Unmasking Characters In Power

Plutarch, Life of Sulla 30 5.10

“It is understandable that he brought a prejudice on the highest offices in the land, which would no longer allow people to return the characters they started with, but instead could make them mean, boastful, and inhumane. Whether this is a movement or a change of nature because of chance or it is an unmasking of the truth when there is evil in authority, some other investigation will discover.”

εἰκότως προσετρίψατο ταῖς μεγάλαις ἐξουσίαις διαβολὴν ὡς τὰ ἤθη μένειν οὐκ ἐώσαις ἐπὶ τῶν ἐξ ἀρχῆς τρόπων, ἀλλ’ ἔμπληκτα καὶ χαῦνα καὶ ἀπάνθρωπα ποιούσαις.  τοῦτο μὲν οὖν εἴτε κίνησίς ἐστι καὶ μεταβολὴ φύσεως ὑπὸ τύχης, εἴτε μᾶλλον ὑποκειμένης ἀποκάλυψις ἐν ἐξουσίᾳ κακίας, ἑτέρα τις ἂν διορίσειε πραγματεία.

ἀποκαλύπτειν, [anakaluptein] “to unveil, uncover,” perhaps, “unmask”; “to disclose or uncover one’s mind”

ἀποκάλυψις, ἡ [apokalupsis]: “a revelation, disclosure, making known of a fault”, perhaps “unmasking”

From Wikimedia Commons

4 Years of Presidential Memories: “What Should Seem True Cannot”

Euripides, fr. 439 (Full text on the Scaife Viewer)

“Alas! I wish facts had a voice for people
So that clever speakers would be nothing.
Now instead men with turning tongues steal away
The truest things: and what should seem true cannot.”

φεῦ φεῦ, τὸ μὴ τὰ πράγματ’ ἀνθρώποις ἔχειν
φωνήν, ἵν’ ἦσαν μηδὲν οἱ δεινοὶ λέγειν.
νῦν δ’ εὐτρόχοισι στόμασι τἀληθέστατα
κλέπτουσιν, ὥστε μὴ δοκεῖν ἃ χρὴ δοκεῖν

Image result for Theseus Ancient Greek

This is from Euripides’ lost Hippolytus Veiled, a play in which the deception of Theseus results in the death of his son. His words sound idealist and almost noble, but as the story goes his wife Phaedra lies about sexual advances from her stepson Hippolytus and Theseus curses him. One of Theseus’ interlocutors replies (fr. 440):

“Theseus, I advise you that this is best, if you think through it:
Don’t ever believe that you hear the truth from a woman.”

Θησεῦ, παραινῶ σοὶ τὸ λῷστον, εἰ φρονεῖς,
γυναικὶ πείθου μηδὲ τἀληθῆ κλύων.

Nope. Not very nice, Euripides.

Police and the Unjust State

Demosthenes, Against Timocrates 164 (See the Scaife Viewer for the full text)

“These men have committed so much horror beyond their own criminal behavior that even while running a so-called democracy they turned each person’s house into a prison and put the police in our homes.”

οὗτοι τοίνυν τοσαύτην ὑπερβολὴν ἐποιήσαντο ἐκείνων τῆς αὑτῶν πονηρίας ὥστ᾿ ἐν δημοκρατίᾳ πολιτευόμενοι τὴν ἰδίαν οἰκίαν ἑκάστῳ δεσμωτήριον καθίστασαν, τοὺς ἕνδεκ᾿ ἄγοντες ἐπὶ τὰς οἰκίας.

 

W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk 9

“For such dealing with criminals, white or black, the South had no machinery, no adequate jails or reformatories; its police system was arranged to deal with blacks alone, and tacitly assumed that every white man was ipso facto a member of that police. Thus grew up a double system of justice, which erred on the white side by undue leniency and the practical immunity of red-handed criminals, and erred on the black side by undue severity, injustice, and lack of discrimination.”

 

Juvenal, Satires

“Who will police the police?”

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Cicero: A Liar Will Probably Commit Perjury Too

Cicero, Pro Quinctui Roscio 16

“Still,” he said, “Cluvius told Lucius and Manilius he was not on sworn oath.” If he told them while sworn in, would you believe? What is the difference between a perjurer and a liar? A man who is accustomed to lying, can get used to committing perjury.

