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(From "The Works and Days” in Hesiod, translated by Richard Lattimore,
University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1959)
MAN AND BEAST
(c. 800 B.C.)
Now I will tell you a fable for the barons;
they understand it.
high among the clouds.
gave her an answer:
Your master has you.
for all your singing.
I can eat you for dinner.
with the stronger.
will be hurt also."
on his long wings..
that I tell you,
all notions of violence.
for human beings;
of justice among them;
is proved the best thing
[From Fables of Aesop, according to Sir Roger L'Estrange, 1692]
A LARK IN A NET
(c. 620-560 B.C.)
A POOR lark enter'd into a miserable expostulation with a birdcatcher, that had taken her in his net, and was just about to put her to death. Alas (says she) what am I to dye for now? I am no thief; I have stoln neither gold, nor silver; but for making bold with one pityful grain of corn am I now to suffer.
'Tis to no purpose to stand reasoning where the adversary is both party
(From The Discourses and Sayings of Confucius, Translated by Ku Hung-Ming,
(c. 551-479 B.C.)
A disciple, the intrepid Chung Yu, said to Confucius on one occasion when the reigning prince of a certain State was negotiating for Confucius to enter his service: "The prince is waiting, sir, to entrust the government of the country to you. Now what do you consider the first thing to be done?”
"If I must begin,” answered Confucius, “I would begin by defining the names of things.'
“Oh! really,” replied the disciple,—"but you are too impractical. What has definition of names to do here?”
“Sir," replied Confucius, "you have really no manners. A gentleman, when he hears anything he does not understand, will always wait for an explanation.
"Now, if names of things are not properly defined, words will not correspond to facts. When words do not correspond to facts, it is impossible to perfect anything. Where it is impossible to perfect anything, the arts and institutions of civilisation cannot flourish. When the arts and institutions of civilisation cannot flourish, law and justice cannot attain their ends; and when law and justice do not attain their ends, the people will be at a loss to know what to do.
“Therefore a wise and good man can always specify whatever he names; whatever he can specify, he can carry out. A wise and good man makes it a point always to be exact in the words he uses."
[From Cumae and the Phlegraean Fields by G. Consoli Fiego, Mary A. Raiola,
THE TACTIC OF THE SIBYLLINE BOOKS
By G. Consoli Fiego It is narrated that an old woman, preserving her incognito, arrived in Rome in the fiftieth Olympiad and presenting herself to King Tarquin (the Proud, 534-510 B.C.) offered to sell to him for three hundred philippi of gold, nine books containing the oracles, or the destiny of the world. The king refused to pay a sum that seemed enormous. The woman burned three of the books in his presence and offered him the remaining volumes for the same price. When the king, unwon and still scornful, refused again, the woman calmly consigned another three books to the flames and renewed her offer under the same conditions. Whereupon, the king bewildered by such persistency, acquired the three last books for the price originally demanded and requested her moreover to rewrite the books that were burned. But the woman answered that she could not reproduce them nor could she even tell what they contained unless the god would inspire her.
[From Thucydides, The Peloponnesian Wars (Jowett Translation), Twayne
Publishers Inc., New York, 1963]
THE CORINTHIAN WARNING
(c. 471-400 B.C.) The Lacedæmonians themselves then proceeded to summon any of their allies or any one else who claimed to have been wronged by the Athenians and, calling their own ordinary assembly, told them to speak. Several of them came forward and brought charges; the Megarians alleged, among many other grounds of difference with Athens, that they were excluded from all harbors within the Athenian dominion and from the Athenian Agora, contrary to the treaty. The Corinthians waited until the other allies had stirred up the Lacedæmonians; at length they came forward and spoke somewhat as follows:
“The spirit of trust, Lacedæmonians, which animates your own political and social life, makes you distrustful of us when we bring charges against others; you derive from it your calmness of temper; yet it too often leaves you in ignorance of what is going on outside your own country. Time after time we have warned you of the harm which the Athenians would do to us; but instead of learning the truth of what we told you on each occasion, you chose rather to suspect that we spoke from interested motives. And this is the reason why you have brought the allies here to Sparta, not before, but after the injury has been inflicted. Which of them all has a better right to speak than ourselves, who have the heaviest accusations to make, outraged as we are by the Athenians and neglected by you. If the crimes which they are committing against Hellas were being done in a corner, then you