|May 19, 2013
Epimenides, 7th cent. BC
Epimenides. A poet and prophet of Crete.
His father's name was Dosiades or Agesarces. We have an account of him in Diogenes
Laertius (i. c. 10), which, however, is a very uncritical mixture of heterogeneous
traditions, so that it is difficult, if not altogether imposible, to discover
its real historical substance. The mythical character of the traditions of Epimenides
is sufficiently indicated by the fact of his being called the son of a nynmph,
and of his being reckoned among the Curetes. It seems, however, pretty clear,
that he was a native of Phaestus
in Crete (Diog. Laert. i. 109;
Plut. Sol. 12; de, Defect. Orac. 1), and that he spent the greater part of his
life at Cnossus, whence he is sometimes called a Cnossian.
There is a story that when yet a boy, he was sent out by his father
to fetch a sheep, and that seeking shelter from the heat of the midday sun, he
went into a cave. He there fell into a sleep in which lie remained for fifty-seven
years. On waking he sought for the sheep, not knowing how long he had been sleeping,
and was astonished to find everything around him altered. When lie returned home,
he found to his great amazement, that his younger brother had in the meantime
grown an old man.
The time at which Epimenides lived, is determined by his invitation
to Athens when he had already arrived at an advanced age. He was looked upon by
the Greeks as a great sage and as the favourite of the gods. The Athenians who
were visited by a plague in consequence of the crime of Cylon, consulted the Delphic
oracle about the means of their delivery. The god commanded them to get their
city purified, and the Athenians
sent out Nicias with a ship to Crete
to invite Epimenides to come and undertake the purification. Epimenides accordingly
came to Athens, about B.
C. 596 or Olymp. 46, and performed the desired task by certain mysterious rites
and sacrifices, in consequence of which the plague ceased. The grateful Athenians
decreed to reward him with a talent and the vessel which was to carry him back
to his native island. But Epimenides refused the money, and only desired that
a friendship should be established between Athens and Cnossus. Whether
Epimenides died in Crete or
at Sparta, which in later
times boasted of possessing his tomb (Diog. Laert. i. 115), is uncertain, but
he is said to have attained the age of 154, 157, or even of 299 years. Such statements,
however, are as fabulous as the story about his fifty-seven years' sleep.
According to some accounts, Epimenides was reckoned among the seven
wise men of Greece (Diog. Laert. Prooem. § 13; Plut. Sol. 12); but all that tradition
has handed down about him suggests a very different character from that of those
seven, and he must rather be ranked in the class of priestly bards and sages who
are generally comprised under the name of the Orphici; for everything we hear
of him, is of a priestly or religious nature: he was a purifying priest of superhuman
knowledge and wisdom, a seer and a prophet, and acquainted with the healing powers
of plants. These notions about Epimenides were propagated throughout antiquity,
and it was probably owing to the great charm attached to his name, that a series
of works, both in prose and in verse, were attributed to him, though few, if any,
can be considered to have been genuine productions of Epimenides, the age at which
he he lived was certainly notan age of prose composition in Greece.
Diogenes Laertius (i. 112) notices as prose works, one on sacrifices,
and another on the Political Constitution of Crete.
There was also a Letter on the Constitution which Minos had given to Crete;
it was said to have been addressed by Epimenides to Solon; it was written in the
modern Attic dialect, and
was proved to be spurious by Demetrius of Magnesia.
Diogenes himself has preserved another letter, which is likewise addressed to
Solon; it is written in the Doric dialect, but is no more genuine than the former.
The reputation of Epimenides as a poet may have rested on a somewhat surer foundation;
it is at any rate more likely that he should have composed such poetry as Chresmo
and Katharmoi than any other (Suidas, s. v. Epimenides; Strab. x ; Paus. i. 14.4).
It is, however, very doubtful whether he wrote the Genesis kai Theogonia of the
Curetes and Corybantes in 5000 verses, the epic on Jason and the Argonauts in
6500, and the epic on Minos and Rhadamanthys in 4000 verses; all of which works
are mentioned by Diogenes. There cannot, however, be any doubt but that there
existed in antiquity certain old-fashioned poems written upon skins; and the expression,
Epimenideion derma was used by the ancients to designate anything old-fshioned,
obsolete, and curious.
An allusion to Epimenides seems to be made in St. Paul's Epistle to
Titus (i. 12). Comp. Fabric. Bibl. Grace. vol. i. pp. 30, &c., 844; Hockh, Kreta,
vol. iii. p. 246, &c.; Bode, Gesch. der Hellen. Dichtk. vol. i. p. 463, &c., and
more especially C. F. Heinrich, Epimenides aus Creta, Leipzig, 1801, 8vo.
|This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited April 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks|
Aenesidemus, 1st c. B.C.
