Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


Cebes was the name of two Greek philosophers.
  1. Cebes of Cyzicus, mentioned in Athenaeus (iv. 156 D), seems to have been a Stoic, who lived during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. Some would attribute to him the Tabula Cebetis (see below), but as that work was well known in the time of Lucian, it is probably to be placed earlier.
  2. Cebes of Thebes, a disciple of Socrates and Philolaus. He is one of the speakers in the Phaedo of Plato, in which he is represented as an earnest seeker after virtue and truth, keen in argument and cautious in decision. Three dialogues, the 'El3bbun, the 4p6vtxoc and the llivaE. or Tabula, are attributed to him by Suidas and Diogenes Laėrtius. The two former are lost, and most scholars deny the authenticity of the Tabula on the ground of material and verbal anachronisms. They attribute it either to Cebes of Cyzicus (above) or to an anonymous author, of the 1st century AD, who assumed the character of Cebes of Thebes. The work professes to be an interpretation of an allegorical picture in the temple of Cronus at Athens or Thebes. The author develops the Platonic theory of pre-existence, and shows that true education consists not in mere erudition, but rather in the formation of character.

The Tabula has been widely translated both into European languages and into Arabic (the latter version published with the Greek text and Latin translation by Salmasius in 1640). It is usually printed together with Epictetus. Separate editions by CS Jerram (with introduction and notes, 1878), C Prachter (1893), and many others. See Zeller's History of Greek Philosophy; F Klopfer, De Cebetis Tabula (1818-1822); C Prachter, Cebetis Tabula quanam aetate conscripta esse videatur (1885).