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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.


  • [Born near Athens, about 382 B.C.; at eighteen won his cause against his unfaithful guardians; defended the liberties of his country against Philip of Macedon; delivered the “Oration on the Crown,” 330; being condemned to pay a heavy fine on the charge of accepting a bribe from a Macedonian, retired to Ægina; returned to Athens on the death of Alexander; took poison on his death being decreed by Antipater, 322.]
  • A man that runs away may fight again.

  • Quoting a line from Menander, when reproached with throwing away his shield at the battle of Chæronea, 338 B.C. Familiar in English by the lines in “Hudibras,” III. 3:—
  • “For those that fly may fight again,
  • Which he can never do that’s slain.”
  • And Goldsmith:—
  • “For he who fights and runs away
  • May live to fight another day.”
  • The Art of Poetry on a New Plan, 1761, II. 147.
  • But the same idea was expressed in a translation from the French, “A Pleasant Satyre or Poesie,” as early as 1595:—
  • “Oft he that doth abide
  • Is cause of his own pain,
  • But he that flieth in good tide
  • Perhaps may fight again.”
  • Here comes the pruner of my periods.

  • His remark whenever he saw Phocion rise to oppose him. “It is uncertain,” says Plutarch, “whether Demosthenes referred to Phocion’s manner of speaking, or to his life and character. The latter might be the case, because he knew that a word or a nod from a man of superior character is more regarded than the long discourses of another.”—Life of Phocion.
  • Demosthenes said of the luxury of Corinth, “One buys repentance there dearly.” Hence the proverb of the impossibility of the poor going there: “It is not given to every one to visit Corinth” (Non cuivis homini contingit adire Corinthum).—HORACE: Epistles, I. 17, 36.
  • When some of the former adversaries of Demosthenes came to him as he was leaving Athens to go into exile, and offered him money, he exclaimed, “What comfort can I have when I leave enemies in this city more generous than it seems possible to find friends in any other?” The same remark is attributed by Plutarch to Æschines, the rival of Demosthenes, when the latter offered him money as he was going into exile. He had impeached Demosthenes in the matter of the crown voted him on motion of Ctesiphon, for rebuilding the walls of Athens at his own expense. Æschines opened a school of rhetoric at Rhodes, where he read to his pupils the oration of Demosthenes on the Crown. When they expressed their admiration of it with much enthusiasm, “What would you have said,” asked their master, “if you had heard the lion himself?”