Peithô's Web   Lives index  
THE LIVES AND OPINIONS OF EMINENT PHILOSOPHERS

BY DIOGENES LAERTIUS, TRANSLATED BY C.D. YONGE

LIFE OF CRANTOR



I. CRANTOR, a native of Soli, being admired very greatly in his own country, came to Athens and became a pupil of Xenocrates at the same time with Polemo.

II. And he left behind him memorials, in the shape of writings, to the number of 30,000 lines, some of which, however, are by some writers attributed to Arcesilaus.

III. They say of him that when he was asked what it was that he was so charmed with in Polemo, he replied, "That he had never heard him speak in too high or too low a key."

IV. When he was ill he retired to the temple of Aesculapius, and there walked about, and people came to him from all quarters, thinkng that he had gone thither, not on account of any disease, but because he wished to establish a school there.

V. And among those who came to him was Arcesilaus, wishing to be recommended by him to Polemo, although he was much attached to him, as we shall mention in the life of Arcesilaus. But when he got well he became a pupil of Polemo, and was excessively admired on that account. It is said, also, that he left his property to Arcesilaus, to the amount of twelve talents; and that, being asked by him where he would like to be buried, he said :

It is a happy fate to lie entombed
In the recesses of a well-lov'd land.

VI. It is said also that he wrote poems, and that he sealed them up in the temple of Minerva, in his own country; and Meaetetus the poet wrote thus about him:

Crantor pleased men; but greater pleasure still
        He to the Muses gave, ere he aged grew.
Earth, tenderly embrace the holy man,
        And let him lie in quiet undisturb'd.

And of all writers, Crantor admired Homer and Euripides most; saying that the hardest thing possible was to write tragically and in a manner to excite sympathy, without departing from nature; and he used to quote this line out of the Bellerophon :

Alas! why should I say alas! for we
Have only borne the usual fate of man.

The following verses of Antagoras the poet are also attributed to Crantor; the subject is love, and they run thus :

My mind is much perplexed; for what, O Love,
Dare I pronounce your origin? May I
Call you chiefest of the immortal Gods,
Of all the children whom dark Erebus
And Royal Night bore on the billowy waves
Of widest Ocean? Or shall I bid you hail,
As son of proudest Venus? or of Earth?
Or of the untamed winds? so fierce you rove,
Bringing mankind sad cares, yet not unmixed
With happy good, so two-fold is your nature.

And he was very ingenious at devising new words and expressions; accordingly, he said that one tragedian had an unhewn (apelekêtos) voice, all over bark; and he said that the verses of a certain poet were full of moths; and that the propositions of Theophrastus had been written on an oyster shell. But the work of his which is most admired is his book on Mourning.

VII. And he died before Polemo and Crates, having been attacked by the dropsy; and we have written this epigram on him:--

The worst of sicknesses has overwhelmed you,
O Crantor, and you thus did quit the earth,
Descending to the dark abyss of Hell.
Now you are happy there; but all the while
The sad Academy, and your native land
Of Soli mourn, bereaved of your eloquence.









Scanned and edited for Peithô's Web from The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, by Diogenes Laertius, Literally translated by C.D. Yonge. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853. Footnotes have been converted to endnotes. Some, but not all, of Yonge's spellings of ancient names have been updated.

All of the materials at Peithô's Web are provided for your enjoyment, as is, without any warranty of any kind or for any purpose.










 Peithô's Web   Top Lives index