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Isocrates – Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this one

May 18, 2014

“And do not be surprised that in what I have said there are many things which you know as well as I. This is not from inadvertence on my part, for I have realized all along that among so great a multitude both of mankind in general and their rulers there are some who have uttered one or another of these precepts, some who have heard them, some who have observed other people put them into practice, and some who are carrying them out in their own lives. But the truth is that in discourses of this sort we should not seek novelties, for in these discourses it is not possible to say what is paradoxical or outside the circle of accepted belief; but, rather, we should regard that man as the most accomplished in this field who can collect the greatest number of ideas scattered among the thoughts of all the rest and present them in the best form.”

(from prefatory letter to Nicocles, king of Cyprus, in Isocrates I)

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