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THE LIVES AND OPINIONS OF EMINENT PHILOSOPHERS

BY DIOGENES LAERTIUS, TRANSLATED BY C.D. YONGE

LIFE OF CHRYSIPPUS



I. CHRYSIPPUS was the son of Apollonius, and a native of either Soli or Tarsus, as Alexander tells us in his Successions; and he was a pupil of Cleanthes. Previously he used to practise running as a public runner; then he became a pupil of Zeno or of Cleanthes, as Diocles and the generality of authors say, and while he was still living he abandoned him, and became a very eminent philosopher.

II. He was a man of great natural ability, and of great acuteness in every way, so that in many points he dissented from Zeno, and also from Cleanthes, to whom he often used to say that he only wanted to be instructed in the dogmas of the school, and that he would discover the demonstrations for himself. But whenever he opposed him with any vehemence, he always repented, so that he used frequently to say:

In most respects I am a happy man,
Excepting where Cleanthes is concerned;
For in that matter I am far from fortunate.

And he had such a high reputation as a dialectician, that most people thought that if there were such a science as dialectics among the Gods; it would be in no respect different from that of Chrysippus. But though he was so eminently able in matter, he was not perfect in style.

III. He was industrious beyond all other men; as is plain from his writings; for he wrote more than seven hundred and five books. And he often wrote several books on the same subject, wishing to put down everything that occurred to him; and constantly correcting his previous assertions, and using a great abundance of testimonies. So that, as in one of his writings he had quoted very nearly the whole of the Medea of Euripides, and some one had his book in his hands; this latter, when he was asked what he had got there, made answer, "The Medea of Chrysippus." And Apollodorus, the Athenian, in his Collection of Dogmas, wishing to assert that what Epicurus had written out of his own head, and without any quotations to support his arguments, was a great deal more than all the books of Chrysippus, speaks thus (I give his exact words), "For if any one were to take away from the books of Chrysippus all the passages which he quotes from other authors, his paper would be left empty."

These are the words of Apollodorus; but the old woman who lived with him, as Dioles reports, used to say that he wrote five hundred lines every day. And Hecaton says, that he first applied himself to philosophy, when his patrimony had been confiscated, and seized for the royal treasury.

IV. He was slight in person, as is plain from his statue which is in the Ceramicus, which is nearly hidden by the equestrian statue near it; in reference to which circumstance, Carneades called him Cryxippus. (1) He was once reproached by some one for not attending the lectures of Ariston, who was drawing a great crowd after him at the time; and he replied, "If I had attended to the multitude I should not have been a philosopher." And once, when he saw a dialectician pressing hard on Cleanthes, and proposing sophistical fallacies to him, he said, "Cease to drag that old man from more important business, and propose these questions to us who are young." At another time, when some one wishing to ask him something privately, was addressing him quietly, but when he saw a multitude approaching began to speak more energetically he said to him:

Alas, my brother! now your eye is troubled ;
You were quite sane just now; and yet how quickly
Have you succumbed to frenzy.2

V. And at drinking parties he used to behave quietly, moving his legs about however, so that a female slave once said, "It is only the legs of Chrysippus that are drunk." And he had so high an opinion of himself, that once, when a man asked him, "To whom shall I entrust my son?" he said "To me, for if I thought that there was any one better than myself, I would have gone to him to teach me philosophy." In reference to which anecdote they report that people used to say of him:

He has indeed a clear and subtle head,
The rest are forms of empty aether made.3

And also:

For if Chrysippus had not lived and taught,
The Stoic school would surely have been nought.

VI. But at last, when Arcesilaus and Lacydes, as Sotion records in his eighth book, came to the Academy, he joined them in the study of philosophy; from which circumstance he got the habit of arguing for and against a custom, and discussed magnitudes and quantities, following the system of the Academics.

VII. Hermippus relates, that one day, when he was teaching in the Odeum, he was invited to a sacrifice by his pupils; and that, drinking some sweet unmixed wine, he was seized with giddiness, and departed this life five days afterwards, when he had lived seventy-three years; dying in the hundred and forty-third Olympiad, as Apollodorus says in his Chronicles. And we have written an epigram on him:

Chrysippus drank with open mouth some wine;
Then became giddy, and so quickly died.
Too little reeked he of the Porch's weal,
Or of his country's, or of his own dear life;
And so descended to the realms of Hell.

But some people say that he died of a fit of immoderate laughter. For that seeing his ass eating figs, he told his old woman to give the ass some unmixed wine to drink afterwards, and then laughed so violently that he died.

