Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2004.12.20

Lorenzo Perilli, Menodoto di Nicomedia. Contributo a una storia galeniana della medicina empirica.   München, Leipzig:  K. G. Saur, 2004.  Pp. 252.  ISBN 3-598-77818-X.  €88.00.  

Reviewed by Guillaume Dye (
Word count: 4225 words

During the first half of the 2nd Century A. D. (hence a few decades before Galen), the Greek empirical doctor Menodotus of Nicomedia (fl. 125 A.D.) made a substantial contribution to the medical tradition of Empiricism. Thus, according to the testimonies of Ps.-Galen (Introductio seu medicus XIV 683, 11 K) and Iohannes Alexandrinus (Commentaria in librum de sectis Galeni, prooem. 2ra), it appears that Menodotus and Sextus strengthened Empiricism.1

Such is the common opinion of many historians. They also credit Menodotus with a strong influence in the development of the philosophical tradition mainly associated with Empiricism, namely Pyrrhonism.2 For instance, in the first book-length study dedicated to Menodotus -- and, until the present book, the only one, as far as I know --, Albert Favier claims that Menodotus was both a powerful thinker and the main inspiration of Galen in his writings about Empiricism.3 The same idea is found in Brochard's famous history of Greek skepticism.4

Lorenzo Perilli (hereafter P.) disagrees with this picture of Menodotus and of ancient Empiricism. Following Karl Deichgräber's advice,5 he wonders whether historians have not been too hasty in ascribing a "Menodotan" lineage to various ideas expressed in the Galenic discussions of Empiricism. According to P. -- and it is without doubt the book's main thesis --, a great deal of these ideas should be traced back to earlier phases of Empiricism (probably, for a fair number of them, to Heraclides of Tarentum). Therefore, P. aims at giving a more balanced historical presentation of Menodotus than the one generally given. And because he is our chief source on Menodotus, Galen takes up a great deal of the book -- hence the subtitle.

P.'s method is clear: to assess precisely the nature of Menodotus' contribution to medicine, one must check the sources related to Menodotus, both those (rather scarce) which explicitly mention Menodotus, and those, more numerous, where Menodotus is not mentioned, but where historians have conjectured his influence.

Concerning the first kind of texts, P. collects fifty-three fragments, numbered T1 to T44 (there are ten parallel passages at T14). Forty-one of them are from Galen. These fragments expressly refer to Menodotus. Other texts, where Menodotus' name does not appear, are collected as numbers C1 to C43 (but there are forty-six of these texts, with three "twin" passages at C5, C7 and C33). These texts, too, are mainly from Galen (more than thirty).

However, this last group of texts has a curious status. P. has mixed up fragments of a very heterogeneous nature -- at least if one follows the traditional history mentioned earlier. There are first excerpts (notably from Galen's Subfiguratio empirica) where scholars have often detected Menodotus' influence. As I noted before, P.'s goal is to show that these passages are not drawn from Menodotus but rather from other Empiricists: to cite only two names, Heraclides of Tarentum and Menodotus' contemporary Theodas, who reveals himself in certain respects as a first-rate thinker. But one also find excerpts from authors older than Menodotus (Celsus, Philodemus, Pliny and Aristotle), which obviously cannot document anything about Menodotus. One wonders why P. has included them in the collection of fragments discussed in the body of his work. Nevertheless, the puzzle disappears, or rather becomes less mysterious, if this collection of fragments is seen as an attempt to sketch a coherent picture of Empiricism, where the role of Menodotus is to a large extent more limited than generally thought. Indeed, if the various positions held by Menodotus can be found in other authors before him, then Menodotus is more a popularizer of Empiricism than an innovator. Or, to put things less bluntly, Menodotus should only be seen as the official exponent and defender of a doctrine that was in its essentials developed and consolidated before him (p. 73).

