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4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars INDISPENSABLE FOR LIFE, HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY, 22 Nov. 2004
By 
alaskadoggie (Boom (near Antwerp), BELGIUM) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Lives of Eminent Philosophers (Volume 1): Vol 1 (Loeb Classical Library) (Hardcover)
We know but very little, if not almost nothing about Diogenes Laertius. However, this book, written, compilated by him is of tremendous, by far even underestimated IMPORTANCE FOR OUR KNOWLEDGE OF GREEK PHILOSOPHY. The shortage of biographical data is rather remarquable while he wrote no less than 82 biographies of the antique thinkers and their theories. In his work one can easily distinct an inexhaustive passion for "COMPLETENESS", which turns out quite HUMORISTIC ... This tune makes it a real delight to read this superb collection of his "memories", the result of the tremendous MEMORY (and work, research) he must have had.
He wrote down EVERYTHING HE KNEW and almost didn't note any differentiation in his own "communications". LAERTIUS STANDS FOR THE ENCYCLOPAEDIC AUTODIDACT, a man who always excells in zeal ... and lack of being fastidious and scepsis towards his subject. His so IMPORTANT, MARVELOUS LIFEWORK contains - in 10 books - the description of the lives of about 80 philosophers, from the "SEVEN WIZARDS" until Epicure.
While the vast majority of the sources out of which Diogenes Laertius collected his knowledge have definitely dried up, are destroyed, HIS COMPILATION about the life and the doctrines and theories of all the famous Greek thinkers that were known to him, IS OF INVALUABLE IMPORTANCE up until today for life itself, for history and of course for philosophy. We very probably would never have known now about "his protagonists", about Greek philosophy.
What is more, thanks to the many anecdotes, epigrams, letters, citations, testaments, etc... THIS OEUVRE IS EASILY READABLE ... WITH A LOT OF HUMOR !!
However this is a book of REFERENCE (for philosophy), I RECOMMEND IT WARMLY TO ALL READERS: AN OUTSTANDING OEUVRE that is very RARE in its genre. YOU DO NOT AT ALL HAVE TO BE A PHILOSOPHER TO READ THIS: IT IS AS IF YOU READ A NOVEL ABOUT WHO DID WHAT. A BOOK THAT YOU WILL ENJOY (sic!) AND NEVER EVER IN YOUR LIFE WILL FORGET ABOUT!
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12 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first history of philosophy by schools of thought, 15 April 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Lives of Eminent Philosophers (Volume 1): Vol 1 (Loeb Classical Library) (Hardcover)
Diogenes Lartius' Lives of the Philosophers is a flawed work by an unsinspired thinker and poetaster. His work is, however, indispensable to the student of ancient western thought and writing, as his quotations of many earlier philosophers, poets, and miscellaneous writers, whose works have perished, have left a large body of fragments for the historian to collect and analyze. The organization of Diogenes' work into successions of philosophers and schools of thought provided the foundation for the subsequent organization of the history of ancient philosophy. Interspersed throughout his fascinating book, full of legends and tidbits about the lives of individual philosophers, Diogenes Laertius has preserved entire bibliographies, reports of raging philosophical controversies, as well as poetry (including his own very mediocre compositions). This work is a must-read for the serious student of ancient western thought.
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