The Balance of Silence and Speech

These sayings come from the Gnomologium Vaticanum

 

58 “When Aristotle was asked what the most burdensome thing in life is he said “staying silent.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθείς, τί δυσκολώτατόν ἐστιν ἐν βίῳ, εἶπε· „τὸ σιωπᾶν”.

 

547 “Philoxenos said that peoples’ ears get worn out by a tongue for they are eager to tell people what they don’t know before listening well.”

Φιλόξενος ἔφησε τῶν ἀνθρώπων τὰς ἀκοὰς τῇ γλώσσῃ συντετρῆσθαι· πρὶν γὰρ ἢ καλῶς ἀκοῦσαι, σπουδάζειν αὐτοὺς ἅπερ οὐκ ἐπίστανται πρὸς ἄλλους λέγειν.

 

456 “Pittakos asked Bias “what is hardest in life?” And when he answered “to know yourself”, he asked again, “what is easiest?” And Bias said in response “to criticize someone else.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς Βίαντα ἠρώτησε· „τί δυσχερέστερον ἐν τῷ βίῳ”; τοῦ δὲ εἰπόντος· „τὸ ἑαυτὸν γνῶναι” πάλιν ἤρετο· „τί δὲ ῥᾴδιον”; καὶ πάλιν Βίας φησί· „τὸ ἕτερον ψέξαι”.

 

382 “[Kratês] the Cynic used to say that it is better to slip with your foot than your tongue.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἔφη κρεῖττον εἶναι τῷ ποδὶ ὀλισθῆσαι ἢ τῇ γλώττῃ.

 

219 “When Demosthenes was asked what kind of thing is the greatest weapon, he said “speech”.

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς ποῖον μέγιστον ὅπλον εἶπε· „λόγος”.

 

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Invisible Walls, Short Spears, and Shorter Speech: Some Sayings on Sparta

These sayings come from the Gnomologium Vaticanum

 

69 “When Agesilaos was asked by someone why Sparta was unwalled he said “don’t lie. It is walled not by stones but by its occupants’ excellence.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς ὑπό τινος, διὰ τί ἀτείχιστός ἐστιν ἡ Σπάρτη, „μὴ ψεύδου”, ἔφη, „τετείχισται γάρ, οὐ λίθοις, ἀλλὰ ταῖς τῶν <ἐνοικούντων ἀρεταῖς>”.

 

394 “When a Spartan man was asked why the Spartans have small spears he said “because they fight close to the enemy”

Λάκων ἀνὴρ ἐρωτώμενος διὰ τί οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι μικρὰ ἔχουσι τὰ ἐγχειρίδια εἶπεν· „ὅτι ἐγγύθεν τοῖς πολεμίοις μάχονται”.

 

396 “To someone asking why Spartans foster brevity of speech, a Spartan man said “because it is closest to silence”

Λάκων ἀνὴρ πρὸς τὸν εἰπόντα αὐτῷ· „διὰ τί οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι τὴν βραχυλογίαν ἀσκοῦσιν;” εἶπεν· „ὅτι ἔγγιστά ἐστι τοῦ σιωπᾶν”.

 

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The Benefits of Philosophy

These sayings come from the Gnomologium Vaticanum

 

36 “When [Aristippos] was asked what benefit had come to him from philosophy he said “being able to engage pleasantly with the people I meet.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθείς, τί αὐτῷ περιγέγονεν ἐκ φιλοσοφίας, ἔφη· „τὸ ἀδεῶς τοῖς ἐντυγχάνουσιν ὁμιλεῖν”.

 

162 “Biôn used to say that thought was the procurer of all good things but prudence is the master.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς τὴν μὲν φρόνησιν ἔφη παντοπώλιον εἶναι τῶν ἀγαθῶν, τὴν δὲ σωφροσύνην στρατουργίαν.

 

182 “When Diogenes was asked by Aristippos what benefit he gained from philosophy he said “Being wealthy without having a cent”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς ὑπὸ ᾿Αριστίππου τί αὐτῷ περιεγένετο ἐκ φιλοσοφίας εἶπε· „τὸ πλουτεῖν μηδὲ ὀβολὸν ἔχοντα.”

 

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Bad Witnesses: Some Apocryphal Sayings of Heraclitus

These sayings come from the Gnomologium Vaticanum

 

310 “Heraclitus the natural philosopher said that he was wisest of all when he was young because he didn’t think that he knew anything.”

