Friday, 7 June 2019

THE DELPHIC MAXIMS ~ THE GREAT LEGACY OF GREEK WISDOM FOR MANKIND


The Delphic maxims are a set of  phrases of wisdom inscribed at Delphi. Originally, they were said to have been given by the Greek God Apollo's Oracle at Delphi and were therefore attributed to Apollo himself. 

The maxims are also believed to have come from the Seven Sages of Ancient Greece:

a ) Thales of Miletus (c. 624 – c. 546 BCE) is the first well-known philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer. His advice, “Know thyself,” was engraved on the front facade of the Temple of Apollo in Delphi.

b) Pittacus of Mytilene (c. 640 – 568 BCE) governed Mytilene (Lesbos). He tried to reduce the power of the nobility and was able to govern with the support of the demos, whom he favoured.
Bias of Priene (fl. 6th century BCE) was a politician and legislator of the 6th century BC.

c) Solon of Athens (c. 638 – 558 BCE) was a famous legislator and reformer from Athens, framing the laws that shaped the Athenian democracy.

d,e) There are various opinions about the fifth and sixth sage : Cleobulus, tyrant of Lindos (fl. c. 600 BCE), reported as either the grandfather or father-in-law of Thales; Periander of Corinth (b. before 634 BCE, d. c. 585 BCE); Myson of Chenae (6th century BCE); Anacharsis the Scythian (6th century BCE).


f) Chilon of Sparta (fl. 555 BCE) was a Spartan politician to whom the militarization of Spartan society was attributed.






Perhaps the most famous of these maxims is  'γνώθι σαυτόν'  (know thyself ) ,which was carved into the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. The specific order and wording of each maxim varies between different versions (and translations) of the text.


