Revenge is a Dish Best Served with Ample Notice

Epistles of Phalaris, 13:

To Herodicus

If another person had suffered badly at another person’s hands, he would not make an avowal of his intent for revenge against the perpetrator, so that he would not be suspected in his design. I think that it is the act of a vile man to get the better of someone who is unaware. Having, then, been first injured by you, I warn you to take care of the great revenge coming your way from me, so that before the suffering, you can be chastised by the foreknowledge of it, and after the foreknowledge, you can experience the suffering itself.

῾Ηροδίκῳ.

῎Αλλου μὲν ἦν κακῶς πεπονθότος μηδὲν ὁμολογῆσαι πρὸς τὸν δεδρακότα περὶ ἀμύνης, ἵν’ ὡς ἥκιστα πρὸς αὐτὸν ὕποπτος ἁλῴη, ἐγὼ δὲ τοῦτο μὲν ἀγεννοῦς ἀνδρὸς ἔργον ἡγοῦμαι τὸ τὸν ἀγνοοῦντα χειρώσασθαι. προηδικημένος δ’ ὑπὸ σοῦ μεγάλα μηνύω σοι φυλάττεσθαι τὴν ἐπιοῦσαν ἐξ ἡμῶν ἄμυναν, ἵνα πρὸ τοῦ μὲν παθεῖν ἡ προσδοκία κολάζῃ σε, μετὰ δὲ τὴν προσδοκίαν αὐτὸ τὸ παθεῖν.

Wanna Be A Baller, Shot Caller, Lib’ral Arts Degree Hanging On The Wall-a

Pier Paolo Vergerio,
de Ingenuis Moribus et Liberalibus Adulescentiae Studiis (§2):

But while it is right that all people (especially parents) should be such as to seek to educate their children properly and since it is fitting that children should be such that they seem worthy of good parents, yet it is especially true for those who occupy a lofty place in society, whose every saying and deed is exposed to the public eye, that they should be educated in the most important subjects, so that they can be considered worthy of the fortune and rank of dignity which they achieve. It is only fair that those who think that all the best is owed to them should be examples of the best themselves. Nor is there any more sure or stable principle of ruling than that those who get hold of power should be judged by all to be the most worthy of it.

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“But there’s got to be a better way!”

Verum cum omnes homines deceat (parentes quidem in primis) eos esse qui recte erudire suos liberos studeant et filios deinde tales qui parentibus bonis digni videri possint, praecipue tamen qui excelsiore loco sunt, quorumque nihil neque dictum neque factum latere potest, decens est ita principalibus artibus instructos esse, ut et fortuna et gradu dignitatis quam obtinent digni habeantur. Aequum est enim qui sibi summa omnia deberi volunt, debere et eos summa omnia de se praestare. Nec est ulla certior aut stabilior regnandi ratio quam si hi qui regna obtinent, ab omnibus dignissimi omnium regno iudicentur.

Nothing But Hate, Bad News, and Disgust!

Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy 2.3.7:

“I say the same of scoffs, slanders, contumelies, obloquies, defamations, detractions, pasquilling libels, and the like, which may tend any way to our disgrace: ’tis but opinion; if we could neglect, contemn, or with patience digest them, they would reflect on them that offered them at first. A wise citizen, I know not whence, had a scold to his wife: when she brawled, he played on his drum, and by that means madded her more, because she saw that he would not be moved. Diogenes in a crowd when one called him back, and told him how the boys laughed him to scorn, Ego, inquit, non rideor [I am not being laughed at], took no notice of it. Socrates was brought upon the stage by Aristophanes, and misused to his face, but he laughed as if it concerned him not: and as Aelian relates of him, whatsoever good or bad accident or fortune befel him going in or coming out, Socrates still kept the same countenance; even so should a Christian do, as Hierom describes him, per infamiam et bonam famam grassari ad immortalitatem, march on through good and bad reports to immortality, not to be moved: for honesty is a sufficient reward, probitas sibi praemium; and in our times the sole recompense to do well, is, to do well: but naughtiness will punish itself at last, Improbis ipsa nequitia supplicium [to the wicked, their own worthlessness is their punishment]. As the diverb is,

Qui bene fecerunt, illi sua facta sequentur;
Qui male fecerunt, facta sequentur eos:
They that do well, shall have reward at last:
But they that ill, shall suffer for that’s past.

