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This webpage reproduces one of the
Lives of the Eminent Philosophers

Diogenes Laërtius

published in the Loeb Classical Library, 1925

The text is in the public domain.

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

Book VII

 p287  Chapter 7
Chrysippus (c. 282‑206 B.C.)

[link to original Greek text] 179 Chrysippus, the son of Apollonius, came either from Soli or from Tarsus, as Alexander relates in his Successions. He was a pupil of Cleanthes. Before this he used to practise as a long-distance runner;  p289 but afterwards he came to hear Zeno, or, as Diocles and most people say, Cleanthes; and then, while Cleanthes was still living, withdrew from his school and attained exceptional eminence as a philosopher. He had good natural parts and showed the greatest acuteness in every branch of the subject; so much so that he differed on most points from Zeno, and from Cleanthes as well, to whom he often used to say that all he wanted was to be told what the doctrines were; he would find out the proofs for himself. Nevertheless, whenever he had contended against Cleanthes, he would afterwards feel remorse, so that he constantly came out with the lines:1

Blest in all else am I, save only where

I touch Cleanthes: there I am ill‑fortuned.

[link to original Greek text] 180 So renowned was he for dialectic that most people thought, if the gods took to dialectic, they would adopt no other system than that of Chrysippus. 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 Chrysippus."

[link to original Greek text] 181 Apollodorus of Athens in his Collection of Doctrines, wishing to show that what Epicurus wrote with force and originality unaided by quotations was far greater in amount than the books of Chrysippus, says, to  p291 quote his exact words, "If one were to strip the books of Chrysippus of all extraneous quotations, his pages would be left bare." So much for Apollodorus. Of Chrysippus the old woman who sat beside him used to say, according to Diocles, that he wrote 500 lines a day. Hecato says that he came to the study of philosophy, because the property which he had inherited from his father had been confiscated to the king's treasury.

[link to original Greek text] 182 In person he was insignificant, as is shown by the statue in the Ceramicus, which is almost hidden by an equestrian statue hard by; and this is why Carneades called him Crypsippus or Horse-hidden. Once when somebody reproached him for not going with the multitude to hear Ariston, he rejoined, "If I had followed the multitude, I should not have studied philosophy." When some dialectician got up and attacked Cleanthes, proposing philosophical fallacies to him, Chrysippus called to him. "Cease to distract your elder from matters of importance; propound such quibbles to us juniors." Again, when somebody who had a question to ask was steadily conversing with him in private, and then upon seeing a crowd approaching began to be more contentious, he said:

Ah! brother mine, thine eye is growing wild:

To madness fast thou'rt changing, sane but now.2

[link to original Greek text] 183 At wine-parties he used to behave quietly, though he was unsteady on his legs; which caused the woman-slave to say, "As for Chrysippus, only his legs get tipsy." His opinion of himself was so high that when some one inquired, "To whom shall I entrust my son?" he replied, "To me: for if I had dreamt of there being anyone better than  p293 myself, I should myself be studying with him." Hence, it is said, the application to him of the line:3

He alone has understanding; the others flit shadow-like around;


But for Chrysippus, there had been no Porch.

At last, however, — so we are told by Sotion in his eighth book, — he joined Arcesilaus and Lacydes and studied philosophy under them in the Academy. [link to original Greek text] 184 And this explains his arguing at one time against, and at another in support of, ordinary experience, and his use of the method of the Academy when treating of magnitudes and numbers.

On one occasion, as Hermippus relates, when he had his school in the Odeum, he was invited by his pupils to a sacrificial feast. 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.4 This is the date given by Apollodorus in his Chronology. I have toyed with the subject in the following verses:5

Chrysippus turned giddy after gulping down a draught of Bacchus; he spared not the Porch nor his country nor his own life, but fared straight to the house of Hades.

