He flourished about the forty-second Olympiad. Having lived more than seventy years, he died in the third year of the fifty-second Olympiad.
Pittacus agreed to meet him in single combat, and having a net under his shield, he entangled Phrynon without his being aware of it beforehand, and so, having killed him, he preserved the district in dispute to his countrymen.
In consequence of this victory the Mitylenaeans held Pittacus in the greatest honour, and committed the supreme power into his hands. And he held it for ten years, and then, when he had brought the city and constitution into good order, he resigned the government.
the Mitylenaeans assigned him an estate which he consecrated to the God, and to this day it is called the Pittacian land. But Sosicrates says that he cut off a small portion of it, saying that half was more than the whole; and when Croesus offered him some money he would not accept it as he said that he had already twice as much as he wanted
Pardon is better than punishment
He was also a law-giver; and he made a law that if a man committed a crime while drunk, he should have double punishment; in the hope of deterring men from getting drunk
It was a saying of his that it was a hard thing to be good, and this apophthegm is quoted by Simonides, who says, "It was a saying of Pittacus, that it is a hard thing to be really a good man."
Even the Gods cannot strive against necessity
Power shows the man
Being once asked what was best, he replied, "To do what one is doing at the moment well."
When Croesus put the question to him, "What is the greatest power?" "The power," he replied, "of the variegated wood," meaning the wooden tablets of the laws.
He used to say too, that there were some victories without bloodshed.
He said once to a man of Phocaea, who was saying that we ought to seek out a virtuous man, "But if you seek ever so much you will not find one."
Some people once asked him what thing was very grateful? and he replied, "Time."—What was uncertain? "The future."—What was trusty? "The land."—What was treacherous? "The sea"
Another saying of his was, that it was the part of wise men, before difficult circumstances arose, to provide for their not arising; but that it was the part of brave men to make the best of existing circumstances.
Do not say before hand what you are going to do; for if you fail, you will be laughed at.
Do not reproach a man with his misfortunes, fearing lest Nemesis may overtake you.
If you have received a deposit, restore it.
Forbear to speak evil not only of your friends, but also of your enemies.
Practise piety, with temperance.
Cultivate truth, good faith, experience, cleverness, sociability, and industry.
The wise will only face the wicked man, With bow in hand well bent, And quiver full of arrows— For such a tongue as his says nothing true, Prompted by a wily heart To utter double speeches.
Watch your opportunity.
once, when a young man consulted him on the subject of marriage, made him the following answer, which is thus given by Callimachus in his Epigrams.
Hyrradius' prudent son, old Pittacus The pride of Mitylene, once was asked By an Atarnean stranger; "Tell me, sage, I have two marriages proposed to me; One maid my equal is in birth and riches; The other's far above me; which is best? Advise me now which shall I take to wife?" Thus spoke the stranger; but the aged prince, Raising his old man's staff before his face, Said, "These will tell you all you want to know;" And pointed to some boys, who with quick lashes Were driving whipping tops along the street. "Follow their steps," said he; so he went near them And heard them say, "Let each now mind his own."— So when the stranger heard the boys speak thus, He pondered on their words, and laid aside Ambitious thoughts of an unequal marriage. As then he took to shame the poorer bride, So too do you, O reader, mind thy own.
And it seems that he may have here spoken from experience, for his own wife was of more noble birth than himself, since she was the sister of Draco, the son of Penthilus; and she gave herself great airs, and tyrannized over him.
He used to grind corn for the sake of exercise, as Clearchus, the philosopher, relates.
PITTACUS TO CROESUS. You invite me to come to Lydia in order that I may see your riches; but I, even without seeing them, do not doubt that the son of Alyattes is the richest of monarchs. But I should get no good by going to Sardis; for I do not want gold myself, but what I have is sufficient for myself and my companions. Still, I will come, in order to become acquainted with you as a hospitable man.
The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, by Diogenes Laertius, Literally translated by C.D. Yonge. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853