It Is Impossible to Speak Worthily of the Dead

Epitaphios: A speech performed annually in honor of those who have died in war. See this  piece in The Conversation on Greek memorials or listen to a conversation with Arnie Arnesen.

The most famous that remains is Thucydides’ version of Perikles’ funeral oration (2.35-46).

Thucydides, 2.35

“Many of those who have spoken here already praised the one who made this speech law, that it is a noble thing to speak over the burials of those who died in war.  But honors paid in deeds for deeds performed by good men would seem to be sufficient to me—the acts which you see performed now by the public at this burial. The virtues of many should not be risked by entrusting them to the good or poor speaking of one man alone. “

‘Οἱ μὲν πολλοὶ τῶν ἐνθάδε ἤδη εἰρηκότων ἐπαινοῦσι τὸν προσθέντα τῷ νόμῳ τὸν λόγον τόνδε, ὡς καλὸν ἐπὶ τοῖς ἐκ τῶν πολέμων θαπτομένοις ἀγορεύεσθαι αὐτόν. ἐμοὶ δὲ ἀρκοῦν ἂν ἐδόκει εἶναι ἀνδρῶν ἀγαθῶν ἔργῳ γενομένων ἔργῳ καὶ δηλοῦσθαι τὰς τιμάς, οἷα καὶ νῦν περὶ τὸν τάφον τόνδε δημοσίᾳ παρασκευασθέντα ὁρᾶτε, καὶ μὴ ἐν ἑνὶ ἀνδρὶ πολλῶν ἀρετὰς κινδυνεύεσθαι εὖ τε καὶ χεῖρον εἰπόντι πιστευθῆναι.

For more….

Lysias, Epitaphios 1-3

“If I believed it were possible, men in attendance, to make clear in this speech the virtue of the men who lie here, I would complain to those who summoned me to speak after only a few days.

Εἰ μὲν ἡγούμην οἷόν τε εἶναι, ὦ ἄνδρες οἱ παρόντες ἐπὶ τῷδε τῷ τάφῳ, λόγῳ δηλῶσαι τὴν τῶν ἐνθάδε κειμένων [ἀνδρῶν] ἀρετήν, ἐμεμψάμην ἂν τοῖς ἐπαγγείλασιν ἐπ’ αὐτοῖς ἐξ ὀλίγων ἡμερῶν λέγειν·

For more…

Plato’s Menexenus (236dff), Socrates recites an epitaphios given by Aspasia:

“In deed, these men have what is required for them materially—now that they have obtained it, they proceed along the fated path: they have been carried out in common by the city and in private by their families.  But in speech it is necessary to pay out the remaining rite which custom assigns us.

῎Εργῳ μὲν ἡμῖν οἵδε ἔχουσιν τὰ προσήκοντα σφίσιν αὐτοῖς, ὧν τυχόντες πορεύονται τὴν εἱμαρμένην πορείαν, προπεμφθέντες κοινῇ μὲν ὑπὸ τῆς πόλεως, ἰδίᾳ δὲ ὑπὸ τῶν οἰκείων· λόγῳ δὲ δὴ τὸν λειπόμενον κόσμον ὅ τε νόμος προστάττει ἀποδοῦναι τοῖς ἀνδράσιν καὶ χρή.

For more…

Demosthenes, Epitaphios (speech 60)

“Since it seems right to the state to bury those lying in this grave publicly because they proved themselves noble in war and it has been assigned to me to deliver the customary speech on their behalf, I immediately began to examine how others have crafted the appropriate praise. But while I was considering and examining this, I realized that speaking worthily of the dead is one of those things that is impossible for men.”

