On his visit to Thales at Miletus, Solon is said to have expressed astonishment that his host was wholly indifferent to marriage and the getting of children. At the time Thales made no answer, but a few days afterwards he contrived to have a stranger say that he was just arrived after a ten days' journey from Athens. When Solon asked what news there was at Athens, the man, who was under instructions what to say, answered:
‘None other than the funeral of a young man, who was followed to the grave by the whole city.
For he was the son, as I was told, of an honored citizen who excelled all others in virtue; he was not at the funeral of his son; they told me that he had been travelling abroad for a long time.’
‘O the miserable man!’ said Solon;
‘pray, what was his name?’
‘I heard the name,’ the man said,
‘but I cannot recall it; only there was great talk of his wisdom and justice.’ Thus every answer heightened Solon's fears, and at last, in great distress of soul, he told his name to the stranger and asked him if it was Solon's son that was dead.
The man said it was; whereupon Solon began to beat his head and to do and say everything else that betokens a transport of grief. But Thales took him by the hand and said, with a smile
‘This it is O Solon, which keeps me from marriage and the getting of children; it overwhelms even thee, who art the most stouthearted of men. But be not dismayed at this story, for it is not true.’ Such, at any rate, according to Hermippus, is the story of Pataecus, who used to boast that he had Aesop's soul.