My dear Kacvey,

Diogenes Laertius wrote that Chilon was a Lacedaemonian born circa 560 B.C.

Chilon was an ephor who wrote poem in elegiac meter some 200 lines in length.

When he was asked wherein lies the difference between the educated and the uneducated, Chilon answered: “In good hope.” What is hard? “To keep a secret, to employ leisure well, to be able to bear an injury.”

These are some of Chilon’s precepts:

  • To control the tongue, especially at banquet.
  • Not to abuse our neighbours, for if you do, things will be said about you which you will regret.
  • Do not use threats to anyone.
  • Be more ready to visit friends in adversity than in prosperity.
  • Do not make an extravagant marriage.
  • Prefer a loss to a dishonest gain: the one brings pain at the moment, the other for all the time.
  • Do not laugh at another’s misfortune.
  • When strong, be merciful, if you would have the respect , not the fear, of your neighbours.
  • Learn to be a wise master in your own home.
  • Let not your tongue outrun your thought.
  • Control anger.
  • Do not aim at impossibilities.
  • Let no one see you in a hurry.
  • Obey the laws.
  • Be restful.

Chilon was already an old man when Aesop was flourishing, and a tale was told that when Chilon inquired of Aesop what Zeus was doing and he received this answer: “He is humbling the proud and exalting the humble.”

Chilon was known as a man of few words and his death took place in Pisa, just after he had congratulated his son on an Olympic victory in boxing.

His famous apothegm is: “Give a pledge, and suffer for it.”