not for alms, but for repayment of his due. When behaving indecently in the marketplace, he wished it were as easy to relieve hunger by rubbing an empty stomach. Seeing a youth starting off to dine with satraps, he dragged him off, took him to his friends and bade them keep strict watch over him. When a youth effeminately attired put a question to him, he declined to answer unless he pulled up his robe and showed whether he was man or woman. A youth was playing cottabos in the baths. Diogenes said to him, “The better you play, the worse it is for you.” At a feast certain people kept throwing all the bones to him as they would have done to a dog.25 Thereupon he played a dog’s trick and drenched them.

Rhetoricians and all who talked for reputation he used to call “thrice human,” meaning thereby “thrice wretched.” An ignorant rich man he used to call “the sheep with the golden fleece.” Seeing a notice on the house of a profligate, “To be sold,” he said, “I knew well that after such surfeiting you would throw up the owner.” To a young man who complained of the number of people who annoyed him by their attentions he said, “Cease to hang out a sign of invitation.” Of a public bath which was dirty he said, “When people have bathed here, where are they to go to get clean?” There was a stout musician whom everybody depreciated and Diogenes alone praised. When asked why, he said, “Because being so big, he yet sings to his lute and does not turn brigand.”

The musician who was always deserted by his audience he greeted with a “Hail chanticleer,” and when asked why he so addressed him, replied, “Because your song makes every one get up.” A young man was delivering a set speech, when Diogenes, having filled the front fold of his dress with lupins, began to eat them, standing right opposite to him. Having thus drawn off the attention of the assemblage, he said he was greatly surprised that they should desert the orator to look at himself. A very superstitious person addressed him thus, “With one blow I will break your head.” “And I,” said Diogenes, “by a sneeze from the left will make you tremble.” Hegesias having asked him to lend him one of his writings, he said, “You are a simpleton, Hegesias; you do not choose painted figs, but real ones; and yet you pass over the true training and would apply yourself to written rules.”

When some one reproached him with his exile, his reply was, “Nay, it was through that, you miserable fellow, that I came to be a philosopher.” Again, when some one reminded him that the people of Sinope had sentenced him to exile, “And I them,” said he, “to home-staying.” Once he saw an Olympic victor tending sheep and thus accosted him: “Too quickly, my good friend, have you left Olympia for Nemea.26 “Being asked why athletes are so stupid, his answer was, “Because they are built up of pork and beef.” He once begged alms of a statue, and, when asked why he did so, replied, “To get practice in being refused.” In asking alms – as he did at first by reason of his poverty – he used this form: “If you have already given to anyone else, give to me also; if not, begin with me.”

On being asked by a tyrant what bronze is best for a statue, he replied, “That of which Harmodius and Aristogiton were moulded.” Asked how Dionysius treated his friends, “Like purses,” he replied; “so long as they are full, he hangs them up, and, when they are empty, he throws them away.” Some one lately wed had set up on his door the notice:

The son of Zeus, victorious Heracles,

Dwells here; let nothing evil enter in.

To which Diogenes added “After war, alliance.” The love of money he declared to be mother-city of all evils.27 Seeing a spendthrift eating olives in a tavern, he said, “If you had breakfasted in this fashion, you would not so be dining.”

Good men he called images of the gods, and love the business of the idle. To the question what is wretched in life he replied, “An old man destitute.” Being asked what creature’s bite is the worst, he said, “Of those that are wild a sycophant’s; of those that are tame a flatterer’s.” Upon seeing two centaurs very badly painted, he asked, “Which of these is Chiron?” (worse man). Ingratiating speech he compared to honey used to choke you. The stomach he called livelihood’s Charybdis.28 Hearing a report that Didymon the flute-player had been caught in adultery, his comment was, “His name alone is sufficient to hang him.” To the question why gold is pale, his reply was, “Because it has so many thieves plotting against it.” On seeing a woman carried in a litter, he remarked that the cage was not in keeping with the quarry.

One day seeing a runaway slave sitting on the brink of a well, he said, “Take care, my lad, you don’t fall in.” Seeing a boy taking clothes at the baths, he asked, “Is it for a little unguent (ἀλειμμάτιον) or is it for a new cloak (ἄλλ’ ἱμάτιον)?” Seeing some women hanged from an olive-tree, he said, “Would that every tree bore similar fruit.” On seeing a footpad he accosted him thus:

What mak’st thou here, my gallant?

Com’st thou perchance for plunder of the dead?29

Being asked whether he had any maid or boy to wait on him, he said “No.” “If you should die, then, who will carry you out to burial?” “Whoever wants the house,” he replied.

Noticing a good-looking youth lying in an exposed position, he nudged him and cried, “Up, man, up, lest some foe thrust a dart into thy back!” To one who was feasting lavishly he said:

Short-liv’d thou’lt be, my son, by what thou – buy’st.30

As Plato was conversing about Ideas and using the nouns “tablehood” and “cuphood,” he said, “Table and cup I see; but your tablehood and cuphood, Plato, I can nowise see.” “That’s readily accounted for,” said Plato, “for you have the eyes to see the visible table and cup; but not the understanding by which ideal tablehood and cuphood are discerned.”

On being asked by somebody, “What sort of a man do you consider Diogenes to be?” “A Socrates gone mad,” said he.31 Being asked what was the right time to marry, Diogenes replied, “For a young man not yet: for an old man never at all.” Being asked what he would take to be soundly cuffed, he replied, “A helmet.” Seeing a youth dressing with elaborate care, he said, “If it’s for men, you’re a fool; if for women, a knave.” One day he detected a youth blushing. “Courage,” quoth he, “that is the hue of virtue.” One day after listening to a couple of lawyers disputing, he condemned them both, saying that the one had no doubt stolen, but the other had not lost anything. To the question what wine he found pleasant to drink, he replied, “That for which other people pay.” When he was told that many people laughed at him, he made answer, “But I am not laughed down.”

When some one declared that life is an evil, he corrected him: “Not life itself, but living ill.” When he was advised to go in pursuit of his runaway slave, he replied, “It would be absurd, if Manes can live without Diogenes, but Diogenes cannot get on without Manes.” When breakfasting on olives amongst which a cake had been inserted, he flung it away and addressed it thus:

Stranger, betake thee from the princes’ path.32

And on another occasion thus:

He lashed an olive.33

Being asked what kind of hound he was, he replied, “When hungry, a Maltese; when full, a Molossian – two breeds which most people praise, though for fear of fatigue they do not venture out hunting with them. So neither can you live with me, because you are afraid of the discomforts.”

Being asked if the wise eat cakes, “Yes,” he said, “cakes of all kinds, just like other men.” Being asked why people give to beggars but not to philosophers, he said, “Because they think they may one day be lame or blind, but never expect that they will turn to philosophy.” He was begging of a miserly man who was slow to respond; so he said, “My friend, it’s for food that I’m asking, not for funeral expenses.” Being reproached one day for having falsified the currency, he said, “That was the time when I was such as you are now; but such as I am now, you will never be.” To another who reproached him for the same offence he made a more scurrilous repartee.

On coming to Myndus and finding the gates large, though the city itself was very small, he cried, “Men of Myndus, bar your gates, lest the city should run away.” Seeing a man who had been caught stealing purple, he said:

Fast gripped by purple death and forceful fate.34

When Craterus wanted him to come and visit him, “No,” he replied, “I would rather live on a few grains of salt at Athens than enjoy sumptuous fare at Craterus’s table.” He went up to Anaximenes the rhetorician, who was fat, and said, “Let us beggars have something of your paunch; it will be a relief to you, and we shall get advantage.” And when the same man was discoursing, Diogenes distracted his audience by producing some salt fish. This annoyed the lecturer, and Diogenes said, “An obol’s worth of salt fish has broken up Anaximenes’ lecture-class.”

Being reproached for eating in the market-place, “Well, it was in the market-place,” he said, “that I felt hungry.” Some authors affirm that the following also belongs to him: that Plato saw him washing lettuces, came up to him and quietly said to him, “Had you paid court to Dionysius, you wouldn’t now be washing lettuces,” and that he with equal calmness made answer, “If you had washed lettuces, you wouldn’t have paid court to Dionysius.” When some one said, “Most people laugh at you,” his reply was, “And so very likely do the asses at them; but as they don’t care for the asses, so neither do I care for them.” One day observing a youth studying philosophy, he said, “Well done, Philosophy, that thou divertest admirers of bodily charms to the real beauty of the soul.”

When some one expressed astonishment at the votive offerings in Samothrace, his comment was, “There would have been far more, if those who were not saved had set up offerings.” But others attribute this remark to Diagoras of Melos. To a handsome youth, who was going out to dinner, he said, “You will come back a worse man.” When he came back and said next day, “I went and am none the worse for it,” Diogenes said, “Not Worse-man (Chiron), but Lax-man (Eurytion).”35 He was asking alms of a bad-tempered man, who said, “Yes, if you can persuade me.” “If I could have persuaded you,” said Diogenes, “I would have persuaded you to hang yourself.” He was returning from Lacedaemon to Athens; and on some one asking, “Whither and whence?” he replied, “From the men’s apartments to the women’s. ”

He was returning from Olympia, and when somebody inquired whether there was a great crowd, “Yes,” he said, “a great crowd, but few who could be called men.” Libertines he compared to fig-trees growing upon a cliff: whose fruit is not enjoyed by any man, but is eaten by ravens and vultures. When Phryne set up a golden statue of Aphrodite in Delphi, Diogenes is said to have written upon it: “From the licentiousness of Greece.” Alexander once came and stood opposite him and said, “I am Alexander the great king.” “And I,” said he, “am Diogenes the Cynic.”36 Being asked what he had done to be called a hound, he said, “I fawn on those who give me anything, I yelp at those who refuse, and I set my teeth in rascals.”

He was gathering figs, and was told by the keeper that not long before a man had hanged himself on that very fig-tree. “Then,” said he, “I will now purge it.” Seeing an Olympian victor casting repeated glances at a courtesan, “See,” he said, “yonder ram frenzied for battle, how he is held fast by the neck fascinated by a common minx.” Handsome courtesans he would compare to a deadly honeyed potion. He was breakfasting in the marketplace, and the bystanders gathered round him with cries of “dog.” “It is you who are dogs,” cried he, “when you stand round and watch me at my breakfast.” When two cowards hid away from him, he called out, “Don’t be afraid, a hound is not fond of beetroot.” After seeing a stupid wrestler practising as a doctor he inquired of him, “What does this mean? Is it that you may now have your revenge on the rivals who formerly beat you?” Seeing the child of a courtesan throw stones at a crowd, he cried out, “Take care you don’t hit your father.”

A boy having shown him a dagger that he had received from an admirer, Diogenes remarked, “A pretty blade with an ugly handle.” When some people commended a person who had given him a gratuity, he broke in with “You have no praise for me who was worthy to receive it.” When some one asked that he might have back his cloak, “If it was a gift,” replied Diogenes, “I possess it; while, if it was a loan, I am using it.” A supposititious son having told him that he had gold in the pocket of his dress, “True,” said he, “and therefore you sleep with it under your pillow.” On being asked what he had gained from philosophy, he replied, “This at least, if nothing else – to be prepared for every fortune.” Asked where he came from, he said, “I am a citizen of the world.”37 Certain parents were sacrificing to the gods, that a son might be born to them. “But,” said he, “do you not sacrifice to ensure what manner of man he shall turn out to be?” When asked for a subscription towards a club, he said to the president:

Despoil the rest; off Hector keep thy hands.38

The mistresses of kings he designated queens; for, said he, they make the kings do their bidding. When the Athenians gave Alexander the title of Dionysus, he said, “Me too you might make Sarapis.”39 Some one having reproached him for going into dirty places, his reply was that the sun too visits cesspools without being defiled.

When he was dining in a temple, and in the course of the meal loaves not free from dirt were put on the table, he took them up and threw them away, declaring that nothing unclean ought to enter a temple. To the man who said to him, “You don’t know anything, although you are a philosopher,” he replied, “Even if I am but a pretender to wisdom, that in itself is philosophy.” When some one brought a child to him and declared him to be highly gifted and of excellent character, “What need then,” said he, “has he of me?” Those who say admirable things, but fail to do them, he compared to a harp; for the harp, like them, he said, has neither hearing nor perception. He was going into a theatre, meeting face to face those who were coming out, and being asked why, “This,” he said, “is what I practise doing all my life.”

Seeing a young man behaving effeminately, “Are you not ashamed,” he said, “that your own intention about yourself should be worse than nature’s: for nature made you a man, but you are forcing yourself to play the woman.” Observing a fool tuning a psaltery, “Are you not ashamed,” said he, “to give this wood concordant sounds, while you fail to harmonize your soul with life?” To one who protested that he was ill adapted for the study of philosophy, he said, “Why then do you live, if you do not care to live well?” To one who despised his father, “Are you not ashamed,” he said, “to despise him to whom you owe it that you can so pride yourself?” Noticing a handsome youth chattering in unseemly fashion, “Are you not ashamed,” he said, “to draw a dagger of lead from an ivory scabbard?”

Being reproached with drinking in a tavern, “Well,” said he, “I also get my hair cut in a barber’s shop.” Being reproached with accepting a cloak from Antipater, he replied:

The gods’ choice gifts are nowise to be spurned.40

When some one first shook a beam at him and then shouted “Look out,” Diogenes struck the man with his staff and added “Look out.” To a man who was urgently pressing his suit to a courtesan he said, “Why, hapless man, are you at such pains to gain your suit, when it would be better for you to lose it?” To one with perfumed hair he said, “Beware lest the sweet scent on your head cause an ill odour in your life.” He said that bad men obey their lusts as servants obey their masters.

The question being asked why footmen are so called, he replied, “Because they have the feet of men, but souls such as you, my questioner, have.” He asked a spendthrift for a mina. The man inquired why it was that he asked others for an obol but him for a mina. “Because,” said Diogenes, “I expect to receive from others again, but whether I shall ever get anything from you again lies on the knees of the gods.” Being reproached with begging when Plato did not beg, “Oh yes,” says he, “he does, but when he does so –

He holds his head down close, that none may hear.”41

Seeing a bad archer, he sat down beside the target with the words “in order not to get hit.” Lovers, he declared, derive their pleasures from their misfortune.

Being asked whether death was an evil thing, he replied, “How can it be evil, when in its presence we are not aware of it?” When Alexander stood opposite him and asked, “Are you not afraid of me?” “Why, what are you?” said he, “a good thing or a bad?” Upon Alexander replying “A good thing,” “Who then,” said Diogenes, “is afraid of the good?” Education, according to him, is a controlling grace to the young, consolation to the old, wealth to the poor, and ornament to the rich. When Didymon, who was a rake, was once treating a girl’s eye, “Beware,” says Diogenes, “lest the oculist instead of curing the eye should ruin the pupil.” On somebody declaring that his own friends were plotting against him, Diogenes exclaimed, “What is to be done then, if you have to treat friends and enemies alike?”

Being asked what was the most beautiful thing in the world, he replied, “Freedom of speech.” On entering a boys’ school, he found there many statues of the Muses, but few pupils. “By the help of the gods,” said he, “schoolmaster, you have plenty of pupils.” It was his habit to do everything in public, the works of Demeter and of Aphrodite alike. He used to draw out the following arguments. “If to breakfast be not absurd, neither is it absurd in the market-place; but to breakfast is not absurd, therefore it is not absurd to breakfast in the marketplace.” Behaving indecently in public, he wished “it were as easy to banish hunger by rubbing the belly.” Many other sayings are attributed to him, which it would take long to enumerate.42

He used to affirm that training was of two kinds, mental and bodily: the latter being that whereby, with constant exercise, perceptions are formed such as secure freedom of movement for virtuous deeds; and the one half of this training is incomplete without the other, good health and strength being just as much included among the essential things, whether for body or soul. And he would adduce indisputable evidence to show how easily from gymnastic training we arrive at virtue. For in the manual crafts and other arts it can be seen that the craftsmen develop extraordinary manual skill through practice. Again, take the case of flute-players and of athletes: what surpassing skill they acquire by their own incessant toil; and, if they had transferred their efforts to the training of the mind, how certainly their labours would not have been unprofitable or ineffective.

Nothing in life, however, he maintained, has any chance of succeeding without strenuous practice; and this is capable of overcoming anything. Accordingly, instead of useless toils men should choose such as nature recommends, whereby they might have lived happily. Yet such is their madness that they choose to be miserable. For even the despising of pleasure is itself most pleasurable, when we are habituated to it; and just as those accustomed to a life of pleasure feel disgust when they pass over to the opposite experience, so those whose training has been of the opposite kind derive more pleasure from despising pleasure than from the pleasures themselves. This was the gist of his conversation; and it was plain that he acted accordingly, adulterating currency in very truth, allowing convention no such authority as he allowed to natural right, and asserting that the manner of life he lived was the same as that of Heracles when he preferred liberty to everything.

He maintained that all things are the property of the wise, and employed such arguments as those cited above. All things belong to the gods. The gods are friends to the wise, and friends share all property in common; therefore all things are the property of the wise. Again as to law: that it is impossible for society to exist without law; for without a city no benefit can be derived from that which is civilized. But the city is civilized, and there is no advantage in law without a city; therefore law is something civilized. He would ridicule good birth and fame and all such distinctions, calling them showy ornaments of vice. The only true commonwealth was, he said, that which is as wide as the universe. He advocated community of wives, recognizing no other marriage than a union of the man who persuades with the woman who consents. And for this reason he thought sons too should be held in common.

And he saw no impropriety either in stealing anything from a temple or in eating the flesh of any animal; nor even anything impious in touching human flesh, this, he said, being clear from the custom of some foreign nations. Moreover, according to right reason, as he put it, all elements are contained in all things and pervade everything: since not only is meat a constituent of bread, but bread of vegetables; and all other bodies also, by means of certain invisible passages and particles, find their way in and unite with all substances in the form of vapour. This he makes plain in the Thyestes, if the tragedies are really his and not the work of his friend Philiscus of Aegina or of Pasiphon, the son of Lucian,43 who according to Favorinus in his Miscellaneous History wrote them after the death of Diogenes. He held that we should neglect music, geometry, astronomy, and the like studies, as useless and unnecessary. He became very ready also at repartee in verbal debates, as is evident from what has been said above.

Further, when he was sold as a slave, he endured it most nobly. For on a voyage to Aegina he was captured by pirates under the command of Scirpalus,44 conveyed to Crete and exposed for sale. When the auctioneer asked in what he was proficient, he replied, “In ruling men.” Thereupon he pointed to a certain Corinthian with a fine purple border to his robe, the man named Xeniades above-mentioned, and said, “Sell me to this man; he needs a master.” Thus Xeniades came to buy him, and took him to Corinth and set him over his own children and entrusted his whole household to him. And he administered it in all respects in such a manner that Xeniades used to go about saying, “A good genius has entered my house.”

Cleomenes in his work entitled Concerning Pedagogues says that the friends of Diogenes wanted to ransom him, whereupon he called them simpletons; for, said he, lions are not the slaves of those who feed them, but rather those who feed them are at the mercy of the lions: for fear is the mark of the slave, whereas wild beasts make men afraid of them. The man had in fact a wonderful gift of persuasion, so that he could easily vanquish anyone he liked in argument. At all events a certain Onesicritus of Aegina is said to have sent to Athens the one of his two sons named Androsthenes, and he having become a pupil of Diogenes stayed there; the father then sent the other also, the aforesaid Philiscus, who was the elder, in search of him; but Philiscus also was detained in the same way. When, thirdly, the father himself arrived, he was just as much attracted to the pursuit of philosophy as his sons and joined the circle – so magical was the spell which the discourses of Diogenes exerted. Amongst his hearers was Phocion surnamed the Honest, and Stilpo the Megarian, and many other men prominent in political life.

Diogenes is said to have been nearly ninety years old when he died. Regarding his death there are several different accounts. One is that he was seized with colic after eating an octopus raw and so met his end. Another is that he died voluntarily by holding his breath. This account was followed by Cercidas of Megalopolis (or of Crete), who in his meliambics writes thus:

Not so he who aforetime was a citizen of Sinope,

That famous one who carried a staff, doubled his cloak, and lived in the open air.

But he soared aloft with his lip tightly pressed against his teeth

And holding his breath withal. For in truth he was rightly named

Diogenes, a true-born son of Zeus, a hound of heaven.

Another version is that, while trying to divide an octopus amongst the dogs, he was so severely bitten on the sinew of the foot that it caused his death. His friends, however, according to Antisthenes in his Successions of Philosophers, conjectured that it was due to the retention of his breath. For he happened to be living in the Craneum, the gymnasium in front of Corinth. When his friends came according to custom and found him wrapped up in his cloak, they thought that he must be asleep, although he was by no means of a drowsy or somnolent habit. They therefore drew aside his cloak and found that he was dead. This they supposed to have been his deliberate act in order to escape thenceforward from life.

Hence, it is said, arose a quarrel among his disciples as to who should bury him: nay, they even came to blows; but, when their fathers and men of influence arrived, under their direction he was buried beside the gate leading to the Isthmus. Over his grave they set up a pillar and a dog in Parian marble upon it. Subsequently his fellow-citizens honoured him with bronze statues, on which these verses were inscribed:

Time makes even bronze grow old: but thy glory, Diogenes, all eternity will never destroy.

Since thou alone didst point out to mortals the lesson of self-sufficingness and the easiest path of life.45

We too have written on him in the proceleusmatic metre:

a. Diogenes, come tell me what fate took you to the world below?

d. A dog’s savage tooth.46

But some say that when dying he left instructions that they should throw him out unburied, that every wild beast might feed on him, or thrust him into a ditch and sprinkle a little dust over him. But according to others his instructions were that they should throw him into the Ilissus, in order that he might be useful to his brethren.

Demetrius in his work On Men of the Same Name asserts that on the same day on which Alexander died in Babylon Diogenes died in Corinth. He was an old man in the 113th Olympiad.47

The following writings are attributed to him. Dialogues:

Seven Tragedies:

Sosicrates in the first book of his Successions, and Satyrus in the fourth book of his Lives, allege that Diogenes left nothing in writing, and Satyrus adds that the sorry tragedies are by his friend Philiscus, the Aeginetan. Sotion in his seventh book declares that only the following are genuine works of Diogenes: On Virtue, On Good, On Love, A Mendicant, Tolmaeus, Pordalus, Casandrus, Cephalion, Philiscus, Aristarchus, Sisyphus, Ganymedes, Anecdotes, Letters.

There have been five men who were named Diogenes. The first, of Apollonia, a natural philosopher. The beginning of his treatise runs thus: “At the outset of every discourse, methinks, one should see to it that the basis laid down is unquestionable.” The second – of Sicyon – who wrote an “Account of Peloponnesus.” The third, our present subject. The fourth, a Stoic born at Seleucia, who is also called the Babylonian, because Seleucia is near Babylon. The fifth, of Tarsus, author of a work on poetical problems, which he attempts to solve.

Now the philosopher is said by Athenodorus in the eighth book of his Walks to have always had a sleek appearance owing to his use of unguents.48

13 An eminent politician. Pausanias, i. cc. 25, 26, describes a statue of Olympiodorus in the Acropolis, and takes occasion to recount his exploits, how (c. 288 B.C.) he delivered Athens from the Macedonians (cf. Plut. Demetr. c. 46). As to the variant Ἀθηνόδωρος, nothing is known of any Athenian politician of that name.

14 Some of the stories which follow are so much alike that it is charitable to suppose that Laertius drew from more than one collection of the sayings of Diogenes.

15 Obviously Favorinus was not the author (vide infra) whom Laertius followed here.

16 The point of Sotion’s version is best seen if for the indirect τὸν Πλάτωνα τὸν κύνα (sc. πατεῖν) we substitute the direct speech τὸν Πλάτωνα ὁ κύων (sc. πατῶ).

17 From Epictetus iii. 15. 4 it is evident that competition in digging trenches (ἐν τῷ ἀγῶνι παρορύσσεσθαι ) formed a part of the course of preparation which athletes underwent at Olympia.

18 Cf. Ecclus. iv. 31 (36) μὴ ἔστω ἡ χείρ σου ἐκτεταμένη εἰς τὸ λαβεῖν καὶ ἐν τῷ ἀποδιδόναι συνεσταλμένη, “let not thine hand be stretched out to receive, and shut when thou shouldest repay.”

19 Menagius, followed by Hubner, on the authority of Ambrosius, reads “Hermippus”; for among the works of Menippus enumerated by Laertius below (101) there is no mention of a “Sale of Diogenes.”

20 Eur. Med. 410.

21 Nauck, T.G.F. ², Adesp.284.

22 Cf. Plut. Alex. c. 14.

23 Where the wool was of fine quality, as near Tarentum (Hor. Carm. ii. 6. 10 “pellitis ovibus”), the fleeces were protected by coverings of skin, partly against damage from brambles and partly to preserve the colour (Varro, R. R. ii. 2). We are reminded of what Augustus said when he heard of the execution of Antipater, “It is better to be Herod’s pig than his son.”

24 i.e. “some day you’ll come to the gallows.”

25 “You would not see so many bones if I were the dog,” was Dante’s retort when annoyed by similar attentions at the table of Can Grande.

26 Shepherd’s Bush.

27 Cf. inf. vii. 111; 1 Tim. vi. 10, “The love of money is the root of all evil.”

28 i.e. a whirlpool engulfing a man’s livelihood.

29 Hom. Il. x. 343, 387.

30 Cf. Hom. Il. v. 40, xviii. 95.

31 i.e. Plato. This anecdote is found in Aelian, Var. Hist. xiv. 33 εἰώθει δέ, φασίν, ὁ Πλάτων περὶ Διογένους λέγειν ὅτι μαινόμενος οὗτος Σωκράτης ἐστίν.

32 Eur. Phoen. 40.

33 Hom. Il. v. 366, viii. 45. In the Homeric lines, however, ἐλάαν is a verb in the infinitive mood: “he lashed the steeds to make them run.”

34 Il. v. 83.

35 As Chiron was the wisest and best, so Eurytion was the most intemperate, of the Centaurs: “Eurytion, ebriosus ille Centaurus” (Menagius).

36 Literally “Diogenes the Hound”; cf. ii. 66.

37 If this answer is authentic, it apparently shows that the famous term “cosmopolitan” originated with Diogenes.

38 There is no such line in our mss. of Homer; it is unknown to the Scholiasts and to Eustathius. Joshua Barnes, in his edition of the Iliad, introduced it as xvi. 82a. Pope rendered it, about 1718, as follows (Il. xvi. 86):

“Rage uncontrolled through all the hostile crew,

But touch not Hector, Hector is my due.”

In Clarke’s edition of 1740 it is expelled from the text and relegated to a footnote. J. H. Voss, however, making a German translation of the Iliad, probably between 1781 and 1793, still regarded it as Homeric, but found a fresh place for it, after xvi. 90.

39 “Sarapis” was represented, like Pluto, as seated with an animal by his side having the head of a dog, lion, or wolf combined (according to Baumeister) in “a three-headed Cerberus.”

40 Il. iii. 65.

41 Od. i. 157, iv. 70.

42 70-73. As 74 joins on well to 69, the intermediate specimens of Cynic maxims (cf. note on 10) are clearly an insertion, probably from a different source.

43 It has been conjectured that the Pasiphon meant was the philosopher of Eretria, to whom Persaeus attributed the composition of spurious Socratic Dialogues (v. supra, ii. 61). Modern scholars incline to regard him as the author of the Πίναξ attributed to Cebes by D. L. ii. 125 (v. Susemihl, Griechische Literatur in der Alexandrinerzeit, i. p. 20, Welcker, Kl. Schr. i. p. 422, n. 18). Wilamowitz conjectures that Λουκιανοῦ has displaced the local adjective of his birthplace.

44 “Harpalus” according to Cic. N. D. iii. 34. 83.

45 Anth. Pal. xvi. 334.

46 Anth. Pal. vii. 116.

47 324-321 B.C.

48 Cf. Epictet. iii. 22. 88 ὡς Διογένης ἐποίει‧ στίλβων γὰρ περιήρχετο καὶ αὐτὸ τὸ σῶμα ἐπέστρεφε τοὺς πολλούς.


Monimus of Syracuse was a pupil of Diogenes; and, according to Sosicrates, he was in the service of a certain Corinthian banker, to whom Xeniades, the purchaser of Diogenes, made frequent visits, and by the account which he gave of his goodness in word and deed, excited in Monimus a passionate admiration of Diogenes. For he forthwith pretended to be mad and proceeded to fling away the small change and all the money on the banker’s table, until at length his master dismissed him; and he then straightway devoted himself to Diogenes. He often followed Crates the Cynic as well, and embraced the like pursuits; whereupon his master, seeing him do this, was all the more persuaded that he was mad.

He came to be a distinguished man; so much so that he is even mentioned by the comic poet Menander. At any rate in one of his plays, The Groom, his words are:

One Monimus there was, a wise man, Philo,

But not so very famous.

a. He, you mean,

Who carried the scrip?

b. Nay, not one scrip, but three.

Yet never a word, so help me Zeus, spake he

To match the saying, Know thyself, nor such

Famed watchwords. Far beyond all these he went,

Your dusty mendicant, pronouncing wholly vain

All man’s supposings.

