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Hermaic pillar representing Bias of Priene, Vatican Museums

Bias (Greek: Βίας ο Πριηνεὺς, 6th century BCE), the son of Teutamus and a citizen of Priene was a Greek philosopher. Satyrus puts him as the wisest of all the Seven Sages of Greece.

One of the examples of his goodness is the legend that says that he paid a ransom for some women who had been taken prisoner. After educating them as his own daughters, he sent them back to Messina, their homeland, and to their fathers.

Also it is said that when some fishermen found The Brazen Tripod on which was encrypted: "For the Wisest", the fathers of the damsels came into an assembly. They concluded that Bias was the wisest among all men, so the tripod was presented to him as a token of gratitude for all that he had done for the city. Bias refused the honor with the words: "Apollo is the wisest". Another author notes that he consecrated the tripod at Thebes to Hercules.

He also wrote about two thousand verses on Ionia, to show in what matter a man might achieve happiness.

Some of his sayings

  • "All men are wicked."
  • "It is difficult to bear a change of fortune for the worse with magnanimity."
  • "Choose the course which you adopt with deliberation; but when you have adopted it, then persevere in it with firmness."
  • "Do not speak fast, for that shows folly."
  • "Love prudence."
  • "Speak of the Gods as they are."
  • "Do not praise an undeserving man because of his riches."
  • "Accept of things, having procured them by persuasion, not by force."
  • "Cherish wisdom as a means of traveling from youth to old age, for it is more lasting than any other possession."


"It is said that he was very energetic and eloquent when pleading causes; but that he always reserved his talents for the right side. In reference to which Demodicus of Alerius uttered the following enigmatical saying—"If you are a judge, give a Prienian decision." And Hipponax says, "More excellent in his decisions than Bias of Priene." (Diogenes Laertius, Book I, Chapter: The Life of Bias)

The legend says that he died as an old man, pleading a cause for his client. After he had finished speaking, he leaned back with his head on the bosom of his daughter's son. When the advocate on the opposite side had spoken, the judges decided in favor of Bias's client. At the end of the trial he was found dead on his grandson's bosom. The city buried him in the greatest magnificence.

References and external links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BIAS of Priene in Ionia, one of the so-called Seven Sages of Greece, son of Teutamus, flourished about 570 B.C. He was famous for his patriotism, the nobility of his character and his eloquence. A number of gnomes or aphorisms are attributed to him, which may be found collected in F. W. A. Mullach, Fragmenta Philosophorum Graecorum (1860). He is said to have written a poem on the best means of making Ionia prosperous. His advice to its inhabitants, at the time of the Persian invasion, to migrate to Sardinia and there found a single pan-Ionic city (Herodotus i. 170), has generally been regarded as historical. One much-quoted saying of his may be mentioned. When his native town was besieged by the enemy, the inhabitants resolved to escape with their most valuable belongings. One of them seeing Bias without anything, advised him to follow the example of the rest. "I am doing so," said he, "for I carry all my belongings with me" (omnia mea mecum porto). He was honoured with a splendid funeral, and a sanctuary called Teutamium was dedicated to him.

See Bohren, De Septem Sapientibus (1860).

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