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The Cyrenaics Resource

The Cyrenaic school of philosophy, named from the city of Cyrene where the movement was founded, expanded in influence from about 400 BC to 300 BC and thereafter quickly dissipated. The Cyrenaics believe that Hedonism is the source of happiness and that pleasure is the chief good at which all things are intended. It is common wisdom that there are two main sources for Cyrenaism, namely Socrates and the sophists, in particular Protagoras. The ethical doctrines of the school are derived from Socrates' doctrine of the Chief Good. The Cyrenaics accepted this imperative but instead of fulfilling it through Virtue they choose to fulfill the Chief Good through a doctrine of pleasure. The supremacy of pleasure is to what all things aim. The epistemological foundations of Cyrenaism are derived from the skeptical views of Protagoras. The idea that knowledge is relative is prominent in Cyrenaic thought and is used to justify their hedonistic ethical doctrines.

Aristippus of Cyrene, ca. 400 BC, is considered to be the founder of the school. While it is unclear how much of later Cyrenaic doctrine is derived from his life and writings, he does provide a crucial link to Socrates who is considered the founder of many other schools of thought in Ancient Greece and it lends credibility and authority to the Cyrenaic endeavor. Through Aristippus, the school spread, on one hand through his daughter Arete - Aristippus the Younger - Theodorus the Atheist, and on the other, from Antipatros – Epitimides – Parabates – Hegesias & Anniceris. The exact details of each individual's significance and position are outlined throughout this compilation.

The Cyrenaics began their philosophical inquiry by agreeing with Protagoras that all knowledge is relative. On a very basic level, the elemental senses can determine what is true but things do not have meaning or significance in-and-of-themselves. From this premise, the Cyrenaics concluded that we can only understand our feelings or the impressions of what things produce upon us. When this insight is put to practical use, it is determined that happiness can only be obtained through pleasurable sensations (since they are real) and the avoidance of painful situations. Bodily pleasures are more intense than mental image-based pleasures. Likewise, physical pain is more intense than mental anguish. Pleasure, therefore, is the path to happiness. The measure of a good individual is if he or she can maximize their pleasure and minimize their pain. Unlike the doctrine of the Cynics, Virtue is a not a shortcut to happiness; Virtue is a means to obtain more pleasure. It is not the end.

Many of the figures of the Cyrenaics subscribed to the ideas originally laid out by Aristippus and his immediate followers but also had other interests in using Cyrenaic doctrine. Theodorus took the doctrine to the extreme and was known as the atheist for his heterodox views on the divine. Euhemerus, although not normally grouped with the Cyrenaics, used their doctrine to develop a unique idea on how the divine mythology was formed from human, historical characters. Hegesias determined that life may not be worth living and became so influential being a “Death Persuader” he had to be silenced for the public good.

Over time, however, the Cyrenaic doctrine dissolved. The base sensist approach to happiness eroded over time. The pleasure doctrine shifted to reduce pleasure to a mere negative state where painlessness is considered to be the route to happiness. Others considered pleasure to be mere “cheerfulness and indifference”. The parallels to the Epicurean ideal position of emotional calm (sagicity) are manifest. Cyrenaism was loosely governed and a spectrum of what constitutes pleasure existed. As expectations of doctrine building took the place of Socratic questioning in philosophy, Cyreniacs failed to live up to the common expectations; their doctrines became a set of maxims for living rather than a solid philosophical school with systematic ideas. Because of the unraveling of Cyrenaic principles, it is assumed that the school eventually merged into Epicureanism which housed a more robust and systematic form of hedonism.

Modeled from this source: Turner, William. “Cyrenaic School of Philosophy.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 15 Nov. 2015 <>.

Editor Notes

This handbook contains the lives, writings, and doctrines of the Cyrenaic school by compiling the primary sources of the material. This handbook is not a summary or analysis of the Cyrenaic school. This handbook provides all of the (open and available) references to the Cyrenaic school within the ancient texts. Its main function is to put together in one place all of the references into one book. It is designed for the scholar and for the student. The scholar can use this resource to save time by having everything ready in one place. All references are taken from copyright-expired texts or open source (free) texts from places like Gutenberg and No copyrighted material is used in this book. All endnotes point to the source of each reference. The student of ancient philosophy will find this to be an aid to your understanding of the Cyrenaic school and may even influence your thinking. Many will undoubtedly use this book to aide their understanding of Hellenic Philosophy and Epicureanism.

Compiled, annotated, and edited by Frank Redmond.

  • Frank Redmond – 2012 (1st Edition; 1.0)
  • Frank Redmond – 2015 (2nd Edition; 2.0)
  • Frank Redmond – 2016 (2nd Edition; 2.2)
  • 2nd Edition (2015) modifications – Fixed minor content bugs; corrected citations; added and replaced textual content.
  • 2nd Edition (2016) modifications – Changed style; standardized citations.

Cyrenaic Resources (Primary)

Inspired by Diogenes the Cynic: Sayings and Anecdotes with Other Popular Moralists, Oxford World Classics, 2012

Aristippus: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology

Aristippus, son of Aritades, born at Cyrene, and founder of the Cyrenaic School of Philosophy, came over to Greece to be present at the Olympic games, where he fell in with Ischomachus the agriculturist (whose praises are the subject of Xenophon's Oeconomicus), and by his description was filled with so ardent a desire to see Socrates, that he went to Athens for the purpose (Plut. de Curios. 2), and remained with him almost up to the time of his execution, 399 BC. Diodorus (xv. 76) gives 366 BC as the date of Aristippus, which agrees very well with the facts which we know about him, and with the statement (Schol. ad Aristopli. Plut. 179), that Lais, the courtesan with whom he was intimate, was born 421 BC.

Though a disciple of Socrates, he wandered both in principle and practice very far from the teaching and example of his great master. He was luxurious in his mode of living; he indulged in sensual gratifications, and the society of the notorious Lais; he took money for his teaching being the first of the disciples of Socrates who did so (Diog. Laert. ii. 65), and avowed to his instructor that he resided in a foreign land in order to escape the trouble of mixing in the politics of his native city. (Xen. Mem. ii. 1.) He passed part of his life at the court of Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, and is also said to have been taken prisoner by Artaphernes, the satrap who drove the Spartans from Rhodes 396 BC. (Diod. Sic. xiv. 79) He appears, however, at last to have returned to Cyrene, and there he spent his old age. The anecdotes which are told of him, and of which we find a most tedious number in Diogenes Laertius (ii. 65, &c.), by no means give us the notion of a person who was the mere slave of his passions, but rather of one who took a pride in extracting enjoyment from all circumstances of every kind, and in controlling adversity and prosperity alike. They illustrate and confirm the two statements of Horace (Ep. i. 1. 18), that to observe the precepts of Aristippus is “milii res, non me rebus subjungere” and (i. 17. 23) that, “omnis Aristippum decuit color et status et res.” Thus when reproached for his love of bodily indulgences, he answered, that there was no shame in enjoying them, but that it would be disgraceful if he could not at any time give them up. When Dionysius, provoked at some of his remarks, ordered him to take the lowest place at table, he said, ”You wish to dignify the seat.” Whether he was prisoner to a satrap, or grossly insulted and even spit upon by a tyrant, or enjoying the pleasures of a banquet, or reviled for faithlessness to Socrates by his fellow-pupils, he maintained the same calm temper. To Xenophon and Plato he was very obnoxious, as we see from the Memorabilia (I. c.), where he maintains an odious discussion against Socrates in defence of voluptuous enjoyment, and from the Phaedo (p. 59, c), where his absence at the death of Socrates, though he was only at Aegina, 200 stadia from Athens, is doubtless mentioned as a reproach. Aristotle, too, calls him a sophist (Metaphys. ii. 2), and notices a story of Plato speaking to him. With rather undue vehemence, and of his replying with calmness (Rhet. ii. 23.) He imparted his doctrine to his daughter Arete, by whom it was communicated to her son, the younger Aristippus (hence called Mother-Taught), and by him it is said to have been reduced to a system. Laertius, on the authority of Sotion (205 BC) and Panaetius (143 BC), gives a long list of books whose authorship is ascribed to Aristippus, though he also says that Sosicrates of Rhodes (255 BC) states, that he wrote nothing. Among these are treatises “Concerning Education”, “Concerning Virtue”, “Concerning Fortune”, and many others. Some epistles attributed to him are deservedly rejected as forgeries. One of these is to Arete, and its spuriousness is proved, among other arguments, by the occurrence in it of the name of a city near Cyrene, Berenike, which must have been given by the Macedonians, in whose dialect Beta stands for Phi, so that the name is equivalent to Pherenike, the victorious.

Source: Smith, William. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. Boston: Little, Brown, 1867. Internet resource.

Satirical and Poetical Interpretation of Aristippus

Lucian, Sale of Creeds 12

Zeus. Now for the Cyrenaic, the crowned and purple-robed.

Her. Attend please, gentlemen all. A most valuable article, this, and calls for a long purse. Look at him. A sweet thing in creeds. A creed for a king. Has any gentleman a use for the Lap of Luxury? Who bids?

Third D. Come and tell me what you know. If you are a practical creed, I will have you.

Her. Please not to worry him with questions, sir. He is drunk, and cannot answer; his tongue plays him tricks, as you see.

Third D. And who in his senses would buy such an abandoned reprobate? How he smells of scent! And how he slips and staggers about! Well, you must speak for him, Hermes. What can he do? What is his line?

Her. Well, for any gentleman who is not strait-laced, who loves a pretty girl, a bottle, and a jolly companion, he is the very thing. He is also a past master in gastronomy, and a connoisseur in voluptuousness generally. He was educated at Athens, and has served royalty in Sicily, where he had a very good character. Here are his principles in a nutshell: Think the worst of things: make the most of things: get all possible pleasure out of things.

Third D. You must look for wealthier purchasers. My purse is not equal to such a festive creed.

Her. Zeus, this lot seems likely to remain on our hands.

Source: Lucian of Samosata Project

Horace, Satire 2.3.82-110

The Madness of Avarice

“Avarice should get the largest dose of medicine,
I’d say: all of Anticyra’s hellebore for the mad.
Staberius’ heirs had to carve his wealth on his tomb,
If not they’d to entertain the masses with a hundred
Paired gladiators, at a funeral feast, to be planned
By Arrius, plus all of Africa’s corn. His will said:
‘Whether I’m right or wrong in this, don’t criticise me.’
That’s what Staberius’ proud mind foresaw, I think.
‘So what did he mean when he willed that his heirs
Should carve his wealth in stone?’ Well, he thought poverty
Was a mighty evil, all his life, and guarded against it
Strongly, so if he’d chanced to die a penny poorer,
He’d have thought that much less of himself: he thought all things,
Virtue, reputation, honour, things human or divine
Bowed to the glory of riches: that he who’s garnered them
Is famous, just and brave. ‘And wise?’ Of course, a king,
Whatever he wishes. He hoped that wealth, won as if by
Virtue, would bring him great fame. Where’s the difference
Between him and Aristippus the Greek, who in deepest
Libya, ordered his slaves who travelled more slowly
Under its weight, to unload his gold? Which was crazier?
Useless examples explain one mystery by another.
If a man bought lutes, and piled them up together,
While caring not a fig for the lute or any art:
Or, though no cobbler, bought lasts and awls: or hating trade
Ships’ sails, all would think him insane and obsessed
And they’d be right. Why is the man who hoards gold
And silver any different from them? He’s no idea
How to use his pile, fearing to touch it as sacred.”

Source: Horace, Satires.
Translated by A. S. Kline © 2005 All Rights Reserved

Horace, Epistles 1.1.1-19

An end to verse

You, Maecenas, of whom my first Muse told, of whom my
Last shall tell, seek to trap me in the old game again,
Though I’m proven enough, and I’ve won my discharge.
My age, spirit are not what they were. Veianius
Hangs his weapons on Hercules’ door, stops pleading to
The crowd for his life, from the sand, by hiding himself
In the country. A voice always rings clear in my ear:
‘While you’ve time, be wise, turn loose the ageing horse,
Lest he stumbles, broken winded, jeered, at the end.’
So now I’m setting aside my verse, and other tricks:
My quest and care is what’s right and true, I’m absorbed
In it wholly: I gather, then store for later use.
In case you ask who’s my master, what roof protects me,
I’m not bound to swear by anyone’s precepts,
I’m carried, a guest, wherever the storm-wind blows me.
Now I seek action, and plunge in the civic tide,
The guardian, and stern attendant of true virtue:
Now I slip back privately to Aristippus’ precepts,
Trying to bend world to self, and not self to world.

Source: Horace, Epistles.
Translated by A. S. Kline © 2005 All Rights Reserved

Horace, Epistles 1.17.1-32

Humble Advice

Though you attend well enough to your own interests,
Scaeva, and know too how to behave with the great,
Hear the views of a dear friend, who’s still learning:
As if a blind man wished to show you the way: but see
If I’ve anything to say that you might care to own to.
If you love dearest peace, and to sleep till daybreak,
If dust, the sound of wheels, and tavern-life offend you,
I’ll order you off to silent Ferentinum:
Enjoyment’s not for the rich alone: he’s not lived
Badly, who’s escaped attention from birth to death.
But if you want to help your friends and help yourself
A little more, the hungry man head’s for the feast.
‘If Aristippus was happy to eat vegetables,
He wouldn’t woo princes.’ ‘If he knew how to woo
Princes, my critic would scorn vegetables.’ Which
Words and example do you approve? Tell me, or since
You’re younger, here’s why Aristippus is wiser.
This is the way, they say, he parried the fierce Cynic:
‘You play the fool for the people, I for myself:
It’s nobler and truer. I serve so a horse bears me,
A prince feeds me: you beg for scraps, but are still less
Than the giver, though you boast of needing no man.’
All styles, states, circumstances suited Aristippus
Aiming higher, but mostly content with what he had.
But I’d be amazed if a change in his way of life,
Would suit one austerity clothes in a Cynic’s rags.
The first won’t wait for a purple robe, he’ll walk
Through the crowded streets wearing anything he has,
And play either role without any awkwardness:
The second will shun a fine cloak made in Miletus,
As he would a dog or snake, and die of cold if you
Don’t return his rags. Do so, and let him be a fool.

Source: Horace, Epistles.
Translated by A. S. Kline © 2005 All Rights Reserved

Aristippus in the Suda

Suda, Alpha 3908

Son of Aritades, from Cyrene, a philosopher, a pupil of Socrates; by whom the sect called Cyrenaic began. He was the first of the Socratics to take wages. He was on bad terms with Xenophon, and he was able to adapt himself to both time and place. And he enjoyed what things were at hand and pursued pleasure, but he did not by toil chase after the enjoyment of things which he did not have. Hence Diogenes called him the “king's dog”. His sayings [were] the best and greatest. His daughter Arete learned [from him], whose [student was] her son the young Aristippos, who was named Mother-taught, and his [student was] Theodoros, who was called “Godless”, then “God”; and his [student was] Antipater, and his [student was] Epitimedes of Cyrene, his Paraibates, his Hegesias the Advocate of Death [by suicide], and his Annikeris, who ransomed Plato.

Source: Suda On Line and the Stoa Consortium

Suda, Alpha 3909

Companion of Socrates, who was charming and took pleasure in all things. It is said that when his child was carrying money and was burdened by the weight he said, “Then cast off what's weighing you down.” When he was being plotted against on a voyage he cast into the sea the things on account of which he was being conveyed. “For,” he said, “the loss is my salvation.” And he always ribbed Antisthenes for his dourness. And he came to Dionysius the tyrant of Sicily and won the drinking and led the dance for the others and put on purple clothes. But Plato, when the robe was brought to him, said some iambics of Euripides: “I would not put on feminine clothes, having been born male, and from a male line.” Aristippos took it and said with a laugh [some lines] of the same poet: “for the moderate mind will not be corrupted in Bacchic revelries.” Making a request on behalf of a friend and not obtaining it, he fell down to his [Dionysius'] feet and won him over: “I am not responsible for this flattery,” he said, “but Dionysius, who has ears in his knees.”

Source: Suda On Line and the Stoa Consortium

Aristippus: Synopsis

Diogenes Laertius, 2.65-66, 2.83-85

65. Aristippus was by birth a citizen of Cyrene and, as Aeschines informs us, was drawn to Athens by the fame of Socrates. Having come forward as a lecturer or sophist, as Phanias of Eresus, the Peripatetic, informs us, he was the first of the followers of Socrates to charge fees and to send money to his master. And on one occasion the sum of twenty minae which he had sent was returned to him, Socrates declaring that the supernatural sign would not let him take it; the very offer, in fact, annoyed him. Xenophon was no friend to Aristippus; and for this reason he has made Socrates direct against Aristippus the discourse in which he denounces pleasure. Not but what Theodorus in his work On Sects abuses him, and so does Plato in the dialogue On the Soul, as has been shown elsewhere.

66. He was capable of adapting himself to place, time and person, and of playing his part appropriately under whatever circumstances. Hence he found more favour than anybody else with Dionysius, because he could always turn the situation to good account. He derived pleasure from what was present, and did not toil to procure the enjoyment of something not present. Hence Diogenes called him the king's poodle Timon, too, sneered at him for luxury in these words:

Such was the delicate nature of Aristippus, who groped after error by touch.

He is said to have ordered a partridge to be bought at a cost of fifty drachmae, and, when someone censured him, he inquired, “Would not you have given an obol for it?” and, being answered in the affirmative, rejoined, “Fifty drachmae are no more to me.”


83. There have been four men called Aristippus, (1) our present subject, (2) the author of a book about Arcadia, (3) the grandchild by a daughter of the first Aristippus, who was known as his mother's pupil, (4) a philosopher of the New Academy.

The following books by the Cyrenaic philosopher are in circulation: a history of Libya in three Books, sent to Dionysius; one work containing twenty-five dialogues, some written in Attic, some in Doric, as follows:

84. Artabazus. To the shipwrecked. To the Exiles. To a Beggar. To Laïs. To Porus. To Laïs, On the Mirror. Hermias. A Dream. To the Master of the Revels. Philomelus. To his Friends. To those who blame him for his love of old wine and of women. To those who blame him for extravagant living. Letter to his daughter Arete. To one in training for Olympia. An Interrogatory. Another Interrogatory. An Occasional Piece to Dionysius. Another, On the Statue. Another, On the daughter of Dionysius. To one who considered himself slighted. To one who essayed to be a counsellor.

Some also maintain that he wrote six Books of Essays; others, and among them Sosicrates of Rhodes, that he wrote none at all.

85. According to Sotion in his second book, and Panaetius, the following treatises are his:

On Education. On Virtue. Introduction to Philosophy. Artabazus. The Ship-wrecked. The Exiles. Six books of Essays. Three books of Occasional Writings. To Laïs. To Porus. To Socrates. On Fortune.

He laid down as the end the smooth motion resulting in sensation.

Source: Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers
Issues 184-185 of Loeb Classical Library
Translated by Robert Drew Hicks
Harvard University Press, 1925

Aelian, Various Histories Book 14.6

Aristippus his opinion concerning chearfulness. Aristippus by strong arguments advised that we should not be anxious about things past or future; arguing, that not to be troubled at such things, is a sign of a constant clear spirit. He also advised to take care only for the present day, and in that day, only of the present part, wherein something was done or thought; for he said, the present only is in our power, not the past or future; the one being gone, the other uncertain whether ever it will come.

Source: Aelian. His Various History (Varia Historia).
Thomas Stanley, translator (1665)

Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae Book 12

We find also whole schools of philosophers which have openly professed to have made choice of pleasure. And there is the school called the Cyrenaic, which derives its origin from Aristippus the pupil of Socrates: and he devoted himself to pleasure in such a way, that he said that it was the main end of life; and that happiness was founded on it, and that happiness was at best but short-lived. And he, like the most debauched of men, thought that he had nothing to do either with the recollection of past enjoyments, or with the hope of future ones; but he judged of all good by the present alone, and thought that having enjoyed, and being about to enjoy, did not at all concern him; since the one case had no longer any existence, and the other did not yet exist and was necessarily uncertain: acting in this respect like thoroughly dissolute men, who are content with being prosperous at the present moment. And his life was quite consistent with his theory; for he spent the whole of it in all kinds of luxury and extravagance, both in perfumes, and dress, and women. Accordingly, he openly kept Lais as his mistress; and he delighted in all the extravagance of Dionysius, although he was often treated insultingly by him.

Source: Athenaeus, Deipnosophists.
Translated by C. D. Yonge, 1854

Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel 14.18

Now Aristippus was a companion of Socrates, and was the founder of the so-called Cyrenaic sect, from which Epicurus has taken occasion for his exposition of man's proper end. Aristippus was extremely luxurious in his mode of life, and fond of pleasure; he did not, however, openly discourse on the end, but virtually used to say that the substance of happiness lay in pleasures. For by always making pleasure the subject of his discourses he led those who attended him to suspect him of meaning that to live pleasantly was the end of man.

Source: Eusebius of Caesarea: Praeparatio Evangelica (Preparation for the Gospel).
Tr. E.H. Gifford (1903)

Socratic Aristippus

Aristotle, Rhetoric 2.23.11

Or again as Aristippus said in reply to Plato when he spoke somewhat too dogmatically, as Aristippus thought: 'Well, anyhow, our friend', meaning Socrates, 'never spoke like that'.

Source: Rhetoric by Aristotle: Translated by W. Rhys Roberts

Plutarch, On Curiosity 2

And Aristippus, meeting Ischomachus at the Olympic games, asked him what those notions were with which Socrates had so powerfully charmed the minds of his young scholars; upon the slight information whereof, he was so passionately inflamed with a desire of going to Athens, that he grew pale and lean, and almost languished till he came to drink of the fountain itself, and had been acquainted with the person of Socrates, and more fully learned that philosophy of his, the design of which was to teach men how to discover their own ills and apply proper remedies to them.

Source: Plutarch's Morals, Translated by William W. Goodwin Ph.D. (1874)

Diogenes Laertius, Life of Aristippus 2.68,71,72,74,76,79,80

68. Being asked what he had gained from philosophy, he replied, “The ability to feel at ease in any society.” […] Being once asked what advantage philosophers have, he replied, “Should all laws be repealed, we shall go on living as we do now.”

71. An advocate, having pleaded for him and won the case, thereupon put the question, “What good did Socrates do you?” “Thus much,” was the reply, “that what you said of me in your speech was true.”

72. When he was reproached for employing a rhetorician to conduct his case, he made reply, “Well, if I give a dinner, I hire a cook.”

74. To the accusation that, although he was a pupil of Socrates, he took fees, his rejoinder was, “Most certainly I do, for Socrates, too, when certain people sent him corn and wine, used to take a little and return all the rest; and he had the foremost men in Athens for his stewards, whereas mine is my slave Eutychides.”

76. Being asked how Socrates died, he answered, “As I would wish to die myself.”

79. He was once staying in Asia and was taken prisoner by Artaphernes, the satrap. “Can you be cheerful under these circumstances?” some one asked. “Yes, you simpleton,” was the reply, “for when should I be more cheerful than now that I am about to converse with Artaphernes [having learned that from Socrates]?”

80. To the critic who censured him for leaving Socrates to go to Dionysius, his rejoinder was, “Yes, but I came to Socrates for education and to Dionysius for recreation.” When he had made some money by teaching, Socrates asked him, “Where did you get so much?” to which he replied, “Where you got so little.”

Source: Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers
Issues 184-185 of Loeb Classical Library
Translated by Robert Drew Hicks
Harvard University Press, 1925

Aristippus: Opulence

Athenaeus, Book 8

Why, even Aristippus the Socratic was a fish-eater, and when reproached on one occasion by Plato for his love of dainties, as Sotion and Hegesander say — but here is what the Delphian writes: 'When Plato criticized Aristippus for buying so many fish, he replied that he had bought them for only fourpence. To this Plato said that he would have bought them himself at that price, whereupon Aristippus said: “You see, Plato! It isn't I who am a fish-lover, but you who are a money-lover.”

Source: Athenaeus. Loeb Classical Library.
Harvard University Press, 1927 thru 1941.
Translation by Charles Burton Gulick.

Seneca, On Benefits 7.25

Aristippus once, when enjoying a perfume, said: “Bad luck to those effeminate persons who have brought so nice a thing into disrepute.”

Source: L. Annaeus Seneca, On Benefits
By Seneca, Edited by Aubrey Stewart

Clement of Alexandria, Pedogogy 2.8

I know, too, the words of Aristippus the Cyrenian. Aristippus was a luxurious man. He asked an answer to a sophistical proposition in the following terms: “A horse anointed with ointment is not injured in his excellence as a horse, nor is a dog which has been anointed, in his excellence as a dog; no more is a man,” he added, and so finished

Source: Clement. Translated by Thomas Smith.
From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 8. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.)
Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight.

Diogenes Laertius, Life of Aristippus 2.66,68,75,76,77

66. He is said to have ordered a partridge to be bought at a cost of fifty drachmae, and, when someone censured him, he inquired, “Would not you have given an obol for it?” and, being answered in the affirmative, rejoined, “Fifty drachmae are no more to me.”

68. Being reproached for his extravagance, he said, “If it were wrong to be extravagant, it would not be in vogue at the festivals of the gods.”

75. To one who reproached him with extravagance in catering, he replied, “Wouldn't you have bought this if you could have got it for three obols?” The answer being in the affirmative, “Very well, then,” said Aristippus, “I am no longer a lover of pleasure, it is you who are a lover of money.”

76. When Charondas (or, as others say, Phaedo) inquired, “Who is this who reeks with unguents?” he replied, “It is I, unlucky wight, and the still more unlucky Persian king. But, as none of the other animals are at any disadvantage on that account, consider whether it be not the same with man. Confound the effeminates who spoil for us the use of good perfume.”

76-77. Polyxenus the sophist once paid him a visit and, after having seen ladies present and expensive entertainment, reproached him with it later. After an interval Aristippus asked him, “Can you join us today?”. On the other accepting the invitation, Aristippus inquired, “Why, then, did you find fault? For you appear to blame the cost and not the entertainment.”

Source: Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers
Issues 184-185 of Loeb Classical Library
Translated by Robert Drew Hicks
Harvard University Press, 1925

Aristippus: Examining Wealth and Fortune

Vitruvius, On Architecture 6.1.1-2

1.1 It is related of the Socratic philosopher Aristippus that, being shipwrecked and cast ashore on the coast of the Rhodians, he observed geometrical figures drawn thereon, and cried out to his companions: “Let us be of good cheer, for I seethe traces of man.” With that he made for the city of Rhodes, and went straight to the gymnasium. There he fell to discussing philosophical subjects, and presents were bestowed upon him, so that he could not only fit himself out, but could also provide those who accompanied him with clothing and all other necessaries of life. When his companions wished to return to their country, and asked him what message he wished them to carry home, he bade them say this: that children ought to be provided with property and resources of a kind that could swim with them even out of a shipwreck.

1.2 These are indeed the true supports of life, and neither Fortune's adverse gale, nor political revolution, nor ravages of war can do them any harm. Developing the same idea, Theophrastus, urging men to acquire learning rather than to put their trust in money, states the case thus: “The man of learning is the only person in the world who is neither a stranger when in a foreign land, nor friendless when he has lost his intimates and relatives; on the contrary, he is a citizen of every country, and can fearlessly look down upon the troublesome accidents of fortune. But he who thinks himself entrenched in defences not of learning but of luck, moves in slippery paths, struggling through life unsteadily and insecurely.”

Source: Vitruvius Pollio, The Ten Books on Architecture
Morris Hicky Morgan, Ed.
Harvard University Press: 1914

Plutarch, On the Fortune or Virtue of Alexander the Great

It is a strange thing; we applaud Socratic Aristippus, because, being sometimes clad in a poor threadbare cloak, sometimes in a Milesian robe, he kept a decency in both.

Source: Plutarch's Morals. Translated from the Greek by Several Hands.
Corrected and Revised by William W. Goodwin, with an Introduction by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
5 Volumes. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1878).

Plutarch, On Tranquility of Mind

For most men leave the pleasant and delectable things behind them, and run with haste to embrace those which are not only difficult but intolerable. Aristippus was not of this number, for he knew, even to the niceness of a grain, to put prosperous against adverse fortune into the scale, that the one might outweigh the other. Therefore when he lost a noble farm, he asked one of his dissembled friends, who pretended to be sorry, not only with regret but impatience, for his mishap: “[You have] but one piece of land, but have I not three farms yet remaining?” He assenting to the truth of it: “Why then, [he said], should I not rather lament your misfortune, since it is the raving only of a mad man to be concerned at what is lost, and not rather rejoice in what is left?”

English Modernized
Source: Plutarch's Morals. Translated from the Greek by Several Hands.
Corrected and Revised by William W. Goodwin, with an Introduction by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
5 Volumes. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1878).

Diogenes Laertius, Life of Aristippus 2.67,63,77

67. Hence the remark of Strato, or by some accounts of Plato, “You alone are endowed with the gift to flaunt in robes or go in rags.”

73. Being asked on one occasion what is the difference between the wise man and the unwise, “Strip them both,” said he, “and send them among strangers and you will know.”

77. When his servant was carrying money and found the load too heavy – the story is told by Bion in his Lectures – Aristippus cried, “Pour away the greater part, and carry no more than you can manage.” […] Being once on a voyage, as soon as he discovered the vessel to be manned by pirates, he took out his money and began to count it, and then, as if by inadvertence, he let the money fall into the sea, and naturally broke out into lamentation. Another version of the story attributes to him the further remark that it was better for the money to perish on account of Aristippus than for Aristippus to perish on account of the money.

Source: Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers
Issues 184-185 of Loeb Classical Library
Translated by Robert Drew Hicks
Harvard University Press, 1925

Aristippus: Examining Sexuality

Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae Book 13

But Lais was so beautiful, that painters used to come to her to copy her bosom and her breasts. And Lais was a rival of Phryne, and had an immense number of lovers, never caring whether they were rich or poor, and never treating them with any insolence. And Aristippus every year used to spend whole days with her in Aegina, at the festival of Poseidon. And once, being reproached by his servant, who said to him, “You give her such large sums of money, but she admits Diogenes the Cynic for nothing”. He answered, “I give Lais a great deal, that I myself may enjoy her, and not that no one else may.” And when Diogenes said, “Since you, Aristippus, cohabit with a common prostitute, either, therefore, become a Cynic yourself, as I am, or else abandon her”. Aristippus answered him, “Does it appear to you, Diogenes, an absurd thing to live in a house where other men have lived before you?” “Not at all,” said he. “Well, then, does it appear to you absurd to sail in a ship in which other men have sailed before you?” “By no means,” said he. “Well, then,” replied Aristippus, “it is not a bit more absurd to be in love with a woman with whom many men have been in love already.”

Source: Athenaeus, Deipnosophists.
Translated by C. D. Yonge, 1854

Plutarch, On Love

As Aristippus testified to one that would have put him out of conceit with Lais, for that, as he said, she did not truly love him; no more, said he, am I beloved by pure wine or good fish, and yet I willingly make use of both.

Source: Plutarch's Morals. Translated from the Greek by Several Hands.
Corrected and Revised by William W. Goodwin, with an Introduction by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
5 Volumes. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1878).

Diogenes Laertius, Life of Aristippus 2.67,69,74,75

67. And when Dionysius gave him his choice of three courtesans, he carried off all three, saying, “Paris paid dearly for giving the preference to one out of three.” And when he had brought them as far as the porch, he let them go.

69. One day, as he entered the house of a courtesan, one of the lads with him blushed, whereupon he remarked, “It is not going in that is dangerous, but being unable to go out.”

74. To one who accused him of living with a courtesan, he put the question, “Why, is there any difference between taking a house in which many people have lived before and taking one in which nobody has ever lived?” The answer being “No,” he continued, “Or again, between sailing in a ship in which ten thousand persons have sailed before and in one in which nobody has ever sailed?” “There is no difference.” “Then it makes no difference,” said he, “whether the woman you live with has lived with many or with nobody.”

74-75. He enjoyed the favors of Laïs, as Sotion states in the second book of his Successions of Philosophers. To those who censured him his defense was, “I have Lais, not she me; and it is not abstinence from pleasures that is best, but mastery over them without ever being worsted.”

Source: Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers
Issues 184-185 of Loeb Classical Library
Translated by Robert Drew Hicks
Harvard University Press, 1925

Aristippus: Tyrant Dionysius

Plutarch, Life of Dion 19.7

Thereupon Aristippus, jesting with the rest of the philosophers, said that he himself also could predict something strange. And when they besought him to tell what it was, “Well, then,” said he, “I predict that ere long Plato and Dionysius will become enemies.”

Source: Plutarch's Lives translated by Bernadotte Perrin
Loeb Classical Library, 1919

Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae Book 12 544.c-d

Accordingly, Hegesander says that once, when he was assigned a very mean place at a banquet by Dionysius, he endured it patiently; and when Dionysius asked him what he thought of his present place, in comparison of his yesterday's seat, he said, “That the one was much the same as the other; for that one,” says he, “is a mean seat today, because it is deprived of me; but it was yesterday the most respectable seat in the room, owing to me: and this one today has become respectable, because of my presence in it; but yesterday it was an inglorious seat, as I was not present in it.” And in another place Hegesander says- “Aristippus, being ducked with water by Dionysius' servants, and being ridiculed by Antiphon for bearing it patiently, said, 'But suppose I had been out fishing, and got wet, was I to have left my employment, and come away?'”

Source: Athenaeus, Deipnosophists.
Translated by C. D. Yonge, 1854

Diogenes Laertius, Life of Aristippus 2.67,69,70,73,75,77-78,79,80,81,82

67. And when Dionysius gave him his choice of three courtesans, he carried off all three, saying, “Paris paid dearly for giving the preference to one out of three.” And when he had brought them as far as the porch, he let them go. To such lengths did he go both in choosing and in disdaining. Hence the remark of Strato, or by some accounts of Plato, “You alone are endowed with the gift to flaunt in robes or go in rags.” He bore with Dionysius when he spat on him, and to one who took him to task he replied, “If the fishermen let themselves be drenched with sea-water in order to catch a gudgeon, ought I not to endure to be wetted with negus in order to take a blenny?”

69. When Dionysius inquired what was the reason that philosophers go to rich men's houses, while rich men no longer visit philosophers, his reply was that “the one know what they need while the other do not.” When he was reproached by Plato for his extravagance, he inquired, “Do you think Dionysius a good man?” and the reply being in the affirmative, “And yet,” said he, “he lives more extravagantly than I do. So that there is nothing to hinder a man living extravagantly and well.”

70. In answer to one who remarked that he always saw philosophers at rich men's doors, he said, “So, too, physicians are in attendance on those who are sick, but no one for that reason would prefer being sick to being a physician.”

73. Being once compelled by Dionysius to enunciate some doctrine of philosophy, “It would be ludicrous,” he said, “that you should learn from me what to say, and yet instruct me when to say it.” At this, they say, Dionysius was offended and made him recline at the end of the table. And Aristippus said, “You must have wished to confer distinction on the last place.”

75. One day Simus, the steward of Dionysius, a Phrygian by birth and a rascally fellow, was showing him costly houses with tesselated pavements, when Aristippus coughed up phlegm and spat in his face. And on his resenting this he replied, “I could not find any place more suitable.”

77-78. Dionysius once asked him what he was come for, and he said it was to impart what he had and obtain what he had not. But some make his answer to have been, “When I needed wisdom, I went to Socrates; now that I am in need of money, I come to you.”

78. One day Dionysius over the wine commanded everybody to put on purple and dance. Plato declined, quoting the line:

I could not stoop to put on women's robes.

Aristippus, however, put on the dress and, as he was about to dance, was ready with the repartee:

Even amid the Bacchic revelry
True modesty will not be put to shame.

79. He made a request to Dionysius on behalf of a friend and, failing to obtain it, fell down at his feet. And when some one jeered at him, he made reply, “It is not I who am to blame, but Dionysius who has his ears in his feet.”

80. To the critic who censured him for leaving Socrates to go to Dionysius, his rejoinder was, “Yes, but I came to Socrates for education and to Dionysius for recreation.”

81. He received a sum of money from Dionysius at the same time that Plato carried off a book and, when he was twitted with this, his reply was,, “Well, I want money, Plato wants books.” Some one asked him why he let himself be refuted by Dionysius. “For the same reason,” said he, “as the others refute him.”

82. Dionysius met a request of his for money with the words, “Nay, but you told me that the wise man would never be in want.” To which he retorted, “Pay! Pay! and then let us discuss the question;” and when he was paid, “Now you see, do you not,” said he, “that I was not found wanting?” Dionysius having repeated to him the lines:

Whoso betakes him to a prince's court Becomes his slave, albeit of free birth,

he retorted:

If a free man he come, no slave is he.

Source: Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers
Issues 184-185 of Loeb Classical Library
Translated by Robert Drew Hicks
Harvard University Press, 1925

Aristippus: Xenophon's Testimony

Xenophon, Memorabilia Book 2.1

Now, if the effect of such discourses was, as I imagine, to deter his hearers from the paths of quackery and false-seeming, so I am sure that language like the following was calculated to stimulate his followers to practise self-control and endurance: self-control in the matters of eating, drinking, sleeping, and the cravings of lust; endurance of cold and heat and toil and pain. He had noticed the undue licence which one of his acquaintances allowed himself in all such matters. Accordingly he thus addressed him:

Tell me, Aristippus (Socrates said), supposing you had two children entrusted to you to educate, one of them must be brought up with an aptitude for government, and the other without the faintest propensity to rule—how would you educate them? What do you say? Shall we begin our inquiry from the beginning, as it were, with the bare elements of food and nutriment?

Ar. Yes, food to begin with, by all means, being a first principle, without which there is no man living but would perish.

Soc. Well, then, we may expect, may we not, that a desire to grasp food at certain seasons will exhibit itself in both the children?

Ar. It is to be expected.

Soc. Which, then, of the two must be trained, of his own free will, to prosecute a pressing business rather than gratify the belly?

Ar. No doubt the one who is being trained to govern, if we would not have affairs of state neglected during his government.

Soc. And the same pupil must be furnished with a power of holding out against thirst also when the craving to quench it comes upon him?

Ar. Certainly he must.

Soc. And on which of the two shall we confer such self-control in regard to sleep as shall enable him to rest late and rise early, or keep vigil, if the need arise?

Ar. To the same one of the two must be given that endurance also.

Soc. Well, and a continence in regard to matters sexual so great that nothing of the sort shall prevent him from doing his duty? Which of them claims that?

Ar. The same one of the pair again.

Soc. Well, and on which of the two shall be bestowed, as a further gift, the voluntary resolution to face toils rather than turn and flee from them?

Ar. This, too, belongs of right to him who is being trained for government.

Soc. Well, and to which of them will it better accord to be taught all knowledge necessary towards the mastery of antagonists?

Ar. To our future ruler certainly, for without these parts of learning all his other capacities will be merely waste.

Soc. Will not a man so educated be less liable to be entrapped by rival powers, and so escape a common fate of living creatures, some of which (as we all know) are hooked through their own greediness, and often even in spite of a native shyness; but through appetite for food they are drawn towards the bait, and are caught; while others are similarly ensnared by drink?

Ar. Undoubtedly.

Soc. And others again are victims of amorous heat, as quails, for instance, or partridges, which, at the cry of the hen-bird, with lust and expectation of such joys grow wild, and lose their power of computing dangers: on they rush, and fall into the snare of the hunter?

Aristippus assented.

Soc. And would it not seem to be a base thing for a man to be affected like the silliest bird or beast? as when the adulterer invades the innermost sanctum of the house, though he is well aware of the risks which his crime involves, the formidable penalties of the law, the danger of being caught in the toils, and then suffering the direst contumely. Considering all the hideous penalties which hang over the adulterer's head, considering also the many means at hand to release him from the thraldom of his passion, that a man should so drive headlong on to the quicksands of perdition —what are we to say of such frenzy? The wretch who can so behave must surely be tormented by an evil spirit?

Ar. So it strikes me.

Soc. And does it not strike you as a sign of strange indifference that, whereas the greater number of the indispensable affairs of men, as for instance, those of war and agriculture, and more than half the rest, need to be conducted under the broad canopy of heaven, yet the majority of men are quite untrained to wrestle with cold and heat?

Aristippus again assented.

Soc. And do you not agree that he who is destined to rule must train himself to bear these things lightly?

Ar. Most certainly.

Soc. And whilst we rank those who are self-disciplined in all these matters among persons fit to rule, we are bound to place those incapable of such conduct in the category of persons without any pretension whatsoever to be rulers?

Ar. I assent.

Soc. Well, then, since you know the rank peculiar to either section of mankind, did it ever strike you to consider to which of the two you are best entitled to belong?

Yes I have (replied Aristippus). I do not dream for a moment of ranking myself in the class of those who wish to rule. In fact, considering how serious a business it is to cater for one's own private needs, I look upon it as the mark of a fool not to be content with that, but to further saddle oneself with the duty of providing the rest of the community with whatever they may be pleased to want. That, at the cost of much personal enjoyment, a man should put himself at the head of a state, and then, if he fail to carry through every jot and tittle of that state's desire, be held to criminal account, does seem to me the very extravagance of folly. Why, bless me! states claim to treat their rulers precisely as I treat my domestic slaves. I expect my attendants to furnish me with an abundance of necessaries, but not to lay a finger on one of them themselves. So these states regard it as the duty of a ruler to provide them with all the good things imaginable, but to keep his own hands off them all the while. So then, for my part, if anybody desires to have a heap of pother himself, and be a nuisance to the rest of the world, I will educate him in the manner suggested, and he shall take his place among those who are fit to rule; but for myself, I beg to be enrolled amongst those who wish to spend their days as easily and pleasantly as possible.

Soc. Shall we then at this point turn and inquire which of the two are likely to lead the pleasanter life, the rulers or the ruled?

Ar. By all means let us do so.

Soc. To begin then with the nations and races known to ourselves. In Asia the Persians are the rulers, while the Syrians, Phrygians, Lydians are ruled; and in Europe we find the Scythians ruling, and the Maeotians being ruled. In Africa the Carthaginians are rulers, the Libyans ruled. Which of these two sets respectively leads the happier life, in your opinion? Or, to come nearer home—you are yourself a Hellene—which among Hellenes enjoy the happier existence, think you, the dominant or the subject states?

Nay, I would have you to understand (exclaimed Aristippus) that I am just as far from placing myself in the ranks of slavery; there is, I take it, a middle path between the two which it is my ambition to tread, avoiding rule and slavery alike; it lies through freedom—the high road which leads to happiness.

Soc. True, if only your path could avoid human beings, as it avoids rule and slavery, there would be something in what you say. But being placed as you are amidst human beings, if you purpose neither to rule nor to be ruled, and do not mean to dance attendance, if you can help it, on those who rule, you must surely see that the stronger have an art to seat the weaker on the stool of repentance both in public and in private, and to treat them as slaves. I daresay you have not failed to note this common case: a set of people has sown and planted, whereupon in comes another set and cuts their corn and fells their fruit-trees, and in every way lays siege to them because, though weaker, they refuse to pay them proper court, till at length they are persuaded to accept slavery rather than war against their betters. And in private life also, you will bear me out, the brave and powerful are known to reduce the helpless and cowardly to bondage, and to make no small profit out of their victims.

Ar. Yes, but I must tell you I have a simple remedy against all such misadventures. I do not confine myself to any single civil community. I roam the wide world a foreigner.

Soc. Well, now, that is a masterly stroke, upon my word! Of course, ever since the decease of Sinis, and Sciron, and Procrustes, foreign travellers have had an easy time of it. But still, if I bethink me, even in these modern days the members of free communities do pass laws in their respective countries for self-protection against wrong-doing. Over and above their personal connections, they provide themselves with a host of friends; they gird their cities about with walls and battlements; they collect armaments to ward off evil-doers; and to make security doubly sure, they furnish themselves with allies from foreign states. In spite of all which defensive machinery these same free citizens do occasionally fall victims to injustice. But you, who are without any of these aids; you, who pass half your days on the high roads where iniquity is rife; you, who, into whatever city you enter, are less than the least of its free members, and moreover are just the sort of person whom any one bent on mischief would single out for attack—yet you, with your foreigner's passport, are to be exempt from injury? So you flatter yourself. And why? Will the state authorities cause proclamation to be made on your behalf: “The person of this man Aristippus is secure; let his going out and his coming in be free from danger”? Is that the ground of your confidence? or do you rather rest secure in the consciousness that you would prove such a slave as no master would care to keep? For who would care to have in his house a fellow with so slight a disposition to work and so strong a propensity to extravagance? Suppose we stop and consider that very point: how do masters deal with that sort of domestic? If I am not mistaken, they chastise his wantonness by starvation; they balk his thieving tendencies by bars and bolts where there is anything to steal; they hinder him from running away by bonds and imprisonment; they drive the sluggishness out of him with the lash. Is it not so? Or how do you proceed when you discover the like tendency in one of your domestics?

Ar. I correct them with all the plagues, till I force them to serve me properly. But, Socrates, to return to your pupil educated in the royal art, which, if I mistake not, you hold to be happiness: how, may I ask, will he be better off than others who lie in evil case, in spite of themselves, simply because they suffer perforce, but in his case the hunger and the thirst, the cold shivers and the lying awake at nights, with all the changes he will ring on pain, are of his own choosing? For my part I cannot see what difference it makes, provided it is one and the same bare back which receives the stripes, whether the whipping be self-appointed or unasked for; nor indeed does it concern my body in general, provided it be my body, whether I am beleaguered by a whole armament of such evils of my own will or against my will—except only for the folly which attaches to self-appointed suffering.

Soc. What, Aristippus, does it not seem to you that, as regards such matters, there is all the difference between voluntary and involuntary suffering, in that he who starves of his own accord can eat when he chooses, and he who thirsts of his own free will can drink, and so for the rest; but he who suffers in these ways perforce cannot desist from the suffering when the humour takes him? Again, he who suffers hardship voluntarily, gaily confronts his troubles, being buoyed on hope —just as a hunter in pursuit of wild beasts, through hope of capturing his quarry, finds toil a pleasure—and these are but prizes of little worth in return for their labours; but what shall we say of their reward who toil to obtain to themselves good friends, or to subdue their enemies, or that through strength of body and soul they may administer their households well, befriend their friends, and benefit the land which gave them birth? Must we not suppose that these too will take their sorrows lightly, looking to these high ends? Must we not suppose that they too will gaily confront existence, who have to support them not only their conscious virtue, but the praise and admiration of the world? And once more, habits of indolence, along with the fleeting pleasures of the moment, are incapable, as gymnastic trainers say, of setting up a good habit of body, or of implanting in the soul any knowledge worthy of account; whereas by painstaking endeavour in the pursuit of high and noble deeds, as good men tell us, through endurance we shall in the end attain the goal. So Hesiod somewhere says:

Wickedness may a man take wholesale with ease, smooth is the way and her dwelling-place is very nigh; but in front of virtue the immortal gods have placed toil and sweat, long is the path and steep that leads to her, and rugged at the first, but when the summit of the pass is reached, then for all its roughness the path grows easy.

And Ephicharmus bears his testimony when he says:

The gods sell us all good things in return for our labours.

And again in another passage he exclaims:

Set not thine heart on soft things, thou knave, lest thou light upon the hard.

And that wise man Prodicus delivers himself in a like strain concerning virtue in that composition of his about Heracles, which crowds have listened to. This, as far as I can recollect it, is the substance at least of what he says:

“When Heracles was emerging from boyhood into the bloom of youth, having reached that season in which the young man, now standing upon the verge of independence, shows plainly whether he will enter upon the path of virtue or of vice, he went forth into a quiet place, and sat debating with himself which of those two paths he should pursue; and as he there sat musing, there appeared to him two women of great stature which drew nigh to him. The one was fair to look upon, frank and free by gift of nature, her limbs adorned with purity and her eyes with bashfulness; sobriety set the rhythm of her gait, and she was clad in white apparel. The other was of a different type; the fleshy softness of her limbs betrayed her nurture, while the complexion of her skin was embellished that she might appear whiter and rosier than she really was, and her figure that she might seem taller than nature made her; she stared with wide-open eyes, and the raiment wherewith she was clad served but to reveal the ripeness of her bloom. With frequent glances she surveyed her person, or looked to see if others noticed her; while ever and anon she fixed her gaze upon the shadow of herself intently.

“Now when these two had drawn near to Heracles, she who was first named advanced at an even pace towards him, but the other, in her eagerness to outstrip her, ran forward to the youth, exclaiming, 'I see you, Heracles, in doubt and difficulty what path of life to choose; make me your friend, and I will lead you to the pleasantest road and easiest. This I promise you: you shall taste all of life's sweets and escape all bitters. In the first place, you shall not trouble your brain with war or business; other topics shall engage your mind; your only speculation, what meat or drink you shall find agreeable to your palate; what delight of ear or eye; what pleasure of smell or touch; what darling lover's intercourse shall most enrapture you; how you shall pillow your limbs in softest slumber; how cull each individual pleasure without alloy of pain; and if ever the suspicion steal upon you that the stream of joys will one day dwindle, trust me I will not lead you where you shall replenish the store by toil of body and trouble of soul. No! others shall labour, but you shall reap the fruit of their labours; you shall withhold your hand from nought which shall bring you gain. For to all my followers I give authority and power to help themselves freely from every side.'

“Heracles hearing these words made answer: 'What, O lady, is the name you bear?' To which she: 'Know that my friends call be Happiness, but they that hate me have their own nicknames for me, Vice and Naughtiness.'

“But just then the other of those fair women approached and spoke: 'Heracles, I too am come to you, seeing that your parents are well known to me, and in your nurture I have gauged your nature; wherefore I entertain good hope that if you choose the path which leads to me, you shall greatly bestir yourself to be the doer of many a doughty deed of noble emprise; and that I too shall be held in even higher honour for your sake, lit with the lustre shed by valorous deeds. I will not cheat you with preludings of pleasure, but I will relate to you the things that are according to the ordinances of God in very truth. Know then that among things that are lovely and of good report, not one have the gods bestowed upon mortal men apart from toil and pains. Would you obtain the favour of the gods, then must you pay these same gods service; would you be loved by your friends, you must benefit these friends; do you desire to be honoured by the state, you must give the state your aid; do you claim admiration for your virtue from all Hellas, you must strive to do some good to Hellas; do you wish earth to yield her fruits to you abundantly, to earth must you pay your court; do you seek to amass riches from your flocks and herds, on them must you bestow your labour; or is it your ambition to be potent as a warrior, able to save your friends and to subdue your foes, then must you learn the arts of war from those who have the knowledge, and practise their application in the field when learned; or would you e'en be powerful of limb and body, then must you habituate limbs and body to obey the mind, and exercise yourself with toil and sweat.'

“At this point, (as Prodicus relates) Vice broke in exclaiming: 'See you, Heracles, how hard and long the road is by which yonder woman would escort you to her festal joys. But I will guide you by a short and easy road to happiness.'

“Then spoke Virtue: 'Nay, wretched one, what good thing hast thou? or what sweet thing art thou acquainted with—that wilt stir neither hand nor foot to gain it? Thou, that mayest not even await the desire of pleasure, but, or ever that desire springs up, art already satiated; eating before thou hungerest, and drinking before thou thirsteth; who to eke out an appetite must invent an army of cooks and confectioners; and to whet thy thirst must lay down costliest wines, and run up and down in search of ice in summer-time; to help thy slumbers soft coverlets suffice not, but couches and feather-beds must be prepared thee and rockers to rock thee to rest; since desire for sleep in thy case springs not from toil but from vacuity and nothing in the world to do. Even the natural appetite of love thou forcest prematurely by every means thou mayest devise, confounding the sexes in thy service. Thus thou educatest thy friends: with insult in the night season and drowse of slumber during the precious hours of the day. Immortal, thou art cast forth from the company of gods, and by good men art dishonoured: that sweetest sound of all, the voice of praise, has never thrilled thine ears; and the fairest of all fair visions is hidden from thine eyes that have never beheld one bounteous deed wrought by thine own hand. If thou openest thy lips in speech, who will believe thy word? If thou hast need of aught, none shall satisfy thee. What sane man will venture to join thy rablle rout? Ill indeed are thy revellers to look upon, young men impotent of body, and old men witless in mind: in the heyday of life they batten in sleek idleness, and wearily do they drag through an age of wrinkled wretchedness: and why? they blush with shame at the thought of deeds done in the past, and groan for weariness at what is left to do. During their youth they ran riot through their sweet things, and laid up for themselves large store of bitterness against the time of eld. But my companionship is with the gods; and with the good among men my conversation; no bounteous deed, divine or human, is wrought without my aid. Therefore am I honoured in Heaven pre-eminently, and upon earth among men whose right it is to honour me; as a beloved fellow-worker of all craftsmen; a faithful guardian of house and lands, whom the owners bless; a kindly helpmeet of servants; a brave assistant in the labours of peace; an unflinching ally in the deeds of war; a sharer in all friendships indispensable. To my friends is given an enjoyment of meats and drinks, which is sweet in itself and devoid of trouble, in that they can endure until desire ripens, and sleep more delicious visits them than those who toil not. Yet they are not pained to part with it; nor for the sake of slumber do they let slip the performance of their duties. Among my followers the youth delights in the praises of his elders, and the old man glories in the honour of the young; with joy they call to memory their deeds of old, and in to-day's well-doing are well pleased. For my sake they are dear in the sight of God, beloved of their friends and honoured by the country of their birth. When the appointed goal is reached they lie not down in oblivion with dishonour, but bloom afresh—their praise resounded on the lips of men for ever. Toils like these, O son of noble parents, Heracles, it is yours to meet with, and having endured, to enter into the heritage assured you of transcendant happiness.'”

This, Aristippus, in rough sketch is the theme which Prodicus pursues in his “Education of Heracles by Virtue,” only he decked out his sentiments, I admit, in far more magnificent phrases than I have ventured on. Were it not well, Aristippus, to lay to heart these sayings, and to strive to bethink you somewhat of that which touches the future of our life?

Source: The Memorabilia Recollections of Socrates
By Xenophon, Translator: H. G. Dakyns
Gutenberg Release Date: August 24, 2008 [EBook #1177]

Xenophon, Memorabilia Book 3.8

Once when Aristippus set himself to subject Socrates to a cross-examination, such as he had himself undergone at the hands of Socrates on a former occasion, Socrates, being minded to benefit those who were with him, gave his answers less in the style of a debater guarding against perversions of his argument, than of a man persuaded of the supreme importance of right conduct.

Aristippus asked him “if he knew of anything good,” intending in case he assented and named any particular good thing, like food or drink, or wealth, or health, or strength, or courage, to point out that the thing named was sometimes bad. But he, knowing that if a thing troubles us, we immediately want that which will put an end to our trouble, answered precisely as it was best to do.

Soc. Do I understand you to ask me whether I know anything good for fever?

No (he replied), that is not my question.

Soc. Then for inflammation of the eyes?

Aristip. No, nor yet that.

Soc. Well then, for hunger?

Aristip. No, nor yet for hunger.

Well, but (answered Socrates) if you ask me whether I know of any good thing which is good for nothing, I neither know of it nor want to know.

And when Aristippus, returning to the charge, asked him “if he knew of any thing beautiful.”

He answered: Yes, many things.

Aristip. Are they all like each other?

Soc. On the contrary, they are often as unlike as possible.

How then (he asked) can that be beautiful which is unlike the beautiful?

Soc. Bless me! for the simple reason that it is possible for a man who is a beautiful runner to be quite unlike another man who is a beautiful boxer, or for a shield, which is a beautiful weapon for the purpose of defence, to be absolutely unlike a javelin, which is a beautiful weapon of swift and sure discharge.

Aristip. Your answers are no better now than when I asked you whether you knew any good thing. They are both of a pattern.

Soc. And so they should be. Do you imagine that one thing is good and another beautiful? Do not you know that relatively to the same standard all things are at once beautiful and good? In the first place, virtue is not a good thing relatively to one standard and a beautiful thing relatively to another standard; and in the next place, human beings, on the same principle and relatively to the same standard, are called “beautiful and good”; and so the bodily frames of men relatively to the same standards are seen to be “beautiful and good,” and in general all things capable of being used by man are regarded as at once beautiful and good relatively to the same standard—the standing being in each case what the thing happens to be useful for.

Aristip. Then I presume even a basket for carrying dung is a beautiful thing?

Soc. To be sure, and a spear of gold an ugly thing, if for their respective uses—the former is well and the latter ill adapted.

Aristip. Do you mean to assert that the same things may be beautiful and ugly?

Soc. Yes, to be sure; and by the same showing things may be good and bad: as, for instance, what is good for hunger may be bad for fever, and what is good for fever bad for hunger; or again, what is beautiful for wrestling is often ugly for running; and in general everything is good and beautiful when well adapted for the end in view, bad and ugly when ill adapted for the same.

Similarly when he spoke about houses, and argued that “the same house must be at once beautiful and useful”—I could not help feeling that he was giving a good lesson on the problem: “how a house ought to be built.” He investigated the matter thus:

Soc. “Do you admit that any one purposing to build a perfect house will plan to make it at once as pleasant and as useful to live in as possible?” and that point being admitted, the next question would be:

“It is pleasant to have one's house cool in summer and warm in winter, is it not?” and this proposition also having obtained assent, “Now, supposing a house to have a southern aspect, sunshine during winter will steal in under the verandah, but in summer, when the sun traverses a path right over our heads, the roof will afford an agreeable shade, will it not? If, then, such an arrangement is desirable, the southern side of a house should be built higher to catch the rays of the winter sun, and the northern side lower to prevent the cold winds finding ingress; in a word, it is reasonable to suppose that the pleasantest and most beautiful dwelling place will be one in which the owner can at all seasons of the year find the pleasantest retreat, and stow away his goods with the greatest security.”

Paintings and ornamental mouldings are apt (he said) to deprive one of more joy than they confer.

The fittest place for a temple or an altar (he maintained) was some site visible from afar, and untrodden by foot of man: (18) since it was a glad thing for the worshipper to lift up his eyes afar off and offer up his orison; glad also to wend his way peaceful to prayer unsullied.

Source: The Memorabilia Recollections of Socrates
By Xenophon, Translator: H. G. Dakyns
Gutenberg Release Date: August 24, 2008 [EBook #1177]

Aristippus: Other Testimony

Diogenes Laertius, Life of Aristippus 2.68,70,71,72,73,82-3

68. Diogenes, washing the dirt from his vegetables, saw him passing and jeered at him in these terms, “If you had learnt to make these your diet, you would not have paid court to kings,” to which his rejoinder was, “And if you knew how to associate with men, you would not be washing vegetables.” Being asked what he had gained from philosophy, he replied, “The ability to feel at ease in any society.” Being reproached for his extravagance, he said, “If it were wrong to be extravagant, it would not be in vogue at the festivals of the gods.”

70. Some one brought him a knotty problem with the request that he would untie the knot. “Why, you simpleton,” said he, “do you want it untied, seeing that it causes trouble enough as it is?” “It is better,” he said, “to be a beggar than to be uneducated; the one needs money, the others need to be humanized.” One day that he was reviled, he tried to slip away; the other pursued him, asking, “Why do you run away?” “Because,” said he, “as it is your privilege to use foul language, so it is my privilege not to listen.” In answer to one who remarked that he always saw philosophers at rich men's doors, he said, “So, too, physicians are in attendance on those who are sick, but no one for that reason would prefer being sick to being a physician.”

71. It happened once that he set sail for Corinth and, being overtaken by a storm, he was in great consternation. Some one said, “We plain men are not alarmed, and are you philosophers turned cowards?” To this he replied, “The lives at stake in the two cases are not comparable.”

72. He gave his daughter Arete the very best advice, training her up to despise excess. He was asked by some one in what way his son would be the better for being educated. He replied, “If nothing more than this, at all events, when in the theatre he will not sit down like a stone upon stone.”

73. Being asked on one occasion what is the difference between the wise man and the unwise, “Strip them both,” said he, “and send them among strangers and you will know.”

82-83. This is stated by Diocles in his work On the Lives of Philosophers; other writers refer the anecdotes to Plato. After getting in a rage with Aeschines, he presently addressed him thus: “Are we not to make it up and desist from vapouring, or will you wait for some one to reconcile us over the wine-bowl?” To which he replied, “Agreed.” “Then remember,” Aristippus went on, “that, though I am your senior, I made the first approaches.” Thereupon Aeschines said, “Well done, by Hera, you are quite right; you are a much better man than I am. For the quarrel was of my beginning, you make the first move to friendship.” Such are the repartees which are attributed to him.

Source: Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers
Issues 184-185 of Loeb Classical Library
Translated by Robert Drew Hicks
Harvard University Press, 1925

Plutarch, Concerning Anger

And Aristippus, when there happened to be a falling out between him and Aeschines, and one said to him, O Aristippus, what is now become of the friendship that was between you two? answered, It is asleep, but I will go and awaken it. Then coming to Aeschines, he said to him, What? do you take me to be so utterly wretched and incurable as not to be worth your admonition? No wonder, said Aeschines, if you, by nature so excelling me in every thing, did here also discern before me what was right and fitting to be done.

English Modernized
Source: Plutarch's Morals. Translated from the Greek by Several Hands.
Corrected and Revised by William W. Goodwin, with an Introduction by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
5 Volumes. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1878).\\

Plutarch, Sensibility in the Progress of Virtue

Aristippus was a great example of this; for when in a set disputation he was baffled by the sophistry and forehead of an impudent, wild, and ignorant disputant, and observed him to be flushed and high with the conquest; Well! says the philosopher, I am certain, I shall sleep quieter to-night than my antagonist.

Source: Plutarch's Morals. Translated from the Greek by Several Hands.
Corrected and Revised by William W. Goodwin, with an Introduction by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
5 Volumes. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1878).

Aelian, Various Histories Book 9.20

Of Aristippus. Aristippus being in a great storm at Sea, one of those who were aboard with him said, “Are you afraid too, Aristippus, as well as we of the ordinary sort?” “Yes, answered he, and with reason; for you shall only lose a wicked life, but I, Felicity.”

Source: Aelian. His Various History (Varia Historia).
Thomas Stanley, translator (1665)

Relations of Aristippus: Doctrines and Persons

Arete: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology

Arete, daughter of Aristippus, the founder of the Cyrenaic school of philosophy. She was instructed by him in the principles of his sys­tem, which she transmitted to her son, Aristippus the “Mother Taught”, to whom Ritter (Gesck. der Phil, vii. 1. 3) ascribes the formal completion of the ear­lier Cyrenaic doctrine. We are told by Diogenes Laertius (ii. 72), that her father taught her con­tentment and moderation, both by precept and practice, and the same duties are insisted on in an epistle now extant, said to be addressed to her by him. This letter is certainly spurious, although Laertius mentions among the writ­ings of Aristippus am “letter to his daughter Arete”. Whether the letter to which he refers was the same as that which we possess, is uncer­tain ; but the fact that it was extant in his time would not prove its authenticity, Aelian (H. A. iii. 40) calls Arete the sister of Aristippus, but this assertion is opposed to the statement of all other writers; and, besides, the passage which contains it is corrupt. (Diog. Laert. ii. 72, 86)

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
Edited by William Smith
In Three Volumes Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1867

Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel 14.18

Among his other hearers was his own daughter Arete, who having borne a son named him Aristippus, and he from having been introduced by her to philosophical studies was called his mother's pupil. He quite plainly defined the end to be the life of pleasure, ranking as pleasure that which lies in motion. For he said that there are three states affecting our temperament: one, in which we feel pain, like a storm at sea; another, in which we feel pleasure, that may be likened to a gentle undulation, for pleasure is a gentle movement, comparable to a favourable breeze; and the third is an intermediate state, in which we feel neither pain nor pleasure, which is similar to a calm. So of these feelings only, he said, we have the sensation. Now against this sect the following objections have been urged (by Aristocles).

Source: Eusebius of Caesarea: Praeparatio Evangelica (Preparation for the Gospel).
Tr. E.H. Gifford (1903)

Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel 14.19

'Next in order will be those who say that the feelings alone are conceptional, and this was asserted by some of the Cyrenaics. For they, as if oppressed by a kind of torpor, maintained that they knew nothing at all unless some one standing by struck and pricked them; for when burned or cut, they said, they knew that they felt something, but whether what burned them was fire, or what cut them iron, they could not tell.

'Men then who talk thus one might immediately ask, whether they at all events know this that they suffer and feel something. For if they do not know, neither could they say that they know only the feeling: if on the other hand they know, the feelings cannot be the only things conceptional. For “I am being burned” was a statement, and not a feeling.

Source: Eusebius of Caesarea: Praeparatio Evangelica (Preparation for the Gospel).
Tr. E.H. Gifford (1903)

Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel 15.62

These, then, were the opinions of Socrates. And next after him Aristippus of Cyrene, and then later Ariston of Chios, undertook to maintain that morals were the only proper subject of philosophy; for these inquiries were practicable and useful, but the discussions about nature were quite the contrary, neither being comprehensible, nor having any use, even if they were clearly understood.

Source: Eusebius of Caesarea: Praeparatio Evangelica (Preparation for the Gospel).
Tr. E.H. Gifford (1903)

Diogenes Laertius, Life of Aristippus 2.81,85-93

81. Someone accused him of exposing his son as if it was not his offspring Whereupon he replied, “Phlegm, too, and vermin we know to be of our own begetting, but for all that, because they are useless, we cast them as far from us as possible.”

85-93. Having written his life, let me now proceed to pass in review the philosophers of the Cyrenaic school which sprang from him, although some call themselves followers of Hegesias, others followers of Anniceris, others again of Theodorus. Not but what we shall notice further the pupils of Phaedo, the chief of whom were called the school of Eretria. The case stands thus. The disciples of Aristippus were his daughter Arete, Aethiops of Ptolemais, and Antipater of Cyrene. The pupil of Arete was Aristippus, who went by the name of mother-taught, and his pupil was Theodorus, known as the atheist, subsequently as “god.” Antipater's pupil was Epitimides of Cyrene, his was Paraebates, and he had as pupils Hegesias, the advocate of suicide, and Anniceris, who ransomed Plato.

Those then who adhered to the teaching of Aristippus and were known as Cyrenaics held the following opinions. They laid down that there are two states, pleasure and pain, the former a smooth, the latter a rough motion, and that pleasure does not differ from pleasure nor is one pleasure more pleasant than another. The one state is agreeable and the other repellent to all living things. However, the bodily pleasure which is the end is, according to Panaetius in his work On the Sects, not the settled pleasure following the removal of pains, or the sort of freedom from discomfort which Epicurus accepts and maintains to be the end. They also hold that there is a difference between “end” and “happiness.” Our end is particular pleasure, whereas happiness is the sum total of all particular pleasures, in which are included both past and future pleasures.

Particular pleasure is desirable for its own sake, whereas happiness is desirable not for its own sake but for the sake of particular pleasures. That pleasure is the end is proved by the fact that from our youth up we are instinctively attracted to it, and, when we obtain it, seek for nothing more, and shun nothing so much as its opposite, pain. Pleasure is good even if it proceed from the most unseemly conduct, as Hippobotus says in his work On the Sects. For even if the action be irregular, still, at any rate, the resultant pleasure is desirable for its own sake and is good. The removal of pain, however, which is put forward in Epicurus, seems to them not to be pleasure at all, any more than the absence of pleasure is pain. For both pleasure and pain they hold to consist in motion, whereas absence of pleasure like absence of pain is not motion, since painlessness is the condition of one who is, as it were, asleep. They assert that some people may fail to choose pleasure because their minds are perverted; not all mental pleasures and pains, however, are derived from bodily counterparts. For instance, we take disinterested delight in the prosperity of our country which is as real as our delight in our own prosperity. Nor again do they admit that pleasure is derived from the memory or expectation of good, which was a doctrine of Epicurus. For they assert that the movement affecting the mind is exhausted in course of time. Again they hold that pleasure is not derived from sight or from hearing alone. At all events, we listen with pleasure to imitation of mourning, while the reality causes pain. They gave the names of absence of pleasure and absence of pain to the intermediate conditions. However, they insist that bodily pleasures are far better than mental pleasures, and bodily pains far worse than mental pains, and that this is the reason why offenders are punished with the former. For they assumed pain to be more repellent, pleasure more congenial. For these reasons they paid more attention to the body than to the mind. Hence, although pleasure is in itself desirable, yet they hold that the things which are productive of certain pleasures are often of a painful nature, the very opposite of pleasure; so that to accumulate the pleasures which are productive of happiness appears to them a most irksome business.

They do not accept the doctrine that every wise man lives pleasantly and every fool painfully, but regard it as true for the most part only. It is sufficient even if we enjoy but each single pleasure as it comes. They say that prudence is a good, though desirable not in itself but on account of its consequences; that we make friends from interested motives, just as we cherish any part of the body so long as we have it; that some of the virtues are found even in the foolish; that bodily training contributes to the acquisition of virtue; that the sage will not give way to envy or love or superstition, since these weaknesses are due to mere empty opinion; he will, however, feel pain and fear, these being natural affections; and that wealth too is productive of pleasure, though not desirable for its own sake.

They affirm that mental affections can be known, but not the objects from which they come; and they abandoned the study of nature because of its apparent uncertainty, but fastened on logical inquiries because of their utility. But Meleager in his second book On Philosophical Opinions, and Clitomachus in his first book On the Sects, affirm that they maintain Dialectic as well as Physics to be useless, since, when one has learnt the theory of good and evil, it is possible to speak with propriety, to be free from superstition, and to escape the fear of death. They also held that nothing is just or honourable or base by nature, but only by convention and custom. Nevertheless the good man will be deterred from wrong-doing by the penalties imposed and the prejudices that it would arouse. Further that the wise man really exists. They allow progress to be attainable in philosophy as well as in other matters. They maintain that the pain of one man exceeds that of another, and that the senses are not always true and trustworthy.

Source: Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers
Issues 184-185 of Loeb Classical Library
Translated by Robert Drew Hicks
Harvard University Press, 1925

Diogenes Laertius, Life of Epicurus 10.131-132

When we [Epicureans] say, then, that pleasure is the end and aim, we do not mean the pleasures of the prodigal or the pleasures of sensuality, as we are understood to do by some through ignorance, prejudice, or wilful misrepresentation. By pleasure we mean the absence of pain in the body and of trouble in the soul. It is not an unbroken succession of drinking-bouts and of revelry, not sexual love, not the enjoyment of the fish and other delicacies of a luxurious table, which produce a pleasant life; it is sober reasoning, searching out the grounds of every choice and avoidance, and banishing those beliefs through which the greatest tumults take possession of the soul

Source: Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers
Issues 184-185 of Loeb Classical Library
Translated by Robert Drew Hicks
Harvard University Press, 1925

Hegesias the "Death Persuader"

Hegesias: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology

Hegesias, a Cyrenaic philoso­pher, said by Diogenes Laertius (ii. 86, &c.) to have been the disciple of Paraebates. He was the fellow-student of Anniceris, from whom, however, he differed by presenting in its most hateful form the system which Anniceris softened and improved. He followed Aristippus in con­sidering pleasure the object of man's desire; but, being probably of a morose and discontented turn of mind, the view which he took of human life was of the gloomiest character, and his practical infer­ences from the Cyrenaic principles were destructive alike to goodness and happiness. The latter he said could not be the aim of man, because it is not attainable, and therefore concluded that the wise man's only object should be to free himself from inconvenience, thereby reducing the whole of human life to mere sensual pleasure. Since, too, every man is sufficient to himself, all external goods were rejected as not being true sources of pleasure, and therefore all the domestic and benevolent affec­ tions. Hence the sage ought to regard nothing but himself; action is quite indifferent; and if ac­tion, so also is life, which, therefore, is in no way more desirable than death. This statement is, however, less strong than that of Cicero (Tusc. i. 34), who tells us that Hegesias wrote a book called Death by Starvation, in which a man who has resolved to starve himself is introduced as representing to his friends that death is actually more to be desired than life, and that the gloomy descriptions of human misery which this work contained were so overpowering, that they drove many persons to commit suicide, in consequence of which the author received the surname of Peisithanatos, “Death Persuader”. This book was pub­lished at Alexandria, where he was, in consequence, forbidden to teach by king Ptolemy. The date of Hegesias is unknown, though Ritter thinks that he was contemporaneous with Epicurus.