Monimus indeed showed himself a very grave moralist, so that he ever despised mere opinion and sought only truth.

He has left us, besides some trifles blended with covert earnestness, two books, On Impulses and an Exhortation to Philosophy.


Onesicritus some report to have been an Aeginetan, but Demetrius of Magnesia says that he was a native of Astypalaea. He too was one of the distinguished pupils of Diogenes. His career seems to have resembled that of Xenophon; for Xenophon joined the expedition of Cyrus, Onesicritus that of Alexander; and the former wrote the Cyropaedia, or Education of Cyrus, while the latter has described how Alexander was educated: the one a laudation of Cyrus, the other of Alexander. And in their diction they are not unlike: except that Onesicritus, as is to be expected in an imitator, falls short of his model.

Amongst other pupils of Diogenes were Menander, who was nicknamed Drymus or “Oakwood,” a great admirer of Homer; Hegesias of Sinope, nicknamed “Dog-collar”; and Philiscus of Aegina mentioned above.


Crates, son of Ascondas, was a Theban. He too was amongst the Cynic’s famous pupils. Hippobotus, however, alleges that he was a pupil not of Diogenes, but of Bryson49 the Achaean. The following playful lines are attributed to him:50

There is a city Pera in the midst of wine-dark vapour,

Fair, fruitful, passing squalid, owning nought,

Into which sails nor fool nor parasite

Nor glutton, slave of sensual appetite,

But thyme it bears, garlic, and figs and loaves,

For which things’ sake men fight not each with other,

Nor stand to arms for money or for fame.

There is also his widely circulated day-book, which runs as follows:

Set down for the chef ten minas, for the doctor

One drachma, for a flatterer talents five,

For counsel smoke, for mercenary beauty

A talent, for a philosopher three obols.

He was known as the “Door-opener” – the caller to whom all doors fly open – from his habit of entering every house and admonishing those within. Here is another specimen of his composition:51

That much I have which I have learnt and thought,

The noble lessons taught me by the Muses:

But wealth amassed is prey to vanity.

And again he says that what he has gained from philosophy is

A quart of lupins and to care for no one.

This too is quoted as his:52

Hunger stops love, or, if not hunger, Time,

Or, failing both these means of help, – a halter.

He flourished in the 113th Olympiad.53

According to Antisthenes in his Successions, the first impulse to the Cynic philosophy was given to him when he saw Telephus in a certain tragedy carrying a little basket and altogether in a wretched plight. So he turned his property into money, – for he belonged to a distinguished family, – and having thus collected about 200 talents, distributed that sum among his fellow-citizens. And (it is added) so sturdy a philosopher did he become that he is mentioned by the comic poet Philemon. At all events the latter says:

In summer-time a thick cloak he would wear

To be like Crates, and in winter rags.

Diocles relates how Diogenes persuaded Crates to give up his fields to sheep pasture, and throw into the sea any money he had.

In the home of Crates Alexander is said to have lodged, as Philip once lived in Hipparchia’s. Often, too, certain of his kinsmen would come to visit him and try to divert him from his purpose. These he would drive from him with his stick, and his resolution was unshaken. Demetrius of Magnesia tells a story that he entrusted a banker with a sum of money on condition that, if his sons proved ordinary men he was to pay it to them, but, if they became philosophers, then to distribute it among the people: for his sons would need nothing, if they took to philosophy. Eratosthenes tells us that by Hipparchia, of whom we shall presently speak, he had a son born to him named Pasicles, and after he had ceased to be a cadet on service, Crates took him to a brothel and told him that was how his father had married. The marriage of intrigue and adultery, he said, belonged to tragedy, having exile or assassination as its rewards; while the weddings of those who take up with courtesans are material for comedy, for as a result of extravagance and drunkenness they bring about madness.

This man had a brother named Pasicles, who was a disciple of Euclides.

Favorinus, in the second book of his Memorabilia, tells a pleasant story of Crates. For he relates how, when making some request of the master of the gymnasium, he laid hold on his hips; and when he demurred, said, “What, are not these hip-joints yours as much as your knees?” It was, he used to say, impossible to find anybody wholly free from flaws; but, just as in a pomegranate, one of the seeds is always going bad. Having exasperated the musician Nicodromus, he was struck by him on the face. So he stuck a plaster on his forehead with these words on it, “Nicodromus’s handiwork.” He carried on a regular campaign of invective against the courtesans, habituating himself to meet their abuse.

When Demetrius of Phalerum sent him loaves of bread and some wine, he reproached him, saying, “Oh that the springs yielded bread as well as water!” It is clear, then, that he was a water-drinker. When the police-inspectors found fault with him for wearing muslin, his answer was, “I’ll show you that Theophrastus also wears muslin.” This they would not believe: so he led them to a barber’s shop and showed them Theophrastus being shaved. At Thebes he was flogged by the master of the gymnasium – another version being that it was by Euthycrates and at Corinth; and being dragged by the heels, he called out, as if it did not affect him:54

Seized by the foot and dragged o’er heaven’s high threshold:

Diocles, however, says that it was by Menedemus of Eretria that he was thus dragged. For he being handsome and being thought to be intimate with Asclepiades the Phliasian, Crates slapped him on the side with a brutal taunt; whereupon Menedemus, full of indignation, dragged him along, and he declaimed as above.

Zeno of Citium in his Anecdotes relates that in a fit of heedlessness he sewed a sheepskin to his cloak. He was ugly to look at, and when performing his gymnastic exercises used to be laughed at. He was accustomed to say, raising his hands, “Take heart, Crates, for it is for the good of your eyes and of the rest of your body. You will see these men, who are laughing at you, tortured before long by disease, counting you happy, and reproaching themselves for their sluggishness.” He used to say that we should study philosophy to the point of seeing in generals nothing but donkey-drivers. Those who live with flatterers he declared to be as defenceless as calves in the midst of wolves; for neither these nor those have any to protect them, but only such as plot against them. Perceiving that he was dying, he would chant over himself this charm, “You are going, dear hunchback, you are off to the house of Hades, – bent crooked by old age.” For his years had bowed him down.

When Alexander inquired whether he would like his native city to be rebuilt, his answer was, “Why should it be? Perhaps another Alexander will destroy it again.” Ignominy and Poverty he declared to be his country, which Fortune could never take captive. He was, he said, a fellow-citizen of Diogenes, who defied all the plots of envy. Menander alludes to him in the Twin Sisters in the following lines:

Wearing a cloak you’ll go about with me,

As once with Cynic Crates went his wife:

His daughter too, as he himself declared,

He gave in marriage for a month on trial.

We come now to his pupils.

49 Not the same as Bryson of Heracleia, whom we know from the Platonic Epistles, from Aristotle, and from Athenaeus (xi. p. 508). He may, however, have been the disciple of Pythagoras mentioned by Iamblichus (Vita Pyth. c. 23).

50 Anth. Plan. v. 13.

51 Anth. Pal. vii. 326.

52 Anth. Pal. ix. 497.

53 328-324 B.C.

54 Hom. Il. i. 591.


Metrocles of Maroneia was the brother of Hipparchia. He had been formerly a pupil of Theophrastus the Peripatetic, and had been so far corrupted by weakness that, when he made a breach of good manners in the course of rehearsing a speech, it drove him to despair, and he shut himself up at home, intending to starve himself to death. On learning this Crates came to visit him as he had been asked to do, and after advisedly making a meal of lupins, he tried to persuade him by argument as well that he had committed no crime, for a prodigy would have happened if he had not taken the natural means of relieving himself. At last by reproducing the action he succeeded in lifting him from his dejection, using for his consolation the likeness of the occurrences. From that time forward Metrocles was his pupil, and became proficient in philosophy.

Hecato in the first book of his Anecdotes tells us he burned his compositions with the words:55

Phantoms are these of dreams o’ the world below.

Others say that when he set fire to his notes of Theophrastus’s lectures, he added the line:

Come hither, Hephaestus, Thetis now needeth thee.

He divided things into such as are procurable for money, like a house, and such as can be procured by time and trouble, like education. Wealth, he said, is harmful, unless we put it to a worthy use.

He died of old age, having choked himself.

His disciples were Theombrotus and Cleomenes: Theombrotus had for his pupil Demetrius of Alexandria, while Cleomenes instructed Timarchus of Alexandria and Echecles of Ephesus. Not but what Echecles also heard Theombrotus, whose lectures were attended by Menedemus, of whom we shall speak presently. Menippus of Sinope also became renowned amongst them.

55 Nauck, T.G.F. ², Adesp. 285


Hipparchia too, sister of Metrocles, was captured by their doctrines. Both of them were born at Maroneia.

She fell in love with the discourses and the life of Crates, and would not pay attention to any of her suitors, their wealth, their high birth or their beauty. But to her Crates was everything. She used even to threaten her parents she would make away with herself, unless she were given in marriage to him. Crates therefore was implored by her parents to dissuade the girl, and did all he could, and at last, failing to persuade her, got up, took off his clothes before her face and said, “This is the bridegroom, here are his possessions; make your choice accordingly; for you will be no helpmeet of mine, unless you share my pursuits.”

The girl chose and, adopting the same dress, went about with her husband and lived with him in public and went out to dinners with him. Accordingly she appeared at the banquet given by Lysimachus, and there put down Theodorus, known as the atheist, by means of the following sophism. Any action which would not be called wrong if done by Theodorus, would not be called wrong if done by Hipparchia. Now Theodorus does no wrong when he strikes himself: therefore neither does Hipparchia do wrong when she strikes Theodorus. He had no reply wherewith to meet the argument, but tried to strip her of her cloak. But Hipparchia showed no sign of alarm or of the perturbation natural in a woman. And when he said to her:

“Is this she

Who quitting woof and warp and comb and loom?”56

she replied, “It is I, Theodorus, – but do you suppose that I have been ill advised about myself, if instead of wasting further time upon the loom I spent it in education?” These tales and countless others are told of the female philosopher.

There is current a work of Crates entitled Epistles, containing excellent philosophy in a style which sometimes resembles that of Plato. He has also written tragedies, stamped with a very lofty kind of philosophy; as, for example, the following passage:57

Not one tower hath my country nor one roof,

But wide as the whole earth its citadel

And home prepared for us to dwell therein.

He died in old age, and was buried in Boeotia.

56 Eur. Bacch. 1236.

57 Nauck, T.G.F. ², Crat. i. p. 810.


Menippus,58 also a Cynic, was by descent a Phoenician – a slave, as Achacus in his treatise on Ethics says. Diocles further informs us that his master was a citizen of Pontus and was named Baton. But as avarice made him very resolute in begging, he succeeded in becoming a Theban.

There is no seriousness59 in him; but his books overflow with laughter, much the same as those of his contemporary Meleager.60

Hermippus says that he lent out money by the day and got a nickname from doing so. For he used to make loans on bottomry and take security, thus accumulating a large fortune. At last, however, he fell a victim to a plot, was robbed of all, and in despair ended his days by hanging himself. I have composed a trifle upon him:61

May be, you know Menippus,

Phoenician by birth, but a Cretan hound:

A money-lender by the day – so he was called –

At Thebes when once on a time his house was broken into

And he lost his all, not understanding what it is to be a Cynic,

He hanged himself.

Some authorities question the genuineness of the books attributed to him, alleging them to be by Dionysius and Zopyrus of Colophon, who, writing them for a joke, made them over to Menippus as a person able to dispose of them advantageously.

There have been six men named Menippus: the first the man who wrote a History of the Lydians and abridged Xanthus; the second my present subject; the third a sophist of Stratonicea, a Carian by descent;62 the fourth a sculptor; the fifth and sixth painters, both mentioned by Apollodorus.

However, the writings of Menippus the Cynic are thirteen in number:

Besides other works.

58 “Menippus ille, nobilis quidem canis,” Varro apud Nonium 333. Cf. Lucian, Icaromenippus 15, Bis Accusatus 33. Varro’s Saturae Menippeae, a mixture of prose and verse, were an imitation of the style of Menippus, although their subject matter was original and genuinely Roman.

59 Strabo, however (xvi. p. 759), speaks of him as σπουδογέλοιος.

60 For a fragment from his Banquet see Athenaeus 502 c.

61 Anth. Plan. v. 41.

62 Cf. Cic. Brut. 91, 315 ”post a me tota Asia peragrata est, [fuique] cum summis quidem oratoribus, quibus-cum exercebar ipsis lubentibus; quorum erat princeps Menippus Stratonicensis meo iudicio tota Asia illis temporibus disertissimus, ” and Strabo xvi. 660.


Menedemus was a pupil of Colotes of Lampsacus. According to Hippobotus he had attained such a degree of audacity in wonder-working that he went about in the guise of a Fury, saying that he had come from Hades to take cognisance of sins committed, and was going to return and report them to the powers down below. This was his attire: a grey tunic reaching to the feet, about it a crimson girdle; an Arcadian hat on his head with the twelve signs of the zodiac inwrought in it; buskins of tragedy; and he wore a very long beard and carried an ashen staff in his hand.

Such are the lives of the several Cynics. But we will go on to append the doctrines which they held in common – if, that is, we decide that Cynicism is really a philosophy, and not, as some maintain, just a way of life. They are content then, like Ariston of Chios, to do away with the subjects of Logic and Physics and to devote their whole attention to Ethics. And what some assert of Socrates, Diocles records of Diogenes, representing him as saying: “We must inquire into

Whate’er of good or ill within our halls is wrought.”63

They also dispense with the ordinary subjects of instruction. At least Antisthenes used to say that those who had attained discretion had better not study literature, lest they should be perverted by alien influences. So they get rid of geometry and music and all such studies. Anyhow, when somebody showed Diogenes a clock, he pronounced it a serviceable instrument to save one from being late for dinner. Again, to a man who gave a musical recital before him he said:64

By men’s minds states are ordered well, and households,

Not by the lyre’s twanged strings or flute’s trilled notes.

They hold further that “Life according to Virtue” is the End to be sought, as Antisthenes says in his Heracles: exactly like the Stoics. For indeed there is a certain close relationship between the two schools. Hence it has been said that Cynicism is a short cut to virtue; and after the same pattern did Zeno of Citium live his life.

They also hold that we should live frugally, eating food for nourishment only and wearing a single garment. Wealth and fame and high birth they despise. Some at all events are vegetarians and drink cold water only and are content with any kind of shelter or tubs, like Diogenes, who used to say that it was the privilege of the gods to need nothing and of god-like men to want but little.

They hold, further, that virtue can be taught, as Antisthenes maintains in his Heracles, and when once acquired cannot be lost; and that the wise man is worthy to be loved, impeccable, and a friend to his like; and that we should entrust nothing to fortune. Whatever is intermediate between Virtue and Vice they, in agreement with Ariston of Chios, account indifferent.

So much, then, for the Cynics. We must now pass on to the Stoics, whose founder was Zeno, a disciple of Crates.

63 Hom. Od. iv. 392.

64 Cf. Eur. Antiope, Frag. 205 Dind.

Book VII

Zeno. Ariston. Herillus. Dionysius. Cleanthes. Sphaerus. Chrysippus.


Zeno, the son of Mnaseas (or Demeas), was a native of Citium in Cyprus, a Greek city which had received Phoenician settlers. He had a wry neck, says Timotheus of Athens in his book On Lives. Moreover, Apollonius of Tyre says he was lean, fairly tall, and swarthy – hence some one called him an Egyptian vine-branch, according to Chrysippus in the first book of his Proverbs. He had thick legs; he was flabby and delicate. Hence Persaeus in his Convivial Reminiscences relates that he declined most invitations to dinner. They say he was fond of eating green figs and of basking in the sun.

He was a pupil of Crates, as stated above. Next they say he attended the lectures of Stilpo and Xenocrates for ten years – so Timocrates says in his Dion – and Polemo as well. It is stated by Hecato and by Apollonius of Tyre in his first book on Zeno that he consulted the oracle to know what he should do to attain the best life, and that the god’s response was that he should take on the complexion of the dead. Whereupon, perceiving what this meant, he studied ancient authors. Now the way he came across Crates was this. He was shipwrecked on a voyage from Phoenicia to Peiraeus with a cargo of purple. He went up into Athens and sat down in a bookseller’s shop, being then a man of thirty. As he went on reading the second book of Xenophon’s Memorabilia, he was so pleased that he inquired where men like Socrates were to be found. Crates passed by in the nick of time, so the bookseller pointed to him and said, “Follow yonder man.” From that day he became Crates’s pupil, showing in other respects a strong bent for philosophy, though with too much native modesty to assimilate Cynic shamelessness. Hence Crates, desirous of curing this defect in him, gave him a potful of lentil-soup to carry through the Ceramicus; and when he saw that he was ashamed and tried to keep it out of sight, with a blow of his staff he broke the pot. As Zeno took to flight with the lentil-soup flowing down his legs, “Why run away, my little Phoenician?” quoth Crates, “nothing terrible has befallen you.”

For a certain space, then, he was instructed by Crates, and when at this time he had written his Republic, some said in jest that he had written it on Cynosura, i.e. on the dog’s tail.1 Besides the Republic he wrote the following works:

There are also by him:

This is a list of his writings. But at last he left Crates, and the men above mentioned were his masters for twenty years. Hence he is reported to have said, “I made a prosperous voyage when I suffered shipwreck.” But others attribute this saying of his to the time when he was under Crates. A different version of the story is that he was staying at Athens when he heard his ship was wrecked and said, “It is well done of thee, Fortune, thus to drive me to philosophy.” But some say that he disposed of his cargo in Athens, before he turned his attention to philosophy.

He used then to discourse, pacing up and down in the painted colonnade, which is also called the colonnade or Portico2 of Pisianax, but which received its name from the painting of Polygnotus; his object being to keep the spot clear of a concourse of idlers. It was the spot where in the time of the Thirty 1400 Athenian citizens had been put to death.3 Hither, then, people came henceforth to hear Zeno, and this is why they were known as men of the Stoa, or Stoics; and the same name was given to his followers, who had formerly been known as Zenonians. So it is stated by Epicurus in his letters. According to Eratosthenes in his eighth book On the Old Comedy, the name of Stoic had formerly been applied to the poets who passed their time there, and they had made the name of Stoic still more famous.

The people of Athens held Zeno in high honour, as is proved by their depositing with him the keys of the city walls, and their honouring him with a golden crown and a bronze statue. This last mark of respect was also shown to him by citizens of his native town, who deemed his statue an ornament to their city,4 and the men of Citium living in Sidon were also proud to claim him for their own. Antigonus (Gonatas) also favoured him, and whenever he came to Athens would hear him lecture and often invited him to come to his court. This offer he declined but dispatched thither one of his friends, Persaeus, the son of Demetrius and a native of Citium, who flourished in the 130th Olympiad,5 at which time Zeno was already an old man. According to Apollonius of Tyre in his work upon Zeno, the letter of Antigonus was couched in the following terms:

“King Antigonus to Zeno the philosopher, greeting.

“While in fortune and fame I deem myself your superior, in reason and education I own myself inferior, as well as in the perfect happiness which you have attained. Wherefore I have decided to ask you to pay me a visit, being persuaded that you will not refuse the request. By all means, then, do your best to hold conference with me, understanding clearly that you will not be the instructor of myself alone but of all the Macedonians taken together. For it is obvious that whoever instructs the ruler of Macedonia and guides him in the paths of virtue will also be training his subjects to be good men. As is the ruler, such for the most part it may be expected that his subjects will become.”

And Zeno’s reply is as follows:

“Zeno to King Antigonus, greeting.

“I welcome your love of learning in so far as you cleave to that true education which tends to advantage and not to that popular counterfeit of it which serves only to corrupt morals. But if anyone has yearned for philosophy, turning away from much-vaunted pleasure which renders effeminate the souls of some of the young, it is evident that not by nature only, but also by the bent of his will he is inclined to nobility of character. But if a noble nature be aided by moderate exercise and further receive ungrudging instruction, it easily comes to acquire virtue in perfection. But I am constrained by bodily weakness, due to old age, for I am eighty years old; and for that reason I am unable to join you. But I send you certain companions of my studies whose mental powers are not inferior to mine, while their bodily strength is far greater, and if you associate with these you will in no way fall short of the conditions necessary to perfect happiness.”

So he sent Persaeus and Philonides the Theban; and Epicurus in his letter to his brother Aristobulus mentions them both as living with Antigonus. I have thought it well to append the decree also which the Athenians passed concerning him. It reads as follows:6

“In the archonship of Arrhenides, in the fifth prytany of the tribe Acamantis on the twenty-first day of Maemacterion, at the twenty-third plenary assembly of the prytany, one of the presidents, Hippo, the son of Cratistoteles, of the deme Xypetaeon, and his co-presidents put the question to the vote; Thraso, the son of Thraso of the deme Anacaea, moved:

“Whereas Zeno of Citium, son of Mnaseas, has for many years been devoted to philosophy in the city and has continued to be a man of worth in all other respects, exhorting to virtue and temperance those of the youth who come to him to be taught, directing them to what is best, affording to all in his own conduct a pattern for imitation in perfect consistency with his teaching, it has seemed good to the people – and may it turn out well – to bestow praise upon Zeno of Citium, the son of Mnaseas, and to crown him with a golden crown according to the law, for his goodness and temperance, and to build him a tomb in the Ceramicus at the public cost. And that for the making of the crown and the building of the tomb, the people shall now elect five commissioners from all Athenians, and the Secretary of State shall inscribe this decree on two stone pillars and it shall be lawful for him to set up one in the Academy and the other in the Lyceum. And that the magistrate presiding over the administration shall apportion the expense incurred upon the pillars, that all may know that the Athenian people honour the good both in their life and after their death. Thraso of the deme Anacaea, Philocles of Peiraeus, Phaedrus of Anaphlystus, Medon of Acharnae, Micythus of Sypalettus, and Dion of Paeania have been elected commissioners for the making of the crown and the building.”

These are the terms of the decree.

Antigonus of Carystus tells us that he never denied that he was a citizen of Citium. For when he was one of those who contributed to the restoration of the baths and his name was inscribed upon the pillar as “Zeno the philosopher,” he requested that the words “of Citium” should be added. He made a hollow lid for a flask and used to carry about money in it, in order that there might be provision at hand for the necessities of his master Crates. It is said that he had more than a thousand talents when he came to Greece, and that he lent this money on bottomry.7 He used to eat little loaves and honey and to drink a little wine of good bouquet. He rarely employed men-servants; once or twice indeed he might have a young girl to wait on him in order not to seem a misogynist. He shared the same house with Persaeus, and when the latter brought in a little flute-player he lost no time in leading her straight to Persaeus. They tell us he readily adapted himself to circumstances, so much so that King Antigonus often broke in on him with a noisy party, and once took him along with other revellers to Aristocles the musician; Zeno, however, in a little while gave them the slip. He disliked, they say, to be brought too near to people, so that he would take the end seat of a couch, thus saving himself at any rate from one half of such inconvenience. Nor indeed would he walk about with more than two or three. He would occasionally ask the bystanders for coppers, in order that, for fear of being asked to give, people might desist from mobbing him, as Cleanthes says in his work On Bronze. When several persons stood about him in the Colonnade he pointed to the wooden railing at the top round the altar and said, “This was once open to all, but because it was found to be a hindrance it was railed off. If you then will take yourselves off out of the way you will be the less annoyance to us.”

When Demochares, the son of Laches, greeted him and told him he had only to speak or write for anything he wanted to Antigonus, who would be sure to grant all his requests, Zeno after hearing this would have nothing more to do with him.8 After Zeno’s death Antigonus is reported to have said, “What an audience I have lost.”9 Hence too he employed Thraso as his agent to request the Athenians to bury Zeno in the Ceramicus. And when asked why he admired him, “Because,” said he, “the many ample gifts I offered him never made him conceited nor yet appear poor-spirited.”

His bent was towards inquiry, and he was an exact reasoner on all subjects. Hence the words of Timon in his Silli:10

A Phoenician too I saw, a pampered old woman ensconced in gloomy pride, longing for all things; but the meshes of her subtle web have perished, and she had no more intelligence than a banjo.11

He used to dispute very carefully with Philo the logician and study along with him. Hence Zeno, who was the junior, had as great an admiration for Philo as his master Diodorus. And he had about him certain ragged dirty fellows, as Timon says12 in these lines:

The while he got together a crowd of ignorant serfs, who surpassed all men in beggary and were the emptiest of townsfolk.13

Zeno himself was sour and of a frowning countenance. He was very niggardly too, clinging to meanness unworthy of a Greek, on the plea of economy, If he pitched into anyone he would do it concisely, and not effusively, keeping him rather at arm’s length. I mean, for example, his remark upon the fop showing himself off. When he was slowly picking his way across a watercourse, “With good reason,” quoth Zeno, “he looks askance at the mud, for he can’t see his face in it.” When a certain Cynic declared he had no oil in his flask and begged some of him, Zeno refused to give him any. However, as the man went away, Zeno bade him consider which of the two was the more impudent. Being enamoured of Chremonides, as he and Cleanthes were sitting beside the youth, he got up, and upon Cleanthes expressing surprise, “Good physicians tell us,” said he, “that the best cure for inflammation is repose.” When of two reclining next to each other over the wine, the one who was neighbour to Zeno kicked the guest below him, Zeno himself nudged the man with his knee, and upon the man turning round, inquired, “How do you think your neighbour liked what you did to him?” To a lover of boys he remarked, “Just as schoolmasters lose their common-sense by spending all their time with boys, so it is with people like you.” He used to say that the very exact expressions used by those who avoided solecisms were like the coins struck by Alexander: they were beautiful in appearance and well-rounded like the coins, but none the better on that account. Words of the opposite kind he would compare to the Attic tetradrachms, which, though struck carelessly and inartistically, nevertheless outweighed the ornate phrases. When his pupil Ariston discoursed at length in an uninspired manner, sometimes in a headstrong and over-confident way. “Your father,” said he, “must have been drunk when he begat you.” Hence he would call him a chatterbox, being himself concise in speech.

There was a gourmand so greedy that he left nothing for his table companions. A large fish having been served, Zeno took it up as if he were about to eat the whole. When the other looked at him, “What do you suppose,” said he, “those who live with you feel every day, if you cannot put up with my gourmandise in this single instance?” A youth was putting a question with more curiosity than became his years, whereupon Zeno led him to a mirror, and bade him look in it; after which he inquired if he thought it became anyone who looked like that to ask such questions. Some one said that he did not in general agree with Antisthenes, whereupon Zeno produced that author’s essay on Sophocles, and asked him if he thought it had any excellence; to which the reply was that he did not know. “Then are you not ashamed,” quoth he, “to pick out and mention anything wrong said by Antisthenes, while you suppress his good things without giving them a thought?”

Some one having said that he thought the chain-arguments of the philosophers seemed brief and curt, Zeno replied, “You are quite right; indeed, the very syllables ought, if possible, to be clipped.” Some one remarked to him about Polemo, that his discourse was different from the subject he announced. He replied with a frown, “Well, what value would you have set upon what was given out?” He said that when conversing we ought to be earnest and, like actors, we should have a loud voice and great strength; but we ought not to open the mouth too wide, which is what your senseless chatterbox does. “Telling periods,” he said, “unlike the works of good craftsmen, should need no pause for the contemplation of their excellences; on the contrary, the hearer should be so absorbed in the discourse itself as to have no leisure even to take notes.”

Once when a young man was talking a good deal, he said, “Your ears have slid down and merged in your tongue.” To the fair youth, who gave it as his opinion that the wise man would not fall in love, his reply was: “Then who can be more hapless than you fair youths?” He used to say that even of philosophers the greater number were in most things unwise, while about small and casual things they were quite ignorant. And he used to cite the saying of Caphisius, who, when one of his pupils was endeavouring to blow the flute lustily, gave him a slap and told him that to play well does not depend on loudness, though playing loudly may follow upon playing well.14 And to a youth who was talking somewhat saucily his rejoinder was, “I would rather not tell you what I am thinking, my lad.”

A Rhodian, who was handsome and rich, but nothing more, insisted on joining his class; but so unwelcome was this pupil, that first of all Zeno made him sit on the benches that were dusty, that he might soil his cloak, and then he consigned him to the place where the beggars sat, that he might rub shoulders with their rags; so at last the young man went away. Nothing, he declared, was more unbecoming than arrogance, especially in the young. He used also to say that it was not the words and expressions that we ought to remember, but we should exercise our mind in disposing to advantage of what we hear, instead of, as it were, tasting a well-cooked dish or well-dressed meal. The young, he thought, should behave with perfect propriety in walk, gait and dress, and he used continually to quote the lines of Euripides about Capaneus:

Large means had he, yet not the haughtiness

That springs from wealth, nor cherished prouder thoughts

Of vain ambition than the poorest man.15

Again he would say that if we want to master the sciences there is nothing so fatal as conceit, and again there is nothing we stand so much in need of as time. To the question “Who is a friend?” his answer was, “A second self (alter ego ).” We are told that he was once chastising a slave for stealing, and when the latter pleaded that it was his fate to steal, “Yes, and to be beaten too,” said Zeno. Beauty he called the flower of chastity, while according to others it was chastity which he called the flower of beauty.16 Once when he saw the slave of one of his acquaintance marked with weals, “I see,” said he, “the imprints of your anger.” To one who had been drenched with unguent, “Who is this,” quoth he, “who smells of woman?” When Dionysius the Renegade asked, “Why am I the only pupil you do not correct?” the reply was, “Because I mistrust you.” To a stripling who was talking nonsense his words were, “The reason why we have two ears and only one mouth is that we may listen the more and talk the less.” One day at a banquet he was reclining in silence and was asked the reason: whereupon he bade his critic carry word to the king that there was one present who knew how to hold his tongue. Now those who inquired of him were ambassadors from King Ptolemy, and they wanted to know what message they should take back from him to the king. On being asked how he felt about abuse, he replied, “As an envoy feels who is dismissed without an answer.” Apollonius of Tyre tells us how, when Crates laid hold on him by the cloak to drag him from Stilpo, Zeno said, “The right way to seize a philosopher, Crates, is by the ears: persuade me then and drag me off by them; but, if you use violence, my body will be with you, but my mind with Stilpo.”

