They are all said to have met together at Delphi, and again in Corinth, where Periander arranged something like a joint conference for them, and a banquet. But what contributed still more to their honor and fame was the circuit which the tripod made among them, its passing round through all their hands, and their mutual declination of it, with generous expressions of good will.
Some Coans, as the story goes, were dragging in a net, and some strangers from Miletus bought the catch as yet unseen. It proved to contain a golden tripod which Helen, on her voyage from Troy, is said to have thrown in there, when she called to mind a certain ancient oracle. First the strangers had a dispute with the fishermen about the tripod, and then their cities took up the quarrel and went at last to war, whereupon the Pythian priestess of Apollo told both parties in an oracle that the tripod must be given to the wisest man.
So in the first place it was sent to Thales at Miletus, the Coans willingly bestowing upon him alone that for which they had waged war against all the Milesians together. But Thales declared that Bias was a wiser man than he, and the tripod was sent to Bias. From Bias, in his turn, it was dispatched to another, as wiser than he. So it went the rounds and was sent away by each in turn, until at last it came to Thales for the second time. Finally, it was carried from Miletus to Thebes and dedicated to Ismenian Apollo.
Theophrastus, however, says that the tripod was sent in the first place to Bias at Priene, and in the second place to Thales at Miletus, at the instance of Bias, and so passed through the hands of all the wise men until it came round again to Bias, and finally was sent to Delphi. These, then, are the more common versions of the tale. But some say that the gift thus passed from hand to hand was not the tripod now seen at Delphi, but a bowl sent there by Croesus; and others that it was a beaker left there by Bathycles.