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
Edited by William Smith
In Three Volumes Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1867

Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 1.34.83-84

If, then, our inquiry is after truth, death withdraws us from evil, not from good. This subject is indeed so copiously handled by Hegesias, the Cyrenaic philosopher, that he is said to have been forbidden by Ptolemy from delivering his lectures in the schools, because some who heard him made away with themselves. There is, too, an epigram of Callimachus on Cleombrotus of Ambracia, who, without any misfortune having befallen him, as he says, threw himself from a wall into the sea, after he had read a book of Plato’s. The book I mentioned of that Hegesias is called “A Man who starves himself,” in which a man is represented as killing himself by starvation, till he is prevented by his friends, in reply to whom he reckons up all the miseries of human life. I might do the same, though not so fully as he, who thinks it not worth any man’s while to live. I pass over others. Was it even worth my while to live, for, had I died before I was deprived of the comforts of my own family, and of the honors which I received for my public services, would not death have taken me from the evils of life rather than from its blessings?

Source: Cicero, Tusculan Disputations
Translated by C. D. Yonge
New York: Harper & Brothers, 1877

Diogenes Laertius, Life of Aristippus 2.93-96

The school of Hegesias, as it is called, adopted the same ends, namely pleasure and pain. In their view there is no such thing as gratitude or friendship or beneficence, because it is not for themselves that we choose to do these things but simply from motives of interest, apart from which such conduct is nowhere found. They denied the possibility of happiness, for the body is infected with much suffering, while the soul shares in the sufferings of the body and is a prey to disturbance, and fortune often disappoints. From all this it follows that happiness cannot be realized. Moreover, life and death are each desirable in turn. But that there is anything naturally pleasant or unpleasant they deny; when some men are pleased and others pained by the same objects, this is owing to the lack or rarity or surfeit of such objects. Poverty and riches have no relevance to pleasure; for neither the rich nor the poor as such have any special share in pleasure. Slavery and freedom, nobility and low birth, honour and dishonour, are alike indifferent in a calculation of pleasure. To the fool life is advantageous, while to the wise it is a matter of indifference. The wise man will be guided in all he does by his own interests, for there is none other whom he regards as equally deserving. For supposing him to reap the greatest advantages from another, they would not be equal to what he contributes himself. They also disallow the claims of the senses, because they do not lead to accurate knowledge. Whatever appears rational should be done. They affirmed that allowance should be made for errors, for no man errs voluntarily, but under constraint of some suffering; that we should not hate men, but rather teach them better. The wise man will not have so much advantage over others in the choice of goods as in the avoidance of evils, making it his end to live without pain of body or mind. This then, they say, is the advantage accruing to those who make no distinction between any of the objects which produce pleasure.

Source: Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers
Issues 184-185 of Loeb Classical Library
Translated by Robert Drew Hicks
Harvard University Press, 1925

Plutarch, On Natural Affection for Offspring 5

But this natural affection, like many other good qualities in men, may be choked and obscured by vices; as when a wild forest is sown with garden-seeds. Can we say that man loves not himself, because some hang themselves, others break their own necks, Oedipus put out his own eyes, and Hegesias, by his disputation, persuaded many of his auditors to pine themselves to death?

Source: Plutarch's Morals. Translated from the Greek by Several Hands.
Corrected and Revised by William W. Goodwin, with an Introduction by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
5 Volumes. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1878).

Anniceris and His School

Anniceris: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology

Anniceris, a Cyrenaic philoso­pher, of whom the ancients have left us very vague and contradictory accounts. He is said to have ransomed Plato for 20 minae from Dionysius of Syracuse (Diog. Laert. ii. 86); but we read, on the other hand, that he was a disciple of Paraebates, whose succession from Aristippus in the order of discipleship was as follows :—Aristip­pus, Arete, Aristippus the younger, Antipater, Epitimedes, Paraebates. Plato, however, was con­temporary with the first Aristippus, and therefore one of the above accounts of Anniceris must be false. Hence Menage on Laertius (/. c.) and Kuster on Suidas (s. v.} have supposed that there were two philosophers of the name of Anniceris, the one contemporary with Plato, the other with Alexander the Great. If so, the latter is the one of whose system some notices have reached us, and who forms a link between the Cyrenaic and Epicurean schools. He was opposed to Epicurus in two points: (1) he denied that pleasure was merely the absence of pain, for if so death would be a pleasure; and (2) he attributed to every separate act a distinct object, maintaining that there was no general end of human life. In both these statements he reasserted the principle oi Aristippus. But he differed from Aristippus, inas­much as he allowed that friendship, patriotism, and similar virtues, were good in themselves; say­ing that the wise man will derive pleasure from such qualities, even though they cause him occa­sional trouble, and that a friend should be choser not only for our own need, but for kindness and natural affection. Again he denied that reason alone can secure us from error, maintaining that habit was also necessary.

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
Edited by William Smith
In Three Volumes Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1867

Suda, Alpha 2466

Anniceris: A Cyrenean, a philosopher, who became an Epicurean despite being an acquaintance of Paraebatus, the student of Aristippus. Anniceris also had a brother by the name of Nicoteles, [sc. also] a philosopher, and his student [was the] famous Posidonius. The sect called Annicerean [sc. originates] from him. He lived at the time of Alexander [sc. the Great].

Source: Suda On Line and the Stoa Consortium

Suda, Pi 1707

Plato: A certain Libyan named Anniceris bought him [Plato] and released him.

Source: Suda On Line and the Stoa Consortium

Strabo, Geography 17.3

Remarkable persons of Cyrene were Aristippus, the Socratic philosopher, who established the Cyrenaïc philosophy, and his daughter named Arete, who succeeded to his school; she again was succeeded by her son Aristippus, who was called Metrodidactos, (mother-taught,) and Anniceris, who is supposed to have reformed the Cyrenaic sect, and to have introduced in its stead the Anniceric sect.

Source: Strabo, Geography
H.C. Hamilton, Esq., W. Falconer, M.A., Ed.

Diogenes Laertius, Life of Aristippus 2.96-97

96-97. The school of Anniceris in other respects agreed with them, but admitted that friendship and gratitude and respect for parents do exist in real life, and that a good man will sometimes act out of patriotic motives. Hence, if the wise man receive annoyance, he will be none the less happy even if few pleasures accrue to him. The happiness of a friend is not in itself desirable, for it is not felt by his neighbour. Instruction is not sufficient in itself to inspire us with confidence and to make us rise superior to the opinion of the multitude. Habits must be formed because of the bad disposition which has grown up in us from the first. A friend should be cherished not merely for his utility – for, if that fails, we should then no longer associate with him – but for the good feeling for the sake of which we shall even endure hardships. Nay, though we make pleasure the end and are annoyed when deprived of it, we shall nevertheless cheerfully endure this because of our love to our friend.

Source: Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers
Issues 184-185 of Loeb Classical Library
Translated by Robert Drew Hicks
Harvard University Press, 1925

Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 2.21

Diotimus declared the end to be perfection of what is good, which he said was termed well-being. Again, Antisthenes, that it was humility. And those called Annicereans, of the Cyrenaic succession, laid down no definite end for the whole of life; but said that to each action belonged, as its proper end, the pleasure accruing from the action. These Cyrenaics reject Epicurus' definition of pleasure, that is the removal of pain, calling that the condition of a dead man; because we rejoice not only on account of pleasures, but companionships and distinctions; while Epicurus thinks that all joy of the soul arises from previous sensations of the flesh.

Source: Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2.
Translated by William Wilson
Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe
Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885

Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 4.38

For it is the mind which is entertained by what we see; but the mind may be entertained in many ways, even though we could not see at all. I am speaking of a learned and a wise man, with whom to think is to live. But thinking in the case of a wise man does not altogether require the use of his eyes in his investigations; for if night does not strip him of his happiness, why should blindness, which resembles night, have that effect? For the reply of Antipater the Cyrenaic to some women who bewailed his being blind, though it is a little too obscene, is not without its significance. “What do you mean?” saith he; “do you think the night can furnish no pleasure?”

Source: Cicero, Tusculan Disputations
Translated by C. D. Yonge
New York: Harper & Brothers, 1877

Theodoros the Atheist

Theodorus the Atheist: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology

Theodorus, a philosopher of the Cyrenaic school, to one branch of which he gave the name of “Theodorians”. He is usually designated by ancient writers atheus, the Atheist, a name for which that of theus was afterwards substituted. He was apparently a native of Cyrene (comp. Diog. Laert. ii. 103), and was a disciple of the younger Aristippus (ib. ii. 86), who was grandson of the elder (Suidas, s. v. Aristippus) and more celebrated Aristippus, by his daughter Arete. Theodore belonged to the age of Alexander and his successors, a circum­stance which, as well as the opposite character of his opinions, distinguishes him from the subject of the preceding notice. He heard the lectures of a number of philosophers beside Aristippus; as Anniceris, and Dionysius the dialec­tician (Laert. ii. 98), Zeno of Citium, Bryson, and Pyrrhon; but not Crates, as Fabricius (Bibl. Graec. vol. iii. p. 189) has from a hasty and inaccurate interpretation of a passage in Diogenes Laertius (iv. 23) erroneously stated. Nor could he have been, as Suidas states (s. v. ^,(aKpd,Tfjs^ a hearer of Socrates. He was banished from Cyrene, but on what occasion is not stated (Laert. ii. 103) ; and it is from the saying re­corded of him on this occasion, ” Ye men of Cy­rene, ye do ill in banishing me from Cyrene to Greece ” (ib.), as well as from his being a disciple of Aristippus, that we infer that he was a native of Cyrene. Of his subsequent history we have no connected account; but unconnected anecdotes of him show that he was at Athens, where he narrowly escaped being cited before the court of Areiopagus. The influence, however, of Demetrius Phalereus shielded him (ib. ii. 101) ; and this inci­dent may therefore probably be placed during Deme­trius' ten years' administration at Athens, b.c. 317 —307. As Theo­dore was banished from Athens, and was after­wards in the service of Ptolemy son of Lagus, first king of the Macedonian dynasty in Egypt, it is not unlikely that he shared the overthrow and exile of Demetrius. The account of Amphicrates cited by Laertius (ii. 101), that he was condemned to drink hemlock and so died, is doubtless an error. While in the service of Ptolemy, Theodore was sent on an embassy to Lysimachus, whom he offended by the freedom of his remarks. One answer which he made to a threat of crucifixion which Lysimachus had used, has been celebrated by many ancient writers: —” Employ such threats to those cour­tiers of yours; for it matters not to Theodore whether he rots on the ground or in the air.” From the court or camp of Lysimachus he returned apparently to that of Ptolemy (Diog. Laert. ii. 102). We read also of his going to Corinth with a number of his disciples (ibid.): but this was perhaps only a transient visit during his residence at Athens. He returned at length to Cyrene, and lived there, says Diogenes Laertius (ii. 103), with Marius. This Roman name is very questionable ; and Grantmesnil (apud Menag. Obs. in Diog. Laert. I. c.} not improbably conjectures that we should read Magas, who was stepson of Ptolemy the son of Lagus, and ruled over Cyrene for fifty years (from b.c. 308 to b.c. 258), either as viceroy or king. The account of Laertius leads to the in­ference that Theodore ended his days at Cyrene. Athenaeus (xiii. p. 611, a) states that he died a violent death, but this is probably only a repetition of the erroneous statement of Amphicrates already noticed. Various characteristic anecdotes of Theo­dore are preserved by the ancients, from which he appears to have been a man of keen and ready wit, unrestrained either by fear or a sense of decency.

It has been already noticed that Theodore was the founder of that branch of the Cyrenaic sect which was called after him ” Theodorei“, ” Theodoreans.“ The general character­istics of the Cyrenaic philosophy are described elsewhere. The opinions of Theo­dore, as we gather them from the perplexed state­ment of Diogenes Laertius (ii. 98, foil.) partook of the lax character of the Cyrenaic school. He taught that the great end of human life is to obtain joy and avoid grief, the one the fruit of prudence, the other of folly ; that prudence and justice are good, their opposites evil; that pleasure and pain are indifferent. He made light of friendship and patriotism, and affirmed that the world was his country. He taught that there was nothing really disgraceful in theft, adultery, or sacrilege ; but that they were branded only by public opinion, which had been formed in order to restrain fools. But the great charge against him was atheism. He did away with all opinions respecting the Gods,” says Laertius (ib.), but some critics doubt whether he was absolutely an atheist, or simply denied the existence of the deities of popular belief. The charge of atheism is sustained by the popular de­signation of Theodoras “ Atheus,” by the au­thority of Cicero (de Nat. Deor. i. 1), Laertius (/. c.), Plutarch (De Placit. Philos. i. 7), Sextus Empiricus (Pyrrhon. Hypotyp. lib. iii.), and some of the Christian Fathers; while some other au­thorities speak of him as only re­jecting the popular theology. Theodore wrote a book “Concerning God”, De Diis which Laertius who had seen it, says (ii. 97) was not to be contemned ; and he adds that it was said to have been the source of many of the statements or arguments of Epicurus. According to Suidas he wrote many works both on the doc­trines of his sect and on other subjects.

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
Edited by William Smith
In Three Volumes Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1867

Diogenes Laertius, Life of Aristippus 2.97-104

97-104. The Theodoreans derived their name from Theodorus, who has already been mentioned, and adopted his doctrines. Theodorus was a man who utterly rejected the current belief in the gods. And I have come across a book of his entitled Of the Gods which is not contemptible. From that book, they say, Epicurus borrowed most of what he wrote on the subject.

Theodorus was also a pupil of Anniceris and of Dionysius the dialectician, as Antisthenes mentions in his Successions of Philosophers. He considered joy and grief to be the supreme good and evil, the one brought about by wisdom, the other by folly. Wisdom and justice he called goods, and their opposites evils, pleasure and pain being intermediate to good and evil. Friendship he rejected because it did not exist between the unwise nor between the wise; with the former, when the want is removed, the friendship disappears, whereas the wise are self-sufficient and have no need of friends. It was reasonable, as he thought, for the good man not to risk his life in the defence of his country, for he would never throw wisdom away to benefit the unwise.

He said the world was his country. Theft, adultery, and sacrilege would be allowable upon occasion, since none of these acts is by nature base, if once you have removed the prejudice against them, which is kept up in order to hold the foolish multitude together. The wise man would indulge his passions openly without the least regard to circumstances. Hence he would use such arguments as this. “Is a woman who is skilled in grammar useful in so far as she is skilled in grammar?” “Yes.” “And is a boy or a youth skilled in grammar useful in so far as he is skilled in grammar?” “Yes.”

“Again, is a woman who is beautiful useful in so far as she is beautiful? And the use of beauty is to be enjoyed?” “Yes.” When this was admitted, he would press the argument to the conclusion, namely, that he who uses anything for the purpose for which it is useful does no wrong. And by some such interrogatories he would carry his point.

He appears to have been called Theos (god) in consequence of the following argument addressed to him by Stilpo. “Are you, Theodorus, what you declare yourself to be?” To this he assented, and Stilpo continued, “And do you say you are god?” To this he agreed. “Then it follows that you are god.” Theodorus accepted this, and Stilpo said with a smile, “But, you rascal, at this rate you would allow yourself to be a jackdaw and ten thousand other things.”

However, Theodorus, sitting on one occasion beside Euryclides, the hierophant, began, “Tell me, Euryclides, who they are who violate the mysteries?” Euryclides replied, “Those who disclose them to the uninitiated.” “Then you violate them,” said Theodorus, “when you explain them to the uninitiated.” Yet he would hardly have escaped from being brought before the Areopagus if Demetrius of Phalerum had not rescued him. And Amphicrates in his book Upon Illustrious Men says he was condemned to drink the hemlock.

For a while he stayed at the court of Ptolemy the son of Lagus, and was once sent by him as ambassador to Lysimachus. And on this occasion his language was so bold that Lysimachus said, “Tell me, are you not the Theodorus who was banished from Athens?” To which he replied, “Your information is correct, for, when Athens could not bear me any more than Semele could Dionysus, she cast me out.” And upon Lysimachus adding, “Take care you do not come here again,” “I never will,” said he, “unless Ptolemy sends me.” Mithras, the king's minister, standing by and saying, “It seems that you can ignore not only gods but kings as well,” Theodorus replied, “How can you say that I ignore the gods when I regard you as hateful to the gods?” He is said on one occasion in Corinth to have walked abroad with a numerous train of pupils, and Metrocles the Cynic, who was washing chervil, remarked, “You, sophist that you are, would not have wanted all these pupils if you had washed vegetables.” Thereupon Theodorus retorted, “And you, if you had known how to associate with men, would have had no use for these vegetables.”

A similar anecdote is told of Diogenes and Aristippus, as mentioned above.Such was the character of Theodorus and his surroundings. At last he retired to Cyrene, where he lived with Magas and continued to be held in high honour. The first time that he was expelled from Cyrene he is credited with a witty remark: “Many thanks, men of Cyrene,” said he, “for driving me from Libya into Greece.” Some twenty persons have borne the name of Theodorus: (1) a Samian, the son of Rhoecus. He it was who advised laying charcoal embers under the foundations of the temple in Ephesus; for, as the ground was very damp, the ashes, being free from woody fibre, would retain a solidity which is actually proof against moisture. (2) A Cyrenaean geometer, whose lectures Plato attended. (3) The philosopher above referred to. (4) The author of a fine work on practising the voice. 104. (5) An authority upon musical composers from Terpander onwards. (6) A Stoic. (7) A writer upon the Romans. (8) A Syracusan who wrote upon Tactics. (9) A Byzantine, famous for his political speeches. (10) Another, equally famous, mentioned by Aristotle in his Epitome of Orators. (11) A Theban sculptor. (12) A painter, mentioned by Polemo. (13) An Athenian painter, of whom Menodotus writes. (14) An Ephesian painter, who is mentioned by Theophanes in his work upon painting. (15) A poet who wrote epigrams. (16) A writer on poets. (17) A physician, pupil of Athenaeus. (18) A Stoic philosopher of Chios. (19) A Milesian, also a Stoic philosopher (20) A tragic poet.

Source: Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers
Issues 184-185 of Loeb Classical Library
Translated by Robert Drew Hicks
Harvard University Press, 1925

Philo, That Every Good Man Shall Be Free 127-130

(127) It is said that Theodorus, who was surnamed the Atheist, when he was banished from Athens, and had come to the court of Lysimachus, when one of those in power there reproached him with his banishment, mentioning the cause of it too, namely, that he had been expelled because he had been condemned for atheism and for corrupting the youth, replied, “I have not been banished, but the same thing has befallen me which befell Hercules, the son of Jupiter; (128) for he also was put ashore by the Argonauts, without having done anything wrong, but only because as he himself was both crew and ballast enough for a vessel, so that he burdened the ship, and caused fear to his fellow voyagers lest the vessel should become water-logged; and I too have been driven from my country because the bulk of the citizens at Athens were unable to keep pace with the loftiness and greatness of my mind, and therefore I was envied by them.” (129) And when, after this reply, Lysimachus asked him, “Were you also banished from your native land through envy?” he replied a second time, “Not indeed through envy, but because of the exceedingly high qualities of my nature, which my country could not contain; (130) for as when Semele, at the time that she was pregnant with Bacchus, was unable to bear her offspring until the appointed time for her delivery, Jupiter pitied her, and saved from the flames the offspring which she bore in her womb, being as yet imperfect, and granted it equal honours with the heavenly deities, so also some deity, or some god, has made me leave my country by reason of its being too narrow to contain the ample burden of a philosophic mind, and decided on transporting me to a place more fortunate than Athens, and settling me there.”

Source: The Works of Philo Judaeus
The contemporary of Josephus, translated from the Greek
By Charles Duke Yonge
London, H. G. Bohn, 1854-1890.

Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 1.43

What, then, have we not reason to admire Theodorus the Cyrenean, a philosopher of no small distinction, who, when Lysimachus threatened to crucify him, bade him keep those menaces for his courtiers? “To Theodorus it makes no difference whether he rot in the air or underground.”

Source: Cicero, Tusculan Disputations
Translated by C. D. Yonge
New York: Harper & Brothers, 1877

Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 5.40

Theodorus said to Lysimachus, who threatened him with death, “It is a great matter, indeed, for you to have acquired the power of a Spanish fly!”

Source: Cicero, Tusculan Disputations
Translated by C. D. Yonge
New York: Harper & Brothers, 1877

Seneca, On Tranquillity of the Mind 14.3

A tyrant was threatening the philosopher Theodorus with death and even with lack of burial: “You have the right,” he replied, “to please yourself, you have within your power only a half pint of my blood; for as to burial, you are a fool if you think it makes any difference to me whether I rot above ground or beneath it.”

Source: Lucius Annasus Seneca
Moral Essays. Translated by John W. Basore
The Loeb Classical Library
London: W. Heinemann,1928-1935
3 vols.: Volume II.

Plutarch, On Exile 16, 606b

But the last and greatest absurdity is that banishment should deprive the exile of free speech: it is astonishing if Theodorus was without free speech, the man who, when King Lysimachus said to him: “Did your country cast out a man of your qualities?” replied: “Yes I was too much for it, as Dionysus was for Semelê.” And when the king showed him Telesphorus in a cage, his eyes gouged out, and said: “To this plight I bring those who injure me,” Theodorus replied: “What cares Theodorus whether he rots above the ground or under it?”

Source: On Exile by Plutarch
Published in Vol. VII
Loeb Classical Library edition, 1959

Plutarch, Life of Phocion

This son of his, we are told, was in general of an indifferent character, and once when enamoured of a slave girl kept by a common harlot merchant, happened to hear Theodorus, the atheist, arguing in the Lyceum, that if it were a good and honourable thing to buy the freedom of a friend in the masculine, why not also of a friend in the feminine, if, for example, a master, why not also a mistress? So putting the good argument and his passion together, he went off and purchased the girl's freedom.

Source: Plutarch’s Lives
The Translation called Dryden’s
Corrected from the Greek and Revised by A.H. Clough, in 5 volumes

Dionysius the Renegade

Diogenes Laertius, Life of Dionysius 7.166-167

Dionysius, the Renegade, declared that pleasure was the end of action; this under the trying circumstance of an attack of ophthalmia. For so violent was his suffering that he could not bring himself to call pain a thing indifferent.

He was the son of Theophantus and a native of Heraclea. At first, as Diocles relates, he was a pupil of his fellow-townsman, Heraclides, next of Alexinus and Menedemus, and lastly of Zeno.

At the outset of his career he was fond of literature and tried his hand at all kinds of poetry; afterwards he took Aratus for his model, whom he strove to imitate. When he fell away from Zeno, he went over to the Cyrenaics, and used to frequent houses of ill fame and indulge in all other excesses without disguise. After living till he was nearly eighty years of age, he committed suicide by starving himself.

The following works are attributed to him:
Of Apathy, two books
On Training, two books.
Of Pleasure, four books.
Of Wealth, Popularity and Revenge
How to live amongst Men.
Of Prosperity.
Of Ancient Kings.
Of those who are Praised.
Of the Customs of Barbarians.

These three, then, are the heterodox Stoics. The legitimate successor to Zeno, however, was Cleanthes: of whom we have now to speak.

Source: Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers
Issues 184-185 of Loeb Classical Library
Translated by Robert Drew Hicks
Harvard University Press, 1925


In the ancient skeptic philosophical tradition of Theodorus of Cyrene and the Cyrenaics, Euhemerus forged a new method of interpretation for the contemporary religious beliefs. Though his work is lost, the reputation of Euhemerus was that he believed that much of Greek mythology could be interpreted as natural or historical events subsequently given supernatural characteristics through retelling. Subsequently Euhemerus was considered to be an atheist by his opponents, most notably Callimachus. - via Wikipedia Euhemerus

Euhemerus: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology

Euhemerus. A Greek writer, who flou­rished about 300 b.c. Under the title of Hera Anagraphe, or Sacred History, he wrote a work which purported to explain the whole mythology, on the theory of the apotheosis of men who by their bravery and cleverness had deserved well of mankind. Zeus, for instance, his kinsfolk and children, he represented as in reality an ancient family of Cretan kings. To prove his assertion he appealed to a representation of the whole primitive history of the world, from the time of Uranus onwards, given on a golden pillar in the temple of Zeus on the island of Panchaea. This, he said, he had dis­covered in the neighbourhood of India, when sailing round the coast of Arabia on the commission of king Cassander. The work of Euhemerus, of which only fragments now remain, was well known in Rome, where it was translated and adapted by Ennius. The method of rationalizing or analysing mytho­logy into the history of human kings, heroes and adventurers, is called Euhemerism, after its founder.

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
Edited by William Smith
In Three Volumes Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1867

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5.41-46

41. But now that we have described the lands which lie to the west and those which extend toward the north, and also the islands in the ocean, we shall in turn discuss the islands in the ocean to the south which lie off that portion of Arabia which extends to the east and borders upon the country known as Cedrosia. Arabia contains many villages and notable cities, which in some cases are situated upon great mounds and in other instances are built upon hillocks or in plains; and the largest cities have royal residences of costly construction, possessing a multitude of inhabitants and ample estates. And the entire land of the Arabians abounds with domestic animals of every description, and it bears fruits as well and provides no lack of pasturage for the fatted animals; and many rivers flow through the land and irrigate a great portion of it, thus contributing to the full maturing of the fruits. Consequently that part of Arabia which holds the chief place for its fertility has received a name appropriate to it, being called Arabia the Blest.

On the farthest bounds of Arabia the Blest, where the ocean washes it, there lie opposite it a number of islands, of which there are three which merit a mention in history, one of them bearing the name Hiera or Sacred, on which it is not allowed to bury the dead, and another lying near it, seven stades distant, to which they take the bodies of the dead whom they see fit to inter. Now Hiera has no share in any other fruit, but it produces frankincense in such abundance as to suffice for the honours paid to the gods throughout the entire inhabited world; and it possesses also an exceptional quantity of myrrh and every variety of all the other kinds of incense of highly fragrant odour. The nature of frankincense and the preparing of it is like this: In size it is a small tree, and in appearance it resembles the white Egyptian Acacia, its leaves are like those of the willow, as it is called, the bloom it bears is in colour like gold, and the frankincense which comes from it oozes forth in drops like tears. But the myrrh-tree is like the mastich-tree, although its leaves are more slender and grow thicker. It oozes myrrh when the earth is dug away from the roots, and if it is planted in fertile soil this takes place twice a year, in spring and in summer; the myrrh of the spring is red, because of the dew, but that of the summer is white. They also gather the fruit of the Christ's thorn, which they use both for meat and for drink and as a drug for the cure of dysentery.

42. The land of Hiera is divided among its inhabitants, and the king takes for himself the best land and likewise a tithe of the fruits which the island produces. The width of the island is reputed to be about two hundred stades. And the inhabitants of the island are known as Panchaeans, and these men take the frankincense and myrrh across to the mainland and sell it to Arab merchants, from whom others in turn purchase wares of this kind and convey them to Phoenician and Coelesyria and Egypt, and in the end merchants convey them from these countries throughout all the inhabited world. And there is yet another large island, thirty stades distant from the one we have mentioned, lying out in the ocean to the east and many stades in length; for men say that from its promontory which extends toward the east one can descry India, misty because of its great distance.

As for Panchaea itself, the island possesses many things which are deserving to be recorded by history. It is inhabited by men who were sprung from the soil itself, called Panchaeans, and the foreigners there are Oceanites and Indians and Scythians and Cretans. There is also a notable city on the island, called Panara, which enjoys unusual felicity; its citizens are called “suppliants of Zeus Triphylius,” and they are the only inhabitants of the land of Panchaea who live under laws of their own making and have no king over them. Each year they elect three chief magistrates; these men have no authority over capital crimes, but render judgment in all any other matters; and the weightiest affairs they refer of their own accord to the priests.

Some sixty stades distant from the city of Panara is the temple of Zeus Triphylius, which lies out on a level plain and is especially admired for its antiquity, the costliness of its construction, and its favourable situation. 43. Thus, the plain lying around the temple is thickly covered with trees of every kind, not only such as bear fruit, but those also which possess the power of pleasing the eye; for the plain abounds with cypresses of enormous size and plane-trees and sweet-bay and myrtle, since the region is full of springs of water. Indeed, close to the sacred precinct there bursts forth from the earth a spring of sweet water of such size that it gives rise to a river on which boats may sail. And since the water is led off from the river to many parts of the plain and irrigates them, throughout the entire area of the plain there grow continuous forests of lofty trees, wherein a multitude of men pass their time in the summer season and a multitude of birds make their nests, birds of every kind and of various hues, which greatly delight the ear by their song; therein also is every kind of garden and many meadows with varied plants and flowers, so that there is a divine majesty in the prospect which makes the place appear worthy of the gods of the country. And there were palm trees there with mighty trunks, conspicuous for the fruits they bore, and many varieties of nut-bearing trees, which provide the natives of the place with the most abundant subsistence. And in addition to what we have mentioned, grape-vines were found there in great number and of every variety, which were trained to climb high and were variously intertwined so that they presented a pleasing sight and provided an enjoyment of the season without further ado.

44. The temple was a striking structure of white marble, two plethra in length and the width proportionate to the length; it was supported by large thick columns and decorated at intervals with reliefs of ingenious design; and there were also remarkable statues of the gods, exceptional in skill of execution and admired by men for their massiveness. Around about the temple the priests who served the gods had their dwellings, and the management of everything pertaining to the sacred precinct was in their hands. Leading from the temple an avenue had been constructed, four stades in length and a plethrum in width. On each side of the avenue are great bronze vessels which rest upon square bases, and at the end of the avenue the river we mentioned above has its sources, which pour forth in a turbulent stream. The water of the stream is exceedingly clear and sweet and the use of it is most conducive to the health of the body; and the river bears the name “Water of the Sun.” The entire spring is surrounded by an expensive stone quay, which extends along each side of it four stades, and no man except the priests may set foot upon the place up to the edge of the quay. The plain lying below the temple has been made sacred to the gods, for a distance of two hundred stades, and the revenues which are derived from it are used to support the sacrifices.

Beyond the above-mentioned plain there is a lofty mountain which has been made sacred to the gods and is called the “Throne of Uranus” and also “Triphylian Olympus.” For the myth relates that in ancient times, when Uranus was king of the inhabited earth, he took pleasure in tarrying in that place and in surveying from its lofty top both the heavens and the stars therein, and that at a later time it came to be called Triphylian Olympus because the men who dwelt about it were composed of three peoples; these, namely, were known as Panchaeans, Oceanites, and Doians, who were expelled at a later time by Ammon. For Ammon, men say, not only drove this nation into exile but also totally destroyed their cities, razing to the ground both Doia and Asterusia. And once a year, we are told, the priests hold a sacrifice in this mountain with great solemnity.

45. Beyond this mountain and throughout the rest of the land of Panchaeitis, the account continues, there is found a multitude of beasts of every description; for the land possesses many elephants and lions and leopards and gazelles and an unusual number of other wild animals which differ in their aspect and are of marvellous ferocity. This island also contains three notable cities, Hyracia, Dalis, and Oceanis. The whole country, moreover, is fruitful and possesses in particular a multitude of vines of every variety. The men are warlike and use chariots in battle after the ancient manner.

The entire body politic of the Panchaeans is divided into three castes: The first caste among them is that of the priests, to whom are assigned the artisans, the second consists of the farmers, and the third is that of the soldiers, to whom are added the herdsmen. The priests served as the leaders in all things, rendering the decisions in legal disputes and possessing the final authority in all other affairs which concerned the community; and the farmers, who are engaged in the tilling of the soil, bring the fruits into the common store, and the man among them who is thought to have practised the best farming receives a special reward when the fruits are portioned out, the priests deciding who had been first, who second, and so in order to the tenth, this being done in order to spur on the rest. In the same manner the herdsmen also turn both the sacrificial animals and all others into the treasury of the state with all precision, some by number and some by weight. For, speaking generally, there is not a thing except a home and a garden which a man may possess for his own, but all the products and the revenues are taken over by the priests, who portion out with justice to each man his share, and to the priests alone is given two-fold.

The clothing of the Panchaeans is soft, because the wool of the sheep of the land is distinguished above all other for its softness; and they wear ornaments of gold, not only the women but the men as well, with collars of twisted gold about their necks, bracelets on their wrists, and rings hanging from their ears after the manner of the Persians. The same kind of shoes are worn by both sexes, and they are worked in more varied colours than is usual.

46. The soldiers receive a pay which is apportioned to them and in return protect the land by means of forts and posts fixed at intervals; for there is one section of the country which is infested with robber bands, composed of bold and lawless men who lie in wait for the farmer and war upon them. And as for the priests, they far excel the rest in luxury and in every other refinement and elegance of their manner of life; so, for instance, their robes are of linen and exceptionally sheer and soft, and at times they wear garments woven of the softest wool; furthermore, their headdress is interwoven with gold, their footgear consists of sandals which are of varied colours and ingeniously worked, and they wear the same gold ornaments as do the women, with the exception of the earrings. The first duties of the priests concerned with the services paid to the gods and with the hymns and praises which are accorded them, and in them they recite in song the achievements of the gods one after another and the benefactions they have bestowed upon mankind. According to the myth which the priests give, the gods had their origin in Crete, and were led by Zeus to Panchaea at the time when he sojourned among men and was king of the inhabited earth. In proof of this they cite their language, pointing out that most of the things they have about them still retain their Cretan names; and they add that the kinship which they have with the Cretans and the kindly regard they feel toward them are traditions they received from their ancestors, since this report is ever handed down from one generation to another. And it has been their practice, in corroboration of these claims, to point to inscriptions which, they said, were made by Zeus during the time he still sojourned among men and founded the temple.

The land possesses rich mines of gold, silver, copper, tin, and iron, but none of these metals is allowed to be taken from the island; nor may the priests for any reason whatsoever set foot outside of the hallowed land, and if one of them does so, whoever meets him is authorized to slay him. There are many great dedications of gold and of silver which have been made to the gods, since time has amassed the multitude of such offerings. The doorways of the temple are objects of wonder in their construction, being worked in silver and gold and ivory and citrus-wood. And there is the couch of the god, which is six cubits long and four wide and is entirely of gold and skillfully constructed in every detail of its workmanship. Similar to it both in size and in costliness in general is the table of the god which stands near the couch. And on the centre of the couch stands a large gold stele which carries letters which the Egyptians call sacred,11 and the inscription recounts the deeds both of Uranus and of Zeus; and to them there were added by Hermes the deeds also of Artemis and of Apollo.

As regards the islands, then, which lie in the ocean opposite Arabia, we shall rest content with what has been said.

Source: Diodorus Siculus: The Library of History, Volume III. (Loeb Classical Library No. 340), 1939.

Diodorus Siculus, Epitome of Library of History 6.1

1. The foregoing is told by Diodorus in the Third Book of his history. And the same writer, in the sixth Book as well, confirms the same view regarding the gods, drawing from the writing of Euhemerus of Messenê, and using the following words:

“As regards the gods, then, men of ancient times have handed down to later generations two different conceptions: Certain of the gods, they say, are eternal and imperishable, such as the sun and moon and the other stars of the heavens, and the winds as well and whatever else possesses a nature similar to theirs; for of each of these the genesis and duration are from everlasting to everlasting. But the other gods, we are told, were terrestrial beings who attained to immortal honour and fame because of their benefactions to mankind, such as Heracles, Dionysus, Aristaeus, and the others who were like them. Regarding these terrestrial gods many and varying accounts have been handed down by the writers of history and mythology; of the historians, Euhemerus, who composed the Sacred History, has written a special treatise about them, while, of the writers of myths, Homer and Hesiod and Orpheus and the others of their kind have invented rather monstrous stories about the gods. But for our part, we shall endeavour to run over briefly the accounts which both groups of writers have given, aiming at due proportion in our exposition.

