World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0001219317
Reproduction Date:

Title: Stilpo  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Euclid of Megara, Zeno of Citium, Menedemus, Simmias of Syracuse, Aristotle of Cyrene
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Stilpo of Megara
Stilpo, depicted as a medieval scholar in the Nuremberg Chronicle, where he is called "Silphon".[1]
Born c. 360 BC
Died c. 280 BC
Era Ancient philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Megarian school
Main interests
Logic, Dialectic, Ethics

Stilpo (or Stilpon; Greek: Στίλπων, gen.: Στίλπωνος; c. 360 – c. 280 BC[2]) was a Greek philosopher of the Megarian school. He was a contemporary of Theophrastus, Diodorus Cronus, and Crates of Thebes. None of his writings survive, he was interested in logic and dialectic, and he argued that the universal is fundamentally separated from the individual and concrete. His ethical teachings approached that of the Cynics and Stoics. His most important pupil was Zeno of Citium, the founder of Stoicism.


  • Life 1
  • Philosophy 2
    • Logic 2.1
    • Ethics 2.2
  • References 3
  • Sources 4
  • External links 5


He was a native of Megara. He probably lived after the time of Euclid of Megara, which makes it unlikely that he was a pupil of Euclid, as stated by some;[3] and others state that he was the pupil of Thrasymachus of Corinth,[4] or of Pasicles, the brother of Crates of Thebes.[5] According to one account, he engaged in dialectic encounters with Diodorus Cronus at the court of Ptolemy Soter; according to another, he did not comply with the invitation of the king, to go to Alexandria. We are further told that Demetrius, the son of Antigonus, honoured him no less, spared his house at the capture of Megara, and offered him indemnity for the injury which it had received, which, however, Stilpo declined.[6] Uniting elevated sentiment with gentleness and patience, he, as Plutarch says,[7] was an ornament to his country and friends, and had his acquaintance sought by kings. His original propensity to wine and voluptuousness he is said to have entirely overcome;[8] in inventive power and dialectic art to have surpassed his contemporaries, and to have inspired almost all Greece with a devotion to Megarian philosophy. A number of distinguished men too are named, whom he is said to have drawn away from Theophrastus, Aristotle of Cyrene, and others, and attached to himself;[9] among others Crates the Cynic, and Zeno, the founder of the Stoic school.[4] Among his followers were Menedemus and Asclepiades, the leaders of the Eretrian school of philosophy. One of his pupils, Nicarete, was also said to have been his mistress.[10] Stilpo was praised for his political wisdom, his simple, straightforward disposition, and the equanimity with which he tolerated his rebellious daughter.[11] Cicero relates that Stilpo's friends had described him as "vehemently addicted to wine and women",[12] but that his philosophy eliminated his inclinations.[13]


Of the dialogues ascribed to him, we know only the titles. He belonged to the Megarian school of philosophy, but we learn only a little about his doctrines in the few fragments and sayings of his which are quoted.


Stilpo argued that the genus, the universal, is not contained in the individual and concrete. "Whoever speaks of any person, speaks of no-one, for he neither speaks of this one nor that. For why should it rather be of this one than that? Hence it is not of this one."[14] One of his examples was that "the vegetable is not what is here shown. For a vegetable existed ten thousand years ago, therefore this here is not a vegetable."[14] According to Simplicius, "the so-called Megarians took it as ascertained that what has different determinations is different, and that the diverse are separated one from the other, they seemed to prove that each thing is separated from itself. Hence since the musical Socrates is another determination from the wise Socrates, Socrates was separated from himself."[15]

Thus one thing cannot be predicated of another, that is, the essence of things cannot be reached by means of predicates. Plutarch quotes Stilpo as arguing:

To be a horse differs from to be running. For being asked the definition of the one and of the other, we do not give the same for them both; and therefore those err who predicate the one of the other. For if good is the same with people, and to run the same with a horse, how is good affirmed also of food and medicine, and again (by Jupiter) to run of a lion and a dog? But if the predicate is different, then we do not rightly say that a person is good, and a horse runs.[16]

Plutarch remarks here that Colotes attacked Stilpo in a bombastic manner as though he ignored common life: "for how shall we live, if we cannot style a man good, nor a man a captain, but must separately name a man a man, good good, and a captain a captain." But Plutarch, in turn, replied, "but what man lived any the worse for this? Is there any man who hears this said, and who does not understand it to be the speech of a man who rallies gallantly, and proposes to others this logical question to exercise their mind?"


Stilpo seems to have been interested in Virtue,[17] and its self-sufficiency. He maintained that the wise man ought not only to overcome every evil, but not even to be affected by any, not even to feel it,[18] showing, perhaps, how closely allied Stilpo was to the contemporary Cynics:

For Stilpo, after his country was captured and his children and his wife lost, as he emerged from the general desolation alone and yet happy, spoke as follows to Demetrius, called Sacker of Cities because of the destruction he brought upon them, in answer to the question whether he had lost anything: "I have all my goods with me!"
— Seneca, , 9.18Epistles.

This story was an inspiration for Friedrich Klinger's Sturm und Drang play Stilpo und seine Kinder (Stilpo and his Children) written in 1777 and published in 1780.[19]

A one-page fragment or paraphrase from a work concerning exile is preserved in the writings of Teles of Megara, a 3rd-century BC Cynic. In this fragment, Stilpo divides the good into three parts: goods of the soul, goods of the body, and external goods. He then demonstrates that exile does not deprive a person of any of these three goods.[20]


  1. ^ Die Schedelsche Weltchronik, 083
  2. ^ Tiziano Dorandi, Chapter 2: Chronology, in Algra et al. (1999) The Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy, page 52. Cambridge.
  3. ^ Diogenes Laërtius, ii. 113; Suda, Stilpo
  4. ^ a b Diogenes Laërtius, ii. 113
  5. ^ Suda, Stilpo; cf. Diogenes Laërtius, vi. 89
  6. ^ Diogenes Laërtius, ii. 115; Plutarch, Demetr. c. 9, etc.
  7. ^ Plutarch, Colot. c. 22
  8. ^ Cicero, de Fato, c. 5
  9. ^ Diogenes Laërtius, ii. 113, comp. 119, 120
  10. ^ Athenaeus, xiii. 596e; Diogenes Laërtius, ii. 114
  11. ^ Diogenes Laërtius, ii. 114; comp. Plutarch, de tranqu. animi, c. 6
  12. ^ Cicero, Marcus Tullius. Trans. C.D. Yonge pg. 268. London G. Bell, 1878. Web.The treatises of M.T. Cicero: On the nature of the gods; On divination; On fate; On the republic; On the laws; and On standing for the consulship.
  13. ^ Cicero, De Fato, 5
  14. ^ a b Diogenes Laërtius, ii. 119
  15. ^ Simplicius, in Phys. Ausc. f. 26, quoted in Hegel (1805) Lectures on the History of Philosophy, "The Philosophy of the Socratics"
  16. ^ Plutarch, adv. Colot. 22, 23
  17. ^ Diogenes Laërtius, ii. 118
  18. ^ Seneca, Epistles, ix. 1, 18; comp. Plutarch de Tranqu. animi, 6, Diogenes Laërtius, ii. 114
  19. ^ Mary Garland, (1997), The Oxford companion to German literature, page 470. Oxford University Press
  20. ^ Teles, Discourse 3, "On Exile", in Edward O'Neil, (1977), Teles the Cynic Teacher, page 21. Scholars Press


External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.