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  • Print publication year: 2000
  • Online publication date: March 2008

5 - Democritus

Discussion of the ethical and political views of Democritus of Abdera cannot avoid preliminary consideration of the evidence for that area of his thought. Scepticism about the authenticity of the ethical fragments is grounded in two primary considerations, first the silence of Aristotle and Theophrastus on Democritus' ethical writings and secondly the fact that the sources for the bulk of the fragments, the collections of Stobaeus and 'Democrates', cannot plausibly be thought to have been compiled from direct access to texts of Democritus. This chapter proceeds on the following assumptions. A substantial amount of the Democritean material in Stobaeus derives from Democritus' own writings. Grounds for greater confidence in the genuineness of a quotation from Stobaeus are provided when that quotation is also ascribed to Democritus by a writer earlier than Stobaeus. The 'Democrates' sayings represent a stage of transmission of the tradition more distant from Democritus himself than that represented by those passages counted as genuine.
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The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Political Thought
  • Online ISBN: 9781139053716
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