Dionysius the Renegade


Dionysius the Renegade (Greek: Διονύσιος ὁ Μεταθέμενος; c. 330 BC – c. 250 BC[1]), also known as Dionysius of Heraclea, was a Stoic philosopher and pupil of Zeno of Citium who, late in life, abandoned Stoicism when he became afflicted by terrible pain.


He was the son of Theophantus. In early life he was a disciple of Heraclides, Alexinus, and Menedemus, and afterwards of Zeno, who appears to have induced him to adopt Stoicism.[2] At a later time he was afflicted with terrible eye pain,[3] which caused him to abandon Stoic philosophy, and to join the Cyrenaics, whose doctrine, that hedonism and the absence of pain was the highest good, had more charms for him than the austere ethics of Stoicism.[4] This renunciation of his former philosophical creed drew upon him the nickname of The Renegade (Greek: μεταθέμενος, Metathemenos). During the time that he was a Stoic, he was praised for his modesty, abstinence, and moderation, but afterwards he was described as a person greatly given to sensual pleasures. He died, in his eightieth year, of voluntary starvation.[4]


Diogenes Laërtius mentions a series of works of Dionysius, all of which are lost:

  • Περὶ ἀπαθείας - On Apathy, in two books.
  • Περὶ ἀσκήσεως - On Training, in two books.
  • Περὶ ἡδονῆς - On Pleasure, in four books.
  • Περὶ πλούτου καὶ χάριτος καὶ τιμωρίας - On Riches, and Favours, and Revenge.
  • Περὶ ἀνθρώπων χρήσεως - On the Use of Men.
  • Περὶ εὐτυχίας - On Good Fortune.
  • Περὶ ἀρχαίων βασιλέων - On Ancient Kings.
  • Περὶ τῶν ἐπαινουμένων - On Things which are Praised.
  • Περὶ βαρβαρικῶν ἐθῶν - On Barbarian Customs.


  1. ^ Dorandi 1999, p. 50.
  2. ^ Laërtius 1925, § 166.
  3. ^ Laërtius 1925, § 166; Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, ii. 25
  4. ^ a b Laërtius 1925, § 167.


  • Dorandi, Tiziano (1999). "Chapter 2: Chronology". In Algra, Keimpe; et al. (eds.). The Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 50. ISBN 9780521250283.
  • Wikisource-logo.svg Laërtius, Diogenes (1925). "The Stoics: Dionysius" . Lives of the Eminent Philosophers. Vol. 2:7. Translated by Hicks, Robert Drew (Two volume ed.). Loeb Classical Library. § 166–167.