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Of γνῶμαι ‘maxims’, general sentiments of a moral character, which serve as enthymemes, and are therefore included here as introductory to the treatment of them, an account has been given, with reference to other writers on the same subject, in Introd. p. 257 seq., to which the reader is referred. Compare on this subject Harris, Philolog. Inq. Vol. IV. p. 182 seq. The author mainly follows Aristotle.

For examples of γνῶμαι see Brunck's Poetae Gnomici, passim: and Bergk, Poet. Lyr. Gr., Theognis, Phocylides, Solon, &c.


γνωμολογία, ‘the subject, or art of maxim-making’, occurs again, Pl. Phaedr. 267 C, as part of the contents of Polus' rhetorical repertory1. As to (the art of) maxim-making, we shall best arrive at a clear understanding of the objects, times, and persons, to which and at which the employment of it is most appropriate in our speeches, when it has been first stated what a maxim is.


‘A maxim is a declaration—not however of particulars or individuals, as, for instance, what sort of a person Iphicrates is, but universally (a general statement, an universal moral rule or principle)’. ἀπό- φανσις (ἀποφαίνειν) a ‘declaration’ or ‘utterance’. Here again we have in two MSS the varia lectio ἀπόφασις. See on this, note on I 8. 2. Comp. § 9, οἱ ἀγροῖκοι μάλιστα γνωμοτύποι εἰσὶ καὶ ῥᾳδίως ἀποφαίνονται, and § 16, διὰ τὸ ἀποφαίνεσθαι τὸν τὴν γνώμην λέγοντα...

ἀποφαίνεσθαι seems to have some special connexion with γνώμη in its ordinary signification as well as this technical application. See Heindorf on Gorg. § 48, p. 466 C. In several passages which the quotes the same verb is used for declaring a γνώμη, in the sense of opinion. [“So Protag. 336 D, τὴν ἑαυτοῦ γνώμην ἀποφαίνεσθαι; ib. 340 B.” Dr Thompson on Gorg. 1. c.]

‘And not of all universals, as, for example, that straight is opposed to crooked, but only of those which are concerned with (human) actions, and are to be chosen or avoided in respect of action.’ This concern with human action—πρᾶξις can only be predicated of human beings—gives the γνώμη its moral character. See, for instance, the beginning of the second chapter of Eth. Nic. II. Of actions it is said, 1104 a 31, αὗται γάρ: εἰσι κύριαι καὶ τοῦ ποιὰς γενέσθαι τὰς ἕξεις; they determine the moral character. And so frequently elsewhere. This moral character of the γνώμη however, though it undoubtedly predominates in the description and illustration of it through the remainder of the chapter, is not absolutely exclusive: the γνώμη may be applied likewise to all practical business of life, and all objects of human interest, as health in § 5; and πράξεις must be supposed virtually to include these. With this definition that of Auct. ad Heren. IV 17. 24 deserves to be compared: it is not so complete as Aristotle's, but may be regarded as supplementary to it: Sententia (i. e. γνώμη, which is also the term by which Quintilian expresses it, Inst. Orat. VIII 5) est oratio sumpta de vita, quae aut quid sit aut quid esse oporteat in vita breviter ostendit, hoc pacto; it is there illustrated to the end of the chapter. One useful precept for the guidance of the rhetorician in the employment of the γνώμη may be quoted here, especially as Aristotle has omitted it. Sententias interponi raro convenit, ut rei actores, non vivendi praeceptores videamur esse. γνῶμαι often take the form of ‘precepts’. Harris, u. s, p. 182.

‘And therefore since rhetorical enthymemes are as one may say’ (σχεδόν ‘pretty nearly’, that is, not absolutely, but generally, making allowance for some which are not concerned with the practical business of life—so Victorius) ‘the logical mode of reasoning or inference on these subjects (the business of life and human actions), when this syllogistic process is withdrawn (and the major premiss or conclusion is left alone), the conclusions and major premisses of enthymemes are γνῶμαι’. These premisses and conclusions taken by themselves are mere enunciations of some general principle: they do not become enthymemes, i. e. inferences or processes of reasoning, till the reason is added—sententia cum ratione, Quint. and Auct. ad Heren., Introd. p. 257—which is stated in the next sentence. Hanc quidem partem enthymematis quidam initium aut clausulam epichirematis esse dixerunt: et est aliquando, non tamen semper. Quint. VIII 5. 4 (de Sententiis, VIII 5. 1—8, q. v.).

‘For instance, “No man that is of sound mind ought ever to have his children over-educated to excess in learning,” (Eur. Med. 294). Now this is a maxim (moral precept, the conclusion of the enthymeme): but the addition of the reason, and the why (the αἰτία or cause) makes the whole an enthymeme, for example, “for besides the idle habits which they thereby contract to boot” (into the bargain—the comparative ἄλλος, other, in this common, but illogical use of the word, brings two heterogeneous things into illicit comparison: see [p. 46 supra and note on III 1. 9]) “they reap (gain as their reward) hostile jealousy from the citizens.” The ἀργία here is the literary indolence, or inactivity, the withdrawal from active life and the consequent neglect of their duties as citizens, into which they are led by their studious habits. This is what provokes the jealousy and hostility of the citizens. Plato's unpopularity at Athens was due to the same cause. Plato justifies himself against these charges of his enemies in four well known passages, in the Republic [VI 484—497], Theaetetus [172 C] and Gorgias [527]; and in the seventh Epistle, if that be his [see Introd. to Dr Thompson's ed. of the Gorgias, pp. xii—xiv].

