Theophrastus

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When we are beginning to live, then we are dying. There is, therefore, nothing more profitless than ambition.

Theophrastus (c. 370 BC – c. 286 BC) was a Greek ethical, metaphysical and natural philosopher. He was a follower of Aristotle, and succeeded him as head of the Peripatetic school.

Quotes[edit]

  • The Unseasonable man is one who will go up to a busy person, and open his heart to him. He will serenade his mistress when she has a fever. He will address himself to a man who has been cast in a surety-suit, and request him to become his security. He will come to give evidence when the trial is over.
    • Characters, ch. 9 (12); translation from R. C. Jebb and J. E. Sandys (trans.), The Characters of Theophrastus (London: Macmillan, 1909), p. 75.
  • Superstition would seem to be simply cowardice in regard to the supernatural.
    • Characters, ch. 28 (16); translation from R. C. Jebb and J. E. Sandys (trans.), The Characters of Theophrastus (London: Macmillan, 1909), p. 139.
  • Εἰ μὲν ἀμαθὴς εἶ, φρονίμως ποιεῖς, εἰ δὲ πεπαίδευσαι, ἀφρόνως.
    • If you are an ignorant man, you are acting wisely; but if you have had any education, you are behaving like a fool.
    • Quoted by Diogenes Laërtius; translation from C. D. Yonge (trans.), The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers (London: H. G. Bohn, 1853), p. 196.
    • Said "when a man preserved a strict silence during the whole of a banquet".
  • Ἐπισκήπτειν μὲν ἔχειν οὐδέν, πλὴν ὅτι πολλὰ τῶν ἡδέων ὁ βίος διὰ τὴν δόξαν καταλαζονεύεται. Ἡμεῖς γὰρ ὁπότ' ἀρχόμεθα ζῆν, τότ' ἀποθνῄσκομεν. Οὐδὲν οὖν ἀλυσιτελέστερόν ἐστι φιλοδοξίας.
    • Remember that life holds out many pleasing deceits to us by the vanity of glory; for that when we are beginning to live, then we are dying. There is, therefore, nothing more profitless than ambition.
    • Quoted by Diogenes Laërtius; translation from C. D. Yonge (trans.), The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers (London: H. G. Bohn, 1853), p. 196.
    • His dying words.

Quotes about Theophrastus[edit]

  • Aristotle having declaimed irreverently of the gods, and dreading the fate of Socrates, wished to retire from Athens. In a beautiful manner he pointed out his successor. There were two rivals in his schools: Menedemus the Rhodian, and Theophrastus the Lesbian. Alluding delicately to his own critical situation, he told his assembled scholars that the wine he was accustomed to drink was injurious to him, and he desired them to bring the wines of Rhodes and Lesbos. He tasted both, and declared they both did honour to their soil, each being excellent, though differing in their quality;—the Rhodian wine is the strongest, but the Lesbian is the sweetest, and that he himself preferred it. Thus his ingenuity designated his favourite Theophrastus, the author of the "Characters," for his successor.
  • Theophrastus of Eresus... wrote a book On Winds and on Weather Signs, but like most other Greek philosophers, he was hardly the man to adopt patient and exact observation in place of dogmatic assertion and the teaching of authority.

External links[edit]

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