According to Hippobotus he forgathered with Diodorus, with whom he worked hard at dialectic. And when he was already making progress, he would enter Polemo’s school: so far from all self-conceit was he. In consequence Polemo is said to have addressed him thus: “You slip in, Zeno, by the garden door – I’m quite aware of it – you filch my doctrines and give them a Phoenician make-up.” A dialectician once showed him seven logical forms concerned with the sophism known as “The Reaper,” and Zeno asked him how much he wanted for them. Being told a hundred drachmas, he promptly paid two hundred: to such lengths would he go in his love of learning. They say too that he first introduced the word Duty and wrote a treatise on the subject. It is said, moreover, that he corrected Hesiod’s lines thus:

He is best of all men who follows good advice: good too is he who finds out all things for himself.17

The reason he gave for this was that the man capable of giving a proper hearing to what is said and profiting by it was superior to him who discovers everything himself. For the one had merely a right apprehension, the other in obeying good counsel superadded conduct.

When he was asked why he, though so austere, relaxed at a drinking-party, he said, “Lupins too are bitter, but when they are soaked become sweet.” Hecato too in the second book of his Anecdotes says that he indulged freely at such gatherings. And he would say, “Better to trip with the feet than with the tongue.” “Well-being is attained by little and little, and nevertheless it is no little thing itself.” [Others attribute this18 to Socrates.]

He showed the utmost endurance, and the greatest frugality; the food he used required no fire to dress, and the cloak he wore was thin. Hence it was said of him:

The cold of winter and the ceaseless rain

Come powerless against him: weak the dart

Of the fierce summer sun or racking pain

To bend that iron frame. He stands apart

Unspoiled by public feast and jollity:

Patient, unwearied night and day doth he

Cling to his studies of philosophy.

Nay more: the comic poets by their very jests at his expense praised him without intending it. Thus Philemon says in a play, Philosophers:

This man adopts a new philosophy.

He teaches to go hungry: yet he gets

Disciples. One sole loaf of bread his food;

His best dessert dried figs; water his drink.

Others attribute these lines to Poseidippus.

By this time he had almost become a proverb. At all events, “More temperate than Zeno the philosopher” was a current saying about him. Poseidippus also writes in his Men Transported:

So that for ten whole days

More temperate than Zeno’s self he seemed.

And in very truth in this species of virtue and in dignity he surpassed all mankind, ay, and in happiness; for he was ninety-eight when he died and had enjoyed good health without an ailment to the last. Persaeus, however, in his ethical lectures makes him die at the age of seventy-two, having come to Athens at the age of twenty-two. But Apollonius says that he presided over the school for fifty-eight years. The manner of his death was as follows. As he was leaving the school he tripped and fell, breaking a toe. Striking the ground with his fist, he quoted the line from the Niobe:19

I come, I come, why dost thou call for me?

and died on the spot through holding his breath.

The Athenians buried him in the Ceramicus and honoured him in the decrees already cited above, adding their testimony of his goodness. Here is the epitaph composed for him by Antipater of Sidon:20

Here lies great Zeno, dear to Citium, who scaled high Olympus, though he piled not Pelion on Ossa, nor toiled at the labours of Heracles, but this was the path he found out to the stars – the way of temperance alone.

Here too is another by Zenodotus the Stoic, a pupil of Diogenes:21

Thou madest self-sufficiency thy rule,

Eschewing haughty wealth, O godlike Zeno,

With aspect grave and hoary brow serene.

A manly doctrine thine: and by thy prudence

With much toil thou didst found a great new school,

Chaste parent of unfearing liberty.

And if thy native country was Phoenicia,

What need to slight thee? came not Cadmus thence,

Who gave to Greece her books and art of writing?

And Athenaeus the epigrammatist speaks of all the Stoics in common as follows:22

O ye who’ve learnt the doctrines of the Porch

And have committed to your books divine

The best of human learning, teaching men

That the mind’s virtue is the only good!

She only it is who keeps the lives of men

And cities, – safer than high gates and walls.

But those who place their happiness in pleasure

Are led by the least worthy of the Muses.

We have ourselves mentioned the manner of Zeno’s death in the Pammetros (a collection of poems in various metres):

The story goes that Zeno of Citium after enduring many hardships by reason of old age was set free, some say by ceasing to take food; others say that once when he had tripped he beat with his hand upon the earth and cried, “I come of my own accord; why then call me?”23

For there are some who hold this to have been the manner of his death.

So much then concerning his death.

Demetrius the Magnesian, in his work on Men of the Same Name, says of him: his father, Mnaseas, being a merchant often went to Athens and brought away many books about Socrates for Zeno while still a boy. Hence he had been well trained even before he left his native place. And thus it came about that on his arrival at Athens he attached himself to Crates. And it seems, he adds, that, when the rest were at a loss how to express their views, Zeno framed a definition of the end. They say that he was in the habit of swearing by “capers” just as Socrates used to swear by “the dog.” Some there are, and among them Cassius the Sceptic and his disciples, who accuse Zeno at length. Their first count is that in the beginning of his Republic he pronounced the ordinary education useless: the next is that he applies to all men who are not virtuous the opprobrious epithets of foemen, cnemies, slaves, and aliens to one another, parents to children, brothers to brothers, friends to friends.

Again, in the Republic, making an invidious contrast, he declares the good alone to be true citizens or friends or kindred or free men; and accordingly in the view of the Stoics parents and children are enemies, not being wise. Again, it is objected, in the Republic he lays down community of wives, and at line 200 prohibits the building of temples, law-courts and gymnasia in cities; while as regards a currency he writes that we should not think it need be introduced either for purposes of exchange or for travelling abroad. Further, he bids men and women wear the same dress and keep no part of the body entirely covered. That the Republic is the work of Zeno is attested by Chrysippus in his De Republica. And he discussed amatory subjects in the beginning of that book of his which is entitled “The Art of Love.” Moreover, he writes much the same in his Interludes. So much for the criticisms to be found not only in Cassius but in Isidorus of Pergamum, the rhetorician. Isidorus likewise affirms that the passages disapproved by the school were expunged from his works by Athenodorus the Stoic, who was in charge of the Pergamene library; and that afterwards, when Athenodorus was detected and compromised, they were replaced. So much concerning the passages in his writings which are regarded as spurious.

There have been eight persons of the name of Zeno. First the Eleatic, of whom more hereafter; the second our present subject; the third a Rhodian who wrote a local history in one volume; the fourth a historian who wrote about the expedition of Pyrrhus into Italy and Sicily, and besides that an epitome of the political history of Rome and Carthage; the fifth a pupil of Chrysippus, who left few writings but many disciples; the sixth a physician of the school of Herophilus, a competent practitioner, though a poor writer; the seventh a grammarian, who besides other writings has left behind him epigrams; the eighth a Sidonian by birth and an Epicurean philosopher, lucid both in thinking and in style.

Of the many disciples of Zeno the following are the most famous: Persaeus, son of Demetrius, of Citium, whom some call a pupil and others one of the household, one of those sent him by Antigonus to act as secretary; he had been tutor to Antigonus’s son Halcyoneus. And Antigonus once, wishing to make trial of him, caused some false news to be brought to him that his estate had been ravaged by the enemy, and as his countenance fell, “Do you see,” said he, “that wealth is not a matter of indifference?”

The following works are by Persaeus:

Ariston, the son of Miltiades and a native of Chios, who introduced the doctrine of things morally indifferent; Herillus of Carthage, who affirmed knowledge to be the end; Dionysius, who became a renegade to the doctrine of pleasure, for owing to the severity of his ophthalmia he had no longer the nerve to call pain a thing indifferent: his native place was Heraclea; Sphaerus of Bosporus; Cleanthes, son of Phanias, of Assos, his successor in the school: him Zeno used to compare to hard waxen tablets which are difficult to write upon, but retain the characters written upon them. Sphaerus also became the pupil of Cleanthes after Zeno’s death, and we shall have occasion to mention him in the Life of Cleanthes. And furthermore the following according to Hippobotus were pupils of Zeno: Philonides of Thebes; Callippus of Corinth; Posidonius of Alexandria; Athenodorus of Soli; and Zeno of Sidon.24

I have decided to give a general account of all the Stoic doctrines in the life of Zeno because he was the founder of the School. I have already given a list of his numerous writings, in which he has spoken as has no other of the Stoics. And his tenets in general are as follows. In accordance with my usual practice a summary statement must suffice.25

Philosophic doctrine, say the Stoics, falls into three parts: one physical, another ethical, and the third logical. Zeno of Citium was the first to make this division in his Exposition of Doctrine, and Chrysippus too did so in the first book of his Exposition of Doctrine and the first book of his Physics; and so too Apollodorus and Syllus in the first part of their Introductions to Stoic Doctrine, as also Eudromus in his Elementary Treatise on Ethics, Diogenes the Babylonian, and Posidonius.

These parts are called by Apollodorus “Heads of Commonplace”; by Chrysippus and Eudromus specific divisions; by others generic divisions. Philosophy, they say, is like an animal, Logic corresponding to the bones and sinews, Ethics to the fleshy parts, Physics to the soul. Another simile they use is that of an egg: the shell is Logic, next comes the white, Ethics, and the yolk in the centre is Physics. Or, again, they liken Philosophy to a fertile field: Logic being the encircling fence, Ethics the crop, Physics the soil or the trees. Or, again, to a city strongly walled and governed by reason.

No single part, some Stoics declare, is independent of any other part, but all blend together. Nor was it usual to teach them separately. Others, however, start their course with Logic, go on to Physics, and finish with Ethics; and among those who so do are Zeno in his treatise On Exposition, Chrysippus, Archedemus and Eudromus.

Diogenes of Ptolemas, it is true, begins with Ethics; but Apollodorus puts Ethics second, while Panaetius and Posidonius begin with Physics, as stated by Phanias, the pupil of Posidonius, in the first book of his Lectures of Posidonius. Cleanthes makes not three, but six parts, Dialectic, Rhetoric, Ethics, Politics, Physics, Theology. But others say that these are divisions not of philosophic exposition, but of philosophy itself: so, for instance, Zeno of Tarsus. Some divide the logical part of the system into the two sciences of rhetoric and dialectic; while some would add that which deals with definitions and another part concerning canons or criteria: some, however, dispense with the part about definitions.

Now the part which deals with canons or criteria they admit as a means for the discovery of truth, since in the course of it they explain the different kinds of perceptions that we have. And similarly the part about definitions is accepted as a means of recognizing truth, inasmuch as things are apprehended by means of general notions. Further, by rhetoric they understand the science of speaking well on matters set forth by plain narrative, and by dialectic that of correctly discussing subjects by question and answer; hence their alternative definition of it as the science of statements true, false, and neither true nor false.

Rhetoric itself, they say, has three divisions: deliberative, forensic, and panegyric.

Rhetoric according to them may be divided into invention of arguments, their expression in words, their arrangement, and delivery; and a rhetorical speech into introduction, narrative, replies to opponents, and peroration.

Dialectic (they hold) falls under two heads: subjects of discourse and language. And the subjects fall under the following headings: presentations26 and the various products to which they give rise, propositions enunciated and their constituent subjects and predicates, and similar terms whether direct or reversed, genera and species, arguments too, moods, syllogisms and fallacies whether due to the subject matter or to the language; these including both false and true and negative arguments, sorites and the like, whether defective, insoluble, or conclusive, and the fallacies known as the Veiled, or Horned, No man, and The Mowers.

The second main head mentioned above as belonging to Dialectic is that of language, wherein are included written language and the parts of speech, with a discussion of errors in syntax and in single words, poetical diction, verbal ambiguities, euphony and music, and according to some writers chapters on terms, divisions, and style.

The study of syllogisms they declare to be of the greatest service, as showing us what is capable of yielding demonstration; and this contributes much to the formation of correct judgements, and their arrangement and retention in memory give a scientific character to our conception of things.

An argument is in itself a whole containing premisses and conclusion, and an inference (or syllogism) is an inferential argument composed of these. Demonstration is an argument inferring by means of what is better apprehended something less clearly apprehended.

A presentation (or mental impression) is an imprint on the soul: the name having been appropriately borrowed from the imprint made by the seal upon the wax. There are two species of presentation, the one apprehending a real object, the other not. The former, which they take to be the test of reality, is defined as that which proceeds from a real object, agrees with that object itself, and has been imprinted seal-fashion and stamped upon the mind: the latter, or non-apprehending, that which does not proceed from any real object, or, if it does, fails to agree with the reality itself, not being clear or distinct.

Dialectic, they said, is indispensable and is itself a virtue, embracing other particular virtues under it.27 Freedom from precipitancy is a knowledge when to give or withhold the mind’s assent to impressions. By wariness they mean a strong presumption against what at the moment seems probable, so as not to be taken in by it. Irrefutability is strength in argument so as not to be brought over by it to the opposite side. Earnestness (or absence of frivolity) is a habit of referring presentations to right reason. Knowledge itself they define either as unerring apprehension or as a habit or state which in reception of presentations cannot be shaken by argument. Without the study of dialectic, they say, the wise man cannot guard himself in argument so as never to fall; for it enables him to distinguish between truth and falsehood, and to discriminate what is merely plausible and what is ambiguously expressed, and without it he cannot methodically put questions and give answers.

Overhastiness in assertion affects the actual course of events, so that, unless we have our perceptions well trained, we are liable to fall into unseemly conduct and heedlessness; and in no other way will the wise man approve himself acute, nimblewitted, and generally skilful in argument; for it belongs to the same person to converse well and to argue well, to put questions to the purpose and to respond to the questions put; and all these qualifications are qualifications belonging to the skilled dialectician.

Such is, summarily stated, the substance of their logical teaching. And in order to give it also in detail,28 let me now cite as much of it as comes within the scope of their introductory handbook. I will quote verbatim what Diocles the Magnesian says in his Synopsis of Philosophers. These are his words:

“The Stoics agree to put in the forefront the doctrine of presentation and sensation, inasmuch as the standard by which the truth of things is tested is generically a presentation, and again the theory of assent and that of apprehension and thought, which precedes all the rest, cannot be stated apart from presentation. For presentation comes first; then thought, which is capable of expressing itself, puts into the form of a proposition that which the subject receives from a presentation.”

There is a difference between the process and the outcome of presentation. The latter is a semblance in the mind such as may occur in sleep, while the former is the act of imprinting something on the soul, that is a process of change, as is set forth by Chrysippus in the second book of his treatise Of the Soul (De anima). For, says he, we must not take “impression” in the literal sense of the stamp of a seal, because it is impossible to suppose that a number of such impressions should be in one and the same spot at one and the same time. The presentation meant is that which comes from a real object, agrees with that object, and has been stamped, imprinted and pressed seal-fashion on the soul, as would not be the case if it came from an unreal object.

According to them some presentations are data of sense and others are not: the former are the impressions conveyed through one or more sense-organs; while the latter, which are not data of sense, are those received through the mind itself, as is the case with incorporeal things and all the other presentations which are received by reason. Of sensuous impressions some are from real objects and are accompanied by yielding and assent on our part. But there are also presentations that are appearances and no more, purporting, as it were, to come from real objects.

Another division of presentations is into rational and irrational, the former being those of rational creatures, the latter those of the irrational. Those which are rational are processes of thought, while those which are irrational have no name. Again, some of our impressions are scientific, others unscientific: at all events a statue is viewed in a totally different way by the trained eye of a sculptor and by an ordinary man.

The Stoics apply the term sense or sensation (αἴσθησις) to three things: (1) the current passing from the principal part of the soul to the senses, (2) apprehension by means of the senses, (3) the apparatus of the sense-organs, in which some persons are deficient. Moreover, the activity of the sense-organs is itself also called sensation. According to them it is by sense that we apprehend black and white, rough and smooth, whereas it is by reason that we apprehend the conclusions of demonstration, for instance the existence of gods and their providence. General notions, indeed, are gained in the following ways: some by direct contact, some by resemblance, some by analogy, some by transposition, some by composition, and some by contrariety.

By incidence or direct contact have come our notions of sensible things; by resemblance notions whose origin is something before us, as the notion of Socrates which we get from his bust; while under notions derived from analogy come those which we get (1) by way of enlargement, like that of Tityos or the Cyclops, or (2) by way of diminution, like that of the Pygmy. And thus, too, the centre of the earth was originally conceived on the analogy of smaller spheres. Of notions obtained by transposition creatures with eyes on the chest would be an instance, while the centaur exemplifies those reached by composition, and death those due to contrariety. Furthermore, there are notions which imply a sort of transition to the realm of the imperceptible: such are those of space and of the meaning of terms. The notions of justice and goodness come by nature. Again, privation originates notions; for instance, that of the man without hands. Such are their tenets concerning presentation, sensation, and thought.

The standard of truth they declare to be the apprehending presentation, i.e. that which comes from a real object – according to Chrysippus in the twelfth book of his Physics and to Antipater and Apollodorus. Boethus, on the other hand, admits a plurality of standards, namely intelligence, sense-perception, appetency, and knowledge; while Chrysippus in the first book of his Exposition of Doctrine contradicts himself and declares that sensation and preconception are the only standards, preconception being a general notion which comes by the gift of nature (an innate conception of universals or general concepts). Again, certain others of the older Stoics make Right Reason the standard; so also does Posidonius in his treatise On the Standard.

In their theory of dialectic most of them see fit to take as their starting-point the topic of voice. Now voice is a percussion of the air or the proper object of the sense of hearing, as Diogenes the Babylonian says in his handbook On Voice. While the voice or cry of an animal is just a percussion of air brought about by natural impulse, man’s voice is articulate and, as Diogenes puts it, an utterance of reason, having the quality of coming to maturity at the age of fourteen. Furthermore, voice according to the Stoics is something corporeal: I may cite for this Archedemus in his treatise On Voice, Diogenes, Antipater and Chrysippus in the second book of his Physics . For whatever produces an effect is body; and voice, as it proceeds from those who utter it to those who hear it, does produce an effect. Reduced to writing, what was voice becomes a verbal expression, as “day”; so says Diogenes. A statement or proposition is speech that issues from the mind and signifies something, e.g. “It is day.” Dialect (διάλεκτος) means a variety of speech which is stamped on one part of the Greek world as distinct from another, or on the Greeks as distinct from other races; or, again, it means a form peculiar to some particular region, that is to say, it has a certain linguistic quality; e.g. in Attic the word for “sea” is not θάλασσα but θάλαττα, and in Ionic “day” is not ἡμέρα but ἡμέρη.

Elements of language are the four-and-twenty letters. “Letter,” however, has three meanings: (1) the particular sound or element of speech; (2) its written symbol or character; (3) its name, as Alpha is the name of the sound A. Seven of the letters are vowels, a, e, ē i, o, u, ō, and six are mutes, b, g, d, k, p, t. There is a difference between voice and speech; because, while voice may include mere noise, speech is always articulate. Speech again differs from a sentence or statement, because the latter always signifies something, whereas a spoken word, as for example βλίτυρι, may be unintelligible – which a sentence never is. And to frame a sentence is more than mere utterance, for while vocal sounds are uttered, things are meant, that is, are matters of discourse.

There are, as stated by Diogenes29 in his treatise on Language and by Chrysippus, five parts of speech: proper name, common noun, verb, conjunction, article. To these Antipater in his work On Words and their Meaning adds another part, the “mean.”30

A common noun or appellative is defined by Diogenes as part of a sentence signifying a common quality, e.g. man, horse; whereas a name is a part of speech expressing a quality peculiar to an individual, e.g. Diogenes, Socrates. A verb is, according to Diogenes, a part of speech signifying an isolated predicate, or, as others31 define it, an un-declined part of a sentence, signifying something that can be attached to one or more subjects, e.g. “I write,” “I speak.” A conjunction is an indeclinable part of speech, binding the various parts of a statement together; and an article is a declinable part of speech, distinguishing the genders and numbers of nouns, e.g. ὁ, ἡ, τό, οἱ, αἱ, τά.32

There are five excellences of speech – pure Greek, lucidity, conciseness, appropriateness, distinction. By good Greek is meant language faultless in point of grammar and free from careless vulgarity. Lucidity is a style which presents the thought in a way easily understood; conciseness a style that employs no more words than are necessary for setting forth the subject in hand; appropriateness lies in a style akin to the subject; distinction in the avoidance of colloquialism. Among vices of style barbarism is violation of the usage of Greeks of good standing; while there is solecism when the sentence has an incongruous construction.

Posidonius in his treatise On Style defines a poetical phrase as one that is metrical or rhythmical, thus mechanically avoiding the character of prose; an example of such rhythmical phrase is:

O mightiest earth, O sky, God’s canopy.33

And if such poetical phraseology is significant and includes a portrayal or representation of things human and divine, it is poetry.

A term is, as stated by Antipater in his first book On Terms, a word which, when a sentence is analysed, is uttered with complete meaning; or, according to Chrysippus in his book On Definitions, is a rendering back one’s own.34 Delineation is a statement which brings one to a knowledge of the subject in outline, or it may be called a definition which embodies the force of the definition proper in a simpler form. Genus (in logic) is the comprehension in one of a number of inseparable objects of thought: e.g. Animal; for this includes all particular animals.

A notion or object of thought is a presentation to the intellect, which though not really substance nor attribute is quasi-substance or quasi-attribute.35 Thus an image of a horse may rise before the mind, although there is no horse present.

Species is that which is comprehended under genus: thus Man is included under Animal. The highest or most universal genus is that which, being itself a genus, has no genus above: namely, reality or the real; and the lowest and most particular species is that which, being itself a species, has no species below it, e.g. Socrates.

Division of a genus means dissection of it into its proximate species, thus: Animals are either rational or irrational (dichotomy). Contrary division dissects the genus into species by contrary qualities: for example, by means of negation, as when all things that are are divided into good and not good. Subdivision is division applied to a previous division: for instance, after saying, “Of things that are some are good, some are not good,” we proceed, “and of the not good some are bad, some are neither good nor bad (morally indifferent).”

Partition in logic is (according to Crinis) classification or distribution of a genus under heads: for instance, Of goods some are mental, others bodily.

Verbal ambiguity arises when a word properly, rightfully, and in accordance with fixed usage denotes two or more different things, so that at one and the same time we may take it in several distinct senses: e.g. in Greek, where by the same verbal expression may be meant in the one case that “A house has three times” fallen, in the other that “a dancing-girl” has fallen.

Posidonius defines Dialectic as the science dealing with truth, falsehood, and that which is neither true nor false; whereas Chrysippus takes its subject to be signs and things signified. Such then is the gist of what the Stoics say in their theory of language.

To the department dealing with things as such and things signified is assigned the doctrine of expressions, including those which are complete in themselves, as well as judgements and syllogisms and that of defective expressions comprising predicates both direct and reversed.36

By verbal expression they mean that of which the content corresponds to some rational presentation. Of such expressions the Stoics say that some are complete in themselves and others defective. Those are defective the enunciation of which is unfinished, as e.g. “writes,” for we inquire “Who?” Whereas in those that are complete in themselves the enunciation is finished, as “Socrates writes.” And so under the head of defective expressions are ranged all predicates, while under those complete in themselves fall judgements, syllogisms, questions, and inquiries.

A predicate is, according to the followers of Apollodorus, what is said of something; in other words, a thing associated with one or more subjects; or, again, it may be defined as a defective expression which has to be joined on to a nominative case in order to yield a judgement. Of predicates some are adjectival 37, as e.g. “to sail through rocks.”38 Again, some predicates are direct, some reversed, some neither. Now direct predicates are those that are constructed with one of the oblique cases, as “hears,” “sees,” “converses”; while reversed are those constructed with the passive voice, as “I am heard,” “I am seen.” Neutral are such as correspond to neither of these, as “thinks,” “walks.” Reflexive predicates are those among the passive, which, although in form passive, are yet active operations,39 as “he gets his hair cut”:40 for here the agent includes himself in the sphere of his action. The oblique cases are genitive, dative, and accusative.

A judgement is that which is either true or false, or a thing complete in itself, capable of being denied in and by itself, as Chrysippus says in his Dialectical Definitions: “A judgement is that which in and by itself can be denied or affirmed, e.g. ‘It is day,’ ‘Dion is walking.’” The Greek word for judgement (ἀξίωμα) is derived from the verb ἀξιοῦν, as signifying acceptance or rejection; for when you say “It is day,” you seem to accept the fact that it is day. Now, if it really is day, the judgement before us is true, but if not, it is false. There is a difference between judgement, interrogation, and inquiry, as also between imperative, adjurative, optative, hypothetical, vocative, whether that to which these terms are applied be a thing or a judgement. For a judgement is that which, when we set it forth in speech, becomes an assertion, and is either false or true: an interrogation is a thing complete in itself like a judgement but demanding an answer, e.g. “Is it day?” and this is so far neither true nor false. Thus “It is day” is a judgement; “Is it day?” an interrogation. An inquiry is something to which we cannot reply by signs, as you can nod Yes to an interrogation; but you must express the answer in words, “He lives in this or that place.”

An imperative is something which conveys a command: e.g.

Go thou to the waters of Inachus.41

An adjurative utterance is something. .. A vocative utterance is something the use of which implies that you are addressing some one; for instance:

Most glorious son of Atreus, Agamemnon, lord of men.42

A quasi-proposition is that which, having the enunciation of a judgement, yet in consequence of the intensified tone or emotion of one of its parts falls outside the class of judgements proper, e.g.

Yea, fair indeed the Parthenon!

How like to Priam’s sons the cowherd is!43

There is also, differing from a proposition or judgement, what may be called a timid suggestion, the expression of which leaves one at a loss, e.g.

Can it be that pain and life are in some sort akin?

Interrogations, inquiries and the like are neither true nor false, whereas judgements (or propositions) are always either true or false.

The followers of Chrysippus, Archedemus, Athenodorus, Antipater and Crinis divide propositions into simple and not simple. Simple are those that consist of one or more propositions which are not ambiguous, as “It is day.” Not simple are those that consist of one or more ambiguous propositions. They may, that is, consist either of a single ambiguous proposition, e.g. “If it is day, it is day,” or of more than one proposition, e.g. “If it is day, it is light.”

With simple propositions are classed those of negation, denial, privation, affirmation, the definitive and the indefinitive; with those that are not simple the hypothetical, the inferential, the coupled or complex, the disjunctive, the causal, and that which indicates more or less. An example of a negative proposition is “It is not day.” Of the negative proposition one species is the double negative. By double negative is meant the negation of a negation, e.g. “It is not not-day.” Now this presupposes that it is day.

A denial contains a negative part or particle and a predication: such as this, “No one is walking.” A privative proposition is one that contains a privative particle reversing the effect of a judgement, as, for example, “This man is unkind.” An affirmative or assertory proposition is one that consists of a noun in the nominative case and a predicate, as “Dion is walking.” A definitive proposition is one that consists of a demonstrative in the nominative case and a predicate, as “This man is walking.” An indefinitive proposition is one that consists of an indefinite word or words and a predicate, e.g. “Some one is walking,” or “There’s some one walking”; “He is in motion.”

Of propositions that are not simple the hypothetical, according to Chrysippus in his Dialectics and Diogenes in his Art of Dialectic, is one that is formed by means of the conditional conjunction “If.” Now this conjunction promises that the second of two things follows consequentially upon the first, as, for instance, “If it is day, it is light.” An inferential proposition according to Crinis in his Art of Dialectic is one which is introduced by the conjunction “Since” and consists of an initial proposition and a conclusion; for example, “Since it is day-time, it is light.” This conjunction guarantees both that the second thing follows from the first and that the first is really a fact. A coupled proposition is one which is put together by certain coupling conjunctions, e.g. “It is day-time and it is light.” A disjunctive proposition is one which is constituted such by the disjunctive conjunction “Either,” as e.g. “Either it is day or it is night.” This conjunction guarantees that one or other of the alternatives is false. A causal proposition is constructed by means of the conjunction “Because,” e.g. “Because it is day, it is light.” For the first clause is, as it were, the cause of the second. A proposition which indicates more or less is one that is formed by the word signifying “rather” and the word “than” in between the clauses, as, for example, “It is rather day-time than night.” Opposite in character to the foregoing is a proposition which declares what is less the fact, as e.g. “It is less or not so much night as day.” Further, among propositions there are some which in respect of truth and falsehood stand opposed to one another, of which the one is the negative of the other, as e.g. the propositions “It is day” and “It is not day.” A hypothetical proposition is therefore true, if the contradictory of its conclusion is incompatible with its premiss, e.g. “If it is day, it is light.” This is true. For the statement “It is not light,” contradicting the conclusion, is incompatible with the premiss “It is day.” On the other hand, a hypothetical proposition is false, if the contradictory of its conclusion does not conflict with the premiss, e.g. “If it is day, Dion is walking.” For the statement “Dion is not walking” does not conflict with the premiss “It is day.”

