Envy and Pity: Proverbial Wisdom?

Pindar, Pyth. 1.85

“Envy is stronger than pity

κρέσσον γὰρ οἰκτιρμοῦ φθόνος

This line is something I bounce around twitter every few months or so. As with many of our tweets, it is divorced from its context and takes on a new meaning in our own time (one, I think, which is less than positive since people are motivated more by an acquisitive, begrudging impulse than one of empathy).

A twitter correspondent (@History_Twerp) noted that this line was echoed in Herodotus.

Herodotus 3.52

Periander speaks to his son and says “since you have learned how much being envied is better than being pitied, and also what it is like to be angry at your parents and your betters, come home…”

Σὺ δὲ μαθὼν ὅσῳ φθονέεσθαι κρέσσον ἐστὶ ἢ οἰκτίρεσθαι, ἅμα τε ὁκοῖόν τι ἐς τοὺς τοκέας καὶ ἐς τοὺς κρέσσονας τεθυμῶσθαι, ἄπιθι ἐς τὰ οἰκία.» Περίανδρος

The notes on Perseus for Pindar’s Pythian 1 refer to the passage from Herodotus as “proverbial” without any additional evidence. The passages do seem proverbial since they use the same basic lexical items to express the same basic idea. Nevertheless, there is not additional evidence for a proverb. Instead, I think we probably have evidence of a general cultural value immanent among aristocratic classes during the early Classical period.

Here’s a fuller context for Pindar, Pyth. 1.84-86

“Satiety reshapes
Fast and easy expectations—
And the citizens’ secret witness grows especially burdened over foreign wealth.
But still, since envy is stronger than pity,
Do not overlook noble things, but guide the people
With a just rudder. Make your tongue
Bronze on an truthful anvil.”

….ἀπὸ γὰρ κόρος ἀμβλύνει
αἰανὴς ταχείας ἐλπίδας:
ἀστῶν δ᾽ ἀκοὰ κρύφιον θυμὸν βαρύνει μάλιστ᾽ ἐσλοῖσιν ἐπ᾽ ἀλλοτρίοις.
ἀλλ’ ὅμως, κρέσσον γὰρ οἰκτιρμοῦ φθόνος,
μὴ παρίει καλά. νώμα δικαίῳ
πηδαλίῳ στρατόν· ἀψευ-
δεῖ δὲ πρὸς ἄκμονι χάλκευε γλῶσσαν.

In the context of the Pythian ode, the brevity of the statement along with the epexegetical γὰρ gives the impression of a proverb drawn from elsewhere. But it is my sense, from reading through a lot of Pindar and Bacchylides, that the epinician genre is in the business of sounding proverbial  (it lends itself towards gnomic utterances because of the lyric brevity of expression, lack of epic-style repetition, and limited syntax). The trick of epinician poetry is to sound old and authoritative without actually being so.

The positive valence attributed to envy over pity is present as well in Hesiod’s Works and Days where two types of Strife are distinguished in order to mark one type of human conflict as good and one type as bad.

Hesiod, Works and Days, 26-7

“And a potter is angry with a potter, and a carpenter with a carpenter;
Even a beggar will envy a beggar and a singer a singer.”

καὶ κεραμεὺς κεραμεῖ κοτέει καὶ τέκτονι τέκτων,
καὶ πτωχὸς πτωχῷ φθονέει καὶ ἀοιδὸς ἀοιδῷ.

So the general attitude projected by Herodotus’ Periander and Pindar is harmonious with the Archaic Greek notion that ‘envy’ produces a type of rivalry that has positive effects. It is better than pity because pity is something which people in a stronger position have over those in a weaker position (and who wants to be in the weaker position?). For Pindar, envy is better because it imbues Hiero’s people with a spirit of rivalry; for Periander, who uses the statement in an attempt to get his son to come home, it is an attempt to convince him to give up the ways of a mendicant and return the palace. Interestingly, according to Herodotus, Periander fails.

The relationship between pity and envy appears in Diogenes as well.

