Bias of Priene
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- You should look into a mirror: if you look fine, do fine things; if you look ugly, correct by nobility the defect of your nature.
- as reported by Demetrius of Phalerum in Apophthegms of the Seven Sages, Loeb Classical Library, volume 525 Early Greek Philosophy, p. 137
The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers (c. 230)
- Quotes of Bias from The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laërtius, as translated by Charles Duke Yonge
- Great riches come to many men by chance.
- Choose the course which you adopt with deliberation; but when you have adopted it, then persevere in it with firmness.
- Do not speak fast, for that shows folly.
- Love prudence.
- Speak of the Gods as they are.
- Do not praise an undeserving man because of his riches.
- Accept of things, having procured them by persuasion, not by force.
- Whatever good fortune befalls you, attribute it to the gods.
- Cherish wisdom as a means of travelling from youth to old age, for it is more lasting than any other possession.
- Seek to please all the citizens, even though
Your house may be in an ungracious city.
For such a course will favour win from all:
But haughty manners oft produce destruction.
- Great strength of body is the gift of nature;
But to be able to advise whate'er
Is most expedient for one's country's good,
Is the peculiar work of sense and wisdom.
- Most men are wicked.
Quotes about Bias
- Beneath this stone lies Bias, who was born
In the illustrious Prienian land,
The glory of the whole Ionian race.
- Epitaph, as quoted in The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laërtius as translated by C. D. Yonge
- Diogenes Laërtius, in Life of Bias, in The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers as translated by C. D. Yonge
- The tripod was found near Athens by some fishermen, the brazen tripod I mean, which bore the inscription — "For the Wise;" then Satyrus says that the damsels (but others, such as Phanodicus, say that it was their father,) came into the assembly, and said that Bias was the wise man — and so the tripod was sent to him. But Bias, when he saw it, said that it was Apollo who was "the Wise," and would not receive the tripod.
- It is said that he was very energetic and eloquent when pleading causes; but that he always reserved his talents for the right side. In reference to which Demodicus of Alerius uttered the following enigmatical saying — "If you are a judge, give a Prienian decision."
- He used also to say that that man was unfortunate who could not support misfortune; and that it is a disease of the mind to desire what was impossible, and to have no regard for the misfortunes of others.
- Being asked what was difficult, he said — "To bear a change of fortune for the worse with magnanimity."
- Once he was on a voyage with some impious men, and the vessel was overtaken by a storm; so they began to invoke the assistance of the Gods; on which he said, "Hold your tongues, lest they should find out that you are in this ship."
- When he was asked by an impious man what piety was, he made no reply; and when his questioner demanded the reason of his silence, he said, "I am silent because you are putting questions about things with which you have no concern."
- Being asked what was pleasant to men, he replied, "Hope."
- It was a saying of his that it was more agreeable to decide between enemies than between friends; for that of friends, one was sure to become an enemy to him; but that of enemies, one was sure to become a friend.
- He used to say, too, that men ought to calculate life both as if they were fated to live a long and a short time: and that they ought to love one another as if at a future time they would come to hate one another; for that most men were wicked.
- Heraclitus too, a man who was not easily pleased, has praised him; saying, "In Priene there lived Bias the son of Teutamus, whose reputation is higher than that of the others."