An inferential proposition is true if starting from a true premiss it also has a consequent conclusion, as e.g. “Since it is day, the sun is above the horizon.” But it is false if it starts from a false premiss or has an inconsequent conclusion, as e.g. “Since it is night, Dion is walking,” if this be said in day-time. A causal proposition is true if its conclusion really follows from a premiss itself true, though the premiss does not follow conversely from the conclusion, as e.g. “Because it is day, it is light,” where from the “it is day” the “it is light” duly follows, though from the statement “it is light” it would not follow that “it is day.” But a causal proposition is false if it either starts from a false premiss or has an inconsequent conclusion or has a premiss that does not correspond with the conclusion, as e.g. “Because it is night, Dion is walking.” A probable judgement is one which induces to assent, e.g. “Whoever gave birth to anything, is that thing’s mother.” This, however, is not necessarily true; for the hen is not mother of an egg.

Again, some things are possible, others impossible; and some things are necessary, others are not necessary. A proposition is possible which admits of being true, there being nothing in external circumstances to prevent it being true, e.g. “Diocles is alive.” Impossible is one which does not admit of being true, as e.g. “The earth flies.” That is necessary which besides being true does not admit of being false or, while it may admit of being false, is prevented from being false by circumstances external to itself, as “Virtue is beneficial.” Not necessary is that which, while true, yet is capable of being false if there are no external conditions to prevent, e.g. “Dion is walking.” A reasonable proposition is one which has to start with more chances of being true than not, e.g. “I shall be alive to-morrow.”

And there are other shades of difference in propositions and grades of transition from true to false – and conversions of their terms – which we now go on to describe broadly.

An argument, according to the followers of Crinis, consists of a major premiss, a minor premiss, and a conclusion, such as for example this: “If it is day, it is light; but it is day, therefore it is light.” Here the sentence “If it is day, it is light” is the major premiss, the clause “it is day” is the minor premiss, and “therefore it is light” is the conclusion. A mood is a sort of outline of an argument, like the following: “If the first, then the second; but the first is, therefore the second is.”

Symbolical argument is a combination of full argument and mood; e.g. “If Plato is alive, he breathes; but the first is true, therefore the second is true.” This mode of argument was introduced in order that when dealing with long complex arguments we should not have to repeat the minor premiss, if it be long, and then state the conclusion, but may arrive at the conclusion as concisely as possible: if A, then B.

Of arguments some are conclusive, others inconclusive. Inconclusive are such that the contradictory of the conclusion is not incompatible with combination of the premisses, as in the following: “If it is day, it is light; but it is day, therefore Dion walks.”44

Of conclusive some are denoted by the common name of the whole class, “conclusive proper,” others are called syllogistic. The syllogistic are such as either do not admit of, or are reducible to such as do not admit of, immediate proof in respect of one or more of the premisses; e.g. “If Dion walks, then Dion is in motion; but Dion is walking, therefore Dion is in motion.” Conclusive specifically are those which draw conclusions, but not by syllogism; e.g. the statement “It is both day and night” is false: “now it is day; therefore it is not night.” Arguments not syllogistic are those which plausibly resemble syllogistic arguments, but are not cogent proof; e.g. “If Dion is a horse, he is an animal; but Dion is not a horse, therefore he is not an animal.”

Further, arguments may be divided into true and false. The former draw their conclusions by means of true premisses; e.g. “If virtue does good, vice does harm; but virtue does good, therefore vice does harm.”45 Those are false which have error in the premisses or are inconclusive; e.g. “If it is day, it is light; but it is day, therefore Dion is alive.” Arguments may also be divided into possible and impossible, necessary and not necessary. Further, there are statements which are indemonstrable because they do not need demonstration; they are employed in the construction of every argument. As to the number of these, authorities differ; Chrysippus makes them five. These are assumed alike in reasoning specifically conclusive and in syllogisms both categorical and hypothetical. The first kind of indemonstrable statement is that in which the whole argument is constructed of a hypothetical proposition and the clause with which the hypothetical proposition begins, while the final clause is the conclusion; as e.g. “If the first, then the second; but the first is, therefore the second is.”46 The second is that which employs a hypothetical proposition and the contradictory of the consequent, while the conclusion is the contradictory of the antecedent; e.g. “If it is day, it is light; but it is night, therefore it is not day.” Here the minor premiss is the contradictory of the consequent; the conclusion the contradictory of the antecedent. The third kind of indemonstrable employs a conjunction of negative propositions for major premiss and one of the conjoined propositions for minor premiss, concluding thence the contradictory of the remaining proposition; e.g. “It is not the case that Plato is both dead and alive; but he is dead, therefore Plato is not alive.” The fourth kind employs a disjunctive proposition and one of the two alternatives in the disjunction as premisses, and its conclusion is the contradictory of the other alternative; e.g. “Either A or B; but A is, therefore B is not.” The fifth kind is that in which the argument as a whole is constructed of a disjunctive proposition and the contradictory of one of the alternatives in the disjunction, its conclusion being the other alternative; e.g. “Either it is day or it is night; but it is not night, therefore it is day.”

From a truth a truth follows, according to the Stoics, as e.g. “It is light” from “It is day”; and from a falsehood a falsehood, as “It is dark” from “It is night,” if this latter be untrue. Also a truth may follow from a falsehood; e.g. from “The earth flies” will follow “The earth exists”; whereas from a truth no falsehood will follow, for from the existence of the earth it does not follow that the earth flies aloft.

There are also certain insoluble arguments:47 the Veiled Men, the Concealed, Sorites, Horned Folk, the Nobodies. The Veiled is as follows:48.  . . “It cannot be that if two is few, three is not so likewise, nor that if two or three are few, four is not so; and so on up to ten. But two is few, therefore so also is ten.”.  . . The Nobody argument is an argument whose major premiss consists of an indefinite and a definite clause, followed by a minor premiss and conclusion; for example, “If anyone is here, he is not in Rhodes; but there is some one here, therefore there is not anyone in Rhodes.”.  . .

Such, then, is the logic of the Stoics, by which they seek to establish their point that the wise man is the true dialectician. For all things, they say, are discerned by means of logical study, including whatever falls within the province of Physics, and again whatever belongs to that of Ethics. For else, say they, as regards statement and reasoning Physics and Ethics could not tell how to express themselves, or again concerning the proper use of terms, how the laws have defined various actions.49 Moreover, of the two kinds of common-sense inquiry included under Virtue one considers the nature of each particular thing, the other asks what it is called. Thus much for their logic.

The ethical branch of philosophy they divide as follows: (1) the topic of impulse; (2) the topic of things good and evil; (3) that of the passions; (4) that of virtue; (5) that of the end; (6) that of primary value and of actions; (7) that of duties or the befitting; and (8) of inducements to act or refrain from acting. The foregoing is the subdivision adopted by Chrysippus, Archedemus, Zeno of Tarsus, Apollodorus, Diogenes, Antipater, and Posidonius, and their disciples. Zeno of Citium and Cleanthes treated the subject somewhat less elaborately, as might be expected in an older generation. They, however, did subdivide Logic and Physics as well as Ethics.

An animal’s first impulse, say the Stoics, is to self-preservation, because nature from the outset endears it to itself, as Chrysippus affirms in the first book of his work On Ends: his words are, “The dearest thing to every animal is its own constitution and its consciousness thereof”; for it was not likely that nature should estrange the living thing from itself or that she should leave the creature she has made without either estrangement from or affection for its own constitution. We are forced then to conclude that nature in constituting the animal made it near and dear to itself; for so it comes to repel all that is injurious and give free access to all that is serviceable or akin to it.

As for the assertion made by some people that pleasure is the object to which the first impulse of animals is directed, it is shown by the Stoics to be false. For pleasure, if it is really felt, they declare to be a by-product, which never comes until nature by itself has sought and found the means suitable to the animal’s existence or constitution; it is an aftermath comparable to the condition of animals thriving and plants in full bloom. And nature, they say, made no difference originally between plants and animals, for she regulates the life of plants too, in their case without impulse and sensation, just as also certain processes go on of a vegetative kind in us. But when in the case of animals impulse has been superadded, whereby they are enabled to go in quest of their proper aliment, for them, say the Stoics, Nature’s rule is to follow the direction of impulse. But when reason by way of a more perfect leadership has been bestowed on the beings we call rational, for them life according to reason rightly becomes the natural life. For reason supervenes to shape impulse scientifically.

This is why Zeno was the first (in his treatise On the Nature of Man ) to designate as the end “life in agreement with nature” (or living agreeably to nature), which is the same as a virtuous life, virtue being the goal towards which nature guides us. So too Cleanthes in his treatise On Pleasure, as also Posidonius, and Hecato in his work On Ends. Again, living virtuously is equivalent to living in accordance with experience of the actual course of nature, as Chrysippus says in the first book of his De finibus; for our individual natures are parts of the nature of the whole universe. And this is why the end may be defined as life in accordance with nature, or, in other words, in accordance with our own human nature as well as that of the universe, a life in which we refrain from every action forbidden by the law common to all things, that is to say, the right reason which pervades all things, and is identical with this Zeus, lord and ruler of all that is. And this very thing constitutes the virtue of the happy man and the smooth current of life, when all actions promote the harmony of the spirit dwelling in the individual man with the will of him who orders the universe. Diogenes then expressly declares the end to be to act with good reason in the selection of what is natural. Archedemus says the end is to live in the performance of all befitting actions.

By the nature with which our life ought to be in accord, Chrysippus understands both universal nature and more particularly the nature of man, whereas Cleanthes takes the nature of the universe alone as that which should be followed, without adding the nature of the individual.

And virtue, he holds, is a harmonious disposition, choice-worthy for its own sake and not from hope or fear or any external motive. Moreover, it is in virtue that happiness consists; for virtue is the state of mind which tends to make the whole of life harmonious. When a rational being is perverted, this is due to the deceptiveness of external pursuits or sometimes to the influence of associates. For the starting-points of nature are never perverse.

Virtue, in the first place, is in one sense the perfection of anything in general, say of a statue; again, it may be non-intellectual, like health, or intellectual, like prudence. For Hecato says in his first book On the Virtues that some are scientific and based upon theory, namely, those which have a structure of theoretical principles, such as prudence and justice; others are non-intellectual, those that are regarded as co-extensive and parallel with the former, like health and strength. For health is found to attend upon and be co-extensive with the intellectual virtue of temperance, just as strength is a result of the building of an arch. These are called non-intellectual, because they do not require the mind’s assent; they supervene and they occur even in bad men: for instance, health, courage. The proof, says Posidonius in the first book of his treatise on Ethics, that virtue really exists is the fact that Socrates, Diogenes, and Antisthenes and their followers made moral progress. And for the existence of vice as a fundamental fact the proof is that it is the opposite of virtue. That it, virtue, can be taught is laid down by Chrysippus in the first book of his work On the End, by Cleanthes, by Posidonius in his Protreptica, and by Hecato; that it can be taught is clear from the case of bad men becoming good.

Panaetius, however, divides virtue into two kinds, theoretical and practical; others make a threefold division of it into logical, physical, and ethical; while by the school of Posidonius four types are recognized, and more than four by Cleanthes, Chrysippus, Antipater, and their followers. Apollophanes50 for his part counts but one, namely, practical wisdom.

Amongst the virtues some are primary, some are subordinate to these. The following are the primary: wisdom, courage, justice, temperance. Particular virtues are magnanimity, continence, endurance, presence of mind, good counsel. And wisdom they define as the knowledge of things good and evil and of what is neither good nor evil; courage51 as knowledge of what we ought to choose, what we ought to beware of, and what is indifferent; justice.  . .; magnanimity as the knowledge or habit of mind which makes one superior to anything that happens, whether good or evil equally; continence as a disposition never overcome in that which concerns right reason, or a habit which no pleasures can get the better of; endurance as a knowledge or habit which suggests what we are to hold fast to, what not, and what is indifferent; presence of mind as a habit prompt to find out what is meet to be done at any moment; good counsel as knowledge by which we see what to do and how to do it if we would consult our own interests.

Similarly, of vices some are primary, others subordinate: e.g. folly, cowardice, injustice, profligacy are accounted primary; but incontinence, stupidity, ill-advisedness subordinate. Further, they hold that the vices are forms of ignorance of those things whereof the corresponding virtues are the knowledge.

Good in general is that from which some advantage comes, and more particularly what is either identical with or not distinct from benefit. Whence it follows that virtue itself and whatever partakes of virtue is called good in these three senses – viz. as being (1) the source from which benefit results; or (2) that in respect of which benefit results, e.g. the virtuous act; or (3) that by the agency of which benefit results, e.g. the good man who partakes in virtue.

Another particular definition of good which they give is “the natural perfection of a rational being qua rational.” To this answers virtue and, as being partakers in virtue, virtuous acts and good men; as also its supervening accessories, joy and gladness and the like. So with evils: either they are vices, folly, cowardice, injustice, and the like; or things which partake of vice, including vicious acts and wicked persons as well as their accompaniments, despair, moroseness, and the like.

Again, some goods are goods of the mind and others external, while some are neither mental nor external. The former include the virtues and virtuous acts; external goods are such as having a good country or a good friend, and the prosperity of such. Whereas to be good and happy oneself is of the class of goods neither mental nor external. Similarly of things evil some are mental evils, namely, vices and vicious actions; others are outward evils, as to have a foolish country or a foolish friend and the unhappiness of such; other evils again are neither mental nor outward, e.g. to be yourself bad and unhappy.

Again, goods are either of the nature of ends or they are the means to these ends, or they are at the same time end and means. A friend and the advantages derived from him are means to good, whereas confidence, high-spirit, liberty, delight, gladness, freedom from pain, and every virtuous act are of the nature of ends.

The virtues (they say) are goods of the nature at once of ends and of means. On the one hand, in so far as they cause happiness they are means, and on the other hand, in so far as they make it complete, and so are themselves part of it, they are ends. Similarly of evils some are of the nature of ends and some of means, while others are at once both means and ends. Your enemy and the harm he does you are means; consternation, abasement, slavery, gloom, despair, excess of grief, and every vicious action are of the nature of ends. Vices are evils both as ends and as means, since in so far as they cause misery they are means, but in so far as they make it complete, so that they become part of it, they are ends.

Of mental goods some are habits, others are dispositions, while others again are neither the one nor the other. The virtues are dispositions, while accomplishments or avocations are matters of habit, and activities as such or exercise of faculty neither the one nor the other. And in general there are some mixed goods: e.g. to be happy in one’s children or in one’s old age. But knowledge is a pure good. Again, some goods are permanent like the virtues, others transitory like joy and walking-exercise.

All good (they say) is expedient, binding, profitable, useful, serviceable, beautiful, beneficial, desirable, and just or right. It is expedient, because it brings about things of such a kind that by their occurrence we are benefited. It is binding, because it causes unity where unity is needed; profitable, because it defrays what is expended on it, so that the return yields a balance of benefit on the transaction. It is useful, because it secures the use of benefit; it is serviceable, because the utility it affords is worthy of all praise. It is beautiful, because the good is proportionate to the use made of it; beneficial, because by its inherent nature it benefits; choiceworthy, because it is such that to choose it is reasonable. It is also just or right, inasmuch as it is in harmony with law and tends to draw men together.

The reason why they characterize the perfect good as beautiful is that it has in full all the “factors” required by nature or has perfect proportion. Of the beautiful there are (say they) four species, namely, what is just, courageous, orderly and wise; for it is under these forms that fair deeds are accomplished. Similarly there are four species of the base or ugly, namely, what is unjust, cowardly, disorderly, and unwise. By the beautiful is meant properly and in an unique sense that good which renders its possessors praiseworthy, or briefly, good which is worthy of praise; though in another sense it signifies a good aptitude for one’s proper function; while in yet another sense the beautiful is that which lends new grace to anything, as when we say of the wise man that he alone is good and beautiful.

And they say that only the morally beautiful is good. So Hecato in his treatise On Goods, book iii., and Chrysippus in his work On the Morally Beautiful. They hold, that is, that virtue and whatever partakes of virtue consists in this: which is equivalent to saying that all that is good is beautiful, or that the term “good” has equal force with the term “beautiful,” which comes to the same thing. “Since a thing is good, it is beautiful; now it is beautiful, therefore it is good.” They hold that all goods are equal and that all good is desirable in the highest degree and admits of no lowering or heightening of intensity. Of things that are, some, they say, are good, some are evil, and some neither good nor evil (that is, morally indifferent).

Goods comprise the virtues of prudence, justice, courage, temperance, and the rest; while the opposites of these are evils, namely, folly, injustice, and the rest. Neutral (neither good nor evil, that is) are all those things which neither benefit nor harm a man: such as life, health, pleasure, beauty, strength, wealth, fair fame and noble birth, and their opposites, death, disease, pain, ugliness, weakness, poverty, ignominy, low birth, and the like. This Hecato affirms in his De fine, book vii., and also Apollodorus in his Ethics, and Chrysippus. For, say they, such things (as life, health, and pleasure) are not in themselves goods, but are morally indifferent, though falling under the species or subdivision “things preferred.” For as the property of hot is to warm, not to cool, so the property of good is to benefit, not to injure; but wealth and health do no more benefit than injury, therefore neither wealth nor health is good. Further, they say that that is not good of which both good and bad use can be made; but of wealth and health both good and bad use can be made; therefore wealth and health are not goods. On the other hand, Posidonius maintains that these things too are among goods. Hecato in the ninth book of his treatise On Goods, and Chrysippus in his work On Pleasure, deny that pleasure is a good either; for some pleasures are disgraceful, and nothing disgraceful is good. To benefit is to set in motion or sustain in accordance with virtue; whereas to harm is to set in motion or sustain in accordance with vice.

The term “indifferent” has two meanings: in the first it denotes the things which do not contribute either to happiness or to misery, as wealth, fame, health, strength, and the like; for it is possible to be happy without having these, although, if they are used in a certain way, such use of them tends to happiness or misery. In quite another sense those things are said to be indifferent which are without the power of stirring inclination or aversion; e.g. the fact that the number of hairs on one’s head is odd or even or whether you hold out your finger straight or bent. But it was not in this sense that the things mentioned above were termed indifferent, they being quite capable of exciting inclination or aversion. Hence of these latter some are taken by preference, others are rejected, whereas indifference in the other sense affords no ground for either choosing or avoiding.

Of things indifferent, as they express it, some are “preferred,” others “rejected.” Such as have value, they say, are “preferred,” while such as have negative, instead of positive, value are “rejected.” Value they define as, first, any contribution to harmonious living, such as attaches to every good; secondly, some faculty or use which indirectly52 contributes to the life according to nature: which is as much as to say “any assistance brought by wealth or health towards living a natural life”; thirdly, value is the full equivalent of an appraiser, as fixed by an expert acquainted with the facts – as when it is said that wheat exchanges for so much barley with a mule thrown in.53

Thus things of the preferred class are those which have positive value, e.g. amongst mental qualities, natural ability, skill, moral improvement, and the like; among bodily qualities, life, health, strength, good condition, soundness of organs, beauty, and so forth; and in the sphere of external things, wealth, fame, noble birth, and the like. To the class of things “rejected” belong, of mental qualities, lack of ability, want of skill, and the like; among bodily qualities, death, disease, weakness, being out of condition, mutilation, ugliness, and the like; in the sphere of external things, poverty, ignominy, low birth, and so forth. But again there are things belonging to neither class; such are not preferred, neither are they rejected.

Again, of things preferred some are preferred for their own sake, some for the sake of something else, and others again both for their own sake and for the sake of something else. To the first of these classes belong natural ability, moral improvement, and the like; to the second wealth, noble birth, and the like; to the last strength, perfect faculties, soundness of bodily organs. Things are preferred for their own sake because they accord with nature; not for their own sake, but for the sake of something else, because they secure not a few utilities. And similarly with the class of things rejected under the contrary heads.

Furthermore, the term Duty is applied to that for which, when done,54 a reasonable defence can be adduced, e.g. harmony in the tenor of life’s process, which indeed pervades the growth of plants and animals. For even in plants and animals, they hold, you may discern fitness of behaviour.

Zeno was the first to use this term καθῆκον of conduct. Etymologically it is derived from κατά τινας ἥκειν, i.e. reaching as far as, being up to, or incumbent on so and so.55 And it is an action in itself adapted to nature’s arrangements. For of the acts done at the prompting of impulse some, they observe, are fit and meet, others the reverse, while there is a third class which is neither the one nor the other.

Befitting acts are all those which reason prevails with us to do; and this is the case with honouring one’s parents, brothers and country, and intercourse with friends. Unbefitting, or contrary to duty, are all acts that reason deprecates, e.g. to neglect one’s parents, to be indifferent to one’s brothers, not to agree with friends, to disregard the interests of one’s country, and so forth. Acts which fall under neither of the foregoing classes are those which reason neither urges us to do nor forbids, such as picking up a twig, holding a style or a scraper, and the like.

Again, some duties are incumbent unconditionally, others in certain circumstances. Unconditional duties are the following: to take proper care of health and one’s organs of sense, and things of that sort. Duties imposed by circumstances are such as maiming oneself and sacrifice of property. And so likewise with acts which are violations of duty. Another division is into duties which are always incumbent and those which are not. To live in accordance with virtue is always a duty, whereas dialectic by question and answer or walking-exercise and the like are not at all times incumbent. The same may be said of the violations of duty. And in things intermediate also there are duties; as that boys should obey the attendants who have charge of them.

According to the Stoics there is an eight-fold division of the soul: the five senses, the faculty of speech, the intellectual faculty, which is the mind itself, and the generative faculty, being all parts of the soul. Now from falsehood there results perversion, which extends to the mind; and from this perversion arise many passions or emotions, which are causes of instability. Passion, or emotion, is defined by Zeno as an irrational and unnatural movement in the soul, or again as impulse in excess.

The main, or most universal, emotions, according to Hecato in his treatise On the Passions, book ii., and Zeno in his treatise with the same title, constitute four great classes, grief, fear, desire or craving, pleasure. They hold the emotions to be judgements, as is stated by Chrysippus in his treatise On the Passions: avarice being a supposition that money is a good, while the case is similar with drunkenness and profligacy and all the other emotions.

And grief or pain they hold to be an irrational mental contraction. Its species are pity, envy, jealousy, rivalry, heaviness, annoyance, distress, anguish, distraction. Pity is grief felt at undeserved suffering; envy, grief at others’ prosperity; jealousy, grief at the possession by another of that which one desires for oneself; rivalry, pain at the possession by another of what one has oneself. Heaviness or vexation is grief which weighs us down, annoyance that which coops us up and straitens us for want of room, distress a pain brought on by anxious thought that lasts and increases, anguish painful grief, distraction irrational grief, rasping and hindering us from viewing the situation as a whole.

Fear is an expectation of evil. Under fear are ranged the following emotions: terror, nervous shrinking, shame, consternation, panic, mental agony. Terror is a fear which produces fright; shame is fear of disgrace; nervous shrinking is a fear that one will have to act; consternation is fear due to a presentation of some unusual occurrence; panic is fear with pressure exercised by sound; mental agony is fear felt when some issue is still in suspense.

Desire or craving is irrational appetency, and under it are ranged the following states: want, hatred, contentiousness, anger, love, wrath, resentment. Want, then, is a craving when it is baulked and, as it were, cut off from its object, but kept at full stretch and attracted towards it in vain. Hatred is a growing and lasting desire or craving that it should go ill with somebody. Contentiousness is a craving or desire connected with partisanship; anger a craving or desire to punish one who is thought to have done you an undeserved injury. The passion of love is a craving from which good men are free; for it is an effort to win affection due to the visible presence of beauty. Wrath is anger which has long rankled and has become malicious, waiting for its opportunity, as is illustrated by the lines:56

Even though for the one day he swallow his anger, yet doth he still keep his displeasure thereafter in his heart, till he accomplish it.

Resentment is anger in an early stage.

Pleasure is an irrational elation at the accruing of what seems to be choiceworthy; and under it are ranged ravishment, malevolent joy, delight, transport. Ravishment is pleasure which charms the ear. Malevolent joy is pleasure at another’s ills. Delight is the mind’s propulsion to weakness, its name in Greek (τέρψις) being akin to τρέψις or turning. To be in transports of delight is the melting away of virtue.

And as there are said to be certain infirmities in the body, as for instance gout and arthritic disorders, so too there is in the soul love of fame, love of pleasure, and the like. By infirmity is meant disease accompanied by weakness; and by disease is meant a fond imagining of something that seems desirable. And as in the body there are tendencies to certain maladies such as colds and diarrhoea, so it is with the soul, there are tendencies like enviousness, pitifulness, quarrelsomeness, and the like.

Also they say that there are three emotional states which are good, namely, joy, caution, and wishing. Joy, the counterpart of pleasure, is rational elation; caution, the counterpart of fear, rational avoidance; for though the wise man will never feel fear, he will yet use caution. And they make wishing the counterpart of desire (or craving), inasmuch as it is rational appetency. And accordingly, as under the primary passions are classed certain others subordinate to them, so too is it with the primary eupathies or good emotional states. Thus under wishing they bring well-wishing or benevolence, friendliness, respect, affection; under caution, reverence and modesty; under joy, delight, mirth, cheerfulness.

Now they say that the wise man is passionless, because he is not prone to fall into such infirmity. But they add that in another sense the term apathy is applied to the bad man, when, that is, it means that he is callous and relentless. Further, the wise man is said to be free from vanity; for he is indifferent to good or evil report. However, he is not alone in this, there being another who is also free from vanity, he who is ranged among the rash, and that is the bad man. Again, they tell us that all good men are austere or harsh, because they neither have dealings with pleasure themselves nor tolerate those who have. The term harsh is applied, however, to others as well, and in much the same sense as a wine is said to be harsh when it is employed medicinally and not for drinking at all.

Again, the good are genuinely in earnest and vigilant for their own improvement, using a manner of life which banishes evil out of sight and makes what good there is in things appear. At the same time they are free from pretence; for they have stripped off all pretence or “make-up” whether in voice or in look. Free too are they from all business cares, declining to do anything which conflicts with duty. They will take wine, but not get drunk. Nay more, they will not be liable to madness either; not but what there will at times occur to the good man strange impressions due to melancholy or delirium, ideas not determined by the principle of what is choiceworthy but contrary to nature. Nor indeed will the wise man ever feel grief; seeing that grief is irrational contraction of the soul, as Apollodorus says in his Ethics.

They are also, it is declared, godlike; for they have a something divine within them; whereas the bad man is godless. And yet of this word – godless or ungodly – there are two senses, one in which it is the opposite of the term “godly,” the other denoting the man who ignores the divine altogether: in this latter sense, as they note, the term does not apply to every bad man. The good, it is added, are also worshippers of God; for they have acquaintance with the rites of the gods, and piety is the knowledge of how to serve the gods. Further, they will sacrifice to the gods and they keep themselves pure; for they avoid all acts that are offences against the gods, and the gods think highly of them: for they are holy and just in what concerns the gods. The wise too are the only priests; for they have made sacrifices their study, as also the building of temples, purifications, and all the other matters appertaining to the gods.

The Stoics approve also of honouring parents and brothers in the second place next after the gods. They further maintain that parental affection for children is natural to the good, but not to the bad. It is one of their tenets that sins are all equal: so Chrysippus in the fourth book of his Ethical Questions, as well as Persaeus and Zeno. For if one truth is not more true than another, neither is one falsehood more false than another, and in the same way one deceit is not more so than another, nor sin than sin. For he who is a hundred furlongs from Canopus and he who is only one furlong away are equally not in Canopus, and so too he who commits the greater sin and he who commits the less are equally not in the path of right conduct. But Heraclides of Tarsus, who was the disciple of Antipater of Tarsus, and Athenodorus both assert that sins are not equal.

Again, the Stoics say that the wise man will take part in politics, if nothing hinders him – so, for instance, Chrysippus in the first book of his work On Various Types of Life – since thus he will restrain vice and promote virtue. Also (they maintain) he will marry, as Zeno says in his Republic, and beget children. Moreover, they say that the wise man will never form mere opinions, that is to say, he will never give assent to anything that is false; that he will also play the Cynic, Cynicism being a short cut to virtue, as Apollodorus calls it in his Ethics; that he will even turn cannibal under stress of circumstances. They declare that he alone is free and bad men are slaves, freedom being power of independent action, whereas slavery is privation of the same; though indeed there is also a second form of slavery consisting in subordination, and a third which implies possession of the slave as well as his subordination; the correlative of such servitude being lordship; and this too is evil. Moreover, according to them not only are the wise free, they are also kings; kingship being irresponsible rule, which none but the wise can maintain: so Chrysippus in his treatise vindicating Zeno’s use of terminology. For he holds that knowledge of good and evil is a necessary attribute of the ruler, and that no bad man is acquainted with this science. Similarly the wise and good alone are fit to be magistrates, judges, or orators, whereas among the bad there is not one so qualified. Furthermore, the wise are infallible, not being liable to error. They are also without offence; for they do no hurt to others or to themselves. At the same time they are not pitiful and make no allowance for anyone; they never relax the penalties fixed by the laws, since indulgence and pity and even equitable consideration are marks of a weak mind, which affects kindness in place of chastizing. Nor do they deem punishments too severe. Again, they say that the wise man never wonders at any of the things which appear extraordinary, such as Charon’s mephitic caverns,57 ebbings of the tide, hot springs or fiery eruptions. Nor yet, they go on to say, will the wise man live in solitude; for he is naturally made for society and action. He will, however, submit to training to augment his powers of bodily endurance.

