“Ability, Practice, and Time”: Some Ancient Sayings about Education

These sayings [‘Apophthegmata’] are drawn from the Gnomologium Vaticanum. Most are apocryphal.

 

24: “Aristippos used to say the he took money from students not in order to straighten their lives but how so they might learn to spend their money on fine things.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς παρὰ τῶν μαθητῶν λαμβάνειν ἔφασκε μισθόν, οὐχ ὅπως τὸν βίον ἐπανορθώσῃ, ἀλλ’ ὅπως ἐκεῖνοι μάθωσιν εἰς τὰ καλὰ δαπανᾶν.

 

50: “Aristotle said that education is a decoration for the lucky but a refuge for the unfortunate.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἔφη τὴν παιδείαν εὐτυχοῦσι μὲν εἶναι κόσμον, ἀτυχοῦσι δὲ καταφύγιον.

 

87: “When he was asked whom he loved more, Phillip or Aristotle, Alexander said “both the same—for the first gave me the gift of life and the second taught me to live well.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς τίνα μᾶλλον ἀγαπᾷ, Φίλιππον ἢ ᾿Αριστοτέλην, εἶπεν· „ὁμοίως ἀμφοτέρους· ὁ μὲν γάρ μοι τὸ ζῆν ἐχαρίσατο, ὁ δὲ τὸ καλῶς ζῆν ἐπαίδευσεν.”

 

164: “Glukôn the philosopher called education a sacred refuge.”

Γλύκων ὁ φιλόσοφος τὴν παιδείαν ἔλεγεν ἱερὸν ἄσυλον εἶναι.

 

259: “When Demetrios [of Phalerus] was asked what was the noblest of animals he said “A human adorned by education.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς τί τῶν ζώων κάλλιστόν ἐστιν εἶπεν· „ἄνθρωπος παιδείᾳ κεκοσμημένος”.

 

302: “[Zeno the Stoic] used to say that education was sufficient for happiness”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἔφη τὴν παιδείαν πρὸς εὐδαιμονίαν αὐτάρκη.

 

314: “Heraclitus used to say that learning is a second sun for the educated”

῾Ηράκλειτος τὴν παιδείαν ἕτερον ἥλιον εἶναι τοῖς πεπαιδευμένοις ἔλεγεν.

 

439: [Plato] used to say that someone being educated needs three things: ability, practice and time.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἔλεγεν ὅτι ὁ παιδευόμενος τριῶν τούτων χρῄζει· φύσεως, μελέτης, χρόνου.

 

469: “[Protagoras] used to say “knowing a lot helps a lot and hurts a lot.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἔφη· „πολυμαθίη κάρτα μὲν ὠφελέει, κάρτα δὲ βλάπτει”.

 

Democritus and Protagoras by Salvator Rosa

Bad Witnesses: Some Apocryphal Sayings of Heraclitus

These sayings come from the Gnomologium Vaticanum

310 “Heraclitus the natural philosopher said that he was wisest of all when he was young because he didn’t think that he knew anything.”

῾Ηράκλειτος ὁ φυσικὸς ἔφησε σοφώτατος γεγονέναι πάντων νέος ὤν, ὅτι ᾔδει ἑαυτὸν μηδὲν εἰδότα.

311 “Heraclitus used to say “The ears and eyes of foolish people are terrible witnesses.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἔφη· „κακοὶ μάρτυρες ὦτα καὶ ὀφθαλμοὶ ἀφρόνων ἀνθρώπων”.

312 “Heraclitus used to say “Honors enslave gods and men”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἔφη· „τιμαὶ θεοὺς καὶ ἀνθρώπους καταδουλοῦνται”.

313 “Heraclitus said “people are terrible judges of the truth”

<῾Ο> αὐτὸς εἶπεν· „ἄνθρωποι κακοὶ ἀληθινῶν ἀντίδικοι”

 

 

File:Democritus and Heraclitus by Hendrick Terbrugghen.jpg
Democritus and Heraclitus by Hendrick Terbrugghen

Sweetest in Life: Exploring the Unknown

Sayings Attributed to Socrates in the Gnomologium Vaticanum.

