previous next
and people think that the man who knows and minds his own business is prudent, and that politicians are busybodies: thus Euripides writes— “ Would that be prudent? when I might have lived
A quiet life, a cipher in the crowd,
Sharing the common fortune. . .
Restless, aspiring, busy men of action. . .

1 For people seek their own good, and suppose that it is right to do so. Hence this belief has caused the word ‘prudent’ to mean those who are wise in their own interest. Yet probably as a matter of fact a man cannot pursue his own welfare without Domestic Economy and even Politics. Moreover, even the proper conduct of one's own affairs is a difficult problem, and requires consideration. [5]

A further proof of what has been said2 is, that although the young may be experts in geometry and mathematics and similar branches of knowledge, we do not consider that a young man can have Prudence. The reason is that Prudence includes a knowledge of particular facts, and this is derived from experience, which a young man does not a possess; [6] for experience is the fruit of years.3 (One might indeed further enquire why it is that, though a boy may be a mathematician, he cannot be a metaphysician or a natural philosopher.4 Perhaps the answer is that Mathematics deals with abstractions, whereas the first principles of Metaphysics and Natural Philosophy are derived from experience: the young can only repeat them

1 From the lost Philoctetes of Euripides, frr. 785, 786 Dindorf. The third line went on ‘with the wisest. . . . For there is naught so foolish as a man! Restless, aspiring, busy men of action We honor and esteem as men of mark. . .’

2 The reference seems to be to 7.7, where it is stated that Prudence takes cognizance of particular facts. The intervening passage, examining the relation of Prudence to Political Science, emphasizes its other aspect, the apprehension of general principles.

3 The Greek looks like a buried verse quotation.

4 The three divisions of the subject matter of Wisdom.

load focus Greek (J. Bywater)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: