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THE LIVES AND OPINIONS OF EMINENT PHILOSOPHERS

BY DIOGENES LAERTIUS, TRANSLATED BY C.D. YONGE

LIFE OF CARNEADES



I. CARNEADES was the son of Epicomus, or Philocomus, as Alexander states in his Successions; and a native of Cyrene.

II. He read all the books of the Stoics with great care, and especially those of Chrysippus; and then he wrote replies to them, but did it at the same time with such modesty that he used to say, "If Chrysippus had not lived, I should never have existed."

III. He was a man of as great industry as ever existed; not, however, very much devoted to the investigation of subjects of natural philosophy, but more fond of the discussion of ethical topics, on which account he used to let his hair and his nails grow, from his entire devotion of all his time to philosophical discussion. And he was so eminent as a philosopher, that the orators would quit their own schools and come and listen to his lectures.

IV. He was also a man of a very powerful voice, so that the president of the Gymnasium sent to him once, to desire he would not shout so loudly. And he replied, "Give me then, measure for my voice." And the gymnasiarch again rejoined with great wit, for he said "You have a measure in your pupils."

V. He was a very vehement speaker, and one difficult to contend with in the investigation of a point. And he used to decline all invitations to entertainments, for the reasons I have already mentioned.

VI. On one occasion when Mentor, the Bithynian, one of his pupils, came to him to attend his school, observing that he was trying to seduce his mistress (as Favorinus relates in his Universal History), while he was in the middle of his lecture, he made the following parody in allusion to him:

A weak old man comes hither, like in voice,
And gait, and figure, to the prudent Mentor
I order him to be expelled this school.

And Mentor rising up, replied:

Thus did they speak, and straight the others rose.

VII. He appears to have been beset with fears of death; as he was continually saying, "Nature, who has put this frame together, will also dissolve it." And learning that Antipater had died after having taken poison, he felt a desire to imitate the boldness of his departure, and said, "Give me some too." And when they asked "What?" "Some mead," said he. And it is said that an eclipse of the moon happened when he died, the most beautiful of all the stars, next to the sun, indicating (as any one might say) its sympathy with the philosopher. And Apollodorus, in his Chronicles, says that he died in the fourth year of the hundred and sixty-second Olympiad, being eighty-five years old.

VIII. There are some letters extant addressed by him to Ariarathes, the king of the Cappadocians. All the other writings which are attributed to him were written by his disciples, for he himself left nothing behind him. And I have written on him the following lines in logoaedical Archebulian metre.

Why now, O Muse, do you wish me Carneades to confute?
He was an ignoramus, as he did not understand
Why he should stand in fear of death: so once, when he'd a cough,
The worst of all diseases that affect the human frame,
He cared not for a remedy; but when the news did reach him,
That brave Antipater had ta'en some poison, and so died,
"Give me, said he, some stuff to drink." "Some what?"- "Some luscious mead."
Moreover, he'd this saying at all times upon his lips:
"Nature did make me, and she does together keep me still;
But soon the time will come when she will pull me all to pieces."
But still at last he yielded up the ghost: though long ago
He might have died, and so escaped the evils that befell him.

IX. It is said that at night he was not aware when lights were brought in; and that once he ordered his servant to light the candles, and when he had brought them in and told him, "I have brought them;" "Well then," said he, "read by the light of them."

X. He had a great many other disciples; but the most eminent of them was Clitomachus, whom we must mention presently.

XI. There was also another man of the name of Carneades, a very indifferent elegiac poet.










Scanned and edited for Peithô's Web from The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, by Diogenes Laertius, Literally translated by C.D. Yonge. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853. Footnotes have been converted to endnotes. Some, but not all, of Yonge's spellings of ancient names have been updated.

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