Erasmus, Adagia 1.3
‘No one governs well who will not submit to be governed.’
Nemo bene imperat, nisi qui paruerit imperio.
Οὐκ ἔστιν εὖ ἄρξειν μὴ ἀρχθέντα, that is, it cannot happen that someone will wield power well unless he bears it well, too. This adage remains popular among the masses today, that no one plays the part of the master well unless he first played the servant. Aristotle cites in the third book of his Politics Διὸ λέγεται καὶ τοῦτο καλῶς, ὡς οὐκ ἔστιν εὖ ἄρξειν μὴ ἀρχθέντα, that is ‘On that account, it is rightly said that no one rules well unless he was first himself subject to being ruled. Again, in the same book, Τόν τε γὰρ μέλλοντα ἄρχειν καλῶς ἀρχθῆναί φασι δεῖν πρῶτον, that is, ‘they say that one who is about to govern well should properly bear being ruled first.’ Plato, in Book VI of The Laws, rendered this more proverbially Δεῖ δὴ πάντ᾿ ἄνδρα διανοεῖσθαι περὶ ἁπάντων ἀνθρώπων, ὡς ὁ μὴ δουλεύσας οὐδ᾿ ἂν δεσπότης γένοιτο ἄξιος ἐπαίνου, that is ‘Now it is necessary for everyone to think of all people, that he who has not served will hardly be a master worthy of praise.’Plutarch, Against an Inexperienced Leader, Οὔτε γὰρ πίπτοντός ἐστιν ὀρθοῦν οὔτε διδάσκειν ἀγνοοῦντος οὔτε ἀκοσμοῦντος κοσμεῖν ἢ τάττειν ἀτακτοῦντος ἢ ἄρχειν μὴ ἀρχομένου, that is ‘It is not the place of the fallen to straighten out others, or is it the place of the ignorant to teach, nor of the disordered to order nor of the disorganized to organize, unless he has first submitted to power. Plutarch also attributed this virtue to Agesilaus in particular: Ἐλθεῖν ἐπὶ τὸ ἄρχειν μὴ ἀπαίδευτον τοῦ ἄρχεσθαι, that is, ‘to have come to power, not unknowing how to obey power.’ Seneca, in book II of On Anger: ‘No one can rule, unless he can be ruled.’ This adage originated from that noble saying of Solon, because Diogenes relates in his biography: Ἄρχε πρῶτον μαθὼν ἄρχεσθαι, [‘Rule by first learning to be ruled.’] that is, ‘bear power, but only once you have learned first to bear being ruled.’And so, it can refer to those who learn by obeying another’s power how to employ their power over others, or to those who first exercise power over their own desires before they exercise their power on others. One is not fit to dominate others if he is a slave to his own impulses, nor can one be a king to others, unless reason is a king to him.”
Nemo bene imperat, nisi qui paruerit imperio.iii
Οὐκ ἔστιν εὖ ἄρξειν μὴ ἀρχθέντα, id est Fieri non potest, ut bene gerat imperium, qui non tulerit imperium. Manet hoc adagium hodieque vulgo celebre, neminem recte dominum agere, qui non ante ministrum gesserit. Citat autem Aristoteles Politicorum libro tertio : Διὸ λέγεται καὶ τοῦτο καλῶς, ὡς οὐκ ἔστιν εὖ ἄρξειν μὴ ἀρχθέντα, id est Quapropter illud etiam recte dicitur neminem bene imperium gerere, qui non ipse prius sub imperio fuerit. Rursum eodem libro : Τόν τε γὰρ μέλλοντα ἄρχειν καλῶς ἀρχθῆναί φασι δεῖν πρῶτον, id est Eum enim qui bene sit administraturus imperium, aiunt imperium ferre prius oportere. Magis proverbialiter extulit Plato libro De legibus sexto : Δεῖ δὴ πάντ᾿ ἄνδρα διανοεῖσθαι περὶ ἁπάντων ἀνθρώπων, ὡς ὁ μὴ δουλεύσας οὐδ᾿ ἂν δεσπότης γένοιτο ἄξιος ἐπαίνου, id est Jam illud oportet ununquemque de mortalibus universis cogitare, qui non servierit, eum haudquaquam dominum fore laude dignum. Plutarchus In ducem imperitum : Οὔτε γὰρ πίπτοντός ἐστιν ὀρθοῦν οὔτε διδάσκειν ἀγνοοῦντος οὔτε ἀκοσμοῦντος κοσμεῖν ἢ τάττειν ἀτακτοῦντος ἢ ἄρχειν μὴ ἀρχομένου, id est Neque enim lapsi parteis sunt alios erigere neque inscii docere neque incompositi componere neque ordinare inordinati neque imperare, qui imperium non sit passus. Idem hoc laudis peculiariter tribuit Agesilao : Ἐλθεῖν ἐπὶ τὸ ἄρχειν μὴ ἀπαίδευτον τοῦ ἄρχεσθαι, id est Venisse ad imperium non indoctum parere imperio. Seneca libro De ira II : Nemo regere potest, nisi qui et regi. Natum adagium a nobili illo Solonis apophthegmate, quod in ejus vita refert Diogenes Laertius : Ἄρχε πρῶτον μαθὼν ἄρχεσθαι, id est Imperium gere, sed ubi prius imperium ferre didiceris. Itaque referri potest vel ad eos, qui prius alieno parendo imperio discunt imperium in alios gerere vel qui prius cupiditatibus imperant suis, quam in alios exerceant imperium. Neque enim idoneus est ut aliis dominetur, qui ipse servit affectibus, neque rex aliis esse potest, nisi quem ratio rexerit.