These lines are put into the enthymematic form, as an argument, in § 7. It is a specimen of a practical syllogism, or enthymeme, logic applied to action or conduct. As a syllogism it would run thus: All ought to avoid, or no man should be rendered liable to, idle habits and the hatred of his fellow-citizens: children who are over-educated do become idle and unpopular; therefore children ought not to be overeducated.

‘And again, “There is no man who is altogether happy”’—Eur. Fragm. Sthenel. I (Dind., Wagn.). The reason, which converts it into an enthymeme, is supplied by Aristoph. Ran. 1217, γὰρ πεφυκὼς ἐσθλὸς οὐκ ἔχει βίον, δυσγενὴς ὤν, (he is here interrupted by Aeschylus who finishes the verse for him with ληκύθιον ἀπώλεσεν: but the Schol. supplies the conclusion,) πλουσίαν ἀροῖ πλάκα.

‘And another, “there is none of mankind that is free”’ is a γνώμη, but with the addition of the next verse (τῷ ἐχομένῳ ἔπει) it becomes an enthymeme, ‘“for he is the slave either of money or fortune.”’ From Eur. Hec. 864. Our texts have θνητῶν for ἀνδρῶν: doubtless it is one of Ar.'s ordinary slips of memory in quotation, and a very unimportant one. But I think as a general rule, it is quite unsafe to rely upon our author's quotations in correction of any reading in more ancient writers.


‘If then a γνώμη is what has been described, there must necessarily be four kinds of γνώμη: either with, or without, an appendage or supplement (containing the reason)’. It is first put forward independently as a γνώμη, and then, if it is not generally acceptable, and a reason is required, this is added, and it becomes an enthymeme.


‘Those that require proof (ἀπόδειξις ‘demonstration’, as before, used loosely for proof of any kind) are all such as state anything paradoxical (contrary to received opinion; or surprising, unexpected, contrary to expectation, and to anything that you ever heard before) or anything which is questioned (or open to question): those that have nothing unexpected about them (may be stated, λέγονται) without a supplement’. These together make up the four kinds.


The first two kinds are those which require no supplement. ‘Of these, some must require no supplement owing to their being already well known, as, “best of all is wealth for a man, at least in my opinion;” because most people think so’.

The line here quoted is of uncertain origin. There was a famous σκόλιον, drinking-song or catch, usually attributed to Simonides, which Athen., XV 694 E, has preserved amongst several that he there quotes; and it is also to be found in Bergk's Collection, Fragm. Lyr. Gr. Scolia, 13. It runs thus: ὑγιαίνειν μὲν ἄριστον ἀνδρὶ θνατῷ, δεύτερον δὲ καλὸν φύαν γενέσθαι, τὸ τρίτον δὲ πλουτεῖν ἀδόλως, καὶ τὸ τέταρτον ἡβᾷν μετὰ τῶν φίλων. This is repeated by Anaxandrides in some iambics of his Thesaurus, Fragm. I (Meineke, Fr. Comm. Gr. III 169), and quoted by Athen. immediately after the σκόλιον as a parallel or illustration. Anaxandrides does not know the author; τὸ σκόλιον εὑρὼν ἐκεῖνος, ὅστις ἦν. Plato has likewise quoted it in Gorg. 451 E, and elsewhere (see Stallbaum's note). The Scholiast on this passage says, τὸ σκόλιον τοῦτο οἱ μὲν Σιμωνίδου φασίν, οἱ δὲ Ἐπιχάρμου. On which Meineke, u. s., note, says ‘Nonne igitur pro ἡμῖν legendum ἐμίν, et ipse ille versus, ἀνδρὶ δ᾽ ὑγιαίνειν κ.τ.λ., Epicharmo tribuendus?’ The trochaic metre is doubtless in favour of this supposition, but that shews on the other hand that it could not have formed part of the scolion above quoted, which is in quite a different measure: and also, supposing it to be taken from that, it would be a most improbable and unmeaning repetition of the first line. If therefore Meineke is right in attributing it to Epicharmus, it must have belonged to another and independent scolion. Another scholium in Cramer, Anecd. Paris. on Ar. Rhet. has τὸἀνδρὶ δ᾽ ὑγιαίνειν ἄριστονΣιμωνίδου ἐστὶν ἀπὸ τῶν σκολιῶν αὐτοῦ ἐπῶν. οἳ δ̓ Ἐπιχάρμου. Meineke, u. s. Simonides at all events has something like it, οὐδὲ καλᾶς σοφίας χάρις, εἰ μή τις ἔχει σεμνὰν ὑγίειαν. This places health at the head of the list of goods: another distich, quoted in Ar. Eth. Nic. I 9, Eth. Eudem. init., as ‘the Delian inscription’ ἐπὶ τὸ προπύλαιον τοῦ Λητῴου (Eth. Eud.), Theogn. 255, and (in iambics) Soph. Fragm. Creus. (Stob. CIII 15, Dind. Fr. 326), places health second in the order, or rather, perhaps, leaves the question open. Ariphron of Sicyon (Athen. XV 702 A) wrote a hymn to Health, beginning ὑγίεια πρεσβίστα μακάρων; he also regards it as the greatest of all blessings, σέθεν δὲ χωρὶς οὔτις εὐδαίμων ἔφυ, line 8. See in Bergk, Fr. Lyr. Gr. p. 841 [p. 984, ed. 2]. Comp. Philem. Fr. Inc. 62, αἰτῶ δ᾽ ὑγίειαν πρῶτον, εἶτ̓ εὐπραξίαν κ.τ.λ.

‘Whereas others (the second kind, of division 1) (though previously unknown) are clear the very moment they are uttered, provided you pay attention to them,’ (or perhaps, ‘the moment you cast your eye upon them)’. Comp. Top. Γ 6, 120 a 32, 34; b 15 and 30, E 4, 132 a 27. ἐπίβλεψις Anal. Pr. I 29, 45 a 26, ἐπιβλέψεων Ib. V 17, προσεπιβλέπειν Ib. V 21 (from Waitz). Upon the whole I think the comparison of these passages is in favour of the former of the two interpretations: and so Victorius.

