And the more they laid hold on reason the more they laid aside their self-opinion and conceit

From Plutarch’s How a Man May Became Aware of his Progress in Virtue (vol. 1 of the Loeb Moralia)

Just as persons who are being initiated into the Mysteries throng together at the outset amid tumult and shouting, and jostle against one another, but when the holy rites are being performed and disclosed the people are immediately attentive in awe and silence, so too at the beginning of philosophy: about its portals also you will see great tumult and talking and boldness, as some boorishly and violently try to jostle their way towards the repute it bestows: but he who has succeeded in getting inside, and has seen a great light, as though a shrine were opened, adopts another bearing of silence and amazement, and “humble and orderly attends upon” reason as upon a god. To these the humorous remark of Menedemus may, as it seems, be nicely applied; for he said that the multitudes who came to Athens to school were, at the outset, wise; later they became lovers of wisdom, later still orators, and, as time went on, just ordinary persons, and the more they laid hold on reason the more they laid aside their self-opinion and conceit.

ὥσπερ γὰρ οἱ τελούμενοι κατ᾿ ἀρχὰς μὲν ἐν θορύβῳ καὶ βοῇ συνίασι πρὸς Eἀλλήλους ὠθούμενοι, δρωμένων δὲ καὶ δεικνυμένων τῶν ἱερῶν προσέχουσιν ἤδη μετὰ φόβου καὶ σιωπῆς, οὕτω καὶ φιλοσοφίας ἐν ἀρχῇ καὶ περὶ θύρας πολὺν θόρυβον ὄψει καὶ λαλιὰν καὶ θρασύτητα, ὠθουμένων πρὸς τὴν δόξαν ἐνίων ἀγροίκως τε καὶ βιαίως· ὁ δ᾿ ἐντὸς γενόμενος καὶ μέγα φῶς ἰδών, οἷον ἀνακτόρων ἀνοιγομένων, ἕτερον λαβὼν σχῆμα καὶ σιωπὴν καὶ θαμβος ὥσπερ θεῷ τῷ λόγῳ “ταπεινὸς συνέπεται καὶ κεκοσμημένος.” εἰς δὲ τούτους ἔοικε καὶ τὸ Μενεδήμῳ πεπαιγμένον καλῶς λέγεσθαι· καταπλεῖν γὰρ ἔφη τοὺς πολλοὺς ἐπὶ σχολὴν Ἀθήναζε, σοφοὺς τὸ πρῶτον, εἶτα γίγνεσθαι φιλοσόφους, εἶτα ῥήτορας, τοῦ χρόνου δὲ προϊόντος ἰδιώτας, ὅσῳ μᾶλλον ἅπτονται τοῦ λόγου, μᾶλλον τὸ οἴημα καὶ τὸν τῦφον κατατιθεμένους.

For the greater the acquisition from philosophy is, the more annoyance there is in being cut off from it

From Plutarch’s How a Man May Become Aware of his Progress in Virtue – volume 1 of the Loeb Moralia (pg 409).

 If therefore you follow the advice given by the god in the oracle, to “fight the Cirrhaeans all days and all nights,” and are conscious that you likewise in the daytime and the nighttime have always carried on an unrelenting warfare against vice, or at least that you have not often relaxed your vigilance nor constantly granted admission to divers pleasures, recreations, and pastimes, which are, as it were, envoys sent by vice to treat for a truce, it is then quite probable that you may go on with good courage and confidence to what still remains.