᾿Επειδὴ τοὺς ἐν τῷδε τῷ τάφῳ κειμένους, ἄνδρας ἀγαθοὺς ἐν τῷ πολέμῳ γεγονότας, ἔδοξεν τῇ πόλει δημοσίᾳ θάπτειν καὶ προσέταξεν ἐμοὶ τὸν νομιζόμενον λόγον εἰπεῖν ἐπ’ αὐτοῖς, ἐσκόπουν μὲν εὐθὺς ὅπως τοῦ προσήκοντος ἐπαίνου τεύξονται, ἐξετάζων δὲ καὶ σκοπῶνἀξίως εἰπεῖν τῶν τετελευτηκότων ἕν τι τῶν ἀδυνάτων ηὕρισκον ὄν.

For more….

Image result for ancient greek epitaph
An epitaph

Knowing Other People: A Commencement Address

Editor’s note: As a faculty member, I attend graduation every year and hear a lot of commencement speeches. This one below, from the Humanities Commencement Ceremony of Brandeis’ School of Arts and Sciences on Sunday, May 22nd just stopped me. The author is an English and European Cultural Studies Major who took a few introductory Greek classes with me. Read through to the end. – JPC

The Speech

Dear fellow students, families, friends, and faculty, hello, good morning, and congratulations. In lieu of a conventional speech, I offer a short narrative, and invite you to indulge me:

He was surprised when they asked him to give a speech at the graduation, for he was never the speech-giving kind of student, whether in his own country or abroad elsewhere. Speeches were supposed to be given by other people – by the better, more perfect specimens of scholarship and society: people who can stand on podiums with big confident smiles and talk about the democratic values of a humanistic education. He was not one of those people; he felt satisfied to sit in the audience.

“So, what’re you gonna say?” she asked. It is midnight. He sits on a sofa outside his room. She is somewhere in Liaoning. They met on WeChat. They have never met in person. There is no one else to talk to at this hour.

“I’ve no idea,” he texted. “I’m reading speeches from last year. One of them quotes Shakespeare, another Shelley. I feel like I should do something different, maybe quote Confucius? I’m flipping through a translation of the Analects right now, but I can’t find a good passage.”

“What do you want to say?” she asked. “What is your message?”

He stops. Is it so simple? To say something, to have a message. Outside, a car arrived in the lot, a shadow with a suitcase approached the vehicle – someone is heading home for summer.

“Some speeches from the past touch on politics,” he texted. “North American politics, of course. Nothing unusual. Do you think I should go in that direction?”

“Do you have something to say in that direction?” she replied.

“Well, I can say something like: ‘Today, we live in an age of global nationalism and international mistrust, in which it is all too easy for people to perceive and prejudge each other, perhaps unconsciously, according to the country they come from, or some other group identity, thus enacting a totalizing discourse of group impressions. These are times when the value of the humanities become especially pertinent, because the humanities teach us to behold one another’s differences intimately, to confront each other, to engage the Other, in the words of French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, “face-to-face”, on an individual basis. The kind of knowledge that the humanities impart us consists in precisely this ability to open up to the Other, and by doing so, ultimately, know ourselves.’”

He sends the text and waits. She does not reply. He feels hypocritical. In his three years at Brandeis, he did not do what he had just preached in that very text he had just produced, neither did he feel like it was possible. In his actual experience, people always hanged out with their own, no matter what they think they believe in, almost as if they could not help it. When he attempts to break into a different territory, its local inhabitants quickly remind him, by confused looks and bored expressions, that he is an outsider who does not really speak their language or share their jokes. It matters little if these people have read Shelley or Shakespeare.

Perhaps, he thinks, true learning is not about believing that you have become a better person, that you are that better person, but in knowing that you are not, and that there is much, still, to be known.

She does not reply. He waits. In the silence of the night, he detects a strange humming sound, as if there is a machine hidden in the darkness. He flips through the Analects. A message appears on his phone. It is from her – it is a quote:

“子曰:不患人之不己知,患不知人也。”

“‘The Master said: Do not worry that other people do not know you. But be concerned that you do not know them.’”

Zhongzhi Chen is a recent graduate of Brandeis University. He plans to attend an MFA program this Fall. He was inspired by J. M. Coetzee’s Nobel lecture for this piece.

