Menander


Old Cantankerous

Experience matures a man. I - 29

[Menander suggests that from having such a cantankerous father the daughter turns out as expected, innocent and good.] I - 37

Delay increases passion dangerously, but quick action produces quick relief. I - 64

When you're in love it is not easy to remember propriety. I - 77

In any sort of business, finding the psychological moment is the secret of success. I - 128

For other people have no idea who is to blame, they simply see the result. II - 245

In my view, all men, be they rich or poor, eventually reach a point where their luck stops or changes. The successful man continues to prosper and flourish only as long as he can accept his good fortune without harming others. But, come the point when his prosperity entices him to commit a crime, then, in my opinion, he takes a turn for the worse. While the needy, provided that in their necessity they keep clear of crime, and accept their poverty like honest men, come in due course into credit, and can expect their shares in life to improve. Let me put it this way: if you are well endowed with worldly goods, don't rely on them too much, and don't despise us because we are poor. Let everyone see that you deserve your prosperity to last. II - 87

When a poor man is wronged, he becomes a very difficult customer. To start with, he gets a lot of sympathy: and then he takes his bad treatment not just as an injury, but as a personal insult. II - 298

Yes, I can see you haven't been in love. What you say on the subject certainly suggests lack of experience. You tell me to give up. But that's no longer in my hands, it's in Gods. II - 347

If the girl hasn't grown up among a pack of women and so knows nothing of 'life's miseries', has had no frightening stories from aunt or nurse, but has been pretty properly brought up by a fierce father who's naturally against all vice - then surely its bliss to win her? II - 381

And look at the way they sacrifice, the devils. They bring hampers and bottles of wine, not for the god's benefit - oh, no - for their own. Piety extends as far as the incense and the cake: that's all put on the fire, so the god can have that. They allow the gods the tail-end, too, and the gall-bladder - they're not edible. But everything else they polish off themselves. III - 449

Honestly, I can't imagine a more useless set of girls anywhere. Nothing in their heads but sex. And then lies, if anyone catches them at it. III - 460

We only learn from bitter experience, it seems. IV - 700

One mistake I did perhaps make, in thinking that I could be completely self-sufficient, and would never need anyone's assistance. Now that I've seen how sudden and unexpected death can be, I realize I was stupid to take that line. You always need to have - and to have handy - someone to help you. When I saw how people lived, calculating everything for profit, I swear I grew cynical, and I never imagined that any man would ever do a disinterested kindness to another. I was wrong. IV - 720

A man really proves his truth worth when, although he's well-off, he's ready to treat a poor man as his equal. A man like that will bear any change of fortune with a good grace. IV - 769

V - 800

A sensible man should never completely despair about anything. There's nothing that can't be achieved by concentration and hard work. V - 860


The Girl From Samos

In the midst of a fair voyage, a storm can suddenly appear from nowhere. Such a storm has often shattered and capsized those who a moment ago were running nicely before the wind. III - 207

Strong wine and young blood can work a lot of mischief, when a man finds at his side someone who has used these things to set a trap for him. III - 340

But consider the target for your bitter anger. V - 697

Don't brood on the one day I came a cropper, and ignore all the others that went before. V - 710


The Arbitration

Whenever there's an issue, justice ought to prevail, everywhere, and its everyone's business to see that it does. II - 231

Seemed like a good idea then. But night brought second thoughts, as it usually does. II - 251

Nature, sir, makes human life precarious: we must make provision to protect it, carefully calculating all possible means of doing so. II - 343

If he's the man responsible, he'll rush right in and give himself away. He's a bit tipsy now, and he'll blurt out the whole story before I even ask. I'll go along with everything he says, and avoid any mistakes by letting him mention details first...I'll side-step any slips by flattery, and the usual platitudes...and before I do all this, I'll go in and cry over the baby and kiss it and ask the woman where she got it. III - 520

That's one smart little girl! No sooner see's that the love-game's no road to freedom, but only to heartache, then off she goes on the other track...You fool, Onesimos, expecting gratitude from a woman. III - 558

It's difficult, Pamphile, for a lady to fight a tart. She fights unfairly, knows more tricks, has no shame, coaxes him more.

