Notes for Diogenes Laertius Lives of Eminent Philosophers
Its lack of appreciation in ancient philosophy attributed to its haphazard composition, resembling internet search results.
CHAPTER 1. THALES (floruit circa 585 B.C., the date of the eclipse)
Dictionary of Men of the Same Name now seems strange, disciplined as we are by precise identificatory regimes.
(38) 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.
(39) To him belongs the proverb "Know thyself," which Antisthenes in his Successions of Philosophers attributes to Phemonoe, though admitting that it was appropriated by Chilon.
CHAPTER 2. SOLON (archon 594
(45) His first achievement was the 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 day-laborers.
(50) 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 [ µ].
(n56b) This censure of athletes recurs Diod. Sic. ix. 2. 3 f. It was probably a commonplace in some earlier life of Solon.
Very early social constructions of computing calculations by Solon describing tyrants of employing agents to achieve his will.
(59) 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.
CHAPTER 3. CHILON (c. 560
(71) Of his songs [µ] 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."
CHAPTER 4. PITTACUS (c. 600
(76) Among the laws which he made is one providing that for any offense committed in a state of intoxication the penalty should be doubled; his object was to discourage drunkenness, wine being abundant in the island.
CHAPTER 5. BIAS (c. 570 B.C.)
CHAPTER 6. CLEOBULUS (c. 600 B.C.)
CHAPTER 7. PERIANDER (tyrant
(94) 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.
CHAPTER 8. ANACHARSIS
CHAPTER 9. MYSON (c. 600 B.C.)
CHAPTER 10. EPIMENIDES (c. 600
(114) 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.
CHAPTER 11. PHERECYDES (flor. c. 540 B.C.)
CHAPTER 1. ANAXIMANDER (611-546 B.C.)
(2) His exposition of his doctrines took the form of a summary which no doubt came into the hands, among others, of Apollodorus of Athens.
[set of elements]
CHAPTER 2. ANAXIMENES (flor. c. 546 B.C.)
CHAPTER 3. ANAXAGORAS (500-428
(6) 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."
First book with diagrams published by Anaxagoras.
(11) Anaxagoras was also the first to publish a book with diagrams.
CHAPTER 4. ARCHELAUS (c. 450 B.C.)
Natural philosophy ended to become physics, Archelaus the physicist, when Socrates introduced ethics.
(16) He was called the physicist inasmuch as with him natural philosophy came to an end, as soon as Socrates had introduced ethics.
CHAPTER 5. SOCRATES (469-399 B.C.)
Interesting, unfamiliar claims about Socrates could ground new myths.
(18) It was
thought that he helped Euripides to make his plays;
(20) 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.
(26) Aristotle states that he married two wives: his first 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.
(30) Glauconides demanded that he should be acquired for the state as if he were some pheasant or peacock.
(32) 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.
(32) 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.
(34) He would say that the rest of the world lived to eat, while he himself ate to live.
Seems equivalent to permitting the State to acquire him like some animal.
(41) 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."
CHAPTER 6. XENOPHON (426?-354 B.C.)
(48) He was the first to take notes of [µµ] and to give to the world, the conversation of Socrates, under the titles of Memorabilia [µµµ]. Moreover, he was the first to write a history of philosophers.
Xenophon received a grant to work on his histories.
(52) 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 the time onward he hunted, entertained his friends, and worked at his histories without interruption.
CHAPTER 7. AESCHINES (c. 400 B.C.)
If Socrates wrote nothing, how did Aeschines get them from Xanthippe?
(60) 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.
CHAPTER 8. ARISTIPPUS (c.
(68) Being asked what he had gained from philosophy, he replied, "The ability to feel at ease in any society."
CHAPTER 9. PHAEDO
CHAPTER 10. EUCLIDES
CHAPTER 11. STILPO
(117) 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!"
CHAPTER 12. CRITO
CHAPTER 13. SIMON
(122) 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.
(123) He was the first, so we are told, who introduced the Socratic dialogues as a form of conversation.
CHAPTER 14. GLAUCON
CHAPTER 15. SIMMIAS
CHAPTER 16. CEBES
CHAPTER 17. MENEDEMUS
(130) 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.
Holding firmly to a doctrine equivalent to writing and composing things based on statement about Menedemus.
