Zeno of Elea
Biography of Zeno of Elea
Zeno of Elea (ca. 490 BC – ca. 430 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher of southern Italy and a member of the Eleatic School founded by Parmenides. Aristotle called him the inventor of the dialectic. He is best known for his paradoxes, which Bertrand Russell has described as "immeasurably subtle and profound".
Little is known for certain about Zeno's life. Although written nearly a century after Zeno's death, the primary source of biographical information about Zeno is Plato's Parmenides dialogue. In the dialogue, Plato describes a visit to Athens by Zeno and Parmenides, at a time when Parmenides is "about 65," Zeno is "nearly 40" and Socrates is "a very young man". Assuming an age for Socrates of around 20, and taking the date of Socrates' birth as 469 BC gives an approximate date of birth for Zeno of 490 BC. Plato says that Zeno was "tall and fair to look upon" and was "in the days of his youth … reported to have been beloved by Parmenides."
Other perhaps less reliable details of Zeno's life are given by Diogenes Laërtius in his Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, where it is reported that he was the son of Teleutagoras, but the adopted son of Parmenides, was "skilled to argue both sides of any question, the universal critic," and that he was arrested and perhaps killed at the hands of a tyrant of Elea.
According to Plutarch, Zeno attempted to kill the tyrant Demylus, and failing to do so, "with his own teeth bit off his tongue, he spit it in the tyrant’s face."