Judging on Aspiration not Failure

Aelius Aristedes, Reply to Plato 259-260

“Some of them certainly corrupted people while others blasphemed the gods; there were those who gave speeches which would have been better unsaid and others who produced more audacity than good sense. But it may not be the best to say that if some people use the excuse of philosophy and become scoundrels who are no better than most people or, by Zeus, even more clever at doing evil, then we should dishonor philosophy, provided that philosophy is not doing these sorts of things. Instead, we must use these things as evidence against them, that they have failed at philosophy.

In the same way, it does not make oratory worse if some people use blandishment or abuse, but we must recognize in this that they are bad at rhetoric just as the other people fail at philosophy, they all use the excuse of the noblest action to furnish themselves with the opportunity to do evil.

It would be odd if we were to judge actions of cobblers and carpenters not from their mistakes but instead from examples where they did as well as humanly possible, but we evaluate oratory not just from its greatest accomplishments, but instead according to those who do the opposite of what oratory intends.”

ὧν οἱ μὲν διέφθειραν δήπου τινάς, οἱ δ’ ἐβλασφήμησαν περὶ θεούς, οἱ δὲ λόγους ἄλλους τινὰς εἶπον, οὓς οὐκ ἄμεινον ἦν ὅλως, οἱ δὲ αὐθαδείας πλέον ἢ φρονήσεως εἰσηνέγκαντο. ἀλλὰ μὴ οὕτω βέλτιον ᾖ λέγειν, ὅτι οὐκ, εἴ τινες φιλοσοφίας προβλήματι χρώμενοι φαῦλοι καὶ μηδὲν βελτίους τῶν πολλῶν γεγόνασιν, ἢ νὴ Δία καὶ δεινότεροι κακουργεῖν, οὐ διὰ ταῦτα ἀτιμαστέον φιλοσοφίαν, ἕως ἂν φιλοσοφία μὴ τὸ τὰ τοιαῦτα ποιεῖν ᾖ, ἀλλ’ αὐτοῖς τούτοις τεκμηρίοις χρηστέον κατ’ ἐκείνων, ὅτι διημαρτήκασι φιλοσοφίας. οὐδὲ εἴ τινες, οἶμαι, κολακεύουσιν ἢ συκοφαντοῦσιν, χείρω τοῦτο ποιεῖ ῥητορικήν, ἀλλ’ ἡμαρτηκότας αὐτοὺς ῥητορικῆς ταύτῃ γε ταῦτα δεῖ δοκεῖν, ὥσπερ ἐκείνους φιλοσοφίας, ἐπὶ τῷ τοῦ καλλίστου προσχήματι τὴν τοῦ κακουργεῖν ἄδειαν ἑαυτοῖς ἐκπορίζοντας. ἄτοπον δ’ ἂν εἴη, εἰ τὰ μὲν τῶν σκυτοτόμων καὶ τῶν τεκτόνων ἔργα μὴ ἐξ ὧν ἂν διαμάρτωσι κρινοῦμεν, ἀλλ’ ἐξ ὧν ἂν ὡς δυνατὸν μάλιστα τύχωσιν, ῥητορικὴν δ’ οὐ μόνον οὐκ ἐκ τῶν κάλλιστα αὐτὴν ἀποτελεσάντων κρινοῦμεν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐκ τῶν αὐτὰ τἀναντία πραττόντων οἷς ἡ ῥητορικὴ βούλεται.

 

Image result for medieval manuscript cobbler
Ott Norlinger (1476) from the Hausbuch of the Mendelschen Zwolfbruderstiftung (Neurenberg, Germany). Folio 96 recto

Suspicious Speech and the Pleasure Principle

Quintilian Inst Orat. 5.14

“In addition, the harsher something is by nature, the more it must be peppered with pleasures. A speech’s content is less suspicious thanks to disguise; and the audience’s pleasure aids much the speech’s credibility. Unless, of course, we believe that Cicero put it badly in his suggestion that ‘laws keep quiet among arms’ or ‘sometimes a sword is handed to us by the laws themselves.’ In these cases, the devices must be consideration as an ornament, not an impediment.”

quoque quid est natura magis asperum, hoc pluribus condiendum est voluptatibus, et minus suspecta argumentatio dissimulatione, et multum ad fidem adiuvat audientis voluptas: nisi forte existimamus Ciceronem haec ipsa male in argumentatione dixisse, ‘silere leges inter arma’, et ‘gladium nobis interim ab ipsis porrigi legibus’. In his tamen habendus is est modus ut sint ornamento, non impedimento.

