Ancient Philosophy


What was Greek wisdom?

Although Western philosophers have always turned to ancient Greece as the source of philosophy as they know it, the ancient Greeks themselves had a view of wisdom that was broader than philosophy. The so-called “Seven Wise Men of Greece,” who flourished between c. 620 to 650 B.C.E., included only one philosopher: Thales of Miletus. (The other wise men were statesman and politicians or practical leaders of men.) The sayings associated with the Seven Wise Men of Greece are:

  • Thales of Miletus: “To bring surety brings ruin.”

  • Solon of Athens: “Nothing in excess.”

  • Chilon of Sparta: “Know thyself.”

  • Bias of Priene: “Too many workers spoil the work.”

  • Cleobulus of Lindos: “Moderation is impeccable.”

  • Pittacus of Mytilene: “Know thine opportunity.”

  • Periander of Corinth: “Forethought in all things.”


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