Cebes in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities

(Κέβης). A Greek philosopher, and disciple of Socrates, and also one of the interlocutors whom Plato introduces in his dialogue entitled Phaedo. He was born at Thebes, and composed three dialogues, called Hebdomé (Ἑβδόμη), Phrynichus (Φρύνιχος), and Pinax, or the Picture (Πίναξ). The last is the only one which has come down to us. It is commonly cited by its Latin title Cebetis Tabula (i. e. picta), and is a moral sketch or picture of human life, written in a pleasing and simple style. Some critics have raised doubts as to the authenticity of this little work. It contains, indeed, a very pure vein of morality, but is not composed, as they think, in the true spirit of the Socratic school; and they are inclined, therefore, to regard it as the work of some Stoic who wished to show that happiness consisted in the practice of virtue. But it is expressly attributed to Cebes by Lucian (De Mercede Conduct. 42), and after him by Tertullian (De Praescript. adv. Haeret. 39), Diogenes Laertius (ii. 125), Chalcidius, and Suidas. Wolff was the first among the moderns who ventured to call in question this testimony of the ancients. No work of antiquity has met with a wider circulation. In the Middle Ages it was extremely popular, and it has been translated into almost all the modern languages, including even the Arabic-this version, in fact (of the ninth century A.D.), being our only source for the close of the dialogue. The best editions of Cebes are that of Schweighäuser (Strassburg, 1806); that of Thieme (Berlin, 1810), with German notes of great merit; of Jerram (Oxford, 1877); and of Parsons (Boston, 1887).

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