Chapter 2. THEOPHRASTUS (c. 370-286 B.C.)
(Head of the School from 323 B.C.)
Theophrastus was a native of Eresus, the son of
Melantes, a fuller, as stated by Athenodorus in the
eighth book of his
He first heard his
countryman Alcippus lecture in his native town and afterwards he heard Plato, whom he left for Aristotle.
And when the latter withdrew to Chalcis he took
over the school himself in the 114th Olympiad.1
A slave of his named Pompylus is also said to have
been a philosopher, according to Myronianus of
Amastris in the first book of his
Theophrastus was a man of remarkable intelligence
and industry and, as Pamphila says in the thirtysecond book of her
, he taught Menander
the comic poet.
Furthermore, he was ever ready
to do a kindness and fond of discussion. Casander
certainly granted him audience and Ptolemy made
overtures to him. And so highly was he valued at
Athens that, when Agnonides ventured to prosecute
him for impiety, the prosecutor himself narrowly
escaped punishment. About 2000 pupils used to
attend his lectures. In a letter to Phanias the
Peripatetic, among other topics, he speaks of a
tribunal as follows2
: "To get a public or even
select circle such as one desires is not easy. If an
author reads his work, he must re-write it. Always
to shirk revision and ignore criticism is a course
which the present generation of pupils will no longer
tolerate." And in this letter he has called some
Although his reputation stood so high, nevertheless
for a short time he had to leave the country with all
the other philosophers, when Sophocles the son of
Amphiclides proposed a law that no philosopher
should preside over a school except by permission
of the Senate and the people, under penalty of death.
The next year, however, the philosophers returned,
as Philo had prosecuted Sophocles for making an
illegal proposal. Whereupon the Athenians repealed
the law, fined Sophocles five talents, and voted the
recall of the philosophers, in order that Theophrastus
also might return and live there as before. He bore
the name of Tyrtamus, and it was Aristotle who
re-named him Theophrastus on account of his
And Aristippus, in his fourth book
On the Luxury of the Ancients
, asserts that he was
enamoured of Aristotle's son Nicomachus, although
he was his teacher. It is said that Aristotle applied
to him and Callisthenes what Plato had said of
Xenocrates and himself (as already related), namely,
that the one needed a bridle and the other a goad;
for Theophrastus interpreted all his meaning with
an excess of cleverness, whereas the other was
naturally backward. He is said to have become
the owner of a garden of his own after Aristotle's
death, through the intervention of his friend
Demetrius of Phalerum. There are pithy sayings of
his in circulation as follows: "An unbridled horse,"
he said, "ought to be trusted sooner than a
To some one who never
opened his lips at a banquet he remarked: "Yours
is a wise course for an ignoramus, but in an educated
man it is sheer folly." He used constantly to say
that in our expenditure the item that costs most is
He died at the age of eighty-five, not long after
he had relinquished his labours. My verses upon
him are these3
Not in vain was the word spoken to one of human kind,
"Slacken the bow of wisdom and it breaks." Of a truth, so
long as Theophrastus laboured he was sound of limb, but
when released from toil his limbs failed him and he died.
It is said that his disciples asked him if he had
any last message for them, to which he replied:
"Nothing else but this, that many of the pleasures
which life boasts are but in the seeming.
we are just beginning to live, lo! we die. Nothing
then is so unprofitable as the love of glory. Farewell,
and may you be happy. Either drop my doctrine,
which involves a world of labour, or stand forth its
worthy champions, for you will win great glory.
Life holds more disappointment than advantage.
But, as I can no longer discuss what we ought to do,
do you go on with the inquiry into right conduct."
With these words, they say, he breathed his last.
And according to the story all the Athenians, out of
respect for the man, escorted his bier on foot. And
Favorinus tells that he had in his old age to be carried
about in a litter4
; and this he says on the authority
of Hermippus, whose account is taken from a remark
of Arcesilaus of Pitane to Lacydes of Cyrene.
He too has left a very large number of writings.
I think it right to catalogue them also because they
abound in excellence of every kind. They are as
Three books of Prior Analytics.
Seven books of Posterior Analytics.