Image result for medieval manuscript pleasure
Roman de la Rose. Bruges c. 1490-150

The Best Omen

Homer, Iliad 12. 238-244

“Why are you telling me to listen to thin-winged birds?
I don’t care about them at all or worry whether
they go to the right towards the dawn and the sun
Or drift to the left to the dark of dusk.

Let us obey the will of great Zeus who rules
Above all mortals and all gods.
One bird sign is best: defend your country.
Why then are you afraid of war and battle?”

τύνη δ᾽ οἰωνοῖσι τανυπτερύγεσσι κελεύεις
πείθεσθαι, τῶν οὔ τι μετατρέπομ᾽ οὐδ᾽ ἀλεγίζω
εἴτ᾽ ἐπὶ δεξί᾽ ἴωσι πρὸς ἠῶ τ᾽ ἠέλιόν τε,
εἴτ᾽ ἐπ᾽ ἀριστερὰ τοί γε ποτὶ ζόφον ἠερόεντα.
ἡμεῖς δὲ μεγάλοιο Διὸς πειθώμεθα βουλῇ,
ὃς πᾶσι θνητοῖσι καὶ ἀθανάτοισιν ἀνάσσει.
εἷς οἰωνὸς ἄριστος ἀμύνεσθαι περὶ πάτρης.
τίπτε σὺ δείδοικας πόλεμον καὶ δηϊοτῆτα;

A white stork

Really, We Have To Go to War

Thucydides, Peloponnesian War 1.144

“I have many other reasons to hope for the outcome if you are willing not to grow your empire by warring more and not to add dangers of your own choosing. For I am much more afraid of our own mistakes than our enemies’ plans.

But these are topics which will be explained in another speech on those matters. For now, let use send them away with these answers, that we will allow the Megarians to use our marketplace and harbors provided that the Spartans do not continue their foreign actions against us or our allies—for nothing stops this action or that one in the treaties we have. In addition, we will leave cities independent if they were independent when we came into contact with them and when those cities did not give in to them, they should be independent too, as each of them desires.

Add as well that we are willing to submit to judgments according to the treaties and we will not begin the war, although we will defend against those who do start it. These answers are just and proper answers for the city. You need to understand that we must go to war—but if we welcome it willingly, we will have less enthusiastic opponents.

Remember also that the greatest honors come both in private and public from the greatest dangers. Didn’t our fathers stand up against the Medes even though they started from so unequal a position? And when they left everything they had behind, they fought off the barbarian with greater intelligence than luck and greater daring than power and raised our state to what it is today. For this reason, we must not fall back, but we must defend against our enemies in every way and strive to give to our descendants a state no weaker at all.”