Diogenes Laertius, Life of Zeno of Citium 7.111

“[they claim] that grief is an irrational reaction. Its variations include: pity, envy, jealousy, rivalry, annoyance, bitterness, anger, and distraction. Pity is pain for someone who suffers evil unworthily; envy is grief over someone else’s good fortunes; jealousy is pain over what another possesses when you want it yourself; and rivalry is pain over what another has and which you possess too…”

Καὶ τὴν μὲν λύπην εἶναι συστολὴν ἄλογον· εἴδη δ’ αὐτῆς ἔλεον, φθόνον, ζῆλον, ζηλοτυπίαν, ἄχθος, ἐνόχλησιν, ἀνίαν, ὀδύνην, σύγχυσιν. ἔλεον μὲν οὖν εἶναι λύπην ὡς ἐπ’ ἀναξίως κακοπαθοῦντι, φθόνον δὲ λύπην ἐπ’ ἀλλοτρίοις ἀγαθοῖς, ζῆλον δὲ λύπην ἐπὶ τῷ ἄλλῳ παρεῖναι ὧν αὐτὸς ἐπιθυμεῖ, ζηλοτυπίαν δὲ λύπην ἐπὶ τῷ καὶ ἄλλῳ παρεῖναι ἃ καὶ αὐτὸς ἔχει, ἄχθος δὲ λύπην

At first sight, there is little value judgment in this summary. But pity and envy are collocated as emotional or unreasoning impulses distinguished by their frames of reference but united by the fact that both are a type of pain. The comparison between pity and envy, does not seem otherwise common in Greek literature. (But this conclusion is extremely tentative. Please let me know of any other passages.)

A fragment of Plutarch (quoted in Stobaeus) established what turns out to be somewhat proverbial, that envious people risk two sources of pain.

Πλουτάρχου ἐκ τοῦ διαβάλλειν (Plut. fr. 155a = Hippias fr. 16).

Hippias says that there are two types of envy. One is just, whenever someone envies evil men who have been honored. The other is unjust, whenever someone envies good people who are honored. Men who envy suffer twice as much as others; for they are troubled not only by their own evils, but by others’ good fortunes.”

῾Ιππίας λέγει δύο εἶναι φθόνους· τὸν μὲν δίκαιον, ὅταν τις τοῖς κακοῖς φθονῇ τιμωμένοις· τὸν δὲ ἄδικον, ὅταν τοῖς ἀγαθοῖς. καὶ διπλᾶ τῶν ἄλλων οἱ φθονεροὶ κακοῦνται· οὐ γὰρ μόνον τοῖς ἰδίοις κακοῖς ἄχθονται, ὥσπερ ἐκεῖνοι, ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῖς ἀλλοτρίοις ἀγαθοῖς.

This sentiment is rather similar to one attributed to Anacharsis the Skythian by the Gnomologium Vaticanum:

“When asked by someone why envious men are always in pain, he said “because not only do their own evils bite them, but the good fortunes of those near them cause them grief too…”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς ὑπό τινος, διὰ τί οἱ φθονεροὶ ἄνθρωποι ἀεὶ λυποῦνται, ἔφη· „ὅτι οὐ μόνον τὰ ἑαυτῶν αὐτοὺς κακὰ δάκνει, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰ τῶν πέλας ἀγαθὰ λυπεῖ”.

Plato in the Timaeus detracts from envy a little too (29e) when discussing the attributes of a creating deity.

“He was good. And no envy ever develops in a good man about anything.

᾿Αγαθὸς ἦν· ἀγαθῷ δὲ οὐδεὶς περὶ οὐδενὸς οὐδέποτε ἐγγίνεται φθόνος.

Later paroemiographers do record some proverbs on envy, with an interesting variation.

Arsenius, Cent. 6.1a1

“Democritus says that envy is a wound from the truth”

Δημόκριτος τὸν φθόνον εἶπεν ἕλκος εἶναι τῆς ἀληθείας.

Stobaeus 3.38

“Socrates says that envy is a wound from the soul”

Σωκράτης τὸν φθόνον εἶπεν ἕλκος εἶναι τῆς ψυχῆς.

File:Giotto di Bondone - No. 48 The Seven Vices - Envy - WGA09275.jpg
A 14th Century Fresco from Padua illustrating the deadly sin of Eny

We Have Two Ears, One Mouth: δύο ὦτα ἔχομεν, στόμα δὲ ἕν

Social media overflows with hate and bile. Real news has Nazis marching openly in the streets and a leader of the ‘free world’ refusing to acknowledge it. So, when Paul Holdengraber asked me, as he periodically does, to re-post this entry, I hesitated. Why? There are too many voices calling for us to debate or otherwise engage with the rhetoric of hate, racism, misogyny etc. I fear that the words themselves and their injunction to hear others may be misused as a justification to listen to the abominable and cancerous filth of white supremacy and the alt-right in general.

