Scoundrels, Fools, and Failing States

Antisthenes, fr. 103 [=Diogenes Laertius 6.11]

“He used to say that states fail when they cannot distinguish fools from serious men.”

τότ’ ἔφη τὰς πόλεις ἀπόλλυσθαι, ὅταν μὴ δύνωνται τοὺς φαύλους ἀπὸ τῶν σπουδαίων διακρίνειν.

Fr.104

“He used to say that it is strange that we sift out the chaff from the wheat and those useless for war, but we do not forbid scoundrels in politics.”

ἄτοπον ἔφη τοῦ μὲν σίτου τὰς αἴρας ἐκλέγειν καὶ ἐν τῷ πολέμῳ τοὺς ἀχρείους, ἐν δὲ πολιτείᾳ τοὺς πονηροὺς μὴ παραιτεῖσθαι.

Hesychius

“Phaulos: evil, tricky, mean; simple, dumb. Ridiculous”

φαῦλος· κακός, δόλιος, χαλεπός. εὐτελής, ἁπλοῦς. καταγέλαστος

Phaulos lsj

Apostolius Paroemiographus, 9.18.12

“Fish start to stink at the top”: [this is a proverb] applied to people who have scoundrels for leaders.”

᾿Ιχθὺς ἐκ τῆς κεφαλῆς ὄζειν ἄρχεται: ἐπὶ τῶν ἐπιστάτας φαύλους ἐχόντων.

Stobaeus, 2.3.4

“When Plato saw that someone was doing evil things, but claiming that he was carrying out justice for other people, he said. “This man carries his mind on his tongue.”

᾿Ιδών τινα Πλάτων φαῦλα μὲν πράττοντα, δίκας δὲ ὑπὲρ ἑτέρων λέγοντα, εἶπεν, Οὗτος νοῦν „ἐπὶ γλώσσῃ φέρει”.

2.14.3 Mousonius

“[He said] that associating with wise people is worth a lot, but that you should avoid scoundrels and the uneducated.”

῞Οτι χρὴ περὶ πολλοῦ ποιεῖσθαι τὰς τῶν σοφῶν συνουσίας, ἐκκλίνειν δὲ τοὺς φαύλους καὶ ἀπαιδεύτους

Menander fr. 274

“It is much better to have learned one thing well,
Than to cast about for many deeds foolishly.”

Πολὺ κρεῖττόν ἐστιν ἓν καλῶς μεμαθηκέναι,
ἢ πολλὰ φαύλως περιβεβλῆσθαι πράγματα.

From Beekes 2010

phaulos Beekes 1Phaulos beekes 2

Democritus fr. 234

“Associating with scoundrels frequently increases the possession of wickedness.”

Φαύλων ὁμιλίη ξυνεχὴς ἕξιν κακίης συναέξει.

Socrates, Stobaeus 2.45.3

“It is the same thing to attach your boat to a weak anchor and your hopes to foolish judgment.”

Ταὐτὸν ἐξ ἀσθενοῦς ἀγκυρίου σκάφος ὁρμίζειν καὶ ἐκ φαύλης γνώμης ἐλπίδα.

 

Eusebius, fr. 7 [=Stobaeus 3.4.104]

“Foolish people honor and wonder at those who have a lot of money and are scoundrels, and hold serious people in contempt when they see that they are poor.”

Οἱ μάταιοι τῶν ἀνθρώπων τοὺς μὲν μεγάλα χρήματα ἔχοντας καὶ φαύλους ἐόντας τιμῶσί τε καὶ τεθωυμάκασι· τῶν δὲ σπουδαίων, ἐπειδὰν ἀχρηματίην καταγνῶσιν, ὑπερφρονέουσιν.

Image result for dirty rotten scoundrels

Stultifying Sentiments

Stultus, a, um -adj. “Foolish, simple, silly, fatuous”

Stultus, m. “a fool”

Publilius Syrus 451

“It is impossible for one who knows he is a fool not have some intelligence”

Non pote non sapere qui se stultum intellegit.

Dicta Catonis 18

“Be foolish when the time or the affair demands: sometimes to pretend foolishness is the greatest wisdom.”