‘Πολλὰ δὲ καὶ ἄλλα ἔχω ἐς ἐλπίδα τοῦ περιέσεσθαι, ἢν ἐθέλητε ἀρχήν τε μὴ ἐπικτᾶσθαι ἅμα πολεμοῦντες καὶ κινδύνους αὐθαιρέτους μὴ προστίθεσθαι· μᾶλλον γὰρ πεφόβημαι τὰς οἰκείας ἡμῶν ἁμαρτίας ἢ τὰς τῶν ἐναντίων διανοίας. ἀλλ’ ἐκεῖνα μὲν καὶ ἐν ἄλλῳ λόγῳ ἅμα τοῖς ἔργοις δηλωθήσεται· νῦν δὲ τούτοις ἀποκρινάμενοι ἀποπέμψωμεν, Μεγαρέας μὲν ὅτι ἐάσομεν ἀγορᾷ καὶ λιμέσι χρῆσθαι, ἢν καὶ Λακεδαιμόνιοι ξενηλασίας μὴ ποιῶσι μήτε ἡμῶν μήτε τῶν ἡμετέρων ξυμμάχων (οὔτε γὰρ ἐκεῖνο κωλύει ἐν ταῖς σπονδαῖς οὔτε τόδε), τὰς δὲ πόλεις ὅτι αὐτονόμους ἀφήσομεν, εἰ καὶ αὐτονόμους ἔχοντες ἐσπεισάμεθα, καὶ ὅταν κἀκεῖνοι ταῖς ἑαυτῶν ἀποδῶσι πόλεσι μὴ σφίσι [τοῖς Λακεδαιμονίοις] ἐπιτηδείως αὐτονομεῖσθαι, ἀλλ’ αὐτοῖς ἑκάστοις ὡς βούλονται· δίκας τε ὅτι ἐθέλομεν δοῦναι κατὰ τὰς ξυνθήκας, πολέμου δὲ οὐκ ἄρξομεν, ἀρχομένους δὲ ἀμυνούμεθα. ταῦτα γὰρ δίκαια καὶ πρέποντα ἅμα τῇδε τῇ πόλει ἀποκρίνασθαι. εἰδέναι δὲ χρὴ ὅτι ἀνάγκη πολεμεῖν, ἢν δὲ ἑκούσιοι μᾶλλον δεχώμεθα, ἧσσον ἐγκεισομένους τοὺς ἐναντίους ἕξομεν, ἔκ τε τῶν μεγίστων κινδύνων ὅτι καὶ πόλει καὶ ἰδιώτῃ μέγισται τιμαὶ περιγίγνονται. οἱ γοῦν πατέρες ἡμῶν ὑποστάντες Μήδους καὶ οὐκ ἀπὸ τοσῶνδε ὁρμώμενοι, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰ ὑπάρχοντα ἐκλιπόντες, γνώμῃ τε πλέονι ἢ τύχῃ καὶ τόλμῃ μείζονι ἢ δυνάμει τόν τε βάρβαρον ἀπεώσαντο καὶ ἐς τάδε προήγαγον αὐτά. ὧν οὐ χρὴ λείπεσθαι, ἀλλὰ τούς τε ἐχθροὺς παντὶ τρόπῳ ἀμύνεσθαι καὶ τοῖς ἐπιγιγνομένοις πειρᾶσθαι αὐτὰ μὴ ἐλάσσω παραδοῦναι.’

File:Jean-auguste-dominique ingres, uomo deificato, detto l'apoteosi di omero, 1827, 02.jpg
Detail of J.A.D Ingres’  “Apotheosis of Homer”

 

Absentmindedness is…uh, What?

I lose my campus ID every 6 months or so; each morning, finding my keys is a wild adventure even though they are almost always in the same place…

Theophrastus, Characters: Absentmindedness

“To give it a definition, absent-mindedness, is a slowness of mind in speech and actions. An absent-minded person is the kind of person who:

Even after making a calculation with counters and coming to a sum asks the person sitting next to him, “What’s this”?

If he is called to court and meant to go, forgets and goes to the country;

If he is watching something at the theater, he is left alone when he falls a sleep;

When he eats too much he gets up at night for the bathroom and is bitten by the neighbor’s dog.

When he gets something and puts it away, is not able to find it when he looks for it;

When he learns that one of his friends has died and he should attend the funeral, he frowns and cries but says “it’s for the best”

When he gets money paid back to him he is sure to ask for proof of receipt.

He fights with his slave because he didn’t buy cucumbers even though it is winter.

He makes his children practice wrestling and running until they are exhausted.

When he is cooking bean soup in the country, he salts the pan twice, ruining the food.”