“Now Euhemerus, who was a friend of King Cassander and was required by him to perform certain affairs of state and to make great journeys abroad, says that he travelled southward as far as the ocean; for setting sail from Arabia the Blest he voyaged through the ocean for a considerable number of days and was carried to the shore of some islands in the sea, one of which bore the name of Panchaea. On this island he saw the Panchaeans who dwell there, who excel in piety and honour the gods with the most magnificent sacrifices and with remarkable votive offerings of silver and of gold. The island is sacred to the gods, and there are a number of other objects on it which are admired both for their antiquity and for the great skill of their workmanship, regarding which severally we have written in the preceding Books. There is also on the island, situated upon an exceedingly high hill, a sanctuary of Zeus Triphylius, which was established by him during the time when he was king of all the inhabited world and was still in the company of men. And in this temple there is a stele of gold on which is inscribed in summary, in the writing employed by the Panchaeans, the deeds of Uranus and Cronus and Zeus.

“Euhemerus goes on to say that Uranus was the first to be king, that he was an honourable man and beneficent, who was versed in the movement of the stars, and that he was also the first to honour the gods of the heavens with sacrifices, whence he was called Uranus or “Heaven.” There were born to him by his wife Hestia two sons, Titan and Cronus, and two daughters, Rhea and Demeter. Cronus became king after Uranus, and marrying Rhea he begat Zeus and Hera and Poseidon. And Zeus, on succeeding to the kingship, married Hera and Demeter and Themis, and by them he had children, the Curetes by the first named, Persephonê by the second, and Athena by the third. And going to Babylon he was entertained by Belus, and after that he went to the island of Panchaea, which lies in the ocean, and here he set up an altar to Uranus, the founder of his family. From there he passed through Syria and came to Casius, who was ruler of Syria at that time, and who gave his name to Mt. Casius. And coming to Cilicia he conquered in battle Cilix, the governor of the region, and he visited very many other nations, all of which paid honour to him and publicly proclaimed him a god.”

After recounting what I have given and more to the same effect about the gods, as if about mortal men, Diodorus goes on to say: “Now regarding Euhemerus, who composed the Sacred History, we shall rest content with what has been said, and shall endeavour to run over briefly the myths which the Greeks recount concerning the gods, as they are given by Hesiod and Homer and Orpheus.” Thereupon Diodorus goes on to add the myths as the poets give them.

Source: Diodorus Siculus: The Library of History, Volume III.
(Loeb Classical Library No. 340), 1939.

Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel 2.2

These the Greeks also are said to borrow. So Diodorus writes in the third volume of his histories: and in the sixth, the same author confirms the same theology from the writings of Euemerus the Messenian, speaking word for word as follows:

'With regard then to gods the men of old have handed down to their posterity two sets of notions. For some, say they, are eternal and imperishable, as the Sun and Moon and the other heavenly bodies, and besides these the winds, and the rest who partake of the like nature with them; for each of these has an eternal origin and eternal continuance. Other deities they say were of the earth; but, because of the benefits which they conferred on mankind, they have received immortal honour and glory, as Heracles, Dionysus, Aristaeus, and the others like them.

'Concerning the terrestrial gods many various tales have been handed down in the historical and mythological writers. Among the historians Euemerus, the author of the Sacred Record, has written a special history; and of the mythologists Homer, Hesiod, Orpheus, and such others as these, have invented very marvellous myths concerning the gods: and we shall endeavour to run over what both classes have recorded concisely and with a view to due proportion.

'Euemerus, then, was a friend of King Cassander and, having boon constrained for his sake to perform some important services for the king, and some long journeys, says that he was carried away southwards into the ocean; for, having started on his voyage from Arabia Felix, he sailed many days across the ocean, and landed on some oceanic islands, one of which is that called Panchaea, in which he saw the Panchaean inhabitants, who were eminent in piety, and honoured the gods with most magnificent sacrifices and notable offerings of silver and gold.

'The island also was sacred to the gods ; and there were many other things to be admired both for their antiquity, and for the ingenuity of their manufacture, the particulars concerning which we have recorded in the books preceding this.

'Also therein on a certain exceedingly high hill is a temple of Zeus Triphylius, erected by himself at the time when he reigned over the whole inhabited world, being still among men. In this temple there is a golden pillar, on which is inscribed in the Panchaean language a summary of the acts of Uranus, Kronos, and Zeus.

'After this he says that Uranus was the first king, a gentle and benevolent man, and learned in the motion of the stars, who also was the first to honour the celestial deities with sacrifices, on which account he was called Uranus.

'By his wife Ilestia he had sons Pan and Kronos, and daughters Rhea and Demeter: and after Uranus, Kronos became king and, having married Rhea, begat Zeus and Hera and Poseidon.' And Zeus, having succeeded to the kingdom of Kronos, married Hera and Demeter and Themis, of whom he begat children, of the first the Curetes, of the second Persephone, and of the third Athena.

'And when he had come to Babylon he was entertained as a guest by Belus: and afterwards on arriving at the island Panchaea, which lay by the ocean, he built an altar to his own grandfather Uranus: and thence he came through Syria to the sovereign of that time Casius, of whom mount Casius is named; and came into Cilicia and conquered in war Cilix the ruler of the country; and visited very many other nations and was honoured among all, and was proclaimed a god.'

After narrating these and similar tales concerning the gods as if they were mortal men, he further says:

'With regard to Euemerus who composed the Sacred Record, we will be satisfied with what has been said; but the legends of the Greeks concerning the gods we will try to run over briefly, following Hesiod and Homer and Orpheus.'

Then he appends in order the mythologies of the poets. Let it suffice us, however, to have made these extracts from the theology of the Greeks, to which it is reasonable to append an account of the initiatory rites in the inner shrines of the same deities, and of their secret mysteries, and to observe whether they bear any becoming mark of a theology that is truly divine, or arise from regions below out of long daemoniacal delusion, and are deserving of ridicule, or rather of shame, and yet more of pity for those who are still blinded. These matters are unveiled in plain terms by the admirable Clement, in his Exhortation to the Greeks, a man who had gone through experience of all, but had quickly emerged from the delusion as one who had been rescued from evil by the word of salvation and through the teaching of the Gospel. Listen, then, to a brief statement of these matters also.

Source: Eusebius of Caesarea: Praeparatio Evangelica (Preparation for the Gospel).
Tr. E.H. Gifford (1903)

Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods 1.62

Euhemerus, whom our Ennius translated, and followed more than other authors, has particularly advanced this doctrine, and treated of the deaths and burials of the Gods; can he, then, be said to have confirmed religion, or, rather, to have totally subverted it?

Source: Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods
Translated by C. D. Yonge
New York: Harper & Brothers, 1877

Polybius via Strabo Id. II.4.1-3

But Polybius says it is far better to believe the Messenian Euhemerus than Pytheas, for Euhemerus says that he sailed only to one country, Panchaia, but Pytheas says that he personally visited the whole northern coast of Europe as far as the ends of the world, a thing we would not even believe of Hermes himself if he told us so. Eratosthenes, however, he says, calls Euhemerus a Bergaean, but believes Pytheas whom not even Dicaearchus believed.

Source: The Histories,
Volume VI: Books 28-39. Fragments (Loeb Classical Library)

Lactantius, Divine Institutes 1.14

What the Sacred History of Euhemerus and Ennius Teaches Concerning the Gods.

Now, since the sacred history differs in some degree from those things which we have related, let us open those things which are contained in the true writings, that we may not, in accusing superstitions, appear to follow and approve of the follies of the poets. These are the words of Ennius: “Afterwards Saturn married Ops. Titan, who was older than Saturn, demands the kingdom for himself. Upon this their mother Vesta, and their sisters Ceres and Ops, advise Saturn not to give up the kingdom to his brother. Then Titan, who was inferior in person to Saturn, on that account, and because he saw that his mother and sisters were using their endeavours that Saturn might reign, yielded the kingdom to him. He therefore made an agreement with Saturn, that if any male children should be born to him, he would not bring them up. He did so for this purpose, that the kingdom might return to his own sons. Then, when a son was first born to Saturn, they slew him. Afterwards twins were born, Jupiter and Juno. Upon this they present Juno to the sight of Saturn, and secretly hide Jupiter, and give him to Vesta to be brought up, concealing him from Saturn. Ops also brings forth Neptune without the knowledge of Saturn, and secretly hides him. In the same manner Ops brings forth twins by a third birth, Pluto and Glauca. Pluto in Latin is Dispater; others call him Orcus. Upon this they show to Saturn the daughter Glauca, and conceal and hide the son Pluto. Then Glauca dies while yet young.” This is the lineage of Jupiter and his brothers, as these things are written, and the relationship is handed down to us after this manner from the sacred narrative. Also shortly afterwards he introduces these things: “Then Titan, when he learned that sons were born to Saturn, and secretly brought up, secretly takes with him his sons, who are called Titans, and seizes his brother Saturn and Ops, and encloses them within a wall, and places over them a guard.”

The truth of this history is taught by the Erythraean Sibyl, who speaks almost the same things, with a few discrepancies, which do not affect the subject-matter itself. Therefore Jupiter is freed from the charge of the greatest wickedness, according to which he is reported to have bound his father with fetters; for this was the deed of his uncle Titan, because he, contrary to his promise and oath, had brought up male children. The rest of the history is thus put together. It is said that Jupiter, when grown up, having heard that his father and mother had been surrounded with a guard and imprisoned, came with a great multitude of Cretans, and conquered Titan and his sons in an engagement, and rescued his parents from imprisonment, restored the kingdom to his father, and thus returned into Crete. Then, after these things, they say that an oracle was given to Saturn, bidding him to take heed lest his son should expel him from the kingdom; that he, for the sake of weakening the oracle and avoiding the danger, laid an ambush for Jupiter to kill him; that Jupiter, having learned the plot, claimed the kingdom for himself afresh, and banished Saturn; and that he, when he had been tossed over all lands, followed by armed men whom Jupiter had sent to seize or put him to death, scarcely found a place of concealment in Italy.

Source: Volume 7. Fathers of the 3rd and 4th Centuries including Lactantius

Augustine, City of God 6.7

Did they not bear witness to Euhemerus, who, not with the garrulity of a fable-teller, but with the gravity of an historian who had diligently investigated the matter, wrote that all such gods had been men and mortals?

Source: A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church
St. Augustine. City of God and Christian Doctrine.

Augustine, Sermon on the Mount

But was that Euhemerus also a poet, who declares both Jupiter himself, and his father Saturn, and Pluto and Neptune his brothers, to have been men, in terms so exceedingly plain that their worshippers ought all the more to render thanks to the poets, because their inventions have not been intended so much to disparage them as rather to dress them up? Albeit Cicero mentions that this same Euhemerus was translated into Latin by the poet Ennius.

Source: St. Augustin: Sermon on the Mount;
Harmony of the Gospels; Homilies on the Gospels by Philip Schaff

Cyrenaic Doctrines

Doctrines from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology

We shall now give a short view of the leading doctrines of the earlier Cyrenaic school in gene­ral, though it is not to be understood that the system was wholly or even chiefly drawn up by the elder Aristippus; but, as it is impossible from the loss of contemporary documents to separate the parts which belong to each of the Cyrenaic philosophers, it is better here to combine them all. From the fact pointed out by Hitter (Geschichte der Philosophic, vii. 3), that Aristotle chooses Eudoxus rather than Aristippus as the representative of the doctrine that Pleasure is the summum bonum (Eth. Nic. x. 2), it seems probable that but little of the Cyrenaic system is due to the founder of the school.

The Cyrenaics despised Physics, and limited their inquiries to Ethics, though they included under that term a much wider range of science than can fairly be reckoned as belonging to it. So, too, Aristotle accuses Aristippus of neglecting mathe­matics, as a study not concerned with good and evil, which, he said, are the objects even of the carpenter and tanner. (Metaphys. ii. 2.) They divided Philosophy into five parts, viz. the study of (1) Objects of Desire and Aversion, (2) Feel­ings and Affections, (3) Actions, (4) Causes, (5) Proofs. Of these (4) is clearly connected with physics, and (5) with logic.

1. The first of the five divisions of science is the only one in which the Cyrenaic view is con­nected with the Socratic. Socrates considered happiness (i. e. the enjoyment of a well-ordered mind) to be the aim of all men, and Aristippus, taking up this position, pronounced pleasure the chief good, and pain the chief evil; in proof of which he referred to the natural feelings of men, children, and animals; but he wished the mind to preserve its authority in the midst of pleasure. Desire he could not admit into his system, as it subjects men to hope and fear: the telos of hu­man life was momentary pleasure. For the Present only is ours, the Past is gone, and the Future uncertain ; present happiness therefore is to be sought, and not eudaimonia, which is only the sum of a number of happy states, just as he considered life in general the sum of particular states of the soul. In this point the Cyrenaics were opposed to the Epicureans. All pleasures were held equal, though they might ad­mit of a difference in the degree of their purity. So that a man ought never to covet more than he possesses, and should never allow himself to be overcome by sensual enjoyment. It is plain that, even with these concessions, the Cyrenaic system destroys all moral unity, by proposing to a man as many separate tele as his life contains moments.

2. The next point is to determine what is pleasure and what pain. Both are positive, i. e. plea­sure is not the gratification of a want, nor does the absence of pleasure equal pain. The absence of either is a mere negative inactive state, and both pleasure and pain are motions of the soul. Pain was deemed to be a violent, plea­sure a moderate motion,—the first being compared to the sea in a storm, the second to the sea under a light breeze, the intermediate state of no-pleasure and no-pain to a calm—a simile not quite apposite, since a calm is not the middle state between a storm and a gentle breeze. In this denial of pleasure as a state of rest, we find Aristippus again opposed to Epicurus.

3. Actions are in themselves, morally indifferent, the only question for us to consider being their result; and law and custom are the only authori­ties which make an action good or bad. This monstrous dogma was a little qualified by the statement, that the advantages of injustice are slight; but we cannot agree with Brucker (Hist. Grit. ii. 2), that it is not clear whether the Cyre­naics meant the law of nature or of men. Whatever conduces to pleasure, is virtue—a definition which of course includes bodily exercise; but they seem to have conceded to Socrates, that the mind has the great­est share in virtue. We are told that they pre­ferred bodily to mental pleasure; but this state­ment must be qualified, as they did not even confine their pleasures to selfish gratification, but admitted the welfare of the state as a legitimate source of happiness, and bodily pleasure itself they valued for the sake of the mental state resulting from it.

4. There is no universality in human concep­tions ; the senses are the only avenues of know­ledge, and even these admit a very limited range of information. For the Cyrenaics said, that men could agree neither in judgments nor notions, in nothing, in fact, but names. We have all certain sensations, which we call white or sweet; but whether the sensation which A calls white is similar to that which B calls by that name, we cannot tell; for by the common term white every man denotes a distinct object. Of the causes which produce these sensations we are quite igno­rant ; and from all this we come to the doctrine of modern philological metaphysics, that truth is what each man troweth. All states of mind are motions; nothing exists but states of mind, and they are not the same to all men. True wisdom consists therefore in transforming disagreeable into agreeable sensations.

5. As to the Cyrenaic doctrine of proofs, no evidence remains.

In many of these opinions we recognize the happy, careless, selfish disposition which charac­terized their author; and the system resembles in most points those of Heracleitus and Protagoras, as given in Plato's Theaetetus. The doctrines that a subject only knows objects through the prism of the impression which he receives, and that man is the measure of all things, are stated or implied in the Cyrenaic system, and lead at once to the consequence, that what we call reality is appearance; so that the whole fabric of human knowledge becomes a fantastic picture. The prin­ciple on which all this rests, viz. that knowledge is sensation, is the foundation of Locked modern ideology, though he did not perceive its connexion with the consequences to which it led the Cyre-naics. To revive these vvas reserved for Hume.

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
Edited by William Smith
In Three Volumes Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1867

Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 3.13

Do you, then, think that it can befall a wise man to be oppressed with grief, that is to say, with misery? for, as all perturbation is misery, grief is the rack itself. Lust is attended with heat, exulting joy with levity, fear with meanness, but grief with something greater than these; it consumes, torments, afflicts, and disgraces a man; it tears him, preys upon his mind, and utterly destroys him: if we do not so divest ourselves of it as to throw it completely off, we cannot be free from misery. And it is clear that there must be grief where anything has the appearance of a present sore and oppressing evil. Epicurus is of opinion that grief arises naturally from the imagination of any evil; so that whosoever is eye-witness of any great misfortune, if he conceives that the like may possibly befall himself, becomes sad instantly from such an idea. The Cyrenaics think that grief is not engendered by every kind of evil, but only by unexpected, unforeseen evil; and that circumstance is, indeed, of no small effect on the heightening of grief; for whatsoever comes of a sudden appears more formidable. Hence these lines are deservedly commended:

I knew my son, when first he drew his breath,
Destined by fate to an untimely death;
And when I sent him to defend the Greeks,
War was his business, not your sportive freaks.

Source: Cicero, Tusculan Disputations
Translated by C. D. Yonge
New York: Harper & Brothers, 1877

Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 3.22

What remains is the opinion of the Cyrenaics, who think that men grieve when anything happens unexpectedly. And that is indeed, as I said before, a great aggravation of a misfortune; and I know that it appeared so to Chrysippus—“Whatever falls out unexpected is so much the heavier.” But the whole question does not turn on this; though the sudden approach of an enemy sometimes occasions more confusion than it would if you had expected him, and a sudden storm at sea throws the sailors into a greater fright than one which they have foreseen; and it is the same in many other cases. But when you carefully consider the nature of what was expected, you will find nothing more than that all things which come on a sudden appear greater; and this upon two accounts: first of all, because you have not time to consider how great the accident is; and, secondly, because you are probably persuaded that you could have guarded against it had you foreseen if, and therefore the misfortune, having been seemingly encountered by your own fault, makes your grief the greater. That it is so, time evinces; which, as it advances, brings with it so much mitigation that though the same misfortunes continue, the grief not only becomes the less, but in some cases is entirely removed. Many Carthaginians were slaves at Rome, and many Macedonians, when Perseus their king was taken prisoner. I saw, too, when I was a young man, some Corinthians in the Peloponnesus. They might all have lamented with Andromache,

All these I saw……;

but they had perhaps given over lamenting themselves, for by their countenances, and speech, and other gestures you might have taken them for Argives or Sicyonians. And I myself was more concerned at the ruined walls of Corinth than the Corinthians themselves were, whose minds by frequent reflection and time had become callous to such sights. I have read a book of Clitomachus, which he sent to his fellow-citizens who were prisoners, to comfort them after the destruction of Carthage. There is in it a treatise written by Carneades, which, as Clitomachus says, he had inserted into his book; the subject was, “That it appeared probable that a wise man would grieve at the state of subjection of his country,” and all the arguments which Carneades used against this proposition are set down in the book. There the philosopher applies such a strong medicine to a fresh grief as would be quite unnecessary in one of any continuance; nor, if this very book had been sent to the captives some years after, would it have found any wounds to cure, but only scars; for grief, by a gentle progress and slow degrees, wears away imperceptibly. Not that the circumstances which gave rise to it are altered, or can be, but that custom teaches what reason should—that those things which before seemed to be of some consequence are of no such great importance, after all.

Source: Cicero, Tusculan Disputations
Translated by C. D. Yonge
New York: Harper & Brothers, 1877

Plutarch, Against Colotes

But he who has so often employed his pen against Socrates, Plato, and Parmenides, evidently demonstrates that it is through cowardice he dares not attack the living, and not for any modesty or reverence, of which he showed not the least sign to those who were far more excellent than these. But his meaning is, as I suspect, to assault the Cyrenaics first, and afterwards the Academics, who are followers of Arcesilaus. For it was these who doubted of all things; but those, placing the passions and imaginations in themselves, were of opinion that the belief proceeding from them is not sufficient for the assuring and affirming of things; but, as if it were in the siege of a town, abandoning what is without, they have shut themselves up in the passions, using only it seems, and not asserting it is, of things without. And therefore they cannot, as Colotes says of them, live or have the use of things. And then speaking comically of them, he adds: ‘These deny that there is a man, a horse, a wall; but say that they themselves (as it were) become walls, horses, men,’ or ‘are impressed with the images of walls, horses, or men.’ In which he first maliciously abuses the terms, as calumniators are usually wont to do. For though these things follow from the sayings of the Cyrenaics, yet he ought to have declared the fact as they themselves teach it. For they affirm that things then become sweet, bitter, lightsome, or dark, when each thing has in itself the natural unhindered efficacy of one of these impressions. But if honey is said to be sweet, an olive-branch bitter, hail cold, wine hot, and the nocturnal air dark, there are many beasts, things, and men that testify the contrary. For some have an aversion for honey, others feed on the branches of the olive-tree; some are scorched by hail, others cooled with wine; and there are some whose sight is dim in the sun but who see well by night. Wherefore opinion, containing itself within these impressions, remains safe and free from error; but when it goes forth and attempts to be curious in judging and pronouncing concerning exterior things, it often deceives itself, and opposes others, who from the same objects receive contrary impressions and different imaginations.

Source: Plutarch. Plutarch's Morals.
Translated from the Greek by several hands.
Corrected and revised by. William W. Goodwin, PH. D. Boston.
Little, Brown, and Company. Cambridge. Press Of John Wilson and son. 1874.

Plutarch, Table Talk

It is unpleasant to see a sick man, or one that is at his last gasp; yet with content we can look upon the picture of Philoctetes, or the statue of Jocasta, in whose face it is commonly said that the workmen mixed silver, so that the brass might represent the face and color of one ready to faint and yield up the ghost. And this, said I, the Cyrenaics may use as a strong argument against you Epicureans, that all the sense of pleasure which arises from the working of any object on the ear or eye is not in those organs, but in the intellect itself. Thus the continual cackling of a hen or cawing of a crow is very ungrateful and disturbing; yet he that imitates those noises well pleases the hearers. Thus to behold a consumptive man is no delightful spectacle; yet with pleasure we can view the pictures and statues of such persons, because the very imitating hath something in it very agreeable to the mind, which allures and captivates its faculties. For upon what account, for God's sake, from what external impression upon our organ, should men be moved to admire Parmeno's sow so much as to pass it into a proverb? Yet it is reported, that Parmeno being very famous for imitating the grunting of a pig, some endeavored to rival and outdo him. And when the hearers, being prejudiced, cried out, Very well indeed, but nothing comparable to Parmeno's sow; one took a pig under his arm and came upon the stage. And when, though they heard the very pig, they still continued, This is nothing comparable to Parmeno's sow; he threw his pig amongst them, to show that they judged according to opinion and not truth. And hence it is very evident, that like motions of the sense do not always raise like affections in the mind, when there is not an opinion that the thing done was not neatly and ingeniously performed.

Source: Plutarch. Plutarch's Morals.
Translated from the Greek by several hands.
Corrected and revised by. William W. Goodwin, PH. D. Boston.
Little, Brown, and Company. Cambridge. Press Of John Wilson and son. 1874.

Plutarch, It is Impossible to Live Pleasantly in the Manner of Epicurus

See now how much more temperate the Cyrenaics are, who, though they have drunk out of the same bottle with Epicurus, yet will not allow men so much as to practise their amours by candle-light, but only under the covert of the dark, for fear seeing should fasten too quick an impression of the images of such actions upon the fancy and thereby too frequently inflame the desire.

Source: Plutarch. Plutarch's Morals.
Translated from the Greek by several hands.
Corrected and revised by. William W. Goodwin, PH. D. Boston.
Little, Brown, and Company. Cambridge. Press Of John Wilson and son. 1874.

Cicero, On Ends, Book 1

7. He lays the very greatest stress upon that which, as he declares, Nature herself decrees and sanctions, that is the feelings of pleasure and pain. These he maintains lie at the root of every act of choice and of avoidance. This is the doctrine of Aristippus, and it is upheld more cogently and more frankly by the Cyrenaics; but nevertheless it is in my judgment a doctrine in the last degree unworthy of the dignity of man. Nature, in my own opinion at all events, has created and endowed us for higher ends.

Source: Cicero, De finibus bonorum et malorum, trans. H. Rackham
Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam, 1931)

11. Yet at Athens, so my father used to tell me when he wanted to air his wit at the expense of the Stoics, in the Ceramicus there is actually a statue of Chrysippus seated and holding out one hand, the gesture being intended to indicate the delight which he used to take in the following little syllogism: 'Does your hand want anything, while it is in its present condition?' Answer: 'No, nothing.' — 'But if pleasure were a good, it would want pleasure.' — 'Yes, I suppose it would.' — 'Therefore pleasure is not a good.' An argument, as my father declared, which not even a statue would employ, if a statue could speak; because though it is cogent enough as an objection to the Cyrenaics, it does not touch Epicurus.

Source: Cicero, De finibus bonorum et malorum, trans. H. Rackham
Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam, 1931)

This chapter appears to be an unintelligent transcript of a summary of the Epicurean answers to the following Cyrenaic criticisms: (1) pleasure is sometimes rejected, owing to mental perversion, (2) all pleasure is not bodily, (3) bodily pleasures are stronger than mental ones, (4) absence of pain is not pleasure, (5) memory and anticipation of pleasure are not real pleasures.

18. “The doctrine thus firmly established has corollaries which I will briefly expound. (1) The Ends of Goods and Evils themselves, that is, pleasure and pain, are not open to mistake; where people go wrong is in not knowing what things are productive of pleasure and pain. (2) Again, we aver that mental pleasures and pains arise out of bodily ones (and therefore I allow your contention that any Epicureans who think otherwise put themselves out of court; and I am aware that many do, though not those who can speak with authority); but although men do experience mental pleasure that is agreeable and mental pain that is annoying, yet both of these we assert arise out of and are based upon bodily sensations. (3) Yet we maintain that this does not preclude mental pleasures and pains from being much more intense than those of the body; since the body can feel only what is present to it at the moment, whereas the mind is also cognizant of the past and of the future. For granting that pain of body is equally painful, yet our sensation of pain can be enormously increased by the belief that some evil of unlimited magnitude and duration threatens to befall us hereafter. And the same consideration may be transferred to pleasure: a pleasure is greater if not accompanied by any appreciation of evil. This therefore clearly appears, that intense mental pleasure or distress contributes more to our happiness or misery than a bodily pleasure or pain of equal duration. (4) But we do not agree that when pleasure is withdrawn uneasiness at once ensues, unless the pleasure happens to have been replaced by a pain: while on the other hand one is glad to lose a pain even though no active sensation of pleasure comes in its place: a fact that serves to show how great a pleasure is the mere absence of pain. (5) But just as we are elated by the anticipation of good things, so we are delighted by their recollection. Fools are tormented by the memory of former evils; wise men have the delight of renewing in graceful remembrance the blessings of the past. We have the power both to obliterate our misfortunes in an almost perpetual forgetfulness and to summon up pleasant and agreeable memories of our successes. But when we fix our mental vision closely on the events of the past, then sorrow or gladness ensues according as these were evil or good.

Source: Cicero, De finibus bonorum et malorum, trans. H. Rackham
Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam, 1931)

Cicero, On Ends, Book 2

j39 “Guided by the authority of Reason I will now adopt a similar procedure myself. As far as possible I will narrow the issue, and will assume that all the simple theories, of those who include no admixture of virtue, are to be eliminated from philosophy altogether. First among these comes the system of Aristippus and the Cyrenaic school in general, who did not shrink from finding their Chief Good in pleasure of the sort that excites the highest amount of actively agreeable sensation, and who despised your freedom from pain. j40 They failed to see that just as the horse is designed by nature for running, the ox for ploughing, and the dog for hunting, so man, as Aristotle observes, is born for two purposes, thought and action: he is as it were a mortal God. The Cyrenaics held on the contrary that this godlike animal came into being, like some dull, half-witted sheep, in order to feed and to enjoy the pleasure of procreation, — a view that seems to me the climax of absurdity. j41 So much in answer to Aristippus, who considers pleasure in the only sense in which we all of us employ the term to be not merely the highest but the sole pleasure that exists. Your school holds a different view. However, as I said, Aristippus is wrong. Neither man's bodily conformation nor his surpassing mental faculty of reason indicates that he was born for the sole purpose of enjoying pleasure. Nor yet can we listen to Hieronymus, whose Chief Good is the same as is occasionally, or rather only too frequently, upheld by yourselves, freedom from pain. If pain is an evil, to be without this evil is not enough to constitute the Good Life. Let Ennius say if he like s that

Enough, and more, of good Is his who hath no ill;

but let us reckon happiness not by the avoidance of evil but by the attainment of good. Let us seek it not in the idle acceptance whether of positive delights, like Aristippus, or of freedom from pain, like Hieronymus, but in a life of action or of contemplation.

Source: Cicero, De finibus bonorum et malorum, trans. H. Rackham
Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam, 1931)

Cicero, On Ends, Book 3

Can anything be expedient, then, which is contrary to such a chorus of virtues? And yet the Cyrenaics, adherents of the school of Aristippus, and the philosophers who bear the name of Annicerians find all good to consist in pleasure and consider virtue praiseworthy only because it is productive of pleasure. Now that these schools are out of date, Epicurus has come into vogue — an advocate and supporter of practically the same doctrine. Against such a philosophy we must fight it out “with horse and foot,” as the saying is, if our purpose is to defend and maintain our standard of moral rectitude.

Source: Cicero, De finibus bonorum et malorum, trans. H. Rackham
Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam, 1931)

Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 7c

Aristoxenus, the Cyrenaic philosopher, practised literally the system of philosophy which arose in his country, and from him a kind of ham specially prepared is called Aristoxenus; in his excess of luxury he used to water the lettuce in his garden at evening with wine and honey, and taking them up in the morning used to say that they were blanched cakes produced by the earth for him.

Source: Athenaeus. Loeb Classical Library.
Harvard University Press, 1927 thru 1941.
Translation by Charles Burton Gulick.

Cyrenaic Genealogy

Genealogy or Succession of Cyrenaic Philosophers

Cyrenaic Resources (Secondary)

Greek Thinkers (Gomperz)

A History of Ancient Philosophy
By Theodor Gomperz, Professor Emeritus at the University of Vienna
Volume II
Translated by G. G. Berry, BA, Balliol College Oxford
Printed by William Clowes and Sons, Ltd: London and Beccles.

I. The torch which Socrates had kindled cast its rays not only over Eubcea or Elis: they penetrated to the furthest landmarks of the Greek world. Precisely at one such frontier point, situated on the coast of Africa, there grew up a branch school of Socratism, which flourished for several generations, and finally became extinct, only to rise again in the school of Epicurus, in which new form it was destined to divide for centuries with the Stoa the dominion over men's minds and hearts.

In the modern Vilayet of Barka, lately separated from Tripoli, to the east of the Great Syrtis, a number of Greeks had early settled, and, in course of time, founded five cities, of which Cyrene was the oldest, and enjoyed the highest consideration. Ancients and moderns agree in praising the superb site of this city, and the richness of the surrounding country. Sheltered on the south, by a chain of mountains, from the sand and the heat of the desert; situated 2000 feet above sea-level, on a terrace of the uplands which descend, staircase fashion, towards the sea; blessed with a wonderful climate, the equability of which reminds us of the Californian coast; built on the “gleaming bosom” (to use Pindar's picturesque phrase) of two mountain-domes, round about a spring which issues in a mighty gush from the limestone, Cyrene presented in the old days, and still presents to the traveller who visits its ruins, “the most bewitching landscape that can ever meet his eye” (Heinrich Earth). Down over the green hills and the deep-cut ravines, overgrown with broom and myrtle, with laurel and oleander, the eye is carried smoothly onward to the blue sea below, over which, in days gone by, immigrants sailed from the island of Thera, from the Peloponnese, and from the Cyclades, to this royal seat, made, one might almost say, for the express purpose of dominating the surrounding country and the Berber tribes that dwell there. The skill of the Greeks in hydraulic engineering and in road-making achieved great triumphs here. By the construction of galleries, of cuttings, and of embankments, the succession of terraces which formed the natural configuration of the ground was converted into a number of highways, which wound in serpentine curves from the seashore to the heights. The steep walls of rock at the side of the roads are pierced with openings, richly decorated by the architect and the painter. These are the entrances to countless sepulchral chambers a city of the dead, without parallel on earth. Every watercourse was tapped before it ran dry in its limestone bed, and the innumerable conduits thus supplied were used to irrigate fields and gardens. On the mountain slopes were pastured flocks of sheep whose wool was valued at the highest price; and in the rich grass of the meadows there gambolled noble horses accustomed to win prizes at the festival games of the motherland.

It must be admitted that for many years the pulse of intellectual life beat somewhat lazily in the far-off colony. Unending fights with natives, who had been but partially won over to Greek civilization; big wars with the great neighbouring power, Egypt, consumed the strength of the people. Again and again it became necessary to replenish the population by fresh drafts of immigrants. Intervals of rest between foreign wars were filled up by constitutional struggles, in which monarchy, here never for long subject to restraint, maintained its existence to a late period (the middle of the fifth century), when it had disappeared in nearly every other part of the Greek world. The only parallel to Barca and Cyrene in this respect was supplied by the island of Cyprus, which further resembled them in its peripheral position and its half-Greek population. The oldest form of poetry maintained its existence side by side with the oldest form of constitution to a later date than elsewhere. The Telegonia, the latest of the poems composing the so- called Epic Cycle, was written by Eugammon, in Cyrene, at a time (a little before the middle of the sixth century) when the epic was already out of date in Ionia and the mother- land, and had yielded place to the subjective forms of poetry. The Cyrenaic made no noteworthy contribution to the scientific and literary output of Greece until it had been united with Egypt, and had found peace under the sceptre of the Ptolemies. To this epoch belong some of the most famous of its sons the learned and refined court-poet Callimachus, the polymath Eratosthenes, the strongly critical thinker Carneades. But before that time the soil of Libyan Hellas had already received the seed of Socratism into its bosom, and had brought forth rich fruit of a kind all its own.

