A Speech Without a Head

Erasmus, Adagia 1.1.14

“Ἀκέφαλος μῦθος, that is Speech without a head is said of imperfect and mangled speech. Plato, in book six of his Laws writes Οὔκουν δή που λέγων γε ἂν μῦθον ἀκέφαλον ἑκὼν καταλίποιμι· πλανώμενος γὰρ ἂν ἀπάντῃ τοιοῦτος ὢν ἄμορφος φαίνοιτο,  that is, ‘I would not, to be sure, happily abandon the speech without a head after I had begun speaking. Indeed, if a wanderer of such a sort ran into someone, he would seem ill-formed.’ Again, in his Gorgias, he writes Ἀλλ᾿ οὐδὲ τοὺς μύθους φασὶ μεταξὺ θέμις εἶναι καταλείπειν, ἀλλ᾿ ἐπιθέντας κεφαλήν, ἵνα μὴ ἄνευ κεφαλῆς περιΐῃ  that is, ‘but they say that it is not right to desert your speeches; rather, you must put a head on them, lest they stumble about without it.’ Perhaps he was alluding to that which Plutarch notes in his dialogue On Defective Oracles. Among the Cretans, there was a certain festival conducted with new-fangled and ridiculous ceremonies, when a statue of a man was shown without a head. They say that this was the father of Homerion, who raped a nymph and was found without a head. This proverb is related by Zenodotus.”

Image result for headless horseman

Ἀκέφαλος μῦθος, id est Sine capite sermo, dicitur imperfectus ac mutilus. Plato libro De legibus sexto : Οὔκουν δή που λέγων γε ἂν μῦθον ἀκέφαλον ἑκὼν καταλίποιμι· πλανώμενος γὰρ ἂν ἀπάντῃ τοιοῦτος ὢν ἄμορφος φαίνοιτο, id est Nequaquam profecto, postea quam dicendi parteis suscepi, sermonem absque capite libens reliquerim. Etenim si oberrans talis occurrat alicui, foedus videretur. Rursus in Gorgia : Ἀλλ᾿ οὐδὲ τοὺς μύθους φασὶ μεταξὺ θέμις εἶναι καταλείπειν, ἀλλ᾿ ἐπιθέντας κεφαλήν, ἵνα μὴ ἄνευ κεφαλῆς περιΐῃ, id est At ne sermones quidem interim aiunt fas esse deserere, quin potius imponendum illis caput, ne sine capite obambulent. Fortassis allusit ad id, quod refert Plutarchus in dialogo De defectis oraculis. Apud Cretenses festum quoddam novis et absurdis ceremoniis agebatur ostenso hominis simulachro sine capite. Hunc aiebant Homerioni patrem fuisse, qui constuprata per vim nympha sine capite fuerit repertus. Proverbium refertur a Zenodoto.

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