 1.Ἕπου θεῷ Follow God

2. Νόμῳ πείθου   Obey the law

3. Θεούς σέβου Respect the Gods

4. Γονεῖς αἰδοῦ     Respect your parents

5. Ἡττῶ ὑπὸ δικαίου  Submit to what is just

6. Γνῶθι μαθών  Know what you have learned

7. Ἀκούσας νόει  Understand what you have heard

8. Σαυτὸν ἴσθι   Be/Know yourself

9. Γαμεῖν μέλλε   Intend to get married

10. Καιρὸν γνῶθι  Know your opportunity

11. Φρόνει θνητά   Think as a mortal

12. Ξένος ὢν ἴσθι  If you are a stranger act like one

13. Ἑστίαν τίμα  Honor the house

14. Ἄρχε σεαυτοῦ  Control yourself

15. Φίλοις βοήθει   Help your friends

16. Θυμοῦ κράτει   Control your anger

17. Φρόνησιν ἄσκει   Exercise prudence

18. Πρόνοιαν τίμα   Honor providence

19. Ὅρκῳ μὴ χρῶ   Do not use an oath

20. Φιλίαν ἀγάπα   Love friendship

21. Παιδείας ἀντέχου   Focus on your education

22. Δόξαν δίωκε    Pursue honor

23. Σοφίαν ζήλου   Long for wisdom

24. Καλὸν εὖ λέγε   Praise the good

25. Ψέγε μηδένα   Find fault with no one

26. Ἐπαίνει ἀρετήν   Praise virtue

27. Πρᾶττε δίκαια   Practice what is just

28. Φίλοις εὐνόει Favor friends

29. Ἐχθροὺς ἀμύνου   Defend against enemies

30. Εὐγένειαν ἄσκει   Exercise nobility of character

31. Κακίας ἀπέχου   Shun evil

32. Κοινὸς γίνου   Be sociable

33. Ἴδια φύλαττε  Guard what is yours

34. Αλλοτρίων ἀπέχου  Shun what belongs to others

35. Ἄκουε πάντα   Listen to everything

36. Εὔφημος ἴσθι    Have a good reputation

37. Φίλῳ χαρίζου   Do a favor for a friend

38. Μηδὲν ἄγαν   Nothing to excess

39. Χρόνου φείδου   Use time sparingly

40. Ὅρα τὸ μέλλον   Foresee the future

41. Ὕβριν μίσει    Despise insolence

42. Ἱκέτας αἰδοῦ   Have respect for suppliants

43. Πᾶσιν ἁρμόζου   Be accommodating in everything

44. Υἱοὺς παίδευε   Educate your sons

45. Ἔχων χαρίζου  When you have, give away

46. Δόλον φοβοῦ     Fear deceit

47. Εὐλόγει πάντας  Speak well of everyone

48. Φιλόσοφος γίνου   Be a seeker of wisdom

49. Ὅσια κρῖνε     Judge what is divine

50. Γνοὺς πρᾶττε    Act with awareness

51. Φόνου ἀπέχου   Shun murder

52. Εὔχου δυνατά   Pray with all the strength you have

53. Σοφοῖς χρῶ   Consult the wise / Seek the company of the wise

54. Ἦθος δοκίμαζε Praise the good character

55. Λαβὼν ἀπόδος   Give back what you have received

56. Ὑφορῶ μηδένα   Look down upon no one

57. Τέχνῃ χρῶ     Use your skill

58. Ὃ μέλλεις, δός   Do what you mean to do

59. Εὐεργεσίας τίμα   Honor a benefaction

60. Φθόνει μηδενί   Be envious of no one

61. Φυλακῇ πρόσεχε   Be on your guard

62. Ἐλπίδα αἴνει      Praise hope

63. Διαβολὴν μίσει   Despise slander

64. Δικαίως κτῶ   Gain possessions justly

65. Ἀγαθοὺς τίμα    Honor good men

66. Κριτὴν γνῶθι   Know your judge

67. Γάμους κράτει   Honour your marriage

68. Τύχην νόμιζε   Recognize fortune

69. Ἐγγύην φεῦγε   Flee a pledge

70. Ἁπλῶς διαλέγου  Speak plainly

71. Ὁμοίοις χρῶ   Associate with your peers

72. Δαπανῶν ἄρχου  Govern your expenses

73. Κτώμενος ἥδου Be happy with what you have

74. Αἰσχύνην σέβου  Revere a sense of shame

75. Χάριν ἐκτέλει    Fulfill a favor

76. Εὐτυχίαν εὔχου   Pray for happiness

77. Τύχην στέργε    Be fond of fortune

78. Ἀκούων ὅρα    When you listen, observe

79. Ἐργάζου κτητά  Work for what is worth obtaining

80. Ἔριν μίσει      Despise strife

81. Ὄνειδος ἔχθαιρε   Detest disgrace

82. Γλῶτταν ἴσχε    Restrain the tongue

83. Ὕβριν ἀμύνου   Protect yourself from insolence

84. Κρῖνε δίκαια     Make fair judgements

85. Χρῶ χρήμασιν   Use what you have

86. Ἀδωροδόκητος δίκαζε   Judge incorruptibly

87. Αἰτιῶ παρόντα   Accuse one who is present

88. Λέγε εἰδώς  Speak when you know

89. Βίας μὴ ἔχου   Have no violence

90. Ἀλύπως βίου  Live without sorrow

91. Ὁμίλει πράως Speak kindly

92. Πέρας ἐπιτέλει μὴ ἀποδειλιών  Do not hesitate to finish what you have started

93. Φιλοφρόνει πᾶσιν   Deal kindly with everyone

94. Υἱοῖς μὴ καταρῶ    Do not curse your sons

95. Σεαυτὸν εὖ ποίει   Benefit yourself

96. Εὐπροσήγορος γίνου   Be courteous

97. Ἀποκρίνου ἐν καιρῷ  Give a timely response

98. Πόνει μετ’ εὐκλείας  Struggle with glory

99. Πρᾶττε ἀμετανοήτως   Act without repenting

100. Ἁμαρτάνων μετανόει   Repent of sins

101. Ὀφθαλμοῦ κράτει  Control the eye

102. Βουλεύου χρόνῳ   Give a timely counsel

103. Πρᾶττε συντόμως   Act quickly

104. Φιλίαν φύλαττε   Guard friendship

105. Εὐγνώμων γίνου   Become grateful

106. Ὁμόνοιαν δίωκε   Pursue harmony

107. Ἄρρητον κρύπτε   Keep what is secret

108. Τὸ κρατοῦν φοβοῦ  Fear those in power

109. Τὸ συμφέρον θηρῶ  Pursue what is profitable

110. Καιρὸν προσδέχου  Accept the passing of time 

111. Ἔχθρας διάλυε   Do away with enmities

112. Γῆρας προσδέχου  Accept old age

113. Ἐπὶ ῥώμῃ μὴ καυχῶ  Do not boast in might

114. Εὐφημίαν ἄσκει  Utilise your good reputation

115. Ἀπέχθειαν φεῦγε   Flee enmity

116. Πλούτει δικαίως Acquire wealth justly

117. Δόξαν μὴ λεῖπε  Do not abandon honor

118. Κακίαν μίσει  Despise evil

119. Κινδύνευε φρονίμως Venture into danger prudently

120. Μανθάνων μὴ κάμνε Do not tire of learning

121. Φειδόμενος μὴ λεῖπε Do not stop being thrifty

122. Χρησμοὺς θαύμαζε   Admire oracles

123. Οὓς τρέφεις, ἀγάπα    Love whom you rear

124. Ἀπόντι μὴ μάχου  Do not oppose someone absent

125. Πρεσβύτερον αἰδοῦ Respect the elder

126. Νεώτερον δίδασκε Teach a youngster

127. Πλούτῳ ἀπίστει Do not trust wealth

128. Σεαυτὸν αἰδοῦ Respect yourself

129. Μὴ ἄρχε ὑβρίζειν Do not rule with arrogance

130. Προγόνους στεφάνου   Crown your ancestors

131. Θνῆσκε ὑπὲρ πατρίδος   Die for your country

132. Τῷ βίῳ μὴ ἄχθου Do not be discontented by life

133. Ἐπὶ νεκρῷ μὴ γέλα   Do not mock the dead

134. Ἀτυχοῦντι συνάχθου  Share the burden of the unfortunate

135. Χαρίζου ἀβλαβῶς  Gratify without harming

136. Μὴ ἐπὶ παντὶ λυποῦ Do not grieve for everything

137. Ἐξ εὐγενῶν γέννα   Beget from noble routes

138. Ἐπαγγέλλου μηδενί Make promises to no one

139. Φθιμένους μὴ ἀδίκει   Do not wrong the dead

140. Εὖ πάσχε ὡς θνητός   Endure what happens as a mortal

141. Τύχῃ μὴ πίστευε Do not trust fortune

142. Παῖς ὢν κόσμιος ἴσθι As a child be well-behaved

143. Ἡβῶν ἐγκρατής As a youth be self-disciplined

144. Μέσος δίκαιος As of middle-age be just

145. Πρεσβύτης εὔλογος As an old man be sensible

146. Τελευτῶν ἄλυπος    Upon reaching death be without sorrow


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