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Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.

  • Anonymous ancient proverb, wrongly attributed to Euripides. The version here is quoted as a "heathen proverb" in Daniel, a Model for Young Men (1854) by William Anderson Scott. The origin of the misattribution to Euripides is unknown. Several variants are quoted in ancient texts, as follows.
  • Variants and derived paraphrases:
    • For cunningly of old

      was the celebrated saying revealed:

      evil sometimes seems good

      to a man whose mind

      a god leads to destruction.

      • Sophocles, Antigone 620-3, a play pre-dating any of Euripides' surviving plays. An ancient commentary explains the passage as a paraphrase of the following, from another, earlier poet.
    • When a god plans harm against a man,

      he first damages the mind of the man he is plotting against.

      • Quoted in the scholia vetera to Sophocles' Antigone620ff., without attribution. The meter (iambic trimeter) suggests that the source of the quotation is a tragic play.
    • For whenever the anger of divine spirits harms someone,

      it first does this: it steals away his mind

      and good sense, and turns his thought to foolishness,

      so that he should know nothing of his mistakes.

      • Attributed to "some of the old poets" by Lycurgus of Athens in his Oratio In Leocratem [Oration Against Leocrates], section 92. Again, the meter suggests that the source is a tragic play. These lines are misattributed to the much earlier semi-mythical statesman Lycurgus of Sparta in a footnote of recent editions of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations and other works.
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โˆ™ 2010-07-09 16:18:07
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