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Saturday, 7 January 2012

Wisdom of Solon

It has been said that lower-class people talk about people; the middle class, things; and the upper class, ideas. I think wisdom is for all classes.  Solon was a stateman, lawmaker and poet of Athens (638BC - 559BC)  He was invited by King Croesus of Sardis who was then considered one of the richest person in the world to witness the monstrous wealth and the riches of his kingdom.  Croesus was so proud that he asked Solon who could match his opulence.  Solon replied that he knew of a citizen in Athens by the name of Tellus who was honest, ordinary man, good father, grandfather to his sons' children and died in glory fighting for his country. He added his countrymen believed in simple things, vision and might not be of importance and significance to the King.  He elaborated that man's life is subject to chance and vicissitudes of life - disaster can befall anyone anytime by surprise so no one can consider one successful until one has died well and his fortune still intact in the end. Fearing that he might have angered the King, his friend Aesop (famous for the Aesop's fables) who was also there advised him thus "Either we must come to mighty men at all or we must try to please them"  Solon replied "Either we must come to mighty men, or  we must tell them the truth"  Subsequently, King Croesus was defeated by King Cyrus of Persia and was taken prisoner.  Before he was to be burned at the stakes, he cried out the name of Solon 3 times.  King Cyrus asked him who was this man Solon.  Croesus told him of this wise man of Greece who taught him of his foolish prosperity, foresaw his present misery and advised him to consider that no man is  happy until he died well. The happy ending was Croesus was honoured  as one of the Counselors in King Cyrus's Court.  In the last financial crisis which has yet to take its full course many high-flying Hedge Fund managers and bankers were made to eat humble pies.  As they said "it ain't over till it's over"

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