The seven wise men
of antiquity who lived in Greek territories in the 6th century BC
and became known for their social or political wisdom and prudence
of Sparta and
Thales of Miletus. 624-549 BC.
Regarded as being
the founder of the Ionian School of philosophy. Thalis was the
first to renounce the religious and mythological explanations
of the world and its phenomena that had prevailed up to that
time by declaring water to be the elementary cosmic substance
out of which all others are formed.
His Life and work.
Thalis believed that matter, of which the universe is made,
is subject to constant changes that are brought about by the
gods, powerful beings inherent in ever y particle of matter.
He also sought a single elementary cosmic matter as the base
of the diversity of nature, and declared this to be water. Most
of the information we have about the life and work of Thalis
of Miletus is from the writings of the ancient Greek historian
Diogenes Laertius. The appellation «Wise Man» (Sophos) initially
applied to Thales and six other Greek men was derived from a
term that then designated inventiveness and practical wisdom
rather than speculative insight.
ΧΑΛΕΠΟΝ ΕΑΥΤΟΝ ΓΝΩΝΑΙ
Its is difficult to know your self
Ο ΜΕΛΛΕΙΣ ΠΟΙΕΙΝ
ΜΗ ΛΕΓΕ, ΑΠΟΤΥΧΩΝ ΓΑΡ ΚΑΤΑΓΕΛΑΣΘΗΣΗΣ
Speak not about what you will do in the future, for if you
fall you will be ridiculed.
is said to have had extensive knowledge of mathematics, astronomy
and physics. To him we owe a number of theorems in geometry
such as that opposite angles are equal when two straight lines
intersect, that the angles at the base of a n isosceles triangle
are equal, that the angle inscribed in a semicircle is a right
angle, and others. Thalis was also an important astronomer.
According to Eudemus of Rhodes, in his History of Astronomy,
Thales was the first to speak of eclipses of the sun and established
the solstices. Herodotus reported that Thalis's predicted the
solar eclipse of 585 BC, when a battle was taking place between
the Lydians and the Persians. Thales likewise had some knowledge
of mechanics. To enable Cyrus's army to cross the River Halys,
wrote Herodotus, Thales shifted the bed of the river in such
a way that Croesus' army was on the other side.
Thales was the
first known scientist in the world in the full sense of the
word. The ancient Greeks believed that it was Thales who introduced
geometry into the Aegean world. He won the profound esteem of
his contemporaries for his sagacity. An epigram was carved on
his tomb in Miletus that began with a phrase:''
ολιγον τοδε σημα, το δε κλεος ουρανομηκες'' meaning;
This grave may be small, but its glory reaches heaven".
SOLON OF ATHENS.640/558 BC
law regarding apathetic citizens.
Of all Solon's
laws, the most characteristic and strange is the law stipulating
that in the event of civil unrest in the city, every man had
to side with a faction, otherwise he would lose his civil rights.
It seems that Solon did not want a single citizen to be indifferent
to public issues, or to seek only his own interests, or to take
pride in the fact that the sufferings of his homeland cause
him no pain. On the contrary, Solon wanted the citizen to take
a position at the outset alongside those he believed to be acting
most correctly and justly, and to take a risk and help them
instead of waiting to see who would win.
ΣΥΜΒΟΥΛΕΥΕ ΜΗ ΤΑ ΗΔΙΣΤΑ ΑΛΛΑ ΤΑ ΑΡΙΣΤΑ
Do not advise the pleasant but the proper
Poet, legislator and philosopher, Solon came from a noble family,
and as a young man; maintained himself as a merchant. He traveled
far and wide on his own ship, educating himself and making money.
But he considered earthly goods in the right light: he believed
that people who have "piles of gold and silver, fruitful fields,
horses and mules" were as happy as those who have "nothing but
their health -a strong stomach, a strong body and legs- and
when the time comes, a pretty wife. Thus their happiness is
complete". But this wise man did not disdain the joys of life:
"The works of Dionysus and the Muses, a source of delight to
men, this is what I like!"
