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Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers, by Kathleen Freeman, [1948], at


Hippias of Êlis was active in the second half of the fifth century B.C.

Various writings are attributed to him, of which almost nothing survives. He was probably the discoverer of the curve called quadratrix, the construction of which is preserved in Proclus’ Commentary on Euclid2

p. 143

1. (Pausanias: Hippias wrote the elegiac inscription on the bronze statues of those who were drowned when the boys’ choir was lost on the crossing between Messene and Rhegium).

2. (From a work entitled 'Nomenclature of Tribes': mention of a tribe called Spartoi).

3. (List of victors at Olympia).

4. (From a work entitled 'Collection': Thargêlia of Miletus distinguished for beauty and wisdom, was married fourteen times).

5. (Title: 'Trojan Dialogue').

From unspecified writings

6. Some of these things may have been said by Orpheus some by Musaeus, briefly in different places, some by Hesiod and Homer, others by others of the poets, some in the prose writings of the Greeks. I have put together the most important and homogeneous of these, and shall make this speech of mine something new and variegated.

7. (Thales gave even inanimate objects a soul).

8. (The continents Asia and Europe are called after two daughters of Ocean).

9. (The word 'tyrant' came into force later than Homer, who uses it to mean 'king').

10. (Shortened form of 'deposit').

11. (Lycurgus, the Spartan lawgiver, was warlike and experienced in many campaigns).

12. (Mamercus, brother of Stesichorus the poet, acquired a reputation for geometry).

13. (There are seven Hyades).

14. (The stepmother of Phrixus was called Gorgôpis).

15. (There was an Ephyra at Elis). 1

16. (There are two sorts of envy, one right, when one envies the bad who are honoured, one wrong, when one envies the good.

p. 144

Envious people have double sufferings: for their own troubles, and for other people's good fortune).

17. ('Calumny is a dread thing': no penalty is prescribed for it by law, yet it is theft, for it steals friendship, best of possessions; so that violence, bad as it is, is better than calumny, because it is not concealed).

18. (Homer came from Cymê).

19. (The name 'Of Hippias' without title of work, in a papyrus).


20. (Aristotle, Poetics, 1461a: Examples of difficulties solved by accentuation in Homer: attributed to 'Hippias of Thasos', perhaps by confusion).

21. (Proclus, Commentary in Euclid: the quadratrices of Nicomedes and Hippias).


142:2 See Companion, pp. 385-8.

143:1 i.e. as well as the Ephyra mentioned by Pindar, Nem. VII, who gave her name to a district of Corinth; and another unspecified. Cp. ch. 3 (Epimenides), Frg. 13.

Next: 87. Antiphôn the Sophist