Publilius Syrus

Latin writer

Publilius Syrus, (fl. 85–43 BC), was a Latin writer, best known for his sententiae. He was a Syrian who was brought as a slave to Italy, but by his wit and talent he won the favour of his master, who freed and educated him.

Contents

QuotesEdit

SentencesEdit

Sententiae, a collection of maxims in verse form, given alphabetically (in Latin).

Note: Many different editions of the Sententiae have been published, each with significant variation as to the inclusion and exclusion of quotes.

  • Inopi beneficium bis dat, qui dat celeriter.
    • He doubly benefits the needy who gives quickly.
    • Maxim 6
  • Alienum aes homini ingenuo acerba est servitus.
    • Bitter for a free man is the bondage of debt.
    • Maxim 14
    • Variant: "Debt is the slavery of the free."
  • Ames parentem, si aequus est, si aliter, feras.
    • If your parent is just, revere him; if not, bear with him.
    • Maxim 27
  • Audendo virtus crescit, tardando timor.
    • Audacity augments courage; hesitation, fear.
    • Maxim 63
    • Variant translation: "Valour grows by daring, fear by holding back."
  • Honesta fama melior pecunia est.
  • Contra impudentem stulta est nimia ingenuitas
    • Too much straightforwardness is foolish against a shameless person.
      • Maxim 123
  • He who helps the guilty, shares the crime.
    • Maxim 139
  • Honesta turpitudo est pro causa bona.
    • For a good cause, wrongdoing is virtuous.
    • Maxim 207
  • Inopiae desunt multa, avaritiae omnia.
    • Poverty is the lack of many things, but avarice is the lack of all things.
    • Maxim 236
  • Fortuna cum blanditur, captatum venit.
    • When Fortune flatters, she does it to betray.
    • Maxim 277
  • Fortuna vitrea est: tum cum splendet frangitur.
    • Fortune is like glass—the brighter the glitter, the more easily broken.
    • Maxim 280
  • Fortunam citius reperias quam retineas.
    • It is more easy to get a favor from Fortune than to keep it.
    • Maxim 282
  • Formonsa facies muta commendatio est.
    • A beautiful face is a silent commendation.
    • Maxim 283
  • In tranquillo esse quisque gubernator potest.
    • Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.
    • Maxim 358
  • Iudex damnatur ubi nocens absolvitur.
    • The judge is condemned when the guilty is absolved.
    • Maxim 407
    • Adopted by the original Edinburgh Review magazine as its motto.
  • Necessitas dat legem non ipsa accipit.
    • Necessity gives the law without itself acknowledging one.
    • Maxim 444
    • Variant translation: Necessity knows no law except to conquer.
      • Necessitas non habet legem, "Necessity has no law", is apparently of medieval origin. See Necessity for further variants.
  • Malum est consilium, quod mutari non potest.
    • It is a bad plan that admits of no modification.
    • Maxim 469
  • Invitat culpam qui peccatum praeterit
    • Pardon one offence and you encourage the commission of many.
    • Maxim 750
  • Stultum facit fortuna, quem vult perdere.
    • Whom Fortune wishes to destroy she first makes mad.
    • Maxim 911; one of the most famous renditions of the ancient Greek proverb (which is anonymous and dates to the 5th century BCE or earlier). The provenance of the proverb and its English versions is at Wikiquote's Euripides page, under the heading "Misattributed".
  • Taciturnitas stulto homini pro sapientia est.
    • Let a fool hold his tongue and he will pass for a sage.
    • Maxim 914
  • Velox consilium sequitur paenitentia.
    • Penitence follows hasty decisions.
    • Maxim 961
  • Proximum ab innocentia tenet locum verecunda peccati confessio.


The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus, a Roman SlaveEdit

English quotations from The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus, a Roman Slave: from the Latin (1856), by Darius Lyman, Jun., A. M.

Note: Many quotes are misattributed to Syrus; if they do not have a Latin form in a credible modern scholarly work, they are often popular phrases not due to Syrus. The "Maxims" in Lyman (1856) are particularly suspect. Due to frequent misattribution, only phrases found in Latin lists of Syrus's works are credible. Notably, Lyman (1856) does not include Latin, adds nonstandard numbering by "Maxim", and misattributes numerous phrases to Syrus. However, its translations are usable, and given here.