[Charisios's sililoquy at 910, pg. 98]

'Nature willed, and Nature knows no laws. For this was woman made.' - Euripides


The Rape of the Locks

But like a Fiend, a jealous Fiend, I didn't wait to ask questions, but fell into a drunken rage. V - 983

To accept an honorable settlement when you're in a strong position - that's proof that you're a true Greek. V - 1008


The Shield

[Daos's lamentation] I - 5 pg 127

It looks now as if continuous success is dangerous - when you've taken a tumble, you're more careful. Confidence made us careless. I - 28

After returning from a countryside that offered plenty of booty, the inevitable happened - most of them were celebrating. I - 47

Everytime I get a job, either somebody dies and I have to shuffle off without my wages, or one of the daugters produces a baby that no one knew about. I - 218

You never know, with luck. Enjoy yourselves while you can. I - 248

Give him the hope of getting more than you offered - that'll bring him down full-tilt, all excited and all on the wrong track. You'll see! And then you'll easily deal with him. He only sees and thinks about what he wants. He'll be a poor judge of reality. II - 323

Grief is very common cause of illness. II - 338

No man alive ever prospers over all. - Euripedes

Man's life is not Providence, but Chance. - Chairemon

I suppose the women are looting in there, like soldiers sacking an enemy city. III - 463

What a wretched life they live, who guard the forts or hold the citadel! If they suspect that everyone can approach them so easily, dagger in hand, what a price they pay!


The Sikyonian

You're a common nuisance, a gasbag, a real pain, if you expect a man who weeps and pleads to be speaking the truth. Nowadays, such behavior is a pretty fair indication that someone's up to no good. That's no way to establish truth: much better to use a small committee.


The Man She Hated

And I want this as passionately as any raving lover. I - A10

Then I call out. "My girl," I say,"I must go out at once to see a man." "What did you say his name was?" - that's what any woman would say - and "Poor dear, in all this rain? Do wait a bit." I - A54

Give me your heart, darling. If you neglect me, you'll make me jealous, depressed, a raving lunatic. I - A87

Well, sir, women are a rotten lot. I - A96

She knows her own business best. III

But why are you still twisting and turning as you offer your contributions, if you're not intending some harm to us. III - 168

Others of my household have clearly been scattered in different directions by War, the common enemy. III - 233

How strange and sad is human life. III - 268

Could he not take what's happened as a rational human being? No: wild boar on the mountain, as they say. But that's not the real trouble. She looked away again as he said "...I do love you, I adore you, Krateia darling. What have I done to offend you? I'll die if you leave me, and then you'll know." She didn't even answer him. IV - 301

I'm in love and there's a rock in my heart. I'm hiding my sickness from my comapanions...how can I bear it? Drink will only strip the bandage from my wound that would rather not be exposed. IV - 362


The Double Deceiver

II - 22 pg 176

III - 91 Pg 178

Pistoclerus's part at 540 pg 180 from Plautus


The Farmer

You can all stop your struggle with poverty - which is a stubborn, cantankerous beast, especially in the city. One should either be rich, I think, or live where there's no one to witness one's misfortune. Country solitude is the answer to this problem. I - 77

It's easy to treat a poor man with contempt, Gorgias, even if his case is absolutely just. For he's thought to be speaking with one motive only - gain. Anyone with a shabby coat is promptly dubbed 'twister' - even if he's the injured party.

The man, whoever he is, who's done damage to your poverty, is heading for trouble. Because what he's damaged is something that could one day be his own. Even if he's very rich, high living is not soundly based. Fortune's stream can dry up very quickly.

The best man, Gorgias, is the one who can best bear injury without losing his control. The quick temper and excessive bitterness is simply a general indication of a poor spirit.


The Toady

You never can tell in this life.

