Pherecydes Of Syros

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PHERECYDES OF SYROS, one of the earliest Greek philosophers, was the son of Babys and a Dative of the island of Syros. The dates of his life are variously stated, but there seems to be no doubt that he lived in the 6tb century B.C. ; amongst his contemporaries were Thies and Anaximander. He was sometimes reckoned one of the Seven Wise Men, and a very uniform tradition repre-sented him as the teacher of Pythagoras. Many wonder-ful tales were told of him, e.g., that front drinking water drawn front a, well he was able to predict an earthquake three days before it took place. The accounts of his death are very discrepant, but the commonest was that he died of the morbus pediculosus. But, if the minute description which Hippocrates gives of the death of Pherecydes refers to the philosopher, he would seem to have died of a viru-lent fever, perhaps spotted typhus. He is said to have been the first Greek author who wrote in prose, but per-haps the chronicler Cadmus of Miletus preceded him. The statements of late writers, that he drew his philosophy from secret writings of the Phcenicians, and that he was a disciple of the Egyptians and Clialdwans, deserve little attention, made as they were at a time when it was the fashion to regard all wisdom as derived from the East. He was credited with having originated the doctrine of metempsychosis, while Cicero and Augustine even assert that he was the first to teach the immortality of the soul. Of his astronomical studies he left a proof in the " helio-tropion," a cave at Syros which served to determine the annual turning-point of the sun, like the grotto of Posillipo at Naples.

In his book, to which Suidas gives the name of girrcikwxos Irot Oeovacia OE(ropia, he enunciated a system in which philosophy and mythology were blended. In the beginning, according to Pherecydes, were Zeus, Chronos (Time) or Cronus, and Chthou (Earth) ; Chronos begat Fire, Wind, and Water, and these three begat numerous other gods.

Another PlIERECYDES of Athens, an early Creek historian, was a native of the island of Leros, and lived in the former half of the 5th century B.C. Amongst his contemporaries were Hellanieus and Herodotus. Of his works " Ou Leros," " On Iphigenia," "On the festivals of Dionysus" nothing remains ; but numerous fragments of his great work on mythology, in ten books, have been preserved, and are collected by C. Miiller in his Fr. Hist. Gr., vol. i.

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