Theophrastus of Eresus, Commentary Volume 9.2

Sources on Discoveries and Beginnings, Proverbs et al. (Texts 727-741)


This volume concerns Theophrastus, Aristotle's pupil and successor as head of the Peripatetic School. The focus is twofold. First, it deals with discoveries and inventions, both useful and pleasurable, and more generally changes that transformed the way people live. Theophrastus wrote a work entitled On Discoveries, which may be regarded as cultural history. Second, the volume focuses on proverbs: familiar sayings containing useful truths that have been observed by earlier generations and passed on in a form that is concise and attractive. Theophrastus wrote a work entitled On Proverbs and made use of proverbs in his writings on ethics, rhetoric and humor. He recognized their importance in educating the young and maintaining the traditions of an earlier age.

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Biographical Note

William Fortenbaugh, Ph.D University of Pennsylvania (1964) and Professor Emeritus of Classics at Rutgers University is the author of Aristotle on Emotion (1975), Director of Project Theophrastus, co-editor of the collected fragments (1992) and editor of Theophrastus On Sweat (2003).

Review Quotes

" Scholars of Theophrastus and early Peripatetic philosophy will no doubt find this volume useful. Others who might find it useful include anyone interested in ancient accounts of human discoveries, ancient accounts of proverbs, the issues involved in assessing the titles of ancient works, or the relationship between lost works and the relevant source texts." Robert Mayhew, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2015.01.13.


This volume is of interest to classicists, philosophers working on the school of Aristotle, students of cultural history and of proverbs, both as traditional wisdom and as a literary form.

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