However, even though it be that intermissions occur in one’s philosophical studies, yet if the later periods of study are more constant and long-continued than they were earlier, this is no slight indication that the spirit of indifference is being expelled through industry and practice; but there is something pernicious in the opposite condition, when numerous and continued set-backs occur after no long time, as if the spirit of eagerness were withering away. We may compare a reed, the growth of which at its beginning has a very great impetus, which results in an even and continuous length, at first in long sections, since it meets with few obstacles and repulses, but later, as though for lack of breath as it gets higher up, it grows weak and weary, and is gathered up in the many frequent nodules, when the life-giving spirit meets with buffets and shocks; so with philosophy, those who at the outset engage in long excursions into its realms and later meet with a long series of obstacles and distractions without becoming aware of any change toward the better, finally get wearied out, and give up. But a man of the other type “is again given wings” by the help he gets as he is carried onward, and by the strength and eagerness born of successful accomplishment brushes aside pretences as though they were a hindering crowd in his path. In the same way that an indication of the beginning of love is to be found, not in the taking delight in the presence of the loved one (for this is usual), but in feeling a sting of pain when separated; just so are many allured by philosophy and seem to take hold of the task of learning with high aspirations, but if they are forced by other business and occupations to leave it, all that excitement of theirs subsides and they no longer care. But he in whose heart the prick of youthful love is planted may appear to you moderate and mild while present at philosophical discussions; but when he is separated and apart from them, behold him ardent and troubled, and dissatisfied with all business and occupations, and, cherishing the mere recollection, he is driven about like an irrational being by his yearning towards philosophy. For we ought not to enjoy being present at discussions as we enjoy the presence of perfumes, and then when we are removed from them not seek after them or even feel uneasy; but we ought in our periods of separation to experience a sensation akin in a way to hunger and thirst, and so be led to cleave to what makes for real progress, whether it chance to be a wedding or wealth or the duties of friendship or military service that causes the temporary parting. For the greater the acquisition from philosophy is, the more annoyance there is in being cut off from it.

ἂν οὖν κατὰ τὸν δοθέντα χρησμὸν ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ “Κιρραίοις πάντ᾿ ἤματα καὶ πάσας νύκτας πολεμεῖν” οὕτω συνειδῇς σεαυτὸν ἡμέρας τε καὶ νύκτωρ ἀεὶ τῇ κακίᾳ διαμεμαχημένον, ἢ μὴ πολλάκις γε τὴν φρουρὰν ἀνεικότα μηδὲ συνεχῶς παρ᾿ αὐτῆς οἱονεὶ κήρυκας ἡδονάς τινας ἢ ῥᾳστώνας ἢ ἀσχολίας ἐπὶ σπονδαῖς προσδεδεγμένον, εἰκότως ἂν εὐθαρσὴς καὶ πρόθυμος βαδίζοις ἐπὶ τὸ λειπόμενον.

Οὐ μὴν ἀλλὰ κἂν ᾖ διαλείμματα γιγνόμενα τοῦ φιλοσοφεῖν, τὰ δ᾿ ὕστερα τῶν πρότερον ἑδραιότερα καὶ μακρότερα, σημεῖον οὐ φαῦλόν ἐστιν ἐκθλιβομένης πόνῳ καὶ ἀσκήσει τῆς ῥᾳθυμίας· τὸ δ᾿ ἐναντίον πονηρόν, αἱ μετ᾿ οὐ πολὺν χρόνον πολλαὶ καὶ συνεχεῖς ἀνακοπαί, τῆς προθυμίας οἷον ἀπομαραινομένης. ὡς γὰρ ἡ τοῦ καλάμου βλάστησις, 77ὁρμὴν ἔχουσα πλείστην ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς εἰς μῆκος ὁμαλὸν καὶ συνεχές, τὸ πρῶτον ἐν διαστήμασι μεγάλοις ὀλίγας λαμβάνουσα προσκρούσεις καὶ ἀντικοπάς, εῖθ᾿ οἷον ὑπ᾿ ἄσθματος ἄνω δι᾿ ἀσθένειαν ἀπαγορεύουσα πολλοῖς ἐνίσχεται καὶ πυκνοῖς τοῖς γόνασι, τοῦ πνεύματος πληγὰς καὶ τρόμους λαμβάνοντος, οὕτως ὅσοι τὸ πρῶτον μεγάλαις ἐκδρομαῖς ἐχρήσαντο πρὸς φιλοσοφίαν, εἶτα πολλὰ καὶ συνεχῆ προσκρούματα καὶ διασπάσματα λαμβάνουσι μηδενὸς Bδιαφόρου πρὸς τὸ βέλτιον ἐπαισθανόμενοι, τελευτῶντες ἐξέκαμον καὶ ἀπηγόρευσαν. “τῷ δ᾿ αὖτε πτερὰ γίγνετο” δι᾿ ὠφέλειαν φερομένῳ καὶ διακόπτοντι τὰς προφάσεις ὥσπερ ὄχλον ἐμποδὼν ὄντα ῥώμῃ καὶ προθυμίᾳ τῆς ἀνύσεως. καθάπερ οὖν ἔρωτος ἀρχομένου σημεῖόν ἐστιν οὐ τὸ χαίρειν τῷ καλῷ παρόντι (τοῦτο γὰρ κοινόν) ἀλλὰ τὸ δάκνεσθαι καὶ ἀλγεῖν ἀποσπώμενον, οὕτως ἄγονται μὲν ὑπὸ φιλοσοφίας πολλοὶ καὶ σφόδρα γε φιλοτίμως ἀντιλαμβάνεσθαι τοῦ μανθάνειν δοκοῦσιν, ἂν δ᾿ ἀπελαθῶσι ὑπὸ πραγμάτων ἄλλων καὶ ἀσχολιῶν, ἐξερρύη τὸ πάθος αὐτῶν ἐκεῖνο, καὶ ῥᾳδίως φέρουσιν.