2. The apostle of the new doctrine was Aristippus. It is said that this son of Cyrene met with a disciple of Socrates at the Olympic festival, was deeply stirred by what he heard from him, and induced to go to Athens and attach himself to the Socratic circle. Of the further course of his life we know little, except that he gave instruction for pay (for which reason Aristotle calls him a sophist), and that, like Plato and Aeschines, he made a considerable stay at the Syracusan court. His literary activity is shrouded in almost impenetrable darkness. That several writings have been attributed to him erroneously, and others foisted upon him in the interests of particular doctrines, there seems to be no doubt. But as we find a younger contemporary of Aristippus, so competent a judge and so well-informed as Aristotle, acquainted not only with particular doctrines of his, but also with the arguments on which they rested, we cannot but suppose that they were committed to writing. Another contemporary, the historian Theopompus, accused Plato of having plagiarized from Aristippus. The charge was quite unfounded, but it could never have been made at all if the Cyrenaic had left absolutely no philosophical writings behind him. We, however, possess but a few lines of them, nor does any fragment remain of the history of Libya attributed to him. Lost, too, are a couple of dialogues, entitled “Aristippus,” in which the Megarian Stitpo and Plato's nephew Speusippus are introduced discussing his doctrines. Yet we are not without some knowledge of his personality, a sharply outlined sketch of which was preserved by the ancient world. Aristippus possessed the mastery of a virtuoso over the art of life and the art of dealing with men. He joins hands with the Cynics in their endeavour to be equal to all vicissitudes of fate; but he has less faith than they in renunciation, and in the necessity of seeking salvation by flight from the difficulties and dangers of life. The man who makes himself master of a horse or of a ship, so he is reported to have said, is not the man who declines its use, but the one who knows how to guide it in the right direction. A similar attitude seemed to him to be the right one to adopt towards pleasure. His well-known saying, “I possess, but am not possessed,” is reported, rightly or wrongly, as having been originally uttered with reference to the celebrated courtesan Lais ; but its application was much wider than that. “To be master of things, not mastered by them,” is the expression by which Horace characterizes the life-ideal of Aristippus. “Every colour,” to quote the same poet again, “every condition, every situation clothed him equally well.” His equanimity gained him the almost unwilling praise of Aristotle, who relates how a somewhat self-assertive utterance of Plato once drew from him the curt, cool rejoinder, “How unlike our friend!” meaning Socrates. In his disposition there was a peculiar strain of sunny cheerfulness which kept him both from anxious care about the future, and from violent regrets for the past. The almost unexampled combination of great capacity for enjoyment and great freedom from wants, his gentleness and calmness in face of every provocation, made a profound impression on his contemporaries. And though his was a peaceable nature, averse from all contention, and therefore from all participation in public life, there was yet not wanting in it an element of courage, which found expression, passively rather than actively, in contempt for wealth and indifference to suffering. Even Cicero places Aristippus by the side of Socrates, and speaks of the “great and divine excellences” by which both men compensated any offences of which they may have been guilty against custom and tradition. As late as the eighteenth century, the spirit of the age was in sympathy with characters of this type. Montesquieu illustrates, without knowing it, the above words of self-description ascribed to Aristippus, in a phrase bearing reference to his own character: “My machine is so happily compounded that I am sufficiently sensitive to things to enjoy them, but not enough to suffer from them.” And the abbes who frequented the salons of society ladies had no reason for preferring the rags of unwashed Cynics to the fashionable dress of the perfumed philosopher. But with us of the present day that type has to some extent lost favour. With the children of the nineteenth century, a strong, fervid, if one-sided, nature counts for more than the calculating wisdom and the all-round culture of the artist in life. But at least it should not be forgotten that this man with the clear cool brain was exceptionally qualified to examine and appreciate the facts of human nature with dispassionate impartiality. In Plato we find the expressions, “men of refinement,” and “men of superior refinement,” applied to a set of philosophers whom we have every reason to identify with Aristippus and his followers. And it is quite true that subtlety in discrimination, keenness of analysis, strictness in the deduction of consequences, were pre-eminently distinctive of the school of Cyrene.

The field of scientific interest was, for Aristippus, confined within almost as narrow bounds as for his master, Socrates. He was just as far removed as the latter from all investigations of nature, while against mathematics he is reported to have raised the not very far-sighted objection that it stood on a lower level than the handicrafts, because no part is played in it by “the better and the worse,” that is, by considerations of utility and human welfare. His interest thus centres chiefly in ethics, or the science of the well-being of man; he is completely at one with Socrates in this, and he is moved by kindred motives. His earnest endeavour after clearness and definiteness in the treatment of ethical questions is a feature which he may, perhaps, be said to have inherited from Socrates. But in Aristippus this tendency assumes a fundamentally different form. In point of method, he joins hands with Antisthenes. With both philosophers, dialectic and the search for definitions are thrust far into the background. The sure basis which they sought, was found, not in ideas, but in facts. At the same time, Aristippus avoided building upon fictitious empirical data, such as the Antisthenic conception of the primitive age. In him we find the first attempt to work back to the fundamental facts of human nature, its “Urphanomene,” to use Goethe's expression. For him, as for his teacher, happiness is at once goal and starting-point. But for the purpose of establishing its true nature, he follows the path, not of conceptional determination or definition, but of the ascertainment of facts; he recognizes pleasurable sensation. For this, children and animals strive with an instinctive impulse, just as they seek to avoid pain. Here is the root-phenomenon, the at once incontestable and fundamental fact on which must be based, according to his view, every attempt to fix a code of rules for the conduct of human life. In order to follow the line of thought taken by Aristippus and his school, it is indispensable to be familiarly acquainted with the speculations of modern Hedonists. It is only thus that the meagre extracts, from which our knowledge of the Cyrenaic moral system is derived, become intelligible to us, only thus can the dead doctrines speak to us with a living voice. If the pursuit of pleasure is to serve as an unassailable foundation for the construction of rules to govern human life, it is necessary to observe strictly a distinction which was insisted on by Aristippus with as much zeal and as much consistency as afterwards by Jeremy Bentham. Pleasure, as such, must always and everywhere be regarded as a good, and the necessity, which, of course, occurs with great frequency, of abstaining from pleasure, must in each case be supported by cogent reasoning. The argument involves a strict separation of the pleasurable feeling from the circumstances which produce it, accompany it, or arise out of it; and all confusion of the kind must be guarded against with extreme care. At the risk of the worst misunderstandings, both Aristippus and Bentham held with unshakable firmness to the position that pleasure qua pleasure is always a good, no matter what the case may be with its causes or its consequences. From the one or from the other there may arise an excess of pain; the good is then outweighed by the evil in the other scale, and the only rational mode of action is to abstain from it. In other cases, again, actions accompanied by painful feelings are the indispensable means for the gaining of pleasurable feelings the price, as it were, which must be paid for them, a call upon us which must be met without flinching if our object is a positive balance of pleasure. The art of life is thus resolved into a species of measurement or calculation, such as Plato describes at the close of the “Protagoras” a result which he represents as arising legitimately out of the fundamental teachings of Socrates, but which he does not appear to accept with entire inward satisfaction.

3. But before we come to the application of the doctrine, let us return once more to its logical justification. The pleasure most worth striving for was not considered by Aristippus, as it was afterwards by Epicurus, to consist in mere freedom from pain; but he was just as far from assigning such pre-eminence to violent pleasures, or those which are bound up with the appeasement of passionate desire. The name of “pleasure” denoted for Aristippus, not, perhaps, the zero on the Epicurean scale of emotion, but still a fairly low reading on the positive side of it. The mere absence of pain and the mere absence of pleasure were both regarded as “middle states.”

It is by no means clear what was the precise method which Aristippus followed in constructing his more exact definition of “pleasure.” We only know that he looked upon it as a kind of “gentle motion” finding its way into consciousness, and contrasted it with the rough or tumultuous motion which is felt as pain. He cannot in this have been guided simply by observation of natural processes; for children and animals, to which he was all ready to appeal, seek the more violent pleasures as eagerly as the gentler kinds, if not more so. Was it the short duration of the most intense pleasures, or the admixture of pain arising from want and passionate desire (the ordinary precursors of those pleasures), or was it both factors together, that decisively influenced his judgment and his choice? We have every reason to frame some such conjecture. For nothing lay further from his way of thinking than the arbitrariness of a mere fiat of authority conceived as declaring the gentler pleasures to be the only admissible species, and ignoring all the others. Some rational ground for his preference appears to be alluded to in the statement, attributed to him, that “one pleasure is not different from other pleasures.” Perhaps the least forced interpretation of this strange sentence is as follows: Aristippus (and the same may be said of Bentham) did not deny differences between pleasures in respect of intensity, duration, their purity, that is, freedom from admixture. What he attacked was the recognition, on a priori grounds, of qualitative distinctions between them, or distinctions in respect of their worth. So construed, the above sentence is nothing more than a protest against the claim to assign to one class of pleasures a precedence before others which is not supported by any process of reasoning, but rests entirely on so-called intuitive judgments.

Partial or isolated pleasures, however, were regarded by him as being immediately worthy of pursuit, not merely as a means for the attainment of that “sum of pleasurable sensations” to which was given the name of happiness or well-being. The language of the ancient excerpt is here in almost verbal agreement with that of a modern utilitarian, who, on this point at least, remained a strict Hedonist: “The ingredients of happiness are very various, and each of them is desirable in itself, and not merely when considered as swelling an aggregate.” A reply was thus provided to the objection which lay close at hand, and was indeed speedily raised, that human life offers on the whole a balance of pain rather than of pleasure. However inevitable this concession to pessimism might seem to be, it remained none the less desirable to seek the maximum of attainable pleasure, no matter whether this maximum did or did not exceed the sum of all the pain experienced in a lifetime. Wisdom was declared to be a good, but not an end in itself; rather was it a means towards the end just described. It preserved the wise man from the worst enemies of happiness from superstition, and from the passions which, like “the passions of love and envy, rest on empty imagination.” But the wise man could not remain exempt from all emotions, he could not escape sorrow and fear, because these had their origin in nature. Yet the wisdom based on such true insight was not in itself enough to guarantee happiness unconditionally. The wise man could not expect a life of perfect happiness, nor was his opposite, the bad man, absolutely and entirely miserable. Each condition would only prevail “for the most part;” in other words, wisdom and its opposite possessed a tendency to bring happiness and misery respectively. And even to create the tendency note the correction of Socratic onesidedness wisdom alone was not sufficient; training, the education of the body not least of all, was indispensable for this purpose. Similarly, to some extent consequently, the virtues were not an exclusive privilege of the wise. Some of them might be found in the unwise as well.

This spirit of moderation and circumspection, this cautious avoidance of exclusiveness and exaggeration, present us with a welcome contrast to the impression produced by most ancient systems of ethics an impression which the reader has possibly already received from the Cynic system. But here again points of contact are not wanting between the two great ethical ramifications of Socratism. It is true that Antisthenes, in expressing his elevation above wants and all manner of dependence, his hatred towards the slavery of sensual pleasure, falls into the exaggeration, not to say unnaturalness, of professing an absolute and entire hostility to and contempt for all pleasure; on the other hand, there is attributed to him a saying that pleasure is a good, but “only that pleasure which is followed by no repentance.” To this Aristippus might very well have assented; only he would have formulated the proposition somewhat more precisely by asserting that pleasure is a good even in the excepted case, though it is then equalled or outweighed by the evil of repentance.

This hedonistic system, of which we have before us a somewhat meagre sketch, but one clearly describing many of its main features, has been hitherto treated by us as if it had been entirely the work of Aristippus. This, however, is more than we are able to affirm with absolute certainty. The elaborate discussion of first principles, clearly discernible even in the epitome, the unmistakable traces of a defensive attitude towards criticism, the cautious limitations, rare in pioneers, with which so many propositions are put forth, all this suggests that there are other possibilities. Perhaps that excerpt may not have related to the founder of the school, but to his successors. Aristippus bequeathed his system to his daughter Arete, who again brought up her son to be a philosopher. We may pause here to note that this is the one instance in the whole history of philosophy in which the thread of tradition passed through the hand of a woman a circumstance which may, perhaps, have contributed something to the fineness of the resulting product. Now, this “mother's pupil,” Aristippus the younger, we find mentioned as the author of one of the propositions of the Cyrenaic ethics; and it would appear at least not impossible that the elaboration of the system may have been the work of Arete and her son. There is a piece of external evidence which favours this assumption, without, however, raising it to the rank of a certainty. In speaking of hedonistic ethics, Aristotle names, not Aristippus, but Eudoxus, who, in addition to rendering considerable services to mathematics and astronomy, constructed an ethical system closely akin to that of the Cyrenaics and based on the same fundamental phenomena. This ignoring of Aristippus will be easier to understand if we suppose that he left behind him, not a completed system, but merely the suggestions of one. The argument, however, is inconclusive, for the Cyrenaic theory of knowledge, which Plato almost certainly has in his mind, and combats, in the “Theaetetus,” is also not deemed worthy of mention by Aristotle. It is not altogether beyond the bounds of possibility that personal dislike and a contempt for the sophist Aristippus may have been responsible for the silence of the Stagirite in both cases alike.

But, whether this conjecture be well founded or no, we must in any case use our utmost endeavour to keep the Cyrenaic doctrine of pleasure separate from the personal idiosyncrasies and the easy-going temperament which distinguished the founder of the school. How necessary it is to keep the two apart, appears with special clearness from the parallel case, already mentioned, of Eudoxus, who, equally with Aristippus, based his ethics on the pursuit of pleasure, but who in his own life, as Aristotle tells us, remained exceptionally aloof from all pleasure-seeking, and won many adherents to his doctrine through the respect which was paid him on this very account. We may also call to mind Jeremy Bentham, and his long life of cheerful labour, exclusively devoted to the furtherance of the general welfare. Lastly, we shall presently learn, from the history of the Cyrenaic school, that the view of life held by its members underwent manifold changes, that the two questions, “Is happiness attainable?” and “What does hap- piness consist in?” received widely different answers, while the basis of the doctrine remained unaltered in all essential points. The peculiar nature of this basis, its deduction of moral precepts from the well-being of the agent himself, is something common to all the ethical systems of antiquity ; they all rest on a eudaemonistic, or, if the term is preferred, on an egoistic foundation. But whether the end and object of life is named eudaimonia, or whether this somewhat vague composite notion is analyzed into its elements, the individual sensations of a pleasurable kind which together make up happiness, the principle is unaffected. Two questions, however, are of great importance, What is the practical content of this or any other ethical system? and How are the rules of conduct recognized by this system theoretically deduced from the fundamental principles?

4. On the content of the Cyrenaic moral system there is a great dearth of accurate and detailed information; this very deficiency, however, supplemented as it is by one or two positive statements of fact, seems to indicate that the ideal of life cherished by these Socratics was not too widely divergent from the traditional one. Aristippus himself is reported to have said, in reply to an inquiry as to what philosophy was good for, “Chiefly to enable the philosopher, supposing all laws were abolished, to go on living as before.” The historical value of such apophthegms is certainly trifling enough; still, a saying like the above, though we find it quoted with the primary object of showing the wise man's superiority to the compulsion of law, would hardly have been put in the mouth of the leading Cyrenaic if his doctrine had differed so much from accepted standards as did, for example, the system of the Cynics. This impression is strengthened by the fact that we nowhere meet with any hint of a breach with social tradition on the part of the Cyrenaics, and that even those members of the school who, like Theodorus, gave deep offence by their religious heresies, were on the best of understandings with the rulers of the day; whence we may gather that they did not offend against tradition by their mode of life as well.

That by “pleasure” the Cyrenaics did not mean the pleasures of sense exclusively, it is hardly necessary to state. They pointed out, among other things, that the same impressions received by the eye or ear produce different emotional effects according to the verdict passed on them by the intelligence : thus the cries of pain which distress us when they proceed from real sufferers affect us pleasurably when they occur in the artistic presentation of a tragedy on the stage. It is true that the school, or, more correctly, a part of it, assigned the greatest intensity to bodily feelings, in support of which view they appealed to the preponderating use of corporal punishment in education and in the administration of the criminal law. At this point we may consider the process of development through which the ethical doctrines of the Cyrenaics passed a development marked by the same twofold tendency towards refinement and towards pessimism which characterized the whole culture of the age (cf. p. 148). Four generations after Aristippus came Hegesias, who earned the appellation , “The Advocate of Death.” In a work entitled “The Suicide,” more correctly, “The Suicide by Starvation,” as also in his lectures, he depicted the ills of life in so moving a fashion that the authorities of Alexandria felt themselves obliged to prohibit him from lecturing, in order to avert the danger arising from a propaganda of suicide. After this, we are not surprised to learn that he held happiness to be unattainable, and enjoined upon the wise man the task of avoiding evils rather than that of choosing goods. More astonishing, to those at least who have not learnt to see the deeper inward connexions between the different ramifications of Socratism, is the recurrence, among the Cyrenaics, of the Cynic doctrine of adiaphoria. This indifference to all externals was justified by Hegesias, not in the same way as by the Cynics, but on the ground that nothing is in its own nature pleasurable or painful, that it is the newness or the rarity of a thing, on the one hand, or the fact of satiety with it, on the other, from which the pleasure or the pain arises. Such was his argument an exaggerated expression of a correct perception that habit both increases the power of endurance and blunts the edge of feeling. In the Socratic doctrine of the involuntariness of all evil-doing, we may see the germ of that indulgence towards the erring which Hegesias inculcated with so great emphasis. Not to hate, but to instruct, was the burden of his exhortation, by which we are reminded of certain modern thinkers, such as Spinoza and Helvetius, who set out from the same premises.

Among the contemporaries of Hegesias was Anniceris, in whose hands the Cyrenaic ethics attained its highest degree of refinement. Consonantly with the general character of the age, he was hardly more confident than Hegesias in the anticipation of positive happiness. But he pronounced the wise man happy, even where the amount of pleasure falling to his personal share was very inconsiderable. He appears to have taught that the portion allotted to the individual was supplemented by those sympathetic emotions which are comprised under the names of friendship and gratitude, of piety and patriotism. It is true that even he rejected as psychologically inadmissible the formula which states that “the happiness of a friend is to be chosen for its own sake,” just as in a later day Helvetius saw a psychological absurdity in the formula, “The good for the sake of the good.” The happiness of others, to Anniceris' thinking, could never be an immediate object of feeling. But he did not, like most Hedonists, look for the origin of altruistic emotions, considered as secondary products, exclusively in utility. Friendship did not, for him, rest solely on benefits received; good will alone, apart from any active manifestation of it, was a quite sufficient basis. Above all, he did full justice to the highly important psychological truth that altruistic feelings, however generated, gradually acquire an independent force of their own, which they preserve even when an exceptional case, he seems to have thought they yield no balance of pleasure. He not only recognized this phenomenon as a fact, but he also justified the self-sacrifice which is its corollary, by affirming that the wise man, though holding firmly to pleasure as the supreme end, and setting his face against all diminution of it, will yet submit to such diminution in his own case for love of a friend. He extended the same recognition and approval to patriotic self-sacrifice; in neither case are we informed what were the arguments by which he defended his attitude.

We thus come to the highly important question of the bridge, which, in the Cyrenaic moral system, taken in the widest sense, led from the pursuit of happiness by the individual to the recognition of social obligations and the value of altruistic sentiment. That the system in question, in all its shades and varieties, did seek, and claim to have found, such a connecting link, there can be no manner of doubt. Although they detected a more than common element of convention in current judgments on what is just and what unjust, what excellent and what reprehensible, although they expressly declared that right and wrong exist by custom and enactment, not by nature a view which, like Hippias of Elis, they probably supported by an appeal to the disagreement on such matters of different ages and peoples still, they held it for an established truth, as we have documentary evidence to show, that the wise man will avoid all that is unjust or wrong. In the absence of trust- worthy and exhaustive records bearing on a particular point of history, analogy may be called in to help; and we may here call to mind the methods followed by the promulgators of cognate doctrines in other ages. The first and nearest of such connecting bridges is contained in the doctrine of “well-understood interest.” This species of moral calculus, which preaches the avoidance of evil because of the injurious consequences to the agent himself, and supplies a like motive for well-doing, is by no means foreign to the “enlightenment” of modern times. If we desire acquaintance with this mode of thought in its quintessence, we may find an exposition of it, marked by more than common cogency and consistency of formulation, in a little book written by the Frenchman Volney, the deistic author of “The Ruins,” namely, his “Catechism of Good Sense.” Again, the English divine Paley interpolates the rewards and punishments of a future life between “private happiness” as “our motive,” and “the will of God” as “our rule,” thus extending worldly wisdom so as to bring the life beyond the grave within its scope. We have already alluded to the concluding speech in Plato's “Protagoras” and later on we shall have to consider it more minutely. It is not improbable that Plato wrote this with an eye to his fellow-pupil Aristippus; and the same may be said of that part of the “Phsedo ” in which virtue is treated as the result of prudence. Considerations of a similar nature occupy the central position in the moral system of Epicurus, who, however, while generally following the footprints of the Cyrenaics in ethical questions, was prevented by the strain of enthusiasm in his nature from finding exclusive satisfaction in their mode of deducing obligations. This “regulation of egoism” was not limited to a commendation of well-doing by maxims, such as the proverbial “Honesty is the best policy,” or, “If honesty had not existed, it would have had to be invented.” At this stage of thought, that which mediates between individual self-love and the general weal is not so much the hortatory ethics of prudence as the power of law, supplementing and controlling that of public opinion. Both these factors appear in this connexion in the Cyrenaic teaching. Regard for “legal penalties” and for public opinion was held by them also to be a solid guarantee of good conduct. In the modern world, however, the chief trump held by the representatives of this stage of thought has been legislative reform. To give the law such a shape that individual interest may coincide with public interest, was the aim which Helvetius placed before himself, and which Bentham strove to realize with all the ingenuity at his command, and all the resources of his rich faculty of invention.

The second mode of connexion rests on an appreciation of altruistic feelings as an element in individual happiness. It culminates in the injunction to cultivate these feelings, to forget their assumed selfish origin, to choose and persevere in a life of entire devotion to the welfare of one's fellow- creatures as a means towards one's own happiness. As a typical expression of this view, we may quote the dictum of d'Alembert, “Enlightened self-love is the principle from which springs all self-sacrifice,” or Holbach's definition (borrowed from Leibnitz) of virtue as the “art of making one's self happy by means of the happiness of others.”

There is a third stage in this search for a connecting- link, in which it is deemed sufficient to recognize certain psychological facts. There are numerous cases where habit and the association of ideas convert what was originally a means to something else into an end in itself, as when, for example, the avaricious man begins to seek for its own sake the wealth which he first desired as an instrument, or when the drunkard, overmastered by his acquired craving, continues to indulge his vice after it has ceased to afford him any pleasure. Of this nature, it is contended, are the social feelings. They are rooted and grounded in selfishness; they derive their force from praise and blame, from rewards and punishments, from regard to the good opinion and the good will of others, from solidarity of interests; gradually they acquire such strength that they are enabled to break loose from their roots, and exert an entirely independent influence over the soul. Traces both of the second and the third of these attempts to bridge the gap between Hedonism and social ethics may be discerned in Epicurus as well as in his predecessors, the Cyrenalcs. To this category we may refer the details already reported concerning the ethical doctrine of Anniceris, as well as a proposition adduced in the excerpt of which we have made so much use, and not limited by that authority to one particular branch of the school: “The prosperity of our fatherland, equally with our own, is by itself enough to fill us with joy.”

5. Even the above rapid survey is enough to satisfy us that Hedonism, or the theory which makes the pleasure and pain of the agent the sole original source of human actions, by no means involves denying the possibility of unselfish conduct, still more that it harbours no design of banishing unselfishness from the world. Many of the most resolute champions of this doctrine have been at the same time warm-hearted philanthropists; for example, Jeremy Bentham and other progress-enthusiasts of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In their hands Hedonism was transformed into something often confused with it, but fundamentally different from it Utilitarianism, or the system of ethics which has chosen for its guiding-star the general welfare, or “the greatest happiness of the greatest number.” There are several factors common to ancient and modern eras of enlightenment, which have favoured the rise of this doctrine, and which have given it the same powerful impulse in the France of the eighteenth century as in the Greece of the fourth and third before Christ. The following may be taken to be the chief of them: a decay of the theological mode of thought in educated circles; a faculty of observation enormously heightened by the rejection of every tendency to embellishment; a desire to place individual and corporate life on a strictly rational, even specially scientific, basis, and for this purpose to discard all fair seemings, and set out from the most unassailable and the most indubitable premisses, which latter, partly because they possess these very qualities, are apt to be at the same time the least subtle and the most obvious of their kind.

But our attention is due, not only to the inspiring principles, but also to the results of these tendencies of thought. Few will deny that some fragment of truth is present in each of them. But, taken together, do they contain the whole truth? We crave permission to state some of the reasons for which we hesitate to answer this question in the affirmative.

Hedonism, to our thinking, does not deserve the reproaches commonly levelled against it. But it hardly seems to give an adequate account of the facts it is intended to explain. Like many other ancient doctrines, it suffers from a defect which is the reverse side of a great merit : it strains after a higher degree of simplicity than the facts really exhibit. That supposed fundamental phenomenon, which it and the most illustrious of its adepts Bentham place at the root of all human endeavour, the desire for pleasure and the dread of pain, does in truth lie at a very considerable depth. But it is not the deepest to which the eye of the searcher can penetrate. Let us consider, for example, the human, or rather animal, craving for food. Is it true that man and beast desire food for the sake of the pleasure which accompanies the consuming it ? If we examine the matter closely, it will appear, we think, that the case is otherwise. Our desire for food is something immediate, arising from the instinctive impulse towards the preservation and the enhancement of life ; the pleasure is an accessory phenomenon, associated with this as with all other actions which promote life and its vigorous manifestation. Probably we shall not go far wrong if we interpret the facts somewhat as follows. The combination of matter which composes an animal organism is subject to continual dissociation, which would be definitive if the loss were not repaired. This combination possesses at the same time a tendency to persist a primordial fact which also appears in the reaction of the cell against injurious influences, and of which, as of some kindred facts in nature, no ulterior explanation seems attainable. We may mention the principle of heredity, which rests on the tendency of a process which has once begun to continue indefinitely, and the First Law of Motion, in which the same tendency is displayed in its most comprehensive application. Now, the processes that take place within the organism are, in part at least, attended by phenomena of a psychical order, particularly by emotional excitement ; and it thus happens, by virtue of one of the least striking but perhaps most far-reaching of teleological adjustments, that the processes conducive to its preservation are felt as pleasurable, while those which are unfavourable are felt as painful. Pleasure and pain may thus pass for phenomena accompanying those primitive tendencies, but not for the tendencies themselves. In the above remarks, the germ of which is to be found in Aristotle, we have considered man as a part of nature, not as something existing by the side of nature. They will have been misunderstood, however, if it is supposed that man, endowed with reason and feeling, is to be taken as a mere slave and tool of his primary impulses. For by virtue of the images and ideas stored in his consciousness, or, more correctly, by virtue of the dispositions of will arising out of them, he is enabled to offer resistance to even the strongest of these impulses ; he can resolve to die, indeed to die of hunger. But so long as, and in so far as, he has entered no veto against his natural instincts, they produce their effects in him immediately, without reference to possible pleasure, even when their satisfaction has pleasure for a consequence. In this, as in other cases, Socratist and the cognate modern schools of thought have overshot the mark in the rationalization of human life. It was a great thought, that the whole code of conduct ought to be based on the foundation of a single impulse. But this Monism or Centralism, if we may be allowed the expression, cannot hold its ground, we think, against the richer variety, the Pluralism or Federalism of nature.

To a certain extent the case is similar with the second of the questions which present themselves when we set about criticizing the foundations of Hedonism the question as to the origin of the sympathetic or social feelings. At first sight, indeed, it would appear as though the most recent advances of science had provided those old doctrines with new and powerful support. In defending the theory that the selfish feelings alone are original, and that the altruistic feelings are strictly dependent upon them, the Cyrenaics and Epicurus, as also their modern successors, the most consistent of whom were Hartley * and the older Mill,t attempted to show that habit and the association of ideas were the sole means by which this, so to speak, chemical transmutation of feelings and volitional impulses was effected. Those thinkers to whom the above-mentioned means seemed insufficient to work, in the course of an individual life, such a change as that from the crudest egoism to self-sacrificing devotion, would, at the present day, have had at their disposal another solution of the problem, and one less open to criticism. We refer, of course, to the theories of descent and evolution which belong to our times. Even though we carefully avoid all exaggeration and misuse of these theories, particularly of the most important of them, the doctrine of selection, they still do something to explain the advance of altruism. They make it easier than it formerly was to believe that in the course of untold generations those dispositions of mind which favour social or corporate life, more especially amenability to discipline, have gained greater and greater strength through the development of the organs of volitional inhibition. But if we entrust ourselves to the guidance of these theories, we are carried back to a far-distant past, at which the question as to the original or derived character of the social feelings becomes impossible for us to answer, or, if construed strictly, loses its meaning. For the same feelings may be both original and derived original in man, derived in some one or other of his brutish ancestors. In respect of those modes of feeling which relate to the elementary social combinations, this possibility may at once be admitted to be a reality. The herd precedes the horde. Even in the former, the innate sympathetic feelings may already be observed exerting a widely extended influence. The same may be said of all that concerns the preservation of the species. The case is here much the same as with the feelings and adjustments which relate to the preservation of the individual life. The “chemistry of feel- ings” here entirely refuses the services which it renders in not a few other cases, including some taken from the emotional life of animals. The dog which has learnt “from love to fear, from fear to love” his master, may have been educated, by the agency of associations connected equally with benefits received and with punishments suffered, up to the point of self-sacrifice. But we must regard in a very different light that instinct, which is implanted in so many animals, of caring for their offspring, even when yet unborn, with a devotion which pain cannot quench. Take the case of the salmon, for example, which pines away almost to a skeleton in the course of the long voyage from the sea to the river waters suited for spawning.

6. In the theory of knowledge, the analytic intellect of the Cyrenaics penetrated to still greater depths than in ethics. We cannot take account of their work in this field without making the reader to some extent a partner in our investigation. The regrettable loss of all the works of this school, the meagreness and the one-sidedness of the notices relating to them, almost all of which are of a polemical character, compel us to linger for some time over the subject, and to give it a detailed consideration, the length of which will, we hope, be rewarded by its fruits.

The Cyrenaic theory of knowledge was compressed into a formula which occurs in the same form in different and independent accounts, and therefore must certainly have been taken from the original documents. It runs as follows : “Our modes of being affected are alone knowable.” For the explanation of this proposition, our authorities appeal to the most diverse instances of sense-perception. They allege in the spirit, partly perhaps in the very words, of the Cyrenaics that we do not know that honey is sweet, that chalk is white, that fire burns, or that the knife-blade cuts: all that we can report is our own states of feeling; we have a sensation of sweetness, we feel ourselves burnt or cut, and so on. The first impression received by the attentive reader of this book may possibly be that in these utterances we are again confronted by the Leucippic-Democritean doctrine touching the subjective nature of most sensations (“According to convention, there are a sweet and a bitter, a hot and a cold,” and so on. Cf. Vol. I. p. 320). But this impression will not bear examination. For there is no repetition of what formed the counterpart of that declaration concerning the subjective or secondary properties of things, namely, a proclamation of atoms and the void as strictly objective realities. Not only so, but nothing else is introduced as a strictly objective existence to take the place of atoms and the void. We must consider, too, that our records, inadequate as they are, present us, in their central features at any rate, with the testimony of competent and well- informed students of the earlier philosophers ; and these would not have omitted to mention the identity or approximate identity of two doctrines. Still, the present is not an unsuitable occasion to allude to the theory of Leucippus, if only as the starting-point, and almost indispensable premiss of the theory now engaging our attention. In the latter we have, without any doubt, a continuation and expansion of the earlier attempt, related to it as the theories of Berkeley or Hume are to those of Hobbes or Locke.

Expositions in some detail of this theory of knowledge occur in three different quarters. There are two late philosophical authors, namely, the empiric physician, Sextus (about 200 A.D.), and a Peripatetic, or adherent of the Aristotelian school, named Aristocles, who came about a generation earlier, and of whom the ecclesiastical historian Eusebius has preserved considerable fragments in his “Praeparatio Evangelica.” Lastly there is Plato. This reversal of the natural order in which the profound philosopher, the contemporary of Aristippus, is made to yield precedence to late authors who were immeasurably inferior to him in every respect, is based upon the following reason. Those two later authorities treat expressly and deliberately of Aristippus and his school ; Plato gives us, in a section of the “Theaetetus,” what purports to be a secret doctrine of the sophist Protagoras, but really belongs, as we believe, along with Friedrich Schleiermacher and several others, to Aristippus. This conjecture for conjecture it is, though anything but a random or reckless one rests entirely on the agreement between Plato's exposition and the above-mentioned accounts, which, nevertheless, are thereby supplemented to a not inconsiderable degree, and, so to speak, illuminated from within.

Aristocles, in truth, gives us little more than the formula quoted above, to which he subjoins a lengthy polemic, betraying his total inability to appreciate his opponent's standpoint. Sextus is an adherent and advocate of sceptic principles. As such he is at pains, as we have already remarked a propos of Democritus (Vol. I. p. 359), to make the representatives of other schools into allies of scepticism. It is thus not surprising that he clothes his account of the Cyrenaic theory of knowledge in the language of his own school, and that he gives the sceptical or negative side of that theory the predominance. But that which more particularly moves our astonishment in this short account of the scepticism of the Cyrenaics, as in the parallel account given by Plutarch, is the lavish use of words expressing dogmatic assurance, such as “true,” “incontrovertible,” “unshakable,” “infallible,” “reliable,” “sound.” How is this contradiction to be explained? For this purpose it seems necessary to penetrate more deeply into the mind of these philosophers and the guiding principles of their thought. What at first may here seem hypothetical, will, we hope, gradually improve its claim to be fact in the course of the investigation.

The distinction between primary and secondary qualities, the great achievement, rich in consequences, of Leucippus, had drawn the attention of thinkers to the subjective element in sense-perception generally. This exaltation of the subject, this insistence on his cardinal significance for the genesis of sensation, natural and obvious as it seems, was a comparatively late development ; when, however, it had once appeared, its influence on the mind of inquirers could not but gain in strength as it became more and more familiar to them. The question was bound to be raised whether those perceptions to which absolutely objective validity was still conceded, were in reality fully entitled to the distinction. For example, the perception of colour was held to be subjectively conditioned, but not that of forms. This violent separation of what was so closely related could not be maintained intact when once attention had been drawn to a number of illusions to which the eye is subject even outside the field of colour-perception. New difficulties were raised by the staff which appears broken when dipped in water, by the different apparent magnitudes of one and the same object as viewed by the two eyes, by the double vision which may be the result either of a pathological condition or of sideward pressure upon one eye. The sense of touch itself, which passed for the type of true objectivity, was found, on closer observation, to labour under grave deficiencies. Thus the fact that, when two fingers are crossed, a single pellet may be felt as two, supplied much matter for thought. (A few, but not all, of these illusions are mentioned in the account given by Sextus; others are referred to in the section of Aristotle's Metaphysics which deals with the relativistic schools of thought.) Some, no doubt, were satisfied with the reflexion that the message of the one sense, or of the one organ, may be corrected by that of another, just as the normal condition corrects the testimony of the abnormal one. But what guarantee have we so might the doubters answer that equally grave deceptions do not occur in other cases, where no correction is attainable ? And, apart from that, had not Democritus already pointed out that it is not the number, not the majority or minority, whether of persons or of conditions, that can decide between truth and false- hood (cf. Vol. I. p. 360) ? Here we call to mind the violent attacks of the Eleatics on the testimony of the senses in general. This tendency of thought to be hostile to sense was necessarily reinforced by the growth of reflexion, and especially by the placing of such observations as we have just mentioned in the forefront of discussion. Nor was Eleaticism by any means dead; it lived on in the school of those Socratics whose home was at Megara, and whom we took leave to call “Neo-Eleatics,” as being the heirs of Zeno and his predecessors. There can be no doubt that the old cry, “The senses are liars; do not believe them ! Truth dwells outside and above the world of sense,” was now raised more loudly than before. It woke the strongest echo in the mind of Plato. But the opponents of the Eleatics Protagoras, for example had successors as well, and we ask with what weapons could the old conflict be continued? The proposition, “All that is perceived is real” had from the first a subjective tinge, which appears in the reference to “man” as the “measure of all things” but which finds its clearest expression in the treatise “On the Art.” This sophist's discourse, filled with the spirit of Protagoras, contains a passage which runs as follows: “If the Non-Existent can be seen like the Existent, I do not understand how any one can call it non-existent, when the eyes can see it and the mind recognize it as existent” (cf. Vol. I. p. 454). That which in an earlier generation had been a casual glimpse, a fleeting inspiration, now became the central stronghold for the defence of the witness of the senses. Its champions abandon, so to speak, their advanced posts and outworks to the enemy, and retire to the inmost parts of the fortress, the sensations them- selves. These are no longer held as the pledges and guarantees of something external; while the adversary receives the most sweeping concessions, his most effective weapon of attack is wrested from his hands. However freely we admit that sensation can bring no valid testimony to the nature, or even the existence, of 'external objects, the sensation itself remains undeniable; it possesses unconditional validity or truth in itself, and, in combination with the other processes of consciousness, makes up a sum of knowledge which is perfectly adequate for all human purposes.

