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Quote of the Day- Cowards and Fools

March 10, 2013

“A nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors

will have its laws made by cowards

and its wars fought by fools.”   ― Thucydides 450 BC (pronounced Thu-sid-id-eze)


These are more than clever sounding words.  Thucydides saw their truth.  He was both a Greek historian and a military general.  Read that as a scholar and a warrior.  Human nature has not changed in 2500 years so what he saw then remains true today.  Good governance takes courage, and great warriors need wisdom.

How many of our current politicians would you call brave?  These days we vote for compassion.  How many of our military would you call wise?

Friends, there is trouble in the republic.431px-Thucydides_pushkin01



3 Comments leave one →
  1. John Winterton permalink
    March 12, 2013 1:40 am

    As a student of Thucydides I thought I’d better point out that this quote isn’t in fact from his work, though it is frequently attributed to him on the internet. According to a recent update to the Wikipedia article on Thucydides, it’s from an 1889 biography of General C G Gordon by Sir W F Butler; I haven’t checked the latter, but I do know that it’s not from Thucydides.


  2. Virginia Ross permalink
    March 13, 2013 6:01 am

    Oops; too late. I’ve requoted it already. But Wikipedia as the arbiter of truth? I’m a little skeptical…. (even though I use it to cite, too!)


    • John Winterton permalink
      March 13, 2013 6:44 am

      I’ve personally found that, on many topics, Wikipedia is often rather better than one might think. In the present case, however, my statement that the above quote is definitely not from Thucydides is based on my own repeated reading of his text in both Greek and English, rather than on Wiki.


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