Thursday, November 06, 2014


Wasting Time

Dio Chrysostom, Discourses 20.3-4 (tr. J.W. Cohoon):
[3] It may be, then, that it is those who withdraw from unprofitable enterprises and time-consuming activities which do not properly concern them, and who get themselves some leisure from useless annoyances, that should be defined as 'retiring.' But if that is right, it is not the man who has moved from some city to another one or from one place to another that could be described as 'retiring.' For wherever he goes, there will be many things getting in his way and not allowing him to do the things which properly concern him. For the fact is that spending much time in somebody's company and in continual drinking, or dicing, or in doing some other harmful and unprofitable thing are practices to be met with everywhere — and wasting all one's time in palavering with anyone you happen to meet, and in listening to talk that is utterly futile, or spending your time discoursing about the affairs of the Emperor or of what's his name, as some one has said. [4] For the fool is not master of his own soul, but is whirled this way and that and is easily led by any chance pretext or association. Consequently the majority of men are just like spendthrifts, who would be unable to render an accounting for the money they have spent, explaining what they have spent each several item for, although enormous sums have clearly been expended: so neither could these men render an accounting for what they have spent each day, or month, or year, although life is clearly passing by and time being spent, this being of no little value to man, of no less value to him, in my opinion, than money.

[3] μὴ οὖν τοὺς ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνωφελῶν πραγμάτων καὶ τῶν οὐ προσηκουσῶν αὐτοῖς ἀσχολιῶν ἀπιόντας καὶ σχολήν τινα πορίζοντας αὑτοῖς ἀπὸ τῶν ἐνοχλούντων μάτην ῥητέον ὡς ἀναχωροῦντας. ἀλλ´ οὕτως μὲν, οὐχ ὁ μεταβὰς ἐκ πόλεώς τινος εἰς ἑτέραν πόλιν ἢ ἐκ τόπου εἰς ἕτερον τόπον ἀναχωρεῖν λέγοιτ´ ἄν· ὅπου γὰρ ἂν ἀφίκηται, πολλὰ ἂν εἴη τὰ ἐμποδὼν αὐτῷ γιγνόμενα καὶ οὐκ ἐῶντα τὰ προσήκοντα ποιεῖν. καὶ γὰρ τὸ ἐπὶ πολύ τῳ ξυνεῖναι καὶ τὸ πίνοντα ἢ κυβεύοντα ἢ ἄλλο τι τῶν βλαβερῶν καὶ ἀσυμφόρων πράττοντα διατελεῖν, πανταχοῦ τοιαῦτά ἐστιν, καὶ τὸ συνδιατρίβειν ἀεὶ τῷ ἐντυχόντι ἀδολεσχοῦντα καὶ ἀκούοντα λόγων οὐδὲν χρησίμων ἢ περὶ τὰ βασιλέως πράγματα διατρίβειν ἢ τὰ τοῦ δεῖνος, ὡς ἔφη τις. [4] οὐ γάρ ἐστιν ἀνόητος τῆς αὑτοῦ ψυχῆς κύριος, ἀλλὰ ῥεμβόμενός τε καὶ ἀγόμενος ῥᾳδίως ὑπὸ τῆς τυχούσης προφάσεως καὶ ὁμιλίας. ὥστε οἱ πολλοὶ ἄνθρωποι, καθάπερ οἱ ἄσωτοι τῶν χρημάτων οὐκ ἂν δύναιντο ἀποδοῦναι λόγον πρὸς ὅ τι ἀνηλώκασιν ἕκαστον αὐτῶν, φαίνεται δ´ ὅμως ἀνηλωμένα πάνυ συχνὰ χρήματα, οὐδὲ οὗτοι τοῦ χρόνου τε καὶ βίου δύναιντ´ ἂν ἀποδοῦναι λόγον, πρὸς ὅ τι ἑκάστην ἡμέραν ἀνήλωσαν ἢ μῆνα ἢ ἐνιαυτόν· φαίνεται δ´ οὖν παριὼν ὁ βίος καὶ δαπανώμενος ὁ χρόνος, οὐκ ὀλίγου ἄξιος τοῖς ἀνθρώποις οὐδὲ ἥττονος, ἐμοὶ δοκεῖν, ἢ τὸ ἀργύριον.

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