Theophrastus, Enquiry into Plants, Volume I: Books 1-5

LCL 70: xx-xxi

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  • at Geneva in 1566.) The most accurate and brilliant scholar who has contributed to the elucidation of Theophrastus.
  • R. Const. Robertus Constantinus (see above). Added notes of his own, many of them valuable, which are given with Scaliger’s in Bodaeus’ edition.
  • Salm. Salmasius (Claude de Saumaise). Made many happy corrections of Theophrastus’ text in his Exercitationes Plinianae.
  • Palm. Jacobus Palmerius (Jacques de Paulmier). His Exercitationes in optimos auctores Graecos (Leyden, 1668) contain a certain number of acute emendations; Wimmer considers that he had a good understanding of Theophrastus’ style.
  • Meurs. Johannes Meursius (Jan de Meurs). Author of some critical notes on Theophrastus published at Leyden in 1640; also of a book on Crete.
  • Dalec. Jean Jacques D’Aléchamps: the botanist. Author of Historia plantarum universalis, Lyons, 1587, and editor of Pliny’s Natural History.
  • Mold. J. J. P. Moldenhauer. Author of Tentamen in Historiam plantarum Theophrasti, Hamburg, 1791. This book, which I have not been able to see and know only from Wimmer’s citations, contains, according to him, very valuable notes on the extremely difficult Introduction to the ‘Historia’ (Book I. chaps, i.–ii.).
II.—Theophrastus’ Life and Works

Such information as we possess concerning the life of Theophrastus comes mainly from Diogenes Laertius’ Lives of the Philosophers, compiled at least four hundred years after Theophrastus’ death; it is given therefore here for what it may be worth; there is no intrinsic improbability in most of what Diogenes records.

He was born in 370 b.c. at Eresos in Lesbos; at an early age he went to Athens and there became a pupil of Plato. It may be surmised that it was from him that he first learnt the importance of that principle of classification which runs through all his extant works, including even the brochure known as the ‘Characters’ (if it is rightly ascribed to him), and which is ordinarily considered as characteristic of the teaching of his second master Aristotle. But in Plato’s own later speculations classification had a very important place, since it was by grouping things in their ‘natural kinds’ that, according to his later metaphysic, men were to arrive at an adumbration of the ‘ideal forms’ of which these kinds are the phenomenal counterpart, and which constitute the world of reality. Whether Theophrastus gathered the principle of classification from Plato or from his fellow-pupil Aristotle, it appears in his hands to have been for the first time systematically applied to the vegetable world. Throughout his botanical