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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

AUTHOR: Sophocles (c. 496–406 B.C.)
QUOTATION: Ignorant men
Don’t know what good they hold in their hands until
They’ve flung it away.
ATTRIBUTION: SOPHOCLES, “Ajax,” trans. John Moore, The Complete Greek Tragedies, ed. David Grene and Richmond Lattimore, vol. 2, p. 250 (1959).

Since there have been numerous translations of this play by Sophocles, these words—spoken by Tecmessa—vary. The translation by George Young, The Dramas of Sophocles, p. 102 (1888) reads, “Men of perverse opinion do not know / The excellence of what is in their hands,/ Till some one dash it from them.”
SUBJECTS: Ignorance