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Anaximander

This webpage reproduces one of the
Lives of the Eminent Philosophers

by
Diogenes Laërtius

published in the Loeb Classical Library, 1925

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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Anaxagoras

(Vol. I) Diogenes Laërtius
Lives of the Eminent Philosophers

Book II

 p133  Chapter 2
Anaximenes1 (flor. 546 B.C.)

[link to original Greek text] Anaximenes, the son of Eurystratus, a native of Miletus, was a pupil of Anaximenes. 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.2

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

[link to original Greek text] "Thales, the son of Examyas, has met an unkind fate in his old age. He went out from the court of  p135 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

[link to original Greek text] "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."


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Diels (op. cit. p135) compares Hippolytus, Ref. Haer. I.7.1; Plutarch, Strom. 3; Aëtius, I.3.34; 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.

2 528‑525 B.C.


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Page updated: 15 Feb 18