I mean that Heaven favors rogues. We who behave properly never get any proper reward. I - 28

No honest man ever got rich quick. He scrapes and saves for himself, but the other type lays a trap for the long-time saver, and scoops the lot. Life is unfair. I - 43

All princes who ever were, every great leader, governor, garrison-commander, founding father or general - I mean of course those who have been utterly ruined - nowadays come to grief because of one thing only - the toadies...It would be bad judgement on anyone's part to assume the goodwill of anyone who is plotting against you. And if he has no power? Anyone can injure a strong man if he's off guard...and because you seem to be doing nothing that you actually are doing, you've got him off his guard, out of the action and out of the house. You can arrange the rest just as you want. I - 90


Miscellaneous

I used to imagine, Phanias, that rich men, who have no need to borrow money, never spent their nights moaning, tossing and turning, and saying "I'm ruined", but slept sweetly and gently, unlike the poor. But now I see that you people who are known as "well to do" have troubles just like ours. There's surely some family connection between trouble and life. If life's luxurious, trouble's there too: if life brings fame, it brings trouble too: and when life's poor, trouble grows old along with it. - The Harpist

Accept that you are a human being, and an imperfect one at that. And don't set your heart on things beyond your reach. - The Phantom

If you were really ill, you would have to look for a real cure for your illness. But you're not. So invent an imaginary disease and the imaginary cure for it, and imagine it is doing you some good. - The Phantom

If some god were to come to me and say, "Kraton, after death, you can have your life over again, and you can be whatever you like - dog, sheep, goat, human or horse. For a second life you've got to have - that's fixed by Fate. So make your choice", I think I'd say immediately, "Make me anything at all, except a human being - they're the only living things with no justice at all in their good fortune and bad." An exceptional horse is exceptionally well looked after: if you're a good dog, you are much more highly valued than a bad one: a noble cock has special food, and a less well-bred one is actually afraid of the better-bred one. But a human being can be good, of noble birth and fine breeding, and it does him no good at all in the world today. Toad-eaters - they come off best of all, then blackmailers, with slanderers a good third. Better be born a donkey than watch your inferiors living more comfortably than you. - The Girl Possessed

Not a chance has the man who marries poor and starts a family. How foolish he is who fails to keep watch over his nearest and dearest when, if he has bad luck, he can't use money to cover it up, as far as his public life is concerned. No, when the storm breaks, his life is exposed and vulnerable, he has his share of every misery, but of benefits - nothing. My concern is for one man, but my warning for all. - Fragment 335, The Necklace

Any man who's poor and chooses to live in town, is only likely to increase his depression. For when he looks at someone who lives soft and at leisure, then he can see what a wretched life he has. My master made a great mistake. When he lived in the country, he was never really put to the test, for he belonged to the class that has no standing, and he had open space to protect him. - Fragment 336, The Necklace

I maintain, Parmenon, that the happiest man is the one who, after happily viewing these impressive phenomena - the sun which is there for all, the stars, the rain, the clouds and the lightning - soon returns to the place from which he came. whether you live to be a hundred, or have a short life, you will never see these things change, and you will never see anything more impressive. - Fragment 416a, The Changeling

Think of this time I speak of as a public festival, a visit to this world. Crowds, stalls, thieves, gambling - a sheer waste of time. If you leave early, you'll get better lodgings; if you still have funds, you'll have no enemies when you go. The man who stays on grows weary, loses what he had, grows old and miserable and poor as he drifts around, makes enemies, falls prey to plotters, and has a miserable end when he finally departs. - Fragment 416b, The Changeling

You can stop applying your mind, human wit gets nowhere. Luck's quite different, whether Luck's divine or not. Luck controls everything, both upsetting and preserving, but human forethought is mere smoke and nonsense. Take my word for it, and you'll never say I'm wrong. Every thought or word or action - sheer Chance: we just append our signatures. - Fragment 417, The Changeling

We should all - God, how we should - go about marrying as we go about shopping, not asking pointless questions like, "Who was the girl's grandfather? Her grandmother?", while never asking about or investigating the character of the woman you are going to spend your life with. It's folly to rush off to the bank with the dowry-money (so that the manager can assure you its not counterfeit), when its not going to stay in the house for more than a few months. But to ask no questions about the temperament of the woman who's going to settle down in your house for the rest of her life, and thoughtlessly to acquire a wife who's silly and quick-tempered and difficult, and a talker into the bargain! I'll parade my own daughter all round the city - "All potential suitors for this girl, come and talk to her, find out beforehand what sort of pest you'll be marrying." A woman's bound to be a pest, but happy the man who gets the most tolerable pest. - Fragment 581

