Chilon (DIOGENES LAERTIUS)

Chilon (DIOGENES LAERTIUS)

Chilon, son of Damagetas, was a Lacedaemonian. He wrote a poem in elegiac metre some 200 lines in length; and he declared that the excellence of a man is to divine the future so far as it can be grasped by reason.

When his brother grumbled that he was not made ephor as Chilon was, the latter replied,

“I know how to submit to injustice and you do not.”

The tale is also told that he inquired of Aesop what Zeus was doing and received the answer: “He is humbling the proud and exalting the humble.”

Being asked wherein lies the difference between the educated and the uneducated, Chilon answered, “In good hope.”

What is hard? “To keep a secret, to employ leisure well, to be able to bear an injury.”

These again are some of his precepts:

To control the tongue, especially at a banquet.
Not to abuse our neighbours, for if you do, things will be said about you which you will regret.
Do not use threats to any one; for that is womanish.
Be more ready to visit friends in adversity than in prosperity.
Do not make an extravagant marriage.
De mortuis nil nisi bonum.
Honour old age.
Consult your own safety.
Prefer a loss to a dishonest gain: the one brings pain at the moment, the other for all time. Do not laugh at another’s misfortune.
When strong, be merciful, if you would have the respect, not the fear, of your neighbours.
Learn to be a wise master in your own house.
Let not your tongue outrun your thought.
Control anger.

 

 
Lives of the Eminent Philosophers
Diogenes Laërtius
Translated by Robert Drew Hicks



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