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Phaedo

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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Stilpo

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

Book II

 p235  Chapter 6
Euclides

[link to original Greek text] 106 Euclides was a native of Megara on the Isthmus,1 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.

[link to original Greek text] 107 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  p237 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:2

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

[link to original Greek text] 108 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:3

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. [link to original Greek text] 109 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 Eleuxinus. 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  p239 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.

[link to original Greek text] 110 I have composed the following lines upon him:4

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 Antigonus5 and dedicated to him a work On Kingship which was very popular. He died of old age.

[link to original Greek text] 111 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.6 Callimachus in his Epigrams says of him:

Momus himself chalked up on the wall "Cronus is wise."

He too was a dialectician and was supposed to have been the first who discovered the arguments  p241 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. [link to original Greek text] 112 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:7

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.8

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 preparations, predications and the like; and Stilpo of Megara, a most distinguished philosopher, of whom we have now to treat.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

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

2 Fr. 28 D.

3 Meineke, C. G. F. IV.618.

4 Anth. Plan. III.129.

5 i.e. Antigonus Doson, born 262 B.C. Cf. F. H. G. III.20.

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

7 Anth. Plan. VII.19.

8 Leaving ὄνος = "ass."


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