Plutarch’s Moralia

(1129) παρασχόμενος·

λάμπει1 γὰρ ἐν χρείαισιν2 ὥσπερ εὐγενὴς3 Dχαλκός, χρόνῳ δ᾿ ἀργῆσαν ἤμυσεν

οὐ μόνον4 στέγος,5 ὥς φησι Σοφοκλῆς, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἦθος ἀνδρός, οἷον εὐρῶτα καὶ γῆρας ἐν ἀπραξίᾳ δι᾿ ἀγνοίας ἐφελκόμενον. ἡσυχία δὲ κωφὴ καὶ βίος6 ἑδραῖος ἐπὶ7 σχολῆς ἀποκείμενος οὐ σώματα μόνον8 ἀλλὰ καὶ ψυχὰς9 μαραίνει· καὶ καθάπερ τὰ λανθάνοντα τῶν ὑδάτων τῷ περισκιάζεσθαι καὶ καθῆσθαι μὴ ἀπορρέοντα σήπεται, οὕτω τῶν ἀκινήτων βίων, ὡς ἔοικεν, ἄν τι χρήσιμον ἔχωσιν μὴ ἀπορρεόντων μηδὲ πινομένων φθείρονται καὶ ἀπογηράσκουσιν αἱ σύμφυτοι δυνάμεις.

5. Οὐχ ὁρᾷς ὅτι νυκτὸς μὲν10 ἐπιούσης τά τε σώματα δυσεργεῖς βαρύτητες ἴσχουσι11 καὶ τὰς ψυχὰς Eὄκνοι καταλαμβάνουσιν ἀδρανεῖς, καὶ συσταλεὶς ὁ12 λογισμὸς εἰς αὑτὸν13 ὥσπερ πῦρ ἀμαυρὸν ὑπὸ ἀργίας καὶ κατηφείας μικρὰ14 διεσπασμέναις15 πάλλεται φαντασίαις, ὅσον αὐτὸ τὸ ζῆν τὸν ἄνθρωπον ὑποσημαίνων,16


Live Unknown

For not only a “house,” as Sophoclesa says,

grows bright with use, like noble bronze; Disused, it leans at last to ruin.

It is the same with a man’s character, which in the inaction of obscurity collects something like a clogging coat of mould. A repose of which nothing is heard and a life stationary and laid away in leisure withers not only the body but the mind; just as poolsb concealed by overshadowing branches and lying still with no outflow putrefy, so too, it would appear, with quiet lives: as nothing flows from them of any good they have in them and no one drinks of the stream, their inborn powers lose their prime of vigour and fall into decay.

5. Do you not observe how at the onset of night a slow heaviness comes over the body and an inert reluctance over the mind, while our reason, withdrawing into itself like a dim fire, is so indolent and subdued that it flickers in scattered little fits of fancy just enough to indicate that the man is alive; but when the rising sun

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.plutarch-moralia_is_live_unknown_wise_precept.1967