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 Laërtius, ix. ch. 12) were numerous both in prose and in verse: besides the Silloi , he is said to have written epic poems, tragedies, comedies and satyric dramas. But he is best known as the author of the Silloi , three books of sarcastic hexameter verses, written against the Greek philosophers.

The fragments that remain (about 140 lines or parts of lines, printed in FWA Mullach, Frag. phil. grace, 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.

Timon of Phlius

Timon of Phlius ,Thomas Stanley, (1655), The history of philosophy: containing the lives, opinions, actions and Discourses of the Philosophers of every Sect, illustrated with effigies of divers of them.

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 Silloi we have some lines preserved from the tt>$a\fiot, 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 EH 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, Sittographorum graec. reliquiae (Leipzig, 1885). His life was the inspiration for William Shakespeare's never-completed play Timon of Athens.


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