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Bias

This webpage reproduces one of the
Lives of the Eminent Philosophers

by
Diogenes Laërtius

published in the Loeb Classical Library, 1925

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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Periander

(Vol. I) Diogenes Laërtius
Lives of the Eminent Philosophers

Book I

 p91  Chapter 6
Cleobulus (c. 600 B.C.)

[link to original Greek text] 89 Cleobulus, the son of Euagoras, was born at Lindus, but according to Duris he was a Carian. Some say that he traced his descent back to Heracles, that he was distinguished for strength and beauty, and was acquainted with Egyptian philosophy. He had a daughter Cleobuline, who composed riddles in hexameters; she is mentioned by Cratinus, who gives one of his plays her name, in the plural form Cleobulinae. He is also said to have rebuilt the temple of Athena which was founded by Danaus.  p93 He was the author of songs and riddles, making some 3000 lines in all.

The inscription on the tomb of Midas is said by some to be his:1

I am a maiden of bronze and I rest upon Midas's tomb. So long as water shall flow and tall trees grow, [link to original Greek text] 90 and the sun shall rise and shine, and the bright moon, and rivers shall run and the sea wash the shore, here abiding on his tear-sprinkled tomb I shall tell the passers‑by — Midas is buried here.

The evidence they adduce is a poem of Simonides in which he says:2

Who, if he trusts his wits, will praise Cleobulus the dweller at Lindus for opposing the strength of a column to ever-flowing rivers, the flowers of spring, the flame of the sun, and the golden moon and the eddies of the sea? But all things fall short of the might of the gods; even mortal hands break marble in pieces; this is a fool's devising.

The inscription cannot be by Homer, because he lived, they say, long before Midas.

The following riddle of Cleobulus is preserved in Pamphila's collection:3

[link to original Greek text] 91 One sire there is, he has twelve sons, and each of these has twice thirty daughters different in feature; some of the daughters are white, the others again are black; they are immortal, and yet they all die.

And the answer is, "The year."

 p95  Of his songs the most popular are: It is want of taste that reigns most widely among mortals and multitude of words; but due season will serve. Set your mind on something good. Do not become thoughtless or rude. He said that we ought to give our daughters to their husbands maidens in years but women in wisdom; thus signifying that girls need to be educated as well as boys. Further, that we should render a service to a friend to bind him close to us, and to an enemy in order to make a friend of him. For we have to guard against the censure of friends and the intrigues of enemies. [link to original Greek text] 92 When anyone leaves his house, let him first inquire what he means to do; and on his return let him ask himself what he has effected. Moreover, he advised men to practise bodily exercise; to be listeners rather than talkers; to choose instruction rather than ignorance; to refrain from ill‑omened words; to be friendly to virtue, hostile to vice; to shun injustice; to counsel the state for the best; not to be overcome by pleasure; to do nothing by violence; to educate their children; to put an end to enmity. Avoid being affectionate to your wife, or quarreling with her, in the presence of strangers; for the one savours of folly, the other of madness. Never correct a servant over your wine, for you will be thought to be the worse for wine. Mate with one of your own rank; for if you take a wife who is superior to you, her kinsfolk will become your masters. [link to original Greek text] 93 When men are being bantered, do not laugh at their expense, or you will incur their hatred. Do not be arrogant in prosperity; if you fall into poverty, do not humble yourself. Know how to bear the changes of fortune with nobility.4

 p97  He died at the ripe age of seventy; and the inscription over him is:5

Here the wise Rhodian, Cleobulus, sleeps,

And o'er his ashes sea‑proud Lindus weeps.

His apophthegm was: Moderation is best. And he wrote to Solon the following letter:

Cleobulus to Solon

"You have many friends and a home wherever you go; but the most suitable for Solon will, say I, be Lindus, which is governed by a democracy. The island lies on the high seas, and one who lives here has nothing to fear from Pisistratus. And friends from all parts will come to visit you."


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Anth. Pal. VII.153.

2 Fr. 57 Bergk.

3 Anth. Pal. XIV.101; Stob. Ecl. Phys. I.99.15 W.

4 These moral precepts are similar to those of Stobaeus in the Florilegium, e.g. I.172.

5 Anth. Pal. VII.618.


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Page updated: 28 Aug 18