[link to original Greek text] 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.

 p295  He appears to have been a very arrogant man.6 At any rate, of all his many writings he dedicated none to any of the kings. And he was satisfied with one old woman's judgement, says Demetrius in his work called Men of the Same Name. When Ptolemy wrote to Cleanthes requesting him to come himself or else to send some one to his court, Sphaerus undertook the journey, while Chrysippus declined to go. On the other hand, he sent for his sisters sons, Aristocreon and Philocrates, and educated them. Demetrius above mentioned is also our authority for the statement that Chrysippus was the first who ventured to hold a lecture-class in the open air in the Lyceum.

[link to original Greek text] 186 There was another Chrysippus, a native of Cnidus, a physician,7 to whom Erasistratus says that he was under great obligation. And another besides, a son8 of the former, court-physician to Ptolemy, who on a false charge was dragged about and castigated with the lash. And yet another was a pupil of Erasistratus, and another the author of a work on Agriculture.

To return to the philosopher. He used to propound arguments such as the following: "He who divulges the mysteries to the uninitiated is guilty of impiety. Now the hierophant certainly does reveal the mysteries to the uninitiated, ergo he is guilty of impiety."9 Or again: "What is not in the city is not in the house either: now there is no well in the city, ergo there is none in the house either." Yet another: "There is a certain head, and that head you have not. Now this being so, there is a head which you have not, therefore you are without a head." [link to original Greek text] 187 Again: "If anyone is in Megara, he is not in Athens; now there is a man in Megara,  p297 therefore there is not a man in Athens." Again: "If you say something, it passes through your lips: now you say wagon, consequently a wagon passes through your lips." And further: "If you never lost something, you have it still; but you never lost horns, ergo you have horns." Others attribute this to Eubulides.

There are people who run Chrysippus down as having written much in a tone that is gross and indecent. For in his work On the ancient Natural Philosophers at line 600 or thereabouts he interprets the story of Hera and Zeus coarsely, with details which no one would soil his lips by repeating. [link to original Greek text] 188 Indeed, his interpretation of the story is condemned as most indecent. He may be commending physical doctrine; but the language used is more appropriate to street-walkers than to deities; and it is moreover not even mentioned by bibliographers, who wrote on the titles of books. and Chrysippus makes of it is not to be found in Polemo nor Hypsicrates, no, nor even in Antigonus. It is his own invention. Again, in his Republic he permits marriage with mothers and daughters and sons. He says the same in his work On Things for their own Sake not Desirable, right at the outset. In the third book of his treatise On Justice, at about line 1000, he permits eating of the corpses of the dead. And in the second book of helps On the Means of Livelihood, where he professes to be considering a priori how the wise man is to get his living, occur the words: [link to original Greek text] 189 "And yet what reason is there that he should provide a living? For uses for it be to support life, life itself is after all a thing indifferent. While if it be for virtue, virtue in itself is sufficient  p299 to constitute happiness. The modes of getting a livelihood are also ludicrous, as e.g. maintenance by a king; for he will have to be humoured: or by friends; for friendship will then be purchasable for money: or living by wisdom; for so wisdom will become mercenary." These are the objection urged against him.

As the reputation of his writings stands so high, I have decided to make a separate catalogue of them, arranged according to the class of subject treated. And they are as follows:

I. Logic.

Logical Theses.

The Philosopher's Inquiries.

Dialectical Definitions addressed to Metrodorus, six books.

On the Terms used in Dialectic, addressed to Zeno, one book.

[link to original Greek text] 190 Art of Dialectic, addressed to Aristagoras, one book.

Probable Hypothetical Judgements, addressed to Dioscurides, four books.

II. Logic dealing with the subject matter.

First series:

Of Judgements, one book.

Of Judgements which are not Simple, one book.

Of the Complex Judgement, addressed to Athenades, two books.

Of Negative Judgements, addressed to Aristagoras, three books.

Of Affirmative Judgements, addressed to Athenodorus, one book.

 p301  Of Judgements expressed by means of Privation, addressed to Thearus, one book.

