Title: A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. By various writers. Ed. by William Smith. Illustrated by numerous engravings on wood.
Author: Smith, William, Sir, ed. 1813-1893.
Collection: Making of America Books
ARCESILAUS. ARCESILAUS. 259 as the discordant character of some of his later views. He was not without reputation as a poet, and Diogenes LaErtius (iv. 30) has preserved two epigrams of his, one of which is addressed to Attalus, king of Pergamus, and records his admiration of Homer and Pindar, of whose works he was an enthusiastic reader. Several of his puns and witticisms have been preserved in his life by the same writer, which give the idea of an accomplished man of the world rather than a grave philosopher. Many traits of character are also recorded of him, some of them of a pleasing nature-, The greatness of his personal character is shewn by the imitation of his peculiarities, into which his admirers are said insensibly to have fallen. His oratory is described as of an attractive and persuasive kind, the effect of it being enhanced by the frankness of his demeanour. Although his means were not large, his resources being chiefly derived from king Eumenes, many tales were told of his unassuming generosity. But it must be admitted, that there was another side to the picture, and his enemies accused him of the grossest profligacy-a charge which he only answered by citing the example of Aristippus-and it must be confessed, that the accusation is slightly confirmed by the circumstance that he died in the 76th year of his age from a fit of excessive drunkenness; on which event an epigram has been preserved by Diogenes. It was on the death of Crantor that Arcesilaus succeeded to the chair of the Academy, in the history of which he makes so important an era. As, however, he committed nothing to writing, his opinions were imperfectly known to his contemporaries, and can now only be gathered from the confused statements of his opponents. There seems to have been a gradual decline of philosophy since the time of Plato and Aristotle: the same subjects had been again and again discussed, until no room was left for original thought-a deficiency which was but poorly compensated by the extravagant paradox or overdrawn subtlety of the later schools. Whether we attribute the scepticism of the Academy to a reaction from the dogmatism of the Stoics, or whether it was the natural result of ex-.ending to intellectual truth the distrust with which Plato viewed the information of sense, it would oeem that in the time of Arcesilaus the whole of )hilosophy was absorbed in the single question of he grounds of human knowledge. What were the cculiar views of Arcesilaus on this question, it is lot easy to collect. On the one hand, lie is said to ave restored the doctrines of Plato in an uncorupted form; while, on the other hand, according ) Cicero (Acad.i. 12), he summed up his opinions i the formula, "that hlie knew nothing, not even is own ignorance." There are two ways of re)nciling the difficulty: either we may suppose im to have thrown out such d'ropifat as an exercise,r the ingenuity of his pupils, as Sextus Empiricus Pyrrh. I-Ippotyp. i. 234), who disclaims him as a -eptic, would have us believe; or he may have ally doubted the esoteric meaning of Plato, and Ive supposed himself to have been stripping his Drks of the figments of the Dogmatists, while he is in fact taking from them all certain principles, iatever. (Cic. de Orat. iii. 18.) A curious result the confusion which pervaded the New Academy is the return to some of the doctrines of the elder nic school, which they attempted to harmonize th Plato and their own views. (Euseb. Pr. Ev. xiv. 5, 6.) Arcesilaus is also said to have restored the Socratic method of teaching in dialogues; although it is probable that he did not confine himself strictly to the erotetic method, perhaps the supposed identity of his doctrines with those of Plato may have originated in the outward form in which they were conveyed. The Stoics were the chief opponents of Arcesilaus; he attacked their doctrine of a convincing conception (KaraiM7rrTiKo) i pavaTria) as understood to be a mean between science and opinion-a mean which he asserted could not exist, and was merely the interpolation of a name. (Cic. Acad. ii. 24.) It involved in fact a contradiction in terms, as the very idea of <pav-raoia implied the possibility of false as well as true conceptions of the same object. It is a question of some importance, in what the scepticism of the New Academy was distinguished from that of the followers of Pyrrhon. Admitting the formula of Arcesilauus, "that he knew nothing, not even his own ignorance," to be an exposition of his real sentiments, it was impossible in one sense that scepticism could proceed further: but the New Academy does not seem to have doubted the existence of truth in itself, only our capacities for obtaining it. It differed also from the principles of the pure sceptic in the practical tendency of its doctrines: while the object of the one was the attainment of perfect equanimity (biroxo), the other seems rather to have retired from the barren field of speculation to practical life, and to have acknowledged some vestiges of a moral law within, at best but a probable guide, the possession of which, however, formed the real distinction between the sage and the fool. Slight as the difference may appear between the speculative statements of the two schools, a comparison of the lives of their founders and their respective successors leads us to the conclusion, that a practical moderation was the characteristic of the New Academy, to which the Sceptics were wholly strangers. (Sex. Empiricus, adv. Math. ii. 158, Pyrh'-. Hypoiyp. i. 3, 226.) [B.J.] ARCESILAUS ('ApXsotAaos), an Athenian comic poet of the old comedy, none of whose works are extant. (Diog. Laert. iv. 45.) [P. S.] ARCESILA'US, artists. 1. A sculptor who made a statue of Diana, celebrated by an ode of Simonides. (Diog. Lart. iv. 45.) He may, therefore, have flourished about 500 B. c. 2. Of Paros, was, according to Pliny (xxxv. 39), one of the first encaustic painters, and a contemporary of Polygnotus (about 460 B. c.). 3. A painter, the son of the sculptor Tisicrates, flourished about 280 or 270 B. c. (Plin. xxxv. 40. ~ 42.) Pausanias (i. 1. ~ 3) mentions a painter of the same name, whose picture of Leosthenes and his sons was to be seen in the Peiraeeus. Though Leosthenes was killed in the war of Athens against Lamia, 1. c. 323, Sillig argues, that the faict of his sons being included in the picture favours the supposition that it was painted after his death, and that we may therefore safely refer the passages of Pausanias and of Pliny to the same person. (Catal. Artif. s. v.) 4. A sculptor in the first century B. c., who, according to Pliny, was held in high esteem at Rome, was especially celebrated by M. Varro, and was intimate with L. Lentulus. Among his works were a statue of Venus Genetrix in the forum of Caesar, and a marble lioness surrounded by winged Cupids, who were sporting with her. Of the latter s2