Sunday, January 25, 2015


Arete’s a great Cyrenaic,
Her theory is very prosaic.
What’s good is just pleasure,
Of wellness the measure,
Without getting too formulaic.

Note: Arete of Cyrene (an ancient Greek colony in Northern Africa, now in Eastern Libya) was the daughter of Aristippus, whom Plato (in the Phaedo) lists among those who were not, but who would have wanted to be, at Socrates’ side when he drank the hemlock in 399 BCE.  Aristippus moved to Athens, taking Arete with him, and founded a school (of Cyrenaics), heavily influenced by some of Socrates’ statements, including the claim that the good is pleasure (a claim that Plato attributes to his character “Socrates” in the Protagoras).  Arete learned Cyrenaic philosophy from her father, and later married and gave birth to a son, whom she called “Aristippus” in honor of her father and whom she (contrary to existing customs) taught herself.  It is thanks to Arete’s son that we know as much as we do now (which isn’t much, unfortunately) about the Cyrenaic school.  And we have her to thank for the fact that her son was so well trained in philosophy.

No comments:

Post a Comment