VIII. He appears to have been a man of exceeding arrogance. Accordingly, though he wrote such numbers of books, he never dedicated one of them to any sovereign. And he was contented with one single old woman, as Demetrius tells us, in his People of the same Name. And when Ptolemy wrote to Cleanthes, begging him either to come to him himself or to send him some one, Sphaerus went to him, but Chrysippus slighted the invitation.

IX. However, he sent for the sons of his sister, Aristocrea and Philocrates, and educated them; and he was the first person who ventured to hold a school in the open air in the Lyceum, as the before mentioned Demetrius relates.

X. There was also another Chrysippus, a native of Cnidos, a physician, from whom Erasistratus testifies that he received great benefit. And another also who was a son of his, and the physician of Ptolemy; who, having had a false accusation brought against him, was apprehended and punished by being scourged. There was also a fourth who was a pupil of Erasistratus; and a fifth was an author of a work called Georgics.

XI. Now this philosopher used to delight in proposing questions of this sort. The person who reveals the mysteries to the uninitiated commits a sin; the heirophant reveals them to the uninitiated; therefore the hierophant commits sin? Another was, that which is not in the city, is also not in the house; but a well is not in the city, therefore, there is not a well in the house. Another was, there is a certain head; that head you have not got; there is then a head that you have not got; therefore, you have not got a head. Again, if a man is in Megara, he is not in Athens; but there is a man in Megara, therefore, there is not a man in Athens. Again, if you say anything, what you say comes out of your mouth; but you say "a waggon," therefore a waggon comes out of your mouth. Another was, if you have not lost a thing, you have it; but you have not lost horns; therefore, you have horns. Though some attribute this sophism to Eubulides.

XII. There are people who run Chrysippus down as having written a great deal that is very shameful and indecent. For in his treatise on the Ancient Natural Historians, he relates the story of Jupiter and Juno very indecently, devoting six hundred lines to what no one could repeat without polluting his mouth. For, as it is said, he composes this story, though he praises it as consisting of natural details, in a way more suitable to street walkers than to Goddesses; and not at all resembling the ideas which have been adopted or cited by writers in paintings. For they were found neither in Polemo, nor in Hypsicrates, nor in Antigonus, but were inserted by himself. And in his treatise on Polity, he allows people to marry their mothers, or their daughters, or their sons. And he repeats this doctrine in his treatise on those things which are not desirable for their own sake, in the very opening of it. And in the third book of his treatise on Justice, he devotes a thousand lines to bidding people devour even the dead.

In the second book of his treatise on Life and Means of Support, where he is warning us to consider beforehand, how the wise man ought to provide himself with means, he says, "And yet why need he provide himself with means? For if it is for the sake of living, living at all is a matter of indifference; if it is for the sake of pleasure, that is a matter of indifference too; if it is for the sake of virtue, that is of itself sufficient for happiness. But the methods of providing one's self with means are ridiculous; for instance, some derive them from a king; and then it will be necessary to humour him. Some from friendship; and then friendship will become a thing to be bought with a price. Some from wisdom; and then wisdom will become mercenary; and these are the accusations which he brings."

But since he has written many books of high reputation, it has seemed good to me to give a catalogue of them, classifying them according to their subjects. They are the following:

Books on Logic; Propositions; Logical Questions; a book of the Contemplations of the Philosopher; six books of Dialectic Terms addressed to Metrodorus; one on the Technical Terms used in Dialectics, addressed to Zeno; one called the Art of Dialectics, addressed to Aristagoras; four books of Probable Conjunctive Reasons, addressed to Dioscorides.

The first set of treatises on the Logical Topics, which concern things, contains: one essay on Propositions; one on those Propositions which are not simple; two on the Copulative Propositions, addressed to Athenades; three on Positive Propositions, addressed to Aristagoras; one on Definite Propositions, addressed to Athenodorus; one on Privative Propositions, addressed to Thearus; three on the Best Propositions, addressed to Dion; four on the Differences between Indefinite Propositions; two on those Propositions which are enunciated with a reference to time; two on Perfect Propositions.

The second set contains, one essay on Disjunctive True Propositions addressed to Gorgippides; four on a Conjunctive True Proposition, also addressed to Gorgippides; one called, the Sect, addressed to Gorgippides ; one on the argument of Consequents; one on questions touched upon in the three preceding treatises, and now re-examined, this also is addressed to Gorgippides; one on what is Possible, addressed to Clitus; one on the treatise of Philo, on Signification; one on what it is that Falsehood consists in.

The third set contains, two treatises on Imperative Propositions; two on Interrogation; four on Examination; an epitome of the subject of Interrogation and Examination; four treatises on Answer; an abridgment on Answer; two essays on Investigation.

The fourth set contains ten books on Categorems, addressed to Metrodorus; one treatise on what is Direct and Indirect, addressed to Philarchus; one on Conjunctions, addressed to Apollonides; four on Categorems, addressed to Pasylus.