P.'s collection of fragments, with translation and a running commentary,6 is divided into three parts. After a substantial introduction (pp. 14-29), where he presents his project (pp. 14-21) and gets to settle a score with the anachronistic idea of Empiricism as a forerunner of the modern scientific experimental method (pp. 21-29), P. sets out the main lines of his subject-matter. This is the task of Part One ("Le coordinate", pp. 31-75). This part, divided into three chapters, gives some brief information on Empiricism (pp. 32-35), then lists and presents the main sources used in the book, namely Galen's works (pp. 36-51). It also scrutinizes the character of Menodotus as a source of Galen (pp. 52-75).

Part two ("I dati", pp. 77-124) is divided into four chapters of very unequal length. P. first studies the list of Menodotus' works (pp. 78-80), and this leads him to the tricky question of the title of Galen's Protrepticus (pp. 81-89). P. argues that a misreading of Galen de libris propriis XIX, 38 K led mediaeval and modern scholars (and consequently more recent ones) to interpolate Menodotus' name wrongly in the title of Galen's Protrepticus. P. may be right, but matters are complex and doubt doesn't seem out of place. P. next examines the polemics with rationalism -- Menodotus' attack on Asclepiades, Galen's attack on Menodotus (pp. 90-97) -- and Menodotus' position on phlebotomy (pp. 97-100). This part ends with a long chapter about Menodotus' links with other Empiricists and with Skepticism (pp. 101-124).

Part Three ("L'interpretazione", pp. 125-197) investigates more doctrinal matters, especially some aspects of the "empiric tripod". A few words about Empiricism might here be in order.

The empirical tripod constitutes the methodology by which Empirical doctors, without relying on reason (or, rather, on reason as it is conceived by their Rationalist opponents), can practice their medical art. It is made up of three parts. First, there is αὐτοψία (personal observation). Second, there is ἱστορία, that is to say, the experience of past doctors found in their teaching and their books. It is an extension of αὐτοψία: the Empirical doctor relies on the observations of other people, provided these observations are not theory laden (by "theory", one should here understand the explicative apparatus used by Rationalist doctors, like Asclepiades' intelligible pores). Finally, there is μετάβασις, "transfer", or more precisely "transition from the similar to similar" (ἡ τοῦ ὁμοίου μετάβασις). This method, whose statute is much discussed among Empiricists, "leads to practical experience which is based on the similarity with what one knows already by experience" (Subfiguratio empirica 49, 14 Deichgräber = C 16 P.). If we know that a remedy cures a certain disease for a certain organ and if we observe that there is some similarity between this disease and another one (or the same one striking another organ) for which no remedy is known, then we may think it judicious to use, with due precautions, the remedy of the first disease for curing the second one. Let us remember that the precise statute of μετάβασις caused much disagreement between Empiricists.

According to Theodas (Galen, Subfiguratio empirica 50, 11 Deichgräber), experience comes about through these three methods. But that doesn't preclude the Empiricist from using a certain kind of reasoning, called ἐπιλογισμός. Contrary to ἀναλογισμός, whose conclusion points to invisible or non-evident things, epilogism is an inference which moves entirely in the domain of evident and visible things: because visible things testify to its correctness, this inference is well tested and rectified and may be used by Empiricists.

P.' examination of the principles of Empirical medicine follows quite loosely the sketch just given -- with good reason, because there are, concerning Menodotus, many things to say about experience and not much to say, for example, about ἱστορία (see, however, pp. 170-172): P. thus studies the relations between reason and experience (pp. 126-140), the concept of epilogism (pp. 140-153) and the notion of μετάβασις (pp. 154-176). The last chapter (nicely entitled "À rebours: scienza ellenistica, peripato, Diocle di Caristo") brings us back to the origins and beginnings of Empiricism. P. underlines some links between Empiricism, Peripatetic scholarship and Classical and early Hellenistic science and medicine (pp. 177-197). Though interesting in its own right, this chapter is centered on the figures of Diocles and Herophilus and doesn't add anything substantial to the study of Menodotus.

