Iusta autem ab iniustis petere insipientia est

Some wordplay from Mercury’s prologue in Plautus’ Amphitruo (33-36).  Found in Democritus to His Reader in Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy.  The translation is from Wolfgang de Melo’s recent Loeb set of Plautus – and a much better one than others I’ve read (partly because he tosses meter for accuracy).

iustam rem et facilem esse oratam a uobis uolo,
nam iustae ab iustis iustus sum orator datus.
nam iniusta ab iustis impetrari non decet,
iusta autem ab iniustis petere insipientia est;


I want to ask you for a just and small favor: I was appointed as a just pleader pleading with the just for a just cause. For it wouldn’t be right to obtain what’s unjust from the just; but it would be stupidity to demand what’s just from the unjust.

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