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Headword: Χαλεπὰ τὰ καλά
Adler number: chi,16
Translated headword: excellent things are difficult
Vetting Status: high
[sc. It is on record that] as Pittakos was laying aside his authority, he said to those who were amazed, "It is difficult to be noble."[1] [Also that] Solon, recognizing his weakness, said, "Excellent things are difficult."[2] For this reason both sayings have become proverbial.
"Excellent things are difficult": they say that Periander of Corinth in the beginning was a popular leader, but later he changed his political loyalty and became tyrannical. From this comes the proverb. But some take "difficult" as meaning "impossible," since even he was unable to maintain his own resolve.
Greek Original:
Χαλεπὰ τὰ καλά: Πιττακὸν ἀποτιθέμενον τὴν ἀρχὴν πρὸς τοὺς θαυμάζοντας εἰπεῖν, χαλεπὸν ἐσθλὸν ἔμμεναι. Σόλωνα δὲ μαλακίαν αὐτοῦ καταγνόντα φάναι, χαλεπὰ τὰ καλά. διὸ καὶ ἑκάτερα παροιμιασθῆναι. Χαλεπὰ τὰ καλά: φασὶ Περίανδρον τὸν Κορίνθιον καταρχὰς μὲν εἶναι δημοτικόν, ὕστερον δὲ τὴν προαίρεσιν μεταβαλόντα, τυραννικὸν γενέσθαι. ὅθεν ἡ παροιμία. οἱ δὲ τὸ χαλεπὰ ἀντὶ τοῦ ἀδύνατα τιθέασιν: ὡς μηδὲ ἐκείνου δυνηθέντος τηρῆσαι τὴν ἑαυτοῦ γνώμην.
cf. Zenobius 6.38 and other paroemiographers; scholia on Plato, Greater Hippias 304E, Cratylus 384A. See also pi 1658.
[1] Pittakos: pi 1659.
[2] Solon: sigma 776, sigma 777. (Here referring to his own weakness, presumably.)
[3] Periander: pi 1067, pi 1068.
Keywords: biography; constitution; daily life; ethics; geography; philosophy; politics; proverbs
Translated by: Catharine Roth on 27 November 2005@00:45:35.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (augmented notes and keywords) on 27 November 2005@05:04:55.
David Whitehead on 7 November 2013@05:26:08.


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