ὅτῳ δ᾿ ἔρωτος δῆγμα παιδικῶν

πρόσεστι, μέτριος μὲν ἄν σοι φανείη καὶ πρᾶος ἐν τῷ παρεῖναι καὶ συμφιλοσοφεῖν ὅταν δ᾿ ἀποσπασθῇ καὶ χωρὶς γένηται, θεῶ φλεγόμενον καὶ ἀδημονοῦντα καὶ δυσκολαίνοντα πᾶσι πράγμασι καὶ ἀσχολίαις, μνήμην δὲ φιλῶν ὧσπερ ἄλογος ἐλαύνεται πόθῳ τῷ πρὸς φιλοσοφίαν. οὐ γὰρ δεῖ τοῖς λογοις εὐφραίνεσθαι μὲν παρόντας ὥσπερ τοῖς μύροις, ἀποστάντας δὲ μὴ ζητεῖν μηδ᾿ ἀσχάλλειν, ἀλλὰ πείνῃ τινὶ καὶ δίψῃ πάθος ὅμοιον ἐν τοῖς ἀποσπασμοῖς πάσχοντας ἔχεσθαι τοῦ προκόπτοντος ἀληθῶς, ἄν τε γάμος ἄν τε πλοῦτος ἄν τε φιλία τις ἄν τε στρατεία Dπροσπεσοῦσα ποιήσῃ τὸν χωρισμόν. ὅσῳ γὰρ πλέον ἐστὶ τὸ προσειλημμένον ἐκ φιλοσοφίας, τοσούτῳ πλέον ἐνοχλεῖ τὸ ἀπολειπόμενον.

Onions, hair, and fish – a conversation with Jupiter.

From Plutarch’s life of Numa (ch. 15, pg. 358 of the Loeb vol. 1 of Lives) and below another version from Ovid’s Fasti (3.330, also in the Loeb edition). Found via a side remark in George Dumezil’s Mitra-Varuna.

But nothing can be so strange as what is told about [Numa’s] conversation with Jupiter … Some, however, say that it was not the imps themselves who imparted the charm [of onions, hair, and little fish against thunder and lightning], but that they called Jupiter down from heaven by their magic, and that this deity angrily told Numa that he must charm thunder and lightning with “heads.” “Of onions?” asked Numa, filling out the phrase. “Of men,” said Jupiter. Thereupon Numa, trying once more to avert the horror of the prescription, asked, “with hair?” “Nay,” answered Jupiter, “with living—” “fish?” added Numa, as he had been taught by Egeria to say. Then the god returned to heaven in a gracious mood,—“hileos,” as the Greeks say,—and the place was called Ilicium from this circumstance; and that is the way the charm was perfected.

