Who is Diogenes Laërtius?

17th century engraving of him

Giogenes Laërtius is commonly believed to have been a biography who lived in the 3th century AD. His surviving work titled ‘Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers’ is a principle historical work about ancient Greek philosophy.

It is believed by many that Laërtius’ ‘Life of Thales’ is the work upon which Leon Battista Alberti modeled his own autobiography. As we can see below, from a general academic stance, today’s historians believe the earliest main manuscripts from Laërtius which we have today were created at the earliest in the 1100s and at latest in the 1300s. This gives us a frame of creation around 900-1100 years after Laëtius allegedly lived.

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No clear manuscripts exist, they are all unclear. The main textual sources of Diogenes Laertius are;

1 – (=B) – Borbonicus (Naples, Biblioteca Nazionale, Graecus III. B. 29.) – written c.12th-13th cc.

2 – (P) – Paris Graecus 1759 – w. 13th-14th cc.

3 – (=Co) – from the library of the Old Seraglio in Constantinople – w. 13th-14th cc.

4 – (=W) – Vatican gr. 140 – w. 14th c.

5 – (=F, sometimes L) – Laurentianus Graecus put. 69.13 – w. 12th-14th cc.

There was a Latin translation made in 1431. There were copies made in the form of manuscripts printed in Rome without a date and Venice in 1475. Many other printings since then have occurred. The first whole text edited was printed in 1533. The wikipedia article has additional information which you may find interesting.

The question I pose is as follows;

Did the original author of “his” works really live around the 200s AD?

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[1] – http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780195389661/obo-9780195389661-0195.xml

[2] – http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/manuscripts/greek_classics.htm#Diogenes%20Laertius

[3] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diogenes_Laërtius

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