), of Thebes, was a disciple of Philolaus, the Pythagorean, and of Socrates, with whom he was connected by intimate friendship. (Xen. Mem. 1.2.28
; Plat. Crit.
He is introduced by Plato as one of the interlocutors in the Phaedo, and as having been present at the death of Socrates. (Phaed.
He is said on the advice of Socrates to have purchased Phaedo, who had been a slave, and to have instructed him in philosophy. (Gel. 2.18
; Macr. 1.11
; Lactant. 3.24.)
Diogenes Laertius (2.125) and Suidas ascribe to him three works, viz. Πίναξ
, and Φρύνιχος
, all of which Eudocia (p. 272) erroneously attributes to Callippus of Athens.
The last two of these works are lost, and we do not know what they treated of, but the Πίναξ
is still extant, and is referred to by several ancient writers. (Lucian, Apolog.
42, Rhet. Praecept.
6; Pollux, 3.95 ; Tertullian, De Praescript.
39; Aristaenet. 1.2.)
is a philosophical explanation of a table on which the whole of human life with its dangers and temptations was symbolically represented, and which is said to have been dedicated by some one in the temple of Cronos at Athens or Thebes.
The author introduces some youths contemplating the table, and an old man who steps among them undertakes to explain its meaning.
The whole drift of the little book is to shew, that only the proper development of our mind and the possession of real virtues can make us truly happy. Suidas calls this πίναξ
a διήγησις τῶν ἐν Ἅιδου
, an explanation which is not applicable to the work now extant, and some have therefore thought, that the πίναξ
to which Suidas refers was a different work from the one we possess.
This and other circumstances have led some critics to doubt whether our πίναξ
is the work of the Theban Cebes, and to ascribe it to a later Cebes of Cyzicus, a Stoic philosopher of the time of Marcus Aurelius. (Athen. 4.156
But the πίναξ
which is now extant is manifestly written in a Socratic spirit and on Socratic principles, so that at any rate its author is much more likely to have been a Socratic than a Stoic philosopher.
There are, it is true, some few passages (e. g.
100.13) where persons are mentioned belonging to a later age than that of the Theban Cebes, but there is little doubt but that this and a few similar passages are interpolations by a later hand, which cannot surprise us in the case of a work of such popularity as the πίναξ
of Cebes. For, owing to its ethical character, it was formerly extremely popular, and the editions and translations of it are very numerous.
It has been translated into all the languages of Europe, and even into Russian, modern Greek, and Arabic.
The first edition of it was in a Latin translation by L. Odaxius, Bologna, 1497.
In this edition, as in nearly all the subsequent ones, it is printed together with the Enchiridion of Epictetus.
The first edition of the Greek text with a Latin translation is that of Aldus (Venice, 4to., without date), who printed it together with the " Institutiones et alia Opuscula" of C. Lascaris.
This was followed by a great number of other editions, among which we need notice only those of H. Wolf (Basel, 1560, 8vo.)
, the Leiden edition (1640, 4to., with an Arabic translation by Elichmann) of Jac. Gronovius (Amsterdam, 1689, 8vo.)
, J. Schulze (Hamburg, 1694, 12mo.)
, T. Hemsterhuis (Amsterdam, 1708, 12mo., together with some dialogues of Lucian)
, M. Meibom, and Adr. Reland (Utrecht, 1711, 4to.)
, and Th. Johnson. (London, 1720, 8vo.)
The best modern editions are those of Schweighaüser in his edition of Epictetus, and also separately printed (Strassburg, 1806, 12mo.)
, and of A. Coraes in his edition of Epictetus. (Paris, 1826, 8vo.)
Fabric. Bibl. Graec.
ii. p. 702, &c.; Klopfer, De Cebetis Tabula tres Dissertationes,
Zwickau, 1818, &c., 4to.; Mémoires de l'Académie des Inscript.
iii. p. 146, &c., xlviii. p. 455, &c.