Diogenes Laertius wrote a history of Greek philosophers and philosophy in ten books. Because of the quality of the information on the school Diogenes is thought to have been an Epicurean. Besides philosophy, his anecdotes tell us something about Greek customs and the non-Greeks (barbarians).
He writes about the following philosophers:
- Book I:
Thales, Solon, Chilo, Pittacus, Bias, Cleobulus, Anacharsis the Scythian, Myson, Epimenides, Pherecydes,
- Book II:
Anaximander, Anaximenes, Archelaus, Socrates, Xenophon, Aeschines, Aristippus, Phoedo, Euclides, Stilpo, Crito, Simon, Glauco, Simias, Cebes, Menedemus,
- Book III:
- Book IV:
Speusippus, Xenocrates, Polemo, Crates, Crantor, Arcesilaus, Bion, Lacydes, Carneades, Clitomachus,
- Book V:
Aristotle, Theophrastus, Strato, Lycon, Demetrius, Heraclides,
- Book VI:
Antisthenes, Diogenes, Monimus, Onesicritus, Metrocles, Hipparchia, Menippus, Menedemus,
- Book VII:
Zeno, Ariston, Herillus, Dionysius, Cleanthus, Sphaerus, Chrysippus,
- Book VIII:
Pythagoras, Empedocles, Epicharmus, Archytas, Alcmaeon, Hippasus, Philolaus, Eudoxus,
- Book IX:
Heraclitus, Xenophanes, Parmenides, Melissus, Zeno the Eleatic, Leucippus, Democritus, Protagoras, Diogenes of Apollonia, Anaxarchus, Pyrrho, Timon, and
- Book X:
In his introduction, Diogenes Laertius says some believe peoples other than the Greeks developed philosophy. He says the Persians had the magi (the first of whom was Zoroaster), the Babylonians and Assyrians had Chaldaeans, the Indians had gymnosophists, and the Celts had druids. He adds that the Egyptians believed that the son of Nilus, Vulcan, was the creator of philosophy. Diogenes, however, believes the Greeks created philosophy, as well as the human race.
"I. Some say that the study of philosophy originated with the barbarians. In that among the Persians there existed the Magi, and among the Babylonians or Assyrians the Chaldaei, among the Indians the Gymnosophistae, and among the Celts and Gauls men who were called Druids and Semnothei, as Aristotle relates in his book on Magic, and Sotion in the twenty-third book of his Succession of Philosophers. Besides those men there were the Phoenician Ochus, the Thracian Zamolxis, and the Libyan Atlas. ...
III. But those who say this, ignorantly impute to the barbarians the merits of the Greeks, from whom not only all philosophy, but even the whole human race in reality originated. For Musaeus was born among the Athenians, and Linus among the Thebans; and they say that the former, who was the son of Eumolpus, was the first person who taught the system of the genealogy of the gods, and who invented the spheres; and that he taught that all things originated in one thing, and when dissolved returned to that same thing; and that he died at Phalerum, and that this epitaph was inscribed on his tomb: -
Phalerum's soil beneath this tomb contains
Musseus dead, Eumolpus' darling son.
And it is from the father of Musaeus that the family called Eumolpidae among the Athenians derive their name. They say too that Linus was the son of Mercury and the Muse Urania; and that he invented a system of Cosmogony, and of the motions of the sun and moon, and of the generation of animals and fruits; and the following is the beginning of his poem,
There was a time when all the present world
Uprose at once.
From which Anaxagoras derived his theory, when he said that nature, and the little world of man is perpetually shaken by vice and misfortune."