Sunday, July 17, 2016


A Bird in the Hand

Demetrius of Phalerum, fragment 116B Fortenbaugh–Schütrumpf, preserved in Athenaeus 6.233e (tr. S. Douglas Olson, with his note):
People often spend what they have in hand to get what they cannot see, and fail to get what they intended, but throw away what they had, so that their bad luck resembles a riddle.80

80 A reference to the riddle posed to Homer by unsuccessful fishermen at Vita Herodot. 499 (OCT Homer vol. V p. 215 Allen): "We got rid of everything we caught, and we've brought with us everything we didn't catch." The solution is "Lice".

πολλάκις καταναλώσαντες τὰ φανερὰ τῶν ἀδήλων ἕνεκα ἃ μὲν ἔμελλον οὐκ ἔλαβον, ἃ δ᾿ εἶχον ἀπέβαλον ὥσπερ αἰνίγματος τρόπον ἀτυχοῦντες.

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