Euripides, Suppliants 124

“They don’t know how to bear success.”

εὐτυχοῦντες οὐκ ἐπίστανται φέρειν.

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Livy, ab Urbe Condita 3.19.12

“It is better to turn the lesson of history to good account than to await the experience itself.”

…suspicari de praeterito quam re ipsa experiri melius est.

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Euripides, Hippolytus 916-920

O humanity, you miss the mark so often! You teach so many skills, and you have contrived and discovered all things, yet why do you not know nor seek to teach fools to reason rightly?

ὦ πόλλ᾽ ἁμαρτάνοντες ἄνθρωποι μάτην,
τί δὴ τέχνας μὲν μυρίας διδάσκετε
καὶ πάντα μηχανᾶσθε κἀξευρίσκετε,
ἓν δ᾽ οὐκ ἐπίστασθ᾽ οὐδ᾽ ἐθηράσασθέ πω,
φρονεῖν διδάσκειν οἷσιν οὐκ ἔνεστι νοῦς;

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Seneca, Epistulae ad Lucilium 17.3

“For many, riches have stood in the way of philosophizing; poverty is unimpeded, free from care.”

multis ad philosophandum obstitere divitiae; paupertas expedita est, secura est.

As a note, Seneca was fabulously wealthy, and the only truly poor but serious philosophers of the ancient world that readily present themselves to the mind are Diogenes and Socrates. Indeed, subsequent history has strongly suggested that a certain moderate affluence is most conducive to philosophical speculation.

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Xenophon, Oeconomicus 11.3-12.1

 

“First, Socrates, you can’t make lushes pay attention: drinking makes them heedless of everything that needs doing.”

 

 

Πρῶτον μέν, ἔφη, ὦ Σώκρατες, τοὺς οἴνου ἀκρατεῖς οὐκ ἂν δύναιο ἐπιμελεῖς ποιῆσαι· τὸ γὰρ μεθύειν λήθην ἐμποιεῖ πάντων τῶν πράττειν δεομένων.

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Seneca, Epistulae ad Lucilium 16.7-8

“I consider as my own whatever is well-put by anyone else. Here too is a sentiment expressed by Epicurus: ‘If you live according to nature, you will never be poor; if you live according to fancy, you will never be rich.” For nature desires very little, but the desires of fancy are boundless.”

quicquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est. istud quoque ab Epicuro dictum est: ‘si ad naturam vives, numquam eris pauper: si ad opiniones, numquam eris dives.’ exiguum natura desiderat, opinio immensum.

Seneca feels the need to add the prefatory note of the first sentence in order to justify quoting Epicurus, whose philosophical system was most directly contrary to the one embraced by Seneca (and many other wealthy Romans), Stoicism. However, Seneca quotes Epicurus numerous times throughout these letters, and – contrary to our own modern methods of philosophical dispute – has no qualms about conceding that another thinker may be correct about a matter, though your philosophical systems be opposed. In truth, although Stoicism and Epicureanism are often presented as rivals and even diametrically-opposite belief systems, they are much more similar in aim, method, and thought than many rival philosophies of other times. Indeed, they share more in common with each other than either one does with the other two popular philosophical schools of Seneca’s time, Platonism and Skepticism.

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Euripides, Hippolytus 486-7

“This is it which has destroyed the firmly-settled cities and homes of men: overly fine speaking.”

τοῦτ᾽ ἔσθ᾽ ὃ θνητῶν εὖ πόλεις οἰκουμένας
δόμους τ᾽ ἀπόλλυσ᾽, οἱ καλοὶ λίαν λόγοι.

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