Chilon of Sparta

Every one honours the wise’. Thus the Parians have honoured Archilochus, in spite of his bitter tongue; the Chians Homer, though he was not their countryman; the Mytilenaeans Sappho, though she was a woman; the Lacedaemonians actually made Chilon a member of their senate, though they are the least literary of men; Alcidamas, Aristotle Rhetoric Book 2

The muse Calliope surrounded by Socrates and the Seven Sages - Solon, Thales, Bias of Priene, Cleobulos, Periander, Pittacos of Mytilene and Chilon. (anticlockwise). Mosaic from the late 3rd century AD.

Chilon of Sparta or Chilo of Sparta was a Lacedaemonian, son of Damagetus and one of the Seven Sages of Greece. As an ephor (c. 556 BC) he strengthened that position in Sparta. It is recorded that he composed verses in elegiac metre to the number of two hundred. Chilon was also the first person who introduced the custom of joining the ephors to the kings as their counselors, though Satyrus attributes this institution to Lycurgus.

Some of his sayings:

"Do not speak evil of the dead."
"Honor old age."
"Prefer punishment to disgraceful gain; for the one is painful but once, but the other for one's whole life."
"Do not laugh at a person in misfortune."
"If one is strong be also merciful, so that one's neighbors may respect one rather than fear one."
"Learn how to regulate one's own house well."
"Do not let one's tongue outrun one's sense."
"Restrain anger."
"Do not dislike divination."
"Do not desire what is impossible."
"Do not make too much haste on one's road."
"Obey the laws."

Chilon flourished around the beginning of the 6th century B.C. The tradition was that he died of joy in the arms of his son, who had just gained a prize at the Olympic games.



The Lives and Opinions of the Eminent Philosophers, by Diogenes Laertius

Pliny, 7, c. 33.

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