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Stilpo (360 – c. 280 BC) was a Greek philosopher of the Megarian school.


The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, by Diogenes Laërtius[edit]

'That which is shown to me is not a vegetable, for a vegetable existed ten thousand years ago, therefore this is not a vegetable.'

He had a licentious daughter, who was married to a friend of his named Simias, a citizen of Syracuse. And as she would not live in an orderly manner, someone told Stilpo that she was a disgrace to him. But he said:
'She is not more a disgrace to me than I am an honor to her.'

They say that he once put such a question as this to a man, about the Minerva of Phidias:
'Is Minerva the Goddess the daughter of Jupiter?' And when the other said: 'Yes'—
'But this,' said he,
'is not the child of Jupiter, but of Phidias.' And when he agreed that it was so—
'This then,' he continued,
'is not a God.' And when he was brought before the Areopagus for this speech, he did not deny it, but maintained that he had spoken correctly; for that she was not a God (θεὸς) but a Goddess (θεὰ); for that Gods were of the male sex only.29 However the judges of the Areopagus ordered him to leave the city; and on this occasion, Theodorus, who was nicknamed θεὸς, said in derision, 'Whence did Stilpo learn this? and how could he tell whether she was a God or a Goddess?' But Theodorus was in truth a most impudent fellow. But Stilpo was a most witty and elegant-minded man. Accordingly when Crates asked him if the Gods delighted in adoration and prayer; they say that he answered:
'Do not ask these questions, you foolish man, in the road, but in private.'

And they say too that Bion, when he was asked whether there were any Gods, answered in the same spirit:
'Will you not first, O! miserable old man, remove the multitude?'

But Stilpo was a man of simple character, and free from all trick and humbug, and universally affable. Accordingly, when Crates the Cynic once refused to answer a question that he had put to him, and only insulted his questioner—
'I knew,' said Stilpo,
'that he would say anything rather than what he ought.'

And once he put a question to him, and offered him a fig at the same time; so he took the fig and ate it, on which Crates said: 'O Hercules, I have lost my fig.'—
'Not only that,' he replied,
'but you have lost your question too, of which the fig was the pledge.'

At Athens he attracted all the citizens to such a degree that they used to run from their workshops to look at him; and when someone said to him: 'Why, Stilpo, they wonder at you as if you were a wild beast,' he replied:
'Not so; but as a real genuine man.'

And they say that once when he was conversing with Crates, he interrupted the discourse to go off and buy some fish; and as Crates tried to drag him back, and said: 'You are leaving the argument;'—
'Not at all,' he replied.
'I keep the argument, but I am leaving you; for the argument remains, but the fish will be sold to someone else.'

When Demetrius the son of Antigonus had taken Megara, he ordered Stilpo’s house to be saved, and took care that everything that had been plundered from him should be restored to him. But when he wished Stilpo to give him in a list of all that he had lost, he said that he had lost nothing of his own; for that no one had taken from him his learning, and that he still had his eloquence and his knowledge.

He used to say that a person who spoke of man in general was speaking of nobody, for that he was not speaking of this individual nor of that one; for speaking in general, how can he speak more of this person than of that person? therefore he is not speaking of this person at all.

Quotes about[edit]

Concerning him Philippus of Megara speaks thus, word for word: 'For he carried off from Theophrastus, Metrodorus the speculative philosopher, and Timagoras of Gela; and Aristotle the Cyrenaic, he robbed of Clitarchus and Simias; and from the dialecticians’ school also he won men over, carrying off Paeoneius from Aristides, and Diphilus of the Bosphorus from Euphantus, and also Myrmex of the Venetes, who had both come to him to argue against him, but they became converts and his disciples.'