Pittacus of Mytilene was a statesman and sage who is known as one of the Seven Wise Men of ancient Hellas. He was born around 652-649 BC and died between 578 and 570 BC. Pittacus was the son of Hyrradius and had a son called Tyrrhaeus. Legend says that Tyrrhaeus was killed and when the murderer was brought before Pittacus, he dismissed the man, saying, 'Pardon is better than repentance', or 'Pardon is better than punishment'.

He was a native of Mytilene and the Mytilenaean general who, with his army, was victorious in the battle against the Athenians and their commander Phrynon. By challenging Phrynon to one-on-one combat and beating him, he prevented massive amounts of bloodshed and ended the war. In consequence of this victory the Mytilenaeans held Pittacus in the greatest honour and presented the supreme power into his hands. After ten years of reign he resigned his position and the city and constitution were brought into good order.

 He was a model of prudence and a political figure distinguished for his reason, wisdom, and political honestly. during his reign, he instituted many laws which tried to elevate the etical level of his fellow man, including the law that anyone who committed a crime when drunk should recieve double punishment.

Many of his sayings were preserved although, as always, we can never be sure if these words were ever uttered by him exactly as they are written here (well, in the Greek, of course).

"It is a hard thing to be a good man."
"Forgiveness is better than revenge."
"Whatever you do, do it well."
"Even the Gods cannot strive against necessity."
"Power shows the man."
"Do not say beforehand what you are going to do; for if you fail, you will be laughed at."
"Do not reproach a man with his misfortunes, fearing lest Nemesis may overtake you."
"Forbear to speak evil not only of your friends, but also of your enemies."
"Cultivate truth, good faith, experience, cleverness, sociability, and industry."
"Know thine opportunity"

Pittacus lived to the age of seventy, at least, and remained highly respected by his fellows--and long after he passed.