Stilpo (Greek: Στίλπων), Greek philosopher of the Megarian school (lived c. 325 BC), was a contemporary of Theophrastus and Crates of Thebes. None of his writings survive, he was interested in logic and dialectic, and his ethical teachings approached that of the Cynics and Stoics.


He was a native of Megara. He probably lived after the time of Euclid of Megara, which makes it unlikely that he was a pupil of Euclid, as stated by some; [Diogenes Laërtius, ii. 113; Suda, "Stilpo"] and others state that he was the pupil of Thrasymachus of Corinth, [Diogenes Laërtius, ii. 113] or of Pasicles, the brother of Crates of Thebes. [Suda, "Stilpo"; cf. Diogenes Laërtius, vi. 89] According to one account, he engaged in dialectic encounters with Diodorus Cronus at the court of Ptolemy Soter; according to another, he did not comply with the invitation of the king, to go to Alexandria. We are further told that Demetrius, the son of Antigonus, honoured him no less, spared his house at the capture of Megara, and offered him indemnity for the injury which it had received, which, however, Stilpo declined. [Diogenes Laërtius, ii. 115; Plutarch, "Demetr." c. 9, etc.] Uniting elevated sentiment with gentleness and patience, he, as Plutarch says, [Plutarch, "Colot." c. 22.] was an ornament to his country and friends, and had his acquaintance sought by kings. His original propensity to wine and voluptuousness he is said to have entirely overcome; [Cicero, "de Fato", c. 5.] in inventive power and dialectic art to have surpassed his contemporaries, and to have inspired almost all Greece with a devotion to Megarian philosophy. A number of distinguished men too are named, whom he is said to have drawn away from Aristotle, Theophrastus, and others, and attached to himself; [Diogenes Laërtius, ii. 113, comp. 119, 120] among others Crates the Cynic, and Zeno, the founder of the Stoic school. [Diogenes Laërtius, ii. 113] Among his followers were Menedemus and Asclepiades, the leaders of the Eretrian school of philosophy. One of his pupils, Nicarete, was also said to have been his mistress. [Athenaeus, xiii.; Diogenes Laërtius, ii. 114.] Stilpo was praised for his political wisdom, his simple, straightforward disposition, and the equanimity with which he tolerated his rebellious daughter. [Diogenes Laërtius, ii. 114; comp. Plutarch, "de tranqu. animi," c. 6.] Cicero describes him as a man of the highest character. [Cicero, "De Fato", 5.]


Of the dialogues ascribed to him, we know only the titles. He belonged to the Megarian school of philosophy, but we learn only a little about his doctrines in the few fragments and sayings of his which are quoted. They seem to demonstrate that the phenomenal world is unapproachable to true knowledge. For it is probably in this sense that we are to understand the assertion, that one thing cannot be predicated of another, that is, the essence of things cannot be reached by means of predicates; [Plutarch, "adv. Colot." 22, 23; comp. Simplicius, "in Phys. Ausc." f. 26.] and that the genus, the universal, is not contained in the individual and concrete. [Diogenes Laërtius, ii. 119]

He seems to have been especially interested in the idea of Virtue, [Diogenes Laërtius, ii. 118] and the self-sufficiency of it. He maintained that the wise man ought not only to overcome every evil, but not even to be affected by any, not even to feel it, [Seneca, "Epistles," ix. 1, 18; comp. Plutarch "de Tranqu. animi", 6, Diogenes Laërtius, ii. 114] showing, perhaps, how closely allied Stilpo was to the contemporary Cynics.




External links

*Diogenes Laërtius, [ "Life of Stilpo"]

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