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The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus: A Roman Slave

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  457 ratings  ·  42 reviews
This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern ...more
Paperback, 92 pages
Published November 26th 2008 by Kessinger Publishing (first published 150)
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Remember “A rolling stone gathers no moss” or “Familiarity breeds contempt” ?
This brilliant soul had hundreds more :


#4. To dispute with a drunkard is to debate with an empty house.

#7. To do two things at once is to do neither.

#35. Adversity shows whether we have friends or the shadows of friends.

#40. There can be no alliance between love and fear.

#46. We all seek to know whether we shall be rich, but no one asks whether he shall be good.

#62. Excessive severity misses its own aim.

#65. When G
Apr 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Damned stoics and their timeless wisdom. Do you have to rub it into our faces that we didn't really learn anything in 2000 years? (nothing apparently, except for lightning rods... check mate Syrus!*)

*: 835. It is vain to look for a defense against lightning.

Olivier Goetgeluck
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it

"Adversity shows whether we have friends, or only the shadows of friends."

"Human reason grows rich by self-conquest."

"Conquest over one's self, in the hour of victory, is a double triumph."

"Consult your conscience, rather than public opinion."

"The gain acquired at the expense of reputation, should be counted a loss."

"Wisdom is required by meditation."

"Reflect on everything you hear, by believe only on proof."

"Pleasant is the remembrance of the il
Raoufa Ibrahim
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Publius Syrus was born on the 1st century BC .. he was a Syrian-that's why his name is Syrus- who was brought as a slave to Italy, his master freed and educated him.

How I am introduced to this man? I saw a quote on social media that was referred to him:

"I have often regretted my speech, never my silence"

and I knew this quote, but in arabic version:
ما إن ندمت على سكوتي مرة *** ولقد ندمت على الكلام مرارا
Some say, Omar ibn alKattab said that, some say it's an arabian poem, so I started to ge
Renée Paule
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow ... applies now and always will.

Publius (actually Publilius) Syrus was an ex-slave who was known for his wit, and who also became something of a playwright. All that remains of his output are these maxims or aphorisms. Apparently, they were originally culled from his plays. There also seems to be evidence of interpolation and redaction, so not all of these are necessarily from Publilius Syrus.

There are certainly some recognizable sayings in here that are still with us. Other reviewers had noted some of them already. I also not
Sean Leas
Mar 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
With a brief introduction to Publilus Syrus, this book as its title infers is a collection of thoughts, quotes, and sayings. I enjoyed this book, however I ended up reading a horrendous e-book version that obviously went straight from the scanner to the Internet. That being said I will not hold that against this book, it’s well worth the read. A few of my more favorite Publilius sayings:

“The stolen ox sometimes puts his head out of the stall.”

“It is better to learn late than never.” (A saying
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, shorts
The Romans, it seems, learned much from Aesop. This reads like a more elaborate, laconic version of Aesop. Great as a pocketbook or so if you're the type who likes inspirational quotes. I have nothing against Publius Syrus; I'm quite sure he was a great mimic and actor, but the fragments of his which survive do not make for great reading unless you're into maxims and witticisms. ...more
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a collection of witty aphorisms and proverb-like statements that have survived since classical Roman times. Like the proverbs we find in the wisdom books of the Bible, they are brief gems of wisdom and insight. Often taking an "If a person.....then that person..." rhythm, they are worth pondering and demonstrate just how little human behavior -- and accompanying folly -- has changed over the centuries.

Also, like the wisdom books of the Bible, it is the kind of book that is best nibbled a
Sleepless Dreamer
Apr 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
More like 4.5 but I'll round up.

I'm often angry at the lack of justice in time. This is one of those times. Publius Syrus seems like such a just, decent, human being. Our times are not giving him the attention that he deserves. If I hadn't have stumbled on a list of unknown books, I wouldn't have heard about this, and that's a real pity.

I feel like more people should read this. It has some sayings that are pretty obvious and old fashioned (obviously,and still, I don't enjoy sexism) but some sa
Jun 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hardcopies
This book is a list of moral sayings from Publilius Syrus. Nothing more to it except a little summary about his life that is present in the beginning of the book. The rating is more for the extremely apt nature of those sayings which stand true till date and i'm sure will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. ...more
Shane Orr
Publius Syrus was a Roman slave who won his freedom because of his talents. He became known for acting and writing plays and would influence people like Seneca, and later Shakespeare. This is a collection of his proverbs, many of which are still well-known today, and is all that survives of his works.
Mar 01, 2019 added it
My brain hurts. So many contradictions. Repetitions. Not meant for people to read in three single spurts. Some good vibrations still though, in spite of it being so long ago. I'll try not to write in rhymes anymore. People might think I'm a bore.

Anywhooo, it's very interesting.
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great compendium of ancient quotes from a roman slave, who was freed and became one of the best playwriters in Rome. Myriad pieces of wisdom to live by our lives.
Jessica edobor
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You can learn a lot from reading one quote.

I choose this rating because this book and it's author talk about real life situations that we can all relate to.
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wisdom on every line of this book.

"Death is a blessing to infancy, bitter for youth, too tardy for old age."
Jeffy Joseph
This is an excellent collection of aphoristic wisdom from the stoic era. Most of the sayings are still relevant after all these centuries. But I did find some of them to be questionable by modern standards like - "to do wrong for a master is a meritorious act","A homely woman is one of the most comely of apes","It is not wrong to harm him, who has done wrong to you" etc.. The rest are timeless wisdom in condensed form.

The ones that I liked most are :
"Mighty rivers may easily be leaped at their
John Cairns
May 01, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Since it's badly translated and worse punctuated, any alternative version is more recommendable but it fills a hole in my collection of ancient writings. He was the best Roman mime writer and his sayings are all that survive of him. He confesses his crime who flees the tribunal could've had Assange in mind. A woman's tear is spite's seasoning is interesting. As is Wit is folly in a sage. A rolling stone gathers no moss is probably the origin of that proverb. It is vain to be the pupil of a sage ...more
Joshua Key
Jan 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Some gems of sayings in this book. I would have loved there to be more context and story behind some of his excellent quotes.
Ossian's Dream
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A bit of all the ancient thought is here and of course the love of asceticism and martial virtue is never missing. I was pleasantly surprised by some of the unique insights of Syrus as opposed to other thinkers.
Brian Mikołajczyk
A list of sayings by former Roman Slave Publius Syrus. The man himself is very interesting but this particular volume of sayings just has 1087 one-liner sayings just listed... There needs to be some analysis or common groupings with Chapter headers at least. It was a tiresome read.
Jan 11, 2020 rated it liked it
It was hard to find this book and now when I found it, I feel disappointed. It is just literally a collection of short, one-sentence sayings, numbered. Some of them are well known ("You should hammer your iron while it is glowing hot"), some are interesting, some seems useless. ...more
Juan Campos
Ancient wisdom at its best. 5 stars.
Kamil Rudnicki
Oct 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
It was ok. But I didn't get from the maximis in it any practical. ...more
Isabel Salas
Dec 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I found interesting how we could still apply this book to today's society, we need more people who live under these principles... good advices in a few words. ...more
Kristina Spralja
By all means a source of perennial wisdom. To be consulted in times of adversity.
Bill Goldsworthy
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Would you have a great empire? Rule over yourself." ...more
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Short and sweet. It's a shame I'll forget most of it, but if 1% sticks I consider it a win. ...more
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nice to read a page or two each night and tag your favorites to reflect on.
Apr 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Recommended to Gary by: in Caitlin Doughty's book
Shelves: owned
This is akin to Twitter of morality in the pre-Christian era. These sayings are the common snippets of how to live a life by an eloquent former slave of the Roman era. It is a nice read, a bit archaic for our times, but still meaningful. Of course, if you listen to just about any religious teachings today on a consistent basis, you will recognize much of the teachings.

But then again, as I am going through some of the highlights of his maxims, I am thinking we as a nation with our political situ
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