The lives, opinions, and remarkable sayings of the most famous ancient philosophers. The first volume written in Greek, by Diogenes Laertius ; made English by several hands ...
Diogenes Laertius.


ANACHARSIS, a Scythian, was the Son of Gnurus, and Brother of Cadovidas King of the Scythians; his Mo∣ther being a Grecian; by which means he spoke both the Languages.

He wrote concerning the Laws of the Scythians, the Rites and Solemnities a∣mong the Grecians, concerning a Frugal Life, and military affairs, to the Number Page  78 of nine Hundred Verses. Being bold and resolute in Speaking, he gave occasion to the Proverb, That whoever imitated his resolution, was said to speak like a Scy∣thian.

Sosicrates affirms that he arrived at A∣thens about the Forty seventh Olympiad, at what time Eucrates was chief Magistrate of the City. Hermippus relates, That at the same time he went to Solon's House, and bid one of the Servants tell his Master, that Anacharsis was at the Door, desirous of his Acquaintance, and, if it were con∣venient, to be his Guest; which Message the Servant repeating to Solon, was sent back with this Answer, That Guests were made by those that were in their own Country. Upon which, Anacharsis en∣tred into the House with this Complement; Now then, said he, I am in my own Country, and it belongs to me to make the Guests. Thereupon Solon admiring the dexterity of the Person, not only gave him admit∣tance, but made him one of his most in∣timate Friends. Sometime after return∣ing into Scythia, while he endeavoured to alter the Laws of his Country, and to in∣troduce the Grecian Constitutions, he was shot through the Body by his Brother, as he rode a Hunting, breathing forth these last words as he expired: For my Learn∣ing's Page  79 sake I was preserved in Greece, but pe∣rished, through Envy at Home, and in my Country. Others say that he was slain, as he was offering to the Gods after the Greek manner. However it were, the first report produced this Anagram of ours.

Through many Regions view'd, and dan∣gers past,
Great Anacharsis home returns at last;
And straight by soft Perswasion seeks to draw
The ruder Scythians to the Grecian Law.
But ere th' imperfect words he could impart,
A feather'd Arrow pierc'd his bleeding heart.

He was wont to say, that the Vine bare three sorts of Clusters: the first of Plea∣sure; the second of Debauchery; and the third of Discontent and Repentance. He admired how it came to pass, that in the Contentions among the Grecian Arti∣ficers, the worst Artists were still made the Judges of the Dispute. Being asked how a Man might best preserve himself Sober? He answered, By setting before the Eyes the evil Behaviour of those that drank to Excess. He wondred why the Grecian Legislators enacting Laws against the In∣jurious, honoured the Wrestlers, that daily mischiefed one another. When he understood the Plancks of a Ship to be Page  80 but four Fingers thick, he said that was the distance between Death, and those that went by Sea. He called Oil the Provoca∣tive of Madness, observing that the Wrestlers being anointed with it, were the more enraged one against another. How comes it to pass, said he, that they who for∣bid Lying, Lye so frequently in the common Victualling-Houses? He was wont to won∣der why the Greeks at the beginning of their Banquets, drank in little Cups; but when their Stomachs were full, still quaff'd on in large Bowls? Upon his Statues this admonition is generally engraved, to go∣vern the Tongue, the Belly, and the Privy-Members. Being asked whether there were any Fifes in Scythia, he made answer, No, nor any Vines neither. To the que∣stion what sort of Ships were safest? He answered, Those that were come into Har∣bour.

Another thing he also admired among the Grecians, that they left the Smoke be∣hind in the Mountains, and brought the Wood into the City. To the question which were most, the Living or the Dead? he replied with another Question, in the number of which they ranked those that ventured by Sea? To an Athenian that upbraided him for being a Scythian, he re∣torted, My Country indeed is a reproach to Page  81 me, but thou to thy Country. To the que∣stion, What was good or bad in Men? He answer'd, The Tongue. He us'd to say, 'twas better to have one good friend, than many that were Men of no worth. He accounted the Market a place appointed for Men to deceive one another, and dis∣play their Avarice. Being affronted by a young Man at a Compotation, Young Ma, said he, if thou caust not bear Wine in thy Youth, thou wilt carry Water when thou art Old. He is said to have invented for the benefit of Mankind, the Anchor, and the Potters Wheel.

There is also extant the following Epi∣stle of his to Croesus.

Anacharsis to Croesus.

I Came into Greece, O King of the Ly∣dians, to learn their Customs, and their Constitutions. I want no Gold, as having sufficient for a better Scythian than my self, to carry me back into my Country. Nevertheless I will attend thee at Sardis, esteeming, as a high ho∣nour, thy friendship and familiarity.