13 Facts About Aristippus


Aristippus of Cyrene was a hedonistic Greek philosopher and the founder of the Cyrenaic school of philosophy.


Aristippus was a pupil of Socrates, but adopted a very different philosophical outlook, teaching that the goal of life was to seek pleasure by adapting circumstances to oneself and by maintaining proper control over both adversity and prosperity.


Aristippus, the son of Aritades, was born in Cyrene, Ancient Libya, c 435 BCE.


Aristippus came to Greece to be present at the Olympic games, where he asked Ischomachus about Socrates, and by his description was filled with so ardent a desire to see Socrates, that he went to Athens for the purpose, and remained with him almost up to the time of his execution in 399.


Aristippus lived luxuriously, was happy to seek sensual gratification and the company of the notorious Lais.


Aristippus took money for his teaching, the first of Socrates' disciples to do so and even told Socrates that he resided in a foreign land in order to escape the trouble of involving himself in the politics of his native city.


Aristippus passed part of his life at the court of Dionysius I of Syracuse or Dionysius the Younger, and is said to have been taken prisoner by Artaphernes, the satrap who drove the Spartans from Rhodes in 396.


Aristippus appears at last to have returned to Cyrene, and there he spent his old age.


Aristippus's statement "wise people, even though all laws were abolished, would still lead the same life" is a quote sometimes, and erroneously, attributed to the comic poet Aristophanes.


Whether Aristippus was a prisoner to a satrap, grossly insulted and even spit upon by a tyrant, enjoying the pleasures of a banquet, or reviled for faithlessness to Socrates by his fellow-pupils, he maintained the same calm temper.


Aristippus seemed insulting to Xenophon and Plato, as seen from the Memorabilia, where he maintains a discussion against Socrates in defense of voluptuous enjoyment, and from the Phaedo, where his absence at the death of Socrates, though he was only at Aegina, 200 stadia from Athens, is doubtless mentioned as a reproach.


Aristippus imparted his doctrine to his daughter Arete who, in turn, imparted it to her son, Aristippus the Younger, who is said to have reduced it to a system.


Aristippus admonished his students to never harm others, and cautioned that the pursuit of pleasure ought to be moderated by moral self-restraint.