1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Timon of Phlius

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TIMON (c. 320-230), of Phlius, Greek sceptic philosopher and satirical poet, a pupil of Stilpo the Megarian and Pyrrho of Elis. Having made a fortune by teaching and lecturing in Chalcedon he spent the rest of his life chiefly at Athens, where he died. His writings (Diogenes Laertius, ix. ch. 12) were numerous both in prose and in verse: besides the Σίλλοι, he is said to have written epic poems, tragedies, comedies and satyric dramas. But he is best known as the author of the Σίλλοι, three books of sarcastic hexameter verses, written against the Greek philosophers.

The fragments that remain (about 140 lines or parts of lines, printed in F. W. A. Mullach, Frag. phil. graec, i. 84-98) show that Timon possessed some of the qualities of a great satirist, together with a command of the hexameter; but he had no loftier aim than to awaken laughter. Philosophers are "excessively cunning murderers of many wise saws" (v. 96); the only two whom he spares are Xenophanes; "the modest censor of Homer's lies" (v. 29), and Pyrrho, against whom " no other mortal dare contend " (v. 126). Besides the Σίλλοι we have some lines preserved from the Ίνδελμοί, a poem in elegiac verse, which appears to have inculcated the tenets of scepticism, and one or two fragments which cannot be with certainty assigned to either poem. There is a reference to Timon in Eus. Praep. Ev. xiv. (Eng. trans, by E. H. Gifford, 1903, p. 761). Fragments of his poems have been collected by Wolke, De graecorum syllis (Warsaw, 1820), Paul, Dissertatio de syllis (Berlin, 1821), and Wachsmuth, Sillographorum graec. reliquiae (Leipzig, 1885).