Chapter 6 CLEOBULUS (c 600 B.C.)
Cleobulus, the son of Euagoras, was born at Lindus,
but according to Duris he was a Carian. Some say
that he traced his descent back to Heracles, that he
was distinguished for strength and beauty, and was
acquainted with Egyptian philosophy. He had a
daughter Cleobuline, who composed riddles in hexameters; she is mentioned by Cratinus, who gives
one of his plays her name, in the plural form
Cleobulinae. He is also said to have rebuilt the
temple of Athena which was founded by Danaus.
He was the author of songs and riddles, making some
3000 lines in all.
The inscription on the tomb of Midas is said by
some to be his1
I am a maiden of bronze and I rest upon Midas's tomb.
So long as water shall flow and tall trees grow, and the sun
shall rise and shine,
and the bright moon, and rivers shall
run and the sea wash the shore, here abiding on his tearsprinkled tomb I shall tell the passers-by--Midas is buried
The evidence they adduce is a poem of Simonides
in which he says2
Who, if he trusts his wits, will praise Cleobulus the dweller
at Lindus for opposing the strength of a column to everflowing rivers, the flowers of spring, the flame of the sun,
and the golden moon and the eddies of the sea? But all
things fall short of the might of the gods; even mortal
hands break marble in pieces; this is a fool's devising.
The inscription cannot be by Homer, because he
lived, they say, long before Midas.
The following riddle of Cleobulus is preserved in
One sire there is, he has twelve sons, and each of these
has twice thirty daughters different in feature; some of the
daughters are white, the others again are black; they are
immortal, and yet they all die.
And the answer is, "The year."
Of his songs the most popular are: It is want of
taste that reigns most widely among mortals and
multitude of words; but due season will serve. Set
your mind on something good. Do not become
thoughtless or rude. He said that we ought to give
our daughters to their husbands maidens in years
but women in wisdom; thus signifying that girls
need to be educated as well as boys. Further, that
we should render a service to a friend to bind him
closer to us, and to an enemy in order to make a
friend of him. For we have to guard against the
censure of friends and the intrigues of enemies.
When anyone leaves his house, let him first inquire
what he means to do; and on his return let him ask
himself what he has effected. Moreover, he advised
men to practise bodily exercise; to be listeners
rather than talkers; to choose instruction rather
than ignorance; to refrain from ill-omened words;
to be friendly to virtue, hostile to vice; to shun
injustice; to counsel the state for the best; not to
be overcome by pleasure; to do nothing by violence;
to educate their children; to put an end to enmity.
Avoid being affectionate to your wife, or quarrelling
with her, in the presence of strangers; for the one
savours of folly, the other of madness. Never correct
a servant over your wine, for you will be thought
to be the worse for wine. Mate with one of your
own rank; for if you take a wife who is superior to
you, her kinsfolk will become your masters.
men are being bantered, do not laugh at their expense, or you will incur their hatred. Do not be
arrogant in prosperity; if you fall into poverty, do
not humble yourself. Know how to bear the changes
of fortune with nobility.4
He died at the ripe age of seventy; and the inscription over him is5
Here the wise Rhodian, Cleobulus, sleeps,
And o'er his ashes sea-proud Lindus weeps.
His apophthegm was: Moderation is best. And
he wrote to Solon the following letter:
Cleobulus to Solon
"You have many friends and a home wherever you
go; but the most suitable for Solon will, say I, be
Lindus, which is governed by a democracy. The
island lies on the high seas, and one who lives here
has nothing to fear from Pisistratus. And friends
from all parts will come to visit you."