οἷον κ.τ.λ.] ‘as “no lover is inconstant in his affection.”’ Eur. Troad. 1051, quoted again, Eth. Eud. VII 2, 1235 b 21.


‘Of those which have the supplement (these are the two kinds of the second division), some are part of an enthymeme, as “no man of sound mind ought,” (the commencement of the verses of Euripides in § 2), and the rest have an enthymematic character, but are not part of an enthymeme: which (the latter) are in fact the most popular’. αἱ μὲν ἐνθυμήματος μέρος may be thought to be a careless expression, contradictory to the description of enthymeme in I 2. 13: since it is characteristic of the enthymeme that it omits at least one of the premisses (see on the enthymeme Introd. p. 104), and therefore a γνώμη with the reason appended represents a conclusion with one premiss, which is an enthymeme. The explanation seems to be that an enthymeme is an assumed syllogism: the inference which it draws rests upon the possibility of constructing a syllogism out of it: if that cannot be done, the inference is not valid. So that in one sense the enthymeme is a true and complete syllogism, in another, in so far as it expresses only one premiss, it may be called a part of it, and incomplete. And this serves to explain the statement of I 2. 13, τὸ δ᾽ ἐνθύμημα συλλογισμόν (i. e. a mode of syllogistic reasoning), καὶ ἐξ ὀλίγων τε καὶ πολλάκις ἐλαττόνων ἐξ ὧν πρῶτος συλλογισμός.

‘And all those have this (latter) character in which the reason of the (general) statement is made to appear, as in this, “mortal as thou art, guard, keep (cherish), not immortal anger;” for, to say “that a man ought not to keep his anger for ever” is a γνώμη; but the addition, “as a mortal” (because he is a mortal), states the (reason) why. And like it again is this, “Mortal thoughts” (or a mortal spirit—that is, one which confines its aims and aspirations within the limits of its mortal condition), “not immortal, become a mortal man.”’

The first of these two quotations is used by Bentley in his Dissertation on Phalaris, p. 247 [p. 229 ed. Wagner], and foll. He does not attempt to fix the authorship of it, but contents himself with saying “this, though the author of it be not named, was probably...borrowed from the stage,” p. 247, but afterwards, p. 249 [231], “and even that one (the verse in question) is very likely to be taken from the same place” (viz. Euripides). Subsequently, p. 262 [243], he speaks of it as from “a poet cited by Aristotle,” and “Aristotle's poet.” He quotes from Euripides' Philoctetes, Fragm. IX (Dind.), XII (Wagner), a parallel passage as having been borrowed by the author of Phalaris, ὥσπερ δὲ θνητὸν καὶ τὸ σῶμ᾽ ἡμῶν ἔφυ, οὕτω προσήκει μηδὲ τὴν ὀργὴν ἔχειν ἀθάνατον, ὅστις σωφρονεῖν ἐπίσταται. The same verse, with ἔχθραν for ὀργήν, occurs also in Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι, line 4, ap. Meineke Fragm. Comm. Gr. 340. Wagner, Incert. Trag. Fragm. p. 185, “Auctor versus, quisquis fuit, imitatus est Eurip. Fragm. 790 (sc. Philoct.);” and to this also he ascribes the γνώμη attributed to Menander, ἔχθραν being “sive calami errore, sive imitatione.”

The second verse, θνατὰ χρή κ.τ.λ., is ascribed by Bentley to Epicharmus; a supposition with which the dialect and metre agree. Müllach, Fragm. Philos. Gr. p. 144, Fr. Epicharm. line 260. This maxim is alluded to, but condemned, in the exulting description of perfect happiness, Eth. Nic. X 7, 1177 b 32, οὐ χρὴ δὲ κατὰ τοὺς παραινοῦντας ἀνθρώπινα φρονεῖν ἄνθρωπον ὄντα οὐδὲ θνητὰ τὸν θνητόν, ἀλλ᾽ ἐφ̓ ὅσον ἐνδέχεται ἀθανατίζειν κ.τ.λ. Buhle quotes Horace, Od. II 11. 11, quid aeternis minorem consiliis animum fatigas?

For the use of the article in τὸν θνητόν, indicating a member of a certain class, see notes on I 7. 13, II 4. 31.


‘It is plain then from what has been said, how many kinds of γνώμη there are, and on what sort of subject (or occasion) each of them is appropriate; for (when it pronounces) on things questionable or paradoxical (or unexpected, surprising, as before) the supplement must not be omitted (subaudi ἁρμόττει λέγειν); but either the supplement should come first, and then the conclusion (of the inference) be used as a γνώμη—as, for instance, if it were to be said (returning to the first example, § 2), “now for my own part, since we are bound neither to incur jealousy nor to be idle, I deny that they (children) ought to be educated”; or else, say this first, and then add the supplement (the reason)’.

τῶν ἀμφισβητουμένων παραδόξων κ.τ.λ.] “Ni enim ratio addatur, fidem non inveniet huiusmodi sententia. Melius esse iniuriam accipere quam inferre (this is the apparent paradox maintained by Socrates in Plato's Gorgias and Republic): supplicum misereri non oportere, et his similia qui audit reicit; at si rationes annectantur, haud dubie assentietur; nempe qui facit iniuriam semper improbus est, at qui patitur probus esse potest. Et misericordia intempestiva iustitiae solet esse adversa.” Schrader.

