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Protagoras

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,
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Anaxarchus

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

Book IX

 p469  Chapter 8
Diogenes of Apollonia1

[link to original Greek text] 57 Diogenes of Apollonia, son of Apollothemis, was a natural philosopher and a most famous man. Antisthenes  p471 calls him a pupil of Anaximenes; but he lived in Anaxagoras's time. This man,2 so great was his unpopularity at Athens, almost lost his life, as Demetrius of Phalerum states in his Defence of Socrates.

The doctrines of Diogenes were as follows.3 Air is the universal element. There are worlds unlimited in number, and unlimited empty space. Air by condensation and rarefaction generates the worlds. Nothing comes into being from what is not or passes away into what is not. The earth is spherical, firmly supported in the centre, having its construction determined by the revolution which comes from heat and by the congealment caused by cold.

The words with which his treatise begins are these: "At the beginning of every discourse I consider that one ought to make the starting-point unmistakably clear and the exposition simple and dignified."


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 We naturally feel surprise when this early philosopher is interpolated between Protagoras and Anaxarchus, both assumed to be pupils of Democritus. The only explanation suggested is a severe reflection on our author's acquaintance with his subject. There was a certain Diogenes of Smyrna, an obscure adherent of the school of Abdera. D. L., or more probably one of his authorities, has confused this Democritean with the earlier and better-known Diogenes of Apollonia. It is also strange that there is no Life of Metrodorus of Chios or of Nausiphanes.

2 i.e. Anaxagoras.

3 Diels (op. cit. p144) compares Plutarch, Strom. apud Euseb. Praep. Evang. I.8.13; Aëtius I.3.26; Theophrastus, Phys. Opin. Fr. 2.


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