Aenesidemus (Ainesidemos), a celebrated sceptic, born at Cnossus, in Crete, according
to Diogenes Laertius (ix. 116), but at Aegae, according to Photius (Cod. 212),
probably lived a little later than Cicero. He was a pupil of Heracleides and received
from him the chair of philosophy, which had been handed down for above three hundred
years from Pyrrhon, the founder of the sect. For a full account of the sceptical
system see Pyrrhon.
As Aenesidemus differed on many points from the ordinary sceptic, it will be convenient
before proceeding to his particular opinions, to give a short account of the system
The sceptic began and ended in universal doubt. He was equally removed
from the academic who denied, as from the dogmatic philosopher who affirmed; indeed,
he attempted to confound both in one, and refute them by the same arguments (Sext.
Emp. i. 1). Truth, he said, was not to be desired for its own sake, but for the
sake of a certain repose of mind (ataraxia) which followed on it, an end which
the septic best attained in another way, by suspending his judgment (epoche),
and allowing himself literally to rest in doubt (i. 4). With this view he must
travel over the whole range of moral, metaphysical, and physical science. His
method is the comparison of opposites, and his sole aim to prove that nothing
call be proved, or what he termed, the isostheneia, of things. In common life
he may act upon Phainomena with the rest of men : nature, law, and custom are
allowed to have their influence; only when impelled to any vehemlent effort we
are to remember that, here too, there is much to be said on both sides, and are
not to lose our peace of mind by grasping at a shadow.
The famous deka tropoi of the sceptics were a number of heads of argument
intended to overthrow truth in whatever form it might appear. The opposite appearances
of the moral and natural world (Sext. Emp. i. 14), the fallibility of intellect
and sense, and the illusions produced upon them by intervals of time and space
and by very change of position, were the first arguments by which they assailed
the reality of things. We cannot explain what man is, we cannot explain what the
senses are: still less do we know the way in which they are acted upon by the
mind (ii. 4-7): beginning with ouden horizo, we must end with ouden mallon We
are not certain whether material objects are anything but ideas in the mind: at
any rate the different qualities which we perceive in them may be wholly dependent
on the percipient being; or, supposing them to contain quality as well as substance,
it may be one quality varying with the perceptive power of the different senses
(ii. 14). Having thus confounded the world without and the world within, it was
a natural transition for the sceptic to confound physical and metaphysical argluments.
The reasonings of natural philosophy were overthrown by metaphysical subtleties,
and metaphysics made to look absurd by illustrations only applicable to material
things. The acknowledged imperfection of language was also pressed into the service;
words, they said, were ever varying in their signification, so that the ideas
of which they were the signs must be alike variable. The leading idea of the whole
system was, that all truth involved either a vicious circle or a petitio principii,
for, even in the simplest truths, something must be assumed to make the reasoning
applicable. The truth of the senses was known to us from the intellect, but the
intellect operated through the senses, so that our knowledge of the nature of
either depends upon the other. There was, however, a deeper side to this philosophy.
Everything we know, confessedly, runs up into something we do not know: of the
true nature of cause and effect we are ignorant, and hence to the favourite method,
apo tou eis apeiron ekballein, or arguing backward fiom cause to cause, the very
imperfection of human faculties prevents our giving an answer. We must know what
we believe; and how can we be sure of secondary causes, if the first cause be
wholly beyond us? To judge, however, from the sketch of Sextus Empiricus (Pyrrh.
Hyp.), it was not this side of their system which the sceptics chiefly urged:
for the most part, it must be confessed, that they contented themselves with dialectic
subtleties, which were at once too absurd for refutation, and impossible to refute.
The causes of scepticism are more fully given under the article Pyrrhon.
One of the most remarkable of its features was its connexion with the later philosophy
of the Ionian school. From the failure of their attempts to explain the phenomena
of the visible world, the Ionian philosophers were insensibly led on to deny the
order and harmony of creation: they saw nothing but a perpetual and ever-changing
chaos, acted upon, or rather self-acting, by an inherent power of motion, of which
the nature was only known by its effects. This was the doctrine of Heracleitus,
that "the world was a fire ever kindling and going out, which made all things
and was all things." It was this link of connexion between the sceptical and Ionian
schools which Aenesidemus attempted to restore. The doctrine of Heracleitus, although
it spoke of a subtle fire, really meant nothing more than a principle of change;
and although it might seem absurd to a strict sceptic like Sextus Empiricus to
affirm even a principle of change, it involved no real inconsistency with the
sceptical system. We are left to conjecture as to the way in which Aenesidemus
arrived at his conclusions : the following account of them seems probable. It
will be seen, from what has been said, that the sceptical system had destroyed
everything but sensation. But sensation is the effect of change, the principle
of motion working internally. It was very natural then that the sceptic, proceeding
from the only arche, which remained to him, should suggest an explanation of the
outward world, derived from that of which alone he was certain, his own internal
sensations. The mere suggestion of a probable cause might seem inconsistent with
the distinction which the sceptics drew between their own absolute uncertainty
and the probability spoken of by the Academics indeed, it was inconsistent with
their metaphysical paradoxes to draw conclusions at all : if so, we must be content
to allow that Aenesidemus (as Sextus Empiricus implies) got a little beyond the
dark region of scepticism into the light of probability.
