, an eminent philosopher, and the first preceptor of Pythagoras, was a native of the island of Scyrus, one of the Cyclades, near Delos, and flourished about the 45th olympiad, or B. C. 600. It has been maintained, with great erudition, that Pherecydes derived his principles of philosophy and theogony from the sacred books of the Phoenicians; but little dependence, Brucker thinks, is to be placed upon the authorities by which this opinion is supported; and it will appear, upon inquiry, that the tenets of this philosopher were not less similar to those of the most ancient Grecian and barbaric philosophers, than to the doctrine of the Phoenicians. The opinion of Josephus, that Pherecydes studied philosophy in Egypt, seems more probable; for Egypt was, at that | universally resorted to as the seat of learning; the symbolical method of teaching, which was made use of by Pherecydes, was perfectly after the Egyptian manner; and the general aspect of his doctrine bears a strong resemblance to the dogmas of the Egyptian school.

The particulars which remain, of the life of Pherecydes, are few and imperfect. Marvellous circumstances have been related of him, which only deserve to be mentioned, in order to shew that what has been deemed supernatural by ignorant spectators, may be easily conceived to have happened from natural causes. A ship in full sail was at a distance, approaching its harbour: Pherecydes predicted that it would never come into the haven, and it happened accordingly; for a storm arose, which sunk the vessel. After drinking water from a well, he predicted an earthquake, which happened three days afterwards. It is easy to suppose, that these predictions might have been the result of a careful observation of those phenomena which commonly precede storms or earthquakes, in a climate where they frequently happen. This is the more probable, as it is well known to have been a usual practice with the ancients, and particularly with Pythagoras, the pupil of Pherecydes, to impose upon the ignorant multitude, by pretending to powers which they did not possess, and particularly by applying their knowledge of nature to the purposes of imposture. Pherecydes is said to have been the first among the Grecians who wrote concerning the nature of the gods; but this can only mean, that he was the first who ventured to write upon these subjects in prose; for, before his time, Orpheus, Musaeus, and others, had written theogonies in verse. Pherecydes was much esteeiru-d at Lacedsemon, on account of his poetry inculcating the maxims of Lycurgus. He died at the age of eighty-five. It is not easy to ascertain the nature of the doctrines which he taught: he probably believed in an eternal first cause of all things, and in the immortality of the soul. According to Cicero, he was the first philosopher in whose writings this doc-trine appeared. He is said to have taught the bdief of the transjnigration of the soul: this is probably true; it being a tt iei commonly received among the Egyptians, and afttrvvards taught by Pythagoras, who was, as before observed, a pupil of Pherecydes. 1