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Chapter XIV.—Succession of Philosophers in Greece.
The Greeks say, that after Orpheus and Linus, and the most ancient of the poets that appeared among them, the seven, called wise, were the first that were admired for their wisdom. Of whom four were of Asia—Thales of Miletus, and Bias of Priene, Pittacus of Mitylene, and Cleobulus of Lindos; and two of Europe, Solon the Athenian, and Chilon the Lacedæmonian; and the seventh, some say, was Periander of Corinth; others, Anacharsis the Scythian; others, Epimenides the Cretan, whom Paul knew as a Greek prophet, whom he mentions in the Epistle to Titus, where he speaks thus: “One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, The Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. And this witness is true.”1952
The expression, “Know thyself,” some supposed to be Chilon’s. But Chamæleon, in his book About the Gods, ascribes it to Thales; Aristotle to the Pythian. It may be an injunction to the pursuit of knowledge. For it is not possible to know the parts without the essence of the whole; and one must study the genesis of the universe, that thereby we may be able to learn the nature of man. Again, to Chilon the Lacedæmonian they attribute, “Let nothing be too much.”1955
The Aristotelians judge it to be Chilon’s; but Didymus says the advice was that of Thales. Then, next in order, the saying, “All men are bad,” or, “The most of men are bad” (for the same apophthegm is expressed in two ways), Sotades the Byzantian says that it was Bias’s. And the aphorism, “Practice conquers everything,”1957
says Timon in his Satirical Poems, on account of his quitting physics for ethics. Antisthenes, after being a pupil of Socrates, introduced the Cynic philosophy; and Plato withdrew to the Academy. Aristotle, after studying philosophy under Plato, withdrew to the Lyceum, and founded the Peripatetic sect. He was succeeded by Theophrastus, who was succeeded by Strato, and he by Lycon, then Critolaus, and then Diodorus. Speusippus was the successor of Plato; his successor was Xenocrates; and the successor of the latter, Polemo. And the disciples of Polemo were Crates and Crantor, in whom the old Academy founded by Plato ceased. Arcesilaus was the associate of Crantor; from whom, down to Hegesilaus, the Middle Academy flourished. Then Carneades succeeded Hegesilaus, and others came in succession. The disciple of Crates was Zeno of Citium, the founder of the Stoic sect. He was succeeded by Cleanthes; and the latter by Chrysippus, and others after him. Xenophanes of Colophon was the founder of the Eleatic school, who, Timæus says, lived in the time of Hiero, lord of Sicily, and Epicharmus the poet; and Apollodorus says that he was born in the fortieth Olympiad, and reached to the times of Darius and Cyrus. Parmenides, accordingly, was the disciple of Xenophanes, and Zeno of him; then came Leucippus, and then Democritus. Disciples of Democritus were Protagoras of Abdera, and Metrodorus of Chios, whose pupil was Diogenes of Smyrna; and his again Anaxarchus, and his Pyrrho, and his Nausiphanes. Some say that Epicurus was a scholar of his.
Such, in an epitome, is the succession of the philosophers among the Greeks. The periods of the originators of their philosophy are now to be specified successively, in order that, by comparison, we may show that the Hebrew philosophy was older by many generations.1959
It has been said of Xenophanes that he was the founder of the Eleatic philosophy. And Eudemus, in the Astrological Histories, says that Thales foretold the eclipse of the sun, which took place at the time that the Medians and the Lydians fought, in the reign of Cyaxares the father of Astyages over the Medes, and of Alyattus the son of Crœsus over the Lydians. Herodotus in his first book agrees with him. The date is about the fiftieth Olympiad. Pythagoras is ascertained to have lived in the days of Polycrates the tyrant, about the sixty-second Olympiad. Mnesiphilus is described as a follower of Solon, and was a contemporary of Themistocles. Solon therefore flourished about the forty-sixth Olympiad. For Heraclitus, the son of Bauso, persuaded Melancomas the tyrant to abdicate his sovereignty. He despised the invitation of king Darius to visit the Persians.