πᾶσαν δὲ ὑπερβέβληκεν ἀτοπίαν τὸ ὑπὲρ τῆς τοῦ Διὸς ὁμιλίας ἱστορούμενον. μυθολογοῦσι γὰρ εἰς τὸν Ἀβεντῖνον λόφον οὔπω μέρος ὄντα τῆς πόλεως οὐδὲ συνοικούμενον, ἀλλ᾿ ἔχοντα πηγάς τε δαψιλεῖς ἐν αὑτῷ καὶ νάπας σκιεράς, φοιτᾶν δύο δαίμονας, Πῖκον καὶ Φαῦνον· οὓς τὰ μὲν ἄλλα Σατύρων ἄν τις ἢ Πανῶν γένει προσεικάσειε, δυνάμει δὲ φαρμάκων καὶ δεινότητι τῆς περὶ τὰ θεῖα γοητείας λέγονται ταὐτὰ τοῖς … ἔνιοι δὲ οὐ τοὺς δαίμονάς φασιν ὑποθέσθαι τὸν καθαρμόν, ἀλλ᾿ ἐκείνους μὲν καταγαγεῖν τὸν Δία μαγεύσαντας, τὸν δὲ θεὸν ὀργιζόμενον τῷ Νομᾷ προστάσσειν ὡς χρὴ γενέσθαι τὸν καθαρμὸν κεφαλαῖς· ὑπολαβόντος δὲ τοῦ Νομᾶ, “κρομμύων;” εἰπεῖν, “ἀνθρώπων·” τὸν δὲ αὖθις ἐκτρέποντα τὸ τοῦ προστάγματος δεινὸν ἐπερέσθαι, “θριξίν;” ἀποκριναμένου δὲ τοῦ Διός, “ἐμψύχοις,” ἐπαγαγεῖν τὸν Νομᾶν, “μαινίσι;” ταῦτα λέγειν ὑπὸ τῆς Ἠγερίας δεδιδαγμένον. καὶ τὸν μὲν θεὸν ἀπελθεῖν ἵλεω γενόμενον, τὸν δὲ τόπον Ἰλίκιον ἀπ᾿ ἐκείνου προσαγορευθῆναι καὶ τὸν καθαρμὸν οὕτω συντελεῖσθαι.

And Ovid:

Sure it is the tops of the Aventine trees did quiver, and the earth sank down under the weight of Jupiter. The king’s heart throbbed, the blood shrank from his whole body, and his bristling hair stood stiff. When he came to himself, “King and father of the high gods,” he said, “vouchsafe expiations sure for thunderbolts, if with pure hands we have touched thine offerings, and if for that which now we ask a pious tongue doth pray.” The god granted his prayer, but hid the truth in sayings dark and tortuous, and alarmed the man by an ambiguous utterance. “Cut off the head,” said he.a The king answered him, “We will obey. We’ll cut an onion, dug up in my garden.” The god added, “A man’s.” “Thou shalt get,” said the other, “his hair.” The god demanded a life, and Numa answered him, “A fish’s life.” The god laughed and said, “See to it that by these things thou dost expiate my bolts, Ο man whom none may keep from converse with the gods!

constat Aventinae tremuisse cacumina silvae,
terraque subsedit pondere pressa Iovis.
corda micant regis, totoque e corpore sanguis
fugit, et hirsutae deriguere comae.
ut rediit animus, “da certa piamina” dixit
“fulminis, altorum rexque paterque deum,
si tua contigimus manibus donaria puris,
hoc quoque, quod petitur, si pia lingua rogat.”
adnuit oranti, sed verum ambage remota
abdidit et dubio terruit ore virum.
“caede caput” dixit: cui rex “parebimus,” inquit
“caedenda est hortis eruta cepa meis.”
addidit hic “hominis”: “sumes” ait ille “capillos.”
postulat hic animam, cui Numa “piscis” ait.
risit et “his” inquit “facito mea tela procures,
o vir conloquio non abigende deum.

Those who search for gold dig up much earth and find little

A motto here of my endless reading – Clement of Alexandria, quoting Heraclitus in his Stromata (4.4.2, via Loeb’s Early Greek Philosophy v.3 pg.161):

Those who search for gold dig up much earth and find little.
χρυσὸν γὰρ οἱ διζήμενοι γῆν πολλὴν ὀρύσσουσι καὶ εὑρίσκουσιν ὀλίγον.

possibly to be connected – for verb choice – with a brief quote from Plutarch’s Adversus Colotem (20.1118C, and Loeb pg. 159)

I searched for myself.
ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν.

and – though the Loeb editors put it in a different section (pg 189) – with this from Diogenes Laertius (9.7):

He who travels on every road would not find out the limits of the soul in the course of walking: so deep is its account
ψυχῆς πείρατα ἰὼν οὐκ ἂν ἐξεύροι ὁ πᾶσαν ἐπιπορευόμενος ὁδόν· οὕτω βαθὺν λόγον ἔχει.

