Page images
PDF

to multiply 384, the first assumed term, by 27. But why by 27? Because that number is the sum of the first numbers, which represent lines, surfaces, solids, squares, and cubes, added to unity. Thus, 1 is unity; 2 and 3, the first numbers representing lines; 4 and 9, the first surfaces, and both squares, the former of an even number (2), and the latter of an odd number (3); and lastly, 8 and 27, both representing solids and cubes, the former of an even number (2), and the latter of an odd number (3). Taking then the number 27 as the symbol of the world, and the numbers which it contains as the symbols of the elements and their combinations, it was only reasonable for the Soul of the world, which is the very basis of order and of the combinations, which constitute the world, to be composed of the same elements (of order) as the number 27 is itself."

THE

LIFE OF PLATO,

ACCORDING TO

DIOGENES LAERTHIS.

If Plato, an Athenian, was the son of Ariston and Perictione, or Potone,1 who carried up her family to Solon. For Solon's brother was Dropides; whose son was Critias, the father of Cateschrus, whose children were Critias, one of the thirty,2 and Glaucon, from whom were sprung Charmides and Perictione, of whom and of Ariston Plato was the son, the sixth in descent from Solon, who carried up his genealogy to Neleus and Poseidon. They say that his father likewise carried his family up to Codrus, the son of Melanthus, who, according to Thrasyllus, were historically descended from Poseidon. [2.] But Speusippus, in his work entitled " Plato's Funeral Supper,"3 and Clearchus, in his "Praise of Plato," and Anaxilides, in the second book "About Philosophers,"

1 Since the mother of Plato is not called elsewhere Poton6, it would seem, that the name of the daughter (in § 4) has been by some mistake attributed to the parent, contrary to the usual custom of Greece, where girls were never, I believe, called after their mothers, although they were, perhaps, after their grandmothers, just as boys were after their grandfathers. Hence for i/ IIo7wi;c one might read Ik or Otto Horiivijc—

2 By " the thirty" are meant " the thirty tyrants," as they were called, who were appointed by Lysander to be the Board of Directors at Athens, after the city had fallen into the power of the Lacedaemonians.

3 In lieu of Trtpi diiwov, I have adopted TrtpiSi'iw^i, as recommended by Menage. For irtpiStnrvov, as we learn from Suidas, was a supper in honour of the dead, and one at which it was customary to speak an eulogy on the deceased. Now as Plato died at a marriage feast, according to the account given just afterwards, and alluded to in § 45, it is not difficult to see what was probably the subject of the Htpideiirvov written by Speusippus, the nephew of Plato.

state that there was a story at Athens, how that Ariston attempted to violate Perictione, then in her prime, and not succeeding, beheld, on ceasing from his violence, a vision of Apollo, 1 from which time he kept her undefiled by the rights of marriage until her delivery;1 when Plato, says Apollodorus, in his " Chronicles," was born in 01. 88, on the seventh of Thargelion, (i. e. April,) the day on which the Delians say Apollo was born; and he died, as Hermippus states, while supping at a marriage feast,2 in the first year of 01. 108, having lived 81 years.3 [3.] But Neanthes says he died in his 84th year. He was therefore younger than Isocrates by 6 years ;4 who was born in the archonship of Lysimachus; but Plato in that of Ameinias,5 during which Pericles died. He was of the ward of Colyttus, as Antileon states in the second book " On Chronology;" but according to some he was born at iEgina, in the house of Phidiades, the son of Thales, as Phavorinus says in his "Various History," through his father having been sent (thither), together with some others, as an allotment-holder,6 but who returned to Athens, when those parties were driven out by the Lacedaemonians, who assisted the people of iEgina. He acted moreover as a Choregus, the means being furnished by Dion,7 as Athenodorus

11 The story, told here rather indistinctly by Diogenes, is given more clearly by Plutarch in Sympos. viii. 1, and the other authors quoted by Casaubon and Menage; from whom it appears, that Plato was said to have been the son of Apollo, and not of Aristo, who married Perictione, not knowing that she was already pregnant by the god.

