Chapter 8. LACYDES
(Head of the Academy c. 242-216 B.C.)
Lacydes, son of Alexander, was a native of Cyrene
He was the founder of the New Academy and the
successor of Arcesilaus: a man of very serious
character who found numerous admirers; industrious
from his youth up and, though poor, of pleasant
manners and pleasant conversation. A most amusing
story is told of his housekeeping. Whenever he
brought anything out of the store-room, he would
seal the door up again and throw his signet-ring
inside through the opening, to ensure that nothing
laid up there should be stolen or carried off. So
soon, then, as his rogues of servants got to know this,
they broke the seal and carried off what they pleased,
afterwards throwing the ring in the same way through
the opening into the store-room. Nor were they ever
detected in this.
Lacydes used to lecture in the Academy, in the
garden which had been laid out by King Attalus,
and from him it derived its name of Lacydeum. He
did what none of his predecessors had ever done;
in his lifetime he handed over the school to Telecles
and Evander, both of Phocaea. Evander was succeeded by Hegesinus of Pergamum, and he again by
Carneades. A good saying is attributed to Lacydes.
When Attalus sent for him, he is said to have
remarked that statues are best seen from a distance.
He stadied geometry late, and some one said to him,
"Is this a proper time?" To which he replied,
"Nay, is it not even yet the proper time?"
He assumed the headship of the school in the
fourth year of the 134th Olympiad,1
and at his death
he had been head for twenty-six years. His end
was a palsy brought on by drinking too freely. And
here is a quip of my own upon the fact2
Of thee too, O Lacydes, I have heard a tale, that Bacchus
seized thee and dragged thee on tip-toe3
to the underworld.
Nay, was it not clear that when the wine-god comes in force
into the frame, he loosens our limbs? Perhaps this is why
he gets his name of the Loosener.