Nothing in Comparison to Parmenon’s Pig

Erasmus’ Adagia 10

 Nothing in Comparison to Parmenon’s Pig

Said about imitation which in great degree falls short of what it imitates.  Plutarch in his Symposiacs, in the second problem of the fifth decade, explains how this adage came about:  There was a certain Parmenon, a man of that sort who even in our time imitate and recreate animal sounds and human voices so skillfully that – though only to listeners, not to those watching – the voices seem real and not imitations.  There is no lack of people whom this skill delights to the greatest degree.  Accordingly, Parmenon is thought to have been most agreeable and famous among the common people because of this skill.  When others tried to imitate him everyone would immediately say, “Εὖ μέν, ἀλλ᾽ οὐδὲν πρὸς τὴν Παρμένοντος ὗν” or “Good certainly, but nothing compared to Parmenon’s pig.”

[But then] someone came forward carrying a genuine pig under his arms.  When the people heard the pig’s voice they believed it an imitation and, as they always did, they at once shouted, “Τί οὖν αὕτη πρὸς τὴν Παρμένοντος – Well, what is that compared to Parmenon’s?”  When the genuine pig was brought out and shown about openly, it refuted their judgment, inasmuch as it was formed not in accord with the true situation but through their imagination.  [Plutarch] likewise mentions Parmenon and his counterfeit pig in his commentary On Listening to the Poets.

Not inopportune is the use of this adage whenever someone, deceived in his opinion about a thing, judges it incorrectly.  Like if someone admires an unrefined and new-fashioned epigram persuaded that is is ancient.   Or again if someone condemns as modern something ancient and refined.  So strong is this type of imagination that it burdens even the most learned men in their judgment.


Οὐδὲν πρὸς τήν Παρμένοντος ὗν, id est Nihil ad Parmenonis suem. De aemula-
tione dictum, quae longo interuallo abesset ab eo quod imitaretur. Plutarchus
in Symposiacis, quintae decadis secundo problemate, quo pacto natum sit
adagium narrat ad hanc ferme sententiam: Parmeno quispiam fuit ex homi-
num eorum genere, qui nostris etiam temporibus varias animantium et
hominum voces ita scite imitantur ac repraesentant, vt audientibus tantum,
non etiam videntibus verae, non imitatae voces videantur. Neque desunt quos
hoc artificium maiorem in modum delectet. Parmenon igitur hac arte vulgo vt
iucundissimus ita etiam celeberrimus fuisse perhibetur; quem cum reliqui
conarentur aemulari ac protinus ab omnibus diceretur illud: Εὖ μέν, ἀλλ᾽ οὐδὲν
πρὸς τὴν Παρμένοντος ὗν, hoc est Recte quidem, verum nihil ad Parmenonis suem,
quidam prodiit veram suculam sub alis occultatam gestans. Huius vocem cum
populus imitaticiam esse crederet statimque, sicut solent, reclamarent: Τί οὖν
αὕτη πρὸς τὴν Παρμένοντος; id est Quid haec ad Parmenonis suem? vera sue
deprompta ac propalam ostensa refellit illorum iudicium, vtpote non ex vero
sed ex imaginatione profectum. Meminit idem Parmenonis ac suis
adumbratae in commentariis De audiendis poetis. Nec intempestiuiter
vtemur hoc adagio, quoties aliquis opinione deceptus de re perperam iudicat.
Veluti si quis epigramma parum eruditum ac neotericum supra modum
admiraretur persuasus antiquum esse. Rursum, si quod antiquum esset et
eruditum, ceu nuperum damnaret. Tantum enim valet haec imaginatio, vt
eruditissimis etiam viris in iudicando imponat.

I continue to find Erasmus’ Latin very brusque next to classical.

One should sow with the hand, not with the whole sack

From Plutarch’s De Gloria Atheniensium (4.347F):

 “Corinna warned Pindar, who was still young and prided himself on his eloquence, that he was unpoetic for not telling myths, which are the proper business of poetry, but that he supported his works with unusual words, strange usages, paraphrases, songs, and rhythms, which are just embellishments of the subject matter. So Pindar, taking her words to heart, composed that famous poem, ‘Shall it be Ismenus . . . ?’ When he showed it to her, she laughed and said that one should sow with the hand, not with the whole sack.”

