BION

Borysthenes
3rd century B.C.





BIOGRAPHY

Diogenes the Laertian gives us information of this philosopher’s life. As Bion himself told to King Antigonus of Macedonia, he came from an area near Vorysthenes river. His father was a former slave, merchant of salt fish, and after some custom office concerning offence, Bion was sold as a slave along with his family. His new owner, an orator liked him so much that he made him the sole inheritor of his property.

After his owner died, Bion gave away his inheritance and settled in Athens, where he joined the Cynicals, after studying to the Platonic academy, next to Crates. A few years later he abandoned the Cynics and attended Theodore the Atheist, of the Cyrenian Academy. Later on he abandoned once more his new teacher, to join Theophrastus. According to Diogenes the Laertian, Bion taught philosophy in Rhodes for a while.

He was never a systematic philosopher. He was ironic towards philosophy, music and geometry. He was fond of making a joke out of everything with his witty sayings, thus he is considered a predecessor of Lucianus. He combined the ideas of the Cynicals and the Cyrenians, presenting a kind of cynical-hedonistic philosophy. His dogma stated that man should enjoy all kinds of pleasures, when life and circumstance allow him to do so, along with facing the needs of life with patience and austerity. Eratosthenes claimed that Bion was the first who put on philosophy a flowery dress. Bion gave birth to a new kind of literature, Diatribe, the modern word is discourse, in ancient writings was a combination of rhetorical speech and dialogue, teaching through pleasure.