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Bill Thayer

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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,
please let me know!


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

Book VII

 p285  Chapter 6
Sphaerus (flor. c. 220 B.C.)

[link to original Greek text] 177 Amongst those who after the death of Zeno became pupils of Cleanthes was Sphaerus of Bosporus as already mentioned.​1 After making considerable progress in his studies, he went to Alexandria to the court of King Ptolemy Philopator.​2 One day when a discussion had arisen on the question whether the wise man could stoop to hold opinion,​3 and Sphaerus had maintained that this was impossible, the king, wishing to refute him, ordered some waxen pomegranates to be put on the table. Sphaerus was taken in and the king cried out, "You have given your assent to a presentation which is false." But Sphaerus was ready with a neat answer. "I assented not to the proposition that they are pomegranates, but to another, that there are good grounds for thinking them to be pomegranates. Certainty of presentation and reasonable probability are two totally different things." Mnesistratus having accused him of denying that Ptolemy was a king, his reply was, "Being of such quality as he is, Ptolemy is indeed a king."

[link to original Greek text] 178 The books that he wrote were as follows:

Of the Cosmos, two books.

Of Elements.

Of Seed.

Of Fortune.

p287 Of Minimal Parts.

Against Atoms and Images.

Of Organs of Sense.

A Course of Five Lectures on Heraclitus.

On the Right Arrangement of Ethical Doctrine.

Of Duty.

Of Impulse.

Of the Passions, two books.

Of Kingship.

Of the Spartan Constitution.

Of Lycurgus and Socrates, three books.

Of Law.

On Divination.

Dialogues on Love.

Of the School of Eretria.

Of Similars.

Of Terms.

Of Habit.

Of Contradictions, three books.

Of Discourse.

Of Wealth.

Of Fame.

Of Death.

Handbook of Dialectic, two books.

Of Predicates.

Of Ambiguous Terms.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 § 37.

2 222‑205 B.C.

Thayer's Note: But see E. R. Bevan: The House of Ptolemy, p233 n., who thinks with Susemihl that it may be a different Ptolemy.

3 Cf. sup. § 162.

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Page updated: 15 Feb 18