7 Sages of Ancient Greece

 “Thales of Miletus * Biasof Priene * Heraclitus of Ephesus * Cleobolus of Lindos * Solon of Athens * Pittacus of Mytilene * Periander of Corinth

This is an acceptable list, though there are many variants, not least because the great kings of antiquity liked to keep seven sages—in Greek hepta sophoi, in Latin septem sapientes—around their courts.

There also seem to have been competitions for sage advice in verse, which allowed various pantheons of seven sages to be formed. This was especially true of the Pythian Games held in honour of Apollo, the god of wisdom. Some of the most pithy couplets were then carved on the porch of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. The two best known, as reported by that great guidebook writer Pausanias, are ‘Know thyself’ and ‘Nothing in excess.’”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

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