Finally, a dense epilogue discusses the authenticity of Galen's de experientia medica and de optima secta (pp. 198-209). P. questions whether the de experientia medica, as we read it, is really the same text as the de experientia medica Galen refers to in his own writings -- and he has some reservations. The question is too complex to detain us here, but it arguably needs further study. A full bibliography (pp. 210-223) and five indices (pp. 227-252) close the book.

No doubt, we have here one of the first truly scholarly monographs entirely devoted to a single empirical doctor,7 which may be compared (if not in scope) to Deichgräber's seminal work on Empiricism. P. must be praised for the way he peruses Galenic (and other) fragments related to Menodotus. He shows a real sensitivity to details often unnoticed by less careful readers and often manages to recover (as far as possible) the context in which Empiricism made its last developments. P. displays a welcome methodological rigor; his work is rich and comprehensive, even though the material studied is quite tenuous. The chapters on the "empirical tripod" should particularly be praised. P. skillfully guides the reader through the twists and turns of Empiricist epistemology. These chapters are to my mind the most stimulating of the book and should be read by everyone interested in ancient epistemology and science.

However, I prefer to focus, in the remainder of this review, on a few points of disagreement with P. Indeed, even if I agree with him on many points (and I share some of his doubts about the alleged role of Menodotus in the development of Empiricism he is often credited with), I have some reservations about various theses advanced in the book. I have limited my discussion to three of the most salient points of disagreement I have with P.

The main problem, or so it seems to me, is well known and easily understood: P.'s insistent critique on the traditional interpretation of Menodotus has led him too far in the opposite direction. To put the point briefly: P. shows convincingly that we often do not have conclusive reasons to see Menodotus behind some or other Empirical thesis but, unless we have strong reasons to do so (and this is sometimes the case, sometimes not), we are not entitled to credit someone else with such ideas. For example, I sometimes find P. too hasty in seeing the shadow of Heraclides of Tarentum behind supposed Menodotan theses. P. may be right, of course, all the more so since Heraclides was probably one of Menodotus' sources. Yet I doubt we have enough evidence to establish the pure Heraclidean authorship of such ideas, and this may leave some responsibility to Menodotus in their development.

For instance, I agree with P. when, comparing various passages from Galen's de experientia medica and Celsus' de medicina (pp. 54-59), he ascribes the Empirical ideas expounded by Galen to Heraclides. But when he sees Heraclides as a more likely initiator of epilogism in the Empirical method than Menodotus (pp. 143-146), I would be more cautious: such an hypothesis is perfectly well-founded only if Deichgräber's emendation of Subfiguratio empirica 88, 1 is admitted and a particular reading of the text is accepted, and these choices are not necessarily more justified than their opposite. So I begin my discussion with this awkward passage.

1) Galen, Subfiguratio empirica 87, 17-88, 4. Cf. T 36 P. (p. 143)

Here is a part of the Latin text, without the emendation, followed by an English translation:

tarentinus (sc. Heraclides) quoniam est quidem nouit, et videtur uti ea in multis, sicut autem qui permansit [in]exercitatus8 in ipsa, tantum est deterior medicus Hippocrate, quantum est melior quam minodotus, multociens quidem introducens aliud tertium preter memoriam et sensum et vocans epilogismum hoc tertium, multotiens autem et preter memoriam nihil aliud ponens quam epilogismum sicut in iudicatione eorum que ad seuirum ab eo scripta sunt ostendi.
"The Tarentine, too, knows very well that there is one [a faculty which is able to consider and to judge what is incompatible with something and what follows from something], and he obviously uses it on many occasions. But, as one who remained unexercised in this faculty, he is as much worse a doctor than Hippocrates as he is better than Menodotus. He at times introduces something third, in addition to memory and perception; he calls this third thing epilogism, whereas, often, he does not posit anything in addition to memory except epilogism, as I have shown in my critique of his writings to Severus".

