A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

(Βίας), of Priene in Ionia, is always reckoned among the Seven Sages, and is mentioned by Dicaearchus (apud Diog. Laert. 1.41) as one of the Four to whom alone that title was universally given--the remaining three being Thales, Pittacus, and Solon. We do not know the exact period at which Bias lived, but it appears from the reference made to him by the poet Hipponax, who flourished about the middle of the sixth century B. C. that he had by that time become distinguished for his skill as an advocate, and for his use of it in defence of the right. (D. L. 1.84, 88; Strab. xiv. p.636.) Diogenes Laertius informs us, that he died at a very advanced age, immediately after pleading successfully the cause of a friend: by the time the votes of the judges had been taken, he was found to have expired. Like the rest of the Seven Sages, with the exception of Thales, the fame of Bias was derived, not from philosophy, as the word is usually understood, but from a certain practical wisdom, moral and political, the fruit of experience. Many of his sayings and doings are recorded by Diogenes Laertius, in his rambling uncritical way, and by others. In particular, he suffers in character as the reputed author of the selfish maxim Φιλεῖν Ὡς μισήσοντας ; and there is a certain ungallant dilemma on the subject of marriage, which we find fathered upon him in Aulus Gellius. (Hdt. 1.27, 170 ; Aristot. Rh. 2.13.4; Cic. de Amic. 16, Parad. i.; Diod. Exc. p. 552, ed. Wess; Gel. 5.11; D. L. 1.82-88; comp. Hdt. 1.20-22; Plut. Sol. 4.)