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Chapter 9. MYSON (c. 600 B.C.)

[106] Myson was the son of Strymon, according to Sosicrates, who quotes Hermippus as his authority, and a native of Chen, a village in the district of Oeta or Laconia; and he is reckoned one of the Seven Sages. They say that his father was a tyrant. We are told by some one that, when Anacharsis inquired if there were anyone wiser than himself, the Pythian priestess gave the response which has already been quoted in the Life of Thales as her reply to a question by Chilon1:

Myson of Chen in Oeta; this is he

Who for wiseheartedness surpasseth thee.

His curiosity aroused, Anacharsis went to the village in summer time and found him fitting a share to a plough and said, "Myson, this is not the season for the plough." "It is just the time to repair it," was the reply. [107] Others cite the first line of the oracle differently, "Myson of Chen in Etis," and inquire what "Myson of Etis" means. Parmenides indeed explains that Etis is a district in Laconia to which Myson belonged. Sosicrates in his Successions of Philosophers makes him belong to Etis on the father's side and to Chen on the mother's. Euthyphro, the son of Heraclides of Pontus, declares that he was a Cretan, Eteia being a town in Crete. Anaxilaus makes him an Arcadian.

Myson is mentioned by Hipponax, the words being2:

And Myson, whom Apollo's self proclaimed

Wisest of all men.

Aristoxenus in his Historical Gleanings says he was not unlike Timon and Apemantus, for he was a misanthrope. [108] At any rate he was seen in Lacedaemon laughing to himself in a lonely spot; and when some one suddenly appeared and asked him why he laughed when no one was near, he replied, "That is just the reason." And Aristoxenus says that the reason why he remained obscure was that he belonged to no city but to a village and that an unimportant one. Hence because he was unknown, some writers, but not Plato the philosopher, attributed to Pisistratus the tyrant what properly belonged to Myson. For Plato mentions him in the Protagoras,3 reckoning him as one of the Seven instead of Periander.

He used to say we should not investigate facts by the light of arguments, but arguments by the light of facts; for the facts were not put together to fit the arguments, but the arguments to fit the facts.

He died at the age of ninety-seven.

1 Anth. Plan. vi. 40.

2 Fr. 45 Bergk.

3 343 a.

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