Lives of the Eminent Philosophers: Chilon to Pherecydes
[Previous installments: Thales; Solon.]
Frog: Hello Toad! Have you yet read the rest of Book 1 of the Lives?
Frog: Toad? What is wrong?
Toad: You and I chose to read Lives of the Eminent Philosophers to learn about eminent philosophers. None of these people are philosophers. It is boring.
Frog: Toad, you must read it again. It is brimming with wisdom. Did you not notice? It has been a week but still I remember these maxims:
Do not speak ill of the dead. Honor old age. Do not laugh at another’s misfortune. (Chilon) It is hard to be good. (Pittacus) Prefer knowledge to ignorance. (Cleobulus) Keep your promises. (Periander)
Toad: There is too much advice. Sage sayings do not make you a philosopher. And some of these philosophers’ “maxims” do not inspire trust. Chilon may have said “Remain calm,” but he also said “When speaking, do not gesticulate; for that is a sign of madness.” And I see you did not quote Bias, who said “men should love their friends as if they would one day hate them, since the majority of men are bad.”
Frog: Well that is because the story of Bias made me sad.
Toad: But Frog, that was the best one. Remember how he died: in a trial, Bias
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