Lives of the Eminent Philosophers

Lives of the Eminent Philosophers

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Everyone wants to live a meaningful life. But long before our own day of self-help books offering twelve-step programs to attain happiness, the philosophers of ancient Greece explored the riddle of what makes a life worth living, producing a wide variety of ideas and examples to follow. This tradition was recast by Diogenes Laertius into an anthology, a grab bag of maxims and anecdotes that generations of Western readers have happily consulted for entertainment as well as edification, ever since the Lives of the Eminent Philosophers, first compiled in the third century AD, came to prominence in Renaissance Italy. To this day, it remains a crucial source for much what we know about the origins of philosophy in Greece, covering a larger number of figures and a longer period of time than any other ancient source. This new edition of the Lives of the Eminent Philosophers, in a faithful and fluent translation by Pamela Mensch, is the first rendering of the complete text into English in nearly a century. Lavishly illustrated with a vast array of images that attest to the profound impact of Diogenes on the Western imagination, this edition also includes detailed notes, maps, and a variety of newly commissioned essays by James Allen, Anthony Grafton, Ingrid Rowland, and others that shed light on the Lives' historical and intellectual contexts as well as its rich legacy. The result is an ample source of ancient inspiration and instruction.