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Aenesidemus and the Academy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 February 2009

Fernanda Decleva Caizzi
University of Milan


In cod. 212 of his Bibliotheca, Photius provides some information of great importance for our scanty knowledge of Pyrrhonian scepticism between Timon and Sextus

Copyright © The Classical Association 1992

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1 So far as I know, the only scholar who has raised the question of evaluating Photius' testimony in the light of his own method is Janáček, K.; but his attention is mainly focused on Photius' use of philosophical terminology: ‘Zur Interpretation des Photios-Abschnitte über Ainesidem’, Eirene 14 (1976), 93100Google Scholar; see also Philologus 121 (1977), 93.Google Scholar

2 Here λγοι has the sense ‘books’, and so Δμρρωνων will be understood as genitive plural noun. But Photius himself, a little later, again cites Aenesidemus' work in a way that gives λγοι the meaning of ‘Discourses’: γρφει δ τοὺς λγομς κτλ. Photius' title recurs in the Byzantine tradition, cf. Gigante, M., Poeti bizantini di terra d'Otranto nel sec. XIII2 (Naples, 1979), p. 46Google Scholar, who refers to Giovanni Grasso, diplomat and poet, author of Δμρρώνια. On the sceptical tradition in the Byzantine era, still incompletely explored, some references can be found in Schmitt, C. B., ‘The Rediscovery of Ancient Skepticism in Modern Times’, in Burnyeat, M. (ed.), The Skeptical Tradition (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1983), 225–51, pp. 234ff.Google Scholar

3 According to Wilson, N. G., Scholars of Byzantium (London, 1983), pp. 93ff.Google Scholar, Photius will not be free of obvious mistakes; but see now the penetrating study by Schamp, J., Photios historien des lettres. La Bibliothèque et ses notices biographiques (Paris, 1987)Google Scholar (‘Ce qui est surprenant, c'est la rareté des cas où, manifestement, Photios a commis une grossière erreur’); I hope to show that there is no reason, even in this case (not considered by Schamp), to suppose he is offering wrong information.

4 For the title Δμρρώνιοι λγοι, see SE, M 8.215.

5 On Aristocles, a Peripatetic of the imperial period but of uncertain date, cf. Moraux, P., Der Aristotelismus bei den Griechen (Berlin and New York, 1984), ii.83207CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Because χθς κα πρώην can mark either a short or a long span of time, we do not have definite means of dating Aristocles, not even if, as I hope to show, it is possible to date Aenesidemus fairly securely.

6 But one should note the absence of the name that is to be expected, Xanthus the son of Timon, whom Timon had caused to study medicine (D.L. 9.110): ἰατρικν δδαξε κα διδοχον το βομ κατλιπεν. From what follows next, we may deduce that the source of the information on Xanthus was Sotion himself in book 11 of his Successions. If so, was Sotion making a distinction between a ‘Pyrrhonian way of life’ and a stricter philosophical engagement? D.L.'s sentence is not easy to evaluate.

7 Deichgräber, K., Die griechische Empirikerschule (1930, repr. Berlin–Zürich, 1965), p. 172Google Scholar, dates him to about 75 b.c., but from a passage of Celsus, de medic, prooem. V 3, he should precede Asclepiades (dated by Rawson, E., ‘The Life and Death of Asclepiades of Bithynia’, CQ 32 (1982), 358–70CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed, to the later second century b.c.). Cf. Brochard, V., Les Sceptiques grecs2 (Paris, 1923), pp. 232f.Google Scholar, and Glucker, J., Antiochus and the Late Academy (Göttingen, 1978), p. 109 n. 38Google Scholar. See also Mudry, Ph., La préface du De Medicina de Celse. Texte, Traduction et commentaire (Rome, 1982), p. 72Google Scholar. However, it should also be mentioned that Heraclides referred to Ptolemy, and this would rather favour identifying him with the Heraclides cited in the succession of Pyrrhonian philosophers, notwithstanding the chronological implausibility of his presence there.

