“Apollodorus the Epicurian writes in his first book of On the Life of Epicurus that the philosopher turned to the study of philosophy when he noted that his teachers could not explain to him the meaning of Chaos in Hesiod.”
“It is not possible to eliminate fear about the most important things unless one understands the nature of everything—otherwise, we live fearing things we heard from myths. Therefore, it is not possible to enjoy unmixed pleasures without natural science.”
Cleobolus of Caria, According to Diogenes Laertius 1.6 91-93
“These were the most famous of Cleobolus’ songs
Poor taste has the greater share among mortals, along with an excess of arguments: but timeliness is enough. Think about something good. Don’t be empty-minded or rude. He used to say that it was right to marry off daughters who were maidens in age but women in their minds—he showed in this that it was also right to have girls educated. He used to say that it was necessary to do good work for a friend so he might become a better friend and to make an enemy into a friend. For we should guard against the reproach of a friend and the plotting of an enemy. Whenever you leave your home, figure out first what you plan to do; when you return again, consider what you have done.
He used to advise that we exercise our bodies well; that it is better to be fond of listening than fond of talking. Keep a righteous tongue. Be friendly to virtue and hostile to vice. Avoid injustice; advise the best to the city. Conquer pleasure. Do nothing by violence. Educate children. Resolve hatred. Don’t be too kind or fight with your wife when strangers are around—the former shows stupidity; the latter is madness. Don’t chastise a servant over wine, for you will seem drunk. Marry an equal: if you take a spouse from a higher class, you get her relatives as masters. Don’t laugh at men who are being mocked: they will hate you. Don’t be arrogant when you are lucky or wretched when you’re not. Learn how to endure luck’s changes with nobility.”
From Diogenes Laertius’ Lives of the Philosophers 3.5-7
“[Plato] learned his basic grammar at Dionysius’ school, which he also recalls in his dialogue the Lovers. He exercised at the wrestling school of Ariston the Argive which is where he was nicknamed ‘Platôn’ because of his fine body. Before, he was called Aristokles after his grandfather, according to Alexandros in his Diadokhai. There are some who claim he was named this because of the breadth [platutêta] of his interpretive ability or that it was because of the width of his forehead, as Neanthes claims. There are also those who say that he wrestled at the Isthmus, according to Dikaiarkhos too in the first book of his Lives. He is also said to have pursued a passion for painting; he wrote poetry, first dithyrambs, then lyric, and tragedy.
Plato had a strong voice, they claim, as Timotheus attests too in his book on Lives. It is reported that Socrates had a dream of holding a swan chick in his lap: after it grew wings it immediately flew away, uttering a sweet cry. On the next day, Plato joined him; and Socrates said that he was the bird.
Plato began philosophizing in the Akademia and then moved into a garden at Colonos, as Alexander records in his Successions, according to Herakleitos. When he was going to compete in tragedy, once he had heard Socrates in front of the Dionysian theater, he burned all his poems, saying “Hephaestos, come here, Plato needs you now…”
From Diogenes Laertius’ Lives of the Eminent Philosophers, Preface
“Some say that the work of philosophy had its starts among the barbarians, noting that there are Magi among the Persians, Chaldeans among the Babylonians or Assyrians, the gymnosophists among the Indians, the people called Druids or Holy-men among the Celts and Galatians, following what Aristotle says in his Magicus and Sotion writes in the twenty-third book of his Succession. They also say that Okhos was a Phoenician, Zamolksis was Thracian, and Atlas was Libyan.
The Egyptians claim that Hephaistos was a child of Nile and that he began philosophy, making priests and prophets its leaders. From him to Alexander of Macedon there were 48,863 years during which there occurred 373 solar eclipses and 832 lunar eclipses.
From the Magi, whose art was initiated by the Persian Zoroaster, Hermodorus the Platonist in his work on mathematics says that there were 5000 years to the sack of Troy. The Lydian Xanthos says that the period from Zoroaster to Xerxes’ invasion was 6000 years. After that, there were a series of Magi in order named Ostanas, Astrampsykhos, Gobryas, and Pazatas until Persia was subdued by Alexander.
But the writers who attribute this to the barbarians overlook the fact that these achievements are the Greeks, from whom not just philosophy began but the human race too. Look—Mousaios was born among the Athenians, Linus lived in Thebes. The first one, the son of Eumolpos, wrote a Theogony and made the first sphere, and he argued that everything comes from a single thing to which it eventually returns. He died at Phaleron and this is his epitaph:
The Phalerian earth holds Eumolpus’ dear son
Musaios, his body ruined, beneath this stone.
(The Eumolpidai of Athens get their name from Musaios’ father)
They also say that Linus was the son of Hermes and the Muse Ourania. He wrote a poem about the creation of the universe, the path of the sun and moon, and the creation of the animals and plants. His poem begins: “Once upon a time, everything came into being together.” This is where Anaxagoras got it when he said that all things were originally whole until mind came and separated them. Linus perished in Euboea, shot by Apollo. This is inscribed there:
The earth here received Theban Linus when he died,
The son of the muse Ourania, well-crowned.
And so, philosophy began among the Greeks, which is why its very name resists a foreign translation.”
The phrase echoed in my head and it seemed to me like the type of gnomic utterance one might find from the fragments of a Greek philosopher. Without much rigor, I decided Heraclitus could say this. I said as much to Paul over twitter, and he encouraged me to put it into ancient Greek:
[Ἡράκλειτος γὰρ φησί] ὦτα μὲν δύο, ἕν δὲ στόμα
My friend, the Fantastic Festus, suggested that Heraclitus or Hesiod would not use use μὲν and δὲ so, so he suggested losing them for something like this:
μήτηρ ἀεὶ ἔφη ὦτα δύο, ἕν στόμα
And for a bit things got hot and heavy over particles:
So, the quote I thought sounded Greek, turns out to have a parallel in Greek (if not an antecedent!). According to Diogenes Laertius, Zeno said something powerfully similar (the full text is available on Perseus). And, honestly, without preening too much, I was happy that the version I settled on (μήτηρ ἀεὶ ἔφη ὦτα δύο, ἕν στόμα) wasn’t too different from the words attributed to Zeno: δύο ὦτα ἔχομεν, στόμα δὲ ἕν). But, to be more honest, this is not the most complicated composition. Armand’s efforts are far more impressive.
But the discussion engaged more people, and we received this information:
“When Dionysus the rebel asked Zeno why he failed to correct only him, Zeno replied “Because I do not trust you.” To a youth talking nonsense, he said “We have two ears, but one mouth so that we may hear more but speak less.” When he was asked the reason he was reclining at the symposium in silence, he told the man asking to inform the king that someone present knew how to be quiet.”
“Those who questioned him were envoys from Ptolemy and they wished to know what they should say from Zeno when they returned to the king. When he was asked how he feels about slander, he said “The way an envoy does when he returns without an answer.” Apollonius of Tyre recounts that when Krates tried to drag him by the cloak from Stipo, Zeno said, “Crates, the best way to grab philosophers is by the ears. Move them by persuasion. If you force me, my body will be yours, but my soul will be with Stilpo.”
“Hieronymos says that when Pythagoras went down into Hades he saw the ghost of Hesiod bound to a bronze pillar, squeaking, and that Homer’s ghost was hanging from a tree surrounded by snakes. They were being punished for the things they said about the gods. And in addition he saw men who were not willing to have sex with their own wives. This is the reason, that Pythagoras was honored by the inhabitants of Croton. Aristippos of Cyrene in his work Peri Physiologoi says that Pythagoras was given his name because he spoke the truth publically [agoreuô] no less than the Pythian oracle.”
In his Description of Greece, Pausanias comes to the topic of the age of Homer and Hesiod and begs off discussing it, though he admits giving much thought to it, because of the character of people who work on such things:
“It would not be sweet for me to write about the relative age of Homer and Hesiod, even though I have worked on the problem as closely as possible. This is because I am familiar with the fault-finding character of others and not the least of those who dominate the study of epic poetry in my time.”
According to the biographer of sophists, Diogenes Laertius, the 4th century Heraclides Ponticus wrote “Two books about the age of Homer and Hesiod” and “Two books about Archilochus and Homer” (Περὶ τῆς ῾Ομήρου καὶ ῾Ησιόδου ἡλικίας α′ β′, Περὶ ᾿Αρχιλόχου καὶ ῾Ομήρου α′ β′; see Koning 2010, 40).
Of course, antiquity presented every possible opinion on this:
Suda s.v. ῾Ησίοδος
“He was according to some older than Homer; but according to others he was the same age. Porphyry and most others argue that he is one hundred years younger…”
(You can probably expect more of this. Palaiophron and I are developing a fixtion with the silliness of the Suda. He has confessed to fantasizing and developing “a book of refutations titled Suda Says: Everything that Classicists Know is Wrong.”)
Like this kind of stuff? These books are good:
Barbara Graziosi. The Invention of Homer. Cambridge, 2002.
Hugo Koning. Hesiod: The Other Poet. Leiden, 2010.