Pherecydes of Syros

Pherecydes of Syros (in Greek: Φερεχύδης) was a Greek thinker from the island of Siros, Magna Graecia of the 6th century BC. Pherecydes authored the Heptamychia, one of the first attested prose works in Greek literature, which formed an important bridge between mythic and pre-Socratic thought. In this piece, Pherecydes taught his philosophy through the medium of mythic representations. Although it is lost, the fragments that survive are enough to reconstruct a basic outline. Aristotle in Metaphysics (section 1091 b 8) thus characterized Pherecydes' work as a mixture of myth and philosophy.

Pherecydes gives a history of the world that proceeds by rationalizing the Greek pantheon. The king of the gods is not Zeus but Zas ("he who lives"). His father is Chronos ("time") rather than Kronos, from whom water, earth, air and fire spring. The antagonism between father and son seems to have been omitted. Chronos and Zas fight a war against Ophion or Ophioneus ("the snake man"), and Zas celebrates his victory by weaving a robe for Chthonie, who is transformed into Ge ("the surface of the earth").

Both Cicero and Augustine thought that Pherecydes of Syros first taught the immortality of the soul.

Diogenes Laertius writes that some considered Pherecydes to have been the teacher of Pythagoras. He is occasionally counted among the Seven Sages of Greece.

Pherecydes of Syros should not be confused with Pherecydes of Leros.


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