Friday, December 15, 2017


Changing the Names of Things

Procopius, History of the Wars 7.8.17 (tr. H.B. Dewing):
Now I, for my part, know this, that the great majority of mankind twist and turn the names of things until they reverse their meaning. For, on the one hand, they are accustomed to call kindness that which is really lawlessness, the outcome of which is that everything respectable is brought to utter confusion; and, on the other hand, they call any man perverse and exceedingly difficult who wishes to preserve the lawful order with exactness—to the end, plainly, that by using these names as screens for their wanton deeds they may be able more fearlessly to do wrong and display their baseness.

ἐγὼ μὲν οὖν τοῦτο οἶδα, ὡς τῶν ἀνθρώπων ὁ πολὺς ὅμιλος τὰ τῶν πραγμάτων ὀνόματα μεταβάλλουσιν ἐπὶ τοὐναντίον. φιλανθρωπίαν μὲν γὰρ καλεῖν τὴν παρανομίαν εἰώθασιν, ἐξ ἧς διεφθάρθαι τε τὰ χρηστὰ πάντα καὶ ξυντεταράχθαι ξυμβαίνει, σκαιὸν δὲ καὶ ἀτεχνῶς δύσκολον, ὃς ἂν τὰ νόμιμα περιστέλλειν ἐς τὸ ἀκριβὲς βούληται, ὅπως δὴ τοῖς ὀνόμασι τούτοις παραπετάσμασιν ἐς τὴν ἀσέλγειαν χρώμενοι ἀδεέστερον ἐξαμαρτάνειν τε ἱκανοὶ εἶεν καὶ τὴν μοχθηρίαν ἐνδείκνυσθαι.

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