  • Receive an injury rather than do one.
    • Maxim 5
  • We are interested in others, when they are interested in us.
    • Maxim 16
  • Every one excels in something in which another fails.
    • Maxim 17
  • There is no penalty attached to a lover's oath.
    • Maxim 23
  • The anger of lovers renews the strength of love.
    • Maxim 24
  • Confidence is the only bond of friendship.
    • Maxim 34
  • Adversity shows whether we have friends, or only the shadows of friends.
    • Maxim 35
  • The loss which is unknown is no loss at all.
    • Maxim 38
  • A wise man rules his passions, a fool obeys them.
    • Maxim 49
  • When reason rules, money is a blessing.
    • Maxim 50
  • Tension weakens the bow; the want of it, the mind.
    • Maxim 59
  • He sleeps well who knows not that he sleeps ill.
    • Maxim 77
  • He dies twice who perishes by his own hand.
    • Maxim 97
  • To spare the guilty is to injure the innocent.
    • Maxim 113
  • Learn to see in another's calamity the ills which you should avoid.
    • Maxim 120
  • Life is short, but its ills make it seem long.
    • Maxim 124
  • There is but a step between a proud man's glory and his disgrace.
    • Maxim 138
  • An agreeable companion on a journey is as good as a carriage.
    • Maxim 143
  • Society in shipwreck is a comfort to all.
    • Maxim 144
  • Many receive advice, few profit by it.
    • Maxim 149
  • Have courage, or cunning, when you deal with an enemy.
    • Maxim 156
  • Patience is a remedy for every sorrow.
    • Maxim 170
  • What happens to one man may happen to all.
    • Maxim 171
  • While we stop to think, we often miss our opportunity.
    • Maxim 185
  • Whatever you can lose, you should reckon of no account.
    • Maxim 191
  • For him who loves labor, there is always something to do.
    • Maxim 219
  • Solitude is the mother of anxieties.
    • Maxim 222
  • Even a single hair casts its shadow.
  • Pain will force even the truthful to speak falsely.
    • Maxim 232
  • It is sometimes expedient to forget who we are.
    • Maxim 233
  • We may with advantage at times forget what we know.
    • Maxim 234
  • Even when the wound is healed, the scar remains.
    • Maxim 236
  • Even when there is no law, there is conscience.
    • Maxim 237
  • You should hammer your iron when it is glowing hot.
    • Maxim 262
  • What is left when honor is lost?
    • Maxim 265
  • A fair exterior is a silent recommendation.
    • Maxin 267
  • Fortune is not satisfied with inflicting one calamity.
    • Maxim 274
  • When Fortune is on our side, popular favor bears her company.
    • Maxim 275
  • His own character is the arbiter of every one's fortune.
    • Maxim 283
  • There are some remedies worse than the disease.
    • Maxim 301
  • Powerful indeed is the empire of habit.
    • Maxim 305
  • Do not take part in the council, unless you are called.
    • Maxim 310
  • By doing nothing men learn to do ill.
    • Maxim 318
    • Compare Ecclesiasticus 33:27 (KJV): "idleness teacheth much evil".
  • Amid a multitude of projects, no plan is devised.
    • Maxim 319
  • Success makes some crimes honorable.
    • Maxim 326
  • When two do the same thing, it is not the same thing after all.
    • Maxim 338
  • In sterculino plurimum gallus potest.
    • A cock has great influence on his own dunghill.
    • Maxim 357
  • No tears are shed, when an enemy dies.
    • Maxim 376
  • To forget the wrongs you receive, is to remedy them.
    • Maxim 383
  • The bow too tensely strung is easily broken.
    • Maxim 388
  • Treat your friend as if he might become an enemy.
    • Maxim 401
  • Practice is the best of all instructors.
    • Maxim 439
  • A noble spirit finds a cure for injustice in forgetting it.
    • Maxim 441
  • He who is bent on doing evil can never want occasion.
    • Maxim 459
  • The fear of death is more to be dreaded than death itself.
    • Maxim 511
  • Saxum volutum non obducitur musco
    • A rolling stone gathers no moss.
    • Maxim 524
  • Never promise more than you can perform.
    • Maxim 528
  • No one should be judge in his own cause.
    • Maxim 545
  • Nothing can be done at once hastily and prudently.
    • Maxim 557
  • Quod vult habet, qui cupere quod sat est potest.
    • We desire nothing so much as what we ought not to have.
    • Maxim 559 [Mimi et aliorum sententiae 677]
  • Don't turn back when you are just at the goal.
    • Maxim 580
  • No man is happy who does not think himself so.
    • Maxim 584
  • He is a despicable sage whose wisdom does not profit himself.
    • Maxim 629
  • Every day should be passed as if it were to be our last.
    • Maxim 633
  • Money alone sets all the world in motion.
    • Maxim 656
  • Be your money's master, not its slave.
    • Maxim 657
  • It is a very hard undertaking to seek to please everybody.
    • Maxim 675
  • We should provide in peace what we need in war.
    • Maxim 709
  • God looks at the clean hands, not the full ones.
    • Maxim 715
  • It takes a long time to bring excellence to maturity.
    • Maxim 780
  • No one knows what he can do till he tries.
    • Maxim 786
  • They pass peaceful lives who ignore mine and thine.
    • Maxim 790
  • Everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it.
    • Maxim 847
  • Better to be ignorant of a matter than half know it.
    • Maxim 865
  • Prosperity makes friends, adversity tries them.
    • Maxim 872
  • The greatest of empires, is the empire over one's self.
    • Maxim 891
  • Avarice is as destitute of what it has, as what it has not.
    • Maxim 927
  • The poor man is ruined as soon as he begins to ape the rich.
    • Maxim 941
  • Either be silent or say something better than silence.
    • Maxim 960
  • It is a consolation to the wretched to have companions in misery.
    • Maxim 995
  • Speech is a mirror of the soul; as a man speaks, so is he.
    • Maxim 1073
  • Let your life be pleasing to the multitude, and it can not be so to yourself.
    • Maxim 1075


MisattributedEdit

  • To do two things at once is to do neither.
    • Misattributed as Maxim 7, p. 13
    • Variant of:
    • Duos qui sequitur lepores neutrum capit
      • Who chases two rabbits catches neither.
        • A Dictionary of Quotations in most frequent Use, David Evans Macdonnel, 1797, quoted in The Monthly Review, 1798, p. 467
    • Apparently of medieval or modern origin, not found in antiquity.

UnsourcedEdit

  • Familiarity breeds contempt.

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