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

BY DIOGENES LAERTIUS, TRANSLATED BY C.D. YONGE

LIFE OF PHILOLAUS



I. PHILOLAUS was a native of Crotona, and a pupil of Pythagoras, it was from him that Plato wrote to Dion to take care and purchase the books of Pythagoras.

II. And he died under suspicion of having designed to seize on the tyranny; and we have written an epigram on him:

I say that all men ought above all things
To guard against suspicion. For, though innocent,
Still if you are suspected, you're unfortunate.
And thus his native city of Crotona
Slew Philolaus; for the jealous citizens
Thought that his house betrayed a tyrant's purpose.

III. His theory was, that everything was produced by harmony and necessity. And he was the first person who affirmed that the earth moved in a circle; though some attribute the assertion of this principle to Icetas of Syracuse.

IV. He wrote one book, which Hermippus reports, on the authority of some unknown writer, that Plato the philosopher purchased when he was in Sicily (having come thither to the court of Dionysius), of the relations of Philolaus, for forty Alexandrian minae of silver; and that from this book he copied his Timaeus. But others say that Plato received it as a present, after having obtained his liberty for a young man, one of the disciples of Philolaus, who had been arrested by Dionysius. Demetrius, in his treatise on people of the same name, says that he was the first of the Pythagoreans who wrote a treatise on Natural Philosophy; and it begins thus:

"But nature in the world has been composed of bodies infinite and finite, and so is the whole world and all that is in it."









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