People - Ancient Greece: Cebes
Ancient Greek philosopher and disciple of Socrates
from 5th-4th century BCE.
Cebes in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities
（Κέβης). A Greek philosopher, and disciple of Socrates, and also one of the interlocutors whom Plato introduces in his dialogue entitled Phaedo. He was born at Thebes, and composed three dialogues, called Hebdomé (Ἑβδόμη), Phrynichus (Φρύνιχος), and Pinax, or the Picture (Πίναξ). The last is the only one which has come down to us. It is commonly cited by its Latin title Cebetis Tabula (i. e. picta), and is a moral sketch or picture of human life, written in a pleasing and simple style. Some critics have raised doubts as to the authenticity of this little work. It contains, indeed, a very pure vein of morality, but is not composed, as they think, in the true spirit of the Socratic school; and they are inclined, therefore, to regard it as the work of some Stoic who wished to show that happiness consisted in the practice of virtue. But it is expressly attributed to Cebes by Lucian (De Mercede Conduct. 42), and after him by Tertullian (De Praescript. adv. Haeret. 39), Diogenes Laertius (ii. 125), Chalcidius, and Suidas. Wolff was the first among the moderns who ventured to call in question this testimony of the ancients. No work of antiquity has met with a wider circulation. In the Middle Ages it was extremely popular, and it has been translated into almost all the modern languages, including even the Arabic—this version, in fact (of the ninth century A.D.), being our only source for the close of the dialogue. The best editions of Cebes are that of Schweighäuser (Strassburg, 1806); that of Thieme (Berlin, 1810), with German notes of great merit; of Jerram (Oxford, 1877); and of Parsons (Boston, 1887).
Cebes in Wikipedia
Cebes of Thebes (5th-4th century BCE) was a disciple of Socrates and Philolaus, and a friend of Simmias of Thebes. He is one of the speakers in the Phaedo of Plato, in which he is represented as an earnest seeker after virtue and truth, keen in argument and cautious in decision. Three dialogues, the Hebdome, the Phrynichus and the Pinax or Tabula, are attributed to him by the Suda and Diogenes Laërtius. The two former are lost, and most scholars deny the authenticity of the Tabula on the ground of material and verbal anachronisms.
The Tablet of Cebes
The Tablet of Cebes is probably by an anonymous author of the 1st century.
The work professes to be an interpretation of an allegorical picture of a tablet on which the whole of human life with its dangers and temptations was symbolically represented, and which is said to have been dedicated by someone in the temple of Cronus at Athens or Thebes. The author introduces some youths contemplating the tablet, and an old man who steps among them undertakes to explain its meaning. The whole drift of the book is to show that only the proper development of our mind and the possession of real virtues can make us truly happy. The author develops the Platonic theory of pre-existence, and shows that true education consists not in mere erudition, but rather in the formation of character. Parallels are often drawn between this work and John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress.
The Tabula has been widely translated both into European languages and into Arabic (the latter version published with the Greek text and Latin translation by Claudius Salmasius in 1640). It has often been printed together with Epictetus. Separate editions by CS Jerram (with introduction and notes, 1878), K Praechter (1893), and many others. See Zeller's History of Greek Philosophy; F Klopfer, De Cebetis Tabula (1818–1822); C Prachter, Cebetis Tabula quanam aetate conscripta esse videatur (1885). An English translation and commentary by John T. Fitzgerald and L. Michael White was published in 1983.
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