‘(When they are) about things, not unexpected, but obscure’ (not immediately intelligible. Understand δεῖ, ἁρμόττει, λέγειν αὐτάς), ‘you must add the (reason) why, as tersely as possible’. A popular audience is always impatient of long explanations, and long trains of reasoning; or enthymemes, II 22. 3; comp. I 2. 12, III 17.6. In assigning therefore the reason for the ambiguous or seemingly paradoxical γνώμη, we must express ourselves in the fewest possible words, as briefly and compactly as possible.

στρόγγυλος, ‘rounded’, ‘compact’ (as a ball), is properly applied to the periodic style—the period, περί-ὁδός, is in fact a kind of circle, “a sentence returning into itself,” Müller, Hist. Gr. Lit. [II 155]. Comp. Dionysius, de Lysia Jud. c. 6. συστρέφουσα (condenses, packs close) τὰ νοήματα καὶ στρογγύλως ἐκφέρουσα λέξις, “expresses them in a rounded, compact, terse form.” Arist. Σκηνὰς καταλαμβάνουσαι, Fragm. IV (Meineke, Fr. Comm. Gr. II 1142), of Euripides' neat, terse, well-rounded style, χρῶμαι γὰρ αὐτοῦ τοῦ στόματος τῷ στρογγύλῳ. So rotunde; Cic. de Fin. IV 3. 7, Ista ipsa, quae tu breviter,—a te quidem apte et rotunde: quippe habes enim a rhetoribus. Brut. LXVIII 272, rotunda constructio verborum. Orat. XIII 40, Thucydides praefractior nec satis, ut ita dicam, rotundus. Nizolius ad verbum, concinne, explicate, στρογγύλως. Ernesti, Clavis Cic. s. v.


‘In such cases (or on such subjects) Laconic utterances and enigmatical sayings are appropriate, as when one employs what Stesichorus said at Locri, that they had better not be so presumptuous, lest their cicales should be brought to chirp on the ground.’ Λακωνικὰ ἀποφθέγματα; pithy, sententious, utterances, which have become proverbial in our word ‘laconic’. Plutarch has made a collection of ‘Laconic Apophthegms’, from which it appears that they are usually of a character rather wise than witty—though there are also some extremely smart repartees in answer to impertinent questions or observations—pithy, pungent, pregnant, expressed with pointed brevity, which indeed is characteristic of them, and is also the ‘soul of wit’.

I will quote only one (a short one) as a specimen. Antalcidas: πρὸς δὲ τὸν ἀμαθεῖς καλοῦντα τοὺς Λακεδαιμονίους Ἀθηναῖον, μόνοι γοῦν, εἶπεν, ἡμεῖς οὐδὲν μεμαθήκαμεν παρ᾽ ὑμῶν κακόν. Quite true (says Ant.); we are deplorably ignorant—“At any rate we are the only people that have learnt no mischief from you.” The word is applied to two sayings of Theramenes, before his death, Xen. Hellen. II 3 ult. For a description of these Λακωνικὰ ἀποφθέγματα as pointed and pithy as the ῥήματα described, see Pl. Protag. 342 E [ἐνέβαλε ῥῆμα ἄξιον λόγου βραχὺ καὶ συνεστραμμένον ὥσπερ δεινὸς ἀκοντιστής].

αἰνιγματώδη] hard, obscure, ambiguous sayings, which like riddles require solution before they can be understood; like that pronounced by Stesichorus to check the presumptuous insolence of the Locrians: the solution of which is, that cicalas always sit in trees when they chirp. So that, οὐ γίνονται τέττιγες ὅπου μὴ δένδρα ἐστιν, Arist. Hist. An. V 30, 556 a 21 (the entire chapter is on τέττιγες). When the trees are gone, when they have been felled and the land ravaged, then it is that the cicalas will have to sing their song on the ground. This is what the insolence of the Locrians will bring them to. See Mure, Hist. Gr. Lit. (Stesichorus), III 248. He says, note 2, “Similar is our own popular proverb of ‘making the squirrels walk’, denoting a great fall of wood.” This is repeated nearly verbatim, III 11. 6. Demetrius, περὶ ἑρμηνείας (περὶ συνθέσεως ὀνομάτων) § 99 (Vol. III. p. 284, Spengel, Rhet. Gr.), attributes the saying to Dionysius, without telling us to whom it was said: and calls it an ἀλληγορία. And again, § 243, περὶ δεινότητος (III p. 315), οὕτω καὶ τὸ χαμόθεν οἱ τέττιγες ὑμῖν ᾄσονται δεινότερον ἀλληγορικῶς ῥηθέν, εἴπερ ἁπλῶς ἐῤῥήθη, τὰ δένδρα ὑμῶν ἐκκοπήσεται. The felling of the trees, especially the fruit trees, always accompanied the ravaging of a country in a hostile incursion. Hence δενδροτομεῖν Thuc. I 108, of Megara, comp. II 75. 1, IV 79. 2. Dem. de Cor. § 90 (in a Byzantian decree), καὶ τὰν χώραν δαίοντος καὶ δενδροκοπέοντος. [Dem. Or. 53 (Nicostr.) § 15, φυτευτήρια...κατέκλασεν, οὕτω δεινῶς ὡς οὐδ᾽ ἂν οἱ πολέμιοι διαθεῖεν].