Here we face two problems. First, the emendation: Deichgräber, followed by P. and many translators,9 reads "sensum" instead of the second "epilogismum". Second, who is Galen talking about in the last sentence, given the presence of Heraclides and Menodotus in the preceding sentence? Does he always refer to Menodotus or is it sometimes Heraclides, as P. argues? P. understands the text as follows (pp. 145-146). Galen contrasts Heraclides with Menodotus: Heraclides resorts to both sources of medical knowledge, namely perception and reason, whereas it is only at times that Menodotus adds epilogism to memory and perception. So, according to P., it is Heraclides who is the introducens of epilogism ("he at times introduces" thus refers to Heraclides), while Menodotus "often does not posit anything in addition to memory and perception".

I find this reading possible, but a bit strained. Reading Menodotus as the initiator of the epilogism seems much more natural: in this text, Galen aims at introducing his reader to various Empirical tenets about the use of reason, and once he has described Heraclides' ideas, he describes Menodotus'. A good transition is lacking after "... minodotus", but it is less unnatural than the discrepancy postulated by P. ([Heraclides] called this third thing epilogism, whereas, often, [Menodotus] does not posit anything...").

Of course, Heraclides may have initiated the epilogism in the Empirical tradition,10 but if this passage is P.'s main evidence, then he is not entitled to say so. And the passages on epilogism in de experientia medica XXIV 1, 4, pp. 132ff W (= T 33 P.) do not prove Heraclides' influence on this point: arguably, there is much from Heraclides in de experientia medica, but it does not follow that everything there comes from him.

2) Diogenes Laertius IX, 115, 6-116, 9. Cf. T 29 P. (p. 109)

At the end of his doxography of Pyrrhonism, Diogenes Laertius lists various "heads" of the Pyrrhonian school. The text is too long to be inserted here, but may be briefly summarized as follows.

Diogenes says roughly this: according to Menodotus, Timon of Phlius had no successor until Ptolemy of Cyrene revived Pyrrhonism.11 Other people (Hippobotus and Sotion) disagree: according to them, the Pyrrhonian school didn't undergo any interruption. Next follows a list of various Pyrrhonians, which is in part due to Hippobotus and Sotion, and in part not (for chronological reasons). It appears that Ptolemy had a certain Heraclides (no ethnic mentioned) as his pupil, who in turn was Aenesidemus' master. After various names, we meet "Menodotus of Nicomedia, Empirical doctor", who is introduced as Antiochus of Laodicea's disciple. A few names follow: Theodas, Herodotus of Tarsus, Sextus Empiricus and Saturninus, the last known Pyrrhonian skeptic.

It is generally agreed that this list is somewhat spurious and should not be taken at face value. Both the discrepancies between the testimony of Menodotus and those of Hippobotus and Sotion and the chronological problems faced by the list of Pyrrhonians from Euphrator to Saturninus are well-known. However, P. asks another question, which has not attracted the attention of scholars: who is Diogenes talking about when he refers, the first time, to Menodotus?

Scholars generally suppose it is Menodotus of Nicomedia, but P. doubts this. I think he has some reasons to do so, but if he is right, there is a very surprising consequence (which he does not draw, it seems to me) for the history of Skepticism and Empiricism -- and this should give us pause.

P. asks why Diogenes mentioned Menodotus of Nicomedia's ethnic and medical affiliation (whereas he says nothing on the medical affiliation of the other doctors mentioned in the list, except Saturninus), if he was the same man as the first Menodotus. If both "Menodotus" referred to the one and the same person, we should expect Diogenes to provide this information the first time he refers to Menodotus. If one remembers that "Menodotus" is not an uncommon name, and that Diogenes refers elsewhere in his work (Lives II, 104) to another Menodotus, then one may think we have here two Menodotus, not just one. Therefore, one must completely erase Menodotus from Diogenes' possible sources (p. 111), because there seems no way for Menodotus to be, for at least a small part of this text, Diogenes' source.

Such a conclusion had already been drawn,12 except for the information about Ptolemy of Cyrene. However, P.'s argument faces two problems.

First, who is the other Menodotus? P. refers to Menodotus of Perinte, but in this case the information concerning Ptolemy cannot come from him, and this is a problem, as acknowledged by P. (p. 111). He also mentions Menodotus of Samos (he is probably the Menodotus cited by Diogenes at Lives II, 104), but we know nothing about him, except that he wrote about painting -- so we're no further than we were.