But I know that part of the greater cultural problem is that we live lives absorbed in our own worldview, incapable of imagining the experience of others, at some basic level incapable of granting them a human life as real as the one we each experience individually. Hate arises from denying others the same legitimacy to live, love, experience and die with meaning that you embrace for yourself. Sometimes, listening instead of talking is a first step toward a better world.

So, I am re-posting the journey below for Paul, for myself, and as a reminder that we are all shaped by the stories we hear and by the fact that other people hear us too. To start, here’s a friendly tweet in Dutch:

A few years ago now I noticed the Paul Holdengraber‘s 7-word autobiography from brainpickings.org.: “Mother always said: Two Ears, One mouth.” The phrase bounced around in my head a bit–it has that aphoristic perfection of brevity and familiarity. So, I reached out to Paul over twitter and told him it sounded like something from a Greek philosopher like Heraclitus.

Proverbs have a special place in language and society cross-culturally–they strike a promise of insight that demands  contemplation or explanation. They also have an air of authority and antiquity, even when they actually possess neither. And, unlike longer, less anonymized forms of language, they are repeated, borrowed, and stolen without end.

My late father was a great aphorist–perhaps missing him is part of why Paul’s tweet stuck with me. Most of my father’s words, however, were far more Archie Bunker than Aristotle. Those I can repeat were likely taken from his own father, a Master Sargent in WW2 who died a decade before I was born. The tendency to inherit and pass down proverbs is something I only really noticed when I had children and found myself ‘quoting’ (or becoming?) my father (“if you take care of your equipment it will take care of you”) or my grandmother (cribbing Oscar Wilde: “Only boring people get bored”).

So, when Paul thought it would be a gas if we actually translated his mother’s words into ancient Greek (and eventually Latin), I was ready. I got help from some great Classicists too. We came up with a few versions.

First, I went with classical rhetoric, a close antithesis: μήτηρ ἀεὶ ἔφη ὦτα μὲν δύο, ἕν δὲ στόμα. But our friend the Fantastic Festus argued that Heraclitus or Hesiod would not use use μὲν and δὲ so, so he suggested losing them for something like this:

μήτηρ ἀεὶ ἔφη ὦτα δύο, ἕν στόμα [“mother always used to say two ears, one mouth”]

This gave us Paul’s mother’s advice in seven Greek words and his mother’s advice. But this didn’t get us out of trouble. The critic, author and Classicist Daniel Mendelsohn suggested hexameters and from across the Atlantic the extraordinary Armand D’Angour obliged with a composition of his own:

ῥᾴδιόν ἐστι Λόγον τε νοεῖν ξυνετόν τε ποιῆσαι·
τοῦτο γάρ ἐστι βροτῶν, ἓν στόμα τ᾽, ὦτα δύο.

[Literally, this is “it is easy to know the Logos and make it understood: Mortals have this [character]: one mouth and two ears” Go to the full post for all the compositional glory and an appearance from Salman Rushdie].

At this point, I felt like I had entertained myself on a Saturday morning, involved my internet friends in a silly, though somewhat academic caper, and done a favor for a new friend to please the spirits of parents no longer with us. But the world wide web had a a plot twist I should have thought of.

Ancient Greek and Roman authors and scholars loved proverbs. Writers like Zenobius and Photius made collections and interpretations of them. The Byzantine Encyclopedia, the Suda, uses the word for proverb (in Greek paroimia) over 600 times and presents nearly as many distinct proverbs. (Many of which are wonderful.) And in the modern world, we have an entire academic field dedicated to the study of proverbial sayings: paroemiology. Let me tell you, we could have used en expert last fall.

While we were playing around with translations, one of our ‘players’, the grand Gerrit Kloss, let us know we were, to use a proverbial saying, reinventing the wheel. Zeno, the Cynic philosopher, was credited with this saying over two thousand years ago:

Continue reading “We Have Two Ears, One Mouth: δύο ὦτα ἔχομεν, στόμα δὲ ἕν”

Aesopic Proverbs 81-90: Birds, Camels, and Misadventures in Urination

81.
“The highest peaks are equal.”
Interpretation:
“Great wealth and great poverty have the same repose from cares.”
᾿Ακρότητες ἰσότητες.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Πλοῦτος ὁ πολὺς καὶ πεν̣ί̣α̣ με<γάλη>
᾿Ανάπαυσιν ἴσην φροντί<δων ἔχουσι.>

82.
“The old woman will oppose you <…>”
Interpretation:
“Even a wise man will be led to his downfall if he does not restrain his ears from idle talk.”
᾿Απαντήσει σοι γρα<ῦς ……….>α
῾Ερμηνεία.
Εἰς πτῶμα πεσεῖται κ<αὶ ὁ σοφὸς ἀνὴ>ρ
Οὐ κωλύων τὰ ὦτα φληνάφων λόγων.