And the wise man, they say, will offer prayers, and ask for good things from the gods: so Posidonius in the first book of his treatise On Duties, and Hecato in his third book On Paradoxes. Friendship, they declare, exists only between the wise and good, by reason of their likeness to one another. And by friendship they mean a common use of all that has to do with life, wherein we treat our friends as we should ourselves. They argue that a friend is worth having for his own sake and that it is a good thing to have many friends. But among the bad there is, they hold, no such thing as friendship, and thus no bad man has a friend. Another of their tenets is that the unwise are all mad, inasmuch as they are not wise but do what they do from that madness which is the equivalent of their folly.

Furthermore, the wise man does all things well, just as we say that Ismenias plays all airs on the flute well. Also everything belongs to the wise. For the law, they say, has conferred upon them a perfect right to all things. It is true that certain things are said to belong to the bad, just as what has been dishonestly acquired may be said, in one sense, to belong to the state, in another sense to those who are enjoying it.

They hold that the virtues involve one another, and that the possessor of one is the possessor of all, inasmuch as they have common principles, as Chrysippus says in the first book of his work On Virtues, Apollodorus in his Physics according to the Early School, and Hecato in the third book of his treatise On Virtues. For if a man be possessed of virtue, he is at once able to discover and to put into practice what he ought to do. Now such rules of conduct comprise rules for choosing, enduring, staying, and distributing; so that if a man does some things by intelligent choice, some things with fortitude, some things by way of just distribution, and some steadily, he is at once wise, courageous, just, and temperate. And each of the virtues has a particular subject with which it deals, as, for instance, courage is concerned with things that must be endured, practical wisdom with acts to be done, acts from which one must abstain, and those which fall under neither head. Similarly each of the other virtues is concerned with its own proper sphere. To wisdom are subordinate good counsel and understanding; to temperance, good discipline and orderliness; to justice, equality and fair-mindedness; to courage, constancy and vigour.

It is a tenet of theirs that between virtue and vice there is nothing intermediate, whereas according to the Peripatetics there is, namely, the state of moral improvement. For, say the Stoics, just as a stick must be either straight or crooked, so a man must be either just or unjust. Nor again are there degrees of justice and injustice; and the same rule applies to the other virtues. Further, while Chrysippus holds that virtue can be lost, Cleanthes maintains that it cannot. According to the former it may be lost in consequence of drunkenness or melancholy; the latter takes it to be inalienable owing to the certainty of our mental apprehension. And virtue in itself they hold to be worthy of choice for its own sake. At all events we are ashamed of bad conduct as if we knew that nothing is really good but the morally beautiful. Moreover, they hold that it is in itself sufficient to ensure well-being: thus Zeno, and Chrysippus in the first book of his treatise On Virtues, and Hecato in the second book of his treatise On Goods: “For if magnanimity by itself alone can raise us far above everything, and if magnanimity is but a part of virtue, then too virtue as a whole will be sufficient in itself for well-being – despising all things that seem troublesome.” Panaetius, however, and Posidonius deny that virtue is self-sufficing: on the contrary, health is necessary, and some means of living and strength.

Another tenet of theirs is the perpetual exercise of virtue, as held by Cleanthes and his followers. For virtue can never be lost, and the good man is always exercising his mind, which is perfect. Again, they say that justice, as well as law and right reason, exists by nature and not by convention: so Chrysippus in his work On the Morally Beautiful. Neither do they think that the divergence of opinion between philosophers is any reason for abandoning the study of philosophy, since at that rate we should have to give up life altogether: so Posidonius in his Exhortations. Chrysippus allows that the ordinary Greek education is serviceable.

It is their doctrine that there can be no question of right as between man and the lower animals, because of their unlikeness. Thus Chrysippus in the first book of his treatise On Justice, and Posidonius in the first book of his De officio. Further, they say that the wise man will feel affection for the youths who by their countenance show a natural endowment for virtue. So Zeno in his Republic, Chrysippus in book i. of his work On Modes of Life, and Apollodorus in his Ethics.

Their definition of love is an effort toward friendliness due to visible beauty appearing, its sole end being friendship, not bodily enjoyment. At all events, they allege that Thrasonides, although he had his mistress in his power, abstained from her because she hated him. By which it is shown, they think, that love depends upon regard, as Chrysippus says in his treatise Of Love, and is not sent by the gods. And beauty they describe as the bloom or flower of virtue.

Of the three kinds of life, the contemplative, the practical, and the rational, they declare that we ought to choose the last, for that a rational being is expressly produced by nature for contemplation and for action. They tell us that the wise man will for reasonable cause make his own exit from life, on his country’s behalf or for the sake of his friends, or if he suffer intolerable pain, mutilation, or incurable disease.

It is also their doctrine that amongst the wise there should be a community of wives with free choice of partners, as Zeno says in his Republic and Chrysippus in his treatise On Government [and not only they, but also Diogenes the Cynic and Plato].58 Under such circumstances we shall feel paternal affection for all the children alike, and there will be an end of the jealousies arising from adultery. The best form of government they hold to be a mixture of democracy, kingship, and aristocracy (or the rule of the best).

Such, then, are the statements they make in their ethical doctrines, with much more besides, together with their proper proofs: let this, however, suffice for a statement of them in a summary and elementary form.

Their physical doctrine they divide into sections (1) about bodies; (2) about principles; (3) about elements; (4) about the gods; (5) about bounding surfaces and space whether filled or empty. This is a division into species; but the generic division is into three parts, dealing with (i.) the universe; (ii.) the elements; (iii.) the subject of causation.

The part dealing with the universe admits, they say, of division into two: for with one aspect of it the mathematicians also are concerned, in so far as they treat questions relating to the fixed stars and the planets, e.g. whether the sun is or is not just so large as it appears to be, and the same about the moon, the question of their revolutions, and other inquiries of the same sort. But there is another aspect or field of cosmological59 inquiry, which belongs to the physicists alone: this includes such questions as what the substance of the universe is, whether the sun and the stars are made up of form and matter, whether the world has had a beginning in time or not, whether it is animate or inanimate, whether it is destructible or indestructible, whether it is governed by providence, and all the rest. The part concerned with causation, again, is itself subdivided into two. And in one of its aspects medical inquiries have a share in it, in so far as it involves investigation of the ruling principle of the soul and the phenomena of soul, seeds, and the like. Whereas the other part is claimed by the mathematicians also, e.g. how vision is to be explained, what causes the image on the mirror, what is the origin of clouds, thunder, rainbows, halos, comets, and the like.

They hold that there are two principles in the universe, the active principle and the passive. The passive principle, then, is a substance without quality, i.e. matter, whereas the active is the reason inherent in this substance, that is God. For he is everlasting and is the artificer of each several thing throughout the whole extent of matter. This doctrine is laid down by Zeno of Citium in his treatise On Existence, Cleanthes in his work On Atoms, Chrysippus in the first book of his Physics towards the end, Archedemus in his treatise On Elements, and Posidonius in the second book of his Physical Exposition. There is a difference, according to them, between principles and elements; the former being without generation or destruction, whereas the elements are destroyed when all things are resolved into fire. Moreover, the principles are incorporeal and destitute of form, while the elements have been endowed with form.

Body is defined by Apollodorus in his Physics as that which is extended in three dimensions, length, breadth, and depth. This is also called solid body. But surface is the extremity of a solid body, or that which has length and breadth only without depth. That surface exists not only in our thought but also in reality is maintained by Posidonius in the third book of his Celestial Phenomena. A line is the extremity of a surface or length without breadth, or that which has length alone. A point is the extremity of a line, the smallest possible mark or dot.

God is one and the same with Reason, Fate, and Zeus; he is also called by many other names. In the beginning he was by himself; he transformed the whole of substance through air into water, and just as in animal generation the seed has a moist vehicle, so in cosmic moisture God, who is the seminal reason of the universe, remains behind in the moisture as such an agent, adapting matter to himself with a view to the next stage of creation. Thereupon he created first of all the four elements, fire, water, air, earth. They are discussed by Zeno in his treatise On the Whole, by Chrysippus in the first book of his Physics, and by Archedemus in a work On Elements. An element is defined as that from which particular things first come to be at their birth and into which they are finally resolved. The four elements together constitute unqualified substance or matter. Fire is the hot element, water the moist, air the cold, earth the dry. Not but what the quality of dryness is also found in the air.60 Fire has the uppermost place; it is also called aether, and in it the sphere of the fixed stars is first created; then comes the sphere of the planets, next to that the air, then the water, and lowest of all the earth, which is at the centre of all things.

The term universe or cosmos is used by them in three senses: (1) of God himself, the individual being whose quality is derived from the whole of substance; he is indestructible and ingenerable, being the artificer of this orderly arrangement, who at stated periods of time absorbs into himself the whole of substance and again creates it from himself. (2) Again, they give the name of cosmos to the orderly arrangement of the heavenly bodies in itself as such; and (3) in the third place to that whole of which these two are parts. Again, the cosmos is defined as the individual being qualifying the whole of substance, or, in the words of Posidonius in his elementary treatise on Celestial Phenomena, a system made up of heaven and earth and the natures in them, or, again, as a system constituted by gods and men and all things created for their sake. By heaven is meant the extreme circumference or ring in which the deity has his seat.

The world,61 in their view, is ordered by reason and providence: so says Chrysippus in the fifth book of his treatise On Providence and Posidonius in his work On the Gods, book iii. – inasmuch as reason pervades every part of it, just as does the soul in us. Only there is a difference of degree; in some parts there is more of it, in others less. For through some parts it passes as a “hold” or containing force, as is the case with our bones and sinews; while through others it passes as intelligence, as in the ruling part of the soul. Thus, then, the whole world is a living being, endowed with soul and reason, and having aether for its ruling principle: so says Antipater of Tyre in the eighth book of his treatise On the Cosmos. Chrysippus in the first book of his work On Providence and Posidonius in his book On the Gods say that the heaven, but Cleanthes that the sun, is the ruling power of the world. Chrysippus, however, in the course of the same work gives a somewhat different account, namely, that it is the purer part of the aether; the same which they declare to be preeminently God and always to have, as it were in sensible fashion, pervaded all that is in the air, all animals and plants, and also the earth itself, as a principle of cohesion.

The world, they say, is one and finite, having a spherical shape, such a shape being the most suitable for motion, as Posidonius says in the fifth book of his Physical Discourse and the disciples of Antipater in their works on the Cosmos. Outside of the world is diffused the infinite void, which is incorporeal. By incorporeal is meant that which, though capable of being occupied by body, is not so occupied. The world has no empty space within it, but forms one united whole. This is a necessary result of the sympathy and tension which binds together things in heaven and earth. Chrysippus discusses the void in his work On Void and in the first book of his Physical Sciences; so too Apollophanes in his Physics, Apollodorus, and Posidonius in his Physical Discourse, book ii. But these, it is added [i.e. sympathy and tension], are likewise bodies.62

Time too is incorporeal, being the measure of the world’s motion. And time past and time future are infinite, but time present is finite. They hold that the world must come to an end, inasmuch as it had a beginning, on the analogy of those things which are understood by the senses. And that of which the parts are perishable is perishable as a whole. Now the parts of the world are perishable, seeing that they are transformed one into the other. Therefore the world itself is doomed to perish. Moreover, anything is destructible if it admits of deterioration; therefore the world is so, for it is first evaporated and again dissolved into water.

The world, they hold, comes into being when its substance has first been converted from fire through air into moisture and then the coarser part of the moisture has condensed as earth, while that whose particles are fine has been turned into air, and this process of rarefaction goes on increasing till it generates fire. Thereupon out of these elements animals and plants and all other natural kinds are formed by their mixture. The generation and the destruction of the world are discussed by Zeno in his treatise On the Whole, by Chrysippus in the first book of his Physics, by Posidonius in the first book of his work On the Cosmos, by Cleanthes, and by Antipater in his tenth book On the Cosmos. Panaetius, however, maintained that the world is indestructible.

The doctrine that the world is a living being, rational, animate and intelligent, is laid down by Chrysippus in the first book of his treatise On Providence, by Apollodorus in his Physics, and by Posidonius. It is a living thing in the sense of an animate substance endowed with sensation; for animal is better than non-animal, and nothing is better than the world, ergo the world is a living being. And it is endowed with soul, as is clear from our several souls being each a fragment of it. Boethus, however, denies that the world is a living thing. The unity of the world is maintained by Zeno in his treatise On the Whole, by Chrysippus, by Apollodorus in his Physics, and by Posidonius in the first book of his Physical Discourse. By the totality of things, the All, is meant, according to Apollodorus, (1) the world, and in another sense (2) the system composed of the world and the void outside it. The world then is finite, the void infinite.

Of the stars some are fixed, and are carried round with the whole heaven; others, the wandering stars or planets, have their special motions. The sun travels in an oblique path through the zodiac. Similarly the moon travels in a spiral path. The sun is pure fire: so Posidonius in the seventh book of his Celestial Phenomena. And it is larger than the earth, as the same author says in the sixth book of his Physical Discourse. Moreover it is spherical in shape like the world itself according to this same author and his school. That it is fire is proved by its producing all the effects of fire; that it is larger than the earth by the fact that all the earth is illuminated by it; nay more, the heaven beside. The fact too that the earth casts a conical shadow proves that the sun is greater than it. And it is because of its great size that it is seen from every part of the earth.

The moon, however, is of a more earthy composition, since it is nearer to the earth. These fiery bodies and the stars generally derive their nutriment, the sun from the wide ocean, being a fiery kindling, though intelligent; the moon from fresh waters, with an admixture of air, close to the earth as it is: thus Posidonius in the sixth book of his Physics; the other heavenly bodies being nourished from the earth. They hold that the stars are spherical in shape and that the earth too is so and is at rest; and that the moon does not shine by her own light, but by the borrowed light of the sun when he shines upon her.

An eclipse of the sun takes place when the moon passes in front of it on the side towards us, as shown by Zeno with a diagram in his treatise On the Whole. For the moon is seen approaching at conjunctions and occulting it and then again receding from it. This can best be observed when they are mirrored in a basin of water. The moon is eclipsed when she falls into the earth’s shadow: for which reason it is only at the full moon that an eclipse happens 63, although she is in opposition to the sun every month; because the moon moves in an oblique orbit, diverging in latitude relatively to the orbit of the sun, and she accordingly goes farther to the north or to the south. When, however, the moon’s motion in latitude has brought her into the sun’s path through the zodiac, and she thus comes diametrically opposite to the sun, there is an eclipse. Now the moon is in latitude right on the zodiac,64 when she is in the constellations of Cancer, Scorpio, Aries and Taurus: so Posidonius and his followers tell us.

The deity, say they, is a living being, immortal, rational, perfect or intelligent in happiness, admitting nothing evil 65, taking providential care of the world and all that therein is, but he is not of human shape. He is, however, the artificer of the universe and, as it were, the father of all, both in general and in that particular part of him which is all-pervading, and which is called many names according to its various powers. They give the name Dia (Δία) because all things are due to (διά) him; Zeus (Ζῆνα) in so far as he is the cause of life (ζῆν) or pervades all life; the name Athena is given, because the ruling part of the divinity extends to the aether; the name Hera marks its extension to the air; he is called Hephaestus since it spreads to the creative fire; Poseidon, since it stretches to the sea; Demeter, since it reaches to the earth. Similarly men have given the deity his other titles, fastening, as best they can, on some one or other of his peculiar attributes.

The substance of God is declared by Zeno to be the whole world and the heaven, as well as by Chrysippus in his first book Of the Gods, and by Posidonius in his first book with the same title. Again, Antipater in the seventh book of his work On the Cosmos says that the substance of God is akin to air, while Boethus in his work On Nature speaks of the sphere of the fixed stars as the substance of God. Now the term Nature is used by them to mean sometimes that which holds the world together, sometimes that which causes terrestrial things to spring up. Nature is defined as a force moving of itself, producing and preserving in being its offspring in accordance with seminal principles66 within definite periods, and effecting results homogeneous with their sources. Nature, they hold, aims both at utility and at pleasure, as is clear from the analogy of human craftsmanship. That all things happen by fate or destiny is maintained by Chrysippus in his treatise De fato, by Posidonius in his De fato, book ii., by Zeno and by Boethus in his De fato, book i. Fate is defined as an endless chain of causation, whereby things are, or as the reason or formula by which the world goes on. What is more, they say that divination in all its forms is a real and substantial fact, if there is really Providence. And they prove it to be actually a science on the evidence of certain results: so Zeno, Chrysippus in the second book of his De divinatione, Athenodorus, and Posidonius in the second book of his Physical Discourse and the fifth book of his De divinatione. But Panaetius denies that divination has any real existence.

The primary matter they make the substratum of all things: so Chrysippus in the first book of his Physics, and Zeno. By matter is meant that out of which anything whatsoever is produced. Both substance and matter are terms used in a twofold sense according as they signify (1) universal or (2) particular substance or matter. The former neither increases nor diminishes, while the matter of particular things both increases and diminishes. Body according to them is substance which is finite: so Antipater in his second book On Substance, and Apollodorus in his Physics. Matter can also be acted upon, as the same author says, for if it were immutable, the things which are produced would never have been produced out of it. Hence the further doctrine that matter is divisible ad infinitum . Chrysippus says that the division is not ad infinitum, but itself infinite; for there is nothing infinitely small to which the division can extend. But nevertheless the division goes on without ceasing.

Hence, again, their explanation of the mixture of two substances is, according to Chrysippus in the third book of his Physics, that they permeate each other through and through, and that the particles of the one do not merely surround those of the other or lie beside them. Thus, if a little drop of wine be thrown into the sea, it will be equally diffused over the whole sea for a while and then will be blended67 with it.

Also they hold that there are daemons (δαίμονες) who are in sympathy with mankind and watch over human affairs. They believe too in heroes, that is, the souls of the righteous that have survived their bodies.

Of the changes which go on in the air, they describe winter as the cooling of the air above the earth due to the sun’s departure to a distance from the earth; spring as the right temperature of the air consequent upon his approach to us; summer as the heating of the air above the earth when he travels to the north; while autumn they attribute to the receding of the sun from us. As for the winds, they are streams of air, differently named68 according to the localities from which they blow. And the cause of their production is the sun through the evaporation of the clouds. The rainbow is explained as the reflection of the sun’s rays from watery clouds or, as Posidonius says in his Meteorology, an image of a segment of the sun or moon in a cloud suffused with dew, which is hollow and visible without intermission, the image showing itself as if in a mirror in the form of a circular arch. Comets, bearded stars, and meteors are fires which arise when dense air is carried up to the region of aether. A shooting star is the sudden kindling of a mass of fire in rapid motion through the air, which leaves a trail behind it presenting an appearance of length. Rain is the transformation of cloud into water, when moisture drawn up by the sun from land or sea has been only partially evaporated. If this is cooled down, it is called hoar-frost. Hail is frozen cloud, crumbled by a wind; while snow is moist matter from a cloud which has congealed: so Posidonius in the eighth book of his Physical Discourse. Lightning is a kindling of clouds from being rubbed together or being rent by wind, as Zeno says in his treatise On the Whole; thunder the noise these clouds make when they rub against each other or burst. Thunderbolt is the term used when the fire is violently kindled and hurled to the ground with great force as the clouds grind against each other or are torn by the wind. Others say that it is a compression of fiery air descending with great force. A typhoon is a great and violent thunderstorm whirlwind-like, or a whirlwind of smoke from a cloud that has burst. A “prester” is a cloud rent all round by the force of fire and wind. Earthquakes, say they, happen when the wind finds its way into, or is imprisoned in, the hollow parts of the earth: so Posidonius in his eighth book; and some of them are tremblings, others openings of the earth, others again lateral displacements,69 and yet others vertical displacements.

They maintain that the parts of the world are arranged thus. The earth is in the middle answering to a centre; next comes the water, which is shaped like a sphere all round it, concentric with the earth, so that the earth is in water. After the water comes a spherical layer of air. There are five celestial circles: first, the arctic circle, which is always visible; second, the summer tropic; third, the circle of the equinox; fourth, the winter tropic; and fifth, the antarctic, which is invisible to us. They are called parallel, because they do not incline towards one another; yet they are described round the same centre.70 The zodiac is an oblique circle, as it crosses the parallel circles. And there are five terrestrial zones: first, the northern zone which is beyond the arctic circle, uninhabitable because of the cold; second, a temperate zone; a third, uninhabitable because of great heats, called the torrid zone; fourth, a counter-temperate zone; fifth, the southern zone, uninhabitable because of its cold.

Nature in their view is an artistically working fire, going on its way to create; which is equivalent to a fiery, creative, or fashioning breath. And the soul is a nature capable of perception. And they regard it as the breath of life, congenital with us; from which they infer first that it is a body and secondly that it survives death. Yet it is perishable, though the soul of the universe, of which the individual souls of animals are parts, is indestructible. Zeno of Citium and Antipater, in their treatises De anima, and Posidonius define the soul as a warm breath; for by this we become animate and this enables us to move. Cleanthes indeed holds that all souls continue to exist until the general conflagration; but Chrysippus says that only the souls of the wise do so.71

They count eight parts of the soul: the five senses, the generative power in us, our power of speech, and that of reasoning. They hold that we see when the light between the visual organ and the object stretches in the form of a cone: so Chrysippus in the second book of his Physics and Apollodorus. The apex of the cone in the air is at the eye, the base at the object seen. Thus the thing seen is reported to us by the medium of the air stretching out towards it, as if by a stick.

We hear when the air between the sonant body and the organ of hearing suffers concussion, a vibration which spreads spherically and then forms waves and strikes upon the ears, just as the water in a reservoir forms wavy circles when a stone is thrown into it. Sleep is caused, they say, by the slackening of the tension in our senses, which affects the ruling part of the soul. They consider that the passions are caused by the variations of the vital breath.

Semen is by them defined as that which is capable of generating offspring like the parent. And the human semen which is emitted by a human parent in a moist vehicle is mingled with parts of the soul, blended in the same ratio in which they are present in the parent. Chrysippus in the second book of his Physics declares it to be in substance identical with vital breath or spirit. This, he thinks, can be seen from the seeds cast into the earth, which, if kept till they are old, do not germinate, plainly because their fertility has evaporated. Sphaerus and his followers also maintain that semen derives its origin from the whole of the body; at all events every part of the body can be reproduced from it. That of the female is according to them sterile, being, as Sphaerus says, without tension, scanty, and watery. By ruling part of the soul is meant that which is most truly soul proper, in which arise presentations and impulses and from which issues rational speech. And it has its seat in the heart.

Such is the summary of their Physics which I have deemed adequate, my aim being to preserve a due proportion in my work. But the points on which certain of the Stoics differed from the rest are the following.

1 Cynosura, Dog’s Tail, like Dog’s Head, Cynoscephalus, was the name of several promontories, notably one in Athens and one in Salamis. Relatively to Cynicism, “holding on by the dog’s tail” would seem a more appropriate interpretation.

2 Our word “colonnade” better describes a roofed building, supported at least on one side by pillars and thus affording a public thoroughfare like an arcade or cloister, but open to the sun and air. Owing, however, to the Latin “porticus” Zeno’s school has received in English literature the appellation of “the Porch.” The frescoes or pictures, with which the Stoa was adorned, made it in some sense the National Gallery of Athens. For further information see by all means Frazer’s note on Pausanias i. 15 (vol. ii. pp. 132-137).

3 Probably the Thirty met in the Stoa and passed sentence of death there. It is not likely that this was the place of execution.

4 Pliny, N. H. xxxiv. 92.

5 260-256 B.C.

6 Cf. Tarn, Antig. Gon. p. 309, especially note 106; he considers the decree, as we have it, a fusion of two genuine decrees, (1) voting a crown to Zeno in his life-time, (2) decreeing a public funeral after his death.

7 The security for the loan was either the cargo shipped or the vessel itself. As the risk was great, the interest was proportionately high. Demosth. Or. xxxiv. 23, l. 17, lvi. 17.

8 Zeno must have foreseen that this compliment would be followed by a request to use his undoubted influence with the king on behalf of Demochares. who, as an Athenian patriot and the nephew of Demosthenes, was out of favour at the Macedonian court. Indeed the fact of his making such advances at all is so strange that Ferguson (p. 172) and Tarn (p. 94, note 11) feel constrained to offer hypothetical explanations.

9 Tarn, Antig. Gon. p. 310, well compares Plato, Politicus 260 c, and Epicurus (ap. Senec. Ep. 7. 11), ”satis enim magnum alter alteri theatrum sumus. ”

10 Frag. 38 D.

11 Cf. Od. xi. 281, 271.

12 Frag. 39 D.

13 Cf. Il. ii. 831, xxiii. 133.

14 Cf. Athen. xiv. p. 629 b.

15 Supplices, 861-863.

16 The change of φωνῆς φωνήν to σωφροσύνης σωφροσύνην is due to Cobet. Cf.130 ὥρα ἄνθος ἀρετῆς,and 173. For virtue in general Cobet’s change here substitutes the particular virtue required. Von Arnim, adhering more closely to the mss., would replace φωνῆς by ῥώΜης and retain φωνήν, which would give the meaning, “Beauty he called the flower of strength, while according to others it was the voice which he called the flower of beauty.”

17 Hesiod’s lines as they stand (Works and Days, 293 f.) run thus: “He is best of all, who finds out everything for himself; that man too is good who follows good advice.”

18 Cf. ii. 32.

19 Of Timotheus. See Nauck, T.G.F. p. 51.

20 Anth. Plan. iii. 104.

21 Anth. Pal. vii. 117.

22 Anth. Pal. ix. 496.

23 Anth. Pal. vii. 118.

24 Perhaps an error for Zeno of Tarsus.

25 Laertius adheres to his plan of arranging doctrine under two heads: (1) a general or summary, (2) a particular, treatment; cf. inf. vii. 48 κεφαλαιωδῶς κατὰ μέρος. Here follows a valuable and full doxography, extending to 160, collected from various sources; 49-83 come from Diocles. The classification is roughly as follows: divisions of Philosophy, 39-41; Logic, 42-83; Ethics, 84-131; Physics, 132-160.

26 The word φαντασία (=appearance or appearing) is a technical term in Stoic logic for which no one English equivalent is as yet unanimously adopted. It denotes the immediate datum of consciousness or experience, whether presented to sense or in certain cases to the mind. Hence “presentation” is nearer than “perception” or “impression.” It might be thought to correspond to Locke’s “simple ideas,” for which Hume substituted “impressions and ideas”; but this is hardly so; for φαντασίαι are “given” as it were from without, and then with them as materials the mind itself constructs general notions and concepts.

27 Cf. Plut. Mor. 874 e, and inf. 62, 83.

28 Cf. supra, 38 note. This distinction between the general and particular treatment is also frequent in Sextus Empiricus: e.g. Pyrrh. Hyp. i. 5 ὁ καθόλου λόγος as opposed to ὁ εἰδικὸς λόγος.

29 i.e. the Babylonian.

30 Probably “adverb.”

31 Sc. Apollodorus and his school; cf. inf. 64.

32 = “the,” masc., fem. and neut., singular and plural.

33 Nauck, T.G.F. ², Eur. 839.

34 The author seems to have confused “term,” which Antipater defines, with “definition,” which, as Chrysippus says, is simply “giving back” the meaning in other words. Zeller’s correction ἰδίου ἀπόδοσις for καὶ ἡ ἀπόδοσις comes from a scholion on Dionysius Thrax.

35 Cf. Stob. Ecl. i. 136. 21 W.

36 “Direct Predicate” answers to our Active Verb, “Predicate reversed” to our Passive; cf. supra, 43.

37 and so have personal subjects

38 We should expect τὰ δὲ παρασυμβάματα to follow (cf. Luc. Vit. Auct. 21). By παρασύμβαμα is meant an impersonal verb with subject in oblique case, as μέλει μοι. For other conjectures see Zeller, Phil. der Gr. iii. 13, 89 note 2, 90.

39 An attempt to distinguish what we call the Middle Voice from the Passive – as e.g. συνέθεντο, “they made compacts with each other,” is more active (ὀρθά) than passive (ὔπτια).

40 Cf. Philo, L. A. iii. 201 (L.C.L. i. p. 436) ὁ ἄνθρωπος καὶ ἀντιδρᾷ καὶ ὥσπερ ἀντιπέπονθε σχηματίζων ἑαυτὸν πρὸς τὸ κείρεσθαι, “the man” – as distinct from a fleece being shorn – “is both active and passive, as he suits his motions to the shaving.”