On the Analysis of Syllogisms, one book.
Epitome of Analytics, one book.
Two books of Classified Topics.
Polemical discussion on the Theory of Eristic Argument.
Of the Senses, one book.
A Reply to Anaxagoras, one book.
On the Writings of Anaxagoras, one book.
On the Writings of Anaximenes, one book.
On the Writings of Archelaus, one book.
Of Salt, Nitre and Alum, one book.
Of Petrifactions, two books.
On Indivisible Lines, one book.
Two books of Lectures.
Of the Winds, one book.
Characteristics of Virtues, one book.
Of Kingship, one book.
Of the Education of Kings, one book.
Of Various Schemes of Life, three books.
Of Old Age, one book.
On the Astronomy of Democritus, one book.
On Meteorology, one book.
On Visual Images or Emanations, one book.
On Flavours, Colours and Flesh, one book.
Of the Order of the World, one book.
Of Mankind, one book.
Compendium of the Writings of Diogenes, one book.
Three books of Definitions.
Concerning Love, one book.
Another Treatise on Love, one book.
Of Happiness, one book.
On Species or Forms, two books.
On Epilepsy, one book.
On Frenzy, one book.
Concerning Empedocles, one book.
Eighteen books of Refutative Arguments.
Three books of Polemical Objections.
Of the Voluntary, one book.
Epitome of Plato's Republic, two books.
On the Diversity of Sounds uttered by Animals of
the same Species, one book.
Of Sudden Appearances, one book.
Of Animals which bite or gore, one book.
Of Animals reputed to be spiteful, one book.
Of the Animals which are confined to Dry Land, one
Of those which change their Colours, one book.
Of Animals that burrow, one book.
Of Animals, seven books.
Of Pleasure according to Aristotle, one book.
Another treatise on Pleasure, one book.
Theses, twenty-four books.
On Hot and Cold, one book.
On Vertigo and Dizziness, one book.
On Sweating Sickness, one book.
On Affirmation and Negation, one book.
Callisthenes, or On Bereavement, one book.
On Fatigues, one book.
On Motion, three books.
On Precious Stones, one book.
On Pestilences, one book.
On Fainting, one book.
Megarian Treatise, one book.
Of Melancholy, one book.
On Mines, two books.
On Honey, one book.
Compendium on the Doctrines of Metrodorus, one
Two books of Meteorology.
On Intoxication, one book.
Twenty-four books of Laws distinguished by the
letters of the alphabet.
Ten books of an Epitome of Laws.
Remarks upon Definitions, one book.
On Smells, one book.
On Wine and Oil.
Introduction to Propositions, eighteen books.
Of Legislators, three books.
Of Politics, six books.
A Political Treatise dealing with important Crises,
Of Social Customs, four books.
Of the Best Constitution, one book.
A Collection of Problems, five books.
On Proverbs, one book.
On Coagulation and Liquefaction, one book.
On Fire, two books.
On Winds, one book.
Of Paralysis, one book.
Of Suffocation, one book.
Of Mental Derangement, one book.
On the Passions, one book.
On Symptoms, one book.
Two books of Sophisms.
On the solution of Syllogisms, one book.
Two books of Topics.
Of Punishment, two books.
On Hair, one book.
Of Tyranny, one book.
On Water, three books.
On Sleep and Dreams, one book.
Of Friendship, three books.
Of Ambition, two books.
On Nature, three books.
On Physics, eighteen books.
An Epitome of Physics, two books.
Eight books of Physics.
A Reply to the Physical Philosophers, one book
Of Botanical Researches, ten books.
Of Botanical Causes, eight books.
On Juices, five books.
Of False Pleasure, one book.
One Dissertation on the Soul.
On Unscientific Proofs, one book.
On Simple Problems, one book.
Harmonics, one book.
Of Virtue, one book.
Materials for Argument, or Contrarieties, one
On Negation, one book.
On Judgement, one book.
Of the Ludicrous, one book.
Afternoon Essays, two books.
Divisions, two books.
On Differences, one book.
On Crimes, one book.
On Calumny, one book.
Of Praise, one book.
