Prudenti coepisse dixisse est

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KsSp

Senior Member
Russian (Moscow dialect) - Russia
The fourth and last sentence for today, from Origen's Homilies on Luke.
'Prudenti coepisse dixisse est; licet et hoc ipsum temerarium sit super tali re in populo coepisse sermonem.'
Here is an attempt to interpret it.
'For a considerate person, to begin means to say. Even starting to explain this to people would be unreasonable.'
Here is the context. Not everyone has his own ruler. For example, an Egyptian person has not a 'personal ruler', but the one who is the ruler of Egypt. And then comes this sentence.
Could you please explain what it could mean?
Phew! Sorry for posting several questions at once. There are not many questions left.
Thank you.
 
  • Scholiast

    Senior Member
    Greetings again.

    'For a person of sense, to begin is to speak—even if this (too) may be over-bold [or 'too hasty'], namely to have begun a discourse over such a matter before the public'.

    I cannot at present explain the logical or linguistic connexion with the discussion of rulers of Egypt or anywhere else; but it may be relevant that the Greek verb ἄρχειν (archein) can mean both 'to begin' and 'to rule'. But I'll think about it some more.

    Σ
     
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    KsSp

    Senior Member
    Russian (Moscow dialect) - Russia
    Thank you, Scholiast! Perhaps, it really could imply such connection, since Origen originally (sorry for the pun) produced it in Greek.
     

    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    saluete, KsSp collectoresque

    I have now checked with LSJ. ἄρχειν/ἄρχεσθαι [archein/archesthai = 'to begin'] is quite common, going right back to Homer (e.g. Odyssey 3.68), in the sense of 'start a speech/discourse/story᾽, but usually with some such word as (τοῦ) λόγου or μύθων. But I can see another possible explanation. As I mentioned in # 2, this verb has the overlapping senses of 'to begin' and 'to rule' or 'govern'. Whether in a secular, political, context or an ecclesiastical, public speaking was proportionally more important than written communication for those in positions of responsible leadership and authority (in contrast with today's habits), though naturally ancient Christianity inherited from Judaism the concept, and the texts, of Holy Scripture, which is alien to pre-Christian Graeco-Roman habits of thought, though of course eloquence and rhetoric were certainly not.

    I hope this goes some way towards illuminating the Origen passage.

    Σ

    Edit: the connexion between 'to rule' and 'to begin' is that the primary sense seems to be 'to go/be in front', 'be first [to do something]'. As in the English idiom, 'to lead off'. I have only realised this today.
     
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    KsSp

    Senior Member
    Russian (Moscow dialect) - Russia
    Thank you, Scholiast. This mixture of Latin and Greek subtle references combined with the need for knowledge of cultural peculiarities makes the project even more challenging, so having a person specialising in these things and willing to help is highly appreciated!
     
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