The Missing Stoics in Diogenes Laertius

Summary of the original table of contents of Book VII from Diogenes Laertius’ Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, showing the names of the most eminent philosophers of the Stoic school, from Zeno down to Cornutus.

The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laertius, written at the start of the 3rd century AD, is one of our main sources for information about ancient Stoicism.  Book VII, on the Stoic school, is very useful.  However, many people may be unaware that the surviving manuscripts are incomplete.  It cuts off during the life of Chrysippus for some reason.  We know from a table of contents in one of the manuscripts, though, that it should continue with chapters on many subsequent Stoics.

Here is a full list of the eminent Stoic philosophers whose lives and opinions Diogenes considered important enough to include.  Below the list is a Google Map showing the approximate location of each Stoic’s birthplace.

  1. Zeno of Citium – Founder and first scholarch
  2. Aristo [of Chios] – Labelled “heterodox” by Diogenes Laertius
  3. Herillus – Labelled “heterodox” by Diogenes Laertius
  4. Dionysius – Seceded from school to join the Cyrenaics
  5. Cleanthes – Second scholarch
  6. Sphaerus
  7. Chrysippus -Third scholarch, with whom the surviving manuscripts end…

  1. Zeno of Tarsus
  2. Diogenes [of Babylon] – Fourth scholarch
  3. Apollodorus [of Seleucia]
  4. Boethus [of Sidon]
  5. Mnesarchides
  6. Mnasagoras
  7. Nestor
  8. Basilides
  9. Dardanus [of Athens]
  10. Antipater [of Tarsus] – Fifth scholarch
  11. Heraclides [of Tarsus]
  12. Sosigenes
  13. Panaetius – Sixth scholarch, founder of The Middle Stoa
  14. Hecato [of Rhodes]
  15. Posidonius – Head of the school in Rhodes
  16. Athenodorus [Cordylion]
  17. Athenodorus [Cananites]
  18. Antipater [of Tyre]
  19. Arius [Didymus]
  20. Cornutus – Fl. in reign of Nero, c. 60 AD

Notable Omissions

Cato the Younger is not listed here and neither is Seneca, though he was a contemporary of Cornutus.  Seneca was executed in 65 AD, whereas it’s believed Cornutus was still alive and exiled in either 66 or 68 AD.  Musonius Rufus, Epictetus, and other Stoics who come later are also missing but that possibly has something to do with the fact that one of Diogenes’ main sources is Arius Didymus, who was a contemporary of the Emperor Augustus and therefore died before their time.  (It’s therefore interesting that Cornutus is included.)

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