7. He who encounters for the first time this renunciation of belief in an external world may be excused if he imagines himself in a madhouse. “If you believe in the truth of this doctrine of yours” it was in such terms as these that Bishop Berkeley and his adherents were apostrophized “you may just as well run your head against a lamp-post, for the non-existent post cannot possibly hurt your equally non-existent head.” To which the reply was regularly returned, “We do not deny the sensation of resistance, nor any of the other sensations of which is composed the image or idea of a post, of a head, and of the whole external world ; that which we deny, or that, at least, of which we know nothing “as one section of the school affirms” is that mysterious something assumed by you to lie behind those phenomena which are present to our as to every other similar consciousness, and which are bound together by unalterable laws of sequence and coexistence.” What “we call the idea of a tree, the idea of a stone, the idea of a horse, the idea of a man” so we are told by a modern advocate of this school of thought, the older Mill, in his “Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind” are the ideas of a certain number of sensations, received together so frequently that they coalesce as it were, and are spoken of under the idea of “unity.” Similarly, we read in Plato's “Theatetus: “To such a group [of sensations] is assigned the name of man, of stone, of beast, and of every other thing.” Plato is here dealing with thinkers on whose subtlety he lays particular emphasis, whom he places in the sharpest contrast with the materialists, who believe in nothing but what they can grasp in their hands. He says of them, further, that they resolve everything into processes and events, completely banishing the concept of Being. He represents them, by the aid of that transparent fiction of a secret doctrine of Protagoras, as the successors of the great sophist; and, lastly, he describes for us a theory of sensation which is peculiar to them, one to which we shall presently have to pay some attention. The reader will probably be satisfied that the only contemporaries of Plato to whom this picture could apply were those who maintained that “modes of being affected are alone knowable,” that the “external thing” supposed to underlie a group of such modes was “possibly existent,” but, in any case, “inaccessible to us” (Sextus). Again, we must express regret for the scantiness of our information. We do not know how these earliest representatives of the school of thought now called phenomenalistic, settled accounts with traditional views. Did they undertake to explain the origin of the latter? Did they, like an English psychologist and a German-Austrian physicist of our own day, point to the psychical processes in virtue of which an aggregate of possibilities of sensation “appears to acquire a permanent existence which our sensations themselves do not possess, and consequently a greater reality than belongs to our sensations”? Or did they appeal to the fact that “the colours, sounds, odours of bodies are fleeting,” while the “tangible,” exempt in the main from temporal and individual change, remains as a “persistent kernel,” appearing as the background, substratum, or “vehicle of the fleeting qualities attached to it,” and retained as such, by force of mental habit, even when “the conviction has gained ground, that sight, hearing, and touch are intimately related to each other?” or lastly, did they contemplate the possibility that the conception of material substance arises from the confluence of those two streams of thought? These are questions which we cannot answer. But we should not be in the least surprised to learn that they never advanced beyond the rudiments of the problem, although they can hardly have neglected all criticism of the concept of Being.

The account which Plato gives of their theory of sensation must also be taken as authentic only in essentials. Many a detail in the picture may well be due to that creative intellect which was hardly ever satisfied with the bare reproduction of other men's opinions. For this reason we shall only advert to the main features of that theory. According to it, two elements, an active and a passive, come into play in the production of every sensation. This co-operation is designated as movement, and connected, in jest or earnest, with the Heraclitean doctrine of perpetual flux. From the meeting of two such elements, which only by meeting acquire their characters of active and passive, sensation and the object of sensation take their rise simultaneously colours along with visual sensations, sounds along with auditory sensations, and so forth. It is denied that a previously existing hard, soft, warm, cold, or white thing is perceived ; all this enters upon existence simultaneously with the perception. But how are we to conceive of this process which creates, at one and the same time, the subjective sensation and the objective quality, if not the object possessing the quality ? Plato, as we have remarked, terms the process movement, and clearly attributes to it a spatial character. What we have called the elements concerned in the movement, Plato leaves somewhat indefinite, and the consequence is a certain regrettable want of clearness, which may or may not have been intended. In the reasoning on which the doctrine is founded there is no mention of the material or corporeal; the emphatically repeated denial of all absolute existence, the “activities, processess, and all the invisible,” which are placed in such strong contrast with tangible things, lead us far away from the material world. Or rather, they would take us entirely out of it, were it not for the fact that the substitutes for the strict concept of matter which were used by many ancient thinkers, Plato and Aristotle among them, laboured under a remarkable degree of haziness. Thus the possibility is not entirely excluded that, in the original exposition at least, some species of matter, devoid of form and qualities, was designated as the subject of that movement. But we must not lose sight of yet another possibility, namely, that Aristippus himself may have had in view a purely material process. This last and more natural supposition gave rise to the reproach, urged against the Cyrenaics, of moving in a circle, by resolving the corporeal into sensations, and then deducing sensation from the corporeal. The justice of this reproach is to say the least, doubtful. For in no case can it be contended that the phenomenalist, merely as such, is debarred from studying the physiology of the senses or natural science in general. He will, of course, begin by declaring that bodies or material substances are for him nothing but complexes of permanent possibilities of sensation, or else similar abstractions resting in the last resort on sensations. But he is none the less at liberty to treat of the bodily conditions of each special sensation, and of the material conditions of any other process he may choose to consider. It is possible to contest the admissibility of his analysis, but not the legitimacy of this application of it. The procedure of the Cyrenaics may quite possibly have resembled that which we have just described. This would accord with the circumstance that they were accused of having reintroduced into their system at a later stage the physics and logic which they began by banishing from it. For the crown of their doctrinal edifice (its fourth and fifth parts) is stated to have been concerned with “causes” (physics), and “grounds of proof” (logic).

8. What more especially was the character of this logic of theirs, is a question to which we should be glad to be able to give an answer. There is an entire lack of positive statements on the subject. Yet it might have been conjectured a priori that in ancient times, as in modern, a phenomenalistic theory of knowledge and a hedonistic- utilitarian system of ethics were accompanied by an empirical and inductive tendency in logic. That such a logic did exist in the schools of the later Epicureans, we learnt, more than thirty years ago, from a work of Philodemus, which had lain concealed by the ashes of Herculaneum. When we first attempted the reconstruction of that mutilated treatise, we were able to point to traces, hitherto unobserved, of similar doctrines in the schools of the Sceptics and of the Empiric physicians. What was the common root? Light has been thrown on this question by Ernst Laas, who drew attention to a pregnant reference to this subject, which had previously been overlooked, in Plato's “Republic.” This passage deals with the preservation in the memory of past events, with the careful consideration of what happened first, what afterwards, what at the same time, and with the deduction, from such sources, of the safest possible forecast of the future. The language employed, for all its picturesqueness, strongly reminds us of the expressions used by more recent authors well acquainted with the inductive logic of later antiquity. We shall hardly go wrong if we connect this passage, not, as was done by another investigator, with Protagoras, but with Plato's contemporary, Aristippus. The conclusion which we draw from all our data taken together is that Aristippus laid the foundations for a system of logic which should be nothing else than a body of rules for ascertaining the sequences and the coexistences of phenomena. The Cyrenaic was, no doubt, prepared for weighty objections against his views, and such were probably raised in abundance by his contentious and inquisitive opponents. “You do not believe in the reality of external things” so may his critics well have exclaimed “at least you deny that they can be known; where, then, do you leave room, we do not say for science, but the most elementary foresight? What is the foundation of the commonest empirical truths which no one denies, not even yourself? How can you infer to-morrow from to-day? Whence do you learn that fire burns, that water quenches thirst, that men are mortal, that there is any permanence in those connexions and co-ordinations on which the whole conduct of life depends, as well as the special methods and processes of the artist, the mechanic, the physician, the pilot, the farmer, and the rest? We shall not be guilty of any great recklessness in conjecture if we assume that the Cyrenaics felt themselves compelled to return some answer to these questions, and not admit, if only by silence, that in renouncing all cognizable objects they also renounced all knowledge and all regulation of conduct in accordance with knowledge. And the very answer which their epistemological assumptions allowed them to give is contained in that allusion of Plato to which we have referred. There is in that passage no mention of objects, but only of events and happenings; and similarly it is quite possible that the inductive logic alluded to above may have grown out of a mode of apprehending the world which neither sought nor found behind things or existences anything else than complexes of phenomena, bound together by fixed laws. There is thus something more than a small probability that the earliest emergence of a radical criticism of knowledge was accompanied by the first formulation of that canon of knowledge which not only can be associated with such criticism, but has once more been so associated in our own century, that is to say, the rules governing the ascertainment of purely phenomenal successions and coexistences.

But it is time to return from this digression, to leave the Cyrenaic treatment of the chief problem of knowledge, known to us as it is only in its main features, for a subject on which all doubt may be said to be excluded the Cyrenaic doctrine of sensation, borrowed by them from Protagoras, but certainly further elaborated by Aristippus. That, properly speaking, there are no illusions of the senses, that, on the contrary, every sensation is the natural and necessary result of the factors which produce it, is a highly important truth which Plato, in the “Theaetetus,” proclaims with all the clearness that can be desired, in close connexion with undoubted Cyrenaic doctrines. It is not the majority or the minority of the subjects who feel in this or that manner, it is not the regularly predominating or the casually occurring state of the individual percipient that can establish a fundamental distinction between sensations; although, as we may add, the conclusions which we draw from the two classes of sensation may be of very different values for the ordering of life. That the authors of this theory were far in advance of their century is clear from the fact that some of the most eminent of our own contemporaries have not thought it superfluous to proclaim and insist upon those same truths. In 1867 Hermann Helmholtz wrote as follows:

“A red-blind person sees cinnabar as black or as a dark- yellowish grey, and that is the proper reaction for his peculiarly constituted eye. He only needs to know that his eye is different from those of other men. In itself, the one sensation is no truer and no falser than the other ['My sensation is true for me,' as we read in the Theatetus], even though those who see red have the great majority on their side. The red colour of cinnabar only exists at all in so far as there are eyes made like those of the majority of mankind. Cinnabar has exactly the same title to the property of being black, that is, to the red-blind.”

And again: “A sweet thing which is sweet for no one is an absurdity.” In the following year another philosophical physicist, to whom we have already alluded, explained his views on the same question in these words

The expression, sense-illusion proves that we are not yet fully conscious, or at least have not yet deemed it necessary to incorporate the fact into our ordinary language, that the senses represent things neither wrongly nor correctly. All that can be truly said of the sense-organs is that wider different circumstances they produce different sensations and perceptions. . . . And it is usual to call the unusual effects deceptions, or illusions.”

We have still to consider a negative circumstance of some importance. The problems of change, of inherence, of predication, which played so great a part in the investigations of the Megarians, the Cynics, and even of Plato, are entirely absent from all reports of the teaching of the Cyrenaics. Nor should we be surprised at this, for all these riddles are offshoots of the concept of Being, which the authors of the theory of sensation expounded in the “Theatetus” endeavoured, as Plato expressly informs us, to abolish altogether. The desire to be rid of the difficulties which attend this concept was, we may be sure, a considerable factor in the thought of the earlier as of the later phenomenalists. There is an entire lack of evidence to show how far their criticism of the concept of Being took a polemical turn, directed against members of other Socratic schools. It is possible that this very subject had its part in the controversies which raged between Aristippus and Antisthenes, and again between Theodorus, a late member of the African school, and Stilpo the Megarian.

9. The discord of the Socratics was less persistent in the field of ethics than in that of metaphysics. We find them, as ethical teachers, continually reproducing the features of their common ancestor. We notice what may almost be called a reversion to an original type, a force working to overcome the divergences of special developments, or at least to bring them nearer together. It is precisely this fact of which we are reminded by a name we have just mentioned that of Theodorus. In the line of philosophical descent he was a great-grandchild of Aristippus, but in his manner of life, as well as in his teaching, he was almost as much a Cynic as a Cyrenaic. In early life he was driven from his home by party conflicts; he worked as a teacher at Athens and Corinth, as a statesman in the court of Ptolemy I., and he was sent on a diplomatic mission to Lysimachus. Finally he returned to his native city, where he assisted the Egyptian governor Magas, by whom he was held “in high honour,” and there he died. He was thus a philosopher of the world and the court, though he was anything but a courtier. On the contrary, the strong self- assurance, the frank fearlessness of his demeanour towards the great, was the most striking feature in his character, and reminded men of Diogenes and his successors. In his cosmopolitanism, again, and in his disparagement of state- citizenship, he was equally Cynic and Cyrenaic; while the Cynic element predominated in his contempt for friendship, which, as he thought, is unnecessary to the self-sufficing wise man, while it is wholly foreign to the bad, whose inclinations rarely survive the advantages flowing from them.

The judgments which Theodorus passed on the figures of the popular religion were at least as bold as, if not bolder than, those of some among his Socratic contemporaries (especially Stilpo and Menedemus, see p. 207). Whether his appellation of “Atheist” was fully deserved or no, we cannot tell. The greater number of our authorities attribute atheistic sentiments to ~' v n ; others aver that he only scourged the gods of mythology; others, again, state that it was from the important critical labours of Theodorus that Epicurus derived his own (by no means atheistic) teaching on religious subjects. Possibly we have here some reason to conjecture that Theodorus included in his attack the belief in Providence and in special divine interventions. This would certainly have been quite enough to raise the prospect of an accusation before the Areopagus, from which he was protected by Demetrius of Phalerum, who conducted the administration of Athens between 317-6 and 307-6. It was enough, too, to cause him to be ranged among the deniers of the Deity by the side of Diagoras and Prodicus (cf. Vol. I. pp. 408, 430), and to prompt a late ecclesiastical writer to say of him that “he denied the Deity, and tJierefore incited mankind to perjury, theft, and violence.”

The truth is that his ethics showed some touch of that more spiritual quality we have already noticed in Hegesias and Anniceris. For him, it is plain, the word “pleasure“ was too thickly beset with misleading associations to be used as a name for that happiness or well-being which all the Socratics alike regarded as the end of life. In its place he employed an expression drawn rather from the emotional than the sensual sphere “joy,” or “cheerfulness,” the opposite of which was “sorrow,” or “melancholy.” The one true good (that is, the one effective means of attaining that end) was wisdom or justice, which he seems to have regarded as essentially identical, while the opposites of these were the only true evil. Pleasure and pain, both understood in the narrower sense the things indifferent in themselves “adaphoria”, to use the language of the Cynics and Stoics. This doctrine, which we only know in outline, is, in any case, chargeable with lack of due regard to the external conditions of existence, and with the same strain of exaggeration which marks the two schools of thought just mentioned. It is not, however, easy to understand how the same compiler to whom we owe the above curt but valuable notices was able to add, almost in a breath, that “in certain circumstances” the wise man, as conceived by Theoclorus, would steal, or commit sacrilege and other crimes. A reporter without malice would certainly not have omitted to give us some more exact account of those remarkable “circumstances” which would have sufficed temporarily to dethrone the supreme good, justice.

Unless we suppose this statement to be a clumsy invention, there seem to us to be only two possibilities. It may have been that in some piece of dialectic our Cyrenaic used names generally applied to morally reprehensible actions, to denote quite other and innocent ones, much as we speak of “justifiable homicide,” or regard other acts as sometimes justified by necessity. We may compare the reasonings of Socrates on the abstraction of arms to prevent suicide, on various deceptions practised for the sake of saving life, and on similar subjects. Or it may be that he was treating of “academic instances” of quite exceptional character in the spirit of that imaginative casuistry which robs ordinary moral standards of their applicability casuistry such as we shall encounter in the case of the Stoics, e.g. the necessity of incest, if the preservation of the human race depended on it. It is different with certain utterances, advocating Cynic freedom in sexual matters, which are ascribed to Theodorus, himself half a Cynic, and which may very well be authentic.

If Theodorus was half a Cynic, his pupil Bion was three-quarters of one. He was born at Borysthenis, on the Dnieper, attended the philosophic schools of the motherland, and learnt not only from the Cynics, but from Theodorus, Crates the Academic, and Theophrastus the Peripatetic. He became a travelling teacher, but while he adopted the Cynic dress, he broke with the Cynic custom by receiving payment for his instruction. He was, moreover, an uncommonly prolific author, both in prose and verse. Wit and intellect he possessed in remarkably high degree, and the shafts of his satire flew indiscriminately in all directions. In two lines of burlesque verse all that remains to us of his poetry he tears the venerable Archytas to pieces; and this, in our eyes, is more damaging to him than all the evil talk which went the rounds concerning him, and which Erwin Rohde long ago pronounced with perfect justice to be nothing but venomous slander. Vengeance was hereby taken for his violent attacks as well on the popular religion as on philosophers of every shade. The part which he played reminds us sometimes of Voltaire, whom he further resembles in the circumstance that a deathbed conversion was invented for him. Some knowledge of Bion's literary manner may be gained from the imitations of Teles, particularly from the highly ingenious dialogue between “Poverty” and the “Circumstances of Life.” As for the content of his teaching, it may be termed a softened Cynicism which has taken over from Hedonism the idea, foreign to itself, of adaptation to circumstances, and which preaches not so much the rejection of pleasure as contentment with such pleasure as may be attainable in each given case.

The following seems to be the net result of those adaptations, transformations, and fusions which we have described in this and the preceding chapters. The smaller twigs on the tree of Socratism gradually wither; the Megarian and the Elian-Eretrian schools die out. Cynicism maintains its existence in its stricter form as a sect; but whatever it possesses of the scientific spirit and method is transferred to a new and less crude movement that of the Stoa. The latter is confronted by Epicureanism, an outgrowth of Hedonism; but the two are inwardly in closer connexion than the fierceness of their brother's battle would lead us to conjecture. For Epicurus and Zeno are now nearer together than, say, Aristippus and Antisthenes had been. Socratism thus advances in a double stream, allying itself, on the Cynic side, with the Heraclitean physics, and, on the Cyrenaic side, with that of Democritus. So developed, and with these additions, the teaching of Socrates becomes the religion, not of the masses in general, but of the masses of the educated, and continues to be so for a series of centuries. The process of transformation was accomplished, as is plain, with an astonishing degree of regularity. In the chain, forged chiefly out of ethical material, there occur, in the one case as in the other, links of natural philosophy ; and the whole fabric constitutes a system capable of satisfying the religious, moral, and scientific needs of myriads of men. Those who performed the work of carrying on and extending the tradition, were men of eminent intellect, but yet not the most eminent of all. Certain substances are termed conductors of heat or of electricity, and in the same way minds of a certain type may be called conductors of thought. Such minds are to be distinguished from those which open up fresh paths. Not that we accept as true the popular theory of genius. No one, we think, is entirely independent of his predecessors. No one can conjure up, as if out of nothing, a purely novel fabric, unexampled in all its parts. The true distinction seems to be contained in the following considerations.

An intellect of the first order, having found and selected the elements of a world-theory, will combine and develop them in such manner as may best accord with its own powerful and strongly marked individuality, and, for this very reason, there will be small prospect of gaining the adherence, within a short interval, of any very extensive section of society. At the same time, such an intellect, out of the abundance of its wealth, will exert an influence upon many later generations, with which it will continually present new points of contact, and thus upon the intellectual life of mankind at large. Of such a type was the great man we now have to study. He, too, imparted fresh life to Socratism by an infusion of foreign elements, notably Pythagoreanism, but the influence of the new product remained, in the first instance, limited to much narrower circles. The comprehensive developments, the intellectual phenomena on the vast scale, to which we have just referred, stand in immediate connexion with the Cynic and Cyrenaic Socratism out of which they arose. The next two books of this work will hardly do much towards making their evolution more intelligible. Still, we shall have little cause to repent having spent a very considerable time on Plato, his pupil Aristotle, and the circle of their disciples.

A Short History of Philosophy (Alexander)

by Archibald Alexander, M.A.
Glasgow: James Maclehose and Sons Publishers, 1907

The Cyrenaic school, which was the antithesis of the Cynic, sought the essence of life in pleasure. Aristippus, its founder, set forth as the principle of life, that a man must not be the slave but the master of circumstances, if he would lead a happy life. Pleasure is indeed the aim, but it must be pleasure in its highest forms. Nothing is bad or shameful which ensures real enjoyment. To the attainment of happiness, however, discrimination, moderation and spiritual culture are necessary. It must be admitted that the theory of Aristippus was more in consonance with the teaching of Socrates than of the Cynics, which it opposed. His idea of self-mastery was not mutilation, but use. The Cynic sought to starve desire, but in so doing was in danger of reducing life to barrenness. The Cyrenaic believed in gratifying desire within limits, ruled by a quantitative measure of happiness. In theory this conception seemed to present the truest ideal of self-realization — the Socratic idea of “using the world without abusing it.” Yet, in its ultimate analysis, it really made pleasure and not virtue the end of life, and in practice it led to the most selfish interpretations.

Of the other hedonists, Theodorus declared that the highest thing in life is the joy arising from the ability, in all the relations of life, to be guided by a rational purpose.

Hegesias regarded the absence of pain as the only worthy goal of the wise man, while Annicerus thought that withdrawal from society is impossible, and that, therefore, the true aim is to take as much enjoyment out of life as can be got.

A Student's History of Philosophy (Rogers)

By Arthur Kenyon Rogers, PhD
Professor of Philosophy in Bulter College
The MacMillan Company, London: MacMillan & Co., 1901

The Cyrenaics. — Pleasure. Socrates himself had had a leaning toward this solution, although he certainly had not been satisfied with it; but with Aristippus of Cyrene, it is elevated to the position of a central doctrine. Pleasure is man's sole good — pleasure in the most concrete form, and so, first of all, the more intensive pleasures of the body, although not such pleasures exclusively. If we could live from moment to moment, filling each with the fullest delight that sense and mind alike are capable of receiving, that would be the ideal of life. Unfortunately there are difficulties — practical difficulties — in the way of this. Our acts have consequences that we do not intend, and so in our well-meant pursuit of pleasure, we are apt — nay, we are sure — continually to be blundering upon pain and loss. Here, therefore, is the place for the Socratic insight. Only the wise man can be truly and permanently happy, — he who does not let himself be carried off his feet by the rush of his passion ; who can enjoy, but at the same time be above enjoyment, its master. Wisdom is thus no sober kill-joy. It means simply the ability to weigh and compound our pleasures well; the ability, while we seize the fleeting moment, at the same time, in full possession of ourselves, to look beyond the moment, foresee the consequences our acts will entail, and choose accordingly. Since, then, it is the part of wisdom to avoid pain, as well as to win pleasure, the life of purely sensuous enjoyment will have to be checked and moderated in some degree, in favor of the less intense, but safer, joys of the mind. We are not to suppose that there is any shame attaching to the life of the senses as such, or any higher law to which this is subordinate; “nothing is disgraceful in itself.” — The necessity is based merely on prudential grounds, because to the abuse of such bodily pleasures, more definite penalties are attached.

This conception of the end of life is known as Hedonism, and it never has been formulated more consistently and forcibly than in this statement of it first given by Aristippus. It is true that it affords no room for the play of those finer sentiments about the good and the just, the beauty of righteousness, the nobility of duty. But in compensation, it offers a well-defined view of life, with no nonsense about it, which lends itself to what is intellectually the simplest and most clear-cut of theories, and which, besides, appeals powerfully to the natural man. Of course, this cutting away of the roots of the moral sentiments also carries with it religion. Theodorus is known as the Atheist; and Euhemerus is the originator of a philosophy of religion on a naturalistic basis, in which the stories of the gods are carried back to historical events in the lives of human kings and heroes, misinterpreted by tradition — a theory which had great notoriety in ancient times.

Evidently, in all this, the really characteristic element in Socrates' thought has been lost. The universal factor in human life, on which Socrates had insisted in opposition to the Sophists, has no place in the Cyrenaic scheme. Pleasure is essentially an individual matter, and the Cyrenaics were too logical to try, as more modern Hedonists have done, to make it yield as a result the desirability of the common good — the greatest happiness of the greatest number. The pleasure which each man should seek for is, of course, his own. He is an individual looking out for number one, and beyond this has no obligations to society or the state. Society, therefore, again breaks up into a bundle of individual units. It is a mere name, with which the wise man will not concern himself. “I do not dream for a moment,” says Aristippus to Socrates, “of ranking myself in the class of those who wish to rule. In fact, considering how serious a business it is to cater for one's private needs, I look upon it as the mark of a fool not to be content with that, but to further saddle oneself with the duty of providing the rest of the community with whatever they may be pleased to want. Why, bless me, states claim to treat their rulers precisely as I treat my domestic slaves. I expect my attendants to furnish me with an abundance of necessaries, but not to lay a finger on one of them themselves. So these states regard it as the duty of a ruler to provide them with all the good things imaginable, but to keep his own hands off them all the while. So, then, for my part, if any one desires to have a heap of bother himself, and be a nuisance to the rest of the world, I will educate him in the manner suggested; but for myself, I beg to be enrolled amongst those who wish to spend their days as easily and pleasantly as possible.” So also Theodorus: “It is not reasonable that a wise man should hazard himself for his country, and endanger wisdom for a set of fools.”

The difficulty of this is, that the universe does not seem to be arranged for the purpose of enabling gentlemen to avoid all disagreeable duties, and live “as easily and pleas- antly as possible.” It is this logic of experience, which leads the Cyrenaics to a recognition of the impossibility of getting pleasure unmixed with pain, and so to a growing tendency to substitute mere freedom from pain, for positive happiness. This reaches its issue in the open pessimism of Hegesias. Hegesias feels so strongly how ill-calculated life is to yield even a balance of pleasure, except for the favored few, that he denies to it all value : “Life only appears a good thing to a fool, to the wise man it is indifferent.” He finds his only comfort in the utter painlessness of death; and he presents this thought so persuasively, that he is known as “Death-Persuader” — the inciter to death, or suicide.

The Story of Philosophy from Thales to Comte (Lewis)

By George Henry Lewis
Third Edition: Vol I Ancient Philosophy, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1867

AMONG the imperfect Socratics we must rank Aristippus, the founder of the Cyrenaic School, which borrowed its name from the birthplace of its founder — Cyrene, in Africa.

Aristippus was descended from wealthy and distinguished parents, and was thrown into the vortex of luxurious debauchery which then characterized the colony of Cyrene. He came over to Greece to attend the Olympic games; there he heard so much of the wisdom of Socrates that he determined on listening to his enchanting discourse. He made Socrates an offer of a large sum of money, which, as usual, was declined. The great Talker did not accept money; but he willingly admitted Aristippus among the number of his disciples. It is commonly asserted that the pupil did not agree well with his master, and that his fondness for pleasure was offensive to Socrates. There is no good authority for such an assertion. He remained with Socrates until the death of the latter; and there was no bond on either side to have prevented their separation as soon as they disagreed. The impression seems to have originated in the discussion reported by Xenophon, wherein Aristippus expresses his political indifference, and Socrates, by an exaggerated extension of logic, endeavors to prove his views to be absurd. But this is simply a divergence of opinion, such as must have existed between Socrates and many of his followers. It merely shows that Aristippus thought for himself. Socrates with such men as Aristippus and Alcibiades reminds one of Dr. Johnson with the 'young bloods': he was wise enough and tolerant enough not to allow his virtue to be scandalized by their love of pleasure.

From Athens Aristippus went to Aegina, where he met with Lais, the world-renowned courtesan, whom he accompanied to Corinth. On his way from Corinth to Asia he was shipwrecked on the island of Rhodes. On the sea-coast he discovered a geometrical diagram, and exclaimed, 'Take courage; I see here the footsteps of men.' On arriving at the principal town, he managed to procure for himself and friends a hospitable reception. He used to say, 'Send two men amongst strangers, and you will see the advantage of the philosopher.'

Aristippus was one of those but to strong sensual passions he united a calm regulative intellect. Prone to luxury, he avoided excess. Easy and careless in ordinary affairs, he had great dominion over his desires. Pleasure was his grand object in life; but he knew how to temper enjoyment with moderation. In disposition he was easy and yielding, a 'fellow of infinite mirth,' a philosopher whose brow was never 'sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought.' He had none of that dignity which mistakes a stiff neck for healthy virtue. He had no sternness. Gay, brilliant, careless, and enjoying, he became the ornament and delight of the Court of Dionysius; — that Court already illustrious by the splendid genius of Plato and the rigid abstinence of Diogenes. The grave deportment of Plato and the savage virtue of Diogenes had less charm for the Tyrant than the easy gaiety of Aristippus, whose very vices were elegant. His ready wit was often put to the test. On one occasion three courtesans were presented for him to make a choice : he took them all three, observing that it had been fatal even to Paris to make a choice. On another occasion, in a dispute with Aeschines, who was becoming violent, he said, 'Let us give over. We have quarreled, it is true, but I, as your senior, have a right to deem the precedence in the reconciliation'. In his old age he appears to have returned to Cyrene, and there opened his school.

His philosophy, as Hegel remarks, takes its color from his personality. So individual is it, that we should have passed it over entirely, had it not been a precursor of Epicureanism. Its relation to Socrates is also important.

In the only passage in which, as far as we know, Aristotle mentions Aristippus, he speaks of him as a Sophist. What does this mean? was he one of the professed Sophists? No. It means, we believe, that he shared the opinion of the Sophists respecting the uncertainty of Science. That he did share this opinion is evident from Sextus Empiricus,^ who details his reasons; such as, that external objects make different impressions on different senses; the names which we impose on these objects express our sensations, but do not express the things; there is no criterion of truth; each judges according to his impressions; none judge correctly.

In so far he was a Sophist; but, as the disciple of Socrates, he learned that the criterion of truth must be sought within. He dismissed with contempt all physical speculations, as subjects beyond human comprehension, and concentrated his researches upon the moral constitution of man.

Several of his repartees are recorded by Laertius. We add the best of them: Scinus, the treasurer of Dionysius, a man of low character but immense wealth, once showed Aristippus over his house. While he was expatiating on the splendour of every part, even to the floors, the philosopher spat in his face. Scinus was furious. 'Pardon me,' exclaimed Aristippus, 'there was no other place where I could have spat with decency'. One day, in interceding with the Tyrant for a friend, he threw himself on his knees. Being reproached for such want of dignity, he answered, 'Is it my fault if Dionysius has his ears in his feet?' One day he asked the Tyrant for some money. Dionysius made him own that a philosopher had no need of money. 'Give, give,' replied Aristippus, 'and we will settle the question at once.' Dionysius gave. 'Now' said the philosopher, 'I have no need of money.'

In so far he was a Socratic. But, although he took his main direction from Socrates, yet his own individuality quickly turned him into by-paths which his master would have shunned. His was not a scientific intellect. Logical deduction, which was the rigorous process of his master, suited neither his views nor his disposition. He was averse from abstract speculations. His tendency was directly towards the concrete. Hence, while Socrates was preaching about The Good, Aristippus wished to specify what it was; and resolved it into Pleasure. It was the pith and kernel of Socrates' Ethical system, that Happiness was the aim and desire of all men — the motor of all action; men only erred because of erroneous notions of what constituted Happiness. Thus the wise man alone knew that to endure an injury was better than to inflict it; he alone knew that immoderate gratification of the senses, being followed by misery, did not constitute Happiness, but the contrary. Aristippus thought this too vague. He not only reduced this general idea to a more specific one, namely. Pleasure; he endeavored to show how truth had its only criterion in the sensation of pleasure or of pain. Of that which is without us we can know nothing truly; we only know through our senses, and our senses deceive us with respect to objects. But our senses do not deceive us with respect to our sensations. We may not perceive things truly ; but it is true that we perceive. We may doubt respecting external objects ; we cannot doubt respecting our sensations. Amongst those sensations we naturally seek the repetition of such as are pleasurable, and shun those that are painful.

Pleasure, then, as the only positive good, and as the only positive test of what was good, he declared to be the end of life; but, inasmuch as for constant pleasure the soul must preserve its dominion over desires, this pleasure was only another form of the Socratic temperance. It is distinguished from the Socratic conception of Pleasure, however, in being positive, and not merely the gratification of a want. In the Phaedo, Socrates, on being released from his chains, reflects upon the intimate connection of pleasure and pain; and calls the absence of pain pleasure. Aristippus, on the contrary, taught that pleasure is not the mere removal of pain: they are both positive emotions; non-pleasure and non-pain are not emotions, but as it were the sleep of the soul.

In the application of this doctrine to ethics, Aristippus betrays both his Sophistic and Socratic education. With the Sophists he regarded pleasure and pain as the proper criteria of actions; no action being in itself either good or bad, but only such according to convention. With Socrates, however, he regarded the advantages acquired by injustice to be trifling; whereas the evils and apprehensions of punishment are considerable; and pleasure was the result, not of individual prosperity alone, but of the welfare of the whole State.

In reviewing the philosophy, such as it was, of Aristippus, we cannot fail to be struck with the manifest influence of Socrates; although his method was not followed, we see the ethical tendency predominating. In the Megaric School the abstract idea of The Good of Socrates, was grounded on the Eleatic conception of The One. In the Cyrenaic, the abstract conception was reduced to the concrete, Pleasure; and this became the only ground of certitude, and morals the only science. In the Cynic School we shall see a still further development in this direction.

History of Philosophy from Thales to the Present Time (Ueberweg)

By Dr. Friedrich Ueberweg, Late Professor of Philosophy in the University og Konigsberg
Translated to English by Geo. S. Morris, A.M., Professor of Philosophy in the University of Michigan
By the Editors of the Philosophical and Theological Library, Vol. I - History of the Ancient and Medieval: Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1891.

Aristippus of Cyrene, the founder of the Cyrenaic or Hedonic school, and termed by Aristotle a Sophist, sees in pleasure, which he defines as the sensation of gentle motion, the end of life. The sage aims to enjoy pleasure, without being controlled by it. Intellectual culture alone tits one for true enjoyment. 'No one kind of pleasure is superior to another; only the degree and duration of pleasure determines its worth. We can know only our sensations, not that which causes them.

The most eminent members of the Cyrenaic school were Arete, the daughter of Aristippus, and her son, Aristippus the younger, surnamed. the “mother-taught”, who first put the doctrine of Hedonism into systematic form, and was probably the author of the comparison of the three sensational conditions of trouble, pleasure, and indifference, to tempest, gentle wind, and sea calm, respectively; also Theodorus, surnamed the Atheist, who taught that the particular pleasure of the moment was indifferent, and that constant cheerfulness was the end sought by the true sage, and his scholars Bion and Euhemerus, who explained the belief in the existence of gods as having begun with the veneration of distinguished men; further, Hegesias, surnamed the “death-counseling” — who accepted the avoidance of trouble as the highest attainable good, despaired of positive happiness, and considered life to be intrinsically valueless, — and Anniceris (the younger), who again made the feeling of pleasure the end of life, but included in his system, in addition to idiopathic pleasure, the pleasure of sympathy, and demanded a partial sacrifice of the former to the latter.

Aristippus of Cyrene was led by the fame of Socrates to seek his acquaintance, and joined himself permanently to the circle of Socrates' disciples. In criticism of an (oral) utterance of Plato, which he thought to have been too confidently delivered, he is reported to have appealed to the more modest manner of Socrates (Arist., Rhet, II. 23). Perhaps, before the period of his intercourse with Socrates he had become familiar with the philosophy of Protagoras, of whose influence his doctrine shows considerable traces. The customs of his rich and luxurious native city were most likely of the greatest influence in determining him to the love of pleasure. That he, together with Cleombrotus, was absent in Aegina at the time of Socrates' death, is remarked by Plato {Phaedo, 59 c), obviously with reproachful intent. Aristippus is said to have sojourned often at the courts of the elder and younger Dionysius in Sicily; several anecdotes are connected with his residence there and his meeting with Plato, which, though historically uncertain, are at least not unhappily invented, and illustrate the accommodating servility of the witty Hedonist, occasionally in contrast with the uncompromising Parrhesia of the rigid moralist and idealist (Diog. L., 11. 78 et al). Aristippus seems to have taught in various places, and particularly in his native city. He first, among the companions of Socrates, imitated the Sophists in demanding payment for his instructions (Diog. L., II. 65). It is perhaps for this reason, but probably also on account of his doctrine of pleasure and his contempt for pure science, that Aristotle calls him a Sophist (Metaph., III. 2).

