Select Page

“I have no doubt, too, they may be very helpful to the uninitiated and those who are still novices, for individual aphorisms in a small compass, rounded off in units rather like lines of verse, become fixed more readily in the mind. It is for this reason that we give children proverbs and what the Greeks call chriae to learn by heart, a child’s mind being able to take these in at a stage when anything more would be beyond its capacity. But in the case of a grown man who has made incontestable progress it is disgraceful to go hunting after gems of wisdom, and prop himself up with a minute number of the best known sayings, and be dependent on his memory as well, it is time he was standing on his own feet. He should be delivering himself of such sayings, not memorizing them.

– –
Assume authority yourself and utter something that may be handed down to posterity. Produce something from your own resources. This is why I look on people like this as a spiritless lot – the people who are forever lurking in someone else’s shadow. They never venture to do for themselves the things they have spent such a long time learning. They exercise their memory on things that are not their own. It is one thing, however, to remember, another to know.”

– Seneca, letters to the boy who would become Emperor Nero

In these times of a never ending stream of memes and quotes, a quote worth considering.