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Plutarch Against ColotesA Lesson in History of Philosophy$

Eleni Kechagia

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199597239

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199597239.001.0001

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(p.295) APPENDIX I Colotes of Lampsacus: On the fact that according to the doctrines of the other philosophers it is impossible even to live

(p.295) APPENDIX I Colotes of Lampsacus: On the fact that according to the doctrines of the other philosophers it is impossible even to live

Plutarch Against Colotes
Oxford University Press

I here collect all the passages from the Adversus Colotem which convey information about Colotes’ polemic whether in the form of a ‘report’ (that is, passages in which Plutarch, speaking in the third person, reports on factual details about Colotes’ book), a ‘quotation’ (namely, passages in which Plutarch apparently quotes verbatim from Colotes’ book), or an ‘echo’ (that is, passages which seem to paraphrase Colotes’ actual sayings, often with the purpose of negating them).1 I wish to thank the publisher Walter de Gruyter for kindly granting me permission to reprint here extracts from the text of the Adversus Colotem edited by Pohlenz–Westman (Leipzig 1959).

Reports [R]

  • R1: Κωλώτης, ὃν ᾿Επίκουρος εἰώθει Κωλωταρα̑ν ὑποκορίζεσθαι καὶ Κωλωτάριον, ὠ̑ Σατορνι̑νε, βιβλίον ἐξέδωκεν ἐπιγράψας ‘Περὶ του̑ ὅτι κατὰ τὰ τω̑ν ἄλλων φιλοσόφων δόγματα οὐδὲ ζη̑ν ἔστιν’. ἐκει̑νο μὲν οὐ̑ν Πτολεμαίῳ τῳ̑ βασιλει̑ προσπεφώνηται· (1107 D–E)

    Colotes, my dear Saturninus, whom Epicurus used to address with the diminutives ‘Colotaran’ and ‘Colotarion’ published a book entitled ‘On the fact that according to the doctrines of the other philosophers it is impossible even to live’. That book he addressed to king Ptolemy.

  • R2: ‘ὑπέρ γε μέντοι παντὸς ῾Ελλήνων στρατου̑’ τω̑ν ἄλλων φιλοσόφων, ἐν οἱ̑ς Δημόκριτός ἐστι καὶ Πλάτων καὶ Στίλπων καὶ ’Εμπεδοκλη̑ς καὶ Παρμενίδης καὶ Μέλισσος, οὕτω κακω̑ς ἀκηκοότων, οὐ μόνον ‘αἰσχρὸν σιωπα̑ν’, ἀλλ' οὐδ' ὅσιον ἐνδου̑ναί τι καὶ ὑφελέσθαι τη̑ς ἄκρας ὑπὲρ αὐτω̑ν παρρησίας εἰς του̑το δόξης φιλοσοφίαν προαγαγόντων. (1108 B).

    ‘However, in defence of the entire Greek army’ of the other philosophers, among whom are Democritus, Plato, Stilpo, Empedocles, (p.296) Parmenides, Melissus, so badly abused, it is not only ‘shameful to be silent’, but it would also be impious to yield in the slightest and rob these men, who brought philosophy to such heights of glory, of the most outspoken language.

  • R3: ῎Αρχεται γὰρ ἀπὸ Δημοκρίτου, καλὰ καὶ πρέποντα διδασκάλια κομιζομένου παρ’ αὐτου̑. (1108 E)

    He begins with Democritus, who receives a good and appropriate teaching fee from him.

  • R4: ῾Ο δὲ Κωλώτης, ὥσπερ ἀγραμμάτῳ βασιλει̑ προσδιαλεγόμενος, πάλιν ἐξάπτεται του̑ ᾿Εμπεδοκλέους ταὐτὸ πνέοντος (1111 F)

    Yet Colotes, as though conversing with an uneducated king, fires in turn against Empedocles as one who was of the same spirit.

  • R5: ᾿Επεὶ δ' ὁ μὲν Κωλώτης ἐφεξη̑ς τῳ̑ Δημοκρίτῳ τὸν Παρμενίδην ἐβούλετο συγκατορύσσειν, ἐγὼ δ' ὑπερβὰς τὰ ἐκείνου τὰ του̑ ᾿Εμπεδοκλέους προέλαβον διὰ τὸ μα̑λλον ἀκολουθει̑ν τοι̑ς πρώτοις ἐγκλήμασιν αὐτου̑, ἀναλάβωμεν τὸν Παρμενίδην. (1113 E)

    Since Colotes wished to demolish Parmenides next after Democritus, whereas I passed over the discussion of Parmenides and dealt first with that of Empedocles, because it is more consonant with his [sc. Colotes’] first charges, let us now take up Parmenides.