Aristippus was born about 435 BC, resided in Athens during a series of years commencing with 416, in 399 was in Aegina, in 389-388 was with Plato at the court of the elder Dionysius, and in 361 with the same at the court of the younger Dionysius, and, finally, after 356 was, apparently, again in Athens. Von Stein remarks, however (Gesch. des Platonismus, II., p. 61), on the uncertainty of the accounts on which these dates are founded. According to Diog. L., II. 83, Aristippus was older than Aeschines.

The fundamental features of the Cyrenaic doctrine are certainly due to Aristippus. Xenophon (Mem., II. 1) represents him as discussing them with Socrates; Plato refers probably to them in Bep., YI. 505 b (perhaps also in Gorg., 491 e, seq.), and most fully in the Philebus, although Aristippus is not there named. But the systematic elaboration of his doctrines seems to have been the work of his grandson, Aristippus “Mother-Taught”. Aristotle names, as representing the doctrine of pleasure, not Aristippus, but Eudoxus.

The principle of Hedonism is described in the dialogue Philebus. Pleasure is the sensation of gentle motion (Diog. L., II. 85). Violent motion produces pain, rest or very slight motion, indifference. That all pleasure belongs to the category of things becoming and not to that of things being, is mentioned by Plato in the dialogue Philebus (p. 53 c, cf. 42 d) as the correct observation of certain “elegants”, among whom Aristippus is probably to be understood as included. Yet the opposing of becoming to being is certainly not to be ascribed to Aristippus, but only probably the reduction of pleasure to motion, from which Plato drew the above conclusion. No pleasure, says Aristippus, is as such bad, though it may often arise from bad causes, and no pleasure is different from another in quality or worth (Diog. L., II. 87). Virtue is a good as a means to pleasure (Cic, De. Offic. III. 33, 116).

The Socratic element in the doctrine of Aristippus appears in the principle of self- determination directed by knowledge (the manner of life of the wise, says Aristippus, would experience no change, though all existing laws were abrogated, and in the control of pleasure as a thing to be acquired through knowledge and culture. The Cynics sought for independence through abstinence from enjoyment, Aristippus through the control of enjoyment in the midst of enjoyment. Thus Aristippus is cited by Stobaeus {Flor., 17, 18) as saying that “not he who abstains, but he who enjoys without being carried away, is master of his pleasures.” Similarly, in Diog. L., IJ. 75, Aristippus is said to live required his disciples “to govern, and not be governed by their pleasures.” The Cynic sage knows how to deal with himself, but Aristippus knows how to deal with men (Diog. L., YI. 6, 58 ; II. 68, 102). To enjoy the present, says the Cyrenaic, is the true business of man; only the present is in our power.

With the Hedonic character of the ethics of Aristippus corresponds, in his theory of cognition, the restriction of our knowledge to sensations. The Cyrenaics distinguished (according to Sext. Empir., Adv. Math., VII. 91 ) the affection, and the “thing in itself” which is external to us and affects us); the former exists in our consciousness of the “thing in itself,” on the contrary, we know nothing, except that it exists. “Whether the sensations of other men agree with our own, we do not know; the affirmative is not proved by the identity of names employed. The subjectivism of the Protagorean doctrine of knowl- edge finds in these propositions its consistent completion. It is improbable that the motive of ethical Hedonism was contained in this logical doctrine; that motive must rather be sought, in part, in the personal love of pleasure of Aristippus, and in part in the eudaemonistic element in the moral speculations of Socrates, which contained certain germs, not only for the doctrine of Antisthenes, but also for that of Aristippus (see, in particular, Xenophon, Memorab., I. 6. 7). The essence of virtue lies, according to Socrates, in knowledge, in practical insight. But it is asked, what is the object of this insight? If the reply is, the Good, then the second question arises, in what the Good consists. If it consists in virtue itself, the definition moves in a circle. If in the useful, the useful is relative and its value is determined by that for which it is useful. But what is this last something, in whose service the useful stands ? If Eudaemonia, then it must be stated in what the essence of Eudaemonia consists. The most obvious answer is Pleasure, and this answer was given by Aristippus, while the Cynics found no answer not involving them in the circle, and so did not advance beyond their objectless insight and aimless asceticism. Plato's answer was the Idea of the Good {Rep., Yl).

Later Cyrenaics (according to Sext. E., Adv. Math., YII. 11) divided their system of doctrines into five parts : 1) Concerning that which is to be desired and shunned (goods and evils; 2) Concerning the passions; 3) Concerning actions; 4) Concerning natural causes; 5) Concerning the guaranties of truth. Hence it appears that these later Cyrenaics also treated the theory of knowledge, not as the foundation, but rather as the complement of ethics.

As the control of pleasure aimed at by Aristippus was in reality incompatible with the principle that the pleasure of the moment is the highest good, some modifications in his doctrine could^not but arise. Accordingly we find Theodoras (Diog. L , II. 97 seq.), not, indeed, advancing to a principle specifically different from pleasure, but yet substituting for the isolated sensation a state of constant cheerfulness, as the “end” {teIos) But mere reflection on our general condition is not sufficient to elevate us above the changes of fortune, since our general condition is not under our control, and so Hegesias (Diog. L., II. 93 seq.) despaired altogether of attaining that result.

Anniceris the Younger {ibid. 96 seq. ; Clem., Strom,., II. 417 b.) sought to ennoble the Hedonistic principle, by reckoning among the things which afford pleasure, friendship, thankfulness, and piety toward parents and fatherland, social intercourse, and the strife after honors; yet he declared all labor for the benefit of others to be conditioned on the pleasure which our good will brings to ourselves. Later, Epicureanism reigned in the place of the Cyrenaic doctrine.

Euhemerus, who lived (300 B. c.) at the court of Cassander, and favored the principles of the Cyrenaic school, exerted great influence by his work, in which (according to. Cic, De Nat. Beorum, 1. 42; Sext. Empir^ Adv. Math., IX. IT, and others) he developed the opinion that the Gods (as also the Heroes) were distinguished men, to whom divine honors had been rendered after their death. In proof of this opinion he referred to the tomb of Zeus, which was then pointed out in Crete. It is indisputable that Euhemerism contains a partial truth, but unjustly generalized; not only historical events, but natural phenomena and ethical considerations, served as a basis for the myths of the Gods, and the form of the mythological conceptions of the ancients was conditioned on various psychological motives. The one-sided explanation of Euhemerus strips the myths of the most essential part of their religious character. But for this very reason it found a more ready hearing at a time when the power of the ancient religious faith over the minds of men was gone, and in the last centuries of antiquity it was favored by many, representatives of the new Christian faith.

History of Ancient Philosophy (Windelband)

By Dr. W. Windelband, Professor of Philosophy in the University of Strausborg
Translated by Herbert Ernest Cushman, PhD
From Second German Edition, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1899

The joyous wisdom of the life of the Cyrenaics formed the completest antithesis to the morose seriousness of the virtue of the Cynics. The leader of this school was Aristippus of Cyrene, a man of the world, who once belonged to the Socratic circle, but at other times led a wandering life as a Sophist. Through his daughter Arete his conception of life passed down to his grandson, the younger Aristippus. Soon after this the school branched on with the special interpretations which men like Theodorus the atheist, Anniceris, and Hegesias gave to the Aristippian principle. Among later representatives Euhemerus is to be mentioned.

The years of the birth and death of Aristippus cannot be very exactly determined; his life included years in the fifth and fourth centuries (435-360). When he was young he was influenced to come to Athens by the fame of Socrates, and often during the course of his life did he return to that city. That he for some time lived in Syracuse in the court of the older and younger Dionysius, that he probably met Plato there, cannot well be doubted. The founding of his school in his native city, the rich and luxurious Cyrene, occurred prob- ably at the end of his life, since all the known adherents to the school were considerably younger than he.

The technical development of the theory seems to have been completed by the grandson, of whom nothing further is known. Theodorus was driven out of his home, Cyrene, soon after the death of Alexander the Great. He lived in exile for some time in Athens and at the court of Egypt, but he returned finally to Cyrene. Anniceris and Hegesias were contemporaries of Ptolemaeus Lagi.

In his theory of life, Aristippus followed closely the teaching of Protagoras, just as Antisthenes followed the direction of Gorgias. Indeed he developed the relativism of the Protagorean theory of perception to a remarkably valuable psychology of the sense feelings. Sense perception instructs us only as to our own states and is not concerned with the causes of those states. The causes are not recognizable; our knowledge directs itself only to the changes of our own essence, and these alone concern us. Sensations, since they are a consciousness of our own condition, are always true. In this spirit the Cyrenaics assumed an attitude of skeptical indifference to natural science. They followed Protagoras in the individualistic turn of this theory when they asserted that the individual knows only his own sensations, and common nomenclature is no guarantee of similarity in the content of the thought.

That these epistemological investigations of the school of Aristippus were used for a basis of their ethics but did not evoke their ethics, is proved for the most part by the subordinate position which they received in the later systematizations of the school. According to Sextus Empiricus {Adv. math, VIL 11), the treatment at this time was divided into five parts : concern- ing good and evil ; concerning the states of the soul; concerning actions; concerning external causes; and, finally, concerning the criteria of truth.

However, the fundamental problem of the Cyrenaics (as of the Cynics) was that concerning the real happiness of man, and they emphasized simply the included moment of pleasure or displeasure in those states of mind to which knowledge is limited. As, however, Protagoras had referred the theoretic content of perception to differing corporeal motions, the Cyrenaics sought to derive also the affective tone of the same from the different states of motion of him perceiving. Gentle motion corresponds to pleasure, violent to displeasure, rest from motion to absence of pleasure and pain. Since now these three possibilities include the whole range of stimuli, there are only two, perhaps three: pleasant, unpleasant and the states of indifference between them. Since, however, among these three possible states, pleasure alone is worth striving for, is the only goal of the will, and accordingly is happiness or the Good itself. Whatever gives pleasure is good. Whatever creates displeasure is bad. All else is indifferent.

The question concerning the content of the concept of the Good, which was not really answered by Socrates, was answered by these Hedonists, in that they declared pleasure to be this content, and indeed all pleasures, whatever their occasion,^ to be indistinguishable. By this only the single momentary state of pleasure is meant. The highest, the only good, for these Hedonists was the enjoyment of the moment.

From these presuppositions the Hedonists concluded, with entire correctness, that the distinction of value between single feelings of pleasure is determined not by the content or the cause, but only by the intensity of the feelings. They asserted that the degree of intensity of the bodily feelings is greater than that of the spiritual feelings. The later Cyrenaics, particularly Theodorus, came therefore to the conclusion that the Wise Man need not regard himself restricted by law, convention, or indeed religious scruples, but he should so use things as to serve his pleasure best Here, again, the Sophistic antithesis between convention and nature is repeated, and the natural individual pleasurable feeling is taken as the absolute motive of action. Still more pronounced than in the degenerate phases of Cynicism appeared here the egoistic, naturalistic, and individualistic trait which is basal in the common problem of both theories. On the other hand, Anniceris sought later to temper this radicalism^ and to ennoble the desire for pleasure by emphasizing the enjoyment of friendship, of family life, and of social organization as more valuable. At the same time he did not lose sight of the egoistic fundamental principle, but only carefully refined it with this turn in its course, however, the Cyrenaic philosophy merged into Epicurean hedonism.

Virtue was, accordingly, for Aristippus identical with the ability to enjoy. The utility of science consists in directing men to the proper satisfaction. Right enjoyment is, however, only possible through reasonable self-control. Requisite insight for this frees us from prejudice, and teaches us how to use the goods of life in the most reasonable way. Above all else it gives to the Wise Man that security in himself by which he remains proof against weakly yielding to influences of the outer world. It teaches him, while in enjoyment, to remain master of himself and his surroundings. The problem for both Cynic and Cyrenaic was the attainment of this individual independence of the course of the world. The Cynic school sought independence in renunciation; the Cyrenaic in lord- ship over enjoyment, and Aristippus was right when he said that the latter was more difficult and more valuable than the former. In opposition to the Cynic ideal of renunciation of the world, the Cyrenaic drew, as his picture of the Wise Man, that of the perfected man of the world. He is susceptible to the enjoyment of life, he knows what animal satisfactions are, and how to prize spiritual joy, riches, and honor. In elevated spirit ho scrupulously makes use of men and things, but even then never forgets himself in his enjoyment. He remains lord of his appetites; he never wishes the impossible, and even in the few happy days of his existence he knows how to preserve victoriously the peace and serenity of his soul.

With these qualifications (reminding us of Socrates), Aristippus went beyond the principle of momentary enjoyment of pleasure when he, for example, explained activity as reprehensible if, on the whole, it yields more unpleasurableness than pleasure. He commended on this same ground that there be universal subordination to custom and law. Tbeodorus, then went still further, and sought to find the telos of mankind, not in individual satisfaction, but in serene disposition. This is also already a transition to the Epicurean conception.

If the principle that only educated men know how to enjoy happily verified itself in the temperament and circumstances of Aristippus, his school on the other hand drew another irresistible ~~- consequence from the hedonistic principle, viz., pessimism. If “pleasure is said to give value to life, the greater part of humanity fails of its purpose, and thus life becomes worthless. It was Hegesias who dissipated the theory of Aristippus with this doctrine. The desire for happiness cannot be satisfied,” he taught. No insight, no opulence, protects us from the pain which nature imposes on the body. The highest we can reach and even as telos strive for is painlessness, of which death most certainly assures us. The particular ethical teachings of Hegesias appear more nearly like the precepts of the Cynics than like many of the expressions of Aristippus.

The isolation of the individual shows itself in the hedonistic philosophers in their indifference to public life. Aristippus rejoiced that in his Sophistic wanderings no interest in politics infringed upon his personal freedom. Theodorus called the world his country, and said that patriotic sacrifice was a folly which the Wise Man is above. These all are sentiments in which the Cynics and Cyrenaics agree almost verbally, and in these the decline of Greek civilization was most characteristically expressed.

Religious beliefs are among the things which the Hedonists shoved one side with skeptical indifference. Freedom from religious prejudices seemed to them (Diog. Laert., II. 91) to be indispensable for the Wise Man. It is not related, however, that they set up in any way in opposition to positive religion another conception. Theodorus proclaimed his atheism quite openly. Euhemerus devised for an explanation of the belief in gods the theory to-day called after him, and often accepted in modem anthropology in many forms. According to this theory, the worship of the gods and heroes is developed from a reverence of rulers and otherwise remarkable men. (Cicero, De not. deor. L 42, 119; Sext. £mp. Ado. IX. 17.)

Outlines of the History of Greek Philosophy (Zellee)

By Edward Zellee; Translated by Sarah Francis Alleyne and Evelyn Abbott
New York: Henry Holy and Company, 1889

Aristippus of Cyrene, who, according to Diog. ii. 83, was older than Aeschines, and so, no doubt, somewhat older than Plato, appears to have become acquainted with the doctrines of Protagoras while yet resident in his native town. At a later time he sought out Socrates in Athens and entered into close relations with him. Yet he did not unconditionally renounce bis habits of life and views. After the death of Socrates, at which he was not present, he appears for a long time to have resided as a Sophist in various parts of the Grecian world, more especially at the court of Syracuse — whether under the elder or the younger Dionysius or both is not clear. In Cyrene he founded a school which was known as the Cyrenaic or Hedonistic. His daughter Arete and Antipater were members of it. Arete educated her son Aristippus in the doctrines of his grandfather. The pupil of Aristippus was Theodoras the atheist, and indirectly Hegesias and Anniceris were pupils of Antipater (all three about 320-280). Their contemporary Euemerus, the well-known common-place rationalist, is perhaps connected with the Cyrenaic school.

The systematic development of the Cyrenaic doctrine must be ascribed, in spite of Eusebius ('Praep. Evang.' xiv. 18, 31), to the elder Aristippus. This is proved partly by the unity of the school, and partly by the reference to the doctrine in Plato ('Phileb.' 42 D f.; 53 C) and Speusippus, who, according to Diogenes (iv. 5), composed an 'Aristippus.' So far as any indications go, at least a part of the writings ascribed to Aristippus were genuine. Like Antisthenes, Aristippus measured the value of knowledge by its practical usefulness. He despised mathematics, because they did not inquire what is wholesome or harmful; he considered physical investigations to be without object or value; and of discussions concerning the theory of knowledge he only adopted what was of use in establishing his ethics. Our perceptions, he said, following Protagoras, instruct us only about our own feelings, not about the quality of things or the feelings of other men; and therefore it was justifiable to gather the law of action from subjective feelings only. But all feeling consists in motion (Protagoras); if the motion is gentle the result is pleasure; if rough or hasty, the result is pain; if no motion takes place, or but a slight motion, we feel neither pleasure nor pain. That of these three conditions pleasure alone is desirable, that the good coincides with the pleasant, and the bad with the unpleasant, Aristippus believed to be declared to everyone by the voice of nature. Thus the crowning principle of his ethics is the conviction that all our actions must be directed to the object of gaining for us as much plea* sure as possible. By pleasure Aristippus does not, like Epicurus after him, think only of repose of spirit, for this would be the absence of any feeling but of positive enjoyment. Even happiness, as a state, cannot, in his opinion, be the object of our life, for only the present belongs to us, the future it uncertain, and the past is gone.

What kind of things or actions bring us pleasure is indifferent, for every pleasure as such is a good. Yet the Cyrenaics would not contend that there was not a distinction of degrees among enjoyments. Nor did they overlook the fact that many of them were purchased by far greater pain, and from these they dissuaded their followers. Finally, though the feelings of bodily pain and pleasure are the more original and potent, they were aware that they were pleasures which did not arise immediately out of bodily conditions. Along with this they recognised the necessity of correctly estimating the relative value of various goods and enjoyments. This decision, on which depends all the art of living, we owe to prudence or philosophy. It is this which shows us what use we are to make of the goods of life, it liberates us from fancies and passions which disturb the happiness of life, it qualifies us to apply everything in the manner best suited for our welfare. It is therefore the first condition of all happiness.

Agreeably with these principles Aristippus proceeded, in his rules of life and in his conduct — so far as tradition allows us to judge of this — in a thoroughgoing manner to enjoy life as much as possible. But under all circumstances he remained master of himself and his life. He is not merely the capable man of the world, who is never at a loss when it is needful to provide the means of enjoyment (occasionally in an unworthy manner), or to find a witty and clever turn in cider to defend his conduct. He is also the superior mind, which can adapt itself to every situation, extract the best from everything, secure his own cheerfulness and contentment by limiting his desires, by prudence and self-control. He met his fellow-men in a gentle and kindly spirit; and in his later years certainly sought to withdraw himself from civic life (as in Xen. Mem.' ii. 1), in order to lose nothing of his independence. He had the warmest veneration for his great teacher; and in the value which he ascribed to insight (prudence), in the cheerfulness and inward freedom which he gained by it, we cannot fail to recognise the influence of the Socratic spirit. Yet his doctrine of pleasure, and his search after enjoyment, in spite of the extent to which they rested on the foundation of the Socratic ethics, are opposed essentially to the teaching of his master, just as his sceptical despair of knowledge contradicts the concept-philosophy of Socrates.

In the Cyrenaic school this contradiction of the elements contained in it came to the surface in the changes which were made in the doctrine of Aristippus about the beginning of the third century. Theodoras professed himself an adherent of the school, and from their presuppositions he deduced the extreme consequences with cynical recklessness. But in order to render the happiness of the wise man independent of external circumstances, he sought to place it, not in particular enjoyments, but in a gladsome frame of mind, of which insight had the control. Hegesias had such a lively sense of the evil of life that he despaired of any satisfaction in positive enjoyment, and passing beyond Theodoras he found the highest object of life in keeping himself clear of pain and pleasure by indifference to all external things. Finally Anniceris, though he would not give up the doctrine of pleasure as a principle, placed essential limitations upon it, when he ascribed so high a value to friendship, gratitude, love of family and country, that the wise man would not shrink from sacrifices on their account.

Lectures on the History of Philosophy (Hegel)

By Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Translated from German by E. S. Halda
Volume 1 of 3
London: Keg an Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co. Ltd., 1892
Library of the Leland Stanford Jr. University, 1900

The Oyrenaics took their name from Aristippus of Cyrene in Africa, the originator and head of the school. Just as Socrates wished to develop himself as an individual, his disciples, or those of the Cyrenaic and Cynic Schools, made individual life and practical philosophy their main object. Now if the Cyrenaics did not rest content with the determination of good in general, seeing that they inclined to place it in the enjoyment of the individual, the Cynics appear to be opposed to the whole doctrine, for they expressed the particular content of satisfaction as natural desires in a determination of negativity with regard to what is done by others. But as the Cyrenaics thereby satisfied their particular subjectivity, so also did the Cynics, and both schools have hence on the whole the same end — the freedom and independence of the individual. Because we are accustomed to consider happiness, which the Cyrenaics made the highest end of man, to be contentless, because we obtain it in a thousand ways, and it may be the result of most various causes, this principle appears at first to us as trivial, and indeed, generally speaking, it is so; we are likewise accustomed to believe that there, is something higher than pleasure. The philosophic development of this principle which, for the rest, has not much in it, is mainly ascribed to Aristippus' follower, Aristippus the younger. But Theodorus, Hegesias, and Anniceris, of the later Cyrenaics, are specially mentioned as having scientifically worked out the Aristippian principle, until it degenerated and merged into Epicureanism. But the consideration of the further progress of the Cyrenaic principle is specially interesting because this progression, in the essential nature of things, is carried quite beyond the principle, and has really abrogated it. Feeling is the indeterminate individual. But if thought, reflection, mental culture, are given a place in this principle, through the principle of the universality of thought that principle of contingency, individuality, mere subjectivity, disappears; and the only really remarkable thing in this school is that this greater consistency in the universal is therefore an inconsistency as regards the principle.

a. Aristippus.

Aristippus went about with Socrates for a long time, and educated himself under him, although at the same time he was a strong and highly cultivated man before he sought out Socrates at all. He heard of him either in Cyrene or at the Olympian Games, which, as Greeks, the Cyrenians likewise visited. His father was a merchant, and he himself came to Athens on a journey which had commerce as its object. He was first amongst the Socratics to ask money of those whom he instructed; he also sent money to Socrates, who, however, returned it. He did not content himself with the general expressions, good and beautiful, to which Socrates adhered, but took existence reflected in consciousness in its extreme determinateness as individuality; and because universal existence, as thought, was to him, from the side of reality, individual consciousness, he fixed on enjoyment as the only thing respecting which man had rationally to concern himself. The character and personality of Aristippus is what is most important, and what is preserved to us in his regard is his manner and life rather than his philosophic doctrines. He sought after enjoyment as a man of culture, who in that very way had raised himself into perfect indifference to all that is particular, all passions and bonds of every kind. When pleasure is made the principle, we immediately have the idea before us that in its enjoyment we are dependent, and that enjoyment is thus opposed to the principle of freedom. But neither of the Cyrenaic teaching, nor the Epicurean, whose principle is on the whole the same, can this be stated. For by itself the end of enjoyment may well be said to be a principle in opposition to Philosophy; but when it is considered in such a way that the cultivation of thought is made the only condition under which enjoyment can be attained, perfect freedom of spirit is retained, since it is inseparable from culture. Aristippus certainly esteemed culture at its highest, and proceeded from this position — that pleasure is only a principle for men of philosophic culture; his main principle thus was that what is found to be pleasant is not known immediately but only by reflection.

Aristippus lived in accordance with these principles, and what in him interests us most is the number of anecdotes about him, because they contain traces of a mentally rich and free disposition. Since in his life he went about to seek enjoyment, not without understanding (and thereby he was in his way a philosopher), he sought it partly with the discretion which does not yield itself to a momentary happiness, because a greater evil springs therefrom; and partly (as if philosophy were merely preservation from anxiety) without that anxiety which on every side fears possible evil and bad results; but above all without any dependence on things, and without resting on anything which is itself of a changeable nature. He enjoyed, says Diogenes, the pleasures of the moment, without troubling himself with those which were not present; he suited himself to every condition, being at home in all; he remained the same whether he were in regal courts or in the most miserable conditions. Plato is said to have told him that it was given to him alone to wear the purple and the rags. He was specially attached to Dionysius, being very popular with him; he certainly clung to him, but always retained complete independence. Diogenes, the Cynic, for this reason called him the royal dog. When he demanded fifty drachms from someone who wished to hand over to him his son, and the man found the sum too high, saying that he could buy a slave for it, Aristippus answered, “Do so, and you will have two.” When Socrates asked him, “How do you have so much money?” he replied, “How do you have so little?” When a courtesan said to him that she had a child by him, he replied, “You know as little whether it is mine as, were you walking through briars, would you know which thorn pricked you.” A proof of his perfect indifference is given in the following: When Dionysius once spat at him, he bore it patiently, and when blamed, said, “The fishermen let themselves be wet by the sea to catch the little fish, and I, should I not bear this to catch such a good one?” When Dionysius asked him to choose one of three courtesans, he took them all with him, observing that it had been a dangerous thing even to Paris to choose out one; but after leading them to the vestibule of the house, he let all three go. He made nothing of the possession of money as contrasted with the results which appear to follow from pursuing pleasure, and hence he wasted it on dainties. He once bought a partridge at fifty drachma (about twenty florins). When someone rebuked him, he asked, “Would you not buy it for a farthing?” And when this was acknowledged, he answered, “Now fifty drachms are no more than that to me.” Similarly in journeying in Africa, the slave thought it hard to be troubled with a sum of money. When Aristippus knew this he said, “Throw away what is too much and carry what you can.”

As regards the value of culture, he replied to the question as to how an educated man differs from an uneducated, that a stone would not fit in with the other, i.e. the difference is as great as that of a man from the stone. This is not quite wrong, for man is what he ought to be as man, through culture; it is his second nature through which he first enters into possession of that which he has by nature, and thus for the first time he is Mind. We may not, however, think in this way of our uncultured men, for with us such men through the whole of their condition, through customs and religion, partake of a source of culture which places them far above those who do not live in such conditions. Those who carry on other sciences and neglect Philosophy, Aristippus compares to the wooers of Penelope in the Odyssey, who might easily have Melantho and the other maidens, but who could not obtain the queen.

The teaching of Aristippus and his followers is very simple, for he took the relation of consciousness to existence in its most superficial and its earliest form, and expressed existence as Being as it is immediately for con- sciousness, i.e. as feeling simply. A distinction is now made between the true, the valid, what exists in and for itself, and the practical and good, and what ought to be our end but in regard to both the theoretic and practical truth, the Cyrenaics make sensation what determines. Hence their principle is more accurately not the objective itself, but the relation of consciousness to the objective; the truth is not what is in sensation the content, but is itself sensation, it is not objective, but the objective subsists only in it. Thus the Cyrenaics say, sensations form the real criterion; they alone can be known and are infallible, but what produces feeling is neither knowable nor infallible. Thus when we perceive a white and sweet, we may assert this condition as ours with truth and certainty. But that the causes of these feelings are themselves a white and sweet object we cannot with certainty affirm. What these men say about ends is also in harmony with this, for sensations also extend to ends. The sensations are either pleasant or unpleasant or neither of the two. Now they call the unpleasant feelings the bad the end of which is pain; the pleasant is the good whose invariable end is happiness. Thus feelings are the criteria of knowledge and the ends for action. We live because we follow them from testimony received and satisfaction experienced, the former in accordance with theoretic intuitions, and the latter with what gives us pleasure. That is to say, as end, feeling is no longer a promiscuous variety of sensuous affections, but the setting up of the Notion as the positive or negative relation to the object of action, which is just the pleasant or the unpleasant.

Here we enter on a new sphere where two kinds of determinations constitute the chief points of interest; these are everywhere treated of in the many Socratic schools which were being formed, and though not by Plato and Aristotle, they were specially so by the Stoics, the new Academy, &c. That is to say, the one point is determination itself in general, the criterion ; and the second is what determination for the subject is. And thus the idea of the wise man results — what the wise do, who the wise are, &c. The reason that these two expressions are now so prominent is one which rests on what has gone before. On the one hand the main interest is to find a content for the good, for else men may talk about it for years. This further definition of the good is just the criterion. On the other hand the interest of the subject appears, and that is the result of the revolution in the Greek mind made by Socrates. When the religion, constitution, laws of a people, are held in esteem, and when the individual members of a people are one with them, the question of what the individual has to do on his own account, will not be put. In a moralized, religious condition of things we are likely to find the end of man in what is present, and these morals, religion and laws are also present in him. When, on the contrary, the individual exists no longer in the morality of his people, no longer has his substantial being in the religion, laws, &c., of his land, he no longer finds what he desires, and no longer satisfies himself in his present. But if this discord Has arisen, the individual must immerse himself in himself, and there seek his end. Now this is really the cause that the question of what is the essential for the individual arises. After what end must he form himself and after that strive. Thus an ideal for the individual is set up, and this is the wise man: what was called the ideal of the wise man is the individuality of self-consciousness which is conceived of as universal essence. The point of view is the same when we now ask. What can I know? What should I believe? What ought I to hope? What is the highest interest of the subject? It is not what is truth, right, the universal end of the world, for instead of asking about the science of the implicitly and explicitly objective, the question is what is true and right in as far as it is the insight and conviction of the individual, his end and a mode of his existence? This talk about wise men is universal amongst the Stoics, Epicureans, &c., but is devoid of meaning. For the wise man is not in question, but the wisdom of the universe, real reason. A third definition is that the universal is the good; the real side of things is enjoyment and happiness as a simple existence and immediate actuality. How then do the two agree? The philosophic schools which now arise and their successors have set forth the harmony of both determinations, which are the higher Being and thought.

6. Theodorus.

Of the later Cyrenaics, Theodorus must be mentioned first; he is famous for having denied the existence of the gods, and being, for this reason, banished from Athens. Such a fact can, however, have no further interest or speculative significance, for the positive gods which Theodorus denied, are themselves not any object of speculative reason. He made himself remarkable besides for introducing the universal more into the idea of that which was existence for consciousness, for he made joy and sorrow the end, but in such a way that the former pertained to the understanding and the latter to want of understanding. He defined the good as understanding and justice, and the bad as the opposite; enjoyment and pain, however, were indifferent. When we reach the consciousness that the individual sensuous feeling, as it is immediately, is not to be considered as real existence, it is then said that it must be accepted with understanding; i.e. feeling, just as it is, is not reality. For the sensuous generally, as sensation, theoretic or practical, is something quite indeterminate, this or that unit ; a criticism of this unit is hence required, i.e, it must be considered in the form of universality, and hence this last necessarily reappears. But this advance on individuality is culture, which, through the limitation of individual feelings and enjoyments, tries to make these harmonious, even though it first of all only calculates as to that by which the greater pleasure is to be found. Now, to the question as to which of the many enjoyments which I, as a many-sided man, cau enjoy, is the one which is in completest harmony with me, and in which I thus find the greatest satisfaction, it must be replied that the completest harmony with me is only found in the accordance of my particular existence and consciousness with my actual substantial Being. Theodorus comprehended this as understanding and justice, in which we know where to seek enjoyment. But when it is said that felicity must be sought by reflection, we know that these are empty words and thoughtless utterances. For the feeling in which felicity is contained, is in its conception the individual, self-changing, without universality and subsistence. Thus the universal, understanding, as an empty form, adheres to a content quite incongruous with it; and thus Theodorus distinguished the Good in its form, from the end as the Good in its nature and content.

c. Heqesias.

It is remarkable that another Cyrenaic, Hegesias, recognized this incongruity between sensation and universality, which last is opposed to the individual, having what is agreeable as well as disagreeable within itself. Because, on the whole, he took a firmer grasp of the universal and gave it a larger place, there passed from him all determination of individuality, and with it really the Cyrenaic principle. It came to his knowledge that individual sensation is in itself nothing; and, as he nevertheless made enjoyment his end, it became to him the universal. But if enjoyment is the end, we must ask about the content; if this content is investigated, we find every content a particular which is not in conformity with the universal, and thus falls into dialectic. Hegesias followed the Cyrenaic principle as far as to this consequence of thought. That universal is contained in an expression of his which would often enough hear echoed, “There is no perfect happiness. The body is troubled with manifold pains, and the soul suffers along with it; it is hence a matter of indifference whether we choose life or death. In itself nothing is pleasant or unpleasant.” That is to say, the criterion of being pleasant or unpleasant, because its universality is removed, is thus itself made quite indeterminate; and because it has no objective determinateness in itself, it has become unmeaning; before the universal, which is thus held secure, the sum of all determinations, the individuality of consciousness as such, disappears, but with it even life itself as being unreal.” The rarity, novelty, or excess of enjoyment begets in some cases enjoyment and in others discontent. Poverty and riches have no meaning for what is pleasant, since we see that the rich do not enjoy pleasures more than the poor. Similarly, slavery and liberty, noble and ignoble birth, fame and lack of fame, are equivalent as regards pleasure. Only to a fool can living be a matter of moment; to the wise man it is indifferent, and he is consequently independent. The wise man acts only after his own will, and he considers none other equally worthy. For even if he attain from others the greatest benefits, this does not equal what he gives himself. Hegesias and his friends also take away sensation, because it gives no sufficient knowledge, which really amounts to skepticism. They say further that we ought to do what we have reason to believe is best. The sinner should be forgiven, for no one willingly sins, but is conquered by a passion. The wise man does not hate, but instructs; his endeavours go not so much to the attainment of good, as to the avoidance of evil, for his aim is to live without trouble and sorrow. This universality, which proceeds from the principle of the freedom of the individual self-consciouness, Hegesias expressed as the condition of the perfect indifference of the wise men — an indifference to everything into which we shall see all philosophic systems of the kind going forth, and which is a surrendering of all reality, the complete withdrawal of life into itself. It is told that Hegesias, who lived in Alexandria, was not allowed to teach the Ptolemies of the time, because he inspired many of his hearers with such indifference to life that they took their own.

d. Anniceris.

We also hear of Anniceris and his followers, who, properly speaking, departed from the distinctive character of the principle of the Cyrenaic school, and thereby gave philosophic culture quite another direction. It is said of them that they acknowledged friendship in common life, along with gratitude, honour to parents, and service for one's country. And although the wise man has, by so doing, to undergo hardship and work, he can still be happy, even if he therein obtains few pleasures. Friendships are not to be formed on utilitarian grounds alone, but because of the good will that develops; and out of love to friends, even burdens and difficulties are to be undertaken. The universal, the theoretically speculative element in the school, is thus lost; it sinks more into what is popular. This is then the second direction which the Cyrenaic school has taken; the first was the overstepping of the principle itself. A method of philosophizing in morals arises, which later on prevailed with Cicero and the Peripatetics of his time, but the interest has disappeared, so far as any consistent system of thought is concerned.

Source Book in Ancient Philosophy (Bakewell)

By Charles M. Bakewell
Professor of Philosophy in Yale University
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1909
Published September 1907

The Cyrenaics said that the feelings were the criteria of truth, that they alone could be apprehended and were not misleading. On the other hand the causes of the feelings, one and all, are incomprehensible and the source of false opinion. For whenever we experience a white color or a sweet taste we can speak without fear of being misled or refuted; but what it is that causes the feeling white or sweet, that we cannot tell.

It is not the man who abstains who is pleasure's master, but rather the man who enjoys pleasure without being completely carried off his feet. Just as in the case of a ship or a horse one does not show one's mastery by refraining from use, but by knowing how to direct them whithersoever he will.

