A flame in his burning mouth can be suppressed more easily by a wise man than he can hold back witticisms

Another line from an unidentified tragedy of Ennius, reported by Cicero in De Oratore (2.221):

what is extremely difficult for funny and sharp-tongued men is to take account of people and circumstances and to forego opportunities that arise when something could be said most wittily. And so some humorous men explain this very point not inelegantly. For they say that Ennius says that “a flame in his burning mouth can be suppressed more easily by a wise man than he can hold back witticisms”…


quod est hominibus facetis et dicacibus difficillimum, habere hominum rationem et temporum et ea quae occurrant, cum salsissime dici possunt, tenere. itaque nonnulli ridiculi homines hoc ipsum non insulse interpretantur. dicere enim aiunt Ennium, “flammam a sapiente facilius ore in ardente opprimi, quam bona dicta teneat”…

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