῾Ηράκλειτος ὁ φυσικὸς ἔφησε σοφώτατος γεγονέναι πάντων νέος ὤν, ὅτι ᾔδει ἑαυτὸν μηδὲν εἰδότα.

 

311 “Heraclitus used to say “The ears and eyes of foolish people are terrible witnesses.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἔφη· „κακοὶ μάρτυρες ὦτα καὶ ὀφθαλμοὶ ἀφρόνων ἀνθρώπων”.

 

312 “Heraclitus used to say “Honors enslave gods and men”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἔφη· „τιμαὶ θεοὺς καὶ ἀνθρώπους καταδουλοῦνται”.

 

313 “Heraclitus said “people are terrible judges of the truth”

<῾Ο> αὐτὸς εἶπεν· „ἄνθρωποι κακοὶ ἀληθινῶν ἀντίδικοι”

 

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The Laws and the Soul of the State

These sayings come from the Gnomologium Vaticanum

 

112 “When Antagoras was about to cast a capital vote against someone he cried. Someone asked him “Why do you vote to condemn and cry?” He responded “It is necessary by nature to give our sympathy; the law demands my vote.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς καταδικάζειν τινὸς θανατικὴν ψῆφον μέλλων ἐδάκρυσεν· εἰπόντος δέ τινος· „τί παθὼν αὑτὸς καταδικάζεις καὶ κλαίεις”; εἶπεν· „ὅτι ἀναγκαῖόν ἐστι τῇ μὲν φύσει τὸ συμπαθὲς ἀποδοῦναι, τῷ δὲ νόμῳ τὴν ψῆφον.”

 

211 “Demosthenes used to say that the laws are the sinews of democracy”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἔφησε τοὺς νόμους δημοκρατίας νεῦρα.

 

229 “Demosthenes used to say that the laws are the soul of the state. “just as the body dies when bereft of the soul, so too the city perishes when there are no laws”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἔφη πόλεως εἶναι ψυχὴν τοὺς νόμους· „ὥσπερ δὲ σῷμα στερηθὲν ψυχῆς πίπτει, οὕτω καὶ πόλις μὴ ὄντων νόμων καταλύεται”.

 

443 “When asked how cities might be best inhabited, Plato said, “If philosophers are kings and kings practice philosophy.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς πῶς ἂν ἄριστα αἱ πόλεις οἰκοῖντο ἔφη· „εἰ φιλόσοφοι βασιλεύοιεν ἢ οἱ βασιλεῖς φιλοσοφοῖεν.”

 

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Money, Wealth and Greed

These sayings come from the Gnomologium Vaticanum

 

29 “He [Aristippos] said it was right to learn to live with a little so that we might do nothing shameful for money”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἔφη δεῖν ἐθίζειν ἀπὸ ὀλίγων ζῆν, ἵνα μηδὲν αἰσχρὸν χρημάτων ἕνεκεν πράττωμεν.

 

120 “Aristôn the philosopher used to say that wealthy people who are cheap are like mules who carry gold and silver but eat straw.”

᾿Αρίστων ὁ φιλόσοφος τοὺς πλουσίους καὶ φειδωλοὺς ὁμοίους ἔφησεν εἶναι τοῖς ἡμιόνοις, οἵτινες χρυσὸν καὶ ἄργυρον φέροντες χόρτον ἐσθίουσιν.

 

265 “Democritus used to say that greed is the mother-city of every wickedness”

Δημόκριτος τὴν φιλαργυρίαν ἔλεγε μητρόπολιν πάσης κακίας.

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Quipping with Diogenes

These sayings come from the Gnomologium Vaticanum

 

168 “Diogenes, after he saw a small city with big gates, said “Lock the gates so that the city can’t escape!”

Διογένης θεασάμενος μικρὰν πόλιν μεγάλας πύλας ἔχουσαν ἔφη· „κλείσατε τὰς πύλας, μὴ ἡ πόλις ἐξέλθῃ”.

 

189 “When [Diogenes] was asked what is evil in life, he said “A pretty woman.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἐρωτηθεὶς τί κακὸν ἐν βίῳ ἔφη· „γυνὴ καλὴ τῷ εἴδει”.

 

201 “[Diogenes] to say that he had everything that happened in the tragedies: for he was a beggar, a wanderer, and he had an ephemeral life.”

῾Ο αὐτὸς ἔφη πάντα ἔχειν τὰ ἐν ταῖς τραγῳδίαις· εἶναί τε γὰρ πτωχός, πλανήτης, βίον ἔχων ἐφήμερον·

Image result for ancient greek sleep Diogenes the Cynic