The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

203

ANTISTHENES.

two works entitled Cyrus, on Gorgias in his Archer laus and a most furious one on Plato in his Satho. (Athen. v. p. 220, b.) His style was pure and ele­gant, and Theopompus even said that Plato stole from him many of his thoughts. (Athen. xi. p. 508, c.) Cicero, however, calls him " homo acu-tus magis quam eruditus" (ad. Att. xii. 38), and it is impossible that his writings could have de­served any higher praise. He possessed consider­able powers of wit and sarcasm, and was fond of playing upon words; saying, for instance, that he would rather fall among ttopdices than woAa/ces, for the one devour the dead, but the other the living; and that one of his pupils stood in need (Bt6\ia-piov Kaivov, KoL ypa<peiov kolivov (i. e. Kal z/ou). Two declamations of his are preserved, named Ajax and Ulysses, which are purely rhetorical, and an epistle to Aristippus is attributed to him.

His philosophical system was almost confined to ethics. In all that the wise man does, he said, he conforms to perfect virtue, and pleasure is not only unnecessary to man, but a positive evil. He is reported to have held pain and even infamy (doo|fa) to be blessings, and that madness is pre­ferable to pleasure, though Hitter thinks that some of these .extravagances must have been advanced not as his own opinions, but those of the interlocu­tors in his dialogues. According to Schleiermacher (Anmerkungen zum Phileb. S. 204), the passage in the Philebus (p. 44), which mentions the theory, that pleasure is a mere negation^ and consists only in the absence of pain, refers to the opinions of Antisthenes; and the statement in Aristotle (Eth. Nic. x. 1), that some persons considered pleasure wholly worthless (ko/m^tj <pav\ov) is certainly an allusion to the Cynical doctrine. It is, however, probable that he did not consider all pleasure worthless, but only that which results from the gratification of sensual or artificial desires, for we find him praising the pleasures which spring e/c rijs tywxris (Xen. Symp. iv, 41), and the enjoy­ments of a wisely chosen friendship. (Diog. Laert. vi. 11.) The summum bonum he placed in a life according to virtue, — virtue consisting in action, and being such, that when once obtained it is never lost, and exempts the wise man from the chance of error. That is, it is closely con­nected with reason, but to enable it to develop itself in action, and to be sufficient for happiness, it requires the aid of energy (3,<aKpaTiKr\ iVxvs); so that we may represent him as teaching, that the summum bonum, aper-j), is attainable by teaching (5iSa/cToz>), and made up of (ppovrjais and *V%us. But here he becomes involved in a vicious circle, for when asked what (ppovTjffis is, he could only call it an insight into the good, having before made the good to consist in ^povrjffis. (Plat. Rep. vi. p. 505.) The negative character of his ethics, which are a mere denial of the Cyrenaic doctrine, is further shewn in his apophthegm, that the most necessary piece of knowledge is to kolk.ol dirofj.a.Ocii', while in his wish to isolate and with­draw the sage from all connexion with others, rendering him superior even to natural affection and the political institutions of his country, he really founds a system as purely selfish as that of Aristippus.

The Physicus of Antisthenes contained a theory of the nature of the gods (Cic. de Nat. Deor. i. 13), in which he contended for the Unity of the Deity, and that man is unable to know him by

ANTISTHENES.

any sensible representation, since he is unlike any being on earth. (Clem. Alex. Strom. v. p. 601.) He probably held just views of providence, shew­ ing the sufficiency of virtue for happiness by the fact, that outward events are regulated by God so as to benefit the wise. Such, at least, was the view of his pupil Diogenes of Sinope, and seems involved in his own statement, that all which be­ longs to others is truly the property of the wise man. Of his logic we hear that he held definitions to be impossible, since we can only say that every individual is what it is, and can give no more than a description of its qualities, e. g. that silver is like tin in colour. (Arist. Met. viii. 3.) Thus he, of course, disbelieved the Platonic system of ideas, since each particular object of thought has its own separate essence. This also is in conformity with the practical and unscientific character of his doc­ trine, and its tendency to isolate noticed above. He never had many disciples, which annoyed him so much that he drove away those who did attend his teaching, except Diogenes, who remained with him till his death. PI is staff and wallet and mean clothing were only proofs of his vanity, which Socrates told him he saw through the holes o! his coat. The same quality appears in his con­ tempt for the Athenian constitution and social in­ stitutions generally, resulting from his being him' self debarred from exercising the rights of a citizoi by the foreign extraction of his mother. His phi losophy was evidently thought worthless by Plati and Aristotle, to the former of whom he was per sonally hostile. His school is classed by Ritte among the imperfect Socraticists ; after his deatl his disciples wandered further and further from al scientific objects, and plunged more deeply int fanatical extravagances. Perhaps some of thei exaggerated statements have been attributed t their master. The fragments which remain of hi writings have been collected by Winckelman (Antisthenes, Fragmenta^ Turici, 1842), and thi small work, with' the account of him by Ritte (Gesch. der Philosophie., vii. 4) will supply all th information which can be desired. Most of th ancient authorities have been given in the conn of this article. We may add to them Arriai Epictet. iii. 22, iv. 8, 11 ; Lucian, Cynic, iii. 3 541 ; Julian, Oral. vii. [G. E. L. C.] ANTI'STHENES ('A^no^s), a disciple , heracleitus, wrote a commentary on the woi of his master. (Diog. Laert. ix. 15, vi. 19.) ." is not improbable that this Antisthenes may 1 the same as the one who wrote a work on tl succession of the Greek philosophers (at tc <f>i\offo<j)(av 5ia8o%cu), which is so often referred by Diogenes Laertius (i. 40, ii. 39, 98, vi. 77, 8 vii. 168, &c.), unless it appear preferable to it to the peripatetic philosopher mentioned Phlegon. (de MiraUl. 3.) [L. S.] ANTI'STHENES ('A^-no-fle'^), of rhodi a Greek historian who lived about the year b. 200. He took an active part in the politk affairs of his country, and wrote a history of 1 own time, which, notwithstanding its partiali towards his native island, is spoken of in terms high praise by Polybius. (xvi. 14, &c.; coir Diog. Laert. vi. 19.) Plutarch (de Fluv. 22) me tions an Antisthenes who wrote a work call Meleagris, of which the third book is quoted; a Pliny (H.N. xxxvi. 12) speaks of a person of 1 same name, who wrote on the pyramids; \

Pages
About | First

207

208

209
letter/word  
volume
page #  
Search this site
Google


ancientlibrary.com
WWW
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of Isidore-of-Seville.com.