470

“Socrates, when asked what is sweetest in life, said “education, virtue, and the investigation of the unknown”

Σωκράτης ὁ φιλόσοφος ἐρωτηθεὶς τί ἥδιστον ἐν τῷ βίῳ εἶπε· „παιδεία καὶ ἀρετὴ καὶ ἱστορία τῶν ἀγνοουμένων”.

471

“Socrates, when asked what possession is the most advantageous, said “a steadfast friend.”

Σωκράτης ἐρωτηθεὶς τί κτῆμα συμφορώτατον εἶπε· „φίλος βέβαιος.”

478

After he had been condemned to die by the Athenians and when his wife Xanthippe was weeping and saying “Socrates, you are dying unjustly”, Socrates the Athenian said to her “would you want me to die justly?”

Σωκράτης ᾿Αθηναῖος καταδικασθεὶς ὑπὸ ᾿Αθηναίων κατακρημνισθῆναι τῆς γυναικὸς Ξανθίππης κλαιούσης καὶ λεγούσης· „ὦ Σώκρατες, ἀδίκως ἀποθνήσκεις” εἶπε πρὸς αὐτήν· „σὺ οὖν ἐβούλου με δικαίως ἀποθνήσκειν;”

484

“When Socrates saw an uneducated wealthy man he said “Look, a golden sheep!”

<Σ>ωκράτης ἰδὼν πλούσιον ἀπαίδευτον „ἰδού,” φησί, „τὸ χρυσοῦν πρόβατον.”

485

“Socrates used to say that jealousy is a wound from the truth.”

Σωκράτης ἔλεγε τὸν φθόνον ἕλκος εἶναι τῆς ἀληθείας.

489

“When Socrates was asked if the world is spherical he said “I haven’t examined it from every side.”

Ὁ αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς εἰ σφαιροειδής ἐστιν ὁ κόσμος ἔφη· ” οὐχ ὑπερέκυψα.”

499

“When he was asked why he was not writing any treatises, Socrates said “because I see the unwritten selling for more than the written.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς διὰ τί συντάγματα οὐ γράφει ἔφη· „ὅτι τὰ ἄγραφα τῶν γεγραμμένων ὁρῶ πλείονος πωλούμενα.”

Image result for Socrates ancient Greek

Or, there’s this:

 

Poets and Audiences

The following anecdotes are taken from the Gnomologium Vaticanum

106

“When Antagoras the poet had a performance at Thebes and obtained no honor, he said “Thebans, Odysseus screwed up when he covered his companions’ ears as he was sailing by the Sirens. It would have been right for him to hire you as sailors.”

᾿Ανταγόρας ὁ ποιητὴς ἀκρόασιν παρέχων ἐν Θήβαις καὶ μηδεμιᾶς τυγχάνων τιμῆς εἶπεν· „ὦ ἄνδρες Θηβαῖοι· ἥμαρτεν ᾿Οδυσσεὺς ἐμφράξας τῶν ἑταίρων τὰς ἀκοάς, ὅτε τὰς Σειρῆνας παρέπλει· ἔδει γὰρ αὐτὸν ὑμᾶς ναύτας μισθώσασθαι.”

 

109

“When Antagoras the Rhodian epic poet was reading his composition the Thebais in Thebes and no one was applauding him, he took the book and said, “You are rightly called Boiotians, for you all have cows’ ears!”

᾿Ανταγόρας ὁ ῾Ρόδιος ἐποποιὸς ἐν Θήβαις ἀναγινώσκων τὸ τῆς Θηβαΐδος σύγγραμμα, ὡς οὐδεὶς ἐπεσημαίνετο, εἱλήσας τὸ βιβλίον εἶπεν· „δικαίως καλεῖσθε Βοιωτοί· βοῶν γὰρ ὦτα ἔχετε.”

