Pherecydes Of Syros
PHERECYDES OF SYROS, Greek philosopher (or rather philosophical theologian), flourished during the 6th century B.C. He was sometimes reckoned one of the Seven Wise Men, and is said to have been the teacher of Pythagoras. With the possible exception of Cadmus (q.v.) of Miletus, he was the first Greek prose-writer. He belonged to the circle of Peisistratus at Athens, and was the founder of an Orphic community. He is characterized as " one of the earliest representatives of a half-critical, half-credulous eclecticism " (Gomperz). He was credited with having originated the doctrine of metempsychosis (5.1;.), while Cicero and Augustine assert that he was the first to teach the immortality of the soul. Of his astronomical studies he left a proof in the " heliotropion," a cave at Syros which served to determine the annual turning-point of the Sun, like the grotto of Posillipo (Posilipo, Posilippo) at Naples, and was one of the sights of the island.
In his cosmogonic treatise on nature and the gods, called HtvTffivxos (Preller's correction of Sui'das, who has lirTa.iwx.os) from the five elementary or original principles (aether, fire, air, water, earth; Gomperz substitutes smoke and darkness for aether and earth), he enunciated a system in which science, allegory and mythology were blended. In the beginning were Chronos, the principle of time; Zeus (Zas), the principle of life; and Chthonie, the earth goddess. Chronos begat fire, air and water, and from these three sprang numerous other gods. Smoke and darkness appear in a later tradition. A fragment of the " sacred marriage " of Zas and Chthonie was found on an Egyptian papyrus at the end of the 1pth century.
See H. Diels, Fragment* der Vorsokratiker (1903) ; also Q. Kern, De Orphei, Epimenidis, Pherecydis theogoniis (1888); D. Speliotopoulos, Ufpi *tpWoi> rov Zupiou (Athens, 1890); T. Gomperz, Greek Thinkers (Eng. trans.), i. 85; B. P. Grenfell, New Classical Fragments (1897); H. Weil, Etudes sur I'antiquite grecque (1900).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)