8 As far as I am aware, only Goedeckemeyer, A., Die Geschichte des Griechischen Skeptizismus (Leipzig, 1905), p. 210 n. 7Google Scholar, has realized that the expression ξ Aἰγν does not necessarily signify the place of birth, and so does not have to be taken as alternative to Cnossus, as is customarily done (cf. Saisset, E., Enésidème (Paris, 1865), pp. 45ff.Google Scholar: ‘Nous ne dirons qu'un mot du passage de Photius qui a induit à supposer qu'Ægé fut la patrie d'Ænésidème. Aἰνησδηµος ξ Aἰγν, dit Photius. Ménage propose de lire ξ Aἰγπτομ au lieu de ξ Aἰγν. Mais cette altération d'un texte bien établi est arbitraire, et il nous paraît plus sage de penser que Photius s'est trompé sur ce point comme sur tant d'autres', Brochard, op. cit., p. 242; Robin, L., Pyrrhon et le scepticisme grec (Paris, 1944), p. 139Google Scholar; M. Dal, Pra, Lo scetticismo greco3 (Bari, 1989), p. 351 n. 4)Google Scholar. Pappenheim, , ‘Der Sitz der Schule der pyrrhonischen Skeptiker’, Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 1 (1888), 3752CrossRefGoogle Scholar, is completely silent on Photius' information.

9 The Macedonian city (no. 4) is less probable for reasons we shall see shortly (below, n. 16).

10 BVC have Aἰγιαιεῖς (Aἰγιαιεῖς M, Hude), corrected to Aἰγα by Valckenaer.

11 The ruins of the city are still visible. Further details in The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites (Princeton, 1976)Google Scholar, s.v. Aigai, p. 19. Seized by Attalus I in 218 b.c. (Polyb. 5.77) it was sacked by Prusias II in his war against Attalus II (156–154 b.c.): cf. Polyb. 33.13. The coinage began around 300 b.c., and continued up to the middle of the third century a.d. At no great distance was a temple of Apollo Chresterius, dedicated by the people of Pergamum under P. Servilius Isauricus, proconsul of Asia in 46 b.c. (cf. Robert, L., EtudAnat (1937), 7487).Google Scholar

12 Cf. Glucker, op. tit., p. 137.

13 For Photius' liking for reporting details of this kind, cf. a similar, though much more detailed, instance in the case of the Neoplatonist Hierocles, before the summary of his Περ προνοας κα εἱμαρμνης, cod. 214, p. 171 b 19–32; Elter, A., ‘Zu Hierokles dem Neuplatoniker’, Rh. Mus. 65 (1910), 175–99, p. 176.Google Scholar

14 Cf. Quint., 9.1.80: ‘ilium a senatu missum non ad bellum, sed ad frumentum coemendum.’

15 Die Philosophie der Griechen in ihrer geschichtliche Darstellung. III.2, p. 15.Google Scholar

16 Cf. Victor, Chapot, La province romaine proconsulaire d'Asie (Paris, 1904)Google Scholar; David, Magie, Roman Rule in Asia Minor to the End of the Third Century after Christ, i-ii (Princeton, 1950)Google Scholar. The other Aegae in Cilicia was certainly visited by Cicero when he was proconsul of that province in 51/50. If Aenesidemus had stayed and been active in this city, Cicero's silence (which I will discuss later) would be quite inexplicable. As to identification with the Macedonian Aegae (no. 4), that would require a meeting between Aenesidemus and Tubero at the time of Pharsalus; but the words of the proem do not seem at all consonant with such circumstances.

17 Cfr. Μουσεῖον κα Βιβλιοθκη τς εὐαγγελικς σχολς II. 1 (1875–6), not available to me; Kaibel, , Ep. Gr. no. 241b, p. 522Google Scholar; von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, U., Antigonos von Karystos (Philologische Untersuchungen IV, Berlin, 1881), p. 291Google Scholar; Baltazzi, D., Bull. de Corr. Hell. 12 (1888), no. 17, p. 368Google Scholar; Picavet, F., Revue de philologie 12 (1888), 185–6Google Scholar; IGR iv.1740; Peek, W., Griechische Vers-Inschriften, i (Berlin, 1955), no. 603, p. 147Google Scholar; Inschriften Griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien, Bd 5. Die Inschriften von Kyme, ed. Engelmann, H. (Bonn, 1976), no. 48, pp. 114–15Google Scholar. This inscription and the obscure Menecles were the subject of a lecture by Jonathan, Barnes, ‘Pourquoi lire les anciens?’ at the Collège International de Philosophie (Paris, 30 June 1990)Google Scholar, the text of which, thanks to the author's courtesy, I was able to read after having completed this study. It is worth noting that without even exploiting Photius' evidence (and so underestimating the importance of its information), Barnes points out en passant the geographical connection between the place where the inscription was found and Aegae in Mysia.

