Saturday, March 30, 2013


Even Jupiter Does Not Please Everybody

Erasmus, Adagia II vii 55 (tr. R.A.B. Mynors):
Ne Jupiter quidem omnibus placet
Even Jupiter does not please everybody

Theognis among his moral maxims: 'For Jove himself may not content us all, / Whether he holds rain back or lets it fall.' For in our own day too there is a common saying that no one can be found who pleases everybody. For different people like different things, and 'Three guests1 I have, of wishes quite contrary; / As their tastes differ, so their orders vary.' Pindar2 in the eighth of his Olympians: 'But among men nothing will be equally delightful,' because of course some like one thing, some another, and 'What is one's own is beautiful.'3 This resembles that saying in the Gospel4 which I referred to in the outset of this work, when I was speaking of the respect due to proverbs: 'We have piped to you and you have not danced; we have mourned to you and you have not wept.'

55. From Theognis, the moralist-poet of the sixth century BC, 25-6; our version is borrowed from section V of Erasmus' introduction (C[ollected]W[orks of]E[rasmus] 31, 13). Suringar [Erasmus over nederlandsche spreekwoorden ...(Utrecht 1873)] 134; Tilley [Dictionary of Proverbs in English in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Ann Arbor 1950)] J 103 Jupiter himself cannot please all.
1 Three guests] Horace Epistles 2.2.61-2, already cited in I iii 7
2 Pindar] Olympians 8.53, one of nearly thirty texts from that book added in [Erasmus's adages of] 1533
3 beautiful] I ii 15
4 Gospel] Luke 7.32; the Latin, added in [Erasmus's adages of] 1515, is not the Vulgate version
The original:
Ne Jupiter quidem omnibus placet

Theognis in Sententiis:
                                     Οὐ δὲ γὰρ ὁ Ζεὺς
Οὔθ' ὕων πάντας ἀνδάνει οὐτ' ἀνέχων

                         Neque Jupiter ipse
Sive pluat seu non, unicuique placet.
Hodie vulgo dicunt neminem inveniri, qui satisfaciat omnibus; nam aliis alia probantur. Et:
Tres mihi convivae prope dissentire videntur,
Poscentes vario multum diversa palato.
Pindarus in Olympiorum octavo:
Τερπνὸν δ᾿ ἐν ἀνθρώποις ἴσον ἔσσεται οὐδέν. Id est,
Inter homines nihil erit aeque jucundum,
videlicet quod alios alia delectant et suum cuique pulchrum est. Cui simile est illud Evangelicum, quod in operis initio retulimus, cum de paroemiae dignitate loqueremur: Ηὐλήσαμεν ὑμῖν, καὶ οὐκ ὠρχήσασθε, ἐθρηνήσαμεν, καὶ οὐκ ἐκλαύσατε. Id est, Cecinimus vobis et non saltastis; lamentati sumus vobis et non plorastis.
Cf. Plutarch, Life of Solon 25.5 (tr. Bernadotte Perrin):
for 'in great affairs,' as he says himself, 'it is difficult to please all'

ἔργμασι γὰρ ἐν μεγάλοις πᾶσιν ἁδεῖν χαλεπόν, ὡς αὐτὸς εἴρηκε.
See Renzo Tosi, Dictionnaire des sentences latines et grecques, tr. Rebecca Lenoir (Grenoble: Jérôme Millon, 2010) #144, p. 147.

In an alternative formulation (Gilleland's Law):
Everything offends someone.
Thanks to Ian Jackson for sending me the end notes to Mynors' translation of Erasmus.

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