ἡ δὲ Κόριννα τὸν Πίνδαρον, ὄντα νέον ἔτι καὶ τῇ λογιότητι σοβαρῶς χρώμενον, ἐνουθέτησεν ὡς ἄμουσον ὄντα καὶ μὴ ποιοῦντα μύθους, ὃ τῆς ποιητικῆς ἔργον εἶναι συμβέβηκε, γλώττας δὲ καὶ καταχρήσεις καὶ μεταφράσεις καὶ μέλη καὶ ῥυθμοὺς ἡδύσματα τοῖς πράγμασιν ὑποτιθέντα. σφόδρ᾿ οὖν ὁ Πίνδαρος ἐπιστήσας τοῖς λεγομένοις ἐποίησεν ἐκεῖνο τὸ μέλος. δειξαμένου δὲ τῇ Κορίννῃ γελάσασα ἐκείνη τῇ χειρὶ δεῖν ἔφη σπείρειν, ἀλλὰ μὴ ὅλῳ τῷ θυλάκῳ

The line reference is preserved in Psuedo-Lucian’s In Praise of Demosthenes (or the Pindar Loeb v.2 pg. 232)

Shall it be Ismenus, or Melia of the golden spindle,
or Cadmus, or the holy race of the Spartoi,
or Thebe of the dark-blue fillet,
or the all-daring strength of Heracles,
or the wondrous honor of Dionysus,
or the marriage of white-armed Harmonia
that we shall hymn?

Ἰσμηνὸν ἢ χρυσαλάκατον Μελίαν
ἢ Κάδμον ἢ Σπαρτῶν ἱερὸν γένος ἀνδρῶν
ἢ τὰν κυανάμπυκα Θήβαν
ἢ τὸ πάντολμον σθένος Ἡρακλέος
5ἢ τὰν Διωνύσου πολυγαθέα τιμὰν
ἢ γάμον λευκωλένου Ἁρμονίας

βούλομαι γὰρ Ἀθηναίους τοῦτο λαλεῖν

From Plutarch’s Life of Alcibiades (9.1)

ὄντος δὲ κυνὸς αὐτῷ θαυμαστοῦ τὸ μέγεθος καὶ τὸ εἶδος, ὃν ἑβδομήκοντα μνῶν ἐωνημένος ἐτύγχανεν, ἀπέκοψε τὴν οὐρὰν πάγκαλον οὖσαν. ἐπιτιμώντων δὲ τῶν συνήθων καὶ λεγόντων ὅτι πάντες ἐπὶ τῷ κυνὶ δάκνονται καὶ λοιδοροῦσιν αὐτόν, ἐπιγελάσας, ‘γίνεται τοίνυν,’ εἶπεν, ‘ὃ βούλομαι: βούλομαι γὰρ Ἀθηναίους τοῦτο λαλεῖν, ἵνα μή τι χεῖρον περὶ ἐμοῦ λέγωσι.’

Possessing a dog of wonderful size and beauty, which had cost him seventy minas, he had its tail cut off, and a beautiful tail it was, too. His comrades chid him for this, and declared that everybody was furious about the dog and abusive of its owner. But Alcibiades burst out laughing and said: ‘That’s just what I want; I want Athens to talk about this, that it may say nothing worse about me.’

To talk philosophy without seeming to do so and by jests to accomplish the same as those who speak seriously

From Plutarch’s Sympotic Questions or Table-Talk (as the Loeb puts it) 613F-614A.  Translation is basically the Loeb, slightly revised.

In just such a manner a philosopher too, when with drinking-companions who are unwilling to listen to his homilies, will change his role, fall in with their mood, and not object to their activity so long as it does not transgress propriety. For he knows that, while men practise oratory only when they talk, they practise philosophy when they are silent, when they jest, even, by Zeus, when they are the butt of jokes and when they make fun of others. Indeed, not only is it true that ‘the worst injustice is to seem just when one is not,’ as Plato says, but also the height of understanding is to talk philosophy without seeming to do so, and by jests to accomplish the same as those who speak seriously. Just as the Maenads in Euripides, without shield and without sword, strike their attackers and wound them with their little thyrsoi, so true philosophers with their jokes and laughter somehow arouse men who are not altogether invulnerable and make them attentive.

