The Ancients Say Talk Less

Hesiod, Works & Days 760-764.

Do this: stay clear of men’s awful talk.
Talk’s evil: airy and easy to take up,
But trouble to sustain, and hard to put down.
No talk ever dies once the bulk of men
Get going. In a way Talk too is a god.

ὧδ᾽ ἔρδειν: δεινὴν δὲ βροτῶν ὑπαλεύεο φήμην:
φήμη γάρ τε κακὴ πέλεται, κούφη μὲν ἀεῖραι
ῥεῖα μάλ᾽, ἀργαλέη δὲ φέρειν, χαλεπὴ δ᾽ ἀποθέσθαι.
φήμη δ᾽ οὔτις πάμπαν ἀπόλλυται, ἥν τινα πολλοὶ
λαοὶ φημίξουσι: θεός νύ τίς ἐστι καὶ αὐτή.

Heraclitus Fragments:

Let’s not join in speaking breezily about the most important things.

μὴ εἰκῆ περὶ τῶν μεγίστων συμβαλλώμεθα


A foolish person loves to be distracted by all that’s said.

βλὰξ ἄνθρωπος ἐπὶ παντὶ λόγῳ ἐπτοῆσθαι φιλεῖ

Mosaic of Hesiod. 3rd Century CE.
Rhineland Museum, Trier Germany.

Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at

Leave a Reply