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The challenge was accepted. Pittacus was victorious, and killed his adversary. The Mitylenians, out of gratitude, with unanimous consent conferred the sovereignty of the city upon him; which he accepted, and behaved himself with so much moderation and wisdom, that he was always respected and beloved by his subjects.

In the meantime, Alcæus, who was a declared enemy to all tyrants, did not spare Pittacus in his verses, notwithstanding the mildness of his government and temper, but inveighed severely against him. The poet fell afterwards into Pittacus's hands, who was so far from taking revenge, that he gave him his liberty, and showed by that act of clemency and generosity, that he was only a tyrant in name.

After having governed 10 years with great equity and wisdom, he voluntarily resigned his authority, and retired. • He used to say, that the proof of a good government was, to engage the subjects, not to be afraid of their prince, but to be afraid for him. It was a maxim with him, that no man should ever give himself the liberty of speaking ill of a friend, or even of an enemy. He died in the 52d Olympiad.

BIAS. We know but very little of Bias. He obliged Alyattus, king of Lydia, by a stratagem, to raise the siege of Priene, where he was born. The city was hard pressed with famine; upon which he caused two mules to be fattened, and contrived a way to have them pass into the enemy's camp. The good condition they were in astonished the king, who thereupon sent deputies into the city, upon pretense of offering terms of peace, but really to observe the state of the town and people. Bias guessing their errand, ordered the granaries to be filled with great heaps of sand, and those heaps to be covered over with corn. When the deputies returned, and made report to the king of the great plenty of provisions they had seen in the city, he hesitated no longer, but concluded a treaty, and raised the siege.

One of the maxims Bias particularly taught and recommended, was to do all the good we can, and ascribe all the glory of it to the gods.

CLEOBULUS. We know as little of this wise man as of the former. He was born at Lindos, a town in the isle of Rhodes ; or, as some will have it, in Caria. He invited Solon to come and live with him, when Pisistratus had usurped the sovereignty of Athens.

PERIANDER. He was numbered among the wise men, though he was a tyrant of Corinth. When he had first made himself master of that city, he writ to Thrasybulis, « Εἰ τὰς ὑπηκόες ὁ αρχών παρασκευάσειε φοβεῖσθαι μὴ αὐτόν, ἀλλ ̓ ὑπὲρ gure. Plut. in Conv. sept. sap. p. 152.

ὁ Ο, τι ἂν ἀγαθὸν πράττης, εἰς θεὸς ἀνάπεμπε.

tyrant of Miletus, to know what measures he should take with his new-acquired subjects. The latter, without any other answer, led the messenger into a field of wheat, where, in walking along, he beat down with his cane all the ears of corn that were higher than the rest. Periander perfectly well understood the meaning of this enigmatical answer, which was a tacit intimation to him, that, in order to secure his own life, he should cut off the most eminent of the Corinthian citizens. But if we may believe Plutarch, Periander did not relish so cruel an advice.


He writ circular letters to all the wise men, inviting them to pass some time with him at Corinth, as they had done the year before at Sardis with Croesus. Princes in those days thought themselves much honoured, when they could have such guests in their houses. Plutarch describes an entertainment which Periander gave these illustrious guests; and observes, at the same time, that the decent simplicity of it, adapted to the taste and character of the persons entertained, did him much more honour, than the greatest magnificence could have done. The subject of their discourse at table was sometimes grave and serious, and sometimes pleasant and gay. One of the company proposed this question: which is the most perfect popular government? that, answered Solon, where an injury done to any private citizen is such to the whole body: that, says Bias, where the law has no superior: that, says Thales, where the inhabitants are neither too rich, nor too poor: that, says Anacharsis, where virtue is honoured and vice detested: says Pittacus, where dignities are always conferred upon the virtuous, and never upon the wicked: says Cleobulus, where the citizens fear blame more than punishment: says Chilo, where the laws are more regardei, and have more authority than the orators. From all these opinions Periander concluded, that the most perfect popular government would be that which came nearest to aristocracy, where the sovereign authority is lodged in the hands of a few men of honour and virtue.

Whilst these wise men were assembled togther at Periander's court, a courier arrived from Amasis king of Egypt, with a letter for Bias, with whom that king kept a close correspondence. The purport of this letter was, to consult him how he should answer a proposal made him by the king of Ethiopia, of his drinking up the the sea; in which case the Ethiopian king promised to resign to him a certain number of cities in his dominions: but if he did not do it, then he, Amasis, was to give up the same number of his cities to the king of Ethiopia. It was usual in those days for princes to propound such enigmatical and puzzling questions to one ana In Conv. sept. sap. b Diog. Laert. in vit. Perian. c In Conv. sept. sap

other. Bias answered him directly, and advised him to accept the offer, on the condition that the king of Ethiopia would stop all the rivers that flow into the sea; for the business was only to drink up the sea, and not the rivers. We find an answer to the same effect ascribed to Æsop.

I must not here forget to take notice, that these wise men, of whom I have been speaking, were all lovers of poetry, and composed verses themselves, some of them a considerable number, upon subjects of morality and policy, which are certainly topics not unworthy of the muses. ❝ Solon, however, is reproached for having written some licentious verses; which may teach us what judgment we ought to form of these pretended wise men of the Pagan world.

Instead of some of these seven wise men which I have mentioned, some people have substituted others; as Anacharis, for example, Myso, Epimenides, Pherecydes. The first of these is the most known in story.

