Early Greek Philosophy by John Burnet, with Burnet's notes
20. "Diogenes Laertios" 1. Miletus and Lydia

From Burnet's Note on the Sources


21. Eratosthenes and Apollodorus
The founder of ancient chronology was Eratosthenes of Kyrene (275-194 B.C.) ; but his work was soon supplanted by the metrical version of Apollodoros (c. 140 B.C.), from which most of our information as to the dates of early philosophers is derived. See Diels' paper on the Χρονικά of Apollodoros in Rhein. Mus. xxxi.; and Jacoby, Apollodors Chronik (1902).

The method adopted is as follows:—If the date of some striking event in a philosopher's life is known, that is taken as his floruit (ἀκμή), and he is assumed to have been forty years old at that date. In default of this, some historical era is taken as the floruit. Of these the chief are the eclipse of Thales 586/5 B.C., the taking of Sardeis in 546/5 B.C., the accession of Polykrates in 532/1 B.C., and the foundation of Thourioi in 444/3 B.C. It is usual to attach far too much weight to these combinations, and we can often show that Apollodoros is wrong from our other evidence. His dates can only be accepted as a makeshift, when nothing better is available.

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