In the sixth century BC, Pherekydes of Syros, the reputed teacher of Pythagoras and contemporary of Thales and Anaximander, wrote a book about the birth of the gods and the origin of the cosmos. Considered one of the first prose works of Greek literature, Pherekydes' book survives only in fragments. On the basis of these as well as the ancient testimonies, the author attempts to reconstruct the theo-cosmological schema of Pherekydes. An introductory chapter on the
life of Pherekydes is followed by four chapters on the contents of his book. From Pherekydes' mythopoeic creation account, his colourful narratives of a divine marriage and a battle of the gods, and
finally from his remarks on the soul, Professor Schibli is careful to unfold the philosophical implications. Pherekydes emerges as a figure who moved in that fascinating frontier between myth and philosophy. The theogonies of Hesiod and the Orphics, the cosmological speculations of certain Presocratics, and the Pythagorean tenets on the soul are all profitably compared with the remnants of Pherekydes' book. Pherekydes is thus shown to be an important witness to early Greek thought in its
various manifestations. This is the first book-length study in English dedicated to Pherekydes. It includes a comprehensive appendix of the fragments and ancient testimonies, along
with limited critical apparatus and English translations.
'This is a splendid book, impeccably produced, in a style of scholarship rapidly disappearing. Schibli presents a persuasive interpretation of the fragments, modestly but with powerful expertise. Every paragraph is supported with long, learned and lively footnotes, covering a wide range of topics and references. Pherekydes of Syros is to be highly recommended in general, and is indispensable in particular for future study on the emergence of early
Greek philosophy from religious and mythological constraints.'
M.R. Wright, University of Reading, The Classical Review, Vol. XLII, 1992
'Hermann S. Schibli performs a valuable service in reexamining the evidence for the contents of Pherecydes' book and in reediting the fragments and testimonia. There is little doubt that his edition ... will come to be the standard for future work on Pherecydes ... Schibli gives us here a tremendously important study of an elusive author.'
Robert Lamberton, Princeton University, Ancient Philosophy 12 (1992)
I. Life of Pherekydes; II. pente-/heptamuchos in Pherekydes; III. The marriage of Zas and Chthonie; IV, The battle against Ophioneus; V. Pherekydes on the soul. Retrospect; Appendix 1. Chronos and Zas in Pherekydes; Appendix 2. Testimonia and fragments; Concordance to Diels-Kranz; Bibliography; Index of passages cited; General index.