Pittacus of Mytilene

Pittacus was the son of Hyrradius, and one of the Seven Sages of Greece. He was a native of Mytilene, and the Mytilenaean general who, with his army, was victorious in the battle against the Athenians and their commander Phrynon. In consequence of this victory the Mytilenaeans held Pittacus in the greatest honor, and presented the supreme power into his hands. After ten years of reign he resigned his position, and the city and constitution were brought into good order.

Some authors mention that he had a son called Tyrrhaeus. The legend says that his son was killed, and when the murderer was brought before Pittacus, he dismissed the man, saying, "Pardon is better than repentance." Of this matter, Heraclitus says that he had got the murderer into his power, and then he released him, saying, "Pardon is better than punishment."

It was a saying of Pittacus, that it is a hard thing to be really a good man. Another of his sayings were:

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

"Even the Gods cannot strive against necessity."
"Power shows the man."
"Do not say before hand what you are going to do; for if you fail, you will be laughed at."
"Do not reproach a man with his misfortunes, fearing lest Nemesis may overtake you."
"Forbear to speak evil not only of your friends, but also of your enemies."
"Cultivate truth, good faith, experience, cleverness, sociability, and industry."

He flourished about the forty-second Olympiad. Having lived more than seventy years, he died in the third year of the fifty-second Olympiad.

Pittacus (Louvre)

Pittacus by Perugino, Details from a Fresco Perugia, Collegio del Cambio


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