Second, if Menodotus of Nicomedia is not the source for the information about Ptolemy of Cyrene, then there is a surprising difficulty concerning our understanding of the revival of Pyrrhonism. Aenesidemus is generally credited with this revival, and scholars generally dismiss Ptolemy of Cyrene. In favor of Aenesidemus, we have Aristocles' testimony (apud Eus., Pr. ev. XIV, xviii, 29) and the references to Aenesidemus by Sextus, whereas we have next to nothing for Ptolemy: he is an Empirical doctor,13 and we should not be surprised if an Empirical doctor like Menodotus of Nicomedia attempts to link Empiricism and Pyrrhonism much earlier than they were effectively linked. But such a suspicion disappears if Diogenes' source here is not Menodotus of Nicomedia, but another Menodotus, who has nothing to do with Empiricism: we can no longer explain at one go the presence of an Empiricist so early in Diogenes' list and our reasons to doubt it. Of course, that doesn't preclude us from doubting the testimony of this unknown Menodotus. However, given the level of our ignorance about the history of Pyrrhonism and Empiricism, we should find a better reason to do so than the single fact that Menodotus' testimony opposes the scanty evidence we owe to Aristocles.

Maybe some will argue that things are much simpler if we reject P.'s argument: P.'s only motive for doubting the traditional reading comes from stylistic reasons -- and Diogenes could have been a little untidy while using his various sources. But we could also be more charitable towards Diogenes and side with P. In this case, the testimony of this unidentified Menodotus could be doubted or (why not?) accepted. Nevertheless, until fuller information or analysis, I would suggest applying a skeptical policy and suspending judgement on this tricky problem.

3) Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonism I, 222. Cf. T 28 P. (p. 105).

Here is a text where I think P.'s tendency to hypercriticism leads him astray. The passage is well-known: Sextus Empiricus wonders whether Plato is, as some said, a "pure Skeptic": "as to whether he is purely skeptical, we deal with this at some length in our Commentaries. Here, in an outline, we say, καταπερμηνοδοτον καὶ Αἰνησίδημον, for these most of all advanced this position ...." We have here two problems with the καταπερμηνοδοτον of the manuscripts. First, who must be added to Aenesidemus? Second, does Sextus argue against Aenesidemus and his colleague, who believed Plato to be a pure Skeptic, or does he follow their steps and argue that Plato is not a Skeptic? Various answers have been provided to these questions, but the one which seems to me the most convincing is found in Spinelli's most recent treatment of the subject. Spinelli reads καθάπερ οἱ περὶ Μηνόδοτον:14 Sextus, following Menodotus and Aenesidemus, argues that Plato is not a Skeptic. This reading has much for it, both on philosophical and paleographical grounds -- this is well explained in Spinelli's insightful paper and there's no need to rehearse his painstaking analysis. However, for moot reasons, P. disagrees about the presence of Menodotus.

This review is long enough to spare the reader a tedious examination of this problem, but I think something should be said about P.'s strategy. P. tries to cast doubt about the presence of Menodotus (I only cite the main reasons, see pp. 106-108): Menodotus' association with Anesidemus is strange, for both are chronologically quite remote and Menodotus is cited first whereas Aenesidemus is older; Sextus never cites Menodotus, so this hapax seems doubtful; Sextus could not use Menodotus because he later dissents from Empiricism and sides with Methodism (see Outlines of Pyrrhonism I, 236-241); Menodotus seems not to have much to do with Skepticism; and the paleographic reasons cannot be decisive.

One might feel a little impatience with such objections, all the more so since P. is here much more pernickety with the arguments he opposes than with the objections he himself faces.

First, nobody thinks paleographic reasons are enough to be decisive, but if someone thinks of a solution that is both consistent and economical on a paleographical point of view, it's rather a good thing (and on pure paleographical grounds, Spinelli's reading has much to commend it). Moreover, if one proposes a solution which is inconsistent or uneconomical from a paleographical point of view, that may be one good reason to doubt it. P.'s solution, which conjectures a much longer lacuna than is generally supposed, is to my mind rather "expensive".