But Aristippus was a man very quick at adapting himself to every kind of place, and time, and person, and he easily supported every change of fortune. For which reason he was in greater favor with Dionysius than any of the others, as he always made the best of existing circumstances. For he enjoyed what was before him pleasantly, and he did not toil to procure himself the enjoyment of what was not present. On which account Diogenes used to call him the king's dog. And Timon used to snarl at him as too luxurious, speaking somewhat in this fashion :

Like the effeminate mind of Aristippus,

Who, as he said, by touch could judge of falsehood. These men then who continued in the school of Aristippus, and were called Cyrenaics, adopted the following opinions: They said that there were two emotions of the mind, pleasure and pain; that the one, namely pleasure, was a moderate emotion; the other, namely pain, a rough one. And that no one pleasure was different from or more pleasant than another; and that pleasure was praised by all living things. They said also that pleasure belonged to the body, and constituted its chief good; …. but the pleasure which they call the chief good is not that pleasure as a state which consists in the absence of all pain and is a sort of undisturbedness, which is what Epicurus admits as such; for the Cyrenaics think that there is a distinction between the chief good and a use of happiness, for that the chief good is a particular pleasure, but that happiness is a state consisting of a number of particular pleasures, among which both those which are past and those which are future are enumerated. And they consider that the particular pleasure is desirable for its own sake; but that happiness is desirable not for its own sake, but for that of the particular pleasure. And that the proof that pleasure is the chief good is that we are from our childhood attracted to it without any deliberate choice of our own; and that when we have obtained it, we do not seek anything further, and also that there is nothing which we avoid so much as we do its opposite, which is pain. And they assert, too, that pleasure is a good, even if it arises from the most unbecoming causes; …. for even if an action be ever so absurd, still the pleasure which arises out of it is desirable, and a good. Moreover, the banishment of pain, as it is called by Epicurus, appears to the Cyrenaics not to be pleasure; neither is the absence of pleasure pain, for both pleasure and pain consist in motion; and neither the absence of pleasure nor the absence of pain is motion. In fact, absence of pain is a condition like that of a person asleep. They say also that it is possible that some persons may not desire pleasure, owing to some perversity of mind. They hold that the pleasures and pains of the mind do not all originate in pleasures and pains of the body, for pleasure often arises from the mere fact of the prosperity of one's country, or from one's own; but they deny that pleasure is caused by either the recollection or the anticipation of good fortune — though Epicurus asserted that it was — for the motion of the mind is put an end to by time. They say, too, that pleasure is not caused by simple seeing or hearing. Accordingly we listen with pleasure to those who give a representation of lamentations; but we are pained when we see men lamenting in reality. And they called the absence of pleasure and of pain intermediate states; and asserted that corporeal pleasures were superior to mental ones, and corporeal sufferings worse than mental ones. And they argued that it was on this principle that offenders were punished with bodily pain; for they thought that to suffer pain was hard, but that to be pleased was more in harmony with the nature of man, on which account also they took more care of the body than of the mind.

And although pleasure is desirable for its own sake, still they admit that some of the efficient causes of it are often troublesome, and as such opposite to pleasure; so that they think that an assemblage of all the pleasures which produce happiness is the most difficult thing conceivable. . . . They left out all investigation of the subjects of natural philosophy, because of the evident impossibility of comprehending them; but they applied themselves to the study of logic, because of its utility. . . , They also taught that there was nothing naturally and intrinsically just, or honorable, or disgraceful; but that things were considered so because of law and fashion. The good man will do nothing out of the way, because of the punishments which are imposed on, and the dis- credit which is attached to, such actions: and that the good man is a wise man.

History of Philosophy (Turner)

By William Turner, S.T.D.
Boston and London: Ginn and Company Publishers, 1903

Cyrenaic School. This school is called Hedonistic from the prominence which it gave to the doctrine that pleasure is the only good; it is also called Cyrenaic from the city of Cyrene, where it first appeared.


Life. Aristippus, to whom the fundamental doctrines of the school are traced, was born at Cyrene about the year 435 BC. This date, however, is by no means certain. Attracted by the personal character of Socrates, he went to Athens in order to become a member of the Socratic school; he had previously made acquaintance with the doctrines of the Sophists through the writings of Protagoras. After the death of Socrates, he taught in several cities; indeed, he seems to have spent a great part of his life wandering about without any fixed abode, although it is probable that in his old age he returned to his native city and there established his school. Among the disciples of Aristippus, the best known are his daughter Arete and his grandson Aristippus the Younger, or the mother-taught.

Sources. The history of the Cyrenaic philosophy, like that of the teaching of the Cynics, is based on secondary authorities, chiefly on the works of Diogenes [Laertius], Cicero, Sextus Empiricus, and Clement of Alexandria. We possess none of the writings of the earlier Cyrenaics. Indeed, it is sometimes even questioned whether it was Aristippus, the founder of the school, or his grandson, the mother-taught, who first reduced the Cyrenaic doctrines to a system.


The attitude of the Cyrenaics towards the study of logic and physics was one of hostility. They agreed with the Cynics in regarding all speculation as idle, unless it had reference to the study of ethics, by which the happiness of man is secured, but they differed from them in their attempt to define the nature of happiness. For the Cynic, virtue is the only happiness; for the Cyrenaic, pleasure is a good in itself, and virtue is good only as a means to enjoyment.

The central doctrine of Hedonism is, therefore, that pleasure and pleasure alone constitutes the happiness of man. For, the Cyrenaic argued, after the manner of Protagoras, that is true which seems to be true: we can know only the feelings or impressions which things produce upon us; of things in themselves we can know nothing. The production, therefore, of certain feelings is all that we can accomplish by action. Consequently, that is good which can produce in us the most pleasant feelings.

Pleasure was defined by the Cyrenaics as gentle motion. It is, however, at least an inaccuracy on Cicero's part when he says that by pleasure the Cyrenaics understood mere bodily pleasure. Aristippus explained his pleasure doctrine in terms which are descriptive of mental emotion as well as of bodily enjoyment. It is true that the Cyrenaics spoke of pleasure as consisting in gentle motion. Our word emotion would, perhaps, convey their meaning much better than the word commonly employed. On the other hand, it must be admitted that, according to Cyrenaic principles, all pleasure is conditioned by bodily pleasure, or at least by organic states. This is implied in the theory of knowledge which the Cyrenaics derived from the teaching of Protagoras. We must be careful, moreover, to distinguish between the Hedonism of Aristippus, who by “pleasure” denoted a passing emotion, and the Hedonism of his later followers, who understood by “pleasure” something akin to the Epicurean notion of a state, or permanent condition, of painlessness.

Pleasure, then, is the only good. Knowledge, culture, and even virtue are desirable only as means by which pleasure is attained. Virtue restrains us from that excess of emotion which is passion : passion, being violent, is painful and, on that account, to be avoided. We should possess our pleasures without being possessed by them. So, too, a man of sense will obey the laws of the country and conform to the usages of society because he judges that his failure to do so would result in a preponderance of pain over pleasure.

Diogenes Laertius gives an account of the later Cyrenaics who, like Theodorus and Hegesias, deemed it necessary to tone down the crudities of Hedonism as taught by Aristippus. Theodorus maintained that man's highest happiness is a state of cheerfulness while Hegesias, called the Death-Persuader, taught that the aim of man's actions should be to attain a state of indifference to all external things. In this final form it was easy for Hedonism to pass over into the Stoic school.

Historical Position. The development of the Cyrenaic philosophy, like that of the Cynic doctrine, was due more to the personal character of the founder of the school and to the social atmosphere of the city where the school was founded than to the requirements of the Socratic system from which it arose. Socrates, it is true, taught that happiness is the aim of action but the doctrine that happiness consists in momentary pleasure is Socraticism woefully perverted. “Know thyself” was the gist of Socratic teaching. “Yes, know thyself,” taught Aristippus, “in order that thou mayest know to what extent thou canst indulge in the pleasures of life without exceeding the limit where pleasure becomes pain.” The application is, surely, more in accord with the materialistic subjectivism of the Sophists than with the Socratic principles from which the Cyrenaic philosophy claimed to be derived.

Retrospect. The imperfectly Socratic schools grew up side by side, without any affiliation to one another. They are thus relatively independent, each carrying out along its own line of development some point of Socratic teaching. They are essentially incomplete, because they are based on an imperfect understanding of the spirit of Socratic philosophy. Still, their influence, immediate and mediate, on subsequent thought must not be underestimated. The Megarians, in their doctrine of bodiless forms, foreshadowed the Platonic theory of Ideas, and both Antisthenes and Aristippus influenced the Platonic doctrine of the highest good. But important as was their immediate influence, the mediate influence of these schools was still more important. The age of Socrates was one that called for great constructive efforts; it was an age that could appreciate Plato and Aristotle, rather than Aristippus and Antisthenes. Later, however, there came a time when the political condition of Greece was such that men could well be persuaded to withdraw from the world of sense, from the problems of Being and Becoming, in order to adopt a self-centralized culture as the only means of happiness. It was then that the influence of the imperfectly Socratic schools was felt. The Stoa adopted substantially the moral teachings of the Cynics, the Scepticism of Pyrrho and the Academies sprang from the doctrines of the Megarians, while the school of Epicurus renewed hedonistic ethics by teaching a system identical in its principal tenets with the philosophy of the Cyrenaics.

There is thus no continuity of development through these intercalary schools to Plato and Aristotle. Plato, entering into the spirit of Socratic philosophy more fully than the imperfect disciples had done, expanded the Socratic doctrine of concepts into the theory of Ideas, and gave to Socratic ethics a broader foundation and a more enduring consistency.

Hedonistic Theories from Aristippus to Spencer (Watson)

By John Watson LL.D., Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Queen's College, Kingston, Canada
London and New York: MacMillian and Co.

In the former chapter I tried to explain the character of the Greek as distinguished from the modem State, and to show how it was that the Sophists came to have so great an influence on Greek thought. The Greek State was a city, not a nation. It was an organic unity, but a unity of a comparatively simple character. As there was in it no distinction of religion and politics, social and individual morality, doubt of the laws and customs of a particular State led to doubt of all the most cherished beliefs of the people. Even among ourselves the plain man, who has been accustomed to regard morality as resting upon divine enactment, feels as if he were cut loose from his moorings and were drifting helplessly into an unknown sea, when doubt is cast upon some article of his religious faith, or when a fundamental law of society, as it has hitherto existed, is called in question. Beliefs that are supposed to rest upon external authority seem to lose all their sacredness and validity when that authority is denied. Hence the Sophists, in maintaining that morality did not rest upon divine authority but upon the arbitrary will of the people, seemed to the Greek of a conservative type to be the tearing up of society from its roots, and to be opening a way for absolute anarchy. At the same time the natural progress of the Greek people, and especially of Athens, the most enlightened of all Greek States, had unconsciously prepared the soil for scepticism, otherwise the Sophists would soon have found Athens too hot for them, and would have been compelled, like several of the earlier philosophers who denied the popular religion, to beat a hasty retreat.

What view, then, are we to take of the teaching of the Sophists? Must we regard their scepticism as an unmixed evil? I have already indicated that, in my opinion, the work they did was a work that had to be done. If progress is to be made, men's uncritical belief in what is must be shaken to its centre. The negative or critical movement of thought is as essential as the positive or constructive. First constructive, next destructive, and then reconstructive is the triple movement by means of which man has developed. At the same time we cannot bless the Sophists altogether. Their scepticism in regard to external authority was justifiable, not so their contentment with scepticism as the last word. We may even say that they were not thorough enough in their scepticism. It was good to deny the absoluteness of the laws and customs of this or that State, but it was not good to base morality upon a new sort of external authority, the arbitrary agreement of a particular people. The next step must therefore be to work out to its legitimate issue the principle that law and morality are the pro- duct of the individual will and to prove an articulate theory of conduct on that basis.

This was attempted by the Cyrenaics, the intellectual heirs of the Sophists. The views of the Sophists were not put into a definite and well defined shape, and that is one of the reasons why Grote has been able to show, with a good deal of plausibility, that they had no common philosophical creed, but were merely men of unusual culture and intelligence, who devoted themselves to the task of teaching the young. It is quite true that they did not form a school of philosophy in the same sense in which we can speak of the school of Plato, or Locke, or Kant. There were no precisely formulated principles on which all were agreed, and by which each was willing to be tested. But the want of such definite principles is one of the charges which we bring against them. They were sceptical without clearly apprehending how sceptical they really were. There is no difficulty in finding a modern parallel. Many a clever newspaper editor or magazine writer will tell you that he does not trouble himself to find any philosophical basis for morality or religion, not seeing that he is virtually committing himself to the indefensible position, that society and conduct rest upon no foundation of ascertainable truth. For if, as is implied, it is hopeless to seek for truth, is it not plain that all is a matter of individual opinion, and that we “live in a vain show”? Now the Cyrenaics, whatever we may think of their doctrine, at least had a doctrine. They were not content with hazy views about the nature of morality, but had the full courage of their opinions, and sought to give them a precise formulation satisfactory to the critical intellect.

(i) The first thing in which they show their superiority to the Sophists is in affirming that there is one single end which all men seek, and by reference to which every action must be judged. This notion of a supreme end of life was no doubt borrowed from Socrates, who was the first thinker to grasp it clearly. It is difficult for us who are familiar with .the idea to appreciate its importance in the history of human thought. It was as instrumental in introducing unity into men's conceptions of human life as the idea of gravitation in uniting all the phenomena of nature in the bond of an all-pervasive law. Previously reflection had not got beyond the point of view, that conduct consists of certain practical rules which it is useful to practise. Socrates showed that men's actions must be consciously or unconsciously guided by their desire for something which they regard as desirable, and that these rules are simply the different ways in which, as they believe, this one desirable end may be attained. A man will not respect the gods unless he desires to obtain their approbation; he will not act justly without being convinced that just acts will bring satisfaction; he will not obey the laws of his country unless he believes that such obedience is a good; when he seeks for knowledge he tacitly assumes that it is a thing to be desired to make one wise. Thus, in every case, it is implied that there is some desirable end, and it therefore becomes an important question what that end is. The Cyrenaics, in affirming with Socrates that there is a single end which all men seek, were distinctly in advance of the Sophists, who merely said that the special enactments of each State rested upon convention.

(2) The Cyrenaics were also in advance of the Sophists in formulating the doctrine that knowledge is merely what appears to each man to be true, and in giving definite reasons for denying that we can have any knowledge of things in themselves. Protagoras, indeed, had said that the perceptions of a man vary according to his state at the time, so that the same thing may be at one time hot and at another time cold. Gorgias went further and said that we can know nothing of the real nature of things, but neither of these eminent Sophists tried to justify his contention by showing that it rests upon a law of human thought.

Aristippus, on the other hand, with the true philosophical instinct which leads a man never to be satisfied until he has found the principle on which his statements are based, tried to show that what we call knowledge is reducible to the immediate convictions or feelings of the individual man. His proof of the individualism of knowledge was something like this : When I say that a piece of sugar is sweet and white, what I really mean is that it is sweet to my palate, and white to my eyesight. People say that the sugar is sweet and white, but their language is wanting in philosophical precision. There are people who have no sense of taste, and people who cannot distinguish one colour from another. Now if the sweetness or the whiteness were in the object, the object would be sweet and white to every one and at all times. The inference is obvious, that we do not know what is the nature of the object in itself We are certainly aware of our own feelings. 'When we taste or see a piece of sugar we do not confuse sweetness with sourness, or white with black. But this is very different from saying that the sugar is sweet and white, not sour and black. Again, while I am aware of my feelings when I have them, I am not aware of the feelings of any one else. I taste sugar and say “this is sweet”; you taste it and say also that it is sweet. But how can I prove to you, or you to me, that we both mean the same thing when we use the same word “sweet” I cannot enter into your mind and become conscious of the actual feeling which you have when you say “sweet” you cannot enter into my mind and contemplate what goes on there. We use common names but such a thing as a common feeling is an impossibility. A feeling shared in common would not be a feeling, it would in fact be an object of feeling to each of us, and each man's consciousness of it would be a feeling, hence we should be landed in the same difficulty again, for you and I should both be aware or have a feeling of that common feeling. Since then we cannot possibly get beyond our own individual feelings, it is useless to talk about the nature of things. And from this Aristippus drew the inference, a perfectly correct inference from his premises, that the study of nature is a useless form of activity. The only study worthy of a man is the study of man, I.e. of the feelings of the individual.

Now I can easily imagine some one saying softly to himself, “What fools these philosophers be! They would persuade us out of our very senses. Common-sense at once sets aside all such elaborate trifling, it refuses to be taken in by nonsense, and sticks to facts.” And so the man who plumes himself on his common-sense — by which he means his common-sense, dismisses the whole problem and falls back on his unreasoned convictions. I am not going to defend the individualism of the Cyrenaics. 1 hope to show, by and by, that their theory of knowledge rests upon an imperfect analysis of sensation, even from their own point of view. But at this point I merely wish to say that the Sophists' view of knowledge, and much more the Cyrenaic view, is distinctly in advance of the common-sense view. It would be in advance were it for nothing else than that it is an attempt to explain the facts. If we are to have a reasoned basis for our ideas we must begin by subjecting everything which we have been accustomed to regard as true and sacred to the most thorough criticism.

And hence Protagoras, in drawing attention to the varying character of our sensible perceptions, took one step beyond common-sense, while Aristippus, in reducing our knowledge of things to each man's immediate consciousness of his own feelings, took a second and a more important step. To the assumption of the unreflective mind that each of us directly apprehends cold and heat, sweet and bitter, hard and soft, as they are in things, it was a perfectly legitimate objection to say that that cannot be so, because of two different persons one calls the same thing hot and the other cold ; and it was a fair inference from this, that the thing in itself is neither hot nor cold, but that heat and cold are feelings or states of the individual subject. In fact, not only do the whole of the philosophical progeny of the Sophists and Cyrenaics — our Lockes, Humes, Mills, and Spencers — agree in denying that hot and cold, hard and soft, etc., are in things as they are felt by us, but they go even further, and deny that there are any properties of things corresponding to such feelings at all.

(3) The third point of distinction is that the Cyrenaics expressly defined the end to be the pleasure of the individual man. The Sophists denied that there were any actions which could be said to be absolute and unchangeable, but they did not advance to the logical consequence of such a doctrine, viz., that as law and morality are the product of an expressed or tacit compact between individuals, there must be some point of agreement between individuals, something which induces them to enter into the contract. What is that point of agreement? What is the end which all the members of a community alike are aiming at? The Cyrenaics, definitively raising the question, went on to give a perfectly explicit answer to it. The end, they said, is individual pleasure.

And manifestly no other answer would have been consistent with the theory of knowledge which they had adopted. If I know nothing about the nature of things as they are in themselves, if I know nothing of the character of the feelings of others, but must simply assume that they are of the same character as my own, my action must be regulated by my own feelings, and by nothing else. Why do I refrain from taking my neighbour's property? Must it not be because my feelings revolt against theft, because it would give me pain to do it? Why do I show kindness to another, if not because in doing so I feel a glow of pleasure? If a man in acting justly or benevolently always felt not pleasure but pain, is it conceivable that he would act justly or benevolently? Surely a man will do what he believes will bring him satisfaction or pleasure. The end of all action, then, must be the attainment of agreeable feeling. Let us look more closely at this doctrine. Our experience as individuals is always of our own feelings. The Cyrenaics, in seeking to establish their hedonistic theory of the end, begin by describing the nature of those feelings which lead to action as distinguished from those which stand to us for the properties of things.

I. All feeling, whether it takes the form of sensation or the form of desire, is a sort of movement. The movement may be either (i) gentle and equable, or (2) rough and violent, or (3) so weak as to be almost imperceptible. To this three-fold division of feeling correspond the three states of {a) Pleasure, (b) Pain, {c) Indifference. The Cyrenaics evidently run together the idea of a movement of the organism and the consciousness of which that movement is the condition. We may illustrate their meaning by the contention of Mr. Haweis in his “Music and Morals,” that to every emotion there corresponds a mechanical vibration which is swifter or slower according as the emotion is more or less intense.

II. Which of these three sorts of feeling do people as a matter of fact desire? Manifestly the first. No one desires pain, no one desires that state of feeling in which there is neither pleasure nor pain, but every one desires pleasure, and if it were possible he would wish to have nothing but pleasure. Unless we suppose all men to be totally perverted in their nature, the good must be identical with pleasant, the evil with painful, the indifferent with some neutral state of feeling. The Cyrenaics, then, appeal to the experience of every one in support of their contention that pleasure alone is desirable. As a matter of fact, they say, all men do seek pleasure, all men do avoid pain, and to neutral feelings all men are indifferent. And you will find, as we go on, that this appeal to experience, this attempt to show that hedonism is a doctrine, based upon fact, is a claim made by the modem as well as the ancient exponents of the doctrine.

Without anticipating what has to be said about modem hedonism, I may quote, by way of illustration, the words of John Stuart Mill. “No reason,” he says, “can be given why the general happiness is desirable, except that each person, so far as he believes it to be attainable, desires his own happiness. This, however, being a fact, we have not only all the proof which the case admits of, but all which it is possible to require, that happiness is a good, that each person's happiness is a good to that person, and the general happiness, therefore, a good to the aggregate of all persons.” Of course Mill's theory is much more developed than the theory of the Cyrenaics; in particular, it draws a broad distinction between the happiness or pleasure of the individual and the happiness or pleasure of the community as a whole, but yet it rests the proof that pleasure is the end on an appeal to each individual to say whether he does not, as a matter of fact, regard pleasure as the one thing desirable.

Let us then grant to the Cyrenaic, by way of argument, these three positions — (i) that we are, and can only be, conscious of our own individual feelings; (2) that the feelings which incite us to action are either pleasurable, or painful, or neutral; and (3) that every one does, in point of fact, desire pleasure, and by his very nature cannot desire anything else; that he does and cannot but seek to avoid pain, and that he is indifferent to a feeling that is neither pleasant nor painful. The next question is this: Admitting that the good which our nature; prompts us to seek is pleasure, and the evil which our nature causes us to avoid is pain, while we are indifferent to neutral feeling, what is the highest good? how shall we obtain the end of which we are in search? We certainly desire pleasure, but we may seek it in a wrong way, and so may fail to secure it. What, then, is the right way to seek it? The answer of Aristippus is perfectly plain and unambiguous. Some thinkers had said that pleasure is not a positive feeling at all; that it is merely the sense of repose or tranquility, which ensues upon relief from pain. Thus a man who is thirsty feels pleasure when his thirst is allayed by a glass of water; a man who has taken a long walk experiences a feeling of relief when he sits down to rest; a man, who has been closely confined to his room for a number of hours, experiences a feeling of elation when he goes out into the fresh air and puts his cramped muscles into active play. But Aristippus will not admit that pleasure is of this negative character, it is not mere relief from pain, but something positive. Nor, again, does he mean that the pleasure at which we are to aim is the greatest amount of pleasure that can be extracted from life on the whole. That is a conception which belongs to a later and more developed stage of hedonism. The pleasure which, if we are wise, we shall seek, is the pleasure which lies directly in our way. Our aim must be to snatch the pleasure of the passing moment. Away with all vain regrets for vanished joys, and equally vain anticipations of joys to be ! The past is beyond recall, and the future turns out quite different from what we expected it to be. Sufficient unto the day is the pleasure thereof This view is not inaptly expressed by Horace, in words thus paraphrased by Allan Ramsay —

“Let this day come as it thinks fit, The present minute's only ours; On pleasure let's employ our wit, And laugh at fortune's feckless powers.”

Is there, then, no such thing as pleasure which is intrinsically evil in its nature? Aristippus plainly answers that to call any pleasure an evil is a contradiction in terms. Pleasure is always a good and always desirable. People suppose that pleasures differ in their nature because they proceed from different sources. Thus it is said that the pleasures of the mind are higher than the pleasures of the body. But there is no ground for such a distinction. All pleasure is of the same nature as a feeling, no matter what the source from which it comes. Nor is it a valid ground of distinction to say that the pleasure which certain persons receive from the violation of law and custom are evil in their nature. Because a man receives pleasure from running counter to law and custom, that is no reason for saying that the pleasure IS bad, although it may be a sufficient reason for condemning his action. We have now before us the hedonistic view of life in its first and, so to speak, unsophisticated form. The qualifications and explanations which it afterwards received at the hands of Aristippus himself, and of other thinkers of the Cyrenaic school, gave it a much greater degree of subtlety and plausibility, but they destroyed its natural vigour and simplicity. It will therefore be most profitable to examine it in its original and simpler form.

I. When we consider the advance made by the Cyrenaics beyond the Sophists, we cannot fail to be struck by the wonderful self-developing power of a new thought Ideas, as Luther said, are “living things with hands and feet” A man strikes out a new idea the force of which he only half comprehends, and which he holds along with a mass of older ideas inconsistent with it; other men take hold of it, turn it round and round, looking at it on all sides, and lo ! before they are aware, it has changed under their eyes. So it was with the germinal idea of the Sophists, that law and morality are the rules which a particular state regards as most advantageous for itself. In the mind of Protagoras this thought no more carried with it the destruction of all authority than the similar idea of the so-called “practical” man of to-day, that the great thing in life is to “get on,” or the favourite view of the politician that the aim of statesmanship is to keep his party in power. In the one case as in the other a man persuades himself, and usually persuades others, that the principle on which he acts is perfectly compatible with the sanctity of human life, and with the stability of society and of the state. But history, more logical than the individual, insists on carrying out an idea to its consequences. If law and morality proceed from the shifting opinions of the people, what is that but to say that it has no foundation other than the immediate convictions of an aggregate of individuals. The individuals comprising the state may so far effect a compromise as to agree to a certain curtailment of their immediate desires, but to one who presses home this question, Why should a man obey the laws of his country ? there can be but one answer: he should obey them because it will be best for himself.

Thus, in the realm of thought at least, which is usually freer from the spirit of compromise than the realm of practice, individualism comes to reign supreme ; after the unformulated individualism of a Protagoras we have the formulated individualism of a Thrasymachus. But even yet thought has not done its perfect work. If society is nothing but “anarchy plus the street constable,” if the fear of law is “the hangman's whip to haud the wretch in order,” we must seize firmly and clearly the twin principles, that knowledge is what each man finds in his own sensible perception, and morality the desire for pleasure on the part of the individual man. Hence we have the Cyrenaic reduction of all we know and all we do to feeling. Individualism in no longer implicit but explicit; it is no longer “wrapt in a robe of rhetoric” but stands forth naked and unashamed before the eyes of all men.

2. Are we then compelled to adopt the Cyrenaic view of knowledge? Is there no escape from the doctrine that a man's sensations are but the mirage of reality? That there is no escape on the principle of individualism is demonstrable. It is certain that my feelings are not as feelings identical with those of anybody else, and if I am absolutely limited in my knowledge to my feelings I cannot say that the nature of the object is such as it appears to me to be. So far we must commend the consistency of Aristippus. His scepticism is the legitimate outcome of the Protagorean theory of the sensible.

One cannot both “have his cake and eat it” in the realm of thought any more than in actual life. It will not do to say with Protagoras that the thing changes with the changing sensations of the individual, and yet to talk as if we could know things as they are. But Aristippus, while he is in advance of Protagoras, makes a remarkable oversight. He fails to distinguish between such properties as colour, taste, heat, sound, and smell, as states of the organism, and properties like extension, motion, and weight, which are not dependent for their character upon the organism. His objection to the possibility of a knowledge of the properties of things is perfectly general. A man puts a finger of either hand into the same water, and the one feels hot, the other cold, but the water cannot be both hot and cold, therefore we do not know the real properties of things at all. Such is the reasoning of Aristippus. But it rests upon a fallacy. It is quite possible, as Locke has said, that colour and taste, etc., are merely sensations in us, to which nothing in the object corresponds, while yet ex- tension and weight are apprehended by us just as they exist in the object. Colour or sound, he will tell you, does not exist in external nature as it seems to do, but is merely the effect of the movement of certain minute particles of matter. The infinite number of atoms comprising the sun are thrown into violent agitation, a wave movement thrills along the ethereal medium and strikes upon the eye, in response to which a vibration flies along the ocular nerve to the brain and there calls up the sensation of a luminous body. But while light is thus a feeling in the percipient subject, there could be no such feeling unless there were extended moving material particles.

This is the general view of the man of science. I do not vouch for its absolute correctness, but at least it draws a distinction that lay beyond the ken of Aristippus. Until it is shown that extension, mobility, and weight are not properties of things but are only our way of apprehending things, knowledge cannot be said to be purely of appearance, and should the distinction between colour and extension, light and motion, hardness and weight, be done away, the next question will be whether the sensationalist can consistently speak of things at all. I shall not follow out this line of thought further, because it is with the theory of conduct of the Cyrenaics that we have mainly to deal, not with their theory of knowledge. So much it seemed necessary to say, because hedonism rests upon the assumption that the mind may be resolved into a number of individual feelings; but having seen that the matter is not so simple as Aristippus supposed, we may now go on to ask how far the theory that pleasure is the mainspring of human action holds good.

3. Pleasure is the one thing desirable, pain is the one thing objectionable, and all else is desirable or undesirable according as pleasure or pain is associated with it. In support of this contention each man is bid to look into his own breast, and to say if he ever desired pain, or even the absence of all feeling; and if he would not prefer, were it possible, to be continually in a state of pleased enjoyment. Hence it is concluded that pleasure must be the end. It is very important that we should see clearly all that is implied in this appeal to experience. Observe that Aristippus says not merely that every one desires pleasure and avoids pain, but he says that he cannot desire anything else. But may we not admit that men desire pleasure, without admitting that there is nothing higher than pleasure which they desire still more?

Mark well the logical consequences of the assertion that pleasure is the end of life. It means not merely that, other things being equals men do and ought to seek pleasure, but that, whether other things are equal or not they do and ought to seek it. That is to say, that if there is a conflict between one's love of pleasure and the demands of others, the former must and ought to prevail, unless it so happens that a man will get more pleasure by considering others than by considering only himself. A poor man, for example, with the same craving for pleasure as the rich, works hard from morning to night to provide food and clothing and shelter for his wife and family, and we must conclude, on the principles of Aristippus, that he does so because he gets pleasure from doing it, not because he desires the well-being of his wife and family. The pleasure of the man himself is first, the good of others second. But there are such persons as tramps and loafers, who take more pleasure in leading a lazy, shiftless, vagabond life than in submitting to the life of the hard-working husband and father. What are we to say of the loafer? He also, let us say, has a wife and family; will he take pleasure in working for them? By no means: that is the “last infirmity” of ignoble minds; he will almost rather starve himself. The loafer then takes his pleasure in loafing. But he is doing just what the hedonistic Aristippus tells him to do. It is useless to say to him “go and dig — for pleasure”; the prospect has no charms for his miserable soul; you may talk to him of a starving wife and family, but he is much more affected by his own craving for whisky, and in that he will seek his pleasure. Instances need not be multiplied. The statesman and the demagogue, the upright and the unscrupulous tradesman, the honest and the time-serving workman, the respectable and the licentious man, all as we must suppose are seeking for pleasure, and for nothing else. The end is pleasure, and each in his own way is aiming at it, and aiming at nothing else. It is true that pleasure may sometimes be found, sometimes not, but that does not change the character of the motive. There is no end but pleasure which a man does seek or should seek, and therefore the actions of everybody are morally on the same level. Virtue and vice are unmeaning terms. I do not think that this can be a true theory.

4. The end, according to Aristippus, is pleasure. But pleasure may not be found if we seek it in a wrong way. By a “wrong way,” Aristippus does not mean of course morally wrong, but only wrong in the sense that we may defeat our own end. How then is pleasure to be found? By excluding all reflection, and making the most of the present moment. The “pale cast of thought” must not be allowed to diminish our joy by giving rise to vain regrets for the past, or vain anticipations of pain or pleasure in the future. As Byron, in his mocking way, puts it —

” Carpe diem Juan, carpe carpe To-morrow sees another race as gay And transient, and devoured by the same harpy.”

But (i) the theory virtually admits that to obtain the end we must not seek it. We desire pleasure, but when we set about getting it, we are compelled to entertain unwelcome and unexpected guests. He that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow. The more we reflect on the past and forecast the future the less contented we are. Let us “take the goods the gods provide” us, and make the most of them. Self-restraint in the matter of reflection on human life, our own or others, is essential to that cheerfulness and buoyancy of feeling at which we should aim. We are virtually told to seek pleasure by not seeking it. “The longest way round is the shortest way home.” Should we deliberately seek for pleasure we shall defeat our own end. The only sensible thing to do is not to seek it, but to take as much of it as we can get when it comes. But that is much the same as saying, the end of life is to have no end.

How can we attain this contented and cheerful frame of mind which has no regrets and no anticipations? Must it not be by suppressing our natural tendency to “look before and after,” and refusing to go beyond the good of the moment? But such a resolute avoidance of the past and future is not to be attained without a struggle. For the very injunction, “Seize the moment,” implies that man naturally reaches beyond the moment and projects himself into the past and the future. Now, how can it be shown that in the struggle the end will not be sacrificed? Should it happen that the tendency to reflection is unusually strong in a man, may he not destroy all, or almost all, the pleasure he might have had by trying to belie his natural inclination? And why should he try? May he not get more satisfaction in the pleasure of memory and the pleasure of hope than another contrives to extract from the pleasures of experience? What is true of the man of reflection is true of the most lightheaded Autolycus that ever skipped along the highway of life. If you leave him to find pleasure in his own way, he may be moderately pleased, but you must not introduce disunion into his mind by telling him to seek to live in the moment. Thus we reach the dilemma; either {a) momentary pleasure is an end that cannot be reached, or it is an end that comes without being sought In the former case it is useless to seek for it because it cannot be found, in the latter case it is superfluous to seek for it because it comes without being sought; on either alternative there is no end at all, unless we call that an end which cannot possibly be realized or that can only be realized by making something else the end.

(2) The source of the contradiction to which attention has just been called is a misinterpretation of the facts. Every one, it is said, as a matter of fact, desires pleasure and wishes to avoid pain, and his actions are and must be determined by the desire to obtain pleasure and to avoid pain. I deny that. We all feel that there are things which we should choose even if no pleasure came from them. Sometimes, with faint and lagging spirit, but with the determination to do his best, a man goes to his duty as the martyr goes to the stake. He anticipates not pleasure but pain, and he gets what he anticipates.

(3) Not only is this true, but I further maintain that no action which can be called a man's own is done out of regard for pleasure and nothing but pleasure. I shall be reminded that there is such a person as the pleasure-seeker. No doubt, but even he is not seeking pleasure for itself, he is seeking to still the immortal craving to realize himself, to find the means of speaking peace to his own spirit. He cannot avoid framing an ideal of himself and seeking to make it an actual experience. And so he tries one means of satisfaction after another; he chases the bubble of pleasure only to find it elude him; he increases his efforts, but they only bring him disappointment and at last despair. Try as he please he cannot get rid of the ideal of himself because it is part of his divine nature. Why is the pursuit of pleasure admittedly so unsatisfactory a quest? It is not because the pleasure which is anticipated is not obtained; the pleasure is obtained; but when it is found it “leaves a bad taste in the mouth,” to use Thackeray's phrase ; the “thirst that from the soul doth rise” is still unslaked, and still the vision of an ideal good floats before the imagination. An animal is not troubled by such visions, but is perfectly contented with what comes to it ; man cannot rest in the finite, but eternally strives after the infinite. That reflection which comprehends the past, the present, and the future in one glance, and which, to Aristippus, seemed a mere superfluity and a mistake, is in reality a hint of all that is highest in man.

Suppose that any race of people could act on the Cyrenaic principle, that contentment with whatever chances to fall to one's lot is true wisdom, what would be the result? The result would be spiritual death, absolute stagnation, the complete arrest of all that makes for progress in morality, law, and religion. Nothing could be learned from the past, because we can learn from the past only by taking to heart the mistakes and failures we have made; the i future would have no message for «us, since we are forbidden to move about in “worlds not realized”; our life would be a dull round of acts performed with monotonous regularity and with complete absence of intelligent foresight and aftersight. Wearied and worn with the stifled yearnings after a higher life, we should at length be compelled in sheer self-defence to strike off the fetters which we had ourselves forged and fashioned on our spirits; or despair would drive us to the deep, where, as we might hope, the restless strivings of a useless life might be stilled for ever.


Picture of Bust of Aristippus - Founder of the Cyrenaics
Lion on Cyrene Archaeological Site
Location of Cyrene

cyrenaics/cyrenaics.txt · Last modified: 2016/07/16 21:56 by frank