Aristotle on sleeping with sheep

It is warmer if you sleep with goats than it is with sheep.  Sheep are more nervous, whereas goat  snuggle up close to people in the night.

History of Animals – Aristotle


Philosophy pays

Thales of Miletus was often mocked for being poor.  Some said that this proved his philosophy was useless.  But while studying the stars one winter, Thales discovered that it would be particularly good weather that season for olives.  He subsequently leased all the olive presses he could.  Both in his home town of Miletus but also on Chios island.    The lease was cheap.  No one else made a bid.   Many months later, the time to harvest came.  It was indeed a great year, so they all needed oil presses.   Since their need was urgent and Thales controlled all the presses, he increased the price for his services and made a lot of money.

This was how he showed everyone that if a philosopher sets his mind to it, he can indeed make money.  But he chooses not to.

Politics – Aristotle 


Were Greeks always easy to sway?

It is surprising that this trick worked.  Greeks have always been more intelligent than barbarians.  And Athenias even more so, they are the smartest of all Greeks.

Yet Pisistratus the tyrant, got his position back with a very simple trick:  he found a pretty and quite tall girl from the peasants and dressed as if she were the godess Athena.  With full armor and other accessories the girl rode with him in a chariot.  And Pisistratus had heralds announce that Athena herself was bringing him back to power.


(Herodotus – Histories, 1.60)



A dog, actually my best friend. For real!

Xenophanes often mocked Pythagoras for believing in the transmigration of souls.   According to him, once Pythagoras heard a dog which was been beaten and shouted “Stop!  Do not beat that dog!  It is the soul of a dear friend of mine, I recognize the voice!”


Plagiarism detection tricks

Heraclides amazingly proposed (back then) that earth has a 24 hour cycle of revolution on its axis.  However  he wasn’t as perceptive in other matters:

“Dionysios had written a tragedy which he called Parthenopaeus.  As a practical joke, he put Sophocles as the author when it was written .   When Heraclides quoted as if it really was by Sophocles in one of his works.  Then Dionysius told him it was a joke but of course Heraclides didn’t believe him at all.  Then Dionysius told to look at at thethe opening eight lines.  The first letter spelled the name of his lover, Pancalus.  Then Heraclides said that this may have been coincidence.

Then Dionysius told him that he could also find an acrostic which said “Old monkeys do not fall into traps.  Well, they do in fact but it takes a long time.”  He had also hidden in the manuscript as an acrostic the phrase “Heraclides is not ashamed that he doesn’t understand writing.”

Lives of the Philosophers – Diogenes Laertius




Semen tic differences

In Histories, Herodotus claims that Ethiopians (as he had also claimed about Indians elsewhere) produce black semen.  Aristotle however criticizes this view:

“…as if a person of black skin is black in every part.  But the teeth of a black person are white.”




Make books, not war

When Athens was captured by barbarians, all the books were gathered from the city in one place so they could be burnt.   But one of the barbarians changed the minds of his fellows by saying that it would be best if the Athenians read all day as they liked, so they didn’t fight.  It would be easier in this way to hold the city.