Wednesday, August 24, 2016


An Unidentified Quotation in Erasmus' Adages

Erasmus, Adages I i 1 to I v 100, translated by Margaret Mann Phillips, annotated by R.A.B. Mynors (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982), p. 99 (on I i 48 Tota erras via):
There is also that familiar saying: 'They run well but not on the right road.'

familiar saying] This is mentioned again in III i 84, but has not yet been identified.
The Latin:
celebre habetur et illud apophthegma, Bene currunt, sed extra viam: Καλώς μὲν τρέχουσιν, άλλ' έκτός τής όδού.
Erasmus, Adages II vii 1 to III iii 100, translated and annotated by R.A.B. Mynors (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992), pp. 214-215 (on III i 84 Frustra currit), with note on p. 386:
Also the familiar remark2 once made by someone: 'They run, but not on the right road,' when a man toils industriously, but on no settled plan which can tell him in advance which path to follow and how far.

2 remark] I i 48; the source has not been traced.
The Latin:
Celebratur et illud cuiuspiam ἀπόφθεγμα: Τρέχουσιν ἔξω τῆς ὁδοῦ, id est Currunt extra viam, vbi quis sedulo quidem molitur, sed nulla certa ratione, quae praemonstret, quid quatenusque sequendum sit.
I wonder if Erasmus was thinking of Augustine, Sermons 141.4 (on John's Gospel 14.6; Patrologia Latina 38, col. 777; tr. R.G. MacMullen):
For sometimes even those who walk well, run outside the way. Thus you will find men living well, and not Christians. They run well; but they run not in the way. The more they run, the more they go astray; because they are out of the Way.

aliquando enim ipsi bene ambulantes, praeter viam currunt. invenies quippe homines bene viventes, et non Christianos. bene currunt; sed in via non currunt. quanto plus currunt, plus errant; quia a via recedunt.

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