The fifth set contains, one treatise on the Five Cases; one on Things defined according to the Subject; two on Enunciation, addressed to Stesagoras; two on Appellative Nouns.

The next class of his writings refers to rules of Logic, with reference to words, and speech which consists of words.

The first set of these contains, six treatises on Singular and Plural Enunciations; five on Words, addressed to Sosigenes and Alexander; four on the Inequality of Words, addressed to Dion; three on the Sorites which refer to Words; one on Solecisms in the Use of Words, addressed to Dionysius; one entitled Discourses, contrary to Customs; one entitled Diction, and addressed to Dionysius.

The second set contains, five treatises on the Elements of Speech and of Phrases; four on the Arrangement of Phrases; three on the Arrangement, and on the Elements of Phrases, addressed to Philip; one on the Elements of Discourse, addressed to Nicias; one on Correlatives.

The third set contains, two treatises against those who do not admit Division; four on Ambiguous Expressions, addressed to Apollos; one, Ambiguity in Modes; two on the Ambiguous Use of Figures, in Conjunctive Propositions; two on the essay on Ambiguous Expressions, by Panthoides; five on the Introduction to the Ambiguous Expressions; one, being an abridgment of the Ambiguous Expressions, addressed to Epicrates; and a collection of instances to serve as an Introduction to the Ambiguous Expressions, in two books.

The next class is on the subject of that part of logic which is conversant about reasonings and modes.

The first set of works in this class, contains, the Art of Reasoning and of Modes, in five books, addressed to Dioscorides; a treatise on Reasoning, in three books; one on the Structure of Modes, addressed to Stesagoras, in five books; a comparison of the Elements of Modes; a treatise on Reciprocal and Conjunctive Reasonings; an essay to Agatha, called also an essay on Problems, which follow one another; a treatise, proving that Syllogistic Propositions suppose one or more other terms; one on Conclusions, addressed to Aristagoras; one essay, proving that the same reasoning can affect several figures; one against those who deny that the same reasoning can be expressed by syllogism, and without syllogism, in two books; three treatises against those who attack the resolution of Syllogisms; one on the treatise on Modes, by Philo, addressed to Timostratus; two treatises on Logic, in one volume, addressed to Timocrates and Philomathes; one volume of questions on Reasonings and Modes.

The second set contains, one book of Conclusive Reasonings, addressed to Zeno; one on Primary Syllogisms, which are not demonstrative; one on the resolution of Syllogisms; one, in two books, on Captious Reasonings, addressed to Pasylus; one book of Considerations on Syllogisms; one book of Introductory Syllogisms, addressed to Zeno; three of Introductory Modes, addressed also to Zeno; five of False Figures of Syllogism; one of a Syllogistic Method, for the resolution of arguments, which are not demonstrative; one of Researches into the Modes, addressed to Zeno and Philomathes (but this appears to be an erroneous title).

The third set contains, one essay on Incidental Reasonings, addressed to Athenades (this again is an incorrect title); three books of Incidental Discourses on the Medium (another incorrect title); one essay on the Disjunctive Reasons of Aminias.

The fourth set contains, a treatise on Hypothesis, in three books, addressed to Meleager; a book of hypothetical reasonings on the Laws, addressed also to Meleager; two books of hypothethical reasoning to serve as an Introduction; two books of hypothetical reasonings on Theorems; a treatise in two books, being a resolution of the Hypothetical Reasonings of Hedylus; an essay, in three books, being a resolution of the Hypothetical Reasonings of Alexander (this is an incorrect title); two books of Expositions, addressed to Leodamas.

The fifth set contains, an introduction to Fallacy, addressed to Aristocreon; an introduction to False Reasonings; a treatise in six books, on Fallacy, addressed to Aristocreon.

The sixth set contains, a treatise against those who believe Truth and Falsehood to be the same thing. One, in two books, against those who have recourse to division to resolve the Fallacy, addressed to Aristocreon a demonstrative essay, to prove that it is not proper to divide indefinite terms; an essay, in three books, in answer to the objections against the non-division of Indefinite Terms, addressed to Pasylus; a solution, according to the principles of the ancients, addressed to Dioscorides; an essay on the Resolution of the Fallacy, addressed to Aristocreon, this is in three books; a resolution of the Hypothetical Arguments of Hedylus, in one book, addressed to Aristocreon and Apollos.

The seventh set contains, a treatise against those who contend that the premisses on the Fallacy are false; a treatise on Negative Reasoning, addressed to Aristocreon in two books; one book of Negative Reasonings, addressed to Gymnasias; two books of a treatise on Reasoning by Progression, addressed to Stesagoras; two books of Reasonings by Interrogation, and on the Arrest,4 addressed to Onetor; an essay, in two books, on the Corrected Argument, addressed to Aristobulus; another on the Non-apparent Argument, addressed to Athenades.