‘The use of maxims, or sententious language, is appropriate in respect of age (time of life) to elders, and as to subjects, should be directed to those in which the speaker has experience; since for one who is not so far advanced in life to employ maxims is as unbecoming as story-telling (i. e. fables, legends, mythical stories), whilst to talk about things that one knows nothing of is a mark of folly and ignorance (or want of cultivation)’. On μυθολογεῖν Victorius says, “Fabellarum sane auditione delectantur pueri; non tamen ipsis fabulas fingere aut narrare congruit.” And this, because young people have as yet had little or no experience of life, and if they pronounce maxims and precepts at all, must do it of things of which they are ignorant: and this shews folly, as well as ignorance. So Quintilian, who supplies the reason for this precept: VIII 5. 8, ne passim (sententiae) et a quocunque dicantur. Magis enim decent eos in quibus est auctoritas, ut rei pondus etiam persona confirmet. Quis enim ferat puerum aut adolescentulum aut etiam ignobilem, si iudicat in dicendo et quodammodo praecipiat? “It has been said too they come most naturally from aged persons, because age may be supposed to have taught them experience. It must however be an experience suitable to their characters: an old general should not talk upon law, nor an old lawyer on war.” Harris, Philol. Inq. Works IV 186. The Justice in the ‘Seven Ages’ (As you like it [II 6. 156]), who is advanced in years, is full of wise saws and modern instances. ‘A sufficient indication (of the truth of what has just been said, viz. that it is only the simpleton, or the ignorant and uneducated, that pronounces maxims upon subjects of which he knows nothing), is the fact that rustics (clowns, boors) are especially given to maxim-coining, and ever ready to shew them off (exhibit them)’. This propensity to sententiousness, and the affectation of superior wisdom which it implies, characteristic of the ‘rustic’, has not escaped the observation of Shakespeare: whose numerous ‘clowns’ are all (I believe) addicted to this practice. Dogberry in Much ado about nothing—see in particular, Act III Sc. 5—the ‘fool’ in Lear I 4—‘Touchstone’ in As you like it, III 3 and ‘Costard’ in Love's labour's lost, throughout; are all cases in point.

ἀγροῖκος, country-bred, rustic, boor, clown, implying awkwardness and the absence of all cultivation and refinement of language, manner, mind, is opposed to ἀστεῖος which represents the opposite, city life, and city breeding, the city being the seat of refinement, cultivation personal and intellectual, civilisation and fashion; as rusticus to urbanus, and Country with its associations, to Town and its belongings, in our dramatists and light literature of the two last centuries, the echo of which has not quite died away.


‘Generalising, where there is no generality (stating a proposition or maxim universally which is only partially true), is most appropriate in complaint and exaggeration, and in these either at the commencement (of either of the two processes), or after the case has been made out (proved, ἀποδεικνύναι here again in a vague and general sense)’.

σχετλιασμός, “conquestio, h. e. ea pars orationis qua conquerimur et commoti sumus ex iniuria vel adversa fortuna’. Ernesti, Lex. Technologiae Graecae, s.v. Conquestio est oratio auditorum misericordiam captans, Cic. Inv. 155. 106, who gives a long account of it divided into 16 topics. This was the subject of Thrasymachus' treatise, the ἔλεοι (miserationes Cic. [Brutus § 82]), referred to by Arist., Rhet. III 1. 7; the contents are satirically described by Plat., Phaedr. 267 C. It was “a treatise, accompanied with examples, on the best modes of exciting compassion” (Thompson ad loc.). What follows, ὀργίσαι τε αὖ κ.τ.λ. describes the art of δείνωσις, which no doubt accompanied the σχετλιασμός in Thrasymachus' work. On Thrasymachus' ἔλεοι see Camb. Journ. of Cl. and Sacred Phil. Vol. III 274, No. 9. σχετλιασμός therefore is the act of complaining, or the art of exciting the compassion of the audience for the supposed sufferings of the speaker himself or his client by age, penury, distress, or wrong or injury from others: and its appropriate place is the ἐπίλογος, the peroration of the speech. See Rhet. III 19. 3.

δείνωσις is a second variety of the same κοινὸς τόπος, viz. αὔξησις and μείωσις, to which both of these are subordinate. There is in fact a natural connexion between the two: pity for the person wronged is usually accompanied by indignation against the wrong-doer. This is indignatio, of which Cicero treats de Inv. I 53. 100—54. 105. Indignatio est oratio per quam conficitur ut in aliquem hominem magnum odium aut in rem gravis offensio concitetur. The art of exciting indignation or odium against any person or thing, by exaggeration or intensification; vivid description heightening the enormity or atrocity of that against which you wish to rouse the indignation of the audience. “δείνωσις invidiae atque odii exaggeratio,” Ernesti, Lex. Techn. Gr. s. v. Quint. VI 2. 24, Haec est illa quae δείνωσις vocatur, rebus indignis asperis invidiosis addens vim oratio; qua virtute praeter alios plurimum Demosthenes valuit. Ib. VIII 3. 88, δείνωσις in exaggeranda indignitate. IX 2. 104, intendere crimen, quod est δείνωσις. Comp. Rhet. III 19. 3, on the ἐπίλογος.

Macrobius Saturn. IV 6 (ap. Ernesti u. s.), Oportet enim, ut oratio pathetica aut ad indignationem aut ad misericordiam dirigatur, quae a Graecis οἶκτος καὶ δείνωσις appellatur: horum alterum accusatori necessarium est, alterum reo; et necesse est initium abruptum habeat, quoniam satis indignanti leniter incipere non convenit.

The illicit generalisation above mentioned is one of the arts employed to heighten the two πάθη which are most serviceable to the orator, ἔλεος and ὀργή or νέμεσις by σχετλιασμός and δείνωσις. The first is well illustrated by Victorius from Catullus, Epith. Pel. et Thet. 143, the deserted Ariadne exclaims, Iam iam nulla viro iuranti femina credat, Nulla viri speret sermones esse fideles &c. (similarly Ovid, Fasti III 475, Nunc quoquenulla viroclamabofemina credat’) and Eur. Hec. 254, ἀχάριστον ὑμῶν σπέρμ᾽ ὅσοι δημηγόρους ζηλοῦτε τιμάς. This is a generalisation from the single case of Ulysses. Add Cymbeline, Act II 5. 1; Posthumus. Is there no way men to be, but women must be halfworkers? We are bastards all &c. and (already quoted in Introd.) Virg. Aen. IV 569, varium et mutabile semper femina; and Hamlet, Act I Sc. 2, [146], Frailty, thy name is woman. So οὐδὲν γειτονίας χαλεπώτερον § 15.


