Its stories and quips, its quotations and insights are central to European literature. Thus a modern reader can—like Montaigne, who loved the book—still read Diogenes for intellectual entertainment, especially in this magnificent new edition packed with illustrations and notes. Its extensive appendix, moreover, adds learned background essays...as well as a detailed guide to further reading ... Above all else, Diogenes humanizes otherwise Olympian thinkers ... this isn’t just a book to read—it’s a book to return to, a book that will provide perspective and consolation at times of heartbreak or calamity.
Diogenes Laertius compiled the sole extant work from antiquity that gives anything like a comprehensive picture of Greek and Hellenistic philosophy ... other sources are lost, which makes what Diogenes Laertius left behind, to quote the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 'truly priceless' ... But why a new translation? ... this one by Pamela Mensch, a distinguished translator of ancient Greek, is superior in three respects. First, it is based on a more accurate edition of the Greek text ... Second, Mensch avoids the bowdlerization that the Hicks translation was often guilty of ... Third, the Mensch translation is furnished with a weighty apparatus of footnotes that are delightfully revealing of Greek history and folkways ... Other virtues of this new edition of Lives include the hundreds of philosophy-inspired artworks with which the editor has chosen to adorn the text...and sixteen superb essays by such scholars as Anthony Grafton, Ingrid Rowland, and Glenn W. Most.
A sustained reading of Diogenes Laertius—and if this magnificent, lavishly-illustrated edition doesn't prompt such a reading, nothing will—certainly conveys the impression that he was all the worst of the things that have been said about him over the centuries: a clod, a gossip, and perhaps the person least likely in the whole world to ask the question 'What is philosophy?' But his book nevertheless survives, and as Mensch's shining new translation reinforces, there are very good reasons for this. He's never boring. He's interested in everything. And—it's always a bit of a surprise—he's also got a sly, sharp humor about him. Some of his quick asides about some of these characters appear flighty but are in fact merrily merciless, plying one paper-thin cut on top of another until the subject is bled dry ... Lives of the Eminent Philosophers has the loveliest and most formidable English-language rendition it's ever received or is likely to receive.