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PHAEDO of Elis belonged to that famous Socratic band and was on terms of close intimacy with Socrates and Plato. His name was given by Plato to that inspired dialogue of his on the immortality of the soul. This Phaedo, though a slave, was of noble person and intellect, 1 and according to some writers, in his boyhood was driven to prostitution by his master, who was a pander. We are told that Cebes the Socratic, at Socrates' earnest request, bought Phaedo and gave him the opportunity of studying philosophy. And he afterwards became a distinguished philosopher, whose very tasteful discourses on Socrates are in circulation. There were not a few other slaves too who afterwards became famous philosophers, among them that Menippus whose works Marcus Varro emulated 2 in those satires which others call “Cynic,” but he himself, “Menippean.” 3 [p. 173] Besides these, Pompylus, the slave of the Peripatetic Theophrastus, and the slave of the Stoic Zeno who was called Persaeus, and the slave of Epicurus whose name was Mys, were philosophers of repute. 4 Diogenes the Cynic also served as a slave, but he was a freeborn man, who was sold into slavery. When Xeniades of Corinth wished to buy him and asked whether he knew any trade, Diogenes replied: “I know how to govern free men.” 5 Then Xeniades, in admiration of his answer, bought him, set him free, and entrusting to him his own children, said: “Take my children to govern.” But as to the well-known philosopher Epictetus, the fact that he too was a slave is too fresh in our memory to need to be committed to writing, as if it had been forgotten.
1 It must be remembered that the slaves of the Greeks and Romans were often freeborn children, who had been cast off by their parents, or free men, who had been taken prisoner in war. Phaedo belonged to the latter class, and the details of his life are very uncertain.
2 The word implies, not merely imitation, but rivalry, a recognized principle in classic literature; see Revue des Études Latines, II. (1924), pp. 46ff.
3 See note 1, p. 85.
4 I. 438, Arn.
5 The word for free men and children is the same (liberi), but it seems impossible to reproduce the word play in English.
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