6. Solon

6. SOLON: FOOTNOTES

2 predicaciouns, exhortations; cité, city.

5 sewe, follow; seche, such.

7 dyffuse, renowned.

13 fro, from.

15 holde liberal, considered generosity.

16 mennys, men's.

19 thresour, treasure.

20 lasse, less.

21 richesse, material wealth.

25 soth, truth.

26 seynge, saying; here, their.

28 seth, sees.

30 entremedled, intermingled.

32 dede, did.

34 ho, who; dothe, does.

36 ellis, else.

6. SOLON: EXPLANATORY NOTES

ABBREVIATIONS: B = Dicts and Sayings of the Philosophers, ed. Bühler (1941); CA = Gower's Confessio Amantis; CT = Chaucer's Canterbury Tales; G = Pierpont Morgan Library MS G.66; MED = Middle English Dictionary; OED = Oxford English Dictionary; S = Scrope, Dicts and Sayings of the Philosophers, ed. Schofield (1936).

These explanatory notes cannot hope to provide a complete accounting for the source of every proverbial statement in Dicts and Sayings. That task would be a separate book in its own right. Instead, I have attempted to contextualize this rather heterogeneous body of lore by identifying the people and places named in the text, as well as noting points that may be of interest to students and general readers. Those interested in tracing the source of particular quotations should begin by consulting Whiting's Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases From English Writings Mainly Before 1500. Readers are also invited to consult the thorough notes to Knust's Bocados de Oro, the Spanish translation of the original Arabic ancestor of Dicts and Sayings.

1 Zalon. This is Solon (c. 630-c. 560 BC), an Athenian statesman renowned for his wisdom. Something of a progressive, he instituted reforms that made Athenian government more equitable, and introduced a law code more moderate than that of his predecessor Draco, whose name survives in our modern adjective "draconian" (overly harsh).

Zalon establysshed the lawe in Athenes. Compare this nearly identical passage by Higden's anonymous English translator: "Salon . . . õafe lawes to men of Athenes" (Polychronicon, ed. Lumby, vol. 3, p. 97).

4 he shulde flee from his owen propre wille. The need for man to restrain his "unruly will" was an issue that many medieval writers addressed. See the note to Diogenes, line 17, and the note to Hermes, lines 299-300.

12 undir the swerde and under baner. That is, symbols of military might.

19-22 Here Solon distinguishes between spiritual and material thresour. He notes that the treasure of the wise man (virtue and wisdom) is such that he never loses any by giving it away; material wealth, on the other hand, is an inferior thresour, for once it is given, it is gone.

33 I wepe that that profiteth. A cryptic statement. Perhaps it means that Solon laments that weeping is considered a"profitable" means of expressing grief, whereas presumably a wise man should accept death more stoically.

6. SOLON: TEXTUAL NOTES

26-28 A good soulle sorowith not ne rejoissith nat but whanne she maye see goode thingis and none evell thingis. B adds for she rejoissith after sorowith not ne rejoissith, but such an emendation is not necessary.

32 him a question. The -tion of question is inserted below the end of the line.

 
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[fol. 9v] Zalon establysshed the lawe in Athenes and compyled many bokis of goode
predicaciouns, and was of the same cité of Athenes, whiche was replenysshed of
many wyse men in tho dayes, and made certeigne versis by whiche he taught a man
that he shulde flee from his owen propre wille. And seith: "Whanne thu wilt do
anythinge, sewe nat in alle thinge thyne owen wille, but seche counsell, for by coun-
sell thu shalt undirstande the trouth of thingis." Somme asked him a questioun --
whiche was the moste dyffuse thinge to a man? And he aunsuered and seide: "To
knowe himself and to kepe him in fredom, and that he speke nat in placis where
that he aught nat to speke inne, and to kepe himself from that anger that he maye
nat be amended by, and coveyte nat that thinge that he maye nat have." And seith:
"The thingis of this werlde, lawes and othir, bene susteyned by two maner of
thingis, that is to seye: undir the swerde and under baner." And seith to oon of his
disciples: "Kepe thee fro mocking, for mockinge engendreth hate." And seith that
the vertues of man bene nat of his owen gefte, but these that bene geve him by his
werkis. And somme asked him what thinge shulde be holde liberal, and he aun-
suered and seide: "He that usith liberalitee and coveyteth nat othir mennys goodis."
And somme asked him what thinge was sharper thanne a spere, and he aunsuered:
"the tunge of an evel man." And a riche man asked him what maner goodis were
thei that he hadde, and he aunsuered and seide: "My thresour is suche that no
man maye have it, but yf it be by my wil; and it is nat the lasse for nothing that I
geve awey therof, but thu mayste geve awey none of thi richesse but it wole be the
lasse." And seith: "Yf thu wilt have the love of thi frende, be stedfaste and true to
him; and yf he erre, suffre hym." And seith: "Oon aught nat to preyse a man of
gretter goodnesse than is in him, for himself knoweth wel the trouth whedir he sey
soth or nat." Anothir asked him how a man shulde gete him frendis, and he aun-
suered: "In seynge worship of men behinde here backis." And seith: "A good soulle
sorowith not ne rejoissith nat but whanne she maye see goode thingis and none
evell thingis, nor she soroweth nat but whanne she seth alle evell thingis ande
noone goode; and the good soulle that seth all the worlde seeth the goode thingis,
and the evell thingis so entremedled that she owethe nat gretly to rejoisse nor
gretly to make sorowe." And Zalon loste his sone and beganne to wepe, and oon
asked him a question -- [fol. 10r] what it dede profite him for to wepe. And he aunsuered
and seide: "I wepe that that profiteth." And seith: "A kinge that dothe right and
justyce shal regne and governe his people. And ho that dothe wrong and violence
sekith anothir kinge for to regne for him." And seith: "It longeth to a lord firste
to redresse himself and thanne othir men aftir him, and ellis it were lyke as he
wolde redresse his owen schadowe before himself." And thei asked him how were
townes and citees wel governed. He aunsuered and seide: "Whanne that princes
worken aftir the lawes."


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