83.
“A man’s character may be seen from his speech.”
᾿Ανδρὸς χαρακτὴρ ἐκ λόγου γνωρίζεται.

[No Interpretation]

84.
“The sparrow’s soul is with its millet.”
Interpretation:
“A person will fix attention where the indulgence of pleasure may be found.”
῾Η ψυχὴ τοῦ στρουθοῦ παρὰ τὴν κέγχρον.
῾Ερμηνεία.
᾿Εκεῖ τὴν διάνοιαν ἄνθρωπος στρέφει,
῎Ενθα καὶ <ἡ> τῆς ἡδονῆς τρυφὴ κεῖται.

85.
“Either say what you think or think what you say.”
<Interpretation>
“The crow who plumes himself with peacock’s feathers is a poor speaker, but richly dressed.
῍Η λάλει ὡς φρονεῖς ἢ φρόνει ὡς λαλεῖς.
<῾Ερμηνεία.>
Πένης τὴν γλῶτταν καὶ πλούσιος τὴν στολὴν
Κόραξ ταῶνός ἐστι τοῖς πτεροῖς κομῶν.

86.
“The camel said to his mother, ‘I will be a dancer,’ and she responded, ‘My son, even your walking is beautiful.’”
Interpretation:
“Let those, whose wicked ways hinder life, be barred from passing life in enjoyment.”
῾Η κάμηλος ἔλεγε τῇ μητρί “ὀρχήσομαι,” κἀκείνη “τέκ-
νον,” φησί, “καὶ ὁ περίπατός σου καλός ἐστιν.”
῾Ερμηνεία.
Οἷς μοχθηρίᾳ τρόπων κωλύζεται τὸ ζῆν,
Τούτοις ἀπηγορεύσθω τὸ τέρψει συζῆν.

87.
“You in my eye, and I upon your back.”
<Interpretation>
“In those whom you wish to strike, though not performing well… < … >”
Σὺ κατὰ τοῦ ὀφθαλμοῦ μου κἀγὼ κατὰ τοῦ νώτου σου.
<῾Ερμηνεία.>
᾿Εν οἷς πλήττειν ἐθέλεις οὐ πράττων καλῶς
< >

88.
“And from a camel, a letter from Charon.”
Interpretation:
“A man without sense will send others falling to their graves with a fierce blow.”
Κἀξ καμήλου ἐπιστολὴ Χά<ρ>ωνος.
῾Ερμηνεία.
᾿Ανὴρ νοῦν οὐκ ἔχων θυμώδει <τῇ> πληγῇ
Τάφοις παραδίδωσι τοὺς ἐμπίπτοντας.

89.
“Orestes, who killed you?” – “My own knowledge of myself.”
Interpretation:
“Our mode of acting badly will render us all known and accountable.”
᾿Ορέστα, τίς σε ἀπώλεσεν; “ἡ ἰδία μου συνείδησις.”
῾Ερμηνεία.
῞Εκαστον ὑπεύθυνον ὧν πράττει κακῶς
῾Ο τρόπος ἀπελέγχει καὶ δῆλον ποιεῖ.

90.
“Go ahead and piss – you’re pissing on your skin.”
Interpretation:
“The one who wishes to throw bold reproaches to a lofty height will have his punishment poured upon his head.”
Οὔρει· κατὰ τοῦ δέρματος οὐρεῖς.
῾Ερμηνεία.
῾Ο βάλλειν τολμῶν εἰς ὕψος θρασεῖς ψόγους
᾿Επὶ κεφαλῆς ἕξει τὴν τιμωρίαν.

Aesopic Proverbs 71-80: Malice, Roosters, and Missing Proverbs

71.
“Malice attends difficulties.”
<Interpretation>
“Those who rage with insatiable malice fashion envy even for the poor.”
Εἰς ἀπορίαν φθόνος.
<῾Ερμηνεία.>
᾿Απλήστῳ βασκανίᾳ λυσσῶντές τινες
Καὶ τοῖς πένησι τὸν φθόνον ὁπ<λί>ζουσι.

