Peithô's Web   Lives index  
THE LIVES AND OPINIONS OF EMINENT PHILOSOPHERS

BY DIOGENES LAERTIUS, TRANSLATED BY C.D. YONGE

LIFE OF MENIPPUS



I. MENIPPUS was also a Cynic, and a Phoenician by descent, a slave by birth, as Achaicus tells us in his Ethics; and Diocles informs us that his master was a native of Pontus, of the name of Baton; but that subsequently, in consequence of his importunities and miserly habits, he became rich, and obtained the rights of citizenship at Corinth.

II. He never wrote anything serious; but his writings are full of ridiculous matter; and in some respects similar to those of Meleager, who was his contemporary. And Hermippus tells us that he was a man who lent money at daily interest, and that he was called a usurer; for he used to lend on nautical usury, and take security, so that he amassed a very great amount of riches.

III. But at last he fell into a snare, and lost all his money, and in a fit of despair he hung himself, and so he died. And we have written a playful epigram on him:

This man was a Syrian by birth,
        And a Cretan usurious hound,
As the name he was known by sets forth;
        You've heard of him oft I'll be bound;
His name was Menippus-men entered his house,
And stole all his goods without leaving a louse,
When (from this the dog's nature you plainly may tell)
He hung himself up, and so went off to hell.

IV. But some say that the books attributed to him are not really his work, but are the composition of Dionysius and Zopyrus the Colophonians, who wrote them out of joke, and then gave them to him as a man well able to dispose of them.

V. There were six persons of the name of Menippus; the first was the man who wrote a history of the Lydians, and made an abridgment of Xanthus; the second was this man of whom we have been speaking; the third was a sophist of Stratonice, a Carian by descent; the fourth was a statuary; the fifth and the sixth were painters, and they are both mentioned by Apollodorus.

VI. The writings left by the Cynic amount to thirteen volumes; a Description of the Dead; a volume called Wills; a volume of Letters in which the Gods are introduced; treatises addressed to the Natural Philosophers, and Mathematicians, and Grammarians; one on the Generations of Epicurus, and on the Observance of the Twentieth Day by the philosophers of his school; and one or two other essays.










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.

All of the materials at Peithô's Web are provided for your enjoyment, as is, without any warranty of any kind or for any purpose.










 Peithô's Web   Top Lives index