Of Experience, one book.
Three books of Letters.
On Animals produced spontaneously, one book.
Of Secretion, one book.
Panegyrics on the Gods, one book.
On Festivals, one book.
Of Good Fortune, one book.
On Enthymemes, one book.
Of Discoveries, two books.
Lectures on Ethics, one book.
Character Sketches, one book.
On Tumult or Riot, one book.
On Research, one book.
On Judging of Syllogisms, one book.
Of Flattery, one book.
Of the Sea, one book.
To Casander on Kingship, one book.
Of Comedy, one book.
[Of Metres, one book.]
Of Diction, one book.
A Compendium of Arguments, one book.
Solutions, one book.
On Music, three books.
On Measures, one book.
Megacles, one book.
On Laws, one book.
On Illegalities, one book.
A Compendium of the Writings of Xenocrates, one
Concerning Conversation, one book.
On Taking an Oath, one book.
Rhetorical Precepts, one book.
Of Wealth, one book.
On the Art of Poetry, one book.
Problems in Politics, Ethics, Physics, and in the Art
of Love, one book.
Preludes, one book.
A Collection of Problems, one book.
On Physical Problems, one book.
On Example, one book.
On Introduction and Narrative, one book.
Another tract on the Art of Poetry, one book.
Of the Wise, one book.
On Consultation, one book.
On Solecisms, one book.
On the Art of Rhetoric, one book.
The Special Commonplaces of the Treatises on
Rhetoric, seventeen books.
On Acting, one book.
Lecture Notes of Aristotle or Theophrastus, six books.
Sixteen books of Physical Opinions.
Epitome of Physical Opinions, one book.
On Gratitude, one book.
[Character Sketches, one book.]
On Truth and Falsehood, one book.
The History of Theological Inquiry, six books.
Of the Gods, three books.
Geometrical Researches, four books.
Epitomes of Aristotle's work on Animals, six books.
Two books of Refutative Arguments.
Theses, three books.
Of Kingship, two books.
Of Causes, one book.
On Democritus, one book.
[Of Calumny, one book.]
Of Becoming, one book.
Of the Intelligence and Character of Animals, one
On Motion, two books.
On Vision, four books.
Relating to Definitions, two books.
On Data, one book.
On Greater and Less, one book.
On the Musicians, one book.
Of the Happiness of the Gods, one book.
A Reply to the Academics, one book.
Exhortation to Philosophy, one book.
How States can best be governed, one book.
Lecture-Notes, one book.
On the Eruption in Sicily, one book.
On Things generally admitted, one book.
[On Problems in Physics, one book.]
What are the methods of attaining Knowledge, one
On the Fallacy known as the Liar, three books.
Prolegomena to Topics, one book.
Relating to Aeschylus, one book.
Astronomical Research, six books.
Arithmetical Researches on Growth, one book.
Acicharus, one book.
On Forensic Speeches, one book.
[Of Calumny, one book.]
Correspondence with Astycreon, Phanias and Nicanor.
Of Piety, one book.
Evias, one book.
On Times of Crisis, two books.
On Relevant Arguments, one book.
On the Education of Children, one book.
Another treatise with the same title, one book.
Of Education or of the Virtues or of Temperance, one
[An Exhortation to Philosophy, one book.]
On Numbers, one book.
Definitions concerning the Diction of Syllogisms, one
Of the Heavens, one book.
Concerning Politics, two books.
In all 232,808 lines. So much for his writings.
I have also come across his will, couched in the
"All will be well; but in case anything should
happen, I make these dispositions. I give and bequeath all my property at home5
to Melantes and
Pancreon, the sons of Leon. It is my wish that out
of the trust funds at the disposal of Hipparchus
the following appropriations should be made. First,
they should be applied to finish the rebuilding of
the Museum with the statues of the goddesses, and
to add any improvements which seem practicable to
Secondly, to replace in the temple
the bust of Aristotle with the rest of the dedicated
offerings which formerly were in the temple. Next,
to rebuild the small cloister adjoining the Museum
at least as handsomely as before, and to replace in
the lower cloister the tablets containing maps of the
countries traversed by explorers.
