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XVII

[17arg] The statement of men of the highest authority that Plato bought three books of Philolaus the Pythagorean, and that Aristotle purchased a few books of the philosopher Speusippus, at prices beyond belief.


THE story goes that the philosopher Plato was a man of very slender means, but that nevertheless he bought three books of Philolaus the Pythagorean for ten thousand denarii.1 That sum, according to some writers, was given him by his friend Dion of Syracuse.

Aristotle too, according to report, bought a very few books of the philosopher Speusippus, after the latter's death, for three Attic talents, a sum equivalent in our money to seventy-two thousand sesterces. 1

The bitter satirist Timon wrote a highly abusive work, which he entitled σίλλος. 2 In that book he addresses the philosopher Plato in opprobrious terms, alleging that he had bought a treatise on the Pythagorean philosophy at an extravagant figure, and that from it he had compiled that celebrated dialogue the Timaeus. Here are Timon's lines on the subject: 3

Thou, Plato, since for learning thou didst yearn,
A tiny book for a vast sum did'st buy,
Which taught thee a Timacus to compose.

1 These were very high prices. The first book of Martial's Epigrams, 700 lines, in an elegant form, cost only five denarii, and cheaper editions could be bought for from six to ten sesterces. See Martial, i. 117. 15ff., and Friedländer, Roman Life and Manners, Eng. Trans., iii. p. 37.

2 Meaning a lampoon, or satirical poem.

3 Poet. Phil. Frag. 54, Diehls; Poesis Ludib. 26, p 130, Wachsmuth.

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