I can easily get a man to perjure himself once I am able to persuade him to lie. For once someone has departed from the truth, he is not in the habit of being constrained by greater belief from perjury than from lying. For what man who is not moved by the force of his own conscience is moved by invocation of the gods?

The reason for this is that the gods dispense the same penalty for the perjurer and the liar. The gods become enraged and punish a man not for the institution which frames the swearing of the words but because of the evil and the malice that these traps are set for another person.”

XVI. “Dicit enim,” inquit, “iniuratus Luscio et Manilio.” Si diceret iuratus, crederes? At quid interest inter periurum et mendacem? Qui mentiri solet, peierare consuevit. Quem ego, ut mentiatur, inducere possum, ut peieret, exorare facile potero. Nam qui semel a veritate deflexit, hic non maiore religione ad periurium quam ad mendacium perduci consuevit. Quis enim deprecatione deorum, non conscientiae fide commovetur? Propterea, quae poena ab dis immortalibus periuro, haec eadem mendaci constituta est; non enim ex pactione verborum, quibus ius iurandum comprehenditur, sed ex perfidia et malitia, per quam insidiae tenduntur alicui, di immortales hominibus irasci et suscensere consuerunt.

Image result for medieval manuscript perjury
Sinon. Augustine, La Cit de Dieu, Books I-X. Paris, Ma tre Franois (illuminator); c. 1475-1480.

“The Leaders have Changed”: Theognis, Just Like Us

Theognis, Elegies 39–52

“Kyrnos, this city is pregnant and I am afraid she will bear a man
Meant to correct our evil arrogance.
The citizens are still sane, but the leaders have changed
And have fallen into great evil.

Good people, Kyrnos, have never yet destroyed a city,
But whenever it pleases wicked men to commit outrage,
They corrupt the people and issue legal judgment in favor of the unjust,
For the sake of their own private profit and power.

Don’t expect this city to stay peaceful for very long
Even if it is not at a moment of great peace now,
When these deeds are dear to evil men,
As their profit accrues with public harm.

Civil conflicts and murder of kin comes from this,
And tyrants do too: may this never bring our city pleasure.”

Κύρνε, κύει πόλις ἥδε, δέδοικα δὲ μὴ τέκηι ἄνδρα
εὐθυντῆρα κακῆς ὕβριος ἡμετέρης.
ἀστοὶ μὲν γὰρ ἔθ’ οἵδε σαόφρονες, ἡγεμόνες δέ
τετράφαται πολλὴν εἰς κακότητα πεσεῖν.
οὐδεμίαν πω, Κύρν’, ἀγαθοὶ πόλιν ὤλεσαν ἄνδρες,
ἀλλ’ ὅταν ὑβρίζειν τοῖσι κακοῖσιν ἅδηι
δῆμόν τε φθείρουσι δίκας τ’ ἀδίκοισι διδοῦσιν
οἰκείων κερδέων εἵνεκα καὶ κράτεος·
ἔλπεο μὴ δηρὸν κείνην πόλιν ἀτρεμέ’ ἧσθαι,
μηδ’ εἰ νῦν κεῖται πολλῆι ἐν ἡσυχίηι,
εὖτ’ ἂν τοῖσι κακοῖσι φίλ’ ἀνδράσι ταῦτα γένηται,
κέρδεα δημοσίωι σὺν κακῶι ἐρχόμενα.
ἐκ τῶν γὰρ στάσιές τε καὶ ἔμφυλοι φόνοι ἀνδρῶν·
μούναρχοι δὲ πόλει μήποτε τῆιδε ἅδοι.

Image result for ancient greece megara ruins

Police and the Unjust State

Demosthenes, Against Timocrates 164 (See the Scaife Viewer for the full text)

“These men have committed so much horror beyond their own criminal behavior that even while running a so-called democracy they turned each person’s house into a prison and put the police in our homes.”

οὗτοι τοίνυν τοσαύτην ὑπερβολὴν ἐποιήσαντο ἐκείνων τῆς αὑτῶν πονηρίας ὥστ᾿ ἐν δημοκρατίᾳ πολιτευόμενοι τὴν ἰδίαν οἰκίαν ἑκάστῳ δεσμωτήριον καθίστασαν, τοὺς ἕνδεκ᾿ ἄγοντες ἐπὶ τὰς οἰκίας.

