User Tools

Site Tools


cynics:zeno_of_citium

Zeno of Citium

Diogenes Laertius, Book 7 §2-4

[Zeno] was a pupil of Crates, as stated above. Next they say he attended the lectures of Stilpo and Xenocrates for ten years – so Timocrates says in his Dion – and Polemo as well. It is stated by Hecato and by Apollonius of Tyre in his first book on Zeno that he consulted the oracle to know what he should do to attain the best life, and that the god's response was that he should take on the complexion of the dead. Whereupon, perceiving what this meant, he studied ancient authors. Now the way he came across Crates was this. He was shipwrecked on a voyage from Phoenicia to Peiraeus with a cargo of purple. He went up into Athens and sat down in a bookseller's shop, being then a man of thirty.

3. As he went on reading the second book of Xenophon's Memorabilia, he was so pleased that he inquired where men like Socrates were to be found. Crates passed by in the nick of time, so the bookseller pointed to him and said, “Follow yonder man.” From that day he became Crates's pupil, showing in other respects a strong bent for philosophy, though with too much native modesty to assimilate Cynic shamelessness. Hence Crates, desirous of curing this defect in him, gave him a potful of lentil-soup to carry through the Ceramicus; and when he saw that he was ashamed and tried to keep it out of sight, with a blow of his staff he broke the pot. As Zeno took to flight with the lentil-soup flowing down his legs, “Why run away, my little Phoenician?” quoth Crates, “nothing terrible has befallen you.”

4. For a certain space, then, he was instructed by Crates, and when at this time he had written his Republic, some said in jest that he had written it on Cynosura, i.e. on the dog's tail. Besides the Republic he wrote the following works:

  • Of Life according to Nature.
  • Of Impulse, or Human Nature.
  • Of Emotions.
  • Of Duty.
  • Of Law.
  • Of Greek Education.
  • Of Vision.
  • Of the Whole World.
  • Of Signs.
  • Pythagorean Questions.
  • Universals.
  • Of Varieties of Style.
  • Homeric Problems, in five books.
  • Of the Reading of Poetry.

There are also by him:

  • A Handbook of Rhetoric.
  • Solutions.
  • Two books of Refutations.
  • Recollections of Crates.
  • Ethics.

This is a list of his writings. But at last he left Crates, and the men above mentioned were his masters for twenty years. Hence he is reported to have said, “I made a prosperous voyage when I suffered shipwreck.” But others attribute this saying of his to the time when he was under Crates.

Diogenes Laertius, Book 7 §25

25. According to Hippobotus he forgathered with Diodorus, with whom [Zeno] worked hard at dialectic. And when he was already making progress, he would enter Polemo's school: so far from all self-conceit was he. In consequence Polemo is said to have addressed him thus: “You slip in, Zeno, by the garden door – I'm quite aware of it – you filch my doctrines and give them a Phoenician make-up.” A dialectician once showed him seven logical forms concerned with the sophism known as “The Reaper,” and Zeno asked him how much he wanted for them. Being told a hundred drachmas, he promptly paid two hundred: to such lengths would he go in his love of learning. They say too that he first introduced the word Duty and wrote a treatise on the subject. It is said, moreover, that he corrected Hesiod's lines thus:

He is best of all men who follows good advice: good too is he who finds out all things for himself.

cynics/zeno_of_citium.txt · Last modified: 2014/01/14 23:20 (external edit)