Yea, but I am ashamed, disgraced, dishonoured, degraded, exploded: my notorious crimes and villainies are come to light (deprendi miserum est [it is a miserable thing to be caught]), my filthy lust, abominable oppression and avarice lies open, my good name’s lost, my fortune’s gone, I have been stigmatised, whipped at post, arraigned and condemned, I am a common obloquy, I have lost my ears, odious, execrable, abhorred of God and men. Be content, ’tis but a nine days’ wonder, and as one sorrow drives out another, one passion another, one cloud another, one rumour is expelled by another; every day almost, come new news unto our ears, as how the sun was eclipsed, meteors seen in the air, monsters born, prodigies, how the Turks were overthrown in Persia, an earthquake in Helvetia, Calabria, Japan, or China, an inundation in Holland, a great plague in Constantinople, a fire at Prague, a dearth in Germany, such a man is made a lord, a bishop, another hanged, deposed, pressed to death, for some murder, treason, rape, theft, oppression, all which we do hear at first with a kind of admiration, detestation, consternation, but by and by they are buried in silence: thy father’s dead, thy brother robbed, wife runs mad, neighbour hath killed himself; ’tis heavy, ghastly, fearful news at first, in every man’s mouth, table talk; but after a while who speaks or thinks of it?

It will be so with thee and thine offence, it will be forgotten in an instant, be it theft, rape, sodomy, murder, incest, treason, &c., thou art not the first offender, nor shalt not be the last, ’tis no wonder, every hour such malefactors are called in question, nothing so common, Quocunque in populo, quocunque sub axe [in every population, under every pole]? Comfort thyself, thou art not the sole man. If he that were guiltless himself should fling the first stone at thee, and he alone should accuse thee that were faultless, how many executioners, how many accusers wouldst thou have? If every man’s sins were written in his forehead, and secret faults known, how many thousands would parallel, if not exceed thine offence? It may be the judge that gave sentence, the jury that condemned thee, the spectators that gazed on thee, deserved much more, and were far more guilty than thou thyself. But it is thine infelicity to be taken, to be made a public example of justice, to be a terror to the rest; yet should every man have his desert, thou wouldst peradventure be a saint in comparison; vexat censura columbas [criticism harasses the doves], poor souls are punished; the great ones do twenty thousand times worse, and are not so much as spoken of.”

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Philosophical Benefits and Warnings

Seneca, Moral Epistle 5.4

“The first thing philosophy promises is a shared communion, humanity and friendship with others. Our differences from others will keep us from this promise. We must examine that those very values through which we hope to create admiration do not become laughable and hateful”

Hoc primum philosophia promittit, sensum communem,humanitatem et congregationem. A qua professione dissimilitudo nos separabit. Videamus, ne ista, per quae admirationem parare volumus, ridicula et odiosa sint.

Orphica fr. 334

“I will sing to those who understand: blockheads, close your doors.”
ἀείσω ξυνετοῖσι, θύρας δ᾿ ἐπίθεσθε βεβήλοι

Epicurus’ Maxims

“Nature’s wealth is the finest and easiest to obtain. But the ‘wealth’ of empty beliefs trails endlessly away.”

XV. ῾Ο τῆς φύσεως πλοῦτος καὶ ὥρισται καὶ εὐπόριστός ἐστιν· ὁ δὲ τῶν κενῶν δοξῶν εἰς ἄπειρον ἐκπίπτει.

On Melissos, Diogenes Laertius, 9.24

“It seemed to him that all of creation was boundless, unchangeable, unmoveable, and a single thing, uniform and multiple. That there was no actual movement, only the appearance of motion. He also thought we should not talk about the gods since we have no knowledge about them.”

Ἐδόκει δ᾽ αὐτῷ τὸ πᾶν ἄπειρον εἶναι καὶ ἀναλλοίωτον καὶ ἀκίνητον καὶ ἓν ὅμοιον ἑαυτῷ καὶ πλῆρες: κίνησίν τε μὴ εἶναι, δοκεῖν δ᾽ εἶναι. ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ θεῶν ἔλεγε μὴ δεῖν ἀποφαίνεσθαι: μὴ γὰρ εἶναι γνῶσιν αὐτῶν.

Diogenes of Apollonia (D. L. 9.57)

“Diogenes believed these things: that the first principle is air, there are endless universes and empty space.

