Early Greek Philosophy by John Burnet, with Burnet's notes
154. Relation to Predecessors 156. Writings

From Chapter VIII., The Younger Eleatics


155. Life of Zeno
According to Apollodoros,1 Zeno flourished in Ol. LXXIX. (464-460 B.C.). This date is arrived at by making him forty years younger than Parmenides, which is in direct conflict with the testimony of Plato. We have seen already (ยง 84) that the meeting of Parmenides and Zeno with the young Sokrates cannot well have occurred before 449 B.C., and Plato tells us that Zeno was at that time "nearly forty years old."2 He must, then, have been born about 489 B.C., some twenty-five years after Parmenides. He was the son of Teleutagoras, and the statement of Apollodoros that he had been adopted by Parmenides is only a misunderstanding of an expression of Plato's Sophist.3 He was, Plato further tells us,4 tall and of a graceful appearance.

Like Parmenides, Zeno played a part in the politics of his native city. Strabo, no doubt on the authority of Timaios, ascribes to him some share of the credit for the good government of Elea, and says that he was a Pythagorean.5 This statement can easily be explained. Parmenides, we have seen, was originally a Pythagorean, and the school of Elea was naturally regarded as a mere branch of the larger society. We hear also that Zeno conspired against a tyrant, whose name is differently given, and the story of his courage under torture is often repeated, though with varying details.6

Burnet's Notes


1. Diog. ix. 29 (R. P. 13o a). Apollodoros is not expressly referred to for Zeno's date; but, as he is quoted for his father's name (ix. 25; R. P. 130), there can be no doubt that he is also the source of the floruit.

2. Plato, Parm. 127 b (R. P. iii d). The visit of Zeno to Athens is confirmed by Plut. Per. 4. (R. P. 130 e), where we are told that Perikles "heard" him as well as Anaxagoras. It is also alluded to in Alc. 1. 119 a, where we are told that Pythodoros, son of Isolochos, and Kallias, son of Kalliades, each paid him 100 minae for instruction.

3. Plato, Soph. 241 d (R. P. 130 a).

4. Plato, Parm., loc. cit.

5. Strabo, vi. p. 252 (R. P. 111 c).

6. Diog. ix. 26, 27, and the other passages referred to in R. P. 130 c. The original of the account given in the tenth book of Diodoros is doubtless Timaios.

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