The Worst Things and the Best Speeches

Some Fragments from Democritus

Fr. 38

“It is fine to hinder the one who commits injustice; if not, it is noble not to do wrong with him.”

καλὸν μὲν τὸν ἀδικέοντα κωλύειν· εἰ δὲ μή, μὴ ξυναδικέειν.

Fr. 39

“It is good either to be noble or to imitate it.”

ἀγαθὸν ἢ εἶναι χρεὼν ἢ μιμεῖσθαι

Fr. 40

“Human beings live in good fortune neither by body nor by money but by rectitude and great-intelligence.”

οὔτε σώμασιν οὔτε χρήμασιν εὐδαιμονοῦσιν ἄνθρωποι, ἀλλ’ ὀρθοσύνηι καὶ πολυφροσύνηι.

Fr. 41

“Restrain yourself from mistakes because of what is right not because of fear.”

μὴ διὰ φόβον, ἀλλὰ διὰ τὸ δέον ἀπέχεσθαι ἁμαρτημάτων


Fr. 43

“A change of mind is a saving grace among shameful deeds.”

μεταμέλεια ἐπ’ αἰσχροῖσιν ἔργμασι βίου σωτηρίη.

Fr. 44

“It is right to be a speaker of truth not of many words.”

ἀληθόμυθον χρὴ εἶναι, οὐ πολύλογον

Fr. 45

“The one who does wrong is more evil than the one who is wronged.”

ὁ ἀδικῶν τοῦ ἀδικουμένου κακοδαιμονέστερος.

Fr. 48

“The good person makes no reckoning of rebuking fools.”

μωμεομένων φλαύρων ὁ ἀγαθὸς οὐ ποιεῖται λόγον

Fr. 49

“It is hard to be ruled by the worse person.”

χαλεπὸν ἄρχεσθαι ὑπὸ χερείονος

Fr. 50

“The one completely bested by money could never be just.”

ὁ χρημάτων παντελῶς ἥσσων οὐκ ἄν ποτε εἴη δίκαιος.

Fr. 51

“An argument inclined toward persuasion is often stronger than gold.”

ἰσχυρότερος ἐς πειθὼ λόγος πολλαχῆι γίνεται χρυσοῦ


Fr. 53

“Many live according to reason even if they have not learned it.”

πολλοὶ λόγον μὴ μαθόντες ζῶσι κατὰ λόγον.

Fr. 54

“Many who do the worst things prepare the best speeches.”

πολλοὶ δρῶντες τὰ αἴσχιστα λόγους ἀρίστους ἀσκέουσιν

1477 Italian fresco, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan.

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