  • R6: ἣν [sc. τὴν πρὸς τὸ νοητὸν διαφορὰν τω̑ν πολλω̑ν καὶ αἰσθητω̑ν] ἔτι μα̑λλον ἐνδεικνύμενος Πλάτων τη̑ περὶ τὰ εἴδη πραγματείᾳ καὶ αὐτὸς ἀντίληψιν τῳ̑ Κωλώτῃ παρέσχε. διὸ καὶ τὰ πρὸς του̑τον [sc. Πλάτωνα] εἰρημένα δοκει̑ μοι λαβει̑ν ἐφεξη̑ς. (1114 F)

    Since Plato displayed this distinction [sc. between the many and sensible and the intelligible] even more clearly in his treatise about the Forms, he has given Colotes an opening for attack. I, therefore, intend to take up next the attack against him [sc. Plato].

  • R7: καὶ πρω̑τόν γε τὴν ἐπιμέλειαν καὶ πολυμάθειαν του̑ φιλοσόφου σκεψώμεθα, λέγοντος ὅτι τούτοις τοι̑ς δόγμασι του̑ Πλάτωνος ἐπηκολουθήκασιν ᾿Αριστοτέλης καὶ Ξενοκράτης καὶ Θεόφραστος καὶ πάντες οἱ Περιπατητικοί. (1114 F–1115 A)

    But first let us consider the diligence and erudition of the philosopher who claims that Aristotle, Xenocrates, Theophrastus, and all the Peripatetics had followed these doctrines of Plato.

  • R8: Ἀλλ' ἐπεὶ τὸν Σωκράτην μετὰ τὸν Παρμενίδην ὑπερέβημεν, ἀναληπτέος [lacuna] (1116 E)

    (p.297) However, given that after Parmenides we have skipped Socrates, we should take up [sc. Socrates?] [lacuna].

  • R9: Μετὰ δὲ Σωκράτην καὶ Πλάτωνα προσμάχεται Στίλπωνι. (1119 C)

    After Socrates and Plato he assaults Stilpo.

  • R10: Γενόμενος δ’ οὐ̑ν ὁ Κωλώτης ἀπὸ τω̑ν παλαιω̑ν τρέπεται πρὸς τοὺς καθ’ ἑαυτὸν φιλοσόφους, οὐδενὸς τιθεὶς ὄνομα· (1120 B–C)

    Having gone through the ancients, Colotes turns to the philosophers of his own day, without, however, naming anyone.

  • R11: βούλεται δὲ προτέρους μέν, ὡς ὑπονοω̑, τοὺς Κυρηναϊκοὺς ἐλέγχειν, δευτέρους δὲ τοὺς περὶ ᾿Αρκεσίλαον ᾿Ακαδημαϊκούς. (1120 C)

    He wishes to criticize first, as I gather, the Cyrenaics and second the Academic followers of Arcesilaus.

  • R12: βιβλίον δὲ τοιαύτην ἐπιγραφὴν ἔχον ὁμου̑ πρὸς ἅπαντας οὐδεὶς ἄλλος ἐξενεγκει̑ν ἐτόλμησεν. (1124 C)

    Nobody else dared to publish a book with such a title, attacking all the others [sc. philosophers] at once.

  • R13: ῞Οθεν ὥσπερ οἱ περὶ τὸ θει̑ον πλημμελήσαντες ἐξαγορεύων τὰ ἑαυτου̑ κακὰ τελευτω̑ντος ἤδη του̑ βιβλίου φησὶν ὅτι…(1124 D)

    Hence, as the offenders against the gods do, he publicly proclaims his own misdeeds and at the end of the book claims that…

Quotations [Q] and Echoes [E]

In the collection below I present the passages I take as Quotations [Q] and Echoes [E] within their immediate context. The text of what I take as a quotation or an echo is underlined; the verb introducing the quotation is marked in bold. The passages are ordered here according to the sequence of sections in Colotes’ book as it emerged in Chapter 3, section 3.2.3.