Of Indefinite Judgements, addressed to Dion, three books.

On the Variety Of Indefinite Judgements, four book.

On Temporal Judgements, two books.

On Judgements in the Perfect Tense, two books.

Second series:

Of a True Disjunctive Judgement, addressed to Gorgippides, one book.

Of a True Hypothetical Judgement, addressed to Gorgippides, four books.

[link to original Greek text] 191 Choosing from Alternatives, addressed to Gorgippides, one book.

A Contribution to the Subject of Consequents, one book.

On the Argument which employs three Terms, also addressed to Gorgippides, one book.

On Judgements of Possibility, addressed to Clitus, four books.

A Reply to the Work of Philo on Meaning, one book.

On the Question what are False Judgements, one book.

Third series:

Of Imperatives, two books.

Of Asking Questions, two books.

Of Inquiry, two books.

Epitome of Interrogation and Inquiry, one book.

Epitome of Reply, one book.

Of Investigation, two books.

Of Answering Questions, four books.

[link to original Greek text] 192 Fourth series:

Of Predicates, addressed to Metrodorus, ten books.

 p303  Of Nominatives and Oblique Cases, addressed to Phylarchus, one book.

Of Hypothetical Syllogisms, addressed to Apollonides, one book.

A Work, addressed to Pasylus, on Predicates, four books.

Fifth series:

Of the Five Cases, one book.

Of Enunciations classified according to subject matter, one book.

Of Modification of Significance, addressed to Stesagoras, two books.

Of Proper Nouns, two books.

III. Logic, as concerned with words or phrases and the sentence.

First series:

Of Singular and Plural Expressions, six books.

On Single Words, addressed to Sosigenes and Alexander, five books.

Of Anomalous Words or Phrases, addressed to Dion, four books.

Of the Sorites Argument as applied to Uttered Words, three books.

On Solecisms, one book.

On Solecistic Sentences, arcade to Dionysius, one book.

Sentences violating Ordinary Usage, one book.

Diction, addressed to Dionysius, one book.

Second series:

Of the Elements of Speech and on Words Spoken, five books.

Of the Arrangement of Words Spoken, four books.

 p305  [link to original Greek text] 193 Of the Arrangement and Elements of Sentences, addressed to Philip, three books.

Of the Elements of Speech, addressed to Nicias, one book.

Of the Relative Term, one book.

Third series:

Against Those who reject Division, two books.

On Ambiguous Forms of Speech, addressed to Apollas, four books.

On Figurative Ambiguities, one book.

Of Ambiguity in the Moods of the Hypothetical Syllogism, two books.

A Reply to the Work of Panthoides on Ambiguities, two books.

Introduction to the Study of Ambiguities, five books.

Epitome of the Work on Ambiguities, addressed to Epicrates, one book.

Materials collected for the Introduction to the Study of Ambiguities, two books.

IV. Logic as concerned with syllogisms and moods.

First series:

Handbook of Argument and Moods, addressed to Dioscurides, five books.

[link to original Greek text] 194 Of Syllogisms, three books.

Of the Construction of Moods, addressed to Stesagoras, two books.

Comparison of the Judgements expressed in the Moods, one book.

Of Reciprocal and Hypothetical Syllogisms, one book.

To Agathon, or Of the Problems that remain, one book.

On the Question what Premisses are capable of demonstrating a given Conclusion with the Aid of one or more Subsidiary Premisses, one book.

 p307  Of Inferences, addressed to Aristagoras, one book.

How the same Syllogism may be drawn up in several Moods, one book.

Reply to the Objections brought against drawing out the same Argument syllogistically and without a Syllogism, two books.

Reply to the Objections against the Analyses of Syllogisms, three books.

Reply to Philo's Work on Moods, addressed to Timostratus, one book.

Collected Logical Writings, addressed to Timocrates and Philomathes; a Criticism of their Works on Moods and Syllogisms, one book.

