“Do Nothing for Money” – Periander of Corinth

Periander of Corinth, 1.7 (Diogenes Laertius 97-98)


“His sayings are these: Do nothing for money: It is right that profitable trades gain profit. He composed a poem of advice at two hundred lines. He said that those who want to be tyrants safely should use intelligence as a bodyguard, not weapons.  When someone asked why he reigned as a tyrant, he said “because stepping down is a risk like being disenfranchised”. And he also said, “rest is beautiful; impetuosity is risky; profit is shameful; democracy is stronger than tyranny; pleasures are temporary while honors are immortal. Be measured when you are lucky and prudent when you are not. Be the same to friends who are fortunate and those who are not. Stick to whatever you agree. Don’t expose secrets. Don’t correct only those who do wrong, but those who are about to.”


Τούτου ἐστὶ καὶ τὸ Μηδὲν χρημάτων ἕνεκα πράττειν: δεῖν γὰρ τὰ κερδαντὰ κερδαίνειν. ἐποίησε δὲ καὶ ὑποθήκας εἰς ἔπη δισχίλια. εἶπέ τε τοὺς μέλλοντας ἀσφαλῶς τυραννήσειν τῇ εὐνοίᾳ δορυφορεῖσθαι, καὶ μὴ τοῖς ὅπλοις. καί ποτε ἐρωτηθεὶς διὰ τί τυραννεῖ, ἔφη, “ὅτι καὶ τὸ ἑκουσίως ἀποστῆναι καὶ τὸ ἀφαιρεθῆναι κίνδυνον φέρει.” ἔλεγε δὲ καὶ τάδε: καλὸν ἡσυχία: ἐπισφαλὲς προπέτεια: κέρδος αἰσχρόν: δημοκρατία κρεῖττον τυραννίδος: αἱ μὲν ἡδοναὶ φθαρταί, αἱ δὲ τιμαὶ ἀθάνατοι: 5 [98] εὐτυχῶν μὲν μέτριος ἴσθι, δυστυχῶν δὲ φρόνιμος: φίλοις εὐτυχοῦσι καὶ ἀτυχοῦσιν ὁ αὐτὸς ἴσθι: ὃ ἂν ὁμολογήσῃς, διατήρει: λόγων ἀπορρήτων ἐκφορὰν μὴ ποιοῦ: μὴ μόνον τοὺς ἁμαρτάνοντας, ἀλλὰ καὶ τοὺς μέλλοντας κόλαζε.

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