72.
“Never do good, and try not to receive any evil.”
<Interpretation>
“By treating the wicked well, you do not seem to me to be wise. For the most wicked always work the worst evils upon themselves.”
Καλὸν μὴ ποιήσῃς καὶ κακὸν οὐ μὴ ἀπολάβῃς.
<῾Ερμηνεία.>
Κακοὺς εὖ ποιῶν οὔ μοι δόξεις σωφρονεῖν·
Οἱ γὰρ κάκιστοι δρῶ<σιν ἀεί σε κακῶς.>

73.
“The times may lead one up, but they may also lead one down.”
<Interpretation>
“Time will give mortals both the possession of wealth as well as the travails of poverty.”

Καιρὸς ἀνάγει καὶ καιρὸ<ς αὖ κατάγει.>
<῾Ερμηνεία.>
<Χρό>νος ἀμφότερα τοῖς βρο<τοῖς κομίζει>,
Καὶ πλούτου κτῆσιν καὶ πε<νί>ας τὴν ν<όσ>ον.

74.
“The dog who goes to the manger does not eat, and stands in the way of the ass.”
Interpretation
“The display of a shameless man’s wickedness will hinder another from the nourishment which he himself cannot get hold of.”
Κύων ἀναπεσὼν εἰς φάτνην αὐτός τε οὐκ ἐσθίει τῷ τε ὄνῳ
ἐμπ<οδ>ίζει.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Πονηρίας ἔνδειξις ἀνδρὸς ἀναιδοῦς
Τροφῆς κωλύειν ἄλλον, ἧς οὐχ ἅπτεται.

75.
“The words of an orator, the deeds of a rooster.”
Interpretation:
“False people argue their case with empty words, vainly reproaching the words of giants.”
Λόγοι μὲν ῥήτορος, ἔργα δ’ ἀλέκτορος.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Τοῖς <κενοῖς> λόγοις ἐλέγχονται οἱ ψευδεῖς,
Γιγάντων ῥήματα <μάτην προφέροντες>.

76.
< > of your heart.
<Interpretation>
“Willingly escape notice, and do not be too eager to display the particulars of your mind to every man.”

< > τῆς καρδίας σου.
<῾Ερμηνεία.>
῾Εκὼν λάνθανε καὶ μὴ παντὶ ἀνθρώπων
Τὸ προσεχὲ<ς> τῆς φρενὸς ἐπάγειν ἔθελε.

77.
“It is possible to fail, it is not possible to be indifferent.”
Interpretation
“It is proper for a man bearing the outcome of fortune to flee from carelessness of mind.”
᾿Ατυχεῖν ἔξεσ<τιν>, ἀμελεῖν οὐκ ἔξεστιν.
῾Ερμηνεία.
῎Ανδρα φέροντα τῆς τύχης τὸ σύμπτωμα
Τῆς γνώμης τὸ ῥάθυμον ἐκφυγεῖν πρέπει.

78.
< >
Interpretation
“One who wishes to be careless in practical affairs will live a dark and painful life.”
< >
῾Ερμηνείς.
῾Ο ῥαθυμεῖν ἐθέλων ἐν τοῖς πρακτέοις
Σκοτεινὸν ἕξει καὶ λυπηρὸν τὸν βίον.

79.
“The incense does not make its way up to a good god.”
Interpretation
“It is a custom of the wicked not to wish to repay good people with divine honors.”
᾿Αγαθῷ <θε>ῷ λίβανος οὐκ ἀναβαίνει.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Σύνηθές ἐστι τοῖς κακοῖς οὐκ ἐθέλειν
Τοὺς ἀγαθοὺς ἀμείβεσθαι ταῖς θείαις τιμαῖς.

80.
“Repulse them when they begin, and they will not rebel.”
Interpretation
“If you know how to hinder wickedness in its infancy, you will be far from disturbance and wicked wandering.”
᾿Αρχομένους ἀνάστελλε καὶ οὐ μὴ στασιάσουσιν.
῾Ερμηνεία.
᾿Αρχὴν κακὴν μέλλουσαν εἰδὼς κωλύειν
Ταράχου μακρὰν ἔσῃ καὶ κακῆς πλάνης.

Aesopic Proverbs 61-70: Ladders, Guts, and Puppies

Some of these proverbs were a bit rough – I found some of the ‘interpretations’ rather puzzling. Corrections are welcome/encouraged!

