Polemon (scholarch)

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Polemon, depicted as a medieval scholar in the Nuremberg Chronicle Nuremberg chronicles - f 081r 2.png
Polemon, depicted as a medieval scholar in the Nuremberg Chronicle

Polemon (Greek : Πολέμων, gen.: Πολέμωνος; d. 270/269 BC) of Athens was an eminent Platonist philosopher and Plato's third successor as scholarch (i.e., head of the Academy) from 314/313 to 270/269 BC. A pupil of Xenocrates, he believed that philosophy should be practiced rather than just studied, and he placed the highest good in living according to nature.

Greek language language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Athens Capital and largest city of Greece

Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning over 3,400 years and its earliest human presence starting somewhere between the 11th and 7th millennium BC.

Plato Classical Greek philosopher

Plato was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought, and the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world.



Polemon was the son of Philostratus, a man of wealth and political distinction. In his youth, he was relatively irresponsible, but one day, when he was about thirty, on his bursting into the school of Xenocrates, at the head of a band of revelers, his attention was drawn to the sayings of Xenocrates, who continued on calmly in spite of the interruption; it just so happened that Xenocrates was discussing temperance. Polemon immediately tore off his garland and remained an attentive listener, and from that day he adopted a modest and n restrained course of life, and continued to frequent the school. On the death of Xenocrates, he even became the scholarch, in 315 BC. [1]

Xenocrates Ancient greek philosopher

Xenocrates of Chalcedon was a Greek philosopher, mathematician, and leader (scholarch) of the Platonic Academy from 339/8 to 314/3 BC. His teachings followed those of Plato, which he attempted to define more closely, often with mathematical elements. He distinguished three forms of being: the sensible, the intelligible, and a third compounded of the two, to which correspond respectively, sense, intellect and opinion. He considered unity and duality to be gods which rule the universe, and the soul a self-moving number. God pervades all things, and there are daemonical powers, intermediate between the divine and the mortal, which consist in conditions of the soul. He held that mathematical objects and the Platonic Ideas are identical, unlike Plato who distinguished them. In ethics, he taught that virtue produces happiness, but external goods can minister to it and enable it to effect its purpose.

Scholarch head of a philosophic school

A scholarch was the head of a school in ancient Greece. The term is especially remembered for its use to mean the heads of schools of philosophy, such as the Platonic Academy in ancient Athens. Its first scholarch was Plato himself, the founder and proprietor. He held the position for forty years, appointing his nephew Speussipus as his successor; later scholarchs were elected by members of the Academy.

His disciples included Crates of Athens, who was his eromenos, [2] and Crantor, [3] as well as Zeno of Citium [4] and Arcesilaus. [5] According to Eusebius ( Chron. ) he died in 270/269 BC (or possibly, as in some manuscripts, 276/275 BC). Diogenes Laërtius says that he died at a great age, and of natural decay. [6] Crates was his successor in the Academy. [7]

Crates of Athens Greek philosopher

Crates of Athens was a Greek philosopher.

Crantor was a Greek philosopher, of the Old Academy, probably born around the middle of the 4th century BC, at Soli in Cilicia.

Zeno of Citium Ancient Greek Stoic philosopher

Zeno of Citium was a Hellenistic thinker, of Phoenician descent, from Citium, Cyprus. Zeno was the founder of the Stoic school of philosophy, which he taught in Athens from about 300 BC. Based on the moral ideas of the Cynics, Stoicism laid great emphasis on goodness and peace of mind gained from living a life of Virtue in accordance with Nature. It proved very popular, and flourished as one of the major schools of philosophy from the Hellenistic period through to the Roman era.


Diogenes reports that he was a close follower of Xenocrates in all things. [8] He esteemed the object of philosophy to be to exercise people in things and deeds, not in dialectic speculations; [9] his character was grave and severe; [8] and he took pride in displaying the mastery which he had acquired over emotions of every sort. In literature he most admired Homer and Sophocles, and he is said to have been the author of the remark, that Homer is an epic Sophocles, and Sophocles a tragic Homer. [6]

Philosophy intellectual and/or logical study of general and fundamental problems

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

Dialectic or dialectics, also known as the dialectical method, is at base a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned arguments. Dialectic resembles debate, but the concept excludes subjective elements such as emotional appeal and the modern pejorative sense of rhetoric. Dialectic may be contrasted with the didactic method, wherein one side of the conversation teaches the other. Dialectic is alternatively known as minor logic, as opposed to major logic or critique.

