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:

  1. Zeno of Citium – Founder and first scholarch
  2. Aristo [of Chios] – Seceded from school
  3. Herillus – Seceded from school
  4. Dionysius – Seceded from school
  5. Cleanthes – Second scholarch
  6. Sphaerus
  7. Chrysippus -Third scholarch, with whom the surviving manuscripts end…
  8. Zeno of Tarsus
  9. Diogenes [of Babylon] – Fourth scholarch
  10. Apollodorus [of Seleucia]
  11. Boethus [of Sidon]
  12. Mnesarchides
  13. Mnasagoras
  14. Nestor
  15. Basilides
  16. Dardanus [of Athens]
  17. Antipater [of Tarsus] – Fifth scholarch
  18. Heraclides [of Tarsus]
  19. Sosigenes
  20. Panaetius – Sixth scholarch, founder of The Middle Stoa
  21. Hecato [of Rhodes]
  22. Posidonius – Head of the school in Rhodes
  23. Athenodorus [Cordylion]
  24. Athenodorus [Cananites]
  25. Antipater [of Tyre]
  26. Arius [Didymus]
  27. 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 possibly only because Diogenes’ main source is Arius Didymus, who died around the same time as Cornutus and Seneca.

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