Chapter 6. HERACLIDES (floruit 360 B.C.)
Heraclides, son of Euthyphro, born at Heraclea in
the Pontus, was a wealthy man. At Athens he first
attached himself to Speusippus. He also attended
the lectures of the Pythagoreans and admired the
writings of Plato. Last of all he became a pupil of
Aristotle, as Sotion says in his
Successions of Philosophers.1
He wore fine soft clothes, and he was
extremely corpulent, which made the Athenians
call him Pompicus rather than Ponticus. He was
mild and dignified of aspect. Works by him survive
of great beauty and excellence. There are ethical
Of Justice, three books.
Of Temperance, one book.
Of Piety, five books.
Of Courage, one book.
Of Virtue in general, one book.
A second with the same title.
Of Happiness, one book.
Of Government, one book.
On Laws, one book, and on subjects kindred to these.
Of Names, one book.
Agreements, one book.
On the Involuntary, one book.
Concerning Love, and Clinias, one book.
Others are physical treatises:
Of the Soul, and a separate treatise with the same
Of Celestial Phenomena, one book
Of Things in the Under-world.
On Various Ways of Life, two books.
The Causes of Diseases, one book.
Of the Good, one book.
Against Zeno's Doctrines, one book.
A Reply to Metron's Doctrines, one book.
To grammar and criticism belong:
Of the Age of Homer and Hesiod, two books
Of Archilochus and Homer, two books.
Of a literary nature are:
A work on passages in Euripides and Sophocles,
On Music, two books.
Solutions of Homeric Problems, two books.
Of Theorems, one book.
On the Three Tragic Poets, one book.
Characters, one book.
Of Poetry and Poets, one book.
Of Conjecture, one book.
Concerning Prevision, one book.
Expositions of Heraclitus, four books.
Expositions in Reply to Democritus, one book.
Solutions of Eristic Problems, two books.
Logical Proposition, one book.
Of Species, one book.
Solutions, one book.
Admonitions, one book.
A Reply to Dionysius, one book.
To rhetoric belongs:
Of Public Speaking, or Protagoras.
On the Pythagoreans.
Some of these works are in the style of comedy,
for instance the tracts On Pleasure and On Temperance; others in the style of tragedy, as the books entitled Of those in Hades, Of Piety, and Of Authority.
Again, he has a sort of intermediate style of conversation which he employs when philosophers,
generals and statesmen converse with each other.
Furthermore, he wrote geometrical and dialectical
works, and is, besides, everywhere versatile and lofty
in diction, and a great adept at charming the reader's
It seems that he delivered his native city from
oppressions by assassinating its ruler, as is stated
in his work on
Men of the Same Name
of Magnesia, who also tells the following story about
him: "As a boy, and when he grew up, he kept a
pet snake, and, being at the point of death, he ordered
a trusted attendant to conceal the corpse but to
place the snake on his bier, that he might seem to
have departed to the gods.
All this was done. But
while the citizens were in the very midst of the
procession and were loud in his praise, the snake,
hearing the uproar, popped up out of the shroud,
creating widespread confusion. Subsequently, however, all was revealed, and they saw Heraclides, not
as he appeared, but as he really was."
I have written of him as follows2
You wished, Heraclides, to leave to all mankind a reputation that after death you lived as a snake.3
But you were
deceived, you sophist, for the snake was really a brute beast,
and you were detected as more of a beast than a sage.
Hippobotus too has this tale.
Hermippus relates that, when their territory was
visited by famine, the people of Heraclea besought
the Pythian priestess for relief, but Heraclides bribed
the sacred envoys as well as the aforesaid priestess
to reply that they would be rid of the calamity if
Heraclides, the son of Euthyphro, were crowned with
a crown of gold in his lifetime and after his death
received heroic honours. The pretended oracle was
brought home, but its forgers got nothing by it.
For directly Heraclides was crowned in the theatre,
he was seized with apoplexy, whereupon the envoys
to the oracle were stoned to death. Moreover, at
the very same time the Pythian priestess, after she
had gone down to the shrine and taken her seat,
was bitten by one of the snakes and died instantly.
Such are the tales told about his death.
Aristoxenus the musician asserts that Heraclides
also composed tragedies, inscribing upon them the
name of Thespis. Chamaeleon complains that
Heraclides' treatise on the works of Homer and
Hesiod was plagiarized from his own. Furthermore,
Autodorus the Epicurean criticizes him in a polemic
against his tract Of Justice. Again, Dionysius the
Renegade, or, as some people call him, the "Spark,"
when he wrote the Parthenopaeus, entitled it a play
of Sophocles; and Heraclides, such was his credulity,
in one of his own works drew upon this forged play
as Sophoclean evidence.
Dionysius, on perceiving
this, confessed what he had done; and, when the
other denied the fact and would not believe him,
called his attention to the acrostic which gave the
name of Pancalus, of whom Dionysius was very fond.
Heraclides was still unconvinced. Such a thing, he
said, might very well happen by chance. To this
Dionysius, "You will also find these lines:
a. An old monkey is not caught by a trap.4
b. Oh yes, he's caught at last, but it takes time."
And this besides: "Heraclides is ignorant of letters
and not ashamed of his ignorance."5
Fourteen persons have borne the name of Heraclides: (1) the subject of this notice; (2) a fellowcitizen of his, author of Pyrrhic verses and tales;
(3) a native of Cyme, who wrote of Persia in five
books; (4) another native of Cyme, who wrote
rhetorical textbooks; (5) of Callatis or Alexandria,
author of the
Succession of Philosophers
and a work entitled
, from which he got
the surname of Lembus (a fast boat or scout); (6)
an Alexandrian who wrote on the Persian national
character; (7) a dialectician of Bargylis, who wrote
against Epicurus; (8) a physician of the school of
Hicesius; (9) another physician of Tarentum, an
empiric; (10) a poet who was the author of admonitions; (11) a sculptor of Phocaea; (12) a
Ligurian poet, author of epigrams; (13) Heraclides
of Magnesia, who wrote a history of Mithradates;
(14) the compiler of an Astronomy.