Dating from the 6th century AD, Luxorius is one of the latest authors to have appeared on this blog. Here are his ‘couplets on the sayings of the seven wise men’.
Solon praecipuus, fertur qui natus Athenis,
finem prolixae dixit te cernere vitae.
Chilon, quem patria egregium Lacedaemona misit,
hoc prudenter ait te ipsum ut cognoscere possis.
ex Mitylenaeis fuerat qui Pittacus oris,
te, ne quid nimis ut cupias, exquirere dixit.
Thales ingenio sapiens Milesius acri
errorem in terris firmat non caelitus esse.
inde Prienaea Bias tellure creatus
plures esse malos divina voce probavit.
urbe Periander genitus, cui fama Corintho est,
omnia constituit tecum ut meditando revolvas.
Cleobulus, proprium clamat quem Lindia civem,
omne, inquit, magnum est quod mensura optima librat.
The distinguished Solon, who is reported to have been born in Athens, said that you should look to the end of a long life.
Chilon, the eminent man whom his homeland of Sparta sent forth, said this: that you can know yourself.
Pittacus, who was from the shores of Mitylene, said that you should seek to desire nothing in excess.
Thales, the Milesian wise man with a keen natural ability, declares that a mistake on earth is not down to the gods.
Then Bias, begotten in the land of Priene, showed, in his divine voice, that most people are evil.
Periander, born in the city that has the famous name of Corinth, decided that you can reflect on everything by meditating with yourself.
Cleobulus, whom Lindus claims as its own citizen, said ‘Everything is great which the best measuring keeps in balance.’
The writer of this is not Xenophon but an anonymous author now known affectionately as the ‘Old Oligarch’. Whether he was actually old is anyone’s guess… He doesn’t really approve of democracy:
περὶ δὲ τῆς Ἀθηναίων πολιτείας, ὅτι μὲν εἵλοντο τοῦτον τὸν τρόπον τῆς πολιτείας οὐκ ἐπαινῶ διὰ τόδε, ὅτι ταῦθ᾽ ἑλόμενοι εἵλοντο τοὺς πονηροὺς ἄμεινον πράττειν ἢ τοὺς χρηστούς· διὰ μὲν οὖν τοῦτο οὐκ ἐπαινῶ. ἐπεὶ δὲ ταῦτα ἔδοξεν οὕτως αὐτοῖς, ὡς εὖ διασῴζονται τὴν πολιτείαν καὶ τἆλλα διαπράττονται ἃ δοκοῦσιν ἁμαρτάνειν τοῖς ἄλλοις Ἕλλησι, τοῦτ᾽ ἀποδείξω.
And concerning the Athenians’ constitution, I do not think well of their having chosen this sort of constitution, because by making that choice they have chosen to let the common people do better than the good people. This is the reason why I do not praise it. But since they have made this decision for themselves, I shall show that they are preserving their constitution in a good way, and that they do accomplish those other things which the other Greeks think they are doing in the wrong way.
multas variasque res in hac vita nobis, Eustachi fili, natura conciliavit; sed nulla nos magis quam eorum qui e nobis essent procreati caritate devinxit, eamque nostram in his educandis atque erudiendis curam esse voluit, ut parentes neque, si id quod cuperent ex sententia cederet, tantum ulla alia ex re voluptatis, neque, si contra eveniret, tantum maeroris capere possent.
Many and various, Eustachius my son, are the affections with which nature has provided us, but she has bound us together by none greater than our love for those who are our offspring; she has wished us to have such care for their upbringing and education that parents can take no greater pleasure if what they desired goes according to plan – nor, if the opposite happens, can they suffer any greater sadness.
ὦ Δελφοί, λίσσεσθ’ ἀνέμους καὶ λώϊον ἔσται.
O Delphians, entreat the winds and it will be better.
The (hexameter) response of the Delphic oracle referred to at Herodotus 7.178.
A saying of Trajan.
amicis enim culpantibus quod nimium circa omnes communis esset, respondit talem se imperatorem esse privatis quales esse sibi imperatores privatus optasset.
When his friends found fault with him for being too affable with everyone, he replied that he was such an emperor towards private citizens as, when he had been a private citizen, he had wished for emperors to be towards him.
ἶσον ὅ τ᾽ ἀφνεὸς ἱ-
μείρει μεγάλων ὅ τε μείων
παυροτέρων· τὸ δὲ πάν-
των εὐμαρεῖν οὐδὲν γλυκὺ
θνατοῖσιν, ἀλλ’ αἰεὶ τὰ φεύ-
γοντα δίζηνται κιχεῖν.
The rich man longs for great things, and the poorer man for less. Yet there is nothing sweet for mortals in having abundance; instead they are always seeking to reach things that flee from them.
Sisyphus in vita quoque nobis ante oculos est,
qui petere a populo fasces saevasque secures
imbibit et semper victus tristisque recedit.
nam petere imperium, quod inanest nec datur umquam,
atque in eo semper durum sufferre laborem,
hoc est adverso nixantem trudere monte
saxum, quod tamen e summo iam vertice rusum
volvitur et plani raptim petit aequora campi.
Sisyphus is also before our eyes during our lives – he’s a man who resolves to seek from the populace the fasces and the savage axes, and who always withdraws defeated and dejected. For to seek power (which is an empty name and is never granted), and for that purpose always to bear with hard toil, is to lean on a rock and shove it up an adverse hill; but then it’s already rolling back from the highest peak and making hurriedly for the flat ground’s plain.