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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Polemo of Athens

(1) an eminent Platonic philosopher, and for some time the head of the Academy, was the son of Philostratus, a man of wealth and political distinction. In his youth Polemo was extremely profligate; but one day, when he was about thirty, he broke into the school of Xenocrates at the head of a band of revelers. His attention was so arrested by the discourse, which the master continued calmly in spite of the interruption, and which chanced to be upon temperance, that he tore off his garland and remained an attentive listener, and from that day lie adopted an abstemious course of life, and continued to frequent the school, of which, on the death of Xenocrates, he became the head, in 01, 116, B.C. 315. According to Eusebius (Chronicles) he died in 01, 126, 4, B.C. 273. Diogenes also says that he died at a great age, and of natural decay. He was a close follower of Xenocrates in all things, and an intimate friend of Crates and Crantor, who were his disciples, as well as Zeno and Arcesilas; Crates was his successor in the Academy. Polemo gave his attention mainly to ethics, and esteemed tie object of philosophy to be to exercise men in things and deeds, not in dialectic speculations. His character was grave and severe, and he took pride in displaying the mastery which he had acquired over emotions of every sort. In literature he most admired Homer and Sophocles, and he is said to have been the author of the remark that Homer is an epic Sophocles, and Sophocles a tragic Homer. He left, according to Diogenes, several treatises, none of which were extant in tile time of Suidas.

There is, however, a quotation made by Clemens Alexandrinus, either from him or from another philosopher of the same name, ἐν τοῖς περὶ τοῦ κατὰ φύσιν βίου (Strom. 7, 117), and another passage (Strom. 2, 410) upon happiness, which agrees precisely with the statement of Cicero (De Fin. 4:6), that Polemo placed the summum bonum in living according to the laws of nature. Cicero gives (Acal. Pt. 2, 43) the following as Polemo's ethical principles: "Holeste vivere, fruentem rebus iis, quas primas homini natura conciliat." See Diog. Laert. 4:16-20; Suid. s.v.; Plut. De Adul. et Amic. 32, p. 71 e; Lucian, Bis Accusat. 16 (2, 811); Athen. 2, 44 e; Cic. Acad. 1, 9; 2, 35, 42; De Olltt. 3, 18; De Fin. 2, 6, 11; 4:2, 6, 16, 18; 5, 1, 5, 7, et al.; Horat. Sernu. 2, 3, 253 fol.; Val. Max. 6:9; Menag. Ad Diog. Laert. 1. c.; Fabricius, Bibl. Grcec. 3, 183; comp. p. 323, note hhh; Smith, Dict. of Gr. and Roms. Biog. and Mythol. s.v.; Ueberweg, Hist. of Philos. 1, 133-135; Butler, Hist. of Anc. Philos. (see Index).

(2.) Another Platonic philosopher was the disciple of Plotinus; but very little is known of him (Porphyr. Plot. Vit.; Fabricius, 1. c.; Clinton, F. II. sub ann. B.C. 315, vol. 2, 3d ed.).

(3.) OF ATHENS by citizenship, but by birth either of Ilium or Samos or Sicyon, a Stoic philosopher and an eminent geographer, surnamed περιηγήτης, was the son of Euegetes, and a contemporary of Aristophanes of Byzantium, in the time of Ptolemy Epiphanes, at the beginning of the 2d century B.C. (Suid. s.v.; Athen. 6:234; Clinton, F. H. vol. 3, sub ann. B.C. 199). In philosophy he was a disciple of Panetius. He made extensive journeys through Greece, to collect materials for his geographical works, in the course of which he paid particular attention to the inscriptions on votive offerings and on columns, whence he obtained the surname of Στηλοκόπας (Ath. 1. c.; Casaub. ad loc.). As the collector of these inscriptions, he was one of the earliest contributors to the Greek Anthology, and he wrote a work expressly, Περὶ τῶν κατὰ πόλεις ἐπιγραμμάτων (Athen. 10:436 d, 442 e); besides which, other works of his are mentioned upon the votive offerings and monuments in the Acropolis of Athens, at Lacedamon, at Delphi, and elsewhere, which no doubt contained copies of numerous epigrams. Hence Jacobs infers that in all probability his works formed a chief source of the Garland of Meleager (Animardv. in Anth. Graec. vol. 1, Procem. p. 34, 35). Athenemus and other writers make very numerous quotations from his works, the titles of which it is unnecessary to give at length. They are chiefly descriptions of different parts of Greece; some are on the paintings preserved in various places, and several are controversial, among which is one against Eratosthenes. See Fabricius, Bibl. Graec. 3, 184; Vossils, De list. Graec. p. 159 fol. ed. Westermann; Clifton, F. II. 3, 524, where a list of his works is given.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Polemo of Athens'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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