As you continue to explore the ins and outs of the Seven Sages of Greece, you will now encounter the background information of Pittacus of Mytilene, who has an entertaining tale on how he was able to become ruler of a city. This article also mentions Periander of Corinth, who earned the title of tyrant , following in the steps of his father.
Pittacus of Mytilene , (640 – 568 BC)
This native of Mytilene and son of Hyrradius would grow into one of the Seven Sages of Greece. After serving in the Mytilenaean army as a general, Pittacus captured the respect of his peers after gaining a victory in battle against the Athenians. After the win, Pittacus was held in the greatest honor and was offered a great deal of power. He would reign for ten years before he decided to resign his position. During this time, the city and all those involved with brought into a good light and standing.
A tale associated with Pittacus’ greatness deals with an impending attack on his city, as the Athenians advanced closer and closer. Pittacus posed a single-combat challenge to the General with the understanding that whatever happened in the end would decide the war. It was his hope to avoid any unnecessary bloodshed. The General accepted the challenge and Pittacus took down his enemy using a sword. He became the chosen ruler of his city and then governed for ten years.
Interestingly, while in charge , he used poetry to shape his laws. One of laws included: “A crime committed by a person when drunk should receive double the punishment which it would merit if the offender were sober.” A renowned motto was: “Do not to your neighbor what you would take ill from him.” Other sayings of Pittacus include:
“Know thine opportunity”
“Whatever you do, do it well.”
“Do not reproach a man with his misfortunes, fearing lest Nemesis may overtake you.”
“Forbear to speak evil not only of your friends, but also of your enemies.”
“Cultivate truth, good faith, experience, cleverness, sociability, and industry.”
“Even the Gods cannot strive against necessity.”
“Power shows the man.”
“Do not say before hand what you are going to do; for if you fail, you will be laughed at.”
Periander of Corinth ,
In Corinth, Greece , Periander (the son of the first tyrant by the name of Cypselus) became the second tyrant during the 7th century BC and succeeded his father in 627 BC. In history, the man earned respect in many different fields, but according to Herodotus , it was Periander who held a musical contest in which the poet Arion took home first prize. He is also listed as inventing a sort of railway associated with horse-drawn contraptions. To better understand some of Periander’s principles , consider the following quotes attributed to him:
“Be moderate in prosperity, prudent in adversity.”
“Practice is everything.” (which is often misquoted as ‘practice makes perfect.”)
“Forethought in all things”