  • 1[E]: ἀλλ' εἰ κατὰ τὰ Δημοκρίτου δόγματα ζη̑ν οὐκ ἔστιν, ὡς οἴεται Κωλώτης…(1108 F)

    But if it is impossible to live according to the doctrines of Democritus, as Colotes reckons…

  • 2[E]: ἐγκαλει̑ δ' αὐτῳ̑ [sc. Δημοκρίτῳ] πρω̑τον, ὅτι τω̑ν πραγμάτων ἓκαστον εἰπὼν οὐ μα̑λλον τοι̑ον ἢ τοι̑ον εἰ̑ναι συγκέχυκε τὸν βίον. (1108 F–1109 A)

    He accuses Democritus first that, by saying that each of the things is no more of this than of that kind, he has thrown life into confusion.

  • (p.298) 3[Q]: τὸν οὐ̑ν βόρβορον καὶ τὸν 〈πηλόν〉, ἐν ᾧ φησι γίνεσθαι τοὺς τό ‘μηδὲν μα̑λλον’ ἐπιφθεγγομένους τοι̑ς πράγμασιν, ἑαυτου̑ κατασκεδάννυσι καὶ του̑ καθηγεμόνος ὁ Κωλώτης. (1110 D–E)

    Colotes pours upon himself and his master the mire and 〈mud〉 in which, he says, those who predicate the ‘no more’ of things find themselves.

  • 4[Q]: τὸ γὰρ νόμῳ χροιὴν εἰ̑ναι καὶ νόμῳ γλυκὺ καὶ νόμῳ σύγκρισιν 〈ἅπασαν, ἐτεη̑ δὲ τὸ κενὸν καὶ〉 τὰς ἀτόμους εἰρημένον φησὶν ὑπὸ Δημοκρίτου 〈μάχεσθαι〉 ται̑ς αἰσθήσεσι, καὶ τὸν ἐμμένοντα τῳ̑ λόγῳ τούτῳ καὶ χρώμενον οὐδ' ἂν αὑτὸν ὡς 〈ἄνθρωπός〉 ἐστιν ἢ ζη̑ διανοηθη̑ναι (1110 E–F)

    The thesis, proposed by Democritus, namely that ‘colour is by convention, sweet by convention, all compounds by convention, 〈but in reality the void and〉 the atoms [are]’, he says, 〈goes against〉 the senses and he who abides by, and employs, this argument could not even think for himself that he is a 〈human being〉 or living.


  • 5[Q]: ἃ μὲν οὐ̑ν αὐτόν [sc. Παρμενίδην] φησιν αἰσχρὰ σοφίσματα λέγειν ὁ Κωλώτης…(1113 F)

    With regard to the shameful sophistries which Colotes says that he [sc. Parmenides] put forward

  • 6[E]: τὸ δὲ πα̑ν ἓν εἰπὼν οὐκ οἰ̑δ’ ὅπως ζη̑ν ἡμα̑ς κεκώλυκε [sc. Παρμενίδης]. (1113 F–1114 A)

    I do not know how, by saying that all there is is one, he [sc. Parmenides] has prevented us from living.

  • 7[E]: ἀλλ’ ὅ γε Παρμενίδης οὔτε πυ̑ρ ἀνῄρηκεν οὔθ’ ὕδωρ οὔτε κρημνὸν οὔτε πόλεις, ὥς φησι Κωλώτης, ἐν Εὐρώπῃ καὶ ᾿Ασίᾳ κατοικουμένας· (1114 B)

    But Parmenides had abolished neither fire nor water nor precipices nor inhabited cities in Europe and Asia, as Colotes claims.

  • 8[Q]: ταυ̑τα συκοφαντω̑ν ἐκ τη̑ς φωνη̑ς ὁ Κωλώτης καὶ τῳ̑ ῥήματι διώκων οὐ τῳ̑ πράγματι τὸν λόγον ἁπλω̑ς φησι πάντ' ἀναιρει̑ν τῳ̑ ἓν ὂν ὑποτίθεσθαι τὸν Παρμενίδην. (1114 D)

    Bringing false charges against the language and attacking in words, but not in substance [sc. Parmenides’] argument, Colotes says that Parmenides plainly abolishes everything by postulating one being.

(p.299) Empedocles

  • 9[E]: ταυ̑τ’ [sc. Empedocles’ fr. 8] ἐγὼ μὲν οὐχ ὁρω̑ καθ’ ὅ τι πρὸς τὸ ζη̑ν ὑπεναντιου̑ται…(1111 F–1112 A)

    I, for my part, do not see in what way these [sc. Empedocles’ fr. 8] go against living.

