I recently came across an interesting quote in a book I was reading. Here's the excerpt from the book:

"A woman's particular virtue is modesty (σωφοσυνη), for by it she is enabled to honor and love her husband" (Phintys, daughter of Callicrates, a Pythagorean philosopher).155

155. From book 4 of Joannes Stobaeus's anthology accessed through the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae of University of California, Irvine.

I'm wondering when Phintys said this?

  • 2
    God, too bad more women can't read Greek. What does this have to do with history? Since Callicates was a 5th century BC philosopher, my guess she said it in the 5th century BC. I am going on out on limb with that one? – Tyler Durden Jan 23 '15 at 0:06
  • @TylerDurden Thanks, that's what I was looking for. This is my first post on this site, so I wasn't sure if it was on topic. If not, feel free to close it. If it is, post that as an answer and I'll accept it. – Jas 3.1 Jan 23 '15 at 3:57
  • 3
    The quote is from Phintys' treatise "Περὶ γυναικὸς σωφροσύνης". We don't know exactly when it was written, the language used was a Doric dialect used in the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. – yannis Jan 23 '15 at 5:42

Since Callicates was a 5th century BC philosopher, it would seemly likely she said it in the 5th century BC.

Note that linguistic evidence cannot be used to date the author, because it is very likely the text was changed or emended at some point. For example, Stobaeus, the sole source for the quote, who was writing in the 5th century AD, many hundreds of years later, may have changed or altered the text in some way. Also, Stobaeus may have relied on a different author's rendition of Phyntis, which is even more likely. In this scenario, Phyntis' work may have been related by some compiler in the 4th, 3rd or 2nd century BC who edited the text using language familiar to them, and Stobaeus simply repeated that author's version. In either case, the exact language ultimately received could be different than what Phyntis originally wrote.

Just as one example of this are the "writings" of Aesop, who is one of the earliest Greek authors. The language we have of his is largely believed to be that of later compilers, not his own.

  • 3
    This is incorrect, bordering on bs. We don't know who Phintys' father was. Some sources mention Callicrates, others mention Callicratidas (who may or may not have been a Spartan admiral). Even if her father's name was Callicrates, we know absolutely nothing about him. Furthermore, although we don't know exactly when Phintys lived, it was either in the 4th or the 3rd century BC, not in the 5th. Please refrain from posting answers when you have no knowledge of the subject matter. – yannis Jan 23 '15 at 5:37
  • 1
    The referenced quote is a motto or anecdote which is entirely consistent with known Pythagorean writings which also date from the 5th century BC. Phyntis is only known from the writings of Stobaeus who calls her the daughter of Callicrates, and there is no reason to doubt him. The so-called "linguistic" evidence is not evidence at all because Stobaeus was writing in the 5th century AD and may have changed or modernized the language. The motto-like style of the text indicates a relationship to Pythagorean era philosophy. – Tyler Durden Jan 23 '15 at 17:21
  • 1
    @YannisRizos I resent your confrontational attitude. I don't go around attacking your answers and pointing out the many flaws in them, as I could very well do. If you have BETTER answer I invite you to provide it. History is developed by providing information, not making tendentious attacks on people you don't like. – Tyler Durden Jan 23 '15 at 17:24
  • 1
    "I don't go around attacking your answers and pointing out the many flaws in them" Please do. If there are flaws in my answers, I'd like nothing more than to fix them. – yannis Jan 23 '15 at 18:19

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.