People - Ancient Greece: Menedemus of Eretria
Ancient Greek philosopher and founder of the
Menedēmus in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities
（Μενέδημος). A Greek philosopher, a native of Eretria. Though of noble birth, he was poor, and worked for a livelihood either as a builder or as a tent-maker. According to one story, he seized the opportunity afforded by his being sent on some military service to Megara to hear Plato, and abandoned the army to addict himself to philosophy; but it may be questioned whether he was old enough to have heard Plato before the death of the latter. According to another story, he and his friend Asclepiades got their livelihood as millers, working during the night that they might have leisure for philosophy in the day (Athen. p. 168). The two friends afterwards became disciples of Stilpo at Megara. From Megara they went to Elis, and placed themselves under the instruction of some disciples of Phaedo. On his return to Eretria Menedemus established a school of philosophy, which was called the Eretrian. He did not, however, confine himself to philosophical pursuits, but took an active part in the political affairs of his native city, and came to be the leading man in the State. He went on various embassies to Lysimachus, Demetrius, and others; but being suspected of the treacherous intention of betraying Eretria into the power of Antigonus, he quitted his native city secretly, and took refuge with Antigonus in Asia. Here he starved himself to death in the seventy-fourth year of his age, probably about B.C. 277. Of the philosophy of Menedemus little is known, except that it closely resembled that of the Megarian School, on which see Euclides, p. 630.
Menedemus in Wikipedia
Menedemus (Greek: Μενέδημος; 345/4-261/0 BC) of Eretria was a Greek philosopher and founder of the Eretrian school. He learned philosophy first in Athens, and then, with his friend Asclepiades, he subsequently studied under Stilpo and Phaedo of Elis. Nothing survives of his philosophical views apart from a few scattered remarks recorded by later writers.
Menedemus was born at Eretria. Though of noble birth, he worked as builder and tentmaker until he was sent with a military expedition to Megara, from where he travelled to the Platonic Academy in Athens and resolved to devote himself to philosophy. At Megara he formed a life-long friendship with Asclepiades of Phlius, with whom he toiled in the night that he might study philosophy by day. He was subsequently a pupil first of Stilpo and then of Phaedo of Elis, whose school he transferred to Eretria, by which name it was afterwards known.
In addition to his philosophical work, he took a leading part in the political affairs of his city from the time of the Diadochi until his death, and obtained a remission of the tribute to Demetrius. His friendship with Antigonus II Gonatas seems to have roused suspicion as to his loyalty, and he sought safety first in the temple of Amphiaraus at Oropus, and later with Antigonus, at whose court he is said to have died of grief. Other accounts say that he starved himself to death on failing to induce Antigonus to free his native city.
His philosophical views are known only in part. Athenaeus quotes Epicrates as stating that he was a Platonist, but other accounts credit him with having preferred Stilpo to Plato. Diogenes Laėrtius says that he declined to identify the Good with the Useful, and that he denied the value of the negative proposition on the ground that affirmation alone can express truth. In ethics we learn from Plutarch and from Cicero that he regarded Virtue as one, by whatever name it be called, and maintained that it is intellectual. Cicero's evidence is the less valuable in that he always assumed that Menedemus was a follower of the Megarian school. Diogenes says that he left no writings, and the Eretrian school disappeared after a short and unobtrusive existence.
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