[link to original Greek text] 195 Second series:

On Conclusive Arguments, addressed to Zeno, one book.

On the Primary Indemonstrable Syllogisms, addressed to Zeno, one book.

On the Analysis of Syllogisms, one book.

Of Redundant Arguments, addressed to Pasylus, two books.

Of the Rules for Syllogisms, one book.

Of Introductory or Elementary Syllogisms, addressed to Zeno, one book.

Of the Introductory Moods, addressed to Zeno, three books.

Of the Syllogisms under False Figures, five books.

Syllogistic Arguments by Resolution in Indemonstrable Arguments, one book.

Inquiries into the Moods: addressed to Zeno and Philomathes, one book. (This appears to be spurious.)

 p309  Third series:

On Variable Arguments, addressed to Athenades, one book. (This also is spurious.)

[link to original Greek text] 196 Variable Arguments concerning the Mean, three books. (Spurious.)

A Reply to Ameinias' "Disjunctive Syllogisms," one book.

Fourth series:

On Hypotheses, addressed to Meleager, three books.

Hypothetical Syllogisms upon the Allows, again addressed to Meleager, one book.

Hypothetical Syllogisms to serve as Introduction, two books.

Hypothetical Syllogisms consisting of Theorems, two books.

Solutions of the Hypothetical Arguments of Hedylus, t2bk.

Solutions of the Hypothetical Arguments of Alexander, three books. (Spurious.)

On Explanatory Symbols, addressed to Laodamas, one book.

Fifth series:

Introduction to the Mentiens10 Argument, addressed to Aristocreon, one book.

Arguments of the Mentiens Type, to serve as Introduction, one book.

Of the Mentiens Argument, addressed to Aristocreon, six books.

Sixth series:

Reply to those who hold that Propositions may be at once False and True, one book.

[link to original Greek text] 197 To those who solve the Mentiens by dissecting it, addressed to Aristocreon, two books.

 p311  Proofs showing that Indefinite Arguments ought not to be dissected, one book.

Reply to Objections urged against those who condemn the Dissection of Indefinite Arguments, addressed to Pasylus, three books.

Solution in the Style of the Ancients, addressed to Dioscurides, one book.

Of the Solution of the Mentiens, addressed to Aristocreon, three books.

Solutions of the Hypothetical Arguments of Hedylus, addressed to Aristocreon and Apollas, one book.

Seventh series:

To those who maintain that the Premisses of the Mentiens are false, one book.

Of the Sceptic who denies, addressed to Aristocreon, two books.

Negative Arguments, to serve as Logical Exercises, one book.

Of the Argument from Small Increments, addressed to Stesagoras, two books.

Of the Arguments affecting Ordinary Suppositions and on those who are Inactive or Silent, addressed to Onetor, two books.

[link to original Greek text] 198 Of the Fallacy of "the Veiled Person," address to Aristobulus, two books.

On the Puzzle of "the Man who escapes Detection," addressed to Athenades, one book.

Eighth series:

Of the "Nobody" Puzzle, addressed to Menecrates, eight books.

Of the Arguments derived from the Indeterminate and the Determined, addressed to Pasylus, two books.

 p313  Of the "Nobody" Argument, addressed to Epicrates, one book.

Ninth series:

Of Sophisms, addressed to Heraclides and Pollis, two books.

Of Dialectical Puzzles, addressed to Dioscurides, five books.

Reply to the Method of Arcesilaus, dedicated to Sphaerus, one book.

Tenth series:

Attack upon Common Sense, addressed to Metrodorus, six books.

Defence of Common Sense, addressed to Gorgippides, seven books.

V. Under Logic.

Thirty-nine investigations outside the range of the four above-mentioned main divisions dealing with isolated logical investigations not included in separate wholes of the subjects enumerated. The total of the logical writings is three hundred and eleven.

[link to original Greek text] 199 1. Ethics dealing with the classification of ethical conceptions.