18 Barnes (see previous note) suggests, instead of παντπασιν, πντα πσιν.

19 Cic. Ad Q. fr. I 1.10: ‘quamquam legatos habes eos qui ipsi per se habituri sint rationem dignitatis tuae. de quibus honore et dignitate et aetate praestat Tubero, quern ego arbitror, praesertim cum scribat historiam, multos ex suis annalibus posse deligere quos velit et possit imitari.’ The mention of Tubero's age can be best explained by the fact that the office of legate was the normal beginning of the cursus honorum. We do not know Tubero's birth date, but if we take him to be contemporary with or not much younger than Cicero, he would have taken up the position in his maturity. J. Glucker op. cit., p. 117 and n. 87 gives a future sense to μετιντι because he wants to date Aenesidemus' writing to a period in which Philo was active in the Academy. So too Barnes, J., ‘Antiochus of Ascalon’Google Scholar, Appendix C, in Griffin, M. and Barnes, J. (eds), Philosophia Togata (Oxford, 1989), 5196, pp. 93–4Google Scholar, who, though not committing himself to the ‘physical’ presence of Philo when Aenesidemus and Tubero had frequented the Academy, takes Philo to have been Aenesidemus' specific target.

20 On this, cf. F. Decleva, Caizzi, Pirrone. Testimonianze (Naples, 1981)Google Scholar, commentary on T 69.

21 For Photius' method of citation, cf. Thomas, Hägg, Photios als Vermittler antiker Literatur. Untersuchungen zu Technik des Referierens und Exzerpierens in der Bibliotheke (Uppsala, 1975)Google Scholar, and especially the remarks of J. Schamp, op. cit.

22 Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum. Codicum Parisinorum, VIII (4), descripsit Boudreaux, P., edidit appendice suppleta Franciscus Cumont (Brussels, 1921), p. 230Google Scholar, line 26: ὅτι χαρουσιν οἱ στρες ν γαθοποιν κα συναιρεσιωτν τποις, ὥσπερ κα ἰδιοτοποντες· ττε γρ κα οἱ ϕθοροποιο γαθνονται. On Sarapion, cf. ibid. p. 225.

23 Cf. LSJ, s.v.: ‘Members of the same faction of planets’, and Cat. Cod. Astr. VII.215.10–11; 216.26; 218.13; 220.26.

24 Cf. Philostorgius, , Kirchengeschichte, mit dem Leben des Lucian von Antiochien und den Fragmenten eines Arianischen Historiographen2, ed. Bidez, J., revised by Winkelmann, F. (Berlin, 1972), pp. 19.11Google Scholar; 60.16; 65.34; 69.13; 131.4. Photius also uses the term in Amphil. 154.19 (Westerink), in reference to Theodosius of Ephesus, the friend of Marcion, and in reference to the Arian Asterius. Independently of these instances, the term appears to refer to ‘heretics’ in Hippol. Haer. 9.23. Apart from Photius, none of the Christian writers included in the TLG uses the word (as not all such authors are included there as yet, the datum must be regarded as only provisional).

25 Cf. J. Bidez, op. cit. (n. 24), introd.; id., ‘L'Historien Philostorge’, in Mélanges d'histoire offerts à H. Pirenne (Brussels, 1926), i.2330Google Scholar; Zecchini, G., ‘Filostorgio’, in Garzya, A. (ed.), Metodologie delta ricerca sulla tarda antichità (Naples, 1989), 579–98.Google Scholar

26 The convergence of all these factors is a strong ground for interpreting the compound differently from the more common συμπολτης in cod. 158, 100b24 (τν δ τταρτον Ἰουλιανῷ τινι συμπολτῃ κα ϕλῳ προσϕωνεῖ), where the only possible reference is the author of the work.

27 The use of the indefinite accompanying the name of one to whom a work was dedicated is frequent in Photius, cf. 83b25; 87b6; 100a6; 100b24; 100b31; 101a2; 146b9.

