― for Fred Rexer
I have long believed that love must be pervasive or bogus. The kind of love that generates bereavement must also be permanent. On several occasions I have been cured of living love by dint of its object proving itself unworthy. The rule of “de mortuis nil nisi bonum” ensures that that cannot happen with the object of love gone beyond the pale of all change.
|Χίλων Δαμαγήτου Λακεδαιμόνιος. οὗτος ἐποίησεν ἐλεγεῖα εἰς ἔπη διακόσια, καὶ ἔφασκε πρόνοιαν περὶ τοῦ μέλλοντος λογισμῷ καταληπτὴν εἶναι ἀνδρὸς ἀρετήν. […] φασὶ δ' αὐτὸν καὶ Αἰσώπου πυθέσθαι, ὁ Ζεὺς τί εἴη ποιῶν· τὸν δὲ φάναι, “τὰ μὲν ὑψηλὰ ταπεινοῦν, τὰ δὲ ταπεινὰ ὑψοῦν.” ἐρωτηθεὶς τίνι διαφέρουσιν οἱ πεπαιδευμένοι τῶν ἀπαιδεύτων, ἔφη, “ἐλπίσιν ἀγαθοῖς.” τί δύσκολον, “τὸ τὰ ἀπόρρητα σιωπῆσαι, καὶ σχολὴν εὖ διαθέσθαι, καὶ ἀδικούμενον δύνασθαι φέρειν.” προσέταττε δὲ καὶ ταῦτα· γλώττης κρατεῖν, καὶ μάλιστα ἐν συμποσίῳ. μὴ κακολογεῖν τοὺς πλησίον· εἰ δὲ μή, ἀκούσεσθαι ἐφ' οἷς λυπήσεσθαι. μὴ ἀπειλεῖν μηδενί· γυναικῶδες γάρ. ταχύτερον ἐπὶ τὰς ἀτυχίας τῶν φίλων ἢ ἐπὶ τὰς εὐτυχίας πορεύεσθαι. γάμον εὐτελῆ ποιεῖσθαι. τὸν τεθνηκότα μὴ κακολογεῖν. γῆρας τιμᾶν. φυλάττειν ἑαυτόν. ζημίαν αἱρεῖσθαι μᾶλλον ἢ κέρδος αἰσχρόν· ἡ μὲν γὰρ ἅπαξ ἐλύπησε, τὸ δὲ διὰ παντός. ἀτυχοῦντι μὴ ἐπιγελᾶν. ἰσχυρὸν ὄντα πρᾷον εἶναι, ὅπως οἱ πλησίον αἰδῶνται μᾶλλον ἢ φοβῶνται. μανθάνειν τῆς αὑτοῦ οἰκίας καλῶς προστατεῖν. τὴν γλῶτταν μὴ προτρέχειν τοῦ νοῦ. θυμοῦ κρατεῖν. μαντικὴν μὴ ἐχθαίρειν. μὴ ἐπιθυμεῖν ἀδυνάτων. ἐν ὁδῷ μὴ σπεύδειν. λέγοντα μὴ κινεῖν τὴν χεῖρα· μανικὸν γάρ. νόμοις πείθεσθαι. ἠρεμίᾳ χρῆσθαι.
— Διογένης Λαέρτιος, Βίοι καὶ γνῶμαι τῶν ἐν φιλοσοφίᾳ εὐδοκιμησάντων, Βιβλίον Α', Χίλων, 68, 69-70, ed. H.S. Long, Oxford 1964
|Chilon was a Lacedaemonian, the son of Damagetus. He composed verses in elegiac metre to the number of two hundred: and it was a saying of his that a foresight of future events, such as could be arrived at by consideration was the virtue of a man. […] They tell a story, also of his having asked Aesop what Jupiter was doing, and that Aesop replied “He is lowering what is high, and exalting what is low.” Being asked in what educated men differed from those who were illiterate, he said, “In good hopes.” Having had the question put to him, What was difficult, he said, “To be silent about secrets; to make good use of one’s leisure, and to be able to submit to injustice.” And besides these three things he added further, “To rule one’s tongue, especially at a banquet, and not to speak ill of one’s neighbours; for if one does so one is sure to hear what one will not like.” He advised, moreover, “To threaten no one; for that is a womanly trick. To be more prompt to go to one’s friends in adversity than in prosperity. To make but a moderate display at one’s marriage. Not to speak evil of the dead. To honour old age. — To keep a watch upon one’s self. — To prefer punishment to disgraceful gain; for the one is painful but once, but the other for one’s whole life. — Not to laugh at a person in misfortune. — If one is strong to be also merciful, so that one’s neighbours may respect one rather than fear one. — To learn how to regulate one’s own house well. — Not to let one’s tongue outrun one’s sense. — To restrain anger. — Not to dislike divination. — Not to desire what is impossible. — Not to make too much haste on one’s road. — When speaking not to gesticulate with the hand; for that is like a madman. — To obey the laws. — To love quiet.”
— Diogenes Laertius, The Lives and Opinions of the Eminent Philosophers, Book I, 68, 69-70, Life of Chilon, translated by C.D. Yonge