The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Aenete – Aenicus – Aenides – Aeolides



creation: they saw nothing but a perpetual and ever-changing chaos, acted upon, or rather self-acting, by an inherent power of motion, of which the nature was only known by its effects. This was the doctrine of Heracleitus, that "the world was a fire ever kindling and going out, which made all things and was all things." It was this link of connexion between the sceptical and Ionian schools which Aenesidemus attempted to restore. The doctrine of Heracleitus, although it spoke of a sub­tle fire, really meant nothing more than a principle of change; and although it might seem absurd to a strict sceptic like Sextus Empiricus to affirm even a principle of change, it involved no real inconsis­tency with the sceptical system. We are left to conjecture as to the way in which Aenesidemus arrived at his conclusions : the following account of them seems probable. It will be seen, from what has been said, that the sceptical system had de­stroyed everything but sensation. But sensation is the effect of change, the principle of motion work­ing internally. It was very natural then that the sceptic, proceeding from the only apx7? which re­mained to him, should suggest an explanation of the outward world, derived from that of which alone he was certain, his own internal sensations. The mere suggestion of a probable cause might seem inconsistent with the distinction which the sceptics drew between their own absolute uncer­tainty and the probability spoken of by the Academics : indeed, it was inconsistent with their metaphysical paradoxes to draw conclusions at all: if so, we must be content to allow that Aeneside­mus (as Sextus Empiricus implies) got a little be­yond the dark region of scepticism into the light of probability.

Other scattered opinions of Aenesidemus have been preserved to us, some of which seem to lead to the same conclusion. Time, he said, was to 3z> and to irp&Tov cr^^a. (Pyr. Hyp. iii. 17), probably in allusion to the doctrine of the Stoics, that all really existing substances were ffojfj.ara: in other words, he meant to say that time was a really ex­isting thing, and not merely a condition of thought. This was connected with the principle of change, which was inseparable from a notion of time: if the one had a real existence (and upon its exist­ence the whole system depended), the other must likewise have a real existence. In another place, adapting his language to that of Heracleitus, he said that "time was air" (Sext. Emp. adv. Logicos, iv. 233.), probably meaning to illustrate it by the imperceptible nature of air, in the same way that the motion of the world was said to work by a subtle and invisible fire. All things, according to his doctrine, were but (fraiv6/j.eva which were brought out and adapted to our perceptions by their mutual opposition: metaphorically they might be said to shine forth in the light of Heracleitus's fire. He did not, indeed, explain how this union of opposites made them sensible to the faculties of man : probably he would rather have supported his view by the impossibility of the mind conceiv­ing of anything otherwise than in a state of motion, or, as he would have expressed it, in a state of mu­tual opposition. But ^aivo^va are of two kinds, tdta and koivo, (Sext. Emp. adv. Log. ii. 8), the perceptions of individuals, and those common to mankind. Here again Aenesidemus seems to lose sight of the sceptical system, which (in speculation at least) admitted no degrees of truth, doubt, or


probability. The same remark applies to his dis­tinction of Ktvfja'LS into /.iera§aTiK^ and /xeraSA^-Tf/077, simple motion and change. He seems also to have opposed the perplexity which the sceptics en­deavoured to bring about between matter and mind; for he asserted that thought was indepen­dent of the body, and "that the sentient power looked out through the crannies of the senses.11 (Adv. Log. i. 349.) Lastly, his vigorous mind was above the paltry confusion of physical and metaphysical distinctions; for he declared, after Heracleitus, "that a part was the same with the whole and yet different from it." The grand pe­culiarity of his system was the attempt to unite scepticism with the earlier philosophy, to raise a ^positive foundation for it by accounting from the nature of things for the never-ceasing changes both in the material and spiritual world.

Sextus Empiricus has preserved his argument against our knowledge of causes, as well as a table of eight methods by which all a priori reasonings may be confuted, as all arguments whatever may be by the Se/ca Tpoiroi. I. Either the cause given is unseen, and not proven by things seen, as if a person were to explain the motions of the planets by the music of the spheres. II. Or if the cause be seen, it cannot be shewn to exclude other hypotheses : we must not only prove the cause, but dispose of every other cause. III. A regular effect may be attributed to an irregular cause; as if one were to explain the motions of the heavenly bodies by a sudden impulse. IV. Men argue from things seen to things unseen, assum­ing that they are governed by the same laws. V. Causes only mean opinions of causes, which are inconsistent with phenomena and with other opi­nions. VI. Equally probable causes are accepted or rejected as they agree with this or that precon-ceiA^ed notion. VII. These causes are at variance with phenomena as well as with abstract principles. VIII. Principles must be uncertain, because the facts from which they proceed are uncertain. (Pyrrh. Hyp. i. 17, ed. Fabr.)

It is to be regretted that nothing is known of the personal history of Aenesidemus. A list of his works and a sketch of their contents have been preserved by Photius. (Cod. 212.) He was the author of three books of TLvpp&veio.t, 'TTroTir/r&jo-eis1, and is mentioned as a recent teacher of philosophy by Aristocles. (Apud Euseb. Praeparat. Evang. xiv. 18.) It is to Aenesidemus that Sextus Em­ piricus was indebted for a considerable part of his work. [B. J.]

AENETE (AiV-jfr?]), a daughter of Eusorus, and wife of Aeneas, by whom she had a son, Cyzicus, the founder of the town of this name. (Apollon. Rhod. i. 950 ; Orph. Argon. 502, where she is called Aenippe.) [L. S.]

AENICUS (AfriKos), a Greek poet of the old comedy, whose play ''Ai/reta is referred to by Sui-das. (s. v. AfriKos.) He seems to be the same as Eunicus mentioned by Pollux, (x. 100.)

AENIDES, a patronymic from Aeneas, which is applied by Valerius Flaccus (iii. 4) to the in­ habitants of Cyzicus, whose town was believed to have been founded by Cyzicus, the son of Aeneas. [L. S.]

AEOLIDES (Ai'oAi37js)? a patronymic given to the sons of Aeolus, as Athainas (Ov. Met. iv. 511), Magnes (Paus. vi. 21. § 7), Macareus (Ov. Met. ix. 506), Misenus (Virg. Aen. vi.

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of