28 For this reason, Tarrant, , Scepticism or Platonism? (Cambridge, 1985), p. 60Google Scholar appears doubly mistaken: not only does he call Tubero a fellow Academic of Aenesidemus, he also discusses what Aenesidemus meant by αἵρεσις.

29 This conforms to a pattern which Janáček has noted (see note 1). In particular, the way in which Photius sets out the book's πρθεσις is an ironical indication of its self-contradictoriness: βεβαισαι ὅτι οὐδν ββαιον.

30 Cfr. also 170b17–18: προβλλεται … τς … λαβς. The same term is applied to Aenesidemus in SE, M 9.218.

31 Ziegler, RE xx s.v. ‘Photius’, col. 672ff., esp. 674, on dialectic (cf. e.g. Amphil. 77.3ff.: ζτηται μν μῖν πολλκις περ τν γενν τε κα εἰδν ὑπθεσις·, κα δικρισις τν πλαι μϕισβητημτων κτλ.; see SE, PH 2.219ff.). One should not be surprised at the fact that Photius, though negative in his attitude to Plato and to the theory of Forms in particular, should invoke him here against scepticism. Cf. next note, and Paul, Lemerle, Le premier humanisme byzantin (Paris, 1971), p. 201.Google Scholar

32 The topicality of this type of judgement in late antiquity can also be seen in a passage by Philoponus, , In Arist. Cat. prooem., p. 2.7ffGoogle Scholar. Busse (cf. also Elias, , In Arist. Cat. prooem., p. 109.24ff.)Google Scholar, where Plato is similarly invoked against the ‘Sceptics’.

33 Instances in the Bibliotheca of a report of the same work repeated at a distance are not lacking; this is not a mark of carelessness, as Schamp (op. cit., chh. VII and VIII) has shown. In the light of my general argument, it deserves close attention from those who seek to reconstruct Photius' method of work. Apart from the fact that the diverging chapter headings (100/50) seem to indicate that we are dealing with two different editions (cf. Schamp, p. 98), it is noteworthy that the comment at the end of cod. 211 alludes only to the book's dialectical value (like that of Aenesidemus' work which directly follows), while the one in cod. 185 also considers the medical aspect of the book.

34 Op. cit. (n. 7), p. 335.

35 Op. cit., p. 237 n. 7.

36 RE s.v. (no. 124), col. 975; cf. Zeller, op. cit., V/3, 7.

37 It is noteworthy that D.L. 9.106 mentions Zeuxis, the author of a work περ διττν λγων, as a ‘friend’ of Aenesidemus.

38 Although Henry, the editor of Photius, translates Αἰγες in reference to Dionysius by at ‘d'Egée’ and ξ Αἰγν in reference to Aenesidemus by ‘d'Aegé’, the same city would be meant. The inhabitants of Αἰγα in Mysia are called Αἰγεῖς in Xenoph. Hell. 4.8.5 (codd.); the orthography of the names of these cities and their inhabitants oscillates (as we have seen).

39 This is important because even recently it has been used as a significant factor for reconstructing the first-century b.c. Academy (cf. Tarrant, op. cit., pp. 34–5, 60) and has played a role in the debate on Aenesidemus' so-called Heracliteanism. It is enough to mention Rist, J., ‘The Heraclitism of Aenesidemus’, Phoenix 24 (1970), 309–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar and, recently, Woodruff, P., ‘Aporetic Pyrrhonism’, OSAP 6 (1988), 139–68, esp. pp. 164ffGoogle Scholar. The reconstruction by Barnes, ot art. cit., pp. 93–4, presumes a joint stay by Tubero and Aenesidemus in the Academy after the liberation of Athens in 86. This line seems to require far more assumptions than are implied by the path I propose to explore.

40 Sextus' third option – that Plato devoted part of his own work to the exposition of doctrines (e.g. by making Socrates or Timaeus his spokesmen) and part to exposing aporiai for the sake of research (a category which would include the dialogues which are playful or ironical) – fits the division of the dialogues elucidated by D.L. 3.49. Diogenes, however, does not connect such a division with the topic of Plato's scepticism or non–scepticism, a topic which is introduced instead in the next paragraph as a new subject. This probably explains Sextus' observation that those who see in Plato two types of philosopher, dogmatic and aporetic, do not mean by this to assimilate him to scepticism (αὐτο γρ μολογοσι τν πρς μς διαϕορν).

