Dio Chrysostom, Discourses 32. To the People of Alexandria

LCL 358: 172-173

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Dio Chrysostom


1Ἆρά γε βούλοισθ᾿ ἄν, ὦ ἄνδρες, σπουδάσαι χρόνον σμικρὸν καὶ προσέχειν; ἐπειδὴ παίζοντες ἀεὶ διατελεῖτε καὶ οὐ προσέχοντες καὶ παιδιᾶς μὲν καὶ ἡδονῆς καὶ γέλωτος, ὡς εἰπεῖν, οὐδέποτε ἀπορεῖτε· καὶ γὰρ αὐτοὶ γελοῖοί ἐστε καὶ ἡδεῖς καὶ διακόνους πολλοὺς τούτων ἔχετε· σπουδῆς 2δὲ ὑμῖν τὴν πᾶσαν ἔνδειαν ὁρῶ οὖσαν. καίτοι τινὲς ἐπαινοῦσιν ὑμᾶς ὡς σοφούς τε καὶ δεινούς, ὅτι τοσαῦται μυριάδες ἀνθρώπων ἅμα καὶ τὰ δέοντα ἐννοεῖτε καὶ ταχὺ φθέγγεσθε ὅ τι ἂν ἐννοήσητε· ἐγὼ δὲ μᾶλλον ἂν ὑμᾶς ἐπῄνουν βραδὺ μὲν φθεγγομένους, ἐγκρατῶς δὲ σιγῶντας, ὀρθῶς δὲ διανοουμένους· ὃ καὶ νῦν ποιήσατε, ἵνα κτήσησθε πρὸς ἐκείνῳ τῷ ἐπαίνῳ καινὸν ἕτερον μείζω τε καὶ σεμνότερον, ὅτι τοσοῦτοι ὄντες λόγων χρησίμων γενομένων ἅπαντες ἐσιωπήσατε, καὶ πρὸς τούτῳ ἐδείξατε ὅτι οὐ μόνον ἐστὲ ἱκανοὶ νοήσαντες εἰπεῖν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀκούσαντες νοῆσαι. χοροῦ μὲν γὰρ ἔπαινος τὸ ἅμα εἰπεῖν, μᾶλλον δὲ οὐδὲ τούτου· τί γάρ, ἂν κοινῇ πάντες ἀποτυγχάνωσι τοῦ μέλους; δήμου δὲ τὸ καλῶς ἀκοῦσαι.

3Νῦν μὲν γὰρ ἁμαρτάνετε τὸ Ἀθηναίων ποτὲ


The Thirty-Second Discourse

The Thirty-Second Discourse: to the People of Alexandria

My friends, would you kindly be serious for a brief while and give heed to my words? For you are forever being frivolous and heedless, and you are practically never at a loss for fun-making and enjoyment and laughter—indeed you yourselves are naturally inclined to laughter and jollity, and you have many who minister to such tendencies—but I find in you a complete lack of seriousness. And yet there are those who praise you for your wisdom and cleverness, asserting that, although you assemble here in thousands, you not only can conceive what is fitting but at the same time are quick to put your conceptions into words. But I for my part should prefer to praise you as being slow to speak, indeed, and self-restrained enough to keep silent, and yet correct of judgement. Pray display these qualities now, in order that you may acquire, in addition to that other praise, new praise of a different nature, both greater and more honourable—for having all become silent in this great throng when useful counsel was being given and, furthermore, for having shown that you can not merely think before you speak but also listen before you formulate your thought. For while it is praising a chorus to say that they all speak the words together in unison—or rather not even a chorus, for what if all in common miss the tune?—the highest praise you can accord a mass-meeting is to say that it listens well.

For nowadays, you know, you make the mistake

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.dio_chrysostom-discourses_32_people_alexandria.1940