, a celebrated Greek philosopher of Abdera, is said by some to have been the son of a rich Thracian, but by others to have been of low birth, and to have followed the trade of a porter. He was instructed in philosophy by Democritns, and, though his genius was rather subtle than solid, taught at Athens with great reputation but was at length driven from thence on account of his impiety, for he questioned the existence of a deity, and had begun one of his books with the following impious expressions “I cannot tell whether there are any Gods, or not many circumstances concur to prevent my knowing it, as the uncertainty of the thing in itself, and the shortness of human life.” This book, which was publicly burnt, having occasioned his banishment from Athens, he then visited the islands of the Mediterranean, and lived many years in Epirus. Protagoras is said to have been the first philosopher who received money for teaching. He flourished about 6 19 B. C. and died at a very advanced age, as he was going into Sicily. His usual method of reasoning was by Dilemmas, leaving the mind in suspense concerning all the questions which he proposed on which subject the following story is told of a rich young man named Evathlus. This youth, having been received as his disciple, for a large sum, half of which he paid at first, and was to pay the remainder when he had gained his first cause, remained a long time in our philosopher’s school, without troubling himself either about pleadiig or paying, which induced Protagoras to commence a law-suit for his money. When they came before the judges, the young man defended himself by saying, that he had not yet gained any cause upon which Protagoras proposed this dilemma: “If I gain my cause, thou wilt be sentenced to pay me, and if thou gainest it, tbou art in my debt, according to our agreement.” But, Evathlus, well instructed by his master, retorted the dilemma upon him thus “If the judges release me I owe thee nothing, and if they order me to pay the money, then I owe thee nothing, according to our agreement, for I shall not have gained my cause.” The judges, it is added, were so embarrassed by these quibbles, that | they left the matter undecided. This story has the appearance of a fiction, but Protagoras certainly made it his business to furnish subtle arguments to dazzle and blind the judges, nor was he ashamed to profess himself ready to teach the means of making the worse cause appear the better. 1


Stanley’s Hist, of Philosophy. -—Brucker. —Dict. Hist.