“Come, Let Us Build Walls”

Pindar, Fr. 194

“Come, let us build walls now,
A speaking, intricate, construction of words”

εἶα τειχίζωμεν ἤδη ποικίλον
κόσμον αὐδάεντα λόγων

Dio Chrysostom, Diogenes, Or On Tyranny (6.37)

“And still when he was awake, he would pray to be asleep to forget his fears. But when he was asleep, he jumped up as soon as possible because he believed he was being killed by his dreams, that the golden-plane tree, all the mansions of Semiramis, and the walls of Babylon were useless to him”

ἔτι δὲ ἐγρηγορότα μὲν εὔχεσθαι καθυπνῶσαι ὅπως ἐπιλάθηται τῶν φόβων, κοιμώμενον δὲ ἀναστῆναι τὴν ταχίστην, ἅτε ὑπ᾿ αὐτῶν τῶν ἐνυπνίων ἀπολλύμενον, τῆς δὲ χρυσῆς αὐτῷ πλατάνου καὶ τῶν Σεμιράμιδος οἰκοδομημάτων καὶ τῶν ἐν Βαβυλῶνι τειχῶν μηδὲν ὄφελος γιγνόμενον.

Diogenes Laertius, Antisthenes 13

“[Antisthenes used to say] “rational thought is the mightiest wall. It never falls apart or betrays you. We must build walls in our own unconquerable calculations.”

Τεῖχος ἀσφαλέστατον φρόνησιν· μήτε γὰρ καταρρεῖν μήτε προδίδοσθαι. τείχη κατασκευαστέον ἐν τοῖς αὑτῶν ἀναλώτοις λογισμοῖς.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 3.7

“Value nothing which compels you to break your promise, to abandon your honor, to hate, suspect or curse anyone, to be a hypocrite, or to lust after anything which needs walls or decorations.”

Μὴ τιμήσῃς ποτὲ ὡς συμφέρον σεαυτοῦ, ὃ ἀναγκάσει σέ ποτε τὴν πίστιν παραβῆναι, τὴν αἰδῶ ἐγκαταλιπεῖν, μισῆσαί τινα, ὑποπτεῦσαι, καταράσασθαι, ὑποκρίνασθαι, ἐπιθυμῆσαί τινος τοίχων καὶ παραπετασμάτων δεομένου.

Aristotle, Politics 1276a

“Imagine that a set of people inhabit the same place, what should make us believe that they inhabit a single state? For, it could not be walls since it would certainly be possible to build a wall around all of the Peloponnese.”

ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ12 τῶν τὸν αὐτὸν τόπον κατοικούντων ἀνθρώπων πότε δεῖ νομίζειν μίαν εἶναι τὴν πόλιν; οὐ γὰρ δὴ τοῖς τείχεσιν, εἴη γὰρ ἂν Πελοποννήσῳ περιβαλεῖν ἓν τεῖχος·

Dio Chrystostom, The Euboean Discourse 50

“But you will give us a home there, or how will we be able to survive the cold? You have many homes in your walls left empty. One of them is enough for us.”

ἀλλ᾿ ὅπως δώσετε ἡμῖν ἐνθάδε οἰκίαν· ἢ πῶς ὑπενεγκεῖν δυνησόμεθα τοῦ χειμῶνος; ἔστιν ὑμῖν οἰκήματα πολλὰ ἐντὸς τοῦ τείχους, ἐν οἷς οὐδεὶς οἰκεῖ· τούτων ἡμῖν ἓν ἀρκέσει.

Cicero, Republic, 1.19

“Don’t you think that we should know what affects our homes—what is happening and what occurs in a home which is not bounded by our walls but is instead the whole world, the dwelling and homeland the gods gave us to share, since, especially, if we are ignorant of these things, we must be ignorant of many other weighty matters too?”

An tu ad domos nostras non censes pertinere scire, quid agatur et quid fiat domi, quae non ea est, quam parietes nostri cingunt, sed mundus hic totus, quod domicilium quamque patriam di nobis communem secum dederunt, cum praesertim, si haec ignoremus, multa nobis et magna ignoranda sint?

[for the the theme of being a citizen of the world, see this post]

wall

Seneca, De Tranquillitate Animi 4-5

“We do not shut ourselves up in the walls of a single city as proof of our great souls, but instead we enter into exchange with the whole world and claim the world as our homeland so that we are allowed to give our virtue a wider field.”

Ideo magno animo nos non unius urbis moenibus clusimus, sed in totius orbis commercium emisimus patriamque nobis mundum professi sumus, ut liceret latiorem virtuti campum dare.

Wall Hating

Polybius, 1.5.2-5: We Need a Good Foundation for This House

“For this reason, we must also explain how the Romans settled affairs in Italy and with what circumstances they expanded into Sicily—for they took possession of that land first outside of Italy. It is also necessary to record the cause of their expansion without explanation, lest, if I should seek a cause for every cause, my whole investigation lack a starting point and focus. A beginning point should be in agreement with and recognizable in the right events, and one that is capable of being seen by many and evident in the events themselves, even if it demands us to go back in time a bit before the start of the affair to summarize the events between. For if there is ignorance, or Zeus forbid, dispute at a work’s inception, it is not possible for it to gain belief or trust in the end. Whenever some belief is secured at a work’s beginning, then the subsequent narrative obtains open-mindedness from its audience.”

διὸ καὶ ῥητέον ἂν εἴη πῶς καὶ πότε συστησάμενοι τὰ κατὰ τὴν ᾿Ιταλίαν καὶ τίσιν ἀφορμαῖς μετὰ ταῦτα χρησάμενοι διαβαίνειν ὥρμησαν εἰς Σικελίαν• ταύτῃ γὰρ τῇ γῇ πρῶτον ἐπέβησαν τῶν ἐκτὸς τόπων τῆς ᾿Ιταλίας. καὶ ῥητέον αὐτὴν τὴν τῆς διαβάσεως αἰτίαν ψιλῶς, ἵνα μὴ τῆς αἰτίας αἰτίαν ἐπιζητούσης ἀνυπόστατος ἡ τῆς ὅλης ὑποθέσεως ἀρχὴ γένηται καὶ θεωρία. ληπτέον δὲ καὶ τοῖς καιροῖς ὁμολογουμένην καὶ γνωριζομένην ἀρχὴν παρ’ ἅπασι καὶ τοῖς πράγμασι δυναμένην αὐτὴν ἐξ αὑτῆς θεωρεῖσθαι, κἂν δέῃ τοῖς χρόνοις βραχὺ προσαναδραμόντας κεφαλαιώδη τῶν μεταξὺ πράξεων ποιήσασθαι τὴν ἀνάμνησιν. τῆς γὰρ ἀρχῆς ἀγνοουμένης ἢ καὶ νὴ Δί’ ἀμφισβητουμένης οὐδὲ τῶν ἑξῆς οὐδὲν οἷόν τε παραδοχῆς ἀξιωθῆναι καὶ πίστεως• ὅταν δ’ ἡ περὶ ταύτης ὁμολογουμένη παρασκευασθῇ δόξα, τότ’ ἤδη καὶ πᾶς ὁ συνεχὴς λόγος ἀποδοχῆς τυγχάνει παρὰ τοῖς ἀκούουσιν.