     ᾿Εδόκει δὲ αὐτῷ τάδε· στοιχεῖον εἶναι τὸν ἀέρα, κόσμους ἀπείρους καὶ κενὸν ἄπειρον·

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Four Years of Presidential Memories: Thunderous-Mouth-Milling and Petty-Bragging, Some Words for a Thursday

The Suda has the following anecdote which seems to be taken and altered from Diogenes Laertius or something similar.

“thunderous-mouth-milling”: Eubulides says this “the eristic, asking his horn questions and discombobulating the orators with his falsely-intellectual arguments, taking with him the “thunderous-mouth-milling” of Demosthenes.

Ῥομβοστωμυλήθρα: Εὐβουλίδης φησίν: οὑριστικὸς κερατίνας ἐρωτῶν καὶ ψευδαλαζόσιν λόγοις τοὺς ῥήτορας κυλίων ἀπῆλθ’, ἔχων Δημοσθένους τὴν ῥομβοστωμυλήθραν.

ῥομβοστωμυλήθρη (lit. “thunderous-mouth-milling” (?) seems to be a misunderstanding or humorous take on ῥωποπερπερήθρη, usually translated as “braggadocio” but is more like “cheap/petty bragging”

From Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 2.10

“The eristic Euboulides, asking questions about horns
And discombobulating the speakers with his falsely-intellectual arguments
Has gone off, taking the petty self regard of Demosthenes with him

For it seems that Demosthenes was a student of Eubulides and was able to stop his problems with the letter ‘r’ because of it. Eubulides was also in conflict with Aristotle and undermined him a lot.

οὑριστικὸς δ᾿ Εὐβουλίδης κερατίνας ἐρωτῶν
καὶ ψευδαλαζόσιν λόγοις τοὺς ῥήτορας κυλίων
ἀπῆλθ᾿ ἔχων Δημοσθένους τὴν ῥωποπερπερήθραν.

ἐῴκει γὰρ αὐτοῦ καὶ Δημοσθένης ἀκηκοέναι καὶ ῥωβικώτερος ὢν παύσασθαι. ὁ δ᾿ Εὐβουλίδης καὶ πρὸς Ἀριστοτέλην διεφέρετο, καὶ πολλὰ αὐτὸν διαβέβληκε.

Eubulides is now known for some interesting paradoxes.

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Demosthenes, no longer thunderous-mouth-milling.

Scholastic Thought to Dull the Mind

Hugo of St. Victor, Didascalion:

Book I, Chapter I

On the Origin of the Arts

“Of all the things to be sought in this world, the first is wisdom, in which the form of the perfect good consists. Wisdom illuminates a person so that he may know himself, who was similar to others when he did not understand that he was made before others. Indeed, the immortal soul, illumined by wisdom, looks back upon its origin and recognizes how indecent it is, so that it seeks beyond itself for something for which that which it itself is could be enough. It is read on the tripod of Apollo, ‘gnoti sauton,’ that is, know thyself, because unsurprisingly if a person is not unremembering of his own origin, he may recognize everything which is subject to change, though it be nothing.

The approved opinion among philosophers holds that the spirit is composed from all parts of nature. The Timaeus of Plato formed “actuality” out of divided and undivided and mixed substance, and in the same way out of the same and diverse nature, and a mixed nature from both. For it catches both the initial elements and those things which follow the initial elements, because it comprehends the invisible causes of things through its intelligence, and it collects the visible forms of actual things through its sense impressions, and once it has been divided, it collects movement into two spheres, because it either moves out of the senses to sensible things, or it ascends to invisible things through intelligence. Then, pulling the similarities of things to itself it circles back, and this is because the same mind, which can take universal things, is put together from every substance and nature, because it represents the figure of similitude. For, it was the Pythagorean belief that similar things are comprehended by similar things, as clearly the rational soul could in no way comprehend all things unless it were composed of all things. In support of this, someone says

‘We comprehend the earth with our earthly being, the aether with flame, humor with liquid, and the air with our breath.’

LIBER PRIMUS

CAPUT I

De origine artium.

