|3. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of The Philosophers, 9.61-9.64, 9.67-9.69, 9.72 (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)
Tagged with subjects: • Anaxarchus • Anaxarchus xxv • Anaxarchus xxv, and indifference regarding value • Anaxarchus xxv, attitude to law and custom • Anaxarchus xxv, textual evidence • Democritus, and Anaxarchus • Pyrrho, and Anaxarchus • atomism, of Anaxarchus
Found in books: Long (2006), From Epicurus to Epictetus Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy, 74, 85; Vogt (2015), Pyrrhonian Skepticism in Diogenes Laertius. 52, 76, 105; Wolfsdorf (2020), Early Greek Ethics, 680, 681, 682, 683, 690, 695, 696
9.61 11. PYRRHOPyrrho of Elis was the son of Pleistarchus, as Diocles relates. According to Apollodorus in his Chronology, he was first a painter; then he studied under Stilpo's son Bryson: thus Alexander in his Successions of Philosophers. Afterwards he joined Anaxarchus, whom he accompanied on his travels everywhere so that he even forgathered with the Indian Gymnosophists and with the Magi. This led him to adopt a most noble philosophy, to quote Ascanius of Abdera, taking the form of agnosticism and suspension of judgement. He denied that anything was honourable or dishonourable, just or unjust. And so, universally, he held that there is nothing really existent, but custom and convention govern human action; for no single thing is in itself any more this than that." "9.62 He led a life consistent with this doctrine, going out of his way for nothing, taking no precaution, but facing all risks as they came, whether carts, precipices, dogs or what not, and, generally, leaving nothing to the arbitrament of the senses; but he was kept out of harm's way by his friends who, as Antigonus of Carystus tells us, used to follow close after him. But Aenesidemus says that it was only his philosophy that was based upon suspension of judgement, and that he did not lack foresight in his everyday acts. He lived to be nearly ninety.This is what Antigonus of Carystus says of Pyrrho in his book upon him. At first he was a poor and unknown painter, and there are still some indifferent torch-racers of his in the gymnasium at Elis." '9.63 He would withdraw from the world and live in solitude, rarely showing himself to his relatives; this he did because he had heard an Indian reproach Anaxarchus, telling him that he would never be able to teach others what is good while he himself danced attendance on kings in their courts. He would maintain the same composure at all times, so that, even if you left him when he was in the middle of a speech, he would finish what he had to say with no audience but himself, although in his youth he had been hasty. often, our informant adds, he would leave his home and, telling no one, would go roaming about with whomsoever he chanced to meet. And once, when Anaxarchus fell into a slough, he passed by without giving him any help, and, while others blamed him, Anaxarchus himself praised his indifference and sang-froid.' "9.64 On being discovered once talking to himself, he answered, when asked the reason, that he was training to be good. In debate he was looked down upon by no one, for he could both discourse at length and also sustain a cross-examination, so that even Nausiphanes when a young man was captivated by him: at all events he used to say that we should follow Pyrrho in disposition but himself in doctrine; and he would often remark that Epicurus, greatly admiring Pyrrho's way of life, regularly asked him for information about Pyrrho; and that he was so respected by his native city that they made him high priest, and on his account they voted that all philosophers should be exempt from taxation.Moreover, there were many who emulated his abstention from affairs, so that Timon in his Pytho and in his Silli says:" 9.67 They say that, when septic salves and surgical and caustic remedies were applied to a wound he had sustained, he did not so much as frown. Timon also portrays his disposition in the full account which he gives of him to Pytho. Philo of Athens, a friend of his, used to say that he was most fond of Democritus, and then of Homer, admiring him and continually repeating the lineAs leaves on trees, such is the life of man.He also admired Homer because he likened men to wasps, flies, and birds, and would quote these verses as well:Ay, friend, die thou; why thus thy fate deplore?Patroclus too, thy better, is no more,and all the passages which dwell on the unstable purpose, vain pursuits, and childish folly of man. 9.68 Posidonius, too, relates of him a story of this sort. When his fellow-passengers on board a ship were all unnerved by a storm, he kept calm and confident, pointing to a little pig in the ship that went on eating, and telling them that such was the unperturbed state in which the wise man should keep himself. Numenius alone attributes to him positive tenets. He had pupils of repute, in particular one Eurylochus, who fell short of his professions; for they say that he was once so angry that he seized the spit with the meat on it and chased his cook right into the market-place.' "9.69 Once in Elis he was so hard pressed by his pupils' questions that he stripped and swam across the Alpheus. Now he was, as Timon too says, most hostile to Sophists.Philo, again, who had a habit of very often talking to himself, is also referred to in the lines:Yea, him that is far away from men, at leisure to himself,Philo, who recks not of opinion or of wrangling.Besides these, Pyrrho's pupils included Hecataeus of Abdera, Timon of Phlius, author of the Silli, of whom more anon, and also Nausiphanes of Teos, said by some to have been a teacher of Epicurus. All these were called Pyrrhoneans after the name of their master, but Aporetics, Sceptics, Ephectics, and even Zetetics, from their principles, if we may call them such —" "
9.72 Furthermore, they find Xenophanes, Zeno of Elea, and Democritus to be sceptics: Xenophanes because he says,Clear truth hath no man seen nor e'er shall knowand Zeno because he would destroy motion, saying, A moving body moves neither where it is nor where it is not; Democritus because he rejects qualities, saying, Opinion says hot or cold, but the reality is atoms and empty space, and again, of a truth we know nothing, for truth is in a well. Plato, too, leaves the truth to gods and sons of gods, and seeks after the probable explanation. Euripides says:"" None