Other scattered opinions of Aenesidemus have been preserved to us,
some of which seem to lead to the same conclusion. Time, he said, was to on and
to proton soma (Pyr. Hyp. iii. 17), probably in allusion to the doctrine of the
Stoics, that all really existing substances were somata: in other words, he meant
to say that time was a really existing thing, and not merely a condition of thought.
This was connected with the principle of change, which was inseparable from a
notion of time : if the one had a real existence (and upon its existence the whole
system depended), the other must likewise have a real existence. In another place,
adapting his language to that of Heracleitus, he said that "time was air" (Sext.
Emp. adv. Logicos, iv. 233), probably meaning to illustrate it by the imperceptible
nature of air, in the same way that the motion of the world was said to work by
a subtle and invisible tire. All things, according to his doctrine, were but Phainomena
which were brought out and adapted to our perceptions by their mutual opposition:
metaphorically they might be said to shine forth in the light of Heracieitus's
fire. He did not, indeed, explain how this union of opposites made them sensible
to the faculties of man : probably he would rather have supported his view by
the impossibility of the mind conceiving of anything otherwise than in a state
of motion, or, as he would have expressed it, in a state of mutual opposition.
But Phainomena are of two kinds, ioia and koina (Sext. Emp. adv. Log. ii. 8),
the perceptions of individuals, and those common to mankind. Here again Aenesidemus
seems to lose sight of the sceptical system. which (in speculation at least) admitted
no degrees of truth, doubt, or probability. The same remark applies to his distinction
of kinesis into metabatike and metabletike, simple motion and change. He seems
also to have opposed the perplexity which the sceptics endeavoured to bring about
between matter and mind; for he asserted that thought was independent of the body,
and "that the sentient power looked out through the crannies of the senses" (Adv.
Log. i. 349). Lastly, his vigorous mind was above the paltry confusion of physical
and metaphysical distinctions; for he declared, after Heracleitus, "that a part
was the same with the whole and yet different from it". The grand peculiarity
of his system was the attempt to unite scepticism with the earlier philosophy,
to raise a positive foundation for it by accounting from the nature of things
for the never-ceasing changes both in the material and spiritual world.
Sextus Empiricus has preserved his argument against our knowledge
of causes, as well as a table of eight methods by which all a priori reasoning
may be confuted, as all arguments whatever may be by the deka tropoi. I. Either
the cause given is unseen, and not proven by things seen, as if a person were
to explain the motions of the planets by the music of the spheres. II. Or if the
cause be seen, it cannot be shewn to exclude other hypotheses: we must not only
prove the cause, but dispose of every other cause. III. A regular effect may be
attributed to an irregular cause ; as if one were to explain the motions of the
heavenly bodies by a sudden impulse. IV. Men argue from things seen to things
unseen, assuming that they are governed by the same laws. V. Causes only mean
opinions of causes, which are inconsistent with phenomena and with other opinions.
VI. Equally probable causes are accepted or rejected as they agree with this or
that preconceived notion. VII. These causes are at variance with phenomena as
well as with abstract principles. VIII. Principles must be uncertain, because
the facts from which they proceed are uncertain.
It is to be regretted that nothing is known of the personal history
of Aenesidemus. A list of his works and a sketch of their contents have been preserved
by Photius (Cod. 212). He was the author of three books of Purrhoneiai Hupotuposeis,
and is mentioned as a recent teacher of philosophy by Aristocles (Apud Euscb.
Praeparat. Exang. xiv. 18). It is to Aenesidemus that Sextus Empiricus was indebted
for a considerable part of his work.
|This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Sep 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks|
Chersiphron of Cnosus, 6th cent. BC
Chersiphron, or, as the name is written in Vitruvius and one passage of Pliny,
Ctesiphon, an architect of Cnossus in Crete, in conjunction with his son Metagenes,
built or commenced building the great temple of Artemis at Ephesus. The worship
of Artemis was most probably established at Ephesus before the time of the Ionian
colonization; and it would seem, that there was already at that distant period
some temple to the goddess. (Paus. vii. 2. Â§ 4.) We are not told what had become
of this temple, when, about the beginning of the 6th century B. C., the Ionian
Greeks undertook the erection of a new temple, which was intended for the centre
of their national worship, like the temple of Hera at Samos, which was built about
the same time by the Dorian colonies. The preparation of the foundations was commenced
about B. C. 600. To guard against earthquakes, a marsh was chosen for the site
of the temple, and the ground was made firm by layers of charcoal rammed down,
over which were laid fleeces of wool. This contrivance was suggested by Theodorus
of Samos. The work proceeded very slowly. The erection of the columns did not
take place till about 40 years later (B. C. 560). This date is fixed by the statement
of Herodotus (i. 92), that most of the pillars were presented by Croesus. This
therefore is the date of Chersiphron, since it is to him and to his son Metagenes
that the ancient writers attribute the erection of the pillars and the architrave.
