Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers

Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers

"Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers" ( _el. Βίοι καὶ γνῶμαι τῶν ἐν φιλοσοφίᾳ εὐδοκιμησάντων) is a biography of the Greek philosophers by Diogenes Laërtius, written in Greek, perhaps in the first half of the third century AD.

It professes to give an account of the lives and sayings of the Greek philosophers. Michel de Montaigne once wrote that he wished that instead of one Laërtius there had been a dozen. [Montaigne, "Essays" II.10 [ "Of Books"] .]

Organization of the work

Laërtius treats his subject in two divisions which he describes as the Ionian and the Italian schools. The biographies of the former begin with Anaximander, and end with Clitomachus, Theophrastus and Chrysippus; the latter begins with Pythagoras, and ends with Epicurus. The Socratic school, with its various branches, is classed with the Ionic; while the Eleatics and sceptics are treated under the Italic. He also includes his own poetic verse, albeit pedestrian, about the philosophers he discusses.

The whole of the last book is devoted to Epicurus, and contains three letters addressed to Herodotus, Pythocles and Menoeceus. His chief authorities were Diocles of Magnesia's "Cursory Notice of Philosophers" and Favorinus's "Miscellaneous History and Memoirs". From the statements of Burlaeus (Walter Burley, a 14th-century monk) in his "De vita et moribus philosophorum" the text of Diogenes seems to have been much fuller than that which we now possess.


External links

* [ On-line version of Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers]
* [ Article]
* [,+et+al).htm Diogenes Laërtius The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers trans. C.D. Yonge (London: George Bell & Sons, 1895: Public Domain)]

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