In 594 BC, in recognition of his services in recapturing the
island of Salamis from the Megarians, the Athenians elected
Solon to the position of Archon with unlimited powers and with
a mandate to exercise economic and social reforms. Because the
land was concentrated in the hands of a few, the poorer classes
kept multiplying and falling deeper in debt, and discontent
was rife in the state. Solon undertook this high mission and
succeeded in instituting laws and establishing social measures
that constituted a historic landmark in the city of Athens,
creating the conditions necessary for its subsequent glory.
his mature poetry he called upon his fellow citizens to take
bold actions, emphasising their patriotism
Among the measures
he took were:
1) to abolish debts through the Seisachtheia ("shaking off burdens"),
a law that canceled loans granted on the property or person
of the borrower. He then set free people whose debts had reduced
them to slavery.
2) to lay down a new basis for distinguishing citizens into
four classes with different rights: the wealthy Pentacosiomedimni,
the horsemen Hippeis, the Zeugites who tilled the land, and
the Thetes who were servants, etc., according to each one's
property e and income rather than his family origin, as had
been the case hitherto.
3) to prohibit the export of cereals from Attica, since it could
not feed its own people, although he permitted the export of
oil which was abundant.
4) to take economic measures to bridge the gap between the aristocracy
and the lower social classes.
5) to encourage the settlement of metoikoi (emigrants).
6) to grant the right by law to those who had no descendants
to dispose of their property as they wished, i.e. the division
of family lands.
7) to make provision by law to oblige citizens to adhere to
one or the other faction in a civil dispute under penalty of
losing their rights.
8) to grant amnesty to all exiled Athenians.
9) to pass a law allowing any citizen to bring charges against
another who damaged the honor, life and property of a third
ΓΗΡΑΣΚΩ Δ'ΑΕΙ ΠΟΛΛΑ ΔΙΔΑΣΚΟΜΕΝΟΣ
The older I become the more I learn
BIAS OF PRIENE. 6TH C. BC
ΕΦΟΔΙΟΝ ΑΠΟ ΝΕΟΤΗΤΟΣ ΕΙΣ ΓΗΡΑΣ ΑΝΑΛΑΜΒΑΝΕ
ΣΟΦΙΑΝ ΒΕΒΑΙΟΤΕΡΟΝ ΓΑΡ ΤΟΥΤΟ ΤΩΝ ΑΛΛΩΝ ΚΤΗΜΑΤΩΝ
His life and work.
Provide yourself with wisdom from youth to old age,
because it is more lasting possession than anything else.
Bias was born in Priene, a town north of Miletus in lonia, Asia
Minor, which maintained links with Thebes. In it the main sanctuary
of the lonians was located.
ΠΕΙΣΑΣ ΛΑΒΕ ΜΗ ΒΙΑΣΑΜΕΝΟΣ
Take by persuasion not force
He was renowned
for his wisdom, his flawless judicial judgment and his eloquence.
He defended in court those who had been unjustly treated, and
indeed without fee. When he was obliged to sentence someone
to death, he would weep. It is said that when Alyattes, king
of Lydia, laid siege to Priene, Bias let loose two well-fed
mules into Atyattes' camp. The latter, seeing the mules, was
astonished at their excellent condition and concluded that for
livestock to be so well fed, the inhabitants must be living
under very good conditions. To verify this, he sent a messenger
into the city. Then Bias ordered piles of sand to be created,
and wheat to be poured on top of them, which he then showed
to the emissary. When Alyapes learned about this, he sought
peace with Priene.
Bias died at the age of 80 as he was speaking in the court.
He was honored by a splendid funeral and a sanctuary called
Teutaminum was dedicated to him .
CLEOBOULOS OF RHODES. 6th C. BC
His Life and work.
Cleoboulos was the tyrant (a word which in antiquity meant absolute
ruler) of Rhode~ (Lindos) and one of the seven sages of ancient
Greece. He lived in the 6th century BC, but we do not know exactly
when he was born or when he died. His father boasted that his
family was descended from Hercules. He was distinguished for
his physical strength and handsome appearance. He had traveled
widely and was well acquainted with Egyptian philosophy. He
wrote poetry riddles and epigrams. He had a daughter, Cleobouline,
who was a writer of riddles and hexameter poems. Cleobouline
was discussed by Cratinus in his work entitled Cleobulinae.
