), an Athenian philosopher and rhetorician, son of a sausage-seller, or, according to other accounts, of Lysanias (D. L. 2.60
; Suidas, s. v. Ἀισχίνης
), and a disciple, although by some of his contemporaries held an unworthy one, of Socrates.
From the account of Laertius, he appears to have been the familiar friend of his great master, who said that " the sausage-seller's son only knew how to honour him."
The same writer has preserved a tradition that it was Aeschines, and not Crito, who offered to assist Socrates in his escape from prison.
The greater part of his life was spent in abject poverty, which gave rise to the advice of Socrates to him, "to borrow money of himself, by diminishing his daily wants."
After the death of his master, according to the charge of Lysias apud Athen.
xiii. p. 611e. f.), he kept a perfumer's shop with borrowed money, and presently becoming bankrupt, was obliged to leave Athens. Whether from necessity or inclination, he followed the fashion of the day, and retired to the Syracusan court, where the friendship of Aristippus might console him for the contempt of Plato.
He remained there until the expulsion of the younger Dionysius, and on his return, finding it useless to attempt a rivalry with his great contemporaries, he gave private lectures. One of the charges which his opponents delighted to repeat, and which by association of ideas constituted him a sophist in the eyes of Plato and his followers, was that of receiving money for his instructions. Another story was invented that these dialogues were really the work of Socrates ; and Aristippus, either from joke or malice, publicly charged Aeschines with the theft while he was reading them at Megara. Plato is related by Hegesander (apud Athen.
xi. p. 507c.) to have stolen from him his solitary pupil Xenocrates.
Dialogues attributed to Aeschines
The three dialogues, Περὶ ἀρετῆς, εἰ διδακτόν
, Ἐρυξίας ἤ περὶ πλούτου
, Ἀξίοχος ἤ περὶ Θανάτου
, which have come down to us under the name of Aeschines are not genuine remains : it is even doubted whether they are the same works which the ancients acknowledged as spurious.
They have been edited by Fischer
, the third edition of which (8vo. Lips. 1786) contains the criticisms of Wolf
, and forms part of a volume of spurious Platonic dialogues (Simonis Socratici ut videtur dialogi quatuor) by Böckh, Heidel. 1810.
The genuine dialogues, from the slight mention made of them by Demetrius Phalereus, seem to have been full of Socratic irony.
Hermogenes, Περὶ Ἰδεῶν
, considers Aeschines as superior to Xenophon in elegance and purity of style.
A long and amusing passage is quoted by Cicero from him.
1.31; Diogenes Laertius, 2.60
, and the authorities collected by Fischer.