(1) ἔστι δὲ ἡ ἀναισθησία, ὡς ὅρῳ εἰπεῖν, βραδυτὴς ψυχῆς ἐν λόγοις καὶ πράξεσιν, ὁ δὲ ἀναίσθητος τοιοῦτός τις,

(2) οἷος λογισάμενος ταῖς ψήφοις καὶ κεφάλαιον ποιήσας ἐρωτᾶν τὸν παρακαθήμενον· “τί γίνεται;”

(3) καὶ δίκην φεύγων καὶ ταύτην εἰσιέναι μέλλων ἐπιλαθόμενος εἰς ἀγρὸν πορεύεσθαι.

(4) καὶ θεωρῶν ἐν τῷ θεάτρῳ μόνος καταλείπεσθαι καθεύδων.

(5) καὶ πολλὰ φαγὼν καὶ τῆς νυκτὸς ἐπὶ θάκου ἀνιστάμενος ὑπὸ κυνὸς τῆς τοῦ γείτονος δηχθῆναι.

(6) καὶ λαβών <τι> καὶ ἀποθεὶς αὐτός, τοῦτο ζητεῖν καὶ μὴ δύνασθαι εὑρεῖν.

(7) καὶ ἀπαγγέλλοντος αὐτῷ ὅτι τετελεύτηκέ τις αὐτοῦ τῶν φίλων, ἵνα παραγένηται, σκυθρωπάσας καὶ δακρύσας εἰπεῖν· “ἀγαθῇ τύχῃ.”

(8) δεινὸς δὲ καὶ ἀπολαμβάνων ἀργύριον ὀφειλόμενον μάρτυρας παραλαβεῖν.

(9) καὶ χειμῶνος ὄντος μάχεσθαι τῷ παιδὶ ὅτι σικύους οὐκ ἠγόρασεν.

(10) καὶ τὰ παιδία ἑαυτοῦ παλαίειν ἀναγκάζων καὶ τροχάζειν εἰς κόπον ἐμβάλλειν.

(11) καὶ ἐν ἀγρῷ αὐτὸς φακῆν ἕψων δὶς ἅλας εἰς τὴν χύτραν ἐμβαλὼν ἄβρωτον ποιῆσαι..

Forgetfuljones01
Forgetful Jones, a Muppet you have likely forgotten.

 

The Reason for Empire’s Fall

Isocrates, On the Peace 116-119

“If you listen to me, and you stop taking just any kind of advice at all and pay attention to yourselves and the city, you will gain some wisdom and examine what happened to these two cities, ours and Sparta. How did their empires over Greece rise up from pretty basic affairs and then, once they each took unrivaled power, how did they risk enslavement? What was the reason that the Thessalians, who have the most wealth, and the best and most abundant land, fell into poverty, but the Megarians, whose starting point was small and ragged, and even though they did not have land or harbors, or silver minds but were just farming stones, developed the richest economy of the Greeks?

Why do other people frequently control the Thessalians’ fortresses when they have a cavalry over three thousand and countless peltasts beyond that while the Megarians, who have only a small force, control their city as they want? In addition to this, why are the Thessalians always at war against one another while the Megarians who live near the Peloponnesians, the Thebans, and our city manage to survive at peace?

If you work through these questions, you will find that a lack of self-control and arrogance are the cause of our problems, while prudence is responsible for all of our advantages.”

