“Don’t Be Empty-Minded or Rude” – Cleobolus of Caria

Cleobolus of Caria,  According to Diogenes Laertius 1.6 91-93


“These were the most famous of Cleobolus’ songs

Poor taste has the greater share among mortals, along with an excess of arguments: but timeliness is enough. Think about something good. Don’t be empty-minded or rude. He used to say that it was right to marry off daughters who were maidens in age but women in their minds—he showed in this that it was also right to have girls educated. He used to say that it was necessary to do good work for a friend so he might become a better friend and to make an enemy into a friend. For we should guard against the reproach of a friend and the plotting of an enemy. Whenever you leave your home, figure out first what you plan to do; when you return again, consider what you have done.

He used to advise that we exercise our bodies well; that it is better to be fond of listening than fond of talking. Keep a righteous tongue. Be friendly to virtue and hostile to vice. Avoid injustice; advise the best to the city. Conquer pleasure. Do nothing by violence. Educate children. Resolve hatred.  Don’t be too kind or fight with your wife when strangers are around—the former shows stupidity; the latter is madness. Don’t chastise a servant over wine, for you will seem drunk. Marry an equal: if you take a spouse from a higher class, you get her relatives as masters.  Don’t laugh at men who are being mocked: they will hate you. Don’t be arrogant when you are lucky or wretched when you’re not. Learn how to endure luck’s changes with nobility.”


Τῶν δὲ ᾀδομένων αὐτοῦ εὐδοκίμησε τάδε: Ἀμουσία τὸ πλέον μέρος ἐν βροτοῖσι, λόγων τε πλῆθος: ἀλλ᾽ ὁ καιρὸς ἀρκέσει. φρόνει τι κεδνόν. μὴ μάταιος ἄχαρις γινέσθω. ἔφη δὲ δεῖν συνοικίζειν τὰς θυγατέρας, παρθένους μὲν τὴν ἡλικίαν, τὸ δὲ φρονεῖν γυναῖκας: ὑποδεικνὺς ὅτι δεῖ παιδεύεσθαι καὶ τὰς παρθένους. ἔλεγέ τε τὸν φίλον δεῖν εὐεργετεῖν, ὅπως μᾶλλον ᾖ φίλος: τὸν δὲ ἐχθρὸν φίλον ποιεῖν. φυλάσσεσθαι γὰρ τῶν μὲν φίλων τὸν ψόγον, τῶν δὲ ἐχθρῶν τὴν ἐπιβουλήν. καὶ ὅταν τις ἐξίῃ τῆς οἰκίας, ζητείτω πρότερον τί μέλλει πράσσειν: καὶ ὅταν εἰσέλθῃ πάλιν, ζητείτω τί ἔπραξε. συνεβούλευέ τε εὖ τὸ σῶμα ἀσκεῖν: φιλήκοον εἶναι μᾶλλον ἢ φιλόλαλον: [φιλομαθῆ μᾶλλον ἢ ἀμαθῆ:] γλῶσσαν εὔφημον ἴσχειν: ἀρετῆς οἰκεῖον εἶναι, κακίας ἀλλότριον: ἀδικίαν φεύγειν: πόλει τὰ βέλτιστα συμβουλεύειν: ἡδονῆς κρατεῖν: βίᾳ μηδὲν πράττειν: τέκνα παιδεύειν: ἐχθρὰν διαλύειν. γυναικὶ μὴ φιλοφρονεῖσθαι, μηδὲ μάχεσθαι, ἀλλοτρίων παρόντων: τὸ μὲν γὰρ ἄνοιαν, τὸ δὲ μανίαν σημαίνειν. οἰκέτην παρ᾽ οἶνον μὴ κολάζειν, δοκεῖν γὰρ ἂν παροινεῖν. γαμεῖν ἐκ τῶν ὁμοίων: ἂν γὰρ ἐκ τῶν κρειττόνων λάβῃς, φησί, 5 [93] δεσπότας κτήσῃ τοὺς συγγενέας. μὴ ἐπεγγελᾶν τοῖς σκωπτομένοις: ἀπεχθήσεσθαι γὰρ τούτοις. εὐτυχῶν μὴ ἴσθι ὑπερήφανος: ἀπορήσας μὴ ταπεινοῦ. τὰς μεταβολὰς τῆς τύχης γενναίως ἐπίστασο φέρειν.

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