41 Nauck, T.G.F. ², Adesp. 177; cf. Galen, xiii. p. 363 K.

42 Iliad ix. 96.

43 Nauck, T.G.F. ², Adesp. 286.

44 Cf. Sext. Emp. Adv. math. viii. 429.

45 The example is badly chosen, confusing contrary with contradictory.

46 Cf. Sext. Emp. Pyrrh. Hyp. ii. 157 sq.

47 Cf. supra, 44.

48 Here Laertius, as the text stands, gives examples of the Sorites and the Nobody, but none of the other three fallacies, the Veiled, Concealed, Horned.

49 The vulgate, in which I have made no change, has been regarded with suspicion. Von Arnim conjectures: “For if the logician ought to have something to say about the correct use of terms, how could he fail to lay down the proper names for actions?”

50 One of the older Stoics; cf. Frag. Vet. Stoic. i. 90.

51 It is obviously not courage which is here defined, but apparently wisdom over again. Hence I have marked a lacuna.

52 “Indirectly”: more literally “contributing, as intermediary (μέσην), to.”

53 With Arnim’s correction, wheat would exchange for 1 1/2 times the quantity of barley. The three meanings of ἀξία are also given, but in a different order, by Stobaeus, Ecl. ii. 83. 10, who explains this as ἀμοιβὴν τοῦ δοκιμαστοῦ.

54 The reading πραχθέν is now accepted in place of προαχθέν. “Duty,” it should be noted, is a very inadequate rendering of καθῆκον, which in the present passage applies to the proper behaviour of plants and animals no less than to that of human beings. Cf. Stob. Ecl. ii. 85. 13 ὂ πραχθὲν εὔλογον ἀπολογίαν ἔχει; Sext. Emp. vii. 158.

55 The ordinary meaning of the verb καθήκειν is well seen in Hdt. vii. 22 ὁ γὰρ Ἄθως ἐστὶ ὄρος μέγα τε καὶ ὀνομαστὸν ἐς θάλασσαν κατῆκον (“for Athos is a great and famous mountain, reaching down to the sea”). The term seems to have passed from this meaning to signify figuratively that which extends to, affects, or is incumbent on us: as near an approach, perhaps, to the idea of duty as can be expected in any ancient system of Ethics, which regards human conduct not as obedience to law, but as determination and pursuit of good.

56 Il. i. 81, 82.

57 Regarded as passages down to the underworld; cf. Virg. Aen. vi. 240 seq., 299.

58 The words in brackets read like a marginal note, afterwards inserted in the text.

59 αὐτοῦ̂τοῦ κόσμου.

60 “The same part” ̔τὸ αὐτὸ μέροσ̓ may refer to the quality of dryness last mentioned.

61 “World” is normally the best rendering of κόσμος. “Universe,” which some prefer, better suits τὸ ὅλον.

62 The reading ἀσώματα can be retained if we alter ταῦτα to λεκτά,the sense thus being “the meanings of spoken words are also incorporeal.” Yet a parallel change is required in 134. Professor Pearson suggests εἶναι δὲ καὶ τὰ ἀσώματα ὁμοίως, introducing 141.

63 and not always then

64 i.e. the moon’s latitude relatively to the zodiac is nil.

65 into him

66 Or perhaps “seminal proportions.” This obscure expression would seem intended to assimilate all development and evolution to the growth, whether of plants or animals, from seed.

67 For the meaning of this verb (συμφθείρεσθαι) see Wilamowitz on Eur. H. F. 932, and Plut. Mor. 436 b.

68 The lacuna of the mss. can be filled from the parallel passage of Aetius, Diels, Doxographi Graeci, p. 374 a 23.

69 For καυματίας of mss. Cobet reads κλιματίας.

70 The κέντρον is rather an axis (namely, a diameter of the celestial sphere) than a point.

71 Cf. Aet. Plac. iv. 19. 4 (Arnim, ii. p. 140).


Ariston the Bald, of Chios, who was also called the Siren, declared the end of action to be a life of perfect indifference to everything which is neither virtue nor vice; recognizing no distinction whatever in things indifferent, but treating them all alike. The wise man he compared to a good actor, who, if called upon to take the part of a Thersites or of an Agamemnon, will impersonate them both becomingly. He wished to discard both Logic and Physics, saying that Physics was beyond our reach and Logic did not concern us: all that did concern us was Ethics.

Dialectical reasonings, he said, are like spiders’ webs, which, though they seem to display some artistic workmanship, are yet of no use. He would not admit a plurality of virtues with Zeno, nor again with the Megarians one single virtue called by many names; but he treated virtue in accordance with the category of relative modes. Teaching this sort of philosophy, and lecturing in the Cynosarges, he acquired such influence as to be called the founder of a sect. At any rate Miltiades and Diphilus were denominated Aristoneans. He was a plausible speaker and suited the taste of the general public. Hence Timon’s verse about him:72

One who from wily Ariston’s line boasts his descent.73

After meeting Polemo, says Diocles of Magnesia, while Zeno was suffering from a protracted illness, he recanted his views. The Stoic doctrine to which he attached most importance was the wise man’s refusal to hold mere opinions. And against this doctrine Persaeus was contending when he induced one of a pair of twins to deposit a certain sum with Ariston and afterwards got the other to reclaim it. Ariston being thus reduced to perplexity was refuted. He was at variance with Arcesilaus; and one day when he saw an abortion in the shape of a bull with a uterus, he said, “Alas, here Arcesilaus has had given into his hand an argument against the evidence of the senses.”

When some Academic alleged that he had no certainty of anything, Ariston said, “Do you not even see your neighbour sitting by you?” and when the other answered “No,” he rejoined,

Who can have blinded you? who robbed you of luminous eyesight?

The books attributed to him are as follows:

Panaetius and Sosicrates consider the Letters to be alone genuine; all the other works named they attribute to Ariston the Peripatetic.

The story goes that being bald he had a sunstroke and so came to his end. I have composed a trifling poem upon him in limping iambics as follows:74

Wherefore, Ariston, when old and bald did you let the sun roast your forehead? Thus seeking warmth more than was reasonable, you lit unwillingly upon the chill reality of Death.

There was also another Ariston, a native of Iulis;75 a third, a musician of Athens; a fourth, a tragic poet; a fifth, of Halae, author of treatises on rhetoric; a sixth, a Peripatetic philosopher of Alexandria.

72 Frag. 40 D.

73 So Wachsmuth. Diels would prefer: “deriving winning manners from the wiles of Ariston.”

74 Anth. Plan. v. 38.

75 The town in Ceos to which Bacchylides belonged: Ael Var. Hist. iv. 15.


Herillus of Carthage declared the end of action to be Knowledge, that is, so to live always as to make the scientific life the standard in all things and not to be misled by ignorance. Knowledge he defined as a habit of mind, not to be upset by argument, in the acceptance of presentations. Sometimes he used to say there was no single end of action, but it shifted according to varying circumstances and objects, as the same bronze might become a statue either of Alexander or of Socrates. He made a distinction between end-in-chief and subordinate end: even the unwise may aim at the latter, but only the wise seek the true end of life. Everything that lies between virtue and vice he pronounced indifferent. His writings, though they do not occupy much space, are full of vigour and contain some controversial passages in reply to Zeno.

He is said to have had many admirers when a boy; and as Zeno wished to drive them away, he compelled Herillus to have his head shaved, which disgusted them.

His books are the following:


Dionysius the Renegade,76 declared that pleasure was the end of action; this under the trying circumstance of an attack of ophthalmia. For so violent was his suffering that he could not bring himself to call pain a thing indifferent.

He was the son of Theophantus and a native of Heraclea. At first, as Diocles relates, he was a pupil of his fellow-townsman, Heraclides, next of Alexinus and Menedemus, and lastly of Zeno.

At the outset of his career he was fond of literature and tried his hand at all kinds of poetry; afterwards he took Aratus77 for his model, whom he strove to imitate. When he fell away from Zeno, he went over to the Cyrenaics, and used to frequent houses of ill fame and indulge in all other excesses without disguise. After living till he was nearly eighty years of age, he committed suicide by starving himself.

The following works are attributed to him:

These three, then, are the heterodox Stoics. The legitimate successor to Zeno, however, was Cleanthes: of whom we have now to speak.

76 Cf. 37.

77 i.e. the author of the astronomical poem Φαινόμενα, not the statesman of that name, the protagonist of the Achaean League, whose Life we have in Plutarch.


Cleanthes, son of Phanias, was a native of Assos. This man, says Antisthenes in his Successions of Philosophers, was at first a pugilist. He arrived in Athens, as some people say, with four drachmas only, and meeting with Zeno he studied philosophy right nobly and adhered to the same doctrines throughout. He was renowned for his industry, being indeed driven by extreme poverty to work for a living. Thus, while by night he used to draw water in gardens, by day he exercised himself in arguments: hence the nickname Phreantles or Well-lifter was given him. He is said to have been brought into court to answer the inquiry how so sturdy a fellow as he made his living, and then to have been acquitted on producing as his witnesses the gardener in whose garden he drew water and the woman who sold the meal which he used to crush. The Areopagites were satisfied and voted him a donation of ten minas, which Zeno forbade him to accept. We are also told that Antigonus made him a present of three thousand drachmas. Once, as he was conducting some youths to a public spectacle, the wind blew his cloak aside and disclosed the fact that he wore no shirt, whereupon he was applauded by the Athenians, as is stated by Demetrius of Magnesia in his work on Men of the Same Name. This then also increased the admiration felt for him. There is another story that Antigonus when attending his lectures inquired of him why he drew water and received the reply, “Is drawing water all I do? What? Do I not dig? What? Do I not water the garden? or undertake any other labour for the love of philosophy?” For Zeno used to discipline him to this and bid him return him an obol from his wages.78 And one day he produced a handful of small coin before his acquaintance and said, “Cleanthes could even maintain a second Cleanthes, if he liked, whereas those who possess the means to keep themselves yet seek to live at the expense of others, and that too though they have plenty of time to spare from their studies.” Hence Cleanthes was called a second Heracles. He had industry, but no natural aptitude for physics, and was extraordinarily slow. On which account Timon describes him thus:79

Who is this that like a bell-wether ranges over the ranks of men, a dullard, lover of verse, hailing from Assos,80 a mass of rock, unventuresome.

And he used to put up with gibes from his fellow-pupils and did not mind being called the ass, telling them that he alone was strong enough to carry the load of Zeno. Once when he was reproached with cowardice, he replied, “That is why I so seldom go wrong.” Again, when extolling his own manner of life above that of the wealthy, he used to say that, while they were playing at ball, he was at work digging hard and barren ground. He would often find fault with himself too, and one day when Ariston heard him doing this and asked, “Who is it you are scolding so?” he, laughing, said, “An old man with grey hairs and no wits.” To some one who declared that Arcesilaus did not do what he ought, his reply was, “No more of this; do not censure him. For if by his words he does away with duty, he maintains it at all events by his deeds.” And Arcesilaus rejoined, “I am not to be won by flattery.” Whereupon Cleanthes said, “True, but my flattery consists in alleging that your theory is incompatible with your practice.”

When some one inquired of him what lesson he ought to give his son, Cleanthes in reply quoted words from the Electra:

Silence, silence, light be thy step.81

A Lacedaemonian having declared that toil was a good thing, he was overjoyed and said,

Thou art of gentle blood, dear child.82

Dicit autem Hecato in Sententiis eum, cum adulescens quidam formosus dixisset, Si pulsans ventrem ventrizat, pulsans coxas coxizat, dixisse, Tibi habeas, adulescens, coxizationes: nempe vocabula quae conveniunt analogia non semper etiam significatione conveniunt.83 Once in conversation with a youth he put the question, “Do you see?” and when the youth nodded assent, he went on, “Why, then, don’t I see that you see?”

He was present in the theatre when the poet Sositheus uttered the verse –

Driven by Cleanthes’ folly like dumb herds,84

and he remained unmoved in the same attitude. At which the audience were so astonished that they applauded him and drove Sositheus off the stage. Afterwards when the poet apologized for the insult, he accepted the apology, saying that, when Dionysus and Heracles were ridiculed by the poets without getting angry, it would be absurd for him to be annoyed at casual abuse. He used to say that the Peripatetics were in the same case as lyres which, although they give forth sweet sounds, never hear themselves. It is said that when he laid it down as Zeno’s opinion that a man’s character could be known from his looks, certain witty young men brought before him a rake with hands horny from toil in the country and requested him to state what the man’s character was. Cleanthes was perplexed and ordered the man to go away; but when, as he was making off, he sneezed, “I have it,” cried Cleanthes, “he is effeminate.” To the solitary man who talked to himself he remarked, “You are not talking to a bad man.” When some one twitted him on his old age, his reply was, “I too am ready to depart; but when again I consider that I am in all points in good health and that I can still write and read, I am content to wait.” We are told that he wrote down Zeno’s lectures on oyster-shells and the blade-bones of oxen through lack of money to buy paper. Such was he; and yet, although Zeno had many other eminent disciples, he was able to succeed him in the headship of the school.

He has left some very fine writings, which are as follows:

This, then, is the list of his works.

His end was as follows. He had severe inflammation of the gums, and by the advice of his doctors he abstained from food for two whole days. As it happened, this treatment succeeded, so that the doctors were for allowing him to resume his usual diet. To this, however, he would not consent, but declaring that he had already got too far on the road, he went on fasting the rest of his days until his death at the same age as Zeno according to some authorities, having spent nineteen years as Zeno’s pupil.

My lighter verse on him runs thus:85

I praise Cleanthes, but praise Hades more,

Who could not bear to see him grown so old,

So gave him rest at last among the dead,

Who’d drawn such load of water while alive.

78 A slave allowed by his master to hire himself out to another master was bound by Attic law to refund to his own master a part ̔ἀποφορά̓ of the wages he received. Zeno claimed a part of his pupil’s earnings.

79 Frag. 41 D.

80 Diels’ reading λίθος gives the line a far better rhythm.

81 Eur. El. 140.

82 Hom. Od. iv. 611.

83 Transcribers note: Hicks preferred to translate this lurid anecdote into Latin. A rough English translation of the Greek text is: “Hecato tells us in his Anecdotes, that once when a pretty lad invented a word for thigh-slapping (mêrizei ) by analogy with the word for belly-slapping (gastrizei ), Cleanthes replied that he should stick to parting-the-thighs (diamêrizei ), for words which correspond by analogy do not always correspond by meaning.”

84 Nauck, T.G.F. ², p. 823.

85 Anth. Plan. v. 36.


Amongst those who after the death of Zeno became pupils of Cleanthes was Sphaerus of Bosporus, as already mentioned.86 After making considerable progress in his studies, he went to Alexandria to the court of King Ptolemy Philopator.87 One day when a discussion had arisen on the question whether the wise man could stoop to hold opinion,88 and Sphaerus had maintained that this was impossible, the king, wishing to refute him, ordered some waxen pomegranates to be put on the table. Sphaerus was taken in and the king cried out, “You have given your assent to a presentation which is false.” But Sphaerus was ready with a neat answer. “I assented not to the proposition that they are pomegranates, but to another, that there are good grounds for thinking them to be pomegranates. Certainty of presentation and reasonable probability are two totally different things.” Mnesistratus having accused him of denying that Ptolemy was a king, his reply was, “Being of such quality as he is, Ptolemy is indeed a king.”

The books that he wrote were as follows:

86 37.

87 222-205 B.C.

88 Cf. sup.162.


Chrysippus, the son of Apollonius, came either from Soli or from Tarsus, as Alexander relates in his Successions. He was a pupil of Cleanthes. Before this he used to practise as a long-distance runner; but afterwards he came to hear Zeno, or, as Diocles and most people say, Cleanthes; and then, while Cleanthes was still living, withdrew from his school and attained exceptional eminence as a philosopher. He had good natural parts and showed the greatest acuteness in every branch of the subject; so much so that he differed on most points from Zeno, and from Cleanthes as well, to whom he often used to say that all he wanted was to be told what the doctrines were; he would find out the proofs for himself. Nevertheless, whenever he had contended against Cleanthes, he would afterwards feel remorse, so that he constantly came out with the lines:89

Blest in all else am I, save only where

I touch Cleanthes: there I am ill-fortuned.

So renowned was he for dialectic that most people thought, if the gods took to dialectic, they would adopt no other system than that of Chrysippus. He had abundance of matter, but in style he was not successful. In industry he surpassed every one, as the list of his writings shows; for there are more than 705 of them. He increased their number by arguing repeatedly on the same subject, setting down anything that occurred to him, making many corrections and citing numerous authorities. So much so that in one of his treatises he copied out nearly the whole of Euripides’ Medea, and some one who had taken up the volume, being asked what he was reading, replied, “The Medea of Chrysippus.”

Apollodorus of Athens in his Collection of Doctrines, wishing to show that what Epicurus wrote with force and originality unaided by quotations was far greater in amount than the books of Chrysippus, says, to quote his exact words, “If one were to strip the books of Chrysippus of all extraneous quotations, his pages would be left bare.” So much for Apollodorus. Of Chrysippus the old woman who sat beside him used to say, according to Diocles, that he wrote 500 lines a day. Hecato says that he came to the study of philosophy, because the property which he had inherited from his father had been confiscated to the king’s treasury.

In person he was insignificant, as is shown by the statue in the Ceramicus, which is almost hidden by an equestrian statue hard by; and this is why Carneades called him Crypsippus or Horse-hidden. Once when somebody reproached him for not going with the multitude to hear Ariston, he rejoined, “If I had followed the multitude, I should not have studied philosophy.” When some dialectician got up and attacked Cleanthes, proposing sophistical fallacies to him, Chrysippus called to him. “Cease to distract your elder from matters of importance; propound such quibbles to us juniors.” Again, when somebody who had a question to ask was steadily conversing with him in private, and then upon seeing a crowd approaching began to be more contentious, he said:

Ah! brother mine, thine eye is growing wild:

To madness fast thou’rt changing, sane but now.90

At wine-parties he used to behave quietly, though he was unsteady on his legs; which caused the woman-slave to say, “As for Chrysippus, only his legs get tipsy.” His opinion of himself was so high that when some one inquired, “To whom shall I entrust my son?” he replied, “To me: for, if I had dreamt of there being anyone better than myself, I should myself be studying with him.” Hence, it is said, the application to him of the line:91

He alone has understanding; the others flit shadow-like around;


But for Chrysippus, there had been no Porch.

At last, however, – so we are told by Sotion in his eighth book, – he joined Arcesilaus and Lacydes and studied philosophy under them in the Academy. And this explains his arguing at one time against, and at another in support of, ordinary experience, and his use of the method of the Academy when treating of magnitudes and numbers.

On one occasion, as Hermippus relates, when he had his school in the Odeum, he was invited by his pupils to a sacrificial feast. There after he had taken a draught of sweet wine unmixed with water, he was seized with dizziness and departed this life five days afterwards, having reached the age of seventy-three years, in the 143rd Olympiad.92 This is the date given by Apollodorus in his Chronology. I have toyed with the subject in the following verses:93

Chrysippus turned giddy after gulping down a draught of Bacchus; he spared not the Porch nor his country nor his own life, but fared straight to the house of Hades.

Another account is that his death was caused by a violent fit of laughter; for after an ass had eaten up his figs, he cried out to the old woman, “Now give the ass a drink of pure wine to wash down the figs.” And thereupon he laughed so heartily that he died.

He appears to have been a very arrogant man.94 At any rate, of all his many writings he dedicated none to any of the kings. And he was satisfied with one old woman’s judgement, says Demetrius in his work called Men of the Same Name. When Ptolemy wrote to Cleanthes requesting him to come himself or else to send some one to his court, Sphaerus undertook the journey, while Chrysippus declined to go. On the other hand, he sent for his sister’s sons, Aristocreon and Philocrates, and educated them. Demetrius above mentioned is also our authority for the statement that Chrysippus was the first who ventured to hold a lecture-class in the open air in the Lyceum.

There was another Chrysippus, a native of Cnidus, a physician,95 to whom Erasistratus says that he was under great obligation. And another besides, a son96 of the former, court-physician to Ptolemy, who on a false charge was dragged about and castigated with the lash. And yet another was a pupil of Erasistratus, and another the author of a work on Agriculture.

To return to the philosopher. He used to propound arguments such as the following: “He who divulges the mysteries to the uninitiated is guilty of impiety. Now the hierophant certainly does reveal the mysteries to the uninitiated, ergo he is guilty of impiety.”97 Or again: “What is not in the city is not in the house either: now there is no well in the city, ergo there is none in the house either.” Yet another: “There is a certain head, and that head you have not. Now this being so, there is a head which you have not, therefore you are without a head.” Again: “If anyone is in Megara, he is not in Athens: now there is a man in Megara, therefore there is not a man in Athens.” Again: “If you say something, it passes through your lips: now you say wagon, consequently a wagon passes through your lips.” And further: “If you never lost something, you have it still; but you never lost horns, ergo you have horns.” Others attribute this to Eubulides.

There are people who run Chrysippus down as having written much in a tone that is gross and indecent. For in his work On the ancient Natural Philosophers at line 600 or thereabouts he interprets the story of Hera and Zeus coarsely, with details which no one would soil his lips by repeating. Indeed, his interpretation of the story is condemned as most indecent. He may be commending physical doctrine; but the language used is more appropriate to street-walkers than to deities; and it is moreover not even mentioned by bibliographers, who wrote on the titles of books. What Chrysippus makes of it is not to be found in Polemo nor Hypsicrates, no, nor even in Antigonus. It is his own invention. Again, in his Republic he permits marriage with mothers and daughters and sons. He says the same in his work On Things for their own Sake not Desirable, right at the outset. In the third book of his treatise On Justice, at about line 1000, he permits eating of the corpses of the dead. And in the second book of his On the Means of Livelihood, where he professes to be considering a priori how the wise man is to get his living, occur the words: “And yet what reason is there that he should provide a living? For if it be to support life, life itself is after all a thing indifferent. If it be for pleasure, pleasure too is a thing indifferent. While if it be for virtue, virtue in itself is sufficient to constitute happiness. The modes of getting a livelihood are also ludicrous, as e.g. maintenance by a king; for he will have to be humoured: or by friends; for friendship will then be purchasable for money: or living by wisdom; for so wisdom will become mercenary.” These are the objections urged against him.

As the reputation of his writings stands so high, I have decided to make a separate catalogue of them, arranged according to the class of subject treated. And they are as follows:

I. Logic.

II. Logic dealing with the subject matter.

III. Logic, as concerned with words or phrases and the sentence.

IV. Logic as concerned with syllogisms and moods.

V. Under Logic.

1. Ethics dealing with the classification of ethical conceptions.

2. Ethics dealing with the common view and the sciences and virtues thence arising.

3. Ethics, dealing with things good and evil.

89 Eur. Or. 540-1.

90 Eur. Or. 253.

91 Od. x. 495.

92 208-204 B.C.

93 Anth. Pal. vii. 706.

94 In 185-189; cf. Wilamowitz, Antig. von K. pp. 104sq.

95 Cf. viii. 89-90, and note ad loc.; also Pliny, N. H. xxix. 5.

96 Or perhaps a grandson, as Wilamowitz suggests, Antig. von Kar. p. 326.

97 Cf. supr. ii. 101.

98 A well-known fallacy; see Book II. 108.

99 Cf. supra,162.

100 Cf. Cicero, Acad. post. 42 ”sed inter scientiam et inscientiam comprehensionem illam, quam dixi, collocabat “ [sc. Zeno]; Sext. Emp. Adv. math. vii. 151.


Pythagoras. Empedocles. Epicharmus. Archytas. Alcmaeon. Hippasus. Philolaus. Eudoxus.


Having now completed our account of the philosophy of Ionia starting with Thales, as well as of its chief representatives, let us proceed to examine the philosophy of Italy, which was started by Pythagoras,1 son of the gem-engraver Mnesarchus, and according to Hermippus, a Samian, or, according to Aristoxenus, a Tyrrhenian from one of those islands which the Athenians held after clearing them of their Tyrrhenian inhabitants. Some indeed say that he was descended through Euthyphro, Hippasus and Marmacus from Cleonymus, who was exiled from Phlius, and that, as Marmacus lived in Samos, so Pythagoras was called a Samian. From Samos he went, it is said, to Lesbos with an introduction to Pherecydes from his uncle Zoilus. He had three silver flagons made and took them as presents to each of the priests of Egypt. He had brothers, of whom Eunomus was the elder and Tyrrhenus the second; he also had a slave, Zamolxis, who is worshipped, so says Herodotus, by the Getans,2 as Cronos. He was a pupil, as already stated, of Pherecydes of Syros, after whose death he went to Samos to be the pupil of Hermodamas, Creophylus’s descendant, a man already advanced in years. While still young, so eager was he for knowledge, he left his own country and had himself initiated into all the mysteries and rites not only of Greece but also of foreign countries. Now he was in Egypt when Polycrates sent him a letter of introduction to Amasis; he learnt the Egyptian language, so we learn from Antiphon in his book On Men of Outstanding Merit, and he also journeyed among the Chaldaeans and Magi. Then while in Crete he went down into the cave of Ida with Epimenides; he also entered the Egyptian sanctuaries,3 and was told their secret lore concerning the gods. After that he returned to Samos to find his country under the tyranny of Polycrates; so he sailed away to Croton in Italy, and there he laid down a constitution for the Italian Greeks, and he and his followers were held in great estimation; for, being nearly three hundred in number, so well did they govern the state that its constitution was in effect a true aristocracy (government by the best).

This is what Heraclides of Pontus tells us he used to say about himself: that he had once been Aethalides and was accounted to be Hermes’ son, and Hermes told him he might choose any gift he liked except immortality; so he asked to retain through life and through death a memory of his experiences. Hence in life he could recall everything, and when he died he still kept the same memories. Afterwards in course of time his soul entered into Euphorbus and he was wounded by Menelaus. Now Euphorbus used to say that he had once been Aethalides and obtained this gift from Hermes, and then he told of the wanderings of his soul, how it migrated hither and thither, into how many plants and animals it had come, and all that it underwent in Hades, and all that the other souls there have to endure. When Euphorbus died, his soul passed into Hermotimus, and he also, wishing to authenticate the story, went up to the temple of Apollo at Branchidae, where he identified the shield which Menelaus, on his voyage home from Troy, had dedicated to Apollo, so he said: the shield being now so rotten through and through that the ivory facing only was left. When Hermotimus died, he became Pyrrhus, a fisherman of Delos, and again he remembered everything, how he was first Aethalides, then Euphorbus, then Hermotimus, and then Pyrrhus. But when Pyrrhus died, he became Pythagoras, and still remembered all the facts mentioned.

There are some who insist, absurdly enough, that Pythagoras left no writings whatever. At all events Heraclitus, the physicist,4 almost shouts in our ear, “Pythagoras, son of Mnesarchus, practised inquiry beyond all other men, and in this selection of his writings made himself a wisdom of his own, showing much learning but poor workmanship.” The occasion of this remark was the opening words of Pythagoras’s treatise On Nature, namely, “Nay, I swear by the air I breathe, I swear by the water I drink, I will never suffer censure on account of this work.” Pythagoras in fact wrote three books. On Education, On Statesmanship, and On Nature. But the book which passes as the work of Pythagoras is by Lysis of Tarentum, a Pythagorean, who fled to Thebes and taught Epaminondas.5 Heraclides, the son of Serapion, in his Epitome of Sotion, says that he also wrote a poem On the Universe, and secondly the Sacred Poem which begins:

Young men, come reverence in quietude

All these my words;

thirdly On the Soul, fourthly Of Piety, fifthly Helothales the Father of Epicharmus of Cos, sixthly Croton, and other works as well. The same authority says that the poem On the Mysteries was written by Hippasus to defame Pythagoras, and that many others written by Aston of Croton were ascribed to Pythagoras. Aristoxenus says that Pythagoras got most of his moral doctrines from the Delphic priestess Themistoclea. According to Ion of Chios in his Triagmi he ascribed some poems of his own making to Orpheus.6 They further attribute to him the Scopiads which begins thus:

Be not shameless, before any man.

Sosicrates in his Successions of Philosophers says that, when Leon the tyrant of Phlius asked him who he was, he said, “A philosopher,”7 and that he compared life to the Great Games, where some went to compete for the prize and others went with wares to sell, but the best as spectators; for similarly, in life, some grow up with servile natures, greedy for fame and gain, but the philosopher seeks for truth. Thus much for this part of the subject.

The contents in general of the aforesaid three treatises of Pythagoras are as follows. He forbids us to pray for ourselves, because we do not know what will help us. Drinking he calls, in a word, a snare, and he discountenances all excess, saying that no one should go beyond due proportion either in drinking or in eating. Of sexual indulgence, too, he says, “Keep to the winter for sexual pleasures, in summer abstain; they are less harmful in autumn and spring, but they are always harmful and not conducive to health.” Asked once when a man should consort with a woman, he replied, “When you want to lose what strength you have.”

He divides man’s life into four quarters thus: “Twenty years a boy, twenty years a youth, twenty years a young man, twenty years an old man; and these four periods correspond to the four seasons, the boy to spring, the youth to summer, the young man to autumn, and the old man to winter,” meaning by youth one not yet grown up and by a young man a man of mature age. According to Timaeus, he was the first to say, “Friends have all things in common” and “Friendship is equality”; indeed, his disciples did put all their possessions into one common stock. For five whole years they had to keep silence, merely listening to his discourses without seeing him,8 until they passed an examination, and thenceforward they were admitted to his house and allowed to see him. They would never use coffins of cypress, because the sceptre of Zeus was made from it, so we are informed by Hermippus in his second book On Pythagoras.

