And he is said to have told the Lacedaemonians to honour neither gold nor silver

And Ion, the Chian, says of him: Adorned with valour while alive, and modesty, Now that he's dead he still exists in peace; For, like the wise Pythagoras, he studied The manners and the minds of many nations.

This then is surely true, That those who're really wise Are useful while alive, And e'en when breath has left them.

PHERECYDES TO THALES. May you die happily when fate overtakes you. Disease has seized upon me at the same time that I received your letter. I am all over lice, and suffering likewise under a low fever. Accordingly, I have charged my servants to convey this book of mine to you, after they have buried me. And do you, if you think fit, after consulting with the other wise men, publish it; but if you do not approve of doing so, then keep it unpublished, for I am not entirely pleased with it myself. The subject is not one about which there is any certain knowledge, nor do I undertake to say that I have arrived at the truth; but I have advanced arguments, from which any one who occupies himself with speculations on the divine nature, may make a selection; and as to other points, he must exercise his intellect, for I speak obscurely throughout. I, myself, as I am afflicted more severely by this disease every day, no longer admit any physicians, or any of my friends. But when they stand at the door, and ask me how I am, I put out my finger to them through the opening of the door, and show them how I am eaten up with the evil; and I desired them to come to-morrow to the funeral of Pherecydes.

The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, by Diogenes Laertius, Literally translated by C.D. Yonge. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853

Back To Top

Back to Collected Wisdom

Home Page