  • 10[Q]: πόθεν ἐπη̑λθεν αὐτῳ̑ τοιαυ̑τα προβάλλειν ἐρωτήματα τῳ̑ ᾿Εμπεδοκλει̑; ‘τί κόπτομενφησίνἡμα̑ς αὐτούς, σπουδάζοντες ὑπὲρ ἡμω̑ν αὐτω̑ν καὶ ὀρεγόμενοί τινων πραγμάτων καὶ φυλαττόμενοί τινα πράγματα; οὔτε γὰρ ἡμει̑ς ἐσμεν οὔτ' ἄλλ' οἱ̑ς χρώμενοι ζω̑μεν.’ (1112 D)

    Wherefrom did it come upon him to address such questions to Empedocles? ‘Why do we bother’, he says, ‘caring for ourselves and desiring certain things while avoiding other things? For neither do we exist nor other things which we make use of so as to stay alive.

  • 11[E]: 〈ἃ〉 ὁ Κωλώτης παραθέμενος [sc. Empedocles’ fr. 9] οὐ συνει̑δεν ὅτι φω̑τας μὲν καὶ θη̑ρας καὶ θάμνους καὶ οἰωνοὺς ὁ ᾿Εμπεδοκλη̑ς οὐκ ἀνῄρηκεν…(1113 B)

    Colotes quoted 〈these〉 [sc. Empedocles’ fr. 9] but did not realize that Empedocles had not abolished men, beasts, shrubs and birds.

  • 12[Q]: ἀλλ’ ὅμως ὁ Κωλώτης του̑το μὲν οὐκ ἐγκέκληκε, λέγει δὲ κατ’ αὐτὸν [sc. Ἐμπεδοκλέα] οὐδὲ νοσήσειν ἡμα̑ς οὐδὲ τραυματισθήσεσθαι. (1113 D)

    However, Colotes had not brought charges against this, but says that according to him [sc. Empedocles] we will neither fall ill nor get wounded.


  • 13[Q]: εὐθὺς οὐ̑ν τὸν ἀφ’ ἱερα̑ς κεκίνηκεν ὁ Κωλώτης, καὶ διηγησάμενος ὅτι χρησμὸν ἐκ Δελφω̑ν περὶ Σωκράτους ἀνήνεγκε Χαιρεφω̑ν, ὃν ἴσμεν ἅπαντες, ταυ̑τ’ ἐπείρηκε· ‘τὸ μὲν οὐ̑ν του̑ Χαιρεφω̑ντος διὰ τὸ τελέως σοφιστικὸν καὶ φορτικὸν διήγημα εἰ̑ναι παρήσομεν.’ (1116 E–F)

    Colotes started straight away by attacking a sacred saying and after narrating that Chaerephon brought back from Delphi an oracular response concerning Socrates, which we all know, he proclaimed: ‘but we shall set aside Chaerephon's oracle since it is an entirely sophistical and vulgar tale’.

  • 14[Q]: Καὶ δη̑τα καὶ προθεὶς ὁ Κωλώτης τὰ σοφὰ ταυ̑τα καὶ καλὰ περὶ τω̑ν αἰσθήσεων, ὅτι ‘σιτία προσαγόμεθα καὶ οὐ χόρτον, καὶ τοὺς ποταμούς, ὅταν ὠ̑σι μεγάλοι, πλοίοις διαπερω̑μεν, ὅταν δ' εὐδιάβατοι γένωνται, τοι̑ς ποσίνἐπιπεφώνηκεν· ‘ἀλλὰ γὰρ ἀλαζόνας ἐπετήδευσας λόγους, ὠ̑ (p.300) Σώκρατες· καὶ ἕτερα μὲν διελέγου τοι̑ς ἐντυγχάνουσιν ἕτερα δ' ἔπραττες.’ (1117 D)

    And, again, setting out first these wise and fine truths about the senses namely that ‘we eat food and not grass and we cross the rivers by boat, when they are high, but on foot, when they are easy to cross’ he exclaimedbut you, Socrates, practised pretentious arguments; for you said one thing to those with whom you happened to converse, but you did another’.