 

454

“When Persinos the poet was asked who the best poet is he says “each poet is to himself, but Homer to everyone else.”

Περσῖνος ὁ ποιητὴς ἐρωτηθεὶς τίς ἄριστός ἐστι ποιητὴς „παρ’ ἑαυτῷ μὲν ἕκαστος”, <εἶπε>, „παρὰ δὲ τοῖς ἄλλοις ῞Ομηρος”.

 

468

“Protagoras, when he was slandered by some poet because he didn’t take his poems, said “Wretch—it’s better for me to be slandered by you than to listen to your poems.”

Πρωταγόρας ἐποποιοῦ τινος αὐτὸν βλασφημοῦντος ἐπὶ τῷ μὴ ἀποδέχεσθαι τὰ ποιήματα αὐτοῦ „ὦ τάν”, ἔφη· „κρεῖττόν μοι ἐστι κακῶς ἀκούειν ὑπό σου ἢ τῶν σῶν ποιημάτων ἀκούειν”.

 

Image result for Ancient Greek vase poet performance

Sleep, Death, and Dying: Some Anecdotes for a Monday

These sayings come from the Gnomologium Vaticanum

128 “When Aesop was asked by someone how the greatest trouble might occur among people he responded “If the dead return and ask for their stuff back.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτώμενος ὑπό τινος πῶς ἂν μεγίστη ταραχὴ γένοιτο ἐν ἀνθρώποις ἔφη· „εἰ οἱ τετελευτηκότες ἀναστάντες ἀπαιτοῖεν τὰ ἴδια.”

160 “Biôn used to say that [we have] two teachers for death: the time before we were born and sleep.”

Βίων ἔλεγε δύο διδασκαλίας θανάτου εἶναι, τόν τε πρὸ τοῦ γενέσθαι χρόνον καὶ τὸν ὕπνον.

446 “Plato said that sleep was a short-lived death but death was a long-lived sleep.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἔφησε τὸν μὲν ὕπνον ὀλιγοχρόνιον θάνατον, τὸν δὲ θάνατον πολυχρόνιον ὕπνον.

64 “Anaxarkhos, the natural philosopher, when king Alexander said to him “I will hang you” responded: “Threaten others. It is no difference to me whether I rot above or below the earth.”

᾿Ανάξαρχος, ὁ φυσικὸς φιλόσοφος, ᾿Αλεξάνδρου τοῦ βασιλέως εἰπόντος αὐτῷ· „κρεμῶ σε”, „ἄλλοις”, ἔφη, „ἀπείλει· ἐμοὶ δὲ οὐδὲν διαφέρει ὑπὲρ γῆς ἢ κατὰ γῆς σήπεσθαι.”

Image result for ancient greek sleep and death vase
Sleep and Death on the Euphronios Krater

Healing the Spirit: Sayings on Doctors and Philosophy

The following anecdotes are taken from the Gnomologium Vaticanum

 

37 “When people were asking [Aristippos] why he spent time with wretched men he said “Because doctors also minister to the sick.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς εἰπόντος τινὸς αὐτῷ, διὰ τί τοῖς μοχθηροῖς πλησιάζει, εἶπεν· „ὅτι καὶ ἰατροὶ τοῖς νοσοῦσιν.”

 

412 “Nikokles used to say that doctors are lucky because the sun shines on their successes while the earth hides their mistakes.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς τοὺς ἰατροὺς εὐτυχεῖς ἔλεγεν, ὅτι τὰς μὲν ἐπιτυχίας αὐτῶν ὁ ἥλιος ὁρᾷ, τὰς δὲ ἀποτυχίας ἡ γῆ καλύπτει.

 

289 “Erasistratos [the doctor] used to say that medicine was philosophy’s sister: one treats maladies of the spirit, the other treats those of the body.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς τὴν ἰατρικὴν τῆς φιλοσοφίας ἔφησεν ἀδελφὴν εἶναι· τὴν μὲν γὰρ τὰ ψυχικά, τὴν δὲ τὰ σωματικὰ θεραπεύειν ἀῤῥωστήματα.

 

226 “After [Demosthenes] saw that a bad wrestler was acting as a doctor he said “Now you’ve found a way you can throw everybody down!”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἰδὼν κακὸν παλαιστὴν ἰατρεύοντα „νῦν” εἶπεν „εὕρηκας μέθοδον, δι’ ἧς πολλοὺς καταβαλεῖς”.

Image result for Ancient Greek doctor vase

Spartan Women Once Said…

This is the second part of the sayings attributed to women in the Gnomologium Vaticanum (568-576)

“Sayings of women and their thoughts”

᾿Αποφθέγματα γυναικῶν, ἤτοι φρονήματα.

“When a Spartan woman was speaking to her son who had been crippled in battle and was depressed because of that she said “don’t be sad, child—for each step recalls your private virtue”

Γυνὴ Λάκαινα τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτῆς ἐν παρατάξει χωλωθέντος καὶ δυσφοροῦντος ἐπὶ τούτῳ „τέκνον”, εἶπε, „μὴ λυποῦ· καθ’ ἕκαστον γὰρ βῆμα τῆς ἰδίας <ἀρετῆς ὑπομνησθήσῃ.”>

 

“When a Spartan woman heard that her son died in the battle line she said “Child, you paid your country back well for your upbringing.”

Γυνὴ Λάκαινα ἀκούσασα τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς ἐν παρατάξει τεθνηκέναι „τέκνον”, εἶπεν, „ὡς καλὰ τροφεῖα τῇ πατρίδι ἀπέδωκας!”

 

“A Spartan woman said of her son who was thankful that he was the only one to survive a battle-line “why aren’t you ashamed that you’re the only one alive?”

Λάκαινα γυνὴ σεμνυνομένου τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτῆς ἐπὶ τῷ μόνον ἐκ τῆς παρατάξεως σεσῶσθαι ἔφη· „τί οὖν οὐκ αἰσχύνῃ μόνος ζῶν;”

The website “Sharing Ancient Wisdom” is a really interesting and useful collection of proverbial sayings. Check it out.

A Kharak-ter from Pergamon

Suda, s.v. Kharaks

Kharaks, from Pergamon, a priest and a philosopher. In an old book I found an epigram that goes like this:

“I am Kharaks, a priest from the ancient citadel of Pergamon
where Telephos, the blameless son of blameless Herakles,
once warred with city-sacking Achilles”.

Kharaks is the most recent of those poets after Augustus by far. Or, at least he makes mention of Augustus, who at that point was already Caesar for a long time in his second book. And in is seventh, he talks about Nero and those who ruled after him. He composed a Hellenika and Histories of forty books.”

Χάραξ Περγαμηνός, ἱερεὺς καὶ φιλόσοφος, ὡς εὗρον ἐν ἀρχαίωι βιβλίωι ἐπίγραμμα οὔτως ἔχον·

εἰμὶ Χάραξ ἱερεὺς γεραρῆς ἀπὸ Περγάμου ἄκρης,
ἔνθα ποτὲ πτολέμιξεν ᾽Αχιλλῆι πτολιπόρθωι Τήλεφος,
῾Ηρακλῆος ἀμύμονος υἱὸς ἀμύμων…

ἔστι δὲ τῶν μετὰ Αὔγουστον πολλῶι νεώτερος· μέμνηται γοῦν ἐν τῶι β̄ τῶν βιβλίων Αὐγούστου ὡς πάλαι γενομένου Καίσαρος, καὶ ἐν τῶι ζ̄ Νέρωνος καὶ τῶν μετ᾽ αὐτὸν βασιλευσάντων. ἔγραψεν ῾Ελληνικῶν τε καὶ ** ῾Ιστοριῶν βιβλία μ̄..