Insipiens esto, cum tempus postulat aut res: stultitiam simulare loco, prudentia summa est.

Publilius Syrus 692

“Silence works as wisdom for a foolish person”

Taciturnitas stulto homini pro sapientia est.

Lucilius, 19.591

“Finally, nothing is enough for a fool even when he has everything”

Denique uti stulto nil sit satis, omnia cum sint

Publilius Syrus 144

“You make a criminal from a fool by forgiving too much”

Crebro ignoscendo facies de stulto improbum.

Seneca, EM 9.14 [Paraphrasing Chrysippus]

“A fool needs nothing since he knows how to use nothing but wants everything”

Contra stulto nulla re opus est, nulla enim re uti scit, sed omnibus eget

Publilius Syrus 118

“Contempt is harder on the wise than a beating is on a fool”

Contemni gravius est quam stulto percuti.

Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.10

“If someone who wants to buy a horse inspects not the horse itself but its saddle and bridle, he is a fool. Even more foolish is the one who thinks a person can be judged from his clothing or the chance that covers us like clothing.”

quemadmodum stultus est qui empturus equum non ipsum inspicit sed stratum eius ac frenos, sic stultissimus est qui hominem aut ex veste aut ex condicione quae nobis vestis modo circumdata est aestimandum putat.

Publilius Syrus 671

“Fortune makes whomever she wants to destroy into a fool”

Stultum facit Fortuna quem vult perdere

Seneca, EM 58

“Since the danger from living badly is greater than the danger of dying quickly, he is a fool who does not bet the price of a little time on a throw of great gain”

Et cum maius periculum sit male vivendi quam cito moriendi, stultus est, qui non exigua temporis mercede magnae rei aleam redimit.

Publilius Syrus 40

“The wise man rules his spirit, a fool serves his”

Animo imperabit sapiens, stultus serviet.

Ennius, Fr. 306

“It is a fool who, in desiring, desires desirously with a desirous mind.”

Stultus est qui cupida mente cupiens cupienter cupit

 

Image result for Medieval manuscript fool

Stultifying Sentiments for a Friday

Stultus, a, um -adj. “Foolish, simple, silly, fatuous

Stultus, m. “a fool”

Publilius Syrus 451

“It is impossible for one who knows he is a fool not have some intelligence”

Non pote non sapere qui se stultum intellegit.

Dicta Catonis 18

“Be foolish when the time or the affair demands: sometimes to pretend foolishness is the greatest wisdom.”

Insipiens esto, cum tempus postulat aut res: stultitiam simulare loco, prudentia summa est.

Publilius Syrus 692

“Silence works as wisdom for a foolish person”

Taciturnitas stulto homini pro sapientia est.

Lucilius, 19.591

“Finally, nothing is enough for a fool even when he has everything”

Denique uti stulto nil sit satis, omnia cum sint

Publilius Syrus 144

“You make a criminal from a fool by forgiving too much”

Crebro ignoscendo facies de stulto improbum.

Seneca, EM 9.14 [Paraphrasing Chrysippus]

“A fool needs nothing since he knows how to use nothing but wants everything”

Contra stulto nulla re opus est, nulla enim re uti scit, sed omnibus eget

Publilius Syrus 118

“Contempt is harder on the wise than a beating is on a fool”

Contemni gravius est quam stulto percuti.

Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.10

“If someone who wants to buy a horse inspects not the horse itself but its saddle and bridle, he is a fool. Even more foolish is the one who thinks a person can be judged from his clothing or the chance that covers us like clothing.”

quemadmodum stultus est qui empturus equum non ipsum inspicit sed stratum eius ac frenos, sic stultissimus est qui hominem aut ex veste aut ex condicione quae nobis vestis modo circumdata est aestimandum putat.

Publilius Syrus 671

“Fortune makes whomever she wants to destroy into a fool”

Stultum facit Fortuna quem vult perdere

Seneca, EM 58

“Since the danger from living badly is greater than the danger of dying quickly, he is a fool who does not bet the price of a little time on a throw of great gain”

Et cum maius periculum sit male vivendi quam cito moriendi, stultus est, qui non exigua temporis mercede magnae rei aleam redimit.

