Sunday, April 11, 2021


Silence Has Many Beauties

Dear Mike,

Thanks for Silence (Wednesday 7/04), a subject dear to me — τι βαθὺ καὶ μυστηριῶδες ἡ σιγὴ saith Plutarch, in whose otherwise garrulous essay on prattlers appears the pleasingly succinct phrase: οὐδεὶς γὰρ οὕτω λόγος ὠφέλησε ῥηθεὶς ὡς πολλοὶ σιωπηθέντες (505F).

Here's another piece of Pindar:

Pindar, Nemean Odes 5.16-19 (tr. William H. Race):
I will halt, for not every exact truth
is better for showing its face,
and silence is often the wisest thing for a man to observe.

στάσομαι· οὔ τοι ἅπασα κερδίων
φαίνοισα πρόσωπον ἀλάθει᾿ ἀτρεκής·
καὶ τὸ σιγᾶν πολλάκις ἐστὶ σοφώτατον ἀνθρώπῳ νοῆσαι.
and a shard each from Aesch., Eur. and Soph.:

Aeschylus, fragment 188 (tr. A.H. Sommerstein):
For to many mortals silence is advantageous.

πολλοῖς γάρ ἐστι κέρδος ἡ σιγὴ βροτῶν.

Scholia (M B D) to Aelius Aristeides, Oration 3.97 (p. 190 Frommel; p. 501.17–18 Dindorf) (Αἰσχύλος . . . ἐν Προμηθεῖ δεσμώτῃ)
Euripides, fragment 219 (from Antiope; tr. Christopher Collard and Martin Cropp):
Silence is an ornament, a crown for a man without vice;
while chattering of this kind fastens upon pleasure,
and makes bad company, and is a weakness too for a city.

κόσμος δὲ σιγή, στέφανος ἀνδρὸς οὐ κακοῦ·
τὸ δ᾿ ἐκλαλοῦν τοῦθ᾿ ἡδονῆς μὲν ἅπτεται,
κακὸν δ᾿ ὁμίλημ᾿, ἀσθενὲς δὲ καὶ πόλει.

1 σιγή, στέφανος Ellis: σιγῆς στέφανος Stobaeus 3.36.10
Sophocles, fragment 81 (tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones):
My son, be silent! Silence has many beauties.

ὦ παῖ, σιώπα· πόλλ᾿ ἔχει σιγὴ καλά.

Stobaeus, Anthology 3, 33, 3 (3, 678, 10 Hense); Plutarch, Talkativeness 502E; Arsenius, Violarium, p. 488 Walz = Apostol. 18, 62a (CPG 2, 737, 9)

Best wishes,
Eric [Thomson]

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