Further, to repair
the altar so that it may be perfect and elegant. It
is also my wish that the statue of Nicomachus should
be completed of life size. The price agreed upon
for the making of the statue itself has been paid to
Praxiteles, but the rest of the cost should be defrayed
from the source above mentioned. The statue should
be set up in whatever place seems desirable to the
executors entrusted with carrying out my other
testamentary dispositions. Let all that concerns the
temple and the offerings set up be arranged in this
manner. The estate at Stagira belonging to me I
give and bequeath to Callinus. The whole of my
library I give to Neleus. The garden and the walk
and the houses adjoining the garden, all and sundry,
I give and bequeath to such of my friends hereinafter named as may wish to study literature and
philosophy there in common,
since it is not possible
for all men to be always in residence, on condition
that no one alienates the property or devotes it to
his private use, but so that they hold it like a temple
in joint possession and live, as is right and proper,
on terms of familiarity and friendship. Let the
community consist of Hipparchus, Neleus, Strato,
Callinus, Demotimus, Demaratus, Callisthenes,
Melantes, Pancreon, Nicippus. Aristotle, the son
of Metrodorus and Pythias, shall also have the right
to study and associate with them if he so desire.
And the oldest of them shall pay every attention to
him, in order to ensure for him the utmost proficiency in philosophy. Let me be buried in any
spot in the garden which seems most suitable,
without unnecessary outlay upon my funeral or
upon my monument.
And according to previous
agreement let the charge of attending, after my
decease, to the temple and the monument and the
garden and the walk be shared by Pompylus in
person, living close by as he does, and exercising the
same supervision over all other matters as before;
and those who hold the property shall watch over
his interests. Pompylus and Threpta have long been
emancipated and have done me much service; and
I think that 2000 drachmas certainly ought to belong
to them from previous payments made to them by
me, from their own earnings, and my present bequest
to them to be paid by Hipparchus, as I stated many
times in conversation with Melantes and Pancreon
themselves, who agreed with me. I give and bequeath to them the maidservant Somatale.
my slaves I at once emancipate Molon and Timon
and Parmeno; to Manes and Callias I give their
freedom on condition that they stay four years in the
garden and work there together and that their conduct is free from blame. Of my household furniture
let so much as the executors think right be given to
Pompylus and let the rest be sold. I also devise
Carion to Demotimus, and Donax to Neleus. But
Euboeus must be sold. Let Hipparchus pay to
Callinus 3000 drachmas. And if I had not seen that
Hipparchus had done great service to Melantes and
Pancreon and formerly to me, and that now in his
private affairs he has made shipwreck, I would have
appointed him jointly with Melantes and Pancreon
to carry out my wishes.
But, since I saw that it
was not easy for them to share the management
with him, and I thought it more advantageous for
them to receive a fixed sum from Hipparchus, let
Hipparchus pay Melantes and Pancreon one talent
each and let Hipparchus provide funds for the
executors to defray the expenses set down in the
will, as each disbursement falls due. And when
Hipparchus shall have carried out all these injunctions, he shall be released in full from his liabilities
to me. And any advance that he has made in
Chalcis in my name belongs to him alone. Let
Hipparchus, Neleus, Strato, Callinus, Demotimus,
Callisthenes and Ctesarchus be executors to carry out
the terms of the will.
One copy of the will, sealed
with the signet-ring of Theophrastus, is deposited
with Hegesias, the son of Hipparchus, the witnesses
being Callippus of Pallene, Philomelus of Euonymaea,
Lysander of Hyba, and Philo of Alopece. Olympiodorus has another copy, the witnesses being the
same. The third copy was received by Adeimantus,
the bearer being Androsthenes junior; and the
witnesses are Arimnestus the son of Cleobulus,
Lysistratus the son of Pheidon of Thasos, Strato
the son of Arcesilaus of Lampsacus, Thesippus the
son of Thesippus of Cerameis, and Dioscurides the
son of Dionysius of Epicephisia."
Such is the tenor of his will.
There are some who say that Erasistratus the
physician was also a pupil of his, and it is not