The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Diagoras

DIAGORAS.

who should bring his dead body to Athens, and two talents to him who should deliver him up alive to the Athenians. (Schol. ad Aristopli. Av. 1013, 1073 ; Diod. xiii. 6.) Melanthius, in his work on the mysteries, had preserved a copy of this pse-phisma. That the enemies of the philosopher acted on that occasion with great injustice and animosity towards him, we may infer from the manner in which Aristophanes, in his Birds, which was brought upon the stage in that year, speaks of the matter ; for he describes that de­cree as having been framed in the republic of the birds, and ridicules it by the ludicrous addition that a prize was offered to any one who should kill a dead tyrant. Meier, with full justice, infers from this passage of Aristophanes, that the poet did not approve of the proceedings of the people, who were instigated by their leaders, had become frightened about the preservation of the constitution, and were thus misled to various acts of violence. The mere fact that Aristophanes could venture upon such an insinuation shews that Diagoras was by no means in the same bad odour with all the Athenians.

From Athens Diagoras first went to Pallene* in Achaia, which town was on the side of Lacedae-mon from the beginning of the Peloponnesian war, and before any other of the Achaean towns. (Thu-cyd. ii. 9.) It was in vain that the Athenians demanded his surrender, and in consequence of this refusal, they included the inhabitants of Pal­lene in the same decree which had been passed against Diagoras. This is a symptom of that fearful passion and blindness with which the Athenian people, misguided as it was by demagogues, tore itself to pieces in those unfortunate trials about those who had upset the Hermae. (Wachsmuth, /. c. i. 2, p. 192; Droysen, in his Introduct. to the Birds of Aristoph. p. 240, &c.) For all that we know of Diagoras, his expressions and opinions, his accusation and its alleged cause, leads us to see in him one of the numberless persons who were suspected, and were fortunate enough to escape the consequences of the trial by flight. From Pallene he went to Corinth, where, as Suidas states, he died.

Among the works of Diagoras we have mention of a work entitled Qpvyioi Xoyoi^ in which he is said to have theoretically explained his atheism, and to have endeavoured to establish it by argu­ments. This title of the work, which occurs also as a title among the works of Democritus and other Greek philosophers (Diog. Laert. ix. 49, mentions the \6yos &pvyios of Democritus, and concerning other works of the same title, see Lo-beck, Aglaopli. p. 369, &c.), leads us to suppose that Diagoras treated in that work of the Phrygian divinities, who were received in Greece, and en­deavoured to explain the mythuses which referred to them ; it is probable also that he drew the dif­ferent mysteries within the circle of his investiga­tions, and it may be that his accusers at Athens referred to this work. The relation of Diagoras to the popular religion and theology of his age can-

* This statement is founded upon a conjecture of Meier, who proposes to read in the scholion on Aristoph. Av. I. c. Kal rovs MHX f/cSt&Wa? HeA-'

^ Suidas calls it rovs diroTrvpyi^ovTas \6yovs., an explanation of which has been attempted by Meier, p. 445.

90S

DIAGORAS.

not be explained without going back to the opi­nions of his teacher, Democritus, and the intellec­tual movement of the time. The atomistic philo­sophy had substituted for a world-governing deity the relation of cause and effect as the sources of all things. Democritus explained the wide-spread belief in gods as the result of fear of unusual and unaccountable phaenomena in nature; and, start­ing from this principle, Diagoras, at a time when the ancient popular belief had already been shaken, especially in the minds of the young, came forward with the decidedly sophistical doctrine, that there were no gods at all. His attacks seem to have been mainly directed against the dogmas of Greek theology and mythology, as well as against the established forms of worship, The expression of the Scholiast on Aristophanes (Ran. 323), that Diagoras, like Socrates, introduced new divinities, must probably be referred to the fact, that accord­ing to the fashion of the sophists, which is carica­tured by Aristophanes in the Clouds, he substi­tuted the active powers of nature for the activity of the gods ; and some isolated statements that have come down to us render it probable that he did this in a witty manner, somewhat bordering upon frivolity; but there is no passage to shew that his disbelief in the popular gods, and his ridi­cule of the established, rude, and materialistic be­lief of the people, produced anything like an im­moral conduct in the life and actions of the man. On the contrary, all accounts attest that he dis­charged the duties of life in an exemplary manner, that he was a moral and very estimable man, and that he was in earnest when in the eulogy on Arianthes of Argos he said : 3-eos, &eos Trp6 irav-tos spyov vwjjia, <pp$v vireprdrav ! We do not feel inclined, with Meier, to doubt the statement that he distinguished himself not only as a philo­sopher, but also as an orator, and that he possessed many friends and great influence; for though we find it in an author of only secondary weight (Dion Chrysost. Horn. IV in prim. Epist. ad Co­rinth. Op. v. p. 30, ed. Montf.), yet it perfectly agrees with the fate which Diagoras experienced for the very reason that he was not an unimpor­tant man at Athens. (Fabric. Bibl. Grace, ii, p. 654, &c.; Brucker, Hist. Grit. Pliilos. i. p. 1203; Thienemann, in Fiilleborn's Beitrage zur Gescli. der Pliilos. xi. p. 15, &c. ; D. L. Mounier? Dispu-tatio de Diagora Melio^ Roterod. 1838.) [A. S.]

DIAGORAS (Atayopas), a Greek physician, who is quoted by Pliny as one of the authors from whom the materials for his Natural History were derived. (Index to books xii. xiii. xx. xxi. xxxv., and //. JV. xx. 76,) He must have lived in or before the third century b. c., as he is mentioned by Erasistratus (apud Dioscor. De Mat. Med. iv. 65, p. 557), and may perhaps be the native of Cyprus quoted by Erotianus. (Gloss. Hippoer. p. 306.) One of his medical formulae is preserved by Aetius (tetrab. ii. serm. 3, c. 108, p. 353), and he may perhaps be the physician mentioned by an anonymous Arabic writer in Casiri. (Bibliofli, Ara- bico-Hisp. Esc. vol. i, p. 237.) Some persons have identified him with the celebrated philosopher, the slave of Democritus; but there is no evidence that they were the same person, nor is the philosopher (as far as the writer is aware) anywhere said to have been a physician. [W. A.G.]

DIAGORAS (Atayopos), the son of Damagetus, of the family of the Eratidae at lalysus in Rhodes*,

Pages
About | First

998

999

1000
letter/word  
volume
page #  
Search this site
Google


ancientlibrary.com
WWW
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of Isidore-of-Seville.com.