"Family" will be the death of me. If you love me, mother, don't talk about "his family" every time I mention a man. Its people without any good qualities of their own who rush to support from memorials and "family", and number off their grandfathers. But everybody's got grandfathers! They couldn't have been born if they hadn't. If they can't name them, because they have moved or lost their friend's, they're not necessarily worse than those who can. A man with a good character is a "noble" man, mother, even if he comes from darkest Africa. "A Scythian? Oh, dear!" But Anacharsis was a Scythian! - Fragment 612

The whole animal kingdom is happier - and has more sense - than humankind. To start with, just consider the donkey: he's a poor creature, we all agree - but none of his misfortunes is his own fault, they're all gifts of Nature. But we, quite apart from our inevitable troubles, bring extra troubles on ourselves. We're hurt if we're ignored, angry if we're slandered: a bad dream terrifies us, and an owls cry frightens us into fits. Worries, fancies, ambitions, conventions - all these troubles are gratuitous additions to Nature's gifts. - Fragment 620

My dear young man, if, when your mother bore you, you were to be the only man to do as you liked throughout your life, and always to be happy, and if some Divine power made this bargain with you, then you are right to be aggrieved, for the power has deceived you and done you down. But if you "drew the air which all men share" - to quote a phrase from tragedy - on the same terms as the rest of us, then you must bear this trouble more courageously, and be reasonable. The nub of the matter is this: you're a human being, and no living thing swings more quickly between the heights and the depths. And quite right too. We are weak creatures, but we manage great affairs. When we fall, we bring a lot that's good down with us. Now you, young sir, haven't lost superlative blessings: your present troubles are quite ordinary ones. So put up with the pain which is also, presumably, quite ordinary. - Fragment 740

But I assure you, father, however silly in general a woman may be, she usually shows sense when it comes to her own business. - Papyrus Didot 1 (uncertain Menander)

Life holds no greater blessing for us than friends. Papyrus Ghoran 2 - 138 (uncertain Menander)

Culture makes all men gentle.

Let bravery be thy choice, but not bravado.

The character of a man is known from his conversations.

The sword the body wounds, sharp words the mind.

Riches cover a multitude of woes. - Lady of Andros

The man who runs may fight again. - Monostikoi

I call a fig a fig, a spade a spade.

It is not white hair that engenders wisdom. - Unidentified fragment

All animals are more happy than man. Look, for instance, on yonder ass; all allow him to be miserable; his evils, however, are not brought on by himself and his own fault; he feels only those which nature has inflicted. We, on the contrary, besides our necessary ills, draw upon ourselves a multitude of others.

Chance is a kind of god, for it preserves many things which we do not observe.

He that lends an easy and credulous ear to calumny is either a man of very ill morals or has no more sense and understanding than a child.

Man must be prepared for every event of life, for there is nothing that is durable.

Men are taught virtue and a love of independence by living in the country.

To live is not to live for one's self alone; let us help one another.

It must be that evil communications corrupt good dispositions. - in Dubner's ed. of his "Fragments" app'd to Aristophanes in Didot's "Bibliotheca Groeca", (p. 102, l. 101) [Evil]

Of all wild beasts on earth or in sea, the greatest is a woman. - E Supposititio (p. 182) [Women]

It is as easy to draw back a stone thrown with force from the hand, as to recall a word once spoken. - Ex Incert. Comoed (p. 216) [Words]

Nothing is more useful than silence. - Ex Incert. Comoed (p. 216) [Silence]

Truth, when not sought after, sometimes comes to light. - Ex Verberata (p. 160) [Truth]

[These last 5 were not found in the text of plays and extant fragments that I had read but were taken from a book of quotations and may not be by Menander.]

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