Diogenes Laërtius

17th-century engraving

Diogenes Laërtius (s/;[1] Greek: Διογένης Λαέρτιος, Diogenēs Laertios; fl. 3rd century AD) was a biographer of the Greek philosophers. Nothing is definitively known about his life, but his surviving Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers is a principal source for the history of Greek philosophy. "Diogenes has acquired an importance out of all proportion to his merits because the loss of many primary sources and of the earlier secondary compilations has accidentally left him the chief continuous source for the history of Greek philosophy."[2]


Although not definitive, Laërtius must have lived after Sextus Empiricus (c. 200), whom he mentions, and before Stephanus of Byzantium and Sopater of Apamea (c. 500), who quote him. His work makes no mention of Neoplatonism, even though it is addressed to a woman who was "an enthusiastic Platonist".[3] Hence he is assumed to have flourished in the first half of the 3rd century, during the reign of Alexander Severus (222–235) and his successors.[4]

The precise form of his name is uncertain. The ancient manuscripts invariably refer to a "Laertius Diogenes", and this form of the name is repeated by Sopater[5] and the Suda.[6] The modern form "Diogenes Laertius" is much rarer, used by Stephanus of Byzantium,[7] and in a lemma to the Greek Anthology.[8] He is also referred to as "Laertes"[9] or simply "Diogenes".[10]

The origin of the name "Laertius" is also uncertain. Stephanus of Byzantium refers to him as "Διογένης ὁ Λαερτιεύς" (Diogenes ho Laertieus),[11] implying that he was the native of some town, perhaps the Laerte in Caria (or another Laerte in Cilicia). Another suggestion is that one of his ancestors had for a patron a member of the Roman family of the Laërtii.[12] The prevailing modern theory is that "Laertius" is a nickname (derived from the Homeric epithet Diogenes Laertiade, used in addressing Odysseus) used to distinguish him from the many other people called Diogenes in the ancient world.[13]

His home town is unknown (at best uncertain, even according to a hypothesis that Laertius refers to his origin). A disputed passage in his writings has been used to suggest that it was Nicaea in Bithynia.[14][15]

Other Languages
azərbaycanca: Leartlı Diogen
беларуская: Дыяген Лаэрцкі
български: Диоген Лаерций
Esperanto: Diogeno Laertio
estremeñu: Diógeni Laérciu
français: Diogène Laërce
hrvatski: Diogen Laertije
italiano: Diogene Laerzio
Nederlands: Diogenes Laërtius
português: Diógenes Laércio
Simple English: Diogenes Laërtius
slovenčina: Diogenes Laertios
slovenščina: Diogen Laertski
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Diogen Laertije
українська: Діоген Лаертський