Acropolis - Bergama (Pergamon) - Turkey - 04 (5747168893).jpg
From Wikimedia Commons, Acropolis of Pergamon By Adam Jones from Kelowna, BC, Canada04, CC BY-SA 2.0, 

Some Less Famous Sayings of Famous Men

From the Gnomologicum Vaticanum

272

“When Euripides was asked why he hated both wicked and noble men he said “I hate the wicked men because of their corruption and the good men because they don’t hate the evil.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς διὰ τί [αὐτὸς] τούς τε πονηροὺς καὶ ἀγαθοὺς μισεῖ ἔφη· „τοὺς μὲν πονηροὺς διὰ τὴν μοχθηρίαν, τοὺς δὲ ἀγαθοὺς ὅτι τοὺς κακοὺς οὐ μισοῦσιν”.

420

“When Oinopides saw a youth who had many books he said “don’t put them in a chest but in your heart.”

Οἰνοπίδης ὁρῶν μειράκιον πολλὰ βιβλία κτώμενον ἔφη· „μὴ τῇ κιβωτῷ, ἀλλὰ τῷ στήθει.”

426

“Plato used to say “It is not fine for an educated man to converse with the uneducated, just as it is for a sober man to talk with the drunk”

Πλάτων ἔφη· „οὐ καλὸν πεπαιδευμένον ἐν ἀπαιδεύτοις διαλέγεσθαι, ὥσπερ οὐδὲ νήφοντα ἐν μεθύουσιν.”

 

309

“Herodotus the historiographer when asked by someone how people can be of good spirit, said “if they don’t do [too] many things.”

῾Ηρόδοτος ὁ ἱστοριογράφος ἐρωτηθεὶς ὑπό τινος πῶς ἂν δύναιντο <οἱ> ἄνθρωποι εὐθυμεῖν εἶπεν· „ἐὰν μὴ πολλὰ πρήσσωσιν.”

 

53

“When [Aristotle] was asked what man has equal to god he said “to do good deeds” ‘

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς ὑπό τινος, τί ἄνθρωπος ἶσον ἔχει θεῷ, εἶπε· „τὸ εὐεργετεῖν”.

 

539

“When Philip was asked who blinded his eye, he said “Love for Greece.”

Φίλιππος ἐρωτηθεὶς τίς αὐτῷ τὸν ὀφθαλμὸν ἐξέκοψεν, εἶπεν· „ὁ τῆς ῾Ελλάδος ἔρως.”

 

Image result for Medieval manuscripts aristotle

Spartan Women Once Said…

This is the second part of the sayings attributed to women in the Gnomologium Vaticanum (568-576)

“Sayings of women and their thoughts”

᾿Αποφθέγματα γυναικῶν, ἤτοι φρονήματα.

 

“When a Spartan woman was speaking to her son who had been crippled in battle and was depressed because of that she said “don’t be sad, child—for each step recalls your private virtue”

Γυνὴ Λάκαινα τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτῆς ἐν παρατάξει χωλωθέντος καὶ δυσφοροῦντος ἐπὶ τούτῳ „τέκνον”, εἶπε, „μὴ λυποῦ· καθ’ ἕκαστον γὰρ βῆμα τῆς ἰδίας <ἀρετῆς ὑπομνησθήσῃ.”>

 

“When a Spartan woman heard that her son died in the battle line she said “Child, you paid your country back well for your upbringing.”

Γυνὴ Λάκαινα ἀκούσασα τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς ἐν παρατάξει τεθνηκέναι „τέκνον”, εἶπεν, „ὡς καλὰ τροφεῖα τῇ πατρίδι ἀπέδωκας!”

 

“A Spartan woman said of her son who was thankful that he was the only one to survive a battle-line “why aren’t you ashamed that you’re the only one alive?”

Λάκαινα γυνὴ σεμνυνομένου τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτῆς ἐπὶ τῷ μόνον ἐκ τῆς παρατάξεως σεσῶσθαι ἔφη· „τί οὖν οὐκ αἰσχύνῃ μόνος ζῶν;”

The website “Sharing Ancient Wisdom” is a really interesting and useful collection of proverbial sayings. Check it out.