61.
“Desire does not ascend to the top rung of the ladder.”
Interpretation:
“Desire is a sweet thing, if the possession of the objects desired can occur without toil.”
῎Ε<ρω>ς εἰς κλιμάκιον οὐκ ἀναβαίνει.
῾Ερμηνεία.
῾Ηδὺς ὁ πόθος ἐστίν, εἰ δίχα μόχθου
<Τ>ῶν ποθουμένων ἡ κτῆσις προσγενήσεται.

62.
“If you are not wicked to one, you will not become wicked to another.”
Interpretation:
“Time, flitting about from some to others, takes wealth from one and gives to the other.”
<Ε>ἰ μὴ ἄλλῳ κακός, ἄλλῳ καλὸς οὐ γίνῃ.
῾Ερμηνεία.
<῎Α>λλ<οις> ἀπ’ ἄλλων ἐπιφοιτῶν ὁ χρόνος
Τῷ μὲν ἦρε τὸν πλοῦτον, τῷ δ’ ἐνέθηκεν.

63.
“The cow fell and everyone grabbed their swords.”
Interpretation:
“The poor who rejoice in evil will set upon every wealthy person who experiences misfortune.”
῎Επεσε βοῦς καὶ πάντες τὰ ξίφη αὐτῶν ἦραν.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Πλουσίῳ παντὶ δυστυχίαν λαχόντι
᾿Επιτίθενται πένητες χαιρέκακοι.

64.
“Your guts may battle, but they are not ripped apart.”
Interpretation:
“When children stir up quarrels with their parents, they do not alter the friendliness of their relations.”
῎Εντερα μάχονται, ἀλλ’ οὐ διασπῶνται.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Δίκας κινοῦντες παῖδες πρὸς <τοὺς> τοκέας,
Εὔνοιαν οὐκ ἀλλοιοῦσιν τὴν τῆς φύσεως.

65.
“The well-dressed are honored, the undressed dishonored.”
<Interpretation>
“Those who are well put-together will have their glory on that account, but those who are ill-composed will earn their share of reproach.”
Εὐείμαντος ἔντιμος, ἀνείμαντος ἄτιμος.
<῾Ερμηνεία.>
Εὐσχήμονες ἕξουσιν ἐντεῦθεν γέρας,
Οἱ δ’ ἀσχήμονες εἰσκομίζονται ψόγον.

66.
“One’s hands are never too short for the table.”
<Interpretation>
“A man who considers how he might attain pleasure hates to fail when he plies his hands to the task.”
Εἰς τράπεζαν χεῖρες κολοβαὶ οὐκ εἰσίν.
<῾Ερμηνεία.>
᾿Ανὴρ φροντίζων ὅπως ἕξει τὸ τρυφᾶν,
Στ<υγεῖ ἁμαρτ>εῖν τοῖς ἔργοις τείνων χεῖρας.

67.
“The dog that hurries gives birth to blind pups.”
<Interpretation>
“The nature which exceeds its birth and due proportion will, when it has acted in haste, reap the fruit of misfortune.”

Κύων σπεύδουσα τυφλὰ γεννᾷ.
<῾Ερμηνεία.>
Φύσις ἤπερ πέφυκεν καὶ καιρῷ νέμει,
Ταχυτῆτι δὲ πραττομένη συμφορὰς νέμει.

68.
“Thus I do nothing and am sought after all the way to my house.”
<Interpretation>
“A man will become invisible even to himself when he undertakes impossible tasks.”
Καὶ ὧδε οὐδὲν ποιῶ καὶ εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν ζητοῦμαι.
<῾Ερμηνεία.>
᾿Ανὴρ ἀφανὴς αὐτὸς ἑαυτῷ γίνεται
᾿Επιχειρῶν πράγμασι τοῖς ἀμηχάνοις.

69.
“It is a finer thing to be idle than to work poorly.”
Interpretation:
“It is a work of certain assurance to prefer doing nothing at all than doing something badly.”
Καλὸν ἀργεῖν ἢ κακῶς ἐργάζεσθαι.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Πληροφορίας ἔργον αἱρεῖσθαι μᾶλλον
Τοῦ κακῶς / τι δρᾶν τὸ μη<δὲν> ὅλως ποιεῖν.

70.
“Beauty does not keep up the household.”
Interpretation:
“Beauty causes pain when for the sake of proportion [temporal advantage?] the passing away of affairs produces hunger.”
Κ<άλλο>ς οἶκον οὐ τρέφει.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Λυπεῖ τὸ κάλλος ὅταν χάριν τοῦ καιροῦ
῾Η τῶν πραγμάτων ἐκφορὰ λιμὸν ποιῇ.

