Bion of Borysthenes (Greek: Βίων Βορυσθενίτης, gen.: Βίωνος; c. 325 – c. 250 BC), was a Greek philosopher. After being sold into slavery, and then released, he moved to Athens, where he studied in almost every school of philosophy. It is, however, for his Cynic-style diatribes that he is chiefly remembered. He satirized the foolishness of people, attacked religion, and eulogized philosophy.
Because of his early association with the Academy, Diogenes Laërtius placed Bion among the Academics, but there is nothing in his life or thought suggesting an affinity with Platonism and modern scholars regard him as a Cynic, albeit an atypical one with strong Hedonistic or Cyrenaic leanings. Much of what Laërtius has to say about Bion seems to have been drawn from hostile sources so care has to be taken in using his account to reconstruct Bion's life and thought. Laërtius reveals to us a man of considerable intellectual acuteness, but quite ready to attack everyone and everything. He was essentially a popular writer, and in his Diatribes he satirized the foolishness of people. While eulogizing poverty and philosophy, he attacked the gods, musicians, geometricians, astrologers, and the wealthy, and denied the efficacy of prayer. Laërtius accuses Bion of atheism, but the surviving fragments reveal only a religious skepticism concerning mystery religions, oracles, etc. The quotations of Bion recorded by Teles, and preserved by Stobaeus reveal a man who "treats of ordinary human problems in a common-sense spirit, though for emphasis employing all the devices of contemporary prose style. ... The situations dealt with are those that may confront any person, from the universalia of old age, poverty, exile, slavery, the fear of death, down to the more particular case of a nagging wife."
His influence is distinctly traceable in succeeding writers, e.g. in the satires of Menippus. Horace alludes to his satires and caustic wit. Examples of this wit are his sayings:
"The miser did not possess wealth, but was possessed by it."
"Impiety was the companion of credulity, [and] avarice the metropolis of vice."
"Good slaves are really free, and bad freemen really slaves."