ANACHARSIS. Long before Solon's time, the Nomades Scythians were in great reputation for their simplicity, frugality, temperance, and justice. Homer calls them a very just nation. Anacharsis was one of these Scythians, and of the royal family. A certain Athenian, once in company with Anacharsis, reproached him with his country. My country, you think, replied Anacharsis, is no great honour to me; and you, Sir, are no great honour to your country. His good sense, profound knowledge, and great experience, made him pass for one of the seven wise men. He writ a treatise in verse upon the art military, and composed another tract on the laws of Scythia.

He used to make visits to Solon. It was in a conversation with him, that he compared laws to cobwebs, which entangle only little flies, whilst wasps and hornets break through them.

Being inured to the austere and poor life of the Scythians, he set little value upon riches. Croesus invited him to come and see him, and without doubt hinted to him, that he was able to mend his fortune. "I have no occasion for your gold," said the Scythian in his answer, "I came into Greece only "to enrich my mind, and improve my understanding; I "shall be very well satisfied, if I return into my own country, not with an addition to my wealth, but with an increase "of knowledge and virtue." However, Anacharsis accepted the invitation, and went to that prince's court.

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We have already observed that sop was much surprised and dissatisfied at the cold and indifferent manner in which Solon viewed the magnificence of the palace, and the

a Plut. in Solon. p. 79.

e Plut. in Conv. sept. sap. p. 155.

b Iliad. 1. xi. ver. č.

vast treasures of Croesus; because it was the master, and not the house, that the philosopher wished to have reason to admire. "Certainly," says Anacharsis to Æsop on that occasion, "you have forgotten your own fable of the fox "and panther. The latter, as her highest merit, could only "show her fine skin, beautifully marked and spotted with "different colours: the fox's skin, on the contrary, was very "plain, but contained within it a treasure of subtilties, and "stratagems of infinite value. This very image," contained the Scythian, "shows me your own character. You "are affected with a splendid outside, whilst you pay little or no regard to what is truly the man, that is, to that which "is in him, and consequently properly his."

This would be the proper place for an epitome of the life and sentiments of Pythagoras, who flourished in the time of which I have been speaking: but this I defer till I come to another volume, wherein I design to join a great many philosophers together, in order to give the reader the better opportunity of comparing their respective doctrines and tenets.

ESOP. I join Æsop with the wise men of Greece: not only because he was often amongst them, but because he taught true wisdom with far more art than they do who teach it by rules and definitions.

Æsop was by birth a Phrygian. As to his mind, he had abundance of wit; but with regard to his body, he was hunchbacked, little, crooked, deformed, and withal of a very uncomely countenance; having scarce the figure of a man ; and, for a very considerable time, almost without the use of speech. As to his condition of life, he was a slave; and the merchant who had bought him, found it very difficult to get him off his hands, so extremely were people shocked at his unsightly figures and deformity.

The first master he had, sent him to labour in the field; whether it was that he thought him incapable of any better employment, or only to remove so disagreeable an object out of his sight.

He was afterwards sold to a philosopher, named Xanthus. I should never have done, should I relate all the strokes of wit, the sprightly repartees, and the arch and humorous circumstances of his words and behaviour. One day his master, designing to treat some of his friends, ordered sop to provide the best things he could find in the market. Æsop bought nothing but tongues, which he desired the cook to a Esopus ille e Phrygia tabulator, haud immerito sapiens existimatus est: cum que utilia monitu suasusque erant, non severe, non imperiose præcepit et censuit, ut phil sophis mos est, sed festivos delectabilesque apologos commentus, res subriter ac prospicienter animadversas, in mentes animosque homigum, cum audiendi quadani illecebra inggit. Aul. Gell. Noct. Att i. ii, c. 29.

serve up with different sauces. When dinner came, the first and second course, the side dishes, and the removes, were tongues. Did I not order you, says Xanthus in a violent passion, to buy the best victuals the market afforded? And have I not obeyed your orders? says Æsop. Is there any thing better than a tongue? Is not the tongue the bond of civil society, the key of sciences, and the organ of truth and reason? By means of the tongue cities are built, and governments established and administered: with that men instruct, persuade, and preside in assemblies: it is the instrument by which we acquit ourselves of the chief of all our duties, the praising and adoring the gods. Well, then, replied Xanthus, thinking to catch him, go to market again tomorrow, and buy me the worst things you can find. same company will dine with me, and I have a mind to diversify my entertainment. Æsop, the next day, provided nothing but the very same dishes; telling his master that the tongue was the worst thing in the world. It is, says he, the instrument of all strife and contention, the fomenter of law-suits, and the source of divisions and wars; it is the organ of error, of lies, calumny, and blasphemy.


Esop found it very difficult to obtain his liberty. One of the first uses he made of it was to go to Croesus, who, on account of his great reputation and fame, had been long desirous to see him. The strange deformity of Æsop's person shocked the king at first, and much abated the good opinion he had conceived of him. But the beauty of his mind soon discovered itself through the coarse veil that covered it; and Croesus found, as sop said on another occasion, that we ought not to consider the form of the vessel, but the quality of the liquor it contains.

a He made several voyages into Greece, either for pleasure or upon the affairs of Croesus. Being at Athens a short time after Pisistratus had usurped the sovereignty, and abolished the popular government, and observing that the Athemans bore this new yoke with great impatience, he repeated to them the fable of the frogs who demanded a king from Jupiter.

It is doubted whether the fables of Æsop, such as we have them, are all his, at least in regard to the expression. Great part of them are ascribed to Planudes, who wrote his life, and lived in the 14th century.

Æsop is reckoned the author and inventor of this simple and natural manner of conveying instruction by tales and fables; in which light Pnædrus speaks of him:

a Phædr. 1. i. fab. 2.

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