 

W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk 9

“For such dealing with criminals, white or black, the South had no machinery, no adequate jails or reformatories; its police system was arranged to deal with blacks alone, and tacitly assumed that every white man was ipso facto a member of that police. Thus grew up a double system of justice, which erred on the white side by undue leniency and the practical immunity of red-handed criminals, and erred on the black side by undue severity, injustice, and lack of discrimination.”

 

Juvenal, Satires

“Who will police the police?”

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

The Five Categories of the Soul

Here’s a recent piece on Greek concepts of the truth from The Conversation. It is part of a series developed with WBUR’s On Point, called “In Search of Truth” (here’s the first episode)

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1139b

“Let’s discuss about these matters, starting from a deeper point. Let it stand that the soul has five categories in which to establish or deny the truth: these are skill, knowledge, prudence, wisdom, and intelligence. The mind is likely to deceive itself through supposition or opinion.”

Ἀρξάμενοι οὖν ἄνωθεν περὶ αὐτῶν πάλιν λέγωμεν. ἔστω δὴ οἷς ἀληθεύει ἡ ψυχὴ τῷ καταφάναι ἢ ἀποφάναι πέντε τὸν ἀριθμόν· ταῦτα δ᾿ ἐστὶ τέχνη, ἐπιστήμη, φρόνησις, σοφία, νοῦς· ὑπολήψει γὰρ καὶ δόξῃ ἐνδέχεται διαψεύδεσθαι.

Aristotle, On the Soul 404a

“Thus Anaxagoras also said that the soul makes movement—along with the rest who argued that the soul moved everything—but not exactly the same way as Democritus. For Democritus simply said that the soul and mind are the same and that truth is as things appear [subjective]. For this reason, he thinks that Homer described well when he has “Hektor lying there thinking differently”. He does not use the word “mind” [noos] as the power for discerning the truth, but he says that the soul and the mind are the same.”

Ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Ἀναξαγόρας ψυχὴν εἶναι λέγει τὴν κινοῦσαν, καὶ εἴ τις ἄλλος εἴρηκεν ὡς τὸ πᾶν ἐκίνησε νοῦς, οὐ μὴν παντελῶς γ᾿ ὥσπερ Δημόκριτος. ἐκεῖνος μὲν γὰρ ἁπλῶς ταὐτὸν ψυχὴν καὶ νοῦν· τὸ γὰρ ἀληθὲς εἶναι τὸ φαινόμενον· διὸ καλῶς ποιῆσαι τὸν Ὅμηρον ὡς “Ἕκτωρ κεῖτ᾿ ἀλλοφρονέων.” οὐ δὴ χρῆται τῷ νῷ ὡς δυνάμει τινὶ περὶ τὴν ἀλήθειαν, ἀλλὰ ταὐτὸ λέγει ψυχὴν καὶ νοῦν.

“Aristotle” by Justus van Gent (1476)

Lies About Etymology and Etymological Lies

Here’s a recent piece on Greek concepts of the truth from The Conversation. It is part of a series developed with WBUR’s On Point, called “In Search of Truth” ( the first episode).

Plato, Cratylus 421b

“It seems that the word onoma [name] is made up from a phrase which means that “this is what we happen to be searching for, the word”. You can recognize this very thing better when we say onomaston, for this clearly reflects that it is about “that which is search” [hon hou masma estin].

Truth [alêtheia] is similar to the rest in this: for the divine movement of existnence seems to be expressed by this utterance—a-lê-theia—as if it were divine wandering, theia – ousa – alê. But pseudos—fallacy—is the opposite of movement. For, in turn, when something is criticized and is held back and is compelled to be silent, then it is like people who are asleep, or those who kath – eudousi. The psi which is added to the beginning of the word hides the true meaning of the name.