(136) Antigonus of Carystus asserts that he never wrote or composed anything, and so never held firmly by any doctrine.
PLATO (427-347 B.C.)
(4) 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.
(9) 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 [µ] a great deal from him, as Alcimus says in the essays dedicated to Amyntas, of which there are four.
(15) Now Plato in conceiving his theory of Ideas says: 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.
(18) Plato, it seems, was the first to bring to Athens the mimes of Sophron which a copy of the mimes, they say, was actually found under his pillow.
Claim that Plato was first to study significance of grammar.
(25) 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, and the first to study the significance of grammar.
Claim that Socrates heard Plato read the Lysis and called out his fabrication.
(35) 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
(45) There is also an epitaph of my own which runs thus:
If Phoebus did not cause Plato to be born in Greece, how came it that he healed the minds of men by letters [µµ]? As the god's son Asclepius is a healer of the body, so is Plato of the immortal soul.
(48) 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 Alexameus 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 [µ µµ ]. 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.
Take note that proposition has been added by the translator, though I have not read all of the book to see whether it follows some pattern that has been legitimately established; also, with the with due regard to the characters and this on the part of the interlocutors, my older reasonings on the mysteries of Symposium continue, as well as this newer and more sinister utility-thought concerning computing via hieroglyphs, as it might be, following Marx, that we only get our logicalizations of the arguments in a sort of secondary formation, due to the agency that has already occurred by way of the dialogic form of philosophical production itself granting its own movements in thinking..& if we don't want to follow Marx that way, then also there is the matter of what happens "when reality is depicted"--
(63) Plato has employed a variety of terms in order to make his system less intelligible [µ ] to the ignorant [µ]. 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.
Plato deliberately employed terms and critical marks to make his system less intelligible to the ignorant, and charging a fee to see the marked up writings.
And since certain critical marks [µ
] are affixed to his works let us now say a word about these. The
cross X is taken to indicate peculiar expressions and figures of
speech, and generally any idiom of Platonic usage; the diple (>)
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 dotten antisigma
(..) 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.
(note on diple: "A wedge-shaped mark >, used in early papyri to denote a fresh paragraph.")
Written and unwritten law noted by Plato crucially important to Zizek.
(86) 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.
(101) 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 [µ].
(109) And in this way, according to Aristotle, Plato used todivide  the primary conceptions also.
CHAPTER 1. SPEUSIPPUS (circa 407-339 B.C.)(Head of the Academy, 347-339 B.C.)
CHAPTER 2. XENOCRATES (396-314 B.C.)(Head of the Academy 339-314 B.C.)
CHAPTER 3. POLEMO (Head of the Academy from 314 to c. 276 B.C.)
CHAPTER 4. CRATES (of Athens) (Head of the Academy in third century B.C.)
CHAPTER 5. CRANTOR (Perhaps about 340-290 B.C.)
CHAPTER 6. ARCESILAUS (c.
(36) 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." And this trait many of his pupils imitated, as they did also his style of speaking and his whole address.
CHAPTER 7. BION (third
(49) 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.
(52) He was fond of display and great at cutting up anything with a jest, using vulgar names for things.
CHAPTER 8. LACYDES (Head of the Academy c. 242-216 B.C.)
CHAPTER 9. CARNEADES (c. 213-129 B.C.)
CHAPTER 10. CLITOMACHUS (Head of the Academy from 129 B.C.)
CHAPTER 1. ARISTOTLE (384-322 B.C.)
(27) In all 445,270 lines.
CHAPTER 2. THEOPHRASTUS (c.
370-286 B.C)(Head of the School from 323 B.C.)
(40) He used constantly to say that in our expenditure the item that costs most is time.
CHAPTER 3. STRATO (Head of the School 286-268 B.C.)
CHAPTER 4. LYCO (299-225 B.C.)
CHAPTER 5. DEMETRIUS (perhaps 350-280 B.C.; supreme in Athens 318-307 B.C.)
CHAPTER 6. HERACLIDES (floruit 360 B.C.)
CHAPTER 1. ANTISTHENES (c. 440-366 B.C.)
Everyone is a VR addict!
(2) 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.
