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*Xru/sippos), a Stoic philosopher, son of Apollonius of Tarsus, but born himself at Soli in Cilicia. When young, he lost his paternal property, for some reason unknown to us, and went to Athens, where he became the disciple of Cleanthes, who was then at the head of the Stoical school. Some say that he even heard Zeno, a possible but not probable statement, as Zeno died B. C. 264, and Chrysippus was born B. C. 280. He does not appear to have embraced the doctrines of the Stoics without considerable hesitation, as we hear that he studied the Academic philosophy, and for some time openly dissented from Cleanthes. Disliking the Academic scepticism, he became one of the most strenuous supporters of the principle, that knowledge is attainable and may be established on certain foundations. Hence, though not the founder of the Stoic school, he was the first person who based its doctrines on a plausible system of reasoning, so that it was said, "if Chrysippus had not existed, the Porch could not have been" (D. L. 7.183), and along the later Stoics his opinions had more weight than those of either Zeno or Cleanthes, and he was considered an authority from which there was no appeal. He died B. C. 207, aged 73 (Laert. l.c.), though Valerins Maximus (8.7.10) says, that he lived till past 80. Various stories are handed down by tradition to account for his death--as that he died from a fit of laughter on seeing a donkey eat figs, or that he fell sick at a sacrificial feast, and died five days after.

With regard to the worth of Chrysippus as a philosopher, it is the opinion of Ritter that, in spite of the common statement that he differed ill some points from Zeno and Cleanthes (Cic. Aced. 2.47), he was not in truth so much the author of any new doctrines as the successful opponent of those who dissented from the existing Stoic system, and the inventor of new arguments in its support. With the reasoning of his predecessors he appears to have been dissatisfied, from the story of his telling Cleanthes that he only wished to learn the principles of his school, and would himself provide arguments to defend them. Besides his struggles against the Academy, he felt very strongly the dangerous influence of the Epicurean system; and in order to counterbalance the seductive influence of their moral theory, he seems to have wished in some degree to popularize the Stoic doctrine, and to give to the study of ethics a more prominent place than was consistent with his statement, that physics (under which he included the whole science of theology, or investigations into the nature of God) was the highest branch of philosophy. This is one of the contradictions for which he is reproached by Plutarch, whose work De Stoicoruma Repugneantiis is written chiefly against his inconsistencies, some of which are important, some merely verbal. The third of the ancient divisions of philosophy, logic (or the theory of the sources of human knowledge), was not considered by Chrysippus of the same importance as it had appeared to Plato and Aristotle; and he followed the Epicureans in calling it rather the organum of philosophy than a part of philosophy itself. He was also strongly opposed to another opinion of Aristotle, viz. that a life of contemplative solitude is best suited to the wise man--considering this a mere pretext for selfish enjoyment, and extolling a life of energy and activity. (Plut. de Stoic. Rep. ii.)

Chrysippus is pronounced by Cicero (de Nat. Deor. 3.10) "homo sine dubio versutus, et callidus," and the same character of quickness and sagacity was generally attributed to him by the ancients.


Chrysippus' industry was so great, that he is said to have seldom written less than 500 lines a-day, and to have left behind him 705 works.

These however seem to have consisted very largely of quotations, and to have been undistinguished for elegance of style. Though none of them are extant, yet his fragments are much more numerous than those of his two predecessors. His erudition was profound, he is called by Cicero (Tusc. 1.45) "in omni historia curiosus," and he appears to have overlooked no branch of study except mathematics and natural philosophy, which were neglected by the Stoics till the time of Posidonius. His taste for analysing and refuting fallacies and sophistical subtleties was derived from the Megarians (Plut. Stoic. Rep. x.) : in the whole of this branch of reasoning he was very successful, and has left numerous treatises on the subject, e.g. περὶ τῶν πέντε πτωσέων, περὶ λεξέων, κ. τ. λ. (D. L. 7.192, 193.) He was the inventor of the kind of argument called Sorites. (Chrysippi acervus, Pers. Sat. 6.80.)

Physical Appearence

In person he was so slight, that his statue in the Cerameicus was hidden by a neighbouring figure of a horse; whence Carneades, who, as head of the Academy, bore him no great goodwill, gave him the soubriquet of Κρύψιππος.

Further Information

Orelli, Onom. Tull. ii. p. 144; Ritter, Geschichte der Phil. 11.5, 1; Brucker, Hist. Crit. Phil. II. 2.9, 2; Baguet, de Chrysippi vita, doctrina et reliquiis Comment. Lovan. 1822; Petersen, Philosophiae Chrysippeae Fundamenta, Alton. 1827.

The general account of the doctrine of the Stoics is given under ZENO.


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