 Ἔοικε τοίνυν ἐκ λόγου ὀνόματι συγκεκροτημένῳ, λέγοντος ὅτι τοῦτ᾿ ἔστιν ὄν, οὗ τυγχάνει ζήτημα ὄν, τὸ ὄνομα. μᾶλλον δὲ ἂν αὐτὸ γνοίης ἐν ᾧ λέγομεν τὸ ὀνομαστόν· ἐνταῦθα γὰρ σαφῶς λέγει τοῦτο εἶναι ὂν οὗ μάσμα ἐστίν. ἡ δ᾿ ἀλήθεια, καὶ τοῦτο τοῖς ἄλλοις ἔοικε· ἡ γὰρ θεία τοῦ ὄντος φορὰ ἔοικε προσειρῆσθαι τούτῳ τῷ ῥήματι, τῇ ἀληθείᾳ, ὡς θεία οὖσα ἄλη. τὸ δὲ ψεῦδος τοὐναντίον τῇ φορᾷ· πάλιν γὰρ αὖ λοιδορούμενον ἥκει τὸ ἰσχόμενον καὶ τὸ ἀναγκαζόμενον ἡσυχάζειν, ἀπείκασται δὲ τοῖς καθεύδουσι· τὸ ψῖ δὲ προσγενόμενον ἐπικρύπτει τὴν βούλησιν τοῦ ὀνόματος·

Plato, Cratylus 421d

“Say that if we do not recognize a word then it is foreign in origin. This is perhaps mostly true for some of them, and it may be impossible to discover the first words because of their antiquity. For this reason it would not at all be surprising, when words are twisted in every which way, if a really ancient Greek word would be no different from a current foreign one.”

Φάναι, ὃ ἂν μὴ γιγνώσκωμεν, βαρβαρικόν τι τοῦτ᾿ εἶναι. εἴη μὲν οὖν ἴσως ἄν τι τῇ ἀληθείᾳ καὶ τοιοῦτον αὐτῶν, εἴη δὲ κἂν ὑπὸ παλαιότητος τὰ πρῶτα τῶν ὀνομάτων ἀνεύρετα εἶναι· διὰ γὰρ τὸ πανταχῇ στρέφεσθαι τὰ ὀνόματα οὐδὲν θαυμαστὸν ἂν εἴη, εἰ ἡ παλαιὰ φωνὴ πρὸς τὴν νυνὶ βαρβαρικῆς μηδὲν διαφέρει.

Plato and Socrates

The Truth Beyond Mortal Minds

Here’s a recent piece on Greek concepts of the truth from The Conversation. It is part of a series developed with WBUR’s On Point, called “In Search of Truth” (here’s the first episode)

Stobaeus 2.1.1

“Concerning those who interpret divine matters, the truth of these thoughts in reality is beyond comprehension for mortals.”

Περὶ τῶν τὰ θεῖα ἑρμηνευόντων, καὶ ὡς εἴη ἀνθρώποις ἀκατάληπτος ἡ τῶν νοητῶν κατὰ τὴν οὐσίαν ἀλήθεια.

Plato, Timaeus 71e-72a

“In remembering the missive of their father, those who made us when he ordered them to make a mortal race as good as they were able, purified the base part of us in such a way by establishing the power of divination so that we might approach the truth. A sufficient sign that god granted the power of divination to balance human foolishness is this: no one approaches inspired and true divination when they are in their right mind but only when his intelligence is compromised in sleep or sickness or set aside by some divine possession.

Instead, when someone is rational they need to reconsider and remember what was said in a dream or vision under the influence of divination and the nature of divine inspiration, to analyze however many visions were seen and to use reason to figure out what they mean for good or for ill in the future, the past, or the present. It is not the job of someone who is in a manic state still to judge what is seen or what they said. It was well insisted in ancient times that to know one’s own matters and one’s self is proper only to the rational mind.”

