Silent Out of Necessity

Theognis, Elegies 225-256

“Most beautiful is what is most just; the best thing is to be healthy
Most pleasurable of all: to gain whatever you love.”

κάλλιστον τὸ δικαιότατον· λῷστον δ᾿ ὑγιαίνειν·
πρᾶγμα δὲ τερπνότατον, τοῦ τις ἐρᾷ, τὸ τυχεῖν.


“I am the craziest among the crazy, but among just men
I am the justest person of all.”

ἐν μὲν μαινομένοις μάλα μαίνομαι, ἐν δὲ δικαίοις
πάντων ἀνθρώπων εἰμὶ δικαιότατος.


“Charm your enemy well. But whenever the advantage is yours,
Pay him back without any explanation.”

εὖ κώτιλλε τὸν ἐχθρόν· ὅταν δ᾿ ὑποχείριος ἔλθῃ,
τεῖσαί μιν πρόφασιν μηδεμίαν θέμενος.


“Keep your thoughts close, but let your tongue be ever sweet:
A temper which grows sharply is a mark of worthless men.”

ἴσχε νόῳ, γλώσσῃ δὲ τὸ μείλιχον αἰὲν ἐπέστω·
δειλῶν τοι τελέθει καρδίη ὀξυτέρη.


“Many things which occur I understand—but I am silent
Because of necessity, since I know my own power.”

πολλά με καὶ συνιέντα παρέρχεται· ἀλλ᾿ ὑπ᾿ἀνάγκης
σιγῶ, γινώσκων ἡμετέρην δύναμιν.


“Exhaust yourself for excellence; let just pursuits be dear do you;
Never may any profit which is shameful overpower you.”

ἀμφ᾿ ἀρετῇ τρίβου, καί τοι τὰ δίκαια φίλ᾿ ἔστω,
μηδέ σε νικάτω κέρδος ὅ τ᾿ αἰσχρὸν ἔῃ.

Publius Terencius Afer, Comoediae [comédies de Térence] ca. 1411;  Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, Ms-664 réserve, 157r
Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Ms-664 réserve, 157r

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