Omnium expetendorum prima est sapientia, in qua perfecti boni forma consistit. sapientia illuminat hominem ut seipsum agnoscat, qui ceteris similis fuit cum se prae ceteris factum esse non intellexit. [741D] immortalis quippe animus sapientia illustratus respicit principium suum et quam sit indecorum agnoscit, ut extra se quidquam quaerat, cui quod ipse est, satis esse poterat. scriptum legitur in tripode Apollinis: gnoti seauton, id est, cognosce te ipsum, quia nimirum homo si non originis suae immemor esset, omne quod mutabilitati obnoxium est, quam sit nihil, agnosceret. probata apud philosophos sententia animam ex cunctis naturae partibus asserit esse compactam. et Timaeus Platonis ex dividua et individua mixtaque substantia, itemque eadem et diversa, et ex utroque commixta natura, quo universitas designatur, entelechiam formavit. [742A] ipsa namque et initia et quae initia consequuntur capit, quia et invisibiles per intelligentiam rerum causas comprehendit, et visibiles actualium formas per sensuum passiones colligit, sectaque in orbes geminos motum glomerat, quia sive per sensus ad sensibilia exeat sive per intelligentiam ad invisibilia ascendat. ad seipsam rerum similitudines trahens regyrat, et hoc est quod eadem mens, quae universorum capax est, ex omni substantia atque natura, quo similitudinis repraesentet figuram, coaptatur. Pythagoricum namque dogma erat similia similibus comprehendi, ut scilicet anima rationalis nisi ex omnibus composita foret, nullatenus omnia comprehendere posset, [742B] secundum quod dicit quidam:

Terram terreno comprehendimus, aethera flammis, Humorem liquido, nostro spirabile flatu.

4 Years of Presidential Memories: “What Should Seem True Cannot”

Euripides, fr. 439 (Full text on the Scaife Viewer)

“Alas! I wish facts had a voice for people
So that clever speakers would be nothing.
Now instead men with turning tongues steal away
The truest things: and what should seem true cannot.”

φεῦ φεῦ, τὸ μὴ τὰ πράγματ’ ἀνθρώποις ἔχειν
φωνήν, ἵν’ ἦσαν μηδὲν οἱ δεινοὶ λέγειν.
νῦν δ’ εὐτρόχοισι στόμασι τἀληθέστατα
κλέπτουσιν, ὥστε μὴ δοκεῖν ἃ χρὴ δοκεῖν

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This is from Euripides’ lost Hippolytus Veiled, a play in which the deception of Theseus results in the death of his son. His words sound idealist and almost noble, but as the story goes his wife Phaedra lies about sexual advances from her stepson Hippolytus and Theseus curses him. One of Theseus’ interlocutors replies (fr. 440):

“Theseus, I advise you that this is best, if you think through it:
Don’t ever believe that you hear the truth from a woman.”

Θησεῦ, παραινῶ σοὶ τὸ λῷστον, εἰ φρονεῖς,
γυναικὶ πείθου μηδὲ τἀληθῆ κλύων.

Nope. Not very nice, Euripides.

Read Everything, and Attend Every Lecture!

Hugo of St. Victor, Didascalion 3.13 (11-12th Century CE)

“There is no one to whom it has been granted to know everything, but at the same time there is no one who has not chanced to receive some special gift from nature. The prudent reader, then, listens to everyone and reads everything, and spurns no writing, no person, no learning. He seeks from all without discrimination what he sees is lacking in himself, and considers not how much he knows, but how much he does not know. Here, they note that saying of Plato, ‘I prefer to learn everything reverently, rather than to insert my own ideas shamelessly.’ For, why do you blush to learn and feel no shame in ignorance? The first is a greater disgrace than the second. Or, why do you make pretensions to the highest claims when you toss about in the dregs? You should consider, instead, what your abilities are able to accomplish. He approaches the problem best who does so in proper order. Many people, in trying to make a leap, simply fall head-first. Therefore, avoid excessive haste. In this way, you will arrive more quickly to wisdom. Learn gladly what you do not know from everyone, because humility can make common to you what nature has made each person’s private property. You will be wiser than all if you wish to learn from everyone; those who receive gifts from everyone become wiser than everyone.