(3) 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. . . . Being told that Plato was abusing him, he remarked, "It is a royal privilege to do good and be ill spoken of."
Interesting self-reflexive in a positive rather than contradiction-desiring way.
(6) When he was asked what advantage had accrued to him from philosophy, his answer was, "The ability to hold converse with myself."
ethic of learning how to get rid of having anything to unlearn leads
to word study of periareo, apomanthano, dedisco.
PERIAIREO: to take off something that surrounds, take off an outer coat, take away, strip off
APOMANTHANO: to unlearn, Lat. dediscere, Plat., Xen.
DEDISCO: to unlearn, to forget (..)--With inf.:(eloquentia) loqui dedisceret, Brut. 51.]
(7) Being asked what learning is the most necessary, he replied, "How to get rid of having anything to unlearn." [ µ] And he advised that when men are slandered, they should endure it more courageously than if they were pelted with stones.
CHAPTER 2. DIOGENES (404-323
(22) He was the first, [say] say, to fold his cloak because he was obliged to sleep in it as well, and he carried a wallet to hold his vituals, and he used any place for any purpose, for breakfasting, sleeping, or conversing.
(37) 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."
(40) 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."
(41) He lit a lamp in broad daylight and said, as he went about, "I am looking for a man."
(43) 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.
(53) On being asked by somebody, "What sort of a man do you consider Diogenes to be?" "A Socrates gone mad," said he.
Diogenes rubbing the belly: a Socrates gone mad.
(69) Behaving indecently in public, he wished "it were as easy to banish hunger by rubbing the belly."
CHAPTER 3. MONIMUS (fourth
(82) 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 straightaway devoted himself to Diogenes.
CHAPTER 4. ONESICRITUS (flor. 330 B.C.)
CHAPTER 5. CRATES (of Thebes, flor. 326 B.C.)
Something could be said about the individual name of Crates: the Greek word refers to having power, which might include material provision; the latter, we learn from the Life of Zeno, was guaranteed in part by another.
This story proves that Crates considered applied philosophy appropriate for his own children, instead of philosophy itself, as a publicly acknowledged occupation, for we assume they became philosophers but practiced other arts and crafts to the point of proving themselves ordinary men, therefore holding on to the money, probably so they could afford the best memory technologies/computers possible.
(88) 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.
CHAPTER 6. METROCLES (c. 300 B.C.)
CHAPTER 7. HIPPARCHIA (c. 300 B.C.)
CHAPTER 8. MENIPPUS
CHAPTER 9. MENEDEMUS
CHAPTER 1. ZENO (331-261 B.C.)
Oracular wisdom given to Zeno was to take on the complexion of the dead as studying ancient authors.
Rather than know thyself in which the active
practitioner often took on the posture of the dead (though standing),
the Socratic stance. Yet both approaches partake of the posture of
reading and the perhaps reality of talking to the dead; one, however,
relies upon external signs for its "root computational
The new place to enter is in the old, not below for the quote may be missed.
(2) 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.
Zeno hid money in a hollow lid to provide for Crates.
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.
(40) 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 center 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.
(45) A presentation (or mental impression) [PHANTASI'AN] is an imprint on the soul: the name having been appropriately borrowed from the imprint made by the seal upon the wax.
(49) 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.
Example of BLITURI as unintelligible.
(57) 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 [BLI'TURI], 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.
falls dangerously within "voice" even though we can easily
think of it as essentially being "speech" as well, if we
philosophize over its words. In a way this can be thought of as the
far extreme of the case of poetized speech, which hypnotizes the
speech-maker into producing it. Music like poetry should not fall
within the domain of legitimate philosophical production, for two
reasons. First, because its proponents can only be mad if they are
truly geniuses. Second, because it cannot be heard. Books and papers
simply do not speak. They are read. Sound cannot be encoded and
decoded by these media in the way it can by electronic media. At best
we could have some kind of page whose reading generates the sound,
but that generation itself would probably be actualized by external
What if there were books that made the sound (of the music) when you ripped them or burned them?That's ridiculous.
you could include within these examples of "autoproduction"
having someone else create the sounds for you?
I guess so. But then we'd be back to the problem of whether the reproduction was accurate.
