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THE LIVES AND OPINIONS OF EMINENT PHILOSOPHERS

BY DIOGENES LAERTIUS, TRANSLATED BY C.D. YONGE

LIFE OF SPHAERUS



I. SPHAERUS, a native of the Bosphorus, was, as we have said before, a pupil of Cleanthes after the death of Zeno.

II. And when he made a considerable advance in philosophy he went to Alexandria, to the court of Ptolemy Philopater. And once, when there was a discussion concerning the question whether a wise man would allow himself to be guided by opinion, and when Sphaerus affirmed that he would not, the king, wishing to refute him, ordered some pomegranates of wax to be set before him; and when Sphaerus was deceived by them, the king shouted that he had given his assent to a false perception. But Sphaerus answered very neatly, that he had not given his assent to the fact that they were pomegranates, but to the fact that it was probable that they might be pomegranates. And that a perception which could be comprehended differed from one that was only probable.

Once, when Innesistratus accused him of denying that Ptolemy was a king, he said to him, "That Ptolemy was a man with such and such qualities, and a king."1

III. He wrote the following books. Two on the World; one on the Elements of Seed; one on Fortune; one on the Smallest Things; one on Atoms and Phantoms; one on the Senses; five Conversations about Heraclitus; one on Ethical Arrangement; one on Duty; one on Appetite; two on the Passions; one on Kingly Power; on the Lacedaemonian Constitution; three on Lycurgus and Socrates; one on Law; one on Divination; one volume of Dialogues on Love; one on the Eretrian Philosophers; one on Things Similar; one on Terms; one on Habits; three on Contradictions; one on Reason; one on Riches; one on Glory; one on Death; two on the Art of Dialectics; one on Categorems; one on Ambiguity; and a volume of Letters.






1. This is referring to the Stoic doctrine ridiculed by Horace:

              Si dives qui sapiens est,
Et sutor bonus, et solus formosus, et est Rex
Cur optas quod habes?
- Hor. Sat. i. 130.

Which may be translated:

If every man is rich who's wise,
A cobbler too beyond all price;
A handsome man, and eke a king;
Why thus your vows at random fling?











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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