Indeed, his bearing is said to have been most dignified, and his disciples held the opinion about him that he was Apollo come down from the far north. There is a story that once, when he was disrobed, his thigh was seen to be of gold; and when he crossed the river Nessus, quite a number of people said they heard it welcome him. According to Timaeus in the tenth book of his History, he remarked that the consorts of men bore divine names, being called first Virgins, then Brides, and then Mothers.9 He it was who brought geometry to perfection, while it was Moeris who first discovered the beginnings of the elements of geometry: Anticlides in his second book On Alexander 10 affirms this, and further that Pythagoras spent most of his time upon the arithmetical aspect of geometry; he also discovered the musical intervals on the monochord. Nor did he neglect even medicine. We are told by Apollodorus the calculator that he offered a sacrifice of oxen on finding that in a right-angled triangle the square on the hypotenuse is equal to the squares on the sides containing the right angle. And there is an epigram running as follows:11

What time Pythagoras that famed figure found,

For which the noble offering he brought.

He is also said to have been the first to diet athletes on meat, trying first with Eurymenes12 – so we learn from Favorinus in the third book of his Memorabilia – whereas in former times they had trained on dried figs, on butter,13 and even on wheatmeal, as we are told by the same Favorinus in the eighth book of his Miscellaneous History. Some say it was a certain trainer named Pythagoras who instituted this diet,14 and not our Pythagoras, who forbade even the killing, let alone the eating, of animals which share with us the privilege of having a soul. This was the excuse put forward; but his real reason for forbidding animal diet was to practise people and accustom them to simplicity of life, so that they could live on things easily procurable, spreading their tables with uncooked foods and drinking pure water only, for this was the way to a healthy body and a keen mind. Of course the only altar at which he worshipped was that of Apollo the Giver of Life, behind the Altar of Horns at Delos, for thereon were placed flour and meal and cakes, without the use of fire, and there was no animal victim, as we are told by Aristotle in his Constitution of Delos.

He was the first, they say, to declare that the soul, bound now in this creature, now in that, thus goes on a round ordained of necessity. He too, according to Aristoxenus the musician, was the first to introduce weights and measures into Greece. It was he who first declared that the Evening and Morning Stars are the same, as Parmenides maintains.15 So greatly was he admired that his disciples used to be called “prophets to declare the voice of God,” besides which he himself says in a written work that “after two hundred and seven years in Hades he has returned to the land of the living.” Thus it was that they remained his staunch adherents, and men came to hear his words from afar, among them Lucanians, Peucetians, Messapians and Romans.

Down to the time of Philolaus it was not possible to acquire knowledge of any Pythagorean doctrine, and Philolaus alone brought out those three celebrated books which Plato sent a hundred minas to purchase. Not less than six hundred persons went to his evening lectures; and those who were privileged to see him wrote to their friends congratulating themselves on a great piece of good fortune. Moreover, the Metapontines named his house the Temple of Demeter and his porch the Museum, so we learn from Favorinus in his Miscellaneous History. 16 And the rest of the Pythagoreans used to say that not all his doctrines were for all men to hear, our authority for this being Aristoxenus in the tenth book of his Rules of Pedagogy, where we are also told that one of the school, Xenophilus by name, asked by some one how he could best educate his son, replied, “By making him the citizen of a well-governed state.” Throughout Italy Pythagoras made many into good men and true, men too of note like the lawgivers Zaleucus and Charondas; for he had a great gift for friendship, and especially, when he found his own watchwords adopted by anyone, he would immediately take to that man and make a friend of him.

The following were his watchwords or precepts: don’t stir the fire with a knife, don’t step over the beam of a balance, don’t sit down on your bushel,17 don’t eat your heart, don’t help a man off with a load but help him on, always roll your bed-clothes up, don’t put God’s image on the circle of a ring, don’t leave the pan’s imprint on the ashes, don’t wipe up a mess with a torch, don’t commit a nuisance towards the sun, don’t walk the highway, don’t shake hands too eagerly, don’t have swallows under your own roof, don’t keep birds with hooked claws, don’t make water on nor stand upon your nail-and hair-trimmings, turn the sharp blade away, when you go abroad don’t turn round at the frontier.

This is what they meant. Don’t stir the fire with a knife: don’t stir the passions or the swelling pride of the great. Don’t step over the beam of a balance: don’t overstep the bounds of equity and justice. Don’t sit down on your bushel: have the same care of to-day and the future, a bushel being the day’s ration. By not eating your heart he meant not wasting your life in troubles and pains. By saying do not turn round when you go abroad, he meant to advise those who are departing this life not to set their hearts’ desire on living nor to be too much attracted by the pleasures of this life. The explanations of the rest are similar and would take too long to set out.

Above all, he forbade as food red mullet and blacktail, and he enjoined abstinence from the hearts of animals and from beans, and sometimes, according to Aristotle, even from paunch and gurnard. Some say that he contented himself with just some honey or a honeycomb or bread, never touching wine in the daytime, and with greens boiled or raw for dainties, and fish but rarely. His robe was white and spotless, his quilts of white wool, for linen had not yet reached those parts. He was never known to over-eat, to behave loosely, or to be drunk. He would avoid laughter and all pandering to tastes such as insulting jests and vulgar tales. He would punish neither slave nor free man in anger. Admonition he used to call “setting right.” He used to practise divination by sounds or voices and by auguries, never by burnt-offerings, beyond frankincense. The offerings he made were always inanimate; though some say that he would offer cocks, sucking goats and porkers, as they are called, but lambs never. However, Aristoxenus has it that he consented to the eating of all other animals, and only abstained from ploughing oxen and rams.

The same authority, as we have seen, asserts that Pythagoras took his doctrines from the Delphic priestess Themistoclea. Hieronymus, however, says that, when he had descended into Hades, he saw the soul of Hesiod bound fast to a brazen pillar and gibbering, and the soul of Homer hung on a tree with serpents writhing about it, this being their punishment for what they had said about the gods; he also saw under torture those who would not remain faithful to their wives. This, says our authority, is why he was honoured by the people of Croton. Aristippus of Cyrene affirms in his work On the Physicists that he was named Pythagoras because he uttered the truth as infallibly as did the Pythian oracle.18

He is said to have advised his disciples as follows: Always to say on entering their own doors:

Where did I trespass? What did I achieve?

And unfulfilled what duties did I leave?

Not to let victims be brought for sacrifice to the gods, and to worship only at the altar unstained with blood. Not to call the gods to witness, man’s duty being rather to strive to make his own word carry conviction. To honour their elders, on the principle that precedence in time gives a greater title to respect; for as in the world sunrise comes before sunset, so in human life the beginning before the end, and in all organic life birth precedes death. And he further bade them to honour gods before demi-gods, heroes before men, and first among men their parents; and so to behave one to another as not to make friends into enemies, but to turn enemies into friends. To deem nothing their own. To support the law, to wage war on lawlessness. Never to kill or injure trees that are not wild, nor even any animal that does not injure man. That it is seemly and advisable neither to give way to unbridled laughter nor to wear sullen looks. To avoid excess of flesh, on a journey to let exertion and slackening alternate, to train the memory, in wrath to restrain hand and tongue, to respect all divination, to sing to the lyre and by hymns to show due gratitude to gods and to good men. To abstain from beans because they are flatulent and partake most of the breath of life; and besides, it is better for the stomach if they are not taken, and this again will make our dreams in sleep smooth and untroubled.

Alexander in his Successions of Philosophers says that he found in the Pythagorean memoirs the following tenets as well.19 The principle of all things is the monad or unit; arising from this monad the undefined dyad or two serves as material substratum to the monad, which is cause; from the monad and the undefined dyad spring numbers; from numbers, points; from points, lines; from lines, plane figures; from plane figures, solid figures; from solid figures, sensible bodies, the elements of which are four, fire, water, earth and air; these elements interchange and turn into one another completely, and combine to produce a universe animate, intelligent, spherical, with the earth at its centre, the earth itself too being spherical and inhabited round about. There are also antipodes, and our “down” is their “up.” Light and darkness have equal part20 in the universe, so have hot and cold, and dry and moist; and of these, if hot preponderates, we have summer; if cold, winter; if dry, spring; if moist, late autumn. If all are in equilibrium, we have the best periods of the year, of which the freshness of spring constitutes the healthy season, and the decay of late autumn the unhealthy. So too, in the day, freshness belongs to the morning, and decay to the evening, which is therefore more unhealthy. The air about the earth is stagnant and unwholesome, and all within it is mortal; but the uppermost air is ever-moved and pure and healthy, and all within it is immortal and consequently divine. The sun, the moon, and the other stars are gods; for, in them, there is a preponderance of heat, and heat is the cause of life. The moon is illumined by the sun. Gods and men are akin, inasmuch as man partakes of heat; therefore God takes thought for man. Fate is the cause of things being thus ordered both as a whole and separately. The sun’s ray penetrates through the aether, whether cold or dense – the air they call cold aether, and the sea and moisture dense aether – and this ray descends even to the depths and for this reason quickens all things. All things live which partake of heat – this is why plants are living things – but all have not soul, which is a detached part of aether, partly the hot and partly the cold, for it partakes of cold aether too. Soul is distinct from life; it is immortal, since that from which it is detached is immortal. Living creatures are reproduced from one another by germination; there is no such thing as spontaneous generation from earth. The germ is a clot of brain containing hot vapour within it; and this, when brought to the womb, throws out, from the brain, ichor, fluid and blood, whence are formed flesh, sinews, bones, hairs, and the whole of the body, while soul and sense come from the vapour within. First congealing in about forty days, it receives form and, according to the ratios of “harmony,” in seven, nine, or at the most ten, months, the mature child is brought forth. It has in it all the relations constituting life, and these, forming a continuous series, keep it together according to the ratios of harmony, each appearing at regulated intervals. Sense generally, and sight in particular, is a certain unusually hot vapour. This is why it is said to see through air and water, because the hot aether is resisted by the cold; for, if the vapour in the eyes had been cold, it would have been dissipated on meeting the air, its like. As it is, in certain [lines] he calls the eyes the portals of the sun. His conclusion is the same with regard to hearing and the other senses.

The soul of man, he says, is divided into three parts, intelligence, reason, and passion. Intelligence and passion are possessed by other animals as well, but reason by man alone. The seat of the soul extends from the heart to the brain; the part of it which is in the heart is passion, while the parts located in the brain are reason and intelligence. The senses are distillations from these. Reason is immortal, all else mortal. The soul draws nourishment from the blood; the faculties21 of the soul are winds, for they as well as the soul are invisible, just as the aether is invisible. The veins, arteries, and sinews are the bonds of the soul. But when it is strong and settled down into itself, reasonings and deeds become its bonds. When cast out upon the earth, it wanders in the air like the body. Hermes is the steward of souls, and for that reason is called Hermes the Escorter, Hermes the Keeper of the Gate, and Hermes of the Underworld, since it is he who brings in the souls from their bodies both by land and sea; and the pure are taken into the uppermost region, but the impure are not permitted to approach the pure or each other, but are bound by the Furies in bonds unbreakable. The whole air is full of souls which are called genii22 or heroes; these are they who send men dreams and signs of future disease and health, and not to men alone, but to sheep also and cattle as well; and it is to them that purifications and lustrations, all divination, omens and the like, have reference. The most momentous thing in human life is the art of winning the soul to good or to evil. Blest are the men who acquire a good soul; 23 they can never be at rest, nor ever keep the same course two days together.

Right has the force of an oath, and that is why Zeus is called the God of Oaths. Virtue is harmony, and so are health and all good and God himself; this is why they say that all things are constructed according to the laws of harmony. The love of friends is just concord and equality. We should not pay equal worship to gods and heroes, but to the gods always, with reverent silence, in white robes, and after purification, to the heroes only from midday onwards. Purification is by cleansing, baptism and lustration, and by keeping clean from all deaths and births and all pollution, and abstaining from meat and flesh of animals that have died, mullets, gurnards, eggs and egg-sprung animals, beans, and the other abstinences prescribed by those who perform mystic rites in the temples. According to Aristotle in his work On the Pythagoreans, Pythagoras counselled abstinence from beans either because they are like the genitals, or because they are like the gates of Hades.  . . as being alone unjointed, or because they are injurious, or because they are like the form of the universe, or because they belong to oligarchy, since they are used in election by lot. He bade his disciples not to pick up fallen crumbs, either in order to accustom them not to eat immoderately, or because connected with a person’s death; nay, even, according to Aristophanes, crumbs belong to the heroes, for in his Heroes he says:24

Nor taste ye of what falls beneath the board !

Another of his precepts was not to eat white cocks, as being sacred to the Month and wearing suppliant garb – now supplication ranked with things good – sacred to the Month because they announce the time of day; and again white represents the nature of the good, black the nature of evil. Not to touch such fish as were sacred; for it is not right that gods and men should be allotted the same things, any more than free men and slaves. Not to break bread; for once friends used to meet over one loaf, as the barbarians do even to this day; and you should not divide bread which brings them together; some give as the explanation of this that it has reference to the judgement of the dead in Hades, others that bread makes cowards in war, others again that it is from it that the whole world begins.25

He held that the most beautiful figure is the sphere among solids, and the circle among plane figures. Old age may be compared to everything that is decreasing, while youth is one with increase. Health means retention of the form, disease its destruction. Of salt he said it should be brought to table to remind us of what is right; for salt preserves whatever it finds, and it arises from the purest sources, sun and sea.

This is what Alexander says that he found in the Pythagorean memoirs.26 What follows is Aristotle’s.

But Pythagoras’s great dignity not even Timon overlooked, who, although he digs at him in his Silli,27 speaks of

Pythagoras, inclined to witching works and ways,

Man-snarer, fond of noble periphrase.

Xenophanes28 confirms the statement about his having been different people at different times in the elegiacs beginning:

Now other thoughts, another path, I show.

What he says of him is as follows:

They say that, passing a belaboured whelp,

He, full of pity, spake these words of dole:

“Stay, smite not ! ’Tis a friend, a human soul;

I knew him straight whenas I heard him yelp !”

Thus Xenophanes. But Cratinus also lampooned him both in the Pythagorizing Woman and also in The Tarentines, where we read:29

They are wont,

If haply they a foreigner do find,

To hold a cross-examination

Of doctrines’ worth, to trouble and confound him

With terms, equations, and antitheses

Brain-bung’d with magnitudes and periphrases.

Again, Mnesimachus in the Alcmaeon:30

To Loxias we sacrifice: Pythagoras his rite,

Of nothing that is animate we ever take a bite.

And Aristophon in the Pythagorist:31

a. He told how he travelled in Hades and looked on the dwellers below,

How each of them lives, but how different by far from the lives of the dead

Were the lives of the Pythagoreans, for these alone, so he said,

Were suffered to dine with King Pluto, which was for their piety’s sake.

b. What an ill-tempered god for whom such swine, such creatures good company make;

and in the same later:

Their food is just greens, and to wet it pure water is all that they drink;

And the want of a bath, and the vermin, and their old threadbare coats so do stink

That none of the rest will come near them.

Pythagoras met his death in this wise.32 As he sat one day among his acquaintances at the house of Milo, it chanced that the house was set ablaze out of jealousy by one of the people who were not accounted worthy of admittance to his presence, though some say it was the work of the inhabitants of Croton anxious to safeguard themselves against the setting-up of a tyranny. Pythagoras was caught as he tried to escape; he got as far as a certain field of beans, where he stopped, saying he would be captured rather than cross it, and be killed rather than prate about his doctrines; and so his pursuers cut his throat.33 So also were murdered more than half of his disciples, to the number of forty or thereabouts; but a very few escaped, including Archippus of Tarentum and Lysis, already mentioned.

Dicaearchus, however, says that Pythagoras died a fugitive in the temple of the Muses at Metapontum after forty days’ starvation. Heraclides, in his Epitome of the Lives of Satyrus, says that, after burying Pherecydes at Delos, he returned to Italy and, when he found Cylon of Croton giving a luxurious banquet to all and sundry, retired to Metapontum to end his days there by starvation, having no wish to live longer. On the other hand, Hermippus relates that, when the men of Agrigentum and Syracuse were at war, Pythagoras and his disciples went out and fought in the van of the army of the Agrigentines, and, their line being turned, he was killed by the Syracusans as he was trying to avoid the beanfield; the rest, about thirty-five in number, were burned at the stake in Tarentum for trying to set up a government in opposition to those in power.

Hermippus gives another anecdote. Pythagoras, on coming to Italy, made a subterranean dwelling and enjoined on his mother to mark and record all that passed, and at what hour, and to send her notes down to him until he should ascend. She did so. Pythagoras some time afterwards came up withered and looking like a skeleton, then went into the assembly and declared he had been down to Hades, and even read out his experiences to them. They were so affected that they wept and wailed and looked upon him as divine, going so far as to send their wives to him in hopes that they would learn some of his doctrines; and so they were called Pythagorean women. Thus far Hermippus.

Pythagoras had a wife, Theano by name, daughter of Brontinus of Croton, though some call her Brontinus’s wife and Pythagoras’s pupil. He had a daughter Damo, according to the letter of Lysis to Hippasus, which says of him, “I am told by many that you discourse publicly, a thing which Pythagoras deemed unworthy, for certain it is that, when he entrusted his daughter Damo with the custody of his memoirs, he solemnly charged her never to give them to anyone outside his house. And, although she could have sold the writings for a large sum of money, she would not, but reckoned poverty and her father’s solemn injunctions more precious than gold, for all that she was a woman.”

They also had a son Telauges, who succeeded his father and, according to some, was Empedocles’ instructor. At all events Hippobotus makes Empedocles say:34

Telauges, famed

Son of Theano and Pythagoras.

Telauges wrote nothing, so far as we know, but his mother Theano wrote a few things. Further, a story is told that being asked how many days it was before a woman becomes pure after intercourse, she replied, “With her own husband at once, with another man never.” And she advised a woman going in to her own husband to put off her shame with her clothes, and on leaving him to put it on again along with them. Asked “Put on what?” she replied, “What makes me to be called a woman.”

To return to Pythagoras. According to Heraclides, the son of Serapion, he was eighty years old when he died, and this agrees with his own description of the life of man, though most authorities say he was ninety. And there are jesting lines of my own upon him as follows:35

Not thou alone from all things animate

Didst keep, Pythagoras. All food is dead

When boil’d and bak’d and salt-besprinkle-d;

For then it surely is inanimate.


So wise was wise Pythagoras that he

Would touch no meats, but called it impious,

Bade others eat. Good wisdom: not for us

To do the wrong; let others impious be.

And again:37

If thou wouldst know the mind of old Pythagoras,

Look on Euphorbus’ buckler and its boss.

He says “I’ve lived before.” If, when he says he was,

He was not, he was no-one when he was.

And again, of the manner of his death:38

Woe! Woe! Whence, Pythagoras, this deep reverence for beans? Why did he fall in the midst of his disciples? A bean-field there was he durst not cross; sooner than trample on it, he endured to be slain at the cross-roads by the men of Acragas.

He flourished in the 60th Olympiad39 and his school lasted until the ninth or tenth generation. For the last of the Pythagoreans, whom Aristoxenus in his time saw, were Xenophilus from the Thracian Chalcidice, Phanton of Phlius, and Echecrates, Diocles and Polymnastus, also of Phlius, who were pupils of Philolaus and Eurytus of Tarentum.

There were four men of the name of Pythagoras living about the same time and at no great distance from one another: (1) of Croton, a man with tyrannical leanings; (2) of Phlius, an athlete, some say a trainer; (3) of Zacynthus; (4) our subject, who discovered the secrets of philosophy 40, and to whom was applied the phrase, “The Master said” (Ipse dixit ), which passed into a proverb of ordinary life. Some say there was also another Pythagoras, a sculptor of Rhegium, who is thought to have been the first to aim at rhythm and symmetry; another a sculptor of Samos; another a bad orator; another a doctor who wrote on hernia and also compiled some things about Homer; and yet another who, so we are told by Dionysius, wrote a history of the Dorian race. Eratosthenes says, according to what we learn from Favorinus in the eighth book of his Miscellaneous History, that the last-named was the first to box scientifically, in the 48th Olympiad,41 keeping his hair long and wearing a purple robe; and that when he was excluded with ridicule from the boys’ contest, he went at once to the men’s and won that; this is declared by Theaetetus’s epigram:42

Know’st one Pythagoras, long-haired Pythagoras,

The far-fam’d boxer of the Samians?

I am Pythagoras; ask the Elians

What were my feats, thou’lt not believe the tale.

Favorinus says that our philosopher used definitions throughout the subject matter of mathematics; their use was extended by Socrates and his disciples, and afterwards by Aristotle and the Stoics.

Further, we are told that he was the first to call the heaven the universe and the earth spherical,43 though Theophrastus says it was Parmenides, and Zeno that it was Hesiod. It is said that Cylon was a rival of Pythagoras, as Antilochus44 was of Socrates.

Pythagoras the athlete was also the subject of another epigram as follows:45

Gone to box with other lads

Is the lad Pythagoras,

Gone to the games Olympian

Crates’ son the Samian.

The philosopher also wrote the following letter:

Pythagoras to Anaximenes.

“Even you, O most excellent of men, were you no better born and famed than Pythagoras, would have risen and departed from Miletus. But now your ancestral glory has detained you as it had detained me were I Anaximenes’s peer. But if you, the best men, abandon your cities, then will their good order perish, and the peril from the Medes will increase. For always to scan the heavens is not well, but more seemly is it to be provident for one’s mother country. For I too am not altogether in my discourses but am found no less in the wars which the Italians wage with one another.”

Having now finished our account of Pythagoras, we have next to speak of the noteworthy Pythagoreans; after them will come the philosophers whom some denominate “sporadic” [i.e. belonging to no particular school]; and then, in the next place, we will append the succession of all those worthy of notice as far as Epicurus, in the way that we promised. We have already treated of Theano and Telauges: so now we have first to speak of Empedocles, for some say he was a pupil of Pythagoras.

1 Compare Clement Alex. Strom. i. 62 Πυθαγόρας μὲν οὖν Μνησάρχου Σάμιος, ὥς φησιν Ἱππόβοτος, ὡς δὲ Ἀριστόξενος ἐν τῷ Πυθαγόρου βίῳ, καὶ Ἀρίσταρχος καὶ Θεόπομπος, Τυρρηνὸς ἦν, ὡς δὲ Νεάνθης, Σύριος ἢ Τύριος, ὥστε εἷναι κατὰ τοὺς πλείστους τὸν Πυθαγόραν βάρβαρον τὸ γένος. Porphyry also (V. Pyth. i.) favours the connexion with Phoenicia, so that the boy Pythagoras was instructed there by Chaldaeans before, on his return to Samos, he enjoyed the instruction of Pherecydes of Syros and of Hermodamas of Samos.

2 iv. 93 sq.

3 Compare Clement Alex. Strom. i. 66 Θαλῆς.  . . τοῖς Αἱγυπτίων προφήταις συμβεβληκέναι εἴρηται, καθάπερ καὶ ὁ Πυθαγόρας αὐτοῖς γε τούτοις δι’ οὓς καὶ περιετέμνετο, ἵνα δὴ καὶ εἰς τὰ ἄδυτα κατελθὼν τὴν μνστικὴν παρὰ Αλγυπτίων ἐκμάθοι φιλοσοφίαν. Cf. also Iamblichus, Vit. Pyth. 18 sq.

4 Fr. 129 D., 17 B.

5 6-7 ἔνιοι μὲν καθηγησαμένου. Hesychius in Suidas (s.v.), an authority older than Schol. Plat. 600 B, proves that this passage is a coherent whole. The fragment of Heraclitus (B 129 Diels, 17 Byw.) is certainly genuine. There may be, in ἱστορίην, an allusion to the study of mensuration in Egypt. The pretended explanation, “he spoke thus because.  . .” introduces an extract from a work which, like all those attributed to Pythagoras, must have been a late forgery.

6 F.H.G. Fr. 12, ii. p. 49. The same fragment is found in Clem. Alex. Strom. i. 131 Ἴων δὲ ὁ Χῖος ἐν τοῖς Τριαγμοῖς καὶ Πυθαγόραν εἰς Ὀρφέα ἀνενεγκεῖν τινα ἱστορεῖ. The verbal agreement, except for τινα ἱστορεῖ, is exact.

7 Cf. i. 12, whence it would seem that Sosicrates used Heraclides of Pontus as his authority for this anecdote.

8 Because he lectured at night; cf. 15; νυκτερινὴ ἀκρόασις.

9 The allusion is to the Nymphs and the heavenly pair, mother and daughter (Demeter and Persephone).

10 Scriptorum Alex. ill. fr. p. 147.

11 Anth. Pal. vii. 119.

12 The story of Eurymenes was known to Porphyry, Vit. Pyth. 18. We can still see how these quotations made by D. L. himself from Favorinus disturb the context.

13 Or rather “soft cheese”; cf. supra, i. 7, note.

14 Cf. Iamblichus, Vit. Pyth. 25, and Porphyry, De abstinentia, i. 26.

15 Cf. inf. ix. 23.

16 See, however, Porphyry, Vit. Pyth. 4, who cites as his authority Timaeus the Sicilian historian (F.H.G. i. p. 211, Fr. 78), who was not improbably the source used by Favorinus.

17 The χοῖνιξ was about a quart, in dry measure.

18 The word Πυθαγόρας being taken to be a compound from Πύθιος and ἀγορεύειν.

19 For the doctrines of Pythagoras (25-35) Alexander is taken as D. L.’s authority (see Introd. pp. xxvi, xxvii) This indefatigable pedant is known to have written a special work on the Pythagorean system. Our author may not have possessed this work by Alexander, but he probably had access to a public library containing it. In any case he deserves praise for the selection. Between Alexander Polyhistor in the first century B.C. and the threshold of the third century A.D. there had been an enormous increase in neo-Pythagorean literature, mostly dealing with mystical properties of numbers and with ethics based upon theology. All this D. L. ignores, going back to a Hellenistic document long forgotten.

20 Cf. Soph. El. 87 γῆς ἰσόμοιρ’ ἀήρ.

21 The word λόγους is translated above by “ratios,” i.e. proportionalities. With ἀνέμους compare the Stoic air-currents.

22 The Greek daemons (δαίμονες) are, according to Hesiod, W. and D. 121-126, superhuman beings, guardians and benefactors of mankind, watching over the earth whereon once they lived.

23 if it be bad

24 Meineke, C.G.F. ii. 1070.

25 This may have some hidden sense: but it is tempting to adopt τόπου for τούτου with the Borbonicus.

26 Alexander is cited above(24). εὑρηκέναι comes in both sections. This means that, in the Lives of Pythagoras which D. L. consulted, the extract from Alexander has displaced a passage which came from a spurious Aristotelian treatise Περὶ Πυθαγορείων.

27 Fr. 58 D.

28 Fr. 7 D.

29 Cratin. minor, Meineke, C.G.F. iii. 376.

30 Meineke, C.G.F. iii. 567.

31 Meineke, C.G.F. iii. 362.

32 In the account which follows two passages should be distinguished: (1) συνεδρεύοντος συνέβη, and (2) οὔτω δὲ καὶ(40) ἀσιτήσαντα. A similar combination of Neanthes and Dicaearchus is found in Porphyry, Vit. Pyth. 55 sqq., Neanthes apparently insisting on the absence, and Dicaearchus on the presence, of the master at the time when the brotherhood were attacked and scattered. Iamblichus, Vit. Pyth. 251 sq., cites Nicomachus, whose version agrees with that of Neanthes.

33 This passage, partly in direct (γενόμενος, ἔστη, εἰπών) and partly in reported speech (καταληφθῆναι. ἀποσφαγῆναι), receives some light from the story of Myllias and his wife Timycha as given by Iamblichus, Vit. Pyth. 189-194, on the authority of Hippobotus and Neanthes (cf. also Porphyry, Vit. Pyth. 61, where the story of Damon and Phintias is said to have been transferred by Hippobotus and Neanthes to the same trusty pair, Myllias and Timycha). The story in Iamblichus represents a band of Pythagoreans pursued by a tyrant’s myrmidons and caught in a plain where beans were growing, all of them preferring to die where they stood rather than trample on the beans; but this story might be located anywhere. It has nothing inherently to do with the end of Pythagoras. What remains, τὸν δὲ Π. καταληφθῆναι διεξιόντα, may be compared with Porphyry, Vit. Pyth. 57, where we are told that the disciples made a bridge of their own bodies over the fire and thus the master escaped from the burning house but, in despair at the extinction of his school, chose a voluntary dealth. The words οὕτω δέ which follow come in awkwardly, as they are separated from the sentence about the fire.

34 Fr. 155 D.

35 Anth. Pal. vii. 121.

36 Anth. Plan. v. 34.

37 Anth. Plan. v. 35.

38 Anth. Pal. vii. 122.

39 540-536 B.C. Cf. Clem. Alex. Strom. i. 65 “in the 62nd Olympiad” [532-528 B.C.], eight years later, and contemporary with Polycrates of Samos.