Homer name ascribed by the ancient Greeks to the legendary author of the Iliad and the Odyssey

Homer is the legendary author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, two epic poems that are the central works of ancient Greek literature. The Iliad is set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek kingdoms. It focuses on a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles lasting a few weeks during the last year of the war. The Odyssey focuses on the ten-year journey home of Odysseus, king of Ithaca, after the fall of Troy. Many accounts of Homer's life circulated in classical antiquity, the most widespread being that he was a blind bard from Ionia, a region of central coastal Anatolia in present-day Turkey. Modern scholars consider these accounts legendary.


According to Diogenes Laërtius, Polemon wrote several treatises, of which none were extant when the Suda was compiled. There is, however, a quotation made by Clement of Alexandria, either from Polemon or from another philosopher of the same name, "in Concerning the Life in Accordance with Nature" (Greek : ἐν τοῖς περὶ τοῦ κατὰ φύσιν βίου), [10] and another passage, [11] upon happiness, which agrees precisely with the statement of Cicero, [12] that Polemon placed the summum bonum (highest good) in living according to the laws of nature.

<i>Suda</i> literary work

The Suda or Souda is a large 10th-century Byzantine encyclopedia of the ancient Mediterranean world, formerly attributed to an author called Soudas (Σούδας) or Souidas (Σουίδας). It is an encyclopedic lexicon, written in Greek, with 30,000 entries, many drawing from ancient sources that have since been lost, and often derived from medieval Christian compilers. The derivation is probably from the Byzantine Greek word souda, meaning "fortress" or "stronghold", with the alternate name, Suidas, stemming from an error made by Eustathius, who mistook the title for the author's name.

Clement of Alexandria Christian theologian

Titus Flavius Clemens, also known as Clement of Alexandria, was a Christian theologian who taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria. A convert to Christianity, he was an educated man who was familiar with classical Greek philosophy and literature. As his three major works demonstrate, Clement was influenced by Hellenistic philosophy to a greater extent than any other Christian thinker of his time, and in particular by Plato and the Stoics. His secret works, which exist only in fragments, suggest that he was also familiar with pre-Christian Jewish esotericism and Gnosticism. In one of his works he argued that Greek philosophy had its origin among non-Greeks, claiming that both Plato and Pythagoras were taught by Egyptian scholars. Among his pupils were Origen and Alexander of Jerusalem.

Cicero 1st-century BC Roman philosopher and statesman

Marcus Tullius Cicero was a Roman statesman, orator, lawyer and philosopher, who served as consul in the year 63 BC. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the Roman equestrian order, and is considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.


  1. Laërtius 1925, § 16.
  2. Laërtius 1925, § 21, 22.
  3. Laërtius 1925, § 17, 22.
  4. Laërtius 1925b, § 2, 25.
  5. Laërtius 1925, 22, 24.
  6. 1 2 Laërtius 1925, § 20.
  7. Laërtius 1925, § 21.
  8. 1 2 Laërtius 1925, § 19.
  9. Laërtius 1925, § 18.
  10. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, vii. p. 117
  11. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, ii. p. 410
  12. Cicero, de Finibus, iv. 6


<i>Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers</i> book by Diogenes Laërtius

Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers is a biography of the Greek philosophers by Diogenes Laërtius, written in Greek, perhaps in the first half of the third century AD.

Gilles Ménage French scholar

Gilles Ménage was a French scholar.

Diogenes Laërtius late antique biographer of classical Greek philosophers

Diogenes Laërtius was a biographer of the Greek philosophers. Nothing is definitively known about his life, but his surviving Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers is a principal source for the history of ancient Greek philosophy. His reputation is controversial among scholars because he often repeats information from his sources without critically evaluating it. He also frequently focuses on trivial or insignificant details of his subjects' lives while ignoring important details of their philosophical teachings and he sometimes fails to distinguish between earlier and later teachings of specific philosophical schools. However, unlike many other ancient secondary sources, Diogenes Laërtius generally reports philosophical teachings without attempting to reinterpret or expand on them, which means his accounts are often closer to the primary sources. Due to the loss of so many of the primary sources on which Diogenes relied, his work has become the foremost surviving source on the history of Greek philosophy.


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