Cleoboulus refurbished the sanctuary of Athena that had been
built by Danaus.
Of all the riddles for which Cleoboulus was famed, only the
following one has been preserved, the answer to which is time:
"The father is one and his children twelve. Each of the children
has twice thirty daughters who have a different appearance.
Some are white others black some are immortal while others die
ΕΥΤΥΧΩΝ ΜΗ ΙΣΘΙ ΥΠΕΡΗΦΑΝΟΣ ΑΠΟΡΗΣΑΣ ΜΗ ΤΑΠΕΙΝΟΥ
Show not pride when wealthy, nor under servility
Hold your tongue
Measure in all things
OF SPARTA. 6th C. BC.
His Life and work.
Chilon lived in the 6th century BC. He was the son of Damagetus
and his family was ~. from Sparta (Lacedaemon). What ranked
Chilon among the Seven Sages was his reformof the institutions
established by Lycurgus on the basis of this reform, power was
given to the ephors. Under the laws of Lycurgus, the ephors
were mere assistants to the two basileis (or kings), without
any particular politician role.
But Chilon, cleverly
taking advantage of the current situation, had the ephors made
deputies of the basileis/kings when the latter were absent,
or when the kingdom was "lame", i.e. when one of the two basileis/kings
could not exercise power, or when they disagreed about something.
Chilon wrote about two hundred elegiac verses and said that
the great virtue of man was prudence and well-grounded judgment
as to future events. The characteristic feature of Chilon was
the laconic way in which he expressed his philosophical convictions.
He believed the most difficult things for man to do were to
keep secrets, to control his nerves and to 'suffer injustice.
Tradition tells us that Chilon died of great joy when he heard
that his son had won a contest in the Olympic Games. The inscription
on his tomb concludes with the words: "We too would be fortunate
to have such a death".
ΤΑΧΥΤΕΡΟΝ ΕΠΙ ΤΑΣ ΑΤΥΧΙΑΣ ΤΩΝ ΦΙΛΩΝ Η ΕΠΙ
ΤΑΣ ΕΥΤΥΧΙΑΣ ΠΟΡΕΥΕΣΘΑΙ
Tread more rapidly through the misfortunes of your
friends than through their good fortune
PERIANDER OF CORINTH. 668-584 BC His
life and work.
Periander was tyrant of Corinth for 40 years. He succeeded the
tyranny of his father Cypselus. To consolidate his power, he
did not hesitate to commit the most heinous crimes. It is said,
for example, that in a moment of anger, he killed his own wife,
thus coming into conflict with his father-in- law, Proclus,
tyrant of Epidavrus, whose territory he eventually seized.
It is also possible that his reputation as a cruel despot may
have stemmed largely from the Corinthian nobility whom he treated
ΜΑΛΕΤΗ ΤΟ ΠΑΝ
Attention is everything
What is certain
is that Periander, through his firm and effective rule, became
famous as the founder of Corinthian greatness. He worked hard
to increase its power and prosperity. He enacted brilliant measures
to protect and promote Corinthian trade, making it the major
maritime power of the age. Under his rule, Corinth reached the
height of its political power, established the colonies of Apollonia,
Epidaumnus and Potidaea, and annexed Corfu. From the economic
point of view, under Periander's rule, Corinth was the most
important city in Greece, with its industry and trade reaching
unprecedented heights. Periander restricted luxury and prohibited
the purchase of slaves. He also introduced drastic legislation
against idleness, luxury and vice. He took
care to develop shipping. He even thought of cutting through
the isthmus of Corinth, but was obliged to abandon this plan
owing to the lack of engineering resources. Periander, patron
of poets and artists, is reputed to have been the author of
a collection of maxims in 2000 verses.
ΜΗΔΕΝ ΧΡΗΜΑΤΩΝ ΕΝΕΚΑ ΠΡΑΤΤΕΙΝ
Do nothing for the sake of money.