‘Maxims which are in everyone's mouth (notorious), and universally known, should be also employed if they are serviceable (when they are to the point): for the fact that they are universal (universally known and employed) being equivalent to an universal acknowledgment (of their truth), they are generally supposed to be right (true and sound)’.

τεθρυλημέναις καὶ κοιναῖς γνώμαις] Such are the sayings of the seven sages, and of the old gnomic poets in general, Theognis, Hesiod, Phocylides and the rest, which everybody remembers and repeats. θρυλεῖν is to repeat again and again, as ὑμνεῖν, decantare. Zonaras, συνεχῶς λέγειν. Suidas and Photius, λαλεῖν, κυκᾷν. (Hesych. θρυλλεῖ, ταράσσει, ὀχλεῖ. θρύλλοι, ψιθυρισμοί, ὁμιλίαι.) Arist. Eq. 348, τὴν νύκτα θρυλῶν καὶ λαλῶν ἐν ταῖς ὁδοῖς, of the sausage-monger, who after having made, as he thinks, a good speech, walks about the streets all night repeating it over and over again, and chattering. Eurip. El. 909, καὶ μὴν δἰ ὄρθρων γ᾽ οὔποτ̓ ἐξελίμπανον θρυλοῦς᾿, γ̓ εἰπεῖν ἤθελον. “She had long practised and considered her speech in the early dawn of the mornings.” Paley. For τεθρυλημέναις cf. also III 7. 9; 14. 4, ‘notorious’. Plat. Phaedo 65 B, 76 D. πολυθρύλητον, Ib. 100 B, Rep. VIII 566 B. Isocr. Panath. § 237, περὶ ἀντιδόσεως § 55, (λόγους) τοὺς πάλαι παρ᾽ ὑμῖν διατεθρυλημένους. Ast, Lex. Plat. decantare. May not θρύλλειν (so it is sometimes written) be an onomatopoeia from the sound of the harp, like θρεττανελό, Arist. Plut. 290; the notion of constant repetition, recurrences being derived from ‘harping’ perpetually on the same string, chorda qui semper oberrat eadem? [Horace, A. P. 356].

παρακαλοῦντι] lit. ‘to a man exhorting’; when Ar. wrote this dative he was most likely thinking of ἐὰν ὦσι χρήσιμοι, rather than of anything else; though it is extremely uncertain. ‘As for instance in an exhortation to make the adventure—run the risk of battle—without previous sacrifice’.

θυσαμένους] Schrader interprets litare, said of a sacrifice which propitiates the deity to whom it is offered. He may possibly mean that it is the use of the middle voice that gives it this sense ‘for themselves, for their own benefit’.

εἷς οἰωνός κ.τ.λ.] Hom. Il. XII 243 (Hector to Polydamas, who has threatened him with an evil omen). οἰωνός in the γνώμη has reference to the preceding θυσαμένους. Talk not to me of your omens (from sacrifice) says the officer, cheering on his men, who are disheartened by the absence of favourable omens; “One omen is best of all, to rally for our country's defence.” Pope, “And asks no omen but his country's cause.” Lord Derby, “The best of omens is our country's cause.” Applied by Cicero to his own public conduct and intentions, Ep. ad Attic. II 3. 3, ult. Schrader quotes Cic. Cato Maior, 3. 4, Q. Fabius Maximus, augur cum esset, dicere ausus est optimis auspiciis ea geri quae pro reipublicae salute gererentur: quae contra rempublicam fierent contra auspicia fieri.

‘And again an exhortation to run the risk (subaudi παρακαλοῦντι ἐπὶ τὸ κινδυνεύειν2) with inferior forces’; ξυνὸς Ἐνυάλιος, Il. XVIII 309. This again is from a speech of Hector, expressing his readiness to encounter Achilles. Οὔ μιν ἔγωγε φεύξομαι...ἀλλὰ μάλ᾽ ἄντην στήσομαι, κε φέρῃσι μέγα κράτος, κε φεροίμην. ξυνὸς Ἐνυάλιος, καί τε κτανέοντα κατέκτα. This passed into a proverb for ‘the equal chances of battle’. Archilochus, (Bergk, Fr. Lyr. Gr. No. 56, p. 479 [p. 550, ed. 2]), ἐτήτυμον γὰρ ξυνὸς ἀνθρώποις Ἄρης. Aesch. S. c. T. 409, ἔργον δ᾽ ἐν κύβοις Ἄρης κρινεῖ. Liv. XXVIII 19, In pugna et in acie, ubi Mars communis et victum saepe erigeret et affligeret victorem. Ib. V 12, XXI 1 (quoted by Trollope on the verse of Homer).

‘And an exhortation (und. as before) to destroy enemies' children even when innocent, “Childish is he, who first slays the father and then leaves the children behind.”’ This is a verse of Stasinus's Κύπρια, one of the Cyclic poems. It is ascribed to him by Clemens Alex. Strom. VI p. 747. Düntzer, Fragm. Epic. Gr. p. 16. See note on I 15. 14.


‘Some proverbs also are γνῶμαι; for example, “an Attic neighbour” is a proverb (and also may be used as a γνώμη)’. νήπιος ὅς κ.τ.λ. is quoted as a proverb in I 15. 14; here it is a γνώμη. It may be added to the list of Trench's ‘immoral proverbs’, On Proverbs, p. 82 seq.

