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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.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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(Vol. I) Diogenes Laërtius
Lives of the Eminent Philosophers

Book IV

 p435  Chapter 8
(Head of the Academy c. 242‑216 B.C.)

[link to original Greek text] 59 Lacydes, son of Alexander, was a native of Cyrene. He was the founder of the New Academy and the successor of Arcesilaus: a man of very serious character who found numerous admirers; industrious from his youth up and, though poor, of pleasant manners and pleasant conversation. A most amusing story is told of his housekeeping. Whenever he brought anything out of the store-room, he would seal the door up again and throw his signet-ring inside through the opening, to ensure that nothing laid up there should be stolen or carried off. So soon, then, as his rogues of servants got to know this, they broke the seal and carried off what they pleased, afterwards throwing the ring in the same way through  p437 the opening into the store-room. Nor were they ever detected in this.

[link to original Greek text] 60 Lacydes used to lecture in the Academy, in the garden which had been laid out by King Attalus, and from him it derived its name of Lacydeum. He did what none of his predecessors had ever done; in his lifetime he handed over the school to Telecles and Evander, both of Phocaea. Evander was succeeded by Hegesinus of Pergamum, and he again by Carneades. A good saying is attributed to Lacydes. When Attalus sent for him, he is said to have remarked that statues are best seen from a distance. He studied geometry late, and some one said to him, "Is this a proper time?" To which he replied, "Nay, is it not even yet the proper time?"

[link to original Greek text] 61 He assumed the headship of the school in the fourth of the 134th Olympiad,​1 and at his death he had been head for twenty‑six years. His end was a palsy brought on by drinking too freely. And here is a quip of my own upon the fact:2

Of thee too, O Lacydes, I have heard a tale, that Bacchus seized thee and dragged thee on tip‑toe​3 to the underworld. Nay, was it not clear that when the wine‑god comes in force into the frame, he loosens our limbs? Perhaps this is why he gets his name of the Loosener.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 July 241–June 240 B.C.

2 Anth. Pal. VII.105.

3 Or "with trailing toes." The vases show bodies carried in the arms or flung over the shoulders with the toes just touching the ground.

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Page updated: 5 Mar 18