Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics

By Bart D. Ehrman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
Forgers, Critics, and Deceived Deceivers

I begin with a series of anecdotes that establish some of the themes pursued throughout the course of my study. These historical narratives involve forgers who condemned forgery and deceivers who were deceived.


HERACLIDES AND DIONYSIUS

Heraclides Ponticus was one of the great literati of the classical age.1 As a young man from aristocratic roots, he left his native Pontus to study philosophy in Athens under Plato, Speusippus, and eventually, while he was still in the Academy, Aristotle. During one of Plato’s absences, Heraclides was temporarily put in charge of the school; after the death of Speusippus he was nearly appointed permanent head. His writings spanned a remarkable range, from ethics to dialectics to geometry to physics to astronomy to music to history to literary criticism. Diogenes Laertius lists more than sixty books in all. Ten more are known from other sources. Few texts remain, almost entirely in fragments.

Diogenes is our principal source of information outside the primary texts.2 As is his occasional wont, he betrays much greater interest in regaling readers with amusing anecdotes than in describing Heraclides’ contributions to the intellec-

1. For texts and fragments, see the standard edition of F. Wehrli, Die Schule des Aristoteles, Hefte VII, Heracleides Pontikos 2nd ed. (Basel: Schwabe 1969); and now Eckart Schütrumpf, Heraclides of Pontus: Text and Translations (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2009). For a full study, see H. B. Gottschalk, Heraclides of Pontus (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980). Contra Wehrli, who based his judgment on the comments of Diogenes Laertius, Heraclides is now seen as a member of the Platonic Academy, not a member of the school of Aristotle. So Gottschalk (pp. 2–6) and Schütrumpf (p. vii).

2. Texts and translation in R. D. Hicks, Diogenes Laertius: Lives of Eminent Philosophers, 2 vols. LCL (Cambridge: Harvard, 1972).

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