Μεμνημένοι γὰρ τῆς τοῦ πατρὸς ἐπιστολῆς οἱ ξυστήσαντες ἡμᾶς, ὅτε τὸ θνητὸν ἐπέστελλε γένος ὡς ἄριστον εἰς δύναμιν ποιεῖν, οὕτω δὴ κατορθοῦντες καὶ τὸ φαῦλον ἡμῶν, ἵνα ἀληθείας πῃ προσάπτοιτο, κατέστησαν ἐν τούτῳ τὸ μαντεῖον. ἱκανὸν δὲ σημεῖον ὡς μαντικὴν ἀφροσύνῃ θεὸς ἀνθρωπίνῃ δέδωκεν· οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἔννους ἐφάπτεται μαντικῆς ἐνθέου καὶ ἀληθοῦς, ἀλλ᾿ ἢ καθ᾿ ὕπνον τὴν τῆς φρονήσεως πεδηθεὶς δύναμιν ἢ διὰ νόσον ἢ διά τινα ἐνθουσιασμὸν παραλλάξας. ἀλλὰ ξυννοῆσαι μὲν ἔμφρονος τά τε ῥηθέντα ἀναμνησθέντα ὄναρ ἢ ὕπαρ ὑπὸ τῆς μαντικῆς τε καὶ ἐνθουσιαστικῆς φύσεως, καὶ ὅσα ἂν φαντάσματα ὀφθῇ, πάντα λογισμῷ διελέσθαι, ὅπῃ τι σημαίνει καὶ ὅτῳ μέλλοντος ἢ παρελθόντος ἢ παρόντος κακοῦ ἢ ἀγαθοῦ· τοῦ δὲ μανέντος ἔτι τε ἐν τούτῳ μένοντος οὐκ ἔργον τὰ φανέντα καὶ φωνηθέντα ὑφ᾿ ἑαυτοῦ κρίνειν, ἀλλ᾿ εὖ καὶ πάλαι λέγεται τὸ πράττειν καὶ γνῶναι τά τε αὑτοῦ καὶ ἑαυτὸν σώφρονι μόνῳ προσήκειν.

Porphyry, Ad Marcella 24

“Let four elements rule chiefly when it comes to god: belief, truth, desire, and hope. For it is right to believe that the only safety is cleaving to god and having faith that must be eager to learn the truth about him and knowing how to desire what is known and once desired to nourish the mind on good hopes throughout your life. For good people supersede base ones thanks to good hopes. Hence, let these elements and this many rule.”

Τέσσαρα στοιχεῖα μάλιστα κεκρατύνθω περὶ θεοῦ· πίστις, ἀλήθεια, ἔρως, ἐλπίς. πιστεῦσαι γὰρ δεῖ ὅτι μόνη σωτηρία ἡ πρὸς τὸν θεὸν ἐπιστροφή, καὶ πιστεύσαντα ὡς ἔνι μάλιστα σπουδάσαι τἀληθῆ γνῶναι περὶ αὐτοῦ, καὶ γνόντα ἐρασθῆναι τοῦ γνωσθέντος, ἐρασθέντα δὲ ἐλπίσιν ἀγαθαῖς τρέφειν τὴν ψυχὴν διὰ τοῦ βίου. ἐλπίσι γὰρ ἀγαθαῖς οἱ ἀγαθοὶ τῶν φαύλων ὑπερέχουσι. στοιχεῖα μὲν οὖν ταῦτα καὶ τοσαῦτα κεκρατύνθω.

Iamblichus, Protrepticus 42.2

“If a human being, then, is some kind of a simple creature and its essence is structured according to reason and thought, then it has no other work than the most precise truth alone and telling the truth about reality. But if a human being is a composite of many abilities, it is clear that it will function because it is created from more, always it is the best of these actions, for instance the health of a doctor or the preservation provided by a ship’s captain.”

εἰ μὲν οὖν ἁπλοῦν τι ζῷόν ἐστιν ὁ ἄνθρωπος καὶ κατὰ λόγον καὶ νοῦν τέτακται αὐτοῦ ἡ οὐσία, οὐκ ἄλλο ἐστὶν αὐτοῦ ἔργον ἢ μόνη ἡ ἀκριβεστάτη ἀλή-
θεια καὶ τὸ περὶ τῶν ὄντων ἀληθεύειν· εἰ δ’ ἐστὶν ἐκ πλειόνων δυνάμεων συμπεφυκός, δῆλόν ἐστιν ὡς ἀφ’ οὗ πλείω πέφυκεν ἀποτελεῖσθαι, ἀεὶ τούτων τὸ βέλτιστον ἔργον ἐστίν, οἷον ἰατρικοῦ ὑγεία καὶ κυβερνήτου σωτηρία. βέλτιον δὲ οὐδὲν ἔχομεν λέγειν ἔργον

The Delphic Priestess, Romeyn de Hooghe, 1687