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Critolaus

Born: fl. 2nd c. BC
Birthplace: Phaselis
Died: fl. 2nd c. BC
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Philosopher

Nationality: Ancient Greece
Executive summary: Greek peripatetic philosopher

Greek philosopher, was born at Phaselis in the 2nd century BC. He lived to the age of eighty-two and died probably before 111 BC. He studied philosophy under Aristo of Ceos and became one of the leaders of the Peripatetic school by his eminence as an orator, a scholar and a moralist. There has been considerable discussion as to whether he was the immediate successor of Aristo, but the evidence is confused and unprofitable. In general he was a loyal adherent to the Peripatetic succession, though in some respects he went beyond his predecessors. For example, he held that pleasure is an evil, and definitely maintained that the soul consists of aether. The end of existence was to him the general perfection of the natural life, including the goods of the soul and the body, and also external goods. Cicero says in the Tusculans that the goods of the soul entirely outweighed for him the other goods ("tantum propendere illam bonorum animi lancem"). Further, he defended against the Stoics the Peripatetic doctrine of the eternity of the world and the indestructibility of the human race. There is no observed change in the natural order of things; mankind re-creates itself in the same manner according to the capacity given by Nature, and the various ills to which it is heir, though fatal to individuals, do not avail to modify the whole. Just as it is absurd to suppose that man is merely earth born, so the possibility of his ultimate destruction is inconceivable. The world, as the manifestation of eternal order, must itself be immortal. The life of Critolaus is not recorded. One incident alone is preserved. From Cicero it appears that he was sent with Carneades and Diogenes to Rome in 156-155 BC to protest against the fine of 500 talents imposed on Athens in punishment for the sack of Oropus. The three ambassadors lectured on philosophy in Rome with so much success that Cato the Elder was alarmed and had them dismissed from the city. Gellius describes his arguments as scita et teretia.



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