Monday, May 9, 2022

Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers

LIVES AND OPINIONS OF THE EMINENT PHILOSOPHERS (Diogenes Laërtius, Greek, fl. 3rd century CE)

Diogenes Laërtius is not to be confused with the Athenian Diogenes the Cynic (c. 412-323 BCE). It doesn't matter much, though, as little is known of the later Diogenes--ironic, as his subject is biography. His dates are uncertain, and even his name has taken several forms--this is just the one we have settled on in modern times--and the meaning of Laërtius--whether name, nickname, or place of origin--is unknown. The Lives is a work of uneven value: Diogenes seldom assessed his sources, accepting whatever he was told. On the other hand, his is the only surviving version of some of those sources, making his work invaluable. The Lives as we have it covers around 80 Greek philosophers, starting with the legendary "Seven Sages." Six other philosophers are also mentioned incidentally, and a table of contents shows that Book VII in our incomplete manuscripts once included 20 more.


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