Chilon of Sparta

ancient Greek philosopher and writer

Chilon (fl. 555 BC) was a Spartan politician reckoned one of the seven wise men.

Chilon of Sparta

QuotesEdit

According to Diogenes Laërtius, The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers

Chilo, the Spartan sage, these sentences said:

  • Seek no excess—all timely things are good.
  • Suretyship, and then destruction.

He wrote:
Gold is best tested by a whetstone hard,
Which gives a certain proof of purity;
And gold itself acts as the test of men,
By which we know the temper of their minds.

He advised:

  • To threaten no one; for that is a womanly trick.
  • To be more prompt to go to one’s friends in adversity than in prosperity.
  • To make but a moderate display at one’s marriage.
  • Not to speak evil of the dead.
  • To honor old age.
  • To keep a watch upon oneself.
  • To prefer punishment to disgraceful gain; for the one is painful but once, but the other for one’s whole life.
  • Not to laugh at a person in misfortune.
  • If one is strong to be also merciful, so that one’s neighbors may respect one rather than fear one.
  • To learn how to regulate one’s own house well.
  • Not to let one’s tongue outrun one’s sense.
  • To restrain anger.
  • Not to dislike divination.
  • Not to desire what is impossible.
  • Not to make too much haste on one’s road.
  • When speaking not to gesticulate with the hand; for that is like a madman.
  • To obey the laws.
  • To love quiet.

to Periander:

  • a sole governor is in a slippery position at home; and I consider that tyrant a fortunate man who dies a natural death in his own house.

He also said once to his brother, who was indignant at not being an ephor, while he himself was one:

  • The reason is because I know how to bear injustice, but you do not.

Being asked in what educated men differed from those who were illiterate, he said:

  • In good hopes.

Having had the question put to him, “What was difficult?” he said:

  • To be silent about secrets; to make good use of one’s leisure, and to be able to submit to injustice.

And besides these three things he added further:

  • To rule one’s tongue, especially at a banquet, and not to speak ill of one’s neighbors; for if one does so one is sure to hear what one will not like.

It was a saying of his that a foresight of future events, such as could be arrived at by consideration, was the virtue of a man.


Quotes aboutEdit

'The warlike Sparta called this Chilo son,'
'The wisest man of all the seven sages.'

  • engraved on his statue