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Anaxagoras

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.
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Socrates

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

Book II

 p145  Chapter 4
Archelaus1 (c. 450 B.C.)

[link to original Greek text] 16 Archelaus, the son of Apollodorus, or as some say  p147 of Midon, was a citizen of Athens or of Miletus; he was a pupil of Anaxagoras, who2 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.

[link to original Greek text] 17 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 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  p149 of a treatise on Natural Curiosities; and lastly a rhetorician who wrote a handbook on his art.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Diels (Dox. Gr. p139) compares Hippolytus (Ref. Haer. I.9.1‑5); Aëtius, I.3.6; Theophrastus, Phys. Opin. Fr. 4.

2 οὗτος. This statement is not really applicable to Archelaus. Clement of Alexandria in Strom. I.63 understood it of Anaxagoras: μέθ’ οὗ [Anaximenes] Ἀναξαγόρας Ἡγησιβούλου Κλαζομένιος. οὗτος μετήγαγεν ἀπὸ τῆς Ἰωνίας Ἀθήναζε τὴν διατριβήν.


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Page updated: 18 Feb 18