Ἢν οὖν ἐμοὶ πεισθῆτε, παυσάμενοι τοῦ παντάπασιν εἰκῇ βουλεύεσθαι προσέξετε τὸν νοῦν ὑμῖν αὐτοῖς καὶ τῇ πόλει, καὶ φιλοσοφήσετε καὶ σκέψεσθε τί τὸ ποιῆσάν ἐστι τὼ πόλη τούτω, λέγω δὲ τὴν ἡμετέραν καὶ τὴν Λακεδαιμονίων, ἐκ ταπεινῶν μὲν πραγμάτων ἑκατέραν ὁρμηθεῖσαν ἄρξαι τῶν Ἑλλήνων, ἐπεὶ δ᾿ ἀνυπέρβλητον τὴν δύναμιν ἔλαβον, περὶ ἀνδραποδισμοῦ κινδυνεῦσαι· καὶ διὰ τίνας αἰτίας Θετταλοὶ μέν, μεγίστους πλούτους παραλαβόντες καὶ χώραν ἀρίστην καὶ πλείστην ἔχοντες, εἰς ἀπορίαν καθεστήκασι, Μεγαρεῖς δέ, μικρῶν αὐτοῖς καὶ φαύλων τῶν ἐξ ἀρχῆς ὑπαρξάντων, καὶ γῆν μὲν οὐκ ἔχοντες οὐδὲ λιμένας οὐδ᾿ ἀργυρεῖα, πέτρας δὲ γεωργοῦντες, μεγίστους οἴκους τῶν Ἑλλήνων κέκτηνται· κἀκείνων μὲν τὰς ἀκροπόλεις ἄλλοι τινὲς ἀεὶ κατέχουσιν, ὄντων αὐτοῖς πλέον τρισχιλίων ἱππέων καὶ πελταστῶν ἀναριθμήτων, οὗτοι δὲ μικρὰν δύναμιν ἔχοντες τὴν αὑτῶν ὅπως βούλονται διοικοῦσιν· καὶ πρὸς τούτοις οἱ μὲν σφίσιν αὐτοῖς πολεμοῦσιν, οὗτοι δὲ μεταξὺ Πελοποννησίων καὶ Θηβαίων καὶ τῆς ἡμετέρας πόλεως οἰκοῦντες εἰρήνην ἄγοντες διατελοῦσιν. ἢν γὰρ ταῦτα καὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα διεξίητε πρὸς ὑμᾶς αὐτούς, εὑρήσετε τὴν μὲν ἀκολασίαν καὶ τὴν ὕβριν τῶν κακῶν αἰτίαν γιγνομένην, τὴν δὲ σωφροσύνην τῶν ἀγαθῶν.

Image result for you see what god did to us man gif

Image result for god didn't do that fear and loathing

Solon Says: Sue Bad Leaders of State

Aeschines, Against Timarchus

“[Solon] believed that someone who managed their own personal affairs badly would manage matters of state similarly. It did not seem likely to the lawgiver that that the same person who was a scoundrel in private would be a useful citizen in public. He also did not think right that a person should come to speak in public before being prepared for it, not just for words but in life.

And he also thought that advice from a good and noble person, however poorly and simply it was framed, is beneficial to those who hear it, while the words of a person who has no shame, who has made a mockery of his own body and who has shamefully managed his inheritance—well, these words he believed would never help the people who heard them, not even if they were delivered well.

This is why he keeps these kinds of people from the platform, why he forbids them from addressing the public. If someone speaks, then, not merely against these precepts but also for the sack of bribery and criminality, and if the state can no longer endure such a person, he adds “Let any citizens who desires it, and who is able, sue him…”

τὸν γὰρ τὴν ἰδίαν οἰκίαν κακῶς οἰκήσαντα, καὶ τὰ κοινὰ τῆς πόλεως παραπλησίως ἡγήσατο διαθήσειν, καὶ οὐκ ἐδόκει οἷόν τ᾿ εἶναι τῷ νομοθέτῃ τὸν αὐτὸν ἄνθρωπον ἰδίᾳ μὲν εἶναι πονηρόν, δημοσίᾳ δὲ χρηστόν, οὐδ᾿ ᾤετο δεῖν τὸν ῥήτορα ἥκειν ἐπὶ τὸ βῆμα τῶν λόγων ἐπιμεληθέντα πρότερον, ἀλλ᾿ οὐ τοῦ βίου. καὶ παρὰ μὲν ἀνδρὸς καλοῦ καὶ ἀγαθοῦ, κἂν πάνυ κακῶς καὶ ἁπλῶς ῥηθῇ, χρήσιμα τὰ λεγόμενα ἡγήσατο εἶναι τοῖς ἀκούουσι· παρὰ δὲ ἀνθρώπου βδελυροῦ, καὶ καταγελάστως μὲν κεχρημένου τῷ ἑαυτοῦ σώματι, αἰσχρῶς δὲ τὴν πατρῴαν οὐσίαν κατεδηδοκότος, οὐδ᾿ ἂν εὖ πάνυ λεχθῇ συνοίσειν ἡγήσατο τοῖς ἀκούουσι. τούτους οὖν ἐξείργει ἀπὸ τοῦ βήματος, τούτους ἀπαγορεύει μὴ δημηγορεῖν. ἐὰν δέ τις παρὰ ταῦτα μὴ μόνον λέγῃ, ἀλλὰ καὶ συκοφαντῇ καὶ ἀσελγαίνῃ, καὶ μηκέτι τὸν τοιοῦτον ἄνθρωπον δύνηται φέρειν ἡ πόλις, “Δοκιμασίαν μέν,” φησίν, “ἐπαγγειλάτω Ἀθηναίων ὁ βουλόμενος, οἷς ἔξεστιν,” ὑμᾶς δ᾿ ἤδη κελεύει

