Early Greek Philosophy by John Burnet, with Burnet's notes
119. Theology and Religion 121. Early Life

From Chapter VI., Anaxagoras of Klazomenai

121. Date
ALL that Apollodoros tells us with regard to the date of Anaxagoras seems to rest on the authority of Demetrios Phalereus, who said of him, in his Register of Archons, that he "began to be a philosopher" at Athens at the age of twenty, in the archonship of Kallias or Kalliades (480-79 B.C.).1 This date was probably derived from a calculation based on the philosopher's age at the time of his trial, which Demetrios had every opportunity of learning from sources no longer extant. Apollodoros inferred that Anaxagoras was born in Ol. LXX. (500-496 B.C.), and he adds that he died at the age of seventy-two in Ol. LXXXVIII. x (428-27 B.C.).2 He doubtless thought it natural that he should not survive Perikles, and that he should die the year Plato was born.3 We have a further statement, of doubtful origin, but probably due also to Demetrios, that Anaxagoras lived at Athens for thirty years. If it is correct, we get from about 480 to 450 B.C. as the time he lived there.

There can be no doubt that these dates are very nearly right. Aristotle tells us4 that Anaxagoras was older than Empedokles, who was probably born before 490 B.C. (§ 98); and Theophrastos said5 that Empedokles was born "not long after Anaxagoras." Demokritos, too, said that he himself was a young man in the old age of Anaxagoras, and he must have been born about 460 B.C.6



Burnet's Notes

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2. We must read ὀγδοηκοστῆς with Scaliger to make the figures come right.

3. On the statements of Apollodoros, see Jacoby, pp. 244 sqq.

4. Arist. Met. A, 3. 984 a 11 (R. P. 150 a).

5. Phys. Op. fr. 3 (Dox. p. 477), ap. Simpl. Phys. p. 25, 19 (R. P. 162 e).

6. Diog. ix. 41 (R. P. 187). On the date of Demokritos, see Chap. IX. § 171.




















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