Arius Didymus

Stoic philosopher

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Arius Didymus (Greek: Ἄρειος Δίδυμος Areios Didymos; fl. 1st century BC) was a Stoic philosopher and teacher of Augustus. Fragments of his handbooks summarizing Stoic and Peripatetic doctrines are preserved by Stobaeus and Eusebius.


Arius was a citizen of Alexandria. Augustus esteemed him so highly, that after the conquest of Alexandria, he declared that he spared the city chiefly for the sake of Arius.[1] According to Plutarch, Arius advised Augustus to execute Caesarion, the son of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar, with the words "ouk agathon polukaisarie" ("it's not good to have too many Caesars"), a pun on a line in Homer.[2]

Arius as well as his two sons, Dionysius and Nicanor, are said to have instructed Augustus in philosophy.[3] He is frequently mentioned by Themistius, who says that Augustus valued him not less than Agrippa.[4] From Quintilian[5] it appears that Arius also taught or wrote on rhetoric.[6] He is presumably the "Arius" whose Life was among those in the missing final section of book VII of the Lives of Diogenes Laërtius.[7]


Arius Didymus is usually identified with the Arius whose works are quoted at length by Stobaeus, summarising Stoic, Peripatetic and Platonist philosophy.[8] That his full name is Arius Didymus we know from Eusebius, who quotes two long passages of his concerning Stoic views on God; the conflagration of the Universe; and the soul.[9]


  1. ^ Plutarch, Ant. 80, Apophth.; Dio Cassius, li. 16; Julian, Epistles, 51; comp. Strabo, xiv.
  2. ^ David Braund et al, Myth, history and culture in republican Rome: studies in honour of T.P. Wiseman, University of Exeter Press, 2003, p.305. The original line was "ouk agathon polukoiranie": "Too many leaders are not good" or "the rule of many is a bad thing" (Homer, Iliad, Bk. II. vers. 204 and 205). In Greek "polukaisarie" is a variation on "polukoiranie". "Kaisar" (Caesar) replacing "Koiran(os)", meaning "leader".
  3. ^ Suetonius, Augustus, 89.
  4. ^ Themistius, Orat. v., viii., x., xiii
  5. ^ Quintilian, ii. 15. § 36, iii. 1. § 16
  6. ^ Comp. Seneca, consol. ad Marc. 4; Aelian, Varia Historia, xii. 25; Suda
  7. ^ Richard Hope, 1930, The book of Diogenes Laertius: its spirit and its method, page 17.
  8. ^ Sedley, D., "The School, from Zeno to Arius Didymus" in Inwood, B. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Stoics (Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 32.
  9. ^ Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica, xv. 15, 18, 19, 20.

Further reading

  • Arthur J. Pomeroy (ed.), Arius Didymus. Epitome of Stoic Ethics. Texts and Translations 44; Graeco-Roman 14. Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 1999. Pp. ix, 160. ISBN 0-88414-001-6.
  • B. Inwood, and L.P. Gerson, Hellenistic Philosophy. Introductory Readings, 2nd edition, Hackett Publishing Company, Indianapolis/Cambridge 1997, pp. 203-232.
  • Fortenbaugh, W. (Editor), On Stoic and Peripatetic Ethics: The Work of Arius Didymus. Transaction Publishers. (2002). ISBN 0-7658-0972-9

External links

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