Dio Chrysostom, Discourses 74. On Distrust

LCL 385: 208-209

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Dio Chrysostom



Ἐπίστασαί τινας ἤδη βλαβέντας ὑπὸ ἐχθρῶν; Πῶς γὰρ οὔ;


Τί δέ; ὑπὸ τῶν καλουμένων φίλων καὶ συνήθων ἢ καὶ ὑπὸ συγγενῶν τινων, ἐνίους δὲ καὶ ὑπὸ τῶν ἔγγιστα, ἀδελφῶν ἢ υἱῶν ἢ πατέρων;

Ἔγωγε πολλούς.


Τίς οὖν ἡ αἰτία, δι᾿ ἣν οὐ μόνον οἱ ἐχθροὶ τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ἀδικοῦσιν, ἀλλὰ καὶ οἱ λεγόμενοι φίλοι ἀλλήλους καὶ νὴ Δία πολλοὶ καὶ τῶν οὕτως ἀναγκαίων;

Δῆλον ὡς ἡ κακία τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ὑφ᾿ ἧς ἕκαστος, οἶμαι, καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν αὑτῷ βλαβερός.


Πάντας ἄρα δεῖ1 ἐπ᾿ ἴσης φυλάττεσθαι καὶ μὴ πιστεύειν μηδὲν μᾶλλον, κἂν2 φίλος ἢ συνήθης ἢ πρὸς αἵματος εἶναι δοκῇ;

Πάντας, ὡς ὁ λόγος οὗτός φησιν.


Οὐκοῦν ὀρθῶς ἔγραψεν ὁ τοῦτο γράψας τὸ ἔπος·

νᾶφε καὶ μέμνασ᾿3 ἀπιστεῖν· ἄρθρα ταῦτα τᾶν φρενῶν;

2Ἴσως ὀρθῶς.


The Seventy-Fourth Discourse

The Seventy-Fourth Discourse: on Distrust

Dio. Are you aware that in the past there have been persons who have been harmed by enemies?

Interlocutor. Why, of course.

Dio. Well then, have they been harmed by so-called friends and close acquaintances, or even by certain kinsmen, some even by the very closest, brothers or sons or fathers?

Int. Yes indeed, many have been.

Dio. What is the reason, then, that not only do enemies injure their enemies but also the so-called friends injure one another, and, by Heaven, that many even of those who are so closely related act so?

Int. Clearly the reason is found in the depravity of mankind, because of which each, I imagine, is also himself harmful to himself.

Dio. Toward all men, then, one should be equally on his guard, and not be one whit more trustful even if a person is held to be a friend or a close acquaintance or a blood-relative?

Int. Toward all, as this statement of yours declares.

Dio. Then was the author of this verse right when he wrote,

Keep sober and remember to distrust; These are the joints essential to the mind?1

Int. Probably he was.

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.dio_chrysostom-discourses_74_distrust.1951