1 But Cicero, de Senect. § 5, says that Plato died while in the act of writing. Here, instead of ya'jtoic, Clinton in Fast. Hellenic, p. 139, = 149, ed. Krueger, would read vevtSXioif, "his birthday."

a But Athenseus, in v. c. 18, says that Plato died in his 82nd year. The discrepancy in the account of Neanthes is owing, perhaps, to the error of A (4) for A (1) found in the MS. of that author, which Diogenes made use of.

4 Meursius, De Archont. Athen. iii. 2, would read ? (7) for T (6), on the authority of Pseudo-Plutarch's Life of Isocrates.

s Instead of " Ameinias," Salmasius proposed to read "Ameinon." The word in Diodorus is Epameinondas. But no Athenian, eligible for the Archonship, would have been called by a name with the Doric termination in "das," instead of the Attic in " des." Athenseus has Epameinon. In such a variety of readings, who, asks Menage, can detect the true one?

6 On the allotment-holders sent to .lEgina, see Thucyd. ii. 27. 'The same fact is mentioned by Plutarch likewise, in Dion. p. 964, F., quoted by Casaubon.

states in the eighth book of his "Peripatetics." H. J He had two brothers, Adeimantus and Glaucon, and a sister, Poton4 of whom Speusippus was the son. 1 He received his boyhood's education1 under Dionysius, of whom he makes mention in " The Rivals;" but became a gymnast under the wrestler Ariston of Argos; by whom he was called Plato on account of his fine habit of body, having borne previously the name of Aristocles after his grandfather,2 as Alexander states in his " Successions ;"8 but some (say) he was called so from Hhe breadth of his interpretation,4 5 or because he was of a broad face, as Neanthes asserts.5 There are also those who state that he wrestled at the Isthmus,6 as Dicsearchus does in his first book " On Lives ;"7 [5.] and that he paid some attention to painting; and wrote poetry, at first dithyrambs,8 and subsequently songs and tragedies; and they say9 he had a thin voice,10 as Timotheus of Athens states in his work " On Lives." It is said moreover that Socrates saw in a dream

'—1 Such is the proper translation of i7raidtv9ri ypd/iuaTa. For by ypdppaTa, literally "letters," was meant every thing that a boy was taught in his earliest years.

! As the name of Aristocles does not appear in the genealogy on the mother's side, the person alluded to was of course the father of Ariston.

'By the word " Successions" are to he understood those that occurred in the different schools of philosophy.

'—' Such is the literal version of Tt)v 7rX<zrwnjra rijc s' p/Jijwi'ac, which Menage renders " orationis ubertatem." But such neither is, nor could be, the meaning of ep/ij)i>eiac. Diogenes probably wrote eipmvtiag. For "irony" is the figure of speech constantly adopted by Socrates. Compare Sympos. p. 218, D. /io'Xa etpamcfic- Rep. i. p. 337, A., ij tluBvia a'puwio Suucparovc. And thus the expression i; TrXariri/c rijc tlpuviia{ may be compared with 7rXaric yeXwc, which Herodian, at the end of Phryiuchus, p. 471, ed. Lobeck, says is more elegant than yeXwc Ttoxuc.

*—s The words between the numerals ought to be placed after /utwvoHaaBi) a little above—for thus the three different reasons, why Plato's name was changed from Aristocles, will be properly assigned to three different authorities.

'Where the Isthmian games were celebrated.

7 Of these Lives by Dicsearchus, a fragment of one has come down to us, under the title of Bi'oc 'EXXaooc—

'.Elian, in V. H. ii. 30, says that Plato first wrote Heroic verses, not Dithyrambs.

* Instead of ipaaiv, " they say," one would prefer tphoiv, " by nature." The two words are constantly confounded.

* So Menage rightly understands wxvo<piavoQ: although he did not see mat in Hesych. 'Iff^vo^wvoc* X£7rr6^wvoc, airtxoptvos rrjv Qwvriv, the cornet reading is Kartaxojuvoq—the explanation of 'w%6f<iivoq,

VOL, VI. N

« PreviousContinue »