Key to Reading Unit 20

Main Index

Unit Key 19

Unit Key 21

Unit 20

1. When I die, let earth be mixed with fire.

2. No-one of men is himself wise in everything.

3. You spoiled the wine by pouring in water.

4. The gods sell us every boon (lit. all good things) at the price of labour(s).

5. Where there is violence the law has no strength.

6. It hangs by a hair.

7. And yet what is happening to me? Do I want to incur ridicule by letting my enemies go unpunished?

8. Then Xenophon saw (historic pres.) that the summit of the mountain was above their own army and that from it there was a way of approach to the hill where the enemy were, and he said (hist. pres.), ' Cheirisophus, it is best for us to rush as fast as possible to the top; for if we take it, those men above the road will not be able to remain [there]. But if you wish, stay in command of the army, and I am willing to set out; but, if you prefer, make for the mountain, and I will remain here.' (Xenophon, Anabasis 3.4.41).

9. The man who neglects the Muses when he is young is lost for the past and dead for the future.

10. The woman who is yoked in a second marriage is somehow a thing of enmity to her former children.

11. Even if a man dies his virtue does not perish, but lives on when the body no longer exists; but for evil men everything dies with them and is gone beneath the earth.

12. A good woman yoked in marriage prevents her husband [from] ruining his house and saves their home.

13. Time alone reveals a just man.

14. Among the Egyptians there existed a very peculiar law concerning thieves. It instructed those who wished to ply (lit. have) this trade to register themselves with the chief thief, and by agreement immediately to bring to him what had been stolen. [It]similarly [instructed] those who had lost [anything] to hand in an itemised (lit. according to each [item]) list to him of the missing [items], adding the place and the day and the hour at which [the person robbed] lost [his property]. In this way, since everything could be found easily, the person who had been robbed (lit. had lost) had to give one-fourth of the value [of the item stolen] and [thus] recover his own property [and that] alone. For since it was impossible to stop everyone from stealing, the legislator devised a means by which everything which had been stolen (lit. lost) would be recovered (lit. saved) by the payment of a small indemnity (lit. a small indemnity being given). (Diodorus Siculus 1.80)

15. I will speak out, mother, concealing nothing. I would go to the risings of the stars of the heavens and beneath the earth if I could do this, [viz] possess the greatest of divinities, Sovereignty (ὥστε need not be translated). So I have no desire, mother, to surrender this prize (lit. good thing) to another rather than keep it for myself. For it is cowardice when a man (lit. whoever) throws away the greater [advantage] and takes the lesser. Besides, I am ashamed that this man (i.e. this brother of mine) should come in arms and ravage the land and [so] achieve his desire; for this would be a disgrace to Thebes, if, through fear of Mycenean might, I were to yield my sceptre to this man to hold. He should not have [tried] to make a reconciliation with arms, mother; for discussion accomplishes everything which the steel of enemies can do. Yet, if he consents to live here on other terms (i.e. as a private citizen), he may; but I shall not willingly give up that [royal power]. (Euripides Phoenician Women 503-519)

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(c) Gavin Betts, Alan Henry 2001