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Menander: Inglorious military vainglory


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Plutarch: Selections on war and peace


From On Inoffensive Self-Praise
Translated by Phillip H. De Lacey and Benedict Einarson

Witness the character in Menander:

He murders me. The feasting makes me thin.
Good God! The wit! The military wit!
What airs he gives himself, the blasted windbag!

These are the feelings and language to which we are prompted not only by soldiers and the newly rich with their flaunting and ostentatious talk, but also by sophists, philosophers, and commanders who are full of their own importance and hold forth on the theme; and if we remember that praise of oneself always involves dispraise from others, that this vainglory has an inglorious end, the audience being left, as Demosthenes says, with a feeling of vexation, not with any belief in the truth of the self-portrait, we shall avoid talking about ourselves unless we have in prospect some great advantage to our hearers or to ourselves.

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