  • 15[E]: ἐρωτάτω πρω̑τον 〈ἑαυτὸν〉 [sc. ὁ Κωλώτης] ἐκει̑να τὰ ἐρωτήματα, πω̑ς σιτία προσάγεται καὶ οὐ χόρτον †ἐπιτήδειος ὢν καὶ τὸ ἱμάτιον τῳ̑ σώματι καὶ οὐ τῳ̑ κίονι περιτίθησι…(1117 F)

    Colotes should first ask 〈himself〉 these questions, namely how come and he is able to eat food and not grass and puts the cloak around his body and not around the pillar

  • 16[Q]: ἐν οἱ̑ς δὲ κομιδη̑ διαγελᾷ καὶ φλαυρίζει [sc. ὁ Κωλώτης] τὸν Σωκράτην ζητου̑ντα τί ἄνθρωπός ἐστι καὶ νεανιευόμενον, ὥς φησιν, ὅτι μηδ' αὐτὸς 〈αὑτὸν〉 εἰδείη, δη̑λος μέν ἐστιν αὐτὸς οὐδέποτε πρὸς τούτῳ γενόμενος…(1118 C)

    It is obvious that he himself [sc. Colotes] had never encountered these things with respect to which he simply ridicules and disparages Socrates saying that he [sc. Socrates] inquires into what is a man and jokes that he does not even know 〈himself〉.

  • 17[E]: ᾿Αλλὰ διδόντες αὐτῳ̑ [sc. Κωλώτῃ] τὸ μηδὲν οὕτως ἄχρηστον εἰ̑ναι μηδὲ φορτικὸν ὡς τὸ ζητει̑ν αὑτόν, ἐρώμεθα τίς αὕτη του̑ βίου σύγχυσίς ἐστιν ἢ πω̑ς ἐν τῳ̑ ζη̑ν οὐ δύναται διαμένειν ἀνήρ… (1118 F–1119 A)

    But let us grant him [sc. Colotes] that there is nothing as useless and vulgar as the search for oneself and let us ask what is this confusion of life or how come and it is not possible for a man to remain alive

  • 18[E]: ἀλλὰ τούτοις μὲν οὐκ ἀναιρει̑ τὸν βίον ὁ Σωκράτης…(1119 B)

    But through these arguments Socrates does not abolish life.

Plato and his followers

  • 19[Q]: ‘᾿Αλλὰ δὴ Πλάτων φησὶ τοὺς ἵππους ὑφ’ ἡμω̑ν ματαίως ἵππους εἰ̑ναι 〈νομίζεσθαι〉 καὶ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους 〈ἀνθρώπους〉.’ καὶ που̑ του̑το τω̑ν Πλάτωνος συγγραμμάτων ἀποκεκρυμμένον εὑ̑ρεν ὁ Κωλώτης; (1115 C–D)

    (p.301) ‘And yet Plato says that it is foolish for us 〈to hold the opinion that〉 the horses are horses and the human beings [are] 〈human beings〉’. Where did Colotes find this saying hidden among Plato's writings?

  • 20[E]: οὕτως οὔτε φύσιν οὔτε χρη̑σιν οὔτ’ αἴσθησιν ἀνθρώπων ἀναιρου̑σιν οἱ κοινη̑ς τινος οὐσίας μετοχη̑ καὶ ἰδέας γινόμενον ἡμω̑ν ἕκαστον εἰκόνα του̑ παρασχόντος τὴν ὁμοιότητα τη̑ γενέσει προσαγορεύοντες [sc. Πλάτων]. (1115 F–1116 A)

    In this way those who claim that each one of us comes into being by participation in a common substance and form and is an image of the thing that provided its likeness to our generation abolish neither the nature nor the use nor the perception of human beings.

  • 21[E]: ὁ δὲ ταυ̑θ’ ὑπάρχειν τῳ̑ μετεσχηκέναι καὶ ὅσον ἀπολείπεται του̑ ὄντος ἀεὶ καὶ τὸ εἰ̑ναι παρέχοντος αὐτοι̑ς ὑπονοω̑ν [sc. Πλάτων] οὐ παρορᾷ τὸ αἰσθητὸν ἀλλ’ 〈οὐ〉 παρορᾷ τὸ νοητόν, οὐδ' ἀναιρει̑ τὰ γινόμενα καὶ φαινόμενα περὶ ἡμα̑ς τω̑ν παθω̑ν (1116 A–B)

    But he who supposes that these things [sc. sensible beings] exist by virtue of participation and in so far as they fall short of what forever is and gives them their being, does not overlook the sensible, but rather does 〈not〉 overlook the intelligible; nor does he abolish those of our affections that belong to the world of becoming and of appearances.

