Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Few, One, or None Revisited

Thanks to Pierre Wechter, who drew my attention to two more parallels illustrating the theme Few, One, or None. The first parallel is from Montaigne, Essays 1.39 (On Solitude, tr. E.J. Trechmann), which recalls Seneca, Letters to Lucilius 7.10-11:
Remember the man who, when he was asked to what purpose he took so much pains in an art which would come to the knowledge of few persons, replied: Few will suffice me; one, nay, less than one will suffice me. He spoke truly. You and a companion are a sufficient stage for one another, or you for yourself. Let the people be to you one, and let one be to you a whole people.

Souvienne vous de celuy à qui, comme on demandast à quoy faire il se pénoit si fort en un art, qui ne pouvoit venir à la cognoissance de guiere de gens: J'en ay assez de peu, respondit-il, j'en ay assez d'un, j'en ay assez de pas un. Il disoit vray: vous et un compagnon estes assez suffisant theatre l'un à l'autre, ou vous à vous-mesmes. Que le peuple vous soit un, et un vous soit tout le peuple.
The second parallel is Heraclitus, fragment 49 Diels (tr. Wechter):
One is worth ten thousand to me, as long as he is outstandingly good.

εἶς ἐμοὶ μύριοι, ἐὰν ἄριστος ᾖ.
Cicero, Letters to Atticus 16.11.1, quotes part of this (εἶς ἐμοὶ μύριοι).

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