First series:

Outline of Ethical Theory, addressed to Theoporos, one book.

Ethical Theses, one book.

Probable Premisses for Ethical Doctrines, addressed to Philomathes, three books.

Definitions of the Good or Virtuous, addressed to Metrodorus, two books.

Definitions of the Bad or Vicious, addressed to Metrodorus, two books.

 p315  Definitions of the Morally Intermediate, addressed to Metrodorus, two books.

Definitions of the Generic Notions [in Ethics], addressed to Metrodorus, seven books.

Definitions concerned with other Branches of Science, addressed to Metrodorus, two books.

Second series:

Of Similes, addressed to Aristocles, three books.

Of Definitions, addressed to Metrodorus, seven books.

Third series:

Of the Objections wrongly urged against the Definitions, addressed to Laodamas, seven books.

[link to original Greek text] 200 Probabilities in Support of the Definitions, addressed to Dioscurides, two books.

Of Species and Genera, addressed to Gorgippides, two books.

Of Classifications, one book.

Of Contraries, addressed to Dionysius, two books.

Probable Arguments relative to the Classifications, Genera and Species, and the Treatment of Contraries, one book.

Fourth series:

Of Etymological Matters, addressed to Diocles, seven books.

Points of Etymology, addressed to Diocles, four books.

Fifth series:

On Proverbs, addressed to Zenodotus, two books.

Of Poems, addressed to Philomathes, one book.

On the Right Way of reading Poetry, two books.

A Reply to Critics, addressed to Diodorus, one book.

 p317  [link to original Greek text] 201 2. Ethics dealing with the common view and the sciences and virtues thence arising.

First series:

Against the Touching up of Paintings, addressed to Timonax, one book.

How it is we name each Thing and form a Conception of it, one book.

Of Conceptions, addressed to Laodamas, two books.

Of Opinion or Assumption, addressed to Pythonax, three books.

Proofs that the Wise Man will not hold Opinions,11 one book.

Of Apprehension, of Knowledge and of Ignorance,12 four books.

Of Reason, two books.

Of the Use of Reason, addressed to Leptines.

Second series:

That the Ancients rightly admitted Dialectic as well as Demonstration, addressed to Zeno, two books.

[link to original Greek text] 202 Of Dialectic, addressed to Aristocreon, four books.

Of the Objections urged against the Dialecticians, three books.

Of Rhetoric, addressed to Dioscurides, four books.

Third series:

Of formed State, or Habit, of Mind, addressed to Cleon, three books.

Of Art and the Inartistic, addressed to Aristocreon, four books.

Of the Difference between the Virtues, addressed to Diodorus, four books.

 p319  Of the Characters of the several Virtues, one book.

Of Virtues, addressed to Pollis, two books.

3. Ethics, dealing with things good and evil.

First series:

Of the Good or Morally Beautiful and Pleasure, addressed to Aristocreon, ten books.

Proofs that Pleasure is not the End-in‑chief of Action, four books.

Proofs that Pleasure is not a Good, four books.

Of the Arguments commonly used on Behalf of [Pleasure].

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Eur. Or. 540‑1.

2 Eur. Or. 253.

3 Od. X.495.

4 208‑204 B.C.

5 Anth. Pal. VII.706.

6 In §§ 185‑189; cf. Wilamowitz, Antig. von K., pp104 sq.

7 Cf. VIII.89‑90, and note ad loc.; also Pliny, N. H. XXIX.5.

8 Or perhaps a grandson, as Wilamowitz suggests, Antig. von Kar. p326.

9 Cf. supr. II.101.

10 A well-known fallacy: see Book II § 108.

11 Cf. supra, § 162.

12 Cf. Cicero, Acad. post. 42 "sed inter scientiam et inscientiam comprehensionem illam, quam dixi, collocabat" [sc. Zeno]; Sext. Emp. Adv. math. VII.151.

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