Sebastiano Molinelli

An anonymous author on a good, beautiful and just death

The paper opens by introducing the logic of the antilogies of the first three chapters of Dissoi Logoi, in force of which death, similarly to other objects, is shown to be good as well as bad, beautiful as well as ugly, and just as well as unjust. The three different arguments (economic, ethnologic and moral) supporting these stances are, then, underscored by specific in-depth analyses of Dissoi Logoi 1.3, 2.14 and 3.9, with a particular attention also to very similar passages from Herodotus and Euripides. Finally, conclusions are drawn as to the anonymous author’s overall view of death. His disbelief – in agreement with his sophistic relativism – in the possibility of general criteria of evaluation valid without exception enables him to reflect on this phenomenon in a less ambitious, but probably even more satisfactory, way than that of major ancient philosophers such as Plato or Epicurus.


I am a second year Ph.D. student at the Department of Classics and Ancient History, at Durham University. My field of research is ancient philosophy and my supervisors are Dr. Luca Castagnoli and Prof. George Boys-Stones. My project consists in a new edition of Δισσοὶ Λόγοι, with Greek text, running English translation and commentary. In line with Robinson’s previous work, 5 I consider the author to be a sophistic teacher and aim of my research is to discover the kind of teaching he offers to his his pupils. By doing that, I shall also demonstrate his intellectual qualities too often played down by scholars.

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