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Crates

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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Arcesilaus

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

Book IV

 p401  Chapter 5
Crantor
(Perhaps about 340‑290 B.C.)

[link to original Greek text] 24 Crantor of Soli, though he was much esteemed in his native country, left it for Athens and attended the lectures of Xenocrates at the same time as Polemo. He left memoirs extending to 30,000 lines, some of which are by some critics attributed to Arcesilaus. He is said to have been asked what it was in Polemo that attracted him, and to have  p403 replied, "The fact that I never heard him raise or lower his voice in speaking." He happened to fall ill, and retired to the temple of Asclepius, where he proceeded to walk about. At once people flocked round him in the belief that he had retired thither, not on account of illness, but in order to open a school. Among them was Arcesilaus, who wished to be introduced by his means to Polemo, notwithstanding the affection which united the two, as will be related in the Life of Arcesilaus. [link to original Greek text] 25 However, when he recovered, he continued to attend Polemo's lectures, and for this he was universally praised. He is also said to have left Arcesilaus his property, to the value of twelve talents. And when asked by him where he wished to be buried, he answered:1

Sweet in some nook of native soil to rest.

It is also said that he wrote poems and deposited them under seal in the temple of Athena in his native place. And Theaetetus the poet writes thus of him:2

Pleasing to men, more pleasing to the Muses, lived Crantor, and never saw old age. Receive, O earth, the hallowed dead; gently may he live and thrive even in the world below.

[link to original Greek text] 26 Crantor admired Homer and Euripides above all other poets; it is hard, he said, at once to write tragedy and to stir the emotions in the language of everyday life. And he would quote the line from the story of Bellerophon:3

Alas! But why Alas? We have suffered the lot of mortals.

And it is said that there are extant4 these lines of the poet Antagoras, spoken by Crantor on Love:

 p405  My mind is in doubt, since thy birth is disputed, whether I am to call thee, Love, the first of the immortal gods, the eldest of all the children whom old Erebus and queenly Night brought to birth in the depths beneath wide Ocean; [link to original Greek text] 27 or art thou the child of wise Cypris, or of Earth, or of the Winds? So many are the goods and ills thou devisest for men in thy wanderings. Therefore hast thou a body of double form.

He was also clever at inventing terms. For instance, he said of a tragic player's voice that it was unpolished and unpeeled. And of a certain poet that his verses abounded in miserliness. And that the disquisitions of Theophrastus were written with an oyster-shell. His most highly esteemed work is the treatise On Grief.5 He died before Polemo and Crates, his end being hastened by dropsy. I have composed upon him the following epigram:6

The worst of maladies overwhelmed you, Crantor, and thus did you descend the black abyss of Pluto. While you fare well even in the world below, the Academy and your country of Soli are bereft of your discourses.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Nauck, T. G. F.2, Adesp. 281.

2 Anth. Plan. II.28.

3 Nauck, T. G. F.2, Eur. 300.

4 Anth. Plan. III.60.

5 "Legimus omnes Crantoris, veteris Academici, de luctu; est enim non magnus, verum aureolus et, ut Tuberoni Panaetius praecipit, ad verbum ediscendus libellus" (Cic. Ac. Pr. II.44).

6 Anth. Plan. II.381.


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Page updated: 15 Feb 18