You should therefore hold no knowledge as worthless, because all knowledge is good. If you have the time, you should not refuse to at least give every writing a once-over. If you find no profit in it, you at least do not waste anything, especially since there is in my opinion no writing which does not at least propose something worthy of being sought, if it is read in a proper spot and order. If a piece of writing does not have anything particularly special about it, the diligent examiner of words will latch on to something not found elsewhere – and the more rare it is, the more delight he will feel.”

nemo est cui omnia scire datum sit, neque quisquam rursum cui aliquid speciale a natura accepisse non contigerit. prudens igitur lector omnes libenter audit, omnia legit, non scripturam, non personam, non doctrinam spernit. indifferenter ab omnibus quod sibi deesse videt quaerit, nec quantum sciat, sed quantum ignoret, considerat. hinc illud Platonicum aiunt: Malo aliena verecunde discere, quam mea impudenter ingerere. cur enim discere erubescis, et nescire non verecundaris? pudor iste maior est illo. aut quid summa affectas cum tu iaceas in imo? considera potius quid vires tuae ferre valeant. aptissime incedit, qui incedit ordinate. [774B] quidam dum magnum saltum facere volunt, praecipitium incidunt. noli ergo nimis festinare. hoc modo citius ad sapientiam pertinges. ab omnibus libenter disce quod tu nescis, quia humilitas commune tibi facere potest quod natura cuique proprium fecit. sapientior omnibus eris, si ab omnibus discere volueris. qui ab omnibus accipiunt, omnibus ditiores sunt.

nullam denique scientiam vilem teneas, quia omnis scientia bona est. nullam, si vacat, scripturam vel saltem legere contemnas. si nihil lucraris, nec perdis aliquid, maxime cum nulla scriptura sit, secundum meam aestimationem, quae aliquid expetendum non proponat, si convenienti loco et ordine tractetur; [774C] quae non aliquid etiam speciale habeat, quod diligens verbi scrutator alibi non inventum, quanto rarius, tanto gratius carpat.

Kleptophilosopher! Plato Stole from Homer!

Heraclitus, Homeric Problems 18.1

“The rational part of the soul, which is established in the head, [Plato] made the charioteer of the whole, when he says this (Tim. 90a2-5):

Concerning the most lordly part of our soul, we should concern of its form like this: God has granted to each of us that very spirit which we say lives among us at the highest part of our body, to raise us from the earth closer to our relative, heaven, since we are not an earth-bound growth but a heavenly creature.

Plato sprinkles these things into his own dialogues from the Homeric epics as if drawing from a spring.”

Τὸ μέντοι λογικὸν μέρος τῆς ψυχῆς, ὃ ἐν τῇ κεφαλῇ καθίδρυτο, τῶν ὅλων πεποίηκεν ἡνίοχον οὑτωσὶ λέγων·

Περὶ δὲ τοῦ κυριωτάτου παρ’ ἡμῖν ψυχῆς εἴδους δια-
νοεῖσθαι δεῖ τῇδε, ὡς ἄρα αὐτὸ δαίμονα θεὸς ἑκάστῳ δέδωκε,
τοῦτο ὃ δὴ φαμὲν οἰκεῖν μὲν ἡμῶν ἐπ’ ἄκρῳ τῷ σώματι,
πρὸς δὲ τὴν ἐν οὐρανῷ ξυγγένειαν ἀπὸ γῆς ἡμᾶς αἴρειν
ὡς ὄντας φυτὸν οὐκ ἐπίγειον, ἀλλ’ οὐράνιον.

Ταῦτα τοίνυν ὥσπερ ἐκ πηγῆς τῶν ῾Ομηρικῶν ἐπῶν εἰς τοὺς ἰδίους διαλόγους ὁ Πλάτων μετήρδευσεν.

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4 Years of Presidential Memories: The Exploding Frog, A Fable

Phaedrus 1.24 The Exploding Frog (Full text on the Scaife Viewer)

A poor man, when he tries to imitate the powerful, dies.
Once in a meadow a frog saw a bull
Whose great size exerted on her such a pull
That she inflated her wrinkled skin and asked
Her children whether she was bigger than that.
They denied it and she puffed herself out self again
But when she asked who was bigger, they said “him”.
Finally angry, she didn’t want to blow it,
She puffed again and her body exploded.”

frog

I.24. Rana Rupta

Inops, potentem dum vult imitari, perit.
In prato quondam rana conspexit bovem,
et tacta invidia tantae magnitudinis
rugosam inflavit pellem. Tum natos suos
interrogavit an bove esset latior.
Illi negarunt. Rursus intendit cutem
maiore nisu, et simili quaesivit modo,
quis maior esset. Illi dixerunt “bovem”.
Novissime indignata, dum vult validius
inflare sese, rupto iacuit corpore.