Pherecydes of Syros

Pherecydes of Syros (Greek Φερεκύδης Pherecydes; * 584-581 BC on the island of Syros ) was an ancient Greek Mythograph and cosmologist at the time of the pre-Socratics.

Life and work

The previously contentious issue of Pherecydes ' lifetime is clarified, since the birth may be ( 584-581 BC period ) dated to the 49th Olympiad today. He was a slightly younger contemporary of the Seven Sages. The ancient - probably credible - according to tradition, he was the first Greek prose author. It is unclear, his relationship with Anaximander, probably somewhat later wrote a script. In addition, there are no credible information about his life; only legends have survived.

Pherekydes wrote a book about the gods, has not been preserved. The opening words quoted by the Diogenes Laertius Doxograph ( 3rd century AD), where it was still accessible. Some can be inferred from later sources and a papyrus fragment.

Mythology and cosmology

Pherekydes assumed that three deities exist forever: Zas ( Zeus), Chronos and the earth deity Chthonie. Whether Pherekydes the time god Chronos with the god Cronus, he noted elsewhere, equated or two different gods meant or if there is a confusion between the two in the manuscript tradition, is controversial. This concerns in particular the question of whether it was BC conceivable within the mentality of the Greeks of the sixth century, a god that embodied the abstract principle the time to assign such a role. Chronos brought from its own seed produced three elements: fire, air (wind ) and water. From the elements of the secondary, not eternal deities arose.

Zeus married the earth deity who was now the name Ge ( Gaia); this was the first wedding and the prototype of all weddings. Zeus unveiled his bride and trusted her earthly world by he handed her a custom built his own cloth ( robe ) on which the Earth and the primal ocean " Ogenos " ( Oceanus ) were woven. Only by this garment received her people familiar figure of the physical world. The robe was not only the surface, but it was her; in this mythical thought were the same image and thing.

In addition, Pherecydes spoke of a battle between two gods and their armies, where it came to the possession of the sky; Kronos fought as a leader of the powers of heaven to the earth brought forth by the serpent god Ophioneus ( Ophion ) and its progeny. The fight ended with a victory of Kronos, Ophioneus and his fellow fighters were thrown into the ocean, where they remained permanently. Then the individual deities received their shares ( areas of responsibility ).

Doctrine of the soul

The Roman writer Cicero reported Pherekydes have represented the first of the opinion that the soul is immortal. With the concept of survival after death was combined with Pherecydes, as is evident from a statement by the scholar Porphyry, the doctrine of the transmigration of souls. These details of the sources are in the research to be credible; Pherecydes is the first known author who has relied on such soul concept in a treatise. However, the continued existence of the soul after the death of the body was of course already for Homer.


Categorized by modern research as incredible Pherekydes legends of antiquity include the following allegations:

  • He is said to have set a solstice marker.
  • He should have made prophetic statements and predicted an earthquake among others.
  • He is said to have been killed by the Spartans, whereupon the local kings, following an oracle, his skin preserved.
  • He is said to have been a pupil of Pittacus.
  • He is the teacher of Pythagoras of Samos was his (a claim that relates well with the agreement of the two in the doctrine of the soul ). When he was sick unto death on the island of Delos, Pythagoras is said to have kept him there and then cared for his funeral. As a historical starting point of this legend comes a whatsoever relationship between Pherecydes and Pythagoras considered.
  • He is said to have corresponded with Thales; the alleged correspondence is fake.

The resulting 1506 famous painting The three philosophers of the Renaissance painter Giorgione shows the Viennese philologist Karin Zeleny Pythagoras, Pherecydes and Thales after view with Pherecydes is depicted as Orientale, as his nickname Syrios ( " Syros " ) within the meaning of Syrian origin was misunderstood. Zelenys hypothesis, however, is met with skepticism.