Who is Priene Bias?

Who is Priene Bias?

June 26, 2021 Off By Felso

Another wise Bias was from Priene (in Ionia, near today’s Söke district of Aydın) and the son of Teutamos or Teutamides.

It is believed that he was born around 570 BC and lived a very long time. Jurist Bias was a very good orator, but unlike those who made art, he only spoke for the truth.

He is said to have compiled the laws of Priene. His death was like this: while he was giving a speech, he was silent for a moment, rested his head on his grandson’s shoulder and fell into his last sleep. The Prienes organized a magnificent funeral for him. He wrote a poem of about two thousand lines on Bias Ionia, in which he explained the ways of being happy in particular. The Prienes built a temple in his name and named the temple Tutameion. Some of Bias’ aphorisms that have come down to us are as follows:

– Most people are dishonest.
– Look at yourself in the mirror: if you find it beautiful, act with dignity, if you find it ugly, make up for the lack of nature with your behavior with dignity.
– Do not let go of your slowness when starting a job, but when the job starts, work with all your strength.
– Avoid haste and chatter, so you avoid making mistakes, or you won’t have to wait long to be sorry for mistakes.
– Don’t be stupid or bad.
– Don’t hesitate.
– Love to avoid.
– Think about what you’re doing.
– Be a respectful listener.
– Speak when appropriate.
– When you do a good deed, know it from the gods, not from yourself.
Engage in action in your youth and virtue in old age.

One of the seven great thinkers of Antiquity, known as the seven sages. During the years when Lydian King Alyattes besieged Priene, he helped to lift the siege thanks to his intelligence.

At the end of the first month of the siege, famine began. Bias, on the other hand, bought two donkeys and fed the animals with the limited food he had. He sent the animals with swollen bellies to Alyattes’ camp, and seeing the animals, Alyattes thought that there was enough food stock to last the city for a long time. Thereupon, he sent an envoy to Priene to get information about the situation in the city. With Bias’s suggestion, huge sand piles were created in the hall where the ambassador was to be received, and they were covered with the last grains of the city. When the envoy, who saw the heaps, conveyed the situation, Alyattes firmly believed that there was a large amount of food stock in the city and lifted the siege.

Years after this event, Alyattes started to prepare a navy to seize Priene again, and again with his Bias intelligence, Alyattes discouraged the expedition to the city.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook