previous next
Periander said laughing: We suffer deservedly, for, before we have perfected our animadversions and remarks upon the letter, we are fallen upon disputes so strangely foreign to the matter under consideration; and therefore I [p. 17] pray, Niloxenus, read out the remainder of your lord's letter, and slip not this opportunity to receive what satisfaction all that are present shall be able to give you. The command of the king of Ethiopia, says Niloxenus, is no more and no less than (to use Archilochus's phrase) a broken scytale; that is, the meaning is inscrutable and cannot be found out. But your friend Amasis was more gentle and civil in his queries; for he commanded him only to resolve him what was most ancient, most beautiful, greatest, wisest, most common, and withal, what was most profitable, most pernicious, most strong, and most easy. Did he resolve and answer every one of these questions? He did, quoth Niloxenus, and do you judge of his answers and the soundness thereof: and it is my prince's purpose not to misrepresent his responses and condemn unjustly what he saith well, so, where he finds him under a mistake, not to suffer that to pass without correction. His answers to the foresaid questions I will read to you.— What is most ancient? Time. What is greatest? The World. What is wisest? Truth. What is most beautiful ? The light. What is most common ? Death. What is most profitable ? God. What is most pernicious ? An evil genius. What is strongest? Fortune. What is most easy? That which is pleasant.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus English (Frank Cole Babbitt, 1928)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: