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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.
If you find a mistake though,
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(Vol. II) Diogenes Laërtius
Lives of the Eminent Philosophers

Book VI

 p103  Chapter 8

[link to original Greek text] 99 Menippus,1 also a Cynic, was by descent a Phoenician — a slave, as Achaïcus in his treatise on Ethics says. Diocles further informs us that his master was a citizen of Pontus and was named Baton. But as avarice made him very resolute in begging, he succeeded in becoming a Theban.

There is no seriousness in him;2 but his books overflow with laughter, much the same as those of his contemporary Meleager.3

Hermippus says that he lent out money by the day and got a nickname from doing so. For he used to make loans on bottomry and take security, thus accumulating a large fortune. [link to original Greek text] 100 At last, however, he fell victim to a plot, was robbed of all, and in despair ended his days by hanging himself. I have composed a trifle upon him:4


May be, you know Menippus,

Phoenician by birth, but a Cretan hound:

A money-lender by the day — so he was called —

At Thebes when once on a time his house was broken into

And he lost his all, not understanding what it is to be a Cynic,

He hanged himself.

Some authorities question the genuineness of the books attributed to him, alleging them to be by Dionysius and Zopyrus of Colophon, who, writing them for a joke, made them over to Menippus as a person able to dispose of them advantageously.

[link to original Greek text] 101 There have been six men named Menippus: the first the man who wrote a History of the Lydians and abridged Xanthus; the second my present subject; the third a sophist of Stratonicea, a Carian by descent;5 the fourth a sculptor; the fifth and sixth painters, both mentioned by Apollodorus.

However, the writings of Menippus the Cynic are thirteen in number:



Epistles artificially composed as if by the gods.

Replies to the physicists and mathematicians and grammarians; and

A book about the birth of Epicurus; and

The School's reverence for the twentieth day.

Besides other works.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 "Menippus ille, nobilis quidem canis," Varro apud Nonium 333. Cf. Lucian, Icaromenippus 15, Bis Accusatus 33. Varro's Saturae Menippeae, a mixture of prose and verse, were an imitation of the style of Menippus, although their subject matter was original and genuinely Roman.

2 Strabo, however (XVI p759), speaks of him as σπουδογέλοιος.

3 For a fragment from his Banquet see Athenaeus 502C.

4 Anth. Plan. V.41.

5 Cf. Cic. Brut. 91, § 315 "post a me tota Asia peragrata est, <fuique> cum summis quidem oratoribus, quibuscum exercebar ipsis lubentibus; quorum erat princeps Menippus Stratonicensis meo iudicio tota Asia illis temporibus disertissimus," and Strabo XIV.660.º

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Page updated: 15 Feb 18