Poor Diogenes Laertius. He gets no respect. A “perfect ass”—“asinus germanus”—one nineteenth-century scholar called him. “Dim-witted,” said Nietzsche. An “ignoramus,” declared the twentieth-century classicist Werner Jaeger. In his lyric moods he wrote “perhaps the worst verses ever published,” an anthologist pronounced. And he had “no talent for philosophical exposition,” declares The Oxford Companion to Philosophy.
Plato, Pythagoras, and Solon; fresco in St. George’s Church, Suceava, Romania, sixteenth century
The only critique of a philosophy that is possible and that proves anything, namely trying to see whether one can live in accordance with it, has never been taught at universities; all that has ever been taught is a critique of words by means of other words.
Hicks: Again, when some one of immodest life denied that one thing seemed to him greater than another, he [Arcesilaus] rejoined, “Then six inches and ten inches are all the same to you?”
Mensch: To a man who let himself be penetrated and who recalled to him the doctrine that one thing is not greater than another, Arcesilaus asked whether a ten-incher did not seem to him greater than a six-incher.