On the παροιμία, its definition and character, see Erasmus, Adag. Introd.: and Trench, “on the lessons in Proverbs.”

What sort of neighbour an Attic neighbour was, may be best gathered from the description of the Athenian character drawn by the Corinthians, and contrasted with that of their Lacedaemonian rivals, in their speech at the Congress at Sparta. Thuc. I 70. The restless, excitable, intriguing spirit, the love of novelty and foreign adventure, the sanguine temper, quick wit, and daring audacity, therein described, must necessarily have made them the most troublesome and dangerous of neighbours; ever ready to interfere in their neighbours' affairs, and form schemes of aggrandisement at their neighbours' expense. Another proverb of the same kind is mentioned by Schrader as having been applied to the Franks, Francum amicum habeas, vicinum non habeas: it is found in Eginherd's Life of Charlemagne. Gibbon also refers to it, without naming his authority. In the 10th century at Constantinople, “a proverb, that the Franks were good friends and bad neighbours, was in every one's mouth.” Decline and Fall, ch. XLIX. Vol. IV. p. 509 (Murray, 1846).


‘Maxims may also be cited in opposition to, or in contradiction of, those that have become public property—by these I mean such as ‘know thyself’, ‘avoid excess’ (the maxims or adages of Solon and Chilon)—whenever one's character is likely to be put in a more favourable light (thereby), or the γνώμη has been pronounced in an excited state of feeling (by the opponent who is to be answered); of this ‘pathetic’ γνώμη an instance is, if for example a man in a fit of passion were to say that it is false that a man is bound to know himself, “this gentleman at any rate, if he knew himself, would never have claimed to be elected general.”’

Aristotle has said that there are two classes of cases in which a generally accepted or ‘universal’ maxim—such as Solon's γνῶθι σεαυτόν—may be contradicted with effect. One of these is, when the γνώμη itself, including the contradiction of it—as appears from the example— is uttered in a state of excited feeling, real or assumed, such as indignation. The example of this is a man in a fit of passion, ὀργιζόμενος, loudly asserting that Solon's universally accepted maxim, or the precept conveyed by it, is untrue, or at any rate liable to exception; for if so and so (some imaginary person) had had a true knowledge of himself (and his own incapacity) he never would have aspired to be a general: but he has done so, and succeeded in the attempt: and this success shews the falsity of the rule, as a prudential maxim, at any rate in this case; and also being undeserved provokes the indignation of the speaker. And it is to be observed that this success without merit is necessary to inspire the feeling, the existence of which is distinctly stated. The case is that of Cleon, Thuc. IV 27 seq. Victorius however understands it in a different sense. According to him the case is that of an Iphicrates, who raised himself from a low condition to the height of power and distinction; Rhet. I 7. 32, Ἰφικράτης αὑτὸν ἐνεκωμίαζε λέγων ἐξ ὧν ὑπῆρξε ταῦτα; I 9. 31, ἐξ οἵων εἰς οἷα, (τὸ τοῦ Ἰφικράτους); if Iphicrates had ‘known himself’, i. e. remembered his origin, he never could have entered upon such a career. But it seems to me that this is not a proper interpretation of ‘self-knowledge’, and that the maxim could not be applied in this sense: the mere recollection of his former low estate surely is not entitled to the name of knowledge of self. Iphicrates, instead of disobeying the precept, conformed to it in the strictest sense; he did know himself so well, he was so fully aware of his capacity for fulfilling the duties of the office, that he did not hesitate to apply for and exercise the command of an army. Victorius' words are; “παθητικῶς dicet, qui ira percitus ita loquetur” (but what is the occasion of the anger, when it is thus interpreted? The mere contradiction of an universal maxim does not give rise to a fit of passion), “falsum est omnino, quod aiunt, debere homines seipsos nosse: hic enim profecto si se ipsum cognosset nunquam praetor ducere exercitum voluisset.” It may perhaps be meant that the speaker assumes indignation in order to give force to his contradiction: or really gets into a passion at the thought of the folly of mankind for believing it.

‘Our character is bettered, men's opinion of our character is improved, by saying for instance (subaudi οἷον εἴ τις λέγοι, aut tale aliquid) that we ought not, as is said, to love as with the prospect of our love being turned into hatred, but rather the reverse, to hate as if that was likely to become love’. This is Bias' precept or suggestion, ὑποθήκη, see note on II 13. 4.


‘The language (statement, expression) should be accompanied by the manifestation of the deliberate moral purpose (by which the moral character of every thought and action is estimated), or if not, the reason (at any rate) should be added; as thus “a man's love should be, not as people say, but as though it were to be lasting (as deep and fervent and assured, as though it were to endure for ever); for the other (the reverse) has the character of treachery (belongs to, is characteristic of, a designing, plotting, treacherous man; implying deceit together with evil designs of future mischief).”’ This is the construction that may be put upon it: it also admits of a more favourable interpretation: see the note on II 13. 4, already referred to. ‘Or thus, “but the statement, the maxim, does not satisfy me: for the true, sincere, genuine friend should love as if his love were to last for ever.” And again, neither does the (maxim) “nothing to excess (satisfy me); for the wicked surely should be hated to excess.”’


‘These γνῶμαι are of the greatest service (help) to our speeches —one of which’ (the other follows in the next section) ‘is due to, arises out of, the want of cultivation and intelligence in the audience; for they are delighted if ever any one chance to light upon, and express in general terms, any opinion that they hold themselves, but partially’.

