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THE LIVES AND OPINIONS OF EMINENT PHILOSOPHERS

BY DIOGENES LAERTIUS, TRANSLATED BY C.D. YONGE

LIFE OF LYCON



I. HE (Strato) was succeeded by Lycon, a native of the Troas, the son of Astyanax, a man of great eloquence, and of especial ability in the education of youth. For he used to say that it was fit for boys to be harnessed with modesty and rivalry, as much as for horses to be equipped with a spur and a bridle. And his eloquence and energy in speaking is apparent, from this instance. For he speaks of a virgin who was poor in the following manner: "A damsel, who, for want of a dowry, goes beyond the seasonable age, is a heavy burden to her father;" on which acccount they say that Antigonus said with reference to him, that the sweetness and beauty of an apple could not be transferred to anything else, but that one might see, in the case of this man, all these excellencies, in as great perfection as on a tree; and he said this, because he was a surpassingly sweet speaker. On which account, some people prefixed a gamma to his name.1 But as a writer, he was very unequal to his reputation. And he used to jest in a careless way, upon those who repented that they had not learnt when they had the opportunity, and who now wished that they had done so, saying that they were accusing themselves, showing by a prayer which could not possibly be accomplished, their misplaced repentance for their idleness. He used also to say, that those who deliberated without coming to a right conclusion, erred in their calculations, like men who investigate a correct nature by an incorrect standard, or who look at a face in disturbed water, or a distorted mirror. Another of his sayings was, that many men go in pursuit of the crown to be won in the forum, but few or none seek to attain the one to be gained at the Olympic games.

II. And as he in many instances gave much advice to the Athenians, he was of exceedingly great service to them.

III. He was also a person of great neatness in his dress, wearing garments of an unsurpassable delicacy, as we are told by Hermippus. He was at the same time exceedingly devoted to the exercises of the Gymnasium, and a man who was always in excellent condition as to his body, displaying every quality of an athlete (though Antigonus of Carystus, pretends that he was bruised about the ears and dirty); and in his own country he is said to have wrestled and played at ball at the Iliaean games.

IV. And he was exceedingly beloved by Eumenes and Attalus, who made him great presents; and Antigonus also tried to seduce him to his court, but was disappointed. And he was so great an enemy to Hieronymus the Peripatetic, that he was the only person who would not go to see him on the anniversary festival which he used to celebrate, and which we have mentioned in our life of Arcesilaus.

V. And he presided over his school forty-four years, as Strato had left it to him in his will, in the hundred and twenty-seventh Olympiad.

VI. He was also a pupil of Panthoides, the dialectician.

VII. He died when he was seventy-four years of age, having been a great sufferer with the gout, and there is an epigram of ours upon him:

Nor shall wise Lycon be forgotten, who
Died of the gout, and much I wonder at it.
For he who ne'er before could walk alone,
Went the long road to hell in a single night.

VIII. There were several people of the name of Lycon. The first was a Pythagorean; the second was this man of whom we are speaking; the third was an epic poet; the fourth was an epigrammatic poet.

IX. I have fallen in with the following will of this philosopher. "I make the following disposition of my property; if I am unable to withstand this disease: All the property in my house I leave to my brothers Astyanax and Lycon; and I think that they ought to pay all that I owe at Athens, and that I may have borrowed from any one, and also all the expenses that may be incurred for my funeral, and for other customary solemnities. And all that I have in the city, or in Aegina, I give to Lycon because he bears the same name that I do, and because he has spent the greater part of his life with me, showing me the greatest affection, as it was fitting that he should do, since he was in the place of a son to me. And I leave my garden walk to those of my friends who like to use it; to Bulon, and Callinus, and Ariston, and Amplicon, and Lycon, and Python, and Aristomachus, and Heracleus, and Lycomedes, and Lycon my nephew. And I desire that they will elect as president him whom they think most likely to remain attached to the pursuit of philosophy, and most capable of holding the school together. And I entreat the rest of my friends to acquiesce in their election, for my sake and that of the place. And I desire that Bulon, and Callinus, and the rest of my friends will manage my funeral and the burning of my body, so that my obsequies may not be either mean or extravagant. And the property which I have in Aegina shall be divided by Lycon after my decease among the young men there, for the purpose of anointing themselves, in order that the memory of me and of him who honoured me, and who showed his affection by useful presents, may be long preserved. And let him erect a statue of me; and as for the place for it, I desire that Diophantus and Heraclides the son of Demetrius, shall select that, and take care that it be suitable for the proposed erection. With the property that I have in the city let Lycon pay all the people of whom I have borrowed anything since his departure; and let Bulon and Callinus join him in this, and also in discharging all the expenses incurred for my funeral, and for all other customary solemnities, and let him deduct the amount from the funds which I have left in my house, and bequeathed to them both in common. Let him also pay the physicians, Pasithemis and Medias, men who, for their attention to me and for their skill, are very deserving of still greater honour. And I give to the son of Callinus my pair of Thericlean cups; and to his wife I give my pair of Rhodian cups, and my smooth carpet, and my double carpet, and my curtains, and the two best pillows of all that I leave behind me; so that as far as the compliment goes, I may be seen not to have forgotten them. And with respect to those who have been my servants, I make the following disposition - To Demetrius who has long been freed, I remit the price of his freedom, and I further give five minae, and a cloak, and a tunic, that as he has a great deal of trouble about me, he may pass the rest of his life comfortably. To Criton, the Chalcedonian, I also remit the price of his freedom, and I further give him four minae. Micras I hereby present with his freedom; and I desire Lycon to maintain him, and instruct him for six years from the present time. I also give his freedom to Chares, and desire Lycon to maintain him. And I further give him two minae, and all my books that are published; but those which are not published, I give to Callinus, that he may publish them with due care. I also give to Syrus, whom I have already emancipated, four minae, and Menedora; and if he owes me anything I acquit him of the debt. And I give to Hilaras four minae, and a double carpet, and two pillows, and a curtain, and any couch which he chooses to select. I also hereby emancipate the mother of Micras, and Noemon, and Dion, and Theon, and Euphranor, and Hermeas; and I desire that Agathon shall have his freedom when he has served two years longer; and that Ophelion, and Poseideon, my litter-bearers, shall have theirs when they have waited four years more. I also give to Demetrius, and Criton, and Syrus, a couch a piece, and coverlets from those which I leave behind me, according to the selection which Lycon is hereby authorised to make. And these are to be their rewards for having performed the duties to which they were appointed well. Concerning my burial, let Lycon do as he pleases, and bury me here or at home, just as he likes; for I am sure that he has the same regard for propriety that I myself have. And I give all the things herein mentioned, in the confidence that he will arrange everything properly. The witnesses to this my will are Callinus of Hermione, Ariston of Ceos, and Euphronius of Paeania."

As he then was thoroughly wise in everything relating to education, and every branch of philosophy, he was no less prudent and careful in the framing of his will. So that in this respect too he deserves to be admired and imitated.





1. So as to make it appear connected with glykus sweet.










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.

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