Thursday, July 20, 2017


The Greatest Danger to Mankind

Cicero, On Duties 2.5.16 (tr. Walter Miller):
There is no curse so terrible but it is brought down by man upon man. There is a book by Dicaearchus on "The Destruction of Human Life." He was a famous and eloquent Peripatetic, and he gathered together [fragment 24 Wehrli] all the other causes of destruction—floods, epidemics, famines, and sudden incursions of wild animals in myriads, by whose assaults, he informs us, whole tribes of men have been wiped out. And then he proceeds to show by way of comparison how many more men have been destroyed by the assaults of men—that is, by wars or revolutions—than by any and all other sorts of calamity.

nulla tam detestabilis pestis est, quae non homini ab homine nascatur. est Dicaearchi liber de interitu hominum, Peripatetici magni et copiosi, qui collectis ceteris causis eluvionis, pestilentiae, vastitatis, beluarum etiam repentinae multitudinis, quarum impetu docet quaedam hominum genera esse consumpta, deinde comparat, quanto plures deleti sint homines hominum impetu, id est bellis aut seditionibus, quam omni reliqua calamitate.
Andrew R. Dyck in his commentary (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996), pp. 383-384:
Dicaearchus evidently collected material to confirm such statements as Arist. Pol. 1253a31: ὥσπερ γὰρ καὶ τελεωθὲν βέλτιστον τῶν ζῴων ἄνθρωπός ἐστιν, οὕτω καὶ χωρισθὲν νόμου καὶ δίκης χείριστον πάντων. χαλεπωτάτη γὰρ ἀδικία ἔχουσα ὅπλα; and MM 1203a22: ἐπεὶ πότερος ἂν πλείω κακὰ ποιήσειεν λέων ἢ Διονύσιος ἢ Φάλαρις ἢ Κλέαρχος ἤ τις τούτων τῶν μοχθηρῶν; ἢ δῆλον ὅτι οὗτοι; ἡ γὰρ ἀρχὴ ἐνοῦσα φαύλη μεγάλα συμβάλλεται, ἐν δὲ θηρίῳ ὅλως οὐκ ἔστιν ἀρχή; cf. Sen. Ep. 103.1: rari sunt casus, etiamsi graves, naufragium facere, vehiculo everti: ab homine homini cotidianum periculum; Plin. Nat. 7.5; Wehrli ad Dicaearch. fr. 24; Martini, RE 5.1 (1903), 557.40 ff.
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