22. The Problem of Sources

  1. Mary Louise Gill2 and
  2. Pierre Pellegrin3
  1. Robert W. Sharples

Published Online: 8 MAY 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781444305845.ch22

A Companion to Ancient Philosophy

A Companion to Ancient Philosophy

How to Cite

Sharples, R. W. (2012) The Problem of Sources, in A Companion to Ancient Philosophy (eds M. L. Gill and P. Pellegrin), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444305845.ch22

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Brown University, USA

  2. 3

    National Center for Scientific Research (Paris), France

Author Information

  1. University College London, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 8 MAY 2012
  2. Published Print: 2 MAY 2012

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780631210610

Online ISBN: 9781444305845



  • the problem of sources, of misrepresentation and misunderstanding philosophy;
  • the Hellenistic period, not untypical of all Greek philosophy before the Roman;
  • the Stoic and Epicurean traditions, eclipsed by Neoplatonism;
  • Hellenistic philosophy, and collections of fragments and testimonia;
  • collection of fragments, deciphering papyri from Herculaneum, and the re-readings;
  • philosophical writings of Cicero, for the Hellenistic period, in dialogues;
  • Cicero and Epicurus, the atomic swerve, human action as free and yet not uncaused;
  • Dicaearchus on the Soul, and Plutarch on the Octopus;
  • Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, and the virtue for happiness;
  • Hellenistic philosophy and uncertainties, a fascination of its own


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • The Extent of the Problem

  • Collections of Fragments

  • The Reporter's Own Agenda

  • Cicero and Epicurus: The Atomic Swerve

  • Importing Distinctions: Dicaearchus on the Soul, Plutarch on the Octopus

  • The Debate about Happiness

  • Mistakes and Misrepresentations, Simple and Less Simple

  • Conclusion

  • Bibliography