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On this page: Democjrates – Democrines – Democritus



of the theatre at Syracuse, about b. c. 420. (Eu- stath. ad Horn. Od. iii. 68.) [P. S.] DEMO'CRATES. [damocrates.]

DEMOCJRATES (ATjjuoKpefrnjy). 1. Of Aphid-na, an Attic orator of the time of Demosthenes, who belonged to the anti-Macedonian party. He was a son of Sophilus, and was sent with other ambassadors to Philip to receive his oath to the treaty with Athens. He was also one of the am­bassadors who accompanied Demosthenes to the Thebans, to conclude a treaty with them against Philip. As an orator he seems to have been a man of second rate. (Demosth. de Coron. pp. 235, 291.) A fragment of one of his orations is pre­served in Aristotle. (RJtet. iii 4. § 3.)

2. A Pythagorean philosopher, concerning whom absolutely nothing is known. A collection of mo­ral maxims, called the golden sentences (yi:a>/j,at Xpvcrcu) has come down to us under his name, and are distinguished for their soundness and sim­plicity. They are written in the Ionic dialect, from which some writers have inferred, that they were written at a very early period, whereas others think it more probable that they are the production of the age of J. Caesar. But nothing can be said with certainty, for want of both external and in­ternal evidence. Some of these sentences are quoted by Stobaeus, and are found in some MSS. under the name of Democritus, which however seems to be a mere mistake, arising from the re-

semblance of the two names. They are collected

and printed in the several editions of the sentences of Demophilus. [demophilus.]

3. An Epicurean philosopher, who according to Plutarch (c. Epicur. p. 1100) was charged by Epicurus with having copied from his works. He may possibly be the same as the Democrates who according to the same Plutarch (Potit. Praecept. p. 803) lived at Athens about b. c. 340.

4. Of Tenedos, a distinguished wrestler, of whom there was a statue at Otympia. (Paus. vi. •17. § 1.) He is probably the same as the one of whom an anecdote is related by Aelian. ( V. H. iv. 15.) [L. S.]

DEMOCRINES (A^ofcp^s), a Greek gram­ marian, who is referred to in the Venetian Scholia on Homer (77. ii. 744. Comp. Villoison, Proleg. p. xxx.) £L. S.]

DEMOCRITUS. [damocritus.]

DEMOCRITUS (Aiw-ufopiros), was a native of Abdera in Thrace, an Ionian colony of Teos.

' ^

(Aristot. de Coel. iii. 4, Meteor, ii. 7, with Ide.ler's note.) Some called him a Milesian, and the name of his father too is stated differently. (Diog. Laert. ix. 34, &c.) His birth year was fixed by Apol-lodorus in 01. 80. 1, or b. c. 460, while Thrasyllus had referred it to 01. 77. 3. (Diog. Laert. I. c. § 41, with Menage's note; Gellius, xvii. .21 ; Clinton, F. PI. ad aim. 460.) Democritus had called himself'forty years younger than Anaxagoras. His father, Hegesistratus,—or as others called him Damasippus or Athenocritus,—was possessed of so large a property, that he was able to receive and treat Xerxes on his march through Abdera. De­mocritus spent the inheritance, which his father left him, on travels into distant countries, which he undertook to satisfy his extraordinary thirst for knowledge. He travelled over a great part of Asia, and, as some state, he even reached India and Aethiopia. (Cic. de Fin. v. 19 ; Strabo, xvi. p 703; A. H. C. Geffers, Quaestiones Democrit.


p. 15, &c.) We know that he wrote on Babylon and Meroe ; lie must also have visited Egypt, and Diodorus Siculus (i. 98) even states, that he lived there for a period of five years. He himself de­clared (Clem. Alex. Stro?n. i. p. 304), that among his contemporaries none had made greater journeys, seen more countries, and made the acquaintance of more men distinguished in every kind of science than himself. Among the last he mentions in par­ticular the Egyptian mathematicians (dpirefiovaTr-rai ; comp. Sturz, de Dialed. Maced. p. 98), whose knowledge he praises, without, however, regarding himself inferior to them. Theophrastus, too, spoke of him as a man who had seen many countries. (Aelian, V. PI. iv. 20; Diog. Laert. ix. 35.) It was his desire to acquire an extensive knowledge of nature that led him into distant countries at a time when travelling was the principal means of acquiring an intellectual and scientific culture ; and after returning to his native land he occupied himself only with philosophical investigations, especially such as related to natural history. In Greece itself, too, he endeavoured by means of travelling and residing in the principal cities to ac­quire a knowledge of Hellenic culture and civiliza­tion. He mentioned many Greek philosophers in his writings, and his wealth enabled him to pur­chase the works they had written. He thus suc­ceeded in excelling, in the extent of his knowledge, all the earlier Greek philosophers, among whom

Leucippus, the founder of the atomistic theory, is

said to have exercised the greatest influence upon his philosophical studies. The opinion "that he was a disciple of Anaxagoras or of the Pythagoreans (Diog. Laert. ix. 38), perhaps arose merely from the fact, that he mentioned them in his writings. The account of his hostility towards Anaxagoras, is contradicted by several passages in which he speaks of him in terms of high praise. (Diog. Laert. ii. 14 ; Sext. Empir. adv. Math. vii. 140.) It is further said, that he was on terms of friendship with Hippocrates, and some writers even speak of a correspondence between Demo­critus and Hippocrates ; but this statement does not seem to be deserving of credit. (Diog. Laert. ix. § 42; Brandis, Handbueli der Griech. u. Rom. Philos. p. 300.) As he was a contemporary of Plato, it may be that he was acquainted with Socrates, perhaps even with Plato, who, however, does not mention Democritus anywhere. (Her­mann, System der Platan. Philos. i. p. 284.) Aris­totle describes him and his views as belonging to the ante-Socratic period (Arist. Metaph. xiii. 4 ; Pliys. ii. 2, de Partib. Anim. i. ]); but modern scholars, such as the learned Dutchman Groen van Prinsterer (Prosopoc/raph. Platon. p.41, &c., comp. Brandis, /. c. p. 292, &c.), assert, that there are symptoms in Plato which shew a connexion with Democritus, and the same scholar pretends to dis­cover in Plato's language and style an imitation of Democritus. (Persop. Plat. p. 42.) The many anecdotes about Democritus which are preserved, especially in Diogenes Laertius, shew that he was a man of a most sterling and honourable character. His diligence was incredible: he lived exclusively for his studies, and his disinterestedness, modesty, and simplicity are attested by many features which are related of him. Notwithstanding his great property, he seems to have died in poverty, though highly esteemed by his fellow-citizens, not so much on account of his philosophy, as "be-

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