Friday, December 21, 2012

Oh, Aristotle. How I Wish You Lived in My Time...

Hi there--

So, I was having one of my "web surfing" attacks (yes, this is what I do on Friday nights) and stumbled across this philosopher from way back in the day, like 120 AD back in the day.

His name -- Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus aka Plutarch. Plutarch was a philosopher, Greek historian, and biographer. His most famous works were Parallel Lives and my new addiction, Moralia, which I will cite here. Moralia is a collection of seventy-eight essays and transcribed speeches where he discusses everything from moral virtue to the intelligence of animals. There were so many essays to choose from (see here) that I settled on reading a few that caught my eye: How to Profit by One's Enemies, On Love of Wealth, and On Talkativeness. 

Although all essays I've read thus far are good reads, I'd like to share an excerpt from On Talkativeness that literally made me laugh out loud and wish Aristotle was alive today so I could be his home-girl. Just for some background, On Talkativeness discusses, well, those who speak too much and should shut up. So, with that very detailed summary, here we go!


On Talkativeness, Plutarch

But if, however, we are resolved to leave no means untried, let us say to the babbler,

 Hush, child: in silence many virtues lie,

and among them the two first and greatest, the merits of hearing and being heard; neither of these can happen to talkative persons, but even in that which they desire especially they fail miserably. For in other diseases of the soul, such as love of money, love of glory, love of pleasure, there is at least the possibility of attaining their desires, but for babblers this is very difficult: they desire listeners and cannot get them, since every one runs away headlong. If men are sitting in a public lounge or strolling about in a portico, and see a talker coming up, they quickly give each other the counter-sign to break camp. And just as when silence occurs in an assemblage they say that Hermes has joined the company, so when a chatterbox comes into a dinner-party or social gathering, every one grows silent, not wishing to furnish him a hold; and if he begins of his own accord to open his mouth,

As when the North-wind blows along
A sea-beaten headland before the storm,
suspecting that they will be tossed about and sea-sick, they rise up and go out. And so it is a talker's lot when travelling by land or sea, to find volunteer listeners neither as table-companions nor as tent-mates, but only conscripts; for the talker is at you everywhere, catching your cloak, plucking your beard, digging you in the ribs. 

Then are your feet of the greatest value, 
as Archilochus says, and on my word the wise Aristotle will agree. For when Aristotle himself was annoyed by a chatterer and bored with some silly stories, and the fellow kept repeating, "Isn't it wonderful, Aristotle?" "There's nothing wonderful about that," said Aristotle, "but that anyone with feet endures you." To another man of the same sort, who said after a long rigmarole, "Poor philosopher, I've wearied you with my talk," "Heavens, no!" said Aristotle, "I wasn't listening."


Now, I love Aristotle for many other reasons aside from his clever humor (which I was naively never aware of) but he has an extra check mark in my book for being a smart ass :P.

That's all for now!

Onwards and Upwards,

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