Publilius Syrus 40

“The wise man rules his spirit, a fool serves his”

Animo imperabit sapiens, stultus serviet.

Ennius, Fr. 306

“It is a fool who, in desiring, desires desirously with a desirous mind.”

Stultus est qui cupida mente cupiens cupienter cupit

 

Image result for Medieval manuscript fool

Homeric Sexual Healing: Margites fragments 1-3 and More!

We are near the end of a semester at my University and I seem to be limping to the end. As a tonic for tired days, I turned to the Homeric Margites today. What’s more therapeutic than laughing at a fool? (Well, maybe we should ask Margites’ wife…)

“Some old man, a divine singer, came to Kolophon,
An assistant of the Muses and Apollo
Holding a sweet-singing lyre in his dear hands.
The gods didn’t make him an excavator or a ploughman
Nor wise in anything at all: he screwed up every kind of craft:
He knew many deeds, but he knew all of them badly.”

ἦλθέ τις ἐς Κολοφῶνα γέρων καὶ θεῖος ἀοιδός,
Μουσάων θεράπων καὶ ἑκηβόλου ᾿Απόλλωνος,
φίληις ἔχων ἐν χερσὶν εὔφθογγον λύρην.
τὸν δ’ οὔτ’ ἂρ σκαπτῆρα θεοὶ θέσαν οὔτ’ ἀροτῆρα
οὔτ’ ἄλλως τι σοφόν· πάσης δ’ ἡμάρτανε τέχνης.
πόλλ’ ἠπίστατο ἔργα, κακῶς δ’ ἠπίστατο πάντα.

Actual T-Shirt, Game-worn Condition
Actual T-Shirt, Game-worn Condition

And yes, I do own a t-shirt proudly emblazoned with the motto: πόλλ’ ἠπίστατο ἔργα, κακῶς δ’ ἠπίστατο πάντα. I would not be so proud to be known for the following details, however.

According to the testimonies part of Margites’ ignorance extended to carnal acts (from Dio Chrys. Or. 67.5 (On Reputation)):

“He would be much more foolish than Margites, who was ignorant about what to do with a woman after being married.”

Πολύ γε ἂν εἴη τοῦ Μαργίτου μωρότερος, ἀγνοοῦντος ὅ,τι χρὴ γήμαντα χρῆσθαι τῇ γυναικί.

Hesychius (the Alexandrian Lexicographer, not the Monk!) adds another detail for titillation: his wife told him she had been bitten in her genitals by a scorpion and that she needed, well, sexual healing. Eustathius (Comm ad Od. 1.395), as one might expect, repeats this anecdote with relish.

“We have learned a similar thing about the fool Margites, thanks to whom “raging” (margainein) means also “to be a fool”. The poet who bears Homer’s name makes him a son of extremely wealthy parents who, after he got married, did not climb upon his wife until she persuaded him that she had been wounded in her nether regions. She said that no medicine would help her except the act of fitting male genitals into that place. And in this way he laid next do his wife, for the sake of therapy.”

οὕτως ἔγνωμεν καὶ τὸν ἄφρονα Μαργίτην τὸν ἀπὸ τοῦ μαργαίνειν ὅ ἐστι μωραίνειν. ὃν ὁ ποιήσας τὸν ἐπιγραφόμενον ῾Ομήρου Μαργίτην ὑποτίθεται εὐπόρων μὲν εἰς ὑπερβολὴν γονέων φῦναι, γήμαντα δὲ μὴ συμπεσεῖν τῇ νύμφῃ ἕως ἀναπισθεῖσα ἐκείνη τετραυματίσθαι τὰ κάτω ἐσκήψατο. φάρμακόν τε μηδὲν ὠφελήσειν ἔφη, πλὴν εἰ τὸ ἀνδρεῖον αἰδοῖον ἐκεῖ ἐφαρμοσθείη. καὶ οὕτω θεραπείας χάριν ἐκεῖνος ἐπλησίασεν.

And if you didn’t expect some Marvin Gaye now, well, you’re worse off than Margites: