The Unremarkable Life of Phoinix the Thessalian Sophist


From Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists 22


“Phoinix the Thessalian is neither worthy of admiration nor, however, of being ignored completely. He was one of the students of Philagros, and he was better at invention than investigation—for although his thought was ordered, and he never said anything inappropriate to the moment, his style of speech seemed disconnected and out of rhythm. He was considered more effective with those who were just beginning their studies than those who were already possessed of some learning, since his subjects were just left unadorned and his diction did not dress them well. He died in Athens at age seventy and was buried in a conspicuous place, since he lies near those who died in the wars, on the right side of the road toward the Academy.”

κβ′. Φοῖνιξ δὲ ὁ Θετταλὸς οὐδὲ θαυμάσαι ἄξιος, οὐδὲ αὖ διαβαλεῖν πάντα. ἦν μὲν γὰρ τῶν Φιλάγρῳ πεφοιτηκότων, γνῶναι δὲ ἀμείνων ἢ ἑρμηνεῦσαι, τάξιν τε γὰρ τὸ νοηθὲν εἶχε καὶ οὐθὲν ἔξω καιροῦ ἐνοεῖτο, ἡ δὲ ἑρμηνεία διεσπάσθαι τε ἐδόκει καὶ ῥυθμοῦ ἀφεστηκέναι. ἐδόκει δὲ ἐπιτηδειότερος γεγονέναι τοῖς ἀρχομένοις τῶν νέων ἢ τοῖς ἕξιν τινὰ ἤδη κεκτημένοις, τὰ γὰρ πράγματα γυμνὰ ἐξέκειτο καὶ οὐ περιήμπισχεν αὐτὰ ἡ λέξις. ἑβδομηκοντούτης δὲ ἀποθανὼν ᾿Αθήνησιν ἐτάφη οὐκ ἀφανῶς, κεῖται γὰρ πρὸς τοῖς ἐκ τῶν πολέμων ἐν δεξιᾷ τῆς ᾿Ακαδημίανδε καθόδου.

Historia Augusta: Hadrian, XVI: Hurt Feelings and a Great Retirement Plan

“Although he was quick to rebuke musicians, tragedians, comedians, grammarians, rhetoricians, and orators, he still honored all the professors and made them rich—and he continued to annoy them with questions. And, while he was to blame for the fact that many left him in sorrow, he used to say that he could scarcely bear watching someone get their feelings hurt. He was especially close to the philosophers Epictetus and Heliodorus and all sorts of grammarians, rhetoricians, musicians, geometricians, painters, and astrologers, though I would not name them all—and many claim that Favorinus stood out from the rest. The teachers who seemed unfit for their own profession, Hadrian dismissed from their work with money and honors.”

8 Sed quamvis esset in reprehendendis musicis, tragicis, comicis, grammaticis, rhetoribus, oratoribus facilis, tamen omnes professores et honoravit et divites fecit, licet eos quaestionibus semper agitaverit. 9 Et cum ipse auctor esset, ut multi ab eo tristes recederent, dicebat se graviter ferre, si quem tristem videret. 10 In summa familiaritate Epictetum et Heliodorum philosophos et, ne nominatim de omnibus dicam, grammaticos, rhetores, musicos, geometras, pictores, astrologos habuit, prae ceteris, ut multi adserunt, eminente Favorino. 11 Doctores, qui professioni suae inhabiles videbantur, dilatos honoratosque a professione dimisit.

The Historia Augusta are a collection of biographies of Roman Emperors starting with Hadrian (117-138 CE)