Theophrastou Charaktēres Εthikoi = Theophrasti Characteres Ethici

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by Theophrastus

Thephrastou Charakteres Ethikoi
George Wythe bookplate.jpg
Title not held by The Wolf Law Library
at the College of William & Mary.
Author Theophrastus
Published Glasguae: Excudebant Robertus et Andreas Foulis
Date 1758
Volumes volume set

Theophrastus (c.371 – 287 BCE) was a Greek philosopher and zoologist, and successor of Aristotle. He was originally from Eresus, on Lesbos, and later moved to the Lyceum at Athens to study under Aristotle. Theophrastus developed upon Aristotle's ideas and arrived at independent conclusions. Unlike Aristotle, he retained a belief in the divinity of the heavens and the eternity of the universe.[1]

Theophrastus's Characters is his best-surviving work. It demonstrates Theophrastus's interest in human behavior and includes a series of sketches of 30 more or less undesirable types of personality. A unique feature of the Characters is its focus on superficial behavioral irregularities. Historians are not certain about Characters's purpose but have suggested that it may have been used to teach ethics, rhetoric or poetics, or may have been used as entertainment.[2] Overall, Theophrastus is better known for his botanical and philosophical treatises.

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as "Theophrasti careteres. Gr. Lat. 12mo. Foulis" This was one of the titles kept by Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson may have sold it the Library of Congress in 1815. Both George Wythe's Library[3] on LibraryThing and the Brown Bibliography[4] list the 1758 edition published in Glasgow based on the Jefferson copy at the Library of Congress.[5] While the copy still exists, it includes no definitive ties to Wythe. As of yet, the Wolf Law Library has been unable to procure a copy of Theophrastou Charaktēres Εthikoi.

See also


  1. Robert William Sharples, "Theophrastus," in Who's Who in the Classical World, ed. Simon Hornblower and Tony Spawforth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), accessed April 1, 2015.
  2. William W. Fortenbaugh, "Theophrastus, the Characters and Rhetoric," in Peripatetic Rhetoric After Aristotle, ed. William W. Fortenbaugh et. al. (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1994), 16.
  3. LibraryThing, s. v. "Member: George Wythe", accessed on February 2, 2015.
  4. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:
  5. E. Millicent Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, (Washington, D.C.: The Library of Congress, 1952-1959), 2:382 [no.2152].