That's why we don't write philosophical treatises about music, but only music in general. The lesser sciences like psycho-analysis and sociology have been carelessly entering this domain by speaking about movies. Feder Stuart is excluded from this criticism because he sought to speak about music from the physiological rather than .. wait a minute, what was my point? .. that his work on Mozart's music arose from a logical equivalence between certain aural features he actually transmitted in the talk .. that he excluded the words, if there were any, so that he avoided the region of absurdity just examined..
(76) 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." (..) A mood  is a sort of outline of an argument [ µ ], like the following: "If the first, then the second; but the first is, therefore the second is."
Symbolic argument by Zeno using replacement of semantic entities with arbitrary symbols.
(77) 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 premise, if it be long, and then state the conclusion, but may arrive at the conclusion as concisely as possible: if A, then B.
["TO DE PROTON*TO ARA DEUTERON."]
TO DE PROTON µ µ *TO ARA DEUTERON.
(83) 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.
(88) 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.
(105) Value they define as, first, any contribution to harmonious living, such as attaches to every good; secondly, some faculty or use which indirectly 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.*
(n105b) With Arnim's correction, wheat would exchange for 1.5 times the quantity of barley.
(108) Zeno was the first to use this term [KATHEKON] of conduct. Etymologically it is derived from [KATA TINAS EKEIN], i.e. reaching as far as, being up to, or incumbent on so and so.
(114) Delight is the mind's propulsion to weakness, its name in Greek ([TERPSIS]) being akin to [TRE'PSIS] or turning. To be in transports of delight is the melting away of virtue.
(116) Also they say that there are three emotional states which are good, namely, joy, caution, and wishing.
(131) 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 this treatise On Government [and not only they, but also Diogenes the Cynic and Plato.] 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.
(148) Nature is defined as a force moving of itself, producing and preserving in being its offspring in accordance with seminal principles within definite periods, and effecting results homogeneous with their sources.
(156) 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.
CHAPTER 2. ARISTON (c.
(160) 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.
(161) 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.
CHAPTER 3. HERILLUS (flor.
c. 260 B.C.)
(165) 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.
(166) 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.
CHAPTER 4. DIONYSIUS(1) (c. 330-250 B.C.)
Obviously, I guess, unable to be indifferent to pain was like a proximity to the germinal influx (and there is no pleasure in writing); yet Dionysius could have ruined his eyes writing, and being a renegade Nomad thinker have left us something to find besides the unconscious. Notice too the progression from "end of action" to "being driven" [970104.1206].
(166) Dionysius, the Renegade, 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.
CHAPTER 5. CLEANTHES (331-232
(168) He was renowned for his industry, being indeed driven by extreme poverty towork 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.
(172) 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.
Cleanthes wrote Zeno lectures on oyster shells and oxen bones lacking money to buy paper.
(174) 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 [CHARTI'A].
I have yet to meet one whose lectures over the recording of which I would foster any great concern. By chance, however, (..)
CHAPTER 6. SPHAERUS (flor. c. 220 B.C.)
CHAPTER 7. CHRYSIPPUS (c. 282-206 B.C.)
Chrysippus introduced a kind of criticism and interpretive methodology that is implicit in all scientific scholarship but seldom (for copyright reasons) fully implemented, copying entire works of others into ones own notes in order to study them.
(180) 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
(184) 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.
(185) 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.
(201) [from the list of works] Against the Touching up of Paintings, addressed to Timonax, one book.
CHAPTER 1. PYTHAGORAS (c. 582-500 B.C.)
(2) 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.
(4) 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 [MNE'MEN ECHEIN TON SYMBAINO'NTON].
Pythagoras compared life to the great games, philosophers as spectators among others competing for prizes and others selling wares.
(8) Sosicrates in his Successions of Philosophers says that, when Leon the tyrant of Philius asked him who he was, he said, "A philosopher," 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.
Five years of silent listening to discourses without seeing Pythagoras, then allowed to admittance to his house after passing examination.
(10) For five
whole years they had to keep silence, merely listening to his
discourses without seeing him [because he lectured at night], until
they passed an examination, and thenceforward they were admitted to
his house and allowed to see him.
(14) 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.
(15) 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.
(16) 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.
Pythagoras murdered when he would not cross a bean field to escape jealous crowd who had set his house on fire.
met his death in this wise. 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.