Of course the plan could not be extended after the erection of the pillars; and
therefore, when Strabo (xiv.) says, that the temple was enlarged by another architect,
he probably refers to the building of the courts round it. It was finally completed
by Demetrius and Paeonius of Ephesus, about 220 years after the foundations were
laid ; but it was shortly afterwards burnt down by Herostratus on the same night
in which Alexander the Great was born, B. C. 356. It was rebuilt with greater
magnificence by the contributions of all the states of Asia Minor. It is said,
that Alexander the Great offered to pay the cost of the restoration on the condition
that his name should be inscribed on the temple, but that the Ephesians evaded
the offer by replying, that it was not right for a god to make offerings to gods.
The architect of the new temple was Deinocrates. The edifice has now entirely
disappeared, except some remnants of its foundations. Though Pliny (like others
of the ancient writers) has evidently confounded the two buildings, yet his description
is valuable, since the restored temple was probably built on the same foundations
and after the same general plan as the old one. We have also descriptions of it
by Vitruvius, who took his statements from a work on the temple, which was said
to have been written by the architects themselves, Chersiphron and Metagenes (vii.
Praef.12). There are also medals on which the elevation of the chief portico is
represented. The temple was Octastyle, Dipteral, Diastyle, and Hypaethral. It
was raised on a basement of 10 steps. Its dimensions were 425 X 220 feet. The
columns were 127 in number, 60 feet high, and made of white marble, a quarry of
which was discovered at a distance of only eight miles from the temple, by a shepherd
named Pixodarus. Thirty-six of the columns were sculptured (perhaps Caryatides
within the cella), one of them by the great sculptor Scopas (Plin. xxxvi. 14.
s. 21: but many critics think the reading doubtful). They were of the Ionic order
of architecture, which was now first invented (Plin. xxxvi. 23. s. 56, and especially
Vitruv. iv. 1.7, 8). Of the blocks of marble which composed the architrave some
were as much as 30 feet long. In order to convey these and the columns to their
places, Chersiphron and Metagenes invented some ingenious mechanical contrivances
(Vitruv. x. 6, 7, or x. 2.11, 12, ed. Schneider; Plin. xxxvi. 14. s. 21). The
temple was reckoned one of the seven wonders of the world, and is celebrated in
several epigrams in the Greek Anthology, especially in two by Antipater of Sidon.
From this account it is manifest that Chersiphron and Metagenes
were among the most distinguished of ancient architects, both as artists and mechanicians.
(Plin. H. N. vii. 25. s. 38, xvi. 37. s. 79, xxxvi. 14. s. 21; Vitruv. iii. 2.7,
vii. Praef.16; Strab. xiv.; Liv. i. 45; Diog. Laert. ii. 9; Philo Byzant. de VII
|This text is from: A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890) (eds. William Smith, LLD, William Wayte, G. E. Marindin). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks|
Metagenes of Cnosus, 6th cent. BC
Son of Chersiphron of Cnosus
Iophon the Cnossian, a guide, produced responses in hexameter verse, saying that Amphiaraus gave them to the Argives who were sent against Thebes. These verses unrestrainedly appealed to popular taste. Except those whom they say Apollo inspired of old none of the seers uttered oracles, but they were good at explaining dreams and interpreting the flights of birds and the entrails of victims.
Sculptor, father of sculptor Amphion.
Acestor (Akestor), a sculptor mentioned by Pausanias (vi. 17.2) as having executed a statue of Alexibius, a native of Heraea in Arcadia, who had gained a victory in the pentathlon at the Olympic games. He was born at Cnossus, or at any rate exercised his profession there for some tine. (Paus. x. 15.4.) He had a son named Amphion, who was also a sculptor, and had studied under Ptolichus of Corcyra (Paus. vi. 3.2); so that Acestor must have been a contemporary of the latter, who flourished about Ol. 82. (B. C. 452.)
Amphion. A sculptor, son of Acestor, pupil of Ptolichus of Corcyra, and teacher of Piso of Calaureia, was a native of Cnossus, and flourished about B. C. 428 or 424. He executed a group in which Battus, the colonizer of Cyrene, was represented in a chariot, with Libya crowning him, and Cyrene as the charioteer. This group was dedicated at Delphi by the people of Cyrene. (Paus. vi. 3. 2, x. 15.4)