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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. I) Diogenes Laërtius
Lives of the Eminent Philosophers

Book V

 p519  Chapter 4
Lyco (299‑225 B.C.)

[link to original Greek text] 65 Strato's successor was Lyco, the son of Astyanax of Troas, a master of expression and of the foremost rank in the education of boys. For he used to say that modesty and love of honour were as necessary an equipment for boys as spur and bridle for horses. His eloquence and sonorousness of diction appear from the following fact; he speaks of a penniless maiden as follows: "A grievous burden to a father is a girl, when for lack of a dowry she runs past the flower of her age." Hence the remark which Antigonus is said to have made about him, that it was not possible to transfer elsewhere the fragrance and charm of the apple, but each separate expression must be contemplated in the speaker himself as every single apple is on the tree. [link to original Greek text] 66 This was because Lyco's voice was exceedingly sweet, so that some persons altered his name to Glyco, by prefixing a G. But in writing he fell off sadly. For instance, those who regretted their neglect to learn when they had the opportunity and wished they had done so he would hit off neatly as follows, remarking that "they were their own accusers, betraying, by vain regret, repentance for an incorrigible laziness." Those who deliberated wrongly he used to say were out in their calculations, as if they had used a crooked rule to test something straight, or looked at the reflection of a face in troubled water or a distorting mirror. Again, "Many go in search of the garland of the market-place; few or none seek  p521 the crown at Olympia." He often gave the Athenians advice on various subjects and thus conferred on them the greatest benefits.

[link to original Greek text] 67 In his dress he was most immaculate, so that the clothes he wore were unsurpassed for the softness of the material, according to Hermippus. Furthermore, he was well practised in gymnastics and kept himself in condition, displaying all an athlete's habit of body, with battered ears and skin begrimed with oil, so we are told by Antigonus of Carystus. Hence it is said that he not only wrestled but played the game of ball common in his birthplace of Ilium. He was esteemed beyond all other philosophers by Eumenes and Attalus, who also did him very great service. [link to original Greek text] 68 Antiochus too tried to get hold of him, but without success. He was so hostile to Hieronymus the Peripatetic that he alone declined to meet him on the anniversary which we have mentioned in the Life of Arcesilaus.1

He presided over the school forty-four years after Strato had bequeathed it to him by his will in the 127th Olympiad.​2 Not but what he also attended the lectures of the logician Panthoides. He died at the age of seventy-four after severe sufferings from gout. This is my epitaph upon him:3

Nor, I swear! will I pass over Lyco either, for all that he died of the gout. But this it is which amazes me the most, if he who formerly could walk only with the feet of others, did in a single night traverse the long, long road to Hades.

[link to original Greek text] 69 Other men have borne the name of Lyco: (1) a Pythagorean, (2) our present subject, (3) an epic poet, (4) a poet who wrote epigrams.

 p523  I have also come across this philosopher's will. It is this:

"These are my dispositions concerning my property, in case I should be unable to sustain my present ailment. All the goods in my house I give to my brothers Astyanax and Lyco, and from this source should, I think, be paid all the money I have laid out at Athens, whether by borrowing or by purchase, as well as all the cost of my funeral and the other customary charges. [link to original Greek text] 70 But my property in town and at Aegina I give to Lyco because he bears the same name with me, and has resided for a long time with me to my entire satisfaction, as became one whom I treated as my son. I leave the Peripatus to such of my friends as choose to make use of it, to Bulo, Callinus, Ariston, Amphion, Lyco, Pytho, Aristomachus, Heracleus, Lycomedes, and my nephew Lyco. They shall put over it any such person as in their opinion will persevere in the work of the school and will be most capable of extending it. And all my other friends should co‑operate for love of me and of the spot. Bulo and Callinus, together with their colleagues, shall provide for my funeral and cremation, so as to avoid meanness on the one hand and extravagance on the other. [link to original Greek text] 71 After my decease Lyco shall make over, for the use of the young men, the oil from the olive-trees belonging to me in Aegina for the due commemoration — so long as they use it — of myself and the benefactor who did me honour. He shall also set up my statue, and shall choose a convenient site where it shall be erected, with the assistance of Diophantus and Heraclides the son of Demetrius. From my property in town Lyco shall repay all from whom I have  p525 borrowed anything after his departure. Bulo and Callinus shall provide the sums expended upon my funeral and other customary charges. These sums they shall recover from the moneys in the house bequeathed by me to them both in common. [link to original Greek text] 72 They shall also remunerate the physicians Pasithemis and Medias who for their attention to me and their skill deserve far higher reward. I bequeath to the child of Callinus a pair of Thericlean cups, and to his wife a pair of Rhodian vessels, a smooth carpet, a rug with nap on both sides, a sofa cover and two cushions the best that are left, that, so far as I have the means of recompensing them, I may prove not ungrateful. With regard to the servants who have waited upon me, my wishes are as follows. To Demetrius I remit the purchase-money for the freedom which he has long enjoyed, and bequeath to him five minas and a suit of clothes to ensure him a decent maintenance, in return for all the toil he has borne with me. To Crito of Chalcedon I also remit the purchase-money for his freedom and bequeath to him four minas. And Micrus I emancipate; and Lyco shall keep him and educate him for the next six years. [link to original Greek text] 73 And Chares I emancipate, and Lyco shall maintain him, and I bequeath him two minas and my published writings, while those which have not been given to the world I entrust to Callinus, that he may carefully edit them. To Syrus who has been set free I give four minas and Menodora, and I remit to him any debt he owes me. And to Hilara I give five minas and a double-napped rug, two cushions, a sofa-cover and a bed, whichever she prefers. I also set free the mother of Micrus as well as Noëmon, Dion, Theon, Euphranor and Hermias. Agathon should be set  p527 free after two years, and the litter-bearers Ophelio and Poseidonius after four years' further service. [link to original Greek text] 74 To Demetrius, to Crito and to Syrus I give a bed apiece and such bed‑furniture out of my estate as Lyco shall think proper. These shall be given them for properly performing their appointed tasks. As regards my burial, let Lyco bury me here if he chooses, or if he prefers to bury me at home let him do so, for I am persuaded that his regard for propriety is not less than my own. When he has managed all these things, he can dispose of the property there, and such disposition shall be binding. Witnesses are Callinus of Hermione, Ariston of Ceos, Euphronius of Paeania."

Thus while his shrewdness is seen in all his actions, in his teaching and in all his studies, in some ways his will is no less remarkable for carefulness and wise management, so that in this respect also he is to be admired.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 IV.41.

2 274‑270 B.C.

3 Anth. Pal. VII.112.

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