Metrodorus of Lampsacus (the younger)

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Metrodorus Louvre.jpg
Herm-type bust of Metrodorus leaned with his back against Epicurus, in the Louvre
Born331/0 BC
Died278/7 BC
EraHellenistic philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Main interests
Ethics, Physics

Metrodorus of Lampsacus (Greek: Μητρόδωρος Λαμψακηνός, Mētrodōros Lampsakēnos; 331/0–278/7 BC[1]) was a Greek philosopher of the Epicurean school. Although one of the four major proponents of Epicureanism, only fragments of his works remain. A Metrodorus bust was found in Velia, slightly different modeled to depict Parmenides.[2]


A Roman mosaic depicting Metrodorus, from Autun, France, late 2nd or early 3rd century AD, Musée Rolin

Metrodorus was a native of Lampsacus on the Hellespont. His father's name was Athenaeus or Timocrates, his mother's Sande.[3] Together with his brother Timocrates of Lampsacus he joined the school Epicurus had set up in their home town. Timocrates, however, soon fell out with both his brother and Epicurus and devoted the rest of his life to spreading malicious slander about them.[4] Metrodorus on the other hand soon became the most distinguished of the disciples of Epicurus, with whom he lived on terms of the closest friendship, and whom he later followed to Athens, never having left him since he became acquainted with him, except for six months on one occasion, when he paid a visit to his home.

Metrodorus died in 278/7 BC, in the 53rd year of his age, seven years before Epicurus, who would have appointed him his successor had he survived him. He left behind him a son named Epicurus, and a daughter, whom Epicurus, in his will, entrusted to the guardianship of Amynomachus and Timocrates of Potamus, to be brought up under the joint care of themselves and Hermarchus, and provided for out of the property which he left behind him. In a letter also which he wrote upon his death-bed, Epicurus commended the children to the care of Idomeneus, who had married Batis, the sister of Metrodorus. The 20th of each month was kept by the disciples of Epicurus as a festive day in honour of their master and Metrodorus.[5] Leontion is spoken of as the wife or mistress of Metrodorus.

Diogenes Laërtius mentioned Epicurus letter, "All my books to be given to Hermarchus. And if anything should happen to Hermarchus before the children of Metrodorus grow up, Amynomachus and Timocrates shall give from the funds bequeathed by me, so far as possible, enough for their several needs, as long as they are well ordered. And let them provide for the rest according to my arrangements; that everything may be carried out, so far as it lies in their power. Of my slaves I manumit Mys, Nicias, Lycon, and I also give Phaedrium her liberty."[6]


Roman copy of a Greek portrait bust of Metrodorus. (Pergamon museum, Berlin)

The philosophy of Metrodorus appears to have been of a more sensual kind than that of Epicurus.[7] Perfect happiness, according to Cicero's account, he made to consist in having a well-constituted body, and knowing that it would always remain so. He found fault with his brother for not admitting that the belly was the test and measure of every thing that pertained to a happy life.[8] According to Seneca, Epicurus placed Metrodorus among those who require assistance in working their way towards truth.[9]

Diogenes Laërtius lists the following works by Metrodorus:[10]

  • Πρὸς τοὺς ἰατρούς, τρία – Against the Physicians (3 volumes)
  • Περὶ αἰσθήσεων – On Sensations
  • Πρὸς Τιμοκράτην – Against Timocrates
  • Περὶ μεγαλοψυχίας – On Magnanimity
  • Περὶ τῆς Ἐπικούρου ἀρρωστίας – On Epicurus's Weak Health
  • Πρὸς τοὺς διαλεκτικούς – Against the Dialecticians
  • Πρὸς τοὺς σοφιστάς, ἐννέα – Against the Sophists (9 volumes)
  • Περὶ τῆς ἐπὶ σοφίαν πορείας – On the Way to Wisdom
  • Περὶ τῆς μεταβολῆς – On Change
  • Περὶ πλούτου – On Wealth
  • Πρὸς Δημόκριτον – Against Democritus
  • Περὶ εὐγενείας – On Noble Birth

Metrodorus also wrote Against the Euthyphro,[11] and Against the Gorgias[12] of Plato. Small fragments of his work On Wealth, were found among the charred remains at the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum.[13] Philodemus made use of this work in his own works On Wealth, and On Household Economics. Philodemus cites Metrodorus as the author of the view that Cynic poverty was to be rejected in favour of a more affluent way of life, although wealth in no way contributes to happiness.[14]


  1. ^ Dorandi 1999, p. 51.
  2. ^ Sheila Dillon (2006). Ancient Greek Portrait Sculpture: Contexts, Subjects, and Styles. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521854986.
  3. ^ Laërtius 1925b, § 22; see also Strabo, xiii. and Cicero, Tusculanae Quaestiones, v. 37.
  4. ^ Laërtius 1925, § 6.
  5. ^ Laërtius 1925, § 16–21.
  6. ^ Diogenes Laërtius. "Lives Of Eminent Philosophers II: 6 10".
  7. ^ Cicero, De Natura Deorum, i. 40, Tusculanae Quaestiones, v. 9, de Finibus, ii. 28. § 92, 30. § 99, 31. § 101.
  8. ^ Cicero, De Natura Deorum, i. 40; Athenaeus, vii. 279 F; Plutarch, Non posse suaviter vivi secundum Epicurum, 1098; Adversus Colotem, 1108, 1125.
  9. ^ Seneca, Epistulae Morales, lii. 3
  10. ^ Laërtius 1925b, § 22.
  11. ^ Philodemus, On Piety, col. 25, 702-5, col 34, 959-60, Obbink
  12. ^ in two books, Philodemus, PHerc. 1005, col XI, 14-15, Angeli
  13. ^ PHerc. 200
  14. ^ Asmis, Elizabeth (2004). "Epicurean Economics". In Fitzgerald, John T.; Obbink, Dirk; Holland, Glenn S. (eds.). Philodemus and the New Testament World. Brill. pp. 150–152. ISBN 9789047400240.



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