File:Portrait bust of Sophocles on Herm (known as Solon)-Uffizi.jpg
Bust Labeled “Solon” but Probably actually Sophocles. Sue Me.

Senators, Do Not Fail the Republic!

Cicero Philippic 3.14

“For this reason, Senators—by the gods almighty—take this opportunity offered to you and finally remember that you are the leaders of the most powerful council in the world. Give a sign to the Roman people that your response will not fail the Republic since they do insist that their own dedication will not fail you. You don’t need my warning!

No person is so foolish that they don’t understand that if we remain asleep at this moment we will have to live through a rule that is not only cruel and arrogant but ignoble and disgraceful too. You know this man’s arrogance, his friends, and his whole household. To serve shameful lusts, bullies, disgusting and irreverent thieves, those drunkards—well, that is the worst suffering married to the greatest dishonor.

But if—and the gods forbid this—if the final story of our Republic is being told, may we face it like noble gladiators when they fall with honor. Let us who were the leaders of the whole world and model for every people act so that we die with dignity rather than serve in disgrace. Nothing is more hateful than dishonor; nothing is more despicable than servitude. We were born into honor and freedom: let us keep them or die with dignity.

For too long we have hidden our thoughts. Now it is out in the open. Everyone is making what they think, what they want for each side clear. There are traitorous citizens—too many given the value of our Republic—but they are a mere few in comparison to those who know what’s right…”

14] Hanc igitur occasionem oblatam tenete, per deos immortalis, patres conscripti, et amplissimi orbis terrae consili principes vos esse aliquando recordamini! Signum date populo Romano consilium vestrum non deesse rei publicae, quoniam ille virtutem suam non defuturam esse profitetur. Nihil est quod moneam vos.

Nemo est tam stultus qui non intellegat, si indormierimus huic tempori, non modo crudelem superbamque dominationem nobis sed ignominiosam etiam et flagitiosam ferendam. Nostis insolentiam Antoni, nostis amicos, nostis totam domum. Libidinosis, petulantibus, impuris, impudicis, aleatoribus, ebriis servire, ea summa miseria est summo dedecore coniuncta.

Quod si iam—quod di omen avertant!—fatum extremum rei publicae venit, quod gladiatores nobiles faciunt, ut honeste decumbant, faciamus nos, principes orbis terrarum gentiumque omnium, ut cum dignitate potius cadamus quam cum ignominia serviamus. Nihil est detestabilius dedecore, nihil foedius servitute. Ad decus et ad libertatem nati sumus: aut haec teneamus aut cum dignitate moriamur.

Nimium diu teximus quid sentiremus; nunc iam apertum est. Omnes patefaciunt in utramque partem quid sentiant, quid velint. Sunt impii cives—pro caritate rei publicae nimium multi, sed contra multitudinem bene sentientium admodum pauci…

Oil painting on canvas, An Ideal Classical Landscape with Cicero and Friends, by Jacob More (Edinburgh 1740 ? Rome 1793), signed and dated: Rome, 1780.