Timon


Diogenes Laertius, Book IX - Timon

Losing his parents when young, he became a stage-dancer, but later took a dislike to that pursuit and went abroad to Megara to stay with Stilpo; then after some time he returned home and married. After that he went to Pyrrho at Elis with his wife, and lived there until his children were born; the elder of these he called Xanthus, taught him medicine, and made him his heir.

Timon, however, found himself without means of support and sailed to the Hellespont and Propontis. Living now at Chalcedon as a sophist, he increased his reputation still further and, having made his fortune, went to Athens

Now this philosopher, according to Antigonus, was very fond of gardens and preferred to mind his own affairs. At all events there is a story that Hieronymus the Peripatetic said of him, "Just as with the Scythians those who are in flight shoot as well as those who pursue, so, among philosophers, some catch their disciples by pursuing them, some by fleeing from them, as for instance Timon."

113. He was quick to perceive anything and to turn up his nose in scorn

When disturbed by maidservants and dogs, he would stop writing, his earnest desire being to maintain tranquillity. Aratus is said to have asked him how he could obtain a trustworthy text of Homer, to which he replied, "You can, if you get hold of the ancient copies, and not the corrected copies of our day." He used to let his own poems lie about, sometimes half eaten away. 114. Hence, when he came to read parts of them to Zopyrus the orator, he would turn over the pages and recite whatever came handy; then, when he was half through, he would discover the piece which he had been looking for in vain, so careless was he.[135] Furthermore, he was so easy-going that he would readily go without his dinner. They say that once, when he saw Arcesilaus passing through the "knaves-market," he said, "What business have you to come here, where we are all free men?" He was constantly in the habit of quoting, to those who would admit the evidence of the senses when confirmed by the judgement of the mind, the line

Birds of a feather flock together.

Jesting in this fashion was habitual with him. When a man marvelled at everything, he said, "Why do you not marvel that we three have but four eyes between us?" for in fact he himself had only one eye, as also had his disciple Dioscurides, while the man whom he addressed was normal. 115. Asked once by Arcesilaus why he had come there from Thebes, he replied, "Why, to laugh when I have you all in full view!" Yet, while attacking Arcesilaus in his Silli, he has praised him in his work entitled the Funeral Banquet of Arcesilaus.

Pralus of the Troad. The latter, as we learn from the history of Phylarchus, was a man of such unflinching courage that, although unjustly accused, he patiently suffered a traitor's death, without so much as deigning to speak one word to his fellow-citizens.

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