Leontion

Leontion (Latin: Leontium, Greek: Λεόντιον; fl. 300 BC) was a Greek Epicurean philosopher.

BiographyEdit

Leontion was a pupil of Epicurus and his philosophy. She was the companion of Metrodorus of Lampsacus.[1] The information we have about her is scant. She was said to have been a hetaera – a courtesan or prostitute.[2] This might be misogynistic or anti-Epicurean slander – though there is no evidence for such a claim. On the other hand, hetaerae often enjoyed an independence denied to most other women in the male-dominated society of ancient Greece. Epicurus' school was unusual in that it allowed women and even slaves to attend.

Diogenes Laërtius has preserved a line from a letter that Epicurus evidently wrote to Leontion, in which Epicurus praises her for her well-written arguments against certain philosophical views (which aren't mentioned in Diogenes' quote).[3] According to Pliny, she was painted by Aristides of Thebes in a work entitled "Leontion thinking of Epicurus."[4]

According to Cicero, Leontion is said to have published arguments criticizing the famous philosopher Theophrastus:

Leontium, that mere courtesan, who had the effrontery to write a riposte to Theophrastus – mind you, she wrote elegantly in good Attic, but still, this was the licence which prevailed in the Garden of Epicurus.[5]

Pliny also wondered at how a woman could possibly write against Theophrastus.[6]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Diogenes Laertius, x. 23
  2. ^ Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae, xiii. 588, 593
  3. ^ Diogenes Laertius, x. 5
  4. ^ Pliny, Nat. Hist., 35.99[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Cicero, De Natura Deorum i. 33/93.
  6. ^ Pliny, Nat. Hist., praefatio, 29[permanent dead link].