The ancient sources date Pherecydes’ maturity toward the middle of the sixth century BC (544/40), making him younger than Anaximander. But the chronological data are not certain enough to allow us to say which man is the likelier candidate for the title of the most ancient author of philosophy in prose—if indeed the term “philosophy” is meaningful in the case of Pherecydes. But what is certain is that he represents an interesting transitional figure between two types of discourse, theogony and cosmogony, which were becoming differentiated from one another at that time. Already Aristotle described Pherecydes’ thought as “mixed.”

Scholastic reconstructions, distorting somewhat the chronology, attribute to Pherecydes the same kind of function within the Italic line of descent as Thales’ within the Ionian one: he is said to have been Pythagoras’ teacher, as Thales was Anaximander’s. This line of descent gave rise to stories often repeated in antiquity [cf. PYTH. a P12–P15] but is most probably fictitious.