  • 22[E]: εἰ δὲ δὴ καὶ ὡς ἔνι μάλιστα διήμαρτε τούτοις ὁ Πλάτων, ὀνομάτων ὤφειλε συγχύσεως εὐθύνας ὑπέχειν τοι̑ς ἀκριβέστερον ἑλληνίζουσι τούτοις καὶ καθαρώτερον διαλεγομένοις, οὐχ ὡς ἀναιρω̑ν τὰ πράγματα καὶ του̑ ζη̑ν ἐξάγων ἡμα̑ς αἰτίαν ἔχειν, ὅτι τὰ γινόμενα 〈γινόμενα〉 καὶ οὐκ ὄντα, καθάπερ οὑ̑τοι, προσηγόρευσεν. (1116 E)

    And yet, granting that Plato was entirely mistaken with respect to such matters, these men who write and speak more accurate and pure Greek ought to accuse him [sc. Plato] of confusing names and not of abolishing the things in the world and of throwing us out of life because he called things that come into being 〈“things that come into being”〉 and not “beings”, like they do.


  • 23[Q]: τὸν βίον ἀναιρει̑σθαί φησιν [sc. ὁ Κωλώτης] ὑπ' αὐτου̑ [sc. Στίλπωνος] λέγοντος ἕτερον ἑτέρου μὴ κατηγορει̑σθαι. (1119 C–D)

    He [sc. Colotes] says that Stilpo abolishes life by saying that one thing is not predicated of another.

  • 24[Q]:πω̑ς γὰρ βιωσόμεθα μὴ λέγοντες ἄνθρωπον ἀγαθὸν μηδ’ ἄνθρωπον στρατηγὸν ἀλλ’ ἄνθρωπον ἄνθρωπον καὶ χωρὶς ἀγαθὸν ἀγαθὸν καὶ σ (p.302) τρατηγὸν στρατηγόν, μηδ’ ἱππει̑ς μυρίους μηδὲ πόλιν ἐχυράν, ἀλλ’ ἱππει̑ς ἱππει̑ς, καὶ μυρίους μυρίους, καὶ τὰ ἄλλα ὁμοίως;’ τίς δὲ διὰ ταυ̑τα χει̑ρον ἐβίωσεν ἀνθρώπων; τίς δὲ τὸν λόγον ἀκούσας οὐ συνη̑κεν, ὅτι παίζοντός ἐστιν εὐμούσως ἢ γύμνασμα του̑το προβάλλοντος ἑτέροις διαλεκτικόν; (1119 D)

    For how are we going to live without saying “the man is good” or “the man is a general”, but [saying] “the man is a man” and separately “the good is good” and “the general is a general”; or without [saying] “the equestrians are ten thousand” or “the city is fortified”, but “the equestrians are equestrians” and “ten thousand are ten thousand, and so on”?’ Who among men lived a worse life because of these doctrines? Who, upon hearing this argument, cannot realize that this comes from a man who is skilfully jesting or is putting forward a dialectical puzzle for others to solve?

  • 25[E]: εἴπερ οὐ̑ν ἐν τούτοις †ἐξαιμάξει πικρω̑ς ὁ Στίλπων…φωναι̑ς τισι δυσκολαίνων καὶ πρὸς τὴν συνήθειαν ἐνιστάμενος, οὐ τὸν βίον ἀναιρω̑ν οὐδὲ τὰ πράγματα δη̑λός ἐστι. (1120 B)

    And so if in these matters Stilpo bitterly causes grief…it is obvious that he is causing trouble with respect to utterances, raising objections against common usage, and he does not abolish life or the things in the world.


  • 26[Q]: διό φησιν αὐτοὺς ὁ Κωλώτης μὴ δύνασθαι ζη̑ν μηδὲ χρη̑σθαι τοι̑ς πράγμασιν· (1120 D)

    For this reason Colotes says that they [sc. the Cyrenaics] can neither live nor use the things in the world.

  • 27[Q]: εἰ̑τα κωμῳδω̑ν ‘οὑ̑τοι’ φησίνἄνθρωπον εἰ̑ναι καὶ ἵππον καὶ τοι̑χον οὐ λέγουσιν, αὑτοὺς δὲ τοιχου̑σθαι καὶ ἱππου̑σθαι καὶ ἀνθρωπου̑σθαι’ (1120 D)

    And then pouring ridicule, he [sc. Colotes] says, ‘these people do not say that it/there is a man and a horse and a wall, but that they themselves are walled and horsed and manned’.

