1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Metrodorus

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METRODORUS, the name of five philosophers.

1. Metrodorus of Athens was a philosopher and painter who flourished in the 2nd century B.C. It chanced that Paullus Aemilius, visiting Athens on his return from his victory over Perseus in 168 B.C., asked for a tutor for his children and a painter to glorify his triumph. The inhabitants suggested Metrodorus as capable of discharging both duties, and it is recorded that Aemilius was entirely satisfied (see Pliny, Nat. Hist. xxv. 13 5).

2. Metrodorus of Chios was an important member of the Atomistic school. A pupil of Nessus, or, as some accounts prefer, of Democritus himself, he was a complete sceptic. He accepted the Democritean theory of atoms and void and the plurality of worlds, but held a theory of his own that the stars are formed from day to day by the moisture in the air under the heat of the sun. His radical scepticism is seen in the first sentence of his Hepl ¢|D¢rews, quoted by Cicero in the Acadenncs ii. 23 § 73. He says, “ We know nothing, no, not even whether we know or not!" and maintains that everything is to each person only what it appears to him to be. Metrodorus is especially interesting as the teacher of Anaxarchus, the friend of Pyrrho, and, therefore, as the connecting link between atomism proper and the later scepticism. It cannot be decided whether a work entitled the Tpwixd quoted by Athenzieus (iv. 184 a) is by this, or another, Metrodorus. The same difficulty is found in the case of the Ilepl ia-ropias referred to by the scholiast on Apollonius.

3. Metrodorus of Lampsacus was the disciple and intimate friend of Epicurus, and is described by Cicero (de Fin. ii. 28. 92) as “ almost a second Epicurus." He died in 277 B.C. at the age of fifty-three, seven years before his master, who adopted his children and in his will commended them to the care of his pupils. The wife of Metrodorus was Leontion, herself, like many other women of the time, a member of the Epicurean society. Athenaeus (vii. 279 F.) quotes from the words of Metrodorus showing that he was in entire agreement with Epicurus, and Was, if possible, even more dogmatic in his doctrine of pleasure. He censures his brother, Timocrates, who, though professedly Epicurean, maintained the existence of pleasures other than those of the body.

4. Another Metrodorus of Lampsacus was a pupil of Anaxagoras, and one of the earliest to attempt to interpret Homer allegorically. He explained not only the gods but also the heroes Agamemnon, Achilles, Hector, as representing primary elements and natural phenomena.

5. Metrodorus of Stratonice was a pupil, first of Apollodorus, and later of Carneades. He flourished about 110 B.C., and is reputed to have been an orator of great power. His defection from the Epicurean school is almost unique. It is explained by Cicero as being due to his theory that the scepticism of Carneades was merely a means of attacking the Stoics on their own ground. Metrodorus held that Carneades was in reality a loyal follower of Plato.