Debate like Pyrrho, Believe like Nausiphanes

If you want to hear a little more about ancient philosophers, we wrote a thing about them for Eidolon.

Diogenes Laertius 9.11 Pyrrho

“When he was caught talking to himself one time and was asked why he was doing it, [Pyrrho] said that he was practicing being good. He was dismissed by no one when it came to debating since he could easily speak at length and in response to questioning.

This is why he caught the attention of Nausiphanes when he was a young man. For he used to say, at least, that we should be like Pyrrho in debate, but himself in beliefs. And he was in the habit of saying often that even Epicurus used to ask him all the time for information about Pyrrho since he was so amazed by him.

He also said that he was so honored by his home cited that they made him the chief of the priests and voted that all philosophers should be free of taxes.”

Καταληφθεὶς δέ ποτε καὶ αὑτῷ λαλῶν καὶ ἐρωτηθεὶς τὴν αἰτίαν ἔφη μελετᾶν χρηστὸς εἶναι. ἔν τε ταῖς ζητήσεσιν ὑπ᾿ οὐδενὸς κατεφρονεῖτο διὰ τὸ <καὶ δι>εξοδικῶς λέγειν καὶ πρὸς ἐρώτησιν· ὅθεν καὶ Ναυσιφάνην ἤδη νεανίσκον ὄντα θηραθῆναι. ἔφασκε γοῦν γίνεσθαι δεῖν τῆς μὲν διαθέσεως τῆς Πυρρωνείου, τῶν δὲ λόγων τῶν ἑαυτοῦ. ἔλεγέ τε πολλάκις καὶ Ἐπίκουρον θαυμάζοντα τὴν Πύρρωνος ἀναστροφὴν συνεχὲς αὐτοῦ πυνθάνεσθαι περὶ αὐτοῦ. οὕτω δ᾿ αὐτὸν ὑπὸ τῆς πατρίδος τιμηθῆναι ὥστε καὶ ἀρχιερέα καταστῆσαι αὐτὸν καὶ δι᾿ ἐκεῖνον πᾶσι τοῖς φιλοσόφοις ἀτέλειαν ψηφίσασθαι.

Pyrrho’s beliefs.   On Nausiphanes.

Diogenes Laertius, 10.8

“[Epicurus] used to call Nausiphanes an illiterate jellyfish, a cheat and a whore. He used to refer to Plato’s followers as the Dionysius-flatterer and Plato himself ‘golden boy’; he called Aristotle a waste who, after he spent his inheritance, fought as a mercenary and sold drugs. He maligned Protagoras as a bellboy, and called Protagoras Democritus’ secretary and a teacher from the sticks. He called Heraclitus mudman, Democritus  Lerocritus [nonsense lord].

Antidorus he called Sannidôros [servile-gifter]. He named the Cynics “Greece’s enemies”; he called the dialecticians Destructionists and, according to him, Pyrrho was unlearned and unteachable.”

πλεύμονά τε αὐτὸν ἐκάλει καὶ ἀγράμματον καὶ ἀπατεῶνα καὶ πόρνην: τούς τε περὶ Πλάτωνα Διονυσοκόλακας καὶ αὐτὸν Πλάτωνα χρυσοῦν, καὶ Ἀριστοτέλη ἄσωτον, <ὃν> καταφαγόντα τὴν πατρῴαν οὐσίαν στρατεύεσθαι καὶ φαρμακοπωλεῖν: φορμοφόρον τε Πρωταγόραν καὶ γραφέα Δημοκρίτου καὶ ἐν κώμαις γράμματα διδάσκειν: Ἡράκλειτόν τε κυκητὴν καὶ Δημόκριτον Ληρόκριτον καὶ Ἀντίδωρον Σαννίδωρον: τούς τε Κυνικοὺς ἐχθροὺς τῆς Ἑλλάδος: καὶ τοὺς διαλεκτικοὺς πολυφθόρους, Πύρρωνα δ᾽ ἀμαθῆ καὶ ἀπαίδευτον.


3 thoughts on “Debate like Pyrrho, Believe like Nausiphanes

  1. As much as I’d like to read Διονυσοκόλακας as “Dionysus-flatterers”, I’m afraid the burn is rather that they are Dionysius-flatterers, referring to Plato’s Sicilian misadventure.

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