Text #9248"Aristo of Chios", in .
Aristo of Chios (fl. c. 260 BC) was a Stoic philosopher and colleague of Zeno of Citium. He outlined a system of Stoic philosophy that was, in many ways, closer to earlier Cynic philosophy. He rejected the logical and physical sides of philosophy endorsed by Zeno and emphasized ethics. Although agreeing with Zeno that Virtue was the supreme good, he rejected the idea that morally indifferent things such as health and wealth could be ranked according to whether they are naturally preferred. An important philosopher in his day, his views were eventually marginalized by Zeno’s successors.
Aristo, son of Miltiades, was born on the island of Chios sometime around 300 BC. He came to Athens where he attended the lectures of Zeno of Citium, and also, for a time, the lectures of Polemo, (the head of the Academy from 314 to 269 BC). Although he was a member of Zeno’s circle he soon departed from Zeno’s teachings, largely rejecting the two non-ethical parts of Stoic philosophy – physics and logic – endorsed by Zeno.
A man of persuasive eloquence, he was such a good speaker that he was called the Siren. He was also called Phalanthus, from his baldness. He set up his own school in the Cynosarges gymnasium (a place associated with Cynic philosophy) and attracted many pupils, so much so that when he was accused of exposing the dignity of philosophy by his freedom to all-comers, he answered, that “he wished that Nature had given understanding to wild beasts, that they too might be capable of being his hearers.” His followers called themselves Aristonians and included the scientist Eratosthenes and the Stoics: Apollophanes, Diphilus, and Miltiades.
He engaged in much debate with Arcesilaus, the leader of the Academy, defending Stoic epistemology against Arcesilaus’s skeptical views. On one occasion he accused Arcesilaus of being: “Plato in front, Pyrrho in back, and Diodorus in the middle.” meaning that he regarded Arcesilaus as being a chimera of three quite different philosophers.
In his old age, he apparently lapsed from the Stoic ideal, and would at times indulge in pleasure. It is not known when he died, but he is supposed to have died from sunstroke on account of his baldness.