οὕτω δὴ καὶ φιλόσοφος ἀνὴρ ἐν συμπόταις μὴ δεχομένοις τοὺς λόγους αὐτοῦ μεταθέμενος ἕψεται καὶ ἀγαπήσει τὴν ἐκείνων διατριβήν, ἐφ᾿ ὅσον μὴ ἐκβαίνει τὸ εὔσχημον, εἰδὼς ὅτι ῥητορεύουσι μὲν ἄνθρωποι διὰ λόγου, φιλοσοφοῦσι δὲ καὶ σιωπῶντες καὶ παίζοντες καὶ νὴ Δία σκωπτόμενοι καὶ σκώπτοντες. οὐ γὰρ μόνον ‘ἀδικίας ἐσχάτης ἐστίν,’ ὥς φησι Πλάτων, ‘μὴ ὄντα δίκαιον εἶναι δοκεῖν,’ ἀλλὰ καὶ συνέσεως ἄκρας φιλοσοφοῦντα μὴ δοκεῖν φιλοσοφεῖν καὶ παίζοντα διαπράττεσθαι τὰ τῶν σπουδαζόντων. ὡς γὰρ αἱ παρ᾿ Εὐριπίδῃ μαινάδες ἄνοπλοι καὶ ἀσίδηροι τοῖς θυρσαρίοις παίουσαι τοὺς ἐπιτιθεμένους τραυματίζουσιν, οὕτω τῶν ἀληθινῶν φιλοσόφων καὶ τὰ σκώμματα καὶ οἱ γέλωτες τοὺς μὴ παντελῶς ἀτρώτους κινοῦσιν ἁμωσγέπως καὶ συνεπιστρέφουσιν.


Ought to be condemned to keep company with Sisyphus and the Danaids

The concluding paragraph to Frank Cole Babbitt’s introductory essay to his Loeb edition of Plutarch’s Moralia:

The statement is not infrequently made in histories of Greek literature that Plutarch is the one Greek author whose work is improved by being translated.  Those who make or repeat this statement ought to be condemned to keep company with Sisyphus and the Danaids, and to spend their time in the futile attempt to demonstrate how such a statement can be true.

A breeze from a more civilized time.

So that we may acquire a habit of mind not σοφιστικὴν or ἱστορικὴν but ἐνδιάθετον and φιλόσοφον

Below is the conclusion to Plutarch’s On Listening.  The text and translation are from the Loeb edition – Moralia v.1 pg.259 – but I think the translation rather dilutes the point.

Finally, if there be need of any other instruction in regard to listening to a lecture, it is that it is necessary to keep in mind what has here been said, and to cultivate independent thinking along with our learning, so that we may acquire a habit of mind that is not sophistic or bent on acquiring mere information, but one that is deeply ingrained and philosophic, as we may do if we believe that right listening is the beginning of right living.

Εἰ δεῖ τινος οὖν πρὸς ἀκρόασιν ἑτέρου παραγγέλματος, δεῖ καὶ τοῦ νῦν εἰρημένου μνημονεύοντας ἀσκεῖν ἅμα τῇ μαθήσει τὴν εὕρεσιν, ἵνα μὴ σοφιστικὴν ἕξιν μηδ᾿ ἱστορικὴν ἀλλ᾿ ἐνδιάθετον καὶ φιλόσοφον λαμβάνωμεν, ἀρχὴν τοῦ καλῶς βιῶναι τὸ καλῶς ἀκοῦσαι νομίζοντες.

The bolded phrase could get 20+ pages of comparanda and discussion without coming any closer to a satisfying rendering.  My sense would be “so that we may acquire a mental disposition oriented not toward hair-splitting or pedantism but focused on our inner selves and in love with true wisdom.”  The directive, as I read it, is to avoid the distractions of externally-oriented mental activity – wasting energy on the squabbling style of sophists and the small-minded detail focus of data inquiry – and instead turn inward for more Platonic self-cultivation.

But – because it’s never good to be too sure  – here are the relevant LSJ entries (borrowed from Perseus) to offer confounding alternatives.

σοφισ-τικός , ήόν,

A.of or for a sophist, “βίος” Pl.Phdr.248eτὸ ςγένος the class of sophistsId.Sph.224c –κή (sc. τέχνηsophistry, ib.224d, al.

