Friday, February 9, 2018

γνῶθι σεαυτόν

temet nosce
[164d (Gk)]...I would almost say that this very thing, self-knowledge, is temperance, and I am at one with him who put up the inscription of those words at Delphi. For the purpose of that inscription on the temple, as it seems to me, is to serve as the god's salutation to those who enter it, instead of [164e](Gk) “Hail!”—this is a wrong form of greeting, and they should rather exhort one another with the words, “Be temperate!” And thus the god addresses those who are entering his temple in a mode which differs from that of men; such was the intention of the dedicator of the inscription in putting it up, I believe; and that he says to each man who enters, in reality, “Be temperate !” But he says it in a rather riddling fashion, as a prophet would; for “Know thyself!” and “Be temperate!” are the same, as [165a (Gk)] the inscription1 and I declare, though one is likely enough to think them different—an error into which I consider the dedicators of the later inscriptions fell when they put up “Nothing overmuch”2 and “A pledge, and thereupon perdition.”3 For they supposed that “Know thyself!” was a piece of advice, and not the god's salutation of those who were entering; and so, in order that their dedications too might equally give pieces of useful advice, they wrote these words and dedicated them.
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