Second, Sextus quite often disagrees with Aenesidemus, for example about Skepticism and Heracliteanism (Outlines of Pyrrhonism I 210-212). In his discussion of Plato's Skepticism Sextus cites Aenesidemus whereas he disagreed with him just a few lines before. So nothing prevents him from citing Menodotus, even though he may implicitly disagree with him a few pages later.

Third, Sextus very rarely cites his Pyrrhonian predecessors. His main reasons to deviate from this general policy are the following: to state a dissent (often with Aenesidemus), to name and honor a great figure of Pyrrhonism (as is often the case with Pyrrho and Timon) and to refer to a more thorough, or to a classic, treatment of the subject he's talking about (see for example the quotation of Timon at the opening of Against the Geometers). I believe this is the reason why he cites the names of Menodotus and Aenesidemus here. If Menodotus had written something about Plato in one of his works -- and there is no conclusive reason to exclude this --, then Sextus had no good reason to refrain from citing him. And the fact that we know of no other comparable testimony about Menodotus does not prove that Menodotus hadn't the slightest interest in philosophy: rather, it may show how little we know about him.

Fourth, I don't see why Sextus couldn't bracket together Menodotus and Aenesidemus (whatever the order). Various hypotheses could be imagined (we are moving here in the hazardous field of hypotheses and conjectures, but remember that P. considers that Menodotus' presence here is incredible): for example, maybe Menodotus had written a brief treatment of the subject which was inspired by Aenesidemus (if Diogenes cites Menodotus as an Empirical doctor and a Skeptical philosopher, Menodotus could have read Aenesidemus, even if his interests in Philosophy were rather limited).

Of course, one could still feel some doubts about Menodotus' presence in Spinelli's (and other scholars) reading: besides this garbled text, there is not much evidence. But saying, like P., that the hypotheses "che privilegia Menodoto appare le meno probabile" (p. 106), is wholly unjustified. Other hypotheses are even weaker. Postulating "Herodotus of Tarsus" instead of Menodotus may be equivalent from a paleographic point of view, but Herodotus is much less known than Menodotus and his putative presence much more doubtful; conjecturing a longer lacuna appears to me a desperate ploy.

I hope that the preceding critical discussion will not suggest that I find P.'s book of dubious quality: on the contrary, I find his critical acuteness welcome and his work often remarkable. Admittedly, I find some of his arguments less convincing than others, but there is much to be learned from the book, notably from his painstaking readings of numerous fragments. After reading this book, our knowledge of Menodotus of Nicomedia may appear less extensive than before: we can no longer confidently believe he was the innovator many thought he was, and we see that what is purely "Menodotan" may not be much. However, we have a better understanding of the development of Empiricism, and, although at times we may want to take issue with P., we get a clearer idea of what is needed to defend a more traditional view of the history of Empiricism, or at least to nuance some of P.'s conclusions. It is to be hoped that the same kind of work will be pursued with other Empiricists.