41 εἰλικρινς. The term is not as strong an indication of Platonic influence as Woodruff seems to suppose (art. cit., p. 168). The adjective and adverb, which occur particularly in the ten Modes, are very frequent in medical literature.

42 The use of the present makes one think of a work the plan of which was contemporary with, or at least close to, PH, and in any case not later. Cf. similarly M 2.106.

43 There is no doubt that στσις here does not mean ‘disagreement’ but ‘opinion’. Cf. PH 2.48; 3.33, 37 and below.

44 κατ ‹τν› περ Μηνδοτον κα Αἰνηοδημον Mutschmann–Mau (1958); in app.: κατ ‹τοὺς› περ Μηνδοτον Natorp: κατ περμδοτον GT (secundum permindotum): κατ Μηνδοτον Fabr.: κατ Ἡρδοτον Pappenheim. In the first edition (1912) Mutschmann accepted Natorp's proposal.

45 Op. cit., p. 266 n. 2, who observes that Pappenheim's correction is ‘paläographisch gleichberechtigt’ and the only acceptable one.

46 Op. cit. iii.6 n. 2.

47 Deichgräber's starting point for introducing the name of Herodotus was the difficulty of understanding how a medical Empiricist such as Menodotus could ever have supported a viewpoint whose final result is the connection between Scepticism and Methodist medicine, while Herodotus and Aenesidemus, both philosophers only, could have adopted the position described by Sextus (following in the footsteps of Mnaseas, a Sceptic and Methodist). But this assumes (1) a distinction between doctors and philosophers which is not easy to draw and (2) that Sextus had to follow his sources to the letter. The falsity of the latter assumption is shown by the fact that when he discusses Methodist medicine Sextus uses the first person. To this should be added that Sextus may address different opponents in this chapter: empirical doctors like Theodosius or Menodotus could hold different opinions on relevant points.

48 Heintz, W., Studien zu Sextus Empiricus (Halle, 1922), pp. 30ff.Google Scholar

49 Cf. Kühner–Gerth, , Grammatik der griechischen Sprache II/1, p. 646.Google Scholar

50 Forschungen zur Geschichte der Erkenntnisproblems im Altertum (Berlin, 1884; repr. 1965), pp. 69ffGoogle Scholar. The foundation of Natorp's position was what we read of Aenesidemus in Photius, together with a reconstruction of the parallels between the material in Aenesidemus' first book and Sextus' chapter on the Academy. Recently Natorp's proposal has been defended by Burkhard, U., Die angebliche Heraklit-Nachfolge des skeptikers Aenesidem (Bonn, 1973), pp. 21ff.Google Scholar

51 This is a question which cannot be answered satisfactorily by those who ask themselves about Aenesidemus' Academic education and who investigate ‘which Plato’ he could reasonably have appealed to, not in order to recognize in him the presence of sceptical traces (something easy enough to do), but to make of him a ‘pure Sceptic’. In fact, as Gisela Striker has rightly pointed out to me, an ancestor like Plato, just because of his extraordinary cultural importance, would have been extremely inconvenient for anyone who appealed at the same time to another xsfounder.

52 Op. cit., p. 116 n. 64.

53 Cf. D.L. 9.110 and, among the followers of Timon, Praylus of the Troad, mentioned in 9.115.

54 D.L. 9.106: κα Αἰνεσδημος ν τῷ πρώτῳ τν Πνρρωνεων λγων οὐδν ϕηοιν ρζειν τν Πρρωνα δογματικς δι τν ντιλογαν, τοῖς δ ϕαινομνοις κολουθεῖν. See my Pirrone (op. cit., n. 20), commentary on T 6–9.

55 Cf. D.L. 1.20; Aristocles, ap. Eus. PE 14.18; SE, PH 1.16–17.

56 Cf. D.L. 9.109, already quoted (n. 6), where it is said that Timon caused his son Xanthus to study medicine.

57 Cf. Acad. 2.4.11; in the light of the present reconstruction, it is clear why it is implausible to correct Heraclides, the teacher of Aenesidemus in D.L.'s succession of Pyrrhonists (see above), to Heraclitus of Tyre – as proposed by Pappenheim, op. cit. (n. 8).

58 Aul. Gell. NA 11.5.6.

My thanks to Fabrizio Conca and the Editors or help and advice on this article, and to Tony Long for translating it into English.

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