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date: 05 March 2021


  • Christopher Pelling


Dicaearchus of *Messana, Greek polymath and prolific writer, pupil of *Aristotle and contemporary of *Theophrastus and *Aristoxenus: fl. c.320–300 bce. He spent some of his life in the *Peloponnese. Fragments only survive of his works, but they show a remarkable range:(1) The Life of Greece, a pioneering history of culture in three books: it began with an idealized worldwide golden age and went on to trace the evolution of contemporary Greek culture, pointing the contribution of Chaldaeans and Egyptians as well as Greeks. (2) On Lives, in several books, treating *Plato (1), *Pythagoras (1), and other philosophers: he found ‘juvenile’ and ‘vulgar’ elements in the Phaedrus The title suggests a discussion of different lifestyles rather than straightforward biographies, and he presented his subjects as men of action as well as of reflection. (3) On Alcaeus, perhaps including a commentary; this again treated wider aspects of cultural history. (4) Works on .

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