φορτικότης, as far as Classical Greek is concerned, appears to be a ἅπαξ λεγόμενον: it is found also in Eustathius (Steph. Thes. sub v.). φορτικός, from φόρτος a burden or load, burden-like, burden-ish, and hence met. burdensome, oppressive, annoying: especially applied to vulgarity, in person, manners, or intellect. The last of these senses, intellectual vulgarity, the want of cultivation and refinement, and especially of philosophical cultivation—a coarse and vulgar habit of mind, which looks merely at the surface of things, with little or no faculty of observation or power of distinction, and contents itself with a mere vulgar knowledge shared with the mass of mankind—is, if not peculiar to Aristotle, at any rate much more commonly found in his writings than in others. In this sense the φορτικός does not differ much from the ἀπαίδευτος, and is opposed to the χαριείς, which, in Aristotle, often expresses the highest degree of grace and refinement, arising from the study of philosophy. It is in this signification that the word is used here, meaning a want of intelligence and of philosophical or (generally) intellectual training, which disqualifies men for making distinctions and estimating the value of an argument; consequently they measure the validity of a reason not by its logical force or cogency, but by its coincidence with their own previously conceived opinions; which they love to hear exaggerated by the orator, who humours them by these illicit generalisations. The Scholiast explains it ἀγροικίαν. Victorius has, I think, entirely mistaken the meaning of the word. The φορτικότης here ascribed to vulgar audiences is much the same as the μοχθηρία τῶν ἀκροατῶν, III 1. 5, the vices or defects, which oblige the orator to have recourse to τἆλλα ἔξω τοῦ ἀποδεῖξαι in order to convince them, because they are unable to appreciate logic alone. Comp. I 2. 13, on this subject, γὰρ κριτὴς ὑπόκειται εἶναι ἁπλοῦς. See also on III 1. 5.

‘My meaning will be explained, and at the same time also how they (the γνῶμαι) are to be caught’ (hunted, pursued, like game, Anal. Pr. I 30, 46 a 11, θηρεύειν ἀρχάς), ‘by what follows (ὧδε)’. ‘The γνώμη, as has been stated (§ 2), is an utterance or declaration expressed universally; and an audience is always delighted with the expression, as of an universal truth, of any opinion which they previously, but partially, entertain: for example, if a man chanced to have bad neighbours or children, he would be glad to hear (approve) any one who said “nothing is more troublesome (harder to bear) than neighbourhood” (abstract for concrete, γείτονες neighbours), or “nothing is more foolish than the procreation of children.”’—Possibly also, though this is doubtful, a man with a frail wife might like to hear Hamlet exclaim “Frailty, thy name is woman.”

γειτονίας] Plat. Legg. VIII 843 C, χαλεπὴν καὶ σφόδρα πικρὰν γειτονίαν ἀπεργάζονται. γειτονᾶν, apud eundem. For χαλεπώτερον γειτονίας, comp. Thuc. III 113, ἔδεισαν μὴ οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι ἔχοντες αὐτὴν χαλεπώτεροι σφίσι πάροικοι ὦσι. With the γνώμη comp. Demosth. πρὸς Καλλικλέα [Or. 55], init. οὐκ ἦν ἄρ᾽ , ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, χαλεπώτερον οὐδὲν γείτονος πονηροῦ καὶ πλεονέκτου τυχεῖν (Victorius), evidently referring to this proverb, [cf. Hesiod, Op. et D. 345, πῆμα κακὸς γείτων].

στοχάζεσθαι κ.τ.λ.] ‘And therefore (the speaker) must guess what their previous (already formed) opinions are and what sort of things they are about (how they think about what), and then express this opinion in a general proposition on these matters’. Schrader quotes Cic. de Orat. II 44. 186, (M. Antonius) sicut medico...sic cum aggredior ancipitem causam et gravem, ad animos iudicum pertractandos omni mente in ea cogitatione curaque versor, ut odorer quam sagacissime possim quid sentiant quid existiment quid exspectent quid velint, quo deduci oratione facillime posse videantur.

πῶς ποῖα] Two interrogatives without copula: common in Greek—but in verse rather than prose—as Soph. Phil. 1090, τοῦ ποτε τεύξομαι...πόθεν ἐλπίδος.


‘This then is one use (or usefulness, advantage) of the employment of γνῶμαι, there is also another, and a better; that is, that it gives an ethical character to our speeches. All speeches have this moral character in which the moral purpose is manifested’. Comp. III 17. 9. The ἦθος referred to in III 16. 9 is of a different kind, it is dramatic character, the third of the three distinguished in Introd. p. 112.

‘All γνῶμαι have this effect, because any one who uses a γνώμη makes a declaration in general terms about the objects of moral purpose (or preference), and therefore if the γνῶμαι themselves are good (have a good moral tendency) they give to the speaker also the appearance of good character’. On ἀποφαίνεσθαι, see above on II 21.2.

‘So, for the treatment of γνώμη, its nature, number of kinds, mode of employment, and advantages, let so much suffice’.

1 This may help to throw light on the disputed explanation of this word in the passage of Plato, see Dr Thompson's note ad loc. It is there translated “the style sententious.” γνωμολογία is here, at any rate, the science or study, the theory (λόγος), and (in Rhetoric) the use or practical application, of γνᾶμαι, maxims or general moral sentiments; after the analogy of ἀστρολογία, μετεωρολογία, δικολογία (Rhet. I 1. 10), φυσιολογία (Plut.) and a great number of modern sciences; the use of the maxim predominates in the application of γνωμολογεῖν throughout the chapter.

2 Gaisford, echoing F. A. Wolf, says of this, “Recte statuit W. haec non sana esse. Mihi videtur verbum aliquod excidisse.” In a writer like Aristotle there is nothing at all extraordinary in such an ellipse as I have supposed: in any other it might no doubt lead one to suspect an omission.

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