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What were Thales's views on marriage and sexuality?

Allegedly, when someone asked him why he didn't have children, he replied "Because I am fond of children."

  • Thales is a semi-legendary figure, we are not even sure if he ever lived. And even optimistically all we have of him are dubious anecdotes and a dozen short quotes, none of which address marriage or sexuality. – Conifold Apr 17 '18 at 22:31
  • Wiki's entry on Thales has a good discussion about Reliability of sources. See also : Georg Wöhrle, ed. (2014), The Milesians: Thales. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Apr 18 '18 at 6:25
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The source of stories about Thales, marriage, children and sexuality is mainly Diogenes Laertius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, given extra circulation in Plutarch's Lives.

Given, then, the unlikelihood that Plutarch had access to any genuine work of Thales, what were his sources for this Milesian? Only twice are these specifically mentioned. One is at Vit. Sol.[Vitae Solonis, Life of Solon] 6, 1 ff. where Solon visiting Thales at Miletus, was astonished at his host's indifference to marriage and the begetting of children (cf. Quaest. conviv. 654 D and Diog. Laert. I, 26). After tricking Solon into believing that his son is dead, Thales explains that though the report is not true, such uncertainities prevented him from marriage and raising a family: these are the things Hermippus says Pataecus narrated ... Plutarch used Hermippus of Smyrna elsewhere in the 'Lives', there is no doubt the story comes from the Peripatetic biographer. (Jackson P. Hershbell, 'Plutarch and the Milesian Philosophers', Hermes, 114. Bd., H. 2 (2nd Qtr., 1986), pp. 178-9.)

Diogenes Laertius on Solon can be checked at :

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0258%3Abook%3D1%3Achapter%3D1

Very little credibility can be attached to the relevant sayings and anecdotes, for which there is no external confirmation.

REFERENCE

Jackson P. Hershbell, 'Plutarch and the Milesian Philosophers', Hermes, 114. Bd., H. 2 (2nd Qtr., 1986), pp. 172-185.

  • Conclusion : we do not know what "Thales's views on marriage and sexuality" were. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Apr 19 '18 at 8:34
  • I referred to 'stories' and said that 'very little credibility can be attached to the relevant sayings and anecdotes'. I expected readers to realise from this that it is pretty obvious that we do not know. But thank you for putting straight any readers who may have thought otherwise. – Geoffrey Thomas Apr 19 '18 at 8:53

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