Arcesilaus and Academic Sceptics

  • 28[Q]: μηδὲν γὰρ αὐτὸν ἴδιον λέγοντά φησιν ὑπόληψιν ἐμποιει̑ν 〈καινοτομίας〉 καὶ δόξαν ἀνθρώποις ἀγραμμάτοις, ἅτε δὴ πολυγράμματος αὐτὸς ὢν καὶ μεμουσωμένος [sc. ὁ Κωλώτης]. (1121 F)

    (p.303) As if he himself was learned and cultured, he [sc. Colotes] says that [sc. Arcesilaus] did not claim anything original, but only gave the impression and had the reputation for 〈innovation〉 among uneducated people.

  • 29[Q]:ἀλλὰ πω̑ς οὐκ εἰς ὄρος ἄπεισι τρέχων ὁ ἐπέχων ἀλλ’ εἰς βαλανει̑ον, οὐδὲ πρὸς τὸν τοι̑χον ἀλλὰ πρὸς τὰς θύρας ἀναστὰς βαδίζει, βουλόμενος εἰς ἀγορὰν προελθει̑ν;’ του̑τ’ ἐρωτᾷς [sc. ὠ̑ Κωλω̑τα] ἀκριβη̑ τὰ αἰσθητήρια λέγων εἰ̑ναι καὶ τὰς φαντασίας ἀληθει̑ς; (1122 E)

    But how come he who suspends judgement does not run to the mountain, but to the baths and does not stand up and walk towards the wall, but towards the door when he wants to go to the marketplace?’ You pose these questions, [Colotes], when you claim that our sensory organs are accurate and our sense impressions true?

  • 30[Q]:ἀλλ’ ἀδύνατον τὸ μὴ συγκατατίθεσθαι τοι̑ς ἐναργέσι· τὸ γὰρ ἀρνει̑σθαι τὰ πεπιστευμένα του̑ μήτ’ ἀρνει̑σθαι μήτε τιθέναι παραλογώτερον.’ τίς οὐ̑ν κινει̑ τὰ πεπιστευμένα καὶ μάχεται τοι̑ς ἐναργέσιν; (1122 F–1123 A)

    And yet it is impossible not to give assent to what is evident; for denying what has been trusted is more irrational than neither denying nor accepting [sc. what has been trusted].’ Who is it, then, that upsets our beliefs and goes against what is evident?

  • 31[E]: Οὐ μυ̑θος οὐ̑ν οὐδὲ θήρα ‘μειρακίων λαμυρω̑ν καὶ προπετω̑ν’ ὁ περὶ τη̑ς ἐποχη̑ς λόγος ἐστίν, ὡς οἴεται Κωλώτης. (1124 B)

    The argument about suspension of assent is neither a ‘myth’ nor a lure for ‘greedy and reckless young men’, as Colotes thinks.


  • 32[Q]: τελευτω̑ντος ἤδη του̑ βιβλίου φησὶν ὅτι ‘τὸν βίον οἱ νόμους διατάξαντες καὶ νόμιμα καὶ τὸ βασιλεύεσθαι τὰς πόλεις καὶ ἄρχεσθαι καταστήσαντες εἰς πολλὴν ἀσφάλειαν καὶ ἡσυχίαν ἔθεντο καὶ θορύβων ἀπήλλαξαν· εἰ δέ τις ταυ̑τα ἀναιρήσει, θηρίων βίον βιωσόμεθα καὶ ὁ προστυχὼν τὸν ἐντυχόντα μονονοὺ κατέδεται’ του̑το γὰρ ὁ Κωλώτης αὐται̑ς λέξεσιν ἐκπεφώνηκεν, οὐ δικαίως οὐδ’ ἀληθω̑ς. (1124 D)

    When his book comes to an end he says that ‘the men who drew up laws and customs and established the government of cities by kings and archons brought about great security and peace and freed us from turmoil. But if one abolishes these institutions, we shall live the life of beasts and anyone who encounters another will nearly devour him’. This is what Colotes exclaimed in his own words, and it is unjustified and false.


(1) See Chapter 3, section 3.1 for a discussion of the different types of passages taken as testimonies for Colotes' book.