Early Greek Philosophy by John Burnet, with Burnet's notes
124. The Trial 126. The Fragments

From Chapter VI., Anaxagoras of Klazomenai

125. Writings
Diogenes includes Anaxagoras in his list of philosophers who left only a single book, and he has also preserved the accepted criticism of it, namely, that it was written "in a lofty and agreeable style."29 There is no evidence of any weight to set against this testimony, which comes ultimately from the librarians of Alexandria.30 The story that Anaxagoras wrote a treatise on perspective as applied to scene-painting is most improbable;31 and the statement that he composed a work dealing with the quadrature of the circle is a misunderstanding of an expression in Plutarch.32 We learn from the passage in the Apology, referred to above, that the works of Anaxagoras could be bought at Athens for a drachma; and that the book was of some length may be gathered from the way in which Plato makes Sokrates go on to speak of it.33 In the sixth century A.D. Simplicius had access to a copy, doubtless in the library of the Academy; and it.is to him we owe the preservation of all our fragments, with one or two very doubtful exceptions. Unfortunately his quotations seem to be confined to the First Book, that dealing with general principles, so that we are left somewhat in the dark as to the treatment of details.

Burnet's Notes


29. Diog. i. 16; ii. 6 (R. P. 5; 153).

30. Schaubach (An. Claz. Fragm. p. 57) fabricated a work entitled τὸ πρὸς Λεχίνεον out of the pseudo-Aristotelian De plantis, 817 a 27. But the Latin version of Alfred, which is the original of the Greek, has simply et ideo dicit lechineon; and this seems to be due to failure to make out the Arabic text from which the Latin was derived. Cf. Meyer, Gesch. d. Bot. i. 6o.

31. Vitruvius, vii. pr. ii. A forger, seeking to decorate his production with a great name, would think at once of the philosopher who was said to have taught Euripides.

32. Plut. De exilio, 607 f. The words merely mean that he used to draw figures relating to the quadrature of the circle on the prison floor.

33. Apol. 26 d-e. The expression βιβλία perhaps implies that it filled more than one roll.

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