Online Encyclopedia

PHAEDO

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 341 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PHAEDO, Greek philosopher, founder of the Elian school, was a native of Elis, born in the last years of the 5th century B.C. In the war of 401—400 between Sparta and Elis he was taken prisoner and became a slave in Athens, where his beauty brought him notoriety. He became a pupil of Socrates, who conceived a warm affection for him. It appears that he was intimate with Cebes and Plato, and he gave his name to one of Plato's dialogues. Athenaeus relates, however, that he resolutely declined responsibility for any of the views with which Plato credits him, and that the relations between him and Plato were the reverse of friendly. Aeschines also wrote a dialogue called Phaedo. Shortly after the death of Socrates Phaedo returned to Elis, where his disciples included Anchipylus, Moschus and Pleistanus, who succeeded him. Subsequently Menedemus and Asclepiades transferred the school to Eretria, where it was known as the Eretrian school and is frequently identified (e.g. by Cicero) with the Megarians. The doctrines of Phaedo are not known, nor is it possible to infer them from the Platonic dialogue. His writings, none of which are preserved, were in the form of dialogues. As to their authenticity nothing is known, in spite of an attempt at selection by Panaetius (Diog. Laert. ii. 64), who maintains that the Zopyrus and the Simon are genuine. Seneca has preserved one of his dicta (Epist. 94. 41), namely that one method of acquiring virtue is to frequent the society of good men. See Wilamowitz, Hermes, xiv. 189 seq.
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