(48) 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.
CHAPTER 2. EMPEDOCLES (484-424
(57) Aristotle in his Sophist calls Empedocles the inventor of rhetoric as Zeno of dialectic. . . . He also says that we 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.
(60) Timaeus also in the eighteenth 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 says that he furnished Pausanias with the facts about the woman in a trance.
(68) 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.
CHAPTER 3. EPICHARMUS (c.
(VIII. 78) He has left memoirs [HYPOMNE'MATA] containing his physical, ethical and medical doctrines, and he has made marginal notes [PARASTICHI'DA] in most of the memoirs, which clearly show that they were written by him.
CHAPTER 4. ARCHYTAS (fourth century B.C.)
First mechanical computations by Archytas.
(83) 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.
CHAPTER 5. ALCMAEON
CHAPTER 6. HIPPASUS (fourth century B.C.)
CHAPTER 7. PHILOLAUS (Perhaps late fifth century)
CHAPTER 8. EUDOXUS (c. 407-357 B.C.)
CHAPTER 1. HERACLITUS
(1) He was lofty-minded beyond all other men, 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." For "this one thing is wisdom, to understand thought, as that which guides all the world everywhere."
(9) He reduces nearly everything to exhalation from the sea. . . . He says, however, that there are in it [the surrounding element] bowls with their concavities turned towards us, in which the bright exhalations collect and produce flames.
(10) 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.
CHAPTER 2. XENOPHANES (570-478 B.C.)
CHAPTER 3. PARMENIDES (flor. c. 500 B.C.)
CHAPTER 4. MELISSUS
CHAPTER 5. ZENO OF ELEA
CHAPTER 6. LEUCIPPUS
CHAPTER 7. DEMOCRITUS (?
(35-36) 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 [Demetrius], was so great that he cut off a little room in the garden round the house and shut himself up there.
(40) 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.
(44) 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.
CHAPTER 8. PROTAGORAS (481-411
(51-52) He used to say that soul was nothing apart from the senses, as we learn from Plato in the Theaetetus, 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.
(52) He too first introduced the method of discussion which is called Socratic.
(56) 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."
CHAPTER 9. DIOGENES OF APOLLONIA
CHAPTER 10. ANAXARCHUS
CHAPTER 11. PYRRHO (c.
(64) 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.
(68) 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.
(79) Perplexities arise from the agreements between appearances or judgments, and these perplexities they distinguished under ten different modes in which the subjects in question appeared to vary.
CHAPTER 12. TIMON (c.
(110) He was, according to Antigonus, fond of wine, and in the time that he could spare from philosophy he used to write poems. These included epics, tragedies, satyric drama, thirty comedies and sixty tragedies, besides silli (lampoons) and obscene poems.
(111) There are three silli in which, from his point of view as a Sceptic, he abuses every one and lampoons the dogmatic philosophers, using the form of parody. In the first he speaks in the first person throughout, the second and third are in the form of dialogues; for he represents himself as questioning Xenophanes of Colophon about each philosopher in turn, while Xenophanes answers him; in the second he speaks of the more ancient philosophers, in the third of the later, which is why some have entitled it the Epilogue.
(113) He was quick to perceive anything and to turn up his nose in scorn; he was fond of writing and at all times good at sketching plots for poets and collaborating in dramas.
EPICURUS (341-271 B.C.)
(6) It is added that he corresponded with many courtesans, and especially with Leontion, of whom Metrodorus also was enamoured.
(15) Epicurus died of renal calculus after an illness which lasted a fortnight: so Hermarchus tells us in his letters. Hermippus relates that he entered a bronze bath of lukewarm water and asked for unmixed wine, which he swallowed, and then, having bidden his friends remember his doctrines, breathed his last.
I spend a lot of time thinking, do we, or do we not, assume without a further consideration that this Epicurus is not the one mentioned by Plato in Symposium? [980704.1722]
(26) Epicurus was
a most prolific author and eclipsed all before him in the number of
his writings: for they amount to about three hundred rolls, and
contain not a single citation from other authors; it is Epicurus
himself who speaks throughout.
(29) It is divided into three parts--Canonic, Physics, Ethics.
