Chrysippus, an ancient Athenian philosopher, died from laughing at one of his own jokes.


Chrysippus excelled in logic, the theory of knowledge, ethics and physics. He created an original system of propositional logic in order to better understand the workings of the universe and role of humanity within it. He adhered to a deterministic view of fate, but nevertheless sought a role for personal freedom in thought and action. Ethics, he thought, depended on understanding the nature of the universe, and he taught a therapy of extirpating the unruly passions which depress and crush the soul. He initiated the success of Stoicism as one of the most influential philosophical movements for centuries in the Greek and Roman world.

He died during the 143rd Olympiad (208–204 BC) at the age of 73. Diogenes Laërtius gives two different accounts of his death. In the first account, Chrysippus was seized with dizziness having drunk undiluted wine at a feast, and died soon after. In the second account, he was watching a donkey eat some figs and cried out: “Now give the donkey a drink of pure wine to wash down the figs”, whereupon he died in a fit of laughter. His nephew Aristocreon erected a statue in his honour in the Kerameikos. Chrysippus was succeeded as head of the Stoic school by his pupil Zeno of Tarsus.

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