The eighth set contains, an essay on the Argument Outis [Hicks: "the 'Nobody' Argument], in eight books, addressed to Menecrates; a treatise, in two books, on Arguments composed of a finite term, and an indefinite term, addressed to Pasylus; another essay on the Argument Outis, addressed to Epicrates.

The ninth set contains, two volumes of Sophisms, addressed to Heraclides, and Pollis; five volumes of Dialectic Arguments, which admit of no solution, addressed to Dioscorides; an essay, in one book, against the Method of Arcesilaus, addressed to Sphaerus.

The tenth set contains, a treatise in six books, against Custom, addressed to Metrodorus; and another, in seven books, on Custom, addressed to Gorgippides.

There are, therefore, works on Logic, in the four grand classes which we have here enumerated, embracing various questions, without any connection with one another, to the number of thirty nine sets, amounting in the whole to three hundred and eleven treatises on Logic.

The next division comprises those works which have for their object, the explanation of Moral Ideas.

The first class of this division, contains an essay, giving a description of Reason, addressed to Theosphorus; a book of Ethical questions; three books of Principles, to serve as the foundation of Dogmas, addressed to Philomathes; two books of definitions of Good-breeding, addressed to Metrodorus; two books of definitions of the Bad, addressed to Metrodorus; two books of definitions of Neutral Things, addressed also to Metrodorus; seven books of definitions of Things, according to their genera, addressed to Metrodorus; and two books of Definitions, according to other systems, addressed to Metrodorus.

The second set contains, a treatise on Things Similar, in three books, addressed to Aristocles; an essay on Definitions, in seven books, addressed to Metrodorus.

The third set contains, a treatise, in seven books, on the Incorrect Objections made to Definitions, addressed to Laodamas; two books of Probable Arguments bearing on Definitions, addressed to Dioscorides; two books on Species and Genus, addressed to Gorgippides; one book on Divisions; two books on Contraries, addressed to Dionysius; a book of Probable Arguments relating to Divisions, and Genera, and Species; a book on Contraries.

The fourth set contains, a treatise, in seven books, on Etymologies, addressed to Diocles; another, in four books, on the same subject, addressed to the same person.

The fifth set contains, a treatise in two books, on Proverbs, addressed to Zenodotus; an essay on Poems, addressed to Philomathes; an essay, on How one Ought to Listen to Poems, in two books; an essay, in reply to Critics, addressed to Diodorus.

The next division refers to Ethics, looked at in a general point of view, and to the different systems arising out of them, and to the Virtues.

The first set contains, an essay against Pictures, addressed to Timonax; an essay on the Manner in which we express ourselves about, and form our Conceptions of, each separate thing; two books of Thoughts, addressed to Laodamas; an essay, in three books, on Conception, addressed to Pythonax; an essay, that the Wise Man is not Guided by Opinion; an essay, in five books, on Comprehension, and Knowledge, and Ignorance; a treatise on Reason, in two books; a treatise on the Employment of Reason, addressed to Leptines.

The second set contains, a treatise, that the Ancient Philosophers approved of Logic, with Proofs to support the Arguments, in two books, addressed to Zeno; a treatise on Dialectics, in four books, addressed to Aristocreon; an answer to the Objections urged against Dialectics, in three books; an essay on Rhetoric, in four books, addressed to Dioscorides.

The third set contains, a treatise on Habit in three books, addressed to Cleon; a treatise on Art and Want of Art, in four books, addressed to Aristocreon; a treatise, in four books, on the Difference between the Virtues, addressed to Diodorus; a treatise, to show that all the Virtues are Equal; a treatise on the Virtues, in two books, addressed to Pollis.

The next division refers to Ethics, as relating to Good and Evil.

The first set contains, a treatise, in ten books, on the Honourable, and on Pleasure, addressed to Aristocreon; a demonstration, that Pleasure is not the Chief Good of Man in four books; a demonstration that Pleasure is not a Good at all, in four books; a treatise on what is said by . . .* ,

*The remainder of the life of Chrysippus is lost.






1. From kryptô, to hide, and hippos, a horse.

2. These lines are from the Orestes of Euripides, v. 247 [253 at Perseus].

3. This is a quotation from Homer, Od. 10. 495. Pope's Version: 586. The Greek here is, oios pepnutai. The line in Homer stands:

oiô pepnusthai, - sc. pore persephoneia

4. The argument by progression is the sorites. "The arrest" is the method of encountering the sorites, by taking some particular point at which to stop the admissions required by the sorites.










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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