40 and taught them

41 588-584 B.C.

42 Anth. Plan. iii. 35.

43 As Favorinus seems to have paid special attention to discoveries and the invention of names (cf. ii. 1, 20, viii. 12, 47, ix. 23, 34), it seems likely that he is our author’s authority here; so probably a different book of Favorinus is cited.

44 Apelt suggests Antiphon, comparing Xen. Mem. i. 6.

45 Anth. Plan. iii. 16.


Empedocles was, according to Hippobotus, the son of Meton and grandson of Empedocles, and was a native of Agrigentum. This is confirmed by Timaeus in the fifteenth book of his Histories, and he adds that Empedocles, the poet’s grandfather, had been a man of distinction. Hermippus also agrees with Timaeus. So, too, Heraclides, in his treatise On Diseases,46 says that he was of an illustrious family, his grandfather having kept racehorses. Eratosthenes also in his Olympic Victories records, on the authority of Aristotle, that the father of Meton was a victor in the 71st Olympiad.47 The grammarian Apollodorus in his Chronology tells us that

He was the son of Meton, and Glaucus says he went to Thurii, just then founded.48

Then farther on he adds:

Those who relate that, being exiled from his home, he went to Syracuse and fought in their ranks against the Athenians seem, in my judgement at least, to be completely mistaken. For by that time either he was no longer living or in extreme old age, which is inconsistent with the story.

For Aristotle and Heraclides both affirm that he died at the age of sixty. The victor with the riding-horse in the 71st Olympiad was

This man’s namesake and grandfather,

so that Apollodorus in one and the same passage indicates the date as well as the fact.

But Satyrus in his Lives states that Empedocles was the son of Exaenetus and himself left a son named Exaenetus, and that in the same Olympiad Empedocles himself was victorious in the horse-race and his son in wrestling, or, as Heraclides49 in his Epitome has it, in the foot-race. I found50 in the Memorabilia of Favorinus a statement that Empedocles feasted the sacred envoys on a sacrificial ox made of honey and barley-meal, and that he had a brother named Callicratides. Telauges, the son of Pythagoras, in his letter to Philolaus calls Empedocles the son of Archinomus.

That he belonged to Agrigentum in Sicily he himself testifies at the beginning of his Purifications:51

My friends, who dwell in the great city sloping down to yellow Acragas, hard by the citadel.

So much for his family.

Timaeus in the ninth book of his Histories says he was a pupil of Pythagoras, adding that, having been convicted at that time of stealing his discourses, he was, like Plato, excluded from taking part in the discussions of the school; and further, that Empedocles himself mentions Pythagoras in the lines:52

And there lived among them a man of superhuman knowledge, who verily possessed the greatest wealth of wisdom.

Others say that it is to Parmenides that he is here referring.

Neanthes states that down to the time of Philolaus and Empedocles all Pythagoreans were admitted to the discussions. But when Empedocles himself made them public property by his poem, they made a law that they should not be imparted to any poet. He says the same thing also happened to Plato, for he too was excommunicated. But which of the Pythagoreans it was who had Empedocles for a pupil he did not say. For the epistle commonly attributed to Telauges and the statement that Empedocles was the pupil of both Hippasus and Brontinus he held to be unworthy of credence.

Theophrastus affirms that he was an admirer of Parmenides and imitated him in his verses, for Parmenides too had published his treatise On Nature in verse. But Hermippus’s account is that he was an admirer not so much of Parmenides as of Xenophanes, with whom in fact he lived and whose writing of poetry he imitated, and that his meeting with the Pythagoreans was subsequent. Alcidamas tells us in his treatise on Physics that Zeno and Empedocles were pupils of Parmenides about the same time, that afterwards they left him, and that, while Zeno framed his own system, Empedocles became the pupil of Anaxagoras and Pythagoras, emulating the latter in dignity of life and bearing, and the former in his physical investigations.

Aristotle in his Sophist calls Empedocles the inventor of rhetoric as Zeno of dialectic. In his treatise On Poets he says that Empedocles was of Homer’s school and powerful in diction, being great in metaphors and in the use of all other poetical devices. He also says that he wrote other poems, in particular the invasion of Xerxes and a hymn to Apollo, which a sister of his (or, according to Hieronymus, his daughter) afterwards burnt. The hymn she destroyed unintentionally, but the poem on the Persian war deliberately, because it was unfinished. And in general terms he says he wrote both tragedies and political discourses. But Heraclides, the son of Sarapion, attributes the tragedies to a different author. Hieronymus declares that he had come across forty-three of these plays, while Neanthes tells us that Empedocles wrote these tragedies in his youth, and that he, Neanthes, was acquainted with seven of them.

Satyrus in his Lives says that he was also a physician and an excellent orator: at all events Gorgias of Leontini, a man pre-eminent in oratory and the author of a treatise on the art, had been his pupil. Of Gorgias Apollodorus says in his Chronology that he lived to be one hundred and nine. Satyrus quotes this same Gorgias as saying that he himself was present when Empedocles performed magical feats. Nay more: he contends that Empedocles in his poems lays claim to this power and to much besides when he says:53

And thou shalt learn all the drugs that are a defence to ward off ills and old age, since for thee alone shall I accomplish all this. Thou shalt arrest the violence of the unwearied winds that arise and sweep the earth, laying waste the cornfields with their blasts; and again, if thou so will, thou shalt call back winds in requital. Thou shalt make after the dark rain a seasonable drought for men, and again after the summer drought thou shalt cause tree-nourishing streams to pour from the sky. Thou shalt bring back from Hades a dead man’s strength.

Timaeus also in the eighteenth54 book of his Histories remarks that Empedocles has been admired on many grounds. For instance, when the etesian winds once began to blow violently and to damage the crops, he ordered asses to be flayed and bags to be made of their skin. These he stretched out here and there on the hills and headlands to catch the wind and, because this checked the wind, he was called the “wind-stayer.” Heraclides in his book On Diseases 55 says that he furnished Pausanias with the facts about the woman in a trance. This Pausanias, according to Aristippus and Satyrus, was his bosom-friend, to whom he dedicated his poem On Nature thus:56

Give ear, Pausanias, thou son of Anchitus the wise!

Moreover he wrote an epigram upon him:57

The physician Pausanias, rightly so named, son of Anchitus, descendant of Asclepius, was born and bred at Gela. Many a wight pining in fell torments did he bring back from Persephone’s inmost shrine.

At all events Heraclides testifies that the case of the woman in a trance was such that for thirty days he kept her body without pulsation though she never breathed; and for that reason Heraclides called him not merely a physician but a diviner as well, deriving the titles from the following lines also:58

My friends, who dwell in the grcat city sloping down to yellow Acragas, hard by the citadel, busied with goodly works, all hail! I go about among you an immortal god, no more a mortal, so honoured of all, as is meet, crowned with fillets and flowery garlands. Straightway as soon as I enter with these, men and women, into flourishing towns, I am reverenced and tens of thousands follow, to learn where is the path which leads to welfare, some desirous of oracles, others suffering from all kinds of diseases, desiring to hear a message of healing.

Timaeus explains that he called Agrigentum great, inasmuch as it had 800,000 inhabitants.59 Hence Empedocles, he continues, speaking of their luxury, said, “The Agrigentines live delicately as if tomorrow they would die, but they build their houses well as if they thought they would live for ever.”

It is said that Cleomenes the rhapsode recited this very poem, the Purifications, at Olympia:60 so Favorinus in his Memorabilia. Aristotle too declares him to have been a champion of freedom and averse to rule of every kind, seeing that, as Xanthus relates in his account of him, he declined the kingship when it was offered to him, obviously because he preferred a frugal life. With this Timaeus agrees, at the same time giving the reason why Empedocles favoured democracy, namely, that, having been invited to dine with one of the magistrates, when the dinner had gone on some time and no wine was put on the table, though the other guests kept quiet, he, becoming indignant, ordered wine to be brought. Then the host confessed that he was waiting for the servant of the senate to appear. When he came he was made master of the revels, clearly by the arrangement of the host, whose design of making himself tyrant was but thinly veiled, for he ordered the guests either to drink wine or have it poured over their heads. For the time being Empedocles was reduced to silence; the next day he impeached both of them, the host and the master of the revels, and secured their condemnation and execution. This, then, was the beginning of his political career.

Again, when Acron the physician asked the council for a site on which to build a monument to his father, who had been eminent among physicians, Empedocles came forward and forbade it in a speech where he enlarged upon equality and in particular put the following question: “But what inscription shall we put upon it? Shall it be this?

Acron the eminent physician of Agrigentum, son of Acros, is buried beneath the steep eminence of his most eminent native city?”61

Others give as the second line:

Is laid in an exalted tomb on a most exalted peak.

Some attribute this couplet to Simonides.

Subsequently Empedocles broke up the assembly of the Thousand three years after it had been set up, which proves not only that he was wealthy but that he favoured the popular cause. At all events Timaeus in his eleventh and twelfth books (for he mentions him more than once) states that he seems to have held opposite views when in public life and when writing poetry.62 In some passages one may see that he is boastful and selfish. At any rate these are his words:63

All hail! I go about among you an immortal god, no more a mortal, etc.

At the time when he visited Olympia he demanded an excessive deference, so that never was anyone so talked about in gatherings of friends as Empedocles.

Subsequently, however, when Agrigentum came to regret him, the descendants of his personal enemies opposed his return home; and this was why he went to Peloponnesus, where he died. Nor did Timon let even him alone, but fastens upon him in these words:64

Empedocles, too, mouthing tawdry verses; to all that had independent force, he gave a separate existence; and the principles he chose need others to explain them.

As to his death different accounts are given. Thus Heraclides,65 after telling the story of the woman in a trance, how that Empedocles became famous because he had sent away the dead woman alive, goes on to say that he was offering a sacrifice close to the field of Peisianax. Some of his friends had been invited to the sacrifice, including Pausanias. Then, after the feast, the remainder of the company dispersed and retired to rest, some under the trees in the adjoining field, others wherever they chose, while Empedocles himself remained on the spot where he had reclined at table. At daybreak all got up, and he was the only one missing. A search was made, and they questioned the servants, who said they did not know where he was. Thereupon someone said that in the middle of the night he heard an exceedingly loud voice calling Empedocles. Then he got up and beheld a light in the heavens and a glitter of lamps, but nothing else. His hearers were amazed at what had occurred, and Pausanias came down and sent people to search for him. But later he bade them take no further trouble, for things beyond expectation had happened to him, and it was their duty to sacrifice to him since he was now a god.

Hermippus tells us that Empedocles cured Panthea, a woman of Agrigentum, who had been given up by the physicians, and this was why he was offering sacrifice, and that those invited were about eighty in number. Hippobotus, again, asserts that, when he got up, he set out on his way to Etna; then, when he had reached it, he plunged into the fiery craters and disappeared, his intention being to confirm the report that he had become a god. Afterwards the truth was known, because one of his slippers was thrown up in the flames; it had been his custom to wear slippers of bronze. To this story Pausanias is made (by Heraclides) to take exception.66

Diodorus of Ephesus, when writing of Anaximander, declares that Empedocles emulated him, displaying theatrical arrogance and wearing stately robes. We are told that the people of Selinus suffered from pestilence owing to the noisome smells from the river hard by, so that the citizens themselves perished and their women died in childbirth, that Empedocles conceived the plan of bringing two neighbouring rivers to the place at his own expense, and that by this admixture he sweetened the waters. When in this way the pestilence had been stayed and the Selinuntines were feasting on the river bank, Empedocles appeared; and the company rose up and worshipped and prayed to him as to a god. It was then to confirm this belief of theirs that he leapt into the fire. These stories are contradicted by Timaeus, who expressly says that he left Sicily for Peloponnesus and never returned at all; and this is the reason Timaeus gives for the fact that the manner of his death is unknown. He replies to Heraclides, whom he mentions by name, in his fourteenth book. Pisianax, he says, was a citizen of Syracuse and possessed no land at Agrigentum. Further, if such a story had been in circulation, Pausanias would have set up a monument to his friend, as to a god, in the form of a statue or shrine, for he was a wealthy man. “How came he,” adds Timaeus, “to leap into the craters, which he had never once mentioned though they were not far off? He must then have died in Peloponnesus. It is not at all surprising that his tomb is not found; the same is true of many other men.” After urging some such arguments Timaeus goes on to say, “But Heraclides is everywhere just such a collector of absurdities, telling us, for instance, that a man dropped down to earth from the moon.”

Hippobotus assures us that formerly there was in Agrigentum a statue of Empedocles with his head covered, and afterwards another with the head uncovered in front of the Senate House at Rome, which plainly the Romans had removed to that site. For portrait-statues with inscriptions are extant even now. Neanthes of Cyzicus, who tells about the Pythagoreans, relates that, after the death of Meton, the germs of a tyranny began to show themselves, that then it was Empedocles who persuaded the Agrigentines to put an end to their factions and cultivate equality in politics.

Moreover, from his abundant means he bestowed dowries upon many of the maidens of the city who had no dowry. No doubt it was the same means that enabled him to don a purple robe and over it a golden girdle, as Favorinus relates in his Memorabilia, and again slippers of bronze and a Delphic laurel-wreath. He had thick hair, and a train of boy attendants. He himself was always grave, and kept this gravity of demeanour unshaken. In such sort would he appear in public; when the citizens met him, they recognized in this demeanour the stamp, as it were, of royalty. But afterwards, as he was going in a carriage to Messene to attend some festival, he fell and broke his thigh; this brought an illness which caused his death at the age of seventy-seven. Moreover, his tomb is in Megara.

As to his age, Aristotle’s account is different, for he makes him to have been sixty when he died; while others make him one hundred and nine. He flourished in the 84th Olympiad.67 Demetrius of Troezen in his pamphlet Against the Sophists said of him, adapting the words of Homer:68

He tied a noose that hung aloft from a tall cornel-tree and thrust his neck into it, and his soul went down to Hades.

In the short letter of Telauges which was mentioned above69 it is stated that by reason of his age he slipped into the sea and was drowned. Thus and thus much of his death.

There is an epigram of my own on him in my Pammetros in a satirical vein, as follows:70

Thou, Empedocles, didst cleanse thy body with nimble flame, fire didst thou drink from everlasting bowls.71 I will not say that of thine own will thou didst hurl thyself into the stream of Etna; thou didst fall in against thy will when thou wouldst fain not have been found out.

And another:72

Verily there is a tale about the death of Empedocles, how that once he fell from a carriage and broke his right thigh. But if he leapt into the bowls of fire and so took a draught of life, how was it that his tomb was shown still in Megara?

His doctrines were as follows, that there are four elements, fire, water, earth and air, besides friendship by which these are united, and strife by which they are separated. These are his words:73

Shining Zeus and life-bringing Hera, Aidoneus and Nestis, who lets flow from her tears the source of mortal life,

where by Zeus he means fire, by Hera earth, by Aidoneus air, and by Nestis water.

“And their continuous change,” he says, “never ceases,”74 as if this ordering of things were eternal. At all events he goes on:75

At one time all things uniting in one through Love, at another each carried in a different direction through the hatred born of strife.

The sun he calls a vast collection of fire and larger than the moon; the moon, he says, is of the shape of a quoit, and the heaven itself crystalline. The soul, again, assumes all the various forms of animals and plants. At any rate he says:76

Before now I was born a boy and a maid, a bush and a bird, and a dumb fish leaping out of the sea.

His poems On Nature and Purifications run to 5000 lines, his Discourse on Medicine to 600. Of the tragedies we have spoken above.

46 v. 67.

47 496 B.C.

48 445-444 B.C.

49 i.e. Heraclides Lembus.

50 Cf. Introd. p. xiv.

51 Fr. 112 D.

52 Fr. 129 D.

53 Fr. 111 D.

54 According to Beloch this should be the twelfth book; cf. inf. 66.

55 v. 67.

56 Fr. 1 D.

57 Fr. 156 D.

58 Fr. 112 D.

59 According to the vulgate, an unknown writer Potamilla is the authority cited by Diogenes. Diels, however (Frag der Vorsokr. ii.3 p. 196), prefers the reading of two mss. ποταμὸν ἄλλα (sc. ὑπομνήματα or ἀντίγραφα λέγει), regarding this as derived from a marginal note which was afterwards put in the text. In the Palatine ms. the gloss is ποταμὸν ἄλλοι. Apelt, however, suggests ποτ’ ἀμέλει, not as a scholium, but as part of the text.

60 Cf. Athenaeus xiv. 620 d, whence it appears that the ultimate authority is Dicaearchus; ἐν τῷ Ὀλυμπικῷ, F.H.G. ii. p. 249, fr. 47. Here again a citation from Favorinus seems to disturb the context.

61 Anth. Plan. v. 4.

62 This emphasis on the political leanings of Empedocles, backed by the authority of Timaeus, looks strange after the anecdote, also from Timaeus, of 64, 65, nor is it clear that the attack on the close oligarchical corporation of the Thousand really took place at a later date (ὕστερον). That D. L. is working in two passages of Timaeus, in the second of which the first is not pre-supposed, is an obvious suggestion.

63 Fr. 112. 4 D.

64 Fr. 42 D.

65 In the list of the writings of Heraclides of Pontus (see v. 86 sqq.) occurs Περὶ τῶν ἐν ᾅδου, a dialogue on a similar subject, if not actually identical, with Περὶ τῆς ἄπνου. In the latter Pausanias was one of the characters; see next note.

66 ἀντέλεγε. The imperfect tense is convincing proof that D. L. (or his source) is drawing upon the dialogue, and not narrating facts as a historian; D. L. must be giving a large extract from the dialogue Περὶ τῆς ἄπνου, beginning in the second paragraph of 67. Only D. L. has inserted, in 69, (1) a note from Hermippus and (2) a resume from Hippobotus of the very passage in the dialogue Περὶ τῆς ἄπνου with which D. L. has been dealing in 67-69.

67 444-441 B.C.

68 Od. xi. 278.

69 viii. 53.

70 Anth. Pal. vii. 123.

71 i.e. the craters of Etna.

72 Anth. Pal. vii. 124.

73 Fr. 6 D.

74 Fr. 17. 6 D.

75 Fr. 17. 7 D.

76 Fr. 117 D.


Epicharmus of Cos, son of Helothales, was another pupil of Pythagoras. When three months old he was sent to Megara in Sicily and thence to Syracuse, as he tells us in his own writings. On his statue this epigram is written:77

If the great sun outshines the other stars,

If the great sea is mightier than the streams,

So Epicharmus’ wisdom all excelled,

Whom Syracuse his fatherland thus crowned.

He has left memoirs containing his physical, ethical and medical doctrines, and he has made marginal notes in most of the memoirs, which clearly show that they were written by him. He died at the age of ninety.

77 Anth. Pal. vii. 78.


Archytas of Tarentum, son of Mnesagoras or, if we may believe Aristoxenus, of Hestiaeus, was another of the Pythagoreans. He it was whose letter saved Plato when he was about to be put to death by Dionysius. He was generally admired for his excellence in all fields; thus he was generalissimo of his city seven times, while the law excluded all others even from a second year of command. We have two letters written to him by Plato, he having first written to Plato in these terms:

“Archytas wishes Plato good health.

“You have done well to get rid of your ailment, as we learn both from your own message and through Lamiscus that you have: we attended to the matter of the memoirs and went up to Lucania where we found the true progeny of Ocellus [to wit, his writings]. We did get the works On Law, On Kingship, Of Piety, and On the Origin of the Universe, all of which we have sent on to you; but the rest are, at present, nowhere to be found; if they should turn up, you shall have them.”

This is Archytas’s letter; and Plato’s answer is as follows:

“Plato to Archytas greeting.

“I was overjoyed to get the memoirs which you sent, and I am very greatly pleased with the writer of them; he seems to be a right worthy descendant of his distant forbears. They came, so it is said, from Myra, and were among those who emigrated from Troy in Laomedon’s time, really good men, as the traditional story shows. Those memoirs of mine about which you wrote are not yet in a fit state; but such as they are I have sent them on to you. We both agree about their custody, so I need not give any advice on that head. Farewell.”

These then are the letters which passed between them.

Four men have borne the name of Archytas: (1) our subject; (2) a musician, of Mytilene; (3) the compiler of a work On Agriculture; (4) a writer of epigrams. Some speak of a fifth, an architect, to whom is attributed a book On Mechanism which begins like this: “These things I learnt from Teucer of Carthage.” A tale is told of the musician that, when it was cast in his teeth that he could not be heard, he replied, “Well, my instrument shall speak for me and win the day.”

Aristoxenus says that our Pythagorean was never defeated during his whole generalship, though he once resigned it owing to badfeeling against him, whereupon the army at once fell into the hands of the enemy.

He was the first to bring mechanics to a system by applying mathematical principles; he also first employed mechanical motion in a geometrical construction, namely, when he tried, by means of a section of a half-cylinder, to find two mean proportionals in order to duplicate the cube.78 In geometry, too, he was the first to discover the cube, as Plato says in the Republic .79

78 Cf. T. L. Heath, History of Greek Mathematics, i. 246-249.

79 528 b.


Alcmaeon of Croton, another disciple of Pythagoras, wrote chiefly on medicine, but now and again he touches on natural philosophy, as when he says, “Most human affairs go in pairs.” He is thought to have been the first to compile a physical treatise, so we learn from Favorinus in his Miscellaneous History; and he said that the moon [and] generally [the heavenly bodies] are in their nature eternal.

He was the son of Pirithous, as he himself tells us at the beginning of his treatise:80 “These are the words of Alcmaeon of Croton, son of Pirithous, which he spake to Brontinus, Leon and Bathyllus: ‘Of things invisible, as of mortal things, only the gods have certain knowledge; but to us, as men, only inference from evidence is possible,’ and so on.” He held also that the soul is immortal and that it is continuously in motion like the sun.

80 Fr. 1 Diels


Hippasus of Metapontum was another Pythagorean, who held that there is a definite time which the changes in the universe take to complete and that the All is limited and ever in motion.

According to Demetrius in his work on Men of the Same Name, he left nothing in writing. There were two men named Hippasus, one being our subject, and the other a man who wrote The Laconian Constitution in five books; and he himself was a Lacedaemonian.


Philolaus of Croton was a Pythagorean, and it was from him that Plato requests Dion to buy the Pythagorean treatises.81 He (Dion) was put to death because he was thought to be aiming at a tyranny.82 This is what we have written upon him:83

Fancies of all things are most flattering;

If you intend, but do not, you are lost.

So Croton taught Philolaus to his cost,

Who fancied he would like to be their king.84

His doctrine is that all things are brought about by necessity and in harmonious inter-relation. He was the first to declare that the earth moves in a circle,85 though some say that it was Hicetas of Syracuse.

He wrote one book, and it was this work which, according to Hermippus, some writer said that Plato the philosopher, when he went to Sicily to Dionysius’s court, bought from Philolaus’s relatives for the sum of forty Alexandrine86 minas of silver, from which also the Timaeus was transcribed. Others say that Plato received it as a present for having procured from Dionysius the release of a young disciple of Philolaus who had been cast into prison.

According to Demetrius in his work on Men of the Same Name, Philolaus was the first to publish the Pythagorean treatises, to which he gave the title On Nature, beginning as follows: “Nature in the ordered universe was composed of unlimited and limiting elements, and so was the whole universe and all that is therein.”

81 Cf. iii. 9.

82 The subject of ἐτελεύτα would naturally be Philolaus, and so D. L. understood it; but the original reference was clearly to Dion.

83 Anth. Pal. vii. 126.

84 Or in prose: “My chief advice to all men is: to lull suspicion to rest. For even if you don’t do something, and people fancy you do, it is ill for you. So Croton, his native land, once put Philolaus to death, fancying he wished to have a tyrant’s house.”

85 i.e. round the central fire. See T. L. Heath, Aristarchus. 187 sqq.

86 Hermippus (F.H.G. iii. 42, fr. 25) seems to forget that Alexander was not born until after Plato’s death. Cf. vii. 18.


Eudoxus of Cnidos, the son of Aeschines, was an astronomer, a geometer, a physician and a legislator. He learned geometry from Archytas and medicine from Philistion the Sicilian, as Callimachus tells us in his Tables. Sotion in his Successions of Philosophers says that he was also a pupil of Plato. When he was about twenty-three years old and in straitened circumstances, he was attracted by the reputation of the Socratics and set sail for Athens with Theomedon the physician, who provided for his wants. Some even say that he was Theomedon’s favourite. Having disembarked at Piraeus he went up every day to Athens and, when he had attended the Sophists’ lectures, returned again to the port. After spending two months there, he went home and, aided by the liberality of his friends, he proceeded to Egypt with Chrysippus the physician, bearing with him letters of introduction from Agesilaus to Nectanabis, who recommended him to the priests. There he remained one year and four months with his beard and eyebrows shaved, and there, some say, he wrote his Octateris. From there he went to Cyzicus and the Propontis, giving lectures; afterwards he came to the court of Mausolus. Then at length he returned to Athens, bringing with him a great number of pupils: according to some, this was for the purpose of annoying Plato, who had originally passed him over.87 Some say that, when Plato gave a banquet, Eudoxus, owing to the numbers present, introduced the fashion of arranging couches in a semicircle. Nicomachus, the son of Aristotle, states that he declared pleasure to be the good.88 He was received in his native city with great honour, proof of this being the decree concerning him. But he also became famous throughout Greece, as legislator for his fellow-citizens, so we learn from Hermippus in his fourth book On the Seven Sages, and as the author of astronomical and geometrical treatises and other important works.

He had three daughters, Actis, Philtis and Delphis. Eratosthenes in his writings addressed to Baton tells us that he also composed Dialogues of Dogs; others say that they were written by Egyptians in their own language and that he translated them and published them in Greece. Chrysippus of Cnidos, the son of Erineus, attended his lectures on the gods, the world, and the phenomena of the heavens, while in medicine he was the pupil of Philistion the Sicilian.

Eudoxus also left some excellent commentaries. He had a son Aristagoras, who had a son Chrysippus, the pupil of Athlius. To this Chrysippus we owe a medical work on the treatment of the eye, speculations upon nature having occupied his mind.

Three men have borne the name of Eudoxus: (1) our present subject; (2) a historian, of Rhodes; (3) a Sicilian Greek, the son of Agathocles, a comic poet, who three times won the prize in the city Dionysia and five times at the Lenaea, so we are told by Apollodorus in his Chronology. We also find another physician of Cnidos mentioned by Eudoxus89 in his Geography as advising people to be always exercising their limbs by every form of gymnastics, and their sense-organs in the same way.

The same authority, Apollodorus, states that Eudoxus of Cnidos flourished about the 103rd Olympiad,90 and that he discovered the properties of curves. He died in his fifty-third year. When he was in Egypt with Chonuphis of Heliopolis, the sacred bull Apis licked his cloak. From this the priests foretold that he would be famous but short-lived, so we are informed by Favorinus in his Memorabilia.

There is a poem of our own upon him, which runs thus:91

It is said that at Memphis Eudoxus learned his coming fate from the bull with beautiful horns. No words did it utter; for whence comes speech to a bull? Nature did not provide the young bull Apis with a chattering tongue. But, standing sideways by him, it licked his robe, by which it plainly prophesied “you shall soon die.” Whereupon, soon after, this fate overtook him, when he had seen fifty-three risings of the Pleiades.

Eudoxus used to be called Endoxos (illustrious) instead of Eudoxus by reason of his brilliant reputation.

Having now dealt with the famous Pythagoreans, let us next discuss the so-called “sporadic” philosophers. And first we must speak of Heraclitus.

87 The suggestion of hostile relations is held to be without foundation both by Tannery, Astronomie ancienne, p. 296, note 4, and T. L. Heath, Aristarchus, p. 192.

88 The reference is to the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle (i. 12, 1101 b 27; x. 2, 1172 b 9 sq.). That Nicomachus wrote the treatise called after him was a common error into which Cicero also fell (De fin. v. 12).

89 The wording suggests that this physician’s name was not Eudoxus, but rather Chrysippus. He may have been the Chrysippus of Cnidos mentioned supra, vii. 186 (cf. Wilamowitz, Antig. v. Kar. 324-326); see, however, Pauly-Wissowa, s.v. Chrysippos, 15 and 16.

90 368-364 B.C.

91 Anth. Pal. vii. 744.

Book IX

Heraclitus. Xenophanes. Parmenides. Melissus. Zeno of Elea. Leucippus. Democritus. Protagoras. Diogenes of Apollonia. Anaxarchus. Pyrrho. Timon.


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.

Hence Timon40 says of him:41

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

43 Cf. supra, 15.

44 444-440 B.C.

Zeno of Elea

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

The fact that there were eight men of the name of Zeno we have already mentioned under Zeno of Citium.53 Our philosopher flourished in the 79th Olympiad.54

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.

60 46.

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

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.

Moreover, there were many who emulated his abstention from affairs, so that Timon in his Pytho 92 and in his Silli 93 says:94

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.

And Euripides:101

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.

And even Heraclitus: “Let us not conjecture on deepest questions what is likely.”108 Then again Hippocrates showed himself two-sided and but human. And before them all Homer:109

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.

123 77.

124 i.e. all we know is that we feel. Cf. supra, ii. 92.

125 74.

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