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.”

 

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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.”

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Sleep and Death on the Euphronios Krater

Alexander the Great on Homer, Amazons, and Diogenes

These sayings come from the Gnomologium Vaticanum

 

78 “When Alexander arrived in Troy and gazed upon the tomb of Achilles he stopped and said “Achilles, how lucky you were to have Homer as your great herald!” Anaximenes, who was present, said, “but I, lord, will tell your tale.” “By the gods”, Alexander responded, “I’d rather be Homer’s Thersites’ than your Achilles.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐλθὼν εἰς ῎Ιλιον καὶ θεασάμενος τὸν ᾿Αχιλλέως τάφον στὰς εἶπεν· „ὦ ᾿Αχιλλεῦ· ὡς [οὐ] μέγας ὢν μεγάλου κήρυκος ἔτυχες ῾Ομήρου!” παρόντος δὲ ᾿Αναξιμένους καὶ εἰπόντος· „καὶ ἡμεῖς σέ, ὦ βανιλεῦ, ἔνδοξον ποιήσομεν”, „ἀλλὰ νὴ τοὺς θεοὺς”, ἔφη, „παρ’ ῾Ομήρῳ ἐβουλόμην ἂν εἶναι Θερσίτης ἢ παρὰ σοὶ ᾿Αχιλλεύς.”

 

94 “When some of his friends were encouraging him to wage war against the Amazons, Alexander said “it will not bring me honor to conquer women, but it will bring me dishonor if I lose to them”

῾Ο αὐτὸς παραινούντων αὐτῷ τῶν φίλων στρατεύειν ἐπὶ τὰς ᾿Αμαζόνας εἶπε· „τὸ μὲν νικῆσαι γυναῖκας οὐκ ἔνδοξον τὸ δὲ νικηθῆναι ὑπ’ αὐτῶν ἄδοξον.”

 

104 “When Diogenes the Cynic was asking Alexander for a drachma he said “this is not a kingly gift.” When he then said, “give me a talent”, Alexander responded “That’s not a Cynic request.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς αἰτήσαντος αὐτὸν Διογένους δραχμὴν ἔφη· „οὐ βασιλικὸν τὸ δῶρον·” τοῦ δὲ εἰπόντος· „καὶ δὸς τάλαντον” εἶπεν· „ἀλλ’ οὐ κυνικὸν τὸ αἴτημα.”

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The Balance of Silence and Speech

These sayings come from the Gnomologium Vaticanum

 

58 “When Aristotle was asked what the most burdensome thing in life is he said “staying silent.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθείς, τί δυσκολώτατόν ἐστιν ἐν βίῳ, εἶπε· „τὸ σιωπᾶν”.

 

547 “Philoxenos said that peoples’ ears get worn out by a tongue for they are eager to tell people what they don’t know before listening well.”

Φιλόξενος ἔφησε τῶν ἀνθρώπων τὰς ἀκοὰς τῇ γλώσσῃ συντετρῆσθαι· πρὶν γὰρ ἢ καλῶς ἀκοῦσαι, σπουδάζειν αὐτοὺς ἅπερ οὐκ ἐπίστανται πρὸς ἄλλους λέγειν.

 

456 “Pittakos asked Bias “what is hardest in life?” And when he answered “to know yourself”, he asked again, “what is easiest?” And Bias said in response “to criticize someone else.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς Βίαντα ἠρώτησε· „τί δυσχερέστερον ἐν τῷ βίῳ”; τοῦ δὲ εἰπόντος· „τὸ ἑαυτὸν γνῶναι” πάλιν ἤρετο· „τί δὲ ῥᾴδιον”; καὶ πάλιν Βίας φησί· „τὸ ἕτερον ψέξαι”.

 

382 “[Kratês] the Cynic used to say that it is better to slip with your foot than your tongue.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἔφη κρεῖττον εἶναι τῷ ποδὶ ὀλισθῆσαι ἢ τῇ γλώττῃ.

 

219 “When Demosthenes was asked what kind of thing is the greatest weapon, he said “speech”.

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς ποῖον μέγιστον ὅπλον εἶπε· „λόγος”.

 

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Invisible Walls, Short Spears, and Shorter Speech: Some Sayings on Sparta

These sayings come from the Gnomologium Vaticanum

 

69 “When Agesilaos was asked by someone why Sparta was unwalled he said “don’t lie. It is walled not by stones but by its occupants’ excellence.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς ὑπό τινος, διὰ τί ἀτείχιστός ἐστιν ἡ Σπάρτη, „μὴ ψεύδου”, ἔφη, „τετείχισται γάρ, οὐ λίθοις, ἀλλὰ ταῖς τῶν <ἐνοικούντων ἀρεταῖς>”.

 

394 “When a Spartan man was asked why the Spartans have small spears he said “because they fight close to the enemy”

Λάκων ἀνὴρ ἐρωτώμενος διὰ τί οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι μικρὰ ἔχουσι τὰ ἐγχειρίδια εἶπεν· „ὅτι ἐγγύθεν τοῖς πολεμίοις μάχονται”.

 

396 “To someone asking why Spartans foster brevity of speech, a Spartan man said “because it is closest to silence”

Λάκων ἀνὴρ πρὸς τὸν εἰπόντα αὐτῷ· „διὰ τί οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι τὴν βραχυλογίαν ἀσκοῦσιν;” εἶπεν· „ὅτι ἔγγιστά ἐστι τοῦ σιωπᾶν”.

 

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The Benefits of Philosophy

These sayings come from the Gnomologium Vaticanum

 

36 “When [Aristippos] was asked what benefit had come to him from philosophy he said “being able to engage pleasantly with the people I meet.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθείς, τί αὐτῷ περιγέγονεν ἐκ φιλοσοφίας, ἔφη· „τὸ ἀδεῶς τοῖς ἐντυγχάνουσιν ὁμιλεῖν”.

 

162 “Biôn used to say that thought was the procurer of all good things but prudence is the master.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς τὴν μὲν φρόνησιν ἔφη παντοπώλιον εἶναι τῶν ἀγαθῶν, τὴν δὲ σωφροσύνην στρατουργίαν.

 

182 “When Diogenes was asked by Aristippos what benefit he gained from philosophy he said “Being wealthy without having a cent”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς ὑπὸ ᾿Αριστίππου τί αὐτῷ περιεγένετο ἐκ φιλοσοφίας εἶπε· „τὸ πλουτεῖν μηδὲ ὀβολὸν ἔχοντα.”

 

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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”

 

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