Aesopic Proverbs 51-60: Crows, Pigs, and Raw Recruits

51.
“This egg came from that crow.”
Interpretation:
“The fruit of every tree will become a clear reproach when the tree puts forth its nature [shoots?].”
Τοῦτο τὸ ὠὸν ἀπ’ ἐκείνου τοῦ κόρακος.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Δῆλος ἔλεγχος ὁ καρπὸς γενήσεται
Παντὸς δένδρου <φυέντος> ἣν ἔχει φύσιν.

52.
“The sow sees barley in its dreams.”
Interpretation:
“Everyone dreams looking upon those things toward which his mind is inclined.”
῾Η ὗς εἰς τοὺς ὀνείρους κριθὰς βλέπει.
῾Ερμηνεία.
᾿Ονειροπολεῖται ἅπας ἐκεῖνα βλέπων,
Εἰς ἅπερ ἔχει τὴν γνῶσιν κεκλιμένην.

53.
“When the rustic man eats, he rages at the fish.”
Interpretation:
“The inexperienced hedonist, if he ever gets hold of pleasure, loses his mind and grows excessively insolent.”
Χωρικὸς φαγὼν ἰχθὺν ἐμάν<η>.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Τρυφῶν ἄπειρος, ἣν λάχῃ τρυφήν ποτε,
<Τὸν νοῦν ἀπολλὺς> εἰς ἄγαν φρυάττεται.

54.
“The horse runs to its birth.”
Interpretation:
“Subsequent progeny guard the character of their family for those from whom they sprang.”
῞Ιππος εἰς γένος τρέχει.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Πρὸς τοὺς ἐξ ὧν ἐγεννήθησαν οἱ μετέπειτα
Τὸν τρόπον φυλάττουσιν τῆς συγγενείας.

55.
“The raw recruit is a poison to the ship.”
Interpretation:
“Inexperience is a hard thing, and even more so when the wave of the sea tyrannizes over the ship.”
᾿Ιδιώτης εἰς πλοῖον φάρμακον.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Χαλεπὸν ἀπειρία κἀκεῖσε μᾶλλον,
῎Ενθα κῦμα θαλάσσης τυραννεῖ σκάφος.
56.
“A well-born horse does not kick.”
Interpretation:
“The one who receives the good-breeding of nature will maintain it by the gentleness of manners.”
῞Ιππος εὐγενὴς οὐ λακτίζει.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Εὐγένειαν ὁ λαχὼν τὴν τῆς φύσεως
Ταύτην φυλάττει πραότητι τῶν τρόπων.

57.
“Tell the truth to your doctor and your lawyer.”
Interpretation:
“It is not wise to hide either an affliction of the body or the presence of an illness in one’s vitals.”

᾿Ιατρῷ καὶ νομικῷ τὴν ἀλήθειαν λέγε.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Κρύπτειν οὐ πρέπει οὔτε πάθος σώματος
Οὔτε κτῆσιν <τὴν οὖσ>αν ἐν καιρῷ νόσου.

58.
“Of moderate… < >”
Interpretation:
“Those who honor wealth and have many possessions say farewell to poverty forever.”
Μετρίου φί< >
῾Ερμηνεία.
Πλοῦτον τιμῶντες οἱ χρημάτων ἔμπλεοι
Τῇ πενίᾳ λέγουσιν χαίρειν <εἰς> ἀεί.
59.
“The one not looking through a sieve is blind.”
Interpretation
“The man who has gotten the beginnings of understanding, if he does not think prudently, will be reproached with blindness.”
῾Ο μὴ βλέπων διὰ κοσκίνου τυφλός ἐστιν.
῾Ερμηνεία.
᾿Αφορμὰς εἰς σύνεσιν εἰληφὼς ἀνήρ,
Εἰ μὴ φρονοίη, τυφλώττειν ἐλέγχεται.

60.
“The lyre string laughs just once.”
Interpretation:
“Sallies of wit can only delight stupidity for a while. When they linger, they cause pain.”
Χορδὴ ἅπαξ γελᾶται.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Χαριεντισμοῦ λόγος ἀπαιδευσίαν
Πρὸς ὀλίγον τέρπει· εἰ δ’ ἐπιμένει λυπεῖ.

Aesopic Proverbs 41-50: Love, Squinting, and the Sufferings of the Soul

41.
“Love without purpose, and do not hate without reason.”
Interpretation:
“Treat those whom you meet, if it is necessary, as friends. Do not indulge your enemies in their hate against you.”
Εἰκῇ φιλοῦ, μάτην μὴ μισοῦ.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Καὶ τοὺς τυχόντας, εἰ δέοι, φίλους ἔχε·
᾿Εχθροῖς δὲ μὴ χαρίζου τὸ πρὸς σὲ μῖσος.

42.
“Sought, and not hated.”
Interpretation:
“By not wanting to visit with your friends frequently, you will become loved but not hated.”
Ζητούμενος καὶ μὴ μισούμενος.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Θαμινὰ φοιτᾶν τοῖς φίλοις οὐκ ἐθέλων
᾿Αγαπητός, ἀλλ’ οὐ μισητὸς γενήσῃ.

43.
“The one who conceals an itch simply doubles it.”
Interpretation:
“Often, an imprudent mind has worsened its symptoms by wishing to escape them.”
῾Ο κρύβων τὴν ψώραν αὐτοῦ διπλῆν αὐτὴν ποιεῖ.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Πολλοῖς ἐμεγάλυνε τὰ συμπτώματα
Νοῦς ἄφρων <μάτην> τὸ λαθεῖν ἐθελήσας.

44.
“The birthday of one’s eyes begins the suffering of one’s soul.”
<Interpretation>
“The enjoyment of the various amusements afforded to the idea give the soul pain and many laments.”
᾿Οφθαλμῶν γενέσια ψυχῆς ὀδύνη.
<῾Ερμηνεία.>
Τέρψις ὀφθαλμῶν ἀλλοτρίας ἑορτῆς
Λύπας φέρει τῇ ψυχῇ καὶ θρήνους πολλούς.

45.
“Hey Squinty, where is your little ear?”
Interpretation:
“A malicious man, imagining that nothing is well-wrought, fights even with the noble at every turn.”
Στρεβλέ, ποῦ ἐστι τὸ ὠτίον σου;
῾Ερμηνεία.
Οὐδὲν εὐθὲς ἐννοῶν δυσμενὴς ἀνὴρ
Καὶ τοῖς φανεροῖς μάχεται παντὶ τρόπῳ.

46.
“May you fall asleep and walk about your ship.”
Interpretation:
“Fortune decrees wealth to sleeping mortals with a wakeful providence.”
Σὺ ὑπνοῖς καὶ τὸ πλοῖόν σου περιπατεῖ.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Καθεύδουσιν ἡ Τύχη ἀνθρώποις πλοῦτον
Διαπεραίνει ἀγρύπνῳ τῇ προνοίᾳ.

47.
“Watch over your son, so that he does not fall into a well while you say that God willed it so.”
Interpretation:
“God has granted your reason as a guard, so that you can guard yourself against those things which must be watched out for.”
Τήρει τὸν υἱόν σου, ἵνα μὴ πέσῃ εἰς τὸ φρέαρ καὶ εἴπῃς
ὅτι ὁ θεὸς ἤθελεν.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Τὸν νοῦν σου φύλακα δέδωκεν ὁ θεός,
῞Ινα σαυτῷ φυλάσσῃς ἃ φρουρεῖν πρέπει.

48.
“Swiftness has its charm.”
Interpretation:
“Those gift-givers become most pleasing, who crown every gift with the blessing of swiftness.”
Τὸ ταχὺ χάριν ἔχει.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Εὐχάριστοι γίνονται οἱ φιλόδωροι
Ταχυτῆτι στέφοντες ἅπασαν δόσιν.

49.
“Grapes ripen when looking on other grapes.”
Interpretation:
“Those engaged in some labor will accomplish what must be done when they look upon each other with a zealous mind.”
Σταφυλὴ σταφυλὴν βλέπουσα πεπαίνεται.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Εἰς ἀλλήλους βλέποντες οἱ μοχθοῦντές τι
Προθύμῳ γνώμῃ τὰ πρακτέα τελοῦσιν.

50.
“A lion inside, a fox without.”
Interpretation:
“By mixing boldness with villainy, you appear to demonstrate who you are not, and to hide what you are.”
῎Εσω λέων καὶ ἔξω ἀλώπηξ.
῾Ερμηνεία.
Κακουργίαν θρασύτητι μίξας φαίνῃ
Δεικνὺς ὃ μὴ εἷς, καὶ κρύπτων ὃ τυγχάνεις.