(33) By preconception they mean a sort of apprehension or a right opinion or notion, or universal idea stored in the mind; that is, a recollection of an external object often presented.
(35-36) [epistle on Physics]"Those who have made some advance in the survey of the entire system ought to fix in their minds under the principal headings an elementary outline of the whole treatment of the subject. For a comprehensive view is often required, the details but seldom.
To the former, then--the main heads--we must continually return, and must memorize them so far as to get a valid conception of the facts, as well as the means of discovering all the details exactly when once the general outlines are rightly understood and remembered; since it is the privilege of the mature student to make a ready use of his conceptions by referring every one of them to elementary facts and simple terms. For it is impossible to gather up the results of continuous diligent study of the entirety of things, unless we can embrace in short formulas and hold in mind all that might have been accurately expressed even to the minutest detail.
(48) Besides this, remember that the production of the images is as quick as thought. For particles are continually streaming off from the surface of bodies, though no diminuation of the bodies is observed, because other particles take their place.
(62) Our canon is that direct observation by sense and direct apprehension by the mind are alone invariably true.
(65) Moreover, when the whole frame is broken up, the soul is scattered and has no longer the same powers as before, nor the same motions; hence it does not possess sentience either.
(72) There is another thing which we must consider carefully. We must not investigate time as we do the other accidents which we investigate in a subject, namely, by referring them to the preconceptions envisaged in our minds; but we must take into account the plain fact itself, in virtue of which we speak of time as long or short, linking to it in intimate connection this attribute of duration.
(78) Further, we must hold that to arrive at accurate knowledge of the cause of things of most moment is the business of natural science, and that happiness depends on this (viz. on the knowledge of celestial and atmospheric phenomena), and upon knowing what the heavenly bodies really are, and any kindred facts contributing to exact knowledge in this respect.
(80-81) If then we think than an event could happen in one or other particular way out of several, we shall be as tranquil when we recognize that it actually comes about in more ways than one as if we knew that it happens in this particular way.
There is yet one more point to seize, namely, that the greatest anxiety of the human mind arises through belief that the heavenly bodies are blessed and indestructible, and that at the same time they have volitions and actions and causality inconsistent with this belief; and through expecting or apprehending some everlasting evil, either because of the myths, or because we are in dread of the mere insensibility of death, as if it had to do with us; and through being reduced to this state not by conviction but by a certain irrational perversity, so that, if men do not set bounds to their terror, they endure as much or even more intense anxiety than the man whose views on those matters are quite vague. But mental tranquility means being released from all these troubles and cherishing a continual remembrance of the highest and most important truths.
(84) [epistle on Celestial Phenomena] To aid your memory you ask me for a clear and concise statement respecting celestial phenomena; for what we have written on this subject elsewhere is, you tell me, hard to remember, although you have my books constantly with you.
(85) In the first place, remember that, like everything else, knowledge of celestial phenomena, whether taken along with other things or in isolation, has no other end in view than peace of mind and firm conviction.
(117) [DL's commentary] There are three motives to injurious acts among men--hatred, envy, and contempt; and these the wise man overcomes by reason.
(120) Only the wise man will be able to converse correctly about music and poetry, without however actually writing poems himself. (..) The school holds that sins are not all equal; that health is in some cases good, in others a thing indifferent; that courage is not a natural gift but comes from calculation of expediency; and that friendship is prompted by our needs. One of the friends, however, must make the first advance (just as we have to cast seed into the earth), but it is maintained by a partnership in the enjoyment of life's pleasures.
(131-132) [letter on Ethics] "By pleasure we mean the absence of pain in the body and of trouble in the soul. It is not an unbroken succession of drinking-bouts and of revelry, not sexual love, not the enjoyment of the fish and other delicacies of a luxurious table, which produce a pleasant life; it is sober reasoning, searching out the grounds of every choice and avoidance, and banishing those beliefs through which the greatest tumults take possession of the soul. Of all this the beginning and the greatest good is prudence."
(138) Come, then, let me set the seal, so to say, on my entire work as well as on this philosopher's life by citing his Sovran Maxims, therewith bringing the whole work to a close and making the end of it to coincide with the beginning of happiness.
[rest not copied]
Diogenes Laertius. Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers in Ten Books. Trans. R. D. Hicks. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1925. Print.