A.exact, precise, scientific, “μίμησις” Pl.Sph.267eτῶν παρὰ τοῖς ἄλλοιςεὑρημένων . well-informed respecting . . or able to recount . . Arist.Rh.1359b32; “ἀποδείξεις ἱστορικῶν” Phld.D.1.23. Adv. κῶς scientifically, accuratelyArist.GA757b35by personal observation, “κατ αμαθεῖν τιGal.14.275.
II. belonging to history, historical, “πραγματεῖαι” D.H.1.1τύπος (opp. λογικόςId.Dem.24; “ἀναγραφή” Id.1.4; “γράμματα” Plu.Them.13: Subst., historianArist. Po.1451b1, Aristeas 31Phld.Rh.1.200S.D.H.4.6D.S.1.6, etc.; “ώτατος βασιλέων” Plu.Sert.9. Adv. “κῶςκαὶδιδασκαλικῶς” Str. 1.1.10καὶ ἐξηγητικῶς, opp. ἀποδεικτικῶςPhld.Mus.p.12 K.; but ἐξηγητικώτερον  –ώτερον, of Aristotle’s method in HAAntig.Mir.60.

ἐνδιά-θετος , ον,

A.residing in the mind (ἐν τῇ διαθέσει, opp. ἐν τῇ προφορᾷPorph.Abst.3.3), λόγος conception, thought, opp. προφορικὸς λ. (expression), Stoic.2.43, etc.; of the immanent reason of the world, Ph.1.598ἕξις ib.36Plu.2.48d ἄνθρωποςthe inner man, Corp.Herm.13.7 (s. v. l.).
2. innate, “περιαυτολογία” Plu.2.44a: hence, unaffected, spontaneousHermog.Id.2.7τὸ . ib.1.11, al.
3. τὸ σὸν εἰς ἡμᾶς . your disposition towards us, PAmh.2.145.12(iv/v A. D.). Adv. τως λέγειν speak from the heartHermog.Id.2.7βοᾶν Sch.Arat.968εὔχεσθαι D.P. 739.
II. deep-seated, opp. “ἐπιπόλαιονἄλγημα” Gal.14.739.
2. Adv. fixedly, opp. προσκαίρωςSor.1.92.
A.lover of wisdom; Pythagoras called himself φιλόσοφος, not σοφός, Cic Tusc.5.3.9D.L.Prooem.12; “τὸν φσοφίαςφήσομεν ἐπιθυμητὴν εἶναι πάσης” Pl.R.475b, cf. Isoc.15.271; “ ὡς ἀληθῶς φ.” Pl.Phd.64e sq.; φφύσειτὴν φύσιν, Id.R.376cφτῇ ψυχῇ, opp. φιλόπονος τῷσώματι, Isoc.1.40: used of all men of education and learning, joined with φιλομαθής and φιλόλογος, Pl.R.376c582e; opp. σοφιστής, X.Cyn.13.6,9; later, academician, of the members of the Museum at Alexandria, OGI712 (ii A. D.), etc.
2. philosopher, i. e. one who speculates on truth and reality, οἱ ἀληθινοὶ φ., defined as οἱ τῆςἀληθείας φιλοθεάμονες, Pl.R.475eφιλόσοφος, of Aristotle, Plu.2.115b σκηνικὸςφ., of Euripides, Ath.13.561a; as the butt of Com., Philem.71.1Bato 5.11Anaxipp.4Phoenicid.4.16.
II. as Adj., loving knowledge, philosophic, “ἄνδρεςHeraclit.35; “ἀνήρ” Pl.Phd. 64d; “τὸ φγένοςId.R.501eφφύσις ib.494aψυχή ib.486bδιάνοιαib.527b; “πειθώ” Phld.Rh.1.269 S.σύνεσις ib.p.211S.(Comp.); “οἱ φιλοσοφώτατοι” Pl.R.498a, cf. IG5(1).598 (Sparta).
2. of arguments, sciences, etc., scientific, philosophic, “λόγοι” Pl.Phdr.257bλόγοι –ώτεροι, of instructive speeches, Isoc.12.271; “ώτερον ποίησις ἱστορίας” Arist.Po.1451b5τὸ φ., opp. τὸ θυμοειδές, as an element of the soul, Pl.R.411e, but = φιλοσοφίαPlu.2.355b.
3. ingenious, Ar.Ec.571 (hex.).
III. Adv. “φωςδιακεῖσθαι πρός τι” Isoc. 15.277; “φἔχειν περί τινος” Pl.Phd.91a, cf. Cic.Att.13.20.4, etc.; opp. ῥητορικῶς, Phld. Rh.2.134S.; Comp. “ωτέρως” Arist.Sens.436a20; “ώτερον” Cic.Att.7.8.3. [Ar. l. c. has the penult. long, nowhere else found in poetry.]