1.   The identity of the Sextus cited here is debatable. Both texts draw arguably from the same source. Ps.-Galen mentions, without more details, a "Sextus". Scholars have been tempted to identify this Sextus with "Sextus Empiricus". On the other hand, Iohannes Alexandrinus refers to "Sextus Afer", about whom nothing is known.
2.   According to Brochard, Menodotus must be held liable for the marriage between Empiricism and Pyrrhonism: before him, there was no relationship between medical Empiricism and philosophical Skepticism. Cf. Victor Brochard, Les sceptiques grecs, Paris, Vrin, 2ème édition, 1923, pp. 235-236. I have many reservations about this thesis: the dialogue between Empiricism and Pyrrhonism is to my mind quite older. Note that Perilli downplays Menodotus' influence on this point, judging that Menodotus' interests were quite alien to philosophical questions (p. 107, n. 5).
3.   Cf. A. Favier, Un médecin grec du deuxième siècle ap. J.-C., précurseur de la méthode expérimentale moderne: Ménodote de Nicomédie, Paris, 1906, p. 7.
4.   Cf. Brochard, pp. 312 and 371.
5.   Cf. Karl Deichgräber, Die griechische Empirikerschule. Sammlung der Fragmente und Darstellung der Lehre, vermehrter Neudruck Berlin-Zürich, 1965 (Berlin 1930).
6.   A word about the fragments and their translations. Except for fragments of Galen preserved only in Arabic, P. always cites the original text -- in Greek or, failing that, in the Latin translation when it is the only extant version. For Galen's Subfiguratio empirica, he cites both the Medieval Latin translation by Niccolò da Reggio and Deichgräber's Greek retroversion. P. also provides a modern translation (generally the most authoritative or its own when no translation is available). This gives his book a very cosmopolitan mood -- Italian, Greek, Latin, English, German and some French. This should not annoy the specialist but may disturb less informed readers.
7.   Not, strictly speaking, the first one. See Alessia Guardasole, Eraclide di Taranto. Frammenti, testo critico, introduzione, traduzione e commento, Napoli: M. D'Auria, 1997.
8.   inexercitatus is an emendation by Bonnet. It gives a much better reading than the ut exercitatus of the manuscripts.
9.   But not by all. P. cites Frede's English translation, Atzpodien's German translation and Russo's Italian translation, which agree with him (p. 144, n. 24). But Guardasole, in her edition of Heraclides' fragments (cited by P.), and the French translation of Galen (omitted by P.) disagree. Cf. Galien, Traités philosophiques et logiques, traductions inédites par P. Pellegrin, C. Dalimier et J.-P. Levet, Paris, GF, 1998 (see p. 124).
10.   P.' hypothesis supposes a low dating (75 B. C.) for Heraclides to make borrowing of epilogism from the Epicureans (particularly Philodemus of Gadara) possible, as asserted by P. (p. 146). Some historians (Zeller, Brochard, Görler and Glücker), relying on Celsus, de medicina prooem. 10, have argued for a high dating of Heraclides: roughly, at least one century before the low one, and in any case much before Asclepiades of Bithynia, whose own dates are controversial (around 65 B. C. according to a traditional interpretation, in 91 B. C. according to the most recent consensus -- but this last hypothesis is not without problems). For various reasons, which I develop in a paper in progress, I side with Deichgräber and P. and think that the low dating for Heraclides is more likely. So I won't dispute P. on this point.
11.   This is by far the most plausible reading of the text. A very skeptical-minded reader may object that another understanding is possible: we should ascribe to Menodotus only the idea that Timon had no successor and ascribe to Diogenes himself, who could be relying on another source, the idea that Ptolemy revived Pyrrhonism. But this reading seems utterly unnatural.
12.   See, inter alia, Jonathan Barnes, "Diogenes Laertius IX 61-116 : The Philosophy of Pyrrhonism", Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II.36.6, 1992, pp. 4279-4280. Barnes' argument doesn't rely on an examination of Diogenes' list but bears, in its essentials, on the whole Life of Pyrrho.
13.   We have only two fragments by Ptolemy and both come apparently from Heraclides of Tarentum. See Celsus, de medicina VI, 7, 2b = fr. 166 Deichgräber, and Galen, comp. med. sec. loc. XII, 584, 15 K = fr. 167 Deichgräber.
14.   See Emidio Spinelli, Sextus Empiricus, the neighbouring philosophies and the sceptical tradition (again on Pyr. I 220-225), in J. Sihvola (ed.), Ancient Scepticism and the Sceptical Tradition, Acta Philosophica Fennica 66, Helsinki, 2000, pp. 36-61. The paper contains a discussion of the competing hypotheses and a convincing argument in favor of Spinelli's own solution.

Read Latest
Index for 2004
Change Greek Display
Books Available for Review

HTML generated at 13:29:45, Friday, 03 April 2009