Politics, Ancient and Modern: Men See Wealth as an Indicator of Wisdom (Euripides, fr. 327)

Thus fragment from Euripides’ lost Danae speaks to some of the less pleasant truths about modern politics (and attests to some rather ancient continuities).

“Truly, men love to take the words
Of wealthy men as wisdom, and yet when
Some poor man from a lesser house speaks well
They laugh. But I have often noticed
That poor men are wiser than the rich
And that those who make small offerings to the gods
Are more pious than those who slaughter bulls.”

φιλοῦσι γάρ τοι τῶν μὲν ὀλβίων βροτοὶ
σοφοὺς τίθεσθαι τοὺς λόγους, ὅταν δέ τις
λειτῶν ἀπ’ οἴκων εὖ λέγῃ πένης ἀνήρ,
γελᾶν· ἐγὼ δὲ πολλάκις σοφωτέρους
πένητας ἄνδρας εἰσορῶ τῶν πλουσίων
καὶ <τοὺς> θεοῖσι μικρὰ θύοντας τέλη
τῶν βουθυτούντων ὄντας εὐσεβεστέρους.