The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers
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THE LIVES AND OPINIONS OF
By C. D. YONGE, M.A.,
Fellow of the Royal University of London; Regius Professor of English
Literature and Modern History, Queen’s College, Belfast.
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[Reprinted from Stereotype plates.]
|Anacharsis, the Scythian||46|
|Zeno, the Eleatic||386|
|Diogenes, of Apollonia||400|
Diogenes, the author of the following work, was a native(as is generally believed) of Laërte, in Cilicia, from whichcircumstance he derived the cognomen of Laërtius. Little isknown of him personally, nor is even the age in which he livedvery clearly ascertained. But as Plutarch, Sextus Empiricus,and Saturninus are among the writers whom he quotes, he isgenerally believed to have lived near the end of the secondcentury of our era: although some place him in the timeof Alexander Severus, and others as late as Constantine. Hiswork consists of ten books, variously called: The Lives ofPhilosophers, A History of Philosophy, and The Lives ofSophists. From internal evidence (iii. 47, 29), we learnthat he wrote it for a noble lady (according to some,Arria; according to others, Julia, the Empress of Severus),who occupied herself with the study of philosophy, and especiallyof Plato.
Diogenes Laërtius divides the philosophy of the Greeks intothe Ionic, beginning with Anaximander, and ending withTheophrastus (in which class, he includes the Socratic philosophyand all its various ramifications); and the Italian,beginning with Pythagoras, and ending with Epicurus, inwhich he includes the Eleatics, as also Heraclitus and theSceptics. From the minute consideration which he devotesto Epicurus and his system, it has been supposed that hehimself belonged to that school.
His work is the chief source of information we possessconcerning the history of Greek philosophy, and is thefoundation of nearly all the modern treatises on that subject;some of the most important of which are little morethan translations or amplifications of it. It is valuable,as containing a copious collection of anecdotes illustrative ofthe life and manners of the Greeks; but he has not alwaysbeen very careful in his selection, and in some parts thereis a confusion in his statements that makes them scarcelyintelligible. These faults have led some critics to considerthe work as it now exists merely a mutilated abridgment of theoriginal. Breslæus, who in the thirteenth century, wrote aTreatise on the Lives and Manners of the Philosophers,quotes many anecdotes and sayings, which seem to be derivedfrom Diogenes, but which are not to be found in ourpresent text; whence Schneider concludes that he had a verydifferent and far more complete copy than has come downto us.
The text used in the following translation is chiefly that ofHuebner, as published at Leipsic, A.D. 1828.
LIVES AND OPINIONS OF EMINENT PHILOSOPHERS.
I. Some say that the study of philosophy originated withthe barbarians. In that among the Persians there existedthe Magi, and among the Babylonians or Assyrians theChaldæi, among the Indians the Gymnosophistæ, and amongthe Celts and Gauls men who were called Druids andSemnothei, as Aristotle relates in his book on Magic, andSotion in the twenty-third book of his Succession of Philosophers.Besides those men there